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The 2015 Environmental Hall of Fame/Shame Winners

Thu ,31/03/2016
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

 

Poll: Vote for the 2015 Hall Of Fame and Hall of Shame Candidates

Mon ,07/03/2016

Thanks  to those of you who submitted nominations. The four top candidates in each category have been selected from Moonthose you nominated. Please help select the winners by voting for the nominee who you think has 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.

Voting will close and the winners announced on March 30, 2016. Please  put your choice in each category as a comment below or you may vote in a poll at this site.

Hall of Fame Nominees

1. 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 global warming.

Prize : A prime time TV show together.

2. 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.

Suggested Prize: Enough support to ward off Americans for Prosperity and other climate change deniers.

3. 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.

4. California Governor Jerry Brown for his tireless efforts 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.

Hoped for Reward: More support from the U.S. Congress.

 

Hall of Shame Nominees

1. 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: Please suggest a suitable nonviolent award.

2. The 114th Congress of the United States. Reason: For their repeated acts and 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 dictate the science findings at NOAA.

Suggested Award: A huge dearth of votes in the next election for them all.

3.  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.

Prize: Judgments against Exxon/Mobil like those against tobacco companies.


4. 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

Suggested Award: Nickname North Carolina the “Polluters Paradise”.

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This poll was conducted on four internet sites. The  poll will close on March 30, 2015.

Please  put your choice in each category as a comment below or you may vote in a poll at this site.

(C) 2016 J.C. Moore

Note: Senator James Inhofe,  the chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee,  has been nominated so many times that he is now being 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..

Is Global Warming a Religion?

Mon ,22/07/2013

No, but environmental concerns and stewardship is becoming a part of most religions. Because of their concern for their fellow man and a commitment to the stewardship of God’s creations, many churches and religions have adopted policy positions on climate change , some specifically mentioning the threat of greenhouse gases. For example, the Presbyterian church had the foresight to adopt a policy in 1989, which it reaffirmed in 2008, stating its “serious concern that the global atmospheric warming trend (the greenhouse effect) represents one of the most serious global environmental challenges to the health, security, and stability of human life and natural ecosystems.” Recently, the General Synod of the United Church of Christ (UNCC) adopted a strong resolution on climate change that calls upon church members to “make shareholder engagement on climate change an immediate, top priority for the next five years”, to “demand action from legislators and advocate for the creation and enforcement of carbon-reducing laws.” , to “make lifestyle changes to reduce the use of fossil fuels in our lives, our homes, our businesses and our churches”, and to “to reduce the use of fossil fuels, our carbon footprint, and our complicity with the fossil fuel industry.”

Apparently, Dr. Stephen Carter is unhappy with the United Church of Christ’s resolution and severely criticized the church in an op ed article , Do unto Exxon as you would do unto yourself .  He is a Professor of Law at Yale, where he has taught courses on law and religion, the ethics of war, contracts, evidence, and professional responsibility. Dr. Carter argues the matter as if he had taken on Exxon Mobil as a client. Apparently, Dr. Carter wants us to treat Exxon Mobil as our brother. Though he claims that he is “no climate-change skeptic”, his article would certainly win the praise of the network of Libertarian think tanks, fossil fuel funded foundations, front groups, and authors who have become part of the climate change denial machine . Perhaps the greatest evidence of this is that his arguments do not include things that he should know.

He has singled out the UNCC without mentioning that most major churches and religions have similar statements. He should probably know about that as the extensive list mentioned in the first paragraph was compiled by Yale University, where he teaches. Mr. Carter implies the UNCC is hypocritical for urging its members to take action against climate change while they are still using fossil fuels, criticizing “the suburban family that crowds into the SUV to attend Sunday services.”  He finds it” perplexing that a church should take the view that it’s perfectly fine to demand regulation that might hurt working-class coal-mining families in West Virginia, but wrong to inconvenience its own members even slightly.” His is one of those all or nothing arguments, implying that if the church is committed to reducing the use of fossil fuels, it must give them up completely. He knows full well that being a “resolution”, it states a desire to improve future actions, and that, at present, few other energy alternatives are available. He seems to be unaware of the low pay, terrible conditions, and hazards that coal miners face, and that they might gladly change jobs if an alternative were available. Perhaps he, or the church, should take that up as a cause.

