Archive for the 'Environment' Category

Retractions, anybody?

Jul 24, 2012 in Clueless Conservatives, Corporate shenanigans, Environment

Of course, economists have found that Republican “jobs” plans, which I’ve previously scoffed at, would create no jobs in the next five years and would create no more than “marginal” numbers after that. What’s the point? To get things Republican donors already wanted:

Carl Riccadonna, a senior economist at Deutsche Bank, said some of the bills could create jobs, but that they would amount to more of an afterthought in terms of achieving broader policy goals.

“They are very narrowly targeted, and it gives the impression that maybe some of this is special interest really pursuing these, not really taking a macro view but a very, very micro focus in what the impact would be,” Riccadonna said. For most of the bills in the package, “jobs are a second- or third-order effect, not the main priority.”

At the heart of the GOP jobs package is a push for rolling back regulations — and gutting environmental laws that regulate clean air and water — to spur job growth.

It’s rotten enough that we’re asked to trade clean air and water for jobs, but the promised jobs are just that, promises. In the end, the Koch brothers get a little more profit for themselves because they spend less money on protecting the environment, and everybody else gets heavy metals in their drinking water as compensation while they ship the money to an offshore account.

Republicans are against any direct action that would lower unemployment numbers, because high unemployment numbers are their only tool against Obama. They certainly don’t have a worthwhile candidate. So this is win-win for them, as they keep their industrial overlords content while doing nothing for the economy, making things harder for Obama while keeping the campaign cash flowing.

How clean water doesn’t interest them, well, you’ll have to figure that one out.


Why be original?

Feb 12, 2011 in Energy, Environment

…when our technology has advanced enough to the point where we can copy nature’s efficiencies? This is the future:


On the other hand…

Jan 03, 2011 in Environment

I like to believe we’ve got a decent shot at creating a sustainable world civilization that can perpetuate for many hundreds of thousands of years.

Sometimes, and this brings me deep regret to ponder it, I wonder how on earth we’re going to make it through the next ten. Well, outside of turning into a Road Warrior-like society. And what’s got me more worried than a super-virus?

The damn bees dying. What stunning foolishness will it look like to the surviving world after 90% of the world’s food supply is rendered sterile? I just had a child, and although I would not like to believe I brought him into a world that will be wrought by devastation, Nature really doesn’t give a rat’s ass what my dreams are. If there’s not enough food, both the good and the wrong will starve alike.

I suppose I’ll have to stick this fear in the back of my mind for now, but while we’re on the subject of George Will’s desire for more science funding (previous blog post), some R&D on post-bee agriculture might be prudent. I mean, not to be all Communist or anything, but preventing the destruction of our food cycle is one of the government’s top priorities.


The genius of the market.

Dec 22, 2010 in Environment

They’ll do the right thing of their own accord. Just kidding:

Subsequently, a 2005 Wall Street Journal investigation and a separate EWG report based on court documents and depositions from a similar lawsuit in Kettleman City, Calif. revealed that PG&E had hired consultants to publish a fraudulent analysis of cancer mortality in Chinese villagers exposed to hexavalent chromium, in an attempt to disprove the link between the chemical and cancer. The study was published in the respected Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, and scientists and regulators — including the EPA — cited the fraudulent article in research and safety assessments. The journal retracted the paper in 2006 in response to EWG’s request for corrective action.

California officials then conducted a rigorous re-assessment of the study data, finding a statistically significant increase in stomach cancer among the exposed. Their analysis is consistent with laboratory evidence from the National Toxicology Program and others showing that hexavalent chromium in tap water causes gastrointestinal tumors in multiple species.

Industry has sought for more than six years to delay state-mandated regulation of hexavalent chromium in tap water in California. Aerospace giant Honeywell International Inc. and others have stalled the adoption of the advisory public health goal by pressing for additional external scientific peer review. California’s Department of Public Health can neither set nor enforce a mandatory tap water standard for hexavalent chromium until the goal is finalized.

Dirty hippie liberals try to keep the cancer out of your water. But, you know, letting them do that surely means Mao has won.


We’ve got some growing to do.

Jul 29, 2010 in Clueless Conservatives, Energy, Environment

Ezra Klein gets to the heart of the difficulty in passing good environmental legislation:

If you wanted to design a threat that our political system couldn’t address, here’s what you’d do: You’d make the pain of doing nothing come much later, but the pain of doing something begin right now. You’d concentrate the costs of failure in poor countries, while the costs of a policy solution would be concentrated in certain regions of America. You’d make it hard to solve without the imposition of a new tax. You’d make sure that some of the largest and richest industries in the world had an enormous amount to fear from that tax.

Well, that settles it, I guess. Here goes our grand experiment in seeing what happens when you have over 400 parts per million of carbon in the atmosphere…soon to be 500;)

Future’s so bright…all we can be thankful for is that oil is depleting quickly enough to force alternative efforts. Hurrah to the Chevy Volt…and here’s hoping Dana Pico learns what an early adopter is! It’s somewhat expensive now, but the economies of scale are amazing things, aren’t they? One year’s $600 iPhone 2G is today’s $200 iphone 4.

