Monday, April 16, 2018

How Do Scientists Think?

Source: Inside Higher Ed

Welcome To Mike Thinks

How do scientists think?  I would suggest that scientists think more like you do than you might think.  Why?  Over the years of being a scientist -- after the formal educational process -- a comment that I frequently hear is that of the following: Scientists (you) think differently....your brain is wired differently.  Really? I would greatly disagree with that statement.  Scientists are curious people.  Kids are curious people.  Each of us were at one time point in history -- Kids.  Therefore, each of us at one time point where scientists.  Other professional scientists may disagree and say that there is a large difference.  Although, the underlying curiosity is the same along with the follow through of carrying out an experiment.  After an experiment is carried out, what is done with the results is the main differentiation.  Professional scientists will publish the results in their respective journals which serve as avenues to report their experimental findings (experimental results).   This begs the following question:

At what point does a child growing up curious (like scientists) reduce his/her curiosity to carry out experiments?

The answer to this question is the reason why all of the inhabitants (citizens) of the planet are not professional scientists.  Where did our thirst for curiosity disappear to?

Source: Corwin-Connect 

Of course, I have always held the opinion that we are all still scientists in our own unique manner.  In light of that, I have chosen to write about how I think on this blog post.  There are two main types of blog posts on this site to 'demystify the life of a scientist'.  The first deals with large numbers or various statistics reported in the popular news with no real context provided.  Take for example the oil spill in China shown below:

Source: The Guardian

At first sight, the picture appears to portray an extremely large oil spill.  The article which is discussed on a previous blog only serves to give us a total amount of oil spilled.  After which, I used dimensional analysis to compare the statistic of 136,000 metric tons of oil spilled (in the picture above) to past oil spills.  The results of the analysis indicated that the spill was small compared to previous spills.

A reader might not be able to infer that result just from reading the amount of oil spilled in 'units of metric tons' instead of 'gallons'.  This example (blog post) serves to justify learning the how to carry out the method of 'dimensional analysis' to compare numbers or at least cast them into context in order to get a better understanding of the reported statistic.

If you are interested in learning more about 'dimensional analysis,' then click here to read a recent post.  For a list of all of the blog posts written on this blog site that contain dimensional analysis, click here.

What about other relevant questions regarding the oil spill shown above?

Of course, the question of the magnitude of the oil spill might not have been your (the reader's) first concern or query.  Other questions regarding enormous amounts of oil spilled are:

1) What type of oil was spilled?

2) How harmful was the oil spill to the environment?

3) How long does the a large spill take to clean up?

4) How difficult is the clean up process?

5) What does the clean up process entail for such a spill?

6) How do authorities measure the total volume of the oil spill?

7) Why should I care about the oil spill?

If any of these questions might cross your mind after looking at the picture above, then the subject matter of 'science and the environment' -- of which a portion of the blog posts appear on this site might interest you.  Click here to access blog posts dealing with the questions above!


Are you convinced that we think alike?  That you really do think like a scientist?  If you are still not convinced that you are a scientist at heart, then click on either hyperlink below.  The first hyperlink is a list of blog posts which deal with statistics which are reported in the popular news.  Whereas the second hyperlink is a list of past blog posts which are concerned with the topics which occupy my mind and that of other scientists.  A look into my mind.  What am I concerned with or think about when reading any article?  Read and compare your thoughts.  You might find that you think more like a scientist than you previously thought.  Regardless, enjoy the reading and stay hungry to educate yourself by satisfying your undying curiosity.  Education is a life long process.

Index of past blog sites:

1) Dimensional Analysis Of Statistics And Large Numbers - Index Of Blog Posts

2) Science Topics, Thoughts, and Parameters Regarding Science, Politics, And The Environment!

Friday, April 13, 2018

What Is Dimensional Analysis?

Source: BrainStem

What is dimensional analysis?  Have you ever used dimensional analysis in your everyday life?  Here is the introductory description which is located on the Wikipedia page for "Dimensional Analysis":

In engineering and science, dimensional analysis is the analysis of the relationships between different physical quantities by identifying their base quantities (such as length, mass, time, and electric charge) and units of measure (such as miles vs. kilometers, or pounds vs. kilograms vs. grams) and tracking these dimensions as calculations or comparisons are performed. Converting from one dimensional unit to another is often somewhat complex. Dimensional analysis, or more specifically the factor-label method, also known as the unit-factor method, is a widely used technique for such conversions using the rules of algebra.[1][2][3]
The concept of physical dimension was introduced by Joseph Fourier in 1822.[4] Physical quantities that are of the same kind (also called commensurable) have the same dimension (length, time, mass) and can be directly compared to each other, even if they are originally expressed in differing units of measure (such as inches and meters, or pounds and newtons). If physical quantities have different dimensions (such as length vs. mass), they cannot be expressed in terms of similar units and cannot be compared in quantity (also called incommensurable). For example, asking whether a kilogram is greater than, equal to, or less than an hour is meaningless.
Any physically meaningful equation (and likewise any inequality and inequation) will have the same dimensions on its left and right sides, a property known as dimensional homogeneity. Checking for dimensional homogeneity is a common application of dimensional analysis, serving as a plausibility check on derived equations and computations. It also serves as a guide and constraint in deriving equations that may describe a physical system in the absence of a more rigorous derivation.

