Monday, September 21, 2009

Expensive Stamps

ChrisinParis (AmBlog): Greehouse gas emissions decline during global recession
Maybe that was Wall Street's secret plan all along. They're environmentalists at heart and were only thinking about saving the world. Who knew they were so thoughtful? AFP:
The unpublished IEA study found carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels had dropped significantly this year -- further than in any year in the past four decades.

Falling industrial output is largely responsible for the plunge in emissions, but other factors also played a role, including shelving plans for new coal-fired power stations because of falling demand and lack of financing.
Think Progress: A $1,761 Postage Stamp: How The Glenn Beck Machine Constructed An Attack On Clean Energy Reform
Fox News host Glenn Beck, the new darling of the radical right, is part of a well-coordinated machine to block progressive reform. Yesterday, Beck fanned himself with a giant $1,761 postage stamp, claiming he had uncovered “outright lies” by a “spooky” White House. According to Beck, “buried” Treasury documents reveal that President Obama’s clean energy agenda “is going to cost a lot of money.” He thanked “our friend Chris Horner at CEI” for revealing the “facts” about the “cap and trade energy bill”:
The Department of Treasury issues a report and says, “Here, Mr. President, boy, that looks like it is going to suck. It is going to cost $1,761.” Got it?
Watch it:

How did Glenn Beck come to be waving a giant postage stamp, accusing the president of a “cover-up”? By following the same process that has been used to create other popular Glenn Beck conspiracy theories: that Carol Browner is a socialist, that millions of people marched in the Glenn Beck 9/12 rally, that the EPA suppressed global warming skeptics:
Chris HornerSTEP ONE: “News” generated by right-wing think tank. On September 15, the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Chris Horner begins shopping around two internal Treasury Department memos about cap-and-trade proposals, one written by the Bush administration in November 2008, one written in March 2009. CEI is a corporate-funded think tank that has opposed regulation of dioxin, cigarette smoking, global warming, prescription drugs, alcohol, and bovine growth hormone.
STEP TWO: Right-wing print journalists write “breaking news” story. Chris Horner feeds the documents to Amanda Carpenter at the right-wing Washington Times and libertarian blogger Declan McCullagh at McCullagh’s blog post, “Obama Admin: Cap And Trade Could Cost Families $1,761 A Year,” has a better headline than Carpenter’s “Hot Button” story.
STEP THREE: Promoted by Drudge, story repeated endlessly on right-wing blogs, Twitter, and talk radio. On Wednesday, the Drudge Report promotes McCullagh’s story. The “$1,761″ figure is picked up by Politico’s Ben Smith, Hot Air,, RedState, and hordes of right-wing Tweeters.
STEP FOUR: Republican politicians, right-wing think tanks, and polluter front groups release statements of shock and outrage. Despite the rapid response of the Treasury Department calling the stories “flat out wrong” and “misrepresentations of the facts,” the House Republican Conference, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), the American Petroleum Institute, and the Heritage Foundation promote the figures.
STEP FIVE: On Fox News, Glenn Beck calls President Obama a liar/socialist/Marxist/communist/fascist/racist. On Thursday afternoon, after discussing the story on his radio show in the afternoon, Beck rails for nearly ten minutes about President Obama’s “cover-up” and “outright lies.”
Unreported by Beck, the Congressional Budget Office on Thursday estimated that the average household cost of the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act would be 44 cents per day.
(It should be noted that Ben Smith quickly posted a correction for his blog post when Declan McCullagh’s story was called into question. CBS officials, however, have only made McCullagh stop inflating his job title.)
  •  Note: my congresswoman, Shelly Moore Capito, is participating in this charade.  I sent her a note asking for a correction.  Today I'm going to call her office. 
Think Progress: Romney pushes false claim that cap and trade would cost families $1,761 a year.

At the Values Voter Summit today, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney aggressively attacked President Obama, saying that his policies will “weaken America.” In his litany of complaints, Romney included the latest fabrication that has spread among the right wing — the claim that Treasury Department “secretly calculated” that Obama’s clean energy proposals “would cost the average American family $1,761 a year, the equivalent to a 15% income tax hike.” Watch it:

As Politifact wrote yesterday, the numbers that conservatives like Romney are flinging around are “false.” “Nowhere in the documents does the Treasury Department cite the $1,761 figure,” notes the fact-checking website. Instead, the right is relying on a calculation by libertarian blogger Declan McCullagh, whose methodology for arriving at the number uses “incorrect assumptions and overly simple math.” Dan Weiss notes that the CBO released an updated estimate on the House’s climate legislation, finding that it would cost “$160 per household.” Weiss points out that means “the average household would spend 44 cents per day – less than a postage stamp.”
The utter dishonesty of the repuglicans on all this is why it is impossible to discuss what Matt talks about below . . . 
Yglesias: Population and Climate Change
Lydia DePillis has a depressing item about the role access to contraceptives is playing (or, rather, not playing) in efforts to forestall catastrophic climate change:
Earlier this week, Thomas Wire of the London School of Economics published a study concluding that improved family planning is one of the most effective methods of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions we’ve got. This is something that sustainable-growth advocates have realized for a long time, but the actual numbers are startling: Reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies out there—calculated on the basis of “unmet need,” or women who want contraception but currently don’t have access —is roughly five times as cost-effective as deploying low-carbon technologies like wind, solar, and carbon sequestration. (Treehugger has a good summary.)
So, today, David Fahrenthold of The Washington Post asked around Washington to see what nonprofit and government types thought about this bit of research. As it turns out, the environmental establishment wanted nothing to do with it.
Of course this should be pretty obvious. Efficiency—just not using energy—is the cleanest source of energy at all. And nobody uses less energy than a person who doesn’t even exist. That’s not to say we should be engaging in coercive limits on people’s ability to have children, that would be a cure that’s far worse than the disease. But the evidence is pretty clear that in societies where women are empowered and have access to contraception, that on average they want modest-sized families. And what this study is talking about is specifically what could be accomplished by closing the gap between the level of contraception that people want to have and the level of contraception they’re actually able to maintain. There are dozens of good reasons to think closing that gap would be beneficial, the impact on the environment is one of them, and there’s no reason people should refuse to say that.

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