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

Climate Change: The Oceans Response

     Posted on Mon ,22/05/2017 by admin

This guest article is a PowerPoint presentation given by Dr. Rick Cowlishaw in April at the Citizens’ Climate Education meeting in Wichita. Dr. Cowlishaw is Professor of Biology at Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas. He describes how the warming oceans, altered ocean currents, sea level rise, and ocean acidification are affecting the oceans, marine life, and eventually us.

Though you may miss some things without Dr. Cowlishaw’s guidance, the slides are mostly self-explanatory. You will need a PowerPoint program to view the slides –  you may  download a free viewer here. The slides will display as set in your viewer. Please click on the link below to start the program.

Climate Change_The Oceans Response 

We greatly appreciate the work that Dr. Cowlishaw put into the presentation, and for his permission to post it here.

J.C. Moore

 

President Trump’s Tax Plan: a Disaster for the Economy

     Posted on Sun ,21/05/2017 by admin

Article Photo

Trumps new tax plan looks a lot like Gov. Brownback’s tax plan for Kansas, which had been disastrous for the state’s economy.  It is based on Laffer’s curve which is displayed at the right.

The Laffer curve looks like a normal distribution curve. If the nation is on the high side of the curve with taxes around 80%, then the curve predicts that cutting taxes will cause a move to the left along the curve to increased tax revenue. That is likely to improve economic growth.  If the nation is on the low side of the curve with taxes around 40%, then cutting them will lead to the left along the curve, toward decreasing tax revenue. That  likely leads to a stagnating economy, and certainly greater public debt.

We are now on the low side – so cutting taxes will not lead to increased revenue or spur economic growth. Laffer should know that, but he has abandoned reason and professional ethics and now just supports tax cuts without reference to his own curve. Kansas pay Laffer $75,000 in consultation fees. Here is how it has worked out in Kansas as described by Duane Goossen, who was the Kansas budget director for 12 years prior to Brownback’s experiment:

  • “Just like the Brownback tax cuts, the Trump plan makes dramatic changes to tax policy by consolidating income tax rates and reworking deductions. Most notably, the Trump plan offers an enormous tax break to individuals who receive “business pass through income.” In Kansas this feature has become known derogatorily as the LLC loophole, allowing business income to be sheltered from income tax while people who earn a paycheck must pay tax.
  • Given that the same economists who advised Brownback now advise Trump, it’s unsurprising that his administration uses similar arguments to sell its plan: the tax cuts will grow the economy and create millions of jobs; the tax cuts will pay for themselves; everyone will benefit. Brownback said all that, too.
  •  But after five years of the Brownback experiment in Kansas, we know the real result. Kansas has an anemic economy and one of the lowest rates of job growth in the nation. A dramatic drop in revenue broke the state budget, wiped out reserves, significantly boosted state debt, and put public education at risk. And that part about everyone benefiting — well, it turns out that the bulk of the benefits went to the wealthiest Kansans while the tax bill to low-income Kansans went up.
  • The idea that tax cuts will “pay for themselves” or that tax cuts for the wealthy will “trickle down” to the middle class should be added to the list of discredited ideas that sound good but don’t work. The sell job was seductive, but Kansans have the raw experience to grasp that the experiment carried out on us was a failure.
  • Do you know how hard Kansas legislators must labor now to fix the financial disaster? Are you catching on that general fund revenue has fallen $1 billion below expenses? Can you see how all political energy goes into crisis management rather than building our future? Is that what you want for the entire country?”

From : http://www.kansas.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/article151800857.html

(c) 2017 J.C. Moore

Environmental Security and Renewable Energy

     Posted on Thu ,18/05/2017 by admin

Below are two letters published in the Wichita Eagle recently. They remind us that there are many reasons for taking action on climate change. They are reprinted  with the authors’ permissions.

 

Grow economy with wind energy

 As a 30-year-old living in the middle of Wichita, I am constantly thinking about job growth and how to keep my friends from moving away to states with job opportunities more in line with their needs. I am in love with this state because of its natural beauty – prairie grasses, limestone and sunsets that I can enjoy nearly every day.
The more I learn about renewable energy, the more excited I become for what it could do for our state. At a legislative roundtable in 2013 discussing the benefits of Kansas wind energy, they said that more than 13,000 jobs could be created from construction and operation of wind turbines. The American Wind Energy Association reports as of late 2016 that Kansas has 4.4 gigawatts of wind capacity.
What if we utilized our energy capabilities right here instead of purchasing coal from other states? Let’s grow our economy and start thinking of alternatives that would withstand our extreme realities of droughts and floods, employ citizens, and allow Kansas to become more energy independent.
Alisha Gridley, Wichita

Environmental security matters

Let’s talk about security – the state of being absent of danger or fear. The types of security are many: home, health, food, financial, cyber, national, etc.What may not come so readily to mind is environmental security — which is to live in an environment that provides clean air and water and a predictable and livable climate.
Inaction on climate change poses a threat to our environmental security. Climate scientists are convinced, based upon a vast body of evidence, that human-caused climate change is happening. Unabated, climate change will result in an increase of extreme weather-related disasters and coastal flooding that will consume an escalating percentage of our gross domestic product, putting our economic and national security at risk.
The U.S. House’s Bipartisan Climate Caucus recognizes this risk. This group, split evenly with Democrats and Republicans, promotes legislation that would collect a fee on fossil fuel production and distribute all the collections equally among the American citizenry as a dividend. This offers a market-based approach to deal with climate change and achieve environmental security.
RICHARD COWLISHAW, WINFIELD
 
Note: Both authors are members of the Citizens’ Climate Education and the  Citizens’ Climate Lobby  groups in Wichita. They are both strong advocates for a carbon fee and dividend system to ensure clean air, pure water, and a healthy future for our children.

Westar Energy’s Proposal to Increase Rates on Solar Customers

     Posted on Tue ,16/05/2017 by admin

Westar Energy is proposing a rate increase for customers who install solar panels or other distributive energy sources. Those Net Energy Metering (NEM) customers would have to choose between an additional $50 a month energy charge, or a $15 fixed fee plus a per-kilowatt rate demand charge based on the previous month’s maximum usage. If approved, Westar’s rate proposal will increase the payback time for installing solar panels from 12 years to more than 20 years, greatly discouraging solar installations.

As a Westar stockholder, I am opposed to additional fees or higher charges on Net Energy Metering customers. The NEM customers should be seen as a resource rather than a liability and should be encouraged. They should be treated just as any other customer when they draw energy from the grid, and just as any other supplier for the net energy they produce. Does it really matter if Westar buys energy from NEM customers or from the Southwest power pool?

Westar’s website  says it will “support public policies and initiatives to accelerate the development and use of environmentally beneficial and cost effective strategies for energy efficiency programs for both customers and Westar’s own operations, zero – or low – emissions generation technologies, and renewable energy resources.”  That is a good policy, but this proposal is inconsistent with it.

One of the biggest future costs to Westar would be to build additional power plants, so Westar encourages energy conservation.  If I cut my electricity usage by 50% by installing more insulation and storm windows, I am applauded for following Westar’s conservation guidelines. If I cut my electricity usage by 50% by installing solar panels, I would be charged a higher electric rate. That is irrational, as NEM customers would help reduce the need for new power plants just as energy conservation does.

Westar should not be concerned about losing revenue from solar customers. Residential customers pay a customer fee, an electricity fee, a fuel charge, a distribution fee, an environmental fee, an energy efficiency charge, and even Westar’s property taxes. Last June, our bill was $24.95 for electricity, but our total bill came out to be $53.27 after the fees were added. NEM customers will pay less for energy charges, but will still pay the other fees. If Westar makes it too expensive, then potential NEM customers may install extra battery  capacity such as a Powerwall, and withdraw from the grid entirely.

Distributive generation should be seen as a resource. Westar has been proactive in developing wind and solar energy and now gets 51% of its energy from noncarbon sources. In the future, Westar will need to replace some of its coal power plants and may need to reduce its use of natural gas to cut its greenhouse gas emissions. Distributed generation would help replace the energy they produce without requiring capital investment from Westar.

NEM customers will help reduce pollution and environmental degradation. Westar has three coal-fired power plants which operate without scrubbers. Those plants should be phased out immediately and Westar should begin phasing out its other coal-fired power plants to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. Though natural gas is cheap now, that may not be true in the future. There is a link between fracking and earthquakes, and fracking activities are being curtailed. This will lead to higher gas prices. Though natural gas produces 2 ½ times as much energy per mole of carbon dioxide produced, it has a global warming potential 82 times that of carbon dioxide. If even 4% of the natural gas used for energy is leaked during production and transportation, then any advantage of using it for fuel will be lost

Coal-fired power plants release mercury, chromium, lead, cadmium, arsenic, sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, carbon dioxide,  particulates, and radioactive isotopes. Burning  coal releases millions of tons of pollutants into the air and leaves several hundred million tons behind in the coal ash. Some pollutants stay in the air and others eventually find their way into the water, the food chain, and into us. The heavy metals are carcinogenic and accumulate in tissue. Even exposure below the allowed levels increases the chance of cancer over time. The sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, and carbon dioxide released by coal combustion harm plants, produce acid rain, and increase the greenhouse gas concentrations. Switching to renewable energy would greatly reduce these pollutants and help preserve the environment for future generations.

