January 3, 2013

Teslas Everywhere

I was driving through town today and saw three Tesla Ss. I was thinking "Wow, I saw three Teslas on one trip" when a white Tesla S passed me.

Jeeze, really beautiful car. All electric.

model-s-sigred-front3qtr_960x640_0.jpg

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:55 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

November 15, 2012

Trying To Warn People

Just sayin' ... you should listen to Dave.

2007: Today's Housing Bubble Post - Coastal Real Estate Prices,

People still buy real estate that will be underwater in a few decades. Think about that.

... Think about what will happen to real estate prices in coastal areas when we do start taking global warming seriously. How much will people pay for real estate that is going to be under water in a few decades?

2010: Real Estate Near The Gulf,

I was already concerned with the effect of global warming on real estate prices when it suddenly sinks in that a lot of land is going to be underwater. Seriously, would YOU buy a house anywhere in a coastal area that has an altitude lower than maybe 30 feet? One of these days everyone is going to realize what that means - all at the same time.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:21 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

November 6, 2012

Watching Fox

Every third ad seems to be from oil and coal "energy" associations.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:15 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

November 2, 2012

A Fascinating Look At Hurricane Sandy

Wow, watch this! A big-picture look at Sandy, what made it so big, and what it means:

Owen Kelley, a research scientist at NASA Goddard, works with data from the TRMM satellite to image the insides of storms. TRMM looked into the eye of Sandy the day before it made landfall and saw something surprising. Satellites also took snapshots of Sandy. J. Marshall Shepherd, president-elect of the American Meteorological Society and the director of the Atmospheric Sciences Program at the University of Georgia, explains some of Sandy's unusual features.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:10 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

MUST See - Not Funny Mitt

Mitt Romney made jokes about global warming. Now we really know they were not funny.

See Forecast the Facts | Tell Mitt Romney: Climate Change Isn't A Joke

Much of the nation is reeling from Superstorm Sandy. As families rebuild from Sandy’s destruction, our thoughts are with the victims of this horrific, fossil-fueled storm.

When Gov. Mitt Romney made climate change a punch line at the Republican National Convention, he mocked a real threat to the lives of Americans.

We can't let Mitt get away with his laughing dismissal of the threat of rising seas caused by the carbon polluters who fund his campaign. Share this ad with friends and family to tell Romney: climate change isn't a joke.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:24 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos

October 31, 2012

Real Estate Idea

How about everyone who understands what climate change is sell their coastal property to people who believe it is a hoax! You can still get good prices ...

... and maybe the oil companies will even subsidize their purchases!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:42 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

October 30, 2012

Is Hurricane Sandy God's Punishment For Ignoring Global Warming In Debates?

Conservatives and the Christian Right regularly blame hurricanes on abortion, liberals, government and "teh gay." But Hurricane Sandy actually is an "unprecedented." This "Frankenstorm," with a gale-force wind diameter of 1040 miles, is the largest hurricane in Atlantic history, with the lowest barometric pressure. So we really should ask the question: is Hurricane Sandy actually God's punishment for not bringing up climate change in the presidential debates?

RWNJs

Here are just a few samples of what a few of the many right-wing nut jobs (RWNJs) ("the base") have had to say about hurricanes:

Michelle Bachman said that Hurricane Irene was God's punishment for our having a government that provides services to our people, (seriously, she said it):

"I don't know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We've had an earthquake; we've had a hurricane. He said, 'Are you going to start listening to me here?' Listen to the American people because the American people are roaring right now. They know government is on a morbid obesity diet and we've got to rein in the spending."

The Rev. Pat Robertson told us that Hurricane Katrina was God's retribution for legalized abortion.

The Pope made Gerhard Wagner a bishop after he blamed Hurricane Katrina on teh gay.

Another Unprecedented Storm

So here we have another "freak," "once in a hundred years," "unprecedented," "no one has seen this before" storms that we are experiencing all the time now.

The Washington Post the other day, Hurricane Sandy may be unprecedented in East Coast storm history,

With computer models locked in on the eventuality of a punishing blow for East Coast from Hurricane Sandy (with the latest model runs favoring the northern mid-Atlantic), analyses suggest this storm may be unlike anything the region has ever experienced.

Etc. Please read Climate Progress, CNN Bans Term ‘Frankenstorm’, But It’s A Good Metaphor For Warming-Driven Monster: ‘Largest Hurricane In Atlantic History’.

Why Attribute Hurricane Sandy To Global Warming?

The term "climate change" is used to refer to the fact that the ... uh ...climate is ... uh ... changing. This is a result of the warming of the atmosphere that results from putting massive amounts of CO2 into the air, primarily by burning coal and oil as an energy source. The CO2 acts like a layer of glass to trap heat in the atmosphere that would previously have bounced off the earth and into space. This trapping effect acts just like the way the glass in a greenhouse traps heat inside. This is why CO2 is called "greenhouse gas."

The trapped heat eventually changes the patterns of the weather, and melts ice that then causes the oceans levels to rise. This change in weather patterns is what we are beginning -- just beginning -- to experience. Flood, massive "freak storms, terrible heat waves that go on and on with higher temperatures, increased severity of hurricanes, droughts, huge regional fires, and all the rest of the "weird weather" people are talking about...

The scientifically predicted changes in the climate include:

Severity: The increased heat from global warming puts more energy into storms, so they are stronger.

Rain and snowfall: Storms, including hurricanes, will be loaded with extra moisture, so higher rainfall will make flooding more frequent and worse.

Rising seas: melting ice slowly increases sea levels, so storm surges, etc., will be worse.

The Campaign Mostly Silent On Climate Change

Climate change was not much of an issue in the Presidential debates, except in the extent to which the candidates promoted more drilling for oil and more mining of coal, hence increasing the problem. In the first debate Mitt Romney actually mocked people who are warning about climate change and sea-level rise, and criticized President Obama for investing $90 billion in wind and solar -- and just lied, saying that half of the investments had gone bankrupt.

However, in an interview on MTV President Obama was asked about climate change, and said (TPM),

"We're not moving as fast as we need to," Obama said. "This is an issue that future generations, MTV viewers, are going to have to be dealing with even more than the older generation is. So this is a critical issue -- and there's a huge contrast in this campaign between myself and Governor Romney. I'm surprised it didn't come up in the debates."

Obama said Romney "says he believes in climate change....but he says he's not sure that man-made causes are the reason" As for his own views, "I believe scientists who say we're putting too much carbon emissions into the atmosphere and it's heating the planet and its going to have a severe effect."

Possibly related: NY Times, Fossil Fuel Industry Ads Dominate TV Campaign,

The American Petroleum Institute, backed by the nation’s largest oil and gas companies, is the top energy spender this year with its “I’m an energy voter” campaign. Although the ads avoid explicitly endorsing any candidate, they clearly echo policy stands taken by Mr. Romney and the Republicans: opposing regulations that might slow down drilling and denouncing Mr. Obama’s proposal to eliminate oil industry subsidies.

The Terrifying Math Of Global Warming

Here is the climate problem in a nutshell. As Bill McKibben explained in Global Warming's Terrifying New Math:

1) We have to try to hold warming to 2 degrees Celsius, we're at .8 of that now with huge storms, drought, floods and all kinds of effects. It gets dramatically worse from here - heading towards crop failure, famine, running out of water, rising seas, mass extinctions ...

2) To hold at 2 degrees we can put no more than 565 gigatons CO2 into atmosphere.

3) Current proven coal, oil and gas reserves is 2,795 gigatons even if we discover no more. That is 5 times what we can burn and stay at 2 degrees. But that is worth $20 trillion in oil company assets, they will fight to the death to be able to burn that carbon.

God's Punishment

No matter what you consider "God" to mean, clearly this "unprecedented" hurricane, arriving just before the election is a signal to all of us that we must stop ignoring this problem. Things might be "unprecedented" now, but are projected to get much, much worse.

Here is Grist's David Roberts explaining that "Climate change is simple: We do something or we’re screwed,"

Please click through to see the accompanying slide show.

Also, Democracy Now: Bill McKibben on Hurricane Sandy and Climate Change: "If There Was Ever a Wake-up Call, This Is It"

"The last time we saw anything like this was never."

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

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Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:27 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

August 27, 2012

Balance?

What kind of an idiot would put this in a story about Arctic ice melting due to climate change?

"The melting does, however, offer some potential benefits, including new shipping routes and easier access to oil and other mineral deposits. "

From Sea Ice in Arctic Measured at Record Low - NYTimes.com

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:39 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

August 25, 2012

Why Conservative Attacks On Wind And Solar Energy?

There has been a recent flurry of propaganda attacks on wind and solar energy by oil-and-coal-backed conservatives. A vitally important tax credit to help build a renewable energy industry in this country expires at the end of this year without Congressional action, and the old oil and coal industries -- along with certain other countries -- want to make sure it does expire.

Background

The fossil-fuel industry is fully developed after many decades of government help. Going up against a fully-developed industry like oil and coal is enormously expensive, and the industry is trying to block We, the People from triggering private investment to help get us out from under its grip. It has nothing to do with government interfering in markets, or "picking winners and losers," this is about us helping offset the enormous competitive advantage oil and coal have due to government investment and assistance in oil and coal in prior decades. We do this because We, the People see the benefits and prosperity that will come to us from developing these alternative energy industries.

Oil and coal are, to put it mildly, entrenched in our economy, and, to put it mildly, make out very, very well because of that. Various forms of government assistance put them there and keeps them there. Aside from direct help like the tax breaks to the companies themselves and keeping taxes low at the pump (compare the cost of gas here to other countries), there are support structures like the cost of the vast military complex that keeps the oil flowing, building roads instead of rail, etc., and then of course there's the cost to us of that whole "let them dump their waste products into the environment for free" thing.

As a result vast ecosystem supporting the oil and coal industries has been built up over the decades. Delivery systems like pipelines, rail lines, gas stations, etc. are examples of this ecosystem that supports the fossil-fuel industry. Existing refineries were enormously expensive to build. So this industry now rests on decades of capital investment. The investment paid off, provided a vast return, and now offers a competitive advantage over other, newer forms of energy. A barrel of oil comes from the ground from an existing well, or a new well that benefited from decades of technological research and development, much of it helped along by government.

"Renewable" forms of energy do not yet have such an ecosystem. The manufacturing, power grid, etc. are all brand new technologies, that need the kind of investment that lets them build the supply chains, expertise and other things that get them to the trigger point where they can take off. This is enormously expensive to develop -- no matter how great the payoff will be. Countries like China get this, and are helping build those manufacturing ecosystems in their countries. Here, however, we have the entrenched political power of the super-wealthy oil and coal companies in the way, fighting tooth and nail to stop the development of this industry. (And, of course, countries like China have every incentive to do what it takes to keep us from developing this industry here.)

Why Tax Breaks?

Instead of just building up the ecosystem of an industry like alternative energy itself, our government helps trigger private investment by providing tax breaks that help overcome the competitive advantage that decades of investment has brought to established industries. Specifically, to help trigger investment in alternatives like solar and wind energy, our government gives tax credits to these industries so their product can compete now with energy products from oil and coal companies that have already made the huge capital investment (with government help) required to build their ecosystems.

Tax breaks help bring the price of a product down versus the product of an entrenched, developed industry, so new companies can grow and their supply chains and expertise and facilities can develop, until such time as they are far enough along to compete on their own. We, the People (government) do this when we feel it is to our benefit for an industry to develop here. We, the People (government) did this with aerospace, semiconductors, computers, biotech and other modern industries. These are examples of how we can trigger this effect, and then prosper because we did.

When We, the People decide that we will benefit from helping a new industry develop, then yes, We, the People pick a winner, because it benefits us and we prosper as a result.

We, the People (government) did this with these tax breaks for alternative energy. Now the entrenched interests are pulling out all the stops to try to get rid of those tax breaks before the alternative energy industry takes off here. They call it "picking winners and losers" and say it is "interfering with the market" when in fact the oil and coal ecosystem currently is "the winner" because of decades of various forms of government assistance. We, the People (government) assisted those industries because at the time we wanted to grow our economy, and now we want to assist alternatives like solar and wind, because being chained to oil and coal is holding us back and harming the environment. This is supposed to be about what We, the People benefit from, not an entrenched, wealthy few and the power they have to influence and control government decision-making.

US News offers some good background information: Wind Energy Tax Credit: More Hot Air or Key Job Creator?,

The federal renewable energy production tax credit (PTC) provides an income tax credit of 2.2 cents/kilowatt hour for the production of electricity from utility-scale wind turbines, and is set to expire on December 31, 2012.

... Without the tax credit, chances are that fewer turbines will be produced and installed. That could have devastating ripple effects on jobs, according to some experts. Last time the PTC was allowed to expire in 2004, installations of new wind turbines dropped as much as 93 percent, according to the American Wind Energy Association, throwing the industry into a perpetual boom-bust cycle that has stunted its growth.

... 37,000. That's the number of jobs the Obama administration says are at risk without the energy tax credits, not a small number considering millions of Americans remain unemployed.

Conservative Propaganda Attacks

Here are some examples of oil-and-coal-backed (and foreign-backed) conservatives using various forms of trickery to fight againt the development of an alternative-energy industry in the United States.

Heritage Foundation: Morning Bell: Wind Energy Subsidies Are As Useful As VHS Tape Subsidies,

The wind production tax credit is set to expire at the end of this year, which has the industry crying out for continued subsidies. ... The credit is a huge handout to wind producers, allowing them to sell their electricity for less than market price. ...

Wall Street Journal (note - this outlet is co-owned by a Saudi oil billionaire): The Energy Subsidy Tally,

The problem is that wind and solar still can't make a go of it without subsidies. Solyndra is merely the most famous of the solar-power failures. Earlier this month United Technologies sold its more than $300 million investment in wind power, with CFO Greg Hayes telling investors, according to press reports that: "We all make mistakes." He added that the market for renewables like wind "as everyone knows, is stagnating." Someone alert the White House.

... the coal, oil, and natural gas industries paid more than $10 billion of taxes in 2009. Wind and solar are net drains on the Treasury.

... Why not eliminate all federal energy subsidies? This would get the government out of the business of picking winners and losers—mostly losers.

(Note that companies like Solyndra have failed as the result of countries like China subsidizing the development of alternative-energy industries in their own countries.)

Breitbart.com: DEAR BIG WIND: IT'S NOT YOU, IT'S ME,

The industry’s taxpayer-funded subsidies are set to expire at the end of this year – and Congress shouldn’t reauthorize. Continuing to subsidize a non-profitable industry to the tune of another $1.6 billion would be throwing good money after bad.

...Meanwhile, other U.S. energy producers are competing in a market where the government has revealed a preference, allowing wind producers to take a 2.2-cent write-off for each kilowatt-hour they produce. But, neither Democrats nor Republicans want to remove the teat from which the wind industry gets its fix.

(Was that written by lobbyists, or just dictated by them?)

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

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Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:49 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos

August 23, 2012

Mitt Romney's Energy Plan In Pictures

Go see: Blogging Blue | Mitt Romney unveils energy plan

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:22 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

July 29, 2012

Climate Emergency - Please Watch

Hate to do this to you, but you need to know. David Roberts - Climate Change is Simple:


Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:24 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

July 26, 2012

Urgent, Must-See, Must Spread!

Please watch this, visit their page, and email this to everyone you know, including your right-wing brother-in-law: The Story of Change / The Story of Stuff Project:

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:07 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

July 24, 2012

You Thought It Was Gone?

Brilliant: We Quit You, Keystone XL (It's Not Us, It's You)

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:50 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

July 21, 2012

Crucial To Understand This

Everyone needs to understand this about climate change: Global Warming's Terrifying New Math by Bill McKibben

Summary:

1) We have to try to hold warming to 2 degrees Celsius, we're at .8 of that now with huge storms, drought, floods and all kinds of effects. It gets dramatically worse from here - crop failure, famine, running out of water, rising seas, mass extinctions ...

2) To hold at 2 degrees we can put no more than 565 gigatons CO2 into atmosphere.

3) Current proven coal, oil and gas reserves is 2,795 gigatons even if we discover no more. That is 5 times what we can burn and stay at 2 degrees. That is $20 trillion in oil company assets, they will fight to the death to be able to burn that carbon. If they do it is the death of billions of us, and the ecosystem.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:19 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

May 18, 2012

Will Conservatives Support American Companies ... Or Chinese?

Which is better for an economy: millions of future jobs and trillions of future dollars, or a few people making a quick buck today by selling out their country? For decades America's 1%-backed conservatives have chosen the latter course, and we can see the results all around us. Now the Obama administration has imposed stiff tariffs on Chinese solar panels because China was "dumping" -- selling below cost -- to drive American manufacturers out of business. Will conservatives support their country and our companies or will they continue to side with our country's competitors?

US Imposes Stiff Tariffs

The Commerce Department yesterday concluded that Chinese solar panel companies are “dumping” product – selling below the cost of production – into the US market, and imposed stiff tariffs. NY Times, U.S. Slaps High Tariffs on Chinese Solar Panels,

The United States on Thursday announced the imposition of antidumping tariffs of more than 31 percent on solar panels from China.

... The antidumping decision is among the biggest in American history, covering one of the largest and fastest-growing categories of imports from China, the world’s largest exporter.

Industry Of The Future

Again and again technology revolutions come along and disrupt economies. Countries that jump on new technologies are the countries that win the industries and jobs and revenue. This is how the United States became the world power that it is was. Railroads, steel, automobiles, airplanes, electronics, semiconductors, computers, the Internet, pharmaceuticals, biotech and software are a few examples. And in every case our government helped these new industries get off the ground. When these industries took root the payoff was enormous.

Green energy is one such technology of the future. Producing solar panels, wind turbines, etc. will bring millions and millions of jobs and trillions of dollars, and several countries are competing to win a share of this new industry.

China is fighting hard for those jobs and dollars. They are being smart and they are also pushing past the limits of the rules. From the NY Times story,

Alan Price, a partner who heads the international trade practice at Wiley Rein, the law firm representing the United States companies in both the solar and wind cases, said that China posed a particular threat to America’s developing green energy sector.

“China’s method is straightforward: it sets forth industry-specific Five-Year Plans and then uses all forms of national and local subsidies and other governmental support to quickly transfer jobs, supply chains, intellectual property and wealth, to the permanent detriment of U.S. and global manufacturers,” he said. “China’s ability to ramp up and overwhelm an industry is unique and particularly devastating with new and emerging technologies, where global competitors may be less established and can be knocked out more easily and quickly.”

To compete for a share of this new industry we need to be proactive. We need national efforts to develop the industrial commons, or ecosystem, that will foster green-tech industries. We also need government policies that promote a market for these products until they take hold, just as our defense industry did for aircraft and other new technologies. And we need to enforce the rules for international economic competition, which is what has happened with the tariff decision.

Decision Not Political

The NY Times story points out that this was not a political decision by the Obama administration,

The American decision was made by civil servants in a quasi-judicial process that is heavily insulated by law from political interference and does not represent a deliberate attempt by the Obama administration to confront China on trade policy. But that distinction has been largely lost in China, where the solar panel issue has been one of many causes embraced online by the country’s vociferous ultranationalists, who put heavy pressure on Chinese officials to respond forcefully to perceived snubs to China.

The rules say that if a country is dumping, then we must impost tariffs. The Commerce Department investigated and concluded that China has been dumping so they had no choice. If we do not enforce trade rules, they are meaningless and countries that cheat gain an advantage, driving out the honest players. That is how cheating, accountability and enforcement work. (Hint: this also applies to banking fraud laws.)

In the case of solar-panel tariffs, we were losing companies and jobs and facing losing the possibility of losing the entire industry to China. From Tariffs On Chinese Solar Might Help Prevent The Next Solyndra,

You have probably heard about a solar-energy company named Solyndra, but probably what you have heard is a bunch of negative, conspiratorial, anti-alternative-energy, anti-Obama stuff from the corporate/conservative spin machine. The real story is that our government is trying to help us capture some of the new green energy industry that will create the jobs of the future. But China is, too. And China doubled down, and then quadrupled down on government support. They even directly subsidize their companies so their products cost less. This helped put Solyndra out of business. But the Obama administration is doing something about it.

China cheats, and we don't usually do anything about it. They let companies pollute, don't do much about worker safety, pay low wages, and make people work long hours. So-called "free trade" lets companies cost us more than 50,000 factories in the Bush years, and millions of jobs. And it empowers companies here to tell their workers to shut up and behave and accept wage and benefit cuts, or they'll send their jobs to China, too. We continue to just let China take jobs, factories and industries because powerful interests, like Wall Street, make tons of money off of it.

So the decision is made, our country is engaging in the economic war that has been underway against us. Will our country's conservative take our country's side?

Solyndra, Chevy Volt And The Anti-Green Propaganda Campaign

Oil-backed conservatives have been waging a campaign to discredit green energy, trying to stop government efforts to move us away from dependence on oil and coal. (Please click the links.)

They have used the failure of solar-panel manufacturer Solyndra -- partly due to Chinese dumping -- to paint green tech in general as a bad investment. They have even tried to turn the public against the Chevy Volt, claiming that it "ran out of juice in the Lincoln Tunnel" when it actually just kicked over to the gas-engine charger, and that the car is "flammable" because on test battery got too hot -- as compared to cars that run on gasoline! (Gasoline car-fire data at the link.)

These anti-dumping tariffs change the dynamics of this oil-backed anti-green campaign. Now when conservatives slam Solyndra or the Chevy Volt and otherwise join in this anti-green-energy campaign they are taking China’s side against American companies at a time when the country is engaged in economic conflict. This presents a tough choice to the conservative movement, do they continue to accept oil and coal company funding and side against their country and support China, or will they return to their pro-American roots and side with their country in a time of conflict.

Installers Hit Hard?

Low prices from trade-cheaters are always attractive. But if we want a slice of the jobs, factories, industries and economy of the future we have to fight back when our competitors cheat.

The solar-installer industry is worried they will be hit hard by this because prices for solar panels could increase sharply. BusinessWeek: U.S. Solar Tariffs on Chinese Cells May Boost Prices,

The tariffs “will increase solar electricity prices in the U.S. precisely at the moment solar power is becoming competitive with fossil fuel generated electricity,” Shah said in a statement. “This new artificial tax will undermine the success of the U.S. solar industry.”

[. . .] The U.S. decision to impose import duties on Chinese solar panels will raise their price to $1.11 per watt, according to calculations by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, a London-based researcher owned by Bloomberg LP. That price is 17 percent higher than the current spot price of non-Chinese panels.

Forbes: Solar Installers Caught In Cross Fire Of Escalating China Trade War,

On Thursday, the U.S. Commerce Department issued a preliminary decision levying steep tariffs against Chinese solar manufacturers, finding they illegally dumped cheap photovoltaic cells on the American market. But the companies that install those solar panels on residential and commercial rooftops – and which have benefited from a 75% plunge in photovoltaic prices in recent years – are split over the impact of the tariffs on their burgeoning business.

The government could remedy the impact on domestic customers and installers several ways, including:

- by using the new tariffs to fund tax credits and other incentives that help homeowners and businesses make the move to solar power,

- by imposing a large "carbon tax" that is refunded on a per-capita basis. This would mean high users of carbon-based fuels would pay in, the revenue is divided up evenly to everyone over 21 and paid out with a monthly check, and people could use this money to both cover their own added energy expenses and to purchase solar and other alternative energy products to lower their carbon-energy footprint,

- and by setting a national renewable energy standard, requiring power producers to use a certain percentage of solar, wind and other alternatives, creating more of a market for green tech.

Oil And Coal And "Buggy-Whip" Technologies

Of course the oil and coal companies will continue to fight this shift from their "buggy-whip" technology, and will use their tremendous influence over our government to try to hold off the inevitable. But the tide is shifting. The fact that China is fighting so hard and putting so much investment into this sector shows its value to the world economy in the future. The fact that our government is responding shows that we have a chance to win a share of the jobs and revenue that green tech promises to bring.

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

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Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:47 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

May 11, 2012

Have You Actually Watched Carter's "Malaise" Speech?

Here it is, well worth watching! STILL profound, important, prescient. And startling in the context of what we know today about the corporate right's assault on democracy.

The first part is about the mistrust of government and each other that had started taking hold, the rest is about energy, conservation, and the effect on our economy.

As you watch it, keep in mind that the right's "noise machine" (partly funded by oil companies) had already been operating behind the scenes for several years, already spending tens of millions a year on the effort. Back then nothing like that had been encountered from inside the country (at least since the lead-up to the civil war) - the smear machine, the propaganda, the mass repetition of carefully crafted anti-government and in-it-for-yourself messaging, etc. - so people were just blindsided by it. But it was clear something was happening, and Carter called it a a "fundamental threat to American democracy".

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:15 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

April 21, 2012

My Own Big Climate Concern Is Crop Failure

Obviously we are experiencing big changes in the climate. And obviously the oil companies have a lock on the government, so nothing is going to be done about it.

Here is my concern: when will we see the first big crop failure? I mean really big, like big enough that there is not enough food, even in the "1st world," and a resulting panic, huge price increases, possible war...

My wife and I have a vegetable garden (and a garden blog.) We can really, really see the changes that are happening. Tomatoes in December? Broccoli growing at all the wrong times? Things that always do great not growing?

Every gardener is noticing that things are changing.

So I fear that a big crop failure or similar disaster is coming, before people actually start doing something about the CO2 emissions -- and of course it's pretty close to too late already.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:44 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

April 18, 2012

Climate: Connect The Dots:

Go see the Climate/Weather Infographic | Connect the Dots

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:54 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Did You Know An Oil Prince Owns Big Part Of FOX?

I'm sure you've seen the ongoing conservative campaign against any energy source that isn't oil. Headline at Drudge, links to Fox story: Wind Industry Has Lost 10,000 Jobs Under Obama,

A recent lengthy report by Reuters confirms what many conservatives have long known: President Obama's promise to create millions of so-called "green jobs" has been a colossal and expensive failure.

But did you know that the #2 owner of FOX is a Saudi oil prince?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:47 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

April 7, 2012

Chevy Volt Flammable? Compared to GASOLINE?

The right-wingers smearing the Volt as "flammable" don't get it that cars now run on GASOLINE? Which isn't flammable? HOW many gasoline car fires are there a year? (Hint: the answer is "In 2003-2007, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 287,000 vehicle fires per year. These fires caused an average of 480 civilian deaths, 1,525 civilian injuries, and $1.3 billion in direct property damage annually.")

My favorite right-wing propaganda about the Volt was that it "ran out of juice in the Lincoln Tunnel" on a test drive. Of course, what happened was that the battery ran down and it switched on the gas engine and kept going, but ... whatever. It sure SOUNDS bad.

By the way, to learn about how the right's propaganda machine works, click that link and observe just how many sites repeated the lie.

One more thing about electric cars. Think about this: How often do you need to service your refrigerator motor? You will never have to replace the water pump, or adjust the valves, replace the muffler, etc. New tires and lubrication is about it. One Ford engineer told me they have some electric cars on the track that are over 1 million miles.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:10 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

April 1, 2012

They Say It Like It's A Bad Thing!

Examiner Editorial: Obama wants to raise taxes on oil, subsidize more Solyndras | Washington Examiner

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:10 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

March 31, 2012

Senators Filibustered For $23,582,500

This week the Senate filibustered the effort to stop giving huge, huge tax breaks and subsidies to oil companies. Why did they filibuster? FOR MONEY.

See Senators Who Voted To Protect Oil Tax Breaks Received $23,582,500 From Big Oil | ThinkProgress

What more needs to be said? This is filed under corruption & corporate rule.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:55 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Very Important Read On Climate Change!

Record Heat Wave Grips US. But Is It Climate Change? | Mother Jones

PLEASE go read or at least skim the whole thing. There really is nothing more important in the long run.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:22 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

March 30, 2012

GM Stops Supporting Climate Denial

This is a big deal. General Motors Decides Climate Change Is Real, Pulls Support From Heartland Institute. So that's one down, hundreds to go.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:25 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

March 27, 2012

The FOX Effect

The WSJ, part-owned by a Saudi oil price, tells me:

CO2 is not a pollutant. Life on earth flourished for hundreds of millions of years at much higher CO2 levels than we see today. Increasing CO2 levels will be a net benefit because cultivated plants grow better and are more resistant to drought at higher CO2 levels, and because warming and other supposedly harmful effects of CO2 have been greatly exaggerated. Nations with affordable energy from fossil fuels are more prosperous and healthy than those without.

What do real scientists say? Reuters: Global Warming Close to Becoming Irreversible,

The world is close to reaching tipping points that will make it irreversibly hotter, making this decade critical in efforts to contain global warming, scientists warned on Monday.

Scientific estimates differ but the world's temperature looks set to rise by six degrees Celsius by 2100 if greenhouse gas emissions are allowed to rise uncontrollably.

As emissions grow, scientists say the world is close to reaching thresholds beyond which the effects on the global climate will be irreversible, such as the melting of polar ice sheets and loss of rainforests.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:35 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

THE Most Important Subject

Global Warming Close to Becoming Irreversible: Scientific American

The world is close to reaching tipping points that will make it irreversibly hotter, making this decade critical in efforts to contain global warming, scientists warned on Monday.

Scientific estimates differ but the world's temperature looks set to rise by six degrees Celsius by 2100 if greenhouse gas emissions are allowed to rise uncontrollably.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:32 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

March 12, 2012

Arctic Ice And Oil Company Money

Most of us see news stories like this:

Ice extent in Barents Sea less than half of average

Also further to the East in the Arctic ice conditions are very unusual this year. The Kara Sea to the East of Novaya Zemlya was completely ice-free in February, as BarentsObserver reported.

A recent NASA-study shows that the oldest and thickest Arctic sea ice is disappearing at a faster rate than the younger and thinner ice at the edges of the Arctic Ocean’s floating ice cap. The shows that multi-year ice has diminished with each passing winter over the last three decades with a rate of -15.1 percent per decade.

Melting Arctic link to cold, snowy UK winters,

The progressive shrinking of Arctic sea ice is bringing colder, snowier winters to the UK and other areas of Europe, North America and China, a study shows.

February Arctic sea ice extent below average‎

Ice_graph.png

Arctic sea ice retreat raises new fishing challenge


But if you are a right-winger, you see news stories like this:

Daily Mail: Most polar ice ever recorded, which links to this story: Greenland And Alaska Have More Ice Than 1979 and has a pair of satellite images that make it look like there was no ice in 1979 and the entire northern hemisphere is covered with ice now.

P.S. If you carefully examine the two photos, you see that the socond really shows that there is much less ice in 2012 than in 1979. They changed the color used to show land mass to white so you get a clearer pic of ice coverage, because of the shrinkage of the ice caps.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:49 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

January 23, 2012

A Political Party In Service To Canadian Oil Companies

Money is certainly changing hands over this one. Digby says Gird yourself --- it looks like we're in for another standoff: She warns that the Republicans are going to hold the government hostage to try to get the Keystone pipeline approved.

Think about what this means. A national political party threatens to hold the entire government hostage, so that Canadian oil companies can more easily sell oil to China. Think about the money that is changing hands. Think about the corruption involved in something like this.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:16 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

October 20, 2011

NYTimes On Climate

Here is how the corporate/conservative movement succeeds in keeping the public misinformed: No reporter will get fired for promoting big corporate interests, no reporter will have career advancement from taking them on.

OK I just got around to reading this. A whole "how come?" story on how the US is an outlier on climate change, why isn't it in the national discussion anymore, and not mentioning Koch Brothers or oil company funding of the conservative movement even once. Sheesh. Whatever Happened to Global Warming? - NYTimes.com

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:12 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

September 30, 2011

Why Does The Right Help China?

Why is the right trying so hard to help China capture the green-energy industry?

One example today, Heritage Foundation: The Solyndra Legacies,

Days before a recent deadline, the Department of Energy brazenly approved two additional loans for more than $1 billion for solar energy projects in the Obama Administration’s green jobs program. The latest ill-fated ventures include a $737 million loan guarantee to Solar Reserve for a 110-megawatt solar tower on federal land in Nevada and a $337 million guarantee for Mesquite Solar 1 to develop a 150-megawatt solar plant in Arizona.

Loan guarantees like these are destined to fail, because they are either granted to companies that could not remain viable without them or because the loan was supported by political connections; or both. This round of loans includes the latter—just as it appears Solyndra was aided.

Is this campaign to kill off America's green-energy efforts just to help the Koch brothers and other oil-company funders of the right? Is that all there is to it? It's pretty darn convenient for China, either way.

Update - The right is not just on China's side against ours when it comes to the green energy industry. Look at this from Cato Institute: China Currency Legislation Is a Desperate Mistake and keep in mind that the argument is about China allowing its currency to move to market rates. Usually Cato is all about free markets -- until that benefits America instead of China.

Broader support on Capitol Hill for currency legislation boils down to this: with public approval ratings hovering in the low-to-mid teens, an embattled Congress is looking for plausible scapegoats for the dismal state of U.S. economic affairs. Thanks to a lot of media-driven hype about China’s inexorable rise at U.S. expense, Americans fear China almost as much as they loathe Congress. A vote to reclaim American jobs stolen by China—as the currency legislation is so disingenuously characterized by some of its supporters—enables politicians to return to their states and districts with concrete evidence of the seriousness of their efforts.

Only it’s not serious. It’s deeply dismaying. Instead of working hard to change homegrown U.S. policies that inhibit investment, job creation, and growth, our elected officials would choose to lay the blame for our woes at China’s feet, then cross their fingers and hope that their provocative, unilateralist legislation doesn’t unleash a torrent of adverse consequences that would make economic matters even worse. Can there be a stronger admission of failure than to launch such a desperate Hail Mary?

OK, get that? He says we should not be asking China to let its currency float to market rates, which would make American-made goods competitive in the world again.

Worse than that, he is saying America should be more like China, not the other way around. He says we need to stop protecting our people, our workers, stop protecting our environment, make it harder to unionize, and let a top few govern us. Yikes!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:04 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

September 27, 2011

Solyndra 'Scandal' About Big Oil, King Coal Power And Intimidation

Last week big oil/big coal sent a not-subtle message to the country's investment community: if you back companies or technologies that compete with us we will crush you. Our media/political machine will accuse you of every crime in the book. Your picture will be plastered on the front page of every newspaper in the country looking like you are on the FBI's "Most Wanted List." We will haul you before Congress and grill you like a tri-tip on national television. The evening news will speculate that you should be in prison.

Here is the other message that is being sent out loud and clear to the rest of us: America is for oil and coal. If you want alternatives let China do it.

Extending To Everything

Here is what the conservative propaganda machine does. It sets a narrative, pounds out a drumbeat on that narrative, and then every news event is twisted to leach the lesson of the narrative. The oil-backed right had been on an anti-green kick for some time. In The Phony Solyndra Solar Scandal I gave some examples -- just a taste -- of this narrative development:

Attacking Green Manufacturing

The Solyndra accusations are really just one part of an ongoing conservative and oil-interests-funded anti-green-manufacturing campaign drumbeat. Long before Solyndra's bankruptcy the Heritage Foundation was running stories like 2008's Green Jobs Are Con Jobs, 2009's The Green Job Myth Exposed, and this year's Obama’s “Green Jobs” Pipe Dream, The Green Jobs Story Obama Doesn’t Want You to Hear, Are “Green Jobs” the Answer?, Are Green Jobs ‘Gone with the Wind’?...

Media Matters had previously exposed the nature of this ongoing effort, in Heritage Foundation Green Jobs Panel - Bought and Paid For By ExxonMobil,

Instead of showcasing the views of unbiased academics and economists, the Heritage Foundation put forth a panel of individuals financially connected to ExxonMobil.

... The ENTIRE PANEL Received Money From ExxonMobil.

More conservative-outlet examples include the ever-malignant Fox News: Solyndra Investigation Begins Critical Look at Federally Funded Green Ventures.

Other conservative outlets continue the drumbeat, Obama’s green dream hurting U.S. taxpayers by Linda Chavez.

Another: Obama Green Jobs Con Job and the Ill Wind That Blows from Spain,

...

Another: Reason: Obama's Green Jobs Failures and Obama's Green-Jobs Fantasy and The Green Jobs Delusion and The Unseen Consequences of "Green Jobs": Will investing in clean energy harm the economy?...

NewsMax: Green Jobs Spending Is a Waste of Greenbacks, "If the congressional “supercommittee” wants to cut wasteful spending, the green-jobs agenda is a great place to start."

And more and more and more and more...

That is what they do. They develop the narrative -- in this case, anti-green, and when there is a story in the news they twist it to teach the lesson.

The Solyndra Lesson

So now Solyndra is in the news. On FOX news -- 2nd-largest shareholder is an oil billionaire -- the story is played 100 ways hour after hour. On talk radio it is repeated endlessly. In right-wing blogs it echoes everywhere. In right-wing newspapers, echoed in "mainstream" outlets by right-wing supported columnists, and driven into the mainstream. Lie after lie after lie, repeated until it becomes "truth."

Charles Krauthammer On Solyndra: A “Toxic Combination Of Lenin Socialism and Crony Capitalism”

So the narrative was that efforts to push for green-energy alternatives jobs was bad, Solyndra came along and was used to teach the lesson. Now that Solyndra is the narrative, it is being used to teach the larger lesson - anything government does is bad, anything opposing oil and coal and big multinationals is bad. Dana Milbank in the Washington Post, The birthing of Solyndra,

Since the solar-energy company went belly-up a few weeks ago — leaving taxpayers on the hook for $535 million in loan guarantees — a business that was once the poster child for President Obama’s green-jobs initiative has instead become a tool for Republicans to discredit most everything the administration seeks to do.

Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah used Solyndra to argue against worker-training benefits. Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina used it to argue that the federal government should stay out of autism research. Disaster relief, cancer treatments, you name it: Solyndra has been an argument against them.

And this week, the government faced the prospect of a shutdown because House Republicans added a provision to the spending bill to draw more attention to — what else? — Solyndra.

The Serious People

One side intimidates, and means it. So they are seen as the "serious" people -- deadly serious. If you cross them, you will have trouble. Serious trouble. The other side plays along, caves, accommodates, appeases, refuses to exercise power when they have it, does little even to enforce obvious lawbreaking by the big -- serious -- players.

Which side do you think people are going to take seriously?

The media won’t call out the intimidators because they are intimidated. One part of this intimidation is the organized, funded “liberal media” accusation. But that is just part of a larger strategy: neutralize those who might call you out on what you are doing. Yet another part of media intimidation is the effect on people’s careers. If you call out the right, you are a "leftist" and you career is in danger. If you are known as a liberal your career is not going to advance in most outlets. If you go after corporations you are "anti-business" and your career is not going far.

But you can say any silly thing, be as wrong or stupid as you can be, as long as it supports corporate/right positions. Nothing bad will happen to you. In fact you are more likely to do well careerwise – be promoted, make more money, get access, speaking fees, etc. And if you actually work for the right's machine, the sky is the limit. You will always, always have a job at an "institute" or in an "association" or even on the government payroll as a staffer. Seriously.

