High winds blew the row cover off the frame multiple times on Monday. I went outdoors and fixed it. I ended up using landscaping stakes to secure it in 40+ miles per hour wind. By sundown, the wind slowed. It was too late to get back to the garden.
By the time I return home after a morning appointment in Cedar Rapids, it should be warm enough to try gardening again. The good part about the delay is I had ample time to evaluate how to rearrange the next plot for planting. I decided to move the large composter over the remaining roots of the now gone locust tree to assist in its decomposition. I plan to get rid of the pallets that have been on the plot for a few years and store fence posts in the garage. This will increase the planting area, something sorely needed this year.
If I can get seeds in the ground, tomorrow’s rain will be good for them.
“Extreme (weather) events are becoming more numerous in every season, so Iowans should anticipate more floods, droughts and heat waves,” Iowa State Climatologist Justin Glisan recently said.
Farmers and gardeners recognize this. What I didn’t realize is a third of the major natural disasters hitting Iowa since 1980 have occurred in the last five years. Tornadoes, derechos, severe thunderstorms, heat waves and drought have become commonplace. While adaptation in small garden plots like mine is possible, the scale of the problem is much bigger than any one person’s experience or ability to cope.
The last few days have been colder that usual. By that, I mean the historical average high has been 52.5 degrees and today the forecast is ten degrees colder than that. There is expected variation year over year, so it’s not time to wig out about extreme weather just yet. All the same, by now I’d have something in the ground besides garlic planted last fall if ambient temperatures were closer to normal. Adaptation serves gardeners as there is a wide range of suitable conditions for growth.
Ten days before Good Friday, I’ll cut seed potatoes for seasoning before planting. I have a notebook of previous gardening years that serves as an indoor planting guide. It is time to start Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, peppers and eggplant, according to last year. Following the agenda is the kind of activity gardeners relish. It creates a sense of understanding that helps us get by in a turbulent society.
When I was working full time, there was no time to work through seasonal climatic variation in the garden. Vegetables either made it or they didn’t. Attention to earning an income in a career blinded me to what was going on around me. We each avoid unpleasantness in order to preserve the secure bubble we create and in which we live most of our lives. This type of insularity is a main reason governments take inadequate action on climate change: people are caught up in their personal world construct. The real world is too ugly to contemplate so we avoid thinking about it and in some cases enable disaster.
Even with climate change and increased frequency of extreme weather events, garden cycles remain. We work through them each year and recognize variations. Producing a harvest is always rewarding. A garden can give us grounding in reality. It’s something sorely needed in this household and in society more broadly. At present, most are oblivious to garden cycles as Earth continues to orbit the sun, grocery stores have food on shelves, and our nest seems protected from the ravages we see on media coming into our devices.
It is easy to turn away from garden cycles, yet we shouldn’t.
Around midnight I woke with my mind racing. There was a high-pressure fire hose full of news on Monday. It is continuing into Tuesday.
With Ukraine being eight time zones ahead, there were a lot of reports coming in via Twitter when I looked at the mobile device in bed. Much of the information was negative. The fact there is a war in Ukraine at all is negative. If Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin intended to make quick work of conquering Ukraine, he failed.
Putin put Russian nuclear forces on high alert and no one is certain what that will mean, other than creation of an opportunity for unintentional detonation of nuclear warheads. Monday President Biden said people should not fear a nuclear war. He obviously has information I don’t, yet knowing this is happening raised my personal tension a notch.
The Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change released their latest report yesterday. The last sentence of the 3,675-page report says it all. “Any further delay in concerted anticipatory global action on adaptation and mitigation will miss a brief and rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a livable and sustainable future for all.”
The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in West Virginia v. EPA on Monday. Justice questions centered around “major questions” which should be decided by the Congress, not by a regulatory agency. The fear is SCOTUS will severely limit the kind and amount of regulation the Environmental Protection Agency can introduce, sending any action on controlling greenhouse gas emissions back to a stalemated Congress. With a 6-3 conservative tilt, Republicans got what they wanted when President Trump appointed three justices during his term in office.
Republicans in the Iowa Legislature are making laws without regard for dissenting voices. They have a clear majority and are passing whatever laws pop into their heads. The degrading of intellectual standards among lawmakers is obvious and frustrating.
