The Long Emergency
What's going to happen as we start running out of cheap gas to guzzle?
James Howard Kunstler | The Rolling Stone | March 24, 2005
A few weeks ago, the price of oil ratcheted above fifty-five dollars a barrel, which is about twenty dollars a barrel more than a year ago. The next day, the oil story was buried on page six of the New York Times business section. Apparently, the price of oil is not considered significant news, even when it goes up five bucks a barrel in the span of ten days. That same day, the stock market shot up more than a hundred points because, CNN said, government data showed no signs of inflation.
Note to clueless nation: Call planet Earth... [read more]
“Plug and Play”: How-to install simple and affordable household solar power
May 19th. 7:00 – 9:00 pm.
Marion Music Hall, Marion, MA 02738
Up until now clean, renewable energy has been too expensive for most homeowners to consider. Not any longer. In our quest to identify and promote simple, practical models for deep and positive change, the Marion Institute is proud to present Blue Link Solar Network.
Naoto Inoue and Charlie Langston [co-founders of Blue Link Solar Network] will shed light on the rapidly emerging need for - and sudden affordability of - easy-to-install household solar power systems.
Their vision is of a future in which millions of small solar electric systems turn our most abundant energy
source into a significant part of the utility mix. Come see how affordable, effortless - and essential -it is to plug into a future fueled by renewable energy.
May 19, 2005
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Marion Music Hall
Marion, MA 02738
"Plug and Play" is the first in a series of Marion Institute-sponsored how-to workshops, entitled "Living Green" The aim of Living Green is to help members of our community 'walk the walk' towards a more environmentally conscious existence. For more information please call 1.508.748.0816 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
X-celling Over Men
March 22, 2005 | The New York Times | Maureen Dowd
Men are always telling me not to generalize about them. But a startling new study shows that science is backing me up here. Research published last week in the journal Nature reveals that women are genetically more complex than scientists ever imagined, while men remain the simple creatures they appear. [read more]
An interview with New York Times columnist and "geo-green" advocate Thomas Friedman
April 5, 2005 | Grist.com | Amanda Griscom Little
Thomas Friedman has been writing on matters of energy and diplomacy for nearly three decades. He began working at The New York Times in 1981 as a business reporter specializing in OPEC and oil-related news. He took time out of his vacation in Aspen, Colo., last week to talk to Grist about why ‘neocons’ are taking a shine to renewable energy, his new book The World Is Flat, his geothermal home, and his brand-new Lexus hybrid. [read more]
Our Time-Crunch Disorder
Ellen Goodman | globe.com | March 27, 2005
A friend of mine once worked for a Hollywood executive as chief assistant in charge of the calendar. That wasn't the actual title, of course, but it was the job description. This executive had a penchant for filling up her Palm Pilot weeks and months in advance. When the day would come, a day invariably brimming over with ''unexpected emergencies," she would order another round of cancellations. And begin to fill in the future. [read more]
Jeremy Narby on NPR
Jeremy Narby, PH. D. – and Coordinator of the Amazonian projects for the Marion Institute-sponsored Nouvelle Planeté – will be appearing on NPR’s “The Point” with Mindy Todd. “The Point” is broadcast by NPR affiliate WCAI 90.1-WNAN 91.1; serving Cape Cod and the islands. The interview, which will include a call-in component, will be broadcast live, from 9:15 am – 10:00 am EST, on June 15th. Your calls are welcomed at 1.866.999.4626 or you can email the host at: ThePoint@WGBH.org
Narby - a luminary anthropologist, environmentalist, author and world-renowned visionary – grew up in Canada and Switzerland, studied history at the University of Canterbury, and received his doctorate in anthropology from Stanford University. He is the acclaimed author of The Cosmic Serpent and coeditor of Shamans Through Time. Narby has altered how we understand the shamanic cultures and traditions that have undergone a worldwide revival in recent years. And now with his new book, Intelligence in Nature one of his most extraordinary journeys, Narby travels around the globe—from the Amazon basin to the Far East—to probe what traditional healers and pioneering researchers perceive about the intelligence present in all forms of life.
Maintaining A Distance
Barbara Walters of 20/20 [USA-ABC Television] did a story on gender roles in Kabul, Afghanistan, several years before the Afghan conflict. She noted that women customarily walked 5 paces behind their husbands. She recently returned to Kabul and observed that women still walk behind their husbands. Despite the overthrow of the oppressive Taliban regime, the women now seem to walk even further back behind their husbands and are happy to maintain the old custom.
Ms. Walters approached one of the Afghani women and asked, "Why do you now seem happy with the old custom that you once tried so desperately to change?"
The woman looked Ms. Walters straight in the eyes and, without hesitation, said "Land mines..."
“This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness."
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April 18 2005 | New Yorker | Elizabeth Kolbert
The act that designated the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was signed into law on December 2, 1980, by President Jimmy Carter, just a few weeks before he left office. It already had a long and troubled history. The act had taken nearly a decade to negotiate, and during this period Carter had been vilified in Anchorage and burned in effigy in Fairbanks. Meanwhile, even though the overarching purpose of the act was supposed to be conservation—the Arctic Refuge is only a small part of the more than a hundred million acres it set aside—by the time it worked its way through Congress it was riddled with parochial and environmentally dubious provisions such as subsidies for logging in national forests. The act’s treatment of the refuge itself was particularly equivocal. Some eighteen million acres of mountainous and inaccessible terrain were declared off limits to development. But the land that actually needed protection—one and a half million acres of caribou calving grounds along the Beaufort Sea—was left in legislative limbo. A future Congress could study that area’s oil and gas potential and then, if it wished, authorize drilling.
The result of this arrangement has been a battle as long and, up until now, at least, as ineffectual as any on Capitol Hill. The acres left up for grabs in 1980 are often referred to as the “1002 area,” after the section of the bill that dealt—or, rather, failed to deal—with their fate. In 1987, President Reagan recommended drilling in the 1002, but Congress rejected the idea. In 1995, Congress authorized opening the area, only to be thwarted by President Clinton. Picking up where Reagan had left off, President George W. Bush, in 2001, included a drilling provision in his ill-fated energy bill; after that bill died, Senate Republicans tried, unsuccessfully, to insert a similar provision into the 2004 budget resolution. Last month, this tactic finally worked, and the Senate approved a budget that would open up the 1002 area. The House of Representatives, however, has not passed the same budget, so the fate of the refuge is now tangled up with a great number of other issues, including Medicaid funding, which have nothing to do with it but which will determine whether or not the two houses can agree on a spending plan. Perversely, one of the key votes in favor of drilling for oil in Alaska came from Senator Mel Martinez, Republican of Florida, who backed it in return for a promise from the Bush Administration to extend a moratorium on drilling for oil in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. ["I would understand how some might view it as a problem,” Martinez said of this deal.]
Over the past few weeks, Administration officials have been lobbying hard in favor of opening the refuge. In a speech in Columbus, Ohio, President Bush claimed that drilling operations would be limited to an area the size of that city’s airport, and would eventually produce enough crude to “reduce our dependence on foreign oil by up to a million barrels of oil a day.” In TV appearances and op-ed pieces, Interior Secretary Gale Norton has sounded similar themes, arguing, on the one hand, that drilling will have almost no impact on wildlife—“The overall ‘footprint’ of the equipment and facilities needed to develop the 1002 area would be restricted to two thousand acres,” she wrote last month in the Times—and, on the other, that it is an essential part of “a comprehensive energy strategy.” At this point, it would be hard to say which part of the Administration’s argument—attempting to minimize drilling’s environmental impact or to maximize its strategic significance—is more misleading. [To get to the two-thousand-acre figure, you have to be willing to consider the “footprint” of, say, thirty miles’ worth of pipeline as just the area where the pipeline’s supports touch the ground.]
No one really knows how much oil lies under the 1002 area; a standard estimate is that seven and a half billion barrels are “technically recoverable.” [Some of the oil may be so expensive to extract that recovery isn’t economically feasible.] For most countries, a reserve of this size would represent a significant supply. Such is the United States’ thirst for petroleum, however, that seven and a half billion barrels is but a taste to a wino. The federal Energy Information Administration recently predicted that, if drilling is approved this year, crude could begin to flow from the Arctic Refuge in a decade, and production would peak, at around eight hundred and seventy-five thousand barrels a day, a dozen years later. The E.I.A. also anticipates that by then demand in the United States will be so high that the country will still have to import sixty-six per cent of its oil, only four per cent less than if the refuge were left untouched.
With or without drilling in the Arctic Refuge, global oil production is expected to start dropping sometime in the next several years, owing to dwindling reserves. A forward-looking energy plan would address this eventuality. Oil consumption in the United States has been steadily rising since Jimmy Carter left office, in 1981. If during that time fuel-efficiency standards for cars and light trucks had been raised by just five miles per gallon, we would now be using one and a half million barrels of oil less each day, and if they had been raised by ten miles per gallon we would be using two and a half million barrels of oil less each day. If fuel-efficiency standards were raised to forty miles per gallon—a level that is eminently achievable with current technology—the United States would save sixty billion barrels of oil over the next fifty years. Simply upgrading the standards for replacement tires so that they match those for tires on new cars would avert the need for seven billion barrels, which is roughly the same amount we could hope to get out of the Arctic Refuge.
So clear are the numbers that just about everyone—outside the White House and Capitol Hill—recognizes what’s needed. Recently, a group of military experts sent the President a letter urging him, as a matter of national security, to launch “a major new initiative to curtail U.S. consumption.” One signatory, Frank Gaffney, the head of the Center for Security Policy, told the Wall Street Journal that reducing oil demand is “no longer a nice thing to do—it’s imperative.” Preserving the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge won’t, of course, do anything to change energy use. But energy policy is no excuse for destroying it.
Woman who lived in a redwood in logging protest plans cross-country tour
April 8, 2005 | The Press Democrat | Tobias Young
A passenger bus being transformed on a west Petaluma farm is almost ready for the road to fame.
In its past life, the 1988 Prevost tour bus carried 50 passengers around Quebec as a means of public transportation. In its new life, it will be a vegetable-oil guzzling eco-bus that sleeps six and is outfitted with a custom kitchen, tile shower, bamboo floors and a high-tech rec room.
And it will be used on a cross-country tour by Julia "Butterfly" Hill, the green political icon best known for living in a tree for nearly two years to protest old-growth logging.
Hill stepped out of a towering Humboldt County redwood in 1999, after living in the tree she named Luna for for 738 days. She conducted interviews from the tree, wrote a book and became an environmental and humanitarian icon.
During most of her speaking engagements, she dresses in crisp black professional clothes and keeps her dark hair in a business-like cut that barely reaches her shoulders.
But she's also been in the streets, getting arrested in Ecuador in 2002 protesting pollution caused by U.S. oil companies.
"I absolutely love helping people, doing what I can to help make a difference in their communities" said Hill, 31.
She's says she's trying to send a message that people are living in a disconnected world, making choices like driving gas-guzzling SUVs instead of vehicles that don't need much gas or using paper towels instead of reusable cloths without considering how those choices affect the earth.
She says her 40-foot converted bus is testament to how she lives by example.
She says instead of just criticizing the way lifestyle or industrial choices are damaging the earth, it's necessary to show solutions.
For example, the bus features five fuel tanks that can hold 460 gallons of vegetable oil, enough to drive 2,500 miles without a fill-up. Hill and volunteers from her nonprofit Circle of Life organization will drive the bus to New York and back, stopping for appearances in 10 states along the way, starting next week with an event in Sacramento.
Using her big-name contacts in the music industry, she hopes to drum up enough interest to convince traveling groups to switch to buses like hers, showing that they don't have to sacrifice comfort or luxury.
"We're doing it very high-end because our goal is to transform the music industry," Hill said.
Among the bus' accoutrements are high-style bamboo flooring and cabinets framed by recycled redwood donated by Michael Deakin.
Deakin, who goes by the name Bug, was a custom-home builder but gave up his trade to run a lumber salvage company, Heritage Salvage.
His storage yard on a 5-acre former chicken farm on a small lane off Bodega Road is where the bus has been undergoing a transformation for the past month.
Virtually everything in the stripped-down bus is recycled or from a sustainable resource, like fast-growing and easily farmed bamboo.
More than three dozen volunteers have turned out for the transformation project, including Michael Bock, who built custom cabinets for the kitchen and recreation room.
Hill, who likes to encourage eating local, organic produce, said that she'll use the bus tour to suggest that people avoid products like carpet and traditional plywood that expose people to toxic chemicals in their homes.
She also plans to say that the country's current sources of energy are leading to serious environmental problems.
"There are more sustainable ways of transportation and we're running a bus on recycled vegetable oil - what would be considered a waste product," she said.
They'll refill at convenient stops across the country, pumping oil through filters from places like Mexican restaurants that store the oil in drums before getting rid of it.
Hill's "We the Planet" bus tour can be followed on her We the Planet bus tour website.