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2023 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #42

Posted on 21 October 2023 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news and opinion articles posted on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week: Sun, Oct 15, 2023 thru Sat, Oct 21, 2023.

Story of the Week

Scientists lay out a sweeping roadmap for transitioning the US off fossil fuels

A 600-plus-page report from the National Academies of Science includes 80 recommendations for how the U.S. can achieve its target of net-zero emissions by 2050


Meeting the Biden administration’s goal for the United States to be a net-zero greenhouse gas emitter by 2050 is a monumental challenge that must be tackled at an even more daunting pace. But the nation’s top scientists envisioned that future and laid out a plan for realizing it in a report released on Tuesday. 

In a sweeping 637-page document, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine made 80 recommendations for how the United States can justly and equitably pursue decarbonization policies. It includes recommendations for everything from establishing a carbon tax to phasing out subsidies for high-emissions animal agriculture and codifying environmental justice goals. 

“This report addresses how the nation can best overcome the barriers that will slow or prevent a just energy transition,” said Stephen Pacala, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Princeton University and chair of the committee that authored the latest findings, which build on an earlier report released in 2021. He added that only about a quarter of the recommendations require congressional action, with many being targets at private institutions and federal agencies. There is also a recognition that some changes are unlikely to happen immediately.

“Do we think Congress will go out and pass this? No,” he said. “But maybe a future Congress will.” 

The hope is that these recommendations can eventually help further solidify the impacts that legislation such as last year’s Inflation Reduction Act and the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure law are expected to have. 

Click here to access the entire article as originally posted on the Grist website.

Scientists lay out a sweeping roadmap for transitioning the US off fossil fuels A 600-plus-page report from the National Academies of Science includes 80 recommendations for how the U.S. can achieve its target of net-zero emissions by 2050. by Tik Root, Energy, Grist, Oct 17, 2023

Articles posted on Facebook

Sunday, Oct 15, 2023

Monday, Oct 16, 2023

Tuesday, Oct 17, 2023

Wednesday, Oct 18, 2023

Thursday, Oct 19, 2023

Friday, Oct 20, 2023

Saturday, Oct 21, 2023

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Comments 1 to 7:

  1. John,

    Thanks. This is exactly the kind of exposure/coverage I was hoping to see here.

    I have been disappointed with lack of coverage by the media. It is understandable given recent world events and maybe it is early days. Instead of choosing to cover the overall impact of the release on policy, even the Washington Post chose to zero on a single controversial recommendation, the the banning of natural gas lines in areas that haven't been served.

    An article by Sarah Isgur writing for Politico last year resonated with me.  Here is a quote from that article, 

    "Climate change can’t be fixed in four-year increments. To effectively stem carbon emissions, the country needs a long-term plan that can be followed for 25, 50, even 100 years — something that can only be put in place by the U.S. Congress."

    I think you could argure that this plan would be a good plan to follow and a good plan today beats a perfect plan tomorrow.

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  2. I agree with Just Dean's compliment to the SkS team for highlighting important action that can lead to limiting the damage done by people who want to delay ending of climate change impacts they benefit from.

    I would add that the following NPR news item relates to Just Dean's mention of the selective reporting by the Washington Post. It also relates to the challenge of achieving popular support for the required changes of developed ways of enjoying life and profiting from economic activity:

    How gas utilities used tobacco tactics to avoid gas stove regulations, by Jeff Brady, Climate, NPR, October 17, 2023.

    The NPR includes the following 'rejection of what is required' by the collective of profiteers from natural gas consumption:

    "The gas utility industry is ramping up rhetoric and openly talks about fighting to save its business. In 2021, Harbert told NPR that her industry wants to be part of solving the climate problem and has developed a position statement on the issue. "If the goal is to reduce emissions, we're all in," she told NPR. "If the goal is to put us out of business, not so much.""

    The profit pursuers are willing to participate in profitably reducing the impacts they profit from. But the required rapid ending of the accumulation of global warming impacts is 'contrary to their profit interests'. The undeniable need to end the natural gas utility operations is anathema to them. And, as the NPR reporting clearly indicates, they have spent many decades developing their ability to scientifically fight against limits on their ability to benefit from being more harmful.

    Developed popularity and profitability and the power of misleading marketing to delay corrections of damaging popular and profitable activity is a significant impediment to achieving the required limiting of damage done to the future of humanity.

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  3. Just Dean: Thank you for the positive feedback. Posting links to the above articles on the SkS Facebook page and listing the posts in the Weekly Digest series has been a labor of love for me. 

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  4. So what I'm hearing about this report is that the investors in fossil fuels are effectively circling around the 80 recommendations to develop game plans AGAINST making those recommendations come to fruition, and then the media is beginning to focus on how devious the fossil fuel investors are in using misinformation and obfuscation along the lines of the tobacco mercenaries.

