22. December 2018 · Comments Off on Trump’s Policy of Darkness · Categories: Economics, Environment, Politics

For two years I have been responding to enthusiastic ovations for Trump’s economic “policies” with the sobering reminder that it takes a year or two for policies to actually have a measurable affect on the economy and that the robust markets we’ve seen in Trump’s first two years have more to do with actions taken by Obama than those taken by Trump. That’s because the economy is like a large ship at sea that simply can’t stop on a dime. To avoid icebergs you have to make adjustments to the course, well ahead. And 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.

But Trump’s assault on existing norms isn’t 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 overrules everything else, including the economy that takes things like natural resources for granted. If this ship is headed for disaster there won’t be anything a culture that realizes too late can do to reverse it’s 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.











30. June 2010 · Comments Off on Now We Want Help in the Gulf · Categories: Environment · Tags:

Gulf StreamExcerpt from – June 29 (Reuters) – The United States will accept offers from a dozen  countries and international agencies to help contain and clean up the  BP Plc (BP.L)   (BP.N)   oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico,  the  State Department said on Tuesday.

Personally, I don’t think  it should be up to the US to decide whether or not foreign assistance  will be accepted. The Gulf of Mexico isn’t some backwater pond hidden  away in our heartland. The Gulf of Mexico is a major current pump that  exports to the entire North Atlantic sending it’s water and whatever  that water is carrying to places like Europe and eastern Canada. In fact  the current is significant enough to have a household name, the Gulf  Stream. This current is responsible for the trade routes going back to  the days of Columbus and is also responsible for the moderation of  climate in western Europe and is in fact a major concern among  climatologists.

For a country like Norway to extend help is in a sense a matter  of self-preservation. So of course we should accept foreign assistance.  Not accepting it would be inconsiderate.

13. June 2010 · Comments Off on BP Stock Owners Dine and Ditch · 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.

25. October 2007 · Comments Off on Water Fight in Georgia · Categories: Environment, Politics, Social/Culture · Tags:

Spending the last year and a half in Charlotte, North Carolina, I’ve witnessed the effects of the worst drought in that area on record. It seems every week I see or hear about yet another escalation of the water crisis to another elevated status, but the story that really grabs my attention is in nearby Georgia; also suffering from drought, where officials are on their feet demanding that the Army Corps of Engineers reduce the flow of water from their reservoirs to downstream water ways in Alabama and Florida.

The Army Corps of Engineers are of course abiding by federal mandates that when a river flows between two or more states, each state has a right to an equal share of the water. Additionally, other laws such as the Endangered Species Act require that water be available for threatened or endangered species that live in or around Chattahoochee River and Apalachicola Bay. But Georgia is finding it hard to tolerate these laws and after the federal government refused to comply with the state’s demands, Georgia’s governor, Perdue stated that he will file a lawsuit demanding an exception to the laws and that the Corps restrict the water flow saying that there is no scientific justification for the Federal Government’s position.

From what I’ve been hearing on the local news channels the water flow continues to insure the survival of endangered marine life downstream including a variety of mussels and fish and this does seem important but to be fair we should consider the other side of the equation; the endangered water supply for population centers in northern Georgia such as Atlanta, which gets most of its water from Lake Lanier (shown in picture), one of the reservoirs in question and the centerpiece of the standoff. The urgency of this issue is underlined by an estimate of only 90 days left before the water supply runs out completely.

For about a month I’ve been hearing the outrage of Georgia officials who emphasize the importance of Atlanta’s water supply and the silliness of making things worse by giving water away to mussels and fish, but today for the first time I learned that there is still more to the story; It’s not just mussels and fish that need the water from Lake Lanier. It’s also a line of power stations that supply electricity to cities in Alabama and Florida, funny how that wasn’t mentioned in the local news stories or in the attacks mounted by Georgia officials. Being aware of the larger picture I can see the magnitude of the problem and I start to wonder once again about the self-centered and short-sighted aspects of human nature that seem to dominate our culture. I view this as an example of what to expect when human populations outgrow their resources. It would be nice to think that we will pull together and find innovative ways to solve shortages, but if this fight over water is any indication, it seems far more likely that people will turn against each other and squabble over the scraps.

More importantly, I think another lesson learned is that we do this to ourselves. Lake Lanier isn’t natural, it’s a man-made reservoir that was built for the same reasons so many of the reservoirs in the south were built, to control floods and to produce electricity. Since its construction, metro Atlanta has been taking water from the lake to use for municipal drinking water, which was only authorized by Congress as an incidental use secondary to hydroelectricity. But nevertheless, this new supply of water created by obstructing its natural flow has allowed Atlanta to expand …and to grow dependent on it.

C. Ronald Carroll, director of science for the River Basin Center at the University of Georgia’s Odum School of Ecology, argued in an op-ed in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that “we face a sort-of reckoning for a string of short-sighted decisions about water use that were made without anticipating drought conditions.”

Well, we all know what the problem is. Developers would gladly pay the environmental costs on Tuesday for money in the pocket today.


01. June 2007 · Comments Off on Scientific Advice or Liberal Politics? · Categories: Environment, Politics · Tags:
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 while referring 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.

17. March 2005 · Comments Off on Arctic Drilling · Categories: Environment, Politics · Tags: , ,

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.

23. December 2004 · Comments Off on Bush Sells Our Forests · Categories: Environment · Tags: , , ,

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.

11. October 2004 · Comments Off on Chemical Assault on Americans · Categories: Environment, Politics · Tags: ,

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?


check this out…
Beyond Mercury