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Front Page » Table of Contents » Environment & Conservation

By Bob Hooper on December 6, 2011

A man said to the Universe, "Sir, I exist!" "However," replied the Universe, "the fact has not created in me a sense of obligation." -- Stephen Crane (1871-1900)

A reader asked me to write about the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, now postponed until 2013.

The 36-inch diameter pipe would cover 329 miles in Canada, cross the border at Montana, angle through South Dakota and Nebraska (with a branch to Illinois). Photo shows truck hauling 36-Inch pipe to build Keystone-Cushing Pipeline south-east of Peabody, Kansas, 2010 (from WIkipedia).

Then it would slice across the eastern third of Kansas through Oklahoma to Texas -- over 2,100 miles in all. The estimated 1.1 million barrels daily of synthetic crude oil from Alberta tar sands would equate to 5 pct. of present U.S. oil consumption, and 9 pct. of our present imports.

Estimates of new jobs vary wildly. Promoters say 250,000. Skeptics say as few as 4,000--most temporary. The environmental degradation to Canada would be (and already is) dramatic. Leaks are a constant worry. If 97 percent of climate scientists have it right, continued fossil fuel burning is a bigger threat. Those who've read my columns know I'm convinced scientists are correct.

But there's an underlying and larger issue: the deception of free market capitalism. It isn't free. It's cracked, and the crack is growing.

Read more of this post here ...

By Randy Leer on May 12, 2011

Currently our nation is confronting and dealing with dual disasters. There is record flooding along the Mississippi River and its tributaries, and there is severe to exceptional drought impacting 11 different states in the continental United States. It is a shame that we can’t do something about moving that water from where there is too much to where there is not enough.

I’ve had this discussion a number of times with many different people. There is always one question that lingers with me; why couldn’t we build a pipeline to move that water to where it is needed. I know what I am proposing is extreme. It would easily cost $50 billion or more. If we look at what we are paying out in Federal Aid and in increased insurance premiums, are we not spending more than that already?

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By Diane Wahto on January 12, 2011

Someone in my family gave me Jon Stewart’s new book, Earth (The Book), for Christmas. It is subtitled A Visitor’s Guide to the Human Race. Having read a few pages of Earth, I have found it lives up to my expectations in that it deals with a serious issue, the extinction of the human race, in a chuckle-provoking manner. In the introduction, Stewart first addresses the alien readers, those who have come from outer space to a planet now devoid of human beings. He then addresses the human readers of the book, starting with the line, “It’s perfectly clear that we as a species are not long for this world.”

The world is what this book is about. Not just the geographical world, but the world we human beings inhabit, everything from the religious, (rituals, beliefs, holy wars) to the physical (physiology, bathroom habits, sex—well, everything). He even throws in Barbie and Ken dolls. This book is nothing if not comprehensive.

Read more of this post here ...

By Bob Hooper on October 12, 2010

Dr. Robert Musil held his hand palm down, just over knee high. "This is where global warming ranks in today's political dialog.." He brought his hand head high. "What's here?" From the 50 people gathered at Cafe Semolino in Hays, Kansas, last month came the quick response: "Jobs! The economy."

Speaking without a script, Musil sometimes rambled. But his three-part thesis was clear: (1) global warming is an international concern (2) ordinary citizens should not be sideline spectators, but demand timely progress (3) success requires persistence. Don't give up.

For Musil the fact of global warming is just that--a fact. No show of hands, but I'm guessing those present were mostly in agreement. A handful of students, surely there for extra-credit, got glassy-eyed at times. Too low-tech, I suppose.

The focus soon sharpened to what efficiency might accomplish: turning thermostats down, swapping out incandescent bulbs, remembering to switch off the lights or turn off the TV when nobody's in the room. A gentleman perched on a stool toward the back spoke up. Eating less meat, he said, would reduce demand on fossil fuel. Fattening livestock is not fossil fuel efficient. There were some grimaces and squirms at shorting ourselves on t-bones, or even burgers. Surely some cattle ranchers were present, too. Americans not only like their creature comforts but generally feel entitled.

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By Angelo Lopez on August 20, 2010

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By Bruce Fealk on June 13, 2010

Van Jones, who spent a short time as President Obama’s green jobs advisor, and who is currently serving as a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and as a policy advisor at Green for All took a few minutes to answer some questions before he spoke to about 500 progressive activists in Lansing on Saturday.

