Category Archives: Global Warming

Thurston Public Power or Macquarie Group Profits?

Want to know more about the history of public utility districts?  Want to know how many communities in the State are getting public services at competitive costs from public utility districts?   Hey, you are in luck.

The WPUDA maintains a website that carries all that stuff.  They also have a great building on Union that showcases the kind of distributed electrical generation grid that we could develop locally through expanding PUD in Thurston County from water to water and electricity.

Do you think Macquarie Group has great interest in the quality of life here in Puget Sound or are they primarily interested in the profits they can bank in Australia from your PSE bill here in Washington State?

Another thing to study up on is the connection between PSE and coal fired power.  Read about it on Sightline.

Thurston County voters will get the opportunity to expand the Thurston County PUD from water to water andelectricity in November.

This is a no-brainer.  You get local control, local ownership, local accountability and

the profits that are currently traveling abroad from PSE can be used for local jobs that will do maintenance andprevent an ice-storm electric outage like we had last winter.

Connect the dots.


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RCW54

Washington PUDs | FAQs | History | RCW 54 | Jobs

 

 

RCW 54

The PUD law is RCW 54.

In 1929, the Washington State Grange collected more than 60,000 signatures – twice the number necessary – to send Initiative No. 1 to the Legislature, allowing rural communities to form their own publicly owned utilities. When the Legislature failed to act, the measure went to a statewide election, where it passed in 1930 with 54 percent of the vote. The new PUD law went into effect in 1931.

The law, now known as RCW 54, authorized the establishment of public utility districts to “conserve the water and power resources of the State of Washington for the benefit of the people thereof, and to supply public utility service, including water and electricity for all uses.” In 2000, as access to the Internet became increasingly important, the law was amended to include wholesale broadband telecommunications service.

Summer is here!

It finally got warm again here in Western Washington yesterday.  Much of the country has been suffering through a heat wave for a while already.  Some parts of the country have been on fire.  This is an aspect of global warming that will probably come to Western Washington.  We have large stands of timber that will burn if weather patterns were to change and reduce the amount of rainfall in the region.  People in the Hoh River Rainforest might appreciate a reduction in rainfall, but by and large, the Northwest needs a lot of rain and gets it. 

My grandsons were out and about and could not be located to grab our kayak/play boats and head to the river or Sound, so I scooped up my 5 year old granddaughter and we took the smallest kayak I have and spent a couple of hours playing and keeping cool in the Newaukum River.  (video is shot a few miles away from the stretch we were in).  The river has pretty good flow this early in the year, so granddaughter was not sure she wanted to be in the river, but by the end of our time there she was jumping off the bank and letting me catch her and be swept along in the current.  It’s possible to get swept off your feet, but the river is only a couple of feet deep in the lower reaches, so it’s perfect for playing, wading and kayaking.

I have noticed that the climate change deniers are getting desperate. They know that the US electorate is finding climate change to be real.  It’s too bad that it takes disastrous evidence and experience of global warming to persuade the folks who tune into traditional media in the US that the doubt about global warming is manufactured by the same folks who want to persuade folks that Obama is a dangerous socialist when he is simply another corporatist democrat, but this serves the goals of certain folks.

We get change in this country when the tea party folks wake up and realize that the occupy folks are their natural allies and have the story right where the media giants have the news all wrong. 

Not warm yet in your neighborhood?  Don’t worry, the warm weather is coming.  We need balance.  We need a carbon tax immediately to change the energy paradigm.  The explosion of research, development and manufacturing that would follow carbon tax implementation would solve our double dip recession problem and create jobs.  The tax would lower the deficit, but it could not/should not be large enough to solve our deficit problem, just enough to fund R&D on sustainable energy systems.  The deficit problem needs to be solved by reinstating the steep tax rate system that existed in this country when JFK stimulated the economy back in 1961.  We have flattened the tax rate so much since that time that there is little or no stimulus effect left in that approach, only increasing income inequality and deficits that threaten our way of life.  Things could get so bad in the US that we would have to cut the military budget.  Just try to imagine that. 

Record heat?  You want to deny that?  Here’s a piece from Think Progress and elsewhere:

What Is Causing The Climate To Unravel?

By Climate Guest Blogger on Jul 7, 2012 at 12:28 pm

By Jeremy Symons, via  the National Wildlife Federation

Answer: One trillion tons of carbon pollution.

