Tag Archives: environment

White roofs? Oh, yeah.

Atrios, the master of understatement, reminded us this morning that we could change everything with white roofs.

Back in the 70’s, when the ‘greenhouse effect’ was big news, some 12-year old kid somewhere in America came up with the idea of painting all the black roofs white. Since white is reflective instead of absorptive, doing so would have an actual effect on the temperatures at ground level. Brilliant.

Atrios: “It would be good stimulus, good for climate change, good for energy costs, good for a whole bunch of stuff. I suppose that’s why it isn’t happening.”

Maybe the arabs always knew that. I’d like to show you this picture from Yemen, but it seems you need to go the NY Times to actually see it.  I wonder if they always did this or were listening to that 12-year old.

Would sure put a lot of people to work. And we could offer tax cuts and rebates, just like Carter did in the ’70’s when he got us to get energy audits and wrap our hot water heaters. It made a huge difference. (That was the beginning of the Energy Star system with appliances.)

I’m a big fan of anything that will cut our obsense energy use, especially on this 287th day of the ninth year of the war in Afghanistan.

A friend returns

One of my favorite new bloggers has been a bit too busy to entertain me recently, but he’s back today with a wicked good post about BP. Check it out.

Money for money

BP has their fingers crossed yet again, and a few million residents of the Gulf Coast weep as their way of life disappears. Just another day in the greatest country ever governed by an almost entirely owned Congress.

From today’s New York Times‘ (that paper so thoroughly quoted by Glenn Beck) lead editorial:

“No industry enjoys the array of tax breaks and subsidies that the oil and gas industry does . . . Industry has spent $340 million on lobbying over the last two years to block [initiates to limit the tax breaks]”

So. Let’s see how that goes.

I drive by a big box store with a fully lit parking light six hours after the store has closed and am comforted by the knowledge that those lights can burn on as long as our soldiers keep fighting those wars. Like in Afghanistan, where today is the 277th day of the ninth year of the war.

Nothing short of higher energy prices will change how we behave in this country. Our disgraceful wasteful ways go on. We should be so very ashamed.

It may be bigger than both of us

The deep water well currently gushing oil into the Gulf of Mexico is a  hole in the planet (borrowing the concept from a commenter at James Howard Kunstler’s Clusterfuck Nation). While we’re dithering about beaches and BP and Obama’s inability to weep and rend his clothes, we have an actual hole in the planet.

(By the way, a FOX anchor accused Obama of  wearing ‘fancy clothes’ [white shirt and slacks, no jacket] while walking on a Gulf Beach. True. )

And we’ve got a hole in the planet. And so far we can’t plug it.  Sayin’.

Oil and war and water

Just found a few new sites I like a lot, one of which (via GrumpyLion) provided this picture. He’s also got a link to a slide show at boston.com that will break your heart. If you can bear any  more heartbreak.

Hermit crabs dying on the sand

The other day Chris Matthews asked ‘how do you repay us for the loss of an ocean?’

I guess this is what we’re fighting to have more of – there needs to be a very important reason why we are still in Afghanistan on the 247th day of the ninth year of the War.

Calling Jimmy Olsen

A terrific column by Eric Alterman today. This jumped out:

“According to MMS spokesman Nicholas Pardi, there’s not a single reporter in the country who covers its activities full time.”

The Minerals Management Service, the agency whose regulatory failures led to the Deepwater Horizon disaster, has not attracted any interest from our ‘free’ press in the last decade or more. They have however, been ‘freely’ swarming around the latest bimbo eruption, wherever it may be. By the thousands.

Lucky us.


Okay. This is over the top

Apparently new video of the oil leak – high def video!! Wow! – has been turned over by BP under pressure from a congressional committee. I saw it on CNN an hour ago;  it provides much more specific information to scientists about the actual volume of the leak.

The CNN anchor (sorta pretty, long sexy hair, lottsa makeup) asked the ‘reporter person’ (male, standing in front of CNN’s ridiculous and newest on-screen graphic gadget) why it took so long to get this type of video. The ‘reporter’ solemnly explained that BP told him it was different than the live feed, because it had to be downloaded to CD on the ship and then transported to somewhere else. Which takes a lot of time. And then they both nodded, just as solemnly.

CNN – the most trusted name in news
CNN – the best political team on television

That’s what they said.

From xkcd

More good stuff here.

Wish I could write like this

But I can’t. That’ s why Bob Herbert has a column in The New York Times and neither you nor I do. This morning, he’s feeling a tad testy about his President and about those big oil companies.

