Archive for scientists

Worrisome South Carolina climate change report kept secret for over a year

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what's the big secret

One of the nation’s most conservative states failed to release a 102-page report by scientists on how climate change is a reality and how the public should be educated about it. Or as I like to call it, cutting off their lives nose to spite their face.

Honesty, common sense, facts, and self-preservation. How novel.

The report includes studies from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

For example, they say, South Carolina "should prepare for increases in wildlife disease, loss of prime duck hunting habitat and the potential invasion of non-native species such as piranha and Asian swamp eels. Many such exotic species have taken hold in Florida, but as temperatures rise, could move into South Carolina."

Among other disturbing consequences that the state faces, the findings say that “dead zones” in the ocean will increase, as will droughts, flooding due to a rise in sea levels, and of course, disease that would affect sea life and vegetation.

Via The State:

A team of state scientists has outlined serious concerns about the damage South Carolina will suffer from climate change – threats that include invading eels, dying salt marshes, flooded homes and increased diseases in the state’s wildlife.

But few people have seen the team’s study. The findings are outlined in a report on global warming that has been kept secret by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources for more than a year because agency officials say their “priorities have changed.” [...]

Authors of the November 2011 draft said global warming is a reality and the DNR should take a lead role in educating the public about climate change while also increasing scientific research. [...]

Team members left little doubt in the report that they believe rising global temperatures are linked to man-made pollution. That point is widely accepted in the scientific community. Data show sharp increases since the Industrial Revolution of pollutants, such as carbon dioxide, that cause global warming.

The Department of Natural Resources head, who had wanted the report released, retired after he and the then-board chairwoman Caroline Rhodes clashed. Guess which conservative politician promoted Rhodes to her position as board chair shortly after being elected governor? Hint: It rhymes with Schnikki Schnaley.

Here's an idea: Keep the public informed instead of failing to disclose pesky scientific facts that irk your fellow Republicans (Gov. Haley, I'm talking to you) and your corporate pals. Then again, nobody ever said Republicans had foresight, wisdom, ethics, or good judgment.

 cutting off nose to spite face smaller

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VIDEO: BP's "massive cover-up"

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Relevant segment, with Hugh Kaufman and Dahr Jamail, starts at about 27:48.

With BP having poured nearly two million gallons of the dispersant known as Corexit into the Gulf of Mexico, many lawmakers and advocacy groups say the Obama administration is not being candid about the lethal effects of dispersants. We speak with Hugh Kaufman, a senior policy analyst at the EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response and a leading critic of the decision to use Corexit.

Hugh Kaufman is a wonderful source of information about what's going on in the Mad Mad Mad Mad World of BP. Why? Because he keeps me updated constantly, and he has real cred. He's a senior policy analyst with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response.

Today he appeared on Democracy Now, hosted by Amy Goodman. I am so glad he did, because now you can finally hear him say, in his own words, what I have been posting about all this time.

As you watch and listen, you'll hear Hugh refer Jerrold Nadler's efforts, Larry Fink, and Blackrock, among other things. Those are links to posts on each so that you can go back and catch up on the back stories. Most of my Hugh Kaufman posts can be found here, including what he talks about at about 35:00, the dangerous Corexit ingredients that EPA knew about, as opposed to "flying blind" as was claimed.

The use of dispersants (at about 36:30) is intended to cover up, to try to hide, the volume of oil that has been released, saving BP a tankerload of money.  Dispersants make it extremely difficult to clean up the gooey mess, making it impossible to skim the oil out of the water and impossible to quantify.

Hugh also compares the respiratory problems at 9/11's Ground Zero with those of the Oil Volcano. He notes EPA's false statements back then are eerily similar to what is happening in the Gulf. The air is NOT safe, nor is the water. Dispersants mixed with oil are not being tested properly, he says, nor is air pollution.

OSHA and others use BP's contractor for doing air testing; that would be the same company that is used by other companies to prove they don't have a problem. It's a "massive cover-up".

This link takes you to the exploding water video referenced by Hugh. Oil waste was in Alabama's water, not noticeable to the human eye, and children were exposed to it while playing at the beach. EPA claims it has tested the water and says it was safe. Then, from, Mobile, the video surfaced. Explosive news, in every sense.

At about 45:00, Dahr Jamail's (a wonderful journalist who worked with me briefly on an unrelated story) segment begins, and in it he said the following:

Kenneth Feinberg ... in charge of this 20 billion dollar compensation fund for victims...is being paid by BP to do this job...

Ken Feinberg... a BP salesman.

Can of worms doesn't even begin to describe this horrific, multi-layered situation.

