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Showing posts from April, 2013

Europe Gets It Right

April 29, 2013 – Today was a good day.Today the European Commission voted to ban the use of a class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids for two years. Fifteen countries voted for the ban, which is not enough to constitute a “qualified majority.”That’s the reason for the ban’s two year duration. The moratorium applies to all member nations of the European Union, and England, and will begin no later than December 1 of this year.It does not apply to crops that do not attract bees, or to winter crops.Because it is the seed that is treated, the sale and use of seeds – primarily of corn, soy and canola - are prohibited.Furthermore, none of this type of pesticide can be sold to amateur growers. Back in January, the European Food Safety Authority issued a statement regarding the unacceptability of neonicotinoids because of the danger they pose to bees.Research has found that these pesticides impair bees’ ability to navigate, forage, and communicate; disturb their procreative rhythms, weaken …

Beyond the Tipping Point

April 25, 2013 - In the world as we presently know it, the truth seems to sneak up on us.Media of every description trumpet their version of reality, and after hearing it long enough and often enough, it becomes as familiar as an old sweater. Yes, there’s a niggling at the back of the brain that asks “But what about A, B, or C?”That question, along with so many others, never gets asked – or answered – in the media, and that is supposed to help us forget our doubts.Time passes, doubts fade away to nothing, then all of a sudden – there it is!THAT’S what we thought all long.The truth has snuck up on us once again. Such, I would contend, is the case with the story of renewable energy.HA! says the fossil fuel industry.They can never catch up with us.We have all those lovely government subsidies, people love to drive all those gas-guzzling cars, we are the most profitable business in the world.Consumers don’t care about breathing clean air, they care about ease and convenience. So they say, …

When All Else Fails

April 22, 2013 – Climate change is forcing new international partnerships.It’s funny, when we’ve run out of choices and find that the only option left is getting along, we not only do so - we find it works to everybody’s benefit.While the first example might seem to be simply a business arrangement, I would argue there’s far more than money to be gained.
Chances are you’ve heard at least mutterings about the possibility of solar arrays being established in North Africa so that the resulting electricity can be sold, in part, to Europe.In fact, European investors have gotten well past the muttering stage.So have the North African countries interested in bringing their populations into the 21st century.Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia enjoy endless sunshine. It could ultimately reward them and their European backers with endless electricity.Morocco and Tunisia are in the process of building plants, and Morocco operates an electrical connection to Spain.
The technology needed in …

The Numbers Tell the Story

April 15, 2013 - Bill McKibben’s brilliant article in the Rolling Stone of April 11 was not just thought provoking, it was right on target.Entitled “The Fossil Fuel Resistance,” McKibben details why the laughter of oil industry barons rings a bit hollow these days.There’s so much good information to be found in McKibben’s latest call-to-arms, I’m going to give it the fine-tooth comb treatment it deserves. “My philosophy is to make money.”Rex Tillerson’s obscenely redundant declaration followed his announced intention, as CEO of ExxonMobil, to more than double the acreage over which his company is exploring for fossil fuel. (Isn’t there something about that word “fossil” that’s just so inadvertently accurate, that describes Tillerson and his fellow old-white-guys-who- honor-the-almighty-dollar-more-than-their-mothers with an achingly awful degree of precision?)He elaborated contemptuously that renewable energy would account for just one percent of American energy by 2040.Plainly he has …

What's in the Budget?

April 11, 2013 – The budget that the President sent to Congress yesterday would reduce the deficit to 2.8% of GDP by 2016.Further predictions are made about reductions in 2023, but we all know that’s meaningless.The point I’d like to make here is that the President continues to try to work with Republicans in decreasing the deficit, which would be of benefit to us all.Setting that mutual goal aside, the similarities between the President’s budget and the Republican budget pretty much end there.The R’s are already staking out their territory on the evening news, a dishearteningly familiar strategy. Whether or not the President’s budget is DOA remains to be seen.Let’s take a look at it. First and perhaps foremost, the President proposes to make the tax credit for renewable energy production permanent.This should be more than offset by the retraction of oil industry subsidies.His budget also proposes clean energy research and development.There is a “race to the top” challenge, intended to…

It's About Humility and Gratitude

April 8, 2013 – Today’s article will not be everybody’s cup of tea.This particular pot has been brewing for quite some time, however, and I’m realizing that if I don’t say anything, I’m not being faithful to the person I am.Comments are always welcome; share your reaction, if you care to. Perhaps it’s people’s lack of imagination that perplexes me, at least in part.But no – that’s fudging.If I’m going to be honest with you – and I am – it’s people’s faith in anything but God that has me stymied.Here we are, in the hottest water (hmm, this tea theme seems to have a life of its own) humanity has ever gotten themselves into, but we still fail to see how destructive and chaotic climate change will eventually become.We talk about nature, as if It were the thing in charge.Nature does not love us, even when we fail.Nature is not determined that we will learn our lesson, no matter how many times we fail.Nature does not wreak havoc-with-a-purpose. Here’s the rub: nature is only a tool. God is t…

More than Meets the Eye

April 4, 2013 – It was years ago that I heard James Hansen quoted as saying that if the KXL pipeline were built and utilized, it was “game over” for our planet.Like so many, I nodded vaguely and murmured the appropriate comments – probably “oh my gosh, this is just awful.”My acceptance of his assertion was based on my belief in his expertise, and on the pictures of environmental destruction coming out of Alberta.Let me hasten to add, I still think he’s right.But I didn’t understand why he was right, not really.Not until yesterday, thanks to the rupture of the Exxon Mobil Pegasus pipeline in Arkansas.
Here it is, friends.The Crux of the Matter, the Meat of the Issue:
It is impossible to move tar sands oil safely.
Spend a moment taking that all in.There’s a lot there, though only nine words are required to speak the whole truth.Once you’ve accepted the full import of those words, we’ll talk about the why.Need I add that the entire Keystone project is based on wishful thinking?Coming up wit…

April Means Gardening

April 1, 2013 – I was going to try to force myself to write about the new EPA emissions rules, but I just can’t get my mind off gardening.It’s April – tra la!Warm weather simply has to show up soon – hurrah!Eager young sprouts will magically burst forth from the earth, which will get on with her business of sustaining life - in spite of us.Better to work with her, on the side of life.The glories to be savored are endless.And as usual, there’s plenty to be done! April is clean-up time, first and foremost.Trimming, pruning, pulling early weeds.My husband left the grass way too long last fall, and I’m getting the distinct impression he thinks we should go ahead and fertilize, without cutting away the thatch first.A word about my husband: he hates yard work.A word about fertilizing: I use an integrated pest management approach.Two years out of three, I use organic methods that encourage green grass and hinder weed survival.By the third year, the weeds are winning, so I break down and use a…