The Watering Hole, Tuesday February 3, 2015 – Environmental News and Food Politics – Rural Water

Scientists have studied the water. Rural water (mostly).

The studies come amid new evidence that even low doses of arsenic may reduce IQ in children, in addition to well documented risks of heart disease, cancer and reduced lung function.

“”Arsenic is the biggest public-health problem for water in the United States—it’s the most toxic thing we drink,” said geochemist Yan Zheng, an adjunct research scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory who coedited the special section and coauthored some of the articles. “For some reason, we pay far less attention to it than we do to lesser problems.”

It’s in the water, mostly rural water, and you know who lives there (mostly).

The Watering Hole, Tuesday January 20, 2015 – Environmental News and Food Politics

WHERE’S THE BEEF?

You won’t find it at this restaurant any more. Vegan restaurants have been around for a while, but beef is the mainstay at many high end restaurants. But this London eatery, which won a sustainability award, wants to really live up to its name.

Chef cuts beef from menu to fight climate change.

Petal power anyone?

Open thread. Discuss.

The Watering Hole, Monday, January 5th, 2015: Unholy Alliances

Last week when Pope Francis announced his itinerary for his crusade against man-made climate change, the Joe (“You lie!”) Wilson of ‘evangelical’ deniers, one Calvin Beisner, rudely stated that “The Pope should back off”:

““The pope should back off,” said Calvin Beisner, spokesman for the conservative evangelical Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation. “The Catholic church is correct on the ethical principles but has been misled on the science. It follows that the policies the Vatican is promoting are incorrect. Our position reflects the views of millions of evangelical Christians in the US.”

According to People for the American Way:

“Beisner is a CFACT [Committee For a Constructive Tomorrow] board member and an “adjunct fellow” of the Acton Institute, which is primarily funded by groups like ExxonMobil, the Scaife foundations and the Koch brothers. Beisner is also an adviser to the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, which is financed by the oil-backed Earthart Foundation, the Koch brothers, and ExxonMobil.
In fact, Beisner is not a scientist and has no scientific credentials. Despite claiming to be an authority on energy and environmental issues, he received his Ph.D. in Scottish History.

In 2009, Beisner’s Cornwall Alliance cosponsored a climate change denial conference led by the Heartland Institute, a pro-corporate group funded by Exxon Mobil, the Koch Family Foundations, and the Scaife foundations. Other organizations funded by energy corporations that cosponsored the conference include the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, Americans for Tax Reform, and Americans for Prosperity.”

The “About” section on the Cornwall Alliance’s website states:

Our Identity
A coalition of theologians, pastors, ministry leaders, scientists, economists, policy experts, and committed laymen, the Cornwall Alliance is an evangelical voice promoting environmental stewardship and economic development built on Biblical principles.

I doubt very much if, as Beisner claims, Cornwall Alliance’s “position reflects the views of millions of evangelical Christians in the US”, as some of their ‘affirmations’ and ‘denials’ are, to put it lightly, a bit twisted. An excerpt from one of their “Landmark Documents” titled “The Biblical Perspective of Environmental Stewardship : Subduing and Ruling the Earth to the Glory of God and the Benefit of our Neighbors“:

9. We affirm that by God’s design Earth and its physical and biological systems are robust, resilient, and self-correcting.

We deny that they are fragile.

20. We affirm that human multiplication and filling of the Earth are intrinsically good (Genesis 1:28) and that, in principle, children, lots of them, are a blessing from God to their faithful parents and the rest of the Earth (Psalm 127; 128).

We deny that the Earth is overpopulated; that “overpopulation” is even a meaningful term, since it cannot be defined by demographic quantities such as population density, population growth rate, or age distribution; and that godly dominion over the Earth requires population control or “family planning” to limit fertility.

21. We affirm that when the Bible speaks of God’s judgment on human societies because they have “polluted the land,” the “pollution” in mind is consistently not chemical or biological but moral—the pollution of idolatry, adultery, murder, oppression of the weak, and other violations of the moral law of God expressed in the Ten Commandments (Psalm 106:38; Jeremiah 3:1–10; 16:18).

We deny that Biblical prophets’ concerns about the pollution of any land focus significantly on chemical emissions from agriculture or industry, although prudent study of the risks those pose to human and ecosystem health is a worthy task and can lead to proper efforts to balance risks and benefits.

22. We affirm that cost/benefit analysis (Luke 14:28) is a proper and critically important aspect of godly dominion over the Earth (Proverbs 14:4).

We deny that cost/benefit analysis is unprincipled pragmatism or indicates a lack of faith in God.

The Cornwall Alliance seems to be especially partial to one of the worst of the real-life polluters, the coal industry. In one of their articles, “Europe Flees Economy-Destroying Green Initiatives While Obama Presses On”, after bashing Germany (“Germany, like all who subscribe to the environmentalists’ viewpoint, has put being “green” over the good of its people. They have forgotten God’s created order…”), they turn on President Obama:

“President Obama continues pushing the United States toward the brink by forging ahead with plans to fight the global warming that hasn’t happened in at least the last 17 years, using measures that will cost $trillions by mid-century but will cause no significant reduction in global temperature by the end of the century.

One of President Obama’s means to force the environmentalist agenda on Americans is The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Its war on coal destroyed between 13,000 and 17,000 direct and indirect jobs in 2012 alonedue to announced coal plant closures. Fast forward to 2014 and the EPA has announced a regulation that would effectively kill the coal industry. Any new coal power plant built, whether to replace or add to existing plants, must meet an emissions standard that is impossible with current technology.

Then of course there is the stonewalling of the Keystone XL Pipeline extension. This pipeline that President Obama claimed would only “create about 50 permanent jobs,” has been estimated by his own State Department to create 42,000 jobs.”

Although that “42,000 jobs” figure has been debunked time and time again, yet another Republican on Meet the Press yesterday morning got away with using it without being slapped down by the useless Chuck Todd. TransCanada itself estimates “that the pipeline would create no more than 2,500 to 4,650 temporary direct construction jobs for two years.” The Keystone XL Pipeline website uses the figure of 9,000 U.S. jobs.   On the other hand, the KXL website also says:

“Keystone XL Pipeline will be the safest and most advanced oil pipeline operation in North America. It will not only bring essential infrastructure to North American oil producers, but it will also provide jobs, long-term energy independence and an economic boost to Americans.”

Yeah, right – and I have a really nice bridge for sale, too…

This is our daily open thread, so discuss whatever you’d like.

Sunday Roast: Hanging out with migrating birds on Sauvie Island

A quiet Christmas morning on the Columbia River, Sauvie Island

A quiet Christmas morning on the Columbia River, Sauvie Island

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Bald Eagle hanging out in a tree near the river

Bald Eagle hanging out in a tree near the river

Lots and lots of Snow Geese, making all kinds of noise -- wish I could have gotten closer

Lots and lots of Snow Geese, making all kinds of noise — wish I could have gotten closer

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes

Lining up with the Cormorants

Lining up with the Cormorants

Belted Kingfisher -- He didn't want to stay still!

Belted Kingfisher — He didn’t want to stay still!

Photos by Zooey

This is our daily open thread — The last Sunday Roast of 2014!