Posts Tagged Environment

CLIMATE CHANGE! WHAT DID EXXON KNOW, AND WHEN DID IT KNOW IT?

I expect to be writing a post tomorrow, which describes a report on Global Warming, which scientists leaked, fearing that it was too important for the Donald Trump Regime to just cover it up.  This re-post cites the fact that, beginning in 1977, Exxon scientists strongly believed that Global Warming is a man-made phenomena, caused by our use of fossil fuels.  The company’s Chief Scientist briefed the Executive Management Committee, in 1977 and again in 1978, and management just ignored it.

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EXXON KNEW THE MAJOR CAUSE OF CLIMATE CHANGE IN 1977, AND IT HAS BEEN SPENDING MILLIONS, MAYBE BILLIONS, EVER SINCE DENYING IT.

Way back in 1977, Laura Shaw, a 12 year-old, won her class science fair, in Cranford, N. J, with an experiment about the so-called “greenhouse effect”.  She filled two identical vessels with water and a thermometer.  Then, Ms. Shaw covered one with plastic wrap, and turned a lamp on them.

After a period of time, the vessel with the plastic wrap registered a higher temperature than the uncovered one.  She surmised that the plastic wrap created the same effect as carbon dioxide, which traps reflected heat from the Sun, thus warming the Earth.

You or I might have thought that our children were young geniuses to have found that relationship, between a plastic cover and global warming; however, Ms. Shaw had some expert assistance. As it turns out, her father is Henry Shaw, and at that time, he was one of the Exxon scientists who were specifically researching the effects of global warming—more specifically, that which was caused by carbon dioxide, created by man-made emissions.

Exxon (now ExxonMobil) was aware of climate change as early as 1977, eleven years before the problem became known by the general public.  In fact, besides formulating various climate models, the oil company also outfitted a tanker to study how much CO2 was absorbed by the oceans.  And, in July of 1977, Exxon’s senior scientist, James Black, delivered a sobering message on the topic.

Mr. Black advised Exxon’s executive management committee that: “… there is general scientific agreement that the most likely manner in which mankind is influencing the global climate is through carbon dioxide release from the burning of fossil fuels.”  One year later, he warned the same group that there was general scientific agreement that the “…doubling of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere would influence global warming by two or three degrees.”  Black than suggested—now in 1978, mind you—that mankind had a five to ten year window in which to make hard decisions, since energy strategies might become critical. Exxon needed to act!

Rather than make the hard decisions—developing cleaner-burning fuels, teaming with the coal industry to follow suit, and considering renewable energy–Exxon, Chevron, Mobil, Shell, BP, and Peabody Coal, just stuck their collective heads in the sand.  They formed a the American Petroleum Institute, a non-profit organization to manage the disinformation of declaring that “Climate Change is a Hoax”.  In fact, they hired the same public relations firm that Big Tobacco had hired to deny tobacco’s link to lung cancer, some years before.

To use the old cliche about Nero fiddling while Rome burned would be a very serious understatement.  Considering that five of those energy companies were in the Standard and Poor’s 500, money was of little consequence, especially when it comes to fighting for the Industry’s very survival.

Energy lobbyists convinced Washington not to sign the Kyoto Protocol, from the U. N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (as of 1990 emission levels). As one of world’s two biggest polluters, along with China, it is imperative that the U. S. ratify the Protocol, set meaningful CO2 reduction goals—and stick to them! Will there be more success this week—now 25 years later?

Currently, both Houses of the U. S. Congress, have appointed loyal climate change deniers, from oil-dependent states, to head the various committees that are supposed to oversee science and the environment:

Senator James M. Imhofe (R-OK) is Chairman of the House Committee on the Environment. Last February, Senator Inhofe brought a snowball into the Senate Chamber under the false assumption that that proved that “Climate Change is a Hoax!” (Remember the API Mission Statement?)  On the contrary, however, the snowball merely demonstrated the opposite, as described in a prior blog post.

