Posts Tagged ‘oil spill’

IS IT SAFE TO COME OUT, YET?

July 30, 2010

OUR SHAME

Oil Leases Cancelled in Gulf, Atlantic
The Center for Biological Diversity applauded this Wednesday when the Obama administration cancelled two offshore oil and gas lease sales: one in the Atlantic, off Virginia, and one in the western Gulf of Mexico. The Atlantic lease sale was in a controversial area approved by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar for expanded offshore oil development after the Bush administration lifted the Atlantic drilling moratorium. The lease sale in the Gulf was scheduled to take place next month. In cancelling the sales, the government admitted it needs more time to improve the safety of offshore oil and gas development and provide greater environmental protection to  substantially reduce the risk of catastrophic events like another massive oil spill.
“President Obama’s decision to cancel these lease sales recognizes that risky offshore drilling needs reform,” said Miyoko Sakashita, oceans director at the Center. “In light of the BP oil spill, the president should pull back from the entire plan to expand offshore drilling and instead pursue clean energy.”

Check out our press release and learn the latest on the Gulf disaster. Then take action to tell the administration to end all dangerous offshore drilling.

LIFE INSURANCE FOR THE PLANET:

There is no life insurance policy for planet earth.  The fate of our planet is painful to think about.  It is decades since we first became concerned about pollution, water scarcity, wastes, pesticides, overpopulation and erosion.  Under Ronald Reagan the country turned away from such problems, but today they are the problems we fear most.  They are global and potentially irreversible.  They include the build-up of greenhouse gases, the thinning of the ozone layer, destruction of rain forests and accelerating extinctions of other species.  Some would say they are impossible to stop.  The world’s economy is built into them.

Yet, as Jonathan Weiner writes in The Next One Hundred Years, the changes trouble even those who try to ignore them and worry only about whether the old garage is sagging or the mortgage is due.  A question mark curls above our roofs and makes a mockery of our hopes.  If the earth is falling apart, there go the plans for summer vacation.

As we locally chop down trees and cover arable earth with concrete, we should bear in mind the ecological limits of what we do.  The same is true of the industry we attract and of the population we propose to support in our regional environment.  In Multnomah County, Oregon, they plan to add more hundreds of thousands of people by deliberate design, less an act of planning than of whistling while walking through the graveyard.

There are public policy questions that have not been adequately presented and debatedLocal media, elected officials, governmental staff and economic development and business communities have consistently pursued the “cutting edge” of the latest “growth opportunities” without equally weighing the adverse impacts potential in each of these proposed, but too often unrelated developments.  Never has the time for comprehensive and thoroughly cooperative deliberation and action been more urgent.

Common needs for clean air, clean water and a livable future have been subordinated in the rush to insure our immediate economic well being.  While motives may be benign, it is patently obvious to all but the most self deceiving or self serving that we are in the midst of a global crisis which calls for a philosophy which protects, defends and advances the common interest. In the context of a rapidly diminishing resource pool, in the face of rising and conceivably irreversible environmental damage, it is beyond foolishness to persist in an economic expansionism that degrades and erodes the livability of our common home.

All local elected officials should plan from a basis which explores the possibility of sustainability, including revenue sharing to decrease conflict over development opportunities and inappropriate public incentives which pit one community against another.  No jurisdiction should function without regard for its neighbors and friends and our shared earth.

Never in world history has humankind been so powerful in its geophysical impact on the planet.  As hard as the weaning may be, business as usual no longer makes sense.  If we are, as some scientists term us, homo sapiens sapiens, man the doubly wise, let’s prove it before we lose it.

Choices.

LET’S HEAR IT FOR BIOMASS!

“To the massmoss with this wingéd fruitcake!” – The Tyrant, Barbarella.

Hemp biomass for fuel would be cleaner and more economical than any other source.  Corn is the least efficient and most costly.  Hemp is easily grown almost everywhere, and completely renewable.  It is a carbon sink, cleaning the air.  10,000 acres of hemp yields as much paper as 40,000 acres of wood pulp.  It gives a far greater yield per acre, and is better for the overall health of the land.

Sources below will tell you what there is to know in great well-documented detail.  Plus, you get to “meet” Jack Herer – a man the mystics call a “great soul.”

Emperor of Hemp – narrated by Peter Coyote, VHS, DVD, 59 min.  Bill Maher calls it “A triumph for the open-minded.”  The story of Jack Herer, author of:The Emperor Wears No Clothes, best selling book that blows the lid off the anti-hemp conspiracy and explains all there is to know about one miraculous plant.  Available at the web site: www.emperorofhemp.com; Jack Herer’ web site home is athttp://www.jackherer.com/Both are also available through www.Amazon.com

VIDEO: Obama Preserves Inherited Bush Abuses Friday, July 30, 2010 by The Rachel Maddow Show. http://www.commondreams.org/video/2010/07/30-0

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INFINITY STOPS HERE

May 5, 2010

Fears for Crops as Shock Figures From America Show Scale of Bee Catastrophe by Alison Benjamin May 2, 2010 by The Observer/UK

The world may be on the brink of biological disaster after news that a third of US bee colonies did not survive the winter

Disturbing evidence that honeybees are in terminal decline has emerged from the United States where, for the fourth year in a row, more than a third of colonies have failed to survive the winter.

The decline of the country’s estimated 2.4 million beehives began in 2006, when a phenomenon dubbed colony collapse disorder (CCD) led to the disappearance of hundreds of thousands of colonies. Since then more than three million colonies in the US and billions of honeybees worldwide have died and scientists are no nearer to knowing what is causing the catastrophic fall in numbers.

The number of managed honeybee colonies in the US fell by 33.8% last winter, according to the annual survey by the Apiary Inspectors of America and the US government’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS).

The collapse in the global honeybee population is a major threat to crops. It is estimated that a third of everything we eat depends upon honeybee pollination, which means that bees contribute some £26bn to the global economy. © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010.  READ MORE: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/05/02-1 .

Why We Need Bees and More People Becoming Organic Beekeepers By Makenna Goodman, Chelsea Green Publishing.

Bees teach us how to live our life in a way that by taking what we need from the world around us, we leave the world better than we found it.

Beekeeping is rising in popularity — from urban rooftops to backyard hives, the world is abuzz with interest in homemade honey. And who better to comment on the nature of bees than the former president of the Vermont Beekeepers Association, Ross Conrad. He’s led bee-related presentations and taught organic beekeeping workshops and classes throughout North America for many years, and Conrad’s small beekeeping business supplies friends, neighbors, and local stores with honey and candles among other bee related products, not to mention provides bees for Vermont apple pollination in spring. I talked to Conrad about organic beekeeping, the state of pollination, and tips for aspiring bee farmers. Makenna Goodman: Your book, Natural Beekeeping: Organic Approaches to Modern Apiculture, offers up a program of natural beehive management, and an alternative to conventional chemical-based approaches. So — why organic beekeeping.

Ross Conrad: History has shown us that the industrialized “economy of scale” approach does not work when applied to agriculture because we are dealing with living biological systems, not an inert assembly line food production system where the economy of scale approach can be applied across the board. One of the biggest issues is the large number of chemical contaminants that are being found in beeswax and pollen, often at very high concentrations. Toxic chemical contamination has been implicated in Colony Collapse and the reality is that there is no effective regulation of chemicals in Western society. Let me tell you why: READ MORE: http://www.alternet.org/environment/143764/why_we_need_bees_and_more_people_becoming_organic_beekeepers.

TIP for Home Gardeners:  Plant rosemary.  Bees love the blossoms.  It’s good spice in the kitchen.  And, it smells great!

Oil Spill May Be Five Times Bigger Than Previously Thought by Philip Sherwell, US Editor Sunday, May 2, 2010 by The Telegraph/UK.

Oil from the wrecked Deepwater Horizon rig is feared to be gushing into the Gulf of Mexico at five times the latest estimate of the US Coastguard, according to satellite imagery studied by industry experts.

The view from space indicates that the oil may be leaking at a rate of 25,000 barrels a day, dwarfing the figure of 5,000 barrels that US officials and the British oil giant BP have used in recent days.

