Jon Huntsman: I will not run for President in 2012

He may as well have said exactly that.
I'm not a meteorologist. All I know is 90 percent of the scientists say climate change is occurring. If 90 percent of the oncological community said something was causing cancer we'd listen to them.


This is good news

We're producing more renewable energy than we can use!
PORTLAND, Ore. – The manager of most of the electricity in the Pacific Northwest is running such a surplus of power from hydroelectric dams that it put wind farms on notice Friday that they may be shut down as early as this weekend.
In a few months, of course, there won't be as much hydroelectric power available as the summer dry season takes its usual course. Given that this is an unusual year, it presumably doesn't warrant building additional power lines. But if this is becomes more of a regular phenomenon--it's wet and windy in the spring in the Northwest!--more power lines will have to be built to send the juice to California. Siting will be an issue, power lines are ugly, but Eastern Oregon has a number of fairly uninhabited places that don't all have the most spectacular scenery in the world. For instance, I wouldn't want a wind farm on the top of Steens Mountain, but there are other areas down in the Southern part of the state that could reasonably accommodate additional wind farms and power transmission lines.

Methane leaks

This is preposterous
Their work updates earlier findings that unaccounted-for gas amounted to eight billion cubic feet in Massachusetts, costing about $40 million. Such gas leaks have been implicated in damage and mortality of urban and suburban street trees. Evidence from other cities indicates that the situation in Boston is likely similar to cities and towns across the nation. [...]

Recent measurements indicate that urban emissions are a significant source of CH4 and in fact may be substantially higher than current inventory estimates. As such, urban emissions could contribute 7-15 percent to the global anthropogenic budget of methane. Although it is known that the per capita carbon footprint of compact cities such as New York City, Boston, and San Francisco are smaller than sprawling cities such as Houston, the strengths of individual sources within these cities are not well known.
But the moment anyone suggests we write regulations forcing companies to not lose as much gas, we'd be labelled anti-inudstry.


Because I am who I am...

...I look at the raw data first.

Yesterday, the right wing media was all in a tizzy about a report [PDF] describing long waiting times in Massachusetts for primary care physician appointments. Of course the right wing tried to tie that in with the horrors of ROMNEYCARE. Jonathan Cohn makes a good argument against these claims, but I have one more thing to add to that [click to enlarge the example from pediatrics specialties]:

Notice the enormous standard deviation in each county except Dukes (Martha's Vineyard) and Franklin (rural Western MA). Imagine you were to live in suburban Middlesex county and want a [first doctor's] appointment for your son or daughter, and one place you called told you to come by 8.5 months later. You'd probably call around a little and eventually find the one that tells you that you can come by the next day. Considering that the averages are towards the lower number, that tells us that many doctor's office waiting times cluster toward lower rather than the upper extreme, and that the outliers likely skew the average upwards. In other words, you'd be more likely to find a physician who could see your child earlier rather than later. Additionally, many people in Middlesex have relatively easy access to the larger university medical centers in Boston, so they could find someone who could take them earlier there as well.

Clearly, Franklin and Dukes county need some work, though.

Kidz Koal Korner

What's funny about the Coal Cares spoof website is how well it emulates the real highest-quality BS coming out of so-called "free market" think tanks and fossil fuel lobbying groups.
Anyone who could come up with this sort of billboard...

...might be expected to come up with statements just like this:
Some environmentalists have suggested that coal companies should install an untested technology called "scrubbers" atop coal plants to make them burn more cleanly, reducing coal particulate exposure as one cause of childhood asthma. There are two problems with this idea. For one thing, these "scrubbers" will by no means remove enough of the coal particulates to avoid causing asthma. More importantly, the "scrubbers" are very expensive, and would inevitably result in a rise in the price of energy—hammering already hammered American household budgets. Locating the filtering mechanism at the point of consumption (i.e., your child's mouth) is dramatically more cost-effective than locating it at the point of emission (smokestacks), and in turn means less need for intrusive and costly regulation. You and your child can choose how, when, and if to apply treatment—and, thanks to the Puff-Puff™ line of inhalers, what that treatment will look like!
If you wouldn't know it's a spoof, you'd be fooled into believing it's true.

Case in point, Peabody Coal responds to the spoof thusly:
Peabody is proud to help hundreds of millions of people live longer and better through coal-fueled electricity. A growing collection of studies demonstrate the correlation between electricity fueled by low-cost coal and improvement in health, longevity and quality of life. The United Nations has linked life expectancy, educational attainment and income with per-capita electricity use, and the World Resources Institute found that for every 10-fold increase in per-capita energy use, individuals live 10 years longer.
And no, even though it sounds like it, it's not a spoof [via David Roberts].


Bostonography. So true.


A heartwarming video

at Dogwork. For the weekend, and because I'm a little busy these next couple of days.


I do hope Trump doesn't lose focus on what really matters

Releasing Obama's college transcripts.

The electrical poles are not the problem...

...but the solar panels on them are.



But...but...speculators are innocent bystanders!

Weigel on why the DOJ needs to look at oil price speculation at this time, and the problems associated with doing so:
None of this would be particularly easy for American politicians. Is there anything they could do? Why, yes. The president—or members of Congress!—could skip the coming, predictable assault on oil company subsidies, and take on speculators instead. Wars and economic distress are not new to the oil market. But the market for oil futures has never been as big as it is now. It's basically quadrupled since the start of the financial crisis, as investors and funds have sought out safe, reliable commodities to invest in.
That's the political opening. The only question is whether anyone's actually able to go through it. Theoretically, the president of the United States could talk about this aspect of the gas price problem and elevate it. Unfortunately, the president is Barack Obama, whose every economic move is labeled "socialism" by the opposition, and who has already alienated some of the hedge fund managers in the center of this. A move against the commodities trade from Obama would be less Nixon goes to China than Johnson goes to Vietnam.

The Dunes Sagebrush Lizard is the new Spotted Owl

I Canadian oil suppressing demand for your oil at an already overloaded oil storage facility, thereby driving prices down and threatening your profitability?

No problem! Blame it on an Endangered Species!
A three-inch lizard that thrives in desert conditions could shut down oil and gas operations in portions of Southeast New Mexico and in West Texas, including the state's top two oil producing counties.


Donald Trump's balanced energy policy

Is this what they mean by an "all of the above" energy strategy?
In other words, because OPEC controls the price of crude oil, all we need to do is tell OPEC to reduce oil prices and Ta-Da! – cheap gasoline for everyone forever and ever.

Wow. Why didn’t we think of this before?

That's OK, go ahead and drill

We'll just sit here and watch. [the website won't allow me to C&P, so go to the link to read it.]

Basically, Ohio is missing out on hundreds of thousands of dollars of severance tax revenue (taxes on gas extracted from their shale). Neighboring states (W. Virginia, Michigan, Kentucky, even indirectly Pennsylvania, though their taxes are structured differently) charge a tax based on the value of gas or oil extracted whereas Ohio charges only a flat fee. As expected, Gov. Kasich will not bring Ohio's severance fee in line with those states. Meanwhile, he's planning to allow for drilling within state parks, including one of Coeruleus' favorites, in order to raise revenues for the maintenance of those parks.

These underground gas reserves don't move, and though in limited instances you can choose to drill in one state over another, it's foolish for any state to think they can attract more drilling if they keep severance taxes low. The drillers will want to drill, regardless! The worst that could happen is that they could wait a few years to see if they could force the state legislature to reduce their severance tax to keep them in line with neighboring states. But the incentive for that just doesn't exist: drillers want to drill!


The real climate alarmists...

...are not the Green Dragons:
One of the most disturbing arguments made by Religious Right in its defense of corporations and big polluters is the claim that environmental protections are intended to hurt the poor.

In Resisting The Green Dragon, Bishop Harry Jackson accuses the environmental movement of leading “the war on the poor,” Jackson founded a group with Niger Innis of CORE and Samuel Rodriguez of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference which derided clean-energy policies as “dangerous and immoral.” His Affordable Power Alliance relied heavily on research from a corporate front-group that received funding from ExxonMobil, Peabody Energy and other energy corporations.

Concerned Women for America’s Wright lamented that “the policies that environmental groups and even these evangelical groups got behind were ones that would consign the poorest of people around the world to grinding poverty, to disease, to premature death,” adding that environmentalists “don’t see humans as the Bible, as God sees them.” Beisner argues that “climate change is the totalitarian’s dream come true” and efforts to fight climate change would “make millions jobless” and “hurt the poor worst of all.”

