Saturday, September 06, 2008
Between Denial and Despair
My Faithful Reader wrote:
"I don't know if you have been watching the political coverage of the conventions...but I was wondering if you might take to your blog and give us your faithful readers your perspective?"
Oh dear oh dear. How can I remain zen-like with such a challenge? (Hint: It ain't gonna happen.) I admit I watched parts of the Democratic Convention, but there's was not enough Gravol in BC to induce me to watch the Republican Convention.
John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin as Vice-Presidential Candidate was so cynical it is absolutely mind-boggling. Gender aside, this is a person with NO national political experience and not a clue about foreign policy. Her only "qualifications" are:
1) She is a adamantly opposed to abortion under any circumstance unless the woman's life is in immediate danger. The 12-year-old rape or incest victim is shi* out of luck.
2) She is a long-time member of the National Rifle Association, who has enormous political power in the US, and
3) She's eager to move drilling rigs into one of the world's most pristine and fragile ecosystems, Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
These three positions attract some powerful political allies. And probably the best part is, that like "W", she would have to rely entirely on "advisors". I see political marionette written in big red letters across this woman's forehead.
With nine percent of Americans currently in the process of losing their homes, jobless rates soaring, young Americans and Canadians dying on Middle Eastern battlefields in appalling numbers, 45% of Americans without health care insurance and energy prices at an all time high it seems to me that it's time for a new direction in Washington. In fact it's time for a new direction in almost every government in the world.
We need to return to local economies for food, building materials, and many kinds of manufactured goods. I see logging trucks go by, one hauls logs north, 30 seconds later one goes by headed south. Both trucks are probably hauling logs to the coast, where they will be shipped to China to be milled and then shipped back to BC at an astronomical cost, both to the consumer and to the environment.
We have the technology to have business meetings and medical conferences without ever leaving our offices, and if nothing else has convinced us to use it, the price of a ticket to Cleveland may.
Barack Obama is moving in the right direction when he says it's time to invest BILLIONS of dollars in renewable, green energy. He proposes to create five million new jobs by investing $150 billion over the next ten years to encourage private efforts to produce clean energy. His goals are commendable but too modest.
And since Stephen Harper is going to dissolve Parliament and call an election here at home within the next day or two, I was looking at the Conservative Party of Canada's "Green Plan" today, the goal of which is to "reduce Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions 20% by 2020 and cut air pollution in half by 2015." You know, with 34 million people in this country it's pathetic that Stephen Harper is the best leader we can come up with. I won't even mention the sad leaders of the other parties, fine people all of them but between them they couldn't get up enough spark to couldn't light dry tinder.
Sweden has only nine million people, but they must be of stellar quality, because they certainly appear to have better leadership than countries many times their size. Their goal is to be powered by 100% pollution and nuclear -free renewable energy by 2020. That's 12 years from now. The Western Harbor Development in the Swedish city of Malmo has already accomplished this goal.
Let's go back a bit. The economy has done a major nose-dive in the past year. If we back track carefully we come to an inescapable conclusion. We have hit the energy wall, and the real costs of our lifestyles are becoming painfully apparent not only in economic but in environmental terms. Meanwhile, we sit, as Al Gore said, "Between denial and despair." How the hell are we going to get out of this mess we've made? It's not going to be by casting a vote for a politician who has the lofty goal of reducing emissions 20% by 2020.
Our buildings gobble energy and produce 50% of carbon emissions. Yet we are still building houses as if we lived in the 19th century. Worse, building codes force us to build homes which waste energy and water and dump our pollutants into our water supplies.
From this day forward EVERY new building built should meet an environmental standard which includes building with locally available materials. Existing homes should be upgraded to a new environmental standard as much as is practical.
Homes should be heavily insulated and oriented to take the best advantage of sunlight. EVERY new building should utilize some form of composting toilet and include a grey-water recycling system. In Sweden it's been illegal to install a water-flush toilet for years. Not only do toilets waste water which has been treated at great expense, they carry chemicals and excreted medications into the eco-system. The fertility rate of young men has dropped by 50% since 1930, and it's believed that one major factor is estrogen and estrogen-like compounds in the water we drink.
EVERY new building should have a combination of solar and wind power to generate its own electricity. New vertical axis wind turbines which begin to produce power at wind speeds of five miles per hour will soon make wind power available to almost any homeowner, and certainly to developers.
EVERY new building should be heated and cooled with a geothermal system. Geothermal systems are the worlds most advanced and most cost-efficient heating, ventilating and air-conditioning systems.
This applies to plants and factories as well. Clean up your industry or fire the CEO who can't make it happen and find someone who can.
Environmental stewardship extends into almost every decision we make, in every dollar we spend, in every bag of garbage we produce, and even at the ballot box. Politicians need to be told, repeatedly, that we expect real leadership of them, and if they are not prepared to offer it, we may advertise in a Stockholm newspaper for leaders who will.