Climate Change Deniers Converge

This story was written by Faiz Shakir, Amanda Terkel, Satyam Khanna, Matt Corley, Ali Frick, Benjamin Armbruster, and Brad Johnson.

This week, two "international conferences" are convening to discuss markedly different responses to global warming. In New York City, 500 people met for the Heartland Institute's International Conference on Climate Change from Sunday to Tuesday.

The keynote address came from Czech President Vaclav Klaus, who has said, "Global warming is a false myth."

Although this conference for climate change "skeptics" achieved its mission of attaining widespread media coverage, the world has moved on to discussing solutions.

Tuesday marked the beginning of the Washington International Renewable Energy Conference (WIREC). This global, ministerial-level conference was organized by the U.S. government for top officials from dozens of nations, the heads of BP, Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, and other corporations, and representatives from multiple NGOs.

The keynote address will be delivered today by President Bush. Although Bush has been forced to concede the threat of human-induced climate change since 2005, now the question is whether the president will stop "globally talking and nationally postponing" positive action on global warming.

FLAT EARTH REDUX

Unfortunately for the Heartland Institute -- which has been heavily supported by ExxonMobil and right-wing foundations -- the success in drawing mainstream coverage to its sham scientific conference has only emphasized the fact that global warming deniers resemble a Flat Earth Society meeting.

The only product of the convention was a self-published report -- the "work of 23 authors from 15 nations, some of them not scientists" -- "arguing that recent climate change stems from natural causes."

This "yawn fest" of attendees with inflated bios and industry ties were cheered by a presentation from a staffer to Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), who blamed belief in global warming on Leonardo DiCaprio and Barbara Streisand.

As Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change lead author and Princeton University geosciences professor Michael Oppenheimer said, climate change skeptics "have to get together to talk to each other, because nobody else is talking to them."

ADMINISTRATION'S WRONG PRIORITIES

In today's keynote address to WIREC, Bush will likely repeat his State of the Union call to "increase the use of renewable power" consistent with the WIREC mission "to promote widespread adoption of renewable energies such as biofuels, wind, solar, geothermal, and hydropower."

However, Bush has a consistent record of "renewable energy subterfuge" -- lauding the promise of new technologies whileworking instead for the interests of coal, oil, and nuclear industries.

This pattern, established in the days of Vice President Cheney's Energy Task Force, continues unabated. A month ago, Bush submitted a budget to Congress that cuts the Department of Energy energy efficiency and renewable energy budget by 27 percent, including eliminating the Renewable Energy Production Incentive program.

The Bush budgetcalls for hundreds of millions of dollars more for coal and nuclear projects.

TAX CREDITS FOR OIL VS. RENEWABLES

A week ago, Bush threatened to veto the Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act, H.R. 5351. This bill, passed by the House last week, would extend tax credits for renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies by eliminating billions in tax subsidies for oil and gas companies.

In 2005, with the price of oil at $55 per barrel, Bush said the incentives were unnecessary. This week, as oil prices hit historic highs above $102 pe barrel, Bush reversed his stance.

On Tuesday at WIREC, more than 500 companies, investors, and environmental organizations called on Bush to support the House bill. Without passage, which extends many past energy measures, over 116,000 jobs and nearly $19 billion in U.S. investment could be lost.

This represents the fourth time Congress has attempted to pass this legislation; it previously died twice by a single vote in the Senate.
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