Archive for the ‘the environment’ Category

No, I haven’t given up on gun control

Yeah, it’s a decided issue, but unfortunately the politicians need to catch up that the US needs to follow Australia.

On the other hand, the US is filled with climate change deniers. OK, filled is relative, but one of them is one too many given that the prognosis for the environment is pretty bad. It will take a culture change in the US that would make a gun ban look like giving up drinking piss–not at all difficult.

I find it interesting that two subjects that should be no brainers are a problem for people in the US. Then again, these are people who somehow believe that Russians put trump in office. Add in that my vote for Jill Stein was somehow influenced by Russian bots.

Do these people know that Russians are the other country that is having a problem with Climate Change deniers? Why would the Russians push a candidate who is addressing this issue?

I have a broad range of issues I support, but the environment is top of the pile right now since it’s one that we can’t wait on.

On the other hand, give out Darwin Awards if the gun nuts want to shoot themselves or their kids. There is a reason for the Federal Funding Freeze on “Gun Violence Research”.

As is the case with climate change denial, the facts are also “anti-gun”.

Be careful what you wish for

I make no bones about it: I hate cars.

I far prefer public transport to cars, but I currently live between two homes (the secret to a happy marriage–live separately).  I have too much crap to take on the train: toss in they are now getting crowded. Loads of other whining.

Likewise, public transportation has the same problem: especially with two dogs. Even when they in bags since you take up way more space than is acceptable. Slightly more acceptable with that much crap on a train, but not when the train is packed out.

I’m happy as heck that driving is being discouraged, but there are now too many issues to car ownership to make it worthwhile (I’ve taken up leasing the past few years for a bunch of reasons).  There’s congestion tax, parking, traffic, etc.

I live in a city which was not designed for automobile traffic and it shows. The average speed over a century ago was about 8 mph.  My new car tells me my average speed and it’s 12 mph in the city! Of course, that’s due to traffic and traffic controls.  Not to mention streets which were meant for horses, not cars.

Seriously, a trip of about 16 miles takes me an hour!

Anyway, I am currently mulling over getting rid of the car (again) for Zipcar since that takes care of most of the issues other than slow speed.

I should be happy that car ownership is being discouraged. Not to mention I’ve done pretty everything I can to reduce my carbon footprint.

But I’m not for the time being.

Market Forces for Change

Or as Lenin is supposed to have said, “When we hang the capitalists, they will have sold us the rope.”

One of the things the right and Libertarians like to push is the free market system, which they don’t really like. They like it as long as they can control the rules making it into a game of Monopoly: where they win.

On the other hand, they run scared when their market share is threatened.

The real problem is that there isn’t really a “free market system” out there.  Governmental decisions can act as market forces even if they aren’t set forth as being economically based. For example, building highways rather than public transportation has effected US society in ways which have been detrimental to its interests (or “Detroit: the city that committed suicide by favouring one industry with a very limited lifespan”).

The reason I tossed gun control in here is if the trend for fewer people to want to own guns keeps up, we will have de facto gun control.  The NRA can loosen up laws all it wants, but that may end up backfiring for it as people begin to realise that there was a reason the NRA blocked the research showing gun ownership was detrimental.

The right can continue to try to use emotion to sway people to vote against their interests, but that cannot go on for very long once people realise they have been had. Once that happens not only will people’s economic decisions change, but so will their voting decisions.


There is a sort of smugness that comes from living a green lifestyle, but these are the people who go the extra 10 (100?) kilometres toward “reducing their carbon footprint“. Somehow, they manage to make you feel like you are living an environmentally unfriendly lifestyle because you:

* Don’t go on holiday via astral projection (reducing your Carbon Footprint by not driving a car or, even worse, flying)
* boil the water in the electric kettle more than once (these people even have solar powered kettles).
* have any non-compact florescent bulbs in your house
* your form of transportation has any connection to fossil fuels or electricity (even if it’s electric or a bicycle–rubber on the tyres)
* you throw anything into the trash and it isn’t reused in some way.
* the food you ate required any energy to raise, transport, or what have you (you should photsyntesise instead of eat).
* Don’t get your power from people on bicycles
* Even have a carbon footprint for that matter

I think you get the picture.

BBC’s Bang Goes the Theory had an episode that was along this line called The Human Power Station. In this episode they powered a house for an entire day solely through human pedal power: while the unsuspecting family inside went about their normal Sunday routine. The clip below shows what happened when the father used an ELECTRIC SHOWER: malus malorum!

This programme rubbed in how wasteful our lifestyle is (yes, you who double boil that water!) by roasting a chicken with two 60 watt bulbs. Of course, watching 80 people pedal all day to power a house makes the point of how much energy we use. We don’t realise how much literal power is needed to push our appliances. Bang did do this in a manner that was entertaining even if it did make you feel guilty for the incandescent bulbs in the fridge and cooker (do they have compact florescent bulbs (CFLs) for those yet?).

You might be able to download this episode here and it does make for fascinating viewing. Although, there were points when I wanted to roast the presenters on a solar cooker because they made me feel guilty for “wasting energy” by merely existing.

Now, I need to find some people willing to power our houses by bicycle.

Wanna see how smart you REALLY are?

Take Bang Goes the Theory’s Brain Test Britain. I did mention that I like taking tests. I’m not sure why, but I do. I should have been tested enough in school to be petrified of anything like a test. But isn’t life a test anyway?

Bang Goes the Theory is according to presenter Dallas Campbell, a show for “anyone who is remotely curious about life, the Universe and pretty much everything.” It’s a science show where they do more than just experiment. The only special episode I caught was where they powered a house inhabited by a “nuclear family” for a day by 80 bicyclists. Which may sound odd to you, but was absolutely fascinating in how much energy it takes to run our appliances. It also pointed out ways to cut back on energy use. Which although switching lightbulbs may seem like a small thing, as someone told me at the Centre for Alternative Technology combining just a lightbulbs worth of energy can add up. That is made more apparent when you watch a team of bicyclists power a house!

Unfortunately, Season one is over. So, you would have to wait until season 2 in 2010 to catch the show

Anyway, these are all sorts of weird little tricky tests to see if training your mind will improve it. They are sort of Kim’s Game in spirit where you guess where things are. Also, they had one test where I had to put things from high to low, which sounds simple until you have to deal with negative numbers along with written (six) and numeric (6) numbers. One test gave me grief when I had to count items going into a box ancd compare them to items coming out. My internet connection screwed up that test. Also, there was one test/game where I had to do simple math calculations whilst balloon floated up, but I couldn’t figure out which balloon I was supposed to be calculating.

If training your mind isn’t enough, there are weird little science challenges that take me back to the quickie radio electronics class I was subjected to in the army (What was ohms law? (V=IxR)).

Fun! fun! fun! Now, I can’t wait for the annual Financial Times Christmas Quiz!

The nightmare summit for the Climate

George Monbiot’s take on the Mayor’s Summit for the Climate. Boris Johnson is called the new face of Thatcherism, but I compare him to the Beano’s Denis the Meanace. Boris is intensely likable as the video shows.

And willing to foil an attack on a woman with differing political views from feral kids! So much for armed resistance or the myth that the British “just stand by and watch”. No, Boris swoops by on his bike to save the day! A conservative who endorsed Barack Obama with the praise “Unlike the current occupant of the White House, he has no difficulty in orally extemporising a series of grammatical English sentences, each containing a main verb (Telegraph Column, Oct 21, 2008).”

Why can’t US Conservatives be like this? Instead, they have Sarah Palin!

Alas, I am sorry that Boris couldn’t save the day in Copenhagen.

Goerge Monbiot said something interesting in his post This Is About Us: “The talks at Copenhagen are not just about climate change. They represent a battle to redefine humanity.”

The summit’s premise is that the age of heroism is over. We have entered the age of accomodation. No longer may we live without restraint. No longer may we swing our fists regardless of whose nose might be in the way. In everything we do we must now be mindful of the lives of others, cautious, constrained, meticulous. We may no longer live in the moment, as if there were no tomorrow…

The angry men know that this golden age has gone; but they cannot find the words for the constraints they hate. Clutching their copies of Atlas Shrugged, they flail around, accusing those who would impede them of communism, fascism, religiosity, misanthropy, but knowing at heart that these restrictions are driven by something far more repulsive to the unrestrained man: the decencies we owe to other human beings.

Quite true, the issue is no longer just about the climate and the environment, but how we cooperate with each other.

Society cannot function if there are no more laws making a return to the “laws of nature”. Humans have removed nature from the world and created society. As George Mnbiot says “this a battle to redefine humanity, and they (the expanders/unrestrained) wish to redefine it as a species even more rapacious than it is today.”


I knew that I was being far too optimistic that anything would come of this. How could anyone hope that the world’s population could agree on anything no matter how much of a threat it is.

At least we cannot blame the US for screwing things up.

It seems the third world was far more of a problem. China engaged in fence post sitting to say it wasn’t really developed and didn’t have to reduce its emmissions.

Chinese Communism is a very weird thing. It’s more like state capitalism. And it’s gone insane.

I expect a “Yes, Minister” moment where they come up for a reason for the Secretary of the meeting quitting to be replaced by the Danish PM.

The only good point, Obama is limited to a three minute speech (as are the rest of the world’s leaders). It would have been more fun to limit Bill Clinton to three minutes.