Hurricane Harvey Is a Horrible Reminder of the Cost We Pay for Climate Denial

EcoWatch-Greenpeace

Hurricane Harvey Is a Horrible Reminder of the Cost We Pay for Climate Denial

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By Ryan Schleeter     August 30, 2017

With rain expected to continue falling through this Friday, what we already know about Hurricane Harvey paints a devastating picture.

The equivalent of half of Houston’s annual average rainfall has fallen in the last 48 hours; 80,000 households are without electricity; Houston emergency services have received almost 6,000 urgent appeals for rescues; 54 Texas counties have been declared state disaster areas; thousands of people are displaced or in shelters; five people have died.

And climate change is making it all worse.

While we cannot say definitively that climate change caused Hurricane Harvey, science tells us with confidence that it has increased the impact of the flooding and heightened the intensity of the storm.

But this shouldn’t come as a surprise. For many years, scientists have warned that our continued reliance on fossil fuels will lead to bigger and more devastating storms.

It’s also abundantly clear that coastal Texas and the wider Gulf region (which has seen this kind of event before), are on the frontlines of sea level rise and extreme weather heightened by climate change. And Houston in particular—with its slate of oil, gas, and chemical refineries owned by companies like Exxon and Shell—faces the additional risk of toxic petrochemical spills into nearby communities.

When disasters like Harvey strike, those standing in the way of climate action must answer to the victims.

That means we’re looking at you, Greg Abbott. The Texas governor has been on record for years denying the science of climate change, stating that scientists disagree (they don’t) and that their findings “need to continue to be investigated” (not really). He also sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over the Clean Power Plan, President Obama’s initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

There’s also Ted Cruz, the Texas senator so committed to discrediting climate science he once convened a Senate hearing on the issue and filled his panel with “scientists” paid by the fossil fuel industry.

And we can’t forget Lamar Smith, who represents Texas’s 21st congressional district. As chairman of the House Science Committee, he subpoenaed eight environmental groups—including Greenpeace—for calling on officials to investigate Exxon’s history of climate denial.

But this goes beyond Texas—we’re also looking at you, Donald Trump. Not only is Trump a unapologetic denier who has spent his time in office dismantling every climate protection activists have won in recent years, he also rolled back an Obama-era rule that required new infrastructure to be built with climate resiliency in mind (flood protection, specifically).

How you can support the victims of Hurricane Harvey.

In the long run, helping those impacted by extreme weather events means holding big polluters—like Exxon—and climate deniers—like Trump, Cruz, Abbot and Smith—accountable. Only a just transition away from fossil fuels and toward a clean energy economy can soften the impact of the next superstorm to come our way.

But right now, folks on the ground need your immediate support as they deal with power outages, continued flooding, and overcrowded shelters.

Health officials are warning Texans to stay out of Harvey floodwaters for a disturbing reason

Health officials are warning Texans to stay out of Harvey floodwaters for a disturbing reason

Erin Brodwin, Business Insider       August 29, 2017

As flooding from Hurricane Harvey continues to rise and spread, officials are warning thousands of Texans to avoid the water.

Floodwaters act as sponges for hazards. As they bubble past city streets and inundate cars and homes, they collect sharp objects, sweep up insects and wildlife, and gather human waste.

But staying out of the water is easier said than done.

Just before she was rescued at around 4 a.m. on Sunday from Harvey, 17-year-old Maya Wadler watched as brownish-gray floodwaters “bubbled up from the doors, seeped in from the windows,” she told the New York Times.

Chris Van Deusen, a spokesman for the Texas Department of State Health Services, told NPR that although his group was advising people to avoid floodwaters, “of course, people have had to be in the water — they haven’t had a choice.”

The Environmental Protection Agency warns that floodwaters can pull in raw sewage as well as industrial chemicals and solvents. It urges anyone exposed to frequently wash their hands and ensure children don’t play in it.

“Floodwater mixes with everything below it,” Richard Bradley, the chief of emergency medical services and disaster medicine at the University of Texas’ McGovern Medical School, told Time. “If it covers a field with pesticides, it picks up the pesticides. It can also carry animal waste from fields and forests.”

One concern is tetanus, an infection caused by bacteria in soil, dust, and manure that can enter the body via a cut or puncture wound. When the bacteria enter the body, they produce a poison that causes painful muscle contractions. These can cause a person’s neck and jaw muscles to lock, hence the other name for tetanus: lockjaw.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention typically recommends adults get a tetanus booster shot every 10 years. Because of Harvey, Texas health officials are urging people to make sure they’ve had theirs, NPR reported. They are also sending supplies of the vaccine to the affected areas.

“The bacterial count in floodwater is extremely high,” Bradley told Time. “The chance of getting a skin infection is really quite serious.”

Another risk is wildlife, as snakes, insects, and other wild animals can be drawn to the water or swept up in it.

“Storm activity definitely increases the potential for snakebite as the snakes get flooded out and seek higher ground,” Bryan Fry, an expert on venomous snakes at the University of Queensland in Australia, told the Washington Post.

The dangers don’t necessarily subside once the storm ends, since stagnant water poses risks of its own. Wet environments in houses and buildings are ideal for mold. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, close to half of all inspected homes had visible mold, according to the CDC. Mosquitoes and other pests are also attracted to still water.

Regardless of where you are, the ways to keep yourself safe are the same: ensure you’ve gotten your vaccinations, wash your hands frequently, and let your doctor know if you have any cuts or open wounds that have come into contact with potentially dangerous water.

https://s.yimg.com/lo/api/res/1.2/Di3C5k_keJ5NIRbMqvGvHw--/YXBwaWQ9eW15O3c9NjQwO3E9NzU7c209MQ--/http://globalfinance.zenfs.com/en_us/Finance/US_AFTP_SILICONALLEY_H_LIVE/Health_officials_are_warning_Texans-adf638508a0a249b048387f1db925e84(Floodwaters act as sponges for hazards. As they bubble past city streets and inundate cars and homes, they collect sharp objects, sweep up insects and wildlife, and gather human waste and chemicals from industrial plants. David J. Phillip/AP)

Harvey horror: Shivering tot found clinging to drowned mom

Associated Press

Harvey horror: Shivering tot found clinging to drowned mom

Associated Press       August 30, 2017   

BEAUMONT, Texas (AP) — Authorities found a shivering toddler clinging to the body of her drowned mother in a rain-swollen canal in Southeast Texas after the woman tried to carry her child to safety from Harvey’s floods.

Capt. Brad Penisson of the fire-rescue department in Beaumont said the woman’s vehicle got stuck Tuesday afternoon in the flooded parking lot of an office park just off Interstate 10. Squalls from Harvey were pounding Beaumont with up to 2 inches (5 centimeters) of rain an hour at the time with 38 mph (60 kph) gusts, according to the National Weather Service.

Penisson said a witness saw the woman take her 18-month-old daughter and try to walk to safety when the swift current of a flooded drainage canal next to the parking lot swept them both away.

The child was holding onto the floating woman when a police and fire-rescue team in a boat caught up to them a half-mile downstream, he said. Rescuers pulled them into the boat just before they would have gone under a railroad trestle where the water was so high that the boat could not have followed.

First responders lifted the child from her mother’s body and tried to revive the woman, but she never regained consciousness.

Penisson said the child was in stable condition at Christus St. Elizabeth Hospital.

The identities of the mother and child were being withheld until the father, who was out of town, can be notified.

At least 18 people have been killed by Harvey since Friday, when it made landfall in Texas as a Category 4 hurricane. Harvey has since weakened to a tropical storm.

Climate Change Worsened the Impact of Hurricane Harvey

EcoWatch

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Michael Mann: Climate Change Worsened the Impact of Hurricane Harvey

Michael Mann     August 29, 2017  

What can we say about the role of climate change in the unprecedented disaster that is unfolding in Houston with Hurricane Harvey?

There are certain climate change-related factors that we can, with great confidence, say worsened the flooding.

Sea level rise attributable to climate change (some is due to coastal subsidence due to human disturbance e.g. oil drilling) is more than half a foot over the past few decades.

That means that the storm surge was a half foot higher than it would have been just decades ago, meaning far more flooding and destruction.

In addition to that, sea surface temperatures in the region have risen about 0.5C (close to 1F) over the past few decades, from roughly 30C (86F) to 30.5C (87F), which contributed to the very warm sea surface temperatures (30.5-31 C or 87-88F). There is a simple thermodynamic relationship known as the Clausius-Clapeyron equation that tells us there is a roughly 3 percent increase in average atmospheric moisture content for each 0.5C (~1F) of warming. Sea surface temperatures in the area where Harvey intensified were 0.5-1C warmer than current-day average temperatures, which translates to 1-1.5C warmer than the “average” temperatures a few decades ago. That means 3-5 percent more moisture in the atmosphere.

That large amount of moisture meant the potential for much greater rainfalls and greater flooding.

The combination of coastal flooding and heavy rainfall is responsible for the devastating flooding that Houston is experiencing.

Not only are the surface waters of the Gulf unusually warm right now, but there is a deep layer of warm water that Harvey was able to feed upon when it intensified at near record pace as it neared the coast. Human-caused warming is penetrating down into the ocean warming not just the surface but creating deeper layers of warm water in the Gulf and elsewhere.

So Harvey was almost certainly more intense than it would have been in the absence of human- caused warming, which means stronger winds, more wind damage and a larger storm surge (as an example of how this works, we have shown that climate change has led to a dramatic increase in storm surge risk in New York City, making devastating events like Superstorm Sandy more likely.

Finally, the more tenuous but potentially relevant climate factors: Part of what has made Harvey such a devastating storm is the way it has stalled right near the coast, continuing to pummel Houston and surrounding regions with a seemingly endless deluge which will likely top out at nearly 4 feet of rainfall over a several days-long period before it is done.

The stalling is due to very weak prevailing winds which are failing to steer the storm off to sea, allowing it to spin around and wobble back and forth like a top with no direction. This pattern, in turn, is associated with a greatly expanded subtropical high pressure system over much of the U.S. right now, with the jet stream pushed well to the north. This pattern of subtropical expansion is predicted in model simulations of human-caused climate change.

More tenuous, but possibly relevant still, is the fact that very persistent, nearly “stationary” summer weather patterns of this sort, where weather anomalies (both high pressure dry hot regions and low-pressure stormy/rainy regions) stay locked in place for many days at a time, appears to be favored by human-caused climate change. We recently published on this phenomenon:

In conclusion, while we cannot say climate change “caused” hurricane Harvey (that is an ill-posed question), we can say that it exacerbate several characteristics of the storm in a way that greatly increased the risk of damage and loss of life.

Climate change worsened the impact of Hurricane Harvey.

Katharine Hayhoe is successfully convincing doubtful evangelicals about climate change

The Guardian

Study: Katharine Hayhoe is successfully convincing doubtful evangelicals about climate change | Dana Nuccitelli

Dana Nuccitelli, The Guardian         August 28, 2017

A new study finds that a lecture from evangelical climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe successfully educates evangelical college students, validating the “trusted sources” approach

https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/UO6QETVgiKheeLS2VZa0uw--/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjtzbT0xO3c9ODAw/http://media.zenfs.com/en-US/homerun/the_guardian_765/1292af4a7b7a22ea350ec3b184399ff5Katharine Hayhoe speaks about climate change to students and faculty at Wayland Baptist University on November 9, 2011, in Plainview, Texas. Photograph: Chicago Tribune/MCT via Getty Images

Approximately one-quarter of Americans identify as evangelical Christians, and that group also tends to be more resistant to the reality of human-caused global warming. As a news paper by Brian Webb and Doug Hayhoe notes:

a 2008 study found that just 44% of evangelicals believed global warming to be caused mostly by human activities, compared to 64% of nonevangelicals (Smith and Leiserowitz, 2013) while, a 2011 survey found that only 27% of white evangelicals believed there to be a scientific consensus on climate change, compared to 40% of the American public (Public Religion Research Institute, 2011).

These findings appear to stem from two primary factors. First, evangelicals tend to be socially and politically conservative, and climate change is among the many issues that have become politically polarized in America. Second, there is sometimes a perceived conflict between science and religion, as Christians distrust what they perceive as scientists’ “moral agenda” on issues like evolution, stem cell research, and climate change. As Webb and Hayhoe describe it:

theological conservatism, scientific skepticism, political affiliation, and sociocultural influences have reinforced one another to instill climate skepticism into the evangelical tribe mentality, thus creating a formidable barrier to climate education efforts.

Evangelical climate leaders

There are also evangelicals who have tried to convince their peer group about the reality of human-caused climate change and our moral obligation to address it. These include the Evangelical Environmental Network, the Evangelical Climate Initiative, the Young Evangelicals for Climate Action, and evangelical climate scientists like Sir John Houghton and Doug Hayhoe’s daughter Katharine Hayhoe (one of TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people). However, a majority of evangelicals continue to reject the reality of human-caused climate change, and there hasn’t been research quantifying the effectiveness of these evangelical climate leadership efforts.

Brian Webb and Doug Hayhoe’s study did just that by testing the effectiveness of a climate lecture delivered by Katharine Hayhoe to undergraduate students at the predominantly evangelical Houghton College in New York. Approximately half of the participants self-identified as conservatives and Republicans, 28% as liberals and Democrats, and the remainder as neither liberal nor conservative. 63% of the participants identified as evangelicals (most of the rest were of other Christian denominations).

Katharine Hayhoe’s lecture presented climate science information through the lens of an evangelical tradition. In addition to presenting scientific evidence, it included an introduction about the difference between faith and science (faith is based on things that are spiritually discerned, whereas science is based on observation). About six minutes of the 33- to 53-minute lectures were devoted to theology-based ethics.

Hayhoe lecture’s effectiveness

The participants filled out a survey before and after the lecture, detailing their acceptance that global warming is happening, its cause, whether there’s a scientific consensus, how high of a priority they consider it, how worried they are about it, and how much it will harm various groups. The results showed an increase in pro-climate beliefs for every single question after listening to Katharine Hayhoe’s lecture.

Acceptance that global warming is happening increased for 48% of participants, and that humans are causing it for 39%. Awareness of the expert scientific consensus increased among 27% of participants. 52% were more worried about climate change after watching the lecture, and 67% increased their responses about how much harm climate change will do. 55% of participants viewed addressing climate change a higher priority after attending Katharine Hayhoe’s lecture. For most of the remaining participants, there was no change in responses to these questions.

By testing three different lecture approaches, Webb and Hayhoe also concluded that the lecture was equally effective when presented in person or as a recorded video, and that adding material about common climate misconceptions didn’t make the lecture any more effective.

Facts matter – especially when they come from trusted sources

There’s been some debate among social scientists about how much facts matter in today’s politically polarized society. Some have warned about the “smart idiots” effect, in which people who are more knowledgeable are often less persuadable, essentially because they have more tools with which to reject information they find inconvenient. However, other research has shown that climate-specific knowledge does increase peoples’ acceptance of human-caused global warming. The question then becomes how to arm people with that climate-specific knowledge.

One thing most social scientists agree on is that people are more open to information when it comes from “trusted sources” – people with whom they have shared values. For evangelicals, Katharine Hayhoe is a perfect example, and this study confirms that her lectures are effective at informing evangelical college students about climate change.

Other climate scientists can follow Hayhoe’s successful example by identifying groups whose membership is predominantly skeptical about human-caused global warming, with whom the individual scientist shares a commonality that will make him or her a trusted source of information. This could consist of religious beliefs, political leanings, or other shared values. This study has shown that the trusted source approach is an effective one at breaking through individuals’ resistance to the realities of human-caused climate change.

