Louisiana’s coastal subsidence already counts as a “worst case scenario”


Click to enlargeKaren Apricot

❝ It’s common knowledge that the coast of Louisiana is quietly sinking into the balmy Gulf waters. But new research suggests we may have been underestimating how quickly it’s happening.

A new paper, published…in the Geological Society of America’s bulletin GSA Today, includes an updated map of the Louisiana coastline and the rate at which it’s sinking into the sea, a process scientists call “subsidence,” which occurs in addition to the climate change-caused process of sea-level rise. The new map suggests that, on average, the Louisiana coast is sinking at a rate of about 9 millimeters, or just over a third of an inch, per year — a faster rate than previous studies have suggested…

❝ Scientists have long known that Louisiana is sinking. Subsidence is believed to be a natural process, which has likely been occurring in the region for thousands of years. But scientists believe the process has been enhanced by a variety of human activities in the Mississippi Delta over the past century, including oil and gas extraction, as well as the building of levees and other actions affecting the flow of the Mississippi River, which carries mud and sediment down toward the Gulf and helped build up the delta in the first place.

The combination of subsidence and sea-level rise along the Gulf shore has made coastal Louisiana increasingly vulnerable to erosion in recent years. Last year, residents of the region’s rapidly sinking Isle de Jean Charles received a $48 million grant from the federal government to be used for relocation, giving them the grim title of the nation’s first “climate refugees.” And in the future, as sea levels continue to rise, the problem is only expected to worsen along the Louisiana shore…

❝ And for now, the big picture suggests that coastal Louisiana is still sinking, and perhaps more quickly than some experts believed. Coupled with the continued invasion of the rising seas, the area remains one of the most vulnerable parts of the country. And while policymakers have already expressed deep concern about the region’s future — the state legislature recently approved a $50 billion plan for the protection and restoration of the coastline — experts note that there’s still need for more research on exactly how quickly the shoreline is slipping away.

Joshua Kent, an expert in geoinformatics at Louisiana State University, told The Washington Post by email that the new paper reiterates the need for increased monitoring along the coast. “Accurate and consistent monitoring will help reduce the uncertainties and improve strategies for sustaining this important landscape,” he said.

Or you could forget about science and technology and work at ripping as much profit as possible in the shortest conceivable time, take the money and run. Think anyone with their hands in the pants of the oil and gas industries will roll over and squeak? Think anyone in Congress funding their campaign on the American Petroleum Institute dole will grow a backbone overnight?

Generals Warn Trump He’s Surrendering U.S. Leadership in New Energy Policies

❝ Failure to adopt new energy technologies will hurt America’s chances to help slow climate change. It may also jeopardize U.S. global power and security.

“If we don’t want to necessarily repeat a lot of the tough lessons of the last 40 to 50 years,” said retired Marine Corps Lieutenant General Richard Zilmer. “Better to plan now and get ahead of that — and control the process — than react to it.”

❝ The quest for cleaner and more efficient energy systems is already forging new trade ties and, consequently, political relationships, according to a report by Zilmer and 14 other former high-ranking military officials. Ultimately, those ties will bring “dramatic changes in global spheres of influence,” they wrote. China and European Union members are steering their economies into “the vanguard of manufacturing” and commerce, with the U.S. showing little competitive vision.

❝ Dismissing multiple decades of research into manmade climate change has been a common theme among Republicans who control Congress and now the White House. Dismissing market forces that push nations and industries to clean up while becoming more energy efficient, however, is another thing. The CNA Military Advisory Board report doesn’t mention “climate change” or “global warming,” but it makes clear that ignoring these market signals carries ominous implications for U.S. economic and national security.

❝ The report, called Advanced Energy and U.S. National Security [pdf], is the seventh analysis put out in 10 years by the nonprofit research group’s advisory board. Initiated in 2015, the study was led by 14 U.S. generals and admirals and a retired British Royal Navy rear admiral.

I doubt the current leadership of Congressional Republicans and their pimp in the White House could name very many military-based specialists in global energy policy. And I doubt Robert E. Lee wrote enough on the topic to catch their attention either.

Congressional-Creeps are so corrupt they believe everyone must be as crooked as they are


$50 worth of Post-Its and worth every penny!

❝ The Judiciary Committee of the United States House of Representatives is considering a major reform of the American With Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 — a federal law which prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in the public sphere (at work, in schools, riding public transit, and in all spaces open to the general public, including privately-owned businesses). For example, under the ADA, businesses open to the public, such as restaurants or pharmacies, need to be wheelchair accessible.

❝ The ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017 (HR 620) seems like a rather innocuous bill at first glance — it compels the Department of Justice to formulate a program that educates state and local officials and business owners on “strategies for promoting access to public accommodations for persons with a disability.” A prime example of fatty, ostensibly meaningless Washington wonk-speak. But it goes further — the bill, if passed, would prohibit civil suits arising out of a failure to provide adequate access to public accommodations for the disabled unless the plaintiff provides offending property owners with a written notice…blah, blah, blah…Owners would then have 60 days to respond with a written plan for improvement, and an additional 120 days to correct the deficiency, or at least demonstrate sufficient progress towards a correction…

❝ Sponsored by Texas representative Ted Poe, a Republican, along with two Republican and three Democratic colleagues all from Texas and California, HR 620 aims to “curb frivolous lawsuits filed by cash-hungry attorneys and plaintiffs that abuse the ADA,”…

With a so-called president who likes to imitate disabled Americans, this may be the right time for “America’s leading criminal class” [thank you Sam Clemens] to take back some of the parking places they feel should be theirs for class loyalty or whatever.

