The Dangers of Permafrost Thaw

The Dangers Of Permafrost Thaw

Permafrost thaw is a growing danger

The Dangers of Permafrost Thaw

By Anne Rose Muiruri

What Is Permafrost?

Permafrost is any sort of frozen ground, ranging from soil to sediment to rock, that has remained frozen for at least two years and as long as hundreds of thousands of years. It can range in depth from a few feet to more than a mile beneath the earth’s surface, covering huge regions like the Arctic tundra or a single, isolated point like an alpine permafrost mountaintop.

Microbial Breakdown

Microbes that breakdown the carcasses of plants and animals release carbon dioxide, methane, and other global warming gases into the air. A deep freeze successfully halts that process, preserving organisms as well as the gases they would otherwise release underground in the permafrost. The microbial decomposition of those organic materials—and the emission of greenhouse gases—restarts when frozen soil thaws.

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Thinking Tiny House?

Thinking Tiny House?

A lot of people are looking to tiny house living.

Thinking Tiny House?

Not everyone wants a mega mansion. In fact, there is a growing minimalist movement in the U.S.

D. S. Mitchell

‘Downsize Revolution’

If  you’ve  ever watched “Tiny House Nation” or “Tiny House” on television you are aware of a growing trend in the United States toward minimalist living. Many people are attracted to the prospect of financial freedom, a simpler lifestyle, and a smaller human environmental footprint.  Cities are encouraging ADUs (Accessory Living Units) in urban areas to increase housing options. The “downsize revolution” promotes living structures with sizes between 300 and 700 square feet. In general, the tiny home is 400 sq. ft or less. In some cases, the homes are even on wheels. Despite the stated positives, they are not for everyone.

Costs To Consider

Small does not necessarily equate with cheap. A tiny house can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $150,000. There is no land, so in some ways it is like a mobile home, the owner of a tiny home needs to find space to rent or buy to place the home. Holy Moly. The cost is dependent on a series of factors: location, building complexity, materials, and finally are you doing it yourself, or are you having it built. A contractor construction package will generally cost twice as much as a “do it yourself” house.

Reduced Appliance Size

Not always identified, but a serious matter, are the extra building costs for appliances, fixtures, water heaters and heating & cooling systems because of their reduced size. The rule it seems is that the smaller, the more expensive. It is important that you do some very careful figuring before you commit yourself to building a tiny home. One recommendation would be to get a minimum of three bids. Many builders  do sizeable markups on small projects.

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OPINION: Joe Manchin Shows His Political Ass

OPINION: Joe Manchin Shows His Political Ass

OPINION: Joe Manchin Show His Political Ass

I think it is time to remove the obstructionists from the Democratic Party

D. S. Mitchell

Joe’s Talking on Fox

12/19/2021. Joe Manchin (D.W.V.) is on FoxNews (sic) telling Bret Baier he “cannot vote” for the Build Back Better bill. Finally after months of dancing about, throwing up one road block after another Manchin, playing with the press and his colleagues has finally come clean and said it out loud. He, the lone Democrat,  was now going to squash the bill, that would have given assistance to 70% of his constituents.

Out of Touch

I am dumbfounded. How could this rich, fat, white, yacht sunning, coal mine owning, entitled man be so cruel, and corrupt? How can he shut his eyes to the basic needs of the most vulnerable people in his state? West Virginia is one of the poorest states in this country, it seems Joe wants to keep it that way. By standing against the BBB act Manchin is not only denying West Virginians food on the table, affordable prescriptions for life saving medicines, and dentures in their mouths, but every other person in the country. Without remorse, apparently.  Enraged, I switched to CNN where Jake Tapper was interviewing Bernie Sanders (I.Vt).

Unrestrained Passion

Bernie Sanders went after the failed senator from West Virginia with unrestrained passion. Bernie called Manchin a “coward” for not standing up to the lobbyists and special interest groups (which Manchin is part of). Bernie, is also a wealthy man, just like Joe Manchin. But, Bernie seems to have a deep well of human empathy, decency, and compassion, which apparently, Manchin cannot understand or emulate. Is Manchin capable of embarrassment?  Being the only Democratic senator that is willing to let kids go hungry, not only in West Virginia, but across the nation, should make him red faced with shame and embarrassment.

Purge the Party 

It is time to purge the Democratic party of obstructionists, like Manchin, that are willing to stop a president and his policies by their single vote. Joe Manchin you were not elected president of the United States. Get in line and support President Biden and the Democratic platform. Support voting rights. If you are a Republican, Mr. Manchin, run as one, don’t pretend to be a Democrat. Be brave. Be courageous. As I see it Mr. Manchin, is intent on his legacy being nothing more than the dark smear left by a wet fart.