This miracle weed killer was supposed to save farms. Instead, it’s devastating them.

Washington Post   Business

This miracle weed killer was supposed to save farms. Instead, it’s devastating them.

By Caitlin Dewey      August 29, 2017

https://img.washingtonpost.com/wp-apps/imrs.php?src=https://img.washingtonpost.com/rw/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2017/08/29/National-Economy/Images/170809_DicambaEdit_0034.JPG?uuid=NGprxn-FEeeysa66YoVN-g&w=600Lyle Hadden, a soybean farmer, walks through a field he’s planted that shows signs of being affected by the herbicide dicamba. (Andrea Morales/For The Washington Post)

BLYTHEVILLE, ARK. — Clay Mayes slams on the brakes of his Chevy Silverado and jumps out with the engine running, yelling at a dogwood by the side of the dirt road as if it had said something insulting.

Its leaves curl downward and in on themselves like tiny, broken umbrellas. It’s the telltale mark of inadvertent exposure to a controversial herbicide called dicamba.

“This is crazy. Crazy!” shouts Mayes, a farm manager, gesticulating toward the shriveled canopy off Highway 61. “I just think if this keeps going on . . .”

“Everything’ll be dead,” says Brian Smith, his passenger.

The damage here in northeast Arkansas and across the Midwest — sickly soybeans, trees and other crops — has become emblematic of a deepening crisis in American agriculture.

Farmers are locked in an arms race between ever-stronger weeds and ever-stronger weed killers.

The dicamba system, approved for use for the first time this spring, was supposed to break the cycle and guarantee weed control in soybeans and cotton. The herbicide — used in combination with a genetically modified dicamba-resistant soybean — promises better control of unwanted plants such as pigweed, which has become resistant to common weed killers.

The problem, farmers and weed scientists say, is that dicamba has drifted from the fields where it was sprayed, damaging millions of acres of unprotected soybeans and other crops in what some are calling a man-made disaster. Critics say that the herbicide was approved by federal officials without enough data, particularly on the critical question of whether it could drift off target.

Government officials and manufacturers Monsanto and BASF deny the charge, saying the system worked as Congress designed it.

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Leaves and a stalk from a soybean plant showing signs of being affected by dicamba. (Andrea Morales/For The Washington Post)

The backlash against dicamba has spurred lawsuits, state and federal investigations, and one argument that ended in a farmer’s shooting death and related murder charges.

“This should be a wake-up call,” said David Mortensen, a weed scientist at Pennsylvania State University.

Herbicide-resistant weeds are thought to cost U.S. agriculture millions of dollars per year in lost crops.

After the Environmental Protection Agency approved the updated formulation of the herbicide for use this spring and summer, farmers across the country planted more than 20 million acres of dicamba-resistant soybeans, according to Monsanto.

But as dicamba use has increased, so too have reports that it “volatilizes,” or re-vaporizes and travels to other fields. That harms nearby trees, such as the dogwood outside Blytheville, as well as nonresistant soybeans, fruits and vegetables, and plants used as habitats by bees and other pollinators.

According to a 2004 assessment, dicamba is 75 to 400 times more dangerous to off-target plants than the common weed killer glyphosate, even at very low doses. It is particularly toxic to soybeans — the very crop it was designed to protect — that haven’t been modified for resistance.

Kevin Bradley, a University of Missouri researcher, estimates that more than 3.1 million acres of soybeans have been damaged by dicamba in at least 16 states, including major producers such as Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota. That figure is probably low, according to researchers, and it represents almost 4 percent of all U.S. soybean acres.

“It’s really hard to get a handle on how widespread the damage is,” said Bob Hartzler, a professor of agronomy at Iowa State University. “But I’ve come to the conclusion that [dicamba] is not manageable.”

The dicamba crisis comes on top of lower-than-forecast soybean prices and 14 straight quarters of declining farm income. The pressures on farmers are intense.

One Arkansas man is facing murder charges after he shot a farmer who had come to confront him about dicamba drift, according to law enforcement officials.

Thirty minutes down the road, Arkansas farmer Wally Smith is unsure how much more he can take.

Smith’s farm employs five people — including his son, Hughes, his nephew, Brian, and the farm manager, Mayes. None of the men are quite sure what else they’d do for work in this corner of Mississippi County.

Dicamba has hit the Blytheville — pronounced “Bly-vul” — region hard. For miles in any direction out of town, the soybeans that stretch from the road to the distant tree line are curled and stunted. A nearby organic farm suspended its summer sales after finding dicamba contamination in its produce.

https://img.washingtonpost.com/wp-apps/imrs.php?src=https://img.washingtonpost.com/rw/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2017/08/29/National-Economy/Images/170809_DicambaEdit_0007.JPG?uuid=V42-dH-EEeeysa66YoVN-g&w=600Eddie Dunigan, (center) a consultant from Craighead County, raises questions about the volatility of dicamba to Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) during the governor’s “Turnrow Tour” at the Adams Estate in Leachfield, Ark. (Andrea Morales/For The Washington Post)

At the Smiths’ farm, several thousand acres of soybeans are growing too slowly because of dicamba, representing losses on a $2 million investment.

“This is a fact,” the elder Smith said. “If the yield goes down, we’ll be out of business.”

The new formulations of dicamba were approved on the promise that they were less risky and volatile than earlier versions.

