Posts Tagged With: friendly

RE-BLOGGING, Whistleblower.

Guest Blog

I’m grateful for the whistleblowers who have provided us with transparency and exposed illegal practices by employers or by the government. California, New Jersey, and New York have friendly whistleblower laws.  I read where some states have made it against the law to report abuses in their states, but I couldn’t find it on the net-yet.

Whistleblower Who Exposed White House Tampering with Climate Science Dies

By Paul Thacker

Rick Piltz passed away last Saturday. He spent decades working in the federal government and state government in Texas, and was a prominent whistleblower during the Bush administration. He later founded Climate Science Watch.

I first met Rick Piltz after reading a 2005 New York Times story exposing a concerted effort by the Bush White House to down play links between greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. The story was a blockbuster and featured leaked documents with the actual handwritten edits of White House officials. I eventually figured out the leaker was Rick Piltz.

I was working for a science journal and called to ask if he would do a Q&A with us. At that time, I was beginning to realize that the White House was trying to bury and deny scientific evidence that harmed corporate products or was at cross purposes to Republican party ideology. This effort extended to EPA chemical regulations and FDA approval of birth control. That’s why I wanted to interview Piltz. I wanted the view of a veteran government expert to explain to scientists how scientific policy really happens. Not the theory, but the actual practice.

We met at a bar close to the White House in the late afternoon. I wanted a casual discussion in a relaxed environment so I could get him to be as honest as possible. I figured hanging out at a bar over a couple of beers would be best. This was his first time speaking up since he had left the government.

Piltz was nervous and stressed during the interview. He had just left a secure job, because he could no longer take what was happening in the U.S. Global Change Research Program, the federal group created to help the nation address global warming. He didn’t know what he was going to do next in his career.

The main White House perpetrator, he told me, was Philip Cooney, a former employee at the American Petroleum Institute, who the White House had hired to coordinate the nation’s reports on climate change. Within days of the New York Times article, Cooney resigned from the White House and was then hired by Exxon Mobil, a company that had a long track record of disseminating disinformation on climate change.

During our talk, Piltz made it clear that the White House was doing everything possible to create confusion on climate change. “With all these arcane debates about climate models and cost–benefit economic models, the general public can’t get their arms around climate change,” he said. What the administration didn’t want was for people to start learning about what was going to happen in their communities: how climate change was going to affect grain farmers in the Midwest, people living on the Gulf Coast, and New Yorkers dealing with a subway system that could get flooded by storm surge.

When you stop discussing arcane scientific algorithms, he said, you create a national discussion. “[Y]ou start talking about real things that affect people.”

What Piltz said nine years ago has come into sharper focus. The year after Piltz went public, hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast and devastated New Orleans. Some scientists say it was made more powerful by climate change. In a moment of recent irony, the Secretary of Energy visited Houston, Texas, to warn locals that the city’s petroleum infrastructure—including the Ship Channel and refineries—are vulnerable to climate change. The politics have also evolved. Corn growers in Iowa are worried now that global warming will harm agriculture and formed a political action committee to oppose a politician who denies climate change. Piltz was even right about hurricanes affecting Manhattan subways, something that I thought was absurd at the time. After hurricane Sandy wracked New York City, Lloyds of London stated that the storm surge from sea level rise caused 30 percent of the economic loss. That’s $8 billion in New York alone.

Piltz later founded Climate Science Watch, a program with the Government Accountability Project. He didn’t want another government job, he told me, because he was tired of working for other people and moving their agenda forward. It was time for him to go it alone.

Exposing how the White House was manipulating government reports on climate change spurred congressional investigations and coverage by 60 Minutes and several documentaries. The issue of scientific integrity became so acute that one of President Obama’s first directives after he was elected concerned restoring integrity to the scientific process.

Unlike many in the environmental community, Piltz did not quickly jump on the Obama bandwagon. He knew that the problems dealing with scientific integrity was ingrained in both parties, and he never yielded from criticizing the new President.

Created in part by financially conflicted think tanks and their academic compatriots, a new meme has emerged: scientists who speak out are no longer scientists; they are “activists.” The point is to discredit a scientist who does not sit quietly on the sidelines, publishing research in academic journals that most citizens will never read. Nowhere is this more rampant than in climate science, an area where experts with incredible math skills find their research torn apart by attorneys who probably couldn’t pass a course in differential equations at a local community college.

I honestly have no clue what this term “activist” means. If my doctor, for instance, tells me to eat better or risk cardiovascular disease, I would listen and try and make dietary changes. I wouldn’t think that, by giving medical advice, my doctor was a crusader against cattle ranchers and the potato chip companies.

Piltz spent decades in science policy and had a clear understanding of how science can get distorted, buried and misused if it inconveniences people in power.

“Scientists see politics as beneath them,” he said. “So they don’t learn how to engage policy makers. You can’t just drop some journal article over the transom and hope for the best.”

The danger for scientific experts isn’t just in speaking up. The danger is also remaining silent.

Rick wasn’t afraid to speak up. He will be missed.

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We spent the night in the parking lot of the Cameron Park Wildlife Visitors Center.  Employees coming to work  knocked on the door and told us there was no camping in their parking lot. Jim explained about taking refuge from the storm and told them we would be visiting the center before we hit the road.  There is a boardwalk to an observation platform.DSC03074 (Copy)

There are no trails to walk here, just one huge wetland very busy with birds and ducks.  The center has  two films,  artifacts and information about wildlife in the area.

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We were amazed to see about 40 roseate spoonbills huddling in a copse of trees at some distance from our lens.  Their feathers are all fluffed up in an effort to keep warm. It was still windy and cold in the morning.

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Like the egrets they are such majestic birds and obviously hungry.

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It was fun watching them eat.

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One bird would fly back to the group and another would come out to eat. I tried to get a decent shot of them flying but by the time they lift off and you try to find them in your viewer, they are too far away.

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Birds high in the sky made a pretty sight. I thought they were geese, but on closer inspection they have medium long curved bills and I don’t know what they are. If you left click on the photos they enlarge. Do it twice, and they get bigger still.

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I caught this fellow just swallowing his food.

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Each time I’d turn back and try to isolate a bird from the mob huddled in the trees, the clarity suffers from the distance. Fascinating anyway.

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Then as we were driving away, I could see a path behind the copse of trees near the road. Jim turned around for me and I walked behind the birds and got a couple of crisp shots. They were edgy and most of them flushed somewhere out toward the wetlands.

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The thick brush made photos difficult, but they are so beautiful, it  was  worth the effort.

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We stopped for groceries  in Lake Arthur and got permission to park at the American Legion Post 405. A very friendly group. In fact, when I came out of the grocery store, a gentleman coming into the store offered to help me with my groceries. A very friendly town. No one locks their doors. Very little crime. God’s country.

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They wouldn’t let us buy a drink in the place. This is Norman, Joe and Sally. Sally looks much like Loretta Lynn. She loves her music.

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Everyone I asked was born and raised right here in Lake Arthur. Norman loves to dance and he informed Jim that everyone there is staunch Catholic and we were living in sin, at which time the whole bar erupted into laughter. We could hardly get away. They’ve asked us to stay for their jambalaya feed on Thursday afternoon. We have another storm warning for Thursday, with a tornado watch, so we have no plans to drive anywhere on Thursday.

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Yesterday, we left Sandee’s and drove to Thornydale,  AZ where I was able to buy ink for our printer,  fax paperwork and catch up on some business before reaching a small suburb of Tuscon. I’m learning that Tuscon covers a huge area of influence. Didn’t we just leave Tuscon 80 miles back?

We are staying with the Moose for several days where we met (serious only in the photo) Paul, our seat mate at the bar. Every now and then you meet someone who says, “What’s blogging?”  It is hard to explain to people with no experience with computers. Paul kept shying away from having his picture taken and finally agreed. He was a lot of fun and agreed to sell us some home-made green corn tamales.  We still lust after those we bought in Yuma in 2008. We compare all  to those.

Carleen, the bartender was a hoot and kept telling us how strong she is. Doesn’t do arm wrestling, though.

Some lodges people are friendly as can be and make you feel instantly at ease. We stayed for dinner. Paul touted us on the Tuscon Rodeo and Parade which isn’t until Thursday.

We laughed with this crusty, funny gal.



I got a recipe from my friend Pam Munn that is quick and easy in an RV. Use a package of Lipton Onion Soup Mix. Add a rind of cheese, two green onions, two stalks of celery, a sprig of parsley or cilantro if you have it.  One  potato cut into chunks. In ten minutes, you have a fast eat. It’s protection against raining cats and dogs.


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Home is busy time, and once again I enjoy looking back at favorite places. The small town of Franklin, Louisiana was one of those. Not only did we find friendly people there, but much that was unique about it. It has moss covered trees with old antibellum mansions, but its more than that. Its modern and up-to-date, yet ageless, with great history…well, lets let the pictures speak.

A fancy building facade from 1892.

A modern clock hangs off the side of a Main St. building.

Decorative curbside lighting allows theater patrons to disembark their cars at night without stumbling on the curb.

Old time wrought iron graces this building.

The tires, the tires! Amazing tires. Not junk. It tells of an agricultural presence.

I wonder who stacked these babies.

Their old jail had windows, with bars on them, but at least a view.

A nifty museum chock full of interesting stuff. I liked the doily and old silver jewelry.

And giant wooden gears from old machinery.

Mardi Gras costumes hide out in every little town in Louisiana.

LeJeune’s is still in operation and is on the National Historic Registry. If the light is on, they still have bread available. We got there in time.

Maybe not a popular thing everywhere, but they kind of revere their Confederate past.

Citizens here knew two wars. I got a kick out of the “friendly behavior.”  I guess a prisoner of war camp in the U.S. was preferred to starving in Germany.

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