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Steve Milloy has great fun with the limousine liberal leftist hacks at The Nation

"Junkman" Steve Milloy, publisher of the essential junkscience.com pulls out all the stops as he excoriates these uber-hypocrites.

The target here is The Nation's 14th Annual Seminar Cruise to the Caribbean (December 11-18, 2011) with stops in Grand Turk, San Juan and St. Maarten. Milloy notes that just two days before the announcement for the cruise came out, the magazine ran an online feature entitled "Six ways to green your spring break."

Of course, a high-end cruise violates most of the precepts of "Green" travel. But, that's only the tip of the iceberg.

Read his complete posting.


Fighting back against the frauds at the EWG

A new force has joined us in the fight against the fear entrepreneurs. Surf over to Safe Fruits and Veggies.com, and read some common sense, which should help counteract the nonsense disseminated on a daily basis by the inaptly named Environmental Working Group. (I call it "inapt" unless they're talking about working on the environment of your wallet.)

A favorite (and unfortunately effective) technique of EWG and other bottom-feeders is to simply create a list of chemicals that might be present in a particular food or personal care item. Then, they try to scare you about it, but more importantly try to convince you to send them money.

Forget about the actual concentrations of these chemicals, or the first rule of toxicology "The dose makes the poison." Forget also, that if you were to run assays on "organically grown" crops, you would still find naturally-present chemicals such as formaldehyde. Moreover, even if you were going to get concerned over such matters, the analytical methods of EWG have often been criticized—that is, when they are even disclosed.

One the many good points made on the site is:

An analysis conducted by a panel of experts recently found that the often cited "dirty" lists of produce items are misleading to consumers, that there is no evidence that the pesticide levels found pose any health risk, and that these lists should not be used to guide purchasing decisions for fruits and vegetables.

Apparently, the EWG has already backed off from some of its initial propaganda, based on data presented on the Safe Fruits and Veggies site, and its Expert Panel Report. (pdf download)

Check it out!


Mobilizing good health

My latest HND piece shines the spotlight on the world of mobile health apps. Thousands of these apps are currently available, and they range from counting calories to remote patient monitoring, whereby a physician can keep tabs on your health condition.

I check in with Mark Stetler of AppMuse—a company that matches would-be app purveyors with suitable developers—to get a bead on where this field is headed. Also included are a few remarks from the usual naysayers.

Read the complete article.


The most accurate conversion utilities on the Web

Yes, they really are. I'm talking about the conversion utilities that apply to common units of measurement for gas concentration.

For some years, the good folks at Interscan have made available on their website downloadable Excel spreadsheets, to perform such conversions as parts-per-million to milligrams per cubic meter. Since these calculations take into account ALL necessary parameters (unlike most other web-based "converters") as well as maintain at least two decimal places, they truly are the most accurate on the Web.

Recently, Interscan updated the converters. They are now easy-to-use script based utilities, requiring only a few keystrokes. The conversions are made on the fly.

By way of background, Interscan also offers an informative Knowledge Base article on the stupidity of some of the alternative units of measurement.


National Gypsum answers its critics--finally

Michael Foreman and I (as members of the ASTM committee investigating Chinese drywall) have been calling on the domestic gypsum industry to stand up, and present information on what it knows about the Chinese drywall mess. Sadly, the official position of the industry trade association has been to acknowledge that there is a problem with Chinese board, and that the domestic manufacturers are not involved—period.

I have tried in vain to convince association management that this stance is not good enough. When the only news about a product is uniformly bad, there is going to be blowback to the domestic industry—regardless of the facts. As it happens, I was right.

National Gypsum, unique in the domestic industry, has finally launched an extremely helpful and informative website, discussing the tainted and corrosive drywall matter in detail.

Of course, they were forced to do this since they found themselves the subject of a class action lawsuit. It is clear that the allegations against National are completely groundless, and I wish them all good luck.

They should be warned that science doesn't always win litigation, and proactive PR a few years ago could have done wonders. Still...better late than never.

Craig D. Weisbruch—National Gypsum's Sr. Vice President, Sales and Marketing—is to be commended.


Can technology keep up with regulatory zeal?

Our friends at Interscan have prepared a nifty PowerPoint presentation entitled "Issues with low concentration gas detection in ambient air."   (1.9 MB)

While this may seem like an arcane subject, it really shouldn't be. Virtually every industry is affected by regulatory agencies that set compliance levels, and keep lowering them, for the level of toxic compounds in ambient air. Yet, the pitfalls of attempting to measure these concentrations are not well publicized—at all.

