Archive for March, 2007


Don’t like the Iraq war? Support Cedar Circle Farm.

Tuesday, March 27th, 2007

Will Allen and Kate Duesterberg, Cedar Circle Farm (E. Thetford, VT) farmers and, for Will, soon-to-be author with Chelsea Green, are also in their spare time (ha! fat chance!) co-chairs of Farms Not Arms. They’re doing the grunt work we should all be doing more of. (Some of you may be doing plenty of it already; any implication of slacking is definitely self-referential for my guilty soul.) If you’re in the Upper Valley area, and you think the war stinks major stankery, show the good guys you appreciate their tireless efforts and buy some delicious, fresh, organic produce from their farmstand or enjoy a marvelous cup of fair-trade organic coffee at their little cafe. (Check the website for seasonal hours.) And once you’re feeling a bit refreshed, go figure out a way to help end the war asap.

Coal in our atmospheric stockings

Thursday, March 22nd, 2007

Or, how I learned to love global warming:

Global boom in coal power – and emissions

A Monitor analysis shows the potential for an extra 1.2 billion tons of carbon released into the atmosphere per year.

Page 1 of 3

Forget the documentary “An Inconvenient Truth.” Disregard rising public concern over global warming. Ignore the Kyoto Protocol.

The world certainly is – at least when it comes to building new electric-power plants. In the past five years, it has been on a coal-fired binge, bringing new generators online at a rate of better than two per week. That has added some 1 billion tons of new carbon-dioxide emissions that humans pump into the atmosphere each year. Coal-fired power now accounts for nearly a third of human-generated global CO2 emissions.

So what does the future hold? An acceleration of the buildup, according to a Monitor analysis of power-industry data. Despite Kyoto limits on greenhouse gases, the analysis shows that nations will add enough coal-fired capacity in the next five years to create an extra 1.2 billion tons of CO2 per year.

Those accelerating the buildup are not the usual suspects.

[cont'd]

I’m pretty much on the fence about the value of the various carbon offset programs going on, but this is evidence that investments in renewable energy systems has some value. It’s more than realenvironmentik to acknowledge that the governments and people of the world are going to use more energy going forward than is now used, and if we can help make sure that an increasing–eventually reaching total–percentage of that energy comes from renewables, well, then, that’ll be helpful in reducing the severity of global warming. But it’s also a reminder that that much renewable energy is unbelievably challenging to achieve. Efficiency and conservation–those are going to be the methods that do the most good, no question.

Speaking of which, can’t afford to make your home more energy efficient and live in Windsor or Windham counties, Vermont? Check with SEVCA for weatherization assistance. (Elsewhere in Vermont: Central VT Community Action Council, Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity, BROC – Community Action in Southwestern Vermont, and Northeast Kingdom Community Action (from their website, it seems like NEKCA doesn’t do weatherization assistance, though they do have funds for emergency heating assistance, but it wouldn’t hurt to call and ask.) Outside Vermont? Here’s some useful links courtesy of the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab; and the LIHEAP program administered through the federal Dept of Health and Human Services.

Obfuscator-in-Chief on attorney firings

Wednesday, March 21st, 2007

The Bush: “However, we will not go along with a partisan fishing expedition aimed at honorable public servants.”

Honorable public servants serve the public. It is not possible for a person to be an honorable public servant and also refuse to speak to the public with some assurance to the public that they speak truthfully.

As if that needed saying.

Lynn Margulis blogtour–check out Skepchick.org today!

Monday, March 19th, 2007

Lynn is doing a “blogtour” and today she’s at Skepchick.org. It works like this: you post any questions you have for her–relating or not to the essays from Luminous Fish that is is on Skepchick–and then she’ll respond later today. It couldn’t be easier unless she were in your kitchen having fair-trade chai and organic, whole-grain crumpets. Hey, time’s a wastin’! Get over there and ask away!

Shades of Matthew Sleeth!

Friday, March 16th, 2007

His Serve God, Save the Planet message is getting around, or so it seems from this Christian Today article:

Christian Organisations in Search for Greenest Church

Christian organisations will honour green churches with a new environmental award.

by Maria Mackay
Posted: Friday, March 16, 2007, 10:44 (GMT)

Leading organisations in the Christian environmental movement have pulled together in support of a new award to acknowledge and encourage the outstanding environmental work already being undertaken by churches and their congregations across the UK.

Sponsors of The Church Times Green Awards 2007 include Operation Noah/Christian Ecology Link, A Rocha UK, Eco-congregation, Tearfund, Christian Aid and Shrinking the Footprint.

Awards will highlight the work of churches in a variety of green areas, including biodiversity, campaigning to cut the carbon, celebrating creation, changing lifestyles and energy-saving in church buildings.

Church Times launched the Green Awards to celebrate the progress being made by churches as they continue their transformation to become environmentally friendly role models.

[cont'd]

CO2 – expensive stuff

Thursday, March 15th, 2007

The CBC reports

Alberta carbon dioxide pipeline could cost $5B

Last Updated: Thursday, March 15, 2007 | 12:19 PM MT

A plan to pipe carbon dioxide from Alberta’s oilsands and store it underground could cost as much as $5 billion, says Alberta’s environment minister.

The province wants to capture carbon dioxide and send it through a 400-kilometre pipeline. Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Guy Boutilier said earlier this month that the pipeline would cost $1.5 billion and the carbon dioxide would be used to help get more oil out of low-producing wells.

He was pushing for the federal government and industry to split the cost of the project.

But Environment Minister Rob Renner suggested Wednesday it could cost much more.

