J.C. Moore Online
Current Events from a Science Perspective

Yet more about COVID – 19

     Posted on Fri ,29/05/2020 by admin

Coronavirus: The image at the right is that of a coronavirus. They are a type of virus which causes common colds, but can also cause more serious diseases such as SARS, MERS, or COVID – 19. Of course you can’t see it as a virus is only about 0.025 µm in diameter, far smaller than the human eye can see even with the best optical microscope. In comparison, a fine human hair is about 40 µm in diameter. When people talk, cough, or sneeze they eject small droplets which vary greatly in size but the average is about 1 µm. Each small droplets can hold hundreds of thousands of viruses and the droplets can persist in the air for several hours.

This image is that of a coronavirus as taken by an electron microscope. The virus gets its name from the small structures on the surface which look like crowns. When the virus encounters a human cell, the crown attaches to the cell’s surface and injects its own RNA into the cell, which then takes over the cell mechanisms and produces copies of the virus. They eventually cause the cell to burst which can release up to 50,000 new viruses.

COVID-19 Virus: this is a new virus in humans which entered the population for the first time late last year. The virus cannot live long outside a human host, and the main vector for its transmission is those who travel to and from infected areas. We have little natural immunity to the virus and there is no proven treatment or vaccine for the virus. About 97% of those infected recover within 14 days, but particularly severe cases must be put on a ventilator to keep the patient breathing until the virus runs its course. The virus is most lethal for the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.

Symptoms: The symptoms of the virus are headaches, fever, pink itchy eyes, coughs, sneezes, sore throat, tightness in the chest, difficulty breathing, inflamed toes, and loss of smell or taste. The incubation period after exposure is from 5 to 14 days. People exposed may transmit the virus to others before they experience symptoms. However, some people with the virus may never have symptoms, yet still be able to transmit the virus to others.

Transmission: The virus is transmitted by direct contact between individuals from small droplets ejected when an infected person talks, coughs, or sneezes. The social distance of 6 feet is usually enough to prevent the virus being transmitted directly. However, small droplets from coughs or sneezes may travel much further than 6 feet and may contain hundreds of thousands of viruses. The droplets may persist in the air for several hours. They eventually settle on surfaces where the virus may live for up to several days, depending on the type of surface. For example, the virus is found to exist for a day on cardboard and up to three days on tile or plastic.

Infection: The virus infects a person by entering through their eyes, nose, or mouth. It may happen from being near an infected person, particularly if they are coughing or sneezing. Small droplets that settle on surfaces are transferred when you touch the surface and then it may infect you when you touch your face. Once on your hands, you will transfer the virus to everything else you touch until you wash your hands or kill the virus with hand sanitizer.

Precautions: The best precautions aim to keep the virus from being transmitted from person to person. From what we know about the virus, the following guidelines have been developed to keep it from spreading:

• Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Stay home as much as possible, particularly if you may be sick.
• Keep a social distance of at least 6 feet from other people when you are in public.
• Avoid touching surfaces in public places. Assume anything you touch may be contaminated.
• Wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or use sanitizer.
• Avoid touching your face, particularly rubbing your eyes.
• Wear a mask when in public, primarily to keep you from infecting other people. Remember you may spread the virus even though you have no symptoms.
• Avoid traveling to and from areas which have high levels of infection. Human movement is the main vector for spread of the virus.
• Avoid gatherings, particularly those which have more than 10 people.

The Future: Most states have issued orders based on the precautions above in order to keep their citizens safe. However, if the orders remain in place too long they will hurt the economy, but if they are relaxed too soon we may experience a second round of the virus. This would prolong the pandemic and hurt businesses even more. Most states, sometimes under political pressure, are relaxing the guidelines stepwise in order to allow businesses to open while keeping an eye on the of infection rate.

No matter what your state orders, it would be a good idea to follow the precautions above until the OK is given by healthcare professionals. The decision up is up to you. Please follow the guidelines to keep yourself and others safe.

