Tuesday, August 30, 2005


In the wake of hurricane Katrina and the seeming inevitability of $3/gal. gasoline, I'd hazard a guess that we've got ample incentive to restore the word conservation to the american energy policy dialog. and just where is that dialog anyway? ever since the egregious excuse for an energy bill was passed by the lobbyists on capitol hill--- uh, excuse me, by our congress--- it seems like no one's talking about what we should do next.

call me alarmist, but I don't really think that the profiteers who continue to promote a blood-for-oil agenda--- no matter how powerful they are--- can hope to stop the coming energy crisis. true, history doesn't generally support predictions of doom like mine. (look at the 70s energy crisis fizzle.) actually, I'm not predicting doom so much as offering my hope that america will finally rise to the challenge of dismantling the fossil-fuel economy and erecting in its place a renewable energy standard--- incidentally, one that doesn't lend itself to being or becoming the basis of our nation's (or the world's) economy, as the fossil-fuel geopolitical complex has done.

besides, the 70s crisis did provide the invaluable service (and often underestimated, in talk of trends and socio-economic movements) of consciousness-raising that is an essential precusor to radical social change. imagine where we'd be now if there had been no 70s energy crisis, if jimmy carter hadn't asked us all to drive 55 and turn down the thermostat. we'd be even less prepared for the rapidly approaching dissolution of the present oil economy: notions of conservation, such as they are, would be even further from our consciousness; the invaluable public and private r&d into renewable energy (and the resultant economies of scale that have continued to drop the unit price, in constant dollars, of renewable-sourced energy) would all be ahead of us, squeezed into what promises to be a tight timeframe. all in all, a considerably more painful future than what we presently face.

as the "third world" (eew! those people again?) "develops" and demands its share of energy for industrialization, the fossil-fuel economy, which up to now has been one based on export from those same countries to the voracious "first world" consumers, will be subject to--- shall we say violent reorganization?--- as those nations' despotic, figurehead, westward-saluting regimes are toppled by populist (dare we say "democratic"?) movements bent on retaining the resources they're presently exporting (and with little benefit to the nations' people). everyone's going to want a piece of the pie (however we define pie) and when the pie-making ingredients (i.e., oil and its derivatives) start to get scarce, some things are bound to change.

here's a great opporunity for america actually to lead (instead of just giving lip-service to promoting democracy and helping poorer nations and yada yada blah blah, while in fact merely playing international chess to sustain our own lust for power through oil): if we can not only tackle and solve our own energy "crisis" through development of a new renewable energy infrastructure, but also convince developing nations that we have a much more sensible path to prosperity for them to follow that is sustainable in the long term--- and materially and generously support them in such efforts--- then the world would take an enormous leap toward peace, sustainability, environmental remediation, and geopolitical stability.

the real crisis is not any actual lack of energy, rather it is the insatiable, unsustainable consumption-crazed mindset of americans and other first-world people who refuse to acknowledge the dangers of our present global energy economy.

let's get to work, america.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

he actually said that??

gotta love it that the moral figurehead of the christian right is behaving like the poster child for senile dementia these days. it make the radical left look positively rational!

dig the latest blather from Pat Robertson's pie hole.

It makes me laugh all the way up to the point of thinking just how many bible-belt yokels will think there ain't a dang thing wrong with his idea......


Sunday, August 21, 2005

beyond left v. right-- a new people's agenda

it seems so obvious to me (said the madman) that the political distinction of left v. right is principally a tool for the power elite of this nation to divide and conquer an increasingly dissatisfied populace. heaven forefend that the people should become united in common cause--- that would be messy indeed for the power mongers, wouldn't it? and we do have common cause, make no mistake (if we would but recognize it as such). of course, who can say if this dialectic was intentionally designed to this divide-and-conquer end; regardless of its actual origin, it is clear that those with a grip on the reins of power are intimately familiar with the use this tool.