And Dana can hope the petroleum lasts forever, but it won’t be because “little toy electric cars simply are not us.” Our oil supplies will not remain cheap and economical because it we need to drive manly beast cars. We are not able to endlessly pollute the earth’s atmosphere simply because we can’t be bothered to charge a car. Desire is going to run right up against possibility and lose that battle. Unfortunately, climate change legislation faces certain political impossibilities because the GOP continues to drop the ball on our future and our grandchildren’s future for the sake of present greed.


Drill, baby, drill!

Apr 30, 2010 in Clueless Conservatives, Corporate shenanigans, Energy, Environment

I’m happy to be wrong but when I read this the first thought that sprung to mind was “fat fucking chance”:

“We are taking full responsibility for the spill and we will clean it up, and where people can present legitimate claims for damages we will honor them. We are going to be very, very aggressive in all of that,” Tony Hayward told Reuters in an interview on Friday.

Like Exxon, BP will be fighting this in court for the next twenty years trying to defer as much of the coasts of cleanup onto the federal and state governments. Considering that they’ve already spent considerable sums fighting regulations that would have prevented this disaster it’s hard to believe that they’ll be going out of their way to admit fault.

So what is geological and energy security expert Sarah Palin’s take on all of this? As Digby has humorously remarked, “How’s That Wishin’ Prayin’ Thing Workin’ Out For Ya?”

Alright then, here’s your oil drilling thread.

Apr 01, 2010 in Barack Obama, Energy, Environment, Politics

Hey, look at the shiny health care reform…!

Okay, no public option, but…what’s the upside to a few more barrels of oil? Was anybody really calling for this right now? Must we tolerate this as more of “the long game,” eventually settling for some halfway version of a carbon tax?
Should we always come out of the gate with a compromise Republicans will try to compromise?

Thought, phlegm welcome in comments.


Furious competition in the Beltway!

Jul 18, 2008 in Barack Obama, Beltway-itis, Clueless Conservatives, Environment

Krauthammer says he can out-stupid Maureen Dowd!

After all, in the words of (Obama’s) own slogan, “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for,” which, translating the royal “we,” means: ” I am the one we’ve been waiting for.”

There’s no limit to what you can figure out about people if you change words in their sentences. This totally works, and all of you can try this at home. Watch me:

Who does (this uppity Negro) think he is?

Works wonders!

We are getting to know. Redeemer of our uninvolved, uninformed lives. Lord of the seas. And more. As he said on victory night, his rise marks the moment when “our planet began to heal.” As I recall — I’m no expert on this — Jesus practiced his healing just on the sick. Obama operates on a larger canvas.

Get it? If you want to do something for the environment, you think you’re bigger and better than Jesus. New ancient Hebrew texts, however, shed little light on Jesus’ preference for offshore drilling, but I’m sure we can work something out. Let me pretend to be a rightwinger for a few minutes here:

Let’s see, I need the offshore drilling because our candidates are high and dry without oil dollars and my opponents do so well with the public on environmental issues…and I’m completely willing to stick Jesus in the cracks of any argument I can dream up, so…

Liberal fascist socialist environmental wackos are trying to tell us our sins can be forgiven if we only embrace the light, literally, with solar power and other alternative sources of energy. Well, we aren’t sun gods anymore, we worship Jesus who dispensed with these worldly affairs and spoke of a higher kingdom, so we will toil the earth as the Bible says without fear of intervention…um…

Nah, can’t do it. Well, for the real bottom-scrapers it would do, but I started to feel my brain imploding due to the absence of shame so I had to stop. Krauthammer fears no such thing.


Ethanol: still bad for Iowa, Volume IX

Dec 02, 2007 in Energy, Environment, Ethanol, Farming

Another check against biofuels, we simply don’t have enough water.

In some areas of the country, water resources already are significantly stressed. For example, large portions of the Ogallala (or High Plains) aquifer, which extends from west Texas up into South Dakota and Wyoming, show water table declines of over 100 feet. Deterioration in water quality may further reduce available supplies. Increased biofuels production adds pressure to the water management challenges the nation already faces.

Some of the water needed to grow biofuel crops will come from rainfall, but the rest will come from irrigation from groundwater or surface water sources. The primary concern with regard to water availability is how much irrigation will be required—either new or reallocated— that might compete with water used for other purposes. Irrigation accounts for the majority of the nation’s “consumptive use” of water—that is the water lost through evaporation and through plant leaves that does not become available for reuse.

The resulting water from irrigation is so heavily laden with phosphates, nitrates, and atrazine it’s unusable and is sent down into the Gulf of Mexico where it causes all sorts of havoc. And it’s not just the water used for irrigation we need to be concerned about. Ethanol distillation itself requires massive inputs of fresh water, the resulting waste water is unfit for consumption and requires considerable processing to once again become potable. A majority of the time it’s discharged back into the environment and, just like the rest of our sewage, is sent down the Mississippi.

Energy independence by way of bio-fuels is a dream peddled by politicians looking to line the pockets of their local constituents with lucrative subsidies.  What’s equally dangerous, I think, is that the promise of bio-fuels encourages people to believe that their lifestyles are, in fact, non-negotiable, as Dick Cheney famously quipped.  If we don’t make rational decisions now, then fate will negotiate for us, whether or not we like the outcomes.


