Mike Huckabee—the evangelical minister, former governor of Arkansas, two-time presidential contender in the Republican primaries, and religio-political commentator—co-founded and runs Ever Bright, a company that markets so-called “Kids Guides” on various subjects, mostly to families who home school their children, although some public school teachers are using them too. Ever Bright has paid millions to Fox News to run ads for the guides, and it also pays for ads on Facebook.
They run the gamut of subject matter, but in an excellent article at Inside Climate News, Keerti Gopal takes special aim at “The Kids Guide to the Truth About Climate Change.” As you might suspect when encountering “the truth about” in a headline on a product from a right-winger who in 2015 said climate change was like “a sunburn,” there are a lot of half-truths and untruths in the guide.
“It’s propaganda,” said Glenn Branch, deputy director of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting fact-based science education, including about evolution and climate change. “It’s highly slanted with a clear ideological message, and it’s very unreliable as a guide to climate change for kids.” [...]
As climate debates remain polarized and politicized, Huckabee’s guide is part of a small but determined contingency of climate disinformation materials marketed to children and families. It also fits into a new niche in the broader landscape of climate skepticism. In recent years, efforts to erode public confidence in mainstream climate science—which have long been orchestrated by the fossil fuel industry—have trended away from outright denial of the climate crisis to a more nuanced narrative that doesn’t deny that the planet is warming but instead suggests it’s been overblown by scientists, politicians and mainstream media, and advocates for continued use of fossil fuels.
A half-truth is a lie with an agenda.
A decade ago, many science deniers were still saying climate change was a hoax. These days, as Gopal notes, the deniers have shifted to the half-truth that the climate is always changing. However, a half-truth is a lie with an agenda. The whole truth is that the climate is always changing but is currently changing faster than it has done since long before homo sapiens left Africa. Scientists say temperatures in the past century have risen 10 times faster than the average warming after ice ages during the past million years.
Half-truths also appear in the guide’s visuals. The chart above shows the vast fluctuations in carbon dioxide atmospheric levels back to 400,000 years ago. Accurate as far as it goes. But it distorts the current situation by stopping concentration of CO2 at 280 parts per million, which is pretty close to the four most recent peaks in past concentrations. just one problem, the average global CO2 concentration in 2022 was not 280 ppm but rather 417.06 ppm. That’s a 2.13 ppm year over year rise, and the 11th consecutive year in which the rise has been more than 2 ppm. That’s what the priests of my youth called a lie of omission. Here’s a truthful chart:
Allison Fisher, who reviewed the guide for Media Matters, said one of the main dangers of materials that deny the severity of climate change like Huckabee’s guide is that they deliberately undermine children’s scientific education. Such materials also take away crucial context for a generation that is already experiencing the impacts of climate change, she added.
“They’re not just trying to create climate skeptics,” Fisher said. “They’re actually eroding trust in science and the scientific community.”
This kids guide is, as Branch laments, propaganda. Which makes it all part of an ever-evolving 45-year anti-science campaign funded by the fossil fuel industry and its marionettes in government at all levels, and aided and abetted by all-too-compliant media. While the science denial message has shifted and the techniques have been supplemented, the simple purpose is now what it always was: create doubt. The idea, obviously, is that if you can create doubt in kids, you’ve got the future.
The trouble for Huckabee and the other fossil fuel propagandists is that kids are getting a taste of that future right now. It’s going to become harder and harder for the deniers to make their case when what’s observable in their own backyards or next door gets compared with the lies.
I strongly urge everyone to read Gopal’s entire piece since a few excerpts can’t do it justice.
It’s Called Summer’: GOP Brushes Off Record Heat Wave
Climate Education Suffers From Partisan Culture Wars
Mr. Beat takes on MIke Huckabee’s “Kids Guide to Fighting Socialism” and Ever Bright’s reputation for tricky subscribing.
Four U.S. senators sent a letter to Merrick Garland Monday, urging the attorney general to sue the fossil fuel industry “for its longstanding and carefully coordinated campaign to mislead consumers and discredit climate science in pursuit of massive profits. The actions of ExxonMobil, Shell, and potentially other fossil fuel companies represent a clear violation of federal racketeering laws, truth in advertising laws, consumer protection laws, and potentially other laws, and the Department must act swiftly to hold them accountable for their unlawful actions.”
