Tag Archives: green

You can’t do that.

picture-41I just read something nice.
It simply proved something I thought true, but that I was told is impossible.
You see, being at Phog, it’s not uncommon to wax futuristic and wonder what the world might hold for us (or vice versa).
When the topic got to cars, and how we’re making vehicles in Windsor that few consumers want anymore, even the artists (lefties) at the bar were nagging, “Well, what the hell can they do to them? Huh? Nothing!”
“Well guys, what if Windsor was a city that decided they didn’t like the status quo. What if people ditched their cookie-cutter cars for older cars, the ones they used to make with steel…and had them retro-fit with eco-friendly parts, making them not only road-safe, but more environmental than ever…maybe even making them electrical? Imagine what the streets would LOOK like! You wouldn’t look out of a window and see what EVERY North American sees. You’d see something unique! And it would all be in part to the engineering and manufacturing prowess in this city!”
Bucky, a local enviro-guy, brilliant guy, was the actual person who hatched this idea some weeks and weeks earlier. I loved his idea. Preserving the past, but doing one better and making something new and refreshing to the eye while blowing a kiss to Mother Nature at the same time.
The people at the bar, most times I reintroduce Bucky’s idea for the sake of dreaming, almost always get out of sorts and try to think of all the ways this idea can’t work.
As a matter of habit, this is how my community OFTEN approaches new ideas and concepts about absolutely anything. They think of all the ways it can’t work before they think of all the ways it can. I can’t be sure, but I wonder if they are just talking themselves out of participating if it ever DOES happen.
This frustration has guided me to some new groups of folks who foster and develop new ideas. Thanks to you, you know who you are…

But back to this article I read at the beginning of this post.
HERE’S THE LINK TO IT.
Apparently, there is a company in the US who is way ahead of us, and WAY ahead of the naysayers I lock eyes and wits with almost every shift.

They take gas guzzlers, and make them more acceptable vehicles. Old, new, whatever.
The working class in Windsor could do this in their sleep. I wish the creative spirit drove someone to these lengths. I don’t feel it’s my obligation to “find” the right people and get them fired up to start a company doing this, because SO MANY people in this city could do this work. It would be wonderful if they’d just emerge on their own, and shock this motor city under their own volition, like the company currently doing so in the United States.

I really never listen to anyone who tells me, “You can’t do that,” anymore.

Advertisements

Green Shift in Detroit?

picture-5I listen to Detroit Today (on WDET 101.9FM) most mornings. It’s right in my wheelhouse between my writing hour and my Phog band-booking hour.
Today, from the time I turned on the stereo, Quinn Klinefelter was interviewing Rick Bowers. The City of Detroit has created its first office of Energy and Sustainability. Rick Bowers is the new chief of that project.

I was audibly laughing in my living room (even being stuffed-up) because they were talking about bringing green collar jobs to Detroit, and how incredibly attractive the City of Detroit is to people wanting to make these changes. I laughed because their conversation consisted of precisely the bits I was able to cram into my little Windsor Star article the other day.

And for some reason, I doubt that Quinn Klinefelter will get the responses I got on the Windsor Star website such as:

We need to abolish the WTO and NAFTA. Then we can start a green industry. The way China keeps its regulations illegally low compared to us makes it so all manufacturing goes there. E-waste goes there, so why wouldn’t “green collar” jobs? We are overlooking the structural problems in our country and think that environmentalism will solve it all when it has nothing to do with it. The bankers control everything with their fractional reserve banking.

or

To Tom: Manufacturing will never stay here because labor can be done cheaper in China. What we need is to setup recycling plants here to recycle e-waste, but right now that stuff goes to China. We have to take care of the financial structural imbalances (China’s keeping their currency/labor/enviro laws lower than ours) before we dream of setting up a green industry. Wake up Tom. We do not buy your humanist agenda to depopulate the city of Windsor thru scaling down.

or

Global warming is a fraud. Tens of thousands of scientists signed the oregon declaration to prove it. The earth goes thru cold and hot spells and this is normal. Water vapor is more of a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide is, but you know why they chose carbon? Because you breathe it! Eventually they will tax life itself if we get a carbon tax. Don’t be an extremist, please.

or

The green concept is based on putting the economy first, like to building a park to save it (instead of just letting it be.) By that (foolish) definition, that won’t work after the “big 3” leave. Ironically though, the air will be cleaner, and the poor will still be poor.

I mean, these comments are completely welcomed, as they get conversations started, but I have an extremely hard time getting into the mind-space of these people. I mean, when you hear about people wanting to bring green collar jobs to Windsor or Detroit, how can you think of China? Green industry jobs (installing solar panels, cleaning up toxic spills, landscaping/urban gardening, organic farmers, tidal/wind/solar energy farm technicians, etc.) are grassroots in design. Green thought is local thought. If a green energy push is made, China is the last place people are looking to go IF (big if) they have an infrastructure and a willing local government to implement these kinds of objectives.

Sure they make TONS of solar panels in China. No one here has made enough of a push to lure in these companies. Bitterfeld Germany certainly has, and look at them!

I think people find an issue they have a feeling about, and then they try to connect any given topic or story to their agenda, and then they harp on it at every chance. They have a pre-formed view of anything “green” and when they see it pop up, they go into their mantra about NAFTA, China, or what-have-you. You can’t please everyone, I get it, but to go off on a tangent about the WTO and NAFTA, when what I’ve written is clearly about is self-sustainability using local people to create LOCAL solutions…People are so funny!

I thought it was funny that this discussion was happening on WDET, which for some Star readers, might be a “more legitimate source” than some kid on The Scene page. I just wish that more Windsorites were dialed-in to this movement, which is not as hidden and unknown as it once was in the past. What can I do to make this clearer? Deliver the New York Times to every house in the city for free for a week so they can see how many of these positive changes are happening…written by the most reputable news source I can think of?
Who knows?

To hear more about this idea of greening the crappier parts of the country…the hurting urban spaces…see Majora Carter’s TED Talk here

But beware naysayers!!! There are NEW IDEAS on this website! Aaaaahhhhhhhhh!
By the way, this is one of the best websites I have ever visited.

Van Jones…Green Job Enthusiast

I read a blog I found out about recently from the writer himself (he commented on this blog in the past). His name is Peder.

His blog feels very similar to mine, except he’s from the US.

His post, recently, was about economic “happenings” in the US, and about the beliefs of a man named Van Jones, founder of Green For All…a green-collar-job promoter.

I am simply borrowing his post, forwarding it to you, and in the same breath, informing you of his blog address and encouraging you to check it out.

http://pederhanson.wordpress.com/

That’s the address. Visit often. And thanks Peder for writing about this Oakland-based inspiration.

Here’s Peder’s post:

“A recent article by syndicated New York Times columnist David Brooks got me thinking about the way our government has been spending our money. We’re all aware of the $700+ billion package intended to loosen credit markets which has done little of that up to now. As if that’s not enough, President-elect Obama has stated his desire to see further short-term stimulus packages, either in the final months of Bush’s term or the first months of his own.

This year our federal spending has increased 13.8% over last year, driven in large part by an 18% increase in military spending (bottom of linked article). In spite of this historic credit and economic crisis, the US government has no problem spending money, and will borrow without apparent limit to do so.

But the spending is misplaced. Over the last five weeks the financial sector bailout money has paid for executive bonuses and lavish corporate conferences, and funded the purchase of other banks. It has not loosened up credit markets or relieved individuals’ financial stress, in spite of a recent spat of historic interest rate cuts. The lesson: Banks are greedy. Greenspan has admitted he underestimated this reality. And it’s time for us to quit giving all our [future generations’] borrowed [Chinese] money to them.

Really, we should probably be saving our money right now; tightening our belts, spending less and saving more. But if we’re going to spend it anyway (and this is the point of the David Brooks piece) let’s spend it on something with a lasting, long-term legacy for our nation. Brooks says we should spend it on a National Mobility Project, which has merit; he cites good reasons in his article. But I have another idea.

Van JonesI’d like to introduce you to Van Jones. If you haven’t yet heard of him, he’s an Oakland-based activist, author and founder of Green For All, an organization that promotes “green-collar” jobs and opportunities for the disadvantage. He’s a very talented speaker and motivational leader. In a series of blog posts published by the Huffington Post, Mr. Jones proposes a series of investment priorities into electricity production and building retrofitting programs which will (1) reduce our energy consumption and reliance on foreign-produced, carbon-emitting fuel sources, and (2) provide jobs in the manufacturing and service sectors that can employ disadvantaged and lower-educated individuals, and cannot be outsourced or taken overseas. (Unfortunately, ever the salesman, Van’s posts come across as sales-oriented. His either selling his book or his foundation’s program.) Nonetheless, this video will let you hear his ideas in his own words:

His ideas, and the concept of green-collar job creation in general, remind one of FDR’s Public Works Administration, and Jones cites several studies which point to the potential upside to spending that amounts to fractions of what has already been promised by the government in the 3rd quarter of 2008. It’s important to note that the bailout bill passed about a month ago did include some provisions that support clean tech. But they amount to tax policy. I’m talking about an investment program. As you can see below there are many options here, all of which improve our energy efficiency and create jobs.

No Money, No HoneyIt is important to note that government subsidy has to be viewed as a stimulus, not as an income source. That is, before implementing any spending we need to define return on investment projections and set time limits on these expenditures. We can use our money to prime our economic pump, but we need to ensure it addresses the problem it’s intended to solve, has reasonable ROI expectations and lasts a finite period of time. By my count the economic bailout of October 2008 misses on the first two points. And it’s costing us a lot of money. To alleviate the ruin we’ve wrought so far, the best of what I’ve read says we need to require US banking institutions take the money we’ve given them and feed it directly into credit markets.

And if we’re going to spend more money, then let’s invest in this green-collar revolution. To me it just makes good business sense, and it seems we could use some of this in Washington right now.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself. Which is why I copied Peder’s post in the first place.

Brazil is everywhere…

Okay, to begin, I need to express my lack of expertise. This is key. I know basic information about the world and the environment, etc., but as I am learning, I like to keep my thoughts and opinions here. If you would like to add anything or suggest some places I can learn more about a post I make, please do so.

Moving on, what is the deal with Brazil?!

Every time I find something interesting happening online, in podcasts, or in the paper, I find that it is often in Brazil.

The tribe that has been photographed from a helicopter in the Amazon was in Brazil. This native tribe was spotted in a fly-over, and when the chopper returned to take more photos (and to scare the living shit out of these people who have NEVER BEEN TOUCHED BY CIVILIZATION) they had hurriedly painted their bodies bright orange or entirely black. It looks like the men (with bows and arrows pointed at the growling demon
in the sky) were orange and the women were painted black.

In other recent news, there are big things going on with the Amazon (in Brazil) as a BBC reporter from The World has just returned from a long trip to the fabled area. He was discussing the science being done above the canopy in the Amazon, collecting air samples since 1998, and measuring how rain actually occurs in the rainforest. They found some cool stuff, and they explain it in detail on The World Podcast with Clark Boyd.

Discussion in the podcast includes the air flow around South America, due in part to the Amazon, and how the moisture finds particles in the air to stick to for the return of water through rain. Since there’s not a TON of pollution above the canopy, scientists didn’t know how the water clung onto stuff that didn’t exist. It’s a scienc-y good story. Check it.

Another story about Brazil, this one in the New York Times, shone some light on the possibility of corruption in the Amazon. This is the main reason I was driven to start blogging at 3am after attending a wonderful wedding party for Dan and Jenna by the lake in Kingsville. I am beat, but I was burning about the way we allow pricks with HUGE companies and capitalist ideals get into office!!

To preface, this dude, the Soybean King, is being seen by scientists as the worst clear-cutting and environment-infringing dudes in the country. He governs the most agriculturized province in Brazil (the Amazon). Yes, I said that the governor of this space of Amazon is the man in charge of the land and agriculturization, and VOILA! he owns the most successful, money-grubbing food company in the whole damn country. Am I shocked by this anymore? No. It seems that somehow, in the grand discussion of democracy, we somehow let these slimy pricks into the highest offices imaginable.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, the president of Brazil is supposed to be some environmental Batman or something, but really, if he’s allowing the “selective” clear cutting of one of the WORLD’S most important ecosystems by a COLLEAGUE and government-mate, how hero-like is he? He’s worse than Robin. He’s not even as valuable as one of the smoke bombs on Batman’s belt. He’s like, maybe the “Batman’s sock” of the environment. Nothing to write to Sao Paolo about.

Back to the story. Dr. Câmara, who heads the National Institute for Space Research in Brazil has been measuring the amount of forest being cut down…but they are cleverer than the Soybean King, Blairo Maggi, gave them credit for, because it can measure the loss even when they perform selective cutting…not quite clear-cutting. This information exchange was immediately attacked by the Soybean King, putting some environmental groups on their heels. The deforestation had been in decline for two years, but then it spiked.

It’s being cut down for crops and livestock! Hello!? We are still cutting down rain forest to grow food when there are grossly obese fools running around North America and Mexico, and diabetics are erupting like mad in India! We’re growing food to put in our gas tanks! Jesus Christ people! Can we leave the goddamn car at home for once!? Frig! The Amazon is going away so we can grow corn for our car (while millions starve worldwide, never mind that estimates say 35 million Americans don’t know where their next meal is coming from) and to fatten cows so we can eat meat. Yeah, we are pounding these chic slider-burgers like an eight-year-old binges on Oreos and we wonder why the world’s weather is getting screwed up. Some day soon, I’m sure, the corporate-interest-owned media will share the big picture with everyone so they can start consuming less (sarcasm).

