Politics & News & peace
28 Jan 2007 06:30 pm
Greens March For Peace
Hundreds of Greens took part in Saturday’s march against the war. Greens from Illinois, Maine, Virginia, Florida and other states rallied at McPherson Square before the demonstration and then marched to the mall. Maryland Greens were well represented.
Many other Greens marched with local groups or (true to the Green grassroot democracy) dispersed among the crowd.
The Green Party table was busy with people signing up for information, buying flags, shirts, or bumper stickers.
I was approached by numerous people in the crowd looking for the “Green Party; Peace Party” flags. Unfortunately, our supply ran out before the requests did.
Rob Savidge from the Anne Arundel local reported for community radio station WRYR, which also webcast their live feed around the country. Around 100,000 people marched; others cheered from the sidelines, like the Iraqi Veterans against the war. The crowd was very diverse, including all ages and persuasions. It was a heartfelt demonstration against an unjust and illegal war.
GREEN PARTY! PEACE PARTY!
Biofuels and the Limits of Growth
Biofuels are all the rage lately–our ticket to oil independence. But in a world that is struggling to provide enough food for its population and, lately, losing the struggle, any significant biofuel prorgram will have to compete for resources with other agricultural pursuits. Already some of the more fragile ecosystems are being destroyed by the rush into biofuels.
In West Africa the biggest new cause of deforestation in many regions is the conversion of land into biofuel crop production. The land rush to establish biofuel plantations in developing nations is one of the most intense the world has ever seen. Millions of square miles could be turned into biofuel plantations in the tropics, and the impact this will have on global rainfall and global temperatures is incalculable.
Deforestation and drought are causing a steady advance of deserts in northern Africa. There is a clear link between deforestation and drought, particularly in West Africa, as cited in the MIT study “Desertification, Deforestation and Drought,” where they demonstrate that deforestation along the southern coast of West Africa (e.g., in Nigeria, Ghana and Ivory Coast) may result in complete collapse of monsoon circulation, and a significant reduction of regional rainfall. Connections between deforestation and drought are well established throughout the tropics.
Moreover, the rush to deforest the tropics to grow biofuel - cassava in Nigeria, sugar cane in Brazil, oil palms in Indonesia - is a form of neocolonialism that Greens should find horrifying. Tariff barriers are being streamlined to allow tropical developing nations to export biofuel to the industrial north, food crops are being crowded out, small farmers are unable to participate, and in 100 square mile increments, land ownership passes into the hands of energy multinationals. And weather patterns take a turn for the worse.
The limits of growth are real and unavoidable; and now it would seem that the international economic market–that has no way to quantify things like the environment or, more importantly, the future, is pursuing renewable energy in possibly the most self destructive manner possible.
Ultimately we must reconcile ourselves to the reality of a low energy future.
Majority Voting (IRV) Gains More Support
From Ballot Access News:
Vermont Secretary of State Deb Markowitz is asking the Vermont legislature to pass a bill that would let Vermont use Instant-Runoff Voting for one or two particular state offices in the future. The legislature will decide which offices. Markowitz then plans to use a hand-count for whichever offices are chosen. She feels this is the only practical solution, since each Vermont town decides for itself which vote-counting technology to use.
1,000 Soldier Petition Congress for Redress
Active duty service members and veterens will present an Appeal for Redress to Congressman Dennis Kucinich today. Over 1,000 active duty service members have signed the petition, urging an end to the U.S. Military occupation of Iraq.
Kucinich has introduced a Sense of Congress resolution in the House urging the President not to increase the number of troops in Iraq.
Members of the military have a legal right to communicate with their member of Congress without fear of harrassment from their superiors.
Let’s look at the actual numbers.
The highest coalition troop levels in Iraq were at the end of 2005 when there were 160,000 US troops and 23,000 coalition troops.
We couldn’d sustain that level, though, and by summer 2006 we were down to 130,000 US troops.
After the first surge this fall, we were back up to 140,000 US troops. But the number of coalition troops had dropped to 18,000.
Now we’re going to send 21,000 US troops, which barely puts us over where we were in December 2005. At the same time the British will be withdrawing 3,000 troops.
All in all, we end up with 7,000 fewer troops than in December 2005.
We couldn’t sustain that level for long then, how will we sustain it now?
We weren’t winning then, how can we win now?
January 10, 2007
My Favorite Green Lump
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
All environmentalists have their favorite “green” energy source that they think will break our addiction to oil and slow down climate change. I’ve come out to Montana to see mine. It’s called coal.
Yes, yes, I know, you thought I was going to say corn ethanol or switch grass or soybean diesel. Well, one day they all might reach a scale that can get us off oil. But the cheap, available fuel that China, India and America all have in abundance today — and are all going to burn for the next decade — is coal. So unless we can burn coal in a cleaner way, you can kiss the climate goodbye — we’ll all be wearing bikinis and shorts in Manhattan in January.
When it comes to what it will take to “green” coal, there’s no more informed or intrepid tour guide than Montana’s Democratic governor, Brian Schweitzer. The governor, a bulldozer of a man, met me in Billings in his little prop plane, we flew into a winter gale that tossed us around like salad pieces, and then we set down on a makeshift runway in Colstrip, on the edge of a coal strip mine. On the way back, after flying through another howling storm that caused me to dig my nails so deeply into the armrests I left my fingerprints in the leather, I thanked the pilots profusely. The governor simply bellowed, “I’m glad we had our best interns flying today!”
