Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Climate Change: The Coral Reef Conundrum

For many with some years on us, the 1970s news of dying coral reefs was the first indication of some sudden and unexpected environmental change--a change that scientists could neither explain nor remediate.  As World leaders congregate in Glasgow for the U.N. Climate Change Conference (October 31-November 12), this lowly resident of Earth wonders if the attendees will continue to grumble about carbon gases and fossil fuel controls or finally come together to re-evaluate their own actions in what has brought the World to this point in time. Personally, I hope for the coral reefs and other forms of wildlife, it is the latter.  

National Geographic Photo    

Until the stunning and informative documentaries of The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau in the 1970s, sea exploration was nearly unheard of.  And yet, just a few years into its exploration, science was making alarming predictions about the role coral reefs played in the ecosystem.  Before even learning to walk in this new science and without looking at the big environmental picture, scientists ran to blame everything from farming to industrial waste for the demise of this small and seemingly insignificant creatures. 

Instead of approaching the problem from a fact-based physical evidence standpoint, observation and speculation became the basis for large scale decision-making.  As a result, science squandered its first opportunity to repair climate change before it had really started.  Now, forty years latter the science has become so corrupted by computer models and economic interests that countries are locked in a false narrative of what climate change is and how it should be reversed.

What is Coral?

While this may be an over simplification, coral are small basic lifeforms that act a bit like nature's water filtration system.  Still, they are animals and are subject to the same nutritional (biochemical if you want a big word) rules as all animals. Herein lies the misconception that all environment studies have failed to recognize.

Coming at environmental science from a position of something toxic impacting coral, science has never considered that there is something missing from the environment and that this substance(s) was removed suddenly in the years prior to coral reefs dying. 

Was there a light bulb that just went off in the minds of readers everywhere? There should be.

Wrong Science, REALLY?

Like the belief that the World is flat, science has assumed human intervention is needed to keep climate variations in check.  Who is to say this assumption isn't along the same misguided observation-based notion as a flat Earth?  Is climate change the result of random change in a system that has been in place for millions of years or is it that man has become a bit too confident in his ability to adapt the environment to his own preferences? Will the presenters in Glasgow finally scratch their heads and say "Oops, we made a mistake"? Not likely.  

Something is Environmentally Missing?

As mentioned previously, biochemical processes (aka dietary needs) are similar across all living organisms. In simple terms, the absence of a vitamin or mineral that makes humans sick will also make coral succumb as well. The big difference is that humans have disguised these mineral and vitamin deficiencies through modern healthcare and pharmaceuticals. Wildlife has no such method of attaining the nutrients needed to live healthy and relies heavily on an unadulterated ecosystem. 

But what is it that could be missing in the environment that would make the whole planet sick? That is the question everyone is trying to answer with little success.

Looking Back to Find an Answer

Unfortunately, history can be an unforgiving teacher when it comes to reminding mankind of its faults and in this case, the reality may be hard to swallow.  

In the 1960s and early 1970s, man's excess had caught up with him. Large cities were choking on the fumes of modern convenience.  Instead of pinpointing historically recognized toxins like lead and asbestos that could quickly contaminate air and water, leaders chose to take a full-tilt approach to the pinball game that has become environmental science. With little research to back up decisions, industrialized countries regulated a handful of ugly, smelly gases.  Still holding fast to their decisions and looking to carbon dioxide as the next culprit, the restriction of these gases has compromised an environmental cycle that had been in place for thousands of years. In the atmosphere, these breathable nutrients would help all life forms self-regulate body functions even in cases of food shortages. Without them, the result is declining populations and possible extinction.

What is Missing?

Ironically, the five elements that make up restricted gases are the same five elements (carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen and sulfur) that form the majority of the World's foods and medicines.  Sugar is made of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen while chicken is made of all five elements. All life forms, coral, plants and humans alike, require sulfur for common life functions each and every day. Had these gases remained in the atmosphere, rain would have latched on to them and deposited them into the soil and sea where all life could have benefited. This basic concept of renewal has been known for much longer than most experts wish to acknowledge.

Coral's Relationship with Sulfur

Regardless of where life forms live--bacteria in ice near Antarctic, elephants on the Savanna, or coral under the sea--all life forms are subject to the same rules of cell composition.  This interconnection makes individual species interchangeable up and down the food chain. As a food, coral is at the bottom and eaten by a great number of species. If it is deficient in minerals, then so is the species that eats it.  Each successive meal perpetuates the mineral deficiency until the who World struggles to find good health.

Sulfur is known to impact growth rates, injury repair and reproductive capabilities for all life forms. Without sufficient sulfur in the water, what scientists interpreted as a dying coral reef may have been one that simply could not reproduce itself as fast as it was consumed. There was never anything to blame other than an urban population that wanted to live large without environmental accountability.

What All this Means?

There is only one conclusion and course of action that makes sense if one believes the science as it is reported here.  The rush to judgement by those who lived in unsustainable environmental conditions (cities) solved their problem by stripping the atmosphere of essential gases which made the land incapable of producing food and reduced the ability of wildlife to sustain themselves in a natural setting. Rather than acknowledge their missteps early on, the World's leadership built a massive healthcare system to treat human illness and created additives to foods and soils to make them viable.  Poor countries were left to become dependent on others and starvation became a worldwide problem. 

If one takes a good hard look at the role sulfur plays in every part of the environment, it becomes very easy to see that Clean Air policies did more harm than good and should be rolled back.  Fossil fuels are not the enemy here. Man's own ego is.

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Thanks Senator Manchin: What an Elected Official Should Be


New York Magazine Photo

With the deadline for this year's budget and spending plan kicked down the road as expected, it has become increasingly clear who in Congress is there to serve this country and who is there to play soccer in a never-ending and generally tied game of Republicans vs. Democrats.  With members focused on following a political game plan rather than effective planning, this country has been subjected to a ping-pong approach to lawmaking instead of setting it on a path that fairly represents every demographic and business. With crossed fingers and muttered wishes, that trend may finally be cracking with a kind of action-based hope for fair and equitable government coming somewhere in the near future. 

Over the last year, approximately one percent (1%) of Congressional members have shown they can be what an elected official should be--objective, knowledgeable and flexible representatives who are not hog tied by party loyalty. Nine months ago, it was the handful of Republicans that voted to impeach Trump.  Now it is Joe Manchin (D-WV) who is standing against an over-the-top Democratic agenda that is largely a mystery to the America people. For that, he deserves a thank-you instead of the short-sighted criticism of the President and Congressional leaders.

This morning (10.8.2021), the news is about Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's speech following a stop-gap vote to extend the debt limit until early December. Without too much first-hand knowledge of this speech, it isn't hard to imagine the content.  Far too often, over the last few years, federal leaders have addressed each other and American citizens as if they were scolding children instead of being professionals. That tactic has not been successful in the past and does not seem likely to work in the future. Unless Schumer was playing to donors and extremists, what possible reason could he have had to take several minutes to berate half of the Senate chamber (and at least half of the country) with words that come off as shaming rather than reconciliation. Does he really believe the majority of US citizens want more debt?  Perhaps it is Biden, Pelosi, McCarthy, Schumer and McConnell who need to be reminded of their role in government, not the American people. 

From what little is known about Biden's Build Back Better agenda, the focus is on fixing fifty years of problems created by quick decisions and simple majority wins. Repeating a pattern that has left local government with the responsibility of maintaining all these projects, the BBB legislation is competitive by design rather than mutually beneficial across all states and demographics.  It perpetuates economic behaviors which have not served taxpayers well but have created a legacy of government dependence and mandates that keep American families in a lifestyle of debt and consumerism. Like always, rural communities are low on the priority list because they can and do support themselves. 

Joe Manchin understands this governmental trend and is right to drag his feet. What is seen as rogue or unprofessional behavior on Capital Hill might just be caution to insure fair treatment for his state as well as other rural communities.

For nearly forty years, Manchin has worked in all levels of government to protect and support a state that is characterized as bigoted and uneducated but often used by big business and big government for their own purposes.  To discount his understanding of government in favor of the ideas of young and inexperienced members of Congress is to say that only the young are entitled to the full benefits of American citizenship. Entitlement based on any single characteristic--age, location, education level, income, ethnic status or gender--damages the foundation of this country and democracy as a whole.  That knowledge only comes with experience. Manchin knows the difference and should be thanked, not ridiculed. 

All of rural America should support Manchin for two reasons. One, because it is a more reasonable course of action than the one currently proposed. And two, to finally rid this country of the notion that this is all about Trump. For far too long, rural communities have carried more than its share of the economic load while surviving policies that built up global trade and weakened local economies.  Maybe now, those in Congress will wise up and see that without rural America, this country is nothing.

Keep it up, Senator Manchin. 

Thursday, October 7, 2021

infrastructure 2021: The Hilarity of a Carbon Tax

As Congress and the President work diligently to force through an agenda that everyone but those who answer the Polls seem to question, this concept of a carbon tax is dangled out there as a way to fund the massive, catch-all infrastructure bill.  So, while this author prefers information that is well researched and factual, it should be clear that this is conjecture and speculation and not direct knowledge as to how a carbon tax would be used.

Photo (www.itep.org)

What is a carbon tax?

Simply put, it is a potential tax on anything that produces some type of carbon emission. Since nearly every biological function or energy source produces some form or carbon gas, it is an atmospheric gold mine of tax revenue. The unknown here is to what degree Congress will use this provision and how it might be regulated.

