The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be 2

Note: This is taken from TPM-aholics, where it originated.

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What do we want 2050 to look like?

We know a few things already.

It will be more crowded.  Estimates put us somewhere north of 9 billion people worldwide.  Maybe 14 billion by the end of the century.  I might make it to see the 9 billion, unappealing as that sounds.  The 14 billion, well, I’m glad I’ll be long gone for that.

Some nations will be much older, others will be younger.

It will be warmer.  Whether temperature increases stay steady, accelerate, or slow, they will continue for the foreseeable future.  As will weather instability, as we have seen in the last few months.

It might well be drier, and that’s not a good thing, as water is the one thing we absolutely, positively cannot live without.

Let’s leave the global aside for a moment and look at the national – and maybe even closer.

There are two main possible directions for the future.  One is to continue along the increasing corporatization of America, until we begin to resemble something akin to an electronicized feudal state, where ownership of most of the economy is concentrated in the hands of a very few, with the great numbers of people having almost no say or stake in anything.  This is the Libertarians’ ideal, of course, though many of their adherents are foolish enough to believe that they’ll somehow be on the ownership side of the fence.

They won’t.

They’re cannon fodder to the people really pulling the strings.  And they’ll resist that truth to the last breath.

Or we can set about reclaiming the concept of a public good, redefining ourselves in terms of a society rather than simply an economy, and relegating all religious discussion to its rightful place in the private sphere.

Something to work for, don’t you think?

What if that goal was even such a simple notion as that there is no good reason for anyone to have to go to bed hungry, or to not have a bed to go hungry to, or even a roof overhead?  That there is no good reason for a child to grow to adulthood unschooled?  That everyone having basic health care is a huge social positive in many more ways than there are room to list here?

We live in a society.  An economy is just a component of that society, and those who confuse the two shortchange not only this society, they also shortchange themselves.

It would appear that the choice is fairly clear – stark, even.  On the one hand, we can live in Rand Paul’s dreamland, an electronicized Somalia, with no functioning government to speak of and a tiny, cosseted elite exploiting everyone else for fun (more on this in the future) and profit, or we can change direction and realize that we will indeed do better if we all do better.

So, what do you want 2050 to look like?

Travels with the I-Pad — Port Gamble Trails 1

I like to take the IPad preloaded with trail maps to go hiking, that way, you probably can’t get lost. Well I probably could get lost, but the I-Pad is truly and awesome thing, So I had this map loaded onto my IPad before I left home. Port Gamble Trail Map.

It was so incredible today. It was windy and not too warm 63 degrees, and cloudy of course. It’s been this way all year-long so far, cloudy and cool. I understand we have not warmed to even to 80 degrees! I don’t have much to complain about, it never gets to hot to ride or to hike or to be outside.

The walk to the trail head. Port Gamble is quite a little town of historic buildings. We do the Tour d’ Kitsap almost every year and we do ride through Port Gamble every year. This was the first time going to Port Gamble to hike.

This is a church right in the town and the entire town is made of historic buildings.  The town was originally constructed in 1853. The entire town is a national historic site. Port Gamble was the longest continuously operating mill town in North America.  Pope Resources restored and operated the town until 1995 when as the only remaining company owned mill town in Puget Sound, it was closed down.  Port Gamble is now a tourist attraction drawing people from all over. There are unique shops and markets and hiking trails. The turn of the century buildings are pretty cool, they even bookstore than rents out bicycles to explore the many trails around Port Gamble. It’s pretty cool it’s called The Dauntless Bookstore.

We covered 11 miles in the park, there are lots of trails and ground to cover, we didn’t do all of it that is for sure and we did it all on foot, not on bicycles or horseback.

Salmonberries.. yummy. Their space is often overtaken by blackberries. Salmonberries are obviously lighter in color and very sweet, it is a native plant of the Pacific Northwest.

They can be as dark as the meat from a copper river salmon. Quite beautiful and the bears love them.

The remnants of old growth cedar trees.

A Doug Fir Root Wad.

Root wads are pretty incredible, and useful in salmonid restoration programs. There were several marked streams in the area.

Bear den.

