environment


I got this email today from a friend who is visiting Pensacola, Florida on business:

Friends & Family,
I am writing from Pensacola FL where I’ve been on business since last Sunday night.
On Monday we seatrialed a sailboat in Pensacola’s huge Bay adjacent the Gulf, where… first the sheen…then farther out…the infamous red blobs were in abundance. With no tv set between my eyes and the oil the impact on me was far greater than when viewed on the evening news.
Some scientists are saying that the Deepwater Horizon well casing is so damaged that BP (and the rest of us) are helpless to staunch the leak. Some even say that the relief wells on which we now pin our hopes will not significantly relieve the pressure and that the well will have to merely “play out” which could take years.
We’re all sick to see the Gulf Coast wetlands being slimed. We cringe at the likely possibility that storm surges (from what NOAA predicts 2010 will be a year with more named storms than usual) will drive the slime further inland. This would kill the marshes that have been described as “nature’s speed-bumps to hurricanes” and enable storms to do more damage further inland.
Add to that, the following which just occurred to me: Tropical storms collect their moisture both by evaporation and by vortex as they cross Gulf (Gulf Stream!) waters. So they’ll pick up immense quantities of oil from the surface and carry it FAR inland where it will fall as oily rain. Already drivers in Texas are reporting unusual oily films on their windshields from the odd thunder storm that is modeling this process in a small way.
I’m not saying the sky is falling…though oil well might.
I fear that Tony Hayward isn’t big enough to wipe up the slime: though (as some have suggested) he’d look best stuffed head-first into a certain 21″ pipe.
I didn’t mean to bum y’all out…just wanted to keep the thinking going.
Hugs,
Henny Penny

Stop AIDS. Keep the Promise.

A year and a half ago leaders of the world’s most powerful countries gathered at the G-8 summit and promised Universal Access to AIDS Treatment by 2010. Since then there has been little action toward committing the new resources and policies to reach that goal. Some progress is being made, but still only 1.6 million people have access to treatment—and we’re nowhere near on track to reach the 10 million we will need to put on treatment by 2010. Meanwhile, we’re losing ground on effective HIV-prevention programs!

Wayne

I heard an interview with my Congressman, Wayne Gilchrest, (R Maryland) on WSCL, the radio station at Salisbury State University, a couple of days ago. Wayne, who has spent the last eighteen years in Congress, was defeated by a more “conservative” candidate in this spring’s Republican primary. The new candidate, Andy Harris or Democrat Frank Kratovil will become my new Congressman after the election in November.

I use his first name because Wayne is a local, Kent County, man, who used to teach civics at our high school and has always presented himself as being one of us. I have spoken to him a number of times and even played guitar for him once, while he sang, “My Wild Irish Rose.”

The one statement that stands out in my memory of the interview is Wayne’s definition of conservatism, as he sees it in 2008. I am writing this from memory, but I think I can quote his words pretty closely, “When someone says ‘I am a conservative,’ what that means is ‘I want to spend your children’s inheritance right now, as fast as I can.’ He went on to connect this to President Bush’s call for drilling in ANWR and offshore. Offshore drilling for oil could potentially mean drilling off the Eastern Shore of Maryland, interestingly. Wayne is of the opinion that extracting that oil would only be a drop in a bucket, considering our energy needs and that conservation and alternative energy sources must be our focus rather than extraction and continued consumption. All the oil in ANWR and offshore would only supply us with enough for one year, according to Wayne.

Wayne said that he believes that the Republican party has become dogmatic, narrow minded and ineffective. He was not specifically speaking about Andy Harris, however Harris is a member of that neo-conservative camp. Wayne’s comments were directed at his fellow Republicans in Washington and at the Bush Presidency. Personally I would vote for Wayne for President if he ran. It’s too bad he’s too short, bald and ugly to be elected.

LemmingsA local newspaper ran a story recently about polling results that show that Americans’ attitudes toward energy conservation have shifted once again, indicating a weakening commitment to reducing energy consumption in favor of increasing energy production, as the solution to the escalating costs to the American public.

Last year as the price of gas was creeping up to the $3.00/gallon mark, and already hit hard by soaring electric bills, the attitude of the American public was becoming increasingly “conservation oriented” – the typical American consumer was making consumer choices toward ways to conserve energy in order to reduce their personal costs, such as buying energy efficient appliances, hybrid cars, replacing lightbulbs with CFLs, driving less, and supporting state and federal legislation that was conservation oriented.

Now that the price of gas has hit and exceeded the $4.00/gallon mark and continuing to rise, watching electric bills continue to climb, and now facing escalating food prices, polls indicate that our newly-
found commitment to energy conservation measures is being replaced by a significant shift in attitude in favor of increasing off-shore drilling for oil, and opening up the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge for oil
drilling.

In other words, instead of taking personal and governmental responsibility for cutting back on energy consumption, it seems that the typical American is once again on the fast track to insisting that our insatiable appetite for energy be catered to regardless of the risks and costs to the environment and ultimately our selves.

President Bush’s recent speeches demanding that Congress take action to release restrictions on offshore drilling and in ANWR have been effective in turning Americans away from demanding the hard work needed to build a post petroleum economy and toward a fossil fueled lemming march over the cliff. The lowering of energy prices implied in Bush’s offshore drilling campaign is illusory. Gas si $4 a gallon because of the weak dollar and speculative investing, not because of a shortage of crude oil. When that shortage does come the relatively small amount of oil left in the ground in North America will not make a significant difference.

We need to reduce our dependence on OIL not just foreign oil. We need to get to work now.

Brighter Planet's 350 Challenge

During the Middle Ages it was a common practice for the Church to sell indulgences. They were like a get out of jail free card for wealthy sinners. Today we have carbon offsets which are forgiveness for our environmental sins. Brigter Planet is offering to offset 350 pounds of carbon for anyone who displays this badge on their blog or website.

How does one offset carbon? Brighter Planet is doing so by investing in renewable energy projects, such as wind turbine generators. How does displaying this badge on my blog translate into an investment in renewable energy? What does it cost to offset 350 pounds of carbon? Oh ye of little faith. It helps spread the word about Brigter Planet and builds Google page rank for it’s website. They offset 350 pounds of carbon for me because they said so.

Holy Al Gore, Batman, the Newt has jumped on the bandwagon! He has a new book coming out. It’s called “Contract With The Earth.” Here’s a tiny excerpt that I cribbed from Amazon.com:

WHETHER WE LIKE IT OR NOT, humanity has assumed responsibility for the welfare of the earth and all the noble creatures that share it. The scale of human civilization, the volume of our economic activity, and the power of science and technology have made us shapers of much of the earth. The power to shape leads inevitably to a responsibility to wield this power wisely and carefully. America as the world’s sole superpower, is obligated to provide environmental leadership at a time when so many world leaders are wringing their hands at the sheer enormity of the task.

Welcome to the Sierra Club, Mr. Newt. It’s about time somebody from your side of the bed got up and looked out the window. I’m not going to say that I doubt your sincerity. I’m glad to have you aboard. I only hope that you will offer some new, useful ideas to help us deal with the crisis that has been building for the past several decades while we have been arguing over the need to act.

Kudos to Amba over at AmbivaBlog for turning me on to this.

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