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A quote for the day… from 68 Nobel Prize Winners

68 former Nobel Prize winning scientists have endorsed Barack Obama for the Presidency. Their feelings were published in “An Open Letter to the American People.” Here is a quote from that letter:

“America’s economic future, the quality of our health, and the quality of our environment depend on our ability to continue America’s proud legacy of discovery and invention. As winners of the Nobel Prizes in science, we are proud of our contribution to the extraordinary advances American science has made in recent years. But we’re deeply concerned that without leadership and continued commitment to scientific research the next generation of Americans will not make and benefit from future discoveries.

“President Obama understands the key role science has played in building a prosperous America, has delivered on his promise to renew our faith in science-based decision making and has championed investment in science and technology research that is the engine of our economy. He has built strong programs to educate young Americans in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics and programs to provide Americans the training they need to keep pace with a technology-driven economy.

If you believe, as we do, that America’s future is bound in essential ways to science and innovation, we urge you to join us in working to ensure the reelection of President Obama.”

You can find the entire letter here. I would urge you to read it… and pass it around.

 

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Busy weekend for me.

This is a busy weekend as Elly and her Sustainable Shepherdstown group are

The Goddess of House Cleaning

having a pot luck supper at our house and we have to do a lot of cleaning today and tomorrow morning. This morning I was up early and cleaned the first floor bathroom. After my radio show I’ve been assigned to the living room… much better than the kitchen!

Tonight we have a movie preceded by a dinner with an old friend of ours who is coming into town because she ha a daughter at Shepherd. So we have a weekend that is really filled up and I’m still getting over my recent health problems which I’m likely to be doing for the next couple of months. Ain’t life great.

 

 

Environmental Scientist Barry Commoner Dies at 95

One of the men I admired most in the early environmental movement, Dr. Barry Commoner, has died at 95 at his home in Brooklyn Heights, and I think the world experiences a great loss. He was an early champion of recycling, organic food and reducing fossil fuel use… and, of course, he took a firm stand against nuclear testing.

Commoner was trained as a biologist at Columbia and Harvard and combined scientific expertise and leftist zeal. His work on the global effects of radioactive fallout, which included documenting concentrations of strontium 90 in the baby teeth of thousands of children, contributed materially to the adoption of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty of 1963.

He was a popular speaker and author 1n the 1960s and ’70s, and even campaigned for president in 1980.

Time Magazine called Commoner the Paul Revere of Ecology on the first Earth Day in 1970.

His four informal rules of ecology were:

1. Everything Is Connected to Everything Else

2. Everything Must Go Somewhere

3. Nature Knows Best

4. There Is No Such Thing as a Free Lunch.

Dr. Commoner’s was both concerned with ecology  and an ideal of social justice in which everything was indeed connected to everything else. Like some other leftist dissenters of his time, he believed that environmental pollution, war, and racial and sexual inequality needed to be addressed as related issues of a central problem.

Commoner insisted that the future of the planet depended on industry’s learning not to make messes in the first place, rather than on trying to clean them up after they were made. He thought scientists in the service of industry could not just create some new process or product and then remove themselves from a moral responsibility for the potential results. He was a lifelong opponent of nuclear power because of its radioactive waste and scorned the idea of pollution credit swaps because an industry would have to be fouling the environment in the first place to be rewarded by such a program.

He saw that social needs were tied up with environmental ones… for instance:

“I don’t believe in environmentalism as the solution to anything. What I believe is that environmentalism illuminates the things that need to be done to solve all of the problems together. For example, if you’re going to revise the productive system to make cars or anything else in such a way as to suit the environmental necessities, at the same time why not see to it that women earn as much as men for the same work?”

Harvard paleontologist Steven J. Gould’s summary of Barry Commoner’s work and achievements is clear:

“Although he has been branded by many as a maverick, I regard him as right and compassionate on nearly every major issue.”

Another hot day… and who says there is no Global Warming?

According to the Weather Bureau it’s going to get even hotter by Wednesday and we’ll all feel like hot dogs on a grill. The experts who have reported on the Weather Channel that this long stretch of heat is a sure sign of the existence of global warming, especially given the huge spread of the continent that it covers.