I continue to wait for dust to settle and determine personal next steps. Spring will soon be here, I’m working on income taxes, and once garden planting begins there will be a rush toward Memorial Day. Things seem a bit out of control.
Later this morning I will take a nap. Otherwise, I’m unlikely to make it until supper time. With everything going on, it is hard to sleep and unlikely there is any returning to normal. It is hard to know what the new normal will be.
This response to my message to U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley has been sitting in a file folder waiting for me to write a response. Upon review, I don’t really have a response as the letter speaks for itself. Shorter Grassley: wind, ethanol and biodiesel are what I have been and am willing to work on going forward.
Dear Mr. Deaton:
Thank you for taking the time to contact me. As your senator, it is important for me to hear from you.
I appreciate you sharing your concerns regarding climate change with me. I have long said that I acknowledge that a changing climate is a historical and scientific fact. I also recognize that most scientists say manmade emissions contribute to climate change. In addition, it is just common sense to promote the development of clean forms of energy. In fact, throughout my tenure in the Senate, I have been a leader in promoting alternative energy sources as a way of protecting our environment and increasing our energy independence. I’ve been an outspoken advocate of various forms of renewable and alternative energy, including wind, biomass, agriculture wastes, ethanol and biodiesel. As the former Chairman and Ranking member of the Finance Committee, I’ve worked for years to enact tax policies that support the growth of these alternative resources and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. We need to develop a comprehensive energy policy and review the tax incentives for all energy sources. Our goal should be that clean energy alternatives become cost-effective, viable parts of our energy mix to power our homes and businesses for the long term.
To the extent that clean, alternative forms of energy can be made more cost effective than fossil fuels, it will be a win-win situation. In the meantime, any measure that forces a shift from low-cost energy sources to higher cost alternatives will impose hardships on hard working Americans, especially those least able to afford higher prices for home heating, food, and transportation. Higher energy costs also affect jobs, particularly in the manufacturing sector.
I believe we have an obligation to future generations that our environment is both clean and safe. Additionally, I believe it makes economic sense to have a healthy environment. Throughout my tenure in the Senate, I have authored and supported legislation that promotes renewable energy sources to protect the environment, support our economy, and increase our energy independence. I’ve been an advocate of various forms, including wind, ethanol, and biodiesel.
As you may know, Iowa has had much success in the production of these renewable energy sources. As the number one producer of corn, ethanol, and biodiesel, our state leads the nation’s renewable fuels industry. This cleaner-burning, homegrown energy supports the economy by generating 37,000 jobs and nearly $4 billion of Iowa’s GDP. In 2020, Iowa produced 3.7 billion gallons of ethanol. In regards to environmental benefits, ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 43 percent compared to conventional gasoline.
As the “father” of the Wind Energy Incentives Act of 1993, I sought to give this renewable energy source the ability to compete with traditional, finite sources. Today, wind energy supports over 9,000 Iowa jobs and provides 40 percent of our state’s electricity. Like ethanol and other advanced biofuels, wind energy is renewable and does not obligate the United States to rely on unstable foreign states. Further, the U.S. Department of Energy recently released its annual wind Markets Reports. Within this report are several notable updates about Iowa. Iowa currently leads the U.S. in wind-generated electricity. At 57 percent, Iowa has become the only state where over half of our in-state generated energy comes from wind. Lastly, the wind industry supports over 116,000 U.S. jobs.
Going forward, I believe the most effective action Congress can take to address this issue is to advance policies that increase the availability and affordability of renewable energy sources. If these energy sources can become more competitive, market forces will drive a natural, low-cost transition in our energy mix that will be a win-win for American families.
Again, thank you for taking the time to contact me. Please keep in touch.
Chuck Grassley United States Senator
Email from U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley dated Nov. 10, 2021.
Governor Kim Reynolds mentioned carbon-capture in her condition of the state address during a segment on renewable energy.
I am introducing new legislation that will improve access to E15 and B20 and upgrade Iowa’s fuel infrastructure to offer higher blends. And I’m proposing that we invest in carbon-capture solutions to sustain and build on our leadership position in renewable energy.
Governor Kim Reynolds Condition of the State Address, Jan. 11, 2022.
To be clear, the governor supports carbon-capture to protect Iowa’s investments in ethanol and bio-fuels. It has nothing to do with addressing the climate crisis, and everything to do with continuing to grow corn for ethanol. We are not sure if carbon-capture even works.
“The U.S. Department of Energy invested $684 million in unsuccessful carbon capture and storage demonstration projects at coal plants under the 2009 stimulus package, a U.S. Government Accountability Office audit found,” according to Karin Rives at S&P Global. “This time, the DOE has close to $1 billion from the 2021 infrastructure law earmarked for large-scale carbon capture pilot projects, as well as $2.5 billion for carbon capture demonstrations.”
If DOE spent $684 million on carbon capture and it failed to capture carbon, why would our government increase the amount to be spent? To address the climate crisis, ethanol and bio-fuels need to go out of business. Society should develop true alternative fuels that free farmer fields to grow food crops and don’t rely on release of carbon dioxide to produce ethanol.
Fool me once on carbon capture, shame on you. Fool me a second time, shame on me.
Inconsistent winter weather disrupted fruit tree plans. On Wednesday snow melt began flowing in the gutters and downspout. It felt safe enough to make a trip through melting snow pack to the composter near the garden. A slushy mix returned to the end of the driveway. Weather has been weird.
It takes several days of subzero temperatures in a row to prune fruit trees. I prefer a week of ten or twenty below zero yet we haven’t had that. I also seek to harvest scions, (pencil shaped fruit tree cuttings) to graft on root stock. I would save the Red Delicious apple tree which was damaged in the Aug. 10, 2020 derecho. It served us well while it was whole. Trees need dormancy for scions to work and we haven’t had that either.
This week has been a fake spring. It’s still winter, for Pete’s sake! Yet the buds on trees look healthy, like they are ready to sprout. The lilac bushes were leafing just last month. I wouldn’t mind spring’s arrival yet I want a winter too.
At least the onions and shallots planted Jan. 6 are germinating.
We bunker in to avoid the coronavirus and wait for a deep freeze and dormancy it would bring. These days have been good for writing.
It is difficult waiting for winter and fruit tree work when what we really want is a normal spring. Today, I’d settle for a normal winter so I can harvest scions.
Two corporations plan to install Carbon Capture and Sequestration technology to collect CO2 emissions at about 40 ethanol and fertilizer plants spread across Iowa. Next, they plan to permanently bury the resulting liquefied CO2 in deep rock formations in North Dakota and Illinois. I don’t know who is swallowing this malarkey. Almost no one is.
The CO2 pipeline is planned to cross Karmen McShane’s family land in Linn County.
“It’s heartbreaking,” McShane told Gannett’s Donnelle Eller for a story. “My dad is 77. My mom needs care. And he feels powerless (to fight the pipeline).”
There is a lot of that going around.
The pace of news articles on CCS is increasing. Eller wrote about it in Monday’s Iowa City Press Citizen and followed it with another article in Tuesday’s newspaper. Erin Jordan of the Cedar Rapids Gazette has been covering CCS as well. When the regular news coverage is frequent, we should read what paid media writers have to say. That’s what I’ll be doing to see how the process unfolds over the end of year holidays. This is my seventh post on CCS.
The Iowa oligarchy of agriculture decided to do this thing, so resistance may be futile unless more people than have become engaged. If McShane is typical, the train left the station and once ground is broken for the pipeline, there will be no stopping it.
As long as Iowa focuses on ethanol, industrial agriculture using manufactured fertilizers, and monoculture row crops and livestock, the environment will get worse. It is pretty bad already if one looks at water and air quality. Implementing CCS does not address any of this and is a distraction from needed action to address Iowa’s water and air quality.
CCS is premised on a vague statement that we must decarbonize the economy. People have written books on this, and just because two companies are spending big bucks on the project, the one-off process in Iowa does not address broader concerns about reducing the amount of greenhouse gases being released into the atmosphere as if it were an open sewer. As far as I can tell, the sole reason for the project is to protect agricultural oligarchs’ two children: corn ethanol production and fertilizer manufacturing.
To read the rest of my coverage of carbon capture and sequestration in Iowa, click here.
