Nineteen firefighters died fighting a forest fire in Arizona earlier this summer. Curiously, almost no one is talking about why it happened, only that it was a tragedy. Arizona Deputy State Forestry Director Jerry Payne has been the only one to speak out about the cause, and he backtracked immediately afterwards, apologizing for what he said. He claimed that the superintendent of the Granite Mountain Hotshots violated wildlife safety protocols while fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire on June 30th, 2013, 60 miles north of Phoenix.
According to Payne, the superintendent's violations allegedly included not knowing the location of the fire, failing to have a spotter serve as a lookout, and leading his crew through thick, unburned vegetation near a wildfire. There wasn't a proper escape route in case the fire changed direction; the firemen would have to bushwhack through thick brush to retreat. The firefighters lost their lives when the fire suddenly changed direction and came at them, traveling 12 miles an hour. The fire destroyed more than 100 of the roughly 700 homes in Yarnell, burning 13 square miles. Flames shot up to 20 feet in the air.
The account given by Payne is not the whole picture. Firefighting today is not what it was 20 years ago. Fires 20 years ago moved slowly, at 2-3 mph. Today they move at speeds of 10-12 mph. There are three reasons for this. First, people are building more homes near or within forests. In the past, no one dared to build a house in the forest, because there weren't fire departments everywhere. As one retired firefighter told me, "Try to find a photo of a house in the middle of the forest from 100 years ago. You can't." more >>
Summer usually means higher gas prices. Conventional wisdom says that people travel more in the summer that raises the demand for gas, and everyone knows an increase in demand will drive up prices. But what if I told you that demand for gas has actually dropped significantly and that crude oil production in the United States has gone up? Believe it or not, American fuel consumption is down16 percent since 2007, and for the first time since 1995, our domestic production of crude oil will be greater than the amount we import.
So here's the million-dollar question: why are we still paying record prices for gas? Why haven't prices gone down as the law of supply and demand would suggest? There's rarely a simple answer to a complicated question, but the short answer is: corn. Through a bizarre turn of events, corn and the bad energy policies that force us to put corn in our gas tanks are now causing us record levels of pain at the pump.
Ethanol is a grain alcohol, often fermented from corn, which can also be used as fuel. The idea of corn ethanol as a way to stretch limited amounts of crude oil has been around for a long time. Not surprisingly, some of the strongest advocates of its use have been corn farmers and the politicians who represent them. The fact that the Iowa grows a lot of corn and the Iowa Caucuses are an important pit stop for every presidential candidate means that ethanol has always had friends in high places. more >>
The Keystone XL pipeline will not be built unless it can be shown that it will not lead to a net increase in carbon emissions, President Barack Obama declared in a major Tuesday speech on climate change at Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. While appearing to appease environmentalists, the announcement could mean that the project will move forward.
"Allowing the Keystone pipeline to be built requires a finding that doing so would be in our national interest," he said. "And our national interest will be served only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution. The net effects of the pipeline's impact on our climate will be absolutely critical to determining whether this project is allowed to go forward."
If completed, the Keystone pipeline will carry oil from Alberta, Canada, to refineries in the Gulf Coast. Environmental activists have urged Obama to kill the project, arguing that it will exacerbate climate change and could damage environmentally sensitive areas. Supporters of the pipeline have argued it will boost the economy by providing jobs for the construction of the pipeline and by lowering the costs of energy once the pipeline is complete. more >>
A conspiracy theorist and libertarian radio personality has claimed that the federal government has the means to use weather phenomenons like tornadoes as weapons.
Alex Jones, author, documentary filmmaker, and overseer of the website inforwars.com, responded to a question from a caller Tuesday regarding the possible existence of "Weather Weapons."
"They spend, the Department of Energy, the last time I checked, $5 billion a year in studying weather modification," said Jones on his Austin, Texas-based radio program, The Alex Jones Show. more >>
A majority of pastors doubt the existence of manmade global warming, according to a new study from LifeWay Research, yet most churches have some type of recycling program in place.
Researchers surveyed 1,000 Protestant pastors in October 2012 and found that just 43 percent of them agreed with the statement: "I believe global warming is real and manmade." But while a majority (54 percent) of ministers did not agree with the statement, 63 percent said their church has a recycling program and 45 percent said their church has made tangible steps toward reducing its carbon footprint.
"'Saving the world' may mean different things to an environmentalist than to a pastor," Scott McConnell, director of LifeWay Research, said in a statement on the organization's website. "Yet many churches are actively engaged in proclaiming spiritual salvation at the same time they are being environmentally conscious and engaged in creation care." more >>
As tornado season begins in the United States, a major Christian humanitarian organization is providing families with a downloadable guide about disaster preparation.
Operation Blessing International announced Monday that they would be providing a free booklet known as the "7-Day Family Disaster Planning Guide."
"Historically, March marks the beginning of the peak tornado season in the USA. However, due to much colder temperatures than normal this winter, there were only 17 tornadoes in the month of March, the lowest in 35 years," says OBI. more >>