Critics say that the approval process proceeded without adequate data and under enormous pressure from state agriculture departments, industry groups and farmers associations. Those groups said that farmers desperately needed the new herbicide to control glyphosate-resistant weeds, which can take over fields and deprive soybeans of sunlight and nutrients.

Such weeds have grown stronger and more numerous over the past 20 years — a result of herbicide overuse. By spraying so much glyphosate, farmers inadvertently caused weeds to evolve resistant traits more quickly.

https://img.washingtonpost.com/wp-apps/imrs.php?src=http%3A%2F%2Fs3.amazonaws.com%2Fposttv-thumbnails-prod%2F06-13-2017%2Ft_1497385930344_name_wplfood032Z8865.jpg&w=600Dr. Marty Matlock, Executive Director of the Office for Sustainability at the University of Arkansas, Ken Cook, President and Co-founder at Environmental Working Group, and Veronica Nigh, Economist at American Farm Bureau Federation, discuss how to manage risks in biotechnology, selective breeding and genetically modified crops and possible tools and resources farmers can use to solve longstanding issues. (Washington Post Live)

The new dicamba formulations were supposed to attack those resistant weeds without floating to other fields.

But during a July 29 call with EPA officials, a dozen state weed scientists expressed unanimous concern that dicamba is more volatile than manufacturers have indicated, according to several scientists on the call. Field tests by researchers at the Universities of Missouri, Tennessee and Arkansas have since found that the new dicamba herbicides can volatilize and float to other fields as long as 72 hours after application.

Regulators did not have access to much of this data. Although Monsanto and BASF submitted hundreds of studies to the EPA, only a handful of reports considered volatility in a real-world field setting, as opposed to a greenhouse or a lab, according to regulatory filings. Under EPA rules, manufacturers are responsible for funding and conducting the safety tests the agency uses to evaluate products.

https://img.washingtonpost.com/wp-apps/imrs.php?src=https://img.washingtonpost.com/rw/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2017/08/29/National-Economy/Images/170809_DicambaEdit_0015.JPG?uuid=pkieRH-EEeeysa66YoVN-g&w=600Pigweed, a highly competitive plant that grows in cotton and soybean fields and has developed resistance to some pesticides, grows tall over soybean fields weakened by nearby dicamba use. (Andrea Morales/For The Washington Post)

And although pesticide-makers often supply new products to university researchers to conduct field tests in varied environments, Monsanto acknowledged it did not allow that testing on its commercialized dicamba because it did not want to delay registration, and scientists said BASF limited it.

Frustrated scientists say that allowed chemical companies to cherry-pick the data available to regulators.

“Monsanto in particular did very little volatility field work,” said Jason Norsworthy, an agronomy professor at the University of Arkansas who was denied access to test the volatility of Monsanto’s product.

The EPA and chemical manufacturers deny that there was anything amiss in the dicamba approval process.

“The applicant for registration is required to submit the required data to support registration,” the agency said in a statement. “Congress placed this obligation on the pesticide manufacturer rather than requiring others to develop and fund such data development.”

Manufacturers say that volatility is not to blame. In a statement, BASF spokeswoman Odessa Patricia Hines said the company brought its dicamba product to market “after years of research, farm trials and reviews by universities and regulatory authorities.”

Scott Partridge, Monsanto’s vice president of global strategy, thinks some farmers have illegally sprayed older, more volatile dicamba formulations or used the herbicide with the wrong equipment.

The company, which invested $1 billion in dicamba production plants last year, has deployed a fleet of agronomists and climate scientists to figure out what went wrong.

“We’re visiting every grower and every field,” Partridge said. “If there are improvements that can be made to this product, we’re going to do it.”

Regulators in the most-affected states are also taking action. In July, Arkansas banned spraying for the remainder of the season and raised the penalties on illegal applications.

Missouri and Tennessee have tightened their rules on dicamba use, while nearly a dozen states have complained to the EPA.

The agency signaled in early August that it might consider taking the new dicamba herbicides off the market, according to several scientists who spoke to regulators.

The agency would not comment directly on its plans. “EPA is very concerned about the recent reports of crop damage related to the use of dicamba in Arkansas and elsewhere,” an agency representative said.

Meanwhile, a class-action lawsuit alleges that dicamba manufacturers misrepresented the risk of their products. The Smiths are considering signing up. Monsanto says the suit is baseless.

There are also early indications that dicamba may not work for long. Researchers have shown that pigweed can develop dicamba resistance within as few as three years. Suspected instances of dicamba-resistant pigweed have been found in Tennessee and Arkansas.

A spokeswoman for Monsanto said the company was “not aware of any confirmed instances of pigweed resistance” to dicamba.

https://img.washingtonpost.com/wp-apps/imrs.php?src=https://img.washingtonpost.com/rw/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2017/08/29/National-Economy/Images/170809_DicambaEdit_0022.JPG?uuid=xcAMEn-EEeeysa66YoVN-g&w=600Soybean farmer Brad Rose’s truck kicks up dust while heading down a road near his farm. (Andrea Morales/For The Washington Post)

Some critics of chemical-intensive agriculture have begun to see the crisis as a parable — and a prediction — for the future of farming in the United States. Scott Faber, a vice president at the Environmental Working Group, said farmers have become “trapped on a chemical treadmill” driven by the biotech industry. Many farmers say they think they could not continue farming without new herbicide technology.

“We’re on a road to nowhere,” said Nathan Donley, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The next story is resistance to a third chemical, and then a fourth chemical — you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see where that will end.

“The real issue here is that people are using ever-more complicated combinations of poisons on crops, with ever-more complex consequences.”

In Blytheville, at least, one consequence is increasingly obvious: It’s a short, scraggly plant with cupped green leaves and a few empty pods hanging near its stem. At this time of year, this plant should have more pods and be eight inches taller, Mayes said.

“This is what we’re dealing with here,” he said, before shaking his head and turning back to his truck. “We go to work every day wondering if next year we’re still going to have a job.”

Caitlin Dewey is the food policy writer for Wonkblog. Subscribe to her daily newsletter:

Trump Cabinet member’s (Zinke) daughter tells “never piece of sh!t Trump to STFU

Daily Kos

Trump Cabinet member’s (Zinke) daughter tells “never piece of sh!t Trump to STFU

By BruinKid    from August 26, 2017

Oh my, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s daughter recently ripped Trump a new one  over his transgender military ban.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s daughter Jennifer Detlefsen, who is a Navy veteran, sharply criticized the proposal, calling the president a “disgrace,” the Billings Gazette reported Friday. ….

“This man is a disgrace. I’ve tried to keep politics out of my social media feed as much as possible, but this is inexcusable,” read her post on July 26, which still appeared online on Saturday.

“This veteran says sit down and shut the f–k up, you know-nothing, never-served piece of s–t,” she added.

From The Missoulian, more on her Navy background:

Detlefsen served in the Navy as a Deep Sea Diving Medical Technician and later as a High Risk Instructor of an explosive ordnance disposal training unit. She had worked at Special Operations for America, a military-focused super political action committee founded by Zinke, doing digital consulting and social media work, according to filings with the Federal Elections Commission.

Detlefsen now is a Virginia-based glass artist “bound by themes of masculine/feminine dichotomy, double standards, motherhood, and literature’s impact on gender roles.”

Here is the Instagram post, which is still up.  Her full unedited quote:

This man is a disgrace. I’ve tried to keep politics out of my social media feed as much as possible, but this is inexcusable. This veteran says sit down and shut the fuck up, you know-nothing, never-served piece of shit#itmfa #wtf

For those who don’t know, #ITMFA stands for “Impeach the Mother______ Already”.

She also responded to a Trump supporter attacking her on her Instagram post:

You served. So did I. You have your opinion. So do I. I am disgusted that a Commander In Chief would so callously disregard the service and sacrifice of the thousands of transgender soldiers, sailors and airmen already putting their lives on the line for our county. And you can take your machismo posturing elsewhere. I’m not afraid of you or your threats.

Thanksgiving may be a bit awkward at the Zinke household this year.

You can also sign the Daily Kos petition denouncing Trump for the transgender military ban.

 

Stanford Scientists: Switch to Renewables Would Save 7 Million Lives Per Year, Create 24 Million Jobs

EcoWatch   Climate News Network

https://resize.rbl.ms/simage/https%3A%2F%2Fassets.rbl.ms%2F10428004%2Forigin.jpg/1200%2C675/i7rgZanUw1CVgyz1/img.jpgThe National Museum of African American History and Culture is the first Smithsonian museum to have solar panels. Solar Solution

Stanford Scientists: Switch to Renewables Would Save 7 Million Lives Per Year, Create 24 Million Jobs

By Tim Radford     August 25, 2017

Californian scientists said a fossil fuel phase-out is achievable that would contain climate change, deliver energy entirely from wind water and sunlight to 139 nations, and save up to 7 million lives each year.

They said it would also create a net gain of 24 million long-term jobs, all by 2050, and at the same time limit global warming to 1.5°C or less.

The road-map is entirely theoretical, and depends entirely on the political determination within each country to make the switch work. But, the researchers argued, they have provided a guide towards an economic and social shift that could save economies each year around $20 trillion in health and climate costs.

The scientists have provided the calculations for only 139 of the 195 nations that vowed in Paris in 2015 to contain global warming to “well below” 2 degrees C because these were the nations for which reliable energy data was publicly available.

But these 139 nations account for perhaps 99 percent of all the carbon dioxide emitted by human combustion of fossil fuels. And the clean-energy answer covers all economic activity—electricity, transport, heating and cooling, industry, agriculture, forestry and fishing.

Workable Scenario

“Policymakers don’t usually want to commit to doing something unless there is some reasonable science that can show it is possible, and that is what we are trying to do,” said Mark Jacobson of Stanford University’s atmosphere and energy program.

“There are other scenarios. We are not saying that there is only one way we can do this, but having a scenario gives people direction.”

Jacobson and 26 colleagues reported in the journal Joule that their road-maps to a new energy world free of fossil fuels and of nuclear energy can be achieved without the mining, transporting or processing of fuels.

According to their road-maps, 139 nations could be 80 percent complete by 2030 and entirely committed to renewable sources by 2050. Jobs lost in the coal and petroleum industries would be more than compensated for by growth in the renewable sectors, and in the end, there would be more than 24 million new jobs worldwide.

Energy prices would become stable, because fuel would arrive for free: there would be less risk of disruption to energy supplies because sources would be decentralized. And energy efficiency savings that go with electrification overall could reduce “business-as-usual” demand by an estimated 42.5 percent.

