Posts Tagged Environment

“BUNKER CENTRAL” #3—SOUTH FLORIDA—SEPTEMBER 9, 2017—ADVICE TO ALL FREAKED-OUT FLORIDA READERS!

Full Disclosure:  Published while forced to sit in hallway during tornado warning!

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I hadn’t expected to be writing about Hurricane Irma again today; however, an Email that I received this morning made me realize how much, even people in Florida, don’t understand about hurricanes.  The reader, an amateur sailor, appears frustrated since he just couldn’t understand some of the various changes in the storm’s projected path. Frankly, I couldn’t tell how much his problem was in confirming his sailing skills or the regard for his personal safety—since he lives in Irma’s new projected path!.

If there are any Old Salts out there, experienced sailors who might wish to make contact with this young man, in Destin, Florida, in the “Panhandle,” just send a comment to this post. I will forward it on to the novice sailor.  Apparently, he doesn’t have the experience to know when to modify those basic tools to face real-life situations.  Like most any challenge in life, every storm is going to be different!

For instance, although Irma didn’t weaken until its “eye wall”—the central axis on which it spins—was ravaged by the mountains of Northern Cuba; however, the warm waters of the Gulf Stream—along the Florida coast, enabled it to re-group.  The “steering currents,” the regular low-level directional air currents can also cause a shift in direction, as can the “wind shear,” the higher-level wind currents, which flow in opposite directions and, thus, can virtually stop storms in their tracks.

Today, the sudden shift in Hurricane Irma’s projected path—from East Coast to West—has caused problems for the lesser-prepared Ft. Myers/Naples Area of Florida.  One problem, which can fly under the radar screen, however, is the potential lack of sites for evacuation, during natural disasters.

Generally, counties open their schools to house evacuees; however, there are generally fewer schools per capita in areas with a preponderance of senior citizens.  For me, living in a vibrant neighborhood, with young families and schools, can add value to property values for this very purpose.

Whether you live in Florida, or somewhere else, are a sailor or an amateur meteorologist, or for whatever reason you wish to understand the various acts of Nature, just be patient.  With our Government’s disregard for Climate Change, we are now seeing more natural disasters—hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes and wildfires—just as I write this!

Learn all that you can about natural disasters.  Think smart, make rational decisions and stay safe!

NOTE:  This linked Op-Ed from the NY Times, which eloquently describes the racist and short-sighted action of eliminating DACA from America!  The harm that that action is causing in Houston, Texas, post-Harvey, will certainly be echoed in multi-diverse Florida, as well as many other sections of our diverse country.  Keep the kids here: they are our future!

 

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“BUNKER CENTRAL” #2—SOUTH FLORIDA—SEPTEMBER 8. 2017—WHY I STAYED!

Personally, I believe that establishing a sturdy location, far from the storm surge is perhaps as important as trying to flee, several hundred miles, only to run out of gas, perhaps have an overheated car due to continuous bumper-to-bumper “driving,” and a lack of food, lodging or passable roads.  The linked article, from the Houston Chronicle, reminds me of what happened when many Houston residents fled Hurricane Rita, eight year ago.

The location at a reasonable distance from the initial storm surge is quite evident; however, the degree of security that a particular building—home, public shelter, commercial property—can be difficult to discern.  Since I know nothing of building construction, I am quite happy with a crash course that I received from a couple neighbors, following Hurricane Andrew, in 1992.

As it turns out, they were going to one of the hardest hit areas, just after Andrew, since one of their colleague’s neighborhood was in a shambles.  I went along to help, with our mission being to provide interim roof repairs—plywood, a few struts and tar paper—which would last them until they could get new roofs.  Following major disasters, insurance estimators are completely overloaded!

We were like the cavalry pulling in.  Everyone, but me, was an engineer, and some had expert carpentry skills.  Even I could see that the quality of the damaged roofs, as well as the house plans; which were quite shoddy, and definitely not up to Building Codes.

Since this development was near the bay, the drywall in the homes were ruined, half-way to the ceiling from the storm surge.  Perhaps the plumbing and wiring would need replacement, as well!  The garages sloped downward, probably below sea level at the back, perhaps ruining some cars—but the crabs walking around didn’t seem to mind it. But by far, the most glaring problem was the roofs.

One of the engineers told me that the Building Code required one inch plywood, not the half-inch that the seven or eight ones that I worked on had.  And, the nails in the plywood constantly missed the struts, and a large number of the paper-thin shingles still had the tape on them—meaning that they were not properly affixed to the roofs.  In fact, walking across those roofs felt bouncy, just like walking across a trampoline.  How criminal!

Well, on our ride back home, one engineer who lives around the corner from us, said that, when he and his wife were home-shopping, he went into the attic and noticed that the underlying roof—below he tar paper and tile—was tongue-and-groove lumber.  He said that he whispered to his wife that, if she wanted to, she should buy the house.  Additionally, the gabled shape deflects the wind somewhat.

So, I’ll take the reasonable sturdiness of our home, as compared to taking our chances, and possibly getting stranded on one of Florida’s few major North-South highways.  That’s another problem for an attempted evacuation is that it would take 400 miles just to leave Florida and, then, Georgia is also preparing for evacuations, and dealing with shortages, as well. “Tongue-and-Groove,” by the way, means the edges of the alternating individual pieces of lumber are concave and convex shaped, so as to inter-lock—further strengthening the entire roof.

Now, the only remaining challenge is to keep everyone in the house loose.  Stay tuned!

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“BUNKER CENTRAL” #1—SOUTH FLORIDA—SEPTEMBER 8, 2017–BASICS ON HURRICANES

For the past 40 years, we have lived in South Florida, in Broward County (Ft. Lauderdale), immediately north of Miami-Dade County.  Our home is approximately ten miles from the Ocean, at an elevation of approximately six feet above sea level. Normally, this would place us in a fairly good situation for the so-called “Average” Hurricane; however, who knows what “Monster-cane Irma” will be packing, when she comes ashore?

There are also so many intangibles that cause one storm to differ from another, in addition to the size and strength.  Hurricane Sandy struck New Jersey, several years ago, during a combined full moon, high tide and storm surge.  The triple whammy!  Hurricane Harvey’s strength was enhanced since it was carried directly up Galveston Bay.  Similarly, Katrina was positioned dead-on to devastate New Orleans’ levies in 2005, as well as travel straight up Mobile Bay, in Alabama.

Much of the evacuation orders in South Florida have been for the barrier islands—such as Miami Beach, and the Florida Keys—and other low-lying areas on the Mainland. Barrier islands, by the way, are the protective areas that Nature has given us, as well as various wetlands.  Of course, real estate developers have profited nicely by building luxury high-rise condo communities along these islands.  In essence, developers have been building million dollar homes on the railroad tracks, and now, here comes Hurricane Irma!

Besides the obvious flooding that low-lying barrier islands attract—and that’s sometimes even on sunny days for Miami Beach—remember that the sea water, seeking its lowest level, generally inundates the other side of the island, as well.  That means that many bridges and causeways—the primary escape route to safety—might be submerged.  But, as many Beach luxury condos have plenty of underground parking, your escape route might be blocked before you even start.  Oh, and you’ll enjoy descending the 20 flights of stairs in the dark, wheelchair, walker and all.

No doubt that you have seen the devastation that Monster-cane Irma has already wrecked on numerous Caribbean Islands.  (See NY Times article below.)  Keep in mind that many of those islands are very small, with little or no infrastructure or public services, and the buildings are often made from quite basic materials with uncertain building codes.  However, no one really knows, as yet, what the direction, wind speed, storm surge and speed with which Irma will first impact Florida—and when she will leave.

Stay tuned!  Perhaps later today, as I have time on my hands, I will let you know why I feel relatively comfortable in staying put.

NOTE:  As I publish this post, I just saw that Irma’s wind currents are spinning between 145 and 150 mph.  If it touches the mountains of Northern Cuba, that might slow it down a bit more, and a slight “wobble” can shift it from its anticipation path—right up the middle of the State of Florida.  Time will tell!

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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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