Why a carbon tax?

Like the Clean Air policies which began this trend of demonizing fossil fuels, this tax would draw income from actions and products people cannot easily do without but release some form of carbon into the air.  The concept is not new. King George tried it several times ( tax on tea and the Stamp Act come to mind) only to have the colonies rebel against him and his control.

Why have a carbon tax? 

As with most moves by government, taxing is best done when it plays well with voters.  A carbon tax seems innocuous enough because voters believe it will not impact them. Even some members of Congress may not completely understand the science to fully grasp its all-encompassing potential.  More important than the huge amounts of revenue it could generate, such a tax would show support for climate change initiatives adopted by the European Union which are based on Greenhouse Gas Theory. This is as much about earning points with US allies and celebrity activists as it is appearing to address climate change. 

Will this help curb Climate Change? 

Not likely.  As any Star Trek fan learned from the iconic series (1966), the Earth is a world based on carbon. How many times  did Spock explain this simple but accurate fact to viewers is hard to gauge. The average human is 18.5 percent carbon. Every plant is made of carbon as well as every animal on the planet.  With the exception of water, nearly all foods and medicines contain carbon. Building materials such as steel, wood and stone contain carbon.  Fabrics such as polyester, cotton, wool and acrylic are based on carbon.  Paper including shipping containers, hard copy books and even greeting cards contain carbon. To do without carbon is to do without most of the essentials of life. 

What could it tax?

This is where the hilarious nature of the carbon tax comes into play and why every citizen should stop for a moment and think about what that tax could mean for them.  Again, remember every living thing produces carbon gas at some point in its cycle. This is a natural environmental process that has existed since life first appeared. It is essential to life and to disrupt it will have unknown consequences.  Here are just a few things to consider as this Build Back Better agenda takes hold.

  • Breathing Could Be Taxed - According to figures that are circulating the internet (which this author cannot verify), the average human exhales between 1.5 and 3 pounds of carbon dioxide every day.  Using the example of a penny a pound, that is roughly $10 per person per year for $3.3 billion dollars. In a similar fashion, pets, farm animals, wildlife preserves and stocked lakes have animals which produce carbon dioxide and methane.
  • Any heat source could be taxed. Everything from the wood stove or oil furnace that so many rural residents depend on to the high efficiency heat pump with propane backup could be restricted or taxed.  Oil, propane, natural gas, wood, coal, kerosene, paper and even gel alcohol produce carbon emissions.
  • Electricity in General could see increased costs from taxes.  According to government figures (2020) only about 2.3% of all electricity in this country is produced by solar energy. Add wind and hydroelectric plants and it leaves 80% of all electricity produced in the US subject to carbon emissions regulations. 
  • Imports as well as Exports could be taxed.  This global economy that was pushed so heavily a few decades ago is one that cannot exist without carbon emissions. Container ships as well as over-the-road trucks are dependent on diesel for power.  Large amounts of carbon gases are produced over oceans where such gases cannot be utilized effectively by plants.  

And the list could go on and on and on. 

What about Climate Change?

For now, the leaders of the World believe that carbon emissions is causing climate change. Like the belief in a flat Earth that popped up in many civilizations, believing in something does not make it factual.  If carbon gas were the cause of all global ills, the planet would have ceased to exist long ago.

Perpetuated by computer models which have no capacity to think critically, leaders force people to accept incorrect science in order to financially benefit from government contracts, grants and tax breaks.  Until, the masses question this propaganda, carbon emissions will be seen as the enemy and taxed. Additional regulations will attempt to restrict carbon gasses much like the EPA has restricted other elements (sulfur, carbon, nitrogen, ozone and dust) when sent into the atmosphere.  

Sadly, by reducing these emissions, leaders may further compromise the environment and prolong the climate change debate.

Why does the Environment Need Carbon Emissions?

From the Lord of the Rings to many other Sci-Fi movies with spectacular special effects, movie goers have learned to see volcanoes, hurricanes, wildfires and drought as end-of-time events. Instead they are clear and specific parts of the environment's never-ending process of recycling itself.  Drought is the sign that the air is too clean (no dust=no clouds=no rain). Hurricanes bring moisture from the oceans that replenish ground water sources so that the land can continue to produce food hungry people. Volcanoes are a beautiful, yet drastic, way to recycle the minerals (like sulfur, carbon and hydrogen) that are needed for plants and wildlife to live healthy lives. And finally, wildfires clean up the environment when mankind shirks his responsibility to manage and use the resources the environment gives him.  

As long as mankind chooses to restrict these common and naturally occurring gases, erratic weather will be part of the global scene. Taxing an essential life element because some see it as dangerous is not only hilarious but extremely sad at the same time.