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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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