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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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…

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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.

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.

28. January 2004 · Categories: Environment, Politics · Tags: ,

Just read about this on the NRDC site…

NRDC and other environmental groups leaked a draft Environmental Protection Agency proposal that would weaken and delay efforts to clean up mercury emissions from America’s coal-fired power plants. The article goes on to explain that those 1,100 facilities are the largest unregulated industrial sources of mercury contamination in the country, spewing 50 tons of the poison — roughly 40 percent of U.S. industrial mercury emissions — into the air each year.

EPA administrator Mike Leavitt defended the draft proposal as an emissions cap-and-trade program similar to the one that has reduced acid rain…

I don’t know much about the reduction of acid rain, but I can see the bullshit factor in the cap-and-trade program. I’ve read that when such programs were first installed some of the big polluters actually created small green energy companies that don’t make a lot of money but are real good for saving pollution credits that the parent companies can buy. I’m assuming the pollution credits are cheaper than the cost of actually cleaning up.

Apparently, the proposal is to downgrade mercury from being regulated as a “hazardous” pollutant to one that requires less stringent pollution controls. By doing so, the EPA’s “cap” would allow nearly seven times more annual mercury emissions over a period five times longer than current law.

NRDC points out that an emissions trading program would allow “hot spots” of mercury contamination in the lakes and rivers neighboring plants that buy pollution credits instead of reducing their mercury emissions. See what I mean?

I mean why is this not a big deal for conservatives? Check this out…

* According to the EPA, toxic mercury emissions from power plants put 300,000 newborns each year at risk for neurological impairment.
* Nearly 5 million American women of childbearing age have mercury in their blood above EPA’s “safe” level.
* Mercury pollution has contaminated 12 million acres of lakes, estuaries and wetlands — 30 percent of the national total — and 473,000 miles of streams, rivers and coastlines.
* Last year, 44 states and territories issued warnings about eating mercury-contaminated fish, a 63 percent jump from 1993.

* Seventeen states have mercury warnings for every inland water body, while 11 states issue warnings for mercury in their coastal waters.

I just don’t understand why people are so much more worried about terrorists when on average terrorists never manage to kill more than a handful of Americans a year. (The 3,000 on 9/11 was by far the largest killing ever by terrorists in 300 years of history, but even if 3,000 were killed every year, it still wouldn’t add up to millions, and pollution is a confirmed killer of millions every year.

Then I read things like this…

According to the Center for Responsive Politics ), the energy industry gave more than $48 million to the Republican Party in the 2000 election cycle; $3 million of that went to the Bush-Cheney campaign.

  • American Electric Power, Southern Co. ($1.6 million to GOP in 2000 cycle)
  • Reliant Energy (nearly $445,000 to GOP)
  • Dominion Resources ($560,000 to GOP)

    Along with the government-owned Tennessee Valley Authority, these corporations were responsible for one-third of all U.S. electric utility mercury emissions that year and American Electric Power alone released 10 percent of all power-plant mercury emissions. The above four companies also were among the beneficiaries of the recent EPA ruling that essentially repealed the Clean Air Act provision requiring power plants to install modern-day pollution controls if they increased emissions when upgrading their plants.

    I guess it’s all about money.

  • Hannity was interviewing (or should I say cross examining) Robert Kennedy Jr on the show the other day and Kennedy mentioned that according to estimates by the National Academy of Science, over 30,000 people will die each year from increases in pollution as a result of Bush’s so-called Clean Air Act.

    Let’s see, 3,000 people died in the biggest terrorist attack in US history and Bush takes the country to war “to make the world safe”, yet he has no problem signing a bill with the potential to kill 30,000 people each year…? I’m not trying to downplay the 9/11 attacks, that was a horrible thing, but I just can’t get past the numbers. I mean if the objective is to make the world safe for American citizens then wouldn’t a threat to 30,000 American lives be a concern? Would those 30,000 deaths be more significant if they exploded in balls of fire instead of dying quietly in a hospital bed?

    Sometimes it’s hard for me to believe that our president is on our side.