Thursday, December 18, 2014

When it comes to torture, consider the source

by Mark Shields,
December 2014
On election night in 1986, when John McCain won the U.S. Senate seat in Arizona long held by Republican incumbent and 1964 GOP presidential nominee Barry Goldwater, who had served as McCain's campaign chairman, the two men had a private chat. Goldwater, McCain recalled, got "a little nostalgic" and said: "You know, John, if I had beaten Lyndon Johnson in 1964 and been elected president, you would not have spent all those years in that North Vietnamese prison camp." McCain, mindful of Goldwater's hawkish positions, answered: "You're right, Barry. If you had been elected president in 1964, I wouldn't have spent all those years in a prison camp in Hanoi. I would have spent them in a prison camp in China."

It was in the 2000 New Hampshire presidential primary when McCain's campaign taught this occasionally cynical observer what an American political campaign at its best might be. Vastly outspent by the money machine of the prohibitive Republican favorite, Texas Gov. George W. Bush, underdog McCain responded by holding 114 town hall meetings in the Granite State, in which he would stand alone and answer, with rare candor and humor, voters' questions. For example, asked when the Senate might pass a so-called "patient's bill of rights" bill, McCain bluntly explained: "We won't. Not as long as the insurance companies control my party and the trial lawyers control the Democratic Party. Next question." It worked. While advocating campaign finance reform, McCain, in a major upset, defeated Bush in New Hampshire by 18 percent.

But what impressed me most about that New Hampshire campaign was the willingness of the men who, as prisoners of war, had for years endured with McCain unspeakable brutality at the hands of their North Vietnamese captors to work in his behalf.

McCain's Hanoi cellmate — when the Arizonan wasn't in solitary — Medal of Honor recipient and Air Force pilot Bud Day, Marine aviator Orson Swindle, who was held prisoner for six years, and Navy aviator Everett Alvarez, the longest-held U.S. prisoner of the Vietnam War, were willing to come to New Hampshire, knock on doors and testify to voters about the courage and character of their comrade John McCain.

At the same time U.S. Navy pilot McCain was being abused in Hanoi, back in Wyoming young Dick Cheney was petitioning for another of his five deferments to avoid the draft call to serve, which the law then required all able-bodied men to do, in the U.S. military and, possibly, to face combat. Thirty years later, Cheney would publicly explain his conduct: "I had other priorities in the '60s than military service." It's probably a good bet McCain in that same decade had "other priorities" than being starved, being beaten, having his teeth and bones broken, and being offered food contaminated with human feces.
Cheney, who went on to become one of the nation's toughest-talking draft-evading armchair warriors, has called the Senate Intelligence Committee's report of the CIA's disregard of the rule of law and its endorsement of torture as a legitimate policy option "full of crap."

The United States of America John McCain knows, loves and has served so generously does not chain half-naked prisoners to the floor and then let them freeze to death. To rationalize or excuse the torture documented in the report is, McCain rightly charges, "an insult to the many intelligence officers who have acquired good intelligence without hurting or degrading prisoners." The ex-POW and American hero provides true moral clarity: "This question isn't about our enemies. It's about us. It's about who we were, who we are and who we aspire to be."

Cheney or McCain? Consider the source. I'll take the fellow who holds us to a higher standard, thank you.

Friday, December 12, 2014

New Exceptions Proposed for Washington's Background Check Law (I-594)

I have followed with interest the expressions of angst, confusion, frustration, and yes, even rage, from gun enthusiasts over the background check legislation (I-594) passed by an overwhelming percentage of Washington voters during the 2014 midterm elections. In the hopes of preventing someone from getting shot over the contentious debate, I am offering a proposed rewrite of the section of the law addressing exceptions, to wit:

(A) This measure extends criminal and public safety background checks to all gun sales or transfers except [add the following exceptions to the 20 or more exceptions already covered by I-594]:
  1. If a gun owner has a gun in his glove compartment and his passenger takes the gun out just to look at it and returns the gun to the glove compartment at some point. Ditto for guns kept in the trunk of the car.
  2. If a bunch a guys want to go out and shoot up the desert and only one of them has a gun and the gun owner loans it to each of his buddies in turn, then they don’t need background checks, because that’s a lot of background checks and anyway, they’re his buddies.
  3. If a woman loans her gun to her boyfriend so he can get used to handling it in case he needs to protect her (as long as he promises not to shoot her).
  4. If a gun owner leaves their loaded gun on the kitchen counter and a juvenile takes it and accidentally shoots another juvenile with it, the first juvenile does not require a background check. The second juvenile requires emergency surgery, and the original gun owner requires a good talking to.
  5. A gun owner with multiple guns doesn't own a gun safe so he asks his good buddy to store them in his safe, while the gun owner goes on vacation. The good buddy doesn't require a background check unless he goes on a ‘shooting vacation’ with the guns, and then he needs an ex post facto background check.
  6. A police officer wants a cooler sidearm than what his department issues so he buys a personal sidearm as a backup. He doesn't require a background check because after all, he's a cop and the new sidearm is really cool.
  7. If a gun owner has already acquired a ton of guns without undergoing a background check; why should he have to do so just to buy a few more?
  8. If a gun collector has a wide variety of guns that may or may not be antiques, then he shouldn’t have to undergo a background check just in case.
  9. If a gun seller and buyer have to take a ferry to get to a licensed dealer, then they can forego the background check, because hey, that’s a lot of trouble.
    Cliven Bundy with a copy of the U.S. Constitution in his shirt pocket

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Charitable Giving: Tis the Season to be Generous & Wise