During the interview, Jones was asked a broad range of questions. Jones still has contacts in Michigan, including Andy Levin and Governor Granholm. He said that in Washington D.C. Governor Granholm is seen as the gold standard of an industrial belt governor that really sees this clean energy opportunity and is going for it.

When asked about Governor Bobby Jindal’s recent press conference regarding the BP oil spill and the loss of jobs being caused by President Obama’s temporary moratorium on new deep water drilling, Jones responded,

“I think we have obviously a lot to grieve at this point. We have eleven workers who lost their lives because a foreign corporation came to the United States, corrupted our government, slagged up our coastline, killed eleven workers through criminal negligence and now destroyed a precious ecosystem and economy, a big chunk of America’s beauty has been destroyed because of this one company."

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By Mikyung Lim on June 12, 2010

Why is everything happening all together? The almost-collapse of car industry, the meltdown of housing and financial markets, health care and financial reforms, BP oil spill and the aftermath, all of which has directed public attention to the appalling role of lobbyists and interest politics on US politics and economy. Are these some kind of prophecy telling the public that this is the time for America to wake up and do a comprehensive overhaul of her whole structure if she wants to safely navigate and survive in modern times? “

Recently, a renowned actor, Robert Redford, produced a video, “The Fix: Robert Redford Reflects on the Gulf Oil Disaster,” and stated on Big Oil in his Huff Post blog post as below.

“As I try to convey in my new video, 'The Fix,' I am appalled by what this spill is doing to Gulf fishermen, families, communities and wildlife. But I am also disgusted by what it reveals about the oil industry’s role in American political life … With their deep pockets, oil companies have purchased loose safety regulations, slack oversight and support from key lawmakers. Last year alone, the industry spent a $168 million on lobbying — $16 million of which came from BP. The blowout on the Deepwater Horizon is a symptom of this undue influence.”

Read more of this post here ...

By Mikyung Lim on May 30, 2010

The Earth has undergone several mass extinctions of living species since its creation. I remember an old article of Time magazine asserting that, since the beginning of human civilization, “Climate Change” is the most dire crisis of human existence, more dangerous than any wars that human has fought, any natural disasters that human has encountered, or any epidemics that killed many of us throughout history.

Since the late 2008, we have undergone the most severe economic recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s: crisis with health care system and the meltdowns of housing market and financial sector. These are tragic social, political problems that we have encountered cyclically but can be solved depending on what kind of politicians voters chose to put in power. But none of these problems are as fundamental as the current challenge posed by “the Crisis of Climate Change.”

Sadly, poor people always seem to be the targets of natural or man-made disasters or any kind of misfortunes. For example, recent political history showed that health care crisis, housing market meltdown, recession and unemployment hit the less privileged, poor people hardest while the rich always seem to find ways to avoid any kind misfortunes. Even “Global Warming” is expected to hit the poorest people in poor or developing countries or those in the United States of America instead of rich people, rich countries.

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By Jean Binder on May 29, 2010

Death of the ocean bottom and thereby death of the life and lifestyle - of rig workers, of fisher folk, and of homes: for fish, shrimp, birds, and coastal dwellers. All because of what? Cain and Abel? Could it really be?

Seems it was due in large part to those following the example of Cain and Abel. You know, those Biblical boys, the firstborns of Adam and Eve, the ones who broke their parents hearts and ruined both their lives over jealousy, resentment, and "personal differences."

Apparently, the BP representative on that fateful rig KNEW from gauge readings that there had to be natural gas in that pipe, but failed to ask for advice before going ahead. WHY? Because of "personal differences" with his superior in Texas.

Read more of this post here ...

By Bob Hooper on April 13, 2010

“For the past 150 years, industrial civilization has been dining on the energy stored in fossil fuels, and the bill has come due. Yet, we have sat around the dinner table denying that it is our bill, and doubting the credibility of the man who delivered it. The great economist John Maynard Keynes famously summarized all of economic theory in a single phrase: ‘There is no such thing as a free lunch.’ And he was right. We have experienced prosperity unmatched in human history. We have feasted to our hearts’ content. But the lunch was not free.” Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway, in Merchants of Doubt Bloomsbury Press c2010

As a youth I worked in the oil patch. There was this quip about someone too dumb to pour pee out of a boot even if he read the directions on the heel. So... you who can (without directions on the heel) pour pee from a boot: Why don't you get it that failing to responsibly regulate capitalism doesn't make for a free lunch? There are often costs to our environment, our health, and our pocketbooks.

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