"Rob the Rubbish"

November 29, 2006 at 9:54 pm
Contributed by:

Folks,

Check out this positive example. “Rob the Rubbish” is cleaning up the world, starting with his street, in his town–the smallest town in Britain, home to the famous World Bog Snorkeling Championships, Man v Horse Marathon and the Real Ale Wobble.

Robin Kevan (61), a retired social worker, hails from Llanwrtyd Wells, Powys, in Wales. He likes to walk, and hates seeing trash about. His wife got tired of hearing him complain about it and told him to do something about it then, or shut up. So he did. Starting around 5 am, every day, by himself, and for himself.

But eventually his local efforts caught attention, and then began to snowball. He recently returned from a trip to Everest, along with a sizable entourage, to clean up the trail and the base camp. He has other such trips in the works, and was recently featured on the BBC program “One Planet.”

All because he started picking up the trash around his little town.

Check him out: http://www.robtherubbish.com/

You can listen to the show about him right now at the One Planet BBC web site, but I don’t know if it will be archived.

Rob’s “tidying up” is a great example, not only of how one person’s effort really can make a difference, but also of how truly interconnected the world is. You tug on one string–even on one street, by yourself, unnoticed in the pre-dawn, in the smallest town in the U.K.–and you tug on the whole world.

—C

CFR Report: National Security Consequences of Oil Dependency

November 27, 2006 at 8:16 pm
Contributed by:

Folks,

The Council on Foreign Relations has issued a new report entitled “National Security Consequences of Oil Dependency.” I think this is a hugely important development, despite having heard nothing about it in the news. The CFR is one of the most powerful and serious bodies in the world, and has a huge influence on the world’s leaders. The CFR task force who wrote the report was chaired by two former CIA directors, James Schlesinger and John Deutch. (You may have come across similar efforts by another former CIA Director, James Woolsey, who has made national energy security his personal ambition.)

To my pleasant surprise, the task force has come to the correct conclusion: that we have only one choice, which is to power down.

Here’s an excerpt from the foreword (emphasis mine):

The Council on Foreign Relations established an Independent Task
Force to examine the consequences of dependence on imported energy
for U.S. foreign policy. Since the United States both consumes and
imports more oil than any other country, the Task Force has concentrated
its deliberations on matters of petroleum. In so doing, it reaches
a sobering but inescapable judgment: the lack of sustained attention to
energy issues is undercutting U.S. foreign policy and national security.

The Task Force goes on to argue that U.S. energy policy has
been plagued by myths, such as the feasibility of achieving ‘‘energy
independence’’ through increased drilling or anything else
. For the
next few decades, the challenge facing the United States is to become
better equipped to manage its dependencies rather than pursue the
chimera of independence.

The issues at stake intimately affect U.S. foreign policy, as well as
the strength of the American economy and the state of the global
environment. But most of the leverage potentially available to the
United States is through domestic policy
. Thus, the Independent Task
Force devotes considerable attention to how oil consumption (or at
least the growth in consumption) can be reduced and why and how
energy issues must become better integrated with other aspects of U.S.
foreign policy.

Fortunately, they have made the entire 90-page report available for download, for free, along with their charts in a PowerPoint file:

National Security Consequences of Oil Dependency

The Council on Foreign Relations Independent Task Force

John Deutch and James R. Schlesinger, Chairs

October 2006

Serious reading. If any of you actually read the whole thing, please write me to discuss.

–C

Head for the Hills – The New Survivalists

November 27, 2006 at 4:01 pm
Contributed by:

Folks,

I’m going to start featuring some of the positive things that are going on in the world, in response to peak oil and our other ills. Here’s the first, an article from Australia about some of the things folks down under are doing to relocalize their communities. I think these are fascinating case studies, and instructive examples for all of us. These are regular folks, just like you and me, who are struggling to define sustainability and community, and figure out the best way forward. An excerpt:

While researching this story, I spoke to 18 people who were changing their lives in preparation for big trouble up ahead. Not one of them sounded like a nut job – not to me, anyway. Five of them were scientists, three were engineers and five were in IT.

