FOIA Requests Sent to Richmond on Global Warming

On August 26, 2010 at a town hall meeting at James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Virginia, Governor Bob McDonnell stated, in response to a question I posed on global warming, that the science of anthropogenic climate change was debatable. When I countered that there was not significant debate on this issue, he replied, “I’m telling you, there is.”

At that same town meeting I also spoke with Deputy Secretary of Natural Resources and Senior Advisor on Energy, Maureen Matsen. She stated that the science is not clear that climate change is man made, going on to say that, in any event, addressing energy issues was synonymous with addressing anthropogenic climate change. The problem with this reply is that it implies that as long as we get the amount of energy we need, it does not matter that the source of energy is climate harming fossil fuels. When I suggested to her that the United States has hundreds of years of coal and natural gas, and, therefore, there would be no reason to develop renewables except for concern with greenhouse gases, she chose not to respond.

I thereupon sent freedom of information requests to both Governor McDonnell and the Secretary of Natural Resources, asking each to produce any documents they had to support their positions that anthropogenic climate change was invalid science or debatable. The response was: Continue reading “FOIA Requests Sent to Richmond on Global Warming” »

This post was submitted by Bishop Dansby.

Virginia Biodiesel Conference Convenes in Harrisonburg

Approximately 75 people convened today at the Virginia Biodiesel Conference.  Hosted by Virginia Clean Cities, the event sought to bring together producers, users, and policy experts to discuss the state of the biodiesel industry in Virginia.  Attendees included representatives from Red Birch Energy, Reco Biodiesel, Virginia Department of Transportation, Virginia Department of Agricultural and Consumer Services, Public Policy Virginia, Virginia Soybean Association, and many more organizations.  Elected officials included Delegate Tony Wilt (26th House of Delegates District) and Harrisonburg Mayor Kai Degner, who facilitated the event in his professional position as the Fairfield Center.   Continue reading “Virginia Biodiesel Conference Convenes in Harrisonburg” »

Cuccinelli Abuses Office

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (Image from AP)

Virginia Attorney General Cuccinelli has filed a petition on behalf of the Commonwealth of Virginia to request the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reconsider the regulation of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide.  The petition says that the hacked emails (“climategate”) of the scientists coordinating the International Panel on Climate Change (IPC) raise such doubts as to the integrity of the IPCC conclusions that the EPA should reconsider regulation. In general, the petition questions the validity of anthropogenic climate change, that is, global warming caused by man made emissions.

On July 29, 2010, the EPA denied the AG’s petition, citing the Continue reading “Cuccinelli Abuses Office” »

This post was submitted by Bishop Dansby.

Coffee Party learns about hydro-fracking

An example of a hydrofracking site in New York

The Coffee Party, a national response to the infamous “Tea Party” movement, is a group who wants to see co-operation and positive solutions in government. A local chapter meets on the second Saturday of the month in Bridgewater.

On Saturday morning August 14, about 35 folks showed up to learn about the current status of the controversial natural gas mining process known as “hydro-fracking” in Rockingham county. The presenter was Kim Sandum, director of the Community Alliance for Preservation, or CAP.

Hydraulic fracturing, or “hydro-fracking,” is an industrial-scale process that involves injecting toxic chemicals, sand, and millions of gallons of water under high pressure directly into shale formations. This toxic brew, along with any natural gas, is then extracted, or leaked to the surface. There is great potential for contamination of sources of drinking water, among other hazards, including destruction or damage of national forest and small county roads. Continue reading “Coffee Party learns about hydro-fracking” »

This post was submitted by Diana Woodall.

Bishop Dansby’s Global Warming Presentation

See presentation on Global Warming given by H. Bishop Dansby to Bridgewater Rotary Club on June 15, 2010. Entire presentation lasts 20 minutes, and includes a number of video excerpts.  Go to the following link:http://www.bendansby.com/bridgewater/.

This post was submitted by Bishop Dansby.

Hope for Replacing Fossil Fuels

On May 19, 2010, the National Academy of Sciences advised the government “to take drastic action” to slow global warming. I don’t think the technical and economic problems are insurmountable. Rather, it is the political will that is missing, mainly in the conservative camp.

It may be that many conservatives are taking some of their cues from Senator James Inhofe. After all, he is Barbara Boxer’s counterpart on the Environmental and Public Works Committee. Inhofe has openly and loudly proclaimed that global warming is a hoax. His portion of the EPW website proclaims that 700 scientists dispute the claims of the IPCC on global warming.

Inhofe claims “An abundance of new peer-reviewed studies, analyses, and data error discoveries in the last several months has prompted scientists to declare that fear of catastrophic man-made global warming “bites the dust” and the scientific underpinnings for alarm may be “falling apart.” However, the only recent article that he cites, and on which he primarily relies, is “Heat Capacity, Time Constant, and Sensitivity of Earth’s Climate System,” by Brookhaven National Lab scientist Stephen Schwartz.

I corresponded with Dr. Schwartz and it turns out that Dr. Schwartz’s paper simply said was that the sensitivity of global temperature to CO2 rise was less than claimed by the IPCC report. Further, Dr. Schwartz has now revised the paper, doubling his figure on sensitivity. Even though the revised figure is still on the low side of the IPCC range, Dr. Schwartz told me by email:

“But if we consider the consequences of increased concentrations of greenhouse gases, even for a rather low sensitivity the expected climate consequences would be anywhere from serious to severe to catastrophic.”

Serious to severe to catastrophic!  As you can see, Inhofe is playing fast and loose with the truth.

Most people turn off to the issue of global warming because they fear there is no solution. Although we will use a number of types of renewables as well as conservation and energy efficiency to meet the global warming problem, calculations using solar photovoltaic (PV) technology provide a quick and dirty way to assess the feasibility of accomplishing the task.

The total electric generating capacity of the United States is about 900 gigawatts (almost one terawatt). Eighty percent of the electrical generating capacity of the United States could be replaced by installing photovoltaics (PV) on existing rooftops (source). The cost would be about $2 trillion. If this capacity was implemented over a twenty year period, the per capita yearly cost would be $335.

Of course, we use more than just electrical power in the United States. The total annual use of energy used in the United States is 29,000 terawatt-hours, or 3.3 terawatts average power output (source).

About 85% of our power comes from fossil fuels, or 2.8 terawatts. PV generates about 10 watts per square foot, so you need 0.28 trillion square feet (280 billion square feet) of PV panels to replace all of the fossil fuel used the United States. That comes to 10,000 square miles, or 200 square miles per state. As already shown, over 1/3 of that is already available in rooftops. The cost would be about $5.6 trillion dollars, or $18,666 per person in the United States. Spread over 50 years, it would cost $373 per year per person to provide all of our energy needs with photovoltaics.

Another interesting calculation can be gotten by looking at the impact of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. This spill is expected to cost more than the Exxon Valdez oil spill ($8.5 billion), and the stock price of BP has dropped $18 billion (source). If we use a figure of $18 billion as the cost of this spill, for this amount of money one could build photovoltaic generating capacity of 9 gigawatts. Over an estimated lifetime of 50 years, the energy produced would be about 740,000 gigawatt-hours, which at a modest price $0.10 per kilowatt-hour has a value of $74 billion. The Deepwater Horizon well had the potential of 50M barrels, which at today’s oil price of $70/barrel has a value of $3.5 billion. Thus, the value of energy that could be produced by PV installations built from the cost of this spill would be 21 times the maximum value of the energy that would have been produced by the Deepwater Horizon well.

Might there be a message in that?

This post was submitted by Bishop Dansby.

Earth Day Bird List from Hillandale Park

Downey Woodpeckers are identified in Hillendale Park in Harrisonburg

As part of Earth Week in Harrisonburg this year, a walk to see and hear birds in Hillandale Park took place Saturday April 24th at 8 am. Twenty-five species of birds were heard and/or seen even with gray skies. We did see a Crow but could not definatively identify the bird since it did not give either the characteristic Fish or American Crow call.

If you are interested in birds or “birding,” both Rockingham and Augusta counties have local bird clubs. The Audubon Society and American Birding Association are other sites for more information.

Here is the full list of birds identified on Saturday:

  • American Goldfinch
  • American Robin
  • Blue Jay
  • Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  • Brown-headed Cowbird
  • Carolina Chickadee
  • Carolina Wren
  • Chipping Sparrow
  • Common Grackle
  • Crow species
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Eastern Phoebe
  • Eastern Towhee
  • Field Sparrow
  • Green Heron
  • Mourning Dove
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Northern Flicker
  • Pileated Woodpecker
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  • Tufted Titmouse
  • White-breasted Nuthatch
  • White-throated Sparrow
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler

Submitted by Robyn Puffenbarger, Associate Professor of Biology, Bridgewater College and Earth Day Birding Walk Guide

This post was submitted by Robyn Puffenbarger.