Saturday, May 8, 2010

Earth Day everyday... or not...

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“The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope.”

- Wendell Berry
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This blogpost was inspired by an answer to a question I asked my daughter...

"So, what did the high school do for earth day?"

Exasperatedly she said "Nothing... I think only one other kid and I even knew it was earth day."

Really? In a world filled with information highways everywhere - from expressways to dial-up, backwater dirt roads - one would think that some attention is warranted and earth bound beings would relish the chance to take one day a year and celebrate and exclaim their reverence for the source of all the plastic googaws we've surrounded ourselves with. Oh yeah, and stuff like food, the air we breath, the water we drink. Yes? No?

Is this earth, our water planet, our big blue ball spinning in space, an irrelevance? Has the modern world forsaken it's most basic needs as civilization slides into a stupor of ever deepening mediocrity and failure?

I've been doing some focused reading this morning. Wondering about things like, oh... the environment, global climate change and what the future holds for my kids and the coming generations.

I'm no dummy, I may not be the brightest bulb in the marquee but I'm smart enough to know that earth's climate changes cyclically and sometimes dramatically in short periods. That great shifts in our land masses often occur, that volcanoes can erupt and spew enough debris into the air to cause years long changes to global weather patterns.

Volcanoes and Climate Change (NASA)

When Mount Pinatubo erupted in the Philippines June 15, 1991, an estimated 20 million tons of sulfur dioxide and ash particles blasted more than 12 miles (20 km) high into the atmosphere. The eruption caused widespread destruction and loss of human life. Gases and solids injected into the stratosphere circled the globe for three weeks. Volcanic eruptions of this magnitude can impact global climate, reducing the amount of solar radiation reaching the Earth's surface, lowering temperatures in the troposphere, and changing atmospheric circulation patterns.




I'm just sayin'...

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Mat Latos update...

Mat's had a bit of a rough go. After pitching 6 hit ball over 7 innings and (or was it 7 hit ball after 6 innings...?) and only allowing 2 runs against the Giants he went out and suffered two more losses, one where he allowed 4(?) homeruns.

But then the other night he pitched a game against the Houston Astros in which he went 8 innings and only allowed 2 hits, no runs and struck out 9. He's now won 2 and lost 3.

Keep focused Mat.

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Since I started writing this many days ago a few events have passed...

... and the first one I wanna mention is an anniversary that passed just the other day:



40 years ago Ohio Nat'l Guardsmen shot 13 students at Kent State University - yes, we shoot our own. While we citizens may shoot each other that's one thing, but when a government shoots its citizens that's an entirely different disorder, one we shouldn't tolerate. Ever. (for more on this theme, see the last part of this post)

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Another incident of note - just a minor issue - is the slight mishap that just happened in the Gulf of Mexico with one of BP's oil platforms. You know, that rig that blew up killing several humans and certainly destined to kill millions of other life forms living in the warm waters of the gulf.

Some reading material:

BP has long record of legal, ethical violations - Paul Sabin, May 7, in the Kansas City Star

In the Gulf of Mexico, BP and its drilling contractor, Transocean Ltd., chose not to install a $500,000 remote-control shut-off switch that might have contained the recent spill from BP's well. Norway has required these switches since 1993. The U.S. Minerals Management Service considered a similar requirement several years ago, but the oil industry killed off the proposal. And so, but for $500,000, we probably have billions of dollars in liability and cleanup expenses in the Gulf, plus a long-term threat to the livelihoods and ecology of the region that we can't yet quantify.

Cutting corners to keep down costs is an age-old business strategy, from coal mines to sweatshops and the dumping of hazardous wastes. The history of these oil spills makes clear, however, that when it leads to a disaster, cost cutting becomes a bad corporate bet.
[emphasis mine - ae]

Reuters: Special report: Will the cleanup make the BP oil spill worse?

A close examination of studies of the Exxon Valdez disaster and interviews with many people who took part in the cleanup offers a possible peek into what lies ahead for the Gulf Coast in the coming weeks, months, years -- and perhaps decades. Indeed, by one estimate, about 21,000 gallons of oil still linger on some of Alaska's beaches, often in the form of dark brown globs just beneath the rocks.

