Tag Archives: environment

Friday Linkage 7/19/2019

July has really come out swinging with hot weather.  It came in hot and dry and now we get hot and humid.  In reality, I do not know which one I prefer or, rather, hate less.

There is something pernicious about hot and dry weather in a place accustomed to a certain level of moisture.  Here in eastern Iowa plants began to go dormant and things get all crinkly as it dries out.  This is not western Colorado where the plants are adapted to this kind of weather.  It was somewhat of a relief when some drenching rains happened over the past few days and the green returned.

On to the links…

Are We Having Too Much Fun?—I remember a discussion I had with an Iranian ex-patriate who was studying at the University of Minnesota when I was an undergraduate at the Minneapolis campus.  He said that his biggest problem with American society was that we trivialized everything until, at seemingly random intervals, something began to matter.  It did not make sense to him.  It does not make sense to me when put that way.

The Life-Changing Magic of Making Do—Barring some major external event—depression, war, etc.—I doubt that we will ever embrace a relationship with our stuff that is fundamentally different versus today’s paradigm.  However, it is something to strive for on an individual level and hope for the best.

America’s Addiction to Absurdly Fast Shipping has a Hidden Cost—Our addiction to stuff is just a problem.  Why do we feel the need to buy so much stuff?  When did shopping become an activity in and of itself?

Workers with Short or ‘Active’ Commutes are Happier Campers—From the land of “obvious conclusions from studies that did not need to be conducted” comes this gem.  Spend a week in a long commute and you will understand why shorter commutes make for happier people.

US Energy-Related CO2 Emissions Expected to Fall this Year, Almost Solely Due to a Drop in Coal Use—So, how do we drive coal to zero?  More solar.  More wind.  More energy efficiency.  It is not a complicated blueprint.

Fiscal Collapse of Coal Towns Increasingly Likely, New Research Shows—States like Wyoming, which is reliant on coal dollars, are going to have to deal with the reckoning of coal’s collapse sooner rather than later.  These declines usually happen in a stair step, as opposed to linear pattern, as major suppliers are driven out of business and no one steps in to resume operation.

The Game-Changing Spark Iowa’s Solar Industry Needs Could be in Louisa County—We have a lot of wind power built out in Iowa and more is on the way.  Solar could be the next big buildout that pushes Iowa to a nearly carbon free electricity grid.

Minnesota Utilities Weigh Energy Storage as Substitute for Peaker Plants—We are now reaching a point when renewable energy storage, through a variety of mechanisms, is considered a viable alternative to conventional natural gas “peaker” plants.

Fossil Fuels Increasingly Offer a Poor Return on Energy Investment—The economics are turning against fossil fuels.

Former Rick Perry Staffer Raises Six-Figures for Trump’s Reelection Campaign—Donald Trump’s presidency is the best thing that money can buy for the energy industry.

Government Watchdog Fears EPA’s New Climate Scientists Are Not Vetted And Have Conflicts of Interest—I will save everyone the effort: anyone who goes to work in the Trump administration is likely to have not been vetted, probably lacks credible experience, and is riven with conflicts of interest.

Scotland Generated Enough Wind Energy to Power its Homes Twice—There was a time when pundits said that renewable energy could never power more than 5% of the grid.  Then it became 10% and has been revised upward ever since.  Now places like Scotland are generating more power from renewables than needed.

Can Mass Timber Reform Construction’s Carbon Footprint?—Combined with a program of extensive reforestation I believe that mass timber can be the construction method of the future carbon neutral world.

This Colorado Ranch-Made-Lab is Turning Beetle-Kill Trees into Lumber in the Name of Forest Health—Trinchera Blanca Ranch is a living, breathing example of how regenerative ecology can work.

Jump Aboard the eDumper, the World’s Largest Electric Vehicle—Most of us think of Tesla Model 3s or Nissan Leafs when we think of EVs, but maybe we should think of something like the eDumper?

The Humble Pea is America’s Favorite New Crop—One of the upsides to products like the Impossible Burger is that there is a growing demand in the marketplace for peas, which can supplant commodity crops like corn and soybeans.

Clothing You Don’t Have to Wash, Explained—Is this really a good idea?

San Francisco: Wealthy Opponents of New Shelter Claim Homeless are Bad for Environment—We have really reached peak California with this NIMBYism.  At what point do we just call out California for the hypocrisy that permeates everything?

