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What Kinds of Scrutiny of Scientists are Legitimate?

This morning, Rep. Raul Grijalva sent letters to seven universities seeking documents related to academics who have testified before Congress on climate change. The requests come in the wake of revelations over the weekend that the Smithsonian Institution agreed not to disclose payments from the Southern Company, a major utility, to fund and review the work of Smithsonian aerospace engineer Willie Soon. As all of the researchers in question have been critical of mainstream climate science, some are wondering if Rep. Grijalva’s requests can be considered a witch hunt. So is it? Read More

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Willie Soon’s Failure to Disclose Industry Funding for Contrarian Climate Research is Another Reason to Support Transparency

My first job in science communication was as an “Explainer” in the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. The program helps visitors – particularly students – understand the forces of flight. Our uniforms included red polo shirts that said “The Explainer Program” on the front and had the name of the company that sponsored the program – Cessna Aircraft – on the sleeve.

I recall this old uniform because the Smithsonian is under scrutiny for an entirely different type of sponsorship that was hidden from public view. Read More

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USA Today Gets it Wrong – The Benefits of EVs Are Real

USA Today recently published a misleading opinion article on electric vehicles. The author, Bjorn Lomborg, claims that electric car benefits are “just myths” repeating many arguments he has made before and to which we at UCS have responded. Through a combination of cherry-picking data, bizarre assumptions and just plain false information, the author asserts that electric vehicles (EVs) produce more air pollution and similar global warming compared to efficient gasoline cars today and dismisses the potential to clean-up the nation’s electricity grid in the future.

Our own analysis shows the opposite. EVs do in fact provide climate benefits today, and electric vehicles powered by a cleaner electricity grid are a key strategy in cutting our nation’s oil consumption and reducing the threat of climate change. Read More

Categories: Fossil Fuels, Vehicles  

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What Snow and the U.S. Army Tell Us About Coal vs. Renewable Energy

Winter has a way of showing what engineers describe as margins for error, and contingencies or unexpected events. When the snow on the road makes your car slide before coming to a stop, you lower your driving speed and increase the distance between you and the car in front of you. Read More

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Shell Promises Climate Risk Disclosure to Shareholders, but What About Its Political Spending?

Yesterday, Royal Dutch Shell made headlines when it announced it would respond to shareholder demands for better consideration and disclosure of the company’s risks from climate change. The move was welcomed by shareholders and activists looking to see Shell better incorporate climate change and its impacts into its business model. Read More

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An Opportunity to Protect Our Drinking Water: Overseeing Fracking and Closing Loopholes

As we’ve discussed here before, the federal government has played a limited role thus far in the regulation and oversight of hydraulic fracturing, leaving states and municipalities to manage a large and fast-paced industry. Today, members of the Senate have a chance to allow the EPA to better protect water resources in oil and gas development across the country. Read More

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President Obama, India’s Prime Minister Modi, and the Opportunity to Cooperate on Climate Change

When I was growing up in New Delhi, the annual Republic Day celebrations were always cause for great national pride. They commemorate the day this large, vibrant democracy’s constitution came into force, after India secured its independence from British colonial rule. This year President Obama will be a special guest for the Republic Day parade, a spectacular display of India’s rich cultural heritage and military might. What I am keenly interested to hear are the ways in which Prime Minister Modi and President Obama plan to cooperate to address one of the biggest challenges facing the world today: climate change. Read More

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As Michigan Governor Looks Beyond Coal, Now Is the Time to Ramp Up Renewable Energy

Big changes to Michigan’s energy policy could be on the table in 2015. Governor Snyder gave a short peek into his energy agenda Tuesday night in his State of the State address where he stressed the need to transition away from coal as a main energy source in Michigan and announced plans to create a new Energy Agency. Read More

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President Obama’s Plan to Cut Methane Emissions: Taking a Closer Look

On Wednesday, the Obama Administration announced a new goal and course of action to cut methane emissions from the oil and gas industry by 40-45 percent from 2012 levels by 2025. It’s a sensible near-term target that helps address one of the most potent contributors to global warming. But will the measures the Administration plans to implement be enough to achieve the goal? Read More

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Three Ways Citizens United Helped Undermine Science Policy Debates

Five years ago next week the Supreme Court issued a decision that would soon have major impacts on our political system.  In Citizens United v. FEC, the court ruled that spending limits violated free speech, opening the floodgates to vastly increased political spending by corporate interests. Read More

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