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Monday, June 11, 2012

Jocko Homo

I saw the novelist Anne Patchett speak last month. She had a tip for the aspiring writers in the audience. She says that she never does any research until the middle of her story, pesky facts having a way of bogging everything down. In homage to Anne I will fire from the hip this afternoon. If you require a citation or wish to challenge the veracity of my arguments and claims I would be glad to furnish source and page number, at a later time of course for a small fee. Administrative costs and all that.

I think that it is true that our society is in a critical nexus point. There is a group that clearly is on the side of preserving the status quo, whether it is our reliance on fossil fuels, the radical right's stance on gay marriage and civil unions, environmentalism and pollution or a host of other issues. Looks to me like a last ditch effort to defeat the inevitable but they are doing a pretty good job of hanging around. Until they can find a way to charge for sunlight.

Yesterday I ran across an article in the San Diego Union about the House's defeat of a bill advancing alternative fuel usage for the navy titled Navy’s green fleet runs into fiscal storm.

The vote split mostly along party lines, with Republicans, including San Diego County Rep. Duncan Hunter, saying that proposed massive cuts to defense spending leave no room for anything but essentials.

“We’ll need to learn to do much more with much less. Experimenting with biofuels at such a significant cost to taxpayers will not put the military on better footing or increase effectiveness, next to other investments that are much higher on the priority list,” said Joe Kasper, Hunter’s spokesman.

The Navy, which sees its green initiative as a strategic move away from reliance on expensive Persian Gulf oil, spent $13.7 million on fuel made from used cooking oil and algae, blended with petroleum, for its upcoming green fleet voyage on July 18 and 19.

It was the biggest alternative fuel purchase ever for the U.S. government — 200,000 gallons of jet fuel and 700,000 gallons of ship diesel.

Really a paltry amount of money, compared to most of the crap that our public servants waste money on, seeding new technology that is bound to pay off big time in the future. The article talks about the promise of jatropha, a subtropical crop that produces oil-bearing seeds. Jatropha already sells for about the cost of oil at $99.00 per barrel and has a lot of near term potential. Seem to recall it is called research and development. Solyndra is peanuts compared to the ridiculous fraud and pork that gets funded by the Pentagon every day,

Unfortunately, our legislators have an addiction to fossil fuels, or perhaps more accurately, the money behind fossil fuels. And its always about the money. Their attitude is very shortsighted. And it's a shame.

Read more about the Greenfleet, the United States Department of the Navy Alternative Fuels Working Group.


The biggest governmental hoot of the year is the North Carolinians forbidding the discussion of rising sea levels. Afraid that it will scare off business. Potentially a sea level change could wipe out Hatteras and the outer banks.

A state-appointed science panel's warns that sea levels could rise by more than three feet by 2100. That could threaten 2,000 square miles of coastland. A coastal development group, NC-20, disputes the science panel's findings and says that the state should instead plan for seas to rise by about eight inches. They say stricter regulations would hurt the coastal economy.

Rob Jackson, professor of environmental science at Duke University asked the senators to hold the bill for a month to allow for more input from scientists and the public.

"My primary concern is that the bill won't take into account the best science available," Jackson said. "It's already clear to the scientific community that the rates of sea level rise are accelerating. We know why they're rising because of warmer temperatures and ice melting. This bill basically says we can't use the best scientific information to protect people along the coast of North Carolina."

I can just see a guy in water up to his neck who is afraid to say that he is drowning because you now aren't legally allowed to use the word drowning in North Carolina.  Bad for business. Call it temporary water respiration and resulting sudden expiration, sounds better. And we can always try to pray it away.

An article by Orrin H. Pilkey, the James B. Duke professor emeritus of geology at Duke University, discussing the scientific issues involving rising sea levels.

Not to be outdone we travel north to Virginia. Earlier this year the state of Virginia paid $50,000 for a study on the potential effects of climate change and sea level rise on the state's coastline.

Only one problem: The report's authors weren't allowed to use terms like "climate change" and "sea level rise" because state lawmakers feared a backlash from the state's Republicans and Tea Partiers.
They discovered that they could not use the phrases "sea level rise" or "climate change" in requesting the study, in part because of objections from Republican colleagues and also for fear of stirring up conservative activists, some of whom believe such terms are liberal code words.
On its website, for example, the Virginia tea party described the proposed "sea level rise" study this way: "More wasted tax dollars for more ridiculous studies designed to separate us from our money and control all land and water use."
The group urged its members to contact elected officials right away to defeat the measure: "They will pass this without blinking if we don't yell loudly."
So lawmakers did away with all mention of sea level rise, substituting a more politically neutral phrase: "recurrent flooding."
Read the article here.


An international group of researchers in this weeks issue of Nature postulates that humans are near an environmental tipping point. The study is titled Approaching a state shift in Earth’s biosphere.

Localized ecological systems are known to shift abruptly and irreversibly from one state to another when they are forced across critical thresholds. Here we review evidence that the global ecosystem as a whole can react in the same way and is approaching a planetary-scale critical transition as a result of human influence. The plausibility of a planetary-scale ‘tipping point’ highlights the need to improve biological forecasting by detecting early warning signs of critical transitions on global as well as local scales, and by detecting feedbacks that promote such transitions. It is also necessary to address root causes of how humans are forcing biological changes.

From Scientific American's review of the study:
Human activities are pushing Earth toward a "tipping point" that could cause sudden, irreversible changes in relatively stable conditions that have allowed civilization to flourish, a new study warns.
There are signs that a toxic brew of climate change, habitat loss and population growth is dramatically reshaping life on Earth, an international team of researchers reported yesterday in the journal Nature.
Those pressures are greater than the natural forces that caused the end of the last ice age roughly 11,700 years ago, a time when half the planet's large mammal species went extinct and humans migrated out of Africa.
"We are doing enough to cause one of these tipping points," said lead author Anthony Barnosky, a paleobiologist at the University of California, Berkeley. "The question now is, how close are we? Is it inevitable? What are the changes that we see coming down the road that we should be aware of in order to make the best of it, essentially."
In recent years, scientists who study the climate have argued that humans have changed it enough to push Earth into a new geologic epoch, the Anthropocene. Biologists have warned that accelerating rates of species loss suggest the planet is entering the sixth great extinction in its history, on par with the event that wiped out the dinosaurs.
Just more environmental cassandraism, left wing environmental wackjobs, don't they realize that jesus gave us this planet for our dominion? People got businesses to run. Who misses the dinosaur or carrier pigeon, anyway? You are either tough enough to make it or you move aside and join the stegasaurs. Life, it's a hard business.


Sanoguy said...

I also read the article about the green fuel controversy. I walked away from that scratching my head. Those damn Republicans have their head in the sand.... oil sand, I guess. Here is an opportunity to do something positive for the environment and perhaps lead to real long term savings if the price of oil continues to rise.... and they walk away from it. I think the sole reason is to try and get to Obama.

Blue Heron said...

I think that you are right.