Tuesday, July 29, 2008

They don't call it the Dirty South for nothin'

HOUSTON — While most large American cities have started ambitious recycling programs that have sharply reduced the amount of trash bound for landfills, Houston has not.

The city’s shimmering skyline may wear the label of the world’s energy capital, but deep in Houston’s Dumpsters lies a less glamorous superlative: It is the worst recycler among the United States’ 30 largest cities.

Houston recycles just 2.6 percent of its total waste, according to a study this year by Waste News, a trade magazine. By comparison, San Francisco and New York recycle 69 percent and 34 percent of their waste respectively. Moreover, 25,000 Houston residents have been waiting as long as 10 years to get recycling bins from the city...

But city officials say real progress will be hard to come by. Landfill costs here are cheap. The city’s sprawling, no-zoning layout makes collection expensive, and there is little public support for the kind of effort it takes to sort glass, paper and plastics. And there appears to be even less for placing fees on excess trash.

“We have an independent streak that rebels against mandates or anything that seems trendy or hyped up,” said Mayor Bill White, who favors expanding the city’s recycling efforts. “Houstonians are skeptical of anything that appears to be oversold or exaggerated. But Houstonians can change, and change fast.”...

Those without the special bins must cart their recyclable garbage to one of just nine full-service drop-off depots in the city. But when Monica Pope, a locally renowned chef, approached a city-run recycling depot in her silver pick-up truck full of containers, she was turned away.“They said my truck was too full,” Ms. Pope recalled, laughing. “There are cultures that just don’t get it, and, unfortunately, Houston is one of them.”...

Gross Texas, gross.

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Environment be damned, just keep them dirty foreigners out!

Is this how much we hate our neighbors to the south that we would cut off our nose to spite our face?
The Bush administration will waive more than 30 environmental and land-management laws in order to finish building 470 miles of border fence in the Southwest by the end of the year, officials said yesterday.

The move, permitted under an exemption granted by Congress, will be the most sweeping use of the administration's waiver authority since it started building the fence to curb illegal immigration. It will affect environmentally sensitive areas in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

In a statement, Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff said the agency has no choice but to bypass the standard environment reviews required of the federal government.

"Criminal activity at the border does not stop for endless debate or protracted litigation," Chertoff said. "Congress and the American public have been adamant that they want and expect border security. We're serious about delivering it, and these waivers will enable important security projects to keep moving forward. At the same time, we value the need for public input on any potential impact of our border infrastructure plans on the environment -- and we will continue to solicit it."

However, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee, said the administration has exceeded what Congress intended when it granted the department added flexibility under the Real ID Act. "Today's waiver represents an extreme abuse of authority," he said in a statement. "Waiver authority should only be used as a last resort, not simply because the Department has failed to get the job done through the normal process. It was meant to be an exception, not the rule."...

"Thanks to this action by the Bush administration, the border is in a sense more lawless now than when Americans first started moving West," Schlickeisen said in a statement. "Laws ensuring clean water and clean air for us and our children -- dismissed. Laws protecting wildlife, land, rivers, streams and places of cultural significance -- just a bother to the Bush administration. Laws giving American citizens a voice in the process -- gone. Clearly this is out of control."...
Related: The Great Wall (fence) of America

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

$3.29 / Gallon = $123 Billion Profit

Top executives of the five biggest U.S. oil companies were pressed Tuesday to explain the soaring fuel prices amid huge industry profits and why they weren’t investing more to develop renewable energy source such as wind and solar.

The executives, peppered with questions from skeptical lawmakers, said they understood that high energy costs are hurting consumers, but deflected blame, arguing that their profits — $123 billion last year — were in line with other industries...

With motorists paying a national average of $3.29 a gallon at the pump and global oil prices remaining above $100 a barrel, the executives were hard pressed by lawmakers to defend their profits.

“The anger level is rising significantly,” said Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., relating what he had heard in his district during the recent two-week congressional recess...

“Our earnings, though high in absolute terms, need to be viewed in the context of the scale and cyclical, long-term nature of our industry as well as the huge investment requirements,” said J.S. Simon, Exxon Mobil’s senior vice president...

“These companies are defending billions of federal subsidies ... while reaping over a hundred billion dollars in profits in just the last year alone,” complained Markey, chairman of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.

The House last year and again on Feb. 27 approved legislation that would have ended the tax breaks for the oil giants, while using the revenue to support wind, solar and other renewable fuels and incentives for energy conservation. The measure has not passed the Senate.

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Friday, October 12, 2007

Al Gore-geous does it again!

Today it was announced that Al Gore, former vice president of these fine United States, two-time Democratic candidate for presidency, and inventor of the internet, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change.

He joins the pantheon of Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, Mother Teresa, and Martin Luther King Jr.

Mr. Gore, congratulations! We on the left have faith in you. Run baby, RUN!

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

I Agree with His Holiness?

Could it be? Is the man making some kind of stone cold sense or is it just me?!
The pontiff, speaking as he was concluding his holiday in northern Italy, also said that while there is much scientific proof to support evolution, the theory could not exclude a role by God.

“They are presented as alternatives that exclude each other,” the pope said. “This clash is an absurdity because on one hand there is much scientific proof in favor of evolution, which appears as a reality that we must see and which enriches our understanding of life and being as such.”

He said evolution did not answer all the questions: “Above all it does not answer the great philosophical question, ‘Where does everything come from?’”

Benedict also said the human race must listen to “the voice of the Earth” or risk destroying its very existence…

“We all see that today man can destroy the foundation of his existence, his Earth,” he said in a closed door meeting with 400 priests on Tuesday. A full transcript of the two-hour event was issued on Wednesday.

“We cannot simply do what we want with this Earth of ours, with what has been entrusted to us,” said the pope…

“This obedience to the voice of the Earth is more important for our future happiness ... than the desires of the moment. Our Earth is talking to us and we must listen to it and decipher its message if we want to survive,” he said.

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

It’s January in NY and I’m wearing a tube top

I’m scared, I’m really scared. I woke up this morning to the news that tomorrow’s temperatures will reach the high 60s. It’s January in New York and I’m sweating. Scientists from around the world are confirming everyone’s suspicions, that this is not normal.
Britain's Meteorological Office said there was a 60 percent probability that 2007 would break the record set by 1998, which was 1.20 degrees over the long-term average.

"This new information represents another warning that climate change is happening around the world," the office said.

The reason for the forecast is mostly due to El Nino, a cyclical warming trend now under way in the Pacific Ocean. The event occurs irregularly — the last one happened in 2002 — and typically leads to increased temperatures worldwide.

While this year's El Nino is not as strong as it was in 1997 and 1998, its combination with the steady increase of temperatures due to global warming from human activity may be enough to break the Earth's temperature record, said Phil Jones, the director of the Climatic Research unit at the University of East Anglia.

"Because of the warming due to greenhouse gases, even a moderate warming event is enough to push the global temperatures over the top," he said.

"El Nino is an independent variable," he said. "But the underlying trends in the warming of the Earth is almost certainly due to the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere."…
In related news, A giant ice shelf the size of 11,000 football fields has snapped free from Canada's Arctic, scientists said.
The mass of ice broke clear 16 months ago from the coast of Ellesmere Island, about 800 kilometers (497 miles) south of the North Pole, but no one was present to see it in Canada's remote north.

Scientists using satellite images later noticed that it became a newly formed ice island in just an hour and left a trail of icy boulders floating in its wake. (Watch the satellite images that clued in ice watchers)…

"This is a dramatic and disturbing event. It shows that we are losing remarkable features of the Canadian North that have been in place for many thousands of years. We are crossing climate thresholds, and these may signal the onset of accelerated change ahead," Vincent said Thursday.

In 10 years of working in the region he has never seen such a dramatic loss of sea ice, he said…

Scientists say it is the largest event of its kind in Canada in 30 years and point their fingers at climate change as a major contributing factor.

"It is consistent with climate change," Vincent said, adding that the remaining ice shelves are 90 percent smaller than when they were first discovered in 1906…
Al Gore, as always, you were right...

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