Friday Linkage 7/12/2019

July really walloped us with heat and humidity this week in eastern Iowa.  After a wet and cool May and June, this month came in hot, humid, breezy, and dry.  It is just strange to be talking about high humidity and the soil drying out at the same time.  Yet, here we are.

On to the links…

The Most Important Thing You Can do Right Now to Fight Climate Change, According to Science—The best thing we can do is to keep hammering away at building consensus.

The Biggest Lie in Trump’s Environmental Speech Today—The fact that Ol’ Donnie Two Scoops felt the need to walk up to the podium and deliver a speech about his “environmental leadership” is, perhaps, the most appalling example of the man’s deranged ego run amok.

Tree Planting ‘Has Mind-Blowing Potential’ to Tackle Climate Crisis—Regardless of the degree to which this would be effective in combating climate change the question remains: What is the downside?  We have more forests?

Toilet Paper is Getting Less Sustainable, Researchers Warn—If your toilet paper is not recycled or tree free you are wiping your ass with carbon.  Until you clean up your triple ply, soft as angel wings toilet paper habit you are just destroying forests.

Beverage Companies Embrace Recycling, Until It Costs Them—I live in a state with a longstanding bottle deposit law and every couple of years the beverage industry lines up to try for repeal.  That is how you know it must be working to some degree.  Anything that can unite companies that normally fight like cats and dogs must be some kind of good.

New Wyoming Coal Company Abandons Mines and Miners—Coal companies have always treated workers like crap.  It is now just getting more mainstream coverage.

First Major U.S. Insurance Company Moves Away from Coal—Boring but important notice: If you cannot get insurance a lot of projects cannot get financing.  Financing is the lifeblood of fossil fuel projects.

This Is Exactly Why Clean Coal Is A Joke—There can never be “clean coal.”  Just like there cannot be “safe crystal meth” or “healthy White Castle.”

A President, A Parasite And A National Energy Policy Gone Awry—It is amazing that people want clean air and clean water.  Oh wait, that is just basic knowledge about humans desires.

Cheap Clean Energy Makes New Natural Gas A Risky Bet Utility Regulators Should Avoid—This is an editorial written in Forbes, bot Mother Jones.

It’s Time to Expand the Electric Vehicle Tax Credit—Again, Forbes.  It is like these ideas are hitting the mainstream.

Why Blue Jeans are Going Green—It may seem like we live in a business casual and athleisure wear world, but blue jeans are still a core component of our fashion lives.  These pants also happen to be an ecological nightmare.

Herbicide Is What’s for Dinner—Commodity agricultural practices have led us down this path and it is not sustainable.

One-Fifth of Americans are Responsible for Half the Country’s Food-Based Emissions—It’s almost like the 80/20 rule for emissions.  It just goes to show that relatively small changes for a slice of the population can make a big difference in emissions.  Too bad these are also the same people who gobble up “MAGA” hats and loudly proclaim Trump the be the biblical Cryrus.

8 Charts on How Americans Use Air Conditioning—The air conditioning impacts are too damn high!  The fact that almost twenty percent of people set their thermostats below 70 degrees is mind blowing to me.

Friday Linkage 6/15/2018

Like many people I will miss Anthony Bourdain’s perspective on the world.  Although he began his career as just a “food” writer he evolved into something much more without losing the common lens we share that is food.

However, at the end I just want everyone to take a moment and read the 1999 article that started it all.  Don’t order the fish on Mondays.

On to the links…

EPA Proposes Changes to How It Measures Costs and Benefits of Regulation—Let me give you an idea of how this is going to work in practice.  Pollution, despite being proven to cost lives, is not going to be regulated because it might cost a big business money and that would mean that Scott Pruitt would have less money for fancy lotion.

This Freaking Guy, Part Infinity—Speaking of lotion…

EPA Chief Scott Pruitt Tapped Aide, Donors to Help Wife Land Job at Conservative Group—I am guessing that they Chick-fil-A franchise fell through.  Oh well, just use your position and influence to get your wife a cushy job on a think tank or PAC.

More and More Republicans are Turning on Scandal-Plagued Scott Pruitt—I do not care how weary no talent ass clowns like James Inhofe get because there is no action to get rid of the most ethically challenged cabinet secretary in modern history.

