Friday, June 30, 2006

Can We Change?

Everything Just Moved

Nothing is in the same place for very long, or ever again.
Everything is moving, expanding, contracting, changing
into everything else --

infinitely dense or fantastically elongated, a cone about to burst.
Physical reality is filling up with living metaphors. There is
uncertainty at the center of our thinking

about where anything is
which means we sort of know, but not exactly, because everything
just moved, which is all right, but where did it go?

And, when things run into each other
something always shatters. There are pieces where there was a whole
which means everything just changed.

It's all right that the fabric of the universe
is like this, but it's inconvenient here, on Saturday, in July.
I'm not convinced I've landed someplace

I want to be. What happened to free will?
I'm supposed to be somewhere else perhaps, but there isn't enough
energy to pull me in any direction,

or at least that is how it feels from here,
on Tuesday, in November. I have a passion to know but can't figure
simple things, like who belongs where.

Another uncertain thing is time --
the way it races off, taking me along sometimes, or not.
Possibly the energy is too dense here

for time or light or particles to escape.
But I've already moved, exploded, broken, and now I'm somewhere else,
and don't know exactly when I'll arrive here again.

It's different than I'd hoped, not what I thought.
Much of what I want is absolutely not here. Possibly I slipped through
a worm hole, which may be metaphor for rebirth --

a spiral one could tumble through
faster than light, land in another reality, and not come back
because there isn't a way to understand

"faster than light in reverse," yet.
Now that I'm gone, I'm exactly that -- not anywhere but here.
And not here either, because I just moved.

©Susan Bright

Susan Bright is the author of nineteen books of poetry. She is the editor of Plain View Press which since 1975 has published one-hundred-and-fifty books. Her work as a poet, publisher, activist and educator has taken her all over the United States and abroad. Her most recent book, The Layers of Our Seeing, is a collection of poetry, photographs and essays about peace done in collaboration with photographer Alan Pogue and Middle Eastern journalist, Muna Hamzeh.


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art courtesy of page starwalker

Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Melt Up


The Rune for Ice
means that which changes from solid
to liquid, smoothly or at the instant
of a jolting sudden rip --

freeze to flowing entity.
The great booming crack when first
ice breaks is legend above the Arctic Circle.

The Rune for Ice
is a metaphor for opening and closing
the soul to love, for instance, to life force --
the mind to radical change,
the freeze then melt of dirt, a crack of seed,
the unfolding of green which falls putrid and cycles back,
the mathematical certainty of crystal morphed
to the chaotic uncertainty of anything
that flows --

If electro magnetism explains
the dynamics of subatomic particles suggesting
reality will continue to adhere to time --
If gravity explains the cosmic miracle of day and night
depending on perspective --
If light is both wave and particle, then --

If -- then /
depend on time, but
imagine reality is simultaneous,
like spirit, or light.

It's a wonder anything holds together
even slightly --
the essence being speed, repetition,
rhythm, scale, the dance of life.

We are able to know things
because there is enough order (just)
to frame thought.

we are able to observe and predict
geometic progressions of melting
that will raise oceanic surfaces on planet earth
as much as 80 feet, fill up rivers, flow into the
hollows of our world, cover coastal
cities, continents, civilizations
car lots, nuclear power plants, hotels,
libraries, dogs, grandmother’s silver --
the future a litany of loss and suffering.

Do we stand on the brink of mass extinction
or a great awakening?

Ice to water --
crystalline substantial order to --
a vast flow, chaos, uncertainty,
every aspect of reality
different, Earth forcing
us to re-examine
every aspect of how we
understand, live and are part
of her epistemology --
a universal paradigm shift
inventing itself from our imaginations
as the ice breaks.

©Susan Bright

Susan Bright is the author of nineteen books of poetry. She is the editor of Plain View Press which since 1975 has published one-hundred-and-fifty books. Her work as a poet, publisher, activist and educator has taken her all over the United States and abroad. Her most recent book, The Layers of Our Seeing, is a collection of poetry, photographs and essays about peace done in collaboration with photographer Alan Pogue and Middle Eastern journalist, Muna Hamzeh.


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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Good Stuff

It's encouraging to see that this nano-tech stuff that I write about

is actually becoming real.

This is a pretty big story, and

It increases World Wide PV production by 30% or so.

Nanosolar to build world's largest solar cell factory
21 June 2006

Nanosolar, a Silicon Valley start-up founded in 2001 to commercialize low-cost solar cells, has won $100 m in funding to build a manufacturing facility in the San Francisco Bay area that will produce 200 million solar cells per year. The plant will have a maximum output of 430 MW per year, almost triple the existing solar production capacity in the US, and is due to start production in 2007.

Nanosolar will also establish an assembly plant, most likely near Berlin, Germany, that will produce more than one million solar panels per year.


Nanosolar's technology exploits thin films of copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS), a direct bandgap semiconductor that generates a much larger photoelectric effect than silicon per unit of material. As a result, a thin film of CIGS just 1 µm thick can generate as much electricity as a 200-300 µm thick crystalline silicon wafer.

Thin-film CIGS solar cells therefore offer similar conversion efficiencies to those based on silicon, at around 20%, but can be manufactured much more cheaply. Indeed, the company claims that a silicon solar-cell factory of the same capacity would cost more than one billion dollars to build.

Nanosolar isn't alone in developing a lower cost alternative to silicon solar cells, which currently account for 90% of the global photovoltaic market. Fellow US start-up Miasolé is also producing CIGS solar cells, while other companies - notably Solarion and Würth Solar of Germany - are exploiting copper-indium selenide (CIS), a related material that also offers good conversion efficiencies.

Still others are focusing on dye-sensitized solar cells, which exploit photoexcitation of organic dye molecules to generate a current in a semiconductor layer made of titanium oxide nanoparticles.


Against this competition, Nanosolar is the first to achieve an end-to-end manufacturing process that can be scaled to high production volumes. Most importantly, the company has exploited molecular self-assembly to produce an "ink" of CIGS nanoparticles, which can then be printed onto a flexible substrate.

According to Nanosolar, this printing process is more efficient and repeatable than alternative vacuum-coating techniques - which struggle to deposit the CIGS compound with the correct atomic structure to achieve good efficiency - and enable the use of substrates that are up to ten times cheaper that the stainless steel substrates needed for vacuum deposition.

Nanosolar's flexible substrate technology also allows solar-cell modules to be assembled with high throughput and high yield."

There are others too.

We just need to focus on the good stuff.

Point is.

With advanced wind turbines

and advanced solar cells,

and advanced ultracapacitors,

and a movement to hydrogen for our power plants,

We can all stop smoking,

At least the bad stuff, that is.


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picture from Mongabay and Solargenics

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Door

*The Red Door
The last two democratic nominees for president are not only together in the likelihood that both of them were robbed of victory, they are also together on Climate Change and that now is the time to respond.

Our Energy Challenge
Senator John Kerry
Monday 26 June 2006
Faneuil Hall
Boston, Massachusetts

Too often our leaders in both parties have done what's easy, turned their backs on hard realities and great possibilities. Renewables, efficiency breakthroughs, clean technologies have been marginalized in the face of self-interested forces.

In these lost years, we could have created millions of new jobs, opened up vast new markets, improved the health of our citizens, slowed global warming, saved the taxpayers money, earned the respect of the world, and significantly strengthened our long term security.

Instead America's energy strategy has been rhetorical, not real.


I don't know how to say it more plainly: Washington's energy policy is as real as their claims of Mission Accomplished in Iraq. But it is also the latest chapter in the long story in both parties politics at its worst - ducking the difficult choices, giving into the big contributors, substituting words for deeds, postponing the reckoning until the day after tomorrow. If you offend no one, you change nothing.

The world is changing and now the reckoning is real.

Last Thursday, Brian Williams opened the nightly news with a stark statement: "Top climate scientists are saying with a high level of confidence that the earth is the hottest it has been in 400 years." NBC's science correspondent reported that global warming may lead to "rising sea levels, heavy rains in some areas, drought in others, and an increase in severe weather, including hurricanes."

Was there room to argue? Well, as the NBC story concluded "you can [always] make a debate if you can find one scientist who says the earth is flat and have him debate it against everybody else."

Well, Washington is full of "flat-earth" politicians. No matter how the evidence has mounted over two decades - the melting of the arctic ice cap, rising sea levels, extreme weather - the flat earth caucus can't even see what is on the horizon.

In the Congress they've even trotted out the author of Jurassic Park as an expert witness to argue that climate change is fiction.

This is Stone Age science.

Here's the bottom line: within the next decade, if we don't deal with global warming, our children and grandchildren will have to deal with global catastrophe.

It is time to stop debating fiction writers, oil executives and flat-earth politicians, (more)

The question now - even more than it has been for the last years - is not whether climate change is happening but what are we going to do about it?

No, I don't mean how does the political system moan and groan and adopt makeshift responses.

I mean what are we really going to do?

How do we turn this danger into opportunity?

How do we meet a challenge of epic proportions with an epic American response?

Well we have to start by ending the bizarre disconnect of American politics. Real crises stare us in the face, screaming for solution. But non-existent, contrived ones replace the real ones on the agenda of a Congress that wants to change the political climate instead of dealing with climate change.

They remain bent on dividing the country with flag burning and gay bashing amendments to the Constitution when we should be strengthening the country with a determined attack on global climate change."

Kerry continues in his speech with a pretty good grasp of good energy policy and an understanding of how we can turn this challenge into an opportunity.

Like Gore, they both see an opportunity in this challenge.

I see it as an opportunity too, a door if you will,

Not to just to free ourselves of the global struggle for oil,

and the war and loss of treasure it will bring,

But to free ourselves from carbon completely.

Our deserts can become our new energy fields.

Our cars can become multipowered micro power plants.

Our homes can put as much power into the grid as they take out.

Our cities can be CPULs (read this)

Our offices can be virtual.

We will have the opportunity to redefine work.

We will have the opportunity to reexamine the foundations

of the consciousness of division that brings us war,

poverty, and so much dis-ease.

No one should go hungry.

No one should be required to kill his brother.

No one.


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red door courtesy of Gallery Tungsten

Monday, June 26, 2006

Business as Usual

wall street crash

Jim Hanson is known as the NASA Scientist who first testified about Climate Change before Congress in the late 80s. Lately, he was the one who blew the whistle on the Bush Admistration's muzzling of climate consensus.

Here is the piece that he published in the New York Review of Books.

Hanson, like other scientists in the field, is deeply disturbed with the inability of our institutions to get a handle on the climate change issue. You should read it all, but here is my edit.

In the Earth's history, during periods when average global temperatures increased by as much as ten degrees Fahrenheit, there have been several "mass extinctions," when between 50 and 90 percent of the species on Earth disappeared forever. In each case, life survived and new species developed over hundreds of thousands of years.

The most recent of these mass extinctions defines the boundary, 55 million years ago, between the Paleocene and Eocene epochs. The evolutionary turmoil associated with that climate change gave rise to a host of modern mammals, from rodents to primates, which appear in fossil records for the first time in the early Eocene.

If human beings follow a business-as-usual course, continuing to exploit fossil fuel resources without reducing carbon emissions or capturing and sequestering them before they warm the atmosphere, the eventual effects on climate and life may be comparable to those at the time of mass extinctions.

Life will survive, but it will do so on a transformed planet.

For all foreseeable human generations, it will be a far more desolate world than the one in which civilization developed and flourished during the past several thousand years.

The greatest threat of climate change for human beings, I believe, lies in the potential destabilization of the massive ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica. As with the extinction of species, the disintegration of ice sheets is irreversible for practical purposes.

Our children, grandchildren, and many more generations will bear the consequences of choices that we make in the next few years.


In order to arrive at an effective policy we can project two different scenarios concerning climate change. In the business-as-usual scenario, annual emissions of CO2 continue to increase at the current rate for at least fifty years, as do non-CO2 warming agents including methane, ozone, and black soot.

In the alternative scenario, CO2 emissions level off this decade, slowly decline for a few decades, and by mid-century decrease rapidly, aided by new technologies.

The business-as-usual scenario yields an increase of about five degrees Fahrenheit of global warming during this century, while the alternative scenario yields an increase of less than two degrees Fahrenheit during the same period.

How much will sea level rise with five degrees of global warming? Here too, our best information comes from the Earth's history. The last time that the Earth was five degrees warmer was three million years ago, when sea level was about eighty feet higher.

Eighty feet!

In that case, the United States would lose most East Coast cities: Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, and Miami; indeed, practically the entire state of Florida would be under water. Fifty million people in the US live below that sea level.

Other places would fare worse. China would have 250 million displaced persons. Bangladesh would produce 120 million refugees, practically the entire nation. India would lose the land of 150 million people.

The business-as-usual scenario, with five degrees Fahrenheit global warming and ten degrees Fahrenheit at the ice sheets, certainly would cause the disintegration of ice sheets. The only question is when the collapse of these sheets would begin.

The business-as-usual scenario, which could lead to an eventual sea level rise of eighty feet, with twenty feet or more per century, could produce global chaos, leaving fewer resources with which to mitigate the change in climate.

The alternative scenario, with global warming under two degrees Fahrenheit, still produces a significant rise in the sea level, but its slower rate, probably less than a few feet per century, would allow time to develop strategies that would adapt to, and mitigate, the rise in the sea level.

Both the Department of Energy and some fossil fuel companies insist that continued growth of fossil fuel use and of CO2 emissions are facts that cannot be altered to any great extent. Their prophecies become self-fulfilling, with the help of government subsidies and intensive efforts by special interest groups to prevent the public from becoming well-informed.


The government appears to be strongly influenced by special interests, or otherwise confused and distracted, and it has failed to provide leadership.

The public is understandably confused or uninterested.

I used to spread the blame uniformly until, when I was about to appear on public television, the producer informed me that the program "must" also include a "contrarian" who would take issue with claims of global warming. Presenting such a view, he told me, was a common practice in commercial television as well as radio and newspapers.

As a result, even when the scientific evidence is clear, technical nit-picking by contrarians leaves the public with the false impression that there is still great scientific uncertainty about the reality and causes of climate change.

The executive and legislative branches of the US government seek excuses to justify their inaction.

The President, despite conclusive reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the National Academy of Sciences, welcomes contrary advice from Michael Crichton, a science fiction writer.

Senator James Inhofe, chairman of the Committee on Environment and Public Works, describes global warming as "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people" and has used aggressive tactics, including a lawsuit to suppress a federally funded report on climate change, to threaten and intimidate scientists.

Who will pay for the tragic effects of a warming climate?

Not the political leaders and business executives I have mentioned. If we pass the crucial point and tragedies caused by climate change begin to unfold, history will judge harshly the scientists, reporters, special interests, and politicians who failed to protect the planet.

But our children will pay the consequences.


The US cannot validly claim to be ignorant of the consequences.

When nations must abandon large parts of their land because of rising seas, what will our liability be? And will our children, as adults in the world, carry a burden of guilt, as Germans carried after World War II, however unfair inherited blame may be?


It is not too late.

The US hesitated to enter other conflicts in which the future was at stake. But enter we did, earning gratitude in the end, not condemnation. Such an outcome is still feasible in the case of global warming, but just barely.

We have at most ten years—not ten years to decide upon action, but ten years to alter fundamentally the trajectory of global greenhouse emissions.


Do we have politicians with the courage to explain to the public what is needed?

Or may it be that such people are not electable, in view of the obstacles presented by television, campaign financing, and the opposition of energy companies and other special interests?"

If such is the case,

then our institutions will indeed fail us.

And instead of "business as usual",

These Multinational Corporations and Institutions

will find themselves replaced,

With new inventions of social contract, with

New hopes,

New ideas,

New possibilities..

for the Earthfamily.


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*illustration by Farr 1927

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Three Premises

*transforming triangles
When I first started this blog,

I had perhaps three major premises.

One, was the idea that we must all begin to understand the truth

of our situation.

And that truth is that Climate Change and Resource Depletion

are real.

And they are coming to a theatre close to you soon.

Over the last 20 months or so,

I have published and created a chronologue

of the news of these two planetary forcing issues

as they have more or less moved from the minds and mouths

of the early adopters among us

to the ears and minds of those in the middle of the bell curve.

Al Gore and the InterAcademy of Sciences

are claiming more and more of that ground daily.

As for the Peak Oil meme, we hear it from Oil Men like Boone Pickens,

and even the President's best friend isn't afraid to say it like it is.

However, it's one thing to bring these memes to consciousness,

It's quite another to begin to respond and act appropriately.

Most of us haven't done that.

We haven't done it in our family planning or our business planning.

In my opinion, these issues transcend political parties and nationalism.

