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

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

 

Poll: Vote for the 2016 Hall Of Fame and Hall of Shame Candidates

     Posted on Tue ,21/02/2017 by admin

  Thanks  to those of you who submitted nominations. The four top candidates in each category have been selected from the nominees. Please vote for the ones who you think have most affected the environment for good or ill.  If you will, please post a reason for your vote and a suggestion for suitable gifts for your favorite candidate. The most interesting and humorous gift suggestions will be acknowledged.

Please post your choice as a comment, or take a poll set up at this site. Voting will close and the winners announced on March 1, 2017.

Hall of Fame Nominees

1. China –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 : Please suggest a suitable award.

2. The Standing Rock Sioux – 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 – 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.

4. Dr. Katharine Hayhoe –  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:

 

Hall of Shame Nominees: 

Trump voters – 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:

2. Governor Scott Walker  of Wisconsin – for appointing a real estate lady to head the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), scattered 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.

Possible Award:

3. Utah Congressman Rob Bishop –  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 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:

4.  The  Palm Oil industry –  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 it production has led to child labor violations and modern day slavery.

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

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Please post your choice as a comment, or take a poll set up at this site.  This poll will be conducted on three internet sites and Facebook. Voting will close and the winners announced on March 1, 2017.

 

(C) 2017   – J.C. Moore

The Malheur Refuge and Standing Rock: A Tale of Two Standoffs

     Posted on Wed ,07/12/2016 by admin

In 2016, two protests were held over the use of public land. It would seem reasonable that the law enforcement authorities would respond the same to each situation, but that was not the case.

The Malheur Refuge Standoff: In January, armed militants seized the headquarters of the Malheur national wildlife refuge in Oregon to protest the conviction of Dwight and Steven Hammond for arson on federal BLM land. The charges were brought because the fires had endangered the lives of firefighters.  Ammon Bundy, the son of the anti-government protester Cliven D. Bundy,  led the protest. The militants declared the federal government had no authority to manage the federal lands and demanded that the federal government cede ownership of BLM federal lands and the refuge to the state.

The group was heavily armed and expressed a willingness to engage in armed conflict to keep from being removed from the refuge The authorities did not try to  forcibly remove the protesters from the refuge. The standoff ended when cold weather and a lack of provisions caused the leaders of the militia to abandon the headquarters. They were stopped on US Route 395 by federal authorities and arrested.  Bundy was slightly wounded during the arrest  and  Robert “LaVoy” Finicum,  who had declared he would not be taken alive, was shot and killed by law enforcement officers while drawing his gun. Eventually 26 protesters were arrested and charged with felony conspiracy, but they were not convicted by a jury of their peers.

The Dakota Access Pipeline Standoff: The production of oil from the Bakken shale in North Dakota has increased dramatically in the last few years. To move the oil to market, the Dakota Access pipeline was proposed to carry 500,000 barrels of tarsands-like crude oil per day through North Dakota to a terminal in Illinois. The pipeline was originally scheduled to cross the Missouri River just north of Bismarck, but Bismarck residents were concerned that pipeline leaks would contaminate the city’s water supply. The Dakota Access Partners claimed that the pipeline would not leak, but that was not a credible claim. There have been several dozen leaks in pipelines in 2016 alone, with two recent ones in northern North Dakota  and near Bismarck.

To placate the Bismarck residents, the pipeline was rerouted South where it would pass under Lake Oahe, just one half mile above the Standing Rock Sioux tribal land. (See map.)0siouxThe Sioux were concerned that leaks  would contaminate their water supply, that the construction would disturb their cultural sites, and and that the Bismarck resident’s concerns were given greater weight than theirs.  The approval of the second route had been fast tracked by the US Corps of Engineers without a proper environmental or archaeological study, and without consultation with the Sioux nation. By law, any federal agency overseeing a construction project has to consult with native nations or tribes if there are places with “religious and cultural significance” nearby.

The Sioux also had a claim to the land under the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851, and they sued in federal court to block the construction of the pipeline. They asked for an injunction to halt the construction until the case was settled, but the injunction was denied and construction of the pipeline continued. In October, the Standing Rock Sioux organized a protest just north of the reservation to block the bulldozers from clearing a path for the pipeline. When the protesters were set upon by dogs used by the private security for the pipeline, the the protest made national news. Protesters from across the country began arriving to support the Sioux until as many as 3000 protesters were camped in the area. The authorities called in help from other agencies and about 100 officers and private security officers arrived to police the protesters.

On November 20, in subfreezing temperatures, some of the protesters tried to clear the road of debris so medical assistance and supplies could reach their encampment. An altercation ensued with the security forces, who unleashed water cannons, tear gas, rubber bullets, and concussion grenades in a military-style assault on the unarmed protesters. According to sources at the scene, a dozen protesters were critically wounded or sustained head injuries and were rushed to the hospital, while 168 were treated for hypothermia and pepper spray exposure on-site. One woman may lose her arm after it was injured by a concussion grenade. The UN has denounced the governor of North Dakota, the Morton County sheriff, and the Dakota Access mercenaries for rights violations and inhumane treatment over the incident.

The Corps issued notice that on December 5th they would close public access to the Standing Rock encampment, and threatened “prosecution under federal, state, or local laws” of those who remained, declaring that the decision “is necessary to protect the general public from the violent confrontations between protesters and law enforcement officials.” There were no public citizens in the area except the protesters, and the threat of violence came mostly from a heavily militarized law enforcement response, which had called in help from over 76 different law enforcement agencies. In response, over 2000 veterans pledged to protect the Sioux from law enforcement actions and they began arriving at Standing Rock.

 On December 4, the Corps decided they would not issue the final permit for construction of the pipeline. Perhaps they were concerned about the legality of the permitting process, but more likely they were persuaded by the public outcry and the possibility of provoking an altercation involving an attack on veterans. The construction is halted for the time being, but the corporations involved have declared that the pipeline will be built. Further altercations are likely.

Questions: There is a sharp contrast in the way the two protests were handled. The main questions center around the timing: “Do armed protesters have a right to seize and hold public property until they decide to relinquish it? “, and,  “Does the state have a right to use physical violence on unarmed people protecting their land and water, to expedite a billion-dollar corporate project?”

 

(c) 2016 J.C. Moore

Carbon Fee and Dividend: Legislative Action Needed

     Posted on Mon ,10/10/2016 by admin

Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., was certainly right when he told a group of energy executives that cheap energy was necessary for our economy to be competitive and that legislation is needed to keep energy costs low (Wichita Eagle, Oct. 1 Business).

Fossil fuels provide cheap energy because they do not pay their external costs, which include cost to people’s health, the environment, and to the economy. Renewable energy is becoming less expensive and does not have the external costs that fossil fuels do.windmill4

The best solution is legislation that would favor a shift to renewable energy.

The effect of rising energy costs on the economy could be offset by a carbon fee and dividend system, in which a fee would be added to fossil fuels at the source to cover their external costs. All the money collected would be distributed equally to every household as an energy dividend. Those who switch to renewable energy or who save energy would have more to spend, which would stimulate the economy.

We should all hope that the legislation that Senator Moran is considering would be a carbon fee and dividend system, as it uses market principles to reduce air and water pollution while protecting the economy from rising energy costs.

 

(c) 2016  – J.C. Moore

We Must Switch to Renewable Energy

     Posted on Mon ,25/07/2016 by admin

We must switch to renewable energy for health reasons, economic reasons, and environmental Temp pathsreasons.

Health reasons: The American Lung Association estimates that there are 26,000 deaths and 1.5 million cases of acute bronchitis and aggravated asthma caused by small particulates, much of it emitted from coal-fired power plants and from coal ash disposal. They estimate the economic benefits of reduced exposure to particulates alone could reach as much as $281 billion annually. Recently, fine particles have been implicated as a cause of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease and new research has revealed a troubling link between mental illness and air pollution that seems to particularly effect children.

Economic reasons: Besides reducing health care costs, a switch to renewable energy will help keep our future electric rates low. Wind and solar are falling in cost and are now competitive with energy from coal-fired power plants. Recently AEP/PSO in Oklahoma purchased 800 MW of wind energy saying the cost was now less than building new coal fired plants, and that the purchase will save an estimated $53 million in the first year and even more thereafter. Kansas currently has 27,000 jobs in the clean energy sector. Of those jobs 75% are in wind energy, and are growing at a rate of 2.3% per year.  By the end of 2016, 32% of Westar’s retail electricity will come from the wind.

Environmental reasons: Coal is 65 to 95 % carbon. What about the rest? Burning coal releases 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. 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, 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.

Summary: Investing in clean energy protects the environment, reduces death and disease from air pollution, and creates good, local jobs. We 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, and we must be proactive in developing our renewable energy resources.

(c) 2016 J.C. Moore

Fossil Fuel Subsidies: The True Cost of Energy

     Posted on Tue ,03/05/2016 by admin

The Wichita Eagle recently published an interesting  letter from Darrel Hart, president of the Wichita chapter the Citizens Climate Lobby. He pointed out that the House energy and water development bill , as it stands, provides subsidies of $95 million for wind, $632 million for fossil fuel and $1 billion for nuclear.

The letter goes on, “Clearly when it comes to winning subsidies, wind falls short. Legislators favoring carbon-based fuel spin the idea that if wind were economical, it could compete without government help. Well, what does that say about fossil fuel? It has been receiving billions in subsidies for decades.

Lopsided subsidies and favored treatment reveal the intent to pick winners and losers. A better solution is carbon fee and dividend legislation that cuts greenhouse gas emissions and corrects the artificially low price of fossil fuel created by tax dollars rigging the system against clean energy. Let markets reveal the true price of energy, and it will be the consumer who chooses the winner.”

Mr. Hart certainly has a good point, as carbon fuels are not paying their true cost.  windmill4Besides the $632 million subsidies to fossil fuels, we are also providing an even greater subsidy by allowing them to release their waste products into the air without paying the external costs, i.e., the costs indirectly borne by society.

The external costs for fossil fuels include health and environmental damage from particulates, nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, chromium, mercury, arsenic, and carbon emissions. An EU funded research study, Externalities of Energys ,  found that including external costs would increase the cost of producing electricity from fossil fuels by 30% for natural gas to 90% for coal, if costs to the environment and to human health were included.

The carbon fee and dividend system Mr. Hart is recommending would put a fee on carbon at the source, which would require the fossil fuels to include their external costs.This would allow renewable energy sources to compete with fossil fuels on an even basis, and would greatly favor a switch to renewable energy.

(c) 2016 J.C. Moore

The Truth about Hillary

     Posted on Sun ,01/05/2016 by admin

Almost every day, the Wichita Eagle has opinion articles and comments criticizing Hillary Clinton’s accomplishments and accusing her of lying and corruption. I’m a Republican and once had  a Bernie Sanders sign in the front yard, so I’m an unlikely person to defend her. However, Republicans need to do their part to restore honesty to politics. Most of the controversies surrounding Hillary Clinton have been conjured up by her Republican opponents and are now being echoed by the liberal left.

Hillary Clinton spent eight years as First Lady, eight years as a New York senator, and four years as Secretary of State. She has helped raise over $2 billion for the Clinton Foundation, 89% of which goes to increasing opportunity for girls, reducing preventable diseases, disaster relief, and helping communities around the globe. That’s not a bad resume.

Pulitzer Prize-winning “Politifact” gave Clinton, along with Sanders, the best truth-telling records of any of any of the 2016 presidential candidates. hillary true

Jill Abramson, former executive editor of the New York Times, has investigated every manufactured Clinton scandal since Whitewater and found them mostly baseless. She penned an op-ed in the Guardian where she concluded that: “Hillary Clinton is fundamentally honest and trustworthy.”

If you don’t like Hillary Clinton, don’t vote for her, but please stop spreading the misinformation.

(c) 2016  J.C. Moore