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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October 5, 2015 by John Crapper
Something happened pretty cool in Seattle the other day. Washington State residents can take pride in this marvelous achievement. Let’s hope it spurs a rethinking of architectural design and urban living.
April 1, 2015, the Bullitt Center proved its status as the greenest commercial building in the world by becoming the first office building to earn Living Building certification, the most challenging benchmark of sustainability in the built environment.
To be certified as a Living Building a structure is required to be self-sufficient in energy and water for 12 consecutive months and meet green building standards in terms of design and materials used.
During 2014 the center produced 60% more energy than it used making it the most energy efficient office building in the U.S. and possibly the world. Congratulations.
The process to achieve this award was rigorous and challenging.
The Living Building Challenge requires a project to meet 20 specific imperatives within seven performance areas (or “Petals”). For the Bullitt Center, meeting the imperatives will include the following:
Site: The location will support a pedestrian-, bicycle-, and transit-friendly lifestyle.
Water: Rainwater will be collected on the roof, stored in an underground cistern and used throughout the building.
Energy: A solar array will generate as much electricity as the building uses.
Health: The building will promote health for its occupants, with inviting stairways, operable windows and features to promote walking and resource sharing.
Materials: The building will not contain any “Red List” hazardous materials, including PVC, cadmium, lead, mercury and hormone-mimicking substances, all of which are commonly found in building components.
Equity: All workstations are within 30 feet of large operable windows, offering all workers access to fresh air and natural daylight.
Beauty: Stunning architecture, an innovative photovoltaic array, a green roof and other native plantings, large structural timbers and a revitalized pocket park help beautify the surrounding neighborhood.
Projects in 12 countries are registered in the Living Building Challenge and six other projects have been certified to date, including McGilvra Place Park, a public space immediately adjacent to the Bullitt Center. McGilvra Place is the first “Living Park” to meet the Landscape Typology requirements of the Challenge.
“We made a huge, bold bet that human creativity could overcome dozens of unprecedented challenges,” said Denis Hayes, CEO of the Bullitt Foundation and the Bullitt Center. “If Living Buildings can be built and operated in Seattle, the cloudiest major city in the contiguous 48 states, they can and should be built everywhere.”
If you are interested in taking a tour of this remarkable building you can do so here. I’ve yet to do so myself but plan to in the very near future.
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September 20, 2015 by John Crapper
“Imagine a world where waste management has public benefits. The food waste industry that was once resource-intensive is now restorative. Integrated food and energy systems continually regenerate nutrients, energy, water and carbon from resources that were once exported away from communities to landfill storage. Food, energy and transportation systems are powered in part by the embedded solar energy in waste-resources. Under-utilized urban hardscapes of cities around the worlds are lined with bountiful organic permaculture. Rural and remote communities re-invent their food cycles with environmentally and economically sustainable solutions.”
This future is not as far-fetched as you might think. This vision is now within our grasp. It can actually happen. The HORSE is here to help us but it needs our help.
I always love it when, at the most unexpected time and place, you meet someone that impresses. That is what happened to me a couple of months ago at a garden party. Within minutes of walking up to this person, expecting to exchange niceties and move on, I found myself immersed in conversation about our mutual passion – the environment. No, we didn’t agree on the things we discussed, but rather challenged each other, arguing with knowledge our different perspectives. Mind you, our opinions weren’t that far apart. We were both quoting from the same book and eating from the same basic table. We just saw things through a different lens. I can’t speak for him, but I grew in perspective because of this chance encounter.
His name is Edouard Stenger. In 2008, his blog was nominated as one of the ten best international blogs on environment in the Blog do Planeta, a leading Brazilian blog. More recently (2014) he has been featured for several months in the SustMeme Climate Change & Energy ranking. This is a list of the ” Top 500 influencers and players active on Twitter in Climate Science & Forecast, the Carbon Economy, Emissions, Clean, Green & Renewable Energy, Generation and Efficiency. ”
I’m so glad our paths crossed at that party. If not for that fortunate encounter you would not be reading the following.
Back to the Future may be fictional, but the machine that converts food scraps into energy is a reality because it has just been built in Seattle. This is a living machine that eats food scraps and makes energy and plant food using microbes with zero waste. It’s called the HORSE. It’s portable. It’s affordable. It creates jobs and independence from fossil fuel energy and landfilling.
Impact Bioenergy is the core technology provider, designer, builder, and supplier of the HORSE digester.“Enabling Food Waste to Food Resource”
CSB is the service end of a strategic partnering program that helps remove barriers to market and deploy this transformational technology in different locations. It is a partnering program between organizations such as food banks, schools, restaurants, breweries, distilleries, markets, urban farmers, gardeners, and other for-profit or non-profit ventures.
CSB (Community Supported Biocycling) is a fresh model for transforming food waste into renewable energy and organic fertilizer. We develop and deploy hyper-local hubs, starting in Seattle, WA, that challenge the notion of waste management centered on distributed pick-up and centralized processing.
This is how Henry Ford conceived the Model T. This is how Doc Brown conceived the Flux Capacitor. They inspired us. Ford’s vision was a horseless carriage constructed of the “best materials, by the best people available, using the simplest designs that technology can devise”. Our vision is a HORSE with the same characteristics. Now a century later we are taking it up a notch with biomimicry – a machine designed to behave like nature intended. The future is now! In the year 2015!
This is a technology that can divert waste and create energy off-grid at the same time. And I must say, the HORSE does not horse around either. Just take a look at the benefits and impressive statistics. The benefits: It eradicates curbside garbage pickup and the carbon emissions associated with transport. It creates a shared carbon-negative transportation model for local use: less trucking + no landfilling + renewable energy projection. It’s decentralized, it’s portable and it’s affordable. The stats:
It will consume 25 tons per year of food scraps, beverages, fat, and paper products. It can create 5,400 gallons per year of liquid fertilizer + up to 37 MW-hrs of raw energy. As renewable gas that’s 125 Million BTU per year (4.3 MW-hrs of this energy is electrical output). The system also has accessory valves for BBQ grills, fire pits, lights, and ovens. How cool is that? Here is what that means in everyday terms.
With the HORSE:
every bit of our bioresources are recycled and utilized locally. This includes all the nutrients, energy, water and carbon locked up in food waste. In addition to a waste solution, the process mitigates GHGs and lowers air and water pollution, all while improving soil fertility for farmers and investing in regenerative living communities.
to both connect like-minded people and to raise enough money to build a containerized version of the HORSE.
The one you see below is going to Surrey, British Columbia! Our Canadian friends will enjoy the first one!
Now let me ask you a couple of questions. If you’re a businessperson why would you pay around $200 a ton to dispose of a ton of waste when you could instead create a $700 a ton resource? That just doesn’t make good business sense. Instead, by taking advantage of the HORSE you’re bottom line wins, the community wins and the environment wins too. Win, WIN, WIN!
And after looking into this project, I have to ask why anybody that purports to care about the environment would not support this project? That doesn’t make sense either. Click here to help!
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September 11, 2015 by John Crapper
I live in Seattle and this last Wednesday a major campaingn was announced.
As reported in the Guardian Wednesday, 9 September, 2015
Microsoft founder Bill Gates is facing fresh calls to move his charity’s investments out of fossil fuels from the community in Seattle where it is based, led by the city’s former mayor.
The Bill and Melinda Gates’ Foundation is the world’s largest charitable foundation and funder of medical research. It had $1.4bn (£1bn) invested in fossil fuel companies, according to its latest available tax filings from 2013.
Speaking to the Guardian, former mayor Michael McGinn said that Gates could not simultaneously “hit the brake and the accelerator at the same time” in his approach to tackling climate change.
The campaign launched this last Wednesday with a demonstration outside the foundation’s visitor center under a sign which read “Every person deserves the chance to live a healthy, productive life”. The protester’s sign read “Yes they do! Divest from fossil fuels now.” They plan to be there every day until the foundation makes a commitment to divest away from fossil fuels.
As Emily states in the video:
Seattle is literally a crossroads for the fossil fuel industry. Coal trains, oil trains, Shell’s Arctic drilling fleet: They are all here – and we’ve been fighting them all. But even here in progressive Seattle, the corporate power of oil and coal companies puts us at a disadvantage.
We have the people power, but they have the money and political power. But can you imagine a world where oil companies no longer have that power?
Let’s not forget that the fossil fuel divestment movement was launched right here in Seattle by Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org. Since launch the divest from fossil fuel movement has grown tremendously with over 700 individuals representing a total of $1 trillion having already been divested from fossil fuels. Now the time has come to increase the pressure on the Bill and Melinda Gates’ Foundation.
“What a help it will be when the investments of this generous foundation align with its mission. Climate change is the great shadow across our planet’s future, and we must try to lift it with every tool we have.”
And this effort is being launched while celebrating a great victory in California. This spring the California Senate Pro Tem introduced SB 185, calling for coal divestment. Last Wednesday, SB 185 passed on a 47-30 vote, and Gov. Brown is expected to sign it.
RL Miller, the Chair of the California Democratic Party Environmental Caucus and co-founder of Climate Haws Vote had this to say:
SB 185 is part of my philosophy in founding Climate Hawks Vote: the climate movement needs both outside pressure and political insiders willing to lead. Meaningful progress starts small, but when it snowballs it becomes an unstoppable force. To replicate this success, we need to beat back the climate deniers and elect more climate hawks across the country.
We at 350 Seattle, supported by a coalition of organizations who have co-signed this letter, wish to open a dialogue with the Gates Foundation over the possibility of your joining the fossil fuel divestment movement.
We would first like to acknowledge and pay respect to you for the vast resources that the Gates Foundation dedicates to philanthropy every year, and the good work that you thereby achieve.
The list of signers to this letter is impressive and growing fast.
Sierra Club, Seattle Chapter
Audubon Society, Seattle Chapter
Echoes Lutheran Church
Eastside Friends Meeting, Bellevue (Quaker Church)
Unitarian Universalist Church, Edmonds; Peace and Justice Committee
Seattle Green Party
Mangrove Action Project
Capitol Hill Community Council
Capitol Hill Urban Co-Housing
The Compassion Games
The Dignity Virus
Seattle Environmental Activists
Earth Citizen Center
Earth Ship Seattle
Seattle University, Sustainable Student Action
I urge all to get involved in this effort to divest from fossil fuel and if you live in the Seattle area the place to plug into things is here at their website.
This is one of many efforts 350 Seattle is engaged. They are an energized organization tackling our environmental problems on multiple fronts.
Climate Justice “Local to Global” Event on October 14th, and hear Naomi Klein!
After the event, you can run over to SIFF, where they’ll be showing the Seattle premiere of This Changes Everything. Tickets are on sale now for that first show, where Klein and her husband, the director Avi Lewis, will be available afterwards for Q&A. Get ’em before they sell out!
Race and Climate Justice
On September 12th and 14th, Heather Hackman will be back in Seattle to lead two workshops on race and climate justice.
The first is on September 12th (a Saturday) from 9:00am until 4:30pm. This is an introductory workshop entitled: Climate Change Mind-Set: Why a Critical Racial Justice Mindset Is Essential for Effective Climate Justice
Build Art in the Park to Music!
Sunday, September 20th, from noon to 6pm, our final Seattle Peace Concert Art Build for this summer will be at Gas Works Park in Wallingford.
Panel of 350 Seattle Activists
On Sunday September 27th at 10:00 am, Plymouth Church has invited a panel of 350 activists.
Youth Fighting for Their Climate Future
And finally mark your calendar for October 30th at 10:00 am King County Superior court. This is when we can show our support to the kids who have been successfully suing the WA Dept of Ecology for their future. The kids were not satisfied with a plan that did not get us back to 350 parts per million, so they filed a brief requesting one that did, and the judge today ordered Ecology to respond to it. Arguments by both parties will be heard on the 30th. I’ve written about this before in this article: Breaking: Big, BIG Positive Climate Change News!
But 350 Seattle is not the only place to plug into the environmental movement. The opportunities in our area are numerous.
The Cascadia Climate Action Calendar
Connect and Help Our Local EnvironmentSeattle and the Puget Sound area have ample opportunities for concerned citizens to get involved. Because of the work of some dedicated people at Cascadia Climate Action it is now easy to find an event or organization that fits your passions and schedule.
With just one easy click on the Cascadia Climate Action Calendar you can easily review and find the perfect event in which to participate or organization you wish to become involved. You can even sign up to receive weekly updates of upcoming events sponsored by 350-Seattle, Sierra Club-Beyond Coal of Washington, , Citizens Climate Lobby of Seattle, CarbonWA and many other groups all now compiled together in one weekly email, organized into sections.
Meetings/Recurring EventsThere are organizations and groups working on climate issues that meet monthly to plan, strategize, network and implement events and actions. These include
Recurring meetings are posted on the Cascadia Climate Action meetings calendar.
If there are other groups that would like to be listed, get in touch with them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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August 25, 2015 by John Crapper
Anyone who has been in close proximity to a diary farm knows the powerful au natural fragrance that emanates from the multiple rear ends catered to in the facility. Well it turns out that is not the only thing that is powerful about the substance that comes forth.
SALISBURY – Lincoln Renewable Gas has filed a petition with the Vermont Public Service Board for a certificate of public good to build a renewable gas plant in Salisbury. The LincolnRNG plant would produce natural gas from dairy farm manure and other organic fuel sources. If approved, the plant will be built on the Goodrich Family farm in Salisbury. Renewable natural gas is interchangeable with conventional natural gas and may be used as an alternative heating and vehicle fuel.
The plant will produce natural gas from an aerobic digester tank system and sell most of it to Middleburg College replacing a substantial volume of # 6 heating oil the college currently uses. This would be only the second of its kind in the United States. It is financed by private investment and a commercial loan.
Holy cow – Milk does a body good but this project is really milking the system from beginning to end in order to maximize the good it does. It’s a really innovative shitty idea 100% endorsed by the Church of the Holy Shitters!
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August 2, 2015 by John Crapper
Last weekend I was at a party with a lot of very active environmentalists. During the party I struck up a conversation with a young lady making preparations to go on a pilgrimage with some other activists. Her knowledge, passion, enthusiasm and energy was inspiring.
I would love to have said I would join them on their journey but unfortunately my old body won’t cooperate. So, I’m doing the next best thing and helping to publicize their pilgrimage on their behalf. They are, after all, riding for all of us. The following article dated Fri, 7/31/2015 is reprinted with permission from Erika Lundahl the author. It first appeared at Occupy.com
The Road to Athabasca: Why I’m Biking To The Tar Sands
Six months ago, my friend Phil Jones announced that he was making a bicycle pilgrimage to the tar sands in Alberta, Canada, and asked if anyone wanted to join him.
As he spoke, I nodded and listened, thinking Wait. Where is that? At the time I was working as a barista in Downtown Seattle, pouring espresso shots, pinging between freelance writing jobs and playing music in my band. It took me a while to make the connection in my mind that this place, one of the biggest and most devastating oil extraction projects in the world, was close enough to my home in Seattle that I, too, could ride my bicycle there – all 1,100 miles along the route of the Trans Mountain pipeline through Canada.
Over time, the idea of that ride has grown from one person to a motley crew of passionate artists and storytellers in what is now the The Road to Athabasca. I didn’t arrive lightly at my decision to go. But the scope of this journey hooked my imagination, and as I read up on the tar sands, spoke to others with firsthand knowledge of the issue, and trained physically for the ride, I began to feel its true gravity and urgency. I, along with others, am now asking you to support us as we embark on this two-wheeled journey for the climate.
How dirty is it?
The term “tar sands” refers to a substance of sand, clay and tar bitumen that with intense processing can become oil (for more, see this great NPR infographic). After being extracted, the tar is mixed with a mega-cocktail of hot water, heavy chemicals, natural gas and light crude oil, thus generating a new substance: “dilbit,” or diluted bitumen. The stuff then gets pumped south through oil pipelines from Alberta, reaching tankers where it gets delivered internationally. It’s a substance that The National Resource Defense Council has called a “highly corrosive, acidic, and potentially unstable blend of thick raw bitumen and volatile natural gas liquid condensate – raising risks of spills and damage to communities along their paths.”
The largest field of tar sands in the world is located in Northern Alberta – a distance only marginally longer than San Francisco is from my hometown Seattle. To bring it to the local level for Northwesterners: the Trans Mountain Pipeline, one of these dilbit channels, runs right through our backyard and ends in Anacortes, Washington, after starting its journey in Edmonton, Alberta. The Trans Mountain currently transports 300,000 barrels of dilbit per day, and is expected to triple to an expected 890,000 barrels per day.
But the number that exists on paper is not something I can grasp or experience. This psychic and physical distance is my reason for making the journey. I have led a relatively privileged life amid the bountiful resources of the Northwest, a region built on an oil-driven economy, but I’ve never been certain of the exact costs of that privileged existence on the land and its people. The metaphor of the frog in boiling water feels appropriate here – because when we speak of our changing climate, what’s at stake is nothing less than life itself.
To fight for those stakes, I must understand them. And I cannot truly understand something I cannot see or feel. Back in April, I attended one of my first climate protests against the Shell oil rig that had anchored in Seattle’s Puget Sound. Reuben George, a leader of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, addressed some thousands of people saying, “When something comes along that will negatively impact the people I love, I am going to stop it.” The statement hit home for me. I love my family, and I love my friends, and like most anyone else I long for a healthy planet for future generations.
But I also love this land, my home. I grew up in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, the conclusion of the Oregon Trail, which is some of the most fertile land for agriculture and a place that instilled in me a love of good food, big mountains and towering trees. In Washington state, I feel that extension of my original home.
Some may call it an overstatement to say that the oil industry has brought the war to our doorstep with the tar sands. I do not agree. I see the issue as a battle for this place on earth, home to humans and sea otters and gulls and deer and killer whales, threatened with destruction by an industry whose currency is oil and whose values are chained to profits. The same is true for the northern Albertans, whose land has been stolen, their groundwater polluted, and who have seen cancer rates skyrocket as a result of the oil industry’s activities in their region. In the end, we humans all depend on the land; to destroy it is to destroy ourselves.
Preparing for the journey
Two weeks ago, I biked 68 miles with three other cyclists, which was five times the longest distance I had ever traveled without a car. Beginning on South Whidbey Island’s pastoral hills and roadside organic gardens, we rode north over beautiful Deception Pass and west to the Tesoro and Shell oil refinery in Anacortes, seated directly on the edgewaters of the Samish First Nation.
On the way we encountered pristine water, soaring gulls and bobbing harbor seals. But when we finally arrived at the gate to the refinery, we felt like we were witness to a fearsome monolith. The high buildings, surrounded by tall gates and barbed wire, spewed plumes of black smoke into an already gray sky. To be in the presence of that weight felt like a grave reminder of the seriousness of this fight, and the damage caused by the most powerful substance on Earth. That evening at the water’s edge, I saw the brute physicality of the oil refinery rub up against the large geography of this journey that we as a group have chosen to undertake.
We call this trip a pilgrimage. A pilgrimage is any long journey, especially one traveled as a quest with a spiritual purpose. Though the tar sands are across the northern border many miles away from home, they not only play an urgent role in the politics, economy and communities of the Northwest; they are also a place on which our collective future depends. The riders participating in The Road to Athabasca believe that preserving this future necessitates a spirit of humility and witness.
Through discovery of place, through story, and through personal connection with people along the way, we want to bear witness and tell the story of the people and places that span the space between Seattle and the tar sands of Alberta. Along the way we will be challenged and pushed to limits we didn’t know we were capable of reaching physically, emotionally, spiritually. We will be hallowed and humbled as we embrace our personal power and agency to change the false narrative that our existence as a species must depend on the earth’s destruction. And we hope, in the process, to encourage others to do the same.
Please support us on this journey by donating to our Kickstarter campaign and helping spread the word.
cross posted at dailykos.com
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May 14, 2015 by John Crapper
I recently had a conversation with a young man who had just finished serving a tour of duty in both Afghanistan and Iraq. I asked him what, in his opinion, was the reason we had become militarily involved in those countries. Without hesitation he immediately said, “oil”.Connecting the dots!
U.S. intelligence officials revealed in September 2014 that they believed the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, was reaping as much as $3 million a day in revenue, making it one of the wealthiest terrorist groups in history
That report listed the main sources of ISIS funding.
Much of the fundraising for Syria’s extremist groups occurs in the Arab Gulf states, where wealthy private donors raise millions to hand over to Islamist fighters at the Turkey-Syria border. The governments of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait also covertly provide millions in aid to radical Sunni groups fighting Assad.
“It’s cash-raising activities resemble those of a mafia-like organization,” a U.S. intelligence official told the AP last week. “They are well-organized, systematic and enforced through intimidation and violence.”
3. SMUGGLING AND TAXES The Islamic State also levies taxes in the areas it conquers.
The group is also believed to have earned millions of dollars from illegally trading antiquities. The Guardian reported in June that the Islamic State had made at least $36 million in one particular Syrian region by selling items that were up to 8,000 years old.
4. OIL As reported in the Huffington Post 9/14.
Oil appears to be the largest source of income for the Islamic State today. The militants pump crude oil from about a dozen oil fields they have captured in Syria and Iraq. They either sell the crude oil directly or send it to small refineries to produce low-quality fuels. It is then transported via decades-old smuggling routes over the border and sold at low prices on the black market in Turkey and in smaller volumes to the Syrian regime.
The price the Islamic State group fetches for its smuggled oil is discounted —$25 to $60 for a barrel of oil that normally sells for more than $100 — but its total profits from oil are exceeding $3 million a day, said Luay al-Khatteeb, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Doha Center in Qatar.
In the early days of the Syrian civil war, the Islamic State group was funded in large part by donations from wealthy residents of Gulf States, including Kuwait and Qatar, American officials have said. “A number of fundraisers operating in more permissive jurisdictions — particularly in Kuwait and Qatar — are soliciting donations to fund … al-Qaida’s Syrian affiliate, the Nusra Front, and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL),” David Cohen, the Treasury department’s top counterterrorism official, said in a speech in March. ISIL is an alternative acronym for the Islamic State group.
That stream of funding has diminished in recent months as the group’s violent tactics have drawn worldwide attention, U.S. intelligence officials say. The group’s reliance on oil as its main source of revenue could easily be disrupted by American airstrikes, officials say. But so far, no decision has been made to target Iraqi or Syrian oil infrastructure, which is serviced by civilian workers who may have been conscripted.
Well more recent reports point to that disruption in oil revenue coming true. As reported by Berlin (AFP):
The Islamic State group has lost control of “at least three large oil fields” in Iraq, depriving the jihadists of a crucial source of income, a German newspaper report said Thursday. In the face of a large-scale Iraqi counteroffensive, the extremist group now controls just a single oil field in the country.
But the success has been achieved through military means. Military options continue to be our weapon of choice in the fight against terrorism since 9/11 and the limits with this method should be self evident.
I would like to posit a new approach. What if the United States, along with our Western allies, made a concerted and sustained effort to unplug from these Muslim countries?
This begs the question: why are we involved with them? Is it because we consider Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq our natural allies as we do Great Britain? I think not. I think it is because of oil just like the soldier who recently returned from Afghanistan said to me.
There is an ebb and flow to the sources of terrorist funding depending on the circumstances they find themselves dealing with. It is a complex system but individuals and charities continue to play a significant role. How does it work? Here is a Saudi Arabian example provided by the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security
This Gulf monarchy is a rentier state in which no taxes are imposed on the population. Instead, Saudis have a religious tax, the zakat, requiring all Muslims to give at least 2.5 percent of their income to charities. Many of the charities are truly dedicated to good causes, but others merely serve as money laundering and terrorist financing apparatuses. While many Saudis contribute to those charities in good faith believing their money goes toward good causes, others know full well the terrorist purposes to which their money will be funneled. What makes penetration and control of money transactions in the Arab world especially difficult is the Hawala system–the unofficial method of transferring money and one of the key elements in the financing of global terrorism. The system has been going for generations and is deeply embedded in the Arab culture. Hawala transactions are based on trust; they are carried out verbally leaving no paper trail.
It is not a coincidence that much of the cash falling into terrorists hands comes from the oil monarchies in the Persian Gulf. Oil and terrorism are entangled. Most of their wealth comes from oil. Once again take Saudi Arabia.
Oil revenues make up around 90-95% of total Saudi export earnings, 70%-80% of state revenues, and around 40% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP)….Most wealthy Saudis who sponsor charities and educational foundations that preach religious intolerance and hate toward the Western values have made their money from the petroleum industry or its subsidiaries.
Saudi Arabia has been largely the financial engine behind radical Sunni Islam and Iran is the powerhouse behind the terrorism associated with radical Shiite Islam.
Iran, OPEC’s second largest oil producer, is holder of 10 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves and has the world’s second largest natural gas reserve. With oil and gas revenues constituting over 80 percent of its total export earning and 50 percent of its gross domestic product, Iran is heavily dependent on petrodollars. It is a hotbed of Islamic fundamentalism and supporter of some of the world’s most radical Islamic movements…
The line between oil and terrorism is clear. Oil money is being systematically used to keep semi-feudal royal families in power, propagate hostility against the West, modernity, non-Musslims, and women. If the United States and it’s Western allies made a concerted effort to reduce and eventually eliminate their dependence on Middle Eastern oil, funding for terrorism would be dramatically reduced and we might actually begin to eliminate the threat posed by terrorism around the world.
And that’s not all. There is a line between the effects of climate change and unrest in a country due to it. Take for instance the upheaval we’re witnessing in Syria.
The conflict that has torn Syria apart can be trace</a>d, in part, to a record drought worsened by global warming, a new study claims.
In what scientists say is one of the most detailed and strongest connections between violence and human-caused climate change, researchers from Columbia University and the University of California Santa Barbara trace the effects of Syria’s drought from the collapse of farming, to the migration of 1.5 million farmers to the cities, and then to poverty and civil unrest.
But don’t take my word for it. Once again, take the word of the Institute for Analysis of Global Security.
Hence, America’s best weapon against terrorism is to decrease its dependency on foreign oil by increasing its fuel efficiency and introducing next-generation fuels. If the U.S. bought less oil, the global oil market would shrink and price per-barrel would decline. This would invalidate the social contract between the leaders and their people and stem the flow of resources to the religious establishment. It will likely increase popular pressure for political participation, modernity and reformed political and social institutions. Reducing demand for Middle East oil would force the petroleum-rich regimes to invest their funds domestically, seek ways to diversify their economies and rethink their support for America’s enemies. Only then financial support for terrorism could radically diminish.
Figuring this out and coming to this conclusion is not rocket science. A cursory analysis of the situation and it becomes readily apparent yet we seldom if ever here our leaders from the president on down mentioning it.
Instead we continue to hear of the need to increase military budgets, beef up homeland security, monitor our every word and give our support to covert special operations and drone attacks.
We are told to be vigilant but I still can’t figure out exactly what that means they’re asking us to do.
How about trying something new? How about asking citizens to really take some everyday actions to directly assist in the effort? What if we declared war on our fossil fuel dependency and waged a WWII type effort to wean ourselves off of its use and transform our economy to a non-polluting , renewable energy based one? What if we set a goal of being totally free of our need to import foreign oil in 10 years. Impossible you say? If you said yes I would have to say you are very wrong.The New Deal: Leadership can make it happen again.
There are many good reasons to justify the declaration of this war on fossil fuel; for the President to declare a state of national emergency and invoke the special powers afforded to the office during times of war. Let me just name a few.
1.Fossil fuel is compromising our national security, altering our foreign policy priorities and ensnarling us in conflicts around the world.
2.It is polluting our air, water and land.
3.It is damaging our health and raising our health care costs.
4.It is altering our weather patterns and disrupting ecosystems around the globe.
5.It is inhibiting our economic growth.
6.It is seriously deteriorating our overall quality of life.
Isn’t this list enough proof that a state of war is justified? When a nation’s way of life is threatened isn’t it proper to declare war on the cause of that threat?
To date the energy issue has been a sideshow. It needs to be the issue that is woven into every facet of American public opinion. The American people need to be sold on an “Energy New Deal” to fight our “War on Terror”. The American people need to be sold on an “Energy New Deal” to tackle climate change. The American people need to be sold on an “Energy New Deal” to retool our economy for a green energy future. The American people need to be sold on an “Energy New Deal” for a healthier, cleaner environment.
The ideas are endless. It’s the focus that is needed.
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November 6, 2014 by John Crapper
Sometimes there can be a really good idea and for whatever reason it doesn’t fly. It was the wrong time, the wrong place or just the wrong atmosphere. Sometimes there isn’t a good explanation. It is inexplicable. Shit just happens and the idea turns to shit. That is what happened with the idea of The American Rock.
Flashback – It was 1977. I was taking Biology at Penn Valley Community College in Kansas City, Mo. My professor, Mr. Johnson, lectured extensively on problems such as overpopulation, pollution and energy. He sparked a passion in me concerning these issues. I began visiting his office,browsing his personal book collection, asking him for recommendations and borrowing his books. I read such books as The Population Bomb by Paul Ehrlich and Silent Spring by Rachel Carson. I don’t recall the titles of all the books I borrowed and read from his office but I do know they had a profound affect on me. After reading them I would discuss the issues with him searching for answers. He had a wonderful way of making me aware of the many interrelationships between these problems.
Flash forward – It was 1979. My wife and I were students at the University of Washington. We didn’t initially start out to form an organization. We first investigated existing ones we could involve ourselves in that were relevant such as Greenpeace, Crabshell Alliance and the Environmental Protection Agency. None of them were a good fit.
The US had suffered through two oil shortages due to cutoffs of Middle Eastern oil imports.
The first oil crises had been back in 1973 when the members of Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries or the OAPEC (consisting of the Arab members of OPEC, plus Egypt, Syria and Tunisia) proclaimed an oil embargo. This was “in response to the U.S. decision to re-supply the Israeli military” during the Yom Kippur war. It lasted until March 1974. During this time cars waited in long lines to fill up. At the time the 1973 “oil price shock”, along with the 1973–1974 stock market crash, were regarded as the most severe economic event to happen since the Great Depression.
The second oil crisis happened in the wake of the Iranian Revolution. Amid massive protests, the Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, fled his country in early 1979 and the Ayatollah Khomeini soon became the new leader of Iran. Protests severely disrupted the Iranian oil sector, with production being greatly curtailed and exports suspended. When oil exports were later resumed under the new regime, they were inconsistent and at a lower volume, which pushed prices up. Widespread panic resulted, added to by the decision of U.S. President Jimmy Carter to order the cessation of Iranian imports driving the price far higher than would be expected under normal circumstances. Due to memories of oil shortage in 1973, motorists soon began panic buying, and long lines appeared at gas stations, as they had six years earlier during the 1973 oil crisis. This was the energy situation when we began our doomed attempt at establishing the American Rock.
I was also enrolled in a persuasive speaking class at the time. My first speech to the class concerned the existing atmosphere of apathy on American college campuses compared to the activism seen during the 60’s and early 70’s. I argued that even though the Vietnam War had ended our problems had not gone away but were in fact getting worse. I wove the issues of overpopulation, pollution and our energy dependency into this speech drawing off my discussions and readings from my past biology class I had taken in 1977. I got a standing ovation.
Thru a series of four more speeches, I linked together how if we, the people of America, especially the youth, could band together, for the cause of expansion of renewable energy resources, we could change the world for the better. During my last speech to the class, in the Winter of 1979, I made an appeal to them to become involved in an organization. Thirteen out of twenty-five said yes.
My wife and I immediately made plans for our initial organizational meeting the following week. Five days later at 7:00pm one out of the thirteen showed up. In the course of five days 13 supporters had dwindled to 1.
We sat there, sad, bummed out and totally baffled. We had brought the cause to the audience and they had accepted it. We had told them a change was needed and how to make that change occur. They had supported it. We had reached out and they had reached back, but only for a moment.
After the feelings of complete failure passed, we started to analyze what had gone wrong. We found few answers, but settled for a combination of “Just not the right time or place”. Then we realized something of great value. All of the steps can be taken, all of the loose ends can be tied and there is still the possibility of failure. We learned how important it is to be ready to activate an idea immediately after the energy of the audience is sparked and how quickly momentum is lost.
We re-grouped for a second try.
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October 30, 2014 by John Crapper
October 31, 2012:
NEW YORK—New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he would restrict car traffic coming into Manhattan to vehicles carrying three or more passengers until Friday in an attempt to cut down on congestion in the city.
Bloomberg, speaking on Wednesday at a news conference to address the impact of massive storm Sandy, said restrictions would be in place from 6 a.m. to midnight for bridges and tunnels excluding the George Washington Bridge.
“I know it’s an inconvenience for a lot of people, but the bottom line is the streets can only handle so much,” he said.
If this kind of action can be taken during times of emergency it might be time to consider the same for day to day commuting. It might be time to jump out of the box in our thinking.
Ever notice the number of cars are on the road every morning and afternoon going to and from work with only 1 person in them? It’s a shitload. With gas prices where they are these days it just might be time to reevaluate how we get to work. It might be time to look at things a little differently. In doing this we have to realize that light rail access and a huge expansion of bus service in most metropolitan areas is not going to happen anytime soon. People are pretty much stuck with what’s currently available. That leaves most of us just throwing are hands up in the air and saying to ourselves: “I’ve got no choice! I’ve got to keep doing what I’m doing and paying the price.”
As Poop John the First of the Church of the Holy Shitters I’m proclaiming you can have a choice. All it takes is jumping out of the box and applying a little ass-forward thinking. Our current system of commuting is extremely wasteful and becoming increasingly more inconvenient. It is ass-backward. When looked at in an ass-forward way there is a way to change it. It just takes a little thought and a willingness for commuters to do things a little differently. It won’t even take huge investments in public transportation or mass transit to accomplish.
The new commuting system I envision utilizes fully our existing transportation system. That means we continue to use our cars each morning to drive to and from work. We just put more butts in them. How can we do this?
Here is the basic plan:
In simple terms the system would turn commuters into quasi taxi drivers to and from work.
Commuters would be required to participate in the system to and from work. Participation in the system for all other travel would be on a voluntary basis.
Only certain license plate numbers (say even for even days and odd for odd days) are allowed to commute on any given work day.
Along all roads there are designated stops where people wait for pick up. These stops would be located at every freeway exit/entrance, all major arterials, all park and ride locations, and all city bus routes. Non-driving commuters would be required to transport themselves to one of these designated stops for pick-up. From home that could entail walking, riding a bike, or hitching a ride from a local neighbor.
During the commute every driver would travel on exactly the same roads they usually use on their way to work. Passengers would stay in the vehicle until needing to switch directions. They would then be dropped off at the nearest stop to be picked up again by a car traveling in their new direction.
Drivers, along their route to work, would be required to pick up passengers until the vehicle is filled to capacity. When the driver switches directions passengers not heading in the new direction disembark. If passengers need to leave his vehicle to head in a new direction the driver stops at a designated stop to let the passenger off. The driver picks up passengers heading his new direction anytime his car is not full. This process continues until the driver reaches his destination.
That’s the basic plan. There are many details that would have to be worked out of course. Some that come to mind are the following.
Security: Drivers need to be secure when letting strangers into their vehicles. This could be handled through the issuance of a commuter pass to all individuals using the system. Cars’ license plates would be read by scanners upon entry into pick-up stops. Passengers entering the vehicle would insert their card into a reader which would record the identity of each individual entering each vehicle.
Payment for service: Some people would be using the system who don’t own a car or never drive. It would be unfair to let them have free rides all the time. There would therefore need to be a system whereby drivers would get monetary credit for the passengers they give transport. This could be accomplished by using the same commuter passes used for security purposes. Miles per gallon (MPG) rates would be determined and assigned to each driver’s commuter card based on the vehicle they drive. Upon entering the vehicle a calculation would be determined based on the MPG figure and the number of passengers in the car. Ride rates would be determined by dividing number of passengers in the car by the MPG figure. Likewise, when passengers disembarked they would use their cards to log out of the car to determine distance traveled. The running totals for each driver/passenger would be recorded per trip and accumulated over a monthly/quarterly period. At the end of each period a statement would be sent assessing either a payment into the system for ridership or a reimbursement for passengers transported.
What would be the advantages of such a program?
Lower commuter costs due to maximum use of car pooling.
Less traffic congestion further lowering commuter costs from useless idling in traffic during peak rush hour periods.
The likelihood of shorter commute times due to less congestion.
The ability of commuter passengers to do other tasks other than driving on the way to work such as text messaging, reading, eating a snack or just relaxing.
Reduced carbon emissions from less gas consumption.
Reduced pollution from less gas consumption.
Less reliance on foreign oil.
Improved balance of payments due to less foreign imports of oil.
Maximum use of existing infrastructure.
Reduced pressure for infrastructure expansion to meet increased vehicular traffic demands.
Maximum use of existing modes of transportation.
Reduced individual wear and tear on privately owned vehicles from less travel.
Reduced congestion in downtown metropolitan areas.
In some ways greater commuter convenience (faster commute, more free time in transit to work, lower commuter costs)
What are the disadvantages?
Reduced commuter privacy.
Greater exposure of commuters to weather.
In some ways greater commuter inconvenience (loss of privacy, less commuter flexibility, greater exposure to weather, having to switch vehicles)
- Why Drivers May Get More Commuter Tax Benefits Than Bus Riders – NYTimes.com (underpaidgenius.com)
- Carpool (39/365) (thesimpledollar.com)
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October 23, 2014 by John Crapper
Analysis of data from the American Community Survey, gathered in 2005 found nine out of 10 workers, or 87.7 percent, drive to work with most people, 77 percent, driving alone despite rising fuel costs.
At a nationwide average drive-time of about 24.3 minutes, Americans now spend more than 100 hours a year commuting to work. That’s more than the average two weeks of vacation time (80 hours) taken by many workers during a year.
Census 2000 observed a national average commuting travel time of 25.5 minutes. This represented a 3-minute increase in travel times over those measured in 1990. This is a substantial change given that the change from 1980 – 1990 was only an increase of 40 seconds.
These are some of the latest statistics I could find on commuting. Most of us are going to work using our privately owned cars, driving alone and wasting a lot of fuel and time in the process. And this waste is increasing. This is ass-backward.
We need to search for ways to do things differently. We also need to jump out of the box in our thinking and go beyond the usual solutions. We need to approach this problem in an ass-forward waste-end first Church of the Holy Shitters way.
First of all we need to face facts. This nation isn’t about to embark on a massive program to build a light rail system. Most cities aren’t planning on dramatically expanding their public transportation options. The percentage of people voluntarily car pooling or taking the bus isn’t going to rapidly increase. People aren’t going to magically start riding their bicycles 20 miles to work.
Commuting must be looked at in a “using what we have right now” perspective. We can’t afford to invest in massive new public transportation systems. We can’t afford to waste the roads and bridges that have already been built. We can’t afford to abandon using our automobiles. That would be wasteful and we can’t afford to waste anything. We need to utilize and increase the efficiency of the resources we currently have at our disposal while simultaneously developing a more efficient commuting system for us all.
This can be done if we put our Holy Shitters creative caps on. In part 2 I will offer a new ass-forward commuting idea and ask you for your feedback.
Category Energy | Tags: ass-backward, Carpool, Commuting, consumer diarrhea, Consumerism, economy, Energy, Environment, Soft and Fluffy Consumerism, Super-consumerism, Traffic congestion, Transportation
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September 20, 2014 by John CrapperMyself with Bill McKibben, Co-founder of 350.0rg.
The above picture of me with Bill McKibben would not have been possible without Daily KOS. I love Daily KOS. My whole experience with Daily KOS has been and continues to be a phenomenal one. I first discovered the site in September 2010 after searching numerous other sites. I soon learned Daily KOS was different in that it allowed a person an extraordinary ability to participate compared to all others.
I started off posting articles in numerous areas of interest but quickly realized I had to focus and prioritize. I couldn’t write about everything. I made the decision to concentrate on my #1 priority which was climate change and broadly environmental issues.
I determined my overarching goal was to pursue making the issue of climate change go viral. It is IMHO the top-tier issue we face that overshadows and supersedes all others.
I know Daily KOS’s stated goal is to elect more and better Democrats. But my goal as far as politics is concerned is a little different. It is to elect more and better representatives that take the threat of climate change seriously and help those currently in office trying to do something meaningful about it.
My Washington State Governor, Jay Inslee, is one of those elected officials putting climate change at the top of his political agenda. I intend to help him as best I can. Governor Inslee was featured in episode five in the recently aired Showtime series entitled “Years of Living Dangerously and touted as being the “greenest Governor in America”. He has formed
A Carbon Emissions Reduction Taskforce (CERT) composed of 21 leaders from business, labor, health and public interest organizations, that will provide recommendations to him on design and implementation of a market-based carbon pollution program.
“We’re already seeing the impacts and bearing the costs of climate change in our state. I’ve met with shellfish growers in Shelton who are working hard to deal with increased ocean acidification and the resulting difficulty to grow shellfish. Because of reduced snowpack in our mountains and longer drought periods in central and eastern Washington, we’re seeing water resource challenges requiring significant investments in places like the Yakima River Basin. And I’m meeting with local officials who must rebuild water treatment facilities to anticipate more severe flooding, including recently in Anacortes and later today at Discovery Park in Seattle, with King County Executive Dow Constantine. “Taking action to reduce carbon pollution is not only important for our children, our environment and our health, it is essential for our economy. The costs of inaction are simply too high. Meanwhile, there are enormous opportunities in developing the clean energy technologies that will cleanly fuel our homes and businesses for decades to come. And once again, Washington state is uniquely poised to lead the nation. I applaud Senator Murray and President Obama for their actions today to highlight the economic risks we face if we continue to delay climate action. And I commend the President for his leadership at the federal level to reduce carbon pollution from our nation’s power plants.”
The establishment of this taskforce was part of his Executive Order 14-04 issued in late April of this year which took steps in 7 key areas.
Carbon emission – Established a Carbon Emissions Reduction Taskforce to provide recommendations on the design and implementation of a market-based carbon pollution program.
Coal-fired electricity imported from other states (“coal-by-wire”) – State agencies are directed to work with key utilities to reduce, and eventually eliminate, the use of electrical power produced by coal.
Clean transportation – The greatest percentage of carbon emissions come from cars, trucks and other transportation-related sources. The state Department of Transportation will lead an effort with other agencies and governments to promote strategies, policies and investments that support electrification of our transportation system, lower-emission multi-modal options, and clean fuels.
Clean technology – The state Department of Commerce will work with Washington State University and others on a program to develop and deploy new renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies, including those with an emphasis on solar power.
Energy efficiency – One of the most cost-effective strategies for reducing carbon emissions is to use energy more efficiently. The state Department of Commerce is directed to work with WSU and others to significantly improve the energy performance of public and private buildings.
State government operations – The state Department of Enterprise Services will lead efforts to achieve carbon reduction and energy efficiency improvements throughout state government including meeting goals established by Gov. Inslee’s Results Washington.
Carbon pollution limits – The state Department of Ecology will review the state’s greenhouse gas emission limits and recommend updates.
The above list is aggressive but it is not unrealistic. It represents a common sense achievable program any state can adopt.
I am proud of Governor Inslee’s leadership on this issue. He does not have his head here.
But he also doesn’t have his head here.
He (CERT)ainly deserves support in his efforts to bring energy sanity and climate equilibrium to our world! And thanks to Daily KOS I now have the chance to be of some service.
Thank you Daily KOS for making it possible!
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July 17, 2014 by John Crapper
There is no more perfect an example of ass-backward super-consumerism than the American recreational vehicle better known as the RV. Averaging roughly 4-18 miles per gallon these behemoths of the road attest to the conspicuous super-consuming spoiled tourist encouraged and admired in this country.
You see them every day of the summer on our nation’s freeways and highways. The mobile home on wheels with the car or truck and dirt bikes in tow. It is the “don’t leave home without it” ideal summer vacation aspired to in the good old USA!
The recreational vehicle industry symbolize everything wrong with the United States of America’s energy policy.
There have been some vain attempts in the industry to make these gas guzzlers a little more efficient but not nearly enough in my opinion.
In 2008 Freightliner introduced the first ever fuel/electric hybrid motorhome chasses at the RVDA trade show in Louisville called the “EcoFred”. Informal tests have shown fuel mileage gains in the range of 7-19% vs diesel only and perhaps as much as 42% vs a gas engine coach.
During the summer of 2009,Brad and Amy Herzog, spokespeople for the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA, used a Winnebago motorhome equipped with a eco-Fred chassis
“I’m thrilled to be driving this concept hybrid RV from Winnebago Industries,” said Herzog. “There are many ways in which RVing teaches Earth-friendly lessons — just by doing things like visiting natural wonders, shopping at farmers’ markets and reducing consumption and home energy use. But the Adventurer hybrid is an exciting step forward in the industry’s green initiatives. I’ve always reduced the RV vacation advantage to four Fs — fun, family, flexibility and financial savings. But now I can add a fifth — facing the future.”
Now that quote is one of the best examples of cogniitive dissonance I’ve ever encountered. Not sure what future he’s facing or what drugs he’s been taking to be able to see that future but it looks nothing like the one I’m seeing. Just makes me want to say Holy Shit!
This is the end of the road for this diary. I wish it was the end of the road for RV’s instead.
Category Consumer Diarrhea, Consumerism, Energy | Tags: capitalism, consumer diarrhea, Consumerism, economy, Energy, Fossil fuel, Gasoline, Recreational Vehicle, Soft and Fluffy Consumerism, Super-consumerism
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July 3, 2014 by John Crapper
As with most things, it’s the little things, the things that fly under the radar sometimes that can make a big difference. One of those little things (turns out it’s not so little) came to my attention the other day. It’s not all fun and games when it comes to the latest and most popular games consoles.
Two of the most popular new video game consoles guzzle large amounts of energy— much of it in standby mode when no one is using them.
The Microsoft Xbox One and Sony Playstation 4 use at least twice as much energy per year as their predecessors largely because of new features, according to tests by the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group. The tests found the third major console, the Nintendo Wii U, is an “energy sipper.”
The new Xbox One uses 15 watts of continuous power in standby mode and the PS4 uses eight. Compare that to less than two watts for a desktop in sleep mode.
“This adds up to several power plants of electricity,” Delforge says, noting the 24/7 power usage increases not only consumer utility bills but also heat-trapping carbon pollution generated by these plants….”
An estimated 110 million game consoles have been sold nationwide since 2005, and the three brands tested account for at least 90% of the U.S. market. Since hitting the market in November, Sony has sold 7 million worldwide, while Microsoft says more than 5 million Xbox One consoles have been shipped to retailers.
…It estimates that replacing the prior generation of consoles with new models will increase energy usage 10 billion kilowatt-hours annually — enough to power all homes in Houston for a year. (emphasis mine)
The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that electronics, along with appliances and lighting, consumes a rising percentage of residential energy use — from 24% in 1993 to nearly 35% in 2009. It says the growing number of devices in homes has offset efficiency gains.
Reading this article got me to thinking. Before dawn,when I often exercise, I’ve been annoyed by having to put sheets of paper up to cover the lights always on emanating from the computer equipment. So just on a whim I went down and counted them after reading the above referenced article. I counted 6 on the modem, 4 on the wireless box, one on the electrical strip, one on the printer and finally, not to be outdone, one on the phone.
These suckers are on all the time, some flashing, some in a steady glow of blue or yellow. Of course whenever there’s a message on the phone another blinking light comes on along with a beeping sound every 15 seconds. If I turn on the stereo speakers poof there goes another light beaming green.
Seems to me these are all unnecessary lights using unnecessary electricity but that is just me I guess. But continuing to play this mental game I asked myself some questions. Wouldn’t it make more sense to have the modem lights come on only when something wasn’t working properly? Same for the wireless box. Does the electrical strip really need a light at all? If it isn’t working nothing plugged into it will work. Does the printer really need a light telling me it’s ready to print? Shouldn’t it likewise have a light telling me that it isn’t ready? Why does the phone need a light? Can’t I pick it up and hear a dial tone to determine that? Hell, now that I think of it the damn light stays on at times when there is no dial tone. So it’s really telling me nothing useful.
Why? Can’t I tell when there’re not working just my noticing there’s no sound coming out of them?
It glows constantly indicating it’s charging. Never shuts off so it never tells me when the toothbrush is fully charged. Same way with the battery recharger I have. When I have it plugged into the wall charging my A-2 batteries I’m having to use in everything under the sun these days it always shines green telling me it’s charging. It never shuts off. Really tells me nothing useful.
Continuing my little game I come upstairs and notice a light shining from the stereo telling me it’s in standby/off mode. Don’t I already know that? Entering the bedroom I see another dentist recommended sonic toothbrush charging for my wife with its ever present light shining.
I go to the living room window and look out at all the houses I see on the hills surrounding our house.
Continuing to play the game I drive home from work later that night and look at the Seattle skyline.
I notice all the lights on in the skyscrapers surging upwards into the sky and try to count all the lights on in those buildings that never shut off. I think of all the cities across the country doing the same. It boggles my mind.
After playing this game for a day I reach a conclusion:
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June 19, 2014 by John Crapper
There was a time, not that long ago, when doing your business meant taking a short walk to visit the outhouse. You opened the door, sat down and did your business. A very simple procedure and a very environmentally friendly process. Even the phone books and Sears catalogs were put to greater use back then!
Now we have the benefits of progress. Today we enter a well-lit public restroom and sit down on a shiny porcelain toilet. More often than not as we get up to leave the toilet an electric magic eye senses our movement and triggers an electric flush. When the eye malfunctions we are left pondering what to do to instigate the desired evacuation of the evidence.
Japan has taken the electric toilet to new luxurious heights. The Japanese are sticklers for cleanliness. Sixty years ago it was a country of pit latrines. Now “Japan makes the most advanced, remarkable toilets in the world.
Rose George in The BIG Necessity describes these toilets.
Japanese toilets can check your blood pressure, play music, wash and dry your anus and “front parts” by means of an in-toilet nozzle that sprays water and warm air, suck smell ions from the air, switch on a light for you as you stumble into the bathroom at night, put the seat lid down for you (a function known as the “marriage-saver”), and flush away your excreta without requiring anything as old-fashioned as a tank.
A man urinating at the urinal will also have the electric magic eye monitoring his progress ready to whisk away the evidence as soon as he steps away. It has been my experience that the magic eye fails to function about 20 to 30 percent of the time. And these babies are relatively new devices. What happens in a few years down the road?
After the conclusion of our business we walk to the row of sinks to wash our hands. We usually put our hands under an electric soap dispenser which doles out the soap in a measured burst. It is never enough so you repeat the electric burst several times to get a sufficient amount. Then you put your hands under the electric faucet which senses your hand movement and, hopefully, turns on the water. It never stays on continuously so you are required to wave your hands repeatedly to re-trigger the electric switch to restart the flow.
I can’t imagine what one of these toilets must be like in the case of an extended power outage. It does not conjure up a pretty sight.
Why is it that in an age when we are encouraged to unscrew our incandescent light bulbs and replace them with LED ones we are experiencing these recently remodeled electric toilet facilities more and more? It seems pretty ass-backward to me.
Category Energy, Sanitation, Toilet | Tags: ass-backward, Ass-backward consumerism, capitalism, consumer diarrhea, Consumerism, crap, Energy, Environment, funny, Funny Shit, Humor, Sanitation, Soft and Fluffy Consumerism, Sustainable energy, thinking, toilet
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April 24, 2014 by John Crapper
Power plants retired or scheduled for retirement to date: 163
Power plants needing to be retired: 360
Dirty boilers announced for retirement: 461
Dirty boilers needing to be retired: 813
Dirty megawatts retired: 65,714
Dirty megawatts needing to be retired: 277,299
(An average coal-burning plant is 500 MW which powers roughly 260,000 houses a year.)
On its face it would be easy to jump to the conclusion that the fight to transition away from the most polluting power source currently in use is being won. That would be wrong. Let’s take a closer look at what is currently happening in this country and worldwide in terms of coal.
Coal companies, seeing little future growth domestically, have a new plan: strip-mine coal in Montana and Wyoming, transport it on long coal trains and massive cargo ships through Washington and Oregon, and sell it to Asia.
Coal Train Facts does a great job of describing what has happened, what is planned and what the impacts will be for all parties impacted by this proposal. Here are some important excerpts from the site. (I encourage you to click on the active link and read the entire article.)
China is building at least one new coal-fired power plant every week and has a seemingly limitless appetite for coal. The Powder River Basin in southeast Montana and northeast Wyoming has a seemingly limitless supply. There is increasing interest linking this supply with Asian demand through west coast coal terminals. Two potential sites in Washington state—Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point (Carrix/SSA Marine, Peabody Energy) and Millenium Bulk Terminal at Longview (Ambre Energy, Arch Coal)—are currently the most active projects, although other sites both in the States and in Canada are under consideration……
There are currently plans to develop the largest coal export facility in North America at Cherry Point, in northwest Washington state. The Gateway Pacific Terminal, a project of Pacific International Terminals, would be owned by SSA Marine, which is owned by Carrix, partnered with Goldman Sachs. Coal mined from the Powder River Basin by Peabody Energy would be hauled by trains along BNSF rail lines. The coal train corridor extends from mines in Montana and Wyoming through Sandpoint, Idaho to Spokane, down through the Columbia River Gorge, then up along the Puget Sound coast, passing through Longview, Tacoma, Seattle, Edmonds, Everett, Mt. Vernon, Bellingham, Ferndale and all points in between…
Transporting coal from the Powder River Basin to proposed west coast terminal sites would require unprecedented levels of regional rail usage. There are concerns not only about dramatically increased rail traffic, but also about negative impacts associated with coal trains specifically, due to train length, weight, content, and polluting capacity. The terminal at Cherry Point would see the addition of approximately 30 miles of coal trains daily to the BNSF rail line that runs along the Puget Sound coast. This would likely constrain passenger rail and adversely affect the transport of freight other than coal. The Washington state rail system is already nearing practical capacity; infrastructure would need to be upgraded to accommodate proposed usage. BNSF has been largely silent on the issue of rail improvements ; it remains unclear who would pay, and what kind of physical and economic disruption such upgrades would cause…
While the Gateway Pacific Terminal and the associated coal trains would be active in only the transport and export of coal, it is important to recognize that the only function of coal transport is to link coal mining to coal combustion: GPT and related enterprises need to be considered as part of this larger system. Each of the various processes associated with coal have negative effects on local economies, public health, communities and the environment. The coal mines in the Powder River Basin (Montana and Wyoming) continue to degrade local aquifers and water supplies. Coal combustion in China presents a serious health risk to the hundreds of millions of people, especially children, who live in affected airsheds. Coal combustion is also associated with negative impacts that transcend geographic borders. Ocean acidification, acid rain, mercury emissions, and climate change affect global populations, regardless of where the coal is burned. The financial cost accrued from health and environmental damages from coal mining, processing, transport and combustion are currently estimated at a third to over half a trillion dollars annually in the U.S. alone.
Here is a stunning statistic. If China’s carbon usage keeps pace with its economic growth, the country’s carbon dioxide emissions will reach 8 gigatons a year by 2030, which is equal to the entire world’s CO2 production today.
Some more recent data gives hope that this statistic will not be realized. In an article appearing April 16th 2014 at Climate Progress they report the following:
“The End of China’s Coal Boom” is a new, must-read chart-filled report from Greenpeace. It documents the response of China to the almost unimaginable life-shortening air pollution caused by its rapid growth in coal use.
One of its charts highlights the stunning statistic that over half of the growth in global carbon pollution in the past decade has come just from China’s increase in coal!
But that kind of growth of coal has more than just climate impacts. It is “draining the country’s arid west of precious water resources,” as Greenpeace itself noted.
And then there is the air pollution. Climate Progress has pointed out “when eight-year-olds start getting lung cancer that can be attributed to air pollution, you’ve got a problem. When smog forces schools, roads, and airports to shut down because visibility is less than 50 yards, you’ve got a problem. When a study finds that severe pollution is slashing an average of five-and-a-half years from the life expectancy in northern China, you’ve got a problem.”
The response by the Chinese government has been to require coal burning be cut — in some cases sharply — in China’s heavily populated eastern provinces…”
“Twelve of China’s 34 provinces, that burn 44% of the country’s coal, are committed to control their coal use. Some, like Beijing, have pledged ambitious cuts as steep as 50% in only five years.”
This puts China and hence the world much closer to the 2°C path, as the report points out. But if we are to have any chance whatsoever of getting anywhere near that essential target, China will have to commit to have coal consumption peak and then start declining in the 2020s. And we Americans will have to get off our butts, too.
The above article is encouraging in that the dire effects of coal burning might be taking such a drastic toll on enough people in China to alter their future course. But, personally, I take the pledge to reduce coal use by as much as 50% with a huge grain of salt.
China’s history of overly stating statistics on paper to portray a better than actual picture of reality is well documented. One only has to look at the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution for examples of hyperbole in this regard in terms of such things as food production and economic output. And having personally lived in Taiwan for one year (I know technically not China but they still share the same heritage) I can attest to this practice first hand.
World Coal Production
These are the most recent forecasts in Coal-fired Boilers: (World Analysis and Forecast published by the McIlvaine Company.)
World coal-fired power plant capacity will grow from 1,759,000 MW in 2010 to 2,384,000 MW in 2020. Some 80,000 MW will be replaced. So there will be 705,000 MW of new coal-fired boilers built. The annual new boiler sales will average 70,000 MW. The annual investment will be $140 billion.
Coal-fired power in Asia will rise to 1,464,000 MW in 2020 up from 918,000 MW this year. This will account for an increase in CO2 of 2.6 billion tons.
Coal-fired power in India will rise from 95,000 MW to 294,000 MW over the next 11 years. This accounts for the largest percentage rise (300) plus the biggest quantitative rise (199,000 MW). So India alone will increase CO2 by 955 million tons per year
So even if the US and Europe were to cut CO2 emissions by far more than the targeted 20 percent, the total CO2 increase from Asia will offset it by a wide margin.
Remember that saying “Think globally – Act locally.” When thinking of coal that is exactly what we need to do. We might be making some progress locally in this country but when you broaden out your thinking and think about the issue from a global perspective it is hard to use the word “progress” to describe what is currently happening. It is just a little ass-backwards.
And if the current proposal to ship coal from the west coast of the U.S. to China becomes a reality we will have taken a huge ass-backwards step in our fight to correct course to mend our fossil foolish ways.
Holy Shitters, using the lens of ass-forward thinking and putting the waste-end of things foremost in our minds must oppose this crappy proposal to ship coal across this country by rail to be put on a tanker to be shipped half way around the world to be burned in China. CO2 emissions do not recognize borders. We live in the same world and breath from the same air. It is not out of sight; out of mind for us.
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March 3, 2014 by John Crapper
I like analogies. They help me clarify my thoughts. When I was a teacher in Middle School at an International School in Bangkok, Thailand one movie we used in our instruction across the curriculum (math, science, social studies) was the Titanic. It got me thinking it might be an appropriate construct to use in the case of the upcoming decision by President Obama on the Keystone Pipeline.
Imagine mankind on a gigantic cruise ship called the “Lifestyle Titanic” on an excursion called “Discover Energy” sailing on the “Earth Ocean”. It is cruising at maximum speed. Passengers are berthed at all levels of accommodation. Some are in luxury, living it up in opulence, consuming and partying with abandon while others are toiling below deck struggling to survive.
The ship has been marketed as being unsinkable and passengers are constantly being assured of their safety.
The ship is equipped with the latest technology which is constantly being improved and updated. Special attention is given to the Energy Global Positioning System (EGPS) since fuel for the ship is critical for the continuance of both its voyage and ability to provide the lifestyle the passengers have become accustomed to living. It has been designed to run almost completely in auto pilot mode. All that is required is the plugging in of destinations and the ship will pretty much self-navigate to the desired ports of call.
The other major navigational system is the Storm Detection Radar System (SDRS) designed to spot storms on the horizon giving the captain time to set a new course if necessary. Up to this point the system has done a fairly good job of providing ample warning.
But lately scientists and engineers have been sending out a Climate Change SOS and advising there might be a flaw in the SDRS system. They have found evidence indicating a different kind of storm brewing and strengthening “under the radar”. Because this storm is not of a localized nature, able to be pinpointed to one specific local or weather system, it is not being picked up by the system.
The emerging storm has been called different names such as global warming and climate change but it basically refers to climate disruptions happening with ever increasing frequency and intensity. What really baffles the captain is their assertion that it is the cruise itself that is causing this storm to form.
One such caution was uttered back in May, 2012 by James Hanson a recognized expert on the building “Climate Disruption Storm”. He said the following about the upcoming decision to route the ship to a port of call at Keystone to hook up to a pipe carrying tar sands from Canada to Texas.
“If Canada proceeds, and we do nothing, it will be game over for the climate.
Canada’s tar sands, deposits of sand saturated with bitumen, contain twice the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by global oil use in our entire history. If we were to fully exploit this new oil source, and continue to burn our conventional oil, gas and coal supplies, concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere eventually would reach levels higher than in the Pliocene era, more than 2.5 million years ago, when sea level was at least 50 feet higher than it is now. That level of heat-trapping gases would assure that the disintegration of the ice sheets would accelerate out of control. Sea levels would rise and destroy coastal cities. Global temperatures would become intolerable. Twenty to 50 percent of the planet’s species would be driven to extinction. Civilization would be at risk.”
Back then Mr. Hanson warned the captain there would be drought in the West as an early indicator of this building storm.
And, low and behold, the captain just read an article appearing in Bloomberg February 3, 2014
“Cities and institutions across California are resorting to exceptional measures to deal with a worsening drought, from mandatory water restrictions in beachside Santa Cruz to voluntary cutbacks in Los Angeles.”
What was troubling the captain was that Keystone was the next destination he was being asked to plug into the Energy Global Positioning System (EGPS).
Environmentalists from multiple arenas had been shouting at him for quite some time from the top of their lungs, “Stop digging up more fossil fuel. Stop investing in more fossil fuelish projects. Stop building the infrastructure to accelerate access to fossil fuel deposits in ever more remote and difficult places. Stop the insanity.” They had been shooting lines from their tugboats attempting to tether to the ship and nudge it on a different course.
But the captain had his misgivings about all of these warnings and had been, up to this point, largely ignoring them. He said to himself, “This large storm on the horizon is off in the distant future. I must pay attention to the multiple immediate storms threatening the ship. That is what my operations manual instructs me to do.”
Besides his co-captains of industry had been constantly offering him their assurances that all was under control. “Every risk has properly been planned for to avoid any calamity. Don’t listen to these environmental outcasts. These spoilers are just trying to pour water on the party. They are always raining on everybody’s parade. Trust your business buddies and don’t pay any attention to their wolf cries foretelling of impending disaster. Rely on your fellow co-captains of industry for the truth. Keep the “Lifestyle Titanic” on course and traveling at full speed. It is the economy that is of paramount importance and to keep the consumptive juggernaut chugging away at top speed we need growth, jobs and most of all more fuel to keep the engines of capitalism churning ever faster and at greater volume. And the only place we can get the quantity of fuel necessary to keep things on course is from fossil sources.”
“The ship is unsinkable.”, assures head design engineer. “Full speed ahead. No reason to worry about any hazards. There is no reason to fret about the small number of lifeboats on board. They are only there for show and meant only to offer symbolic comfort and assurance to those on board. They will never be needed, rest assured of that.”
“We must insist you plug in the proper coordinates and set this ship on a course destined for multiple fossil fuel energy destinations.”, implored almost all his co-captains.
“We have plans to extract increased amounts of coal. We envision a
“coal train corridor…from mines in Montana and Wyoming through Sandpoint, Idaho to Spokane, down through the Columbia River Gorge, then up along the Puget Sound coast, passing through Longview, Tacoma, Seattle, Edmonds, Everett, Mt. Vernon, Bellingham, Ferndale and all points in between.”
“We have plans to increase production of natural gas through our state of the art technology called hydraulic fracturing. Rest assured, even though our formula we inject into the ground to free the natural gas is a corporate secret, it is 100% safe and will not contaminate the water supply.”
“We have plans to drill in the Arctic, in our wildlife preserves, and in our national parks. Rest assured sir, we will protect the natural beauty and wildlife of these places. It’s only the energy we are after.”
But of paramount concern to us right now is your approval of the Keystone destination. It is the key to our future. This needs to be our next port of call. To allow our “Discover Energy Cruise” to continue without interruption, to allow our passengers to continue to live in the lifestyle they have become accustomed and to allow the ship to continue its journey at full speed we need you to plug in these coordinates and set us on a course for this destination now. Further delay will spell problems.”
“Your State Department has just released a study that verifies the Keystone Pipeline destination will not speed up the so called climate storm forming in Earth Ocean. Besides, may we remind you that we still refute and deny any such storm is even forming. And you know we certainly have no reason whatsoever to lead you astray on this one. We are, after all, your co-captains in this venture.”
The captain had largely in the past taken the advice of his co-captains. But this time he had a gnawing feeling something wasn’t right. There had been more frequent and powerful hurricanes lately. High temperature records seemed to be more frequent and widespread of late.
His passengers had also been suffering the consequences. The level of overall disgruntlement and discontent was increasing on the ship.
Part of the source of discontent was coming from recent serious malfunctions in the air filtration system.
Another source of discontent was coming from water problems being discovered associated with fracking leading to both contamination and shortage worries.
Some passengers were actually disembarking from the ship and transferring to newer, cleaner smaller ones now being increasingly viewed as viable alternatives to the Lifestyle Titanic Cruise. They offered a cleaner, smoother ride to more interesting destinations and the promise of a never-ending source of cruising power. This drain on Lifestyle sales was just starting to show up on the balance sheet. He didn’t want to be blindsided by the emerging competition.
Most petty officers were advising plotting a different course for the ship, too. They counseled setting course more often to some of the same destinations these smaller ships were regularly visiting such as solar power, hydroelectric power, and wind power. They wanted the captain to start reducing the frequency and duration of visits to the fossil fuel locations.
But all of this required a slowing of the vessel and a lowering of lifestyle of passengers on board. It risked offending the delicate egos of his highest ranking officers.
He was torn and debating within himself which way to proceed. He knew it was a momentous moment. Whichever way he decided it would result in a titanic shift in the ships direction and destinations.
He decided to seek council from a wide range of sources including the passengers. He wanted to deflect and share the burden of this decision.
He hoped, regardless of the outcome, it would be expressed loudly and clearly. He wanted a clear mandate to point at when announcing his decision. If his passengers voices were loud and clear they would force his hand.
He anxiously awaited its outcome.
I have read lots of comments in the press and on this site stating that President Obama’s decision on the Keystone Pipeline is merely symbolic; that it will not make a difference in the grand scheme of things.
I disagree. I think it represents a “Titanic Shift” in direction that, if disapproved, could signal a dramatic course correction for the cruise ship “Lifestyle Titanic” on its excursion “Discover Energy”.
How it’s decided will signal our energy course going forward and determine just how deeply we’ll sail into the “Climate Disruption Storm” of which we are now hitting the outer edges.
Let’s send a clarion call! No KXL
A 30-day public comment period began on February 5, 2014 and will close on March 7, 2014. During this period, members of the public and other interested parties are encouraged to submit comments on the national interest determination to http://www.regulations.gov. Comments are not private and will be made public.
Comments may also be mailed directly to:
U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Energy Resources, Room 4843
Attn: Keystone XL Public Comments
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520
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February 17, 2014 by John Crapper
I just read the entire speech that Secretary of State Kerry delivered in Indonesia. It is posted here and I highly recommend reading it in it’s entirety.
In the speech he says all the right things and hits all the right bases. He’s asking for a groundswell of concern from the public regarding climate change. He’s asking for us to raise our voices. Although he never mentioned Keystone XL , after reading the speech I’m convinced he is sending out an appeal to us to weigh in big time on KXL approval soon to be decided by President Obama.
Take for instance this one paragraph:
Today I call on all of you in Indonesia and concerned citizens around the world to demand the resolve that is necessary from your leaders. Speak out. Make climate change an issue that no public official can ignore for another day. Make a transition towards clean energy the only plan that you are willing to accept.
This is our Secretary of State folks. He’s saying the right things and is doing his part. He’s making a big push on the issue right before the upcoming decision on KXL.
This is not a time, on our part, for cynicism or complacency. There is a window of opportunity open to us right now. That window is the public comment period on whether KXL is in this nation’s national interest. That window ends March 7th.
I like his message of hope and optimism but couched in the realism of the urgency that is needed.
Notwithstanding the stark choices that we face, here’s the good thing: there is still time. The window of time is still open for us to be able to manage this threat. But the window is closing. And so I wanted to come to Jakarta to talk to you because we need people all over the world to raise their voices and to be heard. There is still time for us to significantly cut greenhouse emissions and prevent the very worst consequences of climate change from ever happening at all. But we need to move on this, and we need to move together now. We just don’t have time to let a few loud interests groups hijack the climate conversation. And when I say that, you know what I’m talking about? I’m talking about big companies that like it the way it is that don’t want to change, and spend a lot of money to keep you and me and everybody from doing what we know we need to do.
I like his bottom line. The way he states so clearly how climate change imperils our national security.
The bottom line is this: … in a sense, climate change can now be considered another weapon of mass destruction, perhaps the world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction.
I like how he doesn’t affix blame to certain parties.
Nobody set out to make this happen. This is the consequence of the industrial revolution and the transformation of the world, and many of the advances that we made that have changed the world for the better came from these steps. But now we do know the attendant consequences that are linked to these actions.
I like the way he makes it global.
Because today, if even one or two economies neglects to respond to this threat, it can counter, erase all of the good work that the rest of the world has done. When I say we need a global solution, I mean we need a global solution.
I like the way he makes the issue his top priority.
This week I will be instructing all of the chiefs of our missions at American embassies all over the world to make climate change a top priority and to use all the tools of diplomacy that they have at their disposal in order to help address this threat.
I like the way he appeals to the world’s youth.
Now I tell you, I’m looking out at a young audience here. All of you are the leaders of the future. And what we’re talking about is what kind of world are we going to leave you. I know that some of what I’m talking about here today, it seems awful big, and some of it may even like it’s out of reach to you. But I have to tell you it’s not. One person in one place can make a difference – by talking about how they manage a building, how they heat a school, what kind of things you do for recycling, transportation you use. What you don’t – I think what you don’t hear enough about today, unfortunately, and I’ve saved it for the end, because I want you to leave here feeling, wow, we can get something done. There’s a big set of opportunities in front of us. And that’s because the most important news of all: that climate change isn’t only a challenge. It’s not only a burden. It also presents one of the greatest economic opportunities of all time.
I like the way he talks about the economic opportunity and appeals to business interests.
The global energy market is the future. The solution to climate change is energy policy. And this market is poised to be the largest market the world has ever known. Between now and 2035, investment in the energy sector is expected to reach nearly $17 trillion. That’s more than the entire GDP of China and India combined.
I like the way he compares it to the last boom business sector.
The great technology – many of you have your smart phones or your iPads, et cetera, here today – all of this technology that we use so much today was a $1 trillion market in the 1990s with 1 billion users. The energy market is a $6 trillion market with, today, 6 billion users, and it’s going to grow to maybe 9 billion users over the course of the next 20, 30, 40 years. The solution to climate change is as clear as the problem. The solution is making the right choices on energy policy. It’s as simple as that. And with a few smart choices, we can ensure that clean energy is the most attractive investment in the global energy sector.
Sure seems to be referring to Keystone here.
To do this, governments and international financial institutions need to stop providing incentives for the use of energy sources like coal and oil. Instead, we have to make the most of the innovative energy technology that entrepreneurs are developing all over the world – including here in Indonesia, where innovative companies like Sky Energy are building solar and battery storage and projects that can help power entire villages.
And just in case you didn’t get his message loud and clear how important it is for us to speak up at this critical juncture.
Human ingenuity has long proven its ability to solve seemingly insurmountable challenges. It is not a lack of ability that is a problem. It is a lack of political resolve that is standing in our way. And I will tell you as somebody who ran for elected office, when you hear from the people, when the people make it clear what they want and what they think they need, then people in politics respond.
Today I call on all of you in Indonesia and concerned citizens around the world to demand the resolve that is necessary from your leaders. Speak out. Make climate change an issue that no public official can ignore for another day. Make a transition towards clean energy the only plan that you are willing to accept.
And if we come together now, we can not only meet the challenge, we can create jobs and economic growth in every corner of the globe. We can clean up the air, we can improve the health of people, we can have greater security; we can make our neighborhoods healthier places to live; we can help ensure that farmers and fishers can still make a sustainable living and feed our communities; and we can avoid disputes and even entire wars over oil, water, and other limited resources. We can make good on the moral responsibility we all have to leave future generations with a planet that is clean and healthy and sustainable for the future.
Let’s send a clarion call! No KXL
A 30-day public comment period began on February 5, 2014 and will close on March 7, 2014. During this period, members of the public and other interested parties are encouraged to submit comments on the national interest determination to Regulations.gov . Comments are not private and will be made public.
Comments may also be mailed directly to:
U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Energy Resources, Room 4843
Attn: Keystone XL Public Comments
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520
For guidance on writing comments please refer to the excellent diary by Patriotic Daily News Clearinghouse.
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September 22, 2013 by John Crapper
Two years ago, retired NASA climatologist James Hansen famously said that if we allowed the development of Keystone XL, it would be “game over” for the climate. But today there were over 200 Draw the Line actions that took place across the country saying emphatically that that is not going to happen. You can click here to see where they occurred. I attended the one in Seattle. The keynote speaker was Bill McKibben. It was a great day of environmental activism. Please go below the fold to check out the pictures I took and some key things I learned.
There were workshops (in two sessions) on topics including: an overview of all of the infrastructure projects currently on the table in the Northwest, tar sands in Washington State, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the current status of the coal train proposals, ocean acidification, a possible WA carbon tax, Nonviolent Direct Action, and Plant for the Planet. There were kids art-making and Plant for the Planet tents in both sessions; and the whole event was family friendly.
The sessions were very informative and very well attended.
Following these workshops the crowd (between 1,000 -1,500) gathered to hear the speeches. Right before the speeches began the Plant for the Planet Amassadors confronted the nasty train trying to ship coal from west coast ports to markets in Asia.
These young Ambassadors were the first to speak and immediately touched the hearts of all in the crowd.
Then Friends of the Earth president Erich Pica took the stage.
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn introduced the keynote speaker of the day – 350.org founder Bill McKibben.
The day ended with people making pledges to continue the fight and partake in acts of peaceful civil disobedience if necessary.
And a human line in the sand.
Below are the workshops I attended and links so you can learn what I learned today.
A “free trade” agreement that would set rules on non-trade matters such as food safety, internet freedom, medicine costs, financial regulation, and the environment. 2. A binding international governance system that would require the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, and any other country that signs on to conform their domestic policies to its rules. 3. A secret trade negotiation that has included over 600 official corporate “trade advisors” while hiding the text from Members of Congress, governors, state legislators, the press, civil society, and the public.
From 350Seattle: This agreement is very bad news for anyone who cares about the environment. This agreement consists of 29 chapters and most have nothing to do with trade but instead impose limits on domistic food safety, health, environmental and other policies. The texts of these chapters have not been released to the public but 600 U.S. corporate “trade advisors” have full access. In essence the TPP privileges “investor rights over national sovereignty. Investor rights basically give corporations the same rights as sovereign nations and veto power over national laws.
For more information please investigate the following links.
For environment-specific information:
http://www.sierraclub.org/… (specific to fracking)
http://www.sierraclub.org/… (ditto, long version)
Recent economic conditions have been putting the brakes on these projects in general.
That message – that end times are upon us for global coal markets – is the gist of recent reports from Citi, Sanford Bernstein Company (proprietary), Deutsche Bank, Bank of America/Merrill Lynch, and Goldman Sachs. Citi’s report is the most recent, forecasting “peak coal” in China by the end of the decade. Perhaps the most significant for those following the proposed Northwest coal terminals is Goldman Sach’s recent warning to investors that the window of opportunity for global thermal coal infrastructure is slamming shut.
The two sites receiving the greatest push for expansion are Cherry Point, close to Bellingham, WA and Longview, WA
Largely due to the success of public comments the scope of the environmental impact statement (EIS) will evaluate a broad range of impacts.
1. A detailed assessment of rail transportation impacts in Whatcom County near the project site, specifically including Bellingham and Ferndale.
2. An assessment of how the project would affect human health, including impacts from related rail and vessel transportion in Whatcom County.
3. An evaluation of greenhouse gas emissions from terminal operations, and rail and vessel traffic.
In addition the study will include:
4. A detailed assessment of rail transportation on other representative communities in
Washington and a general analysis of out of state rail impacts.
5. An assessment of how the project would affect human health in Washington.
6. A general assessment of cargo ship impacts beyond Washington waters.
7. An evaluation and disclosure of greenhouse gas emissions of end use coal combustion.
We are in the public comment period to determine the scope of the environmental impact statement.
From Friends of the Earth:
If approved, the Millennium Bulk Terminals proposal in Longview, WA, would be the largest permitted coal export terminal in the United States, with plans to export 48.5 million tons of coal annually.
In addition to saying NO, this is your opportunity to provide input on what impacts you believe should be considered. There are a myriad of potential impacts from increased train and shipping traffic — harm to our fragile marine eco-systems, global warming and more. What’s important is that you voice your concerns!
Protect the Northwest from dirty coal exports – speak out at the hearings for the new Longview, WA, coal terminal. There are five hearings across the area to attend. Please RSVP for one here.
The five hearings:
Sept. 17, Cowlitz Expo Center, Longview, WA
Sept. 25, Spokane Convention Center, Spokane, WA
Oct. 1, The Trac Center, Pasco, WA
Oct. 9, Clark County Fairgrounds, Vancouver, WA
Oct. 17, Tacoma Convention Center, Tacoma, WA
Carbon Tax (Taken directly from the website):
The best climate change policy in the world is British Columbia’s carbon tax. (More on BC from our 2012 NY Times op ed, from this 2012 Sightline post, and from The Economist in 2011, plus here’s some historical perspective.)
Our vision is to bring a similar policy to Washington State to improve the state’s economy and the state’s environment. That means following BC’s lead by implementing a carbon tax of $30 per ton of CO2 (equivalent to about $0.30 per gallon of gasoline, $0.03 per kWh of coal-fired power, or $0.015 per kWh of natural gas-fired power). Such a tax would reduce carbon emissions and still raise about $2.3 billion per year in Washington State.
Plant for the Planet: I wrote about this extensively in our Climate Change SOS’s Hummingbird blogathon in my post entitled: Hummingbirds – Plant for the Planet. but they basically call for a 3-point plan.
1. Planting 1,000 billion trees.
2. Leave the fossil fuels in the ground.
3. Poverty into the museum through climate justice.
This article was originally posted at DailyKOS
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May 6, 2013 by John Crapper
There are many battles that have been fought, are now being fought, and will be fought to put this country on a path to energy sanity. Some battles have been lost and some have been won. All must be fought. The long-term goal is winning the war. One present battle being fought is over the Keystone Pipeline. If the battle is won it will be a step in the right direction and will take us one step closer to winning the environmental war of putting this country on a sustainable non-polluting renewable energy path. If we loose, it will be a setback and we’ll have to regroup. But we have no choice. We must continue the fight for our ultimate long-term goal of winning the war.
This current KXL fight reminds me of a personal experience my wife and I had in trying to achieve a long-term goal of our own about twenty-five years ago. That goal was to live overseas.
When we first set out we made a few miscalculations and missteps. We did not fully appreciate all the little things needing to be done on a day by day basis. For a while we kept giving lip service to it. One day it dawned on us while shopping we were actually doing many things on a day to day basis that were taking us away from our stated desire to move and live overseas. We sat down again and seriously examined our actions and vowed to focus our attention without waiver to its achievement.
After this serious discussion we constantly reminded ourselves to put the target of living overseas first and foremost in our thinking so our every action would directly lead to its accomplishment. Once we did this our day to day life became an eye-opening experience.
It was amazing how many times we caught ourselves getting ready to do something that not only wouldn’t get us closer but actually would move us further away. Take, for instance, in the area of our finances. We had set a goal of having the money to afford to travel overseas for one year. Yet numerous times we caught ourselves on the verge of purchasing a piece of furniture or household item that made no sense to purchase if we were serious about leaving the country. Sometimes it was hard to forego the item. We knew it would mean short-term sacrifice or inconvenience. Hold on, better not buy that piece of furniture even though it’s on sale. Makes no sense if we’re going overseas. Oops – Let’s pull back on going to that expensive show and fancy restaurant this Friday night. It would just blow the savings plan for our upcoming trip. These little day to day decisions meant some short-term sacrifice and inconvenience but were necessary to achieve the long-term target.
Our personal purchases and activity choices were not the only areas where we felt unease. Here we were in our early forties, happily married living in a wonderful newly remodeled home in Seattle. We were in successful careers and surrounded by wonderful friends. Life was good.
We were getting ready to give all this up, strap on 15 pound backpacks and go off into the wild blue yonder without any guarantee of ultimate destination or employment. Many of our friends called us crazy. “How could we chuck it all and just take off? What about our security and future?”, they said. It was unsettling to say the least as major change can be. But we did not allow ourselves to be deterred.
Well, to make a long story short, the one year of travel turned into fifteen years of overseas living. We landed excellent jobs in three different countries (Taiwan, Thailand and Burma). Our lives were enriched beyond belief. Our friends no longer called us crazy but instead indicated how lucky we were. The short-term sacrifices had paid off and a long-term dream with multiple benefits had been realized.
Now back to the KXL fight now being waged. Lots of politicians, business and community leaders, and just every day individuals speak of a desire to transition to renewable non-polluting energy. In the totality of all that needs to be done to alter our energy future to achieve this goal KXL represents just one step in the wrong direction. It is a day to day action that, if approved, leads us further away from achieving the long-term renewable energy goal. It is one of those day to day actions that we need to stop taking if we are serious.
Just as my wife and I had a serious discussion about our long-term goal of living overseas and what actions we had to do and not do on a day to day basis to achieve it, this nation needs to conduct that same kind of discussion and make that same kind of commitment. Just as in the short-term we felt some inconvenience, discomfort and unease with the future, we as a nation, will collectively feel the same way. But just as my wife and I reaped the benefits of that day to day perseverance this nation will also. Just as our perseverance led to a richer more fulfilling life for the two of us so too will we collectively be rewarded with a richer more fulfilling life.
The longer we wait the further off and more difficult it will be to achieve our secure non-polluting renewable energy future. It’s those little day to day decisions and actions that need to change in both our individual lives and within our institutions and businesses. It’s time for the discussion and our rock solid commitment. It’s the Key(stone) to achieving our stated long-term goal.
Hope and pray that President Obama makes the right decision.
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March 21, 2013 by John Crapper
For me, wealth is the ability to do things: grow crops, make products, move goods, improve efficiency, help others, buy new things.
To do things takes energy, so it follows that creating more energy and using it more efficiently will create more wealth.
I like to dream every now and then. I ask you to please take a moment and dream with me.
I believe the American people are looking for something big they can participate in to improve their lives. Now they feel a whole host of problems are beyond their control and drastically affecting them. These are big problems requiring national if not global solutions. They yearn to have a plan allowing them to participate in solving these big problems. I say let’s help them! We can make it happen!
It is well known that our economy is based on fossil fuel. It is also well known that we are highly dependent on foreign sources for our supply.
This dependency affects our national security and foreign policy. No one can really doubt that some of the money we send overseas to buy oil winds up funding the terrorists we are fighting against. No one can really doubt that our need to obtain oil from foreign countries limits our foreign policy options. No one can really doubt that this dependency fosters the need to put our soldiers in harms way. No one can really doubt that our dependency drains critical resources needed elsewhere.
Adding to these negative impacts is the fact that burning fossil fuel is polluting and changing our environment.
To date the energy issue has been a sideshow. It needs to be the issue that is woven into every facet of American public opinion. The American people need to be sold on an “Energy New Deal“ to fight our “War on Terror“. The American people need to be sold on an “Energy New Deal” to tackle climate change. The American people need to be sold on an “Energy New Deal” to retool our economy for a green energy future. The American people need to be sold on an “Energy New Deal” for a healthier, cleaner environment. The ideas are endless. It’s the focus that is needed.
A look back in time to the American economy during WWII reminds us what this country is capable of accomplishing when united in a common cause. I have a dream we will do it again.
But for right now that dream will have to wait for reality to play itself out. And the reality of today seems to be pointing in a much different direction. We have a President pursuing an “all of the above” energy strategy.
As reported in the UK Guardian this last Friday:
Barack Obama’s grand vision of action on climate change shrank to $200m a year to fund research into clean fuel cars, with signs of retreat on the big environmental issues of the day….
But on the most immediate environmental decision in his in-tray — the future of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline project – White House officials indicated on Friday that Obama’s green and liberal supporters would be in for a disappointment. Officials signalled that the president was inclined to approve the project.
And the Washington Post reported:
The Obama administration is leaning toward revising its landmark proposal to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants, according to several individuals briefed on the matter, a move that would delay tougher restrictions and could anger many environmentalists.
The White House appears utterly clueless about the importance of these issues and the self-destructive nature of its “all of the above” energy strategy.
The official dismissed environmental groups’ contention that building the pipeline would open up vast deposits of the Alberta tar sands, and so increase the emissions that cause climate change. “There have been thousands of miles of pipelines that have been built while President Obama has been in office, and I think the point is, is that it hasn’t necessarily had a significant impact one way or the other on addressing climate change,” the official said.
He added that Obama’s environmental policies would more than make up for any negative impacts from the Keystone XL project. “There’s no question of that.”
What there is no question of is my dream will be just that for the foreseeable future.
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