“The number of $1.5 billion has been floated,” Renner said. “I suspect that the number — all costs included — will be significantly higher than that.

“I’ve seen estimates as high as $5 billion by the time it has taken into account the cost to industry to implement the [carbon] capture facilities.”

[cont'd]

Wow. Just a thought here, and ignoring that the carbon dioxide would be sequestered (for how long and how securely?) in an effort to bring yet more fossil fuel to the surface so it can be burned and converted to carbon dioxide, most of which won’t be captured but will add to the greenhouse mix; so my thought is, just how much energy conservation technology could be implemented with $5 billion (even if it is Canadian dollars), or even the lower estimate of $1.5 billion? I’d definitely bet a dollar that it’d be enough to cancel out way more CO2 emissions than the pipeline would help sequester (and I repeat, for how long, and how securely?).

So why not invest in energy conservation instead? Um, well, the answer is that a market/capitalist economy isn’t based on doing things sensibly. (And yes, I quite well realize that most all currently or previously existing socialist economies aren’t necessarily either.) The people with the money aren’t looking for ways to invest it so that it does the most good. They’re looking for ways to invest it so that it gives them a profitable return, the more profitable, the better. There’s not a great profit to be made by investing in the energy conservation of others, while you can make a killing by bringing fossil carbon to the surface and selling it to people who want to burn it and release it into the atmosphere.

Ah, well.

Farm Bill and other rural affairs

Friday, March 9th, 2007

The latest (March 2007) newsletter from the Center for Rural Affairs has several good articles, mostly in response to the proposed Farm Bill and the President’s proposed federal budget now before Congress. [Note: once the next newsletter comes out, the link to this one will change and you'll be able to find it through their newsletter archives.] And as usual, the “Corporate Farming Notes” are worth following. Some examples: (more…)

National Rural Action Network petition

Wednesday, March 7th, 2007

Our good friends at the Center for Rural Affairs have a petition drive going:

We’ve launched a drive to build a National Rural Action Network involving tens of thousands of people. It is the means by which rural people can build the power to shape our own future. It will enable us to deliver the message loud and clear to Congress. It’s time to reverse policies that undermine Rural America and instead invest in our future.

Could you add a personal note and forward this email to 5 friends or your email contacts lists or your Christmas card list? Please also sign the on-line petition yourself.
I appreciate anything you can do to help. Thanks.

Chuck Hassebrook

Sign the Strengthen Rural America Petition! – www.cfra.org/nran_endorse.htm

Then, take another step and forward this e-mail to everyone you can!

The Center for Rural Affairs National Rural Action Network will deliver the petition signatures to your Senators and Representatives. We will also alert all who sign on when contacting their elected officials or taking other action will make a crucial difference on a rural issue before Congress.

With your help, the National Rural Action Network will grow to tens of thousands of people speaking out for Rural America, perhaps even more.

Please ask five or more people to Sign the Petition! – www.cfra.org/nran_endorse.htm

Strengthening Rural America Strengthens All of America!

  • America is strongest when all of its communities are strong and all of its people have access to genuine opportunity. Rural America is a valuable part of America. Rural communities are not sharing in the nation’s prosperity. This hurts all of us.
  • To contribute to the nation’s prosperity, rural America must share in it. When communities are weakened, the bonds that make us strong are weakened. In strong communities we are more likely to help each other. To uplift rural values, we must lift up rural communities.
  • The WalMarting of the American economy – the destruction of family farms and small business – is shrinking the rural middle class. People denied a stake in the American dream, are less likely to take responsibility for sustaining it.

Congress Must Act Now to Revitalize Rural America!

There are practical strategies that work to revitalize rural communities. But local initiative must be matched by federal policies that support rural revitalization, rather than hinder it. The 2007 farm bill provides an opportunity to change course.

  • Rural Entrepreneurship – traditional economic development based on industrial and business recruitment does not work for most rural communities. Small business development works. It draws people back to our communities by creating economic opportunity.
  • Payment limits – The single most effective thing Congress can do to strengthen family farms is to cap farm payments and stop providing subsidies that mega farms use to drive smaller operations out of business. Capping payments to mega farms will also save money that can be invested in initiatives that create a future for Rural America. [emphasis added]
  • Family Farm and Ranch Innovation – Improve farm income by helping family operations pursue new, high-value markets. Offer federal grants for market analysis, feasibility studies and cooperative development.
  • Beginning Farmers and Ranchers – the future of agriculture depends on the next generation of family farmers and ranchers. Invest in training, mentoring, linking and education for beginners and help them gain access to profitable markets and affordable land and capital.
  • Conservation – preserve land and water by rewarding farmers and ranchers for good stewardship on working lands.

Please ask five or more people to Sign the Petition! – www.cfra.org/nran_endorse.htm

Chuck Hassebrook
Executive Director
Center for Rural Affairs

6° of Energy Efficiency

Wednesday, March 7th, 2007

Way back when, I interned at the Alliance to Save Energy, a non-profit in Washington, DC. They promote energy efficiency. I liked it there, nice people, and I’ve kept in touch with some of the people who are still there. Well, while exchanging some emails with my friend there, Joe, about how my daughter loves this toy rat that I gave her and which makes me think of Joe because he always had a plastic rat on the dashboard of his car, I noticed his email signature had this link: 6° of Energy Efficiency. I was curious. It’s a splashy site where you learn trivia about saving energy in your home and car, stuff I’m sure you’ve heard of before, but still, it’s very fancy web design stuff, pretty cool. Plus you can tell your own energy efficiency or conservation story and share it with the world of fellow greenies.


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