When it comes to cleaning up coal, though, Governor Schweitzer is dead serious.
“Here in Montana we make our living outside,” said the governor, an agronomist who got his start building farms in Saudi Arabia, “and when you do that, you know the climate is changing. We don’t get as much snow in the high country as we used to … and the runoff starts sooner in the spring. … The river I’ve been fishing over the last 50 years is now warmer in July by five degrees than 50 years ago, and it is hard on our trout population. … So when Exxon Mobil hires someone who calls himself a ‘scientist’ to claim this is not true, you don’t have to get The New York Times to know the guy is blowing smoke.”
But here’s what the governor also knows: Montana has one-third of all the coal deposits in America — 8 percent of all the coal in the world. Montana’s coal is roughly equivalent to 240 billion barrels of oil. “That’s enough to replace all our imported oil for 60 years,” he noted.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that because of global warming — fueled in part by carbon dioxide emissions from coal-burning electricity plants — the only way we’ll be able to use all those coal reserves is if we can burn coal without emitting the CO2. Otherwise we’re cooked, literally.
So Governor Schweitzer’s crusade is to get the coal-burning industries to take the lead on this, in partnership with government. The governor recalled a recent conference of coal-dependent industries, held in Phoenix, at which he held up a lump of coal and warned: “You are the people who represent the companies who will decide whether I’m holding up the future of energy or the past. Take a look at all the other people sitting at your table. You know who you see? You see the last remaining people on the planet who don’t believe CO2 is a problem. … The only way you will make this the energy of the future is to recognize C02 as a problem and that you have to be part of the solution.” And by the way, he added, “there is a lot of money in it for you guys. You can sell this technology all over the world.”
Governor Schweitzer has a plan for Washington: 1) Set a floor price for crude oil in the U.S. at $40 a barrel forever. That will tell Wall Street that if it invests in new, clean coal technologies — which can be run profitably at the equivalent of $40 a barrel — OPEC will never undercut them. 2) Set up a European-style cap and trade system rewarding companies that buy clean coal technologies and punishing those that don’t. 3) Have Washington co-invest in a dozen pilot gasification and liquefaction technologies — which already exist — for cleaning coal and sequestering the carbon dioxide. Then we’ll identify the best technologies quicker and move down the innovation curve. 4) Write the regulations now for how we will manage carbon dioxide that is removed from coal and stored underground.
As we talked, four smokestacks from the coal-fired electricity plant in Colstrip, which helps power Portland and Seattle, were belching CO2.
“For the last 100 years we built plants like this one,” the governor said. “It takes crushed coal, ignites it to heat water that produces steam, and that turns a turbine and produces electricity. … You build that smoke stack real high so that nasty stuff goes to someone else’s backyard. Well, we’ve run out of backyards.”
Al Wynn Makes An Appearance
I went to a candlelight vigil in Rockville yesterday, sponsored by Peace Action Montgomery. We had around 30 people attend, held a short ceremony, and then held candles and signs near the intersection of Rockville Pike and Viers Mill Road.
The response from the rush hour crowd was quite positive; we received a steady stream of hinks and waves and thank yous.
The most pleasant surprise was the appearance of Congressman Al Wynn, along with two of his aids. Congressman Wynn assured us that the Democrats realized the importance of Iraq in the recent election and that congressional Democrats would work to bring the troops home. He stayed for nearly an hour holding a candle and sign with us.
This is a hopeful sign that the Democrats will do something. Earlier in the day House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev notified Bush that “We are well past the point of more troops for Iraq,” and urged Bush to begin pulling troops out in four to six months.
Now we need to keep up the pressure so that they don’t forget.
The “Surge” is a Political Move, Not a Military Moves
NBC News pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski reports that an administration official admitted to him that the surge option is more of a political decision than a military one.
Only weeks ago, CentCom commander Gen. John Abizaid testified to Congress;
I met with every divisional commander, General Casey, the corps commander, General Dempsey, we all talked together. And I said, in your professional opinion, if we were to bring in more American Troops now, does it add considerably to our ability to achieve success in Iraq? And they all said no
It’s almost unbelieveable that the administration would turn to a temporary military fix–that will only worsten problems–as a political ploy to shore up support for the war. As usual with this aminisatration, there is no answer to the question, “Then what?” Congress must act to stop this madness.
Military Times: The Military Losing Faith in the War
Military Times Magazine reports that it’s annual survey shows U.S. military personnel growing increasingly skeptical about the war in Iraq.
Only 50% thought that success was likely, down from 83% in 2004. Only 35% approve of the way Geroge Bush is handling the war; 42% disapprove. 41% said that the country should have gone to war in Iraq, down from 65% in 2003. Nearly half of those polled think that we need more troops in Iraq; however 13% think we should have no troops in Iraq, and nearly three quarters think that the military is stretched too thin.
Although, Bush retains an overall positive job approval at 52%, support for the Republican Party has dropped from 60% to 46%. Democrats have not gained, however, still hovering around 16% support.
The poll was conducted among subscribers to the Military Times, who tend to be older, more career oriented soldiers.