When I was in college in the early 1970s studying Geology, my professors were concerned about man’s impact on the environment and they did their best to inject into our “Minds filled with mush”, the importance of environmental awareness.  At that time, they were worried that pollution was going to bring on a new ice age.   They had reams of data to support their argument and I, along with all my friends ate it up–not because of the great oratory skills they possessed, but because of the vast amount of pure data that they brought to the table in support of their argument.  Back then, the only way to check their sources, was to go to the library and plow through reams of publications and cross references which we did with a vengeance.  It was hard determined work but we did it because we loved science.  My department head always drove home the point that “only an idiot would deny pure facts and it takes an idiot to believe manipulated facts”.  Ah, the beauty of science.  If you had indisputable facts, everyone would embrace your ideas–that was then.  That is also when I first learned about Phytoplankton.

I never got wrapped up in the Global Warming debate because the data was still being gathered so I felt that when we had enough solid evidence, I could make an intelligent decision. The pundits cried “Global Warming” with a religious zeal which was responded to with an equally loud voice by the anti warming people.  The pro forces presented data to prove their point and the anti crowd presented facts that were equally believable.  It was when the pro sector started shouting “Sit down and shut up” or the “The subject is settled science” that I knew that it was then, as it is now, all about politics.  All I could do was hope that something new would come along that I could embrace. The only bit of data that was never questioned, is the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere.  It was rising even though the global temperatures have remained level for the last 2 decades.

Facebook has become a valuable source of information for me since I long ago turned off CNN, Fox News and MSNBC which I never watched anyway.  Every time I came across a website devoted to some aspect of science that I was interested in, I would “Like it” and  it would show up on my news feed.  As I was drifting down the news feed, this site shows up talking about taking a closer look at sunscreen.  Living in Florida means we have to watch our exposure to sun so I was hooked. I dove into the article and  Wow!  I never realized the impact of sunscreen on the coral reefs–this is terrible news.

This lead me to Google up information about sun blocker and its relationship to the environment.  A few clicks later, I  focused in on sites that I knew could be trusted and ethical.  National Geographic was one of those sites.  If sun tanning products are bleaching the coral, what else could it be harming?  I could remember traveling to the Florida Keys in the late 1960’s and scuba diving on some of the most pristine reefs in the world.  As the years went by, I saw the reefs slowly die out, becoming a bleached out skeleton.  No one was offering a remedy that could bring back our beautiful Florida reefs.  They thought it was the result of sewage discharge from septic tanks.   Later, I would sail down through the Bahamas island chain  and all the way to Venezuela.  The further south I went, I realized the problem was not local but global.  Little did I know then, that all those beautiful people soaking up the sun were destroying the thing that I loved the most.

If  the reefs are being destroyed, what about my old friend Phytoplankton.   As I read the article on Wikipedia, something jumped off the page.  Nature Magazine had published a study in 2010 which stated that the ocean’s Phytoplankton had suffered a 40% decline since 1950.  Really–what happened in 1950?  I Googled suntan oil and 1950 and saw the iconic ad for Coppertone.  It was during this period that the wide spread use of tanning oils were developed and sunbathing became a world wide pass time.  This led to looking at the history of SPF blockers.  The dots were starting to connect so when  I ran across this article from England, the light bulb came on.   We have been looking at climate change from the wrong perspective.  We had observed the rise in the levels of CO2 and blamed it on cars coal plants…cow farts…whatever.  Are we emitting to much CO2 by burning fossil fuels?  Yes! We are a contributing factor but there are others such as farming which are prolific  emitters of CO2 .  We have seen the glaciers melt and speculated why. The politicians brayed like a herd of jackasses but nothing was getting done.  Perhaps its time to look at it another way and understand the delicate balance of the earth’s climate system.

Is CO2 rising because we are burning too much fossil fuels or is the CO2 rising because the planet’s ability to recycle the CO2 is being diminished?  If you listen to the politicians, you will only hear the side of the argument that gives them the control they want, to extract the money they want, to achieve what ever political objective they are hungry to instigate.  Lets look at the other side of the coin.