Quotes on Courage

Here’s a brief collection of some pretty smart comments by some pretty smart people on the topic of courage in life and politics.

1.) “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen,” Winston Churchill

3.) “Courage conquers all things,”  Ovid

4.) “The strongest, most generous and proudest of all virtues is courage,” Michel De Montaigne

Conclusion

It is time to fight the obstructionists in the Democratic party. Joe Manchin cannot be allowed to stand in the way of progress much longer. He has ‘shown his ass.’ as they say in Texas, and a few other places; time for Mr. Manchin to vote with his party or leave the party.

Plastic Waste, A Global Concern

Plastic Waste, A Global Concern

Plastic pollution is a world catastrophe

Plastic Waste, A Global Concern

By William Jones

What is Plastic?

Plastic is a synthetic organic polymer made from petroleum.  Plastic is ideally suited for a wide variety of applications. Packaging, building and construction, household and sports equipment, vehicles, electronics, and agriculture; the uses are endless. It is cheap, lightweight, strong and malleable. Over 300 million tons of plastic are produced every year. Half of plastic products are designed for single-use; such as shopping bags, cups, and straws. While plastic has many valuable uses, we have become addicted to single-use or disposable plastic — with severe environmental consequences.

Oil, Natural Gas and Coal

More than 99% of plastics are produced from chemicals derived from oil, natural gas, and coal — all of which are dirty, non-renewable resources. If current trends continue, by 2050 the plastic industry could account for 20% of the world’s total oil consumption.

Worrying Trends

We produce about 300 million tonnes (metric tons) of plastic waste each year. That’s nearly equivalent to the weight of the entire human population. We’re seeing  worrying trends. Since the 1950s, the rate of plastic production has grown faster than that of any other material. We’ve also seen a shift away from the production of durable plastic, and towards plastics that are meant to be thrown away after a single use. These single-use plastic products are everywhere. For many of us, they’ve become integral to our daily lives.

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Electric Vehicle Basics

Electric Vehicle Basics

Electric Vehicle basics

Electric Vehicle Basics

By D.S. Mitchell

Worth Looking Into

The financial benefits of owning and driving an electric vehicle play out in the long run. To begin with, you’ll spend a bit more on the purchase price for an electric car, but you can make up for that cost with tax benefits and immediate savings on fuel. There are also local rebate options worth checking into. Electric vehicles are also really good for the environment, which is enough to convince buyers.

1.) Purchase Price: Government subsidies to off-set the higher sticker cost of an EV versus an ICE (internal combustion engine) are helping purchasers switch from a gas powered vehicle to an electric vehicle. Currently, tax rebates and auto maker incentives provide about $7,500 toward the purchase price of an EV. EV costs are continuing to drop, and Bloomberg has predicted that EV battery costs will halve by 2025. At which point electric and gas vehicles should be at price parity. A couple things to keep in mind about the EV tax credit include:

  • Tax credits are for owners only.
  • The federal tax credit is not available to those simply buying an electric car in order to resell it.
  • In order to qualify for the federal tax credit, the electric car must be mostly used within the U.S.
  • The manufacturer must be qualified for your car to be eligible.
  • The battery of the EV must be able to store at least 4 kWh of energy.
  • The battery must also be able to be charged by an external energy source.
  • An electric vehicle tax claim can be denied, the IRS always has that right.

Other tax credits, especially state and local, for electric cars apply to businesses. Sometimes, a business can enjoy tax exemption status of some sort as reward for owning an electric company car.

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The Electric Vehicle Revolution

The Electric Vehicle Revolution

The Electric Vehicle Revolution is here

Electric vehicles are the future, be ready. . . 

The Electric Vehicle Revolution

“Adoption of a new technology, like EV’s (electric vehicles) may seem slow or look like it’s never going to happen, until it passes a threshold. . . .and then it just takes off.” *Reda Cherif  

By D. S. Mitchell

Horse and Buggy Days

There is a growing understanding that gas and diesel-powered vehicles will soon join the horse and buggy and dial telephone. New studies support a rapid acceleration process and a gathering momentum of the coming EV tsunami. Surprising as it may seem, soothsayers predict that more than 90% of all passenger vehicles in the U.S., Canada, Europe and other wealthy industrialized countries will be EV by 2040. Some studies are even more bullish, predicting that by 2030, ninety percent of all U.S. vehicles will be EV. That is less than 9 years away.

A Big Culprit

One of the major sources of deadly air pollution, and a major factor in climate change, is transportation. In order to protect the climate and the health of our citizens it is imperative we modify the vehicles on our roads. A few years ago, transportation edged out power plants as the leading source of carbon emissions. We can end this catastrophe. Sources tell us a rapid shift to electric vehicles can cut more than 800 million tons of CO2 emissions every year by 2040, and cumulative reductions will reach 16.2 billion tons by 2050.

