Category Archives: environment

And she is born into such beauty . . .

Everything is Newt Gingrich’s fault

And I mean everything. Whatever veneer of civility existed in the US Congress was very deliberately extinguished in 1994 by Newt Gingrich when he instructed his caucus that their Democratic colleagues were no longer ‘the opposition’. They were ‘the enemy’.

After that, and after being tossed out by his own party just a few years later, and after a few more wives, and after a near bankruptcy or two, and after a vanity campaign for president, and after being hired by CNN – proving their irrelevance once again – to resurrect the reviled show Crossfire (perfect casting, I must say), comes now his call for John Kerry to resign as Secretary of State. Because climate change you know.

There’s no getting rid of this guy.

aaaaaaaaa

 

This is Mexico City

There are a lot of  people there these days – a bit over 8 million in the city limits, 22 million in the greater city. I find that birds-eye view terrifying in an apocalyptic way.

But then this is Mexico City too . . . perspective is powerful. http://mexfiles.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/zona_rosa1.jpg

Let’s round up some random stupid. Today: Rep. Joe Barton

220px-Joe_Barton_OfficialRep. Joe Barton (R-TX-Tea Party caucus), in Congress since 1985, is Chair Emeritus on the Energy and Commerce Committee. This is from a 2010 hearing on wind turbines:

“Wind is God’s way of balancing heat. Wind is the way you shift heat from areas where it’s hotter to areas where it’s cooler. That’s what wind is. Wouldn’t it be ironic if in the interest of global warming we mandated massive switches to energy, which is a finite resource, which slows the winds down, which causes the temperature to go up? Now, I’m not saying that’s going to happen, Mr. Chairman, but that is definitely something on the massive scale. I mean, it does make some sense. You stop something, you can’t transfer that heat, and the heat goes up. It’s just something to think about.”

Maybe he only plays the fool. Quotes like that take up all the oxygen while:

The organization Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) put Congressman Barton on its CREW’s Most Corrupt Report 2011.[45][46] The article states that on Barton’s 2008 financial disclosure statement, he inaccurately reported on the source of a natural gas interest that he bought into. The share was purchased through a longtime donor and supporter who later died. This was discovered by the Dallas Morning News in 2010.[47] According to the Dallas Morning News article, Barton made over $100,000 on the investment. The article and CREW Report both point out how Barton buying this undervalued asset from an “advisor” on energy issues could be a conflict of interest to the Congressman’s position as the Chair of the House’s Energy Subcommittee.

The Congressman’s ethics have been noticed at home, so he’s had a few challengers lately. Nevertheless, he’s never been re-elected with less than 60% of the vote.

Because we all want smart capable people representing us in Congress, don’t we.

No surprise here . . .

Granted there was major competing news over the last few days, but I’ll go out on a limb and say this chart would look exactly the same in a slow news week.

1172_472887582786122_21677922_n

Frackin’ good! (and better than fracking)

sunflowers2When I see this, I hear a page turning:

Walmart has been adding solar to scores of stores across the country . . . as it plans to become 100 percent renewably powered. . .  The company has aggressively been building out solar on its stores and other buildings.  It’s also been boosting its purchase of renewable energy both directly and indirectly. And it is doing so across the world.

“Walmart has 280 renewable energy projects in operation or under development, and continues to test solar, fuel cells, microwind, offsite wind projects, green power purchases and more,” the company said.

Yeah, but who has the Congress critters firmly in their deep, deep pockets?

Wouldn’t It Be Nice (splendid early Beach Boys)

Gas explosions for profit or bombs for ideology. One good. One very very bad. People still dead. Threat still there. How to choose, how to choose . . . XL baby, XL!

Today, Upworthy brings us a video by activists opposed to the construction of a fracked gas pipeline under the West Side of Manhattan. It includes footage from a PG&E gasline explosion at a similar installation in San Bruno CA. In 2010. Eight dead. 38 Homes leveled. It happened two miles west of San Francisco International Airport. And I never hard of it before. Pipe-from-Sanbruno-explosionDid you? From Wikipedia:

In January 2011, federal investigators reported that they found numerous defective welds in the pipeline.  . .  . On January 13, 2012, an independent audit from the State of California issued a report stating that PG&E had illegally diverted over $100 million from a fund used for safety operations, and instead used it for executive compensation and bonuses.