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), and also a GOP candidate for President, heads the Sub-Committee on Space, Science and Competition.  Cruz’ sub-committee delayed the updated NASA satellites, which provide vital weather information worldwide.  Smart move, huh?
And, Congressman Lamar S. Smith (R-TX) is Chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.  When faced with broad testimony by earth scientists that man is definitely accelerating global warming, Smith began investigating the scientists, and thus taking them away from their important research. Attacking the messengers, in other words.

Oddly enough, when those who deny Climate Change wish to provide their own “expert” scientific testimony, they have turned to Wei-Hock Soon. Although Dr. Soon is a respected scientist, he is currently employed by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Over the past decade, Dr. Soon’s research and his funding ($1.2 million) have come largely from fossil fuel interests.  Some of that funding has allegedly been linked to Southern Company (a large utility) and the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation.  (Mr. Koch is a co-owner of Koch Industries, a very large privately-owned energy company.)

Aside from all of the claims and counter-claims, on both sides of the Climate Change issue, there is basic evidence all around us: melting glaciers; rising tides; wildfires and droughts worldwide; erratic weather patterns; etc.  And, the idea that Big Energy interests would seek “expert” opinion from an astrophysicist, on matters pertaining to earth sciences, is simply ludicrous.  So, if the probable cause behind climate change was so obvious to 12 year-old Laura Shaw, way back in 1977, why can’t many in the U. S. Congress, Big Energy and other climate change deniers still realize that today?

NOTE:  For readers who wish more detailed information on Exxon, its Energy Industry co-conspirators and Climate Change, the attached report, from the Union of Concerned Scientists, should prove quite informative.

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WITH DONALD TRUMP “PROTECTING” US, WE DON’T NEED ENEMIES!

Donald Trump frequently proclaims that he is protecting or saving the American People. His earlier racist views, in signing two executive orders, which banned travelers from six Muslim-majority countries, were rightfully rebuked by several Federal Courts.  Part of his reasoning was “to protect the American People”.

Then, on his recent trip to Europe, Donald made a fool out of himself by suggesting that most NATO countries owed money to the American People; which is not the case, since those nations actually underfunded their own respective Defense Budgets.  How ignorant that was to suggest they “owe us” for what they did, or did not do, to their respective budgets!  And then again, in his recent Rose Garden charade, he invoked the asinine “saving the American People money”, when he announced that he would Opt-Out of the Paris Accords on Global Climate Change.

When I think of Climate Change, the first thing that I think of is:  Fossil Fuels—oil, gas and coal.  In a previous post, I wrote that James Black, Exxon’s Senior Scientist, addressed the company’s Executive Committee, back in 1977, and he stated: “… there is general scientific agreement that the most likely manner in which mankind is influencing the global climate is through carbon dioxide release from the burning of fossil fuels.”

Over the past two years, every nation of the world, except for Nicaragua and Syria, had agreed to sign onto the Paris Accords, some 40 years, after Exxon, and their fossil fuel colleagues , had realized that they were probably contributing to Global Climate Change. The mega-billionaires, who profit handsomely from the oil, gas and coal industries, leave the global society to pay to clean-up the mess that they have profited from.

The two men who have profited most from the Fossil Fuel Industry are Charles and David Koch.  Koch Industries, which has been active in each of the three fossil fuels, had also moved more recently into chemicals, mining and finance.  Several decades back, the Koch’s had formed a group of the very wealthiest Americans to lobby against: the Paris Accords; EPS rules on clean air; mining regulations; workplace safety rules; and offshore drilling, among others.

This Group contributed handsomely to Donald Trump’s so-called “”Self-Financed” Presidential Campaign.  And Donald, for his part, seems to have fallen in line, by advocating for:  huge tax-cuts for the top two percent; the repeal of the Dodd-Frank Act, which was passed in order to rein-in the banks after 2008; continue to freeze the Minimum-Wage; and disrupt all Social Safety Net Programs, such as Affordable Health Care.

So, to paraphrase the old cliche:  With Donald Trump “protecting” us, we don’t need enemies!

NOTE:  For anyone interested in reviewing the Global Climate Change issue more closely, and the reported cover-up, The Climate Deception Dossiers, Internal Fossil Fuel Industry Memos Reveal Decades of Corporate Disinformation, produced by the Union of Concerned Scientists, are linked.

