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THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION, ONCE AGAIN, SAY’S NO TO SARAH PALIN

Posted in Endangered Species, Humane Treatment of Animals, News Brief on October 18th, 2008

GRANTS BELUGA WHALE ENDANGERED SPECIES PROTECTION OVER THE GOVERNOR’S OBJECTIONS

In what is a clear win for environmentalists, the Bush administration on Friday, over the objections of Alaska Governor, Sarah Palin, granted endangered species protection to the beluga whales that live in Alaska’s, Cook Inlet. This is the second time this year that the Bush administration has acted in opposition to the wishes off Governor Palin’s administration, the other time being when it granted similar protections to the Alaskan polar bear.

Governor Palin, a well-known foe of the environment, had opposed the beluga listing mainly because of its potential to restrict coastal and offshore oil and gas development.

MORE AFTER THE JUMP

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CALCULATING YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT: PART ONE

Posted in Ethical Living, Global Warming, News Brief on October 16th, 2008

ALL PRODUCTS HAVE A CARBON FOOTPRINT. SEE HOW SOME OF LIFE’S BASICS MEASURE UP

First came organic. Then came fair trade. Now makers of everything from milk to jackets to cars are starting to tally up the carbon footprints of their products. That’s the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that get coughed into the air when the goods are made, shipped and stored, and then used by consumers.

So far, these efforts raise as many questions as they answer. Different companies are counting their products’ carbon footprints differently, making it all but impossible for shoppers to compare goods. And even if consumers come to understand the numbers, they might not like what they find out.

For instance, many products’ global-warming impact depends less on how they’re made than on how they’re used. That means the easiest way to cut carbon emissions may be to buy less of a product or use it in a way that’s less convenient.

MORE AFTER THE JUMP

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CALIFORNIAN’S STAND UP AGAINST ANIMAL CRUELTY

Posted in Conscious Actions, Corporate Greed, Humane Treatment of Animals, News Brief on October 11th, 2008

NEW BALLOT INITIATIVE WILL PROHIBIT SOME OF THE MORE INHUMANE PRACTICES OF FACTORY FARMS

Chickens in cruel battery cagesThis Election Day, November 4th, Californians will have the opportunity to vote to bring an end to some of the more inhumane and cruel practices of factory farms.

The ballot initiative, known as Proposition 2, if passed, will force California ranchers to ensure that their chickens, veal calves and breeding pigs are housed in such a way that they have ample room to stand up, turn around or stretch. This is a far cry from the current method of penning the animals so tightly together that movement is all but impossible.

While the measure is a far cry from the ideal of allowing the animals to live cage free, as about 10% of California’s egg producing chickens do, according to today’s Associated Press, it is the farthest-reaching measure dealing with farm animal treatment ever put before voters in any state.

Needless to say major egg producers are opposing the initiative and insist the current method of mass production where California’s 19 million egg-laying chickens are crammed six at a time into 2 square foot wire cages for their entire life is the most efficient way to deliver inexpensive eggs.

To prevent Proposition 2 from passing, opponents have raised nearly $7.5 million, including donations of $100,000 or more from at least 15 poultry producers. Along with the large cash donations are the threats that egg producers will move out of state or across the boarder into Mexico if voters approve Proposition 2.

The good news is that supporters of Proposition 2 have raised nearly the same amount of money with a $3.8 million contribution from the Humane Society enhancing individual donations.

Proposition 2’s restrictions would take effect in 2015. Violations carry the ridiculously low fine of $1,000, but I guess that this is a start.

- – Denis

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THE EFFORTLESS WAY TO SUPPORT ALTERNATIVE ENERGY TECHNOLOGY

Posted in Alternative Energy, Clean Energy, Ethical Living on October 9th, 2008

SWITCHING YOUR HOME TO ALTERNATIVE ENERGY MAY BE AS EASY AS MAKING A PHONE CALL

Clean Renewable Energy

Clean Renewable EnergyPutting your money where your principles are for many of us means switching our homes to alternatively produced sources of renewable energy. Now contrary to what you might think, this does not mean running out and purchasing a roof full of solar panels, nor does it mean that you will have to did up that precious backyard veggie garden to make room for an ugly old windmill. No my friends, it is not that complicated. Usually all it takes is a phone call to your local energy provider. And best of all, powering your home with clean, green, renewable energy doesn’t cost all that much more than your current electrical service.