40,000 heat records have already been broken this year across the United States, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Here in Fredericksburg, Virginia, the signs of an unbalanced climate system have been felt in recent years not just in heatwaves, but increasingly in the form of unusually severe wind storms. This past weekend’s storm brought 80 mph wind gusts that snapped three trees in our backyard like pretzels, even though they were each a foot thick. Once again, my insurance company is teaching me new weather terminolgy to explain the latest climate disasters. A few years ago, the term was “micro-bursts” (not quite tornadoes, but similar impact). Now it is “derecho” (not quite hurricanes, but similar impact).


Read the whole piece at Think Progress?   Stay cool.

It’s one planet, folks.

I have noticed that the foolish folks who remain interested or reimbursed to disseminate misleading information about anthropogenic global warming are repeating the story about the fall in US CO2 emissions.  Tell it to the folks who are suffering through the heatwave in the “red” states today.  The issue is emission and concentration of CO2 levels on the global scale, friends.  If you measure emissions in a National Park, things look really great.  If you measure emissions in any small part of the planet, you can produce data that will make emission levels look great or terrible, but if you measure emissions on the planetary scale, the scale that is our climate, the scale that produces our weather, then we continue to face a catastrophic problem.

Here’s a piece from the Guardian:

 

World carbon dioxide levels highest for

650,000 years, says US report

 

· Rise in chief greenhouse gas worse than feared
· Earth may be losing ability to absorb CO2, say scientists

Cooling towers at Eggborough power station, near Selby

Cooling towers at Eggborough power station, near Selby. Photograph: John Giles/PA

The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has reached a record high, according to the latest figures, renewing fears that climate change could begin to slide out of control.

Scientists at the Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii say that CO2 levels in the atmosphere now stand at 387 parts per million (ppm), up almost 40% since the industrial revolution and the highest for at least the last 650,000 years.

Read the real numbers.  Don’t be fooled by the folks who are engaged in dishonest presentation of limited data.  Shame on those of you who do this with knowledge that the data is meaningless and misleading.  For those of you who are confused by the data, learn to evaluate when data is being skewed or limited to produce a misleading result and recognize that folks who knowingly provide misleading data are not to be trusted.

It’s the Climate, Stupid.

The economy is a financial shadow of the state of the physical world.  Economics is simply one way of measuring certain activity here on a small planet on a spiral arm of a somewhat non-descript galaxy in the known universe.   There are lots of planets, rocks, planetoids, stars, dust motes in the universe that appear to have little or no activity that could be measured in economic terms (other than zero) because the local climate and weather have reached steady states that are too hot or too cold for economic measurement.

Ouch!  Click me please We float around the galaxy in the goldilocks zone, neither too hot nor too cold for  lively economic activity, yet when our economic house of cards starts to shake, we can’t figure out that the climate in the goldilocks zone is the ultimate free lunch and that economics are a shadow of the physical world.  We appear to be willing to destroy the climate rather than upset the economic schemes of the dominant species on the planet.

Homo industrialis is a dominant and successful species, but maybe not too smart.  We need to evolve to become homo sustainabilis or we kiss it goodbye.  We better wise up soon.

Lots of weather news out there.  The Rio climate talks were disappointing.  No political will to re-order our priorities and realize that the economy relies on the climate, not the other way around.

Here are some news items about the weather, some things to think about as we enter the lazy days of summer:

  • East Coast sees sea level rise – not a good thing.  Is it related to global warming and the burning of fossil fuels?    Yes.    I will say it again.  Yes.   Burning fossil fuels is causing sea level rise.  Time to stop equivocating.
  •  Here’s a piece on record high temperatures and storms in the east.
  • Arctic ice is melting at record pace.

We have options.  We have to look at ways to prevent capitalism, the church of the profit, from burning the house down while we try to live in the house.

Here is an interesting piece about democratic capitalism in Spain.  I don’t know if this kind of thing is the answer, but it’s encouraging to see a less top-down model of corporate structure.  Mondragon Corporation.  Read all about it.   Thanks to Alternet for running this piece.

Chris Hedges has a piece on Alternet today about Crazy Horse.  It’s a good piece, but Chris is someday going to need to reconcile his “black bloc is a cancer” screed with pieces like this one where he glorifies warrior lifestyles.  I don’t say that I know which approach is right.  I agree with Chris on this article that includes a quote from the lesser-known Marx Brother:

Karl Marx was correct when he called unregulated capitalism “a machine for demolishing limits.” This failure to impose limits cannibalizes natural resources and human communities. This time, the difference is that when we go the whole planet will go with us. Catastrophic climate change is inevitable. Arctic ice is in terminal decline. There will soon be so much heat trapped in the atmosphere that any attempt to scale back carbon emissions will make no difference. Droughts. Floods. Heat waves. Killer hurricanes and tornados. Power outages. Freak weather. Rising sea levels. Crop destruction. Food shortages. Plagues.

Yep, it’s Monday morning.  Time to throw on the office clothes and get the work week underway.  Be careful out there. Stay cool.  Keep cool.

Been Busy at the Quarry

It’s hard to know what to do in the current political and environmental environment.  Scanned a piece today on Climate and Capitalism website.  This piece was a reaction to a favorable review of Derrick Jensen’s book Deep Green Resistance that ran on Canadian Dimension.  Jensen seems to catch a lot of reactionary ink to his proposals to create change.  I am pretty busy working the create change in many ways, so don’t have lots of time to read Jensen (or to blog these days) but I get the impression that Jensen embraces a Luddite sensibility at times.  Maybe also a  monkey wrench mentality that is attractive, but may be a dead end politically.  There is something about the monkey wrench mentality that I find both sexist and adolescent, which is not to say that I don’t also find it attractive.

This review of a review included a quote from Eugene V. Debs about the use of violence as a political tactic.  I liked this quote a lot:

“It is not because these tactics involve the use of force that I am opposed to them, but because they do not…. The force that implies power is utterly lacking, and it can never be developed by such tactics.”

 I suspect Debs is correct.  That violent tactics of wanton property destruction will never succeed.  But I fear that Jensen could also be correct when he asserts (per this review of a review) that:

“I don’t think most people care, and I don’t think most people will ever care…. The mass of civilized people will never be on our side.”

That elitist, greener-than-thou attitude permeates Deep Green Resistance.

The authors write:

“The vast majority of the population will do nothing unless they are led, cajoled, or forced. … there will be no mass movement, not in time to save this planet, our home.”

And:

“Humans aren’t going to do anything in time …[so] those of us who care about the future of the planet have to dismantle the industrial energy infrastructure as rapidly as possible.”

 There is something afoot in the world that makes it difficult to rouse the peasants.  It seems to me to be a strange mix of economic desperation brought on by wage stagnation, by labor outsourcing, by globalization of corporate profit and human exploitation combined with a media and consumption induced trance state where folks who are clinging to creature comforts and their hope of individual job security blinds them to the fact that the ground is shifting under our feet.  Our pensions, 401k benefits, Medicare, Social Security – none of this will be protected if we destroy the planet’s willingness to accommodate our species.  It may be difficult to see that hard reality with your head firmly planted in the sand of Fox News, or Time Warner, or any of the media giants who all spew a steady stream of distraction and infotainment.

In terms of the desperation of human labor, I came across  a piece on the Black Orchid Collective website (thanks to Austin Kelly for sending that along) that was reposted from Recomposition about human labor.  A rumination on the devaluation of human labor, that included this poem from Rilke:

The Machine endangers all we have made.

We allow it to rule instead of obey.

To build a house, cut the stone sharp and fast:
the carver’s hand takes too long to feel its way.

The Machine never hesitates, or we might escape
and its factories subside into silence.
It thinks it’s alive and does everything better.
With equal resolve it creates and destroys.

But life holds mystery for us yet. In a hundred places
we can still sense the source: a play of pure powers
that — when you feel it — brings you to your knees.

There are yet words that come near the unsayable,
and, from crumbling stones, a new music
to make a sacred dwelling in a place we cannot own.

Rilke (Translated by Joanna Macy)

 Ah, yes.  A sacred dwelling in a place we cannot own.  I will cut stone by hand on that project.  See you at the quarry.

Juan Cole on Oil and Politics in Iraq

James Stafford with Oilprice.com suggested that their interview with Juan Cole would be of interest.  With gas prices surging over $4 per gallon, oil news is probably of interest.  Eternal Fire of Baba Gurgur courtesy Chad.r.hill

I agree, therefore:

Oil & Politics – The Real Situation in Iraq

A delegation from the International Energy Agency spent two days in Baghdad speaking with high-ranking officials in preparation for an end-of-year report on the country’s oil sector. By some estimates, Iraq could hold some of the largest oil reserves in the world and an international auction for oil and natural gas blocks is planned for May. Without a hydrocarbon law, and considering the fractured political system, the IEA’s report may be more about political obstacles than oil potential, however.

Baghdad announced triumphantly this week that oil production increased to more than 3 million barrels per day for the first time in more than 30 years. Exports, the government said, should increase substantially once a new floating oil terminal starts operations later this week. The IEA in December said crude oil production in Iraq could reach an average of 4.36 million bpd by 2016, about half of what Riyadh produces. The agency warned, however, that Iraq’s fractured political system might be as much of an obstacle as anything.

Iraq’s post-invasion political system has never been stable. Tensions in Baghdad flared up when Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki accused his Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi of terrorism almost as soon as the last American troop left the country in December. Juan Cole, the man behind the influential blog Informed Comment, said the action by Maliki “was part of an effort to marginalize and humiliate his Sunni enemies, and a sign of unwillingness to seek a grand national bargain.”

Iraq may be a democratic country in theory but it certainly isn’t quick on the political front, especially when it comes to passing a long-delayed hydrocarbon law. Cole, a professor of history at the University of Michigan, described Iraqi politics as anything but stable.

“I wouldn’t hold my breath on getting anything accomplished on the oil law,” he said.

Maliki may be able to use his hard-ball tactics in an effort to get his way on things like the federal budget, but that doesn’t necessarily equate to widespread political influence across the rest of the country, said Cole.

Kurdish leaders objected profusely when it looked like Exxon Mobil would be left out of Iraq’s upcoming fourth international auction because of its contracts with the semiautonomous Kurdish government. Deputy Prime Minister Rowsch Nuri Shaways, a lawmaker from the Kurdistan Democratic Party, complained, in a statement, that Baghdad was somehow opposed to “economic openness” and the “promotion of trade.” Baghdad protests that any unilateral deals with the Kurdish government are illegal, though Cole said there isn’t much that the central government can do about it.

“The Iraqi government faces two big problems on petroleum development. It is still too weak to provide security reliably for the Western corporations and their employees,” he said. “And, it is still economically depressed enough to be afraid of being taken advantage of by a bidding process that favors the corporations — causing it to drive so hard a bargain that it has spooked potential investors.”

Iraq could be able to take advantage of its strategic position in the Middle East. Its Turkish neighbors to the north are keen to become an influential energy hub by playing host to some of the most ambitious oil and natural gas pipelines in the world. To Iraq’s south, the Strait of Hormuz transports about 20 percent of the oil traded globally.

“Politically, however, Iraq is landlocked,” said Cole.

Getting a federal budget passed this year might’ve been a temporary political victory for Maliki. Long term, however, it’s unlikely he’ll be able to make any claims to a political mandate in a country that relies so heavily on oil for its federal revenue. Baghdad has tilted at times toward Iran and higher oil prices may embolden the Shiite prime minister’s position. But Iraq might find itself in a geopolitical tug-of-war given Washington’s regional interests.

“Iraq is extremely vulnerable right now,” Cole warned.

The IEA is expected to release its report on Iraq in October as a prelude to its full energy outlook for 2012. While expressing optimism about the prospects for the oil sector in post-war Iraq, IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven said politics are getting in the way of broader developments. When asked what he would title the October report from the IEA, Cole just chuckled and said “slow progress.”

Source: http://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/Iraq-Oil-Outlook-Overly-Ambitious.html

By. Daniel J. Graeber of Oilprice.com

Memo to Rick Perry

Your state is on fire,Wiki Commons, courtesy Buddpaul, boat launch to Lake Palestine the drought is causing rivers and lakes to dry up and that could go on for a long time.  Meanwhile, ice shelves in Canada are collapsing faster than expected and these collapses will serve to speed global warming at ocean surface absorbs more solar radiation than ice surface which reflects solar radiation to an extent.  And Britain has recorded the hottest day ever in October.  You might want to revisit your belief system that global warming is not happening.  You are on the wrong side of history with this one.

You might want to walk that position back a wee bit.

Nice edit and video coverage from Wall Street occupation

There are reports of police assault on the occupation of Wall Street.   The first amendment grants us the right to assemble and speak out.  It’s a shame that this country has so little tolerance for first amendment rights.

I am reminded of the video I have seen from China when the military was streaming toward Tiananmen Square and the Chinese people flooded into the streets to slow the military, they pleaded with the soldiers to join the protest, to side with the people. The pleas were not heard.

It’s going to be hard for the protestors who occupy Wall Street to reach the police who are ordered to come in and disperse the crowds, but things change when the shock troops of the empire hear the message that peace, freedom, equality, justice are not always compatible with order.   We have to reach across the lines and ask the police to choose constitutional freedoms over order.

Talking ’bout a Revolution

if you’re talking about destruction, don’t you know that you can count me out…

I share John Lennon’s ambivalence about the revolution, but I think there are revolutions coming.  Maybe a revolution doesn’t have to include the choreography and armament to take the Bastille?

How about a revolution in agriculture?  We watched a video about colony collapse disorder last night: Vanishing of the Bees.   Well done, sobering, broad review of the situation for our pollination partners.  I used to keep bees.  Most beekeepers develop a pretty strong connection to their hives, to the collective being that is a beehive.  The beekeepers in this movie certainly showed that connection.  I don’t want to give the story away, so I will just say that I think the filmmakers are correct to identify bees as “canaries in the coal mine.”  I think we need a revolution in the way we approach agriculture and food.   Global food.  What should it look like?

Also thinking about our global economic system.  Tikkun has a piece by Leonardo Boff on the Crisis of Capitalism.  This is an interesting read.  I do have a sense that the current global economic crisis is qualitatively different from previous downturns.  We face some pretty staggering demands from the natural world.  We now live in a world of more extreme weather and the likelihood is that the trend to more extreme weather is just getting started, so the solution is a really major retooling of the world economy where sustainability rather than profit is the goal. Stabilizing the environment is going to require more than a game of three card monte based on cap and trade.  The shell game has always been entertaining, but the game is fixed and the outcome is about fleecing the mark.   (if you look around and you can’t spot the mark, you are the mark).  Here’s a little taste of that Boff piece:

I believe the present crisis of capitalism is more than cyclical and structural. It is terminal. Are we seeing the end of the genius of capitalism, of always being able to adapt to any circumstance? I am aware that only few other people maintain this thesis. Two things, however, bring me to this conclusion.

The first is the following: the crisis is terminal because we all, but in particular capitalism, have exceeded the limits of the Earth. We have occupied and depredated the whole planet, destroying her subtle equilibrium and exhausting her goods and services, to the point that she alone can no longer replenish all that has been removed…

The second reason is linked to the humanitarian crisis that capitalism is creating.

Before, it was limited to the peripheral countries. Now it is global, and it has reached the central countries. The economic question cannot be resolved by dismantling society. The victims, connected by new venues of communication, resist, revolt and threaten the present order. Ever more people, especially the young, reject the perverse capitalist political economic logic: the dictatorship of finance that, through the market, subjugates the States to its interests, and the profitability of speculative capital, that circulates from one stock market to another, reaping profits without producing anything at all, except more money for the stockholders.

So our gaze in the US of A is currently fixed on the three card monte game that is the national election cycle.  Here we go, keep the cards rotating, let the media cover the “debates” and comment on who won and who lost, like a winner could be found in this crowd (Huntsman?  What is he doing in the GOP?) The media talking heads perform like they have one lonely brain cell in their pretty little heads, they stay away from any significant, in-depth questions, or if they ask a good question, they watch as somebody pulls the string so the candidate can recite a talking  point that may or may not have anything to do with the question or the underlying and significant issue.

Just think about how bad it is when the country is having trouble deciding whether Obama is a better choice than a candidate like Perry or Bachman.  Yikes!  Obama has made some disastrous choices, starting with his choice of Larry Summers and Timothy Geithner and he’s turned out to be sort of an Eisenhower Republican, though maybe some of us were hoping to get a democrat in the WH or even a Rockefeller Republican.  Can’t get there from here.

Imagine this country electing an FDR type democrat?  That would be a revolution (and would probably spark one as well).