Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Most Excellent: NeighborGoods - sharing stuff instead of buying

Here at LOVESalem HQ we've been mulling over trying to create a neighborhood-based tool exchange using a Googledocs spreadsheet . . . . But the universe was listening and sent this nifty tool our way. Like Freecycling only better, because you can share stuff that you want to keep instead of just giving it away. (Thanks to LOVESalem foreign correspondent Jeff N for the lead.)

Micki "Mickipedia" Krimmel's LA-based startup NeighborGoods.net launches nationwide throughout the USA today (before, the service was only available in Southern California). The big idea: borrow and lend stuff with your neighbors instead of buying things new. From Micki's launch announcement:

NeighborGoods.net offers a unique service by building upon the success of sites like Craiglist and Freecycle. Inspired by their ability to encourage re-use and keep waste out of landfills, NeighborGoods goes one step further to help people get more value out of stuff they actually want to keep. Members can safely borrow a lawnmower, lend a bicycle, or earn some extra money by renting a DVD collection. NeighborGoods is like Craigslist for borrowing. NeighborGoods provides all the tools to share safely and confidently including transparent user ratings and transaction histories, privacy controls, deposits, and automated calendars and reminders to ensure the safe return of loaned items.
Intro video embedded above, and available here on Vimeo.

A rerun worth returning to

Oil consumption in daily barrels per region fr...Notice that demand rises in oil exporting regions too -- so that even as global demand for imports rises, the producers keep more of their own production at home, causing the price of imports to climb even faster. Image via Wikipedia

Linked article is a repost, a nice reminder to return to now and then:
People who panic when they learn of peak oil see a terrible future for themselves and society. Although I didn’t panic when I first learned of peak oil, I did experience a feeling of dread. I looked into the future and saw the possibility of social turmoil and hunger. This seems to be a common reaction, and most people move through the experience in hours or days as they gradually see that the gloomy future is not inevitable.


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Monday, June 28, 2010

Graphs worth 1,000 words to the 1,000th power

So terribly telling. Via Jack Lohman.

Budget problems? What budget problems? Salem has money to burn

Mill Creek (Marion County, Oregon) in Salem, O...People of Salem: Gaze upon your future and despair, for your City Council lacks the courage to honestly assess our prospects and act accordingly. Thus, we will put into this creek, without paddles. Image via Wikipedia

You probably thought that all the pool closings and library hours and services cutbacks and the dismantlement of the Parks Dept. meant that Salem had a budget problem.

Oh Contrare, Mon Sewer, Salem's got money to burn. Remember, nothing's too good for the Consulting Class:

-Councilors are expected to approve an amendment to the existing Salem Willamette River Crossing intergovernmental agreement with the Oregon Department of Transportation. The purpose of modifying the agreement is to establish a cooperative effort to prepare an environmental impact statement that would help pinpoint a location for a third bridge over the Willamette River in Salem and to obligate funds to the project. The City initially contributed $200,000 to the project. That figure has since increased to $390,000.

Read more: http://www.statesmanjournal.com/article/20100628/NEWS/6280315/1103#ixzz0sAJF2w7Y
Every day, the Gusher in the Gulf spews millions more barrels of oil into the world ocean and the daemon powered by our addiction to oil grows more powerful and more vengeful. Every week, our capacity to maintain the carburban living arrangement declines yet further. And every month, the inescapable reality that we can't rely on reviving an oil-powered economy grows ever more unavoidable . . . except in Salem, where a powerful clique with representatives from the Oregon Highway Department (Motto: Cars Rule), Salem, Marion and Polk Counties, and the local council of governments get together to stick their fingers in their ears and shout "I can't hear you! I can't hear you!" at anyone who points out the manifold absurdities of planning for a third auto bridge even as usage of the other two is heading for a steep decline.

Alas, we're at the monumental stage now, that phase that collapsing societies pass through on their way to extinction. Just as the Mayans and Egyptians and countless other cultures did, we've reached the point where the folks in charge would rather see the whole thing come crashing down than change the habits that are leading to the collapse. After WWII ended, some South Pacific Islanders built airplanes and control towers out of bamboo, hoping that this absurd behavior would lure back the wealth of cargo that the war brought (hence, "cargo cults"). So too, large engineering contracting firms constantly whisper in officials' ears that that, if we just pour pavement like we did in the good old days, the good old days will return.

UPDATE: Today's Peak Oil Review (POR) has the second half of a good interview with Jeff Rubin that sheds some light on whether Salem needs a third auto bridge:
POR: Is there a growing number of economists who are getting the resource depletion story, or is it still business as usual?
Rubin: I think more economists are coming around. I can just see that from the number of economists who respond to my blog. I think what’s happening is that economists are beginning to realize that, yes, the supply curve—meaning, the higher the price of oil, the more oil we’ll find—has a big problem in that much of the new oil that we’ll find, like tar sands or deep water, we won’t be able to afford to burn. Economists’ responses will be that $150 oil will give us new forms of supply but that those prices will send a lot of motorists to the sidelines. Sure, we can produce 4 or 5 million barrels a day out of the Athabasca tar sands or Venezuela’s heavy oil, but the prices to produce it translate into $7-a-gallon gasoline. Can we really afford to burn that? They are starting to understand that depletion is more an economic term than a geologic term because we not going to hit the absolute limit of oil supply; as we’re keep drilling towards the bottom of the barrel, it’s going to get too expensive to bring out what’s left.
POR: Who in the oil industry gets peak oil?
Rubin: I think everybody gets peak oil in some sense because, you know, what’s BP doing drilling in a mile of water at the Macondo well, or planning to develop the Tiber field which is much deeper below the ocean floor? Or for that matter, what’s Suncor doing in the tar sands? We’re there because that’s all that’s left. They may not want to articulate it as peak oil, but their actions speak louder than their words. When you’re spending billions of dollars on new tar sands production where you need $90 to $100 a barrel to provide adequate economic returns on your investment, you can call it whatever you want but I call it peak oil.

