For two years I have been responding to enthusiastic ovations for Trump’s economic “policies” with the sobering reminder that there’s a significant latency between establishing economic policy and the effect it might have on the actual economy. The economy Trump keeps claiming credit for has far more to do with the policies set during Obama’s terms than anything Trump has actually done since then. Economic policies can’t change the economy in one presidential term anymore than a 600,000 tonne ship can stop on a dime. I really wish people would start understanding this. Because that misunderstanding drives politics and it opens up the opportunities for politicians like Trump to play the confidence game. I don’t know how many times I’ve mentioned this to the same people and they never accept it. But sure enough, now that the economy has had a chance to digest Trump’s line-crossing policies, we can see it starting to choke. I expect the ovations will soon subside and I won’t feel so compelled to respond to them.

Of course, Trump’s assault on existing norms isn’t just limited to economic policy. What happens is that economic performance is so easy to measure, it makes it a popular focus for administrations riding on bull markets; in a sense saying, “look what WE can do!”. The media reacts to that and the economy becomes the fixture of focus. But there are much larger ships out there. One of which happens to be the environment. On this ship, policies can take decades to have their effects which makes it hard for any four-year administration to measure and claim credit for improvements so the concern turns into a fringe issue.

This is unfortunate for a short-sighted culture obsessed with immediate returns because the environment over-rules everything else, including the economy that ultimately depends on things like natural resources. If this ship is headed for disaster there won’t be anything a culture, realizing too late, can do to reverse its course before throwing everything else into chaos. The lesson we need to learn here is that if we wait to actually see the icebergs it will already be too late to avoid hitting them.

And this is where Trump has been a far greater threat to the entire human race than any of his followers are willing to consider – because it’s not just a matter of steering the ship through a roll-back of environmental regulations, it’s also the fact that Trump is intentionally taking down the radars and early-warning systems that we need to see far enough ahead to avoid disaster.

Two years ago after Trump took office, Scientific American published an exposé of some of his earliest assaults, including orders to the scientific community within the government to basically keep quiet. Both the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, under direct orders from Trump, e-mailed staff to inform them that they may no longer discuss agency research or departmental restrictions with anyone outside of the agency—including news media.

The USDA has also dictated that their in-house research office, the Agricultural Research Service, would no longer release any “public-facing documents” including but not limited to “news releases, photos, fact sheets, news feeds and social media content.”

A year later, Time Magazine published an article on the condition of the EPA website, which until Trump came along functioned as a feature of government transparency and public education. It was a view of the iceberg fields we can’t see yet. But since Trump took control, mentions of climate change have been removed and language that so much as hints climate change has been tweaked to avoid the suggestion.

So, it’s hard for me not to ask the question… Why? Staying quiet about existing research doesn’t save any money, so why do it? Why would anyone intentionally blindfold the American people unless they intend to do something bad they don’t want people to see, such as risking the lives of millions if not billions of people for the sake of personal gain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14. June 2010 · Categories: Environment, incomplete · Tags: ,

So here we are watching oil leak from the bottom of the gulf, BP stocks falling through the floor and blame-bullets flying all over the place. First thing we need to to is take the blame guns out of the hands of people who insist on using the spill as an excuse to blame people they don’t like. Here, give me the damned gun – I only need two bullets because there are only two problems.

#1 – The stock investors that judge companies not by what they do but by how much money they can make. While BP was pumping oil to the market you guys were all in and 39% of BP stock was owned by American investors so don’t give me that British company crap. I could almost hear the chant… “Make money, make money…” and a few words to anyone pointing out the dangers of deep sea drilling… “Get lost!”  But now that the dangers have turned into disaster you want to pull out (BP stock down 52% according in 50 days).  There’s no way you don’t look like slimy snakes. Your demand for profit drove everything necessary to create the problem and now your ditching before the cleanup bill comes. Talk about dine and ditch! I think anytime a disaster like this happens the SEC should immediately freeze all shares of the company involved. This way the same investments that drive these risky operations to start with will be held accountable for the disasters they cause. It brings a sense of responsibility to the world of investment which so far has been allowed to run around creating havoc in any way possible without any responsibility for what they do. BOOM! okay, stocks are leveled out and money invested in BP can be used to clean up the mess.

