New Symphony of Science: “This Earth is the one we have to care about”

November 15, 2012

Symphony of Science:  Highest and best use of Autotune — does putting stuff to music make for better editing?  (Great question in the 100th anniversary year of Woody Guthrie‘s birth, yes?)

Al Gore as the climate change denialists fear him most, approachable, concise, powerful images, and in tune:

Interesting coincidence that this was released the same day California inaugurated its auction of carbon credits in its own cap-and-trade attempt to control carbon dioxide releases.

(Woody Guthrie’s reputation has nothing to fear from Al Gore; which is okay, considering they’re probably on the same side of most issues.)


World Greenhouse Gas Emissions 2005, by usage or industry - World Resources Institute

World Resources Institute chart showing origins of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, in 2005. Click image for a legible version.

Too late to save the planet?

November 6, 2012

Denialists scoff that 2º Celsius could cause disaster, say wait to see.  But is it too late already?

It’s a link to an article in the business section of The Guardian (links added here):

The report concludes that “governments and businesses can no longer assume that a two-degree warming world is the default scenario”, and urges greater planning to cope with the disruptive effects that more unpredictable and extreme weather will have on supply chains, long-term assets, and infrastructure, particularly in coastal or low-lying regions.

Meanwhile, businesses in carbon-intensive sectors must also anticipate “invasive regulation” and the possibility of stranded assets, said Jonathan Grant, director of sustainability and climate change at PwC.

“Resilience will become a watchword in the boardroom – to policy responses as well as to the climate,” he said. “More radical and disruptive policy reactions in the medium term could lead to high-carbon assets being stranded.

“The new reality is a much more challenging future in terms of planning, financing and predictability,” Grant added. “The challenge now is to implement gigatonne-scale reductions across the economy, in power generation, energy-efficiency, transport and industry, as well as REDD+ in forested nations.”


CO2 emissions, by continent - Visual-ly

CO2 emissions, by continent – Visual-ly; click image for a larger version.

Romney, and Sandy: Res ipsa loquitur

November 3, 2012

Have you seen this?  Brought to you by Mitt Romney, the GOP 2012 Convention, and Sandy:

Res ipsa loquitur, a Latin term, used in law.  Means “the thing speaks for itself.”

Global Warming, Hurricane Sandy, Hubris,


U.S. actions to support Agenda 21: Soil conservation, farm and rural development; no population control, no black helicopters

October 24, 2012

Not sure what Agenda 21 is?  It’s the larger program of the United Nations to pick up where the U.S. Soil Conservation Service left off (SCS is now the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service, NRCS).  Erosion control.  Don’t deplete the soils.  Keep water sources clean and flowing.  Use wise plowing practices to prevent another Dust Bowl.  Get Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts and Future Farmers of America and 4-H Clubs to build check dams and plant beneficial trees.

See a quick explanation of Agenda 21 here (courtesy of Grist, here).

Keenan Wynn and a Coke machine, Dr. Strangelove (publicity still?)

Keenan Wynn as Col. Bat Guano, pauses before shooting open a Coke machine to get change to place a call to the President of the United States to save the world, in Stanley Kubrick’s “Dr. Strangelove, Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb,” (publicity still?).  Agenda 21 is not like “Dr. Strangelove,” except perhaps in the minds of those poisoned by dramatic over-consumption of Coca-Cola or Monster Cola.

You can’t find that stuff easily on Google, nor Bing, usually.  Instead you’ll find people worrying about black helicopters, the massive, unseen and never-detected UN Army poised to take over U.S. golf courses, and unhinged rants about forced population control, rants worthy of Col. Bat Guano but lacking Kubrick’s and Southern’s and George’s wit or Keenan Wynn‘s sharp delivery.  (Yes, if you hear someone complaining about Agenda 21, you may and perhaps should say, “That’s Bat Guano!”)

Agenda 21 is the umbrella agency under which nations who are members of the UN undertake studies of Earth’s resources, human effects upon those resources, and which makes recommendations about how to save our planet’s resources from depletion.  KyotoRio CopenhagenIPCC.

Agenda 21 is about as milk toast a policy initiative as it is possible to get.  Why all the angst among so-called neo-conservatives and so-called libertarians?  Beats me.  I can only imagine that they have never read any of the documents, know nothing of the issues discussed, and have slept through much of the past 50 years on farm and food production issues.

