Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Ignoring Climate Change Enters 26th Year of Failing to Stop Climate Change

Since climate scientist Michael Mann warned Congress of the emerging climate crisis in 1988, Congress has wholeheartedly embraced the strategy of ignoring climate change in hopes it goes away.

As Eric Holthaus reports at Slate today, ignoring climate change just had its strongest quarter ever of failing to stop climate change, with April to June 2014 going into the books as Earth's warmest three months on record.

But switching to solar and wind power might cost you an extra dollar a month on your electricity bill. Best to stick to ignorance! /hits self in head with hammer

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Striped Bass Shift Linked to Climate Change? Don't Ask Virginian-Pilot

Albert Spells measures a striped bass; this one is longer than 28 inches and too big to keep. ©Janet Krenn/VASGWhen reporters ignore climate change in their stories, they end up sounding like they're blaming the supernatural for events easily connected to climate change. Take this Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot story on a sharp decline in catch of striped bass:
They say there are a handful of elements that have lowered the ocean take the past two years.

Weather has been the biggest reason. Warmer starts to the past two winters have caused many rockfish to stay in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay, or up the coast around upper Maryland and New Jersey. [...]

"It's been the strangest year," said Rob O'Reilly, chief of fisheries management for the Virginia Marine Resources Commission. "The weather has been so screwy that some fish haven't moved south like they usually do, and the ones that have positioned themselves offshore."
Reporters are often reluctant to connect the dots to climate change because they're not climate science experts and they're worried that doing so will draw the ire of anti-science Tea Party activists.

But when reporters ignore reality, they leave their audience in the dark. Strange! Screwy! Don't ask me for answers, you're on your own!

And then newspapers wonder why half of their audience has stopped paying $15 a month for a subscription. If you have to go find the truth yourself anyway, might as well do it for free on the internet.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Massachusetts Scores Big on Best Complete Streets Policies

Day 178It seems like common sense: Make policies to help people get around, not just to help vehicles get around. Massachusetts does a better job of getting it right than many places, with Littleton and MassDOT earning recognition from Smart Growth America.

Then again, even here, many communities still have a long way to go. Why is it so hard?

Almost all of the key decision makers drive everywhere. At the top, governors and state agency heads are often chauffeured in SUVs and only wait for public transit in photo ops. And studies show politicians at all levels are most responsive to the concerns of wealthy constituents, who are much less likely to have to wait for a bus or bike to work or school than low-income families.

Monday, July 7, 2014

But Hurricanes Wouldn't Dare Hit Our Nuclear Plants, Because MURRICA


Japanese nuclear power plants the path of Super Typhoon Neoguri: Two

Nuclear power plants on America's hurricane-vulnerable East and Gulf Coasts: Thirteen

Ohio's Pro-Fracking Governor Ignores Fracking Earthquakes

A State of EmergencyOhio is being hit by earthquakes in areas where gas fracking operations are underway, but Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) is best buddies with big polluters, so you end up with stories like this:
State regulators ordered a gas drilling company to halt operations in an area of northeastern Ohio after three minor earthquakes were felt in the area. No property damage had been reported from the earthquakes that happened Monday morning just west of Youngstown. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources says there's nothing indicating that the earthquakes are connected to any injection wells.
Who'd be so crazy as to say Ohio's brand-new earthquake zone is connected to fracking? Oh yeah - the Ohio Department of Natural Resources said that two years ago. Multiple studies have also linked Oklahoma's outbreak of more than 2,500 small quakes to fracking.

But Kasich has state employees spending taxpayer dollars on doing public relations for gas fracking, so state regulators have to do the bizarre dance of shutting down fracking wells while not saying the wells are causing the earthquakes. Then why shut them down at all?

Learn more about the risks to land and drinking water at the Ohio Environmental Council.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The "Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less" Con: Newt Won, America Lost

Back in the summer of 2008, incurable Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich pushed the slogan "drill here, drill now, pay less," claiming that making the U.S. more oil-independent would be a solution to high gas prices. Democrats, worried voters would reject the reality there's nothing we can do to lower market-set gas prices and absolutely terrified of saying no to Big Oil, embraced the slogan. Later, President Barack Obama implemented it as our national policy. Six years later, how's drill baby drill working out for you?

Today, while U.S. oil production is near all-time highs, gas prices also remain near all-time highs. Drill baby drill has been great for multinational oil companies, but terrible for American consumers. Meanwhile, we continue shoveling billions in annual taxpayer subsidies to those same oil companies.

A side effect of higher oil production is that oil transportation disasters are also at record highs. Oil train wrecks and spills, gas pipeline explosions, and oil pipeline ruptures are skyrocketing. Our communities, wildlife and clean air and water are now at the mercy of our national petro-state.

Note that gas prices hit their all-time high of $4.46 in July 2008 under President George W. "Texas Oilman Who'll Lasso Those Saudi Arabians Into Submission" Bush, well above the prior peak of $3.70 under President Ronald "Yes Another Oil-Friendly Republican Are You Seeing The Pattern Yet" Reagan.

Aside from Big Oil's record profits, there was one other winner from Newt's drilling push. Gingrich got 1.5 million people to sign his petition, allowing him to cash in by spamming his big new email list. As Chris Hayes has said, "much of movement conservatism is a con and the base are the marks."

Friday, June 27, 2014

Today in Phony Food: Turkey Hill's "Light" Ice Cream

On the left is Turkey Hill Moose Tracks Light Recipe, billed as "the creamy, rich taste you'd expect from Turkey Hill Ice Cream, but it is lower in fat and sugar." The label claims it has 50% less fat and 22% fewer calories than regular ice cream.

On the right is Turkey Hill Moose Tracks Stuff'd, billed as "frozen dairy dessert that is jam-packed with nuts, candies, and flavor" and "stuffed to the lid with all of your favorite ingredients."

"Light" and "Stuff'd" have exactly same amounts of calories, total fat and sugar:


Ice cream is my favorite thing to eat in the whole world. But it's bad for you and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Your Cable Boxes Secretly Cost You an Extra $100 a Year. Each.

Cable boxes are the single biggest energy users in many homes, each one sucking nearly $100 a year out of your wallet. "The seemingly innocuous appliances — all 224 million of them across the nation — together consume as much electricity as produced by four giant nuclear reactors, running around the clock," reports Ralph Vartabedian reports for the Los Angeles Times.

I thought I'd see how much heat is needlessly thrown off by my Comcast box made by Motorola, so I put a thermometer on it and went out to run some errands. When I came home, it registered 86 on top of the box (compared to 75 in the room), but apparently at some point it had hit an astounding 94 degrees.

As I've covered before, this a failure of the free market, which gives cable companies no incentive to provide you anything more energy efficient than the crappy boxes they currently give you. It's not them who has to pay the electricity bill for these energy hogs.

That's why cutting the cord and getting rid of cable not only will save you big money on your cable bill, it'll save you small but noticeable money on your electricity bill. While cable boxes use 35 watts of power even in standby mode, streaming devices like Apple TV and Roku only use a maximum of 3 watts even when in use.

Congress could pass legislation mandating efficient boxes, which would save us money twice - once on our electricity bill, and again in infrastructure (those power plants) that we wouldn't need to build to power the boxes. But then the cable companies would give money to Americans for Prosperity to gin up outrage promote freedom and run attack ads. Best not to do anything - and by best I mean "best for Republican politicians' continued employment."