#2 – Those who voted for the free-market politicians that downplayed the environmental dangers and allowed BP to drill without sufficient precaution. How much can be blamed on Obama is debatable, there were studies done during his administration that were ignored by the MMS but this has been going on for years, in 2007 alone there were three seperate stud

13. June 2010 · Categories: Environment · Tags: ,

So here we are watching oil leak from the bottom of the gulf, BP stocks falling through the floor and blame-bullets flying all over the place.  I’m wondering if anyone else is thinking what I’m thinking… While BP was pumping oil to the market the investors were all in… you could almost hear the chant… “Make money, make money…” and a few words to anyone pointing out the dangers of deep sea drilling… “Get lost!”

But now that the danger has turned into disaster the investors want to pull out their money and disconnect from the problem. There’s a serious absence of character here. There’s no way the investors don’t look like slimy snakes. Their demand for return on their investments drove everything necessary to create the problem and now they’re ditching before the cleanup bill comes. Talk about dine and ditch…

I think anytime a disaster like this happens the SEC should immediately freeze all shares of the company involved. This way the same investments that drive these risky operations to start with will be held accountable for the disasters they cause. It brings a sense of responsibility to the world of investment which so far has been allowed to run around creating havoc in any way possible without any responsibility for what they do.

So kick BP all you want if it makes you feel better, but if you want to actually fix the problem then give some thought to where you put your money and who you vote for because ultimately, it was everyday Americans that invested in the energy sector (39% of BP stock is American owned) and voted for “free-market” politicians that caused the oil spill in the Gulf.

 

 

Recently, a friend explained to me how he thinks the global warming “scare” is a political argument hoisted by liberals.

He insisted that there isn’t any proof that global warming is caused by human activity and he pointed to the evidence that temperatures have always fluctuated naturally.

 

I couldn’t help but notice how he was missing the point…

 

I don’t think that the IPCC report that pro-corporate politics is scrambling to discredit is a “liberal argument”, I think its professional advice, pure and simple. The scientific argument was over when the vast majority of climatologists reached a consensus, which isn’t to say that they found the “truth” – just that they’ve arrived at a consensus. After all this is science not religion. This consensus never claimed that humans are 100% to blame for global warming either; it was simply a point where they agreed that our impact on the environment is significant enough to where changes in our behavior could reduce the environments reciprocating effect on us.

The political argument came as a political reaction to the scientific advice, which for almost-understandable reasons isn’t welcomed by everyone.

To use an analogy, the IPCC report isn’t much different than a doctor advising a patient with a thyroid issue to watch his calorie intake. If the patient screams back at the doctor and says that his thyroid is making him fat, then the doctor can explain that the patient’s thyroid is indeed a contributing factor, but that it’s hard to deny that 7,000 calories/day isn’t also a factor and that by reducing his calorie intake he may be able to reduce the magnitude of his problem. In other words, do what’s within your power. Now, if the patient is anything like a pro-corporate politician, he will just scream the same thing back at the doctor – perhaps his macho burritos are more important to him than his health. Well, at that point the doctor has the fortunate option to back off and say – “ok, it’s your body…” Unfortunately, people can’t do that for global warming because we all share the same planet, so now we have a “political argument”.

The stupid thing about this political argument is that it’s so focused on “blame” that the point of “action” is completely missed. Global warming, regardless of what caused it is probably the biggest danger we face today. Our supply chains are so sensitive to climate conditions that billions of people will probably starve to death long before the ice, or even the cute furry polar bears disappear. As far as I’m concerned the urgency isn’t about saving the “planet”, it’s about saving “us”.

