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Current events from a science perspective.

Please Nominate Your Candidates for the 2016 Environmental Hall of Fame/Shame Awards

     Posted on Mon ,09/01/2017 by J.C. Moore

It is important that we keep in mind those who have most affected the environment by their words and actions.  Each year, this site Earthrise2takes a poll to find those most deserving to be in the Environmental Hall of Fame and the Environmental Hall of Shame. Please send  your nominations  for  each category by e-mail through the “Contact the Author”   link or put it in the comment section . If you would, please include a short reason that your nominee should be chosen and suggest a suitable gift if they win.

Nominations will be taken until January 31st, 2017. 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

Past years winners and their suggested awards were:

Hall of Fame Winners – Award

2015        Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson – for their efforts at educating the public. – A TV show together.

2014       Pope Francis  – for his Protect Creation efforts.  – A strong agreement from the Paris climate conference.

2013       Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org – Many new members so subscribe to his  weekly newsletter .

2012       President Barack Obama – A little coöperation from Congress, so please write your Representatives.

2011        James Hansen – A massive presence at the 2012 Citizen’s Climate Lobby 

2010        RealClimate.org  – A recommendation from this site. ( Priceless)

2009       Benno Hansen,  ThinkAboutIt Blogger – A Subscription to Science News.

Hall of Shame 

2015      Governor Rick Snyder of Michiganfor allowing the poisoning of Flint Michigan children – drinking water                    from the Flint River

2014    Freedom Industries ( Gary Southern ) –  A prison cell with drinking water from the Elk River he                                         polluted.

2013      The Koch Bothers –  For funding climate denial. – A boycott of their products: less money, less lobbying.

2012       Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund – An IRS investigation of their of their tax-exempt status.

2011        Halliburton (Cheney) –  A big glass of water from a well next to a hydrofracking operation.

2010        Koch Brothers – A petition to the Wizard of Oz for  the grant of a social conscience.

2009       SpaceGuy,  Newsvine Blogger – The movie Wall-E,  representing his view of the future of Earth.

 

(C) 2017 J.C. Moore

Charles Krauthammer and Pyromania

     Posted on Tue ,20/12/2016 by J.C. Moore

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In a recent article, Charles Krauthammer lauded Donald Trump’s cabinet picks as they may destroy the agencies which they have been nominated to head. His article, “The Trump Cabinet: Bonfire of the agencies “, reflects his view that Government regulatory agencies should be torched. Like a pyromaniac, Mr. Krauthammer looks on gleefully as a fire he helped create with incendiary articles, lays waste to the agencies set up to protect our health and the environment.

He seems particularly enamored with Scott Pruitt, who will likely head the EPA.  As the Attorney General of Oklahoma, Mr. Pruitt favored corporations and sued the EPA stop enforcement of regulations designed to protect people and the environment . For example, Scott Pruitt’s predecessor in Oklahoma, Drew Edmondson, filed a lawsuit against the chicken industry in Arkansas to keep them from polluting the scenic Illinois River running into Oklahoma. The closing arguments had been made and all Scott Pruitt had to do when he took office was to file the paperwork asking for the decision, but he decided to wait and monitor the situation. Six years later, he is still monitoring it and the quality of the river water is getting much worse. If he can help destroy a scenic river in Oklahoma, think what he can do to the whole country. Under him, the EPA would monitor every situation, but take no action to protect the environment or the public.

It might be no surprise to you to find out that the chicken and the fossil fuel industry donated heavily to Scott Pruitt’s political campaign. Does Mr. Krauthammer really think he will protect the environment? Does Mr. Krauthammer really care if we have clean air to breathe, pure water to drink, and a livable world for our children and grandchildren? How can he claim to be a conservative?

Green Energy Is Not a Frivolous “Add on”

     Posted on Sat ,17/12/2016 by J.C. Moore

Dr. Patrick J. Pirotte - Eye Doctors Wichita 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 bepirotte-2 done. He has installed 40 kW of solar panels on his 9000 square foot clinic as pictured at the right. 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) 2016 J.C. Moore

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

     Posted on Wed ,07/12/2016 by J.C. Moore

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 J.C. Moore

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 J.C. Moore

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 J.C. Moore

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 J.C. Moore

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 my wife has 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 the best truth-telling record 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

Climate Change: Science and Solutions

     Posted on Thu ,21/04/2016 by J.C. Moore

This presentation was given at the Great Plains Conference on Animals and the Environment at Fort Hays State University for Earth Day 2016.  The first part of the program presents the evidenceccl1 for climate change and explains the urgency for taking action. The second part of the presentation explains the Citizens’ Climate Lobby’s  proposal to reduce our carbon emissions below 1990 levels by 2035.  The plan, with broad bipartisan support, would place a fee on carbon at the source and allow market forces to encourage reduced emissions, energy conservation and investments in renewable energy.

Science and Solutions 

Please click on the link above. You will need a PowerPoint program to view the slides – or you may  download a free viewer here. The slides will display as set in your viewer. The slides were meant to be somewhat self-explanatory, but if you have questions you may email the author or post your questions in the comment section. The slides were  prepared by Darrel Hart, Mark Shobe, and J.C. Moore.

The 2015 Environmental Hall of Fame/Shame Winners

     Posted on Thu ,31/03/2016 by J.C. Moore
The picture at the right  Moonreminds us of how beautiful, small, and finite the Earth is – and how important it is that we protect it. This contest was designed to identify those who work to protect the Earth and those who would damage it through their actions. The 2015 Environmental Hall of Fame and Hall of Shame contests were carried out on four websites and the votes were combined to determine those who have most affected the environment.

The 2015 Environmental Hall of Fame Winners are:

1. (37% of vote) Bill Nye the science guy, and Neil deGrasse Tyson for their efforts at educating the public. Hearing them together on Tyson’s Star Talk radio show makes me think that they should have a prime time TV show. They are a riot together and certainly help people understand the science of global warming. Prize : A prime time TV show together.

 

2. (25%) President Barack Obama, both for managing to thread the needle in Paris and for postponing the decision on Keystone XL until it was uneconomical and too late for anybody in Congress to want to do anything in a presidential election year. Pres. Obama managed to tie the US Paris agreement to a previous treaty to avoid a possible defeat in Congress if it needed their approval. Prize : An political chess set.

3. (19%) Representative Chris Gibson (R-NY) for introducing H. Res. 424, a Republican Climate Resolution to address mitigating global warming. He, along with 12 Republican cosponsors, support  H. Res. 424 which states, “It is a conservative principle to protect, conserve, and be good stewards of our environment.” This is a very hopeful sign of progress along the road to bipartisan climate action. Prize: Enough political support to ward off Americans for Prosperity and other climate change deniers.

4. (19%) California Governor Jerry Brown for his tireless efforts to make policies and laws to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to protect the residents of CA  and the surrounding states from the worst impacts of global warming.  He has signed pacts to combat the planet’s warming with leaders from 13 countries including Mexico, China, North America, Japan, Israel and Peru. Reward: More support from the U.S. Congress.

Honorable Mention. The “little old guy” from the retirement center seen several times a week   leaning on his cane to pick up stuff other people believe they couldn’t be bothered with.  (And does it while walking a dog). Award: Our thanks for being such a good example to us all.

 

Hall of Shame Recipients are: 

1. ( 45%) The dishonorable Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan and his sycophants for not only allowing the poisoning of Flint Michigan children but also insisting that the healthcare professionals who brought this to their attention be dismissed and demeaned by Michigan Environmental officials. To save money, the state switched Flint’s water supply to that of the corrosive water of Flint River, which leached lead out of the city’s water pipes, affecting the resident’s health and causing lead poisoning in thousands of Flint’s children.

Award: A lead pipe connection for their office water supply from the Flint River.

2. ( 35% ) The 114th Congress of the United States for their repeated acts, statements, and actions against climate science, scientist, and new clean energy technologies – and for being out of step with the American public who by a majority in both parties support efforts to reduce CO2. An example would be Lamar Smith (R -TX) for trying to influence the science findings at NOAA.  Award: A huge dearth of votes in the next election for those who oppose climate science.

3.  (10%)  Exxon/Mobil for their continued climate denial and for sowing doubt about CO2’s role in global warming even though their own scientists knew in 1980 that CO2 from fossil fuels was the cause.  Though their lying to the public is apparently not against the law, lying to their stockholders is , and several states are moving to sue them for damages. Award: Judgments against Exxon/Mobil like those against tobacco companies.


4. ( 10%) North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory and the NC lawmakers who tacked on a 61-page “business-friendly” measure to a 1-page technical bill – then rammed through the law without public input. It:

  • Gave polluters immunity from certain fines & penalties
  • Allows polluters to avoid full cleanup of soil and groundwater contamination
  • Permits polluters to self-report without enforcement or fines
  • Rolls back clean water and air protections
  • Rejects science on sea level rise

Award: Nickname North Carolina the “Polluters Paradise” in their honor.

Note: Senator James Inhofe,  the chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee,  was nominated so many times that he was awarded a Lifetime Membership in the Environmental Hall of Shame to give others a chance. He claims “climate change is the biggest hoax in history” and wrote a book about it (reviewed here). He is famous for comparing the EPA to a Gestapo bureaucracy, appearing at climate conferences as if he spoke for the US, and bringing snowballs onto the senate floor as if they proved climate change is a hoax. The person who nominated him for a Lifetime Award thought he should be barraged with snowballs for as long as it snows in Washington D.C..

(C) 2016 J.C. Moore