Report: Pope to speak out with concerns about climate change

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I am not Catholic and I don’t agree with everything Pope Francis has stated over his stint as the church’s leader. But on so many issues, he is making tremendous strides for people everywhere.

I really like this Pope.

Now, reports indicate he will be speaking out about the dangers of climate change. People of all religions should be concerned with what is happening to the planet. Those who believe God created the Earth – in whatever form their religion places God – should be very concerned with the level of pollution being dumped into the air, water and ground.

Selling our environment off to Big Oil, Big Gas and other polluting corporations, to support greed, is far from the teachings of any true religion I’ve ever heard about. I think the Pope understands that Jesus would be horrified to the degree to which greed is damaging our planet – the creation.

Denying the impact of greed only supports the greed. So thanks Pope Francis. Please continue to speak out for those in need and for the planet.

PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

Hopefully – a trend: New York state to ban fracking

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The more I’m reading about the health and environmental impacts of fracking, the more I’m convinced we’re a long way from this being a safe system for drilling for gas and oil.

Oh we get the take from Big Oil and Big Gas – that it’s completely safe and the people who live around the fracking wells have nothing at all to be afraid of. We hear that the chemicals that the industry refuses to disclose but are pumping into the ground are very safe.

Don’t be concerned about your neighbors being sick. Look at the pretty towers rising across the horizons. Think of them as towers of gold and magic.”

The industry doesn’t have a great track record for safety. And even when full-on, horrible disasters strike, like the Gulf Oil Gusher, the industry blows off concerns and underplays the extent of the impacts.

Should people have trusted the cigarette manufacturers when for decades they claimed smoking was safe? Naah – I think I’ll trust science; thank you.

Of late, we’re seeing more research bubble to the surface on fracking. The news that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is ready to ban fracking in his state offered up more news about the dangers.

But while Cuomo seems to be ready to take this positive step, reports indicate his administration had previously attempted to delay and soften a report about the dangers of fracking.

A Capital New York article from early October reports in the final version of the report, “some of the authors’ original descriptions of environmental and health risks associated with fracking were played down or removed.”

So even in state that might become the first to ban fracking, the coverup on the dangers of the practice was well underway.

I’m just not going to trust the states or the industry, in claiming the chemicals are safe. Why would be that naive?

PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

Wacky Mentality at the forefront this month

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Maybe it’s the approach of Halloween or maybe it’s a decay of common sense, but we’re seeing an ever-growing level of Wacky Mentality in recent news reports.

But first, a commercial break: A new, regular video feature is coming soon for the Pack Mentality Blog. Stay tuned for more details. Hint: It will be a news show like no other.

Now – on to the latest Wacky-ness:

Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying was quoted this week as stating that allowing all people to vote in a democracy would give too much power to the poor.

So you oppress people into poverty and then cry-baby that letting them vote would give them a stake in their government. That’s wacky and evil.

The national government in China has presented a plan where the people of Hong Kong could vote on their leaders, but only among a list of candidates hand picked by the sitting government.

We’ve got our own problems with voting laws in some US states. I hope leaders in these regions don’t get any new ideas from China.

Allowing fracking companies to keep the list of chemicals they use secret from the public is more than wacky – it’s sneaky, underhanded wacky. But this is exactly what the government is currently doing.

An Environmental Integrity Project report notes the companies don’t even have to obtain a permit to inject potentially-dangerous chemicals into the ground. Why? – because the lobbyists keep reminding the politicians about those big campaign donations.

And get this, it’s called the “Halliburton Loophole.” If that’s not a slap in the face to the environment and to the public across the board, I don’t know what is.

And if both of those stories weren’t enough for the week …

Cigarette manufacturer Reynolds American – in 2014!! – is finally banning the act of smoking in its offices. Most indoor areas will be off limits to smoking, but the company will set up smoking rooms.

It took Reynolds this long to consider the health of its employees. That’s stunning, even for a cigarette company.

PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

Predictions that environmental rules would devastate coal plant were completely wrong

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When it was announced three years ago that a coal-fire power plant in Pennsylvania would have to reduce its output of pollution into the air, the anti-environment crowd and operators of the plant cried that there would be horrible consequences.

None of it happened; the predictions were wrong and now we have more proof that environmental regulations can protect us, without shutting down local economies or the national economy.

Sure, there are upfront costs. But then again, in many cases we’re talking about companies that pay CEO’s massive salaries each year. A report just came out noting the median CEO pay in the US has topped $10 million per year. (Note that is the MEDIAN annual paycheck.)

It’s like Donald Sterling, who is crying about the millions he will have to pay in capital gains tax if he sells the LA Clippers – for over a billion dollars – some reports suggest $2 billion.

Boo hoo hoo. Cry me an ocean. Poor little fella. He might ONLY profit in the hundreds of millions of dollars or maybe exceeding a billion. These people are so far removed from the rest of the population, they must have nose bleeds while looking over their portfolios, bank accounts and stock holdings.

So in getting back to the coal-fired plant, the Associated Press reports

GE Energy Financial Services, the plant’s majority owner, now says it can do it — and without electricity bills increasing for the two million households it provides with power.

And guess what. People are being employed to make the upgrades.

The article does note another company filed for bankruptcy this year, when faced with having to put in place protections for the local environment. But we don’t know the underlying details about this case.

If the Pennsylvania plant can do it, why not others. That facility will invest $750 million in protecting the people. The article explains how important the move is:

Last year, the facility, released 114,245 tons of sulfur dioxide, more than all of the power plants in neighboring New York combined.

Suggesting a company’s profits are more important than protecting the lives of citizens is more than clueless and wacky. We’ve known about the devastating impacts of pollution on our air, water and ground for decades. Companies should have been spreading out their investments in protecting the public for decades. Then, the financial impacts would not have been so large in one chunk.

