Thursday, March 19, 2009
|The push towards the electric car||Contact Republican leaders|
|President Obama's March 19 visit to a|
California electric vehicle test site is good news.
The Department of Energy tests and evaluates electric cars at the
Electric Vehicle Technical Center run by Southern California Edison.
Obama has often discussed both solar power and electric cars. Both would
help free the nation from dependence on expensive foreign energy
|Republicans have a choice to follow the trail to|
environmental prosperity or grind their wheels in the dust of a a trail
called "No." A do-nothing approach won't get us anywhere as a country.
Here's petition for activist Republican leaders and a chance for you to
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Big expensive power plants, or small distribution centers. How do we think about redesigning the grid? Is it analogous to the mainframe computer versus the PC network again, only now we're talking about electricity instead of bits and bytes?
This issue is one of the most formidable challenges for engineers and scientists, energy plants, legislators, and the country at large within the next few years. Decisions taken soon will have ramifications for decades to come.
For an interesting post and excellent reader comments, see this NY Times article and reader feedback at:
Sunday, March 01, 2009
George Will is losing it. On Feb. 16, he insisted (as usual) there's no such thing as global warming. Even self-appointed energy "expert" Sarah Palin backed down on that assertion -- she just doesn't admit humans have anything to do with it.
George doesn't have to worry about the electorate, so he can continue to defend Exxon or the coal lobby or whoever is supported his claims. These behind-the-scenes supporters make George really brave. In this case bravery descended to bravado when he made up his own science and cited the Arctic Climate Research group from the University of Illinois as backup.
Trouble is, he didn't quote them accurately. Here's what they really have to say.
Sea ice extent averaged over the Northern Hemisphere has decreased correspondingly over the past 50 years . . . . The largest change has been observed in the summer months with decreases exceeding 30%.
----- from Arctic Climate Research at the University of Illinois (http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/)
George keeps making the same mistake. When he wants to get explanations about science, he prefers the views of a political scientist like Bjorn Lomborg instead of a Nobel physicist like Steven Chu. Interesting. Do you suppose when he's sick, he just talks to the paper boy instead of a doctor?
Poor George. Perhaps he's lost his capacity to read and understand. So, since a picture is worth a thousand words, we'd like to suggest that he try NASA photos instead. I'll bet George's paper carrier can see that there's a lot less ice in 2003 than in 1980.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
What are those shovel-ready projects going to build? More highways to take up more cars to use up more gas to put us more in debt to oil-producing countries?
What we really need is more fast, efficient light rail transport. And more efficient buildings that use less energy.
It's not going to happen unless we make our voices heard locally. So write to your mayor, your governor, your state representatives. They are going to use the stimulus to get more votes, and yours is one of them.
Saturday, February 07, 2009
Many Alaskans hunt moose and caribou for food. Shooting wolves is supposed to help those folks. But a wildlife biologist in Scientific American says Alaskans might be better off hunting bears. But here's the real rub, according to commenter "AlaskanLady":
Declarations that the program is for the benefit of subsistence hunters are shattered with documentation showing that sport and trophy hunters take up to 73% of prey in areas where aerial wolf hunting has taken place.
Thursday, February 05, 2009
A reader writes to the Anchorage Daily News on Palin's Esquire interview:
Palin insults Americans while she jockeys for the Republican nomination in 2012. If she learned everything from sports, no wonder she knows nothing of history, law, science, foreign policy -- the topics that national leaders must know. And these are not topics you can master in four years, especially if you have no intellectual curiosity.Palin has been pretty unsporting when it comes to back-stabbing her mentors, misusing public money, and changing her tune when it was convenient. From the days when she challenged critics on her use of $50,000 of the road budget to redecorate her office -- replying in effect, so SUE ME -- she has demonstrated a clear indifference to the standards of ethics and fiscal responsibility that Republicans (especially the evangelical ones) like to claim.
As for the media, television coverage during the campaign tiptoed around her most obvious defects: Ifill allowed her to refuse to anwer debate questions because Ifill was cowed. Bloggers are not cowed. Bloggers, anonymous or not, have a right to their opinions, and in the case of Baby Trig, while assertions he was really Bristol's child are pretty preposterous, there are plenty of questions Palin could have answered: why didn't the Mat-Su hospital post his birth announcement? why did she engage in behavior that risked the baby's life/health on a long flight from Texas?
And her flipflop on the Bridge to Nowhere is the prelude to the latest Palin double-speak on the stimulus. A Cato Institute report is keeping tabs on GOP governors:
In the “give me my pork” camp are governors Sarah Palin, Charlie Crist, and Tim Pawlenty. Palin, darling of many “movement” conservatives came all the way to Washington to lobby for the bill.So after saying said she'd take the money, Palin then announced she was opposed to the bill. Who said you couldn't have your pork and eat it too?
"It’s a long way to 2012, of course, but it looks like Republican voters will have some clear choices."Surely Cato's author is joking.
Make that UNclear.
Sunday, February 01, 2009
Or removing unnecessary light bulbs. How about turning off all, or at least most, nighttime lighting in upper floors of office buildings? Cheap and effective.
How about installing electronic thermostats to raise and lower temperatures at scheduled times? And do we really need to light up every house roof during the holiday season? Maybe a Christmas tree and a few electric candles would give our houses that warm, old-fashioned-Christmas look.
Okay, what about bigger efforts? Let's change the subject to cars. According to Congressman John Dingell, Americans love big cars. Personally, I think they're hard to drive, harder still to park, and hardest of all to feed. But let's give the Congressman the benefit of the doubt and assume that you really, really need that big SUV in your driveway.
Back in 2002, MIT’s Technology Review asked the question, “Why Not a 40-MPG SUV?” The technologies already existed to make exactly that. By using control systems that minimize energy losses in the engine, by more efficient electrical components, by improving the power train, cutting weight, and reducing resistance, automotive engineers could have given the public a trendy, popular vehicle that saved gas and thus reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
According to the authors, these technologies (of seven years ago) could move average fuel economy of cars from 27 to 46 mpg, and SUVs from 21 to 40 mpg. It sadly concluded,
What would these improvements have meant for America? A 30% decrease in greenhouse gases. And two million barrels of oil A DAY! That was 75% of what we imported then from the Middle East.
So let us not wait to start an energy revolution. Let's begin immediately. While we're planning on the next generation of lithium ion batteries, cheaper thin-film photovoltaics, and efficiently produced biofuels like cellulosic ethanol, let's take action. We'd do pretty well just adopting yesterday's energy solutions from our businesses and our government.
Saturday, January 31, 2009
The first is that the most dogmatic groups in any religion will tolerate views different from their own -- they won't. The second is a total misunderstanding of why abortion foes object to abortion.
The issue is not when "life" begins, since unfertilized eggs are already alive in a new-born female. Nor is the issue whether you are "pro-life" or not. The term "pro-life" is meaningless.
Everybody is PRO-LIFE, whether they are against all abortions, some, or none. People who believe in reproductive "choice" are not in favor of death, for heaven's sake; they simply do not believe that an egg, fertilized or not, constitutes a human being. They differ over when an embryo or fetus should be considered a human being, and in general believe that reproduction is a personal concern over which neither the Constitution nor a specific Congress ought to make decisions.
The issue is "ensoulment," or, whether the sperm implants a soul into the egg, or whether the embryo receives a soul at some later stage. Arguments over this topic go back millennia and are not about to be resolved any time soon. Complex positions on abortion occur within Christianity, Judaism and other major religions.
Within Christianity, some people believe that souls were created by God before Time and are implanted within the fetus during development, the exact stage varying from implantation (6-8 days) to quickening (18-20 weeks) to brain waves (20-27 weeks) to viability (about 28 weeks). Both Plato and Aristotle believed that the embryo acquired a soul during fetal development, a position later adopted by St. Augustine, in contradistinction to some other early Church Fathers.
Another time-honored belief is that the soul enters the body at birth. This belief is founded on the Biblical verse in Genesis: "Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being" (Genesis 2:7).
Culture wars on abortion cannot be stopped by one side's compromising on its most fundamental premises. Abortion foes oppose all abortions and make no exceptions. But their real agenda is revealed in their other positions: basically, they want to make sure women who engage in sexual activity are penalized by having a baby. Why else do these same people object to birth control education, information, medication, and devices? If reducing abortions were their real goal, they would support every possible family planning effort.
Linker refers to people who believe in reproductive choice as "liberals." These so-called liberals, however, may or may not think that all abortions are justified, may indeed disapprove of many abortions. But they do not oppose birth control, the morning-after pill, or complete sex education. Many of them believe that over-population, unloving parenting, and producing children for homes that cannot support them are immoral actions that victimize children. Many so-called liberals also have observed that people who do a poor job of supporting their children actually impose their reproductive choices on others, since taxpayers then have to cough up welfare payments, school taxes, and increased health care costs distributed across the populace. Yet these same "liberals" do not attempt to force legislators to impose their views on the public.
Americans do not and cannot agree on abortion, so the least antagonistic perspective is to agree that you will not dictate my reproductive choices if I don't dictate yours. No one is forced in the USA to have an abortion, not even the unmarried woman who just added eight likely unhealthy babies to her previous brood of six.
Culture wars won't stop when "pro-choice" advocates give up on their position. They will stop when we learn to tolerate each other's freedom to make individual choices. Period.