Interscan details three areas of concern:

  • Calibration issues
  • Zero gas issues
  • Interference issues

The information presented is practical and easy-to-understand. What's more, unlike so many other authors of PowerPoint content, Interscan distributes the native file, rather than a pdf version.

I mention this because, as one who does PowerPoints himself, distributing only the pdf versions has always seemed ridiculous. With the pdf, you lose all the cool formatting, and that's at least half of what makes a good presentation. Years ago, this practice could be justified since it reduced the file size, but with today's broadband speeds, it is no longer appropriate.

Interscan offers additional PowerPoint shows for free download, as well.

Check them out.


Michael Foreman's Chinese drywall inspection protocol is now available for free download

This is big news.

Foreman and Associates, Inc. has been leading the way in Chinese drywall (more appropriately called tainted corrosive drywall) testing and remediation since August, 2008. Bear in mind that the Consumer Product Safety Commission—the lead federal agency on this matter—officially started receiving complaints in December, 2008.

Go here to download the free protocol.

In October, 2009, I was involved in organizing an ASTM workgroup with the task of creating an inspection protocol for tainted corrosive drywall. Shortly thereafter, I recruited Foreman into the workgroup.

In January of 2010, Foreman submitted his then proprietary protocol to the workgroup, in the hopes of jump-starting our activities. Beyond modifying his document to put it in conformance with the ASTM format, little more would have been required. Yet, for a number of reasons—none of them good—almost no progress was made toward approving the protocol until November.

Suffice to say that there were a variety of political elements at play, as well crass commercial interests on the part of the so-called "technical contact" of the workgroup—who is in the business of selling certifications in various aspects of tainted drywall evaluation. Amazingly, this same individual is still a proponent of the long-discredited use of x-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (XRF) as a tool in inspecting for tainted corrosive drywall.

As it happens, the progress that did occur in November was solely as a result of one member, who fashioned essentially a simplified version of what Foreman had submitted almost 11 months earlier. This simplified version was actually submitted to the workgroup in August, but inexplicably, no action was taken until an official committee meeting in November.

I will spare you the details regarding the unprecedented rancor and less than robust ASTM management oversight that has marred this workgroup from its very outset.

Frustrated with the endless delays and grotesque politics, Foreman has made his formerly proprietary document freely available to all.


A needless, nationwide bed bug epidemic

Alan Caruba nails it with his recent piece on the EPA-caused bed bug epidemic. Just one more example of how the EPA is the worst federal agency, bar none.

And, let me tell you, there is plenty of competition.

Caruba's blog is required reading, especially if you've had enough of the conventional "wisdom."


Driving US families into fuel poverty (Guest article)

Will America learn in time from the price being paid by British companies and families?

By   Niger Innis, Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, and Amy Frederick

 

The Obama Administration still hasn't gotten the message voters sent Washington on November 2.

The lame duck session and 111th Congress finally ended, without the White House getting key items on its wish list. So now, the Environmental Protection Agency and Interior Department intend to impose costly, job-killing, economy-strangling new rules for power plants and refineries, and implement more land-grabs that will lock up additional millions of acres and more billions of dollars of American energy.

Their goal is to end the hydrocarbon and nuclear era in America, and force us to convert to "renewable" energy. Beginning January 2, they plan to ignore clear voter mandates and consumer needs—and use regulations and executive edicts to slash carbon dioxide emissions, impose "clean energy standards," halt onshore and offshore drilling, and hobble the vehicles, electrical generating plants and factories that are the backbone of our nation's economy, jobs and living standards.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson claims these actions are needed to ensure "environmental justice" for poor and minority families threatened by "man-made global warming." Meanwhile, the United States and entire Northern Hemisphere are enduring yet another nasty winter, marked by early snow storms and record cold temperatures. Some scientists say Earth could be entering another prolonged period of cooler temperatures.

Businesses, workers and families face unemployment, injustice, bankruptcy and worse at the hands of their government, if this regulatory power grab continues.

The Congressional Research Service says average US households will pay almost $1,000 this winter just for heat. That's average: Alaska to Florida, Hawaii to New York. Northern states residents will pay double or triple that. Businesses, schools and hospitals will also be hammered.

In Cobb County, Georgia, hundreds shivered outside to apply for heating assistance from a welfare agency that may not have enough money for every family that needs help. Along the Canadian border, in St. Lawrence County, New York, over 8,000 households were approved for heating aid by cash-strapped local, county and state governments that wonder where the money will come from—while Albany has blocked drilling for shale gas that could fuel homes and power plants, and generate billions in revenue.

All this is before the Feds actually implement more of the job-killing, family-freezing CO2 limits and other plans they are contemplating. To see what's in store for millions of American businesses and families, one need only look at the planet's sole country that still obstinately clings to its draconian climate change and renewable energy goals, regardless of the costs.