Wow!  Does that sound complicated?  Basically, what the description says above is that if you are comparing the mass of two oranges, both the units of measurement (weight) in this case have to be in the same 'units' - grams, pounds, kilograms, etc.  If you weight orange number #1 and report a weight of 70 grams, then try to compare a second orange's weight reported as 0.400 kg (kilograms) - then the comparison cannot be completed.

At least until you convert the weight of orange #1 to units of kilograms or weight #2 to units of grams.  If both weights were expressed in the same units -- say grams, then orange #1 weighing = 70 grams -- would be much smaller than orange #1 weighing = 400 grams.  The same logic applies to base quantities (dimensions) -- like length, mass, volume, height, speed, etc.

How about trying another route to clarify the description in the excerpt above.  If you have ever tried to follow a recipe while cooking, then chances are you have engaged in 'dimensional analysis' without knowing that you were doing so.  Don't believe me? Follow the quick cooking example below.

Example: Cooking

Here is a quick example of using 'dimensional analysis' in your kitchen.  Take the recipe shown below as an example:

The recipe above calls for 100 mL of milk.  That is 100 milliliters of milk.   What if the kitchen in which you are preparing the shake does not contain a 'measuring cup' shown below which is extremely useful in converting between different units of measurement:

Source: HomeDepot

Upon closer inspection of the image of a 'measuring cup' above, one can easily see a series of markings at different heights with different labels.  These labels indicate different volumes of measurement in different units.  According to the image of the recipe shown earlier, the amount of milk called for in creating the shake was 100 mL -- Which could easily be converted using the instrument above -- i.e. measuring cup.

Although, what would you do if you did not have a measuring cup within the kitchen in which preparation of the shake was taking place?  How would a person find the conversion factor to convert between units of 'milliliters' and units of 'cups'?  One easy method with the advent of the internet has been to resort to to a 'search engine' like 'Google' or 'Bing'.

Proceed to bring up a web browser and bring up and type in the search space: "How Many Milliliters In A Cup?" and the web page with the conversion (interactive) columns should appear as shown below:

Note: The conversion shown above is 'interactive' - which means that the labels are 'drop down' menus which can serve to change either 'units of measurement' or 'dimensions' (i.e. length, area, volume, time, speed, etc.).  Feel free to play with the web page to convert between units of various dimensions.

Next, with the conversion factor known which will assist us in converting between units of 'cups' and units of 'milliliters', the remaining step in the conversion is to carryout a mathematical operation as shown below:

The result indicates that in order to follow the recipe (approximately -- not precisely), roughly 1/2 cup of milk will correspond to 100 milliliters of milk.  Note that the conversion is approximate -- since 1/2 = 0.5 not 1/2 = 0.423 !!!

Is the method of carrying out a dimensional analysis problem is clear?  If the answer is yes, then you are ready to read past blog posts which mainly use 'dimensional analysis' to cast statistics reported in the news into perspective -- click here to access the index of past blog posts.  If you are not comfortable with carrying out 'dimensional analysis' problems, see the tutorial below.

Dimensional Analysis Tutorial

A Tutorial on Dimensional Analysis is shown below:

After watching the video above along with reading the content of the blog post so far, you may be wondering where to get conversion values if not from the internet.  Science textbooks have conversion tables.  After a quick search of conversion tables, the 'Accidental Scientist' appeared with a host of information.  Here is a screenshot of an example of a table of conversions below.  Note: if you click on the source, you will be directed to the site:

As you can see, there is no need to memorize conversions -- at least all of the conversions.  That is what reference materials are for when needed.


In the paragraphs above, the useful (and fun) method of carrying out calculations using 'dimensional analysis' was shown.  Armed with the power to carry out comparisons with conversion factors allows you to verify a large portion of statistics which are reported in the popular news on a day-to-day basis.  Is this useful?  Depends on how much energy that you choose to exert in understanding the process of using it to live a better life.

Understanding the power of comparison with conversion factors will add extra dimensions of happiness to your life.  How do I know?  When a person can visualize or comprehend the magnitude of a reported statistic by putting the value into perspective using dimensional analysis, the problem or subject matter of the news article becomes that much more useful to the reader.  Again, thank you for visiting the website and check out the dimensional analysis blog posts by clicking here.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Science Topics, Thoughts, and Parameters Regarding Science, Politics, And The Environment!

Source: FreePik

Hello and welcome to the "index of blog posts" which are concerned with 'science and the environment' along with other relevant topics.  Namely, the blog posts falling under the subject heading "Science & Politics: Why Is Science Research Now?"  Science covers a vast array of topics which can often make the field seem very complicated.  Nonetheless, this fact should motivate the reader (you) to engage and learn more about how science plays a large role in the environment in which we live along with the planet on which we live. 

