Home / Politics / Spotlight on green news & views: Climate crisis roosts in Midwest; Flint investigations go slow

Spotlight on green news & views: Climate crisis roosts in Midwest; Flint investigations go slow

CRITTERS AND THE GREAT OUTDOORS

OceanDiver writes—Dawn Chorus: Begging birdy babies at the birdfeeder, focus on Crossbills: “This is seriously the season of birdy babies in my neighborhood. I’m seeing and hearing them out in the fields, on the beach, in the woods and in my yard. One measure of the level of activity is how fast the seed and suet are getting used up. Informally, we were going from half a scoop a day a month ago to 4 scoops a day of black oil sunflower seed now — and that pretty much fills up our mesh No/No 5-pound capacity feeder. Good thing we buy seed in 50# bags! We don’t mind the rate of use of seed right now because soon enough we’ll be back to a scoop a day at most. All this seed going out means the local birds are getting a good start, and from my perspective that helps make up for all the problems we humans cause that threatens their survival, from lack of habitat to insect decline to window strikes to outdoor cats….you get the picture. Re window strikes: we rarely have them because our feeders are only a foot away from the window, with the roof of the greenhouse below. According to Audubon that lessens strikes since birds are already flying slowly, on approach to the feeder and departing it. The death zone for feeder placement is 5-15 feet from a wall or window.”

enhydra lutris writes—The Daily Bucket – May 2019 Yard Report: “This is part of my ongoing project to document the changes in our yard from month to month. […] As of May 28, 2019 looking south from back door.

Angmar writes—The Daily Bucket: PORCUPINES are eating my house…: “(So apparently, porcupines are eating my house). ME: ‘Something is eating the wood door on my cottage the bottom part is being gnawed looks chiseled … and orderly, as opposed to random biting. It’s like a person did it (Who is 2 inches tall) or like flat teeth, lol. Does that sound familiar to you at all? RWM™: felt that it was likely The Undead: ‘Have you ruled out the undead?’ ForesterBob voted werewolves: ‘Or it could be werewolves. Has your cabin ever been in a horror movie?’ Me: ‘Bwhahaaaa!!!’ :}  But-finally… after a bit of back and forthing, it was solved!  doct:
‘Porcupine is a possibility. They eat all kinds of wood. You can try coating the door with cayenne powder or a commercial repellent. Or you can try trapping’.”

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Clematis foliage 

6412093 writes—The Daily Bucket–Globes and Magic Numbers: “One morning, the water lilies began opening to that point when they were smooth round yellow globes. Next to them, the artichokes had matured into scaly green globes. Now I see nothing but globes growing everywhere in the yard. Almost all of the fruit, for instance, lacks corners.”

OceanDiver writes—The Daily Bucket – Iceberg in late May: “May 29, 2019. Salish Sea, PacificNorthwest. These phenology observations are a couple of weeks out of date but are still valuable in the big picture of what and when, so I’m posting a picture gallery of what was blooming and active out at the south-facing bluff near my home on that day. And of course pretty flowers and bugs are always fun to gaze upon. These are all native wildflowers. The names I’ve copy-pasted from the Pacific Northwest Wildflowers website(www.pnwflowers.com). I’ve noticed their taxonomy is not always up to date though. I’ll make corrections as I see them. A good plant list for this National Monument site is here: kwiaht.org/… The blue camas was done for the year and the Chocolate lilies were down to just a few. Death Camas was going more to seed than in flower by now but still quite a few in bloom.” 

CLIMATE CHAOS

ClimateDenierRoundup writes—Kochs Vs Carbon Tax: Koch’s Daily Caller Covers Koch Groups’ Letter Opposing Carbon Tax: “Today the Citizens Climate Lobby is holding a public event on Capitol Hill as part of its lobby day. The event is meant to promote putting a price on carbon and will give attendees a chance to share their climate story, record a message for congressional leaders, and even create some art. Perhaps to preempt that display of grassroots support for a carbon tax, yesterday a group of some 75 conservative groups sent a letter to Congress expressing their opposition. The five-sentence paragraph offered nothing in the way of facts or evidence, instead falsely claiming that ‘a carbon tax increases the cost of everything Americans buy’ while also growing “the power, cost and intrusiveness of the government in our lives.” Unsurprisingly, a number of the groups are on the Koch network payroll (a percentage likely approaching 100%) making it a natural fit for coverage in the Koch’s Daily Caller, as ‘reported’ on there by the Koch’s resident churnalist Michael Bastasch.

philosophyoftruthfulness writes—why we need a climate only debate: “In my opinion the Democrat party is in limbo policy wise, the media is doing their usual thing and our public debate in general is a republican controlled one, where republicans are saying and doing outrageous things and everyone is responding to them; abortion, discrimination against a bunch of groups and women, 2nd amendment worship, society is being destroyed by liberals. This has been going on for decades. Democrat policies get torn to shreds with lies, the media goes along, and we out here cringe when our leaders don’t seem to be able break through all that, I think having a climate-focused debate would be one thing to help break that. First, the Democrat’s need an issue that defines their core beliefs and how we deal with problems to contrast with what and how the Republicans do the same, and what better than climate, our position comes from science, common sense(we know we are capable of great pollution, just ask lake Erie in the 70’s), and common sense telling us there is no greater issue that supersedes all others, unless we want them fixed by going the way of the dinosaurs.”

xaxnar writes—ICYMI: “We All Owe Al Gore An Apology” The Impact of Climate Change Hits Home: “This was the header of an NPR dump into the weekend news void: “We All Owe Al Gore An Apology”: More People See Climate Change in Record Flooding. Angel Portillo doesn’t think about climate change much. It’s not that he doesn’t care. He just has other things to worry about. Climate change seems so far away, so big. Lately though, Portillo says he has been thinking about it more often. Standing on the banks of a swollen and surging Arkansas River, just upriver from a cluster of flooded businesses and homes, it’s easy to see why. ‘Stuff like this,’ he says, nodding at the frothy brown waters, ‘all of the tornadoes that have been happening — it just doesn’t seem like a coincidence, you know?” “

corwin writes—A New Approach to Help with Climate Change: “I ran across this story the other day, and it could represent a new way of dealing with climate change. Basically, the idea is that if we focus on methane extraction, we could buy enough time that it would allow for additional measures to be put into place. ‘Methane removal would buy us considerable time to address the [larger] problem of carbon dioxide emissions,’ says Rob Jackson, a professor of earth system science at Stanford and lead author of the paper. … But while it would likely be necessary to remove hundreds of billions of metric tons of carbon dioxide to return to preindustrial levels, you’d only need to eliminate 3.2 billion tons of methane to get back to earlier levels of that gas. Doing so would reverse one-sixth of the total warming effect of all greenhouses gases in the atmosphere, the study found.” 

AuntieB writes—Climate Crisis Comes Home to Roost in the Midwest: “Driving in Northern Ohio this morning, I couldn’t help but notice how few fields are planted. I stopped here and there to take photos of empty, unplanted land. There were a few farmers out today, spraying or planting before the rain came, but most fields still have puddles in them. The USDA says of Ohio: • As of June 2 only 33 percent of Ohio’s corn acreage and 18 percent of the state’s soybean acreage had been planted. • By this time of year, at least 90 percent of corn should have been planted, and 79 percent of soybeans should have been planted. And that’s based only on the most recent five-year average. Years ago plantings were made much earlier in the spring. • Ohio’s whopping 57 percent deviation from its most recent average for corn is second only to Indiana’s 63 percent deviation. Numerous other states have fallen far off pace, as well, because of soaked fields that haven’t been able to dry out enough to plant. • Ohio was down 61 percent from its most recent five-year average for planting soybeans as of June 2.” 

Mark Sumner writes—2018 saw the biggest increase in global CO2 emissions in seven years: “The climate crisis may finally be making an impact in U.S. politics, and around the world, protests and speeches are bringing more and more attention to the issue. But attention and action are very different things. For the third year in a row, global CO2emissions have increased. In fact, emissions soared in 2018, increasing at a rate not seen for at least seven years. This information comes from a statistical review published by BP. Not only are the top-line numbers disappointing, but what’s behind them is even more concerning. The fastest rate of emissions growth came from Asia, and the rate of emissions in that region increased, even though the economy in the area was slow. Emissions growth outpaced economic growth. Part of that is because of the nature of the energy that was added. In the United States, the cost of renewables and natural gas have both undercut the economic viability of coal. But the same can’t be said for India, China, and neighboring countries. That made coal one of the fastest-growing fuel sources for 2018. Renewables grew rapidly as well. They’re just not growing rapidly enough to meet the increased demand.” 

Meteor Blades writes—E-mails show climate science-denying Trump adviser pressured NASA chief to alter website entries: “In case you missed previous coverage, there’s a particularly loathsome environmental adviser named William Happer now serving as president of the Trump regime’s National Security Council. In an interview a decade ago, Happer, a Princeton physicist, trashed the work of climate scientists with this gemThis is George Orwell. This is the ‘Germans are the master race. The Jews are the scum of the earth. It’s that kind of propaganda’ […] ‘Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. Every time you exhale, you exhale air that has 4 percent carbon dioxide. To say that that’s a pollutant just boggles my mind. What used to be science has turned into a cult”.’ Happer still believes this grotesque gibberish. He’s still trashing climate scientists. And according to the Associated Press, emails uncovered via an FOIA request by the Environmental Defense Fund show that he wasn’t happy with one-time science-denier Jim Bridenstine’s change of mind after he took over as NASA administrator. Happer pressured him to change or eliminate climate-change references on NASA websites and other materials, something the space agency has not done. The emails show that Happer discussed the matter with Hal Doiron and Thomas Wysmuller, both advisers at one of the nation’s most aggressive attackers of climate science and scientists, the Heartland Institute, which has received funding from Koch Industries and other fossil fuel sources.”

Hunter writes—Corporations are increasingly worried about climate change—and beginning to take action: “The global business community is rapidly coming to grips with the dire threat a changing climate poses to their own bottom lines. A CDP report showed that 215 of the world’s largest corporations were estimating a total of $1 trillion in new potential climate-related expenses, ranging from floods that disrupt factory supply lines to increasingly severe regional droughts that could result in widespread loan defaults. The next obvious question: What are any of the U.S.-based companies planning to do about that? A Deloitte survey suggests that a slight majority of those companies are both aware of recent dire climate reports and have taken at least some responsive action, such as purchasing more solar and wind power as prices for that power becomes equal to or cheaper than fossil fuel-produced versions. Whether you consider this good news or evidence of an alarmingly sluggish pace is entirely up to you.”

SninkyPoo writes—Save the Climate – Have a Nosh! (Salade Niçoise Edition): “You know me – always banging on about eating less meat. Let me quote The Guardian. In October, scientists warned that huge reductions in meat eating are required if the world is to stave off dangerous climate change, with beef consumption in western countries needing to drop by 90%, replaced by five times more beans and pulses. If enough Americans stopped eating meat, we’d make a difference not just to the animal protein industries (who wouldn’t like us), but to America’s carbon emissions AND to the political landscape. We would be quite literally “putting our money where our mouths are” and showing politicians that we are SERIOUS about the climate crisis.

Angmar writes—“Activists deliver petition with 200,000 signatures calling for climate debate to DNC”: “A collection of activist groups delivered a petition with more than 200,000 signatures to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters Wednesday calling for a presidential debate focused on climate change. Signatures were collected for the petition by an array of progressive groups, including Greenpeace, Sunrise Movement, Women’s March National, Daily Kos, and CREDO Action. […] Last week, the DNC informed Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D), who has built his 2020 campaign around environmental issues, that it would not hold a debate focused on climate.That decision was met with significant backlash, including from 16 of the 24 contenders for the Democratic nomination who have endorsed a climate debate.”

Angmar writes—The only single issue that EVERY Human being on Earth has in common- is Climate Emergency: “Climate crisis is upon us. No region will be spared. It is only getting worse since our oil-drunk administration is elevating love of fossil fuels to love of country. What can one person do? What can you do? David Wallace-Wells writes that the time is past when becoming a vegan composter would make a meaningful difference. He writes that only large political policy changes can now save us. This election decides the fate of humanity. Under the despicable Republicans, our nation has abdicated America’s role as the Leader of the Free World. We have stepped back from our responsibility to rally humanity to do the Right Thing. Now we have a brutish thug who glories in doing the Wrong Thing.”

Angmar writes—“To stop global catastrophe, we must believe in Humans again” Bill McKibben: “Because I am concerned about inequality and about the environment, I am usually classed as a progressive, a liberal. But it seems to me that what I care most about is preserving a world that bears some resemblance to the past: a world with some ice at the top and bottom and the odd coral reef in between; a world where people are connected to the past and future (and to one another) instead of turned into obsolete software. And those seem to me profoundly conservative positions. Meanwhile, oil companies and tech barons strike me as deeply radical, willing to alter the chemical composition of the atmosphere, eager to confer immortality. There is a native conservatism in human beings that resists such efforts, a visceral sense of what’s right or dangerous, rash or proper. You needn’t understand every nuance of germline engineering or the carbon cycle to understand why monkeying around on this scale might be a bad idea.”

Angmar writes—“No, climate action can’t be separated from Social Justice”-Julian Brave NoiseCat:Julian Brave NoiseCat is director of Green New Deal Strategy for Data for Progress, a thinktank, and narrative change director for the Natural History Museum, an artist and activist collective: If you set aside Republicans’ obsession with cow farts, perhaps the most prevalent criticism of the Green New Deal is its emphasis on social justice. Critics contend that the far-reaching climate agenda is far too concerned with extraneous issues such as jobs, infrastructure, housing, healthcare and civil and indigenous rights. Stick to greenhouse gases, they say; reforming the energy system is utopian enough. This criticism crosses the aisle among elites. In February, the New York Times editorial board wondered whether addressing the climate crisis was ‘merely a cover for a wish-list of progressive policies and a not-so-subtle effort to move the Democratic Party to the left?’ A day later, the Washington Post editorial board opined that serious policymakers should not ‘muddle’ decarbonization with social programs that “divert money and attention from the primary mission’.

Extreme Weather & Natural Phenomena

Pakalolo writes—Monkeys in India kill and tear each other apart in a fight over water during brutal 122F heatwave: “Around 15 primates may have died after clashing over water in 50C temperatures in India, according to reports. The previously unheard of behavior occurred during the current heatwave in central India. The heatwave has caused serious water shortages to rivers and lakes in many parts of India. NDTV reports: Bhopal: The scarcity of water in the season of searing heat has spilled over from the concrete jungles to the forests of Madhya Pradesh. A battle over water is likely one of the reasons behind the death of more than a dozen monkeys, according to forest officials. A boy from a village in Madhya Pradesh’s Dewas along the Punjapura Joshi Baba forest range in Bagli had gone to the forest to graze goats when he saw the dead monkeys. He later informed his fellow villagers, who in turn contacted the officers of the forest department.” 

avatarabbiehoffman writes—Heatwave Evacuations Already Underway: “I don’t usually do the “breaking news” thing, but I didn’t see anyone else had covered this. Western Us Faces Evacuations Amid Scorching Temperatures. www.cbsnews.com/… People evacuated near Six Flags Magic Mountain near Los Angeles, and from the Sand Fire north of San Francisco. We had a good wet season and a nice storm near the end of May, but two weeks later, the state is already burning up. We humans need to stop extracting and burning fossil fuels and feeding protein to animals to get — you guessed it — protein back. Or we could just wait until a billion or more of us are being evacuated from climate catastrophes. Check out this group: www.google.com/… (Extinction Rebellion US).”

SninkyPoo writes—Seattle’s Summers Are All Effed Up, Or, The Dizzying Speed at Which Hell Becomes the New Normal: “Three summers ago, in 2017, a dear friend of mine journeyed to Seattle on the middle leg of a three-city ‘where should I retire?’ tour. I took her on a ferry ride to Bainbridge Island. I wanted to cry. As we chugged away from the dock, the skyline receded into a grimy haze. Within ten minutes the Space Needle was barely visible. A grim shroud enveloped Rainier to the south: it was as if she didn’t exist. My friend tried to be polite about the not-all-that-dazzling scenery, and all I could think of was Mordor. That was the first summer of wildfires on an epic scale. Records were set. Terrifying, horrifying records for heat and aridity – two things for which the Puget Sound has not historically been known. On September 5, ash from the Central Washington fires fell “like snow” on Seattle and as far west as Grays Harbor County, which borders the Pacific Ocean. Again in 2018, the wildfires raged and roared. Governor Inslee declared a state of emergency in July. In July and August the city smelled like a camp fire, and the skies were dull and gray.” 

