Chronicling the follies of religion and superstition, the virtues of skepticism, and the wonders of the real (natural) universe as revealed by science. Plus other interesting and educational stuff.

"Tell people there’s an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure."

-George Carlin

“If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed”.

-Albert Einstein

“Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense.”

-Carl Sagan

The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species. It may be a long farewell, but it has begun and, like all farewells, should not be protracted.

-Christopher Hitchens

 

Kansas's Self-Destruct Button: A Bill to Outlaw Sustainability

abaldwin360:

It sounds like a headline from The Onion, but it’s not.

The reasoning for this bill makes it sound even more like something that is parody - it’s an anti-agenda 21 bill, the right seems to think agenda 21 is a conspiracy to undermine property rights and american sovereignty.

Never mind the fact that implementation of agenda 21 is completely voluntary and non-binding …

Bill No. 2366 would ban all state and municipal funds for anything related to “sustainable development,” which it defines as: “development in which resource use aims to meet human needs while preserving the environment so that these needs can be met not only in the present, but also for generations to come.”

The Russian oil industry spills more than 30 million barrels on land each year — seven times the amount that escaped during the Deepwater Horizon disaster — often under a veil of secrecy and corruption. And every 18 months, more than four million barrels spews into the Arctic Ocean, where it becomes everyone’s problem.

So, I came across an article this morning about an odd oil-rig protest as part of my morning read. A handful of activists are protesting the first ever oil rig in the Arctic sea. They’ve literally tied themselves to the side of big tanker ship in the Arctic.

Yeah, bizarre but it’s true. Greenpeace is live blogging it now. The Russian Coast Guard has been called in and the protesters will be in big trouble, I’m sure of it.

The oil rig is run by the largest natural gas company in the world, called Gazprom. It’s also Russia’s largest company. They’re also one of the most pollutive, hazardous companies on planet Earth. I didn’t know any of this until this morning. What do you think can be done?

(via climateadaptation)

idrownideas:

The best campaign counter-attack video I HAVE EVER SEEN. Obama 2012 

”So we’re going to call their BS when we see it and we need your help to call them on it too and set the record straight. So share this, tweet it, facebook it, I keep hearing about tumblr and whatever that is…please use that too. Thank you.”

-Stephanie Cutter / Deputy Campaign Manager at Obama for America. 

peterfeld:

Two years after the April 20, 2010 BP oil spill, the Gulf is filled with deformed fish that the state of Louisiana says are perfectly safe to eat. Al Jazeera reports:

“At the height of the last white shrimp season, in September, one of our friends caught 400 pounds of these,” Kuhns told Al Jazeera while showing a sample of the eyeless shrimp.
According to Kuhns, at least 50 per cent of the shrimp caught in that period in Barataria Bay, a popular shrimping area that was heavily impacted by BP’s oil and dispersants, were eyeless. Kuhns added: “Disturbingly, not only do the shrimp lack eyes, they even lack eye sockets.”
“Some shrimpers are catching these out in the open Gulf [of Mexico],” she added, “They are also catching them in Alabama and Mississippi. We are also finding eyeless crabs, crabs with their shells soft instead of hard, full grown crabs that are one-fifth their normal size, clawless crabs, and crabs with shells that don’t have their usual spikes … they look like they’ve been burned off by chemicals.”

peterfeld:

Two years after the April 20, 2010 BP oil spill, the Gulf is filled with deformed fish that the state of Louisiana says are perfectly safe to eat. Al Jazeera reports:

“At the height of the last white shrimp season, in September, one of our friends caught 400 pounds of these,” Kuhns told Al Jazeera while showing a sample of the eyeless shrimp.

According to Kuhns, at least 50 per cent of the shrimp caught in that period in Barataria Bay, a popular shrimping area that was heavily impacted by BP’s oil and dispersants, were eyeless. Kuhns added: “Disturbingly, not only do the shrimp lack eyes, they even lack eye sockets.”

“Some shrimpers are catching these out in the open Gulf [of Mexico],” she added, “They are also catching them in Alabama and Mississippi. We are also finding eyeless crabs, crabs with their shells soft instead of hard, full grown crabs that are one-fifth their normal size, clawless crabs, and crabs with shells that don’t have their usual spikes … they look like they’ve been burned off by chemicals.”

The Representation of Oil

theamericanbear:

From Tom Engelhardt:

Just in case you’re running for national office, here are a few basic stats to orient you when you hit Washington (thanks to the invaluable Open Secrets website of the Center for Responsive Politics).  In 2011, the oil and gas industries ponied up more than $148 million to lobby Congress and federal agencies of various sorts.  The top four lobbying firms in the business were ConocoPhillips ($20.5 million), Royal Dutch Shell ($14.7 million), Exxon Mobil ($12.7 million), and Chevron ($9.5 million).

And note that those figures don’t include campaign contributions, although I can’t imagine why corporate money flowing to candidates or their PACs isn’t considered “lobbying.”  When it comes to such donations, the industry has given a total of $238.7 million to candidates and parties since 1990, 75% of it to Republicans.  In 2011-2012, Exxon ($992,573) and — I’m sure this won’t shock you — Koch Industries ($872,912) led the oil and gas list.

Or think of this another way: the Senate recently voted down a bill sponsored by New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez to end congressional subsidies for the top oil companies.  The senators who nixed the measure, led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY, $264,700),received approximately $1.48 million in oil and gas campaign contributions in 2011-2012; those who voted for it, a mere $400,000.  Not surprisingly, this fits a longer-term congressional voting pattern in which money talks. In fact, it shouts.

Senators Who Voted To Protect Oil Tax Breaks Received $23,582,500 From Big Oil

stfuconservatives:

via Think Progress:

In a 51-47 vote, 43 Senate Republicans and four Democrats filibustered to protect $24 billion in tax breaks for Big Oil. Although a majority voted for Sen. Robert Menendez’s (D-NJ) bill, it fell short of the 60 needed. The only two Republicans to break rank were Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and retiring Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME).

A Think Progress Green analysis shows how oil and gas companies have funneled cash to the same senators who protected its handouts:

– The 47 senators voting against the bill have received $23,582,500 in career contributions from oil and gas. The 51 senators voting to repeal oil tax breaks have received $5,873,600.

– The senators who voted for Big Oil’s handouts received on average over four times as much career oil cash as those who voted to end them.

– Overall, Senate Republicans have taken $23.2 million in oil and gas contributions. Democrats received $6.66 million.

– Since 2011, Senate Republicans have voted seven times for pro-Big Oil interests and against clean energy three times.

(Source: stfuconservatives)

Lakotas arrested halting Keystone XL pipeline trucks

Lakotas on Pine Ridge Indian land in South Dakota are being arrested as they halt trucks of the Keystone XL pipeline from entering their territory.

Lakota human rights activists Alex White Plume, Debra White Plume, Andrew Ironshell and others were reported arrested late Monday. They were taken to the jail in Kyle, S.D.

An action alert was sent out shortly before the arrests: “Calling all Lakota men on the Pine Ridge Reservation to come to Wanblee, South Dakota. XL Pipeline trucks are being held there at the border by our Lakota Oyate, Oglala Sioux Tribal Police and State Troopers in an effort to keep them from entering our territory. Even the state troopers told the trucks they have to turn around and cannot bring their pipeline or other materials on to our reservation. The XL Pipeline trucks are refusing to turn around claiming they have corporate rights that supersede any other law.”

I guess we’ll see how effective it is to try to build and operate a pipleine through communities that don’t consent to it. I hope to hear many more stories of resistance.

(Source: sarahlee310)

At the same time that the price of gasoline is rising, the US oil industry is increasing its exports of gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Compared to a year ago, exports of gasoline have tripled – at a time when the price of gasoline is 42 cents a gallon more expensive at the pump. On Thursday, for example, the price of crude oil remained elevated at $107 a barrel because of fears over the Iranian nuclear situation, and the price of gasoline rose 3 cents a gallon compared to Wednesday, according to AAA.

The oil industry maintains the exports are necessary because domestic demand is weak.

Christian Science Monitor

And another one! Yeah, we’re exporting record amounts of American-made gasoline to other countries instead of lowering prices here. Obama’s fault… how exactly?

-Jess

(via stfuconservatives)

How exactly does weak demand translate to higher prices? And, when demand rises again with economic recovery, they will have been exporting so much supply that they’ll say “supply is low” and raise prices again.

(Source: stfuconservatives)

TransCanada to Build Texas Segment of Keystone XL Pipeline

imall4frogs:

TransCanada Corp. will proceed with building a $2.3 billion segment of its Keystone XL oil pipeline from Oklahoma to the Texas coast so that it isn’t delayed by U.S. approval for the rest of the line.

The company, based in Calgary, expects the segment to begin carrying crude from the Cushing, Oklahoma, storage hub to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast as soon as mid-year 2013, according to a statement today. TransCanada is separating the Cushing line from its application to President Barack Obama for approval of a Keystone expansion that will bring crude into the U.S. from Canada’s oil sands.

“We remain committed to building this overall project in a timely and efficient manner and to meet demand of shippers,” said TransCanada Chief Executive Officer Russ Girling in an interview today. Shippers are making multi billion dollar commitments spanning decades and “they haven’t wavered from Keystone,” he said.

Texas Landowner Group Forms To Fight Keystone Pipeline

“President Obama’s decision to halt construction of the Keystone tar sands pipeline has not stopped plans for segment passing through East Texas. And KERA’s Shelley Kofler reports a group of landowners has organized to fight back.”

Texas landowners thwarted the ambitious Trans-Texas Corridor, and Texas landowners just might be able to stop the construction of the last leg of the Keystone XL Pipeline project. […]

So, the oil industry plans on laying its pipe, with or without our consent. TransCanada: “They say no, but I know they mean yes.”

(Source: kileyrae)