When I wrote my Federal Elected Officials about climate change on Oct. 18, Congresswoman Mariannette Miller-Meeks was first to respond a few days later (see below). I did not know there was a Conservative Climate Caucus. She is a member and lifted the third paragraph of her response to me from the caucus website.
As long as she supports the beliefs of the caucus, there will be trouble reconciling my views with hers. In the long run, that’s okay. It is a starting point and we need to get going. We needed to get going 50 years ago.
The Conservative Climate Caucus was founded by Republican Congressman John R. Curtis (UT-03) in June this year with the following statement of beliefs:
What We Believe
The climate is changing, and decades of a global industrial era that has brought prosperity to the world has also contributed to that change.
Private sector innovation, American resources, and R&D investment have resulted in lower emissions and affordable energy, placing the United States as the global leader in reducing emissions
Climate change is a global issue and China is the greatest immediate obstacle to reducing world emissions. Solutions should reduce global emissions and not just be “feel good” policies
Practical and exportable answers can be found in innovation embraced by the free market. Americans and the rest of the world want access to cheaper, reliable, and cleaner energy
With innovative technologies, fossil fuels can and should be a major part of the global solution
Reducing emissions is the goal, not reducing energy choices
What We Do
Educate House Republicans on climate policies and legislation consistent with conservative values
Organize co-dels and staff-dels to better understand technologies and issues related to climate
Organize Member and staff briefings on conservative climate proposals
Bring Republicans to the table to fight against radical progressive climate proposals that would hurt our economy, American workers, and national security
Introduce Republican members and staff to leaders in industry, think tanks, and more
When it comes to hurting our economy, American workers, and national security, engagement of the federal government to address the climate crisis is essential. As long as Iowa focuses on ethanol, industrial agriculture using manufactured fertilizers, and monoculture row crops and livestock, the environment will get worse. It is pretty bad already if one looks at water and air quality. There is not much hope for the Conservative Climate Caucus as it was introduced, yet it’s what we have. It is an open question whether Democrats are up to the challenge of retiring Miller-Meeks after her first term. She is a strong campaigner and well known in the district. We have to begin somewhere, and soon. This may be it.
While Wednesday’s extreme weather manifested as a blustery thunderstorm in Big Grove, meteorologists have since categorized the multi-state storm as a derecho. It was nowhere as severe as the Aug. 10, 2020 derecho. (Update: The National Weather Service said it confirmed 43 tornadoes on Dec. 15, 2021. On Jan. 7, 2022 the number was revised to 61).
The good news is with generator and fuel standing by, and gallon jugs of bottled drinking water stored downstairs, we are ready. Practice makes perfect, as they say.
I spent 30 minutes chatting with a registered Republican, small business owner, and FOX News watcher this week. Things went well. We had plenty in common. The challenge is turning points of commonality into votes for progressive ideas. When push comes to shove, abortion is the dominant wolf in the pack. It is a firewall against political persuasion because if raised, the chat stops right there. People who oppose a woman’s right to choose raise the issue early in political conversations.
I have no choice but to interact with Republicans. They are and have been a part of our community since we lived here. During election cycles when I’ve had access to the voter rolls, I looked for the Democrats and increasingly they are in a minority where I live. I’m not complaining, just saying.
On a Zoom meeting with Iowa gubernatorial candidate Deidre DeJear last night, I asked what we should be doing to organize between now and the June primary. The response, somewhat predictably, was we should sign up to work on her campaign. It was her event, so I’m okay with that. A challenge remains unaddressed, though.
Democrats have three U.S. Senate candidates, two for governor, an unknown Democrat for the First Congressional District, and no declared candidate for either my state senator or state representative. There is a lot of work ahead if we want to elect more Democrats.
There is a case to be made the party primary election should be eliminated in favor of selecting candidates at a convention. It sounds undemocratic yet we could pick our people soon after the February precinct caucus rather than wait until June. That would give us four additional organizing months. We need every one of those in the current environment.
Back in the ancient days when megafauna roamed Earth, during the run up to the 2020 Democratic precinct caucuses, Iowa’s system failed to produce a clear winner in the presidential race. Instead results were delayed, the winner barely won the delegate count, and a loser asked for a recanvass of selected precincts. It wasn’t much better in 2016 when Hillary Clinton bested Bernie Sanders by a few delegates. There is no perfect system yet we can do better than the Iowa caucuses.
What I do, talking to Republican neighbors, is part of the political process yet I don’t see how it dovetails into the broader, state-wide politics. Politicians should concentrate on counting votes, yet there are endless conversations in all settings going on every day. These local conversations matter more than the vote-counting of politicians. They are valid and useful if sometimes frustrating. Often people who are different in political views put their best foot forward to get along in society. That may be all we have together. Democrats have yet to define our values in a way that resonates outside our clan.
I’m glad to have survived my second derecho. Now if I can survive our politics. That would be the rainbow at the end of a storm.
The language used by supporters of carbon capture and sequestration in Iowa is very specific. Not only doesn’t it include the words “climate change,” it specifically avoids mentioning it. This is a long-standing practice among major agricultural groups.
As mentioned last week, Iowa is primarily a production landscape for hogs, cattle, corn and beans where our water, air and land have been and continue to be used like an open sewer. The major agricultural groups are the Iowa Pork Producers Association, the Cattlemen’s Association, the Iowa Corn Growers Association, and the Iowa Soybean Association. Agricultural Iowa is about business at a distance from the meme farmers are the original environmentalists. To them, carbon capture is about business, not reducing greenhouse gas emissions or stewardship of the environment.
Representatives of these agricultural associations showed up in Mount Pleasant, Iowa during the 2012 drought. Governor Terry Branstad and Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds heard their report. The words “climate change” were absent from public discussion of the drought.
The eight hundred pound gorilla in the Mount Pleasant High School Gymnasium today was the subject of climate change. Governor Terry Branstad called for a public discussion on drought conditions in Iowa and all of the governmental players were there: USDA, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and the Farm Services Administration. The phrase “climate change,” or any analysis of causation for the current drought was absent from the public discussion. This was a meeting about row crop agriculture and related agricultural producers and it was intended to deal with the as-is situation. The obvious problem, as Mark Schouten of Homeland Security and Emergency Response put it, “you can’t snap your fingers and make it rain.”
The eight hundred pound gorilla has returned to Iowa as the Iowa Utilities Board hears the case for Summit and Navigator to implement carbon capture and sequestration systems which include hundreds of miles of buried pipeline. The language is familiar in its avoidance of discussion of climate change.
On Monday, Rep. Chuck Isenhart attended a public information meeting held by the Iowa Utilities Board for the Navigator project in Manchester. He used Twitter to relay news from the meeting. If landowners were most concerned with restoration of land productivity in the event the CO2 pipeline crossed their property, following is a main point about the absence of climate change from the discussion:
While the project as proposed would offset the CO2 equivalent of 34.7 million barrels of oil annually, according to Isenhart, “No meaningful impact on PPM atmospheric CO2 anticipated from project.” What is the project about if not reducing greenhouse gases like CO2? “Economic competitiveness of ethanol and fertilizer producers.”
States like California and Oregon have already begun to move toward a low carbon economy, including debate on whether ethanol is a “low carbon fuel.” Let me settle it this way. Summit and Navigator are spending more than a billion dollars to ship condensed CO2 from ethanol and fertilizer plants and bury it deep geological formations. Seems like a lot of carbon dioxide production to me. Why are they doing that?
The delay by the Biden administration in release of volume requirements in the Renewable Fuel Standard for 2021 and 2022.
The ethanol industry suffered major setbacks in court with the loss of year-round E15 and at the Supreme Court on a small-refinery exemptions case.
In response to policies like the Renewable Fuel Standard, California Low Carbon Fuel Standard, and Oregon Clean Fuels Program.
President Biden rejoined the 2015 Paris Agreement.
The debate among environmentalists is whether a decarbonized economy reaches net zero emissions or zero emissions. In either case, pairing ethanol and fertilizer production with CCS doesn’t meet the requirements.
The more study of the matter, the clearer it becomes that the Summit and Navigator projects are about making ethanol “competitive” should the economy decarbonize. It is a big hedge against a government directive to eliminate the financial and policy incentives to produce corn for ethanol.
Opposing production of corn ethanol is not a popular position in Iowa because more than half of corn raised is feed stock for ethanol. However, it is the right position.
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