Nov 20 2020: Climate Change and increasing infectious diseases

75% of emerging infectious diseases have wildlife origins. Climate change plays a role as cold-adapted species will be more susceptible to the bacteria, fungi, viruses and infectious worms that will be on the move.

So it’s not just ancient diseases being released in unfrozen tundra or the misguided carelessness of open-air markets, new and old infectious diseases (notably malaria) will be on the rise due to climate change.

Climate change is not just about what we face outside (i.e., floods, dramatic storms, heat waves), it is about our insides, too!

https://in.reuters.com/article/uk-climate-change-wildlife-disease-idINKBN27Z2UL

https://www.who.int/globalchange/climate/en/chapter6.pdf

Nov 5 2020: COVID+Dirty Air=More Deaths

Is it any surprise that this virulent respiratory virus would be associated with rise in deaths? You don’t need to even read this article to find that credible. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/nov/04/tiny-air-pollution-rise-linked-to-11-more-covid-19-deaths-study

Just one more way this Administration has not been taking care of its people.

Oct 28 2020: Worse Air=Worse Health

Perhaps it is no surprise to read that pullback of Obama-era pollution controls will lead to serious health hazards. What’s more, that industry has underestimated these, now with the cooperation of the co-opted EPA. What I don’t understand is why we never factor eventual health costs to our society?

Read about it here:

https://publicintegrity.org/politics/system-failure/trump-pullback-air-pollution-controls-hazardous/

Oct 21 2020: Making economic sense out of climate change

Many of us have seen promising signs of economic investment in green energy. We’ve also craved influential policies to curb wasteful energy usage. Well, no lesser economic bastion than the International Monetary Fund in their World Economic Outlook makes the case that “…economic policy tools can pave a road toward net zero emissions by 2050 even as the world seeks to recover from the COVID-19 crisis.

Green infrastructure, carbon taxes, it is all here with the clear directive to build policies to mitigate climate change.

But wait, there’s more. The perspective is that this is not neutral, it is positive, economically speaking—”Our model-based scenario analysis suggests that a comprehensive policy strategy to mitigate climate change could boost global GDP in the first 15 years of the recovery by about 0.7 percent of global GDP on average, and employment for about half of that period leading to about 12 million extra persons being employed globally.” The piece goes on to discuss transition costs, so it won’t be a slam dunk. But the tides are turning towards a world that does not need to be run on economic policies that are aggravating climate change.

Finding the Right Policy Mix to Safeguard our Climate

https://www.theatlantic.com/newsletters/archive/2020/10/the-question-that-haunts-climate-advocates/616785/

Oct 11 2020: Hear Ye, Hear Ye—Ocean Seismic Blasting Halted

Good news for marine mammals in the Atlantic Ocean. Seismic blasts can cause hearing loss in marine mammals that rely on echolocation.

Don’t you love the term  Incidental Harassment Authorizations (IHAs) that allowed for dolphins and whales to be harmed, like “we didn’t mean to do any damage, honest.” All because fossil fuel industry needs to keep going deeper and more dangerously in search of fuels that we need to be moving beyond.

This achievement has been long in the making and the next target is an outright ban on offshore oil and gas drilling

Read more here:

https://www.ecowatch.com/ocean-seismic-blasting-atlantic-2647890796.html?rebelltitem=3#rebelltitem3

https://earthjustice.org/news/press/2020/seismic-blasting-efforts-halted-in-atlantic-ocean#:~:text=A%20status%20conference%20on%20seismic,and%20possibly%20for%20several%20years.

Oct 10 2020: Wildlife Tally by USDA, really sad

You may not want to read about the latest tally of killed wildlife by taxpayer-funded USDA, done to protect farmland and lifestock. One person’s pest is another’s magnificent creature. (Sorry, rats excluded, but that’s just my opinion. I don’t pretend to understand their value.) Somehow we have to do better, we have to get our species’ need for food in balance with the web of all life. It is just too convenient to blame animals when we are the encroachers. Further, one can’t help but feel great sadness that the report reads like “accomplishments.”

Read more here if you want to read the really sad details. https://www.ecowatch.com/trump-usda-sued-wildlife-2648152996.html?rebelltitem=1#rebelltitem1

Oct 8 2020: Numbing to the numbers of wildfires

Oct 8 2020: California

So, today we read that California has its first “gigafire” in modern history, i.e., one million acres (roughly size of Rhode Island). We read that wildfires are three times more common across the West since the 1970s while wildfire season is more than three months longer. Fires are so frequent and ferocious that we cannot help but feel numbed by the scale of it all. To call this a “new normal” is to diminish the horror of devastation to wild creatures, beautiful trees. To say we are “out of balance” and that forests are not as “well-managed” as they could be is to miss the point. We cannot manage our way out of this. We need a reckoning on climate change or the lament for homes and property will seem quaint in a future where some places will simply be unlivable.

https://earther.gizmodo.com/california-has-its-first-gigafire-in-modern-history-1845275126

Oct 1 2020 It’s National Drive Electric Week

It’s the 10th National Drive Electric Week (through Sunday).

“This Saturday! Register for this FREE Electric Vehicle event on Sat, Oct 3rd from 10-2 pm at Cumberland Mountain State Park, in Crossville, TN
There will be six to seven Electric Vehicles (EVs) available to view and a Ride & Drive.

Read more about this national event here: https://driveelectricweek.org/

A much-cited 2016 white pager (being updated, btw, this year),  “Quantifying the Societal Benefits of Electric Vehicles,” by Ingrid Malmgren, provided convincing quantifiable benefits in these areas: fuel savings, vehicle maintenance, environmental impact, health, national security, economic development, and contribution as grid resource.


Many technological evolutions move from Why to Why Not? EVs seem to have crossed that chasm and we may well soon be asking ourselves why are we not all driving EVs.

Sept 26 2020: Going going Tongass

With a mixture of junk analysis by the Forest Service, disregard for impact statements, and a blind eye for old growth markets the Trump Administration is set on rolling right into Alaska’s Tongass National Forest with plans to open up 9 million acres to logging and roads to allow energy and mineral exploration. Bye-bye roadless rule.

At 17 million acres, the Tongass is America’s largest national forest and the world’s largest remaining temperate rainforest. Pristine is not a word that this President can even begin to comprehend. But, then our system, places no value on nature until it is harvested. Talk about systematic injustice.

Still, there are human-centric reasons to preserve the Tongass. It is one of our largest carbon sinks, absorbing nearly 8 percent of the greenhouse gas pollution that the U.S. emits.

It may not make economic. According to Yale Environment360, “Today, building new roads in the Tongass would cost an estimated$200,00 to $500,000 per mile. It’s madness. Especially considering that the bottom has fallen out of the timber industry in such a huge way that one recent proposed Forest Service sale, in a portion of the forest still open to logging, didn’t receive a single bid.”

Legal fights are coming so all is not lost for the Tongass.

https://www.ecowatch.com/trump-logging-tongass-national-forest-2647822178.html?rebelltitem=4#rebelltitem4

https://e360.yale.edu/features/let-it-be-why-we-must-save-alaskas-pristine-tongass-forest

Sept 23 2020 Wheeler Rebutted

 

I opened a newsletter-email and was forewarned not to read Wheeler’s recent speech to American Enterprise Institute, to read it sitting down. It should have said “don’t read with sharp objects near by.” It was upsetting and I wrote to an environmental group to which I belong and said “where’s the rebuttal?”. Well, here’s a good one reprinted. Do read this sitting, standing, or lying on a beach!

Wheeler seeks to paint EPA regulatory rollbacks as environmentally
 friendly

By Rachel Frazin <https://thehill.com/author/rachel-frazin> – 09/21/20 
12:54 PM EDT

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler 
<https://thehill.com/people/andrew-wheelerr> on Monday sought to portray 
some of the agency’s most significant regulatory rollbacks as 
environmentally friendly.

During a speech at the right-wing think tank American Enterprise 
Institute, the country’s top environmental official touted rules 
governing regulation from power plants, vehicle emissions and methane 
emissions as actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

He also praised the agency’s move to regulate aviation emissions.

“Just at EPA, the Trump administration in its first term has taken four 
concrete actions to reduce greenhouse gases,” Wheeler said.

However, some of the rules are expected to provide significantly fewer 
emissions reductions than the Obama-era rules they replaced.

One rule Wheeler highlighted was the SAFE vehicles rule 
<https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/490318-trump-administration-rolls-back-obama-era-fuel-efficiency-standards>, 
which requires automakers to produce vehicles whose fuel economies 
average 40 mpg by 2026 instead of the Obama administration’s 55 mpg by 2025.

The change is expected to result in an additional 867 million metric 
tons 
<https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/491608-trump-rollback-of-obama-era-mileage-standards-faces-challenges-in>of 
carbon emitted into the atmosphere through 2029.

Another rule touted by Wheeler is the Affordable Clean Energy Rule, 
which replaced 
<https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/449303-trump-admin-submits-final-rule-to-kill-obama-clean-power-plan>the 
Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan. The new rule gives states more 
time and authority to decide how to implement the best new technology to 
ease emissions from coal plants and does not set emissions caps.

Wheeler said Monday that the rule would reduce carbon emissions from 34 
percent from 2005 levels by 2030, while the Obama administration said 
its rule would reduce emissions 32 percent.

However, the agency’s analysis of the rule said that, compared to no 
regulation, it would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 11 million tons 
by 2030, while the agency estimated that the Clean Power Plan would 
reduce emissions by 415 million tons.

The Supreme Court issued a decision in 2016 that temporarily halted the 
Obama rule’s implementation.

Wheeler on Monday also touted rules “making it easier and less expensive 
for natural gas companies to capture fugitive methane emissions,” 
referring to emissions that accidentally leak out.

A new agency rule reduces the frequency of monitoring 
<https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/511915-epa-rescinds-methane-emissions-regulations-from-oil-and-gas-sector>for 
fugitive emissions from facilities that help process and transport 
natural gas by half and exempts small wells from monitoring for this.

His comments come as a Rhodium Group analysis estimated that actions 
taken by the Trump administration could cause the release of an extra 
1.8 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions 
<https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/517064-trump-rollbacks-could-add-18-billion-tons-of-greenhouse-gas
by 2035.

However, Wheeler also toed the line between characterizing his actions 
as good for the environment and criticizing the prior administration as 
too focused on climate change.

He criticized what he described as the Obama administration’s 
“overweening focus on climate change took the form of virtue-signaling 
in foreign capitals.”

During the appearance, he also sought to downplay the role of climate 
change on wildfires currently ravaging the West Coast.

“I believe that the forest fires in the west are mostly caused by poor 
forest management and not climate change,” Wheeler said.

Scientists have expressed 
<https://yaleclimateconnections.org/2020/08/climate-change-is-worsening-californias-hellish-wildfires/
concern 
<https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/climate-change-and-wildfires>that 
climate change contributes to heat and dryness that allow fires to 
spread more rapidly.

Many forests in these states are managed by the federal government 
rather than the states.

In a call hosted by the Biden campaign on Monday, former EPA 
administrators including Republicans, criticized Wheeler’s speech.

“All I can say is if he would just substitute ‘delete, destroy’ for the 
word ‘improve’ he’d be right on,” said Christine Todd-Whitman, a former 
New Jersey governor who also served as EPA administrator under the 
George W. Bush administration.”This administration has done more to roll 
back protections for human health and the environment than any I can 
think of.”

“Honestly this reminds me of President Trump 
<https://thehill.com/people/donald-trump>’s claiming to have done more 
for African Americans than Abraham Lincoln,” said former administrator 
Bill Reilly, who served under George H.W. Bush. “You go through these 
specific rules that have been proposed by the administration and an 
invariable characteristic of the defense of those rules is their 
reduction in cost.”