They had a pilot project in Fort McMurray (Alberta) in 1920, so this is not a new discovery. Neither is the Orinoco. The only thing that’s new is that, not only are these seen as commercially viable sources of supply, but now a recent CERA report says these are going to be the single largest source of supply of US imports. What do you call that if it’s not peak oil?
POR: Speaking of CERA, Daniel Yergin wouldn’t call anything peak oil. If you had to pick the four horsemen of false oil optimism, the list would include Cambridge Energy Research Associates, the US EIA, OPEC, and a voice or two from industry — maybe BP and ExxonMobil. What’s going to make them change their tune so they don’t postpone acknowledgement of this looming reality?
Rubin: I’m not sure that it’s really going to matter what those folks think or say any more because those folks, especially CERA and the International Energy Agency, have lost so much credibility on this issue that I don’t think people are going to be terribly concerned about their view on oil supply.

They’ve been so patently out to lunch in the last five years about oil supply that I don’t think that’s where people are looking for such information.

I think that what’s happening in the Gulf of Mexico is bringing things into focus. Once Americans get over their initial rage at BP, they’re going to ask themselves the more fundamental question which is “why are we drilling a mile below the ocean floor?” The answer they’re going to get may not be called peak oil but for all intents and purposes that’s the answer they’re going to get. If the deepwater Gulf of Mexico was Plan A, and Plan A is now off the table, Plan B can only be one thing: consume less oil. You can call it peak oil, or you can call it $150 to $200 oil prices, but it basically all takes you to the same place—we’re to consume less. . . .
POR: Any comment on the Pickens plan and shale gas?
Rubin: Two comments. First of all, I think what’s happening in the Gulf is going to raise the environmental bar, not just for deep water but also for shale gas. There are a number of environmental issues surrounding shale gas drilling and we’re going to find that many jurisdictions may not be as open to shale gas development as the industry believes, particularly when it comes to contamination of ground water.

Secondly, we can substitute natural gas for oil for a whole lot of things, and we have. For furnaces, for power generation, as a feedstock for petrochemicals—we can make that substitution. But oil packs four times the energy density of natural gas and that’s why oil is our transport fuel. Yeah, there’s 130,000 natural-gas-powered vehicles in the United States, but out of a vehicle stock of 245 million, that’s not going to do the trick. So the Pickens plan doesn’t mean anything until we can use natural gas as a widespread transportation fuel, and we’re a long way off from doing that.

What I say about the Pickens plan is the same thing I say about growing corn to feed our gas tanks and a lot of other stuff; instead of learning how to turn cow shit into high-octane fuel, we have to learn how to get off the ropes. In other words, the adjustment has to be more on the demand side than on the supply side. I’m sure that’s not a message that North Americans want to hear, but it’s the message that $7-a-gallon gasoline will deliver loud and clear in the near future.
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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Another Smokin' Joe

Bageant, that is, not Frazier, though he hits just as hard.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Urban Hen News, Salem edition

An A-frame chicken coop in a Portland, Oregon ...Image via Wikipedia

Barb Palermo, the Chicken Lady, sends this:
The city council's discussion of the proposed chicken-keeping ordinance has been postponed until July 12 (instead of June 28). City staff members have been working on a draft ordinance for councilors to consider, but are unable to finalize it in time for next week's meeting. Therefore, please plan on attending Salem City Hall at 6:30 pm on July 12 at 555 Liberty St, Room 220, to show your support for this ordinance.

As always, I will keep you posted and forward the meeting agenda and draft ordinance to you as soon as they are available.

We are all [EAGER] to celebrate Salem's long overdue backyard chicken policy so the delay is a little disappointing, I know. In anticipation of the day chickens finally become legal here, consider attending Portland's annual chicken coop tour on Saturday, July 24 from 11:00 to 3:00. It's a great way to get some coop-building ideas for your own backyard. Also, I have been told the Portland Urban Farm Store will have chicks available all summer long, so there is still hope
that you can get your coop built and buy "legal" chicks by fall!
Thank you and hang in there, it WILL happen!

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

General Custer relied on a survey much like this before his last campaign

Little Big Horn"Gosh, this isn't anything like our planning survey said it'd be." Image by jshyun via Flickr

For accurately reflecting sheer, undiluted, jaw-dropping obliviousness, this survey has to take the prize:
Your Input Is Needed!

Decision-makers from the Cities of Salem, Keizer, Turner and Marion and Polk Counties are working together to develop an Economic Opportunities Analysis (EOA) for the Salem Keizer region. A regional EOA identifies the regional competitive advantages and opportunities for long term economic growth. EOAs generally are created to ensure that there is enough land to meet regional employment and community objectives.

Your input needed on the regional economic study. Weigh in! Take the five minute survey now at http://bit.ly/cmUuTF”. The online EOA Survey will be open until July 30, 2010.

You can find additional information at www.mwvcog.org/planning/eoa or contact Suzanne Dufner the Council of Governments at (503) 540-1616 or sdufner@mwvcog.org.

Thank You!

Kimberly Moreland,
Senior Planner
503.588.6173, x7511
kmoreland@cityofsalem.net
Read over the questions and answers and you see a survey that's more accurately described as a push poll -- the chance for business groups to stuff the ballot box with votes for government to do more of A, or B, or C, depending on whether the voters personally benefit the most from A, or B, or C.

What are the real barriers to economic development in Salem-Keizer? How about:

(a) that the bedrock source of America's wealth and preeminence (oil) is at or near the final peak production rates (meaning that an inexorable, unstoppable decline begins, just as huge nations like India and China are wanting to ramp up demand);

(b) that peak oil means the end of economic expansion in a system designed to require continuous expansion and very badly suited to contraction, which will wipe out huge stores of capital;

and (c) that this occurs just as we need to invest massive amounts of capital in renewable and non-carbon-based energy supplies to have any prayer of limiting the destruction of climate chaos.

We've seen the planning mindset shown in this survey before: it's the same one that got the US mired in Vietnam and that General Custer displayed before his grand finale: a complete and total failure to engage with reality and a fantasy belief that planners can make plans and set goals without considering the forces that would tend to work against attainment of them.

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Monday, June 21, 2010

In other news, Americans expect magic ponies to ride to the rescue

The Pigeon and The UnicornWe'll see a live one of these before we displace oil with other liquid fuels without paying more -- a lot more. Image by gordon2208 via Flickr

Leaves me speechless:
Overwhelmingly, Americans think the nation needs a fundamental overhaul of its energy policies, and most expect alternative forms to replace oil as a major source within 25 years. Yet a majority are unwilling to pay higher gasoline prices to help develop new fuel sources.
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WORD: In America as in Salem

JH Kunstler nails it again:
Right after President Obama gave his vapid speech last week, he traveled to Ohio to brag about how much federal stimulus money was going into "shovel-ready" highway projects there. I sincerely believe that the last thing we need right now in this country is more and better highways. Every president since Jimmy Carter has acknowledged that there's a problem with our extreme oil dependency, but none of them have made the short leap to understand that we have a more fundamental problem with car dependency. Someone paying attention to the mandates of reality would get the choo-choo trains running from Dayton to Columbus to Cincinnati to Cleveland [for LOVESalem readers, insert "and from dawn to midnight, hourly, from Eugene to Portland to Seattle to Vancouver" here] - and he would tell General Motors to get into the business of making railroad cars so we don't have to import them from Canada.

Reality is telling us to downscale and get different fast. Quit doing everything possible to prop up the drive-in false utopia and all its accessories. Get local. Tighten up.

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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Whacking the Old Folks

Bill Greider rates up there with Amy Goodman and Sy Hersh as a fearless reporter who is unafraid to ask the questions that make the powerful unhappy and to tell the truth no matter what. 


Whacking the Old Folks
William Greider | May 20, 2010

In setting up his National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, Barack Obama is again playing coy in public, but his intentions are widely understood among Washington insiders. The president intends to offer Social Security as a sacrificial lamb to entice conservative deficit hawks into a grand bipartisan compromise in which Democrats agree to cut Social Security benefits for future retirees while Republicans accede to significant tax increases to reduce government red ink.

Obama's commission is the vehicle created to achieve this deal. He ducks questions about his preferences, saying only that "everything has to be on the table." But White House lieutenants are privately talking up a bargain along those lines. They are telling anxious liberals to trust the president to make only moderate cuts. Better to have Democrats cut Social Security, Obama advisers say, than leave the task to bloodthirsty Republicans.

The president has stacked the deck to encourage this strategy. The eighteen-member commission is top-heavy with fiscal conservatives and hostile right-wingers who yearn to dismantle the retirement program. The Republican co-chair, former Senator Alan Simpson, is especially nasty; he likes to get laughs by ridiculing wheezy old folks. Democratic co-chair Erskine Bowles and staff director Bruce Reed secretly negotiated a partial privatization of Social Security with Newt Gingrich back when they served in the Clinton White House, but the deal blew up with Clinton's sex scandal. Monica Lewinsky saved the system.

Any recommendations require fourteen votes, and Obama has at least five loyalists who will protect him-Senators Dick Durbin and Max Baucus, Representatives Jan Schakowsky and Xavier Becerra, and former SEIU president Andy Stern. On the other hand, if Obama really wants to make a deal, these commissioners will very likely support him.

The people, once again, are kept in the dark. The Obama commission will not report its recommendations until after this fall's elections-too late for voters to express objections. Both parties assume they can evade blame by holding hands and jumping together.

What's extraordinary about this assault on Social Security is that a Democratic president is leading it. Obama is arm in arm with GOP conservatives like Wall Street billionaire Pete Peterson, who for decades has demonized Social Security as a grave threat to the Republic and has spread some $12 million among economists, think tanks, foundations and assorted front groups to sell his case. If Obama pulls the deal off, this will be his version of "Nixon goes to China"-a leader proving his manhood by going against his party's convictions. Even if he fails, the president will get some protective cover on the deficit issue. After all, he is targeting Big Government's most beloved and trusted program-the New Deal's most prominent pillar.

Obama's initiative rests on two falsehoods spread by Peterson's propaganda-the notion that Social Security somehow contributes to the swollen federal deficits and that cutting benefits will address this problem. Obama and his advisers do not say this in so many words, but their rhetoric implies that Social Security is a big source of the deficit problem. Major media promote the same falsehoods. Here is what the media don't tell you: Social Security has accumulated a massive surplus-$2.5 trillion now, rising to $4.3 trillion by 2023. This vast wealth was collected over many years from workers under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) to pay in advance for baby boom retirements. The money will cover all benefits until the 2040s-unless Congress double-crosses workers by changing the rules. This nest egg does not belong to the government; it belongs to the people who paid for it. FICA is not a tax but involuntary savings.

As a candidate, Obama assured voters that any shortfall was in the distant future and could be easily resolved with minor adjustments. As president, he has abandoned this accurate analysis and turned rightward without explaining why. He faces an awkward problem, however. Despite conservative propaganda, cutting Social Security will have no impact on the deficit problem that so stirs public anxiety. The White House knows this, and some advisers admit as much. So why is the president targeting Social Security?

Paul Volcker, former Federal Reserve chair and adviser to the president, declares, "In my view, we can deal with the Social Security problem fairly promptly." Cutting benefits, Volcker adds, "is not going to deal with the deficit problem in the short run, but it's confidence building." John Podesta of the Center for American Progress, another adviser, agrees but says, "Reforms could starkly demonstrate to skeptical debt markets that the United States is willing to take on a politically difficult fiscal issue."

In other words, targeting Social Security is a smokescreen designed to reassure foreign creditors and avoid confronting the true sources of US indebtedness. The politicians might instead address the cost of fighting two wars on borrowed money or the tax cuts for the rich and corporations or the deregulation that led to the recent financial catastrophe and destroyed vast wealth. But those and other sources of deficits involve very powerful interests. Instead of taking them on, the thinking in Washington goes, let's whack the old folks while they're not watching.

This issue is a seminal fight with the potential to scramble party politics. If Democrats can no longer be trusted to defend Social Security, who can be? The people from left to right overwhelmingly support the program (88 percent), and a majority (66 percent) believe benefits should be increased now to cope with the loss of jobs and savings in the Great Recession.

Citizens can win this fight if they mobilize smartly. We can do this by arousing public alarm right now, while members of Congress face a treacherous election and before Obama can work out his deal. Some liberal groups are discussing a "take the pledge" campaign that demands senators and representatives sign commitments to keep Hands Off Social Security Benefits. If politicians refuse to sign, put them on the target list for November. Barack Obama is standing on the third rail of politics-let's give him a warning jolt.

Published on The Nation (http://www.thenation.com)

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A modern Cassandra

"Ajax and Cassandra" by Solomon Jose...Image via Wikipedia

What people forget about Cassandra is that she was right in her forecasts -- her curse was to suffer by giving people accurate warnings about ills to befall them, and not be believed.

Stoneleigh of "The Automatic Earth" blog truly merits the name: listen to her talk to the Transition pow-wow in the UK. It's the talk of the well-informed world.
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Friday, June 18, 2010

Our defeated regulatory apparatus

Interesting article in the Washington Post about the 30+ year struggle to regulate something as innocuous as sunscreen. *

A great illustration of how bad the regulatory system is working when corporations run the show and their wholly-owned servants in Congress and their revolving-door minions dominate the agencies.

Now think about how much worse it is when regulating a real big money enterprise like an extractive industry (mining, oil, grazing, timbering). Kinda explains the Gusher in the Gulf a little better, doesn't it?

(* The point of the article is how broken our regulatory system is, but since we mentioned sunscreens, we should talk about that too. Since the government can't even manage to persuade its corporate owners to keep E. Coli out of food, when it comes to products like sunscreen I'd settle for regulators forcing makers to get rid of the useless and misleading "sun protection factor" labeling system, which is totally bogus because it's non-linear and tells the consumer nothing. That is, SPF 30 is NOT twice the protection of SPF 15; SPF 45 is barely better than SPF 30, etc. The whole SPF rating system is designed to dupe the user and sell more of the high-markup stuff. With a little thought, it's possible to come up with a number of better alternatives.)

PSAs

Great Seal of the state of WisconsinImage via Wikipedia

Jack Lohman, a retired businessman in Wisconsin, spends his days at civic activism, working to end the legal bribery system known as campaign financing, promote better election methods, and institute single-payer health care -- all in all, a true citizen hero.

He links to two must-watch videos in his latest newsletter:

How to deal with a grease fire in a frypan or saucepan on the stove

Watch how a scam works as it happens (luckily, although the mark didn't know it at the time, not real)

OK, both of those are fairly disturbing and distinctly not fun. So watch those first and then this one to feel better (also from Jack).
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True dat

We need fast, reliable trains from Eugene to Seattle. Luckily, Oregon transportation officials are developing a plan to make that happen.
Transportation is responsible for one-third of our global warming pollution. Too many of our trips rely on dirty cars and dirty fuels to get us from home to work. Rail is critical to make transportation more climate-friendly. That's why we need you.

Tell our state officials to think big!

Right now, we have the chance to restructure out transportation system and communities in a way that will help solve the climate crisis. Unfortunately, our state transportation officials aren't thinking boldly enough.

We need to maximize train ridership, reduce car-trips and global warming emissions, and integrate fast trains and high speed rail into local communities. This will require a regional, comprehensive, goal-oriented plan.

Fast trains can provide a backbone of rail for walkable neighborhoods connected by light rail, buses and bikeways. Our future transportation network can:
  • Serve the one-quarter of Oregonians who cannot drive due to age or disability.
  • Save consumers thousands of dollars in car-related costs.
  • Increase transportation capacity and reduce congestion.
  • Reduce global warming pollution.
But we need the right plan now.

Get fast trains on track! Click the link below to send a message to our state transportation officials.

http://www.environmentoregon.org/action/transportation/hsr-plans?id4=ES

And thanks, as always, for making it all possible.

Nicole Forbes
Environment Oregon Field Organizer
http://www.environmentoregon.org

P.S. Feel free to share this e-mail with your friends and family.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

WORD: we can't afford the death penalty

Of all the arguments against killing someone you've already imprisoned, the cost argument is the one that is easiest to understand but is most counter-intuitive.

As is amply documented, it costs far more to run a system that could result in an execution than it does to keep people locked up without possibility of parole, even for decades. Good editorial on point here.

It's truly weird how people who typically froth at the mouth in rage at government incompetence suddenly get comfortable with government power when those government workers are planning on killing someone.

As Oregon's budget meltdown becomes worse and worse, it's time to quit wasting millions of dollars on a failed deterrent that doesn't and that risks not only killing the wrong guys but also, as a result, letting the ones who did it off the hook.

