Archive for April, 2007


Global warming, here, there, everywhere

Wednesday, April 25th, 2007

Latest stories to cross before my eyes:

BusinessWeekConoco’s Own Inconvenient Truth

The Nation – a special issue entirely (almost) on global warming.

And stay tuned… through the Center for Popular Economics, I’m co-authoring a chapter on climate change and the atmospheric commons in the forthcoming book 10 Ways To Make the Economy Work Better (working title).

All the more reason to say MISSION REJECTED

Wednesday, April 11th, 2007

The mission already sucked. Now it sucks 25% more. Time to hit the reject button.

Pentagon Orders Longer Tours for Soldiers in Iraq
New York Times
By DAVID STOUT
Published: April 11, 2007
WASHINGTON, April 11 — All active-duty Army troops now in Iraq or Afghanistan or headed to either country will serve 15-month tours of duty, up from the usual 12-month tours, effective immediately, the Pentagon announced today.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates called the change “a difficult and necessary interim step” and said it would at least give soldiers and their families more predictability than they have now.

Great Barrier Reef: it was nice knowing you

Friday, April 6th, 2007

Europe, the US, Japan, China, and India (not to mention Australia), none of them have indicated any attempts to arrest global warming within the next twenty years. At best, they talk about reducing CO2 and other ghg emissions on a 40 or 50 year timescale. Looks like the Great Barrier Reef fat lady is going to sing.

Reef gone in 20 years if warming continues
Leigh Dayton, Science writer, The Australian
April 07, 2007
THE Great Barrier Reef – one of the natural wonders of the world – could be gone in 20 years unless global warming was slowed, scientists warned last night.

[cont'd]

Anti-war protestors arrested in Leahy office

Thursday, April 5th, 2007

Will Allen and compatriots are at it again. A tip o’ the grasshopper hat to you all.

10 war protesters arrested at Leahy’s office

Published: Wednesday, April 4, 2007
By Sam Hemingway
Free Press Staff Writer
Police arrested 10 anti-war demonstrators Tuesday participating in a sit-in at Sen. Patrick Leahy’s Burlington office to demand he stop supporting an Iraq troop withdrawal bill they said would extend the Iraq war, not end it.

“This is an immoral war and an illegal war,” said Marmete Hayes, 83, of Burlington as she stood in handcuffs at the entrance to the Courthouse Plaza complex where Leahy’s office is located. “It demands strong action on the part of dissenters.”

All 10 were arrested after refusing to leave Leahy’s office when it closed at 5 p.m. Police handcuffed the 10 and issued them no trespassing citations before releasing them.

Three, including Hayes, could face criminal prosecution because they were also arrested at a March 27 sit-in at the Burlington offices of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., or a March 21 sit-in at the Burlington offices of Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt.

“They were warned,” said Chittenden County State’s Attorney Thomas Donovan, who has chosen not to prosecute the protesters. “At some point, there has to be a response.” Donovan said he would decide today whether to prosecute any of the three.

The late afternoon arrests followed three hours of spirited conversation between about 20 demonstrators and Chuck Ross, Leahy’s state director. The Senate is in recess this week. Ross said Leahy was on vacation and not at his Burlington office.

“This is not a withdrawal plan,” said James Leas of South Burlington, referring to a Senate-passed bill that sets a March 31, 2008, target for ending combat operations in Iraq. “It’s a plan to continue the war. Senator Leahy should withdraw his name supporting this legislation.”

[...]

Besides Hayes, the people arrested were Kate Duesterberg, 52, of Thetford; Jay Vos, 58, of Burlington; Owen Mulligan, 33, of Burlington; Shawn Starfighter, 27, of Burlington; S’ra DeSantis, 31, of Burlington; Nicholas Parrish, 27, of Burlington; Will Allen, 70, of Thetford; Rene Kaczka-Valliere, 27, of Burlington; and Patrick Stanton, 36 of Burlington.

Hayes and Vos were also arrested at the March 28 protest at Sanders’ office; Allen was arrested at the Sanders protest and the March 21 protest at Welch’s office.

Automotive X Prize — $10 million for 100mpg. Too little, too late?

Wednesday, April 4th, 2007

Following on the tail (actually, under way for a while already) of the Supreme Court ruling on carbon dioxide as a regulatable pollutant, the folks who brought us the X Prize for low-cost space travel now turn their eyes on the automotive stratosphere.

