Other reasons to reign in carbon


Every time I hear someone complain about carbon taxes or cap and trade I think back on the horror stories coming out of post war England on the killer smogs and the car exhaust fumes which used to keep Los Angeles in a permanent haze. The economy might stutter if we ratchet back CO2 pollution but health improvements might be almost as important a compensation for this cost as preventing global warming.

This article tackles the health aspects of carbon containment.

From the article:

Now, this public health angle is especially likely to make a difference in the developing world, where creaky coal plants and noxious car fumes are rampant—in many poorer countries, the health gains could entirely pay for the price of tackling carbon emissions. Indeed, there have already been a few examples of governments thinking along these lines.

Good graphic data


I just found this website which has superior, if not perfect, graph graphics. The thumbnail above comes from its most recent interactive graph on giving to Haiti in the wake of the earthquake.

I’ve got too much to do today to spend more time on the site but I did spend a little time pouring over the preceding graph on state by state abortion statistics. The posts below that graph give a good indication of the limitations of any data analysis. For instance the graph shows the very high number of abortions performed in California which appear to equal 28% of all live births in California. However, people commenting on the graph noted that the graph does not provide any information about the home states of the women getting the abortions. Because many woman are unable or unwilling to have their pregnancies terminated in their home states the graph makes the abortion rates in other states per thousand live births appear to be lower than they would if abortion was not such a hot potato.

The website churns out a graph every week and are sure to be great time absorbers.

Reflections on Electro magnetism

OK, its been half an hour since I read and posted the story about cell phones. More worrying to me than the possibility of my getting a brain tumor or Alzheimer’s is the censorship aspect of the story.

Oh, I don’t want to get sick but the jury is still out on what the radiation will do.

I’m not aware that too many folks worried about radio waves when they started listening to radio in the early part of the 20th Century but some folks did worry about electrical outlets when their homes were wired up. When the REA began wiring up rural homes some folks objected much like some folks fought water fluoridation in the 1960’s. Now I’m worried about WiFi.

The National Geographic published a great chart (much better than this one) showing the range of EM radiations found in the universe. Our atmosphere keeps out a lot of the deadly ones, like gamma rays, which would kill most life. Other forms of radiation make it through and we’ve evolved to survive them or draw upon their energy to thrive. Other than the critters at deep sea vents most terrestrial animal life has to eat green vegetables or eat green vegetable eaters.

Its easy to become paranoid and I have no intention of becoming a Luddite for fear of the new. Thank goodness my grandchildren have and will continue to get vaccinations notwithstanding the current paranoia about these shots causing autism. And as far as I know no one is suppressing research that might draw a link between cause and effect that lead to these suspicions.

I can’t find my old lead liner darn it. I just checked to see if I could find one on the Internet and dredged up this article from 2001pooh poohing the radiation paranoia. Its that cabal of Defense industries making fun of the Chicken Little’s………But just maybe the sky is falling. Instead of ridicule let’s fund some serious research. Having a million kids get brain cancer is probably a lot worse than anything Osama bin Ladin’s groupies could do to us.

Are we putting lead liners in our new schools?

Science, C, C, C part 5

If you only read the selections from this story you will get the sense of the whole article. I’d suggest you read the entire article before someone pulls the wires.

To illustrate what he meant, Frey held up a glass of water. “We’re all just big teacups, bags of water that you can heat up—that’s the paradigm,” he said. It’s the engineer’s paradigm, the mind-set of people who had no training in the complexity of living systems. The branches of the military, the major defense contractors, the manufacturers of microwave ovens, the telecom companies, were happy to embrace the engineer’s paradigm. The thinking was simple and easy to understand, and most important, it indemnified their operations from liability.

“It’s a very primitive mind-set,” said Frey. “Plato said we don’t see the reality; we see shadows on the cave walls. We’ve got a lot of people who are seeing shadows and saying this is the reality.” He nodded at his water glass. “We now know a human being isn’t a bag of water. A human being is a complex organization of electrical fields. Electroencephalograms and electrocardiograms, for example, measure these fields. Every cell has an electrical field across the cell membrane, which is a regulatory interface and controls what goes into and out of the cell. All nerve signals are electric. And between the nucleus and the membrane there is an electrical field, you can measure voltages of individual cells! Electricity drives biology. We evolved in a particular electromagnetic environment”—the magnetic fields from the earth’s iron core, the terrestrial magnetism from lodestones, visible light, ultraviolet frequencies, lightning—”and if we change that environment as we have, we either adapt or we have trouble.”

Science, C, C, C part 4

Dang it. I just got a more powerful router for WiFi use. I’m doomed.

I wonder if taking what’s left of the lead liner for my camera and putting it in front of the router (between it and my groin) will protect me or foul up my WiFi?

All of these concerns, the danger of microwaves issuing from the phones we place next to our skulls, the danger of waves emitted by the cell towers that dot our landscapes, also apply to the Wi-Fi networks in our homes and libraries and offices and cafes and parks and neighborhoods. Wi-Fi operates typically at a frequency of 2.4 gigahertz (the same frequency as microwave ovens) but is embedded with a wider range of modulations than cell phones, because we need it to carry more data. “It never ceases to surprise me that people will fight a cell tower going up in their neighborhoods,” Blake Levitt, author of Electromagnetic Fields: A Consumer’s Guide to the Issues and How to Protect Ourselves, told me. “They they’ll install a Wi-Fi system in their homes. That’s like inviting a cell tower indoors.”

In the summer of 2006, a super-Wi-Fi system known as WiMAX was tested in rural Sweden. Bombarded with signals, the residents of the village of Götene, who had no knowledge that the transmitter had come online, were overcome by headaches, difficulty breathing, and blurred vision, according to a Swedish news report. Two residents reported to the hospital with heart arrhythmia, similar to those that, more than thirty years ago, Allen Frey induced in frog hearts. This happened only hours after the system was turned on, and as soon as it was powered down, the symptoms disappeared.

Science, C, C, C part 3

I particularly liked the following paragraph because they talk about a “Trojan Horse” something that’s been on my mind lately. And by the way, now that the Supreme Court has extended the free speech rights of corporations with its quashing of limits on Corporate politicking put in place in the Era of the Republican President Teddy Roosevelt this corporate influence has new ways to exert itself. Roger Ailes will like that. As I’ve discovered, companies like Johnson Controls already have a lot more resources than I do especially when they help massage local Chamber of Commerces.

The cell-phone industry has managed to exert its influence in other ways, too. In the United States, the organization most influential in the government’s setting of standards for microwave exposure is the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), which bills itself as “a leading authority on areas ranging from aerospace systems, computers, and telecommunications to biomedical engineering, electric power, and consumer electronics.” According to Slesin, “The committees setting the EM safety levels at the IEEE historically have been dominated by representatives from the military, companies like Raytheon and GE, the telecom companies, and now the cell-phone industry. It is basically a Trojan horse for the private sector to dictate public policy.” The IEEE’s “safe limits” for microwave exposure are considerably higher than what they should be, says Allan Frey, who was a member of the organization in the ’70s. “When it comes to this matter, the IEEE is a charade,” Frey told me.

Science, C, C, C quote 2

I’m still reading the article mentioned in the previous post.

The cell-phone industry funds lots of risk studies, and many of them show no effect from cell-phone-related radiation. The industry pointed to those favorable studies when countering Lai’s DNA findings. (In 2004, it should be pointed out, a European Union–funded study carried out by twelve research groups in seven countries found evidence of genotoxic effects resulting from cell-phone radiation—the same kind of DNA damage that Henry Lai uncovered in the 1990s.) But when Jerry Phillips, a scientist with the Veterans Administration whose work was funded by Motorola, replicated Lai’s findings, the company put him under so much pressure not to publish that Phillips abruptly quit microwave research altogether.

Science, Censorship, Commerce, Communication

One of the folks I’ve been unable to return emails to (which has probably been helpful since we’ve been having some heated email exchanges lately) sent me this online article about one possible danger of the overuse of cell phones.

This portion of it especially raised my eyebrows:

In a study published in 1975 in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, Frey reported that microwaves pulsed at certain modulations could induce “leakage” in the barrier between the circulatory system and the brain. Breaching the blood-brain barrier is a serious matter: It means the brain’s environment, which needs to be extremely stable for nerve cells to function properly, can be perturbed in all kinds of dangerous ways. Frey’s method was rather simple: He injected a fluorescent dye into the circulatory system of white rats, then swept the ­microwave frequencies across their bodies. In a matter of minutes, the dye had leached into the confines of the rats’ brains.

Frey says his work on radar microwaves and the blood-brain barrier soon came under assault from the government. Scientists hired and funded by the Pentagon claimed they’d failed to replicate his findings, yet they also refused to share the data or methodology behind their research (“a most unusual action in science,” Frey wrote at the time). For more than fifteen years, Frey had received almost unrestricted funding from the Office of Naval Research. Now he was told to conceal his blood-brain-barrier work or his contract would be canceled.

Regular readers of this blog know that I’ve got my undies in a bunch over the Duluth School District’s success at withholding public data on the Red Plan. I feel the same way about the Bush Administration’s muzzling of climate data suggestive of global warming or any data that might suggest halting commerce for environmental reasons.

I don’t know if this story is alarmist or not but I have a little lead bag I used to put my old camera in to protect film from being exposed by airport security x rays. I think I’ll trim it and put my cell phone in it so I can limit the possible damage to my internal organs from keeping my beloved cell phone at my side.

If someone markets a phone with lead on the speaker side that could block microwaves from interfering with my brain I’d buy it.

sorry about my email silence

Thanks for the email, friends. Sorry I haven’t been replying. My computer’s email function is on the fritz. I’ve bought a new HP, printer/scanner and a new router but all the stuff is in a box waiting for me to find the time to transfer everything from my hard drive and upload all the software and organize my files. That’s a chore I’m still putting off and with luck my emailing ability will be restored once I’ve completed that mission.

Red ink

Stories like this distressing one about Woodland Middle School will probably proliferate. The cramming of students from different schools into buildings that are understaffed will fester and grow as the State uses school district reserves to pay for the State of Minnesota’s financial woes.

Former Governor Arne Carlson, a fiscal realist explained today that the state’s spending is increasing annually at 5.5 % while its revenues are increasing at 4% annually. Think of a wish bone being pulled from both sides by two kids hoping to win the wish.

Dr. Dixon can complain about the State’s not fulfilling its obligations but Dr. Dixon and his School Board have continually failed to prepare for the inevitable. Indeed, they have taken the operational expenses and spent them to balloon the Red Plan spending in order to buy more new infrastructure than the original Red Plan advertised.

When the buildings are finally complete they will, for some years, be understaffed just as Woodland currently is and the malignancies already at that building are likely to spread. I’m eager to visit Faribault to see if their school district has finally recovered from Dr. Dixon’s many promises.

Promises Promises

An email being sent through LDV circles. Anyone expecting the save anything green – money or energy – with the Red Plan will be in for a big surprise.

Sent by one of our members.

Sent: Saturday, January 23, 2010 1:25 PM

Subject: Fw: Johnson Controls fails to deliver on cost savings to the city as promised

piece on JCI forwarded to me. Maybe you have already seen it but sending in case you have not.

At this busy time of year it seems the issues relating to Johnson Control’s ability to do what they say they can do at Duluth Steam has flown under the radar. I am very concerned that the company seems to have placed a great burden on our city. Have others seen their press release?

Update 10-15-09

Arbitration Scheduled between the City, Steam Co-op and Johnson Controls

· The arbitration between the City, Steam Co-op, and Johnson Controls is scheduled to begin on March 1, 2010 in Minneapolis before arbitrator, Lewis J. Remele, Jr. a Minneapolis attorney.

· A major item of contention between the parties is the methodology for determining the shortfall in the savings guaranteed to the City and Steam Co-op in the contract.

The City and Steam Co-op contend the contract requires measurement of the shortfall according to international standards.

Johnson Controls on the other hand has generally insisted that the savings be calculated, instead of measured by the meters at the Steam Plant, some of which they installed as part of the improvements.

· The measured shortfall for the first year is between $227,000 and $257,000 according to independent engineers retained by the City and the Steam Co-op. The shortfall for the second year, which ended August 31, 2009, is currently being analyzed.

At this rate, the shortfall in guaranteed savings would be approximately $3.75 million over the 15 year term of the contract.

Steam Plant Background Information : City seeks arbitration

In September 2006, the City of Duluth and the Duluth Steam co-op entered into a Performance Contract under which Johnson Controls Inc. guaranteed $6.2 million dollars in savings over the 15 year term of a contract for improvements to the Steam Plant and it’s distribution piping system. Johnson Controls, Inc received $4.25 million upon completion of the project in 2007: $3.2 million from a municipal bond sale and the remaining $1.05 million from the Oregon Climate Trust.

The City and Steam Co-op entered into the contract in reliance on Johnson Control’s assurances and guarantee the savings produced by the improvements would more than pay the bond payments for the project.

One purpose of the Performance Contract was to have a “green” project that would reduce the carbon footprint of the plant. The other purpose was to install identifiable improvements at the steam plant that would produce the guaranteed savings. The improvements included

1. Insulation of the pipes that deliver heat to the businesses, non-profits, governmental units, and health care providers;

2. A water softening system to reduce water usage; and

3. An upgrade of boiler controls and pulverizer modifications.

To date, only 24% to 32% of guaranteed savings have been achieved. A counterclaim has been made in arbitration to recover the shortfall and to reform the contract.

Johnson Controls agreed to produce guaranteed savings of $336,000 in the firest year; but, according to the Co-op and outside sales consultants, the actual savings achieved was only $79,000 to $109,000, well below the guaranteed amount. This resulted in a shortfall of $227,000 to $257,000 in the first year. The second year shortfall is similar, or slightly higher, according to the consultants. At this rate, the total shortfall would be about $3.75 million over 15 years.

The City and Co-op had been working with Johnson Controls Incorporated to resolve this matter without litigation or arbitration. They believe the contractor is using methods that are not contained in the contract and not consistent with International Performance measurement and Verification Protocols that govern the contract. Instead of measuring savings with meters that isolate the effect of the improvements made, Johnson Controls, is attempting to calculate savings.

The shortfall, if not recovered from Johnson Controls, ultimately means that the 225 downtown businesses, government units, non-profits, and healthcare providers will be affected. This would be a financial detriment to the entire City and its residents and could affect employment at the 225 affected businesses, to non-profits, governmental units, and healthcare facilities that will have to make up the shortfall.

Despite its own calculations reflecting a shortfall, Johnson Controls Incorporated has not paid the City or Steam Plant even the amount of its admitted calculated shortfall.

Its too bad all the major players in Duluth, other than City Councilor Jim Stauber, are scared witless by JCI.

The new GOP Baby Mangler

I was too busy attending to my new Grandson to pay a lot of attention to the news. The election in Massachusetts to replace Teddy Kennedy was up and the Democrats deserved to lose. The Democrat controlled legislature kept changing the rules on Senate elections to suit the Kennedy clan and the Democratic Party. The winner of the Democratic primary was a lousy candidate and a Republican legislator with some panache turned the tables on the machine and got himself elected to replace Teddy in a state with a 2 to 1 Democrat advantage over Republicans.

Republicans rallied to defeat his opponent though she largely defeated herself. Had she gotten elected Obama could have gotten the Health Plan passed. Now that seems unlikely. I’ve come to the conclusion that the Health Plan is probably a pretty good plan. Its supported by my kind of Republicans Bob Dole and David Durenberger. But they no longer have a seat at the GOP table and the plan is now apparently toast.

I’ve been hearing intriguing things about Senator elect Brown. He’s a baby mangler among other things and frankly, the GOP needs a few more baby killers since they chased me out of the Party.

I’d only read one source of information about the Republican candidate and it wasn’t very flattering. I did learn among other things that the new GOP Senator supports Roe v. Wade which intrigues me. Now after all the self congratulation coming from the GOP about taking the Kennedy Senate seat the real powers of the GOP are weighing in.

I’ve taken these two quotes from an Andrew Sullivan blog post. I like Sullivan mostly because unlike most know-it-all pundits he readily concedes when it can be demonstrated that he has uttered a foolish line or made a mistake. By the way, much of what I import on this site that isn’t related to the Red Plan is lifted from Sullivan’s website the Daily Dish. If you want more of it and less of me check it out.

So, what do the ideologues in the GOP say about the new GOP Senator now that he’s gotten himself elected?

Glen Beck – FOX News:

I want a chastity belt on this man. I want his every move watched in Washington. I don’t trust this guy. This one could end with a dead intern. I’m just saying. It could end with a dead intern.

Randall Terry – Operation Rescue:

I – like many other political activists – am enjoying the moment of “Ted Kennedy’s seat” going to a Republican. The problem is that Scott Brown supports Roe vs. Wade. In other words, he supports the brutal murder of children in the womb for any reason; he defends the barbaric practice of those babies being decapitated, or chemically burned to death, and then casting their mangled bodies into sewers and landfills for graves. Simply put: He is not a friend of the babies; he is their enemy… We need to replace Scott Brown as soon as we can with a true defender of babies’ lives, not a phony who supports their murder.

Short Honeymoon. If they keep this up he could join Arlen Specter the Pennsylvania Republican who became a Democrat when the GOP threatened to unseat him because he was a RINO. (Republican in name only)

What passes for journalism these days

Apparently this is the best the Trib can do in covering the Duluth School Board. No story, just a couple quotes.
Take your pick of these assessments:

Dr. Dixon

In a video presentation, Dixon pointed out a number of the district’s achievements over the past year, including seven schools ranking in the top 25 percent of schools statewide for their performance on state tests, the district’s high bond rating and its progress on the long-range facilities plan.

“We are a strong school district and this is a proud, caring community,” Dixon said in the video. He wasn’t able to be at the meeting because of a death in the family.

Judy Seliga-Punyko:

“We are in the best shape we’ve ever been in because we finally have stability. We have the programs we want, we have the plan, even financially we’re doing great. We have the best bond rating, we’ve had great audits. Honestly, financially we are doing great if only the state would give us the money they’re supposed to.”

Mary Cameron:

“It’s depressing. I just went to a leadership conference last Thursday and Friday in Minneapolis about [school finance] and it’s very depressing. I have knots in my stomach just thinking about it. We have so much work to do, and they are depending on us to do it with less funds.”

A real school board mtg.

I got home late tonight after spending some time with my two grandsons and turned on the TV a little after Ten. I could hardly believe it when at 10:15 a little channel surfing led me to the Duluth School Board which was still in session. I watched till 11PM when they took a brief recess. The new board members were told that the meeting would have to end when they ran out of video tape to record the meeting at 11:30. I decided to stop by and watch the conclusion of the meeting.

Good old Art Johnston was explaining how he’d like a contract for the Denfeld Sr. High which guaranteed energy savings since the project was being touted as “green.” Dr. Dixon was absent but his substitute the finance director, Bill Hanson, explained that any reductions for energy would have nothing to do with energy efficiencies but result from a reduction of District building space by 25% so that there would be less space needing heating and cooling. Art explained that under the Red Plan the District would only see a 13% reduction in space so that the promised savings would never come through. Its gratifying to have an engineer on the school board.

When I arrived I hunkered down in the back of the Board Room with a couple friendly LDVers who looked shocked and delighted to see me come out from hiding. I asked for a little history of the meeting and one of my friends pointed to Chair Grover’s wife who was busy typing away at a computer. My friend was sure Ms. Grover was writing Ralph Doty’s next column for the Budgeteer.

I wanted to take a note to one of the new Board member suggesting that when the tape ended they move to continue the meeting at a later date. I didn’t need to. Art moved to adjourn the meeting for a week rather than to have it go unrecorded. He lost that vote 4-3, of course so the meeting continued on until midnight. Coverage of the debate on the Plan B referendum will be limited to this blog since the Trib’s reporter had long since departed to turn in a story before adjournment. That’s too bad because the old board’s arrogance was on full display. Of course, that kind of stuff rarely makes the paper even when the Trib’s reporter has witnessed it.

Tom Kasper noted that after bragging about how much the Homecroft site had come in under budget the District had decided to spend an additional $800,000 on Homecroft in change orders for prettier wainscoting.

Tom argued that in our tough times it would be nice to pass the savings from low bids back to the taxpayers. The Administration argued against saving the money. No surprise there. JCI and the building community know how much money is available and aren’t about to let low bids deprive them of one cent of the full $293 million – taxpayers be damned. The only thing a little disappointing about Tom’s comments was his apologetic tone for raising the subject such was his deference to Duluth’s rabid Civility Police.

After voting to OK $800,000 for cosmetic construction the old Board members fought the idea of spending a measly $90,000 to fund the long delayed referendum on Plan B. Ann Wasson who was happy to install wainscoting complained about spending precious operating money to let people vote.

During the discussion Kasper raised the subject of holding an operating levy referendum too. (money for the classroom) He reminded the Board that Dr. Dixon had said the only way to pass an operational levy was with a united Board and hinted that Ann Wasson’s attempt to postpone a Plan B vote for another nine months was a poor way to unite a School Board.

Chair Grover chided Kasper and said he thought it was inexcusable for any school board member to imperil classroom spending just because he was ticked off about voters being treated like cow manure.

I rolled my eyes at this. Tim Grover did the same damn thing Tom hinted about when the two of us served on the School Board together. He even held me up to public ridicule for voting to spend an authorized operations levy in the classroom. (Tim wanted me to give it back to the taxpayers and put be on the spot because he had previously extorted a promise from me not to spend the money in the classroom. Had I not made the promise to him Tim would have opposed offering a levy just as Tom Kasper was hinting he might.) We were buddies back in 1998 so, although I was chagrined that Tim would do this to me I took his guff with good humor even when former Board member Brad Bennett took to the radio airwaves to call me ACDC Welty. (ACDC is shorthand for a bisexual. Brad meant that I was a guy who claimed to be a fiscal conservative on the one hand while being a big spender on the other.)

I didn’t need to stick around and hear Tim hyperventilate when he had a 4-3 majority to do whatever he wanted. I walked out of the nearly vacant Board Room and after entering the hallway called out “hypocrite” in a very loud voice.

Come and get me Civility Police.

lousy email

I just realized a little earlier this afternoon that all my outgoing email is trapped in the “out box.” My regrets to Bob, and others. In Bob’s case I posted the email I thought I’d sent him here on the blog. He had to read my reply here.

I’d like to blame this on being kept too busy fighting for a vote on the Red Plan. For almost a year my computer has been telling me that my operating system is too old to make full use of Internet Explorer. Now my email is caput. I’ve been busy but I’ve been looking at computer ads for a few weeks now.