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Graph showing that for decades the economy continued growing at a steady pace, after the implementation of a series of environmental regulations that their critics claimed would be economically devastating.
With the announcement this past week of President Obama's new greenhouse gas regulations, Republican knees were jerking to the point of spasms. If this weren't now such a standard reaction, the degree to which Republicans reflexively and dishonestly oppose any and all environmental protections would be astonishing. But Republicans long have proven that they just don't care about the state of the biosphere we just happen to inhabit. This is reason number one why the Republicans shouldn't be allowed anywhere near the corridors of political power. For their part, the traditional media fell back on their usual habit of promoting false balance or framing as politics, for an issue that is actually about scientific facts.

Although President Obama's record had been decidedly mixed on protecting humanity from the most important crisis it has ever faced, that record has been dramatically improving. In June of 2013, Obama's speech on climate change was described by leading climate scientist Michael Mann:

All in all, it is the most aggressive and promising climate plan to come out of the executive branch in years, and President Obama should be applauded for the bold leadership he has shown in confronting the climate change threat head on.
And now, climate scientist John Abraham and environmental scientist Dana Nuccitelli have this response to Obama's new greenhouse gas initiative:
President Obama just announced a major effort to reduce global-warming gases from United States power plants. These new rules, and his prior strong actions on climate change, signify a major shift for the United States. No longer is the U.S. the world laggard on dealing with climate change - we are quickly becoming the leader.

We finally have a president that understands science. We finally have a president that honestly includes scientists as decision makers – rather than effectively muzzle them. We finally have a president that recognizes the social and economic costs of climate change. We finally have a president who is charting a pathway that may lead us to bend the curve of emissions downward so that the most serious climate change consequences are avoided.

Most importantly, we finally have a president who is a world leader.

There is much more, and the entire post at The Guardian website must be read. Because this is reason number one why we need Democrats in the Oval Office.

More below the fold.

The political impact of President Obama's leadership on climate mitigation seems to have been immediate. Just a day after Obama's announcement, China announced its own hard cap on CO2 emissions. But Republicans and their right wing allies don't care about global leadership any more than they care about attempting to prevent a global climate crisis from becoming a global climate catastrophe. So even though the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) just two months ago concluded that averting climate catastrophe would be extremely affordable, if we act now, Republicans are desperately thrashing about in search of a means to prevent that action from happening. They don't even care about the specifics of their supposed rationale, they only care that to prevent that action from happening.

Last year, Abraham and Nuccitelli brilliantly outlined the five stages of climate denialism, which are here condensed:

Stage 1: Deny the Problem Exists
Often when people are first faced with an inconvenient problem, the immediate reaction involves denying its existence. For a long time climate contrarians denied that the planet was warming.

Stage 2: Deny We're the Cause
Once people move beyond denying that the problem exists, they often move to the next stage, denying that we're responsible.

Stage 3: Deny It's a Problem
Once they've progressed through the first two stages and admitted global warming is happening and human-caused, contrarians generally move on to Stage 3, denying it's a problem.

Stage 4: Deny We can Solve It
In his editorial, Roy Spencer bounced between the second and fourth stages of global warming denial, also claiming that solving the problem is too expensive and will hurt the poor. In reality the opposite is true.

Stage 5: It's too Late
Stage 5 global warming denial involves arguing that it's too late to solve the problem, so we shouldn't bother trying (though few climate contrarians have reached this level). Unfortunately this stage can be self-fulfilling. If we wait too long to address the problem, we may end up committing ourselves to catastrophic climate change.

Each of these stages ultimately serves the same function: to undermine the will to act. And with Republicans, their propagandists and their followers having individually internalized some or all of these stages, the inevitable outcome is the claim that acting to solve climate issues is actually a bad thing. As made graphic in the image at the top of this post, the traditional, mindlessly reflexive right-wing response to environmental protections is to claim that they will damage the economy and cost jobs; and as detailed in the opening link of this post, right on cue, Republican reaction to the president's greenhouse gas plan has been mindlessly reflexive. Not to mention a lie.

