Sunday, August 21, 2016

And then there is Wall Street.

The "Political Economy Research Project" (click here) at University of Massachusetts, Amherst has compiled a list of top 100 Wall Street darlings, some engaged in the production of energy, and their responsibility to the USA greenhouse gas emissions.

* Percentages are the parent corporation or entity's percentage of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, including electric power, transportation, industrial, commercial, residential, and agricultural emissions, the total of which is 6,673 million metric tons of CO2 equivalents according to the April 2015 U.S. Inventory of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks. Note that this total is for 2013 while Greenhouse 100 parent and facility emissions are for 2014.
The links from each parent name lead to an application that gives detailed facility and sector information about the company. You can also search for companies not on the Greenhouse 100. For more information on the data, see the technical notes.

Here is a new image to get your mind around:

The animated spiral The animated spiral (click here) presents global temperature change in a visually appealing and straightforward way. The pace of change is immediately obvious, especially over the past few decades. The relationship between current global temperatures and the internationally discussed target limits are also clear without much complex interpretation needed....

1.5 and 2.0 are the red zone. They are incredibly high temperatures that imperil Earth's climate. We are dangerously close without reprieve from greenhouse gas pollution. This is the time the world needs to become very, very serious about reversing the trend of this death spiral.

Trains come with their own history, culture, population of enthusiasts and romance.

Photo Flashback:  Electromotive Division (Oakway) (click here) 9056 leads a CP Rail container train eastbound at South Lyon.  The train has stopped to be re-crewed and has split the Pontiac Trail crossing to let cars get across the tracks - 2001

States like Michigan are having a resurgence of rail service, but, this time it is a little different.

The Southern Michigan Railroad Society plans it's first run for the autumn colors in 2016.

About the Southern Michigan Railroad Society (click here)

We are a non-profit, all volunteer railroad museum. Our mission is to preserve the vast railroad history of Michigan, as well as northwest Ohio and northern Indiana.
Our organization was formed to preserve this branch line railroad, the Jackson Branch. It started in Palmyra in 1836 (in the MIchigan territory), reached Tecumseh in 1837, and Clinton in 1853. Unlike many railway museums, we own the railroad "lock, stock and barrel", and it used only for preservation - making us a living museum, able to operate our historic fleet.

And don't leave out northern Michigan.

July 21, 2016

...Enter Great Lakes Central Railroad, (click here) the Owosso-based company that operates trains along 400 miles of Michigan tracks from Ann Arbor to Petoskey and branch lines in between. Great Lakes’ rail cars are hauling grain, plastics, lumber, fertiziler and hazardous materials within the state and connecting to the major rail companies criss-crossing the nation.
Today, companies from Williamburg (Amerhart) to Kalkaska (Magnum Solvents) to to Grawn (Cherry Growers) are regular Great Lakes customers, as are Petoskey Plastics to the north and clients in Cadillac to the south. All told, Great Lakes’ General Manager Chris Bagwell tells The Ticker a train or two per week rumbles through Traverse City.
(The next time you’re tempted to complain about the delay as you wait at one of Traverse City’s 11 railroad crossings, consider this: most local crossings hold cars for 30-60 seconds. It’s not uncommon in a downstate town like Plymouth for 90-car trains to hold crossings for 45 minutes).
Though freight trains serve important roles as engines of commerce, it's the tantalizing potential of passenger rail that has many in northern Michigan excited.
campaign to begin passenger service between Ann Arbor and Traverse City is gaining steam, led by TC-based Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities. It’s an idea that will require political support, funding, and a proven market – but the most immediate problem is the track itself: An estimated 95 percent of the tracks between Ann Arbor and Traverse City are ready to haul tourists north, but that last five percent is located right here in northern Michigan.
The Federal Railroad Administration classifies all track; class 6 track allows for speeds above 100mph for freight or passenger traffic. Much of the local track is classified as “excepted track,” which falls below Class 1, which carries a 10mph speed limit for freight and does not allow use by revenue passenger trains.
Groundwork is prioritizing advocacy for more funding to upgrade those tracks because – according to Bruckbauer – there is “widespread interest in establishing passenger rail service,” noting his organization has received “dozens of support letters from various communities and groups along the line, and we’ve raised enough funding to advance a major study on the project."...

