Climate Change Denial: an actual conspiracy

One of the funny things about the climate change debate is that, whichever side you're on, you pretty much have to concede that there's a conspiracy.  Either the entire institution of science is cooperating with the liberals to tell a really scary story so that we can cut back on pollution, or high-status, high-influence people are deliberately stoking the fires of climate change denial without regard to the truth of their claims. I mean, obviously, it's the latter.  This article at the Guardian explores the network of donors and think-tanks that are specifically structured to provide resources to climate change deniers.

"Are there both sides of an environmental issue? Probably not," [Whitney Ball, chief executive of the Donors Trust, said]. "Here is the thing. If you look at libertarians, you tend to have a lot of differences on things like defence, immigration, drugs, the war, things like that compared to conservatives. When it comes to issues like the environment, if there are differences, they are not nearly as pronounced."

By 2010, the dark money amounted to $118m distributed to 102 thinktanks or action groups which have a record of denying the existence of a human factor in climate change, or opposing environmental regulations.

The money flowed to Washington thinktanks embedded in Republican party politics, obscure policy forums in Alaska and Tennessee, contrarian scientists at Harvard and lesser institutions, even to buy up DVDs of a film attacking Al Gore.

The ready stream of cash set off a conservative backlash against Barack Obama's environmental agenda that wrecked any chance of Congress taking action on climate change.

The Guardian shared this graph, using data from Greenpeace:

 

This shows that the overwhelming majority of the money is coming from Donors Trust -- although that's not to say the Koch Foundations and Exxon Mobil executives aren't involved there:

And it was all done with a guarantee of complete anonymity for the donors who wished to remain hidden.

"The funding of the denial machine is becoming increasingly invisible to public scrutiny. It's also growing. Budgets for all these different groups are growing," said Kert Davies, research director of Greenpeace, which compiled the data on funding of the anti-climate groups using tax records.

"These groups are increasingly getting money from sources that are anonymous or untraceable. There is no transparency, no accountability for the money. There is no way to tell who is funding them," Davies said.

Concord, Massachusetts bans plastic water bottles

inhabitat.com writes:

Cities across the country have already worked towards banning plastic bags, and now Concord, Massachusetts has become one of the very first communities to ditch the single-use plastic bottle. The result of a three-year effort by local activists and an effective Ban the Bottle campaign, the new bylaw would make it illegal to sell non-sparkling, unflavored liquids in single-serving polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles of 1 liter or less. With exceptions for emergencies, a first offense will garner a warning, the second infraction incurs a $25 fine, and the third transgression earns a $50 fine. Concord’s Health Division is in charge of enforcing the ban starting the first of this year.

(emphasis mine.)

So, this ban doesn't touch soda, or gallons of water, or large-ish bottles of water.  Just the little ones -- like those tiny, part-of-a-serving bottles that are barely even worth drinking.

According to Ban the Bottle, single-serve plastic bottles take 17 million barrels of oil a year to produce, enough fuel to power 1.3 million cars a year. In 2007, Americans used 50 billion bottles, recycling only 23% of that amount. In 2010, the EPA estimated that the US generated 31 million tons of non biodegradable plastic waste. Banning plastic bottles in cities across the country could go a long way to reducing our petroleum footprint.

Altogether, this sounds like an awesome plan to me.  inhabitat.com points out the criticism, though:

Some critics of the ban question the usefulness of the law, observing that those who want to buy single-use bottles can travel a short distance to neighboring cities to purchase them. Some businesses have also taken advantage of a loophole by selling 20 oz bottles, since the legislation only focuses on sizes 1 liter or less. Even so, it is encouraging to see a community make strides towards reducing its impact on the environment and help keep its citizens hydrated and healthy.

Reasons this criticism is nonsense:  Virtually everyone will choose to buy larger bottles or drink tap water rather than drive to another town when they're feeling like an impulse-buy of water.  Furthermore, most people don't stock up on bottled water in tiny, tiny containers.  Also, selling larger bottles isn't getting around the law, it's the intended effect.  That way, any given individual wastes substantially less plastic per unit of water consumed.

I think this is a great law, and I hope it spreads.