Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day!!!

Happy Earth Day ... you should be celebrating Earth Day EVERY DAY!!! ... this is from today's Progress Report:

Commemorating Earth Day

On April 22, 1970, 20 million people across American observed the world's first Earth Day. On that day, the nation was faced with rampant and highly visible forms of pollution -- valleys filled with drums of hazardous chemicals, thick clouds of smog hung over our cities, Ohio's Cuyahoga River caught fire, and towns were constructed on toxic waste sites. Although much has changed since 1970, the Earth is far from protected. In the last 100 years, the planet has warmed by 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit. Global carbon dioxide levels are at their highest levels in 650,000 years, possibly 20 million years. As polar ice sheets recede,"sea levels could rise by up to one-and-a-half meters by the end of this century." As Americans from coast to coast commemorate Earth Day with clean-ups, summits, parties and concerts, today is a reminder, in the words of Vice President Al Gore, that the next generation will either ask, "What were they thinking?" or "How did they find the courage to rise and solve a crisis so many said was impossible to solve?" "That choice is ours and we must make it now."

GREEN JOBS: At a time when the economy is at the forefront of Americans' minds, the appeal of "green-collar" jobs is reaching beyond the traditional environmental crowd. "The green revolution isn't just creating new and different jobs," said David Foster, executive director of the Blue Green Alliance, a joint venture between two unlikely bedfellows, the Sierra Club and the United Steelworkers. "It's revitalizing and creating new investment in a lot of the jobs we already have." Bracken Hendricks, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, explains, "If we are smart about it, building a green economy will mean new economic development, greater prosperity, and more opportunity for those who need good jobs most." While much of the hype surrounding green jobs has focused on entrepreneurs, most of the jobs are being created in less glamorous sectors: weatherizing homes and offices, installing solar panels, and retrofitting factories with energy-efficient technologies. "This is not an eco-elite, eco-chic movement for people who can afford to buy hybrid cars and shop at Whole Foods," says Van Jones, founder of Green for All, a California-based organization that promotes green job training for low income people. "The green economy to come is going to be a broad-shouldered, mass movement of American labor." Although the development of new technologies is part of the story, green jobs are also about job security. "Making homes, offices and factories more energy efficient not only saves money, it also represents a huge growth opportunity for the people who build our communities and keep them running," said Frances Beinecke, President of the Natural Resources Defense Council. "We're talking about architects and engineers. Drywall and lighting contractors. Electricians and carpenters. Everything from construction to computing. And these are jobs that cannot be shipped offshore, and pay lasting dividends to the American economy."

THE ECONOMICS OF CONSERVATION: Sustainable practices offer both environmental and economic benefits. A recent study released by the Environmental Protection Agency indicates that the global warming reductions mandated by pending global warming legislation, the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act, would have "limited impact on overall economic growth, and lead to very small increases in electricity prices." A paper released by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) yields similar results. The EDF finds "a clear consensus among leading economic models that a cap-and-trade policy to cut global warming pollution is consistent with long-term economic growth." Nathaniel Keohane, EDF's director of economic policy and analysis, explains the economic impact of conservation in layman's terms. "Put another way, our gross domestic product is projected to reach $26 trillion in January 2030. If we capped greenhouse gases, according to these studies, the economy would hit that same mark by April." This week Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) plans to introduce a bill giving incentives to lenders and financial institutions to provide lower interest loans and other benefits to consumers who build, buy, or remodel their homes and businesses to improve their energy efficiency. The Sierra Club calculates, "Replacing 10 regular light bulbs in your home with compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) would net you savings of $92 in one year."

GREEN SUCCESS: Schools, businesses, communities, cities, and places of worship have taken progressive steps towards cost-effective energy efficiency. The owner of seven franchised fast-food restaurants in Oklahoma has shown that the installation of energy-efficient lighting, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, ceiling fans, and ice makers can reduce energy costs by 40 percent and save $20,000. Small towns in industrial Michigan are making bolder, greener moves. Ypsilanti is testing out LED street lights. Wyandotte is installing solar panels on its schools and preparing to build wind turbines on the Detroit River. Ferndale is working to develop a full fleet of fuel efficient city-owned vehicles. A group of Catholic nuns renovated their 80-year-old Motherhouse by including geothermal heating, a graywater recycling system, green plumbing, and cooling and electrical systems. Even in parts of the United States that have long touted environmentalism, Americans are going above and beyond. According to a new Sightline report, Washington, Oregon, and Idaho have cut back on per capita gasoline consumption by 11 percent from 1999 to 2007, or nearly a gallon a week on average. Portland ranks as the top large American city for the number of commuters biking to work. As explained by Rep. Earl Blumenhauer (D-OR), founding member of the Congressional Bike Caucus, "Bicycling is one of the cleanest, healthiest, most energy-efficient and environmentally friendly modes of transportation that exists today."

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

What Did I See???

