Sunday, June 29, 2008

Bad to the Bone

It's pretty hard for this administration of oil men to do something that catches me off guard. I expect them to be despicable and they are. With approval numbers in the low twenties, their political egos seem to be peculiarly immune to the normal governors of public service. Even with a general consensus from historians and political scientists that their governance has been the worst in the history of the national experience, these oil men seem to not be phased as their penchant to govern for the few at the expense of the many continues.

Having first allowed a band of 16 Saudis to attack and destroy the centerpieces of American Commerce as well as the Citadel of American military dominance, this administration set itself on a path to cover their grand failure to listen and respond to the warnings of our allies and our own intelligence agencies by invading a country whose only true sin was to be sitting on a sea of oil.

Our oil.

In one of the more spectacular robberies of history, these oil men managed to socialize the costs of obtaining these resources for the private interests they represented by invading this land of resources. First, in the name of preemptive defense, then in the name of democracy, they have finally restored the original oil companies that were removed when the oil industry was nationalized by the Bathist.

It must give United Fruit a great deal of hope for their triumphant return to Havana.

This admininstration of oil men has done so much to so many with remarkable efficiency.

They have reversed decades of good will for this country within the world community. So much so that our leaders are in the top three in the world as the most dangerous and the most corrupt.
They have returned us to the dark ages where men can be captured and held and tortured with no hope of seeing a fair and impartial judge to determine if any case exist at all.

They have corrupted our system of voting and vote counting.

They have sent fathers and mothers and sons and daughters to war, yet when they return, they are dishonored with a disabled health care system.

They have used their power to hide the truth of climate change.

They have severely damaged the value of our currency

They have presided over a four fold increase in a barrel of oil.

They have lied, perverted the truth, and enriched themselves in office.

But somehow, all of these behaviors can be somehow expected and to some degree predicted, for after all, they are who they are. But this one, although clearly on their lists of bad things that need to be done, seems too dastardly, too mean, even for them:

Citing Need for Assessments, U.S. Freezes Solar Energy Projects
NY Times

DENVER — Faced with a surge in the number of proposed solar power plants, the federal government has placed a moratorium on new solar projects on public land until it studies their environmental impact, which is expected to take about two years.

The Bureau of Land Management says an extensive environmental study is needed to determine how large solar plants might affect millions of acres it oversees in six Western states — Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah.

But the decision to freeze new solar proposals temporarily, reached late last month, has caused widespread concern in the alternative-energy industry, as fledgling solar companies must wait to see if they can realize their hopes of harnessing power from swaths of sun-baked public land, just as the demand for viable alternative energy is accelerating. (clip)

Galvanized by the national demand for clean energy development, solar companies have filed more than 130 proposals with the Bureau of Land Management since 2005. They center on the companies’ desires to lease public land to build solar plants and then sell the energy to utilities.

According to the bureau, the applications, which cover more than one million acres, are for projects that have the potential to power more than 20 million homes.

Much progress has been made in the development of both types of solar technology in the last few years. Photovoltaic solar projects grew by 48 percent in 2007 compared with 2006. Eleven concentrating solar plants are operational in the United States, and 20 are in various stages of planning or permitting, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association." (more)

So, even as our oil men administration is "oh so willing" to open up our coast and our artic refuge to drilling, they want to go slow on solar.

And why?

Because some of these plants will produce energy for as little as 10 cents KWh. And an electric vehicle (plug in hybrid) which uses this energy will, in effect, have clean renewable energy source that doesn't cause more climate change, doesn't contribute to the massive transfer of money to the oil companies and the mid-east, and it doesn't require bombs and blood to defend.

These plants will produce a electric gallons of gas for around a $1.00 per gallon.

They will begin the move away from carbon and the wars and environmental calamity it brings.

These plants and the more advanced strategies that will follow them will take the world into a new energy age which will transcend the hunter gatherer mentality that the present oil man mentality embedded in our government represents.

These plants will mark the end of their domination on earth.

And so they must stop them.

Since Friday, I've been thinking about this,
And the answer seems to be this,


You and your like must resign now.

Let Nancy run things until Barack takes over.

RESIGN for the good of humankind.

RESIGN for your daughters and grandchildren.

RESIGN so that your names will not be stricken from our monuments.

RESIGN so that when historians speak of these days

and your time and terms in your position of trust and honor,

Those of a kinder spirit will be able to say,

"They were not all bad, at least not bad to the bone."

RESIGN and preserve your names and your legacy.


while you still can.