Amtrak has it's own guest rewards program and it's own credit card. No one is giving up anything.

Every ride counts (click here) as an Amtrak Guest Rewards® member. In addition to riding the train, there are a variety of ways to earn points that quickly add up to rewards like free Amtrak®travel, upgrades, hotel stays and more.

These are some of the job listed at CSX. It isn't just train engineers.

Clerks provide a number of support jobs throughout the railroad with different titles, working in different departments. Clerks may work in the yard office, towers, mechanical shops, and other various office locations. Clerks assist with data entry, billing, customer service, procurement and transportation of items and services necessary for running the railroad. Office experience may be required. Good interpersonal and problem solving skills are important and union membership is required. Select a job description below to learn more.
Clerical positions include:
  • Crew Dispatcher: Assign train crews for rail yard and over-the-road train operations. See description
  • Field Clerk: Transport crews, perform janitorial service, and general rail yard office duties. See description
  • Jacksonville Clerk: Perform routine office or clerical support tasks. See description
  • Janitor Messenger: Perform janitorial service and general rail yard office duties. See description
  • Purchasing and Materials Clerk: Receive, maintain, and disburse inventory. See description
  • Stevedore: Operate motor vehicles on and off multi-level railcars. See description
CSX has a young voter program.

How Tomorrow Votes (click here) is a program that was conceived to provide a glimpse into what our country’s next generation of voters is thinking and feeling about the presidential election. If you can’t vote yet, you can have a voice. If you can vote, this is your chance to hear the voice of teens on the candidates, issues and what’s happening in the world as a whole.


Blog "America by Rail" (click here)

America’s rolling prairies, (click here) plains, and towering mountain peaks paint the picturesque backdrop for a USA train vacation. Add to that landscape bustling metropolises, expansive national parks, and acclaimed historic sites and attractions, and it’s easy to see why the United States is a perfect destination for a train trip.
The beauty of a vacation by rail is it begins the moment you step aboard the train. Settle into your cozy onboard accommodations and leave the driving to someone else as you travel deep into unspoiled natural beauty. Admire the passing scenery from your seat or the train’s observation lounge. Enjoy a hot meal in the dining car or the café, read a book, or listen to music as the train crisscrosses the country. While many of our independent train tours and escorted train tours include overnight travel aboard an iconic long-distance train, there is a great selection that solely feature excursions aboard day trains that are just as historic including vintage trains like the Grand Canyon Railway as well as scenic tourist trains like Colorado’s Durango & Silverton and New England’s Cape Cod Central Railroad.
Each train vacation incorporates an iconic train journey into a well-planned itinerary that also includes visits to popular destinations, comprehensive sightseeing, and more. Choose from rail trips in Alaska, popular Coast to Coast train vacations, fall foliage tours, or visits to America’s national parks by train. With more than 100 vacations in the United States alone, you’re sure to find the perfect itinerary....

Commuter rail is among the most efficient use of electrical power in trains.

March 5, 2012
By Kim Upton

...How do they do that? (click here) Power the trains
In politics the third rail is an issue so powerful, politicians do their best to avoid it. In the subway the third rail is a line of track so powerful, patrons make sure they avoid it.
And rightly so, since Metro’s trains run on 800 volts – enough to propel a packed rush-hour train at speeds of up to 70 mph through the Red Line tunnel between Hollywood/Highland and Universal City station.
On subway trains, the third rail is the source of the electrical delivery system. The same power is delivered to light-rail lines such as the Blue, Gold, Green and Expo lines via an overhead catenary system. No petroleum gas for the trains. No CNG (compressed natural gas). Just good old-fashioned electricity.
Where does the electricity come from? Like petroleum gasoline and compressed natural gas, Metro buys it. Electricity can be a product of nuclear, coal, gas, oil, water, wind or solar farm sources. In Metro’s case, the intermediary source is utility companies, including LADWP and Pasadena Water and Power — the same companies that supply power to many of our homes.
Although Metro buys many millions of dollars a year in electricity to power the rail lines, electricity is a whole lot less expensive than petroleum gasoline or even CNG. And CNG, as we’ve said in the past, is much less expensive than petroleum gas....

The top ten environmental 'johns' list of any city.

I think it is a great idea and a sound way of taking control of a city or town's carbon foot print. It is unrealistic to expect the federal government to mandate a top ten listing, but, it is very realistic for states to mandate every city or town to begin to monitor their carbon footprint and ways to do better.

Mayors of the USA have been involved with the global climate for some time now. The United Nations gave up on the USA, so it turned to the country's mayors to find an interest in protecting people from the anticipated ravages of the climate crisis. 

I congratulate Taipei, Taiwan for taking this issue seriously and I look forward to them solving their problem.

The climate crisis has a local component that is all too easy to spot in the air movement through and around the USA. Local achievements in greenhouse gas reductions can change the physics to some extent. A local effort is not a minor consideration. Every city and town should consider following this example from Taiwan.

August 19, 2016
By Yu Hsiao-han and Kuo Chung-han

Taipei, Aug. 19 (CNA) The state-owned Taiwan Power Co. (click here) (Taipower, 台電) is the main source of carbon dioxide emissions in Taiwan, according to a list released Friday by the country's Environmental Protection Administration (EPA).

The list showed the top 10 carbon dioxide emitters in Taiwan in 2014, with Taipower at the top as it was responsible for 84.59 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), or 37.36 percent of the total 226.4 million metric tons that year.

In the No. 2 spot was Formosa Petrochemical Corp. (台塑石化), with 29.77 million metric tons of CO2e, or 13.15 percent of the total.

Taipower and and Formosa Petrochemical accounted for more than half of the total emissions in 2014, the EPA data showed. They were followed by China Steel Corp. with 19.38 million metric tons of CO2e, or 8.56 percent of the total, Mai-Liao Power Corp. with 11.86 million metric tons, or 5.24 percent, and Dragon Steel Corp. with 9.76 million metric tons, or 4.31 percent, according to the list.

The top five emitters in 2014 accounted for 68.62 percent of the total emissions, the list showed....

Electric trains and I am not talking model trains.

All those electric lines are all part of the train. 

Electric locomotives (click here) are the epitome of efficiency. Even today, no other locomotive type can match the low operating costs, high tractive effort, and swift acceleration speeds of electrics. However, electrified operations do have one substantial downside; the initial cost of capital involved to reap the benefits afforded by electricity is extremely high, so much so that most railroads, even today, do not find it justifiable and choose to stick with diesel powered locomotives. The first electrics date back to 1879 when Werner Von Siemens demonstrated the first successful use of the propulsion on a small railway in Berlin, Germany. However, electrified rail operations in the United States did not come about for nearly another ten years when in 1888 General Electric successfully demonstrated the motive power on the Richmond Union Passenger Railway....

...While electrics may no longer be used in the U.S. to haul freight trains their reliability and efficiency in passenger service will likely keep them operating for decades to come, particularly as oil prices continue to rise. Extremely quiet and fast, motors are a very unique and interesting aspect of our nation’s rail system, even if they are somewhat rare in comparison to the U.S. railroad industry as a whole, and other systems around the world. Heck perhaps even one day we will again see electrics lugging freights over Stampede Pass or through the Rockies. One can always hope, anyway! 

No small achievement.

August 16, 2016
By Matt Stevens

California (click here) may be in its fifth year of drought, but on Tuesday, state water regulators effectively turned back the clock to 2013.

Staff members of the State Water Resources Control Board announced that 343 of the state’s 411 water districts reported having enough water to meet their customers’ demands -- even if the next three years are unusually dry.

To blunt the impact of drought, the state required water providers to reduce their consumption compared to 2013 levels. Each provider was assigned a so-called conservation standard, which was expressed as a percentage.  As of Tuesday, the vast majority of those standards have been officially set at 0%....

Mountain snowpacks (click here) are frozen reservoirs, their spring melt supplying as much as 75 percent of the West’s water. Decades of measurements, taken by hand or automatic sensors, show dramatic decline. Readings are taken yearly on April 1, when snowpack water content has historically peaked.

