Sunday, May 25, 2008

Detoxifying Our Culture

The Wall Street Journal article The Homeless Billionaire introduces us to a multi-billionaire who doesn't own a home:

After making his billions, Mr. Berggruen, 46, lost interest in acquiring things: They didn't satisfy him, and in fact had become something of a burden. So he started paring down his material life, selling off his condo in New York, his mansion in Florida and his only car.”

Although I don't recommend everyone go out and live like this man, he has something to teach us. I'm reminded that the things we possess in some ways possess us. And that freedom should be more than the freedom to pay for and maintain your stuff.

I liked some of the comments:

All he is doing is looking at things the way we’re supposed to, he’s reversed the human nature of: Have - Do - Be. If I HAD this, I could DO this and I would BE this. He turned it around with the key to happiness. Be - Do - Have. If I AM happy with my circumstance, then I can DO what I want, and then I would HAVE happiness and fulfillment. It’s a very opportunity filled time my friends.”

It seems to me that there are people, no matter how much money they have, who do things for themselves and there are others who still feel an emotional need to let other people know how well they're doing. The first group is happier.”

There is a great wisdom in living with things and not for things, as everything truly does come and go. I'm glad this change in consciousness is affecting even the super rich.”

This article reminds me of an article in Adbusters back in 2001; Toxic Culture. The articles pointed out quite definitely how our materialistic culture is making us sick. Since I can't find a link to it, I scanned the article. Click on the pictures to magnify them to readable size.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Nevada Climate Change Advisory Committee

Well, well; here's something interesting from Governor Gibbon's Nevada Climate Change Advisory Committee Draft Final Report (May 20, 2008):

page 32 (italics mine)

The Dormant Commerce Clause, as outlined by the Supreme Court of the United States, states that any law that a state passes that discriminates against out of state parties is unconstitutional. This law arises from the fact that Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution granted exclusive power over the regulation of interstate commerce to the federal government. A law that is facially discriminatory is presumed to be unconstitutional. In order to overcome this presumption, the state must show that the law is necessary to serve a compelling state objective.

Thus, part of the UEPA statute that is discriminatory against out of state interests would have to be necessary to further a compelling state objective.


The Governors Climate Change Committee recommends that the State of Nevada amend the UEPA statute, specifically 704.890(b) to require that any utility facility built in Nevada pursuant to NRS 704.820 which emits greenhouse gases or consumes water resources be needed to ensure reliable utility service to customers in this State.

... This law would be necessary to further the compelling state objectives of reducing the greenhouse gases and other harmful pollutants emitted in the state ...”

It seems this committee might be more than just a rubber stamp for the coal industry after all. If I read this correctly, they're recommending that only power generation for in of state use should be allowed to emit greenhouse gases or use our precious water resources.

That could mean coal-fired power plants like the proposed LS (Dynegy) plant would someday be illegal here. Of course, don't be surprised that if this gets enacted, it will be after the approval of the LS (Dynegy) coal-fired power plant.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Oh, THAT vast right wing conspiracy

Bill Steigerwald writes a column for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. I wouldn't call him a reporter. I guess he might qualify as a commentator. His articles get printed in the local Ely Times. This last column was a new low for him. He interviewed Steven J. Milloy, from is actually quite an appropriate name for Steven J. Milloy's website. Want to know what the spin doctors are up to? Want to see how they intend to keep those illegitimate corporate profits coming in? Just visit to read all the vicious personal attacks on real science. (Remember, real scientists don't gutter talk like that.) is supported by the Cato Institute.

The Cato Institute claims to be libertarian. But since 1996, the organization's financing has changed. Today, most of its financial support comes from “entrepreneurs,” securities and commodities traders, and corporations such as, Exxon Mobil, General Motors, Honda, RJ Reynolds, Toyota, Volkswagon, and The American Petroleum Institute.

The American Petroleum Institute spent $4 million to lobby the federal government in 2007, according to lobbying disclosure forms. “The trade group lobbied on various appropriations bills, and on oil taxes and fees, chemical plant security, price gouging, international investment, and more.” reports the Associated Press. “Besides Congress, the American Petroleum Institute lobbied the departments of Defense and State, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Internal Revenue Service.”

Steven J. Milloy claims to be a libertarian. But real libertarians struggle for INDIVIDUAL freedoms, not corporate anarchy. A true libertarian would be appalled at our addiction to fossil fuels – and would be trying to get people to generate our own power. (Individual freedom means not having to slave to pay your energy bill. And libertarianism does not mean distorting the truth so that the powers that be can keep raking in our money.) is also supported by the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute is an advocacy (lobbying) group based in Washington DC. They challenge government regulations – that, of course effect big corporations. They push property rights as a solution to environmental problems, oppose US fuel efficiency standards, and have been a booster for the drug industry. Some of their financial support has come from Amoco, Ford, Philip Morris, Pfizer, and Texaco.

Prior to launching, Steven J. Milloy worked for Multinational Business Services, the Philip Morris tobacco company's primary lobbyist in Washington with respect to secondhand cigarette smoke. He subsequently went to work for the Advancement of Sound Science Coalition, a Philip Morris front group.

Steven J. Milloy is a fake and a liar – who takes money to confuse people. He works for Fox News, the least respected television “news” organization in the country.

So, why would Bill Steigerwald want to interview a guy whom he admits associates “with “think” tanks that accept oil and/or tobbacco money?” Face it. These propaganda pundits are just quoting each other to make it seem like somebody important agrees with them.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The (Developers') Review Journal

Good journalism is objective. And the mass media wants you to believe they are “fair and balanced.”

But when it comes to reporting the Southern Nevada Water Authority Groundwater Development Project (the water grab), the Las Vegas Review Journal is about as biased as they can get away with.

For example: It was reported in February (in the Review Journal) that a notebook from a SNWA advanced research analyst was recovered – with the handwritten notes that say;

ignore negative information, make everything positive, and to save ink (by) forgetting anything negative.”

You would think this would be quite a news story. But now it's two news stories. Because the Review Journal “reporter,” Henry Brean, did everything within his writing power to make these notes appear insignificant.

His whole article was an attempt to make this SNWA note to “ignore negative information” seem as though that's just what he was trying to do.

The SNWA response to this revelation was an almost silly statement that “those were notes for how to calibrate a color plotter.” Excuse me. But how on earth do you calibrate a plotter by ignoring negative information? And if so, why bother to write down something as simple as that three times. This wasn't investigative journalism. This article was a cover up.

Another example: A March 2007 editorial in the Las Vegas Review Journal practically called Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani a traitor. And why? Because she had doubts about the outrageous prices SNWA was paying for ranches in Rural Nevada – and
felt that the practice should be looked into further. “She thought the money might be better spent on conservation programs.”

Pardon me, but that doesn't make her a traitor, that makes her sensible. And editorials such as this show just how biased the Review Journal is. This isn't information. This is disinformation. The Review Journal can do far better than that.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Truly Clean Power is a BARGAIN

The coal industry wants us to believe that we can get cheap coal power for decades. Sounds tempting. But are coal industry claims reliable? Remember, these are the same people who consider the hospital expenses victims of coal pollution incur as “external” expenses – and therefore irrelevant. Appalling behavior. But educational.

Always remember to consider your source's motivations – and follow the money.

Let's first follow the money in a related example; the oil industry. We have reached what would could be called “effective peak oil.” It appears that the world's consumption of oil has exceeded its economical production. Norway's production has dropped by 25% since its peak in 2001. Britain's production is down by 43%. Alaska's Prudhoe Bay is down by 65%. And Russia's and Mexico's production are down also. On top of this, demand for oil from China and India is up. It's becoming glaringly obvious that we're running out of cheap oil. Bad news for us. But are the oil companies hurting? Not at all! They're making record profits in the multi-billions!

Can you imagine what the “captains” of the coal industry are thinking about all of this? Might they be scheming to also get deep into your pocketbook? And when can they expect “peak coal” profits? Sooner than you think.

Apparently, the so-called “proven” coal reserves are not so “proven” after all. That 250 year U.S. supply of coal you've heard about. Well, forget about it. The National Academy of Sciences predicts a 100 year supply, at today's consumption. Which, with up to 150 new coal burners, means we'll start see a drop in production far sooner than expected.

Yes, the coal industry keeps telling us there is plenty of coal. But the USGS has estimated that over 90% of the Appalachian coal reserves are fully exploited. Peak coal, for Virginia, was back in 1990.

The Energy Watch Group predicts that world production of coal will peak when China's production peaks – some time around 2025. At that point, it won't matter how many more years supply exist in the U.S. The price of coal will rise everywhere, just like the price of oil is now.

