Monday, July 26, 2010
One very important issue continues to be the Sunflower coal fire power plant project. And it remains an important issue because it hasn't gone away yet.
There is a laundry list of concerns hovering over this project, none the least of which is simply... no one has made any effort to make sure there will be sufficient supply of coal over the long-run to even justify the expense of building the plant.
In fact, recent studies of the Wyoming coal mines indicate the two largest sources have a max of only +/-20 years of available ore. The smaller of the two only has about 7 years left!
Jobs or no jobs, what good is a coal plant if there is not enough coal available for the projected life (+/-60 years) of the plant!?
Now, that's the rational, capitalist, business minded argument; focus on checking the impact with regards to the bottom line.
The other argument is more scientifically AND emotionally based. It has to do with the impact on ... get this... EARTHLINGS and THE PLANET. Yep, that's right... the environmental impact on our ecosystem.
Notice, I say 'earthlings', and not simply, 'humans'. This planet is home to many more creatures- great and small- than you and I.
Now, as 'earthlings', the idea of saving the planet is really a red herring. Seriously, this rock has been here long before we homo sapiens ever decided we were so very important. And it will be here long after.
In fact, it's rather ludicrous to think the plant really give a hoot, or differentiates between one parasite (inhabitant) or another.
BUT WE, AS HOMO SAPIANS, MUST CARE ABOUT WHAT CONDITION WE INFLICT UPON THIS PLANT BECAUSE WE ARE THE ONES (ALONG WITH THE OTHER EARTHLINGS) WHO MUST LIVE HERE.
Coal, coal ash, soot, particulates, sulfur, mercury... this stuff is BAD in excessive quantities. The EPA says so. Heck, it's bad in small quantities, too. It just gets really bad, for the entire ecosystem, when it's continually pumped into the sky and allowed to rain down on us all.
So we don't need any more. Regardless of big business, shareholder, and profits, THE STAKEHOLDERS OF THIS STATE, COUNTRY AND PLANET deserve better.
What we need is to focus on is efficiency, reduction in consumption and adopting new technologies such as clean energy generation and storage concepts.
So please, even if you aren't worried about greenhouse gases, or climate change... think about the bottom line of consumption- someday, every consumable thing runs out. Consider this when when making your ruling on the Sunflower coal consumption project.
Saturday, January 30, 2010
my friend mike replied:
"Cap and Trade is a good concept, but can it work in the real world? who decides the total carbon amount? Who is grandfathered in? It is an incentive to reduce your carbon usage through technology by increasing the monetary compensation. Carbon commodity trading!! Will the government or free market control it?"
monetary compensation as an incentive to modify behavior? like giving my kid an allowance to clean her room?
so i thought i'd have a little fun with this one... my commentary:
i hear what you're saying mike; i suppose there are two ways to accomplish compliance- incentive or penalty.
for instance, speeding and other laws are enforced through penalty. but if we were to follow the logic of modifying behavior through monetary compensation... how about simply paying drivers not to speed?
of course, this would never happen in our world because speed limits are designed for public safety, right?
actually, i'd argue we've allowed speeding to be turned into a municipal revenue generating monster!
so following the logic any good "small-government/free open market/damn the public good/get mine now" proponent would employ... we should be wondering why cities and states get all the money from speeding!?
ok, just for fun, lets dive into this speeding thing...
why not open it up, and create a "street and driving market"? just like cap and trade will issue the original "permits" to polluters for free, simply issue all drivers permits to go fast! maybe all drivers should be allowed "x" number of speeding credits (the mechanics of this are unimportant for the current discussion; lets just say every driver gets "some").
this way the people who don't want/need to speed- even though they now have the right to speed because of the way the system is set up- can sell/trade their permits to others who want/need to go fast. the market pays them not to speed!
in turn, the "speeders" are in essence "pre-paying" the ability to go faster than posted limits.
and the seller of the permit, having been paid not to speed, won't speed because they no longer have the permit to do so... right?
come on... who's to say they won't speed at sometime in the future? do they go back to the market and buy a permit when they need to speed? and if they speed without a permit, who's to say they will actually get caught and be made to pay a penalty! do we need more speed traps and gestapo-like policing? or do we just trust people to do the right thing?
lets go one step further, and put the middle-man in place here; the broker of speeding permits. this guy matches speeders and non-speeders... for a fee. ah... economic growth!
how about this one... permits to kill people! we already permit for fishing and hunting wild animals to control population and generate revenue, why not permit human murder?
now you're speeding (because you have a permit), get in a wreck and kill someone... ok, simply use your speeding and murder credits to get out of it!
or maybe you truly hate someone, or are just really pissed off... buy a permit to knock-em off!
maybe you don't have the stomach for killing, so you SELL your permit to a professional assassin and have them do the dirty work. and lets say professional assassins buy up a bunch of killing credits. now they can legally operate their business! ah... more economic growth!
simply make it legal and generate revenue from it, rather than having it be illegal, and a financial burden on tax payers paying for prisons?
i can see all kinds of ways to make money on this thing; now the market supports brokers who specialize in bundling groups of assassins for, i don't know... hire by governments? special, military contractors? oh wait, we already have this!
of course, this is all absurd (or is it?)
if you really stop to think about it, aren't some things just too important for the common welfare? isn't our human health/well being too precious to allow it to be compromised by "permiting" something harmful, especially through profit seeking activity?
just like speed limits, carbon and other pollution regulations are designed for public safety (health and environment).
we don't get paid to drive the speed limit... why should there be a monetary incentive to do the right thing with pollution?
because it cuts into profits?
you see where i'm going with this. free markets and unregulated capitalism have limits on their ability to benefit the common welfare.
at some point, they become counter productive, reckless, bubble making implosion machines. and this typically happens at the detriment of society as a whole while benefiting a very select few. in other words, something/someone suffers great inequality or destruction.
examples of this go on and on: extinction of species, depletion of resources, loss of human life/quality of life, and greater spreads between socioeconomic status.
the bottom line... just because something can become a market, doesn't necessarily mean it should become a market.
therefore we use penalties- financial and physical (fines, fees, tariffs, surcharges, taxes, incarceration... and even death) for keeping things in check.
now lets look at cap and trade again...
just because a polluter no longer has enough credits to pollute, how do we know they won't continue to pollute?
just look at how enron was able to cook the books with off-balance sheet accounting! someone, somewhere is going to figure out a way to skirt the system, keep the "real" measure of emissions off the books, and be able to pollute/profit.
maybe they get caught, maybe not.
IN THE MEAN TIME... "WE" (THE PEOPLE OF THE WORLD) SUFFER ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE INCLUDING HEALTH ISSUES... LEADING TO MEDICAL PROBLEMS... LEADING TO INCREASED MEDICAL COSTS... LEADING TO DENIAL OF CLAIMS... LEADING TO LOWER QUALITY OF LIFE... LEADING TO MEDICAL INSURANCE PROFITS... LEADING TO GREATER DIFFERENCES IN SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS... LEADING TO UNIMAGINABLE HUMAN SUFFERING, IMBALANCE AND INEQUALITY.
is this the world you want to live in?
THE BIGGEST EMITTERS OF CARBON EMISSIONS ARE LOCAL, STATE AND FEDERAL GOVERNMENT INCLUDING THE MILITARY.
are these guys EXEMPT? or do they need carbon permits too? and if they have extra (print up a few more because they can!), should they be able to "sell" them on the open market?
if so, do these revenues REPLACE OR REDUCE some taxes, or become an additional "tax" on the people? or maybe the revenues are used to reduce the national debt or deficit?
or does this government activity in open markets actually aggravate the ability of markets to work freely, thus creating more of a bubble (just like fannie mae and freddie mac aggravated the housing bubble!)?
these are the tough questions and considerations we MUST address going forward in our global economy, global governance and global stewardship.
without dealing with these things, we are destined to repeat the failings every society from the beginning of time has eventually suffered... only worse, i fear.
all i know is cap and trade is a bad idea. anytime you put a for-profit motive above the common welfare, the welfare will suffer. period. peace.
Monday, January 25, 2010
dear earthling... learning to live on the planet's dividends instead of its capital would be a good start.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
so, if you take the financial profit motive out of the equation, does a corporate entity act the same?
in other words, regardless of the definition of earnings or ROI (return on investment), will non-profits employ the same tactics as for-profits in terms of self preservation and desire to perpetuate their existence to achieve their goals? will non-profits resort to questionable tactics, gray-area ethics, accounting tricks, lawyer driven litigation and lobbying legislation in order to make sure they maintain the ability to function?
and if the same tactics are employed by all organizations, is it just human nature... and does adding financial profit (monetary gain) into the equation lead to stronger, worse, more damaging and more often employed questionable tactics, gray-area ethics, accounting tricks, litigation and lobbying?
seriously, if a non-profit measures ROI in number of people "helped", will it stop at nothing to help as many people as possible?
the sad thing is, the vast majority of humans value their currency (and the associated perceived power) MORE than they value helping others or keeping our living environment worth living in.
how did this happen?
answering these questions, and understanding why we do the things we do, may go a long way towards helping resolve what rules, parameters and regulations ARE NECESSARY in the game of business... and life.