Seriously Using Power

Oh, and for those concerned about government subsidies, deals, etc.:


And is that pesky government trying to regulate you?

And not just big coal and oil:

As for getting goodies from the government?

This list could go on all day.

This is how power is used, and big oil/big coal/Wall Street/Big Multinationals have that power.

Solyndra - Government Doing The Right Thing

The first thing that needs to be emphasized here: the government -- under Bush first, then under Obama -- was right to assist Solyndra and other solar companies. Our government wants to help us capture some of the new green-energy industrial revolution for our country. It is millions of jobs and trillions of dollars coming down the road. To accomplish this the government stepped in to help explore promising new technologies, just like they do with cancer research. Solyndra had a promising new technology and that is why the Dept. of Energy started considering them for a loan guarantee - under the bush administration - that would encourage private investors to take the plunge.

That is all that happened here. Period. One company went under but the technology was promising and still is. Jobs were created - here. Research was funded - here. Facilities were built and will be used - here.

But China stepped in and put $30 billion into winning this bet - there - and this drove the prices down, so one company here went out of business. That is what happened.

Did it cost the government some money? Yes and no - the jobs, research, facilities, supply chain is all still here. And the money was nothing compared to the money the government puts into big oil, big coal, big ag, big financial, etc.

Silicon Valley's San Jose Mercury News Silicon Valley observers say fears of 'more Solyndras' are overblown,

...the scandal has already created an unexpected roadblock for another area solar firm, San Mateo's SolarCity. Earlier this month, the company heralded conditional Department of Energy approval for a $275 million loan guarantee that would help put solar panels on dozens of U.S. military bases. On Friday, the company's CEO sent an urgent letter to Congressional leaders, saying new federal concerns in the wake of the Solyndra scandal could scuttle the SolarCity deal.

... "In the past 48 hours, the DOE has informed us that while they remain strongly supportive of Project SolarStrong, they will be unable to finalize their approval of the loan guarantee" prior to next week's expiration of the loan program.

Adding that the high-flying company ultimately may have been undone by the rise of lower-cost competitors, he said: "Solyndra isn't a sign of the failure of solar. It's a sign that this market is booming."

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:29 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

September 22, 2011

Republican Committee Report Exposes Shocking Union/Environmentalist Conspiracy

Oil-backed Republicans are doing everything they can to turn the public against ... alternatives to oil. Today a Republican Congressional committee held a hearing, named the hearing "How Obama's Green Energy Agenda is Killing Jobs," and released a "report" with the same name. The report calls the push for green-energy jobs "a propaganda tool designed to provide legitimacy to a pre-determined outcome that benefits a political ideology." Here's the thing: the report itself actually is "a propaganda tool designed to provide legitimacy to a pre-determined outcome that benefits a political ideology." Heh.

The Report

The Republican House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has release a 33-page report, How Obama’s Green Energy Agenda is Killing Jobs. This "report" is a stunning document that reads like an oil-company promotional piece raised to he level of Glenn-Beckian, conspiratorial hysteria. From the Executive Summary,

The Obama Administration’s green energy campaign has been pursued while it simultaneously implemented a regulatory agenda that is choking American businesses and restricting access to abundant domestic natural resources which have traditionally provided cheap energy that supports economic growth.

... By sacrificing domestic carbon-based resources upon the altar of an ill-fated “green energy” experiment, the President has put U.S. economic security in jeopardy and wasted billions in taxpayer money at a time when our fiscal health is in peril.

One "finding" of the report is that green jobs might help people who are members of labor unions, and that "payment of union-level wages" might be mandated! Along with this, a press release promoting the report warns:

It also points out that the guise of "green jobs" has become a rallying cry for a political coalition comprised of environmentalists and union leadership to consolidate an ideologically-based agenda, and notes that many federal green jobs programs have strings attached that require union workers, union-level wages and other mandates.

Shocking, Americans might want a clean environment and good pay. We must warn our constituents about this terrible possibility before communists take over!

Key Findings

Among the report's "key findings:"

  • Labeling an occupation as a green job does not mean it has any special economic worth;
  • The guise of “green jobs” has become a political rallying cry aimed to unite environmentalists and union leaders in a deliberate effort to consolidate an ideologicallybased agenda;
  • Labor unions are profiting from the many so-called “green” programs because there are often “strings attached” that require hiring union workers, the payment of union-level wages and other mandates;
  • The metric of a “green job” is nothing more than a propaganda tool designed to provide legitimacy to a pre-determined outcome that benefits a political ideology rather than the economy or the environment...

The Conspiracy

The report lays out in detail a grand, Glenn-Beckian conspiracy theory, claiming that environmentalists and labor unions are working together to promote a grand, "green jobs" conspiracy. The section titled, PART I: OBAMA’S GREEN AGENDA DECONSTRUCTED lays out this conspiracy,

...union leaders support “green jobs” because much of the subsidized work is designated to be awarded to unionized workers. For their part, environmentalists benefit from having a broader base of support for policies that seek to “green” the economy. The outcome is a political alliance with incredible power.

The genesis of promoting so-called “green jobs” can be traced to a group known as the Apollo Alliance, which has been the center of gravity for the green jobs movement since 2001. ... Accordingly, the Apollo Alliance and other coalition efforts like the Blue-Green Alliance bring together two major components of the Democratic political base – environmentalists and labor unions. ...

Labor Unions are Profiting under the Pretense of Green Energy

While the green jobs movement clearly advances the interests of environmental special interest groups in the green jobs movement, the interests of labor unions may not be as readily apparent. However, a careful look at statutes passed in the Democrat controlled 110th and 111th Congresses reveal that unions stand to benefit from many of the so-called green programs because these programs have “strings attached … that require paying union-level wages, hampering lower cost, nonunion firms from competing for the jobs produced by the grants.” The left-wing magazine, The American Prospect, noted in September of 2007 that Leo Gerard, the President of the United Steelworkers, has played a major role in the development of the Apollo Alliance and its political influence...

The report goes on to make the case that one goal of this conspiracy is to promote American steel, and require other parts of this effort to be American-made, which would benefit members of the Steelworkers union.

Another reason why Gerard and the United Steelworkers, in particular, are drawn to this coalition is the amount of steel required to manufacturer green energy products, such as wind turbines. To the extent that manufacturers use American steel, the assumption is that the government subsidies and regulations would benefit their membership as well. As Gerard has stated, arguing for steel protections, “If we are not going to do solar panels and fluorescent bulbs and wind turbines here, the next generation of R and D will not be here."

Oil Good, Green Bad: Promoting Oil Companies

Another section of the report, Fossil Fuel Use Has Been a Major Driver of American Prosperity, explains the benefits to America of promoting oil companies and getting rid of any green jobs effort to promote alternatives to fossil fuel use. You can almost hear the patriotic music welling up as you read this section.

The positive relationship between access to affordable energy sources and economic growth is undeniable; fossil fuels have been the backbone of American prosperity.

... The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) credits carbon-based energy with spawning “one of the most profound social transformations in history.” Fossil fuels currently meet more than 80% of U.S. energy demand, with petroleum satisfying half of that demand.

The expanded use of fossil fuels throughout history has facilitated the development of some of our nation’s most productive industries. ...

Oil is credited with “the rise and development of capitalism and modern business” itself. Today, coal, oil and natural gas form the backbone that supports the American economy. [emphasis added]

Misstatements Of Fact

The report also contains what can politely be called "misstatements of fact." The report talks about "a private investor—one who happened to be a prominent Obama fundraiser." This is just flat-out false, In my post, Five Biggest Right-Wing Lies About Solyndra I pointed out the way this lie is used to create an appearance of impropriety:

5. The biggest investor in Solyndra was an Obama donor.
Conservatives (and now picked up by corporate "mainstream" outlets) make the accusation that there was corruption in the process by which Solyndra received its loan because a major Obama donor named George Kaiser is a major investor in Solyndra. The charge is that Solyndra only received the loan guarantee as a result of campaign contributions by people "connected to" Solyndra. The problem with this is that George Kaiser was not an investor in Solyndra. According to Tulsa World,
In an emailed statement to the Tulsa World, a representative of the George Kaiser Family Foundation said the organization made the investment through Argonaut.

"George Kaiser is not an investor in Solyndra and did not participate in any discussions with the U.S. government regarding the loan," the statement said. "GKFF invests in a globally diversified portfolio across many different asset classes."

The Kaiser Family Foundation is a philanthropic organization, which means Kaiser (or anyone else) could not personally profit from a successful investment by the foundation.

Please take the time to skim through this astonishing report. A copy of the Committee report is available by clicking here.

At Politico Darren Sameulsohn explains what Republicans are up to, in President Obama's green losing streak writing, "Now, with Solyndra's collapse, Republicans are promising to make the green jobs concept politically toxic for years to come."

This Mark Fiore animation sums it up.

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:25 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

September 16, 2011

Top 5 List: 5 Biggest Right-Wing Lies About Solyndra

Oil-backed conservatives have been absolutely ecstatic over the collapse of American solar-power company Solyndra and the rise of China as the dominant country in green energy, because they think they can turn this into a story that makes President Obama and government look bad. It also gives them a bonus opportunity to attack alternatives to coal and oil. So is there really a "scandal" behind what happened to Solyndra? Or is this just one more conservative smear, made up from whole cloth and spread around conservative outlets, talk radio and FOX News, hoping the "mainstream media" will be tricked into propelling the propaganda out to the public?

The Smear Machine

When Bill Clinton was President conservatives developed and refined a "smear machine" technique of making up accusation after accusation after accusation (after accusation after accusation), repeating them endlessly and hysterically in conservative-funded outlets, and working to get major media outlets to pick up and repeat them. Unfortunately they were often successful at driving phony smears into the public arena. Even though the stories were invariably refuted after investigation, by the time each smear was refuted many, many more were circulating. After a while people began to believe "where there's smoke there's fire." One such story that major outlets repeated involved the supposed "sale" of an Arlington cemetery plot for campaign contributions. When it was proven to be nothing more than a false smear the repetition in major outlets was justified "because it's just the sort of thing he might have done."

In the 2004 election we saw the process repeated with the "Swift Boat" smear that turned around John Kerry's lead in the polls. It was entirely a made-up lie but the mainstream media picked it up and propelled it.

Since President Obama's election right-wing media outlets have again been engaged in creating a constant stream of negative and destructive "stories" that try to turn the public against the President, Democrats in general and government itself. We have been told that the President is secretly a Muslim terrorist, was not born in the United States and therefore is an illegitimate President and is a "Socialist" out to destroy our way of life. They have claimed he raised taxes when in reality he cut taxes, that he "tripled the deficit" when in reality he cut the deficit from the $1.4 trillion hole Bush left us in, that his stimulus plan "created zero jobs" when in reality it turned around a rapidly-deteriorating situation, that he has dramatically increased spending when in reality he did not, and many other untruths all in an attempt to turn people against him and against the idea that government can be a force for good. (See Three Charts To Email To Your Right-Wing Brother-In-Law.) Accusation after accusation has been shot down.

The Top Five Lies

Now they're at it again, this time trying to turn the unfortunate bankruptcy of a solar-power company named Solyndra into an all-out anti-Obama and anti-government attack. Here is a countdown of the top five lies they are telling about what happened with Solyndra:

5) The biggest investor in Solyndra was an Obama donor. Conservatives (and now picked up by corporate "mainstream" outlets) make the accusation that there was corruption in the process by which Solyndra received its loan because a major Obama donor named George Kaiser is a major investor in Solyndra. The charge is that Solyndra only received the loan guarantee as a result of campaign contributions by people "connected to" Solyndra. The problem with this is that George Kaiser was not an investor in Solyndra. According to Tulsa World,

In an emailed statement to the Tulsa World, a representative of the George Kaiser Family Foundation said the organization made the investment through Argonaut.

"George Kaiser is not an investor in Solyndra and did not participate in any discussions with the U.S. government regarding the loan," the statement said. "GKFF invests in a globally diversified portfolio across many different asset classes."

The Kaiser Family Foundation is a philanthropic organization, which means Kaiser (or anyone else) could not personally profit from a successful investment by the foundation.

4) Green energy is a bad investment. Oil-connected conservatives have been trying to kill off investment in green energy for some time. They see opportunity in hyping up a "scandal" over the bankruptcy of Solyndra as a way to attack the idea of developing a green-energy industry in the US. Just today, Heritage Foundation, which for months has been attacking the idea of creating green jobs, has this posted: Solyndra Scandal Ends Green Jobs Myth. (I have several examples of conservative attacks on green manufacturing in the post, The Phony Solyndra Solar Scandal.)

Just in the last year China gave $30 billion financing to 6 solar companies. If the benefits from developing a green energy industry that provides lots of green jobs are a myth then why is China putting so much into this effort?

3) The government lost money "picking winners and losers." This is a core line of attack by the right. By tricking the public into thinking that the purpose of government's efforts to trigger a green-energy industry was to make money for the government by investing in individual companies, they can make this look bad because one company went into bankruptcy. But the purpose of our government's involvement in this is to help trigger an ecosystem around which a green-energy industry can grow. When a new technology is promising, it might be risky to investors, but very beneficial to us as a country to pursue it. That way we end up with a chunk of the millions of jobs and trillions of dollars that result. That benefits everyone.

The government does not operate like a venture capitalist, investing in companies with the hope of reaping a profit for itself. Compare the effort to trigger a green-energy industry to government-funded cancer research. Some directions of exploration don’t pan out. But you don’t know that until you fund the tests. This is what happened with Solyndra. The loan guarantee enabled Solyndra to get private investment hire researchers as well as manufacturing and other employees, to build a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in the US, to develop a supply chain, to buy equipment, etc. This was part of the stimulus and all that money was moved into the economy. And all of those are still in the United States, ready to be part of scaling up a green-energy industry. So where the country is concerned, we didn’t lose at all.

The goal was not to make Solyndra a successful company, the goal was to trigger an ecosystem for the green-energy industry in the US. Weren't the things the money was used for, good for the country? Even though the company Solyndra didn’t make it, the money created jobs and leaves behind technology, trained workrs, equipment and facilities that other companies will use.

2) The Solyndra loan was rushed or pushed. This loan originated under the Bush administration -- and for good reasons. Following the passage of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the government began efforts to cultivate a US-based green-energy industry. Solyndra offered a promising technology and applied for loan guarantees. Following a review by career professionals in the Department of Energy (DOE) Solyndra was asked to provide more information. A few months later, under the new Obama administration, the same career professionals received the requested information and proceeded to approve the loan.

They DOE had some conditions, and a few months later those conditions were met, and the timeline of meeting the conditions meant it happened under the new administration but was handled by the same career professionals. It was the right thing to do for the country to suggest the loan under the Bush administration, which did nothing wrong. Approving the loan under the Obama administration also helps the country because that money went toward helping develop that ecosystem that creates companies and jobs. Stories about rushing the approval are meant to make it sound like it was done to help a major campaign donor who, as point #1 above makes clear, was not the investor. It is the only reason the timing is an issue.

The Number One Lie

And the number 1 lie told by conservatives is:

1) Something bad happened. The right has been trying to push the idea that something bad has happened involving Solyndra. They are calling it a "scandal." But it is entirely a manufactured scandal, like those from the Clinton era. This is what they do. Nothing bad happened.

The supposed campaign donor/investor is not an investor. The timing of the loan is not suspect, it followed the proper, transparent, accountable procedures. The loan assisted the development of a promising technology. The green-energy industry stands to create millions of jobs and trillions of dollars to the countries that are smart enough now to make the investments that help them grab a chunk of it. The loan was good for the country, even though one company went bankrupt.

But by the time this smear is refuted five more will have taken its place.


This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:31 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

September 14, 2011

The Phony Solyndra Solar Scandal

Well here's a surprise: conservatives and oil interests are pushing deceptive and destructive stories about President Obama and clean energy. Imagine that! Their intent (as always) is to turn people against President Obama, clean energy, national energy policy, stimulus to help the economy, and government in general. It's what they do. Here is some information to help you push back on the latest whipped-up, anti-green, anti-government, anti-Obama "scandal."

Solyndra

Solyndra was a startup solar-power equipment manufacturer based in Fremont, California that went bankrupt at the end of August. The company's solar collectors used a special tubular internal design that let it collect light from all directions, and were made with a copper-indium-gallium-diselenide (CIGS) thin film that avoided using then-expensive silicon. It was one of several companies that received assistance from the government, in an attempt to push back on China's strategic targeting of green-energy manufacturing.

The company, partly backed by the conservative Walton family had received a loan guarantee from the Department of Energy. The loan, which was originally pushed by the Bush administration, was 1.3% of the DOE portfolio.

The economy tanked and cut demand, and at the same time Solyndra could not compete with subsidized companies located in China as they rapidly scaled up. So Solyndra ran out of money. Conservatives and oil interests are using the bankruptcy as a platform to attack green energy and the idea of green jobs in general, solar power in particular, President Obama as always, stimulus funding and the idea of developing a national strategic industrial policy to push back on China and others who have their own national policies to win this key industry of the future.

Conservative Attacks

Conservative are accusing the Obama administration of corruption in choosing Solyndra to receive a government loan guarantee. The typical conservative-outlet story follows a template of Glenn-Beckian accusations that someone "connected to" Obama has "ties" to something. When you hear the phrasing "has ties to" you should understand this as code-speak for "has nothing to do with but can be made to appear to have some sinister involvement if you twist the wording a certain way."

Example template story: Bankrupt solar company with fed backing has cozy ties to Obama admin,

A solar energy company that intends to file for bankruptcy received $535 million in backing from the federal government and has a cozy history with Democrats and the Obama administration, campaign finance records show.

Shareholders and executives of Solyndra, a green energy company producing solar panels, fundraised for and donated to the Obama administration to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Tulsa billionaire George Kaiser, a key Obama backer who raised between $50,000 and $100,000 for the president’s election campaign, is one of Solyndra’s primary investors. Kaiser himself donated $53,500 to Obama’s 2008 election campaign, split between the DSCC and Obama For America. Kaiser also made several visits to the White House and appeared at some White House events next to Obama officials.

Campaign finance records show Kaiser and Solyndra executives and board members donated $87,050 total to Obama’s election campaign.

And now, just two years after securing a half-billion-dollar federal loan, Solyndra has said that it will declare Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

(Hold on to this part about Tulsa billionaire Kaiser as an investor for later.)

Another: Big Government, Sweethearts: Bankrupt Solar Power Firm Well Connected to White House, "Obama’s stimulus money handouts carry the stench of political favoritism."

Another: Hot Air: How did Solyndra get a sweetheart interest rate?

FOX News has been promoting this "scandal" story heavily. (It should be noted here that Fox's parent company News Corp's 2nd-largest shareholder is oil billionaire Saudi Prince al-Waleed - an "oil interest" if ever there was one.) For example, FOX News, a template story with the ever-hopeful conservative headline: Obama's Pet Billionaire at Solyndra May Take White House Down,

A high profile, politically well-connected California solar energy company that had won a $535 million loan guarantee from the Obama Administration declared bankruptcy earlier this month and closed its doors sending 1100 workers to the unemployment line. The demise of Solyndra has already sparked an FBI investigation, congressional hearings, and raised numerous questions of political cronyism and corruption connected to the highest levels of the Obama Administration.

... One of the company's largest investors, George B. Kaiser of Tulsa, reportedly contributed $53,500 personally and bundled large amounts more for Obama in 2008. Kaiser is a billionaire with banking and oil and gas interests that rank him among the wealthiest people in the world. Kaiser also visited the White House 16 times between 2009 and 2011.

FOX News: RNC Uses Solyndra Investigation to Question New White House Jobs Proposal

FOX News: Could Solyndra Probe Mean Legal Trouble for White House?

FOX News: House GOP Widens Scope of Solyndra Investigation.

Etc., the story is repeated with various twists and added allegations throughout the conservative misinformation engine.

Jumps To "Mainstream"

As so often happens with the conservative machine, the story as spun by the right is jumping to "mainstream" news outlets. For example, this ABC story by Mathew Mosk, formerly of the Washington Times, and others, Emails: Obama White House Monitored Huge Loan to 'Connected' Firm pushes the conservative line, calling the firm "politically connected" and, reminiscent of Clinton-era Whitewater reporting, uses "investigators for the House Energy and Commerce Committee" -- in other words, conservative operatives -- as a source. The story claims the White House "closely monitored" Solyndra but offers no evidence of "close monitoring," says the company is the "subject of a criminal investigation" without explaining that the investigation is into whether the company misled the government about its financial status which would mean that administration officials did not knowingly provide a loan to a failing company, claims that a prominent Obama donor is "an investor" even though the donor's family foundation is the investor, which means the donor had nothing to gain, and to further the appearance of a sinister scheme by the Obama administration to hand money to political allies leaves out the financial involvement of the conservative Walton family. From ABC,

Newly uncovered emails show the White House closely monitored the Energy Department's deliberations over a $535 million government loan to Solyndra, the politically-connected solar energy firm that recently went bankrupt and is now the subject of a criminal investigation.

The company's solar panel factory was heralded as a centerpiece of the president's green energy plan -- billed as a way to jump start a promising new industry. And internal emails uncovered by investigators for the House Energy and Commerce Committee that were shared exclusively with ABC News show the Obama administration was keenly monitoring the progress of the loan, even as analysts were voicing serious concerns about the risk involved.

Background Of Corruption Allegations

Before looking at whether the Obama administration really had "ties to" people who had "ties to" Solyndra who somehow "benefited from" government loan guarantees, let's have a bit of a refresher on our recent history.

Under President Bush, conservative movement partners as well as companies and people with financial ties to Bush administration figures regularly received lucrative contracts under less-than-transparent circumstances that had every direct appearance of (forget "ties to") of corruption and cronyism. For example, Koch Submits Winning Bid To Supply Additional Oil to Strategic Reserve,

Koch Supply & Trading, LP, one of the world's largest crude oil trading companies, will become the newest supplier of crude oil to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) under President Bush's plan, announced last November, to fill the nation's emergency oil stockpile to its full capacity by 2005.

Example, Fired Army Whistleblower Receives $970K for Exposing Halliburton No-Bid Contract in Iraq,

Bunnatine "Bunny" Greenhouse, the former chief oversight official of contracts at the Army Corps of Engineers, has reached a $970,000 settlement six years after she was demoted for publicly criticizing a multi-billion-dollar, no-bid contract to Halliburton—the company formerly headed by then-Vice President Dick Cheney. Greenhouse had accused the Pentagon of unfairly awarding the contract to Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root. Testifying before Congress in June 2005, she called the contract the worst case of government abuse she had ever witnessed in her 20-year career.

Example, Bush's Housing Secretary was caught awarding contracts based on party affiliation: Probe Finds Jackson Urged Favoritism in HUD Contracts,

An inspector general's report charges that top U.S. housing official Alphonso Jackson urged staff members to favor friends of President Bush when awarding Department of Housing and Urban Development contracts.

Attacking Green Manufacturing

The Solyndra accusations are really just one part of an ongoing conservative and oil-interests-funded anti-green-manufacturing campaign drumbeat. Long before Solyndra's bankruptcy the Heritage Foundation was running stories like 2008's Green Jobs Are Con Jobs, 2009's The Green Job Myth Exposed, and this year's Obama’s “Green Jobs” Pipe Dream, The Green Jobs Story Obama Doesn’t Want You to Hear, Are “Green Jobs” the Answer?, Are Green Jobs ‘Gone with the Wind’?...

Media Matters had previously exposed the nature of this ongoing effort, in Heritage Foundation Green Jobs Panel - Bought and Paid For By ExxonMobil,

Instead of showcasing the views of unbiased academics and economists, the Heritage Foundation put forth a panel of individuals financially connected to ExxonMobil.

... The ENTIRE PANEL Received Money From ExxonMobil.

More conservative-outlet examples include the ever-malignant Fox News: Solyndra Investigation Begins Critical Look at Federally Funded Green Ventures.

Other conservative outlets continue the drumbeat, Obama’s green dream hurting U.S. taxpayers by Linda Chavez.

Another: Obama Green Jobs Con Job and the Ill Wind That Blows from Spain,

Obama has become tiresome. He is over-exposed. He has overstayed his welcome. We can hear the clichés that will be laced through his speech even before he speaks -- the opposite of an echo. The promises will be there -- what else can he sell? Certainly not his record on the economy.

He has always been a snake oil salesman; such people always tempt the needy with promises of great things to come. So we will once more hear him tout his policies as creating legions of new "green jobs" while making America the world leader in green energy. We have heard it before. He must either think we are stuck on stupid or he is the one stuck on stupid. This policy has clearly been one giant Green Jobs Con Job.

Another: Reason: Obama's Green Jobs Failures and Obama's Green-Jobs Fantasy and The Green Jobs Delusion and The Unseen Consequences of "Green Jobs": Will investing in clean energy harm the economy?...

NewsMax: Green Jobs Spending Is a Waste of Greenbacks, "If the congressional “supercommittee” wants to cut wasteful spending, the green-jobs agenda is a great place to start."

And more and more and more and more...

What Really Happened

A very good summary of the whole story, as well as a look into the details of the investment can be found in the Time/Swampland Michael Grunwald story, Big Name Investors Behind Obama’s Failed Green Tech Bet First in Line to Recoup Losses, summary: (read the whole thing)

This is sure to play out as a scandal, but based on what we know so far, it shouldn’t be. Private loans go south all the time. ... The Obama administration has made bets on hundreds of clean-energy companies in dozens of clean-energy sectors; some of those bets in its portfolio are bound to go bad, just as Richard Branson picks an occasional lemon. It’s legitimate to question whether the government should have made this particular bet, or whether it overplayed a weak hand, or whether it should be making bets in the first place. But if we’re going to have a clean energy industry in this country, this kind of thing is going to happen. It doesn’t mean anyone cheated.

Background of the company's failure, from the Swampland piece,

Solyndra’s loan, the first approved under a clean-energy program that was launched during the Bush administration and expanded by Obama’s stimulus bill, was supposed to finance a new state-of-the-art factory for the company’s unique cylindrical solar cells. At the time, Solyndra was an exciting startup; according to the public filings, it attracted big money from bigtime financiers, including $35 million from Richard Branson’s Virgin Green Fund, $57 million from U.S. Venture Partners, and even $2 million from affiliates of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts.

... [later] The biggest problem was obvious; in an industry where prices were plummeting, Solyndra’s product was too expensive. It desperately needed to finish its new factory, which would increase volume and decrease costs. And it needed more sales.

By last November, the company was running out of cash; according to a January 2011 government document, it had “a very high probability” of bankruptcy and liquidation. This was a big problem, not only because the company had drawn down $460 million of its loan, but because its new factory wasn’t even completed, which meant liquidation would be a fire sale. ...

The other option was restructuring. Kaiser’s Argonaut Ventures and the Walton family’s Madrone Partners would put up an additional $75 million, which would take the first position in case of a liquidation; the government would still be paid first if the company managed to emerge from bankruptcy. Meanwhile, the Department of Energy ... ultimately concluded it did have a potentially viable business. The new factory was on time and on budget. Sales were increasing steadily. And even if Solyndra failed, it would be much more valuable with a completed high-tech plant than with an empty box in Fremont, California.

... “The restructuring gave Solyndra a fighting chance for success,” that same official says. “But then everything fell off a cliff.”

In the summer of 2011, solar panel prices plummeted again. The investors had been poised to inject another $75 million, but this time, they decided not to throw good money after bad. Solyndra shut down and laid off its 1,100 employees.

Investors

The conservatives make the accusation that an Obama donor named George Kaiser is a major investor in Solyndra, and Solyndra received the loan guarantee as a result of Kaiser's (and others) campaign contributions, in order to personally profit. The problem with this is that George Kaiser was not an investor in Solyndra, the Kaiser Family Foundation was. According to Tulsa World,

In an emailed statement to the Tulsa World, a representative of the George Kaiser Family Foundation said the organization made the investment through Argonaut.

"George Kaiser is not an investor in Solyndra and did not participate in any discussions with the U.S. government regarding the loan," the statement said. "GKFF invests in a globally diversified portfolio across many different asset classes."

The Kaiser Family Foundation is a philanthropic organization, which means Kaiser (or anyone else) could not personally profit from a successful investment by the foundation. One of the areas of focus of the foundation is the National Energy Policy Institute, so Solyndra was a natural investment for the Foundation:

National Energy Policy Institute (NEPI) is a GKFF effort to establish a rational energy policy that will effectively reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil. American political leaders have espoused energy independence for decades. NEPI's goal is to move beyond total oil dependence and to supplant consumption of imported oil through increased domestic energy supply, reduced foreign oil and gas demand and lower carbon emissions to include enhancement of traditional sources of domestic oil, gas and coal.

The conservative Wal-Mart Walton Family, however, were private investors through their Madrone Capital, and at the time that the Bush administration started pushing the Solyndra loan were in a position to peronally profit from this investment. If any accusation of an expectation of personal enrichment obtained from political connections should be investigated, it is this one. Will the Republican House look into the connections between the Walton family and Bush administration officials, and the Bush administrations efforts to provide loans to Solyndra?

The Government Didn't Lose

Even though Solyndra went into bankruptcy the government didn't "lose." The purpose of the government's involvement was to help trigger the development of green-energy manufacturing in the United States, not to help individual companies. This was not a direct investment in a company with the expectation of a profit for the government. In the bigger picture of promoting American leadership in the emerging green-energy industry the government's loan guarantee was a success. Even though Solyndra's investors lost out our country retains the trained skilled employees, the intellectual property, the innovators funded, the suppliers, and the factory. As components of a national effort to trigger a key strategic industry, those are all still there and in the US.

It isn't the government's job to make sure the investors make money, the government's job is to work to keep all of these components of an industry here and to grow new ones here, and this is what has been accomplished. When a VC makes an investment, a company failing just goes on the books as a loss. But our government has succeeded even if Solyndra's investors lost money because the country as a whole benefits. All these employees are trained, all the researchers can take what they know to other solar companies, the IP is going to be sold -- and it should be part of the conditions that it be sold to an American company. So while Solyndra's for-profit investors lost money, America's larger effort to nurture a solar-power industry continues toward its goal with assets enabled by this loan guarantee.

Facts:

The loan program started under President Bush (note - see above, Walton family.) From the San Jose Mercury News, October, 2008:

In late 2007, Solyndra was one of 16 clean-tech companies deemed eligible for $4 billion worth of loan guarantees from the U.S. Department of Energy. Tesla Motors, the Silicon Valley electric carmaker, and Oakland's BrightSource Energy, a builder of solar-thermal plants, also made that list.

The effort to fund Solyndra in particular started under Bush (note - see above, Walton family.) DOE: A Competition Worth Winning, (PS look at the chart in this post to understand why loan guarantees and other government assistance are so important!!!)

This loan guarantee was pursued by both the Bush and Obama Administrations. Private sector investors – who put more than $1 billion of their own money on the line – also saw great potential in the company.

Also, from the DOE post, the reason it is important for government to do this:

Our loan program catalyzes American innovation and private sector investment behind promising companies -- so that American workers have a chance to compete against China and other countries that much more heavily subsidize clean energy companies.


The loan was 1.3% of the DOE portfolio.

Feds Refused to Bail Out Solyndra,

One day after the federal government refused to bail out Solyndra, the Fremont-based solar company announced it was filing for bankruptcy and shedding most of its 1,100 workers.

According to a memo released Monday by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, officials with the Department of Energy and Solyndra entered into negotiations "in the first few weeks of August" over a proposed financial restructuring agreement, but were never able to reach an agreement.

Resources

Think Progress has an excellent timeline of the Solyndra loan guarantee: Exclusive Timeline: Bush Administration Advanced Solyndra Loan Guarantee for Two Years, Media Blow the Story

Grist has a good story laying out how conservatives are attacking green energy. See The conservative game plan on energy subsidies

Grist also looks into the Bush adminsitration's efforts on behalf of Solyndra, in,Bush admin pushed Solyndra loan guarantee for two years.


This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

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Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:27 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

August 13, 2011

Leafs and Volts

In the last week I have seen six (Nissan) Leafs and three (Chevy) Volts in my area. I'm in Redwood City/Menlo Park, in the Silicon Valley area, so you would expect more rapid adoption of electric cars. (The very first Leaf sold in the United States was in Redwood City.) But still, this is more than I expected and a lot of the Leafs still have the dealer plates. So they were probably back-ordered and a shipment just arrived.

My aunt is considering buying a Leaf. I'm thinking of getting the new Ford Focus Electric. We have a 2007 Focus, and we love it. My Honda Accord is 11 years old now... and the electric Focus comes out soon...

Here's the thing about electric cars. Have you ever had to repair your refrigerator motor? Almost the only maintenance you'll ever need on an electric car is replacing tires and lubricating bearings. There is no water pump. There is no timing belt. No valves to adjust. No fuel filter. No oil changes. No exhaust system...

One more thing: Ford and SunPower announce deal to bundle electric cars with rooftop solar power Ford has teamed up with our own SunPower to offer a special deal on a rooftop solar system. The system doesn't directly charge the car -- the system feeds power into the grid during the day and you charge the car at night from the grid. You could make a profit on the power, by the way, if you only count the car-charging, but it will knock down your electric bill enough to pay for itself either way. From the story,

The "Drive Green for Life" program is designed to provide the cars' owners the opportunity to fuel their vehicles with clean energy and have a carbon-free driving experience.

SunPower will offer a 2.5-kilowatt rooftop system, which should provide enough electricity to fuel an electric car that travels about 1,000 miles per month, for less than $10,000, after the federal tax credit. Typically, SunPower charges at least $18,000 for a system of that size.

"This is a great opportunity to take solar mainstream," said SunPower CEO Tom Werner. "We're thrilled to provide electric car owners with a clean source of fuel."

So here we are, finally getting away from being tied to the oil system and the (literally) centralized power structure.

Update - Saw two more Leafs just this evening.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:45 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

June 13, 2011

Are All The Weather Events Connected?

Droughts, floods, fires, tornado swarms...

The most powerful climate video you’ll see all week:

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:46 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

March 25, 2011

Koch And Native-American Reservation Oil Theft

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

Just what is this Koch Industries? Should it be called a "company?" If so we need to re-think the idea of what a company and a business is supposed to be. Even the brother of Koch Industries owners David and Charles Koch called the company an "organized crime" operation.

Koch money is a key driver of the conservative movement. Almost every conservative-movement rock you turn over has Koch money crawling around under it. As the movement becomes more and more of a pay-to-play operation, conservatives of every stripe do more and more to protect and enrich the Koch operation. This has included blocking, disrupting and avoiding official investigations of accusations. It also includes funding front groups to advance the political and financial interests of the company and its owners.

Theft Of Oil From Reservations

Oppose The Future has the story of how Koch Oil was caught stealing oil from an Indian Reservation, reducing or removing the incomes of so many poor residents.

At some point in 1987, Thurmon Parton’s royalty checks for the three oil wells he inherited from his mother suddenly dropped from $3,000 a month to a little over $1,000. He and his sister, Arnita Gonzalez, members of the Caddo tribe, lived near Gracemont, Oklahoma, a town of a few hundred people on a small grid on the prairie.

Those modest royalties were the only source of income each of them had.

. . . What happened to Mr. Parton, Ms. Gonzales and Ms. Limpy had nothing to do with the wells or how they were producing. Their oil was being stolen. And all of the evidence pointed to the same culprit: Koch Oil, a division of Koch Industries.

This is an important story today because it helps us understand the nature of the Koch operation, which has so much influence over our politics and even livelihoods today. It also helps us understand why our government not only appears to be influenced, but often to be outright corrupted. From the story,

In the spring of 1989, a Special Committee on Investigations of the United States Senate’s Select Committee on Indian Affairs was formed to look into concerns that the path to tribal self-rule was impeded by fraud, corruption and mismanagement from all sides.

... Within a span of months, the Special Committee determined that “Koch [Oil] was engaged in systematic theft, stealing millions in Oklahoma alone.” BLM, even with a tip that Koch was behaving improperly, hadn’t done a thing.

Oppose The Future lays out the story and details of the oil theft. There is also story of the years following.

"A Broad Pattern Of Criminal Behavior"

Back in 1996 Business Week looked into the relationship between then-Senator and Presidential Candidate Bob Dole and Koch Industries and an apparent pattern of influence by the company, in BOB DOLE'S OIL-PATCH PALS. Here are some excerpts from their investigation, [emphasis added]

Koch has had a history of run-ins with the Justice Dept. and other federal agencies. In 1989, a special congressional committee looked into charges that Koch had routinely removed more oil from storage tanks on Indian tribal lands ... Dole tried to influence the Senate committee to soft-pedal the probe. Nevertheless, after a yearlong investigation, the committee said in its final report, "Koch Oil, the largest purchaser of Indian oil in the country, is the most dramatic example of an oil company stealing by deliberate mismeasurement and fraudulent reporting." The report triggered a grand jury probe. The inquiry was dropped in March, 1992, which provoked outrage by congressional investigators.

Then in April, 1995, the Justice Dept. filed a $55 million civil suit against Koch for causing more than 300 oil spills over a five-year period. Dole and other Senators, however, sponsored a bill ... that critics charge would help Koch defend itself ... legal sources say the government's ultimate goal is to use evidence in the two actions to establish that Koch has engaged in a broad pattern of criminal behavior.

... From Apr. 19, 1991, through Nov. 2, 1992, David Koch and the Koch Industries political action committee together contributed $7,000 to Nickles' campaign war chest. Around the same time, [Oklahoma Republican Senator Don] Nickles sponsored Timothy D. Leonard, an old friend of Nickles, for the post of U.S. Attorney in Oklahoma City. ... initially, questions were raised in the U.S. attorney's office about whether Leonard should recuse himself because Koch Industries purchased oil from wells in which Leonard and his family had royalty interests ... Then-Deputy Attorney General William P. Barr granted him a waiver to participate in the case ... In March, 1992, after an 18-month investigation, the U.S. Attorney's office terminated the grand jury probe and informed Koch it anticipated no indictments. ... As the grand jury investigation was winding down, Nickles sponsored Leonard for a federal judgeship. He was nominated by President Bush in November, 1991, and confirmed by the Senate the following August.

Business Week lays out the evidence in detail. The timing, with Republican administration/committee/agency/department after administration/committee/agency/department impeding and/or dropping investigations into Koch activities is also clear.

In 2000, CBS' 60 Minutes ran a segment, Blood And Oil And Environmental Negligence looking at the activities of the Koch brothers and their private company Koch Industries,

As we told you when we first reported this story last November, the Koch family of Wichita, Kansas is among the richest in the United States, worth billions of dollars. Their oil company, Koch Industries, is bigger than Intel, Dupont or Prudential Insurance, and they own it lock stock and barrel.

William Koch, brother of company owners David and Charles, called the company an "organized crime" operation:

Koch says that Koch Industries engaged in "(o)rganized crime. And management driven from the top down."

"It was – was my family company. I was out of it," he says. "But that’s what appalled me so much... I did not want my family, my legacy, my father’s legacy to be based upon organized crime."

In March, 2001 the incoming Bush administration repealed the "responsible contractor rule" that barred companies that chronically defraud the government and/or violate federal pollution, wage and other rules from receiving federal contracts.

Then, in 2002 the Bush II administration awarded Koch the contract to supply oil to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. (There were accusations that the government bought oil when prices were high, and sold it when prices were low.) The contract was renewed in 2004. Koch received tens of millions in other government contracts during the Bush years.

The story and timeline of the Koch operation (and its front-groups) go on and on, organizing and funding climate-denial front groups, front-groups run and funded by the Koch Brothers organizing and funding the Tea Party. (Please click the links.)

Think Progress in particular has been following the activities of this "company" and its front groups, and it is certainly worth taking a look. See REPORT: How Koch Industries Makes Billions By Demanding Bailouts And Taxpayer Subsidies (Part 1),

Koch funds both socially conservative groups and socially liberal groups. However, Koch’s financing of front groups and political organizations all have one thing in common: every single Koch group attacks workers’ rights, promotes deregulation, and argues for radical supply side economics.

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Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:52 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

March 13, 2011

On Nuclear Reactors

A year ago I wrote in favor of using nuclear energy to fight global warming. Here is part of what I wrote,

I believe that global warming is the most serious threat humanity faces. So we need to use every possible technology we can to replace energy sources that put greenhouse gases into the air. This includes nuclear energy.

One big problem with nuclear is figuring out what to do with the dangerous radioactive waste. But here's the thing, when we burn coal and oil we're just putting the dangerous waste product into the air and it is destroying the planet. So we can't make the perfect the enemy of the good -- nuclear waste is not destroying the planet and fossil-fuel waste is. We simply have to replace coal and oil as our energy source.

Climate change is an emergency. We need to do everything we can.

[. . .]

Make them safe. This means a highly regulated effort, not a free-for-all for profits. ...

Buy American. If we are building nuclear power plants we should regulate that they create American jobs...

Today someone asked me if I am still in favor of using nuclear energy. Here is what I replied:

Si, those 30-year-old reactors should not have been allowed to operate. The new generation of reactors can't melt down, and I think global warming is much more serious than most people think it is. So the trade-off is in favor of using nuclear as long as we stop using coal.

But I think a reactor has to be built and operated by a strong people-oriented government, with no profit considerations at all. Which we do not have.

So I don't see many governments I would trust right now to do that. Maybe Canada.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:11 AM | Comments (4) | Link Cosmos

March 3, 2011

Republicans Order Compostable & Recyclable Tableware Removed From House Cafeteria

I am old enough to remember Reagan ordering the solar panels be removed from the White House. Now this: From The "Too Petty For Words" File, Boehner Gets Rid Of Eco-Tableware In Congress Cafeteria | Crooks and Liars

R

eally, there's no depths to which the GOP majority will not sink. In yet another act of thumbing his nose at Democrats, John Boehner has ended the Green Initiative program in the Congress cafeteria, replacing all the eco-tableware with regular petroleum-based plastic ware and styrofoam.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:36 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos

February 1, 2011

The Big Storm

Massive storm begins trek across Midwest

"Milk, bread, toilet paper, beer," said Todd Vasel of the St. Louis-based grocery chain Dierbergs, who said pre-storm crowds were more than double the norm.

The basics.

Worst-ever storms, floods, temperature changes -- everywhere. But no, there is no climate change going on.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:22 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

January 10, 2011

Lose A Ton!

James Boyce: I’ve Already Lost A Ton This Year:

I am one of those people who should be quite willing and in fact, adept, at calculating my carbon footprint and then offsetting it. After all, CS NMS has clients such as NRDC and the Rainforest Alliance, and the environment is a true passion of mine. I also am a strong supporter of climate change legislation and everyone chipping in for good causes.

However, I have to confess — I have never offset my carbon emissions; and I haven’t even really come that close to trying if the truth be told. My biggest issue is that frankly it’s just too damm complicated; there are calculators to help you figure it out but you have to enter something in those calculators. They are not self-calculating and it takes a lot of work.

Can. Not. Be. Bothered.

So (drum roll please) when my friends at the Marion Institute launched a $7 Carbon Diet, that gives you the chance to offset just one ton of carbon emissions for just $7, I was happy. This I understand. This makes sense. I get it.


Go read the rest.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:03 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

January 1, 2011

Climate Disasters

Hottest Year In History Ends With Freak Climate Disasters | AlterNet

As greenhouse pollution continues to build in the atmosphere, 2010 is entering the history books as the hottest year on record. A year of unprecedented extreme weather disasters, 2010 is ending with yet more climate disasters, from floods in Australia to winter tornadoes across America:

Go read.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:50 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

September 20, 2010

Stop Eating Salmon?

The FDA is considering allowing stores to sell genetically modified salmon as food. Fine, if you want that, but what if you don't? No more salmon for you.

FDA rules won't require salmon labels,

The FDA says it cannot require a label on the genetically modified food once it determines that the altered fish is not "materially" different from other salmon - something agency scientists have said is true.

Perhaps more surprising, conventional food makers say the FDA has made it difficult for them to boast that their products do not contain genetically modified ingredients.

OK, got that? Not only are they allowing companies to not label this as genetically modified, they are blocking other companies from saying theirs is not modified. So there will be no way to tell, and your only solution is to stop eating salmon altogether.

Remember the health care battle? Predatory corporations were harming people and causing a huge societal problem. After the lobbyists go through with the bill we were all ordered to buy the product of those predatory corporations.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:22 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

August 1, 2010

Photos Of Oil In Gulf NOW

Today’s Photos Prove BP Oil On Gulf Surface | BPs Oil Drilling Disaster in the Gulf of Mexico

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:25 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

June 23, 2010

Literally Raining Oil In Louisiana!

See for yourself:

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:29 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

June 16, 2010

Obama: We've Been Outflanked, Cap & Trade Dead

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

The headline of my local paper today is Obama: Act on clean energy. (But a different headline online - do they do that just to mess up bloggers?)

In the speech the President paid homage to President Carter's efforts to change America's energy policies, saying,

For decades, we have known the days of cheap and easily accessible oil were numbered. For decades, we’ve talked and talked about the need to end America’s century-long addiction to fossil fuels. And for decades, we have failed to act with the sense of urgency that this challenge requires. Time and again, the path forward has been blocked -- not only by oil industry lobbyists, but also by a lack of political courage and candor.

Outflanked

Then the President said we have been outflanked on the coming green manufacturing revolution by countries like China,

The consequences of our inaction are now in plain sight. Countries like China are investing in clean energy jobs and industries that should be right here in America. Each day, we send nearly $1 billion of our wealth to foreign countries for their oil. And today, as we look to the Gulf, we see an entire way of life being threatened by a menacing cloud of black crude.

Cap And Trade Dead

In the Huffington Post today, Teryn Norris, Director of Americans for Energy Leadership writes that the President also signaled the death of cap and trade legislation,

Instead of using last night's prime-time opportunity to push cap and trade ... President Obama pressed the reset button on energy and climate policy, saying he was "happy to look at other ideas and approaches from either party, as long they seriously tackle our addiction to fossil fuels." He made no mention of setting a price on carbon or establishing an emissions cap and trade system.

Others are trying to get things done on this front. Norris discusses the emerging Innovation Consensus,

The energy innovation consensus currently includes dozens of Nobel Laureates, Breakthrough Institute, Brookings Institution, National Commission on Energy Policy, Third Way, Association of American Universities, Clean Air Task Force, Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, Google, and Americans for Energy Leadership, among others. The latest group to join is the American Energy Innovation Council (AEIC), made up of several of the nation's top business leaders: Bill Gates, Jeff Immelt, John Doerr, Chad Holliday, Norm Augustine, Ursula Burns, and Tim Solso. Last week, these leaders released a new report, "A Business Plan for America's Energy Future," calling for major new federal investment in clean energy technology RD&D -- at least $16 billion annually, more than triple the current level (see our news roundup).

Here is the problem. Action on energy requires direct government action and rejection of deficit hysteria to do it. But every single initiative of the Obama Presidency has been blocked by powerful interests, playing on the use of the filibuster on almost every major bill in the Senate. Health care reform was severely weakened by the pharmaceutical and insurance lobbies. Financial reform has been severely weakened by the financial lobbies. Jobs measures and further stimulus have been blocked by a strategic lobbying campaign to make people think the Bush-created deficit must be cut first. Now cap and trade may have been killed by the oil and gas lobbies.

We are in a direct confrontation between the big corporations and We, the People over who will run things and control the resources of the United States, and We, the People are losing. There is time to turn it around, but only if we recognize this battle for what it is.

Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:15 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

June 15, 2010

Obama's Speech - The Carter Context

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

"The moral equivalent of war."

Tonight President Obama will talk about the Gulf oil catastrophe, and, hopefully, overall energy and climate policy. A look back at President Carter's fight over energy brings some context to this situation.

On April 18, 1977, 33 years ago, President Jimmy Carter gave a White House speech on energy and asked the country to change direction.

"Tonight I want to have an unpleasant talk with you about a problem unprecedented in our history. With the exception of preventing war, this is the greatest challenge our country will face during our lifetimes. The energy crisis has not yet overwhelmed us, but it will if we do not act quickly."

Carter said solving this energy problem would be "The moral equivalent of war." Please, please read the speech, and its ten principles. It will help set the stage for understanding where we are today.

If we fail to act soon, we will face an economic, social and political crisis that will threaten our free institutions.

But we still have another choice. We can begin to prepare right now. We can decide to act while there is time.

That is the concept of the energy policy we will present on Wednesday. Our national energy plan is based on ten fundamental principles.

The first principle is that we can have an effective and comprehensive energy policy only if the government takes responsibility for it and if the people understand the seriousness of the challenge and are willing to make sacrifices.


We failed to act soon. And we face an economic, social and political crisis that threatens our free institutions.

It turned out to be a very, very hard fight. The right's new network of corporate-funded "think tanks" was setting up shop and beginning to spread their poisonous, divisive, anti-government propaganda. They didn't like the idea of government trying to solve problems. The big oil giants certainly didn't want government researching alternatives to their gravy train. We understand the right's operation today, but people did not yet understand what was going on because the country had never been subjected to a destabilization campaign of this magnitude -- from the inside.

You can really feel the effect of the right's campaign when you read a speech Carter gave two years later. On July 15, 1979, President Jimmy Carter gave what is called the "Crisis of Confidence" speech. It's also known as the "Malaise" speech. I consider it to be one of the great speeches by a President. Carter again talked to the country about energy policy, pleading with people to take this seriously. He said, "The energy crisis is real. It is worldwide. It is a clear and present danger to our Nation. These are facts and we simply must face them."

Well, we didn't face them. Instead the country elected Reagan who immediately took the solar panels off of the White House, killed mass transit and alternative energy programs and steered the country on a path of toward dominance by the wealthy and big corporations - especially oil companies.

Now it is 2010, we have been at war in the Middle East for years, carbon in the air is raising the planet's temperature and melting the Arctic ice cap, and ... the oil in the Gulf. President Obama is giving his first Oval Office speech this evening and all of this is the broader context. Will he take on the entrenched interests that defeated Carter and brought us Reagan and later the two oil-company executives who invaded Iraq, encouraged buying Hummers and left us with a $1.4 trillion deficit?

As Carter said, "It is a clear and present danger to our Nation. These are facts and we simply must face them."

Energy speech:

Crisis of confidence speech:

Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:47 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

June 3, 2010

Oil You Can't See Is Still Toxic

Gulf Oil Spill: Latest Federal Government Estimate Still Understates Oil Flow.

Where is our government?

ALSO, and this is important, see A Proliferation of Plumes?

... preliminary body of evidence suggesting that some of the oil — no one knows what proportion — is dissolving into the water and forming huge plumes of dispersed oil droplets beneath the surface. This is worrisome because it raises the possibility that sea life, including commercially important species of fish, could be exposed to a greater load of toxins than conventional models of oil spills would suggest.

The chemicals BP is using don't get rid of the oil, they make it invisible, but it is still there, still toxic, still killing aquatic life. This is one possible source of the giant "plumes."

We need monitoring craft to test for hydrocarbons in the water that have been rendered invisible, in order to assess the damage. Do you think BP will give Obama permission to do that?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:41 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Where The Oil Could Go

See this animation:

A detailed computer modeling study released today indicates that oil from the massive spill in the Gulf of Mexico might soon extend along thousands of miles of the Atlantic coast and open ocean as early as this summer. The modeling results are captured in a series of dramatic animations produced by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and collaborators.

[. . .] Peacock and her colleagues stress that the simulations are not a forecast because it is impossible to accurately predict the precise location of the oil weeks or months from now. Instead, the simulations provide an envelope of possible scenarios for the oil dispersal. The timing and course of the oil slick will be affected by regional weather conditions and the ever-changing state of the Gulf’s Loop Current—neither of which can be predicted more than a few days in advance. The dilution of the oil relative to the source will also be impacted by details such as bacterial degradation, which are not included in the simulations.


Through Mother Jones.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:02 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

May 16, 2010

Is BP Paying Royalties On All That Oil?

I think I figured out why BP won't let scientists measure the flow from that oil leak. They owe us royalties on any oil they take from the Gulf, so they don't want it measured.

BP has resisted entreaties from scientists that they be allowed to use sophisticated instruments at the ocean floor that would give a far more accurate picture of how much oil is really gushing from the well.

“The answer is no to that,” a BP spokesman, Tom Mueller, said on Saturday. “We’re not going to take any extra efforts now to calculate flow there at this point. It’s not relevant to the response effort, and it might even detract from the response effort.”

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:08 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

April 29, 2010

The Oil Economy & The Price

This post originally appeared at Open Left.

The disaster in the Gulf unfolds. It looks like this is worse than thought and is going to get a LOT worse.

A LOT worse: BP Oil Well Leaking Five Times Faster Than Estimated

A damaged BP Plc oil well in the Gulf of Mexico is leaking as many as 5,000 barrels of crude a day, five times more than previous estimates as the oil slick drifted the closest yet to shore, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

5,000 barrels is 210,000 gallons. This is turning out to be much, much bigger than the Exxon Valdez disaster.

How many times have you heard, "The private sector does everything more efficiently and effectively than government?" Right. Not this time. Leaking Oil Well Lacked Safeguard Device,

The oil well spewing crude into the Gulf of Mexico didn't have a remote-control shut-off switch used in two other major oil-producing nations as last-resort protection against underwater spills.

So once again the private sector screwed up and created a disaster that is way, way beyond private capabilities to fix things... and again it is government to the rescue: US military joins Gulf of Mexico oil spill effort. But government coming in after the fact to clean things up after the private sector created a major disaster is a very expensive way to do things. Maybe we ought to revisit that "government is bad" ideology that let's this kind of thing happen over and over again.

Anti-government ideology? Deregulation ideology? I wonder where it comes from? Well, all that Koch money you may have been hearing about, funding the Tea Party movement, funding the climate deniers, funding all that anti-government, anti-regulation crap -- that's oil money. Exxon, Schell and BP are in that mix as well.

This stuff follows a model developed by the tobacco companies to keep their franchise going after it became clear they were profiting from a product that was killing people. The model is to fund a political movement to throw as much smoke as possible in the air -- "doubt is our product" -- get people arguing about "personal responsibility" instead of our community responsibilities to each other, and turn people against government so it can't regulate. It works: tobacco still kills over 400,000 Americans a year and it's still legal -- and still very, very profitable. Revise and extend the model and you have today's conservative movement - a pay for play operation serving the biggest companies.

Meanwhile, here is one more reason the big corporations are opposing things like wind energy: Wind's latest problem: it ... makes power too cheap.

The key thing here is that we are beginning to unveil what I've labelled the dirty secret of wind: utilities don't like wind not because it's not competitive, but because it brings prices down for their existing assets, thus lowering their revenues and their profits.

Never forget the 11 workers who were killed.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:45 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

April 11, 2010

The Story Of Cap & Trade

The Story of Cap and Trade

From the people who brought you The Story of Stuff

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:43 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

April 1, 2010

Look Who's Funding Climate Change Denial

Go see. Koch Industries: Secretly Funding the Climate Denial Machine | Greenpeace USA

So when you hear from the Mercastus Center, Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute or a lot of other "think tanks" you're actually hearing from Koch Industries - a giant oil company.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:02 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

March 8, 2010

We Already Have A Huge Carbon Tax - But Oil And Coal Companies Get The Money

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture as part of the Making It In America project. I am a Fellow with CAF.

We all pay a huge "hidden" tax when we burn oil and coal. Oil companies get the money. This is holding our economy back.

Today when we burn oil or coal we put the toxic waste that results straight into the air. This causes damage to all of us, in many ways. First, of course, the carbon dioxide accumulates and over time causes the planet to get warmer, which causes the climate to change. Then there is the standard air pollution, smog, etc. that we are so familiar with, and the effect this has, especially on our health.

This pollution is a hidden tax on all of us. We don't make the oil and coal companies pay anything for the consequences of the use of their products. WE pay the price instead of them. They just get the profits. This is called socializing the costs and privatizing the profits. We collectively pay the price of the pollution. They privately get to keep the profits.

This failure to collect the cost of using coal and oil holds our economy back. By collectively paying this pollution price instead of adding it to the price of coal and oil itself, burning coal and oil appears to cost us less than it actually costs us. This makes it appear that other forms of energy are more costly, which discourages investment in these other forms of energy. For example, using solar panels appears to cost more than just getting electricity from the power company. But the power company is burning coal and the public-at-large is directly paying the price for the pollution. This subsidy for coal makes a kilowatt-hour have a lower price on your bill than what solar coasts. This coal and oil subsidy keeps solar power from getting the kind of investment it deserves, which keeps coal and oil on top.

Keeping the price of oil and coal lower than it should be keeps us dependent on oil and coal as our energy source. It keeps us from investing in now, more efficient ways to generate the power we use. It keeps oil and coal companies in charge of the direction of the economy. We should see this for what it is, and see the opposition to a carbon tax for what it is. Enriching an already-wealthy few is not what our public policy is supposed to be about.

So we need to set a "price" for burning carbon - a carbon tax - which makes its use reflect the cost of the damage it does and which we are all therefore paying anyway. Using a tax to add this cost to the price means that investors will find solar, wind, biofuels and other forms of energy production more attractive, and will develop these. And We, the People would get the money for use fighting the effects of burning oil and coal.

Another cost that we are paying is that this oil and coal subsidy is not in effect in the rest of the world. So in other countries investment in energy alternatives is taking off. They are becoming the leaders in the 21st century economy. When the price of oil and coal reflect their true cost the green manufacturing revolution will take off in our own country as well..

In January, Senator Lindsey Graham said,

“Every day that we delay trying to find a price for carbon is a day that China uses to dominate the green economy.”

This is the reason Jimmy Carter tried to wean the country off of oil and coal. We could have gotten started 30 years ago and by now could be well ahead of the rest of the world in green manufacturing. But the big oil and coal companies were able to stop the effort.

This is the reason that Al Gore tried to get a "BTU Tax" in 1991. We could have gotten started 20 years ago and by now could be well ahead of the rest of the world in green manufacturing. But the big oil and coal companies were able to stop the effort.

This is the reason President Obama is trying to get "cap and trade" passed today.

So we haven't gotten started yet. Senator Graham is right. We need to find a price for carbon -- instead of all of us just continuing to subsidize the oil and coal companies. They already have plenty of money.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:01 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

March 1, 2010

Green Jobs Are NOT A Myth!

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture as part of the Making It In America project. I am a Fellow with CAF.

Last week the Washington Post ran an op-ed with the curious headline, “The Green Jobs Myth.”

Oil and coal lobbyists everywhere, well-aware that most people only read headlines and a few paragraphs at most, were giving each other high-fives. You see, a headline like this “propels the propaganda” that anything remotely environmentally-conscious “costs jobs.” And being in the Washington Post, it signals that the “powers-that-be” are officially poo-pooing the concept.

The op-ed begins by setting up a straw man to knock down. It claims that the Obama administration has the “assumption that a "clean-energy" economy will generate enough jobs to mitigate today's high level of unemployment … and to meet the needs of future generations”, But seriously, has anyone, anywhere, ever said that new green jobs alone will solve the jobs crisis? Just asking.

The basis for the headline’s premise that green jobs are a myth was that installing smart electric meters means there will be fewer meter-readers employed. Well duh! But this op-ed -- with its curious headline -- uses some curious math to reach its conclusion that automating meters means fewer meter-readers will be employed. It claims that only 400 installation jobs would be created to install 20 million meters, 1600 if the rate of installation is increased. Huh? Then it gets better. To calculate how many meter-reader jobs will be lost it claims that meter-readers only read 30 meters an hour, causing 28,000 meter-reading jobs to be lost.

Now, I was already sold on the idea that automating meters means fewer meter-readers would be employed, but come on! Clearly the Post is betting that most people don't read past the first few paragraphs if they're thinking this kind of "let's play tricks with math" will just slip by.

Curiously, the op-ed doesn’t mention that people will be employed to manufacture these 20 million smart-meters! How many jobs will be created to manufacture 20 million smart meters? The op-ed doesn't say. perhaps saying how many would negate the curious title.

How Many Green Jobs Are There?

But never mind smart meters. If we’re going to talk about green jobs we need to talk about the jobs that would be created by:


  • retrofitting every building and home in America to be energy efficient, and the management, supply chain, transportation, tools, etc.

  • manufacturing, installing and maintaining wind turbines

  • manufacturing, installing and maintaining rooftop solar installations

  • manufacturing, installing and maintaining solar power generation facilities

  • everything associated with biofuels, geothermal power generation, nuclear power, advanced batteries, hydro power, carbon sequestration, carbon credit trading and transportation alternatives including building an advanced high-speed rail system connecting every major city in the country.

Think about the huge number of jobs all of this involves – and the huge payoff to our economy. And remember, these will all be in addition to the existing energy infrastructure, for now.

I suspect that the reason we see curiously misleading op-eds like this one in outlets like the Washington Post is that all of these coming technologies mean lower profits for the big, monopolistic oil and coal giants.

They can try to stop the green manufacturing revolution but it is coming. The question is, do we let op-eds like this one stop it from being Made in America?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:34 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

February 21, 2010

Create Real Jobs That Pay Off: Update Our 1970'S Infrastructure

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture as part of the Making It In America project. I am a Fellow with CAF.

One legacy of the Reagan tax cuts is that we stopped maintaining - and never mind modernizing - our infrastructure. As a result there is a LOT of work that needs doing. And there are a very, very large number of unemployed people. Hmmm...

There are so many more ways our economy suffers as the consequences of Reagan-era choices come home to roost. The current economic doldrums are in great part the result of Reagan-era choices:

* The deferred infrastructure maintenance and modernization that resulted from the tax cuts mean that our economy is no longer world-class. Bob Herbert has been writing about this problem for a while. From his most recent,

Schools, highways, the electric grid, water systems, ports, dams, levees — the list can seem endless — have to be maintained, upgraded, rebuilt or replaced if the U.S. is to remain a first-class nation with a first-class economy over the next several decades. And some entirely new infrastructure systems will have to be developed.
So here we are with a massive infrastructure deficit that is harming our ability to compete economically in the world. Just one example: China has 42 high-speed rail lines coming into operation connecting their major cities, and we are just starting our first one connecting ... Tampa to Orlando?

* The education cutbacks then are really hurting now.

* Energy. Cancelling all of Carter's efforts to solve our energy problems has left the economy dependent on last century's expensive and polluting energy sources and the monopolistic giants that control them.

* Debt. Tax cuts creating "structural deficits" have built up tremendous debt and the accompanying burden of paying interest on that debt and dependence on those who fund our borrowing habit.

* Militarization. We spend more on military than every other country on earth combined. The big defense corporations keep us from doing anything about it. Historically this kind of military spending and the resulting debt has ruined empires and kingdoms, and here we are.

* Government. Outsourcing/cutting/destroying/hating government and the commons has left us ill-equipped to catch up with China and others, and deal with monopolistic multinational corporate giants.

Schools, highways, power grid, ... everything. And all this work needs to be done on top of the need to retrofit all of our country's buildings to be energy efficient. Or we will just continue to fall forther behind. There is so much work that needs to be done. I wonder how the cost compares to the amounts that have been transferred to the very rich since the tax cuts started.

Hmmm... Let's see ... high unemployment ... lots of work that needs doing ... massive wealth accumulated at the very top ... hmmm... dot. dot. dot. And on top of that, there is all that evidence that past investment in infrastructure leads to great prosperity in the years following the investment ... dot. dot. dot. hmmm... Ideas are forming... connections are being made...

I can hear the shrieking from the "free market" conservative bunch now, just for thinking such thoughts: "But ... but .. that would be just WRONG to just ... give people jobs doing what needs to be done!!! and taxing the RICH -- the very beneficiaries of past infrastructure investment -- to pay for it? How can you even dare suggest such a thing???!!!"

Public works projects -- infrastructure. Example: In the 1950s, with top tax rates at 90%, we started the massive public works project that is the Interstate Highway System. How did that investment work out for our economy? How many companies benefitted from the ability to deliver trucked goods across the country in a short time? How did those top taxpayers do economically as a result of such investments?

Hmmm...

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:12 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

February 18, 2010

Yes, Nuclear

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture as part of the Making It In America project. I am a Fellow with CAF.

I believe that global warming is the most serious threat humanity faces. So we need to use every possible technology we can to replace energy sources that put greenhouse gases into the air. This includes nuclear energy.

One big problem with nuclear is figuring out what to do with the dangerous radioactive waste. But here's the thing, when we burn coal and oil we're just putting the dangerous waste product into the air and it is destroying the planet. So we can't make the perfect the enemy of the good -- nuclear waste is not destroying the planet and fossil-fuel waste is. We simply have to replace coal and oil as our energy source.

Climate change is an emergency. We need to do everything we can. This means we need to put up every windmill we can, every solar panel we can, every solar power plant, biofuel and geothermal facility that we can. We need to retrofit every building to be energy efficient, switch to electric cars, stop eating meat that is not grass-fed. We need to do research into finding ways to sequester carbon from coal. And we need to build nuclear power plants. What part of "everything we can" did I miss?

Please, let's make this a discussion. Please join the discussion and leave a comment with your thoughts on this.

BUT

As we proceed with this, we need to learn some lessons from the past. As we build a new generation of reactors there are some things that need to be clear from the outset.

Make them safe. This means a highly regulated effort, not a free-for-all for profits. Tax dollars are involved, and even if they were not public safety must be the primary focus. Newer reactor designs eliminate Chernobyl-style "meltdown" fears but we need close supervision by government. We need the government "meddling" and "interfering" and "snooping" every step of the way. We, the People need to be sure that every best practice is followed and no corners are cut to make a buck.

Buy American. If we are building nuclear power plants we should regulate that they create American jobs, not offshore in China or anywhere else. There are federal funds guaranteeing loans for these projects and they should specify that we Buy American. Use American –made components, right down to the steel. China's and other country's governments are helping their own economies, let's us help our own economy this time.

There are also safety concerns for Buy American. We need very close inspection of every component and material that is used in these plants. How would we monitor the manufacturing of the components and the quality of the steel if it is done outside the US? Do you remember the faulty welds in the Chinese components that shut down San Francisco's Bay Bridge last year?

Protect the environment. There is also the environmental impact of making steel in China and then shipping it versus making it here -- in our highly productive steel industry. China creates three times the greenhouse emissions when they make steel that our own steel plants create. This is one reason their steel costs less. What is the point of building nuclear to lower greenhouse gas emissions and using greenhouse gas-creating processes?

So I say Yes, Nuclear, and make sure that we use Big Government oversight to keep it safe, create American jobs and mostly to protect the environment.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:06 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos

January 29, 2010

America's Competitors Will Use Supreme Court Ruling To Block Our Green Jobs Effort And Close Our Factories

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture as part of the Making It In America project. I am a Fellow with CAF.

It's not personal, it's business.

The Supreme Court recently ruled 5-4 that George Bush will be President corporations can spend unlimited amounts to support or oppose candidates. Corporations! Since there are no restrictions on the citizenship of the owners of corporations foreign companies and governments now have a direct way to manipulate our laws and regulations.

Outside interests have been influencing American opinion for decades, but have not before this been able to directly support or oppose candidates. The Washington Times, Fox News, and other corporations with significant foreign ownership already work full-time to turn American public opinion against our own government. "Free trade" advocacy groups with funding from outside our borders work to get us to open our markets to imports that close our factories, outsource our jobs, lower our standard of living and drive us into ever-increasing debt. We have seen this with "grassroots" lobbying on important issues like climate change, trying to make people think that the science is a "hoax": see Grassroots’ Opposition to Clean Energy Reform Bankrolled by Foreign Oil, Petro-Governments.

But this new ability to directly support or oppose candidates offers a vastly more effective and immediate way for America's competitors to achieve their goals. What will they go after first? Of course a top goal of our competitors is to take down our manufacturing capacity -- the foundation of a country's economic power.

And, of course, this is exactly what is happening. Oil countries are already planning strategies to use this ruling to block our alternative energy and green jobs efforts. According to Think Progress:

For instance, Saudi Arabia has already signaled that the progressive effort to build a clean energy American economy is its “biggest threat”:

Saudi Arabia’s economy depends on oil exports so stands to be one of the biggest losers in any pact that curbs oil demand by penalizing carbon emissions. “It’s one of the biggest threats that we are facing,” said Muhammed al-Sabban, head of the Saudi delegation to U.N. talks on climate change and a senior economic adviser to the Saudi oil ministry. [...] Climate talks posed a bigger threat, Sabban said, and subsidies for the development of renewable energy were distorting market economics in the sector, he said."

Presumably because of the Citizens United ruling, Saudi Arabian-owned subsidiaries operating in the United States can now spend unlimited amounts advocating the defeat of candidates who support clean energy legislation. According to a ThinkProgress investigation, foreign-oil backed lobbyists in America are already instigating efforts to kill clean energy legislation.

What are we doing about it? What is our plan? Every other country has economic/industrial policies, but for one reason or another the American public has been persuaded that America should not have an economic/industrial policy of our own. We're bombarded with propaganda that says having a plan would be government - that We, the People thing - "interfering" with "the market." This ideology is like an anchor on our country, holding us back from progress.

We must rally and take back control of our democracy and our future. This Supreme Court decision must be countered with immediate legislation or it means the loss of so many things that we value. And we must develop an economic/manufacturing policy for our country's future. This time it's personal.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:28 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

December 12, 2009

Climate Change Denial

Aside from oil and coal companies, I can think of another group with a BIG stake in climate change denial and that is developers, property owners and realtors who are trying to sell coastal property.

Imagine what happens to the value of property that is less than 50 feet above sea level if people realize what is really happening?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:10 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

December 5, 2009

Climate Change, Kyoto, Copenhagen, China

I think this is a significant post from Natasha, who is on her way to Copenhagen to cover the climate treaty talks: Is China Still A Developing Nation? | OurFuture.org

The details of climate treaties are complex and wonky, but important. There is a "Clean Development Mechanism" in the Kyoto treaty, which helps developing nations get the money to develop clean energy sources. China qualifies as a developing nation, and has been getting the bulk of the subsidies. Is this appropriate? Read her post.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:32 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

November 27, 2009

Emails Prove Global Warming Scam!

Have you heard about the emails?

The emails prove that the ice isn't really melting. Those ships that you saw in the news crossing the Arctic in the summer were actually photoshopped, according to one of the emails. As were the satellite photos that show the ice receding. All the people who work with the agencies that run the satellites and process the pictures are in on it. That's all in the emails.

Also the glaciers that you hear are melting, the emails show this is a big scam. What they did was set up a distortion field around the area, and when you go look at the glaciers, the field distorts your vision and makes it look like the ice is going away, when really there is more ice than ever.

And the storms and floods? Those are in newspapers. So obviously the liberals are behind this. Don't believe it. It isn't happening.

The ice isn't melting. Greenland has more ice than it ever had. Those pictures and videos of water running from the melting ice -- the emails talk about how they are piping water in from other place to make it look like there is water coming from melting ice, but there isn't. It's all just a trick to make you think that what you are seeing in front of your eyes is real.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:53 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

November 11, 2009

Why Chinese Goods Cost Less

This is what "externalizing" pollution costs looks like: Amazing Pictures, Pollution in China | ChinaHush

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:37 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

November 10, 2009

Climate Denial and the Chamber

In James Boyce: Chamber Me This. some guy named James Boyce writes about the head of the Chamber of Commerce and their climate-denial efforts to prevent us from reducing CO2 emissions.

Did you know that Tom Donahue, head of the Chamber of Commerce, is on the Board of Union Pacific, which hauls coal, and prevents Board members from taking positions that conflict with the company's interests? James writes that Donahue got a million dollars from them.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:58 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

November 4, 2009

Business For Clean Energy

ABCE: American Businesses For Clean Energy

American Businesses for Clean Energy (ABCE) is a forum for leading U.S. businesses to register their support for swift Congressional action on clean energy and climate legislation.*

The ABCE mission is simple: Demonstrate large and small business support for Congressional enactment of clean energy and climate legislation that will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The ABCE initiative is open to any company or business association that supports Congressional enactment of clean energy and climate legislation that will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. By joining this initiative, your company makes a public statement urging Congress to act.

*ABCE does not evaluate specific policy proposals, and therefore does not express support for or opposition to any particular legislation or legislative elements.

American Businesses for Clean Energy

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:26 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

November 3, 2009

Fight Clean Energy Smears

Take a look at Fight Clean Energy Smears!

The site looks at the smears and front groups that are working to keep good climate policy from passing.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:09 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

October 9, 2009

Modern Governoring

This post originally appeared at Speak Out California.

What does it mean to be a "governor?" What does it mean to "govern?"

In the news, the Governor has threatened to veto 700 bills in an attempt to force the legislature to do his bidding on water policy.

700 important items all held hostage, trying to stampede and scare the legislature to do something in a hurry, while terrible scare stories circulate on talk radio and throughout corporate media. Does this sound like a familiar tactic?

Water policy is complicated because over many decades wealthy real estate developers bought permission to build huge swaths of housing in dry area, so water needed and needs to be piped in from  ... somewhere else. And huge agricultural interests make a lot of money using water that used to be heavily subsidized, meaning the people paid for the water and a few wealthy corporate interests pocketed the profits.

At the same time there is less water to go around.  We have had three years of below-average rainfall, which is possibly a permanent condition because of climate change (which Republicans deny is happening). And the destruction of the environment and fisheries and groundwater caused by past bad practices is catching up, so hard choices must be made.  Does our government protect the people, the environment, corporate profits?

So on one side of this we have giant corporations and the short-term profits they suck out of our communities and state, and of people who are where they are after being lured there for the sake of those short-term profits, and who eat the way they do because government had been "persuaded" (paid) to subsidize the water for the sake of those short-term profits.  People need water to drink even if they do live in a desert and need to eat and have gotten used to food that costs less because the water has been subsidized. (But maybe they don't need to water their driveways and nice lawns.)

On the other side we have the long-term interests of most of the people and of the environment.  See if you can guess which side the Republicans and the Governor are on?

Click through to Speak Out California

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:37 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

Eating Meat And Global Warming

Must read: Gut Check: Here's the Meat of the Problem

According to a 2006 United Nations report, livestock accounts for 18 percent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.

. . . Two researchers at the University of Chicago estimated that switching to a vegan diet would have a bigger impact than trading in your gas guzzler for a Prius (PDF). A study out of Carnegie Mellon University found that the average American would do less for the planet by switching to a totally local diet than by going vegetarian one day a week.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:46 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

June 29, 2009

Too Many People

Krugman: Betraying the Planet,

Temperature increases on the scale predicted by the M.I.T. researchers and others would create huge disruptions in our lives and our economy.

. . . In other words, we’re facing a clear and present danger to our way of life, perhaps even to civilization itself. How can anyone justify failing to act?

It doesn't affect people who are not here. If we see famine, mass migration and other mass-scale disruptions coming there is something we can do roght now to ease the suffering and that is conceive fewer people!

1) Conceiving fewer people means fewer people will be here to need food, hospitable climate, etc. If they aren't here they can't starve.
2) Conceiving fewer people means the use of carbon-releasing energy will be lower. So lower carbon emmissions, lessening the problem.
3) Conceiving fewer people means the people who are here have more resources available to them.
4) Duh!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:05 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos

April 22, 2009

13 Breathtaking Effects of Cutting Back on Meat

Please read 13 Breathtaking Effects of Cutting Back on Meat

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:55 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

April 3, 2009

The Startling Effects of Going Vegetarian for Just One Day

The Startling Effects of Going Vegetarian for Just One Day

If everyone went vegetarian just for one day, the U.S. would save:

● 100 billion gallons of water, enough to supply all the homes in New England for almost 4 months;

● 1.5 billion pounds of crops otherwise fed to livestock, enough to feed the state of New Mexico for more than a year;

● 70 million gallons of gas -- enough to fuel all the cars of Canada and Mexico combined with plenty to spare;

● 3 million acres of land, an area more than twice the size of Delaware;

● 33 tons of antibiotics.

If everyone went vegetarian just for one day, the U.S. would prevent:

● Greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 1.2 million tons of CO2, as much as produced by all of France;

● 3 million tons of soil erosion and $70 million in resulting economic damages;

● 4.5 million tons of animal excrement;

● Almost 7 tons of ammonia emissions, a major air pollutant.

There is much more there - go read!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:53 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

March 19, 2009

The Math Of A Sustainable American Way Of Life... or, How Much Less Do We Need To Consume To Avoid Global Ecosystem Collapse?

This article emerges out of a number I tossed out in a posting on Facebook a day or two ago, suggesting that the average American would need to consume something on the order of 5% of the resources they presently consume (collectively) if their standard of living were to be equalized with the rest of the world's population without destroying the planet's ecosystem (i.e., how much less would we need to consume for the rest of the world to be able to consume an amount equal to what we do).

A friend asked me where I got that number from, and I'm somewhat embarassed to admit (since I'm such a data driven person) that I can't actually recall at this point - I did the math in my head a while ago. I did some research for real numbers, mostly searches and reading on ecological footprint figures, as I vaguely recall basing the calculation on something along those lines; at this point, while the 5% number may actually have been based on some other metric entirely, the footprint metric seems the most reasonable one to use for the purpose of discussion.