Corporations and their front groups are increasingly using this rhetoric as well. For example, the pro-corporate American Action Network ran campaign ads featuring a senior citizen suffering through cold winter nights, claiming that the American Clean Energy and Security Act would make energy unaffordable and devastate the economy. Peggy Venable, the Texas state director of the Koch-financed Americans for Prosperity, claimed that “the Global Warming hoax is imperialism allowing a vehicle for environmentalists to dictate the way of life for us all - and is most harmful for third world countries where children often don’t see their fifth birthday.”
Where are the concern trolls who demand environmentalists not point out the dangers of climate change since that might be construed as "alarmist"?

Not at all alarmist


As expected, Kate Shepard does an excellent job summarizing that crazy time.

Though I feel she lets journalists off a little too easy. I downloaded the hacked e-mails as well, and it took me all of one afternoon to understand that these e-mails were normal when you're working in a field that is so excessively competitive due to the high stakes. All they had to do was ask a scientist--any scientist working in any high-stress setting: doesn't even need to be a climate scientist!--and they could have seen what was going on.

The big unanswered question is still, however, who hacked CRU and who paid the hacker? Part of me says that it must have been orchestrated through some think tank that was pissed about the FOIA being ignored. Most likely a think tank not headquartered in Washington, but an overseas think thank with ties to some of the organizations here. But after all that I've read, and thought about the timeline of the events that transpired...there's no evidence for that. Many of the usual suspects seemed as surprised by this as our side was, and it was only after a few hours (days), that they got their story straight and had a coordinated message ("HIDE THE DECLINE!!").

Still, it'd be nice to know whodunnit.



Guess what! They might not be so unpopular after all:
Fueled by higher gas prices and what state transportation officials say is greater awareness, the number of Amtrak riders has exploded on the Blue Water route that runs from Port Huron to Chicago and stops daily in Flint.

The increase in passenger traffic on the route during the last six months -- 26.2 percent -- is among the highest in the nation, and gains at the Flint station -- 34.7 percent -- are even higher during that same period.

Thanks Scott Walker, John Kasich and Rick Scott!

Not so green

As a general rule, if you can spot the disconnect on the title page of a report [PDF]...

... the rest of it might contain some factual errors.
Senior executives in the fossil fuel industry have launched an all-out assault on renewable energy, lobbying governments and business groups to reject wind and solar power in favour of gas, in a move that could choke the fledgling green energy industry.

Multinational companies including Shell, GDF Suez and Statoil are promoting gas as an alternative "green" fuel. These companies are among dozens around the world investing in new technologies to exploit shale gas, a controversial form of the fuel that has rejuvenated the gas industry because it is plentiful in supply and newly accessible due to technical advances in gas extraction known as "fracking".

The expansion of shale gas holds out the promise of a glut in gas that is driving down prices and creating a bonanza for the fossil fuel industry. Burning gas in power stations releases about half the carbon emissions of coal, allowing gas companies to claim it is a "green" source of fuel.

Central to the lobbying effort is a report claiming that the EU could meet its 2050 carbon targets €900bn more cheaply by using gas than by investing in renewables. But the Guardian has established that the analysis is based on a previous report that came to the opposite conclusion – that renewables should play a much larger role. The report being pushed by the fossil fuel industry has been disowned by its original authors who referred to it as "biased" in favour of gas.
So now we have to see through the propaganda of not just the coal industry shills bullshitting about how the sun doesn't always shine and the wind doesn't always blow and how horrible all of these new technologies will be to the world economy, causing millions of deaths, etc., etc. We'll also need to be wary of the very fossil fuel industry that the alternative industry needs to become viable (gas turbines respond faster to supply fluctuations and are thus desirable to promote greater renewable production).

And while we're at it, let's mention that solar panels increase home values.

Fun with maps

Environmental performance index


Dear President Obama,

We stopped calling them "deniers." Preferring to call them rejectionists instead

When you call them deniers, you stir up all sorts of pond scum, and don't insult them adequately enough.




Why oh why...

Would we ever want to change the frame from climate change is really really bad, scientists say so to energy efficiency will give us jobs and fun new toys to play with?