Conservatives Continue to Rewrite History on Kyoto

The conservatives are still out there attacking the media for telling the truth, even when it contradicts their myths. For example, Captain’s Quarters accuses NPR of dishonesty today, after making the same claim about AP two days ago. They continue to deny the fact that George Bush was responsible for the United States pulling out of Kyoto. Today’s post ends with:

The media must think that if they keep repeating the same misinformation long enough, it becomes accepted truth. That says volumes about the competence and the bias at these media operations, and it goes to the heart of their credibility.

Remove “media” from the above and substitute “right wing blogs” and you will have a true sentence. It is the right wing noise machine which makes a practice of repeating the same lies in the hopes that some will believe them.

The conservative line is that “Before Bill Clinton ever submitted it to the Senate for ratification, they voted 95-0 on a resolution informing Clinton that they would not ratify any treaty that didn’t include limits for China and India.” They distort a Senate procedural vote to mean that the Senate voted to oppose Kyoto, ignoring the reality that it was Bush who withdrew the treaty over the opposition of many who voted yes on this vote.

I previously reviewed the facts on the vote being distorted by conservatives. The Natural Resources Defence Council provides information on the resolution:

Q. Did the U.S. Senate vote against ratifying the Kyoto Protocol?

The protocol has never been submitted to the senate for ratification. The Bush administration has referred to a vote on the non-binding Byrd-Hagel resolution, which registered views on some aspects of protocol negotiations. The vote on the Byrd-Hagel resolution took place prior to the conclusion of the Kyoto agreement, and before any of the flexibility mechanisms were established. The resolution was written so broadly that even strong supporters of the Kyoto Protocol, such as senators Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.) voted for it. In doing so, Sen. Kerry said: “It is clear that one of the chief sponsors of this resolution, Senator Byrd . . . agrees … that the prospect of human-induced global warming as an accepted thesis with adverse consequences for all is here, and it is real…. Senator Lieberman, Senator Chafee and I would have worded some things differently… [but] I have come to the conclusion that these words are not a treaty killer.”

Election Guide 2004 had a similar assessment of the resolution:

An example of this relates to the 1997 passage of the Byrd-Hagel Resolution. 17 The Resolution is often portrayed as anti-Kyoto, though it’s not that simple. 18 According to Hagel, the non-binding resolution, submitted in the midst of international negotiations, was “intended to change the course of negotiations”, 19 not to pull out. The treaty was never submitted to the Senate for ratification, although this vote on the Byrd-Hagel Resolution was used by Bush in 2001 to justify pulling out of negotiations. Bush said,

“The Senate’s vote, 95-0, shows that there is a clear consensus that the Kyoto Protocol is an unfair and ineffective means of addressing global climate change concerns.” 2

Similarly, Bush’s campaign website states that the U.S. Senate rejected the treaty. 1

Kerry sees flaws in the protocol, including the weaker requirements imposed on developing nations, but he wants to reopen negotiations, fix them, and move forward. 20

I do find it amusing that many conservatives both deny the need to take action with regards to global warming, but also deny the fact that it was George Bush who withdrew the Kyoto Protocol. You would think they would at least show some consistency here and commend George Bush for doing what they would prefer rather than attempting to rewrite history. (more…)

Don’t Worry, Be Happy As The Temperature Rises

Denialists say the darndest things. We already saw Sam Brownback dance around denial of evolutionary science today. Denialists typically have an agenda beyond the established facts that they are denying, which leads to many variations and limited consistency. In the case of global warming denialists, most argue that the scientific principles held by virtually everybody in the field are false. However, global warming denialists are more motivated by an aversion to doing anything to change their energy use than by a true belief that the science isn’t correct. Some global warming denialists have even given up the claims that the science isn’t correct and have come up with different claims to justify inaction.

I recall hearing one conservative on the radio (I believe it was Jonah Goldberg, but I could be wrong on this) come up with one way to both accept the science and argue that we don’t need to take action. The argument was that we are much more affluent than in the past, and therefore able to accomplish so much more than in the past. Therefore we are bound to be even more affluent in fifty years, and by then the cost of correcting the problems from global warming will be trivial compared to what they are now. Maybe, but that’s a dangerous gamble.

While I don’t have a link to that interview, there was an interview today which I can link to. NPR interviewed NASA administrator Michael Griffin. We’ve known for some time that the political appointees at NASA, and elsewhere in the Bush administration, weren’t appointed for their expertise in science. Maybe Griffin has worked with enough real scientists at NASA to understand the absurdity of arguing with the science in a consensus statement as strong as the one on climate change. He breaks with many conservatives in accepting global warming as fact, but has come up with a unique way to avoid responding to the problem:

It has been mentioned that NASA is not spending as much money as it could to study climate change — global warming — from space. Are you concerned about global warming?

I’m aware that global warming exists. I understand that the bulk of scientific evidence accumulated supports the claim that we’ve had about a one degree centigrade rise in temperature over the last century to within an accuracy of 20 percent. I’m also aware of recent findings that appear to have nailed down — pretty well nailed down the conclusion that much of that is manmade. Whether that is a longterm concern or not, I can’t say.

Do you have any doubt that this is a problem that mankind has to wrestle with?

I have no doubt that … a trend of global warming exists. I am not sure that it is fair to say that it is a problem we must wrestle with. To assume that it is a problem is to assume that the state of Earth’s climate today is the optimal climate, the best climate that we could have or ever have had and that we need to take steps to make sure that it doesn’t change. First of all, I don’t think it’s within the power of human beings to assure that the climate does not change, as millions of years of history have shown. And second of all, I guess I would ask which human beings — where and when — are to be accorded the privilege of deciding that this particular climate that we have right here today, right now is the best climate for all other human beings. I think that’s a rather arrogant position for people to take.

In other words, just because Manhattan might be under water, what right do we have to day that Buffalo shouldn’t be able to enjoy warmer weather? Forget all the economic hardships which such a change to our climate would bring. We must not be arrogant.

Needless to say, not everyone working at NASA agrees. ABC News reports that NASA’s top climate scientist has responded:

Griffin’s comments immediately drew stunned reaction from James Hansen, NASA’s top climate scientist at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York.

“It’s an incredibly arrogant and ignorant statement,” Hansen told ABC News. “It indicates a complete ignorance of understanding the implications of climate change.”

Hansen believes Griffin’s comments fly in the face of well-established scientific knowledge that hundreds of NASA scientists have contributed to.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Hansen. “I thought he had been misquoted. It’s so unbelievable.”

Edwards Contradictory Stories on Reading National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq


During a Google Town Hall, John Edwards now states that he read the confidential National Intelligence Estimate before backing the Iraq War. (Hat tip to Politico.)

This raises the question of why was it stated last week that he hadn’t read the report:

Edwards spokesman Mark Kornblau emails that Edwards didn’t read the classified version. He adds, “As a member of the Senate Committee on Intelligence, he was regularly briefed on the information that appeared in the NIE, which is essentially a summary report.”

If this week’s version of the story is the correct one, and if he had read the report, it becomes even harder to understand why he supported the war. Bob Graham has often cited the fact that he had access to these documents as reasons why he opposed the war:

From my advantaged position, I had earlier concluded that a war with Iraq would be a distraction from the successful and expeditious completion of our aims in Afghanistan. Now I had come to question whether the White House was telling the truth — or even had an interest in knowing the truth.

On Oct. 11, I voted no on the resolution to give the president authority to go to war against Iraq. I was able to apply caveat emptor. Most of my colleagues could not.

Update: The New York Times reports “A spokesman for Mr. Edwards said the candidate had ‘simply misunderstood the question’ and noted that Mr. Edwards had read only a declassified version of the intelligence report.”

Brownback Rejects Science and Reason

Sam Brownback has an op-ed in The New York Times in which he tries to explain why he has stated he does not believe in evolution. The full op-ed needs to be read to appreciate the total lack of rational thought, but his argument can be summed up here:

The question of evolution goes to the heart of this issue. If belief in evolution means simply assenting to microevolution, small changes over time within a species, I am happy to say, as I have in the past, that I believe it to be true. If, on the other hand, it means assenting to an exclusively materialistic, deterministic vision of the world that holds no place for a guiding intelligence, then I reject it.

In other words, he doesn’t care if science has provided an excellent explanation for the development of complex species. He rejects it because it contradicts his religious views. He starts from the position that his religious views are correct, and therefore anything which he feels contradicts these views must be wrong. By the same logic, if someone follows a religion which claims that volcanos erupt to show the wrath of the gods, any scientific explanation for volcanos must be rejected without consideration of the science. Brownback is not only rejecting evolution. By his logic he is rejecting the entire scientific method.

There are people who manage to reconcile both religious thoughts and science. Brownback understands little about evolution, but does understand enough to realize that it does present a problem for his fundamentalist views. Brownback believes that a creator intended for humans to be present in their current form:

The unique and special place of each and every person in creation is a fundamental truth that must be safeguarded. I am wary of any theory that seeks to undermine man’s essential dignity and unique and intended place in the cosmos. I firmly believe that each human person, regardless of circumstance, was willed into being and made for a purpose.

While no stone should be left unturned in seeking to discover the nature of man’s origins, we can say with conviction that we know with certainty at least part of the outcome. Man was not an accident and reflects an image and likeness unique in the created order. Those aspects of evolutionary theory compatible with this truth are a welcome addition to human knowledge. Aspects of these theories that undermine this truth, however, should be firmly rejected as an atheistic theology posing as science.

While there is a tremendous body of scientific research demonstrating the validity of evolution, there is no evidence for this belief beyond religious teachings. Once you understand that facts about the universe should be determined based upon scientific research as opposed to religious faith, there is no longer any argument against evolution. Therefore Brownback must dismiss science where he believes it undermines “this truth,” and in the process dismisses the entire scientific method.