Weather is not climate

Jan 7 2018 Letter-to-the-Editor by George Banziger, Marietta, OH
The Parkersburg News and Sentinel

The eastern portion of the U.S. is experiencing a severe cold snap. Those who deny the irrefutable pattern of scientific facts for human-induced climate change have jumped on this weather event as evidence against climate change. For example, in a characteristically sarcastic tweet Donald Trump mentioned it will be the coldest New Year’s Eve in New York, and we need some of that “good old-fashioned global warming.”

What the president and many other people fail to recognize is that weather is not climate. While weather is temporary and regional; climate involves long-term global phenomena. And the evidence for human-induced climate change is undeniable. The year 2014 was the hottest on record globally; 2015 was hotter than 2014; 2016 was hotter than 2015; and 2017 was the hottest year on record without (the temporary warming effect of) an El Nino. Sea level rises are occurring all over the world and threaten most directly and most immediately major cities along the ocean like Miami Beach. Glaciers from Greenland to the Antarctic, as well as sea ice in the Arctic Ocean, are retreating at an accelerating pace. Ocean temperatures worldwide are warming, giving rise to extreme storms such as hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria in 2017. Deforestation has created two effects — more carbon emissions from burning of trees and the elimination of trees as a “sink” for carbon dioxide. Prolonged droughts throughout the world, which are a consequence of climate change, have resulted in wildfires such as the Thomas Fire in California, and increasing desertification in Africa, Asia and Australia.

There is a 98 percent consensus among climate experts about the effect of burning fossil fuels and generating carbon emissions as the cause of these disturbing trends of climate change. Yet we have a president and an administration in Washington that refuse to recognize and act on this undeniable scientific evidence, and which has removed the U.S. from international agreements which address climate change.

One needs to do more than look out one’s back window on a cold January day to know about climate change. Once a person does recognize the importance of addressing the urgent issue of human-induced climate change, there are many actions one can take: adopting some habits and lifestyle changes to reduce carbon emissions such as grocery shopping with re-usable bags, using LED lights, installing solar panels on one’s house, place of work, or house of worship, buying a hybrid or electric vehicle, walking or bicycling to work; encouraging our public officials to adopt policies that reduce carbon emissions and that address climate change; and joining the Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action group.

George Banziger

Marietta

Man-made global warming is real and coal is dead

Jan 6 2018 Letter-to-the-Editor by non-member Allan Tweddle, Charleston
Charleston Gazette-Mail

Congratulations on the article “US releases major report,” and especially on the front page above the fold.

As one who has been trying to help West Virginia understand that climate change is quite real and, literally, life-threatening, I applaud your publishing of this very critical report where you did.

Addressing climate change is an economic opportunity. It’s the third Industrial Revolution!

Coal’s day is over. Renewable energy is now not only competitive but actually lower in cost than coal-fired power.

And contrary to the false propaganda that’s pumped out there by the fossil-fuel industry, including recently Mr. Bill Raney of the Coal Association, solar energy is reliable with the now-maturing energy systems.

Arizona power and light now has a concentrated solar power plant that is generating electricity wholesale at 3 cents per kilowatt hour, versus 5.6 cents per kilowatt hour at AEP’s John Amos.

Miners can be retrained. Solar jobs pay well.

Across North America, there are now almost three times the number of jobs in solar energy alone, compared to the entire workforce of the fossil-fuel industry, coal, oil and gas.

The devastation and cost due to climate change is going to quadruple in the next 10 years, if we do nothing, from far more intensive fires, hurricanes and rising sea levels.

It’s time to accept the reality and scientific evidence that climate change is real, man-caused and a very real-life threat to the planet.

That said, addressing climate change by embracing the job-creating opportunities should be the focus of all West Virginians, especially those of us who are grandparents.

Allan Tweddle

Charleston

Resist This Regime

December 3, 2017            Letter-to-the-Editor Submitted by Eric Engle, Parkersburg

I’m not usually one to dabble in hyperbole, but I don’t think it’s the least bit hyperbolic to say that America is being “governed” by a fascist regime.

As I write this I have just read where Trump has retweeted three anti-Islamic tweets by a notorious British fascist, Jayda Fransen, who is facing charges of religiously aggravated harassment. Trump has repeatedly used his Twitter account, with approximately 43.5 million followers, to do things like hype conspiracy sites like MagaPill, retweet a Mussolini quote, share a post from an account called @whitegenocidetm, push false and racially inflammatory crime statistics, and more.

