Wednesday, September 18, 2019

How Many Gallons Of Gas Differ Between Trump And Obama Administrations Emissions Standards?

Photo by Gab Pili on Unsplash

President Trump chose to take on the Middle East last weekend over oil and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia.  One report (a brief) drew my attention from Politico Energy regarding the difference between the Trump administration and the Obama administration's emissions standards.  Politico's reporter wrote that the difference in barrels of oil per day between emissions standards of both administrations was significant: 

The U.S. economy remains susceptible to the ebbs of the world's oil supply, Pro's Ben Lefebvre and Eric Wolff report . To be sure, U.S. and global oil inventories are ample and the dangers surrounding this weekend's attacks are being softened — for now — by the bounty of the decade-old fracking boom. But any sustained surge in oil prices, the pair reports, could create awkward questions about some of Trump's energy policies, including his plan to roll back automobile fuel efficiency standards, which would keep U.S. gasoline consumption about 500,000 barrels a day higher than it would be under the Obama administration's fuel efficiency rule.

Upon reading the difference of 500,000 barrels of oil a day, I was intrigued.  I started to wonder how many gallons of gas were equal to 500,000 barrels of oil.  From previous blog posts on this site, there are 42 gallons per barrel of oil.

Wow!  The difference between the two administration's policies is equal to 21 million gallons of gas a day.  If 21 million gallons of gas per day is multiplied by 365 days in a year, the total difference in gallons of gas is equal to 7,665,000,000 gallons per year.

President Trump assurance of the national oil supply should be received with caution.  Below are more blog posts showing the amount of oil the world has along with the amount of oil that the U.S. uses on an annual basis.

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Monday, September 16, 2019

Farmer's Perspective on Trump's Trade War: Interview

Photo: Civil Eats

The current Trade War with China has gained legs and started showing signs of financial distress.  Regardless of what President Trump has said on news stations, the economy is under stress due to the Trade War.  Don't take my word for the impact on American farmers.  Below are two videos which highlight the devastating effects of a Trade War.

The video below was taken from an article in the 'Wall Street Journal' titled "How to Get Rid of Carbon Emissions: Pay Farmers to Bury Them"

The next interview that is included is a brief discussion between MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell and Mark Zandi along with Jonathan Alter.

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Friday, September 13, 2019

President Trump Is Not A Weather Forecaster Nor A Scientist...Do Not Listen To Him

Throughout the last 2 and a half years, I have been trying to give President Trump the benefit of the doubt in any given situation.  I have looked at decisions and tried hard to see his perspective.  The last two weeks have been a roller-coaster of a ride for scientists and weather forecasters across the nation.  Those who are scratching their heads and wondering how the current events came to be.

Remember, Hurricane Dorian has wreaked havoc on the Bahamas.  The news has been filled with videos of the destruction.  In one scene, a Humvee is shown that was lifted up and propelled to land inside of a house.  That vehicle weighs on average around 6,600 lbs or 3 tons.  Imagine that vehicle being propelled into your living room. The storm has done an immeasurable amount of damage to regions traveled.

President Caught In A Lie?

On top of all of this horrible news, we have a president who chose to use old (outdated) weather information and broadcast that the state of Alabama would be hit.  The old data is shown below:

Photo: MSNBC Morning Joe

Upon closer inspection of the lower left-hand side of the weather map, the date of the infographic is shown.  Which is shown below and clearly states that the report is old:

On September 1st, President Trump sent out a 'tweet' shown below:

To which, the National Weather Service from Alabama immediately responded with the following 'tweet':

Next, he presented a poster from the National Hurricane Center and claimed that the state of Alabama would be hit.

A Great Story Never Dies Down...

Throughout the next week, the following weather map shown below would appear on ever national news channel.  If you look closely at the left-hand side of the white circle on the map, a black marker was used to extend the range of the storm to include the state of Alabama.

This is ridiculous.  This is an outright lie.  And still, President Trump continued to lie and say that the storm was going to hit the state of Alabama throughout the entire next week and a half.  What?

When the story did not die down but instead start to pick up the momentum, the Trump administration started to ramp up efforts to prove the president correct.

Why has the story grown legs over the last couple of weeks?

There are many reasons why the story has grown legs and continued to dominate the news cycle.  The first is that President Trump does not want to be perceived as wrong.  He is wrong.  Not only is he wrong in forecasting an incorrect fact, but his forecast is also illegal as shown below:

Last weekend, Jamie Pietruskia of the Washington Post, detailed in a perspective article the dangers of incorrect weather reporting.  She provided historical time points which pointed to widespread hysteria produced by incomplete forecasting.  Distorting weather facts can impact a wide range of industries from the manufacturing industry to the shipping industry not to mention farmers along with local government agencies.

As a result, Congress got involved to ensure that public information would be complete and accurate.  Which is why the current efforts by the Trump administration to undermine scientists and weather forecasters is so alarming.   Recently, the New York Times reported that the Commerce Department ordered the NOAA (National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration) to issue a response to the public which highlights that President Trump's forecast that Hurricane Dorian would have hit the state of Alabama was correct.  Yes, you read correctly.

The Trump administration continues to undermine science by holding the pervasive view that the President was correct and should be recognized as such.  There is an issue among many on which this stands to be a real danger to the public at large.

Above, I showed still images from the show 'Morning Joe' reporting on the incorrect weather forecasting.  The show was aired a week ago.  On that show, the weather forecaster who is shown in the pictures above highlighted the real dangers associated with the President's incorrect forecast.  He stated that the real adverse impacts of inaccurate reporting are:

1) The National Hurricane Center Maps are not for TV viewers but for Emergency Disaster Managers

2) During a given state of emergency, is the best use of the National Hurricane Center's time spent on clarifying the incorrect information coming out the of the highest office in the land?

The real problem with inaccurate information is that certain levers in local through the federal government are set in motion.  Levers which direct massive amounts of resources and money to be sent to specific geographic locations to respond to such disasters.  This means that massive amounts of money could be given to the state of Alabama when the true location is North Carolina or Florida.

All of this chaos is due to one man's inability to admit he was wrong?  What a disaster? President Trump needs to do what his job entails him to do -- preside over our nation.  He does not need to act like a scientist or a weather forecaster.  That is not what the American people elected him to do over the course of an elected term.  He needs to preside over national and international issues.  Just yesterday, US News and World Report still write about this disaster of reporting.  When will the chaos stop?  Have a good weekend.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Climate Change Continues To Threaten Coal Ash Flooding - Toxic Sites

Capitalism is useful to a certain extent.  Investors enjoy good returns.  American citizens enjoy great consumer products.  Sounds great right?  Life is seemingly good.  Except, where the greed of the corporate world outweighs the potential health concern of the American citizen.  When the danger is placed on the American citizen at the benefit of the investor's 'bottom line' (earnings), there is a problem which needs to be addressed.  Addressed by regulatory bodies which report to Congress on an annual basis.

How often is that regulatory oversight enforced to ensure that the American citizen is without harm?

Last month, Politico unveiled a potential problem which could negatively impact the waterways of America's rivers (and creeks).  Reporting by Politico has shown the increasing threat of coal ash sites across America:

CLIMATE CHANGE HEIGHTENS TOXIC WASTE THREAT: More than 100 sites storing toxic ash created from burning coal are located in areas at high risk of flooding, a situation that will grow more dire as climate change supercharges rain, floods and storms, according to a POLITICO analysis by your ME host. At issue are coal ash ponds and landfills within the FEMA’s Special Flood Hazard Area, known as the 100-year floodplain. The sites in this area face greater exposure to storms and floods that can spill waste into adjacent waterways and contaminate groundwater.
Most sites are already polluting groundwater, but the Trump administration is trying to weaken federal rules issued in 2015 designed to prevent contamination. Those efforts, combined with concern about slow cleanups, lax enforcement of existing standards and increasing risk from climate change, worry environmentalists and scientists. “That should be part of the equation, whether or not it’s safe to leave them here or whether that ash should be moved and landfilled somewhere far from bodies of water,” said Ellen Cowan, a scientist at Appalachian State University who has studied coal ash spills across the country.
Industry, however, contends utilities can safely close coal ash sites and prevent pollution, even if the ponds and landfills are in high risk flood zones. "The question of how to close really is a site-specific decision and you need to take a look at the site characteristics, where the groundwater is, where surface waters are," said Jim Roewer, executive director of the Utility Solid Waste Activities Group, a coalition of electric utilities.

The map showing the locations across the United States is shown below:

The infographic above shows just over 100 sites with potential coal ash ponds which could be a potential danger given a terrible storm.  Storms that are potentially weaker than recent Hurricanes which causes significant concern.  When will the public wake up to the reality? There is a side of the corporate world which does not have our (the public) interest at stake? 

Therefore, the regulatory agencies are the last hope of mitigating such a threat.  For that to occur, a discussion along with solutions regarding the real risks posed by climate change needs to happen. 

Contact your local politician and express concern.  Ask about potentially dangerous sites such as those shown above in your area.  Are you aware of any?  Does your local government know of any?  Ask friends?  Someone has knowledge of potential dangers within a given space.  Get educated and demand action.

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Monday, September 9, 2019

Does a Scientist grieve differently than another person?

Photo by Amplitude Magazin on Unsplash

I was recently made aware of a fiction author whose narrative of a new book was based on an interesting question regarding scientists and emotions.  The author Nell Freudenberger wrote a book about a female astrophysicist with the intention of answering the following question:

Does a scientist grieve loss differently than another person?

During her exploration, she interviewed many physicists for the content of her book.  She encountered one in which she asked the question above:

I wanted to write about a scientist who experiences a loss and how she approaches grief. I thought she would experience grief in a more scientific or rational way than the rest of us do. But by the time I got to the end of the book, I thought she might be prone to the same sort of magical thing we all have around loss and grief. I asked Imre if there was some part of daily life that he approached differently because he was a physicist. It took him a long time to think of something and he said finally, “Well, maybe flying, I’m not afraid of flying because I know how airplanes work and the risks involved. It’s much scarier to me to get into a car.” I did start to believe that a part of Helen could, if not believe in a ghost, at least question the events that are happening around her friend’s death in the same way that you or I might do—the same sort of magical thinking where the phone rings and you think maybe it’s the person calling, even though you know the person’s gone.

I am here to follow up with more information.  I am a scientist.  I go to the bathroom.  I have to eat occasionally when I am not working or playing.  I have to exercise to relieve stress.  I have anxiety at times.  I can laugh and cry.  I love to watch people when I am sitting at commercial venues.   Yes, I am human just like you.

Remember, we are all scientists at heart.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Ralph Nader: Labor Day and the Lost Opportunities for Labor Discussions

Photo: ABC News

The long weekend just passed.  One of several holiday weekends throughout the year which are celebrated by U.S. Citizens.  Typically, these weekends are viewed upon as 'day's off' to celebrate a given holiday or observe a special day.  Moreover, the observance is really a day of shopping, drinking, or just relaxing in the backyard by the swimming pool.  What we should ask ourselves is the following question:

How often have you been at a celebration on Labor Day and engaged in a discussion of relevant Labor Policies?

Chuck Todd, Labor Day, and Getting Serious
Labor Day has come and gone. To most people it’s a day off and a splash of sales. The symbolism and meaning that inspired this national holiday back in 1894 has long since dissipated. Labor Day parades are affairs of the past, with very few exceptions, and those that still exist are facing dwindling participation – in the era of Donald the corporatist, no less.
Part of this neglect stems from major unions and their large locals. Labor leaders, year after year, miss the opportunity to speak through the local and national media about what’s on their mind regarding the state of workers today. I have urged labor leaders to develop a media strategy for Labor Day, since it is their one big day to give interviews and submit op-eds. Having major events or demonstrations on the needs of working families would invite coverage.
Even the usual excuse that the corporate press is not that interested goes away on Labor Day. The major labor chiefs just don’t take advantage of this yearly opportunity. That is one reason why over the years, raising the minimum wage; adopting card checks for union-desiring workers; pressing for full Medicare for All; and repealing the notorious, anti-union Taft Hartley Act of 1947 have remained at such low visibility.
On the other hand, the editors and reporters are not exactly reaching out for, say, interviews of Richard Trumka, the former coal miner who rose through the ranks and became the head of the AFL-CIO labor federation in Washington, DC. Trumka vs. Trump has a nice ring to it, but someone has to hit the bell.
This Labor Day, The Washington Post and the New York Times had touching stories of workers in various jobs from a human interest point of view. There was little space devoted to labor policies, labor reforms, worker safety, the persistent private pension crisis, and the huge power imbalance in labor/management relations.
NBC’s Meet the Press, anchored by Chuck Todd, is symptomatic of the media’s indifference to showcasing Labor leaders on Labor Day.
Chuck Todd, the quick witted former citizen organizer, has lost control of his show to his corporate masters in New York City. He cannot even stop them from replacing his show entirely on the few Sundays when the NBC profiteers think there are more profits showing a major tennis, golf, or soccer tournament. My repeated complaints about this blackout to NBC chief, Andrew Lack, or to the corporatist chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, have received no reply.
Obviously, Chuck is working in a tough environment for any self-respecting journalist. But this past Sunday, Meet the Press reached a new low from its beginnings under the news-savvy Lawrence Spivak over 70 years ago. Meet the Press has become a ditto-head to the regular news shows’ saturation coverage. Todd covered Hurricane Dorian and the shootout in Texas, along with whether Joe Biden is too old for the Presidency. Repetitious and dull – he added nothing new for the audience.
The shrinking range of Meet the Press has been going on for some years. It focuses, with other network shows, on questioning politicians or their surrogates – sometimes the same guests on multiple shows – about inconsistencies, gaffes, thoughtless statements, or current political controversies. We don’t need to see yet another round with Trump’s Kellyanne Conway, who plays with Todd’s sharp questions.
The NBC corporate masters tell or signal to Todd who he can invite for his roundtable. He should never have corporatists from the American Enterprise Institute without having people from the Economic Policy Institute, Public Citizen, or Common Cause.
Brit Hume, before he went over to Fox, once told me that the real purpose of the Sunday shows was to let the Washington politicians have their say so they stay off the back of the networks. That was his way of explaining why the questions put to them were not as tough or deep as they could be.
Todd can be a tough questioner, but he is trapped in a cul-de-sac of predictability, trivia, and redundancy that demeans his talents.
Along with the other Sunday morning network news shows, Todd stays away from the all-important civic community – historically and presently the fountainhead for our democratic society. It is hard to name any blessing of America, great or small, that did not start with the work or demands of citizens. Improved civil rights and liberties, safer consumer products, workplace conditions and environments, nuclear arms treaties, and much more began this way. Citizen groups continue as watchdogs, documenting, litigating, lobbying, and pushing the powers that be on behalf of the American people.
In 1966, I was invited on Meet the Press by the legendary Lawrence Spivak to first highlight, on Sunday national TV, what needs to be done about unsafe cars. That helped auto safety action to move faster in Congress. The civic leaders of today are largely shut out from these forums. Civic startups cannot reach larger audiences and shape the politics of the day.
None of this is unknown to Chuck Todd. He has allowed his hands to be tied with golden handcuffs. One can almost sense his impatience with his roundtable guests spouting guarded opinions or conventional speculations suited to their current careers. But Chuck is very polite with them and his interviewees. As he has said, if you really go after these guests, they won’t come back next time. But why such a small pool? There are plenty of other fresh, courageous, accurate voices he can invite “next time.”  It’s that his corporate bosses won’t let him.
Todd has much more potential than to continue his increasingly trivialized, though sometimes temporarily sensationalized, role as an anchor of a withering show “brought to you by Boeing.” He should request reassignment or resign for more significant journalistic challenges. He really doesn’t need the money anymore.

In addition to enjoying time off of work, there are issues which are unanswered in the labor sector today, which could be discussed around the kitchen table while eating a celebratory meal.  From equal pay for men/women to safe working conditions at workspaces, plenty of issues remain on the table for discussion heading into the future.

As an example, consumers expect healthy food to be sold at stores around the United States.  Last December, Congress had to intervene in the beef industry and recall beef which was tainted with Salmonella.  This was in part in response to the unknown fact that the beef industry is not held to a standard of selling Salmonella free meat.  That is right, the beef industry is allowed to sell us (consumers) Salmonella tainted beef.  What?  Yep.

The beef industry is not alone in selling tainted products with Salmonella.  Chicken processing plants were under the microscope earlier in the year.  News broke about products contaminated with Salmonella sold by poultry manufacturers.  Part of the issue might be linked to the unsafe working conditions at poultry plants. 

Previously, in 2017, poultry manufacturers were asking Congress to allow processing line speeds to be increased over the limit (safe limit) of 140 birds per minute.  Under such unsafe conditions, workers health is at stake along with the products coming off of the processing line into the kitchen of American consumers.  That is not right.  These are just a few of the many unresolved issues which could be discussed on Labor Day.

Our inability to tackle such problems does not make them go away.  Awareness is part of the issue at hand.  Each American who is educated on such matters produces more aware customers.  Customers who will go out and think critically about the food that they purchase.  Further, discussing the issues which remain unanswered allows us to start to elevate the matter to a stage which might gain national attention.  No discussion equates to no action.  A debate on such issues needs to happen today.

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Thursday, September 5, 2019

What happened at last night's Democratic Climate Forum?

Last night the Democratic Party Candidates for the 2020 presidential election participated in a climate forum conducted by a panel of journalists.  The event started at 2 pm Pacific Time to span for 7 hours until 9 pm Pacific Time.  There was a tremendous amount of information brought to the stage on behalf of each candidate.  Each unveiled their respective solutions to the threats of climate change.