The California Water Crisis began with a chronic short fall in snow pack. This is an article form National Geographic explaining the importance of snow to a person's water reservoir. That is right. The people in California came to realize how very personal the water crisis was. It began with poor snow pack. That is what every environmentalist and conservationist has always tried to have the people of the USA realize; it is not about tree hugging (although I find nothing wrong with tree hugging), it is about water, survival and realizing how close a person is to snow pack they have never seen in their lives.

Snowpack is a legal term. It is simple and nearly self explanatory. Don't look at environmentalists and conservationists as if they failed their service to the American people; they did their job; the real people responsible for this crisis are the politicians and lobbyists for the petroleum industry and election monies.
Eurostar has done its homework (click here) and commissioned independent research to assess the CO2 per passenger produced by a London-Paris Eurostar journey versus that emitted by a passenger on a London-Paris flight.  The research looked at actual Eurostar passenger loadings, actual Eurostar power consumption, the way Eurostar's electricity is generated, actual aircraft loadings, actual aircraft fuel consumption, and so on.  The conclusion was remarkable:  Taking the train to Paris instead of flying cuts CO2 emissions per passenger not just by a measly 10% or 20% or even 50%, but by a staggering 90%...

And with airport security tightened, check-ins up to 2 hours even for a 1-hour flight, plus the time and cost involved in getting to and from remote airports at each end, taking the train city centre to city centre will probably cut your stress levels by a similar percentage.

Incidentally, the environmental benefit of taking the train instead of a plane may be much greater than 90%.  Airliners emit their CO2 directly into the upper atmosphere, where it is likely to do over twice the damage of the same quantity of CO2 emitted at ground level (estimates vary between 2 & 3 times the damage, but 2.7 is the factor normally used).  This factor isn't included in the Eurostar findings.  Here are some estimated comparisons (showing CO2 quantities alone, excluding the upper atmosphere effect):...

Many countries in the world are not as lazy as the USA when it comes to the climate crisis. They are knee deep in solving it.

They don't sacrifice conscience for economic wealth. The balance is interesting and in some cases merchants and environmentalists see the same goal.


Finland’s forest protection (click here) goals may remain unrealised if current programmes to promote biodiversity don’t receive more funding, says the country’s top forest products companies and environmental organisations. The unlikely partnership says the Metso forest biodiversity programme needs 30 million euros more than have been allocated by the government if it hopes to have lasting impact....

I know it is difficult to prioritize conservation over other national priorities, but, it is a dire need that has no voice. It is important countries globally assess their conservation programs and move forward to protect forests, ecosystems and species. Earth is drying up and the only thing that will stop it is the biology that thrived before.

...One-of-a-kind functioning solution

Finland’s forest industry giant UPM says it is clear that forest protection is an integral part of sustainable forest management. Timo Lehesvirta, UPM’s global forest director, has been active in the development of the Metso programme since its inception.
He praises its voluntary approach to forest conservation, saying it is both unique and has been clearly shown to meet a need.
“When conservation efforts stem from the owner, its voluntary nature adds to the overall acceptability of the decision among forest owners,” says Lehesvirta, adding that this is true especially when compared to the alternative: the state determining which areas should be protected.
UPM alone owns 700,000 hectares of forested land in Finland, approximately ten percent of which is protected, Lehesvirta says.
The Nature Conservation Association’s Lundvall says Metso’s achievements to date won’t be lost if more funding can’t be secured, but many things will be left unfinished and, more importantly, great locations will remain unprotected....
Any silviculturist first had to love the forest before the profit to an economic engine is thought about. Trees are paramount to Earth's greenhouse gas balance.
Silviculturists salaries vary from $42,000 to $62,000 annually, depending on education and experience. 
Silviculturists (click here) who are sometimes called "forester silviculturists" "forestry professionals" or "natural resource professionals" work to shape policies for managing maintaining and conserving sustainable forests. They develop procedures and plan projects that will ensure trees will remain healthy and disease-free.
According to the website silviculturists study the rate at which trees grow and how factors such as fires and animals may affect whether various species of trees germinate. They also determine whether trees are in need of pruning and they develop systems for labeling and identifying trees to keep track of their growth and evaluate when pruning may be beneficial. They may work for tree nurseries that cultivate new trees that will replace old ones that die. In short their expertise is in planning and monitoring forests to insure their continued viability over a long period of time. 
Silviculturists often work outdoors driving to remote sites and then walking through thick forests to examine the state of the trees and plan projects that will ensure that the tree stands remain a valuable commodity. 
The website says that the credentials for becoming a silviculturist include a bachelor's degree in forestry as well as experience in managing forests. Silviculturist positions are greatly coveted and those who aspire to this profession often spend time as entry-level technicians or lower level technician supervisors either during or after they earn a college degree in forestry. 
Silviculturists work for landowners private companies or for the government. According to the website earnings by silviculturists vary widely depending on level of experience and location as well as type of employer for whom they work but the average annual salary is approximately $52000....
To the left are other jobs and their salaries in similar fields.

Environmentalists and conservationists frequently talk about trains as an answer in the climate crisis.

But, do they know exactly what they are talking about?

People concerned with the climate crisis, which should be the entire world by now, would be pleasantly surprised, it isn't diesel fuel that pulls the freight. It is the wheels that pull the freight and they are powered with electricity. The diesel engine of a locomotive is the power house that supplies the electricity to the wheels.

Diesel locomotives, (click here) technically known as diesel-electrics, came into widespread use here in the United States with the development of the Electro-Motive Corporation’s (EMC, later to become the General Motors' Electro-Motive Division, or EMD) EA/EB design, first tested on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad (B&O) in the late 1930s. The diesel-electric locomotive would also become a major milestone in technological development for North American railroads as it symbolized the end of the only motive power type (aside from electrics) to be used in the industry up until that time, the steam locomotive....
It's Sunday Night

"Clear the Air" by Off With Their Heads (click here for their web store - thank you)

I wanted to tell you, I wanted to share,
Some important details that you're unaware of
I want you to listen, I want you to care,
I'll choke to death if I don't clear the air
It's not a secret that I obsess,
And then I get angry, and then I get stressed
And you can't imagine and you can't compare,
You have no frame of reference and then you get scared
I'm doing my best to help make you see,
That it's not your fault, when I'll beg and I'll plead
It's much easier just to go back to sleep,
But we gotta find a place to start because I'm falling apart

I never feel happy, I never feel safe,
I can't let myself ever stay in one place
I look in the mirror and I see the face
Of a failure who will never be significant
The face that you see from the morning to night
Is the mask that I put on to hide what's inside
I don't take it off until you fall asleep,
I don't want you to see what live inside of me
I thought I'd get older and it'd go away,
But it only gets worse and causes more pain
And being alone is getting so hard,
I just got to tell you

God damnit, I'm falling apart
I'm down on my knees in the dark
Feeling for whatever is left
But the pieces are falling too far

God damnit, I'm falling apart
I'm down on my knees in the dark (I'm falling apart)
Feeling for whatever is left (I'm falling apart)
But the pieces are falling too far

Don't leave yet, I haven't got to the part that explains at all
Don't leave yet, I need somebody there to catch me before I fall
To catch me before I fall
God damnit, I'm falling apart

I wanted to tell you, I wanted to share,
Some important details that you're unaware
I want you to listen, I want you to care,
I'll choke to death if I don't clear the air right now

I'd like to say this is a resurgence of racism in the USA, but, I think it was always there. It is just more fashionable now.

August 22, 2016

A customer left a nasty note for Sadie Karina Elledge saying "we only tip citizens." Photo / Courtesy of John Elledge via Washington Post

The message (click here) on the receipt rattled Sadie Karina Elledge, but it made her grandfather see red.
Instead of leaving a gratuity on Monday, a couple eating at the Harrisonburg, Virginia, restaurant where Sadie works scrawled: "We only tip citizens."
The dig was aimed at Sadie, 18, who was born in America, but is of Honduran and Mexican descent. So, John Elledge took a photo of the grease-stained receipt left for his granddaughter and posted it on Facebook.
Beneath the photo he typed: "You are a complete and total piece of dung."
Earlier on Facebook, the lawyer had written some other harsh words:
"I'd happily do the jail time if I could get just one solid punch in to the face of the son of a bitch who paid for his meal at the luncheonette where my granddaughter works and left the receipt for her with a note saying, 'Sorry, we only tip citizens.'"

