Reversal: EPA withdrawing planned giveaway to mining interests in large salmon habitat

❝ In a surprise reversal, the Environmental Protection Agency announced it is withdrawing its plan to suspend environmental protections for an area of Alaska that is home to the world’s most valuable wild salmon fishery.

❝ The EPA proposed last year to “reverse clean water safeguards” for the Bristol Bay watershed, paving the way for a massive gold and copper mine to be built in the region.

The controversial proposal would have canceled an EPA protection put in place during the Obama administration. After years of study, the EPA found in 2014 that a mine “would result in complete loss of fish habitat” in some areas of the bay, and that “all of these losses would be irreversible. The Bristol Bay watershed is one of the most pristine ecosystems in the world, supplying about half of the world’s sockeye salmon.

❝ A CNN investigation last fall found that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt ordered his staff to reverse the environmental protection within hours after meeting with the CEO of the mining company, Pebble Limited Partnership.

You really don’t needs reams of study to learn the EPA has become a criminal enterprise – now owned by even sleazier creeps than the last Bush administration.

In China, Slower Growth Is Acceptable to Tackle Debt, Smog


Click to enlargeChinatopix

China can achieve a goal of doubling the size of its economy by 2020 even if annual expansion slows to 6.3 percent, according to a senior Communist Party official, signaling a greater willingness to tackle debt and pollution at the expense of growth…

In its blueprint for 2016 to 2020, China set a minimum annual growth target of 6.5 percent for the five-year period to achieve the goal of doubling gross domestic product from 2010 levels…Over the weekend, Yang Weimin, an official from the Communist Party committee overseeing economic policy, said annualized growth of 6.3 percent in 2018-2020 would do.

Based on current economic performance, the 2020 target won’t be a “huge barrier,”…China is seen growing 6.8 percent this year and 6.5 percent in 2018, according to economist estimates compiled by Bloomberg…

Yang’s remark is “a heads up on how the new thought will be implemented,” said Zhu Ning, deputy director of the National Institute of Financial Research at Tsinghua University in Beijing.

There have been times when the United States was governed and advised by technocrats, economists and, yes, even politicians who understood the value of adjusting the course of government to benefit most of the people. Not just the moneybags who could afford to belong to the Fake President’s country club.

Trump flunkies magically vanish 98% of the effects of carbon pollution

❝ The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has adjusted the social cost of a ton of carbon from around $51 to $1 in its proposal to repeal the Clean Power Plan, a significant reversal of a policy developed by the Obama administration and widely adopted by governments both local and foreign…

❝ The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has adjusted the social cost of a ton of carbon from around $51 to $1 in its proposal to repeal the Clean Power Plan, a significant reversal of a policy developed by the Obama administration and widely adopted by governments both local and foreign.

❝ When adjusted to 2017 dollars, the estimate placed the social cost of carbon at around $51/ton for 2020. That value has been adopted by some states, companies and foreign governments as the go-to number for assessing the damages of carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions. Canada, for instance, has embraced the U.S. value and has signed an agreement with Mexico that will see the two countries harmonize their assessments of damage caused by carbon…

❝ When adjusted to 2017 dollars, the estimate placed the social cost of carbon at around $51/ton for 2020. That value has been adopted by some states, companies and foreign governments as the go-to number for assessing the damages of carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions. Canada, for instance, has embraced the U.S. value and has signed an agreement with Mexico that will see the two countries harmonize their assessments of damage caused by carbon.

❝ That officials are now seeking to rewind the existing social cost of carbon is no surprise, given that President Donald Trump issued an executive order in March directing agencies to stop using the Obama administration’s estimate and disbanding an interagency working group charged with reviewing the issue. The new policy on the social cost of carbon made its debut in a Sept. 27 regulatory impact analysis for the Bureau of Land Management’s delay of the 2016 methane waste prevention rule for the oil and gas industry.