Those who disagree with that assumption… and for some reason the disagreement is political, which I have never understood… are saying “well, it’s summer,” but this contradicts years of summers before. As summer has just begun, I can’t wait to see what August, usually our really hot month, is like.

So stay inside with the AC on and keep as cool as you can. That’s what I’m doing.

To answer a question received by e-mail…

…yes, I change the background pattern on the blog every day (or two) and try my hardest never to repeat a pattern.

Paisley

I spend a lot of time searching for new patters that will make the blog stand out. Following users comments I stopped using moving images a while ago since they

detract from the posts. I do, however look for color that makes the pages stand out and patterns that make me relatively happy (like the “Paisley” I have up today.)

If you have a pattern you haven’t seen here that you’d like me to use, click on the mailbox and attach it to the e-mail.

Thanks, Bill.

The Daily Scoop: Better-educated Republicans doubt climate change; believe Obama’s Muslim

I’m really impressed by the concept “smart idiots effect” which turns up later in the article (when Mashed Potato Bulletin switches over to Salon.) I had always thought that educated Republicans were reachable about Climate Change, but now I find it questionable. What do you think?

Mashed Potato Bulletin

I can still remember when I first realized how naïve I was in thinking—hoping—that laying out the “facts” would suffice to change politicized minds, and especially Republicanones. It was a typically wonkish, liberal revelation: One based on statistics and data. Only this time, the data were showing, rather awkwardly, that people ignore data and evidence—and often, knowledge and education only make the problem worse.

Someone had sent me a 2008 Pew report documenting the intense partisan divide in the U.S. over the reality of global warming.. It’s a divide that, maddeningly for scientists, has shown a paradoxical tendency to widen even as the basic facts about global warming have become more firmly established.
Read more…

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Why Rick Perry requires an Education… this guy is/was a Governor?

Rick Perry on Global Warming:

Rick Perry speaking of his rejection of Evolution :

“Well, God is how we got here. God may have done it in the blink of the eye or he may have done it over this long period of time, I don’t know. But I know how it got started.”

How? Adam and Eve?

For some reason I feel really sorry for Texas. When I was working in Austin a few years ago, I thought it was a really neat State. Guess it shifted a lot after 1999.

The Heat Keeps Up…

Looks like the extreme heat is going to keep up for the next few days according to the Weather Channel. The rain they predicted (scattered of course) for last night didn’t occur here in Shepherdstown, WV, so we have still more garden watering to do before we lose our fruits and vegetables (and sunflowers…beautiful sunflowers) to the awful weather.

To some, this is proof that Climate Change is actually happening as announced by the majority of scientists specializing in this stuff. Rush Limbaugh is, I hope, running around in this oven with a sweater on to prove his point. With any luck he’ll collapse from the heat (and blame his fall on Obama.)

As long as the AC is on, I’m spending most of my time in here watching the Republicans shaft Boehner on C-Span.

A Quote for the Morning as I look out the Window at the Weather

Bill McKibben

“We’re making the Earth a more dynamic and violent place. … We’re trapping more of the sun’s energy in this narrow envelope of atmosphere, and that’s now expressing itself in many ways. We don’t know for sure that any particular tornado comes from climate change. There have always been tornadoes. We do know that we’re seeing epic levels of thunderstorm activity, of flooding, of drought, of all the things that climatologists have been warning us about.”

– Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org

Something else we are not doing anything about…don’t you wonder, as Amy Goodman says, “Why aren’t the TV meteorologists, with each story, following the words ‘extreme weather‘ with another two, ‘climate change’?”

Elly and I have cut down on our electricity use, kept our driving to necessities only, and kept the air conditioner off unless the heat becomes unbearable. We try to buy products from companies who have a positive carbon reduction plan as well.

Now all we need is politicians to get behind this as well and keep their great lobbying energy company supporters (are you listening Rockefeller, Manchin, Capito?) at bay. Right now, it doesn’t look like it.

Quote of the Day – So where does Romney stand now?

After moving as far to the right as he could and changing his past “moderate” positions to very conservative ones, Romney came out in New Hampshire yesterday accepting the left-ish view on Global Warming:

“I believe the world is getting warmer, and I believe that humans have contributed to that. It’s important for us to reduce our emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases that may be significant contributors.”

