Friday, April 30, 2010

Spill Baby, Spill

The hydrogen powered Honda FCX Clarity has a range of 300 miles between fill ups. Reviews of the car have been gushing with positive comments such as “the holy grail of fuel efficiency.” Burning hydrogen does not result in climate destabilization. In fact, what comes out of the Honda tailpipe is just water. Moreover, the technology to generate hydrogen at home, from water, exists – and is getting even cheaper.

The technology exists, right now, for us to drive competent clean cars on fuel we could generate ourselves from renewable sources.

But the corporatist mantra has been “Drill Baby, Drill.”

And of course, the consequences are quite predictable.

We knew there would be accidents. There have been many accidents before. Pollution is just a fact of life with fossil fuels. Nobody should be surprised. And nobody should be surprised that BP, the operator of the sunken oil rig that now threatens to spill onto the shores of Louisiana; opposed stricter safety rules for offshore drilling.

A recent study of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska found that the oil left after the clean up attempts has not dispersed as hoped. 26,000 gallons of oil has remained in the soil along the coastline of Alaska. The region's fishery is still being impacted over two decades later. (The spill itself immediately killed up to 250,000 sea birds, 2,800 otters, 300 seals, 247 bald eagles, and 22 orcas.)

And the coast of Louisiana is likely next.

As a society, these are the choices we've made. As individuals, these are the choices that have been made for us.


The answer is simple.

To sustain profits for unsustainable industries.

The fossil fuel industries are huge – some of the biggest industries in the world. And they have no desire to just stand back and let better technology take their place. There's just too much money to drain from us, their “addicted to oil” consumers.

BP has spent piles of money trying to convince us that BP stands for “Beyond Petroleum.” But if you remember their ads, BP always stressed that we keep using petroleum. This is known as greenwashing. Sometimes companies spend more on greenwash advertising than they've invested on their actual renewable efforts. And, as might be expected; renewables are just a small fraction of BP's total portfolio.

Oh, and one more non-surprise; a recent Government Accountability Office report has claimed that the Alaska regional office of the Minerals Management Service within the Department of Interior failed to follow internal policy and hid from employees industry-generated reports examining the environmental impacts of more drilling. That's right, our government is in on it to.

This is just a different version of “too big to fail.” The established industry has so much money and power that they can suppress better ways of doing things.

How does an established, “successful,” entrenched industry stay on top while maximizing profits? Not by innovating. That's too expensive and risky. It's more profitable to stifle innovation that might upset their present cash flow. And how do they pull this off? The established industry gains unfair advantages (such as subsidies) to remain competitive. The established industry manipulates information about the disadvantages of their products (such as the 20 years of denial misinformation generated about climate change). And the established industry cons you and me (with expensive ads) into believing that they have our best interests at heart... Yeah, right...

They want us to be addicted to oil. Addicts are the best customers. We'll pay any price. We'll put up with them poisoning us. And we'll believe anything they tell us to get another fix.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Smoking Gun That Just Might Bring About Real Change

The words “criminally negligent” are getting tossed around a lot about Don Blankenship, CEO of Massey Energy, since the deaths of 29 coal miners at the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia. Just so far this year, Massey Energy has received 2315 violations!

However, some more very important issues need to be considered also:

Should Massey Energy be able to blame it all on their CEO, and go on with business as usual?

Should CEO Don Blankenship go to jail while his corporation's investors sneak away with all their profits?

What is to keep Massey Energy, or any company for that matter, from just hiring another Blankenship clone? Don Blankenship may be criminally negligent, but this is a systematic problem that won't go away, even if he goes to jail. If America doesn't deal with this type of failure of our political, economic, and justice systems, we will continue to be the victims of it. True justice should insure that not only people, but organizations do the right things.

Legally, corporations are considered people in America. So:

If corporations are people, they should be subject to the death penalty when they murder.

What the death penalty for a corporation means is the revocation of their charter. Shut them down. Sell off their assets. And most importantly, fire everyone at the top.

Would miners lose their jobs? Maybe. But most likely some other coal company would buy the mine and keep it going. If not, the mine wasn't profitable to run safe – and shouldn't have been open anyway.

But there's more.

Don Blankenship has pulled every string. He spent millions manipulating his state's elections. And he is the director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. That's right. This man, who is practically a murderer, is the director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – fighting for Climate Change.

Watching this coal industry corporate executive call Obama, Pelosi, and Reid “crazy about Climate Change really points out who the puppet masters are, and what they are all about. Money. Money. Money. If people die, and his corporation makes money – well, that's just the cost of doing business. If our climate goes haywire and thousands (if not millions of ) people die, and his corporation still makes money – well, at least they'll profit while he's CEO.

Our political system is simply callus to the damage and death it allows for the profits of those puppet masters – who want to take everything they can get. (And I'm not just talking about corporate boards, I'm talking about investors – because they are the driving force.) ...It just stuns me that it doesn't have to be this way.