Phytoplankton is a major contributing factor to the stability of our climate along with the rain forest.  They perform several very major tasks in the over all  stability of our global  ecosystem. They act as a blanket over the surface of the ocean absorbing the energy the sun, converting that energy into Chlorophyll.  This is a primary transaction in the food cycle and keeping the ocean’s UV absorption regulated. Also, they act as the earth’s CO2 scrubber through the process of photosynthesis.  They  process carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and produce oxygen as a photosynthesis byproduct just as plants do.    Could the sudden rise in CO2 be connected something not conventionally associated with climate change?  If so, what kind of conclusion can we start to infer?  Is it the chicken or the egg?   Are Phytoplankton dying because the oceans are getting warmer or are the oceans getting warmer because the Phytoplankton are being killed?  The settled science of “Climate change” is focused on the first part of that question while I am gravitating to the latter.  The danger of this statement is that if the science is settled, we don’t need to look elsewhere for the answers.  This is just wrong.

I have focused on sun tanning products that could be a contributing factor but I also want to inject another factor that might be even greater.   TiO2.   What is that you ask?   It is widely used to provide whiteness and opacity to products such as paints, plastics, papers, inks, foods, and toothpastes. It is also used in cosmetic and skin care products, and it is present in almost every sunblock, where it helps protect the skin from ultraviolet light.  Yes, that lowly product we use every day is called white pigment.   Look around and what is the dominate color you see in houses, buildings, cars and most of the stuff we produce.  That color is white.  How do we make paint white?  We add titanium dioxide to the resin and you have white paint. Depending on how good the paint is, determines the time before ultra violet light breaks down the resin and the paint comes off.  The TiO2 comes off with it and enters  our water supply making its way to the ocean.  Once there, the TiO2 reacts with the sunlight and produces Hydrogen Peroxide which is fatal to the Phytoplankton.  Once again, the fatal chain of man made events leads to “Climate Change”.  How much of this stuff is made each year?  5.1 million tonnes!!!

If the use of sun tanning products and paint are killing the Phytoplankton, then the oceans will warm as a result-and it is. If the oceans warm and  weather patterns change, it could  result in the destruction of the glaciers world wide-and they are. If the glaciers melt, then the influx of fresh water will affect the life cycle of the Phytoplankton thus accelerating the process-and it is. If the Phytoplankton are being killed, then the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere will rise as a result-it clearly is. These are observations and conclusions I can believe in.  I have always known that the earth’s climate has changed over time and the evidence is clearly written in the rock record.  It has been the politicization and polarization of the issue that turned me into a skeptic.

Should we do more to cut our emissions? Certainly–but other factors are much greater that the consumption of fossil fuels that need to be brought to the fore front of this discussion.  The decomposition of the soil is producing 10 times the CO2 that humans are contributing by burning fossil fuels and you never hear a word about that problem area.

The TiO2 is just one of many actors in the delicate ballet that is our earth’s environment.  This leaves me with the question, are we killing our planet because of our own vanity?  Is how we look worth killing the planet?  Is there anything we can do about it other than levy taxes and create bogus schemes like carbon credits?   Yes there is and it starts by looking in our own mirror and rolling up our sleeves.  Can we reverse climate change?  Yes we can.  We can also conclude, that the subject of climate change  is truly “Unsettled science”.   So the next time you hear someone state, “The science of Climate change is settled”, call them out…call them a fool…call them a liar.  If it is “Settled”, then there is no reason to investigate the depth and breadth of  problems we face and we end up learning nothing. The issue with the climate is real and we have a long way to go before we can get a handle on this problem.  Lets get to work!




The Pin Ball Game

This morning I got chastised on Facebook for being critical of Obama’s characterization as “Compassionate”. My response to that post was the one word “BS”. Maybe a bit off-color, but it was an instant reaction. I apologize for that outburst. I had just watched several clips of the DNC speakers this morning and had just read a report about how Obama’s policies had cause devastation to family invest
ments…their net worth was in the toilet. 23,000,000 people who were struggling to climb out of the hole that both parties have dug. I had to respond. They were all mocking Romney and “Trickle down economics”.

In my line of work, I get to meet the 1% who own the Mega Yachts and Corporate Jets. I also interact with the 99% who maintain those pieces of equipment. I love and respect both sides. I have close ties to many small businesses and a few big outfits as well. Never have I heard the 1% berate the 99% except the quality of their work and what was expected for their investment. They just demand what we all want… excellence. From my viewpoint, that is what we should all strive to achieve. Never have I heard the 99% complain about their job of servicing the needs of the 1%. I hear them bitch about long hours, working conditions, and other workers but never have I heard them demonizing the 1% who were the source of their jobs. So when I heard the DNC demonizing the 1%, I said “BS”.

The other day a painter friend of mine called me and asked if I knew of any work coming up in the future that he could bid on. Note that he wasn’t looking for a handout…just the rung of a ladder to cling to. I told him that from what I have seen, the 1% are holding on to their money until they can see what will happen with Obama and his agenda. There was little work on the horizon. I jokingly told him to go out and find a poor person’s boat to paint. He laughed and said the they don’t have boats to paint, that is why they are called poor.

It is a simple story that I hear repeated every day here in Florida and it is a classic example of how there is only one kind of economics…”Trickle down”. From my armchair, there are two places where money trickles down from: (A) Those with money to spend and (B) the Government. When (A) has enough money left after basic expenses, they spend it no matter whether they are the 1% or 99%. (B) has no money except for what it takes from (A). If (B) takes too much money from (A), then (A) doesn’t have extra money left over to spend. When (A) has no more money to spend the cycle stops and the economy comes to a stand still. When (B) keeps taking all it can from (A) then it starts borrowing. When (B) has borrowed all the money it can, it will fail. Kind of simple isn’t it? Look at the Greeks.

What the DNC wants you to believe is that money comes from Government and that we are all in the Government, it is a lie. WE, THE PEOPLE, allow ourselves to be governed…we bestow those rights to a Government. The Government is an employee. That doesn’t make the Government our family, conversely, it makes the Government subject to the FAMILY…WE THE PEOPLE. This leads to why the Government gets involved in the economy in the first place and affects the way money trickles down.

The best way to look at Government’s involvement is to compare it to a pin ball machine. The machine needs to be designed so that it is challenging but fair. We allow the Government to tinker with the design to attain that goal. The ball shoots out of the top which represent a new business or a business idea and money. As the ball falls through it machine, it hits bumpers, springs and roadblocks which shoots the ball off in a new unintended directions, allocates different scores based on what bumper is hit and always, the score increases. You have to be quick with flippers or you will lose your ball. These represent the basic strategies of the business plan when it interacts with the other businesses and the economy as a whole. It is complicated and dizzying to watch. We try to redirect it in a new direction, but obstacles keep preventing it from reaching the big payoff slot. Sometime people get very talented at playing the game and use the flippers like magic so the payoff is sometimes huge… but most of the time the player’s balls go into the gutter and the players are back to square one and have to load a new ball. Overall, when you play the game you still can rack up a decent score. In life we only have so many balls to play and a limited time to play them. When our founding fathers first designed the machine, they wanted everyone who played the game to run up a good score. It was a fairly simple game to play back then and everyone who played was able to claim success. The game became the envy of the world and people from all over the world wanted to come here and play. But there were those who had a different game and they hated us for the game we played and the success it created.

Along came the progressive movement who didn’t think the game was fair to all the people, especially those that didn’t want to dedicate themselves to learning the game. They wanted people to get a good score without shooting the first ball. After all, watching the game took effort too. They got government to start creating new bumpers, springs and gutters to the game without building new public flippers to help control the game. The new barriers stopped the score from advancing, but the bells and whistles on the machine made it exciting to watch. Oh, they still had their private flippers which acted like magnets that could siphon off money into their pockets without tilting the machine. As time went on, fewer and fewer people were able to buy enough balls to get into the game. They kept building more rules and regulations to keep the balls from reaching their goal of the big prize except for the chosen few…obviously there were low to mediocre scores for the rest of us… but it really didn’t bother the manipulators of the game as long as they were in charge and their pocket continued to fill. Take a look at Harry Reid… isn’t that what we have today?

It seems like the people today, who think that taking money from the rich and giving it to the very same people who are trying to rig the game, is somehow going to make their lives better. Well it hasn’t and it won’t. Just ask the 23,000,000 of you r friends and countrymen if they are better off now than they were 4 years ago and a few will say “yes,” but most will say “no.” Now take this idea back to the Bush years, and you will see that both sides were complicit in manipulating the game until it broke.

So what is the answer? In my humble opinion, it is getting back to the game as it was originally intended. Where everyone had the right and a shot at the prize depended on how hard they worked, and not for just being there. When you try to manipulate the game for those who just show up, you get very unintended consequences and we are living through those times right now. It is not much fun…is it?

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The American Publius