Of course the view that humans are contributing to climate change is highly controversial one in GOP circles. Most conservatives fiercely dispute the notion that Earth is warming at all. This does not put Romney, who is having trouble enough getting around his Massachusetts Health Care plan with Republicans, anywhere near the potential for their universal support.

Of course, he does know the real story of Paul Revere’s Ride.

I was so happy to see that the NY Times has the CATF in their Summer Theatre Season listing.

Contemporary American Theater Festival

I didn’t remember seeing CATF last year, but this year, when the NY Times ran it’s annual listing of major theater sites across the country, there was the Contemporary American Theater Festival, the only listing under West Virginia in Summer Stages.

Looks like our local festival, now entering its 21st year, is being recognized in the major listings. Congratulations to Ed Herendeen and staff.

The Plays in Repertory, JULY 8 – 31:
FROM PRAGUE by Kyle Bradstreet
RACE by David Mamet
AGES OF THE MOON by Sam Shepard
WE ARE HERE by Tracy Thorne
THE INSURGENTS by Lucy Thurber

Went to Green Drinks in Harper’s Ferry…

Green Drinks is a group that gets together once a month so that people with interests in conservation, green energy and related subjects can interact with each other. Elly has been going to this since it relates to Sustainable Shepherdstown. Tonite I went along with her.

There was a speaker this evening, something I’m told doesn’t usually happen at these events. His name is John Amos and his company is SkyTruth. This is an organization which uses satellite and aerial photography to evaluate the effects of oil drilling and shale fracking and other destructive things that people do to the earth. He has been especially involved with viewing BP’s oil leak history in the Gulf.

Amos gave a slide presentation with amazing pictures that got us all worked up and had us considering what we could do to help correct the situation… not an easy thing to do.

More on the solutions later.

Nearby Neigbors in PA: A Colossal Fracking Mess

Tower for drilling horizontally into the Marce...

Drill Apparatus in PA for Marcellus Shale

This is a long and detailed article from Vanity Fair by Christopher Bateman (with Photographs), and it should be read by everyone in the Marcellus Shale area (like West Virginians). 

This a very partial fragment… go into Vanity Fair on the link below and read it all.

clipped from www.vanityfair.com
Sixty miles west of Damascus, the town of Dimock, population 1,400, makes all too clear the dangers posed by hydraulic fracturing.
Although there is a moratorium on drilling new wells for the time being, you can still see the occasional active drill site, manned by figures in hazmat suits and surrounded by klieg lights, trailers, and pits of toxic wastewater, the derricks towering over barns, horses, and cows in their shadows.
Dimock is now known as the place where, over the past two years, people’s water started turning brown and making them sick, one woman’s water well spontaneously combusted, and horses and pets mysteriously began to lose their hair.
“It was so bad sometimes that my daughter would be in the shower in the morning, and she’d have to get out of the shower and lay on the floor” because of the dizzying effect the chemicals in the water had on her, recalls Craig Sautner, who has worked as a cable splicer for Frontier Communications his whole life.
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I’m having a cup of coffee at Mellow Moods post radio show…

John and I had Karen Valentine and Laurel Parker from Source, the new inter-cooperative business on Princess Street in Shepherdstown. A little political and VERRRY local (pushing hard at “buy local” for as many things as you can), they have established themselves as a recycling source (where else can you bring your dead batteries and old panty-hose around here) and a sales area for local crafters, farmers, soapmakers and others.

They are having an opening blast on Sunday at 3:00 and I expect that Elly and I will get there for it. Hope you can, too.

John couldn’t make it to the Mood today, but I needed to say hi to Phil and friends and have a cup of coffee with everyone. Then I’ll get home and work on cleaning the junk out of the cellar.

Thunderstorm last night… rain at last!

It has been dry here for so long…what a relief to have a day when I don’t have to force water the garden. The thunder started booming at Midnight last night… my smaller dog Byron is afraid of thunder, so he followed at my heels as I went around the house closing windows on the rain-in side.

Checking the weather on line, it’s supposed to rain again today. The grass may turn green again from the dead brown it has become. We have had only about half the rainfall this year as we had last year, and last year was less than the year before. The climate change is affecting us here in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia as it is all over the country… and it’s not good. We have water now to regularly water gardens and wash cars, etc. What will happen if that water disappears?

