Greg Prince's Blog

Musings and pontifications from a reality based progressive

Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

No, you really don’t need to drive everywhere

Posted by Greg on August 25, 2010

Matt Yglesias laments the traffic and high cost of “free” parking in Acadia National Park.

Frankly, there is a better way. At some parks your admission fee includes passage on shuttle buses which provide a convenient alternative to driving your own car in the park and having to park it.

At Zion personal cars are prohibited unless you have a reservation to stay at the in-park lodge. At Bryce Canyon cars are discouraged due to parking constraints, and most people choose to take the bus.

The chaos is not part of the fun. These parks have millions of visitors and that many cars adds noise and pollution. Acadia might not be as heavily visited, but the same principles would apply.

Posted in Environment | Leave a Comment »

KY-Sen: Paul says mountain-top mining “enhances” land

Posted by Greg on July 30, 2010

KY-Sen: Paul says mountain-top mining “enhances” land.

That’s not a definition of “enhance” that’s intuitive to me, but I’m not a Kentucky libertaridork.

Posted in Election 2010, Environment | Leave a Comment »

Our last hope

Posted by Greg on June 11, 2010

And it isn’t Obi Wan.

But it might as well be.  Thanks Punditkitchen.

Posted in Environment, Humor | Leave a Comment »

Speaking of new rules…

Posted by Greg on June 6, 2010

Another advocate that we stop pretending there are two sides to every issue.

Read Bill Maher’s commentary on it here.

That’s the problem with our obsession with always seeing two sides of every issue equally — especially when one side has a lot of money. It means we have to pretend there are always two truths, and the side that doesn’t know anything has something to say. On this side of the debate: Every scientist in the world. On the other: Mr. Potato Head.

There is no debate here — just scientists vs. non-scientists, and since the topic is science, the non-scientists don’t get a vote. We shouldn’t decide everything by polling the masses. Just because most people believe something doesn’t make it true. This is the fallacy called argumentum ad numeram: the idea that something is true because great numbers believe it. As in: Eat shit, 20 trillion flies can’t be wrong.

Posted in Environment, Media, Science | Leave a Comment »

Whatever Happened to the Ozone Hole?

Posted by Greg on May 5, 2010

Whatever Happened to the Ozone Hole?.

Fascinating study showing that human efforts can and do make a difference.

Posted in Environment, Science | Leave a Comment »

No clue how bad it’s going to get

Posted by Greg on May 5, 2010

A sad but enlightening piece at HuffPo that sheds some light on the BP disaster, and highlights that optimistic rhetoric coming forth from government and industry officials notwithstanding, the harsh reality is we have no clue when, if ever, the spill will be plugged, and therefore no clue how bad the environmental damage will be.  This has potential to be a catastrophic event with impact worldwide.

The Ixtoc disaster, however, is spit in the ocean compared to the British Petroleum apocalypse. Estimates are the current blowout is putting 200,000 gallons or 5000 barrels of crude per day into the waters of the Gulf. Ixtoc’s blowout was not capped until two relief wells were drilled and completed at the end of those nine months, and regardless of optimistic scenarios from the federal government or BP, relieving the pressure on the current flow is probably the only way to stop the polluting release of oil. The only way to relieve that pressure is with additional wells. No one is going to honestly say how much time is needed to drill such wells but consider the scope of environmental damage we are confronting if it requires at least as long as Ixtoc. Nine months of 5000 barrels of crude per day ought to turn the Gulf of Mexico into a lifeless spill pond and set toxins on currents that will carry them to deadly business around the globe.

NOAA apparently believes the situation is on the verge of getting worse. A leaked memo suggests that the tangle of pipes on the ocean floor are covering and constraining two other release points. Pressure is likely to blow those loose and, according to NOAA, the gusher will increase by “orders of magnitude.” In most interpretations, that phrase means a ten-fold rise in the flow, which will replicate the Ixtoc disaster in three days.

It’s not really been discussed enough, but this deep sea drilling is bleeding edge stuff, not the slam dunk that has been sold to the public, and the US regulatory apparatus simply isn’t up to the task of providing adequate oversight and demanding adequate safeguards.

Mr. Obama, can we PLEASE start moving on a sane, defensible, forward thinking energy policy?

Posted in Business, Energy, Environment | Leave a Comment »

Sometimes “wow” just isn’t enough

Posted by Greg on May 3, 2010

Thanks to Americablog, check out these photos of the Gulf oil rig exploding then sinking.  Stunning.

Posted in Environment | Leave a Comment »

A new appreciation

Posted by Greg on April 27, 2010

In the late eighties while in Milan I had the opportunity to go through an exhibit of photographs from Chernobyl – the meltdown was still raw, the human cost untallied, and the images were shocking and graphic.

Growing up in southern Utah I was always aware of the damage possible, that comes with the territory of being a downwinder, which is to say a person or descendant of people exposed to the radioactive fallout from the open air nuclear tests during the fifties and sixties.

Seeing the results of a real meltdown puts things into a different perspective.  The Independent has a photo sideshow showing Chernobyl 24 years later.  Very different images than the ones I saw over 20 years ago, but just as tragic and in a way just as disturbing.  The damage to human life will go on for generations.

Despite it all, I’m not anti nuclear per se – we have energy needs, and nuclear energy is used worldwide to provide power without the fossil fuel pollution we take for granted in so much of the US.  But safety protocols exist for a reason, and you can’t cheat them long term without mother nature coming back for payment.  And we in the US need to get a better handle on dealing with spent fuel.  Europe recycles.  So should we.

Posted in Environment, International | Leave a Comment »

E tu Colorado?

Posted by Greg on August 22, 2008

Did John McCain really suggest the Colorado River Compact, which dates to 1922, be opened for renegotiation?

What WAS he smoking?

Red Green and Blue calls it right:

No matter which way you slice it, this has the potential to be a big political gaff. The sensitivity of the water issue is such that it can often overwhelm partisan allegiances. Across the American West there’s an old saying that goes, “Whiskey’s for drinkin’ and water’s for fightin’” Sen. McCain should have known better. Water in the Colorado Basin is not something that one tosses around with such disregard for its importance to upper basin users. A point that will certainly be hammered home next week in Denver at the Democratic National Convention.

Posted in Election 2008, Environment | Leave a Comment »

Obama on Yucca

Posted by Greg on August 9, 2008

This kind of ad matters out west.  And it’s not good for McCain.

Posted in Election 2008, Environment | Leave a Comment »

The reality of eating local

Posted by Greg on June 9, 2008

A new study at Carnagie Mellon raises questions about the “energy” impact of eating locally: Ezra Klein summarizes:

The line, then, is that the prudent environmentalist will eat local in order to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions. Intuitively, that makes a lot of sense. Bananas shipped from Brazil can’t be good for the environment. But two Carnegie Mellon researchers recently broke down the carbon footprint of foods, and their findings were a bit surprising. 83 percent of emissions came from the growth and production of the food itself. Only 11 percent came from transportation, and even then, only 4 percent came from the transportation between grower and seller (which is the part that eating local helps cut). Additionally, food shipped from far off may be better for the environment than food shipped within the country — ocean travel is much more efficient than trucking.

As Brad Plumer writes, the striking takeaway is that “on average, replacing just 21 percent of the red meat in the ‘typical’ diet with fish or chicken does as much, emissions-wise, as buying everything in that same diet locally.” That’s not, of course, an argument against eating locally. Taste, farming practices, sustainability, and much else point towards local consumption. But buying locally raised meats doesn’t get you off the environmental hook. If you’re worried about global warming, changing what you eat is far more important than monitoring where it’s produced.

Posted in Economics, Energy, Environment | 1 Comment »

Cause and effect

Posted by Greg on May 5, 2008

Great piece at Coyote Blog on the relationship of climate and industry to per capita energy consumption by state.

Posted in Economics, Environment | Leave a Comment »

Only getting half of it

Posted by Greg on April 24, 2008

Michael at Balloon Juice talks about ANWR and why it won’t help reduce gas prices.

He’s right, it won’t make a large dent in the worldwide oil prices, but the larger issue is domestic production and reduced reliance on Middle Eastern sources, particularly in a strategic sense.

Posted in Economics, Energy, Environment | Leave a Comment »

Hot and cold running glaciers

Posted by Greg on April 24, 2008

Curious.  I do remember the seventies…

Posted in Environment | Leave a Comment »

Temperature variations

Posted by Greg on July 5, 2007

Interesting stuff at National Geographic:

Earth’s polar temperature has swung wildly—by as much as 15 degrees Celsius (59 degrees Fahrenheit)—over the last 800,000 years, an Antarctic ice core has revealed.

Posted in Environment, Science | Leave a Comment »