January 29, 2018
A roundup of the day’s headlines.
“The worst scenario for an asthmatic would be winter in Texas,” said Dr. Erika Gonzalez-Reyes, an asthma and allergen specialist who has practiced in San Antonio since 2006. “You’ve got cold air, you’ve got the mountain cedar out, and those act as very potent triggers.” But even though allergens are the top asthma trigger in San Antonio, we can’t stop the mountain ceder pollen. As explained here, what we can shut down heavy polluters and shift away from a car-centric lifestyle.
All new buildings within Houston city limits and outside of Houston’s floodplain must be constructed two feet above ground, according to the city’s first flood-related building codes since Hurricane Harvey devastated the city in August. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said structures within the 500-year floodplain should be built two feet above the estimated 500-year flood levels and developers would be on the hook for more stormwater detention sites.
In Texas, Charlie Hemmeline, executive director of the Texas Solar Power Association, put a sunny face forward. “It’s a setback for solar in Texas but we’re still very optimistic that the industry will still continue to grow,” he said. “In the near term this may lower demand as prices are forced up, which has a potentially negative impact in terms of investment and jobs.” … Elsewhere, there was solar industry meltdown, including the immediate cancellation of a $20M solar expansion project.
White nationalist and racist flyers have been spread across Texas college campuses since 2016. It all started with a high school kid from North Texas: Coppell native Thomas Rousseau. “Carla Hill, senior researcher for the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), said her organization has tracked 59 instances in Texas of racist propaganda — the majority associated with Patriot Front and American Vanguard — in Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, San Marcos, Tyler, Wichita Falls and other cities since Trump was elected. She said more incidents have been reported at Texas State than any other campus in the state.”
“Basically, a healthy environment needs bees — but not honeybees.” … But one apparently beneficial use (for African farmers), is keeping bee hives as an elephant deterrent.
The number of emission factors used by the EPA stands at 22,693. The agency itself admits most are unreliable: It rates about 62 percent as “below average” or “poor.” Nearly 22 percent aren’t rated at all. About 17 percent earned grades of “average” or better, and only one in six has ever been updated. There is a slew of common problems, such as poor accounting for emissions from aging equipment. …
The unreliability of the numbers has been flagged over a period of decades by the EPA’s own internal watchdog and other government auditors. “This is what tells you what’s being put in the air and what you’re breathing,” says Eric Schaeffer, former head of civil enforcement at the EPA and now executive director of the Environmental Integrity Project, an advocacy group. “You don’t want those numbers to be wrong.”
2017 may have /only/ been the third hottest year on record (since record keeping began in the 1880s), but for the oceans it was the hottest yet (since record keeping began in the 1950s). Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences found this all part of a “long-term warming trend driven by human activities.” The Atlantic and Antarctic Oceans, they found, experienced the most warming. Forecast? More coral bleaching, falling oxygen levels, ice melt, and sea-level rise. Pretty much just like you thought.
“Oxfam’s new Reward Work, Not Wealth report reveals that the world’s wealthiest 1% got 82% of the wealth generated in 2017, while the bottom 50% saw no increase at all! … The world’s 500 richest, according to Bloomberg Billionaires Index, became US$1 trillion richer during 2017, “more than four times” the gain in 2016, as their wealth increased by 23%, taking their combined fortunes to US$5.3 trillion” … And it just gets worse from there.
While Trump’s anti-science, pro-coal coalition is cited, so is the hope found in the people’s movement “We’re Still In.” Proud of the wonderful compassionate and committed San Antonians who demanded climate action last summer, for Mayor Ron Nirenberg declaring our solidarity with the international Paris Agreement in the face of Trump’s ecocidal frothing. … From the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: “US citizens should demand, in all legal ways, climate action from their government. Climate change is a real and serious threat to humanity. Citizens should insist that their governments acknowledge it and act accordingly.”