Author Archives: nighster

Vive le procès

Governor Gina Raimondo has asked the people of Rhode Island to respect the process of the Energy Facility Siting Board as it makes its decision about the Invenergy-Raimondo power plant to be sited in Burrillville, RI.

The official recordings of the proceedings of the board illustrate the inner workings of the “process:” laws of nature, the Rhode Island Constitution and democracy be damned!

Why the laws of nature? Because the “studies” used in the “process” completely ignore the expected impact of climate change on the weather patterns over the life span of the power plant.

Why the Rhode Island Constitution? Because the board acts in violation of Article 1 Section 17, “the duty of the general assembly to provide for the conservation of the air, land, water …”

Banality of evil at work!

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Empire and corporate power in the time of climate change

Watch this interview with Nick Buxton on the Real News Network: “US National Security Policy for Climate Change Seeks Security for Corporate-Controlled Assets.”
Then listen to our own U.S. Senator Jack Reed as he addresses RI environmentalists a while back.
After that, explain to me what the real difference between what the two right wings of the duopoly, other than the sound of the rhetoric.
For our Senator Jack Reed—who will most likely be the chair of the Armed Service Committee if the Democ Rats take back the U.S. Senate for the Corp Rats—climate change is just another but a security threat.
Imagine looking at our U.S. Senate, of which Jack Reed is a pretty representative one-member sample, and ask yourself how others see us, say the people of Bangladesh, the Philippines, and the refugees around the Mediterranean to name just a few..
When you corner our members of our RI congressional delegation, their reply invariably is some variant of:
  1. If we don’t do it the Russians will.
  2. This brings jobs to RI.
Never mind that those jobs will be mostly be supplied by the funeral industry.
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Radioactive waste and environmental racism in Denver, CO

This post was prompted by a post of Sharon Kelly’s in DeSmogBlog. The title says it all: “Western State Regulators Struggling to Keep up with Radioactive Fracking and Drilling Waste: New Report.”

The following is from Craig Collin’s TOXIC LOOPHOLES, Failures and Future Prospects for Environmental Law.  It paints a “somewhat disconcerting” picture of the Environmental Protection Agency. Yes, that is the selfsame agency that will oversee the #CleanPowerPlan.

The Shattuck Chemical Company, located in Denver’s working class neighborhood of Overland Park, had been listed as a superfund site since 1983. After years of pushing the EPA to remove the tons of radioactive waste located at the site, the EPA finally agreed that removal was the only remedy that would adequately ensure the health and safety of the community.

But suddenly, without explanation or consultation with the residents of Overland Park, the EPA reversed itself and announced a new plan. Labeled the “mound and cap” method, this plan consisted of piling half a million cubic yards of radioactive waste inside a concrete block and sealing it with a clay cap. The result would be a giant 17 foot high monolith filled with radioactive waste right in the middle of Overland Park.

Overland Park residents felt betrayed and outraged. The plan was angrily opposed by the neighborhood, the mayor of Denver, the Governor of Colorado and Republican Senator Wayne Allard. Allard encouraged citizens to contact the Ombudsman’s Office.
In 1999, Martin and Kaufman initiated their investigation and concluded that the “mound and cap” plan was faulty, dangerous and not the normal procedure for dealing with this type of problem. Then they launched an inquiry into why the EPA had abruptly reneged on its removal agreement.

They found that EPA’s reversal came after a series of secret meetings between high level EPA officials and the attorneys representing Shattuck Chemical Company, the party liable for cleaning the site. In addition, the ombudsman’s investigation forced EPA officials to concede that they purposely misled the public about the safety and stability of the concrete container that would degenerate and leak radioactive waste much sooner than they originally claimed. Public outrage prompted the agency to scrap the “mound and cap” plan and restore the removal policy.

Removing the radioactive soil and hauling it to a hazardous waste disposal site was a much more expensive remedy. So Shattuck Chemical and its parent company, Citigroup, pressured the EPA to reduce their cleanup liability and use taxpayer dollars to make up the difference. Before these negotiations were finalized, President Bush appointed Christie Todd Whitman to head up the EPA.

Citigroup was the very first firm listed on Whitman’s “Public Finance Disclosure Form.” She and her husband owned about $250,000 of Citigroup stock. In addition, Whitman’s husband, who worked for Citigroup for 15 years, had recently become managing partner in a venture capital firm (Sycamore Ventures) in which Citigroup was a principle investor. Clearly, any involvement by Whitman in the negotiations between EPA and Citigroup Shattuck would be a serious conflict of interest.

Reading this I wondered what this “working class neighborhood” looks like. So I consulted the EPA’s EJSCREEN: Environmental Justice Screening and Mapping Tool

Bar graph of Demographic Indicators of neighborhood in Denver, CO

Bar graph of Demographic Indicators of neighborhood in Denver, CO

Here is the explanation of the percentiles listed in the bar graph.  Higher than the 50th percentile means that the community is over-represented for this index.

  1. A Demographic Index is based on the average of two demographic indicators; Percent Low-Income and Percent Minority.
  2. Percent Low-Income: The percent of a block group’s population in households where the household income is less than or equal to twice the federal “poverty level.”
  3. Percent Minority: The percent of individuals in a block group who list their racial status as a race other than white alone and/or list their ethnicity as Hispanic or Latino. That is, all people other than non-Hispanic white-alone individuals. The word “alone” in this case indicates that the person is of a single race, not multiracial.
  4. Less than high school education: Percent of people age 25 or older in a block group whose education is short of a high school diploma.
  5. Linguistic isolation: Percent of people in a block group living in linguistically isolated households. A household in which all members age 14 years and over speak a non-English language and also speak English less than “very well” (have difficulty with English) is linguistically isolated.
  6. Individuals under age 5: Percent of people in a block group under the age of 5.
  7. Individuals over age 64: Percent of people in a block group over the age of 64.​ 
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South Kingstown Town Council, What Planet Are You On?

James Hansen about climate change: “to have people understand not only that it’s a problem, but also what is needed to solve it, because otherwise politicians will concoct their owns ‘solutions.'”

The South Kingstown Town Council is a case is point. The following giant leap forward—toward the climate cliff?—was concocted during a Work Session last August 24:

Promote and encourage the establishment of locally sourced renewable energy resources such that by 2025 the production of such resources exceeds the annual energy use requirements of the South Kingstown municipal government. (follow this link)


People, wake up! This is decade zero of climate change. We have to cut emissions by 7% per year globally and you decide to cut a fraction of a percent by 2025? What planet are you on?

Wendell Berry has news for you, SK Town Council: “Whether we and our politicians know it or not, Nature is party to all our deals and decisions, and she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do.”

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Who’s in bed with whom on the crack-infested natural gas bridge to nowhere

This is a work in progress, a list of who is making money on natural gas in Rhode Island:

<National Grid asks to install new LNG storage equipment at Fields Point facility

Spectra Energy of the Burrillville natural gas pipeline expansion is linked up with National Grid and Eversource Energy. They are joined in a crime syndicate called Access Northeast Energy.

Spectra Energy’s Access Northeast plan includes a second expansion of the Burrillville compressor station and the corresponding pipeline expansion would be payed for by us, the customers: See this Boston Globe article for more.

Sheldon Whitehouse has National Grid and his biggest energy sponsor.

Our whole congressional delegation recites the Access Northeast Energy talking points as if it’s the bible. Our senators are playing both sides of the fence and have expressed concern about export of LNG: here is a letter to Secretary Moneys of Energy.

The timing of the latter was such that it did not endanger the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission decision about the AIM Project.

Gina Raimondo has been pushing natural gas (here’s her press release) and has well documented ties with Wall Street.

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Eddy County, New Mexico: Aerial view of the “Oil Patch” in the Permian Basin, revitalized by the fracking industry. ©2014 Julie Dermansky for Ocean 8 Films

Rhode Island DEM supports AIM Project

Dr. James Hansen, who, when he wrote this Friend of the Court brief in 2011 directed the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, had this to say about the climate and greenhouse gas emissions:

Effective action remains possible, but delay in undertaking sharp reductions in emissions will undermine any realistic chance of preserving a habitable climate system–needed by future generations no less than by prior generations.

Politicians and their appointees have a strange sense of reality and pragmatism.  They seem to think that their concern for the economy—aka gain wealth, forgetting all but self—suspends the laws of physics.  One might ask if that is the People’s economy or the one that provides the 1% with their entitlements.  What I really would like to know is: has Mother Nature been informed?

Politicians and their appointees are the symptoms; the disease is called capitalism and it manifests itself in the positions taken by Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo:

Rhode Island must create conditions that will jumpstart our struggling economy, provide more certainty on energy costs for businesses, and create jobs,” said Raimondo. “To achieve this we must collaborate on a regional level to reduce energy costs and strengthen grid reliability, all while advancing important environmental goals. I am committed to moving ahead with cost-effective, regional energy infrastructure projects – including expansion of natural gas capacity – that will improve our business climate and create new opportunities for Ocean State workers. I look forward to discussing our region’s pressing energy challenges with my fellow Governors, and implementing cooperative solutions that enhance New England’s shared economic future.”

Interesting detail: on May 22, 2015 the US Department of Energy secreted the following:


to Pieridae Energy (USA), LTD.

The AIM Pipeline expansion is necessary to make the connection to Canada via Spectra Energy’s Atlantic Bridge Project:

Securing the energy future of the New England States and the Maritime Provinces by providing a direct connection to clean and abundant regional supplies of natural gas

That’s why we say: “#StopSpectra.”

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Climate zombies in the Providence Journal

Interesting timing:

First, as part of the Week of Respect and Resistance to #StopSpectra, we blow Sheldon Whitehouse “climate champion” cover:



Then, the ProJo interviews our hero, the defender of Wall Street’s shale gas and oil bubble:

Next, I respond:

Finally, the climate zombies come out in full force with their comments.

But I can’t think for you
You’ll have to decide
Whether Sheldon Whitehouse
Has the Pope on his side

Add your voice to the mêlée!

Happy New Year!

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Naomi Klein and Red is the new Green

Naomi Klein in a five-minute crash course explains why it is so tragic that the left has ceded the climate discussion to the environmentalists.

There is an alternative to free trade agreements, NAFTA, TAFTA, SHMAFTA and globalization.  Distributed power generation puts the power back where it belongs: in the hands of the People in the form of worker-owned, decentralized utility cooperatives.

It has happened in Ontario, in Germany and in Boulder Colorado, but the World Trade Organization will not let up in its attempts to reverse the trend.  It continues its totalitarian suppression of the People, but we will deal with the climate crisis by taking back control form the corporations.

It’s not going to come from the political class and its Washington Consensus; it will come from us, the People!

Red is the new Green!

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For we have sown the wind, and we shall reap the whirlwind

Deirdre Smith wrote a post entitled Why the Climate Movement Must Stand with Ferguson in which she wrote:

The ruling class will survive climate change just fine — thank you!

The ruling class will survive climate change just fine — thank you!

Demonization and the illusion of the “other” allows mainstream US to feel unaffected and disconnected to the employment of unacceptable and institutionally supported militarized violence. If we hope to build anything together and employ our combined power we must deny that anyone is an “other” – denying this pervasive cultural norm isn’t easy but it’s a central challenge we face.

Send a thank-you note to our RI Congressional Delegation for their unrelenting support for the military-industrial-academic-prison-infotainment complex and if you want to learn more join
AUG 23, 2014 Fighting the Systems: Destabilizing Systemic Oppression in the U.S

If you can’t make it,  please don’t forget to send a note to our RI Congressional delegation thanking them for their unrelenting support of

  • the military-industrial complex, aka Bomb, Baby, Bomb!
  • the Natural Gas Bridge to Hell, Wall Street’s latest project catering to the entitlements of the ruling class, aka Drill, Baby, Drill!

We’re all disposable commodities now!

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Guy McPherson’s Climate Change — The End? Part 5

Most of the scientific discussion in Part 5 is about “irreversible positive feed back loops.”  I have not had time to look up all the references, but Guy continues to focus the worst-case scenario of all the poorly understood instabilities that are almost invariably swept under the rug to avoid “scaring the kids.”

“Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst” sounds like a good strategy.  Unfortunately, the following graph, which shows how global carbon emissions have grown over the last 250 years, does not seem to provide a lot of room for hope, unless —on a national and global scale— we manage to precipitate a dramatic tipping point in humanity’s sense of responsibility.

Global CO2 emissions in gigatons of carbon per year: data with exponential fit
Global CO2 emissions in gigatons of carbon per year: data with exponential fit

Here you have it: exponential growth.  This curve shows that every 30 years we double the cumulative total of the CO2 we —read the Undustrialized Predators of World— have dumped into the atmosphere since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.  1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, … blows up really fast!

At 1 minute and 20 second time mark of the video there is a list of papers under the heading Irreversible positive feedbacks.  The first paper is about methane hydrates in the Arctic Ocean and this is what the authors say about their work, Extensive Methane Venting to the Atmosphere from Sediments of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf:

To discern whether this extensive CH4 venting over the ESAS [East Siberian Arctic Shelf ] is a steadily ongoing phenomenon or signals the start of a more massive CH4 release period, there is an urgent need for expanded multifaceted investigations into these inaccessible but climate-sensitive shelf seas north of Siberia.

Is that an irreversible positive feedback?  Maybe, but maybe not.

This is the next paper: Enhanced Modern Heat Transfer to the Arctic by Warm Atlantic Water

The Arctic is responding more rapidly to global warming than most other areas on our planet. Northward- flowing Atlantic Water is the major means of heat advection [flow] toward the Arctic and strongly affects the sea ice distribution. Records of its natural variability are critical for the understanding of feedback mechanisms and the future of the Arctic climate system, but continuous historical records reach back only ~150 years.  Here, we present a multidecadal-scale record of ocean temperature variations during the past 2000 years, derived from marine sediments off Western Svalbard (79°N).  We find that early–21st-century temperatures of Atlantic Water entering the Arctic Ocean are unprecedented over the past 2000 years and are presumably linked to the Arctic amplification of global warming.

That certainly sounds like a milestone on our way to the destruction of the world as we know it.

In the video Guy also refers to his blog, where you can find this statement:

Extent of Arctic sea ice passed a tipping point in 2007, according to research published in the February 2013 issue of The Cryosphere.

Oh my goodness, a tipping point? Indeed, the title of this paper is A recent tipping point in the Arctic sea-ice cover: abrupt and persistent increase in the seasonal cycle since 2007. It turns out that the tipping point we are talking about here is increase in the amplitude of the oscillations that can be seen in this figure, but as the authors write their “statistical methods cannot shed light on geophysical mechanisms.”

Surface area of Arctic  sea Ice from 1979 to 2012

Surface area of Arctic sea Ice from 1979 to 2012

All of the above may indeed be what onset of run-away climate change looks like.  Does it imply human extinction? I do not find the case Guy makes and his predicted timing spectacularly compelling. But, hey, if he’s right it will surely make the jellyfish of the world really happy. So, how bad can it be? How much worse, by the way, is human extinction than “just” wiping out 50% of humanity? Whatever we may have unleashed is certainly a source of concern

Because something is happening here
But you don’t know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?

Follow these links for the previous installments: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4

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