From Charity Navigator

Top 10 Best Practices of Savvy Donors

  1. Be Proactive In Your Giving
    Smart givers generally don't give reactively in a knee-jerk fashion. They don't respond to the first organization that appeals for help. They take the time to identify which causes are most important to their families and they are specific about the change they want to affect. For example, they don't just support generic cancer charities, but instead have targeted goals for their giving, such as providing mammograms to at-risk women in their community.
  2. Hang Up The Phone / Eliminate The Middleman
    Informed donors recognize that for-profit fundraisers, those often used in charitable telemarketing campaigns, keep a large portion (in some cases all) of each dollar they collect (read our report about  telemarketing for more specifics on the costs affiliated with this form of fundraising). Wise donors never give out their personal information – like credit card accounts, social security numbers – over the phone. If they like what they hear in the pitch, they'll hang up, investigate the charity on-line and send their contribution directly to the charity, thereby cutting out the middleman and ensuring 100% of their donation reaches the charity. Taking it a step further, donors may want to reconsider supporting a charity that uses an inefficient telemarketing approach and instead identify a charity that does not use telemarketing to raise funds.
  3. Be Careful Of Sound-Alike Names
    Uninformed donors are easily confused by charities that have strikingly similar names to others. How many of us could tell the difference between an appeal from the Children's Charity Fund and the Children's Defense Fund? Their names sound the same, but their performances are vastly different. Would you be surprised to learn that the Children's Charity Fund is a 0-star charity while the Children's Defense Fund is a 3-star charity? Informed donors take the time to uncover the difference.
  4. Confirm 501(c) (3) Status
    Wise donors don't drop money into canisters at the checkout counter or hand over cash to solicitors outside the supermarket. Situations like these are irresistible to scam artists who wish to take advantage of your goodwill. Smart givers only support groups granted tax-exempt status under section 501(c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code. All of the charities evaluated by Charity Navigator meet this basic requirement.
  5. Check The Charity's Commitment To Accountability & Transparency
    In 2011, Charity Navigator added an Accountability & Transparency dimension to its rating system. It tracks metrics such as whether the charity used an objective process to determine their CEO’s salary, whether it has an effective governance structure, and whether it has a whistleblower policy. This data is critical because charities that follow good governance and transparency practices are less likely to engage in unethical or irresponsible activities. So, the risk that such charities would misuse donations is lower than for charities that don't adopt such practices.
  6. Obtain Copies Of Its Financial Records
    Savvy donors know that the financial health of a charity is a strong indicator of the charity's programmatic performance. They know that in most cause areas, the most efficient charities spend 75% or more of their budget on their programs and services and less than 25% on fundraising and administrative fees. However, they also understand that mid-to-large sized charities do require a strong infrastructure therefore a claim of zero fundraising and/or administrative fees is unlikely at best. They understand that a charity's ability to sustain its programs over time is just as important as its short-term day-to-day spending practices. Therefore, savvy donors also seek out charities that are able to grow their revenue at least at the rate of inflation, that continue to invest in their programs and that have some money saved for a rainy day. All of this analysis is provided on Charity Navigator's website for free, but when considering groups not found here, savvy donors ask the charity for copies of its three most recent Forms 990. Not only can the donor examine the charity's finances, but the charity's willingness to send the documents is a good way to assess its commitment to transparency.
  7. Review Executive Compensation
    Sophisticated donors realize that charities need to pay their top leaders a competitive salary in order to attract and retain the kind of talent needed to run a multi-million dollar organization and produce results. But they also don't just take the CEO's compensation at face value; they benchmark it against similar-sized organizations engaged in similar work and located in the same region of the country. To help you make your own decision, Charity Navigator's analysis reveals that the average CEO's compensation of the charities we evaluate is almost $150,000. In general, salaries tend to be higher in the northeast and at arts and education charities. Sophisticated donors also put the CEO's salary into context by examining the overall performance of the organization. They know it is better to contribute to a charity with a well-paid CEO that is meeting its goals than to support a charity with an underpaid CEO that fails to deliver on its promises. (Check out our CEO Compensation Study for more benchmarking data.)
  8. Start A Dialogue To Investigate Its Programmatic Results
    Although it takes some effort on their part to assess a charity's programmatic impact, donors who are committed to advancing real change believe that it is worth their time. Before they make a contribution, they talk with the charity to learn about its accomplishments, goals and challenges. These donors are prepared to walk away from any charity that is unable or unwilling to participate in this type of conversation.
  9. Concentrate Your Giving
    When it comes to financial investments, diversification is the key to reducing risk. The opposite is true for philanthropic investments. If you've really taken the time to identify a well-run charity that is engaged in a cause that you are passionate about, you should then feel confident in giving it a donation. Spreading your money among multiple organizations not only results in your mail box filling up with more appeals, it also diminishes the possibility of any of those groups bringing about substantive change as each charity is wasting part of your gift on processing expenses for that gift.
  10. Share Your Intentions And Make A Long-Term Commitment
    Smart donors support their favorite charities for the long haul. They see themselves as a partner in the charity's efforts to bring about change. They know that only with long-term, committed supporters can a charity be successful. And they don't hesitate to tell the charity of their giving plans so that the organization knows it can rely on the donor and the charity doesn't have to waste resources and harass the donor by sending numerous solicitations.

Friday, December 5, 2014

I'm not a scientist

Climate scientists are certainly seen by most laypeople as boring, and sometimes even irrelevant, when they describe increasing concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide, and other “greenhouse gases,” the decreasing pH of oceans, Milankovitch cycles, climate forcings, positive and negative feedbacks, etc., without saying why we should care.
 But when these same scientists put their findings in context relative to current and projected consequences of global warming, e.g.: melting ice sheets and rising sea levels, the bleaching of coral reefs and die off of the aquatic life they support, extended droughts, dwindling ice pack, water shortages, increased prevalence and extent of wildfires, extreme weather events, and the attendant human and economic impact of anthropogenic global warming, they are labeled, "alarmists."
If climate scientists venture to suggest government action to address climate change, politicians (primarily but not exclusively on the right) tell them to stick to the science and leave policy to the "experts," that is, politicians. These same politicians when pressed on why they refuse to address global warming invariably begin their reply, "I'm not a scientist..." My response to that sort of dissembling is, "Then shut the fuck up and listen to the scientists."

Monday, December 1, 2014

Patient "Heal Thyself" -- Using Your Own Blood

Autologous blood injection (ABI) or Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) injection is generally done for the treatment of tendinitis (e.g., "tennis or golfer's elbow"), though other applications also include injecting ligaments, muscles and joints. Any tendon in the body may be injected with a patient’s blood products, with the most frequent clinical uses of ABI or PRP injections used for the plantar fascia (heel), Achilles (ankle), patellar (knee), gluteal (hip), hamstring (buttock), common extensor origin, and common flexor origin. Reportedly, approximately 80% of patients obtain complete or significant pain relief following this procedure. A clinical trail comparing ABI and PRP treatments showed pain relief from both, but longer-term benefits from PRP.

PRP therapy has also recently found use in treating osteoarthritis. By injecting PRP into joints, it is felt that the healing factors may stimulate cartilage and surrounding soft tissue regeneration, as well as dampen the main symptoms associated with arthritis, that being pain and stiffness

Under appropriate circumstances, ABI and PRP treatment may be a better alternative than the injection of corticosteroids.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Pssst. Might I have a word with you, Sen. Inhofe...?

by Meteor Blades for Daily Kos
Sun Nov 23, 2014 at 12:00 PM PST

Sorry I'm a few days late giving a nod to you on your 80th birthday, Sen. Inhofe. I suspect you had an extra-special celebration this year since you'll soon be getting back to the chairmanship of the Environment and Public Works Committee after eight years putting up with its Democratic leadership. Not to mention the eye-rolling directed your way every time global warming made it onto the agenda. I'll bet you're all fired up to be in charge again.

Congratulations. You got the power.

Now, how about showing the nation you got a brain?

