• Category Archives Environment
  • Palestine: A Land Forgotten; Isreal: The One Forgetting

    Peace in Palestine!

    Palestine.

    How much thought have you given Palestine recently?

    We live in a country (USA! USA!) where celebrity news trumps news of the suffering in the world. News of the starving in the world. News of those still facing genocide. Still facing abuse. Still lacking basic human rights.

    And we thrive to news of celebrity arrests, as if they matter one damn.

    At all.

    Had lunch with a now old friend, my friend is very young (comparable to my scalp line), but very, very wise.

    And very empathetic.

    My friend just returned from a half-month trip to Israel and Palestine (notice I’m naming them separately, as the two separate states the are, should be, shall be, Insha’Allah.

    God willing, that is.

    I will share with you in this space some of the amazing, alarming, and jaw-dropping things I learned from my friend today.

    Israel, the state (not all Israelis, not all Jews), but Israel is persecuting the Palestinians.

    And this must be stopped.

    Did you know, for example, that Israel controls all water and electricity into Palestinian regions?

    And, did you know, that Israel frequentlly cuts off all water and electricity if one Palestinian “misbehaves?”

    Did you know that it is illegal for an Israeli to enter Palestine? Did you know that, on average, Israel demolishes four Palestinian home a day?

    Did you know that Israel will not do trash pick-up in any region inhabited by Muslims, whether in the Old City, or Palestine?

    Did you know that the Israeli government then uses that reality to refer to the Palestinians as filthy, dirty animals?

    In short, did you know that Israel, to put it mildly, discriminates against the Palestinians, that the officials of the Israeli state refer to all Palestinians as “terrorists.”

    Did you know that, at the Dome of the Rock, Israeli soldiers guard the entrance, allowing only a certain number of Muslims to enter each day to pray?

    And did you know that Palestinians just want to live?

    To own property?

    To build homes (which is illegal now)?

    To be human?

    Thank you to my friend.

    More to follow.

    Insha’Allah.


  • Sen. Mark Kirk SOLD! To The Highest Bidder: voted to let Big Oil keep taking our money

    The following is from CREDO Action, and I urge you to take action:

    This past week, 48 Senators, including Sen. Mark Kirk, put Big Oil before the American people and helped defeat a bill that would have ended tax breaks for the five biggest oil companies.1

    How could anyone vote against a bill that would have kept $21 billion of American taxpayers’ money out of the pockets of cash-rich oil companies?

    One big reason is oil money in our political process. A lot of it. Oil and gas companies spent $39.5 million lobbying congress in just the first quarter of this year,2 and have donated tens of millions of dollars directly to the political campaigns of current Senators, including $199,200 to Sen. Mark Kirk.3

    Tell Sen. Mark Kirk: Stop putting oil company profits and campaign contributions ahead of the American people. Click here to automatically sign the petition.

    In all, three Democrats joined all but two Senate Republicans to protect Big Oil tax breaks that even a former Shell CEO said weren’t needed.4

    But make no mistake. Even though we didn’t get the 60 votes required for passage, our pressure to end oil subsidies is already working. More and more legislators are acting defensive about their support of Big Oil over the American people.

    In February, similar legislation to repeal some oil subsidies got only 44 votes. This time, we got 52 votes. That comes after CREDO Action members sent more than 225,000 petitions to the Senate and made more than 1,000 calls to 11 key Senators, six of whom flipped their position and voted to end tax breaks to Big Oil.

    Senate Majority leader Harry Reid said that despite this defeat, he will continue to push for ending oil subsides as part of negotiations on the budget and to raise the debt ceiling.5

    We need to keep the pressure on. And one key to breaking Big Oil’s grasp on our legislators is letting Congress know that we know about the millions of dollars that Big Oil has given them — including the $199,200 to Sen. Mark Kirk.

    Let’s make sure that voting to protect oil company profits doesn’t go unanswered by those of us who actually pay the price.

    Tell Sen. Mark Kirk: Stop putting oil company profits and campaign contributions ahead of the American people. Click here to automatically sign the petition.

    Thank you for taking action.

    Elijah Zarlin, Campaign Manager
    CREDO Action from Working Assets

    P.S. — Want to find out more about the Big Oil money going to our elected officials? Our friends at the Dirty Energy Money campaign have the scoop. Click here to see how much dirty energy money your Senators and other elected officials have taken.

    1. "Senate GOP Votes Down Bill To End Big Oil Subsidies," Huffington Post, May 17, 2011
    2. "Senators Opposing End of Oil Subsidies Received Five Times More in Big Oil Campaign Cash," Oil Change International, May 17, 2011
    3. Dirty Energy Money campaign data
    4. "Ex-Shell CEO Says Big Oil Can Live Without Subsidies ," National Journal, February 11, 2011

    Why, after all, should we continue to subsidize oil companies that are raking in record profits? And why, pray tell, would any United States senator, let alone one from the great state of Illinois, who claims to be fiscally prudent, stand up for Big Oil over the Illinois Tax Payers???


  • The Leak Goes On: BP Pipeline Leaking Fuel In Hammond, IN

    <p><a href=”http://cbs2chicago.com/local/bp.leak.hammond.2.1867557.html”>From  CBS 2 Chicago</a>:</p>
    <blockquote>
    <p>It appears BP has another leak to deal with; this one, in our own   backyard. A mixture of diesel fuel and gasoline is apparently leaking   from a BP pipeline into a neighborhood in Hammond, Indiana, making life   for residents there pretty miserable. CBS2’s Mike Parker reports.</p>
    <p>A major east-west thoroughfare, 175th Street in Hammond, is closed to   traffic for two or three blocks because an excavation crew is now   working for BP, trying to locate the leak in the pipeline – to find it   and fix it. <br />
    <br />
    As that work goes on, some folks have reported a   gasoline-like smell outside and inside their homes. It’s been going on   for 10 days now. <br />
    <br />
    Luis Corral, who lives next to the excavation site, was one of the first to report it. <br />
    <br />
    &quot;I was worried about a fire, or some kind of explosion more than a fire,&quot; said Corral. <br />
    <br />
    &quot;We’ve   continued to do air monitoring in the neighborhood, as well as a number   of the residents’ houses to make sure that the residences are safe,   that the neighborhood is safe,&quot; said BP spokesman Tom Keilman. <br />
    <br />
    When asked if everything is safe right now, Keilman said, &quot;That is in fact true.&quot; <br />
    <br />
    The federal EPA has ordered BP to shut down the pipeline until the leak is found and fixed. BP says it has done that.</p>
    </blockquote>
    <p>Great. More oil. Leaking freely into the environment.</p>
    <p>Great.</p>


  • I Want My Next Car To Be A Chevy Volt

    Chevy Volt

    I want a Chevy Volt. For my next car.

    The Economist took the Volt for a spin, and the review sounds promising:

    So how does the Volt/Ampera drive? Overall, pretty impressively. As a well-used pre-production car, the one we road-tested still had a few rough edges. The basic architecture of the surprisingly spacious cabin was in place, but the high-quality soft mouldings that will grace the car when it goes on sale had not yet been fitted. There was also a slightly disconcerting whistle from the exhaust when the range extender engine was working hard, though this can be easily fixed. The suspension settings need a bit of fine-tuning, particularly for ragged British blacktop. But otherwise, the car was extraordinarily refined. It is whisper silent in most conditions—it is mostly hard to tell when the range extender engine is running—and unfussed even at high motorway speeds. Acceleration is strong (0-60mph takes about nine seconds) thanks to the instant torque served up by the electric motor, while the car’s handling is neat and precise thanks partly to the low centre of gravity that is created by installing the T-shaped battery pack along what would be the transmission tunnel in a conventional car.

    The Ampera has a range of 350 miles before it needs refuelling and a notional thirst of 175mpg on a long journey which translates to carbon dioxide emissions of about 40g/km. Most of the time, however, the car will run without any need for the petrol engine, the batteries needing only three hours’ charging from a domestic socket to deliver 40 miles of electric-only running. GM reckons that the cost of an electrically driven Ampera mile is a fifth of a petrol-driven mile in an ordinary car. Used daily for a 40-mile commute, the Ampera could save its owner more than £2,000 a year given European petrol prices. As for reliability, the battery is guaranteed against any failure for 10 years. Some of the strain is taken off it by software that stops it being depleted to less that 30% of its capacity before the generator starts working, and prevents it ever being charged to more than 80%. Apart from the battery, there’s nothing much to go wrong, and servicing will be at intervals of around 20,000 miles.


  • Merle Savage: Workers Cleaning Oil from the Gulf Need Respirators

    I received an email this evening from Merle Savage that included a link to the video above. In the video, she references her Web site, Silence in the Sound. Her plea is simple: give respirators to those working to clean the oil hemorrhaging from the Gulf of Mexico, because the oil is toxic. Ms. Savage is asking that we help spread the word.

