I’ve long wished that environmental Diaries would get more face time at Daily Kos. Not that I think environment should trump all other issues, although global climate change (and all its offspring, like resource wars) surely must qualify as one of the top three major crises of this century. I would merely like to see Kossacks pay more attention to environmental matters than has been the case in the nearly four years I’ve been hanging around this site. So I’m going to do my part to give eco-Diaries a little extra boost every Monday by “rescuing” a couple of big handfuls of them. Depending on your point of view, you can blame or credit SusanG, the Rescue Rangers, and Land of Enchantment for being the impetus behind my effort.
Before I get started, I’d like to tell an environmental story about my own neighborhood.
Fishing pond in Debs Park
For 15 years, we’ve lived 4.5 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles, a megalopolis that for many people epitomizes the opposite of the natural world. Home to large numbers of recent immigrants, mostly from Mexico and Central America, with a small and growing cohort of Asians, the dense urban neighborhoods of this area are plagued by gangs and poverty and bad schools, although they are nowhere near the city’s worst. From atop the hill behind our house, I can see two major freeways and the skyscrapers of the gentrifying downtown.
Yet I can walk less than a tenth of a mile to the entrance of Ernest Debs Park, 282 acres that is home to 138 species of birds, including kestrel, redtail hawks, and Cooper’s Hawks. There are also lizards, rabbits, coyotes, raccoons, possums, and a variety of snakes. Elderberry, endangered California black walnut trees, imported eucalyptus trees, oaks, black pines, and seemingly indestructible castor bean plants dot the hills of the park. It’s an oasis from the urban din that was a leading factor for why we chose to live here.
For the past three years, the park has been blessed by the presence of Audubon Center at Debs, which leases 17 acres of the park from the city. It’s a model in more ways than one. Not only is it designed to open an educational window on the natural world for 50,000 youth who live in the immediate vicinity, it provides a model of how to do things green. It was the first building in the United States to receive a Platinum rating under version 2 of the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED(R)) Rating System.
To achieve that award, the designers of the $5 million, 5023-square-foot building used environmentally sensitive materials from the ground up.
The Audubon Center at Debs Park
As the U.S. Green Building Council noted in January 2004:
The Center is operated entirely off-grid, using only power generated on site. It is expected to use only 25,000 kWh of energy each year (around five kWh per square foot). The Center is designed to use 70% less water than a comparable conventional building, and to treat all wastewater on site. More than 50% of the building materials were manufactured locally, and more than 97% of construction debris was recycled.Indeed, the Audubon Center has already spurred three nearby homeowners to install rooftop solar systems of their own.
“In a city like Los Angeles, embracing sustainable design is one of the most responsible actions you can take,” said Christine Ervin, President and CEO, U.S. Green Building Council. “As a premier example of green architecture, the Audubon Center will provide inspiration and guidance for others looking to go green.”
The photovoltaic system incorporates 208 Kyocera KC-125G solar electric modules, which generates up to 26 kilowatts of solar power, providing 100% of the center’s electrical power. The 10-ton solar thermal cooling system was the first commercial solar air-conditioning system in southern California.
But self-contained power and a wastewater system is only part of the center’s green credential. Wherever possible, recycled materials were used, including melted handguns and other scrap metal. Organic materials were used in carpeting made from the agave plant. Cabinets and desks were made from wheat board and sunflower board.
In keeping with the LEED program’s emphasis on using locally grown and manufactured materials, more than 25 percent of the building materials in the Audubon Center were locally harvested, and more than 50 percent were locally manufactured.
The success of the Audubon Center – we like to call it “our” center – offers an example for building commercial and public buildings everywhere.
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In choosing from the 2300 Daily Kos Diaries that appeared between midnight Sunday, November 26, until noon today, I tried to shoot for a mix. [Note: Selecting a Diary for Eco-Rescue doesn’t necessarily mean I agree with its premises or conclusions.]
I’m starting off with links to two of Land of Enchantment’s Diaries because they sparked me to think about Audubon, which will be running its Annual 107th Christmas Bird Counts nationwide, and in Debs Park, starting next week. Those Diaries are here and here. Remember, you don't have to be an expert to participate in the counts.
Land of Enchantment also explains why the Sierra Club Honors Republican, Pete McCloskey, with its annual Edgar Wayburn Award.
In a Big Sur State of Mind, jillian offers us her always excellent eco-links Diary.
In Wait A Minute Arnold..., No Shineola asks: "So, what is LNG and why should I care? LNG is liquefied natural gas. It is cooled to 260 degrees below zero and loaded on 1000 foot supertankers. A shipment of LNG is equivalent to 20 billion gallons of natural gas. That is one hell of a lot of potential energy. Multiply Hiroshima by 25 and you have an idea of how dangerous an explosion of it would be."
In Engineer Poet's Modest Proposal, LARefugee puts up a line and brief analysis to a 9000-word essay devoted to saving “our planet, our country's economy and light the way to a future era of sustainable prosperity.”
Big Oil versus An Inconvenient Truth daw13 notes that "(1) a Paradigm Shift in energy policy must occur in order for even the wealthiest, most powerful citizens on earth to continue to thrive. (2) Current Exxon policy would seem to guarantee the demise of all parties, themselves included. (3) The necessary Paradigm Shift will generate a great deal of upheaval and discomfort worldwide and locally. (4) Eventually U.S. citizens will react strongly to rising gasoline prices, steady inflation, evaporating retirement accounts, increasing job shrinkages, etc. consequences of too many people and too little energy to maintain even the current falling standard of living for the majority. (5) The sooner citizens become alarmed, the sooner they will begin to organize to demand a larger share of the energy pie (the wealthiest twenty percent presently own more than eighty percent of U.S. wealth) the more difficult they will be to deal with."
MS in TAKE ACTION: EPA IS DISMANTLING ITS LIBRARIES! tells us that the Union of Concerned Scientists has learned that the EPA is closing its scientific libraries and making research results inaccessible.
In Transportation and the dKos community (dKos demographics auxiliary), pHunbalanced asks: "What are your two primary means of making trips outside the home. How do you get to work? How do you get to school? How do you get to the cafe, the movies, the bar or to meet-ups or rallies? Does a lot of concern for environmental considerations go into your choice? how about fun? How about personal expression? Perhaps your choice is driven by strong economic constraints or geographic constraints. Do your transportation choices drive your housing choices or vice versa ... or is it a complex imterplay? How do you feel about SUVs? Motorcycles? Pedestrians? Is public transit safe in your community?"
Carbon Sequestration and Climate Change: A Review of the Economics and Safety gets a thorough look by NNadir. "One hears a great deal these days about the possibility of sequestering carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels. As is typical of the conversation about energy and the environment these days - in particular the preeminent environmental issue of climate change - most of these schemes do not involve a discussion of capacity that currently operates on a scale that begins to approximate the scale of the problem."
Jerome a Paris’s Diaries almost always have a green tinge, as we can see in these three: Oil policy: who are our governments working for?, Pentagon and peak oil - then (1957) and now, and Global warming) Astroturf: Rockefeller takes on Standard Oil in which he highlights a letter to Rex W. Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil, from John Rockefeller and Olympia Snowe take the oil company to task for its support of lobbying groups whose sole purpose has been the fuzz up scientific discussion on global warming.
Todd Smyth has fun in a serious way with his Addicted to Oil?: "Hello, my name is the United States of America and I'm addicted to foreign oil. My addiction is destroying my neighborhood, bankrupting me and my children and is making me do things I am not proud of. I have put far too much power in the hands of dictators and terrorists and have been sending my children to dangerous places to support my bad habit. My addiction is dividing my family and destroying my home and I am here today to pledge my commitment to find a better way." Todd also has a go at Making a Case for Biofuels
desert leap gives us a series on The Age of Oil: Part 1, Part 2,Part 3. "Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet. No single energy source can meet our needs now or in the foreseeable future. Each fuel source has its own advantages and disadvantages and we must weigh these factors in determining how much we want to invest in our energy future."
ormondotvos asks Should "Simple Living" be a Dem party plank?. "What successful wording would work for a "Live Simply that Others might Simply Live!" that didn't trigger the "malaise" syndrome that they necklaced Jimmy Carter with?"
In Atomic Porker Strikes Indian Point, ingmarz says: "The Atomic Porker, (an anagram of "Patrick Moore") is now spewing greenwash on the license renewal of the Entergy Indian Point Nuke which contributes 30% of New York City's power. This is just the latest exploit in the checkered career of the most blatant corporate-lackey sell-out ever to disgrace humanity."
ANWR-- Forget about Ted Stevens for 10 minutes, skymutt tells us: "Yes, I still love the Sierra Club. Yes, I still think Ted Stevens is a bit senile and needs to retire. But I'm going to go against the grain and side with old Ted on this issue... and I think I have some very compelling reasons for my position. Let me show you how the ANWR issue can benefit Democrats and all Americans..."
Amory Lovins on Charlie Rose gets the thumbs up from gmoke.
If, unlike our esteemed Hunter haven’t yet had enough of premature presidential wars, check out ProdigalDem’s Diary, Clinton vs. Obama on Energy/Oil. ...who voted for 40 MPG?
Holy Heating, Batman: 10,000+ EPA folks sign petition is mem from somerville’s take on how the majority of entire EPA workforce has called for regulation of greenhouse gases.
8ackgr0und N015e a good time with naval operations in an ice-free arctic. "I always get a chuckle out of the folks who say "some scientists" question global warming... because the US NAVY sure as hell doesn't have any question about it. In fact, they appear to be positioning themselves to ask for a whole new fleet to police the newly opened seas! Consider this recently declassified report: It's called "Naval Operations in an Ice Free Arctic."
RealityBias does a little presidential selection in Not Polluting Has Cash Value: "Fast forward 3 years. The Democratic congress, in co-operation with President Obama, have established a new economic framework to simultaneously tackle the environmental and energy issues of our day. A new security called the 'Eco' now trades freely, and the market for it puts a dollar value on something which previously was ephemeral."
cleanairfrank bashes our least favorite Oklahoman in Inhofe's last hurrah; and why Scalia wants to duck global warming decisionInhofe plans another hearing this week, possibly Wednesday, on the theme of "global warming and the media."
Tom Ball has a graphics-rich look at how Climate Change Skeptics Lose Vital Argument. "The famous "hockey stick", a graph that shows the 'drastic influence' of humans over the past hundred years, plots the Earth's surface temperature over the last thousand years. A quick glimpse of the graph shows temperatures relatively static -- that is until the industrial revolution moved into full swing. Around 1900 the temperatures take off like a rocket forming the image of a very long-bladed hockey stick."
Want to sell a gas tax? Earmark the revenue is power model’s bold suggestion. Bold because several of us who have tried to push this idea have been shot down repeatedly on Daily Kos. Says power model: " 'But a gas tax is too regressive,' you say, and you're right. So let's extend this idea to get more gas-guzzling vehicles off the road, and help out those who need it most at the same time: Use a gas tax to finance real-time government rebates for electric car purchases."
Gold-digging in our National Parks gets the treatment from Sharon in MD. "You might wonder what our government is giving away? What exactly are the implications for giving away the genetic material of the plant/animal/microorganism life present in our National Parks? Why is this potentially a bad thing?"
OrangeClouds115 wonders in Bush Reaffirms Anti-Clean Water Stance why "we pay people to sit around and come up with reasons why acting against the public interest is okay. How long did it take someone to come up with this? It's not pollution if you mean to spray pesticide in water, therefore it's okay."
In Environmentalism as a tool for Economic and Employment Growth, SoCalLiberal recalls that "A wise professor once told me that the environment often comes second to economics. That is, people are pro environment until the economy sours and people see the environmentalism taking away jobs and harming our overall economic growth. In the minds of voters, the environment has traditionally taken a back seat. We all know the importance of the environment."
curiousinlondon suggests that a couple of diplomat’s vehicles may wind up in the Thames because of the US Embassy Dodging eco-friendly road-pricing.
Pickens: Peak Oil Is Here and US Needs Oil Alternative, in which LondonYank gives us a link and a few comments about T. Boone Pickens’s view on “peak oil.”
farmerchuck has a go at explaining sustainable energy? some notes from a groundling: "...but autumn is the busy time for heating and farms in the northeast, and I am involved in sustainability efforts in both fields. I have been lurking lately due to lack of time, but couldn't help but respond to some recent diaries on the subject of sustainable energy, and to save some of my own time, I am consolidating all my responses into a single diary, and hoping to keep the debate alive a little longer. On a personal note to all my friends, I will do a Farm$ diary as soon as I can, to let you all know what is happening on No Snivilin Farm. A disclaimer, I make my living in sustainable energy systems and farming. I am NOT a politician, or a genius, nor do I claim to have all the facts. My background is in biochemistry/biophysics, but I am extensively self taught in systems engineering, and have been employed in that capacity for some time."
Bulldozer takes a gander at the New Congress and Environmental Agenda: Clean Air Act: "I specialize in the Clean Air Act. And this adminstration, and this EPA contrary to popular opinion, has been not so friendly for our industrial interests. As is typical among Republicans, this adminstration has anointed winners (power and energy) and losers (manufacturers, consumers, the public, the NGO community). Yes, I'm a sore loser on multiple fronts. So, what should we do with the opportunity?"
Two fusion Diaries come from Roger Fox, Univ. of Wis.: Inertial electrostatic confinement fusion and BostonJoe, Fusion Power: A Gambler's Chance
Mark H gives us another round in his Marine Life Series: Seahorses, Part II: "Seahorses are carnivores, feeding mainly on small crustaceans such as shrimp and amphipods. They are "lying-in-wait" predators, meaning that instead of actively hunting for prey, they stay in one place and wait for the prey to come to them."