Tag Archives: environment

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)

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

You know what’s not HUGE? Donald Trump. You know what is HUGE? This.

This is not a suggestion. This will happen. Full story here.

The Obama administration announced strict new fuel-efficiency vehicle standards Tuesday, requiring the U.S. auto fleet to average 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, an uncontroversial move that, unlike other administration energy policies, was endorsed by industry and environmentalists alike.

[will] expand on existing standards requiring American-made cars and light trucks to average 34.5 mpg by 2016. They will significantly cut U.S. oil consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by the time they are fully implemented, according to EPA.

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.’

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.

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.

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.

More Sunday funnies and still not funny.

Thanks Don in Mass

Waste not, want not? Nah, Grandma had it wrong. Silly Grandma.

We’re a short sighted people, just asking for trouble. And it will come. Oh, it will come.

Oil companies have begun extracting oil from shale fields now. Doing it the responsible way is, however, expensive. Profit is god in our f-r-e-e-d-o-m  market, so any other considerations are for sissies. The Times reports from North Dakota:

Flames of wasted natural gas light up the prairie

. . .  the deliberate burning of natural gas by oil companies rushing to extract oil from the Bakken shale field and take advantage of the high price of crude. The gas bubbles up alongside the far more valuable oil, and with less economic incentive to capture it, the drillers treat the gas as waste and simply burn it.

Every day, more than 100 million cubic feet of natural gas is flared this way — enough energy to heat half a million homes for a day.

And look, this is way cool: we’re like Nigeria and Iran!

All told, 30 percent of the natural gas produced in North Dakota is burned as waste. No other major domestic oil field currently flares close to that much, though the practice is still common in countries like Russia, Nigeria and Iran.    

But take comfort, we’re “not as bad as Kazakhstan” . . .

. . . but this is not what you would expect a civilized, efficient society to do: to flare off a perfectly good product just because it’s expensive to bring to market,” said Michael E. Webber.

Anyway, those companies can always count on us to go to war somewhere if we need more. Just not on their dime.

As Linda Ellerbe used to say: And so it goes . . .

From Ezra Klein this morning:

The budget deficit is shrinking, reports Jeff Bater: “The U.S. budget deficit for the first nine months of fiscal 2011 was $970.52 billion, a figure that is smaller than the $1.29 trillion deficit for the same period in the prior fiscal year. The U.S. Treasury Department, in a monthly budget statement released Wednesday, said the budget deficit for June 2011 came in at $43.08 billion, less than June 2010, which was $68.42 billion.

Meanwhile, our congressional overlords stay busy doing the people’s business:

The House voted to limit the EPA’s ability to regulate water quality, reports Robin Bravender: “The House on Wednesday approved legislation to smack down the Obama administration’s water pollution policies, despite a looming veto threat from the White House. The chamber voted 239-184 to adopt a bipartisan bill that seeks to limit EPA’s authority over state water quality decisions after recent agency actions have irked lawmakers, particularly in coal states and in Florida. Backers of the bill sent a loud message that they’re not pleased with recent EPA water policies, including a January veto of a West Virginia mining permit and new nutrient pollution standards in Florida…The bill is one of several recent House efforts to limit the Obama administration’s water pollution policies, including a series of riders attached to the fiscal 2012 Interior-EPA spending bill.”

When did Rush add the ‘man-made’ part to his denial script?

A decade ago, Limbaugh had a grand time mocking climate scientists (his favorite target was of course Al Gore) for their ‘hysteria’ saying that the earth was warming. “The  whole thing is a hoax” he shouted across the socialist AM radio spectrum. “There is no warming” he shouted.

Vanity Fair listened to him in 2005 as his voice dripped with scorn for those warning about the consequences of a changing climate.:

“Even though quite a few scientists are now backtracking on their once-dire predictions of melting ice caps and worldwide flooding, Algore and a few hard-line doomsayers are sticking to their thermostats.” . . . . Similarly, Limbaugh scoffed in See, I Told You So, “Despite the hysterics of a few pseudo-scientists, there is no reason to believe in global warming”.

Now, here’s Rush in 2011 in a headline at his website:

The Manmade Global Warming Hoax Thrives on Faith, Not Facts

Notice the ‘manmade’ he’s slipped in there, shamelessly adjusting the script. It had to be changed of course, since it’s gotten a little harder to deny warming outright. His words this time start with the assumption that the warming is real – just not manmade. (He used the word ‘manmade’ in his little rant seven times. I counted. That’s not by accident.)

And still they listen to him . . .

Rush Limbaugh, that son of privilege and college drop out, knows nothing about the issue, cares nothing about the issue, but he knows what sells hemorrhoid creams and survival kits.

Sheeesh, stupid windmills don’t even know when to fail

When the nuclear went down, Japan turned to its wind farms. Stupid Japanese, don’t even know that wind has no role in any serious energy policy. We know, cuz Dick Cheney told us.

Even the country’s totally badass Kamisu offshore wind farm, with its giant 2 MW turbines with blades big as the wings on a jumbo jet, and only 186 miles from the epicenter of the largest quake ever recorded in Japan, survived without a hiccup thanks to its “battle proof design.” As a result, the nation’s electric companies have asked all of its wind farms to increase power production to maximum, in order to make up for the shortfalls brought about by the failure of certain other aging, non-resilient 20th-century technologies

The future? Not my problem

This from Politico a few days back - the House Energy and Commerce committee which wants to block EPA rules basically (they want to override EPA on the science of global warming, cuz they’re all such great climatologists) – now want to forbid EPA from declaring carbon dioxide to be a greenhouse gas. Truth. They really do – rename it and problem goes away.

“Some Republicans refuted the claim that global warming science has been settled. “We should not put the U.S. economy in a straightjacket because of a theory that hasn’t been proven,said Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas). “To put this amendment into the law I think would go against everything that people on both sides of the aisle say they’re for.””

That’s kind of the same reasoning John Yoo used to define torture – “it’s torture when it results in organ failure”. And heaven’s sake, we don’t need seawalls just because floods might happen. And why vaccinate little Johnny when it’s probably going to be little Susie who gets polio? Seat belts? Nonsense, I can’t see the car around the corner that’s going to hit me!

When Barton’s ‘proof’ arrives, it will be too late; perhaps he’ll see it when  his favorite golf course is underwater.

And then there was this from Ezra Klein:

Confronted by one of the most significant threats our planet faces, the 31 House Republicans charged with coordinating America’s response refused to even admit the underlying facts.

“Your lungs or your job.”

This morning, I heard a fascinating panel discussion on US-Canada relations. David Frum, former Bush guy, was among those on the dais, so I decided to stop over at Frum Forum which I do from time to time because he is not crazy. Found this just now – we are truly moving into upside-down-land.

CLEAN AIR ACT UNDER ATTACK . . .  the new chair of the House Energy and Power Subcommittee, Ed Whitfield (R-KY) thinks that some dirty air is okay and is not afraid to say so.

In a recent interview with National Journal Daily, the coal state Republican talked about his desire to roll back provisions of the Clean Air Act, saying:

This is a much broader issue than the health of the American people and lungs and emphysema; it’s how can we balance that in the global marketplace for jobs.

Your lungs or your job. Is that the trade-off that Whitfield is asking American voters to accept? There likely wouldn’t be many takers.

I hardly know who to watch in this new Congress. There’s such a delicious choice.

It’s cold here too. Really.

The cold continues here in sunny SW Florida – even tourists who’d normally say ‘oh this is nothing‘ are a bit unhappy. The local Goodwill is doing a brisk business with visitors buying warm coats and scarves. Today’s temps: 30 degrees to 61 degrees; Tomorrow:  35 to 61; starts to warm up on Wednesday with 46 to 66.