Trump famously accused New Jersey Muslims of celebrating the 9/11 terrorist attacks; accused Muslims of knowing about in advance and deliberately not reporting the San Bernardino mass shooting; he even claimed that an American general once defeated terrorism through mass execution with bullets dipped in pigs’ blood. All of this is verifiably untrue.

But words and tweets aren’t really the problem. Trump has appointed people to the administrative state and judiciary who are dismantling our institutions, including civil liberties protections, consumer protections, labor protections, and especially environmental and public health protections. Our government is now blatantly being handed over to industry, corporations, banking and financial interests, and the wealthiest 1 percent and especially 0.01 percent of Americans.

The hallmarks of fascism are hyper-nationalism and theocracy. We’re witnessing complete sociocultural capitulation to white male “patriots” and conservative evangelical protestants, especially with the threatened repeal of the Johnson Amendment in the House version of the tax reform bill, which has been embraced by Trump since his campaign.

I love our constitution and our multicultural society where all — regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic status, religious affiliation (or lack thereof), age, or physical and mental abilities — should be able to live peacefully and thrive. As such, I humbly ask that you join me in peaceful, non-violent resistance to the Trump regime.

Eric Engle     Parkersburg

Let the market decide the nation’s best energy options

December 2 2017  Opinion column  by Jim Probst, state coordinator for WV Citizens Climate Lobby
Charleston Gazette- Mail

Thank you to Daily Mail Opinion for its Nov. 20 editorial headlined “Tariffs threaten growing solar power industry.”

In it, the Daily Mail notes “that a free market better allocates resources and helps create jobs that thrive based on economics, rather than government imposed protections. The market, rather than the government, picks winners and losers.”

The editorial goes on to say that “if the United States is to employ an ‘all of the above energy policy,’ where every form of energy is allowed to compete on its own merits, then the Trump administration should not take steps to hurt the solar industry.”

A free-market approach is exactly what Citizens Climate Lobby has been advocating for the past 10 years now. The reality is that our government has allowed, and sometimes helped, to create a playing field that provides advantages for the use of fossil fuels over renewable forms of energy.

Coal, oil, and gas are allowed to pass on to our society the external costs of their damage to our air, water, roads, mountains, and to our health and are essentially subsidized by us in the form of increased costs.

The use of fossil fuels adds cost to our society at many steps along the way, from how they are extracted, transported, burned, and how their waste is ultimately disposed of. Burning them contributes to an increase in heart disease, cancer, stroke and lung diseases with an associated increase in missed work days, hospital visits, health care costs, and premature deaths.

A Harvard University study from 2005 estimated that our use of coal adds $74.6 billion annually to our national health care costs. A study from 2015 estimates that when we account for the true costs of burning fossil fuels, gasoline would cost an additional $3.80 per gallon, diesel fuel would raise $4.80 per gallon, and burning coal would add 24 cents to the cost of a kilo-watt hour of electricity.

THANK YOU FOR TAKING A POSITIVE STAND

Nov. 18, 2017 Letters-to-the-Editor by David Ballantyne, Newport, OH
The Marietta Times

I would like to thank the Leadership of the City of Marietta for installation of Solar Panels on the roof of the Municipal Court Building at 3rd and Butler Streets, due for installation during the week of Nov. 13.  I also thank the First Unitarian Universalist Society of Marietta for expansion of their Solar Array, due for installation during the week of Nov. 27.  Similar Solar Panel installations have been made at Parkersburg High, Parkersburg South and Williamstown High; and, none of these projects cost the Building Owners anything.  They were all financed by private companies being repaid for their investment from the energy savings achieved plus from the renewable energy tax credits.  The customer saves money while “taking a positive stand.”

I’d like to thank also the fourteen states representing 36.5% of the US population who have formed the “US Climate Alliance” pledging to stay on track towards reducing their climate change inducing green-house gas emissions by 24 – 29% below 2005 levels by 2025. They pledge also to meet the reduction targets set by the Paris Climate Agreement even though the USA as a whole has withdrawn from the agreement.  Over three-hundred-fifty US Cities have pledged the same representing citizens within and beyond these fourteen states, including Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus and Oberlin in Ohio.  They are “taking a positive stand.”