Science is fun and engaging in the process of learning the wide range of how science is integrated into our society will inevitably allow you to be more empowered in society as a result.  Don't believe me.  Just read the topics below.  In the next paragraph, I briefly explain why I have decided to 'divide up' the index of blog posts from a single page into two pages.

The point of dividing the 'index of blog posts' up between those blog post which deal with large numbers or strange numbers reported in the mass media.  Plus, I have written a large amount of posts over the last few years.  Which means that navigating through a single page is not desirable.  The topics below are concerned with science (in general) along with science in our society.  This in turn means that science will be inserted into the popular news media on various levels.  I have split the blog posts below into three categories: (1) Longform reads, (2) Thoughts, and (3) Parameters. Here is my reasoning on subdivisions.

Long form reading takes time.  The point of the blog post is to teach or demystify my life as a scientist and how I (a scientist) views the world.  People have misconceptions about scientists which might even prevent them from engaging with scientists on various levels -- in everyday interactions (to cite one example).  In light of that misconception, I believe that expressing my thoughts and what I find to be relevant along with sharing with you will give you the best idea as to what is going on in my head. 

Last but not least, for those readers who do not have a tremendous amount of time to read 'long articles,' I have created two sections -- "Thoughts" and "Parameters".  The two words will appear before the blog post to specify the type of blog post.  If neither word is present, then there is no length restriction -- watch out -- I can easily blab on forever.  Here is a description of the difference between the two types of posts - which I wrote a few months ago into a blog post.  The summary is this:

Blog posts with "Thoughts" at the beginning are for the reader to see what I am interested in, but do not have the time to research (in depth) to explain on this site.  I reserve the right to return to a "thoughts" article and elaborate in the future.  These are "short" blog posts to spur 'thoughts' within the reader (and writer - me) to consider. 
  Whereas "Parameters" is meant to introduce a "parameter" which is part of an "equation" for a given topic.  For example, horse racing might be the topic.  The parameter chose was to consider the horses (injuries, strength, stamina) along with 'depth' or 'type' of dirt on which the track was made.  The 'type' of dirt along with the 'depth' of the dirt on the track turn out to greatly influence the speed and stamina of the horse in a race -- Who knew that?  The importance of posts with these two titles is to start the reader on an independent exploration into a given topic.  Or to give the reader a 'taste' of the topic without elaborating -- like I have presently now.  I will be quiet.

With that being said, enjoy the articles which deal with science and the world around us below.  Remember, the other page is mainly about statistics and numbers which appear in the media which need to be deconstructed further in my mind.  Enjoy!

Science & Politics: Why Is The Research Important Now?

Note: Posts are from recent to oldest

Government Accountability Office Offers Key Takeaway Points Regarding Discipline In Schools

Parameters: Shells Oil Corporation Invests In Renewable Energy Infrastructure

Ralph Nader Says 10 Million People Could Change Healthcare Policy - That Few?

Parameters: One Parameter Change In The Trade Machine Leads To A 'Re-Adjustment' Of Another

Was The Recent Oil Spill in China The Largest In History?

How Resilient Is Your Body Toward Infections?

Chemistry Reactions Are Amazing - See For Yourself

Parameters: Steel And Aluminum Tariffs Are Not Isolated - They Are Tied To Trading Of Other Vital Goods

Thoughts: How Did People Talk In 1929?

LimeBike Dockless Bikeshare Riders Travel A Distance Of 13,000 Miles In Just Over 3 Weeks?

Ralph Nader Suggests To Consumers Reading 'Consumer Reports' Before Impulse Buying

President Trump Just Allowed Greater Environmental Risk To Children's Health

Thoughts: Parting Statistics Leaving Black History Month

Example Of Tesla's Self Driving Car Feature - Video - Amazing!

Parameters: 3D Printed Human Hearts?

Thoughts: Good News - Education Secretary Calls On Senate To Have Gun Debate

Parameters: South Korea Uses Renewable Energy For Olympic Games

Parameters: You Are What You Aspire To Be

Thoughts: Showing A Little Deference With Others Works Well

Parameters: Can Computers Think?

Thoughts: Senator Bernie Sanders Asks Public To Get Involved In The Public Process At Any Level

Parameters: Individual Contribution Can Affect Humanity

Thoughts: Arnold Schwarzenegger Gets A Fly (Insect) Named After Him

Thoughts: Trump Administration Realizes Renewable Energy Is Here To Stay?

Thoughts: How Does A Government Shutdown Indirectly Affect The American People? Two Examples

Parameters: Obesity Short Circuit Discovered Leads To Overeating

Thoughts: Florida Gets Offshore Oil Drilling Ban - Why Not Pacific Coast Too?

Thoughts: Ralph Nader On A Cashless Economy

Thoughts: Candidate Trump Wants States To Have Power, President Trump Wants To Withdraw States Power?

Happy New Year 2018 - What's New On Mike Think's??

Do You Need Clean Air To Breathe? An Introduction To Environmental Justice

How Do LED Christmas Lights Work?