They weren’t treechangers or seachangers, although sometimes they might have portrayed themselves as such so as not to look like loons. I sure hope they’re wrong, but in the months that this story was in gestation, I bought two chooks and planted some fruit trees. Hey, it can’t hurt.

Check it! And while you’re at Relocalize.net, check out what others are doing in communities near you. Then join or start a group, and pitch in!

–C

Head for the hills – the new survivalists

Mark Whittaker, The Weekend Australian Magazine, News Limited, 18 November 2006

Oil Safari – A Travelogue of Addiction

November 27, 2006 at 1:42 pm
Contributed by:

Folks,

Paul Salopek’s outstanding Chicago Tribune article about oil from earlier this summer (“A Tank Of Gas, A World Of Trouble”) has been developed into a video documentary. This is great stuff, check it out and forward it to your friends & family, esp. those who aren’t yet up to speed.

Follow this link and then click on “Watch Documentary”: Oil Safari – A Travelogue of Addiction

Bravo, again, to the Chicago Trib for its standout coverage on energy!

–C

Halliburton Sweeps Project Censored’s Top 25 Stories

November 22, 2006 at 2:20 pm
Contributed by:

Folks,

I’m taking a brief respite from energy coverage today, to bring you this item by popular demand.

For 30 years, Sonoma State University has compiled an annual list of important stories that were ignored (or censored) by the mainstream media. Their “Top 25 Censored Stories of 2007” list has been published, and it has a few real doozies in it. (Why they’re calling it the list for 2007, I don’t know.)

The ones that caught my eye, and that of an alert reader, were the three Halliburton stories. Let me excerpt some key points:

  • as recently as January of 2005, Halliburton sold key components for a nuclear reactor to an Iranian oil development company
  • throughout 2004 and 2005, Halliburton worked closely with Cyrus Nasseri, the vice chairman of the board of directors of Iran-based Oriental Oil Kish, to develop oil projects in Iran. Nasseri is also a key member of Iran’s nuclear development team. Nasseri was interrogated by Iranian authorities in late July 2005 for allegedly providing Halliburton with Iran’s nuclear secrets. Iranian government officials charged Nasseri with accepting as much as $1 million in bribes from Halliburton for this information.
  • It was [Dick] Cheney who directed Halliburton toward aggressive business dealings with Iran—in violation of U.S. law—in the mid-1990s, which continued through 2005 and is the reason Iran has the capability to enrich weapons-grade uranium.
  • When I asked Wendy Hall, a spokeswoman for Halliburton, a couple of years ago if Halliburton would stop doing business with Iran because of concerns that the company helped fund terrorism she said, “No.”
  • Halliburton’s subsidiary KBR (formerly Kellogg, Brown and Root) announced on January 24, 2006 that it had been awarded a $385 million contingency contract by the Department of Homeland Security to build detention camps in the United States.
  • Vice President Dick Cheney’s stock options in Halliburton rose from $241,498 in 2004 to over $8 million in 2005, an increase of more than 3,000 percent, as Halliburton continues to rake in billions of dollars from no-bid/no-audit government contracts.

Man, it’s gotta be great to be Dick Cheney. You get to flaunt US law and make millions selling weapons to your enemy, and you get to keep your job as CEO. Then, as Vice President of the country, you get to gin up support for wars against your clients, shovel no-bid contracts to your former company, and build secret detention centers to sequester your opponents when things get out of hand. And you never have to answer to anybody, and make millions on all of it. What a gig!

Feel sick yet?

Well, don’t. If none of this is worthy of coverage by the mainstream media, then clearly, it’s not important.

Here are the top 25 headlines. Read the Project Censored report for the full stories.

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

–C#1 Future of Internet Debate Ignored by Media

#2 Halliburton Charged with Selling Nuclear Technologies to Iran

#3 Oceans of the World in Extreme Danger

#4 Hunger and Homelessness Increasing in the US

#5 High-Tech Genocide in Congo

#6 Federal Whistleblower Protection in Jeopardy

#7 US Operatives Torture Detainees to Death in Afghanistan and Iraq

#8 Pentagon Exempt from Freedom of Information Act

#9 The World Bank Funds Israel-Palestine Wall

#10 Expanded Air War in Iraq Kills More Civilians

#11 Dangers of Genetically Modified Food Confirmed

#12 Pentagon Plans to Build New Landmines

#13 New Evidence Establishes Dangers of Roundup

#14 Homeland Security Contracts KBR to Build Detention Centers in the US

#15 Chemical Industry is EPA’s Primary Research Partner

#16 Ecuador and Mexico Defy US on International Criminal Court

#17 Iraq Invasion Promotes OPEC Agenda

#18 Physicist Challenges Official 9-11 Story

#19 Destruction of Rainforests Worst Ever

#20 Bottled Water: A Global Environmental Problem

#21 Gold Mining Threatens Ancient Andean Glaciers

#22 $Billions in Homeland Security Spending Undisclosed

#23 US Oil Targets Kyoto in Europe

#24 Cheney’s Halliburton Stock Rose Over 3000 Percent Last Year

#25 US Military in Paraguay Threatens Region

Debunking the Debunkers

November 21, 2006 at 12:00 am
Contributed by: Chris

Folks,

Last week, we were treated to another dose of don’t-worry medicine by our favorite “purveyors of petro-prozac,” Daniel Yergin and Peter Jackson of CERA.
(more…)

Earthaven

November 20, 2006 at 11:50 pm
Contributed by:

I loved this recent story from the Washington Post, about an intentional community in North Carolina called Earthaven. It’s a next-generation approach to some of the same ideals that drove the communes of the 60s, only with a peak oil motivation, more professionals and retirees, and a more entrepreneurial, business-savvy approach. As these folks attest, it’s an ongoing challenge to make it work, and they haven’t achieved true sustainability yet. But you gotta love the effort. I believe that groups such as these will serve as very useful models for other communities as they prepare to powerdown and relocalize.


Another Way

By Joel Achenbach

The Washington Post, Sunday, November 19, 2006

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/11/14/AR2006111400979.html

Fresh Corpses, or Why Cellulosic Ethanol Will Not Save Us

November 9, 2006 at 11:49 am
Contributed by: Chris

Folks,

Today, like many of you no doubt, I am breathing a sigh of relief, rubbing my eyes and feeling like I’m waking up from a long national nightmare. Just as I was about to lose faith entirely in the American people, they went to the polls and threw the bums out. The hatemongers like Santorum, the corrupt friends of Jack Abramoff, the unscrupulous figures who would sooner protect a fellow Congressman than an underage teen…all got their comeuppance. And we even got the resignation of Rummy to boot. The do-nothing 109th Congress has been roundly chastised, and maybe now we can get back to the serious business at hand…like obsessing over the divorce of Brit and K-Fed.

Although there was much about the midterm election to be happy about, California’s Prop 87 was defeated. So we now must begin again to try to shape public policy to develop alternative liquid fuels and reduce our consumption of petroleum.

Or should we? Dr. Tadeusz “Tad” Patzek, Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering at UC Berkeley, says the expectations around cellulosic ethanol are greatly overblown and, indeed, influenced by politics. At the invitation of Venture Beat, an online blog/journal of Silicon Valley venture capitalists, Dr. Patzek responded to some of the claims about ethanol made by Vinod Khosla in arguing for Prop 87. His response is worth studying, and his questions at the end deserve to be asked and considered. Clearly, he does not believe there is any sort of techno-fix in the offing, and instead asks us to reconsider how and why we use energy, and how we can reduce our consumption. Check it out.

–C

(more…)

CA Prop 87: One Step in the Right Direction

November 2, 2006 at 1:29 pm
Contributed by:

Folks,

 

Last night I
attended a Prop 87 rally at the San Francisco Civic Center plaza, featuring
President Bill Clinton, among others. His speech was typical Bill: clear,
direct, confident, articulate, yet plain-spoken. After six years of listening to
Bush mumble and stumble and mangle the English language while saying nothing, it
was like a cool drink of water to a man
dying of thirst. I didn’t realize how much I had missed him.

 

An excerpt of the speech (looks like it was recorded on a cellphone)
can be seen on You Tube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-YhDaZ6SXQ

 

It was a short
speech, but I think it got to the heart of what Prop 87 is about, and why we
need to support it. He exposed the tactics of Prop 87 opponents as “trying to
make the perfect the enemy of the good” and pointed out that “It’s the oldest
trick in the book.” He quoted Machiavelli from 600 years
ago:


There is
nothing so difficult in human affairs than to change the established order of
things, because those who will be hurt by the change are quite certain of
their loss, while those who will benefit are uncertain of their
gain.

[Ed. Note: I believe this is actually a paraphrasing of the following quote, from a bit less than 500 years ago:

There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.

– Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, 1532 ]



“We’re not going to
fall for a 600-year-old trick,” he said. The important thing is to make some
progress on our oil addiction problem, even imperfectly. I couldn’t agree more.
He pointed to the example of Brazil, and how they have displaced 40% of their
oil consumption with domestically grown biofuels, and attacked the Bush
adminstration’s withdrawl from the Kyoto accords on global warming. Pointing out
that the benefits of the effort include more “green” jobs, clean air, reduced
health costs, etc., he said pointedly: “This is a good deal for you.” California
has a “golden opportunity” to lead the world, he said, and “I’m sick and tired
of America being the caboose” on the train to the future. “This is a
no-brainer…except for that 600 year old trick.”

 

Big Oil has spent
$100 million to fight Prop 87. Doesn’t that, alone, tell you something?

 

Bill is right. We
have no time left to dither and wait for the perfect solutions to our problems.
We must seize this moment, roll up our sleeves, and start making some tracks in
the right direction. Doing nothing, or maintaining the status quo, is not an
option. We’re already out of time, behind the 8 ball, and we desperately need a
serious effort on the ground right now to start weaning us off of
oil.

 

One more
observation I’ll make about Prop 87: its opponents claim that it is a recipe for
further government waste, or even a handout to the ethanol industry (Vinod
Khosla’s team, and Pacfic Ethanol in particular). To that I say, big deal.
That’s no different than pretty much every government incentive I can think
of. And yet, no opponent has even attempted to address the
possible benefits of Prop 87, including cleaning up our air and water for
ourselves and future generations, reduced health care costs ($20 billion
annually) for things like athsma, sending less money to unstable Islamic regimes
who wish to do us ill, and building true domestic security by providing for our
own fuel needs. In other words, ignore the
cake, and worry about the icing.

 

How can anyone
weigh the public good benefits
against possible mismanagement of funds,
and conclude that the risk is too
great
? This is our environment, our lives, and our prosperity that we’re talking about.

 

And as for the
argument that levying a new $4 billion tax, over ten years, on oil producers in
California will raise gas prices, believe me, that’s the least of factors to
worry about. The effect of this tax on a globally traded commodity that trades 85 million barrels per day will be negligible, and will ultimately be totally eclipsed by peak oil anyway. The worst thing that could happen would be for the California oil producers to decide to leave more of it in the ground, for now, and buy it from elsewhere more cheaply, which would actually be a good thing. And in the domestic oil industry, which in aggregate earns $78
billion in profits annually, where just one of the big oil
companies (ExxonMobil) clears a $10
billion profit every quarter, $4 billion over 10 years is nothing.
Nothing! But it could make all the difference in making California a leader for
our children, for the common good, and for the right.

 

If you live in
California, please support Prop 87.

 

–C

 


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