Should we fear, as Paul Sadler‘s GOP opponent for the Texas U.S. Senate seat does, that Agenda 21 will require Texas to turn over all its golf courses to the UN?  No, we should instead pay attention to what the government has actually done in support of Agenda 21 initiatives — all of which are voluntary under the Agenda 21 program and the UN Charter.  Also, perhaps, we should make sure to vote against anyone who tries to instill fear by misstating what Agenda 21 is, or does, or “requires” (Yeah, you, Ted Cruz — what sort of crazy are you on? and this is why we’re voting for Paul Sadler instead; we need rational people who love Texas more than crazies who speak smack about golf courses and people who golf).

Here’s the White House list of activities to support Agenda 21 in the last four years; can you find the black helicopters and UN takeover of U.S. territory?  No, neither can anyone else:

Policy Initiatives

President Obama’s administration understands that a strong American economy is contingent upon a strong rural economy. Since the creation of the White House Rural Council, the President has made historic investments in rural America designed to drive job growth.  The actions will help ensure the development of a rural economy built to last.  These actions include:

Doubling Small Business Administration (SBA) Investment Funds for Rural Small Businesses
Announced August 2011

The Administration established a rural “carve-out” in the Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) Impact Investment Program that will invest in distressed areas and emerging sectors such as clean energy.  SBA will provide up to a 2:1 match to private capital raised by the fund.  SBA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are committed to partnering to drive $350 million of investment capital through the fund and existing SBICs into rural small businesses over five years, doubling the current rate of investment.

Providing Job Search Information through USDA Field Offices
Announced August 2011

The USDA and Department of Labor (DOL) partnered to offer job training information and better utilize the rural footprint of the USDA field offices across the country to provide them with greater access to job search resources by reducing the driving times and distances for rural customers seeking program information.

Expansion of the National Health Service Corps to Critical Access Hospitals
Announced August 2011

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) expanded eligibility for the National Health Service Corps loan repayment program so that Critical Access Hospitals, those with 25 beds or fewer, can recruit new physicians, using student loan repayment incentives.  This program will help hospitals across the country recruit needed staff.  Once a hospital has qualified as a service site, it can then apply for student loan repayment on behalf of its primary care physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants.

Expanding Health Information Technology in Rural Communities
Announced August 2011

USDA and HHS signed an agreement to improve access to capital for rural hospitals and other providers seeking to implement health information technology and expand the health IT workforce in rural communities.

Commercial Aviation Biofuels Partnership
Announced August 2011

The Navy, the Department of Energy, and USDA have joined forces to spur the creation of an advanced biofuels industry that will support commercial aviation, with a pledge of $510 million, over three years, under the Defense Production Act of 1950.

Promoting a Bioeconomy through BioPreferred
Announced February 2012

To support the Administration’s “Blueprint for a Bioeconomy,” the President is utilizing the purchasing power of the Federal government by directing Federal agencies to take additional steps to significantly increase the purchase of biobased products over the next two years, which will create thousands of new rural jobs and drive innovation where biobased products are grown and manufactured. Utilizing the existing BioPreferred program, the Federal government will use its procurement power to increase the purchasing and use of biobased products, promoting rural economic development, creating new jobs, and providing new markets for farm commodities. Biobased products include items like paints, soaps and detergents and are developed from farm grown plants, rather than chemicals or petroleum bases. The biobased products sector marries the two most important economic engines for rural America: agriculture and manufacturing.

Rural Jobs Accelerator
Announced February 2012

The “Rural Jobs Accelerator” will link Federal programs to facilitate job creation and economic development in rural communities by utilizing regional development strategies. The “Rural Jobs Accelerator” will allow multiple agencies to coordinate technical assistance and grant/loan programs so that a consortium of public and private rural entities can have a single access point within the Federal government, allowing for improved access, streamlining of programs, and better leveraging of resources.  USDA and EDA will leverage approximately $14 million in funding, with technical support from Delta Regional Authority, Appalachian Regional Commission, Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Department of Education.

Development of Rural Health IT Workforce
Announced February 2012

HHS and the DOL signed a memorandum of understanding to link community colleges and technical colleges that support rural communities with available materials and resources to support the training of HIT professionals.  Rural health care providers face challenges in harnessing the benefits of health information technology (HIT) due to limited capital and a workforce that is not trained to work within the expanding field of HIT. Due to lower financial operating margins and limited capital, funds for hiring new staff or training existing staff in HIT implementation and maintenance are often simply not available to rural health care providers.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the needed HIT workforce will increase by 20 percent by the year 2016.  A significant part of that growth will come in rural areas, which are served by approximately 2,000 rural hospitals, 3,700 Rural Health Clinics as well as the more than 3,000 Community and Migrant Health Centers that are either located in or serve rural communities.