In an e-mail today, Hugh said:

BP has, so far, has paid an average of $3,000/claim. That's very little money, given the magnitude of the damages. BP's incessant TV commercials (Link to a peek at the BP ads here) blaring how good a job they're doing making things right, costs orders of magnitude more than that.

He then linked me to this. And this.
And finally, last night Hugh also linked me to the following video:

iReport —

The National Contingency Plan prohibits the use of sinking agents on oil spills.  Why are we debating them?

Hugh:

If this young lad gets the cover-up, how long til more adults do?

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Scientists: Obama not doing enough + VIDEO: Shrimpers exposed to Corexit "bleeding from the rectum"

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There is a theme that's developed over the course of the past year and a half since President Obama got elected. He often has the right ideas and great intentions, but the implementation of those ideas only goes so far.  In short, many people have been disappointed after having high expectations. IMHO, too high (I've posted about that many a time). Let me add this: The realization of his goals isn't solely under his control. Congress plays a huge part in this, too.

For now, let's focus on science, and scientists are a very disappointed bunch, according to this L.A. Times article:

Now scientists charge that the Obama administration is not doing enough to reverse a culture that they contend allowed officials to interfere with their work and limit their ability to speak out.

A stifled scientist is not a happy scientist. Nor an effective one.

Uh-oh! I feel a bad word coming on. The worst word ever, in fact. The dreaded B word...

"We are getting complaints from government scientists now at the same rate we were during the Bush administration," said Jeffrey Ruch, an activist lawyer who heads an organization representing scientific whistle-blowers.

Oy.

Okay, prove it, science types. Don't just complain, be scientific about all that whistle-blowing:

In Florida, water-quality experts reported government interference with efforts to assess damage to the Everglades stemming from development projects.

In the Pacific Northwest, federal scientists said they were pressured to minimize the effects they had documented of dams on struggling salmon populations.

In several Western states, biologists reported being pushed to ignore the effects of overgrazing on federal land.

In Alaska, some oil and gas exploration decisions given preliminary approval under Bush moved forward under Obama, critics said, despite previously presented evidence of environmental harm.

Crap.

Here is the example that really hits home in light of the BP disaster, as you'll see later in this post. This is the one thing that sends unending shivers of fear and waves of anger through my nerve-wracked little body:

The most immediate case of politics allegedly trumping science, some government and outside environmental experts said, was the decision to fight the gulf oil spill with huge quantities of potentially toxic chemical dispersants despite advice to examine the dangers more thoroughly.

Again, I've posted about this subject over and over again. You can find all my posts about the utter stupidity of using dispersants here.

To be fair, and as I said earlier, the Obama administration does come through for us, albeit incrementally:

While overall respect for science may have improved under Obama, several scientists said in interviews that they were still subject to interference.

Which brings us back to that dispersant problem, and it is a huge problem. I cannot stress that enough. In fact, my pal Hugh Kaufman (aka AltaKocker on Twitter) sends me article after article every day, making that very point. And who is this Hugh Kaufman I speak of? He's a senior policy analyst at the EPA’s office of solid waste and emergency response.

Speak of the devil:

Ruch's organization, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, also said it had been contacted by an EPA toxicologist who said a request for review of the toxicity of oil dispersants in the Gulf of Mexico was rebuffed.

EPA analyst Hugh B. Kaufman, a 39-year veteran, said he had heard similar complaints from colleagues. Kaufman believes that his agency "gave the green light to using dispersants without doing the necessary studies."

That's my Hugh! Seriously, something has to be done about this. Keith Olbermann, thankfully, has focused on the dispersant disaster, as has Jerrold Nadler, here and here. Oh, and here:

Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York, who has proposed legislation to prohibit dispersant use until further scientific studies are completed, said the EPA "has been entirely irresponsible" in its review of dispersants.

He's right, you know. The EPA has maintained that using dispersants is acceptable, even helpful. Wrong.

Which brings me to this (h/t: Hugh Kaufman):

Shrimpers who were exposed to a mixture of oil and Corexit dispersant in the Gulf of Mexico suffered severe symptoms such as muscle spasms, heart palpitations, headaches that last for weeks and bleeding from the rectum, according to a marine toxicologist who issued the warning Friday on a cable news network. [...]

The EPA lists Corexit 9500 as "useful on oil spills in salt water" and prescribes an application of "2 to 10 U.S. gallons per acre". They further said in a media advisory that Corexit 9500 will "biodegrade."

The EPA's description is only slightly less enthusiastic than a list of Corexit talking points featured on Nalco's Web site...

