Archive for the ‘social construction’ Category

Cuban hurricane risk management; could Western countries learn a thing or two from socialist Cuba?

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

On the topic of adaptive management for climate change, I came across an article about Cuba’s hurricane evacuation policy. This article highlights Cuban hurricane management procedures and frameworks, and compares them with those of the United States. I have sent the brief article to you via our McGill emails. The main point is that Cuba has adapted to the high threat of hurricanes and hurricane related disasters (flooding, heavy rains, high winds) in the Caribbean. The number of deaths/ hurricane in Cuba compared to the rest of the Caribbean countries and the United States in significantly lower (there is a chart in the article illustrating this fact with figures). These results are contributed to three major factors: 1. public awareness of hazard risk, 2. public policy commitment, and 3. applied scientific knowledge. Public awareness refers to the citizens’ knowledge of hurricane risk and how to act when a hurricane approaches. Moreover, it reflects the citizens’ personal response to hurricane warnings (i.e. heeding the warning rather than staying at home). Public policy is a unique quality to Cuba due to its long standing socialist government. Cuba;s political structure is relatively stable compared to democratic governments, in the sense that one party is long lived and there are few internal struggles. It is this institutional stability that allows for the implementation and evolution of long-term, practical plans, be they for hurricane risk management, education or health care (all of Cuba is far ahead of the United States). Lastly, applied scientific knowledge, refers to Cuba’s history of meteorological scientific research; during the 19th century the Spanish government and the Catholic Church developed in Havana the first meteorological service in the Caribbean region, around the same time as the Cold War, Cuba became self-sufficient in predicting hurricanes, with a network of hundreds of weather stations.
I will not go into detail about the chain that gets information about hurricane warnings to the Cuban citizens beyond mentioning that when there is a hurricane risk, the warming system is run by the National Defense Council and all media are fully subordinate to this council to broadcast the warnings an instruction to the public (there are no private networks).
I understand that Cuba operates under a system of social, economic and ideological frameworks unique from Western countries, and that these differences pose challenges for implementation of similar hurricane management plans. But, what is stopping Western countries from creating hurricane and other natural disaster adaptation plans that are efficient within their own frameworks? An interesting raised in this article was that Cuba developed such a strong plan out of necessity; Cuba has to be highly concerned about protecting its people due to severe economic constrains imposed by the US embargo. I found this interesting when compared to the damages and lives lost in Hurricane Katrina, where it seemed that human life, at least certain human life, was disposable in the United States (I am sure we are all aware of the demographics of New Orleans and wont dive into this as it is a whole other topic).
This example of hurricane management is the closest thing I have come across for actual policy implications for adapting to environmental disasters, which are set to increase in frequency and severity the world round. I wonder then, could ‘democratic’ developed countries learn a thing or two about environmental and social protection from socialist Cuba?

Performance Art: Subversion, Activism and GPS

Friday, November 14th, 2008

From a student in our Intro to GIS course:

In 2007 three artists living in the country of Slovenia officially changed their name to Janez Janša. Janez Janša is the name of the country’s Prime Minister, a right wing politician who is hostile towards any opposition. On January 28th 2008, the group performed Signature Event Context’s as part of transmediale 08, a Berlin festival that focuses on the digital arts. The performance took place at the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin. During the event, each of the artists was equipped with a GPS device, and walked through the memorial while repeating the mantra “Jaz sem Janez Janša, Jaz sem Janez Janša, Jaz sem Janez Janša…” (My name is Janez Janša”).

The performance is available online. Since it would be hard to decipher the movements live, video on the webpage offers a planimetric view of the event. First, it locates the site with a “polygon of action” that is supplemented with longitude and latitude locations. With the aid of video cameras, GPS receivers, and Google Earth we can trace the artists’ paths through the memorial. Each artists’ path is highlighted in green. The final result is a signature, the trace of the creators, the name “Janez Janša”.

The title of the event comes from Jacques Derrida’s essay “Signature Event Context.” The group posts this quote on their website to explain their performance:

By definition, a written signature implies the actual or empirical nonpresence of the signer. But, it will be said, it also marks and retains his having-been present in a past now, which will remain a future now, and therefore in a now, in general, in the transcendental form of nowness (maintenance). This general maintenance is somehow inscribed, stapled to the present punctuality, always evident and always singular, in the form of the signature. This is the enigmatic originality of every paraph. For the attachment to the source to occur, the absolute singularity of an event of the signature and of a form of the signature must be retained: the pure reproducibility of a pure event.(Jacques Derrida, “Signature Event Context” in Margins of Philosophy, tr. Alan Bass, pp. 307-330)

The group claims that the memorial event puts together three concepts (signature, event and context), which “re-contextualizes the site of signature.”

In relation to their name change and the site of the performance, the meaning of the event is complex. Memorials are supposed to engage each individual in the act of remembering. What happens when three artists collectively sign their name at such a significant place? How and where is the original Janez Janša implied? What meaning are Internet viewers supposed to draw? Our own interpretation of the work is mediated by technology. Antonio Caronia notes that in this case, technology has the semiotic function, because the realization of the concept of identity (the signature) is closely related to the virtual world. In effect, the performance of the three Janez Janšas “places in doubt the basis of everyone’s social and individual identity and wants to deeply investigate on the social conventions that constitute and decode it, aiming at unearthing those processes which lie on the border between mind and society.”

Economics and Environmental Costs

Sunday, October 19th, 2008

I fear not doing justice to the seminar presented on October 18, however I can attempt to describe it.  October 18 was the day of the Beatty Memorial lecture given by James Gustave Speth.  He began the lecture with a discussion of the environmental problems that are taking place today.  Aside from global warming, there has been an increase in species extinctions, eutrophication and a higher occurrence of toxins within the body.  We are living in an age of spiritual and social deficit coupled with longer work hours and a crumbling family structure.  One of the major factors; our economy is not taking into account these environmental and social costs.

I was surprised that Speth included the social environment as part of his talk.  Normally the first thing one considers when thinking of the environment is the ecosystems along with its flora and fauna.  However our community is a part of who we are.  One might argue it is our immediate environment as it is where we connect with each other.  The statement was made that our progress is measured by the GDP.  Speth suggests that this is counterproductive as people who are earning more are not necessarily happier.  In addition along with the progress of our economy we are seeing greater disparities between the rich and the poor.  If we wish to decrease the amount of poverty in the world this cannot be seen as progress.

It is difficult to change the economy to suit our environmental needs.  Because it appears to be more costly to incorporate these new environmental policies we are faced with the dilemma of wishing to save our current environment but being fearful of damaging our economy.  In addition, because of the stronger influence the private sector is having over the government, it is harder to seek government support conflicting with the needs of the private sector.  This statement appears similar to that made in the Linzey Seminar, Building Activism Stripping Corporate Power and Recognizing the Rights of Nature.  Finally it is difficult to put forth an environmental agenda when people are currently struggling to support themselves.  Thus they’d prefer lower cost options.

If we are going to seek to change an economy that conflicts with our environments (ecological and social) we our going to have to make sacrifices.  It has been suggested we are currently living beyond our means.  It has therefore been proposed that we lower our consumption and (as put by Speth) consider the market of nothing.  Buying less, buying local, and buying “slow food” would have a decreased impact on the environment.

Concluding Speth’s lecture are many powerful statements.  He seems to aspire to a future where there is collaboration with the political, social and environmental aspects of life.  He also aspires to a future where we focus on “needs, rather than wants, dependence rather than transcendence, [seeking to be] a part of nature rather than apart from it, [and seeking to become] better, not richer” (Speth, 2008).  To us in particular Speth beseeches us to get off the sidelines and get active in our goal for improving this world.

social movements

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

Following on my the previous post: autorickshaws are not just convenient modes of transport – they are also extremely fertile grounds for research (and ‘research’) and design (of fun afternoons).

I make as many weekend trips from work as possible. The weekend before Dehradun, I was in Jaipur, Rajhastan. My friend and I walked out of the train station early in the morning. Naturally, a swarm of rickshaw-wallahs offered us transportation, some forcefully.

Talking to one driver, we made the condition that we would only go with him if he let us drive. He agreed.

I believe the academic term for this is Action Research

Wearing sunglasses with a video camera embedded between the eyes, we went for a spin. We also asked Don, our driver, to survey his path while wearing the equipment.

As far as mobile phone communications are concerned, there was some of that as well. Once the video is edited, Derek (pictured, right) will have a clip of us exchanging numbers with Don, who became our private transport and part-time guide that weekend. Even Harshad, a friend from New Delhi who lives in Jaipur, was eager to take Don’s phone number. This proved to be a wise move, because Don called saying he had found a wallet on the seat. He delivered it the next day, and we went to do more ‘field work’.

you’re so chic in that Garmin

Sunday, November 11th, 2007

Who knew that GPS units could be a fashion statement?

Related: Challenges for Garmin

online advertising in an online world

Friday, October 20th, 2006

See advertising in and buy virtual or real products on an online MMORPG (massively multiplayer role-playing game). That is, see the Adidas ads in Second Life and buy the Adidas shoes for your avatar. Oh, and buy a pair in the real world too. The physical world of advertising meets online games.

The sudden rush of real companies into so-called virtual worlds mirrors the evolution of the Internet itself, which moved beyond an educational and research network in the 1990’s to become a commercial proposition — but not without complaints from some quarters that the medium’s purity would be lost.

The medium’s purity?? Advertising is an instance of the real world?? This article drips with unacknowledged irony.

I’m waiting for Sony ads in World of Warcraft.

Also, this caught my eye, the fear of competition from large, well-financed corporations:

In her second life, Ms. Fitzpatrick’s digital alter-ego is a figure well-known to other participants called Prokofy Neva, who runs a business renting “real estate” to other players. “The next phase,” she said, “will be they try to compete with other domestic products — the people who made sneakers in the [SeondLife] world are now in danger of being crushed by Adidas.”

Perhaps she’s in danger of competition from ReMax or Century 21. 😉

Sometimes there’s even activism in the digital realm.

Some corporate events have been met with protests by placard-waving avatars. And there is even a group called the Second Life Liberation Army that has staged faux “attacks” on Reebok and American Apparel stores. (The S.L.L.A. says it is fighting for voting rights for avatars…)

Perhaps this will remind people to vote in the physical world as well? There is always hope that, in addition to commercial activity, some of the virtual world can seep into the real world.

Canadian math gurus falsify methods used to derive “Hockey Stick”; a revival emerges.

Sunday, July 16th, 2006

A prime example of the public bootlegging of science:

“…discussion of [the ‘Hockey Stick’ global warming curve] has been so polluted by political and activist frenzy that it is hard to dig into it to reach the science. My earlier column was largely a plea to let science proceed unmolested. Unfortunately, the very importance of the issue has made careful science difficult to pursue.” – R Muller, Technology Review – full article here.

The article is a summary of the high-calibre mathematic mystery – does the so-called “Hockey Stick” really portray history’s temperature spiking? No, not really. The standardization technique was blurred into the analysis itself, but the result’s “principal component will have a hockey stick shape even if most of the data do not.”

I would argue that no matter what degree of error was found in the original opus, the “Hockey Stick” concept has made an indellible impression. Public opinion on the matter will not likely let go – just the contrary, it seems that more and more agreement is emerging for rapid global warming.

However, there is a healthy backing from scientists who know more than mere journalistic perspectives: the blog “Real Climate” opened up an extensive back-and-forth that supports the initial findings and message.

total cost accounting saves bathroom drugery?

Friday, February 10th, 2006

actually they are unrelated.
Conclusions by the New Economics Foundation are reported on the BBC. Nef finds that despite the huge revenues exhibited by oil and gas companies, when social factors of greenhouse gas emissions are factored in, these revenues are actually turned into losses. The report suggested that each tonne of carbon dioxide emissted costs about $35 in environmental damage…which adds up pretty quickly.

as a side note (of the cat blog genre):
“Nanotech saves bathroom drudgery…”using regular bathroom light and an environmentally friendly coating of nanotechnology particles, the bathroom can clean itself – possibly an environmental benefit, according to a Friends of the Earth representative…

ecosystem analysis

Friday, February 3rd, 2006

Is “ecosystem” joining the ranks of “sustainability” as a popular buzz word? The new iPod ecosystem would seem to suggest so. What are the implications of turning an important and complex idea into a marketing catchphrase? Are people concerned about the hijaking (buzzword!) of language? This article on the iPod ecosystem has no mention of any commonly percieved notion of ecosystems (at least not as far as my enviro-centric mind can see), but generally discusses the growing ubiquity of ipod as supported by a growing range of accessories. So, does it matter? Given the importance of the media in spreading knowledge of environmental issues, are there consequences in “bastardising” important language, or will environmentalists just find new ways of expressing meaning? OR, is an expanded use of terms actually beneficial in increasing public understanding and appreciation for concepts?


Thursday, January 26th, 2006

What is this notion of privacy? Felix Stalder proposes in this article that privacy is a cultural construction connected to the dominance of print media, and that now, with the rise of electronics, traditional notions of privecy will erode…

virtual reality

Wednesday, January 25th, 2006

To what extent is virtual reality dependant on physical objects? An article (albeit and out of date one) discusses the missed out on “goggles and joystick” style virtual reality games of the mid 1990s, and a new sort of virtual reality “art” that some people at U of Illinois have thought up. The article doesn’t get into the philosophical considerations of the physical role of technological objects in our so-called virtual lives, but leads one to consider the phsical role of technology. Don Idhe (no link, you will have to find a physical copy to interact with) discusses the role of technology for humans, and the way that technological objects have influenced humankind’s interaction with the environment. If a technological object is something that enables increased activities thorugh its use, the activities enabled by our increasingly able technologies go through the roof. Or do they? Given the amount of power humans have derived from their technological dependance, how do virtual technoligies, that are not only acted upon but can act themselves (to an extent), alter that power structure?

investigative journalism

Monday, December 19th, 2005

The term ‘investigative journalism’ shouldn’t leave the onus on the journalist… here, you, the reader, can now spend 2 exciting hours reading this fire-fight over “The Skeptical Environmentalist” and its treatment of global warming, overpopulation, energy, deforestation, species loss, water shortages, et al., starring Prof. Lomberg himself and 4 high-profile Scientists.

Be sure to click all of the links in sequence.
Skepticism toward The Skeptical Environmentalist

‘It can be written’

Sunday, December 18th, 2005

There is an old Yiddish saying that goes, ‘It can be written’. What can be written? Anything. When it comes to blogs, that is the law of the land. Anybody can write a diatribe on anything, feel proud and righteous, and call it a latte. Presented here are two sides of the story, with apologies to Dave Eggers (‘How We are Hungry’ short stories) and NYTimes’ John Horgan (a one-sided rant on the true Republican screwing with science).

On the one side, from powerful youth groups (read: naïve groups), we get this sort of stream-of-nothingness: boasts for Kyoto’s longevity (a self-defeating compromise on the alter of feel-good cooperation), backing for Socolow’s carbon ‘stability wedges’ (which are grossly underestimated, according to a deluge of literature on energy and climate issues), and happy rants against the US for its unwillingness to bleed a bit of economy to back-track under the UNFCCC. A friend of mine branded this as “streetpunk neo-anarchist alt-self-realized-educated politics.” This, from an environmentalist worried perhaps a bit too much with his leanings for liberal elitism.

In a glance, all you need to read right here.

Then, a splash of cold water to the face from another blog, from a well-educated, clear and concise writer.

Un-doing the Spin on Environmental Spin-Doctoring. Really, it helps. This stuff is stronger than Brazillian coffee.

I really tire of going into the hard facts about renewables, socio-economic reform with conserving and switching energy sources, and elimination of already-present energy sources, so, in better words already written, a primer on some hard-to-swallow wake-ups.
Sp!ked, from the UK.

activism at large

Tuesday, October 18th, 2005

It seems quizzicle that anyone not familiar with the concept of virtual activism readily argues that ‘virtual’ can be traced to 1 degree of separation from ‘physical’, while those who claim to be ‘experts’ in the field are quick to agree and continue making the distinction nonetheless.

One bold method from in a oft-cited article uses “process tracing” to draw a line from dot to dot to dot in order to establish causal relationships, where each dot is an actor or event, starting from NGOs and ending with international negotiations (Betsill and Corell, 2001). Imagine, howeve, the complexity of this trace:

Out of an idyllic blue sky dotted with birds and butterflies come warplanes that carpet-bomb the Smurfs’ forest village, killing Smurfette, leaving Baby Smurf wailing in distress and sending Papa Smurf and the others bolting for cover.

The scene from a bizarre commercial featuring Belgium’s lovable blue-skinned cartoon characters is so upsetting it can only be shown after 9 p.m. to avoid scaring children.

Yet it is part of a UNICEF ad campaign on Belgian television meant to highlight the plight of ex-child soldiers in Africa.

“It’s working. We are getting a lot of reactions, and people are logging on to our Web site,” said Philippe Henon, a spokesman for the Belgian office of the U.N. children’s agency.

. . .

“We get reactions from all over the place,” he said. “People are shocked and want to know the reasons behind this cartoon image.”

The goal UNICEF has with this campaign is to attract donations for its program to aid children in war-torn areas. Imagine the diffiuculty – but also, the real possibility – of doing research that draws from NGO representatives, policy makers, and all stripes of media to show how influence is caused by specific actors. But, what is physical and what is virtual is a secondary matter, an issue of semantics. It does, however, make for promising – if disturbing – advantages in activism. See below:

papa smurf!

Informing vs. Making Change

Sunday, September 25th, 2005

Tim Jordan’s book Activism! (2002) portrays protests as a method to “cause us to focus on the meaning of particular movements and their demands.” Protests are now so frequent in our society they may be seen by a blind eye, so many causes and so little time… However, interestingly, Jordan writes protests “inform changes in our societies.” Thus instead of pushing change right now the strong point of a protest is informing society. However a major part is getting an informed society to change its lifestyle. How can actions of protest be involved in this movement?

Exploiting uncertainty

Wednesday, September 14th, 2005

As scientists, we are comfortable with uncertainty. We live in a paradigm of very few laws, in which research is structured by hypotheses that can be tested, debated and even falsified. Consensus–scientific truth–emerges from questioning. However, a coalition of pro-business conservatives and religious conservatives are casting doubt on the very validity of science by exploiting the paradigm of science. This is never better explained than in the new book by Chris Mooney, The Republican War on Science.

In an excellent but scary review of the book, the reviewer sketches out the plan revealed by Mooney.

Using methods and strategies pioneered under the Reagan administration by the tobacco industry and anti-environmental forces, an alliance of social conservatives and corporate advocates has paralyzed or obfuscated public discussion of science on a whole range of issues. Not just climate change but also stem cell research, evolutionary biology, endangered-species protection, diet and obesity, abortion and contraception, and the effects of environmental toxins have all become arenas of systematic and deliberate bewilderment.

And towards the end of the article, the result:

By turning science into an endlessly fudgeable tool of politics, and rejecting any notion of scientific consensus in favor of a landscape where all science is either liberal (“junk”) or conservative (“sound”), the American right has fulfilled the darkest prognoses of postmodern philosophy. In this view, science is indeed just an artifact of culture; it has no more objectivity than astrology or dowsing or medieval Catholic theology.

I encourage you to read the review and then buy the book. It’s the scary world we’re now in.

March of the Penguins or March of the Conservatives?