Friday, January 22, 2010
To some questions on his mind
Seeking truth and understanding
In the hope that he would find
A way to better serve his brothers
And his sisters in the sun
Sharing all that he has given
Giving all to everyone
Come and listen to the story
Of a journey once begun
Of a people and their plenty
And their season in the sun
And how they gave themselves to symbols
And things that they could hold
Living lives in desperation
In the fear of letting go
It amazes me
And I know the wind will surely one day
Blow it all away
It amazes me
And Im so very grateful that you made the world this way
For our plans have come together now
Where do we go from here
Will our differences divide us
Must we always live in fear
For there are things that we must move through
Some things to cast aside
But our father watches over us
Our mother will provide
It amazes me
And I know the wind will someday surely
Blow it all away
It amazes me
And Im so very grateful that you made the world this way
It amazes me
It amazes me
It amazes me
Words and music by John Denver
fast forward to yesterday, and one of my facebook friends posted a sobering status update indicating her complete fear of our next presidential election cycle given the supreme court's latest ruling on campaign finance.
and while several comments were made on her posting, one caught my attention:
"The American people raised more than $10 million in five days, at $10 a pop, by texting the American Red Cross for Haiti. We can do anything if we agree to do it. Yes, this gives the corporations amazing power, but ... also unions and other groups, too. So we just have to fight back with our dollars. When the going gets tough, the tough ORGANIZE!!!"
in my mind, this is a very small, narrow, short-term and dangerous way of thinking which only perpetuates the problem.
big picture here... i would have hoped by now it is blatantly obvious (and painfully clear) that "more" money and "more" politics ARE NOT the solution, they are the problem.
we cannot seriously believe spending MORE of this already inflated and unstable indebted currency is a viable solution! and we cannot seriously believe that giving special interests cart-blanch influence on legislative process will solve anything!
first, the american people, and the rest of the world by and far, have no clue what a monetary system really is, what the currency represents and how money works. all they know is they have paper and coin "valued" at an agreed upon rate, and it is widely accepted in trade for goods and services.
you see, people say they "make money" when they work, but they have no real idea how it gets "created".
in fact, people don't make money, they trade their labor for money. it's only when two parties "agree" one thing is equal in value to another a trade can be made. we could trade our labor for anything else just as easily, but right now, our society tends to trade for money.
- in reality, money is nothing more than debt
- more money is "made" by creating/trading additional debt
- the problem with an indebted currency is, because of compound interest, the debt can never be fully paid back
it can only be paid back in full (including interest) if the loan issuer accepts something tangible of agreed upon equal value, or by creating/injecting more money into the system.
in creating/injecting more money, more debt is created by default. this cycle repeats as everyone tries to pay back their loans.
btw, using loaned money to pay back loaned money IS A PONZI SCHEME! it will eventually collapse on itself. the fed knows this. the government knows this. bernie madoff knows this.
and because we are trading debt for goods and services, the value of goods and services are diminished even though the "price" may be increasing. this is inflation.
further, when no one will accept tangible items in trade, the value of money increases disproportionally with the tangibles we need. consequently, these become more expensive even though they are physically the same things they were the day before.
money has been the fuel of consumption in our mad-consumer society, and it has become synonymous with wealth and status.
i tell you, money does not equal wealth or status. in fact, i would argue that the more "money" one amasses, the more contempt one has for life and living.
now more than ever, the political machine, fed by "money", is being allowed to overtake our government and its ability to govern for the common welfare. the common good is obsolete, and profit motivated special interests reign supreme. anyone who believes otherwise has been blinded by false promises and narrow world focus.
while we are all chasing our tails in circles of debt and trying to reach the carrot at the end of the stick, the worlds natural resources and ecosystems are being ravaged by these very corporations who now have an unlimited voice, not to mention the supreme court's blessing, in our legislative process.
and i believe it is equally distasteful that with this new supreme court ruling, labor unions and any other group for that matter, will have the same obscene spending ability to promote their self-serving agendas unchecked.
it's bad enough they all do it through back-room lobbyists, but now with soft campaign contributions up until election day... ugh!
the only way to affect real change is to void the value placed in this false idol known as money (that jesus guy, a very radical community organizer, had it right when he ransacked the market in the synagogue), demand the debt be retired, refuse to be a "mindless consumer" and return our focus of value to people, community, health and wellness, personal accountability, unrestricted education and higher learning, innovation, craftsmanship, art, the pursuit of knowledge, and stewardship of our environment. this will only happen with a massive grass-roots effort. we cannot count on career legislative politicians to look out for the public good when their own jobs (and money) are on the line.
and moving on to the environment for a moment, please take note... cap and trade is nothing more than a money making scheme by for-profit corporations and investment bankers/traders to continue depleting resources, controlling the debt, and keeping apathetic "workers" on the treadmill under the fictitious impression of someday becoming "wealthy".
cap and trade will not lead to environmental repair. it will create an economic bubble (just as it did in europe), lead to increased pollution, and further concentrate control of debt in the hands of bankers and speculative traders (bookies and gamblers).
the only real way to reduce carbon emissions is to reduce carbon burning. the only way to clean up pollution is to let the planet heal and return to balance. the earth was here long before humans started thinking we were so important, and it will be here long after we learn how unimportant we are.
politicians, bankers, and now for-profit corporations treated as individuals have only self-interest at heart. yet these are who we allow to be our leaders.
we need a rise of a global "smart" party. we need a rise of global selfless leaders. we need to return focus on stewardship rather than consumption. we need to remove indebted currency from the equation. we need to promote exploration and research, and measure wealth in terms of knowledge instead of money.
we may never be able to remove the animal from human nature, but we can make conscious decisions to get past greed and fear of loss. really, there is enough for everyone, and the planet can sustain us if we steward our resources with respect.
the planet was here long before we were, and will be here long after we cease to exist. the question is, how long can we sustain our existence on the planet? what (if anything) will we be remembered for?
Thursday, January 21, 2010
"The Supreme Court decision stripped away rules that limited the ability of corporations, unions and other organizations to fund and organize their own political campaigns for or against candidates. The court also struck down a part of the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance law that prevented any independent political group from running advertisements with 30 days of a primary election or 60 days before a general election. Together, the decisions make it easier for corporations, labor unions and other entities to mount political campaigns for and against candidates for Congress and the White House."
This is amazing! The lines of free speech have now been bastardized beyond any reasonable expectation our constitutional congress had in mind.
It is a well established ruling that we cannot (and should not) yell "FIRE" in a crowded theater if in fact there is no fire. Common sense, really. But the Supreme Court ruling as such was made FOR THE COMMON GOOD. FOR THE BENEFIT OF ALL.
Removing campaign finance regulation does completely the opposite. It removes safe-guards that were in place specifically for the common good.
You see, every game has rules and regulations. Period. Boundaries are crucial for games to have a level playing field. And don't think for a second our democracy isn't a game. It has winners, it has losers, and it has bitter rivals pitted against one another. And it is a participatory spectator sport for sure!
Basically, campaign finance regulation IS a boundary which gives participants in our democracy game a level footing for their vote; it is a limit on the potential influence a financially privileged group can have over the less wealthy.
It IS NOT a limit on free speech! It is a limit on free-reign!
Anyone can still say whatever they want, however they want, for as long as they want... until the money runs out. This way, the financial influence of a privileged group CANNOT (AS THEY SHOULD NOT) have greater ability to influence our government.
CAREER POLITICIANS are not public servants. They are in their position for no other reason than to promote special interests.
This ACTIVIST court of ours has now taken us one step closer to the marriage of the corporation and government... a fascist state.
Here is a quote from Chris Hedges (and if you don't know who he is, GOOGLE IT!)
"We live in a corporate state. We live in a state that no longer responds to the interests of its citizens, but does the bidding of corporations. There is no shortage of examples of that, from the largest transference of wealth upwards in American history, to the so-called healthcare debate, where for profit healthcare industries are literally profiting off of death, any debate about healthcare must begin from the factual understanding that the for profit healthcare industry is the problem. Then we can debate what we do. But unfortunately, and many, many citizens know that, across the floor, but we can’t have it because we are completely controlled. We’ve undergone a kind of coup d‘etat in slow motion. We live in a kind of inverted totalitarianism where the façade of democracy and the constitution are held up as an ideal but the actual levers of power are driven by very destructive forces."
And be sure to check this out...
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
In chapter three now, but chapter two actually grabbed my attention on something quite remarkable. It seems there is a Native American tribe in Wisconsin, the Menominee, who appear to actually have a method of forest management that works.
Strictly by the numbers:
Their 235K acres inventoried 1.3billion standing board feet of timber in 1870.
Through current day, the Menominee have harvested nearly 2.25billion board feet
Their 235K acres inventoried 1.7billion standing board feet of timber in 2009
So let me get this straight... over 140 years, this group of Native Americans have not only harvested twice the amount of lumber originally available in 1870, but have actually INCREASED the current available lumber inventory by .4 billion board feet!
How can this be?
We all know the way to get lumber is to clear cut, slash and burn, and get boards to market as fast as possible, right?
And did I mention the living ecosystem within the forest is healthier and thriving more than ever?
WHAT IS THEIR SECRET?
Well, it seems the Menominee tend to cut only the weaker trees, leaving the strong "mother trees"- and enough of the upper canopy- available for the forest to remain intact.
You see, the Menominee realize their wants and needs are secondary. And not just secondary, but beyond a certain point, frivolous and wasteful. They realize they are guests of the forest too- just as are the other inhabitants. And in fact, they care much more deeply for what the forest wants and needs than their own gain.
Simply, they know that the forest cannot provide if it does not exist.
To this end, I issue a challenge... to try this for a month: take only the things you "need" and half of what you "want". Determine your actual requirements for reasonable living, but not to excess. See what you can live without. Drive less. Consolidate errands. Buy locally. Turn out the lights. Carpool. Find your limits. Make conscious buying and consumption decisions. Be engaged. Be aware.
I'm guessing you will not only have more bank account left at the end of the month, but you will have less clutter and a better sense of your forest.
Sustainability begins with stewardship. What could it hurt to try? Peace.
- Government, noun- the individual or group of individuals accepted by a group to administer the established rule of order for the common welfare
- Government, verb/action- to govern; the administration of an established rule of order accepted by a group for the common welfare
- Politics, verb- the art of promoting special interests for a narrow few.
Hypothesis: A government's role in society is to provide infrastructure, security and public services for the common good.
Observation: When politics/special interests are injected in a body who's sole purpose is to serve the common good, then no good can come of it.
Conclusion: Government and politics have no business being associated with each other.
Digression: While practicing politics and when their own futures are uncertain (financially and otherwise), Government (legislators and officials) have absolutely no interest in the common good of the people they govern. They simply bend to the whim of the highest contributing special interest in an effort to keep their jobs.
Noteworthy: Funny how bitter rivals within our system of government become best of friends when their jobs are not on the line (Clinton the first and Bush the second are now "best buds" when it comes to rushing to the aid of the impoverished nation of Haiti when pummeled by a natural disaster.) But note how we never saw them rushing to help lift Haitians out of their daily squalor before the disaster. Maybe they are still practicing politics?
Friday, January 15, 2010
The story broadcast on Jan 11th regarding the CIA death in Afghanistan really got my attention. Not for the heart-wrenching feelings of loss, or even the "compromised" security which led to the infiltration and suicide bombing, but for the simple word, "officers."
DEBORAH AMOS, host:
We're learning more about a suicide bomber in Afghanistan as well as his victims. Elsewhere in today's program, we profiled the man who killed seven officers of the CIA. Now, we have the story of one of his victims.
I take exception to the lead-in for this story referencing the killing of 7 "officers" of the CIA. The word officers typically indicates a military or law enforcement designation of authority. The CIA is neither of these. CIA employs agents, operatives and even spies if you must, but not officers. Referencing workers of an ultra-secret, unchecked, clandestine organization as "officers" brings up images of Hitler's SS squads running rampant throughout WWII Europe. Further, what business is it of the CIA to be conducting war operations alongside military contractors anyway? If we have now blindly accepted the CIA as "officers" with military/law enforcement authority, then God help us.
I feel for the families and their losses. However, if the "agents" died in the line of duty, no matter what the instrument of death, it was their choice of career that put them in the line of fire. Should we not expect our enemies to fight back? War is war. These agents of the CIA had no trouble when they were on the delivering end of death- guiding unmanned drones into enemy positions and dropping explosive payloads. How many people, collateral and otherwise, had they themselves killed before being removed from the battlefield too? War is war.
Friday, January 8, 2010
Basically, the news is Honeywell- the ginormous defense contractor- is planning a new nuclear weapons components facility to replace the aging (and hazardous) Bannister plant (http://economy.kansascity.com/?q=node/5469)
The gist of article is as follows:
- The project would build a 1.4 million-square-foot campus at Missouri 150 and Botts Road
- The agreement, which has been in the works for two years, would keep 2,100 jobs currently at the plant which manufactures 85 percent of the non-nuclear parts for the nation’s nuclear weapons arsenal.
- The developer, CenterPoint Zimmer LLC, must obtain final private financing for the project by March 31
- The project requires city approval because it calls for using a $2.6 million annual property tax abatement over 25 years
- The timetable calls for the first buildings to open by July 2012
As such, the keynote address tonight delivered a rousing message regarding the development of this new facility. The big take away for me was two fold:
1) As of yet, there is no written plan or guarantee from the government to CLEAN UP THE OLD FACILITY. If there is any question about what this means, just think, "Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant" and put a dollar sign on it.
2) The new facility, which is supposed to be financed by the private for-profit developer and run by a private for-profit defense contractor, is actually being funded with tax dollars through a mysterious $79Million "budget allocation" earmark added in such a way as it will not need to be approved through appropriations subcommittees and such.
I won't digress into the politics or launch wild accusations of cronyism, but all you have to do is follow the money to see how this is happening. Look for connections among the players; Centerpoint/Zimmer, Kit Bond, KC Southern, Honeywell, General Services Administration, and the new intermodal rail project. Put the pieces together for yourself.
Things that make you go hmmmm...
Before we as Kansas Citians are force fed our very own private Love Canal, and our children's children are faced with cleaning up a toxic nightmare- or worse yet, some developer ends up building a school or housing project right on top of this crap because he gets a good deal on some cheap land- get into the game, step up to the plate and swing for the fence on this one.
It is expected on Jan 14th, the City Council's Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will consider and OK the development plan. This is an open hearing. You have every right, and an obligation as a citizen, to attend.
DON'T LET THEM DO IT WITHOUT A COMPREHENSIVE, WRITTEN PLAN FROM YOUR FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO CLEAN UP THE OLD SITE.
BETTER YET, DON'T LET THEM APPROVE THE PLANT AT ALL BECAUSE HEY, WE DON'T NEED TO SPEND $79MM TAX DOLLARS ON NUKES "AND" GIVE THE DEVELOPER/OPERATOR OVER $40MM IN TAX BREAKS ON TOP IF IT.
YEA! That sounds like a fair trade. A worthwhile expenditure. A way to make a real difference for our future.
We're simply trading education, infrastructure and community dollars for war, destruction and nuclear weapons dollars.
You can argue jobs, jobs, jobs all you want. But I will argue, "exactly what kind of jobs do you want for our future?"
Is selling our environmental soul for a quick buck today really the message we want to send? Is continuing to perpetuate a nuclear world the direction we want to go?
Haven't we already proved nuclear weapons are a bad idea?
More nukes do not and will never make us safer as a community, nation or world. Period. But unchecked toxic waste dumps and lining pockets through politics will always deteriorate our society.
Do your own research and then go ahead and contact your mayor (816.513.3500 or email@example.com) and your City Council too (816.513.1368) to tell them what YOU think about this.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
rather, it's about learning to live/coexist within our environment. it's about taking care of what we have. it's about not consuming/using things until they are completely gone. it's about optimizing our existence- not maximizing take, or minimizing give. it's about all things.
it's about sustainability, and sustainability begins with stewardship. asking ourselves how long we want to be here, and in what condition do we want to live?
you see, the planet survived long before we arrived, and will be here long after we depart. but don't you just hate it when someone pisses in the swimming pool and ruins it for everyone?
We say these things in jest, of course, just to comment on and cope with the extreme weather events. After all, we've got to have something clever to say at the cocktail party, right?
And while the slide toward chit-chat, banter and small talk is an easy ride, made easier by a vodka-tonic, we inevitably fail to grasp the moment to talk "big", smart, intelligently and god-forbid, proactively.
So next time you are tempted to dumb-down to the lowest common denominator in the room, here are a few REAL talking points which may (or may not) make a difference in someone's point of view. However, you will have at least PROACTIVELY made the attempt at disseminating usable information:
- Global warming is typically referenced in the contemporary as the overall increase in the average temperature of Earth's near-surface air and oceans since the mid-20th century and its projected continuation.
- As one might expect, global temperature is subject to short-term fluctuations that overlay long term trends and can temporarily mask them. The relative stability in temperature from 1999 to 2009 is consistent with such an episode.
- Climate change, on the other hand, is a change in the statistical distribution of weather and regional climate characteristics, including temperature, humidity, rainfall, wind, and severe weather events over periods of time that range from decades to millions of years. It can be a change in the average weather or a change in the distribution of weather events around an average (for example, greater or fewer extreme weather events).
- It is predicted that future climate changes will include further global warming (i.e., an upward trend in global mean temperature), sea level rise, and a probable increase in the frequency of some extreme weather events.
Monday, January 4, 2010
her storyofstuff is an amazing project, and is "smart" enough to be provoking, but "simple" enough to be accessible.
enjoy the teaser video clip below and forget scare tactics such as rumors of $10-$15 per gallon fuel... the go directly to www.storyofstuff.com now and learn about the real reasons cap-and-trade is a bad idea.
what i was thinking, other than the stunning $1billion attention getter, was how the same old message was updated, repackaged, and resold. more so than any other movie i've seen in a while, these characters were cookie-cutter stereotypes. the corp guy was a greedy yes-man bastard, the military commander was a macho meathead jock, the scientist was a pawn, and our hero was the "disadvantaged" underdog.
this movie was so dumbed-down, so simple, so obvious, its no wonder no one thinks about the message... they don't have to think at all!
then i was thinking of all the contemporary movies with the same storyline... my list is as follows: alien, braveheart, dances with wolves, the abyss, waterworld, the day after tomorrow and pocahontas. and i'm sure there are more, older movies too, with the same story lines, i just can't think of them at this moment.
but since there really wasn't anything new in this film, other than the medium, all i can surmise is mr. cameron was just out to generate MORE income for his empire. is he an artist? is he a businessman? is he a rainmaker? has he done more good than harm? can he use the proceeds of his blockbuster to do something meaningful? what's his game? time will tell.
In previous posts, I've commented on the blatant lies and misleading efforts put forth by spam emails- you know, the kind people blindly forward for whatever reason.
Well, 2010 wasn't even two days old when I received my first of the new year. Funny thing, it wasn't anything new. In fact, it was just another recycled extremist propaganda piece. This time though, it really pushed my buttons.
The photos was of yours truly Obama and the Mrs., standing at attention, pledging allegiance to the flag, with the following commentary:
"Hard to believe, but the attached photo shows two citizens saluting the American flag with the wrong hand! Their wedding rings, American flag lapel pin, and the mans suit coat buttons show that the photo hasnt been flipped. Im not amazed, just saddened by their ignorance!"
Not to be content with simply knowing better, I was compelled to speak out with a mass email of my own to those on the list who received the original offending spam. Here is what I put out there:
To all... I don't care what your politics, punditry, jingoistic bantering, knuckle-dragging or general laziness may truly say about your purported position in life or even your level of susceptibility to various kool-aid drinking offers... but I am just saddened by YOUR ignorance, and willingness to blindly pass along falsehoods which- regardless of your politics- demean a man and his wife... not to mention YOUR Commander in Chief.
To accuse, label and libel a person with false evidence is by its very nature the definition of fascism. Should I believe YOU are actually Neo-Nazis attempting to subvert YOUR DEMOCRACY?
CHECK YOUR FACTS. THIS ONE TOOK ABOUT 1 SECOND (0.35 TO BE EXACT) ON GOOGLE TO FIND: http://www.snopes.com/politics/obama/photos/lefthand.asp
Haven't we enough problems to solve TOGETHER without continually resorting to separatist fear tactics?
Matter of fact... why don't you spend your obvious excess of free time tracking down some REAL issues which are at the core of the decline of life on this rock (not just the "American way of life", but earth inhabitants- human and otherwise- in general)?
Here is some research material for you: http://storyofstuff.com/
GET ON BOARD, OR STEP OFF. IT'S NOT THAT HARD, PEOPLE. WHAT ARE YOU SO SCARED OF?
So there you are. I believe the tone has been set, possibly for the decade. The message is ¡Ya basta! ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
Beyond morals, or religion, or whatever deity you subscribe... ask yourself what it is you truly value?
If you value your integrity, your reputation, your name... then you should understand others might value the same. Follow the golden rule; do unto others; treat others as you would be treated.
We will not be overrun by small, weak minded simpletons. We know better. We're smarter than that. We command our futures. We stand for truth.
Just as the email spam isn't anything new, neither is this message; just repackaged and updated for a new day.
Happy new year, all. May this post find you happy, healthy, safe, and motivated.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Today's news report (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=114055974) stating the likelihood of biofuel laws actually causing higher levels of global warming or climate change is just one more example of how we humans still haven't managed to get a grip on managing our occupancy of this planet.
Specifically, we continue to consume disproportionately compared to our ability to renew and replenish. Haven't we learned anything from over-hunting, over-fishing, over-building... and oh yea, over polluting?
My blog post on Jan 27th speaks to much of this, as it relates to biofuels production/usage in Bolivia. Notably, I make mention of deforestation concerns as well as opportunity costs.
So lets continue this conversation in light of today's revelation that current methods of "accounting" for carbon emissions do not paint a complete picture. Gee, there's a f-ing surprise!
In general, we as humans lack balance. Not that we don't have the ability to find balance, but by nature, we take actions based on self-gratification and personal gain rather than global, or even regional, balance. And this inevitably takes the form of monetary pursuits.
Does today's report on "carbon accounting" mean we shouldn't be using biofuels? OF COURSE NOT! But no doubt, the argument will be made that "biofuels are bad", and we should simply continue down our path of petroleum infrastructure.
As I am well know for saying... ENOUGH!
EXTREMES, WHETHER REFERRING TO THE STATUS QUO OR THE LATEST AND GREATEST, ARE NOT CONDUCIVE TO SUSTAINABILITY. ACTIONS OR POLICIES DON'T HAVE TO BE EITHER ONE WAY OR ANOTHER. THEY NEED TO BE BALANCED TO REPRESENT CURRENT CONDITIONS AND LONG TERM SUSTAINABILITY.
Referring back to my very first blog post Nov 22, '08, this is called OPTIMIZATION.
Further, while economic growth is a component of well-being, it is not synonymous with well-being. We don't NEED to maximize economic growth/development to be better off. In fact, massive economic growth often comes at great cost.
Here's an eye-opener.... environmental stewardship is a component of economic development. It's not the only component, but it is a significant piece of the puzzle because... it represents the space in which we all live! Without taking care of our space, we cannot live. Duh!
Petroleum isn't bad. Fossil fuels aren't bad. Biofuels aren't bad. Producing and/or consuming any of these isn't bad.
But over-production of any, driven by over-consumption of all, IS bad.
You see, attempting to satisfy ALL of our needs, whatever they may be, from ONE source IS a bad idea. And wrecking any particular ecosystem in attempting to do so IS REALLY BAD. This is especially evident when considering the destructive nature of typical economic development.
When human motivation is driven solely by monetary gain, we tend to overlook the ancillary or downstream effects of our actions. We then try to “fix” things with “affirmative action” initiatives (whether it's to rectify racial, social or economic inequalities) in hopes our reactive policies counterbalance our lack of foresight.
Truth: They rarely, if ever, do.
This is of course the paradox of humanity: our growth, our desire for advancement and development, may ultimately bring our demise.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
when we buy a house, lenders require we pay PMI if we don't have 20% equity. but again, it's our choice of whether or not to pay PMI simply by renting instead of buying, or waiting until we have 20% down payment before taking the plunge. it's all our choice.
basically, we pay “extra” for these privileges.
but can our elected leaders really require/force/mandate us to buy health insurance just for “existing” in this country? just to "live"? requiring health insurance? is it such a privilege to be born in the USA?
come on, really... what will requiring health insurance truly accomplish?
plain and simple, someone's going to get rich over this. guess who? that's right... the insurance companies! big business. the "financial" world. can you say AIG, banks, investment houses and stock exchanges.
the focus has been shifted away from promoting the healthy well-being of our nation, and put squarely on simply making money, (which, by the way, is a far cry from truly becoming wealthy or even amassing wealth).
now for a dose of common sense...
the concept of “health insurance” is bs. we don't buy “health” insurance to keep us healthy, we buy “medical insurance” to treat us when something goes wrong.
and the way we live, something is bound to go wrong!
so here's the rub... with all this talk about reforming the "health care system"... no one is addressing the real issue, OUR HEALTH! they're just talking about how to pay for the EVER INCREASING MEDICAL COSTS of taking care of people who can't/don't/won't take care of themselves.
now, that's easy for me to say. i'm relatively healthy. i don't suffer from any chronic medical ills. i don't live a "dangerous" lifestyle. i don't do drugs, drink heavily, or hang out with those who do. i live in a “clean” area away from toxic dumps/landfills, factories and high-voltage power lines. living choices make a huge impact on a persons "health" and the likelihood of needed medical care.
the issues we need to solve aren't whether or not any person has "health insurance", or even “medical insurance”, the issues we need to solve are:
(1) the insane costs of "medical care"
(2) the insanely crap food in our stores and poor nutrition in our diets
(3) the insanely toxic levels of environmental pollution and contaminants
(4) the insane phobia(s) of "getting sick", and the over-dispensing of antibiotics
(5) the lack of real "diagnostics” by medical professionals who would rather throw pills at us which are marketed to them by companies engineering "fixes" to problems they caused in the first place
(6) the lack of knowledge, or desire for knowledge, of the general public as to personal responsibility for our own health
it is said insurance is shared risk. in reality, it's a profit driven business, based on legalized gambling, which aggregates a large pool of people and bets the money collected in premiums, once invested (wagered in the markets), will have a future value GREATER than any investment LOSSES and/or claim payouts.
and because it is a profit-driven corporation, it has no tolerance for financial losses... including payouts. in other words, it has no interest in PEOPLE'S best interest outside of the corporation's shareholders. so it relies on minimizing risk. for health insurance companies, this means convincing as many healthy people as possible to pay as much money in premiums as they are willing to tolerate in order to "fund" a portfolio of bets.
let's look at this from a healthy person's point of view...
every year i'll get a cold in the winter and maybe the flu for a week or so, but nurse myself with rest, OJ/vitamin c, soft kleenex, and maybe some aspirin if a headache gets really bad. i haven't been to the doctor in over 5 years, and then it was only for a shot of cortizone for a massive case of poison ivy (btw, i've mitigated my own risk of acquiring poison ivy since then by being more vigilant of where i enjoy my outdoor activities)!
consequently, my personal annual “health care” costs are pretty low, and basically limited to my nutrition and fitness decisions, personal hygiene, and watching where i romp through the woods.
but lets say i'm REQUIRED by law to buy health insurance.
now i have to shell out $xxx per month premium. what did that do? leaves less in my budget to afford natural, raw, organic, hormone/steroid/pesticide free food, other healthy living necessities and all of my other pursuits of life, liberty and happiness.
to minimize my monthly premium, i might choose a high deductible. what does this do? on top of paying a monthly premium and having less in my budget for healthy foods and living, it means IF if MUST go to the doctor for something, i end up paying for most, if not all of the bill.
lets use the poison ivy example...
say my premium is $80/month to get 80/20 coverage with a $2500 deductible, $30 co-pay (that was my actual cost last time i had health insurance). i pay 12 months of premiums ($960), then have an "urgent care" visit costing $630 ($200 for the doctor, $300 for the care center, $100 for the shot and $30 for the co-pay).
i pay the $30, and get a bill for my 20% portion of the deductible as my responsibility for the treatment ($120). this means on top of the $960 i paid all year for "coverage", i end up paying another $150 (120+30).
do the math... total out-of-pocket annual “health care” cost... $1110. hummmmm.... what the...?
DO YOU SEE THE PROBLEM? NO, I DON'T THINK YOU DO!!!
THE PROBLEM IS THE $100 SHOT OF CORTIZONE COSTS $500 TO ADMINISTER!!!!!! Further, i'd like to know if the cortizone itself really costs $100? and THE BIGGEST PROBLEM OF ALL... I WAS WILLING TO PAY $1100 FOR IT!!!!! WTF????
i would have been better off, financially, paying the $600 out of pocket (or even NEGOTIATING with the provider for a lower cost!), and spending the remainder of the $1110 buying locally grown food, and other healthy living choices.
now lets look at the flip side... the sick, chronically ill, injured, whatever.
for instance, lets say i get injured in a car wreck on the way to get my cortizone shot. ironic! end up in the hospital while going to the hospital.
ok, so my ER visit gets expensive... say $5000 for a minor injury/overnight and $25000+ for something reeeeealy bad. with my insurance, i'm on the hook for the co-pay and deductible. i've paid $960 into a system for the privilege of paying another $2600 (2500 deduct + 100 ER co-pay). my "insurance" covers the other 2500 to 22500, right?
no... they NEGOTIATE A SETTLEMENT with the care provider for much less.
you see, hospitals jack up the cost of treatment because they know insurance companies will never pay the full amount. so hospital fee schedules are set HIGH ABOVE THE ACTUAL COST OF TREATMENT so by the time the insurance company settles, the true cost of care is hopefully covered. they are playing games with our money... and our medical/health care!
now lets talk about the seriously ill. I have great sympathy for people with circumstances beyond their control, especially through no fault of their own. but there's a difference between the guy who wrecks his health with drugs and alcohol vs the guy who has a god-given birth defect, degenerative genetic condition, (although it could be argued alcoholism and drug dependency are degenerative genetic conditions affecting the brain) or gets clobbered in a head-on car accident. regardless, choices are made, and everything we do (or happens to us) is preventable and/or treatable with the right attitude and a reasonable approach.
ok, so don't bitch about something unless you are willing to propose a solution, right?
i propose instead of requiring "health insurance", we require “healthy living insurance” for everyone. "healthy living insurance" should simply be an integrated component of things we already do:
(1) if you drive, your healthy living insurance should be part of your auto insurance, fuel costs or road usage
(2) if you are a student, your healthy living insurance should be part of your tuition
(3) if you are a worker, your healthy living insurance should be part of your job
"healthy living insurance" would be a used to help offset the costs of healthy living, and provide medical coverage for you and your dependents. a person would use the benefits to get discounts on fresh organic foods, nutritional supplements, fitness club memberships, exercise/fitness equipment, etc. and if god forbid you "come down" with something major (cancer) or minor (a cold), get in a wreck, or some other emergency, then "medical coverage" kicks in.
further, if you do all three of the above (drive, learn or work), you should have the choice of which one you want your insurance through- you can pick the cheapest if you want. or maybe the one with the best benefits. whatever. but if you don't drive, learn or work, then you are a “dependent” and your insurance should be part of your caretaker's coverage.
ok, we've addressed the issues, we've proposed a solution, and we've attempted to do it with a healthy dose of common sense.
is this a perfect plan? no way, nothing's perfect. is this the best solution, or even a good one? maybe not. but does it address the core of our problems? yes. does it focus on prevention vs reaction? yes. and does it promote PEOPLE'S control over their own health? absolutely!
there are three institutions in our world where corporate profit mentality has no business being involved: education, government and medical care. these are the areas of our lives where "no compromise" should be the rule. no one should be excluded, no one should be exempt and no one should ever be denied full participation. and in our capitalist democracy, it should all be done with a non-profit approach. the focus should be on public service and these institutions should break-even only. money in should equal money out based on audited budgets, fair pricing and reasonable operating expenses- including salaries.
let me say one final thing in terms of our government requiring we buy health insurance; i refuse to pay into a mandatory system, even under threat of fines and penalties, which FORCES ME TO "SHARE THE RISK" OF THE GUY WHO WON'T EXERCISE AND SITS ON THE COUCH ALL DAY EATING CORN CHIPS, DONUTS, CHICKEN NUGGETS AND SODAS WHILE PLAYING X BOX AND WATCHING AMERICAN IDOL.
kiss my ass... i'm moving off-shore!
we need to take control of our lives and our world. we need to take it back from career politicians and run-away corporate greed. and above all, we need to regain a sense of sustainable, healthy living.
Monday, September 14, 2009
> I guess I must be on the wrong page on this "clunker" stuff ...
> A vehicle at 15 mpg and 12,000 miles per year uses 800 gallons a year of gasoline.
> A vehicle at 25 mpg and 12,000 miles per year uses 480 gallons a year.
> The average clunker transaction will reduce US gasoline consumption by 320 gallons per year.
> They claim 700,000 vehicles – so that's 224 million gallons per year.
> That equates to a bit over 5 million barrels of oil.
> 5 million barrels of oil is about ¼ of one day's US consumption.
> 5 million barrels of oil costs about $350 million dollars at $75 per bbl.
> So, we all contributed to spending $3 billion...to save $350 million.
> Hmmm! How good a deal was that?
> I'm thinking that they will probably do a great job with health care though!
And now it's my turn
Great analysis. But like most conservative and short term (instant gratification) mentality, the author is missing the point.
Lets talk about "first costs" vs "lifecycle costs", and do the same analysis. The basic premise for this analysis says your investment in the first 20% of your "project" (whatever it happens to be) determines the overall costs of the lifetime (remaining 80%) of the project.
For instance, by planning and spending wisely when constructing a house, building or other structure (efficient windows, roofing material, earth contact, insulation, appliances, hvac, smart grid circuits, geothermal/ground source, solar/battery/inverter, proper geographic positioning, good use of landscaping and shade, rainwater recovery, etc., etc., etc.), the overall costs of ownership in terms of utility, maintenance and other "operational" expenses are greatly reduced. Additionally, the resale value isn't dependent on market bubbles for increased valuation, but is inherently built into the property. And note, we haven't even talked about the GLOBAL implications such as reduced energy consumption necessitating less energy production and thus lower carbon emissions.
This mindset looks at overall sustainability of an effort and it's impact far beyond today's bank account balance and any short-term gain.
OK, now lets look at the clunker program in the same light.
The average age of the car being traded in was +/-14 years (http://www.autoobserver.co
So lets say the new, more efficient vehicle is going to be on the road for 14 years (not necessarily with the same owner, but at least for that many years.)
Note that one 42gal gallon barrel of crude oil yields 19.5 gallons of gasoline (http://en.allexperts.com/q
So 19.5/42 = 46% yield.
Next, 14 years of better mileage * 224 million gallons = 3,136,000,000 gallons saved.
3,136,000,000 is 46% of what number? 6,817,391,304 (barrels)
At $75 per barrel = $511,304,347,800
So we spent 3 billion to save 511 billion over 14 years? Seems pretty good to me!!!
AND WE HAVEN'T EVEN CONSIDERED THE ENVIRONMENTAL (LIFECYCLE) SAVINGS OF BURNING 3.136 BILLION LESS GALLONS IN TERMS OF CARBON EMISSIONS...
AND WE HAVEN'T EVEN CONSIDERED THE ENVIRONMENTAL (LIFECYCLE) SAVINGS OF NOT HAVING TO FIND, EXTRACT AND REFINE 6.817 BILLION BARRELS...
NOT TO MENTION THE BENEFITS OF REDUCING OUR DEPENDENCY ON SAUDI ARABIA/FOREIGN OIL WHICH "CONSERVATIVES" SAY THEY ARE ALL ABOUT DOING!!!!
Now lets say that the buyers of the 700,000 new vehicles only keep them 5 years, then sell to someone who is still driving a clunker. But first, lets concede that 30% of these are taken out of commission due to wrecks and/or other salvage. This still takes ANOTHER 490,000 CLUNKERS OFF THE ROAD in 5 years! And since those 700,000 buyers will most likely need a replacement vehicle, you know they are buying one that gets at least as good or better MPG. Do the math, and that saves a bunch more gallons, barrels, emissions, and dependency on foreign oil!!!
HERE'S THE POINT...
TYPICAL SHORT TERM, NARROW MINDED AND INSTANT GRATIFICATION AMERICAN THINKING WILL KEEP US IN THE STONE AGES.
STOP A MOMENT AND CONSIDER SOMETHING BEYOND YOUR OWN DOORSTEP, AND YOU MIGHT SEE THAT THERE'S A WHOLE WORLD OUT THERE THAT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO PASS ON (IN GOOD SHAPE!) TO THE NEXT GENERATION.
And as for the comment about healthcare... before anyone points fingers, you better take a look within as to WHY we are in the shape (physically) we're in. The concept of "healthcare" in the US is the biggest BS of the century! We need "well care" in terms of promoting nutrition, eating locally and in season, physical fitness, clean environment, lower consumption and pollution, and REAL education standards/values that enable sustainable, common sense living in terms of these considerations.
Friday, August 28, 2009
first, we trust the govt to insure our banks and our most prize possession, MONEY... true?
we even trust the govt to manage our money (IRS and FED)... yes?
and we already trust the govt with our lives (EPA, armed forces FEMA, and any number of other bureaucratic institutions), right?
so why won't we trust them with our health insurance?
in my mind, this question actually contains the answer...
this country, (our people and our leaders) are generally REACTIVE rather than PREVENTIVE. we, as a society, do not take responsibility for PREVENTING health problems, we simply deal with them when they show up... AND THAT TAKES A LOT OF MONEY IN OUR CAPITALIST ECONOMY.
further, the basic reason we shouldn't trust our govt to insure our health care is BECAUSE THEY HAVE NO PLAN TO PROMOTE OUR WELLNESS.
all, AND I MEAN ALL of our health problems- as a culture- are environmental in nature. we are what we eat. we are products of where/how we live. we are direct results of our choices.
eat growth hormones, pesticides, too much animal protein and processed starches, yellow number 5, etc., and you've got a recipe for A HEALTH DISASTER. add this to sitting static in front of the video game box and you've got a society that has no hope of ever being "well".
in all the debate about "health care" NO ONE is talking about "WELLNESS CARE".
if anything, our govt needs to be spending time and money promoting values such as smart nutritional education and eating habits, high standards of physical activity and fitness, sourcing food locally, eating in season, and general sustainable practices.
why won't this happen?
the govt and the corporation (big ag and big pharma- nearly one in the same!) have too much invested in keeping us down, sick, and "middle class poor". we buy drugs, we work to death, and we sustain the financial elite; the "upper class"
class isn't a state of financial position... it is a state of PERCEPTION based on a set of values. if society values money, but you don't have much, you are seen as "low class".
BUT, if society values education, intelligence, nutrition, healthy living and being around like-mined people- and you are educated, smart, eat well, live well and have similar friends, THEN REGARDLESS OF YOUR FINANCIAL POSITION, YOU ARE HIGH CLASS!!!
as a race (the human race!) achievement cannot be measured in money. we have to be smarter than that.
achievement must be measured in longevity of our existence. and this is a function of smart decision on WELLNESS, not health care or even insurance.
you know the old saying, "an apple a day keeps the doctor away."?
well... what if it true! wouldn't it be a super simple way to take command of our lives? here's some news... it won't hurt to try!!! i don't believe there is a documented case where having an apple a day has ever caused anyone any harm.
we must take command of our lives, as a nation and as a planet. we need to promote sustainable agriculture in each region, sustainable water systems (both fresh water AND sewage treatment), physical fitness, set HIGH standards for educational studies and generally work together in raising everyone up to a higher level across the board.
no doubt greed, fear and ignorance will get in the way. and not everyone is born with the same advantages/disadvantages as everyone else. but values of hard work (mental and physical) for personal achievement must be brought to the front and put in front of corporate gain.
intelligence is a function of genetics. education is a function of desire. common sense is a function of life. regardless of where we come from, all are at our disposal.
parents MUST take responsibility for their offspring. teachers MUST take responsibility for their occupation. and each individual MUST be responsible for themselves.
call me a flaming liberal, a raging conservative, a heartless capitalist, a compassionate do-gooder, a ruthless no-gooder or a complete nut-job... I DON'T CARE.
just call me something, stand up for your decision (ie. GET OFF YOUR ASSES!), get mad and DO SOMETHING. study nutrition, start jogging/riding a bike/walking, play a sport, WHATEVER. inactivity, indecision, and complacency (all running a close second to money) are the root of all evil.
you can argue that we are a free country. and that we have the freedom to do whatever we want. i'll argue that if you do nothing, and you deserve what you get. period. i've had ENOUGH.... have you?
Thursday, July 23, 2009
A blog posting, slightly off topic, yet always in the spirit of celebrating human development and making a positive impact on our world....
Today, sailinganarchy.com ran a story (see below) about Geoff Holt and his stunning efforts to not let his condition limit his horizons.
I think most everyone who knows me, knows my brother is a paraplegic. Born in 1969 with spina bifida, he's never given up or given in despite any of the odds. And I think EVERYONE who knows me, knows I'm an avid sailor.
As such, Geoff's efforts really tug at my heart strings.
I urge everyone to take a moment, log into http://www.greatbritons.ba
Having become the first disabled person to sail single-handed around Great Britain in 2007, I’ve set myself a new challenge, to sail across the Atlantic in December 2009. I’ll be using a 60ft, custom-built, wheelchair accessible catamaran called Impossible Dream. I leave Lanzarote on December 10th and will be heading to Tortola in the British Virgin Islands which is where I the accident which put me in my wheelchair 25 years ago.
Can you help? I’ve just heard that British Airways have short listed me for their Great Britons Award. If I win, they will fly my wife and son out to the Caribbean so they will be there when I arrive so it means a lot to me. However, to win, I need votes. Could I ask all Sailing Anarchy readers to go here (http://www.greatbritons.ba
Thanks guys. Every vote counts so the more the merrier!
Monday, June 29, 2009
climate bill follow-up thoughts: please continue to research for yourself, stay informed and advocate for what you believe
This holds true with anything:
If you put $1000 in the bank and add $1,00 at regular intervals, and receive 10% compounded annually, your down-stream return is stronger than if you put $100 in the bank and only add $10 every now and again.
Similarly, if you build a house and spend a little extra on the best windows, rain-water capture/irrigation, insulation, radiant heat floors, instant hot-water and green roof, your down-stream return is greater in terms of reduced costs of ownership.
The Waxman-Markey Bill: A Good Start Or A Non-Starter?
As carbon cap-and-trade legislation works it way through Congress, the environmental community is intensely debating whether the Waxman-Markey bill is the best possible compromise or a fatally flawed initiative. Yale Environment 360 asked 11 prominent people in the environmental and energy fields for their views on this controversial legislation.
The bill is officially entitled “The American Clean Energy and Security Act,” but most people who follow this issue simply call it Waxman-Markey. Named for its sponsors — Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Ed Markey (D-MA) — the legislation has been roundly criticized for doing too little or too much, but one thing is clear: No matter what form it finally takes, the bill is historic. For the first time, the U.S. government would cap and regulate emissions of carbon dioxide.
Given that CO2 is a byproduct of the process that drives the American economy — combusting fossil fuels — it is no wonder that the bill is controversial. Many opponents, particularly Republicans, say it is a grave error to place a ceiling and a price on carbon emissions, particularly at a time of economic crisis.
But even erstwhile allies in the environmental movement are split over the bill. Their disagreement is centered on the many compromises — including a weakening of emissions and renewable energy targets — that the bill’s sponsors were forced to make in order to win approval in the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Yale Environment 360 asked environmentalists and energy experts to share their thoughts on the Waxman-Markey bill. A majority of the environmentalists said they supported the bill — despite its many flaws — because it represents the beginning of an effort to rein in greenhouse gas emissions. These supporters noted that many important pieces of U.S. environmental legislation began with modest steps that were later toughened by amendments. Supporters also said that passage of Waxman-Markey was vital if the U.S. hopes to lead the effort to ratify a global climate change treaty later this year in Copenhagen.
Opponents maintained, however, that Waxman-Markey has been irrevocably compromised. They contended the bill makes so many concessions to powerful industrial lobbies that it will do little to effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The opponents also criticized a provision that would strip the Environmental Protection Agency of its recently acquired ability to administratively regulate CO2 emissions from coal plants. In the end, these critics conclude, it is better to start over and fight for a stronger bill than pass the current, watered-down version.
Here are their responses:
Angela Ledford, Program Director for U.S. Climate Action Network.
The Waxman-Markey bill offers the most important opportunity in generations to create a prosperous 21st century economy that protects us from a climate crisis. Only by improving and passing a bill will we get a framework for transitioning to a clean-energy future. The bill, as it stands, may not reduce global warming pollution as fast as science is telling us is prudent. When we add emission reductions in this proposed law to the promises of other countries, we fall far short of what we need to do globally. So let’s be clear about what this bill provides: It gives us a framework to build on, and puts us on the path to what science says we need. But it is only the beginning.
Congress will need to stand strong against the special interests that seek to weaken the bill and have the courage to entertain essential measures to strengthen it. It needs stronger requirements for renewable energy and energy efficiency; the EPA needs the authority to hold polluters accountable; and domestic and international investments are critical to transforming the global economy.
The U.S. tradition on environmental protection seems to dictate that the most difficult step is the first one. Whether it is clean water, clean air, or ozone depletion, we have never been able to pass a bill and walk away. We set the policy in place, fight for swift and stringent implementation, sue when we need to, and go back to Congress if we haven’t gotten it right. Global warming is no different. For over a decade, we’ve worked to get to this point in the legislative process. We cannot blow this moment. But we shouldn’t think for a second our job is done once the bill is passed. In some ways, we’re only just beginning.
Phil Radford, Executive Director of Greenpeace USA.
Representatives Waxman and Markey have played a crucial role in bringing global warming to the forefront of the Congressional agenda. And we believe in President Obama’s vision of clean energy jobs and not letting special interests dominate politics. But this bill falls short of that vision.
The science is clear: the United States and the developed world must cut emissions 25 to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 to avoid catastrophic climate impacts. This legislation at best provides a 4 to 7 percent cut below 1990 levels in that time frame, and it is likely to get worse in the Senate. While 4 percent is something, it’s like building a 4-foot levee in New Orleans as the waters rush in at 40 feet. Here’s a sampling of what the bill gives away:
1. The bill would not force polluters to cut their own pollution until more than a decade from now. Instead, they could buy “offsets,” paying a farmer who temporarily traps CO2 in the soil by not tilling it as much, rather than preventing pollution at the smokestack.
2. The Renewable Energy Standard requires less new clean energy than we will have without this bill passing.
3. The bill strips away some of the Clean Air Act authority to reduce coal plant pollution in new plants, as well as the EPA’s authority to regulate global warming pollution under the Clean Air Act.
The net result is that coal companies won’t need to cut their pollution, and the president will lose the power to regulate coal under the Clean Air Act, which could very likely cut global warming pollution as much as, or more, than this bill.
We are urging President Obama to confront the undue influence of corporate polluters by using his considerable executive authorities to ensure America’s plan to tackle global warming is based on science, and puts people above politics as usual.
Joseph Romm, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, where he runs the blog, climate progress.org. He is a former acting assistant secretary of energy.
Only two questions really matter regarding the Waxman-Markey bill.
First, is it compatible with — indeed integral to — a national and international effort to keep global warming as close as possible to 2 degrees C?
Second, what would be the outcome if the bill failed?
The answer to the first question is absolutely “Yes.” While the bill is weaker than it should be, particularly its 2020 target, it mandates a 42 percent reduction in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and an 83 percent reduction by 2050. Building on the massive investment in clean energy in the economic stimulus, the bill completes the transition to a clean energy economy. It devotes some $15 billion a year to clean technology development and deployment. It would be the single greatest push toward an energy-efficient economy in U.S. history.
The bill directs substantial funds toward a global effort to stop tropical deforestation. While it theoretically authorizes up to 2 billion tons in offsets to be used in place of domestic emissions reductions, nowhere near that amount of offsets exists today, nor is there any reason to believe they ever will. If the nations of the world agree to adopt emissions targets, timetables, and strategies compatible with stabilization near 2 degrees C, then the international offsets market will remain relatively small and expensive — especially compared to the large pool of low-cost, domestic, clean-energy emissions reduction strategies.
As for the second question, failure to pass the bill would end any hope of stabilizing climate at anywhere near a 2-degree C increase. Serious U.S. action would be off the table for years, the effort to jumpstart the clean-energy economy in this country would stall, the international negotiating process would fall apart, and any chance of a deal with China would be dead. Warming of 5 degrees C or more by century’s end would be all but inevitable.
Waxman-Markey is the only game in town. Let’s work hard to improve it, but killing it would be an act of environmental suicide.
Denis Hayes, President of the Bullitt Foundation, board chairman of the American Solar Energy Society, and National Coordinator of the first Earth Day.
The bottom line in politics is always how you vote. If I were in Congress, I would hold my nose and vote for the Waxman-Markey bill.
What do I dislike about Waxman-Markey?
* It allows 2 billion tons of offsets a year. Trading “permits” is fine; trading “offsets” eventually will shred the law’s effectiveness. Offsets are hard to regulate and the international offset bubble is already growing rapidly.
* The bill’s goal for 2020 — the easiest reductions — is a wimpy 17 percent cut in carbon emissions below 2005 levels, which essentially guarantees that the world will pass some tragic climate tipping points. It gets tougher later, but I don’t care about easily abandoned promises to make really hard cuts by 2050. What matters is what we are willing to do today.
* The bill auctions only 15 percent of the carbon permits for now. It should auction 100 percent. A 100 percent auction would function as an efficient carbon tax, with the tax rate set each year by the market and revenues distributed through open public processes. The bill’s approach represents back-room politics that mostly favor the powerful polluters who have spent a fortune fighting against climate legislation.
* The bill awards 10 times as much money to speculative carbon capture and sequestration projects as to all green jobs training and aid to displaced workers, combined.
So why would I support it?
Henry Waxman and Ed Markey are green legislative heroes. They privately acknowledge the flaws in this bill, and they would make it much stronger if that were possible. They can also count votes.
Waxman-Markey’s flaws are huge but discrete, and they can be addressed in the years ahead. Meanwhile, we have to pass something to give the Obama Administration the necessary credibility to create global momentum before Copenhagen. Toward that end, Waxman-Markey is the only credible game in town.
Brent Blackwelder, President of Friends of the Earth.
During last year’s campaign, then-Senator Obama articulated a bold vision for a clean energy future. He argued that green investments and cuts in pollution can strengthen our economy and create millions of jobs, bolster national security, and help avoid catastrophic climate-change impacts. Voters were persuaded and Obama won in a landslide.
Unfortunately, the bill now moving through Congress fails to live up to Obama’s vision. Special interests — including Big Oil, Dirty Coal, and Wall Street — continue to hold too much sway in the Energy and Commerce Committee from which this bill emerged. In exchange for voting for this bill, conservative Democrats demanded hundreds of billions of dollars worth of giveaways to their favorite campaign contributors.
The result is a bill that doesn’t bring about anywhere near the pollution reductions necessary to avoid cataclysmic warming. The bill’s targets fall far short of scenarios outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and even further below what’s needed to return atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations to the safe level of 350 parts per million. The bill also makes it hard to achieve a global climate agreement by underfunding international adaptation and clean-energy deployment.
The bill creates giant, under-regulated carbon markets that will benefit Wall Street but not reliably reduce pollution. It eliminates Clean Air Act protections, undercutting the Obama administration’s ability to act. It contaminates carbon markets with “offsets” that will delay U.S. pollution reductions and are unlikely to result in intended reductions overseas.
What may be more relevant to people concerned about how to put bread on the table is that some analyses have the bill producing no more clean energy than business as usual for the next few decades. This means the millions of jobs we can create by transitioning to a clean energy economy won’t come from this bill.
David Jenkins, Vice President for Government and Political Affairs, Republicans for Environmental Protection.
The American Clean Energy and Security Act is currently the only viable legislative vehicle for passing comprehensive climate legislation this year. As such, it needs to continue its journey through the legislative process. It is not a great bill, but it is better than doing nothing.
The integrity of this climate bill has already suffered a serious blow as a result of the parochial deal-making needed to just secure the support of Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Waxman and Markey made dramatic early concessions — giving away 85 percent of the emissions allowances in the near term, reducing reduction targets, and allowing offsets.
Those are serious concessions to secure a handful of committee votes on the Democrat side, and those concessions will embolden other lawmakers to demand their pound of flesh as the bill moves toward a floor vote. Also, by not involving climate-friendly Republicans in the drafting and initial horse-trading, the bill has not yet gained the level of bipartisan support needed to get it through the Senate — or to help sustain it over time should the bill become law.
A better, and more politically sustainable, cap-and-trade approach would be to auction off most of the emission allowances and return a large portion of the proceeds to the public to offset energy cost increases, thus generating nationwide public support for emission reductions. A revenue-neutral carbon-tax, as proposed by U.S. Rep. Bob Inglis (R-S.C.), would accomplish the same thing.
The Waxman-Markey bill is an imperfect product of the legislative sausage factory and contains plenty of unsavory political byproducts, but lawmakers — Republican and Democrat alike — should work constructively to improve and pass it. Every year that we fail to enact legislation to reduce carbon emissions, climate change becomes more difficult and costly to address. The responsible, and conservative, course is to act now.
Charles T. Drevna, President of the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association.
Climate change is a complex public policy challenge that must be addressed with realistic, long-term strategies recognizing the vital role that all forms of energy — traditional, alternative and renewable — will play in maintaining our country’s economic strength and quality of life. The National Petrochemical & Refiners Association supports the advancement and deployment of new technologies that bring reliable, affordable, and clean supplies of domestic energy to consumers.
If federal climate change legislation is eventually adopted, we believe such legislation must set a realistic carbon reduction target without political preconceptions or punitive provisions, and allow the innovative nature of American businesses to achieve those goals through the most efficient means. It must protect impacted businesses and the existing jobs of their employees from competition with foreign companies whose countries do not limit carbon dioxide emissions. It must prevent mandating contradictory or redundant policies, and establish a single federal carbon constraint program that supersedes all other federal, state, and local statutes and programs. Lastly, it must not advantage or disadvantage one form of energy over another with respect to carbon constraints.
The Waxman-Markey legislation fails those tests in a number of ways. U.S. refiners already face stiff foreign competition and would be severely disadvantaged with higher compliance costs under the Waxman-Markey scheme. Indian businesses, for example, are building refineries specifically geared toward U.S. markets. Such foreign refiners, whose facility emissions are not addressed in the bill and whose operating costs are much lower, will gain a distinct advantage over American businesses in the marketplace. By ceding our stake in the markets to foreign businesses in locations where environmental standards are not nearly as stringent as those that already exist in the United States, global greenhouse gas emissions would likely increase.
Liz Martin Perera, Legislative Representative on Climate for the Union of Concerned Scientists.
This year presents a narrow window for putting a framework in place that can institute a hard cap on emissions, kick-start the clean-energy economy, and begin the international negotiation process. While the Waxman-Markey climate and energy bill is not as strong as many environmentalists would have liked, it’s exactly what we need and represents a clear step forward for environmental policy.
Henry Waxman and Ed Markey did a masterful job getting this bill through a very tough Energy and Commerce Committee that includes climate science contrarians and members of Congress who are sympathetic to coal and oil interests. Now that the bill moves through other committees and to the House floor, we hope to defend, improve, and pass the legislation.
Obama and his climate team know they need to walk into the international climate negotiations in Denmark with domestic legislation in hand. Otherwise, the United States will have a much harder time convincing delegates that it’s ready to act.
The progress we’ve seen in Congress is due, in part, to leadership from the White House. Obama’s push to have the Environmental Protection Agency use its power to regulate heat-trapping emissions also is pressuring members of Congress to act.
The consensus among most advocacy groups is that we need to work to strengthen the bill and ultimately pass it, while defending against moves to weaken it from across the political spectrum. We also have to remember that it took many years to pass the Clean Air Act, which was later significantly strengthened through various amendments. This is probably the single best shot we’ll ever get at putting a cap on global warming pollution, and we need to take it.
Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Rainforest Action Network.
I wanted so much to support the Waxman-Markey climate bill. I cheered when Congressman Waxman became chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. And I believe it’s imperative we pass strong climate legislation this year.
But despite admirable incentives for hybrid and electric vehicles, improvements in efficiency, and some other initiatives, the current incarnation of the Waxman-Markey bill doesn’t do the job. For starters, it sets the wrong target: Scientists state that an atmospheric concentration of 350 parts per million of CO2 is the upper limit for a stable climate; this bill aims for 450. Moreover, although the international community is calling for cuts of 25 to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, this bill aims for 4 percent.
The bill’s largest flaw, however, is the inclusion of 2 billion tons of carbon offsets annually. These offsets represent a massive loophole that will allow polluters to meet their carbon reduction obligations by paying someone else not to pollute, rather than reducing their own emissions. Experience shows that as much as two-thirds of the time offsets don’t work, particularly under current regulations in the agribusiness and forestry industries. A coal company could “offset” its pollution by paying a logging company to raze a rainforest for a palm plantation in Indonesia — destroying some of the most biodiverse ecosystems on earth, and releasing massive amounts of carbon. To succeed in the fight against climate change, we must reduce emissions from fossil fuels AND stop destroying rainforests.
On Nov. 10, 2008, soon after getting elected, President Obama gave his first speech on climate change. “Now is the time to confront this challenge once and for all,” he said. “Delay is no longer an option.” Full use of the offsets in the current climate bill would allow polluters to avoid any reductions in their emissions until 2026 — 17 years from today. Instead of settling for this bill, let’s keep fighting for change we can believe in.
Paul Hawken, Environmentalist, entrepreneur, journalist, and best-selling author.
Waxman-Markey is a landmark bill. To be clear it represents a direction, not a plan. But given American realpolitik, it is as good as anyone could have expected. For sure there are some fairly meaty bones thrown to Duke Energy and the coal industry for emissions and carbon sequestration, and there are other lobbyist accommodations. Who knows what will happen as it makes it way through Congress? But the bill brings us closer to European Union standards and in alignment with most of the rest of the developed world.
Critics who see it as lacking are right. Reducing U.S. carbon emissions by 17 percent by 2020 is insufficient. But legislation is not actually written in Congress; it is assembled there. One detects the fine hand of environmental and climate experts in the bill, not just big utilities. The provisions and language are accreted from people who have done the heavy lifting in unsung institutions and NGOs, and I for one am thrilled to see some of this work see the light of legislative day under the auspices of a president who will sign and support it vigorously.
My hope is that the bill will begin to form the basis of a more comprehensive energy strategy that will use physical instead of electoral metrics as the measure of validity, so that we can do away with coal, ethanol, and other money sinks. If I have a criticism, it is not with the overall bill but with the idea that this is a spending bill. It is an investment bill, and I wish we had a governmental accounting system that could distinguish between the two.
Michael Noble, Executive Director of Fresh Energy, a nonprofit promoting clean energy.
For two decades, my overarching commitment has been an American economy that doubles or triples in size by 2040 to 2050, while CO2 is reduced to 10 to 20 percent of emissions today. The Waxman-Markey bill strives to retain this central integrity, and for all the bill’s flaws, Fresh Energy joins the vast majority of clean energy groups determined to pass it in the House of Representatives this month.
Indeed, several provisions in the Waxman-Markey bill fall far short of what Obama wants: a cap on global warming emissions, with 100 percent permit auctions on day one, and the huge majority of revenues dedicated to protecting middle-class buying power.
However, as the Senate begins its work, one of its highest priorities must be to retain the hard-won authority of the EPA to regulate CO2 from coal-fired power plants under existing law. The current version of Waxman-Markey eliminates EPA’s regulatory authority over existing and proposed coal plants under the Clean Air Act. Over the past few years, the threat of regulation has prevented coal construction because risky schemes face finance barriers. Some 27 coal plants in America are currently seeking permits that would belch CO2 for 50 years.
If that coal surge takes place, we will have to de-carbonize electricity at a much steeper rate from 2020 to 2050, and the hole we will have to dig out of will be much deeper. As James Hansen has often said, to begin to fix the climate then will no longer be possible, since it’s barely still possible today.
With the deals and commitments already made, there may be no opportunity to fix Waxman-Markey in the House before passage. But this bill must be fixed in the Senate before it gets to the president’s desk.
Be smart. Be informed. Be engaged. But whatever you do, don't just let it be. And don't count on anyone else to do it for you. Peace. -sg