EPA: global warming is a genuine and immediate threat

It’s amazing what can happen when a government organization that, in theory, is the de facto watchdog of the energy industry in the United States is no longer tethered to neocon yearnings.

The Environmental Protection Agency sent a proposal to the White House on Friday finding that global warming is endangering the public’s health and welfare, according to several sources, a move that could have far-reaching implications for the nation’s economy and environment.
The proposal — which comes in response to a 2007 Supreme Court decision ordering EPA to consider whether carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases should be regulated under the Clean Air Act — could lay the groundwork for nationwide measures to limit such emissions. It reverses one of the Bush administration’s landmark environmental decisions: In July 2008 then-EPA administrator Stephen Johnson rejected his scientific and technical staff’s recommendation and announced the agency would seek months of further public comment on the threat posed by global warming pollution.

Of course, not everyone is pleased.

[B]usiness groups decried the move as an economic disaster.
“By moving forward with the endangerment finding on greenhouse gases, EPA is putting in motion a set of decisions that may have far-reaching unintended consequences,” said Bill Kovacs, vice president of environment, technology and regulatory affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “Specifically, once the finding is made, no matter how limited, some environmental groups will sue to make sure it is applied to all aspects of the Clean Air Act.
“This will mean that all infrastructure projects, including those under the president’s stimulus initiative, will be subject to environmental review for greenhouse gases. Since not one of the projects has been subjected to that review, it is possible that the projects under the stimulus initiative will cease. This will be devastating to the economy.”

See that? Endangerment finding on greenhouse gases, yada yada yada devastating to the economy. Of course, this relies on a series of shrill, bullshit doomsday assumptions, not that the wingmen who will quote him will pause ot consider the fact.
A transcript of an online discussion between the EPA’s Bill Kovacs and the media is here. Of note, Kovacs says that the provisions of the Clean Air Act are grossly inadequate to control the level of greenhouse gases spilled into the atmosphere owing to human industry, and that unless other nations join in the effort to curb GHG emissions, the efforts of the U.S. will essentially be in vain.
In any event, expect a shitstorm from the usual sources, and a repetition of the same canards (“Urth cooling since 1998! CO2 only 0.0027% of greenhouse gases! Winter cold! IPCC on the take! 650 scientists dissent, yo!”) in response to this unaplogetic move toward communism.

“A billion fewer people is a great place to start”

From a Psychology Today blog:

Want to hear an unpopular opinion: I think we should put Nadya Suleman in jail. Perhaps you don’t recall the name. Perhaps you don’t even believe a crime has been committed. Perhaps you think I should be locked up along the way. Fine. But someone has to start saying things aloud, so here goes:
Nadya Suleman had 14. And they should all be taken from her and raised by fit parents. Seriously, I could care less about the fact that she’s unmarried, unemployed, unable to convince herself that she’s not Angelina Jolie.
She’s a criminal. She’s a murderer. She’s not only guaranteeing her kids a very hard life, she’s killing all of us.
Not too long ago, one of my readers pointed out that I’m pretty good at pointing out what’s wrong in the world and lousy about pointing out solutions. So here’s my simple solution: Stop Having Children.
I call it the 5 Year Ban. For the next five years let’s not have any kids. All of us. The whole freaking planet.
I don’t think this should be a top down approach. I don’t mean a literal government ban. I mean a grassroots movement of responsible adults behaving like responsible adults. I mean a populist moratorium on childbirth.
Why 5 years? Because it’s a manageable number. Because it would mean a billion less people. Because a billion less people is a good place to start.
If everyone living on the planet today were really serious about, well, there being a planet left to live on, a planet left for our children to actually occupy, a planet that can actually sustain life. If we were serious then we would all be using birth control.
All the time. And we would never stop using it.

As always, the most entertaining part of this is the comments from people who believe the writer, Steven Kotler, is completely serious. (OK, so he should have used “fewer,” not “less,” in his post title; I fixed that here.) This one is my favorite, but the various hotheads that urge Kotler to kill himself because they equate a call for fewer new people with a directive to snuff out existing ones are fun to read too.
I see Kotler as mocking, in a timely manner, the banal hypocrisy of those who oppose birth control and abortion yet scream about Suleman. The latter’s addition of eight kids to a ramshackle and already oversized brood is–while unfortunate at best–a drop in the bucket compared to the total number of babies born into dire circumstances the U.S. every day, in large part as a result of backward religious “education” and related solecisms, including the logically indefensible idea that since each of us was given the “gift” of life ourselves, we “owe” it to…well, to something to keep the chain reaction going.
Why aren’t the same people railing against the Duggars? Is someone really going to claim that these kids, no matter well they may be provided for financially (and exactly how the family feeds these hapless crotch-crickets-Christ is unclear but seems to relate to a religious Tony Robbins-style DVD), are growing up in a nurturing environment? They certainly aren’t growing up bright or beautiful–at least these big-ass Mormon families generally have that going for them.

When an attempt to parody your position is your position…

…it’s a sign that you may want to rethink both.
One of the Atop the ACLU hacks has, with the usual level of sophistication, offered this “dismissal” of anthropogenic climate change by way of a story about manatees clustering along the Florida mainland thanks to unusually cold waters this winter:

“When it gets cold, it’s weather. Or global warming causes cold temps. Something like that. The Believers excuses get confusing. Then they jump in the SUV and leave the car idling for a long time while picking the kiddies up.”

Actually, this “parody” of wingnuts’ own lack of understanding of climate change almost couldn’t be more accurate. The concepts of data points, trends, and time scales mean no more to them then the correct use of an apostrophe; the idea that processes leading to warming in one region of the planet could engender cooling in others (such as polar ice melting and cooling the air in subtropical regions) is completely beyond their understanding; and the compulsion to substitute jokes about manatees and SUVs for comprehension (think “Evolution? Seems to me there’s still monkeys out there!”) is a sine qua non of scientifically illiterate, inconsequential pundits.
Also, the Stop the ACLU hack left out an interesting part of the article he cites, written by a Baltimore meteorologist:

Most noticeable is the [manatees’] behavior in the winter. A huge debate has been going on for decades about the Indian River in Florida. A nuclear power plant pumps out warm water in the winter that is attractive for the manatees, but also prevents them from traveling farther south to warmer waters.

So have human activities played any demonstrable roles in changing ecosystems through modulation of temperature? Nah, that’s just libtard’s saying climate is more then weather just like they say years are different from hours and even days, LOL!!!
The futility of the nutter position on climate change is just as easily revealed using handy counterexamples. It is 47 degrees Fahrenheit in southern New Hampshire today–over 37 degrees warmer than it was just 60 or so hours ago. Just think, at that rate the landscape will be literally boiling within a week and a half! Of course, you never see anyone arguing for the reality of climate change resorting to examples this frivolous, but every winter brings a three-or four-month stream of idiotic Internet posts about how the cold weather outside “proves” something. And the unapologetic lack of reasoning skills at work here carries over into everything these people say.

Cody update

From the NH Pathways to Hope Web site, concerning the young black Lab in training to be a service dog who was struck by a car the other day:
Cody had his orthopedic surgery on 1/15/09 to repair his broken front left leg and everything went very well. He was released from the veterinary hospital this afternoon and is now in foster care. Cody will be on strict crate rest for 3 months and will receive regular check-ups and X-rays to monitor the progress of his leg, as it heals. Everything will be done according to his attending veterinarian’s instructions. The outlook for Cody’s future is bright and we expect him to fully recover. Cody has had a slight career change and we are planning to have him become the Ambassador for the NHPTH program, after he is fully recovered.

People, from across the country, have been very generous and their donations have allowed us to pay for Cody’s medical treatments, as well as his follow up care over the next few months. Many thanks to everyone who sent Cody good wishes, prayers and support. Thank you again to Tracy, the Good Samaritan who stopped to help Cody last Monday night. Thank you to the staff at CrossRoads Animal Hospital in Londonderry who stabilized Cody immediately after his accident. Many thanks to the entire staff at CAVES for their dedication, compassion and care for every patient who comes through their front door, including Cody.
Without all of these people, who in some way, helped Cody in his time of need, Cody’s future would not be as bright. A big wag and a smile from Cody and his big brown puppy eyes.
Terry Kelley CVT, CPDT
NHPTH Secretary and volunteer trainer

Not something I’m happy to report

But it would be nice if this story about a service-dog-in-training had a happy ending.