    Here’s a 2009 release from Silence in the Sound:

    My name is Merle Savage; I worked as a female general foreman for VECO, during the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill beach cleanup in Prince William Sound, Alaska. After working for 3 days on the oily beaches, I had a persistent cough that developed into bronchitis, headaches, sore throat, upset stomach and fatigue. On the 4th day I reported to the sick bay and was given medication by the doctor who was supplied by VECO, and on the way to my room, I fainted. I had 3 days of bed rest, but went back to work with recurring symptoms. Of the workers that I supervised 80% had the same medical problems. I wonder how many other cleanup workers, like me, went home thinking we would get better, but didn’t? The symptoms escalated until my medical condition took over my life, and was so bad that I have been unable to hold a job.

    I know my medical condition was caused, in part by, the toxic fumes I breathed while cleaning the oily beaches, that was outlined in Dr. Riki Ott’s book, Sound Truth and Corporate Myth and DVD, Black Wave. She stated people were sick, and how Exxon didn?t tell the federal health officials about thousands and thousands of workers who had respiratory illnesses during the 1989 cleanup. She had found that many survivors of the cleanup, like me, are continuing to struggle, after 20 years, without any compensation from Exxon. Some of the illnesses workers are having include; neurological impairment, chronic respiratory disease, leukemia, lymphoma, brain tumors, liver damage, kidney damage, cancers, and blood diseases.

    Dr. Ott’s web site is: http://www.rikiott.com another short video that exposes medical issues generated by Exxon’s toxic cleanup is: http://video.google.com.

    I wrote a book, Silence in the Sound, about my experiences during the cleanup, and have listed many stories about other workers on my web site, who have similar health issues like mine. http://www.silenceinthesound.com/stories.shtml

    I am convinced that Exxon’s toxic cleanup poisoned me, and thousands of other cleanup workers. I found a law firm, Barnett and Lerner to represent me in order to secure future medical care, payment for past medical care and possible compensation.

    The firm of Barnett and Lerner is able to represent anyone who was exposed to the poison vapors. I invite you to visit their web site http://www.barnettandlerner.com sign on as clients, and allow them to represent your interest against VECO.

    Silence in the Sound : The Adventure
    is available from Amazon.


  • Louisiana’s Bad Marriage to the Oil Industry

    The state of Louisiana is in a bad marriage that can only end badly.

    From The Nation:

    No state in the union has been more firmly wedded to the oil and gas industry than Louisiana. No more zealous preachers of the clean oil gospel can be found than the state’s politicians, who were elected by oil money (at the high end of industry campaign funding) and have defended the industry from regulation (including wetland protections), reduced its royalties with tax breaks and "royalty holidays" (thereby depriving the US Treasury of some $53 billion in revenues from existing offshore leases) and beaten the drums for opening the Atlantic Coast and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil development… because Louisiana’s experience showed oil and the environment to be so compatible. State brochures feature pelicans and oil platforms against the setting sun. The largest exhibit in New Orleans’s Audubon Aquarium of the Americas contains the base of an oil rig, around which swim contented fish, framed by the logos of Shell, Chevron and BP. We have improved on Eden.

    The real story was always otherwise; it was just rarely told. Oil was first found in Louisiana a hundred years ago, and the finds swiftly moved south to the coastal zone. Oil companies appropriated the coastal parishes, most notoriously Plaquemines, ground zero for the BP slick; Texaco’s leases in Plaquemines were arranged by the parish district attorney, who conveniently reported only part of the proceeds to the parish police jury and kept the rest (a fact that is emerging only after his death, in a family feud). Local politicians in their pockets, Texaco et al. had one remaining problem: getting men and equipment to the drill sites and laying pipelines to carry off the gold. In the companies’ way were some 5 million acres of coastal marsh, one of the most biologically productive zones in North America.

    The solution was soon to come: floating dredges, which would dig canals to the wellheads and more canals for the pipelines. These dredges have worked nonstop ever since. They have ripped through the wetlands of southern Louisiana like bulldozers, severing bayous, drowning adjacent marshes, draining others and introducing salt water from the Gulf of Mexico that sears the plant roots, at which point they disintegrate and the coastal marsh system, made up of billions of stems and roots of living things, falls apart like wet cardboard. There were alternative means of access, but industry rejected them. It could also have backfilled the canals when the job was done, but this too was rejected. The reasons were remarkably like BP’s: those approaches would take time, cost money.

    The dredging was not occasional, or here or there. It was pandemic. The industry has laced 8,000 miles of canals and pipelines through the Louisiana wetlands, each one eroding laterally over time, less an assault at this point than a cancer. They are supported by larger navigation canals, requested by the industry and built by the ever-willing Army Corps of Engineers. One such canal, the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, after killing off 39,000 acres of forest and wetlands between New Orleans and the gulf, ushered Hurricane Katrina right into the city. If you drive down any bayou road in southern Louisiana, you will see marsh grasses out the window. If you fly over them in a plane and look down, you see something that looks like northern New Jersey: water roads and open water through isolated patches of green. The next time you fly over, there will be even less green. We have been losing twenty-five square miles of coastal Louisiana every year, in major part to these canals, to serve the oil and gas industry, which has made tidy sums in the bargain. When I last looked, six oil and energy corporations were listed in the world’s top ten.

    And there’s more. Consider this:

    Louisiana, the state most vulnerable to climate change and sea level rise, leads the charge against EPA regulation of carbon dioxide (letters of opposition from no fewer than four state agencies and the governor, which must be a record) and the president’s climate change bill.

    Now the oil comes home.


  • A Hole in the World: The BP Oil Hemorrhage

    It’s not an oil spill. There is no mere spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

    There is a hole in the world. The floor of the Gulf of Mexico is hemorrhaging oil, and no one has a clue how to stop it. When they finally do plug the hold, the damage will likely be with us for decades.

    From The Nation:

    How long will it take for an ecosystem this ravaged to be "restored and made whole," as Obama’s interior secretary pledged it would be? It’s not at all clear that such a thing is even possible, at least not in a time frame we can easily wrap our heads around. The Alaskan fisheries have yet to recover fully from the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill, and some species of fish never returned. Government scientists estimate that as much as a Valdez-worth of oil may be entering the Gulf Coast waters every four days. An even worse prognosis emerges from the 1991 Gulf War spill, when an estimated 11 million barrels of oil were dumped into the Persian Gulf—the largest spill ever. It’s not a perfect comparison, since so little cleanup was done, but according to a study conducted twelve years after the disaster in the Persian Gulf, nearly 90 percent of the impacted muddy salt marshes and mangroves were still profoundly damaged.

    We do know this: far from being "made whole," the Gulf Coast, more than likely, will be diminished. Its rich waters and crowded skies will be less alive than they are today. The physical space many communities occupy on the map will also shrink, thanks to erosion. And the coast’s legendary culture will contract and wither. The fishing families up and down the coast do not just gather food, after all. They hold up an intricate network that includes family tradition, cuisine, music, art and endangered languages—much like the roots of grass holding up the land in the marsh. Without fishing, these unique cultures lose their root system, the very ground on which they stand. (BP, for its part, is well aware of the limits of recovery. The company’s "Gulf of Mexico Regional Oil Spill Response Plan" specifically instructs officials not to make "promises that property, ecology, or anything else will be restored to normal." Which is no doubt why its officials consistently favor folksy terms like "make it right.")

    If Katrina pulled back the curtain on racism, the BP disaster pulls back the curtain on something far more hidden: how little control even the most ingenious among us have over the awesome, intricately interconnected natural forces with which we so casually meddle. BP cannot plug the hole in the Earth that it made. Obama cannot order brown pelicans not to go extinct (no matter whose ass he kicks). No amount of money—not BP’s recently pledged $20 billion, not $100 billion—can replace a culture that has lost its roots. And while our politicians and corporate leaders have yet to come to terms with these humbling truths, the people whose air, water and livelihoods have been contaminated are losing their illusions fast.

    "Everything is dying," a woman said as the town hall meeting was coming to a close. "How can you honestly tell us that our gulf is resilient and will bounce back? Because not one of you up here has a hint as to what is going to happen to our gulf. You sit up here with a straight face and act like you know, when you don’t know."

    "Everything is dying."


  • More Carbon per Kilowatt: New Study Finds Greenhouse Gasses are Soaring

    Found this hiding on Science Magazine’s Web site from 2007:

    Stopping the runaway train of world carbon emissions is getting harder by the day, a new global analysis suggests. The culprit is a voracious global appetite for carbon-heavy fossil fuels. In 2003 and 2004, the amount of carbon released for every joule of energy used increased, reversing a long-standing trend, the study reports. That means greenhouse gas levels are rising even faster than previously feared, the authors say, although others aren’t so sure.

    As countries develop, they typically generate less carbon dioxide for every unit of energy used. That’s because they typically move away from coal toward more carbon-efficient fuels such as natural gas, and economies evolve away from heavy manufacturing toward less energy-intensive service industries. But that trend of less carbon dioxide per unit of energy seems to be reversing globally.

    Christopher Field of the Carnegie Institution in Palo Alto, California, and co-authors analyzed the relations between energy use, carbon emissions, and economics using public data through 2004. The bottom line: From 2000 to 2004, emissions levels have increased 3% per year–three times the rate of increase from 1990 to 1999.

    In case any of our critics from the right are reading, Christopher Field is not Al Gore.