“Worldwide agriculture, especially livestock production, accounts for about a fifth of greenhouse gas emissions,” says Treehugger.com. Thanks Treehugger. For a clue what I mean about meat and climate change linkage, click the previous link.

So, back to the story. “Marina Silva, Brazil’s environmental minister and a respected rain forest defender, resigned this month. While leaving, she spoke of heavy pressures being exerted by industry-minded governors, including Governor Maggi, to reverse the federal crackdown on destruction of the forest,” reported ALEXEI BARRIONUEVO of the New York Times. Greenpeace gave the Soybean King the Golden Chainsaw Award in 2005 for his role as the worst Brazilian “deforester”.

This guy is IN CHARGE! I find that the answer is in the people’s power over the corporate interest’s power. It starts by NOT ELECTING a machete-wielding agri-giant who would down his mother’s legs if he could make money by planting corn under her. In essence, he IS cutting of all of our mother’s legs: Mama Nature that is…

Someone make me feel better about this. Tell me that people with the opportunity to evade electing a bio-terrorist to power in ANY country where they allow voting will do the right thing when they hit the ballot box. Geez! What are we to do about these mistakes? Oops, we elected a nature-hating, enviro-suck-beast (a terrestrial lamprey) and now we see him for what he is, a low-life opportunist, and we want him gone…what can you do?

I have to go to bed and dream about trees.

Garbage Patch knowledge growing

It was quite late the other night, while I was just finishing up a post, when I looked at the TV screen and noticed the tell-tale images of pelican and albatross corpses full of pieces of plastic. This imagery seems to almost always be a precursor to discussion about the North (Great) Pacific Garbage Patch.

So as I watched, the terrain became familiar, and I soon heard the narrator, Edward Norton, introduce Captain Charles Moore. I realized I was watching a National Geographic show called Strange Days. I was in no position to watch it, but I hope it will be on PBS again at a better time than 5am.

At a family get-together yesterday, my brother Rodd and I continued our talk about the Garbage Patch. Rodd has watched 11 of the 12 episodes of the Vice production of Garbage Island. I have only seen five of them, but it’s almost like I can’t take watching too many of them at once. I get a little rage building in my gut when I realize that my complacency, and the melange of everyone else’s complacency has lead to people and corporations treating the planet like a septic tank. There should be more outrage.

Perhaps I’ll post again when I watch the rest of the series.

Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Screen capture of Garbage Island by VBS.TV

Quite a while ago I heard a podcast talking about this enormous gyre in the North Pacific Ocean that collects a hell of a lot of garbage and plastic. It is aptly named The Great Pacific Garbage Patch. I read several articles to follow this up, and subsequently e-mailed Google asking them why I couldn’t zoom in on the North Pacific and see this monstrous garbage patch. Surprise! I never heard back from them. Just found a link to this great conversation about why there may or may not be any visible floating garbage.

The articles I read are from Best Life Magazine and The San Francisco Chronicle. They sadly inform on the state of The Horse Latitudes, which I think is a brilliant name for a band. The discussion basically boils down to the fact that when plastic photodegrades and becomes smaller and smaller pieces of plastic (eventually nurdles) it likes to absorb the most heinous chemicals known to man. No big deal? Actually, it’s brutal. It’s getting eaten by plankton, and just about every other freakin’ creature in the ocean. They eventually get these chemicals in their bodies, and continually pass it down the line until we begin eating our own goddamn garbage. Irony is painful.

So, everything from Bisphenol A, human biochemistry, jettisoned trash from freighters, plastic bag consumption, the evils of bottled water, and much more is linked to this story.

The details are in the articles linked above, as the experts did the work, and it is fresh for the reading.

However, I found the Holy Grail of Garbage Patch research when I found this documentary series produced by Vice Magazine. They had a guy write a short article on his journey into “The Patch” in a recent issue of Vice, and as I read it, I remember wishing for more. More images, more stories, more statistics, more hope. Lo and behold, here is this guy’s face, on a series of videos online comprising a documentary that I cannot WAIT to watch. I highly recommend this, as it is a strong young approach to the issue. Yeah, you may hear profanity here or there, but this is a more reasonable response than simply going about our daily routine creating more waste.

I feel like I can go on and on about this for too long. Not just the ocean issue, but about the waste culture I am firmly situated within. Maybe another day. In the meantime, please go check out these videos called Garbage Island by Vice.