Friday, July 30, 2010

Toilet Bowl of Mexico


That's the way we've been treating the Gulf at least since the postwar boom.

BP's lil' oops ain't no thang.

This NYT article gives a little historical perspective on our nation's septic tank.

Sheesh. Give a species a bigger brain pan and look what they do with it!

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

From here out, it gets uglier

International Big Oil is likely going to make a shift as a result of the Gulf disaster. Exploration & extraction in the increasingly NIMBY-minded developed nations will likely decline, putting more pressure on the un(der)-regulated developing nations, such as Nigeria, Angola, Guinea.

photo by Ed Kashi; taken from Daily Kos posting.

As the "easy oil" reserves are depleted, the Gulf disaster is an indication of how much messier things will get in the near future-- but probably not for us. Wealthy developed nations will perhaps move forward with alternative energy development and reduce risky extraction operations, while oil-rich but financially poor nations suffer further environmental, financial, and human degradation to meet still-increasing global fossil demand.

Unless worldwide alternative energy demand increases dramatically in the near term, eclipsing fossil demand, this scenario will likely play out for decades, since fossils are the best-established energy source and demand is unlikely to disappear for the foreseeable future.

Woe to the developing world, already mired in the toxic muck of our insatiable lusts.

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Aha! I never trusted those damn receipts!

I had previously learned that the thermally-printed store register receipts, now so common, are not easily (if at all) recyclable, so I do not put them in the recycling bin. Now I learn they may be effing toxic!

Sheesh, everywhere I turn, it seems there's a new danger! Is ANY of our technology even benign, let alone sustainable?

I just emailed my grocery, which produces thermally-printed receipts, to ask if they use BPA-free papers (or if they even know about the problem). You might want to write to your favorite stores and inquire about same.

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Monday, July 26, 2010

America runs on corporate power

In yesterday's Sun-Times blog entry, Roger Ebert offers a frank perspective and many pointed questions regarding BP's culpability in the Gulf disaster--- and their subsequent, utterly predictable, avoidance of responsibility (e.g., they've yet to fund the $20 billion escrow fund Obama obligated them to create).

The next big revolution in America will be a revolt against the currently unlimited power corporations now enjoy.

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Friday, July 23, 2010

Really, is anyone surprised?

The New York Times reports that the Dems are unable to advance major climate change legislation before the August recess--- and perhaps not even this year. A far less comprehensive bill, one that stays in the safe territory of finger-shaking at everyone's favorite scapegoat, BP, is more likely to enjoy traction on Capitol hill.

Well, I must say, anyone who's surprised by this news probably doesn't realize just how big and powerful the fossil lobby truly is. The focus of the intended legislation was to regulate emissions from coal-fired power plants--- a major source of CO2 emissions (and mercury!)--- and coal has one big-ass lobby. Given how companies like Massey Energy can flaunt safety regulations with such bald-faced impunity--- leading to the deaths of 29 workers in one incident this year alone--- it's not in the least surprising that Sen. Reid capitulated, knowing that he could not swing 60 votes in a Dem-controlled Senate. Pathetic.

And immaterial.

We know who must lead this fight: us. All this clamoring for "leadership" from Washington is like asking trees to make it rain. We are the leaders. Congressbots respond to lobbyists, sure, but also to the will of their constituencies--- especially when that will is unequivocally expressed. Which is exactly what we must do: show them that we are in earnest in our determination to end our national addiction to oil, to break the bonds of our slavery to fossil fuels.

We must do so by using less fossil energy ourselves. And it's so easy to do! I've been trying to encourage folks in Columbus to take up the 10:10 UK cause by reducing energy consumption by 10% by the end of 2010. But the problem doesn't lie in finding 10% of fat to trim in the typical household energy budget--- it's in finding that little to trim! Once you start examining your household energy consumption, once you see how much waste is inherent in our profligate lifestyle (as evidenced by our inefficient domestic technologies), it's hard to stop at 10%!

Let us take up the challenge of change not by haranguing the congressbots, but by doing the work that must be done ourselves. If we lead, they must follow.

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Now we have their attention!

Major Big Oil players-- with the notable exception of BP-- have pooled resources to give the appearance of concern regarding potential future spills in the Gulf. At the same time, they're lobbying Congress to avoid stricter regulations in the wake of the Gulf disaster.

It's all in the name of profits, of course (they use the term "risk management") and it's a clear sign-- at $1 billion, it's quite clear-- that they're nervous about the public outcry over BP's arrogance and incompetence. That arrogant idiocy also explains why Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron, and ConocoPhillips did not include the beleaguered British company in this PR gesture, though almost certainly BP will buy their way in later, to regain some face.)

The Big Four are doubtless anticipating the usual turn of events after such environmental assaults: that the public outcry will eventually die out and they may resume their predatory, deadly practices with their usual impunity. And I expect this sequence will indeed unfold in this case as well, though (I hope) not quite as quickly as it did with the Valdez disaster.

But never forget that we have at our disposal the single most powerful tool anyone can wield against these giants: reduced demand. If applied collectively, substantial reductions in demand are the one thing corporations cannot readily defend against. We all know by now that we must get off the juice. Begin today: take an alternate method of transportation on just one of your daily trips. Do it again tomorrow and tell a friend what you are doing and you will begin to set in motion a tool so powerful that even the Exxon Mobils of the world will be brought to heel.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Life on Earth

"It's just a bug."

Everything has its niche. Until the niche disappears, each organism remains in the niche to which it is adapted; then it must adapt or find a new niche or perish.

The color coming out of the camera isn't quite true: the "white" spots are actually a pale green (to my eye) reminiscent of the Crayola color "Sea Green."

How do you celebrate life's many manifestations?

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Downsize? maybe. Rightsize? definitely!

Here's a delightful and quick video
on Jay Shafer, founder of the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company.

Imagine the savings in resources, fuels (fossil especially), purchase & construction costs, operating costs (utilities), cleaning and maintenance-- to name just a few-- that would be realized if you were to down/right-size your living situation to a more suitable size. Though most Americans would doubtless chafe at the idea of 89 square feet of living space, yet I think many (especially homeowners) would agree, if pressed, that they have more space than they need-- and pay a lot to have it, too.

How many square feet do you need? at minimum? to be comfortable?
What would you include in a home design that you don't currently have?
How might your lifestyle change if you were to down/right-size your living situation?

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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Of debts and deficits

Here's a somewhat refreshing article from Christopher Hayes in The Nation, concerning our national economic crisis.

Given its complexity at that scale, how can the average American ever hope to understand national economics? Most folks can barely balance their checkbooks or manage mounting debt, let alone comprehend a system that operates and relies on deficit spending and an uneasy, ever-shifting relationship between public and private capital. We are forced to trust (or fear, or both) the brilliant economic minds who appear to guide the system (whether they actually do so is a disturbing question for sleepless nights), such as Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke.

And they, being products of the system they help to maintain, mired in its profound complexities, cannot be expected to see its deepest flaws, nor to see beyond it to a necessary successor-- for this system is ever more apparently doomed to collapse. None of these top economists, for example, would dare suggest we develop some sort of steady-state economics; they all, in a bizarre shared delusion, continue to parrot the absurdity of infinite growth. I suspect Peak Oil will change a few of the younger, more supple of these deluded minds; others will end in despair and blathering insanity ("But--but it should work! It has to work!").

At least Hayes properly squares away the blame: our ongoing twin wars of imperialism in Iraq and Afghanistan. It's disturbing how many pundits decry the Obama administration's deficit spending as the cause of all present economic woe, and completely ignore eight or nine years of arterial bleeding that has sent our national treasure into the shifting sand and sun-baked rock of the Mid-East.

Well, honestly, I have little hope for Obama's plans, given that they merely seek to restore the system to its former track of insanity: that is, toward "economic prosperity" and "a bright future"-- all based on the lie of infinite growth.

When an entire system of thinking is based on a false premise, it can only get so far before its inevitable collapse.

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Fracking madness

This audio slideshow at Pro Publica gives one reporter's experience in western states being invaded by the natural gas boom.

The image, from the slideshow, shows the 700+ wells already drilled in a particular area. 4,400 have been approved.

Twin bills have been introduced in Congress to bring fracking under the authority of the Safe Water Act, where is belongs, and from which it was exempted by Cheney's backroom energy deals during the Bush administration.

Contact your Congresspeople today to urge passage of The FRAC Act.

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Monday, July 12, 2010

The new radicalism

The deconstruction of the mythos of the American Dream has been taking place at least since the 60s; the new radicalism espouses principles of ecological sustainability and a focus on domesticity. This article gives wonderful examples of what such a lifestyle might include.

I suspect we'll be seeing a big increase in the number of such households in the near future.

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