CLIMATE CHANGE, A REASONED ARGUMENT

September 25, 2014

The following was written by a friend of mine.  I include it unedited and in toto:

Climate Change
by Noreen Hulteen

As this is the week after the world-wide march to protest the danger to the world due to using carbon-based fuels, I thought this would be an opportunity to write a paper on the subject. Thank you protesters.

First, my objective:

If I am wrong in my presentation of scientific conclusions, and the climate-change deniers are right, then the steps needed to alleviate the damage to the earth will only ensure that the non-renewable energy sources will last much longer. Making the changes will not make things worse. It will require that our leaders find creative ways to sustain our civilization while keeping the earth clean.

If I am right in my presentation of the seriousness of Global Climate change, and steps are NOT taken to halt the damage to our earth, then there will be another mass die-off of earth’s creatures — including the human race.

So allow me to discuss some of the potential disasters that can seal our fate.This is not just fear tactics. It is fact that our planet cannot sustain our present use of carbon fuel and survive. First, just a little boring data:


The continued use of carbon-based fuels creates a measurable increase in the amount of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) in our atmosphere. This is has been scientifically measured to determine amounts  of CO2 concentrations
for past eons by extracting ice cores from the polar ice. Each layer of ice contains a measurable amount of CO2. There have been periods when the amount of CO2 points clearly to the climate conditions at that time. There were 7,000 parts per million (ppm) during the very hot Cambrian Period, and only 180 ppm during the Ice Age. There has been a steady increase since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. The amount has gradually increased from 280 ppm to 395 ppm. The amount we now have may be the highest in 800,000 years. (or longer) On May 10, 2013, for the first time, 400 ppm were recorded on Mauna Loa. (I know, really boring — but needed information)

We all can recognize the change. Average annual world temperatures are higher by just a little every year. Summer 2013 was the warmest world temperature average ever recorded. We are experiencing increases in floods, storms, and we can see the polar ice caps melting. Pieces have always broken away (ice bergs) but the sea ice used to return to rebuild the ice caps. They are receding, but not growing back to their original size. Glaciers are receding everywhere.

There are climate change deniers who state that warming and cooling earth is normal and cyclical. That is, in fact, true. But historically there was a cause and effect. Although man was not around to record such activity, we know that they did happen. Huge volcanic eruptions, collision with enormous meteors, could, and would, cause changes in the weather everywhere on earth. What has not happened before is a human population of over 7 billion people who all want to burn carbon-based fuel for energy. We cannot be certain when this will become the disaster we cannot live with, but it is certain that it will.

The oceans are getting warmer. Oceanic creatures are moving into cooler waters and are seen where they were never seen before. The most serious thing that can happen is, with water that is too warm, it is not just reefs that will die, where many sea creatures start their life cycle, but plankton will die. Plankton is the basic start of the food chain. If it goes, we all go.

In the USA food is grown on mono culture farms (single crop on massive plots of land), and is shipped all over the world. Planes, trains and trucks clog our highways with crops going from big Agra business farms to the factory for processing. “Buy local food” may become much more than a marketing slogan, it may become the means of survival.

One example: In order to keep the profit margin high for major chicken producers, chickens raised in USA  are shipped to China. There they are processed, and packed for market.Then they are shipped back to Markets in USA. The energy that fuels the vehicles from the US farm to US shore to the Chinese  factory and back again is just not sustainable

Manufactured items are made any place in the world where labor is cheap. It isn’t JUST the loss of jobs that matter, it is also the high cost of the fuel to carry the materials around and goods to market.  Did you ever think about how many different factories make parts for major appliances and automobiles? Even when you buy American, you may be getting  a vehicle assembled from parts all over the world.

Do you check the labels of things you buy? Distributed by [USA  name and address] does NOT mean that it is made there. It is just a ruse to cover up the “Made in [somewhere else] ” truth.

All this is happening while the actual rise in the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is not yet at the tipping point BUT as the ice cap gets smaller, it stops doing that essential job of reflecting some of the sun’s heat back into space. The heat is then absorbed by the oceans and this makes the ice melt faster. As the ice melts, massive bubbles of methane gas is released into the air, which is even more destructive than CO2. We do not know just how much of this can be tolerated before the disaster is not stoppable.

Things that need to be done:

Vastly reduce the amount of carbon based fuel pulled from the earth. It doesn’t matter whether we burn oil, coal, corn, or garbage. We must agree to use less.

Do not assume that using electricity is better than using gasoline. Something has to be burned somewhere to create electricity, I am  sorry, but only a miniscule amount is made by wind and water turbines.

Begin to figure out how you can use things grown and or manufactured locally. Grow and make your own if you can. Reuse and recycle. Walk and/or ride a bicycle.

Thank you for your attention. It is your world and mine we need to protect.
[I find nothing in this commentary to argue with.  I hold in reserve my own opinion about whether ti would be a bad thing if humans became extinct.  Our record of destruction, war and extermination of fellow creatures is without parallel in the natural world.  No band of wolverines or flock of shrike could come close to what we've done, repeatedly.  I say this as we recall the centennial of the death of the last Passenger Pigeon in North America, driven to extinction by rapacious hunting and forest felling in the U.S. and Canada.]

THOSE GREEN GREEN MOUNTAINEERS

September 22, 2014

Vermont is doing what much of the U.S. can’t seem to do. They are going green for energy. Here is segment from an NPR show that explains how Burlington gets all its electricity now from renewable sources. Even though they are just across the border from SHALE OIL CITY (that would be Canada).
Of course, Canada’s head-of-state is too busy to attend tomorrow’s summit on climate change in New York. Probably doing another ribbon cutting at a shale quarry, or maybe inspecting those explosive rail cars rolling across the land. Go Canada! Dig, baby, dig.

HATING THE GAME

September 8, 2014

“Hating the Game”is the headline in the “NY Times Magazine” ethicist column this past weekend. There is a series of serious questions from a troubled fan:
“I’ve recently begun to question my support for the N.F.L. I suspect the recent discoveries about concussions and the prevalence of early-onset dementia…is is unethical to support a league…Don;t watch on television?…”
The ethicist essentially concludes that football risk is known by everybody and that voluntarily trading your future health for fame or a fat paycheck is just fine. Enjoy football and the footballers can make their own choices.
Pop Warner players making consent decisions? We wouldn’t approve kids that age taking drugs or getting pregnant or sky-diving would we?
And the ethicist totally ignores the pernicious influence of football and its macho culture. The NFL just this year has decided it will suspend players for domestic violence! And we needn’t even mention the whole “Redskins” debate to show how NFL is above and beyond normal commerce and ethics in America.
Here’s my letter to the NYT which I suspect will not be published:

Your ethicist answer to the questions from a football fan in the Sept. 7, 2014 issue was sadly lacking in depth.
1) You cannot pretend that all who are injured have volunteered. Do we really think a grade schooler encouraged to play Pop Warner, become a star in high school and then get a big university scholarship has volunteered to get brain damaged from the age of eight?
2) There are the involuntary victims of football. The wives, friends and casual acquaintances who are raped or beaten and then disbelieved or deemed unimportant because football is so central to our society’s view of itself. Can we really pretend that Penn State scandal would have continued for years if Sandusky had been an English prof or chemistry lab assistant? Steubenville, Ohio, has welcomed a convicted rapist back onto its football team. Gotta win.
3) Apart from those who come into direct contact with football or football-related violence, there is a huge cost to our society. Education is daily perverted for the religion of football. Many schools including huge publicly-funded universities pay football coaches more than any educator. They are the modern gladiators thrilling the crowds with their violence. Football twists the values of all the youngster who are players or those deemed inferior because they are not players. And the whole spectacle of cheerleaders I will leave to any intelligent female to assess.

BEER HEAVEN

September 3, 2014

It’s nice to have one’s hopes confirmed. No, there’ll be no settlement for peace between Palestine and Israel. NO, there’ll be no enlightenment in the Muslim nations so that women can walk about freely, even drive a car or smoke a joint…or have a beer. But here in Oregon we can proudly order another brew down at the brewpub and feel proud of what our fellow Oregonians have done. Put us in the center of the beer map of the US, click here. And once again feel sorry for beknighted Mississippi, worst brew of the whole crew.