Next X Prize: Build a practical, hyperefficient car

‘Auto X Prize’ has announced a competition to design a 100 m.p.g. car, but some say ‘why stop there?’

Page 1 of 3

If your dream is to build the world’s greatest car – not just a science project or a concept car, but a real-world, 100-mile-per-gallon vehicle that’s safe, can be mass-produced, and emits almost no pollutants – there’s a big, fat prize waiting for you.

It’s expected to be at least $10 million, maybe much more.

Right off the bat, you might wonder, “is 100mpg really that great of a target?”

Why aim for just 100 miles per gallon or its energy equivalent? What about a vehicle that gets double that? What about a vehicle that burns no carbon-based fuel at all?

Such are the criticisms already being leveled at the Automotive X Prize “draft guidelines,” to be formally unveiled this week at the New York International Auto Show. Most questions are being raised not by skeptics but by the contemporary soul mates of the Wright brothers and Henry Ford, true believers who would love to enter the “great race.”

After all, Tesla Motors claims that its street legal car already gets over 100mpg equivalent. True, it’s not exactly affordable at $92,000 each, but then they’re making them one by one, not on a big assembly line.

Personally, I’d like to see Amory Lovins and the Rocky Mountain Institute hop on this bandwagon. They’ve been talking for years and years about the viability of “hypercars,” and while I don’t doubt them, I’d like to see them actually build one of the suckers at long last. There’s now a 10 million dollar carrot dangling within reach.

Wow. Supreme Court: “EPA can regulate carbon emissions”

Monday, April 2nd, 2007

What will happen? Maybe not much. What could happen? Something big.

Top Court: EPA Can Control Emissions

By MARK SHERMAN Associated Press Writer
© 2007 The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court ordered the federal government on Monday to take a fresh look at regulating carbon dioxide emissions from cars, a rebuke to Bush administration policy on global warming.

In a 5-4 decision, the court said the Clean Air Act gives the Environmental Protection Agency the authority to regulate emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from cars.

Greenhouse gases are air pollutants under the landmark environmental law, Justice John Paul Stevens said in his majority opinion.

[cont'd]

And in quick response, words to the wise from the auto industry:

Automakers urge economy-wide approach to global warming
POSTED: 12:56 p.m. EDT, April 2, 2007

WASHINGTON (AP) — Automakers called for an economy-wide approach to global warming in reaction to a Supreme Court decision Monday that could give the government the authority to regulate the emissions of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases from cars.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, an industry trade group representing General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co., DaimlerChrysler AG, Toyota Motor Corp. and five others, said in a statement that “there needs to be a national, federal, economy-wide approach to addressing greenhouse gases.”

Of course, don’t expect things to work out all rosy…. The auto industry plans to be the first among equals at the negotiating table:

Dave McCurdy, the alliance’s president and chief executive, said automakers would work with lawmakers and federal agencies to help develop a national approach.

[cont'd]

But even still, the idea is right. Cap and trade? A carbon tax? Good old fashioned rationing? Banning the worst offenders (as in, no new fossil fuel powered electricity plants, followed by a phase-out of existing plants; mandatory efficient building materials and techniques; minimal acceptable auto fuel efficiency; etc)? There are lots of options for economy wide approaches to dealing with carbon pollution, and no time like the present to start trying them out.

Founding Grasshopper aims to be Founding Father

Monday, April 2nd, 2007

Ian Baldwin, who co-founded Chelsea Green Publishing with the current publisher, Margo Baldwin, is helping spearhead the Vermont secessionist movement. He and fellow secessionist Frank Bryan state their case in yesterday’s Washington Post.

The Once and Future Republic of Vermont

By Ian Baldwin and Frank Bryan
Sunday, April 1, 2007; B01

BURLINGTON, Vt.

The winds of secession are blowing in the Green Mountain State.

Vermont was once an independent republic, and it can be one again. We think the time to make that happen is now. Over the past 50 years, the U.S. government has grown too big, too corrupt and too aggressive toward the world, toward its own citizens and toward local democratic institutions. It has abandoned the democratic vision of its founders and eroded Americans’ fundamental freedoms.

Vermont did not join the Union to become part of an empire.

Some of us therefore seek permission to leave.
[cont'd]


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