Three brief environmental news stories

The following are three snippets from recent news stories on our environment. Two are focused on climate change, while the latter is focused on our global water crisis, which gets so little air time. Yet, when the World Economic Forum polls its members on the greatest long term risks facing our planet, the top two risks are the global water crisis and climate change inaction. It should be noted, climate change worsens the global water crisis, through faster evaporation of reservoirs.

California, four automakers defy Trump, agree to tighten emissions rules – by David Shepardson and Ben Klayman in Reuters on July 25, 2019

“Four major automakers said on Thursday they have reached an agreement with California on fuel efficiency rules, bypassing a Trump administration effort to strip the state of the right to fight climate change by setting its own standards.”

Note: The companies did not want the president to strip away the Bush and Obama intitated standards for improvement on fuel efficiency. Since California has the fourth largest economy, by itself, in the world, this agreement is important.

It feels like something out of a bad sci-fi movie’
A top climate scientist quit USDA, following others who say Trump has politicized science – by Helena Bottemiller Evich in Politico on August 5, 2019

“One of the nation’s leading climate change scientists is quitting the Agriculture Department in protest over the Trump administration’s efforts to bury his groundbreaking study about how rice is losing nutrients because of rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Lewis Ziska, a 62-year-old plant physiologist who’s worked at USDA’s Agricultural Research Service for more than two decades, told POLITICO he was alarmed when department officials not only questioned the findings of the study — which raised serious concerns for the 600 million people who depend on rice for most of their calories — but also tried to minimize media coverage of the paper, which was published in the journal Science Advances last year.”

Note: This purging of data, suppression of reports and denigration and sidelining of climate change scientists should be raising red flags. Instead of arguing the veracity, the Trump administration is going out of its way to bury the findings of peer reviewed scientists. Why? What further troubles me is if Trump wants to “Make America Great Again,” why is he giving away a scientific expertise to other countries? I recall when President Macron of France extended an open invitation to US climate scientists.

Extreme water stress affects a quarter of the world’s population, say experts
Qatar, Israel and Lebanon top list of places with worst shortages, as climate crisis threatens more ‘day – by Emily Holden and Vidhi Doshi in The Guardian on August 6, 2019

“A quarter of the world’s population across 17 countries are living in regions of extremely high water stress, a measure of the level of competition over water resources, a new report reveals.

Experts at the World Resources Institute (WRI) warned that increasing water stress could lead to more “day zeroes” – a term that gained popularity in 2018 as Cape Town in South Africa came dangerously close to running out of water.”

Note: This is a huge problem, especially in drought prone areas like Texas here in the states. There are competing forces for water, drinking/ food preparation, bathing and washing clothes, agriculture irrigation, fracking, etc. that are exacerbated by increasing populations and climate change. There has also been poor water management in too many areas. Better piping would help, using plants that are more endemic to an area use less water, moving away from fracked natural gas, planning the sources of water to save them, addressing climate change, etc. would help.

I like using this item as it came from an unexpected source – a Duke Energy spokesperson let it slip that they factor into their models an additional 11% evaporation loss from their water reservoirs due to climate change forecasts. If climate change is a hoax, why would one of the largest utilities in America be modeling that?

These three stories highlight that we must plan and do things now, before it is too late. We lost eight years under the Bush administration and have lost about two and half years under Trump to leverage federal climate change action. Bush had a petroleum lobbyist as his White Council on the Environment and Trump has a coal lobbyist as head of the EPA. Plus, Bush’s Vice President was a former petroleum CEO and who had a heavy hand writing in the 2005 Energy Act that fracking need not be subject to the requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act and Clean Air Act. Why?

Why are such great pains being taken to suppress reports, data, laws and scientists? Why would not someone who claims all of this hoax not use fact-based arguments to counter? And, if that is not enough, the Trump administration prevented the authors of a multi-agency report on the risk of climate change from testifying in front of Congress to keep their testimony out of the public record.