RULE BY BULLSHIT

September 1, 2014

Oh gawd, it’s worse than we ever could have imagined.  A conspiracy of mendacious cranks aided by lazy lawyers on the Supreme Court.  Now it’s out, the justices will accept as fact anything they agree with as long as it comes to them printed onto legal-sized paper.  There is no evidence the Supremes ban liars or prevaricators from sending them agitprop or simple self-serving bullshit.  There is not one time when they have found an untruth to warrant a contempt of court citation.  Where I am here to tell you, there are millions of my fellow Americans who can now justify their measure of contempt of this particular SCOTUS.  And that, my dear justices, is no lie.

 

BTW, what are all those court clerks doing if not checking up on the veracity of stuff submitted?  If I sent in a resume saying I had been dean of the law school at some Ivy university, would they stupidly and simply take my word for it?  I have not been such, and will not submit such a resume because these bozos might expect me to accept their job offer!  Can’t think of anything worse, working for this Supreme Court.  Makes my stomach do unpleasant things.

MONARCH GETTING ROYAL SHAFT

August 21, 2014

We may live in a republic here in the US, but sadly we may losing our monarchs, all of them. Here’s the sordid tale from the “National Geographic.” Industrial farming run rampant. BTW, the US expects a record corn crop this year. Hot news for the ethanol crowd.

AN EASY OUT

August 19, 2014

Tired of life? Get thee to Saint Louis. Police there apparently kill on demand. Today two officers shot dead a black man who allegedly yelled at them, “Shoot me now…” They obliged. He died.
Actually, might not work unless you’re black.

A BUMPER-STICKER FOR OUR TIMES

August 17, 2014

“I sure hope hell has wheels, I’m tired of riding in a hand basket.”
That’s the bumper-sticker that carries a widely held sentiment of our troubled times. Aren’t most times troubled? If you have paid attention to any of the many centennial observations being posted and written about the start of World Ear I, you know we are not in a uniquely violent time. In fact BIG wars are in short supply right now. We may be setting world records of displaced persons however. Iraq, Syria, Gaza, Sudan, Central African Republic (hah!), Nigeria, Congo (always), what was once Somalia, Honduras, El Salvador, Libya, ebola in West Africa (for now). The population of people displaced by war, famine, political violence, ethnic attacks and natural disasters (thanks for all that CO2,folks) is in the many millions.
Here in the USA we are reaping the rewards of two decades of police militarization. My only question about Ferguson–where the hell are the town’s mayor and city council? On the city website it appears that at least 4 of the six council members are white in a town with a huge black majority. Colonial rule at home, wonderful. of course, we Americans are rightly known the world over for hair trigger violence, mass murderers and a gun under every bed. Would even more weapons and more guns make Ferguson a better place? Just wait’ll police have lethal drones and have only to use CCTV and radar to kill a miscreant at a distance. Real law and order then.
Actually, I have another question about Ferguson. Let’s say that dead teenager really did all those horrid things the police allege…threaten a clerk and steal some cigars. Not even in Missouri, the redneck state from which I escaped decades ago, would make that a capital crime. His real crime in the eyes of the policeman: being young and black.
So while humans torture and kill other humans, still more humans have more babies and we over-populate our planet so there’ll be more unemployed teenagers (esp. in nations which don’t allow women’s rights and birth control) and more political unrest and revolution and violence and ethnic hatred and those goodies that we see parading in public like we haven;t seen since the end of World War II.

WHY IS FRACKING SO FRACTIOUS AN ISSUE?

August 1, 2014

Because we do not really know what the frack we’re doing to the planet. But who cares as long as gas and profits keep flowing. Salamanders can’t sue, so to hell with ‘em.

HERE IS PRESS RELEASE OUT TODAY FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN:

MADISON, Wis. – As production of shale gas soars, the industry’s effects on nature and wildlife remain largely unexplored, according to a study by a group of conservation biologists published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment on Aug. 1.

The report emphasizes the need to determine the environmental impact of chemical contamination from spills, well-casing failure, and other accidents.

“We know very little about how shale gas production is affecting plants and wildlife,” says author Sara Souther, a conservation fellow in the Department of Botany at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “And in particular, there is a lack of accessible and reliable information on spills, wastewater disposal and the chemistry of fracturing fluids. Of the 24 U.S. states with active shale gas reservoirs, only five maintain public records of spills and accidents.”