AND in the long-overdue department, we finally have a state admitting that its criminal justice system often gets it wrong, and examining the problem! What a refreshing change!
And now the Florida Supreme Court is about to get involved. The high court is about to hire a full-time lawyer and name a panel to investigate how the criminal-justice system failed those people.

It is creating the Innocence Commission. It will not look for inmates who have been wrongly convicted but will examine systemic flaws that sent innocent people to prison.
Hint -- start here: Causes of Wrongful Convictions.

Ripley's-worthy story: Huge forest found hidden behind a tiny tree

Airplane TakeoffIf only airplanes dropped 50 pound bags of charcoal every minute rather than invisible CO2 ... then people would start to get it. Image by AviaFilms via Flickr

Weird. This is a good example of the problem with criteria-checklist-based environmental certification efforts (like LEED) -- you can wind up with grossly unsustainable businesses and projects winning an award that they can use to claim green cred, thus discrediting both the certification and confusing the general public about what needs to happen.

Commercial jet air travel is one of the fastest growing sources of greenhouse gas. Worse, because of the altitude of the flights, the climate damage is multiplied. Salem is still busily trying to lure an airline or two to bring jets back, but so inefficient is jet travel that a single day's travel would undo all the efficiency improvements that this EarthWISE program documents. Bottom line is that there's no sustainable way to do something that's fundamentally unsustainable.

EarthWISE is a well-intentioned program that can be very beneficial, but there needs to be some kind of sanity check that keeps earth-destroying organizations from managing to check enough piddly boxes to get certified while their core business imperils the Earth. Whatever else can be said about commercial jet travel, it ain't wise, and it's speeding up Earth's climate crisis. Giving an airport an environmental award is kind of like like giving the Mob an award for having the highest "Employee Loyalty" . . . it might be technically true but it's missing a very important forest for an insignificant tree.
GREEN CORNER: AIRPORT EarthWISE CERTIFIED
The City of Salem’s Airport Division has received an EarthWISE Certification from Marion County’s program for businesses. The Salem Airport has joined the City of Salem’s Urban Development Director’s office, Fire Department, IT offices, Library and Willow Lake Water Pollution Control Facility in being the first of Salem’s City offices to hold the certification. Fewer than 65 Marion County companies have achieved this certification.

EarthWISE, meaning Workplace Initiative for Sustainable Enterprise, has several focus areas: recycling, waste reduction and prevention, environmentally preferable purchasing, energy efficiency and conservation, water pollution prevention, outreach and education. In order to obtain an EarthWISE certification, a business must complete the application, meet certification criteria and pass an on-site assessment. For more information, visit EarthWISE.

To receive certification, the Airport reviewed purchasing policies to better utilize environmentally friendly products, replaced airport ramp lights with high efficiency/low energy bulbs, and added additional recycling bins. The office also adjusted office equipment to reduce paper use and implemented greater use of reusable cups and plates in the employee break area as well as reset HVAC settings in the terminal building.

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Monday, June 14, 2010

Help Kickstart Community-Powered Radio in Salem (KMUZ)!


People-powered radio. Help make it happen!

Speaking of the Gulf

Ixtoc I oil well blowoutImage via Wikipedia

An excerpt from the weekly blast at James Howard Kunstler's blog:
It all comes down to one thing: the world is mismanaging contraction. The world will not solve the problems of massive over-complexity with more complexity. But scaling down is apparently not an option, though it will happen whether we participate or not. . . . One thing President Obama -- nor anyone else with an audience or a constituency -- will speak a word about is our massive, incessant purposeless motoring.

Pretty soon, the oil missing from the Gulf will leave a message at the 7-Eleven stops in Dallas and Chattanooga, and before the year is out the cardboard signs that say "Out Of Gas" may hang on the pumps. A great hue and cry will rise out of the Nascar ovals and righteous lady politicians with decoupaged hair-doos will invoke the New World Order and the Book of Revelation in their rise to power. Reasonable men with moderate views will dither on the sidelines, afraid to offend one faction or another.

Sometime this summer that ebb tide of events is going to reverse and we'll have more to contend with than just the shrieking wildlife suffocating in orange gunk, and the ruined spawning grounds of the shrimp, and the lost livelihoods of the sportfishing charter guides, and the tarball covered beaches and devalued real estate. We decided to de-complexify the hard way, the way that brings about as much pain and disorder as possible until we discover that the long emergency beats a path straight into a world made by hand.
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More on the Gusher in the Gulf

Flag Day

Maybe all the flags flown today should be upside down, a time-worn marine distress signal. Here's a couple of items from the LOVESalem archive: First, the eye-chart for the post-peak-oil age:

E
N E
R G Y

I S G O
I N G T O
B E A L O T
M O R E O F A
H E A D A C H E
F R O M N O W O N

Second, a repost from January 2010, which seems timely in the wake of BP's Gusher in the Gulf:
Just like the Butterscotch Man couldn't run till he got warm and could only get warm by running, we're in a fix -- now that the easy oil is gone, the cost of getting the remaining (deeper, more distant, more sour) oil translates into a price that the economy can't sustain.

Excellent writeup on this in the mainstream press here.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Read and reflect


Great and important to read from the powerful blog "Of Two Minds," a vital reminder as our mindless war machine keeps grinding away in the background while, in the foreground, the elites continue pretending that the dead machine of "growth" just needs a little adjustment in order to spring back to life, purring like a kitten. If you recognize the importance of all this, you might also want to read Walter Karp's painfully good book "The Politics of War."

The transcripts and audio recordings revealed a truth which I had never encountered in all my 40 years of reading about Asia, Japan, and the Pacific War: the entire war was essentially ad hoc, as much the result of the Navy's fear of domination by the Imperial Army as it was about the U.S. embargo on oil exports to Japan which had been imposed after Japan invaded Indochina in 1941.

Bureaucratic infighting between the services, the influence of a key Admiral over the Emperor, jousting between the Naval General Staff and the leaders of the Combined Fleet, and ultimately, fear of losing domestic power led the Navy's General Staff to recommend war against the U.S. as the "only possible response" to the oil embargo.

The "official reasons" given for the war--a "greater East Asia co-prosperity sphere", even the U.S. embargo on oil--played no part in the actual decisions to wage war on the U.S., or in planning to win such a war.

One would think the Naval General Staff or the Imperial General Headquarters would have formulated a rigorous, well-conceived plan to actually win the war before launching it; one would be wrong. . . .

In effect, the decision to wage war on the U.S. was the outcome of domestic politics and pride, not strategic considerations. The consequences of war were not thought through, and accountability was poor. The entire chain of command was riddled with ad hoc thinking and decisions based on domestic political rivalries, glossed-over realities, fear of losing face, and misplaced deference to forces within the Imperial family.

There are hundreds of websites on the Imperial Navy and the Pacific Theater of World War II, and the Imperial Japanese Navy Page is remarkably thorough. I especially recommend its economic analysis of Japan and the U.S., which contains this telling conclusion:

In the end, however, the Tojo government chose the path of aggression, compelled by internal political dynamics which made the prospect of a general Japanese disengagement in China (which was the only means by which the American economic embargo would have been lifted) too humiliating a course to be taken. . . .

The Japanese were incapable of admitting that their war was impossible to win. . . .

Does this story of ad hoc waging of war remind you of the Iraq war? It should . . .

Sycophants and yes-men were rewarded, voices of experience and skepticism were ignored or sent packing; rather than admit the "official reasons" were mere propaganda to mask domestic political machinations, hubris and misplaced fear of losing "face," the ad hoc policies were simply ratcheted up to higher levels of sacrifice. The anger of the mid-ranking Imperial Navy officers who saw their men sacrificed for an ignoble ad hoc war to cover up the sins and stupidities of their leaders is now rising in the U.S. officer corps as well, though just as in Imperial Japan, the internal restraints of loyalty to the service and the nation stifle many voices.

Even now, there is no strategy for "winning," and the word itself has been lost from the official vocabulary. It's not a "war," so there's no "winning." The sacrifice of the troops is not a consideration to the U.S. leadership, anymore than it was in the Imperial leadership. The trillions of dollars of national treasure squandered on an ad hoc war is also no consideration; every sacrifice will be demanded of the Military and civilians to avoid admitting the war was a tragic mistake, the result of hubris, heedless dogmatism, and a preference for domestically attractive fantasies rather than strategic imperatives and rigorous planning. . . .

The "recovery" engineered by Bernanke and his cronies is just as ad hoc as the Japanese policies of the past 21 years. The same disastrous reliance on endless borrowing and Keynesian "stimulus" to prop up a failed status quo which is no longer aligned with global or domestic realities is now the "policy" of the U.S. leadership. . . .

It is human nature to want to believe in a cause and in future victory, even when the war or policy is totally ad hoc. Once the nation and Empire is committed, even when the decisions to commit were poor and based on fantasy, those in service to the nation and Empire obediently support the doomed policies, even as they see that victory is impossible and the nation is careening into inevitable ruin. . . .


Vancouver BC OKs 4 backyard hens, no roosters/ducks/turkeys -- and no charge

Santa brought a backyard chicken coop for Chri...Image by Chris Breikss via Flickr

Salem officials would think they had died and gone to heaven if Salem was considered anywhere near as desirable as Vancouver, B.C.

So it's worth noting that this world-class cosmopolitan city has legalized four backyard hens for residents, at no charge.
A maximum of four hens, which should at least be four months old, are permitted per coop. Other poultry — roosters, ducks, turkeys or pheasants — remain banned, and the hens will not allowed in front yards or highrise apartment balconies.

Under the guidelines, the backyard enclosure must be roofed and cannot exceed nine square metres in area and three metres in height.

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Reminder

Friday, June 11, 2010

Now that the primary is over, raise your voice for working families

WFP logoImage via Wikipedia

Got this in the mail today:
Imagine a political party that works its butt off to elect progressive Democrats—and the day after the election, works just as hard to hold them accountable to stand for progressive values.

That's exactly what the Oregon Working Families Party is. And it's why, as a fellow Oregonian, I'm writing to ask you to help support the WFP today—not with money, but by changing your voter registration to the Working Families Party.

3,000 people have already joined up. But the Oregon WFP needs to get to 10,000 members by August 4th to earn permanent ballot status. That'll allow the WFP to continue to represent the voice of working folks in Oregon and make sure Democrats know they need to stand with progressives to win elections this fall—goals that align so closely with those of many MoveOn members, including me.

Can you change your voter registration to be with the Oregon Working Families Party today? With online voter registration, it only takes a minute. Just click below to get started.

http://oregonwfp.org/register/moveon

The WFP, which is rapidly gaining steam in Oregon, is a close ally of MoveOn in other states, where we've worked together to elect progressives and fight for health care reform.

Don't worry—this is no pie-in-the-sky "spoiler" party. Here's how it works: Working Families Party members interview candidates and grill them on the hard questions. Then WFP endorses the candidates who commit to fighting for our progressive values.

On your election ballot, Democrats who have earned the WFP nomination are listed with both parties—Democratic and Working Families—next to their names. It's the WFP seal of approval to show voters which candidates are real champions for regular folks, not special interests. There's no spoiler effect, but voters get a new way to vote their progressive values—and candidates can see how important the progressive vote is on Election Day.

As The Oregonian put it, WFP's goal is to "influence state policy by uniting rural and urban voters around kitchen table economic issues that matter to working people."1 WFP has a great record of success in other states, electing progressive Democrats and winning on issues from green jobs to health care reform.2

Oregon just recently started online voter registration, so now it's even easier to switch your voter registration to the Working Families Party. It only takes a few minutes, and you can still, of course, vote for any candidate you want in the upcoming general election this November.

Help build the progressive party: change your official voter registration to be with the Oregon Working Families Party today:

http://oregonwfp.org/register/moveon

Thanks!
Here's their issues page. Works for me.

The Working Families Party fights to improve the lives of working people and their families by focusing our government on things that make our jobs better, provide security for our families and prosperity for our communities. That includes:

  • Affordable healthcare for all Oregonians where our health, or lack thereof, is not dependent on individual wealth and subject to private profiteering; we support national single-payer health care consistent with the principles of H.R. 676.
  • Opening doors to opportunity through higher education and technical training that does not result in indebtedness for our citizens.
  • Affordable housing, a stop to predatory lending practices, investment in new affordable housing development, and protection of existing affordable housing.
  • Promotion of green family wage jobs whose legacy leaves a clean, secure, and sustainable environment for our children.
  • Supporting fair trade, defending our jobs against outsourcing, wage and benefit cuts, and corporate raiding.
  • The right to organize and reach a first contract free of intimidation, discrimination, and illegal terminations.

Click here to read the full 2008 platform of the Oregon Working Families Party.

To promote these values, the Oregon Working Families Party is currently working on two critical issue campaigns:

A Public Bank for Oregon. The OWFP is working with a broad coalition of organizations to promote the creation of a State Bank of Oregon, modeled after the 90-year-old Bank of North Dakota, which would use money that belongs to the state to invest in job creation, education, and homeownership here in Oregon, rather than giving that money over to big banks to continue to line their pockets. Click here to read more, and to sign our petition encouraging legislators to support this commonsense proposal.

Disability Insurance for all Oregonians. Many of Oregon’s working families live with the knowledge that on any day they could get injured or sick and find themselves unable to work. The OWFP is working on a proposal to create a statewide disability insurance program, modeled after California’s highly successful “SDI” program, which covers all workers in the state.

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If you've got the sun, you'd be crazy not to jump on this

Who will be able to keep the lights on?Image by Serge Melki via Flickr

They're handing out free money for making your home or business pollute less while giving you a way to generate energy for yourself even during power blackouts on the grid -- what's not to like? If you are a residential customer with good southern exposure or a business, church, or nonprofit with a big roof, you're crazy not to investigate this.
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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Can cities like Salem afford to ignore the warnings that businesses are getting?

potencial of renewablesImage via Wikipedia

Interesting paper here:

Reports and Papers

Sustainable Energy Security: Strategic Risks and Opportunities for Business

Chatham House-Lloyd's 360 Risk Insight White Paper
Antony Froggatt and Glada Lahn, June 2010

Download Paper here

  • Businesses which prepare for and take advantage of the new energy reality will prosper - failure to do so could be catastrophic

  • Market dynamics and environmental factors mean business can no longer rely on low cost traditional energy sources

  • China and growing Asian economies will play an increasingly important role in global energy security

  • We are heading towards a global oil supply crunch and price spike

  • Energy infrastructure will become increasingly vulnerable as a result of climate change and operations in harsher environments

  • Lack of global regulation on climate change is creating an environment of uncertainty for business, which is damaging investment plans

  • To manage increasing energy costs and carbon exposure businesses must reduce fossil fuel consumption

  • Business must address energy-related risks to supply chains and the increasing vulnerability of 'just-in-time' models

  • Investment in renewable energy and 'intelligent' infrastructure is booming. This revolution presents huge opportunities for new business partnerships

Read expert comment by Antony Froggatt >>

Watch video >>


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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

As goes Maine, so too should go Oregon (and the country)

Recycle Logo From Recycling BinIt's even easier when you pass laws making those who choose the materials for the products take responsibility for those choices by making them accept the products back at the end of their useful lives. Image by chrissatchwell via Flickr

Maine's extended producer responsibility law -- huzzah!
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Peak oil to lead to Predatory (Oil-Seeking) Militarism?

A LCVP (Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel) fro...Image via Wikipedia

A friend sent this link on and added this comment:
When your country's upper crust social "scientists" cannot face truth, facts, and consequences, what hope is there for timely adaptations? And what use are they, or perhaps more to the point, how much damage can they contribute to the cause? I guess it's not just economists who are problems, but all the rest of that lot as well. Are we about to regret the day when someone began to take them seriously and even include them in college curricula?

Aside from those dinosauristic ponderings, it's interesting to get the author's take on the effects of culture and political system on eventual outcomes. What she says makes general good sense to me, and bodes ill for many parts of the U.S. I don't see the northeast coping any better than the southeast at having their backbone ripped out - and the entire eastern seaboard is massively overpopulated.
tooj
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Friday, June 4, 2010

CONTEST: Best climate ideas for Salem's next mayor

OK, now that slightly more than a third of us bothered to pick who would run unopposed for the mayor's seat in November, the real work can begin: Helping her understand the opportunities and challenges Salem is going to face as a result of the massive "let's wing it and see what happens" experiment we're running to determine what happens when you pump aeons of fossil-fuel carbon emissions into the atmosphere in a century or so.

To do so, I thought I'd try something new: a LOVESalem reader contest.

That is, to help get more people thinking about how Salem can either help prevent, prepare for, or respond to the global climate destabilization experiment we're running, LOVESalem is giving away three hardbound copies* of the excellent book "The Weather Makers" by Tim Flannery to the three people who submit the most interesting, creative, and useful ideas (in my opinion) for how Salem can help prevent, prepare for, or respond to the consequences of this experiment.