A moment of sobriety.

Oct 26, 2007 in Energy, Environment

On a day-by-day basis I am typically drunk on the blood of George W. Bush. I live on liberal hatred, a disease spontaneously created by the Bush Presidency, and I must tear into Bush at least once a day to keep indigestion down. But occasionally when there’s a full moon my head clears and I can look at the greater world without Bush-hating eyes, so thus can I discern reality clearly.

In saying this, I imply that societies go through cycles of collective thinking that range from being fairly consistent with reality to being dangerously out of whack with it. We’re at the latter end of the cycle these days. One of the symptoms of this is the fact that so many Americans believe the only thing wrong with America is George W. Bush, and that if only we could wiggle out of “his” war, every day would be Christmas, with Nascar around-the-clock, time-outs for shopping sprees down the aisles of the Target store, 5000-square-foot houses for all (for $750 a month), and three BMWs parked in the driveway. . . with fries, and supersize it!

In reality, there’s a lot more wrong with how we live and how we think about how we live than the mere presence of George W. Bush at the head of the federal government. Our expectations are deeply out of phase with what the earth can provide for us and what the future has in store for us, and this failure of our collective imagination goes down to the grass roots.

A lot of my political beliefs, I now understand, lean heavily on the premise, “If we can in any way alleviate the upcoming energy crisis….” Single payer health care in a world without oil? Well, there may be no better model, but that won’t mean it’ll be good. Without the cheap energy glut that has washed over us during the past century, the quality of everything lessens, and health care will plunge into the dark depths with the rest of the debris.


Those scientists never really know for sure!

Sep 11, 2007 in Environment, Global warming, Science

Ha! They didn’t see this coming!

In just the last six days, researchers say 69,000 square miles of Arctic ice has disappeared, roughly the size of the Sunshine State.

Scientists say the rate of melting in 2007 has been unprecedented, and veteran ice researchers worry the Arctic is on track to be completely ice-free much earlier than previous research and climate models have suggested.

“If you had asked me a few years ago about how fast the Arctic would be ice free in summer, I would have said somewhere between about 2070 and the turn of the century,” said scientist Mark Serreze, polar ice expert at the NSIDC. “My view has changed. I think that an ice-free Arctic as early as 2030 is not unreasonable.”

Ooh, what’s next? 2015? They’re probably making the Arctic out to be larger than it is just so we can’t point our fingers and laugh at their tiny limited man-brains! Ah, but when New York is under water, who’ll be laughing then?

The unreliability of science. Pfft!


Tough shit. I like to eat fish.

Sep 04, 2007 in Environment

The Brits have discovered that over-fishing curiously results in fishery depletion.  Silly liberals!  Somebody needs to tell them that there’s no such thing as a finite resource.


Iowa Under Water.

Aug 24, 2007 in Environment, Iowa, Iowa City, Uncategorized

That’s me holding a Smallmouth bass at one of my favorite fishing locales in Iowa City. It’s the railroad bridge perpendicular to Riverside Drive right next to the historic Dairy Queen. It is also the point where the then Western-most train depot led way for Mormon trekkers who made preparations for their arduous journey West.

Concrete pylons narrow the path of the water and produce a sizable increase in hydraulic velocity which results in a “scour hole “, or depression, following or immediately behind the pylons, followed down stream by a wide-spreading “riffle” where the speed and force of the water column disperses. Hungry predator fish will predictably hold right at the leading edge of the pylon where the quick water meets the edge of the slack water. They will use that area as an “ambush point” because smaller forage fish will lose control and get disoriented by the quick water and become easy prey for larger, more opportunistic species which will patiently hold position in the “slack” water in order to conserve energy.

This morning I couldn’t fish at my above favorite location because it’s completely under water. In the picture I’m standing on top of the train bridges’ xxxxxxxx-most pylon because with a couple dozen medium-sized minnows it’s the most opportune location for crappies, white bass and the occasional walleye (and since I’m a fisherman I’m not about to completely disclose why). Unfortunately, during conditions of heavy precipitation, leisure activities are put on hold. The Iowa River watershed is expansive but because of the wise management of the Army Corp of Engineers, Iowa City is normally spared the tribulations caused by weather related flooding. Other Iowa locales haven’t been so lucky, my hometown included, and growing up in a miniscule river town I know their plight.

Since this is an Iowa blog I welcome any all photo contributions. It’s always amazing to witness the climate extremes everyday Iowans endure. Here’s to hoping that all who read this blog are safe and have enough fresh water to drink.  The DM Register has coverage.


Bush official in contempt of court.

Aug 23, 2007 in Environment

When will those little black-robed tools learn the limits of their power?

A federal judge in Montana has ordered the Bush administration’s top forestry official to explain why he should not be held in contempt of court for the U.S. Forest Service’s failure to analyze the environmental impact of dropping fish-killing fire retardant on wildfires.

If found in contempt, Agriculture Undersecretary Mark Rey, who oversees the U.S. Forest Service, could go to jail until the Forest Service complies with the court order to do the environmental review.

Noting that Rey had blocked implementation of an earlier review, U.S. District Judge Donald W. Malloy in Missoula, Mont., ordered Rey to appear in his court Oct. 15 unless the Forest Service completes the analysis before that time.

