Archive for the Environment Category

We Need a New Energy Strategy

Posted in Environment on April 8, 2011 by Mort the Sport

I don’t have time to lay out the argument in a thousand words, but here’s a few pictures that are worth thousands.


Radiation Anyone?

Posted in Environment on March 21, 2011 by Mort the Sport

If you’re wondering how much radiation is good for you, here’s a link to a handy dandy chart.

I vote we ban nuclear energy.

And while I’m at it, here’s another article that I haven’t read:
Lesson from Japan: We don’t need nuclear power to solve the climate crisis

Libya — What about the Oil?

Posted in Africa, Environment, Middle East on March 18, 2011 by Mort the Sport

One writer at Grist has offered a fairly familiar reason that the US and the UN are doing very little in Côte d’Ivoire and have taken steps to set up the no-fly zone in Libya. One word: Oil.

After we ban nuclear energy, I vote we ban fossil fuel. I vote we get really innovative and drastically change our societies across the globe before a major die back changes our societies for us. Who’s with me?

Japan and Nuclear Power

Posted in Asia, Environment with tags , on March 17, 2011 by Black Pumpkin

Japan is suffering through a three part disaster.  First came the earthquake, then the tsunami, and now the meltdowns of their nuclear power plants.  My heart goes out to all the people of Japan and especially those that have been directly affected by one of these three disasters.  But I can’t help but think about the issue of nuclear power.

Nuclear power is not safe.  And it never will be safe.  There is always the potential of something like this going wrong.  And when it does, thousands and perhaps millions of people are affected.

Many people like to tout nuclear power as the answer to global warming since nuclear power doesn’t produce any greenhouse gases.  But we cannot forget about the very real danger that nuclear power plants pose to people all over the world.  All it takes is one natural disaster or terrorist attack to unleash nuclear radiation over a very wide area.  Not to mention the normal operation produces waste that needs to be stored for thousands of years.  That is just the normal operation.  It is really amazing that these things have been allowed to operate at all.  But the incident in Japan really needs to give everyone pause before we say that nuclear power is the way of the future.

All from McClatchy

Is Nuclear Worth It?

Rethinking Duke Energy’s plans

Is California in Peril from its Nuke plants?

Offshore drilling is just the beginning

Posted in Domestic, Environment with tags , , on April 1, 2010 by Black Pumpkin

So Obama wants to expand the offshore drilling of oil and natural gas.  Apparently the West Coast is immune for now.  Well, I am glad for that because I live in California, but I wouldn’t be too happy if I lived in Virginia or Florida.  Of course, none of us should be really happy about this.  But we shouldn’t be surprised.

White House spokesman Bill Burton said, “None of this should have been a surprise to anybody.”

No, I don’t think anyone would really call Obama an environmentalist.  We have heard very little about any environmental issues since the campaign simply because the focus has been on the economy and health care.  But whenever he did talk about the environment or energy, it was always in “pragmatic” terms.  Obama has always included offshore drilling and nuclear in his plans for a “comprehensive” energy plan.  So if you are surprised that the candidate for change is trying to expand offshore drilling, then you simply haven’t been paying attention.

In addition, there is talk (denied by the White House) that this is a move that is meant to try to win over the Republicans.  The idea being that Obama is trying to show that he is going to give a little to them and they will help him pass the climate change bill.  Really?  I doubt it.  I don’t think the Republicans care how much he gives them, they are not going to help pass any kind of climate change legislation.  Some of them still deny that it even exists, why would they want to pass a bill that helps a problem they don’t even think is a problem.  And of course, it would be something Obama and the rest of the Democrats want, so again that is not something that the Republicans want anything to do with.  Just look at health care and how helpful they were there.  They tried every trick in the book to stop that from getting passed. They are not in power so they are the Party of No.  Plain and simple.  The Democrats want to do something, anything, and the Republicans want to stop it at all costs.

I honestly think that Obama and the Democrats should just try to ram as much as they can through before they lose a bunch of seats in the upcoming election because the Republicans are just going to try to stop everything that the Democrats try to do anyway.  And if they want to filibuster, make them actually filibuster instead of just threatening to do it.  But of course, this is not going to happen.  The Democrats will hem and haw about what they can and can’t do.  And they will call for bipartisanship and they will try to make compromises with the Republicans.  And any bill on any issue, whether it is climate change or financial regulation or anything else, will be watered down and the Republicans will still vote against it.  It is so irritating to see this process play out over and over again.  But that’s what we get for thinking that the Democrats are on our side.  They are not even on their own side.

Most of the Democrats are just like the Republicans, not because they are conservative or even moderate but because they know where the money comes from.  They are beholden to the paymasters.  They don’t even have positions of their own, they just take the lead of those that keep them in office.  And of course, regardless of what the rhetoric is, this is the real reason why the legislation gets watered down, no matter what the issue is.

Again, just look at health care.  The rhetoric is that they want to make sure that everyone has insurance.  That and bipartisanship.  But the bill is really a giveaway to the health care industry.  And is there a public option that would provide any kind of cost control in the form of competition?  Of course not.  The Republicans wouldn’t have it and the health care industry certainly wouldn’t stand for that.  And so it goes.

So regardless of what the rhetoric will be around the climate change legislation, you can be rest assured that the oil and gas industries will get plenty when all is said and done.  Offshore drilling is just the beginning.

Failure in Copenhagen

Posted in Environment with tags , , , , on December 21, 2009 by Black Pumpkin

Now that the talks in Copenhagen for some kind of legally-binding agreement on climate change have ended in what can only be called failure, the blame game begins.  Everyone wants to know who is to blame.  And the finger pointing has already begun.

Ed Miliband, the Secratary of State for Energy and Climate Change (in the UK), says that it was China’s fault that the talks did not end with a binding agreement.  And while some are not as explicit in their denunciations, it is clear that their are some world leaders that wanted more out of the conference.  British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the talks were “held to ransom by a handful of countries” and overall they were “at best flawed and at worst chaotic.”

It is important to note that there was an agreement, the Copenhagen Accord, but it is not legally binding.  It calls on countries not to let the temperature rise by more than 2 degrees Celsius but does not have any requirements on how this is to be achieved.  Also, there were pledges from developed countries to give billions of dollars to developing nations to help mitigate the effects of climate change.

Not everyone was so quick to judge them a failure.  UN President Ban Ki-moon said the Copenhagen Accord was “a very important and very significant step forward.”  China’s Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi also praised the talks saying “the Copenhagen conference is not a destination but a new beginning.”

Well, if these are steps forward, they are baby steps and this new beginning is a very weak one.  And considering how difficult it was for this process to more forward, I can honestly say that I think we have no hope of tackling climate change before it is too late.  It will affect many parts of the world and countless lives will be lost or deeply impacted before we actually do something that will make a positive difference.  And that is why I think the Copenhagen talk can only be called a failure.

Sources: The Times (of London), AP, BBC News (all accessed through Google News)

Charles Krauthammer is Wrong

Posted in Environment with tags , , on December 11, 2009 by Black Pumpkin

In an op-ed in the Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer is talking about climate change and its mitigation.  Actually, he is all over the place.  He starts talking about the Third World trying to get money from the First World during the 70s and 80s and how they are doing it again under the guise of environmentalism.

Some developing countries (Third World) have said that the developed countries (First World) should pay for the measures needed to cut carbon emissions because they have been the ones that have historically polluted the most and have essentially created the problem we are now facing.  The developing world is arguing that they haven’t had the technology to produce the greenhouse gases that the industrialized world has been using for about two hundred years so they shouldn’t have to pay for a problem that they have had little to no input in creating.  That makes sense to me especially when you consider that the developed world also has much more money to throw at this particular problem.  (But how much should the industrialized world be paying?  This is one question that is being asked a lot in Copenhagen, but the answers are all over the place.)  Of course, Krauthammer is arguing against this “socialism.”

I will let his socialism comments slide this time because if the policies are done right, then it will be socialistic because it will truly benefit all the people of the world.  And that is exactly what we need: policies to correct the greenhouse gas/climate change problem because we are all in this together.  Some countries will obviously be affected more than others (just ask Tuvalu) but we all live on this planet and we either fix the problem or we will all have to deal with the consequences.

But as I said, Krauthammer is all over the place in his piece.  He starts out by arguing against this new form of socialism but he ends with the EPA and its new rules that would regulate greenhouse gases as harmful to human health.  He says that Congress should control greenhouse gases through the Clean Air Act or something similar.  I honestly don’t care who does it, but it needs to be done.  Now!  We can’t wait any longer for Congress or anyone else to dither and make excuses.  We need action before it’s too late.

So Charles Krauthammer is wrong about his call to stop what he calls environmental socialism and his assertion that Congress should be the ones to control greenhouse gases.  We simply can’t wait for them to pull their heads out of their asses.  Congress is really good at one thing: inaction.  And we need action and we need it now.