Tuesday, February 18, 2014

INTRODUCING: the 5 Gyres Viking Expedition

This upcoming summer, I am going to sail with the 5 Gyres Viking Expedition as a deck hand and research assistant ---- in search of the plastic pollution hot spots in the Atlantic Ocean.

Help me make it aboard!! I have launched a croudfunding campaign on Indiegogo.com to help finance the research and expedition.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Two-Timing Nature of Rafael Correa's Naturalism

Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa has apparently garnered reelection with imagery of being an environmentally sensitive president, championing television ads of him loading his bike onto a canoe as he visits Amazonian indigenous communities. I'm not alone in questioning this.

A few years ago, Correa petitioned the international climate-conscious political sphere for financial compensation and carbon credit to keep Amazonian trees alive and oil in the ground. Out of this novel concept, the Yasuni-ITT initiative was born.

Yet Correa's former vice-president warns in a recent Guardian article that, "If Correa wins [the election] the ITT initiative will be dropped. The infrastructure is already in place to exploit the oil... Correa takes credit for the ITT initiative outside of Ecuador. But in reality he doesn't feel comfortable with it. He's preparing to blame rich nations for not giving enough to make it work."

Not only is the ITT initiative in question, according to an AMAZON WATCH press release:

"The Ecuadorian Ministry of Hydrocarbons, the Committee of Hydrocarbon Tender, and the state-run oil company Petroamazonas plan to sell 16 Amazonian blocks, covering nearly ten million acres of primary forest and indigenous land in the Southeastern Ecuadorian Amazon. The area is home to seven indigenous nationalities: the Shuar, Achuar, Kichwa, Shiwiar, Andoa, Waorani and Sápara. In none of the blocks has the Ecuadorian government obtained Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), an internationally recognized human rights benchmark intended to protect the rights of indigenous communities whose lives and lands are affected by extractive mega-projects such as oil drilling"

Isn't that just great? An "anti-imperialist" president who at the end of the day is all about exploiting indigenous minorities and the environment to make money...

I first learned of the Ecuadorian Government's plans to auction more than 10 million acres of virgin rainforest indigenous lands when I attended a community event in Houston, TX, hosted by the Tar Sands Blockade in early February. Many members of the Tar Sands Blockade assisted two indigenous community leaders earlier that day in protesting the auctioning off of their lands' mineral rights at the Winter North American Prospect Expo (NAPE)--- where the land auctions began. Oil and Gas companies have until May 2013 to place their bids.

Jaime Vargas, President of the Achuar Nationality of Ecuador, was in Houston defending his land for his people. The Achuar of Ecuador were never defeated by the Spanish colonialists and are recognized as an independent nation by the pluri-nationalistic Ecuadorian constitution--- and yet these "Round XI" oil auctions compromise 100% of their community's land.

At the community meeting in Houston, Vargas shared with us his view that ceding their tribal lands to the oil industry represented a total destruction of their tradition-- he's seen firsthand how neighboring tribes with oil leases have fallen into poverty, prostitution, alcoholism, loss of language, culture and land... and he is not willing to see the same thing happen to his people.

Correa's shift toward oil and gas exploitation is disappointing to say the very least. One acre of Ecuadorian rainforest can hold more tree species than all of North America. The Amazon is one of the most important places in the world, and the people who have lived there sustainably for generations want to protect it--- and yet it is being literally undermined for the benefit of companies like Chevron, who will take every step necessary not to be held accountable to the Ecuadorian people for their horrendous and negligent environmental impact.

In conclusion, tell President Rafael Correa to eat dirt:

Another Lousy Petition Totally Worth Signing 3.0: Stop the 11-th Round Oil Auctions

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Art's Disturbing Sometimes .3

This video says about 10,000,000,000 words as to the reality of climate change.

The footage is from the new documentary "CHASING ICE"

Check it out on YouTube for more information.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Public Transportation Rocks

Thank You MegaBus

I just rode from Dallas to Houston to Austin to Houston for an extremely good cost.

Promo code: TRYMEGABUS

gives you a ride for freeee (50 cent processing fee)

Of course... they have a special for Texas...

Promo code: IHEARTTX

Special discount of $1 per ride

I don't know whether to think that i'm just really cool and in the know, or that MegaBus has really great market analysts and that's why they're somehow still in business when offering FANTASTIC DEALS

Who is behind this great public transportation of late? No really, who?

Thursday, February 7, 2013


Beautiful creature? Total troll?

I don't know...

source: Wikipedia

Also, Wolphin babies?


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Frack Everything (and Merry Christmas)

The USA is on a great upswing in oil and natural gas production, and a lot of people don't see the need to talk or worry about "peak fossil fuels" (i.e. dwindling cheap supply) because of technological advances such as with hydraulic fracturing ("fracking").

The thing is: even if our net available supply of natural gas has increased, that doesn't change the fact that the industry is operating in a market/system that pretty much completely discounts human and environmental health. It doesn't mean that mixing highly toxic chemicals into very large amounts of water and pumping it at high pressure into shale formations to release natural gas deposits is the answer to our "energy crisis".

You wouldn't know it by the way we dump our feces and industrial poisons into it, but water is more valuable than oil or natural gas. It's one of those really essential things.

City-councilman Doug Shields successfully introduced a hydro-fracking ban in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania shortly after the city's public drinking water supply was shut down due to highly toxic gas industry waste being dumped directly into rivers with minimal and inadequate treatment. The industry was well aware of these millions of gallons of waste, not just in Pittsburgh, but all over Pennsylvania.  A recent article in The Nation by Elizabeth Royte states, "Between 2008 and 2011, drilling companies in Pennsylvania reported 2,392 violations of law that posed a direct threat to the environment and safety of communities." This is especially surprising because the industry sits in a 2005 Energy Bill loophole to exempt them from key elements of the Clean Water Act according to the website of the documentary Gasland--- they already have fewer laws to "follow".

It's no small wonder New Yorkers are protesting and petitioning their Governor to deny industry access to their stretch of Marcellus Shale in the name of their abundant freshwater supply --- and most recently, in the name of their food supply. Alongside the compromised lives and livelihoods of neighboring ranchers, exposure to some of the myriad hazardous chemicals associated with hydraulic-fracking has led to the serious illness, death, and still-birth of nearby livestock (according to one peer-reviewed study, personal testimonies, and that fantastic Elizabeth Royte article).

These are some pretty high externalized costs for energy independence, don't you think? Why are we scaling up and auctioning public lands to this industry instead of figuring out how to live without it and deal with the messes it already creates? We can only handle so many more millions of gallons of toxins...

Thursday, December 13, 2012

On the Doha Dud and Tar Sands Treaty

I've been hesitating on this one--- I drank too much Hatorade. And even before that, the subject was depressing.

The 18th United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP18) came together in Doha, Qatar to negotiate the future of international climate negotiations (as ironic as that is). Who are the Parties and why aren't they partying? They are the countries that form the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and they're not partying because they're too busy wallowing in the frustrations of international diplomacy.


In 2010, the Parties agreed that emissions need to be reduced such that temperatures didn't rise more than 2 degrees Celsius ---- because, you know, most of the world agrees that the climate is changing  and that it's linked to greenhouse gas emissions (in large part from industry; including industrial cow farts).

Because if they don't change now, carbon-independence will be even harder to accomplish and problems will compound upon themselves as the "carbon-sinks" such as corals, algae and trees die, the permafrost melts to expose methane-bogged peat bogs, smaller glaciers reflect smaller amounts of solar radiation, etc. etc.

The way things stand, as was abundantly clear at Doha, there is no way that "government" is going to take drastic enough measures to accomplish this objective. Seems like the only thing these conferences are good for is making small-island diplomats cry and giving a platform for Canadian Ministers of the Environment to lie through their teeth.

According to the Climate Change Performance Index 2013 :

Not one of the examined countries has managed to change to a development path that is compatible with limiting global warming substantially below 2 degree C. No country's effort is deemed sufficient to prevent dangerous climate change.

The small yet comprehensive CCPI report, produced annually by Germanwatch and Climate Action Network Europe since 2005, ranks Denmark as the best performing country based on the weighing of emissions level (30%), emissions development (30%), renewable energy (10%), efficiency (10%) and policy (10%). But, again, it has found that no country does nearly enough--- so how can we reasonably expect them to do so collectively?

The Parties passed a "Doha Climate Gateway" to next year's COP 19, which could lead to an extension of the Kyoto Protocol (KP2?) --- the only ratified and thereby legally binding international climate negotiation on the book, which pledges to reduce GHG emissions below 1990 levels by 20XX.

But even that is: yep, not gonna cut it.

The USA, China, India -- and as of 2011, Canada --  are all not legally bound to the Kyoto Protocol. The data in the CCPI 2013 report suggests that these four countries are responsible for more than 44% of global CO2 emissions. Their carbon leadership probably won't change considering:

  •  So many politicians and good-common-folk in the USA are so scared of the UN imposing on their sovereignty-- having never bothered to consider reading the UN Charter-- that the federal government can't possibly ratify UN proposals, even when they are founded squarely upon American policy and principle. And let's not forget the Heritage Foundation backed mindset that "the only consensus on climate change is that there is no consensus". 

  • Canada has a legacy of obstructing climate negotiation. Canada's government is incredibly influenced by the fossil fuel industry. The tar sands extraction and refining in Alberta is claimed to be the largest industrial project in human history, with an equally larger-than-acknowledged carbon footprint, and they hope to triple in scale by 2030 to 6 million barrels per day.  To support tar sands development is to support continued reliance on fossil fuels, continued pillage of indigenous peoples' lands, and subsequent rapid climate change and biodiversity decline: 

James Hansen, head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, described it as "game over for the climate". And as the Canadian Youth Delegation puts it, Canada has Commitment Issues: Tar sands extraction invalidates Canada’s obligations to the UNFCCC and undermines global climate change negotiations

All of this is to say, the politics and the anything-but-laissez-faire energy market are far from protecting the planet, or the vast majority of its over-7-billion people. Extending the Kyoto Protocol won't accomplish much at all to reduce GHGs, because the biggest players aren't involved. And as for guaranteeing funds for the $100 billion per year Green Climate Fund to help those most affected... good luck, delegates.

As the talking heads talked in Doha, 92 died and 80,000 people lost their homes in the Philippines from Typhoon Bopha. I think the status-quo calls for revolution. TRUE "change"-- and I don't mean from a centralized global governing body. While climate science and politics continues to be scandalized, our environment is being under-valued and our mega-markets are market-failing on us. My question to the investors, the decision makers, the listened-to's among us is: How are you going to enjoy your resort  holidays-- your retirement-- if the ocean's beaches and high tides are all littered with petro-plastics and the coral reefs are all dying and dissolving by mid-century? Or if even you are too busy running from disaster or starvation? You're not. We're not.

I will not live my life in fear-mongering and depression, but I will neither deny this real possibility and condone a  tar sands economy at the direct cost of more peaceful and closed-loop economic innovation.