ON ENVIRONMENTAL MATTERS

Well, what about environmental matters? I, for one, am anti-environmental…well, sort of. I’m actually anti-environmentalists. These misguided fanatics have gone nuts. It’s so bad that part of our state is considering seceding from New York due to Cuomo’s idiotic fracking policy. But then again, am I qualified to pass judgement on environmental matters and the USEPA? You be the judge, but I was employed (one year) and served as a consultant to the USEPA (for thirty-eight years).

Here is where we are today. The air has never been cleaner. The water has never been cleaner. The land has never been cleaner. Period. End of report. Conclusion: environmentalists no longer have anything to hang their hats on. But, wait! They have today set out to cripple capitalism, American businesses, and the American Dream. Bad enough? Here’s more. Thirty-five years ago, our environmentalist friends (they are actually our enemies) construed that the Earth was cooling and there was a need to, once again, rally the troops against the new enemy on the block – global cooling. But, wait! The Earth is not cooling. The Earth is actually warming. Finally, they have a cause to create havoc. But, wait! The Earth is not actually warming. But, wait! The Earth is undergoing climate change. Another opportunity to rally the gang for yet another environmental disaster facing mankind. But, wait! Many of the climate changes occurring today also occurred in past. What to do? What the hell. We can still lie, manipulate, deceive, fabricate, etc., since most of the electorate aren’t that bright. In fact, they’re dumb. No problem. Full speed ahead. Keep the donations and support coming in. I seem to remember that someone once said something to the effect that, “you can always convince a sucker of anything.”

So there are two environmental problems (there are, of course, more) vexing your author: global warming/climate change and the USEPA. Each is addressed separately below.

The “greenhouse effect” is a phrase properly used to describe the increased warming of the Earth due to increased levels of carbon dioxide and other atmospheric gases, called greenhouse gases (GHGs). Just as the glass in a botanical greenhouse traps heat for growing plants, GHGs trap heat and warm the planet. The greenhouse effect, a natural phenomenon, has been an essential part of Earth’s history for billions of years. The greenhouse effect is the result of a delicate and non-fixed balance between life and the environment. Yet, the greenhouse effect may be leading the planet to the brink of disaster. Since the Industrial Revolution, the presence of additional quantities of GHGs may be threating to affect global climate and the predicted effects of this increase are still debated among scientists and engineers.

The greenhouse effect works as follows. The energy radiated from the sun to the Earth is absorbed by the Earth’s surface and atmosphere, and is balanced by a comparable amount of long-wave energy emitted back to space from the Earth’s surface. Carbon dioxide molecules (and GHGs) absorb some of the long-wave energy radiating from the planet. Because of the greenhouse heat trapping effect, the atmosphere itself radiates a large amount of long-wave energy downward to the surface of the Earth and makes the Earth warmer than if warmed by solar radiation alone. The GHGs trap heat because of their chemical makeup and, in particular, their triatomic nature. They are relatively transparent to visible sunlight, but they absorb the aforementioned long wavelength, infrared radiation emitted by the Earth.

Some believe that the warming of the Earth over the last 100-150 years is part of a long-term, natural cycle that has little to do with the production of GHGs. Many remain unconvinced that the accumulation in the atmosphere of GHGs is concrete evidence of any rise in the average temperature, explaining that any warming of the Earth in the last one hundred years is better explained by the variation in natural climate and solar activity. According to this theory, the most probable source of global warming appears to be variations in solar activity.

The amount of solar rays reaching the Earth is controlled by three elements that vary cyclically over time. The first element is the tilt of the Earth’s axis, which varies 22° to 24.5° and back again every 41,000 years. The second element is the month of the year in which the Earth is closest to the sun, which varies over cycles of 19,000 and 24,000 years. The third element is the shape of the Earth’s orbit, which, over a period of 100,000 years, changes from being more elliptical to being almost fully circular. Finally, the amount of solar energy released by the variation in sun solar flares has a significant effect.

Scientists and engineers have also stated that changes in the Earth’s temperature have followed changes in solar activity over the last 100 years. When solar activity increased from 1880s to 1940s, global temperatures increased. The observed global temperature rise of 1°F was during this period, before 67% increase of global GHG emissions had even occurred. When it declined from the 1940s to the 1960s, temperatures also declined. During this time period, some environmentalists spoke of doomsday tales as a result of “global cooling,” blaming this event on the use of hydrocarbon fuels. When temperatures began to climb again with an increase of solar activity and sunspot numbers in the 1970s and 1980s, environmentalists began singing a different tune. Instead of the devastating effects of worldwide temperature drops, media campaigns began stressing the importance of regulating GHG emissions.

Obviously, the debate among these so-called experts continues to rage. What may be needed is to bring together a group of qualified experts–with no vested interests in the results — to impartially examine this problem analytically via a Delphi Panel Approach.

Here is my take on the global warming/climate change/greenhouse effect/CO2 emissions issue. The entire issue is bogus at this time. The policies of the EPA are bogus. The changes recommended and advocated by environmentalists are bogus. The present ideologies of environmentalists are bogus. Why bogus? There are no hard facts to back up doomsday predictions.