I cringe when I hear well meaning liberals speak of

"Energy Independence".

What wouldn't these left wing nationalists condone to accomplish this?

Some condone the present resource wars.

I cannot seriously adopt this energy position.

It flies in the face of the global climate issue and the global resource issue.

It is nationalistic folly.

The second (but equal) premise was one of a new global communion

that we now share with our advanced communication devices.

I marvel at the growth of our connectedness.

Through the blogs, through Craig's list, through You Tube, through Google,

we are being connected like never before.

If it were not for the mind shaping repetitious mantra of nationalism

through our media,

many of us might just inadvertantly forget who "they say we are",

and instead simply meld into "who and what we have become",

An Earthfamily.

Someday, and probably not too long from now,

Google or Apple or some other major internet presence

will capitalize on this, and a corpus of earthfamilies will emerge

that will provide us health, and transportation, and housing,

and advanced communication and computing.

As the mast head of earthfamilyalpha says,

"These new cybercoops or cyberstates will bring humankind

to higher levels of cooperation and understanding."

These giant coops or cyberstates will begin to replace

the giant multinational corporations that have ruled the earth

for the last 70 years or so.

These new inventions of social contract will replace them

because we will all know in the "not too distant future",

that these corporate dinosaurs

and the institutions and governments that they controlled,


They failed to respond to Climate Change

They failed to see Peak Oil.

And they failed everyone except the elite and the near elite.

The third premise is this idea that this kind of social and institutional

rollover will bring about a quickening of the human spirit.

I believe that we will truly evolve in our thinking in the next twenty years,

like no one can imagine.

We are seeing the vestiges of a truly ugly consciousness as we endure

the hate and shallowness on Fox and the other right wing media fronts.

But equally, the left and its liberalism is also showing its hollow marrow.

Humankind will learn to embrace a consciousness that is nonviolent,

that is inclusive, that embraces art and music and beauty.

Humankind will learn to make healing an art,

and our art will be healing.

Food will be free.

Water will be clear once again.

We will not use our Air as a free waste dump.

Technologically speaking,

We will be light years away from our historic big fire burning ways.

Our homes and our towns will be powered by the light of our days.

We will walk through cool forest and urban gardens,

occasionally descending into the tubes below

where we transport ourselves at mach speeds anywhere on the spaceship

in a few hours, not days.

We will fly on the electromagnetic spectrum in both craft and image.

We will respect our ship and each other.

We will know that we know

only what we know,

"That this creation is a great mystery of space and time

and it is a gift to each of us

And we will treasure it daily.

And we will walk lightly.

And we will talk

of the old days,

when war was worshiped

and the earth was almost lost.


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art courtesy of Willie Marlowe

Saturday, June 24, 2006

First Take

Earlier, I posted my first attempt at going into full media.

I have pulled the first take for now, but it is still around.

Another one is on its way.

"You Tube" is a truly remarkable thing.

For example, using the climate change tag,

I found this Blue Man Group video (watch this)

and this video on climate change.

To view "First Take II", Just click on the arrow in the window,

and then click again. and it comes up.

If you double click, it goes to "You Tube".

Earthfamilyalpha is now a video blog.

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Friday, June 23, 2006

La La Land

Our second day of strategic planning was beyond strange.

It opened with a phone call from an attendee who called

to ask "if I was even coming" and "could he read of Mice and Men".

He said that he couldn't sleep during the night thinking of the previous day

and that my thoughts reflected his in a Vulcan Mind Merge kind of way.

Unfortunately, I was on my way back to this "est" like exercise

in transcendental obfuscation.

We continued with our break out sessions,

and careful "well intentioned" guidance from our facilitator,

And then, it finally occured to me.

These so called renewable energy advocates are in a time warp.

They are in La La Land.

They talk about out-reach programs,

Even as Al Gore is out-reaching every body he can on every network,

in all the theatres, talking about their solution,

to the problem that they can't seem to get their hands around.

These La La Landers write down "that they need to build support

for clean, safe, reliable, sustainable energy supplies, "

when 75 % of almost all respondents anywhere,

say that's exactly what they want.

But these guys won't give it to them.

They talk about having no money, (the organization doesn't)

when in actuality, some of these members represent giant companies

that are planning to build perhaps 10 billion dollars in coal plants

in this upcoming last window of grandfathering that is soon to

slam shut.

When, I reminded the group that in fact,

we do have money, but we are chosing to not give it,

everyone kind of politely nodded.

When I mentioned that one of our great barriers is the denial

of climate change and resource depletion,

they all kind of nodded and agreed.

And then when I said, "no, not the public's denial",

I mean "the denial in this room",

They all kind of nodded and brushed it aside.

After our mind numbing day of goals, strategies,

barriers and action plans, the guy who called me earlier said,

"somehow I don't feel very invigorated from this meeting" ,

which is not a bad response to two fetid full days of having your

brains sucked out through every orifice we cover,

as well as the ones we generally show in public.

This is not the fox minding the hen house.

The hens themselves are in a trance in this hen house.

Meanwhile, the foxes that dress in the hen suits are amiable enough,

and they actually think of themselves as hens, (hard working hens too)

Only a few need minding.

Most are minding themselves.

They are in La La Land.

And we are in deep do do.


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*art courtesy of Jules de Oille

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Of Mice and Men

I've been in a strategic retreat all day.

We are meeting because one of the most successful renewable energy organizations in the United States finds itself in a bit of pickle.

Fifteen years ago or so, this organization made history of a sort by inviting the dark side into its membership. It was revolutionary. If renewable energy was ever going to make the kind of true progress that we need it to make in the electric sector, it will have to be adopted by those who actually make the electricity.

At one time, before deregulation, over 80% of the electric meters in Texas were served by electric utilities that had joined in and participated with this organization that advocated and promoted the use of clean renewable energy.

As time went by, the organization brought in other key groups such as environmental organizations and consumer organizations.

And it must have worked pretty well.

According to the most recent announcements, Texas has surpassed California as the leading renewable energy state. Quite an accomplishment, given the lead California had in the early 80s and the natural early adopter attitude that flowers from our left coast.

But today's talks are not about our success.

No, today's talks are about something else.

They are about not allowing this organization to oppose coal plants, which it did in the 80s and 90s, making it a force to be reckoned with.

They are about not allowing this organization to oppose the construction of future nuclear plants, because these same utilities believe that a portfolio of energy resources is essential to the well balanced electric utility.

They are about not allowing this organization to call for bold action to bring renewable energy on line as fast and efficiently as possible so that we might have a fighting chance of slowing the long slow train of climate disaster, even though we can all see its smoke on the horizon, and those who would listen, can hear that proverbial whistle blowing.

No, today's talks are about making this organization more businesslike.

We met in the fancy conference center of our host,

a special breed of water and electric utility.

We have one of those facilitators.

We draw on giant post-it sheets.

We stick them on the wall.

We break into little groups.

We may break into bigger groups tomorrow.

Perhaps the time for this organization has passed.

We don't need mousey little commitments towards saving our planet

from the scourge of our own fires,

We need bold, imaginative, totally unrealistic goals that

We must thoroughly intend to meet.

We need to meet all of our needs, from now on, without carbon,

and without poisonous rocks.

We don't need to be more businesslike.

And we shouldn't be in retreat.

And we shouldn't Lenny pet our fuzzy friends too hard.


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poster from

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

National Academies Plead

The InterAcademy Council, consisting of all the G 8 nations along with Brazil, South Africa, China and India have issued a report pleading with leaders to deal with climate change and energy.

They begin with these words.

Last year we addressed the major challenges of climate change. These challenges are predominantly related to energy systems and use. We therefore welcome the opportunity to address energy sustainability and security on the occasion of the 2006 G8 Summit — and we expect to continue our focus on these critical issues in future years.

The InterAcademy Council, established by the Academies of the world, is now engaged in an in- depth examination of this energy technology transition challenge, to be completed within a year.

Here is the conclusion of their letter.


We call on all countries of the world to cooperate in identifying common strategic priorities for sustainable and secure energy systems, and in implementing actions toward those strategic priorities.

G8 countries bear a special responsibility for the current high level of energy consumption, and should play a leading role in assuring global energy sustainability and security.

We call on world leaders, especially those meeting at the G8 Summit in July 2006, to:

Articulate the reality and urgency of global energy security concerns

Plan for the massive infrastructure investments, and lead times required for a transition to clean, affordable and sustainable energy systems

Itensify cooperation with developing countries to build their domestic capacities to use existing and innovative energy systems and technologies, including transfer of technologies

Promote by appropriate policies and economic instruments the development and implementation of cost-competitive, environmentally beneficial, and market acceptable clean fossil, nuclear, and renewable technologies

Ensure, in cooperation with industry, that technologies are developed and implemented and actions taken to protect energy infrastructures from natural disasters, technological failures, and human actions

Address the serious inadequacy of R&D funding and provide incentives to accelerate advanced energy-related R&D, also in partnership with private companies

Implement education programs to increase public understanding of energy challenges, and to provide for energy-related expertise and engineering capabilities

Focus governmental research and technology efforts on energy efficiency, non-conventional hydrocarbons and clean coal with CO2 sequestration, innovative nuclear power, distributed power systems, renewable energy sources, biomass production, biomass and gas conversion for fuels.

Eduardo Krieger - Academia Brasileira de Ciencias, Brazil
Patricia Demers - Royal Society of Canada, Canada
Yongxiang Lu - Chinese Academy of Sciences, China
Edouard Brezin - Academie des Sciences, France
Volker ter Muelen - Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina, Germany
R.A. Mashelkar - Indian National Science Academy, India
Giovanni Conso - Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Italy
Kiyoshi Kurokawa - Science Council of Japan, Japan
Yuri Osipov - Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia
Robin Crewe - Academy of Science of South Africa, South Africa
Martin Rees - Royal Society, United Kingdom
Ralph Cicerone - National Academy of Sciences, United States of America

These guys don't seem to be concerned with gay marriage

or flag burning.

They see real challenges ahead.

And I don't see the word "Terror" anywhere.

We need Real Security.

Not a police state.


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Oz Note: Today is the Solstice

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Dragon Below

"Perseus and Andromeda" by JoachimWtewael, 1611,
Musée du Louvre, Paris

I haven't had much use for "my brain is flat" Tom Freidman lately,

but, this column is worth a look I think.

Seeds for a Geo-Green party
by Thomas L. Friedman

The recent focus of the Republican-led Congress on divisive diversions, like gay marriage and flag burning, coupled with the unveiling of Unity '08, an Internet-based third party that plans to select its presidential candidate through online voting, has intensified the chatter that a third party, and maybe even a fourth, will emerge in the 2008 election.

Up to now, though, most of that talk has been about how a third party might galvanize voters, using the Web, rather than what it would actually galvanize them to do. I'd like to toss out an idea in the hopes that some enterprising politician or group of citizens — or Unity '08 — will develop it.

It's the concept I call "Geo-Green."What might a Geo-Green third party platform look like?

Its centerpiece would be a $1 a gallon gasoline tax, called "The Patriot Tax," which would be phased in over a year. People earning less than $50,000 a year, and those with unusual driving needs, would get a reduction on their payroll taxes as an offset.

The billions of dollars raised by the Patriot Tax would go first to shore up Social Security, second to subsidize clean mass transit in and between every major American city, third to reduce the deficit, and fourth to massively increase energy research by the National Science Foundation and the Energy and Defense Departments' research arms.

Most important, though, the Patriot Tax would increase the price of gasoline to a level that would ensure that many of the most promising alternatives — ethanol, biodiesel, coal gasification, solar energy, nuclear energy and wind — would all be economically competitive with oil and thereby reduce both our dependence on crude and our emissions of greenhouse gases.

In short: the Geo-Green party could claim that it has a plan for shoring up America's energy security, environmental security, economic security and Social Security with one move.


This carbon idea is also called the Lincoln Plan over at Climate Ark

The Lincoln Plan

"Climate change is a complex issue, but it can be summarized rather simply: the consensus of science is that global warming is a threat

(1); the consensus of economics is that a carbon tax would be a cost-effective remedy

(2). A carbon tax is a charge for emitting CO2, the main heat-trapping culprit.

What we propose here is a small federal charge of $5 per ton of carbon emitted as CO2, which for gasoline is about 1 cent per gallon. Since Lincoln's portrait appears on both the penny and the $5 bill, the plan goes under his name - the "Lincoln Plan".

Most of the revenue from the tax would be used to pay for measures to reduce CO2 emissions such as conserving forests, increasing energy efficiency, and adopting cleaner energy supplies.

The cost would typically be $5 or less per ton of carbon saved (3). Residual funds could be used to lower other taxes.

Using most of the tax revenue to reduce emissions would make the plan exceptionally effective and allow the tax rate to be set at the low level just indicated--a political plus. "

Now, I would like to think that the people in this geographic state,

and that those of us who consider ourselves "sailors on the spaceship"

would be able to do something to avoid the giant mountain of ice,

that is right in front of our present heading.

But, we may not.

Later this week, I'm supposed to meet with a bunch of renewable energy

folks to develop a long ranging strategy,

and let me assure you, they will not endorse a carbon tax.

They, like the poor who vote R because of gun control lies,

baby killing pandering, or plain old racist hate mongering,

will not act in their best interests.

Not because they are stupid,

but because they are hypnotyzed.

They believe the capital myth they have been fed.

They don't see what they see.

They don't hear what they hear.

They just fear.

And subconscious fear makes good folks do really weird things.

It is the dragon below.

And it will drag us all down there with it,

Until Hope and the Love of Peace

rises through the mist of our collective consciousness,

and that dark dragon of fear,

is transmuted by the

light of our being.

"St. George and the Dragon" by Sodoma,c.1518,
National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.


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Monday, June 19, 2006

Boulevards sans Bruit

As we talk about climate change and peak oil and how we can respond to it, it's important to constantly remind ourselves that many of our best solutions will actually bring us a higher quality of living. More bikes, more bike highways, more local food, commuter rail and electric trolleys, real neighborhoods, and less pollution aren't the end of the world.

Well, the end of that world maybe, but many of these changes will be good for us.

Here is a story from The Oregonian

Cyclists will have streets to call their own
"Bike boulevards"
Portland aims to develop more of the safe residential roads
Friday, June 16, 2006

"One of the best parts of Sarah Bott's day is when she reaches the end of the bike lane on North Williams Street, glides past a traffic barrier and plunges into one of Portland's "bike boulevards."

The trees are large and stately; the auto traffic is light. It sounds corny, she admits, but she can smell the flowers and hear the birds.

"That's when my bike commute turns from a grind into a joyful part of my day," says Bott, who works for the city Water Bureau.

Bike boulevards are becoming so popular that some appear to carry more bikes than cars along certain stretches and have become a central part of neighborhoods' ambience.

City officials and bike advocates are redoubling their efforts to develop more bike boulevards to attract a new wave of riders who are interested in bicycling but want to stay off busy streets.


Portland has about 30 miles of bike boulevards, where the city uses a variety of traffic-calming techniques to provide safe and attractive cycling routes along mostly residential streets.

For several years, though, bike boulevards were something of an afterthought while the city concentrated on developing an extensive network of bike lanes, now totaling 165 miles, that criss-cross much of Portland, mostly on arterial streets.

Those bike lanes helped double ridership in the past decade -- by some estimates 3 percent of all commuter trips are by bicycle -- and cemented Portland's reputation as one of the nation's best bike cities. But many cyclists said they didn't like the idea of riding on high-speed streets, separated from cars by a line of paint.

Bells and wheels

Some of the bike boulevards have become so popular that the character of the street has changed. Along the Lincoln-Harrison bike boulevard, neighbors talk about a street dominated by the sounds of swirling bike wheels, tinkling bells and brief snatches of conversations from passing riders.

"I like it because it's a community feel," says Jon Berry, who lives on Southeast Lincoln Street and often bicycles to his work at a brewery in Northwest Portland. "My wife and I often sit out in front and have a cocktail and watch the bikes go by. I guess I like looking at bikes more than cars."

Mia Birk, the city's former bike coordinator, also lives on Lincoln. "The presence of all the bicycles has a real traffic calming effect," she says. "Cars cede the right of way, the privileges they have on other streets. They go really slow."


Commissioner Sam Adams, who heads the city's Transportation Department and is the driving force behind the bike summit, says he wants to explore other ideas beyond the boulevards. He wants to look at wider bike lanes and is moving to set up a test of a separated bikeway -- common in Europe -- where riders are protected from cars.

"I'm talking about (competing with) world-class biking communities," Adams says. "My goal is to exceed their ridership."

When I returned from Amsterdam,

the one story I kept telling was of the "jam packed to the rails"

4 story Bike Parking facility next to the train station.

