Politics

Media wrong on doomsday destiny; Jerry Brown’s last challenge

CRITTERS AND THE GREAT OUTDOORS

BrownsBay writes—Daily Bucket: Crab Spiders – They Wait: “The summer flowers are at their peak. On a warm sunny day there is much activity around the flowers.  Bees, wasps, and flower flies buzz from flower to flower gathering pollen and sucking nectar.  Danger lurks.  Crab spiders wait to ambush any errant casual flower visitor, be it a tiny bee or something larger like a butterfly.  With a body assuming the color of the flower, two front pair of strong legs, and powerful, fast-acting, paralyzing venom, crab spiders can quickly overwhelm even a bee or wasp; insects equipped with stingers. They even overwhelm other spider species. Crab spiders have small jaws (chelicerae), so they can’t mash their prey like some spiders, who literally vomit digestive juices on to their prey and begin chewing from there. Crab spiders, on the other hand, make small holes in their prey and vomit their digestive fluid into their prey’s body.  The end result is a hollow shell with some or most of the muscles and internal organs digested and sucked out.

Angmar writes—The Daily Bucket: August – Lightning Season: “To understand why thunderstorms occur more often during the warm months requires some understanding of thunderstorm basics. Thunderstorms thrive under certain conditions. The two most basic elements that cause a thunderstorm to develop are: • Moisture • Rapidly rising warm air. Because moisture and warmth are crucial to thunderstorms, it makes sense that they would occur more often in the spring and summer, particularly in humid areas such as the southeastern United States. The high humidity, in conjunction with warm temperat­ures, creates massive amounts of warm, moist air rising into the atmosphere, where it can easily form a thunderstorm.

Eagle parents
With nesting season over, eagle parents head out for an afternoon together after ensuring their offspring knows how to take care of itself.

OceanDiver writes—Dawn Chorus: 2018 Bald Eagle Nesting Season: “Half a year ago, in the dead of winter, a local pair Bald eagles initiated their annual nesting season. I wrote up a Dawn Chorus then about these eagles with the little bit of their history I knew (www.dailykos.com/…), and now I can tell you about how their season went this year. This is the maritime Pacific Northwest so eagles are plentiful — it’s a rare day I don’t see one — but this pair is unique for me because I can see their nest. Most eagle nests are hidden and inaccessible, mostly on private property. While this one is on private land, it’s in a field, visible from a relatively unfrequented public road, so any time I want I can drive by, stop, roll down the window and gaze across the field to the nest tree in a small copse. The eagles are indifferent to traffic; they also don’t care about the farmer’s activity cultivating or mowing the field below their nest. Evidently they picked this spot knowing all that, and find it satisfactory.”

OceanDiver writes—The Daily Bucket – RAy Oystercatcher Chronicles, Episode 6: Mama bathing: “The RAy Oystercatcher Chronicles have actually been going on for years, but I’ve never gotten around to assembling the episodes of this saga in a single narrative. Still may, in future, but for now at least I’m identifying the Buckets profiling these particular oystercatchers. It started in 2014 with this bucket (www.dailykos.com/…) and has continued off and on since, due to the great fondness both RAy (a banded male oystercatcher), his mate, and I have for this beach. None of these accounts are significant news or even very exciting to most people, but a sighting of these wild birds, separately or together, always brings me a thrill. So you folks here at DK get to either be bored or pleased by yet another focus on them today.

Seashells writes—Florida’s Environmental Disaster As Red Tide Kills Dolphins, Manatees, Sea Turtles & Fish: “My cousin is on the west coast of Florida above Sarasota. The red tide there is really bad, disgusting and lethal to sea life. My understanding is it’s largely fueled by run off from agricultural fertilizers with sugar plantations being a prime offender. The photos I’ve seen him posting from local news is equal parts heartbreaking, repulsive and infuriating. Other Kossacks are better able to speak about the biology, chemistry and politics involved. I just wanted to post this cause my heart aches. Florida and its politicians, industries and home owners and residents all can do better than this. This has got to impact tourism, btw.”

spotted towhee
Spotted Towhee

owktree writes—Daily Bucket: Dungeness River Audubon Center: “While driving from Seattle to Port Angeles on the second week of the vacation I did a few stops along the way if I saw signs for things that looked interesting.  One stop turned out to be a Audubon Center located on the Dungeness River where the Olympic Discovery Trail crossed the river on an old bridge.  So I took a short hike and snapped some photos! And then went back into the center since they had displays on the local wildlife so that I could try to identify a few birds I had seen but was unfamiliar with.”

owktree writes—Daily Bucket: Salt Creek Recreation Area: “Another stop on the PNW vacation.  The Salt Creek Recreation Area is located a fairly short distance west of Port Angeles.  I visited there early on the second week of the vacation on the day I drove from Seattle to Port Angeles. The tide was out, so there was a lot of space to walk around and see what might be lurking in the tide pools.”

CLIMATE CHAOS

Pakalolo writes—Arctic carbon cycle is speeding up: “The warning lights are blinking red. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has found that Alaska’s North Slope spends about 13 percent less time locked in frozen soil than it did just 40 years ago. The tundra holds massive stores of carbon in its permanently frozen soil. Warming temperatures from our changing climate exposes thawing soil to “microbial decomposition,” which in turn releases additional carbon into the atmosphere. A new NASA-led study using data from the Arctic Boreal Vulnerability Experiment (ABoVE) shows that carbon in Alaska’s North Slope tundra ecosystems spends about 13 percent less time locked in frozen soil than it did 40 years ago. In other words, the carbon cycle there is speeding up — and is now at a pace more characteristic of a North American boreal forest than of the icy Arctic. “Warming temperatures mean that essentially we have one ecosystem—the tundra—developing some of the characteristics of a different ecosystem—a boreal forest,’ said study co-author Anthony Bloom of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.”

ClimateDenierRoundup writes—Pielke’s Neoliberalism Paraphrased: Lost Lives No Biggie if GDP’s Growing: “Last week, CNN reported the story of Ed Bledsoe, whose wife Melody and two great-grandchildren Emily and James Roberts were killed by the Carr wildfire as he raced home to try and save them. Hearing Bledsoe talk about his loss is absolutely gutwrenching. That leaves us wondering if Roger Pielke Jr. has been following the news out of California at all. Pielke has a very helpful and totally-not-tone deaf message in the WSJ’s opinion section this week: ‘Since 1990, economic losses from disasters have decreased by about 20% as a proportion of world-wide gross domestic product.’  As various climate disasters claim lives around the globe this summer, it’s puzzling why anyone should care about economic losses from extreme weather as a proportion of the sum total wealth of the world. Since Pielke’s schtick has been debunked repeatedly for, like, a decade, and this latest WSJ op-ed offers nothing new, it’s time to take a closer look at the neoliberal philosophy underpinning his work, specifically in the context of the NYT Magazine’s recent blockbuster climate piece.”

ClimateDenierRoundup writes—YouTube Rolling Out Wiki Correction Link For Climate Denier Videos: “Last week, the Guardian’s Long Read had a great piece on not just denial, but denialism. An adaption from his forthcoming book on Denial, author Keith Kahn-Harris lays out in the piece the foundation for what he sees as a new age of denialism. The difference, he explains, between denial and denialism is that ‘denial is furtive and routine; denialism is combative and extraordinary. Denial hides from the truth, denialism builds a new and better truth.’ Kahn-Harris describes denialism as a ‘mix of corrosive doubt and corrosive credulity,’ as seen in the acceptance of thinly-evidenced narratives instead of consensus science. And it’s a true desire for the status quo to continue in terms of environment, health, race, gender and power, Kahn-Harris argues, that is driving denialism. We’re moving into what he describes as post-denial, where instead of needing to shroud an argument in pseudo-academic language, those more base desires can be let loose. Having built that denial foundation of doubting experts and believing shiny charlatans, practitioners of new denialism are free to create their own reality.”

ClimateDenierRoundup writes—Heartland’s Annual Day of Denial Exposes Their Free Market Facade: “A group of revelers gathered in New Orleans on Tuesday to share their semi-coherent thoughts on the state of the world, struggle with big words, complain about feeling slighted, and brag about how successful they are. While this was surely also happening with the partiers on Bourbon street, we’re referring specifically to Heartland’s sparsely attended second annual energy conference, which gathered some of the brightest minds in the climate denial world to discuss such important topics as crawfish getting “more big” and make such intelligent arguments as ‘a carbon tax is Obamacare on heroin.’ Other highlights of these very serious discussions, per E&E’s Scott Waldman, include Louisiana Republican representative Clay Higgins calling clean energy sources ‘rainbow dust and unicorn milk.’ Then there’s Kathleen Hartnett-White, who Waldman reminds us ‘had to withdraw as Trump’s pick to head the White House Council on Environmental Quality after stumbling over questions of basic climate science.’ Apparently, stumbling over basics is a personality trait: during her comments at the conference,  Harnett said she found it ‘amusing to imagine’ we can move off fossil fuels while admitting that ‘it’s kind of hard to say the word decarbonize’.”