URGENT- Please Help Cody!

<img src='http://pthnhpdp.org/pages/cody_sm.jpg&#039; width=155 border=1 alt='URGENT- Please Help Cody!' New Hampshire Pathways to Hope (Prison Dog Program) is sending out an urgent plea to the public. Cody, a 5 month old Black Labrador puppy, escaped from his foster home on Monday, January 12 and was hit by a car.
Cody is currently being treated at the Capitol Area Veterinary Services (CAVES) in Concord. He has a broken front left leg, head trauma and multiple bruises and lacerations.
Cody is currently stable, but will need orthopedic surgery to repair his broken leg. The current estimate for his hospital bills and surgery is $2000-that’s after a nearly the very generous discount by CAVES.

NHPTH is funded solely by donations and we urgently need help in paying for Cody’s medical treatments. If you would like to help Cody, please consider making a donation to the following address.
NH Pathways To Hope
PO Box 672
Concord, NH 03302-0672

Pay Pal Donations

No surprise: Human predation exerts selection pressures on other species

In a purely humanless world, other organisms would face “purely” environmental obstacles to their own sustenance and hence a different set of pressures than those of today, which include deforestation, pollution, and other ecologically definitive actions perpetrated by H. sapiens sapiens. The result is that adaptations in plants and animals that in the real world are in close contact with humans would generally coour more slowly, or along different paths. (I’m perhaps oversimplifying here, and real biologists are free to take me top task.)
At the other extreme, the directed breeding of animals whose reproductive habits are strictly controlled by humans has led to some extremely rapid evolution. The example that usually comes to mind is dogs, domesticated from wolves only ten or twelve thousands years ago. The variety of dog breeds in existence today–all of which are theoretically capable of mating with both wolves and each other–is staggering, and in unclouded minds serves as unimpeachable testament to the existence of raw, randomly generated DNA substrate upon which selection–in this case artificial selection–can act.
Today, a Yahoo! News article described a situation that lies somewhere in between: Human hunting and fishing activities, while not aimed consciously at breeding in or breeding out animals with new and improved traits, have the same basic effects as antibiotics do on bacteria. Just as an incomplete course of a cephalosporin can result in “superbugs” and pests like MRSA, harvesting of more susceptible fish and game leads, as expected, to the emergence of especially hardy varieties. And this apparently happens three times faster than it would if human activities were not a factor.
The abstract of the study mentioned in the article is here.

As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God

That’s the headline of an editorial written by Matthew Parris of the U.K. Times, who argues that on a continent plagued by violence, infectious disease, famine, war, and every other form of pestilence know to humankind short of a deep freeze.
Parris is an atheist who insists that while his own nonbelief is secure, it can bring all sorts of joy to the hearts of people who have nothing to look forward to but misery. Yes, by all means, let’s infect the primitives with the white man’s god!

Continue reading “As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God”

Jim Kunstler’s economic forecast for 2009

Passages like the following are why I enjoy pundits who entered the fray after long careers as novelists. Whether you agree with his florid doomsday scenarios or not, Kunstler, in addition to have an interesting-sounding surname reminiscent of a Larry Flynt-bred portmanteau, is simply enjoyable to read.

Without reviewing all the vertiginous particulars of the year now ending, suffice it to say that the US economy fell on its ass and that the “global economy” did a face-plant as well. The American banking sector imploded spectacularly to the degree that investment banking actually went extinct — as if a meteor landed on the corner of Madison Avenue and 51st Street. The response by our government was to shovel “loans” onto the loading dock of every organization that pretended to be something like a bank, while “bailing out” an ever-longer line of corporate claimants with a pitiable song-and-dance. The oil markets went on a roller coaster ride. The housing bubble collapse grew to avalanche velocity (taking out whole colonies of realtors, mortgage brokers, and construction contractors in its path), the commercial real estate sector developed hemorrhagic fever, retail drove off a cliff on Christmas Eve, the stock market fell in the toilet, jobs and incomes went up in a vapor, and tens of millions of ordinary citizens addicted to revolving credit found themselves in a life-and-death struggle for the means of existence. None of this is over yet.