Timber and National Forest Restoration
Announced  February 2012

USDA’s Forest Service, in conjunction with the White House Rural Council, released a strategy to increase the scale of restoration treatments like forest thinning, reforestation, and other activities to restore and sustain the health of our forests.  In addition to environmental benefits, these activities create jobs in the forest industry which has been hurt significantly by the economic downturn.  The strategy relies on (1) using collaborative approaches to broaden public support for forest restoration; (2) expanding restoration tools like the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program and stewardship contracting; (3) better targeting budget resources; and (4) streamlining forest planning and analysis without sacrificing quality.

Mortgage Refinancing
Announced February 2012

The Administration announced an initiative to assist rural homeowners refinance their mortgages at lower interest rates through USDA’s Rural Development agency. By reallocating existing funding, at no additional cost to taxpayers, USDA will have almost doubled the amount of funds available to homeowners seeking to lower their mortgage payments or avoid foreclosure.  Under the new allocation, the amount of the $24 billion program dedicated to refinancing will increase from $520 million to $1.1 billion, allowing USDA to meet the growing demand for refinance transactions.

Task Force on Tourism and Competitiveness
Announced January 2012

On January 19, the President signed an Executive Order creating a Task Force charged with developing a National Travel and Tourism Strategy with recommendations for new policies and initiatives to promote domestic and international travel opportunities throughout the United States. The strategy will include recommendations to promote visits to the United States public lands, waters, shores, monuments, and other iconic American destinations, thereby expanding job creation in the United States, as well as tourism opportunities in rural communities. The Task Force is co-chaired by Secretary Salazar and Secretary Bryson, with participation from USDA, other agencies and WH offices.

Advancing Water Quality Conservation across the U.S.
Announced May 2012

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the launch of a new National Water Quality Initiative committed to improving one to seven impaired watersheds in every U.S. state and territory. The Initiative is part of the Obama Administration’s White House Rural Council which is working in partnership with farmers, ranchers and forest owners to improve conservation of working lands in rural America. The 157 selected watersheds were identified with assistance from state agencies, key partners, and USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Technical Committees. NRCS will make available at least $33 million in financial assistance to farmers, ranchers and forest landowners this year to implement conservation practices to help provide cleaner water for their neighbors and communities.

Small Business Administration Investing in Rural Small Businesses
Announced June 2012

The Administration extended more than $400 million in FY 2011 of investments in rural America through the Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) Impact Investment Program, at no cost to taxpayers. Nearly $2 billion in additional funding will be invested by the end of fiscal year 2016. These investments will continue to help finance, grow, expand, and modernize rural small business operations around the country.

MOU to Improve Support in the Colonias
Announced June 2012

The U.S. Department of Agriculture-Rural Development (USDA-RD), Housing and Urban Development, and Department of Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI) partnered to create the Border Community Capital Initiative. This collaboration is designed to expand access to capital in the U.S/Mexico border region which includes some of the poorest communities in the country. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) will provide up to $200,000 to nonprofit and/or tribal financial institutions that serve colonias. This funding will go to increase access to basic necessities such as safe drinking water, adequate sewage systems, and safe, sanitary housing.

U.S Department of Education Investing in Rural Schools
Announced June 2012

Through the national broadband plan, the Obama Administration will leverage the power of technology to overcome distance and increase collaboration to accelerate student achievement in rural schools. The White House Rural Council partnered with the U.S Department of Education to deliver a new online community of practice groups for rural schools. This online tool will create virtual communities of practice for educators to connect to resources, tools, colleagues, experts, and learned activities both within and beyond schools. The Administration is using technology to break down geographic barriers and address rural isolation in education.

Accelerating Broadband Infrastructure Deployment
Announced June 2012

On June 14, 2012 President Obama signed an Executive Order to make broadband construction along Federal roadways and properties up to 90 percent cheaper and more efficient. U.S agencies that manage Federal properties and roads will partner to offer carriers a single approach to leasing Federal assets for broadband deployment. Providing a uniform approach for broadband carriers to build networks will speed the delivery of connectivity to communities, business, and schools in rural America. In order to further expand the nations broadband service, more than 25 cities and 60 national research universities are partnering to form “US Ignite.” US Ignite will create a new wave of services that will extend programmable broadband networks to 100 times the speed of today’s internet. This partnership will improve services to Americans and drive job creation, promote innovation, and create new markets for American business.

