Science

House Republican Hopes to Hurt Obama By "Giving Up" on Sustainable Energy

Rep. Stearns says, "We can't compete with China." A defeatist attitude from a U.S. Representative, don't you think?

The Solyndra scandal has been a hard blow for Obama's administration, but more importantly, for the sustainable energy industry in the U.S.; a matter not helped by the fact that conservative lawmakers and pundits are dumping truckloads of rhetorical salt into the wound. House Republicans have been slavering for an opportunity to undercut both Obama and renewable energy, and are pursuing the default of solar panel manufacturer Solyndra (who was the beneficiary of over $530 million in federal loan guarantees as part of Obama's green energy initiative) like fox hounds. Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL), chairman of the energy commerce subcommittee on oversight and investigations, has been one of the most vocal and aggressive opponents of Obama’s program. Now Rep. Stearns has broadened his argument, one that repeatedly comes back to “taxpayers’ money”, to encompass all of the solar and wind energy manufacturing industry. "I think the administration is putting taxpayers' money at risk in areas that are not creating jobs,” he told NPR recently.

The Climate-Change Denial Industry

The political will to reduce man-made climate change has done a complete reversal since 2008, and it has nothing to do with science.

In 2008, every major Democratic and Republican candidate professed a belief in the impact of human activity on the gradual heating of our planet. Since then the science has become more conclusive, and more unanimous on the subject. Scientists recently discovered that planetary warming may have even been slowed somewhat in the last decade by deep oceans that have managed to trap large quantities of the planet’s heat. More researchers agree that the planet is warming beyond the rate of what could be considered “natural”, what is causing this warming, and that it is actually accelerating, than did back in 2008. Why is it then that so many of the GOP leadership in Washington, and the GOP candidates for President in 2012 deny climate change is real, some more established politicians even walking back their positions on climate change from the era of 2008.

Birth Control Recall

Attention women who use birth control: there has been a recent birth control recall from the company Qualitest. If you use the brands Cyclafem, Emoquette, Gildess, Orsythia, Previfem, Tri-Previfem, your birth control may be affected. To find out if you’re affected, to report problems, or to return your prescription, you can call 1-877-300-6153.

It’s a voluntary recall due to the packaging, so your health shouldn’t be in danger; still, if you have questions or you’re worried, go ahead and give them a call to make sure you can use your meds. There are some concerns about the placebo pill week being inserted where active pills should have been, so you might want to back up your birth control with another contraceptive, such as a condom, for a little while.

New Study Shows Vaccine May Be Linked to Autism

Remember how we all called Jenny McCarthy and boyfriend Jim Carrey psychos when they marched against vaccines and they called for safer, healthier vaccines because we all knew that the two were implying that vaccines caused autism—yet there are still no studies proving that the correlation exists?

The dirt is on our faces, because it turns out that they might have been right.

A new study from scientists in America shows that the MMR vaccine could indeed be linked to giving kids autism. The study also seems to confirm the study completed by Dr. Wakefield back in 1998 that got parents upset in the first place—and that so many scientists and doctors brushed off as inconclusive.

There’s also simply the existence of our government’s vaccine compensation fund. If these links did not exist, why would such a fund even exist in the first place?

Solar Power Fastest Growing Industry In US

Despite lowered demand and heavy competition overseas, solar power is the fastest growing industry in the U.S.

The collapse of Solyndra and the subsequent

federal investigation, branded by Republicans slavering for an end to green tech as "Solargate", has called into question the viability of renewable energy. House Republicans have called Solyndra typical of the White House's push for "pet alternative energy", wanting to end their green initiative and, evidently, send that money to oil companies instead. However, the anti-green element in Washington and their conservative punditocracy are missing the point. The point is that solar energy is the fastest growing industry in the country right now and, regardless of how one feels about alternative energy or environmentalism, the simple fact remains that it's one of our best hopes for stimulating job growth.

The average cost, according to a Lawrence Berkeley National Lab report, of solar panels and installation fell 17% in 2010, and as of June this year, has fallen another 11%. In addition, solar energy manufacturer's created a $1.9 billion trade surplus domestically, meaning the money created by solar manufacturing and installation in this country was sold overseas, creating a profit for solar manufacturers in this country. Compare that to oil, where we sport the highest trade deficit in three years with $50.2 billion losses each year from importing foreign oil. Solar energy, at least at this point, is a much smaller industry (clearly) than petroleum, but at least solar is American jobs creating American wealth. Furthermore, the solar industry's growth has not slowed in ten years despite the economic recession. In fact, if anything, it's quickened. Having grown, on average, 25% each year for the past ten years; including 102% in 2010 and an estimated 66% just in the first half of 2011. What the solar industry represents in this country is a growing demand, and an expanding industry to meet the it... both factors of a healthy economy.

Raid on Solar Energy Company Solyndra Bad for Obama, Bad for Alternative Energy

The FBI raid on bankrupt solar energy company Solyndra, the beneficiary of over $500 million in grants from Obama, damages industry in U.S.

Solyndra, the third biggest solar panel manufacturer in the US, filed for bankruptcy on September 6th, closing its plant and laying off 1,100 workers. This, after the Energy Department awarded the company a $535 million loan guarantee to ramp up production as a part of the Obama administration's green energy initiative. Now federal investigators, including the FBI and Energy Department Inspector General's office, have raided the closed plant apparently investigating the company's communications with investors and federal lawmakers. DOE Inspector General Gregory Friedman has described the administration's green energy loan program as "lacking in transparency and accountability." This may signal the beginning of a federal probe into the Obama administrations' green energy initiative and loan program. What is certain is that it will undermine the already weak green energy industry and alternative energy movement in this country while the rest of the world continues to ramp up production and demand.

While US Wages Political War Over Oil, China Dominates Alternative Energy

You know the other world super power that didn't adapt? The dinosaurs.

Congressional hearings in May of this year took on oil company executives over everything from oversight and safety to profit margins and subsidies. Petroleum companies constitute some of the largest corporate subsidies handed out by the federal government, much of it which is returned in the form of oil company lobbyists asking for everything from expanded exploratory drilling to bigger subsidies. Wrangling in the federal government over the freedom of oil companies includes Republican intentions to repeal a number of fossil fuel EPA restrictions and regulations, as well as the most recent attempt to gain access to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska's northern wastes. What no one seems to be paying attention to anymore is the alternative energy sector in the U.S. Even President Obama, who campaigned on the promise to stimulate the economy with "green" jobs and alternative energy development, has been sidetracked by congressional Republican demands for everything from debt reduction to the dissolution of the EPA. In the meantime, and with US embroiled in intense political gridlock, China has surpassed the nation to become the gold standard of alternative energy.

If We'd Progressed Then, We Wouldn't Still Be Standing Here Now

How economic recovery has been hindered by political and social conservatism.

It's hard for me to look at the world and say, "it doesn't need to be like this." Contending with a 9.1% unemployment rate, attacks on unions and public employees, corporate welfare on a scale unprecedented in this country while middle class Americans are bearing the brunt of taxation and debt, all piled on top of a mountain of federal debt and an economy that can't seem to get going again. Our response, thus far, has been social and political gridlock along ideological differences that, in the long run, bear almost no real impact on the way things are right now. Our government is injecting billions in tax credits and subsidies into industries that do not have a sustainable future. Federal agencies are struggling to stay current, even relevant, despite the changing world around them in the same way that unions attempt to protect their members from acknowledging the unsustainability of their own pensions. We are a nation at war with itself because we've suddenly come to the intersection of "reality" and "unsustainability", and we're so used to looking backward we can't find 'forward'.

Huntsman's Comments On Climate Change Spark Conservative Brainstem

Fox News and Chris Christie acknowledge the truth of climate change...then dismiss it.

There has been a sustained conservative assault on environmental protection, of that there's no doubt. However, GOP Presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman tweeted last week that he, "trusts scientists on Climate Change." He tweeted this in response to comments by fellow Republican candidate Rick Perry along the lines of climate change denial. Huntsman's tweet touched off a media feeding frenzy, mostly because he is the first Republican potential nominee to break from the pack regarding anti-science rhetoric. Mitt Romney has also acknowledged the science behind climate change, and has retained a lead within the primary race that has been slowly diminished by Perry. Here's a break down of a few of the various conservative reactions to the climate change "question".

Mitt Romney is the only other candidate to have professed a belief in the human impact on climate change. briefly touching on that fact during his New Hampshire announcement in May. Of course, it didn't get as much press because it coincided with Sarah Palin's infamous mystery bus tour, but it nonetheless further separated him from many of his Republican compatriots. What's astounding here is that, according to a University of Michigan study done in March, 74% of American believe that human impact on climate change is a problem. (This is also the study that made people switch from calling the phenomenon "global warming" to "climate change") Romney, true to form, may just be following a data trend among constituents, but evidence from his governorship show him passing comprehensive climate change protection legislation while in office.

The National Cost of Global Warming

Since the government seems to be fixated on dollar signs, discussing climate change in terms of economic impact might turn some ignorant heads.

    

As I've already reported, our present House of Representatives is one the most single-mindedly anti-environmental congress we've ever had, based on the fact that we've had more congressional votes on bills to limit, reduce, defund, or dissemble environmental protections since January 3rd than we've had in an entire year, historically. However, there have been some eye-opening (you would hope) figure released since January that paint an incredibly bleak picture of the effects of climate change, and they're not just small island nations in the South Pacific being swallowed by the ocean or heat waves across the country. Nearly every aspect of our economic system will experience some significant disruption; infrastructure, transportation, food, health, real estate, employment, insurance, import/export...the list goes on.

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