For those who missed the event (myself included), Politico Energy sent out a newsletter this morning with a summary of the 7-hour event:

TOWN HALL TAKEAWAYS: We watched all seven hours of CNN's back-to-back climate town halls, where the leading Democratic candidates showed the first signs of weaponizing climate change in the primary campaign, as POLTICIO's David Siders and Zack Colman report.
Here were the key takeaways:
— Former Vice President Joe Biden sidestepped questions about his political centrism. He got heat for a scheduled fundraiser hosted by the co-founder of an LNG company, Pro's Zack Colman reports . Biden initially denied an assertion that Andrew Goldman, co-founder of Houston-based Western LNG, was involved in the natural gas industry, but eventually conceded he would look into the matter.
Biden later added that his staff told him Goldman did not have any responsibility related to the company, was not on the board and he was not involved in its operations. But David Turnbull, strategic communications director of Oil Change US — a member organization of the No Fossil Fuel Money coalition — said that while it's true Goldman did not technically violate the No Fossil Fuel Money pledge, "it pretty clearly goes against the spirit of the pledge." (Read POLITICO Magazine's "CNN's Climate Forum Went Badly for Biden")
— Biden also settled into the role of political and climate realist. He said he would support a carbon tax, but suggested passing one would be difficult; said achieving net-zero emissions by 2030 doesn't appear possible and getting Congress to pass a national fracking ban would be unlikely; and said if the U.S. did everything it could to eliminate emissions, it still wouldn't be enough if other countries don't follow.
— Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders called for a phase-out of nuclear energy and a nationwide ban on fracking alongside massive public utility investment in renewable energy. Sander reiterated his plan to expand federal utilities to deliver 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030 and said Congress could likely pass his ambitious agenda through the once-a-year budget reconciliation process. "If your question is if we're going to need 60 votes to save the planet, the answer is no we will not," he said.
— Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren wants to eventually get the United States off of nuclear power, Pro's Eric Wolff reports. "We're not going to build any nuclear power plants and we're going to start weaning ourselves off of nuclear energy and replacing it with renewable fuels," Warren said.
— Sen. Cory Booker took a different approach and argued that nuclear power is necessary to achieve ambitious zero-carbon electricity timelines.
— Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) articulated a defense of existing nuclear plants as a carbon-free source of power, while opposing expanding use of the technology.
— Beto O'Rourke said he supported a cap-and-trade system to help reduce carbon emissions — the first time the former congressman committed to a form of carbon pricing for his climate plan.
— South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg largely tracked with his climate plan, but also pitched a religious and moral argument for combating climate change, comparing the issue to "a kind of sin."
— California Sen. Kamala Harris put herself on the side of banning fracking and offshore drilling. She also said she would get rid of the filibuster in order to pass a Green New Deal, as Pro's Anthony Adragna reports.
— Former HUD Secretary Juli├ín Castro said he would not support a nationwide ban on fracking for natural gas. Castro said he would ban oil and gas exploration on public lands and increase renewable energy to "get us to net zero [carbon emissions] by 2045."
— Entrepreneur Andrew Yang would end all federal subsidies for the fossil fuel industry but would not immediately seek to stop exports of fossil fuels, Anthony also reports.

The following infographic was included in the newsletter:

Politico Reporters David Siders and Zach Colman followed up this morning with a piece online which provided a little more depth into last nights debate.  The positive news was that the conversation has moved in the current election cycle from being presented to actual questions regarding National implementation (and costs associated with large-scale implementation).

A variety of reports on last night's long climate forum have appeared online today so far.  The reporters at Time magazine offered up a good overview of events.  You can read the 6 takeaways from last night in the article cited.  The video embedded in the column provided good sound bites.  From Bernie Sanders expressing the need to gather world support for combatting climate change to Andrew Yang suggesting a constitutional amendment as a start. There were, of course, lots in the middle...

Mayor Pete Buttigieg landed in the middle. He asked religious constituents of our nation: how a God could stand by and watch as dangerous gases are being injected into our atmospheres. The discussion hit a variety of constituent populations across the United States of America.  Beto O'Rourke boldly places a hold on all oil and gas leases -- along with exposing the actual cost of oil.  This includes all off-shore drilling.  Julian Castro asserted changes to the Civil Rights Act to include violations which result in environmental justice among low income (and vulnerable) communities.

Regardless of which plan goes into effect from either side of the aisle, combatting climate change needs a much higher priority than currently stands.  A national response is warranted given the severity of Hurricane Dorian on the East Coast now.  The cost of a solution stands at trillions of dollars over the course of decades.  Which is small in comparison to doing nothing and trying to deal with the threats which are presently arising from inaction.

Any solution involves creating new jobs which are suitable for the United States.  That may be difficult for the average American to believe now.  Although, as the progress toward a solution becomes more real, the evidence for benefits will become more apparent.

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