Look, I know it's a great, long-running gig you've got going. Being on the spigot end of the fossil fuel money pipeline certainly makes it easier to pay the freight for getting re-elected. And all you had to do to keep it flowing was reject the deeply considered conclusions of just about every scientist in the world whose skills matter a damn when it comes to understanding the behavior of the planet's climate.

I'm not saying you didn't once believe the shillery you are engaging in. After all, when you first came to the Senate two decades ago, scientists had only been saying much to the general public about global warming for five years. The loudest voices on the subject were, then as now, those lovingly funded by the coal, oil and gas corporadoes and tended by PR image shapers and meme inventors. You know these guys, the ones who make money fabricating unforgettable and politically damaging catch-phrases like "war on coal."

You got bamboozled. Just like a whole bunch of other Americans got bamboozled. Buried in an avalanche of propaganda that made it conventional wisdom to believe the bamboozlers were telling the truth when they said Arctic ice wasn't melting faster or atmospheric greenhouse gases weren't soaring out of the range of anything since several hundred millennia before the first Homo sapiens took a step on the savanna.

The bamboozlers used sophisticated techniques and primitive ones. All united around raising doubt to generate opposition to any kind of climate-related policy choices that might affect the bottom line of the bamboozler funders. The money poured out the door into campaign funds and the wallets of credentialed prevaricators and scientific outliers. The media cooperated by giving this cabal equal time with the people who actually knew what they were talking about. Their scheme worked.

Just look around you. You're surrounded by colleagues—more of whom will show up in six weeks—who say human-caused global warming ain't happening. Senators determined to stand in the path of any attempt to curtail greenhouse gas emissions. True believers and opportunists alike.

None of them, of course, has gone so far as you. I mean, wow! An entire book that from the title onward claims a huge conspiracy invented global warming. That it is all a giant hoax. Not the first time you've made that claim, of course. You even went Godwin in an interview eight years ago during an Oklahoma heat wave when you said of scientists speaking out on global warming:
It kind of reminds ... I could use the Third Reich, the big lie. You say something over and over and over and over again, and people will believe it, and that's their strategy.
Do you know what projection is, Senator? But I digress.
 You probably believed what you were told in 1994 when you were first elected. A youthful misjudgment back when you were a mere 60. And you maybe even believed it in 2004 when you chaired the committee previously. But in 2014?

Sorry, I don't believe you still believe it. If you ever truly did. Because you've had plenty of time to read and interview and follow the ever-grimmer assessments of the International Panel on Climate Change. You know what's really going on. You know this is no put-up job. Oh sure, I realize your The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future was only just published in 2012.

I know how eager you must be to get back to leading hearings to trash greenhouse gas emissions regulations by the EPA, the agency you once compared to the Gestapo.

I'm sure you enjoy rubbing elbows and comparing stock tips with your pals in the oil biz.
And you probably get a kick out of the adoring letters you receive from people who gobble up every bit of baloney you offer them about climate change.

But—gimme a wink here, Senator—you know that human-caused global warming is for real. You know its consequences are going to be devastating and  that that word won't half describe the ongoing results unless a broad range of actions are taken and quickly. You know this because if you didn't know it after all your experience, you'd have to be stupid. And we all know that you can't be stupid and get to be a United States senator. Right?

So, do us a favor, okay? All of us. Your wife and 20 kids and grandkids. Your fellow Oklahomans. The nation. The whole planet. Come January, when you gavel that first EPW committee into session, 'fess up. Come clean. Tell everyone you had a revelation. Say that you did some reading and thinking over the holidays—and some praying—and that, consequently, you now accept the scientific consensus on global warming. Tell the nation you plan to use your whole remaining time in the Senate advocating ambitious programs to limit greenhouse gas emissions and build green infrastructure.

And then do it.

I know that you don't believe in bipartisanship except as a means to prank Democrats who keep letting themselves get played on that hoax. I realize you're eager to continue doing what Rush Limbaugh urged you and the rest of the GOP to do in January 2009: Block everything the Obama administration tries to do to make it fail. I get it. But you need to bite the bullet now and tell everyone you're going to make an exception for global warming. After all your previous obstructionism, you should now epitomize cooperation and far-sightedness. Maybe show up to applaud your committee colleagues Barbara Boxer and Sheldon Whitehouse when they deliver their frequent climate change speeches on the floor of the Senate.

Perhaps you can even get a piece of legislation with your name on it to spur rooftop solar, electrify a portion of the nation's rail lines or ban coal exports.

This change of direction certainly will shock most of your constituents and campaign contributors. But don't worry. If you decide to run again when you're 85, you will find plenty of financial support that isn't dependent on the fossil fools. Let the Koch Bros. bring it on! A match made in heaven. Your legacy will be heroic. Generations of your offspring will praise your name.

Before you say "no way, I have a reputation to keep up," please recognize that taking this step doesn't mean you have to give up the nuttiness comprising the rest of your politics. Not at all. I'm not suggesting a personality transplant. But come January, please, just sit down, lean into the microphone and tell everyone you've seen the light. Play it right and your epiphany will get more attention than Jesus' did.

You're 80 now, Senator. How about demonstrating some of the wisdom that is supposed to come with all those years?

"Ignorant, out of touch, or crazy"

In the case of Sen Jim Inhofe, these characteristics that Sen. Whitehouse names are not mutually exclusive.

Tennis [elbow] Anyone?

My left elbow hurts like hell! It's not tennis elbow. I don't play tennis. It's not golf elbow. I haven't played golf for almost 2 years. I think it must be iPad elbow.

When I'd see kids playing games on their hand-held devices, thumbs flying across the tiny keyboards, I'd tell anyone who'd listen -- and that was usually no one -- that some time in the not-too-distant future, children would be born with over-sized thumbs and skinny little vestigial fingers. Sort of like the foreclaws on a Tyrannosaurus Rex.
The advent of the cell phone, or 'mobile' and the felt need of the modern homo sapien to inform as many people as possible about what one is doing, thinking of doing, or watching someone do, in less than or equal to 40 characters, as further exacerbated the use of hands and thumbs, and the prevalence of bad posture, to say nothing of inattention to one's on-going actions and surroundings in real space and time. This has lead not only to accidents, but, according to ergonomics specialists and orthopedics surgeons, aliments.

The musculoskeletal and other problems our preoccupation with our smart phones, tablets, and laptops, can range from the uncomfortable (like carpal tunnel syndrome, which can make triceps dips and other wrist-bending activities very unpleasant), to the more serious, like weakened vision, or something called De Quervain’s tenosynovitis, which is apparently when your thumb joints become so worn out, it becomes difficult to make a fist or hold things.