Lives Saved

“Aside from eliminating emissions and avoiding 1.5°C degrees global warming and beginning the process of letting carbon dioxide drain from the earth’s atmosphere, transitioning eliminates four to seven million air pollution deaths each year and creates over 24 million long-term full-time jobs by these plans,” professor Jacobson said.

“What is different between this study and other studies that have proposed solutions is that we are trying to examine not only the climate benefits of reducing carbon but also the air pollution benefits, job benefits and cost benefits.”

The study is an extension of earlier research by professor Jacobson at Stanford: he has presented a master plan for renewable energy for all 50 U.S. states, and along with other researchers presented detailed arguments for the most efficient use of wind power, and even proposed that as a bonus wind turbines could sap the ferocity of hurricanes.

His is not the only group to calculate that the U.S. could free itself of fossil fuels and their associated costs. Nor is his the only group to make the case that clean power can save money and lives in the U.S. and elsewhere.

But the new study recognizes that global conversion from fossil fuels to sunlight, water and wind power won’t be easy. The European Union, the U.S. and China would cope better because there is greater available space per head of population: small densely-populated states such as Singapore would face greater challenges.

There is also the challenge of political will: President Trump has announced that rather than work with the rest of the world to reduce the risks of climate change, the U.S. will withdraw from the 2015 Paris agreement, and other researchers have repeatedly pointed out that the Paris accord is itself not enough, and is not being acted upon with sufficient vigor, anywhere.

Nor will the process be without contention. Professor Jacobson has lately been the focus of a bitter academic argument about whether fossil fuels can be entirely phased out without recourse to clean coal, nuclear energy and biofuels.

But the study in Joule excludes nuclear power because of the high costs, the hazards and the problems of disposing of waste. Biofuels and coal in any form also cause pollution.

Costs Slashed

The Stanford team wants to see what could be called a clean break with the past. Space shuttles and rockets have already been powered by hydrogen, aircraft companies are exploring the possibility of electric flight; underground heat storage—to cope with fluctuating demand—would be a viable option, and shared or “district” heating already keeps 60 percent of Denmark warm.

The switch to renewables would require massive investment, but the overall cost would be one fourth of what fossil fuel dependency already costs the world.

“It appears we can achieve the enormous social benefits of a zero-emission energy system at essentially no extra cost,” said Mark Delucchi of the Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California Berkeley, a co-author.

“Our findings suggest that the benefits are so great that we should accelerate the transition to wind, water, and solar, as fast as possible, by retiring fossil-fuel systems early wherever we can.”

 

We need to start protecting our rivers before plastic pollution enters our oceans.

EcoWatch

August 24, 2017

We need to start protecting our rivers before plastic pollution enters our oceans. Follow the journey of Gary Bencheghib and Sam Bencheghib as they push onwards to the Java Sea down the world’s most polluted river on plastic bottle kayaks.

We need to start protecting our rivers before plastic pollution enters our oceans. Follow the journey of Gary Bencheghib and Sam Bencheghib as they push onwards to the Java Sea down the world's most polluted river on plastic bottle kayaks.Read more: http://bit.ly/2wntUpN via Make A Change World #PlasticBottleCitarum

Posted by EcoWatch on Thursday, August 24, 2017

I Have No More Patience for Trump Supporters

Esquire

I Have No More Patience for Trump Supporters

Last night in Arizona, Trump came right up to the edge of inciting you to riot and you rode along with him.

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By Charles P. Pierce         August 23, 2017

At least, old Ted Agnew had the late William Safire writing his stuff for him. “Nattering nabobs of negativism.” “Pusillanimous pussyfooters.” I mean, that’s the top-shelf brand right there. It’s an honor to have such invective thrown in your direction. Ol’ Ted broke new ground in only two areas—taking cheap-ass bribes in the office of the vice president and attacking the media.

Instead, 45 years later, we get this mendacious litany of sixth-grade sneering:

So the — and I mean truly dishonest people in the media and the fake media, they make up stories. They have no sources in many cases. They say “a source says” — there is no such thing. But they don’t report the facts. Just like they don’t want to report that I spoke out forcefully against hatred, bigotry and violence and strongly condemned the neo-Nazis, the White Supremacists, and the KKK.

(APPLAUSE)

I openly called for unity, healing and love, and they know it because they were all there. So what I did —

(APPLAUSE)

So what I did is I thought, I’d take just a second, and I’m really doing this more than anything else, because you know where my heart is, OK?

(APPLAUSE)

I’m really doing this to show you how damned dishonest these people are.

And then:

You know why? Because they are very dishonest people. So I said, racism is evil. Now they only choose, you know, like a half a sentence here or there and then they just go on this long rampage, or they put on these real lightweights all around a table that nobody ever heard of, and they all say what a bad guy I am. But, I mean do you ever see anything — and then you wonder why CNN is doing relatively poorly in the ratings. Because they’re putting like seven people all negative on Trump. And they fired Jeffrey Lord, poor Jeffrey. Jeffrey Lord. I guess he was getting a little fed up, and he was probably fighting back a little bit too hard. They said, we’ve better get out of here; we can’t have that.And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold true as Americans. Now let me ask you, can it be any better than that, in all fairness? And you know I mention that, but to the best of my knowledge when there was a big problem, Barack Obama never said it took place because of radical Islamic terrorists, he never said that, right.

