Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Kiss a Rock Week

Ribbon Limestone, Moselem Member of Virginville Formation (Ordovician), near Shoemakersville, Pennsylvania

October 9-15 is Earth Science Week. This year's theme is "Our Shared Geoheritage."  Rather than focusing on one aspect of earth science, this year's theme considers a variety of geologic fields and how people interact with earth features and resources and are affected by them.

Earth Science Week promotes education and understanding of our environment. There are activities for the classroom, other activities that focus on specific areas, and contests. And, very helpful, a directory of geoscience agencies, companies, and organizations around the country.

So go ahead and learn more about how geology has affected history and continues to affect life, politics, and the economy. Check out Earth Science Week for more information and local events.

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Sunday, August 28, 2016

Thank You, Americans for Prosperity (for reminding me why I should vote for Katie McGinty)

I received a flyer in the mail today from Americans for Prosperity (AFP), the evil spawn of the Koch brothers, pleading for me to vote against Katie McGinty. Their chief argument is that McGinty, as senator, will support energy policies that might be disadvantageous to fossil fuels.

Should I be surprised that a bunch of rich old farts want me to vote in a way that will make them richer? At my expense? Of course AFP favors continued use and extraction of fossil fuels, just as Big Tobacco favors continued smoking.

The flyer threatens that electricity costs will go up, groceries will cost more, and wages are down, and it is all, according to AFP, Katie McGinty's fault. But AFP fails to mention the costs that will be incurred if energy policy ignores climate change and the pressing need to switch away from fossil fuels.

According to The Cost of Delaying Action to Stem Climate Change, issued by the White House, "a delay that results in warming of 3 deg C above preindustrial levels, instead of 2 deg C, could increase economic damages by approximately 0.9 percent of global output." And these costs are incurred every year. But the Koch brothers won't be paying--your children and grandchildren, and their children, will pay. If mitigation is attempted, but delayed, those "costs increase, ,on average, by approximately 40 percent for each decade of delay." Not only does mitigation become more expensive, it also becomes more difficult.

Unemployment in the past decade has been strongly affected by the severe recession that began during the George W. Bush administration. The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) estimates that the Clean Power Plan will likely increase jobs by about 360,000 in 2020, with slower rates of job creation down to a gain of about 15,000 jobs in 2030.

Changes in weather patterns resulting from climate change will lead to greater monetary losses in coastal zones. According to the Risky Business Project (co-chaired by Michael R. Bloomberg, Henry M. Paulson, Jr., and Thomas F. Steyer), under the business-as-usual scenario, $66B to $106B worth of coastal property will be inundated by rising sea level, and that figure rises to $238B to $507B by 2100. Losses due to hurricanes will grow by more than $42B due to the effect of higher sea level on the inland reach of storms. Potential changes in hurricane activity could increase that figure to $108B. Increased incidence and duration of extreme heat threaten productivity, energy systems, food production, and health. Health impacts of extreme heat have already cost lives in Europe and Russia.

So, cleaning up emissions, particularly carbon dioxide, from power generation and transportation sources is extremely important from the standpoint of global warming. But it is also very important for its consequences on health. A study published in Nature Climate Change, predicts immediate, substantial health benefits coming from a strong Clean Power Plan, with expected prevention of 3,500 premature deaths in the United States annually, as well as reduced incidence of heart attacks and hospitalization.

So AFP and the Koch brothers don't give a damn if you take a loss on property or miss out on the rising tide of employment in the renewable energy field, or even get sick and die--the Kochtopus doesn't have all your money yet, so it still has a reason for being. And they want you to believe that you, too, will gain from their efforts.

And then there is a whole 'nother issue not mentioned in the AFP flyer--if you vote against McGinty, for whom do you vote? There are three candidates listed: Democrat McGinty, Republican Toomey, and Libertarian Clifford. The flyer does not suggest which of McGinty's oppnents one ought to vote for. Well, they legally cannot do that, because as a 501(c)(4) "social welfare organization," they are obliged to be non-partisan, neither supporting nor opposing any political candidates (and yet they are opposing McGinity?). It's obvious (Clifford who?) that AFP prefers Pat Toomey for U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania. Like the Koch brothers, Pat Toomey denies humans have had anything to do with changing climate: "My view is: I think the data is pretty clear. There has been an increase in the surface temperature of the planet over the course of the last 100 years or so. I think it's clear that that has happened. The extent to which that has been caused by human activity I think is not as clear. I think that is still very much disputed and has been debated." The overwhelming consensus among climate researchers is that human activity is the primary contributor toward global warming. But Toomey is a politician; he don't need no stinkin' science!

