Desalinization Plants — Why not?

May 14, 2009

Apparently there’s quite a lot of hoopla going on over in Carlesbad, CA, about the idea of a desalinization plant.  Despite the fact that Southern California is on water rationing and imports a good deal of its water from other places, people are offended by the notion.  Some are honest and say they think it will be ugly and industrial, while others try to use the Environment as their defense.  This is to debunk the nonsense.

With global warming, ice masses are melting down into the ocean, diluting the salinity levels.  In the bigger picture, we don’t actually use up water anyway.  It serves as host to the vast majority of our chemical interactions, but the water comes right back on out of our bodies, evaporates from our swimming pools, goes into the water table from our lawns… By our hand, matter is neither created nor destroyed, it simply changes form and location.  So what’s the big deal?  Can it really be harming the environment?  No, not really.  The salt can be iodized and used… same as if it were being dredged up from an inland salt flat (which is Mother Nature’s own desalinization plant.)

The real issues are being ignored, while people worry their heads over a “not in my back yard” issue.  Desalinization plants are being made and used all over the planet, with or without the U.S.’ permission.  Instead of worrying about separating salt from water in oceans that are rising and becoming more dilute anyway, how about we look at why a  representative from Guam is chairman of environmental issues here in the United States, instigating laws that will affect the mainland while having no true bearing on a non-state on the other side of the world?  Since when do territories get a vote or say in what we do here in the 50 states anyway?

There’s no sound reason to object to properly operated desalinization plants.  As the saying goes, there are far bigger fish to fry anyway.

GOP: Drill, baby, drill. DEM: Burn, baby, Burn. What’s the difference?

May 13, 2009

Colorado’s Senator, Michael Bennet, was appointed to fill the vacancy made when Ken Salizar was appointed to be Secretary of the Interior. Mr. Salizar is also receiving less than glowing grades from us.  (See other recent posts.) Bennet, who was formerly a Denver Public School superintendent, graduated from the Yale  School of Law.  Senator Bennet’s recent statements indicate that he’s very much in favor of using natural gas as the new oil alternative. Allow me to retort:

The new motto is clearly “Burn, baby, burn!” These “representatives” aren’t looking for non-combustion solutions. They’re not leading us towards energy technologies that are renewable or free. They’re moving us from oil to natural gas, and not terribly quickly either. They claim that natural gas is less expensive… but for how long? When vehicles start increasing the demand, of course, then THAT commodity’s prices will rise. (Propane and CNG already go up with winter heating fuel’s demands.) In the final analysis, we’ll be no better off than we were before, except that we’ll be slaves to a gas supplier instead.

Natural gas may burn clean(er). Perhaps there’s more gas left than oil (though it may not have started that way 100 years ago.) But we’re still talking apples and oranges. Cars use a lot more natural gas than gasoline to get a mile down the road, so we don’t really know what the practical comparison may end up being.

What we DO know is that solar, wind and tide generation of electricty does not pollute, is entirely inexhaustible, and can cost a fraction of what pulling gas out of the ground costs, in the long run.  So why aren’t our elected representatives rallying behind these ecologically sound energy sources? In a word, MONEY. Gas comes out of the ground cheaply once found, and is sold for huge profits. Meanwhile, alternative energy technologies require larger up-front investments, and provide slower returns on that investment.  Perhaps even more importantly, alternative energy resources hold potential for the everyman to be producing his own energy, sans tax or profit. Government officials and energy sellers are both against that idea.

First we had the Republicans crying out “Drill, baby, drill,” as their mantra.  Now we’ve traded them in for pseudo-ecologist Democrats who suggest “Burn, baby, burn!” is a good thing.  Both are twin sons of different mothers, and neither has any intention of leading us to true energy independence.  Meanwhile, concerns like “Energy Tomorrow” and the Pickens Plan keep on telling us about the virtues of (burning) natural gas in our combustion engines, and doing a lot of flag-waving about the economy.   Long-term investments in alternative energy can yield us energy for a fraction of what we’re paying now, and provide us with greater prosperity, but that wouldn’t please the power brokers, now would it?