Across Great Britain, household energy bills could double by 2020, to $3,900 (£2,500) a year, market expert Mark Todd of EnergyHelpLine.com has warned. Gasoline prices are likewise climbing to unaffordable levels, and the majority of United Kingdom companies will see their natural gas and electricity prices skyrocket by 100% between 2012 and 2016—on top of a carbon tax bill of "at least" $65,660 (£42,000) annually—according to the analytical firm Carbon Masters.

Moreover, most of Britain's older coal-fired and nuclear power plants are scheduled to be shut down, with almost nothing to replace them, even as electricity demand rises. That could bring widespread blackouts, said the Daily Mail, and cause hundreds of thousands of UK jobs to be outsourced to countries where energy costs are much lower, and air pollution and carbon dioxide emission standards far less stringent. That will hardly improve England's economy or global environmental quality.

Far worse, more than 5.5 million households will be plunged into "fuel poverty" by early 2011—forced to spend more than 10% of their family incomes on energy—National Energy Action and other charities said. That's over one-fifth of all UK households and a major increase from 4.5 million families in 2008. Most in these households are over age 60, but working families are also struggling to keep the heat on, as prices soar.

Nearly 28,000 people died in Britain last winter, most of them pensioners who could not afford adequate heat. Charities say this is the highest winter death rate in northern Europe, worse even than much colder nations like Finland and Sweden. And this winter has already seen the coldest December night for Wales in 169 years of record keeping. Britain is on track to having its coldest December in a century.

To stay warm, thousands of elderly are using travel passes to ride buses all day, while others seek refuge in libraries and shopping centers, the Sunday Express noted. Others are "putting their health at risk, in an attempt to keep costs down," by bundling up and turning the heat down or off entirely, said Age UK Charity Director Michelle Mitchell.

Now, amid the Christmas and New Year holiday, two million homes, schools and hospitals face fuel rationing. Some families could wait weeks before they can get their fuel oil tanks refilled, as more snow falls across Great Britain.

Meanwhile, the British government has cut funding for its Warm Front heating assistance program from $470 million this year to $172 million in 2011, Consumer Focus campaigner Jonathan Stearn angrily noted. And because the winds barely blow during the coldest weather, Britain's "shiny new green" turbines were able to supply only "one-500th of the exceptionally large demand" for electricity during the frigid weather of early December, Sunday Times columnist Dominic Lawson ruefully observed.

That's a tiny fraction of the wind turbines' "rated capacity." But it is a situation commonly faced with turbines on freezing Minnesota winter nights and sweltering Texas summer afternoons, when they average a measly 10% of the electricity output their subsidy-hungry backers say they are capable of.

Is this what Lisa Jackson would call "environmental justice"? How do her actions, perverse notions of "justice," and government-driven energy price spikes square with a 2009 poll by Wilson Research Strategies? It found that 56% of blacks think politicians and bureaucrats setting climate change policy in Washington fail to consider economic and quality of life concerns in the black community. Fully 76% are unwilling to pay more than $50 a year more for electricity, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Northern US winters are far worse than even record-setters in Britain. Why would anyone want to impose costly and nightmarish energy and environmental policies on American families, rich or poor?

The outgoing Congress nearly enacted a bill that would have provided much needed congressional checks on EPA actions. The Murkowski bill fell just short in a Senate dominated by partisan Democrats. The incoming Senate should be far more supportive of such legislation, especially in the face of EPA and other attempts to override the will of Congress and the American people.

The Affordable Power Alliance will urge the new Congress to honor its constitutional duties, and prevent the Obama administration from imposing excessive regulations inspired by extreme ideologies. Congress, including Democrats up for reelection in 2012, needs to heed the overwhelming public demand that America's economy no longer be held hostage by an elitist environmental network—even if that network includes the President of the United States.


Niger Innis is national spokesman for the Congress of Racial Equality, a 68-year-old human rights organization; Rev. Samuel Rodriguez is president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, America's largest Hispanic Christian organization, with 25,434 member churches; Amy Frederick is president of 60 Plus, a senior citizens advocacy organization representing over 500,000 seniors nationwide. The three are co-chairs of the Affordable Power Alliance, a humanitarian coalition of civil rights, minority, small business, senior citizen and faith-based organizations that champion access to affordable energy.


My comment: This is just one more tragic example of how the Green movement has become little more than an elitist fantasy played out on the backs of the poor and the third world, propped up by never-ending subsidies. Your tax dollars at work, folks. Talk about a "brood of vipers..."