Peter Gleick explains:

There is a long history of claims that new rules to protect the environment or human health will seriously harm the United States economy. These claims are political fodder, they are provocative, and they are always wrong. In fact, the evidence shows the opposite: environmental regulations consistently produce enormous net benefits to the economy and to human health. In 2008, for example, the United States' environmental technologies and services industry supported 1.7 million jobs. The industry at that time generated approximately $300 billion in revenues and exported goods and services worth $44 billion.
And Gleick points to this peer-reviewed EPA study on the benefits of the 1990 amendments to the Clean Air Act.
EPA chart showing the health benefits of the 1990 amendments to the Clean Air Act

With help from the Cry Wolf Project and others, Gleick also points to previous examples of the right-wing mendacity machine's attacks on environmental responsibility, including:

  • The Wall Street Journal editorial board and auto industry executives wrongly claiming the 1990 Clean Air Act amendment would threaten economic expansion
  • Mobil Oil officials in 1990 wrongly testifying to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce that new cleaner gasoline standards would cause major supply disruptions
  • The National Association of Manufacturers in 1987 wrongly claiming that regulations to reduce acid rain would seriously damage domestic output and employment and lead to a contraction of the entire industrial base
  • The U.S. Chamber of Commerce in 1975 wrongly claiming that Clean Air and Water acts would put millions of people and billions of dollars at risk
  • The CEO of Pennwalt wrongly talking economic chaos, and DuPont wrongly warning of the collapse of entire industries, if the use of ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons were phased out
  • Henry Ford II in 1966 wrongly warning that new seat belt and safety glass rules would force his company to close down

Two things remain consistent: lies that regulations will hurt jobs and the overall economy, and jobs and the overall economy not being hurt after the regulations are implemented. And many of the same lies are being promulgated by many of the same liars when it comes to President Obama's plans for climate mitigation. As explained by Adam Siegel:

Before heading further and in line with the Debunking Handbook, let us start with some basic truths about investing in climate mitigation.
  • Climate mitigation investments will have huge economic returns on that investment ranging from energy efficiency reducing total energy bills to new economic activity surrounding the new technologies and businesses seeking to reduce our climate impact.
  • Climate mitigation investments will have huge corollary benefits — such as improved human health (from reduced allergy risks to reduced emergency room visits with asthma attacks to reduced deaths due to fossil fuel pollution), improved visibility at national parks
  • Climate mitigation will reduce the huge risks associated with climate change and will provide an insurance against the potential that climate change implications could be far worse than standard projections suggest (e.g., the risk that the modeling is erring on the too optimistic side).
  • Climate mitigation is an investment that will provide huge returns — across a spectrum of economic, social, and environmental fronts.

Another simple truth, even proponents of action on environmental issues typically overstate costs and understate benefits for a number of understandable reasons.

But the liars continue to spew their lies, while the facts continue to remain facts. Richard Revesz is the director of the Institute for Policy Integrity at New York University, and in 2012 he led a team that analyzed more than 25 studies of the effect of environmental regulations on jobs:
“We hear often that large swaths of the economy will be wiped out due to one regulation or another,” Revesz said. “Fortunately, and not surprisingly, we don't see those predictions coming true.”
Neither those claiming unemployment catastrophes nor those claiming huge job creation benefits seem to be right. Overall, it's a push.
While studies commissioned by the coal industry warned that millions of jobs could be lost, others conducted by left-leaning think tanks and environmental groups predicted that millions of jobs would be gained, their survey found.

By contrast, the most detailed studies concluded that job losses and gains from environmental regulations essentially balanced out. "When serious studies have been done, the impacts tend to be small -- sometimes positive, sometimes negative, but small," Revesz said.

The full report can be found here (pdf).

But with climate change, we're talking about a crisis unprecedented in human history. If we're talking about employment and economic impact, the most comprehensive analysis of the economic impacts of climate change concluded that its many devastating human and environmental impacts will include a loss of 5 to 20 percent of global GDP—which the lead author of the analysis last year said was an overall under-estimation. Another study concluded that the net benefit of avoiding climate catastrophe would be $615 to $830 trillion. When it comes to taking action to mitigate climate catastrophe, the latest IPCC report could not be more clear:

“It is actually affordable to do it and people are not going to have to sacrifice their aspirations about improved standards of living,” said Professor Jim Skea, an energy expert at Imperial College London and co-chair of the IPCC report team. “It is not a hair-shirt change of lifestyle at all that is being envisaged and there is space for poorer countries to develop too,” Skea told the Guardian."
The same old liars are spewing the same old lies about economic harms caused by environmental regulations. But with climate change, it's not only that we easily can afford to take action, it's that we can't afford not to.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sun Jun 08, 2014 at 01:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Gulf Watchers Group, DK GreenRoots, Climate Change SOS, and Climate Hawks.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Climate Change Deniers... (30+ / 0-)

    ...claim that they don't trust "computer models".

    It should be pointed out that all of these right-wing economic forecasts are based on "computer models" and "forecasts".

  •  GOP on climate change: lies and the lying liars (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Laurence Lewis, James Wells

    who tell them.

  •  we finally have a president who is a world leader" (5+ / 0-)
    Climate mitigation is an investment that will provide huge returns — across a spectrum of economic, social, and environmental fronts.

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "If we appear to seek the unattainable, then let it be known that we do so to avoid the unimaginable." (@eState4Column5)

    by annieli on Sun Jun 08, 2014 at 01:12:42 PM PDT

  •  It should be pointed out... (6+ / 0-)

    ...that the costs of mitigation will be even lower if we act now.

    Right now we have millions of unemployed and underemployed Americans. Many of these people get various benefits (unemployment, welfare, food stamps, medicaid, etc).  The marginal cost of putting them to work building windmills and solar panels is pretty low. We are already paying them anyway.

    Stopping climate change isn't just a good idea for scientific reasons. It's also a huge jobs program.

  •  Very well done piece ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    James Wells, Laurence Lewis

    Here is a different perspective on the five stages ... which is Denial to Determination

    Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

    by A Siegel on Sun Jun 08, 2014 at 01:23:49 PM PDT

  •  Reducing mortality is good for the economy (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Laurence Lewis, BMScott

    Scientists say that after death, people spend a statistically significant amount less than they did when they were alive.

    Thanks for a great roundup of the underlying lie about air pollution control rules, which are among the most effective regulations ever made.

  •  I live in a majority Republican area and I don't (5+ / 0-)

    hear much of an outcry from them.  It's the Republican politicians who represent Big Oil and Big Coal who are getting jacked out of shape.  They need to get the fuck out of the way.

  •  But but but, don't you see what has happened here? (3+ / 0-)

    It's obvious from that graphic that decades of job-killing commie tree hugging environmental legislation finally built up to the 2008 economic crisis! Look for the same graphic to appear on Faux News!

  •  Hmm. Looks like significant economic damage (0+ / 0-)

    occurred at each of your "economy not destroyed" markers.

    Are you saying that we should just shut up and live with it no matter how badly we are hurt so long as "the economy (not) destroyed?

    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

    by dinotrac on Sun Jun 08, 2014 at 03:47:08 PM PDT

    •  I don't think you are reading the chart closely (0+ / 0-)

      enough. If you draw a line through the bumps and dips the trend upward is remarkably consistent...if anything, the curve bends very slightly upward. Economic growth has continued at a rate which, if distributed more equally than our present-day Gilded Age II, would mean every American family would have far more material possessions than in 1929, 1945, 1965, 1989, or 1995. And cleaner air and water (though not clean enough yet) to boot. Your mistake, I think, comes from not taking recessions into account...after all, a recession by definition means growth declines. Thus the 2008 crisis resulted in the most severe recession since the 1930s, yet was accompanied by no environmental legislation. Or, if you look at the 1990 environmental law revision, passed in the midst of a serious recession, was followed starting in 1992 with a long period of growth. If environmental laws caused "significant" economic damage, then the correlation should be unmistakable and it is not.

