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‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ is not only the Second Great Commandment as cited by Jesus Christ in the New Testament, but it’s the mantra by which David Munson operates — both when he’s booking guests on his Dallas-Fort Worth-area TV show, as well when he advocates on behalf of remineralization to politicians.
“There’s a fight between good and evil going on in this world,” he says. “You can either be on the good side or the bad side. You can either be working to make the world a better place, or you could be pulling it down and mining it and just living for immediate pleasure.”
As for his digital program (available on YouTube), Munson’s Christian faith has him interviewing people who through their good works and charity strive to contribute to a better world for all. When it comes to his passion for remineralization, Munson says, it too falls under the neighborly love theme, because people need healthy, abundant food, and they need a clean environment, which rock dust can help achieve by promoting soil carbon sequestration.
“It solves the rising carbon dioxide problem as it solves the soil depletion problem. By increasing the ability of soil to soak up water and air, pollution is minimized as is soil runoff. My goal is to promote soil remineralization and soil revitalization to solve the carbon dioxide crisis and to ensure humanity doesn’t starve to death in a few decades.”
Munson first became aware of remineralization after his family bought a commercial ranch in the 1980s along the Red River in northeastern Texas.
He says: “It had a mixture of river bottom soil, which was fertile, and native upland soils that were depleted, demineralized and infertile. I saw how important soil is to productivity, going from soil that would grow huge, abundant crops to depleted lands with very little topsoil and infertile subsoil that basically grew almost nothing.”
A mechanical engineer by trade, Munson started studying soil fertility and remineralization, applying concentrated rock dust like limestone and dolomite and other rocks, based on soil tests of what nutrients his soils were lacking.
“We boosted our production dramatically by balancing soil nutrients and trace elements in the soil on the ranch,” he said, adding basalt rock also carries some unique, beneficial remineralization qualities that are almost intangible. “I think one of the reasons people have seen big increases by using basalt rock dust in remineralizing soils is magnetism.
“Magnetism is kind of an unusual force that works in the world, and we don’t really understand all the ways life interacts with magnetism. But we know with these soils that when they’re high in paramagnetic qualities and have a mild magnetic attraction, they grow some of the best foods, and basalt is high in paramagnetism.”
A different kind of environmentalist
While passionate about soil and environmental issues, Munson might not be what everyone would consider as a ‘typical environmentalist.’ He is, after all, co-owner of some partially-developed natural gas reserves, and he believes development of natural gas as a cleaner, lower-emissions hydrocarbon alternative to coal is vital to combating climate change while also ensuring stable, plentiful and independent access to energy for the United States.
Unlike coal, he notes, natural gas-fired power plants easily can be turned on and off to accommodate renewables such as wind and solar, which only provide electricity when the wind actually blows or the sun is shining.
As for combating climate change, Munson clearly sees remineralization as the preferred method. He has decided to devote substantial energy to supporting Remineralize the Earth, both in terms of raising money and advocacy.
“I’ve reached out to other people to donate, I’ve donated myself, and I’m working hard to build more support for the organization,” he says, noting he has also spoken with politicians, including recently meeting with the staff of Sen. Ted Cruz to discuss remineralization options. “I have had meetings with several congressmen about remineralization, trying to build support through legislation in the future. We’ll see what I can accomplish.”
He added: “People want to protect the soil and save the soil, and I think it’s possible to change the dialogue. Even for people who are not as convinced that global warming is as big a threat, it’s still a risk.”
Making the world a better place
Remineralization is an important part of Munson’s Christian mission, and he has discussed the topic repeatedly on his regular broadcast, as well as with the politicians, farmers and everyday people with whom he comes in contact.
“I’m speaking with people I meet with about [remineralization], and I’m trying to work with some landowners in the North Texas area to do trial plots,” he says. “I have one man doing a very small–scale rock dust plot, and I want to work with some commercial farmers to do trial applications to their fields of significant size. I’m trying to raise money and gather donations for the cause.”
The Texas philanthropist hopes others will join him in reaching out to their legislators to advocate on behalf of rock dust, as well as financially supporting the cause by donating to such groups as RTE.
“We desperately need broad-based support,” he says, adding the remineralization cause desperately needs people to share information and build awareness on rock dust’s potential as a tool for soil carbon sequestration that helps produce abundant, nutritious crops in the process.
“This is a very positive message about empowering people to grow more food and do more things.”
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Millions of Californians were denied electrical power and thus air conditioning during a heatwave, raising the risk of heatstroke and death, particularly among the elderly and sick.
The blackouts come at a time when people, particularly the elderly, are forced to remain indoors due to Covid-19.
At first, the state’s electrical grid operator last night asked customers to voluntarily reduce electricity use. But after power reserves fell to dangerous levels it declared a “Stage 3 emergency” cutting off power to people across the state at 6:30 pm.
The immediate reason for the black-outs was the failure of a 500-megawatt power plant and an out-of-service 750-megawatt unit not being available. “There is nothing nefarious going on here,” said a spokeswoman for California Independent System Operator (CAISO). “We are just trying to run the grid.”
But the underlying reasons that California is experiencing rolling black-outs for the second time in less than a year stem from the state’s climate policies, which California policymakers have justified as necessary to prevent deaths from heatwaves.
In October, Pacific Gas and Electric cut off power to homes across California to avoid starting forest fires. The utility and California’s leaders had over the previous decade diverted billions meant for grid maintenance to renewables.
And yesterday, California had to impose rolling blackouts because it had failed to maintain sufficient reliable power from natural gas and nuclear plants, or pay in advance for enough guaranteed electricity imports from other states.
It may be that California’s utilities and their regulator, the California Public Utilities Commission, which is also controlled by Gov. Newsom, didn’t want to spend the extra money to guarantee the additional electricity out of fears of raising California’s electricity prices even more than they had already raised them.
California saw its electricity prices rise six times more than the rest of the United States from 2011 to 2019, due to its huge expansion of renewables. Republicans in the U.S. Congress point to that massive increase to challenge justifications by Democrats to spend $2 trillion on renewables in the name of climate change.
Even though the cost of solar panels declined dramatically between 2011 and 2019, their unreliable and weather-dependent nature meant that they imposed large new costs in the form of storage and transmission to keep electricity as reliable. California’s solar panels and farms were all turning off as the blackouts began, with no help available from the states to the East already in nightfall.
Electricity from solar goes away at the very moment when the demand for electricity rises. “The peak demand was steady in late hours,” said the spokesperson for CAISO, which is controlled by Gov. Gavin Newsom, “and we had thousands of megawatts of solar reducing their output as the sunset.”
The two blackouts in less than a year are strong evidence that the tens of billions that Californians have spent on renewables come with high human, economic, and environmental costs.
Last December, a report by done for PG&E concludedthat the utility’s customers could see blackouts double over the next 15 years and quadruple over the next 30.
California’s anti-nuclear policies also contributed to the blackouts. In 2013, Gov. Jerry Brown forced a nuclear power plant, San Onofre, in southern California to close.
Had San Onofre still been operating, there almost certainly would not have been blackouts on Friday as the reserve margin would have been significantly larger. The capacity of San Onofre was double that of the lost generation capacity that triggered the blackout.
California’s current and former large nuclear plants are located on the coast, which allows for their electricity to travel shorter distances, and through less-constrained transmission lines than the state’s industrial solar farms, to get to the coastal cities where electricity is in highest demand.
There has been very little electricity from wind during the summer heatwave in California and the broader western U.S., further driving up demand. In fact, the same weather pattern, a stable high-pressure bubble, is the cause of heatwaves, since it brought very low wind for days on end along with very high temperatures.
Things won’t be any better, and may be worse, in the winter, which produces far less solar electricity than the summer. Solar plus storage, an expensive attempt to fix problems like what led to this blackout, cannot help through long winters of low output.
California’s electricity prices will continue to rise if it continues to add more renewables to its grid, and goes forward with plans to shut down its last nuclear plant, Diablo Canyon, in 2025.
Had California spent an estimated $100 billion on nuclear instead of on wind and solar, it would have had enough energy to replace all fossil fuels in its in-state electricity mix.
To manage the increasingly unreliable grid, California will either need to keep its nuclear plant operating, build more natural gas plants, or pay ever more money annually to reserve emergency electricity supplies from its neighbors.
After the blackouts last October, Gov. Newsom attacked PG&E Corp. for “greed and mismanagement” and named a top aide, Ana Matosantos, to be his “energy czar.”
“This is not the new normal, and this does not take 10 years to solve,” Newsom said. “The entire system needs to be reimagined.”