Category Archives: The Environment

Wendell Berry and the “Inverting of the Economic Order”

wendell-berry[2]Wendell Berry has written one very powerful message for the The Progressive (Sept., 2009)  magazine. This article by Berry ( a farmer and writer in Kentucky)  is one that provides unusual clarity into the practical, but also the moral, problems with our economy.  I usually have an aversion to copying material like this, but the message so deserves to be disseminated, I will do it, just this one time…

Read more here.

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Filed under Populists, The Economy, The Environment

“The Unchilled Life”: “Living” sans A.C.

This NYTimes story reminded me of another Wichita writer, Gaylord Dold, who wrote a series of murder mysteries set in the 1950’s Wichita, KS.  He described the joys of living summers in Wichita without air conditioning.  This has been an unusually cool and damp summer here in the Air Capital of the World;  most summers by this time of the season, my grass is pretty brown and getting browner – not so much this year.

As the Times article points out, many are turning off their A.C.s due to economic hardship, but a subset of air conditioning spurner’s are doing so due to green living and health motivations.  One A.C. terminator states:

“It’s not like we’re health-nut crazies or a bunch of dirty hippies dancing naked around the fire. We’re all white-collar geeks living an exurban lifestyle. We just all share the philosophy of rolling with the seasons if you can.”

Other adherents to turning the A.C. off indicate that they lose weight during the summer by being outside more and eating less.

Sorry guys, this is not a trend that I am going to get excited about…

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Filed under Economics, Healthcare, Kansas, The Economy, The Environment

Republicans counting on Climate Change Bill to save them

Renewable environmentRepublicans 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.”

fnord

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Filed under Climate Change, The Environment

THE HUMAN SPONGE.

sponge_bob2Are 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.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ogallala_changes_1980-1995.svg

jammer5

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Filed under Climate Change, Crimes, Economics, Kansas, The Environment

THE WINDMILLS OF KANSAS.

Many may have seen the parts going down the highway, the staff that will hold them and the giant blades passing by. I know I had seen them going through town and wondered just where they were heading.

The windmills that are to provide power, but I did not know where they would be erected.

We made our annual trip to Parsons, Kansas yesterday, on the way back I glanced toward the South as we traveled back West. At first I thought it was a tall high line power tower. Then I noticed what I was taking for the Y shape of the top was moving! One large blades followed by another, then I saw there were more.

Rows of them all turning in the wind and stretching Southward.

I finally looked for a land mark that would give a point of reference as to where they were. I read the sign saying the Butler county fishing lake and pointing down a dirt road. I was amazed, I would look over my shoulder out the back window and it seemed every time the field of windmills had grown! How was it that I did not noticed them on our way East I wondered? They were so large and covering so much land it seem impossible to not have notice.

I knew they would be somewhere but actually seeing them was a moment of amazement!

The windmills of Kansas, the promise of a future of green energy and maybe just a future.

I know the day will come when such sights are common place and the likes will bring no more thought then we do at seeing a Microwave in the kitchen. But for now it was a meaningful sight for me, kind of like when I will see my first whale swimming free in the Ocean.

tosmarttobegop

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Filed under The Environment

Legal Weed May Save America!

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: ADMnews people ) and ConAgra Foods (nyse: CAGnews people ) as potential growers or distributors and liquor businesses like Constellation Brands (nyse: STZnews people ) and Allied Domecq (nyse: AEDnews 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

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Filed under Bartering, Climate Change, Drug Wars, Economics, Humor, Republicans, taxes, The Economy, The Environment

Ken Salazar, Interior Secretary, don’t ignore science, please!

polar bearPolar 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!

fnord

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Filed under Climate Change, The Environment