What? You thought Trump and the Trumplets in the Republican Party give a damn about methane pollution, carbon pollution, any kind of pollution which isn’t a clear and present danger to the Lives of the Rich and Richer?

As the Russians say, “It is to laugh.”

Pollution’s Annual Cost? $4.6 Trillion and 9 Million Dead

❝ And that was just in 2015, according to a new global report on the consequences of humanity’s actions.


DelhiUdit Kulshrestha/Bloomberg

❝ Pollution in all its forms killed 9 million people in 2015 and, by one measure, led to economic damage of $4.6 trillion, according to a new estimate by researchers who hope to put the health costs of toxic air, water and soil higher on the global agenda.

In less-developed nations, pollution-linked illness and death drag down productivity, reducing economic output by 1 percent to 2 percent annually, according to the tally by the Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health, published Thursday by the U.K. medical journal. The report is intended to illuminate the hidden health and economic consequences of harmful substances introduced into the environment by human activity…

❝ The report represents an “extremely comprehensive and rigorous quantification” of pollution costs, said Francesca Dominici, a professor of biostatistics at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, who wasn’t involved in the study.

“In the scientific community, I don’t think there is any disagreement about the cost-benefit analysis of controlling pollution,” Dominici said. Reducing air pollution from vehicles and power plants, for example, would simultaneously improve human health and reduce planet-warming carbon emissions, she said. “The major barrier has been political, but not scientific.”

❝ As large as that figure is, it may even underestimate the full cost of pollution. Because the amount is derived from death rates, it doesn’t include the price of medical expenditures or lost productivity from those sickened but not killed by pollution-related disease. And it doesn’t measure some forms of pollution that are likely to have health effects, such as soil tainted with heavy metals or industrial toxins, because data to calculate its influence on health are insufficient.

No surprise when Bloomberg offers articles like this one. Folks selling services to investors realize that folks in all walks of life can develop a conscience about principled profit-making versus scumbags who don’t care how their profits are acquired.

Americans save $4.50 for every $1 invested in ENERGY STAR products – Trump’s Congress wants to kill it


Trump’s idea of family transportation

❝ The U.S. House of Representatives passing an appropriations package that includes an approximately 40 percent cut to the ENERGY STAR program:

“Let’s be clear: This would be a debilitating cut to one of the most popular federal programs in history. ENERGY STAR has been such a money-saver for consumers and businesses because the products deliver enormous energy savings, and we can trust the label. Now Congress is threatening the integrity of the program.”…

❝ ENERGY STAR was created in 1992 under President George H. W. Bush’s administration and has maintained strong bipartisan support for more than 25 years. More than 16,000 companies and other organizations participate. The program delivered $34 billion in savings to American households and businesses in 2015 alone. Almost half of all American households knowingly purchased an ENERGY STAR product from 2014-2015.

RTFA for more details if you haven’t learned about ENERGY STAR from personal experience.

I’m pleased as any retiree could be with the number of long-lasting, smartly-engineered products I’ve bought over the years since the program started. I can’t afford to subsidize shoddy products rolled out to the American consumer based solely on profit margins. I love the idea of efficient engineering as a requirement for sale in this nation.

Reality of human society and pollution – in one Photo


Click to enlargeJustin Hofman

❝ Justin Hofman was leading an expedition through Borneo when a small group broke off for some impromptu snorkeling near the town of Sumbawa Besar. “The reef was actually in surprisingly good shape. It was devoid of big fish though the corals were thriving,” Hofman says. “After about an hour or so of bobbing around the tide started to turn. My good friend and expert wildlife spotter Richard White found this tiny sea horse drifting near the surface.”

❝ Seahorses ride the ocean currents by grasping floating objects with their tails. What began as amusement watching the tiny fish grasping bits of sea grass coming in with the tide turned to anger as plastic and other unnatural debris began to overtake the scene. Although a rising wind splashed polluted water in his snorkel and caused both camera and seahorse to bob around, Hofman stayed with it, capturing this image along with several others.

❝ “It’s a photo that I wish didn’t exist but now that it does I want everyone to see it,” he wrote on Instagram. “What started as an opportunity to photograph a cute little sea horse turned into one of frustration and sadness as the incoming tide brought with it countless pieces of trash and sewage. This photo serves as an allegory for the current and future state of our oceans.”

An amazing number of politicians around this little ball of mud we live and die upon would see nothing wrong in this photo.

China builds its first cute and cuddly solar power plant


UNDP

A Chinese solar power company has just completed the first phase of an ingenious PR stunt: building a 100MW solar power plant in the shape of a panda bear.

According to a release from the company, Panda Green Energy, and the Chinese state press Xinhua News Agency, the first half of the plant, with 50MW of installed capacity, was connected to the electricity grid in Datong, China, on June 29.

The image above of the project, which has gone viral, is not an actual photograph but an artist’s conceptual rendering pre-construction…

Panda Green Energy used a combination of darker monocrystalline silicon (the light-absorbing material in most solar cells) and lighter-colored thin film solar cells to design the solar farm in the likeness of China’s national animal…

While the actual plant isn’t quite as vivid as the sketch, it is nonetheless a significant addition to China’s solar fleet. According to the company, the new plant will avert the need to burn 1 million tons of coal over the next 25 years…

The Panda Power Plant initiative was also incorporated earlier this year into the “Belt and Road” initiative, China’s ambitious plan to invest in development projects in countries along the old Silk Road. The new plant in Datong is expected to be the first of 100 plants in the shape of pandas and other animals to be built in China and elsewhere as part of that effort. Another one, in Fiji, was announced in May.

The new Panda Power Plant is also just the latest showy example of China’s commitment to scaling up solar and other forms of renewable energy while cleaning up coal before eventually phasing it out. Unlike the US, China is on track to exceed its Paris carbon reduction commitments…

Gee, I wonder what Trump and the Republican Congress might come up with to express their failure to commit to cleaner energy?

A third of our nation’s honeybee colonies died last year

❝ An annual survey shows a third of America’s bee colonies were lost over the past year, and over 10 years, the numbers are even more troubling…

America’s beekeepers watched as a third of the country’s honeybee colonies were lost over the last year, part of a decade-long die-off experts said may threaten our food supply.

The annual survey of roughly 5,000 beekeepers showed the 33% dip from April 2016 to April 2017. The decrease is small compared to the survey’s previous 10 years, when the decrease hovered at roughly 40%. From 2012 to 2013, nearly half of the nation’s colonies died.

❝ “I would stop short of calling this ‘good’ news,” said Dennis vanEngelsdorp, an assistant professor at the University of Maryland. “Colony loss of more than 30% over the entire year is high. It’s hard to imagine any other agricultural sector being able to stay in business with such consistently high losses.”…

❝ One in every three bites of food, van Engelsdorp said, is directly or indirectly pollinated by honeybees, who pollinate about $15 billion worth of U.S. crops each year…

“Keeping bees healthy is really essential in order to meet that demand,” said vanEngelsdorp. He said there are concerns it won’t.

❝ So what’s killing the honeybees? Parasites, diseases, poor nutrition, and pesticides among many others. The chief killer is the varroa mite, a “lethal parasite,” which researchers said spreads among colonies…

vanEngelsdorp said people can do their part to save bee colonies by buying honey from a local beekeeper, becoming a beekeeper, avoiding using pesticides in your yard and making room for pollinators, such as honeybees, in your yard.

“Bees are good indicators of the landscape as a whole,” said Nathalie Steinhauer, who led data collection on the project. “To keep healthy bees, you need a good environment and you need your neighbors to keep healthy bees. Honeybee health is a community matter.”

Taking healthy care of the critters which fly and crawl around your own home patch are part of the larger environment for which we should all assume responsibility. Otherwise – we’re part responsible for the death and failure of that environment.