What's more, there are still some experts who argue that the aggressive cleanup following the Exxon Valdez spill proved more harmful than the oil itself. That continuing debate points to another potential cautionary tale about how conflicts among various groups looking to make things right can end up hampering cleanup efforts.


So... how big a disaster is the BP Deepwater spill?

How big is the Deepwater Horizon oil spill? (BBC News)

In terms of lives lost (11 workers died in the rig explosion), financial cost and environmental damage, the Deepwater Horizon incident is clearly serious. But it is not one of the world's largest spills in terms of size alone.

In fact, based on the estimate above, it would not register in the largest 50 single incident, offshore oil spills that have occurred worldwide. Even the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill - despite the controversy and coverage - is not in the top 10.

However the potential for damage caused by Deepwater Horizon is apparent when looking at the events of June 1979 in the Bay of Campeche, also in the Gulf of Mexico.

In that spill, the exploratory oil well Ixtoc 1 suffered a blowout and wasn't capped until more than nine months later, having released 461,000 tonnes of oil in total.


To my mind it is not a matter of size - though of course size does matter - but the size of the impact of this on an already stressed and strained environment and a damaged and not yet repaired social landscape.

New Orleans and the rest of the US gulf coast still haven't recovered from Hurricane Katrina and now this. Fortunately... lord save us... we have former head of FEMA Michael Brown to look to in order that we are given some sane perspective on this recent mess:

This week in crazy: Michael Brown

"Now you're looking at this oil slick approaching, you know, the Louisiana shore, according to certain -- NOAA and other places, if the winds are right, it will go up the East Coast," Brown said. "This is exactly what they want, because now he can pander to the environmentalists and say, 'I'm going to shut it down because it's too dangerous,' while Mexico and China and everybody else drills in the Gulf. We're going to get shut down."


What the heck is a bit of oil and an entire region's economy compared to stopping the evil liberals in their tracks?!

I mean please... it's the whole of the liberal-conservative blame game summed up in a nutshell (and I do mean nut). No disaster is so big that it can't be made small and cheap and trivialized and used for political gain. C'mon Brownie, just shut up. Asshat...

Funny too (not) that the oil industry and it's associated industries can be involved in a disaster we here in the states just don't hear about:

Activist: Farmer suicides in India linked to debt, globalization

"The farmer suicides started in 1997. That's when the corporate seed control started," Vandana Shiva told CNN's Christiane Amanpour. "And it's directly related to indebtedness, and indebtedness created by two factors linked to globalization."

-snip-

An estimated 200,000 farmers have taken their own lives in India over the past 13 years, according to Indian government statistics.

"The combination is unpayable debt, and it's the day the farmer is going to lose his land for chemicals and seeds, that is the day the farmer drinks pesticide," Shiva said. "And it's totally related to a negative economy, of an agriculture that costs more in production than the farmer can ever earn."


There is a pattern here... gross negligence, conspiracy among the corporate profiteers who capitalize on the good and the bad, for whom the deaths of the oil rig workers, the suicides of peasant farmers in India relates only to the balance in the corporate ledgers...

I'm sorry (not) but we, the people (of all colors, of all nations) are getting screwed. And there's no lovemaking to this, it is pure rape.

Corporations don't vote, corporations can't vote, but corporations sure can buy politicians at a level voters can't touch. (check out Max Baucus and his masterful and profitable work on behalf of the pharamaceutical and health care industry in the recent health care bill wranglings)

We truly do need to stop this behemoth of bureaucracy that seems to pander to everyone and every entity but those very people whom it is meant to serve...

And here is one last bit for you. This is a rather disturbing video (seriously), shot by police while raiding a home in Columbus, Missouri with the SWAT team, searching for cannabis:

This is but one example of why I believe the drug war (Prohibition II) is one of the most pernicious and slimy policies to ever eminate from our government - a position I can easily defend should anyone care to debate the issue with me. And if you haven't discovered Radley Balko before... hooboy... fasten your seat belt. Nobody is covering the plague of police home invasions like Radley. Is this really what we have become?

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“I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. Corporations have been enthroned, an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money-power of the country will endeavor to prolong it's reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until the wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.”

- Abraham Lincoln

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