Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Future is Now: When Less IS More

George Marshall's article: Back to the Future: When Less Was More is set in England, yet contains remarkable parallels with the way I grew up and continue to live today.

I fondly remember growing up in a large two-story house in Broken Bow, Nebraska, where life centered around the Beast in the dining room, a large metal grate covering the huge gas furnace in the basement, that was originally coal-fired, then converted to natural gas. I ranged my toy cowboys, horses and Indians in what had been the coal bin in the basement, now converted with paint and carpeting into a cozy play room by the furnace.

There was no heat forced into the other rooms of the house. The upstairs bedrooms, including the one sheltering the bunk bed my brother and I shared, were heated by small metal grates set into the floor that let the heat from the Beast waft naturally upward into our room. Many winter nights my brother and I lay on the wood floor with our ears glued to the grate, listening to our parents and Grandparents talk about mysterious adult subjects in the room below, while the wind piled the snow in deep drifts outside. When Mom heard our giggles and yelled up at us through the grate to go to bed, our flannel sheets were always icy cold, and we curled up in fetal positions to keep our toes warm. No TeeVees or other electronic appliances in our rooms. The height of my audio-visual experience was my Boy Scout flashlight under the covers that allowed me to read Jim Kjelgaard's Irish Red books until I fell asleep.

Better yet was to come in out of the cold and take off my wet wool clothes standing on the huge grate over the Beast, the very warmest place in the house. I can still feel the little metal squares pressing into my sock feet.

Somehow our family of four kids made it through each winter warm and healthy, despite the lack of central heating, 24 hour TeeVee (remember the test pattern?), and all manner of electronic distractions. We had time for thought, personal introspection, experimentation and a well developed sense of our Self.

My wife and I now live in an 800 square foot home with only a wood stove for heat in the winter and only cooling breezes through open windows for cooling in the summer. The wood stove creates a welcome island of warmth between living room and kitchen. We can't walk by it without stepping over and holding out our hands to glowing fire within. It's the warm, cozy center of our room.

The Central Heating Generation is coming into power on waves of electronic gym-crackery. I shudder to think what it will be like when the whole world is centrally heated.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Holly Days



With all that is happening in the world these days, it's good to sit back, relax, think of family and friends... and project those good feelings into the future.

If I had but one wish before the end of my life, it would be peace for every living thing, everywhere on this Earth.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

If Weather is not Climate... What is it?

George Monbiot's article: Cold Burn requires a more careful response than "Oh yeah? Is everything caused by global warming?"

In short, Monbiot's article makes the claim that recent cold and snowy weather in the UK and elsewhere is due to warming in the Arctic due to reduced Arctic ice causing the ocean to absorb more heat from the sun, forcing Arctic cold further south. Therefore, severe winters are caused by global warming.

The errors in this in this conclusion are as semantic as they are scientific.

First of all, from the Niggling Small Details Department, the ocean doesn't absorb heat from the sun. Heat does not travel from the sun to the earth. Energy travels from the sun and is transformed to heat by being absorbed in the atmosphere, land and ocean.

Secondly, and more importantly, the Earth is in a cooling phase at the moment (see Akasofu, 2010 Natural Science at http://www.scirp.org/journal/NS/) and is likely to remain so for the next 20 years or so. What Monbiot is referring to is regional warming, not global warming, which is far more important in terms of yearly weather patterns, aka, the white stuff we shovel off our front walk.

As one might expect, it turns out there is more to this story than meets the UK journalist's computer keys. "Everyone" knows that the Arctic is warming faster than the rest of the Earth, right? NASA says it, James Hanson says it, Monbiot says it.

How do we know this to be true? Who is doing the measuring?

Well, lots of people actually, and one is no surprised to learn that they don't all agree.

There are several databases of global temperature records. The above mentioned NASA and James Hanson have one called GISS. HADCRUT is the database for the Hadley Centre of the Met Office and the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia, of email fame.

Guess what? They don't agree.

It seems that the GISS database has been manipulated to fill in Arctic and Antarctic temperature records with those from land data sources, while HADCRUT reports only the records from their true sources.

And guess what? GISS reports 3 degrees C warming in the Arctic and HADCRUT reports 2 degrees cooling. Who you gonna believe?

From many winters I spent in the Arctic screwing trees, I learned (at least) one thing: winter temperatures vary wildly from place to place, from hill top to river valley, from land to ocean, from snow to ice. When I rode my bicycle eight miles to work in Fairbanks, the temperature would vary from 20 below zero at home, to 40 below zero as I rode through the river valley, back up to 20 below zero on the hill top overlooking the valley.

Computer manipulation of Arctic temperature records results in an electronic version of Arctic climate variation that bears little relationship to that experienced by the Inuit who live there.

The "Climate Change causes cold air to move south" scenario is a cartoonish attempt to bolster reputations built on global warming alarmism based on a speculation feedback loop forcing the global climate modeling industry.

Weather is not climate, regional climate variation is not global climate change, climate change is not Anthropogenic Global Warming.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Just in time for Christmas...


BBC News - Troops back armoured underwear dubbed 'combat codpiece'

From the "News Mirrors Fiction Department," albeit camouflaged and packaged in an elegant retractable model, combat fashion revives the ancient and venerable cod piece.

After all, what good does it do to conquer new territories if our returning troops can't father a new Baby Boom generation of consumers?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Someone at NASA is paying attention

In an article on the NASA web site: What are the primary forcings of the Earth system? - NASA Science, the unattributed author states:

"According to scientists' models of Earth's orbit and orientation toward the Sun indicate that our world should be just beginning to enter a new period of cooling -- perhaps the next ice age."


This chart from NOAA (click to enlarge) shows temperature cycles during past glaciations. We're over on the right.




This chart by Tom Ruen illustrates global CO2 levels over the Pleistocene.

There's no causal relationship demonstrated by these graphs, just correlation. The important point is this pattern was active long before humans started producing greenhouse gases. This is a natural pattern of global climate change that humans cannot modify.

Don't get rid of your long johns just yet!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Climate Science - 97% consensus?

There are a couple of important papers available on the web recently.

We've all heard the oft-repeated claim that "97% of climate scientists believe in anthroponic global warming," referring to human CO2 production as responsible for increasing average global surface temperature, and, therefore, we can "stop global warming" by reducing human CO2 output.

In Climate Consensus Opiate, the 97% Solution, Dennis Ambler lays to rest the myth with an examination of the survey that started the consensus rumor. Hint: it's really .73% of climate scientists!

Questioning the very idea of unprecedented increases in average global surface temperatures, McKitrick and Michaels, JGR 2007 demonstrates that temperature records really are skewed by the Urban Heat Island Effect, such that temperature increases are at least half what is claimed by global warming enthusiasts, placing present temperatures firmly within the range of normal global temperature variation.

No climate deniers here, just well documented and accessible science.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Why we love a good Apocalypse

In The Climate Apocalypse Industry, Doug L. Hoffman reveals how we love to contemplate The End that is Near, and how Gloom and Doom is good for business.

At least it's better than the Military-Industrial Complex!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

If we can't do it at home...


...let's try it out on our subjects abroad. With No Oversight, US Army Amasses Biometric Data in Afghanistan | CommonDreams.org reveals that the US military is employing biometric data gathering to build a database of identifying information about Afghanistan citizens, for the Afghan government.

Barred from deploying such technology in the "Homeland," the United States government is perfecting the technology and procedures in occupied Afghanistan. US soldiers are busy recording iris patterns and fingerprints of goat herders, bakers, women and children, amounting to hundreds of thousands of records to be handed over to the Kabul government.

Practice?

How long will it take before the technology comes home to roost on the streets of the United States? How soon will "Papers, pliss?" be replaced with the Voight-Kampff machine of our Blade Runner nightmares?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

California Coastal Commission Waffles


Unfortunately, we have learned that the California Coastal Commission process is cooked in favor of developers. (See article here) Any developer can resubmit a project every six months until a mix of Commissioners is sitting who can be convinced to approve it. All it takes is buckets of money, political influence and patience.

This is why development projects have been approved in Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Areas in the past. The Coastal Commission does not prevent development in sensitive coastal habitat, it regulates such development.

That being said, we do not roll over and accept this. We will communicate our objections to this special consideration for the City, which has already received one extension on the project from the Commissioners. How far does the Coastal Commission have to bend over backwards for the City of Santa Cruz?

When the City resubmits its application, we will be there, personally, no matter where the hearing takes place, to register our disapproval and lobby for a true Master Plan that does not violate the California Coastal Act and does not diminish critical habitat for the Santa Cruz tarplant, the Tidwater Goby and Steelhead Trout, and all other species that call Arana Gulch Home.

No Compromise!

Michael

Monday, October 11, 2010

Friends of Arana Gulch Reacts to Commission Staff Report


Friends of Arana Gulch Reacts to California Coastal Commission Staff Report

On October 14, the California Coastal Commission meets to consider the application by the City of Santa Cruz for approval of the Arana Gulch Master Plan, which contains the Broadway-Brommer Bicycle-Pedestrian Connection project, a 8 foot wide, paved, Class 1 bike route to be built through critical habitat for the endangered Santa Cruz tarplant.

Although the Conditions of Approval by Coastal Commission staff are quite strict and mean it may be years before the City can build its transportation project through Arana Gulch greenbelt, we are once again appalled that staff has recommended approval of a project that violates Sec. 30240 of the Coastal Act.

It is unfortunate that years ago the City deliberately insisted on incorporating its Broadway-Brommer project into an otherwise well-conceived Master Plan. In stubbornly ignoring Coastal Commission staff's January 2000 recommendation, that it do the Master Plan first and then return with a specific project, the City thumbed its nose at staff and basically declared a show down with the Coastal Commission, daring it to vote against a Master Plan for a greenbelt. The City deliberately confused the issue and the hearing in March is proof positive, with all discussion about Broadway-Brommer and little about the basic goals of managing a remnant of California's unique coastal terrace prairie.

Worse, the City has consistently lied to the CC by saying that Broadway-Brommer funding was needed to recover the endangered tarplant. All documentation proves otherwise, that tarplant recovery and management is, in no way, tied to Broadway-Brommer. But who listens to facts these days?

Paving the Broadway-Brommer bicycle route through an Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Area (ESHA) is so 1980s. How much pavement are we going to rationalize for recreation for humans at the expense of the living soil? This is the U.N. Year of Biodiversity and some still act as though we can go on forever ignoring the folly of more pavement and less natural habitat.

Could the City have designed real interpretive trails in Arana Gulch, enhanced for visitors of all capabilities? Yes, if it had wanted to do so. Instead the City re-branded its transportation project, which must pass through Arana Gulch, as an interpretive trail and pasted on some signage, like dressing it up for Halloween. No matter how the City disguises the wide, paved, bicycle commuter route, to this day it derives its funding from the County Regional Transportation Commission and will be built by the Public Works Department. Transportation. Public Works.

We can only hope that at this month's hearing the Coastal Commissioners enforce the law of the land and vote to deny approval of a transportation plan through an ESHA and suggest that the City return to it with a Master Plan that it can easily approve, under the law.

If you live in California, this directly affects your coast, your Coastal Commission and your Coastal Act. Go to the Friends of Arana Gulch website, HERE, for contact information on how you can comment on this important Coastal Commission decision.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Obscene War Pictures


The Beeb hired a fashion photographer to produce this photo essay BBC News - Today - David Bailey's Bastion of the obscenity of war.

This is what happens when war becomes fashionable.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Thought Police: Twas ever thus!

Lydia Howell points out in Is Progressive Dissent Public Enemy #1? | CommonDreams.org that the Thought Police are once again engaged in their favorite sport of obstructing the course of free speech in that bastion of freedom and liberty, the United States of America.

Nothing new here. The government constabulary and their hired thugs have always been used to neutralize those who dare to oppose the status quo and point out the inequities of the corporate oligarchy.

Meanwhile, the lies and obfuscation emanate from the hallowed halls of Washington. The New Hope President continues to provide Old Despair. The invasion and occupation of Iraq has expanded into the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, and now Pakistan. Mission Creep seeps under the doors of the White House as the First Creep gives in to Pentagon demands for totalitarian control of all of the Middle East. The Corporate Oligarchy is firmly in control of the seating arrangements in House and Senate chambers. Now with Corporate Personhood firmly in their clutches, there is no limit to fascist control of the United States government.

History may not exactly repeat itself, but it often rhymes.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Get some Goats!

This article in the Santa Cruz Sentinel Pasatiempo launches Operation Landscape Goat to help with restoration work details how the smart folks at the Pasatiempo Golf Club are employing goats to help remove out of control invasive species at the edges of the golf course.

There's a lesson here for Santa Cruz City Fathers and Mothers - no need to deploy an industrial scale cattle operation to remove invasive grasses from the Arana Gulch greenbelt, grasses that are retarding the livelihood of the endangered Santa Cruz tarplant. Just import a herd of goats and their canine protectors. No need for fences and fence posts strung across critical habitat. All the goats need is a portable solar powered electric fence to keep them corralled and attentive to their gustatory duties.

Here's a lesson for both the City of Santa Cruz and the California Coastal Commission: Less impact to fragile coastal habitats, and the goats provide fertilizer to boot.

Besides, they're kinda cute!

One Nation, Under Surveillance

Although the Surveillance State is nothing new, as pointed out in Surveillance, America’s Pastime | CommonDreams.org, it has reached new heights in this age of computer monitoring, street corner video cameras with face recognition software and government agencies infiltrating protest groups at the slightest whim. It's so easy to keep track of targeted individuals and groups, it hardly needs a court order to implement. Spy first, then ask forgiveness.

The big advance in the surveillance industry nowadays is... the fascist surveillance industry. It's no longer necessary to cry "national security" in a crowded protest meeting. Corporate expediency will do just fine as protests against corporate pollution and eco-rapers are sufficient justification for computer monitoring, infiltration and proscriptive incarceration. The greedy desires of Corporate America come first. What's good for Monsanto is good for America.

An America under the constant gaze of Big Brother is no democracy. Citizens in fear of speaking or acting out can never be fully informed participants in their own government. Citizens under the thumb of Big Business can never make intelligent decisions about how their consumption affects the world they live in and depend on for their own lives and well being.

There is only one response to such overt fascist oppression: Unplug the Global Economy. Stop consuming. Stop driving. Grow your own. Fix it yourself. Make do with what you have. Do without. Make it last. Make it local.