    But where is the political will emerging that will take these recommendations seriously and move them into accomplishments? Why are we not seeing a groundswell of conversations, commitments and policies being passed that embrace these recommendations?  Shouldn't we be asking advocacy, corporate and governmental leadership to be providing, well, leadership?

    Please highlight a list of educational resources, incentives, and campaigns that put these recommendations front and center and help our communities disseminate quality information up front instead of just reacting to well funded disinformation programs designed to delay, dilute and deceive!

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  5. Wilddouglascounty @4,

    Someone may be able to "... highlight a list of educational resources, incentives, and campaigns that put these recommendations front and center ..."

    But, I will start my response with a minor, but important, clarification of your opening comment (edits in bold) “... and then some news media is beginning to focus on how devious the fossil fuel investors are in using misinformation, disinformation, and obfuscation along the lines of the tobacco mercenaries while some media players, especially the ‘social type’, continue to be part of the misinformation and disinformation efforts.

    As for the questions asked ... the answers involve the need for increased critical thinking in pursuit of increased awareness and improved understanding of how to be less harmful and more helpful to others and seeking understanding of the bias of any information source (note that SkS is an excellent resource for that).

    Having a bias towards helpful well-reasoned understanding of ‘all of the relevant evidence’ will produce results that differ from other sources. Such presentations can still be ‘claimed to be biased’. But ‘evidence of bias’ does not make a source ‘unreliable and unhelpful’. It is undeniably more damaging to be biased against more fully informing how to be less harmful and more helpful to others. Examples of that are the ways that Fox News and WUWT have a history of being ‘more biased to be misleading’ than the diversity of sources pointed to by SkS (which also all have a bias).

    The efforts you are asking for already exist. And they have existed for decades. Note that the report and its 80 recommendations are substantially based on the following sources of improved awareness and understanding: The UN Development Programme, the Sustainable Development Goals, and the IPCC Reports. Many political groups, other leadership contenders (business and political), and advocacy groups are aligned with the pursuit of that type of learning and participated in developing the improved understanding.

    The problem is not a lack of effort to increase awareness and improve understanding of how to be less harmful and more helpful. The problem is the success of efforts by people who have interests that are contrary to that type of learning.

    In addition to the many helpful actions of the SkS team, a broad spectrum of books help understand why learning to be less harmful and more helpful is not more popular. I am especially biased towards (fond of - like) “The 9.9 Percent” by Matthew Stewart. "The 9.9 Percent" is an evidence-based book (loads of references) that does of good job of explaining how the most powerful 0.1% win by getting unjustified support from the rest of the top 10% (the 9.9% who also want to maintain unjustified perceptions of status relative to Others). It includes understanding that the actions of the undeserving top 10% are excused by a portion of the remaining 90% because of divisive misunderstanding appealing to ‘personal biases’ that motivates them to try to be 'perceived to be higher-status' like the unjustified top 10%.

    In a nut-shell the required solution involves compromising the ability of the undeserving among the top 0.1 Percent (in wealth and power) to get support from, or be excused by, the top 10% or any of the 90%. Note: 0.1% of the current global population is 8 million. And 10% is 800 million. So over-coming the power of the most unjustified 10 Percent is a massive challenge.

    Things are improving in a sputtering way like: two steps up, three steps back, two more steps up, then another step up, then a step back. Undeniably faster improvement would be better (lots of damage to Others caused by delayed reduction of harm done by the Few). However, the tragically slow improvement, and resulting larger amount of damage done, is not the fault of, or due to, a lack of effort by the people pursuing being less harmful and more helpful to others.

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  6. wilddouglascounty @4,

    Reflecting on my response @4, I have some suggestions along the line of your request for  "...a list of educational resources, incentives, and campaigns that put these recommendations front and center."

    The first recommendation relates to your questions about 'leadership' (including public school board leadership). Learn about the candidates for leadership you can vote for and:

    • do whatever you are able to do to support the candidates that most diligently promote and pursue learning to be less harmful and more helpful to Others (they will likely be well aligned with the pursuit of the 80 recommendations).
    • do whatever you are able to do to oppose the Other candidates. This would include being part of counter-protests when the type of harmful self-interested people the Other type of candidate try to get votes of support from publicly display their damaging (to Others) and unsustainable misunderstandings.

    Some other things you could look into:

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  7. wilddouglascounty,

    There is an additional item of improved understanding regarding leadership to be looked into.

    Skeptical Science New Research for Week #43 2023 highlights the following new item:

    "Misinformation and the epistemic integrity of democracy"

    This new item improves understanding of the dangers of, what can go wrong with, 'popularity and profitability based competition for leadership'.

    Freedom for everyone to believe and do as they please does not develop sustainable improvements.

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