Search This Blog

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

"UC LEAP members bring home progress"

Readers, for those of you who don't know, I recently attended Powershift 2011 in Washington D.C along with over thirty fellow UC students, and several thousands of others from across the country. I have wanted to blog about it for sometime, but didn't want to sell it short. Just read this article by UC's Leaders for Environmental Awareness and Protection (or LEAP) vice-President elect Amanda Morgan. Obviously, Powershift had a profound impact on a lot of our students like Amanda.

By Amanda Morgan
posted in the UC News Record
May 10, 2011

Brian Baer | Sacramento Bee/MCT
The former vice president encourages students to pursue greener campuses.
Leaders for Environmental Awareness and Protection teamed up with University of Cincinnati Democrats to send 30 students from a variety of academic concentrations and student organizations to the third-ever Powershift event April 18.

Powershift, the largest grassroots training event in the country, focused on climate action and transitioning to clean energy alternatives in the hopes that students will use the information to increase sustainability on campuses.

Along with 10,000 other student environmentalists from across the country, attendees from UC participated in grassroots-organizing workshops and listened to Al Gore, Lisa Jackson of the EPA.

The event, an initiative of the Energy Action Coalition, provided workshops aimed at training students to be effective leaders, run successful environmental campaigns and, ultimately, empower them to bring change to their own communities.

"Young people are leading this movement," Gore said during his speech. "You are the core of this movement."

Over the next four days, Gore's words seemed to ring true. The attendees marched on Washington, beginning outside the Chamber of Commerce and paid special attention to locations like GenOn Energy, BP and, finally, the White House.

"The techniques for organizing an event were brought full circle," said Paula Breslin, the adviser for the Environmental Studies Program and LEAP. "The enthusiasm of that April 18 march gave you a sense of empowerment that you can make a difference."

The students worked together in their plans to achieve climate justice, according to Kaitlyn Ruby, a third-year environmental studies student.

"I think we have many things to do at UC first, and I'm very excited to see what the 30 student leaders who attended Powershift do with all they learned," said Ruby, who is also co-president of LEAP. "I believe we have a lot to do on campus and in our communities. We need to start with greening our own backyards, and I think we have the tools to begin."

Some attendees have already begun working on several campaigns since their return.

UC Beyond Coal aims at being "clean" by 2016 and transitioning from coal to clean energy alternatives on campus.

"We need to push our administration to move onwards to more viable energy options that will not only clean up our air, but save UC money when the price of coal skyrockets," said Eli Williams, a second-year biology and environmental studies student, who was introduced to LEAP at Powershift. Williams is also chair of the coal campaign and LEAP co-president elect.

Other projects include a food campaign aimed at getting fresh food from local farms on campu sand establishing composting facilities on campus.

Page Kagafas, a third-year dietetics student and secretary of the UC Mountaineering Club, said she learned the importance of identifying a target and figuring out what you need to accomplish a goal.

Now, she is playing a major role in the food campaign.

"This tactic is very logical and extremely effective," Kagafas said. "At UC, we're planning to work with Aramark ... to provide students with the food services they want, especially with all the money spent on meal plans."

Monday, May 9, 2011

Clarification of Clean Coal and Tales of Corruption

     So I noticed in my blog traffic that my blog came up in someone's google search for "clean coal". I have no idea why my blog brought up this completely farce topic, but lets be clear: clean coal does NOT exist. Capturing some amount of carbon from combustion exhausts has been attempted many times, and can be only fractionally successfull at best. In many places around the country "Clean Coal" is advertised as if technology exists where carbon-pollution can be completely sequestered (ironically, by some companies that deny carbon is actually pollution) from the exhausts of coal-fired electrical plants.

     It is absolutely, and always will be, the very dirtiest of dirty energy sources, until we stop doing it. 

     Basic formula for coal combustion (not including heavy metals, acids, nitroxides, sulfoxides, arsenic, fine particulate matter, etc.) which CANNOT be altered, even if you your name is Einstein:

                                                         C + O2 -> CO2

Miami Fort Coal Plant right next to Cincinnati. The two pools to the left are coal ash impoundments; a toxic sludge of more nasty crap than you care to know exists. Go ahead follow the hyper link and read the ingredients. You can't tell from the hue of this photo that coal ash tends to have a very bright color.

It's not so hard to pick this one out. Photo source:
     CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) is a colorless gas and is very difficult to attempt to capture after combustion. Carbon Dioxide is the leading contributor to anthropogenic (man-made) climate change. See wikipedia, the IPCCC (the global union of climatologists), or how about this USA today report that 97% of scientists agree that climate change not only exists, but is in fact man-made. There actually is no current debate on this issue within the scientific community, despite regular claims by mainstrem media that scientists can't come to a consensus. Even Glen Beck agrees "global warming" exists (!) In fact it has actually been TEN YEARS since any peer-reviewed member of the scientific community has even debated whether climate change is even caused by man.

Now, I have to call out a few people causing the public misinformation torrent

     The deniers are out there, though, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Since mainstream media such as fox news is heavily funded by big oil and climate change denying corporations, the real opinions of the scientists don't generally make it on TV. Oh, and by the way, apparently by saying the words "climate change denial" makes you against free speech.

     I guess I'll go ahead and give this guy a mention who says... "Well... wait... the scientists aren't actually telling you that CO2 is actually PLANT FOOD! Clean coal say watt". In 2007, according to the EIA, U.S. coal plants produced 2,419,747,200 metric TONS (1 ton = 2000 pounds) of Carbon Dioxide. ALL of the forests in the US combined fix about 750,000,000 metric tons of Carbon Dioxide per year, which is less than our coal output alone and only about 10% of our total CO2 output. OK, so that was an especially easy one to start off with.

     Then, there's Steven Milloy. His money trail is cake. Founder of "" (not a peer-reviewed scientific website) and fox news commentator, is the most vocal proponent that scientists are apparantly staging a big hoax. His flamboyant tirades don't really bode well with audiences, but his website can mislead some people. He is pretty clever- he stated his argument as if it were fact, supported by charts and all (even a "greenhouse calculator"). But again, you can put charts and data of anything up; if (a) it doesn't have a source or show methods and (b) it is not peer reviewed- it could literally say anything you want. Not to mention climate denial is a convenient point of view if you're getting paid by exxon mobil (NY Times). If you follow the link there (and Exxon Mobil hasn't had it taken down), it takes you almost literally to the point in Milloy's career where he figured out he could get paid millions by oil corporations by simply denying climate science. At that time "" and "The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition" were the same thing. Milloy, employed by TASSC in '98 was showing $100K on his tax return, thanks (cha-ching) to Chevron and Exxon funding. The program sought ''individuals who do not have a long history of visibility and/or participation in the climate change debate", or in this case, just someone like Milloy looking to get paid. You can have fun following his long story from there, it's quite interesting. (Props to desmog blog for calling this guy out too) The Daily Show interviews Steven Milloy is great entertainment. Here's footage of him promoting his book "Green Hell".

     Milloy and the Heritage Foundation are pretty obvious. You can clearly see what drives the man; he even claims that second hand smoke is a myth, while taking money from Phillip Morris to say so. Other deniers aren't quite so transparent in their funding trails.

     The Heartland Institute, and their "global warming hysteria" blog suddenly stopped publishing their campaign contribution information in 2007. Are you surprised that Exxon Mobil and friends were frequents on the list before then? It gets a little harder to pin down their resident blogging green-basher Peter C Glover, who was a big-time prosecuting attorney for years, who now gets paid to write articles that offer essentially nothing more than conjecture and speculation. He calls environmentalists the "green bigots", and particularly defends hydraulic fracking. He repeatedly has attacked 2011 Academy Awards Best Documentary winning Gasland. I guess flammable tapwater is normal where he's from. Or, he just gets paid enough to advocate it (If I had his kind of money I would bet that BP is greasing this guy). I'm not against his freedom of speech, but I think it needs to be clear who pays him and what he is being paid to support.

Peter C Glover's photo from Canada Free Press

"Its a sentiment I have always shared given the level of stupidity shown regularly by student mass movements. Remember, these are individuals who have not yet contributed anything to society - and that the Taliban is one of the world's leading student movements." - Steven Glover, "Student Protests Reflect Their Ignorance" (2010). Just a bunch of dumb educated terrorist-like people right?


  Top 3 oil and gas issue lobby contributors (2006 to 2009):
     1. Exxon Mobil ($87.8 Million)
     2. Chevron ($50 Million)
     3. Koch Industries ($37.9 Million)

     Koch Industries tops the Political Action Contribution (PAC) list by directly paying senators and representatives almost 6 million since '06. All of these numbers are public, and is a great way to keep tabs on money pollution. Campaign finance reform, anyone? This issue is a problem largely attributable to supreme court case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission which gives corporations unlimited funding privedges in political campaigns. knows about these guys

Greenpeace obviously knows about them, too


     These guys, unfortunately, are only the beginning. In 2010, the US Chamber of Commerce, who spent $132 million in lobbying (more than the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th largest lobbying groups combined), gave 94% of that money particularly to climate-denying politicians. The chamber, who claims to represent 3,000,000 american businesses, only actually has 200,000 members. 55% of its funding comes from only 16 "anonymous" corporate donors. This is a lot more concerning than a few guys getting greased to write blogs, this is literally climate denial having its way with our government. More at

For anyone who wants to know: I write this blog 100% on my own time and am completely, 100% unfunded by anyone for my writing. I work two part-time jobs, and take out student loans to pay for my tuition, AND still pay taxes. I refuse, even, to have ads on my site, as I maintain that I (unlike many authors mentioned above) write sincerely according to the truth as I find it based on my education and experience. I stand behind the very science that has brought us tremendous technological and medical advances, and its position on climate change; absent of large contributions from inappropriate sources.