Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day!

I wanted to write about how jobs increased in 33 states in March, how Newsweek explained that the economy is beginning to come around, how the DOW is over 11,000 again, how congress had 1,000 less earmarks in 2009, about $3 BILLION reduction, how 98% of Americans got a tax cut from President Obama's first budget, how Goldman Sachs has been charged by the SEC for fraud, and how the President sent out a memorandum mandating same sex couples' rights to hospital visitation and medical power of attorney, but it is Earth Day. So instead I wanted to write about what We can do to celebrate it.

Think
I try to think about, remember, and send "good vibes" to my family and friends o
n their birthdays. The first thing you can do to celebrate Earth Day is to do just that. Think for a second or two about where We, as a species, have come from and what we are doing to ourselves and the world we live in. Think about a time when people gathered, hunted and farmed raw land to feed and shelter themselves. Think about how much electricity, water, and gas you use in a day. Think about the resources needed to provide them. Think about how far the food you're eating was trucked or shipped before it hit your table. Think about how the land, and its inhabitants were treated to provide it. The thought itself is something.

Reduce
Conserving energy does not have to be a drastic all at once change in lifestyle. Taking the stairs instead of an elevator or escalator, or unplugging chargers after use, are examples of small things you can do that make a difference. The more people that take these steps, the larger the cumulative effect. Changing your light bulbs from incandescent to compact fluorescent reduces your energy consumption. The bulb's longer life reduces your consumption of light bulbs and the resources that make them. Some take issue with the mercury content in the new bulbs. There is a Superfund site in Hoboken because of Mercury pollution due to manufacturing Incandescent light bulbs, so you tell me which is worse. Another way to reduce is to not use gas, electric, or batteries for an hour on Earth Day. Make it a weekly habit, if you can.

Shop

When shopping, be conscious of the materials used to create the products you buy and the packaging they are contained in.
Buying in bulk means less packaging overall. Don't take a bag unless it's necessary and if it is use a reusable shopping bag. If you don't have one, buy one. Avoid plastics whenever possible. When buying something made of or wrapped in plastic, check to see if it is made of soy/corn plastic or has a recycling symbol with a #1 or #2 inside on it. These are the most recyclable plastics.

Recycle!
Recycle everything you can. Recycling saves tax dollars and, in many cases, creates revenue for local governments. Every little bit helps, as the tabs from tea bags in my recycling can attest. Choose glass over plastic. Glass can be recycled
over and over again, while plastic can be recycled once at best. Similarly this is why I choose paper over plastic. Less petroleum is used in making paper bags than plastic, and paper bags can be and are usually made recycled materials. You can recycle aluminum foil.

Eat and Enjoy.
The meat industry is responsible for as much, if not more, damage to Our environment that any other industry, whether we are talking about ground and groundwater pollution or greenhouse gases. Eating vegetarian, if only one day a week, eases the environmental degradation caused by what We eat. There is still some nutritional debate about organic versus conventional farming, but there isn't a debate about which pollutes more. The less synthetic pesticides, herbicides, etc. the better. If you can get your food from a local source, i.e. farmer, do it. Chances are it's fresher. It is what We were meant to eat in that region during that season, and less petroleum was used shipping it. Plant a Garden.

Lastly, Enjoy. Go to the park, plant a tree, get dirty, lay in the grass, sit under a tree, take a hike or a bike ride, breath in the air, smell the flowers. Try to reconnect to and Enjoy this place We live on. While you're out there, if you see a piece of litter, why not pick it up.

Happy Earth Day!
David Calamoneri
Hoboken, NJ USA

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Fear, Change and Reaction

Since the Fear for Our safety inside Our shores was shockingly brought to the American psyche in 2001, I have been afraid. A fear that was used to usher us into a war in Afghanistan (which still isn't going real well), and rush us into war of aggression in Iraq (which we should be mostly out of soon). A fear used to get Us to hand over our liberties, our dissenting opinions and our shoes in the name of security. President Barack Obama's victory of Hope over mccain/palin fear in 2008 seemed to hit pause on some of the fear I felt for My Country and it's direction. But I was on his side in the primaries and in the Presidential General Election.

The "debate", and days since the passing, of arguably the biggest bill in decades concerning the well-being of the American people (the Health Insurance Reform Law and health care amendments to the Budget Reconciliation Bill) has me fearing violence from the American people, many of whom the legislation will and does assist. Some say the "incidents" have been executed by "fringe" "extremist" groups in the opposition party. In fairness, there has only been a brick through a Congressional office window, a brother of a congressman's propane line cut, an increase in threats aimed at elected officials (including threats against the third in command of the United States Government), a rhetorical "make the fellow [Rep. Ron Klein (D-FL)] scared to come out of his house", a Michigan "christian" militia with plans to take out law enforcement, an east Texas man dropping 36 improvised explosives in 23 locations. The amount of anger brought about by regulations to the health insurance industry, like ending pre-exiting conditions and rescission, is amazing. Even if the Democratically Elected Government went house to house, paper work in hand, to enforce the mandate (they're not, btw), would it be enough to make you fly a plane into an IRS building? Where does this anger come from? It is certainly frothed up by red opportunists and misleaders using words like "revolution", "reload", "locked and loaded", "armed", "ruining our country", and using gun sights to mark congress people in advertising. But it started before these media whores started chiming in and riling up their troops. Frank Rich is right in saying "The Rage Is Not About Health Care" (a great read).

President Barack Obama is half African American. Speaker of the House Pelosi is a Woman.
Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor is a Hispanic American Woman. Our Country is Changing. The very face of it has Changed. I'm not just talking about the new nuclear treaty and protocol with Russia here. The formerly self titled tea baggers, in their perverse way, believe Our Country should go back to the old (white guys) way.

Shattering someone's beliefs is not easy, and is painful to the shattered. Imagine growing up believing something to be true. I mean Really believing it deep in your heart. Believing that the generations before you were right in their traditions. This your "heritage" their changing from. It's like believing that you're church was righteous and holy, only to hear of what a priest did to a child in it. After bishops and cardinals transfer him, leaving him to repeat his offenses else where, you can almost see your rosary beads scattering all over the floor. It's not my intention to equate the traditions of the Catholic Church and those of racists and bigots, pedophilia and cover ups are certainly different. The question I raise is "What do you do when the foundation of you're beliefs is shaken, whether it be by realizations that we are all equal, religion is fallible, or something else?" How do you react?

I'm an environmentalist. I believe that plants, animals, and the environments in which they live should be preserved, as much as possible, for their own inherit worth and not just for the purpose they serve humans. It has always been my belief that nuclear power is bad, even for energy production. President Obama has already said that increased nuclear production will be part of his energy policy. Do I, as an environmentalist, immediately and flatly reject it? Do I threaten officials at the EPA and throw a gas can can threw the window at the Department of Energy? Or do I wait for the comprehensive energy plan, allowing the President an opportunity to explain to me that he's looked into the safety and waste issues and has solutions to them? Now there is the President's announcement on increased off shore drilling in the Altlantic Ocean. As I said back in July of '08 "Barack Obama is going to make decisions that I do not like" I meant it then, still believe it, and he has. His consensus building leaves no side empty handed, and unfortunately nobody completely happy. At the very least, there needs to be a statement made on the environmental impact of additional ocean drilling. Candidate Obama did speak to his willingness to use increased drilling as part of a compromise. In my opinion, it's an olive branch to big oil more than to the reds. Either way, this one stings. I campaigned against off shore drilling as a solution. It being the first words out of the administration on the energy plan reminds me of how I felt when the big pharma deal was struck at the start of Health Care Reform. No one will be completely happy with the Energy Bill. It would be nice if environmentalists and actual clean energy supporters came out happier than the titans of industry. We are due. The "energy debate" is going to be uglier than Health Care. It will happen though, along with the less politically charged jobs billS and financial reform. There is plenty of misinformation, biasing, redacting, and pretend and paid for citizen (and scientist) groups already out there. There is also plenty of documented scientific evidence. I do fear the compromises that will be made, but it is a welcome change from dick's "energy task force".

To progress (one step at a time)
David Calamoneri
Hoboken, NJ USA