I suppose those of us who live in the sweltering heat of the sub-tropics,

have a hard time imagining not having a car with AC to hide in,

But watching a young mother with her groceries on the rear rack,

with her young daughter perched on the seat right in front of her,

riding in 0 degree C. weather,

makes me think that showers and lockers in the work place

will go a long way to solving those real issues.

And, if we develop road ways for bikes, and light electric scooters,

and streets that are a joy to walk and shop and chat on,

We will find that a funny thing will happen to our towns and cities,

They will become alive and vibrant and healthy.

and sans bruit.


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drawings courtesy of

Saturday, June 17, 2006

That Extra Blanket

While we were eating brunch today, we were discussing

An Inconvenient Truth.

As good as it is, (and it is good)

We agreed that the point about the biosphere being so thin,

although made, was not adequately explored.

I told the story about how in my speeches, I often ask my audience,

How much CO2 is in the air?

78%? About half the hands go up.

No, that's Nitrogen.

20%? Most of the other half goes up.

No, that's Oxygen.

1%? Only a few hands are left now.

No, that's Argon.

The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere used to be

270 parts per million.

Now, it 380, headed for 400, and then who knows?

That means we are putting enormous amounts of carbon,

into an atmosphere that is virtually free of it.

And that little tiny amount is what keeps us warm.

If 280 parts is 2 blankets.

400 parts is 3 blankets.

An extra blanket can make a big difference.

You probably don't need this, but just in case you do,

Here are two more stories that reflect

what I have reported on in the last year about feedbacks.

One is the melting permafrost.

Permafrost melt could speed up global warming
San Francisco Chronicle
June 16, 2006

Global warming might be significantly worse than expected during the next century because the melting of carbon-rich permafrost in Siberia could expel hundreds of billions of tons of extra greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, scientists warn in a new study.

Experts said they can't be certain how large the impact might be, because they can't accurately estimate how much of the extra greenhouse gases will be absorbed by plants and the oceans.

One of the more frightening possibilities is that the permafrost-caused warming could feed on itself in what one scientist called a "vicious cycle": That is, it could trigger the melting of additional ice, which would unleash more greenhouse gases and thus cause more warming, in a self-repeating cycle for no one knows how long.

The melting of Siberian permafrost that has been frozen for thousands of years could eject about 500 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere during the next century, scientists from Russia, Alaska and Florida report in today's issue of Science.

By comparison, at present the atmosphere contains about 700 billion tons of greenhouse gases.

"I'm a scientist, so we tend to be conservative in our language. But I would say this could make global warming significantly worse than expected", said E.A.G. "Ted" Schurr, a former UC Berkeley doctoral student who is one of the article's three authors.


The U.N.-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change produced an original estimate for global warming of 3 to 11 degrees Fahrenheit over the next century, Govindasamy said. He added that the new permafrost data might push the estimate much higher -- to 5 to 15 degrees.

Then, there's this story in the Toronto Star

The climate change melody in my head
A lot of carbon dioxide out there
Toronto Star
Jun. 17, 2006.


In climate change, feedback loops pose the greatest danger, because they multiply the amount of carbon dioxide CO2 and methane entering the atmosphere. To make matters more complicated, there are compensating forces at work as well.

For instance, trees breathe in CO2 and exhale oxygen, so as more CO2 becomes available, they breathe in more, grow faster and reduce CO2 levels.

Nevertheless, feedback loops will outpace the compensating forces. A prime example of feedback potential is the methane that can be released as permafrost melts in the Arctic — and there's twice as much methane in permafrost reservoirs as there is in all the world's natural gas reservoirs.


And now I come to what has been one of the most contentious issues of all: Is there a global warming feedback loop occurring in the soil?

New research conducted in England and Wales suggests there is.

Carbon is stored in soil as peat, as humus and as organic litter in the process of decomposing into humus. Soils usually contain more than twice the carbon contained in plants or the atmosphere.


The authors examined the carbon content of soils in 6,000 sites in England and Wales over the 25 years from 1978 to 2003. They found there had been a loss of carbon which, when translated into CO2 by two reviewing writers in a commentary, was equal to the entire amount by which the United Kingdom reduced emissions during the same 25-year period.

The commenting writers conclude: "These (carbon) losses completely offset the past technological achievements in reducing CO2 emissions, putting the United Kingdom's success in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in a different light."


In summary, then, trying to slow climate change is a terribly complicated undertaking, and it's not going to be achieved through the simplistic nostrums and the reliance on volunteer efforts that Canada's Prime Minister has been offering."

No, mitigating climate change is going to take real action, soon.

We will have to ban the burning of coal.

And we will have to start mining the carbon out of the atmosphere.

The good news is,

We'll use that extra blanket of carbon

to make the carbon nano power paints

that will move us from the age of fire,

to the age of light.


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Thursday, June 15, 2006

Decadent Obsessions

Today, the House of Goofballs debates the Global War on Terror.

I wonder if the debate will include this study.

Climate change a bigger security threat than terrorism,
says report
Richard Norton-Taylor
Monday June 12, 2006
The Guardian

The government's obsession with the "war on terror" is counterproductive and distracting politicians from more fundamental threats to global security, a leading UK thinktank warns today.

The most likely causes of future conflict are climate change, competition for natural resources, social and economic marginalisation and militarisation, it says.

The independent Oxford Research Group says in its report Global Responses to Global Threats that the effects of climate change - displacement of peoples, food shortages, social unrest - have long-term security implications far greater than those of terrorism, and notes that the Pentagon's office of net assessment takes the same view.

However, it adds that the response to climate change should not involve greater reliance on nuclear power because this would encourage the spread of nuclear weapons and increase the risk of terrorists getting hold of them.

Deepening global socio-economic divisions will be a serious trend, it says: "The marginalised majority is increasingly likely to support political violence against the rich minorities of the world."


The report says,

"The fundamental problem is that the security agenda is being hijacked by the 'war on terror' and related conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and, potentially, Iran. This, coupled with the continued pursuit of narrow national and economic interests, is distracting governments from the genuine threats that humanity faces, causing their responses to these threats to be wholly inadequate. Civil society and governments must engage in constructive debate and work together to redress the balance."

As dangerous as the threats of Climate Change,

and resource depletion, and increased social and economic marginalisation

and militarisation are,

There is nothing quite as dangerous,

as an elected government that is unconscious.

They are a collection of Neros.

Paraphrasing Oscar Wilde,

"I can resist everything except temptation."

We can resist everything except our own vanity.

Leaders that cannot deal with the real issues.

Should resign.

Leaders that purposely do not deal with the real issues.

Should be removed.

"America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between. " O.W.


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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

As the Romans Say

In the black is white reality of the POTUS and the PRESS,

Where a non indictment is characterized as innocence

even though the actual commission of the crime

is a matter of record,

Where the POTUS arrives in a "sovereign nation" without notifying

the leaders of that country of his plans,

until the Emperor is safely behind the walls of his Castle,

Where Reporters are kicked out without cause, (Gitmo)

It is a breath of cool clean mountain air in the crisp new day,

when you see something that makes you think that maybe,

just maybe, just maybe everyone in power is not

a nuke lobbing, gas guzzling, gun toting, demagoguery delivering,

hate throwing moron.

Here is the story.

The Club of Rome heard from a Jordanian Prince yesterday.

Jordan does not have oil.

Most of Europe does not have oil.

Club of Rome
wants deserts to become source of renewable energy
June 14, 2006

HANNOVER, Germany, June 14, 2006 (Refocus Weekly) The world’s deserts could serve as an “overabundant source of clean energy through solar thermal power plants,” according to the president of the Club of Rome.

“With the accelerating energy demands of China, India, Brazil and elsewhere, a huge demand for energy will be unleashed which simply cannot be met by gas and oil,” says Jordanian prince El Hassan bin Talal.

“Reserves of these fuels are limited, while its accessibility is threatened by social and political risks” and the risks to climate demand reduction in the use of fossil fuels.“We need a concerted effort to increase energy-efficiency, and we must move our dependency to renewable energy sources,” he said in his welcoming address to the ‘World Energy Dialogue’ in Germany.

“It is ironic that people around the world impose on themselves low-carbo-hydrate fat-free diets for their health but the environment also needs a low-carbon emissions-free diet to recuperate its supporting capacity.”

“In our part of the world, we look around us and we see deserts drenched in sunlight,” he said.

“Can the sun-belt, in tandem with the technology belt, make solar energy the fuel of our civilization and the basis for a secure, affordable and attainable energy system?”

Every day, deserts in North Africa and the Middle East / North Africa (MENA) receive 2,000 times more energy than is needed by the global population, and technologies can convert “at least 10% of solar light into useful energy such as electricity,” he explained.

“It is astounding that a desert area as small as the total area of Hamburg and Berlin would be sufficient to generate enough electricity for all of Germany; it is also reassuring that the sun-belt and the technology belt, when coupled together, can turn deserts into clean and inexhaustible powerhouses for the world.”

The U.S. Apollo space program was launched four decades ago to fulfill a dream, but “today we have a bigger dream, to restore the balance between man and his home planet, Earth,” he said.

“I challenge you to put technology (the work of man) and deserts (the work of God), to the service of mankind and nature,” and he proposed that Europe, Middle East and North Africa launch a EUMENA Apollo Desert Program.

“The export of clean and affordable power from the excellent solar fields in MENA to the huge power markets in Europe would support global climate stabilisation, the technological and economic development in MENA, and could establish an economic and political partnership for sustainability between the two regions, Europe and MENA,” he explained.

“The project also proposes desalination for MENA as a sustainable and unlimited source of fresh water to facilitate the establishment of a ‘Community of Water & Energy in the Arc of Crisis.’


“As president of the Club of Rome, I would like to say that it is with some sadness that the ‘Limits to Growth’ study produced in 1972 should be so dire in its predictions and so accurate even to the present day,” said the Jordanian prince. “In the past three decades, this sombre warning has been ignored.”

And we ignore it at our own Peril.

The Club of Rome issued a Declaration in 1996.

Here is the first part of it.

We, the members of the Club of Rome, are convinced that the future of humankind is not determined once and for all, and that it is possible to avoid present and foreseeable catastrophes—when they are the result of human selfishness or of mistakes made in managing world affairs.

It is important to emphasise the signs of hope and the progress accomplished. We must also combat the threats to humankind, and be aware that these issues of survival are becoming ever more urgent.

We believe that every human being can choose to take charge of his or her own future rather than be a victim of events. Imagination and creativity of every individual, combined with a greater sense of social responsibility, can contribute to changing our attitudes and making our societies better suited to cope with the multifaceted crises that trouble the world. We believe that the information society that is evolving, although it involves clear risks and constraints, offers considerable opportunities for building this better future.

The world is undergoing a period of unprecedented upheavals and fluctuations in its evolution into a global society for which people are not mentally prepared. As a result, their reaction is often negative, inspired by fear of the unknown and by unawareness of the global dimension of problems which seem no longer on a human scale.

These fears, if not tackled, risk driving people to dangerous extremism, sterile nationalism and major social confrontations.

(read this)

We should, as the saying almost goes,

Do as the Romans Say.

and forget about our silly Emperor.


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