 

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AMERICA WILL MOSTLY BY-PASS DONALD TRUMP, AND ABIDE BY THE PARIS ACCORDS; BUT, WHAT ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENTAL TECH BUSINESS?

Most real governing, in America, is accomplished at the local level.   Happily, there are a large number of American cities and counties, some states, and many of our largest corporations, that have pledged to abide by the Paris Accords, regarding Global Warming.  Even so, there is the draw-back as to how will America’s remaining $2 billion pledged contribution to the U. N. Green Climate Fund, be made up?

Trump clearly understands neither the Accords, nor the Green Climate Fund.  Unlike the previous Kyoto Accords, Paris does not require any specific actions, and there are no penalties if a country does not meet its own commitments.  Also, the Green Climate Fund is for $10.3 billion—not the $100 billion he cited—into which President Barack Obama had pledged $3 billion, and the U. S. had already paid $1 billion.  Keep in mind that Donald’s complaint are meaningless, since America’s 2016 Federal Budget is $3.9 Trillion. When Trumps states facts, I can only thing: Redact!

It is only right that the largest economy, and second largest polluter, should pay in order to help less-wealthy, developing nations transform themselves from polluters into users of more renewable energy.  As the earth turns, one nation’s dirty air and water will be shared by the next nation, and the next, and so on!

Local governments have been fighting environmental problems for years.  Who wants to live in or visit a city where the air is hazardous to your health, and the water is undrinkable.  Also, businesses realize that they will be required to pay for environmental clean-up through higher taxes, and they will also have trouble recruiting talented employees into a hazardous city.  Capital expenditures for new equipment and facilities will also be more cost-effective for industry in the long run.

With Environmental Technology being the Next Big Thing—and with the need for high-paying jobs skills—how much of that business will come to America?  Although Trump has slammed the door on federal government involvement, the market for these products—in the local and industrial sector.—will still abound.  Just consider that, since the turn of the 21st century, more than half of all U. S. coal-fired power generating facilities have been either closed, or converted to cleaner energy.  That means that American business is already reaping the benefits of clean energy!

With Trump’s vindictiveness, since this was President Obama’s Plan and not his, the U. S. will undoubtedly lose-out on a fair portion of the new technology business.  At the same time, however, America has a proven track record of a viable pipeline—from government or venture capital funding, to superior academic research, and on to creative entrepreneurial development and product placement.

Hopefully, the ultimate question will be:  How much of the new Environmental Technology business will America lose, rather than how much will it get?

NOTE:  “Climate of Hope”,  By Michael Bloomberg and Carl Pope, is quite apropos to both this blog post, and the Paris Accords.  I had been cited it previously on the Books That I Recommend tab.

 

 

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WHY ARE WE SUBSIDIZING OUR OWN DESTRUCTION?

In 2015, Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, the United Kingdom’s central bank (like our “Fed”), addressed the fabled Lloyd’s of London membership.  Mr. Carney spoke to this consortium of insurers about the future of the financial markets.  Namely, the new threat: Climate Change.   He knew that insurers, much more than other group would understand the risks, and want to be out ahead of what lies beyond the horizon!

As insurers, Lloyd’s members should be aware of the many hidden costs to our society which, either directly or indirectly, they might have to insure.   Economists use the term “Tragedy in the Commons”, which is where any entity uses the communal resources—the air, water, fishing, etc—for their own benefit, while leaving any negative aspects of their actions to society, at large.

Although there are many situations where the Tragedy in Commons may occur, perhaps the best example might be the local electric power utility.  The negative aspects of using fossil fuels—coal, oil and gas—to generate power, are not paid for by the utility that reaps the profits.  Increased health issues, replacing obsolete plant and equipment, and environmental clean-up, are left to the local residents.  And as the air and water flow by, one city’s contagion can spread to other cities—and even continents.

Yesterday, I added a most compelling book to the “Books That I Recommend” tab, on this blog: “Climate of Hope”, by Michael Bloomberg and Carl Pope.  Over the past several decades, the ebb and flow of politics, has caused the commitment of many nations to dissipate, with regard to the various global climate change accords.  Fortunately, many, many cities have stepped-up to fill-in the void!

Michael Bloomberg discusses the fact that much of a city’s needs fall-on the local government.  As the former Mayor of New York City states, when the incidence of asthma spikes, people call City Hall, and not their Congressman.  Besides public health issues, cities assume responsibility for: safe streets; police and fire; functional mass transit; basic utilities; schools; parks and recreation; etc.  And each of these must by budgeted, and paid-for by the taxpayers.

As Bloomberg and Pope point-out, many of these problems are inter-related.  Consider the following: clean air improves health, which provides better attendance at school or work; better-planned cities reduce flooding and expedites the flow of traffic; mass transit improves air quality, and it is cheaper to operate when it is powered by bio- or electric power; updated technology and energy-efficient operations can reduce the business expenses, etc.  And in the end, cities must be vibrant to attract residents and businesses!

In addition to considering many of the concerns we’ve heard for several decades—the air we breathe; over-fishing; auto emissions, etc,—Climate of Hope also describes a number of environmental aspects that we might not even be aware of.  For instance, a chicken dinner has one-sixth the carbon impact as a (similar-sized) beef dinner; there are a number of other toxic gases, besides CO2, that we emit into the atmosphere; and depending on what we import, and from where, we might be encouraging additional climate change.

Working with some 7,000 cities, Bloomberg and Pope have encouraged businesses to join them, rather than as adversaries.  Corporate leaders can better-understand the cause and effect relationship, between up-front investment in plant and equipment, and the long-term stream of lower maintenance costs.  And, once the true costs are included in the analysis, corporate partners want their families, and those of their employees, to live in cleaner, healthier, safer cities, as well.



NOTE:  Welcome to my readers from Panama and Qatar!

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NO, DONALD, EVEN YOU CAN’T SUE THE ATLANTIC OCEAN!

Donald Trump has a reputation as someone with a hair-trigger, ready to sue someone— anyone—at a moment’s notice.  The real estate tycoon even reportedly sued the local airport authority in Palm Beach County, Florida; because, departing aircraft, under certain weather conditions, flew right over hie Mar-a-Lago Estate.  But this time, Mar-a-Lago faces an even greater danger than mere jet noise—the Rising Seas!

The various barrier islands, up and down the Atlantic Coast, are a natural buffer to protect the Mainland from the sea.  But, Americans have built palatial estates, vacation homes, hotels, and condominium complexes all along them.  And every year or two, the expense of such dangerous living becomes greater and greater, when one considers: ever-expensive insurance; property taxes, including beach erosion; home repairs due to the damage done by the elements.  Also, the protection that sea walls and pumps provide, on an island, can be limited.

The linked article, from The Boston Globe, shows aerial photography of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Estate, both currently and at various projected stages in the future.  Even if Donald, age 70, intends to leave the property to his children, the value may very well be plummeting by the time they take over.  And remember, the demand for palatial estates, as the sea is threatening, will surely be limited.  Open house…Anyone?

The Globe article cites the differences in opinions that some of the Trump uber-wealthy neighbors have.  While some have literally read the seawater on the wall; others believe, now that Donald was elected, he will make things better.  Perhaps, he can stick his finger in the non-existent dyke? 

The Globe article is linked, as follows: http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2017/01/13/rising-seas-threaten-jewel-trump-real-estate-empire/bsleB73TesDoLcVxJBK9LP/story.html

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HOW MIGHT DONALD TRUMP HELP VLADIMIR PUTIN?

The Russian Economy is in a shambles.  Too much of its budget has historically been used to upgrade its military technology, to the detriment of the needs of the Russian People.  The Energy Sector accounts for 47.5% of its Economic Production, and it has failed to diversify much of the rest beyond banking and commodities.

The economic sanctions, which were increased by the West in early 2014, after Russia annexed Crimea and began encouraging civil war in Eastern Ukraine, have surely hurt its trade activities.  Slumping oil and gas prices during that period, by 35% and 22%, respectively, reduced the Russian access to Dollars.  At the same time, the 87% decline of the Ruble, versus the Dollar, has made many imports cost-prohibitive.