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Friday, June 27, 2008

No Blood for Oil?

A friend and reader sent this piece from Tom Dispatch yesterday. It pretty much says it.

No Blood for... er... um...The Oil
Majors Take a Little Sip of the Ol' Patrimony
By Tom Engelhardt

More than five years after the invasion of Iraq -- just in case you were still waiting -- the oil giants finally hit the front page

Last Thursday, the New York Times led with this headline: "Deals with Iraq Are Set to Bring Oil Giants Back." (Subhead: "Rare No-bid Contracts, A Foothold for Western Companies Seeking Future Rewards.")

And who were these four giants? ExxonMobil, Shell, the French company Total and BP (formerly British Petroleum).

What these firms got were mere "service contracts" -- as in servicing Iraq's oil fields -- not the sort of "production sharing agreements" that President Bush's representatives in Baghdad once dreamed of, and that would have left them in charge of those fields. Still, it was clearly a start.

The Times reporter, Andrew E. Kramer, added this little detail: "[The contracts] include a provision that could allow the companies to reap large profits at today's prices: the [Iraqi oil] ministry and companies are negotiating payment in oil rather than cash."

And here's the curious thing, exactly these four giants "lost their concessions in Iraq" back in 1972 when that country's oil was nationalized. Hmmm.

You'd think the Times might have slapped some kind of "we wuz wrong" label on the piece. I mean, remember when the mainstream media, the Times included, seconded the idea that Bush's invasion, whatever it was about -- weapons of mass destruction or terrorism or liberation or democracy or bad dictators or… well, no matter -- you could be sure of one thing: it wasn't about oil.

"Oil" wasn't a word worth including in serious reporting on the invasion and its aftermath, not even after it turned out that American troops entering Baghdad guarded only the Oil and Interior Ministries, while the rest of the city was looted.

Even then -- and ever after -- the idea that the Bush administration might have the slightest urge to control Iraqi oil (or the flow of Middle Eastern oil via a well-garrisoned Iraq) wasn't worth spending a few paragraphs of valuable newsprint on.

I always thought that, if Iraq's main product had been video games, sometime in the last five years the Times (and other major papers) would have had really tough, thoughtful pieces, asking really tough, thoughtful questions, about the effects of the invasion and ensuing chaos on our children's lives and the like. But oil, well... After all, with global demand for energy on the rise, why would anybody want to invade, conquer, occupy, and garrison a country that, as Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz once observed, "floats on a sea of oil"? (clip)

After all, the only people who thought that oil might have something to do with the invasion of Iraq weren't on the Times staff. They weren't, in fact, in the mainstream at all. And, to put things into context, depending on your estimates, there were only somewhere between 11 million and 30 million of them marching around in the streets of cities and towns all over the planet before the invasion, carrying signs that said ludicrous, easily dismissible things like: "No Blood for Oil," "How did USA's oil get under Iraq's sand?" and "Don't trade lives for oil!"

Let's face it: Among those who counted, they -- with their simpleminded slogans on hand-lettered placards -- just didn't count at all. Not when everyone who was anyone knew that the world was a much, much, much subtler and much, much more complicated place.

No blood for oil?

Sure, it was short and snappy and easy enough to get on a sign, but also about as absurdly reductionist, as unsubtle, as uncomplicated as possible. (clip)

Waving those silly signs, they actually expected bad things to happen.

It didn't seem to matter to them that the President, Vice President, National Security Advisor, and Secretary of Defense assured them no such thing was possible; assured them, in fact, that not to invade would lead to mushroom clouds over American cities and Iraqi unmanned aerial vehicles spraying bio- or chemical weaponry along the east coast of the United States.

Now, with a barrel of crude selling at more than quadruple its prewar price, more than double its price a mere year ago, the oil majors are finally moving in for the… well, let's not say "kill," let's just say that tasty little sip of the ol' patrimony". (more)

Oil closed at over 140.00 a barrel today.

But, it's not the oil.

And it's not about providing media cover for the crimes of the government.

And it's not about a mainstream media that is every bit as guilty of the crime of invading a country for its resources as Cheney and his minions.

And its not about greed.

And its not about power.

But it is about National Security.

Anytime you see those words.

You know what it's about.

It's about fear,

It's about Blood.
But not theirs.

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Thursday, June 26, 2008


Noise, and Again Noise

My husband particularly enjoys noisy events
in our neighborhood — Rocket Man flying around
the Alamo Draft House a few months ago delighted him.

The 3-story Robot that roared and breathed flames, however,
have convinced our yellow crowned night herons
to depart
prematurely. Their noise is a low bark.

We danced in the street the night the Rolling Stones
played in the park, and often catch music bouncing
off the condos behind us as it drifts up from

Auditorium Shores and ricochets back at us,
like a meldodic Frisbee, our attention leaping
to catch the tune of our great music town.

The noise from the house next door where parties
rage until 3 AM -- or longer, is less appealing,
originating, as it does, twenty feet from my pillow.

Airplanes don't offend me here, though the jets
that broke the sound barrier dive bombing
downtown the winter before last pissed me off.

There are neighborhoods across the planet
that have become accustomed to that sound —
cluster bombs in school playgrounds, thanks to us.

The pigeons— grey, teal, white, gold, blue —
that flock in Zilker Park alongside the pool make
almost no noise at all, just a soft mumble

against The Giant clearing land along the river
to build high rise complexes, new construction projects
on parkland donated to our city by a man named

Zilker in exchange for a promise from the City
to forever provide high quality vocational training
in our schools. I wonder how he’d feel about

our drop out rate? City kids, homeless, drifting
in and out of crack houses, jail, trying to make it
without unions, insurance, a fair wage or even jobs.

Tonight our neighborhood seems delicate,
fragile to me, almost holy, in the face
of the dumb footprint of The Giant at our threshold.

Which of us will be last one out —
last to be able to afford tax increases as small homes
mushroom to mansions, last to hold out against The Giant

who wants a theater here, a sky scraper there, another,
a shopping mall, a freeway into downtown, wants
to turn Waller Creek into a white water park pulsing

with City water and rimmed with luxury hotels, density
pointing to the sky in homage to the ranting God
of money — noise, and then again, noise.

© Susan Bright, 2008

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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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

How the Light Gets in.

Here's a rewrite of an oldie from the second year of EFA.

We humans are in a unique cross roads in our evolution.

And we are faced with unique and substantial challenges.

For millennia, humankind has been building fires of one size or another,

and we have used these fires,

to drive away animals,

to cook them when we can,

to warm our loved ones,

to drive our machines,

to power our computers,

to destroy our enemies.

This fire has served us very well.

But now, the very atmosphere that we need to burn this fire in,

is saying,

No more.

Conveniently, but not necessarily helpfully,

the sticks that we have been using to fuel our fires,

which now lie farther and farther away from our homes,

are now half way used up,

and becoming more and more difficult to find.

Meanwhile, other growing powerful tribes want these sticks too.

And the forest cannot keep up with the need for more.

Therefore, some would reason,

We must use our bigger sticks to get more burning sticks.
One day,

a very wise man came into camp and he said,

"We have come to the time when we do not burn our sticks."

We can use our sticks to scratch the earth,

so it will bring forth more food.

We can stack our sticks to build great strong structures,

so our children will be warm.

We can point our sticks at the heavens,

so they will receive the energy from the universe.

We can even use our sticks to bring us to unknown new worlds.

But first, we must reshape our most powerful subtle stick.

We must bend it and place a tight string on it.

And launch the arrow of human potential.

We must reform our mind.

We must reshape our thinking.

We must give our positions up.

The old ways of thinking,





Are passe.

At least they should be.

Give up your ideas about country.

Give up your ideals about energy.

Give up what you think you know.

Give up the GNP, the DNC, the SUV,

on ABC, and WMD.

As the poet says,

There is a crack, a crack in everything,

that's how the light gets in.


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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Ecology of Man

Quite a few months ago, I walked into the boss's office and told him that we needed to get together with all of our sister utilities and offer a prize, a huge prize for the development of an energy storage device that has high energy density, rapid charging, and long life. If our civilization is going to say goodbye to carbon, it's absolutely necessary that an ultra cap storage device or a mass produced lithium battery be developed.

It's not only essential to decarbonizing the transportation sector, we must have large scale capacitance in the stationary electric sector if we are going to have most of our electricity coming from the energy that surrounds us.

Well, yesterday, on the day that former CIA director and plug in hybrid supporter James Woolsey joined the McCain campaign, an amazing thing happened.

Here's the story from the Herald Tribune:

McCain looks for energy breakthrough
By Brian Knowlton
Published: June 23, 2008

WASHINGTON: Senator John McCain on Monday proposed the creation of a $300 million prize for anyone who developed breakthrough car-battery technology and he recommended greater tax incentives for buyers of nonpolluting autos, saying that only a combination of increased oil production, conservation measures and ingenuity could ease the fuel crisis and slow global warming.

The call from the presumptive Republican presidential nominee stood in contrast with his proposal last week to increase U.S. energy supplies through more traditional action - by making it easier for states to allow oil drilling off their coasts.

Speaking a day after Senator Barack Obama, his likely Democratic rival, called for a crackdown on the oil speculators blamed by some for contributing to record high prices, McCain appeared eager to portray himself as taking visionary, independent-minded steps - departures in some cases from Bush administration approaches - to encourage the sort of national commitment and ingenuity that, he noted, had landed a man on the moon.

But an Obama energy adviser, Jason Grumet, said that McCain's "heroic rhetoric" could not cover up for what he described as years of environmental inaction by the senator. (more)

McCain's proposal for a $300 million prize "for the development of a battery package that has the size, capacity, cost and power to leapfrog the commercially available plug-in hybrids or electric cars " is not only a good idea, it's absolutely essential. And the Obama campaign should show that this really is a different kind of campaign, and they should support it.

A prize of this size will bring out the ingenuity we must awaken if we are to truly revolutionize the world we must change.

There are several companies who are on the brink of this discovery now. One is in Texas. MIT thinks they may have the answer. Researchers at Brown University have a thin film battery.

McCains not going to be right that often.

When he is.

Obama should be too.

Then we'll all win the E Prize,

The Ecology of Man

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Monday, June 23, 2008

The Climate Change Trials

It's one thing for me to talk about climate criminals and how those who recklessly endanger our civilization to maintain or increase their bottom lines should be held accountable. It's quite another thing for that concept to be presented by a noted scientist before Congress.

Here's the story from the Guardian:

Put oil firm chiefs on trial,
says leading climate change scientist
Testimony to US Congress will also criticise lobbyists· 'Revolutionary' policies needed to tackle crisis
The Guardian,
Monday June 23, 2008

by Ed Pilkington

James Hansen, one of the world's leading climate scientists, will today call for the chief executives of large fossil fuel companies to be put on trial for high crimes against humanity and nature, accusing them of actively spreading doubt about global warming in the same way that tobacco companies blurred the links between smoking and cancer.

Hansen will use the symbolically charged 20th anniversary of his groundbreaking speech (pdf) to the US Congress - in which he was among the first to sound the alarm over the reality of global warming - to argue that radical steps need to be taken immediately if the "perfect storm" of irreversible climate change is not to become inevitable.

Speaking before Congress again, he will accuse the chief executive officers of companies such as ExxonMobil and Peabody Energy of being fully aware of the disinformation about climate change they are spreading.

In an interview with the Guardian he said: "When you are in that kind of position, as the CEO of one the primary players who have been putting out misinformation even via organisations that affect what gets into school textbooks, then I think that's a crime."

He is also considering personally targeting members of Congress who have a poor track record on climate change in the coming November elections. He will campaign to have several of them unseated.

Hansen's speech to Congress on June 23 1988 is seen as a seminal moment in bringing the threat of global warming to the public's attention. At a time when most scientists were still hesitant to speak out, he said the evidence of the greenhouse gas effect was 99% certain, adding "it is time to stop waffling".

He will tell the House select committee on energy independence and global warming this afternoon that he is now 99% certain that the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere has already risen beyond the safe level. (clip)

He wants to see a moratorium on new coal-fired power plants, coupled with the creation of a huge grid of low-loss electric power lines buried under ground and spread across America, in order to give wind and solar power a chance of competing. "The new US president would have to take the initiative analogous to Kennedy's decision to go to the moon."

His sharpest words are reserved for the special interests he blames for public confusion about the nature of the global warming threat. "The problem is not political will, it's the alligator shoes - the lobbyists. It's the fact that money talks in Washington, and that democracy is not working the way it's intended to work."( more)

I keep wondering when folks are going to wake up.

I suppose its pretty hard with the Darvon consumer drip drip.

But sooner than later, we're going to have to put the proverbial

pedal to the metal,

and get with it.

We're going to have to rip our consumer car culture

out of the fabric of our lives,

And, we're going to have to let go of of a lot of our ideas.

Competition must be balanced with Cooperation.

Rigged Free Markets must include all of the social costs.

Releasing carbon into the global atmosphere

must be as cool as smoking in a hospital waiting room.

Yesterday, at brunch, I visited with a couple

who were teenagers during WW II

about how much change they have seen in their lives.

We will need to see those kind of changes again,

and we will need to mobilize ourselves towards a new energy paradigm.

But this time, we have no Hitler, no Mussolini to hate,


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Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Texas Taliban

A radical political organization has just finished writing their platform. Here, thanks to TFN , are some of the major positions they adopted:

They declare that “America is a nation under God founded on Judeo-Christian principles” and that the party is pledged “toward dispelling the myth of separation of church and state.”[P-18]

They support school subjects with emphasis on the Judeo-Christian principles upon which America was founded. [P-17]

The party platform calls for revising the federal tax code to sweep away limits on politicking by clergy and houses of worship. [P-9]

The party also calls for legislation permitting student-sponsored prayer in public schools and seeks to end what it calls “censorship of discussion of religion in our founding documents.” [P-17]

They "oppose any governmental action to restrict, prohibit, or remove public display of the Decalogue (Ten Commandments) or other religious symbols.” [P-11]

And "they call for less oversight and regulation of faith-based providers of social services. [P-18]

They would undermine the teaching of evolution in science classes by promoting “intelligent design”/creationism and the so-called “weaknesses” of theories such as evolution. [P-17] They do not acknowledge that evolution is the foundation of all the biological sciences and that scientists have repeatedly debunked arguments about so-called “weaknesses” of the theory.

They “oppose any sex education other than abstinence until heterosexual marriage.” That position would prohibit teaching students age-appropriate, medically accurate information about birth control and the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV.

They support congressional passage of the so-called “Constitution Restoration Act,” which would among other provisions, bar the U.S. Supreme Court from hearing and ruling in cases regarding governmental entities or officials who acknowledge “God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government.” The law would also permit the impeachment and removal of judges who listen to such cases. [P-10]

They would forbid judges from determining the constitutionality of laws and end Supreme Court jurisdiction in cases involving abortion, religious freedom and the Bill of Rights. It calls for the impeachment of judges who, through the subjective judgment of others, “abuse their authority.” [P-10]

They oppose affirmative action. “We believe it is simply racism disguised as a social value.” [P-9]

They oppose measures, such as “Motor Voter” laws and the “Help America Vote Act,” that make it easier for Americans to register and vote and help ensure that their votes will be accurately counted. They would also impose new requirements that make it harder for people to register to vote or maintain their voter registration. [P-10]

They would gut the Americans with Disabilities Act by excluding from its protections “those persons with infectious diseases, substance addiction, learning disabilities, behavior disorders, homosexual practices and mental stress.” [P-16]

They oppose no-fault divorce and supports “Covenant Marriage,” which would make it harder for abused spouses to escape domestic abuse. [P-12]

They oppose the right of gay and lesbian parents to adopt or even to have legal custody of their children and they would also bar visitation rights for gay and lesbian parents unless ordered by a court and supervised under government authority. [P-12, P-14]

And as you might imagine, for their own protection, they support repeal of the state’s hate crimes statute. (more)

And their hate just goes on from there.

Who are these religious fanatics

who would change our democracy into a theocracy?

Some nuts from West Texas?

No, they are the "Rs",

The Texas Taliban.

And they have created cells in every suburb.

They meet secretly in shopping malls and in big box stores.

One may even work in the office next to you.

They are everywhere.

Fear is their mantra,

hate is their craft.


Friday, June 20, 2008

A Change in Weather

We all know it.
We see it, we feel it, we sense it.

Now everyone does. (who reads)

We are changing the weather.

Here's the story from the Arizona Republic

Human activity fueling weird weather, U.S. says
Larry Wheeler
Gannett News Service
Jun. 20, 2008 12:00 AM

WASHINGTON - Thursday's report from the U.S. Climate Change Science Program is a synthesis of the latest research on extreme weather in the U.S. and comes after nearly six months that saw a record number of tornadoes, unusual winter warmth and record-setting precipitation in many regions.

It comes as the most extreme weather event so far this year, the Midwestern floods, continues to unfold.

The report said there is strong evidence the increasing frequency of extreme rain, heat, drought and tropical storms is caused by global climate change.

Most scientists believe that human activity is causing or accelerating global warming. "Changes in some weather and climate extremes are attributable to human-induced emissions of greenhouse gases," the study authors concluded.

Catastrophic rain

There is a 90 percent chance that catastrophic rain events, such as the one that led to the recent devastating floods in the Midwest, will increase in frequency as greenhouse gases build in the atmosphere, said Tom Karl, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Data Center.

Climate change likely played an important role in setting up conditions that led to the region's second 500-year flood event in 15 years, according to experts. (more)

The report also concluded that:

Human-caused warming likely has caused much of the increase in average and extreme temperatures observed in the U.S. over the past 50 years.

Heavy precipitation events have increased over the past 50 years. That's consistent with increases in atmospheric water vapor associated with human-caused increases in greenhouse gases.

Droughts are becoming more severe in some regions, though there are no clear national trends.•

The power and frequency of Atlantic hurricanes have increased substantially in recent decades, likely driven by human-caused increases in sea-surface temperatures."

So if you live close to a river, or a stream, and the river has never overflowed its banks before, that doesn't mean anything anymore.

And if you live close to a desert, and it's always rained before, that doesn't necessarily mean it's going to rain this year. And if your wells have never gone dry before...well, you get the point.

"There's a change in the weather.

There's a change in me."

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Foundational Beliefs for a Respectful Society

Seven Proposed Principles for a Practicing Respectist

The primary goal of a respectful individual and a respectful society is to practice and promote respect for self, others and place.

Failure to recognize the importance of respect is the human-made crisis that drives all other human-made crises.

No crisis suffered by human beings can be made better until enough concerned human beings give to the respect that binds us all.

Respect for self, others and place must be the hub principle for all human law, so that even a small child can see, understand and follow the rule from which all other rules are made.

Honest and listening dialogue is the essential tool for resolving conflict without violence, a failure of respect which should always be the absolute and true last resort in any necessary defense.

Respectful individuals must work together to readily identify those who abuse power and keep them from power.

Love is the soul of respect, and respect is the language of love.

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Perhaps respectism* is the necessary word, meaning that we don't just need respect, we need theory about its importance and possibility. In short, to get to the moon, we have to believe we can fly.

*"Respectism" is presently at 144 Google hits, many of them relating to Tou Ger Xiong's Project Respectism, "an educational service project that uses comedy, storytelling and rap music to bridge cultures and generations."

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Electric Gallon of Gas

A couple of weeks ago, I was visiting with one of those white haired senators from the South who rarely takes an opportunity to get out of ass kissing distance from the POTUS. But on this day, perhaps because he sees a tightening in his upcoming race, he wanted to be seen hanging out with folks who are trying to deal with the great issues we face in non-violent, creative ways.

You know, people who think that we should stop bombing those who have oil, and instead start retrieving all of our energy from the daily photon bombardment of our nearest nuclear star.

During his talk, he made some mention of oil prices and what a difficult issue it was. Given that oil prices have increased 10 fold in 10 years mostly under his party's leadership, I had to agree with him on that.

After his talk, I talked to him for a moment about the price of an electric gallon of gas.

"A what"? he said.

"An electric gallon of gas" I said. You know, if a plug in hybrid or other electric car can get 3-4 miles per KWh, depending on the size and load of the vehicle, and it cost 10 cents a KWh, and you compare that with a gasoline vehicle that gets 30 to 40 miles per gallon; then, the electric gallon of gas cost the consumer about a dollar.

I went through the calculation one more time for him and you know, I think he got it.

Sure, he will vote to drill anywhere his oil masters say, but I'm pretty sure that he's also going to support plug in legislation too.

And according to the National Plug In Hybrid blog, we will all soon be able to buy sophisticated plug in vehicles from GM, Toyota, and Nissan by 2010, with Ford, Volvo, and a host of others following right behind.

This is important because here in Texas, we are getting ready to spend a lot of money to bring more wind and solar energy from the resource dense areas in the west to the load centers in the center of the state. We are even going to build enough capacity to begin to strain the system at night when the load drops down substantially.

Those who want to oppose this build out see that as a problem. Those who want to see as much non- carbon energy in our total energy mix as possible, see it as an opportunity to seriously penetrate the transportation sector.

And as it looks right now, the new breed of cars will be here by the time the transmission lines are finished. That will allow some Texans to charge their cars at night for 10 cents/ KWh and in the not so distant future, sell some of that power back to the grid at 4 dollars/ KWh at five in the hot summer afternoon.

That's right, last week MWhs of electricity were selling for $4,000.00 a MWh during these hot summer afternoons. Theoretically, you could buy at 10 cents after you get to work, retop your electric tank (which only holds about 10 KWhs) for about a dollar, and for each Kwh you sell back in the afternoon at 4 dollars, you make a profit of 3 dollars.

If the utility had 100,000 of these new cars on V to G (vehicle to grid), it would be the equivalent of bringing a major 100 MW gas turbine on line.

If everyone played in this game, it would be the equivalent a major nuclear plant.

Not a bad plan really.

We get affordable renewable non polluting transportation fuel that is produced locally. In turn, that allows more renewables to be brought on line. We reduce our peaking generation needs, and we unify the stationary generation and transportation sectors, thus, reducing our overall energy infrastucture investment. And, we don't have to bomb anybody to do it.

The good news is.

We are doing it.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Not Prophecy

Over the weekend, I mentioned to someone that I have read the Book of Revelation about thirty times during my life. I may have exaggerated, but not by much (3 fold). When I was really young, and mean like 10, I was one of those Bible Wonks who read the weird stuff in Revelation, and in Jonah, and in Daniel.

In all this prophetic story telling, there is some pretty interesting stuff.

One of the ideas that you hear of is the prophecy of "food for oil". But actually, Revelations 6:6 doesn't really talk about that, even if the Christianoids of the day do. It does talk about a denarius for a cup of wheat though. And that's about a days wages, not a penny.

Nevertheless, whether or not the" oil for food" idea is predicted, it's now becoming a reality. Here's the story from Planet Ark:

Food Supply Fears Mirror Oil Worries at Saudi Summit

DUBAI - Saudi Arabia's emergency energy meeting next week brings together Western consumer countries threatened by soaring oil prices with Arab producers worried about scarce food supplies.

Record oil prices and their impact on the industrialised world will no doubt dominate the agenda, but food security could also feature as arid Middle East states worry about affordably feeding their rapidly growing populations.

Poor harvests, low stocks and rising demand have sent food prices to record highs, stoking protests, strikes and violence in Africa, Latin America, Asia and the Middle East. Dwindling water makes the issue more dramatic for the Gulf Arab region.

"We are entering a new arena here," said chief economist John Sfakianakis at Saudi-based SABB bank.

"Just as Saudi Arabia is saying to the world, we will supply you with enough oil, they want the world to say to them, we will supply you with enough food."

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, in Jeddah on Sunday ahead of the summit, linked the issues seamlessly and called on participants to address the issues together. "The issues of food prices, fuel prices and climate change should be addressed in a comprehensive manner," Ban said.

While the pursuit of food security is nothing new to the Middle East -- a region that enjoys less rainfall and imports more food than anywhere on earth -- the stakes are higher this time because of the role of oil. (more)

It is rather remarkable that the places with oil can't grow food, and the places which tend to be able to grow food, don't have much oil. (Texas and Russia are big exceptions)

And even though that sounds like a perfect recipe for peaceful, healthy cooperation, it is also the necessary ingredients for a face off in a world gone crazy with competition and control. Moreover, as Americans convert more food into fuel for their SUV's, that competition grows even more twisted and complex.

There are a lot people who believe the Bible depicts an "end time" and that we are in it. And whether or not you know anything about the rapture or the seventh seal, it doesn't take a degree in the predictive sciences, expertise with the Mayan calender, or a session with your favorite psychic to know that the world we know today, will likely not be the world of tomorrow pretty dang soon.

And that is not prophesy, that is a prediction.

Which leads me to another point.

I think that most prophecies are just that... predictions.

If you see someone traveling at a high speed in a SUV

on a highway towards a brick wall,

you can predict that he will hit the wall,

and that it will be the "end of the SUV". (maybe the wall too)

Call it a prophecy if you want.

But if the person driving has been given a map,

and it clearly shows a brick wall around the corner,

he just might use that map, that prediction, the prophecy,

to change his course.

That's what the Book of Jonah is about.

but that's another story.

cartoon courtesy of cartoon stock

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Wired gets Weird

I've got big stacks of Wired magazines in my house and office. I've been taking it since the beginning I think. I love the way the colored checker boarded spines look once you've got a year or so piled up. And for many a years, this magazine has been a great source of all things "post 93".

The other day, it occured to me that I had actually let my subscription run out. You know, you get those cards that say, no kidding, we aren't going to send these things if you don't pay us. Well, I guess after maybe 15 years, I must have stopped paying.

And it seems that it is just as well. You can always go to the web site, and Wired has been trending towards tired ever since the world went wireless anyway. And now it seems, they have also become plain old lame.

The offending article is in the 6.16 edition and is entitled "Inconvenient Truths: Get Ready to Rethink What It Means to Be Green"

Here are the 10 Truthinessisms:

Inconvenient Truths:
Get Ready to Rethink What it Means to Be Green

1: Live in Cities
Organics Are Not The Answer
Farm the Forests
China Is the Solution
Accept Genetic Engineering
Carbon Trading Doesn't Work
Embrace Nuclear Power
Used Cars — Not Hybrids
Prepare for the Worst

Now, there is a really good piece at Real Climate which pretty much exposes many of these inconvenient truths to be what they are, poorly considered thinking or even worse, plain o garden variety sophistry.

On the used car idea they say:

"The rest of the advice WIRED gives makes even less sense. They say that if you want to be green, you ought to buy a used Civic or something like that, not a Prius. That's because the used car already has the manufacturing carbon emissions "written down" (or, I guess at least the carbon guilt accrues to the original owner, not that the atmospheric radiative forcing is going to care much about that).

However, this advice, sensible-sounding though it is — ignores the fact that to make that used car available to you, the original owner almost certainly had to buy something else, and probably that was a new car, or at least a newer one. So, for the scheme to work, you'd have to buy your used Civic from somebody who was giving up driving altogether."

Real Climate also debunks the AC idea as well as the new forest idea.

And, once again, like the Future of Energy article that I wrote about in Mother Jones , Nuclear Energy is given the proverbial green light, as the author chooses to minimize the vast amount of CO2 that is emitted in the nuclear fuel processing process, the CO2 that is emitted to make the concrete in the plant, or any of the other areas of the fuel cycle, including decommissioning and waste disposal where energy is embedded. (Note: the author quotes a British report that puts these emissions at 5%).
On a positive note, I agree with the authors about carbon trading and the need to move to a simple carbon fee. I also agree that well designed dense communities should be the wave of the future.

But the last inconvenient truth is to"prepare for the worst".

"The awful truth is that some amount of climate change is a foregone conclusion. The Electric Power Research Institute in Palo Alto, California, calculates that even if the US, Europe, and Japan turned off every power plant and mothballed every car today, atmospheric CO2 would still climb from the current 380 parts per million to a perilous 450 ppm by 2070, thanks to contributions from China and India. (Do nothing and we'll get there by 2040.)

In short, we're already at least lightly browned toast. It's time to think about adapting to a warmer planet."

And then, at the end, the article quotes from the New Nuker of our age, Stewart Brand, "We are as gods and might as well get good at it."

We're in charge here. Let's get to work."

Lightly browned toast huh?
How do you run your AC and prepare for the worst?

Maybe the publishers should just go on and change the name to


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Sunday, June 15, 2008

A Last Call

Even as the 'R's manage to scuttle the American response to global warming, a prestigious group from the our sister nation down under has called for an urgent response, a last call, for their country to change course and fashion an effective response that is consistent with the grave challenge that we face:

The group, which includes some of the country's leading scientists, population, and health experts - as well as politicians, says that global warming is accelerating at a greater speed than previously thought and the window of opportunity for avoiding severe consequences is rapidly closing.

JOINT STATEMENT: Last call on Climate Change

Global warming is accelerating. The Arctic summer sea ice is expected to melt entirely within the next five years, - decades earlier than predicted in the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 4th Assessment Report.

Scientists judge the risks to humanity of dangerous global warming to be high. The Great Barrier Reef faces devastation. Extreme weather events, such as storm surges adding to rising sea levels and threatening coastal cities, will become increasingly frequent.

There is a real danger that we have reached or will soon reach critical tipping points and the future will be taken out of our hands. The melting Arctic sea ice could be the first such tipping point.

Beyond 2ºC of warming, seemingly inevitable unless greenhouse gas reduction targets are tightened, we risk huge human and societal costs and perhaps even the effective end of industrial civilisation. We need to cease our assault on our own life support system, and that of millions of species. Global warming is only one of many symptoms of that assault.

Peak oil, global warming and long term sustainability pressures all require that we reduce energy needs and switch to alternative energy sources. Many credible studies show that Australia can quickly and cost-effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions through dramatic improvements in energy efficiency and by increasing our investment in solar, wind and other renewable sources.

The need for action is extremely urgent and our window of opportunity for avoiding severe impacts is rapidly closing. Yet the obstacles to change are not technical or economic, they are political and social.

We know democratic societies have responded successfully to dire and immediate threats, as was demonstrated in World War II.

This is a last call for an effective response to global warming."

And yet, even as floods careen through our cities and farms in some part as a result of our inability to overcome the political, social, and economic inertia that has frozen our body politic into a slow lumbering kamakazi, we remain docile.

We will lose our home, a habitable earth, our mother,

Because we failed to look up to our father, the original energy,

The Sun.

Last Call.

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