Jun 15 2011
My White House is Solar Cool. Mr. President, why isn’t yours?
Sometimes, your kids tell you great things.
We have the coolest house on the street.
We’re cool — according to the kids.
Certainly isn’t the non-existent slide for the pool that isn’t there.
Our lack of a huge media room and the glaring absence of a gym didn’t contribute.
And, while I’ve always thought it cool that we live on the white house of the street, that isn’t it either.
My fourth-grader son explained to me why it’s cool:
Last fall, facing a bit of pressure (mainly from 350.org) about the absence of solar from the White House roof since the Reagan Administration took off the panels President Carter put it, the Administration promised that the White House would have solar panels up on the roof “before the end of spring”.
As of today, 15 June 2011, the White House still doesn’t have solar panels on it.
The clock is ticking as even with climate disruption messing up our seasons, spring still ends 20 June …
Feb 13 2011
Republicans out to Kill Canaries in the Coal Mines
Seeking to protect fossil-foolish interests is at the core of the Republican House majority’s agrenda.
“We think what we can be is the canary in the coal mine,” Republican Representative Darryl Issa told reporters.
Congressman Issa’s words are prophetic — evidently he and his colleagues consider themselves to be the ‘canaries in the coal mine’ since they are taking steps with the newly introduced Continuing Resolution to kill off as many canaries in the coal mine to protect Americans from environmental, safety, and other risks. For example, the proposal includes a 22 percent reduction in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, massive cuts in basic science research, budgets slashing seeking to essentially eliminate U.S. government research on climate change, … a true anti-science syndrome agenda.
Feb 06 2011
Getting to a better building …
Construction and use of buildings account for a major share of global warming emissions. Depending on how one calculates, allocating roughly 40 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to this built infrastructure is roughly correct. Heating … cooling … lighting … building materials … etc, it all adds up (and up … and up). A good share of the building GHGs relates back to energy usage — where, after all, does the lion’s share of coal-generated electricity end up other than illuminating our entertainment systems and over-cooling during summer heat?
A simply reality: tremendous room exists for efficiency measures at not just cost effective but, in fact, profitable financial rates of return. That energy efficiency has remained an under-exploited example of a win-win-win space means that it remains a place for fast and effective action.
Today, President Obama focused on this win-win-win opportunity.
Sep 07 2010
Denial to Determination …
Acceptance of and understanding of Global Warming is an overwhelming action. Truly understanding what we (all of the US and all of us) face commands decisions about how one will interact with the globe from that moment on. Now, for better or worse, there are many (often illegitimate) reasons for skepticism about Global Warming. One of these is, quite clearly, an emotional desire to avoid having to face those decisions in the face. But, there is a path toward that decision point. For quite good reasons, that path is very close to that outlined by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross in Death and Denying for dealing with life’s tragedies.
- Skepticism (anger for dealing with grief)
- Delay (bargaining)
- Determination and Activism (acceptance)
Jul 30 2010
Effing scary! Effing complex! Effing easy! … Climate Change
Lafeminista’s Global Warming: Are you f***ing scared yet? highlights yet another reason for grave concern about the impacts of our using the atmosphere as a trash pit: we are killing life in the ocean as
Scientists have discovered that the phytoplankton of the oceans has declined by about 40 per cent over the past century, with much of the loss occurring since the 1950s. They believe the change is linked with rising sea temperatures and global warming.
Should we mention acidification of the oceans? Accelerating extinction rates? Ever-more disrupted weather patterns globally that, among other things, are hurting agricultural production? Stronger storms? Rising seas? ….
At a core level, if you are a parent and unconcerned about what this means for your child’s life (your own as well), well, you are living with blinders on.
Global Warming should effing scare us …
Yet, it doesn’t because it also so complex …
And, sigh, it shouldn’t have to because the solution paths are so clear …
Jul 28 2010
“Forcing people to save is a cost that I am willing to bear.”
That Nobel prize, PhD, and ten patents to his name are hints that Secretary of Energy Steven Chu is beyond simply a bright man. Secretary Chu is also a dedicated public servant. He is also a thoughtful, self-effacing, and, well, simply entertaining speaker. A chance to be in the room, to seem him speak, is one of those things not to pass up.
The other evening, Secretary Chu spoke at an evening reception leading into today’s Center for American Progress Doing What Works that examined paths for improving government performance and foster increased (reasons for) public confidence in government. He spoke to perspectives on the role of government and provided some thoughts from the Department of Energy.
Jul 27 2010
Natural Gas Vehicles: an ‘ethanol’-like boondoggle?
Despite all the green washing out there (and there is lots of it, lets be clear), corn-based ethanol is far from a panacea in terms of reducing America’s dependence on imported oil, dependency on fossil fuels, reducing greenhouse gases and representing a good investment for the taxpayer. While supporting corn ethanol is, it seems, great politics to get through the Iowa primary, independent study after independent study shows that it is not a good deal for the taxpayer, the economy, and the environment. The absolute ‘best’ case, from honest analysis, is that this is a very costly and inefficient path for very marginal reductions in fossil-foolish dependencies and minimal greenhouse-gas emission reductions. Other analysts come out with the conclusion that we actually lose ground in GHG emissions in returns for the $billions being pumped into corn ethanol.
Right now, we seem to be watching (in slow motion?) a headlong rush into another “ethanol”-like boondoggle driven, in no small part, by the $70 million or so that T Boone Pickens has put behind promotion of The Pickens’ Plan.
May 17 2010
Freedom Works: A must see Public Service Announcement
“Don’t drunk dial Freedom Works …”
Filled with excellent and truthful lines like
Tweaking the nose of hypocrites in power can be dangerous
Consider voting it up on YouTube or sharing …
May 16 2010
NIMBYism threatens our future …
Oh, no you don’t!
You’re not doing that!
This is perhaps one of the most natural of human reactions.
Sludge plant? I might poop but don’t put that upwind of me.
Oil Refinery? I’ll drive as much as I want but don’t let that cancer-causing behemoth ruin my view or threaten my kids’ health.
Prison? Put the bums away, far away from me.
Natural and understandable doesn’t make NIMBYism right or correct.
May 06 2010
All we ask …. Five Percent a Year
Our combined energy and climate challenges and opportunities are incredibly complex and interrelated issues. Throw in other resource challenges, economic challenges, and a myriad of other factors and, well, the complexity can overwhelm any and all.
In the face of Deepwater Horizon, the political obstacles to climate legislation, etc …, perhaps it is time to look for a straightforward statement as to how we should move forward to address our energy and climate challenges while improving our economic and security systems … Perhaps it is time to turn to
The Five Percent Solution
… a path toward energy security, economic prosperity, and climate change mitigation.
Apr 21 2010
1% of what we need … yet an excellent WH announcement …
The day before the 40th Earth Day, VP Joe Biden kicked off a series of White House actions and announcements with an excellent initiative:
selection of 25 communities for up to $452 million in Recovery Act funding to “ramp-up” energy efficiency building retrofits. Under the Department of Energy’s Retrofit Ramp-Up initiative, communities, governments, private sector companies and non-profit organizations will work together on pioneering and innovative programs for concentrated and broad-based retrofits of neighborhoods and towns – and eventually entire states. These partnerships will support large-scale retrofits and make energy efficiency accessible to hundreds of thousands of homeowners and businesses. The models created through this program are expected to save households and businesses about a $100 million annually in utility bills, while leveraging private sector resources, to create what funding recipients estimate at about 30,000 jobs across the country during the next three years.
This is, truly, a terrific announcement: the movement of real funding into paths for ramping up energy efficiency building retrofitting capacities and actions.
Sadly, however, it is only a fraction of already stated demand and a miniscule fraction of what we should be doing.
Apr 19 2010
Piss on the Planet …
This ad comes via Canada. GreenCalgary is running an idle-free campaign with, we could say, a bit of a different twist.
The negative health and environmental impacts of idling have been known for over a decade. Yet, all over the city of Calgary we are leaving our cars running while not in use for an average of 5-10 minutes per car per day. Idling is unnecessary. It wastes fuel, produces more harmful emissions than normal driving, damages engines, and contributes to climate change