Sunday, January 30, 2011

Healthy People Bad for Business-As-Usual Say Legislators

January 30, 2011
Our guest blogger is Pete Altman, in an NRDC Switchboard repost.

Let’s get straight to the point. When members of Congress choose to support bills that would prevent the EPA from updating Clean Air Act standards, they are making a choice to support polluters over the health of children and adults in America. Some of these bills will increase the amount of mercury, smog-forming, soot, toxic and carbon dioxide pollution that industrial plants will emit compared to if the EPA is allowed to do its job. Some will simply make it a law that we must allow industrial polluters to dump unlimited amounts of carbon dioxide into the air.
That’s why NRDC and Health Care Without Harm are teaming up today to make sure that the constituents of the members of Congress that have co-sponsored one or more Bad Air Bill know that their representatives are putting their health at risk:

Bad Pollution Bills
How serious is the threat to health? Here’s what Brenda Afzel MS, RN, Health Care Without Harm’s Climate Policy Coordinator and member of the Executive Board of the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments has to say about it:
“Putting the EPA in a political stranglehold will sentence tens of thousands of people to debilitating, respiratory illnesses such as asthma, adding to the burden of chronic disease in the nation and increasing the financial burden to the health care system. Let’s be clear: If these lawmakers are successful in blocking the EPA from doing its job to cut life-threatening pollution, more asthma sufferers, particularly children, will wind up gasping for breath.”
There are over 7 million kids and over 17 million adults with asthma in the lower 48 states. Since those who suffer from asthma are so vulnerable to air pollution, we thought it would be helpful to show how many kids and adults with asthma live in the counties that are represented by members of Congress who want to block the EPA. Here’s a table of the Bad Air Bill cosponsorswith details on asthma rates in their districts.
Behind the push to stop EPA from updating the Clean Air Act are polluters from the oil, coal and utility industries that don’t think protecting public health is worth the money to invest in cleaning up. So, the table includes polluter campaign contributions to the Bad Air Bill co-sponsors here. Many of these polluting contributors have prioritized blocking the EPA.
Here are the basics on the Bad Air Bills being pushed by members of Congress:
  • Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., introduced a bill (H.R. 97) that would permanently block EPA from limiting carbon pollution.
  • Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W. Va., introduced a bill (H.R. 199) that would block EPA from taking any action under the Clean Air Act to limit carbon or methane pollution, for two years.
  • Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, introduced a bill (H.R. 153) that would prohibit EPA from developing or enforcing standards to limit carbon pollution.
  • Rep. John Carter, R-Texas, has a introduced a resolution (H.J. RES. 9) that would permanently block the EPA from reducing the soot, mercury, cancer-causing toxic and smog-forming pollution that cement plants dump into the air.
What’s the link between carbon pollution and asthma? In 2009, EPA scientists determined carbon pollution is a public health risk, including its role in worsening the smog pollution to which asthmatics are particularly vulnerable. Regarding the effects on air quality, agency experts said “The evidence concerning adverse air quality impacts provides strong and clear support for an endangerment finding. Increases in ambient ozone are expected to occur over broad areas of the country, and they are expected to increase serious adverse health effects in large population areas that are and may continue to be in nonattainment. The evaluation of the potential risks associated with increases in ozone in attainment areas also supports such a finding.”
NRDC has also explored the links. My colleague Kim Knowlton has written extensively about the ties between carbon, global warming and health.
In 2004, a multi-disciplinary team of experts showed that warming temperatures will cause more days with unsafe ozone levels. The findings were published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Climatic Change, from which NRDC produced the report “Heat Advisory” that can be viewed here: globalWarming/ heatadvisory/ heatadvisory.pdf.
The 2007 update to the report can be found here: globalWarming/heatadvisory/ heatadvisory07.pdf.
– Pete Altman, in a Switchboard repost.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Fanning Sparks Into Flame

51 Ways to Spark a Commons Revolution

What you can do, alone and with others, to share life.

Personal Life

1. Challenge the myth that all problems have private, individual solutions.

2. Notice how many of life’s pleasures exist outside the marketplace—gardening, fishing, conversing, playing music, playing ball, making love, watching sunsets, and much more.