I have stated from the first demand for the governor's resignation, he can't afford to resign.

August 19, 2016
By Ron Fonger

Lansing, MI -- Criminal cases against state employees (click here) charged with wrongdoing in the Flint water crisis are just beginning, but legal fees have already risen to more than $5 million for Gov. Rick Snyder and two departments in state government.
Snyder will tell the State Administrative Board on Aug. 30 that he is raising the spending caps on contracts for two law firms representing his office against civil lawsuits related to Flint water — enough to cover $3.4 million in billings so far, the governor's press secretary said.
In addition, Department of Environmental Quality and Department of Health and Human Services representatives said they have spent an additional $1.6 million for lawyer fees related to Flint as of Aug. 1....

Some would say Dr. Edwards bites the hand that feeds him. It is easy to classify a real hero to the common man or woman a troublemaker. But, the trouble would not exist to find if government was not so corrupt and disinterested in the people that elected them. To me, I envy his lab and consider him a revolutionary. He is the only scientist frustrated with the spill over politics into science; global warming is only part of that reality.

Troublemaker brings images of "Dennis the Menace" or a scientist that creates their own absurd ideas. Dr. Edwards is none of those. He is a PhD scientist prepared to address real issues of real people. To think his work is only beginning and not following in the foot steps of those before him would indicate those before him were corrupted by the same politics that has tossed out establishment politicians.

Dr. Edwards is a hero and nothing short of it. I doubt he sees himself as anything more than a scientist conducting necessary work. What is surprising is that his necessary work would not be required IF the governance was not so corrupt to allow poisoning of the people of the electorate. An odd thought, isn't it? People are elected to office and instead of protecting the electorate and afraid of being removed from office or defeated in the next election; they hunker down with cronies and plan against the very people that should be protected by their government.

No. Dr. Edwards is not a troublemaker, he is one who discovers the trouble instilled by the corrupt and uncaring. He is definitely a revolutionary, carrying out the moral path that will add quality of life and longevity to American lives.

August 16, 2016
By Donovon Hohn

'''In the history of political graffiti, (click here) “We want Va. Tech” may sound like one of the least stirring demands ever spray-­painted on a wall, but in the context of Flint, it was charged with the emotion and meaning of a rallying cry.

By “Va. Tech,” the message’s author meant a Virginia Tech professor of civil and environmental engineering, Marc Edwards. Edwards has spent most of his career studying the aging waterworks of America, publishing the sort of papers that specialists admire and the rest of us ignore, on subjects like “ozone-­induced particle destabilization” or the “role of temperature and pH in Cu(OH)₂ solubility.” Explaining his research to laypeople, he sometimes describes it as “the C.S.I. of plumbing.” Edwards is a detective with a research lab and a Ph.D. In 2000, after homeowners in suburban Maryland began reporting “pinhole leaks” in their copper pipes, the water authority there brought in Edwards. In 2002, after receiving a report that water in a Maui neighborhood had mysteriously turned blue and was giving people rashes, Edwards took on the case.
Until last year, the most famous case Edwards investigated was the lead contamination of the water supply in the nation’s capital — still the worst such event in modern American history, in magnitude and duration. In Washington, lead levels shot up in 2001, and in some neighborhoods they remained dangerously elevated until 2010. Edwards maintains, and spent years working to prove, that scientific misconduct at the Environmental Protection Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention exacerbated the D.C. crisis....

If DC isn't even interested in it's own water, why would anyone expect anyone else to be? It is corruption through and through and it needs to be flushed out at every turn. Dr. Edwards is not an idealist, he is a realist. 

May 20, 2010

...CDC has yet to Inform the Public Health Community of its Faulty Analysis...

Saving lives, delivering a better quality of life and adding longevity to Americans can hardly be called trouble making.

Let's just call Dr. Edwards a new breed of scientist and for them the world is grossly flawed. Dr. Edward's view of the world increases opportunity for new scientists that actually don't want to surrender their careers to corruption.