sustainability

Will current oil crunch push us to renewables, or to other oil sources?

Since gasoline hit $3 a gallon, suddenly words like "biodiesel" are being heard a lot more often. Maybe this oil crunch could provide impetus to finally get us moving toward renewable energy.

Or maybe not. Other terms coming up recently are coal-to-oil and shale, different ways to extract and use fossil fuels that might become economically viable if oil prices remain high.

Global warming 'past the point of no return'?

The Independent reports on a record loss of sea ice in the Arctic this summer, and how this may mean a "tipping point" in the climate has been passed:

Scientists fear that the Arctic has now entered an irreversible phase of warming which will accelerate the loss of the polar sea ice that has helped to keep the climate stable for thousands of years.

They believe global warming is melting Arctic ice so rapidly that the region is beginning to absorb more heat from the sun, causing the ice to melt still further and so reinforcing a vicious cycle of melting and heating.

Mike Tidwell: "Get Used To It: New Orleans is Our Future"

I'm not quite sure when I first heard about how a hurricane like Katrina could destroy New Orleans; I know it was at least a few years ago. Mike Tidwell wrote a book about it in 2003: Bayou Farewell: The Rich Life and Tragic Death of Louisiana's Cajun Coast. No one paid much attention to the book then, but since Katrina struck, he's been on "Meet the Press", CNN (three times), Fox, MSNBC, CBS, and NPR. He says, "[M]y main objective in all of these interviews is to raise awareness of how climate change will soon turn every coastal city in the world into a New Orleans unless we make a rapid switch to clean, renewable energy."

Since he pretty much hit it on the nose before, sounds like it might be a good idea to listen to him now, no? Read his essay, which makes clear just how much of the Katrina tragedy was a result of poor environmental policy, here.

Cuts for farm conservation programs and food assistance

Congress has been ordered to cut $3 billion from farm and nutritional programs by the Bush Administration. Of course, they're not thinking of cutting the billions of corporate welfare that flows to agribusiness concerns, but instead planning on cutting farm conservation programs and food assistance for hundreds of thousands of poor people.

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley (R) has proposed an Senate bill 385, an modest amendment to USDA appropriations that would cap federal subsidies to corporate farms at a quarter-million dollars per year and thus leave more funding for protecting hungry people and the land itself. You can write your Senator to support this bill through OCA's website.

The Politics of Katrina

Rarely has a natural disaster become so politicized. From climate change to Iraq to bankruptcy reform, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina has touched on many current controversies.

It's been suggested that global warming may lead to more severe weather, including more (and more severe) hurricanes. And forecasters are calling for stronger hurricane seasons in the years to come; however, many are arguing that this is part of a natural cyclical variation. While we know with a good deal of certainly that climate change is occurring, and that part of it is driven by human activity, the picture just isn't clear enough to connect hurricanes with CO2 emissions.

Coke adds...cadmium

http://www.organicconsumers.org/BTC/cocacola082405.cfm

So in 2001, Coca-Cola builds a bottling plant in Plachimada, India. And then a few months later, the local wells start running dry. And then it turns out that the "free fertilizer" they've been giving out to the locals is lead and cadmium-laden waste sludge from the plant - with no fertilizer value.

Said Veerendrakumar, member of parliament and editor of the influential 'Mathrubhumi' newspaper: ''The fact of the matter is that that water from underground sources is being pumped out free, bottled and sold to our people to make millions for cola companies while destroying the environment and damaging public health''.

Household battery recycling

I hate throwing stuff away. Sustainability - i.e., the long term future of the human race - requires that we are able to recycle, reuse, or return to nature (compost or burn in a closed carbon cycle) just about everything we make. Being a techo-geek, the non-recyclable nature of most electronic gear nags at me.

Fortunately, things are getting better. Electronics recycling is starting, slowly, to gather momentum, though it's still something that is woefully underfunded and publicized given the toxic nature of electronics waste.

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