Saturday, January 31, 2015

Mitt, we hardly knew ye

Mitt Romney tested the waters and found them too cold for his liking, so he announced that he is not running for President.

According to the front page article in today’s Times, Republican leaders are in an “impatient” mood.  “They are eager to turn to a new face they believe can defeat what they anticipate will be a strong, well-funded Democratic opponent....”  

Guess who is one of the new faces mentioned?

Jeb Bush.  

I am NOT making this up.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Bats in the Courthouse

Last night I posted an item about how the Carbon County Commissioners were working together to oppose the PennEast pipeline.

Another portion of the Commissioners’ meeting also gave me hope.  In the public comment period, Gene Nalesnik of Jim Thorpe brought up the issue of the bats that are living in the Courthouse.  A program is underway to shut the bats out.  As someone who once had bats in the attic and still has them in the shed, I know what a mess they can make, and I understand the desire to move them out.

Mr. Nalesnik was afraid that the bats, especially nursing maternal bats, would be killed.  Each of the three Commissioners assured Mr. Nalesnik that the bats would be excluded, but the program would not harm any bats or baby bats.

Think back to about 25 years ago.  Few people would have given any thought to killing bats.  They would have been regarded as pests to be exterminated.  We are making progress.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Carbon County Commissioners pass resolution opposing PennEast Pipeline

This morning I attended a meeting of the Carbon County Commissioners.  The Commissioners include two Republicans (Nothstein and Gerhard) and one Democrat (O’Gurek), but the resolution opposing the PennEast pipeline passed unanimously to the applause of the audience.  That’s so refreshing--Republicans and Democrats working together on a common issue.

Not only did the Commissioners oppose the tracking gas pipeline as bad for Carbon County, but they also agreed to attend the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission meeting to be held at Penn’s Peak on Feb. 11 at 6 p.m.  They plan to present the case to FERC on why the pipeline is bad for Carbon County.

While I don’t agree with everything the Commissioners do, I thought this was a brave act to go against the wishes of a multi-billion dollar company.  I’m proud of our Commissioners and their stand.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Jim Zbick, again

Elderhostel is an educational program for seniors who want to learn while on vacation.  I taught a number of Elderhostel classes in the San Francisco Bay Area; the “students” are often retired professionals, and the classes were always fun.

One of the subjects I taught was U.S. Environmental Policy.  The first night I asked students to list the most important environmental problem facing the U.S..  The majority listed litter.  I explained to them that while litter is an unsightly problem which does have serious ramifications, it doesn’t reach the level of climate change, desertification, overpopulation, or air and water pollution.

Which brings me to my favorite whipping boy, Jim Zbick, an “opinion” columnist for the Times News, who on almost any topic can be counted on to miss the main point.

Today he attacked the Economic Conference in Davos for wasting airplane fuel, and then went on to attack the climate march in New York last September for the amount of litter participants created.  He also managed to slam Al Gore and, believe it or not, Earth Day.

It’s an old tactic in debates.  Bring up something completely irrelevant to the issue at hand.  Surely the Times News can do better than Zbick.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Stop the Fracking Pipeline

Approximately 45 people met in the former Flow Restaurant in Jim Thorpe to hear talks by Maya VanRossum, the Executive Director of Delaware Riverkeepers, and Sam Koplinka-Loehr, the Shale Gas Organizer of the Clean Air Council.

The overwhelming majority of the people in the audience were opposed to the PennEast pipeline, which, if the present route is approved, will slice through Kidder, Penn Forest, Towamensing, and Lower Towamensing Townships, ripping through three state parks--Hickory Run, Lehigh Gorge, and Beltzville.

The pipeline project, bringing fracking gas to the coast, where it can be shipped overseas, will cost about a billion dollars.  The 45 people in the room can’t match that.  Neither can the ospreys, the bog turtles, and the Indiana bats whose habitats will be impacted.  It is David vs. Goliath again.  

If you don’t remember your Bible, David won.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Pigging out

I thought you might be interested in what visitors to the Pennsylvania Farm
Show consume in a week.  14.000 gallons of milk are needed to make the milkshakes visitors drink.  They also consume 17,500 pounds of donut mix, 6000 pounds of shortening, 480 pounds of prime rib, 975 pounds of chip steak, 10,000 pounds of pulled pork, 6000 pounds of bacon (that’s 3 tons of bacon), 450 gallons of maple syrup, two tons of honey, and 600 gallons of honey ice cream.


This information is from the Jan./Feb. issue of “Rural Perspectives,” published by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, a legislative agency of the Pennsylvania General Assembly.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Chinese environmentalists

In some ways that is almost an oxymoron.  I’m reading a book by Peter Hessler entitled River Town that details his life in the remote city of Fuling on the Yangtze River during the time when the Three Gorges Dam was being built.  Even though part of Fuling would be flooded along with thousands of historic buildings and villages, in addition to the probable extinction of Chinese river dolphins (which has since happened), Hessler never heard a single complaint about the dam.

Why are elephants being slaughtered in Africa?  For the ivory shipped to China.  Why is the tiger population in Myanmar probably fewer than 70?  So Chinese guys can eat the tiger parts in a mistaken belief that it will cure “erectile dysfunction.”  

On the other hand, China’s one-child-per-couple policy is a major reason the world’s population increase is leveling off.  China’s agreement with the Obama administration to reduce emissions should help to slow global warming.  (Unless the Republicans in Congress manage to overturn it.)  Chinese people are obviously capable of learning from mistakes.

It’s almost a race.  Will the Chinese people embrace environmental values before it’s too late?  Incidentally, the same thing can be said about Americans.