Sunday, June 28, 2020

Facts Vs. Fearmongering

Swedish supermarket chain Coop has announced it will be creating new “sustainability” labels for all of its food products, including their climate impact.

The Swedish company announced the new labels, which will be accessed on electronic devices by scanning a bar code. Coop compared the sustainability labels to ingredients labels, a practice the company began as early as 1946.

“Many of our members and customers today are looking for guidance on how to make sustainable choices in stores, which is why we will begin to show how each individual has affected the earth’s resources, climate, and society,” Coop CEO Magnus Johansson said in a press release.

“We want to change the food industry so that we become even more sustainable and we hope, of course, that the entire industry will follow us in this initiative,” Johansson added.
The company said the sustainability score will be determined by ten different ratings, including whether products are locally sourced and their claimed impact on climate change.

“A commodity may have a small climate imprint, but at the same time, a major negative impact on the local population’s life and work environment in production. For us at Coop, it is important to show several aspects of a product’s impact,” Charlotta Szczepanowski, Coop’s Head of Sustainability and Quality, said.

Coop’s proposal has been supported by major American politicians in the past including Democratic Senator Kamala Harris, who said last year that she backed climate impact labels on food.

“I’ve always believed that we should, you know, expand what’s on those cans of those things you buy in the grocery store,” Harris said. She added: “We should expand the list. And included in that should be a measure of the impact on the environment.”

Others, such as those involved with the European Commission’s Farm to Fork (F2F) Strategy, have stated that the public should not only consider eating a more vegetable-based diet but also consider alternative forms of protein such as insects.
Swedish academic and behavioral scientist Magnus Söderlund shocked many last year when he floated the idea of cannibalism as a climate-saving idea.


28 June, 2020 

Extinction Rebellion activists launch new political party - by SHOP-LIFTING trolleys of food from a London Sainsbury's 'because poverty sucks'

A group of Extinction Rebellion activists launched their new political party in London today by shoplifting from a supermarket 'because poverty sucks'.

Five members of the new Beyond Politics party walked out of a Sainsbury's store in Camden with trolleys laden with food.

They claimed it was an attempt to highlight the instability of food distribution and supplies globally.

The group were not stopped by staff, though two activists did clash with security guards.

They had earlier used a loudspeaker to proclaim that they were giving away free food.

The activists also put stickers on food items that read: 'New lower price: free. Because poverty sucks'.

The 'supermarket sweep' is the first in a series of stunts that will end with an event in central London on July 25.

Beyond Politics has chosen shocking pink as their launch colour.   

Discussing the stunt, party member Benedict McGorty said: 'I'm not stealing food, I'm 'gift-aiding' it. We are changing the rules because the rules are plain wrong. This is not against Sainsbury's but the profiteering of a basic human need.' 

The group believe that the climate emergency and political failures have led to dwindling global food supplies. 

A spokesperson for the new party said: 'While the government gives billions to its corporate buddies, millions of families don't have enough money just to feed their kids.

'We want to establish a participatory democracy. We want to engage everyone and for people to be able to have their say. The current political system is incapable of making the structural changes necessary. We need a complete transformation of politics.'

Beyond Politics' founders say that the current political system is corrupt and failing.

They want to hand power to ordinary people through citizens' assemblies, and plan to field candidates across the country for future local, regional and national election.

To start with, north London activist Valerie Brown will stand for mayor of London at next year's election.

Extinction Rebellion's co-founder Roger Hallam is a driving force behind the party. He told the Guardian: 'We are seeing complete incompetence of the governing class. There have been 20,000 unnecessary deaths from Covid. The crowning glory is the inability of the political class to respond to the extinction of the human race.' 

Hallam says he is assisting with design and organisational work for the new political party and insists that it is separate from the Extinction Rebellion movement.


Green Thumbs Down

FreedomWorks Foundation's Regulatory Action Center (RAC) has published an issue brief on the environmental regulations the Trump administration has rolled back. You can read the paper excerpted below or in its entirety in the attachment at the bottom of this post or HERE.

One of the main features of the Obama administration was its ruthlessly efficient use of the regulatory state. President Obama famously said that if Congress refused to act, he would employ “his pen and his phone” to get the job done. There was perhaps no area of public policy that embodied this approach more than the environment.

The Obama-era Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was busy during their eight years. In terms of cumulative cost, they surpassed every other agency. After the administration rolled out of town, the Obama EPA had accounted for 187 finalized regulations, totaling just over $344 billion in regulatory costs, and almost 33 million paperwork hours to do so. The administration certainly earned its “regulation nation” moniker.

This regulation nation spanned all aspects of the environment, from what gets emitted to the air, to what can be done on certain lands, and even as minute as what is considered a “navigable water.” The wide-reaching and ever-expanding nature of EPA’s authority impacted families and businesses across the United States, causing unnecessary burdens.

These burdens naturally led to resentment and anger towards unelected bureaucrats thinking they knew best and could tell Americans of all stripes how to live. After Donald Trump was elected on a platform running against the Obama environmental agenda, his administration came in poised to deliver the promised change of the campaign trail.

The administration promised to repeal at least two regulations for every new one implemented. President Trump appointed reform-minded Administrator Scott Pruitt to head the EPA and other cabinet officials dedicated to this promise. In almost three and a half years, the administration has not disappointed.

As we come to the end of the first Trump administration, this piece explores the history behind some of the most destructive regulations addressed by the administration. It also analyzes the impact of scaling them back and why it was so important to do so. Just as the Obama administration left no corner of the earth untouched by regulation, the pendulum eventually swung back. The air, sea, and land are all more free today because of it.


EPA biofuel mandates don’t make sense

Did you know that adding corn into oil based gasoline actually increases the cost of that gas over non-blended gasoline?

How about the fact that the Environmental Protection Agency’s own data shows that refiners had to rely on 481 million gallons of foreign fuel to meet the EPA’s Renewable Fuel Standard mandate in the United States in 2019?  America achieves energy independence, yet is still compelled by outdated federal rules to buy foreign fuel to meet an arbitrary mandate.

And just one more, did you know that the National Wildlife Federation wrote a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency supporting reducing ethanol blending requirements due to the findings in an EPA produced, “comprehensive report to Congress in 2018 that outlined the negative environmental impacts of biofuel production.”

And yet in spite of the environmental harm, increased cost (estimated at $1.80 more per gallon for bio-diesel), and the reliance on foreign producers of biofuels, the EPA persists in a misguided effort to push ethanol production standards which exceed what is known as the “blendwall” or the amount of ethanol that can currently be blended into the domestic gasoline supply.

These overly aggressive mandates force our nation’s oil refiners to purchase compliant fuel from foreign companies to achieve Renewable Fuel Standard compliance increasing our national trade deficit.

To put this in even simpler terms, the EPA is forcing U.S. companies to buy foreign produced bio-mass fuels in order to meet an artificial government created quota, and ethanol isn’t even good for the environment.

President Trump has been at the forefront of cutting absurd and harmful regulations and has doubled down on this effort as our nation enters into an economic recovery phase after the devastating job losses due to the shutdowns caused by the reaction to the Chinese-originated virus.

In a May 19, 2020 Cabinet meeting the President said, “With millions of Americans forced out of work by the virus, it’s more important than ever to remove burdens that destroy American jobs.”

He continued by instructing his Cabinet officials to use emergency authority to speed up regulation cuts or move forward with “new rules that will create jobs and prosperity and get rid of unnecessary rules and regulations.”

These are pretty clear instructions directly from the President to his Cabinet Secretaries, including EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.

Right now, due to the COVID-19 economic downturn, many U.S. oil producers have turned off the spigot for the foreseeable future due to oil price instability, yet, domestic oil refiners are having to not only cut the amount of oil-based fuel used in gasoline to meet RFS rules but pay foreign refiners to import more fuel partially made from food.

What’s more, the virus crisis has caused the United Nations to estimate that 42 million to 66 million more children worldwide could fall into extreme poverty, noting that in 2019 some 386 million children were already in extreme poverty.  And yet, somehow the regulators at the EPA continue to insist that America’s cars burn food rather than fuel, ensuring that acres upon acres of corn and soybeans which could have been exported to feed those who through no fault of their own find themselves in danger of starvation.

Only in Washington, D.C. could people charged with protecting the environment think that it is a good idea to mandate a product that hurts the environment, costs more money, and has to be imported, while shifting food production away from feeding starving people. It is enough to make you cry.


Australia's Drought-Ending Rains Restore Critically Endangered Woodlands

Panic about their survival neglected their long history of bouncing back.  They are fire-adapted

In box gum grassy woodlands, widely spaced eucalypts tower over carpets of wildflowers, lush native grasses and groves of flowering wattles. It's no wonder some early landscape paintings depicting Australian farm life are inspired by this ecosystem.

But box gum grassy woodlands are critically endangered. These woodlands grow on highly productive agricultural country, from southern Queensland, along inland slopes and tablelands, into Victoria.

Many are degraded or cleared for farming. As a result, less than 5% of the woodlands remain in good condition. What remains often grows on private land such as farms, and public lands such as cemeteries or traveling stock routes.

Very little is protected in public conservation reserves. And the recent drought and record breaking heat caused these woodlands to stop growing and flowering.

But after Queensland's recent drought-breaking rain earlier this year, we surveyed private farmland and found many dried-out woodlands in the northernmost areas transformed into flower-filled, park-like landscapes.

And landholders even came across rarely seen marsupials, such as the southern spotted-tail quoll.

These surveys were part of the Australian government's Environmental Stewardship Program, a long-term cooperative conservation model with private landholders. It started in 2007 and will run for 19 years.

We found huge increases in previously declining native wildflowers and grasses on the private farmland. Many trees assumed to be dying began resprouting, such as McKie's stringybark (Eucalyptus mckieana), which is listed as a vulnerable species.

This newfound plant diversity is the result of seeds and tubers (underground storage organs providing energy and nutrients for regrowth) lying dormant in the soil after wildflowers bloomed in earlier seasons. The dormant seeds and tubers were ready to spring into life with the right seasonal conditions.

For example, Queensland Herbarium surveys early last year, during the drought, looked at a 20 meter (65 feet) by 20 meter plot and found only six native grass and wildflower species on one property. After this year's rain, we found 59 species in the same plot, including many species of perennial grass (three species jumped to 20 species post rain), native bluebells and many species of native daisies.

On another property with only 11 recorded species, more than 60 species sprouted after the extensive rains.

In areas where grazing and farming continued as normal (the paired "control" sites), the plots had only around half the number of plant species as areas managed for conservation.

Spotting Rare Marsupials

Landowners also reported several unusual sightings of animals on their farms after the rains. Stewardship program surveyors later identified them as two species of rare and endangered native carnivorous marsupials: the southern spotted-tailed quoll (mainland Australia's largest carnivorous marsupial) and the brush-tailed phascogale.

The population status of both these species in southern Queensland is unknown. The brush-tailed phascogale is elusive and rarely detected, while the southern spotted-tailed quolls are listed as endangered under federal legislation.

Until those sightings, there were no recent records of southern spotted-tailed quolls in the local area.

These unusual wildlife sightings are valuable for monitoring and evaluation. They tell us what's thriving, declining or surviving, compared to the first surveys for the stewardship program ten years ago.

Sightings are also a promising signal for the improving condition of the property and its surrounding landscape.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


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