The whole “Forecast for 2009” entry is here.

The myth of climate change: some specifics

…and if you disagree, feel free to say so.
The cold that has gripped much of the country gives the lie to global warming.
It is a little-known fact that in the vicinity of the Great Lakes, average February temperatures tend to be cooler than average December temperatures; only those raised in the Midwest are qualified to discuss the matter.
Al Gore, the members of the International Panel on Climate Change, and an agenda-driven liberal mainstream media have conspired to convince the public that global warming implies “a disastrous roasting.” Furthermore, this “indoctrination” has left people unprepared for cold weather; apparently, everyone who hears the words “climate change” gives all of his or her winter gear to Goodwill and the like.
It is well known that scientists prefer the term “climate change” to “global warming” because local effects–particularly at high latitudes–can in fact involve cooling (e.g., as with noctilucent clouds over Alaska). Nevertheless, only idiots would claim that climate change, examined globally, could simultaneously involve both warming and cooling; the complexities of the incompetent liberal mind are inscrutable.
The earth hasn’t had any warming in the past 10 years. Therefore, all talk of a warming trend over longer periods is inane.
The earth is now entering a cooling trend known as a Minimum. As things continue to cool, those who have bought into the warming myth–most of whom attribute this fiction to incandescent light bulbs–are going to be mighty surprised.
Barack Obama is unique responsible for how cold it is in Chicago, because he has the nerve to vacation in Hawaii. In fact, because the economy sucks thanks to the past eight years of unquestionably liberal policies, Obama has no right to even take a vacation. Man of the people, my ass.
And finally, speaking of Obama, those of you who never voted before this year had no right to vote, especially those who are ghetto-dwellers. ACORN was a scandalous operation that cost the more worthy candidate the win.

I’m just passing along what I read somewhere. Some of you will guess exactly where.

Under Obama, climate change won’t be written off as a “liberal cause”

At least not at the level of federal government. Wingnut bloggers will no doubt redouble their clueless thundering and dutiful FOX-News copycatting about the subject, and more moderate dissenting voices are not apt to view the president-elect’s choice of two notoriously pro-regulation climate-change experts–Harvard physicist John Holdren and Oregon State University marine biologist Jane Lubchenco–to take command of science positions as an especially good thing.
Regardless, this is the one science-related area–with the possible exception of embryonic stem-cell funding and research limitations–in which policymaking is certain to change the most from the Bush regime. Over the past eight years, the Bushfolk have fought stoically to portray the very notion of global warming as a silly and misguided myth perpetrated by alarmist liberals keen on making a buck off the whole scam. One wonders what they might have produced had there not apparently been so many mirrors handy.
Holdren, a former president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), will serve as Obama’s top science adviser and will manage about 40 Ph.D-level experts who help form and communicate sci-tech policy. Lubchenco will be the first woman to head the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which administrates the National Weather Service.

SFWMD approves U.S. Sugar ‘Glades deal

Following up on a post I made last week:
On Tuesday, the South Florida Water Management District approved by a 4-3 vote a $1.34 billion deal that in effect accomplishes next to nothing in terms of ensuring an adequate supply of clean fresh water for South Florida.
Under the terms of the deal, the state will lease back most of the land to U.S. Sugar on the extreme cheap so that the agricultural giant can continue production unabated for at least the next seven years. U.S. Sugar gave the deal its stamp of approval last week.
In a nutshell, the board felt it had little choice but to move forward with this less-than-optimal plan owing to financial considerations.
As the Times article explains, uncertainty still abounds, and U.S. Sugar must consider other offers for the next 60 days, including that of eager-beaver the Lawrence Group and another by Florida Crystals.