Worldwide, the price of coal is already starting to rise. Coal prices have actually been rising faster than oil prices for the past six months. Predictions have been made that the price of coal will double (or even triple) within months... It seems China's demand for coal has effectively exceeded it's economical supply sooner than expected.

Fossil fuel prices are on the rise, and Americans' electricity bills are already going up. Analysts are predicting big U.S. electricity price increases within months. Therefore, coal is looking like a bigger and bigger gamble for the American consumer. But the gamble is looking quite different from the coal industry perspective. They stand to make billions, just like the oil industry is now.

Its obvious why the coal industry wants more coal-fired power plants. Every new coal-fired power plant is a 30 to 60 year commitment to millions of tons of coal consumption. Does the coal industry care that ultimately the U.S. consumer will pay more? Of course not. That's not how corporations commandeer oil industry sized profits.

But the problem is bigger than that. Not all of those proposed coal-fired power plants will be built. Not only has the price of coal risen, but the price of building a coal-fired power plant has doubled. And with carbon taxes, coal power plant investments have become altogether too risky. Investors are getting very cautious. And their caution means that very little new power generation of any kind is being built. Combine sparse new generation with a continued growth in U.S. consumption, and power prices are bound to rise even more. That's just supply and demand.

But we don't have to run ever faster on that treadmill.

Others have already broken the path.

Since 1991, Sweden has been, by the use of carbon taxes, promoting the development of clean energy. Sweden intends to phase out all fossil fuels by 2020. They're economy's growth rate is now three times that of the U.S.

Iceland, in the 1970's, was one of the poorest economies in Europe. Iceland is now 100 percent energy independent. Iceland is now ranked by the International Monetary Fund as the fourth most affluent nation on the planet.

These two countries are excellent real world examples of the financial gains to be had by reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.

However, the coal industry only wants you to know what they want you to know.

The coal industry doesn't want you to know that:

Wind power generation globally has surpassed 100 GigaWatts. And solar power costs are getting closer and closer to coal costs. In some places, at times, wind is cheaper than coal. And thermal solar generates power even after the sun goes down.

What the coal industry really doesn't want us to know is that we don't have to be dependent upon them. We don't need them to generate our power. And in the long run, America can save billions by not demanding a limited supply of coal.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Are We Mushrooms?

Last week's Ely Times article (Co-op warns of higher costs if global warming legislation passes Congress) quoted Mt. Wheeler Power's Kevin Robison saying; “Is it really worth $4000 a year to drop the temperature by 0.07 (degrees) a year?”

Actually, I don't believe this is how things will turn out. But, let's play along with him for a while.

0.07 degrees per year of temperature RISE doesn't really sound like much, does it? But this cap and trade legislation is intended to gradually reduce CO2 emissions over 40 years. For a moment, let's imagine the coal industry gets their way, and there is no reduction of greenhouse gas emissions... 0.07 x 40 = 2.8. That's right, using Kevin Robison's own statistics; if we keep burning coal like there's no tomorrow, the world will be almost 3 degrees warmer in 40 years. In that same 40 years, with these cap and trade laws, we could reduce our CO2 emissions by 70%.

3 degrees may not seem like much, but it is enough to EXTREMELY change our climate. So; you think the West has had a bad drought for the past 8 years? This could mean a much worse drought – for hundreds of years. White Pine County (and the world) could become a very harsh place to live if the world warms by 3 degrees. And it could get even worse. If we're still burning coal like there's no tomorrow 40 years from now, we won't be able to stop on a dime then either.

The intent of this cap and trade legislation is to get us to reduce our burning of fossil fuels (the cap won't even gradually start until 2012). If we choose not to be polluters, we won't be paying $4000 a year more for coal power 40 years from now. We'll be buying power from another source.

The price of coal is rising, and the price of oil (to ship and mine the coal) is also rising. Soon; wind, solar, and geothermal will be cheaper than coal. Cap and trade laws will just make that transition sooner.

Kevin said (online) that the $4000 was calculated for a $160 million per year carbon tax, at $30 a ton (of CO2 over the cap). That's 5 million tons of CO2 per year over the cap. FIVE MILLION TONS! That certainly won't happen right away. And the coal-fired power plant in Delta has already been operating for over 20 years. Shouldn't Mt. Wheeler Power be shutting this coal burner down sometime in the next 40 years? Hopefully, we'll be well below the cap by then – and can trade our CREDITS. Ultimately, if we do the right thing, cap and trade laws will save us money (at other polluters' expense).

If you wish to sign a petition supporting the Climate Security Act, visit: