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Thursday, September 29, 2016

APCD issues another caution notice for blowing dust from gusty winds

The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District (APCD) has issued another cautionary health notice today for residents of the Valley.

APCD officials are expecting northwesterly gusty winds across the entire San Joaquin Valley Friday afternoon, September 30, through Monday, October 30, 2016. They expect that the winds will generate more blowing dust that will contain potentially unhealthy levels of particulate matter 10 microns and smaller (PM10).

The winds will be resulting from an expected cold front accompanying a low pressure area moving in and out of the Valley as a high pressure system builds behind it.

Exposure to PM10 pollution can cause serious health problems, including asthma attacks, bronchitis,and aggravate those with lung or heart diseases, as well as increasing the risk for respiratory infections.

Whale poop helps solve climate change problems

How the world responds to man-made climate change involves a very complex, expensive, and politically divisive array of potential solutions and lifestyle adjustments. However, one natural process of which you may have been unaware involves the largest mammals in the world: whales.

As explained in the excellent video below, whales play a primary role in the ecology of the oceans, and, as a result, the world as well. Just like the rest of us, they need to eat to survive, and, well, they need to relieve themselves afterward too.

So why is this important one may ask?

When their waste products are released into the ocean, they provide vital nutrients for algae and plankton growth in the upper reaches of the ocean.  In addition to providing a source of food for ocean fish and animal life, plant plankton also adsorbs CO2 from the atmosphere, thus providing a sink (or removal process) for CO2 emissions as well.

Scientists have estimated that before whaling populations were decimated by decades of hunting, whales were indirectly responsible for removing tens of millions of tons of CO2 from the atmosphere. Therefore, efforts by environmental groups and governments to stop whaling activities will not only lead to a resurgence of whale populations, but also result in more CO2 being removed from the atmosphere.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

NAS scientists blast Trump's climate change ignorance

"Human-caused climate change is not a belief, a hoax, or a conspiracy. It is a physical reality. Fossil fuels powered the Industrial Revolution. But the burning of oil, coal, and gas also caused most of the historical increase in atmospheric levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases. This increase in greenhouse gases is changing Earth’s climate."

The above is the first paragraph from an open letter signed by 375 National Academy of Sciences scientists, including 60 Nobel Prize winners. The letter is meant to emphasize the urgency of taking measures now to address the consequences of man-made climate change.

The letter also calls out the ignorance of the Republican nominee for President of the United States, Donald Trump, for his stated plans to remove the USA from previous international agreements to address this worldwide issue.

The letter states, "Thus it is of great concern that the Republican nominee for President has advocated U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Accord. A “Parexit” would send a clear signal to the rest of the world: "The United States does not care about the global problem of human-caused climate change. You are on your own." Such a decision would make it far more difficult to develop effective global strategies for mitigating and adapting to climate change. The consequences of opting out of the global community would be severe and long-lasting – for our planet’s climate and for the international credibility of the United States."

Trump has previously expressed his opinions on climate change, including a much ridiculed tweet from several years ago that it is a Chinese conspiracy. In fairness, he later claimed that this tweet was a joke, however, he has on numerous other occasions publicly stated that he does not believe in man-made climate change.

You can view the entire letter at this link: Open Letter on Climate Change

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

APCD issues health warning due to smoke from fires

The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District today issued a "health cautionary" statement for residents of the Valley because of wind blown smoke from fires outside the area.

Soberanes Wildfire

Photo Credit: By TJRC (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Smoke from two fires in Monterey County (Soberanes Fire) and Santa Barbara County (Canyon Fire) is blowing into the Valley via wind currents. Particulate matter and other pollutants from those fires may cause respiratory problems and other health issues, including an increased risk for stroke and heart attacks.

The full alert can be found at this link: APCD Smoke Advisory

Thursday, September 15, 2016

2017 Healthy Air Living Kid's Calendar contest

Hey, do you know a kid in Kindergarten through high school that has a talent for art and an interest in the environment? It's time for the annual Healthy Air Living Kid's Calendar for 2017, sponsored by the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District.

Twenty-thousand copies of the calendar will be printed and distributed for free to schools, churches, non-profits, community groups, and healthcare facilities. Here's a link to last year's calendar: 2016 Calendar

The entry deadline is Oct. 3, 2016. Click here for more info: 2017 Calendar Rules

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Are you a climate change skeptic and a Catholic? The Pope says you better get with the program!

Continuing what he started a year ago with his noteworthy encyclical, Laudato Si’, Pope Francis yesterday added a new work of mercy for all Catholics to perform - caring for the planet, including the environment and all of its inhabitants.

Marking the September 1st day of prayer for creation, the Pope further strengthened his bona fides as an environmentalist, calling upon all Catholics to lower their carbon footprints and become advocates for long-term economic and political systems that are just and sustainable instead of being focused on short-term profits and politics.

Franciscus in 2015

Pope Francis

Photo Credit: Casa Rosada (Argentina Presidency of the Nation) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

The head of the Vatican Office for Promoting Integral Human Development, Cardinal  Peter Turkson, summarized the process as one that begins by recognizing the harm humans have already done by being selfish, greedy, and irresponsible. 

He said, The first step in this process is to humbly acknowledge the harm we are doing to the earth through pollution, the scandalous destruction of ecosystems and loss of biodiversity, and the spectre of climate change—which seems nearer and more dangerous with each passing year. And to realize that when we hurt the earth, we also hurt the poor, whom God loves without limit.