Fire Drill Friday | Jane Fonda Keeps Us Focused On #1 Priority

Washington (GGM) Analysis | November 15, 2019
NoreenByLine-a by Noreen Wise

It was an emotional day on Capitol Hill with defamed ex-Ambassador for Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, testifying in the second impeachment hearing for Donald J. Trump. The details outlined by Ms. Yovanovitch were critical and seem to have sealed Trump’s fate. I speculate he’ll be impeached by New Years Eve 2019.

ST-SAGA-CovFrnt-72-300Meanwhile, a few hundred yards away, in the warming sunlight, Jane Fonda rallied Americans with her sixth Friday Fire Drill. Her mission is to draw awareness to the Green New Deal and the important role fossil fuels have played on our climate’s demise.

Fonda was not arrested today, but she prides herself on the positive impact her protesting and subsequent arrests have had on the climate emergency cause. Today’s climate focus was on our oceans and rising sea levels as well as the urgent need to break free from plastic.

Although Fonda wasn’t arrested, two of her tag-along friends were: Marg Helgenberger and Robert Kennedy Jr. It seems these wonderful climate activists consider their arrests their red badge of courage.

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The holiday shopping season has arrived. It’s imperative that we keep our resolve to act now on lowering atmospheric carbon levels by the choices we make during the holiday season. Every tiny decision will save a life. For example, it’s advised that no red meat for any festivities. Avoid plastic packaging. Buy grocery products in glass bottles. Let’s promise to keep our eyes wide open as we claw through the packed aisles, and make the right selections when we reach toward a store shelf.

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Another positive choice is to buy local. It’s mind boggling how dramatic this simple decision can make. Again, it’s all about being aware, and making a commitment in advance to save our oceans and brighten our children’s futures. We can do this!

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Weather Bombs & the Superfund Sites

Washington (GGM) Analysis | November 18, 2019
NoreenByLine-a by Noreen Wise

There’s no better example of climate injustice in the Unites States than those Americans living near Superfund sites. Superfund sites came to be in 1980, and are ST-SAGA-CovFrnt-72-300labeled with this classification based on hazardous waste contamination.

  • The United States currently has 1,344 Superfund sites on the National Priorities list
  • An additional 48 sites are in the process of being added
  • There are 2 million Americans who live near Superfund sites
  • A large number of the sites are near populated coastal communities  — Portsmouth, NH, Boston, New York City as well as both coasts in Florida.
  • Hurricane Harvey flooded over a dozen Superfund Sites in the Houston area

Following World War II, it was common practice for corporations to dump their waste into the ground. No one thought much of it at the time. But eventually, medical conditions began to spike, and we grew to learn that toxins cause major health risks and in many cases lead to cancer, heart problems and birth defects. So the EPA was tasked to clean up these life-threatening toxic locations.

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And then along came climate change extremes. Weather bombs are fierce deluges over a relatively short period of time that result in major flooding. Flooding near a Superfund site results in water spreading the toxins far and wide, endangering the well-being of millions more people. The toxins are usually invisible. So, once spread, it’s nearly impossible to retrieve, and families are left unaware that they’ve now been impacted.

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There now needs to be a major push in congress to address this calamity immediately. The health consequences of not moving quickly, are extreme and incalculable.

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Ketchup & Climate Action

Washington (GGM) Analysis | November 17, 2019
NoreenByLine-a by Noreen Wise

I was really proud of myself this weekend when I was grocery shopping. I promised myself on the way to the store that I would follow through with my commitment to cut plastic from my grocery list, and would no longer buy my beloved ketchup in a plastic container. I was even willing to pay more for the glass.

ST-SAGA-CovFrnt-72-300But when I arrived in front of the condiment section, wasn’t I shocked to discover that there wasn’t a single brand of ketchup in bottles. This was mind boggling, especially after making my way up and down the various aisles, and seeing so many products packaged in glass: BBQ sauces, pickles, jams and jellies, mustards, vinegar, salad dressing. I was cheering the success of the world’s sustained call to action to rid the planet of plastic. But, arriving at ketchup took the wind out of my sails.

In fact, I was in disbelief that ketchup leader Heinz had not responded to consumer demand and felt extremely frustrated. I’d even called Heinz a few weeks ago, and then tweeted about it. So this did not sit will with me. I had to make a change. There was no way I’d be able to drive home feeling ashamed that I wasn’t strong enough to follow through with my promise. I simply had to find an alternative. But, how is it possible to replace ketchup with something similar? What were my choices, salad dressing? BBQ sauce?

HillReport11-17-19aI backed up a few feet to reassess the BBQ sauce possibilities. Surely there was a flavor that would do the trick. I quickly scanned one row, then the next… then onto the third. Voila! Pioneer Woman BBQ Sauce – Apple Brown Sugar. Not only did this flavor look divine, but the shape of the bottle meant I’d be able to use a spoon. (Do you remember the Heniz commercials with Carol King’s Anticipation?) Twenty-four hours later, I can assure you this BBQ sauce is amazing. I’m so grateful to have discovered it. And now I feel wonderful knowing that by stepping out of my comfort zone in the grocery store aisle, I’ve had the pleasure of falling in love with a new product that I never would have ever had the good pleasure of being introduced to. But the ultimate satisfaction was realizing that this type of little everyday change can save someone’s life. It’s the easiest feel good ever.

I mentioned my exciting BBQ sauce find to a friend, and she surprised me by letting me know I could buy glass bottled Heinz ketchup on Amazon. Whoa, awesome! Yet, this new BBQ sauce is so tasty, I think I’ll do both.

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Cards Are Stacked Against Trump | Impeachment Exit Begins

Washington (GGM) Analysis | November 13, 2019
NoreenByLine-a by Noreen Wise

After today’s opening public hearing, it’s mind boggling that Trump hasn’t resigned already. He now has everything stacked against him. And all of the typical lifeboats he’s used in the past to save himself from drowning — Russian Mob money, Deutsche Bank, criminal enterprise thuggery — have been cut off. So what exit strategy is trump concocting as the noose tightens?

ST-SAGA-CovFrnt-72-300The answer to this question that immediately pops into my mind is almost too scary to think about. Do Trump and his loyalists have something sinister planned? I personally fear that they do, but hopefully Department of Homeland Security is way out in front on this.

Being inside the hearing room today, and watching everything first hand, made it seem much more personal. I became acutely aware of the sacrifices William Taylor and George Kent were making for their country and the American people. This resonated in a profound way. An inspirational way that made me realize we’re all called on to do the same. Stand up, do what’s right, no matter what the cost may be.

There are endless news casts that are recounting the blow by blow play of the first two witnesses —Ambassador William Taylor, and Ukraine expert Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Eastern Europe and the Caucuses George Kent. These valuable pieces include weighty new evidence, as well as an extensive history that provides the public with the appropriate context in which Trump & company executed Trump’s shakedown strategy.

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But by the time I left the hearing room at 1:30 PM on this first day, the impeachment evidence against Donald J Trump was already rock solid and crystal clear. Trump is guilty. In fact, it’s so self-evident that the House will have no choice but to impeach the 45th President of the United States of America.

The key takeaways for me though, are less about the facts (that thankfully I don’t have to memorize, but rather can easily refer to) and more about the quality of the content :

  • Chairman Adam Schiff’s opening statement was exceptional. He clearly outlined the lens he was using to oversee the hearing. The Constitution and the Rule of Law. Period. It’s that simple. Cut and dry.
  • The two witnesses are like no others that I’ve ever seen or heard before. They’re incredibly skilled at tough discussions. This seems to be a big part of their professional life, tough negotiations with foreign leaders, many of whom are not necessarily allies. They’re also highly intelligent and were able to pick up on the fact that Nunes and Jordan were trying to undermine their testimony. They maneuvered perfectly, and phrased their replies expertly. It was impressive.

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  • What became obvious during these antagonistic interactions though, is that this must have been very similar to what was going on behind the scenes during Trump’s shakedown timeline. Trump and Giuliani were trying to snake their way around rock solid diplomats who were ten times smarter than both of them. Diplomats who know how to maneuver and to block…. which is why we’re in the midst of impeachment hearings. Thus, not only do they know how to maneuver and block, they know how to win. They make me proud to be American again. They are exhibiting the very traits that resulted in the United States of America becoming the most powerful nation in the world. Their testimony is a testament to who they are, and what the State Department is all about. I can now see why America has been the bright light shining on the hill for other countries in the world to aspire to be like.
  • If all of the witnesses we’ll be hearing from work for the State Department, they likely will all have this same adeptness. So, a list of witnesses of this caliber, becomes a solid concrete wall that seems impossible to knock down, leap over, or tunnel under.

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  • And then there’s Majority Counsel Daniel Goldman. I’ve never seen anyone like him before. I must have missed the article about the Majority and Minority counsel who were added to make everything smoother. He’s an expert, straight out of Central Casting. His tone is neutral and diplomatic. An excellent public speaker. All who hear him, trust him. He sets the bar, and in so doing, the Minority Counsel immediately falls below it. When I left the hearing, I was shaking my head wondering how the Minority Counsel Steve Castor could have been selected for his position. But then I worried that my low opinion of Steve Castor was formed in comparison to Mr. Goldman. The difference between the two is extensive. Trump must be panicked.

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  • So, Adam Schiff has created a fierce, solid wall using the Constitution and the Rule of Law, and he too is straight out of Central Casting. The witnesses are a second wall. Mr. Goldman a third. So now, Trump is completely surrounded by unmovable walls, while he’s treading water in the deep blue sea without a lifeboat or lifejacket, sharks at every turn, in the middle of a hurricane.

Is this checkmate?

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A REAL Solution – Urban Tree Canopy | Act Now

Washington (GGM) Analysis | November 9, 2019
NoreenByLine-a by Noreen Wise

The emerging concept of “green intelligence” is bringing much needed analytical assessments to the attention of mayors across the country.  We understand the ST-SAGA-CovFrnt-72-300importance of planting thousands of trees in our local communities. But apparently, where we plant trees really makes a difference.

How do we determine the best locations for each household to plant ten trees? Thankfully, the USDA’s Forest Service Northern Research Station has just released a valuable analysis termed UTC, Urban Tree Canopy. The UTC Assessment is made up of geospatial data that can be used to strategically outline where exactly new trees should be planted in a town or city, and approximately how many will net the maximum benefit. It can be used as a guide in every city in America to identify which areas in each city need more tree work and tree TLC. New York City’s Hudson Yards’ revitalization is an excellent example.

By the way, Urban Tree Canopy is the complete tree mass — made up of branches, leaves and stems — that covers the ground when looking down from above the treeline.

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Here are the facts:

  • Trees make a vital, positive impact on all communities, particularly cities where there’s a dense population
  • Trees improve storm water run-off by capturing rain water in their canopy and discharging it into the atmosphere.
  • The EPA asserts that, “Tree roots and leaf litter create soil conditions that promote the infiltration of rainwater into the soil.”
  • So with more trees, there should be less street flooding.

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  • Trees provide shelter from the heat, and lower urban temperatures.
  • Trees reduce air pollution by absorbing toxins into the roots, bark and leaves. Trees also absorb a significant amount of CO2, as well us provide us with the oxygen we need to live.
  • Once trees have been planted, wildlife habitat will soon follow. This rich habitat includes wonderful insects, birds, bats, butterflies and small mammals.

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  • Trees beautify our communities which increases property values and improves our mental health.
  • In fact, Thomas Jefferson, and our founding fathers for that matter, strongly believed that trees and gardens were so critical  in ensuring our emotional strength and stability, that they insisted trees be planted across Capitol Hill and that a Botanic Garden be established at its base.
  • Trees improve the economic viability of a city or town.
  • Trees nurture the community spirit and strengthen community ties. In this day and age with the opioid crisis still haunting our communities, it’s nice to know that we can grab onto something positive, inspirational and healthy that will improve our quality of life and draw us all together.

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The facts are clear. Numerous life saving benefits, and a plan that the whole community can participate in. Team work. It’s time to attend town hall meetings to discuss our local community’s Urban Tree Canopy assessment. Did our mayors and town counsel members even read the UTC released by the USDA’s Forest Service? Let’s find out.

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ExxonMobile | The Long Term Consequences of Short Term Greed

Washington (GGM) Analysis | October 30, 2019
NoreenByLine-a by Noreen Wise

The New York state fraud trial against ExxonMobile of Irving, TX,
kicked off on October 22, 2019 and a week later is still underway. The issues are now so heated, they’ve become as toxic as Exxon itself.

Texas is responsible for 12.7% of US carbon emissions, yet is 1 of 50 states. This ST-SAGA-CovFrnt-72-300staggering percent alone indicates the significant increase in US and world carbon emission levels that oil production generates. It’s unimaginable that such a massive and profitable public company like ExxonMobile, can receive all the benefits and yet not be required to bare the burden of the negatives, meanwhile millions of innocent victims can lose their homes, all their personal possessions as well as their livelihoods, and potentially their lives, without any redress… until now.

Texas’ per capita carbon emissions is 24 metric tons, while California is only 9 metric tons, and NY of all states has the lowest per capita carbon emissions reading of a mere 8 metric tons, one third that of Texas. The District of Columbia is the lowest overall at 4 metric tons, but is not considered one of the 50 states. Coal state West Virginia, with the highest per capita carbon emissions of states whose population is more than one million, has a per capita carbon emissions reading of mind-numbing 52 metric tons.

  • TX – 28 million people, 12.7% of US carbon emissions
  • CA – 39 million, 7% US carbon emissions
  • FL – 21 million, 4.5% US carbon emissions
  • PA – 13 million, 4.2% US carbon emissions
  • NY – 20 million, 3.2% US carbon emissions

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Louisiana is another huge oil producing state, and is on the heels of West Virginia’s per capita carbon emissions, with a per capita reading of 45. There are two interesting outliers that haven’t been factored in, North Dakota and Wyoming, with 2019 populations so tiny —  757,952 and 585,501 — that their per capita carbon emissions appears criminal: North Dakota at 72 metric tons and Wyoming at 104. These two states seem to emphasize the significant impact cattle production has on global warming. For example, the state of North Dakota has 1.8 million cattle for it’s population of 585,501.

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If these state carbon emission readings are readily available through wikipedia, and the ability to draw connections between oil production, carbon emission levels, and global warming is so blatant and clear, how is it possible for the corporate executives to turn a blind eye to the global impact? Do the majority of us do that in our own lives and/or professions? It doesn’t appear that we do. Take parenting toddlers for example.

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Parents baby proof homes to keep their children safe. Gates go up. Special locks are attached to doors and drawers. Children are strapped into every kind of seat imaginable. Warnings are placed on every product catering to children. All of these precautions are soon ingrained in us. We’re able to assess our homes, connect dots, and buy products that meet the needs of ensuring safety. With this standard in mind, it thus makes Exxon’s willful disregard for doing the same type of assessment, and creating an action plan to address the dangers, that much more maddening.

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According to Courthouse News Service, in Manhattan court today, Rex Tillerson testified that he “lobbied the previous administration for a carbon tax and pushed for the landmark Paris Climate Accords.” The fact that his lobbying efforts didn’t work, or that Trump pulled the US out of the Paris Agreement, appears to make Tillerson believe that he therefore did everything he could and isn’t responsible for any damage that Texas’ 12.7% carbon emission reading has on the world.

Interestingly, there are 22 states that chose to stay in the Paris Agreement, despite Trump pulling the US out. Texas wasn’t one of them. But 22 is nearly half the US states, three of which are red states. So it’s unclear why Tillerson would try and use Trump’s leaving the Paris Agreement as an excuse for doing nothing, when so many others in the same situation, rallied to protect their states and citizens and moved forward with creating and executing climate action agendas to meet the target goals outlined in the Paris Agreement, regardless of whether the US was in or not.

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Not only is Tillerson’s Paris Agreement excuse a non-starter, which serves to further validate the NY Attorney General’s claim of investor fraud, and underscore the willful disconnect between Exxon’s CEO and the reality of climate change, but when the extra level of sociopathic behavior of “lobbying for a carbon tax” is added in, which was followed by doing nothing when the carbon tax didn’t pass in Congress, the excuse becomes so lame it seems fraudulent for Tillerson to even mention it during his testimony today.

If a CEO truly does passionately believe in a carbon tax — because he understands that global warming and destructive climate events harm millions and millions, possibly billions of innocent victims — wouldn’t he have nobly used this would be carbon tax money to assist victims of traumatic climate events?

Exxon gave $500,000 during the 2017 Hurricane Harvey aftermath in Houston, and according to Google, nothing since to any other climate victims following catastrophic weather events. The microscopic Harvey amount is unfathomably pathetic when a company earned $19.7 billion that same year, compared to $7.8 billion the preceding year. The stunning increase in Exxon’s 2017 earnings during Tillerson’s first year as Secretary of State (should that be investigated?), with only a few tiny pennies to help with Harvey destruction? No, sorry, Mr. Tillerson. Your testimony today underscores your apathy and indifference to the global community that you’ve shattered.

The facts are plain as day. True leaders with a conscience know how to proceed and navigate a responsible path forward to protect the innocent in this type of quagmire (a quagmire that Exxon seemed to intentionally create so it wouldn’t be forced to act), but you, Sir, took advantage of the foggy conditions, and used it as an opportunity to maximize your profits and net worth. May justice be served. Hundreds of thousands have already died, millions of lives have been ruined. Short term greed has resulted in long term catastrophic global ruin. There’s hell to pay.

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What is a Circular Economy? | Reversing Climate Change

Washington (GGM) Analysis | October 21, 2019
NoreenByLine-a by Noreen Wise

LIGHTBULB! The solution to the climate crisis is for the global economy to shift from a linear economy to a circular. For the past 250 years — ever since the Industrial ST-SAGA-CovFrnt-72-300Revolution began in 1760the world has been operating under a linear economy of take-make-waste. Under this paradigm, we take natural resources, make a lot of products and then dispose of the waste. Typically, disposing of the waste nets a negative impact on the environment as well as our health.

The linear cycle is often very inefficient, destroying far more natural resources than necessary, and leaving behind dangerous toxins everywhere. Corporations often build inefficiency into their business plan intentionally in order to increase revenue. For example, if a company manufactures a cheap product (let’s say a refrigerator) and it breaks easily, the consumer will have to buy a new one faster. Corporations are incentivized to produce a flimsy refrigerator. They make more money being inefficient. However, there are  negative consequences for the global community with this business plan: increased carbon emissions, poisoning of the environment and the fueling of climate change.

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The circular economy model is built on the concept of reduce-reuse-recycle . In a circular  economy the manufacturer will produce a very high quality refrigerator that will last a very long time. They’ll make money servicing the hardy refrigerator for the consumer. In creating a higher quality product, the company reduces the number of refrigerators it manufactures which results in a whole series of advantages from natural resources, to the environment, and to the public.

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The circular model builds economic, natural, and social capital.” Again, these are all positives. Breaking down every piece of the economic puzzle so that we can move toward a circular economy to save our civilization, is quite tedious, but must be done. There are layers of issues that need to be analyzed. The product itself, and all its parts, as well as the packaging. The reuse and recycle aspects of the product, the parts and the packaging have variations depending on purity, and other fine details. Take for example glass.

Glass packaging is truly amazing. It can be recycled forever. It will never lose its purity on its own, only when accidentally mixed with cardboard or paper, etc. To keep glass from becoming impure, the new philosophy is to create large community recycle bins where townspeople can drop their glass off for recycling once a week. Northern Virginia is piloting this test program. Curbside pickup of glass has been cancelled in Norther Virginia. Large collection bins have been delivered in key locations around town. We’ll now wait and see the benefits of this minor change in the way glass is recycled, so it can then be rolled out in every community in the United States.

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There will be business winners and losers, of course. Fossil fuels and plastics will each be phased out. These industries have benefitted from the linear model for many decades, but will eventually be eliminated by the circular. There’s already pushback, but the transition from linear to circular is inevitable. It’s the only way our civilization can survive.

Plastic packaging MUST be replaced with glass and aluminum, as well as other easy to recycle natural alternatives, or reused as the material to create new products. In nations with large leaves on most trees, the leaves have been harvested for packaging. Recycled paper is also being converted for packaging. There will be many innovations on this front in the upcoming months and years. Keep your eyes wide open as new solutions debut one after the other. For example, straw make-overs have been so much fun to watch. Aluminum straws, paper, and just this week there was a fabulous article about pasta straws being a fab sensation.

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You know that any article dealing with the economy is only scratching the surface. Economics is not only a college course, but a college major. The subject is massive, especially when you factor in the global layers. So, one step at a time. In the transition from linear to circular, the EU is leading the way in the West. It’s been transitioning for over seven years now. China is aggressively converting as well. China is the world leader in nailing “reduction” through manufacturing the most long-lasting building materials: aluminum, steel, and cement.

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America hasn’t yet begun to rush. Only 16% of US companies are currently using circular principles, however a total of 62% responded positively to a February 2019 survey stating they plan to transition. Investment Funds have begun moving the needle by rewarding corporations that are a match for the circular economy goals and creating a special fund, “BGF Circular Economy” Fund.

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We citizens can do our part by recycling religiously, composting daily, purchasing products packaged in glass, eliminating plastic, planting trees and gardens, the list is endless. Begin today, and again proceed one step at a time. We can save our children’s future, and alleviate their daily stress. LET’S GO!

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