Lefty Coaster writes—New Study warns of Runaway Global Warming threatening the ‘habitability of the planet for humans’: “As much of the country is in a heatwave, and many Americans are looking for ways to keep cool, we are given some news that that the future is likely to be even hotter. And if we don’t take care of our planet by drastically reducing our use of fossil fuels, much, much hotter! AbstractWe explore the risk that self-reinforcing feedbacks could push the Earth System toward a planetary threshold that, if crossed, could prevent stabilization of the climate at intermediate temperature rises and cause continued warming on a ‘Hothouse Earth”’pathway even as human emissions are reduced. Crossing the threshold would lead to a much higher global average temperature than any interglacial in the past 1.2 million years and to sea levels significantly higher than at any time in the Holocene. We examine the evidence that such a threshold might exist and where it might be. If the threshold is crossed, the resulting trajectory would likely cause serious disruptions to ecosystems, society, and economies. Collective human action is required to steer the Earth System away from a potential threshold and stabilize it in a habitable interglacial-like state. Such action entails stewardship of the entire Earth System—biosphere, climate, and societies—and could include decarbonization of the global economy, enhancement of biosphere carbon sinks, behavioral changes, technological innovations, new governance arrangements, and transformed social values.

Xaxnar writes—Two Words Finally Appearing in the News: Climate Change. What Do We Do Now That We Can’t Ignore It? ”The lead news story on NBC Nightly News for Monday August 7, 2018 was the fires raging out of control in California. The entire newscast is here at this link, after a commercial. Good luck getting it to load — NBC has no trouble making the commercials run, but not the actual news. It took me several tries. The images are horrendous — and continuing. Efforts to bring the fires under control are going to take days and weeks. Largest fire in California history; thousands of firefighters at work, thousands of acres in flames, and the structures on them being destroyed. The screen graphics give snapshots of the problem. […] There’s no longer a fire season in California — it’s year round now.

Extreme Weather & Natural Phenomena

Hunter writes—Trump’s response to California fires: We need to plug the rivers and clear the trees: “Not only is Donald Trump an idiot, but it is almost impossible to concisely categorize all the myriad ways he is an idiot. California wildfires are being magnified & made so much worse by the bad environmental laws which aren’t allowing massive amount of readily available water to be properly utilized. It is being diverted into the Pacific Ocean. Must also tree clear to stop fire spreading! Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 5, 2018. As someone who is looking at the smoke pillars from one of those fires outside my window, I can assure you that this doesn’t make any more sense than you think it might. […] And the Trump administration’s repeated and dedicated efforts to cutting firefighting capabilities—to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars—represents a new threat entirely.

bobburnett writes—Why is California Burning? “In case you missed it, California is beset with an unusual number of intense wildfires; the state is covered by smoke.  In response, on August 5th, Donald Trump tweeted: ‘California wildfires are being magnified & made so much worse by the bad environmental laws…’ Hmm, so California ‘environmentalists’ are responsible for the fires?  Or is someone else to blame? Twelve years ago, I wrote “Global Warming? Not in My Back Yard” (https://www.huffingtonpost.com/bob-burnett/global-warming-not-in-my-_b_19380.html ), pointing out that while most Americans are concerned about global warming (climate change), in general, they don’t get excited about it, in particular, until there’s evidence at the local level—because they have a lot of other issues to worry about such as the cost of their healthcare or housing or jobs. Two years of extreme wildfires has gotten Californians’ attention. Waking up each morning worried about air quality—because of the smoke—or worse yet, wondering if you will be forced to evacuate, has made everyone in California aware that we have a problem. The issue is what to do about it.”