It’s an all too familiar story.

This graphic shows the blast zone that would be created if an explosion similar to the one that occurred in San Bruno, CA, last year were to happen in Manhattan at the location of the natural gas pipeline proposed for the city by Spectra Energy.

This graphic shows the blast zone that would be created if an explosion similar to the one that occurred in San Bruno, CA, last year were to happen in Manhattan at the location of the natural gas pipeline proposed for the city by Spectra Energy.

But back to New York, the city that never sleeps . . . the pipeline, already under construction, is the project of Spectra Energy. Were their project to suffer an explosion like San Bruno, or like the dozens of others that have happened around the world, it could kill tens of thousands, maybe maim hundreds of thousands, and might even take down the economy of NYC.  The Federal government is spending hundreds of billions, perhaps a trillion or more, to keep us ‘safe’ from terrorists. But developing alternate energy sources is too expensive.Here’s that video from Upworthy:

Portugal is not us, but damn we could learn a few things . . ..

Sure, circumstances are different – maybe a lot different – here than there. But the single most important thing they did was decide to do something. And they went from there.

 Portugal’s electricity network operator announced that renewable energy supplied 70 percent of total consumption in the first quarter of this year. This increase was largely due to favorable weather conditions resulting in increased wind and water flow, as well as lower demand. Portuguese citizens are using less energy and using sources that never run out for the vast majority of what they do use.

. . . Portugal’s investment in modernizing its electricity grid in 2000 has come in handy. Like in many countries, power companies owned their own transmission lines. What the government did in 2000 was to buy all the lines, creating a publicly owned and traded company to operate them. This was used to create a smart grid that renewable energy producers could connect to (encouraged by government-organized auctions to build new wind and hydro plants).

And then there’s this – surprising, and very hopeful:

Other countries have been making steps of their own on renewable power production. The U.S. had a record-breaking year for wind energy in 2012, growing by 28 percent. Sweden is looking to have no dependence on oil by 2020. Australia could be looking at 100 percent renewable energy by 2030. Global solar power world will soon be a net-positive energy source.

Let us yet mock public transit investment. After all, we can have this. Lots of this. And more of this.

Eyesore_201212

At Clusterfuck Nation,  Kunstler says:

Behold the landscape of Happy Motoring in its latest iteration in northern Virginia, that is, the Washington DC suburbs. It’s significant that the very seat of policy and governance in our country is the epicenter of cluelessness about the fate of our tragic car dependency. They just see endless new layers added onto the existing clusterfuck, and you can be sure that money will continue to be created for it — though it is suicidal for our society.

He posted this as the ‘eyesore of the  month’. I’d say he’s got that exactly right. Ugly it is.

No matter: it’s required to say ‘but on the other hand’

But equivalency is essential – we must report both ‘sides’ say our media stars!!! From here:

climate pie chart

And thus does Steve Doocy lead the nation

The climate deniers have had a triumphant run over the last 20 years. Their campaign, financed mostly by the fossil fuel industry, has succeeded in changing American’s attitudes and beliefs. (They had a little help from their friends.)

A recent paper from the Union of Concerned Scientists analyzes how FOX News Channel and the opinion pages of the WSJ reference climate science. The entire thing is here.

 . . . . examined six months of Fox News Channel content and one year of representations in the Wall Street Journal opinion section based on keyword searches for the terms “climate change” and “global warming.” Our team examined transcripts and articles to determine whether these media outlets mentioned climate science, action on climate change (personal action or government policies), both, or neither.

There are charts and specifics a-plenty

Over a recent six-month period, 93 percent of Fox News Channel’s representations of climate science were misleading (37 out of 40 instances). Similarly, over the past year, 81 percent of the representations of climate science in the Wall Street Journal’s opinion section were misleading (39 out of 48 instances).

. . .  the misleading citations include broad dismissals of human-caused climate change, disparaging comments about individual scientists, rejections of climate science as a body of knowledge, and cherry picking of data. . . .  much of this coverage denigrated climate science by either promoting distrust in scientists and scientific institutions or placing acceptance of climate change in an ideological, rather than fact-based, context

 

Even Sharia law might be a bit more enlightened.