Teachers Are Stressed During The Semester: Trust Me -- I Am Married To One!

French President Macron Organizes Climate Conference With Pledges Of Trillions Of Dollars For Climate Risk Management From World Organizations

Ralph Nader Asks "Will the Federal Civil Service Defend Us?"

Coal Magnate Murray Shames Fossil Fuel Industry For Being "Forward Thinkers" For Energy

Trump Administration's Enthusiasm For Coal Energy At Bonn (Germany) Is Met With Disappointment

Environmental Protection Agency Is Under Fire For Recent Hires With Ties To Industry

Make A Huge Impact Considering The "Law of Averages"

Republicans Take Away Undocumented Immigrants Tax Cuts?

Veteran's Day -- A Day To Be Thankful

EPA Blatantly Suppresses Scientific Results Regarding Climate Change?

A Virtual Tour Of A Plant Cell? Really?

Dr. Francis Collins and Bill Gates Discuss Global Health And Genomics

A Virtual Tour Of A Human Cell?

Subscribe And Receive 'Mike Thinks' Blog Posts Hot Off The Press!!

Richard Branson's Son Produces Short Films To Illustrate The Devastation By Hurricane Irma

What Does Testifying Before Congress Look Like For Secretary of Energy Rick Perry?

Puerto Rico Aid Should Not Be A Partisan (Political) Issue

Natural Disasters Hit, What Happens to School Students?

Teacher Starts A Conversation Rather Than Lecturing From High In The Ivory Tower

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma Hit USA While Politicians And Agency Directors Still Deny Contribution Of Climate Change

Local Politicians Are Leaving President Trump Behind In Continuing To Meet Paris Climate Agreements

Is Dr. Michael Dourson Good For The EPA?

EPA Director Finally Realizes Reality Of Trying To Roll-Back Obama Era Clean Air Act Regulation

Activist Ralph Nader Speaks Out On Lack Of Funding For Federal Agencies - Finally!

Puerto Rico Crops Devastated By Hurricane Maria

What Are University Presidents Saying About Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Leaving Title IX ??

Republicans Endorse Carbon Tax For Climate Change? Wow

Democrats Question EPA Adminstrator Scott Pruitt On Historical Job Cuts At EPA

It's A Team Effort Between Humans And The Robots: Amazon

How Can The Paris Climate Agreement Be "More Favorable To The U.S."???

Food and Drug Administration Releases Statement Regarding Crop Protection During Hurricanes Harvey and Irma

Environmental Groups Question Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Cuts

What Does An Official Letter From The White House Requesting Funds For Hurricane Harvey Look Like?

Activist Ralph Nader Gives Politicians Advice Post Hurricane Harvey

President Trump Is Repairing National Infrastructure While Ignoring Weather Patterns

How Is Our Environment (Climate, etc.) Becoming Politicized?

Universities Are Jumping On Board With States To Pick Up Paris Climate Slack

Future Outlook By New York Times Columnist Thomas Friedman

Risks To The World By Activist Ralph Nader

Who Is In Charge Of The Department Of Energy?

There Is No Climate Debate -- Scientific Facts Have Settled The Issue?

Why Not List Adverse Effects On Drug Labels?

Activist Ralph Nader Calls To Each Pillar Of Society - A Call To Action.

A Good Start: Republicans Accept Climate Change As Real

How Did The U.S. Benefit From The G20 Summit in Hamburg Germany?

What Is Going To Be Discussed At The G-20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany?

President Trump's Understanding of the Paris Agreement

Stand Up Comedy Takes Practice to Perfect - Seriously.

Reduce Ignorance, Increase Intelligence...Its That Simple Graduates!

Judge Suggests Revisiting Environmental Concerns Of The Dakota Access Pipeline

Does Alcoholics Anonymous Work?

Trump Goes Right On Paris Agreement, Part Of U.S. And World Head Left

T.G.I.F., Anti-Aging Skin Care, Bicycle Riding, and more.

World Goes Left, While Trump Leads Right - On Climate - Why?

Happy Memorial Day!! Here Are A Few Statistics To Consider...

Is This Behavior Presidential - President Trump?

Paris Climate Agreement Is A Start Toward The Renewable Energy Future

Why Is The Science March Important?

Congress Is Not Being Honest With The Public By Passing The HONEST Act?

Chemists Learn To Build Up Nanoparticles -- One Atom At A Time!

What Molecules Make Up Your Lifestyle Fingerprint?

Why Would A President Choose To Deregulate The Environmental Protection Agency?

Undergraduate Institution Leads The Change In Publications -- Yeah!

What Does America Drinking Water Look Like With Little-to-No Regulation?

President Trump's Immigration Rhetoric Damages International Science Student Enrollment

Friday, April 6, 2018

Government Accountability Office Offers Key Takeaway Points Regarding Discipline In Schools

Source: Find Au Pair

How does a teacher deal with a difficult student?  Throw the student out of class?  Let them continue to be disruptive and focus on the students who are being attentive?  I often wonder what parents think appropriate answers are to the questions above and below (in the post below).  The reason why I bring the subject up was due to an e-mail which caught my eye with the following "key findings" from a study done by the Government Accountability Office regarding discipline in our education.  Below are some findings and thoughts.  Feel free to share any comments/suggestions that you may have after reading the following excerpts.

Discipline In Education?

According to Politico Education (in the form of an e-mail), the following 'key takeaways' were found regarding "school discipline' in the recent report by the Government Accountability Office:

Boys overall were more often disciplined than girls, but the pattern of disproportionate discipline affected both black boys and black girls - the only racial group for which both sexes were disproportionately disciplined in every way: In-school and out-of-school suspensions, expulsion, corporal punishment, referral to law enforcement and school-related arrests.

- Minority students with disabilities are hit especially hard. Nearly a quarter - 23 percent - of black students with disabilities were suspended from school. More than 20 percent of American Indian and Alaskan Native students with disabilities were suspended from school. More than 25 percent of students who identify as two or more races and have disabilities were suspended.

- Poverty is a factor: The GAO found that when there were greater percentages of low-income students in a school, there were generally significantly higher rates of all types of discipline. But black students, boys and students with disabilities were still disciplined disproportionately, regardless of the level of school poverty. And, as was the case in every type of school, black students bore the brunt of it. In high-poverty schools, they were overrepresented by nearly 25 percentage points in suspensions from school, according to the report.

- The disparities can be a drag on the economy . The GAO report notes that research has shown that students who are suspended from school are less likely to graduate on time and more likely to drop out and become involved in the juvenile justice system. "The effects of certain discipline events, such as dropping out, can linger throughout an individual's lifetime and lead to individual and societal costs," the report said. It pointed to one study of California youth that estimated that students who dropped out of high school because of suspensions would cost the state about $2.7 billion. Another study the GAO referenced estimated that Florida high school students who drop out earn about $200,000 less over their lifetimes.

Wow!  All children and adults (in college) deserve to be treated equally.  That includes discipline as well.  Why are there differences in discipline rates?  Part of that might be attributed to 'implicit bias' from the faculty to students.  At the university level, there are programs which have begun to address these longstanding issues which have been ignored for so long.  What about at the K-12 level? I do not know personally.  If any reader does, please feel free to comment in the box below.

I have said this time and time again on this blog site that our educational system is great need of a 'reform.'  In fact, at my own university (of employment), I have spoken with the department chair of education and asked how to achieve 'true reform'.  His answer at the time was that the process is similar to 'optimizing a manufacturing process.'  That is, make a change and test the result.  Follow the first change by a second and so on -- continuously optimizing the educational system in the process.

If that is what has been occurring for the last few decades, then why do we find ourselves in this predicament?  With the lowest test grades on an international average?  With extremely high and disproportionate discipline rates?  When is true improvement going to occur?  I do not pretend to have the answer.  And I have a large amount of respect for those teachers who find themselves on the front lines -- battling for the change -- positive change.


School suspension does not work.  Why?  I was suspended and I found myself sitting in my room in Junior high school with a mother who had to take the day off of work to deal with me.

Source: Positive Parenting

At the time, my mother was able to take the time off from work.  Imagine those parents who do not have the option to do so?  Their child roams free in the streets (potentially) and enjoys the day off from school.  As a result, what is intended as a day of 'self reflection' for the student seems to be a day of relaxation -- quite the opposite effect.

What is the answer?  I wish that I knew.


One possibility is that all of us work together to find one.  Regardless of whether you are a school official or a member of society, take part (interest) in each child's educational process.  How is that achieved?  That is still a question which is being answered.  Although, if you know of any children who are missing school or neglected due to discipline issues, get involved in improving their chances to attend school. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Parameters: Shells Oil Corporation Invests In Renewable Energy Infrastructure

Source: Off Shore Wind

Over the last few years, various corporations have started to divest from investments into the fossil fuel industry.  Additionally, bits and pieces of news have surfaced over the same years suggesting that big oil companies are following suit.  Chemical & Engineering News reports briefly that another large investment has occurred with the following story shown below:

Shell will buy a 43.8% stake in the U.S. solar developer Silicon Ranch from private investment firm Partners Group for $217 million. With the move, Shell joins other European oil majors that are looking to renewable energy to diversify their future sources of revenue.
“With this entry into the fast-growing solar sector, Shell is able to leverage its expertise as one of the top three wholesale power sellers in the U.S., while expanding its global new energies footprint,” says Marc van Gerven, Shell’s vice president of solar. Silicon Ranch builds and operates large-scale solar installations on behalf of electric cooperatives, corporations, and the military. The company says it has 880 MW of projects underway in 14 states and a development pipeline of 1 gigawatt. Shell’s move comes four months after France’s Total bought a 23% stake in the solar and wind energy producer EREN RE for $285 million. Total also owns a majority stake in the solar panel maker SunPower. In 2010, the British oil company BP famously shuttered its solar power business, claiming it was unable to make profits manufacturing solar panels. The company closed all of its solar manufacturing facilities and laid off 1,750 workers. But in December 2017, BP returned to the sector, buying a stake in the solar project company Lightsource for $200 million. “We’re excited to be coming back to solar, but in a new and very different way,“ said BP CEO Bob Dudley at the time. The U.S. continues to be a hot market for large solar projects. According to market tracking firm GTM Research, about 8.1 GW of utility scale installations were deployed in 2017. The company expects new U.S. installations to dip to 6.5 GW this year before rebounding to 9.0 GW in 2019. The new U.S. tax bill preserves previously threatened tax credits for wind and solar energy production. Shell’s solar investment is a drop in the barrel compared to its profits from oil and gas extraction. Despite low average oil prices of $52 per barrel, the company’s 2017 third-quarter earnings were $4.1 billion.

Wow.  Although, this should not be surprising given a previous blog post I wrote last year regarding a massive reinvestment in renewable energy.

The world is moving toward renewable energy sources.  More broadly, the public is moving (in demand) toward 'greener chemicals' in their consumer products.  'Green chemicals' are chemicals or chemical processes which reduce the amount of toxic chemicals.  Recently, with the movement toward renewable sources of energy, the chemical industry along with other industries have been under pressure to adhere to more sustainable (safe and environmentally friendly) processes and products to market.


Ultimately, the news above is not too surprising given the direction the world is headed in the next few decades.  Past blog posts have reinforced the information above which suggest that increasingly further industries are starting to transition toward incorporating renewable resources into their infrastructure.  With this being said, this also contributes to the surprise of industry experts (and lobbyists on the whole) when hearing of 'rolling back' Obama era climate policies.  Industries are heavily invested in transitioning toward a more sustainable future -- which includes renewable energy.

Related blog posts:

Thoughts: Trump Administration Realizes Renewable Energy Is Here To Stay?

Do You Need Clean Air To Breathe? An Introduction To Environmental Justice

Environmental Entrepreneurs Weigh In On Repealing The Clean Power Plan

EPA Blatantly Suppresses Scientific Results Regarding Climate Change?

EPA Director Finally Realizes Reality Of Trying To Roll-Back Obama Era Clean Air Act Regulation

How Can The Paris Climate Agreement Be "More Favorable To The U.S."???

Paris Climate Agreement Is A Start Toward The Renewable Energy Future

Friday, March 30, 2018

Ralph Nader Says 10 Million People Could Change Healthcare Policy - That Few?


Today is Cesar Chavez Day.  In case you need a quick reminder of who Cesar Chavez is, here is the introductory excerpt from Wikipedia:

Cesar Chavez (born César Estrada Chávez,[1] locally [ˈsesaɾ esˈtɾaða ˈtʃaβes]; March 31, 1927 – April 23, 1993) was an American labor leader and civil rights activist who, with Dolores Huerta, co-founded the National Farm Workers Association (later the United Farm Workers union, UFW) in 1962.[2] Originally a Mexican American farm worker, Chavez became the best known Latino American civil rights activist, and was strongly promoted by the American labor movement, which was eager to enroll Hispanic members. His public-relations approach to unionism and aggressive but nonviolent tactics made the farm workers' struggle a moral cause with nationwide support. By the late 1970s, his tactics had forced growers to recognize the UFW as the bargaining agent for 50,000 field workers in California and Florida.

Cesar Chavez was an extremely influential activist who understood that by liberating people to unionize or collectively call for rights -- change could be accomplished.  Here is one of my favorite quotes from Cesar Chavez:

"Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot un-educate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore."

Society needs activists like Cesar Chavez to energize and teach people the simple fact of individual and collective power.  Each of us has a right to vote or express our opinions to our elected officials and demand equal rights.  Furthermore, if those individual rights are not granted or respected, then individuals can collectively gather (unite) and demand change on a larger (state and national) scale.

Healthcare Policy Change?

Currently, this is occurring to an extent with the students in Florida in regards to changing local and national gun laws.  If these students continue to be ignored by politicians, then the most powerful change that collectively can be made is to head to the voting polls and exert their power during elections.  This begs the obvious question:

How many citizens need to unite to promote change?

The answer is fewer than one person might think.  Don't believe me?  Read the excerpts below.

Healthcare has been under attack with the new administration over the last few years.  Why should each American citizen not have access to proper healthcare?  Especially in an advanced society such as the United States?  Activist Ralph Nader suggests that just 10 million people (out of the total U.S. population  of 400 million) could change the course of healthcare policy as shown below:

