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Trump to pick climate sceptic non scientist to head science agency!

Trump’s Expected Pick for Top USDA Scientist Is Not a ScientistSam Clovis likely to be named undersecretary of the USDA department that manages research on everything from climate change to nutrition. Pro Publica, by Jessica Huseman , May 12, 2017, The USDA’s research section studies everything from climate change to nutrition. Under the 2008 Farm Bill, its leader is supposed to serve as the agency’s “chief scientist” and be chosen “from among distinguished scientists with specialized or significant experience in agricultural research, education, and economics.”

But Sam Clovis — who, according to sources with knowledge of the appointment and members of the agriculture trade press, is President Trump’s pick to oversee the section — appears to have no such credentials.

Clovis has never taken a graduate course in science and is openly skeptical of climate change. While he has a doctorate in public administration and was a tenured professor of business and public policy at Morningside College for 10 years, he has published almost no academic work.

Clovis is better known for hosting a conservative talk radio show in his native Iowa and, after mounting an unsuccessful run for Senate in 2014, becoming a fiery pro-Trump advocate on television……https://www.propublica.org/article/trumps-expected-pick-for-top-usda-scientist-is-not-a-scientist

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May 15, 2017 Posted by | climate change, politics, USA | Leave a comment

Vanishing Pacific island calls on Australia for help

Our country will vanish’: Pacific islanders bring desperate message to Australia, Guardian, 14 May 17,   Kiribati and other low-lying countries are under threat from climate change, and while their people would rather stay behind, they may be left with no choice “……… i-Kiribati man Erietera Aram is in Australia delivering his message about the reality of climate change in his country, and of its immediacy. Each discussion, he says, is like a drop of water, adding to the one before it, slowly building understanding of the existential threat to his people and place.

“Climate change is not something off in the future, it’s not a problem for later. We are living it now,” he says.

The archipelago of Kiribati – 33 tiny coral atolls spanning 3.5m square kilometres of ocean – is the world’s lowest-lying country, with an average height above sea level of just two metres.

Most of the 113,000 i-Kiribati live crammed on to Tarawa, the administrative centre, a chain of islets that curve in a horseshoe shape around a lagoon.

“My place is very small,” Aram says. “If you stand in the middle, you can see water on both sides. We are vulnerable. One tsunami, one tsunami and our whole country will disappear.”

Already, there is less and less of Kiribati for its inhabitants. The coastline is regularly being lost to king tides and to creeping sea levels, and in a very real sense, there is nowhere to go.

The loss of land is causing conflict – Tarawa is growing ever more densely crowded, as families living on the coastline are forced inwards, infringing on another’s claim.

The next round of multinational climate talks in November – COP 23 – will be chaired by Fiji, and is expected to swing particular focus of the global climate debate to the Pacific, where comparatively minuscule amounts of carbon are produced, but the effects of climate change have been felt first, and most acutely.

Assuming the COP presidency, the Fijian prime minister, Frank Bainimarama, said he would “bring a particular perspective to these negotiations on behalf of some of those who are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change – Pacific Islanders and the residents of other small island developing states and low-lying areas of the world”…….https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/14/our-country-will-vanish-pacific-islanders-bring-desperate-message-to-australia

May 15, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change, OCEANIA | Leave a comment

Wind power providing jobs and energy in America’s Heartland

Wind Is The New Power In America’s Heartland, Forbes, Chris Brown, 14 May 17, U.S. wind energy recently achieved a major milestone, which underscores a new reality that is generating power and jobs across America’s heartland. In February, low-cost clean electricity from wind turbines on the Great Plains supplied more than half (52.1%) of all power on the grid serving Americans in a 14-state swath of the central U.S., stretching from Texas to Montana.

This was the first time a North American grid operator supplied a majority of its electricity from wind, powering millions of households. “Now we have the ability to reliably manage greater than 50%,” said Bruce Rew, vice president of operations, Southwest Power Pool (SPP). “It’s not even our ceiling.”

SPP understands the power of wind. They aren’t alone.

The CEO of Great River Energy Inc., which supplies 28 electric co-ops in Minnesota, recently said that “wind is quickly becoming the new base load, and to be viable going forward, all other sources must be flexible enough to be supplemental to the wind.”

ndeed, in 2016 wind topped hydroelectric as the #1 U.S. renewable energy in total capacity, enough to power 24 million homes. Wind capped a second straight year installing more than 8,000 megawatts and exceeded both natural gas and solar in new U.S. utility-scale capacity for 2015-2016 combined, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission reported.

Wind is winning in energy markets because of its proven reliability and market-beating cost, which fell 66% since 2009. It’s now the cheapest source of new electric-generating capacity across much of the nation, attracting utilities such as Xcel Energy and MidAmerican Energy, and corporate buyers including Amazon, Google, Home Depot and GM.

Wind isn’t just becoming a major contributor to U.S. power – it’s a rapidly expanding base for U.S. jobs. Every year, the wind industry as a whole now supports more than 30 U.S. jobs for every new wind turbine, according to analysis of new economic impact data by Navigant Consulting. A modern wind turbine takes 18 full-time U.S. jobs to develop, manufacture, transport and construct, and creates 44 years of full-time employment, including long-term operations and maintenance, over its lifetime.

Nationwide, wind powers 102,500 jobs, driving economic development in the rural Midwest, Rust Belt and all 50 states. By 2020, projected wind-related jobs will rise to a quarter million, including jobs in communities surrounding wind farms and factories. Today, U.S. wind counts more than 1,000 utility-scale projects, 52,000 wind turbines and 500 factories.

That’s good news for America’s heartland, where wind power has arrived in a big way. Wind has bipartisan backing from large majorities because it’s delivering for Americans – in their wallets, workplace and homes:……https://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2017/05/10/wind-is-the-new-power-in-americas-heartland/#29e27e2c31a5

May 15, 2017 Posted by | employment, renewable, USA | Leave a comment

Call for Pentagon to disclose depleted uranium target

Jack Cohen-Joppa: McSally: Ask Pentagon to disclose depleted uranium target data. http://tucson.com/news/opinion/columnists/guest/jack-cohen-joppa-mcsally-ask-pentagon-to-disclose-depleted-uranium/article_9951f82c-0d54-5884-b54f-f5d467dcbfac.html 14 May 17,  Jack Cohen-Joppa

Last year, Rep. Martha McSally’s office helped a military journalist and I confirm that for the first time since 2003, A-10s had fired their armor-piercing depleted uranium (DU) ammunition while attacking an ISIS convoy in Syria in November, 2015.

In February, I wrote to ask her assistance in getting the Pentagon to share with appropriate Iraqi and international authorities all of the locations where this radioactive ammunition has been used.

 Twenty-six years ago during Operation Desert Storm, U.S. armed forces flying over Iraq fired nearly one million rounds of the special ammunition, totaling about 300 tons of refined depleted uranium. Another 125-plus tons of these radioactive bullets were fired during Operation Iraqi Freedom, the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The vast bulk of this ordnance came from the guns of the A-10 warplanes, while the remainder was fired from the Abrams tank, Bradley Fighting Vehicle and Marine AV-8B Harrier.

As a radioactive heavy metal, use of DU in industry is licensed from federally owned stockpiles. Public health officials recognize it as a chemical and radiological hazard. Industrial emissions are subject to regulation, and production facilities have been shut down due to off-site contamination. Protocols and procedures exist to protect the health and safety of those in industry and the military who manufacture and handle the uranium ammo until its use in combat.

Since 1991, the United States has been asked to provide international aid NGOs, United Nations agencies, and the government of Iraq with full information about where this ammunition was used. According to the World Health Organization, the International Atomic Energy Agency and the United Nations Environmental Program, this basic data is needed to help identify contaminated sites for remediation and the eventual removal of this toxic remnant of war.

 Today, more than two decades later, our government has refused to fully disclose this information. The failure to disclose has a continuing political cost as well, because it counters any claim that the United States cares for the future of the Iraqi, and now also the Syrian, people.

It is known that such targeting information is available to disclose because a subset of the data was shared with the Dutch government for locations where Dutch coalition troops may have encountered DU contamination. NATO also released targeting data for DU use in the Balkans in 1999. Another limited set of targeting data from 2003 was uncovered recently in George Washington University’s National Security Archive.

I asked Representative McSally to add her voice to those demanding the Pentagon provide international authorities with comprehensive information regarding where DU was used by the A-10s and other platforms since 1991.

But now, three months later, neither McSally nor her office have replied to my letter, let alone provided an answer about her views on the matter. As a veteran A-10 commander now sitting on the House Armed Services Committee, her support for releasing this information would be significant, benefiting the health and safety of U.S. military personnel, international aid workers and the affected civilian populations for generations to come. I encourage all of her  constituents to join me in asking her to support this request.

 Jack Cohen-Joppa, a Tucson resident since 1986, is co-coordinator of the Nuclear Resister. Contact Jack at jack@igc.org.

May 15, 2017 Posted by | depleted uranium, USA | Leave a comment