The reign of oil mogul George W. Bush, is over; Now is the time of the Democrats.  The King is dead — Long live the King! Trading “Drill, baby, drill” for “Burn, baby, burn!” doesn’t seem like much of an improvement.  The supposed advantage is that we’re not sending money overseas, but other countries supply us with natural gas too. From this writer’s perspective, the difference that makes no difference is no difference.  Is this is the change we voted for?

Wrong Tool, Dull Tool, or No Tool?

May 8, 2009

The Obama administration, which promised to be the most outspoken defender of wildlife and wild spaces since Teddy Roosevelt, seems to be falling far short of the mark at the hands of Secretary Salizar.  Though they started off strong by rescinding the last-minute oil leases the Bush administration had rubber-stamped, the track record since then hasn’t been terribly favorable.  In fact, it could be said to be unconcerned.

The latest in this trend is Salizar’s statement that the Endangered Species Act’s protections are the wrong tools to be using against global warming.  He said this in response to concerns about the polar bears.  The problem, Mr. Salizar, is that the bears themselves need something done NOW, not when you get around to curing global warming.    In fact, they’re one of the reasons we care about global warming.  So get a tool, any tool, and get at doing SOMEthing.  I’ll take the ESA as one. Or are you too dull a tool yourself?

If that seems overly harsh, realize that Mr. Salizar’s administration has also actively thwarted the efforts of several falconers to propagate species of eagles nad falcons.  These well-intended raptor enthusiasts want to spend their own money to import and breed the birds in captivity, ensuring their genetic survival.  But the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s CITES office prefers to respond by harassing them, burying them in paperwork for well  over 6 months, when that same CITES paperwork is routinely completed by other countries in a matter of minutes.   That’s just one of the many flaws and holes emerging in the Salizar story.

They say “The buck stops here.”  In Mr. Salizar’s case, we’re left to wonder if he knows what the buck is, or even where it starts… and this writer begins to worry that perhaps we didn’t get the change we voted for after all.

Green Festivals A Hit!

May 4, 2009

Across America this summer, you’ll be seeing Green Festivals.  Seattle’s was March 28th and 29th.  We just had one in Denver on May 2nd and 3rd, and another is scheduled in Chicago for May 16th and 17th.  DC has theirs October 10th and 11th, San Francisco’s is November 13-15.  It’s an exciting concept that is taking hold!

What exactly is a Green Festival?  A convention of sorts, where people can share ideas and products that make the world a greener place to be.  Everything from bicycles (and e-bikes) to energy-efficient gizmos and kitchen gadgets, to the latest in solar, hydro and wind generators, insulation, etc. — it’s all there, and it’s all about going Green(er)!

Is some of this just about selling you stuff?  You betcha, it is!  And some of it may seem pretty overpriced.  Then again, riding a bike instead of driving, using a manual can-opener instead of an electric one, things like this actually SAVE you money — a LOT of money, if you think about it!

By the way, you don’t need to wait and drive to attend one of those Green Festivals.  This is grass-roots.  There’s nothing wrong with having your own Green Festival right there in your home town.  Talk about recycling (which starts at home, by reusing the containers, for example.)  Talk about more energy-efficient vehicles, electronics, construction techniques.  Talk about generating your own electricity passively, with non-combustion means.  Talk about bringing your own reuseable bags rather than taking them home from the grocery store so they can become a mess in the land fills, lakes, streams and oceans of the world.  Think local and global, but act locally.  These are changes you can make, and you can make a very real difference!

We’re very pleased to see Green Festivals.  They show us that the message is taking hold, that people really are taking Going Green seriously, that changes are in the works and we’re learning, walking the talk!   Let’s keep on rolling towards a Green country and planet!

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