Mr President, Put Solar On The White House

Lead By Example, Symbols Are Powerful

Symbols are important. The Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower, the Pyramids, the Great Wall are all examples of important cultural symbols. But even small symbols are important, in fact I would venture that smaller, local symbols are even more important on a day-to-day basis – the example of a father, the blessing of a ship, the courtesy of a door held open.

In order for the United States to survive the coming few decades as a society it will need to invest in something called resilience. This term has devoid from our lives for the past 50-100 years in part because of our belief that we will forever have cheap energy. The truth of the matter is that oil is peaking, and will run out soon.

Even before it runs out completely, it will get super expensive. This might not seem like a big deal to some, but to many this will increase the costs of everything we do, because nearly all of it relies on oil. Electricity, supermarket food, pencils, transportation, fresh water, lawn mowers, sewer, medical supplies, and waste water systems – everything either requires oil directly or indirectly.

Therefore, in order to increase our society’s resilience, we need to be able to take the shock of post-peak oil in stride. This means, among many other things, having readily available renewable energy. We should take advantage of our cheap(er) oil now to build the structures that will sustain a more resilient society after the peak. Once the shocks come it will likely be too late to make any proper transition to a renewable energy-powered society without hardship.

Back to symbols – we need a strong leader in this venture towards a sustainable society. President Obama has a great opportunity to provide a great symbol of our commitment on top of his house – for free! The Glõbama Campaign is provide a means for us to send a message to the president that he should do just that – put solar panels on the white house!

Check it out here.

The Earth Bleeds Out

If only the words “back from whence ye came” could really have magical powers and plug the mortal wound we have inflicted upon the Gulf of Mexico (and soon her bigger cousin, the Atlantic Ocean and Eastern Coastline). Whilst our human brains convince us over and over again that we are above nature, can outsmart her, or take over her services, she shows us again and again the error in our ways. From Katrina, to Taiwan, to Haiti and many more, Mother Nature is an unrelenting and all-powerful presence in our lives. This shouldn’t be seen as an unwelcomed presence – far too often we seem to run away from nature, when we are, in fact, of nature and in nature.

I have been avoiding writing about the Gulf Disaster because it seems pretty well covered: it’s everywhere, whether you read it, watch it, or listen to it. However, I couldn’t resist promoting this incredibly moving image tool: What would the oil disaster look like if it was centered over your home? Check it out for me here in Seattle: (Thanks to nef’s Triple Crunch Blog for first showing me this site)

Gush Forth! Oh, Mighty Earth!

Imagine this were true: the largest populated area in the Pacific Northwest would be almost entirely covered in oil, even up over the Canadian border. They’re our allies, but I can’t imagine they’d be happy with that type of sharing. All of the Olympic Rainforest and National Park would be dripping wet with crude. Lake Chelan would be filled with black gold. As far south as Centralia and stretching over the many islands of the Puget Sound – all wiped out by BP’s greed for a fossil fuel. Good-bye Orcas! good-bye Salmon! Audios watersheds, fisheries, and my beautiful hometown.

They seem completely incapable of stopping the leak (some wonder if they won’t be able to do it or it might wait until Christmas). Personally, I think it is motivation to sell your car, ride your bike, and vote for a constitutional amendment outlawing corporate personhood (had this occurred prior to 1886, the government could have liquidated BP’s assets to cover everything and thrown everyone involved in jail).

All of this is the direct result of our lust for oil. We are destroying the largest fishery in the US (something like 70% of our shellfish and 30% of all our seafood comes from the Gulf), destroying priceless natural capital. For what? BP’s giant profits. This won’t finish them unless we take them to court, and even that is doubtful to have a large, positive result within a decade. At least the local economy will get a bump in GDP while everyone rushes down there to clean it up, right?

What do you think of the developments down there?

Obama, Lead Us To Clean Energy Now!

God love the actor who stands up for the environment, but there is something a little more significant (for me at least) when if comes from Robert Redford. (Maybe because he’s one of my favorites and one of the most respectable actors in Hollywood) See his challenge to President Obama:

Way to go, Mr. Redford! Thanks to Climate Progress for introducing this video to me.

Obama Announces Degrowth, Wins Republican Support

President Obama Speaks On Health Care In Portland, Maine
"We Must Forge A Sustainable Nation For All"

In a surprising turn of events, President Barack Obama announced in a press conference today that economic growth could no longer continue as we know it. As a prominent New York magazine quoted, “the press room went silent and after a tension-filled moment, erupted in applause!”

As numerous environmental groups, ecological economists, and people with common sense have been trying for decades to gain political ground on the issue, a left-field bipartisan bill was drafted late last night and rushed through both the House and Senate. News of the conflict between growing the economy and maintaining an environment that can sustain human life was a shock to many in congress. However, conscience and prudence won the day, prompting late-night legislative sessions.

Tomorrow President Obama will sign into law the American Development and Reorientation Act, a comprehensive bill that will overhaul the financial sector, incorporate well-being into national accounts, end fossil fuel subsidies, tax pollution, cap greenhouse gas emissions, remove rights of person-hood from corporations, and provide minimum incomes and cap gaps in wealth – all to provide a more stable and just economic system that focuses on developing our society instead of expanding the size of our economy.

As the President said during the conference,

“By recommitting ourselves to the founding ideals of this great nation, focusing on our possibilities and liberating ourselves from failed ideas and institutions, together we can create a stronger, better nation that secures a fulfilling life for every person and honors the premise of the Declaration of Independence that every individual is endowed with an unalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

This amazing turn-about in public policy not only represents the needs of the America people, but ensures a long, prosperous future for our society on this planet. This will go down in history as the first major (gigantic) step towards a sustainable world for all! Well done, Mr President!

**Happy April 1st everyone!**

Incentives for Healthy, Eco-Friendly Remodels

Richard Moyle, with the Mesothelioma Cancer Resource Center recently inquired about posting an article on this blog in relation to the new tax incentives that have been placed into law to “jump start” our economy. Of course, we don’t need a jump start – we need a whole different engine.

We need an economy that runs not on some insatiable growth-hungry, greedy engine, but a sustainable, development-centered engine. That being said, I agree with Richard on the need to inform people about the risks of Asbestos when remodeling your home. I am also pleased that our government is giving incentives to make our homes greener. And since I am currently studying to take my LEED AP Exam (hence the thin number of posts this week), this is relevant to my present state of mind.

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Say No to Bonuses

AIG paid more than 20 times the average US yearly income to executives in bonuses.

We own a substantial amount of companies that were on the brink of going under not to long ago. Now they are trying to defend what they call “retaining” bonuses: extra money to keep on executives. These are not the average “good-job, here’s a grand” bonuses that most professionals might be accustom. These are more than $1,000,000 bonuses. That is 20 times the average yearly income in the US – in a yearly bonus! 52 people who received these payouts are no longer with the company.

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Why the Stimulus Packages Will NOT Work

Recently congress passed the nearly $800 billion “stimulus” package (passed with strong republican opposition). For more information on the package itself, you can even go to the website devoted to it to learn more. There are many mixed views on it’s ability to help, harm, or do nothing to our economy. I confidently believe that it will likely be one of the latter two – harm or do nothing.

We may see a short upswing, perhaps even a temporary rebound, but it is likely to be years from now. We have yet to really see the impact of 3.6 million lost jobs until each one of those people run out of unemployment benefits – that’s when the proverbial shit will hit the fan.

However, this stimulus package is no better than using a bucket on a barn fire – any relief will be an illusion and not a fix to the real problem. The system doesn’t work, so the stimulus will not work. Consider the following…

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The Political Push for a Steady State

These few first days of the president’s term in office have many people thinking. I am wondering what is being done for a moral economy, one that focuses on more than just “bailing-out” a broken system? The economy is so much more than our jobs and our money. The affects of our economy are felt on everything…

People are starving in countries where you cannot grown corn (or wheat, or rice, et cetera) to compete with the world market. Why? Because our government (and other industrialized governments) subsidizes corn so much that it can be sold at below it’s actual cost of production. On top of that, aid to countries in need of food is often too little too late because of our highly inept aid policies, which are corrupted with profits for agribusiness and shipping companies and little actual aid.

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