The Friends of California Libre...

31 August 2007

Cold...Cold...Warm...Warmer...Hot...Hot...You're on Fire

Greetings, friends,
Two years ago I was in a dark room full of Spaniards, watching a satellite loop on the Internet, as the eye of Hurricane Katrina turned towards New Orleans from the Gulf of Mexico.  I asked if they had ever been to that fine old Spanish city, and when they said no, I replied, "Too bad."  Although I'll never regret the Mardi Gras I went to the following spring, the first after the hurricane, I'm glad I had a chance to visit the city intact in 2000.  Because I'll tell you, the neglect of that city since is downright criminal...if we truly were living in a totalitarian Amerika, somebody in a high office would have been executed by now.  Instead we just get to rehash the incompetence over and over, year after year.  You gotta love our Fed.
Reckless Abandonment
By Douglas Brinkley
The Washington Post

It's been two years and with another hurricane season upon us, the levees around New Orleans are yet to be completed.  Call it racist or call it incompetent, but wonder what happens when the next great earthquake hits California, or when the ocean begins to rise and threatens all our coastal cities.  Then New Orleans, as many people expected, will merely be the first in a long string of disasters.

Sorry, but it's also proof that the South will never rise again (thanks, Geri):

My Spanish friends just flamencoed back home to take care of their own national emergencies:
Cheeky Spanish exhibit to reveal hidden assets

That reminds me, does anyone know of a market in LA that has Costa Rican products?  I'm looking for tasty Lizano, a kind of bottled onion/garlic/chile sauce that my sister brought back.  The company is online and distributes out of Denver, so I'm sure somewhere in LA I can find it.

Okay, that slightly vented, I'd like to wish a happy birthday to the formerly sleazy Hotel Chelsea in Manhattan, which I hope will never be underwater.  Sometimes I wonder if I'll ever find myself back in New York City, but you gotta have faith.  I mean, you mean the nicest damn people in New York:
Police: NY robber refuses $10, takes $4

Well, not always:
Helmsley leaves $12 million for her dog

Other than losing Leona Helmsley, I'm very sorry to tell you that two of America's greatest inventions also did not survive the Summer of 2007, and that would be Wonder Bread and the print edition of the Weekly World News. I can't remember ever eating Wonder Bread, but I actually subscribed to the Weekly World News for a short time and thought it was the most creative thing going in US through the 1990s.  Yeah, it was kind of a dry spell.

You might also want to get your Michael Vick trading cards while you have the chance:
Chewed up Vick cards sell for $7,400

So, you can see I'm having a very strange summer.  Most of the time I'm locked up in my broiling apartment, falling asleep at 10 and waking up (annoyed) at 4 AM.  YouTube and my busywork keep me occupied.  I even missed the lunar eclipse but not the weirdness that came with it.  I keep getting fed conspiracy videos from Miles and Geri, for example; here's a nice one that those of you with broadband might enjoy.  The first third is rather educational, but as I've warned them, the rest is a mishmash of crap:

I'd rather watch this over and over:

And though I personally like it, this conspiracy theory about Princess Diana, who blew out her candle in the wind 10 years ago, is one of the wackiest I've heard in years (thanks, Geri):

Ten years since our fairy Princess went back to fairyland, you say?  Ten years since I staggered through the Halloween party on Santa Monica Boulevard, covered in fake blood with a steering wheel around my neck, yelling "I'm sorry, Princess!" in a French accent?  That's right.  And if that doesn't make you feel old, even some of the young kids reading the screed might recoil when they read...yes, once again...the Beloit College "mindset" list for the freshman class of 2011:

Anyway, just to ease the pain, if you didn't think that the Eighties were back, I double dare you to watch this:

I'm so glad I outlived so many friends and heroes just to relive the first moment I saw a really awful hair band.  Ohmigawd, the Eighties are back and you're all out of coke!  Seriously though, I swear this is a popular band and, if you look below the video, giddy young Mexican kids do covers of this song that should make us old people feel beyond jaded...I'd say downright unconscious.

