Showing posts with label environmental issues. Show all posts
Showing posts with label environmental issues. Show all posts

Coastal treehuggers attack Charleston cruise ship business

As the State Ports Authority plans to expand its passenger cruise facilities in Charleston, several so-called environmental groups filed suit against Carnival Cruise Lines in an effort to keep them from docking at Charleston:
The complaint filed in state court Monday by the South Carolina Coastal Conversation League alleges that the company does not comply with city regulations on hotel locations. The complaint says the line's Carnival Fantasy docks in an area where no hotels are allowed.

The environmentalists want a judge to declare that the ship docking in Charleston amounts to locating a hotel in violation of city regulations.

To save the Earth, the animals must die

Nothing is funnier than watching left-wing groups turn their guns on each other. In this story, we find environmentalists suggesting animals - specifically cats and dogs - are the threat:

Man's best friend could be one of the environment's worst enemies, according to a new study which says the carbon pawprint of a pet dog is more than double that of a gas-guzzling sports utility vehicle.

But the revelation in the book "Time to Eat the Dog: The Real Guide to Sustainable Living" by New Zealanders Robert and Brenda Vale has angered pet owners who feel they are being singled out as troublemakers.

The Vales, specialists in sustainable living at Victoria University of Wellington, analysed popular brands of pet food and calculated that a medium-sized dog eats around 164 kilos (360 pounds) of meat and 95 kilos of cereal a year.

Combine the land required to generate its food and a "medium" sized dog has an annual footprint of 0.84 hectares (2.07 acres) -- around twice the 0.41 hectares required by a 4x4 driving 10,000 kilometres (6,200 miles) a year, including energy to build the car.

To confirm the results, the New Scientist magazine asked John Barrett at the Stockholm Environment Institute in York, Britain, to calculate eco-pawprints based on his own data. The results were essentially the same.

"Owning a dog really is quite an extravagance, mainly because of the carbon footprint of meat," Barrett said.

Other animals aren't much better for the environment, the Vales say.

So if animals are the problem ... then what's the solution?

Is Barack Obama a corporate sell-out on environmental issues?

We’ve never been big fans of ethanol as a substitute for gasoline, for the reasons which have been cited by Jeff Goodell in Rolling Stone magazine, who describes it as:

... dangerous, delusional bullshit. Ethanol doesn't burn cleaner than gasoline, nor is it cheaper. Our current ethanol production represents only 3.5 percent of our gasoline consumption -- yet it consumes twenty percent of the entire U.S. corn crop, causing the price of corn to double in the last two years and raising the threat of hunger in the Third World. And the increasing acreage devoted to corn for ethanol means less land for other staple crops, giving farmers in South America an incentive to carve fields out of tropical forests that help to cool the planet and stave off global warming.

At the risk of sounding liberal, we care when one of the things that we still export, which offers real help to the world's poor, is now yet another strand in the dependency web which continues to destabilize our nation.

You'd think the likes of Barack Obama, whose campaign claims to be about change and bashes the current administration for selling out to special interests and not doing enough to help the Third World, would care about such things, right?

Think again.

According to the New York Times, Obama seems to be bought and paid for by the well-subsidized ethanol industry, continuing to support our dependency upon the internal combustion engine, which ultimately leaves us increasingly dependent upon foreign (usually dictatorial) nations:

Nowadays, when Mr. Obama travels in farm country, he is sometimes accompanied by his friend Tom Daschle, the former Senate majority leader from South Dakota. Mr. Daschle now serves on the boards of three ethanol companies and works at a Washington law firm where, according to his online job description, “he spends a substantial amount of time providing strategic and policy advice to clients in renewable energy.”

Mr. Obama’s lead advisor on energy and environmental issues, Jason Grumet, came to the campaign from the National Commission on Energy Policy, a bipartisan initiative associated with Mr. Daschle and Bob Dole, the Kansas Republican who is also a former Senate majority leader and a big ethanol backer who had close ties to the agribusiness giant Archer Daniels Midland.

Not long after arriving in the Senate, Mr. Obama himself briefly provoked a controversy by flying at subsidized rates on corporate airplanes, including twice on jets owned by Archer Daniels Midland, which is the nation’s largest ethanol producer and is based in his home state.

It's not the first time we've talked about Barack Obama’s continued support for pork-barrel boondoggles, corporate welfare and his willingness to do anything to keep from forcing Detroit from moving away from fuel-burning engines (
Subsidizing oil addiction?, 5/31/07). But we're never really surprised when facts come to light which challenge impressions created by the great act of rhetorical improvisation that is Barack Obama.

Apparently ideological consistency is not a requirement when you're Barack Obama, or one of his supporters.

While we're at it, we'll share two videos which will help illustrate the differences between the two Presidential candidates - one, a maverick reformer and the other an ambitious politician who will say and do anything to get elected:

"Energy Security"

"Meet Dr. No"

Patrick Moore and the "middle ground" of environmentalism

In an op-ed in the New York Times, Patrick Moore describes how he fell in love with environmental advocacy, and then fell out with Greenpeace, an organization he helped to found:

In 1971 an environmental and antiwar ethic was taking root in Canada, and I chose to participate. As I completed a Ph.D. in ecology, I combined my science background with the strong media skills of my colleagues. In keeping with our pacifist views, we started Greenpeace.

But I later learned that the environmental movement is not always guided by science. As we celebrate Earth Day today, this is a good lesson to keep in mind.

At first, many of the causes we championed, such as opposition to nuclear testing and protection of whales, stemmed from our scientific knowledge of nuclear physics and marine biology. But after six years as one of five directors of Greenpeace International, I observed that none of my fellow directors had any formal science education. They were either political activists or environmental entrepreneurs. Ultimately, a trend toward abandoning scientific objectivity in favor of political agendas forced me to leave Greenpeace in 1986.

Such points of view are more common as environmentalism is maturing, and developing a sort-of "middle ground" of those favor the use of reason and science, as well as pragmatic approaches, like Moore, and those for whom environmentalism is not the end, but rather the means by which they can pursue a radical political agenda that challenges the democratic, market-based social and political systems that are the foundations upon which contemporary First World nations are built.

This presents more proof that Green is the new Red in politics, and people like Moore aren't looking for more politics, but rather workable solutions.

To read the rest of the story, click here.

Help a fellow graduate student

For what is probably the very last time, I'm asking my readers to help out a fellow graduate student. Anna-Fiona is working on a project on environmental marketing for a Quantitative Research methods course.

She's got a survey on survey monkey. It takes five to ten minutes to complete, with multiple choice questions. If you've got a little time on your hands, follow the link and help her out:

Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to help out my fellow students over the last few semesters in response to my appeals for help.

Andy Brack makes points about environmental responsibility

Over at the Statehouse Report, Andy Brack talks about the importance of individual responsibility in addressing environmental concerns:

Bottom line: It's not terribly hard to be greener because there are numerous things you can do that save energy and money without dramatically impacting your day-to-day routine.

Governments have a major role to play in reshaping the South to be greener. But if everybody does just a little bit to conserve energy and cut down on greenhouse gases - without major impacts on the quality of their daily lives - the South would become a greener place.

He makes a number of smart, affordable and easy recommendations that can make a difference, some of which have been done around the Capps household.

  • I replaced the light bulbs in my house with CFL bulbs, which last longer, give off less heat (always a good thing), and save electricity.
  • I did a tune-up on my car recently, replacing the spark plugs, wires and distributor on my car, taking less than 30 minutes to increase my gas milage at least 10 percent.
  • To shade one side of my house that had no tree cover and give kids something fun to do next year, I planted an orange tree and a tangerine tree this summer (saves electricity too).
Politics aside, these are just smart ideas that pay for themselves, and reduce our impact upon the world around us.

Subsidizing oil addiction?

Edmund Andrews in yesterday's Washington Times reports on a plan to subsidize American's continued dependence upon fossil fuels:

Even as Congressional leaders draft legislation to reduce greenhouse gases linked to global warming, a powerful roster of Democrats and Republicans is pushing to subsidize coal as the king of alternative fuels.

Prodded by intense lobbying from the coal industry, lawmakers from coal states are proposing that taxpayers guarantee billions of dollars in construction loans for coal-to-liquid production plants, guarantee minimum prices for the new fuel, and guarantee big government purchases for the next 25 years.

How much pork do they plan to offer up to keep us headed down the same ol' road?

Among the proposed inducements winding through House and Senate committees: loan guarantees for six to 10 major coal-to-liquid plants, each likely to cost at least $3 billion; a tax credit of 51 cents for every gallon of coal-based fuel sold through 2020; automatic subsidies if oil prices drop below $40 a barrel; and permission for the Air Force to sign 25-year contracts for almost a billion gallons a year of coal-based jet fuel.

According to the story, key supporters of this effort include:
  • Representative Nick V. Rahall, Democrat of West Virginia and chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee
  • Representative Rick Boucher, a Virginia Democrat
  • Senator Barack Obama, the Illinois Democrat,
  • Senators Jim Bunning of Kentucky and Larry Craig of Wyoming, both Republicans.
  • Former House Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt, who has been hired to lobby for the initiative.
Some may remember the boondoggle known as the Synthetic Fuels Corporation back in the 1980s. When it failed to create markets to make alternative fuels commercially viable, it was shuttered by the federal government in 1985. Likewise, this approach has been questioned from studies done by MIT and the U.S. Energy Department:

“At best, you’re going to tread water on the carbon issue, and you’re probably going to do worse,” said Howard Herzog, a principal research engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a co-author of “The Future of Coal,” a voluminous study published in March by M.I.T. “It goes against the whole grain of reducing carbon.”

The M.I.T. team expressed even more skepticism about the economic risks. It estimated that it would cost $70 billion to build enough plants to replace 10 percent of American gasoline consumption.

The study estimates that the construction costs for coal-to-liquid plants are almost four times higher than the costs for comparable petroleum refineries, and it argues that cost estimates for synthetic fuel plants in the past turned out to be “wildly optimistic.”

In a new report last week, the Energy Department estimated that a plant capable of making 50,000 barrels of liquefied coal a day — a tiny fraction of the nearly 9 million barrels in gasoline burned daily in the United States — would cost $4.5 billion.

There's a lot to suggest this proposal offers no real solutions to the greater problems we face with regard to our oil supplies, as well as environmental concerns. It the end the only guarantee we're getting from this raw deal is that one way or another, we'll continue paying for our oil addiction.

This is one proposal we can't afford.

"A Breath of Fresh Hydrogen" comes to Columbia

Sounds like this is something worth checking out:

The public can get a glimpse of what a hydrogen-powered future might look like when The Hydrogen Education Tour comes to Columbia this week.

The exhibit will be part of FuelCellSouth’s 4th Annual Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Technology Conference and Expo Wednesday through Friday at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center.

The traveling exhibit gives people the opportunity to learn about and experience the future of hydrogen through interactive pavilions and displays. It offers information on hydrogen production, storage and infrastructure, safety and fuel cell applications.

Admission to the exhibit hall will be free on Wednesday, which has been dubbed Hydrogen Day at the conference.

Teachers are encouraged to bring their students to see the exhibit. Group reservations or additional information can be obtained by contacting Keely Saye at (803) 777-2572 or e-mailing

... don't miss what could be a vital technology for our future.

Thomas Friedman: The Power of Green

In the Sunday edition of the New York Times, Thomas Friedman, always the deep thinker, offers some counsel on how the United States can shift it's global leadership focus in a post-Iraq environment:

One day Iraq, our post-9/11 trauma and the divisiveness of the Bush years will all be behind us — and America will need, and want, to get its groove back. We will need to find a way to reknit America at home, reconnect America abroad and restore America to its natural place in the global order — as the beacon of progress, hope and inspiration. I have an idea how. It’s called “green.”

Well, I want to rename “green.” I want to rename it geostrategic, geoeconomic, capitalistic and patriotic. I want to do that because I think that living, working, designing, manufacturing and projecting America in a green way can be the basis of a new unifying political movement for the 21st century. A redefined, broader and more muscular green ideology is not meant to trump the traditional Republican and Democratic agendas but rather to bridge them when it comes to addressing the three major issues facing every American today: jobs, temperature and terrorism.

There is a lot more to this, and well worth taking a look at, so go read what he has to say.

Environmental Issues discussion

Tree hugging ... on my blog? Time to get out the drug test kit, right?

Recently, I've had some information come my way to present some compelling arguments of what may lie before us. Being the academic that I am, I haven't seen enough to be sure, but enough to want to explore ... and explore I shall. You can look forward to seeing some of those explorations make it onto this blog in the upcoming weeks and months.

We do have to admit that no research has shown that the use of fossil fuels has any positive or neutral effects upon the environment. The only difference we see in the ongoing debate is the extent of harm such fuels may be causing, as well as what can be done.

We also have to confront the reality that our fossil fuel dependency places our nation's economic security in the hands of many nations whose standards of governance and cultural values are appalling. From Chavez' assualts upon democratic values in Latin America to Islamic dictatorships in the Middle East, when we put fuel in our cars, we also fuel oppression and many of those who hate our nation the most. As a parent of daughters, doing anything which can further empower Islamic mullahs to oppress women is a chilling thought indeed.

In the Second World War, the United States mounted a massive mobilization and crusade to destroy our enemies before they destroyed us. The outcome of these efforts changed the course of human events, and laid the foundation for a radically-changed world. If indeed our world is again at stake, then I believe the United States can again lead yet another global transformation effort.

Whether the impacts of what is taking place are minor or major, we must better understand what we face, and act accordingly, just as was done by my grandparents' generation. What we choose to, or not, to do could affect our future as much as it did theirs.

In the next few weeks and months, I plan to explore and discuss issues affecting our environment here at the Blogland. These are issues which also affect our economy, national security, and our future, and as such, they deserve our full attention, so be sure to stay tuned ...

Change your light bulbs?

Is the Blogland going commie? Not really, but I recently converted most of the light outlets in my house to energy-saving CFL bulbs. These will likely carry the house until the next generation of lighting - probably LED-powered light bulbs - come along.

What are CFL bulbs - the ones that look like tubes or coils. As they are more efficient, they use less electricity and generate less heat. Come this summer, the double-barrel savings will be a nice thing. The bulbs cost a little more, but given that they last five years, it's worth the price.

I'm not a "all humans should die" sort of luddite about environmentalism, but I do think we need to be responsible for what we do. Saving a little bit of juice is a good thing.