But instead, too many industries have poured untold millions each year into campaign donations to elect anti-environment candidates. That money could have been used to protect the environment. It’s a really moronic way to go about polluting and putting the public health at risk.

 

PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

Former TransCanada employee has harsh words for company’s practices

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A former TransCanada Corp. employee testified last week about the company before a Canadian Senate committee and used phrases such as a “culture of noncompliance” and “coercion” and “deeply entrenched business practices that ignored legally required regulations and codes” and “significant public safety risks” – according to an articled posted Tuesday on the Huffington Post website.

And of course, all of this related to the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline that would carry tar sands oil from Canada, through the US and on to the Gulf Coast. After the hearing, Evan Vokes told the Huffington Post – “It’s organized crime, in my opinion.”

Big Oil’s safety record across the board and over many, many years is poor at best – from the Exxon Valdez to the Gulf Oil Gusher to another recent pipeline spill to many other spills and disasters in the United States and worldwide.

Who could honestly say they’d want work done around their homes by companies with sort of track record? But because it’s Big Oil, some people and some politicians will give them a pass every time. Remember in the few years leading up to the Gulf Oil Gusher how many politicians praised Big Oil as having a great safety record. That turned out to be huge strike out.

I tend to not trust people who get it all wrong to this extent. We should all be concerned with what could happen with the Keystone XL Pipeline. And because it might not be running through your state, it doesn’t mean you should not be concerned.

 

PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

Monday Commentary: Earth Day 2013 vs. The Propaganda Machine

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The nation’s knowledge and awareness in the area of science should be increasing – not decreasing or treading water.
But I fear the constant train of propaganda from corporations and from some corners of the media has sucked in enough people to hold back progress in environmental protections.

And unfortunately, too many elected officials are working against the general welfare of the American people and against our environment and against science – and for increased profits for Big Oil and other big players. Mr. Potter from “It’s a Wonderful Life” would be proud of these politicians, but we shouldn’t be.

And when these politicians and their bosses or puppet masters read about cancer risks from polluted water and the air we’re breathing or the impact of climate change or the impacts of deforestation or the suffering or loss of wildlife species – their response seems to be – “If they are going to die, then they better do it and decrease the surplus population.”

The anti-science and anti-environmental propaganda has reached new levels. All we need to do is watch the disgusting BP ads on TV and the other ads promoting how safe fracking and the nation’s pipelines are. Big Oil used to produce ads about how much better its gas was for your car. Now, the ads are nothing more than pure propaganda.

We’ve taken a big step backward. Who would have thought decades ago that Big Coal would be allowed to completely destroy beautiful mountain ranges?

It is Earth Day 2013 and sadly it seems environmental awareness has declined since the era of the first Earth Day, decades ago. Can we effectively battle against the propaganda train? I am holding out hope. I just hope it won’t be too late.

 

PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

Aerial video of Exxon oil spill in Arkansas

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Once again, we have another environmental disaster. But Big Oil will mark it down as no big deal.

And at some point in the not too distant future, someone will appear on a cable news show to ask – “What spill? We never have spills.”

PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

The environmental and animal welfare news out of China only gets worse

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What is going on in China is extremely troubling. The air is bad. The water is polluted. Animals are suffering. And people are suffering. And reports indicate the government is looking the other way.

We’re seeing greed rule the day in China. The only things standing in the way of the US becoming the environmental equivalent of China are the somewhat thin environmental and animal welfare standards that have managed to make their way through the greed in our system.

Yet, we still have a segment of elected officials and pundits who want to gut the regulations we do have. I don’t want to see the US bow completely to the greedy and I don’t want to see the US become the cesspool that China’s environment has become.

We had the news that 16,000 dead pigs have been found in the Haungpu River. And now we have the news that 1,000 dead ducks have been found in the Nanhe River. Officials are swimming around this muck to come up with excuses and to minimize the health implications.

I wanted to look into any recent news about China’s environmental regulations. Maybe things have gotten a little better – and if so, I wanted to know about. It took only one quick search to uncover the troubling status.

The Wall Street Journal reports the regulatory system is a mess there. One sentence in the article tells the tale:

The problems in Nantong are a tale of environmental protection gone seriously wrong in a country where money clearly talks.

The article uses phrases such as “racket” and “scandal” in its reporting. And then we have this description:

… the China Business News argued that rapid economic development had created fertile ground for official corruption and pollution.

This is the door that some politicians want to open – even wider than it is already open – here in the US.

 

PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

Animal welfare and the environment – two steps forward, two steps back

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Just where are we as a society in 2013, where animal welfare and environmental issues are concerned? I’m seeing some progress in some areas and a troubling trend of decline in other areas.

I like classic TV shows and movies. My viewing tends to drift to films from the 1930s to the 1970s – or so – and TV from the 60s to 70s and at times more recent stuff. I find it interesting when a reference to protecting air and water appears in a movie or TV episode from say, 1972. Or maybe a primary character is speaking about protections for animals. I was watching a show recently from the early 70s, where a character was distressed about pollution.

Fast forward to 2013 and elected officials in my home state are actually debating about opening the land up to natural gas fracking. And a push is underway to allow for the injection of polluted fracking fluid waste into deep wells in the coastal regions. We have a decades-old ban on injecting pollutants such as this into wells in the state. But now, with powerful entities pushing for it, the state legislature might open the door to full-scale pollution.

We’ve seen the very recent destruction of the Appalachian Mountain Range, by the coal industry. Mountaintops are completely blown up and the material has been dumped into mountain streams below. We would never have even seen that happen in the 1970s.

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PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic