Trump, other pollutants are making life literally difficult

Posted by Tom Camfield

“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”—Mark 8:36

Seems many seeking political advantage and veneration these days freely toss out perfunctory conceptions of the principles upon which our democracy was founded. Some—like, say, certain Donald Trump supporters—readily grasp at any feckless wind-blown straw that seems useful to the house of straw the lot of them are building. Republicans are well-known for fabricating quotes for convenience. Vice-President Mike Pence, for instance, last fall countered certain concerns (about people with preexisting conditions losing their access to affordable health care insurance) by saying “Thomas Jefferson said, ‘Government that governs least, governs best’.”

Thomas Jefferson never actually uttered those words. I’ve had the same quote, erroneously attributed to Jefferson, thrown at me by one of my blog trolls.

Just saying . . . I personally do like to tie actual history back to the days of our founding fathers rather than tailoring their motivations out of the blue for personal convenience. Take this comment: Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790). “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”—First Amendment to the U. S. Constitution, 1789. “These are the times that try men’s souls.”—Tom Paine, 1776

I also like to quote knowledgeable present-day writers, professional journalists—such as Danny Westneat of The Seattle Times. His column of Aug. 22 began: “What seems to most trigger the lizard brain of our president is any chance to mock the liberals. So it should be no surprise, I suppose, that he picked August of all months to roll out his ‘let’s fry the planet’ policies.”

See: https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/the-northwests-answer-to-trumps-gas-guzzling-is-great-again/

Westneat continued: “Amid record heat around the world, we’ve seen proposals to roll back fuel-efficiency standards, unshackle air-fouling coal plants and — the Trumpiest one of them all — to declare that even conserving oil is now passé. 'Gas guzzling is okay again, says Trump administration.' No, that headline was not in The Onion, but The Detroit News, home to the U.S. auto industry.” The Seattle Times’ headline that day read, “Trump: No economic need to conserve on oil use.”

In his arguments for coal-burning over renewable energy sources, Trump stated during one of his self-promotional rallies, “ . . . you need subsidy for windmills . . . Who wants to have energy where you need subsidy?” Conveniently ignoring the fact that fossil fuels are subsidized too, Westneat noted—and they also are finite [and could well be depleted in the lifetime of my great grandchildren], unlike the wind, which will blow forever. 

As Donald raved in his unique and disconnected way about coal being “indestructible,” no mention was made of the effect of its burning on Global Warming—along with its downwind pollution—and the destruction of human life connected thereto.

Here’s an interesting statistic: In 2014 wind energy produced 42.7% of Denmark's net electricity generation, the largest share from any source and larger than non-renewable generated electricity. Biofuels (wood, straw and biogas) and the biodegradable part of waste provided the next largest RE source at 12.7% of national generation. Here in the U.S.,the three major fossil fuels—petroleum, natural gas and coal—accounted for about 77.6% of the country’s primary energy production in 2017. That included natural gas 31.8%, petroleum 28.0%, coal 17.8%, plus renewable energy 12.7%, nuclear electric power 9.6%.

The morning after Trump’s “gas guzzling is great again” story made the news, Westneat noted that Republican stronghold Spokane passed an ordinance calling for that city of 215,000 to be powered by 100% renewable energy by the year 2030. (Presently 45% comes from natural gas and coal.) At present, surprisingly, the top five states most independent on wind energy are Republican ones; Kansas gets 36% of its energy from windmills.

Associated Press reported Aug. 20: “WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Trump administration is set to roll back the centerpiece of President Barack Obama's efforts to slow global warming, the Clean Power Plan that restricts greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants.

A plan to be announced in coming days would give states broad authority to determine how to restrict carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. The plan by the Environmental Protection Agency also would let states relax pollution rules for power plants that need upgrades, according to a summary of the plan and several people familiar with the full proposal who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss the plan publicly.”

Another story Aug. 22 noted: “HealthDay News — The Trump administration's plan to relax pollution rules for coal-fired power plants will increase carbon emissions and cause up to 1,400 premature deaths a year, according to details released Tuesday. The new plan issued by the Environmental Protection Agency is meant to replace the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan, which sought to speed up closures of coal-burning plants and promote cleaner energy sources such as solar and wind, The New York Times reported.” (Donald’s recent arguments for coal burning over wind power included his observation that windmills kill birds. So we might ponder over how many sparrows a human life is worth, I guess. And Donald’s sudden concern for wildlife is totally out of character, considering such things as his assault on the Endangered Species Act.)

The Guardian, Aug. 19: “Conserving oil is no longer an economic imperative for the US, the Trump administration has declared in a major new policy statement that threatens to undermine decades of government campaigns for efficient cars and other conservation programs. One analyst critical of the move said it was like saying: ‘I’m a big old fat guy, and food prices have dropped – it’s time to start eating again’.” He added: ‘There’s a downside to living large.'

“The position [on unrestrained oil usage] was outlined in a memo released last month, without fanfare and in support of the administration’s proposal to relax fuel mileage standards. Growth of natural gas and other alternatives to petroleum has reduced the need for imported oil, which ’in turn affects the need of the nation to conserve energy,’ the US energy department said. It also cited fracking, which has unlocked shale oil reserves, for giving ‘the United States more flexibility than in the past to use our oil resources with less concern.’

“The administration is formally challenging old justifications for conservation – even congressionally prescribed ones such as mileage standards . . .

“The memo made no mention of climate change. Transportation is the single largest source of climate-changing emissions. Donald Trump has questioned the existence of climate change, embraced the notion of ‘energy dominance’ and called for easing what he calls burdensome regulation of oil, gas and coal, including repealing the Obama Clean Power Plan.”

That word “dominance” is so appropriate to the psyche of Donald Trump. “Energy independence” would have described things nicely—but that would not have intimated self-assumed power over the world.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK—Attorney Generally Jeff Sessions, in response to nasty criticism from Donald Trump: “While I am attorney general, the actions of the Department of Justice will not be improperly influenced by political considerations.”

A LITTLE SOMETHING EXTRA—Tweet by Bernie Sanders back on June 22: “Trump tells his every day how much he hates immigrants and how much he loves American workers. But last year, Trump chose to hire only one American worker even though thousands of Americans wanted to work at his Mar-a-lago resort. The rest are low-wage temporary guest workers.”

STRAY NEWS BIT—Four of five Black cheerleaders who knelt last year during “The Star-Spangled Banner” to protest police brutality didn’t make the squad this year for Kenneshaw State in Georgia. The cheerleader protest last year caused an uproar at the university, when KSU changed its rules after the first protest, keeping all cheerleaders in the tunnel during the anthem. 

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