Besides the inflation that the weak Ruble has caused, and the scarcity of consumer goods, unemployment has risen, wages have decreased, and there seems to be no relief in sight for the average Russian worker.  Russians still make family outings to the malls, which were built during the oil boom; however, many stores are closed, and the shelves are quite empty in those that remain.  It’s just something to do during those long Russian winters.

A friendly American President, who seems less inclined to cooperate with an apparently splintering European Union, might cause the sanctions to be eased—either nation by nation, or across-the-board. There has been talk about several European nations initiating more active trade with Russia.  Such improved trade options might ease the Russian economy into a somewhat better situation.

Donald Trump, along with many of his Cabinet nominees, seems to be advocates of fossil fuels, and they claim that man-made climate change is a hoax.  So far, Mr. Trump has not shown any interest in the Paris Accord.  This scenario seems to suggest a reduced interest in alternative energy sources and, thus, an increased demand for gas, oil and coal.

Apparent Secretary of State-Designate Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon-Mobil, would certainly be Donald Trump’s go-to guy, with regard to Russia.  His so-called personal relationship with Vladimir Putin has been a symbiotic one:  Rex was selling and Vlad needed to buy!  When the sanctions were increased in 2014, the transfer of vital technology, from Exxon-Mobil to Russia’s Rosneft Oil Company, was blocked.  Such a transfer under a Trump Administration, might become more likely, and it would give Exxon-Mobil access to a sector in Russia’s Arctic Region.

We’ll never know, for sure, if Russia helped Donald Trump win the Election; but, Vladimir Putin surely needs Donald’s and Exxon-Mobil’s help now!  Trust me!

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HOW WILL DONALD TRUMP HELP THE MINERS WHO VOTED FOR HIM?

Coal miners , the world over, have very dangerous jobs.  Besides breathing toxic coal dust, day after day, and over long shifts, miners’ lives are also jeopardized by potential gas explosions and collapsing tunnels.  Government regulations also appear  to only loosely enforce overall workplace safety rules,  as encouraged by coal industry lobbyists.

According “…to an investigation by NPR and the Center for Public Integrity, federal regulators and the mining industry are failing to protect miners from the excessive toxic coal mine dust, which has toxic effects on miners’ health.   That deadly “Black Lung” Disease is now being diagnosed in younger miners, and evolving more quickly into complicated stages.”

Given the irreversible effects of Black Lung,  why don’t the men (and some women) in the region just change careers?   There are other, safer jobs, such as in carpentry, auto repair, welding, etc.  And why aren’t the younger generations, aware of the dirty, hard work, and the dangerous conditions, discouraged from following their fathers and other relatives down into the mines?  Unfortunately, in many of the small towns, especallly in Appalachia, the mines are the economic lifeblood of the area!

When Donald Trump campaigned in Kentucky, West Virginia, and other regions in “Coal Country”, he promised to bring the jobs back.  But, are these the jobs that a rational person should want—for their husbands, their sons, their brothers, uncles, etc?  Didn’t they also hear Trump say that he would eliminate regulations so that business could prosper?  Don’t the miners realize that those regulations were intended to protect them?

Consider just two of the people who he has nominated for his Cabinet.  Wilbur Ross, a billionaire neighbor of Trump in Palm Beach, is his Commerce Secretary.  Mr. Ross amassed his fortune buying distressed businesses, laying-off workers, busting-up unions and reneging on pensions.  An article from the Miami Herald, describes Mr. Ross’ history with the Sago Mine Number One catastrophe.

Elaine Chao, Trump’s nominee for Transportation Secretary, had been George W. Bush’s Secretary of Labor.  Ken Ward, Jr, a columnist with the Charleston Gazette, reported in his “Coal Tattoo” Blog, that Ms. Chao, when she was Secretary of Labor, “ …encouraged regulators to regulate less, and she cooperated more with a highly hazardous industry, with a history of death and disaster.”

The combination of pledging support for jobs, de-regulating industry and—let’s not forget his pledge not to raise the Minimum Wage—surely doesn’t require a genius to figure out who’s going to win, between businesses and labor!  In a situation where the coal industry has deep pockets and labor unions have been virtually emasculated, is there any question as to how safe coal mining will be under {resident Trump?

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