Archive for the ‘Ecology’ Category
Happy New Year, Widdershins! I hope the holidays were good to you. I think we did get a nice collective present when Obama only partially caved on taxing the wealthy, and staved off some of the worst aspects of the fiscal cliff. I know that “progressives” are livid that the tax raise only went to those who were making $400,000 or more as individuals and $450,000 as a family, but I am pleasantly surprised that he finally did what he had been promising since 2008. Admittedly, it was in a half-assed Barackian way, but what else would you ever expect from him?
I said a while back that I would tell you who my top activists were in the year that is now past. Unlike most politicians, I do keep my promises. Without further ado, here they are!
Top activists of 2012: Environmentalists.
Whether it was stopping the XL Pipeline from being built, getting even the World Bank to understand the urgency of global warming, or fighting fracking in New York, environmentalists truly made an impact in 2012. Congratulations, you tree-hugging, chardonnay-sipping commie pinko hippies! You have my respect, admiration, and encouragement for 2013, when you start pressuring Obama to lead on this issue.
After mixed results in Obama’s first four years, environmental groups appear to have come to the conclusion they need to be more vocal about demanding action from the White House, to keep climate change from slipping off the president’s second term agenda.
The letter urged Obama to set new pollution controls for existing power plants. A report released last month by the Natural Resources Defense Council set out a plan for cutting carbon emissions from power plants 26% by the end of the decade.
The open letter also pressed Obama to put a stop to the Keystone XL pipeline project, designed to pump crude from the Alberta tar sands to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast.
Obama put a hold on final approval of the pipeline early last year, but industry and environmental groups expect a decision early in his second term.
“We should not pursue dirty fuels like tar sands,” the open letter said. “The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is not in our national interest because it would unlock vast amounts of additional carbon that we can’t afford to burn.”
Many of us have weighed in about the holidays and how we feel various degrees of excitement or “bah humbug” about them. Well, count me in on the thankfulness side, because I feel like this has been a banner year for activism!
I’ll do more of a summary before the New Year, but let me just use one example: Fracking in New York has been stopped again! Our water is safe for now.
New York started 2012 promising to open vast areas of countryside in five Southern Tier counties to industrial gas drilling. In the face of unprecedented opposition—including a record 66,000 comments sent by people like you—New York ended the year in retreat. Fracking regulations for the Delaware River Basin were not finalized and New York has agreed to review fracking’s impact on public health, a key Riverkeeper concern.
There’s a lot going on with fracking. Matt Damon is making a movie about it that is freaking frackers out.
The premiere of a Hollywood film featuring hydraulic fracturing is months away, but the energy industry already is preparing for battle.
“Promised Land” stars Matt Damon as a gas-company salesman trying to lease natural-gas drilling rights in rural Pennsylvania, where fracking has become a widespread, though sometimes controversial, technique to release natural gas from shale deposits.
Worried that the movie will portray fracking in a negative light, the [energy] industry is working up responses that it says could include bombarding film reviewers with scientific studies, distributing leaflets to moviegoers and mounting a “truth-squad” effort on Twitter and FaceBook.
“We’ve been surprised at the emergence of what looks like a concerted campaign targeting the film even before anyone’s seen it,” said James Schamus, chief executive of Focus Features, a unit of Comcast Corp.’s Universal that produced and will distribute “Promised Land” in collaboration with Participant Media LLC. The film was written by Mr. Damon and actor John Krasinski and directed by Gus Van Sant.
Mr. Schamus might find it surprising that the oil and gas industry would be so threatened by the movie, but I don’t. Given the fact that it has spent untold millions (perhaps billions) on obscuring the very real and toxic effects of consuming and creating oil and gas products, it seems to me that the oil and gas industry’s actions are quite predictable. The bullies are back in action, trying to stay in business just long enough to enjoy their private islands in the Caribbean before they’re washed away by rising ocean levels.
After the devastation of Superstorm Sandy, the issue of climate change is being raised anew. Now, I’m not a huge fan of many of the things the German government does (Austerity being one of them). But ya know, they sure seem to have the political will to deal with the undeniable reality of climate change.
Since 2000, Germany has converted 25 percent of its power grid to renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and biomass. The architects of the clean energy movement Energiewende, which translates to “energy transformation,” estimate that from 80 percent to 100 percent of Germany’s electricity will come from renewable sources by 2050.
Germans are baffled that the United States has not taken the same path. Not only is the U.S. the wealthiest nation in the world, but it’s also credited with jump-starting Germany’s green movement 40 years ago.
“This is a very American idea,” Arne Jungjohann, a director at the Heinrich Boll Stiftung Foundation (HBSF), said at a press conference Tuesday morning in Washington, D.C. “We got this from Jimmy Carter.”
Poor, naive Germans! They don’t understand that Ronald Raygun was saving America when he ripped Jimmeh’s Commie pinko solar panels off the White House. Anyway, Lee Atwater told me that the Soviets were using those things to spy on the President! ZOMG!!!111!!!!
Somehow, they also must have avoided the floods of dark money that have propagandized the American people into doubting the very real, and obviously man-made, price of our addiction to petrochemicals. Must be nice to live in a place where corporations aren’t people. In fact, people end up producing their own energy – and getting paid for it.
In the end, ratepayers control the program, not the government. This adds consistency, Davidson says. If the government itself paid, it would be easy for a new finance minister to cut the program upon taking office. Funding is not at the whim of politicians as it is in the U.S.
“Everyone has skin in the game,” says writer Osha Gray Davidson. “The movement is decentralized and democratized, and that’s why it works. Anybody in Germany can be a utility.”
THIS being…well this:
It is totally unacceptable at least to me and the Louisiana Bucket Brigade that this number of “accidents” occurred during Tropical Storm/Hurricane Isaac. These industries; oil and gas, chemical and the like are “long-term residents” of Louisiana and the Gulf Coast. They are not unfamiliar with hurricanes and tropical storms and they know how to prepare for their effects. There were at least 93 “incidents” during the storm according to the Bucket Brigade. Of those incidents Jill Mastrototero had this to say:
The 93 industry accidents that have been reported to the Coast Guard’s National Response Center demonstrates that we have lax enforcement by regulators and self-regulation by industries just doesn’t work,” she said. “Industries need to make real investments in equipment, in planning, in training their workers to prevent and respond to future actions.” Jill also stated:
“Its completely shameful and irresponsible and inexcusable that seven years after Katrina and Rita, the lessons of those storms, the lessons we were taught by the BP oil disaster, that we have industry’s continued business-as-usual approach to showcase the fact that their inaction and their ill preparedness has proven to be dangerous and deadly and unacceptable to the health of our communities, our families and our workers…”
Jill mentioned the lessons (supposedly learned) from the BP Macondo oil spill and guess what reared its ugly head once again? Oil from the BP spill in the form of tar balls.
Laboratory tests show that globs of oil found on two Louisiana beaches after Hurricane Isaac came from the 2010 BP spill. Tests run by Louisiana State University for state wildlife officials confirmed that oil found on Elmer’s Island and Grand Isle matched the biological fingerprint of the hundreds of millions of gallons of oil that spewed from BP’s Macondo well.
Ed Overton, the LSU chemist who did the state tests, said the oil found on Elmer’s Island had not degraded much while oil at Grand Isle had.
“Both were good solid matches on Macondo oil,” Overton said.
Experts expected that hurricane waves would stir up oil buried along the Gulf Coast and that Isaac, which made landfall on Aug. 28 and soaked the region in the days afterward, apparently did just that. Reports of tar balls washing up on beaches after the storm were reported in Alabama and Louisiana, two states that got hit hard by BP’s massive offshore oil spill.
Mr. Overton, the chemist from LSU says that more oil is likely buried along the Gulf Coast beaches perhaps buried as deep as three feet. I’m glad that oil apparently has a DNA of its own which can be identified. We can just add this to the bills that BP is going to have to pay. Of course BP, being a good corporate citizen chose to look at the brighter side of things:
“If there’s something good about this storm, it made it visible where we can clean it up,” BP spokesman Ray Melick said.
And to think, they pay the man to utter words like that.
Going back to the current pollution incidents, the Louisiana Dept. of Environmental Quality – DEQ (a misnomer if ever there was one) said:
“The impact to human health and the environment has been minimal, especially considering the size and duration of the storm,” the statement said.
Sure, that’s right. Except that one refinery in Chalmette (Fredster’s home town) had releases of:
277 tons of sulfur dioxide, 1,200 pounds of hydrogen sulfide and 100 pounds of benzene at Chalmette Refining in St. Bernard.
That’s correct: Benzene. It is used in oil refining and it is a known carcinogen. But the DEQ says it was just a little tiny bit and its impact on us humans “has been minimal”. Uh-huh. Chalmette Refining will have to file an incident report with the E.P.A. and or the National Response Center and that report will probably state that the release was unavoidable due to power outages or something similar even though these industries had weeks to follow Mr. Isaac on his trek across the Atlantic and into the Gulf; plenty of time to have prepared for it.
I think one of the saddest things I saw was this:
As the gentleman said in the video, this is our state bird. Perhaps we should change it to an image of an oiled pelican.
This is an open thread.
The “who said it better” crowd of pundits and talking heads fighting it out to lay claim to “their guy” beating the pants off the other one belies the facts.
Romney’s “bounce” apparently earned him a big one pointer whereas Obama’s is said to have racked up a meager 3. What does this tell us?
It might tell us that most of the nation is “campaign weary”. Each election cycle seems to last forever offering nothing but buckets of hot air, lies, distortions, and just plain foolishness masked as political dialogue. The GOP managed a few laughs along the way when considering the likes of Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, and Herman Cain as future POTUS. In the end the selection boiled down to one of the most disingenuous, lackluster, flip flopping, candidates ever to emerge as their standard bearer.
The Dems found themselves “stuck” as well. Disenchanted with their current title holder, their suspicions that perhaps this guy could not be wholly trusted to stand firm was seen willing to “cave in” to the crazies in the spirit of “compromise”. “Catfood Commission” anyone?
What is at stake in November is not the candidate as much as what we regard as our way of life. One side is eager to dismantle every social contract that binds government to its people.
The other side is declares their willingness to “fight” against these proposals. The question remains: who do we trust to stand up for us?
Still mired in a bloody conflict in Afghanistan, still dependent upon foreign oil, still subsidizing that same industry raking in billions, still waiting hat in hand for the banks to loosen its grip, still bogged down with high unemployment numbers, still arguing over the right to privacy, still expecting some measure of accountability from those who f*cked up in the first place, the nation itself is at the mercy of a handful of politicians whose appeal is less than inspiring.
These politicians refer to us as lazy, slutty, fools, and whiners. We “leech off the tit of government”. We sit around in hammocks waiting for the mailman to deliver our unemployment checks. We are failures. We are mocked, ridiculed, vilified and demeaned for wanting to stand up to power. Women victims of rape are consdidered “blessed”. We are treated as faceless numbers until that 4 year cycle of proposed “change” rolls around but shelved during the interim as if we don’t count for much.
Treated to a few days of soaring rhetoric and lame speeches that mean absolutely nothing in the real world, these supposed “leaders” offer up the usual piles of smelly manure with promises that will never be fulfilled. No wonder the “bounce” becomes a “thud” when the stage is dismantled and the confetti is swept away.
I’ve had it with the Tea Party crazies, the racist rants, “U.S.A., U.S.A.” chants, the birthers, the “job creators”, the woman haters, the budget cutters, the anti unionists, the voter suppressors, the privatizers, Citizens United, the rape redefiners, and the wealthy apologizers.
I’m sick of listening to liars pretending to care about education while making cuts to the education budget. I’m incensed listening to claims that cutting back on healthcare access will make this nation strong. I’m exhausted listening to idiots proposing to turn the environment into one big strip mall as a means of creating jobs. I’m weary with those who prefer fantasy over facts when it comes to climate change. I’m disgusted by those who declare they are implementing “god’s will” into a secular society to punish “god’s children” in making discrimination the law of the land.
The anticipated “bounce” that never happened tells us that the majority of the nation has had it when it comes to any more of the abuse.
And that was never more evident when a “reality show” as dimwitted and offensive as “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo!” led in the ratings game during the speeches outlining their future vision.
The public at large “gets it”. We don’t care whose husband is more “loving”. Or whose ancestors were more “determined”. Or whose life story compares with Huck Finn.
When they turn their backs on us it is only expected that we do the same in return.
“Honey Boo Boo” may be a piece of garbage by any cultural standard but it doesn’t pretend to be otherwise.
There’s a lesson there somewhere that both parties would be wise to discover in seeking that elusive “bounce”. Otherwise they may discover that they too are “on their own”.