31 October 2010
30 October 2010
29 October 2010
A new eco-city planned in Portugal takes a cue from biology, using a centralized computer “brain” to control functions like water use, waste processing and energy consumption. It’s the biggest attempt at urban metabolism, which attempts to compare cities to living organisms.
PlanIT Valley, in southern Portugal near the town of Paredes, will use a network of sensors much like a nervous system to collect data and control the city, New Scientist reports. A firm called Living PlanIT is leading the effort, and aims to make PlanIT Valley a low-carbon city that also provides a European alternative to Silicon Valley.
The $19 billion city could be built by 2015, beating Abu Dhabi’s Masdar City by five years. As a centrally operated smart municipality, it’s more ambitious than Masdar or China’s stalled Dongtan project. Everything is connected through a cloud to an Urban Operating System, which acts as the city’s brain.
In addition to the brain, the city has several other body-esque functions: A renal system of reeds and bamboo that filters water; a digestive system that involves dishwasher-sized contraptions that process human waste and food to produce biofuel; and even a visual sensing system that can track lost kids and connect them with their parents. Special apps will inform residents about traffic and other local issues.
The city operates as an efficient loop — everything is recycled for something else. Cooking water is recaptured to flush toilets, for instance. Plants in a water treatment lagoon will be cut down when fully grown and harvested for biofuel. And hot air from a massive data-storage center will be circulated to heat other buildings.
Buildings are designed as hexagons to maximize space, and construction is supposed to start at the end of this year.
It's nothing if not ambitious, and critics point out that significant funding obstacles remain — the project needs to raise around $10 billion more, according to one estimate from Business Green. Still, it's an interesting concept that could inform future urban planning and revitalization projects.
PlanIT fails to answer one key question, however: What happens when the brain becomes self-aware and rebels against us?
28 October 2010
Great Post from Eyeblast TV. Posted by Stephen Gutowski
I was unaware of this but apparently Charlie Chaplin made non-silent films. I was also unaware that Charlie Chaplin, who I always thought would make a good satirical Hitler, actually played Hitler. Not only that but he made fun of and pushed back against Hitler, the Nazis, and antisemitism in 1940 when basically nobody else was.
Needless to say I have a lot of new respect for Charlie Chaplin.
In case you were a bit confused I’ll give you some context for what’s happening in the movie. Apparently Chaplin plays both Hitler and a Jewish barber who happens to look exactly like Hitler. Long story short… near the end Hitler is mistaken for the barber and arrested and the barber is mistaken for Hitler and taken to give an important speech.
The speech, of course, is a blatantly anti-nazi, anti-racism, and pro-freedom. All of which took an incredible boldness in 1940s America given that we were still technically at peace with the Nazis. In fact, while it was in production England declared it would ban the film as a part of their appeasement strategy… their opinion understandably changed after they went to war against the Nazis. This was just plain ballsy.
Why have I never heard of this before? You’d think during my years of education and the hundreds of hours I’ve spent watching documentaries about World War II on the History Channel I would have come across this act of bravery by a world renowned comedian before. Weird.
Either way this gives me a new found respect for Charlie Chaplin.
27 October 2010
26 October 2010
25 October 2010
For months now the teabaggers (and their fellow Republicans) have tried to convince Americans that they are a broad-based grassroots movement beholden to no political party. It is not now true and never has been. While the teabaggers may be deluded enough to think they are a grassroots movement, it has been shown they have been funded (and organized) from the very beginning by rich right-wing fringe elements (most notably the Koch brothers).
A new American Values Survey, done by the Public Religion Research Institute, shows just how far from mainstream America the teabaggers are and busts several myths about the teabaggers. The survey involved 3,013 adults between September 1st and 14th. It has a margin of error of 2%. Here are the most common myths and the truth about them:
MYTH - Teabaggers are distinct from other conservative movements like the christian right.
TRUTH - At least 47% of teabaggers consider themselves part of the christian conservative movement (and that figure jumps to 57% among those who self-identify as christian).
MYTH - The teabaggers represent a large portion of the American population.
TRUTH - Teabaggers make up only about 11% of the American population.
MYTH - Teabaggers are independent politically and not beholden to either political party.
TRUTH - At least 74% of teabaggers report they usually support Republican candidates, and about 83% say they will vote Republican in the upcoming election.
MYTH - Teabaggers are a largely Libertarian group believing in maximum freedom for individuals.
TRUTH - At least 63% of teabaggers say abortion is wrong in all or most cases, and only 18% believe same-sex individuals should be allowed to marry.
MYTH - The teabaggers are a racially and ethnically diverse group and have no racist tendencies.
TRUTH - At least 80% of teabaggers are non-Hispanic whites. Only 37% believe in immigration reform with a chance for citizenship. About 58% think blacks and other minorities get too much government attention, and a full 64% think it is OK if some people have more opportunity in life than others.
The teabaggers are nothing more than an angry far right-wing fringe group within the Republican Party. Any effort to make them seem like more than that is simply dishonest. The Republicans may well pick up some seats in the upcoming election (the party out of power usually does) but it will not be because of the teabaggers (who will vote Republican just like they always do).
Here are some other ways the teabaggers are out of touch with mainstream beliefs in America:
THE MINIMUM WAGE SHOULD BE RAISED TO ABOUT $10 AN HOUR.
MILLIONAIRES SHOULD PAY MORE IN TAXES
THOSE MAKING UNDER $30,000 SHOULD PAY MORE IN TAXES
MORE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION IS NEEDED
The teabaggers are not in step with the majority of Americans, and the more the Republican Party embraces them, the more there will be a day of reckoning in the future once most Americans realize this. The Republicans are playing with fire by embracing this dangerous fringe minority.