Last month, the Texas leg banned ‘critical thinking’ from the public school curriculum. Now, via Andrew Sullivan, there’s this - weep and be ashamed.

Apparently wanting to steer clear of fancy highbrow academic stuff like research or informed assessments, North Carolina has banned using recent science to guide policy making. House Bill 819, which passed today after the governor let the deadline to stop it slip, restricts all sea-level predictions used for policy-making to be based on “historical data,” effectively sending science back to 1900. The law will prevent policy-makers from using a recent study by the state’s Coastal Resources Commission (CRC) which predicted the sea level will rise by 39 inches in the next century. Developers were upset about the prediction that might cause reluctance to invest in the area.[Source]

Official it is. A wonk I am now.

I just listened to 90 minutes of a Senate hearing on the Law of the Sea Treaty. It was compelling. I was fascinated. It featured testimony by really really smart people including the likes of Rumsfeld (war criminal) and John Negroponte (a classic Republican diplomat) and lottsa senators. And others.

I couldn’t’ turn away.

The treaty was first proposed when Nixon was Prez; it was practicallt re-written in the 80′s to satisfy the Reagan administration. We still haven’t signed.

Every living President. Every living Secretary of State. Every living Defense Secretary. Armies of serious military senior officer corp. They’ve all testified or written to advocate signing this treaty.

The rest of the world has signed. We haven’t. Guess who else hasn’t? Yemen. (We seem to be in their company a lot lately.)

Speaking against today was a ‘scholar’ from the Heritage Foundation and my favorite Senator of all time, the climate denial grand poohbah, James Inhofe. Who asked a lot of dumb questions.

I listened and I was fascinated. Is there a badge?

Let the demonizing begin

A Rhode Island company plans to begin construction in 2014 on the Atlantic coast, of the US’s first offshore wind farm.

“We are like tenant farmers chopping down the fence around our house for fuel when we should be using Nature’s inexhaustible sources of energy — sun, wind and tide. … I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.”    Thomas Edison.

 

Julian Lennon is 49 and tomorrow Earth Day is 42

In the 1950′s film Gigi, Maurice Chevalier (I know, you never heard of him)) strolled the boulevards of Paris singing:  “Oh I’m so glad that I am not young anymore”.

None of us iz anymore.

Be kind to your planet.

Climate miscellaney, and saying it isn’t a problem always solves the problem. Right?

Here in my region we’re heading into a third year of serious drought. Last year’s rainfall was 16 inches below normal. Scary, but not as scary as the fact that in just the first three months of this year, we’re already seven inches behind.

Via a trackback to Whatever Works, I discovered Greenfrye‘s blog (here).  It’s a frackin’ good resource for climate information with lots of handy links and includes a “Climate Denial Crock of the Week” feature, an amusing (at first) but ultimately maddening read that also features dozens of delicious videos. (He’s frequently wonky, but there’s plenty there for we mere mortals.)

A few minutes later, I came across this story at the famous lefty rag Scientific American:

LONDON (Reuters) – The world is close to reaching tipping points that will make it irreversibly hotter, making this decade critical in efforts to contain global warming, scientists warned on Monday.

A recent panel (lost link, sorry) of environmentalists said that Al Gore’s movie hurt because it energized the deniers and recast global warming as a political issue instead of a scientific human issue. That rings true; Gore’s traditional opponents – like those chicken hawks who mocked his Vietnam service by saying he wasn’t, you know, in battle carrying a gun so it didn’t count. At least not like it counted sitting on the sidelines taking pot shots at those who did go into battle and came home wiser and with less enthusiasm for sending their younger brothers off to become the next batch of dead soldiers – piled on.

This planet of ours has a problem, but not to worry -  I’ll close my eyes, click my heels, and make it all go away. Easy.

You didn’t know about this because it only happened everywhere else on Planet Earth, just not here in USA! USA! USA!

We look pathetic enough with our insane refusal to address the horrific costs and poor outcomes of our health care system. We look worse yet when we are 5% of the world’s population and use 25% of its energy and when we incarcerate more people per capita (by a huge factor) in the US than any other free nation on earth while hundreds of thousands have died on our streets and still do while we deny that we long ago lost the poorly conceived War on Drugs. And we can pretend that angry eyes aren’t turned our way from South of our border as entire regions become war zones fighting the drug cartels who kill and maim to bring our drugs to us.

The world may sit back and actuallyl enjoy it when our time comes to face the awful truths but meanwhile, I invite them to go ahead – go ahead and just make fun of us for this bit of silliness and greed. We’ve been asking for it.

Earth Hour was observed yesterday across Planet Earth (except, well, you know, here). The story is at Scientific American:

Oh this young fella didn’t leave his brain at the door, no sirreee!

A columnist at Town Hall dot com reviews the new book by Sen. James Inhofe, The Greatest Hoax. Inhofe’s not fooled by all that climate science crap, and young David, who reviews Inhofe’s masterwork, is so aboard. He agrees with most every word and remarkably adds this:

An international carbon tax program is one of the most hideous ideas forged in the minds of men.  Since all known life forms are carbon-based, it is a proposal to control all life. 

He also tells us that there are 408, four-hundred-and-eight-fer-elvis’-sakefootnotes!!!! And as we all know, footnotes!!!! mean it’s all real. I’ve seen this conflation before with conservative books . . . apparently if there are footnotes!!!! that means it’s absolutely to be treated as a scholarly work. I think a great deal was made on FOX News about how Ann Coulter”s last book had 80, eighty-fer-elvis’-sake,  footnotes!!!! (I think half were ibid’s.)

(I have a small book, much treasured, published 22 years ago, called The Next One Hundred Years by Jonathan Weiner. It’s all about that climate science and global warming stuff. It’s barely 200 pages and yet has 54 solid pages of notes and sources. That apparently makes it the bible. )

The chart is from here. Nice site – you might want to visit.

This is a sea change . . . kids don’t want to drive

Really. Tale a look at this chart from Ad Age.  Apparently the trend is common knowledge in the auto, advertising and marketing industries. And probably quite a few others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No one is quite sure why, although young people themselves cite environmental concerns.  And since it’s a 30-year trend, it’s probably not because of unemployment or gas prices.

One theory – and the one that fascinates me – is that things like Skype and Facebook have given younger generations a new way to be together, without actually ‘being together.’

And God laughed

I’m genuinely surprised

My Congressman, Vern Buchanan, occupies a permanent place on CREW’s list of the top ten most corrupt Congress critters. We are of course quite proud.

Vern sends out regular insta-polls to his flock down here (more during election season of course), in which he humbly and sincerely seeks our ‘guidance’. I respond every time, even knowing that these polls are designed to elicit reaction from a target audience and therefore provide the desired answer.

I think ole Vern may be as surprised as I was by today’s vote.

You gets whay you pays for. And climate skeptics pay.

Mouthpieces are a dime a dozen. But they do get busy and quite obedient when the pay is really good. Like $8.6 million. From a single donor. Ever hear of the Heartland Institute? They are a right-wing think tank whose mission is to “cast doubt on climate science”. They’ve been around for a while, doing the dirty, making the world safe for fossil fuels, the ‘free market’ and the extraction industries. But a rash of newly leaked memos and reports – in a world of curtains to hide behind, that’s how we get our information now - gives us a glimpse of what’s behind that curtain . Who funds Heartland?

Most eyes will probably fall first on the “Anonymous Donor” who, the documents show, personally funded Heartland’s “climate change projects” to the tune of $8,602,267 between 2007 and 2011. The largest donation came in 2008 when “he” donated $3.3m – the same year that Heartland began its annual climate change conferences which have attracted just about every prominent climate sceptic since. This mystery donor has apparently pledged a further $1m for “climate change projects” during 2012.

That’s ‘personally funded’. A man. One person. Until now information about their funding had been sparse. The story in The Guardian doesn’t name anyone, but they hint rather nakedly that the wampun comes from  one of those famous American Libertarian brothers, whose ’causes’ usually align well with the growth of their personal wealth. (To be polite, Koch Industries makes some proper token public donations.

Click the chart for a clearer version.

From Greenpeace - IRS data

Of course, they get a little help from their friends.

Many of the Republican Senate candidates are signatories of the Koch Industries’ Americans For Prosperity No Climate Tax pledge and the FreedomWorks Contract From America.

Heartland is also committed to creating an alternate science curriculum in K-12 classrooms – which would be cool, eh? Combined with the ‘creationism’ curriculum, we could produce an entire generation scientifically illiterate.  (Now that’s the way for a world power to stay on top!)

So, we have an anonymous millionaire donor – whose agenda and/or vested interest we know not – funding an effort to discredit the teaching of climate science in schools? How can that ever be justified or considered democratic, let alone judged to be in the pupils’ best interests?

But the dropping of jaws doesn’t end there. Next up, we learn that Heartland paid a team of writers $388,000 in 2011 to write a series of reports “to undermine the official United Nation’s IPCC reports”. Not critique, challenge, or analyse the IPCC’s reports, but “to undermine” them. The agenda and pre-ordained outcome is clear and there for all to see.

The leaked documents are here.

How about a delightful story from my paper?

A very handsome fellow is Mr. Monk

Mystery monkey settles down

ST. PETERSBURG — The monkey is somewhere up in the vine-laced trees, or perhaps on the roof looking out for predators. Either way, the woman in the house knows how to reach him.

She whistles a few short notes. “Monk,” she calls.

Within seconds, the monkey comes crab-crawling down a post, climbs over a stack of firewood and walks over to the middle of the porch. He blinks, looks around and sits calmly as four people, including a Tampa Bay Times reporter, watch through a glass wall.

He’s a famous fellow who has 82,000 fans on his Facebook page where he has – until now – been known as the Mystery Monkey of Tampa Bay as he’s bounced around on his own throughout SW Florida for four years. He even had a National Geographic television special.

But those days are over. Six months ago, he found a spot he liked, settled down and joined a family. While they hadn’t invited him, they welcomed him. Apparently some wildlife officials (who appear to have nothing else to do) are distressed about this. But the reporter won’t give out any names or addresses and the retired couple on whose property Mr. Monk has settled, aren’t telling either.

 The monkey is gentle with the sickly, old cat, sometimes picking her up and moving her to a sunnier spot on the patio. He loves Oreo cookies, twisting the tops off and licking the frosting.

He tolerates squirrels and raccoons who come after his fruit and nut dinners, softly backhanding them if they get too close.

“If he hears any rustle in the woods he will stare and grunt at it,” the husband said. “Then run over and up a tree to get a good look and make sure we aren’t being attacked by a lizard or turtle or butterfly.”

Mr. Monk, the husband said, has a home with the family for as long as he wishes.

Now isn’t that a nice news story?

Climate zones, they are a’ changin’. I think it’s Al Gore’s fault

For a long time, the US Department of Agriculture has designated different planting ‘zones’ throughout the country as a guide for growers. Their ratings are based on ‘extreme minimum temperature’. Garden books and seed packets usually say in what zone a plant can flourish and in what zones it can’t. But it’s the agricultural industry itself, the largest consumer of such data, that must pay the closest attention to these ratings to assure successful crop yields.

So with this change, the USDA now joins the Pentagon and NASA in acknowledging that global warming is real and must be part of all strategic planning. (I don’t mention any international science organizations or UN agencies because our conservative brethren know them all to be anti-American.)

My area of SW Florida has always been 9(b) – but now it’s officially a 10(a) zone. The temperature variation is not large (we go from a 5 to 10 degree variation to a 10-15 degree variation), but the USDA sees it as permanent.

. . . entire states, such as Ohio, Nebraska and Texas, are now in warmer zones . . . it reflects the new reality.

They’ve moved 18 key cities from Fairbanks to Honolulu into warmer zones.

It’s great that the Federal government is catching up with what the plants themselves have known for years now, that the globe is warming” . . .  said [a] Stanford University biologist.

This is unlikely to be the last time they will have to adjust the zones. What’s most shocking to me is the speed of the temperature change – the data they used was collected from 1976-2005. That’s stunning.

(Also, here in zone 10a, we’ve been in drought for four of the last ten years. )

I’m sure FOX News can straighten them out

They don’t listen to Rush Limbaugh, so NASA actually thinks the globe is warming just like those other delusional environmentalist whackos at The Pentagon. They even say so in this article at their website.

Just look at this lying timelapse video they created - Global Warming: 1880-2011. Disgraceful.

That’s what I always assumed; didn’t you?

You may already be familiar with Americans Elect, the group working to put an internet-nominated presidential candidate on the ballot in 50 states.  Just visited there to see what names have been submitted to date.

Good gobbly gobbly y’all and a neighbor’s story

I don’t host Thanksgiving but I am the traditional baker of the pies, a task I really enjoy. So the shopping is done, ingredients are at hand, the weather is lovely and the doors and windows are wide open. I’m ready!

There will be two pies baked today and the pumpkin gets done tomorrow morning. Today’s pies will not be refrigerated but wrapped in cloth and left on the lanai for the overnight. And tomorrow’s pie will come to the table still warm.

I’ll bring two to Thanksgiving dinner, but the third is for my neighbors across the street.

They are the future – at least I hope so! This is an interesting family who appear, on the face of it, perfectly normal. They are six, which is larger than most these days, but with school, hockey, soccer, an SUV and pickup, bikes, flower gardens, chores and electronics, they are otherwise a normal and handsome representation of a U.S. family, circa 2011.

Except for one thing . . . they are about one year away from taking their home life entirely off the grid. They’re fully integrated into the community and school activities, but at home they will be independent (Okay, they’re keeping internet and cable.)

They’ve converted the house (and pool!) to solar. Two rain barrels supply the pool and kitchen. The rest is on a well.  A big wood stove heats the house in winter. They have a kitchen garden. Actually, two – one in their backyard and a much larger garden on a bare plot of land about half a mile away. Both are fenced. Both are watered from wells, and tended by Dad and the four kids. They’ve also got chickens and guinea hens out back and share the eggs. They’ve  begun playing with grape vines, thinking of making their own wine.

Dad owns a small business and employs a few guys; as such his income is mostly secure. (If necessary they could probably get by on the earnings of son #1 who mows my lawn!) They fully own that business as well as the house and cars. There’s a fishing boat too, which goes to the Gulf regularly and comes back with lottsa fish on a good day.

I’m sharing this story so I can tell you what happened one night last week. At about 6pm, Dad showed up at my door – with a wide and proud smile – holding a full dinner plate. On the plate were a quarter guinea hen, red potatoes, broccoli, corn, string beans and onions. “Enjoy” he said. (UPDATE: When this post first went up, I’d failed to say that every single thing on that plate was from the  garden. You probably got that, but in the interest of crossing all the ‘t’s’ . . . )

Earlier they’d had guests and fed 11 people. And they did it with the grill and the solar oven. So come the revolution, our plan is to run the fence to enclose my property inside theirs, make the gardens bigger and have the kids man the turrets.

Good thing I love brocolli.

Wonder when FOX will correct this one? Hint: never

This ran yesterday at FOX Nation – no update yet . . . of course, she said no such thing.

According to video of the event Thursday and a transcript of the speech  provided by the EPA, Jackson spent part of her speech debunking . . . media reports that claimed the agency intended to “triple its budget and add 230,000  new regulators . . . .”A massive expansion was never a possibility — and the people who cited the  230,000 new EPA jack-booted thugs knew that,” she said.

Got that? Mocking the EPA expansion charge, she reassured her audience that there was no possibility that the EPA would add 230,000 new ‘jack-booted thugs’.
No offense given, but offence taken. The blogosphere outrage is in full swing. The fake story is out there and will remain. And now Lisa Jackson joins the ranks of Shirley Sherrod and Van Jones, both victims of blog smears.

All things end, but then what?

The great Thailand flood just won’t stop. Over half the country is now underwater. Two million people are already displaced and the waters haven’t yet reached Bangkok, although that is imminent. (Dark blue indicates flooded areas.)

How do peoples and nations deal with disasters on such a monumental scale?  The waters will doubtless recede. Or mostly recede. But this is still just stunning in its reach and, I assume, its consequences.