Ten Million Americans Could Bring H.R. 676 into Reality Land—Relief for Anxiety, Dread and Fear
Polls show that over 125 million adults in our country already favor full Medicare for all, with free choice of doctor and hospital without stifling networks. I say ‘already’ because, as of yet, there is no major national campaign underway showing that an ‘everybody in, nobody out’ system of health insurance costs less, with better outcomes, is simpler, without maddeningly inscrutable or fraudulent  bills, co-pays, deductibles and additional trap doors set by a bunch of greedy corporations. The campaigns that exist today are receiving too little on-the-ground assistance for such a widely-supported issue.
A super-majority of only 535 members of Congress—Senators and Representatives—can make that decision. The bill—H.R. 676, the ‘Expanded & Improved Medicare for All Act’—is now supported by 121 House Democrats—two thirds of all the Democrats in the House of Representatives. So that’s a good start.
H.R. 676 has been referred to several, regular, Committees of the House whose Chairs are all Republican corporatists. So there have been no public hearings. The bill, not surprisingly, is not moving at all.
Millions of Americans have had the bitter experience of denials of health care, staggering bills, pay-or-die drug prices and even loved ones dying because they couldn’t afford health insurance (about 35,000 a year based on Harvard Medical School experts).  So, in the next month, imagine what would happen, if just ten million of the 125 million who support full Medicare for all wrote, telephoned or emailed their two Senators and Representative demanding action and a written response by their lawmakers (who don’t pay postage).
Just ten million Americans making the least difficult effort—perhaps ending with a demand for a town meeting back home to educate the negative solons—would strike the Congressional Dome like a thunderbolt. Are there a dozen leaders among you up for launching such an electrifying internet mobilization?
Not to be confused with other lesser health insurance bills, mostly in the Senate, H.R. 676 is the real thing. It covers ‘all individuals in the U.S. with free health care that includes all medically necessary care, such as primary care and prevention, dietary and nutritional therapies, dental services, and vision care.’ No more premiums, co-pays or gaping deductibles.
How does H.R. 676 pay for all these services? Five ways:
" (1) from existing sources of government revenues for health care, (2) by increasing personal income taxes on the top 5% of income earners, (3) by instituting a progressive excise tax on payroll and self-employment income, (4) by instituting a tax on unearned income (such as on capital gains), and (5) by instituting a tax on stock and bond transactions. Amounts that would have been appropriated for federal public health care programs, including Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (SHIP), are transferred and appropriated to carry out this bill."
Presently, all Canadians are covered at an average per capita cost half of what Americans—insured and uninsured—are having to spend for health care. The system proposed in H.R. 676 is similar to Canadian Medicare. It includes public funding and free choice of private delivery of health care. It also has provisions for better record keeping, prevention and quality control. There is even transition retraining for all those clerical and administrative jobs that would not be necessary after displacement of the present bloated, wasteful, redundant health care sub-economy.
What would happen to the giant health insurance companies such as Aetna and United Healthcare? They would be prohibited from selling insurance that duplicates the benefits provided under H.R. 676. They could only sell benefits that are not deemed ‘medically necessary,’ such as certain cosmetic surgery operations.
Rep. Keith Ellison (Dem.-Minn.), the deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), is officially the lead House Democrat on the bill, which indicates that the DNC may be getting a little more interested in endorsing such legislation.
Meanwhile, Rep. Ellison is talking it up everywhere he travels. He says:
"One of the consistent applause lines we’re all hearing is: ‘We need Medicare for all.” There’s a lot of folks who feel that it’s time for us to organize around that. It’s a better policy, at a better price. People in labor, people all over the country, they’re going to be driving the public conversation, raising the dialogue about this….What some people think is a really important progressive position is just what the rest of the industrialized world does."
Medicare for all is what the Pentagon does. It is what President Harry Truman wanted from Congress back in the nineteen forties!! It is time.
So will the first ten million Americans step up and be counted by sending messages directly to their Senators and Representatives in the month of April? The amount of time required to send a letter, an email or a telephone call is so brief that activated citizens could be called the modern “Minutemen” for universal health insurance. Just think of all the tasks you do every day that take far more time, like trying to figure out bills, denials, exclusions, from this basic human right.
Go to to get the details, the motivation and the groups with which to connect. The Congressional telephone switchboard is 202-224-3121. Make sure to give your legislators your name and contacts; they’ll take the call or letter more seriously.

Ralph Nader speaks the truth in many ways.  Again, one of most profound realizations I have discovered participating in local politics is that the amount of people (citizens) needed to make changes in local government is surprisingly small.  Each of us needs to remember that realization and spread the word along with holding this thought with us as we traverse life on a day-to-day basis.  We are the ambassador's toward change.  Below is an example of collectively uniting to promote change on a national level.

Take for example, a movement of people recently who rallied across the nation to 'save the EPA'.  Here is an excerpt from that building movement which had a surprising effect at a national level:

Something amazing happened in Washington last week: Congress rejected Trump’s draconian cuts to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s budget and a host of other critical federal programs. In the end, the president had no choice but to sign the 2018 federal budget into law.
None of this could have happened without a groundswell of activism – tens of thousands of citizen petitions and phone calls over the past 13 months, pounding away on lawmakers. Many of them face tough mid-term elections, and the political risk of gutting the EPA ultimately proved too great.
It wasn’t Congress that ultimately saved the EPA – it was you.
A time to celebrate – and to stay vigilant
My organization alone collected more than 125,000 signatures from people opposing Trump’s plan to slash 30 percent of the agency’s budget. Over the past year, public opinion polls have consistently shown that Americans support clean air and water safeguards, and that they oppose the idea of a decimated EPA.
Congress listened and this will mean less pollution, healthier kids and – in the stark terms of Washington calculations – a greater recognition that attacking environmental safeguards is bad politics.
It’s a genuine moment for celebration – but also a reminder to all of us that this fight must go on.