      "Something has gone very wrong with America, not just its economy, but its ability to function as a democratic nation. And it’s hard to see when or how that wrongness will get fixed." Paul Krugman and Robin Wells

      by Reston history guy on Sun Jun 08, 2014 at 04:19:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't think you are reading it as closely as I (0+ / 0-)

        do.  Look at the graph and what you actually see is a flat line before the economy heads back up.  Each one of those represents unrealized potential.

        Now -- is that an acceptable price?

        That's a different question, but it's not the same as saying there was no economic damage.

        LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

        by dinotrac on Sun Jun 08, 2014 at 05:22:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  well... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Laurence Lewis

          1970 Clean Air Act, followed by economic growth, not a plateau. 1972 Clean Water Act, followed by economic growth. Now, in 1973 there is a major recession, no doubt. And if it was caused by the Endangered Species Act, then yes one could say that--in one case, though not in all--there was economic damage caused by environmental legislation.
               However, I was a graduate student in 1973-74, so my memories of that period are clear. What caused the severe contraction of 1973-1974, coupled with soaring inflation, was the first great oil shock. Shortages of gasoline, natural gas, and heating oil--gas and oil the result of the Arab Oil Embargo--dealt the economy a massive blow. Gasoline doubled in price overnight. This caused inflation but since the money spent on gas flowed out of the country it acted also like a tax on ordinary consumers. Eventually the economy adjusted, and growth resumed--note the 1977 act was in the middle of the strong growth of the second half of the seventies. The plateau that followed, 1980-83, was the direct result of the Federal Reserve attempting to crush inflation by raising interest rates to all time highs and holding them there. My first condo came with an 18% interest rate. The damage of the early 80s was quite real, but it had nothing to do with banning CFC in hairspray.

          "Something has gone very wrong with America, not just its economy, but its ability to function as a democratic nation. And it’s hard to see when or how that wrongness will get fixed." Paul Krugman and Robin Wells

          by Reston history guy on Sun Jun 08, 2014 at 06:03:33 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  try again (0+ / 0-)

      there were some tiny blips in the year after some, and none at all after others, with the overall trend being consistent. and try reading about the consequences if we don't act, mmkay? it's right there in the post.

      The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

      by Laurence Lewis on Sun Jun 08, 2014 at 06:51:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Each? That’s clearly false. There are (0+ / 0-)

      six markers and only two flattenings, at 1973 and 1990.

  •  Leadership (0+ / 0-)

    There are quite a few countries that have been waiting for this leadership from the US.

    I remember when Jimmy Carter put solar collectors on top of the White House. Then Reagan took them down. Once in place and fully implemented, removing these improvements won't be as easy as taking off solar collectors.

    There is no reason why 50% or more of our electricity couldn't be generated by wind alone within 15 to 20 years.


  •  I prefer the argument that reducing carbon (0+ / 0-)

    emissions will reduce economic growth, but climate change is important enough that we need to do it anyway.

    If GHG emissions were not a risk factor, we would not constrain their emission.  The reason we are constraining GHG emissions is solely to reduce adverse climate change effects.

    We should also change development near coastlines to assume a rise in sea level.

    The additional resources needed to reduce CO2 emissions and preparing for climate change means less investment for other activities that bring economic growth, and therefore lowers GDP.

    The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

    by nextstep on Sun Jun 08, 2014 at 09:17:12 PM PDT

  •  climate change/ Kochs (0+ / 0-)

    I think they know that fossil fuels are coming to an end. They are just trying to get the last scraps from the carcass. Using the talking heads to keep people looking one way while they and other 1%'s can make hay while the rest of the world is to sick and poor to care and others scurry around and never get anywhere.
    And while the rest of the world is polluted and the environment is f@#K#$ over and we run around trying to figure it all out, they are the puppet masters (Ted Cruz and the rest of the clueless Teaparty) They have planned out all of this since the 40's-50's or earlier. They already know the planet is ruined. And they've got a plan in place-buying up all they can of the next essential fuel.......water.
    And probably have a bunker all tricked out so they can survive what ever happens. Cuz it's going to get messy.
    These guys are scary bad. We just found out about secret meetings yah? since forever-these guys have plotted. And now we know that they, not the gov, are the ones we should have been tracking.
    They are way out ahead of the pack. And they are loaded for bear.

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