From An Unnatural Disaster:

“Where I was wrong,” said President Obama at his press conference on Thursday, “was in my belief that the oil companies had their act together when it came to worst-case scenarios.”

With all due respect to the president, who is a very smart man, how is it possible for anyone with any reasonable awareness of the nonstop carnage that has accompanied the entire history of giant corporations to believe that the oil companies, which are among the most rapacious players on the planet, somehow “had their act together” with regard to worst-case scenarios . . . 

These are greedy merchant armies drilling blindly at depths a mile and more beneath the seas while at the same time doing all they can to stifle the government oversight that is necessary to protect human lives and preserve the integrity of the environment.

President Obama knows that. He knows — or should know — that the biggest, most powerful companies do not have the best interests of the American people in mind when they are closing in on the kinds of profits that ancient kingdoms could only envy.

That’s about right.

Oil stay away

A solid article this morning in The New York Times about those underwater oil plumes; those of us on the Gulf find the wonk endlessly fascinating.

I'm counting on you, okay?

Meanwhile, my local volunteer machine appears to be in place.  The State and the County have put a procedure in place to alert and activate an army of volunteers if and when oil becomes a problem on our shore, which it very well might when the hurricanes come . Groups at the local level are registered and can go into action quickly. In my own community, we already have a task force in place to coordinate volunteers.  Unlike LA, AL, and MS,  we have time. I understand the State’s goal is to have people at every single foot of our shoreline. I also understand that any costs incurred by county, state or local orgs will be reimbursed by BP through the state. Hope they don’t run out of money.

Money for nothing

Just realized that as this nation-at-war kicks off Memorial Day weekend and the beginning of summer . . . the Cost of War clock is about to turn to ONE TRILLION DOLLARS – perhaps before the weekend is out. That’s $1,000,000,000.00 $1,000,000,000,000.oo. One trillion dollars.

I wonder what we’d be fueling our homes and vehicles with if we’d spent a trillion dollars on R&D over the last decade, instead of . . . well, instead of what exactly?

What did we spend that trillion dollars on? Killing our own? Killing Iraqis and Afghans? Guns? Ammo? Helicopters that crashed? Making enemies? Hardening hatred?

We blew it. We wasted it. And we got nothing for it. Shame on us.

Now go have a beer and a burger and don’t worry, be happy.

More than one clean up called for

Krugman three days ago:

Something Rotten At Interior

Something is very wrong at the Interior Department.

Actually, that’s not news. No part of the government was as thoroughly corrupted during the Bush years; Interior became a case of government of the extractive industries, by the extractive industries, and very much for the extractive industries. And it was going to take time to clean up the mess.

But has the cleanup even started? Every day there’s another news story with Ken Salazar firmly declaring that he’s losing patience with BP, and that if the company doesn’t get with it … he’ll make another firm declaration tomorrow. Meanwhile, we get assurances that no more drilling is being allowed pending review, followed by stories that, well, actually it is; we get stories about MMS officials partying with cakes inscribed “Drill, baby, drill.”

What this says to me is that officials at Interior are acting as if nothing has changed. Maybe that’s because Salazar is just a weak leader, and they’ve concluded that they have nothing to fear from him. Or maybe the fears of environmentalists about Salazar’s motives were correct, and he’s saying one thing to the public but another thing to his subordinates, assuring them that he’s not serious about all that change stuff.

Either way, he isn’t doing his job — and the Obama administration is steadily leaking credibility. And the buck for that stops you know where.

Obama has appointed quite a few good people  but I remember being saddened when his offer to Bruce Babbitt to take over Interior went nowhere. Babbitt was a serious and sterling choice. But it didn’t happen. Interior was /is a department screaming for real change.

By the way, another place needing real change is Afghanistan. It’s probably not going to happen while we’re there or after we leave. And still,  it is the 232nd day of the ninth year of the war there.

Oil and war – one equals the other and we seem to crave both.

Trying to plug that sucker with press releases

An interesting post from a diarist over at Kos, which I don’t visit much any more. Not because it isn’t superb – it is! Because there’s so much gold over there these days, that it’s too much to absorb. If I try, I get lost and life stops calling. Kos has become the biggest friggin’ depository of smart informed commentary and reporting on the web. We just can’t have that!

This diarist, Fishgrease, spent 30 years in the oil extraction business. He takes us to ‘boom school’. 

“Generally, boom is long and bright bright orange or yellow. It is not bright bright orange or yellow so you can see it, dear fledgling boomer, but so Governors, Senators, Presidents and The Media can see it . . . “

“Boom is not meant to contain or catch oil. Boom is meant to divert oil. Boom must always be at an angle to the prevailing wind-wave action or surface current. Boom, at this angle, must always be layered in a fucking overlapped sort-of way with another string of boom. Boom must always divert oil to a catch basin or other container*, from where it can be REMOVED FROM THE FUCKING AREA.” (* I have never heard this mentioned. If it’s true, they are truly wasting time.)

And he knows. And, sadly, he then says this (he really likes to say ‘fuck’):

“Now the Coast Guard? They know booming. They know what fucking proper fucking booming looks like. Coast Guard commandant, Adm. Thad Allen should be fired. Today. Now. This minute. Before he can give another press conference echoing what BP said not five minutes before him. Then he should be fucking court-martialed and fucking sent to prison before BP can give him a goddamned fucking job. He’s a shameless piece of shit. And so is President Obama if he can’t see that. People who know me and how I’ve supported our President through thick and thin, know how hard it was for me to write that. I’m literally on the verge of tears, right this second. But I won’t erase it. There it is.”

I agree that the Obama administration should be presenting a more coherent face on this. And I evaluate everything with the knowledge that no President in my lifetime has faced such a mess coming into office. I’m sure fixing Minerals and Mining didn’t make it to the top of the list; so many agencies needed cleaning up at the staff level. And so many top jobs weren’t filled in a timely fashion because some friggin’ Republican Senator or other had a hold on the nomination.

Let’s not forget – ever – that two oil executives occupied the White House for eight years. They declawed the regulatory agencies and put in people from the extraction industries. When the investigations gain some steam, it’s going to be ugly. But I’m sure Dick Cheney will still come on my teevee to blast Obama for something.

Bet ole Cheney is too busy perfecting his sour scowl to notice it’s the 230th day of the ninth year of the War in Afghanistan.

(When you think about the cost of oil, remember to count the cost of war.)

Fingers in the dike

This is just tragic. People will work their hearts out to stop the disaster – until their hearts break. And two people trying to skim water from a slick the size of Maryland breaks my heart. Is there no end to what we will do to ourselves? Will we ever accept that we need to change our ways?

On The News Hour right now, Judy Woodruff is interviewing  Bob Duddly of BP who is in charge of North American operations (if I heard the intro right). He seems very chastened and is not posturing – when Woodruff asks for conjecture or projections, he is pretty clear he just doesn’t know. But he did make one definitive statement right now – he said he felt very certain that they would have the well capped by August.  She then asked him if other states are in danger. He hesitated for a few seconds, and then he just said “we hope not.”

What I’m hearing from this guy is August if we’re lucky. Even if this week’s procedure works, that doesn’t end it – the well must still be capped.

Duddly said that this is without question the very worst they’ve ever had to deal with.

His demeanor frightened me. And nobody has asked about hurricanes in the Gulf – and there will be hurricanes.

Wells and borders – both leaking

There’s a story in the NY Times this morning about Gov. Jindal of Louisiana threatening that if the Feds don’t make more progress protecting his State from the leaking oil in the Gulf, Louisiana will take matters into its own hands. (Exactly what that could mean from a State as poor as Louisiana is a little fuzzy.)

How different is this from Arizona’s actions re immigration? Both result from inadequate Federal response to national problems. Both are usurpations of Federal authority, where law clearly assigns that authority to the Federal government?


Oil? Sara? That’s easy – Sara wins.

What does it take to push the Gulf Oil disaster off the front pages? Sara Ferguson is what it takes; a second tier ex-princess selling access on video. (Not cheap either.)

The Gulf oil has apparently begun to bore. NOAA isn’t bored; they’re devoting huge resources and run a valuable ‘breaking news’ service on their website.

From the Associated Press yesterday, via NOAA:

Cleaning oil-soaked wetlands may be impossible, scientists say

The gooey oil washing into the maze of marshes along the Gulf Coast could prove impossible to remove, leaving a toxic stew lethal to fish and wildlife, government officials and independent scientists said.

Officials are considering some drastic and risky solutions: They could set the wetlands on fire or flood areas in hopes of floating out the oil.

But they warn an aggressive cleanup could ruin the marshes and do more harm than good. The only viable option for many impacted areas is to do nothing and let nature break down the spill.

Amongst the troops in Afghanistan, there must be many from the Gulf region. I wonder do they devote time to philosophical examination of which is the real existential threat to our nation:  a devastating economic and environmental disaster endangering three American States, or the ongoing escalation of blood and treasure in our new Vietnam. Do they ever wonder just exactly what it means  to ‘keep America safe’?

Probably not, because they’re otherwise engaged  the the 228th day of the ninth year of the War in Afghanistan.

Oil and water and Mr. Limbaugh of Palm Beach

Mr. Bouncy Bouncy is most put out with the nature of the President’s response to the Gulf spill. I think he wants Obama to grab some paper towels and head to Louisiana.

Now today, it’s looking more and more that the oil could get into the loop current and affect the east coast of Florida. And that’s where the always-on-a-diet one lives. That oil might even lap up on the private beach of Mr. Limbaugh of Palm Beach just as he’s planning his fourth marriage. That’s stressful. So maybe when Obama is done in Louisiana he  can scoot over to help with the mop up at Mr. Limbaugh’s place.

This is what we worry about

If the loop current brings the oil east and south to the Florida Straits, the damage would be tragic. The Everglades drain there and it’s also  where our precious and already-threatened coral is. Coral reefs all over the world are threatened, and the ones here have been ‘bleaching out’, i.e., losing their brilliant colors, a sign of poor health.

The graphic above shows the overall projected path. But that doesn’t leave the beaches of southwest Florida off the hook. If that stuff moves east, we are in great danger – perhaps not from the majority of the oil, but some of it. And any oil is very bad thing for estuaries and wetlands.

Add the possibility of churning water and circular currents if there’s a hurricane – very worrisome. Damn them.

UPDATE: I got the graphic here.  From the story:

“She is particularly concerned about corals because they are “under siege from multiple sources, including human sewage, metal pollution, and of course they are dealing with issues from global climate change including warming and ocean acidification.”  See for instance, “Nature Geoscience study: Oceans are acidifying 10 times faster today than 55 million years ago when a mass extinction of marine species occurred.”

“We could be getting to the point that puts coral over the edge,” in terms of its long-term survival, she warned.”

Oil and water. And fire.

I noted in a post on Earth Day that forty years ago, before today’s environmental laws were enacted, we actually had a few lakes on fire in this country – something that hasn’t happened since.

In an unusual twist on that, the Coast Guard is about to set controlled fires in the Gulf of Mexico to try to burn up the oil spill which is now threatening very sensitive lands and fisheries in Louisiana.  At this point, the slick is within 20 miles of land.

I’ve never heard of this before. It’s fascinating. Listening to a discussion on PBS right now and it’s a very very delicate matter and the entire program, of which the burn is only a part, could take many many months.

UPDATE:  Just heard the slick is now three miles from land. Everyone – from the Coast Guard to the Army to BP and the other oil companies is getting involved to try to contain this – it’s far worse than originally reported, up to 5000 barrels a day now – not gallons, barrels! The wind direction is still keeping it from being a threat to Florida, but that could change.

Oil. Obama. What he did. What he said.

From candidate Obama in 2008:

ORLANDO, Florida (CNN) – Barack Obama said Friday that he would be willing to compromise on his position against offshore oil drilling if it were part of a more overarching strategy to lower energy costs.

“My interest is in making sure we’ve got the kind of comprehensive energy policy that can bring down gas prices,” Obama told The Palm Beach Post early into a two-day swing through Florida.

“If, in order to get that passed, we have to compromise in terms of a careful, well thought-out drilling strategy that was carefully circumscribed to avoid significant environmental damage – I don’t want to be so rigid that we can’t get something done,” Obama said.

He later said he didn’t believe that drilling would bring down oil prices in the short run after all. But he never changed his mind about being willing to do some drilling if it were part of an overall strategy.

This newest announcement doesn’t mean he’s caving or trying to make deals with Republicans – because Repubs aren’t the people he has to negotiate with on this one. It’s the energy sector. It’s the guys who met with Cheney. That’s the crowd he’s working.

Having just watched the 12-month health care roll out, I choose patience on this one.

Something I didn’t know

Hard to believe of course. Here’s something I didn’t know:

” . . . it’s notable that despite the claims that all these revelations have seriously damaged the public’s confidence in “climate science,” 54 percent of voters in Republican pollster Frank Luntz’s poll, released on January 21, 2010, believed that climate change is either “definitely” or “probably” occurring, compared with just 18 percent who believed that it is “definitely” or “probably” not occurring. An even larger majority, 63 percent, say they believe climate change is likely caused by humans. So far, at least, the skeptics have lost the larger battle, despite the irresponsible reporting of it in the media.”

From Eric Alterman’s column at American Progress, which I recommend to anyone interested in a reporter’s examination of the issue, the coverage and the known facts. Alterman is primarily a media critic, so go there just for the fun of it. When observing the state of today’s media, he’s kind of  Jon Stewart as an academic, with glasses and a beard. More serious, but just as biting. He’s at The Nation too.