Biomass. That sounds ok, doesn’t it?

Well, it sounds better than tree burning for electricity.

The industry types got biomass included in the green energy tax credits and it’s off and running, but is it green?

Dr. Tom Termotto and I don’t think so.

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“. . . Biomass incineration is NOT clean and green, it’s not sustainable and
renewable; it’s not carbon neutral, not cost effective;
and it’s neither environmentally friendly nor ecologically sound.”

By Dr. Tom Termotto
Shall we begin by stating that biomass incinerators are rarely, if ever, factually represented by the many sales pitches we see issued by the Energy Industry sector that promotes them. In fact, the marketing language that has now become de rigueur is reminiscent of George Orwell’s 1984. “War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.”
To the point, biomass incineration is NOT clean and green, sustainable and renewable, carbon neutral and cost effective, or environmentally friendly and ecologically sound. It is quite the opposite of these beautiful and alluring marketing slogans. Biomass incineration is in reality quite polluting, unsustainable to the extreme and, in some cases, less environmentally friendly than coal burning plants.

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Everything is Fine

The NYT has a story on the fires in Russia. Sounds a little distressing, but Dr. Onischenko says everything is fine.

That’s the official story.

Ok, but with a lot of folks pushing nuclear as clean, green energy source, maybe we should challenge the industry technicians to show that they can clean up an accident site before we commit to more potential accident sites. I realize that this is a non-starter because for the most part, the industry cannot clean up a site like Chernobyl or Three Mile Island, but what does that tell you?

Of course, the deniers will say no connection between the heat waves stoking fires like these or the ones in Australia because they can find a datapoint somewhere that shows an unusually early or late frost event. There is a connection between these extreme weather events and global warming. It is predicted and documented.

Let’s deal with some big data sets, please.

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Russian Fires Raise Fears of Radioactivity

MOSCOW — As if things in Russia were not looking sufficiently apocalyptic already, with 100-degree temperatures and noxious fumes rolling in from burning peat bogs and forests, there is growing alarm here that fires in regions coated with fallout from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster 24 years ago could now be emitting plumes of radioactive smoke.

“Fires on these territories will without a doubt lead to an increase in radiation,” said Vladimir Chuprov, head of the energy program at Greenpeace Russia. “The smoke will spread and the radioactive traces will spread. The amount depends upon the force of the wind.”Russia’s emergency minister, Sergei K. Shoigu, warned last week that the fires could release radioactive particles.

Responding to the Greenpeace statement on Tuesday, Dr. Gennadi G. Onishchenko, Russia’s chief sanitary doctor, played down the danger.

“There is no need to sow panic,” he told the Interfax news agency. “Everything is fine.”

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Early Puberty and Environmental Degradation

I am going out on the limb a little ways and predicting that environmental degradation, the prevalence of environmental chemicals that mimic estrogen are going to be the primary cause of the early puberty onset. The article in the NYT mentions some of the downsides, including increased risk of cancer and the psychosocial issues related to early onset puberty, but it does not sound an alarm very loudly.

The article also makes no connection between obesity, consumption of mass produced food-like substances, fast-food nutrition and exposure to higher levels of certain chemicals that relate to feedlot practices, the wholesale use of antibiotics, and other feed and animal cultivation practices that are simply unprecedented in human history.

The thing to take away from a story like this one is that our environment is not that large. With a population of 6 plus billion human beings it is possible for us to begin to change the environment in ways that may not be good for our species. We might want to think that through.

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First Signs of Puberty Seen in Younger Girls

A new study finds that girls are more likely today than in the past to start developing breasts by age 7 or 8.

Increased rates of obesity are thought to play a major role, because body fat can produce sex hormones. Some researchers also suspect that environmental chemicals that mimic the effects of estrogen may be speeding up the clock on puberty, but that idea is unproved.

The new study is being published on Monday in the journal Pediatrics. It was paid for by government grants and conducted at hospitals that are part of the Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Centers, a group formed in 2003 after breast cancer advocates petitioned Congress to set aside money to study possible links between environmental exposures and breast cancer.

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No One is Illegal

It seems like a crazy thing to me that so many Americans have the idea that the descendants of the first inhabitants of this continent are illegal when they show up here now. We seized a lot of this continent by force. We imposed a private european land ownership scheme that invalidated an indigenous land ownership scheme that largely saw land, air, water as a commons.

It’s a strange world. We now have a Supreme Court that would probably be willing to overturn precedent to reinstate Plessy v. Ferguson, if not Dred Scott and we have “moderate” Senator Lindsay Graham calling the 14th amendment a mistake. You have to give the Confederate States of America credit for their persistence even if you have to throw out logic, justice and compassion to join with them.  It would be simply sad to watch if the Obama press guy had not let it slip recently that these folks are in good shape for the mid-term election.

Here’s a link to the NYT article.

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Citizenship From Birth Is Challenged on the Right

At a breakfast on Thursday in Washington, Senator Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, tried to tamp down a controversy that started when Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, questioned the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which grants the right to citizenship to anyone born in the United States.

“I am not aware of anybody who has come out in favor of altering the 14th Amendment,” Mr. McConnell said.

But Mr. Graham, speaking on Fox News last week, said it was “a mistake” to allow American-born children of illegal immigrants to become citizens automatically, a practice known as birthright citizenship. He said that along with a plan to grant legal status to millions of illegal immigrants, he would also amend the 14th Amendment as a way of discouraging future unauthorized immigration.

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Afpakistan – what are we doing here?

Here are a few interesting/alarming stories from our 52nd state:

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Dangerous Heat Wave Underway

To some extent this is just another weather story. Dangerous heatwaves are not new, but it’s worth noting that this article makes zero mention of global warming and there is no question that these dangerous heatwaves will be more common, more deadly as our global climate warms.

It seems to me that it is a necessary function of the press to make these connections so that folks can calculate their commitment to addressing their personal commitment to halting global warming. It’s not just about polar bears.

Stay cool.

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(CNN) — Forecasters have issued advisories for at least 18 states Thursday as dangerous heat continues to scorch parts of the South, Midwest and the North.

A combination of sweltering temperatures and high humidity could cause heat-related illnesses, the National Weather Service said.

The number of suspected heat-related deaths reported by health officials across the South and Midwest in the past week reached at least nine Wednesday as temperatures continued to hit triple digits.

Scorching heat prompts warnings in 18 states

the CNN Wire Staff

August 5, 2010 9:09 a.m. EDT

The heat index — what the temperature feels like when combined with the humidity — is soaring across much of the South.
Those at greater risk include infants and young children, people 65 or older and those who are already ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure.

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Talking Points on Taxes

The right-wingers like to say that Govt does not create jobs, that only putting money in the hands of wealthy individuals in this country will produce jobs.

If that was true, there would be no jobless in the US today. We have shifted a huge amount of money/wealth/income to the top income brackets and now we have the 99’ers. Folks who have exhausted their unemployment benefits and are considering the prospect of living in their cars.

The NYT is covering the 99’ers part of that story.

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99 Weeks Later, Jobless Have Only Desperation

BRATTLEBORO, Vt. — Facing eviction from her Tennessee apartment after several months of unpaid rent, Alexandra Jarrin packed up whatever she could fit into her two-door coupe recently and drove out of town.

“Barring a miracle, I’m going to be in my car,” she said.

Ms. Jarrin is part of a hard-luck group of jobless Americans whose members have taken to calling themselves “99ers,” because they have exhausted the maximum 99 weeks of unemployment insurance benefits that they can claim.

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