Archive for October, 2005


Blessed Stubornness

Wednesday, October 26th, 2005

Molly Ivins’ column from yesterday, “Blessed Stubornness,” is pretty much the best book review I’ve ever read:

I believe the book will become a classic, not just of the environmental movement, but of American lit, as well. It is the rare, clear, moving voice of a working-class woman goaded into action against the greatest massed forces in the world today: globalized corporate greed backed by government power.

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hunger for natural gas

Tuesday, October 25th, 2005

Check out Stan Cox’s recent post on AlterNet about our hunger for natural gas. Not only does he talk about the physical dangers and dwindling supply of natural gas, but Stan also addresses the looming issue of natural gas as a crutch resource in food supply. “The era of cheap natural gas, like that of cheap oil, is ending,” he writes, “We have barely begun to assess the drastic, worldwide changes that will ensue….”

Loehr: the cowardice of the pulpit

Tuesday, October 25th, 2005

At the request of UU Word, Boston College professor and political economist Charles Derber sat down and interviewed Davidson Loehr. The interview starts off explaining use of the “F-word,” when Davidson calls literalistic religion the mortal enemy of democracy. So why are so many religions sticking with strict and literalist interpretations of the bible?

“It’s rare that ministers won’t care if they lose their biggest pledgers—who often use their money as a tool to restrict the preacher and the church to stay within their comfort zone. It’s embarrassing to think of how many times these people demean religion in this way—with the all-too-willing compliance of the ministers. It’s human nature, just as it’s natural for ministers to want to be liked…But right now, in the most dangerous time our country has been through in my lifetime, the silence—I want to say, the cowardice—of the pulpits is especially disturbing.”

Loehr uses a Buddhist metaphor that says all religions, priests, and sages are fingers pointing at the moon, and that the object of religion is to see what they are pointing at–not to worship the fingers. Most people would agree that worshipping the fingers would be absurd. In recounting Loehr’s sermon from this past Sunday, Texas Oasis mentioned this quote by Voltaire: “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”

fossil free way

Monday, October 24th, 2005

At about this time last year, Chelsea Green recieved a letter from a student at UVM who was looking for funding for a senior project. Zach Carson was planning to convert an old bus to run on vegetable oil, and planned to take it on an alternative fuel tour across the country after graduating in May. We were happy to sign on to the project, but wondered about the outcome after we heard that the bus broke down, stranding its the crew in Denver in mid-july. Well, we’ve now learned that Zach persevered. He’s now teamed up with Realenergy.net in Sebastapol, CA, and a story about his project ran in yesterday’s New York Times. Nice going, Zach!

Trespassing Tour 2005

Friday, October 21st, 2005

If you didn’t catch Diane Wilson on Democracy Now! or The Diane Rehm Show, maybe you can catch her in your home town. Diane is touring nationally to promote An Unreasonable Woman and to stay out of Texas, where she is considered a dangerous woman and is wanted for a 2002 Trespassing infraction against Dow Chemical.

The charges are ironic, considering that Dow Chemical has been trespassing against communities worldwide since the 1930′s. The company’s list of toxic transgressions is so long, in fact, that it has been compiled into a 500-page volume called “Trespass Against Us: Dow Chemical & The Toxic Century,” written by Jack Doyle and published in 2004 by Common Courage Press. In the book Doyle writes that “There is no kind definition for the word trespass. As a noun, trespass is defined as an encroachment, intrusion, or violation. As a verb, to trespass is to offend, intrude, break into, or generally thrust oneself onto persons or places without permission…At another level, however, trespass has been evolving as a further basis for tort law, and has been used in ‘toxic trespass’ cases.”
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Davidson Loehr: Best of Austin

Thursday, October 20th, 2005

Last week the Austin Chronicle named Reverend Davidson Loehr “Best Minister/Spiritual Leader” in its recent round up of the “Best of Austin.” Davidson, who recently had a blogging stint on Jesus Politics, has now been called “the Austin faith community’s best-kept secret.”

Having already authored the thought-provoking and profound Jesus Series, Dr. Loehr delivered an incendiary sermon titled “Living Under Fascism” after the botched 2004 presidential election, and inspired standing ovations in the sanctuary. A Vietnam veteran and former photographer, Loehr strips religion of its rhetoric and offers a clear-eyed look at the issues that divide us today, remind us that it is possible to have faith and use your brain at the same time. A collection of his sermons is now available from Chelsea Green, titled America, Fascism and God. First Unitarian Universalist Church, 4700 Grover, 452-6168.

Peak Oil

Friday, October 14th, 2005

The term “Peak Oil” has been thrown around a lot. But what will it really mean for most of us when it comes? Greg Pahl explains that, and why peak oil is the most pressing global issue, in the Rutland Herald.

Renowned petroleum geologist Colin Campbell estimates that global extraction of oil will peak before 2010, probably around 2007. Geophysicist Kenneth Deffeyes says the date for maximum production will be this November. The current instability in the international oil market tends to confirm that we probably are approaching peak oil. But the exact date may be somewhat academic. This is because if the rollover point at the top of the peak does occur within the next few years, there simply isn’t enough time left to make the massive shift to the renewable energy strategies that would allow for a smooth transition from our present oil-based economy.

Greg Pahl also notes that supplies of natural gas are as unreliable and rapidly declining as oil. What’s the real situation with natural gas and liquid natural gas? Julian Darley and the Postcarbon Institute sent this update from WorldWatch this morning:
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Adios, Formosa!

Friday, October 14th, 2005

Yesterday Grist posted Diane Wilson’s piece on the recent explosion at Formosa’s Texas plant. Diane pointed out that Formosa “dodged a bullet” when Hurricane Rita turned its course away from the Texas coast two weeks ago, only to self-destruct last week, with an explosion injuring 11 workers.

But not to worry! Anyone still interested in career opportunities at Formosa can take heart. According to Formosa’s corporate website:

Our employees enjoy an intellectually stimulating and professionally rewarding work environment. We encourage a mutually contributory relationship among all staff members in a team-oriented environment.

Meanwhile, in back in reality, here is Diane’s short list of other recent Formosa accidents:

In 1990, the company was fined $244,00 for 54 water-quality violations, then again in 1992, after a ten thousand pound release of hydrochloride gas that sent neighbors and cows bawling into the night, Formosa was fined $330,000 for worker-safety violations. OSHA inspection found that vinyl chloride levels were not monitored, flammable liquids were not handled properly, and general procedure for maintenance and repair were not followed.

In July ’97, two workers were found asphyxiated and floating in a barge of EDC (ethylene dichloride) at the Formosa loading docks. In December ’98, an explosion containing EDC injured 26 workers, rattled windows 35 miles away, and contaminated a back waterway into the bay with levels up to 400 ppm of EDC. In April 2004, Formosa’s plant in Illinois exploded, killing 6 workers and injuring many more.

Interestingly, none of these events were significant enough to make it into Formosa’s autobiography…

Formosa Explosion Doesn’t Surprise Diane Wilson

Monday, October 10th, 2005

Last week a new explosion at Formosa Plastics in Texas sent 11 workers to the hospital. Diane Wilson was quoted in the Houston Chronicle in a headline reading “Activist ‘Not Surprised’.” This latest offense was not news to Diane, who has been clamoring about the irresponsible safety measures at Formosa and other chemical giants in Texas for years. But it did make me curious about local explosions or chemical spills in Vermont. The ARIP database is a great resource offered by the Right to Know Network, where you can look up significant chemical spills by region, corporation, or chemical, if you’re feeling up to it. Even after reading Diane’s book, my jaw dropped a little as I typed in “Union Carbide” and watched the scroll bar go from small to smaller, indexing their long list of hazardous spills.

stopping big oil’s post-hurricane land grab

Thursday, October 6th, 2005

Tomorrow congress votes on “The Gasoline Act of 2005″ (H.R. 3893), a rushed measure that would forgive sub-standard emissions in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The House Resources Committee is also moving a bill that would open the Arctic Refuge–along with marine areas in Florida, New England, and California–for drilling. A recent alert by the NRDC calls for immediate action, and offers an easy way to tell your congressman “>NO.

With massive oil spills still choking Gulf Coast wetlands to death, it is practically obscene that Congress would be rushing to hand over the rest of our coastal inheritance to the oil giants.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a more misguided response to energy shortages in the post-hurricane season than opening up more protected areas to drilling. Is it possible to look at pictures of the Louisiana coast and still dismiss the EDF’s report on the vital role of coastal ecosystems and barrier islands in tempering tropical storms?


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