3. Take time to enjoy what the commons offers. As the radical Brazilian educator Paulo Freire said, “We are bigger than our schedules.”

4. Introduce the children in your life to the commons. Let them see you enjoying it, and working with others to sustain it.

5. Keep in mind that security and satisfaction are more easily acquired from friends than from money.

6. Become a mentor—officially or informally—to people of all ages. Be prepared to learn as much as you teach.

7. Think about living cooperatively with housemates.

8. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

9. Have some fun. The best reason to restore the commons is to enrich our lives.

Community Life

10. Put on a potluck. Throw a block party. Form a community choir, slow-food club, Friday night poker game, May Day festival, or any other excuse for socializing.

11. Walk, bike, or take transit when you can. It’s good for the environment, and for you. You meet very few people while driving your car.

12. Treat commons spaces as if you own them (which, actually, you do). Keep an eye on the place. Tidy things up. Report problems or repair things yourself. Initiate improvement campaigns.

13. Offer a smile or greeting to people you pass. The commons begins with connecting—even in brief, spontaneous ways.

14. Get out of the house and spend some time on the stoop, the front yard, the street—anywhere you can join the river of life.

15. Create or designate a “town square” for your neighborhood—a park, playground, vacant lot, community center, coffee shop, or even a street corner—anywhere folks naturally want to gather.

16. Lobby for more public benches, water fountains, plazas, parks, sidewalks, bike trails, playgrounds, and other crucial commons infrastructure.

17. Conduct an inventory of local commons. Publicize your findings and suggest ways to celebrate and improve these community assets.

18. Organize your neighbors to stop crime and to defuse fear of crime, which can dampen community spirits more than crime itself.

19. Remember streets belong to people, not just automobiles. Drive cautiously and push for traffic calming and other improvements that remind motorists they are not kings of the road.

Money and the Economy
20. Buy from local, independent businesses when possible. (,

21. Before buying something online, see if you can find it or order it locally. That keeps some of your money in the community.

22. Investigate how many things you now pay for you could get in more cooperative ways—check out DVDs at the library, quit the health club and form a morning jogging club, etc.

23. Start a neighborhood exchange to share everything from lawn mowers to child care and home repairs to vehicles.

24. Barter. Trade your skill in baking pies with someone who will fix your computer.

25. Look into creating a Time Dollars system ( or locally-based currency. (

26. Organize a common security club. You are not on your own when it comes to economic woes. (

27. Watch where your money goes. How do the businesses you patronize harm or help the commons?

28. Purchase fair trade, organic, and locally made goods from small producers as much as you can.

Social Change
29. Oppose cutbacks in public assets like transit, schools, libraries, parks, social services, police and fire, and arts programs.

30. Support activists around the globe working for debt relief, environmental protection, human rights, worker rights, sustainable development, rights of indigenous people, and action on climate change.

31. Take every opportunity to talk with elected officials and local activists about the importance of protecting the commons. Do the same with citizens groups, nonprofit organizations, labor unions, professional societies, and business leaders.

32. Protest private profit from products created with research paid for by taxpayers. Demand that publicly-funded research data be available to everyone on the Internet.

33. Write letters to the editor about the commons, post on local websites, call in to talk radio, tell your friends.

34. Learn from everywhere. What can Germany teach us about health care? India about wellness? Africa about community solidarity? Indigenous nations about the commons itself? What bright ideas can we borrow from a nearby neighborhood or town?


35. Pick up litter that is not yours.

36. Avoid bottled water. Tap water is generally safer. If you have concerns about your water supply, get a filter, then pressure local officials to clean it up.

37. Become a guerrilla gardener, planting flowers and vegetables on neglected land in your neighborhood.

38. Organize a community garden ( or local farmers market.

39. Roll up your sleeves to restore a creek, wetland, woods, or grassland, or beautify a vacant lot.

40. Remember that everything that goes down your drain, on your lawn, in your garbage, or into your storm sewer eventually winds up in our water or air.