Take care of yourself and your own and withdraw from the corporate madness making a graveyard of the globe. Build local community with decision making and political power spread among all community members. Give up no power to any central authority.

There are 300 million people and counting in this country. Even with all their electronic jiggery-pokery, they can't watch each and every one of us all the time, especially if we reject their eye candy and glittering honey traps.

Citizens of America unite. You have nothing to lose but your toys!

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Free All Captive Wild Animals

This article:
A Fate Worse Than Death | CommonDreams.org details just one egregious example of the cynical abuse of wild and domesticated animals for economic gain and base entertainment. There are no noble goals here for educating people about wild animals. This is solely for pecuniary gain, managed by investment companies for maximum return.





Not that abusing animals for economic gain is any worse than abusing animals for entertainment. Both are disgusting violations of basic principles of dignity and respect for all life. Human rights are merely a specific extension of our basic relationship with all living things. We can never achieve full human rights until we first embrace the right of all living things to freedom from human exploitation.

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated,” Mohandas K. Gandhi

Friday, October 01, 2010

WUWT and Climate Change Analysis

Anthony Watts has maintained a blog on Climate Change, What's Up With That? that I've enjoyed for some time. He not only presents good science analysis, of his own and his guest bloggers, but also maintains a light touch. Sometimes a bit too light, I think, obscuring the data and analysis in popular rhetoric.

However, this article: AMO PDO= temperature variation – one graph says it all | Watts Up With That? is bang on!

In my other life as an archaeologist, I worked with dendrochronological time series a great deal, attempting to sift prehistoric climate change data out of tree rings from drift wood and archaeological wood around the Bering Strait and the Yukon River. My experience with these statistical analyses matched Anthony warnings about the limitations of time series smoothing and the dangers of using smoothed data as inputs in further analysis.

Smoothing data introduces intentional error into the datatset, with the expectation that the simplified dataset will more clearly reveal meaningful underlying patterns. In dendrochronology, we seek to eliminate the normal growth curves of different tree species in order to reveal the climate influenced growth variations.

It's important to keep in mind that a smoothed dataset is not real and cannot be used for further data manipulation. Each iteration of data analysis must begin with the raw data, and analysed with an increasingly complex set of parameters in order to achieve more complex flights of analysis. When a smoothed dataset is statistically manipulated, all manner of artifacts and false patterns can be introduced into the results, which cannot be distinguished from "real" outcomes.

I see the same types of results occurring in climate data that I witnessed in over manipulated tree ring data in dendroclimatology.

In statistics, as in all walks of life the KISS admonition applies: Keep It Simple, Stupid!

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Lesson For City Managers


In Santa Clarita, lines are being drawn over management of the city's public libraries, with a proposal to turn over the book shelves to a private corporation.

Citizens are concerned, as they should be, at this assault on a cherished American tradition, the free public library. While a public library could never be run for a profit, public concerns center on the concept as much as the reality. When the bottom line is economics, idealism most often takes a back seat.

However, the problem that the city seeks to solve is not the cost of books and shelving, but pensions demanded by union library employees. As with all cities, Santa Clarita is crushed under the load of exorbitant pensions drawn by retired employees that exceed the salaries of most working people. City management is drowning in pension payments, committing future budgets to expenses to those who no longer work for city government or the people.

Perhaps the threat of privatized libraries will instill a sense of proportion in the hearts of city managers, themselves just itching for the day their own pension starts.

Does city government serve the residents or the small minority of elite employees standing in line for life-long handouts?

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Reality creeps in on little cats feet


What collapsing empire looks like - Glenn Greenwald - Salon.com








This is a good article on the continuing decline of the US economy and culture, as a result of unbridled US imperialism.

When the ship of state is on the rocks, leaking money at trillions of dollars a year, someone gets left out. And it won't be the economic and power elite.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Arana Gulch Breathes Sigh of Relief

















Arana Gulch plan faces another delay: Coastal Commission staff needs more time to study city's changes


On Monday, Friends of Arana Gulch asked the California Coastal Commission staff what the hurry was in getting the City of Santa Cruz Proposal for the Arana Gulch Master Plan (plus the vampirish Broadway-Brommer Bicycle Path Connection) before the California Coastal Commission. Commission local staff had just received the latest proposal while half of the staff (of two) was on vacation. We presented a resolution for the Conflict, suggesting that the City should withdraw its proposal and resubmit later, without the environmentally destructive Bike road plan.

Today, local Coastal Commission staff announced that they had insufficient time to prepare their Staff Report before the August 11 meeting in San Luis Obispo, and the application by the City of Santa Cruz is postponed, for an undisclosed length of time.

Stay tuned to this blog and the Friends of Arana Gulch web site for updates.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Is this the new fire of fascism?




...or a flash in the pan?


In this Mother Jones' blog: The Tea Party's March Madness Stephanie Mencimer reveals the continuing saga of the Tea Party movement, now fragmented from its monolithic appearance last year on the Washington DC Mall. The single movement appears to have dissolved into bickering factions, each vying for transcendence on the political scene.

Though the specifics have changed, the general rhetoric remains the same, echoing Umberto Eco's prescient essay, Eternal Fascism, in which he details fourteen characteristics of fascist societies.

Even in "mainstream" politics, if there is such a thing these days, radical talk abounds. Tennessee gubernatorial candidate, Rep. Zach Wamp calls for secession, saying:

"I hope that the American people will go to the ballot box in 2010 and 2012 so that states are not forced to consider separation from this government."

If the Republican Party is somehow able to get over its puppy-love with Sarah Palin and find a direction again, this might be the tide Progressives find themselves swimming against in the next election cycle.

It used to be easier to recognize fascism when it moved into the neighborhood. Jack boots, brown shirts, truncheons, and massed martial demonstrations were hard to miss. But today it's harder to separate the flag waving housewife and the Revolutionary War costumed reenactor from the hardened right-wing fascist revolutionary.

When do we draw the line?

"When and if fascism comes to America, it will not be labeled 'Made in Germany;' it will not be marked with a swastika; it will not even be called fascism; it will be called, of course, Americanism." Professor Halford E. Luccock, Yale Divinity School, New York Times, September 12, 1938, page 15. (Thanks to Shii, for tracking this down.)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Corporatization of Public Information

The Chicago Field Museum has a new temporary: Climate Change Exhibit


Sponsored by Exelon Corporation, Motorola Foundation, HSBC - North America, Jones Lang LaSalle, and
Whole Foods Market. Additional support by Nalco.





The exhibit concentrates on speculative negative effects of increasing atmospheric CO2 concentration, such as increased growth and virulence of poison ivy, then uses scare tactics and message manipulation to encourage the audience, specifically children to take action to stop Global Warming.

From the Field Museum Climate Change exhibit web site:
"You'll see how the resulting changes affect our planet, causing sea levels to rise, increasing drought and storms, damaging habitats for wildlife, and stressing human societies around the globe.

But all is not lost, the exhibition also poses solutions, illustrating how we can move away from dependence on fossil fuels toward new energy technologies, including solar, wind, nuclear, and other power sources."

The second paragraph illustrates the purpose of the exhibit, to create fear of climate change and to encourage people, especially children, to think of climate change as solely human caused and subject to human manipulation. Visitors to the exhibit are shown solutions to climate change provided by technology, particularly that technology coincidentally provided by these sponsoring corporations:

Exelon Corporation is one of the world's largest producers of nuclear energy, wind farms and other "green" energy projects.

Motorola Foundation, who bring you Motorola cell phones and the multi-billion dollar cell phone industry distracting and confusing billions worldwide.

HSBC, the world's largest banking and financial services group and the world's 8th largest company.

Jones Lang LaSalle is a Chicago based international property investment and management group.

Whole Foods Market is an international "natural" food products company.

Nalco is the supplier of dispersants used on the Gulf oil leak, and has had ongoing ties to Exxon. Daniel S. Sanders, who previously was president of Exxon/Mobil Chemical Company, a subsidiary of Exxon Mobil, serves on the company board of directors. (BusinessWeek, Nalco Holdings profile)

This Climate Change exhibit is a blatant and cynical attempt by these corporations to frame public awareness of climate change away from the science of climate variation and into the political and economic arenas where they exert greater influence.

This distortion of public information by private for-profit corporations is destructive to democracy and the process of public decision-making. Such manipulation of public information is the root cause of much of human impact on the world environments. Even worse, such self-serving propaganda obscures future meaningful solutions.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Putting things in perspective


From: Full damage from BP oil spill is not yet known – but US may have been lucky | Environment | The Guardian

"In the 85 days of the leak, the worst accidental spillage in history, nearly 184m gallons of crude oil are estimated to have gushed into the Gulf of Mexico, the ninth largest body of water in the world. That is a lot, but no more than Americans burn every five hours and 10 minutes."

Friday, June 25, 2010

Anarchy Without Anarchists

In the wake of May Day vandalism and property destruction in downtown Santa Cruz, blamed on unnamed "anarchists," the real anarchist community held a meeting last night to discuss the meaning of anarchism and anarchy and our reasons for pursuing this particular sociopolitical pathway.

It was a good meeting, even prompting a sympathetic article in the semi-local newspaper: Anarchists seek to demystify anarchy A panel made up of representatives of at least four trends in anarchism: cooperative local, mutual aid; queer individualism; anti-authoritarian confrontation; and anarcho-syndicalist self-organization.

John Malkin of Santa Cruz, host of a weekly radio program on music, art, spirituality, anarchy and compassion on Free Radio Santa Cruz spoke on, well, music, art, spirituality, anarchy and compassion and his work organizing here in Santa Cruz. Here's an interview on John:

Barry Pateman gave a rousing talk about his upbringing in a mining town in Yorkshire. When the miners went on strike they took care of their own, not because of any Marxist, Anarchist of other "-ist" teachings, but because it was the right and only thing to do. Mutual aid.

As for the other speakers, advocacy for gender diversity has nothing to do with anarchy. Nor do I support violence against anyone, including police and military, as a valid anarchist strategy. The best way to deal with the constabulary is non-cooperation and right livelihood. If we confront their authority, we give legitimacy to their power. Best to ignore them, take care of our own, and let them wither away through disuse.

The bookend introductory speeches were so good, we didn't stay for the Q & A. It was obvious that anarchy is in good hands in Santa Cruz, called by any name. Barry said it well:

"Anarchy will come, even without anarchists."

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Trust us! We promise we'll be careful this time.


Gulf Disaster Raises Alarms about Alberta to Texas Pipeline

Where have we heard these promises before. Can you say "Exxon Valdex oil spill?"

When the oil maggots wanted oh so badly to build a pipeline from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez and ship oil across the stormiest ocean in the world, this is what we heard:

'We have a very safe system.'

"You're lucky and you don't even know it. You have Exxon."

"The Trans-Alaska Pipeline will be a state-of-the-art system, the very best technology." Sadly, they were right.

You can always tell when a CEO is going to lie. He opens his mouth.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Spreading Democracy in the Middle East


Knesset goes wild over Zoabi

"Fantastic doctrines (like Christianity or Islam or Marxism) require unanimity of belief. One dissenter casts doubt on the creed of millions. Thus the fear and the hate; thus the torture chamber, the iron stake, the gallows, the labor camp, the psychiatric ward." Ed Abbey

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Monday, May 17, 2010

Getting serious about oil dependency

I.H.T. Special Report - Energy - Oversight on Offshore Drilling May Change, but U.S. Dependence on Oil Won't - NYTimes.com

The only thing that will bring about a decreased reliance on oil is to make it so expensive that we'll find other ways of conducting our lives than driving around in personal, oil fired automobiles.

Put a massive carbon tax on oil, to pay for restoring the environment damaged by drilling for oil, and to wean the American public off of oil consumption. When oil is $10 a gallon, we'll get serious about restructuring our towns and cities for walking and bicycling. We'll stop consuming so much cheap plastic crap. We'll develop local economies based on local production for local consumption.

Make it expensive, make it dear, make the people think hard every time they fill that tank with ocean killing petroleum.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Pulling hairs over oil

Many stories about People giving hair off their heads for oil cleanup these days.

It was much the same during the Exxon Valdez oil spill. There were a dozen new schemes every day to clean up the oil, none of which worked very well. We received semi-loads of terry cloth towels for cleaning otters and birds. After the spill, there were no towels purchased in Alaska for over ten years.

Once the oil is out of the bottle, there's no cleaning it up. No amount of hair, human or canid, will ever clean up all the oil. All we'll have is tons of oily hair that will have to be disposed of.

What we found in Valdez is that people who see this from a distance feel a need to do something about it, anything, even if it doesn't make any difference. It's the doing of it that's important.

Now if we could just get them to understand that everyone has a hand in causing these oil spills. Every time we start our cars, eat our fertilized foods transported thousands of miles, fly in our airplanes, heat our homes, we drive the energy industry that destroys habitat, pollutes the shoreline, the air and the water. The fires of the gulf drilling platform were lit in the cylinders of millions of cars, in the furnaces of millions of homes everywhere.

In order to stop the spills we must stop drilling, transporting and consuming oil. This will come, in its own time, but not until much more damage has been done.

Let's strive for energy independence. We can grow all the horses we need right here.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Building a new society from the Earth up


Building a new, "sustainable" human society means fundamentally changing the way we do everything. This article: The Economics of Organic Farming discusses the economic advantages of local organic farming, reducing transportation costs for quality, nutritious food for local residents.

Organic farming is a philosophy of life, as well as as an economic approach.

"Traditional" farming seeks to eliminate all competition to the production of food for human consumption, using chemical pesticides and herbicides to kill any organisms that might reduce absolute production of human nurtured and engineered plants and animals.

Organic farming recognizes that plants and animals desired for human food are an integral part of the web of life. Attempting to isolate human food from all other life forms results in food with less nutritional value for humans, as well as destroying the living soil and the delicate ecological relationships among all living things.

Organic farming is not only the basis for a local economy. It also serves as the philosophical basis for a local human society, living in close harmony with all of life, human and non-human.

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated”. Mahatma Gandhi

Thursday, April 29, 2010

If you drill it, it will spill


Officials: Leaks Spewing More Oil Into Gulf

Just as the Exxon Valdez oil spill put a stop to attempts to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the explosion and leak at the off-shore well in the Gulf of Mexico will stop Obama administration efforts to revive off-shore drilling.

We have said this all along, since the disastrous oil leak off Santa Barbara, that off-shore drilling will result in unmitigatable oil spills, and that the results will be massive environmental damage.

