If you haven’t already, now is a good time to get ready for John McCain, Eco-Ranger. Because we’re going to hear a lot from the Arizona Senator about the environment. Some of what he says is going to sound pretty good. Beware.
As Kate Sheppard at Grist wrote Friday:
John McCain gave a campaign speech in New Jersey today in which he touched on environmental issues and talked up his record in that area. "There is no doubt our environment is globally challenged," McCain said in a stop at the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, N.J. "I'm proud of my environmental record."
But as some enviros in the state were quick to point out, that record is mixed at best (take, for example, his lifetime League of Conservation Voters score of 24 percent and his 2007 score of zero). "His words say one thing, his record puts him in lockstep with the Bush administration and its dismantling of environmental programs," New Jersey Sierra Club director Jeff Tittel told Newsday.
The speech [Friday] was the first of several environmental addresses planned over the next week. On Monday, McCain is slated to give a big speech at Vestas Energy, which manufactures wind turbines, in Portland, Ore.
Take notes, everybody.
You can find the DailyKos Environmentalists here.
Click for the Rescue.
GREEN PHILOSOPHY & MISCELLANY
Competing with the Masdar Initiative concerned NanoDorkus: "Say what you will about the opulence of the United Arab Emirates, you have to respect the wisdom and visionary planning behind the Masdar Initiative. I just wish the planners in the booming Emirate of Dubai would take some notes. But who am I to hate? Nobody in the US is really making a concrete investment in creating a sustainable infrastructure within our own cities to meet the demands of the 21st Century. You would think that American innovation would be at the forefront of this movement. Yet, here we are, business as usual. This is most certainly a problem."
artofstarving pondered how Small Bits of Our Lives Are Lost in Traffic: "I live in L.A. I'm obsessed with cars. Traffic. The Ego Clash. The effect on the culture, on the psyche. Watching the city from above you get the odd feeling we live in an ant farm. The movements of cars are absorbed into their drivers and influence their mental states. When cars are unable to go anywhere, stuck in traffic, or stopped at long lights, their drivers become backed up emotionally, frustrated, we feel like caged wild animals -- and in a way we are."
In Political Mythology of Energy Independence, gmoke wrote about an author who challenges a widespread slogan: "The argument of Gusher of Lies is that ‘energy independence’ is a ruse to fool the rubes, a delusion used by demagogues to gull the public purse. It may just be correct. ... Each time Congress or the White House gets too involved in the energy business, supplies get tighter or prices increase, or both. Of course, politicians always want to ‘help.’ And the energy sector provides a perfect venue for demagogues to bash the evils of Big Oil, or Big Coal, or Bad Arabs, of Evil OPEC. Unfortunately for consumers, history has repeatedly shown that congressional meddling usually ends in a muddle."
Jampacked followed that up with The cost of trying to be energy 'independent' : "Also of note about the ‘mythology of energy independence,’ and only lightly touched on in gmoke's diary, is the fact that though the ability to be energy independent remains plausible (yet, probably not possible), were we to somehow implement this pipe dream the costs would be enormous. It is simply much much cheaper to take energy producing resources from places like Nigeria, Brazil, Venezuela, Saudia Arabia, Australia, or Canada than to rely solely on oil, natural gas, or even uranium from home."
In Our Wasteful Ways, dolfin66 challenged the whole ubiquity these days of bottled water: "Today, while at the supermarket, I watched a guy load 4 cases of bottled water into the back of his pickup truck. I harkened back to one of my discussion classes when I taught high school science. The students and I analyzed the situation of bottled water in light of the public announcement that the water in imported spring water from Europe had the same mineral content as the city tap water. The kids say they were paying $1.50 for a 20 oz. bottle. Since a gallon contains 128 oz., the math my little geniuses performed showed that there were 6.4 of these bottles in a gallon and the extended cost per gallon was $9.60!"
NoMoreNicksLeft asked Some questions for those who consider themselves environmentalists...: "1. Is it environmentally unsound to encourage people to, in addition to staple foods, grow their own exotic spices, fruits, or other food? 2. Is anyone even aware of how environmentally unfriendly HOAs are being and becoming, and what can even be done about it? 3. What are the objections to using nuclear power remain, and why are they non-negotiable? 4. What have you got against fusion as a power source, why is it supposedly so much science-fictiony-er than solar that can meet our current and projected energy demands?"
Rainforest Action Network presented the Video Greenwash of the Week: ‘Clean Coal’: "We've started a new video series here at the Rainforest Action Network: The Greenwash of the Week. Since coal and mountaintop removal have been popular issue around here I thought I'd share our latest video with you.The topic this week is ‘clean’ coal and in particular, a technology called ‘carbon capture and storage.’"
Revisiting a long-standing question among some environmentalists, don mikulecky wrote My first Eco-diary: The earth is Alive?: "What I want to focus on in this first installment is the very deep idea that the earth system, for lack of a better term, is alive and can be viewed, in fact, as a very interesting kind of organism. (Dorion) Sagan's book is in large part devoted to convincing us of that."
In a monograph, scoutbanana assessed from oppression to development: chevron's policy rethink in nigeria's bayelsa state: "Conflict over the oil resource in Nigeria is not an issue that can be simplified into a single driving cause. The issue is complex and cuts across the topics of violence, environmental degradation, and democratic representation in the Niger Delta. These topics within the issue of conflict over oil encompass political, economic, and social histories where effects can be seen at the local, state national, and international levels."
POLITICOS & LEGISLATION
Rachel Griffiths talked about the interweaving of certain "interests" and the politicians who benefit in Oil & Food: HIGHER Prices & Profits, STOP selling our country to the highest campaign contributors: "The Farm Bill supports Big Agriculture. The Energy Bill supports Big Oil Big Agriculture and Big Oil support political campaigns ... It doesn’t take a 6th grader to connect these dots. More like a third grader. But let me spell it out anyway. Big Business ‘pays’ politicians through campaign donations. Politicians pay back Big Business through corporate welfare (in the form of tax breaks, incentives, pork projects, etc.), which really means our tax dollars, yours and mine, pay back Big Business for their campaign contributions."
robert harding highlighted the Big Oil Politician of the Day: Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) According to OpenSecrets.org, the top industry that gave money to Hutchison was oil and gas. Since 1989, Hutchison has received $2,085,664 from Big Oil. Since 2003, Exxon-Mobil is the six largest contributor to Hutchison's campaigns, giving her $27,520 for her Senate campaigns. As the saying goes, money is power. Money from the oil companies is empowering Hutchison and helping her support the causes of Big Oil. Don't let her fool you. She doesn't care about high gas prices. She cares about Big Oil."
dansac gave a shout-out to a shout-out in National Environmental Group Endorses Obama: "Friends of Earth, has endorsed Obama for President: ’We endorse Senator Obama because we believe he is the best candidate for the environment,’ said Friends of the Earth Action President Brent Blackwelder. ‘The "gas tax holiday" debate is a defining moment in the presidential race. The two other candidates responded with sham solutions that won’t ease pain at the pump, but Senator Obama refused to play that typical Washington game.’ Instead ... [h]e showed the courage and candor we expect from a president."
Finally: Obama Up With New Ad SLAMMING Gas Tax as "Bogus" was dansac’s follow-up: "In interest of full disclosure, I was not a fan of Obama's earlier gas tax ad. The reason is because he listed his only reason for opposing the tax as not giving Americans much money back. That's not a good enough explanation for a lot of people for whom every dollar counts. That didn't get the real point across which is that oil companies would raise their prices anyway and pocket the profits. ... Well, Obama slams back hard with an ad I'm sure some will call negative - and I call well-deserved - for the pander-fest that Hillary's been on with this ridiculous proposal."
NCDem Amy also posted about the endorsement and the ad in her Diary, Friends of the Earth Obama Ad & Endorsement-Updated w/Obama's New Gas Tax Ad: "Brent Blackwelder, President of Friends of the Earth noted Obama's strong pro-environment record and the ‘Clinton-McCain sham of a tax holiday’ as the primary reasons for the endorsement."
On the other hand, dreadopus was not to happy about Senator Obama’s comment, The Saudi Arabia of Coal: "Aggressive and clean are very relative terms, especially considering Obama's Illinois roots and his connections to their in-state coal industry. Also bear in mind that Obama has carried water for nuclear power plants and voted for the Bush/Cheney Energy ‘plan.’ Is this another subject for the willful suspension of disbelief?"
Code Breaker added some drooling to the Eco-Diaries with a focus on This is for all the fans of alternative fueled cars: "The 2008 Tesla Roadster. It's a little on the pricey side at $109,000 (lucky for me I know a guy and am getting it for a little cheaper). This is the electric car big oil couldn't kill. 100% electric. 0-60 in 3.9 seconds. 135 mpg equivalent. 220 miles per charge. Less then 2 cents per mile. So see if people get the idea of electric cars of being small and usually funny looking out of their mind by seeing this bad-ass car and trust me it's bad-ass, more people might force the production of more electric vehicles."
Vehicles of another sort got the hook from Ken Avidor in Video: PRT Pod People Invade Living Green Expo: "They call themselves Citizens for Personal Rapid Transit (CPRT). PRT has a folowing of cult-like fanatics who believe we'll all be riding around in futuristic pods on top of monorails in the near future. PRT is actually a Nixon-era concept that has wasted millions of dollars in research, mostly in the last century. ...PRT bamboozles and confuses citizens and lawmakers about the real, workable, off-the-shelf transit solutions that can help communities free themselves from gridlock, pollution and dependence on foreign oil."
aaraujo declared that Gas price increases are chickens coming home to roost: "We have seen this movie before about 35 years ago when OPEC announced that they would no longer ship oil to nations that had supported Israel. Nothing has changed since then except the decline of the American automobile industry to less fuel-hungry Japanese imports. What we need are cities rebuilt, planned and zoned to concentrate business and commercial entities into city hubs connected with railway lines into surrounding residential communities."
Possible progress may be in the offing, according to patrickz in the Diary NY Times: Gas Prices Send Surge of Riders to Mass Transit: "Well, we may not be paying the 'real price' for our gasoline yet, but we are getting a taste of what it would be like. And the obvious things are starting to happen: people are thinking about alternative fuels, better fuel efficiency, and alternative transport. Imagine where we would be if we were paying the 'real price' for our gasoline all along, or even just a small fraction of it, and putting that money into our often neglected mass transit system."
Wee Mama promoted a fund-raiser in Would you bike a hundred miles for a glass of water?: "These folks will - and they won't even get to drink it! They're going even farther - they are biking a thousand miles, to raise money for clean water in Swaziland and the Sudan. ... Unless you live close to Iowa, it would be hard to join these sturdy folks on the road (and harder still to do 90 to 112 miles a day!) but you can still help provide fresh water by donating, and no pulled muscles! The money will go to ingenious chlorinators that use a small amount of electricity to generate chlorine locally so that villages can purify water without being connected to a grid."
ANIMALS & NATURE
Some people claim it’s impossible to be shocked anymore after nearly seven-and-a-half years of the Cheney-Bush administration. While we may be numbed by too many shocks, it still possible to be outrated, as Lipo pointed out in Polar bears or oil drilling? Alaska politicians prefer oil.: "The Alaskan government wants to find scientists who will study polar bears to prove they are not threatened by global warming, officials say. Republican legislative leaders in Alaska say the current scientific stance that polar bears are being ‘threatened’ by global warming could potentially have a negative impact on Alaska's economy and arctic oil development, The Anchorage Daily News reported Sunday. ‘We want to have the money to hire scientists to answer the Interior (Department) scientists,’ House Speaker John Harris, R-Valdez, said of the scientific fight."
Contributing Editor Plutonium Page also took on the polar bear "scientists" in Paying For The Science They Want: Alaska State Legislators Go Denier-Shopping: "Rick Steiner is a conservation scientist at the University of Alaska. For months, he has been attempting to get Alaska state officials to make public any scientific reasons they have for preventing the protection of polar bears: (He said) ‘This truly is the conference to nowhere,’(...)"
As if not acting in one eco-arena weren’t bad enough, the administration is still trying to act in another, wrote tgypsy in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge – a photo diary with an action item: "Let me translate President Bush's words for you: If you are opposed to drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, you are an elitist who doesn’t care about the price hard working Americans have to pay for gas and oil. ..."
ivorybill , who does relief work in northern Iraq, wrote this week’s Dawn Chorus - Iraqi Kurdistan Edition: "Curiosity about the natural world is a universal human trait, and with it usually comes a love for birds. It’s not a question of culture, or class, or language. A couple days ago, I took a ride with our driver Jamal. His passion for birds manifests itself in pigeon breeding - he likes the ornamental variety that flies up and swirls in loops and the ones with floppy feathered feet and piebald feathers. We often end up talking birds on long drives."
Dcoronata brought us up to speed on Spring Migration #3. One Bird At a time: "Spring bird migration is a slow developing event. Think of it as a new restaurant just opening up, without any advertising or PR. One or two people show up, then a few more, then a few more. After a couple of weeks the place is mobbed, there isn't any room to breath and it takes months to get a reservation. Then slowly, people lose interest in the new venture and it starts to die out. If the grand opening is the first days of April, and the end is the second week of June, the height of popularity is the second week of May. So why bother coming to a restaurant that isn't full yet? Because no matter how great the main course is, you shouldn't turn down a good appetizer."
Spring fever also took hold of Nature Maven who gave us Spring Bird Sightings, Poll, and Hike Pix: "Spring is returning slowly here at 1850 feet in the Pines of Western Monroe County, PA. Last week we had stunning purple finches, male and female. Today we have quite a few bright yellow goldfinches for the first time this year, hanging upside down on the Nyjer thistle feeder. ...Oh, yes, and yesterday we saw a bumble bee."
A Siegel managed to climb into a new Rescue category this week with his Gas prices drive four-legged alternatives ...,: "In the face of rising oil prices, people are searching for alternatives around the globe. Most of the news go to tomorrow's technologies ... but there is something of a back to the future aspect in some cases. As the Financial Times reports, camel sales are booming in Rajasthan, India. ... Oil is only up about 150 percent, camels 300 percent or more."
matthew fogarty found it to be Not a good week for animals: "I know there are many who disagree, but horse racing is an unnatural stress on horses. They are bred, trained and prized for their speed at the expense of other considerations. They are asked to run at all out breakneck speeds that are dangerous for any animal. They are whipped relentlessly during the entire race to ensure they give their all. Not one bit of this serves the horses best interest. ... And it cannot be denied that this sport, especially at the level of the Triple Crown and other high profile events, is driven by huge financial considerations."
StarEagle took major exception to that view, expressed in many other Diaries as well. In PETA and Reality, he wrote: "After Saturday's death of Eight Belles in the Kentucky Derby, PETA decided to try to steal some of the national attention for their own agenda ... but PETA's take on the matter is so ridiculous that people need to hear the real facts of the matter. Here are some excerpts from (PETA’s) highly misleading letter: Races like this are the equivalent of child sweatshops. These are not even seasoned horses: They are young fillies and colts whose joints are not formed enough to endure such a grueling race. Eight Belles broke down while racing in the Derby, and had to be killed right on the track. That was awful - there's no question about it. But do you know how many other times that has happened to these young, immature, half-formed horses? None. In 134 runnings of the Derby ... this isn't exactly an epidemic."
Mz Kleen was devastated by the story of a 10 year old blind pony dragged to death: "... a pony's mangled body had been found by its owner Tory Morgan, in a pasture in Mercer County, PA. Police suspect ATV riders roped and then dragged the blind pony named Kahlua to its gruesome death. ... How can anyone do such a horrible thing like that? It just makes me really angry thinking about it. God, I hope they find the sick people responsible for this."
Biologist dolfin66 pondered Dolphins and other Cetaceans: Smarter than Humans?: "I am enthralled with dolphins, but I don't think swimming with them serves any purpose. They're better in the water than I am and can hold their breath longer. Besides, they don't blink and I wonder if they think it might be fun to take a bite out of my rear end. I know they're smart, but I don't know why or how they are smart."
patrickz dad’s flower pictures highlighted Our Colorful Planet: Oklahoma Wildflowers!: "My father has spent years going out to photograph, identify, and catalog (complete with description) as many wild, flowering plants in Oklahoma as he can find. It is a labor of love, and he is careful say that he is not a professional. For him, it is treasure-hunting; each new species is like finding a golden coin in the sand."
Population Rationing could be the ultimate environmental regulation, wrote Mat Noir: "At the current rate of growth, the human population reaches 9 billion around 2042. The non-fossil energy, about the only kind available at that date, may sustain about a billion, about the same as the pre-industrial count. Maybe add a few percent more to account for the wisdom we have gained since the 1800s. But I doubt it. As the demand for energy soars, prices of everyday goods continue to rise. Dorothy may have to replace her red shoes with those made of discarded tires from her SUV. No roads of gold, no air travel, and no spin around the block."
Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse pointed out that Destruction of Mangroves Contributed to Cyclone Deaths: "Given the number of deaths caused by the Burma cyclone, one question is what could have been done beforehand to better protect people. One answer is that we need to stop destroying our natural resources. Mangroves are natural buffers which decrease the severity of impacts from storms. The destruction of mangroves is a contributing factor to the death toll from the cyclone because people simply did not think of the environmental and human consequences of destroying the natural buffer."
POLLUTION & REGULATION
cosmic debris looked closely at Clear Silicone Nipple: Craptastic Plastic, BPA and you: "There have been several stories in the news lately about a chemical called Bisphenol A (BPA). This chemical is found in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins, which are everywhere in our lives, from our baby bottles, to sippy cups, to break proof dishwear, to eyeglasses, to dental coatings and even the linings in our canned foods. Industry says the stuff is safe. Canada wants it banned. Some Democratic Senators are considering trying to ban it too. It is an endocrine disruptor that mimics estrogen in our bodies. It may be related to a host of health problems including diabetes, obesity, breast and testicular cancers, developmental problems and birth defects. ... Industry seems to be hiring friendlies for safety studies. Under Bush?!?!? Say it ain’t so!"
In the second of a two-part Diary, Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse homed in on pesticides, Diseased Men, Women & Children Walking: "One problem with pesticides is that their negative impacts are not limited to the geographic area of application. In 2000, after 1 year of study, the Canadian House of Commons Standing Committee on the Environment issued a report: ‘Pesticides: Making the Right Choice For The Protection of Health and the Environment.’"
In her Diary, Dioxin for Breakfast: How to Tell EPA What You Think About Their Firing Mary Gade, Jesselyn Radack suggested her readers give EPA chief Stephen Johnson (202) 564-4700) some personnel advice: "Mary Gade, the head of EPA's Midwest regional office in Chicago, has been in a protracted battle against Dow Chemical over cleaning up three highly contaminated dioxin sites near its plant in Midland, Michigan. Her supervisor stripped her of her power as regional administrator and two aides to national EPA administrator Stephen Johnson told her to quit or be fired by June 1."
toys wrote What you wanted to know about the California Spraying but were afraid to ask: "[The pesticide to kill the light apple brown moth] is sprayed from planes flying at 500 feet. The capsules were supposed to be 80 to 140 microns. Upon testing, 50% were under 10 microns.After spraying Santa Cruz and Monterey, over 500 people went to the hospital. None of the doctors or patients were ever interviewed.No testing had been done on this type of application of the chemical before. No damage from the moth has been reported.No assessments were done to see if it was successful."
In his latest installment Stranded Wind discussed Walkabout #14: Hydroponic Hydropower Blues: "The Stranded Wind Initiative was formed to design, fund, and implement projects that can use renewable resources that are currently "stranded," or located in places where there aren’t enough people to use them and no way to get them out. ... as I’m traveling about New England what I see over and over is hydropower resources right next to towns that desperately need jobs."
A Siegel discovered that the Feds Object To Energy Smart Local Governance: "Montgomery County, Maryland, is moving toward a stronger building code, with requirements for new homes to meet the Energy Star home building parameters. This is the type of measure rapidly implementable across the country to help foster the move toward a more sensible building infrastructure such as envisioned by Architecture2030 (which has a plan to a deCarbonized building infrastructure by 2030). ... But they're being opposed in their efforts by ... [drumroll] ... the Bush administration."
terryhallinan gave us the skinny on Free Power For 50 Years: "RESIDENTS in the remote South Australian settlement of Innamincka will have free electricity for the rest of their lives. The small Outback town, 1065km northeast of Adelaide, has always relied on expensive diesel generators, which are switched off for up to 10 hours a day because of high costs. But at the end of this year, free geothermal technology will power the town."
For most of us, however, energy is anything but free, and in a pair of Diaries, Jerome a Paris pointed out just how much more expensive it may soon be. There was Countdown to $200 oil (3) - no gas tax needed: "Oil prices are going in one direction only, and there's a very simple reason for that: market forces. Market forces say that when demand is growing, prices will go up,which will encourage new supply to be provided, and some demand to be discouraged. But oil is a very atypical market right now."
And Countdown to $200 oil (4) - It's scheduled for 1/20/09: "Since hitting $100 in early January, the oil is up 26% in 4 months. Coincidentally, another 2 increases of 26% in 4 months will bring us to mid-January 2009 and almost exactly to $200 oil. Of course, there is no particular reason for oil prices to continue to increase at the exact same rhythm as before." Just a few years ago here, Jerome was ridiculed by many for suggesting we would soon see $100 oil.
lowkell also pointed to that soaring price in Goldman Sachs: $150-$200/barrel possible in next 6 months?: "Back in March 2005, when I was still working as an international oil markets analyst at the US Energy Information Administration (and oil prices were about $50 per barrel), Goldman Sachs came out with its first "super spike" analysis. ... My former colleagues at EIA are out with their latest short-term forecast. As usual, they've got prices falling back slightly in coming years ("WTI crude oil prices, which averaged $72 per barrel in 2007, are projected to average $110 per barrel in 2008 and $103 per barrel in 2009."), mainly because of a tendency to believe that high oil prices will result in slowing demand and also a supply response. We'll see, but honestly I've got to go more with Goldman Sachs on this one..."
Nulwee also took note that Goldman Sachs Expects Oil Prices To Hit $200.
girlyman sought a difference approach from a leading presidential candidate in Working class Hillary threatens to obliterate OPEC: "Why doesn't she hold the US oil companies to account, who to this day get government subsidies for oil exploration and refinery infrastructure, at a time when they are making record profits? oh wait, I forgot, they are big contributors to her campaign. She can’t get angry at them."
In International Energy Agency Sounds Alarm, jhogg clued us into "a great interview between Fatih Birol, Chief Economist and Head of the Economic Analysis Division of the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA) and Astrid Schneider, Internationale Politik."
corwin pondered Dead Industries Walking: "It appears we are nearing the end for coal, oil and nuclear energy. ... So where does this leave us? This gives us a small window of opportunity, if we are smart enough to take it."
In his Walkabout series, Stranded Wind discussed the prospect of When Energyslaves Revolt: "Anyone who has the ability to have an account on DailyKos has a great many energyslaves at his or her disposal. Seriously, go take a look around your dwelling (you’re not DKosing at work, are you?). A vehicle of some sort, a furnace, an air conditioner, a hot water heater, an stove with oven, lights, entertainment equipment, a computer ... starting to get the picture? I became peak oil aware almost a year ago and since then I’ve been mindful of what powers the various devices I use and I’ve made it a point to go into the great outdoors with as little as possible on me, staying a day at a time or more to get back in touch with what it means to live in a world made by hand. I’ve been doing an extended, lower impact version of this in my time here at farmerchuck’s Revoluntionary War era farmhouse, where many of the modern conveniences simply aren’t present. We’ve been having a good bit of trouble both on the behavior front as well as the fuel supply front so I thought I’d delve into this area from the perspective of a rural smallholding."
Roger Fox gave us the latest Polywell fusion update, ‘Houston, we are going for full power’: "This is the core of WB-6, 30cm across each ring. In Oct. 2005 it made fusion 5 times, the 5th time it had a bad short. Since the contract paying for the research was running out everything got packed up and they vacated the building. It wasn't until early 2006 that anyone got to look at the data. ... Heres the spoiler, WB-7 has been cranked up to ‘high power.’ Now they are building Instrumentation to measure, track, everything, in preparation for full peer review of the results."
In Lesson 2: The Good/Demand free energy now, Uranus said we could all have free energy: What made Edison's and Einstein's careers noteworthy was Nikola Tesla's innovative physics. He's the most brilliant and neglected inventor in history because entrenched interests didn't and still don't want humanity following his work. ... He gave his first public demonstration of radio in 1893. In that same demonstration, he showed another invention, wireless power transmission. He devised a relatively simple, inexpensive, global, solar-driven wireless power delivery system that could have provided everyone on earth all the clean energy they wanted free of charge."
Dry Observer looked at an exotic energy form, too, in Home Heating with Windpower -- Public Domain 'Invention': "So, take a small wind turbine like the ones once used (and occasionally still used) in the Midwest to pump water from wells. Use a belt to transfer momentum from the turbine down into your house, possibly using a pipe of some kind as a shaft to shelter said belt and the route it takes into your house from the elements. If you need this shaft to rotate in order to provide freedom of movement to the mini-windmill above, put another pipe inside the first, secured with spinning rotor rings at each end. At the bottom of this shaft you'll have two things. One, a copper disc driven by the belt that will spin in tandem with your wind turbine. Two, a 'U'-shaped bar magnet. You set the bar magnet up so that it can be locked in place when needed, and unlocked and removed (or simply flipped back if you have it on some kind of a hinge) when it is unneeded, the apparatus is overheating or your automatic thermostat is regulating the temperature. The first electromagnetic generator, the Faraday disc, used exactly this setup to produce electrical current."
Yet another exotic energy generator was presented by Code Breaker As oil hits another high( $125) we need something like the supermileage MYT Engine: "This is the most impressive design for an ICE I have yet seen. It weighs 1/5 of what a normal engine would, yet has so few parts rubbing against each other by comparison that the heat generated by friction is removed by simple air cooling, leaving a lot more power available as engine output. Imagine new cars costing 25% less, and getting 75 MPG standard!"
hannah wondered about the connection between Air Force and Nuclear Energy Corporations: "What do they have in common? Well, in my book, both the United States Air Force and the Nuclear Energy industry have the look of enterprises in search of a mission. Or, perhaps, in the case of the latter, the search is for an appropriate venue. Which is why there are all kinds of stories about the Air Force and the Nuclear Energy industry getting together. Of course, these stories are not new. As far back as 1987, the New York Times reported the Air Force was proposing the distribution of small nuclear reactors around the globe."
FOOD, AGRICULTURE & HORTICULTURE
Asinus Asinum Fricat
Researchers at the University of California Davis, have identified the genes responsible for providing frost tolerance for wheat, giving plant breeders hope that damage resulting from wheat frost could soon become a thing of the past. That, in my book, is good news! ... Wheat is used to make a variety of food products ranging from bread to pastas, wheat is a key driver of global food inflation. The identification of these genes by the University of California could allow plant breeders to develop wheat varieties that can better withstand cold temperatures. Siberian wheat, anyone?
In his Diary, FUEL FOR THOUGHT: "Let Them Eat Ethanol," Dubya, cosa nostradamus weighed in on the ethanol debate: "Another sterling example of your tax dollars at work: U.S. President George ‘Dubya’ Bush has gone out of his way to infuriate and insult two billion people in China and India, in your name. It's not the voracious appetite for fuel, including biofuel, or the rapid globalization and corporatization of agriculture that is causing shortages, skyrocketing prices and food riots around the world. It's those pesky hungry people out there. Thank Gawd we all had Mr. Bush to represent our interests on this."
dopper0189 took a different view asking and answer the question, Is Ethanol Getting a Bum Rap? It's stagflation stupid!,: "I believe our ethanol supply should come from Sugar Beets not corn. Never the less, a talking point has become conventional wisdom that ethanol from corn is the major cause of rising food prices. It's not true argues Businessweek! Corn-based fuel isn't the villain critics contend. This crisis is much deeper then this."
Code Breaker had yet another, acerbic, take in Bush to world citizens: Blame India not Biofuel for food prices.: "Excuse the F*ck out of me? People wanting to eat healthy bad?"
And sabianq wrote in the Diary Free Diesel Fuel, More Food, and Less Gas Consumption: "The biggest argument I hear about bio-fuels is that the corn we grow for biofuel isn't the stuff we eat anyway. What Idiot came up with that reasoning? As far as i can tell, if i am a farmer and grow plants for fuel, then, i am not using my land to grow plants we can eat. to me, it is a land usage problem and not a "but we don't eat that plant anyway" problem. But that is not the real issue. first, it takes (with current technology) more energy to make 1 gallon of corn based ethanol than that gallon of corn based ethanol can yield."
tmservo433 provided the basic on Enviro-Friendly Lawn Care: "But over the past several decades, lawncare has turned into a barrage of chemicals, gas use, poisons, pellets, sticks, costly methods, rain run offs and more machinery then you can shake a stick at (and later, I'll talk about how shaking a stick can work out). ... I'm sure there are plenty of gardeners here who will have better tips then I, but a few I'd like to recommend."
Phoenix Woman peeked behind the curtain of Urban Agrarianism: The New Wave?: "I see some people (cough*Kunstler*cough) advocating killing off the cities and making everyone live in small towns. But really, unless all of those small towns have wind and/or solar or geothermal or hydro or methane power, they're going to have a bigger overall footprint -- carbon, physical, you name it -- than the same amount of people congregated into the smaller overall area of the cities. A more workable option is one being pioneered by the city of Youngstown, Ohio. ... For decades, the city frantically tried everything it could think of to gain back its lost population. Then, a few years ago, some of the city fathers and mothers realized that, since they weren't going to get bigger, why not try to live within their means as a city? The concept is called "Plan 2010", and it's already making news as other cities in similar situations flock to study it."
dsnodgrass took on the food giant we all love to hate in They Stood Up to Monsanto and Won: "Recently, the residents of Montville, a small community located in Maine, became the first town outside of California to ban the cultivation of genetically engineered crops. To do so, they had to take on the deep pockets and misguided motivations of corporations such as Monsanto, the Halliburton of the farming industry."
Scaredhuman compared Industrial agriculture versus Organic: "Farming is the heart of every country. Corporate agriculture - INDUSTRIAL agriculture - is destroying it worldwide. Notice that after the vaunted ‘Green Revolution’ and the much ballyhooed ‘biotech’ solutions to food problems: the earth is swimming in 6-10 more pesticides than before GMOs, fishing stocks are failing because of run-off into oceans, prices on commodities are sky-rocketing, people are not seeing the great promised yields that were allegedly proposed to solve hunger."
Asinus Asinum Fricat provided the week’s World Food News Roundup: "Wheat Crop Failures Could be Total, Experts Warn: On top of record-breaking rice prices and corn through the roof on ethanol demand, wheat is now rusting in the fields across Africa. Officials fear near total crop losses, and the fungus, known as Ug99, is spreading. Wheat prices have been soaring this week on top of already high prices, and futures contracts spiked, too, on panic buying. Experts fear the cost of bread could soon follow the path of rice, the price of which has triggered riots in some countries and prompted countries to cut off exports."
dsnodgrass discussed how certain forces are Orchestrating Famine: A Must-Read Food Crisis Backgrounder: "The era of cheap food is over -- this means disaster for millions, and mega-profits for a few. How did we get into this mess?"
Translator taught us a history lesson in Fun with Nature, Who likes Vanilla? V?: "Until just over one hundred years ago, vanilla was extremely rare, because the orchids that produce it were scarce, and those that were around could only be pollinated naturally. One researcher ... devised an artificial method of pollination, and the industry took off in a huge manner. Now vanilla, or synthetic derivatives, are everywhere. ... The Spaniards did a good job wiping out the Aztecs, but they preserved vanilla."
And also gave us a what-the-heck? bit of news to ponder in Admin Takes Beef Packer to Court over Too Much BSE Testing: "Always a tool for big business, the administration is in court today arguing that the Creekstone Farms Premium Beef company’s practice of screening all of its beef carcasses for BSE (Mad Cow Disease) should be prohibited."
jazzence advised on why and How to start a community garden: "Many families living in the city would like to grow some of their own fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers. Some want to save money on their food bills. Others like the freshness, flavor and wholesomeness of homegrown produce. And for many, gardening is a relaxing way to exercise and enjoy being out-of-doors. There are also families from other cultures who would like to grow traditional foods not available in the supermarket."
Frankenoid added fauna to her flora this week in her Saturday Morning Garden Blogging Vol. 4.12 with a photo of Arwen the Terrible: "We've had a wickedly wet, windy week here in Denver — well, not really, but I like the alliteration."
The deniers keep having more and more to explain away, as boran2 pointed out in Rising Temperatures In World's Largest Lake: "Rising temperatures in the world's largest and oldest lake, Lake Baikal in Siberia, provide further and dramatic evidence of global warming. Large enough to contain all the water in the Great Lakes and holding some 20% of the world's fresh water, Lake Baikal was expected to withstand rising temperatures by virtue of its sheer size and location. The scientists conclude that the lake now joins other large lakes, including Lake Superior, Lake Tanganyika and Lake Tahoe, in showing warming trends. ‘But,’ they note, ‘temperature changes in Lake Baikal are particularly significant as a signal of long-term regional warming."
Max and the Marginalized reported on how companies are doing in the global warming department with his Diary, Non-primary department: New corporate climate change scores out today.: "NYT informed that the new scores are up from Climate Counts, one of the more interesting NPOs that I know of. They track companies’ commitment to climate change based on a whole host of criteria with an emphasis on emissions reductions and corporate support for legislation to help curb global warming, and pays little attention to greenwashing efforts that put a green candy shell on a piece of damaging-in-the-manufacturing-sector chocolate. They released their scores for 2008 today, and the 3% of my brain not devoted to the Democratic primary found a lot of interesting stuff in it. Scores are on a scale of 0-100."
agnostic wrote GLOBAL CLIMATIC CHANGE, or, whither weather: "For the second time this week, terrific storms have hit the mid, central and southeastern states of the US. People in South East Europe are still reeling from the worst droughts in their histories. The Sahara is growing at an accelerating pace. Burma ... has a million people displaced, unable to even bury their 50-100,000 dead."
A smile and a half made the rounds courtesy of A Siegel in One hand clapping ...: "The latest news suggests that the Lieberman-Warner Coal Subsidy Act (theClimate InSecurity Act, CISA) has moved from critical condition to the morgue. As it will require 60 votes to get past any threatened filibuster (not that the Senate Democratic Party leadership could force a filibuster on anyone other than their own Senators fighting for Americans' privacy rights), corralling enough Senators to vote for even the CISA's inadequate measures looks to be an impossible task."
He also pointed out that Deniers Descending to Outright Deceit: "Global Warming Deniers (and their extreme right-wing enablers) are showing their desperation. Rather than continue with simply confusing people with distortion of data (lies, damn lies, statistics, and statistics from Global Warming deniers), we have before us a case of deliberate doctoring of evidence to distort events."
As part of the popular Overnight News Digest Chaoslillith put together some linked eco-excerpts in Sunday OND, Green Goodness: "Hmm letting beavers build dams to help preserve water. NO, no way nature had that figured out eons ago... In the Southwest U.S., biologists are talking about returning beavers to rivers they once inhabited in order to fight droughts — which are expected to get worse as the globe warms. Beaver dams create great sponges that store lots of water."
JohnnyRook gave us EcoNoticiario #5; Drought, Energy Costs and Climaticide in the Spanish and LA Press: "Your environmental word of the week: sequía-drought. El Mercurio, Santiago de Chile: State of Agricultural Emergency declared in Two Thirds of the Country's Counties due to drought. From January through today, the government has declared 223 counties, out of a total of 346, to be in this condition."
PUBLIC LAND & WATER
Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse provided us with the good new that Indian Tribes Win Biggy Eco/Sacred Mountains Case: "The heart of this case is the deposit of treated sewage effluent on the sacred lands of the Peaks. While this case was pending, many Christians could not understand why tribes objected to the dumping of sewage effluent on the Peaks. The court addressed this issue, providing a clue on its ultimate ruling: The record in this case establishes the religious importance of the Peaks to the Appellant tribes who live around it. From time immemorial, they have relied on the Peaks, and the purity of the Peaks' water, as an integral part of their religious beliefs. The Forest Service and the Snowbowl now propose to put treated sewage effluent on the Peaks. To get some sense of equivalence, it may be useful to imagine the effect on Christian beliefs and practices -- and the imposition that Christians would experience -- if the government were to require that baptisms be carried out with ‘reclaimed water.’
"I'm suspicious," wrote environmentalist of a plan for Oil and Gas to Fund NM Archaeology?: "Under the new agreement, oil and gas developers who participate in the voluntary program will not have to pay for a survey but they will be required to pay a special fee that will go toward excavation and other research. The BLM expects to raise about $1 million a year."
Asinus Asinum Fricat warned of Water: the Incoming Apocalypse: "Oil, of course, still dominates world economics and politics. But some day in the not so distant future, with peak oil, alternative fuels and other clean technologies, combined with the rising costs of extracting oil, will diminish petroleum's influence once and for all. Water will be the next oil. ... Well, insanity has caught up to reality. Water privatization is upon us, and unless we act, fast, you will be paying through the nose for every liter of water."
Once again, the gasoline tax was on a lot of minds.
Michael Shellenberger argued that the Gax Tax Controversy Is Red Flag for Dems: "While the call by Hillary Clinton and John McCain to suspend the gasoline tax is unquestionably a crass pander to working-class swing voters more concerned about rising energy prices than global warming, it is also a warning to Democrats that dealing with global warming by raising energy prices is not a sustainable political strategy."
Jerome a Paris braved the inevitable comment storm with Gas Tax: it's still time to increase it: "I argued on this website for an increase in the gas tax 3 years ago. I tried again 2 years ago. Following vigorous opposition by a number of kossacks, the concept was dropped from Energize America as being politically deadly. I note now that the gas tax holiday is being properly blasted on this site as the insane idea it is. In that context, could we go one step further and actually suggest that increasing the gas tax makes a lot of sense?"
Chiming in on the same subject, terrypinder asked Federal Gas Tax: Is it REALLY time to increase it?: "Why I'd support it on Paper ... Why I don't support it in the Real World."
CarmenT does support it in the real world, as she wrote in RAISING the gas tax would SAVE you money: "1) Raising gas taxes would accelerate the trend towards buying more fuel efficient cars: 2) Demand for more better cars would put pressure on vehicle manufacturers to use technologies developed in the 21st century. 3) More short term gas tax revenue means higher investment in transportation infrastructure. 4) Lower gas consumption means less demand for oil and hence less dependence on foreign oil. 5) The falling dollar."
Gas Tax Holiday saves families $70? A lie or a mistake? was ThatPoshGirl’s rhetorical question: "Senator Clinton has repeatedly stated that the Clinton/McCain ‘Gas tax Holiday’ will save the average family $70. Besides the general interest in gas prices among voters, Clinton has been increasingly drawing the line distinguishing her from her opponent along the contours of the gas-tax debate. ‘If you look at the record profits at the oil companies, they sure can afford to pay the gas tax for you, which will save the average family $70 over the summer,’ she told the Indiana Tech audience. ‘So you know there’s a big difference between us.’ ... Where could this number possibly come from?"
Vyan answered the buzz about how Obama Voted for the Gas Tax Holiday in Illinois:
MR. RUSSERT: Why are you against giving taxpayers in Indiana, North Carolina, a relief from federal gasoline tax this summer?
SEN. OBAMA: You're right, Tim, this defines, I think, the difference between myself and Senator Clinton. This gas tax, which was first proposed by John McCain and then quickly adopted by Senator Clinton, is a classic Washington gimmick. It, it is a political response to a serious problem that we have neglected for decades. Now, here's, here's the upshot. You're looking at suspending a gas tax for three months. The average driver would save 30 cents per day for a grand total of $28. That's assuming that the oil companies don't step in and raise prices by the same amount that the tax has been reduced. And, by the way, I have some experience on this because in Illinois we tried this when I was in the state legislature, and that's exactly what happened. The oil companies, the retailers were the ones who ended up benefiting.
MR. RUSSERT: You voted for it, too.
SEN. OBAMA: I did. Exactly. And that...
MR. RUSSERT: When gas was only $2 a gallon.
SEN. OBAMA: And, and that's my point. I voted for it, and then six months later we took a look, and consumers had not benefited at all, but we had lost revenue.
MR. RUSSERT: So you learned from a wrong vote.
SEN. OBAMA: Yeah, I learned from a mistake.
WattHead also praised the Senator for this move in Barack Obama Shows Off His Energy Smarts on Gas Tax Holiday: While his opponent pandered for votes with empty promises of $30.00 in cash, Barack Obama, to his very strong credit, took the Energy Smart position and called the gas tax holiday proposal what it is: ‘a pander,’ a cheap trick to buy your vote. ... I also think Obama deserves credit for openly stating he'd learned from a past mistake: Obama voted for a gas tax holiday in Illinois when he was a state senator and now openly acknowledges that was a mistake. The gas tax holiday was a failed policy in Illinois, and it'll be a failed policy for America."
"Huffington Post and Salon.com are citing a study on the Illinois Gas Tax Holiday Obama supported as a state legislator apparently showing that consumers did benefit" which prompted mikelow to write So the gas tax holiday isn't pointless, just inefficient: "But reading past the headline, there is still cause for skepticism."
kloris checked out a poll on the subject in 70% Of Voters Think Gas Tax Holiday Only Helps Politicians: "If you believe today's NY Times poll, voters are seeing through the gas tax holiday pander: 72% of Democrats and 70% of all voters think the Clinton/McCain gas tax holiday was proposed to help the politician who proposed it (only 21% thought it would help ‘average Americans’). The only remaining question is whether their understanding that they're being pandered to hurts or helps the politician doing the pandering ..."
Red Wind rejected the tax holiday as A Gimmick Too Stupid to Die: "The 2006 Republican plans were an attempt to co-opt a pair of Democratic proposals. One was a similar gas-tax suspension offered by New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez; the other a $500 rebate plan offered by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). Senator Menendez, a 2008 Clinton backer, came out last week in favor of her current gas-tax proposal. The problem is, the plan for a tax holiday isn’t a good idea no matter which party proposes it, and it is no better or more serious a plan in 2008 than it was in 2006."
Moxie Gurl linked us to Hillary's New Gas Ad!!!
Pluto Running on Empty - Oil Hits $120 - Obama's Gas Tax Dilemma: "Now, I'm pretty sure that you agree with Obama (and me) that the so-called ‘gas tax holiday’ does not make fiscal sense. In fact, the amount of highway revenue that we would lose is enough to build 45 ‘bridges to nowhere.’ However, the American people will never, in a million years, want to pay this tax if they don't have to. Being against this ... at this time, is a political blunder. Let me tell you why: At this very moment, both Senator McCain and Senator Clinton have current legislation in the Senate to approve a ‘Fuel Tax Holiday’ and Senator Obama is going to be forced to vote against both bills."
In a similar vein, Gary Norton told us what he thinks is The Worst Aspect Of The Gas Tax Holiday: "Ever since McCain and Clinton proposed and Obama opposed a Gas Tax Holiday, a proposal to repeal the 18.4 cent Federal tax on gasoline for the summer months, there has been near universal condemnation of the idea from a policy standpoint. There is another aspect though that is arguably worse. If enacted, the "holiday" would become a political football in the general election and runs the risk of becoming a permanent vacation."