ENERGY

Green New Deal & 100% Clean Energy

Angmar writes—Green New Deal Picks Up 2 Major Union Endorsements As Labor Support Grows”: “The Green New Deal picked up its second major union endorsement this week, highlighting growing support from labor leaders just as a new poll shows a majority of union workers back the movement. On Thursday, the Service Employees International Union’s executive board voted to approve a resolution backing the GND, declaring itself the first national union to do so. That follows a similar endorsement by the Association of Flight Attendants, which is part of the Communications Workers of America union.”

Fossil Fuels

Hunter writes—As experts again warn of harm to Arctic wildlife, Interior Department again pushes ANWR oil mapping: The Republican Party has a thing about the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Or rather, the oil companies that lobby the Republican Party are bent on drilling there, and by God what the oil companies want the oil companies will get, if Republican lawmakers and pundits and functionaries have anything to say about it. This came to a head yet again with Trump’s insertion into the Oval Office, because of course, and so the government has been tasked with facilitating a geophysical mapping of the refuge’s oil reserves in preparation for divvying it up to the oil companies looking to finally, at long last, liberate the oil for proper consumption and atmospheric dispersal. This is because there is money to be made doing so, so the rest of you peasants, and your children, and your grandchildren can go right to hell for thinking this might not be a good idea. But there is a problem. Even the Trump-era Interior Department has not yet been willing to approve the necessary seismic survey due to the extreme impact of moving heavy machinery around the refuge—including the possibility that the equipment would drive right over hidden polar bear dens, crushing them or driving them out. Crushing polar bear cubs under the tracks of industrial equipment is too on-the-nose for all but the most diehard of oil advocates, and is the rough equivalent of putting a family of live pandas through a threshing machine, from a publicity point of view.

Austin Bailey writes—Coal Continues to Set the Earth On Fire: “”While mature economies in Europe and North America are making the transition to renewables, population growth and improved living standards are driving energy demands in much of the rest of the world. The global power generation picture is “depressingly” unchanged from 20 years ago, he says. Three flat lines show an unwavering breakdown of the global electricity mix: last year coal made up 38%, non-fossil fuels reached 36% and the rest of the world’s power was generated by gas and oil. This is the same as in 1998. […] Wind and solar renewable power is the world’s fastest-growing energy source: it grew by 14.5% last year, led by a surge of investment in China. But the strides do not go far enough, fast enough. “You have to run very fast just to stand still,” Dale says. Is it any wonder that 2050 is being broadcast as the likely point where human civilization begins to collapse.

Dan Bacher writes—New coalition launched to protect San Francisco Bay from tar sands, oil tankers: “SAN FRANCISCO, CA (Traditional Chochenyo and Karkin Ohlone Lands) — In a state where oil and gas drilling have increased in recent years, a  group of local residents today launched the Protect the Bay coalition to educate the Bay Area community about the expansion proposal at Phillips 66’s San Francisco Refinery in Rodeo to bring in more oil tankers and process more heavy crude oil like Canadian tar sands. ‘The proposal would impact local health and the climate by increasing refinery emissions and worsening air quality for nearby communities, while also increasing tanker traffic and the risk of a devastating oil spill in San Francisco Bay,’ according to a press release from the coalition. The San Francisco Bay Delta Estuary is the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas — and the increased risk of an oil spill on the bay threatens many fish populations that migrate through, reside, spawn or rear in the bay, including Chinook salmon, steelhead, halibut, striped bass, rockfish, lingcod, leopard sharks, sixgill sharks, soupfin sharks, bat rays, brown smoothhound sharks, green sturgeon, white sturgeon, Pacific herring, anchovies, jack smelt, over a dozen species of surfperch and many other species.” 

Emissions Controls & Carbon Pricing

Lib Dem FoP writes—UK To Legislate for Net Zero Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 2050: “The UK’s Climate Change Act of 2008 mandated a reduction of 80% in emissions of all greenhouse gases by 2050. Today the outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May announced that the Act will be ammended to make the UK a net zero emitter by mid-century. If passed, this will be the first legislation in the G7 to require zero emissions by that date. Note this includes all greenhouse gases including methane, not just carbon dioxide. This is substantially the recommendation of the all-party Advisory Committee on Climate change last month. One big difference is the proposal to include a reviewal of the target after 5 years. This has been sneaked in so a future government could renage on the target ifinsufficient other countries make substantial progress on mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. The upside is that the group with the most at risk will be involved in helping direct the action needed.

Renewables, Efficiency, Conservation & Energy Storage

Mark Sumner writes—Renewable energy capacity surpasses coal in the United States for the first time: “The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has published its regular update on United States energy infrastructure through the month of April 2019. And in that month something significant happened—for the first time in history, the amount of energy capacity held by renewable sources exceeded that of coal. The difference for April is the very definition of tiny, if anything measured in gigawatts can be called tiny. At that time, natural gas was the big winner, accounting for 531.08 gigawatts of capacity, or 44.44% of the U.S. total. Next up on the overall list is coal, with 257.48 GW and 21.55%. But that’s not the whole story. If you add up the renewable sources—hydro, wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass—the total comes to 21.56% of the U.S. capacity. By the smallest of margins, renewables edged out coal. That may seem like a number so small as to be a statistical fluke. And it might be, except for what ongoing changes to the nation’s electrical grid are showing. Since January, 1,545 MW of new wind power has come on line. So has 1,473 MW of new electricity from solar. Over that period, coal has added nothing. And even that’s not the case, because coal has added less than nothing, as coal plants continue to be retired.”

gmoke writes—Grid-scale Battery: The Tesla System in Australia: “Remember when Elon Musk offered to build a grid-scale battery for Southern Australia in ‘100 days or it’s free’?  He made good on his bet, installing it on time for the cost of $63 million in December of 2017.  According to a report on its first year of operation, the Hornsdale Power Reserve (HPR), owned and operated by Neoen,  the world’s largest lithium-ion battery energy storage system, with a discharge capacity of 100 MW and energy storage capacity of 129 MWh, located near Jamestown, South Australia, sharing the same 275 kV network connection point as the 300 MW Hornsdale wind farm, saved $40 million in its first year. HPR is three times larger than any other lithium ion battery.  It provides high-quality, rapid and precise Regulation of Frequency Control Ancillary Services [FCAS] with Fast Frequency Response [FFR], faster than existing large steam turbines which take minutes to ramp up.”

Krishnamurphy writes—Solar and Wind: A Cheap Fig Leaf? “OK, let’s go shopping for storage. What do lithium-ion batteries cost? Another moving target. Some people think they will keep getting cheaper until they just about pay you to take them off the truck – I consider that magical thinking, but that’s another topic. So here’s a study someone has done to make an optimistic but not wild-eyed estimate of the near future cost of lithium-ion at utility scale: GTM estimates that lithium-ion battery rack prices will decline by 10% over the next five years, reaching $144/kWh compared with an estimate of $207/kWh for 2018. Let’s round that to $150 per kilowatt-hour. (Phenomenally cheap compared to a few years ago, by the way.) Just to put real numbers on it, let’s say we want to build 1 MW of solar panel capacity. At 24 cents per watt, that’s $240,000 for the panels. Batteries for 24 hours, that’s 24 MWh. At $150 per kWh, our battery cost is 24 * 150 * 1000, or $3.6 million. Bottom line:  Out of every $16 spent, you will spend $15 on the batteries, $1 on the panels.

TRANSPORTATION & INFRASTRUCTURE

Jammin writes—Electric Cars Are Too Dangerous:Electric cars are too dangerous! They keep catching on fire, often with tragic consequences. They should be banned and never used again. Tesla alone has accounted for 2 to 3 fires every year for the past five years. If all fires from all electric cars are accounted for, that number could be 10 or higher per year. (Precise figures are not available, as some countries have poor record keeping.) As of 2019, electric cars represent only about 1 in 250 vehicles worldwide, or about 0.4%. Imagine what would happen if ALL vehicles on the road were electric. That could lead to 10 incidents times 250, or 2500 car fires per year. Compare that to the number of fires per year we currently experience with gasoline-burning, combustion-engine vehicles: 170,000. In the United States alone. A decade ago, the average number of car fires in the United States was closer to 280,000 per year.

PlugShare map of electric vehicle charging stations in North America, June 2019

Mokurai writes—Renewable Friday: Charging Stations Everywhere, But Not Yet: “The moldy Denialist lie of the week is that electric cars have no future because charging. We knew better years ago. ‘As more EVs hit our streets, when will people start getting ‘gas anxiety?’ Gas stations will go away along with gas guzzlers. ArsTechnica, 2016: Why the Tesla Model 3 and Chevy Bolt are going to kill the gas station Tesla has its own national charging network. As part of the Community Service provisions of the VW Dieselgate settlement, VW will spend $2 billion promoting EVs. Some will go to awareness of EVs through TV and other advertising. Much more will be invested in expanding the US charging network for cars from all manufacturers, and interlinking charging networks across the country. The PlugShare map at the top of this Diary gives you something of an idea of current charger coverage in North America. It is not true that Dallas TX or LA has no chargers. PlugShare has some algorithm for which chargers it shows where and which it omits in any particular view, depending in part on where the user has recently zoomed in. BTW, there may be about 168,000 gas stations in the US. Or maybe only 115,000. Counts vary considerably.”

OCEANS, WATER, DROUGHT

Dawn R Wolfe writes—Flint water crisis criminal investigations are heavy on drama and (so far) short on results: “When new state Attorney General Dana Nessel announced major changes to the way her office handles the criminal investigations into the Flint, Michigan, water crisis in January, she told reporters that ‘This department has spent millions of dollars on these cases, and our state residents deserve assurance that these cases are handled properly.’ But with the surprise discovery of boxes filled with 20 million documents; a former special prosecutor who was either fired or resigned for health reasons (no one knows for sure); the need for interoffice warrants to obtain materials; and members of the attorney general’s staff submitting a filing in May accusing other staff members of making ‘several incorrect statements,’ it’s easy to wonder if the cases are being handled at all. Meanwhile, the judge in the criminal case against Nick Lyon, the former director of the state’s Department of Health and Human Services, has said he will rule this month whether or not to quash the felony charges against him. Lyon is one of 15 former administration officials under then-Gov. Rick Snyder who were originally charged by former Attorney General Bill Schuette in what people from both parties said was a ‘political stunt’ designed to boost Schuette’s failed 2018 bid for the governor’s office.” 

