Saturday, June 30, 2007

River Friend

he River Needs a Friend

I ache to swim but every time I go back I get sick. I go anyway. As long as the water is there I will adapt. I get off a plane in a dark mood. Brigid Shea is on the airport television talking about Save Our Springs. I love Austin. Shudde Fath has found the names of everyone who spoke at the Barton Springs Revolution, an all-night city council hearing on June 7, 1990 to stop development on the aquifer. Tonight’s the ten-year anniversary. There’s an award ceremony in an hour. I’ll be late. It was a decade of hearings, demonstrations, hard work — Earth First, Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Save Our Springs Alliance, Save Barton Creek Association, the Audubon Society, neighborhood associations, civic groups, people of all ages gathered into a movement. Our victories were short lived. There were ordinances and elections, hard won but eventually discouraging. We began to fight among ourselves. Developers bought votes, legislative committees, agencies, environmental groups, sold their projects and moved on. When I go back to the Midwest, I appreciate the necessity of what we’ve tried to do here, even though it hasn’t really worked, even though the water quality is terrible compared to what it was ten years ago. My hometown on Lake Michigan has three Superfund clean-up sites. There is a mountain of asbestos on the lake, a tannery next to an old electric plant that periodically spews out PCBs, a jet fuel dump that leaches poison into the largest inland water system in the world. Threadgills fills up with people I am proud to know. Eddie Wilson is feeding Austin activists again. Bill Oliver arrives to sing the songs that make us love him, tight lyrics, environmental sense, satire. He’s come from a service for Glen Allyn who was killed with his daughter in a car wreck. In 1968 Bill and Glen floated down the Mississippi River on a raft. Glen stepped ashore to call home and found out he’d been drafted. Bill is late, the crowd has thinned. His energy is vibrant and professional, funny and good because that is how we do it here. You go from personal loss back to the movement. The work goes on. If we keep singing, if we keep working, our hearts won’t break. An official who was one of us at the Barton Springs Revolution is fighting with a eco-activist who has (or hasn’t) threatened to throw a pie in someone’s face. I try to make peace between them. It is a mistake. I’ve been out of touch and don’t know who is right. There are disputes here, but also a common focus. Bill is singing, which makes me cry because I know the raw necessity it comes from. He is singing The River Needs a Friend.

©Susan Bright, 2000. From Breathing Under Water.
* Photo by Laurie Williams Wajima.

Wake Skating at Barton Springs (anothenATX)

Underwater at Barton Springs a decade ago (BartSprings)

Susan Bright is the author of nineteen books of poetry. She is the editor of Plain View Press which since 1975 has published one-hundred-and-fifty books. Her work as a poet, publisher, activist and educator has taken her all over the United States and abroad. Her most recent book, The Layers of Our Seeing, is a collection of poetry, photographs and essays about peace done in collaboration with photographer Alan Pogue and Middle Eastern journalist, Muna Hamzeh.

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Friday, June 29, 2007

Floods and PUDs


There's about to be a new PUD in town. If you don't live in my hometown, you may not know a PUD is a Planed Unit Development. Developers like these because get to bypass local use restrictions for some reason which has never been clear to me.

Beautifully named and grotesquely ill-conceived, Wildflower Commons is a proposed development at the intersection of SH 45 and MOPAC which needs zoning changes, a new PUD from the City and exemption from TxDot road restructions which the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District (BSEACD) controls.

The project will sit on top of one of the most fragile aquifers in the country, and on the Barton Springs Recharge Zone. The developer, Bill "Scooter" Walters has offered BSEACD a 49 acre tract across road so they can build a new office park. They would need 2 acres of the land for offices. The local land conservancy, the Hill Country Conservancy would get the rest. BSEACD would, of course, build green and carefully. They would also be part of the proposed PUD, helping it get thru city hoops, and BSEACD is the agency with the right to exempt (itself) and Wildflower Commons from the road restrictions which protect the whole recharge zone from development. Why, you ask, would a water conservation agency build it's offices (causing pollution) on the aquifer it's supposed to protect?

Local readers can learn more about this on the SOS website. You can write to BSEACD asking them not to accept this "gift" which will further pollute the aquifer.

Kudos to Austin Energy (and OZ) for the MSNBC designation of Austin as America's #1 Green City, a credit based on the plug-in hybird cars program, and the Public Utility's green energy programs. We have a long way to go on water issues.

Floods this week (the San Gabriel River in Georgetown rose 25 feet in fifteen minutes) and a short spot I watched on the Local Access City Council channel of Austin's Mayor saying he lives in a Flood Proof high rise exactly where the Memorial Day flood of 1981 deposited 30 feet of water underline the point — we have a long way to go on water issues.

(The Memorial Day Flood, 1981)

All of it. The Steinway Grand Piano floating down 6th Street to the river, a man on water skis rescuing people off the tops of traffic lights, the water dragon that flew out of Shoal Creek starting a stampede of brocade furniture, needlepoint drapes, footstools, recliner rocking chairs, china cabinets, bedroom sets, lampshades, Toyotas stacked up in the creek, jammed between velvet swivel chairs and electric organs, clarinet reeds, whole wheat noodles, Red Star nutritional yeast, vitamins, herbs, coffee beans, organic carrots, short-grained brown rice, yogurt covered walnuts, a Volkswagen diving through a convenience store window, three blocks of downtown Austin buried under 30 feet of water. Where did it come from? A travel agency dumped out, Xerox copies of vacation reservations, electric guitars, Dodge vans, barbecue buns soaked through and buried under 2 feet of mud, the Red River Women’s Press printing equipment under a great lump of creek silt, typesetting machine squished through with slop, the best restaurant in town for health food lunches jangled up and clumped together with a bug exterminator across the street, pieces overlapping. All of it. The work of a few hours when Shoal Creek exploded breaking three blocks of showcase windows, leaving jagged edges of glass gleaming under humid sun at noon the next day, leaving people digging out, finding bodies locked in cars, in the tops of trees, not finding bodies, leaving no flood insurance upstream where a mile of houses was destroyed, complete loss, people glad to be alive. There was no warning. Where did it come from? All of it, streets turned to rivers, homes turned to underwater caves. Where did it come from?

It came from the growth corridor, set down by an Idiot, on the Shoal Creek watershed. For a decade trailer rigs churning 80 mph into town at night, when no one was looking, folded out hydraulic lifts, jacked up and wheeled out churches with people praying inside, wheeled out shopping centers with neon flashing blue light specials, wheeled out whole communities with community centers and voting precincts, wheeled out schools with children playing at recess, wheeled out boutiques, wheeled out car dealerships, drug stores, discount centers, supermarkets, pizza parlors, fried chicken, motels, wheeled out fire hydrants and wide paved streets, driveways, parking lots, pavement for rollerskating, driving, parking, pavement for playing tennis, wheeled out flags on the 4th of July, wheeled out 2.5 cars per family unit, motor boats and electronic games, wheeled out animal shelters and carnivals. All of it, over night, wheeled out of the Idiot, a gigantic trailer rig full of urban sprawl that pulled up and dumped out a million-faceted vision of itself on the watershed of Shoal Creek so that the work of a bad storm had no place else to go but down, down across slick pavement, run-off plunging down in a great gash pushing 30 feet of water into downtown Austin. They call it the Memorial Day Flood, but its name is IDIOT.

For example, at a city Planning Commission hearing 2 weeks after the great flood, mud still gleaming in summer heat all over town, bodies still being recovered from swamps and the river bottom, a developer wanted to set an 8 story apartment complex down on the top of 2 creek beds north of town. When asked what he was going to do about the creeks he said, We’re goin’ ta move ‘em.

© 1981, Susan Bright, from Atomic Basket (out of print)

Flash Flood Alley
here are some clips from the award winning film about flood potential in Central Texas.

* (PICA OBD484-A, Austin History Center)
The flood of 1935 (June 15) was one of three major floods to hit the area in the 1930's. Austin was hit with 22 inches of rain in three hours. Between 2,500 and 3,000 residents in East Austin (near present-day IH-35 and the river bank) were left virtually homeless after the waters receded. A Statesman article described the situation: "Sloppy silt was deposited to a depth of from six to 18 inches on the floors, over furniture, bed clothing and in fact everything that the glue-like mud could fasten itself upon, and only the most rugged articles of furniture could be salvaged. South Congress Avenue between Barton Springs Road and the Texas School for the Deaf was a crumpled mass of ruins, the street being littered with broken sewer lines torn from business buildings that once stood in the area, broken concrete, twisted water pipes, signs, trees, timbers, structural steel, a number of the new concrete lamp posts erected a month ago by the city and other debris. The street, the pride of Austin and of the state highway department presented a wretched scene. The Montopolis and Marble Falls bridges were also both destroyed..

Susan Bright is the author of nineteen books of poetry. She is the editor of Plain View Press which since 1975 has published one-hundred-and-fifty books. Her work as a poet, publisher, activist and educator has taken her all over the United States and abroad. Her most recent book, The Layers of Our Seeing, is a collection of poetry, photographs and essays about peace done in collaboration with photographer Alan Pogue and Middle Eastern journalist, Muna Hamzeh.

The Plain View Press e-store is now online.


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Thursday, June 28, 2007

100 Years of Science

Now that the science of climate change is becoming more and more understood, and those who choose to ignore it for political and perhaps psychological reasons become more and more angry, all the while more convinced that it is a hoax perpetrated by their imagined enemies, it is useful to look back and see why science didn't see this coming.

In fact, some scientists did see it coming over 100 years ago.

Here is a part of story by Spencer Weart from Real Climate. I've edited it quite a lot.

"Some people have been arguing that simple physics shows there is already so much CO2 in the air that its effect on infrared radiation is "saturated"— meaning that adding more gas can make scarcely any difference in how much radiation gets through the atmosphere, since all the radiation is already blocked.