Encouraging NEM will benefit Westar and its customers.  A study by Crossborder Energy in 2014 found NEM allows utilities to avoid costs of generation and fuel, maintenance and upgrade of transmission and distribution infrastructure, transmission losses (which account for 7% of losses), capacity purchases, and compliance with renewable energy standards. The study concluded,” The cost which utilities avoid when they accept NEM power exported to their grid shows that NEM does not produce a cost to nonparticipating ratepayers; instead it creates a small net benefit on average across the residential markets.” While it does cause power companies to have to adjust their loads accordingly, NEM reduces peak loads, transmission losses, and the need for new power plants.  In California, the study found NEM “delivers more than $92 million in annual benefits to non-solar customers”.

Similar research studies in Vermont, New York, California, Texas, and Nevada also concluded that net metering provided a net positive benefit for utility companies and their customers. A 2015 study done in Missouri is relevant to Kansas. A cost-benefit study of net metering in Missouri arrived at the same conclusion as the other studies, “ Net metering provides a net benefit. “ Missouri has 6000 net metering customers while Westar now has approximately 300. Westar certainly should encourage more.

This proposal to impose a fee or higher rates on NEM customers is the result of short-term thinking. It will harm Westar and its stakeholders in the long run. Investing in clean energy protects the environment, reduces deaths and disease from air pollution, and creates good, local jobs. Westar  must develop policies to encourage the development of renewable energy investments and energy conservation. Our energy needs will best be served by a mixture of traditional and alternate energy sources, but we must be proactive in developing our renewable energy resources as quickly as possible.

 

(c) 2017 – J.C Moore

We Should Not Weaken the EPA

     Posted on Sat ,06/05/2017 by admin

 

Opponents of the EPA are now seeking comments on regulations that need to be eliminated by the EPA. They are, of course, focusing on the regulations that save businesses money by allowing them to pollute the environment. Please submit a comment at the link above asking that  no steps be taken to weaken the EPA.

It is our birthright that we and future Americans have clean air, pure water, and a livable Earth. The EPA has done a great job in limiting pollution to our environment and to remove the regulations that protect us would be a grave mistake.
Though many would like to see the EPA stop limiting carbon emissions, there is well-documented scientific evidence, supported by 97+ percent of climate scientists who are members of the American Geophysical Union, that carbon emissions are making undesirable changes in the Earth and its eco systems. The U.S. is second only to China in emissions but emits six times as much CO2 on a per capita basis. If the U.S. is not willing to reduce its emissions, why should other countries?

If anything, the EPA should strengthen the Clean Power Plan and reduce the amount of coal burned. Coal contains small amounts of mercury, chromium, lead, cadmium, arsenic, sulfur, particulates, and radioactive isotopes. Man burns 6 billion tons of coal each year, releasing millions of tons of pollutants into the air and leaving several hundred million tons behind in the coal ash. Some pollutants eventually find their way into the water, the food chain, and into us. For comparison, mercury is 100 times as toxic as cyanide, arsenic is 20 times as toxic, and chromium(VI) is 4 times as toxic. These three are also are carcinogenic and accumulate in tissue. Even exposure below the allowed levels increases the chance of cancer over time. The sulfur and nitrogen oxides released by coal combustion harm plants and produce acid rain.

Polls show that the public does not support weakening the Clean Power Plan. The EPA’s plan may lead to increased electricity costs in the short term, but will lead to lower electric rates in the future. Coal and transportation prices are certain to increase in the future while the cost of renewable energy is falling. It costs upfront to build wind turbines and solar installations but, once they are in place, they are expected to function for 30 years or longer without any need for fuel.The EPA projects the Clean Power Plan’s proposed guidelines for particulates alone could prevent up to 3,600 deaths, 1,700 heart attacks, 90,000 asthma attacks, and 300,000 missed work and school days per year. As a result, for every dollar Americans spend on the Clean Power Plan, we will gain up to $4 worth of health benefits. So in terms of future energy costs, environmental benefits, and health benefits, the EPA Clean Power Plan is good policy for our citizens.

You may submit a comment up until May 15 at https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=EPA-HQ-OA-2017-0190-0042.