To enter, put your idea(s) into a comment below. Enter as many times as you like, be as creative as you can, and anticipate objections where possible (while remaining reasonably concise). Feel free to build on the ideas of others (so long as you add something significant to them).

When it seems that the brainstorming has tapered off, I'll try to consolidate all the ideas and pick three winners. If you want the book, put an email in with your suggestions or otherwise let me know how to contact you so I can get you the book if one of your ideas lands among the three best.

[*Fine Print: Potentially this will only prove that nobody reads LOVESalem; if so, or if the ideas are all recycled or if I just can't find three that grab me as exciting, then I'll do something else with the books. In other words, while I hope to give away these three books in return for some great ideas, the books aren't guaranteed to be given away at all. Oh, and since everybody's carbon emissions are the problem, you don't have to live in Salem or even Oregon to win -- you do have to live in the US, though, because the price of mailing books internationally has gotten way out of hand. But if you're outside the US and you have a great idea for what Salem should do, feel free to speak up, as this is a problem that hurts everybody, everywhere.]

Thursday, June 3, 2010

WORD: Higher Ed's Big Lie

Government employment of the unemployed is one...Image via Wikipedia

This is the most important unrecognized development out there -- that in an era where resource limits are the constraints (rather than human capital), increasing the amount of education that the idle cannot apply simply diverts resources from productive use to helping people mark time before being unemployed or underemployed. Helping to strap those people to huge amounts of debt at the same time is not just immoral but also exceedingly unwise.

We're starting to experience the national equivalent of PTSD as young people experience the Higher Ed myth unraveling in their own lives. Supposedly educated, they know that they lack any meaningful skills that anyone needs. They cannot make or maintain any of the goods that they use every day, nearly all of them do not have the slightest idea about how to grow or prepare the food they consume, the clothes they wear, or the shelter they inhabit; yet they are marked like Cain with a flaming scar, the number of dollars they owe for this "education" that has left them entirely at the mercy of others for their survival.

The elite mandarins and pundits are all talking about how we need to raise the age of retirement and get ordinary folks to scale back their expectations of what people can do for themselves collectively (i.e., through government). The reality is that if we continue with the Reagan/Bush/Clinton/Bush/Obama globalization ideal -- this weird experiment in destroying the middle class and moving to a third-world economic model of a hyper-rich elite presiding over a shattered middle that is constantly being told that they have no alternative but to accept an impoverished future of debt and insecurity -- we are stacking all the kindling we need right next to the gas cans.

UPDATE: The antidote.
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Good news of the "No duh" variety

Still nice to see.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Excellent reminder from the Salem Public Library

If you live in or near Salem and are served by either of the big private utilities, you are already paying for Energy Trust services with your utility bills -- why not take advantage of them to make your home more comfortable, energy efficient, and cheaper to live in?

This is in the current Salem Public Library newsletter's "Questions to the Reference Librarians" column:
Q. I would like to make my home more energy efficient. I have a long list of possible home improvements, but am having trouble deciding what to do first. In addition to doing my bit towards making our world a better place, I want to take advantage of the tax incentives that are currently available.

A. Salem Public Library has several new books that may help you prioritize [sic -- ugh] your projects. Green Sense for the Home: Rating the Real Payoff from 50 Green Home Projects by Eric Corey Freed and Toward a Zero Energy Home: A Complete Guide to Energy Self-Sufficiency at Home by David Johnston are just a few.

You might also want to contact to Energy Trust of Oregon for a free home energy review. They will send a trained Energy Trust advisor to your home to assess your energy consumption and will provide you with a prioritized [ack!] list of improvements you can make. To schedule an evaluation, call the Energy Trust at 1-866-368-7878 or go their website at energytrust.org. Another good place to find information about energy-related tax incentives is the U.S. Department of Energy’s website at www.energy.gov/taxbreaks.htm.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Perhaps this will help: For those unable to comprehend the idea of natural resource limits

A schematic showing the spreading of humans in...Image via Wikipedia

A huge problem -- perhaps THE problem of our time -- is that humans are continuing to use carelessly a powerful technology (capitalism) that we developed in an essentially empty world of abundant natural resources. We are continuing to use empty-world logic long past the time when the world could be described as empty or resources could be described as abundant.

One of the first cases a law student encounters is the case of Ghen v. Rich, which is used to illustrate concepts of ownership under the common law -- in that case, of a finback whale carcass. The basis for the decision was the court's concern to find a rule that would promote whaling: "Unless it is sustained . . . industry must necessarily cease, for no person would engage in it if the fruits of his labor could be appropriated by a chance finder."

This 1881 case perfectly illustrates the trend that has continued ever since, and at a global scale: the purpose of the law is to facilitate conversion of natural resources, the uncountable wealth of nature that makes human life and civilization possible, into countable wealth in someone's pocket.

Humanity is like an alpine climber suspended over a deep chasm by a hugely thick manila rope -- only we are ceaselessly cutting the tiny threads that make up the rope, one after another after another, year after year, decade after decade. So far the rope hasn't parted and we haven't fallen -- so we keep plucking at the threads, snipping them off one by one wherever it's profitable to do so.
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Take a U. Chicago course for free


If only those who most need this would bother watching it. Here's a review of the book used in the course, which you can take in, for free, at the links above.
5.0 out of 5 stars The next best thing to enrolling at U. of Chicago, February 24, 2007
By raypierre (Chicago, IL) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Global Warming: Understanding the Forecast (Paperback)
I wish to commend this wonderful book written by my colleague, David Archer. The class upon which this book is based is a runaway success, and each year it seems they need to find a bigger lecture hall. When you have read the books like "The Weather Makers," and "Field Notes from a Catastrophe," and are ready for something more quantitative but still fairly gentle on the math, this is the one for you. I think it's the best source around for people who want to get a true scientific understanding of the physics and chemistry of climate change.