Friday, September 14, 2007

Extinction, energy, and politics

The week started off on a rather down note when we were told that almost 200 more species were threatened with extinction. Climate change, disease, and war seem to be the biggest enablers of this. Perhaps with time we can reverse this, but how much longer until that time runs out?

Alternative energy and the environment are really starting to dominate politics, both in the local and federal arenas in the United States. Virginia's governor, Tim Kaine, recently put out his proposal to cut greenhouse emissions by 30% before 2025. His proposal is basically centered around the citizens and government using less energy by using available energy more efficiently. To set the pace the state purchased 27,000 CFLs. CFLs are pretty good but I have found that some of the cheaper ones burn out pretty quickly. Take your time, stick with namebrands, and do not just go for the cheapest guy on the block. I have reduced my bill from an average of $135 per month to $100 per month just by introducing these bulbs to my home.

Speaking of conservation, retired professor Richard Hill recently stated that conservation is the way for humans to have a more balanced (and cleaner) relationship with nature. Part of his plan calls for the doubling of the amount of nuclear power plants in the US and also requiring a minimum standard of 30 mpg for passenger cars.

Meanwhile the feds are giving Southern Co. a hard time over a cooling valve that was not up to snuff in their Alabama nuclear plant. Not enough to cause a meltdown but it might have, just maybe, if things went just wrong enough, endanger the public in some form or fashion. Southern is rather pissed due to the fact that the black eye comes during a time when they are trying to expand their operations in other parts of the country.

In an effort to cut greenhouse emissions Vermont modeled a law on vehicles after the one in use in California. Of course it got dragged into court by the automakers. Part of the problem, they said, was that the states were usurping federal authority. The judge did not buy it and ruled in favor of the law.

Speaking of those evil and vile automakers. You know the ones who are so dead set against alternative energy? General Motors announced that is plans on expanding its use of solar power. It will be the largest solar plant in the US and produce 1.3 million killowatt hours of electricity every year. Wow! Is that enough to travel Back to the Future?

Taking a look northward, Wisconsin is once again expanding its reach into alternative fuels. I had been up in that state a couple of years ago and it was the first time that I saw an E-85 gas pump anywhere. Right now the city of Evansville wants to build a soy crush plant. The cooperative in the area stated that they would be willing to work with the state in financing the facility.

Why be so keen on clean electricity? Well it is not just better for the trees, birds, and plants but also for us, the humans. Dirty the environment and you cause all sorts of the health issues. Right now "dirty energy" threatens the health of over 2 billion people and it is not just the usual suspects. Apprently un or poorly ventilated indoor cook fires are quite a concern.

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