Posted by Ted McLaughlin
24 October 2010
23 October 2010
22 October 2010
Yellowdog Granny reminds us that while many modern christian fundamentalists claim America was founded as a christian nation, the Founding Fathers had a different view. They believed they had founded a secular government that would grant freedom to all citizens to believe (or not believe) in any religion they wanted.
21 October 2010
by Holte Ender
Nearly one in five Americans say they think President Barack Obama is a practicing Muslim, which to most reasonable people is an insane thing to say, but there again most reasonable people wouldn’t call a person of color a nigger.
A percentage of the white people of this country are reverting back to the “Know Nothing Party” that emerged in the 1840s. A party that hated immigrants, especially Catholics. The mainly protestant whites, thought the new residents would be servants of the Pope, before patriots of their new land.
There are many white people who dislike Obama for philosophical reasons, I will guess those people do not think he is a secret Muslim who’s plotting the downfall of America. Dislike or disagreement does not mean hate, unless you are a person who thinks your country is being taken away from you by a politician with a funny name and a skin color that freaks you out.
The modern-day hatemongers are using Islam as a tool to deflect from what they really fear, light brown, dark brown and black people infiltrating their white society.
If it ever existed, the America of Norman Rockwell is long gone, just like all-white baseball, basketball, college football and all-white politics. America has changed and will continue to do so.
It is a popular notion that “The World Hates America.” I’m not sure how true that threadbare phrase is, but this “Obama is a Muslim” crowd and the politicians who pander to them, “Hate the World.” When France refused to go along with the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and was extremely vocal in opposition at the UN, “French Fries” became “Freedom Fries” and the banning of French cheese and wine was encouraged. If you are not with us, you are against us and if you don’t look like us, and you don’t Obama, you must be a Muslim.
How dare a God damn nigger Muslim get himself elected as President of the United States.
20 October 2010
Just three years ago, Colorado-based inventor Jim Sears shuttered himself in his garage and began tinkering with a design to mass-produce biofuel. His reactor (plastic bags) and his feedstock (algae) may have struck soybean farmers as a laughable gamble. But the experiment worked, and today, Sears' company, Solix Biofuels in Fort Collins, is among several startups betting their futures on the photosynthetic powers of unicellular green goo.
The science is simple: Algae need water, sunlight and carbon dioxide to grow. The oil they produce can then be harvested and converted into biodiesel; the algae's carbohydrate content can be fermented into ethanol. Both are much cleaner-burning fuels than petroleum-based diesel or gas.
The reality is more complex. Trying to grow concentrations of the finicky organism is a bit like trying to balance the water in a fish tank. It's also expensive. The water needs to be just the right temperature for algae to proliferate, and even then open ponds can become choked with invasive species. Atmospheric levels of CO2 also aren't high enough to spur exponential growth.
Solix addresses these problems by containing the algae in closed "photobioreactors"—triangular chambers made from sheets of polyethylene plastic (similar to a painter's dropcloth)—and bubbling supplemental carbon dioxide through the system. Eventually, the source of the CO2 will be exhaust from power plants and other industrial processes, providing the added benefit of capturing a potent greenhouse gas before it reaches the atmosphere.
Given the right conditions, algae can double its volume overnight. Unlike other biofuel feedstocks, such as soy or corn, it can be harvested day after day. Up to 50 percent of an alga's body weight is comprised of oil, whereas oil-palm trees—currently the largest producer of oil to make biofuels—yield just about 20 percent of their weight in oil. Across the board, yields are already impressive: Soy produces some 50 gallons of oil per acre per year; canola, 150 gallons; and palm, 650 gallons. But algae is expected to produce 10,000 gallons per acre per year, and eventually even more.
"If we were to replace all of the diesel that we use in the United States" with an algae derivative, says Solix CEO Douglas Henston, "we could do it on an area of land that's about one-half of 1 percent of the current farm land that we use now."
Solix plans to complete its second prototype by the end of April and to begin building a pilot plant this fall. That plant will take advantage of CO2 generated from the fermentation and boiler processes of New Belgium Brewery, also in Fort Collins. The company's initial target is to be competitive with biodiesel, which historically sells for about $2 per gallon, wholesale. They believe they can reach this goal within a few years, and are ultimately aiming to compete with petroleum.
John Sheehan, an energy analyst with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colo., believes these goals are within reach. "There is no other resource that comes even close in magnitude to the potential for making oil," says Sheehan, who worked in the lab's algae program before it was shut down by the Department of Energy. One of algae's great strengths, Sheehan adds, is its ability to grow well in brackish water. In the desert southwest, where much of the groundwater is saline and unsuitable for other forms of agriculture, algae can proliferate.
GreenFuel Technologies Corp., based in Cambridge, Mass., is focused on cultivating algae that can produce high yields of both biodiesel and ethanol. There are more than 100,000 strains of algae, with differing ratios of three main types of molecule: oils, carbohydrates and protein. Strains of algae high in carbohydrates as well as oils produce starches that can be separated and fermented into ethanol; the remaining proteins can be turned into animal grains. GreenFuel hopes its pilot plant will see initial yields of 8000 gallons of biodiesel and 5000 gallons of ethanol per acre of algae.
The main focus now, says Cary Bullock, GreenFuel's president and CEO, is figuring out "how to grow algae fast enough and cheap enough that it makes sense economically. That's not easy to do."
With the science well in hand, the degree to which algae-based biofuels can replace petroleum—or the limited acreage of traditional feedstocks—rests upon that bottom line. Once the technology hits the ground, will a commercial-scale facility be on par with petroleum? Says Bullock: "You don't know until you've actually built the thing."