If you are experiencing:

  • Pain or tenderness in the outer part of your elbow (lateral epicondyle)
  • Gripping something with your hand causes slight discomfort in your outer elbow
  • You have difficulty keeping your arm straight
  • Your outer elbow muscle twitches when you keep your arm still
  • Weak grip strength
  • Threatening stares and/or gestures from people around you

  • You might do well to give yourself a break from your digital devices and take a long walk in the woods, listen to the bird song, feel the warm breeze on your cheek, and let your mind wander along with your body. After all, you can always go back and tweet about this unusual experience to your 'followers.' They might even retweet or favorite your tweet. Then you can place a bar of frozen peas over your aching hand, and later have them for dinner with mashed potatoes and roast chicken.

    Tuesday, November 18, 2014


    The man in the scrubs looming over me on the examining table had a youngish, open face, framed by a baby blue surgical cap. He told me in a soft, even voice that he was going to numb my chest with a local anesthetic, and promised me it wouldn’t hurt. It didn’t. Then he reached down and came up with what looked almost exactly like the old bit brace manual hand drill my father had hanging over his tool bench back in Huntington Park. My eyes got wide.

    Leaning over me and placing the drill point in the middle of my chest, he told me he was going to extract some bone marrow from my sternum, and leaning hard into my chest, he began turning the drill. I gritted my teeth and tried not to think about the possibility of the drill bit piercing the sternum and plunging into my heart. He finally stopped drilling and changed out the bit brace for some other tool that looked nothing like what my father had at his tool bench. He told me something like “this might hurt a little,” and then pulled a plunger up and sucked bone marrow out of my sternum. It felt like he was pulling major arteries out of my chest. The pain was astounding, but it was over quickly, to be replaced by a dull ache.

    The bone marrow extraction was done fifty years ago as part of the work up that was done to determine the cause of my recurrent pericarditis. There were many, many other tests and procedures done over the course of two years before my military doctors gave up their detective work and simply removed my pericardium. But I’ll always remember vividly the bone marrow extraction. It’s a reference point for me on how to measure pain.

    With rare exceptions, and those involve research rather than practice, pain is measured subjectively by observing and/or interrogating the patient. The most common measurement technique is the use of the ‘faces’ self-rating scale. Donna Wong, a pediatric nurse consultant, and Connie Morain Baker, a child life specialist, developed this scale in 1981. I’d venture to say we’ve all seen it at one time or another. When stuff hurts, we start pointing to the ‘frowny faces.’

    But what we’re conveying is only one pain dimension -- severity, i.e., our subjective judgment of how intense is the pain we're experiencing. However, pain is multidimensional and doctors need additional information in order to better identify the source and cause of the pain. Without such information, treatment progresses by trial and error, at best. One of the tools that's been designed to capture additional dimensions of pain is the McGill Pain Questionnaire, shown below.
    The McGill Pain Questionnaire
    A multidimensional approach to the assessment of pain considers:
    • Chronicity
    • Severity
    • Quality
    • Contributing and/or associated factors
    • Location and distribution or etiology of pain, if identifiable
    • Mechanism of injury, if applicable
    • Barriers to pain assessment
    The McGill Pain Questionnaire (MPC) attempts to get at chronicity, i.e., when the pain occurs and how it changes over time; its severity; the quality of the pain, e.g., sharp, stabbing, burning, aching, etc.; and the location of the pain, including its distribution or how it radiates from its primary source.
    The doctor or pain management specialist will ask the patient to elaborate on his/her MPQ answers, and in addition, will ask about what may have caused the pain. The doctor will also assess the patient's ability to understand the questions and answer appropriately -- an important judgment when patients are impaired mentally due to age or physical/mental condition.

    It is possible to describe different types of pain, or its etiology. The history and physical examination help to identify the etiology, which is critical, because different types of pain tend to respond to different treatments. Pain etiology can be:
    The pain I felt in my chest when my pericardium was inflamed was "referred." The pain I felt recently when I wrenched my back was "radicular," and it was excruciating!

    Radicular pain is a type of pain that radiates into the lower extremity directly along the course of a spinal nerve root.  In my case it was due to the impingement on the sciactic nerve by a lumbar herniated disk. This turns out to be the most common symptom of radicular pain and is usually called "sciatica" or sometimes radiculopathy, which is pain that radiates along the sciatic nerve down the back of the thigh and sometimes into the calf and foot. Radicular pain can sometimes be treated effectively with conservative (non-surgical) means, including physical therapy, medications, and epidural injections.

    The onset of my sciatica or radiculopathy put me in the emergency room at 0200 one cold Friday morning. I was given something to boost my heart rate, which had dropped precipitously, pumped full of pain killers, and sent home with a prescription for hydrocodone, a muscle relaxant, and a referral to a pain management specialist.

    After trying several injections, including nerve blocks and piriformis muscle injections, I was given an epidural. My pain gradually subsided after the epidural, which included a corticosteroid.

    My point in this is to qualify the pain I've experienced in my long and eventful life. The most severe pain was an injection into my heel when I was five years old. It's about the only thing I remember from that period in my life. I even remember the tongue depressor the pediatrician put in my mouth to bite down on before he struck that needle in. That pain lasted a few seconds. The ice cream I got afterwards made it go away.

    I've been knocked unconscious several times in my life and as I remember, the immediate pain wasn't bad -- and then I was unconscious! I don't remember what I felt like when I came to, but presumably I didn't suffer too much. I don't rate being knocked unconscious high on the severity or quality scale.

    I've also had the breath knocked out of my on several occasions. This was a painful and quite distressing experience. Not being able to intake air is an awful feeling. But the severity of the pain upon having my breath knocked out of me was not that high. I rate this painful experience moderate on severity, but somewhat higher on quality.

    The pain I experienced as a result of my chronic pericarditis varied considerably, but because my bouts with the disease lasted for five years, and involved tests like the above described bone marrow extraction, and because the constrictive nature of the disease was life threatening, I rate the experience one of the more painful and distressing of my life ('knock on wood'). That being said, one must rate pericardial pain in association with the onset and progress of a particular episode or attack, not with the overall course of the disease and its ups and downs. At the height of my pericarditis, the pain I felt (a referred pain from the inflamed pericardium rubbing against its inner and outer membranes) was stabbing, burning, aching, crushing, suffocating, and terrifying. And during these attacks, the pain was more or less (depending on how medicated I was) constant. So, this was the worst pain I've experienced.

    But there's nothing like back pain for severity. I've had instances of back pain that are so excruciating that they incapacitate me. I've been collapsed on the floor unable to raise my head to drink the water my wife is offering me to help swallow the pill she is putting in my mouth. The onset of my sciatica was so painful that I became nauseous and faint. My heart rate dropped and I broke out in a cold sweat. The EMTs had a hard time finding a vein to start an IV. And after I was stabilized and released, I had many days of severe, debilitating pain, that required more narcotic pain killers than I care to think about. So on the severity scale, I rate sciatica at the top. We'll see how things develop. I hate to think this painful experience will ultimately take over first place on my PPQ -- personal pain questionnaire.

    Sunday, November 16, 2014

    The Secret History of Lead (Pt-2)

    by Jamie Lincoln Kitman | March 2, 2000
    (This piece appeared originally in The Nation

    Alfred Sloan, ca 1920
    You can choose whether to smoke, but you can't pick the air you breathe, even if it is contaminated by lead particles from automobile exhaust. Seventy-five years ago, well-known industrialists like GM's Alfred Sloan and Charles Kettering (remembered today for having founded the prestigious Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center) and the powerful brothers Pierre and Irénée du Pont added to their substantial fortunes and did the planet very dirty by disregarding the common-sense truth that no good can come from burning a long-known poison in internal-combustion engines.

    The steady emergence of improved methodology and finer, more sensitive measuring equipment has allowed scientists to prove lead's tragic toll with increasing precision. The audacity of today's lead-additive makers' conduct mounts with each new study weighing in against them. Because lead particles in automobile exhaust travel in wind, rain and snow, which know no national boundaries, lead makers and refiners who peddle leaded gasoline knowingly injure not only the local populations using their product but men, mice and fish tens of thousands of miles distant.

    GM and Standard Oil sold their leaded gasoline subsidiary, the Ethyl Gasoline Corporation, to Albemarle Paper in 1962, while Du Pont only cleaned up its act recently, but all hope to leave their leaded gasoline paternity a hushed footnote to their inglorious pasts.

    The principal maker of lead additive today the Associated Octel Company of Ellesmere Port, England) and its foremost salesmen (Octel and the Ethyl corporation of Richmond, Virginia) acknowledge what they see as a political reality: Their product will one day be run out of business. But they plan to keep on selling it in the Third World profitably until they can sell it no longer. They continue to deny lead's dangers while overrating its virtues, reprising the central tenets of the lead mythology chartered by GM, Du Pont and Standard lifetimes ago.

    These mighty corporations should pay Ethyl and Octel for keeping their old lies alive. They'll need them, in their most up-to-the-minute and media-friendly fashion: Because of the harm caused by leaded gasoline they have been joined to a class-action suit brought in a circuit court in Maryland against the makers of that other product of lead's excruciating toxic reign: lead paint. Along with the makers of lead paint and the lead trade organizations with whom they both once worked in close concert, suppliers and champions of lead gasoline additives--Ethyl, Du Pont and PPG--have been named as defendants in the suit.

    Though the number of cases of lead poisoning has been falling nationwide, the lead dust in exhaust spewed by automobiles in the past century will continue to haunt us in this one, coating our roads, buildings and soil, subtly but indefinitely contaminating our homes, belongings and food.

    The problem with lead

     Lead is poison, a potent neurotoxin whose sickening and deadly effects have been known for nearly 3,000 years and written about by historical figures from the Greek poet and physician Nikander and the Roman architect Vitruvius to Benjamin Franklin. Odorless, colorless and tasteless, lead can be detected only through chemical analysis. Unlike such carcinogens and killers as pesticides, most chemicals, waste oils and even radioactive materials, lead does not break down over time. It does not vaporize, and it never disappears.

    For this reason, most of the estimated 7 million tons of lead burned in gasoline in the United States in the twentieth century remains--in the soil, air and water and in the bodies of living organisms. Worldwide, it is estimated that modern man's lead exposure is 300 to 500 times greater than background or natural levels. Indeed, a 1983 report by Britain's Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution concluded that lead was dispersed so widely by man in the twentieth century that "it is doubtful whether any part of the earth's surface or any form of life remains uncontaminated by anthropogenic [man-made] lead."

    While lead from mining, paint, smelting and other sources is still a serious environmental problem, a recent report by the government's Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry estimated that the burning of gasoline has accounted for 90 percent of lead placed in the atmosphere since the 1920s. (The magnitude of this fact is placed in relief when one considers the estimate of the US Public Health Service that the associated health costs from a parallel problem--the remaining lead paint in America's older housing--total in the multibillions.)

    Classical acute lead poisoning occurs at high levels of exposure, and its symptoms--blindness, brain damage, kidney disease, convulsions and cancer--often leading, of course, to death, are not hard to identify. The effects of pervasive exposure to lower levels of lead are more easily miscredited; lead poisoning has been called an "aping disease" because its symptoms are so frequently those of other known ailments.

    Children are the first and worst victims of leaded gas; because of their immaturity, they are most susceptible to systemic and neurological injury, including lowered IQs, reading and learning disabilities, impaired hearing, reduced attention span, hyperactivity, behavioral problems and interference with growth. Because they often go undetected for some time, such maladies are particularly insidious.

    In adults, elevated blood-lead levels are related to hypertension and cardiovascular disease, particularly strokes, heart attacks and premature deaths. Lead exposure before or during pregnancy is especially serious, harming the mother's own body, affecting fetal development and frequently leading to miscarriage. In the eighties the EPA estimated that the health damages from airborne lead cost American society billions each year.

    In Venezuela, where the state oil company sold only leaded gasoline until 1999, a recent report found 63 percent of newborn children with blood-lead levels in excess of the so-called safe levels promulgated by the US government.

    Next, learn how a cheap, easily accessible additive to prevent 'knock' was abandoned by industry in favor of a more profitable, if deadly alternative.

    Tuesday, October 28, 2014

    Clint Didier Panders to the Gun Nuts

    Clint Didier addresses some of the 1,500 gun owners and enthusiasts attending the Guns Across America rally at the Washington State Capitol in Olympia Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013. Didier told the crowd they should bury food, resources, ham radios and everything you will need to survive independently in an uncertain future. “This president is not my president,” he said. The organization held events at capitol buildings in many states to show support for the 2nd Amendment and opposition to new gun control measures. Photo by Daniel Berman/

    Monday, October 20, 2014

    Owed an Apology

    Clint Didier says a lot of buffoonish things. Most can be forgiven as inflated campaign rhetoric or echoes from the Glenn Beck playbook of conspiracy theories. But when Didier insists that global warming and human influence on it is a hoax, he is calling our family, friends, and neighbors frauds and liars. Many of the people contributing to climate science and the overwhelming evidence that human activities are warming the planet are scientists at PNNL, researchers at the University of Washington Climate Impacts Group, and at the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute at Oregon State, as well as many other northwest universities and colleges. These are intelligent, dedicated people to whom we owe a debt of gratitude for enhancing our understanding of global warming and the threat it poses. Mr. Didier owes them an apology.

    Sunday, October 5, 2014

    Communicating Climate Science

    This is an interesting discussion in RealClimate on the Victor & Kennel article in Nature titled "Ditch the 2 °C warming goal."

    Another interesting article is one in the September 20-21 WSJ Review by Steven E. Koonin, former DOE Undersecretary for Science in President Obama's 1st term. His article is headlined, "Climate Science is Not Settled." The crux of the matter for Koonin is not whether the climate is changing, nor whether human activities are influencing that change, but rather how the climate will change over the next century under both natural and human influences.

    In my view, these articles and others I've seen on climate change herald a change in the dialogue from global warming isn't happening; through it's happening but it's not us; to it's happening, it's us, but we're not sure enough about it to make policy. A concomitant of the latter position is that the costs of doing anything about climate change outweigh the benefits.

    This shift demands that those advocating for action on climate change promote a greater engagement of risk analysts and economic analysts in the discussion. The problem is that risk and economic analysts, much like climate scientists, write articles that are only read by their peers. Thus, the community needs people like Neil deGrasse Tyson as spokesmen. But there aren't enough of these people to cover the bases, so the scientists themselves need to become more proficient (and, of course, active) in communicating their research to lay persons. As it happens, there's a workshop on this in San Francisco, 15-19 December 2014. The deadline to apply is the end of this month, October 31, 2014.

    Friday, September 26, 2014

    A "Testy Exchange"

    The Tri-City Herald (9/24/14) used the incident of a man brandishing a gun in a dispute over a parking space to highlight plans for expanded parking at the Kadlec Regional Medical Center. The photo accompanying the article was captioned, “Limited parking near Kadlec leads to testy exchange.”

    “Testy exchange?” Have we become so inured to gun violence in America that brandishing a gun in a dispute over a parking space is labeled “testy?” Have we lost our collective mind? Or have we just lost heart over the seeming inability to do anything about America’s gun violence?

    In the same week we read about the “testy exchange” in a hospital parking lot, we read about a Florida man who shot his daughter and six grandchildren to death, then killed himself. We read about a “weapons enthusiast” in Pennsylvania who shot to death a Pennsylvania police officer and wounded another in an ambush.

    As of the writing of this piece, other “testy exchanges” since January 1, 2014, have resulted in 8,972 gun deaths and 16,293 injuries.

    It’s time we overcame the pernicious influence of the NRA and the gun industry and did something about America’s gun violence, at least here in Washington. Pass I-594.

    Tuesday, September 2, 2014

    I-591 vs I-594

    With no good reason for passing Initiative-591, and defeating Initiative-594, the gun lobby resorts to the well-worn but widely accepted NRA shibboleths; registry and confiscation.

    Let’s get somethings straight. Despite the inflammatory rhetoric incorporated in Philip Watson’s 8/31/14 argument for passing I-591, the much needed Initiative-594 would not create or enable a gun registry, nor enable future confiscation of lawfully owned firearms. Firearms cannot be seized without due process, and I-594 does not change that. Law enforcement is not now permitted to “enter your home and search your bedroom...without a warrant or court order,” nor would they be so authorized under I-594, no matter what the object of the search. There is no sensible reason for not passing I-594, and no good reason to pass I-591, which would prohibit Washingtonians from determining their own future.
    I-594 is straight-forward. “All firearms sales or transfers are subject to background checks unless specifically exempted by federal or state law.” This requirement applies to all sales or transfers in whole or in part in Washington, including sales and transfers at gun shows and online. There are numerous exemptions that serve to protect Second Amendment rights, including the fact that gifts between family members are exempt from the background check.

    I-594 is a step forward in protecting us from gun violence by criminals and the mentally ill. I-591 is a leap backward.

    Vote "YES" on I-594. Vote "No" on I-591.

    Tuesday, August 19, 2014

    Thin Blue Band

     Buena Pond-Pond 6 between Zilla and Union Gap off Hwy I-82 is stocked with catchable size rainbow trout, as well as crappie, and channel catfish. A state record 36.2 lb cat was pulled from Pond 6 in 1999. If you’ve driven to Pond 6 from Richland, you’ve covered the distance our atmosphere stretches from the earth’s surface to the edge of space. According to NASA, our atmosphere, the unique feature of the planet responsible for life as we know it, is a paper-thin 60 miles in depth.

    For the most part, we humans take the planet and its systems and resources for granted. The crux of the problem is that we see ourselves standing apart from our planet’s interacting physical, chemical, and biological systems. That is a natural, but faulty perception of reality. Humans are an integral part of the Earth’s biosphere. As our numbers have grown and our technology progressed, we’ve had an outsized impact on the planet and its climate.

    In pictures taken from space we see the atmosphere as a fragile, thin blue band between the Earth’s surface and the blackness of space. Be warned, that thin, blue band is what keeps us alive.

    Sunday, August 17, 2014

    Will There Be Another Ice Age?

    By Kara Rogers, Science Friday, April 10, 2013
    If Earth's past climates tell us anything, it’s that ice will return. Over the last 2.6 million years, the planet has experienced a series of glacial periods separated by thaws, or interglacials. The next big chill could hit within two millennia—that is, if it weren’t for soaring levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, driven by humans.

    “Climate modelers have been warning for many years now that the net impact of human activities would prolong the current interglacial,” says Chronis Tzedakis, a climate scientist at University College London.

    A medley of forces influences the glacial-interglacial cycle, including the amount of solar radiation reaching the Earth, which is controlled mainly by Earth's orbital shape and axial tilt, the composition of gasses and aerosols and extent of cloud cover in the atmosphere, and the reflectivity of Earth’s surface (for example, the extent of ice and vegetation cover at high latitudes). A reduction in incoming summer solar radiation would be the primary trigger for glaciation, but atmospheric CO2 concentrations—the primary driver of climate change—must be relatively low, too.

    How low is “relatively low”? Tzedakis and colleagues compared ice and marine records from previous interglacials and found that, given the current small decrease in summer solar radiation, CO2 concentrations would have to fall to around 240 ppm for the next glacial period to take place.

    Since the Industrial Revolution, however, atmospheric CO2 levels have been trending higher and higher. They reached an estimated 395.09 ppm globally in January 2013. So, if business proceeds as usual, with carbon release being driven primarily by fossil-fuel burning, we likely have a long thaw ahead of us. Modeling work by geophysical scientist David Archer has shown, for instance, that burning all potential fossil carbon on Earth—5,000 gigatons—would be enough to delay the next glaciation by 500,000 years.

    That kind of hold-up would be a major deviation from the glacial-interglacial cycle that has played out over the last couple million years, in which glacial periods lasted about 80,000–90,000 years and interglacials about 10,000–20,000 years. (The current interglacial began about 11,500 years ago.)

    The real question, then, might have more to do with the next “age,” generally, that we face, rather than the next ice age. Some scientists consider the current era to be defined by human influence, what Dutch chemist Paul J. Crutzen dubbed the Anthropocene Epoch, which has its origins in the Industrial Age.

    Regardless of what comes next, it’s probably safe to say that we can’t expect a resurgence of woolly mammoths any time soon. Unless we clone them.

    Friday, August 15, 2014

    Where is the global warming?

    As climate change has warmed the Earth, oceans have responded more slowly than land environments. But scientific research is finding that marine ecosystems can be far more sensitive to even the most modest temperature change.

    Global warming caused by human activities that emit heat-trapping carbon dioxide has raised the average global temperature by about 1°F (0.6°C) over the past century. In the oceans, this change has only been about 0.18°F (0.1°C). This warming has occurred from the surface to a depth of about 2,300 feet (700 meters), where most marine life thrives.

    Perhaps the ocean organism most vulnerable to temperature change is coral. There is evidence that reefs will bleach (eject their symbiotic algae) at even a slight persistent temperature rise. Bleaching slows coral growth, makes them susceptible to disease, and can lead to large-scale reef die-off.

    Other organisms affected by temperature change include krill, an extremely important link at the base of the food chain. Research has shown that krill reproduce in significantly smaller numbers when ocean temperatures rise. This can have a cascading effect by disrupting the life cycle of krill eaters, such as penguins and seals—which in turn causes food shortages for higher predators.

    Higher Sea Levels

    When water heats up, it expands. Thus, the most readily apparent consequence of higher sea temperatures is a rapid rise in sea level. Sea level rise causes inundation of coastal habitats for humans as well as plants and animals, shoreline erosion, and more powerful storm surges that can devastate low-lying areas.

    Stronger Storms

    Many weather experts say we are already seeing the effects of higher ocean temperatures in the form of stronger and more frequent tropical storms and hurricanes/cyclones. Warmer surface water dissipates more readily into vapor, making it easier for small ocean storms to escalate into larger, more powerful systems.

    These stronger storms can increase damage to human structures when they make landfall. They can also harm marine ecosystems like coral reefs and kelp forests. And an increase in storm frequency means less time for these sensitive habitats to recover.

    Other Consequences

    Warmer sea temperatures are also associated with the spread of invasive species and marine diseases. The evolution of a stable marine habitat is dependent upon myriad factors, including water temperature. If an ecosystem becomes warmer, it can create an opportunity where outside species or bacteria can suddenly thrive where they were once excluded. This can lead to forced migrations and even species extinctions.

    Warmer seas also lead to melting from below of polar ice shelves, compromising their structural integrity and leading to spectacular shelf collapses. Scientists also worry that warmer water could interrupt the so-called ocean conveyor belt, the system of global currents that is largely responsible for regulating Earth's temperature. Its collapse could trigger catastrophically rapid climate changes.

    Will It Continue?

    The only way to reduce ocean temperatures is to dramatically reign in our emission of greenhouse gases. However, even if we immediately dropped carbon dioxide emissions to zero, the gases we've already released would take decades or longer to dissipate.

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

    Paul Polman's Keynote Address at Ascent

    Jumeirah at Etihad Towers

    Abu Dhabi Ascent
    Keynote Address
    Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever & Chairman, World Business Council for Sustainable Development
    4 May 2014

    Secretary General, Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen.
    I’m happy to be here with you at this important meeting.
    Happy that all of us whether from government, business or civil society can come together, not just to talk, but to put together our plans for scaling up action on climate change.
    And while it’s great to be here as a representative of business , it worries me that sometimes you might get the wrong impression about where business is on climate change.
    You see the newspaper headlines on climate denial.
    Worries about the costs of transition, or the impact on jobs.
    Lobbying by vested interests to slow progress of change.
    But it is dangerous to assume that this noise represents the majority view of business.
    In fact, the idea that there is one single voice of business is nonsense. With 75% of the world economy made up of business that would be difficult to do.
    We know there is a loud minority, those with vested interests who know they will lose out in the transition to the low carbon economy of the future.
    The clearer the science and the economics of climate change become, the louder these opposing voices get.
    We should expect that, and indeed we see it already.
    But make no mistake; the undercurrent of business sentiment is overwhelmingly positive.
    When even a major oil companies start to demand a price on carbon, you know the world is shifting in the right direction.
    And when it comes to action on climate, or on sustainable development more broadly, the groundswell of support is overwhelming.
    As a member of the Secretary General’s High Level Panel on the Post 2015 Development Agenda, I had the opportunity to connect with CEOs in every sector and in every region of the world. 
    Thousands of businesses representing over 10% of global GDP.
    They all said the same thing:
    They all want to be a part of the solution.
    None of them can prosper in a world of runaway climate change, inequality and poverty.
    And they all understand the need for political leadership and business action to work together to address system level challenges, like climate change, which are beyond the power of any one actor to fix alone.
    I believe we are at a tipping point.
    Businesses are starting to recognise, for the first time, that the cost of inaction is now greater than the cost of action.
    The evidence is there for those who choose to see.
    In the last decade alone, the world spent $2.7 trillion more on natural disasters than usual.
    KPMG estimates that the total profit of the food industry is at risk by 2030. 
    The OECD predicts that, by 2050, over $45 trillion of assets could be at risk.
    I could go on.
    The good news is that more and more businesses have started working this out.
    Private capital is starting to flow to low carbon.
    Global investment in clean technologies is now up to $300 billion a year. The global low carbon economy is now a $4 trillion reality, growing at nearly 4% .
    And it’s proving to be more resilient growth: low-carbon and environment sectors grew robustly through the financial crisis right across the European Union.
    More and more businesses see this makes sense and want to be a part of it. Just look at what’s happening:
    Over 50 of the top 200 companies have set carbon intensity reduction goals in line with a 6% per year reduction target – necessary to stay within two degrees of warming.5
    Many have integrated an ‘internal’ carbon price into their business strategies, in the expectation that you, the governments, will set an external carbon price in the near future.
    And the Banking Environment Initiative – some of the world’s largest banks from across the world – mobilising the finance industry to direct capital towards environmentally and socially sustainable economic development.
    I know you’ve heard statistics like that before. And you might say, “Yes but isn’t that just the minority, a small slice of the economy?”.
    20 years ago you might have been right.
    10 even.
    But not today.
    Today business has a new set of challenges, a new cadre of leaders and a deep desire to contribute meaningful solutions.
    75% of the world’s largest companies now have multiple environmental and social goals in place.
    And new coalitions are rapidly forming.
    The Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change, now has over 1000 companies participating in over 60 countries.
    The United Nations Global Compact, now 9,000 members, all committed to taking action.
    The Carbon Disclosure project is now supported by 722 institutional investors with over $ 7 trillion of assets under management.
    And the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, with a global network of over 35,000 national businesses doing the same.
    This is no longer about isolated examples or case studies, pilots or pet projects.
    It’s about a new wave of investment that we could realise if we want to.
    It’s not about philanthropy,
    It’s about future-proofing growth.
    We now need to scale all these initiatives.
    That’s why the newest coalition that brings many of these groups together is simply called 
    “We Mean Business”
    Nothing could showcase this better than the World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s Action 2020 platform.
    A whole suite of ready–to-go business solutions;
    Companies and industries prepared to collaborate at levels never before seen in recognition of both the challenges we face, and the growth opportunities that will be unleashed by a clear change in direction to a low carbon world.
    Business solutions addressing:
    • renewable energy
    • carbon capture and storage (CCS),
    • deforestation and reforestation

    As well as cross cutting climate solutions for cities and climate resilience.
    And yet the power to bring them to scale lies in the enabling hands of governments.
    Take an example close to my heart, the Tropical Forest Alliance.
    You heard a little about it from Helen Clark just this morning:
    Consumer goods businesses, together with leadership from governments of Indonesia, Liberia, the UK, the United States and Norway working together with leading NGO's such as WRI , WWF or Greenpeace, to address a common challenge: eliminating illegal deforestation - up to 15 % of global emissions according to the IPCC.
    Committing to action, not in theory but in practice.
    Since the TFA conversations began Wilmar, the Indonesian company which supplies around half the palm oil in the world, has implemented its own sustainability standards which look set to transform the industry.
    Impossible alone. Possible together. That is the power of partnership.
    That’s why, right now, WBCSD member companies are stepping up to lead on both action and advocacy.
    They are committing to putting climate risk and opportunity squarely into corporate strategies.
    And they are starting to build a united voice.
    A voice that speaks ever louder to you, our political leaders.
    A voice which says “We are doing this. So can you.”
    And we cannot underestimate the importance of that.
    Without the right policy frameworks and political signals, even the most determined business action will not reach the necessary scale.
    Let me give you an example.
    12 years ago we thought it was impossible to refrigerate our ice creams without the use of HFC refrigerants. We didn’t know it then, but they’re one of the most damaging greenhouse gases that exist.
    10 years ago we set up Refrigerants, Naturally! with UNEP, Greenpeace and others to set a clear target to change that.
    6 years ago we applied to the US EPA to allow the use of alternative, natural refrigerant technology to be used in the United States.
    4 years ago the 400 members of our global trade association, the Consumer Goods Forum committed to beginning an HFC phase out by 2015.
    And today at Unilever, we’ve already purchased over 1.5 million ice cream freezers. Over a quarter of a million in the last year. Coca Cola, PepsiCo and Red Bull have bought around the same number of drinks coolers.
    But this year, you as governments will have the opportunity to commit to an accelerated phase out of HFCs under the Montreal Protocol. It is an unprecedented opportunity and I urge you to seize it.
    And while there are some quick wins on areas like HFCs, we know that’s just the start.
    Governments and heads of state have already committed to keeping global temperature rises to below 2ºC.
    Let’s be very clear what this means.
    Committing to 2 degrees means taking carbon emissions out of the energy systems of all major economies, within little more than a generation.
    We know this is feasible: we have the technologies and the capital. We know what policies we need.
    Yet we are on a very different path.
    As you all know, current national mitigation strategies only put us on a path to limit emissions rises to between 4ºC and 6ºC - more in some cases.
    That’s because not enough countries and businesses have internalised the costs.
    • the costs of inaction for their economies;
    • the costs of social unrest caused by unchecked climate change;
    • the costs of economic stagnation as consumers’ incomes are eroded by the rising costs of commodities, food and water.

    And I would ask the government representatives here whether you have estimated these costs;
    Whether you have internalised that number into your own decision making about what sensible economic, climate and energy policy looks like.
    Some countries have of course. Our friends in the Small Island States see it more clearly. But this isn’t just about them.
    It’s about all of us.
    And yet this calculation is critical.
    It is only when countries do this analysis that they see the benefits of committing to a policy regime that will unlock the trillions of dollars of private sector investment.
    The truth is that when you do the sums right, you see there is no trade off between sustainability and growth.
    Fortunately it can be done, and after lunch my good friend President Felipe Calderon will take you through the work of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate. It’s impressive work and I believe it will shift our collective perception of the climate change challenge. But I will let him say more about that.
    If climate action is so good for business, you might well wonder why that point of view isn’t often made more loudly or more forcefully by CEOs at your meetings.
    Well let me tell you unequivocally that it’s not because of any lack of appetite for action, or lack of understanding of the seriousness of the issue.
    It’s simply that CEOs prefer to work on specific tangible projects with real accountability, action and results. They are less versed in the broad framework discussions.
    Business people like to keep it simple.
    So let me try to do that:
    Business needs three things from the political community: Clarity, Confidence, and perhaps most of all, Courage.
    The more of these that the global business community can see, the greater and more transformational will be the business response.
    Above all, we are looking for evidence of a commitment to integrate international ambition in domestic legislation:
    Legislation that sets clear targets within a common framework;
    Targets that deliver not incremental but transformational change;
    Targets that will unlock billions of investments to stay within the 2 degrees challenge.
    And this is your opportunity; Your prize, if you will.
    Business overwhelmingly believes it can do this.
    Business wants to do this.
    But many are not yet convinced that all of you, the governments are with them.
    This is your opportunity to change that.
    This is your opportunity to lead.
    This is your opportunity to de-risk low carbon investment;
    To leverage the power of business to address the challenges we all face and to consider, seriously, the role that a carbon price must play in this transformation.
    The global business community has begun to chart a new course.
    As you go into your ministerial dialogue this afternoon, I ask you to reflect upon the opportunities that would be unleashed by a step change in our collective ambition;
    To recognise the benefits that would flow to the countries prepared to show real leadership;
    To see the changes for what they are:
    The beginning of the end for the high carbon era
    And the birth of a new kind of economy.
    An economy in which the new businesses of the future,
    And the forward-thinking ones from the past,
    Will come together to create a new industrial landscape,
    And a better future for us all.

    Thank You.

    Tuesday, August 12, 2014

    Unilever and its Sustainable Living Plan -- Worth Investing In

    From The Economist

    Paul Polman, Unilever CEO
    Unilever defines sustainability broadly. It includes not just environmental factors but improving the lot of customers and workers—its own and those in its supply chain. It also aims to contribute to society as a whole. These goals are seen as necessary to maintain the firm’s “licence to operate” in an age when, Mr Polman believes, companies will be subject to increasing public scrutiny.

    Specifically, by 2020, Unilever aims to: “help a billion people to take steps to improve their health and well-being;" halve the environmental impact of its products; and source all its agricultural raw materials sustainably, meaning that they should meet requirements covering everything from forest protection to pest control.