Senators Bernie Sanders of (I-Vermont), Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts), Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) wrote that the fossil fuel industry has violated numerous laws in its decades-long effort to promote climate science denial, and that the Justice Department must hold the industry accountable. Eight years ago, Inside Climate News (ICN) reported that Exxon knew in the 1970s from its own scientists that continuing to pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere would perilously warm the planet. ICN reporters wrote:
At a meeting in Exxon Corporation’s headquarters, a senior company scientist named James F. Black addressed an audience of powerful oilmen. Speaking without a text as he flipped through detailed slides, Black delivered a sobering message: carbon dioxide from the world’s use of fossil fuels would warm the planet and could eventually endanger humanity.
“In the first place, there is general scientific agreement that the most likely manner in which mankind is influencing the global climate is through carbon dioxide release from the burning of fossil fuels,” Black told Exxon’s Management Committee, according to a written version he recorded later.
It was July 1977 when Exxon’s leaders received this blunt assessment, well before most of the world had heard of the looming climate crisis.
In their letter, the senators wrote:
More than 40 states and municipalities have filed lawsuits that seek to hold the fossil fuel industry accountable for their illegal campaign of misinformation around the global crisis of climate change.14 The Department of Justice must join the fight and work with partners at theFederal Trade Commission and other law enforcement agencies to file suits against all those who participated in the fossil fuel industry’s illegal conspiracy of lies and deception under federal racketeering laws, truth in advertising laws, consumer protection laws, and any other applicable federal law. The future of our planet depends on it.
Although bituminous coal was first mined in what is now Kentucky in 1750, it was 200 years ago that the state opened its first commercial coal mine. Ever since, mining the black rock has been an economic mainstay, with more than 10 billion tons of the stuff pulled out of surface and underground Kentucky mines.
For decades, Kentucky has been the third largest coal-mining state after West Virginia and Wyoming, with output hovering around 10% of the U.S. total. But while one of six operating U.S. coal mines are still found there, in 2020 Kentucky's coal production fell to its lowest level since 1915, slightly less than 5% of the U.S. total, with fewer than 400 mines in operation, many of them operating with only a handful of the state’s remaining 4,000 miners. Seventy-five years ago, at the peak, there were nearly 76,000.
Along with all the mining has come a prodigious amount of pollution, including the impairment of more than 1,500 miles of Kentucky’s streams, many of them buried when mountaintops are scraped clean of their overburden so that the layers of coal can be reached from the surface rather than with tunnels, with all their perils to miners.
One such operation was the giant ridgetop Starfire Mine. Years ago, Starfire was one of the largest coal mines in the United States, with.more than 300 miners pulling a million tons of coal a year off the ridge. Only two work there now. But soon, 7,000 acres of reclaimed land at Starfire will be home to a $1 billion, 800-megawatt solar farm, a joint project of The Nature Conservancy, BrightNight, and electric pickup truck maker Rivian. When the fourth phase is completed, it will be one of the largest renewable power projects in the nation on the site of a former coal mine.
As part of the project, BrightNight will build a 20-mile transmission line able to carry the output of the Starfire Renewable Energy Project and the output from future renewables plants with an additional 1,000 megawatts of generating capacity. Not only will the Starfire provide clean electricity to surrounding communities, the developers say it will provide up to $150 million in revenue to local government over the life of the project.
Additional reading: You can learn more about the Starfire Renewable Energy Project here and here.
One favored use of brownfields—abandoned and often contaminated industrial sites—is for solar and wind projects. The Environmental Protection Agency calculates there are 13,000 brownfield sites on 22 million acres. These could host operations—93% of them solar powered—with a generating capacity of 2.4 gigawatts, enough to provide electricity for about 750,000 average American homes, according to the agency. Building such a facility on already disturbed land can avoid local opposition to such projects installed on, say, productive farm land.
But there are also other uses besides powering up everyone’s lights, air conditioning, and appliances. One of those is the one-acre NRG Dewey Prairie Garden at the old Jewett, Texas, lignite mine halfway between Dallas and Houston. Since harvesting began in April 2022, the garden has yielded some 10,000 pounds of produce for six food pantries. The garden was conceived and begun in 2013, part of a huge effort to restore the 35,000-acre site where surface mining of soft, brown lignite coal took place on from the early 1900s until 2016 when NRG started replacing it with low-sulfur Wyoming coal to run the 1,688-megawatt Limestone Electric Generation Station.
Texan by Nature manages the garden and estimates it has served approximately 2,000 people a month in Limestone, Freestone, and Leon counties. The project is “one that impacts not just our clients but families across a three-county area,” says Kristy Vandegriff from the Leon Community Food Pantry and Clothes Closet in Jewett. “Statistics show that Leon, Limestone, and Freestone Counties are three of the least healthy counties in the state, with high obesity and diabetes numbers. Being able to offer fresh fruits and vegetables on a regular basis will help our clients make choices for better health.”
A nutritious relief for those 2,000, but a state brimful of abandoned mining and drilling operations, could benefit from a lot more such gardens on reclaimed land. According to the nonprofit Feeding America, food insecurity affects.1.4 million Texas households, around 4 million individual Texans.
Under a 1975 state law, mining companies are required to post a bond for clean-up purposes. Critics, including investigative reporters at the nonprofit Texas Tribune say this is poorly enforced and companies often do a mediocre job of restoration. But not always.
Alexandra Martínez at the Tribune reports:
NRG has bonds totaling $112 million to restore the Jewett mine, a process that began in 1986, a year after mining began. Companies commonly do reclamation work even as they’re still mining a site. The reclamation process can take eight to 12 years.
So far, the company says it has replanted 3,500 acres with native grasses, is creating 700 acres of wetlands and has fully reclaimed 5,590 acres at the Jewett mine.
Additional reading on the Dewey Prairie Garden: It Takes a Village
“What we have seen is the Biden administration has reverted to an all-of-the-above strategy. They are green-lighting one fossil project after another, more drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, a new LNG export facility in Alaska, a massive North Sea drilling operation called the Willow Project, the Mountain Valley Gas Pipeline. And they’ve failed to absolutely educate Americans about the immediacy of the challenge and how dramatically we need to operate in order to take it on.—Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley on Aug. 1
C40 is backing 22 Green & Thriving Neighborhood pilot projects. Hélène Chartier, C40’s Director of Urban Planning and Design, said: “Urban planning and design decisions taken today will have a major impact on our ability to meet emission targets and deliver a good quality of life for an expanding urban population. That’s why C40 is proud to work with partners to support cities around the world as they develop and revitalize their neighborhoods. We encourage architects, urban planners and other city leaders to join this growing global movement and creating green and thriving neighborhoods.”
The Status of Global Climate Litigation: Tracking the Evolution of Legal Action. Today, the United Nations Environment Program, with support from the Sabin Center, has published a survey of global climate change litigation that provides an overview of existing cases and a discussion of their key legal issues: Global Climate Litigation Report: 2023 Status Review. The report builds upon previous reports from 2017 and 2020, providing a comprehensive update on the current state of, and trends in, climate change litigation worldwide. It provides insights into the key legal issues that courts face in climate change cases.
Climate Groups Announce Global Days of Action to 'Propel Renewable Energy Revolution Forward'. The climate justice group 350.org on Monday announced upcoming global days of action—Nov. 3 and 4—aimed at accelerating the worldwide transition to clean energy. "On every continent, in big cities and on small islands, we'll take action to show that a global renewable energy revolution is within our reach," says a new website where people can sign up to participate in what 350.org and its partners are calling Power Up. "We'll spotlight the oil industry's greed and reclaim the money and power to fund a just future powered by the sun and the wind." Those particular days were chosen because they come right after fossil fuel companies are expected to announce their third-quarter profits, which, if the first half of the year is any indication, will be gigantic.
This Summer Is Pointing Us Toward Uncharted Territory by David Wallace-Wells at The New York Times. The environmental journalist Juliet Eilperin called the ocean temperatures “beyond belief”; The Washington Post reported that they had “baffled scientists.” Contemplating the trajectory of Arctic sea ice, the atmospheric scientist Zack Labe wrote memorably about how often he finds himself answering questions about the state of the science these days by saying, “I don’t know.” And for all the uncertainty, many of those watching the changes unfold have a queasy intuition that we may be entering a new climatic regime — and perhaps inching closer to some quite concerning tipping points. “Shocking but not really surprising,” is how NASA’s Gavin Schmidt put it. “Even the things that are unprecedented are not surprising.” That is where we are all living now, in a climate that is both shocking and unsurprising. For several decades, those anxious about global warming have lived in fear of climate prophecies. We are beginning to simply live within them, a process that looks from some vantages like a horror story and from others surprisingly normal.
COP28 must focus on oil and gas phase-out, not distractions like CCS by staff at the Climate Action Tracker. The CAT has released a summary of government action around oil and gas production and exports, showing that even developed countries like the US, Norway, Canada and Australia are all continuing to increase production and exports, and pour subsidies into the sector. [...] "Developed countries have absolutely no excuse: the science tells us new oil and gas investments should have ended yesterday. Richer countries need to lead on this, and set phase-out dates for all fossil fuel production," said Mia Moisio of CAT partner organisation NewClimate Institute. "An oil and gas phase-out agreement is what we should see coming out of COP28, along with agreeing a global target for renewable energy to enable this," she said. Because Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, will preside over the 28th UN climate conference in November, UAE’s action to support oil, gas, and carbon capture and storage casts serious doubts on its ability to broker an ambitious deal.
COP28: Don’t believe ADNOC’s spin over its new climate commitments by Andy Rowell at Oil Change International. At the beginning of 2000s, as concerns about climate change grew, some of the biggest oil companies began to modify their climate change public relations strategies. Instead of denying the evidence to sow doubt, they decided to try and spin their actions in more of a positive light. To try and co-opt the debate. They learnt their strategy from the masters of deception, the tobacco industry. BP was the first to break ranks by changing its old tired logo to a Helios, a Greek sunburst, with its new strapline “beyond petroleum”. BP never did go beyond petroleum, but the company had thrown a gauntlet down to the others to give the smokescreen of at least beginning to take climate change seriously. This week, Occidental announced that it had signed an agreement with ADNOC, the Abu Dhabi National Oil company, to evaluate investment opportunities in the controversial technologies of Carbon, Capture and Storage (CCS), in both the UAE and the US. ADNOC is in the spotlight this year because its head, Sultan al-Jaber, is the host of COP28 climate talks, a choice which has drawn criticism from climate activists and scientists alike. Christiana Figueres, ex-Secretary General of the UNFCC, calls the idea of putting al-Jaber in charge of COP as “dangerous”.
Is Your Favorite Company Greenwashing — Or Even Greenhushing? by Carolyn Fortuna at CleanTechnca. Wouldn’t you think a company that has set green goals would want its customers to know it? Not so fast. A new trend is emerging in the business world in which companies have zero emissions targets but decide not to make them public. It’s called “greenhushing,” and it’s becoming common for companies to stay muted about their climate strategies, whether due to caution, restraint, anxiety, or defiance. Greenhushing has a little in common with greenwashing—it’s actually its counterpart. Let’s determine the nuances and figure out why environmental pressures are pulling and pushing companies in various directions and with curious results.
Right-Wing Think Tank's Climate 'Battle Plan' Wages 'War Against Our Children's Future' by Olivia Rosane at Common Dreams. Close down the Department of Energy's renewable energy office. Cut cash flow to the Environmental Protection Agency's office of environmental justice. Stop the nation's electrical grid from expanding to include wind and solar. These are all items on a right-wing think tank's to-do list for the next Republican presidency. The Heritage Foundation's 2025 Presidential Transition Project released the ninth edition of Mandate for Leadership: The Conservative Promise in April, and that mandate includes significant rollbacks to federal efforts to tackle the climate emergency.. "Make no mistake: this is a battle plan," End Climate Silence founding director Genevieve Guenther tweeted in response to the news. "The war being waged is against our children's future."
Why Polluters’ Greenwashing Works and How to Fight It by Stella Levantesi at DeSmog. A young man goes up a mountain to study the terrain and collect data on his laptop, while epic, orchestral violins play in the background. He’s an ExxonMobil scientist in a company ad that also shows other scientists in a high-tech lab working to develop “low-carbon technologies.” The tagline reads “Advancing Climate Solutions.” The ad uses natural landscapes, futuristic-looking environments, and emotional music to evoke a positive feeling in viewers and to promote the idea that ExxonMobil is not only associated with sustainable business choices but also supporting climate solutions, rather than producing polluting fossil fuels and investing in high-carbon activities that cause climate change. To top it all off, the claim in the tagline promotes the perception that ExxonMobil, and fossil fuel companies more generally, are “part of the solution.” This is what experts refer to as a prime example of corporate greenwashing. The 2021 TV ad was shown to the participants of a recent study, which found this greenwashing had disturbingly persistent effects: Presenting accurate data on the companies’ actual investments in renewable energy sources, compared to their claims about it in the ads, did not fully reverse or correct the greenwashed ads’ initial impact.
The Case Against Both Climate Hope and Climate Despair by Liza Featherstone at The New Republic. As fierce as debates over nuclear energy, carbon capture, or, oddly, bananas, can be, perhaps an even more contentious question among people who work on climate is how we should feel about the climate crisis. First, let’s acknowledge the weird middle ground in which we find ourselves. On the one hand, we’re making more progress than ever on climate change, in ways that would have seemed impossible only a couple years ago: The federal government is spending billions on decarbonization, solar and wind energy have gotten exponentially cheaper, and New York state is going to build publicly funded renewable energy. Then again, we’re seeing the disastrous effects of climate change every day—enduring the worst heat waves on record, breathing pollution from wildfires no matter where we live—and rapidly running out of time to change course. There’s ample fodder for both optimism and pessimism.
(This begins an entire thread by Hayhoe on the subject.)
HALF A DOZEN OTHER THINGS TO READ
International Tiger Day 2023—the highs, lows and the challenges to giving tigers a future by Avinash Basker, at the Environmental Investigative Agency. This year the government of India is celebrating 50 years of its Project Tiger, India’s iconic conservation program for the species and the ecosystems it inhabits. The headline figures from the report are a total of 3,080 individual tigers camera-trapped during the survey, and a minimum population estimate of 3,167 tigers in the country. Given the changes in methodology and coverage that have taken place as the survey and estimation process has evolved, it is difficult to make a simple comparison to the results of previous estimations (the 2006 population estimate was just 1,411 tigers). However, few would argue with the proposition that tiger populations are stable and recovering in significant areas of India. While not a time for complacency, it is perhaps an occasion to commend the contributions of those involved over the past five decades, be they government staff, scientists, members of civil society or the local communities that co-exist with tigers. The report reveals that while the country-level picture looks to be one of steady improvement, progress has not been uniform and some important areas have taken backward steps.
Related reading: Critics decry Nepal minister’s “terrible idea” of “sport hunting” tigers and Trophy Hunting Propaganda Is One More Form of Greenwashing.
How extreme heat hits America's hungry by Ayurella Horn-Muller at Axios. Some Americans are being hit harder than others by the extreme heat wave baking swaths of the country because they can't get enough to eat or drink. The big picture: Food-insecure households are among the most at risk of health and financial hardships during blistering temperatures. They face unique exposure to dehydration and costly relief that further strains dwindling food budgets. Zoom in: One way heat can immediately intensify food insecurity is by making it harder to buy food. "It presents a cumulative burden," said Diana Hernández, a researcher at Columbia University who studies energy, equity, housing and health. "It adds more stress to everyday life. Rather than eating enough, and high-quality, nutritious foods, people are cutting back."
Five Charts That Show the Rise of BYD and the Global Boom in EVs by Joe Weisenthal and Tracy Alloway at Bloomberg Green. When it comes to electric vehicles, the first name that comes to most people’s minds in the U.S. is almost certainly Tesla. But over the last year or so, people are waking up to the fact that China is becoming an EV export powerhouse. In fact, in 2022, BYD Co. sold more vehicles than Tesla did globally. These companies are now the two biggest players in a space that numerous automakers are chasing. In a recent podcast, BloombergNEF analyst Corey Cantor noted that in 2022, BYD leapfrogged Tesla to become the biggest EV maker in the world with more than 1.85 million electric cars sold. That’s a stunning increase from the 200,000 sold in 2019. However, as Cantor notes, it’s not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison. Most of BYD’s EVs are plug-in hybrids while Tesla remains the biggest seller of battery-powered electric vehicles, with 1.3 million sold in 2022.
California Centers Respond to Climate Change With Social Change by George B. Sánchez-Tello at Capital & Main. A regional study of the Southwest found the greatest temperature gap between the wealthiest and poorest neighborhoods in California’s cities—nearly five degrees hotter in low-income neighborhoods on extreme heat days. The same study found temperature disparities within Latino neighborhoods in California were greater than those in urban parts of Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, Colorado, and Texas. Heat has a more severe impact on low-income communities of color, urban and rural. Yet heat death and heat-related illness can be prevented, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Both University of California, Los Angeles and University of Southern California have published guidance to better protect the state’s most vulnerable from excessive heat. In May, California, a leader in the development of resilience centers, announced nearly $100 million in grants as part of a $270 million investment to ease the impact of extreme heat and climate change. Suddenly, resilience centers and hubs are emerging in the ashes of Northern California communities razed by wildfire. Meanwhile, near the Conservatory, Green Meadows Recreation Center in South Los Angeles is getting retrofitted as a center.
Threatened by Climate Change, Food Chain Workers Demand Labor Protections by Grey Moran at Civil Eats. In late July, dairy worker Luis Jiménez spoke to nearly a hundred congressional staff members in Washington, D.C. “We, agricultural workers, face conditions that you cannot even imagine,” he said, advocating for himself and the 21.5 million workers in the food system who are not protected by the farm bill. Jiménez, who co-founded Alianza Agrícola with several other dairy workers, added “We either continue to ignore workers, or we finally step up to the plate and do something historic this year. [...] I believe that farms are the motor for the food chain. I am just asking for what we deserve.” Food system workers have been left out of the past 18 farm bills stretching back to the 1930s, when the first such bill was enacted. The major spending bill was a hallmark of New Deal legislation, and it remains the most significant set of policies impacting the U.S. food system. Yet despite its wide-ranging nature, the bill is notorious for steering around labor. Historically, lawmakers have justified this exclusion by claiming that labor issues don’t fall under the authority of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which administers the agriculture and nutrition programs, authorized every five years, in the expansive bill. Yet advocates and workers want to see that change, as the sweeping bill enters its final months of negotiations.
The Fossil Fuel Industry Is Paying the GOP Handsomely to Deny Climate Change by Rebecca Burns at Jacobin. As climate change unleashed blistering heat, toxic air quality, and deadly floods on millions of Americans this year, congressional Republicans’ two super PACs raked in nearly $4 million from fossil fuel donors, according to new federal election filings reviewed by The Lever. As the donations poured in, Republican lawmakers began adding fine print to congressional spending bills that would hobble the federal government’s efforts to combat climate change. The Congressional Leadership Fund, which backs GOP House candidates, reported receiving more than $950,000 from oil and gas firms and executives during the first half of the year. The donors included top executives at the firms Energy Transfer Partners, United Refining Company, and Midland Energy, whose CEO, Syed Javaid Anwar, contributed $125,000. [...] For fossil fuel interests, recent GOP donations proved to be money well spent. As ecological tipping points approach, and some two-thirds of Americans now worry about what climate change will mean for them personally, congressional Republicans are continuing a campaign of outright climate denial.
After helping prevent extinctions for 50 years, the Endangered Species Act itself may be in peril • How cities can stem the tide of pedestrian deaths from large cars and SUVs • Exxon is "actively exploring" the lithium market as EV demand grows • Physicians: It’s Crucial To Address Gas Stove Emissions • Oil and gas production responsible for $77 billion in annual US health damages: Study • The first US utility-scale offshore wind farm just got the first US-built offshore substation • A Look at How Much Less Antarctic Sea Ice There Is This Year • Small-town GOP officials are torn over Biden’s clean energy cash • World's oceans set new surface temperature record: EU monitor • Why the climate movement doesn’t talk about polar bears anymore • Ancient lake microbes caused global warming during ice age