The day after Thanksgiving, while we were still semi-comatose from overindulging on food and family, the White House quietly released the latest report on the state of the world’s climate. Friday afternoon is typically news-dump day, a day for the government to release information it hopes few will read. (You can read it here.) The current occupant of the White House has already gone on record that he doesn’t believe it.
The state of Texas prides itself as a bastion of independence and free enterprise. Business thrives without government regulation and fiercely opposes government interference in capitalistic enterprises. Except when it does want the government to interject itself into business. In a state with abhorrence for tax money subsidizing health insurance and the highest percentage of citizens without coverage, but where the Oil Depletion tax giveaway is sacred, Texas is now seeking a new federal subsidy for its favorite industry. The state wants government funding for oil and gas installations and it wants all U.S. taxpayers, not just Texans, to pay.
After more than a century-and-a-half of contributing CO2 to the world, the fossil fuel industry wants taxpayer-funded protection for the increasingly powerful storms and higher tides, effects of the changing climate. Climate-change deniers and fiscal conservatives – except when the money flows to their state – Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz are pushing a scheme for $12 billion of federal money to build sixty-miles of concrete seawalls, earthen barriers, floating gates and steel levees on the Texas Gulf Coast. Petrochemical plants, including most of Texas’s thirty refineries, want us all to pay for protecting their facilities. (And if you believe $12 billion will be enough, well, you know…)
Texas has an $11 billion dollar “rainy day” fund, but the Republican controlled legislature opposes spending its own money to protect infrastructure in its own state.
From Talking Points Memo. Read all about it here.
Perhaps the petty and farcical corruptions of the former head of the Environmental Protection Agency have angered and/or amused you to the point of distraction. National Geographic magazine has made it easy to keep current with our federal government’s attacks on science and environmental regulation. They publish a regularly-updated listing of the latest news on their web site. Their latest post: “Trump Officials Set Aside Evidence of National Monuments’ Successes.”
Bookmark “A Running List of How President Trump Is Changing Environmental Policy” to keep your outrage up to date.
Here’s something else to blame on Obama:
An African-American president urged action on climate change and signed the U.S. onto the 2015 international Paris climate agreement. The result? “A significant number of white Americans deciding that they were done believing in climate change.”
That’s according to Salil Benegal, a political-science professor at DePauw University. Benegal did a study that found American climate-change deniers tend to be older and white, have racist attitudes and – surprise – identify as Republican.
Before you get carried away about a political-science professor postulating on climate change… he’s not. He’s simply looking at correlations. He also found that these same people only believe what Republicans tell them about climate. Professor Benegal recently summarized his findings in the Washington Post.
Okay, so concurrence is not causation. This is just an interesting factoid.
“The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.”
– Neil deGrasse Tyson
Both senators from Texas, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, and twenty of their House colleagues voted against the 2013 Hurricane Sandy Relief Act. (In the previous fiscal year, Texas received more federal disaster relief money than any other state.) All but four Texas reps voted in favor of initial Harvey relief legislation. The four dissenters don’t represent coastal districts, so they don’t care.
Florida Governor Rick Scott (still the record holder for Medicare fraud) warned residents of his state as Hurricane Irma bore down on them, “This is a catastrophic storm our state has never seen.” Governor Scott in 2015 purportedly banned state employees from using the terms “climate change” and “global warming.” Post hurricane, he still demurs when questioned about the subject, his stock answer, “I am not a scientist.” (I am not a doctor, but I know a 105° fever requires attention.)
Climate-change denier Scott Pruitt, head of the Environmental Protection Agency (a legacy of the Nixon administration) says it would be “very, very insensitive to the people in Florida” to discuss the cause of “these massive, anomalous storms.”
The Los Angeles Times recently published a concise summary of scientific consensus about cause and effect of natural catastrophes and why we can expect more in the future.
- Wind & Rain – Rising sea levels mean more flooding – storm surge – when storms push water into the shore. Warmer air results in more moisture in the atmosphere, so… when it rains, it pours. And oh yeah, scientists say there’ll be fewer weak storms. That’s because more of them will be Category 4 and 5.
- Lack of Wind & Rain – Warmer temperatures mean quicker evaporation into the atmosphere to feed the storms in hurricane zones. Meanwhile, in the southwestern U.S., even with normal rainfall – which has not occurred the past few years – the ground will be drier meaning less moisture for living things.
- Fire – Dry conditions mean more fires. Duh. Warmer weather also means greater survival rates for pine beetles that generally perish in frigid conditions. The pest has expanded its area of devastation from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Northwest and Canada.
The U.S. imposed its first automobile fuel-economy regulations in 1975, a response to the Arab oil embargo. (If you’re old enough, you remember lining up to buy gasoline and odd-even days to fill up, based on your license number.) Since then, average miles-per-gallon has gone from 13.5 to about 27 now. (33 for cars, 24 for light trucks. Overall consumption has increased, however, the result of more miles driven – more than double since then – increased horsepower and heavier vehicles. Hence what is called the “Rebound Effect.”
In the mid-nineteenth century, William Stanley Jevons published “The Coal Question,” a book casting doubt on England’s long-term prospects as a world power. Britain’s industrial and military dominance was supported by its abundance of coal, a natural resource it was rapidly depleting. Jevons argued that conservation, e.g. energy efficiency, would not delay the inevitable depletion.
“It is wholly a confusion of ideas to suppose that the economical use of fuel is equivalent to a diminished consumption. The very contrary is the truth.”
His thesis, also known as the “Jevons Paradox,” is that the more something is perceived as economical, the more people will use. Our cars are more fuel efficient, so we drive more.
Since climate-change has officially been determined to be a hoax and unfair to the U.S., we may as well extract all the fossil fuels and burn them. And if it turns out that burning carbon is not good for us? Not to worry, Mother Earth will recover and be just fine after we’re gone.
(For a rebuttal of the Jevons Paradox, click here.)