Dr. Carter’s main argument seems to be based upon the law of supply and demand. He expresses his “perplexity and sorrow” that the document “seems to place the blame for our heavy use of fossil fuels on the companies that produce them – not the consumers who demand them”. He thinks “the trouble is that the resolution – like the general idea of divesting fossil fuel investments – seems to confuse supply and demand.” Dr. Carter’s argument breaks down because the laws of supply and demand do not apply very well to fossil fuel companies. They have used their vast profits and political power to limit and inhibit technologies that might compete with them. They have helped create propaganda and policies that discourage the use of wind and solar energy, alternative fuels, and electric vehicles. Perhaps a coal miner would rather work in one of those emerging technologies, if given the opportunity. We subsidize fossil fuel companies by several billion dollars each year, though they are well-established and highly profitable companies, yet they oppose subsidies to growing companies that might compete with them. Let’s level the playing field and see what choices consumers will then make.

Surely Dr. Carter is aware that fossil fuel companies gain a competitive advantage as consumers do not have to pay the “true cost” of fossil fuel use, which should  include environmental and health costs. Nicholas Stern, one of the world’s top economists, estimates the cost and risks of climate change is equivalent to losing at least 5% of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) each year, and could rise to 20% of GDP or more in the future – and impose the additional risk of an environmental catastrophe. Taking 5% of the US GDP for 2010 would give an environmental cost of $727 billion. As to health costs, the American Lung Association estimates the cost of exposure to particulates alone are as much as $281 billion annually. Those two add up to about $1.08 trillion for the US alone, and will surely grow unless we reduce our fossil fuel use.
One would also have to wonder about  Dr. Carter’s motives when he refers to the United Church of Christ as part of the “religious left”. One of the favorite tactics of fossil fuel companies is to label their critics as being leftists or liberals. The fossil fuel companies encourage the Cornwall Alliance, a religious organization based upon the doctrine of Dominionism, to try to stem the growing movements of conservation and environmental stewardship. The Cornwall alliance claims that stewardship is a Green Dragon trying to take over our churches and corrupt the true meaning of religion. Their videos feature a number of ministers who preach against mainstream stewardship.  It seems wrong to use the power and respect that people have for ministers and Scripture to criticize Christians who believe in good stewardship. The Cornwall Alliance will not reveal its funding sources, but its mission is certainly in harmony with that of the fossil fuel companies.

Some Christians believe that what is happening to the Earth is God’s Will and that we can do nothing about it. Others believe that if we begin to destroy the Earth, God will step in and save us. However, that type of rhetoric clashes with the idea of free will and personal responsibility. Certainly, the many churches that have acted out of a concern for their fellow man and a commitment to good stewardship should not be unfairly criticized.

(c) 2013 J.C. Moore

 

Should the U.S. Subsidize Fossil Fuel Companies?

Wed ,10/04/2013

The world needs a reliable supply of energy. To ensure that, many countries have granted subsidies and tax breaks to fossil fuel companies to help develop energy resources. However, with the concern over our carbon emissions and over the economic crises that many countries are facing, the wisdom of continuing those subsidies needs to be examined. The fossil fuel companies are now quite profitable. As the chart below shows, two of the five most profitable companies in the U.S. are oil companies with Exxon Mobil greatly exceeding the profitability of the other four.

 Exxon

 It is understandable that some countries may still need to subsidize fossil fuel companies, but fossil fuel companies receive about six times as much in subsidies as sustainable energy sources. The International Energy Agency reports that subsidies to oil companies in developing countries could reach as much as $630 billion in 2012, with those in developed countries adding about $58 billion.  Below is a breakdown of the subsidies in developed countries along with their commitment to Fast Start Financing, which supports immediate action by developing countries to strengthen their
resilience to climate change and mitigate their greenhouse gas emissions, including those from deforestation.

 Subsidies

 

The United States’ yearly subsidies to the fossil fuel industries amounts to about $13.6 billion. As Washington struggles to balance the U.S. budget, that is certainly one of the cuts that should be considered. The Institute for Policy Integrity lists the number of laws giving tax breaks to energy companies. It lists 38 for the fossil fuel industries, 25 for all the renewable energy sources together , and one break for nuclear power. While it is the national interest to subsidize the development of sustainable energy resources, a much larger share of tax breaks go to well established and profitable fossil fuel companies. But that’s not the whole story.