Continuous reassurances from oil executives belied the lobbying behind the scenes to reduce regulations on off-shore drilling, just as the Alyeska consortium reduced oversight of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline and the oil tanker fleet in the 80s in Alaska.

Whenever there are billions of dollars of profit to be made, corners will be cut, politicians will be bribed, safety measures ignored and the public continuously duped into thinking that all is well.

None of the trillions of dollars of profit extorted by the oil industry can put the oil back in the ground beneath the Gulf of Mexico. The damage is done, and increasing every minute.

The only way to prevent massive oil spills is to leave the oil in the ground where it belongs.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Glimmerings of Democracy and Environmental Action


The Open Veins of Climate Change

A New Climate Movement in Bolivia

Whether or not human activity influences climate change to any measurable degree, the movement toward democracy and environmental action in Bolivia is encouraging. They have correctly identified the source of global pollution and greenhouse gases in corporate industrial capitalism and they have recognized that democracy is the response to confront the capitalist totalitarian state.

Those of us in the United States concerned with such things could do worse than joining our brothers and sisters in resistance!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day Suffers from Gang-Green


Reclaiming Earth Day, an excellent essay by Brian Tokar, ecosocialist and long-time critic of corporate domination of the Green movement.

In 2000, I was shocked to attend a Sierra Club meeting to find that, while my back was turned, the organization had become top-down, centralized and corporatized. That's what I get for not paying attention. It's happened to all the Big Greens, who have adopted the corporate model for their internal organization, so they can get big bucks from Big Business to do the Big Work.

So they say.

Nature doesn't know compromise, only loss. When Green organizations go to bed with Big Business, the resulting offspring is Big and no longer Green. Ecowarriors have become ecowhores, chasing the dollar, ignoring the fact that the bottom line for corporations is profit for shareholders and they'll do anything to get it.

Anything.

Fortunately, there are many principled environmentalists among us still working at the grass roots, using the few dregs of environmental laws that still have some teeth in them.

"Never doubt that a small dedicated group of people can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead

Monday, April 19, 2010

Economic growth is the Problem, Not the Cure



European Activists Against Economic Growth

Europe has suffered under unbridled capitalism far longer than the United States. Here's what they've learned:

"…degrowth emerges as the only economically viable formula, not just in benefit of nature but also "to restore a minimum of social justice, without which the world is condemned to destruction."

Here in the United States, the growth maniacs are still in control, and economic growth is the elephant in the living room. And it's billed as the main attraction, the only attraction. Stand up in a city council meeting anywhere in the country and question the concept of economic growth and count the uncomprehending stares. You'll be branded as a crank, as unrealistic, as an idealist.

Growth is the water that our economy swims in. We can't see it and we can't know that it is drowning us.

Coming to Grips with a Finite World

Bolivia Climate Change Talks to Give Poor a Voice
Indigenous peoples gather in public talks in Cochabamba to deal with the effects of economic colonialism, disguised as Climate Change.

Meanwhile:

Governments Starting to Worry About Peak Oil
Oil Company executives and government officials gather in secret to figure out how to profit from Peak Oil.

This is the way we accommodate Reality

This beautiful essay Ash Cloud’s Silver Lining Is Leisure Time demonstrates how we (that is, ordinary people other than economists and oil company executives) accommodate day to day reality, and make the best of it.

Despite popular impressions, humans strive for stability, humanity, family and community. Ultra-consumers are highly visible and loudly touted in the media, because the media is supported by the capitalist status quo that thrives on continued economic growth fueled by hyper-consumerism.

Notice how 9/11 and the recent Icelandic volcanic ash cloud resulted in thousands of people released from obligations to rush about in mad consumption, gave them an excuse to relax, read a book, smell the flowers, interact with the neighborhood.

Deep down, we're all family folks, communitarians, true socialists all.

I think it's neckties that do it, choking off blood supplies to the heads of corporate executives and government lackies. Maybe a ban on neckties would release a flood of creative energy, revive our neighborhoods, clear the skies and, once and for all, drive a spike in the hearts of growth maniacs everywhere.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Coming to the wrong conclusions about Peak Oil


This article from Australia Demand for oil to outstrip supply within two years conflates Peak Oil with energy demand, assuming that Peak Oil means oil demand exceeds supply. Peak Oil actually means that point at which oil production irreversibly declines. Current projections, based on rather iffey reserve estimates, suggest that global Peak Oil will be realized some time in the next five years.

The article in "Perth Now" reaches the following conclusions:

"Energy will be king in the coming decades, and we must exploit our (bountiful) resources wisely, while preparing ourselves for much higher prices and potentially lower domestic economic activity (aside from coal and LNG exports)."

Energy has always been king in human societies, whether it was for hunting mammoths, domesticating animals, building steam engines or flying across the Atlantic. Our major human "revolutions:" agricultural, industrial and informational have all revolved around and been inspired by energy concerns.

As to exploiting "our" bountiful resources, it seems there's been too much of that going on around our poor beleaguered planet of late. Who says they're our resources to exploit in the first place, anyway? Seems like us Johnny-Come-Latelys on the evolutionary scene owe a bit of forbearance to those species who preceded us and made it possible for us to keep on evolving, if indeed, we ever did.

Economic activity and prices are inventions of this one particular species egotistically called Homo sapiens. They're not real, at least in the same way that air and water and sun and photosynthesis are real, important and essential. We got along quite well for 100,000 years or so without economics and prices. Seems like the neighborhood has gone rapidly downhill since their invention.

Can we get along with "much higher prices and potentially lower domestic economic activity?" Sure we can. We did quite well during World War II. Prospered even. Well, some of us did anyway. That's part of the problem.

The whole idea of steadily increasing domestic activity is oversold, and a bad deal to begin with that never got any better. It may have temporarily lined the pockets of a few, while others, including furred and feathered and scaled others, two-legged, four legged and finned, have done rather poorly. Their prospects don't look any better for the future.

Unless, of course, we get off this obsession with growth for growth sake and devolve back to some semblance of balance, real balance, not the right-wing "I get more balance than you do" concept. "Much higher prices and potentially lower domestic economic activity" will help considerably in that regard, of course, encouraging folks to consume less, stay at home, walk and bicycle more, work fewer hours, grow gardens full of good food and flowers, increasingly contemplate the natural scenery of their neighborhoods with sublime satisfaction. Gather up all the growth maniacs and put them on a secluded island somewhere, ringed with all of our excess military hardware so they cant' escape. Let 'em grow there, in isolation.

Energy will indeed become king in coming decades, but in terms of saving it rather than expending it. The relaxing "clop,clop" of horses hooves will replace the mind-altering roar of captive automotive horses, with sound systems set on stun. Our streets will return to the commons, where we will meet with our neighbors for convivial conversation, where our dogs will bask undisturbed in the sun, where trees will provide welcome shade, moisture and beauty, where the edges will be marked with flowers and grass rather than hard concrete curbing.

With the End of the Age of Oil we will also come to the End of the Age of Automomotive Oppression.

A world without planes


This BBC News - Today - A world without planes is a great essay on our certain future. Just replace every instance of the word "would" with "will."

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Portents of Things to Come

Ash may hover for days over uncertain Europe

Yes, it may indeed, just a hint of things to come as Peak Oil becomes a reality and airline travel becomes ever more expensive. I'll bet none of the surface transportation in Europe and on the Atlantic have been curtailed due to the ash.