America’s Broken Democracy

❝ US President Donald Trump’s ravings against the 2015 Paris climate agreement are partly a product of his ignorance and narcissism. Yet they represent something more. They are a reflection of the deep corruption of the US political system, which, according to one recent assessment, is no longer a “full democracy.” American politics has become a game of powerful corporate interests: tax cuts for the rich, deregulation for mega-polluters, and war and global warming for the rest of the world.

❝ Six of the G7 countries worked overtime last week to bring Trump around on climate change, but Trump resisted. European and Japanese leaders are accustomed to treating the US as an ally on key issues. With Trump in power, it is a habit they are rethinking.

But the problem goes beyond Trump. Those of us living in the United States know first-hand that America’s democratic institutions have deteriorated markedly over the last several decades, beginning perhaps as far back as the 1960s, when Americans began to lose confidence in their political institutions. US politics have become increasingly corrupt, cynical, and detached from public opinion. Trump is but a symptom, albeit a shocking and dangerous one, of this deeper political malaise…

❝ …From Trump’s perspective, the highlights of his recent trip abroad were signing a $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia, berating other NATO members for their supposedly insufficient military spending, and rejecting the pleas of US allies to continue in the fight global warming. Congressional Republicans broadly cheer these frightening policies…

❝ The rest of the world urgently needs to understand America for what it has now become. Behind the formal structures of a once-functioning democracy is a political system run by corporate interests with the cynical aims of cutting taxes on the rich, selling weapons, and polluting with impunity. In Trump, they have found a shameless frontman and TV personality who will do their bidding.

RTFA. Sooner or later, the body of Americans still committed to democracy, free expression and honesty in government will stand up and support politicians who meet their standards. I can’t say the Democratic Party satisfies that ambition anymore now than last year. Individual Democrats and Independents, of course. Here in New Mexico progressive grassroots activism took control of the state legislature away from a Republican Party as dedicated to and controlled by fossil fuel dollar$ as any in the country.

We may be in last place in many social categories by virtue of the poverty inherited from decades of 2-party incompetence. We will continue to demonstrate independence – supporting individual politicians with the courage to reject corporate politics business-as-usual.

Director of U.S. Census resigns – the last thing Republicans want is an accurate 2020 voter count


Punch cards introduced for the 1940 Census – Republicans hated that one, too

❝ The director of the U.S. Census Bureau is resigning, leaving the agency leaderless at a time when it faces a crisis over funding for the 2020 decennial count of the U.S. population and beyond.

John H. Thompson, who has served as director since 2013 and worked for the bureau for 27 years before that, will leave June 30…

❝ The news, which surprised census experts, follows an April congressional budget allocation for the census that critics say is woefully inadequate. And it comes less than a week after a prickly hearing at which Thompson told lawmakers that cost estimates for a new electronic data collection system had ballooned by nearly 50 percent.

No successor for Thompson was announced. A Commerce Department spokesperson said an acting director would be designated “in the coming days” and the position would be filled permanently “in due course.”…

❝ A former Capitol Hill staffer who is knowledgeable about the census said Congress’s mandate for the 2020 Census to cost no more than the 2010 one was unrealistic.

“They’re not accounting for inflation; they’re not accounting for the 30 million more Americans, for the fact that people don’t have hard [telephone] lines anymore. And you’re going to do the census for the same amount of money? That’s not possible.”

Republicans will be in no hurry whatsoever. The official census is used to determine voting districts and Congressional House representation. Even before you get to the criminal impasse Republicans will throw up trying to keep and expand gerrymandered seats they manipulated into place after the 2010 Census.

Democrats may have gotten a whisker smarter about the value of that fight. Republicans, if anything, are more corrupt than any time since the administration of Warren G. Harding.

Over a million kids in the US have lead poisoning — We’re only treating half of them


Click to enlarge

❝ We’ve long known that despite all our efforts to clean up lead, we have a serious problem with lead poisoning in American children — it’s an egregious and preventable public health issue that just won’t go away.

And it seems the problem is even worse than we thought. Researchers at the Public Health Institute reported…in the journal Pediatrics that the overall number of children with elevated blood lead levels as of 1999-2000 in the US was 1.2 million, or double what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had reported. (The number is likely even higher now, since testing rates have…declined since 2000.) These kids who are never tested or reported to the CDC also aren’t receiving treatment.

❝ Some states are doing much worse than others, according to the researchers. In the 11 states in dark blue on the map below, including Arizona and Florida, more than 80 percent of children with lead poisoning were not tested by their pediatricians or local health departments. For the other 28 states with data (in medium and light blue), anywhere from 40 to 60 percent of lead-poisoned children weren’t tested.

As for the 12 states in gray, researchers were unable to determine how many cases of lead poisoning were missed, because these states don’t share any data with the CDC…

Perish the thought these turd-brains Americans persist in electing and re-electing actually do something modern about healthcare legislation. Like make it uniform and nationwide. Require states to participate and provide information.

❝ What researchers have learned in recent years is that no level of lead is safe for children. Studies have even shown lead concentration in the blood as low as 2 micrograms per deciliter of blood (μg/dL) can lower IQ in children. And once children have blood lead levels of 5 μg/dL and above (what’s now considered lead poisoning), they can suffer severe neurological damage in the form of attention deficit and hyperactivity disorders.

❝ How did the counting of lead-poisoned children get so bad? For one, testing for lead is not legally required in most of the US…And…public health departments aren’t asking if there’s missing data when they turn things over to the CDC…

❝ Civil engineers have estimated that overhauling America’s drinking water system and bringing it up to code will cost at least $1 trillion over the next 25 years, but if these investments aren’t made, we risk continuing to poison children with dangerous levels of lead.

Not that this is a priority for Congressional politicians whose single most pressing task — Republican or Democrat – is raising sufficient funds for re-election.