Early Childhood Education

     Posted on Thu ,28/05/2020 by admin

Although this article is about early childhood education in Kansas, many other states are adding early education to their curriculum. Different states and individual school districts may vary greatly in the nature of programs, but they each have some common goals and features.

Many of the school districts in Kansas are adding pre-kindergarten programs for children that begin at the age of three. Though the age of three may seem too early to begin a child’s education, there is a growing interest in early childhood education. A child’s brain grows to about 90% of its capacity by the age of five. They are likened to a sponge, soaking up everything they see, hear, and experience. Children are adept at learning language then, and many skills they need later in life build on those early experiences.

The first formal research in the US on early childhood education was in Minnesota in the 1960’s. Two groups of children were randomly divided into an Experimental group, who received two years of early childhood education, and a Control group, who did not. The Experimental group was provided experiences that help children grow and thrive, such as stable and nurturing relationships with other children and adults, a language rich environment, experience with routines, and encouragement to explore through movement and their senses. They also learned to take turns, to lead and follow in play, to seek help when needed, to recognize emotions, and to control their impulses. In addition, they become familiar with numbers, the alphabet, and problem-solving skills.

Upon entering traditional school, the Experimental group members were more successful in the early grades, but it was found that by age 10 they performed about the same as their peers. The researchers were disappointed at first, but when they followed the Experimental group through school and into adulthood, they found many improvements. The experimental group were less likely to repeat grades or need remedial classes, and they were more likely to graduate from high school and attend college. They were also more successful in their careers and less likely to experienced health problem or be involved with the criminal justice system.

It was found that the children in early childhood education do better if the parents and caregivers are involved in the process. Many schools involve the parents through home visits and also encourage daycare centers to have children practice skills learned in early childhood education.

Surprisingly, the Federal Reserve is interested in research in early childhood education as a way to improve the workforce and improve economic development. The economic value of early childhood education programs has been found to greatly outweigh the cost. Economists who have analyzed the costs and benefits find that there is a rate of return of $5 to $15 for every dollar invested, with disadvantaged children seeing the greatest benefit. While children and their families benefit from investments in early education, the majority of benefits accrue to communities and society as a whole. It is also likely that the children become better parents and better citizens, extending the benefits forward.

Kansas legislators and educators are becoming more interested in early childhood education as they try to spend education dollars more efficiently. The 2019 Kansas Legislature increased K-12 school funding to allow for inflation, and the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that the increase was adequate. However, Kansas should not be satisfied with just adequate.
Kansas has always been known for its excellent schools, and we should keep it that way. One way to do that would be to increase early education programs. There are both Federal and private grants available to develop early childhood learning programs. The Kansas Legislature should also consider providing additional funding to start and maintain those programs. It would be an efficient way to improve educational outcomes at a minimal cost, and it would be a wise investment in our future.

Winners of the 2017 Environmental Hall of Fame/Shame Awards

     Posted on Sat ,25/01/2020 by admin
Earthrise2

Each year, this site takes a poll to find those most deserving to be in the Environmental Hall of Fame or the Environmental Hall of Shame.The year 2017 saw some real heroes and villains with respect to the environment. It is important that we recognize those who most affected the environment, for good or ill, by their words or actions. Below are the results of the balloting along with a suitable gift for each.

Hall Of Fame

1.The US Military – (35%) – for adapting renewable energy to big bases and for pointing out that global warming causes global instability. Their gift is having political leaders who respect their research.

2.  Jerry Brown, the governor of California – (26%) – for supporting strong environmental programs and for forming a coalition of 15 states to support the Paris climate. Gift: Several more states in his coalition.   

3. Norway – (22%) – for their investment in renewable energy and for their plans to cut the use of fossil fuels. Gift: Clean air for its citizens.

4: Elon Musk – (17%) – for developing the lithium ion batteries and for promoting electric vehicles. Gift: Spiraling upward stock prices.

Hall of Shame

1. President Donald Trump – (76%) – for pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement and for opening up public lands for exploitation by fossil fuel companies. Gift: A chance to rejoin the Paris  Agreement.

2. The USA – (14%) – Though it has 5% of the world’s population, it uses 25% of the world’s energy and has resisted reducing its energy use. Gift: A national social conscience.

3/4. Scott Pruitt – (5%) – Past EPA Director, for not accepting the science of global warming and for killing  policies which protected the public from pollution. Gift: Drinking water from a polluted stream.

3/4.   Rick Perry – (5%) – Past Secretary of Energy, for his spectacular turn around on renewable energy.   As Governor, he moved Texas to a top renewable energy producer. As Secretary of Energy, he adopted without remorse the role of promoting dirty forms of energy as his primary responsibility. Gift: May he be remembered for the former.

Note! My apologies for not posting this in a timely manner. I plan to catch up by taking a poll for 2018 and 2019.

The Registration Fee Increase on Electric Vehicles

     Posted on Mon ,27/05/2019 by admin

Though this is written from a Kansas perspective, it may be similar to an attempt by other states to impose additional fees and taxes on hybrid and electric vehicles (EVs). Traditionally, state roads have been funded by a tax on fuel.  Some state lawmakers are concerned that hybrid and electric vehicles are not paying their share of the cost of road construction. To be proactive, which is a novelty, they wish to add an additional fee onto electric vehicles to make sure they pay their fair share the cost of roads. It seems reasonable, but it is not.

Owners of hybrids and EVs help reduce health and the environmental costs and pay more in other taxes and than owners of the standard internal combustion models. Hybrid vehicles get about the same mileage as fuel-efficient gasoline cars, and an additional fee is not added on to those. How fair is that?

Electric vehicles contribute to people’s health and the environment. EVs reduce air pollution and the costs associated with lung and heart diseases which are made worse by particulates, sulfur and nitrogen oxides, and ozone. Though air pollution is more of a problem in the cities, those in rural areas are still affected by extreme weather and by the increased medical and insurance costs associated with air pollution. EVs reduce carbon emissions and thereby reduce the associated risk of extreme weather caused by global warming. Conventional electric power plants are about twice as efficient at converting fuel to energy as internal combustion engines. That means electric vehicles reduce emissions by about half, even if charged from a conventional coal fired power plant.

At one time the federal government recognized the value of electric vehicles by providing a $7500 rebate to encourage their purchase. Likewise, many states give tax rebates on the purchase of electric vehicles. California gives rebates of up to $2500 for purchase of an EV, Colorado has a $5000 rebate, and 10 other states give similar rebates. Those tax incentives are now being phased out, as there are forces at work to discourage electric vehicles.

Last session, Kansas passed HB 2214 which raised the registration fee on hybrid vehicles to $50 dollars and those on electric vehicles to $100. That amount probably will not discourage anyone from buying an EV or a hybrid, but putting a tax on EVs is a move in the wrong direction. Those who buy EVs pay a premium for those vehicles because they are concerned about air pollution and the environment. It does not seem right that they are rewarded with an increased registration fee, especially when they already pay more in purchase price and property tax to upgrade to an environmentally friendly vehicle.

For examples, Ford’s basic gasoline auto is the Focus which has an MSRP of $18,000 with a property tax of $294. The buyer of a CMAX, a hybrid Focus ($25,000), pays $412 in property tax and of Ford’s Energi plug-in hybrid($28,000) pays $490 in property tax. The gas powered Nissan Sentra ($21,000) pays $342 in property tax while the comparable Nissan Leaf EV ($31,000) pays $503. The property tax decreases each year but the differential remains so that over the life of the vehicle, the buyer of a hybrid or EV pays, not only more for the car but considerably more in property taxes than the buyer of a comparable gasoline vehicle. Besides the additional property tax, EV owners also pay taxes on the electricity used to charge their car. Westar customers, for instance, pay a 6.15% sales tax on electricity as well as a property tax surcharge of $0.001209 per kilowatt hour. It is no wonder owners of hybrids and EVs feel they have are taxed enough already.

In 2010, the Kansas Legislature enacted a 10 year highway/transportation program to ensure job growth, economic development, safety and overall prosperity for our state. The $8 billion,10 year KDOT program was funded through a variety of sources, including dedicating four– tenths of a cent in state sales tax to the highway fund and bonds. However, to shore up the state’s general fund, previous legislatures transferred $2.3 billion from KDOT to plug budget holes. The extra registration fee put on EVS is expected to raise about $600,000 annually, which would require 40 years to pay back KDOT if the purchase of additional EVS was discouraged.

The most reasonable way to fund our roads into the future is to restore the 0.4 cent diverted from KDOT and to add an additional 0.4 cent, which would come partly from the additional taxes paid by electric vehicle owners. As the number of electric vehicles grows, so would the highway funds.

Kansas Legislature lets down public on regulations

     Posted on Mon ,23/04/2018 by admin

“I can understand why they want to be free of regulations and scrutiny, but I cannot understand why we should let them.” That is a famous quote from Drew Edmondson, the former Atty. Gen. of Oklahoma who sued Tyson for polluting the scenic rivers of eastern Oklahoma. Tyson responded by helping to elect an attorney general and a governor who were less concerned about regulations and pollution. Tyson now wants to expand their business into Kansas, and the Kansas Legislators seems amenable to “letting them”.

 

The Kansas Legislature recently passed HB 405, which changes the animal conversion rate ( i.e., the number of chickens whose manure weight equals that from one cow) from 0.008, the previous value, to 0.003. That small change has big consequences. The result is that now a chicken farm may house 330,000 chickens, and it may be placed within 1/4 of a mile of neighboring houses and within 100 feet of neighboring property lines.

 

Some Legislators were unconcerned about the effect on property rights. Representative John Whitmer, who voted for the bill, justified his vote by saying, “local councils and county governments will still have to change current zoning and planning maps.” That may not be the case. The September KC Business Journal suggested that some Tonganoxie residents think Tyson “may have reason to believe they can declare their operation an agricultural rather than an industrial use to avoid rezoning.”

Also, 51 counties have no zoning laws. SB 405 needed an amendment for home rule, where county residents could have the right to file petitions against industrial-agricultural chicken barns and have a county-wide vote. That amendment failed. Apparently, our Legislators are for local rule and property rights when they ask for our vote, but not when they pass legislation.

This was published in the Kansas Times Sentinel on April 5, 2018.

 

(C) 2018 – JC Moore

 

 

Bipartisan carbon fee and dividend would brighten future for generations

     Posted on Mon ,23/04/2018 by admin

This is an Op Ed article for Earth Day published in the Wichita Eagle. April 19, 2018 04:03 AM

Bipartisan carbon fee and dividend would brighten future for generations

BY DARREL HART AND AND JC MOORE

 

Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, we have enjoyed the benefits of fossil fuels. Today, we understand that there are health, environmental, and economic costs associated with fossil fuel use.

The growing burden of greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide (CO2), is changing our climate and increasing the risk of catastrophic climate events. We want our children and grandchildren to have clean air, safe drinking water, and a healthy environment as we did. To do that, we need to cut our fossil fuel use and shift to renewable energy sources in a way that does not damage our economy.

Wanting to help make this a reality, a group of Wichita citizens formed a chapter of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby. We are a bi-partisan, non-profit organization working to build relationships with members of Congress. We work to build the political will for Congress to pass legislation to reduce carbon emissions and create job opportunities in renewable energy.

CCL supports the carbon fee and dividend proposal as co-authored by Secretary George Shultz, Republican statesman and secretary of State, Labor, and Treasury. The proposal would collect a fee on carbon at the point it enters the economy, initially at $15 per ton of CO2.

 

A border adjustment protects American workers, businesses and agriculture. The carbon fee is not a tax as it would be rebated 100 percent to American households.

The fee will initially increase the price of gasoline about 9 cents per gallon in the first year and about 6 cents each succeeding year. Other fuels will see a similar price increase. Rising energy costs will be offset by the carbon dividend which, for a family of four, will be about $30 per month the first year and grow to over $200 per month after 10 years.

People who reduce their fossil fuel use, or choose renewable energy, will be able to increase their disposable income by saving more of their dividend. The monthly dividend check will also remind every family that they have a stake in reducing carbon emissions.

To see the effect of the carbon fee and dividend on the economy, CCL commissioned a research study by the nonpartisan Regional Economic Models. The study found that the carbon fee and dividend approach would reduce the carbon emissions to 50 percent of the 1990 levels in just 20 years. During that time, it would add 2.1 million jobs to the American economy, increase the gross domestic product by $75 billion, and save 220,000 lives by reducing lung and heart diseases.

We have confidence in our work because we see progress. Seventy-two members of Congress (36 Republicans and 36 Democrats) now sit on the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus we promote. This caucus explores policy options that address the challenges of our changing climate.

There you have it. CCL’s carbon fee and dividend proposal will allow us to avoid the cost and risks of climate change. It provides the certainty needed for long-range planning and lets consumers and markets determine winners and losers, not regulators. It sends a market signal to entrepreneurs that there is profit in adopting energy-saving technologies and offering innovative energy-saving or low carbon products. And it assures our children and grandchildren will have clean air, pure water, and a healthy environment.

Darrel Hart and JC Moore are with the Wichita chapter of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby.

A Tribute to Stephen Hawking

     Posted on Tue ,27/03/2018 by admin

In the wake of Stephen Hawking’s death, many are remembering him for his renowned intellect and his great accomplishments. Diagnosed with ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease, which few survive more than a few years, he lived to the age of 76. Though he became increasingly paralyzed and was confined to a wheelchair for much of his life, he explored the universe with his mind and imagination. Though he had great difficulty communicating, he wrote dozens of scientific papers, gave hundreds of lectures, and wrote A Short History of Time, one of the most popular books of this century. Though his book was understandable by nonscientists, many of Hawking’s theories on the nature of the universe, black holes, and time are understood only by our greatest theoretical physicists.

Stephen Hawking stands among the great scientists, Aristotle, Galileo, Newton, Madame Curie, and Einstein. Aristotle gave us a stable universe governed by the laws of nature, which could be understood by observation and reason. Galileo showed that when there was a conflict between science and religious dogma, we should follow science. Though theologians insisted that the Earth was at the center of the Solar System, Galileo  showed with scientific evidence that God made the Solar System with the Sun at the center. Newton discovered the force that held the planets in place and the laws that describe motion. Madame Curie developed  our understanding of radioactive elements, nuclear radiation, and x-rays.

Einstein showed that matter could be converted to energy, and he developed the interrelation between mass, time,  and distance. Einstein may have also save democracy. Though he was a pacifist, he realized the dangers of letting Nazi Germany be first to develop atomic weapons, and he convinced Roosevelt that we should do it first. Stephen Hawking also applied his great mind and his heart to man’s condition. If we’re going to honor him as one of the world’s greatest minds, then we should to pay attention to the lessons and values he spoke about during his time on this planet as noted by Care2Causes:

Climate Change: In Hawking’s later years, no topic seemed to stir him more than climate change. “We’re close to the tipping point where global warming becomes irreversible,” he said. “The solutions are already known…  We must counter corporate greed and corrupt politicians NOW to give humanity a fighting chance.”

Public Health Care: Diagnosed with motor neurone disease, few survive as long as Hawking did. He credits his longevity to the NHS (National Health Service) in the UK for giving him the care that would have been unaffordable in systems like those that exist in the United States.

Feminism: “I have always supported women’s rights,” said Hawking in an interview. When asked whether science had dictated his outlook on gender equality, he argued that it’s not a matter of science but “general acceptance that women are at least the equals of men.”

Assisted Suicide: Though Hawking seriously considered ending his own life in his young years, he ultimately decided to hold on. Still, that doesn’t mean it made him opposed to euthanasia altogether. He recognizes it as an important option to those who are at the end of their lives.

American Politics: Asked if his brilliant mind could explain how Donald Trump could ever get elected to lead the free world, he simply said, “I can’t.” Some things just defy logic.

Nuclear War: Hawking considers nuclear weapons one of the biggest threats to the survival of the human race. “Technology has advanced at such a pace that this aggression may destroy us all by nuclear or biological war,” Hawking warned.

Scientific Funding and Advancement: It’s not surprising that a scientist would advocate for better scientific funding or to utilize research in public policy.  The future is uncertain, and the best we can do is to gather as much information as we can to best face the challenges of tomorrow.

Though our leaders once based their decisions upon science and evidence, there is a disturbing trend now among our politicians to ignore science. Stephen Hawking believes that if the human race is to survive and prosper, we must base our political decisions on science and reason. He gives us a way to proceed, not only in science, but in national policies. We should honor his ideas.

(C) 2018 J.C. Moore

 

Please Nominate Your Candidates for the 2017 Environmental Hall of Fame/Shame Awards

     Posted on Tue ,27/03/2018 by admin

Last year, 2017, saw some real heroes and villains with respect to the environment. It is important that we recognize those who most affected the environment, for good or ill, by their words or actions.

Each year, this site Earthrise2takes a poll to find those most deserving to be in the Environmental Hall of Fame or the Environmental Hall of Shame. Please send  your nominations  for  each category by e-mail through the “Contact the Author”   link, send it to moorejc2646@gmail.com, or put it in the comment section. If you would like, please include a short reason that your nominee should be chosen and suggest a suitable gift if they win.

Nominations will be taken until May 15, 2018. The nominees will then be  listed  and this site will conduct a poll to determine the winner in each category.  You may suggest a suitable prize for your nominee. Please be imaginative, as particularly thoughtful or humorous  nominations will  be recognized and published on this site.

(c) 2018 J.C. Moore

KS HB 2641: A Step To Limit Induced Seismic Activity

     Posted on Tue ,13/02/2018 by admin

The proposed Kansas House Bill 2641 will limit the amount of  fracking disposal fluids that can be injected at a given site. It is a start, but Kansas needs to learn from Oklahoma’s experience and be proactive in limiting induced earthquakes from disposal wells.

Rationale:  Historically, Oklahoma has had very few earthquakes. The graph below shows that Oklahoma had an average of about two earthquakes per year up until about 2008, when horizontal drilling and fracking began to be used to recover gas and oil. Along with the increase in fracking, came the need for disposal wells to get rid of the waste water from the fracking operations. And along with the wastewater disposal wells, came an increase in earthquakes.

 

For some reason, it took Oklahoma a long time to link the two and take effective action, even though the link has been known for decades. When the U.S. Army’s Rocky Mountain Arsenal built a disposal well in 1961 to get rid of waste fluids, seismic activity in the area increased. The well was plugged and the earthquakes stopped. A study by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) determined that the “deep, hazardous waste disposal well at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal was causing significant seismic events in the vicinity of Denver, Colorado.”

Our experience:  In November of 2011, an earthquake measuring 5.6 rattled Oklahoma and was felt as far away as Illinois. We were living in Terlton, Oklahoma at the time and felt several earthquakes, including that one. Small cracks appeared in our sheet rock and in the foundation of our house. When we sold our house in Terlton to move back to Kansas, the mortgage company insisted the damage be inspected by a structural engineer. Structural engineers were in great demand at the time to inspect earthquake damage and it caused a long delay. Our house passed the inspection but we had the added delays and expense of hiring the structural engineer. Other people have not been so lucky.

Damage: A search on Google for “newspaper articles on earthquake damage in Oklahoma”, gave 2,270,000 hits and there are thousands of pictures showing the earthquake damage in Oklahoma, such as these:

Some of the damage has extended as far north as Wichita, as shown by these pictures:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fracking related earthquakes have caused millions of dollars of property damage in Oklahoma, and many Oklahoma residents are now purchasing earthquake insurance, when it was never needed before. Many Kansas residents are also wondering if they need to undergo the additional expense of earthquake insurance. The damage costs to public utilities, buildings, roads, and bridges are born by taxpayers. Although there have been several lawsuits in Oklahoma against disposal well companies, very little money has been recovered to pay for induced earthquake damages.

Further action:  Kansas has a unique opportunity to learn from what happened in Oklahoma, and take action to limit induced earthquakes and the cost to Kansas citizens. Effective legislation is needed to:

1) restrict the location of disposal wells.
2) limit the amount of wastewater that can be disposed of at a site.
3) limit the pressure which can be used to inject the wastewater.
4) require that any disposal well linked to significant seismic activity be further regulated.
5) require that disposal well companies carry liability insurance and pay earthquake damage claims promptly.

Kansas House Bill 2641 is certainly a step in the right direction. It addresses number 2) above and asks that every county in Kansas be under the same regulations by the KCC to keep volume at 8,000 barrels per day, which is considered a level that minimizes earthquakes. That is a start, but more legislation is needed.

(c) 2018  – J.C. Moore

Local Action on Sustainability Needed: Bring SOAR to Your Community

     Posted on Mon ,05/02/2018 by admin

A group of citizens in Wichita, Kansas formed the Society of Alternative Resources (SOAR) as a way to improve the sustainability of their city. The purpose of SOAR is to advise and assist local government, businesses, and residents on Alternative Resources, Sustainability, and Renewable Energy issues. Its long-term goal is to ensure that our children and grandchildren have clean air, pure water, and a livable Earth.

SOAR decided to use the STAR communities rating system to interact with the local government. Below is the matrix which STAR uses to evaluate a community’s sustainability. It also acts as a guideline for ways to improve the community and evaluate it’s progress.
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Each item in the matrix has further explanation in the STAR-V2 guidelines.
Many cities invest millions to attract businesses and make their city more competitive in job creation,  entrepreneurship, workforce development, and capital investment. They also need to invest in their communities’ Sustainability.  The things that attract and keep the millennial’s, the talent, and the young entrepreneurs to a city fall under Sustainability.
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Below are two letters from the local Wichita Eagle newspaper designed to promote SOAR and its goals.
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 How to Improve the Qualify of Life in Wichita  11/10/2017

“Local Sustainability Issues” was the topic of the October Luzzati Lecture Series at WSU. Zach Baumer, Climate Program Manager of the Office of Sustainability in Austin, talked about the city’s effort to “green” its environment. Sustainable practices and a healthy environment are important issues for businesses, young professionals, and entrepreneurs when they consider locating in a city.

STAR ratings give an overall picture of the quality of life in a city and the desirability of living there. The STAR system considers a city’s progress in nine categories: Built Environment, Climate and Energy, Economy and Jobs, Education, Arts and Community, Equity and Empowerment, Health and Safety, Natural Systems, and Innovation and Processes. Austin rates as a four-star community with 476 points of a possible 720. Wichita has a three-star rating with 231 points.

Clearly, we have room to improve our community’s sustainable practices and our STAR rating. It will take effort and resources, but our businesses, city leadership, Chamber of Commerce, and our citizens should support improvements in the Wichita community. After all, we all have to live here.

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Time for a Charge  01/19/2018

It is imperative that Wichita improve its air quality. We were lucky that last summer was mild, but in hot summers there have been many days where Wichita exceeded the federal standard for ozone. That puts people’s health at risk and, as the Wichita Eagle has reported, failure to meet air quality standards could lead to fines up to $10 million a year. One way to improve Wichita ’s air quality would be to use more electric vehicles in the city.

When it comes to electric vehicles, Wichita has a chicken or the egg problem. People do not buy electric vehicles because there are few places to charge them, and there is no need for more charging stations as there are few electric vehicles. Kansas City has over 1000 charging stations while Wichita has seven. The Society for Alternate Resources (SOAR) is trying to improve that by taking the initiative to see that 200 charging stations are installed in Wichita.

SOAR plans to do that by partnering with Westar energy, the city, and local businesses to receive matching grants from the VW settlement. VW was caught falsifying its emission records and, as part of the settlement, Kansas will receive $15 million to reduce emissions, with $2.25 million set aside to install EV charging stations. Please support SOAR’s efforts.

 

Isn’t it time to form a similar organization in your community?

 

(c) 2018  – J.C. Moore