New Technology

The transition is going to happen fast because EV’s are better than gas vehicles. There is less maintenance, lower operating costs, and more power. A big factor in boosting sales of EV’s is that production costs are also coming down. The cost of an EV battery has dropped 86% in the last 10 years. In spite of chip shortages and COVID-19 challenges, Ford Motor Co. has been showing profits throughout 2021. Ford announced that its F-150 Lightening electric pickup has generated over 120,000 pre-orders since it was unveiled to great fanfare in May.

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Carbon Positive Landscaping

Carbon Positive Landscaping

Carbon Positive Landscaping

Carbon Positive Landscaping

By D. S. Mitchell

Past Behavior

I have been planting native species plants and using water conserving drip irrigation for at least a decade. But I want to take it to the next level. I opened the March/April 2021 issue of Sierra magazine and found an article that motivated me to get busy. To be carbon positive, just means  your landscape/plantings remove more carbon dioxide than they generate.  Planting a tree that will grow large can remove hundreds of pounds of carbon from the atmosphere over its lifetime. Conversely, adding a concrete patio can add hundreds of pounds of carbon to the atmosphere. Lydia Lee’s article offered some great suggestions on how to create a truly green landscape.

Do a Carbon Audit

There is a free carbon calculator at climatepositivedesign.com/pathfinder, just enter details about hardscaping, plants, and maintenance equipment into the free carbon calculator. For example, stone pavers score poorly because of the intense amount of energy required to cut and transport them. You can also download the Climate Positive Design Toolkit,  which lists 50 strategies for improving your landscapes footprint, such as planting bamboo.

Avoid Concrete

Concrete is essentially artificial rock. Using concrete for a walkway or a patio dramatically increases your garden’s environmental footprint. Concrete is created with cement which during manufacturing needs to be heated to 2,500 degrees F. It would be better to use decomposed granite or gravel when creating paths and patios. A new product, Trugrid (truegridpaver.com) is a permeable paving system that holds gravel in place. The product is made from post-consumer recycled plastic. It even allows rainwater to drain into the ground rather than run off.

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Care of Personal Information

Keeping private information private. Knowing when and what to shred.

Care Of Personal Information

D. S. Mitchell

Old Magazines

I was in my home office going through old magazines trying to decide what to send to the recycler and what to keep for later reference when I flipped through a February 2016 Reader’s Digest article that offered information on shredding. Most importantly they described when and what to shred.  It seems our greatest danger is through ‘mass hackings’ of our credit information. No matter how cautious we are our greatest danger is as victims of other people’s carelessness, or bad intent.  But, every bit of protection we can develop should help keep our private information private. Kelsey Kloss article suggested the following things, we as individuals can do to protect ourselves.

Take Special Precautions with:
  1. Receipts: If you aren’t saving the receipt for taxes or other purposes and you made your purchase with a credit or debit card shred it. The receipt shows the last 4 digits of the card number and possibly your signature. Those clever crooks can use receipts for fraudulent returns and benefit from your store credit.
  2. Prescription Labels: Sometimes they are stapled to the prescription bag or on the bottle. Labels frequently list your name, date of dispensing, name and strength of the drug and dispensing pharmacy.  Crooks can use the information to refill prescriptions or steal your identity.
  3. Pet Medical Documents: Keep records of major events for the pets health history, but shred the rest.  The paperwork will show your name, address, phone and the pet’s name, which according to many studies to be the most common computer password choices.
  4. Airline Boarding Passes: Shred after landing. The boarding pass will show your name, your itinerary, and a bar code that in some cases will show your frequent flier number, which would allow thieves to “log in to airline accounts to view upcoming travel plans, check in to flights, and even cancel trips.”
  5. Return Labels: Shred free return labels that come in the mail and any envelopes showing your name and address. When writing a return address on an envelope omit your name. Identity thieves will use that information to collect more information from social media and piece together your identity.

Remember, any little thing we can do to help keep our private information private should be considered important. Do it, you’ll be glad you did.

 

ENERGY SAVING TIPS: Season Specific Ideas

ENERGY SAVING TIPS:

Season Specific Ideas

This article is a continuation of www.calamitypolitics.com 10/16/19 article, “ENERGY SAVING TIPS THAT COST NOTHING.

ENERGY SAVING TIPS: Season Specific

By D. S. Mitchell

FALL AND WINTER SPECIFIC OPTIONS

Saving energy and money is a great dual purpose. As the weather begins to cool it is important to take control of your energy use. Check out the following energy saving tips to start today. Most of these tips are referred to in Part One of this article.

  • Add or repair weatherstripping on windows and doors to reduce heat loss and drafts.
  • Reverse the direction of your ceiling fan in colder weather. Running the fan in reverse pulls the warm air off the ceiling and disperses it throughout the room.
  • Check your air filters every month to improve air quality, reduce heating costs, and improve the efficiency of your heating system. Be sure to change the filters regularly to keep the system running properly.
  • If you have a programmable thermostat, program it to automatically change to the temperature at set times for each day. Temperature is a personal/household decision, but the U.S. Department of Energy suggests setting your thermostat to 68 degrees F while you are awake and at home and lower it while you’re asleep or away from home.
  • Take advantage of winter sunlight by opening your shades, allowing for natural light and capturing the warmth from the sun.
  • Keep furniture, drapes, carpets, and other objects from blocking the vents or registers.  Blocked wall/baseboard heaters or register vents prevent heated air from circulating freely around the room and may cause your heating system to work harder and prevents rooms from warming up to the set temperature on the thermostat.
  • Lower your thermostat when using your fireplace and close the damper when not in use.
  • Holiday lighting can increase your energy bill, so consider using LED holiday lighting instead of standard incandescent bulbs. They use less energy, stay cooler to reduce the risk of fire and injury, and last longer.

SPRING AND SUMMER SPECIFIC OPTIONS

As spring and summer months start heating up, many of us look for ways to keep cool without breaking the bank. Consider adopting some of these tips to increase your comfort while saving.

  • Block heat from entering your home in the warmer months by keeping your shades closed. Sunlight passing through windows heats your home and makes your air conditioner work harder.
  • Consider installing shade screens, awnings, or window film or blinds to prevent solar heat gain.
  • Hang laundry outside when weather permits. Not only does it save energy, but reduces the wear and tear on your clothes to help them last longer.
  • Switch to LED light bulbs. They use a fifth of the energy used by regular bulbs and keep your home cooler on warm days.
  • Well-placed trees and landscaping can help reduce heat gain and increase your comfort on warm days.
  • If you need to replace your window air conditioning unit, consider investing in an efficient Energy Star certified unit. They typically use about 10% less energy than conventional models.  (1) Make sure the unit you purchase is the right size for the area you are cooling; a unit that is too large will operate less efficiently. (2) Before cold weather hits, make sure to remove your unit from the window to help it last longer.
  • Use fans instead of air conditioning to stay cool on warm days. This can be more cost effective than cooling your entire home because they target a specific area. It’s important to have the blades spinning in the right direction to improve cooling.

ENERGY SAVING TIPS THAT COST NOTHING

ENERGY SAVING TIPS THAT COST NOTHING

By D. S. Mitchell

My PUD

I was on my local PUD (Public Utility District) website to make my monthly electric service payment, when for the first time I noticed they had a tab for Energy Saving Tips. Whoopee! So, without hesitation I opened the tab and found a treasure trove of no cost to moderate cost energy-saving tips. I was so impressed I printed it off for later reference. Hopefully you will find it helpful and will share all your new knowledge with friends and family.

No Cost Options

Saving money and addressing environmental issues are both good things.  Some of the tips may be familiar and obvious while others are not. Take a look and see if you can’t find something that will help you save energy and benefit the environment. An energy-efficient home will be a pleasure to come home to while saving you money.

Jump Start Energy Saving Now

  • Lower your thermostat when you go to bed or when you are away from home. Use a programmable thermostat, so it is automatic. Every degree lowered can decrease the heating portion of your energy bill by 2%.
  • Get in the habit of shutting off lights as you leave a room. Don’t forget to shut of PC’s and other devices when not in use.
  • Close your fireplace damper when there is no fire. Leaving it open is like having a 48 inch square hole in your house.
  • Set your water heater to 120 degrees F. (which is comfortable for most people). When going away for any length of time set it to vacation mode, or simply turn it down.
  • When washing cloths or dishes, wash only full loads and those in cold water.
  • Air-dry your dishes or use air-dry feature on the dishwasher. When weather permits, hang your clothes outside on a clothesline to dry.
  • Use kitchen and bathroom fans to cut moisture, as needed.
  • Set your refrigerator between 36-39 degrees F.
  • In the winter, open south-facing drapes/blinds during the day to let heat in and close all window drapes and blinds at night.
  • Unplug laptop or cell phone battery chargers when not in use. Most draw power continuously, even when there are no devices plugged into the charger.
  • Vacuum refrigerator coils of lint and clean the lint from clothes dryer often to increase efficiency.
  • Use a toaster over or microwave for cooking and heating small portions.
  • Use zonal-heat (baseboard, ceiling or wall heat) to your advantage by only heating rooms that are in use.
  • Consider using jugs of water to occupy the space in your refrigerator. It takes more energy to cool an empty fridge than a full one.

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