And besides, isn't water vapor already blocking all the infrared rays that CO2 ever would?

The arguments do sound good, so good that in fact they helped to suppress research on the greenhouse effect for half a century.

In 1900, shortly after Svante Arrhenius published his pathbreaking argument that our use of fossil fuels will eventually warm the planet, another scientist, Knut Ångström, asked an assistant, Herr J. Koch, to do a simple experiment.

He sent infrared radiation through a tube filled with carbon dioxide, containing somewhat less gas in total then would be found in a column of air reaching to the top of the atmosphere. That's not much, since the concentration in air is only a few hundred parts per million(390). Herr Koch did his experiments in a 30cm long tube, though 250cm would have been closer to the right length to use to represent the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Herr Koch reported that when he cut the amount of gas in the tube by one-third, the amount of radiation that got through scarcely changed.

The American meteorological community was alerted to Ångström's result in a commentary appearing in the June, 1901 issue of Monthly Weather Review, which used the result to caution "geologists" against adhering to Arrhenius' wild ideas.

Still more persuasive to scientists of the day was the fact that water vapor, which is far more abundant in the air than carbon dioxide, also intercepts infrared radiation.

In the infrared spectrum, the main bands where each gas blocked radiation overlapped one another. How could adding CO2 affect radiation in bands of the spectrum that H2O (not to mention CO2 itself) already made opaque?

As these ideas spread, even scientists who had been enthusiastic about Arrhenius's work decided it was in error. Work on the question stagnated. If there was ever an "establishment" view about the greenhouse effect, it was confidence that the CO2 emitted by humans could not affect anything so grand as the Earth's climate.

Nobody was interested in thinking about the matter deeply enough to notice the flaw in the argument. The scientists were looking at warming from ground level, so to speak, asking about the radiation that reaches and leaves the surface of the Earth.

Like Ångström, they tended to treat the atmosphere overhead as a unit, as if it were a single sheet of glass. (Thus the "greenhouse" analogy.) But this is not how global warming actually works. (clip)

The breakthroughs that finally set the field back on the right track came from research during the 1940s. Military officers lavishly funded research on the high layers of the air where their bombers operated, layers traversed by the infrared radiation they might use to detect enemies.

Theoretical analysis of absorption leaped forward, with results confirmed by laboratory studies using techniques orders of magnitude better than Ångström could deploy. The resulting developments stimulated new and clearer thinking about atmospheric radiation.

Among other things, the new studies showed that in the frigid and rarified upper atmosphere where the crucial infrared absorption takes place, the nature of the absorption is different from what scientists had assumed from the old sea-level measurements.

In sum, the way radiation is absorbed only matters if you want to calculate the exact degree of warming — adding carbon dioxide will make the greenhouse effect stronger regardless of saturation in the lower atmosphere. But in fact, the Earth's atmosphere is not even close to being in a state of saturation.

With the primitive techniques of his day, Ångström got a bad result, as explained in the Part II . Actually, it's not clear that he would have appreciated the significance of his result even if he had gotten the correct answer for the way absorption varies with CO2 amount.

From his writing, it's a pretty good guess that he'd think a change of absorption of a percent or so upon doubling CO2 would be insignificant.

In reality, that mere percent increase, when combined properly with the "thinning and cooling" argument, adds 4 Watts per square meter to the planets radiation balance for doubled CO2.

That's only about a percent of the solar energy absorbed by the Earth, but it's a highly important percent to us! After all, a mere one percent change in the 280 Kelvin surface temperature of the Earth is 2.8 Kelvin (which is also 2.8 Celsius).

And that's without even taking into account the radiative forcing from all those amplifying feedbacks, like those due to water vapor and ice-albedo." more

For his work, Angstrom was vicariously honored with his name becoming a unit of measurement. The angstrum was actually named after Anders Jonas Ångström.

But even with his 1903 Nobel Prize in chemistry, Svante Arrhenius' name sunk into the dust bin of the halls of science.

Until now.

Way back in 1896, he published "The Influence of Carbonic Acid in the Air upon the Temperature of the Ground" in the Philosophical Magazine.

In that paper, Arrhenius estimated that halving of CO2 would decrease temperatures by 4 - 5 oC and a doubling of CO2 would cause a temperature rise of 5 - 6 degrees Celsius or 7 - 11 degrees Fahrenheit.

What is remarkable is that Arrhenius came so close to the most recent IPCC estimate.

Arrhenius expected CO2 levels to rise at a rate given by emissions in his time. Since then, industrial carbon dioxide levels have risen at a much faster rate: Arrhenius expected CO2 doubling to take about 3000 years.

It may take a few decades more than a century.


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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Hate Makers

Tim Flannery is an internationally acclaimed writer, scientist and explorer. As a field zoologist he discovered and named more than thirty new species of mammals, including two tree-kangaroos. Sir David Attenborough described him as being ‘in the league of the all-time great explorers like Dr David Livingstone’. His latest book, The Weather Makers: Our changing climate and what it means for life on earth , is published in paperback by Penguin.

