Fire and (lack of) water could hardly jillian’s notice this week in her BREAKING!...the Earth (Scorched Earth/Parched Earth): "Massive fires consistent with climate change, predicted years ago. The catastrophic fires that are sweeping Southern California are consistent with what climate change models have been predicting for years, experts say. Bend Weekly"
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Among a plethora of Diaries about the California wildfires, and their possible connection to climate change, David Sandretti at the League of Conservation Voters said California Fires Show Devastating Risks Posed by Global Warming: "As of this afternoon, there are nearly one million environmental refugees in California. The UN predicts that we could see 450 million people fleeing environmental devastation of global warming. We must make the environmental imperative of reducing global warming pollution a priority at the national level. With your help, we can do it."
artmartin wrote about Resisting Temptation to Tie CA Fires to Human-Produced Global Warming: "My gut feeling about the changes I've seen in the last decade in the weather on our planet is that those alterations are some combination of man's input combined with natural cycles or occurrences. I can see in the posts over the last few days though the notion that the events in California are an opportunity to push for action based on the "fact" that the heat and dryness leading to the severity of the fires is entirely produced by our production of CO2. Even if someday that proves to be completely correct, it is simply a scientific fallacy to make such a pronouncement and will do more harm than good to the cause of minimizing our impact. Instead our message should be that Global Warming, no matter what the cause, has helped to create conditions which contributes to fires of this intensity and we should base our policy upon the assumption that we in some way contribute. Normally, basing governmental decisions on an assumption would be a bogus way of doing business but in this case, the fixes are such that they benefit our standard of living and our economic future."
A Siegel also took note: Global Warming didn't light California's Fires, but did fan the flames ...
Several Diarists mentioned the White House’s latest "editing" foray. DrSteveB was first with White House edits CDC climate testimony: "(Center for Disease Control Gerberding's) overall record has been decidedly mixed, but even she can tell which way the wind is blowing... and the sun is shining, and the greenhouse gases are re-radiating. Need I point out that this is also a national security issues. And whether it is deliberately choosing to ignore Al Queda on up through 9/10, or choosing to ignore unsound Levees up through 8/31, these folks can't protect us become they don't believe in the real world."
machiado wrote Surprise, surprise, congressional climate testimony edited by White House: "Of the 14 original pages in [the CDC] report, only six survived the White House editing process. In her original report, Gerberding acknowledged that ‘scientific evidence supports the view that Earth's climate is changing.’ ... Also deleted from her draft was any discussion of the actual health problems that could result from global warming, such as increased asthma, heat stress and food-borne illnesses."
And shpilk weighed in with Bush muzzles CDC: "Our lack of preparedness for the changes in disease vectors due to climate change offer a highly unpredictable and exceedingly hazardous risk to the health of human beings on this planet. It's the heavy boot of climate change that will be next on the list to crush those least able to cope - the poor, the powerless .. and it may just affect even the rich in Western EU and here. This issue of disease vectors and changes in patterns of how seemingly innocuous pathogens can wreak havoc is next up on the radar screen. Trying to deny it's distinct possibility is the hallmark of an administration that is incapable of dealing with the truth. Disease vectors, viruses, bacteria, even simple things like plankton blooms and growths of selected species can affect the plant world, as well as the animal world. Simple changes in a plant virus or parasite for example, could result in the deaths of a lot of people in the 3rd world. But it's better to muzzle the truth."
In the Diary "How Lucky Do You Feel?" - A Game Theory Argument About Global Warming, wu ming explained that "I'm not always as convinced by game theory as most economists I've run across, but this guy lays out a cogent case for why acting on the very possibility of human-caused global warming is the only rational choice. In a nutshell, his argument is that - laying aside the question of global warming's verity - merely weighing the worst case scenarios of both action and inaction leaves concerted action as the safest of both ‘bets.’"
ClimateLurker told us Why We Need to Cut Emissions as Soon as Possible: "I know that most readers here don't need to be convinced that we need to start reducing greenhouse gas emissions ASAP. But perhaps you'd like to be armed with a few facts for discussing this issue with others. Hence this diary. It first appeared on Climate411."
willb48 resurrected an idea that’s been floating around for while in the technical journals but has now made it to the mainstream press – Sulphur = salvation?: "(Ken Caldeira writes in The New York Times, ‘If we could pour a five-gallon bucket’s worth of sulfate particles per second into the stratosphere, it might be enough to keep the earth from warming for 50 years. Tossing twice as much up there could protect us into the next century. Given that the US, China and India are unlikely to behave in a responsible fashion in the near future, the solution advocated in this article makes a great deal of sense.’ Worth a try? I say, yes. Should NASA abandon the chimera of a manned mission to Mars and a Moon-base in favor of a mission to save Earth? You decide."
The latest greenhouse gas emissions data were on seesdifferent’s mind in New CO2 data: DISASTROUS; scenarios obsolete,: "This is probably the worse news for the world since Dick Cheney's warmongering speech this weekend. [chuckles weakly] The global carbon dioxide balance is actually MUCH WORSE than was thought when the latest predictions were made on the progress of global warming/climate change. MUCH WORSE. I will elaborate below; but when I read of this new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, I immediately thought of Thomas Friedman's latest piece in The New York Times: This is no longer about changing what kind of lightbulbs you use. This is now about who will lead."
A self-defeating retreat by the usually sane British was highlighted by Jerome a Paris in UK government's U-turn on climate change: "The Guardian reports this morning on a private report to Gordon Brown (Britain's Prime Minister) that suggests that Britain should oppose binding target for renewable energies in Europe (20% of all energy by 2020, as agreed earlier this year at this spring's EU Summit). The Guardian flags the juicy political bits (‘work with Poland and other governments sceptical about climate change to help persuade German chancellor Angela Merkel and others to set lower renewable targets,’ ‘a potentially significant cost in terms of reduced climate change leadership’), but also provides some of the apparent underlying reasons provided. Let's say it plainly: each of the arguments provided is stupid, short-sighted and, quite simply, false."
mattinjersey wondered what the point of a U.S. focus on global warming would be given the Climate crisis and Developing Countries: "Is it realistic to expect that China will take any action? I don't think so. Even if the Chinese people would like it, the government is in control. The Chinese appetite for oil and natural resources is increasing as their population and economy expands. So soon they will consume more oil and release more CO2 than the U.S. We are in no position to lean on them, because of our HUGE debt, and they own all of it. The U.S. has no leverage on Chinese human rights or environmental matters. So how is it possible to address global climate change? Even if we clean up our own act, there will be huge pollution from others."
Remember how the British judge said Al Gore was wrong in An Inconvenient Truth when he mentioned evacuations caused already by rising sea levels? WattHead pointed out that Global Warming Claims Island Community, Displaces 2,000 in Papua New Guinea: "The 2,000 residents of the Carteret Islands in Papua New Guinea are now some of the world's first climate change refuges, as rising sea levels driven by global warming have claimed their island homes. The residents of the low-lying South Pacific atolls have given up their 20-year losing fight against rising seas and will be resettled elsewhere in Papua New Guinea."
Contributing Editor Devilstower gave us a start with another of his beautifully written Diaries, Science Friday: Congratulations, We're Dinosaur Killers: "Sixty-five million years ago, a large rock came screaming in from space. Despite all the recreations that show an impressive fireball streaming overhead, the real deal probably took about two seconds from the moment it entered the atmosphere, to the moment it impacted the Caribbean Basin with a force greater than anything in our nuclear arsenal. There wasn't really time for anything to think ‘huh, look at that,’ even if there had been anything around capable of such a complex thought as ‘huh.’ The common conception is that it was this falling stone that signaled the end of the dinosaurs and cleared the slate for the mammals to take center stage. The truth was messier. Only a few million years before, an object of similar size had slammed into present day Iowa, but the number of known extinctions associated with that collision... was zero. It seems unlikely that the first collision would be absorbed without a blip, while the second would mark the end of an age. Actually, the end of the Cretaceous was a messy time marked by vulcanism, large shifts in sea levels, and changes to the connections between continents. The timing between the Yucatan collision and the mass extinction is too close to think that there was no effect, but it may be that all those species were already looking over the edge of a cliff, stressed by the many changes in their environment. The asteroid simply gave them a push."
Turkana pulled no punches in UN Environment Programme: The future of humanity is at risk: "It doesn't get much more blunt, although don't expect to hear much about it from the corporate media. The study, involving more than 1,400 scientists, found that human consumption had far outstripped available resources. Each person on Earth now requires a third more land to supply his or her needs than the planet can supply, it finds. Meanwhile, biodiversity is seriously threatened by the impact of human activities: 30% of amphibians, 23% of mammals and 12% of birds are under threat of extinction, while one in 10 of the world's large rivers runs dry every year before it reaches the sea.
Then came the follow-up piece, Global Warming: From the Great Dying to humanity at risk: "We need repeat it, over and over, because no one in the corporate media will even dare say it: there is no more important political issue than the environment. Read the UNEP report. Find out what your candidates intend to do about it. Encourage them and your current representatives to give this issue the attention it deserves. Be Energy Smart. The UNEP report makes it clear that it is not too late; but it also makes clear that we don't have much more time before it might be."
The Cunctator looked at the situation from the what-to-do-about-it point of view in Power Shift: Beginning of the Climate Change Movement?: "When people look back fifty years from now, this administration and Congress will be remembered for Iraq, the mortgage scams, the collapse of the dollar, an era of right wing-ruled politics. Nationally the greatest long term effect may be the shredding of the Constitution. But internationally, the issue that will define this era in the history books will be global warming, the time that the United States, the world's number one greenhouse polluter, fiddled while the rest of the world took action. With luck, we the people also will be remembered as having saved the world, the United States, the future by stepping up to the challenge and starting the greatest grassroots movement of all time to stop being the problem and to start being the solution."
CDC editing wasn’t the only revelation of irksome White House distortion last week. greendem wrote FOIA: More Bush Science Meddling Revealed
: "Looks like another round of fudged science. This time regarding a sweet little bird from the Pacific Northwest, the marbled murrelet. This new discovery of political manipulation of science by political appointees is about Julie MacDonald who resigned her post at Interior in disgrace a few months back."
Mark H talked about how seasonal winds helped whip California’s thirsty plants into a series of massive conflagrations in his Marine Life Series: Santa Ana Winds, Wildfires and Upwelling: "So how do Santa Anas affect marine life? I’ve mentioned in several previous diaries that one of the conditions needed to produce abundant plankton growth is upwelling. Upwelling occurs when vertical layers of ocean water inverts, with bottom water rising to the surface and the top layer sinking to the bottom. This inversion pulls up nutrients, which would otherwise be trapped in the sediment and be unavailable for surface-dwelling plankton to utilize. Because of the strength and continuity of the winds blowing towards the ocean, the Santa Anas actually move the warm surface waters out to sea. This creates a vacuum that is filled by deep cold water rising up to take its place, pulling nutrients to the surface along with it. These nutrients, once trapped at the ocean bottom, can now be used by phytoplankton and result in a population explosion known as a plankton bloom. The phytoplankton bloom is followed by an increase in zooplankton which feed on it. This in turn provides a rich source of food for animals higher up in the food chain, especially pelagic schooling fish such as sardines and anchovies."
He also told us all about sea gulls in Marine Life Series: J. Livingston Cracks A Clam: "Many gulls even make a full time living simply following fishing boats. As the ship makes its way back to port, it is common practice to use this time to fillet or otherwise prepare the catch (including discarding bycatch animals) for the market. Gull colonies will often stay with a single vessel throughout the voyage just to feed on the discarded fish."
lineatus Dawn Chorus: Birdblog - Firebirds: "This is a bird blog, let’s hear from the birds. During the fire: Well, for one thing: they have wings and they fly. When the guano hits the fan, they’re outta here. Mammals are kinda stuck... they can only move so fast, in two dimensions, and they face barriers like rivers and cliffs and walls of fire. Birds can rise above without regard to most barriers, and they can do it fast. If I have to ride out a fire, I’d prefer to do it as a bird. So now the fire is over: For a little while, the only avian visitors to the fire zone (and mostly the fringes, at that) will be the scavengers... vultures, some hawks, some corvids... In the hottest zones, there won’t be enough for even those guys to get by. But at the edges of the fire, there will be animals who were overcome by smoke or heat, but did not burn. The scavengers – avian, insect and mammalian – will feast."
New Breakthrough Could Help Save Frogs from Extinction was Magnifico’s hopeful Diary: "Scientists in New Zealand have discovered a possible cure to a deadly disease that has been destroying much of the world's population of frogs and other amphibians. Kim Griggs, BBC News science reporter, reports from Wellington, New Zealand of a Frog killer fungus 'breakthrough'. The breakthrough is chloramphenicol, which is a common antibiotic used for humans as an eye ointment. ‘The researchers found frogs bathed in the solution became resistant to the killer disease, chytridiomycosis. The fungal disease has been blamed for the extinction of one-third of the 120 species lost since 1980.’
Railroad expert BruceMcF delved into pending legislation in Amtrak Bill on the Floor! Contact your Senator: "S.294 is the bill that apsmith diaried on the DailyKos back in April. To be brief, it looks to bring the Northeast Corridor up to a state of "good repair" (which, sad to say, it is not at the moment), institute a new model of control of federally owned rail infrastructure that, IMNSHO, is a better model than having a public operator own the infrastructure, and put Amtrak funding on a steady course, allowing for better forward planning. Now, this is not a panacea ... and the funding is, of course, by no means what we will be needing to upgrade to a more energy efficient intra-regional transport system ... but it does not interfere with a more ambitious policy in the future (say, 2009), so this is an opportunity to get things moving."
Electric cars creating Illinois jobs, according to Diarist Willinois: "Several interesting topics came up at the Liberty Brew & View showing of "Who Killed the Electric Car?" in Springfield Illinois. Over 30 people came to see the movie and hear Illinois State Representative Mike Boland talk about the Illinois Clean Car Bill and other clean energy legislation he's supporting. Representative Boland mentioned one of the tired old scare tactics auto-industry lobbyists are using against the Illinois Clean Car Bill: that it will cost jobs. They use this rationale so often that they don't even bother to explain or justify the claim anymore. How exactly will it cost jobs? Can't union auto workers make a lower polluting car just as well as old outdated ones? If anything is costing American jobs its the failure of American car companies to offer hybrid and other lower polluting cars that consumers are asking for."
skymuttCato Institute ridiculous "analysis" of electric vehicles,: "Cato Institute ‘energy expert’ Jerry Taylor took on electric vehicles yesterday trying to prove that fuel costs for vehicles with electric engines is greater than fuel costs for gasoline engines. In the end, however, all Taylor proved was that there's not much "think" in this ‘tank.’"
FOOD and AGRICULTURE
Eternal Hope looked at a subject that doesn’t get much media attention in the United States, Are GMO's safe and effective?: "One of the rapidly-growing controversies is the use of GMO's in various medicines and foods. To develop a progressive framework and response to this issue, we have many years of precedent to go back on. First of all, we should not oppose any scientific advance that will improve the lot of humanity. The Roman Catholic Church fought against independent thought tooth and nail, and we know where that got them.However, at the same time, the burden of proof should be on any manufacturer of any product that is potentially hazardous to man to show that their product is safe and effective."
burghpunk explained Why Conservation Matters - The Farm Bill and You: "You probably don’t know anything about the Conservation Title of the Farm Bill. Unless you live in a primarily rural area, all you might know about the Farm Bill is that is loaded with pork (get it? that’s a little Farm Bill humor for ya). But there is more to it than that, and some of it is important to you even if you think beef grows naturally in Styrofoam and cellophane. ...The conservation title essentially covers ways to make sure that the ‘dust bowl’ phenomenon of the 1930’s isn’t allowed to repeat itself. This is accomplished through several programs that set potential cropland aside to maintain river and stream buffers, preserve native prairie grass, conserve and restore wetlands, and protect highly erodible soil, among other things."