23 thoughts on “Three brief environmental news stories

    • Susan, true. To suppress progress, or in this case, actions to help the human race, is a more than shameful. True story – many years after the electrified street cars were removed from almost every US city, the auto, tire and petroleum industries were found guily in a court of law to colluding to get rid of the street cars, so they could sell more cars, tires and gas. Please feel free and google this. Guess what we need more of – mass transit. Keith

  1. Until we get all of the dark money out of politics Keith, I fear things will never change. The majority of the people want this to happen, yet nothing gets done. I lay a lot of this not only at Trump, but Mitch McConnell especially. He’s been in D.C. for 40 years. God I hope he loses next year. Maybe then we’ll have at least a chance at getting some things done.

    • So true. Check out my response to Susan about the true collusion story. As we speak, 21 kids have an active court case against the US on failing to act more on climate change. They actually have a good case. Keith

      • They do have a good case. And I’ve heard about that story with the automakers before. Disgraceful. More mass transit for sure!!

      • True. My city (Charlotte) is expanding a light rail system, copying the success in Denver. It is far cheaper than subway systems and they can easily drop train cars when demand is light. Keith

    • Scottie, I think that has to be part of the solution. It is expensive, but the cost could come down if more communities. In Orange County California, they are actually recycling sewage waste water through a multiple filtration process. Apparently, it works, but sounds offputting. Keith

      • Hello Keith. I understand. Yet if you think on it there is no water today that has not passed through some living creature. I think if we are to survive we must use all reclamation available. Hugs

      • True. I think they use a six step filtration process. Most sewage water is pure water that flushes the system. I also like gray water systems or rain water systems. The former uses shower water to flush, while the latter captures rain for all purposes. All of the above has to be part of the strategy. Keith

  2. It is such a vicious circle. Less water, fewer plants, less water… Change is needed immediately. about an hour ago, I just heard what huge areas of rainforest were cut only within the last year. 4 times more than the year before. Can’t we wake up eventually!?!

    • Erika, you may recall the post I wrote called “Ice on Fire,” about severak approaches that are being deployed. But, we need more trees, mangroves, etc. not less. Keith

      • I remember and and yes, we do! There are too few already. If those governments don’t realize it right away, we get in big trouble. I still cannot believe how shortsighted they are! How can’t youthey see that what they do in order to enrich themselves will be a disaster for the whole world … and for them too!

      • Erika, as Roger and I discussed below, it is all about short term greed. The fossil fuel industry invest in both sides, but they invest heavily in the Republican Party. What Trump and Bush have done with the fossil fuel industry at the reins is shameful. Keith

  3. “It feels like something out of a bad sci-fi movie …” That speaks volumes. Seems to me that “Live for today and to hell with tomorrow” has become the new motto of the U.S. 😥

  4. Note to Readers: The UN published an updated climate action report today. Key takeaways:
    – Eat more vegetarian meals
    – Throw less food away
    – Maintain and plant more forests
    – Grow more crops and raise milk cows closer to cities to cut transportation costs
    These were highlighted on the news. Keith

  5. The Greedy will always look for the short-term gain and belief that somehow they are immune. One day Nature will come knocking on their door too.
    A brief read of the History of the Planet would wake most folk up the massive forces at work and the fine balance.

    • Roger, the subject varies, but the short-term greed factor leads to unproductive and inappropriate outcomes:
      – the fossil fuel industry has been the biggest benefactor of corporate welfare for decsdes and it is not even close – those donations to politicians have a huge ROI.
      – Tobacco companies lied to people for decades that nicotine was not addictive, but they knew that it was since 1964.
      – The drug companies misled doctors and pharmacists that opioid pain killers were not hugely addictive. As a result, America, once again, has a opioid addiction. The examples of zealous sales practices abound.
      And, the list goes on. To me, the most egregious scene was in the 1990s, when eight tobacco CEOs at one table lied in order to a Congressional Committee that nicotine was not addictive. Keith

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