Some of the tax breaks and subsidies meant to promote the development of renewable energy sources end up with the fossil fuel companies. For example, the Georgia Pacific paper company, a subsidiary of Koch oil, mixes  a byproduct of paper production, called black liquor, with diesel to make a product they claim as a biofuel. This fuel cannot be used in transportation, and can only be burned as fuel in their plants. However, Koch has managed to qualify the black liquor mixture to take advantage of the biomass fuel assistance program and has received $5 billion in subsidies for the process. Though Koch is on the record as being against green energy, funds meant for green energy projects are subsidizing the fuel for Koch’s paper mills.  Congress tried to close this loophole, but the effort was ultimately defeated.

The fossil fuel companies have become so large and so adept at lobbying, that they often distort U.S. policies for their own benefit. For instance, Exxon pays a lower tax rate than the average American. Between 2008-2010, Exxon Mobil registered an average 17.6 percent federal effective corporate tax rate, while the average American paid a higher rate of 20.4 percent. In spite of that, the company complains about its high taxation and is currently running ads against the Obama administration’s efforts to cut $36 billion in tax loopholes and subsidies to help balance the budget. Large oil companies are now multinational companies which have little allegiance to the United States. According to a Mother Jones article, “Exxon has 20 wholly owned subsidiaries domiciled in the Bahamas, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands that (legally) shelter the cash flow from operations in the likes of Angola, Azerbaijan and Abu Dhabi. Of the $15 billion in income taxes it paid in 2009, Exxon paid none of it to the United States, and it has tens of billions in earnings permanently reinvested overseas.” We should ask why our government is providing subsidies and tax breaks to companies that have little legitimate need for them and apparently little allegiance to the United States.

(c) 2013 J.C. Moore

The Climate Change Denial Machine

Thu ,31/01/2013

The Climate Change Denial Machine is a multi-million-dollar machine designed to produce only one thing, doubt.

Every major scientific society in the world has adopted a statement like that of the American Chemical Society which says,” Careful and comprehensive scientific assessments have clearly demonstrated that the Earth’s  climate system is changing rapidly in response to growing atmospheric burdens of greenhouse gases and absorbing  aerosol particles. There is very little room for doubt that observed climate trends are due to human activities. The threats are serious and action is urgently needed to mitigate the risks of climate change.” A recent CNN poll found that 97% of scientists who are actively engaged in research in climate science agree that man’s activities are the main causes of global warming. In spite of the strong consensus among the scientists and the warning by all of our major science societies that urgent action is needed, little effective action has been taken.

Why hasn’t  action been taken?  The main cause of climate change is most certainly the 30 billion tons of carbon dioxide man is putting into the into the air each year by burning fossil fuels. If man is a major cause, then surely it should be possible for us to do something about it. But we haven’t. Perhaps it’s because the effects of climate change on the Earth have been subtle. Scientific research shows the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is increasing, the temperature of the Earth is rising, the oceans are becoming more acidic, glaciers and polar ice caps are melting, sea levels are rising, the probability of severe weather events is increasing, food supplies are threatened, and weather-related natural disasters are becoming more frequent and more costly. But couldn’t those things be from natural causes? Couldn’t the scientists be wrong? Couldn’t it be too costly?

If your is answer “yes” to the above  or similar questions, then you probably have been influenced by propaganda created by the Climate Change Denial Machine. The Climate Change Denial Machine was patterned after the Tobacco Propaganda Machine and uses many of the same organizations and tactics. Almost  50 years after the Surgeon General announced that smoking had serious health consequences leading to premature death, many people still smoke, showing the effectiveness of the propaganda. The  Climate Change Denial Machine is much better funded,  supports a far greater number of science Skeptics and politicians, and has the Internet to widely disseminate its propaganda. While smoking only affected the smoker and those around them, climate change, if  left unaddressed,  will have serious consequences for everyone and everything on the Earth.