If you think it sucks having to relive the Eighties, I'd counter that it might suck even worse to have peaked during the Eighties:

TomKat refused entry to St. Tropez nightclub

"London, Aug. 8 : One of the most famous Hollywood couples, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, seem to have a very little popularity in the French Riviera, for they were recently turned away from a St. Tropez nightclub in front of dozens of onlookers."

Sigh, that said, I feel a screed coming on.  Why worry about the past or complain about the present, friends, when we have such a promising future?
Early 2007 Saw Record-Breaking Extreme Weather: UN
By Laura MacInnis
Warming Lull, Then New Records, Model Predicts

Oh, I'm sorry.  Is that me being sarcastic?  Don't worry about it, unless you live on the East Coast...
Study Paints Dire Picture of Warmer Northeast
By Anthony DePalma
The New York Times
Water Levels in Three Great Lakes Dip Far Below Normal
By Felicity Barringer
The New York Times
Drought Saps the Southeast and Its Farmers
By Adam Nossiter
The New York Times

Err...or around the Mediterranean...
Warnings Sounded as Mediterranean Melts in Heat
The New Zealand Herald
Why Is Greece on Fire?
By Nicole Itano
The Christian Science Monitor

By the way, I've gotten a few e-mails about the "crazy arsonists" in Greece.  If you read the article above, you'll find that in Greece, where there is very little protection for forests or other zoning control, people routinely light fires to farm an area or build a structure, as they do in Brasil.  You just might want to wait until winter!  A real disaster.

Fire is also becoming more dangerous because of all the scrub grass...and this is directly related to yet another gas we're releasing into the atmosphere:
Nitrogen Overdose
By Suzanne Bohan
Inside Bay Area

We learned this the hard way here during the fires in Joshua Tree and Yucca Valley last year.  Ordinarily the Joshua trees themselves don't burn...the short saltbush and other desert plants can't support a hot fire.  But will all the nitrate pollution drifting in from LA exhaust pipes, the empty desert between the Joshua trees is full of weeds and invasive grasses...and in a fire, they burn well, torching many of the Joshua trees as a consequence.  By altering the natural fire cycle, whether by suppressing fire or adding fertilizer until it becomes explosive, we're looking at a real "scorched earth" policy.

At least some people are getting off on it; if any of my junky friends are still alive, they'll enjoy this news:
Afghan Opium Crop Hits Record
By David Rohde
The New York Times

Other plants may prosper as well:
Frankenforests: GE Trees Threaten Ecosystem Collapse
By Dara Colwell

The pollution here in LA is much admittedly better than it was in the 1970s and early 1980s...there's no nostalgia for those white-outs.  But we've still got a long way to go:
Smog May Speed Up Global Warming
Agence France-Presse

Here's the next country to feel the pain, and it ain't Bangladesh this time:
England Under Water: Scientists Confirm Global Warming Link to Increased Rain
By Michael McCarthy
The Independent UK
A 21st Century Catastrophe
By Michael McCarthy
The Independent UK

The signs are contradictory, but not for long; in some places too much water, in others it disappears:
Islands Emerge As Arctic Ice Shrinks to Record Low
By Alister Doyle

The result of a newly ice-free Arctic is even more cynical than I would have imagined...everyone wants a piece of it, the US, the Canadians, the Danes and the Russians:
White House Sees Black Gold in Melting Sea Ice
By Barbara Slavin
USA Today
Alaska Oil Sparks Study of Right Whales
The Associated Press
Canada Flexes Its Muscles in Scramble for the Arctic
By Ed Pilkington
The Guardian UK

You might remember a few weeks back, the US and Canada were mocking the Russians for planting an underwater flag on the Lomonosov Ridge, an extension of the Siberian continental shelf.  The reason we were mocking them, folks, is because they have a pretty good claim, as you can see in this map.

Maybe some rich bastards, instead of the Moon, are planning on colonizing the Arctic once global warming really gets going.  Canada will have access to thousands of miles of beachfront, and Alaska will have a land boom.  Of course, everything within a thousand miles of the equator will be uninhabitable, but who cares about those people anyway?

Here's a wild idea that will never get off the ground, or the ice floe:
The Arctic for Everyone
Le Monde | Editorial

The only country that seem unenthusiastic, surprisingly, is the country that has much to gain.  I'd think a country that refuses to abide by whaling treaties wouldn't hesitate to drill for oil in their part of the Arctic (and they have the best claim of all):
Norway Debates the Promise, Costs of New Drilling
By Juliet Eilperin
The Washington Post

The Norwegians are not even part of the EU, and yet they seem worried about the effects of their economy on their neighbors to the south.  Perhaps they understand that, in not too many decades, oil will mean nothing and they'll need those friends:
Entering the Tough Oil Era
By Michael T. Klare
Energy Watchdog Warns of Supply Crunch Within Five Years
By James Moore
The Independent UK

And expect the price of oil to skyrocket long before we run dry:
Suit: Oil Giants Fixed Prices for 23,000 Gas Station Owners
The Associated Press

That's right, the easy days are over.  The oil companies know better than anyone that the first 1/2 of the oil, the "gushers", are gone.  The second 1/2 is deep underground or under the ocean.  And our viable alternatives aren't so viable:
Forget Biofuels - Burn Oil and Plant Forests Instead
By Catherine Brahic

Meanwhile, there may be real estate at the other pole too:
Sea Levels May Rise By Nine Inches This Century
By Steve Connor
The Independent UK
Interview - Sea Rise Seen Outpacing Forecasts Due to Antarctica
By Alister Doyle
Water World: Slipping Toward Climate Catastrophe
By George Monbiot

But wear lots of sunscreen:
Antarctic Ozone Hole Appears Early, Growing

And don't eat the penguins:
Scientists Issue Warning About Chemical in Plastic
By Marla Cone
The Los Angeles Times

This future ocean, larger and deeper, may not be as rich in life, however:
Coral Reefs Dying Faster Than Expected
The Associated Press
Group Says Sharks Face Extinction Due to Soup
Extinct: The Dolphin That Could Not Live Alongside Man
By Jeremy Laurance
The Independent UK

Indeed, the dolphin story is shocking; if you believe that these creatures are as sentient as we are, we've just managed the first complete genocide of the 21st century.  It's amazing that dolphins, who are certainly intelligent enough to understand who is catching them in nets and polluting their sound-world with noise, are still curious about us.  I didn't see this PBS documentary about the trade in captive cetaceans, but if you go to bottom of this page, you'll read how "Flipper" committed suicide; gruesome (thanks, I think, Robert):

This news is likewise depressing; these amazing turtles routinely commute from Mexico and South America to Japan and Indonesia...a swim across the largest ocean that takes them a year:
Sea Turtles - Iconic but Going Extinct
By Shalendra Singh
Inter Press Service

Here is one small victory for our local sealife:
Judge Bans Navy From Using Sonar off Southern California
By Kenneth R. Weiss
The Los Angeles Times

I mean, especially here in Hollywood, we've got to take care of the environment, because you never know how useful these creatures might be to us:

Paltrow uses snake venom cream on her face

"New York, Aug 8 (IANS) Hollywood actress Gwyneth Paltrow maintains her youthful look by smearing a snake venom cream on her face."

So what next?  Some solutions that seem crazy here in the US are starting to attract adherants in the Old World.  I predict savage terrorism that will make Earth First or the Animal Liberation Front look amateur.  Take these people in England, for example:
Inside Heathrow's Protest Camp: A Battle to Save the World
By Johann Hari
The Independent UK
Climate Change Demonstrations Spread to Two More Airports
By Jerome Taylor
The Independent UK

They were mocked by Fox and even CNN because they insist that jet travel is not sustainable.  They're right, folks.  As I've noted before, you can replace cars and boats, and even small propeller planes.  But you can't replace jets with any other fuel.  There are experiments, but I doubt that the big engines we're used to will be replaced.  We'll see planes get smaller, I predict, and crossing the Atlantic by ship might come back in fashion.  It takes a lot of energy to put a 747 in the air.

Around the world, there is hope:
Climate Deal Talks Gain Global Support
By Edith M. Lederer
The Associated Press
"Momentum Building" for New Climate Deal - UN
By Alister Doyle

We rarely get a "sign", but the recent earthquake in Japan was a warning that some alternatives are worse that the problems we have now:
Accidents Dim Hopes for Green Nuclear Option
By Brad Knickerbocker
The Christian Science Monitor
Japan's Quake Sends Tremors Across Nuclear Industry
By Barbara Lewis and Peter Dinkloh
A Warming World: No to Nukes
The Los Angeles Times | Editorial

Of course, the American plan is completely contrary to good sense:
Energy Bill Aids the Expansion Plans of Atomic Power Plants
By Edmund L. Andrews and Matthew L. Wald
The New York Times

That's because we can just drop our problems on somebody else:
Australia Could Become US Nuclear Waste Dump
By David Mark
ABC News

Although I doubt the Australians, wild as they are, will fail to see this one coming:
Drunk politician in strip club "normal bloke", say Aussies

Yes, folks, it's wake up time everywhere.  The Brasilians, who are heavily dependent on ethanol, see the error of their ways:
Brazil, Alarmed, Reconsiders Policy on Climate Change
By Larry Rohter
The New York Times

The Chinese, who are trying to build a modern economy, see their own role in the disaster:
China Blames Climate Change for Extreme Weather
By Ben Blanchard

We Californians have much to lose, and we've been promoting good ecology since John Muir:
California Air Regulators Weigh Sweeping Diesel-Emission Rules
The Associated Press

Especially if there's lots of money in it!
Eco-Millionaires See Boom Times Ahead
By Gerard Wynn

West Goes Wild in Battle Over Greenhouse Gas Emissions
By Matthew Yi
The San Francisco Chronicle

Our friends in New York are considering some desperate measures to keep their city from going underwater; the most recent would have you pay just to enter Manhattan (like you don't pay once you get there!)
Commission Will Give NYC Congestion Pricing Plan a Second Look
By Michael Gormley
The Associated Press

And if any state has the most to lose, it's Florida, where most of the state could sink into the Atlantic:
Florida to Introduce Tough Greenhouse Gas Targets
By Jim Loney

The average elevation of Florida is only 30 meters, folks...the only state in greater peril is tiny Delaware, a swampy place that averages only 20 meters in elevation.

This means nothing to the Fed.  Some members of the US government have gone out of their way to screw my state:
Cheney Suppressed Evidence in California Energy Crisis
By Jason Leopold
t r u t h o u t | Investigative Report
Feds Unaware of Cheney Role
By David Whitney
The Sacramento Bee

Not that we're not great at screwing ourselves:
Powerful Farmers Negotiate Deal for Billions of Gallons of Water in Parched California
By Garance Burke
The Associated Press

But they're very worried about global warming in Washington DC.  The easiest way to ease worry is with money:
US Offers Way to Atone for Carbon Guilt
By Claudia Lauer
The Los Angeles Times

And, admittedly, they are getting some forward motion:
House Approves Clean-Energy Legislation
By Noam N. Levey and Richard Simon
The Los Angeles Times
Progress in Washington: House Passes Solar Tax Credits & RPS
By Chris Stimpson

Two steps forward, one step back:
Congress Stymied on Global Warming Bills
By Frank Davies
The San Jose Mercury News

It really shouldn't surprise you to know that easiest answer is intense personal, to change the way that each of us lives our life.  I realized this when I started recycling and dumped one bag of garbage a month, and then again when I switched out all my incandescent bulbs, replaced them with fluorescents, and watched my utility bill fall to $25 a month.  It's real, friends, and the answer is hanging in front of us; the 40 million people in California should be a model for this solution, lest we bake every summer, lose our beautiful forests and beaches, our fab wineries, etc. etc.:
Energy Efficiency Easiest Path to Aid Climate
By Alister Doyle

No jokes to finish up, but one last bit of bright light at the end of the tunnel; in working through our problems, we may create a truly stable world for the first time in thousands of years:
Understanding the Demographic Transition
By Sharon Astyk
Casaubon's Book

Vive le screed!

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