Why Trump Would Really, Really Rather not Fire Scott Pruitt—In Donald Trump’s mind Scott Pruitt is a “winner” and you do not fire winners unless they somehow manage to outshine the head cheese puff in the Oval Office.

Scott Pruitt Ate at the White House Mess So Often They Asked Him to Stop—The man is nothing more than a dime store grifter. He is the type of person who steals other people’s food from the refrigerator at work because he is too cheap to buy his own lunch.

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump Made at Least $82 Million in Outside Income Last Year While Serving in the White House—No one in this administration is serving the public in the traditional sense.  These people are using the trappings of public office to line their pockets.  Everything else is just secondary to looting America before America wises up.

DNC Quietly Adopts Ban On Fossil Fuel Company Donations—Everything is about messaging and perception.  Nonetheless, the messaging here is clear going forward.  Fossil fuels are the past and clean energy is the future.  If you want to be part of the future do not vote for anyone resembling a Republican.

FERC Commissioners Agree: No Grid Emergency Exists to Justify Coal, Nuclear Bailout—Trump’s plan to line coal barons’ pockets with our money is running into the reality that no one actually likes the plan.  Oh, and the emergency does not exist for them to use national security as an excuse.

Arizona Water Utility Chooses Solar Over Coal—This might be the final nail in the coffin for the notorious Navajo Generating Station, which is closer to retirement now than ever before.  The other issue here is that a water utility chose solar over coal, which is like your conservative Uncle Carl coming to Thanksgiving Dinner in a Nissan Leaf.

US Solar Tariffs Cost Billions In Cancelled Projects, But 2018 To Remain Flat In “Actually Good News”—The had cheese puff may be trying to strangle solar with tariffs, but the economics are strong with this one.

Uneconomic Coal Could Be Squeezed Out Of European Union Power Markets By 2030—Obviously a lot has to happen for this to actually occur and a little less than 12 years is a long time. However, check out Western Europe:

https___blogs-images_forbes_com_energyinnovation_files_2018_06_EU-coal-phase-out-dates

The big blue blob of Germany in the middle makes me concerned.

It’s so Cheap to Drive Electric Even Trump’s Administration Can’t Ignore It—Maybe Uncle Carl will be coming to Thanksgiving in a Nissan Leaf.

Scotland Hits Annual GHG Emissions Target Third Year Running—It is not all bad news out there.

How America’s Hunting Culture Shaped Masculinity, Environmentalism, and the NRA—America used to have a hunting culture.  It does not have a hunting culture that is broadly based anymore.

Are These ‘Biodegradable’ Water Balloons Really Biodegradable?—These bunch of balloons are the bane of my existence in the summer.  I think that my yard is basically mulched in multi-color rubber.

What Can we Do?—Despite how bad things might seem when you turn on the news, just take a breath, and realize that there is a lot that we can do as individuals and small communities to improve the world.  We have the tools.

Friday Linkage 2/10/2017

The abnormal has become the normal.  The surrogates of the president lie—massacres in Bowling Green, terrorist attacks in Atlanta, who knows that else—with a zeal that makes me wonder if it is overtly encouraged by the current president.  Alternative facts—known as lies to anyone with the sense of a first grader—have become the new currency of cable news.  Have we actually entered the Twilight Zone?

Wake me up in a few years.

On to the links…

U.S. Wind, Solar Power Tout Rural Jobs as Trump Pushes Coal—Trump has a narrative in his simple mind that coal is power and solar is for hippies.  Too bad the reality on the ground—like so many things—does not actually match this narrative.  Maybe it is an alternative fact?

Americans are Now Twice as Likely to Work in Solar as in Coal—If you were going to ask for a group’s support which would you pick: the group with more jobs that is growing or the group with fewer jobs that is declining?  Which one do you think the sitting president chose?

6 Reasons the Clean Energy Revolution Doesn’t need Trump’s Blessing—Trump may think that his perch atop his imperial presidency makes him capable of doing whatever he wants and making it happen via proclamation, but the reality on the ground is very different.

Reasons to be Cheerful: A Full Switch to Low-Carbon Energy is in Sight—I like the positive spin on this.