Tuesday, September 13th, 2005

Just saw the March of the Penguins, an excellent documentary about emperor penguins in Antarctica and a testament to the filmmakers who had to endure the harsh climate to shoot the film.

Now news that US conservatives are hailing the film as a crowning testament to family values. No longer the Passion of the Christ but the Passion of the Penguins. Some churches are taking busloads of parishioners to see the movie.

According to the religious and other conservatives interviewed for the article, the film is anti-abortion, pro-family, and pro-monogamy. The ingenuity of penguin breeding is seen as a validation for intelligent design. The film is also light on science. The filmmakers intentionally play down topics such as evolution and global warming in the hopes of broadening the audience.

Certainly the film turns penguin behaviour into the saga of the nuclear family. The film lingers on any moment that appears be actions of a loving couple and parents. The filmmakers are almost apologetic or breezy about activities that disagree with that premise, such as the fact that the penguins are serially monogamous and only mate for a year. The male penguin may nearly starve while he’s caring for the child; however, before he starves to death, he will abandon the child to freeze to death. Moreover, when the father does leave, he abandons both the mother and child. Also, penguin behaviour certainly argues AGAINST one of the tenets of the conservative family, that the female has the sole child rearing responsibility. With emperor penguins, there’s no mother – stays – at – home – takes – care – of – the – kids – while – the – father – provides – for – the – family. The father is as maternal as the mother. Finally, while the child is still young, the mother also abandons the child and never looks back.

Indeed, I thought the film was an excellent counter argument to intelligent design. What godly designer would create an animal as inefficient as the emperor penguin, who has to abandon his/her baby and traverse miles of ice in horrific conditions in order to feed itself? (Unfortunately, the article points out that this inefficiency is the same argument used by intelligent design advocates to bolster their case that this film does indeed affirm intelligent design.)

They say that truth is stranger than fiction. I guess that truth is even stranger than the documentary.

Update: this is the best counter-argument to intelligent design that I have found.

style trumps sustainable

Sunday, August 14th, 2005

The best friends environmentalism can turn to, time and time again, are fashion and marketing. Occasionally, they might stab it in the back, but not with green roofs.

From many standpoints, a green roof can pay off quick and easy as well as in the long term.

The hard sciences insist on a bevy of benefits. A green roof can act as a sink for CO2 and volatile organic compounds (just like spider plants in your kitchen), it can control temperature in the building and offset heating and cooling expenses, and it can sponge up much of the rain water that causes millions of dollars in damages in Montreal when the drainage system overflows. With a layers of soils and bedding and plastics, the roof superstructure gains added integrity. The roof also needs less roof tarring, from every five years to, well…

Remember the line from T. S. Eliot’s poem, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” that goes:

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

The phrases like ‘green buildings’ and ‘sustainable living’ come together over coffee with this sort of parlour talk. Citing these sort of benefits is quick and easy, and with enough people talking this way, city funds will start to pour in to these projects – not just because of the economic reasoning behind the money saved with these projects, though this does make for an added conversation piece.

Nonetheless, from the purely economic standpoint, it is not surprising that so many grant givers and foundations are actively supporting projects, such as Office of Energy Efficiency (OEE), part of Natural Resources Canada, Green Municipal Enabling Fund (GMEF), and the ever-popular EcoAction program of Environment Canada.

Also, a giant databank of articles and contacts can be found at Green Roofs for Healthy Cities and

For a densely-populated area with plenty of flat rooftops, Montreal makes for a good base for such initiatives, and the people are all abuzz.

At a recent formal event for the green roof installed by the Urban Ecology Centre between avenue du Parc and rue Jeanne-Mance attracted a variety of upstanding citizens, well dressed and one lady with a parot on her shoulder. Last week was also an info-night at the UEC,
Called “Green Roofs 101” (call (514) 281-8381 for the next event).

A week earlier, Santropol had a party for its own rooftop garden project. Read more in this Montrel Mirror article.

As for the community aspect of green building, an interesting wrinkle develops: with more rooftops covered in greenery, a city might lower the degree of its well-documented island heating effect. In Manhattan, the average temperature is 10 degrees hotter. Therefore, panoramic solutions are the best, in both senses of the word.

Some institutions and commercial businesses have expressed little interest so far in pitching green roofs on their buildings, one source at the UEC tells me, and I suspect that maybe the social standing and social circles the decision makers live within have clouded them from the trendiness of it as well as the sensability. They likely don’t have a membership to the sustainable style foundation* (look fabulous, live well, do good). And, to quote Albert Camus from “The Fall”:

…what else can one say for man, other than he fornicated and read the papers.

Thus, an article from the New York Times.

Damn Yankees

Wednesday, August 10th, 2005

The scenario has risen again: the science and policy surrounding energy policy have had a hard time coming through. And so, the same question as before comes hard on its heels: a blend of scientists and policy makers are being listened to… but which ones? And why?

The long-standing logic of switching to zero-emission energy sources was written in a bill signed by President Bush (CNN) which included new nuclear power plants, and encouraged domestic coal, oil and natural gas production (ENS). (See NYTimes for good measure.)

Now, it’s a matter of patriotism.

The Yankee Ingenuity of yore was what inspired drawings of Uncle Sam and was fueled by a booming USA. Suffice it to say, this sentiment is still strong in the US, but with the last 20 years of technology specialization by foreign countries, there has been less and less dominance. Of course, dependency on foreign oil fits in here as well. But, so does keeping jobs domestic, and keeping jobs with longevity and security.

Thus, the mission of the Apollo Alliance has been one of a blend of environment and labour. A quick glance through their material (and having heard them speak at last summer’s Democratic National Convention and an energy conference) invokes patriotic pride. This is to say that it communicates through the right channel.

If coal miners are most concerned with their job security, then clean-burning coal turned into a competitive industry option will attract more attention for that reason, and less directly for reasons of environmental cleanliness. It’s a sustainable job either way, and both sides are excited for it. So too with wind and solar power gaining grants and therefore proposals from engineers and construction.

This is mimicked in the formation of the Nova Scotia Environment and Labour. Interestingly, it is next to impossible to navigate to anything mentioning energy science or policy, or greenhouse gas emissions. But the grouping of bodies is still wise for getting things done.

Back to the bill. There were criticism that came from all over the scope… The top Democrat on the Energy Committee, Sen. Jeff Bingham, praised the passage of the bill but said more must be done to tap the potential of renewable energy, address global warming and use less oil from overseas. Rep. Edward J. Markey said much of the same, highlighting the lack of boosts for renewables over fossil fuels, and called the bill “a historic failure.”

So for all the bill promised vis-à-vis a Stronger America, there was no help for tax incentives for renewable energy resources, a renewable electricity standard, reducing our dependence on foreign oil, reducing global warming, and installing a federal ban on MTBE. Anna Aurilio of U.S. PIRG doubted that the dependency and linkages to dirty sources and foreign sources of energy would be weakened by the bill.

With the Apollo Alliance, it is impossible to say whether or not there has been a mis-step. The Death of Environmentalism paper (see some background here) heralds the Alliance as a breakthrough of the ilk desperately needed to keep environmentalism from slipping into the mechanisms of science and society it is trying to re-define. With such attention to The Markets as the solution, and a host of proponents springing up to do combat with Market Tools, it is expected that such a group would gain so much applause and perform so well… they boast and attractive track record. TIME magazine runs articles like this one all the time, as does Newsweek and cohorts.

One hopes that the sentiment for Americana doesn’t blind people (like me a week or two ago) to fall in step with the Yankee Ingenuity spirit and disregard the poor oversights that bills like this one offer in spades.

Free Trip to DC

Monday, July 11th, 2005

The ambitiously-named Stop Global Warming .org site has declared a Virtual March on Washington… somehow, part of me still yearns for the days of real Marches on the Hill. Virtual Marches can be ignored if you don’t have a computer, has anybody thought of that?