A fair amount of reading leads me to believe that the best publicly supported estimates at this point aren't quite as severe as the 5% number I tossed out - according to myfootprint.org and earthday.net, the average American consumes approximately 5.3x the amount of resources required for sustainability. Therefore, we're looking to have to consume slightly less than 19% of the resources we currently use in order for the American standard of living to be "sustainable". Daunting, but not quite as daunting as 5% of the resources. Caveats below, however.

First of all, as noted in many articles, the footprint calculations are conservative -- meaning that they clearly underestimate, perhaps significantly, human impact on the overall ecology and thus the amount of resources that can be sustainably extracted to support our standard of living. How much of a "fudge" factor we need to incorporate into these estimates is unclear.

It's important to note, as well, that it appears that the percentage of the world's biocapacity devoted to sustaining non-human species under most of these "ecological footprint" measures is minimal... on the order of 12% (meaning humans would reserve 88% of the world's biocapacity for themselves alone) according to the "A Modest Proposal" article referenced below. Also, that 19% figure does not account for a projected world population increase on the order of 33% above current levels (6.7 billion to 9 billion by 2040), which turns that ~19% of current levels into ~15% (assuming a relatively static US population compared to overall world totals).

Nor do they account for degradation and loss of biocapacity over time, due to global warming or ongoing biological degradation.

Setting aside these caveats, I'd say that a reasonable and cautious estimate for sustainable and equalized world consumption, with a just and fair amount set aside for non-human species and recovery of degraded ecosystems and to account for population increase, is probably around 10% (rather than 5%).

On the other hand, it seems to me, intuitively, based on everything I'm seeing about how rapidly the world's ecosystem resources are being degraded, and the prospect of global warming affecting biocapacity, etc. that if we really want to be conservative, and have a good margin of error, we should be looking at something below 10%. Maybe not 5% exactly, but not too far from it.

Now, here's an experiment (and why I mentioned this in the first place): toss this number out -- be conservative, pick the 10% figure... hell, pick the 20% figure (with an aside to the effect that it's probably on the high side of what we should be targeting) -- into a group conversation with a bunch of liberal, ecologically conscious Americans and ask what the implications of this are, of the fact that even the most eco-conscious of them is living an unsustainable lifestyle, RIGHT NOW, and watch how rapidly the topic of conversation veers away onto other subjects (we won't even get into the reaction of other folks). I've done this several times, among my peers in Santa Cruz, and the results have been quite instructive.

If we, ourselves, can't even begin to conceive of how to reduce our impact on the planet to the degree necessary to achieve sustainability, what hope do we have for the rest of the world? Scary thought, eh?

References (all retrieved March 19th, 2009):

Ecological Footprint - article on Sustainable Scale web site

http://www.sustainablescale.org/ConceptualFramework/UnderstandingScale/MeasuringScale/EcologicalFootprint.aspx

Ecological Footprint Quiz by Redefining Progress

http://www.myfootprint.org/

Footprint Network article on WFF Living Planet Report 2004

http://www.footprintnetwork.org/gfn_sub.php?content=lpr2004

Footprint Calculator

http://www.footprintnetwork.org/en/index.php/GFN/page/calculators/

EarthDay Footprint Calculator

http://www.earthday.net/footprint/flash.html

Note: both calculators produced roughly equivalent results in my case (4.7x and 5.1x respectively, mostly due to the extreme number of miles I drive a year, around 36,000, mostly in the form of long distance commutes to client sites).

Culture Change - Overextension: our American way of life is not sustainable

http://www.culturechange.org/cms/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=124&Itemid=1

A modest proposal: global rationalization of ecological footprint to eliminate ecological debt

http://ejournal.nbii.org/archives/vol4iss1/0707-016.ohl.html

Ask EarthTrends: How much of the world's resource consumption occurs in rich countries?

http://earthtrends.wri.org/updates/node/236

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 10:19 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

February 24, 2009

Overpopulation

Here's a policy suggestion. There are too many people. Population growth is unsustainable. How about we phase out the dependents tax deduction for more than two children? Phase it out over, say, ten years. At the same time phase in some kind of extra tax for more than three children.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:44 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

February 23, 2009

Washington Post -- Own Up To It

File this under Why People don't Bother With Newspapers and their Aging Conventional-Wisdom Columnists Anymore

George Will must have a new client: Exxon. He wrote a column denying global warming, filled with stuff that was just wrong. Some of the "sources" he cited have demanded that the Post print corrections, because Will flat-out misrepresented their positions and reports.

The Washington Post and George Will refuse to print a correction to the misinformation.

Go read Think Progress: When will the Washington Post issue a correction for George Will's error-filled global warming denial column? They show that the aging Will is now recycling 1992 columns.

TPM Muckraker: Hiatt, Will, On Global Warming Misinformation: Talk To The Hand

Hilzoy at Washington Monthly, The Washington Post's "Multi-Layer Editing Process",

If Will actually read these two articles, it's hard to see how he's not being deliberately deceptive by citing them as he did. If, as I suspect, he just got them from some set of climate change denialist talking points and didn't bother to actually check them out for himself, he's being irresponsible.
Matthew Yglesias, Washington Post Stands By Climate Change Denialism,
This started as a problem for Will, his direct supervisors, and the Post’s ombudsman. But now that the Post as a paper is standing behind Will’s deceptions, I think it’s a problem for all the other people who work at the Post. Some of those people do bad work, which is too bad. And some of those people do good work. And unfortunately, that’s worse. It means that when good work appears in the Post it bolsters the reputation of the Post as an institution. And the Post, as an institution, has taken a stand that says it’s okay to claim that up is down. It’s okay to claim that day is night. It’s okay to claim that hot is cold. It’s okay to claim that a consensus existed when it didn’t. It’s okay to claim that George Will is a better source of authority on interpreting the ACRC’s scientific research than is the ACRC. Everyone who works at the Post, has, I think, a serious problem.
Ezra Klein at American Prospect: GEORGE WILL EMBRACES PALIN-ISM and WHERE DOES GEORGE WILL GET HIS GLOBAL WARMING FACTS?

And just out from Think Progress' Wonk Room: George Will’s ‘Global Cooling’ Column Is Almost Old Enough To Vote with Matter of Fact -- a PDF fact sheet from Think Progress

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:18 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos

January 19, 2009

A Metric For Right-Wing Opinion Influence

This poll measures people's understanding of global warming. I think it effectively measures the power and reach of the right's media machine -- on an issue campaign funded by Exxon. This is worth understanding as we go into fights for health care, etc. The insurance companies will learn from this and match Exxon's effort and poison the health care debate.

44% Say Global Warming Due To Planetary Trends, Not People,

Fifty-nine percent (59%) of Democrats blame global warming on human activity, compared to 21% percent of Republicans. Two-thirds of GOP voters (67%) see long-term planetary trends as the cause versus 23% of Democrats. Voters not affiliated with either party by eight points put the blame on planetary trends.

. . . While 64% of Democrats say global warming is a Very Serious problem, just 18% of Republicans and 33% of unaffiliated voters agree. Twenty-seven percent (27%) of GOP voters say it’s no problem at all, a view shared by 19% of unaffiliateds and only four percent (4%) of Democrats.

Forty-three percent (43%) of female voters also rate global warming a Very Serious problem, compared to 38% of men. Twenty-three percent (23%) of male voters say it is not at all a problem, but only nine percent (9%) of women agree.

Exxon wins.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:32 PM | Comments (5) | Link Cosmos

January 9, 2009

Local Food

We grow some of our own food in a small garden. Our garbage largely goes into a compost pile. This is in a regular neighborhood. So I thought I would pass this along: How You Can Start a Farm in Heart of the City,

Once you taste lettuce that actually has a distinct flavor, or eat a sweet tomato still warm from the sun, or an orange-yolked egg from your own hen, you will never be satisfied with the pre-packaged and the factory-farmed again.

. . . When you grow some of your own food, you start to care more about all of your food. "Just where did this come from?" we'd find ourselves asking when we went shopping. What's in it?

It's not just about flavor and health and quality. It's also about local control and about putting carbon into the air. Food that is shipped means carbon going into the air. Food from a giant supermarket is more money going to the corporate system and away from local farmers.

I stopped buying imported olive oil when I realized that this is something that is very heavy that is being shipped across the planet. What's the point of that?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:02 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

December 14, 2008

Nuclear Power

We may be approaching climate change tipping points, where the amount of warming to date causes increases in warming that can't be stopped. For example, Arctic ice reflects sunlight back into space. But as that ice melts the sunlight is not reflected, which further warms the planet, melting even more ice. As Siberian temperatures warm CO2 is released from the permafrost, which increases the warming.

One alternative to carbon-based fossil fuels is nuclear power. We can close coal plants that put CO2 in the air by opening nuclear power plants. But nuclear power plants create very dangerous waste, and we don't know how to safely store it. So it is possible that one day this waste might cause very serious problems. We can temporarily store it today, but it is possible that this waste can one way or another escape storage and harm people.

But here's the thing. The waste from burning fossil fuels is literally destroying the planet's climate today. We are simply putting it in the air, not safely storing it.

So the question is, do we offset waste that we are putting in the air today, that is destroying the climate today, with the potential future problems of waste from nuclear power plants?

Of course we need to be doing everything we can with wind, solar and other alternatives. But I believe that it is imperative that we stop climate change and we should be building nuclear plants as well.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:46 PM | Comments (9) | Link Cosmos

December 11, 2008

A Carbon Tax People Will LIKE

Suppose we place a tax on the use of fossil fuels. Anyone burning coal, oil, gas, etc. has to pay a really big tax for doing so.

Then suppose the government give every penny back to the public by giving the exact same amount to every person over 18*.

This means that MOST of us will get a check each year for much, much more than we paid to the carbon tax. AND it means that everyone will have an incentive to use alternative energy sources.

This is called a "revenue-neutral" tax because the tax money all goes back to the public. Since every dollar is returned this is not a tax increase.

*(Over 18 because we really, really don't want to encourage people to have more babies -- overpopulation is part of the problem.)

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:25 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

December 6, 2008

Ask GM About EV1

While I completely favor giving the auto companies a loan to keep them going, it must be under several conditions (including banning lobbying.) In the Congressional hearings on this Brad Blog wants someone to ask

What Happened to GM's EV1? Go read.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:20 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Oil Companies Score Another Lobbying Victory

Democrats Set to Offer Loans for Carmakers,

Seeking to end a weeks-long stalemate between the Bush administration and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, senior Congressional aides said that the money would most likely come from $25 billion in federally subsidized loans intended for developing fuel-efficient cars.
They got rid of the fuel efficiency funds. Great. Democrats cave, Bush and oil companies score another victory. For old time's sake.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:07 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

November 18, 2008

The Company Takes What The Company Wants

The candy store paupers lie to the share holders
They're crossing their fingers they pay the truth makers
The balance sheet is breaking up the sky
So Im caught at the junction still waiting for medicine
The sweat of my brow keeps on feeding the engine

Midnight Oil

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:54 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

September 24, 2008

CGI News Flash - Gore Calls For Civil Disobedience On Climate Change

At the Clinton Global Initiative Al Gore just called upon young people to engage in civil disobedience to prevent the construction of any new coal plants.

He also said that oil and coal companies funding the global warming deniers is a form of stock fraud.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:44 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

September 10, 2008

They've BEEN Drilling!

Republicans, paid by oil companies, have been shouting "Drill Now!" Well, it turns out that the Republicans have BEEN drilling all along! And pumping. (Was that over the top?)

Report: U.S. Oil Program Rife with Conflicts, Favoritism, 'Promiscuity',

Government officials in a program that collects royalties from firms drilling on federal land partied and had sexual relationships with employees of oil and gas companies; accepted lavish gifts including ski trips, sports tickets and golf outings; and steered contracts to favored firms, according to a two-year Interior Department investigation released today.

Investigators said they "discovered a culture of substance abuse and promiscuity" in the Colorado office of the program.

Also, Wide-Ranging Ethics Scandal Emerges at Interior Dept. ,
As Congress prepares to debate expansion of drilling in taxpayer-owned coastal waters, the Interior Department agency that collects oil and gas royalties has been caught up in a wide-ranging ethics scandal — including allegations of financial self-dealing, accepting gifts from energy companies, cocaine use and sexual misconduct.

In three reports delivered to Congress on Wednesday, the department’s inspector general, Earl E. Devaney, found wrongdoing by a dozen current and former employees of the Minerals Management Service, which collects about $10 billion in royalties annually and is one of the government’s largest sources of revenue other than taxes.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:46 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

August 26, 2008

Denver Convention, Transportation and Democracy - The Sheer Distance

One problem that many people attending this convention are forced to deal with is the sheer distance between events. First, getting from the airport into town is a very expensive cab ride with few other choices.

I was immediately struck that there is no light rail system out to the airport! I don't understand how a major airport near a major city could have been planned and built without incorporating light rail from the start. Of course, this was all done in the unfortunate oil/car-dominated era that we are all working to end...

In town convention events are vast distances apart. Even inside the security perimeter itself things are far apart. It is a long walk in the sun to get from the Pepsi Center to the Tivoli, where the Starz Green Room is. It is a very long walk from the Big Tent to the Starz Green Room. Etc.

Getting my official convention credentials this morning meant taking a cab for miles, to a hotel in another part of town. (Long lines, waiting, waiting...) And then there were no cabs available to take me back. Miles and miles... There was a free city "16th street mall" shuttle that helped part of the way.

So this is a problem with this convention. Having things far apart might be OK if there was some way to get from one place to another. You can't have a car here but everything seems to require that you do.

And of course in the larger picture this is the problem with the way America has built up its housing/mall/freeway infrastructure. You have to have a car, period, or you cannot participate in the modern America except in a few larger cities that have well-thought-out transportation. This requirement that you have a car imposes a certain cost on people. But there are plenty of people who can't meet those costs and are forced to drop out of participation. So look what happened in New Orleans when Katrina hit. Many people simply could not evacuate because they did not have their own cars, and there was no real transportation available otherwise.

America has created distances between people, classes, and even physical distance requirements that work against us in the long run. This kind of approach, where you can't participate if you can't afford your own car is anti-democracy. In the case of this convention, it was just dumb.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:14 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

August 14, 2008

California Leading On Environment ... Most Of Us Anyway

This post originally appeared at Speak Out California

Take a look at the California Climate Change Portal.

This website contains information on the impacts of climate change on California and the state's policies relating to global warming. It is also the home for the the California Climate Change Center, a "virtual" research and information website operated by the California Energy Commission through its Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) Program.

California Attorney General Brown recently announced the state will sue to block a huge Nestle bottled-water plant unless its effects on global warming are evaluated. Why bottled water? A recent Huffington Post piece by Diane Frances, Bottled Water: The Height of Stupidity talks about the bottled-water scam,

Bottled water is a joke, one of the biggest consumer and taxpayer ripoffs ever. I applaud California's Attorney General Jerry Brown who said recently that he will sue to block a proposed water-bottling operation in Northern California by Nestle.

. . . Not only do society and the environment pay an unfair price for this consumer hoax, but consumers are being hoodwinked. They are paying from 300 to 3,000 times more than the cost of tap water without any benefit.

. . . The water is usually not superior to "city" water or tap water, and is merely a big branding hoax by soda makers. In some cases, this "designer" water is drawn from tap water and labeled for suckers to buy as though it is a superior product.

. . . One expert estimated that the amount of petroleum -- used to make the bottles, transport, refrigerate, collect and bury them -- would fill one-third of each bottle.

These plastic bottles are creating landfill problems worldwide, and are washing up on beautiful beaches around the planet.

The state is also suing the Bush Environmental Lobbyist Protection Agency over its refusal to allow California to regular greenhouse gas emissions.

California will sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for "wantonly" ignoring its duty to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from ships, aircraft, and construction and agricultural equipment...

The lawsuit follows two similar ones this year by California in conjunction with other states on car and truck emissions and ozone pollution.

"Ships, aircraft and industrial equipment burn huge quantities of fossil fuel, causing greenhouse gas pollution, yet President (George W.) Bush stalls with one bureaucratic dodge after another," said Brown...

The state's legislature and courts are also leading in land use decisions. California Court Rules Land-Use Decisions Must Address Global Warming,
...a California court has rejected a proposal to build a controversial luxury resort and golf course, because the project's environmental study failed to analyze the project's greenhouse gas emissions.

. . . "The court affirmed what the California legislature made clear: that global warming must be addressed in land-use decisions,"...

In 2007 California passed Senate Bill 97, which affirms the requirement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from land-use decisions. In June 2008 California also provided technical guidance on how to properly calculate and reduce greenhouse gases. The California Environmental Quality Act requirements are in addition to the requirements of the California Global Warming Solutions Act and the governor's June 2005 Executive Order, which aims to reduce emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

Our labor unions are also supporting these efforts. California Labor Unions Support Global Warming Solutions: Green Jobs Seen as Future,
In California, building and construction trades unions have long promoted energy efficiency measures like retrofitting buildings for energy efficiency for their promise to reduce greenhouse gas emissions AND create high quality jobs.

. . . A recent op-ed published in the San Francisco Chronicle articulates California labor unions’ general principles when it comes to global warming legislation. In the op-ed, Art Pulaski, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the California Labor Federation, and Ken Jacobs, Chair of the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education, call for the California Air Resources Board to pay more attention to the key role California’s workers will play in restructuring the state’s economy to reduce its carbon footprint, and the impact this change will have on them.

Even our buildings are going green: California adopts nation’s first statewide green building code,

On July 17, the California Building Standards Commission announced the unanimous adoption of the nation’s first statewide "green" building code. The code is a direct result of the Governor's direction to the Commission and will lead to improved energy efficiency and reduced water consumption in all new construction throughout the state, while also reducing the carbon footprint of every new structure in California.

"Once again California is leading the nation and the world in emissions reductions and finding new ways to expand our climate change efforts," said Commission Chair Rosario Marin.

. . . These new statewide standards will result in significant improvements in water usage for both commercial and residential plumbing fixtures and target a 50 percent landscape water conservation reduction. They also push builders to reduce energy use of their structures by 15 percent more than today’s current standards. They also push builders to reduce energy use of their structures by 15 percent more than today’s current standards.

California remains a leader on protecting our environment. Well ... most of us, anyway. But some of us just can't get along...

Last year: Legislative Republicans Flunk Environment 101, League of Conservation Voters Says in 2007 Environmental Scorecard,

In fact, while Assembly and Senate Democrats averaged a commendable 94% and 89% respectively, Assembly and Senate Republicans averaged an embarrassingly low 5% and 9% respectively.

From May: Protecting Our Air and Atmosphere Against Republican Rollbacks in California,
Remember last year’s budget debacle?

California’s legislative Republicans held up the budget for more than a month as they tried to roll back environmental protections – and as everyday Californians rolled their eyes at the lack of leadership they showed.

Now, they’re at it again. They’ve already said they plan to postpone implementation of California’s Global Warming Solutions Act, roll back diesel pollution reductions and undermine the 8-hour work day.

From June: California Republicans Leveraging to Delay Emissions Caps,
A minority of Republican state legislators in California are trying to use their leverage in approving a past-due state budget to force a roll-back of the state's greenhouse gas emissions caps, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.
July: California Republican Party: Drilling Now Can Lower Oil Prices Today

Oh well. If you want a clean environment for your kids, you know what you have to do.
Click through to Speak Out California

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:24 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

August 5, 2008

Paris Hilton Responds To McCain

Paris Hilton responds to the McCain "Celebrity" ad. No, really, it really is Paris Hilton.

See more funny videos at Funny or Die

She has more actual energy policy than McCain!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:15 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

August 3, 2008

Exxon-Funded Washington Post Articles?

The Washington Post has an article making fun of the idea of global warming, that coincidentally manages to coincide with the oil industry/Republican Party "Drill Now" advertising campaign. Global Warming Did It! Well, Maybe Not.. It begins by mocking people concerned about the planet,

Somewhere along the line, global warming became the explanation for everything. Right-thinking people are not supposed to discuss any meteorological or geophysical event -- a hurricane, a wildfire, a heat wave, a drought, a flood, a blizzard, a tornado, a lightning strike, an unfamiliar breeze, a strange tingling on the neck -- without immediately invoking the climate crisis. It causes earthquakes, plagues and backyard gardening disappointments. Weird fungus on your tomato plants? Classic sign of global warming.
Here is an example of the logic of this piece,
Last week, we saw reports of more wildfires in California. Sure as night follows day, people will lay some of the blame on climate change. But there's also the minor matter of people building homes in wildfire-susceptible forests, overgrown with vegetation due to decades of fire suppression. That's like pitching a tent on the railroad tracks.
Right, building homes in forests causes the fire season to start several weeks early, the snow pack to be half normal, vegetation to be drier, and a vast increase in the number of fires.

Did Exxon pay for this article? SOMEone pays this guy's salary, for this awful, cynical, insulting stuff. Or has the writer just attended too many cocktail parties with industry lobbyists?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:25 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

Republican Party Hired To Sell Product For Oil Companies

The Republican Party's hiring itself out to the oil industry for this coordinated "Drill Now" campaign reminds me of an old joke. (I'll shorten it.)

Kentucky Fried Chicken comes to the Pope and says, "We'll give you $500,000 a year to change the Lord's Prayer to 'give us this day our daily fried chicken'." The Pope says, "No way." Then they offer $1 million. The Pope gives a long spiel about this is a sacred prayer, from God, etc. They give their final offer: $10 million a year.

The next day the Pope meets with his Cardinals and says, "The good news is I have brought us $10 million a year."

"The bad news is I lost the Wonder Bread account."

The other day I wrote,

This is a political party involving itself in a corporate product marketing campaign, for money. This "drill now" campaign is funded by oil companies, and is about giving them even more special government favors. It isn't a lot different from changing a stadium's name to "Enron Stadium" or Pac Bell park" etc.
This political campaign is in conjunction with an oil industry PR campaign to try to get the government to hand them even more drilling leases than the millions of acres they already have (and sit on without drilling). It came just as oil prices peaked and suggests that oil prices peaked in order to prime the public for this campaign.
Your modern Republicans -- A political party reduced to hiring itself out to sell product!

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August 1, 2008

Republican / Oil Company Joint Campaign On Drilling

I'm watching CNN and there is a report about the Republicans in Washington pulling a big stunt about drilling for oil. When the report ends, there is a commercial from the oil industry about why the country needs to drill for more oil.

It doesn't get much clearer than that. This is a political party involving itself in a corporate product marketing campaign, for money. This "drill now" campaign is funded by oil companies, and is about giving them even more special government favors. It isn't a lot different from changing a stadium's name to "Enron Stadium" or Pac Bell park" etc.

This political campaign is in conjunction with an oil industry PR campaign to try to get the government to hand them even more drilling leases than the millions of acres they already have (and sit on without drilling). It came just as oil prices peaked and suggests that oil prices peaked in order to prime the public for this campaign.

We have seen this before, involving Republican coordination with tobacco companies... It is very much like a consumer product launch marketing campaign.

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July 20, 2008

Energy Prices

I want to write about something Al Gore said yesterday about energy prices, at the Netroots Nation conference.

Oil is limited. There is only so much, and the amount you can get it out of the ground and refine on any day is limited. That means that the more you depend on it and use it the more the more the price goes up. It just has to go up and eventually run out.

Solar power, on the other hand, is a new technology, so it is expensive today. But the more demand there is, the more factories are built. That means that the more we depend on it and use it, the more the price goes down.

Let me add that once you install solar your ongoing cost is very low. With solar you stop sending those checks to the energy companies.

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July 19, 2008

Al Gore at Netroots Nation

Al Gore just surprised Netroots Nation by coming out to talk about energy and global warming during the Nancy Pelosi "Ask the Speaker" session.

Live streaming of this and all major NN events and sessions can be seen here: http://www.netrootsnation.org/node/982 (Note -- after the convention almost all sessions, including the smaller rooms will be archived and available.)

He's got this Johnny Cash thing going on:

NNGore.jpg

Trying to catch some of what he is saying:
On new drilling:

Old hangover remedy called "The Hair of the Dog" -- when you wake up with a hangover you just take another drink. That;'s what this idea is like.

The defenders of the status quo are the ones who have gotten us into this hole.

Am I the only one who finds it strange that our country is so often fooled into picking a remedy for a problem that has absolutely nothing to do with the problem we are talking about?

The machinery of distraction is hard at work. "Oh we can't switch away from oil, that would be unrealistic." In their view it would be far more realistic to just sweep off the end of the cliff.

There is an ability to mobilize public opinion, visit his website for The Alliance for Climate Protection. It is focused on this single objective. The We campaign. WeCanSolveIt.org

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June 30, 2008

A Good Catch At BuzzFlash

Drudge Report of June 2000 Shows Bush Blaming Clinton for High Oil Prices: $20 - $30 a Barrel!

Click through and go see.

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June 25, 2008

What Is A Revenue-Neutral Carbon Tax?

This post originally appeared at Speak Out California

My post on the NASA climate scientist the other day mentioned a "revenue-neutral" carbon tax.

Here is the idea: You tax carbon-based "fossil fuel" energy at the source: when oil or coal or gas is originally extracted and sold you tax it. Then you divide up that tax money equally and give it to each citizen.

Giving the entire tax back makes it "revenue-neutral" meaning exactly as much that is taxed is given back. This means that the net effect on the overall economy is neutral. But it promotes the use of renewable, non-polluting energy sources which overall has a very positive effect on the economy whether you worry about global warming or not. (A more energy-efficient economy means everyone spends less to get the same results.)

What would this mean to most Americans? A $200 per ton carbon tax would roughly mean a $9000 check to each American family each year. This check offsets any higher prices that might be caused by the tax. If you use less carbon-based energy you come out way ahead financially. If you use more you pay more. Economists say that 4/5 of us would come out ahead. Only the richest 1/5 would pay more. And THEY can pay less by CHOOSING to using less energy. (What would a $9,000 check mean for families in this economy?)

This creates a huge incentive for everyone to become more energy-efficient, which means your costs go down. If you are a business energy-efficiency means you increase profits. If you are a family it means you spend less on electricity and natural gas. it's the same idea as buying a Prius and then spending less on gasoline. But becoming energy-efficient means that those costs go away forever. If you install solar panels you never pay another electric bill. If you add insulation to your house your heating and cooling bills go down forever.

A carbon tax means that WE get that money, not the Middle East. It means that we have incentive to start building mass transit again. It means that research into alternative energy sources (killed by Republicans) gets started again.

AND it means that we are putting less and less carbon into the air.

You can learn more at the Carbon Tax Center.

Click through to Speak Out California

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June 23, 2008

NASA's Climate Scientist Says Try Oil CEOs For Crimes Against Humanity

This is one of the most important things to read in a very long time. NASA climate scientist Dr. James Hansen spells out just how close we are to global warming tipping points. Then he says that CEOs of oil companies should be tried for crimes against humanity for spreading propaganda that is intended to boost their own wealth at the expense of the rest of us and the planet.

Dr. James Hansen: Twenty Years Later: Tipping Points Near on Global Warming:

Special interests have blocked transition to our renewable energy future. Instead of moving heavily into renewable energies, fossil companies choose to spread doubt about global warming, as tobacco companies discredited the smoking-cancer link. Methods are sophisticated, including disguised funding to shape school textbook discussions.

CEOs of fossil energy companies know what they are doing and are aware of long-term consequences of continued business as usual. In my opinion, these CEOs should be tried for high crimes against humanity and nature. If their campaigns continue and "succeed" in confusing the public, I anticipate testifying against relevant CEOs in future public trials

Conviction of ExxonMobil and Peabody Coal CEOs will be no consolation, if we pass on a runaway climate to our children. Humanity would be impoverished by ravages of continually shifting shorelines and intensification of regional climate extremes. Loss of countless species would leave a more desolate planet.

Hansen says we need a big tax on fossil fuels, but that the tax be entirely given back as a dividend, equal amounts to each person.

Here is how it works. Let's say you collect $280 billion in CO2 taxes. You then give a $1000 check to each American. People who spend less than that in CO2 taxes benefit. People who spend more than that are given a huge incentive to cut back or switch to other forms of energy.

It is a great idea. It is one answer to the problem. It benefits everyone except the big polluters. Exxon will fight that tooth an nail.

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Driving 55 Saves Gas And Is Safer

You can save a lot of gas by driving at 55 on the highway. It's also a lot safer. And unless you are traveling a long distance, it doesn't add much time to your journey.

Many people don't know this, and the oil company executives who currently run our government certainly won't tell you. They'll instead tell you the government should let the oil companies have more free leases of our land so they can make a bunch more money -- all at our expense.

In the 1970s it was common knowledge that driving at 55mph saves a lot on gas. In fact, at one point the national speed limit on the freeways was lowered to 55, and it did reduce our oil imports a great deal. But in 1980 the Republicans got into office and stopped all of the energy efficiency activities of the government. They stopped all of the mass transit projects, too. Ronald Reagan's very first act as President was removing the solar equipment that President Carter had installed on the roof of the White House.

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May 25, 2008

Today's Global Warming Post - Wildfires In May

I live in the San Francisco Bay Are, a ways north of the Santa Cruz Mountains wildfire that you may or may not have been hearing about. The air here is smoky and my asthma is bad. It's a big fire and is nowhere near controlled. (A house my wife lived in for nine years may have burned down, and is very close to where the fire started.)

Here's the thing about this fire -- It is MAY! From the story, Summit fire burns into Santa Clara County after wind shift,

"There have been several fires here, dating back to the '50s. What is shocking this year is that it's so early," said Steve Peterson...
Yes, shocking. Wildfires in May. And even though we had plenty of rain this year the mountains have insufficient snowpack to provide water through the year because of warmer temperatures.

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May 22, 2008

Private Greed vs. Public Good

This post originally appeared at Speak Out California

As I wrote the other day, the California Chamber of Commerce has come out with their annual list of "job-killer" bills. The list only targets bills by Democrats, and the bills are all acts that would help the people of California by improving the environment, worker wage and safety, public health, etc.

The California Chamber of commerce is a lobbying association. They represent their members: businesses, many of which are large corporations. This is about private greed vs. the public good. The Chamber's job is to convince the legislature to pass laws that enrich the owners of the corporations that fund them. Nothing more, nothing less.

If that involves convincing the public of something, then they do that. Hence the label "job killer."

But the companies represented by the Chamber are the real job killers. They outsource jobs to other countries. They lay people off when they calculate it will maximize their profits. They employ as many people as needed to maximize the income to and wealth of their owners. Nothing more, nothing less.

The very idea that the Chamber of Commerce would care if something is a "job killer" is ludicrous when you understand their function. They are a lobbying association that represents the interests of companies that eliminate as many jobs as they want to, at their discretion, and then use some of the money that would have been paid in salaries to pay the Chamber to convince us to support their interests -- and the rest of it to enrich themselves, which is their primary interest.

That is how corporations work in the modern, "free-market" world that we find ourselves in since the Reagan era. Not for the public benefit, not necessarily even for the company's benefit, but for the financial benefit of the executives and (some of) the owners of the company.

Private greed vs. public good. Nothing more, nothing less.

So there isn't really an argument about whether the "job-killer" bills on this year’s list really do or do not "kill jobs." That is not the point of the label. Instead it is up to us to understand who we are hearing from. If we get caught up in arguing about whether these bills create more jobs than they might cost, we’re missing the point. Their arguments are propaganda with no basis in reality, designed to do nothing more than sway opinion. The point of the "job-killer" label is to make people afraid for their jobs, not to actually argue that these bills will or will not actually "kill" any jobs.

For example, a bill to require energy efficiency in new housing construction obviously creates many new jobs in the new, innovative "green" industries. But such a bill might lower the profits that go into the pockets of the executives and owners of some of the companies that the California Chamber of Commerce represents. (The LA Times on Wednesday said the Chamber’s agenda "seems dominated by development and energy interests".) And, again, it is irrelevant whether the bill might or might not really cost jobs in some of those companies. The Chamber doesn't care. That is not their function.

The use of the label "job killers" is about scaring the public. Nothing more, nothing less. It is about fear. It is about creating a climate in which people who are afraid for their jobs will go along with measures designed to enrich the owners of the companies that the Chamber -- a lobbying association -- represents.

So please don't be fooled. Don't be swayed by propaganda designed to make you afraid. As I wrote above, it is up to us to understand who we are hearing from.

Click through to Speak Out California

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May 14, 2008

Do Republicans Believe In Free Markets?

This post originally appeared at Speak Out California

A news story on Monday, McCain urges free-market principles to reduce global warming. Which"free-market principles" does McCain mean?

McCain's major solution is to implement a cap-and-trade program on carbon-fuel emissions, like a similar program in the Clean Air Act that was used to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions that triggered acid rain.
Summary: the government sets a limit on how much CO2 companies will be allowed to emit. The government sets a fee for any emissions above that level. The government allows companies with emissions below that limit to sell "credits" to companies above the limit.

McCain describes this as a "free market" approach.

Conservatives always come up with nice-sounding ways to describe their ideas. They talk about "free markets." "Free" sounds so good. Has a nice ring to it. But is there really such a thing?

In McCain's example every single component of this market is defined, set up and regulated by government. But conservatives always say that government is the enemy of freedom and of markets. Do they not see the contradiction?

In fact, is there a market that is not defined, set up and regulated by government? Would markets even exist if there were no government? First, there is the money that is exchanged in a market. Unless we revert to a pure barter system where goods are exchanged money is entirely a creation of government. And it is entirely regulated by government. Next are the laws that, excuse the word, "govern" the market system. These laws are entirely a creation of government and it is government that enforces them and government that runs the courts that resolve disputes. And yes, these laws are "regulations."

So when conservatives complain about "government" and "regulation" and advocate "free markets" what is it they are really saying? The best way to understand what they want is to look at what they do, not what they say. If we look closely at the results of those times when conservatives gain power we can see that they really seem to mean they will use the power of government to protect the wealthiest people and biggest corporations.

For example, conservatives in government have always defended the big energy companies against threats to use of their products. They oppose mass transit, alternative energy research, even requiring cars to get better gas mileage.

A closer look reveals that what they really stand for is a protection of the status quo, defending the rich and powerful against the rest of us.

Click through to Speak Out California

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May 13, 2008

Buy High, Sell Low

Bush insists on buying oil for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve at very, very, very high prices. Congress is trying to stop this.

Question, has there been a pattern of buying at high prices and selling at low prices? An enterprising investigative report might find a story here.

Is this a manipulation of oil prices, to the benefit of funders of the right and the anti-Gore global warming denial industry?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:47 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

April 30, 2008

Industrial Agriculture Bad

A new independent report by the Pew Charitable Trusts and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health says that the big industrial penal colonies for animals are causing long-term harm people and the planet. Never mind the horror inflicted on the animals and on our souls.

See You Animals! | Grist

The report (PDF) is: Putting Meat on the Table: Industrial Farm Animal Production in America

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April 10, 2008

Al Gore - New Slide Show

Al Gore: New thinking on the climate crisis (video)

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Boycott Wyoming

Until a few days ago wolves were protected by the Endangered Species Act. The reintroduction of the wolves meant a restoration of the natural habitat. For example, elk herds learned to be more cautious, ate less of the vegetation in a single place, allowing beaver populations to recover, causing morewetland marshes to return, restoring bird habitats. Etc.

But the Bush administration, in their typical wisdom, removed that protection and the killing has started. So Wyoming is now allowing wolves to be shot on sight, no questions asked. Why give them your money.

A few days ago: Wolves lose protection,

Gray wolves in the Greater Yellowstone Area no longer enjoy the protection of the Endangered Species Act, but the delisting could be temporary if conservation groups successfully challenge the decision later this spring.

. . . In Wyoming, wolves are considered predators in roughly 88 percent of the state and can be killed by anyone using any means without a license.

Wolf kills reach at least 10,
At least 10 gray wolves have now been killed in Wyoming since the animals were removed from the federal endangered species list.

All of the canines have been killed in the state's new wolf predator management area, where it is now legal to shoot the animals on sight. All 10 have been taken in Sublette County.

See also Wyoming's wolf policies prompt call for boycott

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March 25, 2008

Seen Bees?

I saw a honeybee this weekend. A week before that i saw two. That's it.

It's flower season in California. Usually we would be swarming with bees. So far this year I have seen three honeybees.

How about you? Seen any bees?

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February 19, 2008

Green Business -- W/Schedule Correction

I had a very short conversation with Gary Hirshberg, "Chairman, President and CE-Yo" of Stonyfield Farm, the organic dairy. Gary has a book out, Stirring It Up: How to Make Money and Save the World, in which he uses his 25 years of experience to "try to shatter the myth that environment and commerce are in conflict."

Gary was boarding a delayed plane so we didn't get a chance to talk for long, but the plane is coming to my area of California so we're going to try to pick up the conversation in person. I'll write more then, but I wanted to let you know that he will be talking about the book tonite in San Francisco and also tomorrow at a couple of locations: (See this link)

February 19th Commonwealth Club, San Francisco, CA, 5:15 reception, 5:45 program, tickets required.
February 20th University of California at Berkeley – Hass School of Business, 12PM. NOT AT Stanford University, Stanford, CA, 12PM as previously posted
February 20th Book Passage Bookstore, Corte Madera, CA, 7PM

If you get a chance, stop by and hear him talk about the book.

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February 7, 2008

Why Does Kleenex Use Old-Growth?

Kleenex is made from old growth trees! Why doesn't Kimberly-Clark switch to sustainable logging, instead of clear-cutting down old-growth trees to make their products?

We all need to move them to change. Go see: Kleercut.Net | Kimberly-Clark and Kleenex are wiping away ancient forests and the "How you can help"items in the right column.

Watch this video:

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January 20, 2008

EPA Refuses To Say WHY It Denied California Emission Waiver

EPA won't give details on denying emissions waiver,

Invoking executive privilege, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency refused to provide lawmakers Friday with a full explanation of why it rejected California's greenhouse gas regulations.

. . . The refusal to provide a full explanation is the latest twist in a congressional investigation into why the EPA denied California permission to impose what would have been the country's toughest greenhouse gas standards on cars, trucks and sport utility vehicles.

In denying the waiver last month, EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson told Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger that the federal government is implementing a national fuel efficiency standard.

Johnson's decision spurred congressional investigations and a legal challenge this month by California and 15 other states.

But we know why they did it. They did it because the oil companies are paying the Republican Party. DUH!

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January 17, 2008

A National Security Levy on Oil

Update Jay Buckey has posted this as a DailyKos diary. I suggest giving it a recommend to get this idea into discussion.

I just came across this. Jay Buckey is running for the Senate in New Hampshire, and he just came out with a proposal to put a National Security Levy on Oil so WE, THE PEOPLE benefit from high oil prices, instead of just sending all that money to others. Go see his post on this over at the progressive blog Blue Hampshire: Taking Back Our Future and Our Freedom: A Policy Proposal. Excerpts:

Right now, every time we fill up our cars, we're sending money to foreign countries -- where roughly 60 percent of the more than 20 million barrels of oil we use everyday is produced. It's like they're taxing us, for their benefit.

