Friday, July 6, 2007

On Eve of Live Earth, Big Oil and GM Still Attacking Gore

The Green Miles will be packing up the Purple Car tomorrow and driving up to New Jersey for the Live Earth climate change awareness concert. I'll get a review posted here next week!

Amazingly, just days before the concert, a front group with ties to General Motors and major funding from Big Oil was still attacking Gore and his beliefs.

James M. Taylor's op-ed appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times, primary employer of that paragon of journalism, Robert Novak. It accuses Gore of citing disproven theories in his recent book, "The Assault on Reason."

Taylor is listed as "a senior fellow for environment policy at the Heartland Institute." It's immediately apparent that Taylor brings no substance to the table -- only a prodigal talent in a favorite conservative tactic, trying to establish a flaw in one of Gore's supporting anecdotes and claiming that one flaw invalidates the entire book. The column is a 681-word "yeah, but ...."

One of Taylor's claims in particular set of my BS alarm:

Gore claims global warming is causing an expansion of African deserts. However, the Sept. 16, 2002, issue of New Scientist reports, "Africa's deserts are in 'spectacular' retreat . . . making farming viable again in what were some of the most arid parts of Africa."
A quick Google search revealed "New Scientist" magazine is not a peer-reviewed scientific journal. Even its own editor admits "New Scientist" is "an ideas magazine - that means writing about hypotheses as well as theories." Not exactly dripping with credibility.

On the other hand, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon says climate change is drying up Africa's farmland, triggering war as groups compete for disappearing resources. And a blue-ribbon panel of 11 of the most senior retired U.S. admirals and generals, not exactly bleeding-heart liberals, says climate change threatens our own national security.

Now to the Heartland Institute. Its SourceWatch page is a veritable who's who of people and companies who profit by denying climate change and trying to keep America addicted to oil.

Just to name a few:

- Walter F. Buchholtz, an ExxonMobil executive, serves as Heartland's Government Relations Advisor
- James L. Johnston, Amoco Corporation (retired), member of Heartland's board of directors
- Thomas Walton, an executive of General Motors Corporation, member of Heartland's board of directors
It's not just leadership that Big Oil contributes to Heartland. According to ExxonSecrets.org, the Heartland Institute has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from ExxonMobil corporate and the ExxonMobil Foundation in just the last decade.

The science behind global warming is sound and solid. The planet is warming, greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels are to blame, and we must cut carbon emissions at least 80% by 2050 at the latest to curb warming's worst effects.

To get the truth, read RealClimate.org. And to learn how to refute climate change deniers like Taylor, read Grist's "How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic."
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