Bush administration continues heroic stretch-run anti-environment efforts

You know that if James Inhofe approves of a change in policy that brings to bear on the environment, something just fell out of the sky and died.
Inhofe, the torture-happy, Bible-bopping prick who moonlights as a U.S. senator from Oklahoma, is pleased because of a new Department of the Interior rule freeing federal agencies from consulting wildlife experts before embarking on projects bound to disrupt wildlife. In other words, one less damned obstacle in front of the bulldozer.

Continue reading “Bush administration continues heroic stretch-run anti-environment efforts”

Florida-U.S. Sugar deal: not that sweet for the Everglades after all?

On Monday, the U.S. Sugar Corporation agreed to the state of Florida’s offer buy 180,000 acres of its land for $1.34 billion. The move is aimed at helping restore what is left of the Everglades, and Gov. Charlie Crist has been crowing about it for months. But at this point, the deal looks like a much better one for U.S. Sugar than for fans of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Project (CERP), now valued at $12 billion and surely growing.
Originally, the state planned to buy U.S. Sugar’s land and facilities for $1.75 bilion. But last month, those terms were changed. The agricultural giant got to keep its mill and rail lines, and under a $50-an-acre lease-back agreement–a coup for U.S. Sugar–product production will continue.
The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), which administrates CERP, has until next Tuesday to agree to the terms and finalize the contract.
Here’s how this is all supposed to work:

Continue reading “Florida-U.S. Sugar deal: not that sweet for the Everglades after all?”

How a Setback Thermostat Saves Energy

There is some confusion as to precisely how a setback thermostat saves energy. In fact, because of misunderstandings I have heard a number of people proclaim that a setback doesn’t save energy. There are two common arguments:
1. Although you save energy as the house is initially cooling during the setback period, the furnace has to work overtime to make up this loss once the setback period is over. This “overtime” counteracts the initial savings for no net savings.
2. If the house is set for, say, 68F, when it cools a degree to 67F the furnace will turn on. It takes just as much energy to bring the air up one degree, whether it’s from 67 to 68 or from 59 to 60.
So what’s the deal?

Continue reading “How a Setback Thermostat Saves Energy”

Jersey bird

The Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission (DRJTBC) recently announced the arrival of a peregrine falcon chick. The proud parents nested in the steelwork under the I-95 Scudders Falls Bridge. I traverse that bridge once a week when I’m attending my little class o’ regulatory dabbling at Temple U.
It’s a heavily trafficked span, but apparently that didn’t bother the peregrines. The article notes that the presence of the raptors is symbolic of the environmental rebirth of the “dirty Delaware.” The river valley north of the bridge is quite attractive with bike paths along the canals that bracket the river (better — ahem — on the Jersey side; our tax dollars at work) and scenic forest, cliffs and little old river towns hugging the high banks.
Although the span between New Hope PA and Lambertville NJ would have been a much more chic nesting location than Scudders Falls, that ancient bridge is a grid floored structure. Not much privacy there.
The presence of the peregrines adds just a little more (OK, just a little) validation to the informal state slogan: “New Jersey: Not as Bad as You Think!” Plus I love raptors. I know that peregrines adapt to the cosmopolitan life style (see Jack and Diane) so it’s kinda cool that they’ve become another roadside attraction along interstate.
Photo courtesy of the Pennsylvania Game Commission who supplied this and others to DRJTBC who in turn, supplied them to TOLLROADSnews

Sex and the Olympic Village

A very entertaining article in The Times today regarding Olympians and sex. The author, former Olympian Matthew Syed, discusses just what goes on behind closed doors (and sometimes on rooftops) at the Olympic village. He offers the usual bag of “reasons why” (testosterone, being away from home, etc.) but it’s presented in a light and humorous manner, a good read. Consider the opener:

I am often asked if the Olympic village – the vast restaurant and housing conglomeration that hosts the world’s top athletes for the duration of the Games – is the sex-fest it is cracked up to be. My answer is always the same: too right it is. I played my first Games in Barcelona in 1992 and got laid more often in those two and a half weeks than in the rest of my life up to that point. That is to say twice, which may not sound a lot, but for a 21-year-old undergraduate with crooked teeth, it was a minor miracle.

But my favorite is:

Which all begs a question, or possibly many questions. First, and most importantly, how can one get access to the village?

