Sunday, January 28, 2007

Open Season on Gray Wolves

We really should question the way in which this country manages it's endangered species. I guess, once you have reached x number of individuals, there's no reason to protect them.

Montana, Wyoming and Idaho will be declaring open season on the soon-not-to-be endangered Gray Wolf. Great Lakes states Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin are considering a similar option specifically for trophy hunting. I don't quite understand why we pick and choose endangered species like some sort of laundry list of animals that could very well disappear. There doesn't seem to be a middle ground in this idea of how to live with animals. Its like as soon as a species is on its last breath, we remove our hands from their throat and allow it to keep breathing again until some other incident or lobbyist (this time the ranchers and farmers lobbies) chooses to start choking the speicies out again.

Where is the middle ground? How can this be an effective, efficient policy? The U.S. Fish and Wildlife, IMHO, is a joke...what they really do is manage land and animals for our use.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Private Solar Funding

Billionaires and other uber-rich can have a huge impact on where our country, and world, is headed. Ted Turner is partnering with New Jersey solar company, Dome-Tech Solar, to bring solar energy to the California markets. Since Gov. Schwarzenegger committed the state to creating over 3,000 megawatts of new solar energy, this market could be substantial.

The question is, how come the gov't can't give substantial sums of money to promote the R&D of solar and wind energy? Well, if we're giving anywhere between $8.6 and $11.3 billion every year in subsidies to big oil, imagine what half of those figures could do for solar power.

How much solar power are we wasting? Alot...

Bush, quietly lifts Alaska drilling ban

Lots of little manuevers going on during this whole Iraq war ordeal. Bush single-handedly laid a below the belt blow to our environment and also helped to continue our dependence on oil as an energy resource.

Nope, he didn't open up ANWR (but you know its on his hit-list) but he did open up the similarly-sized Bristol Bay in Alaska. The fish-rich waters off the coast of our northernmost state was approved by Congress last month as one of its last acts. However, how quickly we forgot that those very waters of Bristol Bay were set aside and protected by the Congress in 1990 and re-opened in 2000 thanks to Alaska Senator Ted Stevens (R) "who argued that the area's oil and natural gas could be developed while still protecting the fisheries."

What are the effects of off-shore oil and gas drilling on fisheries, oceanlife and the water? For the purely academic version go here. For a more layman's explanation, go here. Regardless, should we be worried?

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Forest Consciousness

I sat in wonderment for over 2 hours on this website today. Granted its Saturday, so I had some time to waste, but it also speaks to the powerful images and music Forests Forever was able to pull together for an amazing experience into the consciousness of forests. You can visit over 10 different forest systems throughout the world. I highly recommend Waipoua, the Ural's Boreal Forest and the Amazon as your first visits.

Not only is the experience pleasing to the senses but it pleases the brain as well. At the end of each slide show, which is controlled by you the viewer, you can read about why each of these forests are so important to our global ecosystem and learn about their history.

Always a good reminder coming from such an urban setting of how necessary nature is in our lives.

Put the pie down and step back from the dessert table!

Apparently our law enforcement staffs have run out of dangerous people to arrest and apprehend and have turned their focus on to the frightening pie terrorist groups. AMERICAblog caught this story this morning....
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) -- A Canadian lawyer has been awarded more than C$10,000 ($8,550) in damages by a British Columbia court after he was falsely arrested and strip-searched over rumors he planned to throw a pie at the prime minister.

A judge ruled on Wednesday that police had no objective basis to believe that Cameron Ward planned a pie attack when he was arrested in a crowd that was watching then-Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien during a visit to Vancouver in August 2002.

"He was too far away and was not in possession of a pie," British Columbia Supreme Court Judge David Tysoe wrote in his ruling, which said that Ward's constitutional rights had been violated.

Nicely done, fellas. I hear cherry is the pie of the month so keep your eyes peeled.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Top 10 Eco-Neighborhoods

Just when you think you're community is the greenest of the green, some magazine has to come and ruin it for you by putting out "America's Best Eco-Neighborhoods" a list of towns and cities that have been chosen as having a particularly vibrant eco-neighborhod -- none of which include your humble, but eco-riffic, abode. I was distraught not to see my home city up on the list, but I guess there is always room for improvement.

Topping the list are Austin, TX and Asheville, NC, both of which have a bit of southern charm mixed in with a tint of green. An oddity about this list is that the cities are displayed in alphabetical order, which makes me wonder if the 1 through 10 listing is completely arbitrary and really what we are looking at are 10 cities that have some eco-strengths in certain pockets but aren't necessarily all that dedicated to sustainable development per se.

I noticed that Andersonville, IL, a suburb of Chicago, is also at a key decision point in their city's development. While many of these cities are presently on the green track or were founded by communities dedicated to improving the environment, the future contains some key questions and answers around where they will go and how they'll get there.

However some cities are also committing to more intensive strageties to deal with water pollution, air pollution, global warming and environmental degradation. The city of Denver has quite a plan to limit its greenhouse gas emissions and a mayor that appears ready to tackle the issue head-on. While Denver has other environmental issues it needs to worry about (like water availability in drought season), dealing with global warming on a local scale is key to solving the issue in a larger context.

If you're city didn't make the top ten, feel free to get involved in your community and see if it appears next year. Needless to say its a good start and highlighting who's doing what helps the rest of us.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

ExxonMobil Fumbles Integrity

In a not-so-shocking release today, the Union of Concerned Scientists stated that big-oil company ExxonMobil spent over $16 million in a coordinated effort to mislead the American public on the science behind global warming and climate change. UCS isn't the first group to make that claim. Back in September, Britain's Royal Society demanded that the oil company halt financial support of groups that purposely misrepresent the science of climate change. ExxonMobil didn't feel that this deserved a response until this:
"the company said in response to the Royal Society that it funded groups which research "significant policy issues and promote informed discussion on issues of direct relevance to the company." It said the groups do not speak for the company.

Notice how ExxonMobil immediately takes the conversation to a selfish perspective; doesn't global warming, a "significant policy issue," effect everyone who lives on the planet earth, and not just "the company?" I'm glad that they believe they're funding a "discussion" around the issue but what they forget is that there is no discussion to be had. The majority of the world's leading individual climatologists and scientists, organizations and government agencies support and defend the fact that human induced levels of CO2 in the atmosphere are causing climage change. What ExxonMobil wishes to do is to bring the issue out of certainty and into uncertainty cloaked in the idea that a community "discussion" (backed by corporate contributions) will give us a better or more honest answer.

Someday, these corporations will have the gaul to take responsibility for their impacts on our world and instead of shying away from leadership, embrace it, and tackle the problem.