Yesterday (4/7/08) I took a Hummer full of folks up to Joshua Tree National Park on a tour ... we were at one of our stops ... where the world's largest Joshua Trees are ... I looked out and in the sky was a brushed silver cylinder (like a short fat toilet paper roll on end) just hanging in the sky (I wish I could say how far away it was) ... not moving one bit ... I turned to the people and said, "Do you see that???" ... when I turned back it was gone ... it was around 3:30pm, extremely clear skies and no wind ... I think I saw a UFO for the first time!!!

My theory about UFOs is that they're not from another planet ... I used to say they're people from the future who are time traveling back to this time ... now I don't know what to think now that I've seen one.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

"... From My COLD DEAD HANDS!!!"

I guess we can get that gun from Charlton Heston now.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Go Al Go!!!

From today's Progress Report:

We Can Solve It

On Monday, former Vice President Al Gore and his climate change awareness organization, the Alliance for Climate Protection, launched a $300 million, three-year campaign to teach "people in the US and around the world that the climate crisis is both urgent and solvable." The "We" campaign "aims to enlist 10 million volunteers through a combination of network and cable commercials, display ads…and online social networks." Funding for the campaign includes Gore's Nobel Peace Prize money and all the profits from his documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth." The campaign will launch televison advertisements later this week that "will team up offbeat celebrity couples who may not have much in common but share a belief that it is important to address climate change." These "unlikely alliances" include House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and former Speaker Newt Gingrich, the outspoken pastors Al Sharpton and Pat Robertson, and the Dixie Chicks and Toby Keith, country music stars on opposite sides of the partisan divide.

GREAT GREENWASH: While spending $100 million per year is remarkable for an issue-based public advocacy campaign, it is dwarfed by the $700 billion market in annual corporate advertising and public relations spending. The companies in the polluting sectors, such as energy, transportation, agribusiness, chemical, and manufacturing, recognize the economic stakes of fighting climate legislation. Their efforts involve public campaigns that "greenwash" their environmental record, arguing that global warming is not their fault. For example, the "clean" coal industry is sponsoring a $20 million lobbying campaign by the National Mining Association and a $40 million astroturfing campaign by front group Americans for Balanced Energy Choices. The American Clean Skies Foundation, a "clean" natural gas industry front group, is launching a "multi-million dollar media advocacy campaign" on Earth Day. The "ultra-clean" auto industry trade group Alliance for Automobile Manufacturers runs its "Discover the Alternatives" campaign -- while lobbying against increased fuel economy standards and filing suit against the regulation of tailpipe greenhouse emissions. The "clean" nuclear industry has established the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition to promote nuclear's low global warming footprint -- while ignoring the unsolved problem of radioactive waste. Big Oil's $100 million trade organization, the American Petroleum Institute, spends millions a year promoting projects like the "Energy Tomorrow" campaign -- which blames ethanol for rising fuel prices -- and buying goodwill from science teachers, environmental groups, volunteer organizations, and even bloggers, all while lobbying to keep billion-dollar tax breaks for oil companies.

FOSSIL FOOLS DAY: Executive from the five largest private oil companies -- ExxonMobil, BP, Royal Dutch Shell, ConocoPhillips, and Chevron -- are on the hot seat today. Company executives have been called to testify this morning before the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming for enjoying record profits from the unprecedented run-up in oil prices as they block attempts to roll back billions in unnecessary tax breaks and fight efforts to tackle global warming. Each company spends billions a year to develop new oil and gas reserves such as the Alberta tar sands and the Chukchi Sea polar bear habitat, as well as millions of dollars on greenwashing campaigns with slogans such as "The Power of Human Energy" and "Target Neutral." Youth climate activists are celebrating "Fossil Fools Day" today with international protests of the fossil fuel industry. They declared Ken Lewis, CEO of Bank America, the "Fossil Fool of the Year" for his bank's financing of coal-fired plants and mountaintop removal.

TEN TRILLION DOLLARS: The "We" campaign will amplify the calls of those asking the U.S. to join the rest of the industrialized world in cutting the six billion tons of carbon dioxide emitted by U.S. polluters each year. The European Union, since 2005, has done so with a "cap and trade" system -- the government sets a cap on total global warming pollution each year and runs a tradable pollution allowance market to allow companies to choose how to achieve the necessary reductions. A bill to establish a similar system for most emitting sectors in the United States, the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act (S. 2191), was approved by Sen. Barbara Boxer's (D-CA) Environment and Public Works Committee in December and is slated to reach the Senate floor in June. The Environmental Protection Agency's economic modeling of the bill finds that its cap-and-trade system would generate pollution allowances worth well over $100 billion a year, a total of approximately ten trillion dollars over its multi-decade lifetime. The necessary transition to a low-carbon economy by 2050 will involve dramatic transformations of the American economy. This generational change offers the possibility to rebuild our economic engine on the principles of sustainability, opportunity, and justice, or to ignore that opportunity and further consolidate control in the hands of the few. Who benefits likely depends on whether the efforts of Gore and other activists -- or perhaps Mother Nature herself -- can evoke "a change in the public's sense of urgency in addressing this crisis."