Friday, December 12, 2008

Thank you, Bonnie Raitt.

Here's a link to a piece by Bonnie Raitt, that I responded to:

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Our back yard

Why does global warming matter?
Anyone like my oldest nephew, who is “crazy” enough to race his dogsled team 1,000 miles across Alaska’s wilderness, can tell you. Ice in the polar regions that has moderated our global climate for millennia is melting, fast, but we will lose more than ice and polar bears.
The melting of polar ice will come to places like Allegany County, New York, too. One town here claims to be the Republican Party’s earliest birthplace, while another contains America’s earliest truly coeducational school, and the region’s oldest museum. Inhabitants invented the automotive universal joint, and performed the first successful instrumental insemination of honeybees.
Allegany County was logged and settled in the 19th century, and has remained mostly rural since then. This is a place where people get to know each other, and where neighbors look after each other.
Our family has lived in this county since 1827, when they traveled part of the way from Rhode Island on the Erie Canal. They came on by horseback and wagon, after they found the canal frozen, near Syracuse. Our great-great-grandmother wrote of those “pioneer” times, including her arms-length encounter with a bear as a young girl.
Other ancestors founded farms, producing food and goods for several communities and enough excess to send their children to Alfred University and even establish scholarship funds for others.
When the melting of polar ice results in the flooding of coastal urban areas, this region will be flooded with “refugees”, and they will bring their ways with them. Here in our two-college town, we already know what that can mean: binge drinking, loud cars, littering, careless drivers and hunters endangering our pets, homes and lives, and all-terrain vehicles trespassing with reckless abandon.
Plenty of other problems already threaten places like our small perched wetland, here on a hill at a place we call “Would Knot”. We have seen Painted Trillium, Ladyslippers, Dwarf Ginseng and other threatened plant species in its interior. These are often (if not always) nibbled off before they are able to produce seed, by White-tailed Deer. In our ancestors’ time, they killed the wolves and cougars without thought of any negative consequence, but their “vermin” would help to control the deer which now ravage nearly every plant in sight.
We have already lost the American Chestnut and Elm to pests imported from other continents, and most American Beech trees are infected and dying. Canadian Hemlock, and Sugar Maples, from which our ancestors made 500 pounds of sugar per year, in “pioneer days” may be next. None of them can move away from pests, but now an even larger, more insidious threat looms: Plants, and many animals, cannot readily move away from a climate that is no longer hospitable.
Right here in our back yard, I have seen Least Weasels (ermine) and Fisher, Black Bears and Coyotes. A few remained from great-great-grandmother’s time to my own, but I wonder what my son will see here when he is my age.

copyright 2008, G. Douglas Clarke

Bush, McCain, and nuclear energy

I awoke with this all put together in my mind, like Coleridge did with "Kubla Kahn".

“I believe there’s only one environmental conflict, and that’s between short-term and long-term thinking. In the long term, the economy and the environment are the same thing. If it’s unenvironmental it is uneconomical. That is the rule of nature.”

-Mollie Beattie, first woman to head the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

It is so clear why nuclear energy will NEVER be a solution for energy production, and why John McCain was NOT the better choice for President this year -- or anyone holding the same view, in ANY year.

Here are the keys:

Producing energy from nuclear fission or fusion, produces nuclear byproducts that are dangerously radioactive for thousands of years. This means they must be guarded to prevent accidental injury and prevent malicious theft for use in terrorism. Just the cost of doing so for a hundred years (to say nothing of doing so for thousands of years) far exceeds the value of the energy produced. Then add the huge costs of designing, licensing, operating, and protecting nuclear facilities, and the energy produced is not a net gain, in any sense. Nuclear energy is simply a hole into which a people will continue to throw outrageous amounts of money in exchange for no net benefit, and condemn their descendants to the same fate, without their consent.

A man who cannot even pronounce "nuCLEar" should never have been entrusted with decisions about nuclear ANYthing. Thankfully, George W. Bush's term is almost ended. To have elected a man as his successor one who stated that, as President of this nation, he would have opened the floodgates to development of nuclear power, would have been the most foolish act this nation could have taken.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

(another) reason not to vote for John McCain

I had long ago made up my mind not to vote for John McCain, because he is no longer a maverick, if he ever was. Now, as I have gone through a comparison of the programs he endorses, versus those endorsed by Barack Obama, I would not vote for him, if for no other reason than that he supports the expansion of nuclear power. Barack Obama does not support development of nuclear power production, but favors development of alternative energy sources.

There is now reasonable hope that we can begin commercially producing biofuels from algae in the next ten years. Promoting such development, as Obama does, would result in the creation of new industries, while the expansion of nuclear power would require close regulation and protection of nuclear materials, FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS! Not only would nuclear materials need to be kept from leaking into places where they could accidentally harm living things, but they would have to be protected from malicious misuse, as well. The development of nuclear power production is a hugely expensive, dangerous undertaking that would last for many generations!

Wouldn't we rather have the expansion of businesses that would produce materials and technologies which don't emit invisible waves of harmful radiation, and which would immediately free us from foreign powers and corporations?

Putting money into this sort of technology would also free us from the fact that ethanol production from corn is a soil-depleting technology. Corn is a slow-growing crop, compared to algae, and producing fuel from corn diverts land from food production to fuel production at a time when human population is at its greatest. Where corn takes months to produce the raw material for food or for ethanol, some algaes can double their biomass in a matter of days. And, in the process, atmospheric carbon dioxide is converted to other compounds, thus reducing greenhouse gas volume! The fact that it would produce AMERICAN jobs, is no small thing, either!!!

There is also ongoing development of new photovoltaic (solar electrical generation) materials that will greatly increase the efficiency of power production from sunlight. This will also decrease our dependence on fossil fuels and create new business opportunities.

The expansion of wind generation has come rapidly in the current economic climate, and there is still great potential for further development that will result in environmental and other benefits.

With comprehensive conservation of fossil fuels through ramped emission reduction standards, speed limit reductions and expansion of mass transit, we could quickly see fuel prices stabilize for the meantime. This should not be a signal to go back to our old spendthrift ways, but gives us breathing room to reach new dynamic equilibrium, economically, socially, and environmentally.

Fossil fuels WILL RUN OUT SOON, probably in this century, at current consumption. Their continued extraction will only become more difficult and more expensive, and in the process will destroy even more natural habitats necessary to ourselves and the remaining creatures with whom we share the Earth.

Any alternatives that reduce the amount of fossil fuels consumed, is beneficial, in terms of cost, release of greenhouse gases, dependence on foreign sources, and new American business generated.

This opens the door for alternative fuels, increases in efficiency, and all sorts of innovations which will result in a better future for our children and grandchildren.

If for no lesser reason than the very quality of Earth's future, a vote NOT cast for John McCain, is a vote well cast.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Enter the Circle

Enter the Circle

Enter the circle in silence.

Quiet the tumult that troubles your thinking.

Hear the rush of the wind,
the rustle of leaves
and the song of the bird.

Feel the warm sun shining on your face.

Hear the voice of clarity.

Feel the power of profundity.

Be refreshed and find peace.

Leave the circle in silence.

Carry clarity in your mind.

Feel profound power when courage is needed.

Carry the powerful quiet of the circle within you.

copyright 2008
G. Douglas Clarke
May 24, 2008

Monday, May 5, 2008

I wanted you to know

If you're getting this in an e-mail, it means I've added your name to the distribution list, so any time there's a new post, you get it by e-mail, too. But I just instituted this, so there are other posts you won't see unless you go to the blog. If you don't want these to come by e-mail, let me know.

Friday, January 4, 2008

For Our Mother

I always loved my mother at the deepest levels, although I know I did not always feel that way at the surface of things. I may have even told someone (I’m not sure the words ever left my lips but I fear they may have) that I hated her, when I was a teenager. I know I responded very negatively to some of the things she did, but I know now that she had limited control over some of them, and that some of them were side-effects of medicines she needed to take. But I always knew she loved me very much.

This is not one of those stories from someone who’s trying to make peace with a deceased loved one, after the fact. I spent hours with Mom, even before cancer began to steal her energies, wrestling with things that had come between us. On several occasions, we ended up crying and hugging, understanding each other much better, and forgiving each other for hurts and misunderstandings.

I am the last of five children and I’m afraid our father has never fully grasped the depth of reconciliation that Mom and I found in the last ten years or so of her life. He seemed to think that I hurt Mom’s feelings, but I believe we truly were able to work our way through most of the things we had done in the past that caused each other pain, and I know I only think fondly of her now.

Over the years, a few acquaintances, and even a few members of our extended family, treated our mother with a lack of respect, and even with scorn. I always suspected this was in response to her emotional idiosyncrasies. She was very emotional and obsessive/compulsive and all, but little did other people know – at least until recently – that Mother’s foibles have specific, medical labels. They unfortunately also bear stigma, even if less so than in the past.

We, her children, have always felt set apart, apparently because of our close association with Mom, and perhaps because we resemble her. It is not that people haven’t been generally cordial, but many have let us know they regarded us differently. I think in some cases they couldn’t even have acknowledged that they felt that way, to say nothing of knowing that they were sending such signals. Perceptions are such elusive things……..

Anyway, it was a lovely surprise, last Friday, when a family friend joined me in walking up the street, and made a point of saying that they missed my mother, even though she’d died seven years before. In the course of conversation, I remarked that some folks thought Mom was a “strange bird” and this friend reminded me that my mother’s love was never in doubt, and that it always flowed freely from her. This friend said “we go back a long way, don’t we?” It was my pleasure to concur.

Even in this time of Muslim-bashing and Christian fundamentalism gone amok – it would be no surprise to Mom that this Muslim (ZR) friend would have recognized her love for people, for all living things, and for beautiful things like sunsets…….she was that sort of woman.

G. Douglas Clarke March 20, 2005

About Me

My photo
I've been a number of things over the years: husband, father, environmental technical specialist, college instructor, carpenter, volunteer firefighter and ambulance driver, student of Lakota and Japanese languages, technical writer, process engineer, research technician, IT technician, emergency dispatcher, etc.