California Plans to Fight Climate Change With Forestry – Bloomberg Businessweek

“Forests give us shade, quiet and one of the harder challenges in the fight against climate change. Even as we humans count on forests to soak up a good share of the carbon dioxide we produce, we are threatening their ability to do so. The climate change we are hastening could one day leave us with forests that emit more carbon than they absorb.

 Thankfully, there is a way out of this trap — but it involves striking a subtle balance. Helping forests flourish as valuable “carbon sinks” long into the future may require reducing their capacity to sequester carbon now. California is leading the way, as it does on so many climate efforts, in figuring out the details.
 The state’s proposed Forest Carbon Plan aims to double efforts to thin out young trees and clear brush in parts of the forest, including by controlled burning. This temporarily lowers carbon-carrying capacity. But the remaining trees draw a greater share of the available moisture, so they grow and thrive, restoring the forest’s capacity to pull carbon from the air. Healthy trees are also better able to fend off bark beetles. The landscape is rendered less combustible. Even in the event of a fire, fewer trees are consumed.
 The need for such planning is increasingly urgent. Already, since 2010, drought and beetles have killed more than 100 million trees in California, most of them in 2016 alone, and wildfires have scorched hundreds of thousands of acres.”

Source: California Plans to Fight Climate Change With Forestry – Bloomberg

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‘Impossible to Ignore’: Why Alaska Is Crafting a Plan to Fight Climate Change – By Brad Plumer – NYT

By Brad Plumer,     May 15, 2018

“WASHINGTON — In the Trump era, it has mainly been blue states that have taken the lead on climate change policy, with liberal strongholds like California and New York setting ambitious goals for cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Now, at least one deep-red state could soon join them: Alaska, a major oil and gas producer, is crafting its own plan to address climate change. Ideas under discussion include cuts in state emissions by 2025 and a tax on companies that emit carbon dioxide.

While many conservative-leaning states have resisted aggressive climate policies, Alaska is already seeing the dramatic effects of global warming firsthand, making the issue difficult for local politicians to avoid. The solid permafrost that sits beneath many roads, buildings and pipelines is starting to thaw, destabilizing the infrastructure above. At least 31 coastal towns and cities may need to relocate, at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars, as protective sea ice vanishes and fierce waves erode Alaska’s shores.”

David Lindsay:

2.5 minute film, from the article above. Lovely and scary. Alaska is like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hide, They are like a deer, frozen in the headlights on oil and gas, but even Alaska is admitting and making changes to accommodate and remediate climate change.

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California Will Require Solar Power for New Homes – By Ivan Penn – NYT

“May 9, 2018
“LOS ANGELES — Solar panels have become an increasingly familiar sight on California rooftops as the state moves toward a clean-energy future. For new homes, they are about to become a requirement.

The California Energy Commission is expected to approve changes to the building code on Wednesday to require solar panels on all new homes, putting the state even farther in the forefront in the use of solar power.The mandate, to take effect in 2020, is expected to add $8,000 to $12,000 to the cost of a house — no small sum in a state where housing affordability is already a major issue.

The construction industry is prepared to live with the requirement, however, as the solar capability may become a selling point: It will help homeowners keep their electricity bills down under a new rate structure that favors renewable sources.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval at Comments, NYT.
Bravo California. Great article by Ivan Penn. I just put 17 solar panels on my house this February, adding to the 24 panels I put up 3 years ago. Now the roof will generate 7 Kilowatt hours of energy in a year. I can start to convert the gas and gasoline systems of my property over to electric, starting, soon, with a new electric heat pump hot water heater.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNews.wordpress.com

E.P.A. Emails Show an Effort to Shield Pruitt From Public Scrutiny – By Eric Lipton and Lisa Friedman – NYT

“May 7, 2018WASHINGTON — It was supposed to be a town hall meeting where Iowa ranchers could ask questions directly of Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency. But when the agency learned that anyone would be free to ask anything, they decided to script the questions themselves.

“My sincere apologies,” an E.P.A. official wrote to the rancher who would be moderating the event. “We cannot do open q&a from the crowd.” She then proposed several simple questions for him to ask Mr. Pruitt, including: “What has it been like to work with President Trump?”

Details about the December event, and dozens of other official appearances from Mr. Pruitt’s scandal-plagued first year at the E.P.A., have until now been hidden from public view as a result of an extraordinary effort by Mr. Pruitt and his staff to maintain strict secrecy about the bulk of his daily schedule.But a new cache of emails offer a detailed look inside the agency’s aggressive efforts to conceal his activities as a public servant. The more than 10,000 documents, made public as part of a Freedom of Information lawsuit by the Sierra Club, show that the agency’s close control of Mr. Pruitt’s events is driven more by a desire to avoid tough questions from the public than by concerns about security, contradicting Mr. Pruitt’s longstanding defense of his secretiveness.”

David Lindsay:

This story is tragic, heartbreaking and revolting. I am not surprised, which is part of the sadness. When you control the public’s questions, that is aping fascist regimes. This is how fascists behave. The Republicans who condone this behavior are complicit in the destruction of our democratic values and practices. Luckily, there is another election on November 6th.

David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNews.wordpress.com

He Called Out Sick-Then Apologized for Leaving This World (David Buckel) – The New York Times

“Domingo Morales was not initially concerned when he got a text message from his mentor, David S. Buckel, at 5:30 a.m. Saturday, calling out sick.

Twenty-five minutes, later, Mr. Buckel sent him an email: “I apologize for leaving this world early and leaving you with some big challenges to tackle. But I have to at least try to make this planet a better place for having lived on it.”

Mr. Buckel, a nationally known civil rights lawyer and, in his final decade, a master composter directing the sprawling site at the Red Hook Community Farm in Brooklyn, set himself on fire around dawn Saturday in Prospect Park. It was, according to his suicide letter, to make a statement about people protecting the environment.”

David Lindsay:  The New York Times, and some of the commentors, are conflicted as to whether this is a major protest by an environmentalist or the act of a sick and depressed person. I fault the NYT for not mentioning his protest for the environment in their first article on the 14th. I sense that this was a major protest, but if I am right, and it is not a story about depression and mental illness, it was sort of bungled. The Vietnamese buddhists who immolated themselves in Vietnam to protest the South Vietnamese Governments abuses and corruption, were organized to happen in front of the world’s media and television cameras. They got a lot of world attention to their protest. This quiet immolation at dawn, was more pure, but less politically successful. The NYT literally didn’t know what to make of it, when they first reported it in the article linked to below.

Lawyer Burns Himself to Death to Protest Environmental Destruction – by Lorraine Chow – Ecowatch.com

“David Buckel, 60, doused himself with an accelerant before starting a fire that ultimately killed him.

“I apologize to you for the mess,” he wrote in a suicide note he left in a shopping cart near his body, the Daily News reported.

In an emailed copy of the note the New York Times received, he said: “Pollution ravages our planet, oozing inhabitability via air, soil, water and weather. Most humans on the planet now breathe air made unhealthy by fossil fuels, and many die early deaths as a result—my early death by fossil fuel reflects what we are doing to ourselves.”

The Times further reported:

In his note, which was received by the Times at 5:55 a.m., Mr. Buckel discussed the difficulty of improving the world even for those who make vigorous efforts to do so.

Privilege, he said, was derived from the suffering of others.

“Many who drive their own lives to help others often realize that they do not change what causes the need for their help,” Mr. Buckel wrote, adding that donating to organizations was not enough.

Noting that he was privileged with “good health to the final moment,” Mr. Buckel said he wanted his death to lead to increased action. “Honorable purpose in life invites honorable purpose in death,” he wrote.

Buckel was the lead attorney in Brandon v. County of Richardson, a lawsuit regarding Brandon Teena, a transgender man who was murdered in Nebraska. Teena’s tragic story was the subject of the Oscar-winning 1999 film Boys Don’t Cry, starring Hilary Swank.”

Source: Lawyer Burns Himself to Death to Protest Environmental Destruction

Opinion | Scott Pruitt Has Become Ridiculous – The New York Times

Despite stiff competition, Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, is by common consensus the worst of the ideologues and mediocrities President Trump chose to populate his cabinet. Policies aside — and they’re terrible, from an environmental perspective — Mr. Pruitt’s self-aggrandizing and borderline thuggish behavior has disgraced his office and demoralized his employees. We opposed his nomination because he had spent his career as attorney general of Oklahoma suing the federal department he was being asked to lead on behalf of industries he was being asked to regulate. As it turns out, Mr. Pruitt is not just an industry lap dog but also an arrogant and vengeful bully and small-time grifter, bent on chiseling the taxpayer to suit his lifestyle and warm his ego.

Ryan Zinke Is Opening Up Public Lands. Just Not at Home. – The New York Times

“WHITEFISH, Mont. — When Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke was a state senator from this idyllic mountain town, he drove a Prius, sported a beard and pushed President Barack Obama to make clean energy a priority.

Today, the beard and Prius are gone, and Mr. Zinke has emerged as a leading figure, along with Scott Pruitt of the Environmental Protection Agency, in the environmental rollbacks that have endeared President Trump to the fossil fuel industry and outraged conservationists.In the last year, Mr. Zinke has torn up Obama-era rules related to oil, gas and mineral extraction and overseen the largest reduction of federal land protection in the nation’s history, including an effort to slash the size of Bears Ears National Monument.”