News channels reported very matter-of-factly during the recent catastrophic and deadly hurricanes that storms moving across warm oceans gain wind and rain strength beyond what would have occurred had the oceans not been indeed warmer than usual to unprecedented levels.  They report similarly that air temperatures and associated winds are increased during the drought conditions which prevailed long before the advent of damaging and deadly wild fires.  This connection between these causes and effects now seem generally understood – and accepted as the new normal.

Indeed storms and fires are natural, but it is the “risk factors” (such as rising temperatures providing the energy leading to rising wind velocities) which create the conditions generating the likelihood and severity of catastrophic damage once nature triggers the inevitable.  Is mankind adding to those risk factors?  My background as an Engineer, and my interpretation of science leaves little doubt.  So above, I try to remember to say thank you when I see brave and committed people working to stand for reason and sanity as part of the solution to these man-made Climate Change inducing risk factors. Won’t you please join them?

Our Leaders Must Make Conservation a Priority

Dec. 22 2017 Letters-to-the-Editor by James Andrew Clovis, St. Marys, WV
The Marietta Times

On Dec. 4, President Trump announced he would drastically reduce two of America’s treasured National Monuments: Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante. Bears Ears contains over 100,000 historical archaeological sites. This land is considered sacred to five tribes that formed a coalition to protect it. Navajo peoples believe the buttes of Bear’s Ears to be a shrine which protects them. Can one imagine an 85 percent “reduction” of their Methodist church or Catholic Basilica?
Moreover, both monuments are home to some of our most iconic western species, such as bighorn sheep and to federally listed threatened fish. Ecologists agree that biodiversity is essential to the continued longevity of this planet. The president said the move would open up these unique public areas to energy development: Uranium mining in Bear’s Ears, while coal mining prompts the almost 50 percent reduction of Grand Escalante, an area so geologically rich that 25 dinosaur species have been discovered there and there alone.
When America already has an abundant supply of oil and natural gas, and, as West Virginians know, the coal industry is subsequently dying, racing after one resource at the expense of others is foolish and short-sighted.
The Fayette Tribune reported in 2016 that tourism to public lands in southern West Virginia alone accounted for over $64 million dollars in economic benefits. The National Parks Service estimates over $18 billion were spent near National Parks in 2016.
Nearly every modern president has used the Antiquities Act to legally set aside lands for public use. The president’s authority to rescind another president’s monument designations is being legally questioned. Lawsuits are being filed.
I’m worried that public lands in West Virginia will face similar threats. And I’m worried our Senators will listen to energy companies rather than West Virginians.
Our public lands are at the heart of what it means to be an American, our outdoor heritage at the heart of what it means to be a West Virginian, our recognition that we are not the only species that matters at the heart of what it means to be human.
We need our leaders in Washington and West Virginia to stand up for conservation of public lands.
James Andrew Clovis
St. Marys, W.Va.

Coal on the Rebound

Dec. 17 2017 Letter-to-the-Editor by Michael Ireland, Parkersburg, WV
The Parkersburg News and Sentinel

An early report shows a slight rise in West Virginia coal purchases as the holiday season begins. One analyst (me) thinks that reveals what the Friends of Coal will get in their Christmas stockings.
Michael Ireland
Parkersburg

Coal and Gas in Appalachia

Dec. 10 2017 Letters-to-the-Editor by Ron Teska, Belleville, WV
The Parkersburg News and Sentinel

We lost our spring when Consol energy plugged a gas well to longwall mine. We lost our water well due to EQT Corporation plugging a gas well. And we are not connected to the tank of chlorinated river water folks are now paying for that used to be their free ice cold crystal clear springs and wells.
Particles of dust as well as methane, toluene, etc., are emitted 24/7. I stopped at a local tavern with six people in the place and every one of them suffers from COPD.
The tanker trucks, and heavy equipment traffic on the roads that used to be dirt roads with grass growing down the middle are running people off the roads and creating accidents and making driving hazardous and toxic with diesel fumes. I talked to a neighbor and mentioned how I was getting run off the roads and he stated “Yea, they run me off the road too,” and lifted his shirt to show 30 stitches down his stomach.
Rents jumped from $200-$300 a month to $1200-$1600 a month per worker. Folks no longer can find places to live, as rental units will not rent for a low price anymore when they can get a lot of money. This appears like it is helping the local folks but in reality families are not renting to their own kin and marginal income folks are not able to stay where they have been for years due to this increase.
Heroine and opioids have infiltrated this area due to the workers and their money and situations.
A bale of straw went from $2 a bale to $16 a bale and gas prices are much higher than before or outside the work areas.
Folks that have lived here for generations are finding themselves taking $150,000 to $300,000 for their ancestral homes. I went to an auction of a 10 acre farm with a small house worth up until now about $40,000. The auctioneer started the bid at $125,000, and Consol Energy raised their hand; auction over. The couple with a baby in their arms waiting to bid on this farm near where their family lives just sadly walked away. And the owner of the farm bought a new pickup truck, went on vacation, and now lives in a camper. The house was torn down.

A local cemetery has had graves sink and the new high school has been cracked by longwall mining.
Ron Teska
Belleville

Lets Move Forward

Dec. 3 2017 Letters-to-the-Editor by Judith Peascoe, Vienna, WV
The Parkersburg News and Sentinel

At the time the implementation of the Clean Power Plan is being debated and comments are being taken in Charleston, W.Va., regulators are debating the purchase of the Pleasants County coal-fired power plant.
In his News and Sentinel Letter to the Editor on Sept. 10, Jody Murphy, Executive Director of the Pleasants Area Chamber of Commerce, expresses his willingness to subsidize the purchase and operation of the Pleasants County power plant financially by paying an extra $5 a month to preserve the power-plant jobs.
Unfortunately, the plant’s technology is obsolete. It does not have the latest technology to prevent pollutants from spewing into the air–pollutants which cause susceptible people, especially children, to have asthma attacks. It produces waste contaminated with heavy metals that may not be properly and permanently contained.
Governor Justice has acknowledged that coal-fired plants are not competitive economically by asking for a federal subsidy for power plants purchasing coal. In addition, the West Virginia legislature and the federal government have weakened the Clean Water Acts to allow more toxic waste to be discharged into water flows. This is an open acknowledgment that coal-fired power plants should be phased out. In addition the Mid-Ohio Valley is noted for its health-damaging air quality.
Difficult times require novel solutions. My husband grew up in Los Angelos. Thirty-five years ago, California was faced with limited water supplies, horrible air quality and the need for more power. Rather than build new power plants the utilities and the state offered consumers inducements to conserve energy. The reduction in energy use meant that the utilities didn’t have to build new power plants. California is actively supporting renewable energy installations such as roof-top solar installations, wind farms, and solar farms, biomass, and hydro. This work provided jobs. Pollution was reduced. The air became cleaner. Recent reports tell us that solar and wind technology is now competitive in price with nuclear and coal power plants.
I would rather pay that extra five dollars on my utility bill to subsidize a plan of energy conservation, job retraining, reduced pollution and renewable energy generation than to subsidize an obsolete coal fired plant that First Energy wants to get rid of. That plant is no bargain for West Virginians.
Judith Peascoe

Clean Power Plan

Letter from Don Lowe in Sun. 19 Nov. N&S:

Speak out on Clean Power Plan
19 Nov 2017 — The Parkersburg News And Sentinel
On Nov. 28 and 29, the U.S. EPA will hold a public hearing in Charleston for input regarding Trump’s repeal of the Clean Power Plan to fulfill his misguided, stupid, and harmful campaign promise to encourage coal fired power plants. This is the only public hearing the EPA will hold – and right in the heart of coal country! What does that tell you? They are expecting overwhelming, albeit selfishly motivated, public support for their potentially disastrous plan. Apparently one Texas, Gulf Coast, and Puerto Rican disaster and expense hasn’t been enough. Remember, these are your tax dollars.

While some may think it admirable that the EPA is showing concern for miners welfare, they (miners) only constitute about 2 percent of West Virginia’s population. What about the welfare of the other 98 percent, and the rest of the planet? Public participation is vitally important to hopefully overwhelm the coal company’s lobbyists that will surely be there. To speak at the hearing you must pre-register by calling 1-888-627-7764. Show the EPA that your grandchildren’s welfare trumps lining the pockets of a few coal company executives.

Don Lowe

Vienna

“Speak out on Clean Power Plan” The Parkersburg News And Sentinel 19 Nov 2017: A5