19 October 2010
18 October 2010
The United States, locked in the kind of twilight disconnect that grips dying empires, is a country entranced by illusions. It spends its emotional and intellectual energy on the trivial and the absurd. It is captivated by the hollow stagecraft of celebrity culture as the walls crumble. This celebrity culture giddily licenses a dark voyeurism into other people’s humiliation, pain, weakness and betrayal. Day after day, one lurid saga after another, whether it is Michael Jackson, Britney Spears or John Edwards, enthralls the country … despite bank collapses, wars, mounting poverty or the criminality of its financial class.
The virtues that sustain a nation-state and build community, from honesty to self-sacrifice to transparency to sharing, are ridiculed each night on television as rubes stupid enough to cling to this antiquated behavior are voted off reality shows. Fellow competitors for prize money and a chance for fleeting fame, cheered on by millions of viewers, elect to “disappear” the unwanted. In the final credits of the reality show America’s Next Top Model, a picture of the woman expelled during the episode vanishes from the group portrait on the screen. Those cast aside become, at least to the television audience, nonpersons. Celebrities that can no longer generate publicity, good or bad, vanish. Life, these shows persistently teach, is a brutal world of unadulterated competition and a constant quest for notoriety and attention.
Our culture of flagrant self-exaltation, hardwired in the American character, permits the humiliation of all those who oppose us. We believe, after all, that because we have the capacity to wage war we have a right to wage war. Those who lose deserve to be erased. Those who fail, those who are deemed ugly, ignorant or poor, should be belittled and mocked. Human beings are used and discarded like Styrofoam boxes that held junk food. And the numbers of superfluous human beings are swelling the unemployment offices, the prisons and the soup kitchens.
It is the cult of self that is killing the United States. This cult has within it the classic traits of psychopaths: superficial charm, grandiosity and self-importance; a need for constant stimulation; a penchant for lying, deception and manipulation; and the incapacity for remorse or guilt. Michael Jackson, from his phony marriages to the portraits of himself dressed as royalty to his insatiable hunger for new toys to his questionable relationships with young boys, had all these qualities. And this is also the ethic promoted by corporations. It is the ethic of unfettered capitalism. It is the misguided belief that personal style and personal advancement, mistaken for individualism, are the same as democratic equality. It is the nationwide celebration of image over substance, of illusion over truth. And it is why investment bankers blink in confusion when questioned about the morality of the billions in profits they made by selling worthless toxic assets to investors.
We have a right, in the cult of the self, to get whatever we desire. We can do anything, even belittle and destroy those around us, including our friends, to make money, to be happy and to become famous. Once fame and wealth are achieved, they become their own justification, their own morality. How one gets there is irrelevant. It is this perverted ethic that gave us investment houses like Goldman Sachs … that willfully trashed the global economy and stole money from tens of millions of small shareholders who had bought stock in these corporations for retirement or college. The heads of these corporations, like the winners on a reality television program who lied and manipulated others to succeed, walked away with hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses and compensation. The ethic of Wall Street is the ethic of celebrity. It is fused into one bizarre, perverted belief system and it has banished the possibility of the country returning to a reality-based world or avoiding internal collapse. A society that cannot distinguish reality from illusion dies.
This article originally appeared in Adbusters issue #90. Order a copy today!
The tantalizing illusions offered by our consumer culture, however, are vanishing for most citizens as we head toward collapse. The ability of the corporate state to pacify the country by extending credit and providing cheap manufactured goods to the masses is gone. The jobs we are shedding are not coming back, as the White House economist Lawrence Summers tacitly acknowledges when he talks of a “jobless recovery.” The belief that democracy lies in the choice between competing brands and the accumulation of vast sums of personal wealth at the expense of others is exposed as a fraud. Freedom can no longer be conflated with the free market. The travails of the poor are rapidly becoming the travails of the middle class, especially as unemployment insurance runs out. And class warfare, once buried under the happy illusion that we were all going to enter an age of prosperity with unfettered capitalism, is returning with a vengeance.
America is sinking under trillions in debt it can never repay and stays afloat by frantically selling about $2 billion in Treasury bonds a day to the Chinese. It saw 2.8 million people lose their homes in 2009 to foreclosure or bank repossessions – nearly 8,000 people a day – and stands idle as they are joined by another 2.4 million people this year. It refuses to prosecute the Bush administration for obvious war crimes, including the use of torture, and sees no reason to dismantle Bush’s secrecy laws or restore habeas corpus. Its infrastructure is crumbling. Deficits are pushing individual states to bankruptcy and forcing the closure of everything from schools to parks. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which have squandered trillions of dollars, appear endless. There are 50 million Americans in real poverty and tens of millions of Americans in a category called “near poverty.” One in eight Americans – and one in four children – depend on food stamps to eat. And yet, in the midst of it all, we continue to be a country consumed by happy talk and happy thoughts. We continue to embrace the illusion of inevitable progress, personal success and rising prosperity. Reality is not considered an impediment to desire.
When a culture lives within an illusion it perpetuates a state of permanent infantilism or childishness. As the gap widens between the illusion and reality, as we suddenly grasp that it is our home being foreclosed or our job that is not coming back, we react like children. We scream and yell for a savior, someone who promises us revenge, moral renewal and new glory. It is not a new story. A furious and sustained backlash by a betrayed and angry populace, one unprepared intellectually, emotionally and psychologically for collapse, will sweep aside the Democrats and most of the Republicans and will usher America into a new dark age. It was the economic collapse in Yugoslavia that gave us Slobodan Milosevic. It was the Weimar Republic that vomited up Adolf Hitler. And it was the breakdown in Tsarist Russia that opened the door for Lenin and the Bolsheviks. A cabal of proto-fascist misfits, from Christian demagogues to loudmouth talk show hosts, whom we naïvely dismiss as buffoons, will find a following with promises of revenge and moral renewal. And as in all totalitarian societies, those who do not pay fealty to the illusions imposed by the state become the outcasts, the persecuted.
The decline of American empire began long ago before the current economic meltdown or the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It began before the first Gulf War or Ronald Reagan. It began when we shifted, in the words of Harvard historian Charles Maier, from an “empire of production” to an “empire of consumption.” By the end of the Vietnam War, when the costs of the war ate away at Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society and domestic oil production began its steady, inexorable decline, we saw our country transformed from one that primarily produced to one that primarily consumed. We started borrowing to maintain a level of consumption as well as an empire we could no longer afford. We began to use force, especially in the Middle East, to feed our insatiable thirst for cheap oil. We substituted the illusion of growth and prosperity for real growth and prosperity. The bill is now due. America’s most dangerous enemies are not Islamic radicals but those who sold us the perverted ideology of free-market capitalism and globalization. They have dynamited the very foundations of our society. In the 17th century these speculators would have been hung. Today they run the government and consume billions in taxpayer subsidies.
As the pressure mounts, as the despair and desperation reach into larger and larger segments of the populace, the mechanisms of corporate and government control are being bolstered to prevent civil unrest and instability. The emergence of the corporate state always means the emergence of the security state. This is why the Bush White House pushed through the Patriot Act (and its renewal), the suspension of habeas corpus, the practice of “extraordinary rendition,” warrantless wiretapping on American citizens and the refusal to ensure free and fair elections with verifiable ballot-counting. The motive behind these measures is not to fight terrorism or to bolster national security. It is to seize and maintain internal control. It is about controlling us.
And yet, even in the face of catastrophe, mass culture continues to assure us that if we close our eyes, if we visualize what we want, if we have faith in ourselves, if we tell God that we believe in miracles, if we tap into our inner strength, if we grasp that we are truly exceptional, if we focus on happiness, our lives will be harmonious and complete. This cultural retreat into illusion, whether peddled by positive psychologists, by Hollywood or by Christian preachers, is magical thinking. It turns worthless mortgages and debt into wealth. It turns the destruction of our manufacturing base into an opportunity for growth. It turns alienation and anxiety into a cheerful conformity. It turns a nation that wages illegal wars and administers offshore penal colonies where it openly practices torture into the greatest democracy on earth. And it keeps us from fighting back.
Resistance movements will have to look now at the long night of slavery, the decades of oppression in the Soviet Union and the curse of fascism for models. The goal will no longer be the possibility of reforming the system but of protecting truth, civility and culture from mass contamination. It will require the kind of schizophrenic lifestyle that characterizes all totalitarian societies. Our private and public demeanors will often have to stand in stark contrast. Acts of defiance will often be subtle and nuanced. They will be carried out not for short term gain but the assertion of our integrity. Rebellion will have an ultimate if not easily definable purpose. The more we retreat from the culture at large the more room we will have to carve out lives of meaning, the more we will be able to wall off the flood of illusions disseminated by mass culture and the more we will retain sanity in an insane world. The goal will become the ability to endure.
Chris Hedges, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the New York Times, is the author of several books including the best sellers War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning and Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle.
17 October 2010
1. "When the President does it, that means that it's not illegal." ~ Richard M. Nixon
2. "We spent a lot of time talking about Africa, as we should. Africa is a nation
that suffers from incredible disease." ~ President George W. Bush
3. "The only way to reduce the number of nuclear weapons is to use them." ~ Rush Limbaugh
4.''My grandmother was not a highly educated woman, but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why? Because they breed. You're facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don't think too much further than that. And so what you've got to do is you've got to curtail that type of behavior. They don't know any better.'' ~ South Carolina Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, arguing against government food assistance for poor residents.
5."The ACLU is to Christians what the American Nazi party is to Jews." ~ Jerry Falwell
8."You teach a child to read, and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test." ~ George W. Bush
16 October 2010
15 October 2010
Here is more fuel for my fire.
Libertarians (and I realize that this is a simplification of the ideology) generally want to privatize most, if not all, government services. But when emergency services are fee based...this happens:
Imagine your home catches fire but the local fire department won't respond, then watches it burn. That's exactly what happened to a local family tonight....
...Each year, Obion County residents must pay $75 if they want fire protection from the city of South Fulton. But the Cranicks did not pay.
When the Cranick family called 911, they offered to pay the subscription to save their house. Once it was clear that the Cranick's hadn't paid, initially the Fire Department wasn't willing to come.
You would think that the Fire Department would assist anyone, right? The Cranick family thought so, too.
"I thought they'd come out and put it out, even if you hadn't paid your $75, but I was wrong," said Gene Cranick.
Cranick was wrong.
But they finally arrived.
It was only when a neighbor's field caught fire, a neighbor who had paid the county fire service fee, that the department responded.
As ThinkProgress notes the county commission’s latest report calls subscription based firefighting services “very progressive.”
Seriously. They refused to save a family's house because they hadn't paid a $75 dollar fee that year.
In Colorado, however, totally privatized Fire Departments are working. For people who pay.
Some homes threatened by a wildfire in the Colorado foothills west of Boulder were protected by a private team of firefighters hired by an insurance company to look out for its clients' property.
Currently, there are restrictions on what they can and cannot do...
They aren't allowed to fight fires if the homes ignite, and they're required to get permission from firefighting commanders.
Three homes insured by Chubb were destroyed and at least 10 others in the fire zone were spared, the newspaper reported.
You might think that this would be a nice backup plan in case of danger. But you probably don't qualify.
The values of the homes with Chubb insurance in the Fourmile fire ranged from $300,000 up to several million dollars, Schussel said.
Chubb spokesman Mark Schussel had noted that the policies are "definitely not cheap."
The problem with privatization is that the rich people, like Chubb's clients, get the primary service and the one's who cannot afford the fees get the privilege of watching their houses burn to the ground.
