The Watering Hole. Tuesday May 16, 2016 – Environmental News and Food Politics

A Major Source of Air Pollution: Farms

“A new study says that emissions from farms outweigh all other human sources of fine-particulate air pollution in much of the United States, Europe, Russia and China. The culprit: fumes from nitrogen-rich fertilizers and animal waste that combine in the air with industrial emissions to form solid particles—a huge source of disease and death.”

Read more here.

Open thread.

 

 

 

 

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The Watering Hole, Monday, May 16th, 2016: Wrong, As Always

Recent opinion pieces at The Christian Post website demonstrate that the “Christian” right – and these aren’t all what I would consider to be real RWNJs – continues to steadfastly ignore reality.

On Earth Day, Dr. Richard D. Land posted “Earth Day: How Environmentalists Hurt the Environment”. Some excerpts:

Many advocates for drastic measures to combat climate change (i.e., global warming) assert that human caused global warming is now “settled science.”

And yet, recently published data from the Department of Energy reveals that the U.S. has reduced carbon emissions for the past fifteen years by more than 10%, more than almost the entire rest of the world combined. How did America accomplish such a feat? The answer is hydraulic fracturing or fracking, which involves releasing fossil fuel (oil and natural gas) trapped in rock formations by injecting millions of gallons of water and chemicals into the formations.

As a result of widespread usage of this controversial technology, the U.S. has become the world’s No. 1 oil and natural gas producer. As a direct consequence of fracking, the price of natural gas is one-fourth what it was a decade ago, and since America has a virtually inexhaustible natural gas supplies, people keep using more and more of this environmentally clean and very inexpensive fossil fuel. [Will someone please explain to me why anyone would want to literally undermine the land to access what is, by definition, a limited energy source?]

EPA studies declaring fracking can be done safely and cleanly moved U.S.A. Today to declare that “to help the environment and economy, keep on fracking” (4/19/16). U.S.A. Today also observed in the same article that fracking “has spurred a remarkable U.S. energy boom and . . . this boom has created jobs, boosted manufacturing and brought the USA closer to energy independence.”

Still, environmental activists on the left continue to oppose fracking, as well as the only clean energy “technology with an established track record of generating electricity at scale while emitting virtually no greenhouse gases: nuclear power.” In fact, in a “Pew poll of members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, 65 percent of scientists want more nuclear power” (Eduardo Porter, NY Times 4/19/16).

Apparently Dr. Land is completely ignorant of WHY environmentalists – and any humans with a fairly basic knowledge of science and some critical-thinking skills – are against fracking and nuclear energy. Has he not heard about the earthquakes being caused by fracking? Is he somehow privy to exactly which chemicals are being used in fracking? The “EPA studies” that declared “fracking can be done safely and cleanly” did not say that fracking IS BEING DONE “safely and cleanly”, more simply that it “can” be done. (Here’s the Christian Science Monitor’s take on this.)

And “nuclear”?! Does “Fukushima” ring a bell? Sorry, but Indian Point is way too close for me to want any part of nuclear power. Not to mention disposal of nuclear waste, which has already been an environmental problem for decades. Or that nuclear facilities make lovely targets for terrorism. Where the hell has Dr. Land been?

Then there’s Ken Blackwell’s ridiculous drivel, “Trump is Bad But Not Worse Than Hillary”

[The blurb says “Ken Blackwell is the Senior Fellow for Family Empowerment at the Family Research Council. He serves on the board of directors of the Club for Growth and the National Taxpayers Union. He is also a member of the public affairs committee of the NRA. Mr. Blackwell is also the former Mayor of Cincinnati and a former Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission.” As Blackwell says in a different context below, “What more needs to be said?”]

“…no one should doubt Hillary Clinton’s determination to expand the state at every turn.
Trump the businessman has experience in confronting bureaucracy, and the Democrats are prolific regulators. President Barack Obama has imposed costly new rules at a rapid pace. Clinton likely would set new records.

Then there’s the judiciary. Antonin Scalia’s death has upset the delicate balance on the Supreme Court. Turning those appointments over to a liberal Democrat would lose the court for a generation, undermining any future conservative political victories.

America’s international security and standing also are at stake. Clinton had a disastrous hand in her husband’s presidency, noteworthy for the debacle in Somalia, unnecessary war in the Balkans, and broken agreement with North Korea. Then she was the first term Secretary of State for President Obama. What more needs to be said?”

1) What exactly has Hillary Clinton said or done to indicate a “determination to expand the state at every turn”? What is your definition of “expand”, and the vague phrase “at every turn”?
2) Trump the con-man has minions, er, “people” – the “BEST” people – to “confront bureaucracy” for him. And those minions don’t always win, either: it’s probably not a good idea to mention “Scotland”, “golf course” or “windmills” in front of The Donald.
3) Hillary Clinton is not a “liberal” Democrat.
4) WTF did First Lady Hillary have to do with Somalia, the Balkans, and North Korea? How does being “the first term Secretary of State for President Obama” disqualify her? And finally,
5) “What more needs to be said?” A whole hell of a lot more!

Donald Trump’s expected nomination comes as a disappointment for many Republicans. However, by every standard Clinton is worse. Conservatives might reluctantly vote for Trump. But, they should consider a vote
for him nevertheless, if he becomes a standard bearer of our platform. A platform that has made us the majority party in the United States.

Is Trump smart enough to do the right thing and are we smart enough to beat Hillary?

Politics is the art of the possible. That doesn’t mean abandoning principle. But if the good is unavailable, it means preferring the politically unattractive to the politically ugly. Too much is at stake for conservatives to treat the presidential election like a kamikaze mission or for Trump to be dumb.”

Two pieces about “Christian” megachurch pastor and devout Trump supporter Robert Jeffress demonstrate the extremely hypocritical and morally reprehensible “values” of religious conservatives. In one piece, Jeffress defends Trump’s childish tweet in response to criticism of Trump by another Evangelical, Russell Moore, with the equally childish (and un-Christ-like) argument that “Moore had it coming because he provoked Trump.” In the second piece, Jeffress calls Christians who won’t vote for Trump “fools”:

“Pastor Robert Jeffress, leader of the influential 12,000-member First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, declared Wednesday that Republicans who have vowed never to support Donald Trump if he becomes the Republican presidential nominee are “fools.”
“It is absolutely foolish to do anything that would allow Hillary Clinton to become the next President of the United States … at least Donald Trump has voiced a belief in a pro-life movement, he has at least talked about religious liberty as he did last Friday, you don’t hear either things coming from the lips of Hillary Clinton,” he continued.
“I believe any Christian who would sit at home and not vote for the Republican nominee … that person is being motivated by pride rather than principle and I think it would be a shame for people to allow Hillary Clinton four or eight years in the White House,” he said.

So much for ‘separation of Church and State’ – I’d like to see the IRS have a little talk with ‘Pastor’ Jeffress.

This is our daily Open Thread–talk about whatever you want.

The Watering Hole; Thursday April 14 2016; Public Lands

More than a decade ago, I penned the following in my attempt to summarize the fears of environmentalists everywhere concerning the future of public lands — courtesy of right wing politicians — in this country:

It’s a non-arguable fact of life, so to speak, that the earth’s environment, especially the biosphere, the earth-atmosphere interface in which life exists, is critical to . . . well, it’s critical to the existence of life itself. That is, of course, unless one happens to be a Bush Republican, at which point the biosphere becomes little more than just another big word, one that sounds like something a tree-hugger might speak in the same breath as ‘ecology’ or ‘endangered species’; tree-huggers: you know, those weirdos that think trees and owls and undeveloped land are worth more than the money they can bring in.

I would only wish that last statement be hyperbole and not an understated fact.

[. . .]

In any case, the environment is under attack by this administration. Whether one speaks of global warming, or destroying wilderness, polluting the air and water, strip mining, logging, the further endangerment of endangered species, “junk” science (altered) in order to justify/sanctify misdeeds, drastic reductions in Super-Fund appropriations and hence in cleanups, or just plain selling out to business, to corporate campaign contributors – the verdict is guilty, guilty as charged, guilty before all the gods that be or don’t be.

Sadly, the current destruction is only the half of it; it’s very likely that the other hammer will drop one day in the not too distant future. The ultimate atrocity remains: the conversion of public lands into saleable assets, into that single most valuable of all earthly commodities, money. All arrows are slowly beginning to point in that general direction. Could it really happen? Could the Grand Canyon be sold and opened for development? Sadly, the answer is very likely ‘yes.’ Consider:

There are upwards of 100,000,000 acres of wilderness set aside in the United States, along with hundreds of National Parks and monuments which protect and preserve tens of thousands of square miles of the nation’s most awe-inspiring lands. From the Grand Canyon to Yellowstone and Glacier, from Yosemite to Zion and Rocky Mountain National Park, places unlike anywhere else in the world are protected for perpetuity – or so we’re told. Denali, Big Bend, Petrified Forest, Haleakala – each and all are jewels in the American crown. And we must not forget, too, the National Forests, National Grasslands, wetlands, wild rivers – the list goes on and on and on – multiple-use lands which themselves enjoy at least a modicum of protection from private business interests. Altogether, the dollar value of America’s public lands must be nearly inestimable, and to think said lands are not coveted by speculators and developers, both foreign and domestic, perhaps even by other nations as the most solid possible investment, would be naive to say the least. As Will Rogers said, “Invest in land, they’re not making it anymore.”

[. . .]

At one time, the American currency was the world’s standard, backed by the word, the resources, and the robust economy of the United States. For foreign investors, the dollar was as safe a haven as a mother’s arms. But no longer; today it is not. Today the dollar is a risky investment at best, and apparently is destined to become riskier and riskier with every passing month. What if America has one last asset, and it’s a big one. Imagine the boom if:

✓ Wilderness areas were offered for purchase by private developers?
✓ National Parks were sold to the highest bidder?
✓ Forests were to become the property of timber companies and/or land developers?

Those are just three aspects of what may well become a reality, a way to bail out an otherwise heavily indebted America, plus a way to spur development (read: create jobs) on prime and pristine lands especially across the west and in each Alaska and Hawaii. The travesty is unimaginable – perhaps that’s why it just may happen, why it may even be part and parcel to an already-existing plan. “Starve the beast” – turn America over to the private sector. Could this be what George Bush means when he speaks glowingly of his “ownership society”? A nation where even that which we today call Public Land is destined for private ownership? Remember, today’s current head of public lands is a mining industry lobbyist who believes that public lands are unconstitutional.

We can hope for sanity to reappear, but dare we hold our breath in anticipation?

That was written WAY back in April 2005, just months after G.W.Bush began his second term as the POTUS whose aberrant first term fiscal policies had already completely reversed the financial debt-reduction progress his predecessor had initiated. Bush had also made it clear that land preservation and environmental issues including designation of wildlife refuges, of Wilderness, of National Monuments would not be on his docket because, after all, there’s no money, no profit, in ANY of that, so why the hell bother? And as Reagan’s Interior Secretary (and fundamentalist Christian) James Watt reportedly once noted, “God gave us these things to use. After the last tree is felled, Christ will come back.”

So that was then. THIS is NOW:

Tea Party Wave Washes Up ‘Anti-Parks Caucus’ In Congress

A group of 20 senators and representatives has formed a de facto “anti-parks caucus” in Congress and is waging the most significant legislative and ideological challenge to America’s national parks in decades, says a new report released Monday by the Center for American Progress. The analysis finds that this anti-parks caucus is composed of less than five percent of Congress but is responsible for introducing dozens of bills to block the creation of new national parks, end America’s most effective parks program, and sell off public lands.

Eight anti-parks caucus members also participate in the Federal Land Action Group, a group formed last year with the sole purpose of developing land grab legislation that would transfer federal land to state and local control.

[. . .]

Such partisan politics ring true with the 20-member anti-parks caucus which includes Reps. Rob Bishop (R-UT) and Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), and Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Ted Cruz (R-TX).

Surprise surprise. Right? Yeah, right.

I personally find that to be the most vividly disgusting anti-intelluctual and anti-American Congressional premise I’ve run across in the roughly 64 years I’ve been paying attention to their collective nonsensicals, and I find it to be insurmountably incomprehensible that ANYONE would ever vote FOR such a treacherous and treasonous voice for ANY elective office, POTUS and DOGCATCHER included.

I’m reminded of the words of Author John C. Van Dyke who, more than a century ago, wrote this excellent summation:

“…with the coming of civilization the grasses and the wild flowers perish, the forest falls, and its place is taken by brambles, the mountains are blasted in the search for minerals, the plains are broken by the plow and the soil is gradually washed into the rivers. Last of all, when the forests have gone the rains cease falling, the streams dry up, the ground parches and yields no life, and the artificial desert – the desert made by the tramp of human feet – begins to show itself, Yes; everyone must have cast a backward glance and seen Nature’s beauties beaten to ashes under the successive marches of civilization…”

When, I wonder, will enough people figure all that out and take steps to curtail the greed and idiocy that’s come to define this country?
Not until it’s too late, I’d guess.

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole,Tuesday April 12, 2016 – Environmental News and Food Politics

Six to 10 million years ago: Ice-free summers at the North Pole

Finally, Republicans can tout real science that global warming is not a man-made event. It happened before millions of years ago.

See, it happened before, when man was not around in sufficient numbers to eff things up.

Open thread.

The Watering Hole, Tuesday March 29, 2016 – Environmental News and Food Politics

THE BIG U.S.OIL BUST

“Back in 2010, the price of a barrel of Brent crude (the international oil price benchmark) topped $80. That made it profitable to extract oil from tight shale formations, which is especially costly. A drilling frenzy ensued, domestic oil production skyrocketed, oil companies raked in profits and oil patch communities prospered.

But all that new oil on the market, plus China’s slowing economic growth, began to dampen oil prices in the summer of 2014. Instead of curtailing production to keep prices afloat, OPEC’s leaders launched a thinly veiled price war, clearly aimed at putting U.S. producers out of business. Here are some indicators that OPEC won the war.”

Oil bust – A red state phenomenon. Will this affect 2016 elections?