Imagine 28,000 flights a day across northern Europe, all gulping petrol at 3,600 gallons per hour, spewing out nitrous oxide and other greenhouse gases, altering the stratosphere in ways we don't understand.

Now imagine it cut in half, or a third, as it is today. Less fuel consumption, less greenhouse gas emissions, less global warming, if there is any such thing at all. Also, less economic stimulation, fewer jobs in the airline and travel industry, less growth, less waste.

It's a win, win situation!

Energy Trumps Economy


In this article: The Future of Capitalism - Profits and Growth George Mobus describes, in systems language, why continued growth is impossible in a world of finite resources, that is, our world.

It seems logical and self-evident, but in a world dominated by the totalitarian philosophy of capitalism, that logic gets washed away in a barrage of propaganda, advertising and sleight of mouth. Consumerism is the norm, the expected reality. Any attempt to point out the illogic of unlimited consumerism is met with disbelief and open hostility.

One would think that Peak Oil and Climate Change (aka, Global Warming) would bring a note of reality to popular awareness. But the Capitalism propaganda machine is incredibly efficient at gobbling up realities and shitting false promises. Peak Oil is discredited with promises of Tar Sands, Oil Shale and deep ocean oil discoveries, ignoring the rapidly increasing energy costs of these marginal sources. The realities of climate change are obfuscated with the imposition quasi-scientific governmental organizations such as the IPCC, who fix the data around politically determined policy.

The public lack of understanding of the science and reality of global and cosmic energy and their effects on energy availability here on Earth, results in a political inability to come to turns with societal profligacy and waste. Mobus points out an important distinction between efficiency and waste. Efficiency is the reduction in the loss of energy in the process of conversion from source to useable work. Waste is the depletion of energy without producing useable work. We can eliminate waste with no effect on our physical environment. Efficiency has a steep diminishing return result: we are rapidly approaching the limits of efficiency in conversion of fossil fuels into useable energy.

Despite their promise, there is a limit to the amount of renewable energy that can be put to use for human consumption. Renewable sources have a much lower ratio of energy return on energy invested (EROEI), meaning we get less energy out of them for the same energy invested in their development. The result is that we are entering into a future with less energy available for human use than we have enjoyed in the past.

The upshot is that we must cut back somewhere, and that somewhere is growth. We no longer have the excess energy availabile to permit continued economic and consumption growth. We have two pathways open to us, one desirable, the other inevitable: a steady state society and economy, or decline and ultimate collapse.

Unless we can somehow take control over the political process and make these economic and physical realities a critical part of the political decision-making process, we will be very soon left with just the one future - economic decline and collapse.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Democracy, climate change and other strange bedfellows

Only 'Global Democracy' Can Prevent 'Climate Tragedy', says Bolivian Ambassador

Yes, democracy's a good thing when it comes to organizing social systems, providing a means of decision-making, keeping greedy corporate types at bay. That is, real democracy, not the faux democracy-light of the United States corporate oligarchy.

Democracy, even real democracy, is not appropriate when applied to science. We don't vote on climate change. We make observations, formulate theories, test them with hypotheses and verify the adequacy of the theory. We hold our conclusions up to the real world and see how they fit.

We don't ask millions of people if they believe in climate change and then act on that concensus belief.

Oh, wait a minute, I guess they do, in the media, in blogs, in popular culture, in the White House and other seats of power and greed.

So what would happen if this Bolivian brand of democracy, that is, rule by the people, caught on? Would we pull power back from corporate interests and re-establish local self-governance and self-reliance? Would we stop this insane and unsustainable consumer society that's laying waste to the natural world. Would we break up the global economy and bring our economies back under local control?

Maybe.

Would that stop climate change? No, certainly not.

Would it make a better world for millions of people everywhere.

Maybe.

Hmmmmm...

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Peak Oil: Another Imperialist Opportunity?


After Peak Oil, Are We Heading Towards Social Collapse?

US military warns oil output may dip causing massive shortages by 2015

It's the old "Mad Max/Water World" scenario: social collapse, followed closely by ranging gangs of thugs with anachronistic technology wreaking havoc across the countryside. Just the sort of picture the military would like to get their creepy claws into.

But first, a couple of reality moments, those banes of Republican visionaries.

First: Peak Oil does not mean the moment when oil demand exceeds oil supply. That may come and go. Peak Oil means the moment when world oil production begins irreversible decline. It will do so when supply still exceeds demand and may continue to exceed demand for some time, especially if demand drops in response to oil prices., as it did at the beginning of the current recession.

Secondly: despite the popularity of disaster movies, it is not a given that Peak Oil will cause social collapse, at least not as envisioned in Hollywood. That depends on many other factors, chief among which is the response of the military and the public constabulary to perceived threats, coupled with the speed and extent of economic decline due to oil decline shocks.

Demand reduction will certainly do much to mitigate the effects of Peak Oil, as will substitution of renewable energy sources, which, admittedly, cannot hope to replace oil kilowatt for kilowatt. Nevertheless, it need not be a sudden and absolute collapse. A gentle slide to a stable, steady state is possible.

If allowed.

It is certainly to the advantage of those who strive for power to...well, welcome, shall we say, any breakdown in popular control, requiring the imposition of centralized control to "keep the peace." Security staters since J. Edgar Hoover have slathered over the possibility of long term Martial Law in this country. Plans are afoot, no doubt, for some form of pre-emptive martial law, just in case things look like they just might, with a little nudge perhaps, get out of control.

All the more reason to localize control of our energy and food sources, solidify our own local support systems, take care of ourselves and our neighbors. Then, if nothing happens, at least we're better off than before we started.

Self-sufficiency is its own reward.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Thug in Chief Orders Up a Murder

Obama Administration Authorizes CIA to Kill US Citizen

Murder, Inc. has moved its headquarters to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Now the united States government has donned the mantle of Chief Executioner, taking on the jobs of Judge, Jury, defense and prosecution attorneys, court recorder and attending pliant press.

It's easy: decide who they want to murder, send a memo to the CIA, who dispatch a hired thug or a pilotless drone, and BOOM, the "terrorist" is dead, along with half of the neighborhood of innocent men, women and children. No messy trial to confuse the issues, no due process. No appeals. The President has his finger on the trigger. Fire at will.

The united States has sold its honor for a gallon of gas.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Rescind Obama's Peace Prize


Obama Expands Military Involvement in Africa

The Nobel Peace Prize has been rendered meaningless with its presumptive award to US President Barak Obama, who has clearly demonstrated a dedication to the imperialist policies of his predecessor, George II.

The current regime continues to expand arms sales to African nations, ostensibly to stop Al Qa'ida expansion. However, one cannot expect the locals to use their new weapons only on the "enemies of my friends." More guns and ammunition means more indiscriminate killing for purposes having nothing to do with US pretensions of empire.

The only way to stop war is to stop the obscene corporate profits in international arms sales to every local thug who's embezzled a few million dollars from the neighbors. The United States government places private profit above any and all moral principles and standards of decency, and backs up its support of business interests with clandestine intervention and outright military incursion. The almighty dollar walks loudly across the earth, carrying the big stick of violence.

Rather than awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to anyone, withhold it indefinitely, until peace, at long last, prevails.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

The Tyranny of Oil

Mohamed ElBaradei Hits Out at West's Support for Repressive Regimes:

"Western policy towards this part of the world has been a total failure, in my view. It has not been based on dialogue, understanding, supporting civil society and empowering people, but rather it's been based on supporting authoritarian systems as long as the oil keeps pumping."

Twas ever thus. Banana Republics have been replaced by Oil Republics, as US Imperialism makes the world safe for capitalism, our capitalism, that is: black gold, Iraqi tea.

Where oil flows, money grows.

Going Trash-Free

While no one living in the material world can avoid producing any waste, these folks: Going Trash-Free for One Year made a stab at it.

But why only one year? Why not always?

Life isn't a media event, a blog or a book proposal. Live simply and free. When you lower your standard of living, you raise your quality of life.

Consume thoughtfully and purposefully. Make every decision count.

Here at Bwthyn Lleuad Bai, we've been reducing our landfill contributions for over ten years. Nowadays, the grey wheely bin languishes neglected, rarely going out to visit its neighbors more than once every six weeks or so, and then only partially filled with vacuum cleaner dust, unavoidable unrecyclables and the odd bit of flotsam that washes up in our neighborhood on the street. Even the recycling bin goes out at three week intervals, starved for want of contents.

Meanwhile, the compost bins and the worm farm are doing well, carrying on their ancient alchemy, magically turning kitchen leavings into rich dark soil for the garden.

Folding ourselves back into the earth…

Monday, March 29, 2010

Some Things Never Change


A Bomber Jacket Doesn't Cover the Blood

Just as Bush II landed on an aircraft carrier in safe waters, clad in a ludicrous fighter pilot costume, Barak Obama just happened to stop by to visit our occupying horde in Afghanistan. Wearing a crisp new sporty bomber jacket, with the Air Force One logo in place of unnamed aerial killers, Obama assured his carefully posed minions, "We face a determined enemy. But we also know this: The United States of America does not quit once it starts on something."

Nothing changes when it comes to war. A white-haired old man said it best, many years ago:

"Statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception."
- Mark Twain, "Chronicle of Young Satan"

Oil Production Lags Further Behind

Falkland Islands oil disappoints for Desire Petroleum

One more bump on the road to Peak Oil.

This is how Peak Oil works. There's oil down there, somewhere, but getting to it and producing it is not possible within economic and energy constraints. It would take more energy to produce the oil than can be derived from it.

Oil companies have always explored non-productive wells and fields. It is this ratio of non-productive to productive oil exploration that defines Peak Oil.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The First Coward Sneaks into Afghanistan…


Obama Makes Surprise Visit To Afghanistan

…and out before first light.

In an amazing display of comic cowardice, the President of the United States snuck into Afghanistan under cover of darkness, with the curtains drawn on the windows of Air Force One. After of few hours of midnight secrecy with Puppet in Chief Karzai and his Komic Kabinett, Obama left before the cold grey light of dawn, winging his way back to safety in Fortress America.

The CEO of America, Inc. paid a visit to one of his wholly owned subsidiaries in the Middle East. The world is safe for hypocrisy.

The Light Begins to Dawn


Leaders at Closed-Door UK Meeting on “Inevitable” Peak Oil Crisis Weigh Possible Solutions to Energy Scarcity

At least in the UK, officials are coming to the realization that the End of the Age of Oil is close at hand.

It's been a long time coming, dragging an energy intensive world, kicking and screaming, into the bright light of reality, leaving great furrows in the petroleum based carpet. As long as there's money to be made, the myth continues. When profits are threatened, Peak Oil becomes a reality.

This is the real threat to our optimistically declared civilization, not some vapid global warming at some nebulous time in the future. Peak Oil is very real, its very near and it will spell the veritable end to the economic and social status quo.

Think recession is bad now? Wait till gasoline is $7 to $10 a gallon. How much will bananas cost in North Dakota in February? How much will shirts in Wall-Mart cost, shipped two or three times around the world? How will the consumer society continue when the price of every commodity follows the price of gasoline needed to manufacture and ship it to market?

The change is starting now in the Localism movement (http://transitionculture.org/). Those who see the inevitable are beginning to work out a vision for the future with less energy, and how to get from here to there.

Avoid the rush! Jump out of your energy consumption muscle car now and join us on the muscle powered Localism Band Wagon! Your children will be glad you did.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Legacy of the Exxon Valdez



It's important to remember, every year on March 24, the night the Exxon Valdez was driven on the rocks of Bligh Reef, a weapon of mass destruction turned loose on the life of Prince William Sound.

The Exxon Valdez oil spill was no accident. It was the result of years of political maneuvering, abrogation of responsibility by state and federal agencies, thousands of dollars of bribes in the form of "political contributions" to those responsible for the safety of the tanker lanes leading out of the Alyeska Marine Terminal Facility across Valdez Arm from the sleepy town bearing its name.

Not much has changed sine 1989. Nine hundred foot long tankers still travel back and forth across the roughest seas in the world, laden with toxic crude. Though there is more spill clean-up equipment in Prince William Sound nowadays, a spill in a winter storm could still result in an entire cargo of oil released into the Sound, and nothing could be done about it.

If anything, it's worse now. The corporate oligarchy is in full control, enforcing with vigor its totalitarian capitalist hegemony over the people of the United States, and most of the rest of the world. Corporations are secure in their legal personhood, the insurance industry has a new law, bought and paid for, mandating citizens of the United States to buy their products, under penalty of the law. Oil is $82 a gallon and climbing, slowly working to a new spike as the economy "improves."

Back in 1989, we were shocked that such a thing could happen, dismayed that the careful systems of control promised by Alyeska could break down so severely, outraged that Alyeska took so long to deploy what little spill equipment they had on hand.

We were so naive.

Now we know it was just business as usual, minimize costs, increase profits, just what anyone would suspect a respectable corporate citizen to do.

And still the oil seeps into the sands of Prince William Sound, through the veins and the genes of the animals and plant that still manage to live in their only home.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

It's the Law, Don



In a misinformed editorial in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, Don Miller, Sentinel Editor, completely missed the point of the recent California Coastal Commission decision regarding the City of Santa Cruz's application to build a paved bicycle route through critical habitat for an endangered species, the Santa Cruz tarplant, Holocarpha macradenia.

The editorial is incorrect in several respects. The City of Santa Cruz did not argue that "paving two trails" in Arana Gulch "would be the greater good, publicly and environmentally." Rather, the City proposed a transportation project in an Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Area, which is not allowed under the California Coastal Act.

It doesn’t matter that the City worked on the flawed plan for over 15 years. It doesn’t matter that the inadequate alternatives proposed in the Arana Gulch Draft Master Plan Environmental Impact Report were defended in court. It doesn’t matter that a recently proposed alternative route is not considered "safe and accessible" by the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission. The Broadway-Brommer bicycle route with paved trails and two bridges across critical habitat for the tarplant, is simply illegal under state law.

What matters is that the City has for years failed to manage Arana Gulch, resulting in eroding paths, illegal campers and endangered species. This is no excuse for the California Coastal Commission to bail them out by approving an illegal project.

The City of Santa Cruz should do the right thing, finally: manage Arana Gulch for the tarplant and all other species, and look elsewhere for their transportation project.