KiaRioGrl79 offered an installment in the series Vegetables of Mass Destruction: King Corn Edition: "I think it's particularly appropriate to review King Corn in a Vegetables of Mass Destruction diary, since the current corn production system in America is truly turning corn into a vegetable of mass destruction. Follow me over the jump to find out what I thought of the film, and the far-reaching effects of one particular set of agribusiness subsidy."
hamesfarmer warned about a pending legal provision in NAIS Acknowledged in New Farm Bill: "For all those who value home grown food from small scale producers, you need to step up or kiss it goodbye. Sorry to be so bold, but the Senate Ag Committee has approved a draft that includes NAIS in the Livestock Section of the Bill. You can see more about it at: Farm And Ranch Freedom Alliance."
OrangeClouds115 teased us all with her What I'd Really Like For My Birthday is a Big Cock...
... and all of the other agricultural animals in the U.S. to benefit from the 2007 farm bill, which the Senate will most likely debate on the floor next week (the week of my birthday... now you know what the 115 in my handle stands for). See? Just put a bow on it: (No need to wrap it... the crowing from inside the box would wreck the surprise!) We as a community have spent quite a bit of time talking up the importance of the 2007 farm bill as a means to reforming our food system (and bringing progressive change to all of the related issues - the environment, the economy, labor, immigration, health care, poverty, etc). The House version of the bill is a done deal (and it ain't that great). The Senate version is where we have our best shot at a good bill.
Gas/Coal/Oil attack each other, was the subject of an editorial by davidwalters’s friend Rod Adams, from Atomic Insights: "Disclosure: I have owned stock in Chesapeake Energy for a number of years. I actually kind of like their anti-coal message and believe that the company is doing the right thing for its stockholders by working hard to increase their market share. On the other hand, I am not a member of the Sierra Club and I am not certain why they believe it is in the interests of their donors to promote the burning of natural gas. Anyone have a good list of major contributors to the Sierra Club handy?"
NNadir delivered another couple of gulps of acid in A Comparison of the Environmental Cost of "Baseload" Wind and Nuclear Power.: "Let's be clear about ‘baseload wind.’ The number of baseload wind power plants on the planet is zero, because - and one should not be surprised to learn that this comes as a surprise to some - the wind does not blow continuously and steadily at all times anywhere on the face of the planet, not in Denmark, not in Germany, not in Southern California, not even in Antarctica. One may, of course, believe in baseload wind power plants, just like Pat Robertson believes that Jesus has ruled forever on the subject of evolution, but Pat Robertson's belief system has had zero effect on the behavior of DNA. Of course, Pat Robertson would tell you that evolution is "only a theory" and, by coincidence, baseload windpower is also ‘only a theory.’ There is NOT ONE of my critics on this website who has ever, to my knowledge, bothered to look in a single work of the primary scientific literature to find out about the environment, NOT ONE."
He added to that with Uh oh. Isotopes Found at the Cerro Pietro Geothermal Field in Mexico.: "One of the oldest operating large geothermal plants in the world is Cerro Pietro, near Mexacali, Mexico, which has a capacity of about 630 MWe. It produces 71% of Baja California's electricity and also exports electricity to the Southern United States. Mexacali, a city of about 600,000 citizens relies almost entirely on the Cerro Pietro geothermal fields. I am looking at a report on the field and although the geothermal plant is the greatest thing in the universe, I am troubled by reports that isotopes have been found at the plant. "
The exceptional series on mountaintop removal that was started by Devilstower had a couple of his entries the past week, and some Diaries by others as well.
One of those was Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse’s Bush's Appalachian War: Bombing Ancient Mountains: "Bush cites his ‘global war on terror’ and the need for energy independence as reasons to legalize the killing of mountains from a range that has lived for millions of years. There is no way to bring back the over 450 mountaintops that have been razed solely to permit profitable coal mining for his buddies. Instead of pursuing a clean energy policy, Bush has declared war on Appalachia. Many Americans are not aware that our self-proclaimed patriotic warrior who loves to preach adherence to religious doctrine is killing our ‘purple mountain majesties’ that God has ‘shed His grace on’ for the benefit of all. This is a war, complete with Bush authorizing mining companies to occupy Appalachia, literally bomb away the mountain summits and kill not just mountains and streams, but people, culture, environmental habitat and species. During 1985-2001, ‘approximately 800 square miles of mountains were leveled.’"
faithfull informed us about Appalachian Coal: the faucet is almost dry: "Well, I know ‘science’ isn’t the most popular thing in DC these days, but according to ‘facts’ we are sitting on AT MOST a mere 10-13 years of coal in the Appalachians: Take a look at the region carrying the heaviest load for American coal production, and you’ll see that we are definitively beyond ‘peak coal’ in Appalachia."
Devilstower wrote 30 Days to Save the Mountains: What Richardson Says: The Administration's decision to streamline mountaintop mining isn't good for anyone. Instead it's a gift to the industry that has been most loyal to the GOP at the expense of mine workers and the environment. What this nation needs is a 21st century energy policy that will reduce the pressure to dig up and burn every last ounce of coal, no matter how dangerous or how destructive. Coal can fit into this picture with new technologies, but the Administration is hanging onto the last scraps of a failed energy policy as long as it can. As well as 30 Days to Save the Mountains: What does Dodd Say?: I oppose Bush's proposal to relax environmental rules on mountaintop removal. This rule change is an example of special interests, in this case coal companies, running the government. When big coal companies make the rules, worker safety and the environment suffer.
Mary recommended replication of California's Magical Policy for Lower Energy Consumption: "Some states have put in place policies that decouple the profits of an energy company from the amount of power used by their customers. These policies have been proven to really work. Furthermore, one of the reasons that California has been able to maintain a level per capita energy usage over 30 years (instead of having energy usage double like most of the country) is because of the decoupling policy which re-wrote the way energy companies work with their customers. It is a powerful and effective policy in helping promote more efficiency on the part of both energy companies and their customers. So what does a decoupling policy do?"
Make or Break Energy Bill (HR3221) for Renewables in Congress caught the eye of AsianDem: "I just finished watching 'Saved by the Sun' on PBS about the growing needs for renewable energy through solar power. There's a segment where it shows solar panels installed along German's famous autobahn or highway. As we know, Germany is now leading the world in energy production from solar. Their target is to achieve 30% renewable energy by the year 2020! And what about us here? All the talk about renewable energy still being worked out in Congress. This bill HR3221, was passed in the House in August and is in the 'conference committee' right now."
It was JohnnyRook’s opinion that New Biofuel Process Not Enough to Save Corn Ethanol: "One of the significant dangers in focusing on producing ethanol from corn is that it will be very difficult and costly to overcome it's momentum even with better alternatives because, as I'm sure you've noticed, political decisions about science frequently have more to do with politics than they do with science."
And seeker pointed out a report in the same vein – UN: Biofuels Will Increase Hunger: "The United Nations has raised a key question about the use of biofuels as substitutes for petroleum products. In August, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, the official responsible for informing the UN Human Rights Commission about existing and emerging problems with the world's food supply, warned that Rushing to turn food crops — maize, wheat, sugar, palm oil — into fuel for cars, without first examining the impact on global hunger is a recipe for disaster. (p. 8) Most fundamentally, the problem is that the production of biofuels, or agrofuels, as the Rapporteur prefers to call them as a means of focusing attention on their agricultural origins, sets the stage for direct competition for grain between the 800 million people who own automobiles, and the world’s 2 billion poorest people."
A Siegel alerted us to the fact that California Fires Threaten San Diego's Electricity: "When we consider a path toward a healthier energy situation, one that would foster a Prosperous, Climate-Friendly Society, the path would include ever more energy efficiency, a smart grid with ever more distributed power (with a good deal of that coming from renewable power sources). Amid the many benefits of structuring the power system like this would be greater continuity of operations in the face of natural (or man-made) disasters. (For an attempt to foster this, see the Energize America Community Emergency Power Act.) If some reasonable percentage of San Diego's electricity were provided by rooftop solar and other renewable energy sources within city limits, this would have provided a path to maintain a continuity of power in the face of this fire's threat to the electrical grid. And, while we are at it, we might want to consider whether taking such an energy efficiency and renewable energy path to the future would foster a future less conducive to such massive blazes."
He wrote three Diaries in his Energy Smart series, including Energy Smart begins at Home: "There are many reasons for turning Energy Smart in the home. We could strike an emotional tone about our requirements to change paths when it comes to Global Warming, and the need to cut our individual carbon footprints. There is always energy security and reducing our individual burdens on the electrical grid. But, well, there is that basic imperative: wasteful practices are, well, wasteful. And, with energy prices mounting, those wasteful habits are going to hit harder in the wallet this coming winter."
He suggested a practical way to conserve that requires no pricey installations or weatherizing or down payments on a car lease in his Diary Kill a Vampire for Halloween ...: "Standby / Vampire Power refers to the electric power consumed by electronic appliances in a standby mode. A very common ‘electricity vampire’ is a power adaptor built on a plug with no power switch. However, while this consumption of power is used to provide functions for appliances such as remote controls and digital clocks to the user, most of the power consumed is considered wasted. Vampire power ... that little red light showing your TV as always ready for the remote control, even if you only watch it an hour a month. The cell phone or wireless phone charger burning up power even after the phone is fully charged (or even without the phone). The 'sleeping' computer. The Xerox machine left on through the four-day weekend. The modem and wireless system. The nearly ubiquitous electronics of our lives."
And there was Energizing America ... Cities leading the way: "There are many rows to hoe to foster an Energy Smart culture, one that will enable us to create a Prosperous, Climate Friendly Society. Being Energy Smart begins at Home, but individuals will not, cannot create this path toward a sensible future alone, we work, live, and prosper in communities. And, well, isn't that what civilization is about? Now, some communities in the nation are moving forward, are taking steps to create a sustainable energy future. This diary will focus on recent announcements by three cities: Berkeley and
Santa Barbara, California; and Richmond, Virginia."
Jerome a Paris, who has been warning about the coming of $100-a-barrel oil for ... uh ... some time now, discussed Countdown to $100 oil (50) - it's not 'oil', it's 'liquids': "One of the arguments that the cornucopians (or peak oil deniers) have used to dismiss the "peak oil" theory is that oil has been increasingly supplanted by new sources with equivalent or quasi-equivalent use. The first category of ‘unconventional’ oil usually includes production form other processes of the oil industry: condensates (high quality oil produced from natural gas reservoirs), NGPL (natural gas plant liquids - other liquid byproducts from gas production) or ‘refinery gain’ (the volumes remaining after oil has been processed into refined goods). It then adds oil sands (like those in Albberta, Canada), bitumens (extra-heavy oil, the biggest source being in the Orinoco belt in Venezuela) and oil shale (as found in large quantities in Colorado). Next come gas-to-liquids and coal-to-liquids - ie other hydrocarbons which require an additional processing step to be usable as an oil substitute in the existing infrastructure (GTL is a way to produce high quality diesel fuel from natural gas). Deep offshore oil is also often counted in that ‘unconventional’ category, as are the potential volumes in the Arctic and Antartcic areas."
Diarist GreyHawk also had some words on that subject in Fueling the Fires of War and Discontent: $100 Oil and $3 Gas on the Event Horizon: "Heading into the winter season in the US, home heating oil costs are expected to rise dramatically: Americans will spend $977 to heat their homes this year, averaging for all fuels across all sections of the country, according to the Energy Information Administration. Those heating with oil can expect to pay "19 more this year compared to last, according to a government report Tuesday. Who's likely to be the hardest hit? >Americans who use oil heat will be hit the hardest. Due mostly to higher crude prices, nationwide-average oil heating bills this winter are expected to be 22 percent higher than they were a year ago, EIA said. "
For mastrwik, the news about more expensive oil is a good thing, as he explained in Don't Fear the Reaper: Why We Should Cheer the Price of Oil: "Sure, wind, solar, cellulosic ethanol, biodiesel, and geothermal are great sources of energy, but look at the economics. They don't add up. The hydrocarbon is still king when it comes to dollars and cents. The only way to affect change on the energy production and consumption of this country is to make it worth it to go green. Government subsidies and tax code revisions are much less effective than the natural market. So I say: Let the price of oil rise. Let consumers feel the pinch. Let Average Joe American do the math in his head of driving a 15 mpg vehicle 10 miles at $5/gallon. That's more than 3 bucks to go to the store. It will make people stop and think before getting behind the wheel. Simple economics will force consolidation of errands and tasks involving driving. As the price of gasoline rises and more Americans become unwilling to drive so much, the market for alternative energy will truly jump forward. Progress in leaps and bounds will ensue as great incentives will exist for those that commercialize alternative energies and fuels."
gmoke explored Solar, As Seen on TV (6): "Extreme Makeover Home Edition is doing a green makeover on a trailer on the Navaho Reservation in Pinon, Arizona. The recipients are the Yazzie family whose son, Garrett, is a ‘junkyard genius,’ the inventor of a solar hot water and space heater he built out of aluminum cans and a discarded car radiator. "A ground-breaking episode so BIG it doesn't just save a family, it could help save the planet."
Land Use Watch again discussed a proposal in Oregon, this time in a new light – Measure 49 and California's fires: can it happen in Oregon?: "Let me first say that my heart goes out to the victims who have lost their homes, or lives, in the raging fires in Southern California. I have many friends in that area. One of my good friends from high school had his entire home (and neighborhood) end up in flames. It's devastating and heart-breaking. But one of the reasons that, year after year, we have news stories about forest fires burning homes in California (and elsewhere) is because of the massive build-up of homes in fire prone areas. The New York Times has a great interactive piece on this very issue. People often want to be in the ‘middle of nature’ -- well, more often than not, the ‘middle of nature’ isn't the best place to build a house! As well, homebuilders, without concern for the long-term viability of a house, often push for authorization to build on steep, brushy slopes, right next to dry forests. That's a terrible mix!"
Similar views could be read in FishOutofWater’s Leaving Los Angeles with Fire Ecology Primer: "It was only when I took off from LAX on Wednesday to go home that the scope of the disaster became apparent. Lines of fire and smoke covered the hills and mountains out of the south facing window. I could see a dozen separate fires over a length of at least 100 miles. The smoke blew back from the mountains to the coast and covering most of the view back to the southwest. The extent of the fires was stunning, but in just a couple of minutes we flew into the desert and they were behind us. My heart goes out to all who were affected by the fires. This is a terrible disaster. That said, it was also a predictable disaster."
bufford imitated the omniscient in God to CA: Stop the Sprawl: "This is a key time to put a halt to urban sprawl that is eating up natural vegetation and wildlife habitat in California. Clearly this is one of the factors contributing to global warming. Even the rich should start living in highrises. It is a great way to live - they can have wrap around terraces and pools. Plus it is less destructive on the environment. The government should buy up all of these lots, and consolodate the displaced into gorgeous apartment buildings that they will adjust to in a week, and never want to deal with a house again."
Never one to be tardy or absent, Frankenoid provided another in her wonderful series, Saturday Morning (Home And) Garden Blogging Vol. 3.36: "After the freeze, we've had true Indian summer: it was in the high 70s on Wednesday, and up past 80 on Thursday. Just in time for the weekend, though, another cold spell is upon us — today's only going to be in the 50s. Tomorrow, though, for pumpkin evisceration, we'll be back up in the 60s, so I hope I'll be able to move the mess outside to the veggie patch. Our neighbors down the way — the ones whose house was pictured in the newspaper last year because of their outstanding display of Christmas lights — also go all out on Halloween decorations, to the point where at night the place puts out such a bright orange glow the unaware might think the place was on fire."
PUBLIC LANDS & WATER
badger gave us some pointers onHow to Build a Forest: "In 1891 Gifford Pinchot, later to be appointed America's first Chief Forester by Teddy Roosevelt, visited the Kaweah Colony, a utopian Socialist community situated in a grove of California's Giant Sequoia. As related by Stephen Pyne in Fire in America (p 302): ... Kaweah colonists informed [Pinchot] that they had saved the grove from burning up 29 times in the past 5 years. To this, Pinchot wryly inquired, "Who has saved them during the remaining three or four thousand years of their age?" Had Pinchot really understood thoroughly the implications of his question, he would have known how to build a forest. More importantly, he would have known how not to build a forest, and the megafires that sweep the Western US (and other parts of the planet) every year would be more controllable and less destructive."
Nulwee opined that John Edwards Impressive On Real Time RE: Climate Crisis: "I believe Edwards would address this issue, but I haven't seen evidence to favor him over Obama on climate change, and at any rate, they both have shown a remarkable integrity towards the blogosphere in an age of politicians and pundits who ignore the educated and favor the mob and the pep rally."
TomP provided a lengthy ) My Interview of Friends of the Earth Action President Blackwelder Re Edwards Endorsement: "Mr. Blackwelder answered 10 questions that I sent him via email. Here is Part I of the Interview. Q: What most differentiates John Edwards from the other Democratic presidential candidates with respect to environmental issues? A: Of the leading Democratic candidates for president, John Edwards is most committed, and best prepared, to halt global warming and promote a healthy, livable planet for our families and our future. Friends of the Earth Action feels John Edwards has set the paces among all of the Democratic candidates by putting forth a plan that provides real action to combat global warming. We encourage people to visit our web site, www.foeaction.org. to learn more about why we endorsed Edwards and facts about his environmental record." Part II can be found at John Edwards will be our First Green President.
randomperson26 took a gander at Hillary's Plan for Rural America: "Americans depend on rural America for food, and if we ignore these small farmers, corporations will control the food we eat. Hillary is closing loopholes that allow large corporate farmers from benefiting from crop payments, so small family farmers can have a fighting chance. Do you want corporate America to own the crops? Yeah, me neither! Hillary also believes rural America can help with our energy crisis. She wishes to speed the development of biofuels, and wind and solar energy. She would create a $50 billion Strategic Energy Fund that would aid in the development and implementation of clean energy."
buhdydharma asked a question some people don’t want to think about, and added a poll – If Gore Is Out, Who is The Climate Candidate?: "In order to mitigate Climate Crisis, the new President will have to royally piss off the most powerful force in the world today Multi-national corporations. In order to survive, they will have to have a solid plan to present to both corporations and to the public to get them to make the sacrifices that will be necessary for any meaningful mitigation to occur."
Desert Rose challenged Presidential Appointee Overrides Environmental Law: "Michael Chertoff, the homeland security chief, a presidential appointee, made the sole decision yesterday, to override environmental law and allow construction of a wall through the San Pedro Riparian Wilderness area, which is adjacent to the Mexico border. Mr Chertoff claimed that the environmental damage caused by illegal immigrants was greater than the environmental impact of a wall on migrant wildlife."
gmoke asked questions at a speech at Harvard – Maureen Dowd: Bush Made America Green: "Last night, Maureen Dowd gave the TH White lecture at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. I asked her a question about what seems to be the increasingly dire timeframe for climate change and peak oil. She responded by saying that it was amazing to her but George W. Bush seems to have turned America green, a reaction to his determinedly black or brown policies according to what I take to be her reasoning. She didn't respond at all to my main point, the increasingly likely possibility that climate change has already reached the tipping point, that world oil production figures indicate that peak oil may have already happened, and that any mitigating actions should have been in place yesterday if not the day before."
robert harding examined International Carbon Action Partnership announces methods to combat global warming: "Over the weekend, I received a "media advisory" saying that Gov. Eliot Spitzer, along with Gov. Jon Corzine of New Jersey and other leaders would be taking part in a conference call from Portugal regarding the International Carbon Action Partnership (ICAP) events that are going on today. I listened to the conference call for about 20 minutes. Gov. Spitzer gave an opening statement, as did Gov. Corzine. They were joined by Premier Gordon Campbell of British Columbia and representatives from California's Environmental Protection Agency. What's very interesting about ICAP's conference being held in Portugal is that Portugal is a world leader in renewable energy. They utilize many different types of clean, renewable energy, whether it's wind power (both onshore and offshore) or hydropower, which is the source for most of their renewable energy. What ICAP will do is create a platform so that governments all over the world can share information with each other regarding cap and trade (or emissions trading) markets and to find out or implement new approaches."
GREEN PHILOSOPHY and MISCELLANY
Nulwee wondered how ...To Keep That Miserable Century of Global Warming From Turning Into A Catastrophe: "(Bill) McKibben himself went on to assess Democrats at the presidential and congressional level, and states unequivocably that voting Democratic is the best chance the American people have. ‘However, none of them [Clinton, Obama, Edwards] have yet shown that they're determined to make this the central organizing principle of their presidency, which it pretty much has got to be.’ Even if Bush wanted to he can't. And he's rubbing global warming in our eyes when he visits the wildfire damage today which is on everyone's mind and says nothing or nothing of consequence about it."
Guinho lamented As an enviro-wacko, I hate being right ...: "God I hate being right. I'm a scientist. an evolutionary biologist, even worse. A global change ecologist. Ick. Still, after having heard warnings about the inadequacies of the US educational system in science since the 1970s, I can't say I'm surprised. If you don't change direction, you are likely to end up where you are headed, as they say.The US gives science very little credibility, in part, because the average joe doesn't understand it. There is also a long standing and well-honed tools from the evolution deniers, and the heliocentric and round earth deniers before them, for muddying clear science.Now it comes back to bite us in the a*s."
eugene took the umbrella approach and argued that Fire, Water, and Global Warming: It's All One Crisis: "But like the hurricanes spawned by the Atlantic Ocean, the fires spawned by the Santa Ana winds are growing worse. Even though the current danger has not yet passed in SoCal, it is worth examining the links between global warming and wildfire. We've known for some time that the two were linked. Perhaps now it is time to finally get serious and do something about it. The key isn't merely higher temperatures. At the center of the problem is moisture. California is at the opening stages of the worst water crisis in its modern history. Without enough rainfall, plants and trees will dry out more quickly and more thoroughly, leaving more fuel for fires. The Southwestern US - and the Colorado River basin in particular - has been in a drought since October 1999. As last week's cover story in the San Diego Reader explained, "As far back as 2004, the U.S. Geological Survey started calling this drought "comparable to or more severe than the largest-known drought in 500 years." The drought is having a catastrophic effect on vegetation, including the centuries-old oaks that dot the hillsides and canyons of Southern California.
sarahnity wrote her usual helpful Frugal Fridays: Be prepared: "Welcome to Frugal Fridays where we share money saving tips, discuss living frugally and generally talk about personal finance issues. Current events have got me thinking about disaster preparedness this week. Everyone should have a disaster preparedness kit and plan. In California, we call them ‘Earthquake Kits’ but, as you may have noticed, earthquakes are not the only disasters we may face. While it's true that everyone should have a kit, buying one pre-made can be much more expensive that assembling your own. So today's topic is how to frugally prepare for a disaster. Please use the comments to add your own suggestions for what should be included and sources for cheap supplies."
Our Future in Cement: Exponential Overshoot Series #1 was not an investment come-on, but rather Akonitum’s take on another big problem: "Cement is just another indicator of indiscriminate growth. As people increasingly are beginning to see, indiscriminate growth is leading to mass overshoot. We can see the overshoot dynamic on the horizon in looming water shortages, pollution, environmental degradation, global warming, global peak oil production, and North American peak oil production."
WattHead is a big fan of a friend of mine, Bill McKibben, and highlighted an excellent piece – Bill McKibben Says It's Time to "Organize, Organize, Organize" for a Cleaner Future: "Bill McKibben has three pieces of advice for people who want to make a difference in the fight against global warming: 1: Organize. 2. Organize. 3. Organize," says the well-beloved author, educator, climate activist and co-founder of Step It Up. Only then does he add his fourth piece of advice: "After that, if they have some energy left, by all means change the light-bulbs."
juliewolf plunged into The Psychology of Conservation: ">>Imagine two scenarios. In the first, your electric company charges you a premium rate for power when demand is highest - typically on a super-hot summer afternoon when air conditioners everywhere are churning out cold air. In the second, the utility gives you a refund for not consuming electricity during those peak-demand hours. Which one would you be more likely to accept? This is the question being asked by Robert Letzler, as reported in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, and its a fascinating one. What do you think would be more motivational?"
Willinois wrote a Review of King Corn: "The State Journal-Register has a recent article featuring complaints by the National Corn Growers Association about a new documentary called King Corn. I had the chance to see an advance copy of the film a few months ago and I fully expected big agribusiness to object to how their industry is portrayed. The plot of King Corn is that two city-slickers from Boston move to Iowa to grow an acre of corn. Their goal is to find out where the end product of what they grow is eventually used. The audience learns along with the film-makers about modern farming and the agriculture industry. ... I didn't realize, as most Americans don't, the extent to which the government takes action to increase consumption of corn and corn byproducts. By the end of the movie I realized how much the promotion of ethanol for so many years is one more in a long line of efforts to increase the price of corn. The article quotes one of the film's creators saying: ‘I can't tell you how unlike a Michael Moore film this is.’ Well, that's true. Michael Moore's movies are more entertaining and do a better job of making a point."
Chaoslillith aggregated some eco-news in Cheery environmental news and POOTIES!!: "Los Angeles, San Francisco and Santa Barbara residents are being urged to switch off their lights for one hour on Saturday in the first such organized bid in the United States to promote energy saving. Much of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and Los Angeles International Airport will go dark between 8:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m., apart from essential safety lighting. Lights in city buildings will be switched off and millions of residents in the three cities are being asked to follow suit."