May the Fourth be with You!

Disney Storyboard Drawing of a Dinosaur from Fantasia (1940)

Good Morning!

I’ve always loved SF and fantasy but I’ve also loved delving into the mysterious past.  What kid doesn’t like stories about dinosaurs and spaceships?  One of all time favorite things to watch is Disney’s Fantasia. I love the animated Dinosaurs brought to life to the strains of Stravinsky’s ‘The Rite of Spring’.  There’s some news dealing with the EPA, our planet, and our dependence on fossil fuels I’d like to share today.  Climate change is real.  The current administration only cares about enriching itself and its friends.  What does this mean for our fragile time on this planet?

 

From The Grist: Humans didn’t exist the last time there was this much CO2 in the air.

The last time atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were this high, millions of years ago, the planet was very different. For one, humans didn’t exist.

On Wednesday, scientists at the University of California in San Diego confirmedthat April’s monthly average atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration breached 410 parts per million for the first time in our history.

We know a lot about how to track these changes. The Earth’s carbon dioxide levels peak around this time every year for a pretty straightforward reason. There’s more landmass in the northern hemisphere, and plants grow in a seasonal cycle. During the summer, they suck down CO2, during the winter, they let it back out. The measurements were made at Mauna Loa, Hawaii — a site chosen for its pristine location far away from the polluting influence of a major city.

Increasingly though, pollution from the world’s cities is making its way to Mauna Loa — and everywhere else on Earth.

In little more than a century of frenzied fossil-fuel burning, we humans have altered our planet’s atmosphere at a rate dozens of times faster than natural climate change. Carbon dioxide is now more than 100 ppm higher than any direct measurements from Antarctic ice cores over the past 800,000 years, and probably significantly higher than anything the planet has experienced for at least 15 million years. That includes eras when Earth was largely ice-free.

Not only are carbon dioxide levels rising each year, they are accelerating. Carbon dioxide is climbing at twice the pace it was 50 years ago. Even the increases are increasing.

That’s happening for several reasons, most important of which is that we’re still burning a larger amount of fossil fuels each year. Last year, humanity emitted the highest level of greenhouse gas emissions in history — even after factoring in the expansion of renewable energy. At the same time, the world’s most important carbon sinks — our forests — are dying, and therefore losing their ability to pull carbon dioxide out of the air and store it safely in the soil. The combination of these effects means we are losing ground, and fast.

 

From the New York Times: ‘It was 122.4°F This Week in Pakistan, Probably a World Record for April’

Even in Pakistan, no stranger to blistering heat, the temperature on Monday stood out: 122.4 degrees Fahrenheit.

The reading came from Nawabshah, a city of 1.1 million people in southern Pakistan, and meteorologists say it is the highest temperature ever reliably recorded, anywhere in the world, in the month of April.

The World Meteorological Organization keeps global temperature records, but not by month, which means Monday in Nawabshah cannot be officially confirmed as the hottest April day. But experts on extreme temperatures say it probably is.

Christopher C. Burt, the author of “Extreme Weather: A Guide and Record Book” and a contributor to Weather Underground, said that 122.4 degrees, or 50.2 degrees Celsius, appeared to be the hottest reliably measured April temperature “in modern records for any location on Earth.” Only one reading might challenge it: 123.8 degrees Fahrenheit, or 51 degrees Celsius, recorded in Santa Rosa, Mexico, in April 2011. But Mr. Burt said that measurement was “questionable because the site was a regional observation site and not of first order.”

Fantasia “Rite of Spring” Concept Art (Walt Disney, 1940)

From Montana’s KRTV 3: ‘Clean-up plan being developed for oil spill on Fort Peck Indian Reservation’.

A oil spill occurred at an oil well operated by Anadarko Minerals Inc. near Lustre, which is located in the central region of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation.

According to a press release, the spill was reported to the Tribes’ Office of Environmental Protection (OEP) on Friday, April 27.

The spill was spotted by a rancher doing a flyover in the area. The exact date that the leak occurred has not yet been determined. The well had been shut-in in late December of 2017.

Wilfred Lambert of the Fort Peck Tribes OEP and officials from the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) initially estimated that 600 barrels of oil and 90,000 barrels of production water, also known as brine, were released from the well.

The oil and brine flowed approximately 200 yards downhill to a stock pond used by tribal entities for watering livestock.

The press release states that the extent of the stock pond’s contamination has not been determined. Early assessments indicate about three to six inches of oil sitting on top of the water.

I don’t think these three event require much explanation and cannot be viewed with too much consternation.  We’ve been warned about all of this by the scientists and Cassandras of earth science and climate science.  It’s all getting worse at a much faster and more disturbing rate than projected.

Meanwhile, Scott Pruitt is the swamp thing that administers our EPA.  You know, that agency that was the pride of the Nixon administration meant to clean up our messes and perpetual destruction of our environment.  He also frets his brow over the Bureau of Land Management and the Department of Interior.   The BLM came about during the Truman years.  The Department of interior has been around since 1849 and has its roots as far back as Madison although it was established through the Polk administration on the eve of Zachary Taylor’s inauguration. It is the agency which took the main approach to Native Americans after a number of Secretaries of States argued that the land and indigenous people of America was not best served by their Departments. These agencies really are most responsible for our past and our future in numerous ways.