(C)  2017 J.C. Moore

Alternate Facts Make Fake News

     Posted on Sat ,06/05/2017 by admin
Article Photo

Kansas now has its own fake news source, The Sentinel . Not only does its alternate news misinform the public, but it provides cover for politicians who use it to justify their positions. This letter describing The Sentinel was published in the Wichita Eagle on May 5, 2017.

Alternate facts

The Wichita Pachyderm Club recently hosted a talk titled “Fake News – Hidden News: Holding Government and the Media Accountable.” The presentation was given by Dave Trabert, president of the Kansas Policy Institute, and Danedri Herbert, editor of The Sentinel, a new online news service spearheaded by KPI.

According to Herbert, the role of The Sentinel is to report facts that mainstream media misses or won’t tell you. For instance, she said that factors other than the state’s failure to expand Medicaid were mainly responsible for hospital closings in Kansas. The hospitals, the state’s editorial boards, and the Alliance for a Healthy Kansas have said that Medicaid expansion wasn’t the only factor but it was the major contributor in closings. The Sentinel article does not report that more than $1.8 billion in federal funding to date has been lost io Kansas by not expanding Medicaid and, more importantly, more than 150,000 working Kansans haven’t been able to qualify for Medicaid.

Journalism’s ethics require that publications seek the truth, the whole truth, and publish it; avoid bias for ideological or financial reasons; and avoid sensationalizing headlines and news to attract readership. When asked if the Sentinel would follow those ethical guidelines, the answer from the editor was not a resounding yes but an equivocation of how The Sentinel intends to report what the mainstream media misses – essentially the alternate facts.

J.C. Moore, Kechi

For those unfamiliar with Kansas politics, the Kansas Policy Institute makes up facts to support Gov. Brownback’s positions, and then Gov. Brownback and his supporters quote the KPI’s synthesized facts to justify their position. It is no wonder that Kansas is doing well for its wealthiest but not doing well for the rest of its citizens.

(c) 2017  J.C. Moore

Green Energy Is Not a Frivolous “Add on”

     Posted on Mon ,03/04/2017 by admin

Article Photo
Dr. Pirotte’s clinic with solar panels

This is a reprint of a letter to the Wichita Eagle from Dr. Patrick Pirotte, which explains why renewable energy is important for our future.

Dr. Patrick Pirotte, O.D., is a board certified Fellow in the College of Optometrists in Vision Development and treats children with vision and learning-related vision problems. He lectures nationwide on the diagnosis and treatment of vision problems in children and on the impact of vision problems on learning and classroom performance. He is a member of the Citizens Climate Lobby and is an advocate for their carbon fee and dividend system to ensure a healthy future for our children.

The letter below is reprinted with his permission:

“I read with interest recent statements by Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., about renewable energy in Kansas (Oct. 1 Eagle). To imply that the only thing that green energy is doing in Kansas or elsewhere is a frivolous “add on” is incorrect.

Currently installed wind and solar are eliminating hundreds of millions of tons of carbon dioxide while providing reliable energy at competitive prices. The idea that fossil fuel plants must be constantly kept running to back up intermittent sources such as solar or wind is not true.

When President Obama’s Clean Power Plan is allowed to go into effect, there will be a dramatic reduction in respiratory and cardiovascular diseases nationally and internationally. Proponents of burning fossil fuels should recognize these benefits and champion clean energy, saving lives and lowering health care costs.

Furthermore, the price of fossil fuels is not the just cost of fossil fuels, but also the external costs to the environment and people’s health. Because of that, there is a constant error in the way carbon pricing is discussed.

Senator Moran and his colleagues should consider a practical and well-studied proposal to charge a fee on carbon and give a dividend to each household, protecting those who would be harmed by the increased cost of their energy beyond their ability to pay. It is not a tax. Most importantly, it uses the market to send price signals to consumers to move their purchases away from fossil fuels, which will reduce climate change harm from burning them.”

PAT PIROTTE, WICHITA

 

Note: Dr. Pirotte is not only an advocate for renewable energy, but serves as an example of what can be done. He has installed 40 kW of solar panels on his 9000 square foot clinic as pictured above . They have a battery storage system and supply 90% of the energy needed to run the clinic. It is connected by a net metering system to the grid and on sunny days, particularly if the clinic is closed, his installation sends a considerable amount of electricity back onto the grid. He estimates the solar panels save him $6200 per year on his electricity costs and have a payback time of 14 years at current rates. His clinic serves as an example of how businesses can save money and energy by installing solar panels.

(C) 2017 J.C. Moore

Beans to Beef: How Diet Affects the Climate and Your Health

     Posted on Wed ,15/03/2017 by admin

This guest article is a PowerPoint presentation given by Jane Byrnes to the March Citizens Climate Education meeting. Jane is a Licensed Dietitian and a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. It is a balanced presentation encouraging you to eat more locally grown fruits and vegetables and encouraging you to eat less meat, particularly beef and lamb.

Though you will miss some things without Jane’s guidance, the slides are mostly self-explanatory. You will need a PowerPoint program to view the slides –  you may  download a free viewer here. The slides will display as set in your viewer. Please click on the link below to start the program.

Beef to Beans 3-11-17

 

Wichita: Doubling Down on Air Pollution

     Posted on Sun ,05/03/2017 by admin

Winners of the 2016 Hall Of Fame and Hall of Shame Awards

     Posted on Wed ,01/03/2017 by admin

  Thanks  to those of you who submitted nominations and who voted.  The four top candidates in each category were selected from the nominees and the poll was  conducted on three internet sites and Facebook. This year’s winners won by landslides.

Here are the winners:

Hall of Fame 

1. Dr. Katharine Hayhoe ( 91% of the vote) –  an atmospheric scientist at Texas Tech University, she is director of the Climate Science Center. She is an evangelical Christian who believes that science and religion do not have to conflict with one another. She has been a persuasive spokesperson for action on global warming and supports a  Carbon Fee and Dividend proposal to address the issue.

Award: An appreciation of climate science by conservatives.

2. The Standing Rock Sioux (5%) – for opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline to protect their water quality after it was routed through their reservation due to concerns of other communities for the same reason. Facing militarized police forces and North Dakota’s most severe blizzards and sub zero winds they prevailed in efforts on the reservation and in the media capturing the support of much of the nation.

Suggested Award: A proper, nonpolitical environmental review before any more construction.

3. President Barack Obama (2%) – for coordinating and implementing a global climate pact signed by 195 countries, including the US, even in the face of a Congress that would stop at nothing to prevent it.  President Obama managed to tie the US Paris agreement to a previous treaty to avoid a possible defeat in Congress.

Prize : Clean air and water for our grandchildren as his legacy.

4China (2%) –for announcing an investment of $361 billion in renewable energy by 2020 (and probably taking the global lead in green tech – a sad, missed opportunity for the US, but a great achievement for our shared future). China has also just cancelled the construction of 100 coal fired power plants to be replaced with wind and solar energy.

Award : Being able to go outdoors in the cities without a mask.

 

Hall of Shame 

 

 1. The  Palm Oil industry (91% of the vote.) –  Palm Oil is found in roughly half the packaged products sold in US grocery stores, creating a skyrocketing demand for the oil. This demand has led to the burning of millions of acres of tropical rain forests and jungles, caused the loss of wildlife and eco-system, contributed to climate change, and spread corruption to local and national governments. It is also responsible for human rights violations as corporations often forcefully remove Indigenous Peoples from their lands and its production has led to child labor violations and modern day slavery.

Suggested Award : A boycott of all conflict palm oil products.

2. Trump voters (5%) – for electing a President more than willing to undo even the modest progress the Paris Agreement would/could have accomplished – and most certainly will work to enable completion of the Keystone Pipeline, and push the Dakota Access pipeline in which he seems to have a financial interest. He has promised to remove/rollback decades of regulations designed to improve the quality of our air, water, and soil.

Suggested Award: May you drink water approved by Scott Pruitt’s EPA.

3. Governor Scott Walker  of Wisconsin (2%) – for appointing a real estate lady to head the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), scattering the DNR programs among five agencies making conservation more costly and less effective, halting enforcement of environmental regulations, and scrubbing anything  involving Climate Change from DNR computers.

Wished for Award: A resounding defeat in the next election.

4. Utah Congressman Rob Bishop (2%)  –  chairman of the powerful House Committee on Natural Resources, with sway over issues ranging from energy production to mining, fisheries, and wildlife across one-fifth of the nation’s landmass. He wants to overturn Obama’s Bear’s Ears monument, taking the land away from a coalition of native American tribes so it can be broken up and sold to mining and lumber interests. He introduced a Constitutional amendment that would take away the right of the President to designate national monuments, and has fought to weaken environmental laws and neuter federal agencies like the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, and the Forest Service.

Award: Perhaps having the federal agencies return the favor.

 

It looks like 2017 will have some epic battles between conservationists and corporate polluters. Please keep in mind those who affect the environment the most for good or ill for your 2017 nominations.

(c) 2017 – J.C. Moore