Friends of the Inyo

Friends of the Inyo is an excellent example of people organizing to care for a local treasure. Support them at: http://www.friendsoftheinyo.org/foi/


Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Basic Methodology Supporting Global Warming is Wrong

This article (ignore the cuteness at the beginning) Tamino vs random walk clearly explains that the basic methodology of global warming science, practiced by the IPCC, is wrong.

The premise of global warming modeling is the assumption that global climate models fail to account for all of the variation in surface temperature caused by natural forces, therefore, whatever is left over must be human caused.

Here's how it's done: Pre-industrial global average temperature is defined as "Normal" and plotted in a straight line through time. Temperature variations caused by natural forces are considered "random" and are rejected from the model, leaving the signal from human caused climate influence.

There are two fatal errors in this assumption:

1) "Normal" global average temperature is not linear through time. Variation is the norm and has been normal throughout the history of the Earth, in patterns that are predictable in the long term. Comparing present average global temperatures as variations from a lineal, short term norm presents a false picture of overall climate variation and its causes.

2) Natural climate change patterns appear random, but are predictable in the long term. When global climate records are cut off arbitrarily at 1850, this rich resource of climate data is thrown out, along with all other data considered "random." Thus, the "signal" left over when the "random noise" is discarded is mistakenly assumed to be the human contribution to atmospheric forcing. What's left is an artificially isolated "trend" that gives a false impression of warming.



As demonstrated in this graph of global temperature variation from 1980 (click to enlarge), extrapolated to 2100, patterns of past temperature fluctuations predict dramatically cooling temperatures over the next 90 years.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Peak Oil Is Closer Than You Think


Kuwaiti Scientists Say Peak Oil Will Arrive in 2014

Coming sooner than even the most pessimistic (optimistic?) proponents, a new non-linear analysis of world oil reserves demonstrates Peak Oil arrival by 2014.

This doesn't mean we'll all be walking in 4 years, as good an idea as that is, but we can expect gasoline prices to rocket skyward very soon. This will, of course, reduce demand, again, and ease the situation, for a while.

There's no turning back now. With China demanding oil at an ever increasing rate, Peak Oil is coming at us down a well greased slope.

Time to start building the barn out back!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Coastal Commission votes unanimously to continue decision on Arana Gulch Master Plan!


In a stunning upset for the City of Santa Cruz, the California Coastal Commission voted tonight to continue the decision on the application by the City for approval of their paved bicycle routes through the Arana Gulch greenbelt.


Commissioner Mark Stone made the motion, saying, "We would like to give this project another shot and look to see if there is any alternative that satisfies the Commission."

Stone and a majority of other Commissioners indicated they would vote against the project as proposed because they believed it was clearly a transportation project made to look like a conservation plan.

The Commissioners directed the City to consider alternatives to the Broadway Brommer transportation project through the Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Area that would significantly impact the endangered Santa Cruz tarplant.

Look for details and developments at the Friends of Arana Gulch website.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Year's Best Climate Pun

Anthony Watts sets the standard with the title of his blog post: Paleo-clamatology.

Clever Canuck limnologists have figured out how to analyze growth rings in clam shells for oxygen isotopes tied to water temperature. Graphed out on a 2500 year scale, the results show the typical signatures of the Roman Warming Period, the Medieval Warming Period and the Little Ice Age.

Not that anyone in this room is surprised. It's just nice to see it confirmed in an independent data set.

Maybe this will encourage some of the MWP deniers to, ooh, clam up!

Friday, March 05, 2010

Baffle Them with B-S

In an article from the Herald Scotland, Fresh Evidence Global Warming Is Man-Made, absolutely no evidence is provided to support the hyperbolic headline. Nor is the alleged "review" article cited, so we can't go see for ourselves this astounding evidence of an impending man-made catastrophe.

As it turns out, there is no evidence, no fingerprint, no smoking gun.

There are, however, computer models that have been molded, tweaked, fiddled with and poked about until, if this bit of media fluff is to be believed, they bear some vague resemblance to external climate reality.

And yet, even if the model does parallel some observations (not all observations), it's still only an interpretation on the part of the UK Met Office that this comprises a "fingerprint" of human influence.

When one has only a hammer for a tool, everything resembles a nail.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

"Climate Change and Open Science," Wall Street Journal

"Skeptics don't doubt science—they doubt unscientific claims cloaked in the authority of science. The scientific method is a foundation of our information age, with its approach of a clearly stated hypothesis tested through a transparent process with open data, subject to review."

The Wall Street Journal's "Climate Change and Open Science" by L. Gordon Crovitz is an excellent article explaining the point of view of the scientific global warming skeptic.

Too often, climate alarmists and global warming enthusiasts try to marginalize climate skeptics by calling us "denialists," "deniers" and other terms less acceptable in polite company. We are excoriated as unpatriotic, anti-American and damned by association with Exxon, right-wing think tanks and pro-energy media campaigns. As usual, the science of global warming skepticism is lost in the rhetoric.

Climate change skepticism is about the free and open access to data and methodology, the hallmark of all scientific endeavor. Science embraces contradictory evidence as a critical part of evaluating and interpreting data and observation. Were it not for skeptical scientists, we would still view the Universe as revolving around the flat Earth, a demon haunted world where dragons peer over the rim.

As Carl Sagan taught us, science is a candle in the darkness. Let's not snuff it out in the heat of political expediency.

Your Mother Called!


The Pacific Plate is restless these days. We watch and wait from our perch near the cusp, on which we cling precariously, temporarily welded as we are to the North American Plate. Japan, Indonesia, Chile... the Ring of Fire, rumblings of a planet on the move.

They're still bouncing around in Chile, with 6.1 magnitude after shocks. The 8.8 yesterday sent waves throughout the Western Bath Tub, sloshing ashore even here on Monterey Bay. Here's the obligatory video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cUyuXPVcw58

Not to worry, this is just Mother Nature's way of reminding us who's in charge.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Making a Killing in Public Relations


Marja Offensive Aimed to Shape US Opinion on War

The Pentagon is now using the deaths of innocent men, women and children as tools to bolster public opinion of citizens in the United States in support of continuing the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan.

In an act of brazen cowardice, US military officials targeted the city of Marja in Helmland, Afghanistan, knowing that the city was of little strategic importance, that it could easily be "subdued" (read: destroyed), in order to demonstrate the power of the new "surge" to win the war against the people of Afghanistan.

The US military has, once again, become an independent entity, dictating policy to the United States government and its civilian leaders, seeking to lobby the American people to support it's useless and purposeless invasion and occupation of Afghhanistan. The deaths of civilians have been cynically deployed against the people of the United States in a carefully controlled and purposefully designed propaganda program, aimed at building support for increased military presence and deadly activities in this exceedingly poor and beleaguered country.

It's time to take back control of the US military, to rein in the mad power mongers who seek total control over all aspects of US foreign policy. As Kennedy threatened to break the CIA into a thousand pieces, the Pentagon must be broken of its aspirations to unfettered power and returned to civilian control.

The military can never be allowed to hold power over the President, Congress or the people of the United States, nor must the Pentagon be allowed to conduct operations outside of government oversight.

The purpose of the US military is to kill people and destroy their infrastructure. This great power must always be held in close check, watched jealously, released only reluctantly and under a strong, short leash. The US military is far too close to wielding power over the US government and the people of the United States.

It's time for a clean sweep down, fore and aft.