Amazing.  Can you believe that was accomplished by people around the nation?  Imagine if each city in the nation had 100 people on standby to call their respective politicians on any given issue.  That would equal millions of people.  Politicians would be blown away.


Change starts from the ground level.  Iconic activists such as Cesar Chavez and Ralph Nader can only do their respective parts to energize the masses to collectively demand equal rights and resources.  Read more (at the end of the blog post - list of blog posts) from Ralph Nader about how to promote change on various levels.  Each of us need to remember that power is within our reach.  Further, the ability to collectively gather and demand change is within our reach too.  Change demands effort from each of us.

The next time that anyone is complaining about rights and representation, think about this blog post.  Ask yourself, what is that individual doing to promote change?  If that individual is you, then ask yourself, why are you complaining instead of implementing action?  Change is scary.  Change is unknown too.  In the sense that promoting change entails facing the unknown and possibility of failure (in the form of opposition).  Although, when change is implemented, the barrier toward change is progressively and incrementally lowered over time.

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Monday, March 26, 2018

Parameters: One Parameter Change In The Trade Machine Leads To A 'Re-Adjustment' Of Another

Source: Ottumwa Courier

Over the last few weeks after President Trump announced imposing tariffs on Steel and Aluminum, there has been talk of 'retaliatory measures' on exports leaving the United States.  Yes, our farmers will pay the prices for the decision to impose tariffs on indirect products which are tied together on a commodity level.  I wrote about this in a previous post.  How does this affect the U.S. consumer?  Get ready for quite possibly higher food costs -- agricultural produce to start with.  I recently received the following excerpt in my e-mail box from 'Politico Agriculture' shown below:

HOW A TRADE WAR THREAT COULD SQUEEZE AG: Farmers and ranchers, and their representatives in Washington, have spent much of President Donald Trump's 14 months in office warning that the agricultural industry would be collateral damage in a tit-for-tat trade war. It seems their fears have been confirmed, after China released a lengthy list of $3 billion worth of products it has set up for reciprocal tariffs - including pork, nuts, fresh and dried fruits, and wine, Pro Ag's Catherine Boudreau and Helena Bottemiller Evich report this morning.
China's action was in response to Trump slapping new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, which took effect on Friday for countries that the president decided not to exempt. Additional retaliatory measures aimed at U.S. farm products could be on their way after Trump unveiled another action last week that could impose tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese goods over intellectual property concerns.
Pork producers - and prices - are already feeling the strain, even without the threatened tariffs in place. The U.S. shipped more than $1 billion of products to China last year, making it the No. 3 destination for exports after Japan and Mexico.
"This is an incredibly risky gamble on the president's part, and quite frankly, I wish he was gambling with someone else's money," said Brian Duncan, who raises 70,000 hogs and grows 4,000 acres of corn in Ogle County, Ill. He noted that the market price of lean hogs dropped $9 in two days last week. "There are real people's lives at stake in this game of brinkmanship."
Dennis Nuxoll, vice president of federal government affairs for Western Growers, told POLITICO that the president could use other avenues - such as the World Trade Organization - to address trade disputes with China without sending ag markets on a rollercoaster.
Talks still going: The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday evening that China and U.S. officials were quietly discussing issues ranging from financial services to manufacturing. That could serve to de-escalate trade tensions.
The talks may not be all that secret, though. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Fox News Sunday that the administration was moving forward with imposing tariffs on Chinese imports and restricting Chinese investment, but said he was "cautiously hopeful" that the two countries could reach an agreement.
"We're simultaneously having negotiations with the Chinese to see if we can reach an agreement," Mnuchin said.

I am not that impressed over the last sentence.  The reason being is that our country got us into this mess.  The concept of 'free trade' has benefits which cannot be understated.  Each country benefits from security of goods (traded goods) by ensuring trust through relationships.  As I mentioned in a previous post, the complex machine will make adjustments (the trade machine) if adjustments are made to any one part of the system at a given time.  The overall adjustments (outcomes) of the small adjustments are not always predictable -- i.e. a trade war.

This is serious business when the administration plays with the lives and well being of the farmers of our nation.  The farmers who supply goods -- food to us - consumers who purchase goods at the market (grocery store).


The next time that you find yourself in the grocery store wondering why the cost of soybeans or other crops have gone up, remember the decision made by President Trump - tariffs on Steel and Aluminum -- which caused instability in the global trade market.  Where do we go from here?  Who knows?  We will see in the months to come as each nation responds in their respective manner with tariffs on U.S. exports.  Regardless, instability in the trade system (global trade system) is not good for anyone - regardless of what is said in the newspaper or in Washington.

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