The Problem With Climate Deniers


via Peter Gleick.

There’s always something in the data. There’s always a caveat, a preface, some qualification, some uncertainty. There’s an explanation. It’s all a hoax.

Do you engage with climate deniers or ignore them? Are they legitimately questioning science, or are they merely trolling? As long as politicians pay attention to them, I suppose we probably need to push back. It just seems so ridiculous sometimes.

And now there’s this, from U.S. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher:

ROHRABACHER: Just so you know, global warming is a total fraud and it is being designed by—what you’ve got is you’ve got liberals who get elected at the local level want state government to do the work and let them make the decisions. Then, at the state level, they want the federal government to do it. And at the federal government, they want to create global government to control all of our lives. That’s what the game plan is. It’s step by step by step, more and bigger control over our lives by higher levels of government. And global warming is that strategy in spades.… Our freedom to make our choices on transportation and everything else? No, that’s gotta be done by a government official who, by the way, probably comes from Nigeria because he’s a UN government official, not a US government official.

Rep. Rohrabacher is a senior member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. Seriously.



What the IRS Was Doing

In the hubub surrounding the IRS “targeting” of applications for tax-exemptions by groups with “Tea Party” or “patriot” in their names, it’s worth considering what the IRS underlings were actually doing.

A general application for a tax-exempt organization is done on IRS form 1024. (A different IRS form is used for 501(c)(3) charitable organizations that are tax-exempt and for which donations are tax-deductible.) pub irs pdf f1024-3

An initial question asks about the organization’s activities: pub irs pdf f1024-2

And a follow up question, specifically for social welfare 501(c)(4) organizations asks about political activities: pub irs pdf f1024

One can easily understand that an application with inconsistencies in the activities described in the two questions should get some IRS scrutiny. So it is also easy to understand that a proliferation of similar organizations with similar inconsistencies might warrant some shortcuts in a busy IRS office.

That’s not to justify the IRS actions. Indeed, the IRS should be looking at each application objectively on each application’s own merits. Still, as the inevitable investigations begin, it will be interesting to actually see some of the applications by the Tea Party groups that were “targeted” by the IRS. The investigations are likely to cut both ways.

UPDATE 5/13: Ezra Klein and Evan Soltas at WaPo’s Wonkblog say some similar things. 


Who’s Organizing the Ocean Organizers?

Admittedly, I’m only a few months into conserving coasts, but I can completely relate to this essay on the seemingly directionless ocean conservation movement. Although I’d quibble a bit around the edges, the main message appears to be spot on. Smiley-faced, donor-oriented, put-a-shark-on-it ocean campaigning dominates when a tougher, more urgent, and more coordinated effort is necessary. I’m sure that there are very smart people thinking about all of this, but I’m just not seeing it coming out of very many NGOs dedicated to the oceans cause.


West, Texas Fallout So Far


With the President avoiding the topic at the memorial ceremony, and with the larger national media moving on (or not) to other topics, the deeper investigation of the West, Texas disaster is being left to bloggers, NGOs, regional papers and editorial cartoonists. Here’s a roundup of highlights so far:

UPDATE 5/5: More highlights: 


West, Texas

Another unfortunate consequence of the Boston bombings is that the West, Texas explosion will not get the same level of media and public scrutiny it might have otherwise attracted. Indeed, I suspect there are more lessons to be learned, more loopholes to be plugged, and perhaps even more criminals to be prosecuted in Texas than Boston.

The as yet unwritten tick-tock stories from West-comma-Texas should matter to communities across the country. There are thousands of these anonymous facilities with anonymous chemical hazards just across the street from thousands of schools, nursing homes, and apartment complexes.

It is beyond tragic to lose first responders to chemical explosions. It is unfair. Worst case scenarios should never be as bad as West, Texas was.


For the Restaurants-To-Visit List

Arc is emphatically one of the most important restaurants to open in America this decade. Everything at Arc is cooked over live fire, either on the grill, which is fueled with orange wood, or in the brick hearth, which is fueled by almond. The restaurant does not have a conventional range or oven. There is no sautéing, no frying, no sous-vide machine, no salamander, no ice cream maker. Nothing but smoldering charcoal. Anything and everything that gets cooked, gets cooked over wood. Period. The only gas line is on the roof, connected to the water heaters.”  — Brad A. Johnson in OC Register.