Cheaper Renewables to Halt Coal and Oil Demand Growth from 2020—This is what the death spiral looks like.  As the technology doing the replacing gets cheaper and easier to deploy there is no way that the displaced technology can compete on either cost or performance, so it’s displacement becomes self-fulfilling.  Once the coal mines shutter who is going to invest in coal?

Electric Vehicles Will Be A Major Oil Price Driver In The Future—The question is how much a disruption in oil demand will be needed to make a major difference in price.  Recently, we have seen swing production of less than 10% cause major price disruptions.

We’re Probably Underestimating How Quickly Electric Vehicles will Disrupt the Oil Market—Disruption can happen fast.  I cannot wait to see what the EV market looks like when both Chevrolet and Tesla are selling EVs at volume for an attainable price.

Californians are Paying Billions for Power they Don’t Need—This story kind of blew my mind.

Rachel Carson, ‘Mass Murderer’? A Right-Wing Myth about ‘Silent Spring’ is Poised for a Revival—With people like Scott Pruitt installed at the EPA and right wing whack jobs in Congress I am expecting this old trope to get a lot of play on the cable news cycle.

L.A.’s Mayor Wants to Lower the City’s Temperature, and these Scientists are Figuring out How to do it—The L.A. Times came strong with some stories this week that I think are of relevance to our understanding of the world.

Invading Pythons and the Weird, Uncertain Future of the Florida Everglades—Florida is a petri dish for everything we have screwed up over the past few decades.  Now it is also a living laboratory for what happens when invasive species change the dynamic.  After reading The New Wild [https://www.amazon.com/New-Wild-Invasive-Species-Salvation/dp/0807039551] I am left to wonder if anything can be considered invasive in Florida anymore given how dramatically that landscape has been changed over the last few centuries.

Friday Linkage 12/16/2016

Is Donald Trump just trolling America now with his picks?  The Scott Pruitt choice was bad, but Rick Perry to lead the Department of Energy is just ridiculous.  Rick Perry literally does not know what the Department of Energy does.  Most of the people claiming he will do a good job talk about his coming from an oil and gas state.  Never mind that oil and gas exploitation falls under other federal agencies and the Department of Energy actually spends most of its time and budget on nuclear responsibilities.  Maybe we will get a return of George W. Bush’s interesting pronunciation of nuclear.

On to the links…

Full Levelized Cost of Electricity In the United States by County—This is an amazing interactive map that lets you play with assumptions about cost, tax incentives, etc. to see at what the lowest LCOE of various electricity generation methods would be by county.  I am surprised that nuclear is able to be competitive in any of these scenarios.

If Trump Wants to Dismantle Obama’s EPA Rules, Here are all the Obstacles He’ll Face—Given the makeup of the cabinet and its glaring lack of experience in public service, I cannot wait to see them whine, moan, and bitch that government does not operate like their personal business fiefdoms.  No shit Sherlock, there is a reason that government does not work like a private business…it’s not a private business.

Solar Capacity has Increased 99% since Last Quarter—Maybe the best thing I have heard in a while: “The industry is booming, and President Trump will be hard-pressed to stop it.”

White House Releases Strategy for Deep Decarbonization by 2050—Save this document because we are about to spend four years without such vision.  We are far more likely to see reports about how we can make America great again by being big league and classy and yuge.

The End of the Commonwealth—The gilded age has returned and the crony capitalists have swept into power.  Populism was co-opted to allow for a takeover by wealthy elites.  The “blue collar billionaire” who criticized his opponent for giving speeches to Goldman Sachs has tapped former employees of the bank for key positions and even nominated the CEO of the most reviled oil company to be Secretary of State.  Our government is at the service of a very few very rich people.

Without These Ads, There Wouldn’t be Money in Fake News—The dictum “follow the money” has always been true.  Without the ability to garner revenue from clicks, fake news would be a gnat’s ass.

Renewables Produce 56% Of Denmark’s Domestic Electricity—The U.S. is unlikely to be leading a lot in this area for the next few years, so we need to take solace in the world making progress.

Solar Panels have been Benefiting the Climate ‘since 2011’—The carbon debt has been paid.

Your Hobby Is Action, Not Accumulation—I used to be so guilty of this when it came to books.  I read a lot, but I still acquired books like crazy.  It became more about a good looking library as opposed to actually reading and accumulating knowledge.  At what point do the things we own begin to own us?

I Love Meat. But these New “Bleeding” Veggie Burgers Convinced Me to Give it up for Good.—These burgers are only available in limited markets right now, but I cannot wait to try them once availability increases to more markets.  Now, if they could tackle the whole veggie bacon thing we would be cooking so to speak.

Homeopathic “Drugs” Will Have to Carry Disclaimers That They Are Bunk—Finally.  Homeopathic drugs are just ridiculous.  It’s like the snake oil salesmen of yesteryear were allowed to continue peddling patent medications without any repurcussions.

First Industrial Hemp Seeds Certified by Colorado Department of Agriculture—The “Green Rush” hype in Colorado has focused on the recreational smoking aspect of marijuana legalization, but there has been a steady increase in the interest of farmers and industry to exploit industrial—e.g. non-psychoactive—hemp as an alternative crop.

Degrowth Is Punk as F*ck—Maybe this is the answer.

Friday Linkage 12/9/2016

It seems like the announced cabinet for President-Elect Trump, which still makes me vomit a little in my mouth every time I say it, gets worse every day.  Now we have Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency.  This is a guy who has made a career out of suing the EPA.  Is it any wonder that government fails to work when we elect people who do not want to make it work?

On to the links…

Why the International Energy Agency has Grown Bullish, but Perhaps not Bullish Enough, on Renewables—In Trump land I do not know if we can be bearish enough about anything environmentally friendly.  I fear that the next four years will be nothing but walking backwards into climate change oblivion.

Trump Advisors Aim to Privatize Oil-Rich American Indian Reservations—I am sure that this will go really well.  Nothing like allowing Trump’s fossil fuel besties to grab resources from native communities.

Four Reasons 30% Wind and Solar is Technically No Big Deal—The important part of this story is that there are places that are already operating at over 30% renewables.  We have made a lot of progress and need to fight to make it stick.

Solar Panels Repay their Energy ‘Debt’—One of the negatives that climate change deniers and fossil fuel lovers like to spew is that solar panels can never produce more energy than was used in the manufacture of the panels.  Wrong.

U.S. Brewery Count Topples 5,000-mark per Brewers Association 2016 Year in Review—5,000 breweries is amazing and scary.  Is this a bubble?

My DIY IKEA Backpack—In the forthcoming Trumpocalypse I can see lots of people having to make survival gear from whatever they can find around.  These blue IKEA bags may be the bees knees.

China’s Environment is Screwed and so is its Economy

China’s economy may be a growth miracle, but the externalities associated with that growth are certainly coming home to roost.

The infamous smog, that wonderful concoction of airborne pollutants and atmospheric conditions, made well-known during the run-up to the Olympics in 2008 has not gotten better. It’s gotten worse.

Recently, the U.S. embassy in Beijing—which has become a trusted source on the quality of the air in China—reported that its air quality index measuring so-called PM2.5 particles hit 545. A number greater than 300 is considered immediately hazardous to one’s health. The visibility in the city is expected to be reduced to less than 500 meters.

What does that look like? Here you go:

B7Xq5FSCEAAEWit

Granted, the smog gets worse in the winter as atmospheric conditions and increased heating burden mix to create this lovely toxic stew.

However, the long term trend is that China’s air is so messed up that it will inhibit long term economic security. Why? People will not want to live there.

Businesses will not be able to locate themselves in China because no one will want to work there or will demand what amounts to hazard pay in order to relocate. Don’t believe it? Coca-Cola is offering its employees a so-called “environmental hardship allowance” for expatriate employees.

Panasonic is doing the same thing.

For Republicans or anyone who believes that air quality is a luxury remember that people like to breathe clean air. The lack of clean air will impact the economic viability of companies and countries. It looks like China is going to be the laboratory for this particular experiment in free market thinking. Here is to hoping the invisible hand of the market slaps the libertarians in the house.

You Must Read—Junkyard Planet: Travels in the Billion-Dollar Trash Trade

Hard as I try to imagine the cars that this rubble once was, I can’t. It’s like standing in a supermarket meat section, staring at a package of hamburger and trying to imagine cows. [Page 229]

We, as consumers in Western countries, do not really recycle. We harvest. When we dutifully put our recyclables in one bin or seven, depending on the country’s recycling norms, we are just harvesting the raw material for the people who really recycle our old bottles, cans, Christmas lights, and so on. For most of us that bin of nearly-trash is out of sight and out of mind while we have assuaged our green guilt for another day.