  Both the Department of Interior and the EPA are headed by knuckle dragging, corrupt fools. There also seems to be some internecine drama between their dueling ids. Both have taken the idea of using a Federal position for personal benefit and show boating to new heights.

As Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt faces a seemingly endless stream of scandal, his team is scrambling to divert the spotlight to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. And the White House isn’t happy about it.

In the last week, a member of Pruitt’s press team, Michael Abboud, has been shopping negative stories about Zinke to multiple outlets, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the efforts, as well as correspondence reviewed by The Atlantic.

“This did not happen, and it’s categorically false,” EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox said.

The stories were shopped with the intention of “taking the heat off of Pruitt,” the sources said, in the aftermath of the EPA chief’s punishing congressional hearing last week. They both added, however, that most reporters felt the story was not solid enough to run. On Thursday, Patrick Howley of Big League Politics published a piece on the allegations; he did not respond to request for comment as to his sources.

Abboud alleged to reporters that an Interior staffer conspired with former EPA deputy chief of staff Kevin Chmielewski to leak damaging information about the EPA, as part of a rivalry between Zinke and Pruitt. The collaboration, Abboud claimed, allowed the Interior staffer to prop up Zinke at the expense of Pruitt, and Chmielewski to “get back” at his former boss.

Abboud offered to connect reporters with Healy Baumgardner as a second source, according to a person with direct knowledge. Baumgardner, a former Trump campaign official, is a global energy lobbyist for the U.S.-China Exchange. She’s close to some EPA officials, the source, as well as an EPA official, confirmed. Baumgardner did not immediately return a request for comment.

According to the two sources, Interior staffers who fielded the reporters’ calls were able to ascertain that Abboud, who is a former Trump campaign official, was behind the stories. The Interior Department’s White House liaison then called the White House Presidential Personnel Office to complain about his conduct.

There is a stream of complaints about Pruitt’s conduct.  None of them garner the proper attention.

Scott Pruitt’s itinerary for a February trip to Israel was remarkable by any standard for an Environmental Protection Agency administrator: A stop at a controversial Jewish settlement in the West Bank. An appearance at Tel Aviv University. A hard-to-get audience with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

One force behind Pruitt’s eclectic agenda: casino magnate and Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson, a major supporter of Israel who arranged parts of Pruitt’s visit.

The Israel trip was canceled days before Pruitt’s planned departure, after The Washington Post revealed his penchant for first-class travel on the taxpayers’ dime. But federal documents obtained by The Post and interviews with individuals familiar with the trip reveal that it fit a pattern by Pruitt of planning foreign travel with significant help from outside interests, including lobbyists, Republican donors and conservative activists.

After taking office last year, Pruitt drew up a list of at least a dozen countries he hoped to visit and urged aides to help him find official reasons to travel, according to four people familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal agency deliberations. Pruitt then enlisted well-connected friends and political allies to help make the trips happen.

Ongoing allegations of Pruitt’s attempts to the EPA into his person bank and travel agency are astounding.  They keep oozing out of his swamp.  From EWG: ‘Reports: Before Confirmed, Scott Pruitt Wanted EPA Office, Private Phone Booth in Okla.’

Congressional leaders are demanding information from Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt over allegations he wanted taxpayers to open an office in his hometown of Tulsa, Okla., before he was confirmed by the Senate.

Democrats on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee sent letters this week to Pruitt and the head of the Government Services Administration seeking all records that may show there was an attempt to find an office in Tulsa.

The letters say that in early 2017, Ryan Jackson – now Pruitt’s chief of staff but then a top congressional aide – wanted the GSA to look for office space in Tulsa, 250 miles from the EPA regional headquarters in Dallas. Jackson asked that the office include a private, secure phone booth, like the one Pruitt later spent $43,000 to install at EPA headquarters in Washington.

“It appears that even before he was confirmed, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt had dreams of dismantling programs to protect air, water and kids from pollution from the comforts of an office in his hometown,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “What better place to have a secure phone booth to receive instructions from the energy lobby, and avoid the pesky expertise of agency scientists and lawyers?”

“Each day brings new evidence of Pruitt’s obsession to embellish the trappings of his office and adorn his days with pricey perquisites, taxpayers be damned. Historians will make note of Pruitt’s record of fleecing the public and attacking public health as signature ‘accomplishments’ of the Trump presidency.”

Trump appears unwilling to deal with Pruitt.  This is from VOX: ‘Why Trump would really, really rather not fire Scott Pruitt. The EPA administrator has given the White House most of the few policy wins it has to date.’  That’s rather disturbing.

Scott Pruitt’s tenure as head of the Environmental Protection Agency is now deeply tainted by a stunning number of alleged ethical and legal violations. There are at least 10 investigations into potential violations like his $43,000 phone booth, his 20-person security detail, and his housing deal with a lobbyist’s wife. And fallout, like the resignation and new congressional scrutiny of the head of his security team, Pasquale Perrotta (just reported by ABC News), continues.

To some Democrats in the House and Senate, environmental groups who’ve launched the Boot Pruitt campaign, and former top ethics officials, what should happen now is very clear: Pruitt should resign.

“I think your actions are an embarrassment to President Trump and distract from the EPA’s ability to effectively carry out the president’s mission,” said Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) during one of two House hearings on Pruitt last week. (A whistleblower, by the way, is now saying Pruitt lied during the hearings.)

Yet in an administration afflicted with unprecedented turnover, Pruitt has remained startlingly resilient.

His subservience to Trump appears to be one reason why he has dodged the ax. “People are not people to [Trump], they are instruments of his ego,” Tony Schwartz, the ghostwriter on Trump’s book The Art of the Deal, told the New York Times. “And when they serve his ego, they survive, and when they don’t, they pass into the night.”

Pruitt must be impeached if Trump refuses to deal with him. This from Forbes.

No self-respecting prosecutor would be proud of winning a shoplifting conviction for a suspected murderer. But that’s almost exactly what’s happening in the congressional investigation of Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt.

Last week, lawmakers grilled Pruitt for renting a ridiculously cheap luxury condo from the wife of a lobbyist trying to get EPA approval for a client’s project. They asked why he reassigned investigators of criminal violations of environmental laws to his personal security detail.

It was all about the “appearance” of corruption. But the truth is that these petty corruptions pale in comparison to Pruitt’s actual policy record at the EPA.

The EPA is a science agency. It’s supposed to consult closely with scientists and base its decisions on rigorous evidence. While adherence to this principle has never been perfect, under Pruitt’s leadership it’s been trashed beyond recognition.

Even as he was about to face his congressional questioning, Pruitt announced a deceptive science “transparency” initiative. It’s a proposed rule stating that only scientific studies which are reproducible, and in which all underlying data are publicly available, can be used as the basis for regulation.

It sounds unobjectionable. But it would end up keeping a whole lot of public health data—on the impact of pollution, pesticides, or climate change, for example—out of the EPA’s hands.

For obvious ethical reasons, many public health studies can’t be repeated—not if they’d entail intentionally exposing people to toxins—and raw data on individuals’ health histories usually can’t be disclosed. Several hundred scientists pointed out these facts in a letter to Pruitt, but Pruitt doesn’t care what scientists think.

It gets really egregious when you look at what kind of data political appointees at the EPA want to exempt from the rule: proprietary corporate data, according to internal discussions obtained by the Union of Concerned Scientists. The proposed rule provides wide discretion to the EPA administrator—and only the administrator—to grant exemptions to the transparency requirement on a case-by-case basis. And Pruitt seems far more inclined to grant those exceptions to polluting industries, not

So many policies and actions of modern Republicans basically are aimed at killing every one.  They are either extremely shorted sided or actually believe that they will some how escape the karma they’re bringing on to the planet and country.  It might be that they are simply a cult of mass destruction since so many of them are whack-a-do Dominionists and actively seek an ends times.

They are bringing on an end times or a dystopia or whatever it is that I used to watch and read about in those old books.  I’m not seeing a Star Trek future in any of this.  In any case, we must stop this administration before these things cannot be undone. Enough of what’s gone on recently appears irreversible as it is.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 

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20 Comments on “May the Fourth be with You!”

  1. dakinikat says:

  2. Pat Johnson says:

    Does it have Obama’s name on it?

    Then it must go! Regulations are such pesky things when it stands in the way of business.

    So much bullshit all the time. How much can we be expected to take?

  3. dakinikat says:

  4. Enheduanna says:

    Star Trek future – I’m afraid you are right Dak.

    Hope that shows up!

  5. bostonboomer says:

    Long story on Charlie Rose abuse at NY Review of Books.

    The Open Secret of Charlie Rose, by Reah Bravo

    https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2018/05/04/the-open-secret-of-charlie-rose/

  6. joanelle says:

    Jake Tapper was interviewed this morning on WNYC by Brian Laird about his book, the Hellfire group.

    It is a novel but it focuses on the ’50s and McCarthyism. You can download the interview at WNYC, in it Jake talks about how it was the (weeny-my word) journalists who wouldn’t push back that ruined lives, and our culture at the time and are ruining our lives today by printing every word whether lies or not, and he’s getting good feedback from Dems and Trumpians alike

  7. bostonboomer says:

    • dakinikat says:

      oy. it seems like an endless parade of corruption with that one!

      Which is why Scott Pruitt’s achievement is so remarkable. In an administration full of venal self-dealers (none more than the man at the top), the Environmental Protection Agency chief has emerged as easily the most corrupt senior official in the federal government — that we know of anyway.

  8. NW Luna says:

  9. NW Luna says:

    Really glad to see this. We need DiFi to continue in office.

    • quixote says:

      It’s simple at this point to figure who and what to vote for. You figure out what the Russian bots are pushing and vote for the opposite, or for the one thing they’re trying to kill. Works every time and all over the world. So easy. :sardonic face here:

  10. NW Luna says:

  11. dakinikat says: