Tuesday, December 29, 2009

They Want Us To Pay Them To Poison Us?


The nuclear power “renaissance” is a classic case of what has gone fatally wrong with America.


This is classic case of socialism for the rich, financed by the rest of us – to our own detriment. They want us to subsidize the construction of their nuclear power plants, pay them top dollar for power, and then deal with their nuclear waste (for them) for the next 100,000 years.


That's not capitalism. That's socialism for the irresponsible – or corporatism – which is what the American (military/industrial complex and banking/financial) subsidized economy has become.


It's become a damned free-for-all of corporate anarchy – with the goal of taking as much as they possibly can from customers, taxpayers, and future generations.


Scientific American has reported that “An analysis by economist Mark Cooper at the Vermont Law School claims that adding 100 new reactors to the U.S. power grid would cost taxpayers and customers between $1.9 and $4.1 trillion over the reactors' lifetimes compared with renewable power sources and conservation measures.”


Does the nuclear industry care? Of course they do. They're salivating over that kind of money. In fact, they'll tell us anything for that kind of money.


(I won't link to this next site because I don't want to promote their propaganda. You can search for the title Yucca Mountain is Dead – Just in Time for the U.S. Nuclear Revival.) In an online article in the Infrastructurist, it is argued that; “The cancellation of Yucca (Mountain) may not be nearly as bad for the budding nuclear renaissance as it might first seem. In fact, it may provide the opportunity to prove once and for all that, in reality, there is no such thing as nuclear waste.”


They want us to believe that there is no such thing as nuclear waste? WHAT?


They want us to believe that; “The whole concept of nuclear waste only emerged after President Jimmy Carter abandoned the reprocessing of spent fuel rods in 1977.” Oh... So they want us to believe that Jimmy Carter invented nuclear waste? Come on...


They want us to believe that all we have to do is restart our reprocessing programs, and everything will be just fine. However, the article didn't really delve into why President Jimmy Carter shut nuclear reprocessing down in the first place. Maybe because it wasn't working?


Rather than listening to this hack pundit, maybe we should consider what the Union of Concerned Scientists has to say? In their article Nuclear Reprocessing: Dangerous, Dirty, and Expensive, the Union of Concerned Scientists claims that:

  1. Reprocessing would increase the risk of nuclear terrorism

  2. Reprocessing would increase the ease of nuclear proliferation

  3. Reprocessing would hurt U.S. nuclear waste management efforts

  4. Reprocessing would be very expensive


Let's just cover one of their points. “After reprocessing, the material will be in several different forms, and the total volume of nuclear waste will have been increased by a factor of twenty or more... And to make a significant reduction in the amount of high-level nuclear waste that would require disposal, the used fuel would need to be reprocessed and reused many times with an extremely high degree of efficiency – an extremely difficult endeavor that would likely take centuries to accomplish.”


...But somebody could make a lot of money doing it. It just may be that these guys are thinking long term after all.


Either way, America still has to figure out what to do with over 55,000 tons of nuclear waste – that increases by 2,000 tons every year. I don't know what to do with it – and neither does anybody else. Which makes the thought of building even more nuclear power plants sound totally outright insane!



In the real world; physical and economic systems that cannot function efficiently, safely, and sustainably die out – period.


In the real world; the consequences of our actions cannot, CAN NOT be ignored.


In the real world; the bottom line is just a number on somebody's spreadsheet.




Saturday, December 26, 2009

I Hate Clean Energy Posers


They're baaack...

And they're willing to kill for money.


One would think that after Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, the nuclear industry would be so disgraced that no-one would believe them.

...How soon we forget...


You probably didn't attend the Power-Gen International convention in Las Vegas. But guess who did. Guess who had conferences and round-tables. Guess who sponsored a show guide and ran numerous ads. Guess who threw money around like there's no tomorrow. That's right, that same industry that generally acts like there is no tomorrow (or more accurately, no problem they can create that people from tomorrow won't be able to fix) – the nuclear industry.


They want us to believe that nuclear power is as green as renewable energy. Can you say propaganda? Nuclear power is NOT renewable. In fact, today's nuclear plants use 60% more uranium than the world mining industry supplies. Michael Dittmar, from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology says; “without the access to the military stocks, the civilian western uranium stocks will be exhausted by 2013.” That's right, 2013.


Sure, we could mine in places like the Grand Canyon for uranium, but these mines will play out soon also.


Yes, we could build breeder reactors, but they have their own sets of problems. (Can you say weapons-grade plutonium?) Michael Dittmar states about breeder reactors; “Their huge construction costs, their poor safety records, and their inefficient performance give little reason to believe that they will ever become commercially significant.”


But the nuclear industry is not deterred. They smell money... I smell pork. And like the hideous PR campaign the pork industry tried to fool us with, the nuclear industry wants us to believe that they are the “other white meat.” Yeah... right.


The U.S. nuclear industry wants us to believe that France has it all figured out. But think about it. The U.S. nuclear industry is going to tell us France has it all figured out no matter how bad things are going in France. Think about it. The French don't have access to physics we don't have.


And about those new nuclear reactor designs: Can you say lipstick on a pig? They're trying to bait-and-switch us. They talk about new designs that may someday work. But if you check out what they have actually planned, it's just the same old reactors – made cheaper.


Nuclear power has three strikes against it:


  1. Nuclear power plants use more water than any other form of power generation. There isn't a place on the planet that won't have fresh water shortages in less than a generation. Here in the Western U.S., we already have water shortages. Why in the world would we want to exacerbate our water shortages when wind power and photovoltaic solar power generation use no water at all?

  2. Nuclear power plants and waste storage facilities are extraordinarily vulnerable to horrendous terrorist attacks, accidents, etc.. Not only are big generators subject to massive power failures, it makes no sense whatsoever to build as dangerous a target as this – when distributed power is so resilient and innocuous.

  3. And then there is the real deal killer; nuclear waste. One of Project Censored top 25 censored stories of 2010 is titled “Pools of Fire.” The article refers to a nuclear waste facility in North Carolina – one of the most lethal patches of ground in North America. Should the cooling system for the waste repository malfunction, the resulting fire would be virtually unquenchable and could trigger a nuclear meltdown. A recent study by Brookhaven Labs estimates that a pool fire could cause 140,000 cancers, contaminate thousands of square miles of land, and cause over $500 billion in off-site property damage. An MIT/Princeton report has stated; “The long-term land contamination consequences of such an event could be significantly worse than Chernobyl.”

    And, of course, this is not the only place at risk. There are a number of nuclear waste sites scattered around the country. With more nuclear power plants, there either will be more nuclear waste sites, or these sites will get even bigger. There is no ignoring the physics. More nuclear power equals more nuclear waste – and we don't have any reasonable idea of what to do with the tons that we already have.


Sure, there is the option of bringing back the nuclear waste repository at Yucca mountain in Southern Nevada. But that was a bad idea in the first place. That site was not picked for scientific reasons. It was picked for purely political reasons. Allison MacFarlane, geologist at George Mason University and a leading technical expert on nuclear waste disposal says about Yucca Mountain; “the area is seismically and volcanically active. More significantly, the repository would have an oxidizing environment – meaning materials would be exposed to free oxygen in the air. Neither spent fuel nor canister materials are stable in such an environment...”


Yucca mountain was simply an effort to force deadly materials nobody else wanted into the backyard of the least populated state. That's not leadership. That's not foresight. That's not an act of self-preservation. The nuclear industry and the nation's politicians just wanted to shove the nuclear waste problem under the rug – so that they could keep making more money.


Over 50 years ago, the nuclear power industry talked President Eisenhower and the American people into relying on power plants that would leave tons of extremely dangerous radioactive byproducts in the hands of future generations to deal with. The argument was; we'll figure something out. We didn't. Let's not make the same mistake again.


There is good news, however. For the first time, renewable power generation has exceeded nuclear power generation in the U.S. The price of renewable energy keeps dropping. We stopped the 150 coal-fired power plant construction fiasco. And even if they do build these nuclear power plants that they're planning, we can generate our own power – and without customers, they'll just have to shut them down.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

What Would W. Do?



It's been almost a year now, and I hate to say it; but not much has changed.


President Obama may have accomplished more in the past year than most of the presidents before him have in the past 50 years. However, nothing has really changed.


We're at war on three fronts now (add Pakistan).

The bailout has reached treasury busting proportions ($14 Trillion at last count).

And our government is still dragging its feet on climate change issues.


It's starting to look like the only real difference between the Democrats and the Republicans is merely on distractions – such as abortion and gay rights. (Apparently, there will always be a few sell-out Democrats who will temporarily join the Republican party if the money is good enough.)


The health care bill has been watered down so bad that there is no public option left.

There still are no new regulations on the banks gambling with our money (which led to the financial meltdown in the first place). And what “laws” that may pass will be so watered down it won't likely make a difference.

Congress, especially Republicans, have embraced capitalism so much that they are willing to sell their votes – wholesale.

America is looking less and less like a democracy and more and more like a corporatocracy.


And our biggest disappointment? Barack Obama hasn't been the president we had hoped for. As Naomi Klein pointed out in her article No Opportunity Too Big To Blow; the stimulus package could have been a green “New Deal,” the auto bailouts could have been an opportunity to dramatically re-engineer the failing industry for a green economy, and the bank bailouts could have been an opportunity to mandate the banks make loans to green industries.


Barack Obama is at serious risk of losing the support of those who elected him. We're beginning to lose faith. This president came to power with a clear mandate. And the Democrats have a super-majority in Congress.


Allow me to quote Barack Obama, candidate; “ENOUGH!!!”


It's time to fix things.

It's time to fix our political process.

It's time to get big money out of politics.


Unfortunately, it may already be too late for America. Our political system has been gutted. Our economy has been gutted. Our future is in the process of being gutted. (Hey, that's all that's left.)


It is a sad day when someone like Venezuela's communist leader, Hugo Chavez, makes more sense than our own president. But Hugo Chavez was right when he said that “if the climate was a capitalist bank, the rich governments would have saved it.” (Of course, communism isn't likely the answer either. Communist China is as much at fault for the collapse of the Copenhagen talks as the US.)


We've been living in a dream world – ignoring the real world. The real world isn't about lobbyists and loopholes. The real world isn't on TV. If you want to see the real world, go outside. The real world is the air we breath, the food we eat, and the water we drink. We've been neglecting the real world.


If ever there were a system too big to fail, it would be our ecosystem.


...If, or at the rate we are going, when our ecosystem fails; our dream world will collapse – and it won't matter whether you're a king or a pawn. No lobbyist will save you. And your TV will go blank. Nobody... nobody wants this. It's time to wake up and smell the air pollution. That's not normal. And it should not be acceptable.


To save our ecosystem, we must first save our country.

Because without rule of law, we are left with the law of the jungle.

And the first law of this man-made jungle is to make more money now – at any cost – ANY cost.


An old communist phrase once said; a capitalist will sell you the rope to hang him with. Let's not make that saying true.



Tuesday, December 22, 2009

It's Up To Us Now

Our Governments Have Failed Us.


The Copenhagen Climate Change talks have essentially collapsed. I guess it wasn't a surprise. If our governmental systems had had the ability to deal with this crisis, we would have long ago.






Of course, some national leaders are claiming a (hollow) victory. It was a sad day to see President Obama sounding like Bush Jr. as he announced the Copenhagen results. This was the biggest failure of his life – and he had to stand there and pretend that it somehow was a success.


Hey; we all got together and agreed there is a real problem that we really need to do something about...


We? ...Something?


I guess it all comes down to us. You and me. Our “leaders” have failed us. They couldn't even achieve too little, too late. It is up to us to save the world now.


The big question is; how long will we wait? Climate change has been happening at an accelerating rate for the past 40 years (that we, the public, have known there was a problem). We've allowed our systems to continue to get worse. And we've pretended that our actions don't really matter. But the truth is; our own actions are the most important. And our own inactions are just as important.


Reputable scientists (ones that actually win Nobel prizes) have warned us that the Arctic Ocean has a 75% chance of being completely melted during the Summer within five to seven years! That's not only unprecedented, it was unbelievable just a few years ago. A BILLION people are at risk of losing their fresh water from streams and rivers from mountain glaciers - that are melting. The unthinkable is happening! …on our watch.


We can blame Obama. We can blame China. There's plenty of blame to go around.


President Obama threw a monkey wrench in the talks, but the talks weren't going anywhere anyway. I guess we'll all have to wonder whether America's offer was real or grandstanding. I guess we'll all have to wonder whether Obama's advisors set him up or whether there was no genuine intent by America to build a relevant treaty.


Either way, the people of the world have been left with a task that our governments have failed at. Our future is at stake. The lives of our children are at stake. The fate of all life on our planet is at stake. And quite likely, the fate of humanity is at stake.


Extinction should be the common enemy to unite us. But our governments have shown the ugly side of humanity. They would rather fight over the scraps than create a world of abundance.


The people of the world don't have to be like that. And if we are not, maybe we can force our governments to do the right things.






It was rather surprising to me that Hugo Chavez, from Venezuela, was pressing so hard for real teeth in the treaty. He is from an oil producing country. Getting away from fossil fuels wouldn't be all that great for his nation's economy (at least in the short term). But there he was, trying harder than the oil consuming countries to stop climate change.


Ironically, climate scientist James Hansen is pleased the Copenhagen Summit has failed. We can now start off negotiating on a clean slate.








It makes me wonder; just how screwed up is our system, when our addiction to oil is more important than life itself? We've been lied to. We've been manipulated. We've been handed options that we don't like. Its time to take matters into our own hands.


I will be installing solar power on our family's home by Spring.

I will be expanding our garden (so that we will not have to buy as many vegetables from a thousand miles away).

I will will become an environmentalist – because that is what I have become convinced the ultimate survivalist needs to be.

I will become more of an activist – because voting isn't enough in a true democracy (and hardly matters at all in a corporatocracy).

I will continue to write this blog – in hopes of sharing what I have learned.


...And if I can find help; I would like to start an open-source design project for a human-powered hybrid car. The design goal will be to build an ultra-light, ultra-capable, ultra-efficient, and ultra-fun vehicle that would be a cross between a tandem mountain bike, a quad off road vehicle, a electric car, and a boat. Others may wish to design versions that could function as a snowmobile or even a blimp.


I call it the FAVcar – or Flying Aqua Velo car.


Since the design is open-source, people would be able to build it anywhere in the world to satisfy their own particular needs. In third world countries, these human powered hybrids could fill the need to upgrade to a car without nearly the environmental consequences. In cities, the FAVcar could be used for commuting. And here where I live, the FAVcar could replace gas guzzling ATVs.


But I need help to do this. If you are interested in working on the FAVcar design, developing an open-source website, promoting the idea, or making parts for - or assembling these vehicles for sale; please email me at rickspils@excite.com.


Friday, November 27, 2009

What Would A Republicrat Do?

Maybe I don't remember correctly. But it seems like most of us who elected President Obama did so because we were tired of foolish wars without clear objectives that weren't accomplishing anything of value. We wanted out of Iraq, and we weren't thrilled about Afghanistan either.

There is a reason Senator Harry Reid's statement about Iraq that “this war is lost” resonated so profoundly. He was right, and far too many people were too committed supporting war criminals to want to hear it.

You would have to be deaf, dumb, and blind to think the Iraqi people are better off because the U.S. has invaded and occupied their country. Our nation is going broke because of the deficit spending on the “war.” And the only ones to benefit from the “war” are the military industrial contractors and the multi-national oil companies – and they aren't doing us any favors (for all we've done for them).

So now President Obama has hinted that he intends to escalate the “war” in Afghanistan. But he has given us a few days to organize and protest. I don't think he wants to do it. And if we raise enough of a ruckus, he just might not. Maybe, if millions of Americans say NO!!!, we can't afford this; maybe President Obama won't get us into another Viet Nam (or Iraq – name your quagmire).

Here is a link to a petition to tell President Obama not to make matters worse.

Make sure to email the White House.

And also email your Senators and Representatives.

You only have until Monday.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What Went Wrong With Rural Electrification


It appears quite obvious that our local power co-op is now firmly against renewables. For more information about that, you can read my letter to the editor of the Ely Times.

To understand why Mt. Wheeler Power and Deseret Power are the way they are today, we need to remember their history.


Deseret Power was founded in 1978 by six rural cooperatives, one of which was Mt. Wheeler Power. Within 7 years, the co-op of these co-ops had built the Bonanza coal-fired power plant. But they didn't do this all on their own. This power plant was heavily subsidized by the Rural Electrification Administration (REA).

The REA was initiated back during the Great Depression to bring electric power to Rural areas of America. And the program worked. Nonetheless, as late as the 1970s, various places in the Central Great Basin still didn't have power. The construction of the Bonanza power plant and related rural power infrastructure changed all that.

Looking back, they did accomplish their mission, but they could have done a better job. By the 1970s, the technology to generate distributed power locally was beginning to be marketed. Windmills and solar power were expensive, but so was bringing in a power line from hundreds of miles away.

During the 70s, President Carter was trying very hard to promote and develop alternative energy. At the time, rural homes had the most competitive conditions for the installation and development of home power generation. But the inertia of the established fossil fuel power generation system was too much for even the most powerful man on the planet to shift.

The coal industry knew our environmental situation back then. They didn't care. Scientists and engineers knew about greenhouse gases back in the 70s. They also knew about the substantial number of other very dangerous effluents from coal-fired power plants. But scientists and engineers weren't making the decisions.

By the 1970s, the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) had become a conduit for money for established industries that had figured out how to milk the system for millions (if not billions) of dollars. The REA could have been an impetus for the development of new cleaner power technology, but it had become just the opposite. By subsidizing old technology, the REA ended up holding back new cleaner and safer technologies.

In 1980, President Carter's re-election was unsuccessful – in part due to generous contributions from the fossil fuel industry to his opponent. In the end, our engineer President was gone – and so were his pro-renewable power policies. Everything we had learned during the 60s and 70s about the environment, our unsustainable economy, the limited supply of fossil fuels, and the potential for end-game wars over resources seemed not to matter anymore. The press stopped paying attention, and so did the people. It was amazing.

That was when Deseret Power built a coal-fired power plant.

More recently; Deseret Power has attempted to build another coal-fired power plant facility. They could have built solar or wind generation facilities. They could have financed the construction of home power generation. But they stuck with their game plan since their formation – coal power.

Two years ago, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) permitted Deseret Power to build another coal-fired unit. This created quite a national outrage, because the US Supreme Court had earlier ordered the EPA to regulate Carbon Dioxide – and by giving this permit without any CO2 restrictions, the EPA essentially ignored the US Supreme Court.

One year ago, the EPA Environmental Appeals Board essentially shut the expansion down (without best available control technology).

Now we are facing the creation of legislation to Cap and Trade Carbon Dioxide emissions – and Deseret Power is up in arms.

Since the Appeals Board stopped the construction of the new coal-fired unit (without CO2 sequestration), Deseret Power, to my knowledge, has not made any effort to build any renewable power facilities. It appears that they are still sticking with their game plan; coal-fired power.

It looks to me like Deseret Power wants to turn the clock back. They want back their REA subsidies. And they want to get away with emitting as much Carbon Dioxide as they please with no financial consequences. It looks like they essentially want the “freedom” to pollute – and get subsidies for doing it. Moreover, they don't want any other form of power generation to share in the advantages coal has benefited from. It sure looks like they don't give a damn about anyone else, anything else, or the future. And they're willing to “influence” our political system (with our money), to get their way.

…..........................................

Now of course, there are going to be a number of people who know this story far better than I do. I'm only generalizing... I only wish to make an important point – from the perspective of an outsider.

...And my point is this:

Deseret Power was formed to build a coal-fired power plant. Deseret Power's primary purpose, from its beginning, is to supply coal-fired power. Its founders did what they did because coal seemed safer than nuclear (after the Three Mile Island nuclear accident) and less complex than renewables. But the main reason Deseret Power chose a coal-fired power plant was because there was substantial government funding (taxpayer money) available in the form of subsidies. Even today, there are still a number of huge subsidies for the coal industry.

Which leads to the almost schizophrenicly mixed signals our government is sending to the power industry. For all these decades, we have been giving billions of dollars of subsidy money to the coal industry. Now, while we're still giving them billions more in subsidies; we're essentially saying we don't want them anymore.

How can we not to expect the coal industry to feel a little frustrated over the issue?

However, those who truly love America should feel a lot more frustrated.

The fossil fuel industry has spent decades manipulating, subverting, and redesigning our American governmental system. And they have profited immensely from these actions – at the expense of the American taxpayer and consequent instability of America and the planet's environment. Moreover, they do everything they can legally get away with to see that we don't fix these problems.

Regulations, taxation, and subsidies for the fossil fuel industry are totally unmanageable and unsustainable within our government – because that's what the fossil fuel industry has been striving to achieve for well over 50 years.

But I don't want to blame this all on Deseret Power. Deseret Power didn't create the conditions from which it was formed. Deseret Power is simply the organizational creature that has adapted to the economic environment that we, as a society, have allowed to form. The beast (though it has the best of intentions) is gnawing on the hand that feeds it. Can we reign in the beast – or are we going to wait until it gnaws further up our collective arm?

Already scientists from Oxford are predicting that “a rise of at least two meters in the world's sea levels is now almost unstoppable.” Stefan Rahmstorf, from Germany's Potsdam Institute, has said; “There is no way I can see to stop this rise, even if we have gone to zero emissions”

(say goodbye to the Everglades)

The world, and especially the established American energy companies and co-ops, have ignored this truth for decades now. And apparently, in the name of short term profits, want to keep us ignoring the truth.

All I want is for them to do the right thing.

And the right thing to do is to either help or stay out of the way.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Darwin Award for the Fossil Fuel Industry


A recent survey by Kelton Research shows that 94% of Democrats, 93% of Independents, and 89% of Republicans think that it's important for the U.S. to develop and use solar power.

So where's the controversy? Surprise! It's contrived.

If you go to the Mt. Wheeler Power website (our local power cooperative), you will find a link to “keep our power rates from going through the roof.” When you follow that link, you will find yourself on the Deseret Power website. Sure, the top of the page says Mt. Wheeler Power, but the actual address is www.deseretpower.com/mwpower

The very first line in their letter to you is; “We are continuing our grassroots effort...” (italics mine). Excuse me, but just because they show a picture of a cowboy, this is not a grassroots effort. This is a letter from a company that operates one of the 200 dirtiest coal-fired power plants in the world. The Delta plant emits 16 MILLION TONS of carbon per year!

No wonder they don't want a cap and trade of carbon emissions.

To what lengths will they go to maximize their profits? Well, they just might be willing to lie to us. This poster is on the front door of the Mt. Wheeler Power facility.


Sorry about the grainy picture. My phone camera doesn't have a flash. But the poster essentially says that the Waxman/Markey Carbon Cap and Trade Bill is just about the worst thing that could ever happen. In my letter to the Editor of the Ely Times, I pointed out that the EPA estimates of the cost to American families was about 5% of what this poster states. To see the letter, click here. To see the EPA Preliminary Analysis, click here and see page 5.

...Do I support the Waxman/Markey Clean Energy Security Act? Well, sort of. It's better than nothing. But it is far from the best idea. Unfortunately, with the weakened political power that America now has (due to the partial corporate takeover of our government), this may be the best we can get for now.

Personally, I would prefer a straight carbon tax. The tax could be balanced out with a reduction in income taxes. A simple carbon emission tax would provide the incentive to convert to cleaner power generation technologies. And a simple carbon tax could not be played, manipulated, or cheated like the Cap and Trade program has been in Europe.

Here is a video from a couple of rouge EPA attorneys that explains a better plan than Cap and Trade.






This isn't just about how much money we will have to spend. The stakes here are likely to be unimaginably high. Our environment is going out of balance. Think about it like riding a bike. The consequences of going out of balance on a bicycle are far greater than the act of losing balance might indicate.

Moreover; the genie we have let out of the bottle may be far more dangerous than we ever expected. Scientists are now starting to suspect that the most devastating mass extinction on Earth was caused by prehistoric burning of coal deposits. Explosive encounters between magma and coal 250 million years ago likely led to a combination of climate change and ocean acidification that led to the extinction of 70% of the Earth's species on land and 95% in the oceans.

My greatest fear is that Carbon Cap and Trade legislation is only one more ineffective act in 30 years of typical governmental bureaucracy foot dragging – too little, too late.

But nature has a way of dealing with arrogance and stupidity.

Even if Carbon Cap and Trade fails to reduce CO2 emissions, we are running out of oil. Worldwide oil “production” has been flat for 5 years now. And though the “officials” don't want us to panic, we may already be on the downside of peak oil. It is now very likely that fossil fuel prices are on the verge of skyrocketing – whether we tax them or not.

Ironically, with rising fossil fuel prices may come rising industry profits. The fossil fuel industry just might welcome these shortages. They have been profiting from the suffering of future generations, and may soon profit from the suffering of ours. That's how out of touch they really are.






Thursday, October 29, 2009

Finally, Someone Who Isn't Intimidated by Las Vegas

Press Release from Great Basin Water Network:


Pioche, Nev. -- Last week, the Seventh Judicial District Court in Pioche, Nevada issued a strong, critical reversal of the State Engineer’s ruling on the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s water rights applications in Cave, Dry Lake, and Delamar Valleys in rural eastern Nevada.

In July 2008, the State Engineer issued his decision on SNWA’s applications, filed 19 years earlier in 1989. Because the ruling grossly overestimated the amount of available groundwater in the valleys, and granted the Southern Nevada Water Authority an amount of water that would have resulted in inevitable disastrous consequences for rural Nevada ranchers and the environment, the Ruling was appealed in the summer of 2008 by a group of protestants to SNWA’s applications represented by Simeon Herskovits of Advocates for Community and Environment. Oral argument was heard in a courtroom packed with Lincoln and White Pine County residents in September 2009.



In the Oct. 19, 2009 decision, the Court strongly rebuked the State Engineer, finding that the ruling “results in an oppressive consequence for the basins affected, with the State Engineer simply hoping for the best while committing to undo his decision if the worst occurs despite the exceedlingly long time required to reach equilibrium and the effects which will eventually spread out from the basin of origin and affect the down-gradient basins. Capriciousness by the State Engineer is the reasonable conclusion.”



Simeon Herskovits, attorney for the petitioners in the case said of the ruling, “We applaud the District Court’s reversal of an obviously unsound decision by the State Engineer. There can be no doubt that the long term interest of all Nevadans will be best served by the Judge’s decision to use common sense and reason in applying Nevada’s water law.”



The ruling represents yet another obstacle in the mounting resistance to the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s massive, unprecedented effort to acquire and pump hundreds of thousands of acre feet of water each year from rural Nevada through a 300 mile pipeline to feed its growing population. It also falls on the heels of heated controversy surrounding the negotiation of a potential agreement between Utah and Nevada to divide the waters of neighboring Snake Valley, which straddles the Utah Nevada border. That agreement is a prerequisite to the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s planned pumping of even more water from the Snake Valley, and has met with strong resistance on both sides of the border. The ruling also comes at a time when financing of the pipeline has been put into question given the rising costs associated with such a project and the downturn in Las Vegas’s economy.



The Southern Nevada Water Authority was quick to attack the ruling and the well respected senior judge who issued it. Says Steve Erickson of the Great Basin Water Network, “SNWA is staying true to its proven track record of trying to bully its way to the results it wants, and of concealing and distorting the scientific evidence concerning the basic underlying hydrology of the region and the damning environmental impacts its pipeline project would cause.”



Susan Lynn, of the Great Basin Water Network responded to SNWA’s attack on the Judge by saying, “Such a response is consistent with SNWA management’s inability to engage in self-critical reflection about this astronomically expensive, utterly misguided, and environmentally catastrophic project.”



Although the Southern Nevada Water Authority has stated that it plans to appeal the ruling to the Nevada Supreme Court, the petitioners are confident that the ruling will stand.”


This press release is GREAT news. The SNWA watergrab is no longer a sure thing.


To be continued...

Friday, October 23, 2009

Hunting the President 2

Fox “News” wants you to believe that President Obama is like Richard Nixon.


President Nixon had a secret “enemies list.” People on that list were harassed by the IRS, spied upon, etc. But only two people on Nixon's list were reporters. In contrast, the Obama administration doesn't want to deal with Fox News. That's a far cry from an enemies list. Moreover, Fox has earned this.


It's no surprise that Fox News has been carrying on a smear campaign ever since Obama was inaugurated. For example:






Fox News' War on the White House


Fox “News” has declared a propaganda war on our Nation's President. They want him overthrown. What they're doing should be illegal. If I had as many nasty lies told about me as Fox “News” has told us about President Obama, I wouldn't want to deal with them either. This isn't conservative media, this is spiteful GOP propaganda.


President of Media Matters, Eric E. Burns, has written in Huffington Post; “Fox is currently conducting a witch hunt against administration members. After Van Jones (whom I personally greatly admired) resigned, Hannity told a crowd, “We got rid of one, and my job starting tomorrow night is to get rid of every other one.””


Doesn't anybody remember Monica Lewinsky? That fiasco was the culmination of a 10 year campaign to destroy the Clintons. There really was a massive right-wing conspiracy. They tried everything. They made up stories. They abused the press. They humiliated our President over personal matters. And ultimately they came up with nothing significant. But they kept Clinton too busy to accomplish much.


I highly recommend the video The Hunting of the President. It documents quite thoroughly how the Clintons enemies pulled every dirty trick they could think of – and almost succeeded at a coup de gras.






The Hunting of the President


The wing-nut back stabbers almost succeeded at image assassination of President Clinton. That's what it was – an attempt to kill the president, politically.


...And they're at it again.


Only this time, they have total control over a major television “news” source – and significant influence over all the others.


To not do something about Fox's relentless attacks would be a sign of weakness. (With the resignation of Van Jones, the “Fox” already smells blood.)


In case you didn't know, a US court has determined that it is perfectly legal for this quasi “news” channel to lie. They have free rein to say anything they want without fear of regulators. And since competing news agencies have skeletons of their own to hide, don't expect them to reveal the truth about what is happening at Fox.


If America is to survive and prosper, we need to make logical decisions based upon true information. Anything else is self destructive. And by now, it should be quite apparent that this is not happening. Our nation is literally on the verge of collapse because of a number of awful decisions made based upon manipulated information.


This is a matter of utmost national security. But only the citizens of this country have the real power to do anything about it. Most importantly, we need to utilize the free market. Just stop watching Fox “News.” And let their advertisers know why. If Fox goes broke, the other news channels will quickly tow the line.


Those who pay the propaganda pundits don't care about the truth. They care only about power. Apparently, they see using a multitude of lies to manipulate the masses – as “managing the human herd” – with emotionally charged false information. Neither President Obama, nor the American people should put up with this blatant manipulation of our minds.


Our present actions determine our fate. We need to speak up, now. Or we will again be ignored – with consequences we haven't begun to imagine yet.


The wolf is at the door. We need to see this for what it is; a conspiracy to overthrow our government. There are those who want our leaders, and therefore our nation, to fail. They are far more dangerous than any terrorist. And yet, they pose as patriots.


Where the hell is Homeland Security?


Not only is Homeland Security silent, but they appear to be helping the conspirators. We hear of reports that law enforcement squads are extremely lenient towards protesters supported by the powers-that-be, even if they bring guns.


These people are entrenched!


And they like to use Karl Rove (Rovian) tactics; lies, cheats, and character assassination.


Speaking of Karl Rove (you know, the guy who had to leave the Bush Administration in disgrace). Karl Rove now has a job as a writer for the Wall Street Journal! The Wall Street Journal! That's right, Rupert Murdoch (Australian rag magnate, who now owns majority interest in the Wall Street Journal), is turning the Wall Street Journal into another Fox “News.”


But it's much bigger than this.


  1. Other elected representatives have also had to endure these politically motivated attacks.

    Example: Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi have both been the subject of numerous political attacks – veiled as news. Even small local elections can be manipulated by local news affiliates. Consequently, the Rovians have a terrifyingly invasive amount of influence.

  2. We have been manipulated into accepting exceptionally poor political decisions. Example: Documents show the Pentagon has used psyops (psychological operations) against the American people to manipulate us into supporting the invasion and occupation of Iraq. “The New York Times David Barstow won a Pulitzer Prize for reporting about how some retired generals, working as radio and television analysts, had been co-opted by the Pentagon to make its case for the war in Iraq, and how many of them also had undisclosed ties to companies that benefited from the policies they defended.”

  3. A number of Rovian groups exist to extend the profits of numerous entrenched industry “leaders.”

    Examples: A leaked memo shows that the coal industry was coordinating a propaganda blitz attacking global warming science. And industry backed anti-health care reform groups spent the Summer disrupting health care town hall meetings.

  4. This has been going on for a long time.






Wires That Control the Public Mind


There are unscrupulous people who intend to invisibly run our government by manipulating the gullible.


If we allow them to, they will eventually overthrow America.

Yet, to a large extent, they already have.


They might achieve a coup de gras with Senator Harry Reid.

And since they have still been able to stonewall the House and Senate, they have effectively made it impossible for President Obama to enact any real change.


But they didn't overthrow President Clinton.

They can be stopped.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Liberal Libertarianism

In my last entry, I attacked free-market economics. In this entry I will recommend we need more of it. But I am not contradicting myself – because free-markets are not utilized evenly.


If you are poor, you likely live primarily in a free market. However, if you are of the privileged class, free markets are for the other guys.


Consider this:

Although the poor outnumber the rich by a huge margin in this country, you've never heard the population of the poor referred to as “too big to fail.”


And, of course, though the big banks got themselves into trouble gambling with sketchy loans; the American government has decided that the rest of us shall be the equivalent of these problem gamblers' enablers.


...But don't take my word for it. Both filmmaker Michael Moore and Congressman Ron Paul have spoken out on this.


Michael Moore has been called a Socialist. Ron Paul has been a Libertarian. They may not agree on anything else, but they both agree that the American people have been robbed by the big banks... And they both agree that essentially nothing has been done about it – by our Government.


At this rate, it seems inevitable that things will have to get worse before they get better.















I highly recommend both Michael Moore's movie; CAPITALISM: A LOVE STORY, and Congressman Ron Paul's book; END THE FED.


Michael Moore and Ron Paul both have it right – at either end of the spectrum.


A government's function (in its economy) should be to help the under-privileged out of poverty and the over-privileged out of complacency.


And our government is failing at both.


How bad will things have to get before we face these truths?





Thursday, October 15, 2009

No Nobel For That Ivory Tower Economist


With all this mass media opinion and “reporting” about President Obama not deserving the Nobel prize, allow me to mention someone else who didn't deserve the Nobel prize.


Milton Friedman didn't deserve the Nobel prize in Economics.


That's right, free-market economics is a farce in the real world. Since the 1970's, not one country on the planet who has embraced free-market economics has seen greater prosperity for a majority of their citizens. (Of course, some of the people in these free-market economies are extraordinarily rich – at the expense of the rest of the country's people and environment – which is why some influential people still support his assumptions... They're getting filthy rich!)


Milton Freedman was an ivory tower intellectual with a convincing argument that simply hasn't panned out.


His basic premise is correct – that economic markets have a tendency for being self-correcting. But so what? The real world is just not that simple or predictable.


Here are some of the weaknesses of Free-Market Economics:

Link

  1. A society that focuses on a simple free-market economy tends to neglect its health, education, social justice, sanity, safety, and sustainability – and is less able to report the truth about this neglect.

      Example: Almost 45 thousand Americans a year die in part due to lack of health insurance. Approximately 50 million Americans don't have health insurance. And every American with health insurance is at risk of being denied coverage by their insurer. Yet, in spite of these terrifying statistics, Americans are reluctant to change our health care system – because the information they receive from television is slanted towards insurance companies, drug companies, and the health “care” industry. The reason; just turn on your TV. You can't watch a show without seeing an expensive ad about some “treatment” for what ails us. In a simple free-market system, profits are more important than everything else – including the truth.

  2. Irresponsible behavior in a real world “free” market system is often rewarded.

      Example: The big insurance companies have manipulated our government and our mass media to the disadvantage of everyone else. They have raised their rates and lowered their payouts. They have lowered their taxes and changed laws to make it very difficult to sue them, no matter what they do. Consequently, they've made obscene profits. And consequently, investors want to invest in their companies.

  3. Free markets only respond to change. Simple free markets just cannot anticipate change well enough to make a real difference.

      Example: We have known since the 1970's that the world is running out of oil. Yet, here we are, over 30 years later, facing peak oil; and totally unprepared. Many of us live in homes in the suburbs, miles away from where we work. And for the better part of that 30 years, we have been buying bigger gas hogs to make the commute. We ship in all our goods, including food, from thousands of miles away. And we have no backup plan.

  4. In the race to get rich in a free-market system, millions of people are bound to make poor decisions with horrendous consequences.

      Example: Scientists have known about Global Warming for decades now. (I first heard about the Greenhouse Effect in the mid-1970's – when the science had already been well established.) Scientists now predict that the Arctic Ocean will be melted during the summer within 10 to 20 years! And yet, corporate profits are still more important than the fate of the Earth's climate. Somehow, the free-market pundits have been able to convince many of us that the economy is more important than the environment. Of course, this is obvious nonsense, because any economy is only a subset of the Earth's environment. And if the balance of the environment topples, the economy (and therefore we) will eventually suffer immensely.Link

  5. The self-corrections of economic free-markets can be very painful.

      Example: When the price of oil goes through the roof and coastal cities flood, the economic markets will self-correct – by collapsing. Millions of people will be left homeless and starving. Had we anticipated these risks and done a better job of preparing for them, we could have designed a far more resilient economy.

  6. There can never be a truly free market.

      Example: Markets are being manipulated by the greedy – whether we like it or not. The fossil fuel industry suppresses sustainable power generation. The drug industry suppresses alternative health options. Lobbyists manipulate regulators. Astro-turf organizations manipulate gullible people to manipulate the tax structure. The military/industrial complex manipulates government spending. Insiders manipulate the stock market. Bankers manipulate the money supply. And of course, advertisers manipulate consumers.


Our only option is to minimize the detrimental manipulations and design into our economy intelligence, fairness, resiliency, and the ability to adapt.


Allow me to make one thing very clear. Capitalism is not inherently evil. We need some limited amount of free market economic thinking. However, history has shown us that given the freedom to choose; we all choose to act irresponsibly sometimes. And some of us choose to act criminally. If we don't set boundaries and responsible rewards; some people will simply take advantage of everyone and every thing they can.


Humanity has already lost 30 critical years to an oversimplification of how our economy operates within our planet's environment – an oversimplification that was validated by a Nobel prize in economics.


Milton Friedman was wrong.

But Milton Friedman is dead.

Milton Friedman can't send his Nobel back and say he's sorry. And his followers are getting too rich pillaging.

It's up to us to figure out a better way.



Friday, October 09, 2009

A Nobel Prize for what He Didn't Do


Congratulations President Barack Obama on the Nobel Peace Prize!



However, I checked out some of the titles of mainstream American news reports:

Washington Post – Obama's Prize: Misunderstanding or Mockery?

Associated Press – GOP, even some liberals, dismiss Obama peace prize

Wall Street Journal – Nobel Committee's Decision Courts Controversy

Bloomberg – Obama's “Premature Canonization” by Nobel Panel Draws Criticism

Fox News – Obama Doesn't Deserve the Peace Prize


Geez... I tell you...

He doesn't get any respect.


Why is the American press so unhappy with Obama's success?


The truth is; President Obama hasn't really done much yet. We're still in Iraq. There are more troops in Afghanistan now. And we still could end up at war with Iran.


But then again; if you listen closely to what the Nobel presenter said, Obama has done something altogether extraordinary – nothing (a fascist government would do).







As I have mentioned in a previous blog entry; the United States was slipping into fascism during the Bush years. President Barack Obama put a stop to that.


Yes, the verdict is still out.

Yes, we still have a long way to go.

But for a while, America was well on the way to fascism. And now we are not.



Amazingly, some Americans have associated Obama with Hitler. But the rest of the world knows better. President Obama has, at least for a while, kept a new Hitler from rising in America.


Thank you, President Barack Obama!


...And why are so many American news reports so negative? Follow the money... It is very likely that some of those who own the mass media stood to profit immensely from America's demise as a Democratic Republic.