Archive for Global Warming
“We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings.”
— Ursula Le Guin, accepting the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, 2014 National Book Awards
So much of what bloggers write about is serendipity. Sometimes focusing fiercely on a single topic and searching out components to flesh out an idea, or else grazing the Net at random for articles that spark one, or sometimes just happening upon ideas floating around that connect in ways that say something about the zeitgeist.
This morning I ran across this post on Raw Story featuring Ursula Le Guin’s speech at the National Book Awards ceremony in November:
I think hard times are coming when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now and can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine some real grounds for hope. We will need writers who can remember freedom. Poets, visionaries — the realists of a larger reality. …
Books, you know, they’re not just commodities. The profit motive often is in conflict with the aims of art. We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art — the art of words.
I have had a long career and a good one. In good company. Now here, at the end of it, I really don’t want to watch American literature get sold down the river. We who live by writing and publishing want — and should demand — our fair share of the proceeds. But the name of our beautiful reward is not profit. Its name is freedom.
(Yesterday was a bit busy. Just getting around to posting this.)
McConaughey’s character, known only as Cooper, is a farmer in a world that has become desperately short of food. Human activity has degraded the soil so badly that they’re forced to live in a giant dustbowl and crops are all but impossible to grow.
Although soil degradation is nothing new, Interstellar is proving strangely prescient, as its release coincides with a new UN report showing the trend has reached alarming levels, with 7.7 square miles of agricultural land being lost every day because it has become too salty. Climate change is making the situation worse because warmer temperatures require more irrigation and increase the speed at which the water evaporates, the report warns.
Now if we could only get people to suspend their disbelief and think about climate change for 2h 49m outside a theater.
(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)
The UK must prepare for “the worst droughts in modern times” experts will warn this week at a major international conference to discuss the growing global water crisis.
Britain is looking at ways of reconfiguring its water infrastructure — expanding reservoirs, imposing tougher water extraction licenses, considering more desalination plants. “In the past we have planned for our water resources to cope with the worst situation on record but records are only 100 years long,” explains Trevor Bishop, the Environment Agency’s deputy director. “We may get a situation that is worse than that – with climate change that is perfectly possible.”
In Three Ways Climate Change Is Going To Ruin Your Beer, Think Progress’ Ryan Koronowski looks at how brewers are trying to get ahead of water and ingredient shortages:
A study from 2009 suggested that the quality of Saaz hops from the Czech Republic has been falling since 1954 due to warmer temperatures. This is true for hops-growing regionsacross Europe. “If you drink beer now, the issue of climate change is impacting you right now,” Colorado’s New Belgium Brewing Company sustainability director Jenn Orgolini said in 2011. “Craft brewers — the emphasis there is on craft. We make something, and it’s a deeply agricultural product.”
Koronowski cites efforts by brewers to reduce water consumption and carbon emissions as among other tactics brewers are using to get ahead of the climate change curve even as their retromingent brethren deny climate change is real and demand the government do nothing to stop it.
That would not include North Carolina businesses such as wind-powered Outer Banks Brewing Station and Asheville’s New Belgium.
New Belgium Brewing Company last year was recognized by the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council for putting in place systems that allow it to divert 99.8 percent of its waste from the landfill.
If climate change is a long-term threat to local brewers, what might fracking do in the near-term?
Independent scientists who have reviewed a water analysis conducted by state authorities of a Texas resident’s drinking well say the chemical signatures found in the water may provide “the nation’s first conclusive link” between fracking operations and aquifer contamination.
Corporate pirates? Drink up, me hearties.
“This is a textbook case of how corporations attempt to influence our democracy, election after election. No. Seriously. They have a textbook.”
If we can help Boulder succeed, whose town gets helped next?
From your friends at Upworthy:
This Saturday, you have the chance to stand together with people who are ready for our clean energy future. Gordon Smith for City Council campaign volunteers will be canvassing Saturday at 10am (details here – FB event page), so consider making a day of it! From the Beyond Coal: A Rally for our Future Facebook event page:
Let’s move Asheville beyond coal! Come take action and call on Duke Energy to retire the Asheville power plant and lead our state in renewable energy. Come out on August 24th from 2-4pm Pack Square and take action! There will be music, kids activities, and speakers, and much more! #ActOnClimate, #FearlessSummer
Currently our electric energy comes the Asheville coal-fired power plant, which is the largest single source of CO2 in Western North Carolina; amounting to over 500,000 extra cars on the road. It is polluting our air, our water and our communities. Not only that, but the coal that we are burning comes from mountaintop removal, which is destroying mountains, sickening communities, and harming the air and water of communities in Appalachia.
With music, kids games, speakers, and much much more!
Speaker Program includes:
Mary Anne Hitt, Beyond Coal Campaign director
Terry M. Bellamy, Mayor of Asheville
Ian Somerhalder, actor (Lost & Vampire Diaries)
Hartwell Carson, French Board Riverkeeper
Drew Jones, Climate Interactive
Dr. Richard Fireman, retired MD
Nick Mullins, coalfield resident
Something I ran across last night…
Brownie Newman today announced his plans to run for Buncombe County Commission. Newman has served two terms as a member of Asheville City Council and has served as Mayor Pro Tem since 2009. Newman did not run for re-election to City Council in 2011. His last official day as a member of City Council is Dec. 6.
“As a member of Asheville City Council, I tried to set ambitious, achievable goals for our community. I am proud that we have established Asheville as a leader for energy independence and green jobs, promoted the growth of locally owned businesses and made it clear that we are an inclusive community that supports equal rights for all our citizens,” said Newman.
Newman cited these as some of the key accomplishments on City Council:
Established Asheville as a leader for clean, renewable energy:
– Asheville City Council committed the city to reduce its carbon emissions by 80% and to require all new municipal building to LEED Gold standards.
– Asheville replaced its old, polluting diesel buses with a new fleet including clean, quiet hybrid buses and is replacing its city street lights with LED bulbs, which will save taxpayers $650,000 a year in lower utility bills.
– Newman helped secure funding for Asheville Green Opportunities, to provide job training and mentoring for young people from low income neighborhoods so they can develop work experience in the new clean energy economy.
Supported job creation, locally owned businesses and working families:
– Asheville worked with Mountain BizWorks to create a revolving loan fund to provide capital to local citizens to start their own business.
– Asheville partnered with Buncombe County to bring Linamar to Asheville, who will create at least 400 or more good paying manufacturing jobs and put the property formerly occupied by Volvo back into productive uses.
– Asheville held the line on property tax rate while investing more than $35 million to fix our long neglected water infrastructure.
Along with other members of Council, Newman supported a domestic partnership policy to extend equal workplace rights to municipal employees. The policy assures city workers will receive the same compensation for doing their job, regardless of sexual orientation.
“During a time when state legislators are trying to change North Carolina’s Constitution to discriminate against our citizens, I am proud that our community is standing up for equality,” said Newman.
In addition to his work on City Council, Newman is also one of the partners at FLS Energy, a local solar utility company. Since Newman joined FLS Energy in 2008, the company has grown from eight employees to more than eighty. Newman serves as Vice-President and Project Finance Director. He is one of the four members on the FLS board of directors.
Newman will be running in a new two-member County Commission district that includes most of Asheville and the central part of Buncombe County. Long-time County Commissioner Bill Stanley has announced he will not seek re-election.
Holly Jones is currently a commissioner from this district who plans to run for re-election. Newman and Jones previously served together on Asheville City Council and the two plan to support one another for County Commission.
“Holly has done a great job as County Commissioner. I am proud to lend my full support to her re-election campaign and am honored to have her support.” said Newman. Holly Jones added, “I am excited that Brownie is running for County Commission. He has contributed a lot to the City Council over the past eight years and he will be an effective member of the Commission.”
The Newman campaign will hold its kick-off event in January. Details to follow.
The New York Times posts a rundown of commentary on the the “execution cheer” at the Republican candidates’ debate on Wednesday, reminding readers that the cheer went up at the Reagan Library in California. The “gasp within a gasp” was Perry’s untroubled defense — no moral doubts about having ever executing an innocent — of Texas justice. The “it takes guts to execute an innocent man” caucus burst into applause.
Andrew Sullivan writes on his Daily Beast live blog, “Here’s why I find it impossible to be a Republican: any crowd that instantly cheers the execution of 234 individuals is a crowd I want to flee, not join.”
The Atlantic ’s Ta-Nehisi Coates performs the obligatory “both sides do it” genuflect, noting that no Democratic candidate in two decades has opposed the death penalty. But only after writing, “The only thing that shocked me was that they didn’t form a rumba line. It’s a Republican debate. And it’s America … the country where we took kids to see men lynched, and then posed for photos.”
Several others trot out the readily available evidence that the death penalty has been used to execute the innocent, as well as evidence that Perry himself signed off on the execution of an innocent man. This, in spite of 41 exonerations from DNA evidence in the last decade in Texas alone.
Steve Benen of Washington Monthly points out Perry’s doubt-free lack of consistency about the value of evidence:
Scientists tell him, after rigorous, peer-reviewed, international research that global warming is real, and Perry responds, “I don’t care.” A deeply flawed judicial process puts potentially-innocent Americans on death row, and Perry responds, “Let’s get the killin’ started.”
The governor balks when presented with evidence on evolution, abstinence education, and climate change, but embraces without question the notion that everyone he’s killed in Texas was 100% guilty. The scientific process, he apparently believes, is unreliable, while the state criminal justice system is infallible.
Intellectually, morally, and politically, this isn’t just wrong; it’s scary. The fact that Republicans in the audience found this worthy of hearty applause points to a party that’s bankrupt in more ways than one.