Is carbon dioxide (CO2) a problem? The scientific answer is one cannot say for certain. The engineer’s answer is that it probably is not due, primarily to the complexity of the overall issue. It would therefore not be unreasonable for one to conclude that any effort to curb CO2 emissions into the atmosphere that involve significant economic changes that can impact man’s social behavior cannot be justified. Any effort to reduce and/or eliminate CO2 emissions is thus virtually certain to downgrade the quality of life and lead to an increased state of poverty and instability.

Let’s face it. Any mandated imposition of CO2 emission reductions will dramatically impact our economy. It will result in the loss of at least (depending on the severity of the cuts) 100,000 jobs with little to no opportunities for these jobless to secure satisfactory replacement employment opportunities. All of this will compromise the ability to defend ourselves from the enemy, particularly the Jihadists. This is an example, pure and simple, of EPA know-it-alls (KIAs) involved with energy decision policies, who haven’t thought through the problem and included all the ramifications associated with their policies. Touting solar and wind technologies as the answer is ridiculous since these industries almost certainly will not be cost-effective–a term not in any environmentalist’s dictionary¬¬until mid-century (at the earliest). The KIAs have just chosen not to consider costs and dangers in their analysis.

Environmentalists justify their assessment by arguing that over ninety percent of the technical community support their position. This is misleading since nearly all of the 90% they refer to have vested interests in there being this catastrophic problem facing society. If there is no problem of this nature, most will be out of a job. At a minimum, there will be no tenure, no promotions, no articles, no books, no contracts, etc. And, the environmental organizations who also support this scam will have greater difficulty in generating funding donations and government support. (My experience with government grants is that the likelihood of receiving support is enhanced if the project can in no way serve mankind.) Gone are the days when scientists and engineers were beyond reproach. The reality is that today’s scientist/engineer is as corrupt as the lawyers society has come to detest. In any event, whichever theory one chooses to accept, it is clear that the issue is far from being resolved. Hopefully, unbiased, unadulterated science and not politics or fanatics will call the shots in the future.

On to the USEPA. The present problem that exists with the EPA is an intricate one, consisting of primarily five (5) main concerns:

1. Economically efficient measures are seldom, if ever, adopted, causing little progress in achieving environmental goals.
2. Data collection often has limitations, and when insufficient data is used for legislation, an ongoing string of amendments is attached.
3. The legal issues involving environmental problems have rocketed, brought on mainly by the complex legislation.
4. The EPA is presently primarily a legal organization that is serving the best interests of the law profession rather than the environment.
5. The EPA is presently a politically motivated organization.

Complicated legislation passed based on insufficient data is by no means a solution to the environmental problem. Costly control measures are taken, and in some cases, the public’s risk is increased. As noted, constant amendments are needed, often doing little to alleviate pollution. Regulations can only help if they are based on sound scientific data. When the legislation is unclear, lawyers are often brought in to “clarify” it. Instead, they usually complicate the problems further since lawyers are not trained in engineering and scientific methods.

When the EPA was formed in 1970, it was – in a very real sense – a technical organization. The Agency was manned primarily with engineers and scientists. Most of these individuals were dedicated to a common cause: correcting the environmental problems facing the nation and improving the environment. The problems these individuals tackled were technical, and there were little or no legal complications or constraints. The EPA was indeed a technical organization, run and operated by technical people, attempting to solve technical problems. Much was accomplished during these early years but something happened on the way to the Forum.

The present state of the EPA? Forty-five years later, the EPA is no longer a technical organization – it is now a legal organization. The EPA is no longer run by engineers and scientists. It is run and operated by lawyers. And, the EPA is no longer attempting to solve technical problems; it is now stalled in a legal malaise.

How in the world did this occur? It happened because EPA evolved into serving the best interest of the career bureaucrats in and out of Congress, most of whom are lawyers, and it happened because the technical and business community did nothing to stop it. The result is that this nation is now paying the price for an environmental organization with nearly 20,000 employees and an annual budget approaching ten billion dollars that is not serving the best interests of either the nation or the environment.

Interestingly, all of the administrators to the EPA have been lawyers. Though lawyers are required in every industry to help settle disputes over legalities, protecting the environment was previously beyond their scope. In the EPA today, for every three engineers, there is one lawyer; it is indeed (as described above) a legal organization, serving the legal profession and not the environment. Actual proposals for regulations and control, based on good scientific data, should be designed by scientists and engineers, or those who have come to be defined as problem solvers. They can analytically break down a problem, initially assess the damages, and then fix them.

Something has gone afoul. In our society, engineers are the problem solvers, but rarely the decision makers. Although the world known today has been called a product of engineering, engineers play a minor role in important decision making.

In 1995, the silver anniversary of the EPA, I was requested to submit an article outlining my thoughts on this twenty-five year old (at that time) organization. Five other articles were ultimately accepted for publication (Environmental Manager, 1, Nov. 1995). My article entitled, “Dissolve the USEPA … NOW!!!” preceded that by Bill Ruckelshaus, the first EPA Administrator, who also provided somewhat less than positive comments on the EPA. My thoughts today? It is a useless organization, run by career lawyer bureaucrats, that is not serving the best interests of not only our nation but also society in general. It should be dissolved.

NEXT POSTINGS: (tentative)
SEPTEMBER 1: On Purely Chaste, Pristine and Random Thoughts XXII
OCTOBER 1: On Barack Hussein Obama Update V
NOVEMBER 1: On Paying Student-Athletes III
DECEMBER 1: On Hofstra’s Men’s Basketball: 2015-16 Season

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