Peach Clubhouse Flashletter

1- Letter from the Benicia arm of our Peach Clubhouse.
2- And then stay tuned below the letter and commentary is my answer to Ellen’s question about technical reports that claim “safe levels.” Of course you know EVERYTHING can be harmful if it upsets the balance of your body or of the ecosystem. What is safe?

Howdy readers: As life proceeds, I find that I cannot make a Peach Clubhouse Newsletter every month and do justice to the background information that is the core of the Peach Clubhouse Newsletter. So I have switched to every other month. Next is due first of July or thereafter. However, there are times when it seems important to publish some short bit of news, and today is one of those times, so see below.

I want also to say that nobody is required to live a lifestyle of “fixing” things. In fact, there are strong arguments for just loving life, as one person said “right down to the last molecule” — and not fixing. Most of the modern human ills arise from human fixing. All that is required of us in life is to appreciate what we have been given, which is – life – and not to cause harm or suffering, if we can avoid it. However, if you are not a fixer, please do not be an excuser or a blamer because it interferes with the work of those who are trying to help, and some people just can’t stop trying to help.

If you are a fixer PLEASE be very careful of what you fix and whom you believe in this modern world. Most people mean well, but we must remember that it is what we do that makes up our collective future, not our intention. That’s why we are responsible to act on good information and consider the long-term results of what we do. I would say that the good intentions of many or most fixers are now being manipulated by our culture into harmful channels of behavior.

James Hansen is not. He is one of our entirely credible witnesses on the subject of climate change. This I know. President Obama, I believe, is doing as well as can be expected in the clutches of the corposystem, and better than most, but he does make excuses. Blaming Canada for our plan to build a pipeline to Texas is one of the worst excuses I have ever heard. High-school level. No. Actually grammar school. Well, you who have children and grandchildren know better than I.


1 – Global Warming is not a Prediction (Also it is not a theory).

TO: Loved Ones All,
You’ve heard my concerns before about what we humans are doing to the Earth ecosystem.
Here I go again.
This recent article by James Hansen is plain and simple.
I think he is a credible witness, and we can well afford to pay attention to what he says.
FROM: Larry, Dad, Poppy, Grandpa, etc.

May 9, 2012
Game Over for the Climate
GLOBAL warming isn’t a prediction. It is happening. That is why I was so troubled to read a recent interview with President Obama in Rolling Stone in which he said that Canada would exploit the oil in its vast tar sands reserves “regardless of what we do.”

If Canada proceeds, and we do nothing, it will be game over for the climate.

Canada’s tar sands, deposits of sand saturated with bitumen, contain twice the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by global oil use in our entire history. If we were to fully exploit this new oil source, and continue to burn our conventional oil, gas and coal supplies, concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere eventually would reach levels higher than in the Pliocene era, more than 2.5 million years ago, when sea level was at least 50 feet higher than it is now. That level of heat-trapping gases would assure that the disintegration of the ice sheets would accelerate out of control. Sea levels would rise and destroy coastal cities. Global temperatures would become intolerable. Twenty to 50 percent of the planet’s species would be driven to extinction. Civilization would be at risk.

That is the long-term outlook. But near-term, things will be bad enough. Over the next several decades, the Western United States and the semi-arid region from North Dakota to Texas will develop semi-permanent drought, with rain, when it does come, occurring in extreme events with heavy flooding. Economic losses would be incalculable. More and more of the Midwest would be a dust bowl. California’s Central Valley could no longer be irrigated. Food prices would rise to unprecedented levels.

If this sounds apocalyptic, it is. This is why we need to reduce emissions dramatically. President Obama has the power not only to deny tar sands oil additional access to Gulf Coast refining, which Canada desires in part for export markets, but also to encourage economic incentives to leave tar sands and other dirty fuels in the ground.

The global warming signal is now louder than the noise of random weather, as I predicted would happen by now in the journal Science in 1981. Extremely hot summers have increased noticeably. We can say with high confidence that the recent heat waves in Texas and Russia, and the one in Europe in 2003, which killed tens of thousands, were not natural events – they were caused by human-induced climate change.

We have known since the 1800s that carbon dioxide traps heat in the atmosphere. The right amount keeps the climate conducive to human life. But add too much, as we are doing now, and temperatures will inevitably rise too high. This is not the result of natural variability, as some argue. The earth is currently in the part of its long-term orbit cycle where temperatures would normally be cooling. But they are rising – and it’s because we are forcing them higher with fossil fuel emissions.

The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has risen from 280 parts per million to 393 p.p.m. over the last 150 years. The tar sands contain enough carbon – 240 gigatons – to add 120 p.p.m. Tar shale, a close cousin of tar sands found mainly in the United States, contains at least an additional 300 gigatons of carbon. If we turn to these dirtiest of fuels, instead of finding ways to phase out our addiction to fossil fuels, there is no hope of keeping carbon concentrations below 500 p.p.m. – a level that would, as earth’s history shows, leave our children a climate system that is out of their control.

We need to start reducing emissions significantly, not create new ways to increase them. We should impose a gradually rising carbon fee, collected from fossil fuel companies, then distribute 100 percent of the collections to all Americans on a per-capita basis every month. The government would not get a penny. This market-based approach would stimulate innovation, jobs and economic growth, avoid enlarging government or having it pick winners or losers. Most Americans, except the heaviest energy users, would get more back than they paid in increased prices. Not only that, the reduction in oil use resulting from the carbon price would be nearly six times as great as the oil supply from the proposed pipeline from Canada, rendering the pipeline superfluous, according to economic models driven by a slowly rising carbon price.

But instead of placing a rising fee on carbon emissions to make fossil fuels pay their true costs, leveling the energy playing field, the world’s governments are forcing the public to subsidize fossil fuels with hundreds of billions of dollars per year. This encourages a frantic stampede to extract every fossil fuel through mountaintop removal, longwall mining, hydraulic fracturing, tar sands and tar shale extraction, and deep ocean and Arctic drilling.

President Obama speaks of a “planet in peril,” but he does not provide the leadership needed to change the world’s course. Our leaders must speak candidly to the public – which yearns for open, honest discussion – explaining that our continued technological leadership and economic well-being demand a reasoned change of our energy course. History has shown that the American public can rise to the challenge, but leadership is essential.

The science of the situation is clear – it’s time for the politics to follow. This is a plan that can unify conservatives and liberals, environmentalists and business. Every major national science academy in the world has reported that global warming is real, caused mostly by humans, and requires urgent action. The cost of acting goes far higher the longer we wait – we can’t wait any longer to avoid the worst and be judged immoral by coming generations.
James Hansen directs the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and is the author of “Storms of My Grandchildren.”


2 – From Janis and Ellen
The question was how to evaluate technical reports that claim levels of exposure are safe. Here is my answer. Most of these difficult questions come from believing false premises. The false premise of the entire corposystem is that growth is good. Not true – balance is good. The primary false premise of most technical evaluations is that nothing else is happening except what they are measuring. If they say, for example, that the level of carbon dioxide, or gas emissions, or pollution of our waters is “safe” – well, the short answer is they don’t know. Why they don’t know? They are assuming that nothing else is going on in the same space (let’s say the Brazos Valley), and the fact is that everything is going on at the same time in the ecosystem. The second false assumption is that they do not give a time frame. If you do this for a week it is OK? If you do it for a year, does the exposure go away or does it stay until it is no longer a safe level? No it does not go away. Everything that happens in the ecosystem stays in the ecosystem.

This, my dear friends, has already happened both in the Brazos Valley and in the world. There is no longer ANY safe level of adding foreign chemicals to our environment. If there were, I would not have been forced out of my home. And do not be confused by the term “natural,” that the corposystem applies to unsafe chemicals. Natural means, really, anything that exists on earth. When I say foreign, I refer to substances that were manipulated by humans and therefore have the potential (whether or not we understand it) to unbalance the ecosystem that has evolved as a healthy life form. Just as these fracking chemicals added to your water might not kill you, just as the sick air might not kill the children, that does not mean we are healthy. I am still taking antihistamines from time to time to counteract the symptoms – not of any illness, but of pollution. I never saw asthma among my childhood playmates. You see the cycle. The corposystem does something they may honestly believe is helpful; a) first destroying the earth to get energy; b) this reduces the available clean water and food; c) and then we treat the human symptoms that result from the destruction and claim there are technologies to deal with food production. We fixers must be very careful not to “fix” in that way, without at the same time reducing the root cause of the cycle. There is no debate about how much is safe. If you want to be healthy do not expose yourself to ANY foreign substances (and of course many natural substances are poisonous as well). The third false assumption that I find in every level of human endeavor, even sometimes in basic science (and always of course in technology) is that we humans know how to fix (anything). We do not, and what I see from this article below is the obvious result of acting as though we do by making assumptions based in human data without regard to the fact that we do NOT know what is going on underground and we have made no effort to find out before messing up the reality.

At the root of this spiral of suffering is overpopulation of humans on this earth. This too, is a fact, not an opinion or a hypothesis. To deny this fact does not solve the problem, even as we compassionately try to treat the symptoms. The earth cannot grow. That is the relevant fact.

The challenge we face is to fix our overpopulation problem without causing more suffering piled on top of all the other causes of suffering. Nothing goes away in the ecosystem. To fix any problem we must recognize and deal with the cause, or the symptoms will simply pile higher and deeper. If you are not a fixer, do not moan and groan and blame – appreciate what you have been given. If you are a fixer do not moan and groan and blame – but do not make it worse by treating the symptoms while ignoring the root cause. It is not possible for humans to “fix” the ecosystem. It was already incredible before we arrived. What we CAN do is to let the ecosystem fix itself by not behaving in ways that unbalance it.

Below is one of the references from Janis that generated the above teaching.
Check for a summary of publications being collected at

New Study Predicts Frack Fluids Can Migrate to Aquifers Within Years
Published on Wednesday, May 2, 2012 by ProPublica

by Abrahm Lustgarten, ProPublica

A new study has raised fresh concerns about the safety of gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale, concluding that fracking chemicals injected into the ground could migrate toward drinking water supplies far more quickly than experts have previously predicted.

More than 5,000 wells were drilled in the Marcellus between mid-2009 and mid-2010, according to the study, which was published in the journal Ground Water two weeks ago. Operators inject up to 4 million gallons of fluid, under more than 10,000 pounds of pressure, to drill and frack each well.

Scientists have theorized that impermeable layers of rock would keep the fluid, which contains benzene and other dangerous chemicals, safely locked nearly a mile below water supplies. This view of the earth’s underground geology is a cornerstone of the industry’s argument that fracking poses minimal threats to the environment. But the study, using computer modeling, concluded that natural faults and fractures in the Marcellus, exacerbated by the effects of fracking itself, could allow chemicals to reach the surface in as little as “just a few years.”

“Simply put, [the rock layers] are not impermeable,” said the study’s author, Tom Myers, an independent hydrogeologist whose clients include the federal government and environmental groups. (of course they are not impermeable, and there are things living down there – anyone should know that before assuming otherwise – LL) “The Marcellus shale is being fracked into a very high permeability,” he said. “Fluids could move from most any injection process.”

