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Showing posts from December, 2010

A Newly-Revitalized EPA

December 27, 2010 – The Environmental Protection Agency will begin regulating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in January, with the implementation of new permitting rules.Large facilities that must obtain permits for other pollutants will be required to include greenhouse gases in their permit, if they increase GHG emissions by at least 75,000 tons per year.(That’s confusing – does that mean that if they are found to emit 75,000 tons to begin with, they need the permit?Or does it mean the EPA will wait a year to see if they’ve added 75,000 tons to their baseline emissions?)The GHG to be regulated are carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride.Readers will recall that methane emissions from sources in nature have been on the increase due to global warming.In addition, the EPA will propose industry-specific GHG standards no later than December 2011.The industries most affected will be fossil-fuel power plants and petroleum refiner…

It's a Changed World

December 23, 2010 – Climate disruption is becoming a reality for more and more people.
It’s become a bit personal, too – my son is in Southern California. He flies out today, thank goodness. Here’s a brief rundown of what the Golden State has been contending with:

· 17 feet of snow has fallen in the Sierra Nevada mountains
· Some locations have received their entire annual rainfall
· 20,000 homes are without power
· Roads and bridges have been washed away
· Mudslides are numerous because of wildfires that decimated vegetation
on hillsides

It remains to be seen whether and how the rest of the United States will be affected by this treacherous storm.

Meanwhile, Western Europeans stand amazed as snow, ice and freezing temperatures bring airports and rail terminals to their knees. Millions of holiday travelers have been affected by the unusually harsh weather, with flight cancellations and long delays at rail terminals being the rule. Thousands have slept on …

Listening to Them What Knows

December 20 – The Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, has issued a very powerful issue of their periodical, Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society A, entitled “Four Degrees and Beyond.” The Royal Society A is a British organization that has been in existence for 350 years. Its website can be accessed at http://royalsociety.org/. I’d like to direct your attention to what I believe are the more important aspects of one of the articles comprising this issue. This may or may not be an educational experience, because I’m rushing in where angels fear to tread, i.e., I’m going to try to make sense of a pretty high-toned scientific paper. Because I don’t have a background in climatological science, I’d like to issue a disclaimer. While I will make every effort to simply ignore the parts I am unable to understand, it is entirely possible that unintentional errors may make an unwanted appearance. I’m not going to attempt to claim that this will be the firs…

It's the Little Things

December 16, 2010 – The EPA was largely rendered a toothless tiger during the Bush II administration. The damages wrought while Dracula guarded the blood bank (a very nice metaphor, with thanks to Jane Fonda) will become known to us over time. In fact, one such damage has recently been found out. As luck would have it, there’s at least one person with a conscience employed at the Environmental “Protection” Agency. That person took it upon him-or herself to leak evidentiary documents to Colorado beekeeper Tom Theobald, implicating the EPA-approved pesticide Clothianidin in the development of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).

Beekeeping isn’t a business most people pay a great deal of attention to, so let’s get brought up-to-date. American beekeepers have noticed for some time now that their hives were sickly. Various causes for the worsening situation have been explored, then rejected. As bee colonies began their wholesale implosion in 2006, the name Colony Collapse Disorder was deemed su…

Do the Right Thing

December 13, 2010 – There are a couple of stories in the news worth talking about.The first, about the climate talks in Cancun, is a bit of a surprise: the talks have resulted in the adoption of two agreements.One is an agreement to further delay deciding the fate of the Kyoto Protocol (that’s not the surprise).The second, to which both China and the United States are parties, involves committing to cut greenhouse gas emissions, establishes a framework for transparency, sets up a global climate fund of $100 billion, and recognizes the importance of limiting deforestation.Some brief discussion, if you please.It goes without saying, God help us if the R’s take back the White House in ’12.The 192 other countries (all attendees, with the exception of Bolivia) who adopted the agreement can and will proceed without us, if need be, but that would be a thoroughly bankrupt outcome for a small victory that was extremely difficult to achieve.The United States should absolutely aspire to show lea…

Paying - the Piper?

December 9, 2010 – There’s a story about how the United States was trooping into an arena along with other countries in order to take part in the Olympics, back in the early years of the 20th century. As the American cadre of athletes approached the platform where the head of the host nation typically sits, the flag bearer dipped our flag as a sign of respect. An athlete from Ireland is said to have run forward and caught the flag in its downward trajectory. “This flag bows to no man,” he admonished. Ever since, the United States has refrained from dipping its flag.

Americans to this day consider themselves and their country exceptional, but are capable of explaining why only with platitudes such as “because this is the land of the free, and the home of the brave.” The rest of the thought, “… and it is for this reason that we represent to the world the hopes and prayers of all of humankind,” is generally regarded as window-dressing, and goes unsaid. We increasingly ignore the responsib…

Power Down

December 6, 2010 – The heat is off and it’s 14 degrees outside.Our furnace broke, so we’re having it replaced with a more efficient furnace for which the feds will help us pay.It will take about six hours to install the new one.Until then – no heat!Powering down will take time.It will happen over time, not with a resounding crash, but in a series of steps, at the conclusion of which I think we’re all hoping for a gentle thud.What’s taking place today, in my home, is one of a million tiny steps in the direction of powering down.Our source of electricity is a nuclear power plant.Nuclear has, in fact, been the source of electricity for most of our homes, whether we’ve lived in Illinois, North Carolina, or here, in Ohio.We may have had nuclear power in Texas, as well – I just don’t recall.According to John Michael Greer, in his book THE LONG DESCENT, some of the uranium being sold today isn’t being mined at all.It’s being stripped out of old Russian nuclear warheads.One wonders how long t…