David Lindsay Jr. Hamden, CT Pending Approval

Excellent reporting by Julie Turkewitz. She writes, “But as Mr. Trump’s chief public lands administrator, Mr. Zinke has favored the fossil fuel companies that have increasingly made up his donor base, overhauling restrictions on methane emissions, fast-tracking the oil-and-gas leasing process, and pushing to open nearly the entire outer continental shelf for energy development.”

Mr. Zinke is apparently a weasel. Methane emmissions are really bad for life on the planet as we know and admire it. He dismantles environmental protections, everywhere but his own state of Montana, since he is deeply ambitious for more political career. He was for fighting climate change when Barack Obama was president. Working for this new administration, it is no longer an issue. Just another politician for purchase.

David Lindsay:
I just enjoyed the The Will Rogers Follies at the Goodspeed Opera House. David Lutken was fabulous, and quoted Will Rogers as saying, “I never met a man I didn’t like.” But then added, though some men are far more trying than others. Will Rogers made a lot of jokes at the expense of politicians of both major parties. Thinking of Zinke, the weasel described in this NYT piece, I would amend the statement. I never met a man I didn’t like, unless he was a politician and practicing hypocrite and sycophant.

David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNews.wordpress.com

The Danger of President Pence | by Jane Mayer – The New Yorker

“The Kochs, who are not religious, may have been focussed more on pocketbook issues than on Pence’s faith. According to Scott Peterson, the executive director of the Checks & Balances Project, a watchdog group that monitors attempts to influence environmental policy, Pence was invited to the Koch seminar only after he did the brothers a major political favor. By the spring of 2009, Koch Industries, like other fossil-fuel companies, felt threatened by growing support in Congress for curbing carbon emissions, the primary cause of climate change. Americans for Prosperity devised a “No Climate Tax” pledge for candidates to sign, promising not to spend any government funds on limiting carbon pollution. At first, the campaign languished, attracting only fourteen signatures. The House, meanwhile, was moving toward passage of a “cap and trade” bill, which would charge companies for carbon pollution. If the bill were enacted, the costs could be catastrophic to Koch Industries, which releases some twenty-four million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere a year, and owns millions of acres of untapped oil reserves in Canada, plus coal-fired power plants and oil refineries.

Pence, who had called global warming “a myth” created by environmentalists in their “latest Chicken Little attempt to raise taxes,” took up the Kochs’ cause. He not only signed their pledge but urged others to do so as well. He gave speeches denouncing the cap-and-trade bill—which passed the House but got held up in the Senate—as a “declaration of war on the Midwest.” His language echoed that of the Koch groups. Americans for Prosperity called the bill “the largest excise tax in history,” and Pence called it “the largest tax increase in American history.” (Neither statement was true.) He used a map created by the Heritage Foundation, which the Kochs supported, to make his case, and he urged House Republicans to hold “energy summits” opposing the legislation in their districts, sending them home over the summer recess with kits to bolster their presentations.

According to the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University, after Pence began promoting the Kochs’ pledge the number of signatories in the House soared, reaching a hundred and fifty-six. James Valvo, the policy director for Americans for Prosperity, who spearheaded the pledge, told the Reporting Workshop that support from Pence and other Republicans helped “a scrappy outlier” become “the established position.” The cap-and-trade bill died in the Senate.”

Source: The Danger of President Pence | The New Yorker

The E.P.A. Says It Wants Research Transparency. Scientists See an Attack on Science. – The New York Times

“The proposed new policy — the details of which are still being worked out — is championed by the E.P.A. administrator, Scott Pruitt, who has argued that releasing the raw data would let others test the scientific findings more thoroughly. “Mr. Pruitt believes that Americans deserve transparency,” said Liz Bowman, an E.P.A. spokeswoman.

Critics, though, say that Mr. Pruitt’s goal is not academic rigor, but to undermine much of the science that underpins modern environmental regulations governing clean water and clean air. Restricting the application of established science when crafting new E.P.A. rules could make it easier to weaken or repeal existing health regulations, these people say.

The proposal is “cloaked in all of these buzzwords, in all of the positive things that we want to be for: ‘science,’ ‘transparency,’” said Dr. Ivan Oransky, co-founder of Retraction Watch, an independent blog that monitors scientific journals and exposes errors and misconduct. While Dr. Oransky said he agreed that it was critical to hold the scientific process accountable, he said he believed Mr. Pruitt’s intent was to inject doubt into areas of public health where none exists. “Data he doesn’t like will get disqualified,” Dr. Oransky said.”