Rmuse writes—Gays and environmental laws did not cause California wildfires: “It takes a special kind of wretched creep to take advantage of a deadly tragedy to advance a deadly agenda, and it is particularly obscene when a pair of creeps seemingly celebrate an ongoing disaster as retribution for some perceived, and fabricated, offense – either against a special interest or a special so-called ‘religion.’ America has no shortage of ‘creeps’ in positions of authority in 2018, so it was no big shock that the nation’s chief buffoon, dumb Don Trump, and an evangelical preacher, malicious Kevin Swanson, used their platforms to score political and religious points with the imbeciles keeping Trump and the religious right in power. What is particularly noteworthy is that both Trump and the alleged ‘follower of Christ’ failed to acknowledge the economic and human tragedy while blaming California’s conflagrations on gays and environmentalists.”

Xaxnar writes—Part 1: Would You Prefer to Burn Or Drown? Either Way, The Odds Are Going Up: “The New York Times has a story worth looking at: Three of California’s Biggest Fires Ever Are Burning Right NowTIM WALLACE, ASH NGU, DENISE LU and MATTHEW BLOCH have put together some sobering graphics showing the footprints of the largest California fires since 2000, and a map of the state showing where they took/are taking place. Here’s the kicker: ‘The trends are pretty astounding in terms of the number of acres burned, the length of the wildfire season, the numbers of structures lost,’ said Kelly Pohl, a research analyst with Headwaters Economics, a nonprofit research group that helps communities develop wildfire plans. ‘If you look at the trends over several decades, they’ve all gone up.’ In California, 15 of the 20 largest fires in state history have burned since 2000. The state is ‘a bit like a canary in a coal mine,’ Ms. Pohl said. ‘We are also going to see the same trend across other states in the country in the future.’ Climate Change leads the list of the usual suspects, along with human encroachment into areas where fire risks are increasing. It’s also a consequence of the need to adapt land and fire management practices to reflect best practices.”

OCEANS, WATER, DROUGHT

Serendeputy writes—Coastal Maine Waters Warmest in My Lifetime: “I have been engaged in various Maine fisheries since 1971.  During the twentieth century, and into the twentyfirst century, the coastal waters were consistently too cold for swimming, even during the heat of summer. The electronics on my boat show the surface temperature only, so I can’t say what the subsurface temps are.  Up until yesterday, the warmest surface water I had ever encountered was 71.4 degrees. This year however, the water has warmed faster than any time in my decades of fishing. As of yesterday, the surface  temperature five miles out from port was 83.8 degrees. This has complicated the process of lobster fishing, as warmer water is less capable of holding oxygen. Most lobster boats carry a tank which circulates ocean water into which the lobsters are placed as they are caught. Yesterday, I observed one boat offloading his catch, and as he did, I observed him throwing many dead lobsters overboard.  They had presumably suffocated from low oxygen content.”

Dan Bacher writes—Trump shows his ignorance of CA water – and his contempt for West Coast fisheries and the Delta: “In a tweet today, President Donald Trump showed his ignorance of California water and geography while advocating for increased diversions of Northern California water to his corporate agribusiness backers in the San Joaquin Valley. Trump stated, ‘Governor Jerry Brown must allow the Free Flow of the vast amounts of water coming from the North and foolishly being diverted into the Pacific Ocean.’ Actually, the water in the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers and their tributaries isn’t ‘being diverted into the Pacific Ocean,’ as Trump claims. In fact, the water flows naturally into the Delta, Suisun Bay, San Francisco Bay and then the ocean outside of the Golden Gate. The water is not ‘wasted,’ as agribusiness promoters of the Delta Tunnels, Trump and their allies in Congress contend. In fact, the mixing of freshwater flows and saltwater creates the basis for a rich web of life that since time immemorial has nurtured West Coast Chinook salmon, steelhead, green and white sturgeon, California halibut, crab, anchovy, herring, sevengill shark, sixgill shark, leopard shark, brown smoothhound shark, lingcod, rockfish and many other fish and invertebrate populations.”

Dan Bacher writes—Salmon Fishermen Respond to Commerce Secretary’s Directive on Water for Fires: “Apparently responding to President Trump’s tweet on Monday claiming that Governor Jerry Brown ‘must allow the Free Flow of the vast amounts of water coming from the North and foolishly being diverted into the Pacific Ocean’ as the California fires rage, Secretary of Commerce Commerce Wilbur Ross issued a directive yesterday stating that ‘the protection of life and property takes precedence over any current agreements regarding the use of water in the areas of California affected by wildfires.’ ‘The California wildfires are a direct threat to life and property and all measures available must be taken to protect both,’ said Ross. ‘Today, I direct NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service to make clear to all its Federal agency partners that the protection of life and property takes precedence over any current agreements regarding the use of water in the areas of California affected by wildfires. Public safety is the first priority’.”

Dan Bacher writes—Legislative Budget Committee Postpones Hearing on Extending SWP Contracts to Fund Delta Tunnels! California’s Joint Legislative Budget Committee announced Thursday, August 9, that they have postponed indefinitely a hearing on extending State Water Project contracts to fund Governor Jerry Brown’s Delta Tunnels, despite pressure from Brown and the Department of Water Resources. That hearing would have cleared the path for the DWR to force ratepayers to assume the $17-$25 billion cost for the project without legislative oversight over future contract amendments, according Brenna Norton, senior organizer of Food & Water Watch, in a statement. ‘We are thankful to Senator Mitchell and California’s legislative leaders for postponing a hearing that could have resulted in Californians shelling out billions for the wasteful Delta tunnels,’ said Norton. ‘This project won’t provide any additional water, but would force higher taxes and water bills on millions of Californians. The state already has costly water infrastructure priorities such as fixing the crumbling and leaking pipes under our cities. California families should not be burdened by a tunnels project that does not benefit them’.”

CANDIDATES, STATE AND DC ECO-RELATED POLITICS​

Michael Brune writes—Jerry Brown’s Last Challenge“Nowhere else in the U.S. do we have a better opportunity to show how it’s possible to transition from fossil fuels in a way that’s smart, pragmatic, and equitable. What’s been missing, surprisingly, is the leadership to get started. That’s ironic, because California is still led by one of the most vocal and visible resisters to Trump’s retreat from climate action: Governor Jerry Brown. And when it comes to the demand side of climate action (energy efficiency, renewable energy, cutting pollution at the tailpipe) Governor Brown has been a true champion. But when it comes to fighting climate change at the source — curbing the production of fossil fuels — it’s been a different story. Normally a pragmatic visionary, Governor Brown has failed to reconcile two key climate facts: California is a major oil and gas producer, and the basic physics of climate science demand that we phase out oil and gas.”

ybruti writes—Drought and Devin Nunes: “Now in 2018, as [Devin] Nunes joins with Sean Hannity to protect a president from what they call a deep state conspiracy, [authror Mark] Arax recalls the conspiracy theory concocted by the pair in 2009 during an earlier drought. That summer, Hannity came to the San Joaquin Valley to see how President Obama had supposedly turned the most productive farmland in America into a ‘Dust Bowl.’ He devoted an entire live broadcast to what he called ‘The Valley Hope Forgot’ … News footage depicted orchards uprooted, fields fallowed and equipment spoiling to rust. Never mind that the fallowed dirt where Hannity and Nunes were standing next to each other had produced a bounty of tomatoes the day before. One hundred feet away, beyond camera frame, acre after acre of irrigated green fields awaited harvest. Nunes must have known that the federal pumps had been turned on for nearly three months, irrigating the same fields Hannity was calling a dust bowl. When a local reporter pointed out the truth, Nunes merely replied: ‘When you look at the radical environmental fringe, there is no question they are tied closely to the Communist Party’.”

BYPRODUCTS, TRASH, TOXIC & RADIOACTIVE WASTE

Paleo writes—EPA to allow asbestos into manufacturing: “This one really boggles the mind.  Just saw this now, so if it was discussed in the last month or two, feel free to ignore. One of the most dangerous construction-related carcinogens is now legally allowed back into U.S. manufacturing under a new rule by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). On June 1, the EPA authorized a “SNUR” (Significant New Use Rule) which allows new products containing asbestos to be created on a case-by-case basis. According to environmental advocates, this new rule gives chemical companies the upper hand in creating new uses for such harmful products in the United States. In May, the EPA released a reportdetailing its new framework for evaluating the risk of its top prioritized substances. The report states that the agency will no longer consider the effect or presence of substances in the air, ground, or water in its risk assessments.

Jen Hayden writes—Toxic Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency moves to allow asbestos back into manufacturing: “If you want to put cancer-causing asbestos back into some manufacturing, Donald Trump is your man. The Environmental Protection Agency, which is doing less people and environment protecting every day under the Trump administration, is considering bringing back some asbestos manufacturing. From The Architects Newspaper: One of the most dangerous construction-related carcinogens is now legally allowed back into U.S. manufacturing under a new rule by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). On June 1, the EPA authorized a ‘SNUR’ (Significant New Use Rule) which allows new products containing asbestos to be created on a case-by-case basis. According to environmental advocates, this new rule gives chemical companies the upper hand in creating new uses for such harmful products in the United States. In May, the EPA released a report detailing its new framework for evaluating the risk of its top prioritized substances. The report states that the agency will no longer consider the effect or presence of substances in the air, ground, or water in its risk assessments.

veritas curat writes—Our Future Is Asbest: “There is a town in Russia called Asbest which is the center of Russia’s asbestos mining; one of the so-called ‘monotowns’ wherein the Soviets created engines of their economy by centering an entire town region upon one industry. In this case it was asbestos; mined in a huge open pit where miners blast clouds of chrysotile asbestos dust over the town and its residents. In the words of one resident, ‘Every normal person is trying to get out of here. People who value their lives leave. But I was born here and have no place else to go.’ From the aptly named NY Times article city in Russia unable to kick its asbestos habit. […] Human misery and the destruction of our livable planet must, of necessity, take a backseat to this because… otherwise… how would we live? The choice seems to be between living in misery or not living at all. Not a choice one imagines a Free People would be forced to make. This is all distraction, you know. We get distracted by the fact that Uralasbest, the mining company that brutalizes the town of Asbest, has recently put a picture of our great Businessman-President upon their product because he said some outrageous things in the past and has given them his seal of approval as a hard-headed industrialist would in the face of pansies who worry about human lives and the life of the planet.”

Mark Sumner writes—The EPA disagreed with EPA action on asbestos: Emails reveal concern from agency staff: “Donald Trump is an asbestos denier, one of a rarefied few who makes Flat Earth believers look brilliant by throwing doubt at the connection between asbestos and lung cancer. And the EPA, Trump’s go-to agency when it comes to making day-to-day life worse for everyone, recently followed Trump’s lead by promoting a rule that makes it easier for asbestos to make its way back into consumer goods. However, as the New York Times reports, there was an agency where everyone seemed to be united against the action taken by the EPA. And it was the EPA. Emails exchanged within the agency show the agency’s scientists, analysts, and legal staff were united in complaining that there is ‘no clear explanation’ for the change, and in expressing concern over the possible expanded use of a toxic substance. Despite Trump’s statement that asbestos is ‘100 percent safe’ and his claims that asbestos removal is a plot by the mob, EPA personnel had a very different position. Asbestos is an extremely dangerous substance with no safe exposure amount.”

Meteor Blades writes—Migrant kids likely to be exposed to chemicals at military bases where gov’t wants to detain them: “One of the concerns raised after the announcement on using bases as migrant lock-ups was whether detained adults and children would wind up drinking contaminated water, in particular, water containing poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances, a.k.a. PFLAS. These are used at military bases because they are effective at dousing fires. A study meant to be released in January by the Agency For Toxic Substances and Disease Registry concluded that people should only be exposed to extremely low levels of PFLAS. For six months, the White House kept the report under wraps but, under bipartisan pressure, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services finally got the 852-page study released in late June. However, that contaminant is only one toxic chemical at the two Texas military bases—Fort Bliss and Goodfellow Air Force Base. Therefore, on behalf of health, labor, and environmental organizations including Alianza Nacional de Campesinas (Alianza), GreenLatinos, the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, the National Hispanic Medical Association, the Hispanic Federation, and the Southwest Environmental Center, the environmental advocates at Earthjustice filed a Freedom of Information Act request Wednesday to find out just how serious all the contamination is at 10 sites on the those bases.”

ENERGY

Emissions Controls & Carbon Pricing

ybruti writes—California will fight this stupidity in every conceivable way possible: “The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing a 6-year freeze on mileage targets for cars and trucks beginning in 2020. If the freeze takes effect, the current goal of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025 would be replaced by 37 mpg. The EPA’s proposal also seeks to prevent California from setting its own standards for greenhouse gas emissions and the number of electric vehicles to be sold. In addition, it would block many other states from using California standards. The freeze would hinder states’ efforts to meet commitments in the Paris agreement on climate change, and it would worsen air quality problems in areas like Southern California, where there are high rates of asthma and other illnesses caused by air pollution.  EPA officials expect the freeze will cause an increase of 2-3% in daily fuel consumption (about 500,000 barrels). The present EPA is unconcerned about the resulting increase in air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, but according to an article in the Los Angeles Times on August 2, California vows to fight Trump EPA’s move to freeze fuel economy rules. Gov. Brown has issued a scathing assessment of the proposal.”

ClimateDenierRoundup writes—Trump Admits Gas Mileage Reversal Will Kill 60k Jobs: “One of the administration’s most stupid policies of late is its decision to reverse Obama-era gas mileage standards. Don’t let the official language about the supposed lifesaving benefits fool you: rolling back these standards, in essence, lets car companies off the hook for producing better cars, and keeps customers buying, and burning, more gas. E&E News, thankfully, has put some smart reporters on the ‘stupid policy’ beat, and produced a number of interesting stories lately about the auto mileage standard rollback. Last Thursday, the outlet ran an intriguing story about how the car rule came together. Though officially the policy was a joint effort between the EPA and Department of Transportation, E&E reported that retired EPA officials told them the DOT ‘cooked the books,’ and that ‘EPA staff had basically nothing to do with’ the final policy document.

Renewables, Efficiency & Conservation

Meteor Blades writes—Open thread for night owls: Solar and wind sources of electricity catching up to natural gas: “For around 10 years, the conventional wisdom in the energy sector has been that natural gas is ascendant. Coal is dirty, and it’s getting expensive, but it’s too early to jump all the way to renewable energy. To get from the fossil fuel present to the renewable future, we will need … a bridge. […] Around 2015, though, just five years into gas’s rise to power, complications for this narrative began to appear. First, wind and solar costs fell so far, so fast that they are now undercutting the cost of new gas in a growing number of regions. And then batteries — which can “firm up” variable renewables, diminishing the need for natural gas’s flexibility — also started getting cheap faster than anyone expected. It happened so fast that, in certain limited circumstances, solar+storage or wind+storage is already cheaper than new natural gas plants and able to play all the same roles (and more).

REGULATIONS & PROTECTIONS

Mark Sumner writes—The EPA still can’t produce any evidence to support the policies it’s been following since 2017: “Scott Pruitt may be gone from the EPA, but he didn’t take his bad policies with him when he left. And, as a lawsuit from Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) demonstrates—those policies are still without any scientific basis. […] The EPA has been following that policy by removing climate data from the public website, removing language of global warming or climate change from policies, and removing climate change as a factor when evaluating environmental impact. PEER immediately asked the EPA to put up or shut up, filing requests for any data that would support Pruitt’s statements. And the EPA responded promptly … by calling the requests “a trap” and refusing to comply. PEER responded to that response by filing suit. And the EPA responded to that by asking for the suit to be dismissed. But the EPA lost in court. The suit continued. And in June a federal judge ruled in favor of PEER, ordering the EPA to hand over any supporting documents. And now PEER has those documents. Twelve pages of them. Only those pages consist of nothing but marketing points and PR talking points. Not only do they contain no science to back up what Pruitt said, the documents that the EPA provided to demonstrate the scientific basis behind Pruitt’s statements on climate change don’t even contain anything about climate change.”

ECO-ACTION & ECO JUSTICE

Dan Bacher writes—Six youths demanding a fossil fuel extraction freeze arrested in sit in at Jerry Brown’s Office: “As massive wildfires continued to ravage the state, 35 California youth held a sit-in at Governor Jerry Brown’s office at the state capitol in Sacramento Tuesday, demanding that he freeze new fossil fuel drilling and develop a plan to phase out oil and gas extraction. Six of them were arrested Tuesday night as they continued the sit-in in at the door of the Governor’s Office after the office closed Tuesday evening. Before the State Police arrested them, three of the young activists explained why they were willing to risk arrest—and vowed not to back down. ‘My generation is going to feel the biggest effect of climate change and I am sitting here risking arrest because Jerry Brown is not doing enough,’ said Carmen Bouquin, age 18: ‘He is putting corporate interests over people and continuing to use his power to contribute to climate change while our communities are feeling the impacts of erratic climate change’.”

AGRICULTURE​, FOOD & GARDENING

Lincoln Green writes—Although ordered to ban a hazardous pesticide, EPA still ignores science and Republicans cheer: “Yesterday a three-judge federal appeals court ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to ban chlorpyrifos, a pesticide made by DowDuPont that Europe prohibits but the US uses widely — the US Dept. of Agriculture routinely detects residues on tomatoes, cranberries, spinach, cucumbers, and many other kinds of produce. The court ruled that the EPA did not follow its procedures properly, and said that: there was no justification for the EPA’s decision in its 2017 order to maintain a tolerance for chlorpyrifos in the face of scientific evidence that its residue on food causes neurodevelopmental damage to children. Amanda Reilly reported in E&E News that former EPA official Joseph Goffman had this to say about the court decision: This seems to be an example of where the agency, or at least the political leadership at the agency, knew what its preferred result was and did selective ignoring of the record in order to get to that result. As Dale Kasler reported in the Sacramento Bee, a main concern about chlorpyrifos is its effect on pregnant women living near fields where the pesticide is used; exposure can lead to children with low IQs and other problems. Use of chlorpyrifos has fallen in California, from nearly 2 million pounds in 2005 to 0.9 million pounds in 2016, and Hawaii has banned its use. The court ordered the EPA to ban the pesticide nationwide within 60 days.”

$289 Mil Damage Award Against Monsanto For Man’s Cancer: “A jury awarded $289 million in damages Friday to a former Bay Area school groundskeeper, finding that his cancer was caused by on-the-job exposure to a Monsanto Co. herbicide, the world’s most widely used weed-killer. Monsanto is responsible for Dewayne ‘Lee’ Johnson’s illness, suffering and reduced life expectancy because of the cancer-causing nature of its product, glyphosate, most commonly marketed old as Roundup, the San Francisco Superior Court jury determined. The jury deliberated 21/2 days after a four-week trial. The damages included $2.3 million in economic losses, $37 million for pain and emotional distress — $1 million for each year of Johnson’s normal life expectancy if he had not become ill — and $250 million in punitive damages. The punitive damages were based on the jury’s unanimous finding that Monsanto had ‘acted with malice or oppression’ toward Johnson.”

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estreya writes—Saturday Morning Garden Blogging, Vol. 14.32: The Dreaded Summer Drought: “The dog days of summer are firmly underway here in the Pacific Northwest.  Temps are soaring, grass is dead, and the patio pots must be watered daily or they pout like a baby trout.  Although the usual focus of our SMGB is all-things-green-and-growing, at the moment, the only life forms that are actively thriving in my neck of the woods are two Siberian kittens.  With your indulgence, i’ll spare you the photographs of my sad, sun-charred landscape and focus almost exclusively on the pure delight of our fierce feline princesses. In just over a month, it’s amazing how much love and life our new kittens have brought into our lives.  This is what they looked like the day we brought them home … The girl with the white mittens is named Leeloo, after the heroine in the movie, The Fifth Element. The darker of the two girls is called Blossom, after jazz singer Blossom Dearie. In the spirit of gardening, i suppose i could mention the potentially adversarial relationship between rambunctious kittens and houseplants.  Although i don’t have an abundance of potted plants in my home, each and every one proved to be an irresistible draw to our inquisitive little scamps …”

TRANSPORTATION & INFRASTRUCTURE

ClimateDenierRoundup writes—Myth Bus-ting the Misleading Attacks on Electric Buses: “And as the good EV bus news comes, so must also come the pushback. Over the last couple of weeks, the conservative but generally-not-crazy Washington Examiner ran four pieces, three in quick succession, attacking electric buses. One was by Ross Marchand, of the Koch’s Taxpayers Protection Alliance, and the other three by a commentary writer for the Examiner, Philip Wegmann. The four pieces have barely enough rhetoric between them to scrape together one argument. Marchand claims in his piece that the buses’ expense is a problem, but neglects to mention that the fuel, maintenance and health savings from an EV replacing a diesel bus is well worth the initial cost, leading to a net savings. He also claims that EVs may be dirtier than conventional ones, citing the Koch’s Manhattan Institute. This, simply put, is false. Particularly for buses. Wegmann offers even less in the way of substance than Marchand. In one of his pieces, he implies electric buses are unreliable because of some problems between the headlights and radios on a grand total of four buses. In another, he calls the city of Santa Monica stupid for buying electric buses, decrying ‘the lunatic fanaticism’ of liberal cities that think it’s important to provide public transit, even if it’s not popular.




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