Monday, November 26, 2007

Conservative? Not when it comes to energy!

One of the things that always infuriated me about Ronald Regan was that upon arriving at the White House he ordered the solar panels that Jimmy Carter had installed taken down. How short sighted was this so-called great American President? Apparently very short sighted! If the U.S. government had subsidized alternative energy to a fraction of the degree that we subsidized agriculture, the auto industry or defense contractors, to name a few, we would be light years ahead of the rest of the world today and a true leader in the stewardship of the planet.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

58,000 Gallons of Heavy Crude Oil

We've been dealing with oil spills in the U.S. for more than 20 years. You would think we'd have figured out how to protect our rivers, bays, harbors and oceans from these environmental disasters that kill wildlife, destroy habitats, as well as damage local economies.

The San Jose Mercury News has published a story on how to help. You can also consider a gift to Audubon California who has a center on the bay and been involved in cleanup activities since the spill occurred.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The Earth from Afar

Edge contributer Steven Pinker has a nice short about this awesome picture of Saturn backlit by the Sun in a past issue of Edge. Far in the distance is the Earth, fantastic perspective. To see an additional image check out this link.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


In my never ending quest to follow the latest in web development I've created a profile,, over at Minti won a Web 2.0 award under the questions and advice category and is truly a well designed site focused on advice, friendship and community for parents.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Primates and New Environmentalism

The New Republic has two thought provoking items in their 24 September issue. One, a series of pictures of primates by Jill Greenberg is really stunning. The second is a new article titled Second Life: a manifesto for new environmentalism by controversial authors Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger. These are the same guys that wrote the Death of Environmentalism.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

We know so little...

From TED

EO Wilson on the Encyclopedia of Life

2007 TED Prize winner EO Wilson wished to create the key tool that we need to inspire preservation of Earth's biodiversity: the Encyclopedia of Life. On May 9th of this year, it was announced that a consortium of institutions were starting the work to make it happen. (Check out the video that Avenue A/Razorfish made for the launch.) In a piece in today's NY Times, Dr. Wilson explains why the creation of this encylopedia is crucial.

From the NY Times
September 6, 2007
Op-Ed Contributor

That’s Life

Cambridge, Mass.

IN one sense we know much less about Earth than we do about Mars. The vast majority of life forms on our planet are still undiscovered, and their significance for our own species remains unknown. This gap in knowledge is a serious matter: we will never completely understand and preserve the living world around us at our present level of ignorance. We are flying blind into our environmental future.

Since the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus inaugurated the modern system of classification two and a half centuries ago, biologists have found and given Latinized names to about 1.8 million species of plants, animals and microorganisms — an impressive number but probably 10 percent or less of the total. Rough estimates of the number of species that remain to be discovered range from 10 million to more than 100 million.

But a new project in biology, an ambitious effort to create a vast new electronic database of known species, should make it possible to discover the remaining 90 percent of species in far less than 250 years, perhaps only one-tenth that time, a single human generation. On May 9 of this year, a consortium of institutions from Harvard and the Smithsonian to The Atlas of Living Australia began compiling The Encyclopedia of Life, which one day will provide single-portal access to all knowledge of living organisms.

Why bother making such an effort? Because each species from a bacterium to a whale is a masterpiece of evolution. Each has persisted, its mix of genes slowly evolving, for thousands to millions of years. And each is exquisitely adapted to its environment and interlocks with a legion of other species to form the ecosystems upon which our own lives ultimately depend. We need to properly explore Earth’s biodiversity if we are to understand, preserve and manage it.

Recent advances in technology and science have made it possible to compile, and enlarge, The Encyclopedia of Life. The accelerating pace of nucleic acid sequencing allows scientists to read any organism’s complete genetic code. A single viral or bacterial species can be decoded in hours, making the immense world of microorganisms — the “dark matter of the biosphere” — at last open to swift exploration.

The Encyclopedia of Life will contain an infinitely expandable page for each species, with links as needed, providing whatever is known of the species from its DNA to its place in the environment and its importance to humanity. It will ensure that existing knowledge is freely available to anyone, everywhere, at any time. And, most important, it will accelerate the discovery of the unknown species.

This should deliver immediately practical benefits. The discovery of wild plant species adaptable for agriculture, medicine and other uses, for example, will be speeded up, while disease-causing bacteria and viruses may be discovered and controlled before they can cause widespread harm.

It is crucial that we move quickly, as ecosystems and species are disappearing — due to habitat destruction, pollution, overpopulation and excessive hunting and fishing, as well as invasive species like fire ants, zebra mussels, bacteria and viruses. Human-caused climate change alone could eliminate a quarter of species during the next five decades.

What will we and future generations lose if a large part of the living environment continues to disappear? Huge potential stores of scientific information will never exist. Novel classes of pharmaceuticals and future crops will be thrown away. Ecological services like water purification, soil renewal and pollination — which are approximately equal to the world gross domestic product, and given away by natural ecosystems — will be diminished. Environmental stability will be harder to achieve.

The Encyclopedia of Life is science with a deadline. We have set a goal to organize and enter all basic information on the 1.8 million known species within 10 years. This is an ambitious timetable, but it is important to establish the project as big science, on par with the human genome project — a priority of biology that is ultimately supported with both government and private financing and with the participation of scientists worldwide. Even a partial success will be of incalculable value to humanity, and to the rest of life, for all time.

Edward O. Wilson, an emeritus professor of biology at Harvard, is the author, most recently, of “The Creation: An Appeal to Save Life on Earth.”

Friday, August 10, 2007

Another Great Disgrace in U.S. History

Time Magazine's August 13th issue leads with a cover highlighting just how pathetic the situation in New Orleans is. One of the United States greatest cities was abandoned by the country that should have been there to help its residents and its culture and history. Instead we watched, made a spectacle and otherwise abandoned the people, the wonder, and the mystic that makes New Orleans what it is. All the while we shipped U.S. citizens overseas to fight a war that was ill contrived at best, cost billions of dollars and has disrupted a fragile region of the world.

The current government, correction the current presidential administration and its cronies are to blame for these atrocities. The U.S. public is to blame to for not holding responsible those that have lead us down the wrong paths, while overlooking the needs of the people we are most responsible to.

Another set of stories and images about another U.S. tragedy. Will the U.S. wake up, will we solve these problems or will we ignore those things around us while we revel in our own gluttony?

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Walked Lately?

Visit the walk score website to see how well your home or office location rates in terms of walkability. This is a great way to evaluate one of the green or not so green aspects of the places you spend a lot of your time. I'm excited to know that my new home scores a 66, and not surprised that my office scored an eight.

How well did you do and will you walk?

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Keepin it real!

Gabriel Delahaye: The G-8 Protesters Are Clowns

The annual G-8 Summit is well underway in Heiligendamm, and as is de rigeur with the anarchist middle-to-upper-middle-class white kids of the world, the meeting of the world's leaders is being protested. Fine. I understand the aversion that the Avril Lavignes of the world feel towards globalization and a free-market economy, but the part that I don't get is why they are confused that no one takes them seriously.

A motley band of more than 800 protesters -- some sporting fluorescent wigs and clown noses -- scampered through woods and across fields to evade police patrols Wednesday and reach the barbed-wire fence sealing off the Group of Eight summit.

Oh, good work. Nothing says "take me seriously, I have important views on the geopolitical situation that need to be heard" like CLOWN COSTUMES.


You know, just because you think George Bush is an asshole, it doesn't make you not an asshole.

Maybe when you are finished squeezing out of your Clown Peugeot, you can take your protest to Kid Nation. I think that a bunch of nine-year-olds drunk off of nickel root beers would be really open to the idea that parents just don't understand.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Pictures for words...

1 picture = 1000 words

We all know the old saw about a picture being worth a thousand words. As Chris Jordan's new photography exhibit shows, that same picture might also be worth:
  • The 8 million trees harvested monthly for US mail order catalogs;
  • 2 million plastic bottles used every 5 minutes;
  • 11,000 jet trails over the US every 8 hours;
  • 426,000 cell phones thrown out daily;
  • 60,000 plastic bags, the number used in the US every 5 seconds; or
  • 29,569 handguns, one for every gun death in the US in 2004.
Check out the photos. If you are in New York between June 14 and July 31 check it out in person. The photos really do justice to these sobering statistics.

If only he had a picture of the 260 billion dollars Americans gave to charity last year (at least some of which was intended to address the problems shown in the other photos).

The picture above depicts eight million toothpicks, equal to the number of trees harvested in the US every month to make the paper for mail order catalogs.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Another crook!

Deputy assistant secretary at the Interior Department, Julie A. MacDonald, resigned after accusations that she violated Federal rules by giving industry access to sensitive documents and even altering the results of agency scientists' work. While environmental advocates welcome this news, the mitigation community is also likely to be happy that environmental regulation will be rigorously enforced.

Read the New York Times article

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Another Brick in the Wall

Apparently whatever the Bush administration can't defeat outright they like to wall in. Bag News Notes reported on walls being erected in Baghdad to keep feuding factions apart and we are fairly familiar with the Administration's interest in putting up a fence from the Pacific to the Gulf to keep our friends from Mexico from coming north. Something about regressing back to the 1940's seems to be going on here...

The war rages on...

This from the New York Times...

Meanwhile we continued to be seemingly completely distracted by our domestic issues...

In the worst of the attacks, a car bomb exploded at an intersection in the Sadriya neighborhood that serves as a station for buses traveling to the Shiite district of Sadr City. The powerful blast killed at least 115 people and wounded 137.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Silly Birds...

Dark-eyed Junco with nesting mustache. This 'mustachioed junco' was taken in northern Maine during last year's American Birding Association convention, held in Bangor."
- Photo by Steve Bass of Altadena, California

Friday, April 6, 2007

TED Talks

Lots of things in life speak for themselves. The challenge is slowing down long enough to listen. Here's one of those things that you should slow down for, exceptional thoughts from exceptional people.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Corn, a veritable sea of kernels!

Over at Mulch, Ken Cook has posted about the prediction of a record year of corn growing. The statistics are phenomenal and quite disturbing in the context of biodiversity conservation.

Here's a taste...

Corn growers intend to plant 90.5 million acres of corn for all
purposes in 2007, up 15 percent from 2006 and 11 percent higher
than 2005. If realized this would be the highest acreage since
1944, when 95.5 million acres were planted for all purposes.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Perspectives from around the world...

From the scout report...

Yann Arthus-Bertrand is well-known for his multimedia projects which have taken photographic journeys across the globe, and this latest project continues in that visually rich tradition. His latest project, which is documented on this lovely site, looks at the lives of people from all around the world. Visitors to this site should start by listening to Arthus-Bertrand speak about his inspiration for this project, which came to him while speaking with a villager in Mali. After that, visitors can listen to some of the interviews which have been recorded so far, including conversations with Silvia in Brazil and Gianmaria in Italy. Additionally, the site contains a podcast that is available to download. Such an ambitious project might be the envy of many a journalist or social scientist, and it is a site that warrants several visits.

Are biofuels really the answer?

We should be very concerned about the Bush administration's advocation of ethanol and other biofuels in the absence of an understanding of the environmental and social impacts. The amount of sugar cane or corn that will be needed to help supplement the U.S. desire for energy will be vast. The possible loss of critical habitats, species, and effects on people need to be investigated before we get too far down this road...

This from

Even as Roy Masters was talking about generating energy from gravity, George W. Bush was cutting a deal with President Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva of Brazil to use ethanol. It made about as much sense. We've been through this before: Brazil makes ethanol from sugar cane. We grown corn. Corn is food. The diversion of food to fuel, even at today's trivial level, has already inflated the price of corn in Mexico, sending Mexicans north for better paying jobs. Toxic waste from fermentation of sugar cane is dumped in the Amazon. We don't have an Amazon. Because the energy balance is precarious, sugar cane must be harvested in Brazil by hand. That condemns vast numbers of laborers to serfdom. We don't have serfs - yet. What we do have is lots of people who are capable of running the numbers for the President to see if ethanol is any kind of a solution. None of these people seem to be in the White House.

Bank of America and Sustainable?

One of my least favorite institutions has pledge to work towards environmental sustainability. Guess I'll have to rethink how much I dislike them...

from Treehugger

Bank of America has introduced a $20 billion, 10-year initiative that will encourage the development of environmentally sustainable business practices. The bank will push the green agenda through lending, investing, philanthropy, and the creation of new products and services. The company reports that it will provide $18 billion in lending and advice to help commercial clients finance the use and production of sustainable products and services. Furthermore, Bank of America will commit $1.4 billion to achieve LEED certification in all its new offices and banking centers. An additional $50 million will be donated to nonprofit organizations that focus on forest preservation, energy conservation, affordable green housing, and other environmentally conscious activities. Finally, the bank will invest $100 million in internal energy efficiency initiatives. See also ::Bank of America Offering Hybrid Reimbursement and ::Greener Offices in New York

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Oh those conservatives....

Tom Gilroy has written an outrageous article highlighting the ridiculousness of the current conservative candidates for president as well as our wonderful President and his cronies. It's quite an amusing read.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

How pathetic is it that this guy is the leader of the U.S.? Plenty to rant about on this topic but the picture below just about sums it up!

Chris Weigant: Bush's "Peace Sign" Photo Caption Contest

Photo Credit: By Gerald Herbert -- Associated Press
Photo found on
Read the accompanying article to see what Bush really said.

President Bush tried to duck the Iraq war debate in Congress by appearing at a YMCA yesterday. Unfortunately, the kids don't seem to have gotten the memo, and are having fun flashing peace signs. An obviously annoyed Bush is seen trying to push one child's arm down, while saying...

What caption would you write for this photo? The possibilities are endless!

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Pigs are smart, a dilemma...

It's too bad they taste good. The least we could do is eat less of them. For the full story go here.

  • Andrea James says,
    Speaking of the poor pigs, ever seen a state of the art Jarvis bung dropper? Link. Be sure to watch the vid at upper right: Link. Not to be confused with a bung cleaner: Link. Or bung ring expander: Link. Or lung gun: Link. Or spinal cord remover: Link. Other fun links for kill floors and carcass prep: Link.

    Go veggie! I attached a pic of the best way to taste a pig.