The 800 percent increase in U.S. shale gas production between 2007 and 2012 is largely due to the use of hydraulic fracturing. Also called fracking, the process uses high-pressure injection of water, laden with sand and a variety of chemicals, to open cracks in the gas reservoir so natural gas can flow to the well. A similar technique is used for extracting oil from “tight” geologic formations.

The chemical makeup of fracturing fluid and wastewater, which can include carcinogens and radioactive substances, is often unknown. The authors reviewed chemical disclosure statements for 150 wells in three top gas-producing states and found that, on average, two out of three wells were fractured with at least one undisclosed chemical.

Pressured by growing concern about pollution to groundwater and surface water, government and the industry have made some steps toward openness, Souther acknowledges, but she says more progress is needed.

“The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s website is one of the nation’s best sources of publicly available information on spills of fracking fluid, wastewater, and other contaminants. Even so, gas companies failed to report over one third of spills in the last year,” she says. “How many more unreported spills occurred, but were not detected during well inspections? We need accurate data on the release of fracturing chemicals into the environment before we can understand impacts to plants and animals.”

One of the greatest threats to animal and plant life identified in the study is the cumulative impact of rapid, widespread shale development, with each individual well contributing collectively to air, water, noise and light pollution.

“The past has taught us that environmental impacts of large-scale development and resource extraction, whether coal plants, large dams or biofuel monocultures, are more than the sum of their parts,” notes Morgan Tingley, a researcher from University of Connecticut. “We can’t let shale development outpace our understanding of its environmental impacts.”

“If you look down on a heavily fracked landscape,” Souther says, “you see a web of well pads, access roads, and pipelines creating islands out of what was, in some cases, continuous habitat. What are the combined effects of numerous wells and their supporting infrastructure on wide-ranging or sensitive species, like the pronghorn antelope or the hellbender salamander?

“I am from West Virginia, which is underlain by one of the largest shale gas reservoirs in the U.S. However, this industry doesn’t just impact gas-producing states. Here in Wisconsin, shale development is affecting areas that supply sand for use in hydraulic fracturing.”

The study looked broadly at what is known — and what is not — about the conservation impacts of fracking. “Some of the wells in the chemical disclosure registry were fractured with fluid containing 20 or more undisclosed chemicals,” says co-author Kimberly Terrell, a researcher at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute. “This is an arbitrary and inconsistent standard of chemical disclosure.”

With shale gas production projected to increase exponentially over the next 30 years, the authors hope the study will guide the application of limited scientific resources to the most important questions, and enhance cooperation among scientists, industry and policymakers to minimize damage to the natural world.

The authors are all David H. Smith Conservation Research Fellows, a project established by the Cedar Tree Foundation and the Society for Conservation Biology. Souther has been a research fellow at UW-Madison for three years. In September, she will begin a professorship at West Virginia Wesleyan College in West Virginia

CITIBANK CUSTOMERS ARE GOING TO PAY

July 14, 2014

Sure, Citigroup today agreed to settle their rotten mortgage case with the feds and state attorneys general. And it’s going to be a big chunk of cash: $7-billion. Some of that may actually make it back into the pockets of the investors they knowingly scammed into investing in toxic home loans.
What’s critical is what isn’t in the settlement which must still get court approval, of course. There is nothing to prevent Citigroup from simply raising costs to its customers. There is almost zero chance that this settlement will lower one bank exec’s bonuses by one cent, or even cost shareholders a single pence on their dividends. The payers will ultimately be the mass of customers who have been slow and apathetic enough to stick with Citibank. Too inconvenient, account tied to a credit card, etc. etc. etc. Banks, like cell phone companies, have found all kinds of ways to be sticky, making it a royal pain to move your account…all those automatic deposits and payments, yada, yada, yada.
There is nothing in the settlement that requires Citi to take any money away from bonus pools or dividends or even consultant fees or lawyers’ fees or travel budgets or company holiday parties…or any of the stuff the bank biz expects by divine right.
The stock market sees the settlement as a good thing. Nobody that matters really pays. Citi stock is up today and the market itself followed suit. Whoopee. Got off the hook, again.
One analysis points out Citi has made over $74 billion in the past four quarters and it will take just over a month for the corporation to generate enough cash to pay off the $7-bil in bills. One bright spot, the federal portion of the settlement is NOT TAX DEDUCTIBLE!


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