Wild Turkey Nest

What could’ve been the national symbol of the USA if Ben Franklin had his way, the wild turkey (meleagris gallopavo) is having a bit of a resurgence as of late. In our neck of the woods (central New York state) they have become a common sight and small bands of them are often seen crossing the country roads during the day.
But we had a lovely surprise these past few weeks. Recently, I had begun clearing some trails through the woods behind our house. This project included building three bridges across a couple of small creeks (the construction of which may be the topic of a future blog post). While working on one of them, I came across what at first appeared to be a dead turkey plopped amid some branches and twigs at the crest of a small cliff that overlooks the main creek. It blended in so beautifully that in spite of walking past the same spot several times in the course of the previous hour, I had missed it completely. Upon further inspection from a distance, it was apparent that this was a live turkey. I assumed that it had been injured or was sick, and let it be.

Continue reading “Wild Turkey Nest”

Ammonia is on the Periodic Table?

You gotta love Glenn Beck. This guy knows how to bring the crazy. On last night’s show he had a segment on hydrogen-powered cars. You can find a transcript here, about 2/3rds in (you’ll probably want to avoid the first section featuring Ben Stein unless you have vomit buckets handy). So Glenn checks out the car and we come to…

BECK: Yeah, it’s a great car. However, I saw the filling station, and there is giant power grid, you know, sitting there. You’re using all this electricity. How are you going to — how are you not just using electricity, and how are you not going to have environmentalists saying, oh, the spotted clam! You’re using all of the water!

Right. Would anyone short of a complete idiot complain that hydrogen production would cause a water shortage? Of course not. Especially since after you burn it, you get (wait for it) water. But in Beckworld, this sort of thing is not only possible, it’s the way things are. It gets better:

STANEK: You know, there’s a number of things we’re doing. We’re certainly looking into green hydrogen. It could come from biomass sources, the hydrogen. There’s a lot of good starts with natural gas. As you know, natural gas is a lot cleaner, much less particulates than some sources in order to get hydrogen.
You can get hydrogen from a number of sources, even different types of ammonia processes, which are byproducts from production in various facilities, even steel mills.
BECK: But you have — I mean, for instance, ammonia. The guy who started Greenpeace left because Greenpeace said we should banish ammonia, drive to have it banned. It’s on the periodic table! (sic)

OK, let’s ignore whether or not “green” hydrogen production is currently viable and the whole bit about the Greenpeace founder as that could go for quite a bit. Those are too deep for Beckworld. Keeping it simple, we see that in Beckworld, apparently they have a different Periodic Table, one in which ammonia (NH3) is listed. I can only assume that the Beckworld Periodic Table also includes methane, carbon dioxide, coffee grounds, and those little crusty bits that sometimes form in the corner of your eye overnight.
So Beck’s not a chemist. Fine, I’ll give you that. But even if ammonia was on the Periodic Table, what’s the point of his comment? More raving at “crazy environmentalists”? The one’s who will complain that we’ll run out of water if we make hydrogen?
I can only imagine that Mr. Beck is also frequented by visions of giant invisible bats attacking him at night. After all, this is the man who stated to Ben Stein “You are like the smartest guy I know”.

Endless Forms Most Beautiful or It Bears Repeating

Old folks tend to repeat themselves, so bear with me if this is redundant. A cursory search of Science Blogs turned up a comment in response to Razib’s post in Gene Expression that calls attention to the video of Sean B. Carroll’s 2005 HHMI Holiday Lecture on Charles Darwin and the development of the theory of evolution. Carroll is an excellent speaker. He aims the topic toward high school students in this accessible and enjoyable seminar. The video (below the fold) is ~ 1 hour in duration, but well worth the time.

Continue reading “Endless Forms Most Beautiful or It Bears Repeating”

My Friend Flugel: An Ode to an American Kestrel

A conversation with a fellow raptor fan and Kevin’s recent entry pertaining to the injured bald eagle congealed and triggered a few of my geriatric neurons, prompting the following nostalgic reverie about a former pet: an American kestrel.

Continue reading “My Friend Flugel: An Ode to an American Kestrel”