Friday, April 27, 2007

A warmer than usual Earth Day.

This past Sunday (4/22) was Earth Day, and rather than help some local politicians with another campaign photo op, I decided to do some research on a real environmental problem. Some call it global warming. Some call it climate change. Al Gore calls it a climate crisis. I watched Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" again this Earth Day. Gore's "Earth in Balance" had a real influence on me in college, and was one reason I was so disappointed with his tenure as Vice President and his second presidential campaign. But this is about the change in Our world's climate, Our effect on that change, and what behavior we can employ to lessen or slow this global environmental concern, and not about what's wrong with Al Gore or why he shouldn't run for President again (at least not now).
Temperatures in the US and around the globe have gone up steadily over the last few years. The the ten warmest years have occurred since 1995. Temperatures rise more at the poles than the equator causing the melting of glaciers, ice sheets, and permafrost. I heard, the once funny, dennis miller comment "Excuse me for not trusting temperature figures from the year 1906." He went on to reference something that no one ever heard of (He's so smart). I don't mean to pick on the comedian turned kool aid drinker, but, the funny thing is that's not how the data was gathered. It's gathered and calculated by taking huge core samples of arctic ice and testing the pockets of air trapped in them for gaseous content and temperature. Science is based on facts. Actual concrete data is what theories, like "global warming" and "gravity", are based on. These temperature increases are predominantly caused by heating trapping gases in Our atmosphere. These heat trapping, or global warming gases, contain carbon atoms that hold heat. Methane and Carbon Dioxide are the two such heat trapping hydrocarbons found in the Earth's atmosphere that we expel as well as release through the burning of "fossil" fuels.

Changes in temperature directly lead to changes in the winds and currents that produce the world's weather systems. Taken separately each weather event can be chalked up to "crazy" weather, but the cumulative total for all of the intense weather is much harder to to explain away? Science teaches that the warmer the water the stronger the storm. Hurricane Katrina was a category one hurricane until it stalled over the warm, and getting warmer, waters of the Gulf of Mexico. There are many examples of extraordinarily intense storms around the world in the past few years. Changes in jet streams and weather systems not only changes the volume of precipitation and speed of wind it also affects the location of rain/snowfall, bringing floods to one region and drought to others.

I understand those who feel that people are more important than animals, but the dying off of animals and habitats closer to the poles and in the oceans affect human life and left unchecked the habitats that are effected will be closer and closer to home. Ecology taught me that life lives in an intricate web with all other life. Prey and predator. Feeder and Food. Plants turn sunlight into chemical energy/food. Animals eat the plants, or other animals that eat the plants, for that energy. The decomposer eats the dead animal or plant, redepositing the nutrients into the soil a future plant will in turn use. Disrupting one part of the web has an effect on all the parts, whether direct and immediate or indirect and further down the road. Why not keep intact a network that has worked for so long and is so much larger than Us.

Why not take a preemptive strike, a preventative measure in an attempt to avert this threat to Our Existence and Way of Life. Even if Our effect on nature is relatively small, why not do everything we can to help. How many "skeptics" does it take to screw in an energy efficient light bulb? What's wrong with having electric cars with rechargeable batteries? When California mandated a certain amount of zero emission cars, the auto makers made 'em. It can be done.
And to those who might say "what about the auto workers?", I ask "how are they doing under the current policy?" Toyota for the first time ever sold more cars than GM. Did you know that Our automotive fuel efficiency standards are less stringent than China's?!?! While we're on the subject of China, many of the kool aiders spout out the "What about China?" argument when talking about Our inaction on climate change and the Kyoto Treaty. My mother's answer for them would probably go something like "If China jumped off a bridge would you do it too?" Personally, I like Laurie David and Sheryl Crow's answer after their face to face confrontation with rover at the White House Coorespondent's dinner. "Since when do we follows China's lead?"

We were once on the forefront of technology. Why slow that trend? Especially when that technology can be used to help solve a global problem, whether in the short term or long term. Pollution in the air is unhealthy. Why not reduce it? We don't have enough oil to maintain even 50% our consumption, causing obvious tensions and demands on Our foreign policy (see the "Middle East"). Why not reduce that consumption?

The changes to your everyday life don't necessarily have to be drastic to make a difference. Buying energy efficient light bulbs and appliances will help reduce Our dependence on oil, as well as your gas and electric bills. Rechargeable batteries help save the energy used to make new ones. Recycling, in general, reduces the energy used to make new products. Buying items with less packaging helps reduce the amount of petroleum needed to make all that styrofoam and plastic wrap, while reducing the waste stream. Buying locally produced goods lessens the gas used to ship. Buying organic reduces the petroleum, electricity, and energy used to make and use pesticides and herbicides. I also like to think, the smaller the farmer the smaller his machinery, and the smaller his footprint on the Land. Walking, biking, using mass transit, the stairs, and non-electric doors whenever possible helps. It just comes down to being aware of the effect your actions have.

As for the big problem of where to get our energy if not from oil, it must come in the form of a combination of several, if not all of Our current choices. France is powered by nuCLEar power, recycling the waste. There is a potential problem with the residual plutonium, though. Brazil uses ethanol, though forests have been cleared for the sugar cane used to produce it. A recent study claims certain health issues as well. Biodiesel reduces pollution and oil consumption, but has similar land use issues to Ethanol. Solar and Wind power are being used around the world. The choices are out there and once someone in power finds the balls to stand up to big oil, maybe we'll once again see the United States of America take the helm as the scientific and technological leader in the world, instead of the moving backward, away from the rest of the world.

Here are the thoughts of a few experts:
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
The National Academy of Scientists
National Geographic
American Meteorological Society
The World Meteorological Organization

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Events and Multiple Choice

This Saturday on the Great Hill of Central Park (up by 106th Street) there will be an "impeachment fair" as one of the Nation wide Impeach protests taking place on April 28th. People will also be gathering in Coney Island to spell out Impeach on the beach.

May 1st marks the four year anniversary of "Mission Accomplished".

Tonight will be the first, of many, televised Democratic Candidate Primary Debates.

The Squid's Ink is now on MySpace. Mainly for videos and pics, I think.

Oh yeah, and here's a quick multiple choice (not that I know the answer):
Which economic indicator am I supposed to pay the most attention to?
a) The Dow breaking the 13,000 mark
b) The British Pound breaking the $2 mark, a 26 year high. (The Euro is at a 2 year high)
c) Toyota beating GM.
d) The "surge" in foreclosure filings in the first quarter of 2007. "There were more than 430,000 foreclosure filings nationwide, one for every 264 households."

Thursday, April 19, 2007

What a Friggin' Week.

Talk about an awful week, this week saw the massacre of 33 people at Virginia Tech. A 23 year old man, who has lived in this country for 14 years, legally purchased two handguns and enough ammunition for a siege. He killed two people in one dorm and then two hours later went into a classroom where he killed 31 more. Some people argue that to combat gun violence we need more people with guns. Some are blaming the victims for not "bum rushing" the crazed murderer. The people responsible for this, the person who deserves All the blame is the killer, the shooter. As for arming everyone, do you really think that this guy is the only crazy person out there? I would be willing to bet that there was a lot more gun violence in the wild west than there is in Our current, more regulated society. I know, guns don't kill people by themselves, but they sure make it a hell of a lot easier. Handguns are not used for hunting. Glock 9mm's are not rare enough to be a collectible. I see no reason for their sale to any member of the public. Unless, of course, you are a member of "A well regulated Militia". The failure-in-chief went to Virginia Tech the day after the massacre. Maybe he learned something from the Katrina aftermath after all. Who knows, he may even attend a military funeral soon.

At least 171 people died in four bombings in Baghdad on Wednesday. One week after al qaeda bombed Algerians and claimed responsibility for bombing the Iraqi Parliament deep inside the "green zone" (video). There was also the bombing of a major Baghdad bridge over the Tigris. Bombings like these may be the reason for recent calls for a "timetable" for the Iraqi armed forces to take over by the end of 2007coming from THE IRAQI PRIME MINISTER (not to mention a list of Democrats). The resignation of muqtada al sadr (the name saddam's executioners were chanting) loyalists from the Iraqi parliament might be another reason for it. It probably wasn't the Pope saying that there's "nothing positive coming out of Iraq" or the Red Cross's report that the situation in Iraq is "ever worsening". To be fair, there have been some achievements made in Iraq (Warning: link to a sarcastic article)

Back to this Country, and more specifically the Great State of New Jersey, Governor Corzine's condition remains stable after he broke 6 ribs on each side, a collarbone, a femur, and his sternum in a car accident on the Garden State Parkway. Turns out the trooper may have been doing 91 MPH before the accident. My question is: "What was he doing in the front seat?". State Senate President Richard Codey is the acting Governor. This is his second stint as Acting Governor. Perhaps someone's trying to tell him something. His first week was certainly "flooded" with activity.

I leave you with a Great interview from the Progressive. Lewis Black rules!

Oh yeah, and 10 out of 15 countries the US can not be trusted to act responsibly and it takes two US dollars to make an English pound.

Just a couple of quick comments
1. Firearm injuries are one of the top ten causes of death in the U.S.
2. 29,569 deaths in 2004
3. A total of 233 people died in Iraq on Wednesday.

Possible photoshop/caption contest:
The funniest pictures of bush.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Mr. Vonnegut, Tell Mark Twain I said Hello.

Kurt Vonnegut, the brilliantly dark comic satirist, died today of brain injuries caused by a fall he took several weeks ago. He was 84.

His writings will live on forever. Cat's Cradle is my favorite, though Slaughter House Five is a close second. His last book, “A Man Without a Country.” a collection of biographical essays was a pretty damn good read too, as was everything else I've ever read by him. He will be missed.

From his Blues for America '07 (January 2006 Sunday Herald):

If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph:
Rest in peace, Mr. Vonnegut.

“We are healthy only to the extent that our ideas are humane.”
Kurt Vonnegut

"So it Goes."

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

John Murtha and Barak Obama

For those of you who didn't see it Monday night (neither did I), here is Senator Barak Obama's appearance on Late Night with David Letterman.

And here is what Congressman John Murtha had to say about the failure-in-chief's veto threat:

My Response to the President's Veto Threat
by Representative John Murtha

I have just been informed that the 4th Infantry Division is preparing to deploy to Iraq with only eight months at home and without the appropriate training. This is unacceptable. The stress on our military due to the manner in which the president has waged the war in Iraq is no longer tolerable. Due to continuous and extended deployments to Iraq, our military is running out of troops and equipment and is being forced to abandon its own rotation and deployment guidelines in order to sustain the president's war plan. In short, our military has been forced to do too much with too little. Our military readiness has deteriorated to levels not seen since Vietnam and our ability to fight future threats is severely compromised. Yet the president refuses to address this most vital issue. In reaction to the disastrous manner in which the president has run the war, Congress passed the Iraq Accountability Act in both houses. This bill provides resources to address the readiness problem, puts the onus on the Iraqi Government to internally solve its own civil war and provides the beginnings of a safe and responsible return of our United States forces from Iraq. The Constitution expressly places the power 'to raise and support Armies,' and 'to provide and maintain a Navy' with Congress. It is, therefore, Congress' responsibility to raise the revenues for our military and to determine in what manner and by what means they shall be spent. For four years, the president has been waging a war without end and without accountability. The Iraq Accountability Act expresses the sentiment of the Congress and the majority of the American people who say it's time for a plan to safely and responsibly end the war.

I'll be back later in the week to discuss the recent parade of flowers and sweets in Iraq, the Pope, and any other news that doesn't concern don imus or the sopranos.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Good News!

There's some good news this week, for a change. The Supreme Court ruled against both junior's administration and electric utility companies this past week in two decisions that favored Clean Air over the policy of the president. With their 9-0 vote, the Court ruled that Duke Energy and all other polluting power plants can no longer avoid the enforcement of the Clean Air Act, much to the dismay of bush and his oil buddies. The other decision that has so many environmentalists sending out giddy mass emails was the 5-4 decision making CO2, and other heat trapping gases, official pollutants to be enforced by EPA. This ruling goes directly against bush's do nothing policy on global warming or as he likes to call it, global climate change.

And there's more good news. The 15 British soldiers were released from Iran. The freed soldiers were pictured in suits, and not the hooded orange ones that US prisoners, released to be tortured in other nations, usually don. In a grand propaganda stunt, Iranian president mahmoud ahmadinjad announced the prisoners were pardoned and free. To add to what he called "an Easter gift" to England he dressed all the male prisoners in tie-less suits, like the ones he wears. What's so sad about all this is that Iran can talk about the moral high ground. These prisoners were not water boarded. They were not chained for hours in crazy positions, covered with human excrement, or scared they were to be eaten by dogs. The image of 15 smiling suited soldiers is in obvious contrast to that of a hooded prisoner connected to electric wires. It is a sin what this administration and it's war has done to Our National image.

In "its way too early to even talk about" campaign news, the first quarter fund raising reports came in with Senators Clinton and Obama neck and neck with about $26,000,000.00, which puts them both well ahead of flip flop mit, who leads the reds for president's fundraising so far. The interesting thing about Barak Obama is his money came from 100,000 different donors, 50,000 of which came through the internet machine. ABC News is reporting that 90 percent of Obama's donors contributed $100 or less. That's pretty damn grass roots right there. Speaking of Democratic Candidates and grass, Governor and 2008 Presidential candidate, Bill Richardson, signed into state law a bill legalizing medical marijuana. He may have just stolen the hippy vote from Congressman Kucinich.

It's so nice to type about good news that I'll refrain from discussing the overly secure trip to a baghdad market taken by senator "americans can safely walk in some neighborhoods" mccain, or the hypocrisy of bush condemning House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's trip to Syria, and not saying a word about the GOP representatives on the same diplomatic mission. No, there will be no talk of al qaeda's resurgence in Pakistan, today. We'll save that talk for next week.

Have a Happy Spring Break!