Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Vote: No Bailout For The Auto Industry. Unless. . .

Ok, so first we've thrown hundreds of billions of dollars haphazardly at banks, much of which they've already hoarded, squandered, and rearranged, rather than taking a few weeks for our government to carefully draft an educated and well-thought out plan to mediate the value to loan ratio problem, devalue existing loans to help foreclosing homeowners restructure debt, and tightly regulate the use of said taxpayer dollars to avoid the current system of lining the pockets of the greedy lenders and traders who were gambling away everyone's debt and 401k money.

Now we're talking about bailing out three companies, who no matter how "Downhome American" and "Heartlandy" they are, have spent the last half century manipulating the American public through engineered obsolescence and ruthless marketing campaigns to sell the biggest and least efficient vehicles, partnered with oil companies to actively fight emissions standards and efficiency requirements, have purposefully withheld technology that would improve mileage and save fuel, have killed California's zero-emission legislation through legal actions, failed to have any concern whatsoever for the growing climate change and peak oil crises, and have allowed their own greed and obliviousness, purposeful or not, to lead to their own downfall.

The ONLY way we should give any money to the U.S. Auto industry is if they are required to use these funds to completely revamp their lines to include only vehicles that are electric, are compatible with modern biofuels, or use some other type of renewable and low or no emissions fuel. They must also begin large initiatives to convert existing vehicles to run on one of these fuels. The beauty is, that this is in reality a fairly easy proposal: Most modern gasoline engines can be easily modified to run E85 or natural gas, every diesel can run on 100% biodiesel (it's just not covered by warranty) and can easily be modified to run on vegetable oil. Pretty much any vehicle chassis can be easily converted to run on electricity, using standard golf cart batteries to go more than 40 miles to a charge at highway speeds, more than enough for the vast majority of daily drivers. With minimal training and barely adequate electrical skills, I've even been thinking about building one in my garage. The "Big Three" have much smarter people than I with much more mechanical knowledge,and they have much, much. . . MUCH bigger garages.

For that matter, I can think of quite a few things we can do as well with that 813 billion (in tax breaks and funds) Congress has already authorized to bail out Wall Street. How about we pay our craftsmen and builders to learn about energy efficient and eco-friendly building techniques? Why don't we start a national solar loan program that gives anyone who wishes a low interest loan to get solar water heating and photovoltaic panels? Why don't we reteach and train those losing their jobs how to grow food, how to farm energy, how to retrofit homes for efficiency, and other skills? Why don't we help towns and cities rebuild their energy infrastructures to make clean power, ethanol, and biodiesel from waste streams and utilize resources efficiently?

We need to use this money wisely in a well-designed renewable energy "New Deal" for our country to build a sustainable infrastructure for a future of economic prosperity, food security, and clean energy.

reference: bbc news article

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Obama Understands Our Environmental Problem: "We can't solve global warming because I f---ing changed light bulbs in my house."

Newsweek picked up this off-the-record comment by Senator Obama prior to the debates:

"I don't consider this to be a good format for me, which makes me more cautious. I often find myself trapped by the questions and thinking to myself, 'You know, this is a stupid question, but let me … answer it.' So when Brian Williams is asking me about what's a personal thing that you've done [that's green], and I say, you know, 'Well, I planted a bunch of trees.' And he says, 'I'm talking about personal.' What I'm thinking in my head is, 'Well, the truth is, Brian, we can't solve global warming because I f---ing changed light bulbs in my house. It's because of something collective'."

The beauty of this unscripted, honest response to climate change is that it demonstrates that Barack Obama isn't just about the superficial, pop-media responses to the crisis, he has a deeper understanding of the work we have in front of us. He realizes that this isn't something that a few token efforts will solve, it will require sweeping changes in how we live, how we utilize energy and our resources, and massive changes in our fuel and energy infrastructure. He knows that it's not about the effing light bulbs.


Sunday, November 09, 2008

Finally, a Time for Change

We've done it! Elected a man whom we hope has the integrity, the intelligence, and the vision that he's shown us in this election race. If you haven't watched his acceptance speech yet, it is truly inspiring and makes me, for the first time in years, proud to be an American, with hope that we can once again live up to the ideals that we were founded upon - freedom and justice (and sustainability) for all.

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