Obviously he shouldn’t be held in contempt of court because he’s a Bush administration official. Courts have no power over them. Congress has no power over them. There was an election, you see? That was THE accountability moment. There can be no more accountability! How can you waste the time of the Bush administration with such piffle:

Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics, an environmental group based in Eugene, filed the lawsuit in 2003, a year after more than 20,000 fish were killed when toxic retardant was dropped in Fall Creek in central Oregon.

In 2005, Malloy ruled that the Forest Service violated the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act when it failed to go through a public process to analyze the potential environmental harm of using ammonium phosphate, a fertilizer that kills fish, as the primary ingredient in fire retardant dropped on wildfires.

It’s just fish, you see. They don’t matter, and there’s no way toxins in our fish could enter our bodies when we eat…fish. Anyway, it just ends up in the ocean, and the ocean is really big. Those chemicals just go somewhere, okay? It’s not like they’re going to pop up before Bush is outta there.



Aug 17, 2007 in Energy, Environment

Jesus.  We use 1.5 million barrels of oil a year to produce the plastic bottles used for bottled water?  And judging by the wastebaskets here at work I’ll bet a sizable majority of that quickly ends up in the local landfill.

I’ve got a modicum of common sense so hearing that bottled water was no different than tap water didn’t come as an earth shaking revelation.  One of the dullards I work with “just couldn’t believe it”.  This is the same person who thinks that the Earth’s mantle naturally produces liquid hydrocarbons so I shouldn’t be that surprised.


Ethanol: bad for Iowa water

Jul 20, 2007 in Energy, Environment, Ethanol, Iowa

I’m providing a link to the brochure The Rush to Ethanol which details some of the hard-to-swallow realities regarding corn based ethanol. For now, let’s leave aside the fact that even if 100 percent of the U.S. corn harvest was dedicated to ethanol, it would displace less than 15 percent of national gasoline use, and look at some of the other negative impacts corn-based ethanol would have. Intensive mono culture planting of corn results in depleted nitrogen levels in the soil. Soybean rotation was the productive solution for years since soybeans naturally restore nitrogen levels in the soil and is also a very lucrative crop to grow (though soybeans regularly trade in the $8 a bushel range, corn productivity per acre is far more making up for the $3 to $4 per bushel corn usually trades at). To replace the nitrogen that corn uses farmers typically resort to the use of liquid fertilizers which are derived exclusively from rapidly depleting fossil fuels like natural gas. Judged in terms of nitrates and phosphates Iowa already has some of the worst water quality in the world. With the increased nitrogen needed to support a strict, non-rotational crop schedule it can only get worse.


ps> some decent comments here.

US shores bombarded with WMDs.

Jun 15, 2007 in Environment

Not a bad policy if you think the Rapture is coming in the next ten years anyway:

“The Army now admits that it secretly dumped 64 million pounds of nerve and mustard agents into the sea, along with 400,000 chemical-filled bombs, land mines and rockets and more than 500 tons of radioactive waste – either tossed overboard or packed into the holds of scuttled vessels.”

It’s not like seawater is corrosive or anything.

Hundreds of dolphins washed ashore in Virginia and New Jersey shorelines in 1987 with burns similar to mustard gas exposure.

Click for maps and a nasty picture of a fucked-up dolphin. They deserve the traffic and I still can’t figure out how to put up pictures.

Yet I can do YouTube. Go figure.

[youtube AQ6PEZUFz3I]


“These individuals, I tell you, have their heads buried in the sand.”

Jun 06, 2007 in Corporate shenanigans, Disappointing Dems, Energy, Environment, Global warming, Politics

So said Democratic Congressman Nick Rahall in my recent post about the multi-million dollar lobbying effort to get billions in subsidies for the coal industry.

I was also told by an intelligent commenter that looking at Rahall’s voting record shows support for coal AND the environment and that he was not merely a bought-and-paid-for politician. Here’s Rahall’s votes for the past two years.

Imagine my enormous surprise to see this post at Libs Earth Watch leading to this article.

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) today sharply criticized a provision in a new bill introduced by Chairman Nick Rahall (D-WV) in the House Natural Resources Committee that the group said would “essentially outlaw the generation of electricity from new wind power plants in the United States and even phase out power production from existing wind turbines.”

The provision, Subtitle D of H.R. 2337, would:

* Bar any new wind power project until new Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) rules are issued – a process likely to take years – and require FWS certification of every turbine
* Require all existing turbines, even small residential units, to cease operating 6 months after issuance of new FWS rules until they are “certified,” an unwieldy bureaucratic process applying to many thousands of turbines that, again, will take years
* Make it a crime, punishable by a $50,000 fine or a year in jail, to construct or generate electricity from an unapproved turbine, even for home use
* Undermine state and federal efforts to promote renewable electricity generation and subvert the growing movement to reduce global warming pollution
* Create an unworkable bureaucracy that will delay clean, emissions-free wind energy projects throughout the U.S.

The legislative proposal follows on the heels of a May 3 report from the National Academy of Sciences that states, among other things, that “Clearly, bird deaths caused by wind turbines are a minute fraction of . . . total anthropogenic bird deaths – less than 0.003% [three of every 100,000] in 2003.” And the wind industry is already helping to fund groundbreaking collaborative research programs on bats and grassland birds to develop a knowledge base that would allow intelligent and effective conservation measures. Existing evidence suggests that fossil fuel-fired electricity generation, not covered by H.R. 2337’s requirements, has far greater wildlife impacts.

Commented Gregory Wetstone, AWEA Senior Director of Government and Public Affairs, “Wind energy requires no mining or drilling for fuel, no fuel transportation, no hazardous waste disposal, and no water use; and wind energy generates electricity without toxic pollutants like mercury, without greenhouse pollution, and of course without the conventional pollutants that cause smog and acid rain. Is this really an energy sector Congress should close down, for environmental reasons?”

Isn’t that curious? Congressman Nick Rahall, not in the pocket of the coal industry, is set to try destroying wind energy.

It seems Congress, even our Democratic one, will be quite content to let Nick Rahall run wild and even vote in his bills if the netroots aren’t looking. Perhaps they should become aware that to maintain their credentials for supporting environmental issues, Nick Rahall and whatever coal-funded crackpot schemes he comes up with should be relegated to a tiny, tiny minority. Taking another look at where he stands on the issues, he’s barely even a Democrat. Yes on the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (the one that ended your right of habeus corpus), yes on every vote in favor of criminalizing aspects of abortion, yes on the credit card “reform” bill, yes on the Constitutional Amendment banning same-sex marriage, etc. etc. etc. Obviously he’s got some good votes in there or he’d just be a Republican, but clearly his judgment is not to be easily trusted. Perhaps we should keep our heads out of the sand when it comes to Nick Rahall.


Let the market fight global warming, right?

Jun 01, 2007 in Energy, Environment, Global warming, Peak Oil, Politics

The coal industry is spending millions lobbying for billions (gotta love the political system!) to subsidize the construction of coal-to-liquid plants which would likely double greenhouse gas emissions. “In addition to the carbon dioxide emitted while using the fuel, the production process creates almost a ton of carbon dioxide for every barrel of liquid fuel.”

A very interesting article…here are two paragraphs devoted to the environmental justification:

With both House and Senate Democrats hoping to pass “energy independence” bills by mid-July, coal supporters argue that coal-based fuels are more American than gasoline and potentially greener than ethanol.

“For so many, filthy coal is a dirty four-letter word,” said Representative Nick V. Rahall, Democrat of West Virginia and chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee. “These individuals, I tell you, have their heads buried in the sand.”

Zoinks, I just got pwned! Case closed, sir! The finely honed logic of a Democrat bought and paid for by the coal lobby. Of course, they must now be granted subsidies on a larger scale than ethanol plants!

Among the proposed inducements winding through House and Senate committees: loan guarantees for six to 10 major coal-to-liquid plants, each likely to cost at least $3 billion; a tax credit of 51 cents for every gallon of coal-based fuel sold through 2020; automatic subsidies if oil prices drop below $40 a barrel; and permission for the Air Force to sign 25-year contracts for almost a billion gallons a year of coal-based jet fuel.

Carbon capture and storage is still far off, and likely to face stiff opposition.

…no company has built a commercial-scale plant that also captures carbon, and experts caution that many obstacles lie ahead.

“At best, you’re going to tread water on the carbon issue, and you’re probably going to do worse,” said Howard Herzog, a principal research engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a co-author of “The Future of Coal,” a voluminous study published in March by M.I.T. “It goes against the whole grain of reducing carbon.”

But we can make it happen by buying enough politicians!

But coal executives anticipate potentially huge profits. Gregory H. Boyce, chief executive of Peabody Energy, based in St. Louis, which has $5.3 billion in sales, told an industry conference nearly two years ago that the value of Peabody’s coal reserves would skyrocket almost tenfold, to $3.6 trillion, if it sold all its coal in the form of liquid fuels.

Coal industry lobbying has reached a fever pitch. The industry spent $6 million on federal lobbying in 2005 and 2006, three times what it spent each year from 2000 through 2004, according to calculations by

With such a potential return, what’s a few million?

People who babble about the existence of the free market might as well be talking about the existence of Sasquatch. It simply isn’t the way this country works, and hasn’t been for a very, very long time. And until public financing of elections is reached, legalized bribery will ensure that our current system continues to harm the environment.


UPDATE: Obama endorses these kinds of subsidies, which puts on him a burden to justify or drop it. I’m sure that in ten, twenty years when oil is increasingly scarce, there will be a lot of people saying, “I need some juice to put in my car NOW!” This may look like some sort of easy out, but it isn’t. It just makes it more difficult getting out. This isn’t going to change my support for Obama, but he’s got some ‘splainin’ to do.

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) problematic.

May 16, 2007 in Energy, Environment, Global warming

Coal plants are just bad news, period. Yes, coal is abundant. Absolutely everything else about it is completely wretched. I’ve been hopeful that we could at least install CCS in existing coal plants, but the truth is that it’s still got a long way to go and new coal plants without CCS are still being planned and built every day, with China’s use skyrocketing. Coal in the US creates “roughly 50 percent of the nation’s electricity and more than 40 percent of the nation’s emissions of carbon dioxide—the leading greenhouse gas.” There is no real way forward in energy without addressing coal. Scientific American looks at some of the problems.

That primary cost is in energy that gets used to capture the carbon—roughly 40 percent of the power a plant can produce—as well as to pressurize it and pump it underground. “In general terms, you are talking about a 50 percent increase in the cost of coal and maybe a 25 percent increase in the retail residential price of coal-fired electricity,” Moniz says. “For a 600-megawatt power plant, in order to capture most of the CO2 and sequester it for the 50-year life of the plant, you’re talking about one billion barrels of supercritical CO2. That’s a pretty big reservoir.”

CCS is utterly necessary for coal plants, yet their fundamental difficulties strongly call for a direction away from coal energy. Immediate costs do not paint the entire picture, as a related article suggests:

The report also provides estimates of what such changes might cost. These estimates range from an actual improvement of overall economic health to a loss of as much as 3 percent of global gross domestic product by 2030, depending on what level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is targeted. But “costs may be substantially lower under the assumption that revenues from carbon taxes or auctioned permits under an emission trading system are used to promote low-carbon technologies,” the report notes; associated health benefits, such as decreased particulate pollution from cars, could make stringent action economically beneficial.

If humanity is going to keep moving forward, it will have to learn to calculate tomorrow’s costs against today’s savings. Fossil fuels are cheap only because their real costs are nudged outside of our tunnelvision, as per usual in modern economic thinking.

The future will provide no magic bullets, and consensus is rapidly solidifying around the reality that we are going to have to use every freakin’ resource we can find to supply our power in the face of the perfect storm that is global climate change combined with peak oil. Through a combination of biomass, wind, solar, and nuclear power (hydrogen is not a source of power, it is a vessel) along with new hydroelectric technologies and good ole’ fashioned geothermal power, we can displace carbon entirely.

Coal can be improved, but better for it to be gone entirely.


Some good news for once.

Apr 24, 2007 in Environment, Iowa

Essential Estrogen points us to this promising news from the Daily Iowan.   The Iowa Farmers Union is calling for a statewide moratorium on the construction of high-density livestock confinement buildings.  I posted about this last week and it’s really terrific to hear that there’s some momentum behind a solution.   We’ll see where it goes.


Iowa water…bad and getting worse.

Apr 19, 2007 in Disappointing Dems, Environment, Iowa

Anybody who lives in the Iowa City area could read this article and not be at all surprised.  It appears that the Iowa River is number three on the list of most endangered rivers because of failure to adequately adhere to Clean Water Act standards.  High on the list of pollutants are the usual suspects that can be found in most Iowa waterways;  fecalform bacteria, phosphates and nitrates from farm run-off and animal confinement operations.  To be fair we shouldn’t leave out your neurotic neighbors who are so obsessed with having a green lawn they think that the more fertilizer they apply the greener it will get.  I’m not going to hold out hope for any action on the part of our state government now that Patty Judge is our new assistant vice governor.  It’s common knowledge she’s in the pocket of the hog confinement industry.


Global Warming Update, the debate is STILL over. Part 2.

Mar 17, 2007 in Clueless Conservatives, Environment, Global warming, Uncategorized, War on Terra

A great many of those that label themselves conservative these days don’t let truth stand in the way when it comes to scoring some cheap points any which way they can. Take art for example. Your average hair-brained idealogue cannot imagine that anyone would independently create a work of expression merely for the joy of doing so. The closest that they can come to understanding art is by indentifying and labeling it as propaganda thereby justifying their cynicism and also their feelings of being constantly under attack by would-be tryants. The same mentality comes into play in regards to global warming and the work being done by those that research it. It is unfathomable to some that scientists don’t have cynical motives and aren’t reflexively rebelling against SUVs, capitalism, Uncle Sam, etc., in order to justify their own selfish ideological concerns or their scheming desires to establish a One-World Government run by Kofi Annan and Jane Fonda.

So here we have a “documentary”, lauded by many on the “9 out of 10 doctors prefer Chesterfields!!” side of the debate, proving once and for all that global warming is a hoax perpetrated by opportunistic scientists. Never mind that it’s complete rubbish from a scientific stand-point* and forget that participants in the program were misquoted, misrepresented or are just plain old cranks. The only thing that matters is that we’ve got some hacks parroting what we believe. Facts be damned.


*see also here.

The Papal Condemnation of Ranger Rick

Mar 12, 2007 in Environment, Global warming, War on Terra

Are you an employee of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that wants to discuss global warming or polar bear extinction?  You gotta clear it with the Commissary of the Holy Office first.



Once again, conservatives appluad (while ignoring) the free market.

Mar 07, 2007 in Environment, Global warming, Local, Local Politics, Uncategorized, War on Terra's real

For all of the blustering about “free markets” conservatives (as usual) don’t pay much attention to the genuine article when it conflicts with their ideological devotions. They’re more interested in their own egos than they are with immediate realities. So it goes with global warming; a phenomenon even the Pentagon and a majority of the business community considers real. Why? Because the invisible hand indicates to them that they will not function well within an environment that is not hospitable to their presence.