There has been a juvenile Black bear loose in a one of the surrounding areas. I guess they need a place to crash. But this is actually an example of a bear den and not an active bear den, because this is an interpretive forest area, which is used to teach people about the environment of the Pacific Northwest. I know at times a local tree expert will take people on tours through the forest. I missed that day, but when they have one again, I think I will join them.

Oh and I did not once get lost, I had the IPad with me.

Crossposted at DAGblog

Saving the Scotchman Peaks Proposed Wilderness Area 4

As you know I ride my bike all over Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Montana and occasionally New England, this year it is Maine in September, where we go visit the ex-President Bush in Kennebunkport, he isn’t expecting us of course, but we will wave as we ride by their compound if we can see it from the road! And I am sure he will be thrilled that the Greatest Living Democrat will go out of her way to acknowledge his New England roots.

Well June 4th we were riding the CHaFE 150 in Sandpoint, Idaho. So far this was the most grueling ride of my life, mostly because it was 150 miles long and in the Kanisku National Forest. It was hilly, it no doubt wore me out, but it was a blast.

I learned a few things while we rode, I spent lots of time talking to Kenny who runs the cross-country area at Schweitzer. I learned about the Scotchman Peaks proposed wilderness area which is right in the middle of the Cabinet Mountains of the Kanisku National Forest, the Scotchman’s lie in both Montana and Idaho.

I took this picture at mile 97, we were stopped here:

Yes these people have an incredible sense of humor and at mile 97 I did feel like I needed a MASH unit!

Well what we learned  is there is silver in them hills, okay peaks and there is an epic battle going on between environmentalists in Idaho and mining interests in both Idaho and Montana.

According to the Friends of the Scotchman’s this area spans the Idaho/Montana border and one of the last, and largest, wild areas in that region. The group conducts education, outreach and stewardship activities to preserve the rugged, scenic and biologically diverse 88,000 acre Scotchman Peaks Roadless Area. They believe the Scotchman Peaks deserve congressional designation as Wilderness for the benefit and enjoyment of current and future generations.I believe that as well, as the earth continues to warm we must attempt to preserve these areas, as there are so few left.

It is going to be quite the fight over this area, Montana has not had a great economy as a state since the Anaconda company closed the Berkeley pit down in Butte which in 1982, and at that point the entire United States was still recovering from high inflation, interest rates and an oil crisis.  Silver mining promises to bring some life to an economy that has suffered for 30+ years. This area along with the new Drumlummon discovery could bring some life back to an economy that has been in nothing but decline.

Idaho on the other hand, even though it is a fairly conservative state has done wonders with preserving wilderness and developing an extensive economy that has both high-tech opportunities and tourism. Preserving the Scotchman Peaks seems to be a goal of the people of northern Idaho.

Unfortunately because the economy of the entire US is not great, but in particular in Montana it has been in decline for 30+ years, so there may be no way to stop the development of the Scotchman Peaks. But the word has to get out there among people who are not just residents of the Idaho Panhandle. There is a way to save the Scotchman Peaks and we must work to preserve it for future generations.

GOP in HOR – Renewable Energy is Anti-Energy 2

As usual the TeaBag GOP is going out on a limb to protect Oil, Coal, and Nuclear energy producers. NREL – the National Renewable Energy Lab in Colorado is on the chopping block. I did an internship while in graduate school at the Washington State Energy Office in 1993. The program I worked for was the Energy Ideas Clearing House which was funded by grants through the Department of Energy. The funding source was through the DofE’s Office of Science and Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Programs. NREL recieves their funding from those programs at the DoE.  Republicans in the house are seeking to have these programs eliminated in the 2012 budget. They claim of course that these programs offer nothing to the US and have by and large failed. What should be of particular interest to everyone is that Republicans seems to believe that Renewable Energy isn’t necessary to explore. Defunding these programs will essentially defund NREL, EIC, NCAT and other Alternate Renewable Energy programs in the US.

According to a report in the Denver Sun GOP lawmakers are pushing to defund the Department of Energy’s Office of Science and Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy programs in the 2012 budget, because they “have failed to live up to their supposed potential.” This is an assessment they offer without supporting data, but what is most interesting is Tom McClintock from a TBag district in California, who states:

“We should not follow the president’s poor planning in increasing the funding for these anti-energy boondoggles.”

Republicans are seeking to save money by defunding these programs while continuing to subsidize Oil, Coal and Nuclear Energy industries. Of course those subsidies are much larger than any monies spend on funding these energy research programs. NREL was founded in 1978, by the Carter Administration, and that was effectively the last time the nation attempted to develop solid energy policies to move us towards the future.  According to the NREL website, it is the only federal laboratory dedicated to the research, development, commercialization and deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. Backed by 33 years of achievement, NREL leads the way in helping meet the growing demand for clean energy.

So are renewable energy programs anti-energy boondoggles? Do these folks really believe wind, solar, geothermal, and biofuel research has no place in developing sound energy policy? So while progressives are out there hand-wringing about the awfulness of the biggest liar of all President Obama and how he hates the unemployed, the middle class, unions, who is also a closet Republican, is the second coming of Ronald Reagan, wants everyone to go to community college for no reason because they have already have mad skilz, Republicans in the House are getting away with destroying programs that are beneficial not just to the nation but to the world.

Until we the people are able to convince lawmakers that we would like to fund these programs the United States will never develop a coherent energy policy that can move us to a cleaner energy future, and while China is investing 54.4 billion dollars in renewable energy sources, we will cease to fund research into renewable energies, because they are deemed anti-energy by those whose political campaigns are funded by the oil, coal and nuclear industries. Until we pressure our law maker to do this we will continue to fight wars over oil.  We all know that we went to Iraq because of Oil and not for any other reason.

According to Open Secrets, Rep. Lamborn of Colorado, the guy behind eliminating the funding source of these programs, in 2010 he received the majority of his donations from:

Industry

Total

Indivs

PACs

Defense Aerospace $34,250 $0 $34,250
Oil & Gas $31,750 $1,250 $30,500
Defense Electronics $28,300 $0 $28,300
Mining $17,500 $0 $17,500
Real Estate $16,833 $9,333 $7,500

Over his lifetime as a representative Oil and Gas are among the top three of those contributing to his campaigns, so it is no surprise he wants to eliminate funding for NREL.  He received a lifetime total $191,762 total from Energy and Natural Resource Industries with $158,000 coming directly from PAC’s. We certainly know why this particular congressman is pushing to have NREL, NCAT, EIC defunded by eliminating the funding of the DOE’s Office of Science and Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Programs.

The Republican leadership on the House Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development are as follows:

Rodney P. Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) [Chairman]

Energy and Natural Resources: about $217,000 life since 1998 of which pac’s donated $190,000

Jerry Lewis (R-CA)

Energy and Natural Resources: $469,000 since 1998 with $419,000 coming from PAC’s

Mike Simpson (R-ID)

Energy & Natural Resources:  $535,797 since 1998 with $441,445 coming from PAC’s

Dennis Rehberg (R-MT)

Energy & Natural Resources Industries:  $659,599 since 1998 with $464,750 coming from PAC’s

Rodney Alexander (R-LA)

Energy & Natural Resources:  $279,446 $167,750

Steve Womack (R-AR)

Is pretty new to congress and has received $21,000 from Energy and Natural Resource Industries

Alan Nunnelee (R-MS)

Also a new member and he received $79,200 from Energy and Natural Resource Industries

I know for a fact my congressman Norm Dicks will vote against these efforts, however your own congress-person needs to hear from you if you care about it at all. They need to know whether you for or against these efforts.  If we truly are a government by the people for the people, your participation doesn’t have to end with voting. Blogging about how you hate, hate, hate every single thing about everyone in congress, isn’t as effective as contacting your congressperson. To me this is very important. Make some noise and implore your like minded friends and neighbors to do the same, especially if you care about moving towards building a green or sustainable future for future generations. They need to know where you stand on real issues. Write them a letter, shoot them an email, and let them know you understand the issues. Do it every day if you have to, but don’t let the Republicans get away with demagoguing renewable energy programs.

Cross Posted at DAGblog