Supporting Appalachian Communities
Announced June 2012

Facilitated through the White House Rural Council, the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) developed a Livable Communities Initiative. This initiative is a partnership between ARC, the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U.S Department of Agriculture Rural Development (USDA RD). The initiative provides technical assistance to small rural towns to help them develop and implement strategies for making the communities more livable and competitive. The partnership will focus on expanding transportation choices, supporting thriving and distinctive rural communities by investing in rural town centers, and extending affordable housing opportunities.

There is nothing seriously objectionable in that list of activities.  If you’re an astute, patriotic American, you’ll recognize a lot of actions that strengthen our nation.  Maybe opposition to Agenda 21 is a virus spread by an insect vector — there is no rational explanation for it, certainly.


Highlights from the video, as listed at the White House blog:

Drought Relief: President Obama also toured McIntosh Family Farms in Missouri Valley, Iowa to see drought damage first-hand and offer relief to those being effected. The President announced that the Department of Agriculture will begin to buy up to $170 million worth of pork, chicken, lamb, and catfish. And the President is directing the Department of Defense — which purchased more than 150,000 million pounds of beef and pork in the last year alone — to encourage its vendors to accelerate meat purchases for the military and freeze it for future use.

“Understand this won’t solve the problem. We can’t make it rain,” the President said. “But this will help families like the McIntoshes in states across the country, including here in Iowa. And we’re going to keep doing what we can to help because that’s what we do. We are Americans. We take care of each other.”

To learn more, the Department of Agriculture is collecting resources for farmers, ranchers, and small businesses wrestling with this crisis at More information still is available at

Banner Year for the U.S. Wind Industry: Also this week, the Energy Department and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory released a new report highlighting strong growth in America’s wind energy market in 2011 and underscoring the importance of continued policy support and clean energy tax credits to ensure that the U.S. remains a leading producer and manufacturer in this booming global industry.As President Obama has made clear, we need an all-of-the-above approach to American energy and the U.S. wind industry is a critical part of this strategy. In fact, wind energy contributed 32 percent of all new U.S. electric capacity additions last year, representing $14 billion in new investment.

Wall of Shame on Agenda 21; sites that promote the crazies:

Here’s a fine kettle of apples you’ve gotten us into . . . cheapskate

October 14, 2012

Apples are an all-American success story-each ...

Apples are an all-American success story-each of us eats more than 19 pounds of them annually. Photo credit: Wikipedia

Noticed any increase in food prices yet?

Here in Texas, all meat prices are up, but especially beef.  Beef ranchers in Texas sold off their herds because they couldn’t feed them during the drought, except with very expensive imported hay.  That held prices down for a while, but now there is a lot less beef to be bought.  Prices rise.

Drought also hammered corn crops this year, and last year.  To keep corn markets growing, corn state legislators had gone whole hog into using corn for alcohol to be added to gasoline.  That demand didn’t drop with the crop decreases, however, and we’ve been hearing for months how corn-into-alcohol pressures food markets.

Lucio Machado picks Golden Delicious apples in a Washington orchard.

Lucio Machado picks Golden Delicious apples in a Washington orchard.

Drought hammers our fruit crops, too.  Comes now news from Washington state about the added wrinkle:  Washington’s apple crops bend the tree boughs — who will pick them?

Two key problems:  First, the crackdowns on immigrant workers reduced supply dramatically.  Second, citizens or documented workers find higher pay in the turnaround in construction.

Result:  Apples may stay in the trees, boosting apple prices to consumers.

Wholly apart from the foolish denial that we need to do something about global warming, the added policy flaws of shutting off immigration flow on the chuckle-headed and wrong assumption that immigration hurts the economy, and the continued denial of our too-modest economic recovery, will now cost you money directly at the supermarket.

The Wall Street Journal reported:

PASCO, Wash.—Washington state is enjoying the second-biggest apple crop in its history, but farmers warn they may have to leave up to one-quarter of their bounty to rot, because there aren’t enough pickers.

“I’m down 40% from the labor I need,” said Steve Nunley, manager of a 3,000-acre apple orchard for Pride Packing Co. in Wapato, Wash. Mr. Nunley said he has 200 pickers right now, but needs close to 400. He has increased pay to $24 for every 1,000-pound bin of Gala apples they pick, compared with $18 last year. Even so, he expects to have to let tons of fruit fall unpicked this season.

Washington’s bumper crop, forecast at 109 million boxes of Red Delicious, Gala, Granny Smith and other varieties, comes as drought and poor growing conditions have led to dismal harvests in parts of the U.S. Michigan lost much of its apple crop this year, and poor conditions have depressed the yields in New York state and North Carolina.


But Washington’s farmers can’t fully cash in on their good fortune. The national crackdown on illegal immigration has shrunk the pool of potential farm workers in the state, while at the same time, the modest economic rebound has given immigrants more opportunities than before in construction, landscaping and restaurants.

*   *   *   *   *

Not far away, outside a church in Pasco, a migrant from Mexico’s Michoacán state, 47-year-old José Carranza, said he planned to skip the fruit harvest this year. Mr. Carranza believes he can do better in construction work, which is picking up.

How bad is it, really?  Take a look at several other pieces on this issue, recently:

How much additional will you be paying for goods this year because of GOP “we-can’t-afford-to-be-great-anymore” policies, or racist immigration policies?  Will your modest tax cuts offset that expense?

Perhaps we should pay a bit more in federal money to help fix the real problems, and stop pretending that the price of everything is the same as the cost.

You know the aphorisms:  A conservative economist is a person who can tell you price of any item or service, but doesn’t know the value of education, parenting, or good social structure, and ignores the costs of doing nothing.

And the Tom Magliozzi Law (of the Car Guys):  The cheapskate always pays more.

Studies from the Federal Reserve indicates immigrants boost our economy greatly; making life tough for immigrants, or hoping they’ll “self-deport,” damages our economy.

How’s that applesauce?


Endangered western forests: The Yellowstone

October 10, 2012

Additional CO2 and warmer weather will help plants, the climate change denialists say.  That’s not what we see, however.  Turns out CO2 helps weeds, and warmer weather helps destructive species, more than it helps the stuff we need and want in the wild.

For example, the white-bark pine, Pinus albicaulis:


From American Forests:

With increasingly warm winters at high elevations in the West, a predator that has stalked forests for decades has gained the upper hand. It is mountain pine blister rust, an invasive fungus. Combined with mountain pine beetles, which kill hundreds of thousands of trees per year in the Greater Yellowstone Area (GYA), the environmental health of the Rocky Mountains and neighboring regions is in danger. To make matters worse, the species most susceptible to these two threats, the whitebark pine, is also the most vital to ecosystem stability, essential to the survival of more than 190 plant and animal species in Yellowstone alone.

First debuted at SXSW Eco, this video tells the story of our endangered western forests and how American Forests and the Greater Yellowstone Coordinating Committee are working toward their restoration and protection for future generations.

Learn more:


Whitebark Pine

Whitebark Pine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Whitebark Pine. Français : Tige et cônes de Pi...

Whitebark Pine, cones and needle cluster (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Whitebark Pine Français : Un cône de Pin à éco...

Whitebark pine’s distinctive, almost-black cone. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Annals of global warming: Insurance companies note increasing costs of floods, due to climate change

October 1, 2012

Note today in Al Gore’s Journal:

Flooding Costs October 1, 2012 : 10:32 AM

Time cover from April 28, 2008 - how to win war on global warming

Time Magazine cover for April 28, 2008 – How to Win the War On Global Warming

A new report from Swiss Re finds that the financial impact of flooding has doubled in the past decade – climate is a major driver:

“Flood losses are increasing at an alarming rate while the insurability of floods provides unique challenges for the industry, according Swiss Re’s latest report, “Flood – an underestimated risk: Inspect, inform, insure”.” …

“No other natural catastrophe impacts as many people as flooding with an estimated 500 million people affected every year. Insured flood losses are also increasing significantly; 1970’s annual claims were between USD 1–2 billion, whereas insured flood losses amounted to USD 15 billion in 2011. Recent flood events in Thailand, Australia and the Philippines have shown that floods are now rivalling earthquakes and hurricanes in terms of economic losses.” …

“Population growth, demographic change, a higher concentration of assets in exposed areas, greater vulnerability of insured objects and climate change are all contributing to the increasing costs of flood damage. The rising costs of floods are creating challenges for the insurance industry and the economic viability of flood insurance is currently an issue under scrutiny.”


%d bloggers like this: