Category: Environment

Living without air conditioning – again.

| August 17, 2015 | 1 Reply

I was happy to see that my electric bill for July in St. Louis was a relatively low $120. That includes all of my electric bill, which heats my water and runs the air conditioning. Some would say that I don’t do a very good job of air conditioning. When I’m living at my house without any guests, I never set it lower than 80 degrees (far higher than many people I know), and I supplement that 80 degree setting with fans. It feels great in here, and it all makes sense to me–if someone said that the high temperature was going to be only 80, that would be a wonderful day. Further, when I’m going to be mostly in my office for the day, I shut off the AC entirely and use only a small window unit.

When I got my recent bill, I was in a mood to congratulate myself, but a recent article in The Boston Globe suggests that I’m not doing nearly enough. Here’s an excerpt:

But although there are a handful of anti-A/C crusaders out there, the idea that we need to be using less of it hasn’t become a touchstone of environmental enlightenment, like recycling or hybrid cars. This may well be an indication of how deeply it has shaped our world: While we can imagine giving up plastic bags and Styrofoam, living without climate control seems unfathomable, especially during a heat wave.

Until recently, however, civilization was humming along just fine without this costly convenience—and going back might not be as impossible as we think. The human body is quite well suited to deal with heat if we let it, and if we back away just a little bit from our assumptions about what it means to be comfortable, it’s easy to picture an alternate reality in which, instead of flipping on the freon at the slightest provocation, we learn to cope with the air we have. The human body is surprisingly adaptable, and by weaving together techniques from the past, ideas from hot-weather countries, and new findings from building design experts about what people actually find comfortable, we can see a surprising portrait emerge of what life might look like if we, as a society, decided we could no longer afford our addiction.

A lot would have to change. We’d wake up earlier, and nap in the middle of the day to make up for it. We’d ride bikes and scooters everywhere, and swimming would replace running as the preferred form of exercise. Maybe we’d see the return of porch culture—of screened-in card games and flowing iced tea. And maybe we’d start taking pride in tricking out our finished basements. After a while we’d get used to it, just like we got used to the artificial indoor chill we take for granted now. And who knows—eventually we might even come to like it.

Oh, and my favorite quote from this excellent article: “We’re not cartons of milk, after all; we will not spoil, even if we do sweat a little.”


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Alberta Tar Sands Disaster

| June 30, 2015 | 4 Replies

Stunning, shocking video. We’ve GOT to get off of carbon fuel. Albert tar sands area is already bigger than England. “The mass extraction of fossil fuels from our earth does untold amounts of damage. Yet, many still deny that the damage being done by the oil industry is anything to be concerned about. If you ever doubted the amount of damage being done by the oil industry, just watch this video.”


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Matt Taibbi on why free market fundamentalists attack the Pope.

| June 29, 2015 | Reply

Matt Tiabbi on why the Pope’s environmental message is making many conservatives angry:

That the pope’s letter inspires such hysterical stupidities speaks to how deeply upsetting it must be to our guardians of mainstream opinion. But what exactly has all of these people so upset?
To me, all of this speaks to the weirdly cultist, neo-Randian, Road to Serfdom vibe that is increasingly swallowing up the American cultural and intellectual mainstream.

Capitalism and competition aren’t merely thought of as utilitarian systems for delivering goods and services to people anymore. To people like Brooks and Rand Paul and Charles Murray (also known as Jeb Bush’s favorite author), the free market is also a sort of religion that can address every important human question.

We used to think of wealth and spirituality as being two completely separate things. But in the minds of some in modern America, they’re becoming fused. The way Brooks and others clearly imagine it, one achieves wealth first, then dignity follows behind. We’re losing the ability to imagine a dignified life without money. Which is pretty messed up.
In the past, it was completely natural for a religious leader like a pope to suggest that our economic system leaves important spiritual questions unanswered. After all, that’s what religion was supposed to be for, addressing the non-material parts of our lives. But in modern times, this idea offends many people.

Hence this bizarre wave of criticism directed against an elderly cleric in a funny hat who is being blasted for being impractical, unrealistic and insufficiently appreciative of the material, despite the fact that it’s precisely a pope’s job to be all of these things.

I’m not religious, and I’m not particularly a Luddite or an anti-capitalist. But I’m open to the idea that there should be something else in life beyond money, or that we may be losing something important when we communicate by clicks and drags instead of face-to-face meetings. Is that really such revolutionary thinking, especially coming from a pope? It seems like such a strange thing to get angry about.


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The real risk of terrorism – compared to other risks

| June 11, 2015 | 3 Replies

What is the real risk of an American dying of terrorism? This article presents numbers that put things in perspective. The numbers are based off these statistics offered by the CDC.

Comparing the CDC numbers to terrorism deaths means:

– You are 35,079 times more likely to die from heart disease than from a terrorist attack

– You are 33,842 times more likely to die from cancer than from a terrorist attack

– You are 4,311 times more likely to die from diabetes than from a terrorist attack

– You are 3,157 times more likely to die from flu or pneumonia than from a terrorist attack

– You are 2,091 times more likely to die from blood poisoning than from a terrorist attack

– You are 1,064 times more likely to die as your lungs swell up after your food or beverage goes down the wrong pipe.


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Environmental Working Group – Sustainable Food Guide

| June 10, 2015 | Reply

Environmental Working Group’s Sustainable Food Guide is here, free.

Find sustainable stores, farmer’s market’s, CSA’s, co-op’s, restaurants and more in your choice of zip code.


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The belief in inevitable progress as magic thinking

| June 7, 2015 | 3 Replies

From Chris Hedges at Truthdig:

The naive belief that history is linear, that moral progress accompanies technical progress, is a form of collective self-delusion. It cripples our capacity for radical action and lulls us into a false sense of security. Those who cling to the myth of human progress, who believe that the world inevitably moves toward a higher material and moral state, are held captive by power. Only those who accept the very real possibility of dystopia, of the rise of a ruthless corporate totalitarianism, buttressed by the most terrifying security and surveillance apparatus in human history, are likely to carry out the self-sacrifice necessary for revolt.

The yearning for positivism that pervades our corporate culture ignores human nature and human history. But to challenge it, to state the obvious fact that things are getting worse, and may soon get much worse, is to be tossed out of the circle of magical thinking that defines American and much of Western culture. The left is as infected with this mania for hope as the right. It is a mania that obscures reality even as global capitalism disintegrates and the ecosystem unravels, potentially dooming us all.


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Is NASA’s launch site at risk to go underwater? Science Denying Senator Ted Cruz doesn’t want to know.

| March 13, 2015 | Reply

This is what you get when you empower climate change deniers. Ted Cruz wants NASA to quit gathering data regarding threats to the Earth’s climate. Here’s how NASA Administrator Bolden responded to Cruz:

We can’t go anywhere if the Kennedy Space Center goes underwater and we don’t know it – and that’s understanding our environment. As Senator Nelson said, it is absolutely critical that we understand Earth’s environment because this is the only place that we have to live.


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Lee Camp takes on apathy

| March 6, 2015 | Reply

Lee camp takes on apathy. In fact, he advocates for a “war on apathy.”

Camp is on a roll. Check out his harpooning of Willie Soon, climate change denier expert who has been on the take from the fossil fuel industry without disclosing this inconvenient fact.


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Lee Camp’s Latest

| October 23, 2014 | Reply

Lee Camp’s latest. I really admire and enjoy his videos. Too bad so many of us have to reach for comedy to get real news, however.


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