At least 83 protestors, including women and children, have now been killed in Iran since the beating death of Mahsa Amini by the regime’s morality police. The protests, led by women, continue and will be joined world-wide on Saturday.
The Biden administration would do well not to renew the nuclear treaty with this brutal regime, releasing billions of frozen funds as a payoff for Iran’s signing the treaty. Doing such only advances Iranian repression and exporting of terrorism abroad.
While protests do matter, what hurts regimes like Iran most are freezing their assets and sanctioning trade.
The so-called Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 promises much, but better read the fine print in this massive 700 page proposal.
A patchwork compromise with coal baron Senator Joe Manchin, its motivation is the Democratic Party leadership’s desperate need for a legislative victory in addressing escalating inflation, the primary concern of American voters, as the mid-term elections loom. Thus the bill’s name. (The previous version was called Build Back Better).
With close analysis, you’ll discover it isn’t up to the hype. While an unprecedented $369bn is dedicated to mitigating climate change, it locks in reliance on fossil fuel expansion by hamstringing the Interior Department: no renewable energy development on public lands unless drilling leases are also offered to oil and gas entities.
As such, this bill is pure political charade. Fossil fuels cause climate change, yet they’re locked into the bill’s provisions. There is no mechanism to phase them out.
What we get is the loosening of regulations regarding environmental review and, horribly, mandated drilling leases in Alaska’s Cook Inlet and the Gulf of Mexico. The result? More pipelines, oil leaks, methane leaks, wilderness lost, species endangered, and continuing temperature rise. In 2016, the U.S. averaged one crude oil spill every other day (undark.org).
There are no caps on carbon admissions!
While the legislation features tax credits for carbon capture and sequestration, the fallout is that this could extend the life of polluting coal plants, exposing the public to toxic fumes, and making it difficult to achieve clean power goals.
Not talked about is an ominous separate agreement to move a bill in September that could potentially weaken protections under the Environmental Policy Act, which grants communities a say in what happens to their local environment. This is subterfuge, pure and simple.
You’re told the legislation will reduce greenhouse gas admissions 40% by 2030 (Rhodium Group, rpg.com). Considering the pressing problems we have with securing energy resources, it’s dangerously possible that fossil fuels will gain the upper hand over renewables, upsetting any trajectory of even-handedness. As is, the Biden administration in early July held its first onshore lease auction, releasing a proposed plan for off shore drilling, despite Biden’s campaign pledge to cease new oil and gas development on federal lands and waters (insideclimatenews.org).
In short, the Inflation Reduction Act takes back what it gives out, a Faustian wager that forfeits the future for a short-sighted political shell game in the present.
I’m not saying there aren’t good things in the bill. And, yes, there are groups like Nature Conservancy, the Sierra Club, and Earth Justice, urging speedy passage of the legislation. They may be willing to drink the Kool-Aid, but not me, nor should you.
I go by the late E. O. Wilson, “Darwin’s heir,” my icon in environmental matters, who repeatedly denounced such organizations for their compromises, perpetuating environmental demise. They’ve thrown in the towel, their credo, Nature is already gone. We live in the Anthropocene. Wilderness must serve human needs (Wilson, Half–Earth: OurPlanet’sFightforLife).
This is a climate suicide pact,” comments Brett Hartl, government affairs director for the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD). “It’s self-defeating to handcuff renewable energy development to massive new oil and gas extraction.”
Britain is experiencing an unprecedented heat wave today, with temperatures soaring to 104F over much of England. Scientists are apprehensive, their future model scenarios occurring faster than anticipated.
Meanwhile, we continue our dependency on fossil fuels, our president begging Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, yes, the same guy our intelligence names as ordering the killing of Washington Post Saudi critic, Jamal Khashoggi, to increase oil output.
Widespread reports have it that Biden is proposing to open up Alaska’s North Slope wilderness to drilling, despite the Interior Department’s initial draft supplemental impact statement, projecting a thirty year time bomb release of 284 metric tons of carbon into the atmosphere.
Under the proposal, ConocoPhillips would obtain drilling rights to five federal land sites, along with a processing facility, pipelines to transport oil, gravel roads, and at least one airstrip and a gravel mine site, according to the draft EIS.
The fallout would be consequential to wildlife as well, threatening caribou, polar bears and migratory birds.
Ominously, the Arctic and Antartica, which help cool the earth by reflecting sunlight back into space, are melting faster than other earth regions. Hence, the heat waves increasingly scorching the Earth. The proposal only increases the speed of melting ice, resulting in rising seas, release of methane, and alteration of sea currents such as the Gulf Stream
As I write, Alaska has been burning faster than in the last 80 years, with 500 fires since April of this year, the consequence of rising temperatures, increased vapor with accompanying lightning strikes, and accumulating kindle. 264 fires are currently burning across the state.
While I’m ashamed of Biden’s betrayal of his campaign pledges, what bothers me most is the public’s myopic indulgence to pursue life in a bubble, ignoring the ominous natural signatures to our coming doom.
Unless we amend our ways, our children will have no meaningful future. —rj
Across the country, even globally, the mad rush is on by politicians to indulge the public mood and eliminate COVID restrictions. I think it a mistake and that it comes too soon.
At home, nearly a million Americans have perished and our medical grid buckles as COVID patients, the vast majority unvaccinated, take up hospital beds. Meanwhile, many needing cancer screening, surgery or follow-up are turned aside. New research reveals its devastating consequences.
Long term COVID can be dehabilitating, even for those vaccinated. Recently, I had conversation with a man from Louisville, a home physical therapist. He shared he had come down with the virus six months ago, was placed on a ventilator, then developed pneumonia. He still doesn’t feel right. He’s married with four children and just 29. He told me—I didn’t need convincing—that he’d not be here at, all had he not been vaccinated.
Yes, omicron infections have been plummeting, but they still highly exceed the number of infections before the Delta impact, then averaging between 12,000 and 16,000 daily cases. In contrast, “the U. S. daily average of cases and hospitalizations on 16 February was about 124,000 and 81,000” (NYT).
As Vanderbilt University School of Medicine infectious disease expert William Schaffner cautions, “Some governors think we are almost there – they are dropping mask mandates – and my response is: good luck to you. My fingers are crossed on your behalf.”
I believe strongly in Biden’s mandates to ensure public safety, sadly thwarted by the courts under the auspices of the First Amendment and public non-compliance. Good government that seeks the welfare of its citizens fulfills government’s proper role without nullifying the tenets of our Constitution.
Observing COVID protocol is not a personal choice. It’s a necessity.