Reposted from The Modern Left
14 October 2010
13 October 2010
12 October 2010
11 October 2010
What drives the energy business? Economics of course. Check out where the world's largest solar photovoltaic is getting built...not, California, no, it is Ontario, Canada, up in the great white north. Are these corporate giants crazy?
Ontario welcomes the official opening of the world's largest solar photovoltaic (PV) farm and milestones for two new wind projects in South-West Ontario.
The province has attracted over $1 billion in private sector investment and created more than 1,400 construction jobs through three renewable energy projects that will produce enough electricity to power about 83,000 homes each year, replacing dirty, smog-producing coal with clean, renewable energy.
These projects will add almost 300 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy capacity to the more than 8,000 MW of new cleaner power that has been created since 2003. Ontario is building more clean energy to phase out dirty, smog-producing coal-fired generation and to keep the lights on for Ontario families' homes, businesses, hospitals and schools.
The three renewable energy projects celebrated today include:
The Sarnia Solar Project - 80 MW now online, represents approximately $400 million of investment and enough electricity each year to power more than 12,000 homes - or about 40 per cent of homes in the City of Sarnia. Construction of the project created about 800 jobs.
The Gosfield Wind Farm - 50 MW now online in Kingsville, represents enough electricity each year to power about 16,000 homes. Construction of the project created about 300 jobs.
The Comber Wind Project - 166 MW to come online next fall, in Lakeshore. Comber is expected to produce enough electricity each year to power 55,000 homes. Construction of the project is expected to create 300 or more jobs at peak.
The Gosfield and Comber Wind projects represent about $650 million of private sector investment and enough electricity each year to meet the needs of over 40 per cent of Essex County homes.
Renewable projects that generate negligible emissions support the McGuinty government's Open Ontario Plan to attract investment, build a clean energy economy and create jobs for Ontario families and helps provide clean air to breathe for our children and grandchildren
ONTARIO RENEWABLE ENERGY QUICK FACTS
Each of these projects has a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement with the Ontario Power Authority. Ontario permanently closed four units of dirty coal-fired generation on October 1, 2010, four years ahead of schedule.
Ontario is Canada's leader in wind and solar capacity, home to the largest wind farms in Canada and now home of the largest solar PV farm in the entire world.
In 2009, more than 80 per cent of our generation came from emissions-free sources.
10 October 2010
One of the City’s most respected institutions has warned of “catastrophic consequences” for businesses that fail to prepare for a world of increasing oil scarcity and a lower carbon economy.
The Lloyd’s insurance market and the highly regarded Royal Institute of International Affairs, known as Chatham House, says Britain needs to be ready for “peak oil” and disrupted energy supplies at a time of soaring fuel demand in China and India, constraints on production caused by the BP oil spill and political moves to cut CO2 to halt global warming.
“Companies which are able to take advantage of this new energy reality will increase both their resilience and competitiveness. Failure to do so could lead to expensive and potentially catastrophic consequences,” says the Lloyd’s and Chatham House report “Sustainable energy security: strategic risks and opportunities for business”.
The insurance market has a major interest in preparedness to counter climate change because of the fear of rising insurance claims related to property damage and business disruption. The review is groundbreaking because it comes from the heart of the City and contains the kind of dire warnings that are more associated with environmental groups or others accused by critics of resorting to hype. It takes a pot shot at the International Energy Agency which has been under fire for apparently under-estimating the threats, noting: “IEA expectations [on crude output] over the last decade have generally gone unmet.”
The report the world is heading for a global oil supply crunch and high prices owing to insufficient investment in oil production plus a rebound in global demand following recession. It repeats warning from Professor Paul Stevens, a former economist from Dundee University, at an earlier Chatham House conference that lack of oil by 2013 could force the price of crude above $200 (£130) a barrel.
It also quotes from a US department of energy report highlighting the economic chaos that would result from declining oil production as global demand continued to rise, recommending a crash programme to overhaul the transport system. “Even before we reach peak oil,” says the Lloyd’s report, “we could witness an oil supply crunch because of increased Asian demand. Major new investment in energy takes 10-15 years from the initial investment to first production, and to date we have not seen the amount of new projects that would supply the projected increase in demand.”
And while the world is gradually moving to new kinds of clean energy technologies the insurance market warns that there could be shortages of earth metals and other raw materials needed to help them thrive.
Lloyd’s also calls on manufacturers, retailers and the wider business community to reassess global supply chains and their just-in time models because the “current system is increasingly vulnerable to disruption.”
The report says government needs to do much more to bring additional price stability and transparency if the global carbon market is to become a reality.
Richard Ward, chief executive of Lloyd’s, said the failure of the Copenhagen climate change talks last December has helped lull many business leaders into a false sense of security about the challenges ahead. “We are in a period akin to a phony war. We keep hearing of difficulties to come, but with oil, gas and coal still broadly accessible – and largely capable of being distributed where they are needed – the bad times have not yet hit … all businesses … will be affected by energy supplies which are less reliable and more expensive.”
• This article was amended on 12 July 2010. The original referred to Chatham House as being the Institute of Strategic Studies. It is the Royal Institute of International Affairs.
09 October 2010
We need to extend the Bush tax cuts for the rich now, says the GOP -- businesses need certainty!
Can't pass health insurance reform, financial reform or energy reform, says the GOP -- businesses need certainty!
But the Environmental Protection Agency's regulations on the climate pollution of the largest emitters under the Clean Air Act that have been in the works for years? For the GOP, it's fine to try to screw around with those just a few months before they're set to take effect.
I suppose they're correct in one regard -- we can be completely certain where deregulation takes us.
08 October 2010
Reposted from The Green Miles
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell ran claiming to be a sensible moderate. But his governance record is clear -- from trying to privatize Virginia ABC stores at a massive loss to taxpayers to ignoring Metro's desperate need for funding, Bob McDonnell puts big business first & the little guy last.
Nowhere does that record become more stark than on environmental issues. McDonnell has made it clear that the agricultural interests like cigarette companies & pork processors that have given him over $1 million come first & the Chesapeake Bay comes last.
Now the Virginia Sierra Club has issued its Chesapeake Bay Report Card, making it clear that when it comes to the Bay, Bob McDonnell has been a total failure:
07 October 2010
06 October 2010
Reposted from Jobsanger
In most parts of the world drivers have become accustomed to driving a smaller and more fuel-efficient automobile. They may not be as small as the tiny electric commuter vehicle shown above, but they have accepted that the day of the gas-hog is gone. Not so in the United States.
Americans fell in love with large, powerful, gas-gorging vehicles long ago, and they show no signs of wanting to change that. Even after a couple of gas crises and a Gulf oil disaster, Americans still want their gas-hogs. All you have to do is look around on any city's streets to see that. The most popular vehicles by far are still the large SUVs.
But that has to change soon. The world is fast approaching peak oil (the point at which production drops no matter how much new drilling is done), and some believe we may already be at that point. Whether Americans want to admit it or not, oil is not an unlimited resource and will run out. Refusing to recognize this and make the necessary changes will just set the country up for serious problems in the near future.
With this in mind, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released documents yesterday that show the new fuel economy standards that will be expected from the corporate average fuel economy standards (CAFE) by 2025. The current CAFE goal (average mileage for all cars a company sells) is to be 34.1 miles per gallon (mpg) by 2016. The government is wanting to shoot for a mpg figure of between 47 and 62 by the year 2025.
Personally, I agree with the many environmental organizations that say the 47 mpg figure is just too low -- the 62 mpg figure is better and not at all unreachable. There are several advantages to making the figure as high as possible:
* As we approach peak oil, the competition for the remaining oil is going to be fierce and may involve military action. The less oil this country needs, the more secure it will be.
* Using and burning less oil will produce less air pollution and make the air healthier for all of us who have to breathe it -- especially those with asthma and other health problems.
* Burning less oil will also cause less environmental damage -- an important point considering we are nearing the point of no return for global climate change.
* The higher mileage rates will save consumers thousands of dollars over the life of an automobile. Since our politicians don't seem to have the political courage to pursue policies that will create new job creation, this could be very important in a jobless recession that could last for many years.
The NHTSA and the EPA documents say a much larger portion of the car market will have to be devoted to electric and hybrid automobiles. They think to reach the 62 mpg goal, electric cars would need to cover 7% to 14% of the market, and hybrid vehicles would need to make up 55% to 68% of all car sales.
I think those figures are probably too high. That assumes that gas-powered cars have reached the technological limit for fuel efficiency. I don't believe that, although I have no problem with electrics and hybrids taking up a larger market share. I think there is still room for innovation and technological advancement -- regardless of the whining we will undoubtably hear from the auto companies.
It would be a mistake to listen to the negativity and settle for the lower end of the proposed new standards (47 mpg). The 62 mpg goal is achievable and would produce far larger benefits for our society. And there's no real reason the goals couldn't be even higher after 2025.
Posted by Ted McLaughlin
05 October 2010
04 October 2010
By Daniel J. Weiss, Kalen Pruss
Efficiency is frequently described as the “low-hanging fruit” for cutting greenhouse gas emissions and reducing fossil fuel consumption. Energy efficiency improvements can meet a substantial portion of new U.S. energy demand and are relatively easy, cheap, and within the scope of current technology. A number of states have already adopted an “energy efficiency resource standard,” or EERS requiring utilities to reduce electricity demand, and these standards are already creating electricity savings. New legislation proposed in Congress by Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA) would build on these successes by enacting a federal EERS that would reduce national energy demand, save businesses and households money, and reduce global warming pollution.
03 October 2010
Lithium-ion batteries are great and allhaving heralded in a new age of portable electronics and allowed for the possibility of mass-market electric carsbut they have a few major drawbacks. For instance, they have a propensity to catch fire and explode and, although they have a much better energy storage capacity than say lead-acid or nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries, they still weigh too much to packmore than a couple hundred miles of range into a passenger car.
Your standard issue Li-ion battery can hold about 55 watt hours of energy per pound of battery. Todays modern electric cars need about 25 kilowatt hours (kWh) of power to go 100 miles. As an example, TheTesla Roadster has a 53 kWh Li-ion battery pack and goes just a bit more than 200 miles on a fullcharge.
Doing some calculations, youll find that the weight of a Li-ion battery quickly becomes the limiting factor in increasing the driving range of an electric caryou need roughly 500 pounds of Li-ion battery for every 100 miles or range, give or take. Taking the Roadster as an example again, its battery pack weighs about 1000 poundsjust a bit more than 1/3 of the entire cars weight.
Taking this dilemma head-on, Researchers at Japans National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) have combined the recent discovery of a special glass ceramic film called LISICON with what would normally be two incompatible battery materialsNickel and Lithiumand have succeeded in making the worlds first Ni-Li battery. It can hold more than 3.5 times the energy of Li-ion batteries and doesnt run the risk of catching fire.
How Did They Do It?
A typical battery works by separating a cathode (positively charged) and an anode (negatively charged) in some sort of electrolyte. The difference in charge between the cathode and anode is what generates electricity. In a Li-ion battery the electrolyte is an organic solid substance (part of what makes it prone to catching fire), whereas in both lead-acid and NiMH batteries the electrolyte is a liquid (much less prone to catching fire).
Usually the electrolyte separating the cathode and anode has to be the same substance. Because of this, the cathode and anode materials both need to be compatible with the same electrolyte, which has restricted the choice of cathode and anode materialsup till now.
By separating the cathode and anode with the special LISICON material, the AIST researchers have found that the cathode and anode can be placed in two completely different electrolytesallowing for much greater flexibility in the choice of cathode and anode materials.
Further reasoning that by combining the best properties of NiMH batteries with those of a Li-ion battery they could obtain an ultrahigh energy density, they placed a nickel hydroxide cathode in a liquid electrolyte and the lithium metal anode in an organic electrolyte separated by the LISICON glass.
And voila! The worlds first Ni-Li battery was born. Their experimental battery cell has already obtained a practical energy density of about 194 watt hours per pound of battery material.
Imagine if that Tesla Roadster had 1000 pounds of Ni-Li batteries in itthats a 700 mile range. Certainly an improvement, no? Now we just need to figure out how to fully charge it in a reasonable timeon a standard household outlet it would take the better part of three days.
Granted the Ni-Li battery has some hurdles to overcome, namely that is an incredibly complex battery and manufacturing it may be difficult. Also, the LISICON glass would need to be durable enough to resist breakage over the expected life of the battery. But humans have figured other more complicated things outlike thisso its really just a matter of time.
02 October 2010
Resume - George W. BushPosted in the database on Sunday, June 25th, 2006 @ 17:23:37 MST (65535 views)
GEORGE W. BUSH 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Washington , DC 20520
EDUCATION AND EXPERIENCE
I was arrested in Kennebunkport, Maine , in 1976 for driving under the influence of alcohol. I pled guilty, paid a fine, and had my driver's license suspended for 30 days. My Texas driving record has been "lost" and is not available.
I joined the Texas Air National Guard and went AWOL. I refused to take a drug test or answer any questions about my drug use. By joining the Texas Air National Guard, I was able to avoid combat duty in Vietnam
I graduated from Yale University with a low C average. I was a cheerleader.
PAST WORK EXPERIENCE
I ran for U.S. Congress and lost. I began my career in the oil business in Midland , Texas , in 1975. I bought an oil company, but couldn't find any oil in Texas . The company went bankrupt shortly after I sold all my stock.
I bought the Texas Rangers baseball team in a sweetheart deal that took land using taxpayer money. With the help of my father and our friends in the oil industry, including Enron CEO Ken Lay, I was elected governor of Texas .
ACCOMPLISHMENTS AS GOVERNOR OF TEXAS
I changed Texas pollution laws to favor power and oil companies, making Texas the most polluted state in the Union .
During my tenure, Houston replaced Los Angeles as the most smog-ridden city in America
I cut taxes and bankrupted the Texas treasury to the tune of billions in borrowed money.
I set the record for the most executions by any governor in American history.
With the help of my brother, the governor of Florida , and my father's appointments to the Supreme Court, I became President after losing by over 500,000 votes.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS AS PRESIDENT
I am the first President in U.S. history to enter office with a criminal record.
I invaded and occupied two countries at a continuing cost of over one billion dollars per week.
I spent the U.S. surplus and effectively bankrupted the U.S. Treasury.
I shattered the record for the largest annual deficit in U.S. history.
I set an economic record for most private bankruptcies filed in any 12-month period.
I set the all-time record for most foreclosures in a 12-month period.
I set the all-time record for the biggest drop in the history of the U.S. stock market.
In my first year in office, over 2 million Americans lost their jobs and that trend continues every month.
I'm proud that the members of my cabinet are the richest of any administration in U.S. history. My "poorest millionaire," Condoleeza Rice, had a Chevron oil tanker named after her.
I set the record for most campaign fund-raising trips by a U.S. President. I am the all-time U.S. and world record-holder for receiving the most corporate campaign donations.
My largest lifetime campaign contributor, and one of my best friends, Kenneth Lay, presided over the largest corporate bankruptcy fraud in U.S. History, Enron.
My political party used Enron private jets and corporate attorneys to assure my success with the U.S. Supreme Court during my election decision.
I have protected my friends at Enron and Halliburton against investigation or prosecution.
More time and money was spent investigating the Monica Lewinsky affair than has been spent investigating one of the biggest corporate rip- offs in history.
I presided over the biggest energy crisis in U.S. history and refused to intervene when corruption involving the oil industry was revealed.
I presided over the highest gasoline prices in U.S. history.
I changed the U.S. policy to allow convicted criminals to be awarded government contracts.
I appointed more convicted criminals to administration than any President in U.S. history.
I created the Ministry of Homeland Security, the largest bureaucracy in the history of the United States government.
I've broken more international treaties than any President in U.S. history.
I am the first President in U.S. history to have the United Nations remove the U.S. from the Human Rights Commission.
I withdrew the U.S. from the World Court of Law. I refused to allow inspectors access to U.S . "prisoners of war" detainees and thereby have refused to abide by the Geneva Convention.
I am the first President in history to refuse United Nations election inspectors (during the 2002 U.S. election).
I set the record for fewest numbers of press conferences of any President since the advent of television.
I set the all-time record for most days on vacation in any one-year period. After taking off the entire month of August, I presided over the worst security failure in U.S. history.
I garnered the most sympathy for the U.S. after the World Trade Center attacks and less than a year later made the U.S. the most hated country in the world, the largest failure of diplomacy in world history.
I have set the all-time record for most people worldwide to simultaneously protest me in public venues (15 million people), shattering the record for protests against any person in the history of mankind.
I am the first President in U.S. history to order an unprovoked, pre-emptive attack and the military occupation of a sovereign nation. I did so against the will of the United Nations, the majority of U.S. citizens, and the world community.
I have cut health care benefits for war veterans and support a cut in duty benefits for active duty troops and their families-in-wartime.
In my State of the Union Address, I lied about our reasons for attacking Iraq and then blamed the lies on our British friends.