And we already know about the natural causes of global warming, you can see that when the scientists roll up their eyes whenever Exxon pays someone to point his finger at 20-year old data or to say that “the sun has solar flares” and for those whom Exxon can’t blind with wool, it’s still plain to see that we are emitting tons of greenhouse gas by the hour – it really doesn’t take a genius to figure out that our carbon emissions have SOME effect, and it shouldn’t take a liberal to understand what the IPCC means when they say we can’t stop global warming, but we can try to at least manage it. The problem is that humans aren’t always willing to take care of themselves, especially when obsessed with macho burritos, SUV’s or profit margins.

At least I get some giggles out of the pro-corporate expressions. My favorite one is that the global warming “alarmists” are conspiring to destroy capitalism. I heard that one on a right-wing radio show. I guess that means that if we’re going to die, at least we can do it laughing.

The energy industry that conquered America has taken another victim today, a piece of wilderness in Alaska. But more than that, they have taken a piece of dignity from the human race. For two decades the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge represented a struggle between our obesity and the will to be better human beings. It’s a line that defines us as humans. Do we have the will power to control our consumption or are we too weak to do anything about it? Are we drilling in Alaska now for the same reasons that so many of us are overweight? Are we incapable of controlling ourselves? Can we even keep a simple promise?

Indeed, the refuge is more than a piece of land – it’s a promise that we made to leave it alone. So it doesn’t matter how much the industry tells us how environment-friendly they are or how small the 1002 area is compared to the rest of the refuge, the fact remains that we broke this promise and we broke it because of an addiction to oil. I guess it’s true, junkies can’t keep promises.

What’s especially sad is the way it happened, our addictive consumption of energy has allowed us to become submissive to an industry that controls the very substance we crave… This industry says we need to offset our dependence on foreign oil… This is the very same industry that sent us to war to control foreign oil… It’s the industry that tells us it’s better not to depend on the market-manipulating OPEC producers and yet engineered an energy crises in California for their own profit.

For 20 years a government that reflected the will of the people kept this industry away from exploiting the refuge, preserving and protecting our promise and our integrity. But in recent years our will power has given way to our addiction as we allowed the industry to walk all over us, brushing aside it’s corporate scandals and taking over our government legislation, and almost right after they effectively replaced the will of the people with the will of the industry, they won.

It may only be a small piece of the refuge, and the caribou may survive it, but this defeat is symbolic of something far greater, it represents our willingness to let our addiction compromise our integrity.

Just read an article in the Washington Post about the new rules issued by the Bush administration last Wednesday for managing the national forests –

New Rules Issued for National Forests
. The article states that this new set of rules creates the biggest change in forest-use policies in nearly three decades and effects all 192 million acres of the countries 155 national forests.

The central feature of these rules is that a bureaucratic planning process will be replaced by a more corporate management approach… Hmmm, well I guess people haven’t figured out yet, after all the recent corporate scandals and failures…

&nbsp &nbsp
Google Search = “corporate scandals”

…that the corporate approach isn’t always such a great thing. The other problem with the “corporate approach” is that it’s always profit driven, in fact we could say, in most cases, that it’s profit obsessed. So how can we expect them to care about anything else such as the health of our environment or ourselves? Take a deep breath right now. Go ahead and do it. Now ask yourself where that oxygen came from. It came from trees, not just the one in your back yard, but from enough trees to make a difference, from vast forests. Yeah, lets put that in the hands of corporate management.

Sally Collins, associate chief of the U.S. Forest Service says that the new rules give economic activity equal priority with preserving the ecological health of the forests in making management decisions and in potentially liberalizing caps on how much timber can be taken from a forest. Well, first of all, don’t assume that just because a person works for the U.S. Forest Service that person is in favor of preserving the environment. You may have noticed the Bush administration has been very busy making staff changes in government departments. Secondly, there is something seriously wrong with the idea of putting economic and environmental concerns on the same level. Economy is a made-made cycle that roughly operates in 10-year cycles, you can totally screw an economy up and in a few years recover it. Not the same with the environment where the cycle is more like a million years. If we screw up the environment there is no going back, in fact if we screw it up enough we can permanently screw up our own ability to lead healthy lives although I’m sure corporations would love to profit from selling oxygen tanks to people who would like to live. Don’t laugh – it’s not as far-fetched as you think. People 100 years ago would not have believed that corporations would be profiting by selling water to people in third world countries that have no other source despite the fact they have a natural abundance of water. Pollution really changes things.

Collins also said the administration sought to update the rules to address new challenges, such as invasive species and forest fires, and to give the public input on how to manage the forests rather than commenting on individual projects. Oh yeah, how can I forget the much applauded pseudo-science that Bush has ushered in, where established science is overturned by bullshit popularity science.

(remember that post about Lysenkoism?)

The idea that forests have to be thinned is a perfect example… ridiculous; unbelievable how people actually buy that crap.

Washington Post says Forest Service officials estimated the changes will cut its planning costs by 30 percent and will allow managers to finish what amount to zoning requirements for forest users in two to three years, instead of the nine or 10 years they sometimes take now.
Ah yes, the economic cycles are too short to be patient, just like the quarterly stock reports don’t allow corporations to make short term sacrifices for long term gains anymore. Day traders want their instant gratifications immediately. So this makes sense. Thank you Bush for putting the long-term environment in the hands of short-term profit seekers. I mean, really now, when it comes to the environment, what was so bad about a 10 year process?

The government will no longer require that its managers prepare an environmental impact analysis with each forest’s management plan, or use numerical counts to ensure there are “viable populations” of fish and wildlife. Of course… Why let things like pollution or extinction or any ill-effect for that matter get in the way of a short-sighted economic need? Hell, if this is the way things are going to be done, then why do I need to get a permit from my city to build my deck? Why should I let things like building and safety codes get in the way of building an addition to my house if I’m in a hurry?

Rep. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), a member of the House Resources Committee who tried twice unsuccessfully to block the proposed rules, said “With Bush’s anti-environmental forest policy, you can’t blame him for trying to hide behind other news, but not even Scrooge would unveil these regulations,” Udall said. “These regulations, being offered two days before Christmas, cut the public out of the forest planning process, will inspire many more lawsuits and provide less protection for wildlife. It’s a radical overhaul of forest policy.” …No shit.

Chris West, vice president of the American Forest Resource Council, called the new rules “a step in the right direction” that will allow forest managers to make “better, more informed and quicker decisions” about timber sales. “This will get the Forest Service caring about the land and caring about the people, instead of caring about the process and serving the bureaucracy,” said West, who represents lumber and paper companies as well as landowners in 13 western states… A word of wisdom from a representative of the lumber and paper industry… Perfect.

OK, I think I’m going to hurl now.

What was the reason for invading Iraq..? Oh, yeah – they were developing and stockpiling weapons of mass destruction – well, we haven’t found any yet, but we are pretty sure they hid them somewhere and it’s better to be safe than sorry, after all, just because there has never been a single incident during the 24 years that Hussein was in power where Iraqi WMD was used against Americans, doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen… Especially if Hussein is willing to put these weapons in the hands of international terrorists, such as the type that killed 3,000 people on American soil on the morning of 9/11/01… Not that we have any proof that he did, or even that he had the intention to do so, but again, better safe than sorry. It seems then that with all these precautions and pre-emptive strikes, that Bush is doing a great job at keeping us safe from the danger of such weapons.

Doesn’t it seem ironic then how Bush is intentionally unleashing tons of toxic chemicals directly on Americans at home? Yes, this is an environmental appeal, but that doesn’t change the bottom line. Unnecessary toxins, approved by the Bush administration, is killing many more Americans every year than terrorism has ever killed in our entire history.

Power plants are emitting tens of thousands of tons of toxic air pollution like arsenic and lead, and will be allowed to keep doing so thanks to a giveaway buried in the fine print of the controversial Bush administration “mercury rule” under the Clean Air Act. In addition to weakened and delayed limits on mercury, the rule is written specifically to ignore more than 60 other power plant air toxics that threaten public health. The EPA estimates that 8,000 Americans will die every year as a direct result of this rule, which is only a small fraction of the 70,000 Americans that die every year from air pollution in general. But what makes the 8,000 significant is that this number comes directly from Bush’s command decision to allow these avoidable deaths to occur. That’s like allowing terrorists two-and-a-half 9/11’s every year. Here are just a few of the chemicals that the Bush administration is creating a release valve for and what they can do to us besides killing us.

Arsenic. Can result in nausea, diarrhea and abdominal pain, central and peripheral nervous system disorders, irritation of the skin and mucous membranes, lung cancer, skin cancer, cancer of the bladder, cancer of the liver, anemia, and kidney damage.

Dioxins. Chlorinated chemicals that cause toxic effects at very low levels causing damage to the immune system, learning behavior, and the reproductive system. Dioxins can also cause certain types of cancer. A well-known effect of dioxin is chloracne, a severe acne-like condition that develops within months of an exposure to high levels of dioxin. Dioxin-like compounds are one of the most well-known endocrine disruptors, potentially lowering human and animal fertility.

Acid Gases. Such as hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, and hydrofluoric acid can cause damage to the respiratory tract. They are corrosive and can cause acute respiratory problems, as well as aggravate chronic respiratory ailments such as asthma and emphysema.

Lead. A very toxic element, causing a variety of effects even at low doses including brain damage, kidney damage, gastrointestinal distress reproductive effects, such as decreased sperm count in men and spontaneous abortions in women, effects on the blood, central nervous system, blood pressure, and kidneys. Children are particularly sensitive to the chronic effects of lead, with slowed cognitive development, reduced growth and other effects reported. The developing fetus is at particular risk from maternal lead exposure, with low birth weight and slowed postnatal neurobehavioral development noted.

Chromium. Certain forms of chromium can be very toxic to the respiratory tract. resulting in shortness of breath, coughing, and wheezing, perforations and ulcerations of the septum, bronchitis, decreased pulmonary function and pneumonia and lung cancer.

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) can damage the immune system and cause developmental and reproductive effects; many are known carcinogens in animals, and studies indicate a risk for people as well.

n-Hexane can cause polyneuropathy with numbness in the extremities, muscular weakness, blurred vision, headache, and fatigue observed.

Formaldehyde can result in respiratory symptoms and eye, nose, and throat irritation; limited human studies have reported an association with lung and nasopharyngeal cancer.

trimethylbenzene can affect the blood’s clotting ability and may cause bronchitis.

The Bush administration’s mercury plan was first leaked to the press in early December 2003 and formally released by EPA later that month. It became clear that the EPA had ignored its own stringent findings and also scuttled the recommendations of a years-long expert task force comprised of industry, environmentalists, and state officials. Then reports surfaced that utility industry lawyers had literally written portions of the rule that would affect their own clients.

How is it that we can be so stupid? To allow our government to take our money and our children to fight a war against a threat that has claimed roughly 3,000 souls on American soil over the last 250 years while actually approving the deaths of 8,000 on American soil every single year?

06. April 2004 · Categories: Analysis, Environment, Politics · Tags:

Last night I was watching FoxNews and I noticed how they were systematically going through all the claims against the Bush Administration and discrediting everyone of them. Gee – I wonder who’s side Fox is on? Anyway the subject of mercury in the environment came up. This is a perfect example of the kind of games being played.

First of all Fox showed clips of environmentalists claiming that the Bush Administration was being irresponsible about the environment. Then Fox switched to some “scientific evidence” to discredit the environmentalists. The evidence presented was that 50% of the mercury in the environment was released through natural causes, including volcanoes and forest fires, then they mentioned that Chinese industry is responsible for 20% and that U.S. industry was only responsible for 1%. Then they jumped to the next subject.

But let’s think about this for a minute… Does FoxNews assume that we are idiots? It takes years, sometimes decades for environmental policies to have an effect on the environment. If our industry is only responsible for 1%, that would be due to the regulations installed a long time ago, probably during the Clinton years, maybe even before that.

The environmentalists are concerned about the next ten years being affected by the current Bush Administration plans to roll back these regulations. If the administration gets their way, we will be overtaking the Chinese industry by the next decade.

FoxNews, I can’t even say “nice try”, that was just a lame ass response – maybe your counting on the gullibility of your viewers. I mean, you would HAVE to be.