Some of those countries, like Canada, are close allies, but others aren't. And whenever we put a gallon of gas in our cars, we're using our hard-earned dollars to help fund foreign oil producers in the Mideast, in Russia, and elsewhere.

Moreover, OPEC and other oil-producing countries have been able to lower and raise oil prices like puppeteers pulling the strings. Alternative energy companies have often failed when oil prices were low; American consumers - especially lower-income citizens - have been stretched almost to the breaking point when prices spike.

It's time to put a stop to this.

The National Security Levy will move us toward energy independence and secure the future of our country for our children.

Here's how it will work: the National Security Levy will be a fee on all oil consumption in the United States - combined with a price floor that guarantees oil will not sink below a certain price.

. . . If the world price of oil falls, the National Security Levy will be increased, so that the price in the US remains above a certain established floor. This means that alternative energy producers won't be wiped out by temporary declines in world oil prices, as happened in the 1980s; they'll know that the price of oil in the US would not be allowed to fall below the floor price.

If, however, the price of world oil spikes dramatically, then the National Security Levy would be suspended during the spike.

I love this. A levy, so WE, THE PEOPLE get the benefit of the price fluctuations, either through a tax that we can use to pay for important things like schools, or through alternative energy incentives!

This guy is great. Go read. Here is his campaign site. If you agree that WE THE PEOPLE should be receiving the benefits from the high oil prices, instead of others, give him a few bucks. In fact, give Jay a few Buckeys!

A bit more from Jay's post,

But you might ask, if a National Security Levy on oil is such a great idea, why isn't it already in place? Well, the basic idea isn't new, but according to conventional wisdom a serious proposal like this is politically unacceptable.

I believe that for too long the politicians in Washington have underestimated the will and determination of the American people. I believe that Americans are ready to change, ready to make a commitment to our future, and ready to work to make that future a reality.

And I believe that what is truly unacceptable is to have American servicemen and women risking their lives overseas -- in part to protect our access to oil -- and yet not do everything we can here in New Hampshire and across the country to end our dependence on foreign oil. We need to take positive action to protect our nation's security and our future.


Disclaimer - I am not working for Jay Buckey but might do so later on. I wrote this because I strongly agree.

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January 16, 2008

Bush Says Will Veto Mine Safety

Lest anyone ever forget just who Republicans represent: Bush threatens to veto House mine-safety bill.

The House just passed a bill to strengthen mine safety. Mine owners complained to Bush this will cost them some money.

Among other things, the new legislation would grant stronger enforcement powers to the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration, require closer monitoring of a dangerous practice called retreat mining and provide for independent investigations when more than one miner is killed in an accident.

Mine operators also would be required to use new coal-dust monitors, worn by miners, to reduce exposure to coal dust, which causes black-lung disease.

So Bush will go with the mine OWNERS (rich people) instead of the WORKERS (the rest of us).

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:44 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

January 7, 2008

New - Sustain newsladder

The Sustain newsladder is the newest addition to the Newsladder family. This newsladder focuses on sustainability, environment, ecology, etc. Go take a look.

The way the newsladders work is you sign up, then add and recommend stories. The top recommended stories appear in the newsladder feeds - there are a few in the right column here.

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December 20, 2007

Stuff

Go watch The Story of Stuff. I'm not asking, I'm telling.

What is the Story of Stuff?

From its extraction through sale, use and disposal, all the stuff in our lives affects communities at home and abroad, yet most of this is hidden from view. The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. It'll teach you something, it'll make you laugh, and it just may change the way you look at all the stuff in your life forever.

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December 10, 2007

Al Gore Speech Accepting The Nobel Peace Prize

Think Progress サ Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech, Al Gore, 12/10/07

SPEECH BY AL GORE ON THE ACCEPTANCE

OF THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE

DECEMBER 10, 2007

OSLO, NORWAY

Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, Honorable members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen.

I have a purpose here today. It is a purpose I have tried to serve for many years. I have prayed that God would show me a way to accomplish it.

Sometimes, without warning, the future knocks on our door with a precious and painful vision of what might be. One hundred and nineteen years ago, a wealthy inventor read his own obituary, mistakenly published years before his death. Wrongly believing the inventor had just died, a newspaper printed a harsh judgment of his life’s work, unfairly labeling him “The Merchant of Death” because of his invention — dynamite. Shaken by this condemnation, the inventor made a fateful choice to serve the cause of peace.

Seven years later, Alfred Nobel created this prize and the others that bear his name.

Seven years ago tomorrow, I read my own political obituary in a judgment that seemed to me harsh and mistaken — if not premature. But that unwelcome verdict also brought a precious if painful gift: an opportunity to search for fresh new ways to serve my purpose.

Unexpectedly, that quest has brought me here. Even though I fear my words cannot match this moment, I pray what I am feeling in my heart will be communicated clearly enough that those who hear me will say, “We must act.”

The distinguished scientists with whom it is the greatest honor of my life to share this award have laid before us a choice between two different futures — a choice that to my ears echoes the words of an ancient prophet: “Life or death, blessings or curses. Therefore, choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.”

We, the human species, are confronting a planetary emergency — a threat to the survival of our civilization that is gathering ominous and destructive potential even as we gather here. But there is hopeful news as well: we have the ability to solve this crisis and avoid the worst — though not all — of its consequences, if we act boldly, decisively and quickly.

However, despite a growing number of honorable exceptions, too many of the world’s leaders are still best described in the words Winston Churchill applied to those who ignored Adolf Hitler’s threat: “They go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all powerful to be impotent.”

So today, we dumped another 70 million tons of global-warming pollution into the thin shell of atmosphere surrounding our planet, as if it were an open sewer. And tomorrow, we will dump a slightly larger amount, with the cumulative concentrations now trapping more and more heat from the sun.

As a result, the earth has a fever. And the fever is rising. The experts have told us it is not a passing affliction that will heal by itself. We asked for a second opinion. And a third. And a fourth. And the consistent conclusion, restated with increasing alarm, is that something basic is wrong.

We are what is wrong, and we must make it right.

Last September 21, as the Northern Hemisphere tilted away from the sun, scientists reported with unprecedented distress that the North Polar ice cap is “falling off a cliff.” One study estimated that it could be completely gone during summer in less than 22 years. Another new study, to be presented by U.S. Navy researchers later this week, warns it could happen in as little as 7 years.

Seven years from now.

In the last few months, it has been harder and harder to misinterpret the signs that our world is spinning out of kilter. Major cities in North and South America, Asia and Australia are nearly out of water due to massive droughts and melting glaciers. Desperate farmers are losing their livelihoods. Peoples in the frozen Arctic and on low-lying Pacific islands are planning evacuations of places they have long called home. Unprecedented wildfires have forced a half million people from their homes in one country and caused a national emergency that almost brought down the government in another. Climate refugees have migrated into areas already inhabited by people with different cultures, religions, and traditions, increasing the potential for conflict. Stronger storms in the Pacific and Atlantic have threatened whole cities. Millions have been displaced by massive flooding in South Asia, Mexico, and 18 countries in Africa. As temperature extremes have increased, tens of thousands have lost their lives. We are recklessly burning and clearing our forests and driving more and more species into extinction. The very web of life on which we depend is being ripped and frayed.

We never intended to cause all this destruction, just as Alfred Nobel never intended that dynamite be used for waging war. He had hoped his invention would promote human progress. We shared that same worthy goal when we began burning massive quantities of coal, then oil and methane.

Even in Nobel’s time, there were a few warnings of the likely consequences. One of the very first winners of the Prize in chemistry worried that, “We are evaporating our coal mines into the air.” After performing 10,000 equations by hand, Svante Arrhenius calculated that the earth’s average temperature would increase by many degrees if we doubled the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Seventy years later, my teacher, Roger Revelle, and his colleague, Dave Keeling, began to precisely document the increasing CO2 levels day by day.

But unlike most other forms of pollution, CO2 is invisible, tasteless, and odorless — which has helped keep the truth about what it is doing to our climate out of sight and out of mind. Moreover, the catastrophe now threatening us is unprecedented — and we often confuse the unprecedented with the improbable.

We also find it hard to imagine making the massive changes that are now necessary to solve the crisis. And when large truths are genuinely inconvenient, whole societies can, at least for a time, ignore them. Yet as George Orwell reminds us: “Sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield.”

In the years since this prize was first awarded, the entire relationship between humankind and the earth has been radically transformed. And still, we have remained largely oblivious to the impact of our cumulative actions.

Indeed, without realizing it, we have begun to wage war on the earth itself. Now, we and the earth’s climate are locked in a relationship familiar to war planners: “Mutually assured destruction.”

More than two decades ago, scientists calculated that nuclear war could throw so much debris and smoke into the air that it would block life-giving sunlight from our atmosphere, causing a “nuclear winter.” Their eloquent warnings here in Oslo helped galvanize the world’s resolve to halt the nuclear arms race.

Now science is warning us that if we do not quickly reduce the global warming pollution that is trapping so much of the heat our planet normally radiates back out of the atmosphere, we are in danger of creating a permanent “carbon summer.”

As the American poet Robert Frost wrote, “Some say the world will end in fire; some say in ice.” Either, he notes, “would suffice.”

But neither need be our fate. It is time to make peace with the planet.

We must quickly mobilize our civilization with the urgency and resolve that has previously been seen only when nations mobilized for war. These prior struggles for survival were won when leaders found words at the 11th hour that released a mighty surge of courage, hope and readiness to sacrifice for a protracted and mortal challenge.

These were not comforting and misleading assurances that the threat was not real or imminent; that it would affect others but not ourselves; that ordinary life might be lived even in the presence of extraordinary threat; that Providence could be trusted to do for us what we would not do for ourselves.

No, these were calls to come to the defense of the common future. They were calls upon the courage, generosity and strength of entire peoples, citizens of every class and condition who were ready to stand against the threat once asked to do so. Our enemies in those times calculated that free people would not rise to the challenge; they were, of course, catastrophically wrong.

Now comes the threat of climate crisis — a threat that is real, rising, imminent, and universal. Once again, it is the 11th hour. The penalties for ignoring this challenge are immense and growing, and at some near point would be unsustainable and unrecoverable. For now we still have the power to choose our fate, and the remaining question is only this: Have we the will to act vigorously and in time, or will we remain imprisoned by a dangerous illusion?

Mahatma Gandhi awakened the largest democracy on earth and forged a shared resolve with what he called “Satyagraha” — or “truth force.”

In every land, the truth — once known — has the power to set us free.

Truth also has the power to unite us and bridge the distance between “me” and “we,” creating the basis for common effort and shared responsibility.

There is an African proverb that says, “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” We need to go far, quickly.

We must abandon the conceit that individual, isolated, private actions are the answer. They can and do help. But they will not take us far enough without collective action. At the same time, we must ensure that in mobilizing globally, we do not invite the establishment of ideological conformity and a new lock-step “ism.”

That means adopting principles, values, laws, and treaties that release creativity and initiative at every level of society in multifold responses originating concurrently and spontaneously.

This new consciousness requires expanding the possibilities inherent in all humanity. The innovators who will devise a new way to harness the sun’s energy for pennies or invent an engine that’s carbon negative may live in Lagos or Mumbai or Montevideo. We must ensure that entrepreneurs and inventors everywhere on the globe have the chance to change the world.

When we unite for a moral purpose that is manifestly good and true, the spiritual energy unleashed can transform us. The generation that defeated fascism throughout the world in the 1940s found, in rising to meet their awesome challenge, that they had gained the moral authority and long-term vision to launch the Marshall Plan, the United Nations, and a new level of global cooperation and foresight that unified Europe and facilitated the emergence of democracy and prosperity in Germany, Japan, Italy and much of the world. One of their visionary leaders said, “It is time we steered by the stars and not by the lights of every passing ship.”

In the last year of that war, you gave the Peace Prize to a man from my hometown of 2000 people, Carthage, Tennessee. Cordell Hull was described by Franklin Roosevelt as the “Father of the United Nations.” He was an inspiration and hero to my own father, who followed Hull in the Congress and the U.S. Senate and in his commitment to world peace and global cooperation.

My parents spoke often of Hull, always in tones of reverence and admiration. Eight weeks ago, when you announced this prize, the deepest emotion I felt was when I saw the headline in my hometown paper that simply noted I had won the same prize that Cordell Hull had won. In that moment, I knew what my father and mother would have felt were they alive.

Just as Hull’s generation found moral authority in rising to solve the world crisis caused by fascism, so too can we find our greatest opportunity in rising to solve the climate crisis. In the Kanji characters used in both Chinese and Japanese, “crisis” is written with two symbols, the first meaning “danger,” the second “opportunity.” By facing and removing the danger of the climate crisis, we have the opportunity to gain the moral authority and vision to vastly increase our own capacity to solve other crises that have been too long ignored.

We must understand the connections between the climate crisis and the afflictions of poverty, hunger, HIV-Aids and other pandemics. As these problems are linked, so too must be their solutions. We must begin by making the common rescue of the global environment the central organizing principle of the world community.

Fifteen years ago, I made that case at the “Earth Summit” in Rio de Janeiro. Ten years ago, I presented it in Kyoto. This week, I will urge the delegates in Bali to adopt a bold mandate for a treaty that establishes a universal global cap on emissions and uses the market in emissions trading to efficiently allocate resources to the most effective opportunities for speedy reductions.

This treaty should be ratified and brought into effect everywhere in the world by the beginning of 2010 — two years sooner than presently contemplated. The pace of our response must be accelerated to match the accelerating pace of the crisis itself.

Heads of state should meet early next year to review what was accomplished in Bali and take personal responsibility for addressing this crisis. It is not unreasonable to ask, given the gravity of our circumstances, that these heads of state meet every three months until the treaty is completed.

We also need a moratorium on the construction of any new generating facility that burns coal without the capacity to safely trap and store carbon dioxide.

And most important of all, we need to put a price on carbon — with a CO2 tax that is then rebated back to the people, progressively, according to the laws of each nation, in ways that shift the burden of taxation from employment to pollution. This is by far the most effective and simplest way to accelerate solutions to this crisis.

The world needs an alliance — especially of those nations that weigh heaviest in the scales where earth is in the balance. I salute Europe and Japan for the steps they’ve taken in recent years to meet the challenge, and the new government in Australia, which has made solving the climate crisis its first priority.

But the outcome will be decisively influenced by two nations that are now failing to do enough: the United States and China. While India is also growing fast in importance, it should be absolutely clear that it is the two largest CO2 emitters — most of all, my own country —- that will need to make the boldest moves, or stand accountable before history for their failure to act.

Both countries should stop using the other’s behavior as an excuse for stalemate and instead develop an agenda for mutual survival in a shared global environment.

These are the last few years of decision, but they can be the first years of a bright and hopeful future if we do what we must. No one should believe a solution will be found without effort, without cost, without change. Let us acknowledge that if we wish to redeem squandered time and speak again with moral authority, then these are the hard truths:

The way ahead is difficult. The outer boundary of what we currently believe is feasible is still far short of what we actually must do. Moreover, between here and there, across the unknown, falls the shadow.

That is just another way of saying that we have to expand the boundaries of what is possible. In the words of the Spanish poet, Antonio Machado, “Pathwalker, there is no path. You must make the path as you walk.”

We are standing at the most fateful fork in that path. So I want to end as I began, with a vision of two futures — each a palpable possibility — and with a prayer that we will see with vivid clarity the necessity of choosing between those two futures, and the urgency of making the right choice now.

The great Norwegian playwright, Henrik Ibsen, wrote, “One of these days, the younger generation will come knocking at my door.”

The future is knocking at our door right now. Make no mistake, the next generation will ask us one of two questions. Either they will ask: “What were you thinking; why didn’t you act?”

Or they will ask instead: “How did you find the moral courage to rise and successfully resolve a crisis that so many said was impossible to solve?”

We have everything we need to get started, save perhaps political will, but political will is a renewable resource.

So let us renew it, and say together: “We have a purpose. We are many. For this purpose we will rise, and we will act.”

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December 3, 2007

Is Oil Expensive?

Some people think oil is expensive. Think about this. Companies pump water (pump energy usually comes from burning oil) out of the ground and put it into plastic bottles (made from oil) and truck it (trucks burn refined oil) to a port where they ship it (ships burn refined oil) across oceans to stores that people drive to (cars use refined oil). The cost of this water product is low enough that people drink it instead of tap water. (In fact, some of the companies actually put tap water into the plastic bottles, truck it and ship it, and sell that and people buy it instead of using their own tap water.)

Think about all the other uses of energy that we take for granted. That tap water is piped to your house, using huge pumps. Your hot water is heated with energy...

So think it through before you say that oil is expensive. It is extremely expensive to the environment (and foreign policy) but it is not expensive economically, or none of the above would be occurring.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:29 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

November 29, 2007

Australia - How Cool Is This?

Former Midnight Oil rocker Garrett named Australia's environment minister

Peter Garrett - the towering, baldheaded former singer of the disbanded Australian rock group Midnight Oil - continued his long, strange tour from pop star to politician Thursday when he was named Australia's environment minister.

With his wild dancing and strident voice, Garrett was one of Australia's most recognizable singers until his band broke up in 2002, after belting out politically charged hits for more than 25 years.

Garrett founded Midnight Oil when he was a law student in 1973, but the semi-punk rock group did not achieve global fame until its 1987 track "Beds are Burning" - a protest song about Aboriginal land rights in Australia.

Live version:

And another great one:

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October 16, 2007

Nine Scientific Errors In Gore's Film?

You may have been hearing that a British court ruled that there are "nine scientific errors in Gore's film An Inconvenient Truth"

Nope. Of course not. Just more of the usual right-wing propaganda.

Deltoid: An 'error' is not the same thing as an error,

A UK High Court judge has rejected a lawsuit by political activist Stuart Dimmock to ban the showing of Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth in British schools. Justice Burton agreed that
"Al Gore's presentation of the causes and likely effects of climate change in the film was broadly accurate."

There were nine points where Burton decided that AIT differed from the IPCC and that this should be addressed in the Guidance Notes for teachers to be sent out with the movie.
GO read the rest.

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October 12, 2007

Bill Clinton on Gore Winning Peace Prize

Statement of former President Bill Clinton on Al Gore Winning the Nobel Prize:

"Al Gore has been warning and educating us about the dangers of climate change for decades. He saw this coming before others in public life and never stopped pushing for action to save our planet, even in the face of public indifference and attacks from those determined to defend the indefensible. His tireless advocacy and his Academy Award-winning film have inspired countless people around the world to join the fight against climate change. I am thrilled by this well-deserved recognition and am grateful to the Nobel Committee for awarding the Peace Prize to him and to those doing ground-breaking work at the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change."

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Al Gore and UN Climate Panel Awarded Nobel Peace Prize!

Al Gore, UN panel share Nobel for Peace,

Former Vice President Al Gore and the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change jointly won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize Friday for their efforts to spread awareness of man-made climate change and to lay the foundations for fighting it.
From the Nobel committee:
The Nobel Peace Prize for 2007

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 is to be shared, in two equal parts, between the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Albert Arnold (Al) Gore Jr. for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change.

Indications of changes in the earth's future climate must be treated with the utmost seriousness, and with the precautionary principle uppermost in our minds. Extensive climate changes may alter and threaten the living conditions of much of mankind. They may induce large-scale migration and lead to greater competition for the earth's resources. Such changes will place particularly heavy burdens on the world's most vulnerable countries. There may be increased danger of violent conflicts and wars, within and between states.

Through the scientific reports it has issued over the past two decades, the IPCC has created an ever-broader informed consensus about the connection between human activities and global warming. Thousands of scientists and officials from over one hundred countries have collaborated to achieve greater certainty as to the scale of the warming. Whereas in the 1980s global warming seemed to be merely an interesting hypothesis, the 1990s produced firmer evidence in its support. In the last few years, the connections have become even clearer and the consequences still more apparent.

Al Gore has for a long time been one of the world's leading environmentalist politicians. He became aware at an early stage of the climatic challenges the world is facing. His strong commitment, reflected in political activity, lectures, films and books, has strengthened the struggle against climate change. He is probably the single individual who has done most to create greater worldwide understanding of the measures that need to be adopted.

By awarding the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 to the IPCC and Al Gore, the Norwegian Nobel Committee is seeking to contribute to a sharper focus on the processes and decisions that appear to be necessary to protect the world’s future climate, and thereby to reduce the threat to the security of mankind. Action is necessary now, before climate change moves beyond man’s control.

Oslo, 12 October 2007

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September 13, 2007

Earth's Vital Signs

Earth's "vital signs" in bad shape: report,

He said of the 44 trends tracked by the report, 28 were "pronouncedly bad" and only six were positive.

...Some of the points highlighted in the report include:

- Meat production hit a record 276 million metric tons (43 kilograms or 95 pounds per person) in 2006.

- Meat consumption is one of several factors driving rising soybean demand. Rapid expansion of soybean plantations in South America could displace 22 million hectares (54 million acres) of tropical forest and savanna in the next 20 years.

- The rise in global seafood consumption comes as many fish species become scarcer. In 2004, people ate 156 million metric tons of seafood, the equivalent of three times as much seafood per person than in 1950.

- While U.S. carbon emissions continue to grow, the fastest rise is occurring in Asia, particularly China and India.

I did some searching and found that the report can be ordered here.

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September 8, 2007

Today's Housing Bubble Post - Big Houses Cost More To Heat And Cool, Bad For Environment

Here is one more problem from the housing bubble - all those big houses they built cost much more to heat and cool than regular houses. As utility costs rise this will compound the monthly-payment problem. Then, on top of that there's the maintenance costs like eventually re-roofing them, watering the lawns, etc.

And then there is the terrible environmental impact. Very few were built withing walking distance of stores and public transportation so cars are required. How many of the world's trees were cut down to build them?

And, if the public somehow manages to regain their senses, these house monstrosities - like the huge, pre-oil-embargo land-barge cars of the 1970s - will become even harder to sell.

AlterNet: Environment: Big Houses Are Not Green: America's McMansion Problem,

The just-popped housing bubble has left behind a couple of million families in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure. It has also spawned a new generation of big, deluxe, under-occupied houses bulked up on low-interest steroids.

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) estimates that 42 percent of newly built houses now have more than 2,400 square feet of floorspace, compared with only 10 percent in 1970. In 1970 there were so few three-bathroom houses that they didn't even to show up in NAHB statistics. By 2005, one out of every four new houses had at least three bathrooms.

...the manufacture and transportation of concrete to build a typical 2,500-square-foot house generates the equivalent of 36 metric tons of carbon dioxide.

... To make outsized suburban manors more interesting, builders tend to avoid boxy forms, loading up their product with multiple rooflines and gables, dormers, bay windows, and other protuberances. Such houses have more surface area than does a squared-off house of the same size, thus requiring more fossil-fuel to cool and heat them. Additional energy is wasted by the longer heating/cooling ducts and hot-water pipes in a big house.

... Square-footage fever emerges in a doubly wasteful form in cities where normal-sized, sound, comfortable houses are being demolished to make way for bigger, more luxurious ones.

The whole article is worth reading.

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September 1, 2007

Did Exxon Pay Bush To Kill Climate Sattelite?

NASA spent over $100 million on a satellite to investigate climate change. It's all ready to launch. But NASA mothballed it instead. A DeSmogBlog exclusive investigation into NASA's DSCOVR climate station

What happened? How could the US government possibly justify killing DSCOVR given the importance of climate change and after over 90% of the project expenses had already been incurred? What role did petty partisan politics play in this? Did the oil lobby have any influence on this decision?

... The Earth’s temperature is a delicate balance between the amount of energy retained by the atmosphere and the amount being reflected back into space. This second number is called “albedo” and it is vitally important to scientists trying to develop reliable computer models on our changing climate. DSCOVR would provide vastly improved measurements of the Earth’s albedo because from L1, it would be able to continuously observe the entire sunlit disc of our planet.

Interestingly, a common complaint of climate change deniers has been that the satellite data used to develop climate models is unreliable. DSCOVR would go a long way to settling whatever honest debate remained about the reliability of those models.

Considering that these climate models are now driving enormous public policy decisions, one would think that DSCOVR would be a top priority.

... The French were so alarmed by the foot dragging by NASA they offered to send DSCOVR into space themselves at a greatly reduced cost. The Ukranian government even offered to launch DSCOVR for free aboard a Tsyklon IV rocket – the most reliable launch vehicle in the world.

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August 26, 2007

The War On Terror

The country is at war on terror. Why? Because terrorists can kill us.

Cigarettes kill about 400,000 Americans a year. Cars kill about 44,000 Americans each year. Guns kill about 30,000 Americans each year. And then there are the deaths from diseases related to obesity caused by processed and fat-laden foods, deaths from various causes stemming from lack of health insurance... Do I need to go on? These are all examples of Americans killed while big corporations keep us from bringing them under control.

I think the war on terror might just be about distracting us from the things that really CAN kill us.

Who is our economy FOR, anyway?

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July 31, 2007

Fox Attack Game Show Video

The FOX is WRONG: Global Warming!

This is really funny:

Go do something.

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July 18, 2007

What Happened to the California Dream?

What Happened to the California Dream? originally appeared at Speak Out California.

How long have people been making fun of us left-coast, tree-hugging, frisbee-tossing, granola-crunching, animal-loving, tofu-eating, yoga-practicing, peacenik eco-nuts?

treehug.jpg

The thing is, people are starting to realize that all of these ridiculed things are good for us-- and for the country and the planet. They are the right choices.

Sure, everyone had a good laugh. But it's a few years later now and the consequences of years of bad choices are catching up. People who mocked tofu-eaters and Frisbee-tossers are realizing they don't want to be fat and out of shape--some are even dying of heart attacks and diabetes. Granola and tofu are good for you, especially compared to the fast food, meat and white breat that were being eaten in their stead.

And what about the eco-nuts? They aren't looking all that nutty today, are they? The people who laughed about tree-hugging econ-nuts are spending $60 to fill their gas tanks and worryng about their coastal property values declining as the water rises. Meanwhile Californians are driving hybrids in proportions greater than the rest of the country. Who is laughing now?

California used to lead the way. It used to be the "conventional wisdom" that innovative, inspiring and progressive ideas came from California and spread across the country. But unfortunately California also led a national wave of conservative-inspired tax-cutting. We ate our seed corn, and allowed our schools and legal system and highways and other crucial infrastructure to deteriorate. And rather than pay taxes we racked up debt.

But we learned from that and now California is waking up. We just tossed out a Congressman for trying to get rid of the Endangered Species Act. We are standing up to the big oil companies and demanding fuel economy and air quality standards. We are standing up to the big tobacco companies and pioneering smoking bans in restaurants and bars. California is pioneering stem cell research. And we are working on finding the way to providing universal health care!

California is beginning to lead the way again.

So the next time you hear someone laugh at people for doing something you know in your heart is the right thing to do, remind them that bad choices eventually lead to bad outcomes.

And, by the way, now that we are living with the alternative, that whole "peace and love" thing is looking a whole lot better, too. Oh yeah.


(Photo with permission)

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July 8, 2007

Reporting Live Earth News Or Shaping Opinion?

Organizers say Live Earth's internet audience may have been as many as two billion people*. But how is it reported today? Earth underwhelmed by environment pop extravaganza ,

They rocked the world, but as the clean-up at nine climate change gigs around the globe begins, many wonder if the galaxy of pop stars did much to change it.

U.S. and British media were generally underwhelmed on Sunday by Live Earth, the mega-concert organized by former U.S. vice president and green campaigner Al Gore, which, though built on the model of Live Aid and Live 8, created a less positive buzz.

Murdoch's Times of London had this ready, Live Earth fails to pack large-scale punch, and Murdoch's Fox News was ready with this one, reminiscent of the energy-use smear on Al Gore that came out the day after he won the Oscar for An Inconvenient Truth (see part 2 also), 'Green' Means Money, Not Environmentalism to Madonna,
Madonna had better clean up her business before she starts cleaning up the world.

... Madonna, who seems to be on top of all her many business endeavors, has actually invested about $2.7 million dollars in companies that are creating the destruction that Live Earth is trying to raise awareness about. She has invested in several companies named as the biggest corporate polluters in the world.

.. The companies include Alcoa, Ingersoll Rand, Weyerhaeuser, and several others associated with oil exploration, digging, and refining including British Petroleum, Schlumberger (a chief competitor of Halliburton), Devon Energy, Peabody Energy, Emerson Electric, Kimberly Clark and Weatherford International.

... one has to wonder why Madonna has put even a penny into the company if she has any feeling for environmental causes. But that's an inconvenient question for the material girl as she prepares to close the Live Earth show live from London.

Nice try, but people do understand the problem and are going to continue to pressure the government for action.

*P.S. MSN reports 9 million streaming, AOL reports 5 million. AND,

Control Room, producer of Live Earth and Live 8, said it found that the on-demand streams in the days after the Live 8 had the most impact, especially after clips were passed around by e-mail.

Live 8 was streamed by users more than 100 million times in the six weeks following the shows.

Live Earth is predicted to be three times bigger with organizers expecting more than 80 percent of the viewership will be on-demand in the days after the event.

So two billion seems high, but one heck of a lot of people did and will tune in for sure.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:16 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

July 7, 2007

Too Many People!

James Boyce, in James Boyce: Live From LiveEarth: Carbon Critics Prove Al Gore's Point,

... the carbon critics cry footprint foul and run up staggering numbers about the actual damage that these so called do-gooders are doing in the name of good.

... However, as I sit here in the press bubble at LiveEarth in New Jersey, waiting for the festivities to start, it occurs to me that in their rush to cry hypocrite, the carbon critics actually prove Al Gore's point.

The issue is that too many people living on the planet produce too much carbon dioxide when they go about their daily activities. The concert that will take place here in New Jersey will fill the Meadowlands, just like every Giants and Jets game this fall.

... Right now, Al Gore is on the train from D.C. to New York. Yes, the train will emit carbon. Just like it will when it runs tomorrow and the next day and just like every train in the world will, and that is the point that LiveEarth is going to make today, carbon critics be dammed. [emphasis added]


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May 23, 2007

Gore on Fire

I saw Al Gore talk at a book signing for his book, The Assault On Reason, in Marin County (north of San Francisco) this evening. He was supposed to talk for a short time, take questions and sign books, but he just got going an gave one of the most inspired, intelligent and I think historically important articulations of the current threat to the American experiment and our democracy that I have heard. He was just on fire.

Gore says our country’s problems go beyond the manipulations and corruptions of Bush and Cheney. He talks about what has happened to this country that we could have ever allow a Bush and Cheney and their lies and evasions and incuriosity to take the reigns of our government – and allowed them to stay there after it became clear what they are about. And he has some very insightful things to say about the historical forces that brought us where we are, and how they might guide us through this.

At times he sounded like a guru, talking about “truthforce,” about how honesty enables us to see clearly without the distortions and distractions that come from constant TV exposure to trivia like gossip about Paris Hilton and Britney and work to push deadly situations like the Iraq war and global warming from our discourse. This is a man who has thought about what is happening to us, and who has the vision and experience to come up with some answers.

He asked how could not just the President, but the Congress, the media and the rest of our system of checks and balances and watchdogs have let Iraq – which he called the worst strategic blunder in our history – happen? How could he public have been fooled into thinking that Iraq had anything to do with 9/11? It’s not just Bush who did that – it’s all of us. Bush is just a symptom. We are ALL responsible for the decisions our country makes. So we all have to get involved and start fixing this broken system. Democracy is not a spectator sport.

I have only had time to read excerpts from Gore’s book, The Assault On Reason, but I predict that the conversation it fuels will be fundamentally and historically important. Buy this book! And listen for news of Gore coming to your area, or appearing on TV, to talk about this subject. The guy is just on fire and I think that fire could catch and spread and help bring about the changes we need.

It’s late or I would write more. I am inspired. (does it show?) I hope that a video of this evening’s talk surfaces soon. I'll post about it if I learn of one.

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May 17, 2007

Carbon Tipping-Point Reached Soon?

This is bad: Rapid rise in global warming is forecast

The oceans are losing the capacity to soak up rising man-made carbon emissions, which is increasing the rate of global warming by up to 30 per cent, scientists said yesterday.

Researchers have found that the Southern Ocean is absorbing an ever-decreasing proportion of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The excess carbon, which cannot be absorbed by the oceans, will remain in the atmosphere and accelerate global warming, they said.

[. . .] While a reduction in absorption rates by carbon sinks has long been forecast, the discovery that the Southern Ocean is mopping up less of Man’s carbon emissions has come at least two decades earlier than expected.

What they are saying is that the oceans are at their limit of carbon absorption. If this happens it could mean rapid, dramatic warming and climate change - over months not decades. Never mind oceans rising from melting ice caps -- that much of a rise in temperatures could mean mass starvation - a real die-off. And mass migration of remaining populations.

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April 9, 2007

Laurie And Sheryl Didn't Make It Very Far Before Exxon Tried To Slash Tour Bus Tires

By Dave Johnson and James Boyce

When Al Gore's movie, An Inconvenient Truth won the Oscar for Best Documentary, it didn't take him long to be attacked by the Right Wing $MEAR machine. (And the mainstream media didn't help much but not even checking out the basic facts of the story.)

So this morning when Laurie David and Sheryl Crow kicked off their Stop Global Warming tour, where they are doing outrageous things like discussing the reality of global warming and how concerned college students, aka our nation's future, can become involved, surely you didn't expect the oil companies to let them slide did you. Of course not.

Here are the first couple of shots. One accuses ABC NEWS of letting their on-air talent be used for a "political agenda."

For anyone who wants us to connect the dots, here they are.

1. Newsbusters is a project of The Media Research Center.

2. Media Research Center is, believe it or not, a charitable organization so if you give money to them, you get a tax deduction.

Founded in 1987, the MRC is a 501 (c)(3) non profit research and education foundation.
3. Media Research recently gave Rush Limbaugh an award for "Media Excellence." We can't make this shit up if we tried.

4. And who gives them a nice $50,000 check every year? And gets the tax deduction? ExxonMobil.

Let's be clear.

Global Warming is not a political issue, it is a scientific fact.

The attempt to turn it into a partisan issue is a political issue and is being done by the Right Wing donors, such as ExxonMobil, who have the most to lose if we move to alternative energies. If you can turn it into a political issue, you can begin to hide the facts.

Know the facts, and you know the truth. So get on the bus with Laurie and Sheryl.

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March 19, 2007

Put Your Mouth Where Your Heart Is

AlterNet: EnviroHealth: You Call Yourself a Progressive -- But You Still Eat Meat?,

Eating a plant-based diet is an easy, cheap way to end animal cruelty and clean up the environment. Why, then, are so many progressives still clinging to their chicken nuggets?
It's also so much healthier.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:28 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

March 14, 2007

A Global Warming Suggestion: Fewer Babies

In the movie, An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore says that we are "entering a period of consequences." (No, this isn't another Housing Bubble Subprime Mortgage post). And yes, the world is beginning to understand the consequences of global warming. From today's news story, Global warming story hits critical mass,

The next section of an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, focusing on global warming impacts, is due to be released at a meeting in Belgium next month. A draft version of the report says that, within a few decades, hundreds of millions of people will face water shortages, while tens of millions will be flooded out of their homes. Tropical diseases like malaria will spread, pests like fire ants will thrive and by 2050, polar bears will mostly be found in zoos. By 2080, hundreds of millions of people could face starvation, according to the IPCC draft report.
But here's the thing - the worst of these consequences are not immediate. Yes, hundreds of millions of people will face water shortages and starvation by 2080 -- but only if those hundreds of millions of people are alive in the first place.

What am I getting at? One solution to the crisis is for people to stop having so many babies. We're already using up the fisheries. The cattle being raised to feed so many meat-eaters is as big a problem as the cars we're all driving.

There is plenty of time between now and 2080 to dramatically cut the population of the world by simply limiting how many babies we're all having. If there are fewer people around then fewer people face starvation, disease, dislocation and the rest of the consequences.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:28 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

March 13, 2007

Edwards Campaign Announces Will be Carbon Neutral

Edwards again doing the right thing: John Edwards for President-Edwards Increases Efforts To Fight Global Warming; Announces Campaign Will Be Carbon Neutral,

As part of his efforts to combat global warming, Senator John Edwards announced today that he will make his campaign "carbon neutral." Edwards believes global warming is one of the great challenges facing America and the world and that we can all take immediate action to decrease the amount of carbon we produce. By conserving energy and purchasing carbon offsets, the Edwards campaign will offset the carbon emitted by Edwards and his staff's campaign travel, and the energy used in his campaign headquarters and field offices.

"Global warming is an emergency and we can't wait until the next president is elected to take action," said Edwards. "Each of us can take responsibility in small ways to make a big difference. I encourage all Americans to conserve energy in their own homes and workplaces and help fight global warming."

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

February 26, 2007

A Far Too Convenient $mear: Part One - Updated - Rush Update

Co-written with (mostly written by) James Boyce

(Note - visit this follow-up post for a link to Tennessee Center for Policy Research tax forms.)

Did you honestly think that the Right Wing $mear machine was going to let Al Gore stand up with the terrific team who created and direct the movie and receive an Oscar for "An Inconvenient Truth?"

Did you really believe they would stand by and watch a Democratic leader validated for his life's work?

No chance in hell. As we have said here before, They destroy our leaders. Note to Senator Obama: spare us the hope and bi-partisanship talk and help us fight back.

Here's what we know, what we think, what we're trying to find out and how you can help.

Last night, Al Gore got very favorable national press and worldwide television exposure.

This afternoon, a group calling itself "The Tennessee Center For Policy Research" sent out a press release denouncing Vice President Gore for the size of his household electrical bills.

Let's start right there. How did they get the utility bills? They also didn't have the courtesy to ask Vice President Gore about them (despite their hollow claim of being non-partisan.) And why would a "think tank" possibly care about what Al Gore spends on gas?

Actually, let's start with a more basic question. Who are these people? Well , a quick check of Alexa reveals their web site gets no traffic. Are they legitimate? Well, again, they claim to be non-partisan but only link to far-right and conservative groups so regardless of what their status is with the IRS, this is a conservative, strongly-leaning Republican organization.

We will be digging through IRS documents tonight because if you follow the money, you always find the answers. We will let you know who their donors are as soon as we can.

This group drops the pebble in the lake and now the machine really goes to work.

Front page of Drudge Report at 5:16 reports this press release from a group no one has ever heard of, who may or may not have stolen Al Gore's utility bills. Now, the lie has legs.

In the last twenty minutes, the Tennessee Center for Policy Research has updated its website TWICE - both with radio interviews. The damage is being done as we watch.

But guess what? We're going to fight back. All of us.

Why? Well, first of all, Al Gore turning his lights on doesn't make him a hypocrite, it makes him a human.

Second, we've seen this game a few too many damn times. The trick is for them to create doubt and distraction. They need to create doubt all around the country about Al Gore. But there is no doubt.

Al Gore is a hero.

Even heroes need help - join us, add to the comments, let's find out everything we can about these guys and stop them in their tracks. Now.

NOTE: this post is a work in progress and will be updated frequently.

Updates
The echo chamber is engaging. Instapundit, Hot Air, Free Republic, WorldNetDaily, TownHall and several others are echoing and amplifying the $mear. RedState, Captain's Quarters. More here and here, here, here, here, here, here, here. Wizbang.


OK, now of course ABC News is picking it up.

A comment at DailyKos: "Hannity got the memo as well and he and Annthrax Coulter are hammering Gore for the same thing tonight."

Tennessee Center's President Drew Johnson comes straight out of the right's network, coming from Exxon-funded American Enterprise Institute and the right-wing-funded National Taxpayers Foundation.

They are part of the right's State Policy Network. According to PFAW,

"SPN is a national network of state-based right-wing organizations in 37 states as well as prominent nationwide right-wing organizations. Through its network SPN advances the public policy ideas of the expansive right-wing political movement on the state and local level."

As of Feb. 16, the Tennessee tax dept. considers them "not a legitimate organization" because of their misrepresenting themselves involving questions about the group's opposition to a state crackdown on drug dealers.

Gore Responds:

Responding to Drudge’s attack, Vice President Gore’s office told ThinkProgress:

1) Gore’s family has taken numerous steps to reduce the carbon footprint of their private residence, including signing up for 100 percent green power through Green Power Switch, installing solar panels, and using compact fluorescent bulbs and other energy saving technology.

2) Gore has had a consistent position of purchasing carbon offsets to offset the family’s carbon footprint — a concept the right-wing fails to understand. Gore’s office explains:

What Mr. Gore has asked is that every family calculate their carbon footprint and try to reduce it as much as possible. Once they have done so, he then advocates that they purchase offsets, as the Gore’s do, to bring their footprint down to zero.
Morning Echo Chamber Update

CNS News, local TV, another local TV, another, local papers, an, RW outlets (another), other RW "think tanks," more blogs, here, here, here, here, and many, many, others.

Rush Update - Rush Limbaugh is spending a great deal of time promoting this story today, mocking Gore, mocking global warming science, mocking the idea of a carbon footprint, with music to the tune of "Ring of Fire" - the world will be a ring of fire... Said CO2 is put in the air by vegetation... But even though mockingly he did also at least mention Gore's response, that Gore says he buys green - and even gave the carbon footprint website address on the air. This was not to encourage people to visit, but to mock, but it was there at least. Rush says his objection is that environmentalists want people to change their lifestyle - to downsize the American lifestyle. "Ultimate aim of global warming religion followers is to blame the United States ... and empower a larger government to make regulations over how we live." Says Gore is a hypocrite.

After the break Rush said that rich, elitist Democrats want to live better than regular people, etc. Says that Democrats say that only by getting poorer and being controlled by government can we solve the climate crisis - we are being scammed like never before.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:15 PM | Comments (40) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

February 24, 2007

What Exxon Money Buys

From a "senior fellow in environmental studies at the Cato Institute" we get this: Patrick J. Michaels on An Inconvenient Truth on National Review Online,

This Sunday, Al Gore will probably win an Academy Award for his global-warming documentary An Inconvenient Truth, a riveting work of science fiction.

The main point of the movie is that, unless we do something very serious, very soon about carbon dioxide emissions, much of Greenland’s 630,000 cubic miles of ice is going to fall into the ocean, raising sea levels over twenty feet by the year 2100.

Where’s the scientific support for this claim? Certainly not in the recent Policymaker’s Summary from the United Nations’ much anticipated compendium on climate change. Under the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s medium-range emission scenario for greenhouse gases, a rise in sea level of between 8 and 17 inches is predicted by 2100. Gore’s film exaggerates the rise by about 2,000 percent.

Except that the UN report specifically said they were leaving out a prediction of how much sea levels would rise from melting polar ice because they could not be precise,
The panel said that because there is no scientific consensus about how fast ice in the Arctic and Antarctic are melting, its estimates of sea-level rise are based only on the fact that ocean water expands when it warms.
A follow-up UN report says there is a 50% chance that the melting ice will raise sea levels by 13-20 FEET.

I'm just a Fellow, not a Senior Fellow, and not even in "environmental studies," but I knew that. I wonder if this clown got a $10,000 check for writing this stuff.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

February 23, 2007

It Really Is This Simple - Bloggers Are About The Real World

I glanced at "The Note" this morning to get the Washington Insider view of things.

"See the Democrats in Congress not falling into the Republicans' trap (yet) and avoiding a stop-the-war strategy that will (fully) open them up to charges of abandoning the troops. As they tinker with various legislative efforts to achieve their goal of bringing American troops home, Democrats have three main goals: (1) appease their base; (2) keep their coalition together; and (3) most of all, pressure enough Republicans to demand that the President change course. Oh: and: as a political matter, is the surge working?"
I have to give them credit for saying right at the start, "to achieve their goal of bringing the troops home." But the rest of it? The rest of it is about the politics of it. In fact the entire rest of today's Note is about "the politics" of everything - which is to say, about nothing.

The DC media perspective is about the politics. The blogger perspective is about what is happening in the real world. A lot of people are content to argue about politics and positions. I guess it's easier, emotionally, than thinking about the real world.

Here are some things going on in the real world:

Those people in Iraq are D.E.A.D.

That national debt is Money. That. We. Owe.

Houses and buildings Will. Be. Under. Water. from global warming.

Every single day that the posturing continues more people die in Iraq, more carbon goes into the air, more money is owed.

It really is this simple.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:53 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

February 20, 2007

It Also Gives You Heart Disease

Humans' beef with livestock: a warmer planet,

American meat eaters are responsible for 1.5 more tons of carbon dioxide per person than vegetarians every year.
I'm just sayin' ...

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:16 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

February 19, 2007

Exxon Speaks

I think that someone's been getting money from Exxon.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

More Bad Global Warming News Coming

Take this seriously.

Climate change: scientists warn it may be too late to save the ice caps | Climate change,

A critical meltdown of ice sheets and severe sea level rise could be inevitable because of global warming, the world's scientists are preparing to warn their governments. New studies of Greenland and Antarctica have forced a UN expert panel to conclude there is a 50% chance that widespread ice sheet loss "may no longer be avoided" because of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Such melting would raise sea levels by four to six metres, the scientists say. It would cause "major changes in coastline and inundation of low-lying areas" and require "costly and challenging" efforts to move millions of people and infrastructure from vulnerable areas. The previous official line, issued in 2001, was that the chance of such an event was "not well known, but probably very low".

Translating for Americans: four to six "metres" is about 13 to 20 feet. This report says the oceans WILL rise. EVERY coastal city in the world WILL be another New Orleans. Take this seriously.

Two weeks ago I was at a meeting of a committee of the City of Menlo Park, where they were discussing whether to join the Mayor's Climate Protection Agreement. This is an attempt to bypass the Republican-controlled federal government and start working to reduce carbon emissions. I suggested that if they want to move this idea along, they should distribute maps showing which parts of Menlo Park will be underwater and when. (Menlo Park is on the San Francisco Bay.)

YOU, yes, YOU can help by checking whether YOUR city is part of the Mayor's Climate Protection Agreement. If they are, ask how you can help. If they are not, start working to get them to join up.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:55 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

February 17, 2007

"Agressive" legislation, DiFi style

Enclosed below is a letter (submitted via her web site) that I wrote to Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) tonight in response to a puff piece she sent me announcing her support for Diane Feinstein's "Ten-in-ten Fuel Economy Act" aka "S. 357", a bill that DiFi has described as "aggressive" legislation to address oil dependence and global warming, but which I see as anything but: reducing our current baseline gasoline usage by less than 12.5% over twelve years is hardly "aggressive", and in the context of rapidly rising usage from China and India, represents a drop in the bucket with regards to addressing global warming.

I've included Boxer's original email, along with a email from DiFi in reference to S. 357 containing the "aggressive legislation" quote, which I received earlier this year in response to a letter to her about supporting higher fuel efficiency standards. If this represents the extent of the vision in Washington for reducing domestic gasoline consumption, things are in a sorry state.


Dear Senator Boxer,

I received your email today touting your support of Dianne Feinstein's S. 357, the "Ten-in-Ten Fuel Economy Act". This is legislation that Dianne Feinstein, in a previous email, described as "aggressive legislation" to reduce dependence on oil and decrease greenhouse gas emissions.

In my view, increasing fuel efficiency standards by a mere 10 miles per hour by 2019 does not qualify as an "aggressive" response to the global climate / environmental crisis. The Toyota Prius and Honda Civic Hybrid already approach or exceed twice the current standard - and European automakers have non-hybrid vehicles for sale *today* whose fuel economy doubles the proposed new standard.

In Silicon Valley alone, at least two companies are developing high performance all electric vehicles (WrightSpeed and Tesla), and elsewhere, engineers are discussing the possibility of 300 mpg "plug-in" hybrid vehicles that need to fill up just once or twice a year.

We have the technology, today, to do much better than 35 miles per gallon - and it seems more than reasonable to believe that, ten years from now, it could be deployed widely enough to be standard on all newly manufactured vehicles.

35 miles an hour is where we should have been ten years ago... let alone ten years from now! I drive a pickup manufactured in 1986 with a 2.0 litre engine that gets anywhere from 22-24 mpg depending on the mix of driving I do. By this bill's standards, an improvement of a mere 13 miles an hour in fuel efficiency over the subsequent 33 years will constitute adequate technological process.

S. 357 does the moral equivalent of raising the hurdles from 1 feet high to 1.5 feet high, and then applauding loudly as the contestants step over them with equal ease.

I urge you to support authentically
"aggressive" and timely targets that will make a real impact on global warming.

Regards,
Thomas Leavitt
Santa Cruz, CA

Boxer Puff Piece, received 02/16/2007:

Dear Friend:

As Chairman of the Senate’s Committee on Environment and Public
Works, I have made it my priority to stop global warming and
improve our environment. As part of that effort, I am pleased
to let you that I am supporting a bill by Senator Dianne
Feinstein to improve passenger automobile fuel economy, reduce
greenhouse gas emissions, and reduce dependence on foreign oil.
This legislation is known as the Ten-in-Ten Fuel Economy Act,
S.357.

This bill would increase the fuel economy standards, known as
CAFE standards, for SUVs and other light duty trucks and would
increase the combined fleet average for all automobiles from 25
miles per gallon to 35 miles per gallon by model year 2019.

When CAFE standards were first established in 1975, light
trucks made up only a small percentage of total vehicles on the
road and were mostly used by farmers and business. The
standard for them and for SUVs was set at a level that does not
reflect the fact that today these make up more than half of the
new car sales in America. This bill would go a long way to
correcting this discrepancy.

Our bill would also significantly reduce the amount of carbon
dioxide -- the largest single cause of global warming -- from
being released into the atmosphere. If enacted, this
legislation would result in a reduction of 350 million tons of
carbon dioxide from being emitted by cars by 2025. This would
be roughly equivalent to removing 60 million cars from our
roads in one year.

Finally, S.357 seeks to actually reduce our nation’s fuel
consumption, making us less dependent on foreign oil and
reducing the demand for new domestic sources. In large
measure, our legislation is a step forward in creating a sound
energy policy for our nation that will also increase our
national security.

I am pleased to join a bipartisan group of Senators supporting
this important legislation and look forward to its passage.

Sincerely,

Barbara Boxer
United States Senator


DiFi Letter re: fuel economy... notice how twelve years has been redefined as ten years, since the letter below was written.

January 10, 2007

Mr. Thomas Leavitt
PO Box 7095
Santa Cruz, California 95061

Dear Mr. Leavitt:

Thank you for writing to me to express your support for
increasing automobile fuel efficiency standards. I always appreciate
hearing from constituents on issues that are important to them.

I understand and share your concerns regarding automobile fuel
efficiency. America's cars and light trucks are responsible for
approximately 20 percent of U.S. carbon dioxide pollution, which is a
greenhouse gas that causes global warming. In addition, the United
States is the largest consumer of oil, using 20.4 million barrels per day.
By increasing the average fuel economy standards for all vehicles, we
can reduce our dependence on oil in addition to decreasing our
greenhouse gas emissions.

There are many new technologies on the market to help
automakers improve fuel efficiency standards. Unfortunately, without a
mandatory increase in fuel economy standards, many of these
technologies are being used instead to increase speed, size, or
acceleration.

You will be pleased to know that I have recently introduced the
"Ten-in-Ten Fuel Economy Act" (S. 3543) that would raise the average
fuel economy standards for all vehicles from their current average of 25
miles per gallon (mpg) to 35 mpg by model year 2017. This legislation
would save 2.5 million barrels of oil per day, which is what we currently
import from the Persian Gulf daily, and prevent 420 million metric tons
of carbon dioxide from being emitted by 2025. I believe that this is
aggressive legislation that will provide a realistic solution to help the
United States decrease our dependence on oil and decrease our
greenhouse gas emissions.

Please know that I will keep your comments in mind as I
continue to fight for higher automobile fuel efficiency standards. Again,
thank you for your letter and I hope you will continue to contact me on
issues that are important to me. If you have any additional comments or
questions, please feel free to contact my Washington, D.C. staff at
(202) 224-3841.

Sincerely yours,

Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 3:12 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

February 13, 2007

A Reality Check re: Al Gore and the campaign to stop Global Warming

I was going to post this as a comment in response to the item Dave posted about the Draft Gore posting on DailyKos, but it developed into a full fledged posting, on a fundamentally different topic than Gore himself: the utter and complete unsustainability of the American lifestyle, and the fact that we are in massive denial about the scope of the changes that are required in our daily habits of living to create a sustainable society.

Gore is doing good work, but at the same time, I think it is important to acknowledge that Global Warming isn't a cause, it is a symptom of the much larger problem mentioned above. I'm sure Gore knows this, but what I'm not sure is that he's come to grips, himself, with the scope of the changes required to address the larger problem (let alone how to make them politically palatable).

Here are the facts that he, and every other "environmental leader" in the developed world are confronted with: we are living way beyond our means, way way beyond. Take the Earth Day Footprint Quiz, and you'll see why I say this. If any of you score a 1 or better, please let me know... because even though my most fanatical Green minimalist bicycle riding organic farmers market eating friends have "scores" that say if everyone on the planet lived like they did, it would take four "Earths" to sustain them.

... and we have only one.

On a personal basis, I've found that every single time, when I've brought these facts up for discussion, even to the most smart and thoughtful people I know, one on one, or in a group situation, they acknowledge the reality of this need for wholesale and fundamental change in our consumption patterns, but then, somehow, the conversation inevitably changes to another subject very quickly.

It seems that your average middle class American environmental sympathizer, living in their 2000 square foot home full of the wide variety of material possessions we now take for granted, driving several hundred miles a week just around town and to and from work in a relatively new car, eating out several times a week, recycling religiously, but still filling their garbage bin on a regular basis, simply can't come to grips with these facts. To be fair, no one else can either in my experience.

It is like folks simply can't look the problem straight in the face, it is too huge and too personal to come to grips with: each of us, individually, is killing the planet, by living an utterly unsustainable lifestyle... morning, noon, and night. No matter what we do, no matter how hard we strive not to participate in the machine's destructive effect, with every act we take, every item of food we eat, every item of clothing we purchase, every mile we drive, we are doing the moral equivalent of living off our children's credit cards. We are literally taking the food out of their mouths, and the clothes off their backs (and the gas out of their mopeds).

Who reading this can conceive of living on 10% of the resources they now consume? Not just energy, but everything else... and my math says that only gets the average American halfway to a sustainable world, if everyone else is brought "up" at the same time. We really need to be talking about getting to 5% (or even less!) of the resources we now consume on average as American citizens, if we're going to create a sustainable economy and leave the natural world enough resources to rebuild itself.

Look around the house you live in, right now, and think how that scenario I outlined above would change it: how much smaller would your residence need to be? How many fewer possessions would you need to have? How much longer would you need to keep them? How many intentionally disposable items have you run through in the last week? How would your eating habits change? Your travel habits? Where you live relative to where you work (and shop)? What would it take to live on just a quarter of what you do now, in terms of environmental resources (energy, material goods, land, etc.)? A tenth? A twentieth?

Lest we forget how many of us lived until recently, let me describe the house that one of my great grandmothers grew up in (Herbert Hoover's sister, my Great Grandma May Hoover Leavitt): "a 14' x 20' dwelling that consisted of one main living area and one tiny bedroom for five family members." I've seen this place, the pictures don't do justice to how small it is, we are talking TINY. The children slept on a trundle bed that was rolled out from under their parents' bed (my great great grandparents must have been very creative when it came to finding opportunities to expand the family) . The "kitchen" was moved out onto the porch during the summer. The entire house is smaller than my living room. I lived in an apartment this small once... it was rather crowded to say the least, and we had only two kids (we made them sleep on a loft in the living room).

Thinking about this, I understand why people can't come to grips with the implications of acknowledging the unsustainability of our current lifestyles. For myself, seeing this as a reality is at best an occassional thing, manifesting itself at only the oddest moments, such as when, over the holidays, I was sitting at a semi-nice chain restaurant in Los Angeles with my family. Looking around, it occured to me that I was looking at the face of unsustainability: a world which simply won't exist at some point within our lifetimes.

We are the socio-economic equivalent of a "dead man walking". Our children and grandchildren (and probably quite a few of us in our old age) will marvel at our profligacy, and look back on these days as some mythical (but corrupt) paradise: "Did they really live like that?" they will ask each other, and our children will secretly grieve for the world of their childhood, now lost, one full of bright and sparkly THINGS that they in their more straightened circumstances, can't even dream of possessing.

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 6:55 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

January 27, 2007

Oil Price Manipulation?

This is very interesting: TomPaine.com - Manipulating The Oil Reserve,

... It turns out there is good reason to believe that record oil prices may be due to our own strategic oil reserve, which the Bush administration may have been manipulating to drive up prices for the benefit of its clients. This is something Congress must investigate, and here is some preliminary evidence.

... The last three years have seen rapidly rising oil prices, and a tight oil market has meant that even small increases in demand have had large price impacts. During this period the Bush administration purposely expanded inventories of the strategic oil reserve, which rose from 600 million barrels in May 2003 to 700 million barrels in August 2005. The administration therefore increased demand by 125,000 barrels per day, and oil prices rose from 30 dollars per barrel to 70 dollars.

Some time ago I wrote about Koch Supply and Trading getting the contract to supply oil to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
This company isn't JUST a "major GOP Donor." David H Koch is one of the prime funders of the whole right-wing movement. ... Koch played a role in founding the Cato Institute, which pumps out anti-government Libertarian propaganda. The Koch family had given Cato $21 million as of 1999. He was also involved in founding Citizens for a Sound Economy, another anti-government propaganda outlet. Contributions, again as of 1999, totaled $10 million. Koch also is a major funder of the Reason Foundation, yet another outlet for right-wing anti-government propaganda.

... This isn't just a quid pro quo. This government money will be pumped straight back into the Republican machine.

One more thing the Congress needs to look into.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:09 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

January 23, 2007

President Bushes "Ozoned" Al Gore. And The World Is Paying The Price.

Co-written with James Boyce

It's a day of celebration and sadness for those of us who follow the global warming issue. On one hand, Al Gore's movie, "An Inconvenient Truth" received a well-deserved Oscar nomination. Congratulations to all involved but especially Laurie David and Lawrence Bender for their wonderful work in bring the Vice-President's presentation to the big screeen.

However, tragically, today the summary and highlights of the definitive report on global warming was leaked. This 1,600 page report will showcase once and for all, that global warming is real, we are causing it and "the future is dire."

So how is it, one might ask, that we didn't take global warming seriously earlier? Especially when we have an an advocate like Al Gore on the national stage.

It's because the right wing ozoned Al Gore. They mocked him for his concern. The called him "Ozone Man." Like pathetic schoolyard bullies, they picked fun at him, made him uncool.

Who led the charge?

In 1992, the first President Bush:

"This guy is so far out in the environmental extreme we'll be up to our necks in owls and outta work for every American."

In 2000, the second President Bush said of Al Gore

He "likes electric cars. He just doesn't like making electricity."

So when President Bush stands up and talks about global warming, think of Al Gore. He stood up fifteen, twenty years ago, and got mocked for his courage and vision.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

January 17, 2007

Earth monitoring satellites about to be kaput, NASA kills "understanding" the earth from mission statement, Dubya cackles with glee

It has been a while since I've posted, but the item below just demanded that I draw attention to it. Apparently, Bush and the Republican Congress have allowed the nation's earth monitoring satellite infrastructure to degrade to an alarming degree, such that one critical tool used to forcast hurricanes and the El Nino phenomenon "could become inoperable at any time", and that without action, pretty much the entire system could vanish from the sky by the end of the next decade, according to a report issued by the National Research Council on Monday. Even if the recommendations of this report are followed, the number of active "missions" will fall from 29 to 17 by 2020.

Why would the folks governing our society be so irresponsible? Perhaps because the data produced are politically inconvenient... you'll recall that earlier this year, NASA eliminated the promise "to understand and protect our home planet" from its mission statement. Prominent NASA scientist and global warming expert James Hansen stated to the New York Times that ""They're [the Bush Administration] making it clear that they ... prefer that NASA work on something that's not causing them a problem."

Well, certainly, those pesky scientists aren't going to create any "problems" if they have no data to work with.

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 1:08 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

January 12, 2007

Did 1970s Scientists "Predict An Ice Age?"

One method the global warming-deniers are using is to spread the story that scientists in the 1970's were predicting an ice age. Of course the logic of this is some scientists were wrong once therefore you shouldn't believe scientists when they say global warming is real. But it works, allowing people to dismiss ... an inconvenient truth.

So with that in mind, did scientists in the 1970s predict an ice age? No.

'They predicted global cooling in the 1970s'

Was an imminent Ice Age predicted in the '70's? No

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

Republican Governor Calls For Killing Wolves Until Again Endangered

Displaying typical Republican respect for nature and the environment, the incoming Governor of Idaho is calling for the killing of most of the wolves in his state. He wants to kill enough to get them back on the endangered species list - but only because that is the limit where the law makes him stop.

According to Idaho gov calls for wolf kill,

Idaho's governor said Thursday he will support public hunts to kill all but 100 of the state's gray wolves after the federal government strips them of protection under the Endangered Species Act.

... The 100 surviving wolves would be the minimum before the animals could again be considered endangered.

His excuse? He says they kill elk, which harms hunting. And, of course, that's a lie: Scientists: Wolves not decimating elk herds

Governor "Butch" Otter is another typical Republican - elected "after a drunken driving conviction and his divorce from the daughter of one of the state's richest men."

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:39 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

January 9, 2007

Today's Housing Bubble Post - Coastal Real Estate Prices

People still buy real estate that will be underwater in a few decades. Think about that.

The reason we don't take global warming seriously in America is because ExxonMobil has been spending millions and millions of dollars funding a PR campaign designed to shift our attention away from the problem. This has been very good for business for them, but it has caused each and every one of us to behave in ways that are counter to our OWN and society's interests.

One day this will change. One day the consequences of global warming will become too serious to ignore. One day ExxonMobil will stop paying the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Center for Defense of Free Enterprise and Citizens for a Sound Economy and the American Enterprise Institute and the Frontiers of Freedom Institute and the Heritage Foundation and the Hoover Institution and the National Center for Policy Analysis and the hundreds of other right-wing "think tanks" they pay to tell us global warming is a hoax (read the report), and then the fog will start to lift and we will start to see the world as it is -- the "reality-based" world we live in rather than the one we see on TV.

How is this a "Today's Housing Bubble Post?" Think about what will happen to real estate prices in coastal areas when we do start taking global warming seriously. How much will people pay for real estate that is going to be under water in a few decades?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:06 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

January 7, 2007

Why Did We Invade Iraq?

The question that has never been satisfactorily answered - WHY did we invade Iraq? If you ask 100 people you will get 50 different answers - which means that no one really understands.

Future of Iraq: The spoils of war - How the West will make a killing on Iraqi oil riches ,

Iraq's massive oil reserves, the third-largest in the world, are about to be thrown open for large-scale exploitation by Western oil companies under a controversial law which is expected to come before the Iraqi parliament within days.

The US government has been involved in drawing up the law, a draft of which has been seen by The Independent on Sunday. It would give big oil companies such as BP, Shell and Exxon 30-year contracts to extract Iraqi crude and allow the first large-scale operation of foreign oil interests in the country since the industry was nationalised in 1972.

The huge potential prizes for Western firms will give ammunition to critics who say the Iraq war was fought for oil. They point to statements such as one from Vice-President Dick Cheney, who said in 1999, while he was still chief executive of the oil services company Halliburton, that the world would need an additional 50 million barrels of oil a day by 2010. "So where is the oil going to come from?... The Middle East, with two-thirds of the world's oil and the lowest cost, is still where the prize ultimately lies," he said.

Maybe that explains this, from the "Energy Task Force" that did its work BEFORE the invasion, Cheney Energy Task Force Documents Detail Iraqi Oil Industry:

Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force appeared to have some interest in early 2001 in Iraq's oil industry, including which foreign companies were pursuing business there, according to documents released Friday by a private watchdog group.

Judicial Watch (search), a conservative legal group, obtained a batch of task force-related Commerce Department papers that included a detailed map of Iraq's oil fields, terminals and pipelines as well as a list entitled "Foreign Suitors of Iraqi Oilfield Contracts."

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January 4, 2007

Breaking News About Exxon Funding Lies

Reuters - ExxonMobil cultivates global warming doubt -report

Energy giant ExxonMobil borrowed tactics from the tobacco industry to raise doubt about climate change, spending $16 million on groups that question global warming, a science watchdog group said on Wednesday.

"ExxonMobil (XOM.N: Quote, Profile , Research) has manufactured uncertainty about the human causes of global warming just as tobacco companies denied their product caused lung cancer," Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists said at a telephone news conference releasing the report.

An ExxonMobil spokesman did not respond immediately to calls for comment.

... U.S. tobacco companies used these tactics for decades to hide the hazards of smoking, and were found liable in federal court last year for violating racketeering laws. [emphasis added]

See also AP - Group: ExxonMobil paid to mislead public

ExxonMobil Corp. gave $16 million to 43 ideological groups between 1998 and 2005 in an effort to mislead the public by discrediting the science behind global warming, the Union of Concerned Scientists asserted Wednesday.

The report by the advocacy group mirrors similar claims by Britain's leading scientific academy. Last September, The Royal Society wrote the oil company asking it to halt support for groups that "misrepresented the science of climate change."

... ExxonMobil lists on its Web site nearly $133 million in 2005 contributions globally, including $6.8 million for "public information and policy research" distributed to more than 140 think tanks, universities, foundations, associations and other groups. Some of those have publicly disputed any link between greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.

Alden Meyer, the Union of Concerned Scientists' strategy and policy director, said in a teleconference that ExxonMobil based its tactics on those of tobacco companies, spreading uncertainty by misrepresenting peer-reviewed scientific studies or emphasizing only selected facts.

Dr. James McCarthy, a professor at Harvard University, said the company has sought to "create the illusion of a vigorous debate" about global warming.

Finally, see this from September, The Denial Industry,
For years, a network of fake citizens' groups and bogus scientific bodies has been claiming that science of global warming is inconclusive. They set back action on climate change by a decade. But who funded them? Exxon's involvement is well known, but not the strange role of Big Tobacco. In the first of three extracts from his new book, George Monbiot tells a bizarre and shocking new story.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:32 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

December 12, 2006

Global Warming and Positive Feedback Loops

It is confirmed: Arctic ice is retreating. Arctic sea ice 'faces rapid melt'

The Arctic may be close to a tipping point that sees all-year-round ice disappear very rapidly in the next few decades, US scientists have warned.

... Last month, the sea that was frozen covered an area that was two million sq km less than the historical average.

"That's an area the size of Alaska," said leading ice expert Mark Serreze.

Ice reflects sinlight, and keeps the water cool. As ice retreats, more heat is absorbed by the planet, and the water is warmer, both leading to even faster melting the following year.

The new study, by a team of scientists from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), the University of Washington, and McGill University, found that the ice system could be being weakened to such a degree by global warming that it soon accelerates its own decline.

"As the ice retreats, the ocean transports more heat to the Arctic and the open water absorbs more sunlight, further accelerating the rate of warming and leading to the loss of more ice," explained Dr Marika Holland.

"This is a positive feedback loop with dramatic implications for the entire Arctic region."

Eventually, she said, the system would be "kicked over the edge", probably not even by a dramatic event but by one year slightly warmer than normal. Very rapid retreat would then follow.

This article only talks about the effect on Arctic ice - it goes away, along with Arctic wildlife and the sea life it supports. Oh yeah, and coastal land and the cities on it. But this feedback loop also means the rest of the planet warms up quickly. Which means the Antarctic as well...

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:31 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

December 9, 2006

OUR Tax Dollars At Work

Your GOVERNMENT spending tax dollars to "debunk" global warming "alarmism." Just out from the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works: “A Skeptic’s Guide to Debunking Global Warming Alarmism. Hot & Cold Media Spin Cycle: A Challenge To Journalists who Cover Global Warming.”

Here is some wording about the document, from a press release from YOUR GOVERNMENT:

The color glossy 64 page booklet -- previously was only available in hardcopy to the media and policy makers -- includes speeches, graphs, press releases and scientific articles refuting catastrophe climate fears presented by the media, the United Nations, Hollywood and former Vice President turned-foreign-lobbyist Al Gore.
My wife asked if I'm reading from a joke site.

The press release reads like a parallel universe of a weird cult. My wife says it's like Dr. Who, and you travel in the Tardis and arrive in America in 2006 in December, but everything is strange. Some alien force is in control of things.

“The American people are fed up with the media for promoting the idea that former Vice President Al Gore represents the scientific “consensus” that SUV’s and the modern American way of life have somehow created a 'climate emergency' that only United Nations bureaucrats and wealthy Hollywood liberals can solve,” Senator Inhofe said in October.
We need the Doctor.

Maybe Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are the Doctor!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:56 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

December 4, 2006

Letter From Senators To Exxon Mobil: Stop Supporting The Deniers

Senators Rockefeller and Snowe have written a remarkable letter to the Chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil, (and cc'd the Board of Directors), asking Exxon to stop funding the global warming "denial industry."

From the letter, "It is our hope that under your leadership, ExxonMobil would end its dangerous support of the "deniers."

Here is the text of the letter:

Mr. Rex W. Tillerson
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
ExxonMobil Corporation
5959 Las Colinas Boulevard
Irving, TX 75039

Dear Mr. Tillerson:

Allow us to take this opportunity to congratulate you on your first year as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the ExxonMobil Corporation. You will become the public face of an undisputed leader in the world energy industry, and a company that plays a vital role in our national economy. As that public face, you will have the ability and responsibility to lead ExxonMobil toward its rightful place as a good corporate and global citizen.

We are writing to appeal to your sense of stewardship of that corporate citizenship as U.S. Senators concerned about the credibility of the United States in the international community, and as Americans concerned that one of our most prestigious corporations has done much in the past to adversely affect that credibility. We are convinced that ExxonMobil's longstanding support of a small cadre of global climate change skeptics, and those skeptics access to and influence on government policymakers, have made it increasingly difficult for the United States to demonstrate the moral clarity it needs across all facets of its diplomacy.

Obviously, other factors complicate our foreign policy. However, we are persuaded that the climate change denial strategy carried out by and for ExxonMobil has helped foster the perception that the United States is insensitive to a matter of great urgency for all of mankind, and has thus damaged the stature of our nation internationally. It is our hope that under your leadership, ExxonMobil would end its dangerous support of the "deniers." Likewise, we look to you to guide ExxonMobil to capitalize on its significant resources and prominent industry position to assist this country in taking its appropriate leadership role in promoting the technological innovation necessary to address climate change and in fashioning a truly global solution to what is undeniably a global problem.

While ExxonMobil's activity in this area is well-documented, we are somewhat encouraged by developments that have come to light during your brief tenure. We fervently hope that reports that ExxonMobil intends to end its funding of the climate change denial campaign of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) are true. Similarly, we have seen press reports that your British subsidiary has told the Royal Society, Great Britain's foremost scientific academy, that ExxonMobil will stop funding other organizations with similar purposes. However, a casual review of available literature, as performed by personnel for the Royal Society reveals that ExxonMobil is or has been the primary funding source for the "skepticism" of not only CEI, but for dozens of other overlapping and interlocking front groups sharing the same obfuscation agenda. For this reason, we share the goal of the Royal Society that ExxonMobil "come clean" about its past denial activities, and that the corporation take positive steps by a date certain toward a new and more responsible corporate citizenship.

ExxonMobil is not alone in jeopardizing the credibility and stature of the United States. Large corporations in related industries have joined ExxonMobil to provide significant and consistent financial support of this pseudo-scientific, non-peer reviewed echo chamber. The goal has not been to prevail in the scientific debate, but to obscure it. This climate change denial confederacy has exerted an influence out of all proportion to its size or relative scientific credibility. Through relentless pressure on the media to present the issue "objectively," and by challenging the consensus on climate change science by misstating both the nature of what "consensus" means and what this particular consensus is, ExxonMobil and its allies have confused the public and given cover to a few senior elected and appointed government officials whose positions and opinions enable them to damage U.S. credibility abroad.

Climate change denial has been so effective because the "denial community" has mischaracterized the necessarily guarded language of serious scientific dialogue as vagueness and uncertainty. Mainstream media outlets, attacked for being biased, help lend credence to skeptics' views, regardless of their scientific integrity, by giving them relatively equal standing with legitimate scientists. ExxonMobil is responsible for much of this bogus scientific "debate" and the demand for what the deniers cynically refer to as "sound science."

A study to be released in November by an American scientific group will expose ExxonMobil as the primary funder of no fewer than 29 climate change denial front groups in 2004 alone. Besides a shared goal, these groups often featured common staffs and board members. The study will estimate that ExxonMobil has spent more than $19 million since the late 1990s on a strategy of "information laundering," or enabling a small number of professional skeptics working through scientific-sounding organizations to funnel their viewpoints through non-peer-reviewed websites such as Tech Central Station. The Internet has provided ExxonMobil the means to wreak its havoc on U.S. credibility, while avoiding the rigors of refereed journals. While deniers can easily post something calling into question the scientific consensus on climate change, not a single refereed article in more than a decade has sought to refute it.

Indeed, while the group of outliers funded by ExxonMobil has had some success in the court of public opinion, it has failed miserably in confusing, much less convincing, the legitimate scientific community. Rather, what has emerged and continues to withstand the carefully crafted denial strategy is an insurmountable scientific consensus on both the problem and causation of climate change. Instead of the narrow and inward-looking universe of the deniers, the legitimate scientific community has developed its views on climate change through rigorous peer-reviewed research and writing across all climate-related disciplines and in virtually every country on the globe.

Where most scientists dispassionate review of the facts has moved past acknowledgement to mitigation strategies, ExxonMobil's contribution the overall politicization of science has merely bolstered the views of U.S. government officials satisfied to do nothing. Rather than investing in the development of technologies that might see us through this crisis--and which may rival the computer as a wellspring of near-term economic growth around the world--ExxonMobil and its partners in denial have manufactured controversy, sown doubt, and impeded progress with strategies all-too reminiscent of those used by the tobacco industry for so many years. The net result of this unfortunate campaign has been a diminution of this nation's ability to act internationally, and not only in environmental matters.

In light of the adverse impacts still resulting from your corporations activities, we must request that ExxonMobil end any further financial assistance or other support to groups or individuals whose public advocacy has contributed to the small, but unfortunately effective, climate change denial myth. Further, we believe ExxonMobil should take additional steps to improve the public debate, and consequently the reputation of the United States. We would recommend that ExxonMobil publicly acknowledge both the reality of climate change and the role of humans in causing or exacerbating it. Second, ExxonMobil should repudiate its climate change denial campaign and make public its funding history. Finally, we believe that there would be a benefit to the United States if one of the world's largest carbon emitters headquartered here devoted at least some of the money it has invested in climate change denial pseudo-science to global remediation efforts. We believe this would be especially important in the developing world, where the disastrous effects of global climate change are likely to have their most immediate and calamitous impacts.

Each of us is committed to seeing the United States officially reengage and demonstrate leadership on the issue of global climate change. We are ready to work with you and any other past corporate sponsor of the denial campaign on proactive strategies to promote energy efficiency, to expand the use of clean, alternative, and renewable fuels, to accelerate innovation to responsibly extend the useful life of our fossil fuel reserves, and to foster greater understanding of the necessity of action on a truly global scale before it is too late.

Sincerely,

John D. Rockefeller IV
Olympia Snowe

Cc:
J. Stephen Simon
Walter V. Shipley
Samuel J. Palmisano
Marilyn Carlson Nelson
Henry A. McKinnell, Jr.
Philip E. Lippincott
Reatha Clark King
William R. Howell
James R. Houghton
William W. George
Michael J. Boskin

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

November 24, 2006

Buy Nothing Day

It is Buy Nothing Day. Switch off from shopping for a day or two. Stop and think about all the ways your own lifestyle are harmful. hink about all the ways you use energy. Think about all the things you throw away, including plastic and paper wrappers.

This is not just silly stuff, it is important. It is time to realize the part we all play in this out-of-control economic system that is literally consuming the planet out from under us. Global warming is real. Deforestation is real. Depletion of the seas is real. There's an old saying, "If something is unsustainable, it can't be sustained."

From the Buy Nothing Day press release,

Some see it as an escape from the marketing mind games and frantic consumer binge that has come to characterize the holiday season, and our culture in general. Others use it to expose the environmental and ethical consequences of overconsumption.

Two recent, high-profile disaster warnings outline the sudden urgency of our dilemma. First, in October, a global warming report by economist Sir Nicholas Stern predicted that climate change will lead to the most massive and widest-ranging market failure the world has ever seen. Soon after, a major study published in the journal Science forecast the near-total collapse of global fisheries within 40 years.

[. . .] Buy Nothing Day isn't just about changing your habits for one day. It’s about starting a lasting lifestyle commitment to consuming less and producing less waste. With six billion people on the planet, the onus if on the most affluent – the upper 20% that consumes 80% of the world’s resources – to begin setting the example.
More at Digby.

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November 16, 2006

Capitalism 3.0 - A New Way To Think About What We Own

I’ve just finished a very interesting book, Capitalism 3.0, A Guide To Reclaiming The Commons, by Peter Barnes. The book talks about ways we can restructure our laws and rules of ownership to cover who should pay for polluting and other harmful things -- costs that our current system ignores and even encourages. The change is based on our realizing that we all own certain things in common.

Here’s a quick way to understand the ideas in this book:

Suppose you live next door to a sawmill operation. The owner makes lots of money, but aa waste product, sawdust, is building up on his lot. This big pile of sawdust is getting bigger and bigger, and it's getting to the point that he’s going to have to shut down his profitable operation if he can’t find some place to dump some sawdust. So one day he comes to you and asks if he can dump some sawdust in your back yard. You answer, “If you give me $25,000 a year, each year you can dump 5 truckloads, but no more, in my yard.” You are $25,000 richer, you limited the sawdust to a level you could tolerate, and the sawmill can continue to operate and make money.

This happened because you “own” that property and have the “right” to refuse to let others make money by dumping their waste in it – or to negotiate for some of the resulting profits. This sounds so basic – but there is a reason I put quotes around the words “own” and “right.” The concepts of ownership and rights only exist because they are granted to us by law, and laws are nothing more than creations of government. It didn’t used to be that way, that regular people could "own" things and have "property rights," but people thought it would be a good idea, and made it happen. And in America it is set up that we can do things like that because, guess what, WE're the government. (It says that in our Constitution.) More on this later.

Now, suppose that you live in a condo, and there are 25 units that share the property, and the condos have a condo association. So the sawmill owner comes to the condo association, and the same transaction occurs. Everyone benefits. Each condo owner gets $1,000 a year, and the sawmill keeps operating and making money.

Suppose the sawmill owner wanted to just dump that waste on that lot next door – the one you live on? That would be great for him if he could do that. He would save, or “externalize,” that $25,000 cost. It wouldn’t even show up on anyone’s books! And he could charge less for his product! But he can’t and the reason he can’t is because you understand that you own that property, which gives you the right to refuse or to ask for payment.

Here is what I am getting at: Oil and auto companies currently dump CO2 (and other stuff) into the air. This is an “externalized” cost. They don’t pay anyone and it doesn’t show up on anyone’s books. They make tremendous profits from this arrangement but the rest of us suffer the consequences.

But what would happen if we started to realize that this is OUR air? You know, “the people” and all that, like it says in our Constitution. Democracy and community. And what would happen if we decided to set up our laws so that we have “ownership” and “rights” to refuse to let them do that – or to charge them and limit how much they can dump?

Is this a far-fetched concept? Maybe not – it is already happening in some places. For example, did you know that everyone in Alaska receives a check because they – the people of Alaska – decided that the oil under the ground there belonged to them? So they passed a law that said they have the right to charge oil companies for that oil and that the money would go into a fund that would pay a dividend to all the citizens of Alaska, as well as put money into a fund that will continue to pay a dividend, forever, even after the oil is gone?

They decided to do that with their oil. They enacted laws to make it so. Now they all benefit. The oil companies benefit, and the people of Alaska benefit from now on. Because they realized that it was their oil, and did something about it.

It’s called the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation. Here’s the story of how they made it happen.

Go look it up. And then start thinking about how much we should charge to let oil companies dump CO2 into OUR air.

This might help your thinking: this year Exxon was the most profitable company ever in the history of commerce, and we didn’t get a dime for letting them dump their wastes into and onto our common property. The way things are set up now, instead of collecting from Exxon and others for letting them pollute, the resuting global warming, health effects and other results of this mean we and our children will instead have to pay the price in coming years. We can decide to do it a better way.

Peter Barnes has a blog post about his ideas at the OnTheCommons.org site.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

November 15, 2006

Oil Prices Climbing - How Surprised Are You?

Crude futures top $59 as U.S. oil-product supplies drop,

Crude-oil futures climbed above $59 a barrel Wednesday, ready to break a three-session losing streak after a U.S. government report showed that distillate supplies have dropped nearly 17 million barrels in six weeks and gasoline inventories are down more than 15 million in five weeks.
Heh.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:36 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

November 11, 2006

CO2 Emissions "Out Of Control"

Very bad news: Global growth in carbon emissions is 'out of control',

The growth in global emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels over the past five years was four times greater than for the preceding 10 years, according to a study that exposes critical flaws in the attempts to avert damaging climate change.

Data on carbon dioxide emissions shows that the global growth rate was 3.2 per cent in the five years to 2005 compared with 0.8 per cent from 1990 to 1999, despite efforts to reduce carbon pollution through the Kyoto agreement.

Much of the increase is probably due to the expansion of the Chinese economy, which has relied heavily on burning coal and other fossil fuels for its energy.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:54 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

November 10, 2006

Centrists, Leftists, Etc.

There is a lot of talk about "the center" and "centrists." Lots of people say the blogs are on the left.

To put this in perspective, when and where is the last time you heard anyone talk about nationalizing the oil companies? That would be a "leftist" proposal.

After all, the oil companies do not "own" the oil any more than anyone can own the air or the water. They are extracting OUR resource, under license from US to operate, and as corporations are granted limited liability by US. In exchange, they are supposed to be serving the public interest. A discussion about whether they are serving the public interest might involve questions about how much they are setting aside to cover the costs of putting carbon into the air, or to pay for research into transitioning away from fossil fuels a they start to run out, how much they pay their employees, and other ways that WE might benefit from allowing them to extract OUR resource. So obviously, they are not serving the public interest.

A broader discussion would ask whether we need to reform the corporate system into something that really does serve the public interest...

The fact is, "leftist" arguments are not even part of our national discussion. Without that perspective in the discussion, it can't really be said that there even is a "center," can there? And without ALL sides contributing to the marketplace of ideas, how can society arrive at solutions that incorporate the best ideas from all the different perspectives?

(Cross-posted at the Commonweal Institute Blog.)

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:23 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

November 2, 2006

Phony Mailers From Tobacco and Oil Companies

In California two of the several propositions are to tax oil companies to fund research into alternative energy and to tax cigarettes to pay for health care.

So the tobacco and oil companies have paid for a flier that has been mailed to registered Democrats telling them that the Democratic Party opposes those propositions. AP Wire | Democrats angry over flier suggesting they oppose oil tax measure.

Leading Democrats joined supporters of Proposition 87, an initiative seeking to fund alternative fuel research by taxing instate oil production, to publicly distance the party from the flier, which was mailed to 4.2 million households.

The so-called Voter Information Guide for Democrats endorses Democratic candidates running for statewide offices. But it also urges voters to defeat the oil tax measure and another initiative seeking to boost taxes on cigarettes to fund health programs. Both initiatives are supported by the California Democratic Party.

I'll bet that things like this are happening all across the country. It is time to put corporate executives in jail for things like this. And it is time to get corporations OUT of our politics.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:51 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

October 24, 2006

Global Warming - Serious

Salon has an article today, Calculating the global warming catastrophe, that I recommend everyone read. This is the most important subject. It is vastly more important than our election, except that our election offers a way to start doing something about the problem. We only have a few years to turn things around. (To see it I had to watch an ad for a car that doesn't get good fuel economy...)

HOW serious is the problem? The article quotes one scientist who says it is already too late and makes a dramatic worst-case prediction,

Human beings, a hardy species, will not perish entirely, he says; in interviews during his book tour, Lovelock has predicted that about 200 million people, or about one thirtieth of the current world population, will survive if competent leaders make a new home for us near the present-day Arctic. There may also be other survivable spots, like the British Isles, though he notes that rising sea levels will render them more an archipelago. In any event, he predicts that "teeming billions" will perish.
Others, however, say that we are heading that way, BUT we still have 10 years to turn it around.

The article says - along with many scientists - that the only way to really address the problem is to start replacing our power plants with nuclear power plants right now.

It's to the question of solutions to mitigate the effects of global warming that Lovelock eventually turns, which is odd since in other places he insists that it's too late to do much. His prescriptions are strongly worded and provocative -- he thinks that renewable energy and energy conservation will come too slowly to ward off damage, and that an enormous program of building nuclear reactors is our best, indeed our only, real option.
I believe the problem of where to put nuclear waste pales in comparison to what we face - and what we are doing now is just dumping the waste (CO2) from burning fossil fuel into the air.

That power can't come from wind or solar energy soon enough: "Even now, when the bell has started tolling to mark our ending, we still talk of sustainable development and renewable energy as if these feeble offerings would be accepted by Gaia as an appropriate and affordable sacrifice." Instead, "new nuclear building should be started immediately." With his extravagant rhetoric, Lovelock does us a favor -- it is true that we should be at least as scared of a new coal plant as of a new nuclear station. The latter carries certain obvious risks (which Lovelock argues convincingly loom larger than perhaps they should in our imaginations), while the coal plants come with the absolute guarantee that their emissions will unhinge the planet's physical systems.
Of course we need massive conservation efforts, and done right that could save tremendously. Think about the energy you use. Every time you turn on a faucet there's the energy from the pump that brought you the water. And if the water is hot... Do you leave lights on? Do you have an electric clock? Does your TV turn off, or just go on standby? The way to fix that problem is to charge for electricity somewhere near the cost, and the cost has to include the cost to the planet. If your electric bill was $1000 per month you would turn the TV off instead of just to standby.
Some scientists have estimated that it would take an immediate 70 percent reduction in fossil-fuel burning simply to stabilize climate change at its current planet-melting level. And that reduction is made much harder by the fact that it is needed at just the moment that China and India have begun to burn serious quantities of fossil fuel as their economies grow. Not, of course, American quantities -- each of us uses on average eight times the energy that a Chinese citizen does -- but relatively serious quantities nonetheless.
Please read the whole article.

Suggested reading: The Denial Industry

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:18 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

September 21, 2006

CGI - Richard Branson and Virgin Transportation Group To Dedicate ALL Future Proceeds Toward Global Warming

At a press conference today with Former President Bill Clinton Richard Branson today committed to dedicating ALL future proceeds from Virgin's transportation companies - airlines, trains, etc. - to bio-fuel initiatives aimed at reducing the use of fossil fuels and fighting global warming. He estimates this will bring approx. $3 billion dollars to the global warming fight. The company is working to develop jet fuels that are environmentally friendly, enzymes to break down prairie grasses into ethanol, and other efforts.

Pres. Clinton called this "serious money."

BC_RB.jpg
Former President Clinton and Richard Branson

Mr. Branson said this is because of his admiration for the work of President Clinton and his Clinton Global Initiative process. He said that Al Gore came to his house to ask him to take a leading role in the global warming fight, which led to this announcement.

BC.jpg

Former President Clinton

"We just don't have any time left," said President Clinton. We are running out of oil, and climate change is beginning to threaten civilization. "It is a serious problem likely to produce calamitous results."

Mr. Branson said the shortages are showing up now, that his company's costs for jet fuel is up over a billion dollars in the last three years.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:25 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

September 20, 2006

Jimmy Carter

I just met President Jimmy Carter. This seems like a good time to plug one of my personal issues. Looking back from today's issues and problems, I think that Carter's "Malaise" Speech was one of the great speeches in our history.

And he said I should tell everyone to support Jack.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:03 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

September 12, 2006

Gas Prices After Election?

Gas Prices are dropping -- just in time for the election. AAA Says Gas Prices Keep Falling; Down 42 Cents Since Reaching Highest Price This Year,

The nationwide average price of self-service regular gasoline is continuing to fall and is 42 cents lower than it was on August 7; the date prices reached their highest point this year of $3.036 per gallon.
What do you think will happen to gas prices after the election?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:13 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

August 30, 2006

Gas Prices Dropping for Election

Did I call it, or what? APRIL: Seeing the Forest: Bush Was BUYing Oil At These Prices!

This also means, by the way, the perception that oil prices are dropping just as the election approaches.
Did I call it? Come on, who's your daddy?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:15 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

August 24, 2006

War For Free - Just Go Shopping and Be Afraid

This Washington Times op-ed echoes and amplifies the right-wing narrative that we are in a glorious world war against Islam. Iran scores in world war

A world war in which we face extinction - but don't need a draft, or taxes to pay for it, or fuel economy standards, or ... well anything. Just go shopping and be afraid.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:38 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

August 7, 2006

Warming Warning

Super Computers Make Global Warming Visible,

If warming currents, such as those already detected by scientists at depth, begin to thaw these [frozen undersea] methane beds, it will make the atmosphere, and consequently the sea currents, even warmer, and melt out more methane.

A number of scientists tell me that would take the Earth up into temperatures humankind has never experienced -- and probably could not survive.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:39 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

August 6, 2006

Corporate/Conservative Infiltration of YouTube Videos

A video that mocks Al Gore and people who believe that global warming is real has shown up on YouTube. When reporters tracked down who made the video they discovered that it came from a Republican Party-linked PR firm with ExxonMobil as a client. From ABC News: Al Gore YouTube Spoof Not So Amateurish,

The film actually came from a slick Republican public relations firm called DCI, which just happens to have oil giant Exxon as a client.

... Another question is why would this movie be done in a seemingly unprofessional way, to be shown alongside YouTube's mostly amateur videos, which feature lip-synching, odd performances and funny satires?

"They want it to look like this came from someone who really believes this, who is really critical of Al Gore and global warming," Farsetta said.

Here is the video. See how many forms of propaganda and psychological manipulation you can spot. For example, can you spot an appeal to the actions of similar others, which is when people see others following a behaviour they tend to follow that behavior themselves?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:12 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

July 5, 2006

Earth

Go read Matt on Climate Change Deniers

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:10 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

June 30, 2006

Gasoline - Only a By-Product?

This is very interesting. In The Real Economics of Oil, Sheldon Drobny sats that gasoline is really only a waste product from the refining process. The real profit is from products like asphalt, lubricating oils, paraffin wax, heating oil, tar and others.

Essentially, gasoline is a waste product of the oil refining process and the oil companies get rid of their hazardous waste and charge the public to do that. It actually reduces the cost of the oil refining process and at the same time contributes greatly to the greenhouse effect of global warming.
Go have a read.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:03 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

June 27, 2006

Your Tax Dollars At Work

Government and Party continue to merge...

A US Senate Committee - Environment and Public Works - press release with a ".gov" address smears Al Gore, claims global warming is "debunked" and sends citizens to a website named "junk science."

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:26 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

June 21, 2006

Video report on South Central Farm and Eviction

I added this as a comment to the South Central Farm post, but after viewing it, I thought it was worth highlighting on it's own. View it on Current TV's web site (Al Gore's cable network): Save The Farm. For more information about the struggle to save South Central Farm, see http://www.southcentralfarmers.org/ and http://www.southcentralfarmers.com (different sites)

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 12:37 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

June 13, 2006

South Central Farm Eviction In Process - Call Mayor Villagairosa Now!

[Call Mayor Villagairosa at 213-978-0600 and let him know that the whole world is watching, and that you want him to put people first, and step up his efforts to facilitate a resolution that preserves the farm as a space where poor urban residents, many of them immigrants and people of color, have an opportunity to grow healthy food and maintain a connection with the natural world. All the farmers need is time, the system is beginning to respond, not only as evidenced by the widespread support from celebrities, but by the fact that the Annenburg Foundation had stepped in and volunteered to help raise the last 8 or 9 million needed to purchase the farm - an activist friend of mine tells me that, in fact, they guaranteed that they'd be able to raise the money. The developer doesn't stand to lose money, he got the land in a sweetheart deal for less than market value, and will still make quite a bit of profit at a $15 million sale price. -Thomas]

To learn more about the South Central Farmers, visit: www.southcentralfarmers.com

L.A. COUNTY SHERIFFS EVICT THE SOUTH CENTRAL FARMERS IN EARLY MORNING RAID

Circle of Life Family,

This press release was just sent to us from the South Central Farm where Julia had been fasting and tree sitting for over 3 weeks. Daryl Hannah and John Quigley are still there and at last report were still in the walnut tree but about to get removed by sheriffs at any moment.

NEWS FLASH - 8:59am, 8 people have been carried out on stretchers and they have started to bull doze the land!

WHAT: Hundreds of officers with the Los Angeles Sheriff department swarmed onto the peaceful, non-violent South-Central Farmers garden at 5:15am today accompanied by six helicopters buzzing over the sleeping supporters.

Supporters of this 14 acre organic farming community remain outside the locked-down area on the street chanting their protest of this forceful action while 20 are still inside the farm.

Dozens of supporters have been living on the land, sleeping in tents, and taking turns living in the Walnut tree on the premise while fasting to show solidarity with the Farmers. Julia-Butterfly Hill just came down last week after fasting for 23 days. Several celebrities have shown up in the last few weeks - Willie Nelson, Martin Sheen, Danny Glover, Ed Begley, Jr, Joan Baez to name a few.

As of this time, Daryl Hannah and aerial artist John Quigley are up in the Walnut tree refusing to come down. 20 campers on the land have locked themselves to benches, fences and the base around the tree while L.A. County Sheriffs are attempting to saw their locks off.

Yesterday, a peace offering of organic flowers and fresh produce from the Farm was presented to the developer, Ralph Horowitz at his offices in Brentwood, California and to Mayor Antonio Villagairosa at City Hall. Their response to this
appears to be this early morning raid.

Citizens are frustrated with the Mayor because of his apparent lack of political leadership in this, even though he has publicly stated supported of the Farm in the last few weeks.

The Farm supporters are asking people to:

1. Call City Hall to ask that Mayor Villaraigosa step up and exhibit political leadership
and interfere with the eviction. PH: 213-978-0600

2. Come down to City Hall to express their support.
Address: 200 N. Spring Street - Los Angeles, CA 90029

3. Come to the Farm to Protest this oppressive and destructive action against the Farmers and their supporters

WHERE: 41st & Long Beach Ave.
Los Angeles, CA
(Alameda exit off Interstate 10)

WHEN: All Day
June 13, 2006

****A SPECIAL 7:00PM candlelight vigil will be held on-site
The public is encouraged to attend

To learn more about the South Central Farmers, visit:
www.southcentralfarmers.com
Contact: Fernando Flores: Co-Chair of South Central Farmers Support Coalition
PH: 909-605-3136
southcentralfarmers@yahoo.com


HISTORY:

The South Central Farm, a 14-acre green oasis in the middle of downtown Los Angeles, is in danger of being lost to warehouse development. This community garden has been operated mainly by Latino immigrants for more than a decade and has become an important part of the culture and open space in Los Angeles.

In 1992, the Farm was created in response to the Rodney King uprising to help develop and align the local South-Central
community. The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank signed a lease with the city of Los Angeles to set aside the South Central Farm as a community garden. Since then more than 350 impoverished families have banded together as the South Central Farmers to transform an industrial dump into an urban paradise. These families have been successfully augmenting their household food supply with the resultant harvest.

But in 2003 the city sold the land to a private developer to build warehouses. The community was outraged, and the farmers refused to leave the land while they tried to raise the money to buy the property themselves. For the last several weeks -- in the face of a deadline to come up with the money or be evicted -- the farmers, with the help of appeals by activists and celebrities, worked around the clock and successfully raised the money to purchase the property. At last report, the Annenburg Foundation had offered to help raise the 15 million to purchase the land but it seems responding to pressure, the developer has changed his mind and decided not to sell the land to the farmers after all.

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 11:41 AM | Comments (22) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

May 20, 2006

People Want Transformational Change

One thing Republican rule has done is help a lot of people sort out their thinking. People have had enough. People are fed up with business-as-usual, and dysfunctional systems that allow wingnuts to gain power. People are ready for transformational change. Half-assed namby-pamby measures aren't going to satisfy anymore.

For example, people don't want to fix the energy problem by raising the fuel economy standards a bit in 2009, they want to invest $1 trillion in developing new, sustainable energy sources and moving away from using fossil fuels entirely - now. That's transformational change.

People don't want to tweak health insurance rules, they want to implement Medicare For All, where every single person in the United States receives health coverage and prescription coverage as a right.

People don't want to fix the political system by lowering the limits on PAC donations, they want public financing of elections.

People want to ban all use of corporate money for any politician or so-called charity or anything else.

People want to stop this idea of corporate personhood and similar nonsense that depowers the public. People want corporations to serve the public good.

Let's discuss this. Please leave comments with other examples of the kind of truly transformational change we need.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:22 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

May 18, 2006

Kick The Oil Habit

Go watch the video at Kick The Oil Habit

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:21 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

April 25, 2006

Bush Was BUYing Oil At These Prices!

The news in Bush Eases Environmental Rules on Gasoline is worse than you think.

First the bad news,

President Bush on Tuesday ordered a temporary suspension of environmental rules for gasoline...
Making it sound to the public like protecting the environment hurts regular people...

Now the worse news,

He also halted for the summer the purchase of crude oil for the government's emergency reserve.
The reason this is such bad news is this means the Bush WAS BUYING OIL UNTIL NOW at these inflated prices, driving prices up even higher, pumping government money to the oil companies and Saudis!!!!!

This also means, by the way, the perception that oil prices are dropping just as the election approaches.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:05 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

April 23, 2006

Your Tax Dollars At Work

For Earth Day the House Committee on Resources has put up an anti-environmentalist website. Seriously. Go look at your government in action.

The "Links" page points to the Pacific Research Institute, one of the far-right, Scaife, Koch, etc.-funded "conservative movement" propaganda organizations.

Another link is titled "Clinton Report" because it is a Dept. of Energy report dated 1993, just after Clinton took office (Which really means it was prepared by the Bush I admin.). It talks about all the environmental benefits of oil drilling. Heh. But they just call it "Clinton Report" because that's how they think - these are far-right operatives who see government as a tool for propagandizing and manipulating the public.

(Through Raw Story)

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:10 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

April 14, 2006

Accord Hybrid - What Were They Thinking???

So I looked at a Honda Accord Hybrid today. It STARTS at $30,990, and only averages 28 MPG. WHAT WERE THEY THINKING? Why would anyone buy something like that?

The 50 MPG Civic Hybrid, on the other hand... But you can't even think about getting one until July because they are back-ordered.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:46 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

April 1, 2006

Exxon Front Groups

See ExxonSecrets Organizations. This is a list of organization that ExxonMobile funds, that tell the public that global warming doesn't exist, etc. It happens to also be a list of organiations that are associated with the "conservative movement" cult that has taken over the Republican Party and is working to overthrow our democracy, outsource our jobs, drive the country into debt, make war on the rest of the world, etc.

My question, why are corporations allowed to give money to harmful, destructive, anti-democracy propaganda organizations instead of to their shareholders? And why do we perceive that Exxon "owns" the oil that they pump out of the ground? Isn't that like saying someone "owns" the air or the water? These are natural resources.

Exxon is a corporation, an entity that exists on paper because the people of the United States have granted them a charter FOR THE PUBLIC GOOD. We, the people, allow them to profit from extracting and refining OUR oil from OUR lands for the betterment of all of us. WE allow the shareholders to make this money, and shield them from having to pay the debts if the company goes bankrupt, and provide lots of tax advantages and other benefits IN EXCHANGE FOR them doing certain things that benefit us. I mean, why else would we charter a corporation, except for our benefit?

Update - WHO IS OUR ECONOMY FOR, ANYWAY? (And here and here, here...)

Through DailyKos.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:44 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

March 31, 2006

Energy and Ethanol

There is a great Kos diary, Daily Kos: Peak Sugar - Entropy Will Not Be Mocked, that discusses whether it takes more energy to make ethanol than the ethanol produces. Very interesting.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:04 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

March 28, 2006

The Cost of Energy Use

Suppose the price of energy reflected its cost? It seems that the way we all make money is to extract oil and avoid the cost of using it. Almost everything in our economy involves applying energy to something. The "profit" we live off of seems to come from passing along the costs to the future.

I'm talking about global warming mostly, the cost of putting CO2 into the air. Nuclear energy costs a lot but that cost is really just the expense of containing the radioactivity -- we pay that cost today but we don't really have to. Nuclear would be cheap if we didn't pay for shielding and cooling towers and just released the radioactivity into the air, the way we currently release CO2 into the air.

Suppose there was a law that said for every part CO2 you put into the atmosphere, you have to take out 3 parts? The PRICE of a oil or coal would then reflect the COST of so may years of putting CO2 in the air... but the climate change problem would start getting better. Imagine purchasing big solar-panel-powered machines that extract carbon from CO2...

Discuss.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:46 AM | Comments (13) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

How Much Energy We Use

This article, My Saudi Arabian Breakfast, delves into how much energy it takes just to produce one simple breakfast. Something to think about.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:20 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

March 26, 2006

Obesity

I ask everyone to please read the diary Daily Kos: Vegetables of Mass Destruction - Obesity: Whose Fault? and remember to recommend it. It is important to your health to understand what she is writing.

I am working on something that touches on this, about what I call "marketing diseases." I think obesity is a marketing disease. Wanting a new car is a marketing disease. Debt is a marketing disease. Global warming is a marketing disease. The corporate Right's mantra of "personal responsibility" really means pitting isolated individuals against billions of dollars of research into marketing and psychological manipulation...

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:30 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

March 20, 2006

Global Warming

Please read The Left Coaster: Global Warming is a Terrible Danger for Humanity.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:59 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

March 12, 2006

Why Are Liberals Healthier?

Why are liberals healthier?

Vegetarianism is scorned by conservatives. Cigarettes are promoted by conservatives.

Then there's pollution, mercury, arsenic, national parks, clean water, lead, even SUVs, which are more dangerous than regular cars. And don't leave out processed foods.

Oh yeah, health care. Liberals are for it.

Is "conservatism" ENTIRELY about being duped by corporations to do things that are against your own interests? It sure seems that way.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:53 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

March 8, 2006

Fishing vs Logging vs Farming

Some say that Bush favors large corporate interests. But what happens when industries have conflicting needs?

From this news item today, Salmon fishing ban advised,

Federal fish managers told the Pacific Fishery Management Council on Tuesday that salmon fishing from California to Oregon must not be allowed this season.

... Klamath River chinook populations have fallen well below required limits for the last several years, said NMFS spokesman Peter Dygert -- the main factor driving the closing recommendation.

... Fishermen, whose livelihoods are at risk, said the problem in the Klamath isn't fishing harvests. It's a sick river.

Jim Anderson, spokesman for the California Salmon Council, said lower river levels and warmer river temperatures cause parasites that kill the fish.

May, 2003, Conservation Groups Challenge Old Growth Logging in Federal Court, Klamath Plan Would Damage Wild and Scenic Salmon River,
The Wild and Scenic Salmon River, one of the crown jewels of California, supports some of the last remaining wild summer steelhead, spring Chinook, and coho salmon runs in the state, provides world-class whitewater recreational opportunities, and is a critical source of much-needed cold, clear water to the Klamath River. The Knob timber sale would destroy almost 600 acres of ancient forest that provides critical habitat for a diverse array of plant and animal species, including the northern spotted owl, northern goshawk, fishers, martens, wild orchids, and rare salamanders.

... "The Knob timber sale, along with several other recent and proposed timber sales in the watershed, will remove much of the remaining low elevation old-growth in the area, including the last remaining critical spotted owl habitat outside of Reserves. The proposed logging plans threaten to significantly impact all of the species that depend on these ancient forests for their survival."

From July, 2003, Oregon Water Saga Illuminates Rove's Methods With Agencies,
In a darkened conference room, White House political strategist Karl Rove was making an unusual address to 50 top managers at the U.S. Interior Department. Flashing color slides, he spoke of poll results, critical constituencies -- and water levels in the Klamath River basin.

At the time of the meeting, in January 2002, Mr. Rove had just returned from accompanying President Bush on a trip to Oregon, where they visited with a Republican senator facing re-election. Republican leaders there wanted to support their agricultural base by diverting water from the river basin to nearby farms, and Mr. Rove signaled that the administration did, too.

Three months later, Interior Secretary Gale Norton stood with Sen. Gordon Smith in Klamath Falls and opened the irrigation-system head gates that increased the water supply to 220,000 acres of farmland -- a policy shift that continues to stir bitter criticism from environmentalists and Indian tribes.

... His remarks weren't entirely welcome -- especially by officials grappling with the competing arguments made by environmentalists, who wanted river levels high to protect endangered salmon, and Indian tribes, who depend on the salmon for their livelihoods.

... Environmentalists blame the change in water levels for the subsequent death of more than 30,000 salmon, calling it the largest fish kill in the history of the West.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:21 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

February 13, 2006

Past the "tipping point" on global warming?

According to an article in the UK Independent, a "critical rise in world temperatures is now unavoidable". They base this conclusion on a paper presented at a recent UK Gov't conference on climate change, which "reviewed a dozen studies of the probability of exceeding the 2 degrees threshold at different CO2 equivalent levels." The conclusion was that, only if the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere stayed below 400ppm, would there be a "very high chance" that global temperatures would not rise by at least 2 degrees (which would be enough to precipitate all sorts of nasty consequences, such as the Greenland ice sheet melting, sea levels rising by several meters, and a massive decline in agricultural output). The problem is, we've already exceeded that level... using the latest data available (from 2004), the Independent had a scientist calculate the then current level of greehouse gases in the atmosphere: 426 ppm.

If you're wondering how the Independent translates going from no longer having a "very high probability of avoiding" to "unavoidable" (me too), I presume that this has something to do with it:

The scientist who chaired the Exeter conference [where the above referenced paper was presented], Dennis Tirpak, head of the climate change unit of the OECD in Paris [em. mine, TL], was even more direct. He said: "This means we will hit 2 degrees [as a global mean temperature rise]."

Of course, the polar bears already have a problem. ... and the Bush Administration would prefer that federal employees not talk about it in an "uncoordinated" fashion. See this interview with James Hansen for more details.

UPDATE: A reader sent me this wonderful investigative report on Australia's "Greenhouse Mafia", and government/private sector censorship/self-censorship on climate change issues. If you read through it, towards the end there's an exchange with Kevin Hennessy, a scientist at a research institute, that is truly Kafkaesque in its absurdity. In fact, the entire report reads like something out of Kafka, bureaucrats and politicians posturing shamelessly, making self-righteous statements that are totally at odds with reality. ... and, as an American, I have no doubt that our government functions in exactly the same fashion.

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 11:13 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

January 29, 2006

Climate Tipping Points

In case you have missed this today, please read Debate on Climate Shifts to Issue of Irreparable Change. There is increasing concern that we are approaching "tipping points" beyond which global warming becomes irreversable and the climate rapidly shifts, with each effect increasing the warming even more.

One example of a tipping point is the potential for fresh water coming from ice melting in Greenland disrupting the North Atlantic current. This would bring the average temperature of Europe down by about 9 degrees in a few years. This happened about 8,200 years ago. Current estimates for the odds of this happening again are at 50 percent.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:52 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

January 26, 2006

Sierra Club Chronicles

Sierra Club Chronicles ,

Sierra Club Chronicles is a monthly TV series capturing seven David vs. Goliath stories: the dramatic efforts of committed individuals across the country working to protect the health of their environment and communities. The series is hosted by Daryl Hannah.
And, from the e-mail introducing me to this,
"Sierra Club Chronicles" captures extraordinary efforts of ordinary people across America who are fighting to protect their families, communities and their livelihoods from pollution, corporate greed and ineffective government policies. It is an important and timely series, one that deserves to be seen and discussed, and one that needs to be seen by as many people as possible.


Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:14 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

January 20, 2006

Breaking News - 11 Terrorism Indictments, 65 Counts

Big Terrorist Indictment! Massive concentration of government resources, focus of investigative capabilities leads to indictments!

Discuss.

Update - Stirling has more.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:40 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

December 18, 2005

This Is So Sad

This at SlashDot is just so sad, Polar Bears Drowning As Globe Warms. But what's worse is the attitude of the people leaving comments.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:56 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

December 7, 2005

Global Warming

Last night I attended a 90-minute presentation by Al Gore on the subject of global warming. I don't have time to write about it this morning (pesky day job) but the article linked here covers it pretty well. It was an extraordinary event, attended by many of Silicon Valley's business leaders, like Steve Jobs, the Google guys. It was a terrific presentation but terrifying. It is truly the most important issue facing us. For example, the glaciers are melting, and the Himalayan glaciers provide water to 40% of the Asian population.

After seeing Gore's presentation I worry that we just might be entering a "runaway" scenario, where the melting of the tundra in Siberia is releasing so much CO2 that we won't be able to stop this. But we should be trying. Instead our government is making it worse, and laughing about it.

One of the most import points Gore made was that there is not a single scientist or study that disputes that human activity is dramatically increasing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and that this creates a greenhouse effect that warms the planet. BUT 53% of all newspaper stories surveys said there is dispute or controversy. This shows the power of the Right's machine to influence the information that people receive. And an informed public is the necessary foundation for a functioning democracy.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:48 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

November 30, 2005

How Bad Is This?

New Scientist Breaking News - Failing ocean current raises fears of mini ice age,

The ocean current that gives western Europe its relatively balmy climate is stuttering, raising fears that it might fail entirely and plunge the continent into a mini ice age.

The dramatic finding comes from a study of ocean circulation in the North Atlantic, which found a 30% reduction in the warm currents that carry water north from the Gulf Stream.

The slow-down, which has long been predicted as a possible consequence of global warming, will give renewed urgency to intergovernmental talks in Montreal, Canada, this week on a successor to the Kyoto Protocol.

[. . .] But Bryden’s study has revealed that while one area of sinking water, on the Canadian side of Greenland, still seems to be functioning as normal, a second area on the European side has partially shut down and is sending only half as much deep water south as before. The two southward flows can be distinguished because they travel at different depths.

Nobody is clear on what has gone wrong. Suggestions for blame include the melting of sea ice or increased flow from Siberian rivers into the Arctic. Both would load fresh water into the surface ocean, making it less dense and so preventing it from sinking, which in turn would slow the flow of tropical water from the south. And either could be triggered by man-made climate change. Some climate models predict that global warming could lead to such a shutdown later this century.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:59 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

October 25, 2005

Amazon Rainforest Disappearing Twice As Fast As Previously Thought

U.K. Green Party release: Greens shocked by selective logging revelation

The Green Party today expressed shock and concern as satellite pictures revealed that the destruction of the Amazon rainforest has been underestimated by as much as 60%.
"...selective logging is destroying areas at a rate comparable to conventional logging, we are losing the rainforest at twice the rate we previously thought..."

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 3:04 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

October 19, 2005

Strongest Hurricane EVER - Again

Wilma strongest hurricane on record

Hurricane Wilma became the most powerful Atlantic hurricane on record on Wednesday as it churned toward western Cuba and Mexico's Yucatan peninsula on a track toward Florida, having already killed 10 people in Haiti.

The season's record-tying 21st storm, fueled by the warm waters of the northwest Caribbean Sea, strengthened alarmingly into a Category 5 hurricane, the top rank on the five-step scale of hurricane intensity.

A U.S. Air Force reconnaissance plane measured maximum sustained winds of 175 mph, with higher gusts, the U.S.
National Hurricane Center said.

The plane also recorded a minimum pressure of 882 millibars, the lowest value ever observed in the Atlantic basin. That meant Wilma was stronger than any storm on record, including Katrina, which devastated New Orleans in late August, and Rita, which hit the Texas-Louisiana coast in September.

Before this Rita was the strongest ever measured.

Hey, do you think something might be going on with the weather?

See also New Storm Measures as Most Intense Ever for Atlantic Basin

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:32 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

October 12, 2005

I vowed I'd never have kids.

[I didn't want to bring children into a world where the future of the human race and, indeed, life on earth is less than certain... then I fell in love with someone who already had two young children, and abstaining from the future was no longer an option.

I'm a bit older now, and another point now hits home: twenty years (the span of a generation) is the blink of an eye, and that any disaster my children "inherit", I'm likely to be trapped right in the middle of myself. Reading the article below, it appears more likely than ever that my children and myself will be in the same boat.

If there is anyone around to write a history of this era, I have no doubts that it will be a savage indictment of our indifference to the world around us, and our unrelenting and avaricious consumption and profligate waste. -Thomas]

The Heat Death of American Dreams
By Ed Merta
AlterNet.org

Wednesday 12 October 2005

Overshadowed by last month's hurricanes was the news that global warming is likely to accelerate much faster than feared, and it's already begun.

A number of news reports and commentary on Hurricanes Katrina and Rita have linked the disasters to global warming. Almost nobody noticed a crucial scientific finding, two weeks earlier, that foreshadows disasters on a far greater scale in the decades to come.

According to August 11 articles in the magazine New Scientist and the British newspaper the Guardian, a pair of scientists, one Russian and one British, report that global warming is melting the permafrost in the West Siberian tundra. The news made a little blip in the international media and the blogosphere, and then it disappeared.

Why should anyone care? Because melting of the Siberian permafrost will, over the next few decades, release hundreds of millions of tons of methane from formerly frozen peat bogs into the atmosphere. Methane from those bogs is at least twenty times more potent as a greenhouse gas than the carbon dioxide that currently drives global warming. Dumping such a huge quantity of methane on top of already soaring CO2 levels will drive global temperatures to the upper range of increases forecast for the remainder of this century.

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 5:48 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

Soy vs Meat

The question

I finally went vegetarian several months ago, and one of my main reasons was the environmental impact of meat production. The other day, however, a friend pointed out that soy foods take a great deal of energy to produce too. So is there really that big of an environmental difference between TVP [textured vegetable protein] and free-range beef? And how does dairy compare? Should I just try to stick to nuts and beans?
Go see the answer at: On soy vs. meat .


Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:20 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

September 6, 2005

National Geographic saw Katrina in New Orleans' future, last year!

In case you haven't seen this: Gone with the Water

Excerpts:

As the whirling maelstrom approached the coast, more than a million people evacuated to higher ground. Some 200,000 remained, however—the car-less, the homeless, the aged and infirm, and those die-hard New Orleanians who look for any excuse to throw a party. [...] As it reached 25 feet (eight meters) over parts of the city, people climbed onto roofs to escape it. [...] Thousands drowned in the murky brew that was soon contaminated by sewage and industrial waste. Thousands more who survived the flood later perished from dehydration and disease as they waited to be rescued.

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 10:49 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

August 31, 2005

Closed

That was the sign on the door of the local independent gas station my wife and I regularly patronize (free soda or coffee with any fill up of $7.00 or more)... Beach City Gas (not to mention that the local owner pays his staff well for the job, and as a result the folks there are happy and friendly and personable).

Why did he close? Because gas prices just spiked by 37 cents a gallon, and the owner can't manage the risk associated with the volatility - he's shut the business down until prices stabilize or come back down.

Guess we can kiss $2.xx gas good bye for now (and maybe forever) - at least here in California (and a quick scan of Google shows that we're not alone, either).

Here's what theDepartment of Energy's measurements show: regular gas at $2.60/gallon (and rising), nationwide.

Here's where the betting is headed (Foresight Exchange)... note the recent price spike.

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 1:26 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

August 30, 2005

Why does Bush hate Louisiana?

From a series of diaries at MyDD:

Bush's Ignorance, by Scott Shields

Bush Does Not Back Louisiana Coastline Project

New Orleans Is Pompeii

Pass on your favorite links.

Updates:

This Hurricane's Implications Are Major by Ben P

Photos Of President Bush's Compassion courtesy of Huges For America

Iowa National Guard Heading To The Gulf Coast

Elevated from the comments: Hat tip to Lis Riba The economics of disaster from boingboing

Always a good read, Bilmon adds insightful perspective and context.

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 10:01 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

August 12, 2005

A reminder of what is at stake: the fate of the planet.

[If you're not outraged, and scared witless, you're not paying attention. -Thomas]

Siberia's rapid thaw causes alarm, BBC News, August 11, 2005

The world's largest frozen peat bog is melting, which could speed the rate of global warming, New Scientist reports.

The huge expanse of western Siberia is thawing for the first time since its formation, 11,000 years ago.

The area, which is the size of France and Germany combined, could release billions of tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

This could potentially act as a tipping point, causing global warming to snowball, scientists fear.

[... continued at URL above ...]

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 11:25 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

July 21, 2005

Wangari Maathai: Rise up and walk! - speech in Johannesburg

Speech by Wangari Maathai, MP
Assistant Minister, Environment
2004, Nobel Peace Laureate
http://www.nelsonmandela.org/Documents/The%203rd%20Annual%20Nelson%20Mandela%20Lecture.doc

Nelson Mandela's 87th birthday celebrations
Johannesburg, South Africa
Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 10:27 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

July 16, 2005

Arnold Appoints Conservative Movement Golden Boy to Board of Forestry

UPDATE: Hmm... I appear to have hit a nerve, as Ms. Ridenour has dismissed this posting as "leftie silliness" and "way too partisan". What's the STF rule? If they accuse you of doing it...

Seriously folks, it is possible to scuttle this guy's nomination. The Democrats did it to Nancy Drinkard (from my neck of the woods) when local environmentalists protested - they can do it again.

ORIGINAL STORY: Time to make a fuss, folks... the Governator is attempting to appoint a golden boy of the right to the California Board of Forestry, and he's hoping the Democrats in the State Senate don't notice his track record and associations or don't think it is worth the political capital required to force him to come back with someone more reasonable. Call your State Senator today and tell them to oppose this guy, make this appointment D.O.A. today.

Here's the news blurb:

Ronald Nehring, 35, of El Cajon, has been appointed to the State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection. He has served as senior consultant for Americans for Tax Reform since 1998 and is currently a member of the Governing Board for Grossmont Union High School District. Nehring is also the vice-chairman of the California Republican Party. He was previously director of development and public affairs for the National Center for Public Policy Research. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $100 per diem. Nehring is a Republican.

Innocous enough? Well... John Meyers of Capitol Notes point out that this guy is an aide to anti-tax/anti-government crusader Grover Norquist.

This guy is the worst possible pick for the Board of Forestry; check out this NCPPR blog entry from Amy Ridenour... "It looks like Ron Nehring and everyone else involved in preventing and fighting forest fires [aka promoting "Healthy Forests"] will have their work cut out for them. Good luck to all of them."

To give you an idea of how this guy thinks, here's a quote of his from an earlier posting of hers, referenced in the entry above:

"And as for global warming, the government can't even put out a FIRE, and they think the government can affect the whole PLANET??? They should get their priorities straight. When they've mastered the skill of putting a bucket of water on a fire, they can come back and talk about doing something with the planet."

She says that this guy is responsible for putting "Project 21" (an initiative to promote "black conservatives" in the media) on the map (one of the primary NCPPR programs described in the Media Transparency article below).

Also, check out this article by Bill Berkowitz from Media Transparency on the "National Center for Public Policy Research": Tom DeLay's Right Arm

This article goes into great detail about the anti-environmental efforts of this think tank, focusing specifically on their "Earth Day Information Center" project... which offered "to provide journalists and broadcasters with scientists and policy experts who are able to discuss Earth Day-related issues."

The guy who did the research to track down who these people were says, "This is hard-core anti-environmental ideologues presenting themselves as spokespersons for Earth Day 2005."

Not exactly the resume one would look for in someone entrusted with stewardship of California's forests. This guy is not just your average run of the mill mainstream Republican... he's one of the right wing's golden boys, raised and nutured (and enriched) in the hothouse environment of right-wing think tank utopia. One of the primary conditions for success in this environment is to believe, heart and soul, in the inherent evilness and incompetence of government (and never question it even once) - this guy is *GUARANTEED* to vote the WRONG WAY on EVERYTHING - his career, his position in the movement, everything demands this. Bad bad bad.

This is not an innocuous appointment, this is a total sell out to the "wise-use", hard right.

I hope the Democrats in the Senate make an issue of this and force Arnold to come back with someone more reasonable - but given the relative lack of prominence of this appointment, it probably requires that we in the Blogosphere make a lot of noise before that happens.

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 9:18 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

June 8, 2005

George Bush on Climate Change: "I believe that not only can we solve a greenhouse gas, I believe we will."

Here's George Bush's response to recent lobbying efforts by Tony Blair on climate change, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation:

"GEORGE BUSH: See there's a lot of things we're doing* in America, and I believe that not only can we solve a greenhouse gas, I believe we will. And I appreciate the Prime Minister bringing this issue up and I look forward to sharing that which we know here in America with not only the G8 members, but equally importantly, with developing countries."

I had to read it through several times before I was able to convince myself that this wasn't a parody.

* the transcript says "going", but I listened to the audio (accompanying the article), and he clearly says "doing"... the rest of the quote is accurate.

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 12:48 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

May 14, 2005

Nukular Energy Again

Old Foes Soften to New Reactors:

Several of the nation's most prominent environmentalists have gone public with the message that nuclear power, long taboo among environmental advocates, should be reconsidered as a remedy for global warming.
Like I've been saying, we're currently dumping the "spent fuel" from burning fossil fuels straight into the atmosphere. It's killing a lot of people and warming the planet.

Except we can't trust this corrupt government to properly regulate the construction and operation of nuclear plants.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:23 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

Store Wars

Grocery Store Wars | Join the Organic Rebellion (Flash animation)

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:12 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

May 5, 2005

Carter's "Malaise" Speech

I have referred to President Carter's "Malaise" speech, but now that I have a blogging system with "extended entries" I figure, why not just put the whole thing up here.

Much of the speech is about America's energy use, and its implications. He says, "The energy crisis is real. It is worldwide. It is a clear and present danger to our Nation. These are facts and we simply must face them." He followed up with a number of programs for developing alternative energy and reducing our energy use. When you read the speech, think about where we (and the world) would be if the country had followed his plan. And think about how Reagan - elected with oil company money - symbolically removed Carter's solar panels from the roof of the White House, dismantled his alternative energy programs and killed programs for mass transit and energy efficiency.

But the first part of the speech is about something else - the mistrust of government and each other that had started taking hold. As you read it, keep in mind that the Right's "noise machine" (partly funded by oil companies) had already been operating behind the scenes for several years, already spending tens of millions a year on the effort. Back then nothing like that had been encountered before - the smear machine, the propaganda, the mass repetition of carefully crafted anti-government and in-it-for-yourself messaging, etc. - so people were just blindsided by it. But it was clear something was happening, and Carter called it a a "fundamental threat to American democracy". He said,

Our people are losing that faith, not only in government itself but in the ability as citizens to serve as the ultimate rulers and shapers of our democracy.
He saw it happening, and he said it. The Right responded with the tactic of mockery, and it worked.

Reading the speech knowing what we know now...

Good evening.

This is a special night for me. Exactly 3 years ago, on July 15, 1976, I accepted the nomination of my party to run for President of the United States. I promised you a President who is not isolated from the people, who feels your pain, and who shares your dreams and who draws his strength and his wisdom from you.

During the past 3 years I've spoken to you on many occasions about national concerns, the energy crisis, reorganizing the Government, our Nation's economy, and issues of war and especially peace. But over those years the subjects of the speeches, the talks, and the press conferences have become increasingly narrow, focused more and more on what the isolated world of Washington thinks is important. Gradually, you've heard more and more about what the Government thinks or what the Government should be doing and less and less about our Nation's hopes, our dreams, and our vision of the future.

Ten days ago I had planned to speak to you again about a very important subject -- energy. For the fifth time I would have described the urgency of the problem and laid out a series of legislative recommendations to the Congress. But as I was preparing to speak, I began to ask myself the same question that I now know has been troubling many of you. Why have we not been able to get together as a nation to resolve our serious energy problem?

It's clear that the true problems of our Nation are much deeper -- deeper than gasoline lines of energy shortages, deeper even than inflation or recession. And I realize more than ever that as President I need your help. So, I decided to reach out and listen to the voices of America.

I invited to Camp David people from almost every segment of our society business and labor, teachers and preachers, Governors, mayors, and private citizens. And then I left Camp David to listen to other Americans, men and women like you. It has been an extraordinary 10 days, and I want to share with you what I've heard. First of all, I got a lot of personal advice. Let me quote a few of the typical comments that I wrote down.

This from a southern Governor: "Mr. President, you are not leading this Nation -- you're just managing the Government."

"You don't see the people enough any more."

"Some of your Cabinet members don't seem loyal. There is not enough discipline among your disciples."

"Don't talk to us about politics or the mechanics of government, but about an understanding of our common good."

"Mr. President, we're in trouble. Talk to us about blood and sweat and tears."

"If you lead, Mr. President, we will follow."

Many people talked about themselves and about the condition of our Nation. This from a young woman in Pennsylvania: "I feel so far from government. I feel like ordinary people are excluded from political power."

And this from a young Chicano: "Some of us have suffered from recession all our lives."

"Some people have wasted energy, but others haven't had anything to waste."

And this from a religious leader: "No material shortage can touch the important things like God's love for us or our love for one another."

And I like this one particularly from a black woman who happens to be the mayor of a small Mississippi town: "The big-shots are not the only ones who are important. Remember, you can't sell anything on Wall Street unless someone digs it up somewhere else first."

This kind of summarized a lot of other statements: "Mr. President, we are confronted with a moral and a spiritual crisis."

Several of our discussions were on energy, and I have a notebook full of comments and advice. I'll read just a few.

"We can't go on consuming 40 percent more energy than we produce. When we import oil we are also importing inflation plus unemployment."

"We've got to use what we have. The Middle East has only 5 percent of the world's energy, but the United States has 24 percent."

And this is one of the most vivid statements: "Our neck is stretched over the fence and OPEC has a knife."

"There will be other cartels and other shortages. American wisdom and courage right now can set a path to follow in the future."

This was a good one: "Be bold, Mr. President. We may make mistakes, but we are ready to experiment."

And this one from a labor leader got to the heart of it: "The real issue is freedom. We must deal with the energy problem on a war footing."

And the last that I'll read: "When we enter the moral equivalent of war, Mr. President, don't issue us BB guns."

These 10 days confirmed my belief in the decency and the strength and the wisdom of the American people, but it also bore out some of my longstanding concerns about our Nation's underlying problems.

I know, of course, being President, that government actions and legislation can be very important. That's why I've worked hard to put my campaign promises into law -- and I have to admit, with just mixed success. But after listening to the American people I have been reminded again that all the legislation in the world can't fix what's wrong with America. So, I want to speak to you first tonight about a subject even more serious than energy or inflation. I want to talk to you right now about a fundamental threat to American democracy.

I do not mean our political and civil liberties. They will endure. And I do not refer to the outward strength of America, a nation that is at peace tonight everywhere in the world, with unmatched economic power and military might.

The threat is nearly invisible in ordinary ways. It is a crisis of confidence. It is a crisis that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will. We can see this crisis in the growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives and in the loss of a unity of purpose for our Nation.

The erosion of our confidence in the future is threatening to destroy the social and the political fabric of America.

The confidence that we have always had as a people is not simply some romantic dream or a proverb in a dusty book that we read just on the Fourth of July. It is the idea which founded our Nation and has guided our development as a people. Confidence in the future has supported everything else -- public institutions and private enterprise, our own families, and the very Constitution of the United States. Confidence has defined our course and has served as a link between generations. We've always believed in something called progress. We've always had a faith that the days of our children would be better than our own.

Our people are losing that faith, not only in government itself but in the ability as citizens to serve as the ultimate rulers and shapers of our democracy. As a people we know our past and we are proud of it. Our progress has been part of the living history of America, even the world. We always believed that we were part of a great movement of humanity itself called democracy, involved in the search for freedom, and that belief has always strengthened us in our purpose. But just as we are losing our confidence in the future, we are also beginning to close the door on our past.

In a nation that was proud of hard work, strong families, close-knit communities, and our faith in God, too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one does, but by what one owns. But we've discovered that owning things and consuming things does not satisfy our longing for meaning. We've learned that piling up material goods cannot fill the emptiness of lives which have no confidence or purpose.

The symptoms of this crisis of the American spirit are all around us. For the first time in the history of our country a majority of our people believe that the next 5 years will be worse than the past 5 years. Two-thirds of our people do not even vote. The productivity of American workers is actually dropping, and the willingness of Americans to save for the future has fallen below that of all other people in the Western world.

As you know, there is a growing disrespect for government and for churches and for schools, the news media, and other institutions. This is not a message of happiness or reassurance, but it is the truth and it is a warning.

These changes did not happen overnight. They've come upon us gradually over the last generation, years that were filled with shocks and tragedy.

We were sure that ours was a nation of the ballot, not the bullet, until the murders of John Kennedy and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. We were taught that our armies were always invincible and our causes were always just, only to suffer the agony of Vietnam. We respected the Presidency as a place of honor until the shock of Water gate.

We remember when the phrase "sound as a dollar" was an expression of absolute dependability, until 10 years of inflation began to shrink our dollar and our savings. We believed that our Nation's re sources were limitless until 1973, when we had to face a growing dependence on foreign oil.

These wounds are still very deep. They have never been healed.

Looking for a way out of this crisis, our people have turned to the Federal Government and found it isolated from the mainstream of our Nation's life. Washington, D.C., has become an island. The gap between our citizens and our Government has never been so wide. The people are looking for honest answers, not easy answers; clear leadership, not false claims and evasiveness and politics as usual.

What you see too often in Washington and elsewhere around the country is a system of government that seems incapable of action. You see a Congress twisted and pulled in every direction by hundreds of well financed and powerful special interests. You see every extreme position defended to the last vote, almost to the last breath by one unyielding group or another. You often see a balanced and a fair approach that demands sacrifice, a little sacrifice from everyone, abandoned like an orphan without support and without friends.

Often you see paralysis and stagnation and drift. You don't like, and neither do I. What can we do?

First of all, we must face the truth, and then we can change our course. We simply must have faith in each other, faith in our ability to govern ourselves, and faith in the future of this Nation. Restoring that faith and that confidence to America is now the most important task we face. It is a true challenge of this generation of Americans.

One of the visitors to Camp David last week put it this way: "We've got to stop crying and start sweating, stop talking and start walking, stop cursing and start praying. The strength we need will not come from the White House, but from every house in America."

We know the strength of America. We are strong. We can regain our unity. We can regain our confidence. We are the heirs of generations who survived threats much more powerful and awesome than those that challenge us now. Our fathers and mothers were strong men and women who shaped a new society during the Great Depression, who fought world wars, and who carved out a new charter of peace for the world.

We ourselves and the same Americans who just 10 years ago put a man on the Moon. We are the generation that dedicated our society to the pursuit of human rights and equality. And we are the generation that will win the war on the energy problem and in that process rebuild the unity and confidence of America.

We are at a turning point in our history. There are two paths to choose. One is a path I've warned about tonight, the path that leads to fragmentation and self-interest. Down that road lies a mistaken idea of freedom, the right to grasp for ourselves some advantage over others. That path would be one of constant conflict between narrow interests ending in chaos and immobility. It is a certain route to failure.

All the traditions of our past, all the lessons of our heritage, all the promises of our future point to another path, the path of common purpose and the restoration of American values. That path leads to true freedom for our Nation and ourselves. We can take the first steps down that path as we begin to solve our energy problem.

Energy will be the immediate test of our ability to unite this Nation, and it can also be the standard around which we rally. On the battlefield of energy we can win for our Nation a new confidence, and we can seize control again of our common destiny.

In little more than two decades we've gone from a position of energy independence to one in which almost half the oil we use comes from foreign countries, at prices that are going through the roof. Our excessive dependence on OPEC has already taken a tremendous tool on our economy and our people. This is the direct cause of the long lines which have made millions of you spend aggravating hours waiting for gasoline. It's a cause of the increased inflation and unemployment that we now face. This intolerable dependence on foreign oil threatens our economic independence and the very security of our Nation.

The energy crisis is real. It is worldwide. It is a clear and present danger to our Nation. These are facts and we simply must face them.

What I have to say to you now about energy is simple and vitally important.

Point one: I am tonight setting a clear goal for the energy policy of the United States. Beginning this moment, this Nation will never use more foreign oil than we did in 1977 -- never. From now on, every new addition to our demand for energy will be met from our own production and our own conservation. The generation-long growth in our dependence on foreign oil will be stopped dead in its tracks right now and then reversed as we move through the 1980's, for I am tonight setting the further goal of cutting our dependence on foreign oil by one-half by the end of the next decade -- a saving of over 4 1/2 million barrels of imported oil per day.

Point two: To ensure that we meet these targets, I will use my Presidential authority to set import quotas. I'm announcing tonight that for 1979 and 1980, I will forbid the entry into this country of one drop of foreign oil more than these goals allow. These quotas will ensure a reduction in imports even below the ambitious levels we set at the recent Tokyo summit.

Point three: To give us energy security, I am asking for the most massive peacetime commitment of funds and resources in our Nation's history to develop America's own alternative sources of fuel -- from coal, from oil shale, from plant products for gasohol, from unconventional gas, from the Sun.

I propose the creation of an energy security corporation to lead this effort to replace 2 1/2 million barrels of imported oil per day by 1990. The corporation will issue up to $5 billion in energy bonds, and I especially want them to be in small denominations so that average Americans can invest directly in America's energy security.

Just as a similar synthetic rubber corporation helped us win World War II, so will we mobilize American determination and ability to win the energy war. Moreover, I will soon submit legislation to Congress calling for the creation of this Nation's first solar bank, which will help us achieve the crucial goal of 20 percent of our energy coming from solar power by the year 2000.

These efforts will cost money, a lot of money, and that is why Congress must enact the windfall profits tax without delay. It will be money well spent. Unlike the billions of dollars that we ship to foreign countries to pay for foreign oil, these funds will be paid by Americans to Americans. These funds will go to fight, not to increase, inflation and unemployment.

Point four: I'm asking Congress to mandate, to require as a matter of law, that our Nation's utility companies cut their massive use of oil by 50 percent within the next decade and switch to other fuels, especially coal, our most abundant energy source.

Point five: To make absolutely certain that nothing stands in the way of achieving these goals, I will urge Congress to create an energy mobilization board which, like the War Production Board in World War II, will have the responsibility and authority to cut through the redtape, the delays, and the endless roadblocks to completing key energy projects.

We will protect our environment. But when this Nation critically needs a refinery or a pipeline, we will build it.

Point six: I'm proposing a bold conservation program to involve every State, county, and city and every average American in our energy battle. This effort will permit you to build conservation into your homes and your lives at a cost you can afford.

I ask Congress to give me authority for mandatory conservation and for standby gasoline rationing. To further conserve energy, I'm proposing tonight an extra $10 billion over the next decade to strengthen our public transportation systems. And I'm asking you for your good and for your Nation's security to take no unnecessary trips, to use carpools or public transportation whenever you can, to park your car one extra day per week, to obey the speed limit, and to set your thermostats to save fuel. Every act of energy conservation like this is more than just common sense -- I tell you it is an act of patriotism.

Our Nation must be fair to the poorest among us, so we will increase aid to needy Americans to cope with rising energy prices. We often think of conservation only in terms of sacrifice. In fact, it is the most painless and immediate way of rebuilding our Nation's strength. Every gallon of oil each one of us saves is a new form of production. It gives us more freedom, more confidence, that much more control over our own lives.

So, the solution of our energy crisis can also help us to conquer the crisis of the spirit in our country. It can rekindle our sense of unity, our confidence in the future, and give our Nation and all of us individually a new sense of purpose.

You know we can do it. We have the natural resources. We have more oil in our shale alone than several Saudi Arabias. We have more coal than any nation on Earth. We have the world's highest level of technology. We have the most skilled work force, with innovative genius, and I firmly believe that we have the national will to win this war.

I do not promise you that this struggle for freedom will be easy. I do not promise a quick way out of our Nation's problems, when the truth is that the only way out is an all-out effort. What I do promise you is that I will lead our fight, and I will enforce fairness in our struggle, and I will ensure honesty. And above all, I will act.

We can manage the short-term shortages more effectively and we will, but there are no short-term solutions to our long-range problems. There is simply no way to avoid sacrifice.

Twelve hours from now I will speak again in Kansas City, to expand and to explain further our energy program. Just as the search for solutions to our energy shortages has now led us to a new awareness of our Nation's deeper problems, so our willingness to work for those solutions in energy can strengthen us to attack those deeper problems.

I will continue to travel this country, to hear the people of America. You can help me to develop a national agenda for the 1980's. I will listen and I will act. We will act together. These were the promises I made 3 years ago, and I intend to keep them.

Little by little we can and we must rebuild our confidence. We can spend until we empty our treasuries, and we may summon all the wonders of science. But we can succeed only if we tap our greatest resources -- America's people, America's values, and America's confidence.

I have seen the strength of America in the inexhaustible resources of our people. In the days to come, let us renew that strength in the struggle for an energy-secure nation.

In closing, let me say this: I will do my best, but I will not do it alone. Let your voice be heard. Whenever you have a chance, say something good about our country. With God's help and for the sake of our Nation, it is time for us to join hands in America. Let us commit ourselves together to a rebirth of the American spirit. Working together with our common faith we cannot fail.

Thank you and good night.


(Thanks to Right Wing News)

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:18 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

May 3, 2005

Nukular Energy

I was thinking about global warming and nuclear energy again today.

One of the problems with nuclear energy is disposal of the fuel after it is used because it's radioactive. But think about this: when we burn carbon-based fuels we are just dumping the by-products into the air. That is the reason we have global warming, as well as I-don't-know-how-many deaths from resulting respiratory and other illnesses. So the problem of disposing of used fuel rods really should be placed in the context of what we are already doing and the disastrous results.

I think we have to do whatever we can to stop putting carbon into the air. Replacing the emissions from cars and coal-or-oil-burning power plants with the fear that used fuel rods might somehow escape their containers 10,000 years from now seems like a fair trade-off. We can spend that time finding out where to put the fuel rods instead of putting carbon and pollutants into the air. And a lot of people would literally breathe a whole lot easier if we stopped dumping car and power plant exhaust into the air as well. And there's that whole war and terrorism problem that comes form the need for oil and the things people do to get it...

Also, I don't think there is a risk of meltdown or other escaping contamination anymore, because of new reactor designs.

That said, I don't believe that it is possible to safely build and operate nuclear power plants in the U.S. under the supervision and policies of the current government. I don't think it can be safely done as a for-profit private-sector enterprise and we know that this administration would cut corners on safety and regulations even if it wasn't for-profit.

Update - A reader sent a few links to bloggers and articles on this:

Matt Yglesias and Mark Kleiman's thoughts on nuclear energy


Stewart Brand and other environmentalists give nuclear a second look

Grist and its readers debate nuclear energy

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:28 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

Energy

Thom Hartmann calls Bush out on yet another lie here.

A few years ago I wrote about the same subject here and here.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:58 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

April 27, 2005

Animals

Daily Kos :: Animal Exploitation, A Progressive Issue?

Click the "Recommend Diary" button while you're there.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

April 24, 2005

Framing the Issues

Readers of this blog should appreciate the logic underlying this essay, "The Death of Environmentalism: Global Warming Politics in a Post-Environmental World". It was written by Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus under the aegis of the Breakthrough Institute (the essay uses George Lakoff's "strategic framing" concepts extensively... and Lakoff sits on their advisory board).

An excerpt:

If environmentalists hope to become more than a special interest we must start framing our proposals around core American values and start seeing our own values as central to what motivates and guides our politics.

Here's what the Breakthrough Institute's home page leads off with:

The Breakthrough Institute believes that we can create a better world by advancing a vision grounded in America's founding values of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

I found out about this essay, and the Breakthrough Institute, by extension, as the result of reading this article in the San Francisco Chronicle, which gives a good overview of the debate provoked by the publication of this essay.

In the "Future" section of the Breakthrough Institute web site, under the heading "Strategy and Values", they ask the same question we on this blog have tried to answer: 'What explains how we can simultaneously be "winning on the issues" and losing so badly politically?'

P.S. Michael Shellenberger is co-founder of the Apollo Alliance, which this essay cites as an example of the strategic direction environmental activism should take.

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 12:24 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

April 21, 2005

Theologians Warn of 'False Gospel' on the Environment

[This isn't what you think. This is National Council of Churches - the "good" Christians, fighting back, finally. They are clearly unhappy about the attitude of their fellow "Christians". Excerpt from press release below. -Thomas]


Theologians Warn of 'False Gospel' on the Environment

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 14, 2005 - In an effort to refute what they call a “false gospel” and to change destructive attitudes and actions concerning the environment, a group of theologians, convened by the National Council of Churches USA, today released an open letter calling on Christians to repent of “our social and ecological sins” and to reject teachings that suggest humans are “called” to exploit the Earth without care for how our behavior impacts the rest of God’s creation.
The statement, “God’s Earth is Sacred: An Open Letter to Church and Society in the United States,” points out that there is both an environmental and a theological crisis that must be addressed.
“We have listened to a false gospel that we continue to live out in our daily habits - a gospel that proclaims that God cares for the salvation of humans only and that our human calling is to exploit Earth for our own ends alone,” says the statement. “This false gospel still finds its proud preachers and continues to capture its adherents among emboldened political leaders and policy makers.”
The statement calls on Christians to take two important steps to enable socially just and ecologically sustainable communities for future generations: first, to “repent of our sins, in the presence of God and one another,” and, second, to pursue, “with God’s help, a path different from our present course.”

[... continued at link above ...]

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 1:26 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

April 13, 2005

Mark Morford on The Millenium Ecosystem Assessment

In his usual immitable fashion, Mark Morford lets it all hang out in his commentary on the Millenium Ecosystem Assessment. I commented about this a few days ago, but Mark Morford says it the way I wish I could... here's how his latest column starts out:

The Earth is going down. Way, way down. To the mat, hard and painful and with a sad moaning broken-boned crunch.
We are chewing her up, spitting her out, stomping and gobbling and burning and gouging and drilling and sucking her dry and we are carelessly replicating ourselves so goddamn fast we can't even stop much less even try to slow the hell down, and all we want is more and faster and with less consequence and pretty soon the Earth is gonna go, well, there you are, I'm finished, sorry, and boom zing groan, done.
Don't take my world for it. Just read the headlines, the latest major, soul-stabbing report.

Read the whole thing here.

He's also hip to James Howard Kunstler's item in Rolling Stone, The Long Emergency, calling it "one of the most distressing and sobering pieces of journalism I've read in ages" (no kidding).

If you're not familiar with Mark Morford, you owe it to yourself to get on his update list. The man's columns are passionate rage and ecstasy incarnate. He writes like most of us only wish we could.

Here's another excerpt:

Maybe the nutball evangelical born-agains have it right: Maybe it's best to just burn up this whole godforsaken lump of Earth as fast as possible and then watch in giddy flesh-rended glee as Armageddon rains down and only those who've given tens of thousands of dollars to secretly gay televangelists will rise up and be saved and the rest of us will merely drive our Priuses off a collective cliff into the fiery pits of gay-marriage-friendly hell.

All I can do is shake my head in amazement. As the Metro Times Detroit says:

Morford writes like a man possessed by demented angels. His twice-weekly column routinely features jaw-dropping, unflinchingly liberal prose so biting and sweet and innovative it amazes us that a mainstream daily would keep this guy on the payroll.

Me too. Maybe there is hope.

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 2:07 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

April 12, 2005

NRDC "exploding myths" about drilling in ANWR

An excerpt from a letter recently sent me by the NRDC (the image below is a thumbnail of a larger map with much more detail that is available on their site in PDF format) - very useful information, graphic and detailed:

In the meantime, the NRDC Action Fund is hard at work exploding many of the myths that the oil lobby and the Bush administration are trying to sell Congress and the American people. First and foremost is their claim that drilling in the Arctic Refuge would disturb only 2,000 acres of wildlife habitat in the 1.5-million-acre coastal plain.
Check out the map below to see for yourself why oil development could easily industrialize and despoil the entire expanse of this irreplaceable sanctuary for wildlife. Clicking on the map will take you to a larger map and a fuller explanation on the Action Fund website.

arcticrefugelandgrab_map.jpg

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 6:50 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

April 11, 2005

Apollo Alliance

I want to bring the Apollo Alliance : Good Jobs, Clean Energy to the attention of Seeing the Forest readers. Take a look.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:20 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

April 8, 2005

More Energy Efficient Alternative Technologies

[These eco-geek items don't really fit the "News" category, but I can't think of where else to put them. Serendipitously discovered this item in the course of researching a comment for the last one. Again, mega-cool - this system has the potential to increase applied energy efficiency in wheeled transportation by at least 50%. Their site suggests that fuel efficiency could be as much as 3x a conventionally geared bus once you factor in their use of regenerative breaking! Basically, what this does is eliminate the drivetrain used in a conventional vehicle to transfer energy from the motor to the wheels (and the associated efficiency loss). -Thomas]

I did a bit of background research to assure myself this wasn't "crank" science... nope: turns out the New York Times has covered it, as well as other media outlets, and a prototype is being tested in a Dutch town.

News article on e-Traction bus from Dutch science site: The Whispering Wheel

A new Dutch invention can make cars, busses and other vehicles no less than 50 percent more efficient and thus more environmentally friendly. Better still, the technology is already available; it all comes down to a smart combination of existing systems.

This winter, in the city of Apeldoorn, a city bus will be used to prove that the claims about the new invention are true. These are quite bold. E-traction, the company that developed the bus, boasts fuel savings of up to 60 per cent, with emissions down to only a fraction of the soot and carbon dioxide an ordinary bus would blow out of its tailpipe.

In addition, the test bus requires no adaptation, its drivers need no extra training and there'll be no discomfort for passengers. It will simply run on diesel, just like all the other buses, and it should be just as reliable. One thing however will be very different; the Apeldoorn bus hardly makes a sound, hence its nickname "the whisperer".

This could make the air-powered vehicle mentioned in my previous post even more efficient. As the e-Traction web site points out, up to 50% of the energy used to drive the wheels is lost due to friction, etc. in the drivetrain between the motor and the wheels. Plus, as a bonus, this system uses regenerative breaking to recover even more efficiency... and electric batteries last longer when used in less taxing ways!

Not to mention the reduction in noise pollution, particulate exhaust, and that they have exactly one moving part, and thus are extremely low maintenance.

All in all, mega cool. Maybe there is hope for our society. Note that these innovations are being driven by small companies, and often at least partially funded or validated by public institutions, acting as early adopters (such as in this case).

Why aren't the big car companies all over this?

--Thomas Leavitt

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 10:23 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

More Energy Efficient Alternative Technologies

[These eco-geek items don't really fit the "News" category, but I can't think of where else to put them. Serendipitously discovered this item in the course of researching a comment for the last one. Again, mega-cool - this system has the potential to increase applied energy efficiency in wheeled transportation by at least 50%. Their site suggests that fuel efficiency could be as much as 3x a conventionally geared bus once you factor in their use of regenerative breaking! Basically, what this does is eliminate the drivetrain used in a conventional vehicle to transfer energy from the motor to the wheels (and the associated efficiency loss). -Thomas]

I did a bit of background research to assure myself this wasn't "crank" science... nope: turns out the New York Times has covered it, as well as other media outlets, and a prototype is being tested in a Dutch town.

News article on e-Traction bus from Dutch science site: The Whispering Wheel

A new Dutch invention can make cars, busses and other vehicles no less than 50 percent more efficient and thus more environmentally friendly. Better still, the technology is already available; it all comes down to a smart combination of existing systems.

This winter, in the city of Apeldoorn, a city bus will be used to prove that the claims about the new invention are true. These are quite bold. E-traction, the company that developed the bus, boasts fuel savings of up to 60 per cent, with emissions down to only a fraction of the soot and carbon dioxide an ordinary bus would blow out of its tailpipe.

In addition, the test bus requires no adaptation, its drivers need no extra training and there'll be no discomfort for passengers. It will simply run on diesel, just like all the other buses, and it should be just as reliable. One thing however will be very different; the Apeldoorn bus hardly makes a sound, hence its nickname "the whisperer".

This could make the air-powered vehicle mentioned in my previous post even more efficient. As the e-Traction web site points out, up to 50% of the energy used to drive the wheels is lost due to friction, etc. in the drivetrain between the motor and the wheels. Plus, as a bonus, this system uses regenerative breaking to recover even more efficiency... and electric batteries last longer when used in less taxing ways!

Not to mention the reduction in noise pollution, particulate exhaust, and that they have exactly one moving part, and thus are extremely low maintenance.

All in all, mega cool. Maybe there is hope for our society. Note that these innovations are being driven by small companies, and often at least partially funded or validated by public institutions, acting as early adopters (such as in this case).

Why aren't the big car companies all over this?

--Thomas Leavitt

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 10:23 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

Pneumatic-Hybrid Electric Vehicle

[I couldn't resist. This is seriously cool. Not to mention the shivers of terror it must make run up and down your average oil mogul's spine. -Thomas]


Car that runs on compressed air

Wednesday, March 30, 2005 Posted: 1314 GMT (2114 HKT)

(CNN) -- A Korean company has created a car engine that runs on air.

The engine, which powers a pneumatic-hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), works alongside an electric motor to create the power source.

The system eliminates the need for fuel, making the PHEV pollution-free.

[...]

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 1:32 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

April 1, 2005

Our Mass Media's Distorted Priorities

So, I pick up The San Francisco Chronicle as I walk out the door this morning, and what do I see plastered across most of the front page? "A's NEW ERA". Mass coverage on the sale of the Oakland A's baseball team to various and sundry investors.

As is my habit, I start reading the paper from the back pages (where the "real" news is) and what do I see on page A17 (second to last page)? "U.N. Study: Earth's Health Deteriorating" ... the AP article available through the SF GATE web site doesn't have the most alarming statistic (the viability of 60% of the world's ecosystem services are threatened), but you can see it as the lead paragraph on the latest entry on the Millenium Ecosystem Assessment web site. It appears that the print article in today's Chron was based on this release.

Here's the lead paragraph I'm talking about... hell, here's the three lead paragraphs:

A landmark study released today reveals that approximately 60 percent of the ecosystem services that support life on Earth – such as fresh water, capture fisheries, air and water regulation, and the regulation of regional climate, natural hazards and pests – are being degraded or used unsustainably. Scientists warn that the harmful consequences of this degradation could grow significantly worse in the next 50 years.
“Any progress achieved in addressing the goals of poverty and hunger eradication, improved health, and environmental protection is unlikely to be sustained if most of the ecosystem services on which humanity relies continue to be degraded,” said the study, Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) Synthesis Report, conducted by 1,300 experts from 95 countries. It specifically states that the ongoing degradation of ecosystem services is a road block to the Millennium Development Goals agreed to by the world leaders at the United Nations in 2000.
Although evidence remains incomplete, there is enough for the experts to warn that the ongoing degradation of 15 of the 24 ecosystem services examined is increasing the likelihood of potentially abrupt changes that will seriously affect human well-being. This includes the emergence of new diseases, sudden changes in water quality, creation of “dead zones” along the coasts, the collapse of fisheries, and shifts in regional climate.

Let's have a vote: which is more important?

1. A change in ownership for the Oakland A's.

or

2.A declaration by 1,300 scientists from 95 countries that human impacts on the planet have made "changes [that] have resulted in a substantial and largely irreversible loss to the biological diversity of the planet", to quote Walter Reid, director of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.

I'm willing to be I know how most of you will answer. Why isn't this front page news?

Is the Chronicle afraid of being seen as playing "Chicken Little"? Does it think the average reader won't give a damn? Do they think that the average reader would be unable to understand that the Earth's ecosystems are overstressed and some of them are on the virge of collapse? Or would it be too upsetting to the powers that be (corporate and governmental) to see the evidence of their collective malfeasance and mis-stewardship splashed across the front page?

... probably not. Setting aside the more paranoid of interpretations, it seems to me that the American newsroom has a major cultural problem - stuff like this just isn't "news". News is "dramatic", fast-developing, "personalized" and personality driven... Terry Schiavo's husk passing on is news... studies showing the 55 year old men without health insurance are 40% more likely to die than those with it are not. There's no immediate crisis, no fast breaking story to continually update... sure, there is a "human interest" angle that might result in a feature, but it isn't worth a headline or a series of stories from different angles. Or... could it be?

"World's Primates On The Verge of Extinction: Defenders Call It Genocide", "Antarctic Ice Pack Breaking Up: Shipping Threatened, Sea Levels May Rise Significantly", "Water Tables Sinking Rapidly Across Planet, Food Harvests Threatened"', "Energy Demand From China Threatens To Drive Prices Through Roof", "Asian Pollution Blocks Western State's Progress Cleaning Up Air"... are headlines like these not attention grabbing enough?

What would happen if a major U.S. newpaper started putting ecological news like this on the front page of the paper nearly every single day... how long would they be able to keep it up? Indefinitely? (there's certainly enough news of the sort to do this on a regular basis) ... would circulation crash? (I somehow doubt it.) Would advertising disappear? (Probably not - the capitalist will sell you the rope you use to hang him.)

How much would it cost for "the left" to buy a leading newspaper in a major media market and start running headlines like this? While a pretty intensive session with Google was unable to pin down any specific numbers, it seems reasonable to assume that one could be bought for $200 million. Seems like this would be a cost-effective investment.

Or could we do this even more cheaply ... by making this "news" ourselves, among the blogging community? Could we flog the story of the looming death of the planet into the mainstream media, like we've done with so many other stories? Or do we, ourselves, not see this as "news", as "blog worthy"?

Hmm... it seems the verdict is split. I was about to start sobbing uncontrollably, when Daypop and Blogz produced one and zero hits respectively, when Technorati saved the day and produced 29 hits. 26 in the last 24 hours or so. Of course, a number of them are folks ranting about how the most important aspect of this is how it promotes "free markets", but most of the others seemed to "get" the idea that this is a significant report. ... maybe the blogsphere simply needs time to react? I hope so.

I guess I'm not alone in my thoughts on this... Jumping on the Bandwagon has also commented about the lack of coverage in major media about this.

Two more tidbits:

a) wonder why your newspaper seems so threadbare?

Read this article (found it while poking around for info for this one): Valuation of the newspaper publishing industry

Here's a choice quote: "successful companies have reduced total payroll costs from 40% of revenues to 30%" (the Times-Mirror company is cited as an example)

b) totally off topic: John C. Danforth (conservative Republican former Senator from Missouri) says, " Republicans have transformed our party into the political arm of conservative Christians"... and that this is not a good thing.

--Thomas Leavitt

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 12:02 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos