Archive for Sustainability


You pays yer money and you takes yer choice

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“The problem’s not solved because of this accord.” – President Barack Obama

Environmental issues are not my forte, but I followed live the release of the Paris agreement yesterday morning nonetheless. The president later gave this statement:

“I believe this moment can be a turning point for the world,” Obama concluded. “We’ve shown that the world has both the will and the ability to take on this challenge.”

D.R. Tucker at Political Animal wrote passionately about the Paris agreement:

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Changing everything

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Naomi Klein appeared last night on All In with Chris Hayes to discuss her new book, “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs The Climate.” The logical extension of her earlier work, Klein called last night for a reevaluation of “the values that govern our society.” She writes, “our economic system and our planetary system are now at war … there are policies that can lower emissions quickly, and successful models all over the world for doing so. The biggest problem is that we have governments that don’t believe in governing.”
I haven’t read it yet, but I wanted to comment on the backlash we are sure to see.

Klein believes trying to address climate alone — as the environmental movement has — gets the issue wrong. As the Guardian put it, “[I]t’s about capitalism – not carbon – the extreme anti-regulatory version that has seized global economies since the 1980s and has set us on a course of destruction and deepening inequality.” Klein told Chris Hayes, “It’s not the end of the world. It’s just the end of that highly individualistic, zero-sum game kind of thinking.”

This, of course, will set lots of hair on fire on the right. In fact, Hayes led off the segment with a few choice quotes from some spokesmen on the right who believe climate change is a left-wing conspiracy. Then there is Rush Limbaugh: “That’s what global warming is. It’s merely a platform to advance communism.”

Please. I was born during the second Red Scare. I was a tot when they launched Sputnik. I remember the Cuban Missile Crisis. That was half a century ago.

A quarter of a century after that, the Berlin Wall fell and American conservatives declared that Saint Ronald of Reagan had slain the Evil Empire and won the Cold War. And a quarter of a century after that, they’re still looking for commies in woodpiles and for Reds under their beds before they cower beneath the sheets.

Last year, even Forbes gave communism all the relevance of a Renaissance festival.

Not even the Chinese are communists anymore. Have you seen Shanghai lately? China has about cornered the free market in glass-and-steel skyscrapers and the cranes and concrete to build them. They sure as hell cornered a chunk of investment by Republican donors.

It took most of the 1990s, but with the former Soviet Pacific fleet rusting away at the docks in Vladivostok, even the Pentagon figured out communism wasn’t the Red Menace anymore. It took Russia less than a decade after the Wall fell to revert to the oligarchy it was before the Bolshevik Revolution – peasants and plutocrats. Which is where we’re headed, if you haven’t noticed.

If conservatives’ would-be leaders are so worried about the U.S. emulating the Roosskies, they might want to stop licking the boots of our domestic plutocrats. They might want to get their heads out of their anti-communism and join the rest of us in addressing the challenges of the twenty-first century.

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

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Beyond Coal

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Screenshot 2013-08-22 at 11.07.13 PM

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
August 24th
Pack Square


One Bag Washes The Other

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plastic-bag-rehabThat resuable bag you are taking to the grocery store might just save the planet; in the meantime, don’t let it kill you. An article last week in Food Poisoning Bulletin appeared which drove home the need to keep your bags clean. The main message is that people don’t know how serious the potential is for severe bag contamination.

With plastic bag bans going into effect in localities across the country, there is now public health data to mine to look for unanticipated outcomes. The authors of a study done last August point out that food bourn illness deaths and ER visits “spike” where and when bag bans go into effect. The main way to avoid such a problem for yourself: wash your reusable bags early and often.

Point taken. I am a reusable bag enthusiast and I will heed this advice. I’m glad that I invested in some durable cotton bags that go into the laundry machine with ease. I’ve seen some cheap POS plastic reusable bags out there that would be a nightmare to clean. It’s not that I don’t clean mine but I can see the frequency needs to go up a lot. After reading the aritcle, I ordered more bags to accomodate a larger rotation which in turn will allow for more visits to the laundry.

So clean bags are a must. But I think there is another side to this story. Read More→

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The NCGA Regrets To Inform You…

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Republicans will regret merging water system, MSD, writes Steve Rasmussen in the new Mountain Xpress.

If Reps. Tim Moffitt, Chuck McGrady and the NC General Assembly succeed in expropriating Asheville’s water system, the mandated merger with MSD will lead to more urban sprawl, Rasmussen predicts, once control of water and sewer line extension is in the hands of a regional authority. The move will spawn a political arms race on a new battlefield for developers and smart growth supporters. Rasmussen writes,

Crowded, contentious public hearings will routinely overflow MSD’s meeting room. Green activists will accuse board members of rubber-stamping applications from greedy out-of-state developers; tea party activists will claim the board is conspiring with the U.N. to impose Agenda 21. Brutal political machinations will ensue, fueled by costly fundraising campaigns to elect city council members, town aldermen and county commissioners who’ll make the board appointments each side wants. In comparison, the intergovernmental bickering that tore apart our Regional Water Agency a decade ago will look like a backyard pool party.

Messrs. Moffitt and McGrady send their regrets.

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For those of you paying attention to the changes in our NC state executive offices, here’s another brick in the wall:

Veteran lawmaker Rep. Mitch Gillespie – who in 2011 literally drew a bulls-eye target on his legislative office window aimed at the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources – will resign next month to become an assistant secretary of the agency.
Gillespie spearheaded a slew of environmental regulatory reforms in last year’s session, and said he felt he had good relations with environmental advocates. But Gillespie comes from the business side of the equation, having worked in surveying, civil engineering and land development.

He has been supported by the state’s energy company PACs.


Bioneers Conference

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Lenoir Rhyne University and New Belgium Brewing invite everyone to come participate this weekend. From their website:

A Taste of Bioneers Conference

Date: November 2, 2012 – November 3, 2012
Time: Friday 6:00pm – 9:00pm / Saturday 10:00am – 6:00pm
Location: 36 Montford Avenue, Lenoir-Rhyne University Center for Graduate Studies of Asheville

What is sustainability, and how are we making it happen here in Asheville? The Taste of Bioneers will feature streaming plenary sessions from the National Bioneers Conference as well as panels made up of local leaders in sustainability from right here in Asheville.

See the schedule, speakers, panels, and activities after the jump.

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Categories : Local, Sustainability
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Be A Part Of It

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The Health, Wellness, and Education Cluster of the Asheville Buncombe Food Policy Council is inviting the whole community this Friday. Facebook event page is here. This is a must-attend for anyone who is involved in local food or who wants to learn more about area food systems. Producers, processors, distributors, educators – We’re all working together to make Asheville and Buncombe County a food secure community with a thriving economy. Come be a part of it.

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Injecting millions of gallons of water, sand and toxic chemicals underground beneath the water table to fracture shale and free trapped oil and natural gas? What could possibly go wrong? Mtn. X:

A contentious bill to allow hydrolic fracturing – or “fracking” – for oil and gas exploration in the state passed the N.C. Senate on Wednesday by a 29-19 majority, and is expected to be voted on today in the House.
The bill is expected to pass in the House, and then will face Gov. Bev Perdue and the possibility of a veto. The governor, who quashed an earlier bill calling for test drilling, has subsequently announced that she believes drilling can be done safely in the state.

It’s about more than just fracking. It’s also about further limiting local governments’ ability to determine their own fates:

“Any local ordinances that would have the effect of banning the wells would be repealed by the legislation, and a newly established state Oil and Gas Board would be given the power to preempt any new ordinances that have the effect of banning the wells within a local government’s jurisdiction

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Energy Independence – Brownie’s #1 Priority

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From a Brownie Newman newsletter:

Asheville and Buncombe County have a history of leadership when it comes to clean energy.

It was just over ten years ago that Senator Steve Metcalf and Senator Martin Nesbitt, who was a member of the state House at the time, sponsored a bill called the NC Clean Smokestacks Act. This bill required the utility companies in North Carolina to install modern pollution controls on their coal-fired power plants which generate most of the state’s electricity and also generated a majority of the emissions that create haze, smog and ground level ozone pollution.

When local environmental groups put forward the concept of the Clean Smokestacks Act, most people didn’t give it much of a chance and few politicians were willing to consider it. Fortunately, two of Buncombe County’s state legislators championed the effort. It took more than three years to get it done, but thanks to hard work from hundreds of citizens from western North Carolina and across the state, the bill was passed, and North Carolina’s air is a lot cleaner today as a result.

I was the Director of the Western North Carolina Alliance at the time the Clean Smokestacks Act campaign was carried out, and was able to see first-hand how people working together around a common purpose could make a real and positive change.

As a member of the Asheville City Council over the past eight years, I am proud how our community has continued to be a leader for clean energy. In 2007, Asheville adopted a policy committing the City to reduce its use of fossil fuels and carbon pollution levels by 80%, which is the level that the scientific community believes is necessary to avoid the most severe and irreversible impacts of global warming on our children’s generation.

Asheville has aggressively followed through on this commitment:

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