Category Archives: junk science

The Briggs & Stratton Symphony

The following is the letter to the editor I submitted yesterday to the Burlington Free Press here in northern Vermont.

Having moved to the Burlington area a year ago – from a very busy and thus noisy neighborhood in northeastern Pennsylvania, I knew it would only be a matter of time and season before the noise pollution followed me north. And, after quite a few fits and starts, it did. The time of day was 0730 (the 24-hour military version of time, or TOD). The day was mid-week of June’s last seven-day stretch. And the noisemaker of choice (loads of decibels) was a chainsaw.

Actually, there were two chainsaws and the men operating them were across the street from my abode. And neither appeared to have ear protectors on (something an Air Force doctor warned me to always wear while mowing a lawn).

Having just turned 60, I dutifully traveled the three-or-so miles over to the Vermont Air National Guard base yesterday to get my new retiree identification card. That mission was completed by 1000. And while over there, I got to see some F-16s sitting on the tarmac. The Fighting Falcon was, and still is, the aircraft of the 8th Fighter Wing at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea. I know the 8th, nicknamed the Wolf Pack, very well. I was its public affairs officer from June 1985 to June 1986.

Yes, a taking-off F-16 can and does have a noise envelope. In my 26 year Air Force career I never met an aircraft that didn’t – jet or propeller-driven.

Yes, Burlington-area Vermonters have a right to be concerned about a future aircraft’s noise. But, we all ought to be just as concerned, if not more, about the noise pollution we put up with all the time, regardless of what the Air Guard fighter wing may be up to flying wise. Those chainsaws whose noise pollution wiped out the morning bird song are a sterling example of what’s out there. And this noise pollution is so constant thatmany of us simply take it for granted. Wrong choice.

Another bug for Keystone pipeline plans

This is a fairly typical article, pitting an insect against “progress” and “growth.” It plays into the tired arguments of conservatives bent on railing against government regs and the Endangered Species Act. Can’t we move beyond this specious argument? Geez

Are we running out of oil?

From oil, of course, comes gasoline, which nearly all Americans continue to take for granted. So, are we running out? Duh. Peak oil for the U.S. actually came in 1974. Here’s a good video about Peak Oil.

Questions about congressman’s environmental record

This editorial from the Pottstown, Pa., paper takes some well-deserved jabs at U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach, but much of Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation is also deserving of criticism for putting polluters ahead of the public.

Five years after passage, Healthy Forests Restoration Act falls short of goals, critics say

This is hardly surprising, either. The outgoing president (only a week left now!) has never been friendly toward Wild America.

Why does the NRA support anti-conservationists?

Go here to get the answer. Be smart and think for yourself. Just say “no thanks” when the NRA calls

Don Young says he won’t give up on developing ‘natural resources’

The anti-conservationist (but champ to property-rights zealots and other radical right-wingers) Don Young says he won’t stop his campaign to develop his own state’s natural resources, or those of any other state for that matter.

Even though he’ll now only be the ranking “minority” member on the soon-to-be renamed House “Natural” Resources Committee. The man has never met a wetland he wouldn’t seek to fill or a forest he wouldn’t seek to flatten, and all for some greasy dollar bills.

Prairie dogs, politics and politicians

PEER (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility) issued this news release today. Note the name of Julie MacDonald. She’s a civil engineer with no expertise in the biological sciences. And she’s a Bush appointee. And like many Bush appointees in our natural resource agencies, MacDonald’s a political hack who will do anything, say anything to undercut scientific findings, especially those issued by career biologists in the Fish and Wildlife Service, which she just happens to oversee as deputy assistant Interior secretary.

Read it carefully for here we have yet another tale of fraud, incompetence and downright deceit. And an endangered species has been denied federal protection because of the deputy assistant Interior secretary’s actions.

Ms. MacDonald, you will note, reversed a scientific finding declaring that, yes, the Gunnison’s prairie dog qualifies for Endangered Species Act protections.

From PEER’s news release:

“The Gunnison’s prairie dog is clearly in decline across its range, and is in real trouble. On top of threats from plague, extermination efforts, and habitat destruction, this prairie dog now faces danger from new sources: junk science and political interference,” stated Bob Luce, a retired Arizona Game and Fish official who served as Interstate Prairie Dog Team Coordinator for four years.

All five species of prairie dogs, all native to North America, have been listed or petitioned for listing. All are imperiled. All deserve protection.

Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., the incoming chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, promises to hold hearings into this and other Bush administration decisions relative to fish and wildlife protections. Ms. MacDonald and her office are clearly deserving of full attention from the committee.