9781608197910The words at the top are Adam Minter’s, who brings childhood memories of being the son of a scrapyard owner and a unique perspective to Junkyard Planet: Travels in the Billion-Dollar Trash Trade, so it is surprising that sometimes he cannot see the trees for the forest when it comes to scrap. It speaks to the transformation that our end products go through once they leave our possession and become “trash.” I, like the author, am hesitant to call anything trash after reading this book because somewhere, usually in a developing economy hungry for jobs and cheap raw materials, has found a way to extract something of value for either reuse or recycling from our refuse.

Adam Minter’s father and grandmother ran a scrapyard in the Twin Cities, which sparked a lifelong interest in the colorful world of scrap. The story, like so many nowadays, really comes to fruition in China where the author details the workshops and companies that hoover material in the United States and other countries to fuel China’s economic growth. Without the recycling of scrap from the developed Western countries it is quite possible that China would not be enjoying the amazing economic growth of recent history.

It’s stunning the value that can be gleaned from surprising places. There are workshops in China that specialize in removing the copper wire from string lights. You know, those little twinkly lights that hipsters love to decorate patios with, have some copper but it’s wrapped in a lot of nearly worthless insulation. I say nearly worthless because someone figured out that slipper makers could use the plastic for the soles of inexpensive shoes.

The story about the recycling of cars surprised me the most. I always assumed that cars were recycled, but there was a period when rising wages post-World War II combined with a boom in the sales of cars created a situation where more cars were being junked than could be economically broken down into recyclable parts. Millions of cars polluted the landscape until someone came up with an effective way to shred the cars into little flakes of metal. It was only recently that we finally caught up to the backlog of cars that were abandoned and that was perhaps a function of the economic crisis that slowed the retirement of older automobiles. Also interesting was the fact that the average junked car has $1.65 in loose change. How come I can never find that money when I am looking for meter fare?

The thing that nagged at me the entire book was the thought of how much stuff was buried in landfills across the United States. Before it was economical to shred cars or mechanically separate mixed metals or strip metals from electronics that trash was probably buried. It’s just sitting somewhere, interred until we could figure out a way to economically mine and process the material. Are we sitting on billions of dollars of buried waste?

Junkyard Planet is a trip into a world most of us will never see or consider because we have no access or concept of how the scrap economy functions. Heck, most of us could not tell you where the closest junkyard actually is located unless we repair cars or have a predilection for odd Instructables that require things like washing machine motors.

You Must Read–Merchants of Doubt…

We take it for granted that great individuals–Gandhi, Kennedy, Martin Luther King–can have great positive impacts on the world.  But we are loath to believe the same thing about negative impacts–unless the individuals are obvious monsters like Hitler or Stalin.  But small numbers of people can have large, negative impacts, especially if they are organized, determined, and have access to power.  [Page 213]

Do you think the science about global warming and climate change is settled? If you are reading a blog entitled My Green Misadventure I am guessing the answer is apparent and you also wonder why people like James Inhofe are allowed to speak about science. Ever.

The science is settled. Human activities are contributing to changes in the planet’s climate. Scientists may exist who debate that truism but they are in the minority. A minority that is something akin to 99 scientists agreeing that human derived climate change is real versus 1 scientist who does not. Okay, that is not quite right, because it is more like 999 scientists who agree and 1 who is being a pain in the ass.

9781608193943The question remains as to why the public does not possess this same certainty. I have read no better account as to the way in which the public’s perception of scientific has been perverted by a cadre of crooked scientists than Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway’s Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming. Why this book sat so long on my shelf is a mystery to me because it was one of the single most powerful and relevant books that I have read in a while.

This book chronicles the small group of former scientists—former because their paid dishonesty on the behalf of industry disallows them from being considered scientists forever—headlined by the Freds, Fred Seitz and Fred Singer, sowed doubt and distrust of good science in the name of manna or ideological jihadism. It did not matter if the issue was smoking, secondhand smoke, acid rain, or global warming because there was a network of institutes, corporations, and politicians willing to give them safe harbor in order to promote an erroneous agenda.

I will leave the nitty gritty details to the authors because they do an excellent job of detailing the who, what, why, and when of the issue. Most amazing to me is that these so-called lovers of liberty engaged in tactics that would have been equally at home in the most totalitarian of states:

There is a deep irony here.  One of the great heroes of the anti-Communist political right wing–indeed one of the clearest and most reasoned voices against the risks of oppressive government, in general–was George Orwell, whose famous 1984 portrayed a government that manufactured fake histories to support its political program.  Orwell coined the term “memory hole” to denote a system that destroyed inconvenient facts, and “Newspeak” for a language designed to constrain thought within politically acceptable bounds.

All of us who were children in the Cold War learned in school how the Soviet Union routinely engaged in historical cleansing, erasing real events and real people from their official histories and even official photographs.  The right-wing defenders of American liberty have now done the same.  [Page 236]

Simply sickening.

Please pick this book up and read it until the end. As the effects of human derived climate change hit home every day—drought, flood, wildfires, etc.—it is ever more important that more people understand the forces at work preventing real solutions from being implemented. It is not that the science is unsettled, but rather that we have allowed ourselves to be confused:

Doubt mongering also works because we think science is about facts–cold, hard, definite facts.  If someone tells us that things are uncertain, we think that means that the science is muddled.  This is a mistake.  There are always uncertainties in any live science, because science is a process of discovery.  [Page 34]

How Do the People at the Heritage Foundation Keep a Straight Face?

A post was made recently on the Heritage Foundation’s blog The Foundry entitled “6 Environmental Truths the Left Conveniently Ignores.”

I was keyed up. What are these truths and why would the so-called “left” ignore them if they were truths?

First, “Human freedom and prosperity lead to environmental success.” What does that even mean? Human freedom…which ones and measured how? Remember, the intellectual love child of Jim DeMint…er, the Heritage Foundation is anti-choice when it comes to things that they disagree with. This is all about human freedom as long as you agree with the position. Usually missionary and definitely not with another man.

Second, “We’re not running out of resources.” I do not know of a single person in the environmental community who say that we are running out of resources, in general. In terms of specific resources there is no doubt that an increasing population will increase demand to such a point that prices will be sky high. That’s just high school economics. I think it was the first lesson called supply versus demand, but I might have fallen asleep.

The discussion about resources usually revolves around oil and other fossil fuels. It’s also an argument that is more nuanced than “running out” of stuff. With regard to oil the argument is generally about the availability of easily extracted crude. Sure, you can squeeze oil from a rock but that is less economically ideal than sticking a straw in some Middle Eastern sandbox.

Third, “The quality of our air is cleaner and safer.” Yes, it is. Because of regulations stemming from legislation like the Clean Air Act. The Heritage Foundation likes to cite the improvement since 1980—you know, because Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980 and nothing existed before Saint Reagan—but the progress actually started when the Clean Air Act was signed into law in 1970.

What would the air look like without regulation and government oversight? Kind of like China’s:

Smog_in_Beijing_CBDFourth, “Although tough to measure, water quality is also improving.” Yes, because of the Clean Water Act and other initiatives to make the water cleaner. It’s not magic. It’s not the free marker. It’s not right wing ideology. It’s also true that in some communities the water has gotten worse because of oil spills, fracking fluid, drought, and the toxic sludge left over when Mitt Romney washes the product out of his hair.

Fifth, “The government owns more land than it can manage.” The Sagebrush Rebellion is just a nice right-wing trope that will refuse to die. Too bad Cliven Bundy turned out to be a racist clown and his militia buddies were not much more than fame whores masquerading as patriots.

Why would the private sector manage this land any better than the BLM or the states? It would not. The management of this land is not just about the extraction of resources. It is about maintaining a resource for all of the American people. It is our children’s inheritance.

Finally, “Thanks in part to the big successes made in other areas of the environment, the environmental pressure groups have pitched global warming as the next great environmental issue of the day.” No, global warming and the attendant climate change are the next big issue because it literally impacts the future of life on this planet as we know it. Simple.

So, this was just a rehashed list of right wing talking points about stuff they dislike framed in a way to sound like left leaning environmentalists were asking for too much. Yeah, because asking for clean air, clean water, and a future for our shared planet is a lot to ask for. I hope this kind of shrill writing is the death rattle of the extreme right wing as it rides a demographic time bomb into the sunset of relevance.

I did like the caveman cartoon to lead things off.  Nothing says hard hitting political commentary like a half-assed editorial cartoon.