The research for the study was paid for by Catskill Mountainkeeper and the Park Foundation, two upstate New York organizations that have opposed gas drilling and fracking in the Marcellus.
Much of the debate about the environmental risks of gas drilling has centered on the risk that spills could pollute surface water or that structural failures would cause wells to leak. Though some scientists believed it was possible for fracking to contaminate underground water supplies, those risks have been considered secondary. The study in Ground Water is the first peer-reviewed research evaluating this possibility. The study did not use sampling or case histories to assess contamination risks. Rather, it used software and computer modeling to predict how fracking fluids would move over time. The simulations sought to account for the natural fractures and faults in the underground rock formations and the effects of fracking.

The models predict that fracking will dramatically speed up the movement of chemicals injected into the ground. Fluids traveled distances within 100 years that would take tens of thousands of years under natural conditions. And when the models factored in the Marcellus’ natural faults and fractures, fluids could move 10 times as fast as that.
Where man-made fractures intersect with natural faults, or break out of the Marcellus layer into the stone layer above it, the study found, “contaminants could reach the surface areas in tens of years, or less.” The study also concluded that the force that fracking exerts does not immediately let up when the process ends. It can take nearly a year to ease. As a result, chemicals left underground are still being pushed away from the drill site long after drilling is finished. It can take five or six years before the natural balance of pressure in the underground system is fully restored, the study found.

Myers’ research focused exclusively on the Marcellus, but he said his findings may have broader relevance. Many regions where oil and gas is being drilled have more permeable underground environments than the one he analyzed, he said.

“One would have to say that the possible travel times for a similar thing in Arkansas or Northeast Texas is probably faster than what I’ve come up with,” Myers said.

Ground Water is the journal of the National Ground Water Association, a non-profit group that represents scientists, engineers and businesses in the groundwater industry. Several scientists called Myers’ approach unsophisticated and said that the assumptions he used for his models didn’t reflect what they knew about the geology of the Marcellus Shale. If fluids could flow as quickly as Myers asserts, said Terry Engelder, a professor of geosciences at Penn State University who has been a proponent of shale development, fracking wouldn’t be necessary to open up the gas deposits.

“This would be a huge fracture porosity,” Engelder said. “So I read this and I say, ‘Golly, does this guy really understand anything about what these shales look like?’ The concern then arises from using a model rather than observations.”

Myers likened the shale to a cracked window, saying that samples showing it didn’t contain fractures were small in size and were akin to only examining an intact section of glass, while a broader, scaled out view would capture the faults and fractures that could leak. Both scientists agreed that direct evidence of fluid migration is needed, but little sampling has been done to analyze where fracking fluids go after being injected underground. Myers says monitoring systems could be installed around gas well sites to measure for changes in water quality, a measure required for some gold mines, for example. Until that happens, Myers said, theoretical modeling has to substitute for hard data.
“We were trying to use the basic concepts of groundwater and hydrology and geology and say can this happen?” he said. “And that had basically never been done.” © 2012 ProPublica

Comment by Glenn, regarding his method for fixing (Oh, oops, words are important the definition of carbon fixation would be in this case to get the carbon dioxide out of the air and converted into proteins in the bodies of living things) excess carbon and other compounds in the living earth: “I am very encouraged. It’s not just what we are emitting or will emit, but what has already been emitted that is already damaging and will escalate due to warming that is built-in, unless a lot of atmospheric carbon finds a new home as life in and on the earth.” Because the carbon cycle is well understood, this kind of work it can reasonably be expected to be helpful; this is NOT similar to the fracking technology which any biologist could reasonably expect to be harmful, and nobody should do because the relevant information is unknown.


My search for a smog-free environment-

It aint Santa Fe, that is already apparent, although I am not actually sick from pollution here, and that is a huge relief. But I don’t expect it will get better over the next ten years.

If you thought Texans were polite, I told you already about the lady who moved her car so Bitsy could park in the shade. Yesterday a woman pulled out a little too far on a difficult corner, so I stopped to wait for her to get organized, then we both moved into the traffic stream and when I came alongside she rolled down her window and apologized. There are all kinds of environment, but the one that makes us sick is the one tells us to move on as soon as our lease is up. Where should I try next?