Please go read the rest of that piece. My jaw dropped, as it did after viewing this:

Happy Sunday.

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Gulf Researchers Getting Roadblocks from BP

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Seems BP doesn't want information about those pesky, lethal plumes to get out there:
ST. PETERSBURG (2010-06-08) -Some USF scientists who have been in the forefront of research in to the effects of the Gulf oil spill say they've been getting resistance from BP officials after asked the company for help. [...]
"I tried to get a piece of the oil from a BP representative," says Hollander, "and it was met with resistance. He barked severely."

Funny, I didn't realize pussies barked.

H/t: CindyScott54

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ClimateGate Schlimate Gate: Panel clears scientists

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By GottaLaff

Another Rushpublic talking point down the drain. Yes, all those "nasty, ill-informed" accusations of the so-called e-mail scandal, aka ClimateGate, got Drano'd:


[A] panel of experts tasked with examining the underlying science said it "saw no evidence of any deliberate scientific malpractice in any of the work" by the university's Climatic Research Unit.

That sound you hear is the glugging of unfounded accusations swirling downward...

Instead, "we found a small group of dedicated if slightly disorganized researchers" who did not store their data and working notes as well as they could have but whose science was conducted "with integrity," the committee said in a report released Wednesday.

Glug... glug... into the sewer the accusations go...

So after all the skeptics' denial of, you know, scientific fact about climate change in favor of smearing what turns out to be legitimate research, the panel found that a few scientists fit a watered-down version of the old stereotypical absent-minded professor profile.

In other words, their desks look like our desks, and like us, they pretty much know where everything is under all those piles of Post-Its and crumpled reports. What a crime! Why aren't they in prison getting waterboarded?!

"The fact is we found them absolutely squeaky clean," the head of the panel, Ron Oxburgh, a geologist and former government advisor, told the BBC. He said some of the criticism by skeptics, who pointed to the e-mails as proof of a massive scientific coverup, was "just plain nasty and ill-informed."

Fred MacMurray would be proud.

Now back to saving the planet. Glug.

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Federal scientists: Limit offshore drilling plans

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By GottaLaff


http://www.latimes.com/media/photo/2009-10/49799323.jpg

Once again, attempts are being made to eradicate the ugly, toxic BushCo stain:
The federal government's top ocean scientists are urging the Interior Department to drastically reduce plans to open the coast to offshore oil and gas drilling, citing threats to marine life and potentially devastating effects of oil spills in Arctic waters.

The recommendations by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are informal and not binding. But if adopted, they would restrict development in some of the nation's most resource-rich untapped offshore areas and mark a significant departure from the pro-drilling policies of the George W. Bush administration. They also give added -- and official -- weight to environmentalists' concerns.

It's like being held captive and suddenly having the gag and shackles removed. Breathing again sure feels swell, doesn't it?

In a letter sent to Interior officials last month, NOAA recommended excluding large tracts of the Alaska coast, the Atlantic seaboard and the Gulf of Mexico from Interior's draft offshore drilling plan for 2010 to 2015.

NOAA recommends establishing buffer zones around the Southern California Ecological Preserve off Santa Barbara. In addition, it suggests that its broader recommendations, such as taking greater account of drilling's effects on marine life, could affect potential lease sales off California.

The agency calls for a ban on drilling in the Arctic until oil companies greatly improve their ability to prevent and clean up oil spills. And it asks Interior to delay new drilling plans until an Obama administration ocean policy task force completes its work late this year.

The comments, dated Sept. 9 and obtained by the Washington Bureau, were included in a letter to Interior officials from NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco. They include an often sharp critique of the offshore leasing plan, developed under Bush, that would open swaths of the California coast and other areas to new drilling.

NOAA says the leasing plan's assessment of the risks of drilling, such as oil spills, is "understated and generally not supported or referenced."

Isn't it amazing how wrong BushCo was about so many issues, yet how little resistance they got while in office? Cronyism sure comes in handy.

NOAA urges the Minerals Management Service -- the Interior division that handles offshore drilling -- to consider ocean ecosystems, coastal communities and other environmental factors when finalizing a leasing plan.

The agency stresses the challenges of cleaning up an oil spill in remote, icy waters, which NOAA says would be substantially more difficult than cleaning up a spill elsewhere.

The recommendations highlight the competing pressures on Interior Secretary Ken Salazar as he weighs whether to amend the Bush-era leasing plan.

Let's see: Profits for Big Oil v. the health of the planet.

http://t0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:JlgMKJHI6MVSfM:http://tpflaw.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/tipped-scale.jpg

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