Coal Tattoo

We haven’t talked much on Coal Tattoo about the race for West Virginia’s 1st District Congressional seat … but the AP’s Vicki Smith had this interesting bit of information in her story today about yesterday’s debate between Democrat Mike Oliverio and Republican David McKinely:

West Virginia congressional candidates David McKinley and Michael Oliverio agreed Tuesday that federal spending and deficits are out of control, that the science suggesting man is to blame for global warming is questionable, and that Washington needs a change.

The story continues:

They also touched on coal, agreeing that the science behind global warming is questionable. Many scientists have disavowed past climate change research, McKinley said, and he’s waiting for valid science to convince him there’s a problem and whether man is to blame.

“This is an issue that people are using to try to stop the production of coal and the burning of coal in America, and we’ve got to find ways to stand up and say no to that,” he said, calling for more independent research. “I don’t want to listen to Al Gore tell me from a political standpoint that global warming is caused by man because I don’t think he can support it.”

Oliverio agreed, “I’m a bit of a skeptic.”

He said industry has been able to address many emissions issues, and a solution to make coal a cleaner fuel will be found.

Let’s see … last time I checked the basic science —  Carbon dioxide emissions are making the world warmer, humans are causing those emissions, and the impacts could be devastating — was agreed to by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the National Academy of Sciences, and science academies around the world (The AP unfortunately didn’t mention any of that in its story). Just this week, NOAA reported that 2010 is the hottest year on record so far.

Perhaps candidates Oliverio and McKinley could take a few moments to review “An illustrated guide to the latest climate science,” written by Joe Romm on his Climate Progress blog. If they did, they would learn:

In 2009, the scientific literature caught up with what top climate scientists have been saying privately for a few years now:

— Many of the predicted impacts of human-caused climate change are occurring much faster than anybody expected — particularly ice melt, everywhere you look on the planet.

— If we stay anywhere near our current emissions path, we are facing incalculable catastrophes by century’s end, including rapid sea level rise, massive wildfires, widespread Dust-Bowlification, large oceanic dead zones, and 9°F warming — much of which could be all but irreversible for centuries. And that’s not the worst-case scenario!

— The consequences for human health and well being would be extreme.

Or, one of them could eventually head to Congress with their head in the sand and, as Sen. Byrd cautioned, send a message that West Virginia says, “deal me out”. Sen Byrd thought that was a bad idea:

West Virginia would be much smarter to stay at the table. The 20 coal-producing states together hold some powerful political cards. We can have a part in shaping energy policy, but we must be honest brokers if we have any prayer of influencing coal policy on looming issues important to the future of coal like hazardous air pollutants, climate change, and federal dollars for investments in clean coal technology.