Our politicians talk about clean energy – and then talk some more. And then they keep on giving out billions in subsidies to the fossil fuel industry and overlooking those death and destruction “externalities.”

America has what are essentially National Sacrifice Areas; where coal, oil, and nuclear power leave places literally uninhabitable. And sometimes our “laws” simply amount to regulated manslaughter. What's worse, these regulations don't have any teeth.

We know that many types of renewable power are safe. And yet we put up with three American miners dying every day of coal miner's black lung – and it's getting worse.

On top of all of that, when the World Bank was considering loaning billions to South Africa to build one of the largest coal-fired power plants in the world, the U.S. abstained from voting against it.

Our political system is broken.

Some people like it broken.

We will have to confront them to fix it.

Our sheer numbers will be the force that pressures our government to execute some criminally negligent corporation like Massey Energy.

Our sheer numbers will be the force that changes the World Bank's mind.

...Or... the sheer numbers of our deaths (that the puppet masters won't care about) will be the force that pressures us to act.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Save Rural Nevada. Act Now!

So you're not happy that Southern Nevada Water Authority wants to turn Rural Nevada into a dustbowl? Now is your chance to do something about it. SNWA has had to refile for Rural Nevada water rights. Now is your chance to file a protest about it. Anyone can do it.

But you don't have long. The deadline for the first applications is April 22. And the protests have to be in the State Engineer's office by then.

So, let's get started.

You can print out a copy of the Protest Form – click here.

Here is a sample of a completed protest form. You'll have to fill in your own name and the number of the water application you wish to protest. But you can do it.

To find a map of the watergrab application locations, click here.

Once you pick the location of the application you wish to protest; note the application number. You can find the rest of the information about the watergrab application by clicking here.

On this form, you need the Source/Use and Application (App.) Date information. UG means underground. STR means stream. SPR means spring.

You can print this copy of checklist of protest reasons.

And then just check off your reasons.

Your protest needs to be notarized. So, don't sign it until then.

For more information click here.

There is a $25 fee for each protest.

Send your protest to:

Nevada Division of Water Resources

901 S. Stewart St. #2002

Carson City, NV 89701

Monday, April 05, 2010

All Americans Have Blood On Our Hands

I wanted to show this video to remind people that war is hell. People die. And quite often the wrong people die.

The obvious truth is that our military is capable of only four things; destroying property, killing people, polluting our planet, and wasting our resources – in the name of the United States Government.

The American troops here made a mistake. We could argue the severity of the mistake, but I'd rather not. My point is that mistakes like this are inevitable in armed conflicts. We Americans back at home know that. But somehow in the heat of the moment, we still don't seem to want peace bad enough to keep our military forces at home.

American troops never should have been sent to Iraq. I tried to stop it. I sent letters to my representatives. I signed petitions. I even protested in the streets. But at the time, the American people didn't want to think about all the innocent people who would die. They didn't want to think about the country they would destroy. They didn't want to think about the American troops who would do things they would never want to speak about in public. And the American people definitely didn't want to think about the American troops who would be killed or permanently crippled – and for what?

So that American corporations could steal Iraqi oil?

How has that worked out for us? Gas isn't cheap. Our nation's deficit is one step closer to breaking us. Unscrupulous military contractors have stolen billions from us. And we all have blood on our hands.

Sure, we Americans back home didn't literally pull the trigger. But we allowed the orders to be given to the troops that would pull the triggers. And we did so knowing that the “collateral damage” would be extensive.

In America, if you order a murder, you're just as guilty at the person who pulled the trigger. But if you vote for someone to invade a foreign country, and tens of thousands of innocent people die – we blame it on the troops – or we blame it on the enemy.

Hawks in this country; watch this video. And remember, you wanted this. You knew it would happen. Lots of people live in Iraq. This wasn't a military base they were attacking. These were just some people standing in the streets. This is an occupation, not a war. We're shooting at civilians. Some of them are civilians angry enough to shoot back. But most of them are just shooting at each other.

One would have thought that we would have learned our lesson in Viet Nam. But I guess some did. Some learned that they could get filthy rich on war. They lied to us then too. You may be old enough to remember the “domino theory.” If Viet Nam fell to communism, all of South East Asia would fall with it. Well; Viet Nam fell, and that was it.

Now we're being told that Iraqis “need” us to protect them. Yeah... right.

We lost the “war” in Viet Nam – as soon as we started.

But after a decade of dropping bombs on that little country, the hawks still have the nerve to blame the doves for losing the “war” - because we said it was wrong.

We've also lost the “war” in Iraq. But not because we couldn't beat their armies. Because we wouldn't do the right thing – help Iraq create a democratic republic that would have been a model for all other countries – even America.

WikiLeaks provided the video. And now "our" Government is at war with WikiLeaks. Our "Intelligence" community wants to shut them up. They don't want us to know what reality looks like. Please support WikiLeaks – or you may never get a chance to see what the “war” in Iraq really looks like.