The Watering Hole, Monday, May 12th, 2014: BREAKING into WIND power

Last week at the grocery store, I noticed a couple of men standing behind a table near the pharmacy section. They had some large tri-fold posters standing on the table, but, since my first view only encompassed the back of the posters, I didn’t know what they were pushing. I avoided them for a bit, but I had to pick up a prescription so I covertly checked them out from the safety (and better viewing angle) of the pharmacy counter. Once I realized that the posters showed wind turbines, my interest was piqued and, after I finished getting my prescription, I went directly over and said, “Hi, whatcha doing?”

The two men were from Green Mountain Energy, and the tall, bearded man named Gregory explained that they were offering NYSEG (New York State Electric & Gas) customers a choice to opt for electricity generated solely by wind power. New York State has a number of wind farms providing electricity for hundreds of thousands of customers, enough to offer an approximate $.02/killowatt-hour savings over traditional, multi-source electricity ($.089 versus $.11+.) However, even if it was the same price, just the idea that we would not get our electricity from oil, natural gas, coal, and other polluting sources made me feel that it would be worthwhile to switch. While New York State does produce hydroelectricity, the vast majority of our electricity comes from oil and natural gas. Ewww. Well, not anymore for us at least!

From Green Mountain Energy’s website:

In 2013, our customers had the largest annual impact ever, avoiding more than 6.1 billion pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2)! Over the past 15+ years, our customers collectively have avoided 30.6 billion pounds of CO2 by choosing cleaner electricity and carbon offset products. To put that into perspective, that’s like:

Taking 2.9 million cars off the road for a year
17.6 million households turning off their lights for a year
Planting 3.6 million trees

At first, of course, I hemmed and hawed about it, thinking that Wayne would be furious with me if I just blindly signed up and we got stuck in something we really didn’t want. Gregory assuaged that fear a bit by telling me that even if I signed up then and there, the contract would not be etched in stone. I was given a booklet about the company for us to review, along with Gregory’s phone number. We arranged to have him talk to Wayne, and, after a phone call the following day, a little research, and a visit back to the store to meet with Gregory, Wayne agreed to it. So we’re finally breaking into renewable energy sources.

Wayne and I have often said that, when we can eventually afford to have our roof fixed, we’ll go solar (our back yard is big enough and open enough to fit a small solar array, too.) But until then, I feel a little bit better about lessening our carbon footprint.

This is our daily open thread–what’s on YOUR mind today?

The Watering Hole Tuesday May 6, 2014 – Environmental News and Food Politics – Open Thread

Here is a sad statement about our last unexplored places:

“Most of the deep sea remains unexplored by humans, and these are our first visits to many of these sites, but we were shocked to find that our rubbish has got there before us.” stated one researcher from an international study team.

Trash before we get there.

Staying with our ocean theme, we seem to be slowly but steadily destroying the food chain, starting with the largest organisms first (think whales, tuna, sharks) and now right to the bottom of it, where acidification of the ocean melts the shells of tiny marine snails. Dare to dream of a fishless ocean.

Will fish farming be the only way to obtain seafood in the future?

And now for the good news: Vermont Legislature passes GMO labeling law, and the governor is expected to sign it.

Finally, a state with courageous politicians.

 

The Watering Hole; Friday April 25 2014; A Win for Biological Diversity

O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae monie a blunder free us,
an’ foolish notion
What airs in dress an’ gait wad lea’e us,
an’ ev’n devotion!
(Robert Burns from “To a Louse”)

Yesterday, I received this uplifting note from the Center for Biological Diversity (an environmental-and-wildlife-activist organization HQ’d in Tucson, Arizona):

Public Opposition Helps Defeat Arizona Wolf-kill Bills — Thank You

Mexican gray wolf After an outpouring of public opposition from Center  activists and others, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer this  week vetoed two anti-wolf bills, including one that  would have allowed ranchers to kill endangered  Mexican gray wolves on federal land, contrary to  federal law.

Thank you to all who answered our call to action against these bills, especially those who flooded Brewer’s office with phone calls this week.

There are just 37 Mexican gray wolves in the Arizona wild. This struggling population desperately needs protection to survive — and some state lawmakers are intent on making sure it doesn’t get that protection. We’re happy to see Brewer veto these disastrous bills, but we also know that wolf-haters in Arizona remain a potent force. We won’t relax our vigilance.

Read more about the Center’s long battle to save Mexican gray wolves from extinction.

Much as I detest AZ Governor Jan Brewer’s politics, I do give her credit for occasionally making the right and proper decision. I also maintain the hope, no matter how faint, that SOMEONE, or some agency, will act NOW to stymie the idiots in the state of Idaho (and elsewhere, of course) and thus prevent the entire wild wolf population there (and anywhere else, for that matter) from being completely wiped out . . . by idiots.

I know, I know, common sense is an alien notion amongst both idiots and wingnuts (assuming there’s any difference), but still, we of un-shriveled mind can dare to hope, right?

In that vein, remember the words spoken by Mitt Romney in advance of the 2012 elections? “Corporations are people, my friend,” he said in all seriousness. Gives me an idea: if corporations which are in no way definable as “people” can be legally designated as people, then why not also so-designate wolves, polar bears, eagles, dolphins, whales, coyotes, owls, puma, tortoises, butterflies . . . etc., et al., as “people”? Why can’t we insist the SCOTUS also legally grant wildlife all the protections that both idiots and corporations now enjoy?

Time for a vote. Choose A or B (in order of presentation below) as either “people” or “non-people” — I’ll forward your votes to the SCOTUS (If I can find their email somewhere).

Bundy

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Oh, and in the process of deciding said issue, maybe the Scotussians could also agree to define wingnuts as non-people, and then let the chips fall where they may? Now THAT would be a definite job-creator, one that prolly even the NRA might support!

I know. My bad (on rare occasion). Oh well. Clearly some critters deserve protection, some don’t. It’s so simple.

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole, Tuesday April 1, 2014 – Environmental News and Food Politics

April Fools!!!!!!!

 

Too tired to be clever, so I’ll leave that to others.

1. Time to Vege Up! Cut out the meat and the cheese if you want to save the world.  

“If agricultural emissions are not addressed, nitrous oxide from fields and methane from livestock may double by 2070. This alone would make meeting the climate target essentially impossible.”

2. Last week it was Chernobyl, this week Three Mile Island is celebrating an anniversary. I actually remember this one pretty well. Just met Cats and lived in Reading, PA, about 60 miles downwind of the disaster. Have we learned anything yet?

3. GMO labeling won’t go away. Food Democracy showing signs of resurgence in California, Colorado. Referenda – the people speak.

 

OPEN THREAD!

The Watering Hole; Friday March 21 2014; Monarch Roundup

Sometimes it only takes a simple one page email letter to tell it like it is. This one, from the Natural Resources Defense Council popped up in my inbox just yesterday, and it took me maybe thirty seconds to act, to add my name to the petition of protest.

Monarch butterflies are in crisis, and we must take immediate action to protect them!

Less than 20 years ago, an astounding 1 billion monarchs migrated to Mexico for the winter. This year, a mere fraction of that — just 33.5 million — made the journey.

Why? In large part it’s because industrial agriculture is killing off the native milkweed on which monarchs depend with a new generation of potent herbicides.

Tell the EPA to adopt tough new restrictions on the weed killers that are wiping out monarchs!

By placing commonsense limits on Big Ag’s rampant use of herbicides like glyphosate — marketed as Roundup by Monsanto — the EPA could dramatically increase the monarch’s chance for survival.

But the EPA is unlikely to do that unless it hears from hundreds of thousands of us!

Monarchs can’t live without milkweed — it is the only plant on which they lay their eggs.

What’s at stake here? One of the most astounding and extraordinary migrations on the planet — a true natural wonder.

Each year, as they have for countless generations, North American monarchs undertake an epic journey, flittering upwards of 3,000 miles across the U.S. and Canada to just a relative few wintering grounds, including Mexico’s Sierra Madre mountains.

But as industrial agriculture has ramped up its use of genetically engineered crops resistant to weed killers like glyphosate, it has also dramatically escalated its use of herbicides — and monarch populations have plunged.

This is the ninth year in a row that the population of monarchs wintering in Mexico has fallen below its long-term average, and this year it hit an all-time low.

Please tell EPA the time to act is now!

Thank you for joining NRDC at this critical moment in our fight to save the monarchs.

Sincerely,

Frances Beinecke
President
Natural Resources Defense Council 

So: a common agricultural herbicide (Monsanto’s Roundup) is very likely a major player in the apparently impending destruction/extinction of the Monarch Butterfly. Good old Monsanto. From herbicides to pesticides to genetically modified seeds, the destruction of the biosphere continues unabated . . . because there’s a lot of money in it. And nothing else matters, dontcha know.

I do hope that everyone who reads this will (a) sign the petition, and (b) spread the word far and wide. It’s time that we find the means to destroy something other than butterflies. As for Monsanto? — great place to begin the undoubtedly interminable process of destroying the destroyers. Gotta start somewhere, though.

0718-Butterfly and shadow on sunflowers

OPEN THREAD

 

The Watering Hole, Monday, March 3rd, 2014: Who Are You Gonna Believe?

On Saturday morning, I was visited again by my (in my opinion as one who had barely woken up) way-too-perky Jehovah’s Witness ‘friend’ from previous visits. (I’m sincerely sorry that I cannot remember her name.) After a fairly brief chat, I was given some new leaflets. The Witness had picked these out particularly for me, based on our last discussion during which I had professed my belief in science vs religion. The leaflet that I decided to start with is entitled “Was Life Created?” An excerpt from the introductory page, prefaced by the question “What do you believe?”:

“Many religious fundamentalists believe that the earth and everything on it was created in six 24-hour days, just a few thousand years ago. Some atheists would have you believe that God does not exist, that the Bible is a book of myths, and that all life is the product of random undirected events.”

Now, right there, I have issues with the statement about atheists: first, note the difference in the wording between the two sentences, i.e., “Many religious fundamentalists believe…” as opposed to “Some atheists would have you believe…” The implications that a) the beliefs of religious fundamentalists/literal Creationists are somehow more valid and earn more respect than the beliefs/non-beliefs of atheists, and b) that atheists want to force people to abandon their religion (whatever flavor it is) seem pretty obvious to me. This inference is made again a little further down the intro page, under the heading, “What is the purpose of this brochure?”:

“It is not the purpose of this material to ridicule the views either of fundamentalists or of those who choose not to believe in God.”

Again, carefully worded, “those who choose not to believe in God”, as if we picked the wrong side, or refused to join their club. They won’t “ridicule the views…of fundamentalists” (even though elsewhere in the introduction it states that religious fundamentalism and atheism are considered to be “opposing ideas”) simply because the fundamentalists believe in a god and his bible. And obviously, by “God” they mean only the god of the Old or New Testament, not the Muslim’s Prophet or any of the other major non-Christian religions of the world.

The intro wraps up with:

“Will you trust the claims of those who say that there is no intelligent Creator and that the Bible is unreliable? [YES!] Or will you examine what the Bible actually says? Which teachings are worthy of your trust, your faith: those of the Bible or those of evolutionists? Why not review the facts?”

The “facts” that are subsequently presented to advance the “intelligent Creator” argument are, oddly enough, all discovered through scientific research: how the planet Earth is in the ideal location to sustain life [sure, life as WE carbon-based oxygen-breathing life forms know it]; how the Earth’s tilt is just right, along with the planet’s speeds of rotation and orbit, to create the ‘ideal’ for human habitation: four seasons and 24-hour days. Also presented as “evidence” of an intelligent Creator are the size of our moon and its distance from the Earth [and here the JWs make Bill O’Reilly look like the idiot that he is, by mentioning that the planet’s tides are affected by the moon); along with the laws of nature and science, i.e., the cycle of precipitation, photosynthesis, your basic Earth Science curriculum, and the multitude of species of animals. All of these scientific laws are indication to the JW’s that a divine hand was involved.

If, as believers such as the JWs think, humans were made in god’s image, I think that that god has a lot of explaining to do. Humans are the only species that is capable of completely ruining the beauty and wonder of our planet’s unique ecosystems, as well as our own sources of food and water. What god would make a species such as ours?

Instead of (and possibly in answer to) the question being “What do you believe?”, I believe that the question should be “What do you KNOW?”

This is our daily open thread–feel free to air your thoughts on, well, anything, including but not limited to Jehovah’s Witnesses (or any other religious group), etc.