I read the other day that by 2055, assuming everything continues as it is now going and we don’t take on any worldwide steps to stop or reverse the change, our water will be highly limited and what we have left will be too polluted to drink or use for farming. Time is working against us. I don’t imagine I’ll be around in 2055, but my son probably will… and my grandchildren, who are entering into a new world that I am, at this point, happy to avoid. Why can’t we convince the world that change has to be made now?

Long discussion with my wife on how to take on Global Warming…

Elly saw a movie last night, “The Age of Stupid,” presented by Sustainable Shepherdstown, and we talked about the difficulties of defeating Global Warming (or Climate Change) before it destroys us (The movie has the world ending in 2055 after nothing is done much earlier to make things less carbon-emitted.)

I wondered if we had not started already to reduce the major causes of this carbon phenomenon. Apparently we haven’t. Elly was most concerned with the major carbon emissions posed by flying ( first, because our son is planning to move to Wisconsin after he gets his graduate degree and she wants to visit him and flying is the solution for quick visits; second, because she wants to travel to Europe and other parts of the world.)

While certain things are possible immediately if we have the gumption and will to do them (like painting all our roads, driveways and rooftops white… something we heard a guy lecture about on television… which would reflect sunlight back instead of soaking it up and making more heat), most won’t happen as long as our current political leaders are more consumed by money, elections and the opinions of the very wealthy corporations that cause much of the problem. There is a Lobbyist Limitation in the Climate Cooling sector!

One thing the movie pointed out was the number of people who say they support “alternative energy” such as windfarms, but have a distinctly NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) approach to the subject. They want the saving grace of non-carbon fueled energy (a real no no here in West Virginia which still depends on coal mining for jobs), they just don’t want to see it. The same holds true for solar panel farms which wold take up acres of local space.

In June of 2009, the US Global Change Research Project released its report on the effect of Climate Change in our country. The result, which challenges those who do not believe Global Warming is and actual process, are summed up in this report:

Observations show that warming of the climate is unequivocal. The global warming observed over the past 50 years is due primarily to human-induced emissions of heat-trapping gases. These emissions come mainly from the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil, and gas), with important contributions from the clearing of forests, agricultural practices, and other activities.
_____________
Climate-related changes have already been observed globally and in the United States. These include increases in air and water temperatures, reduced frost days, increased frequency and intensity of heavy downpours, a rise in sea level, and reduced snow cover, glaciers, permafrost, and sea ice. A longer ice-free period on lakes and rivers, lengthening of the growing season, and increased water vapor in the atmosphere have also been observed. Over the past 30 years, temperatures have risen faster in winter than in any other season, with average winter temperatures in the Midwest and northern Great Plains increasing more than 7°F. Some of the changes have been faster than previous assessments had suggested.

Whatever the situation and whoever we, as individuals effected by our own extreme promotion of increased carbon emissions, claim to be does not seem to be making the necessary changes fast enough, if at all. Solutions are somewhat clear, but making them work is a whole other story… and one that we don’t seem ready for.

Opponents of Alaska wilderness road enlist ex-secretary Babbitt

I found this in my McClatchy update this morning… with everything else that has changed for the worse in America since Reagan, the state of our National preserves is one thing I would hope would remain pristine in the face of corporate advances.
clipped from www.mcclatchydc.com
Opponents of a proposed road through Alaska’s Izembek Wildlife Refuge have enlisted the help of an environmental heavyweight: former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt.

Babbitt, a former Arizona governor who served in President Bill Clinton’s Cabinet, has signed a letter asking the current occupant of the office, Ken Salazar, to find that a road through the refuge is not in the public interest.

If Salazar agrees to the road, it would the first-ever road authorized in a wilderness area in the 45-year history of the Wilderness Act, Babbitt warned, setting a “dangerous precedent.”

The road could “jeopardize all the wilderness lands that we and so many others have worked tirelessly to set aside for future generations: every national park, refuge and wilderness area that the Department is pledged to protect,” Babbitt wrote to Salazar.

The Interior Department is reviewing Babbitt’s letter, said spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff.

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