April 6, 2017 by John Crapper
Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore but Greensburg is and it’s green energy wonderland! I wish Alice was here to click her slippers and transport all of America to follow the Greensburg developmental yellow brick road.
Greensburg is a city in, and the county seat of, Kiowa County, Kansas, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 777….
In the evening of May 4, 2007, Greensburg was devastated by an EF5 tornado that traveled rapidly through the area, leveling at least 95 percent of the city and killing eleven people between the ages of 46 and 84…
After the tornado, the city council passed a resolution stating that all city buildings would be built to LEED – platinum standards, making it the first city in the nation to do so.
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is one of the most popular green building certification programs used worldwide. Developed by the non-profit U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) it includes a set of rating systems for the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of green buildings, homes, and neighborhoods that aims to help building owners and operators be environmentally responsible and use resources efficiently.
For three years after the disaster the Department of Energy (DOE) and National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) worked with the city to incorporate energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies into the town’s rebuilding efforts.
Greensburg built a 12.5 megawatt wind facility which generates enough energy to power 4,000 homes. Financing was provided by the Rural Development Agency at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The town achieved many firsts for the country and the state of Kansas, including:
- The first LEED Platinum municipal building in Kansas (SunChips® Business Incubator)
- The first LEED Platinum critical access hospital in the United States (Kiowa County Memorial Hospital)
- The first residential LEED Platinum building in Kansas (Prairie Pointe Townhomes).
Now this is the kind of disaster capitalism we need in our world!
But instead we have the kind described in Naomi Klein’s book The Shock Doctrine “The Rise of Disaster Capitalism” where with the assistance of the IMF and World Bank governments are “saved” from financial ruin but only if private business interests get access to valuable resources and institutions. This disaster capitalism we see being practiced on a broad based scale around the world can be summed up as follows:
- Wait for a major crisis (Hurricane Katrina, Greece) or invent one (Iraq)
- As a price for assistance sell off pieces of the state or extract lucrative contracts to private players while citizens are still reeling from the shock of the disaster.
- Finally, quickly make the “reforms” permanent.
And that is really SHOCKing and AWEful because now we have a President who is a proponent of this kind of capitalism.
Looks like we’ll have to wait a little longer for Greensburg fairytales!
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February 23, 2017 by John Crapper
I have a very comforting recurring dream. But a dream is just a dream but with the election of the Donald I’m beginning to live a nightmare I never thought possible.
I haven’t been sleeping that well lately. I think it’s because with the election of the Donald I’m beginning to live a nightmare I’d never thought possible. Rex Tillerson, former head of Exxon Mobile and good friends with Vladimir Putin as Secretary of State. Scott Pruitt, a close ally of the fossil fuel industry heading the Environmental Protection Agency. Rick Perry, who in 2011 proposed scrapping it, to head the Energy Department . This real life reality couldn’t be more frightening.
Tonight I’m really weary. I hope, for once, I’ll be able to get a good night’s sleep. I lay my head on my pillow and soon I drift away. I once again dream the recurring dream of my life. It’s comforting.
The dream begins the same each time. I’m looking onto a conference room where a group of economists are in deep discussion rethinking their basic assumptions. The school of thought and the Keynesian school of thought are being discussed. The economists begin challenging their assumptions and formulating a new way of economic analysis; the Ass-forward, waste-end first, Soft and Fluffy economic theory.
Constant economic growth based on increases in consumption and consumer spending is questioned. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is questioned as a misleading measure of a nation’s wealth. The group develops a new concept they coin the Gross Renewable Energy Product (GREP).
GREP postulates that wealth, on the one hand, be measured in terms of the energy needed to do things: the ability to grow crops, to make products, to move goods, to improve efficiency, to pass on information, to help others. On the other hand, they conclude that wealth needs to be measured by the drain on resources and the damage obtaining the energy does to the environment. They conclude that creating more energy from non-polluting renewable sources will enable mankind to do more with fewer resources and less pollution.
The scene fades and my thoughts drift to the 2018 mid-term election. I dream it is the biggest wave election in the history of the country. Gone are the climate change deniers. Gone are the mouthpieces for the fossil fuel industry. Candidates who believe in the promise of the Shitty Way of Life are elected across the country.
The President’s agenda is threatened as a result of the election. Within 6 months the President, sensitive to criticism, decides he needs to dramatically change direction. He meets with the group of economists and adopts the Gross Renewable Energy Product (GREP) definition of wealth.
My dream shifts to the President giving his State of the Union speech. He declares a war, this time not against a country or a mad dictator but on our nation’s dependency on fossil fuel.
The President appeals to people’s sense of patriotism and resurrects his “Make America Great Again” slogan to resounding applause.
He announces an Energy New Deal . He convenes an emergency session of Congress calling on them toenact the necessary legislation granting him the executive authority he needs. His goals are to end our dependency on foreign oil and reduce CO2 emissions to 350 ppm in 10 years.
Next, the dream shifts to the TV. The President is addressing the nation and calling on people to do more than just be vigilant in the fight against terrorism. He draws a connection between oil consumption and the funding of groups like ISIL and Al Queda.
During his TV address he announces the implementation of the “ass-forward commuting program. It halves the number of vehicles on the road during commuting times by requiring all commuters to fill their cars to capacity on their way to work.
Next, I see a headline in a paper announcing gas consumption has dropped roughly 40% and commuting times have been reduced an average of 50% .
I next hear people conversing making positive statements about not having to be behind the wheel each and every day.
The scene shifts and I see the President once again sitting behind his desk signing an executive order. Similar to the ban on civilian car production during WWII, car manufacturers are being ordered to cease production of gas and diesel vehicles and instructed to concentrate exclusively on the production of electric ones.
The scene shifts once again. I see the President on TV declaring there will be no more Fukushimas , Chernobyls, or Three Mile Islands. He announces plans to scrap nuclear fission electrical generation. A schedule is outlined for the systematic shut down of all existing nuclear power plants within 10 years.
Again, my dream shifts to the President cautioning consumers on the hazards of consumer diarrhea. He encourages manufacturers to analyze their products from the waste-end perspective. He proclaims the days of producing anything and everything that can possibly be sold for profit are gone forever. He introduces the concept of Soft and Fluffy Consumerism.
My dream shifts again to overlooking a city where every parcel of land is being used to grow crops in a nationwide patriotic effort to produce everything locally.
Again I see a headline in a local paper informing the public of a compulsory national service program requiring young people to serve their country for a minimum of 2 years. The first thrust of the program: a massive reforestation program.
I dream the President convenes an Ecological Sanitation Summit bringing world experts in eco-san technology together to discuss and develop an action plan to restructure the way we currently handle our feces. Its promise: to transition our sanitation systems from a flush away sewage treatment plant model to treating human excrement as a valuable resource.
Just as the dream first began I am once again looking onto a conference room where engineers are planning for this sanitation transformation.
The first soft rays of the sun enter my bedroom and I slowly emerge from my deep and peaceful sleep. For a few brief moments I’m comforted in the fleeting thoughts of my dream only to become fully cognizant of the nightmare I am again realizing. I begin a new day in my real life daytime nightmare.
Category Climate Change, Ecological Sanitation, Economy, Environment | Tags: capitalism, Climate Change, consumer diarrhea, Consumerism, Ecological sanitation, Energy, Environment, Fossil fuel, Global Warming, Sanitation, Soft and Fluffy Consumerism, Super-consumerism, Sustainable energy, thinking
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August 24, 2015 by John Crapper
Definition of a boondoggle: An unnecessary or wasteful project or activity.
Bertha is a 57 foot diameter tunnel boring machine built specifically to till the tunnel to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement tunnel.
Boondoggle One: I’ve previously written about Bertha, Seattle’s Tunnel Project, which aims to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct. It is now two years behind schedule, seriously over budget and the timeline for restarting drilling continues to be a moving target. It is not slated to begin drilling again until around Thanksgiving.Alaskan Way Viaduct
Boondoggle Two: Right alongside Bertha is the Alaskan Way Seawall. Friday it was announced that that project too is behind schedule and seriously over budget.
SEATTLE – The new Alaskan Way Seawall will not be done on time nor on budget. That’s the word from the Seattle Department of Transportation which, for months, had hailed the project as a shining example of how it can handle major projects. It was scheduled to be completed by 2016, on time and on budget, leaders said. But, SDOT Director Scott Kubly admits the department underestimated the true cost and time needed to make the repair.
In 2012 voters approved a bond measure of $290 million to repair the seawall. Soon afterwards the budget for the project rose to $300 million. Quietly, that number rose to $330 million.
Now Kubly says it will take $409 million — more than 33% over the original budget — to complete. He also says it will take an additional year to build and won’t be completed until 2017.
Kubly admits it hasn’t been the most efficient process and has cost time and money. He also says a decision on “water management” and stabilizing the soil on the east side of the project has also proved costly. SDOT went with a “soil freeze,” said Kubly. That process, which involves a labyrinth of pipes, freezes water below the surface and provides a buffer to prevent liquefaction and any erosion, especially in the event of a quake.
Oh, so “it hasn’t been the most efficient process and it has cost time and money”. It happens that my wife and I traveled adjacent to this project every day Monday thru Thursday on our way to teach our ESL classes. We made a game out of counting how many people were standing around instead of working. The rule of thumb we came up with was three people watching while one person operating a piece of heavy equipment. Day in and day out this is what we witnessed.
And then there was the literal parking lot of heavy equipment lined up along the construction site with barely enough room to maneuver. That game count was more along the lines of four pieces of heavy equipment sitting idle while one was in use.
So yes, I can certainly agree with the statement “it hasn’t been the most efficient process and has cost time and money”.
So how is this cost overrun going to be paid for? Here are the options currently on the table.
A commercial parking tax, which is part of a revenue stream which could go to future large capital projects, like streetcars and bridge replacements A real estate excise tax, which is part of a fund dedicated to additional road maintenance and system enhancements Waterfront parking revenue A Waterway fund, which is from fee revenue generated from “waterway use permits”
Kolby was described as coy about the fallout from this cost overrun but it is just another example of a high profile project being delayed and over budget.
And the timing of this announcement is not opportune for another reason. Kubly and Mayor Murray are pitching a $930 million transportation levy to voters for a fall vote.
Remember that saying that these kinds of things happen in threes. Think about that before you vote for that transportation levy. I think we can assume that the projects the levy is meant to fund will run over budget. And it also behooves us all to examine closely where that money will be spent. It could be (and probably will be) boondoggle three!
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December 4, 2014 by John Crapper
It was 1992. My wife Kathy, Jonathan, Joanie and myself, all teachers at Ruamrudee International School, gathered together as we often did to talk about school, our lives and things happening in our world. Most nights we were drinking way too much beer while attempting to solve the world’s problems but on this particular night we were teetotalers.
When I blurted out the Holy Shitters concept and began in earnest filling in some details I remember Kathy repeatedly saying, “How long have you been thinking about this? I don’t believe you’ve never told me about this before! The four of us, sober as could be, brainstormed for hours and hours that night expanding on the concept. Oh how I wish I had recorded our conversation. The creativity was sure flowing. The pope became the poop and the popemobile become the poopmobile. The genuflect turned into the squat. Holy water took on a whole new meaning as toilets became the imagined places of worship. It was a pretty “shitty” night.
Almost two decades later I finally started to get serious about the concept and began writing the book. I could say I wish I would’ve started sooner but that is just water under the bridge now. It wasn’t the right time for a number of reasons.
In 2010, when I started in earnest on the project, the world was a pretty ass-backward place. Barack Obama was President. When he took office in 2008 the US was experiencing the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. There was an unpopular Wall Street bailout to save the financial system. A huge stimulus package was passed by Congress to prop up consumer demand and save jobs. On inauguration day there was a great sense of optimism in the country. That feeling quickly faded, however.
In 2010 US dependency on foreign oil stood at 49% of the total having gone down from its peak in 2005 but still dangerously high. Drill baby drill was the mantra of the Republican Party during the mid-term elections. They were swept into power in the House of Representatives and gained seats in the Senate. They campaigned promising jobs, jobs, jobs but once in office passed laws that attacked worker’s rights to unionize, a women’s right to choose, Planned Parenthood and women’s access to contraception. They pushed for ever greater tax cuts for the wealthy while trying to gut the social safety net for the middle and lower income brackets.
In 2012 approval of the Keystone Pipeline became a big issue and building of the first nuclear power plants since the accident at Three-Mile Island were approved. The Citizens United supreme court decision had opened up the floodgates of campaign contributions from billionaires and the Koch brothers were fully engaged in protecting their fossil fuel interests. During this time mankind’s relationship with the environment was as far away from “Soft and Fluffy” as it would ever be. For the US the early warning sign that something seriously wrong was happening to the climate came in August of 2005 with the arrival of Hurricane Katrina. It was the costliest national disaster in US history. In 2011 NOAA scientists reported that 2010 tied with 2005 as the warmest year for the global surface temperature since record keeping began in 1880. It was also the 34th consecutive year with global temperatures above the 20th century average. In 2012 long-term study showed that the biggest trees in the world were dying off rapidly as roads as they came under attack from severe droughts, new pests and diseases. Evidence of global warming was considered unequivocal, with scientists being more than 90% certain that most of it was caused by increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases produced by human activities such as deforestation and the burning of fossil fuels. Yet organizations such as the Heartland Institute were busy disseminating misinformation and doubt about climate change and pushing to have a deceptive curriculum introduced in public schools to mislead youth in their science studies.
Leading up to the presidential election of 2012 political gridlock was the norm and bi-partisanship was becoming a distant memory. The campaign itself ranked as the dirtiest mud-slinging campaign in the history of the country. Barack Obama ended up being elected to a second term but the policies he proposed were still largely obstructed since the House came under the control of the climate change denying Republicans while the Republicans in the Senate continued to use the filibuster to obstruct passage of legislation.
The mid-term elections of 2014 were a disaster for both President Obama, the Democrats and the environment. Control of both the Senate and House of Representatives ended up in Republican control. Senator James Inhofe, the famous climate denier became chair of the Environment Committee in the Senate.
In early 2016 The Holy Shitters was first published. The book offered new way of looking at the world and mankind’s place in it. The Church called it the ass-forward way of thinking. Once released word spread fast. Overnight the book and website went viral. Membership in the Church of the Holy Shitters grew exponentially. Progressive movements quickly coalesced under its banner and disparate groups began communicating and coordinating in innovative ways. Apassholes were appointed and began writing in their areas of expertise further defining and giving greater detail to the Shitty Way of Life.
Pressure soon mounted on the established political structure calling for dramatic change. The stage was set.
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September 11, 2014 by John Crapper
What is wealth? When you think about it wealth is really the ability to do things: the ability to grow crops, to make products, to move goods, to improve efficiency, to pass on information, to help others. But it is much more than that in my opinion. It seems to me that wealth is intrinsically tied into the concept of the quality of one’s life too. You can have a shitload of money but if you can’t do anything with the cash it doesn’t do you much good.
Economists usually speak of wealth in terms of production of goods and services and consumption of those goods and services. This is largely what constitutes the Gross Domestic Product of a country. Stock brokers value wealth in terms of the price of stocks and the value of one’s portfolio. But when a person consumes something isn’t that a measure of ones’s wealth being drained rather than added to? I know when my cupboard is bare and I have to go to the store to re-provision myself I come home with less cash in my pocket. Production and consumption seem to be poor measures of wealth.
Let’s go back to my original statement on the definition of wealth. What is the most important thing to have to be able to do anything? The obvious answer is money, right? Absolutely wrong! Money is not even close to being the right answer to this question. This is the ass-backward way of thinking our capitalist culture brainwashes us into believing is the answer.
Before answering this question I want you to do a little Church of the Holy Shittters experiment for me. Take a plastic bag and put it tightly over your head. Leave it there for 1 minute. After time has expired remove the bag. Do you find yourself gulping in air in a semi-frantic fashion? Now you have your answer to the question. There is a saying among asthmatics. “When you can’t breathe nothing else matters. It sort of inhibits a person’s ability to do things. It is kind of important for “quality of life”. It is, in my opinion, the most basic measurement of what constitutes wealth. Remember the saying “you can’t take it with you”.
Now that you’re a little wiser with regard to real wealth what do you think is the second thing needed? Did you answer water? If you did you’re on the right track to being very rich. How about the third thing? Did you answer food? You’re going to be a millionaire before you know it. Now that you’ve got the hang of things your probably ready to provide the next answers of food, shelter and clothing (in that order) all by yourself. And to round out the definition of wealth as defined by the Church of the Holy Shitters we throw in good health as the last but not least component. If you have all these things you can have a very good “quality of life” and therefore have wealth.
Ultimately all wealth comes from nature. We consume something from nature by using energy. Ultimately all energy comes from the sun. Consuming inherently involves acquiring and using different things found on Earth. Consumption also involves altering whatever it is we are consuming to get what we need from the substance.
Nature operates in a circular path. There are many (life/death, eat/sleep, eat/poop etc). It is a system of self-perpetuating circles optimally in balance with each other. When the balance within a circle or between circles is disturbed nature will take steps to correct the imbalance. This is the concept that “everything is related to everything else in our universe”. It is the concept that all things return to the Earth in some fashion after consumption. If they return in a natural (within the circle) state there is no problem. If they cycle back in an unnatural state there is a problem.
All of this may sound very simplistic and it is meant to be. As humans we tend to over-complicate things and loose sight of what is really important; what is the truth; what is the essence of an issue. This is especially true when it comes to our conception of wealth. We complicate it, obscure it, and confuse it because of our super-consumer diarrhea mindset.
Let me point out just a few examples of just how brainwashed and ass-backward society’s thinking is in this regard.
1. It is well known that some of the richest farmland is located at the alluvial fans (deltas) of rivers. Yet at the mouth of all major rivers around the world you see major cities. Cities are not where we grow food. How much more prime agricultural land can be taken for houses and office buildings? How much more can the food circle take?
2. If you put a tailpipe into the passenger area of a vehicle, sit in it with the windows rolled up and start the engine you will die from lack of good air to breathe. It is a well-known way to commit suicide. How many more vehicles are there on the world’s roads since the turn of the century? Isn’t the Earth one big passenger area? How many more tailpipes can the air circle take?
3. We use water to clean ourselves and our things. How many more cars, dishes, laundry loads can be asked of the water circle?
Soft and Fluffy consumerism preached by the Church of the Holy Shitters offers a new prism to analyze our consumption as it relates to our environment.
Consumption in and of itself is not bad. Consumer diarrhea is.
There is an event in New York coming up September 23, 2014 in New York City. It is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Climate Summit where he’s bringing together world leaders, from government, finance, business and civil society asking them to take meaningful steps to redefine our relationship with the earth and correct the negative effects of climate change.
In connection with that Climate Summit a People’s Climate March is planned on September 21, 2014.
New York City, Sunday, September 21
Tens of thousands are expected to march in New York City and over 700 groups and organizations are participating.
Let’s make September a game-changer for the climate movement. Sign up now for a bus, train, or ride shares (or volunteer transport.) Individuals, campuses, churches and organizations are registering to host marchers.
Category Consumer Diarrhea, Consumerism, Economy | Tags: ass- forward, Ass-backward consumerism, ass-forward thinking, capitalism, Climate Change, consumer diarrhea, Consumerism, economy, Energy, Environment, Fossil fuel, Global Warming, Soft and Fluffy Consumerism, Super-consumerism, Sustainable energy, thinking, wealth
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February 7, 2013 by John Crapper
Church of the Holy Shitters
Launching us towards that
Soft and Fluffy, Shitty Way of Life
NASA/ Temperature Data: 1880-2011
Every Church takes it upon itself to pursue certain missions. Ours is no different.
Followers of the Church of the Holy Shitters believe mankind’s current activities are contributing to a change in the Earth’s climate. We also believe we can, should and will do something about it. In fact, it is one of our prime Church missions.
Climate change and the rising temperatures associated with it involves the entire planet. It is a global issue. Therefore, it demands a global effort to address in any meaningful way.
The economies of the world are based largely on fossil fuel to provide their energy. Burning fossil fuel pollutes our environment. Not only does it pollute but it’s also changing our environment with serious negative consequences. The theory goes that the burning of fossil fuel is increasing the level of CO2 in our environment and resulting in a general warming of the planet and an altering of world weather patterns.
We need to change the way we do things. It will require a mammoth effort. It can be done. We’ve done it before during WWII. We can do it again!
Let’s take a moment to look back on the effort that was made by this country during WWII. It was quite astounding.
For the war, the United States underwent a massive economic restructuring. In his State of the Union address on January 6, 1942, one month after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt announced the country’s arms production goals. The United States, he said, was planning to produce 45,000 tanks, 60,000 planes, 20,000 anti-aircraft guns, and several thousand ships. He added, “Let no man say it cannot be done.”
After his State of the Union address, Roosevelt met with auto industry leaders and told them that the country would rely heavily on them to reach these arms production goals. From February 1942 through the end of 1944, nearly three years, essentially no cars were produced in the United States.
In addition to a ban on the production and sale of cars for private use, residential and highway construction was halted, and driving for pleasure was banned. Strategic goods—including tires, gasoline, fuel oil, and sugar—were rationed beginning in 1942. Cutting back on private consumption of these goods freed up material resources that were vital to the war effort.
To raise money for defense, the government relied on a number of techniques — calling on the American people to ration certain commodities, generating more tax revenue by lowering the personal exemption and selling government war bonds to individuals and financial institutions. All of these methods served to provide the government with revenue and at the same time keep inflation under control.
From the beginning of 1942 through 1944, the United States far exceeded the initial goal of 60,000 planes, turning out a staggering 229,600 aircraft, a fleet so vast it is hard today to even visualize it. Equally impressive, by the end of the war more than 5,000 ships were added to the 1,000 or so that made up the American Merchant Fleet in 1939.
In her book No Ordinary Time, Doris Kearns Goodwin describes how various firms converted. A sparkplug factory was among the first to switch to the production of machine guns. Soon a manufacturer of stoves was producing lifeboats. A merry-go-round factory was making gun mounts; a toy company was turning out compasses; a corset manufacturer was producing grenade belts; and a pinball machine plant began to make armor-piercing shells.
British Prime Minister Winston Churchill often quoted his foreign secretary, Sir Edward Grey: “The United States is like a giant boiler. Once the fire is lighted under it, there is no limit to the power it can generate.”
Thus, we see from our brief look back, just what this country is capable of doing when we are motivated. We have the power and the capability to impact the climate in a positive manner. All that is required is the will to act.
The first thing that needs to happen to embark on this mission is leadership from the top. Our job as members of the Church of the Holy Shitters is to pressure and persuade our top leadership into action. To force them to Shit or get off the pot!
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