That would mean that some nine million gallons may already have escaped from the underwater well following the April 20 explosion that killed 11 rig workers. It suggests the disaster will almost certainly prove greater than the Exxon Valdez tanker spill off Alaska in 1989, which released 11 million gallons and was the worst previous spill at sea.

President Barack Obama will visit the region on Sunday morning, aides have announced. The trip comes amid mounting criticism that the White House has been slow to react to the crisis.

His predecessor, George W Bush, faced similar anger over the federal government’s handling of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. But the government has emphasised that responsibility for the clean-up rests with BP, which leased the rig and initially played down the scale of the leak.

As the administration steps up its operations, the Pentagon will spray the slick with chemical dispersants from military C-130 planes, although environmental groups warned that these could also seriously damage the eco-system.

Menwhile Eric Holder, the country’s attorney general, is dispatching a team of lawyers to New Orleans to assess whether any laws have been broken. BP, which leased the rig and owned the oil rights, had downplayed the possible danger of any spill – predicting “no significant adverse impact” – when it submitted its exploration plan last year.

The scale of the looming catastrophe was still unclear yesterday as strong winds hampered an emergency operation to mop up the 2,200 sq mile slick being blown towards the coast of five US states.

Another political embarrassment for Mr Obama is that he had only recently announced White House approval for a controversial expansion of offshore oil exploration.

The policy has been enthusiastically pushed by Republicans such as former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin – who litters speeches with the phrase “drill, baby drill” – and has also been backed by a majority of Americans since fuel prices soared.

But environmental groups and many members of the president’s Democratic party are fiercely opposed to new drilling off America’s coastline. And the White House said last week that no new licences would be granted while the cause of the current disaster is investigated.

Several lawsuits have been filed against BP, Transocean, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig, and other oil industry companies involved in the operation, on behalf of residents and businesses as well as survivors and relatives of those killed in the April 20 explosion.

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/05/02-0

Obama Biggest Recipient of BP Cash by Erika Lovley May 5, 2010 by Politico.com

While the BP oil geyser pumps millions of gallons of petroleum into the Gulf of Mexico, President Barack Obama and members of Congress may have to answer for the millions in campaign contributions they’ve taken from the oil and gas giant over the years. BP and its employees have given more than $3.5 million to federal candidates over the past 20 years, with the largest chunk of their money going to Obama, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Donations come from a mix of employees and the company’s political action committees — $2.89 million flowed to campaigns from BP-related PACs and about $638,000 came from individuals. On top of that, the oil giant has spent millions each year on lobbying — including $15.9 million last year alone — as it has tried to influence energy policy.

During his time in the Senate and while running for president, Obama received a total of $77,051 from the oil giant and is the top recipient of BP PAC and individual money over the past 20 years, according to financial disclosure records.

Moreover, the company has nearly tripled the amount of money it has spent on lobbying, from about $5.7 million in 1999 to $15.9 million last year, according to lobbying disclosures.

BP has bulked up its K Street team by signing some of the biggest firms in Washington, several of which employ former Hill staffers with deep-seated ties to Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico coast.

BP representation within lobby shop Alpine Group alone includes lobbyist Bob Brooks, who served as chief of staff to former Rep. Jim McCrery (R-La.), and lobbyist Rebecca Hawes, a longtime counsel for former Sen. John Breaux (D-La.). Jason Schendle worked for Landrieu for nine years, according to lobbying disclosures.  READ MORE: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/05/05-2

Ways to Reduce Carbon footprint

ACTION:  Lifetime carbon dioxide emission per person saved in Metric Tons:

Recycle newspaper, magazines, glass, plastic, and aluminum cans: 17

Replace old refrigerator with energy-efficient model:  19

Replace 10 incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient ones:  36

Replace single-glazed windows with energy=efficient windows.  121

Reduce miles driven from 231 to 155 per week:   147

Increase car’s fuel economy from 20 miles per gallon to 30:  148

REDUCE NUMBER OF CHILDREN BY ONE        –     9,441

Data from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s personal emissions calculator and calculations by OSU statistics professor Paul Murtaugh.  Annual totals based on lifespan of 80 (female expectancy U.S.)  Source: Paul Murtaugh.

Denial ain't a river in Africa.