I am the first President in history to have a majority of Europeans (71%) view my presidency as the biggest threat to world peace and security.
I am supporting development of a nuclear "Tactical Bunker Buster," a WMD. I have so far failed to fulfill my pledge to bring Osama Bin Laden [sic] to justice.
RECORDS AND REFERENCES
All records of my tenure as governor of Texas are now in my father's library, sealed and unavailable for public view.
All records of SEC investigations into my insider trading and my bankrupt companies are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public view.
All records or minutes from meetings that I, or my Vice-President, attended regarding public energy policy are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for publi c review. I am a member of the Republican Party.
01 October 2010
Acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention
San Fransisco, summer 1964
To quote the Monkees: "That was then, this is now."
Truth be told, Goldwater - when compared to his present day, ideological heirs - is starting to look pretty good in hindsight. 1964 was the year that the kooks and fools began to take hold of the "party of Lincoln". He had to take a lot of positions during that campaign that he privately abhorred - his militant stance against equal rights for African Americans being one of them. As his post-campaign career would prove, he turned out to be a fairly decent senator in a lot of respects. He would end his life as a strong proponent of equal rights for gay people and Native Americans. Were Barry Goldwater to run as a Republican in 2010, he couldn't get nominated as Toilet Cleaner for Yuma County Arizona.
As conservative as old Barry undoubtedly was, at the end of his life he was disgusted and alarmed at the direction his party appeared to be headed. At the time of his death on May 29, 1998, he was collaborating with John Dean on a book that decried the state of the modern-day GOP. Dean eventually completed the book a few years ago. It was called, "Conservatives Without Conscience". Maybe it's a blessing that Goldwater did not live to see Sarah Palin.
One of the newest (and most amusing) GOP talking points is that - way back when - it was the Democrats who were the enemies of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and that it never would have been passed without the Republicans. This is partially true. It was thesouthern Democrats who were rabidly opposed to basic human rights for people of color that is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. But what is undeniable is the fact that the right wing spin doctors have been engaging recently in a cynical bit of revisionist history. Let me begin my explanation be posing two basic questions:
QUESTION NUMBER ONE: "Were" the Republicans at least partially responsible for the success of LBJ's Civil Rights Act in 1964?
ANSWER: Absolutely they were
QUESTION NUMBER TWO: "Are" the Republicans entitled to take credit for that fact in 2010?
ANSWER: Absolutely not.
You see, a half-century ago the Republican party was virtually nonexistent south of the Mason Dixon line. Oh, sure, there were a few people in that region of the country who identified themselves as Republicans, but the majority of them were black - and not allowed to vote! In the former Confederacy, white people were almost exclusively registered with the Democratic party. Why, you ask? Because none of these jackasses could bring themselves to register with the party of Republican Abraham Lincoln: "That nigger-lovin' bastard that freed the slaves." Let's face it, a grudge is a grudge - even a century after the fact. That all changed in the mid-nineteen-sixties.
When President Johnson signed into being the Civil rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, it marked the end of the "solid south" for the Democratic party. At the time, Johnson told his two aides Jack Valenti and Bill Moyers, "We've lost the south for a generation." It turned out to be an optimistic prediction.
THE SOUTHERN STRATEGY
In 1968, the Nixon campaign, sensing the outrage and resentment of nearly all white southern Democrats, devised a strategy to win over the hearts and minds of the nitwits who controlled that party in Dixie. Exploiting the riots that had occurred in cities all across America in the aftermath of the murder of Martin Luther King, Tricky Dick ran a campaign that emphasized, "Law and Order". He didn't actually come out and say, "I'm going to protect you good people from those nasty, filthy Negroes!" He didn't have to. All the Trickster needed to do was rely on code words. It worked. When he was reelected in 1972, the descendants of the old confederacy had already fled - like frightened rats - to the Republican party, which, by the way, was no longer the party of Abraham Lincoln, but the party of Richard Milhaus Nixon.
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees
Now they are trying to get us to swallow the fantasy that the mass exodus of Dixiecrats to the GOP forty years ago had absolutely nothing to do with race. It was all about economics, they tell us. Bullshit. It had everything to do with race. I was born very early in the morning, but it wasn't this morning.
What happened, quite simply, was a fusion of the economic plutocrats in the Republican north, with the racial bigots in the Democratic south. Had it not been for Nixon's southern strategy in 1968, that coalition would never have come into existence. Had it not been for the south's reaction to the civil rights movement, this country never would have elected a feeble-minded old reactionary like Ronald Reagan thirty years ago this November. Indeed, Reagan would launch his campaign from the town of Philadelphia, Mississippi, an unremarkable tiny stain on the map whose only claim to fame prior to 1980 was the brutal murder there of three civil rights workers in the summer of 1964....
....and shame on us if we ever forget their names:
In 1980 Ronald Reagan had a message for the sons and daughters of Dixie who still flew the Confederate flag on their front lawns (and probably still do): "Jim Crow's gonna be given the red carpet treatment inmy White House". And for the most part, that was the case. The slow-but-steady gains that black people in America had seen since that afternoon in December of 1955 - when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama bus to a white man, thus launching the civil rights revolution - began to falter when Reagan entered the White House in January of 1981. In Dixieland he took his stand....
The very idea of the modern-day Republican party staking a claim in the successes of the civil rights movement of the fifties and sixties is (and I'm being charitable here) disingenuous at best.(Come to think about it, I'm not feeling all that charitable this morning): It's a goddammed lie. (Much better).
So let's all take a deep breath, shall we? These silly Republicans (in their present incarnation anyway) are about as much responsible for the gains of the civil rights era as I am for the invention of Cheese Doodles. Get a grip.
Conservatives Without Conscience
by John Dean
by Barry Goldwater and Jack Casserly
by Billie Holiday