For the reasons discussed above, as well as for his desperate efforts to deny the reality of climate change and his giving fossil-fuel profits higher priority over human health, Pat Toomey is unfit for reelection to the United States Senate. But there is still another factor to disqualify him. He has refused to discharge his Constitutional duty to vote on President Barack Obama's nominee for justice of the United States Supreme Court. Sure, he cannot bring the name up for a vote on his own. But he could argue with the other dodging senators (particularly Justice Committee chair Grassley and Majority Leader McConnell) and try to convince them to allow the Senate to fulfill its duty. When I wrote urging Toomey to do the job he is being paid to do, he responded very condescendingly, saying (as I translate) "I hope I hope I hope a Republican will be elected president in 2016!" Well, Sen. Toomey, how's that Donald working out for you?

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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

What's the Buzz?

I just thought it was time for a new picture.Way past time, actually. So here's a yellowjacket on a goldenrod in front of my house. I don't know what species it is, and I probably won't be able to figure it out from this view. Bugs can be so difficult to photograph because they always seem to move just before you press the shutter. Perhaps my next post will do better--I sprayed a yellowjacket nest at my neighbor's house (it was by his deck stairs and people were getting stung). I took a couple of the bodies home to identify, and will get some pictures of them motionlessly posing (with a pin through the thorax). 


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Friday, July 22, 2016

Telephone Sex

"Hello, Fox News? This is Donald."

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Wednesday, December 09, 2015

"Happy Holidays" my ass!

Baby Jesus is ready to kick some butt. The wee Babe said, "I'm going to kill their families!" Oh wait, my bad, that was the other Son of God, Donald Trump who said that. After yet another mass shooting in America, Sweet Baby Jesus attended a gun show to celebrate the ready availability of guns in this nation. Ah, sorry, wrong Son of God again--that was Texas Senator Ted Cruz. Well, Jesus accompanied his parents when they went as refugees into Egypt. He then declared, "No more refugees from the Middle East shall be allowed here!" Sorry, I erred again; it was Dr. Ben Carson who declared that. The Holy Tyke went on to say, "Don't worry about mass shootings! It's all part of God's Plan! Don't call upon your rulers to curb easy access to weapons." Oh, right, that wasn't Jesus, it was Florida Senator Marco Rubio. The Infant took a long draw on a joint and explained, "Free college education could kill a person--It's like the crabs in the, you know, whatever--the crabs in the boiling water...The frogs. You think it's warm, and it feels pretty good and then it feels like you're in a whirlpool--you know, a Jacuzzi or something. And then you're dead. That's how it works." Yikes, I missed again. It was former Florida Governor Jeb Bush who said that. Returning to an earlier subject, Baby Jesus declared that not even little children should be shown love and allowed to come to you. Nah, that was New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Daring to be different, the God-Child insisted that money be taken from the poor and needy and be given to the rich. Or was that Kentucky Senator Rand Paul?  But in any case, no persons should be subject to the governing authorities, as a nation's justice system does not have the final say on everything. Whoops,former Pennsylvanian and Senator Rick Santorum uttered that idea. The Child of God continued, saying those who are poor and sick should have no need of hope for healing--Gosh, no, that was former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee

By-and-by Jesus said, "I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick or in prison and you did not visit me." He answered their incredulity, telling them "Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me." This one he did say. [Matthew 25:42-43, 45]

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Damn Furriners

Donald Trump tweeted that he would reverse President Obama's restoration of the original name to Mt. Denali, claiming that restoring an Alaskan name to an Alaskan mountain was a “great insult” to Ohio.

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Monday, July 13, 2015

I wanted a photo of a butterfly on my computer

No, no! What I meant was I want a file containing a digital photograph loaded onto my computer. But I got this--a Great spangled fritillary (Speyeria cybele) resting on a computer that was in front of my house. The photo was taken in June 2015.

Besides the computer, this butterfly also visits the nearby milkweeds. I've been hoping to see monarchs on the milkweeds, but I haven't. Not even caterpillers or chrysalides, nor eggs. I haven't even seen a monarch in the neighborhood in quite a while. But the great spangled fritillary has become quite common here.

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