 

Meet the man who would be chairman

Let’s have a big WhateverWorks Hi! to  Rep. Dana Rohrbacher (R-CA), in the running to be chair of the Science and Technology Committee in the frackin’ 145th Congress of the United States.  Here he’s questioning a geosciences professor from Penn State, who is way, way too polite and respectful. (I say that because I believe we are actually obliged to call a fool a fool when matters of public policy are at stake.)

Note: Rohrbacher isn’t big on evolution either, except as it “fits within the teachings of my Christian faith.” Dear elvis!

No need to listen to the answers (which aren’t well articulated anyway); Rohrbacher’s questions are just embarrassing (for us).

h/t greenman – I subscribe to his youtube channel where wonderful things pop up.

More rain, more mudslides coming

We are very fortunate. Below, a satellite image from yesterday of the Swat Valley in Pakistan. 20 Million people are affected (and this is right next door to Afghanistan).

Pakistan floods map

I know there’s no global warming cuz it snowed a lot last winter

A frequently heard refrain from the right (how in the hell did this become political?) that shows utter ignorance of how global warming works. It’s not too hard. Warming temperatures (mean temperatures – measured on a planetary scale) mean more evaporation from oceans, and the excess water rises into the atmosphere. Water has to go somewhere, requiring rain to fall – and now that we have more water up there, more water must come down here. That’s why we’re not expecting more storms, we’re expecting more severe storms. This is also why we had so much snow in the temperate zones last winter. The water goes up and the water comes down.

Here are a few facts about the ongoing flooding crisis in Pakistan (6,000,000 people directly affected; 2,000,000 homeless). Expect to see more of this:

  • one fifth of the country under water
  • two years of crops washed away
  • towns and villages across the country disappeared in two days
  • a year’s worth of rain fell in ONE DAY

At least they’re not French

In Kremlin Square

I remember in 2003 when Hannity and Limbaugh et al thought it was just the funniest, the most mock-worthy thing evah when a few thousand Parisians died in a heat wave (14,800). How I miss the days of Freedom Fries.

Moscow today.

Another really good reason

In talking about white roofs earlier, I failed to mention a very motivating factor – the building will be cooler and AC bills – and ergo energy use – will be much lower.

Here’s a first person account from a Texas TV station. This fellow painted his roof white, and his roof temp went from 152F to 112F. His summer electric bill is down $40.00.

Following up here . . . can we do it out there?

Conservation may be a sign of personal virtue but it is not a sufficient basis for a sound, comprehensive energy  policy        April 30, 2001

Snow and cold feed each other in a kind of a loop. White surfaces reflect heat back into space making the ground cooler and cold weather attracts more snow to reflect more heat. That’s why white roofs make sense. I posted about this earlier and it has me remembering that we weren’t always so blind to the world we live in.

Take the white roofs: there was a time when this was part of a vibrant national conversation about the environment; hell, there was a time when there was a conversation. In the seventies Nixon created the EPA, congress started looking at global warming and peak oil, Earth Day was born, we banned CFC’s to protect the ozone layer, Detroit discovered MPG mattered, people faced up to the effects of pollution and did something about it. Carter came into office and put energy efficiency and research into alternative fuels front and center. Things began happening.

And then Ronald Reagan came into office, ripped the solar panels off the roof of the White House and it was Morning in America.

There’s really no reason not to return to this conversation right now and there’s no reason not to start acting again. When I wonder whatever happened to our good sense, I’m reminded of the quote above.

That was our very own once-upon-a-time Vice President, Dick Cheney, a few months before that attack which had nothing to do with how much middle eastern oil we waste so WalMart can keep their parking lots all lit up all the time. And he said it with utter scorn. He’s always liked war better. Like Afghanistan, where it is the 292nd day of the ninth year of the war.

UPDATE: Here’s a link to an article at Popular Science. They’ve got some statistical candy.