Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Our Dying Planet

In a report form Michael Graczyk of the Associated Press, researchers at Texas A&M University, led by Steve DeMarco have noted that the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico is expected to be larger than ever this year. The dead zone is an area where ocean life cannot live. The runoff from fertilizers and other petro-chemicals are the suspected culprits. According to other researchers at LSU and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association this zone will be roughly the size of New Jersey. Other dead zones have been discovered throughout the world.

What are we doing to ourselves? Must we kill every living thing on the planet before we concede that there is a problem? Global warming, the energy crisis, dead zones in the ocean, shifting animal migration patterns, rising extinction rates, all have one common link: humans.

It is our lifestyle that is creating a myriad of problems across the globe. Attempts to address any of these issues without addressing the way in which we live in the 21st century will all be doomed to fail unless we confront the underlying basis of these problems. Lifestyles based on consumption and the accumulation of material goods all demand an approach to the world that only exacerbates our problems.

As long as the well-being of humanity is defined as living a life of ease and the needs of the economy are the primary factors under consideration we will never solve the problems mentioned herein. In fact, far from solving them, we can expect that the current approach will lead to false solutions, which at best, will allow us to hold even. Treading water is no way to progress.

The health of the planet must become our primary consideration. An approach that attempts to restore the overall health of the earth would begin to solve many of our other problems as well. This is not a novel idea nor do I claim credit for it. Living sustainably, in harmony with the earth, is wisdom that many indigenous cultures have tried to pass along. Will we listen?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Myth of Energy Independence

For the past several months politicians and pundits of all stripes have talked of the need for energy independence. Discussions center on the need to make the U.S. free of the control of its energy supply by foreign, often hostile, governments. The rationale, as the discussion usually goes, is that if we could just free ourselves of these entanglements then we would have no energy concerns.

This discussion, and the whole idea of energy independence, ignores reality and is dependent on many faulty assumptions. The first of these faulty assumptions is the idea that if foreign governments were out of the picture then there would be no problems. All that happens in this scenario is that instead of being beholden to Saudi Arabia we are beholden to Exxon-Mobil. For all practical purposes what difference does it make if the price is being inflated for geopolitical reasons or for profit. All that will happen is that one master is traded for another.

Independence generally implies being free of something. How would we be free of the need for energy if every single ounce of oil consumed in this country were produced in the U.S. as long as its production, refinement and sale were controlled by a transnational corporation that is larger than many countries.

Therein lies the real state of affairs that makes energy independence a myth. We are already beyond the point where nations are really affecting the price, and more importantly, the supply of oil. Oil is controlled by entities that are based on the premise that we are all addicted to their product.

Energy independence would move us away from dependence on petroleum, natural gas, etc. and their producers/suppliers. That, however, is not part of the debate. EVERY discussion of the energy crisis centers around increasing our production and supply. Ethanol, switch grass, and other biofuels still create a dependence.

Relabeling where the energy originates will not eliminate our dependence. The debate must change and we must recognize the enormity of the problem. If you think we are anywhere near energy independence, try to unplug everything in your own home for just one day. True energy independence is eliminating our need for it.

Here's the reality. When politicians (and their accomplices in the media who refuse to call them on their distortions) talk of energy independence all they are really talking about is making it easier for the large transnational petroleum companies to do business abroad. The recent oil deals signed in Iraq attest to the realities of the global energy business. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss, just rebranded.

The above blog entry is part of a larger article on the energy crisis currently in preparation.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Requiem for the 4th Amendment

Today, July 10, 2008 the Telecom Immunity/FISA Bill passed the Senate 69-28 and was signed into law by George Bush. The bill, which if there was truth in naming, would be called the Evisceration of the Fourth Amendment Bill, codifies the ability of the government to snoop wholesale into our lives.

What the bill also does is provide the most tangible victory yet for al-Qaeda. The Bush Administration, with the help of a collaborating Congress, has trampled upon the very principles that founded America. If there has ever been a victory for terrorism it is undermining the very values which the nation purports to uphold.

Bush has often stated that "freedom is on the march." Unfortunately, it needs to be on the run. On the run from would be monarchs and the spineless opposition. Will there be no end to the attack on our freedoms and liberties until every single line of the Constitution and Bill of Rights has been scrapped?

Today is a dark day for this nation. It was not done to us by our enemies. It has been done to us by our elected officials. What's next?

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Never Ending Assault on the Constitution

The Associated Press is reporting that the Justice Department is considering allowing the FBI to use profiling as a means to investigate possible terrorism. Profiling runs completely against at least two Constitutional Amendments. The Fourth Amendment protects against unreasonable search and seizure and the Fourteenth requires that equal treatment be extended to all. Profiling is a direct attack on these principles.

Is there no end to the assault on civil liberties by the Bush Administration? Once again, the fear of terrorism is being used as an excuse to disregard the Constitution. Profiling is an extremely slippery slope that can quickly be used to cast suspicion on anyone. Combine that with the already abysmal track record of a government that spys on the American Friends Service Committee (the Quakers) as a possible terrorist group and only took Nelson Mandela, the revered patriarch of South Africa, off the State Department list as a terrorist risk this week and it seems highly unlikely that this effort will not lead to abuse.

Does it really seem like a good idea to allow people who think Nelson Mandela and a pacifist organization are security risks to profile on the basis of what they think is questionable?

In addition to the concerns for civil liberties, profiling also serves as an institutionalization of poor police work. Any clever terrorist is going to try to avoid looking the part. In the end, profiling serves only as an excuse for pretextual stops and as a way to avoid Constitutional guarantees. Evidence ceases to matter and appearances take precedent.

Why does this administration seek this power at this point? Haven't they already shown us that they will spy on anyone at anytime? So why now? Why not six years ago? Since this effort will almost surely stop in either an Obama or McCain administration, why the urgency for this in the final 200 or so days of this administration?

Just because they are leaving office does not mean that we should relax as regards the Bush-Cheney regime. They have shown a blatant disregard for the people of this land and its principles. The trashing of the Constitution will be the infamy for which history will shame them.

George Bush and his entire administration need a lesson in civics. The Constitution is an ideal to uphold, not an obstacle to circumvent.

British Petroleum Gulf Oil Spill Costs

  • 11 workers killed in initial blast
  • Damage to Ocean Ecosystem
  • 35,000 to 60.000 Barrels of Oil Per Day. That's somewhere between 1,500,000 to 2,500,000 gallons a day or 150 to 300 million gallons already spilled into the ocean as of July 27th by that estimate.
  • Gulf Fisheries Industry
  • Gulf Tourism (ongoing costs)
  • Long Term Health Effects to Humans and Wildlife (to be determined)

Worst Oil Spills

  • Kuwait 1991 - 520 million gallons: Gulf War I
  • Gulf of Mexico 2010 - 206 million gallons: BP Oil
  • Mexico, Bay of Campiche 1979 - 140 million gallons: Pemex Oil
  • Trinidad & Tobago 1979 - 90 million gallons: Greek Oil Tanker Atlantic Empress
  • Russia 1983 - 84 million gallons: Leaky Pipeline collapsed into Kolva River
  • Iran 1983 - 80 million gallons: Tanker collided with Oil Platform
  • South Africa 1983 -79 million gallons:Tanker Castillo de Bellver sank
  • France 1978 - 69 million Gallons: Amoco Cadiz ran aground and broke in half.
  • Angola Coastal Waters (700 miles at sea) 1991 - 51-81 million gallons: ABT Summer exploded at sea.
  • Italy 1991 - 45 million gallons: M/T Haven Oil Tanker exploded.
  • Source: Mother Nature Network. The 13 largest oil spills in history. by Laura Moss. Friday July 16, 2010.

Nuclear Accidents (Under Construction)

  • 1957 Windscale, UK
  • 1961 Idaho Falls, Idaho, US
  • 1979 Three Mile Island, Pennsylvania, US
  • 1984 Athens, Alabama, US
  • 1985 Athens, Alabama, US
  • 1986 Plymouth, Masachusetts, US
  • 1986 Chernobyl, Ukraine, USSR
  • 1996 Waterford, Connecticut, US
  • 1989 Griefwald, Germany
  • 1999 Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan
  • 2002 Oak Harbor, Ohio, US
  • 2004 Fukui Prefecture, Japan
  • Source: Benjamin Sovacool

Mining Disasters (Under Construction)

  • China 1942 - 1549 deaths
  • France 1906 - 1100 deaths
  • Japan 1963 - 447 deaths
  • Wales 1913 - 438 deaths
  • South Africa 1960 - 437 deaths
  • Source: Epic Disasters Website
  • Note: Do not look at the dates herein and conclue that mining disasters are a things of the past. Every year thousands of miners die worldwide in largely unreported accidents.

OIL IS OVER! - Resources

  • Hibbert's Peak - "The" source that explains why Oil is Over.
  • Tragedy of the Commons -Garrett Hardin
  • The Land Ethic - Aldo Leopold
  • Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight - Thom Hartmann
  • Eco-Defense: A Field Guide to Monkeywrenching


  • The Dirt People - Ray Bawarchi (yes, that's me)
  • The Razor's Edge - Somerset Maugham
  • Demian - Herman Hesse
  • Black Elk Speaks - Black Elk (as told to R. Neimur)
  • The Quiet Don - Mikhail Sholokov
  • Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
  • Catch-22 - Joseph Heller
  • 1984 - George Orwell
  • Delicious Laughter - Jallahudin Rumi
  • The Sybil - Par Lagerksvitz
  • The Fixer - Bernard Malamud
  • Spirits Rebellious - Khalil Gibran
  • The Quiet American - Graham Greene
  • Midaq Alley - Nagib Mafouz
  • Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut
  • Slaughterhouse 5 - Kurt Vonnegut
  • Farenheit 451- Ray Bradbury
  • We - Yevgeny Zamyatin


  • John Coltrane - St. John the Divine
  • Patti Smith
  • The Clash - the only band that matters
  • Billy Bragg
  • Yo Mama's Big Fat Booty Band
  • Art Blakey
  • Death - pre-punk visionaries from Detroit
  • PJ Harvey - Polly Jean, Polly Jean
  • Woody Guthrie
  • Michael Franti (Spearhead)
  • Public Enemy
  • Ray Charles - the Genius
  • Bob Dylan
  • Velvet Underground
  • Flaming Lips
  • John Doe & X
  • The Beatles

opiate of the masses

  • God is a comedian, playing to an audience too afraid to laugh. - Voltaire
  • I do not feel obliged to believe that the same god who has endowed us with sense, reason and inellect has intended us to forgo their use. - Galileo Galilei
  • The ink of a scholar is worth far more than the blood of a martyr.- Mohammad
  • If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him. - Sheldon Kopp
  • No one will be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest. - Louisa Mae Alcott
  • When it is a question of money, everyone is of the same religion.- Voltaire
  • If God were alive today, he'd be an athiest. - Kurt Vonnegut
  • The god I worship is not short of cash, Mister. - Bono
  • Jesus died for somebody's sins, but not mine. My sins they only belong to me. - Patti Smith
  • God sure baked a lot of fruitcake baby, when Adam met the Eden lady. - Joe Strummer