Walter Einenkel writes—Unauthorized pumping investigation doesn’t stop Nestle from making billions on national forest water: “For decades, Nestlé pumped millions of gallons of water out of the San Bernardino National Forest on an expired permit. The water is for their Arrowhead brand, named after the park’s Lake Arrowhead. As environmental groups organized and demanded answers as to how and why the world’s largest bottled-water company was allowed to profit off of federally owned natural resources for pennies on the $1,000,000 dollars, lawsuits and pressure was put on our government to do something. Anything. During the intense drought that California faced from 2011 to 2017, the Desert Sun began heavy-duty investigative reporting into Nestlé’s expired permits and the possible illegal abuse of what they should be allowed to draw out of the federally owned lands even with a working permit. In December of 2017, a bombshell report put Nestle on notice for pumping an “extra 54 million gallons a year” of water out of the park. Victor Vasquez, the senior engineer who heads water rights enforcement for the California Water Resources Control Board has been tasked in the investigation, and says that he believes his final report and recommendations will come in six months. The Desert Sun reports that according to Vasquez and Nestlé, the bottle giant has stayed within the 152 acre-feet limit for their water. This is after they were warned by Vasquez in 2017 after they were busted using up 356 acre-feet of national forest space. Nestlé argues that they are legally permitted to use 271 acre-feet.”

CANDIDATES, STATE AND DC ECO-RELATED POLITICS​

poopdogcomedy writes—AZ-Sen: Mark Kelly (D) Is Pushing Congress To Get Serious About Tackling Climate Change: “Received this e-mail today from Mark Kelly’s (D. AZ) U.S. Senate campaign: According to a recently released report, climate change could pose a serious threat by 2050. The report paints a bleak future where food production is threatened, billions of people are displaced, and some of the world’s most populous cities are left partially abandoned Unfortunately, we have a Congress that is letting us down. Their failure to act is a price we will all have to pay in the years and generations ahead.

ClimateBrad writes—Here Are The 14 Candidates Calling For A Climate Debate – What’s Tom Perez’s Problem? “Spurred by teen-aged climate activists, a majority of the Democratic candidates for president have called on the Democratic National Committee to hold a debate focused on climate change. This week, DNC chair Tom Perez announced no such debate would happen, tweeting that the DNC “will not be holding entire debates on a single issue area – we want to make sure voters have the ability to hear from candidates on all the issues.”The U.S. Youth Climate Strike, led by a group of teenagers inspired by 16-year-old activist Greta Thunberg, has been bird-dogging candidates since April 2019. With the support of MoveOn, the group launched an online petition to the DNC that now has nearly 55,000 signatures. A broad coalition of environmentalist and progressive groups followed suit with a joint petition that now has over 191,000 signatures. A DailyKos petition has an additional 17,000 signatures and counting. Below is a sourced listing of the 14 Democratic candidates for president who have announced their support for a climate debate and when they did so. Not only is that a majority of the 23 major candidates running for president, the list includes eight of the 13 candidates who have passed the DNC threshold to qualify for their debates (bold below).”

ClimateDenierRoundup writes—Trump Climate Policy Rollbacks Hitting Roadblocks In Court: “For all his bluster and bloviating, President Trump’s actual environmental policy agenda has been pretty paltry. While his administration is doing everything it can to allow the Koch brothers to pollute as much as possible, it turns out that the courts are serving as a relatively reliable roadblock. That’s the core finding of a new report by Dena Adler from Columbia Law’s Sabin Center, which provides a detailed picture of climate litigation in the second year of the Trump administration, from what actions Trump’s taking to how good and decent people are responding. The report categorizes the litigation into five buckets: defending Obama-era policies, enforcing transparency and scientific integrity laws, making climate part of the environmental review process, pushing climate protections through the courts, and then finally the cases being made for deregulating and otherwise reducing how much the government protects Americans from climate change. It also gives a comprehensive lay of the land of ongoing litigation, and concludes with what rulings and outcomes we’ve already seen.

occupystephanie writes—Climate IGNORED in Last FIVE Elections’ Debates: “How much has climate been discussed during the last five election’s debates? The answer is hardly at all. In the face of the refusal of DNC’s Tom Perez not to honor Jay Inslee’s request for one debate out of twelve to be devoted to the life or death problem of climate crisis, we need to look at the necessity for the request. Statistically, climate crisis has been discussed only 2.5% of the last five election debates which includes the 2000 campaign when the last climate candidate, Al Gore, ran for the White House. If you drop that year with a climate candidate, the last four campaigns yielded just 1.5%. Emma Foehringer Merchant of Grist has totaled up the scant minutes in which climate is mentioned out of a total 1,500 minutes of the presidential/vice presidential debates going back to 2000 and it is not much.”

Chris Reeves writes—Tom Perez offers a response to DNC members seeking environmental debate: “What is a debate and what is a forum? In guidance sent out to TV Networks MSNBC and CNN, the DNC informed the networks that a forum would be any event in which one candidate was on stage at a time. A debate would be any event where more than one candidate was present on stage at once. This guidance, which has been given to numerous progressive entities who also looked at creating their own forums, comes with penalties. Networks or entities that offer to broadcast any event with more than one candidate on stage at once. In a notice sent to Gov. Jay Inslee, he was informed that if he participated in any such event with more than one candidate on stage at once, he would also be forbidden from participating in future debates. This is a little bit of word use magic. Candidates are encouraged to participate in forums, that is, forums specifically as defined by the party. One candidate at a time, no more. For many viewers and those who have followed past campaigns, this can be confusing, because in 2015/2016, Republicans held their own debates and forums, and these restrictions were not present.”

Frank Palmer writes—Instead of a climate debate: “There is not going to be a Democratic presidential candidate debate about climate. What would happen if some respected body — the Sierra Club might be wrong, but it’s an example — held a seminar on the climate threat and invited some public persons, including some presidential candidates, to participate? I could see other candidates asking, “Why wasn’t I invited?”  and the sponsoring body holding a second seminiar.”

Angmar writes—Surely the party can devote one twelfth of its debate time to the issue that imperils civilization: “Justin Gillis, former environmental reporter for the Times: Now we know. The Democratic Party establishment in Washington really believes it is going to get away with running another round of presidential primaries in which the climate crisis is basically hidden in the attic. The proof came this week, when the Democratic National Committee informed one of the candidates, Jay Inslee, that it had turned down his call to hold a candidate debate specifically about climate change. People are roasting alive in California towns hit by the deadliest wildfires in the state’s history. Midwestern cities are reeling from deluge upon deluge. Coastal communities are starting to drown from a relentlessly rising sea. None of that is enough, apparently, for the Democratic Party to choose to put this issue front-and-center in the primary campaign. Not only did the D.N.C. turn Mr. Inslee down; according to him, the party informed him that he would be banned from party-sponsored debates if he took part in any unofficial candidate debate on climate change.”

Angmar writes—Election 2020 Series with Jay Inslee U.S. Role in Global Climate Action Council on Foreign Relations: Inslee: “I’m going to talk about a full mobilization of the United States which intends to save us from the demon of the climate crisis. And my comments and my passion on this subject is built on four pillars that I think undergird the proposal I have for the United States on sort of four principles. Number one, the principle that we need to expand our powers of imagination in dealing with this problem. And the reason I say that is that we have not really used our imagination to understand how dire this threat is. And there’s a book called The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells that I would encourage you to take a look at because it had an insight in it that was profound, which is that we have blinded ourself with sort of rose-colored glasses about this problem of climate change because we’ve all decided under the Paris Agreement we’re going to limit things to two degrees temperature increase, and we have blinded ourself to think that because we have said that things can never get worse than what’s going to happen at two degrees. Well, in fact, the situation is we are going to roar past two degrees unless we reinvigorate the international effort in this regard. And so when you look at the consequences of those results, what we think of as a modest problem that we can solve with a little higher levies and a little more forest-fire fighting and building up the roads another two feet in Miami Beach instead is a problem that results in large swaths of the Earth literally becoming uninhabitable. So we need to use our imagination to understand the nature of this challenge.”

revrick2 writes—Jay Inslee: Powerful Message; Terrible Messenger: “Gov. Jay Inslee has based his entire Presidential campaign on the issue of confronting climate change. Not only is he asking us to make this our number one priority, he’s saying it should be priorities two, three, and four as well. I happen to agree with him. Dead civilizations and dead people don’t much care about health insurance or interest rates or even rumors of war. But as the advocate of this message Gov. Inslee doesn’t convince me at all. To me, he comes across as the friendly banker approving a car loan application. If the threat of climate change is as dire as many scientists are declaring, then that message needs to be conveyed with a tone of alarm and urgency. We don’t need calm reassurances. We need Churchillian blood, toil, tears, and sweat. We need the forceful equivalent of the vow to fight them on the beaches, in the fields, and in our streets.”

Nonlinear writes—Science is rarely if ever settled. Why that matters. With major edits and new material: “I am getting so tired of hearing people say ‘I believe in science’ when what they mean is that they think global warming is real because the vast majority of scientists tell them it is real. The worst is when Presidential candidates like Elizabeth Warren use it. I want a Presidential candidate who says, ‘I understand the science.’ And means it. I have read Senator Warren’s academic work. It is well thought out and well presented and frankly I found it really interesting. It is clear she deeply wants to understand how laws (policy) are experienced by real people. I am highly confident she understands the basics of climate change science and this is why, more than anything she is on my short list of candidates. The woman is wicked smart. Yet she goes and says ‘I believe in science’ instead of saying, ‘I have spent a lot of time thinking about climate change and how dealing with it will be a key part of my Presidency if I am lucky enough to get elected. I understand that there are many important questions remaining to be answered in climate change science. However, the key findings of climate change scientists and experts in related fields are accepted by the vast majority of the world’s scientists. I trust that this consensus will grow in future years to include the answers to the questions I mentioned above. I want to close by saying, the findings of climate change scientists, to the extent I understand it, and I am working on getting the basics right, scares the crap out of me’.”

TXL writes—GOP authorities decide to prioritize environmental quality in trending-blue Texas in shock move: “For years, I’ve been tracking the progress of a proposed toxic waste dump in Laredo which local activists and environmentalists have been trying to shut down against steep opposition from a politically well-connected landowner and his hippo-hunting lobbyistThe proposal has been sitting with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), which traditionally has been quite the misnomer. But it turns out that TCEQ might be beginning to take its job more seriously. Perhaps Gov. Abbott has realized that with polls showing Texas could potentially go blue in 2020, now is not a good time for Texas agencies closely associated with the GOP to be literally authorizing the potential poisoning of populations in places like Laredo who could help deliver Democratic victories in the Lone Star State next year. It also looks like people at the Department of Homeland Security might be cluing up on bad policy that political appointees just might worry could have bad political effects next year.

AIR POLLUTION

ClimateDenierRoundup writes—Trump’s EPA To Contract Out PM2.5 Study If Pollution Is Actually Bad: For the past couple of years, we’ve been tracking the Trump administration’s Steve Milloy-driven War on PM2.5 pollution science, including the science advisory panel shenanigans regarding the replacement of real experts with flunkies that were hand-picked by polluters. So while we were pleased to see some of the initial proposals got the back burner treatment, that doesn’t mean Trump’s EPA was done finding ways to put polluters first. By way of quick catch-up: PM2.5 is the name for tiny particles (1/30th the size of a human hair) which have been linked to a number of health issues involving the heart and lungs. Importantly, the science suggests that even the smallest amount of this small pollutant can cause trouble. Because PM2.5 results from burning coal and fossil fuels as well as tobacco, it’s long been a target of deniers like Steve Milloy, who have spent a career seeking out ways to allow industries to continue profiting off of pollution, free from the burdens of public health protections. That’s because the reduction of PM2.5 pollution that comes from shutting down coal plants (or cracking down on second-hand smoke) carries with it enormous health benefits. And even though the EPA formally has a “safe” limit set, reducing PM2.5 levels below that level still provide health benefits.” 

BYPRODUCTS, TRASH, TOXIC & RADIOACTIVE WASTE

mettle fatigue writes—Malaysia’s Sending our Garbage Back: “Now that China’s no longer taking out our trash, Malaysia is shipping some 3,300 tons of contaminated plastic scrap back to the U.S., U.K. Canada, Australia and other countries of origin, as reported by the Associated Press and others. Whoever sends their waste to Malaysia, we will send it back,’ Environment Minister Yeo Bee Yin told reporters on Tuesday, declaring the foreign shipments to be ‘garbage … traded under the pretext of recycling.’ ‘Even though we are a small country, we cannot be bullied,” she added. “Malaysians, like any other developing countries, have a right to clean air, clean water, sustainable resources and a clean environment to live in — just like citizens of developed nations.’Yeo’s announcement should come as no surprise to anyone following post-China waste trends.”

REGULATIONS & PROTECTIONS

Lefty Coaster writes—Trump EPA issues ‘guidance’ for states to speed up Pipeline Reviews (by rushing reviews in 1 year): “In a breathtaking power-grab from the states sovereignty the Trump EPA wants to speed up pipeline reviews done by the states under the Clean Water Act to the point that they would be largely meaningless rituals. EPA issues guidance critics say would limit state’s authorities over pipeline projectsFederal law through the Clean Water Act essentially gives states veto power over large projects that cut through their rivers and streams if they believe those projects would negatively impact their water quality. Spurred by an April executive order from President Trump, the EPA’s guidance encourages states to more quickly process project applications, even if they don’t have all the information yet.

Dartagnan writes—Three former Republican EPA heads testify that Trump’s EPA endangers the public health and safety: “In an unprecedented, bipartisan rebuke of the Trump administration’s environmental ‘policies,’ four former administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), including three who served under Republican administrations, testified on Capitol Hill Tuesday before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Despite their political differences, their message was strikingly uniform: the Trump administration’s environmental rollbacks and distortion and neglect of scientific data are endangering Americans’ health and the safety of all our citizens. Three former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrators who served under Republican presidents urged Congress to ramp up its oversight of the Trump EPA on Tuesday, expressing distress at the agency’s attempts to mislead the public on the risks of climate change and brush aside science in decision-making. They were joined by Democrat Gina McCarthy, the agency’s chief under President Barack Obama, illustrating that these are bipartisan sentiments.”

MISCELLANY

David Bromwich via TomDispatch writes—What It Means to be “Great” on a Planet Going Down:  “What Benjamin Franklin is rumored to have said about the American Republic is now true of the planet as well: we have a world, if we can keep it. But so much of our interest is directed elsewhere — to the work of ‘renaming,’ for example. There are scholars who think that by christening our age the Anthropocene, they are putting the fires and floods under a microscope. But does this human-centered word do much more than carve a new channel for pride? (‘Just look around! It’s all us!”) The world, it seems, has become but one more link in the cyber-human chain by which we exit our natural bodies and turn into something rich and strange.

ClimateDenierRoundup writes—Newly Unearthed Mobil Documents Lay Bare The Self-Interest in Big Oil Charity: “We often talk about how the fossil fuel industry uses philanthropy as a means to benefit their bottom line by shaping potential regulations and public opinion. And if you don’t believe us, despite the ample evidence, you’re in luck: now we have confirmation, straight from the horse’s mouth. In a pair of Guardian stories published Wednesday, reporter Sharon Kelly exposes how Mobil oil company (prior to the Exxon-Mobil merger) spread its money around in the early 1990s with the explicit aim of shaping regulations in the company’s favor–to the extent that its grants included a ‘benefits to Mobil section to detail how that supposed gift would benefit the company. If that sounds like a problem, you’re right! As Marcus Owens, former director of the IRS division responsible for charitable organizations, told Kelly, ‘even if it isn’t an act of self-dealing, it sure smells like it. It’s like a red flag, a blinking red siren light’.”

rktect writes—Arctic News Warns Humans are now Functionally Extinct: “Koalas, The Burmese Star Tortoise, South China Tigers, White Rhinos, Humans and over the last 100 years 500 other species have become functionally extinct because of Humans. When will we die. It took me a while to understand the answer as given by Natalia Shakhova in 2008. As the Methane releases from the ESLA, it is up to 100 times as effective a greenhouse gas as CO2 and though it doesn’t stay around very long, about 20 years for CH4 as opposed to hundreds for CO2 the massive release will continue for a very long time as it continues to melt. The release will continue long enough and hard enough to raise Arctic temperatures, and possibly Antarctic temperatures as much as 18 degrees C and thus global temperatures above 2 degrees C, very possibly as much as 3 to 5 degrees C globally a level that is unsustainable for Human life.”


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