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GUEST COMMENTARY: Returning to environmental regulations would keep Earth livable

Thursday, August 23, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

In a recent guest commentary titled, Recent studies show climate change should be major concern, I mentioned sobering, if not terrifying numbers on anthropogenic (human caused) global warming:

1) The widely held number of 2 degrees Celsius in warming that we cannot exceed and hope for a livable, recognizable earth (Scientists are now concerned 2 degrees Celsius may be too high.).

Public Visioning

If the numbers have you concerned, you’re invited to hear solutions, offer your ideas, get involved and attend a Public Visioning, sponsored by Columbia Climate Change Coalition, at 7 p.m. Monday (refreshments and music at 6:30 pm) in the Friends Room, at the Columbia Library.



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2) The 565 gigatons we could burn and stay below 2 degrees Celsuis.

3) The 2,795 gigatons the polluting energy-fuels industry has "laid claim to" and intends to market to us to burn. This last number is 5 times over the very "upper safe limit" scientists' estimate.

Continued scientific studies point even more definitively to stronger links to climate change and largely anthropogenic warming, with specific weather events, such as the latest severe drought and other weather events. This science is still being gathered and researched. However, scientists feel comfortable to say, with strong levels of certainty, that these weather events and changes — "taken together as a whole" — are due to both "natural causes" along with a "significant anthropogenic" component.

To build bridges on this topic of how much are humans contributing, just look back about 45 years to when we originally instituted environmental EPA laws for the primary purpose of protecting human health. Business and industry naysayers claimed these clean water and air laws would kill jobs and business, but facts show these rules had just the opposite effect. With these laws, in the past more than four decades, we have not only saved millions of human lives, but instead of economic collapse over any of these years, as the naysayers predicted, we actually created opportunities in business, new technology and marketing these environmental protection advancements here and around the world. Obeying these environmental laws proved to be a boon in both economics and public health.

Like the deregulation and subsequent economic calamity in the business, insurance, real estate, banking and related sectors, our environmental regulations have now also been watered down by the opposing view. We see similar, widespread problems emerging in this environmental sector including the roll-back of gains in public health correlative to more polluted water and air. We pass up many business opportunities with new technology — refusing to focus on true renewable sources offering the smallest footprints. Instead, we let other countries such as China and Germany take over advancements and leadership in this whole renewable energy sector.

If only we would agree to just strengthen and enforce our clean air and water laws — laws that have saved human life and created good jobs — and wisely apply these protective laws equally and fairly to all sectors of business and industry. That simple step of just obeying our laws would go a long way to anything those of the public who accept the science of human contribution to climate change would wish — it would put us all on the same page. We pride ourselves, as Americans, on being a law-abiding society, so, if we just demanded that the industry comply with these rules — proven to spur economic activity and save human life — that would eliminate the climate change science argument the industries and vested interests prefer we stay caught up in. It’s very simple, even wildlife show us we cannot do well and have a livable home when we insist on soiling our own bed.

Monta Welch is founder and president of the Columbia Climate Change Coalition. Questions? Contact Opinion editor Elizabeth Conner.


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Comments

Gary Straub August 23, 2012 | 10:39 a.m.

And yet, Romney released his energy independence plan that will use more "clean" coal more drilling in public lands, and best of all an end to CO2 emission regulation. Brilliant!

(Report Comment)
Bob Gaebler August 23, 2012 | 8:45 p.m.

Dr.Richard Muller now claims, to be a former skeptic, who believed in global warming, but NOW, Dr.Muller believes humans caused this. Hey, I've heard of fire and chainsaws, so I wasn't having a big denial problem and calling it skepticism.

Dr.Muller endorsed Robert Rhode's analysis, but then he whipped out his hardbound, on natural gas and disclaimed how AGW is causing climate change, to set up the Kochs, for some fracking.

FYI: EVERY TIME ATMOSPHERIC CO2 ROSE PARTLY AS FAST, AS IT IS RISING, TODAY, A MASS EXTINCTION EVENT or the PETM resulted. We are in the early stages, of Mass Extinction Event 6.

Dr.Muller's gas is like letting meth dealers, into a pest-hole of a bath-house, with free needles, to claim their particular crank doesn't spread that HIV, quite as fast. Of course, the Obama and Gore carbon trading media is like raising the price of admission on entering a bath-house, with coupons, to keep the patrons shoving their lethal doses, into each other.

Tell you what! The bath-houses had to CLOSE.

Muller is out of order. We need legal hemp, with study, for hemp, switchgrass, and algal biomass.

We need to re-green deserts and polluted areas. We don't need to hedge or fudge.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking August 24, 2012 | 2:38 a.m.

Bob Gaebler wrote:

"Tell you what! The bath-houses had to CLOSE."

What, the bath house that feeds and clothes you, gives you effortless mobility, and lets you control your personal climate within a few degrees over the seasons?

There's no bath house somewhere like, say, Angola, or Haiti. They're living well within their carbon budgets. Closing the bath house will give us a living standard very close to places like them.

"We need legal hemp, with study, for hemp, switchgrass, and algal biomass."

Might I suggest that hemp may be part of the problem here? Legal hemp (used as an "incense") may well make closing the bath house more tolerable, but it won't do much to contain CO2 levels. No biomass will. Photosynthesis is far too inefficient as a fixer of carbon to make a significant difference in global CO2 levels.

Further, all biofuels are overly dependent on petroleum and natural gas for their production. They're basically ways of converting petroleum into a less desirable fuel.

"We need to re-green deserts and polluted areas."

Hm. Greening deserts requires water (from where?), and polluted areas, like Superfund sites, are infinitesimal fractions of the world's land area,

Virtually all of the world that can become "green" (i. e. produce biomass) already is.

DK

(Report Comment)
Bob Gaebler September 1, 2012 | 5:47 p.m.

Response to M.F., 9/1/12:

1. "Might I suggest that hemp may be part of the problem here? Legal hemp (used as an "incense") may well make closing the bath house more tolerable, but it won't do much to contain CO2 levels. No biomass will. Photosynthesis is far too inefficient as a fixer of carbon to make a significant difference in global CO2 levels."

-NO. Congress passed the Hemp Stamp Tax Act of 1938 in 15 minutes, whereupon FDR signed this, as a response, to a campaign, by Andrew Mellon and W.R. Hearst, on behalf of timber and oil and prison interests, as soon as a hemp processing machine was introduced, so hemp was poised, to become the number one cash crop, in the world, to provide food, fuels, paper and accessories, building materials, and plastic. The HSTA was declared unconstitutional, two years after 1970 peak US oil, whereupon Nixon founded the DEA. We've been a land of gangs and cartels, with a carbon footprint, ever since. Of course, with your GIGO approach, we can keep corruption with a carbon footprint, instead of swinging hemp and other drugs, from contraband, to resource media, including tax base.

2. "Further, all biofuels are overly dependent on petroleum and natural gas for their production. They're basically ways of converting petroleum into a less desirable fuel.'

-Not if all of hemp, algae, and switchgrass are developed, as CO2-neutral biomass media. Again, you preach garbage-IN. Guess what comes out, of your equation?

3. "Hm. Greening deserts requires water (from where?), and polluted areas, like Superfund sites, are infinitesimal fractions of the world's land area."

-Well then, we will watch as temperatures follow CO2, CH4, and industrial GHGs UP, faster, starting with the complete melt, of the Arctic cap, which will let in more solar energy. Then we won't have re-greening, as easy as it is.

4. "Virtually all of the world that can become "green" (i. e. produce biomass) already is."

-You are completely fantacizing. We are losing forests, to drought and pollutions and pine beetles and other pests and chainsaws and FIRE. We re-green, or our children are endangered, no two ways. Your GIGO is showing.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking September 2, 2012 | 6:50 a.m.

Bob Gaebler wrote:

"we can keep corruption with a carbon footprint, instead of swinging hemp and other drugs, from contraband, to resource media, including tax base."

I thought he were talking about industrial hemp here (which you *supposedly* can't get high on). Usually it does come out that the real issue is the legalization of marijuana (which I'm in favor of), not that hemp is some super solution to our energy and fiber needs (it's not at all).

Let's get real here:

Pulte-pulte-pulte-plt-plt-plt-plt-t-t-t-fffwwwssshhhhtttt -(cough-cough-hack).... Ahhhhhh.....

The best biomass (of which hemp is not) yields energy of roughly 35 million BTU/acre/year, which gives 3.5 megawatt-hours in an average power plant (10,000 BTU/KWH). The average house in Columbia uses 10 MWH/year, so we need 3.5 acres/house x 35,000 houses or roughly 100,000 acres to keep just our houses lit. That's only 1/3 of our energy needs. You see the demand for land gets out of control really quickly with biofuels.

Pulte-pulte-pulte-plt-plt-plt-plt-t-t-t-fffwwwssshhhhtttt -(cough-cough-hack).... Ahhhhhh.....

"-Not if all of hemp, algae, and switchgrass are developed, as CO2-neutral biomass media. Again, you preach garbage-IN. Guess what comes out, of your equation?"

The fundamental problem is sunlight is so diffuse, and plants use most of what light they get for metabolism, not for producing biomass. Humans are the same way - it takes about 4,000 pounds of food to make a 150 pound human out of an 8 pound infant. Most of the food supports metabolism, not biomass production. We don't have the land to be producing significant energy from biomass os any sort.

Pulte-pulte-pulte-plt-plt-plt-plt-t-t-t-fffwwwssshhhhtttt -(cough-cough-hack).... Ahhhhhh.....

Um, where did I put that can of Pringles? What were we talking about? Oh well....

Pulte-pulte-pulte-plt-plt-plt-plt-t-t-t-fffwwwssshhhhtttt -(cough-cough-hack).... Ahhhhhh.....

DK

(Report Comment)
Bob Gaebler September 3, 2012 | 7:45 p.m.

OK, dude, you aren't capable of concentrating, so I'll keep this short. Hemp yields an estimated 25,000 market-leading products, so through your distorted perceptions, you don't get to deflect, how hemp also has biomass applications, even if biomass isn't 100% of hemp's product outcome.

Of course, you know all about meds and stoning, whoop.

While you are burning one and feeling like God, you aren't finishing off destructive public policy, which has done all kinds of damage, to economies of scale, while you were smogging and saying "whatever, maaaaahn."

Swinging contraband to resource SAVES, to generate negative funding, while gaining a various resource gains tax and product bases, to swing green GDP up, from down, a double gainer. Of course, some people get to play stoner, during Schedule 1 CS madness, while Zimmy gets Adderall, from Schedule II CS, with smack and crack and crank.

Of course, since you managed to get the bath-house lifestyle, to pay for your wonk, you forgot whatever you went shopping for, and the people who are stalking you, to bust you have a carbon footprint, during your clowning.

Seems wasteful, to me. But then, look at all the people, who smogged, during the pub convention, including Bill Maher, and they didn't get, why Clint (82) was goofing an invisible, straw President. It turns out, pubs like to overuse logical fallacies. Clint must have had all kinds of them demonstrate, how to put up a straw man, load up language, ignore issues, and then kick the empty chair.

I bet being a pub must be kind of like being high, on some kind of really potent medical grade.

(Report Comment)
Bob Gaebler September 3, 2012 | 7:54 p.m.

The biomass equation has four hot participants, all suppressed by corn subsidies and bad media, including Schedule 1 CS:

1. HEMP
2. SWITCHGRASS
3. ALGAE
4. PONGAMIA TREES (Australia)

Hemp yields the most products, of any known plant, including fuels, food, building materials, paper, rope, plastic, accessories, etc.

All of the above have particular favorable applications, in fields or for products. A variety of plant resource media is desirable, for obvious business and ecology reasons.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams September 3, 2012 | 9:04 p.m.

BobG: You might want to address the energetics of replacing nutrients removed from the field when biomass is harvested and taken someplace else.

(Report Comment)
Bob Gaebler September 4, 2012 | 2:05 p.m.

N2 fixation media by fallow is various, including lentils, tritcale, etc. Switchgrass can be used as cover and re-harvested, since you only have to plant that once, if you have found you like to harvest s-grass.

How are we going to fixate our economy? We need more resources. Somebody pumped inflation up, with all sorts of unwise media. Start thinking about how to get resources, including by revising contraband, since here comes 2013.

Moreover, here comes El Nino, which events will be more numerous. So we don't know who will get rained on, but it might be a lot. We might have to think about writing off free-flowing rivers, since the runoff will just increase the fatal pace, of oceanic acidification.

FYI: Only a couple of years of failure, of the oceanic food web from acidification and over-fishing will let jellyfish and algae blooms take over the oceans.

Climate change won't be pretty. The extra heat and water in the climate system won't distribute, evenly. Forests will be injured, infested, and then they will burn. GHG concentration will get worse, and melt of perennial ice will accelerate. I see few other messages, from anyone, who knows we will undergo systemic failures, from neglecting warming and climate change.

A President Obama ad is on, as I write this. What kind of prioritization of climate change does he think he achieved?

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams September 4, 2012 | 2:31 p.m.

BobG: Tobacco farmers found long ago that when you remove ANY crop or part of a crop from one place to another, you are also removing many nutrients from the soil (macro and micro). Do it often enough and the soil dies (ca. 3 years for tobacco). There are 92 elements available on earth (that's it...92 is all you get) and many of them are contained in plant life; ino, there are many things necessary for life other than C, H, N, O, and S.

And, you have to replace those nutrients if you harvest plants and take them somewhere else. Grass can exist on a prairie forever so long as there is fire and grazers pooping out the nutrients, but NOT if you harvest the grass and take it somewhere else without replacing that which you removed.

And THAT requires mines and power.

You like mines?

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle September 4, 2012 | 4:53 p.m.

Conservation is the quickest, cheapest, lowest-hanging fruit we have for emissions reductions and energy independence.

Just not the easiest, apparently.

(Report Comment)

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