Category Archives: Climate Change
“In the republic of mediocrity, genius is dangerous.” –Robert Green Ingersoll
Recently I watched the documentary “Who Killed the Electric Car?” Though no ONE entity was singled out as the murderer, it was evident that the car companies, in collusion with the gas and oil industry were mostly to blame. GM designed and produced viable electric cars that were found to be extremely satisfactory to those few people who were lucky enough to be allowed to lease and drive them. They were called EV 1. If you haven’t seen this documentary, I recommend it. In a period of about five years, GM went from making a viable electric car for which demand was building to collecting them all and sending them to the scrap yards.
After watching this movie, my husband and I recalled two other movies, both of which were fiction, but told similar stories. Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988) and Flash of Genius (2008) were two films about inventors that were crushed by the automobile industry, sometimes with the help of government. In Tucker, a man reinvented the automobile with visionary safety features and a stylish design. Before he could even get the car on the market, the SEC shut him down, for all intents and purposes. Tucker was brought to trial and eventually found Not Guilty of charges of fraud and misuse of funds. In Flash, a man invents a motor that will allow windshield wipers to run intermittently and the invention is stolen by Ford Motor Company. After years of fighting Ford in court, the inventor, Bob Kearns, was finally vindicated and received a settlement. Both of these films were based on actual events.
Thinking about both of these stories also brought to mind the arrest of John DeLorean in 1982. DeLorean, in case you don’t know or recall, was an automobile engineer responsible for developing the Pontiac GTO and the Pontiac Firebird. He left GM to start his own car company in 1973. The DeLorean Motor Company produced a single vehicle, the DMC 12, before the company went bankrupt. Though DeLorean was struggling, the bankruptcy became fait accompli when the Federal Government entrapped John DeLorean in a drug sting in 1982. Though it took years, DeLorean cleared his name in the end.
All of this made me wonder if any new company can be successful in this sort of climate. Growing up I was taught that if you worked hard and applied yourself, our society would reward your ingenuity. It appears as though our corporations have gotten so powerful that they use governmental agencies to squash ingenuity and steal it. The case I make here is based on the automotive industry, but I wonder if there are other stories like this from other industries.
And I wonder if America is doomed to a future of institutionalized mediocrity enforced by governmental agencies to maintain the status quo for powerful corporate interests.
I also see mediocrity rewarded daily in businesses in this country. I have spoken with co-workers at length and everyone has a story of their own and many of their relatives have also spoken of how mediocrity is rewarded and ingenuity is crushed. I wonder how many of you here have your own stories? Perhaps we as Americans should start to compile these stories in order to get a better grip on the magnitude of the problem.
I am a huge fan of Randy Olson’s. He directed the documentary A Flock of Dodos which covered the Kansas debate on evolution v. Intelligent Design. Olson grew up in the Kansas City region, attended K.U. and his mother lived close to a proponant of the Intelligent Design position.
Dr. Olson has a PhD from Harvard where he studied evolutionary biology. It has not been completely clear to me why Olson made a switch from a career as a marine biologist to a film maker, but I suspect his divorce was a life-changing event. Besides A Flock of Dodos, Olson completed a “mockumentary” on the global warming debate called Sizzle: A Global Warming Comedy which covered the the “scientific debate” against global warming.
Olson recently published a book entitled Don’t Be Such a Scientist: Talking Substance in an Age of Style. In this work Dr. Olson covers the strength and weaknesses of film vs. other forms of communication. Film doesn’t so much educate as it imspires. Being new to these notions of films, this was quite an educational experience for me; I have a copy available for loan.
I am humbled. There aren’t words — this girl said them all better than I will ever be able to.
“This is the famous speech by Severn Suzuki when she was 12 years old in 1992 to United Nations.”
And still, nothing has changed.
I hesitated to post this so soon aftwe fnord’s excellent Kennedy post [I will see if I can back date it], but on North Oliver a little south of 29th Street North, yesterday, I saw an Armadillo who had been on the unfortunate receiving end of some contact with a motor vehicle. I had heard that Armadillos were showing up in Kansas, but this one was the first one I’d seen ino our state.
I wonder if them showing up here is in some way a reflection of global warming? What do you bloggers think?
An interesting bit of trivia, all Armadillo litters of babies are made up identical quadruplets. This is supposed to be some sort of selective advantage, though I am not recalling what that was. Anyone else know?
A bit of advice I’ve heard: it is a good idea to not drive over an Armadillo if you can avoid it. They jump up and can really wreak havic on a car’s undercarriage.
Republicans have long ago given up having ideas or solutions of their own, and set their fortunes on the Democratic Party messing up badly enough that voters will turn to them. Yesterday when the global warming energy legislation narrowly passed the House, the GOP members began chanting, ““B.T.U., B.T.U.” and seemed almost in a celebratory mood. Always the Party to look backward instead of forward, they are counting on 1993.
According to an article in The New York Times, Friday’s vote will be the ‘way back’ for the Republican Party.
“House Democrats, in the early months of the Clinton administration, reluctantly backed a proposed B.T.U. tax — a new levy on each unit of energy consumed — only to see it ignored by the Senate and seized as a campaign issue by Republicans, who took control of the House the next year. A lot of Democrat members got burnt on that vote,” warned Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the House Republican leader, who called the climate change measure the defining vote of this, the 111th, Congress.”
A new report from federal scientists does not mince words in demanding action on climate change. Though the info in the report, titled “Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States,” is nothing new, the size of the report, its timing, and the clear language used are all notable, The Washington Post reports. “Climate change over this century will challenge the ability of society and natural systems to adapt,” the report says, which was released as Congress begins to consider a bill that would include drastic measures such as the first national cap on emissions.
Are any of you aware of how much water you use every time you sit down for dinner? Well, me neither, until I read “When the River Runs Dry” by Fred Pearce. Here is a partial list of that:
One portion of rice= = 25 gallons, two pieces of toast = 40 gallons, two egg omelet or small salad = 130 gallons, glass of milk = 265 gallons, one serving of ice cream = 400 gallons, one pork chop – 530 gallons, one hamburger = 800 gallons, one steak = 1320 gallons, cup of coffee = 37 gallons, one teaspoon of sugar = 50 gallons.
All that water, and little that can be done to recoup it. Hydroponics has come a long way, but feeding millions using that method is just not practical. The grain glut on the world market is a problem that can be addressed, though. For every pound of wheat we export, we are exporting 130 gallons of virtual water. That is what it takes to grow that pound of wheat. And we lead the world in exporting virtual water, make no mistake about that.
All that means we have to do a much better job of conserving the one precious resource we can’t live without. Take the Ogallala aquifer, that vast underground storage system spread beneath eight states. The aquifer leading water experts say if no water was drawn from any more, it would take two thousand years to replenish. That same aquifer T Boone Pickens wants to own so he can sell its water to Dallas/Fort Worth. One day, if the powers that be don’t realize the importance of the aquifer for all eight states, it could run dry. If that happens, God help us all. The following is a link to a map showing the declining water level in the aquifer. I might add the map is fourteen years old, so water levels are even less today.
Okay, I sorta promised the Friggin Loon some kinda’ post about pot saving America. I’m sure everybody expects some snark and humor, and we’ll get to that. First though, let’s go to POT CLASS 101. In a quick search for some jokes to steal, I came upon much more serious journalism on the subject than anything else. Seems that Cheech and Chong classic bits have been eclipsed by world economists and scientists. Kinda takes the fun out of it. Also for any ‘active’ users out there, let me remind you, today is NATIONAL DONUT DAY. Support your local Donut dealer.
FORBES MAGAZINE, POT & THE ECONOMY: Milton Friedman leads a list of more than 500 economists from around the U.S. who today will publicly endorse a Harvard University economist’s report on the costs of marijuana prohibition and the potential revenue gains from the U.S. government instead legalizing it and taxing its sale. Ending prohibition enforcement would save $7.7 billion in combined state and federal spending, the report says, while taxation would yield up to $6.2 billion a year.
The report, “The Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition,” (available at www.prohibitioncosts.org) was written by Jeffrey A. Miron, a professor at Harvard , and largely paid for by the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), a Washington, D.C., group advocating the review and liberalization of marijuana laws.
At 92, Friedman is revered as one of the great champions of free-market capitalism during the years of U.S. rivalry with Communism. He is also passionate about the need to legalize marijuana, among other drugs, for both financial and moral reasons.
If the laws change, large beneficiaries might include large agricultural groups like Archer Daniels Midland (nyse: ADM – news – people ) and ConAgra Foods (nyse: CAG – news – people ) as potential growers or distributors and liquor businesses like Constellation Brands (nyse: STZ – news – people ) and Allied Domecq (nyse: AED – news – people ), which understand the distribution of intoxicants. Full article here – http://www.forbes.com/2005/06/02/cz_qh_0602pot.html
THE ENVIRONMENT; Industrial Hemp for Paper: One acre of hemp in annual rotation will produce as much pulp for paper as 4.1 acres of trees during the same twenty year period. Hemp can be grown and harvested every year, unlike trees that take fifty to one hundred years to grow back. Hemp can be grown in more areas of the world than trees. Making paper from trees creates over five times more pollution than making paper from hemp. Since 1937, 70% of our national forests have been destroyed.
Industrial Hemp for Clothing: Hemp produces three times as much fiber per acre as cotton. While cotton is grown on only 3% of the world’s farmland, it uses a devastating 26% of the world’s pesticides per year. Hemp requires no pesticides or herbicides to grow.
Industrial Hemp for Energy. Since pre-industrial times, carbon dioxide levels have risen by almost 30% due to deforestation and fossil fuel combustion. The United States currently burns fossil fuels for 93% of its energy needs and consumes 25% of the world’s supply. The hydrocarbons in hemp can be processed into a wide range of biomass energy sources, including fuel pellets, liquid fuels and gas. Development of biofuels could significantly reduce our consumption of fossil fuels and nuclear power.
Eco-friendly hemp can relace almost all toxic petro-chemical products. Research is being done to use hemp in manufacturing biodegradable plastic products. more here http://www.hamline.edu/personal/dhudson/eng3370/3370s01/lutterman/hemp5.html
Medical Marijuana is frequently beneficial in the treatment of serious medical conditions. Medical marijuana has been deemed legitimate (by at least one court, legislature, and/or government agency in the United States) for treatment of the following medical conditions: AIDS, Glaucoma, Cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, Epilepsy, Chronic Pain. more here http://www.compassionatecoalition.org/mmjinfo/uses
Polar bears are in danger of becoming extinct, and the reason for this is the alarmingly fast melting of sea ice in the Arctic, and when you know that the reason the ice is melting is because of climate change, you can’t just keep ignoring science.
Sadly, that’s what happened under the Bush administration.
Now we’ve got President Obama and he understands and wants to address protecting our environment, right? Well, evidently not! Here’s what his new guy, Ken Salazar, says:
“We must do all we can to help the polar bear recover, recognizing that the greatest threat to the polar bear is the melting of Arctic sea ice caused by climate change,” Salazar said in a statement. “However, the Endangered Species Act is not the proper mechanism for controlling our nation’s carbon emissions. Instead, we need a comprehensive energy and climate strategy that curbs climate change and its impacts — including the loss of sea ice. Both President Obama and I are committed to achieving that goal.”
Is he saying something like, “We know what the problem is, and we know this is a vehicle for making those changes happen sooner rather than later, but we’re not going to take it. We’ll find some other way, somewhere down the road. Some day.”
There are going to have to be rules and reform. I’m truly disappointed!
Since I know that many of you are missing the inane arguments from the other place, I thought I would do my civic duty and report on what the Cicadas are saying. They, according to this scientist, are thinking that their underground homes are getting too hot and they are leaving them early. This has been a consistent pattern and attributed by this scientist as more evidence of climate change.
More information here.