Recently in Environment Category

"I don't like obscene profits being made anywhere. I'd be glad to look not just at the windfall profits tax -- that's not what bothers me -- but we should look at any incentives that we are giving to people, or industries or corporations, that are distorting the markets."

---- McCain speaking on May 5 in North Carolina.

"[Obama] wants a windfall profits tax on oil, to go along with the new taxes he also plans for coal and natural gas. If the plan sounds familiar, it's because that was President Jimmy Carter's big idea, too. And a lot of good it did us."

---- McCain, speaking on June 17 in (oil-rich) Texas.

Even CNN is beginning to notice McCain's flip-flops.

How much longer before McCain's reputation as a straight-talker is shot to hell?

  • Congratulations to Al Gore. Wow -- an Oscar, an Emmy, and a Nobel all in one year. Not even Liza Minelli did that.

  • Why is everyone so upset with Ann Coulter? She's only said what any Christian learns from the time they start Sunday School. And another thing: if she's so heinous why does CNBC (or NBC, or CNN or FNC) put her on the air in the first place? Lastly, isn't it true that you can be a girl and still have a Y chromosome? IJS.

  • "Hunh. A resolution condemning genocide. I think you gotta go 'yes' with that one. [If not], what is the right response to historic mass killings? Historic mass flowers?"

  • And, speaking on behalf of the entire Armenian community, I would like to say we are thrilled that Aasif Mandvi has been named The Daily Show's Senior Armeniologist.

  • I read the Wall Street Journal and I know they loooooove to complain that the richest 10% of Americans already pay 2/3 of all taxes, as though that proves their taxes are too high. What you never hear is what percentage of their total income this tax load represents. When THAT number reaches 30-50% or more (as it does for middle-class families) then we can talk about taxes being too high. Not only that: I say they should be paying 90% or more of all taxes in this country. And if they want to become tax exiles, then good riddance. They weren't real Americans after all, were they?

  • George W. Bush can grow up a mean, nasty, coke-snorting drunk but once he accepted Jesus, it wiped the slate clean. Rudy Giuliani can rail against the gun lobby as Mayor of New York, but in a post-9/11world he's in bed with the NRA -- and they're on top. So what now for Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of the first terrorist attack on the World Trade Center -- now that he's accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior? Maybe he and Ann Coulter can go on a National Reconciliation Tour.

Last week Miss Julie and I hosted a MoveOn house party in conjunction with the Live Earth events around the world. We hosted several dozen people, half of whom were people we hadn't met before (and were super nice). One of the things we were asked to do was show the Virtual Town Hall candidates forum. The Dem candidates offered up an opening statement and then took questions from MoveOn members. [Note: the question posed to Barack Obama was asked by -- surprise! -- Robert Reich.] Anyway, when all was said and done, MoveOn asked everyone to vote online for their favorite candidate.


Here are how members ranked the candidates' plans (remember, this does not imply a MoveOn endorsement):
Sen. John Edwards—33.10%
Rep. Dennis Kucinich—15.73%
Sen. Hillary Clinton—15.71%
Sen. Barack Obama—15.03%
Gov. Bill Richardson—12.60%
Sen. Joe Biden—3.06%
Sen. Chris Dodd—3.01%
Sen. Mike Gravel—1.78%

by shep

It is now becoming clear that, without some dramatic progress on carbon sequestration or an even more dramatic and potentially dangerous act of desperation, the earth’s climate is headed toward a disastrous tipping point in our, or our children’s, lifetimes.

To recap:

Arguments against:
It gets hot every epoch or so
Scientists are sometimes wrong
We might get hit by an asteroid, so WTF
The commies hate my Hummer
The Sun is hot
Even if true, it probably wouldn’t kill everything and I could grow coconuts in Minnesota
Science is hard

Arguments for:
Spiking CO2
Measurable warming
Melting glaciers, ice sheets and frozen tundra
Increasing cycles of floods and droughts
Rising sea levels
Dying tropical reefs
Dying species and strange migrations of animals, plants and diseases.

So, what should be done? If the methane-spewing cow is out of the barn, why go out in the heat to close the barn door now?

Because, even if we learn how to capture and sequester carbon and filter the sun by blasting sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere, we still have good reasons to wean ourselves off our carbon fuel addiction:

1) We can. We started using fossil fuels for our energy needs in the century before last. It replaced whale oil. Considering how far our technology has come since then, to say that this is a cultural throwback is an understatement of epoch proportions. Even though the idea gives the CEO of Exxon Mobile the dry heaves, he and his ilk are the only ones who won’t profit mightily by developing new alternatives.

2) It makes us wage stupid, bloody wars. Need I say more here?

3) Since a great deal of our energy consumption goes to complete waste, the cost of doing something can be quite small. What does it cost to build our houses facing south to take advantage of solar gain? Who doesn’t want to be able to work from home when there’s no need to slog through traffic to the office? You actually save money by walking or riding a bike instead of driving.

4) It would be good for us in many other ways. Dismantling the factory farming system and Chinese food imports in favor of locally cultivated food might cost a little more money but at least you’ll be alive to regret it. And advanced nations that get out of the business of making things lose lower skill jobs and become beholden to other nations to lend them money to buy the stuff they make.

Or, let’s all take a fossil-fueled cruise down that river in Egypt. Let’s face it: our technology expanded faster than our wisdom. Natural systems seeks stasis; wiping mankind off the planet is Mother Nature’s way of restoring earth’s equilibrium.

by shep

Yup, if you don’t have an important face-to –face meeting at the office tomorrow, or the next day, or the next…tell your boss you’d like to work from home.

In the age of ubiquitous high-speed home internet access, cellular telecommunications, VoIP, video capable computer monitors, WiFi hot spots and GHz-fast home computers, what could be stupider than millions of us slogging through miles of crawling traffic at the exact same hour of each day so we can sit in a cube and phone and e-mail each other?

About 114.5 million people commuted to work in 2004 with a round trip of around 30 miles at roughly 21 mpg.

What if government provided incentives to business to telecommute say 15 or 20 or 25 percent of its employees each day of the work week. They could be different employees, based upon what they needed to do, or some of the same employees who mostly work by phone or email anyway (e.g., sales and customer service employees). (BTW, this is happening now on a growing scale in progressively managed companies because they’ve done the math and know that: 1) individual employee productiveness goes up and 2) they can reduce brick-and-mortar and other costs associated with a large office-based workforce.)

That’s more than 40 million gallons of gasoline that could be saved each year with this one measure, which increases productivity and reduces corporate brick-and mortar costs. That's without considering the 5.7 billion gallons of gas and $100 billion lost from resulting rush-hour congestion.

Only the shortcomings of own management psychology prevents us from implementing this (and probably many other) cost and pollution-saving changes. I’ve helped develop telecommuting policy for $multi-million organizations, only to see them be relegated to “don’t ask, don’t tell” policies that result in little or no increase in the advantageous use of telecommuting. The reason: executives and managers don’t believe they can trust their employees if they’re not in the office, regardless of the data. Not to mention that, for many mid-level managers, their jobs would be even more redundant without the responsibility of glorified babysitter.

My favorite repost to those managers is, “look around you; could these employees be any less productive than they are at the office? It’s the office that provides endless opportunities to socialize and chat, compared with the home-office." Granted, that has a value that mangers also seldom grasp but those benefits (esprit de corps, comraderie, peer competition, etc.) can be easily achieved with one fewer day in the office per week – at least.

It's way past time to get our heads out of our traditional boxes, whether they be cars, cubicles or 20th-century MBA orthodoxy.

(Cross-posted at Queen of All Evil)

Go ahead -- click to send a postcard to Congress asking them to act on global warming. Al Gore will be delivering the cards to Congress when he testifies there next week.


"My number one rule is to keep that camera rolling. Even if it's shaky or slightly out of focus, I don't give a rip. Even if a big old alligator is chewing me up I want to go down and go, 'Crikey!' just before I die. That would be the ultimate for me."

----Steve Irwin, Crocodile Hunter, on how he wanted to die.

News reports say that tapes of his demise are currently being held by Queensland police - but Irwin's family are determined to respect his last wishes and allow the harrowing footage to be broadcast.

We can all rest easy:

Do you think Gore is right on global warming?
I think we have a problem on global warming. I think there is a debate about whether it's caused by mankind or whether it's caused naturally, but it's a worthy debate. It's a debate, actually, that I'm in the process of solving by advancing new technologies, burning coal cleanly in electric plants, or promoting hydrogen-powered automobiles, or advancing ethanol as an alternative to gasoline.
Somebody call Gore -- he can stand down now.

I reading Rising Tide, the history of the 1927 Missisippi River flood. The book contains a lot of history prior to 1927. The common thread throughout that time was the utter cluelessness of engineers and scientists concerning the power of the river and what it would take to try to channel it and tame it. It seems as if they made all the wrong decisions for all the wrong reasons -- political and financial.

I thought of that when I saw the trailer to this film about global warming:

Here's the blurb from the web site:

The most terrifying movie of the summer. You owe it to the planet to see the truth. Pledge to see An Inconvenient Truth opening weekend.

In theaters:
May 24 - New York and Los Angeles
June 2 - Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto, Vancouver, Washington D.C.
June 9 - Atlanta, Detroit, Houston, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Denver, Sacramento, St. Louis, San Diego, Miami, Baltimore, Portland
June 16 - in theaters everywhere

Add this trailer to your [] Playlist, Favorites or Subscriptions and we'll add you to our Friends so you can receive bulletins about upcoming free screenings in your area.


If you want to be energy-independent (and Democrats intend to achieve that in 10 years) and if you want to reduce our dependence on foreign oil (and therefore improve our national security situation) you can't do it if you're a Republican because you are too wedded to the oil companies. We have two oil men in the White House. The logical follow-up from that is $3 a gallon gasoline. It is no accident -- it is a cause and effect.
Bush's response?
"You just got to recognize there are limits to how much corn can be used for ethanol," he said, standing in front of a bucolic mural. "After all, we got to eat some."
I kid you not.

Here's the thing: I like her energy and her passion on this. I also like how mentions that energy independence is the starting point for national security. And, lastly, how Republicans aren't going to lead us to energy independence (and therefore national security).

Bush, on the other hand, is just flailing.


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