The workings of the  Climate Change Denial Machine have been explained in an article written by  Riley Dunlap and Aaron McCright, and their excellent diagram is shown below. It was published in Chapter 10 in the Oxford Handbook of Climate Change and Society, edited by John S. Dryzek, Richard B. Norgaard, David Schlosberg. It shows how money and misinformation flows from climate Skeptics and fossil fuel companies and is disseminated to the public. There is a link below the diagram to Chapter 10 of the Handbook if you would like to read the article .

http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=JihhbdpO-yoC&oi=fnd&pg=PA144&dq=climate+change+denial+machine&ots=mTeB9kSYdb&sig=ZpvCpYYmeWhb9HIIPDEOkmcy_o8#v=onepage&q=climate%20change%20denial%20machine&f=false

 During the 112th Congress, fossil fuel companies donated over $32 million to our  Congressional representatives. You may  find out if your Senator or Congressman was the beneficiary of their gnerosity at this website which tracks the flow of the money.

(c) 2013 J.C. Moore

Who's Responsible for High Gas Prices?

Sat ,13/10/2012

    “It’s hard to see how President Obama is to blame for high gas prices when the record high was $4.12 a gallon in  July of 2008, six months before he took office.”

The Republican strategy during the 2012 election has been to try to pin the economic problems we have been facing on President Obama. Certainly President Obama inherited a mess and it is very difficult to figure out how well the president’s policies are working since we don’t know where we would have been without them.

The price of gasoline is something we are reminded of every time we fill up our car. So we’ve heard a lot about the price of gasoline during this presidential election. During the presidential debates, Mitt Romney said to president Obama ,”At the same time, gasoline prices have doubled under your presidency.”  Bill O’Reilly in his debate with John Stewart said, “Gas prices have doubled since Obama took office.” And someone at Exxon Mobil even cooperated with this theme by placing the gas sign on the right on the Internet. And, it is true.  However, the conclusion drawn from it is not.

The implication is that Pesident Obama is responsible for our current high gas prices. You can only think that is true if you have a very short memory or are very dishonest. Average US gas prices hit a historic high of $4.12 per gallon in July of 2008,  six months before Obama took office and while  George Bush was still president. The International Energy Agency (IEA) graph below shows the historic prices in the US and other countries, showing that the US President is not responsible for gas prices. That is unless you consider the wars in the Middle East, which destabilized the region, to be a main factor in gas prices. The graph shows the gas prices were relatively stable until about 2002.

Exxon/Mobil has also been a little duplicitous about this. In the past, they have emphasized on their website that the high gas prices are reasonable when they are considered in terms of inflation. However, now that Mitt Romney has promised oil companies carte blanche to do pretty much as they please if he is elected, they’re only too happy to blame the rising gas prices on President Obama. Mr. Romney apparently does not believe in climate change, and even if he did  he certainly places money ahead of almost everything else, including the environment. Mr. Romney has promised that he would allow completion of the XL pipeline, which will make lots of money for the oil companies. He would also allow them to drill on public land, in National parks, in wildlife refuges, and in environmentally sensitive areas. Those policies might be okay if it were not for the fact that they would increase air pollution, increase greenhouse gas concentrations, and put a large number of environmentally fragile areas at a risk of being damaged.

And, it is very unlikely that allowing oil companies to do as they wish would bring down the price of gasoline. In the first Presidential debate, Mitt Romney blamed President Obama’s policies for limiting oil production. That is also not true, as you can see from the IEA’s table below.

Oil production  dropped during the Bush presidency but has risen by about 20% during Obama’s presidency.  It is clear that domestic oil production has  little effect on the price of gasoline. Last year our largest export was fuels, so it seems if we produce more, we will just export more while gas prices continue to rise in the U.S. It also appears that gasoline prices do not follow the law of supply and demand, both things that Exxon/Mobil and the other oil companies should have to explain. They receive large subsidies; their products do not bear the cost of dumping large amounts of CO2 into the environment; and they have been quite profitable while many other US companies are struggling to stay afloat, in part because of the high fuel prices. Many are international companies that have little allegiance to the United States, but if they’re going to do business in the United States, they should behave as good citizens. We should certainly not let their money and misinformation determine the outcome of our elections.

Note added on 02/17/2015: This picture shows the gas prices in January of 2015 in Kansas. Does President Obama0gas get credit?