And, finally, the full Schickelgruber:

And — and I say it, and you know, we’re all pros. We’re all, like, we have a certain sense. We’re smart people. These are truly dishonest people. And not all of them. Not all of them. You have some very good reporters. You have some very fair journalists. But for the most part, honestly, these are really, really dishonest people, and they’re bad people. And I really think they don’t like our country. I really believe that. And I don’t believe they’re going to change, and that’s why I do this. If they would change, I would never say it. The only people giving a platform to these hate groups is the media itself, and the fake news…These are sick people. You know the thing I don’t understand? You would think — you would think they’d want to make our country great again, and I honestly believe they don’t. I honestly believe it. If you want to discover the source of the division in our country, look no further than the fake news and the crooked media…

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Before we get to the other stuff, and there was lots of other stuff, I’d like to address myself to those people represented by the parenthetical notation (Applause) in the above transcript, those people who waited for hours in 105-degree heat so that they could have the G-spot of their irrationality properly stroked for them. You’re all suckers. You’re dim and you’re ignorant and you can’t even feel yourself sliding toward something that will surprise even you with its fundamental ugliness, something that everybody who can see past the veil of their emotions can see as plain as a church by daylight, to borrow a phrase from that Willie Shakespeare fella. The problem, of course, is that you, in your pathetic desire to be loved by a guy who wouldn’t have 15 seconds for you on the street, are dragging the rest of us toward that end, too.

A guy basically went mad, right there on the stage in front of you, and you cheered and booed right on cue because you’re sheep and because he directed his insanity at all the scapegoats that your favorite radio and TV personalities have been creating for you over the past three decades. Especially, I guess, people like me who practice the craft of journalism in a country that honors that craft in its most essential founding documents. The President of the United States came right up to the edge of inciting you to riot and you rode along with him. You’re on his team, by god.

Are you good people? I keep hearing that you are, but let’s go back to Tuesday night’s transcripts and see what we find:

One vote away. One vote away. We were one vote away. Think of it, seven years the Republicans — and again, you have some great senators, but we were one vote away from repealing it.

(CROWD CHANTING)

But, you know, they all said, Mr. President, your speech was so good last night, please, please, Mr. President don’t mention any names. So I won’t. I won’t. No I won’t vote — one vote away, I will not mention any names. Very presidential, isn’t’ it? Very presidential. And nobody wants me to talk about your other senator, who’s weak on borders, weak on crime, so I won’t talk about him.

Right there, in the passive-aggressive fashion of the true moral coward, he made a bobo out of a former POW who currently is undergoing treatment for what is likely a terminal brain cancer. And you chanted and cheered. Do good people chant and cheer a rhetorical assault on a dying man of respect and honor?

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I have no more patience, and I had very little to start with. I don’t care why you’re anxious. I don’t care for anybody’s interpretation of why you voted for this abomination of a politician, and why you cheer him now, because any explanation not rooted in the nastier bits of basic human spleen is worthless. I don’t want any politicians who seek to appeal to the more benign manifestations of your condition because there’s no way to separate those from all the rest of the hate and fear and stupidity. (And, for my colleagues in the Vance-Arnade-Zito school of Trump Whispering, here’s a hint: They hate you, too.) I don’t care why you sat out in a roasting pan since 5 a.m. Tuesday morning to whistle and cheer and stomp your feet for a scared, dangerous little man who tells you that your every bloody fantasy about your enemies is the height of patriotism. You are now the declared adversaries of what I do for a living, and your idol is a danger to the country and so are you. Own it. Deal with it. And, for the love of god, and for the sake of the rest of us who live in this country, do better at being citizens.

As to the rest, I might have been a little groggy, but I thought I heard him say he was going to shut down the government unless Congress gives him money for his stupid wall that Mexico was supposed to finance. I thought I heard him tell that evil racist gossoon, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, to count on a pardon down the line somewhere. And, I swear to god, I thought I heard him call the Democrats in the Congress communists.

Wait. What?

It’s all they’re good at. It’s all they’re good at. That’s all they do. On healthcare, they have 48 Democrats. We got no votes. We got no votes. And it would have been great healthcare. And by the way, would have been great healthcare for Arizona. Would have been great. So the Democrats have no ideas, no policy, no vision for the country other than total socialism and maybe, frankly, a step beyond socialism from what I’m seeing.

(BOOING)

Thought so.

(Also, note to all the Purity Police who think people like Joy Reid are “red-baiting” when they mention that Russian ratfcking helped decide the last presidential election. That bit right at the end there? That’s actual red-baiting. Please take notes. I don’t want to have to go over this again.)

It was a deadening, numbing 77 minutes. (If there’s one modern orator he most resembles, it’s Fidel Castro.) The abiding feelings that I took away from this carnival of the Id were twofold: first, that this jefe manqué is on the verge of sending people infinitely better than he is to die in a war he doesn’t understand, and second, and probably most important, this is a president* who is scared to death. He’s frightened of the responsibilities of his office, of the mounting unpopularity of both himself and his policies, and of the hounds baying at the frontiers of his shady past and shadier present. He’s terrified, and he should be. He’s desperately shoring up the bubble that his ovine followers helped him build to insulate him from the truth and from empirical reality.

Come to this house.

Be one of us.