the spin doctors work overtime to keep a relative balance (yes, even in these times of seeming conservative advancement--- there must be some appearance of struggle, after all!) between the so-called left and right (which nomenclature, as I recall, has its origins in the post-revolutionary french government's seating arrangements; our present-day equivalent is red and blue, from the election maps' reflection of electoral vote distribution). as long as there is some present or looming struggle to capture the short attention spans of the consumerites, the power wielders are free to do as they please. by the time the real story hits cnn and fox, the people will long ago have lost interest and some small show of wrist-slapping against the appropriate parties will put the "issue" to rest for good and all.

does your cynicism know no bounds? you ask.

probably not. but as anyone with a passing acquaintance with psychology will tell you, those who cry humbug the loudest are very likely to be the most dogged idealists. and I am an idealist. I still believe we, the people, can get ourselves out of this mess. I only hope we can avoid bloody revolution. it's time for us to evolve to more mature strategies of change.

and change we need. it's painfully apparent that the transformation we hunger for will not come from our so-called leaders. we must cease to await their leadership since they've no intention of leading us anywhere but into debt to finance their power-mongering activities (read: wars for oil, global expansion of consumer markets, rapacious consumption of global natural resources to feed the consumption machine, concentration of wealth in a power elite). the duty falls on the people, as it always has, as it always will. our complacency and deliberate ignorance are our worst enemies. we must arm ourselves with information and unite--- despite the spin docs' rhetoric that there are two so widely different camps of thought that we can never agree. that is simply a bald-faced lie. our common concerns and interests far outweigh our differences and always have. as a nation born in struggle we are, unfortunately if understandably, habitually spoiling for a fight. fifteen hundred years after arthur we still believe might makes right. we love nothing so much as a fight and see nothing at all odd in an election (whether for a candidate or an issue) that is determined by a single vote cast for one side or another of stridently opposed positions. how ludicrous, how insane is that?! holy plebiscite, we need some consensus counseling!


here's where we can start: this whole fossil fuel economy has got to go. it's bad for the environment, it's bad for our health, it's bad for the economy, and, in case you haven't been watching the news for the past two years, it's doin' a wicked bad number on global stability and international relations. so let's show our "leaders" what's what. let us ourselves commit to and undertake the transition--- indeed, the transformation--- toward an energy economy based in renewable sources.

step 1: conservation. a bad word here in america, as I've previously mentioned. well, get over it. it is in our power to create enormous impact upon the business-as-usual, blood-for-oil-for-SUVs cycle with terribly little effort on our part. I'm not talking about a sudden investment in biodiesel or hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. I'm talking about good old-fashioned conservation: carpooling and ridesharing (yes, you can sacrifice some convenience without ruining your life; just get over your bad self!), using mass/public transit, better trip planning. hey, if it helps, imagine that you're pumping the blood of american servicemen and civilian iraqis into your tank when you fill up--- you might as well be.

step 2: investment. I mean the next time you buy a car, choose something that gets over, say, 25 mpg, and weighs less than a house. Ooooo! Scandalous! my 20-year-old car gets up to 40 mpg. sure, I'm not in a financial position to buy a new car just at present, but maybe you are. and if you are, you should know that you vote with your dollars--- and far more powerfully, some might argue, than you do with your hanging chad. buy things that move you--- let alone us, collectively--- toward a way of thinking that gives higher priority to conserving resources (especially fossil fuels) and that reminds you that consumption has limits in a limited world.

step 3: agitate for change. on the off chance that there are some well-intentioned politicians out there somewhere, get to know your elected representatives. go ahead, reach out and give 'em a little hell. They're paid to take it from you (especially the ones in washington, who keep giving themselves raises and the cherriest lifetime health benefits you could possibly imagine). do you know what's going on up there on capitol hill? the lobbyists comically outnumber the members of congress. they just line up and grease palms and, ooo, look, another piece of pork barrel legislation slips right through on greasy rails. write, write, write! start with your congresspeople, but don't stop there: newspaper editors love to hear from you! so do public servants who are not elected. write them all! they love to send back status quo, party-line responses on cool letterhead. but if enough letters get to them, things have been known to happen. even good things! think positively!

okay, let's start there....

Sunday, August 14, 2005

how could it have taken this long?

American opinion of the war in Iraq has finally shifted against. Read the article at Common Dreams:

Majority of Americans Have Lost Confidence in the War, Polls Show (Dick Polman, Kansas City Star)

I'm surprised and frustrated that it has taken this long to reach this inevitability. I'm still shocked by how easily the populace is duped by the various machinations of the power elite (of either party). We appear, as a nation, to have an almost indestructible naivte.

The $64 question: what happens now that americans are waking up to the lies promulgated by the washington powermongers?

stay tuned . . .

Saturday, August 13, 2005


I recently stumbled upon a perfect fit for my conservationist tendencies.

heard of Freecycle?

it's an organization dedicated to reducing waste while building community. local bulletin boards (hosted by Yahoo groups) carry postings of junk people plan otherwise to discard in the hope that another visitor to the board will have need for such an item. you know what they say, one man's junk is another man's treasure.

their mission statement:

Our mission is to build a worldwide gifting movement that reduces waste, saves precious resources & eases the burden on our landfills while enabling our members to benefit from the strength of a larger community.

it's essentially a giant garage sale online, but without the exchange of money. that's the principle requirement: no money must change hands. everything must be free, not even shipping charges are allowed. hence the emphasis on local chapters of freecycle. I had first signed up with a chapter that is located in a city about 45 minutes distant; subsequently, a more local chapter was formed and is rapidly growing. I've already acquired and disposed of several items and I feel great about getting something that is no longer useful to me into the hands of someone who can make use of it.

here is a good step toward a more sustainable world.

Monday, August 08, 2005

energy drain

another sell-out crowd in Washington.
sell-out of the American people, that is.

the newly-passed and flagrantly misnamed "energy bill" (unless taken to mean its cost to the taxpayers tapped to fund the megalithic corporate giants who will benefit from it) is 1,725 pages of business as usual for the overpaid, out-of-touch, sycophantic Beltway insiders (outnumbered by oil-lubricated lobbyists by an astonishing margin).

any fools out here in the real world (unless taken to mean the rest of the globe beyond the U S of A, which is realer by an astonishing margin) who had the unmitigated audacity to believe that their supposedly elected government would offer the leadership needed to raise us from the quagmire of fossil fuel dependency and its consequent foreign relations ignominy were, well, foolish.

I admit, I was one.

folks, this transition (from senseless and destructive to sensible and benign energy generation and usage) is not going to be easy. we've come to accept that our technology will save us from whatever messy entanglements we stumble into. perhaps it could, but how can it if a) the technology is controlled by vast powers with vested interests contrary to our enlightened interests and b) the people themselves do not urgently insist upon the transition?

it's not up to washington anymore. just how much more proof of the dismantle-for-cash agenda of the present administration do you need than the past five years of hideous government-for-and-by-the-rich? the wolves aren't at the door, they're in living room gnawing on the bones of our children! and we're standing idly by, pretending not to see their blood-stained muzzles, calling them cute doggies.....

pull the veil of complacency from your own eyes and take a long hard look at what's happening in our world. we're waging a war for oil. it can't be for "security" or "democracy" since, after two years, both are, if anything, farther from reality in iraq than they were before the war, saddam hussein's deposing notwithstanding. that war is bleeding lives in exchange for barrels of crude. we're heedlessly consuming resources at a time when there has been no better dissemination of information about the steep environmental and human costs of our rapacious habits. we're keeping our heads in the sand in order to perpetuate a clearly unsupportable lifestyle. how long do you expect this can go on?

my prescription for america is a good dose of personal accountability. 'bout time we had a good, hard look at our disturbingly disconnected sense of the world. what are the effects of your actions? you drop a stone in a still pond and ripples expand outward. so too when you take the least action in your life--- from turning on a lightswitch to buying a bag of groceries--- the effects of that action ripple outward and touch the world in which you live. I'm saying let's bring that knowledge of consequence to consciousness by learning the specific and minute ways in which our lives and the life of this planet are interconnected. it's time to discard the gluttonous consumerist model of the american lifestyle and to replace it with something workable, sustainable, rational. america still harbors a few clever, thoughtful, innovative people; let's encourage them to come forward and lead the ignorant masses away from their reality tv shows and toward a survivable future guided by principles like sustainability, community, responsibility, ecology.

idealist that I am, I think it's still possible to do so.