Friday, January 10, 2014

Climate Villains of 2013: The Top 10 Promoters of Environmental Lies

Environmental degradation and climate change are the most serious threats we face, yet there are a number of individuals who continue to use their positions of power to promote arguments which are both inaccurate and destructive. These anti-science Luddites are enemies of environmentalism and arguably some of the worst misanthropes on the planet. Here is a top ten list of the worst perpetrators of climate misinformation in 2013.

1. Tony Abbot

The new Prime Minister of Australia will be remembered by history as a climate denier of the first order. His legacy will be the dismantling of Australia's green dream. Record breaking temperatures and record breaking forest fires in Australia did not deter Abbot and his government from continuing their diabolical mission to undo the nation's world leading effort to reduce emissions. As the final environmental insult of 2013, Abbot did not attend UN sponsored climate talks at the end of the year.

2. Steven Harper

This Canadian Prime Minister will go down in history as the most environmentally destructive leader the nation has ever seen. He has not only systematically dismantled Canada's environmental protections, he has sidelined science, stymied public input and done all within his power to increase Canada's role as a dirty energy superpower. This includes Alberta's tar sands, the world's dirtiest source of oil, which not only contributes to global warming, it poisons the air and water. Thanks to Harper Canada will not meet its emissions targets and the nation, once known for its bucolic splendor is not a Pariah at the UN and in many places around the world.

3. Vladimir Putin

The leader of Russia is using the judiciary as a means of silencing opposition, his corrupt government is responsible for a host of environmental crimes. One of the most notable environmental crimes is his support for fossil fuel and mineral exploitation in the Arctic. He is also well known for the imprisonment of the Arctic 30 for several months after their peaceful protest against a Russian owned Gazprom oil rig.

4. The Koch Brothers

Charles G. and David H. Koch are American brothers who who inherited a fossil fuel empire. Koch Industries is among a small group of companies who are chiefly responsible for global warming and air pollution. The brothers use their wealth and power to subvert America's democracy, and through a number of front groups they publish pseudo-science meant to muddy the scientific certainty associated with anthropogenic climate change and undermine clean energy and renewables in particular. The brothers have spent more than $67 million funding groups that deny climate science. They also are behind a number of efforts to undermine efforts to put a price on carbon including a “No Climate Tax Pledge” which has been signed by more than 400 politicians. Their control over the Republican party makes a mockery of America's democracy.

5. Rupert Murdoch

This media magnate uses his power and influence to serve an anti-environment agenda. His news empire promotes the views of climate deniers and muddies the waters of climate science. He may be best known for his ownership of the climate denying Fox Business Network, this news media outlet is the source of some of the most blatantly ignorant views on climate ever promoted on network television.

6. Rex Tillerson

He is the CEO of ExxonMobil, one of the leading companies contributing to global warming. He is infamous for asking the absurd question, “What good is it to save the planet if humanity suffers?” at a meeting of shareholders in Dallas. The question may be more accurately phrased as, what good is humanity if the Earth, the substrate upon which all life depends, is ravaged by climate change? He completely ignores the costs of climate change, which range from species extinction to mass starvation and deadly extreme weather. Most recently Tillerson dismissed climate change as, “an engineering problem with an engineering solution.”

7. Joseph Bast

He is the president and co-founder of the climate denying Heartland Institute. Bast said, “The IPCC — and all the mainstream media and environmental extremists who cite it uncritically — really have become a joke in the scientific community.” Nothing could be further from the truth, Bast would be a joke if his influence were not so pernicious.

8. Bjorn Lomborg

This Danish political scientist and economist is at the helm of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, whose mission is ostensibly to address global problems and make recommendations on the allocation of available resources. However, Lomberg has used his position to make some inaccurate and damaging statements about climate change. While he is not a climate denier, he thinks that global warming is nothing to worry about. He has criticized clean energy subsidies and promoted fossil fuels. Recently Lomborg wrote an editorial in the U.K. Times that made the absurd comment that “global warming has mostly been a net benefit so far” and will be for decades.

9. James Inhofe

He is the Republican Senator from Oklahoma who best known for being a vocal climate denier. While we expect climate denial from Republicans in the House, he has been an advocate of ignorance from within the upper chamber including the Senate Environment Committee. Thankfully he is no longer the leader of the Senate Environment Committee, but he continues to maintain that climate change is a "conspiracy" and a "hoax."

10. Piers Morgan

This CNN talk show host replaced Larry King. He continues to question the veracity of global warming as "utterly debatable" despite the fact that there is a virtual consensus among climate scientists (97%). He has entertained the views of climate denier Marc Morano at least four times on his show since December 2012.

© 2014, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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