To learn more, contact your local energy provider.

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SHORT TAKES

Posted in News Brief on October 7th, 2008

CALIFORNIA ADDS THE NATION’S FIRST LAW TO CONTROL GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS BY CURBING SPRAWL

Recently, California’s own Green Governator, Ahnold Schwarzenegger gave the go ahead to a landmark bill – - SB 375 by Senator Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) – - designed to control greenhouse gas emissions by curbing sprawl. SB 375 will prioritize funding for transportation projects that reduce urban sprawl and limit commute times. The bill is expected to have a major impact in the years to come as California’s cities grow.

Speaking of our Ahnold, lest anyone think that Maria’s boy toy has lost his republican edge, Schwarzenegger recently scrapped a proposal – -allegedly at the behest of VP Wanabee, Sarah Palin – - which would have imposed a “pollution tax” on all cargo entering California’s deep-water ports. Schwarzenegger’s action will rob the state off much needed funding that would have been earmarked for clean air activities.

In other miscellaneous California green news, the Governator also refused to authorize $3.1 million in funding for the state’s Department of Fish and Game to protect salmon, steelhead and a range of other endangered and threatened species , or to sign a bill, which would have banned toxic chemicals from food packaging.

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NEWS WATCH! CONGRESS SAYS ADIEU WITHOUT ADDRESSING GLOBAL WARMING

Posted in Global Warming, Government Shenanigans, News Brief on October 3rd, 2008

BUT THEY DID LEAVE BEHIND A SET OF PRINCIPLES TO AID THE NEXT CONGRESS IN CREATING COMPREHENSIVE GLOBAL WARMING LEGISLATION

The now empty CapitolWell friends, another legislative session has come and gone and still we don’t have a simple, coherent, well thought out plan to deal with Global Warming.

What we do have is a to-do list of principles; promises basically, intended to guide the next Congress when and if they finally get around to drafting comprehensive global warming legislation.

The principles, the brain child of House members Henry Waxman (D-CA), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Jay Inslee (D-WA), and co-signed by 152 of their fellow members include:

Reduce emissions to avoid dangerous global warming;

Transition America to a clean energy economy;

Recognize and minimize any economic impacts from global warming legislation; and

Aid communities and ecosystems vulnerable to harm from global warming.


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COMMENTARY! WHAT THE WALL STREET MELTDOWN COULD MEAN TO THE GREEN ENERGY BUSINESS

Posted in Clean Energy, Renewable Energy on September 29th, 2008

TIGHTER CREDIT COULD MAKE IT MORE DIFFICULT TO FUND THE SOLAR AND WIND INSTALLATIONS THAT ARE THE BACKBONE OF THE GREEN ENERGY REVOLUTION

While Congress battles back and forth on the pluses and minuses of the Wall Street bailout, this is as good a time as any to ponder what this financial mess could mean to the survival and expansion of the wind and solar energy industry in this country.

But before doing this, it might be good if we take a minute and define what sets wind and solar energy apart from more traditional energy sources such as oil, natural gas, coal and nuclear power, as there appears to be quite a bit of confusion on this matter.

For the record, wind and solar energy are renewable; meaning as long as the sun shines and the wind blows, the supply is limitless. They are also non-toxic, and can be harvested without destroying mountains, poisoning rivers and streams, or ruining the health of unsuspecting people and animals.

Even better, wind and solar energy are local, they’re ours and they are free. And after years of being screwed by Middle East oil despots, free is a good thing.

Lastly, wind and solar energy leave no carbon footprint. There are no tankers, trucks or trains for it to be loaded on. Simple transmission lines from the facility to the grid are all that is required.

Considering the positives that wind and solar energy bring to the table, you would think that Corporate America would be tripping over one another in the rush to take significant positions in this new and futuristic industry. But with the exception of a few mavericks, most notably oil billionaire, T. Boone Pickens, the investments have been few and far between.

This ho-hum, wait and see business model on the part of our nation’s energy companies is surprising behavior considering the public demand for clean renewable energy. And while many of these same companies have moved in and bought up the entire inventories of privately funded wind and solar operations, few have opted to invest in infrastructure.

If I had to speculate as to the reasons for the hesitancy, my best guess would be that it stems from a decision by many of the older, more established energy companies to see if they can ride out this whole renewable energy thing, until such time as the public moves on to something else, and they can go back to business as usual. To help move things along, many of these companies are sponsoring big-dollar television advertising campaigns hoping to confuse the public into thinking that older, dirtier fuel sources such as coal and the so-called clean coal, natural gas and nuclear power are clean and environmentally friendly. Here in Orange County, California, three such campaigns are currently running.

Now this would be laughable, if it wasn’t so damn sinister. But the sad truth is these campaigns are being effective. Part of this is the tenor of the times. It is very difficult to think clearly on such a (for now) non-important matter as to where your electricity comes from and if it is renewable, when you are worried about hanging onto your house and putting food on the table.

The energy companies know this and they are using it to their advantage. Where in better economic times, all but the most out of touch would see these obviously false ads linking nasty, toxic coal, highly explosive, natural gas and the most destructive element known to man, nuclear power to renewable energy, they would rise up and in one voice yell, Hell No!

Because everybody knows that coal is not clean, and while science may have taken steps in that direction, to date there is no such product. Nor has the nuclear industry developed a way of treating and safely disposing of spent nuclear material, or for that matter of preventing Chernobyl sized meltdowns.

It’s almost surreal to think of these energy sources as being anything other than what they are. But much about life today is surreal. Wall Street falling almost eight hundred points, yesterday, and loosing over a trillion with a “t” dollars is surreal. Our county having to come up with 700 billion dollars to cover the asses of a bunch of elitist, arrogant, well-connected, so-called financial experts is sure as hell surreal, as is the people in jail for stealing mere hundreds. Pondering the lesson that our children will take from this – - to steal billions and not hundreds – – is surreal. But the surrealist of all is the uncertainty, the not knowing what the future will bring and if, as a nation, we will have the money necessary to buy into it.

My big fear is that with the problems on Wall Street, the collapses in the banking industry, and tightening of the credit market, it will become difficult, if not impossible, to raise the massive amounts of capital that it takes to construct the solar and wind installations that form the backbone of the green energy revolution

To realistically compete with the older, more established energy sources, wind and solar installations require extensive land commitments. Significant sums must then be spent, not only on the hardware, which captures and converts the energy into electricity, but also on the feeder lines, which carry the power from the often remote locations of these installations to the electric grid. The good news is that once wind and solar installations come on line, their operational cost is minimal, perhaps pennies on the dollar.

Without serious government subsidies, which may not be possible in the wake of our current financial woes, tougher to obtain credit could be a real game changer for the Green Energy industry, as it would force developers to turn to private and corporate entities for their financing, which when available usually comes with unwanted and unneeded encumbrances and partnerships.

The there is also the matter that neither of these sectors has shown any interest in participating in the green energy industry.

The expected credit crunch will also have serious effects on the companies building wind and solar apparatus. Many of these are smaller entities dependent on lines of credit and other financing vehicles for their survival. Tight or more expensive credit could force many of the smaller players out of the marketplace. All of which leaves the market wide open for the coal and nuclear industries with their deep pockets and government contacts to make even further inroads into the energy industry.

And the sad thing is there is probably not a damn thing we can do about it.

- – Denis Donovan

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NEWS WATCH! SENATE RENEWS TAX BREAKS FOR RENEWABLE ENERGY

Posted in Alternative Energy, Clean Energy on September 24th, 2008

LEGISLATION EXPECTED TO TRIPLE INVESTMENT IN RENEAWABLE ENERGY INDUSTRY AND CREATE UP TO 440,000 JOBS.

It was good to see bailout mania in the US Senate grind to a halt long enough, yesterday, for the Senators to take up a matter critical to Environmentalists – -the new tax bill.

As we reported on this site as early as August 12th of this year, the current investment tax credits for the solar power industry and for homeowners installing solar and wind equipment were due to expire at the end of he year. The fact that Congress had to date failed to renew these credits was widely being blamed at that time for the slowdown of investment in the renewable energy sector.

The action, which the Senate took yesterday in overwhelmingly passing the new tax bill by a vote of 92-2, will correct that situation. Besides renewing, through 2016, the investment tax credit for those investing in the solar power industry, and for homeowners who install solar and wind equipment at their home, the package worth a total of $17 billion dollars, is expected to more than triple investment in the industry to $325 billion dollars, while creating about 440,000 jobs between now and 2016.
Source: Solar Energy Association as reported on MSNBC.com.

Additionally, Taxpayers will be able to claim a credit of up to $7,500 for purchasing plug-in electric cars, and production credits are extended to wind, biomass and wave and tide facilities. There are incentives to use smart meters for more efficient home energy use.

- – Denis

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FORBES MAGAZINE’S GUIDE TO AMERICA’S TOP MEDITATION RETREATS

Posted in Consciousness, Health Watch on September 18th, 2008

A VACATION OF A DIFFERENT SORT

meditation3.jpgMeditation, once the domain of Buddhist’s, new-agers, and Indian holy men, has in recent years garnered mainstream acceptance for its almost magical ability to lower cholesterol, ease pain, curb insomnia, boost the immune system, and control depression.

Recently many Americans have started to make meditation a key part of their vacation plans. This has led to the growth of a new industry, of meditation themed retreats specially outfitted to service a population hungering for inner peace.

Forbes magazine, in the current issue, surveyed the best of these retreats. (Follow the link at the bottom of this posting). Represented are resorts that run the gamut from Esalen, which is famous as being the birthplace of the Human Potential Movement, to lesser known retreats in Colorado, Kentucky, Upstate New York and Hawaii.

Having stayed at Esalen a few times over the years, I can attest to its rejuvenating effects on mind, body and spirit. The location is exquisite, carved into a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean in majestic Big Sur, California. The retreat’s natural mineral baths, a key part of the Esalen experience, are famous world over for their ability to cleanse mind and body, as is the style of massage, which bears its name.

- Denis

Learn more about Esalen

Link to Forbes guide to top meditation retreats

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NEWS WATCH! BAD DAYS MAY BE AHEAD FOR SOLAR INDUSTRY

Posted in Alternative Energy, Clean Energy, Congressional Inaction, Cool Products, News Brief on September 17th, 2008

CONGRESS DRAGS ITS FEET RENEWING FEDERAL INVESTMENT TAX CREDIT

solarmodul1.JPGThe way it looks today, the federal investment tax credit (ITC), the financial instrument that powers many American homeowner’s move to solar power, may go away at the end of this year, unless Congress puts their partisan differences aside and renews the credit.

Should the ITC be allowed to expire, the cost to the US’s fledging Solar Industry could be as much as $8 billion dollars in investments and more than 39,000 solar-related jobs in 2009 alone.

Whereas should the ITC be renewed between now and the end of the year, “it could create enough solar energy to power as many as five million homes and provide tens of thousands of new jobs while eliminating 130 million metric tons of CO2 emissions per year”, according to NatGeo’s Green Guide.

Hopefully we will not have to wait until the next administration to see action on this all-important measure. What our elected officials, regardless of party affiliation, need to appreciate is that besides significantly reducing our nation’s carbon footprint, support of green industry and the jobs that it would create, would go a long way toward healing the ills created by the outsourcing of so many American jobs. Fix the job situation in this country and everything will work itself out.

– Denis

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