Gander Mountain understands this simple equation. I divy up my local outdoorzy retail purchases between two places; Fin and Feather (located on Highway 6 in Iowa City) and Gander Mountain (closest one being Cedar Rapids). Gander Mountain has more of a selection but the down-side is that they’re twenty miles away.  Fin and Feather, though being within a convenient two miles of my house, have the disadvantage of inflated prices and condescending sales staff. It’s always a toss-up between driving half-an-hour and paying less or listening to some geezer tell me how if I’m fishing with anything less than a Shimano Stella I might as well give up walleye fishing (even though I’ve been fishing for twenty five years) rather than share some useful information with me. Considering the circumstances I choose driving to Cedar Rapids nine times out of ten.

Gander Mountain also understands that if there are no areas to fish or hunt they will soon be out of customers who enjoy fishing and hunting.

That is why, as a consumer and sportsman, I’m going to stop shopping at Fin & Feather in Iowa City. Gander Mountain is the type of business that understands that renewable energy goes hand in hand with the true concept of conservativism and, to a greater extent, liberty.

You meet some of these old-school types down on the water. They’re usually sitting on a five-gallon bucket with a few dinks complaining about how they used to be able to fill that bucket full of crappies or walleye or how the river used to be clear and the fish were plentiful. These are the same type of guys that took it for granted, then and now, that the past will mirror the future and they’re the same types of people, that with filthy rivers and empty creels, will lament the encroachment of insidious liberals. These are the same types who keep everything they catch, edible or not, younger generations be damned. What they don’t realize is that the markets they adore extend beyond their own opportunities to consume. That the world isn’t an infinite resource nor an infinite garbage can.


Dennis Prager: cynical or stupid?

Jan 19, 2007 in Clueless Conservatives, Environment, Global warming

It wouldn’t be easy to prove, not unless I can get a transcript of today’s show. Sick of commercials on KLSD1360, I did a quick dial rotation. Most radio stations play their commercials around the same times each hour, but occasionally I can catch five minutes of rightwing talk. That’s about how long I make it before I nearly snap the dial off in disbelief that these people believe anybody should take them seriously. Today I got some Dennis Prager. I felt like I was attending a sermon on how to actively lower your intelligence.

The caller asked Dennis a real hardball question: “Why won’t Al Gore debate the scientists who say he’s full of crap? And why do his people insist his excuse that he’s not much of a debater?” (This is all paraphrased, and I have the memory of a flea…)

Okay, let’s just set aside that the “scientists” that want to debate Al Gore are the same people who have lost the argument within the scientific community. Al Gore isn’t a scientist, he’s a liason between the scientific community and the public. Al Gore has perpetually been among politicians one of the most scientifically literate and philosophically astute. He’s someone I feel kinship to in that regard. I’m far too atrocious with math to get into the true nitty gritty of science, yet I’m attracted to the greatest minds and when they try to explain things to people at my level, I listen very carefully. Gore’s film The Inconvenient Truth was an initiative taken on his part to help teach the public what the best science of the day is saying about global climate changes.  And the scientific community agrees, Gore did listen to them very carefully.
Dennis Prager, however, responded (and I’m not trying to put words in anybody’s mouth, anybody who does grab a transcript will see that I’m good with “the gist”), “Well, that doesn’t make sense to me. It seems to me that if you’re smart and have good facts on your side, you’re a good debater, right? Truth persuades. When a person is persuasive in a debate, it’s because they’ve got the truth on their side. Al Gore doesn’t want to debate because he’s full of it!”

Well, folks, throw out the logic textbooks. Rhetoric is truth. Propaganda is right if you believe it.

Can Prager claim to believe this for one second? He’s supposed to be a learned man, but how could anyone remotely versed in intellectual honesty drop that whopper and not blink? How can he not understand that an “expert,” however off-base, can overwhelm a layman with minutae?  If you’ve read debates with Creationists vs. the occasional scientist who can be bothered, it’s considerable what a person can whip up to support pure gobbeldygook.
Does Dennis Prager think he would survive ten minutes against one of the world’s leading global warming experts? Please! Al Gore would sure as heck hand Prager his own balls in a global warming debate, but one must admit that in almost every case, large numbers of people will still back the loser of the debate if their beliefs match.  

So Prager forgets that Gore’s side has won the debate among people who are actually scientists. That doesn’t count!  It’s that darned liberal bias that reality has (thank you, Colbert). What counts is when a bunch of laymen are asked to be the referee on highly complicated scientific issues, duh.

Next:  the public gets to settle that string theory debate!

I think Prager’s comments illustrate that true propagandists are required to be convinced of their own bullshit when they spew it, but spend so much time spewing it they get stuck. Perhaps in the corners of his mind, for a few seconds a day, Prager is able to understand that he’s full of shit. But does he really deserve credit for that? Is he still “smart” if he knows he’s pushing flat-out brain junk?

The global warming debate is a wonderful opportunity to gauge with near scientific accuracy just how much effort humans can put into absolute, complete bunk, and how much resistance they can put up against the fairest objectivity. It reminds us that even the “smartest” of us, as no doubt many on the right consider Prager to be, will be flat dead wrong and refuse to acquiesce easily to new shifts in understanding when they come. Airtight logic will not give airtight results, or anything resembling.  And in the case of Prager, a godless priest can be fully able to comprehend the new paradigm and yet forcefully advocate against it for some fraudulent “higher ideal.”

Google Sun

Oct 19, 2006 in Energy, Environment, Uncategorized

Google is installing a 1.6 megawatt solar panel array at it’s Silicon Valley corporate campus to provide thirty percent of it’s electricity needs.

The anticipated savings from future energy bills should enable Google to recoup the solar project’s costs in five to 10 years, estimated David Radcliffe, the company’s
vice president of real estate.

“We hope corporate America is paying attention. We want to see a lot of copycats” of this project, Radcliffe said.

A step in the right direction, for sure. Conservatives (who, ironically, have no interest in conservation) will routinely ridicule Google’s move for no apparent reason just like they reflexively derided a film like Supersize Me. One of the frequent criticisms I hear is that it takes a long time (usually around ten years) for a solar array to pay for itself in savings which is curious because other long term investments like 401k’s and Roth IRAs are applauded unquestioningly. And ten years in a house isn’t really a long time considering you’ve got an average mortgage duration of twenty years.


Poisoning the well.

Jul 31, 2006 in Christian Right, Clueless Conservatives, Environment, Global warming, Uncategorized, War on Terra

The LA Times has the second of a two part series up concerning the damage already done to the environment. Since there seems to still be those that think that there is a “debate” regarding global environmental destruction and climate change it’s a jaw-dropping look at what has already happened as a result of human encroachment upon specific biological systems.

I’ve always thought that one of the most dangerous components of the far-right ideology is their insistence that they hold dominion over the earth and its inhabitants and that they can therefore shirk their duties as good stewards. By their logic they live on a disposable planet. They are the chosen ones and since God has limitless power it follows that God also has provided them with limitless resources. Add in the conviction that we are in the End Times and all true believers are going to ascend to a better place (so why worry about this earthly realm?) and you have a recipe for disaster.


Surprise! Global warming skeptics accept payola.

Jul 28, 2006 in Environment, Global warming, Uncategorized

This wont come as a surprise to most but several academics are being paid to express doubts about the causes of global warming including mouth-breather favorite Patrick Michaels who has already been exposed to be a shameless hack on several occasions.


update: RealScience debunks the IREA paper.

I need some volunteers.

Jul 11, 2006 in Agriculture, Energy, Environment, Uncategorized, War on Terra

I’m looking for some volunteers.   In order for biofuels to reach their full potential ninety five out of one hundred of you are going to have to stop driving:

But all this is barely a splash in the tank of energy demand. Even if the US devoted all its corn to ethanol and all its soybeans to biodiesel production,“ which would cause widespread food shortages,“ the resulting biofuels would cover less than 5% of US gasoline and diesel fuel needs, they calculate.

“Those two sources are always going to be minor supplies of those fuels,” says Tilman. “Turning what is already a globally limited quantity of food into energy is not a very good option in the long term.”

Goddammit!   I was really enjoying all of those GM and Ford commercials that feature pretty people in pretty cars promising a pretty planet.   The bottom line is that all the switch-grass on the globe isn’t going to keep the airline industry, Disneyland, Wal-mart and a million TiVos running indefinitely let alone keep the fat kids parked in front of the tube full of Doritos and Pepsi.   What’s more problematic is that a rather sizable portion of the population refuses to accept the possibility that they may have to do without.


The global warming hoax.

Jul 06, 2006 in Clueless Conservatives, Environment, Uncategorized

So my dad doesn’t believe that global warming exists despite the fact that even his sovereign king George W. Bush has acknowledged it’s existance. He thinks it’s a shuck and jive perpetrated by opportunistic researchers looking to cash in on a potentially lucrative public health scare. Not that this is an isolated nugget of barking lunacy. The notion that ozone depletion is a conspiracy percolated by a cabal of evil scientists is a widely held belief and that comes as no suprise considering that two thirds of the population also believe in The Devil, that the Free Masons are a satanic front group, and that weapons of mass destruction were actually found in Iraq.

The local media doesn’t help things out much either. The local newspaper, the Fort Dodge Messenger, has devolved completely into a rag that beyond local sports news has no journalistic merit. I read it over the course of a couple of days any time I’m home and the format has remained the same over the past few years. The front page is consistently dominated by a large full color picture surrounded by AP wire stories almost exclusively related to the purported War on Terror while the Op-Ed page contains regular contributions from administration cheerleaders David Broder, Robert Novak, and Jonah Fucking Goldberg so forget environmental destruction, we’ve got a war to salivate over.

And why should they care? With the exception of Doughy Pantload they comprise The Greatest Generation ™ (and don’t you forget it!) who beat the communists and spread freedom around the globe and now they face the daunting task of defeating Islamo-fascism all the while dragging those weak-kneed liberals kicking and screaming with them. The idea that they may have committed a short-sighted error in regards to the environment is complete blasphemy. To admit that the planet isn’t an infinite resource and an infinite garbage can would require some to have to reconsider their positions and acknowledge that perhaps mistakes have been made. That’s not an easy thing to do for the president, let alone The Greatest Generation.