Archive for category Environment
The Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed coal regulations have angered Tea-GOP right-wingers who deny climate science.
Via The New Republic:
A standoff with Senate Democrats and the president over funding for the EPA and Interior Department could set the stage for a budget showdown, risking a partial government shutdown. Here we go again.
In an interview with Bloomberg, Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID) said the House Appropriations Committee may include a rider to the bill that’s necessary to keep the Department of Interior and EPA open after the fiscal year’s end in September.
…A partial shutdown to the Interior and EPA might seem like it would cause less damage to the GOP than the full-scale shutdown of 2013. But remember that includes national parks, which was one of the most visible and unpopular consequences from last year’s shutdown. And the EPA is charged with a lot besides fighting climate change, like protecting our drinking water and overseeing cleanup of toxic waste sites.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has warned the Tea-GOP not to shut down the government over climate change. But really, if they do it right before the midterm elections it might do more good than harm.
Rocky Mountain Power continues to push the ALEC and Koch brothers agenda with a solar tax that has been talked about for several months now.
The fee, proposed by RMP, is aimed either at the 2000 or so customers who are trying to either shrink their power bill, or even add to the power grid, or it is aimed at killing Americas fastest growing method of generating power. Guess what the PR people say? “It’s not a tax on solar. It’s not a disincentive,” said Bramble,
ALEC flack and Business As Usual defender, sorry, R-Provo.
Read the rest of this entry »
I get tired of moaning and groaning about our broken political system, so here’s something I found that gives me hope for America.
Germany is making us look bad, because some thirty years after we passed up the chance to lead the world in solar energy, that country is astounding the world with what it’s been able to do with solar in a very short time.
This looks like a chance for America to lead the way yet, with – job creating – American made technology that the world would love to have. I realize this is a promotional video which is most likely not pointing to many downsides of their product, but can’t we just try it? It seems much simpler then going to the moon, and we’re all tired of the oil spills; most of which we never even hear about, because the stories are mostly banned from the media.
Check it out. There are lots of other videos on the subject, including a “TED” talk by the inventor, which I haven’t had time to watch yet.
UPDATE: Here’s the TED talk from Scott Brusaw and one other video.
An effort by San Juan County and the State of Utah to re-open part of Canyonlands National Park to motor vehicles has failed. The former jeep trail up Salt Creek from Peekaboo Spring, closed in 1998, is off the map now forever. Late Friday, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the absurd claim that the dead-end creek bed trail was a public “highway” as defined by the 148-year-old Revised Statute 2477 (which Congress repealed in 1976).
Back in 1995, the National Park Service proposed establishing a permit system and a daily limit on the number of vehicles driving the 8 miles to Angel Arch. But the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance obtained a court injunction that closed the motorized trail. In 2004, the Park Service decided to make the closure permanent. Thus began the 10-year court battle that ended last Friday.
While the lawyers argued and the judges deliberated, natural flooding has rendered the area impassable to vehicles.
I’ll probably won’t backpack up Salt Creek, but I’m going to rejoice because that opportunity will be there for others to enjoy in their lifetimes. Oh, and let’s all wish Canyonlands National Park a happy 50th birthday.
“We have agreed not to drive our automobiles into cathedrals, concert halls, art museums, legislative assemblies, private bedrooms and the other sanctums of our culture; we should treat our national parks with the same deference, for they, too, are holy places. An increasingly pagan and hedonistic people (thank God!), we are learning finally that the forests and mountains and desert canyons are holier than our churches. Therefore let us behave accordingly.”
–Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire
Why this is not on the table is mind-boggling. Even if you are someone who doesn’t believe in climate change or that pollution causes severe health problems (Which is just as stupid as not believing in math), then either way, oil is not going to last forever. We need fuel for our ships, our cars, our airplanes. Fuel is the reason we can cross the shores quickly, it’s how we get food from an agricultural state like California to a state like Utah that has more people than the land can provide food for. Only a fool would think this oil will last forever. It took 64 million years to make petroleum. It takes about 64 days to ferment a plant into alcohol. Even is a monetary sense, the idea of drilling is more costly because the methods of reaching oil have become pricier. Why is this not being discussed? The only thing we do have in terms of “renewable” is that 10% ethanol at the pumps and that’s only there because the Corn Lobby wanted to prove they have a bigger dick than the Oil Lobby.
To be fair, there is a push from the airlines to produce biofuels and there has been some traction going on with that. But that’s only because the airlines feel a huge weight around their neck from gas prices and it costs them money. For us, the consumer, we don’t have that type of power. It’s either fill your tank or you’re fired. Still if there was a way to make it more available, it’s better to do it now than to wait until all the problems of an oil shortage stack up.
From Climate Central:
In 1958, Charles David Keeling began making daily measurements of the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) at the Mauna Loa Observatory on the Big Island of Hawaii. These measurements were begun as part of a one-year initiative, the International Geophysical Year, but because of Keeling’s persistence, the daily record has continued through the present, almost without interruption. The Mauna Loa record, now known as the Keeling Curve, continues to be collected under the direction of Keeling’s son, Ralph.
Last year, atmospheric carbon dioxide briefly crossed 400 parts per million for the first time in human history. However, it didn’t cross that threshold until mid-May. This year’s first 400 ppm reading came a full two months earlier this past week and the seeming inexorable upward march is likely to race past another milestone next month.
“We’re already seeing values over 400. Probably we’ll see values dwelling over 400 in April and May. It’s just a matter of time before it stays over 400 forever,” said Ralph Keeling in a blog post.
To preserve a livable planet, climate scientists tell us we must reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere from its current level of 400 parts per million to below 350 ppm.
Right-wing Republicans remain unconcerned. Recently Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), the vice chair of the notoriously anti-climate change House Energy and Commerce Committee, said on “Meet the Press”: “Now, you know, when you look at the social cost of carbon, and there is a lot of ambiguity around that, what you also need to be doing is looking at the benefits of carbon and what that has on increased agricultural production.”
“The President should realize that Congress has taken action” on climate change policies, Blackburn said. “We have said no.”
World’s Oldest Direct Measure Of Atmospheric CO2 May Lose Its Funding
“The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.”
Via Media Matters.
Be sure and watch “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey.”
MSNBC’s Ed Schultz reversed his support for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline on Wednesday and said the United States shouldn’t allow it to be built. Last month he called the pipeline “a step in the right direction when it comes to energy independence.”
Of course, Keystone XL won’t be a pipeline TO the USA. It’s a pipeline THROUGH the USA to overseas export. It’s likely to cause a gasoline price hike in this country. What do we get from this pipeline? More groundwater pollution, and more climate change.
President Obama could stop this pipeline all by himself. The right-wing is clearly worried, and the Faux News crowd is even claiming that Keystone XL approval would be the answer to the crisis in the Ukraine!
h/t to HuffPo
While a major media news blackout provides cover, Congress is debating whether to give the president the authority to fast-track a massive free trade agreement, the secretly-negotiated Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). Members of Congress haven’t even been able to read it even though corporate lobbyists have.
President Obama is at odds with Democrats in both houses of Congress concerning reauthorizing a procedure called the “trade promotion authority” (TPA), that would grant the White House power to submit free trade deals to Congress for an up-or-down vote without amendments. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is strongly against it.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has now publicly opposed giving President Obama fast track authority.
“We need transparency. We need a seat at the table to understand what they believe they are doing, so we can make it better. And if we don’t make it better, then we will not accept a path that is a job loser.”
TPP is part of the plan for global corporatocracy run by and for the 1 Percent. Unelected lobbyists and trade representatives are at the table, while representatives from the public at large and businesses other than huge monopolies, are conspicuously absent. From what little we know of the agreement, it would violate the U.S. Constitution, weaken environmental protections, and lead to more job losses, erosion of wages, and worsening inequality. TPP also threatens freedom of speech on the Internet because it would extend restrictive intellectual property laws and rewrite international rules on enforcement.
Keystone XL is a “go.” Count on Secretary of State Kerry to do the right thing – for the industry. The planet will have to take its chances.
h/t Roots Action:
It’s classic. Wait till late on a Friday to announce a reprehensible decision in hopes of minimizing the uproar in response. But the climate crisis doesn’t take weekends off.
…”Significant impacts to most resources are not expected along the proposed Project route assuming the following,” reads the State Department report, before listing a series of improbable assumptions.
They say it’s just one pipeline. But the point is we have to say no to ALL the pipelines and leave fossil fuels in the ground.
The Central Flaw of the Keystone XL Economic Analysis (It’s status quo bias)
Sam Stein: So What Exactly Is Obama’s Red Line On Keystone XL?
A baby born in the new year can expect to live in a world that suffers the effects of catastrophic climate change, according to an article in The Guardian based on a new scientific study published in the journal Nature.
Professor Steven Sherwood at the University of New South Wales in Australia, who led the new research, said that unless emissions of greenhouse gases are cut, the planet would heat up by a minimum of 4C by 2100. The study found that as the planet heats, fewer sunlight-reflecting clouds form, causing temperatures to rise further in an upward spiral.
“4C would likely be catastrophic rather than simply dangerous,” Sherwood told the Guardian. “For example, it would make life difficult, if not impossible, in much of the tropics, and would guarantee the eventual melting of the Greenland ice sheet and some of the Antarctic ice sheet,” with sea levels rising by many meters as a result.
…”Climate skeptics like to criticize climate models for getting things wrong, and we are the first to admit they are not perfect,” said Sherwood. “But what we are finding is that the mistakes are being made by the models which predict less warming, not those that predict more.”
For the sake of argument, it’s customary to say that climate models only predict what is likely to happen unless we do something fast. I am starting to doubt that there is anything that can be done now to prevent catastrophic climate change, or even slow it down. This is because certain tipping points, for example rapid melting of the Greenland ice sheet, may have already been reached. Once a trigger is pulled, it cannot be un-pulled. The bullet is on its way.