We Will Gain Nothing from This

We open the month of June to Donald Trump in the Rose Garden announcing his decision that the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. Though it comes as no surprise from a man who believes that global warming is a hoax created by the Chinese, it a deeply selfish and unpopular gamble that will hurt everyone and benefit no one. No matter who you are, where you are, and what you believe in, this egregious decision will have very negative impact on you and children. At a time we can’t afford to ignore a global crisis of our own making, Trump has gambled away our futures, our health, our prosperity, and our lives. Furthermore, he has severely damaged America’s image and credibility at home and abroad. Trump’s reckless decision to pull out is a moral outrage and insult to future generations. And it poses a catastrophe for our planet, economy, and reputation around the globe.

Despite what the right-wing skeptics may claim, the threat of global warming is very real, is caused by humans, and poses devastating consequences for the planet and possibly all life on earth as we know it. Although there are some aspects of climate change we don’t understand, 97% of all climate scientists acknowledge its existence and there is overwhelming evidence that carbon emissions are changing the earth’s climate for the worse. Climate change has already unleashed disruption on the world’s ecosystems and human communities. Effects consist of rising sea levels, excessive droughts, desertification, frequent flooding, stronger storms, unpredictable weather, disease outbreaks, famines, ocean acidification, melting ice caps, extreme weather, mass extinction, habitat destruction, and other devastation. For many parts of the world, climate change can result in scarce resources, more widespread poverty, displacement, economic instability, and full out wars. Island nations are in critical danger of being totally underwater. And it will be the world’s poorest who suffer the most. There’s never been a more imminent time to act before it’s too late. Yet, we must acknowledge that the damage is already done in some places of the world. Withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord doesn’t excuse our responsibility for the planet. Nor does it relieve us from global warming’s catastrophic consequences. Climate change isn’t a political issue catering to special interests. It’s a moral issue and a matter of life or death.

The Paris Climate Accord is a 31-page nonbinding agreement that was hammered out over weeks of tense negotiations in a December 2015. Its purpose is to create a culture of accountability to get countries take unspecified steps in fighting climate change. The backbone of this agreement is keeping global average temperatures from rising 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. Beyond 2 degrees, we risk dramatic higher seas, changes in weather patterns, food and water crises, and an overall more hostile world. Though critics argue that the 2-degree mark is arbitrary, or even too low to make a difference, the goal is a starting point that before Paris, the world was on track to wildly miss. To accomplish this, the accord states that countries should strive to reach “peak emissions” as soon as possible. The agreement doesn’t detail exactly how these countries should do so. But it does provide a framework for getting momentum going on greenhouse gas reduction with some oversight and accountability. Another precept is that richer countries would send $100 billion in aid to poorer countries by 2020 with the amount increasing over time. Nevertheless, it’s an agreement with near-universal support from around the world.

Donald Trump’s decision to for US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord spells absolute catastrophe for the planet. He may have claimed that the agreement was unfair to the United States. He may have stated it was to protect America and its citizens. And I’m sure he probably cited such an agreement made us look weak, takes jobs away, and whatever else. However, for the US to leave the Paris Climate Accord carries nothing but disastrous implications for everyone. As the world’s largest economy and second-largest CO2 emitter, US cooperation with Paris is vital to convincing other countries to make a serious effort to meet their targets. The Obama administration understood this for they played a major role in writing the Paris agreement’s original text and shaping it such that its terms were acceptable for American interests. To pull out suggests that the US doesn’t care about climate change anymore or about the potential catastrophic consequences for the planet. Yet, it also sends a broader signal that the US considers its obligations as optional and that US leadership can no longer be trusted to honor agreements on issues of vital concern for other countries. Even when it helps set the terms for the agreement itself. America’s global strategy depends on other countries trusting the US to abide closely enough to its on-paper agreements so it won’t pose a threat to them. And for better or worse, this strategy has been in force since World War II. The US has made major commitments to other countries to agree on a certain set of rules tackling the shared crisis of climate change. But the Trump administration has decided to quit those rules and simply do whatever it wants. What’s to say that the US won’t do the same thing again on something else like abandon a NATO ally or ignore an unfavorable WTO ruling? Not to mention, what if the other countries see that the US isn’t trying? Will they abandon their commitments, too? Because the Paris Accord can’t be effective without US participation.

Trump often describes his foreign policy as “America First” and had warned against “the false song of globalism” in his most comprehensive campaign speech on the matter. Sure the Paris Climate Accord is certainly globalism but climate change is a global crisis of epic proportions. But at the same time, an international commitment to fight climate change is perfectly within US interests. Now Trump is actively hostile to the international political order and every little thing he does to signal lack of interest matters. He has repeatedly questioned NATO and refused to commit defending these allies at the organization’s recent summit. He also declared the WTO as a “disaster” and his advisers prepared a report proposing to simply ignore its unfavorable rulings. By quitting an international agreement on a serious global problem, Trump has further and severely undermined global trust in US leadership and its standing on negotiating a wide range of issues. And it doesn’t help that German Chancellor Angela Merkel specifically cited that her chats with Trump on climate change as a reason that Germany couldn’t rely on the US anymore. Nevertheless, consequences of recklessly disregarding allied opinion and international institutions may not be felt tomorrow. But in the long-term, Trump’s decisions can permanently undermine American power’s core foundations. Eventually, other countries may put less faith in US-led institutions as well as seek structures and alliances that don’t depend on US cooperation. This would by necessity limit US influence over the world’s major powers as professor Paul Musgrave calls it, “hegemonic suicide.” Thus, any further actions Trump does like quitting the Paris agreement, the weaker the US gets in the long run.

Yet, quitting the Paris Climate Accord isn’t putting “America First” either. The effects of climate change may be more catastrophic in Third World countries. But the United States has also experienced it firsthand. Today, few years go by when average global temperatures aren’t the highest on record. Coastal areas of the nation have been ravaged by stronger and more devastating hurricanes. In the west, and wildfires in Texas, California, and a few other states have scorched homes to a cinder during the summer. California and the Southwest have also endured droughts which dried up major waterways. Heavy rains can bring upon terrible floods along the Mississippi River during the spring. The Midwest and the Northeast have also experienced serious snowstorms and sub-zero temperatures during the winter thanks to the Polar Vortex. Melting Arctic ice caps and rising temperatures have disrupted Alaskan wildlife and communities. Hawaii is ever more prone to rising sea levels that could put it underwater while Florida can also suffer the same fate. And in the heartland, Americans are especially prone to more destructive tornadoes plowing through their towns. That’s not even counting all the disease outbreaks, wildlife devastation, and the like. Even in the United States, there is overwhelming evidence of climate change at work and its negative impact. There is no wonder that a majority of Americans now believe that climate change is real and that the federal government should regulate greenhouse gas emissions. Major corporations including fossil fuel companies begged Trump to stay in the Paris Climate Accord. Not to mention, there was no majority of Americans who supported pulling out of Paris in any part of the country.

Of course, Trump isn’t alone to blame in quitting the Paris Climate Accord. Though some press coverage portrays his decision driven by either Steve Bannon’s policy agenda or his own idiosyncrasies, it misses the big picture almost entirely. For years, the Republican Party has adopted a rock-solid, widespread consensus opposing any serious action aimed at the United States reducing carbon emissions, which has become the bedrock of belief in the modern GOP. And in practice their influence has indefinitely crippled much effective action on combating the problem. According to a 2016 Pew Research study, only 23% of Republican voters believed that humans were responsible for global warming. Though we can’t know if any other Republican president elected in 2016 would’ve withdrawn from Paris, many institutional actors within the GOP and conservative movement strongly support this move and have urged Trump to make it. These include members of Congress (including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell), think tanks, activist groups, media outlets, and conservative donors (including many with fossil fuel wealth). Even leading Republicans who might’ve supported sticking to the deal, would’ve also backed weakening environmental regulations and taken little if any action aimed at reducing carbon emissions. Nonetheless, while talking points differ, today’s GOP simply doesn’t believe climate change is a serious problem. Some may the very idea is a liberal hoax or that humans are causing the planet to warm at all. Some may acknowledge that the science is real, but argue that even if it’s accurate the consequences may not be so bad or that action is simply too costly. But beyond a few notable exceptions, most Republicans agree that addressing climate change shouldn’t be anywhere near the top in their political agenda. And those Republican politicians who conclude that the scientific consensus on climate change is accurate and tries to work with Democrats on the issue gets slammed by passionate and well-organized conservative groups and can face serious pressure from the right. We must acknowledge the reality that one of the US’s 2 major political parties is institutionally committed at nearly every level to the same basic agenda of environmental deregulation and inaction on carbon emissions. Thus, Trump’s decision to ditch the Paris deal isn’t an odd outlier but rests on that anti-environmental foundation. As long as the Republican Party embraces anti-environmental ideas like denying climate change, inaction will only continue.

As our human civilization taxes the planet, we have a shared responsibility to take care of it. This may mean we’ll have to adapt to new technologies to ensure a sustainable future. But if we don’t act now, future generations will live with the consequences. Trump’s decision to withdraw the US from the Paris climate agreement is as unwise as it is immoral as well as sends a cruel signal to the world that America doesn’t care about environmental values. Furthermore, undermines years of research and activism that made it possible. Failure to act will not only prove catastrophic for the environment, but to make us more prone to economic devastation and civil unrest. Ecosystems could be wiped out. New diseases can wreak havoc on communities. Island nations can disappear beneath the sea. Wars can break out between factions. People can be displaced due to famine, drought, or starvation. Severe storms can destroy entire communities and economies overnight. Those who oppose environmental protection often state that it cost jobs, contributes to big government, or undermines economic prosperity. Yet, whether we like it or not, we all depend on the Earth’s resources to survive and thrive. And pulling out of the Paris deal won’t bring any coal or manufacturing jobs back. Nor will it benefit the United States in anyway. Besides, there are more important things in this world than economic gain. Our planet’s health and well-being should be one of them. And as far as we know, Earth is the only planet that can support life to our liking. Not to mention, Corporate America increasingly sees climate change as a serious threat, so why shouldn’t Trump and the Republican Party? Today to deny climate change as the global crisis for our time for whatever reason can only mean further inaction, especially if conservatives remain stuck in their anti-environmental ways. Inaction only exacerbates the problem which will lead to widespread destruction. To deny climate change even if you’re a Republican is utterly inexcusable. Now more than ever we need to stand together and fight against Trump administration’s climate change skepticism and anti-environmental policies. Because combating global warming isn’t a mere political issue embraced by liberals but a moral imperative that future generations depend on. If we want to secure a bright future for our children, then the time to act is now. The United States and the world have absolutely nothing to gain from withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord but everyone in the world has practically everything to lose.

The Pervasive Myths That Prevent Climate Change Action

scientists-clues-print

One of the biggest threats to humanity and the planet is a manmade phenomenon called climate change. For the last several decades, greenhouse gases have become trapped in the earth’s atmosphere which have led to rising temperatures, rising sea levels, extreme weather, melting ice sheets and glaciers, and ocean acidification. And in many ways the effects of climate changes can be catastrophic not just for the environment but for people as well. The threat of climate change may seem like a new thing to many. However, as with a lot of scientific notions, scientists have been discussing the idea for decades. In fact, on Youtube there’s a documentary called The Unchained Goddess which was produced by Frank Capra who ironically was a Republican. Nevertheless, over the years climate scientists have come to a consensus on climate change as real, as happening, as manmade, and as a problem. However, there are still skeptics among the masses who not only believe climate change doesn’t exist, but use resources in order to stop climate change policy from becoming a reality. Unfortunately, these people are the Koch Brothers, industrialists, energy companies, and other major polluters who contribute millions of dollars to Republican party candidates who just happen to control the House and the Senate. Well, as far as the US goes. Still, if my US Congressman doesn’t see climate change as real, happening, and a problem, then I have a problem with that regardless of party affiliation. Here I present to you some of the most pervasive myths about climate change as well as the truths they mask.

 

While not all Republicans deny climate change, climate deniers make the majority of Republican congressmen who now control the House and the Senate. And a lot of them have received campaign contributions from dirty energy companies. So yes, climate change denial pays big time. And that's a problem.

While not all Republicans deny climate change, climate deniers make the majority of Republican congressmen who now control the House and the Senate. And a lot of them have received campaign contributions from dirty energy companies. So yes, climate change denial pays big time. And that’s a problem.

  1. Climate change isn’t real – Sure the science may not be perfect but 97% climate scientists agree that climate change is real, it’s happening, it’s manmade, and it’s a problem. Also, it’s caused by greenhouse gases getting into the atmosphere and disrupting the climate. Effects may vary according to geography though because scientific research tends to show conflicting reports. But the debate over the existence of climate change is practically sound as far as the scientific consensus is concerned.
Here is a graph of the global temperature averages from the 1880s to the 2000s. While many skeptics believe that the presence of cold weather disproves global warming, it doesn't. Because climate scientists tend to look at weather trends. And as far as this graph's concerned, it's getting warmer.

Here is a graph of the global temperature averages from the 1880s to the 2000s. While many skeptics believe that the presence of cold weather disproves global warming, it doesn’t. Because climate scientists tend to look at weather trends. And as far as this graph’s concerned, it’s getting warmer.

2. The earth can’t get hotter because it’s cold outside– Uh, sorry, but yes it can since there’s a difference between short-term weather variability and long-term climate change. Weather is day-to-day variations of precipitation, clouds, and temperature. Climate is the average weather pattern that takes place over many years. So if you want to find out whether climate change is real, you shouldn’t try to rely on a 5-10 weather forecast. Rather it be better to study a 30-year timeframe instead. And according to the National Climate Assessment: “While there is a clear long-term global warming trend, some years do not show a temperature increase relative to the previous year, and some years show greater changes than others. These year-to-year fluctuations in temperature are due to natural processes, such as the effects of El Niños, La Niñas, and volcanic eruptions.” So even as the climate warms, there will still be cold days and snowstorms. In fact, there are some scientists who think that the melting of Arctic sea ice might be causing bigger swings in the jet stream that can encourage frigid air to move south during the winter into the US and Europe.

While climate has changed before in the past due to natural causes, scientists have found that the global temperature increase has been consistent with the rise of CO2 in the atmosphere. By the way, this chart is from NASA.

While climate has changed before in the past due to natural causes, scientists have found that the global temperature increase has been consistent with the rise of CO2 in the atmosphere. This proves that climate change as we know it is manmade. By the way, this chart is from NASA.

3. The climate has changed before, so this change must be normal, too– Just because the earth’s climate has changed before in the past, doesn’t mean it’s normal or even caused by natural factors. As with climate change, the fact that atmospheric CO2 concentrations are now the highest they’ve ever been in all of human history shows us that it’s mostly manmade. Over the years, the global temperature has increased 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit, which may not seem like much. But even a small increase can cause significant changes. And the majority of warming at a global scale over the last 50 years can only be explained by the effects of human influences like fossil fuel burning emissions and deforestation. Natural factors have played a relatively minor role.

As the study of climate change has been conducted over the years, more and more climate scientists are now convinced that it exists, it's caused by man, and it's a problem. As far as the scientific community is concerned, the case is closed.

As the study of climate change has been conducted over the years, more and more climate scientists are now convinced that it exists, it’s caused by man, and it’s a problem. As far as the scientific community is concerned, the case is closed.

4. Most scientists don’t agree about climate change– 97% of all climate scientists believe that human activity is contributing to climate change. And as far as climate science goes, these are the only group of scientists who matter here.

A popular climate change myth is blaming global warming on the sun. However, while global temperatures continue to rise, solar activity has declined. So how could that be possible?

A popular climate change myth is blaming global warming on the sun. However, while global temperatures continue to rise, solar activity has declined. So how could that be possible?

5. The sun is responsible for climate change– Yes, solar activity can cause climate swings on the earth. But recent research have conducted studies of the sun’s interaction with the climate and concluded that none of its recent behavior accounts for today’s shift. Also, the sun’s been cooling in the last 35 years.

Here is a diagram on all the possible things that climate change can cause. The fact that climate change can cause famine, plague, and wars probably illustrates why Al Gore and the UN Climate Panel received a Nobel Peace Prize. Because climate change is real threat to peace as well as security.

Here is a diagram on all the possible things that climate change can cause. The fact that climate change can cause famine, plague, and wars probably illustrates why Al Gore and the IPCC received a Nobel Peace Prize. Because climate change is real threat to peace as well as security.

6. Climate change is good for us– In some cases, perhaps. But overall, no, since climate change is known to cause flooding and drought, especially if emissions aren’t reduced and temperatures increase at a rapid pace. Besides, recent reports find that climate change could cost the US economy hundreds of billions of dollars within the next few decades. Not to mention, the rise of diseases, loss of habitats, desertification, wildfires, water shortages, and catastrophic weather. However, when it comes to climate change, the US will be more fortunate than a lot of nations. Third World countries and island nations will have it the worst. Third World countries will suffer since many of them have endangered wildlife as well as relative instability and poverty. Island nations especially since climate change might threaten their very existence if sea levels continue to rise.

While plants do need CO2, this doesn't mean they won't be immune to the effects of climate change. Because too much CO2 could hurt plants and make them prone to infestations and disease. Not to mention, there's desertification, ocean acidification, and chaotic weather patterns.

While plants do need CO2, this doesn’t mean they won’t be immune to the effects of climate change. Because too much CO2 could hurt plants and make them prone to infestations and disease. Not to mention, there’s desertification, ocean acidification, and chaotic weather patterns.

7. CO2 can’t be dangerous, because plants need it– Yes, plants need CO2 to grow. But just because every living thing needs water to live doesn’t mean you can’t drown in it. Research shows that plants might actually suffer with too much CO2 in the air which might lead to less nutritious crops. Because in some ways, if CO2 concentration is too high, there could be a reduction of photosynthesis. There’s also evidence from the past of sudden rises of CO2 incurring major damage on a wide variety of plant species. And plants raised with enhanced CO2 supplies and strictly isolated from insects are much more vulnerable to infestation and disease than in their natural settings. Then there’s desertification which we all know isn’t very good for plants either. More CO2 might have a positive impacts on agriculture but only in the short term. And in all likelihood, adding more CO2 will just shrink a range available to plants while expanding deserts. More CO2 will increase requirements for water and soil fertility as well as plant damage from insects. This might be good news for Monsanto but surely not for us. Also, CO2 is linked to the greenhouse effect as well as causes acidification in the oceans. Climate change has even led to a lot of unpredictable weather in a lot of places which might disrupt crop and plant cycles. Sometimes it might lead plants growing and blossoming earlier than usual. Sometimes it might lead to plants suffering an early death. Such events could happen within short time spans which isn’t good for farmers. So yes, CO2 essential but it can be seen as a pollutant if there’s too much of it in the atmosphere from manmade sources. Nevertheless, that being said, there are scientists who do say that forests do help buffer climate change effects which demonstrates why deforestation is so destructive.

Recent studies have found a correlation between the polar vortex and melting sea ice as well as temperature increases in the Arctic. Such links are being debated among scientists. However, the nature of the polar vortex in many ways shows how unpredictable the effects of global warming can be. And sometimes they're not always what we'd expect. So to say that global warming is a hoax because it's snowing outside in your neck of the woods doesn't hold up. Because climate change simply doesn't work that way.

Recent studies have found a correlation between the polar vortex and melting sea ice as well as temperature increases in the Arctic. Such links are being debated among scientists. However, the nature of the polar vortex in many ways shows how unpredictable the effects of global warming can be. And sometimes they’re not always what we’d expect. So to say that global warming is a hoax because it’s snowing outside in your neck of the woods doesn’t hold up. Because climate change simply doesn’t work that way.

8. Climate change has stopped and the earth has begun to cool– Listen, just because your neck of the woods has experienced abnormally chilly weather and big blizzards, doesn’t mean that global warming isn’t happening. Seriously, your local weather conditions have absolutely no bearing on global weather patterns. Nor does it indicate that climate change has stopped. Besides, the existence of climate change depends on long term trends measured over a decade or more, and according to those, the earth is warming. The last decade was said to be the hottest on record while temperature records continue shattering the previous ones each year. Then there’s the polar vortex in which very cold air which gets pushed into the temperate zones causing frigid winter temperatures as well as snowfall. This phenomenon has been known to scientists for decades. Recent studies have found a correlation between a weak polar vortex and outbreaks of severe cold in the Northern Hemisphere, which might be related to the melting ice caps. But there’s so much uncertainty since recent observations have been short term. Nevertheless, even though we live in a warming world, that doesn’t mean we can’t experience very cold weather. Because despite how climate change denialists tend to use severe winters in their neck of the woods to disprove it, climate change simply doesn’t work that way.

While there have been reports of Antarctica gaining ice, the general consensus states that it has been losing land ice since the 1990s. This isn't good news for penguins.

While there have been reports of Antarctica gaining ice, the general consensus states that it has been losing land ice since the 1990s. This isn’t good news for penguins.

9. Antarctica is gaining ice– There’s a difference between land and sea ice.  As for sea ice, well, that’s influenced by year-to-year changes in wind directions and ocean currents. So it’s difficult to identify a clear trend. However, satellite images show that Antarctica is losing land ice at an accelerating rate which has implications in rising sea levels. And in Antarctica, it’s land ice measurements that’ matter more and since Antarctica has lost around 135o giga-tons of land ice into the oceans between 1992-2011 at 70 giga-tons per year. Of course, loss of ice mass varies among the land ice sheets with the West and Penninsula ones losing at an increasing rate. Meanwhile the East Antarctic ice sheet is slightly gaining but not enough to offset the other losses. Yet, most of the research suggests that Antarctica is land ice as a whole and these losses are accelerating quickly. Seriously, as someone who’s seen nature documentaries, climate change has been brought up in almost every one I’ve seen about penguins, especially when it pertains to Antarctica. Even the Morgan Freeman narrated documentary March of the Penguins discusses this since the Emperor Penguins depend on that ice to live on and are risk because it’s melting at accelerating rates. And from how I see it, none of them gave me the impression that Antarctica was gaining ice. Quite the contrary.

Here is the graph projecting the rise in sea levels. The red shows projections and predictions from 1970. The blue shows satellite observations. Not too shabby for climate model isn't it?

Here is the graph projecting the rise in sea levels. The red shows projections and predictions from 1970. The blue shows satellite observations. Not too shabby for climate model isn’t it?

10. Climate models and temperature records are unreliable– For one, scientists use models all the time in their research. Second, models have successfully reproduced global temperatures since 1900 by land, in the air, and in the oceans. Yes, there is some uncertainty when it comes to some aspects of climate science such as effects on clouds. However, certain predictions based on physics and chemistry are so fundamental like the greenhouse effect that the resulting predictions like rising temperatures, melting ice, and rising sea levels are robust no matter what the assumptions are. Also, the both rural and urban temperatures were measured by thermometers and satellites.

These are polar bears. Polar bears have evolved for a life on sea ice for reaching their seal prey. But because of climate change, sea ice is rapidly diminishing. To polar bears sea ice loss means reduced access to food. And it's because of global warming that they're in danger of going extinct. So how do you expect these creatures to adapt to climate change?

These are polar bears. Polar bears have evolved for a life on sea ice for reaching their seal prey. But because of climate change, sea ice is rapidly diminishing. To polar bears sea ice loss means reduced access to food. And it’s because of global warming that they’re in danger of going extinct. So how do you expect these creatures to adapt to climate change?

11. Animals and plants can adapt to climate change– It depends on the kinds of animals and plants and whether they can adapt to a changing climate on short time scales. Global warming will likely cause mass extinction of an estimated 18% and 35% of plant and animal species according to a team from the UK. Mass extinctions have been strongly linked to global climate change which can be so rapid that adaptation is simply not possible in most cases. Because it’s so pervasive and occurring too rapidly.

One of the most insidious effects of global warming is ocean acidification. As we speak the rise of CO2 emissions is changing the chemistry of the oceans as we speak, threatening the existence of entire marine ecosystems and food chains. Not to mention, the millions of people who rely on such an ecosystem for food and income. Even a small change in the pH can mean a catastrophe.

One of the most insidious effects of global warming is ocean acidification. As we speak the rise of CO2 emissions is changing the chemistry of the oceans as we speak, threatening the existence of entire marine ecosystems and food chains. Not to mention, the millions of people who rely on such an ecosystem for food and income. Even a small change in the pH can mean a catastrophe.

12. Ocean acidification isn’t serious– For the love of God, ocean acidification is linked to CO2 emissions since these waters absorb between 25-50% of them which does prevent atmospheric buildup from becoming much, much worse. However, CO2 emissions also cause ocean acidification. Ocean life can be sensitive to slight changes in pH levels even in an alkaline environment. Ocean acidity has increased by 30% in the last 200 years and the rate is projected to accelerate even further through the end of the century with potentially catastrophic impacts on marine ecosystems. As surface waters become more acidic, it becomes more difficult for marine life like corals and shellfish to form the hard shells necessary for their survival and coral reefs to provide a home to more than 25% of all oceanic species. Even the tiny pteropods are seriously impacted and they’re at the base of most oceanic food chains. Degradation of these species at the foundation of the marine ecosystem could lead to collapse of these environments with devastating implications to millions of people in the human populations that rely on them. Also, if atmospheric CO2 levels were to reach 550 parts per million along its current rapid ascent from its pre-industrial level of 250 ppm, coral reefs around the globe could be dissolving. So yes, ocean acidification is a very serious problem.

Between 1965-1979, 62% of all climate studies predicted a warming planet. Only 10% predicted an ice age.

Between 1965-1979, 62% of all climate studies predicted a warming planet. Only 10% predicted an ice age.

13. Reports from the 1970s predicted an Ice Age– Out of the 68 climate scientific studies literature between 1965-1979, only 10% did. However, 62% of these predicted a warming planet though, which is a vast majority. Besides, there’s more worry about global warming impacts within the next 100 years, not an ice age in over 10,000 years. Keep in mind that this is the same period in which Al Gore learned about global warming.

This is Sandy and no, she's not on her way for a friendly visit. She's a major hurricane that wreaked mass destruction on the East Coast. While the science isn't settled whether climate change makes hurricanes more frequent, it is established that it makes hurricanes stronger and more severe. So if you live on the coast or in Florida, expect more hurricanes like Sandy.

This is Sandy and no, she’s not on her way for a friendly visit. She’s a major hurricane that wreaked mass destruction on the East Coast. While the science isn’t settled whether climate change makes hurricanes more frequent, it is established that it makes hurricanes stronger and more severe. So if you live on the coast or in Florida, expect more hurricanes like Sandy.

14. Hurricanes aren’t linked to global warming– There is increasing evidence that hurricanes have been getting stronger and more severe due to global warming. Recent research has shown that we’re experiencing more storms with higher wind speeds, and these storms are more destructive, last longer, and make landfall more often. Such phenomenon is linked to increasing sea surface temperatures which reasonably suggests that storm intensity and climate change are linked. While global warming might not mean more frequent hurricanes (since the science isn’t settled on that one), it might mean more with a Category 3 or higher.

This is a chart from NOAA explaining some of the extreme weather events in the US from 2011-2012. As you see, it's not a pretty picture. Well, you can thank climate change for some of that.

This is a chart from NOAA explaining some of the extreme weather events in the US from 2011-2012. As you see, it’s not a pretty picture. Well, you can thank climate change for some of that since it tends to amplify the risk factors that trigger such events.

15. Extreme weather isn’t caused by global warming– Global warming amplifies the risk factors for extreme weather events which don’t automatically generate them but change the odds. So yes, climate change does increase the odds of extreme weather. Rising temperatures can have several effects involved in weather like increased evapotranspiration, a warmer atmosphere holding more water vapor, and changes in sea surface temperature. Increased evapotranspiration can have a direct effect on the frequency and intensity of droughts. The fact our atmosphere holds 4% more water vapor than it did 40 years ago increases the risks of extreme rainfall. And changes in sea surface temperatures can bring about associated shifts in atmospheric circulation and precipitation. This has been implicated in some droughts, particularly in the tropics. Hell, look at the US. Heavy rainfall and precipitation has increased in frequency and intensity by 20% in the country with the Midwest and Northeast seeing the greatest increases. In the Midwest and Great Plains expect more severe tornadoes and flooding. The frequency of drought has increased in the Southeast and the West which led to a lot of wildfires in wooded areas. And if you live in the Southeast, remember that Atlantic hurricanes have increased in both power and severity.

While some alleged that the lack of Galactic Cosmic Rays leads to global warming, most scientific research has found that the number of GCRs has increased. Thus, there is no correlation.

While some alleged that the lack of Galactic Cosmic Rays leads to global warming, most scientific research has found that the number of GCRs has increased. Thus, there is no correlation.

16. Rising global temperatures have been caused by the presence of fewer galactic cosmic rays (GCR)s– This is pure bullshit at its finest. However, GCR counts have actually increased over the past 50 years so if they did influence global temperatures, they’d have a cooling effect. However, since the earth’s temperature continues to rise, their effect is minimal at best.

These are a pictures of Muir Glacier in Alaska. One is from 1941. The other from 2004. Guess what happened during these years.

These are a pictures of Muir Glacier in Alaska. One is from 1941. The other from 2004. Guess what happened during these years.

17. Glaciers are growing– No they aren’t. According to long term trends, 90% of glaciers have been shrinking worldwide. These changes have been influenced by air temperature changes as well as precipitation. And while some might be growing, glaciers tend to be dependent on localized conditions. Nevertheless, if the glaciers were growing at this time, then the polar bears wouldn’t be having such a hard time surviving in their natural habitat, would they?

Over the last 30 years, the Arctic ice has been melting at an accelerated rate. And it makes the ice less likely to survive the next year. This spells bad news for polar bears.

Over the last 30 years, the Arctic ice has been melting at an accelerated rate. And it makes the ice less likely to survive the next year. This spells bad news for polar bears.

18. Arctic icemelt is a natural cycle– Sure Arctic has a natural cycle of freeze and thaw. However, Arctic ice is known as the “canary in the global warming coal mine” for a reason. Because satellite measurements of Arctic sea ice extent reveal a rapid decline over the last 30 years, especially at the end of each melting season. This means that the ice is melting more than accumulating, making it less likely to survive the next year as well as exposing more open water. This isn’t good news for polar bears since their reliance on the Arctic ice puts them in danger of extinction.

While burning fossil fuels only contributes to a small amount of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere, the land and ocean can only absorb 40% of it. Thus, that remaining CO2 is trapped in the earth's atmosphere and warming the planet.

While burning fossil fuels only contributes to a small amount of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere, the land, vegetation, and ocean can only absorb 40% of it. Thus, that remaining CO2 is trapped in the earth’s atmosphere and warming the planet.

19. Human CO2 is a tiny percentage of CO2 emissions– Yes, the natural cycle adds and removes CO2 to keep a balance. However, humans add extra CO2 without removing any. Sure humans don’t contribute a huge percentage of CO2 and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere but it adds up because the land and ocean can’t absorb all the extra CO2 which upsets the balance of the carbon cycle. And only 40% of this CO2 is actually absorbed with the rest remaining in the atmosphere. Human produced CO2 has increased by a third since pre-industrial times, creating an artificial forcing of global temperatures which is warming the planet. So even in trace amounts, CO2 can still be a dangerous pollutant.

Here's an NYU survey of economists with climate expertise when asked under the circumstances the USA has to reduce emissions. Despite that we have a Republican Congress with a lot of climate deniers, most of them think we should do something regardless of what other countries are doing.

Here’s an NYU survey of economists with climate expertise when asked under the circumstances the USA has to reduce emissions. Despite that we have a Republican Congress with a lot of climate deniers, most of them think we should do something regardless of what other countries are doing.

20. CO2 limits will harm the economy– If climate change proceeds without any efforts to reduce it, we can expect to incur serious economic costs. And it’s not unreasonable to expect that the effects of climate change will cause greater economic instability worldwide. The solution is to reduce fossil fuel use either through renewable energy resources or increased energy efficiency. There’s a consensus that believes putting a price on carbon through taxes and cap and trade policies are essential to limiting carbon pollution in order to prevent climate change from damaging the local economy. A number of such incentives are being tried to varying degrees of success. Nevertheless, if we want to reduce carbon emissions and avoid draconian government intervention, carbon pricing schemes seem like a viable way to reduce fossil fuel use (if not transition us away from fossil fuels altogether) as well as help transform an outdated system into one fitting for a sustainable century. Thus, the benefits outweigh the costs several times over.

While the poor contribute the least to climate change, this map reveals that they will be the most impacted by climate change. If there is a reason why Pope Francis is speaking about climate change now, this is it.

While the poor contribute the least to climate change, this map reveals that they will be the most impacted by climate change. If there is a reason why Pope Francis is speaking about climate change now, this is it.

21. CO2 limits will hurt the poor– The only people who will be hurt by CO2 limits are those who’ve gotten rich in the fossil fuel industry. Nevertheless, the idea that fossil fuel and other industries create good jobs is a myth. After all, while US miners and oil and gas workers might make good money, that’s mostly due to the fact that their ancestors took to the streets to fight for their God given rights through unionization, regulations, and reforms which wasn’t at all easy. Because in the 19th century, fossil fuel industry jobs didn’t lift people out of poverty. Not only that, but a lot coal miners started their jobs as children. And yes, I’m aware that polluting industries are said to give jobs to people who don’t have a college education. And even if fossil fuel workers do make good money, they’re still being screwed in the process. But if these companies had their way, industrial workers would be paid less than Wal Mart employees as well as have to deal with a shitload of workplace safety hazards. Nobody wants that. Still, when it comes to CO2 limits, the poor won’t have to worry that much since they contribute the least greenhouse gases. However, those in poverty will be most impacted by climate change as well as the least able to adapt. This is why I said that Third World countries will suffer the some of the worst effects of global warming, especially if they’re island nations.

Due to climate change and ocean acidification, coral reefs are becoming increasingly under threat by coral bleaching. Bleached coral has no algae and becomes vulnerable to disease and has no major source of food. Coral bleaching is very serious threat to reefs as well as marine ecosystems everywhere.

Due to climate change and ocean acidification, coral reefs are becoming increasingly under threat by coral bleaching. Bleached coral has no algae and becomes vulnerable to disease and has no major source of food. Coral bleaching is very serious threat to reefs as well as marine ecosystems everywhere.

22. Corals are resilient to bleaching– Because of global warming and ocean acidification, coral reefs are in decline on a world scale. Over the last 30-40 years, 80% of coral in the Caribbean have been destroyed as well as 50% in Indonesia and the Pacific. Bleaching associated with the 1982-1983 El Nino killed over 95% of coral in the Galapagos Islands and the 1997-1998 El Nino wiped out 16% of all coral on the planet. Globally about 1% of coral dies out each year. This is terrible because over half billion people depend on coral reefs for a living and sustenance. And ecologically, coral reefs are integral to the oceans’ well-being since they’re like the tropical rain forests of a sea that’s virtually a marine desert. Not to mention, they provide a home for over 25% of fish in the ocean as well as up to 2 million marine species. So if the coral goes, all that disappears. And that’s really bad.

While fossil fuels may have a cheap market price, they also carry high external costs like health problems, pollution, loss of biodiversity, climate change, decreased property values, infrastructure damage, and potential for disasters. Seriously, when an offshore platform exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, the region was devastated. Let's just say while renewable energy might be expensive in the short run, at least you don't get disasters like the Gulf Oil Spill.

While fossil fuels may have a cheap market price, they also carry high external costs like health problems, pollution, loss of biodiversity, climate change, decreased property values, infrastructure damage, and potential for disasters. Seriously, when an offshore platform exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, the region was devastated. Let’s just say while renewable energy might be expensive in the short run, at least you don’t get disasters like the Gulf Oil Spill.

23. Renewable Energy is too expensive– I hear this a lot, too. But while the market price on fossil fuels is cheap compared to renewable energy, there are effects that aren’t reflected. These consist of air pollution and health impact as well as possibly workers’ health and safety and potential for disaster. If you take pride in West Virginia industry, then perhaps you shouldn’t get attached to your Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah River because of mountaintop removal and excessive water pollution. If you live in some places in rural Pennsylvania, then don’t expect a lot of royalties from leasing your land to the Marcellus Shale gas companies which will cost you your well water quality and property values. Oh, and if that nearby well or pipeline explodes, then consider relocating to rebuild your life because your home is now engulfed in flames. And if you’re fine with an offshore oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico, well, if it experiences a major accident, then Bubba Gump Shrimp is out of business. And I’m sure the tourists won’t be coming back to the beach due to not wanting to take a dip in oil sludge. Still, why buy oil from the station when you can get it all for free? Just go down to the shore line where the water used to be. And I didn’t even get to the effects of climate change. Now do people experience such problems with renewable energy? No, because you don’t need to remove mountain tops for solar power or frack for wind energy. That being said, the true cost of fossil fuels is much higher than the cost of most renewable energy technologies with the possible exception of nuclear power.

24. CO2 limits will make little difference– Well, if it’s only confined to a single country, then its CO2 emissions reduction will make little difference. However, if every nation agrees to limit CO2 emissions, we can achieve significant cuts on a global scale, especially if it pertains to nations like the US and China. Basically as far as the science goes, we all either take measures to reduce CO2 emissions together or we’re doomed. However, if you want the US to get on board with fighting climate change, then you must find a way to bankrupt the Koch Brothers and their allies because they’re the reason why so many Republicans deny climate change in the first place.

This chart shows many ways we can combat climate change. And as of 2016, we have much of the technology available.

This chart shows many ways we can combat climate change. And as of 2016, we have much of the technology available.

25. We don’t have the technology necessary to fix global warming– Scientific studies have determined that current technology is sufficient to reduce greenhouse gas emissions enough to avoid dangerous climate change. Among these are renewed fuel economy, reduced reliance on cars, more efficient buildings, improved power plant efficiency, storage of carbon captured in power plants, storage of carbon captured in hydrogen plants, storage of carbon captured in synthetic fuels plants, wind power, solar photovoltaic power, renewable hydrogen, biofuels, forest management, and agricultural soils management. Nuclear power and substituting coal for natural gas are also listed but I didn’t include them because nuclear power isn’t safe, especially in a disaster and natural gas involves hydrofracking and is pretty much a Diet Coke option as a fossil fuel to begin with (meaning while it’s not as bad as coal or oil, it’s still a fossil fuel that pollutes and gives of CO2 emissions. And then there’s fracking and explosions to worry about. Seriously, I wouldn’t recommend this). Sure reducing greenhouse gas emissions may be difficult but it’s possible. However, if the US wants to go forward with reducing CO2 emissions, then I think Republicans must stop denying climate change as well as stop relying on the Koch Brothers as well as the energy and industrial companies for campaign cash when they’re up for election.

26. Climate is chaotic and can’t be predicted– As we all know, weather can be rather chaotic as you see on the news with the weather report. Seriously, you probably know your local weatherman has gotten the forecast wrong at least once. However, climate doesn’t work this way since it’s driven by the earth’s energy imbalance, which is more predictable. Also, long term trends. Thus, the chaotic nature of turbulence is no real obstacle for climate modeling.

This is a diagram on how a solar cell can store baseload power. So apparently, the climate skeptics were wrong. Don't you think?

This is a diagram on how a solar cell can store baseload power. So apparently, the climate skeptics were wrong. Don’t you think?

27. Renewable energy can’t provide baseload power– A popular myth is that some types of renewable energy don’t provide baseload power and require an equivalent of backup power provided by fossil fuels. However, this is bullshit. Still, while renewable energy doesn’t necessarily need to provide baseload power in the short-term, there are several ways in which it can do so if need be. Geothermal energy is available at all times. Concentrated solar thermal energy has storage capability. Wind energy can be stored in compressed air. Then there’s hydroelectric power is cheap, clean, as well as good for baseload and meeting peak demand despite being limited by available natural sources.

28. CO2 limits won’t cool the planet– Maybe not. However, continued greenhouse gas emissions at or above current rates would cause further warming and induce many changes in the global climate system during the 21st century that would very likely be larger than those observed during the 20th century. If we decrease CO2 emissions, temperatures will still be warm but then stabilize. So while CO2 limits won’t cool the planet, they won’t make things worse.

Those who keep tropical fish know that they have to keep their aquariums set to particular conditions. Any slight changes in temperature could be detrimental to fish and put the water chemistry out of whack. It kind of operates on the same principles when it comes to how global warming causes ocean acidification. And yes, as tropical fish owners know, a change of a few degrees does make a big difference.

Those who keep tropical fish know that they have to keep their aquariums set to particular conditions. Any slight changes in temperature could be detrimental to fish and put the water chemistry out of whack. It kind of operates on the same principles when it comes to how global warming causes ocean acidification. And yes, as tropical fish owners know, a change of a few degrees does make a big difference.

29. Well, temperatures are increasing only a few degrees– Yes, but an increase of a few degrees has a huge impact on ice sheets, sea levels, and other aspects of climate. While nature can be quite resilient at times, in other ways, it’s a very fragile thing. Think of how tropical fish owners have to keep their aquariums at a certain temperature range at all times since water temperature in the natural world determines which organisms will thrive or die. A small increase in a tank’s temperature could change the water in so many significant ways as well as put added stress on the fish or possibly kill them. In fact, you stuff like this going on in the oceans as I speak as average global temperatures in these bodies of water have increased by about 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit over the last century.

No, I don't think building an ark is a great way for adapting to climate change. Economists say that while preventing global warming is relatively cheap, they can't even estimate the accelerating costs of climate change if we do nothing.

No, I don’t think building an ark is a great way for adapting to climate change. Economists say that while preventing global warming is relatively cheap, they can’t even estimate the accelerating costs of climate change if we do nothing.

30. Adapting to global warming is cheaper than preventing it– Just say that when many of your major cities are under water. Or if you live in an island nation, your whole country. But as they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And nothing emphasizes this more than the struggle against climate change. According to scientists, while preventing global warming is relatively cheap, economists can’t even accurately estimate the accelerating costs of climate change if we continue with business as usual.

While many contrarians tend to argue that global warming doesn't exist due to record snow on the ground, these people have no idea how climate change works. In fact, many scientists point out that climate change increases evaporation which means more precipitation. And this is consistent with record snowfall in cold weather.

While many contrarians tend to argue that global warming doesn’t exist due to record snow on the ground, these people have no idea how climate change works. In fact, many scientists point out that climate change increases evaporation which means more precipitation. And this is consistent with record snowfall in cold weather.

31. Record snowfall disproves global warming– Sorry, but global warming doesn’t work that way. Claiming that record snowfall is inconsistent with global warming betrays a lack of understanding of the link between climate change and extreme precipitation. Warming causes more moisture in the air which leads to more extreme precipitation events. This includes more heavy snowstorms in regions where snowfall conditions are favorable, particularly in areas with average winter temperatures as near the freezing mark of 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Not to mention, in northern and colder regions, temperatures are often too cold for very heavy snow so warming could bring more favorable snowstorm conditions. Thus, record snowfalls are consistent with more extreme precipitation events pertaining to global warming and far from contradicting it. Not to mention, while snowstorms have declined the American lower Midwest, South, and West Coast, they’ve increased in the upper Midwest, East, and Northeast with an overall upward national trend. Besides, global temperatures within the last few months of record snowfall have been the hottest on record and it’s said that snowstorms were more common during warmer and wetter years during the 20th century.

Here is a chart of all the health effects that stem from climate change. And yes, it's not pretty as you see.

Here is a chart of all the health effects that stem from climate change. And yes, it’s not pretty as you see.

32. Climate change isn’t urgent– Newsflash: it is and it is increasingly so. It’s not obvious because a large amount of warming is delayed. But some of the research suggests that if we want to keep the earth’s climate within the range humans have experienced, then we must leave nearly all the remaining fossil fuels in the ground. If we don’t act now, we could push the climate beyond tipping points where the situation spirals out of control.

The effects of soot on global warming are unknown. However, the reduction of black carbon has more to do with it being a key contributor to air pollution and detrimental to human health.

The effects of soot on global warming are unknown. However, the reduction of black carbon has more to do with it being a key contributor to air pollution and detrimental to human health.

33. Soot is mostly to blame for global warming– Sure black carbon is a pollutant and does contribute somewhat to global warming. But soot only remains in the atmosphere for days and weeks and doesn’t accumulate like CO2. Still, black carbon’s effects as a pollutant are more apparent and pertain to air pollution that leads to serious and well documented health effects. They’re also accompanied by CO and volatile organic compounds (VOCS) which are also terrible. And yes, such compounds should be eliminated because they kill people. CO2 emissions, on the other hand cause global warming for centuries and can remain in the atmosphere for over 100 years which is why reducing CO2 emissions should be a top priority. Not to mention, CFCs have also been blamed for global warming but the reality is that they contribute only to a small amount. And their main damage had more to do with creating a hole in the ozone layer in Antarctica.

34. Ozone has been causing global warming– Multiple satellite and ground based observations have determined that the ozone layer has stopped declining since 1995 while temperature trends have continued upwards.

While methane is a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2 it only contributes to 28% of the warming CO2 does. However, this doesn't mean that having methane in the atmosphere isn't a problem. Because it is.

While methane is a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2 it only contributes to 28% of the warming CO2 does. However, this doesn’t mean that having methane in the atmosphere isn’t a problem. Because it is.

35. Methane contributes to global warming– Yes, it does and there’s no arguing with that which is why I’m no fan of Marcellus Shale drilling. And yes, methane is a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2. However, there is over 200 times more CO2 in the atmosphere. Thus, the amount of warming methane contributes only consists of 28% of what CO2 does. Nevertheless, that’s not to say that methane can be ignored because we should reduce methane levels and the trend in increasing methane has slowed down and leveled off since the 1990s. But with the natural gas drilling boom, that might change. Thus, while methane only plays a minor role, it could get much worse if the permafrost starts to melt.

36. The Infrared Iris will reduce global warming– Introduced in 2001, according to Skeptical Science: “The infrared iris hypothesis suggests that increased sea surface temperature in the tropics would result in reduced cirrus clouds and thus more infrared radiation leakage from Earth’s atmosphere.  This radiation leakage in turn would have a cooling effect, dampening global warming as a negative feedback.” Since that time, subsequent studies have found little supporting evidence for it. And as far as the science goes now, that if the Infared Iris Effect exists it either has a much smaller impact at reducing global warming than originally hypothesized or possibly amplify it.

This is a political cartoon pertaining the the Climategate Scandal which involved some hacked e-mails taken way out of context. Investigations have cleared the scientists involved of wrongdoing, however. But don't tell that to global warming deniers.

This is a political cartoon pertaining the the Climategate Scandal which involved some hacked e-mails taken way out of context. Investigations have cleared the scientists involved of wrongdoing, however. But don’t tell that to global warming deniers.

37. The Climategate CRU hacked e-mails suggest a conspiracy– In 2009 the servers at the University of East Anglia in Britain were hacked and e-mails were stolen. When a selection of these e-mails between climate scientists were published on the internet, a few suggestive quotes were seized upon by many who believed that global warming is all just a conspiracy. However, in reality, they have taken the e-mails out of context thinking that they confirmed what they’ve probably believed for years and ran with it. Several independent investigations from different countries investigated the stolen e-mails and found no evidence of wrongdoing. So in the end, those few suggestive e-mails only served as a distraction from the wealth of empirical evidence of manmade global warming.

Al Gore's 2006 documentary An Inconvenient Truth is about as informative on climate change as it is controversial. Does Gore get stuff wrong this? Probably. However, experts have called this film broadly accurate as well as what Gore said, an inconvenient truth.

Al Gore’s 2006 documentary An Inconvenient Truth is about as informative on climate change as it is controversial. Does Gore get stuff wrong this? Probably. However, experts have called this film broadly accurate as well as what Gore said, an inconvenient truth.

38. Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth got it wrong– Al Gore may be no scientist but you have to admire his advocacy on fighting climate change since he’s done a lot to publicize the issue in ways no one else has, especially when it came to his film An Inconvenient Truth. While the film may not be 100% accurate, it accurately represents the science as it stood, a fact that’s been confirmed by expert witnesses and subsequent scientific research. And it’s far more accurate than anything climate change deniers come up with.

Greenland may never have been green since its icesheet was found to be over 400,000 years old. However, today because of climate change, Greenland is now extensively losing ice.

Greenland may never have been green since its icesheet was found to be over 400,000 years old. However, today because of climate change, Greenland is now extensively losing ice.

39. Greenland used to be green– Well, according to Icelandic Vikings who discovered it 1,000 years ago, maybe. But it’s sort of established that Erik the Red named it Greenland to encourage Viking settlers to go there. So the only “green” in “Greenland” was probably in Erik the Red’s pocket. And besides, the Vikings only established 2 or 3 settlements on there anyway. Nevertheless, 80% of Greenland is covered in an ice sheet that’s about 400,000-800,000 years old. While there was a Medieval Warming Anomaly during the medieval period, the effect wasn’t global and the average temperatures were lower than today. And if there was any warming in Greenland in the Middle Ages it was caused by natural factors which are probably not responsible for today’s global warming. Today, satellite images and ground observations show that Greenland is extensively losing ice as a whole. And we should remember when Greenland was 3-5 degrees warmer a large portion of its icesheet melted.

While it's somehow believed that negative cloud feedback could reduce climate change, most studies have ruled it out since clouds don't provide much negative feedback at all. And it's believed that clouds might cause the planet to warm even further.

While it’s somehow believed that negative cloud feedback could reduce climate change, most studies have ruled it out since clouds don’t provide much negative feedback at all. And it’s believed that clouds might cause the planet to warm even further.

40. Clouds can provide negative feedback that will cancel out human caused global warming– The effect of clouds in a warming world is complicated. According to one notion it’s said that low level clouds tend to cool by reflecting sunlight while high level clouds warm by trapping heat. However, a couple studies have found that cloud feedback in the tropics and subtropics have a positive feedback which could cause the planet to warm even further. So it’s unlikely that clouds could cause enough cooling to offset much of the human caused global warming.

Here I present a diagram that states that CO2 doesn't have a big presence in the atmosphere and is therefore insignificant to climate change. However, while CO2 is a trace gas, it's about as insignificant in the atmosphere as alcohol is your bloodstream on a Friday night when you're driving home after having a few beers. Small amounts of very active substances can have large effects whether it pertains to climate change or your breathylzer test.

Here I present a diagram that states that CO2 doesn’t have a big presence in the atmosphere and is therefore insignificant to climate change. However, while CO2 is a trace gas, it’s about as insignificant in the atmosphere as alcohol is your bloodstream on a Friday night when you’re driving home after having a few beers. Small amounts of very active substances can have large effects whether it pertains to climate change or your breathylzer test.

41. CO2 is only a trace gas– Yes, it may be. But small amounts of very active substances can cause large effects. For instance if your blood/alcohol level appears as 800 ppm on a breathylzer test or 0.08%, you shouldn’t go into a car with your hands on the wheel. Because that’s drunk driving which will give you a 5 year manslaughter sentence if you end up killing somebody. The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere might be small compared to other gases. However the total CO2 molecules around our heads is more important than their percentage in the atmosphere. And we know the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased along with global temperatures because scientists have measured it. Nevertheless, while an increase can still be a trace, it could make a large difference and not for the better.

When studying climate change, ice core samples have been proven quite instrumental in measuring climate conditions in the past. Plant stomata data, not so much.

When studying climate change, ice core samples have been proven quite instrumental in measuring climate conditions in the past. Plant stomata data, not so much.

42. Plant stomata show higher and more variable CO2 levels– Plant stomatal data isn’t as direct or reliable as ice core measurements and hence not as precise. Several ice core data sets are essentially consistent and are direct measurements of air that have been enclosed in bubbles. This is certainly the case in the Greenland Plant stomatal data doesn’t show this or as much as proponents would like.

As sea levels rise, the existence of entire island nations are increasingly in jeopardy. This Pacific Islander is holding as sign asking the rest of the world to prepare a place where her country can stay. To some, climate change might mean losing a way of life or a home. To this girl, it means losing a country and everything with it.

As sea levels rise, the existence of entire island nations are increasingly in jeopardy. This Pacific Islander is holding as sign asking the rest of the world to prepare a place where her country can stay. To some, climate change might mean losing a way of life or a home. To this girl, it means losing a country and everything with it. And to her, climate change is a bigger threat to her nation’s security than terrorism.

43. Sea levels aren’t rising– Sorry, but they are and it’s a serious problem. Because if we don’t act against climate change now, then it’s likely that a lot of our major cities would be entirely underwater. And between 1950-2009, the sea level of the island nation of Tuvalu rose 5.1 mm per year which is 3 times average global level sea level rise. The fact sea levels of rising has created quite a concern for many island nations like Fiji, Kiribati, Maldives, the Philippines, the Solomon Islands, Indonesia, Tonga, Papua New Guinea, Palau, and Vanuatu. Though sea level rise isn’t always level since the heat content isn’t spread evenly over the oceans, the general trend has been a concern for many island nations whose existence might put them in jeopardy.

44. An exponential increase in CO2 will result in a linear increase in temperature– Despite the logarithmic relationship between CO2 and surface temperatures, atmospheric CO2 levels are rising so fast that unless we dramatically decrease our emissions, global warming will accelerate over the 21st century. And as business as usual continues, we are currently at a pace to double the current CO2 concentration within the next 60 to 80 years. Thus an exponential increase will outpace its logarithmic relationship with surface temperatures causing global warming to accelerate unless we take serious steps.

Another pervasive myth that seems to live on is that investing in renewable resources will take away more jobs that it will create. Time and time again, studies have proven this false. In fact, green energy creates more without having to cause a single oil spill.

Another pervasive myth that seems to live on is that investing in renewable resources will take away more jobs that it will create. Time and time again, studies have proven this false. In fact, green energy creates more without having to cause a single oil spill.

45. Renewable energy investment kills jobs– Now this is a pervasive myth about climate change that I’ve heard several hundred times during my lifetime. There’s a Spanish economist from a libertarian think tank that receives funding from Exxon Mobil (of Exxon-Valdez) who claims that every new job created for investing in renewable energy destroys 2.2 conventional jobs. However, this claim is based on a study that relies on incorrect numbers, cherrypicked dates, faulty theory, flawed methodology, and has been disproven by real world examples. In reality, renewable energy investment and development creates more jobs than fossil fuel energy. Not to mention, it results in fewer workplace health and safety risks as well as less environmental damage in disasters. Besides, while fossil fuel may be seen as cheap at first, its market price doesn’t account for various external costs. While renewable energy may be more expensive at first, extra money invested in renewable energy could be spent elsewhere to create new jobs in different sectors of the economy.

While humans have survived climate changes before, they were usually ice ages that took place before the dawn of civilization. It's not like the climate change we're going through now, which is mostly caused by CO2 emissions.

While humans have survived climate changes before, they were usually ice ages that took place before the dawn of civilization. It’s not like the climate change we’re going through now, which is mostly caused by CO2 emissions.

46. Humans have survived past climate changes– Yes, but they were mostly cold ones and mostly in our distant past like ice ages which took place before civilization. And at that time, most of those climate changes were caused by natural factors like orbital wobbles, solar fluctuations, and continental drifts. But since civilization, climate hasn’t changed much until recent years. The climate change we’re experiencing now is clearly manmade. But since our human ancestors have been on earth, average global temperatures have never been 3 degrees Celsius warmer than now. In the next 100 years, our children will be the first people to experience that kind of climate.

Here's a map of the US during a heat wave it experienced in 2011. Seems like Texas is a real red state in this like hotter than hell. And that state's politicians aren't known for their climate advocacy. Quite the opposite.

Here’s a map of the US during a heat wave it experienced in 2011. Seems like Texas is a real red state in this like hotter than hell. And that state’s politicians aren’t known for their climate advocacy. Quite the opposite.

47. Heatwaves have happened before– Yes, heatwaves have happened before but that doesn’t mean the extreme heatwaves we have now is natural because it’s not. Global warming is causing more frequent heatwaves as record-breaking temperatures are happening 5 times more often than they would without any human caused global warming .This means that there’s an 80% chance that any monthly heat record today is due to human caused global warming. If we continue to rely heavily on fossil fuels, extreme heatwaves will become the norm across most of the world by the late 21st century. However, if we take major steps to reduce human greenhouse gas emissions, the number of extreme heatwaves will stabilize in 2040.

48. Removing all CO2 would make little difference– According to Skeptical Science, “75% of the greenhouse effect is caused by water vapor and clouds, which rain out of the atmosphere if it cools. This makes water vapor a strong positive feedback to any change in non-condensing greenhouse gases. CO2 constitutes 80% of the non-condensing greenhouse gas forcing. Removing CO2 would remove most of the water, cancelling most of the greenhouse effect and cooling the Earth by 30 C.”

Here's a diagram of energy inputs into the earth's climate system. Notice that energy from the earth's interior only makes a small segment compared to solar and human produced energy.

Here’s a diagram of energy inputs into the earth’s climate system. Notice that energy from the earth’s interior only makes a small segment compared to solar and human produced energy.

49. Underground temperatures control climate– Good grief. Well, according to Skeptical Science, “The flow of energy outwards from the interior of the Earth is 1/10,000th of the size of the energy flow from the Sun. Furthermore, over the past few million years, the heatflow from deep in the Earth has also remained very steady compared to other climatic factors. Heat from the bowels of the Earth does not influence climate in any significant way.” Besides, we can use geothermal energy as a renewable resource that will keep us off from fossil fuel dependency. And many of us have bathed in natural hot springs.

Things have been heating up in the frozen Arctic due to the ice melting at an alarming rate. And declining sea ice has been a critical factor in that.

Things have been heating up in the frozen Arctic due to the ice melting at an alarming rate. And declining sea ice has been a critical factor in that.

50. Melting ice isn’t warming the Arctic– Uh, yes it is. It certainly is. Empirical evidence from the past two decades reveals that declining sea ice cover and thickness have been great enough to enhance Arctic warming during most of the year. Not to mention, more sunlight being absorbed through the water. And according to Skeptical Science, “Decline in sea ice is the major driver of Arctic amplification. This is evidence by the pattern of atmospheric warming over the Arctic. Maximum warming occurs over the surface during winter while less surface warming is found in summer when heat is being used to melt sea ice. This pattern is consistent with sea ice amplification.”

Our Moral Obligation to the Environment

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Now though I’m a weekly churchgoing Catholic leftist, I rarely talk about religious matters that don’t concern holidays or tacky religious art because I really don’t want to offend anyone. But this month Pope Francis plans to deliver an encyclical on the environment as well as accepted climate change as a legitimate threat caused by human activity which has riled a lot of people on the American Catholic Right. Now the American Catholic Right believes that “true” Catholics like them should accept everything of Catholic Church says about the things they agree with like the Church’s stance on sex and reproductive issues that most American Catholics tend to either not take seriously or be major hypocrites about (and it doesn’t help that the biggest Catholic voices in this country come from people on the Catholic Right who are mostly concerned about the issues. However, I should tell my readers that the Catholic Right basically consists of the biggest jerks affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church in America who represent little of what the Roman Catholic Church stands for and not at all of what most American Catholics believe in.) However, when it comes to issues the Catholic Church and the American Catholic Right disagree with, then the latter tends to downplay the seriousness of the matters at hand whether they be internet neutrality, universal healthcare, affordable childcare, social welfare for the poor, capital punishment, unionism, penal reform, economic justice, immigration reform, torture, war, gun control, capitalism and consumerism, social justice for minorities, police reform, ending homelessness, and of course, environmental protection. If being a born and raised progressive Catholic ever taught me anything it’s that these conservatives have absolutely no legitimate credence to say who’s a good Catholic and who’s not since they’re no more faithful to church doctrine in their politics than their liberal counterparts (possibly even less). It’s just that American Catholic conservatives tend to call fellow liberals out on this more frequently for not conforming to their own personal vision of Catholicism. But in personal preference, I just try to be as good a Catholic as I can be even if the Church and I might disagree with some issues on sex and reproduction. Besides, I tend to state that the Catholic Church is one of the reasons I’m a true blue liberal today, a fact which I’m proud of. And I will remain a practicing Catholic in my own way whether the Catholic Right likes it or not.

Now the American Catholic Right is filled with climate change deniers like any good contingent of the Republican Party and many of them don’t like how Pope Francis is taking climate change and environmental very seriously. A good example is when Rick Santorum stated that Pope Francis should leave climate change to the scientists since it’s a “controversial theory,” despite that Pope Francis agrees with 97% of climate scientists and Santorum doesn’t. And even if Pope Francis didn’t work as a chemist before entering the priesthood or have any scientific background whatsoever, is he wrong to talk about environmental problems and caring for creation? No way in hell. In fact, I’d think it should be part of his job.

Now Pope Francis’s encyclical is supposed to reflect the moral obligations in protecting the environment, which is something that I totally agree with and applaud him for it. This is especially since for decades, environment protection has been seen as a leftist cause championed by tree hugging hippies, vegetarians, and nature worshippers. Sure the Pope hasn’t seen any TV since the year I was born, but even so, he doesn’t really need much access to the mass media to know the effects of environmental degradation. I mean he’s spent most of his life in South America, which is no stranger to ecological damage in the least.  Nevertheless, despite how the United States tends to politicize social justice issues, Pope Francis treats environmental protection as a high moral priority it should be, which should have nothing political or leftist about it. But before he does his encyclical on the 18th, I’d like to go over a few things explaining why protecting the environment should be a moral obligation.

Saint Francis of Assisi is the Roman Catholic patron saint of environmentalism and ecology who preached that all men have a duty to protect and enjoy nature as stewards of God's creation and as creatures ourselves. There are plenty of legends and tales about him that center on his great love for animals and the environment. And prominent conservative Catholics complain that Pope Francis's eco encyclical is a break from Church tradition. Sorry, but it ain't.

Saint Francis of Assisi is the Roman Catholic patron saint of environmentalism and ecology who preached that all men have a duty to protect and enjoy nature as stewards of God’s creation and as creatures ourselves. There are plenty of legends and tales about him that center on his great love for animals and the environment. And prominent conservative Catholics complain that Pope Francis’s eco encyclical is a break from Church tradition. Sorry, guys, but it ain’t.

  1. The earth and all its creatures were created by God who entrusted us with caring for creation. – Pardon me with the religious sentiment here, but we should all recognize that we need to believe that nature is sacred. Besides, the Abrahamic tradition explains it better than almost anything else since it doesn’t involve nature spirits. Even though God certainly didn’t create the earth like in Genesis (at least in the literal sense), even that illustrates the point that humans owe their existence to a living world that we share with all other species great and small. We owe this world a living chance to perpetuate the life-creating processes of natural selection, population dynamics, and exchange cycles. While most of what the first chapters of Genesis shouldn’t be taught in a science classroom (since they were never meant to be literally true to begin with), it at least gets the moral obligation right and attributes the creation to God. God didn’t create this world so humanity can dominate it or exploit its resources for all its worth in order to satisfy one’s greed. He wanted humanity to take responsibility for caring for creation, not exploit it. And I’m sure He didn’t just create plants and animals simply for human consumption or domestication either. Rather He created the Earth to last for countless generations over billions of years as well as sustain life for every living creature. As evolution and biological diversity show us, God didn’t create us separate from nature nor did He create this world just for ourselves since all forms of life are dependent on each other’s survival. Sure it may not involve all the animals existing in harmony but each living thing on earth fulfills an essential purpose as God intended. Thus, as God created the earth so we can live on it, shouldn’t trying to protect our natural environment be our sacred duty? And shouldn’t it be our sacred duty to ensure the survival of all of God’s creatures? But if we continue exploit God’s creation that the earth is no longer fit to sustain life, we don’t just put nature in danger, but also violate our covenant with the Almighty. Seriously, if God went through all the trouble creating the earth over billions of years for everyone’s own benefit, protecting our environment is the least we can do.
This Reuters infographic illustrates the impact on air pollution and human health over the last 20 years from a report by the World Health Organization. According to WHO, air pollution caused 7 million deaths in 2012. mostly to respiratory problems and cardiovascular disease.

This Reuters infographic illustrates the impact on air pollution and human health over the last 20 years from a report by the World Health Organization. According to WHO, air pollution caused 7 million deaths in 2012. mostly to respiratory problems and cardiovascular disease.

  1. Environmental problems hurt human health. – Despite how conservatives think that protecting the environment hurts human interests, the health of the natural environment is certainly linked to humanity’s quality of life. Like with every creature on earth, clean air and water are essential for human health as well as well as farms with uncontaminated arable land. Exposure to toxic pollutants can cause serious health problems, birth defects, disease, or early death. This is especially the case with blue collar industrial workers who are most likely to develop or die from serious work-related illnesses. Land contamination can lead to dead crops as well as starvation and famine as well as make an entire area uninhabitable, resulting in mass migrations. Unsustainable agricultural practices can lead to loss of fertile land while use of agricultural chemicals can lead to loss of key pollinators such as honeybees (which is happening now as we speak). Water shortages can lead to dehydration and drought, which can also result in starvation. As theology, philosophy, and science tell us, humans weren’t created as separate from nature and are just as dependent to the same optimal conditions on earth as any living organism. The reason why the environmental movement took rise in the 1960s which led to the founding of the Environmental Protection Agency had little to do with a few nature loving hippies and more to do with the fact this nation’s environmental problems were affecting people. The same goes for whenever the EPA designates a specific area as a Superfund site. So thus, anything that could make animals sick or kill plants, could make us sick and kill us as well.
In the United States, there's a phenomenon known as

In the United States, there’s a phenomenon known as “environmental racism” that consists of polluters setting shop near neighborhoods with racial minorities and/or economically disadvantaged residents at an institutionalized and systematic scale. This results in poor and minority communities disproportionately affected by environmental hazards and least likely to benefit from environmental policy or community cleaning efforts. Of course, since US environmentalism tends to be dominated by white people, environmental racism doesn’t get the attention it should since it’s basically one of the worst examples of racial injustice and white privilege.

  1. Environmental degradation hurts the poor.-The poor will not always be the biggest offenders in environmental degradation, but they will suffer the consequences more than anyone else. Since environmental conditions determine land value, poor people tend to reside in some of the most polluted and contaminated areas, especially in industrialized cities. High poverty areas are more prone to have toxic industries successfully move in since the residents because the residents don’t have the power and influence to defend themselves, while more wealthier and influential communities would answer with mass protests and lawsuits over the mantra, “Not In My Back Yard” when it comes to high polluting industry. In the US this is why many urban landfills, toxic waste dumps, and industrial facilities tend to be placed near minority or economically disadvantaged neighborhoods. Because poor people are most likely to live in proximity to environmental wastelands, they are most likely to suffer from environmental degradation more than anyone else. Not to mention, they are most likely to work in jobs, which put them at high risk for pollutant exposure or danger. Sometimes this results in environmental blackmail in which poor people are forced to choose between their dirty and dangerous jobs and their environmental standards. Their neighborhoods are also least likely to be environmentally maintained as well. Because they lack the necessary resources, they are less likely to do anything about it either ending up trapped or displaced with nowhere else to go, especially in an event of a natural or environmental disaster. And in environmental disasters, their neck of the woods is less likely to receive an adequate response. In developing countries, they are the least likely to afford food as food prices soar. Not to mention, environmental problems also widen the gap between rich and poor. So as the rich get richer from their polluting industries, the poor get poorer as their neighborhoods are turned into toxic wastelands, local job opportunities disappear resulting in long commutes to other low wage jobs, and local crime and civil unrest ensue. And if they live in the US, they are most likely to be uninsured and least likely to be treated for environmental illnesses that could take their lives. I’m sure Pope Francis will touch on this point in his encyclical.
Family farmers especially suffer from environmental degradation since they don't have nearly as many resources as their large agribusiness counterparts. In the United States, family farmers have it especially bad with the  presence of the agricultural industrial complex as well as going broke while trying to compete with it. In the Marcellus Shale natural gas boom, these farmers were particular targets as potential lessees for the companies. The fact much of the gas is extracted from farmland puts crops and livestock at risk for chemical contamination through fracking.

Family farmers especially suffer from environmental degradation since they don’t have nearly as many resources as their large agribusiness counterparts. In the United States, family farmers have it especially bad with the presence of the agricultural industrial complex as well as going broke while trying to compete with it. In the Marcellus Shale natural gas boom, these farmers were particular targets as potential lessees for the companies. The fact much of the gas is extracted from farmland puts crops and livestock at risk for chemical contamination through fracking.

  1. Environmental degradation harms the food supply.-Living near small rural farms, I can guess that if environmental degradation can affect the quality of our health, then it can also affect the quality of our food. Rachel Carson often talked about how agricultural pesticides and other chemicals harmed wildlife and humans alike, which is endemic among the large industrial farm complexes throughout the United States and the world. And it’s unfortunate that many of them tend to set agricultural industry standards that result in a lot of environmental and financial harm among smaller farms trying to compete. California’s agricultural industry is one of the main reasons why the western United States is currently dealing with water shortages and drought. But this has more to do with the fact that Southern California’s agricultural economy has more to do with manmade improvements built during the early 20th century that created its lush artificial environment than its natural desert environment. When the Spanish landed in what is now San Francisco, they saw absolutely no trees which makes the notion of California’s agricultural industry a very stupid idea. Now I know industrial agriculture isn’t the most environmentally sustainable practice or the most profitable. However, GMOs, Monsanto, monoculture hybridized seeds, fertilizer runoff, and livestock factory farming aside, despite the ecological and social damage they do (of which there’s a long list), they aren’t the biggest problems in the agricultural world. That, my friend, is the exploitative nature of big agribusiness itself where the agricultural industrial complexes make the rules and are the biggest bullies while small farmers are the biggest victims, especially in Latin America, India, and much of the developing world. Now I’m very aware that a lot of farmers in the US tend to have trouble paying their debts that Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, and Neil Young got together in the 1980s and organized an annual benefit concert for the farmers in danger of losing their homesteads. Nevertheless, despite contaminating the land with some of the worst chemicals known to man, most American farmers depend on optimal conditions while raising their crops and livestock that millions of people depend on to survive. But since farmers have trouble paying their bills, they’re a particular vulnerable lot. So it’s no surprise why these people would be willing to allow energy companies extract resources from their land, thinking it would help them economically as well as create jobs in the area. Most of the time these practices aren’t safe or sustainable and tend to create lasting environmental damage. It’s possible that they could contaminate water crops and livestock depend on as well as pollute the sky leading to acid rain. And then there’s climate change which not only is detrimental to agricultural production, but can also lead to natural disasters from flooding, drought, or infestation, which leads to starvation. Loss of arable land and water can create food shortages which will lead to food prices soaring. And it doesn’t help that we have a thing like bottled water either. If we want to protect our environment and combat hunger, then industrial agriculture must be more sustainable (like not farming in Southern California).
This is an infographic from Russia showing the observation and forecasts relating to global warming (or climate change). The graphs show how average global temperatures and sea levels have risen as well as how snow levels have fallen. Also, notice how global warming is likely to lead to more frequent and destructive natural disasters on the side.

This is an infographic from Russia showing the observation and forecasts relating to global warming (or climate change). The graphs show how average global temperatures and sea levels have risen as well as how snow levels have fallen. Also, notice how global warming is likely to lead to more frequent and destructive natural disasters on the side.

  1. Environmental degradation makes people more vulnerable to natural disasters.-Now despite how some of the most powerful Americans are climate change deniers with big bank accounts, it’s real, it’s manmade, it’s happening, and it’s a problem we need to be aware of. Sure it may not seem like the earth’s warming up, but even a small rise in average global temperatures can create a very significant impact on global climates. But even if climate change was just a hoax (which it’s not), we can’t ignore that humans can contribute to climate change within their surroundings. In fact, it’s already happened in history. Unsustainable agricultural practices led to catastrophic dust storms in the American heartland during the 1930s, which led to mass hunger, respiratory illness, and migration. And the only way it died down was implementing better farming methods like contour farming as well as leaving grass and foliage between the fields to prevent soil erosion. I’m sure climate change can be a factor in plenty of natural disasters in recent years. Oh, wait, it already has as Al Gore lists a variety of examples in his documentary An Inconvenient Truth. Nevertheless, while natural disasters are part of the natural order of things, climate change can make them even more catastrophic which can consist of severe heat waves, droughts, destructive hurricanes and severe storms, devastating wildfires, intense downpours and flooding, polar vortex blizzards and snowstorms, supertornadoes, and more. And these disasters tend to occur more frequently, which results in all kinds of hell breaking loose such as disease outbreaks, violence, displacement, starvation, widespread destruction, and other terrible calamities. Extreme weather conditions can make life hell for farmers who invest so much in their crops and livestock as well as depend on a stable environment to support their way of life. One major natural disaster could ruin everything, especially for subsistence farmers in Third World countries.
This is a picture of an explosion of an oil train derailment in West Virginia back in February of 2015. Now West Virginia is a prime area for environmental disasters since it's economy and government is basically owned by polluting industries as well as a large  population of poor people who can't say no regardless of political affiliation. As of 2015, the state is now a dumping ground for the American energy industry. Now for the people of this state, the debate over green energy may be a matter of life and death. And as long as polluting industry remains profitable, West Virginians are basically screwed. Seriously, it's very bad there.

This is a picture of an explosion of an oil train derailment in West Virginia back in February of 2015. Now West Virginia is a prime area for environmental disasters since it’s economy and government is basically owned by polluting industries as well as a large population of poor people who can’t say no regardless of political affiliation. As of 2015, the state is now a dumping ground for the American energy industry. Now for the people of this state, the debate over green energy may be a matter of life and death. And as long as polluting industry remains profitable, West Virginians are basically screwed. Seriously, it’s very bad there.

  1. Environmental disasters lead to more widespread and long lasting damage than natural disasters.-While more frequent and severe natural disasters can be a symptom of climate change, extreme weather doesn’t produce the worst disasters out there. This brings me to environmental disasters which are certainly manmade as well as have widespread and long-lasting ecological consequences, especially if the cause was human error. This was the case with Chernobyl, a disaster that released 400 times more radioactive material than the US bombing of Hiroshima as well as significantly contaminated 100,000 square kilometers of land with the worst hit regions among Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia. And the only reason why people outside the Soviet Union knew about it at the time was because a major release radioactive material was detected in Sweden. Now some environmental disasters can just be fallouts from any natural catastrophe such as the tsunami induced nuclear meltdown at Fukashima. But most of these are usually the result of Murphy’s Law that if anything can go wrong, it will. Not to mention, some of these can also result in the long term effects of pollution such as smog attacks. And these environmental disasters could range from invasive species, loss of biodiversity, industrial accidents, nuclear meltdowns, pollution, and what not. However the case may be, these can cause more damage than your typical natural disasters and are very difficult to clean up, if they could. Not to mention, environmentally-related illnesses are much harder to detect and treat as well as can be much more serious and fatal. Industrial accidents could make a whole town sick, poison the water supply, and then some. They’re a main reason why government needs to step in when it comes to environmental protection. Whenever a polluting industry comes into town, a whole community’s life can be held a risk and once something goes wrong, it can be a catastrophe.
Here's an infographic based from the UN Panel report on climate change illustrating how businesses impact climate and how the climate impacts business. All too often environmental health tends to be sacrificed for short term profit without any concern for the long term consequences ahead.

Here’s an infographic based from the UN Panel report on climate change illustrating how businesses impact climate and how the climate impacts business. All too often environmental health tends to be sacrificed for short term profit without any concern for the long term consequences ahead.

  1. Environmental degradation hurts the economy.-Conservatives love to discredit environmentalists by talking about how environmentalism hurts the economy and costs jobs. However, we have to understand that so many people depend on a clean environment for their livelihoods such as small businesses, farmers, service workers, fishermen, and people involved with the tourist industry. Environmental problems tend to hurt them in the process. Nevertheless, it’s very common for industries to ignore the long term consequences for short term profit with Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax being a perfect example of the harmful environmental effects of corporate greed. Sure the Once-ler got rich and created jobs, but he basically destroyed an entire ecosystem in the process by chopping down the Truffula trees for Thneeds. But the Once-ler still kept making money, right? Actually because the Once-ler didn’t practice sustainable lumber methods, he runs out of Truffula trees to cut down and sees his business empire crumble, his family headed for the hills, his company broke as well as his factory and city abandoned that he’s soon alone in a polluted wasteland regretting what he’s done. Not a happy story, but while the profits and jobs may be fleeting, the environmental damage remains and those who remain will have to put up with it in generations to come. And that’s not all. For instance, environmentally related illnesses can cause more employee absenteeism while disasters can result in property and infrastructure damage and mass migration. But both can lead to lost productivity and economic devastation. Not to mention, environmental disasters cost a fortune to clean up and it’s no surprise why companies don’t like paying for environmental damage (which is why so the cleanup bills for Exxon Valdez are paid by US taxpayers). A community does not have to sacrifice a pristine environment to benefit economically. An industry doesn’t cease to be profitable if it practices sustainable methods and observes EPA regulations.
John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath is a classic novel about a Depression-Era Oklahoma family of tenant farmers forced off their home due to adverse environmental conditions, economic hardship, and big agribusiness. They set out for California seeking a future only to find themselves doomed to a life as migrant farm workers. Sadly, this story really reflects many of the trials and tribulations many environmental refugees face all over the world. Made into a movie with Henry Fonda.

John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath is a classic novel about a Depression-Era Oklahoma family of tenant farmers forced off their home due to adverse environmental conditions, economic hardship, and big agribusiness. They set out for California seeking a future only to find themselves doomed to a life as migrant farm workers. Sadly, this story really reflects many of the trials and tribulations many environmental refugees face all over the world. Made into a movie with Henry Fonda.

  1. Environmental degradation leads to displacement and homelessness.-When a land ceases become habitable and economically viable, people will leave, sometimes in droves. However, there are times in environmental devastation when evacuation wasn’t an option like in the event of a nuclear meltdown, industrial accident, land and water contamination, and other disasters. For instance, irresponsible waste disposal practices caused widespread contamination at Love Canal, New York that everyone had to leave the town over 800 families in all. And it was one of hundreds of such incidences, some of which will never be known. The nuclear disaster at Chernobyl also resulted in mass evacuation that consisted of over 53,000 people, many of who were probably exposed to radiation and probably died of the effects. But when environmental problems cause displacement, there will always be those who have nowhere else to go possibly due to lack of relatives or wealth. And as a result, these displaced will either stay where they are regardless of what happens (which will make them poorer and sicker) or become homeless nomads wondering from place to place. Some might find a place to settle down but many will not which will result in many being either homeless or migrant workers. This is what happened to the Joads in John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath who didn’t have the EPA to reimburse them for the Dust Bowl. And many people who suffer from environmental displacement around the world won’t have that kind of reimbursement either and will have very difficult time starting a new life.
Environmental problems and natural resource depletion is a growing concern in the developing world with the unstable political systems they have as well as reside in places with a lot of endangered ecosystems and species. Environmental degradation may not be a sole source of conflict, but it can exacerbate it as well as make struggling for a lasting peace very difficult. And it doesn't help that these countries have a high poverty rate and very few opportunities available.

Environmental problems and natural resource depletion is a growing concern in the developing world with the unstable political systems they have as well as reside in places with a lot of endangered ecosystems and species. Environmental degradation may not be a sole source of conflict, but it can exacerbate it as well as make struggling for a lasting peace very difficult. And it doesn’t help that these countries have a high poverty rate and very few opportunities available.

  1. Environmental degradation can lead to war, civil unrest, and societal breakdown.-Social relations are a complex subject but there’s a reason why Al Gore was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize along with a UN panel on climate change. But the notion of climate change and the potential for conflict is a key concern in the developing world of political instability and the works. Environmental problems by themselves may rarely, if ever be the sole cause of violence. But natural resources and environmental factors are linked to violent conflicts and in a lot of ways obscured by more visible issues like ethnic tension and power politics. And this link doubles the risk of a conflict relapse in the first 5 years. Persistent poverty and weak resource management can also exacerbate security threats, especially in regions of political instability. Many of the conflicts in the Middle East are perfect examples of this since much of the areas are desert which make perfect areas for people scrambling over the few resources they have. Since 1990, exploitation of natural resources is said to fuel at least 18 conflicts. There are even theories that environmental factors like deforestation and unsustainable farming practices brought down great civilizations and empires. Environmental migrants and refugees may not always be welcome by their new neighbors either and are more susceptible for being victims of crime, especially if they don’t abide by any of the local customs.
God may have created the Earth for our benefit as well as other worlds with intelligent life. But even though it's very possible intelligent life may exist on other planets, they'd still be many lightyears away. So instead of hoping for an planetary savior we can live on, we should focus on caring for the planet we have.

God may have created the Earth for our benefit as well as other worlds with intelligent life. But even though it’s very possible intelligent life may exist on other planets, they’d still be many lightyears away. So instead of hoping for an planetary savior we can live on, we should focus on caring for the planet we have.

  1. The Earth is our only home.-Sure there may be intelligent life on other planets, but we haven’t contacted them yet. As far as we know, the nearest sight of intelligent life could be light years away. And I don’t think NASA necessarily has the funds to develop that technology but I don’t think it will be accessible for everyone. Of course, we could try terraforming Mars but I’m not sure how that will go. So let’s just say we need to protect the environment because earth is the only home we got and if it becomes uninhabitable, then we’re all doomed.
While conservatives and libertarians think it's perfectly all right to cut down a forest to make room for a chemical plant, they don't seem to get how future generations will have to deal with the ecological consequences even when the industry goes bust. There are much more important things than economic prosperity and jobs. And if I had a choice between the economy and the environment, I'd pick the environment every time. You don't need to pollute to make a buck. So why risk it?

While conservatives and libertarians think it’s perfectly all right to cut down a forest to make room for a chemical plant, they don’t seem to get how future generations will have to deal with the ecological consequences even when the industry goes bust. There are much more important things than economic prosperity and jobs. And if I had a choice between the economy and the environment, I’d pick the environment every time. You don’t need to pollute to make a buck. So why risk it?

  1. Environmental degradation does no favors for future generations.-Since earth is our only home, we have an obligation to protect the environment so that future generations may continue to live. Sure preserving the environment will not make you as rich as a big oil executive and may not create a lot of jobs. But, a lot of environmental degradation creates long term consequences which future generations have to live with whether it be a polluted river, a sky filled with smog, or contaminated land. It’s not right for one generation to leave their children a barren wasteland after they milked the land for all its worth especially if the area is uninhabitable or prone to harm them. Unsustainable extraction and use of our natural resources can set up future generations for ruin or a possible post apocalyptic future. Besides, if we’re willing to squander our children’s future for some short term profit, what does it say about us? Besides, think of the example we’re setting such as pursuing short term economic gains without any care for the long term environmental consequences. If we have to explain why letting polluting industry in our neighborhoods would help the economy despite what it did, I don’t think future generations would understand. Because if you can’t farm the land, drink the water, or breathe air, will economic benefit matter? Of course not for they’ll have bigger things to worry about. As US President Theodore Roosevelt said, “I recognize the right and duty of this generation to develop and use our natural resources, but I do not recognize the right to waste them, or rob by wasteful use, the generations that come after us.”
While West Virginia's people aren't being subject to the notable environmental disaster, their state is losing its natural Appalachian Mountain heritage due to the coal companies' practice of mountaintop removal.  These lofty mountains inspired the John Denver hit,

While West Virginia’s people aren’t being subject to the notable environmental disaster, their state is losing its natural Appalachian Mountain heritage due to the coal companies’ practice of mountaintop removal. These lofty mountains inspired the John Denver hit, “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” which has been recently made West Virginia’s state song last year. It’s very sad that these iconic majesties have to be reduced in the name of short term profit for energy industries.

  1. Environmental degradation ruins creation’s natural beauty.-While nature is supposed to support life and provide resources for all the earth’s creatures, countless generations have enjoyed the natural beauty that wilderness had to offer. And there are many sacred traditions who view their lands as sacred to their culture such as the Native Americans. So much so in America that the National Park Service was set up to preserve natural areas that would’ve otherwise been lost to industrial development. The loss of Hetch Hetchy to a dam development was a result of this, to John Muir’s dismay as he called it “God’s Golden Temple.” And recently, an Apache holy site in the American Southwest was sold to a British Australian mining company. Not to mention, a lot of the Appalachian Mountains in West Virginia are being destroyed by the coal mining companies’ use of mountaintop removal, which pisses off many people in that state with more than its fair share of environmental problems. Sometime they could also lose their beauty as people use the site for tourist traps. As protected wilderness areas, these national parks can be enjoyed by everyone. However, this doesn’t save them from possible environmental threats such as climate change, loss of biodiversity, and other problems. Nevertheless, many of these areas are still seen as part of the American heritage and most believe they should have government protection so future generations can enjoy them as their parents have admired for their beauty and magnificence. If they are lost, then they’re lost forever. You can restoring a forest but it will never be the same, especially if some of the original species become extinct. Sure economic libertarians tend think that whatever’s useful and profitable is beneficial to society, but that mindset tends to lead to a lot of destruction of so many natural wonders as well as places of cultural and historic significance.
This is an infographic on greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change, derived from the International Panel on Climate Change's assessment report of 2010. Seems the highest carbon offenders tend to be from energy, industry, and transportation. It's no surprise that executives of American and multinational energy and industry companies tend to be the most vocal deniers of climate change as well as most environmental problems in general.

This is an infographic on greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change, derived from the International Panel on Climate Change’s assessment report of 2010. Seems the highest carbon offenders tend to be from energy, industry, and transportation. It’s no surprise that executives of American and multinational energy and industry companies tend to be the most vocal deniers of climate change as well as most environmental problems in general.

  1. Those who deny the significance of environmental issues usually do so out of political or financial self-interest.– Let’s face it, most people who don’t see environmental issues as a major problem has more to do with political or financial self-interest. And when it comes to the companies of these free market worshiping libertarian conservatives, they’re more likely to be responsible for environmental disasters as well as not take any responsibility for them. Now the Koch brothers are a perfect example of these climate denying Rich Uncle Pennybags types because they own large multinational corporations that contribute a lot of pollution. And these selfish bastards will call their army of lawyers so they won’t pay for the damages. They also are lobbying for governments to loosen their environmental regulations so they can get away with polluting more as well as go to great lengths to justify their actions. It also doesn’t help that many of them have operations in foreign and poorer countries, which cause even more devastation on communities. Take Shell’s business in Nigeria for instance. In the US, these rich guys’ influence is so powerful that so many Americans deny climate change, especially on the American Right and on the extremist Fox News Channel, a news network that makes pay per view porn look like something off of PBS. And it’s because Congress is so jammed packed with Republican climate change denying nuts that any meaningful environmental protection can’t be passed at the federal level. Denial and refusing to take responsibility on environmental problems is a problem that needs to be eliminated by any means necessary. Sure we should leave the science to the scientists, but whenever there’s a consensus of scientists who state that there’s an environmental crisis, we should take it very seriously. Unfortunately, scientists don’t run governments nor do they have loads of cash to contribute, which explains a lot about American politics on the matter. This isn’t just a liberal issue or even a political issue. It’s a moral issue and one that affects people’s lives in very big ways. The fact environmental issues have been politicized and seen controversial over the years has to end. Because if both political factions can’t come to a consensus that environmental problems matter and need action, nothing will ever be solved. I know ratting on the rich may not be a cool thing to do in the United States but we need to understand that the heads of polluting industries like the Koch brothers are part of the problem, especially since the Citizens United ruling in 2009.
This is from an infographic from 2013 that shows the kinds of species that are threatened with extinction as well as the loss of genetic diversity in our fisheries and farms. Let's just say this is pretty disheartening when it comes to the world's turtles and other creatures. Loss of species and biodiversity is one environmental problem that can't be remedied. And sometimes the loss of one species can doom a whole ecosystem.

This is from an infographic from 2013 that shows the kinds of species that are threatened with extinction as well as the loss of genetic diversity in our fisheries and farms. Let’s just say this is pretty disheartening when it comes to the world’s turtles and other creatures. Loss of species and biodiversity is one environmental problem that can’t be remedied. And sometimes the loss of one species can doom a whole ecosystem.

  1. We have no concept of the strength of Mother Nature.-Sure nature can be quite resilient if need be but ecosystems can be fragile things at the same time. Sometimes when you remove or introduce one species, you can basically wreck the whole system and possibly change the landscape. Take the wolves out of Yellowstone National Park and the elk population will be sick and all the flora will be consumed. Bring the wolves back and the park will be restored again to its former beauty since wolves tend to prey the sick, weak, very young, or very old. Sure predators may eat other animals, but they’re essential to ecosystems as well as benefit people in some cases. Playing with nature has unintended consequences, many of which aren’t beneficial either to humans or other living things. For instance, all those dam projects during the 1930s might’ve brought a lot of electricity, water, and prosperity to millions. But it also hurt entire ecosystems, dried up rivers, and created water shortages. Now combined with climate change, these projects are now coming to bite the American West in the ass.

I’m Sorry, Marcellus Shale, but Fracking Just Isn’t Safe

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It’s been a long time since I posted anything that had anything remotely to do with politics and social issues, but I think this would be just as a good time as any, especially since this relates to an issue close to my home. As a lifelong resident of Southwestern Pennsylvania, I’m all too familiar about natural gas drilling of the Marcellus Shale. In fact, I still remember when the leasing and gas drilling began in my area around my senior year in high school. Yet, the issue regarding the drilling of Marcellus Shale didn’t come to the forefront until my later years in college. While natural gas companies and a lot of government figures swear by every word that the drilling for natural gas in Pennsylvania has benefited the state economy and created jobs for people in this state. Furthermore, they say that natural gas gives us energy independence from foreign oil.

However, I have yet to see any economic progress or at least the growth that benefits my area or my life. While there’s been a lot of drilling in my area, I can’t say that anyone who’s leased has become in any way rich. Not to mention, as of 2014, Pennsylvania is the only state in the entire country not to enact a tax on natural gas. Sure nobody likes taxes but I see a a lot of unfairness with gas companies being free to lease land and drill on Pennsylvania land at no cost to them. This was particularly true when the constant weight of large gas trucks caused small creek bridge to collapse on my road. It wasn’t repaired until a little over a year later, which is no surprise to me since my road isn’t on PenDOT’s high priority list. Now Western Pennsylvania is no stranger to adverse road conditions due to rugged terrain, temperate climate, and high precipitation rates. Yet, there’s no doubt in my mind that the gas trucks were responsible for a bridge collapse on my road. But, all the repair costs were paid by Pennsylvania taxpayers who are required to do so, not the tax-exempted gas companies. Now I’ve heard that a Marcellus gas tax would threaten the industry in the area. Yet, I think Pennsylvania should tax the gas companies on the basic premise that if a company wants to use state land and infrastructure, then it should pay a tax like everyone else in Pennsylvania. As for jobs, while I know many people in the area who’ve leased their land for drilling, I don’t know anyone in my neck of the woods who works the drilling sites. And it’s said that many employees are from out of state.

Yet, my biggest gripe with the Marcellus Shale drilling in my neck of the woods is the process of hydraulic fracturing, especially through horizontal drilling. Now fracking is a well stimulation technique in which gallons of highly pressurized fluids (usually a mix between water and chemicals) are pumped into a well to fracture deep rock formations. This process allows oil and gas flow more freely. And when pressure is removed, small grains of fracking proppants hold the fractures open once the deep rock stabilize so the well’s contents can be extracted indefinitely.

Here's a graphic illustration on how hydraulic fracturing works.

Here’s a graphic illustration on how hydraulic fracturing works in the Marcellus Shale drilling scheme.

Now fracking is a highly controversial practice, no less so in Pennsylvania. Sure it may allow more accessible hydrocarbons which is good for the economy but at what cost? Gas companies may reap the royalties but people still have to live near where these wells are drilled. Not only that, but a lot of drilling takes place on agricultural land, which I can personally attest to since I live near a few farms. Thus, as someone who lives near a few drill sites, I don’t see any reason why I shouldn’t be environmentally concerned. After all, even when the wells run dry, I still have to live in the area. And if I decide to move out, then so would my parents and grandparents. So yes, I think I do have the right to know whether fracking is safe or not. But do I believe fracking is safe? Absolutely not.

Since drilling on the Marcellus Shale began in the later 2000s, there have been a lot environmental concerns such as water contamination, fresh water depletion, air quality degradation, earthquake risks, noise pollution, surface pollution, and other possible impacts on wildlife and human health. Not to mention, I’m familiar with at least the noise pollution aspect since shale drilling typically goes on 24/7 and yes, it’s noisy as hell. Not to mention, each site has bright lights during the night, which may cause light pollution as well. And I can verify the bit about that fracking uses 1-8 million gallons of water per operation (plus thousands of gallons containing chemical additives), which would create the need for 400 tanker trucks to transport it. Thus, leading to a lot of road damage and a collapsed bridge that won’t be repaired until the following year. Since tanker trucks use a lot of diesel, how I could occasionally smell the gas during some of my morning walks, the occasional sight of burning flame on a drilling tower, and the fact a lot of gas well explosions were reported on the news, I might want to add air pollution (though it’s unclear to what extent) and global warming from carbon emissions. Not to mention, I’d like to include deforestation to the impact list as well since I’ve witnessed a large chunk of trees cut down to make way for a drilling pad and other infrastructure like pipelines and compressor stations. As far as I know, gas drilling causes all these things, which may lead to wildlife devastation and a toll on human health.

Then there’s the water contamination factor, which is the biggest concern of all. We know well that fracking uses a lot of water that’s mixed with chemical proppants injected deep within the earth’s surface. Yet, there’s considerable debate on these chemical additives are and whether they’re harmful, whether the flowback waste water could be properly disposed or treated, and whether the fluid or methane is contaminating sources of fresh drinking water. Not to mention, there’s the question of whether a frack conducted in the optimal situation can pose potential harm to the water sources. And do these gas companies perform these fracking operations with health and safety in mind? If not, then how often do these bad practices occur? There have been a lot of reports and studies pertaining to groundwater contamination due to fracking. Yet, we’re not sure if such contamination is due to drilling near old industrial developments, normal drilling side affects, or just bad business practices. However, the reason there’s so many unreliable research studies on this is because they’re funded by agencies that are trying to make people see the situation their own way. Those who say that fracking is safe are most likely funded by the companies themselves. Others that don’t say it’s safe may possibly be funded by environmental groups.

Here's a photo of what a typical natural gas drill pad looks like. Now drilling and fracking operations have the tendency to take days at a time.

Here’s a photo of what a typical natural gas drill pad looks like during a drilling and fracking operation. Now drilling and fracking operations have the tendency to take days at a time.

However, I can tell you one thing. When it comes to believing either the gas companies and environmentalists, I’m more likely to side with the latter. Sure gas companies may say that fracking is safe and will go through great lengths to prove it. Yet, since they tend to make money off gas drilling, they’ll tell you that fracking is safe even if there’s irrefutable evidence to the contrary. In other words, you can’t trust them. And in the United States, it doesn’t help that fracking fluid recipes are allowed to be treated as trade secrets by the companies who use them. Now this doesn’t increase my confidence, especially if the environment and health at stake. Though some companies have disclosed, not all of them have. And those who have may not be the most reliable. Yet, a congressional committee report from 2011 states that fracking fluid contains 2,500 proppants with more than 650 of them listed as either known or possible carcinogens under the Safe Drinking Water Act or hazardous air pollutants.

Even if fracking is safe under optimal conditions, there are many things that could go wrong in the natural gas drilling pad during the process. And one small mistake can spell environmental disaster for the community. A well can allow natural gas migrate up and out of the rock into water or basements. While leaking methane is potent greenhouse gas, it’s also a potential safety hazard. Then there’s the casing factor (or cement sheath that surrounds the newly drilled well). Casings improperly made could cause the gas migrating along the outside or possibly leave cracks in the sheath. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), 6,466 wells were issued 219 violations notices from 2008 to 2013, accounting for roughly 3% of all wells. Still, the DEP still didn’t find any evidence of groundwater contamination from methane leaks. Of course, knowing it came from 2013, I’m not surprised that they’d say this since the department head was a Tom Corbett appointee (and Corbett was known to receive $1 million from the gas companies for his 2010 gubernatorial campaign). However, the 2009 Dimock incident has demonstrated that it certainly can, especially if it leads to someone’s water well exploding. Not to mention, the other 209 times oil and gas operations damaged water supplies from that same time period according to a DEP account reported in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Yet, since Pennsylvania isn’t the most environmentally friendly state, to say that fracking causes groundwater contamination is difficult to say, from a scientific standpoint anyway. This is because baseline data for groundwater conditions before drilling isn’t publicly available (and mostly collected by the gas companies themselves). Not only that, but some states like Pennsylvania, don’t have good groundwater monitoring because it’s not required by law.

If it’s not the groundwater contamination through methane leakage and explosions, then it’s through the fracking fluid itself. Now mixing a lot of chemicals in millions of water gallons isn’t a great environmental practice, especially if the proppants are toxic. However, not all fracking fluid comes in exactly flows out with estimates varying between 5-90% of fluid remaining in the ground. While much of the tainted water is found far beneath the Marcellus Shale and groundwater supplies (as far as we know), there have been reports of contaminated groundwater at shallow well sites in West Virginia and Wyoming. Water that does come back (called, “flowback”) is stored on these large pits until it can be transported through a waste water facility or disposed of at an EPA-licensed disposal well. It’s said that less than 10% of the water is evaporated, reused, used for irrigation, or discharged to surface streams through an NPDES permit. Most Marcellus Shale wells are said to absorb most of the water pumped into them. But an article from Scientific American predicts that these wells will soon begin to produce water carrying toxic and possibly radioactive contaminants leached from surrounding rock as well as lots of salt. This is already happening in Pennsylvania’s waterways and if the state decides to evaporate this water, then it would have to deal with how to get rid of 10 million tons of salt left over.

This is what a typical natural gas drilling site under fracking operations looks like at night. Now such operations go on 24/7 until completion so that means locals have to deal with blaring bright lights and noise all through the night.

This is what a typical natural gas drilling site under fracking operations looks like at night. Now such operations go on 24/7 until completion so that means locals have to deal with blaring bright lights and noise all through the night.

Nevertheless, the waste pits on drill sites usually store flowback water in the open air where it can poison unsuspecting wildlife or evaporate into the atmosphere untreated, possibly leading to acid rain. These can be as large as football fields. Now these can also be prone to accidental spillage with its contents possibly finding their way to a nearby stream or perhaps seeping into the groundwater. And it doesn’t help that most drilling takes place on farms which can lead to poor soil and damaged crops. There was even a case in Pennsylvania in which cows had to be quarantined over waste water leak on a farm as well a leak that contaminated a community’s drinking water in Washington County. Luckily, waste water pits aren’t always present every drill pad you see.

The most dominant method of fracking flowback disposal in all areas but Pennsylvania is underground injection, which is basically dumping the water back where it came from. In Pennsylvania, this isn’t possible due to geology and regulations so the water is treated and reused. Yet, it’s said this won’t last forever. Not to mention, there have been instances illegal flowback dumping reported in Ohio, Virginia, and California that might also contaminate local waterways and drinking supplies as well. And while some fracking flowback gets treated and reused (mostly in Pennsylvania), the EPA says that most water treatment works in the country aren’t set up to treat it. In Pennsylvania, such method is common practice for years but the volume greatly expanded with the Marcellus Shale boom. Some treatment plants may not even be equipped to handle some of the fracking fluid’s more toxic components. And when water treatment plants may treat some of the fracking water, it can’t always treat it all. Thus, this leads to some of the water being discharged to rivers, lakes, streams, and drinking supply.

Here's a rough diagram from Gasland on how fracking can affect the environment. This can pertain to chemicals getting into the water supply in particular.

Here’s a rough diagram from Gasland on how fracking can affect the environment. This can pertain to chemicals getting into the water supply in particular.

I know that environmentalists have their own agendas and sometimes exaggerate their claims. But despite some inaccuracies, there are some things that even the noted anti-fracking film Gasland can’t make up. Even though a fracking disaster may happen on one of those rare occasions, that doesn’t mean it won’t happen in your neck of the woods. Not only that, and just because the gas drilling companies may take every precaution to ensure their fracking operations do any harm, doesn’t mean that mistakes can be made or something can (or will) go terribly wrong. Even if those disasters only happen less than 10% of the time, that doesn’t me we shouldn’t worry about them. And when it does, the environmental consequences are devastating. Now even if fracking doesn’t cause water contamination doesn’t mean it’s perfectly safe since the process can at least affect the air quality during the operations, which is a fact we can’t ignore.

Let’s face it, natural gas may be a cleaner fuel than coal but that doesn’t mean that it’s a eco friendly. In fact, it’s a fossil fuel just like any form of energy you get from the ground and emits carbon emissions that contribute to global warming. Nor can we say that it’s extraction process is environmentally safe either since fracking still pollutes and can still do considerable harm on local wildlife and human health. And though the gas companies may say fracking is perfectly safe, this doesn’t mean that they’re willing to share information on what’s in their fracking fluid or any baseline data on groundwater conditions before drilling ever took place. Thus, you just simply can’t take their word for it. Well, I don’t know about anyone else, but from what I’ve seen, heard, wrote, and read, I just have no confidence that fracking is safe under any circumstances. I know fracking is here to stay and there’s nothing I can do about for now. And despite that I’ve heard how Marcellus Shale drilling helps Pennsylvania, I just don’t think the risk contaminating millions of gallons of fresh water all for extracting natural gas is worth it. If there was a greener way, I would probably be more compliant but until there is, I can’t see any way I can support such measures. So sorry, Marcellus Shale, but I just don’t see it.

Flowers You Wouldn’t Want in Your Garden (Other than Weeds)

flower-garden-birdhouse

Spring and summer are great times for flowers since they’re seen as pretty and sweet smelling so it’s no wonder we put them in vases, use them as decoration for special occasions, and bestow on people as gifts saying, “I love you,” “Congratulations,” or “Get well soon.” Flower gardens are at their ultimate splendor during this time of year. Of course, many people do have pollen allergies but we don’t talk about that except on commercials for allergy medicine. Then you have flowers like dandelions, clover, and other wildflowers that are pleasing out on the road but many would consider weeds in a conventional flower garden, especially an English flower garden to be exact. Still, we have to accept the fact that not all flowers are the beautiful sweet smellers we all know and love. Let’s say there are several varieties of flowers and while most are of the conventional variety, there are some that smell bad, are ugly and/or creepy, are poisonous to humans and animals,  cause a lot of ecological destruction as an invasive species, and just don’t make good additions to a beautiful flower garden for some reason. And it’s not because they’re weeds for despite their tendency to meet the Roundup Grim Reaper or the lawn mower, many of these wild flowers can still be seen as beautiful or allergenic. So without further ado, here are the flowers you don’t want in your garden and it’s not that they take other nutrients away from your perennials.

1. Titan Arum

titan_arum_sized

Scientific Name: Amorphophallus titanium.

Native to: The rainforests of Sumatra in Indonesia

Desirable Features: Well, it’s a big flower with a massive bloom sometimes purple in color (since my favorite color is purple, this is a great thing).

Why wouldn’t you want it: This is known as one of the worst smelling flowers in the world that it’s one of two species nicknamed “the corpse flower” because it smells like a rotting, stinking corpse. While such an aroma would be considered heavenly by its principal pollinators consisting of flies and beetles (which lay their eggs on dead things), a flower smelling of rotting meat isn’t going to allow a man get laid on Valentines Day unless his date’s a botanist. Thankfully it blooms once every 4 to 6 years on average and its bloom only lasts a day or two.

 

2. Eastern Skunk Cabbage

Symplocarpus_foetidus_in_Mount_Nōgōhaku_2

Scientific Name: Symplocarpus foetidus.

Native to: The wetlands of Eastern North America from as North of Nova Scotia, to as west as Minnesota and as south as North Carolina and Tennessee.

Desirable Features: It has desirable foliage, a purple bloom, as well as medicinal properties which have been used to treat asthma, epilepsy, coughs, and rheumatism. So if you’re stuck in the woods away from civilization in Eastern North America, this would be a great flower to have at your disposal.

Why you wouldn’t want it: What gives this flower’s designation as “Eastern Skunk Cabbage” is that it gives away a bloom akin to a roadkill skunk. Such odor is desirable for potential pollinating flies but not for anyone else. It also doesn’t help that this flower is capable of thermogenesis (keeping itself warm), which not only lets it to bloom when there’s snow on the ground but also attract its pollinators by mimicking the heat generated by a fresh corpse. So unless you’re an asthmatic stuck near a wetland away from civilization in Eastern North America (or a botanist, naturally), you don’t want this.

 

3.The Rafflesia

Rafflesia_arnoldi_2013-12-31_21-48

Scientific Name: Rafflesia arnoldii. Genus has 27 other species.

Native to: The rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra in Indonesia. It’s one of Indonesia’s natural flowers where it’s a protected species.

Desirable Features: Has an impressive and beautiful bloom and produces the largest individual flower on earth.

Why you wouldn’t want it: Like Titan Arum, it’s also nicknamed, “the corpse flower” because it smells like a rotting corpse designed to attract flies to pollinate it (its red color also helps attract fly pollinators as well, since no one likes the repulsive smell of decaying flesh like a fly). Also, it’s considered a parasitic plant that lacks roots, stems, and leaves as well as doesn’t produce chlorophyll or photosynthesize. Rather it receives nutrients from a host plant (something that gardeners don’t want). Fortunately this flower dies after flowering for 5 days yet it’s seen as a rare species since a successful pollination for these flowers is a rare event in itself.

 

4. Hydnora Africana

Scientific Name: Same as regular name.

hydnoraafricana_sized

Native to: Southern Africa particularly the semi-arid regions.

Desirable Features: Heard their seeds and fruit are delicious as well as used for tanning leather and preserving fishing nets. Also used to treat diarrhea, dysentery, kidney and bladder complaints, and acne.

Why you wouldn’t want it: Due to it being a parasitic plant that only grows underground until flower, it’s no wonder it resembles a creature you’d see from the movie Tremors (that or female genitalia). Also, since the dung beetle is its choice pollinator, it gives an odor that smells like shit.

 

5. Bulbophyllum Phalaenopsis

bulbophyllum_sized

Scientific Name: Same as regular name. Also part of a large genus of orchid.

Native to: New Guinea.

Desirable Features: Well, it’s an orchid and has a pretty color.

Why you wouldn’t want it: It’s a carrion flower known to smell like dead mice to attract flies. And there are many in its genus that smell like rotting flesh as well. So unless you’re an avid orchid collector or botanist, you probably wouldn’t want this in your flower garden.

 

6.Dead Horse Arum

Dracunculus_muscivorus

Scientific Name: Helicodiceros muscivorus.

Native to: Corsica, Sardinia, and the Baleric Islands.

Desirable Features: Well, it’s considered an ornamental plant and has a nice bloom.

Why you wouldn’t want it: Let’s just say it’s called a “Dead Horse Arum” because it’s said to smell like a dead horse to attract flies as pollinators. Doesn’t help that these flowers bloom on bright sunny days so the aroma can spread everywhere like a field freshly spread with manure. This basically ruins the enjoyment of any flower garden in such atmosphere. Also, exhibits thermogenesis.

 

7. Stapelia Gigantean

stapelia_gigantea_sized

Scientific Name: Same as regular name.

Native to: South Eastern Africa.

Desirable Features: Has a mesmerizing, fuzzy bloom which has enjoyed its share of cultivators.

Why you wouldn’t want it: Despite its beauty, it smells like rotting flesh to lure in flies. Culivators are generally advised to keep this plant outdoors so the fresh air could dilute the odor. So fellas, unless your girlfriend cultivates these plants or is a botanist, don’t give her this for Valentines Day.

 

8. The Voodoo Lily

dracunculus_vulgaris_sized

Scientific Name: Dracunculus vulgaris.

Native to: Greece, the Balkans, the Aegean Islands, and the southwest Turkey.

Desirable Features: It’s widely distributed and cultivated because of its stunning beauty. Not to mention, it can withstand drought.

Why you wouldn’t want it: It’s a carrion flower that smells like rotting flesh to attract flies. Fortunately its stench lasts for about a day. Also, all parts of the plant are considered poisonous so and touching the plant could trigger skin irritation or an allergic reaction.

 

9. Birthwort

DSCN9023

Scientific Name: Aristolochia gigantean. It’s genus has varieties of 500 species in diverse climates.

Native to: Brazil.

Desirable Features: Well, it’s purple and has a spectacular bloom. As an ornamental plant it’s notable as being hardy. Said to help heal wounds but little else and it’s not worth taking.

Why you wouldn’t want it: For one, it gives a foul odor of rotting flesh to attract flies. Second, many of the flowers in this genus are seen as rather ugly. Third, while it’s been seen as an herbal medicine for centuries (especially in China), it’s a very poisonous plant linked to severe renal and kidney disease as well as cancer. Unfortunately, it continues to be used as an herbal remedy.

 

10. The Opium Poppy

Opium Poppy

Scientific Name: Papaver somniferum.

Native to: Asia and the Middle East.

Desirable Features: Well, it’s a medicinal plant as well as used for painkillers and is known for its ornamental beauty. Also, produces seeds which could be used as a condiment for many baked goods like buns and bagels.

Why you wouldn’t want it: Despite its beauty, this flower has a controversial reputation. It has an ambiguous legal status in the United States in which you can’t raise it for cultivation at a large agricultural scale without a license and only for medicinal purposes. Of course, reasons are obvious since these plants are a known source of heroin and other opiates. Still, this beauty managed to cause all sorts of problems throughout history and there’s no stopping it. I mean Great Britain managed to get Chinese people hooked on recreational opium during its empire days, which resulted in two wars. Ditto the War on Drugs in the US. As to why inner city drug lords don’t get into opium poppy cultivation, I don’t have the slightest idea.

 

11. Western Skunk Cabbage

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Scientific Name: Lysichiton americanus.

Native to: Wetlands in the Pacific Northwest.

Desirable Features: It’s a beautiful yellow flower with great foliage. Can be used as a laxative as well as for sores and swellings but only in small quantities and its waxy leaves could be used for food preparation and storage.

Why you wouldn’t want it: While it doesn’t smell of rotting flesh, there’s a reason why it’s called the “Western Skunk Cabbage.” Since it attracts beetles and flies, it’s odor is akin to skunk spray even in old dried specimens. So if you came home from a hiking trip smelling like a skunk despite not seeing one, perhaps this flower may be a reason. Also, using too much of this plant as medicine can result in death.

 

12.Castor Oil Plant

RICINUS COMMUNIS RED GIANT

Scientific Name: Ricinus communis.

Native to: The Southeastern Mediterranean Basin, Eastern Africa, and India.

Desirable Features: Has long been used as a medicinal plant as castor oil which has other uses (yet don’t consume it in its natural state). Also has lovely leaves and pink flowers.

Why you wouldn’t want it: It’s been listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most poisonous plant and produce ricin. On milligram of its poison could kill a human adult. Its pink pom-pom flowers are especially dangerous to children. Also, the KGB used this plant’s poison to silence opposition permanently.

 

13. Nepenthes Truncata

Nepenthes truncata on exhibit 2

Scientific Name: Same as regular name though it is a pitcher plant.

Native to: The Philippines.

Desirable Features: Well, if you have problems with insects and vermin, I’m sure this carnivorous plant could come in handy.

Why you wouldn’t want it: For one, it’s ugly and probably smells of rotten meat to attract its prey. Second, the fact its known to eat small mammals is rather unsettling, especially since its process to dissolve such animals in digestive enzymes has been seen.

 

14. Belladonna

Atropa_belladonna_003.3

Scientific Name: Atropa belladonna.

Native to: Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East.

Desirable Features: It produces pretty purple flowers.

Why you wouldn’t want it: This flower is highly poisonous and has been used in one of the worst beauty trends in history in which women used the berries to dilate their pupils. Symptoms include, sensitivity to light, blurred vision, slow or fast pulse, loss of balance, staggering, headache, rash, flushing, dry mouth, slurred speech, urinary retention, constipation, confusion, as well as convulsions and death. Though it has been long used as an herbal medicine and homeopathic drug, there’s insufficient scientific evidence to recommend its use. Also known to kill a lot of Roman Emperors.

 

15. White Snakeroot

snakeroot

Scientific Name: Ageratina altissima.

Native to: The US Appalachian Mountains.

Desirable Features: Has lovely white flowers and has roots that can be used for medicinal purposes.

Why you wouldn’t want it: It’s a highly poisonous plant known to contain tremetol which led to the highly fatal milk sickness known to kill thousands of American settlers in the early 19th century, possibly including the mother of a US president.

 

16. Water Hemlock

wfshl-waterhemlock-01a

Scientific Name: Cicuta bulbifera. There are 3 other species for this genus though.

Native to: North America.

Desirable Features: It’s flowers look very similar to Queen Anne’s Lace but bigger.

Why you wouldn’t want it: According to the USDA, it’s considered as the most toxic plant in North America with its stalks containing full of the a sap containing cicutoxin. Ingesting a small amount of this could affect the central nervous system and cause seizures as well as bring death within 15 minutes. It’s also deadly to the touch even when dried. Most poisonings occurred due to confusion between these plants and other edible look-alikes, particularly from the Parsley family.  Those who survive may develop long term health conditions like amnesia.

 

17. Elephant Foot Yam

amorphophallus

Scientific Name: Amorphophallus paeoniifolius.

Native to: Southeast Asia.

Desirable Features: It has big purple leaves and is used as a cash crop in Southeast Asian countries. Elephant foot yams are used in cuisine as well as in medicine. Can be grown in areas that may seem unsuitable for crops.

Why you wouldn’t want it: It’s nickname is “the stink lily” because it smells like a corpse to attract flies. Also, it’s kind of ugly as well.

 

18. Black Bat Flower

BlackBatFlower

Scientific Name: Tacca chantrieri.

Native to: Southeast Asia and Southern China.

Desirable Features: Well, it’s not poisonous or smells bad. Also, it’s considered a collector’s item since it’s extremely rare.

Why you wouldn’t want it: This is one of the creepiest flowers ever in existence and is sure to inspire nightmares. So unless you love Halloween, are related to the Munsters or the Addams Family, or live in a dark castle on a hill or some other spooky residence, then this flower isn’t for you. Also, it’s a bitch to cultivate since it needs a lot of water and prefers high humidity so it would maybe work in my area but I’m not sure about the Munsters (since they live in California).

 

19. Dracula Orchid

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Scientific Name: Dracula sergioi. Has 118 species in its genus.

Native to: Central and South America.

Desirable Features: Well, it’s an orchid and it’s rare in the US. Also, it’s harmless.

Why you wouldn’t want it: Well, if there’s a flower named after Dracula, chances are it’s either very dangerous or very scary looking. This one resembles some sci-fi alien monster with a piranha like mouth. So if you aren’t into scary movies, then you probably don’t want this in your garden.

 

20. Monk’s Hood

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Scientific Name: Aconitum carmichaelii. Genus has over 250 species.

Native to: East Asia.

Desirable Features: Well, a lot of these flowers are in a beautiful shade of purple and yellow.

Why you wouldn’t want it: It contains large quantities of pseudocontitine  or actonite which is a deadly poison. It’s no wonder that many cultures used this plant to poison their arrows, so they’d be much more lethal. Consuming this flower can lead to nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea followed by burning, tingling, numbness of face, mouth, and abdomen. When consumed in large quantities, leads to instant death. Still, you probably remember this plant from Harry Potter as an ingredient in the Wolfsbane potion; you know what Snape made for Lupin during that special time of the month. Of course, it’s no wonder he got sick from it. Also, used as Hannah McKay’s killing method of choice on Dexter.

 

21. Oleander

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Scientific Name: Nerium oleander.

Native to: The Mediterranean region, most likely.

Desirable Features: It smells sweet and has beautiful pink flowers with petals being crimson, magenta, or creamy white. Also, a rather hardy plant that could withstand drought.

Why you wouldn’t want it: It’s one of the most toxic plants in the world and every part of this flower is incredibly poisonous if ingested. In fact, even inhaling one burning is seen as a health threat and even honey derived from its nectar could kill you. A single leaf could kill a child. Most of its human victims are campers who used this flower’s branches to roast marshmallows and hotdogs (well, according to urban legend). Symptoms of poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, excess salivation, abdominal pain, irregular heart rate, drowsiness, tremors, siezures, and coma.

 

22. Henbane

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Scientific Name: Hyoscyamus niger.

Native to: Eurasia.

Desirable Features: Well, it’s a nice looking flower.

Why you wouldn’t want it: For one it has a foul odor which is the reason it’s known as “stinking nightshade.” Second, all parts of this plant are considered highly poisonous in low doses. Symptoms ingesting it include visual hallucinations, dilated pupils, restlessness, flushed skin, vomiting, slow and fast pulse, hyperpyrexia and ataxia.

 

23. Poison Hemlock

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Scientific Name: Conium maculatum. There’s another species in this genus from Southern Africa. Also, don’t confuse it with the tree which is a different species entirely.

Native to: Europe and the Mediterranean.

Desirable Features: Resembles a bit like Queen Anne’s Lace.

Why you wouldn’t want it: This flower is extremely poisonous and ingesting small doses could cause respiratory collapse, muscular paralysis, and death. Retains poisonous properties when dried and is deadly to the touch. The famous Greek philosopher Socrates was condemned to death by drinking this. Second, because it’s poisonous, it could infest large pastures and open waste areas earning its invasive status.

 

24. Hemlock Water Dropwort

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Scientific Name: Oenanthe Crocata. Genus has another species.

Native to: Europe and the Mediterranean.

Desirable Features: Resembles a bit like Queen Anne’s Lace. Leaves pose no danger.

Why you wouldn’t want it: Despite its beauty, this is an extremely toxic plant (considered the most toxic plant in the UK), especially the stem and roots. A single root from this could kill a cow and human fatalities are known. It’s considered especially dangerous due to its resemblance to Chinese celery, Japanese wild celery, and it doesn’t help it shares the same genus.

 

25. Yellow Jasmine

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Scientific Name: Gelsemium sempervirens.

Native to: Southeastern US, Mexico, and Central America. State flower of South Carolina.

Desirable Features: Pretty yellow flowers and is sometimes used as an herbal medicine (when used right).

Why you wouldn’t want it: All parts of this plant contain the toxic strychnine alkaloids gelsemine and gelseminine, which is fatal to honeybees (and even more reason you wouldn’t want it in your garden, especially since there have reports of colony collapse disorder. Let’s just say any flower that’s fatally toxic to honeybees should never be used in a flower garden ever). Children have been poisoned sucking its nectar after mistaking it for honeysuckle and it can cause skin irritation in sensitive individuals.

 

26. Crown Vetch

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Scientific Name: Securigera varia.

Native to: Africa, Asia, and Europe.

Desirable Features: Well, it has pretty pink flowers and is used in the US and Canada as erosion control, roadside planting, and soil rehabilitation. I see this flower all the time when I’m on walks. Grows in most environments and provides good forage for deer and elk during the winter as well as good nesting grounds for birds. Rabbits use this plant for food and cover.

Why you wouldn’t want it: Of course, this is coming from an American perspective but in many US states they’re considered an invasive species or noxious weeds. In fact, many Americans consider this a weed. It’s a tough and aggressive spreading plant that will crowd out its neighbors in a show garden and is very hard to eradicate once established. So if you live in the US, don’t plant this unless you’re legally obligated to do so. Not to mention, it’s also poisonous to horses.

 

27. Latana Camara

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Scientific Name: Same as regular name.

Native to: Central and South America.

Desirable Features: Pretty flowers and can survive in a variety of environments. Can go long without water. Indian scientists discovered that the leaves have anti-microbial, fungicidal, and insecticidal properties which is good for many gardeners. It’s been seen as effective for treating ulcers and respiratory infections.

Why you wouldn’t want it: Since this plant has spread to 50 different countries, it’s been considered an invasive species which will often out compete more desirable species which will lead to a reduction in biodiversity. It’s also known to be toxic to livestock like cattle, sheep, horses, dogs, and goats.

 

28. Rhododendron Ponticum

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Scientific Name: Same as regular name. Its genus has over 1,000 species and includes azaelas.

Native to: Southern Europe and Southwest Asia. National flower of Nepal and state flower of West Virginia and Washington.

Desirable Features: This is a highly desirable evergreen shrub with big flowers and lovely green foliage. These flowers make a trip to my local cemetery almost a dream come Memorial Day and I always take pictures of them with my camera.

Why you wouldn’t want it: For one, this plant is considered a highly invasive species in New Zealand, the British Isles, and Western Europe. Second, it’s highly toxic especially to horses that are said to die within hours of ingesting it. Symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, hallucinations, paralysis, severe pains, and even death and its effects have been known since ancient times. Even its honey is poisonous to humans which can cause hypotension and bradycardia if consumed in sufficient quantities. Also, these plants are very prone to a whole range of pests and diseases (Wikipedia has a whole list of ills for this shrub). So it’s a great flower to look at but not a good one to have.

 

29. Tansy

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Scientific Name: Tanacetum vulgare.

Native to: Europe and Asia.

Desirable Features: Pretty yellow flowers and seen as a natural insecticide as well as good companion plant.

Why you wouldn’t want it: In many areas of the world particularly North America, this is seen as an invasive species known to spread prolifically. Also, it’s a toxic plant in all parts, especially to livestock.

 

30. Cultivated Tobacco

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Scientific Name: Nicotiana tabacum. Genus has 67 species.

Native to: The Caribbean. Introduced to Europe by Christopher Columbus himself, if not then possible hybrid.

Desirable Features: Pretty pink flowers. Can also be used as an insecticide.

Why you wouldn’t want it: This plant doesn’t have a good reputation since it’s responsible for a lot of deaths from all kinds of diseases per year, particularly cancer (that and the 599 other additives in tobacco products). Those who work on tobacco farms and plantations are constantly exposed to nicotine poisoning as well as to a large amount of pesticides and other chemicals. Not to mention, this plant could be prone to a whole host of diseases and pests. Also, cultivating this plant in developing countries has led to significant deforestation and environmental damage.

 

31. Purple Loosestrife

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Scientific Name: Lythrum salicaria.

Native to: Europe, Asia, northwest Africa, and southeastern Australia.

Desirable Features: Pretty purple flowers and seen as a medicinal herb for bowel problems. Well suited for most environments.

Why you wouldn’t want it: It’s a highly invasive plant in New Zealand and North America. Its infestations result in dramatic disruption of water flow in rivers and streams as well as a sharp decline in biodiversity, especially in wetlands. Known for crowding out other native plant species like cattails. So if you live near a swamp, don’t plant this.

 

32. Common Foxglove

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Scientific Name: Digitalis purpurea. Genus contains 20 species.

Native to: Europe.

Desirable Features: Pretty purple flowers.

Why you wouldn’t want it: Toxic in all parts including the water any cut stalks sit in. Even in its dried state, it can kill. Poisoning is most commonly found in livestock, pets, and children. Sometimes mistaken for the edible comfrey plant and brewed as tea in which the results could be fatal. Symptoms include Stomach pain, nausea, violent vomiting, vertigo, muscular stiffness, fatigue, headache, pulse at first rapid and violent but soon weak and irregular, dilated pupils, dimness of vision, delirium.

 

33. Ox-Eye Daisy

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Scientific Name: Leucanthemum vulgare.

Native to: Europe and Asia.

Desirable Features: Well, it’s a daisy and appears conventional as such.

Why you wouldn’t want it: It’s a highly invasive species in North America, Australia, and New Zealand known for displacing native plants and modifying existing communities. It’s particularly troublesome in agricultural areas where cows won’t eat it which will enable it to spread and it’s host to several viral diseases that affect crops. In the US it’s prohibited in Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Washington, Wyoming, and West Virginia.

 

34. Creeping Buttercup

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Scientific Name: Ranunculus repens. Genus has 600 species including spearworts, crowfoots, and celandine.

Native to: Europe, Asia, and northwestern Africa.

Desirable Features: Pretty yellow flowers.

Why you wouldn’t want it: Though initially seen as an ornamental plant, it’s an invasive species in many parts of the world and is usually spread through transporting hay. Not to mention, it’s toxic in all parts to humans and animals (except when dried in hay) with symptoms including bloody diarrhea, excessive salivation, colic, and severe blistering that affect the mucous membranes and gastrointestinal tract. Yet, while grazing animals know to avoid this plant, they will sometimes eat it out of desperation.

 

35. Blessed Milk Thistle

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Scientific Name: Silybum marianum.

Native to: Southern Europe and Asia.

Desirable Features: Pretty purple flowers and is widely cultivated in Europe, Asia, and South America for several different uses.

Why you wouldn’t want it: For one, it has sharp spikes all over its foliage, which you wouldn’t want to touch on the roadside. Second, it contains the toxin potassium nitrate which is toxic humans and animals, particularly cattle and sheep. Symptoms include oxygen deprivation, which is a terrible way to die. Third, it’s considered an invasive species in Iran, North America, Australia, and New Zealand. Fourth, its appearance gives an impression that it more likely belongs in some mad scientist’s garden than yours, considering its freakish display. That or seems like an appropriate corsage for a Klingon wedding.

 

36. Common Water Hyacinth

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Scientific Name: Eichhornia crassipes.

Native to: The Amazon Basin.

Desirable Features: One of the few Amazon flowers that could survive outside the rainforest (it’s been recently spotted in New York). Could be used for bioenergy and waste water treatment. Also, a very pretty purple flower with a petal resembling a peacock feather.

Why you wouldn’t want it: Since its introduction to the US in 1884, this little beauty has been responsible for all kinds of environmental damage such as choking up rivers, killing fish, and stopping shipping in Louisiana as well as clogging Florida’s waterways. Not only that but it nearly wrecked Florida’s environment and economy. There were many eradication attempts, including one by the US War Department pouring oil over it, yet none prevailed. The US government was so desperate to get rid of this plant that Congress almost passed a bill that would’ve authorized the importation of hippos for this very purpose in 1910. Yes, hippos, but this method wouldn’t have worked either because it’s also considered an invasive species in Africa, particularly Lake Victoria.

 

37. Lily of the Valley

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Scientific Name: Convallaria majalis.

Native to: Asia and Europe.

Desirable Features: Pretty white flowers which explains why it’s used a lot in bridal bouquets.

Why you wouldn’t want it: Unless you’re familiar with the later seasons of Breaking Bad (sorry to spoil it), you probably don’t know that this beauty can be very deadly. It’s highly poisonous in all parts including the berries and contains 38 different cardiac glycosides. If ingested even in small amounts, it could cause abdominal pain, vomiting, and a reduced heart rate. For the prospective brides hoping to become black widows someday, this is the perfect flower for you.

 

38. American Pokeweed

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Scientific Name: Phytolacca Americana.

Native to: Eastern North America.

Desirable Features: Well, pretty white flowers and nice dark berries. It’s a good source for songbirds like the Gray Catbird, Northern Cardinal, Brown Thrasher, and Northern Mockingbird. Young leaves (those that don’t have red in them) and berries can be eaten but only when properly cooked.

Why you wouldn’t want it: These plants are poisonous though the ripe dark berries are the least toxic; it’s when they’re green you really have to worry about them and whether they’re consumed raw in large quantities. Infants and small children should avoid consuming them at all times. As for the rest of the plant, well, those parts get more poisonous as it matures. And adults have been poisoned (sometimes fatally) by eating improperly prepared leaves and shoots, particularly if the root is harvested with the shoots, and by mistaking the root for an edible tuber. So if you’re served any pokeweed dish at a dinner party, you might not want to eat it. Symptoms upon ingesting may include anemia, altered heart rate and respiration, convulsions and death from respiratory failure. Could also possibly cause mutations (perhaps leading to cancer) and birth defects. Yet, animals would only consume them in desperation or if it’s in contaminated hay. Still, while it shouldn’t be touched with bare hands, the juice is less hazardous than the sap (which can cause dermatitis). Also, they are particularly invasive and a pain to get rid of (burning it won’t help, believe me).

 

39. Scotch Broom

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Scientific Name: Cytisus scoparius.

Native to: Western and central Europe.

Desirable Features: Pretty flowers. Can grow almost anywhere.

Why you wouldn’t want it: Contains a toxin that causes heart palpitations and affects the central nervous system, which is harmful to both humans and livestock. In the American West as well as in New Zealand, Australia, and India, this is a particularly invasive plant known to inhibit reforestation efforts after timber harvests.

 

40. Giant Hogweed

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Scientific Name: Heracleum mantegazzianum.

Native to: The Caucasus Region in Central Asia.

Desirable Features: Resembles a giant version of Queen Anne’s Lace like it’s on steroids or some radioactive plant food.

Why you wouldn’t want it: For one, it’s an invasive species spreading like wildfire and drowning the native flora and destroying ecosystems in its wake, especially in wetland areas. Second, it’s a phototoxic plant and public health hazard. Skin contact with its watery sap could produce painful burning blisters that could leave purple and black scars. If in contact with eyes, then blindness. Because of it being up to 8-20ft tall and dangerously poisonous to the touch, don’t think you can get rid of it with your weed whacker or mower. In fact, you can’t so it’s best to call professionals or local authorities who can properly destroy the plant and seeds.

For the Last Time, Snow Doesn’t Disprove Global Warming

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Winter is a time for snow and cold temperatures. And sometimes, winters in my area don’t even have that. However, whenever some kind of blizzard and sub zero temperatures ravage some part of the US, the only people who seem happy are children and global warming deniers. Of course, with kids it’s because school is cancelled and they can play in the snow all they want building snowmen, going sled riding, and having a snowball fight. And those sick with the flu don’t need to worry about catching up with their homework. Still, that doesn’t mean their parents will be so lucky since many will need to go to work, shovel snow from the drive way, or brave the harsh road conditions. Still, at least kids have a reason to love snowstorms which pertains more to their routine than their own convoluted scientific understanding.

Which brings me to the other group, global warming deniers. You see these people on Fox News who try to make any excuse as to why global warming doesn’t exist despite being a broad consensus in the scientific community that it does, especially among climate scientists. Of course, global warming does pertain to the unequivocal and continuing rise in the Earth’s climate system mostly due to man made carbon emissions and greenhouse gases trapped in the Earth’s atmosphere. However, many of these global warming deniers tend to use cold and increment weather as a way to disprove global warming’s very existence as if the scientific community consists of a bunch of idiots. Unfortunately for them, global warming doesn’t work that way. Just because the average global temperature may increase doesn’t necessarily mean warmer winters or warmer weather in general. It just means that global temperature increases may lead to a more disruptive and unstable climate which will lead to long term ecological destruction and consequences from region to region be it rapid melting of glaciers in the polar regions, heatwaves, droughts,  heavy rainfall, ocean acidification, the presence of more destructive storms and hurricanes, rise of sea levels, expansion of subtropical deserts, and mass species extinctions. Oh, and the global temperature doesn’t need to increase by that much either (since the early 20th century the air and sea surface temperature has increased by 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit) and that more serious snowstorms and record low temperatures may also be a leading effect of global warming.

Of course, there have been increasingly warmer winters in recent years and over the past century, but that doesn’t mean that one winter may be warmer as the last. Nor can you disprove the existence of global warming by a single weather event and may make even winter weather events like a polar vortex even worse which may be caused by the exact same weather phenomenon responsible for other extreme weather patterns: melting sea ice. Now as the planet warms, Arctic sea ice melts the northern polar region equalizes a bit with temperatures farther south. This causes the northern latitude jet stream usually holding the far colder Arctic air in place with 100mph winds to slow down. When this happens, pockets of cold are more prone to escape to the south. This year, it’s said that the amount of cold air leaked past the seal is much larger than usual and has pushed farther south. So this means global warming may be the reason why it’s cold outside and not it’s non-existence.

Now many global warming deniers may go on and on how humans can’t change the climate and that climate change may be a natural phenomenon. Of course, there have been plenty of natural climate change phenomenon as we know from prehistoric times. But can man made environmental destruction change climate and weather patterns? Absolutely and it has even in our own time. Non-sustainable agricultural practices in the US and Canadian prairies created the conditions for the large scaled erosion associated with the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Widespread wolf hunting in Yellowstone National Park led to an overpopulation of elk and nearly diminished the park’s ecology and natural beauty for years until the wolves were brought back. Invasive species have been known to kill many natural wildlife particularly on islands while deforestation can lead to more floods, drought, and soil erosion. CFCs have resulted in a hole in the ozone in Antarctica leading many near the place to be exposed to higher levels of ultraviolet radiation. And pollution not only leads to species endangerment and habitat destruction but also to increased risk of respiratory diseases and possible economic ruin. If you ever think why people would devote their lives to saving a particular animal species is ridiculous, then you don’t understand ecology, my friend. And if humans are capable of disrupting entire ecosystems and environments, then they’re certainly capable of causing climate change which can bring it’s own share of ecological destruction as well. Since global warming leads to more disruptive and unpredictable weather patterns, then its impact on the environment will affect our lives as well. And if we don’t acknowledge its existence or resolve to do something about it, then we might as well plant the seeds of our own destruction.

Myths and Facts on Environmental Protection Policy

In my post about the US government shutdown, I used issues such as increasing national defense and environmental protection to illustrate why the GOP isn’t the political party for smaller government it says it is. For instance, national defense only increases the size of the government, especially at a time of war yet it’s a policy most Republicans like. On the other hand, laws relating to environmental protection has helped Americans save money, yet Republicans hate it. However, as a government policy, environmental policy is one of the most understood thanks to media outlets like Fox News and other conservatives who basically try to trivialize it. Here is a list of the many opponents of environmental protection tend to say with my explanations on why they’re false.

1. Myth: Environmental conditions only affect the natural world and wildlife.

Perhaps the most infamous of them all. Of course, a conservative would say this to trivialize environmental issues as “special interests.” This is even more false than saying that all environmentalists are tree hugging hippies. If this was true, then we probably shouldn’t have much to worry about when there’s an environmental catastrophe. Of course, this is bullshit since the health of the natural environment has an impact on everything, especially people. Just because humans may be responsible for much of the world’s environmental problems, they also fall victim to them. Pollution has caused a variety of health problems through the years like respiratory illnesses, cancer, birth defects, infertility (including miscarriages and stillbirths), infections, heart disease, and the list goes on. Polluted drinking water can spell a crisis in public health in any community and droughts can lead to mass starvation (think of the Dust Bowl). And in some instances, an environmental disaster can lead to a destruction of a whole community as well as  bring social problems like economic collapse, mass poverty, homelessness, and other things. You can say that if you destroy the land, you also destroy the people.

2. Myth: Environmental policy is a burden to taxpayers and contributes to big government.

Like I said in my post about the government shutdown, this is absolutely false. In fact, this is another lie by Republicans who inflict the small government argument when it comes to policies they don’t like. Sure environmental policy may cost taxpayer money but it also helps save tax dollars by tackling problems that contribute to more government spending. For instance, pollution and environmental disasters contribute much more to big government than any funding to the EPA ever has.

High pollution levels can contribute to higher health care costs as well as more government spending on health care. This is especially true when you consider senior citizens and the poor since these two groups of people receive health care through medical assistance and are most susceptible to pollution related illnesses. Senior citizens are more likely to have been exposed to higher levels of pollution and over a longer period of time than younger generations. They are more likely to have grown up in a highly polluted area, had an environmentally hazardous job, have a history of smoking (and exposure to secondhand smoke), and to have someone in their family who died of a pollution related illness at an early age. It’s no wonder why senior citizens are so prone to respiratory illnesses like lung cancer, emphysema, asthma, and others.  Of course, some may say because senior citizens are more susceptible to illness in general, yet you can’t really dismiss the environmental factor either. As for the poor, they are more likely to be exposed to high levels of pollution because many live near environmentally hazardous establishments. These can consist of toxic waste dumps, power plants, or dirty industry centers that lower property values and aren’t nice places to live. Thus, residences near these places will always consist of people below the poverty line who can’t afford to live anywhere else, especially in cities. If you live in a rural area, then the chances of an environmentally hazardous establishment moving in are very high since many of your neighbors will welcome if there’s something in it for them, most of the population won’t be willing to sue (and if they do the chances of losing are high), and for those who do object, most won’t be able to do anything about it since no one’s going to pay attention. Oh, and many of the rural poor tend to whites who vote Republican and watch Fox News (Fucked News, as I call it). Nevertheless, high pollution and high poverty go hand in hand. Thus, pollution related illnesses are a burden to the healthcare industry, communities, the nation, and the taxpayer.

Another drain on taxpayers which the EPA helps prevent are environmental disasters since they are incredibly expensive to clean up and restore. Of course, polluting industries tend to be the main cause of these environmental disasters yet the job of clean up and restoration will always fall to the state and/or federal government for various reasons. For one, federal and state governments usually do the job better than anyone else and don’t need a court order to do so. Second, an environmental disaster precipitates a state of emergency in which environmental damage must be promptly acted upon before there’s serious long term consequences. Third, in an event of environmental catastrophe, most local communities don’t have the money and resources for the necessary action so responsibility will fall on a higher power. Finally, most corporations that cause environmental disasters will go out of their way in order to avoid responsibility for environmental damages such as fighting lawsuits (the case concerning the Exxon-Valdez Oil Spill ended up at the Supreme Court but wasn’t settled since Alito had to recuse himself). So while environmental protection may cost taxpayers something, lack of environmental protection will cost taxpayers much more.

3. Myth: Environmental policy hurts the economy, hurts businesses, and kills jobs.

Republicans will use this myth all the time when it comes to rallying against environmental policy as if they are trying to justify that economic benefit is worth the environmental costs, especially in the area of dirty industry. However, how environmental protection policy actually affects the economy, is far more complicated. Of course, environmental protection is a popular scapegoat for conservatives when it comes to economic problems but there are many reasons why economies and businesses fail usually ranging from unfair competition, unethical business practices, bad economic policies, unsatisfied greed, or just simply plain ol’ fashioned bad decision making. And hardly any of them have anything to do with EPA regulations. Of course, EPA regulations may hurt smaller polluting businesses but most polluting companies can accommodate with environmental policy. However, for businesses, environmental protection is no fun since it means complying with more rules, may dip into profits, gets businesses to stop doing what’s more convenient and cost-effective to them, and compels them to be more environmentally responsible. It’s no wonder businesses don’t like environmental protection since they tend to be from a world in which success is based on short-term profit gains, fast growth, unrestrained corporate greed, and fierce competition, which is hardly a sustainable economic model.

Yet, what many pro-business people tend to ignore is that environmental protection doesn’t hurt economies as much as environmental destruction. The Lorax illustrates this to near perfection with the Oncler who builds his empire by destroying an entire forest to supply his factories. Of course, he becomes wealthy yet things fall apart for him once the last tree is cut down. His family abandons him, his factory goes to ruin, and the forest once filled with colorful trees is now a wasteland. Since the Oncler basically obtained his raw materials in a way that was most convenient to him in order to satisfy his own greed, he gets to see all he worked hard for all his life go down the drain. Of course, many corporate leaders don’t learn their lessons or suffer the consequences from all the environmental destruction they cause. Yet, many people do, those whose business is dependent upon environmental conditions and availability of natural resources. Environmental policies may not bring big profits but they might help a company stay in business since they may give reasons for businesses to adapt, encourage the development of green industry, ensure sustainability of resources and sustainable growth, and make businesses more competitive. As for consumers, more eco-friendly products might help them save money on certain products like at the pump for instance.