41. Seek new ways to use less energy and create less waste at home and work.

42. Form a study group to explore what can be done to promote sustainability in your community.

43. Purchase goods—beer to clothing to hardware—made as close to home as possible. Shipping goods long distances stresses the environment.

Information and; Culture

44. Patronize and support your public library.

45. Demand that schoolchildren not become a captive audience for marketing campaigns.

46. Contribute your knowledge to online commons such as Wikipedia, open education projects, and open-access journals. Form your own online community to explore commons issues.

47. Use Creative Commons licenses for your own writing, music, videos, and other creative pursuits.

48. Conceive a public art project for your community.

Commons Consciousness

49. Think of yourself as a commoner and share your enthusiasm. Raise the subject in conversation, art, professional circles, and organizations with which you are involved.

50. Launch a commons discussion group or book club with your neighbors and colleagues, or at your church, synagogue, or temple. (

51. Spread some hope around. Explain how commons-based solutions can remedy today’s pressing problems.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Naomi Klein: Addicted to risk

Days before this talk, journalist Naomi Klein was on a boat in the Gulf of Mexico, looking at the catastrophic results of BP's risky pursuit of oil. Our societies have become addicted to extreme risk in finding new energy, new financial instruments and more ... and too often, we're left to clean up a mess afterward. Klein's question: What's the backup plan?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Time for the Unemployed to Start Growing Food.

#1 The United States has lost approximately 42,400 factories since 2001. 
#2 Dell Inc., one of America's largest manufacturers of computers, has announced plans to dramatically expand its operations in China with an investment of over $100 billionover the next decade.
#3 Dell has announced that it will be closing its last large U.S. manufacturing facility in Winston-Salem, North Carolina in November.  Approximately 900 jobs will be lost.
#4 In 2008, 1.2 billion cellphones were sold worldwide.  So how many of them were manufactured inside the United States?  Zero.
#5 According to a new study conducted by the Economic Policy Institute, if the U.S. trade deficit with China continues to increase at its current rate, the U.S. economy will lose over half a million jobs this year alone.
#6 As of the end of July, the U.S. trade deficit with China had risen 18 percent compared to the same time period a year ago.
#7 The United States has lost a total of about 5.5 million manufacturing jobs since October 2000.
#8 According to Tax Notes, between 1999 and 2008 employment at the foreign affiliates of U.S. parent companies increased an astounding 30 percent to 10.1 million. During that exact same time period, U.S. employment at American multinational corporations declined 8 percent to 21.1 million.
#9 In 1959, manufacturing represented 28 percent of U.S. economic output.  In 2008, it represented 11.5 percent.
#10 Ford Motor Company recently announced the closure of a factory that produces the Ford Ranger in St. Paul, Minnesota. Approximately 750 good paying middle class jobs are going to be lost because making Ford Rangers in Minnesota does not fit in with Ford's new "global" manufacturing strategy.
#11 As of the end of 2009, less than 12 million Americans worked in manufacturing.  The last time less than 12 million Americans were employed in manufacturing was in 1941.
#12 In the United States today, consumption accounts for 70 percent of GDP. Of this 70 percent, over half is spent on services.
#13 The United States has lost a whopping 32 percent of its manufacturing jobs since the year 2000.
#14 In 2001, the United States ranked fourth in the world in per capita broadband Internet use.  Today it ranks 15th.
#15 Manufacturing employment in the U.S. computer industry is actually lower in 2010 than it was in 1975.
#16 Printed circuit boards are used in tens of thousands of different products.  Asia now produces 84 percent of them worldwide.
#17 The United States spends approximately $3.90 on Chinese goods for every $1 that the Chinese spend on goods from the United States.

#18 One prominent economist is projecting that the Chinese economy will be three times largerthan the U.S. economy by the year 2040.
#19 The U.S. Census Bureau says that 43.6 million Americans are now living in poverty and according to them that is the highest number of poor Americans in the 51 years that records have been kept.

We Like to Bike...Even More Now.

Thank you TreeHugger (which should be read regularly) for this news. Let's do this everywhere. We'll have to sooner or later...why not sooner?: 

London's Bike Superhighways Bring 70% Increase in Cycling

by Brian Merchant, Brooklyn, New York  on 01.14.11
Image: Rudi
In other words, London's bike superhighways are incredibly successful, as the front-page GOOD story remarks. According to the findings in study by Transport for London, there were 70% more cyclists out on the streets of London in October of 2010 than there were the previous year.
GOOD has more:
that means that the number of bikers on the streets pre-superhighways was 70 percent lower than it is now that the superhighways have been installed. That's some effective bike promotion, if I've ever seen it ... Will other cities see this information and start doing more for bike lane planning than simply laying them on the side of the street?
That's right -- bike use everywhere jumped, not just on the superhighways. The safe, elegant lanes evidently inspired more folks to dust off their old ten-speeds and hit the roads.
It should also be pointed out that the spike in cycling also coincides with London's bike-share program, which we've written about at length here on TreeHugger.
This development is fantastic -- people want to ride bikes in cities. It's cheap, efficient, and fun. But most of the time, it's terrifying. It's why I don't ride a bike in New York -- no way I'm heading into Manhattan traffic during rush hour. New York is also making strides in its bike lanes, too, however. If they work as well as London's, that's all it will take -- count me in.

How to Boil a Frog - Meet the Filmmaker

Filmmaker Jon Cooksey is one funny guy, even while presenting the most serious problems facing humanity. In this fast-paced conversation, he gallops all over the map with five big problems, five big solutions, and a playful and heartfelt approach. Wacky, sobering, full of animations, with Jon in dozens of personnas, "How to Boil a Frog" is a film to view and discuss with friends.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Re-design your life, re-envision the world!

You can join the 100s of thousands who have taken the Permaculture Design Course at any of 100's of locations all over the planet (visit to learn more).
Here's a short introductory video about the Design Course made by friends / colleagues, Penny Livingston-Stark and James Stark, at the Regenerative Design Institute in Bolinas, CA

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The American, Nightmare. Time to Wake Up, eh?

The AMERICAN DREAM is a 30 minute animated film that shows you how you've been scammed by the most basic elements of our government system. All of us Americans strive for the American Dream, and this film shows you why your dream is getting farther and farther away. Do you know how your money is created? Or how banking works? Why did housing prices skyrocket and then plunge? Do you really know what the Federal Reserve System is and how it affects you every single day? THE AMERICAN DREAM takes an entertaining but hard hitting look at how the problems we have today are nothing new, and why leaders throughout our history have warned us and fought against the current type of financial system we have in America today. You will be challenged to investigate some very entrenched and powerful institutions in this nation, and hopefully encouraged to help get our nation back on track.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Permaculture Credit Union accepting applications for CEO

Permaculture Credit Union              
Job Description - President/CEO
Reports To: Board of Directors

About the Permaculture Credit Union
The mission of the Permaculture Credit Union Mission is to pool the financial resources of people who believe in the ethics of Permaculture: care of the Earth, care of people, and reinvestment of surplus. The credit union is a 10 year old, innovative and growing financial institution dedicated to providing affordable financial services that advance sustainability.

Position Description
The CEO is responsible for the planning and oversight of all credit union activities in accordance with credit union regulations, polices and directives as established by the board of directors. Ensures financial stability and member satisfaction commensurate with the best interest of the members, the employees, and the credit union. Develops and maintains organizational structure and effective personnel. Represents the Credit Union to regulatory agencies, trade associations, community and civic organizations, members, and other financial institutions. Provides strategic direction, vision, leadership, and management in all functional areas.

Job is located in Santa Fe, NM

For complete position information refer online at Position closes January 31, 2011. Please forward your resume and letter of interest to no later than January 31, 2011.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Gasland: the video

"The largest domestic natural gas drilling boom in history has swept across the United States. The Halliburton-developed drilling technology of "fracking" or hydraulic fracturing has unlocked a "Saudia Arabia of natural gas" just beneath us. But is fracking safe? When filmmaker Josh Fox is asked to lease his land for drilling, he embarks on a cross-country odyssey uncovering a trail of secrets, lies and contamination. A recently drilled nearby Pennsylvania town reports that residents are able to light their drinking water on fire. This is just one of the many absurd and astonishing revelations of a new country called GASLAND. Part verite travelogue, part expose, part mystery, part bluegrass banjo meltdown, part showdown." GASLAND will be broadcast on HBO through 2012. To host a public screening in your community please click here. The DVD went on sale  December 2010.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A stunning year in climate science reveals that human civilization is on the precipice

The last year or so has seen more scientific papers and presentations that raise the genuine prospect of catastrophe (if we stay on our current emissions path) that I can recall seeing in any other year.
Perhaps the media would have ignored that science anyway, but Climategate appears to be a key reason “less than 10 percent of the news articles written about last year’s climate summit in Copenhagen dealt primarily with the science of climate change, a study showed on Monday.”
But for those interested in the real climate science story of the past year, let’s review a couple dozen studies of the most important findings.  Any one of these would be cause for action — and combined they vindicate the final sentence of Elizabeth Kolbert’s  Field Notes from a Catastrophe “It may seem impossible to imagine that a technologically advanced society could choose, in essence, to destroy itself, but that is what we are now in the process of doing.”
1. Nature: “Global warming blamed for 40% decline in the ocean’s phytoplankton”:  “Microscopic life crucial to the marine food chain is dying out. The consequences could be catastrophic.”
If confirmed, it may represent the single most important finding of the year in climate science.  Seth Borenstein of the AP explains, “plant plankton found in the world’s oceans  are crucial to much of life on Earth. They are the foundation of the bountiful marine food web, produce half the world’s oxygen and suck up harmful carbon dioxide.” Boris Worm, a marine biologist and co-author of the study said, “We found that temperature had the best power to explain the changes.”  He noted, “If this holds up, something really serious is underway and has been underway for decades. I’ve been trying to think of a biological change that’s bigger than this and I can’t think of one.”
2.  Science: Vast East Siberian Arctic Shelf methane stores destabilizing and venting:  NSF issues world a wake-up call: “Release of even a fraction of the methane stored in the shelf could trigger abrupt climate warming.”
Methane release from the not-so-perma-frost is the most dangerous amplifying feedback in the entire carbon cycle. This research finds a key “lid” on “the large sub-sea permafrost carbon reservoir” near Eastern Siberia “is clearly perforated, and sedimentary CH4 [methane] is escaping to the atmosphere.”
The permafrost permamelt contains a staggering “1.5 trillion tons of frozen carbon, about twice as much carbon as contained in the atmosphere,” much of which would be released as methane.  Methane is  is 25 times as potent a heat-trapping gas as CO2 over a 100 year time horizon, but 72 times as potent over 20 years!
The carbon is locked in a freezer in the part of the planet warming up the fastest (see “Tundra 4: Permafrost loss linked to Arctic sea ice loss“).  Half the land-based permafrost would vanish by mid-century on our current emissions path (see “Tundra, Part 2: The point of no return” and below).  No climate model currently incorporates the amplifying feedback from methane released by a defrosting tundra.
The NSF is normally a very staid organization.  If they are worried, everybody should be.
It is increasingly clear that if the world strays significantly above 450 ppm atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide for any length of time, we will find it unimaginably difficult to stop short of 800 to 1000 ppm.
3.  Must-read NCAR analysis warns we risk multiple, devastating global droughts even on moderate emissions path.
Dust-Bowlification may be the impact of human-caused climate change that hits the most people by mid-century, as the figure below suggests (“a reading of -4 or below is considered extreme drought”):
drought map 3 2060-2069
The PDSI in the Great Plains during the Dust Bowl apparently spiked very briefly to -6, but otherwise rarely exceeded -3 for the decade (see here).  The National Center for Atmospheric Research notes “By the end of the century, many populated areas, including parts of the United States, could face readings in the range of -8 to -10, and much of the Mediterranean could fall to -15 to -20. Such readings would be almost unprecedented.”

Read the rest at Climate Progress and share it broadly...