He recently published this piece in the Times Online

Ten predictions about climate change that have come true

Here are the hard facts about global warming that everyone should know,

1) That the Earth would warm as more CO2 was put into the atmosphere (Svante Arrhenius in 1893)
2) That we'd begin to see noticable changes to Earth's climate by around 2000 (some IPCC scientists ).
3) That sea-level would start rising
4) That Earth's Ice would start melting rapidly (James Hanson)
5) That hurricanes would increase in intensity (this one goes back to Alfred Russel Wallace in 1900)
6) That species would start going extinct as a result of climate change.
7) That Australia would start drying out (Hadley Centre scientists)
8) That tropical diseases would increase
9) That food crops would be adversely affected
10) That the CO2 would begin to acidify the ocean more

As amazing as these observations are, what is more amazing are the comments. Sure, Exxon is probably paying folks to do this now, but some of these comments are very revealing. Take the very first one...

"Is it getting warmer? We were told in school that 20,000 years ago New Jersey was covered by ice a mile high. When the colonists arrived in the 1600s it was gone. So did the Native Americans cause it to disappear hunting the buffalo and deer from their SUVs? I figure I'll need the oceans to rise about 66 feet before I can finally have a beachfront home. Time to buy a bigger SUV.

It's fun to watch the Euros and tree huggers in the USA getting their panties tied up in a knot. We're talking about 0.6c over the last 150 years. It comes down to the same old song, people who believe in this garbage want to tell you how to live your life. They are the ultimate control freaks who have looked around at their own pathetic lives and are envious of those enjoying themselves.

They should go back to staring at the sky and worrying about some large comet striking earth, at least they would do much less harm to the rest of us who enjoy living. "
John, Washington Twp., USA/NJ

Now whether or not Mr. Washington (or is it Mr. Twp) actually exists in reality or only in the mind of the creative author who knows?

But look at the emotion here and the lack of intellectual honesty.

Those who believe in the science of climate change have pathetic lives. They are jealous of others. And they wish to take the freedoms that others enjoy away from them.

The language style is a Bill O Reilly form of personal insult and fear.

Towards the end of this remarkable display of ignorance and insult, another commenter wrote:

"The time has come to discontinue arguing over the causes of global warming - i.e. whether man-caused or a natural phenomenon - and to advise people in every region on earth how to deal with the present changes and predicted future ones. We need to know where it is safest to live, likely future food shortages, and precisely how man can counteract rises in sea levels and dam the worst coastal danger-points around the world. Gillian Green, Varen, France

The far right has made their living skewing human consciousness towards our lower centers of hate and separation over the last few decades. Fascists have been doing it since the beginning of mass communication.

They are the Hate Makers

It has made them money and it has given them power.

No wonder so many of them don't believe in evolution.

They don't get to see very much of it.


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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Petrol to the Fire

The climate change news is becoming a blitzkrieg of realization.

According to this Reuters story, the Brits think they may need the army to deal with it. The US military made that determination long ago.

"Jock Stirrup, chief of the defence staff, said risks that climate change could cause weakened states to disintegrate and produce major humanitarian disasters or exploitation by armed groups had to become a feature of military planning.

But he said first analyses showed planners would not have to switch their geographical focus, because the areas most vulnerable to climate change are those where security risks are already high.

"Just glance at a map of the areas most likely to be affected and you are struck at once by the fact that they are exactly those parts of the world where we see fragility, instability and weak governance today.

"It seems to me rather like pouring petrol onto a burning fire," Stirrup told the Chatham House think-tank in London." more

And now a new report from a senior IPCC member has revised the time line on Greenland's ice sheet falling into the sea. Instead of thousands of years it may now be hundreds:

"The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its five-yearly report earlier this year, and described threats from global warming including sea-level rise of up to 79 centimeters this century.

It said that the entire Greenland ice sheet would melt over a period of thousands of years, if temperatures remained around 2 degrees centigrade (3.6 Fahrenheit) or more above the levels predating wholesale industrialization in the developed world.

But the new research, not considered by the IPCC, could change that view, according to Bert Metz, a senior IPCC member.

"No models that predict sea level rise include this," he told Reuters on the fringes of a climate change conference hosted by Chatham House in London on Monday.

"It's plausible that the whole thing could disintegrate in hundreds of years, an order of magnitude faster." more

Now I know that hundreds of years seems like a long way off, but its not as far off as thousands of years. And in civilization time/years, it's next Tuesday. Besides, if we can lose one order of magnitude in a matter of months, we are definitedly treading on the proverbial thin ice of scientific certainty.

Even if it is several hundred years and we started moving all of our coastal cities right now, we probably wouldn't be finished in time.

The new leader of the European Union sees the situation to be dramatic.

"Climate change is the most important political issue in the European Union, European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said after a visit to Greenland to see the effects of global warming first hand."We need to do more. The situation is very dramatic," Mr Barroso said according to Danish daily Politiken.

"Greenland is without doubt one of the areas on the planet which are most affected by climate change," he added, while explaining that it was essential for him to see the effects of warming with his own eyes.

"It is important for me to have a direct contact with the local societies where climate change affects their way of life and economic income. It is very different from reading the well-researched briefings... more

The period between the very first Barbaric invasions of Rome and its final fall in 476 was hundreds of years. The end of the west took about 75 years after the Visigoths penetrated Italy.
I suspect they saw it coming.

As do we.

As we add Petrol to the Fire.


Monday, June 25, 2007

Wise Use

In yesterday's rerun post, there was a comment made about efficiency and conservation and the lack of it in my various posts. There have been many times that I have mentioned the efficient use of energy in my posts, but in fact, as Glycotech correctly stated, it has not been my focus.

I responded that energy efficiency is always a given and that it is the back bone of any sane energy policy or system. No matter what strategy we use to tame the wild energy that surrounds us, we should use that energy wisely.

However, that said, energy that is wasted while using carbon fuels is especially bad because of the pollution that the wasted energy leaves. It may be economically foolish to waste wind or solar electricity, but it will not make the air unbreathable or contribute to the change of our climate.

One way to measure the efficiency of a system is to look at the economic output vs. the amount of energy that is needed to produce that output.

According to Wikipedia:

U.S. energy consumption in 2004 was estimated at 99.74 quadrillion Btus (1.05 × 1011 GJ) (referred to as 'quads') from all sources (US DoE). Total GDP was estimated at $11.75 trillion in 2004 and US GDP per capita was estimated at roughly $40,100 in 2004 (CIA Factbook). Using a population of 290,809,777 (as per US Census Bureau). This would produce an Energy Intensity of 8,553 Btus (9 MJ)consumed to produce a single dollar of GDP.

As you can see by the graph, Japan, Germany, and Britain use 70% of the energy that the US does for each unit of economic output. This efficiency gives these countries a competitive leg up, especially in a regulated carbon economy.

However, US overall efficiency has improved since the 70's substantially.

If we are to run our economy on high quality non polluting fuels, we will need to use that energy wisely. Of course that means using state of the art light bulbs and windows. It means insulation on your air conditioning ducts, it means thermostats that shut off during peak demand for a few minutes, it means smart appliances, and well designed cars, and trees on the west side, and it means using the computer to see a house instead of driving by.

It means not flying to Boston when a video conference would do.

It means taking the bus or the metro.

It means walkable neighborhoods.

It means eating food that has not been shipped all over the world.

It means building advanced efficient high speed infrastructure.

It means working from our homes, and using our communication tools. (Just think how much energy the now almost extinct fax machine saved during it brief period of life in our offices and homes.)

But in the bigger picture,

it also means looking at the way we use and value energy as a society.

And if the price of energy is cheap,

but the costs of using that energy are high,

we will waste it and pass the high costs of pollution to the commons.

If the price of energy is high,

we will value it and we will tend to not waste it.

High pollution premiums added on to the price of low value energy

will make high value energy the bargain it is.

I may not turn off the lights at 10 cents a KWH but

I would put in occupancy sensors at 20.

That's why a hotel hallway in Europe is dark,

unless someone is walking in it.

We can delay the current crop of coal power plants

if we initiate effective energy efficiency programs that save

energy and capacity now,

But if we are to really move history forward,

we must look at our use of energy from a systems level.

And that will require finding a new way to measure ourselves.

For the GNP is not a measure that should be used without reflection.
It, after all,

" measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor devotion to country. It measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile; and it can tell us everything about America--except whether we are proud to be Americans. RFK

And so it should be for the



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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Knowing what we Know

I'm stuck in a last minute MCE class. Here's another summer rerun.

One of the amazing things about the energy business is how many people

think they know something about it,

When, in fact, most really know nothing.

Last weekend, I was visiting with a professional and it happened again.

He had some solution to something or another.

I mean, it's like being a heart surgeon and having people come up

and say,

"You know, I've been thinking about that stent you guys use and

you know,
you should probably make it out of switch grass."

Practically everyone knows about energy.

And most of them know exactly nothing.

You have the Peak Oil guys who think we will be in the dark,

and that the world, as we know it, will end.

You have the guys who consistently confuse the use of hydrogen,

with hydrogen fuel cells.

They will say that hydrogen is 50 years out,

when hydrogen from water from wind power,

could be used in existing electrical generation and car engines


Some blithely repeat that it takes more energy to make hydrogen

than you get from it.

With that as a standard, we would not make electricity either.

The ratio for making hydrogen is 1.2 to 1.

The standard ratio for making electricity from fuel is 3 to 1.

You have people who say that nothing can replace oil,

but yet they know nothing about the new generation of ultra caps.

There are guys who think that gasoline cars with engines will always

be faster than electrics, but they don't understand electric torque.

You have people who want to continue our cars, our goofy work patterns,

and the ridiculous ways we eat and live and consume,

but they just want to use french fry oil to do it.

You have people who think that nuclear energy will save us,

but they have no idea how limited and finite nuclear fuel is.

You have people who want to grow corn to continue our madness,

when corn alcohol is really just a way to use sunlight, water, and land,

to convert natural gas and oil into another chemical.

Many of these know nothings don't know the difference

between power and energy.

Most can't convert a KWh to a BTU,

And most don't really understand that energy is everywhere.

Yet movie stars and singers,

politicians and entrepreneurs,

all jump in with their one cent.

Perhaps the biggest problem we have is focus. (or lack of)

So, here it is.

Humankind has two huge problems.

Climate Change and Peak Oil.

They are interrelated.

If we burn the remaining oil, (and coal)

we will cook ourselves from Climate Change.

If we move to Nuclear to avoid Climate Change,

we will waste precious time and resources and

leave a legacy of poisons,

that will be remembered and cursed for all time.

If we wage war to control the last half of the oil,

we will complete the World War trilogy,

and Einstein's comment will probably be true.

"The next war will be fought with sticks and stones. "

If we do nothing,

the doomsters will have their day.

So here it is again.

Humankind must invest heavily in wind

and simultaneously bring on line solar electricity

that can provide high energy ratios. (energy out/ energy in)

We abolish the use of coal.


The only ecconomic way to sequester carbon from coal

is to leave it in the ground.

We invest heavily in hydrogen electrolysis efficiencies,

so we can use lots of wind energy in our existing generation.

We develop the concept of the solid state utility,

and thus make use of the existent extra electric capacity in the system.

We make our vehicles capable of running on electricity and other fuels,

and create a new kind of all-electric vehicle with motors in the wheels,

and ultra caps embedded in the chassis.

The body of the car then plugs into the platform like a computer monitor.

We start building our settlements for people.

We start walking again.

We make our cities a patchwork of villages and gardens.


We create large earthfamilies.

These great international global cooperations will in time,

overtake the Wall Marts, and the General Electrics,

and corporate hegemony will be arrested,

And Democracy will return.

And sanity will emerge.

And We will go on.

Knowing what we know.


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Friday, June 22, 2007

Triangular Transformation

Here is a good one from last summer.

*transforming triangles

When I first started this blog,

I had perhaps three major premises.

One, was the idea that we must all begin to understand the truth

of our situation.

And that truth is that Climate Change and Resource Depletion

are real.

And they are coming to a theatre close to you soon.

Over the last 20 months or so,

I have published and created a chronologue

of the news of these two planetary forcing issues

as they have more or less moved from the minds and mouths

of the early adopters among us

to the ears and minds of those in the middle of the bell curve.

Al Gore and the InterAcademy of Sciences

are claiming more and more of that ground daily.

As for the Peak Oil meme, we hear it from Oil Men like Boone Pickens,

and even the President's best friend isn't afraid to say it like it is.

However, it's one thing to bring these memes to consciousness,

It's quite another to begin to respond and act appropriately.

Most of us haven't done that.

We haven't done it in our family planning or our business planning.

In my opinion, these issues transcend political parties and nationalism.

I cringe when I hear well meaning liberals speak of

"Energy Independence".

What wouldn't these left wing nationalists condone to accomplish this?

Some condone the present resource wars.

I cannot seriously adopt this energy position.

It flies in the face of the global climate issue and the global resource issue.

It is nationalistic folly.

The second (but equal) premise was one of a new global communion

that we now share with our advanced communication devices.

I marvel at the growth of our connectedness.

Through the blogs, through Craig's list, through You Tube, through Google,

we are being connected like never before.

If it were not for the mind shaping repetitious mantra of nationalism

through our media,

many of us might just inadvertantly forget who "they say we are",

and instead simply meld into "who and what we have become",

An Earthfamily.

Someday, and probably not too long from now,

Google or Apple or some other major internet presence

will capitalize on this, and a corpus of earthfamilies will emerge

that will provide us health, and transportation, and housing,

and advanced communication and computing.

As the mast head of earthfamilyalpha says,

"These new cybercoops or cyberstates will bring humankind

to higher levels of cooperation and understanding."

These giant coops or cyberstates will begin to replace

the giant multinational corporations that have ruled the earth

for the last 70 years or so.

These new inventions of social contract will replace them

because we will all know in the "not too distant future",

that these corporate dinosaurs

and the institutions and governments that they controlled,


They failed to respond to Climate Change

They failed to see Peak Oil.

And they failed everyone except the elite and the near elite.

The third premise is this idea that this kind of social and institutional

rollover will bring about a quickening of the human spirit.

I believe that we will truly evolve in our thinking in the next twenty years,

like no one can imagine.

We are seeing the vestiges of a truly ugly consciousness as we endure

the hate and shallowness on Fox and the other right wing media fronts.

But equally, the left and its liberalism is also showing its hollow marrow.

Humankind will learn to embrace a consciousness that is nonviolent,

that is inclusive, that embraces art and music and beauty.

Humankind will learn to make healing an art,

and our art will be healing.

Food will be free.

Water will be clear once again.

We will not use our Air as a free waste dump.

Technologically speaking,

We will be light years away from our historic big fire burning ways.

Our homes and our towns will be powered by the light of our days.

We will walk through cool forest and urban gardens,

occasionally descending into the tubes below

where we transport ourselves at mach speeds anywhere on the spaceship

in a few hours, not days.

We will fly on the electromagnetic spectrum in both craft and image.

We will respect our ship and each other.

We will know that we know

only what we know,

"That this creation is a great mystery of space and time

and it is a gift to each of us

And we will treasure it daily.

And we will walk lightly.

And we will talk

of the old days,

when war was worshiped

and the earth was almost lost.


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art courtesy of Willie Marlowe


Thursday, June 21, 2007

In Imminent Peril

Good news America.

You are no longer the "largest polluter on earth".

Now it's China.

That's the good news. Here's the bad. There is another scientific paper out. This one comes from only six scientists. But they pull no punches. The story comes from The Independent.

The Earth today stands in imminent peril

...and nothing short of a planetary rescue will save it from the environmental cataclysm of dangerous climate change.

Those are not the words of eco-warriors but the considered opinion of a group of eminent scientists writing in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

By Steve Connor, Science Editor
Published: 19 June 2007

Six scientists from some of the leading scientific institutions in the United States have issued what amounts to an unambiguous warning to the world: civilisation itself is threatened by global warming.

They also implicitly criticise the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for underestimating the scale of sea-level rises this century as a result of melting glaciers and polar ice sheets.

Instead of sea levels rising by about 40 centimetres, as the IPCC predicts in one of its computer forecasts, the true rise might be as great as several metres by 2100. That is why, they say, planet Earth today is in "imminent peril".

In a densely referenced scientific paper published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A some of the world's leading climate researchers describe in detail why they believe that humanity can no longer afford to ignore the "gravest threat" of climate change.

"Recent greenhouse gas emissions place the Earth perilously close to dramatic climate change that could run out of control, with great dangers for humans and other creatures," the scientists say. Only intense efforts to curb man-made emissions of carbon dioxide emissions and other greenhouse gases can keep the climate within or near the range of the past one million years, they add.

The researchers were led by James Hansen, the director of Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, who was the first scientist to warn the US Congress about global warming.
The other scientists were Makiko Sato, Pushker Kharecha and Gary Russell, also of the Goddard Institute, David Lea of the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Mark Siddall of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University in New York.

In their 29-page paper, "Climate Change and trace gases", the scientists frequently stray from the non-emotional language of science to emphasise the scale of the problems and dangers posed by climate change.

In an email to The Independent, Dr Hansen said: "In my opinion, among our papers this one probably does the best job of making clear that the Earth is getting perilously close to climate changes that could run out of our control." clip

Their study looked back over more than 400,000 years of climate records from deep ice cores and found evidence to suggest that rapid climate change over a period of centuries, or even decades, have in the past occurred once the world began to heat up and ice sheets started melting. It is not possible to assess the dangerous level of man-made greenhouse gases.

"However, it is much lower than has commonly been assumed. If we have not already passed the dangerous level, the energy infrastructure in place ensures that we will pass it within several decades," the scientists say in their findings.

"We conclude that a feasible strategy for planetary rescue almost surely requires a means of extracting [greenhouse gases] from the air."

As 7/7/7 approaches and Al Gore's concerts go off, we will see another wave of climate raising consciousness. But as these scientists explain, the solutions are not going to be cute little light bulb changes.

According to this report, not only do we have the great challenge of changing how we power our buildings, our transport, and our gadgets, we must also begin to take CO2 out of the environment or, as these eminent scientists believe, humankind will be up the proverbial creek.

That will mean growing a beard on the earth, plus actually "mining the carbon" out of the air. Obviously, the solution is to pay those who take the carbon out, and to penalize those who put it in.

If you look at the CO2 graphs from Mauna Loa carefully, you will see that parts per million varies with the seasons by about 10 PPM. This oscillation is due to the fact that the Northern hemisphere has more annual sequestered carbon than the Southern.

It does give us some idea of the scale of the problem.

Using nanotechnology, we can mine the atmosphere of carbon and cover our structures with power paints and printed films that replace our need to burn carbon, and at the same time, remove a degree of the carbon that we have already burned. But, even if we cover every structure on earth, we will only remove perhaps a decade of carbon emissions.

We will therefore soon see that like many situations, it will be far more economic to refrain from emitting than to remove these gases after the fact.

Think about it.

Every ounce of coal,

Every gallon of gas

that was burned in your lifetime.

Is now in our air.

It was easy to put it in.

It won't be so easy getting it out.

To the climate lexicon of mitigation, and adaptation,

We must now add reclaimation.

For we are all

In Imminent Peril

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A day in the Life

The day started this morning with a click,

No, it was more like a clack.

As I turned the key in the large Baldwin lock

to enter the rounded front door of my arts and crafts home,

the key broke… with the business end in the lock.

I calmly reached for the secret key,

And walked over to the side door.

The door was too tight to open with the key.

So I went to the office in back,

thinking I would need to punch in the entry key numbers

in the electric key pad.

That wasn’t necessary, I had left the office open all night.

As I ate my breakfast taco that comes from the funny drugstore,

I figured I would get in somehow. I had an appointment at ten,

And I needed to be on the road by 12.

In my back office drawing tool tray I found a very handy hemostat.

Next to it, was a pair of tweezers.

A handy utility knife was standing proudly next to them both.

I suddenly had an arsenal of tools for the job.

I tried the tweezers, but they kept slipping off.

Then I tried the hemostat. It slipped off.

Then I tried the utility knife. I’m not sure why.

I went back to the tweezers and realized,

"I’m going to need a chair".

So I got a directors chair and placed it so I could work.

In a few moments, using the hemostat,

The key remnant suddenly slipped out and appeared from its shroud.

Victoriously, I had my meetings and then drove

in the verdant countryside for five hours.

When I checked into the downtown boutique hotel,

I immediately got out my little Acer,

And fired it up.

No signal.

I called down to the front desk.

We changed rooms where the wireless signal was stronger.

Even though I could get most websites fine,
Outlook kept acting screwy.

It kept losing the connection with the server.

So, I tried my G Mail server.

It worked I thought, but not for long.

I tried to sign in to the blog.

No luck.

I tried signing into my server at work.

No luck.

I even tried signing into my gmail account from the web.

No luck.

I tried another hotmail account.

No luck.

Outlook kept locking up.

I had several messages in the "outbox"

That wouldn’t go anywhere, and they kept making Outlook

Get all balled up in knots.

I thought,

"I’ll take a walk."

I did. It was hot.

I called my girl friend.

She could tell I was predisposed.

We agreed to talk later.

I screwed and screwed with it.

Bloggers are that way I guess.

We just keep screwing with it.

I dumped my cookies,

I tried all my browsers.

Like a hunter, I plodded through the tech jungle.

Finally, it occurred to me that the hotel’s signal

Was only allowing things to go one way.

I found a weak signal and low and behold.

So instead of a post about climate change,

Or peak oil, or our growing fascist state,

I’m writing about our machines and our tools.

And how much we depend on them.

If some really smart Chinese guy can do to our internet

What some guy apparently did to the hotel’s service,

This nation, No, the whole developed world
is going to go bug f#2king crazy.

And when it does,

I’m going to lay back,

And I’m going to read that new secret history book,

And I’m going to get out my pen,

And write in my diary.

And I’m going to sketch out that house plan.

And I’m going to use those hemostats again.


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Oh By The Way

Road Map to Peace:
Turn Right to Civil War

J's first words the other morning —
mumbled, under the pillow,
in response to me news surfing
while I sipped enough coffee
to make it to the front room office
were —

Is this the Daily Show?

CNN was running continuous
coverage of a man who sprained
his ankle in Colorado —
overhead helicoptor shots, local
reportors with details,
some celebrity didn't want
to go to jail in LA —

A feature about a cat who
travels with a trucker

A fire yesterday claimed
the lives of 9 firefighters —
and that is terrible,
it is.

Seventy-five people were
killed today by a bomb in Baghdad,
more than 200 injured.
Gaza is cut off from food and supplies
because the elected government
has taken power leaving Palestine
reft by civil war. Civil war is
raging in Iraq. Anybody hear
what happened since Turkey
invaded Kurdistan?
There's a civil war in Lebanon,
or maybe just a floundering government,
Hezbollah and something like al qeada.

So the Bush road map to peace
is what?

A right turn to Civil War.

Here's the Daily Show last night.
The second clip — Aasif Mandvi,
is great.

Oh By the Way —
Hamas is the democratically elected ruling party
in Palestine.

Oh By the Way —
here are some news bits you might have missed:

Fisk: Sick strategy behind Lebanon's latest assassination

Mediators hopeful on deal to end Lebanon fighting

Israeli Tanks Roll Into Gaza

A War On Rewind

Bomb kills 78 in Baghdad

Alliance with Atrocity: Bush's Terror War Partners in Ethiopia

Onward thru the fog
by the way is still a decent goal.


©Susan Bright, 2007.

Susan Bright is the author of nineteen books of poetry. She is the editor of Plain View Press which since 1975 has published one-hundred-and-ninety books. Her work as a poet, publisher, activist and educator has taken her all over the United States and abroad. Her most recent book, The Layers of Our Seeing, is a collection of poetry, photographs and essays about peace done in collaboration with photographer Alan Pogue and Middle Eastern journalist, Muna Hamzeh.

Announcement: The Plain View Press e-store is online.

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