Al Gore’s Speech Accepting The Nobel Peace Prize

December 10th, 2007

Click the link to read the whole thing. These words are the most powerful to me, though.

Seeing the Forest: Al Gore Speech Accepting The Nobel Peace Prize

Mahatma Gandhi awakened the largest democracy on earth and forged a shared resolve with what he called “Satyagraha” — or “truth force.”

In every land, the truth — once known — has the power to set us free.

Truth also has the power to unite us and bridge the distance between “me” and “we,” creating the basis for common effort and shared responsibility.

There is an African proverb that says, “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” We need to go far, quickly.

We must abandon the conceit that individual, isolated, private actions are the answer. They can and do help. But they will not take us far enough without collective action. At the same time, we must ensure that in mobilizing globally, we do not invite the establishment of ideological conformity and a new lock-step “ism.”

That means adopting principles, values, laws, and treaties that release creativity and initiative at every level of society in multifold responses originating concurrently and spontaneously.

This new consciousness requires expanding the possibilities inherent in all humanity. The innovators who will devise a new way to harness the sun’s energy for pennies or invent an engine that’s carbon negative may live in Lagos or Mumbai or Montevideo. We must ensure that entrepreneurs and inventors everywhere on the globe have the chance to change the world.

Asshats

December 5th, 2007


Not my asshat neighbor’s trees, but I didn’t get time to get a picutre of them before the chainsaws arrived today.

Just when I start being nice enough to wave at the asshat next door, he’s having his cypress trees removed today.

Some people just make it impossible for me to do more than barely tolerate their existence.

Sigh. I’m sure karma will avenge me, and all that, but –

Some people are just never gonna get it.

Well, time to make a donation for one of those tree planting groups, and plant some fresh carbon suckers.

At least I don’t have to pay the jerk’s air conditioning bills.

Come on, someone make me feel better about this somehow….

Never Rains in Southern California

November 30th, 2007

But today, it does!!!! We’re getting rain!! Yay!!!!

Of course I just had all the carpets and floors cleaned yesterday….

I guess if you want rain, you have to clean something. At least I’m not getting the carpets done today when it would take forever to dry out again. And I trusted my instincts and brought all the area rugs back in last night, even the not completely dry ones, so they aren’t out getting all wet.

Guess it’s time for California’s mudslide season…

Wildfire destroys homes above Malibu

November 24th, 2007

Wow. You know it’s really dry in SoCal when wildfire season runs this late. Normally we would have had some rain by now. But with a La Nina year, we may not see much rain at all this winter, which would mean next year will be even worse.

Wildfire destroys homes above Malibu – Yahoo! News

A fast-moving wildfire destroyed about 20 homes and spread through the canyons and hills above Malibu on Saturday, forcing hundreds of residents to flee.

No injuries were reported.

The blaze, feeding on brush and trees and driven by the dry Santa Ana wind, began shortly before 3:30 a.m. PST near Malibu Lake on state park land and burned roughly 1,500 acres in about five hours, said Los Angeles County fire Capt. Mike Brown.

Fire officials estimated about 20 homes had been destroyed, but the exact number was not known. The cause of the fire had not been determined.

Prayers for Bangladesh….

November 15th, 2007

These days certainly are way too much like the 70s. Let’s have more than a concert for them this time.

Wunder Blog : Weather Underground

Tropical Cyclone Sidr made landfall at 1430 GMT in western Bangladesh as a mighty Category 4 storm with 150 mph winds. Sidr is the second strongest cyclone to make landfall in Bangladesh since reliable record keeping began in 1877. The only stronger storm was the 1991 Bangladesh Cyclone, which struck eastern Bangladesh as a Category 5 cyclone. The 30 foot storm surge of that storm killed at least 140,000 people. Sidr is the Arabic word for the the jujube tree.

More from Chris Mooney at The Intersection:

The Joint Typhoon Warning Center finally gave in and rated the storm at 135 knots–or 155 mile per hour winds. This is the cutoff for Category 5. There may be some weakening by landfall, but what we’re expecting is a borderline Cat 4/Cat 5 striking along the path shown above. You’ve gotta figure the storm surge is going to be more than 20 feet. There are supposed to be vertical evacuations in Bangladesh, but I just don’t know what’s happening on the ground….

And from CNN:

Hundreds of thousands of coastal villagers sought shelter inland Thursday as a tropical cyclone — accompanied by strong winds, heavy rainfall and high waves — started battering Bangladesh’s southwestern shores, officials said.

Residents of Barisal, Bangladesh, shelter against the rain Thursday as Tropical Cyclone Sidr approaches.

Tropical Cyclone Sidr was centered nearly 93 miles (150 kilometers) south of Mongla port at 6 p.m. local time (7 a.m. ET) in the Bay of Bengal off the Khulna-Barisal coast, said Shahjahan Alam at the Meteorological Department in the capital, Dhaka.

Sustaining winds up to 149 mph (240 kilometers per hour), the storm was likely to make landfall late Thursday near the Sundarbans mangrove forests in Khulna district, 85 miles (136 kilometers) southwest of Dhaka, Alam added. He warned of flooding from possible storm surges as high as 20 feet (6 meters).

Volunteers helped evacuate thousands of people Wednesday from the coast and the government warned ships to seek shelter as the cyclone roared offshore.

And from the BBC, here’s hope that they were way more prepared for this one:

But Mr Karmakar added that most of the five million people living in the area should already have been evacuated or have taken cover in cyclone shelters or government buildings.

Operations have been suspended at the main ports of Mongla and Chittagong.

The southern seaside resort town of Cox’s Bazar appeared to be deserted after the cyclone warning was issued on Wednesday evening, reports said.

Southern Bangladesh is often hit by cyclones, but experts say the latest one is a category four storm, the most powerful so far in the season.

Bangladesh developed a network of cyclone shelters and a storm early warning system, after a cyclone killed more than 500,000 people in 1970.

Casualties from cyclones has been significantly reduced as a result, officials say.

Cyclone Sidr approaching Bangladesh

November 14th, 2007

Sheril R. Kirshenbaum at The Intersection:

On August 28, 2005, I had a sinking feeling in my stomach. Like so many, I felt helpless understanding the devastation that would ensue in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast from Hurricane Katrina. Just over two years later, I have that same feeling.

Because Bangladesh is one of the low-laying regions most at risk from sea level rise, as a marine biologist I’m all too familiar with how vulnerable it is to flooding and storm surges. It’s also one of the most densely populated countries and – as Chris has expressed – I fear this storm may be a worst case scenario. It’s my sincere hope that we’re mistaken.

I don’t understand why we haven’t been hearing more in the news about Sidr’s approaching landfall and what’s taking place on the ground in Bangladesh to protect as many as possible. What we can do now, at least, is prepare to come together, organize, and ready ourselves to provide aid. As we approach Thanksgiving in the United States, I hope readers will open their hearts to those on the other side of the world who will need our help most.

Al Gore is determined to fund the future

November 12th, 2007

One way or another. The Supremes kept him from doing it as president, but this man will always find another way, it seems.

Good for you, Mr. Gore!

Al Gore joins famed Silicon Valley venture capital firm | Reuters

In a career marked by second acts, Al Gore, the former vice president of the United States and co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, is becoming a partner at Silicon Valley’s most storied venture capital firm.

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers said on Monday that Gore, a campaigner for action to slow global climate change, will join the Menlo Park, California-based venture capital firm as a partner focused on alternative energy investments.

The venture firm, which since 1972 has backed seminal computer start-ups ranging from Sun Microsystems to Compaq Computer to Amazon.com to Google Inc, has emerged in recent years as a leading funder of alternative energy companies.

Gore, 59, is joining the Kleiner board as part of a collaboration between his Generation Investment Management fund and Kleiner Perkins to fund so-called “green” business, technology and policies that address global climate change.

The Enormous Cost of NOT Going Green

November 10th, 2007

OK, today I need a blog called What Devilstower Said.

This is getting ridiculous. ;^) But then, I really enjoy it when everyone else is starting to say all the things I’ve been spouting for years. My husband was really getting sick of listening to my rants. It’s only taken seven years for most people to realize what was obvious to me was going to happen from the beginning. My biggest personal regret is the friends I lost who thought I was crazy and stopped talking to me because they couldn’t accept that Bush and company really would make things this bad. Of course, they won’t bother admitting it now, either.

Americans have needed a wake up call for a long time now, since the seventies when it first really became obvious to some of us that we needed to change the way we live in this country. Going off the gold standard and starting the long downward spiral into debt, cutting deals with the Saudis, could only save us from the reckoning for so long. Unfortunately, we’re about to get it. In spades. Even compact fluorescent lights aren’t going to save us — it’s too little, too late to save us from the choices we made in creating the sprawlconomy.

And here’s yet another great posting on what’s really going down.

Daily Kos: The Enormous Cost of NOT Going Green

It’s impossible to put forward any energy plan, no matter how mild, without facing a deafening chorus of “it’ll cost too much!” That’s the ultimate tool of the burn-everything status quo, the idea that any attempt to limit the damage we’re doing to the world would be so costly that it would sink our economic ship.

But even ignoring the fact that conservative policies celebrating unregulated greed have now brought us to the edge of the biggest economic abyss in a hundred years, there’s something left out of all those dire warnings about the cost of going green. It’s the enormous cost of not going green.

High oil prices are fueling one of the biggest transfers of wealth in history. Oil consumers are paying $4 billion to $5 billion more for crude oil every day than they did just five years ago, pumping more than $2 trillion into the coffers of oil companies and oil-producing nations this year alone.

The total US national debt just hit the $9 trillion mark this week — a value that seems so large as to be incomprehensible. It will take generations to repay even if logical fiscal policies are restored. Yet it’s less than five years worth of what we’re pumping out of our country to preserve the oil industry. $2 trillion is a year is the price we pay for utter cowardice in changing our relationship to energy.

We shy away from changing how we make cars, because we’re concerned about jobs in the auto industry. We hesitate to halt destructive energy extraction, because we worry about trickle of revenue it generates. We never acknowledge that the price of preserving the status quo far exceeds what it would take to break free of the current paradigm. Faced with eminent starvation, we can’t stop fighting over the last can of beans long enough to plant a garden.

Here’s the deal. Terrorism is not the challenge of our lifetimes. Changing our relationship with energy is the challenge we have to face right now.

In the United States, the rising bill for imported petroleum lowers already anemic consumer savings rates, adds to inflation, worsens the trade deficit, undermines the dollar and makes it more difficult for the Federal Reserve to balance its competing goals of fighting inflation and sustaining growth.

Thirty five years ago, energy companies campaigned that we would all “freeze in the dark” if the Clean Air Act was passed. They were wrong. Now they want to tell you that we’ll all be broke if we try to sever their control over our lives. They’re wrong again. Unless we shake our timidity, twenty years from now they’ll be looking down at a ruined world from the top of their mile-high skyscrapers in Dubai. And they’ll be thinking “Lord, what suckers they were to fall for that.”

Everything old is new again

November 7th, 2007

I ran across this quote today in Kim Stanley Robinson’s “Sixty Days and Counting”. How true it is again today.

Franklin D. Roosevelt: Acceptance Speech for the Renomination for the Presidency, Philadelphia, Pa. – June 27th, 1936

It was natural and perhaps human that the privileged princes of these new economic dynasties, thirsting for power, reached out for control over Government itself. They created a new despotism and wrapped it in the robes of legal sanction. In its service new mercenaries sought to regiment the people, their labor, and their property. And as a result the average man once more confronts the problem that faced the Minute Man.

The savings of the average family, the capital of the small business man, the investments set aside for old age—other people’s money—these were tools which the new economic royalty used to dig itself in.

Those who tilled the soil no longer reaped the rewards which were their right. The small measure of their gains was decreed by men in distant cities.

Throughout the Nation, opportunity was limited by monopoly. Individual initiative was crushed in the cogs of a great machine. The field open for free business was more and more restricted. Private enterprise, indeed, became too private. It became privileged enterprise, not free enterprise.

An old English judge once said: “Necessitous men are not free men.” Liberty requires opportunity to make a living—a living decent according to the standard of the time, a living which gives man not only enough to live by, but something to live for.

For too many of us the political equality we once had won was meaningless in the face of economic inequality. A small group had concentrated into their own hands an almost complete control over other people’s property, other people’s money, other people’s labor—other people’s lives. For too many of us life was no longer free; liberty no longer real; men could no longer follow the pursuit of happiness.

Against economic tyranny such as this, the American citizen could appeal only to the organized power of Government.

The royalists of the economic order have conceded that political freedom was the business of the Government, but they have maintained that economic slavery was nobody’s business. They granted that the Government could protect the citizen in his right to vote, but they denied that the Government could do anything to protect the citizen in his right to work and his right to live.

Today we stand committed to the proposition that freedom is no half-and-half affair. If the average citizen is guaranteed equal opportunity in the polling place, he must have equal opportunity in the market place.

These economic royalists complain that we seek to overthrow the institutions of America. What they really complain of is that we seek to take away their power. Our allegiance to American institutions requires the overthrow of this kind of power. In vain they seek to hide behind the Flag and the Constitution. In their blindness they forget what the Flag and the Constitution stand for. Now, as always, they stand for democracy, not tyranny; for freedom, not subjection; and against a dictatorship by mob rule and the over-privileged alike.

Robinson’s character, Phil Chase, as president of the United States, then continues:

But then we forgot again. We went back to imagining that things could only be as they were. We lived on in that strange new feudalism, in ways that were unjust and destructive and yet were presented as the only possible reality. We said, “people are like that”, or “human nature will never change” or “we are all guilty of original sin, or “this is democracy, this is the free market, this is reality itself.” And we went along with that analysis, and it became the law of the land. The entire world was legally bound to accept this feudal injustice as law. It was global and so it looked like it was universal. The future itself was bought, in the form of debts, mortgages, contracts — all spelled out by law and enforced by police and armies. Alternatives were unthinkable. Even to say things could be otherwise would get you immediately branded as unrealistic, foolish, naive, insane, utopian.

But that was all delusion. Every few years things change completely, even though we can’t quite remember how it happened or what it means. Change is real and unavoidable. And we can organize our affairs any way we please. There is no physical restraint on us. We are free to act. It is a fearsome thing, this freedom, so much so that people talk about a “flight from freedom” — that we fly into cages and hide, because freedom is so profound it’s kind of an abyss. To actually choose in each moment how to live is too scary to endure.

So we lived like sleepwalkers. But the world is not asleep, and outside our dream, things continued to change. Trying to shape that change is not a bad thing. Some pretend that making a plan is instant communism and the devil’s work, but it isn’t so. We always have a plan. Free market economics is a plan — it plans to give all decisions over to the blind hand of the market. But the blind hand never picks up the check. And you know — it’s blind. To deal with the global environmental crisis we now face without making any more plan than tot rust the market would be like saying, “We have to solve this problem so first let’s put out our eyes.” Why? Why not use our eyes? Why not use our brains?

Because we’re going to have to imagine our way out of this one.

Scary Night

October 21st, 2007

We’ve got the news on to watch the fire’s progress. So far all of Ramona is being evacuated from the Witch Creek fire, and parts of east county around Dulzura from the Harris fire. About 30,000 acres burning just in San Diego County right now – and the next couple of days will be hot, dry and windy. This will not be good. Many homes are already lost, 1 dead and 17 injured so far.

The winds are gusting like crazy here. This feels like the Cedar fire all over again. And there are a dozen fires burning throughout southern California right now. Nasty, nasty fire season, yet again. It’s weird to walk through your home, thinking of what you will pack if you have to, what you will leave. You realize what really means something to you and what is just stuff. And hope it will not come to that. I have several friends who had to make those decisions, and the emotional scars run deep, even when they don’t really show. We packed up in 2003, we may have to do it again. It is wrenching, and you know others are suffering more. The smell of smoke is constant, even with the air conditioning on, and there is nothing to do but wait and hope. Charge the phones, be sure you’re ready to go if you have to. And then try to sleep…

Here come those Santa Ana winds again….

October 21st, 2007


UPDATE: Taken from Jeff Makey’s home in Escondido this evening

Fanned by Santa Ana winds, more than 8,000 acres have burned east of Ramona today in what has been named the Witch Fire. With another fire near Tecate, this situation is eerily similar to 2003′s Cedar Fire.

The attached picture was taken from my front yard in Escondido about an hour ago. It’s not quite this bright to the unaided eye, but with binoculars I can frequently see flames through the smoke.

Our fire season is just not complete without a wildfire in Malibu. Oy.

At least it’s not San Diego this year. Or at least, not yet. But memories of 2003 are probably scaring a lot of San Diegans right now. At least with la Nina, perhaps mud slide season will not be too devastating this year.

Sigh.

UPDATE:

Aw, crap. Now it’s us. Damn it! North of Ramona, so a ways from our place. But it’s windy as heck here, so this is gonna be nasty.

Fire cuts swath through Malibu Hills – Los Angeles Times

A swift-moving wildfire driven by ferocious Santa Ana winds destroyed several landmark structures, including the famed Castle Kashan in the Malibu Hills early today, and forced the evacuation of Pepperdine University and 200 nearby homes.

Four hundred firefighters aided by helicopters and water-dropping aircraft battled the blaze, which had charred roughly 500 acres and led to the closure of Pacific Coast Highway between Kanan-Dume and Topanga Canyon roads.

“We’re looking at an intense wind-driven fire,” said Los Angeles County Fire Inspector Ron Haralson.

The scene in Malibu was choatic, with winds howling and kicking up grit and sand. CHP officers were wearing gas masks due to extremely thick smoke.

Georgia King, a Malibu Retreat resident smelled the smoke before 7:30 a.m. and immediately moved into action to evacuate horses from two nearby stables.

“We probably moved 70 horses with all the wonderful people stepping to help,” King said. She said they were taking the horses to various locations, including Malibu Riding & Tennis Club.

King added that the “castle is burning,” referring to Castle Kashan, a well-known local landmark in the hills. The turrets of the building, located on a hillside above the Country Mart, were in flames at 10 a.m.

Gore Derangement Syndrome

October 15th, 2007

Gore Derangement Syndrome – New York Times

On the day after Al Gore shared the Nobel Peace Prize, The Wall Street Journal’s editors couldn’t even bring themselves to mention Mr. Gore’s name. Instead, they devoted their editorial to a long list of people they thought deserved the prize more.

And at National Review Online, Iain Murray suggested that the prize should have been shared with “that well-known peace campaigner Osama bin Laden, who implicitly endorsed Gore’s stance.” You see, bin Laden once said something about climate change — therefore, anyone who talks about climate change is a friend of the terrorists.

What is it about Mr. Gore that drives right-wingers insane?

Partly it’s a reaction to what happened in 2000, when the American people chose Mr. Gore but his opponent somehow ended up in the White House. Both the personality cult the right tried to build around President Bush and the often hysterical denigration of Mr. Gore were, I believe, largely motivated by the desire to expunge the stain of illegitimacy from the Bush administration.

And now that Mr. Bush has proved himself utterly the wrong man for the job — to be, in fact, the best president Al Qaeda’s recruiters could have hoped for — the symptoms of Gore derangement syndrome have grown even more extreme.

The worst thing about Mr. Gore, from the conservative point of view, is that he keeps being right. In 1992, George H. W. Bush mocked him as the “ozone man,” but three years later the scientists who discovered the threat to the ozone layer won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. In 2002 he warned that if we invaded Iraq, “the resulting chaos could easily pose a far greater danger to the United States than we presently face from Saddam.” And so it has proved.

But Gore hatred is more than personal. When National Review decided to name its anti-environmental blog Planet Gore, it was trying to discredit the message as well as the messenger. For the truth Mr. Gore has been telling about how human activities are changing the climate isn’t just inconvenient. For conservatives, it’s deeply threatening….

Today, being a good Republican means believing that taxes should always be cut, never raised. It also means believing that we should bomb and bully foreigners, not negotiate with them.

So if science says that we have a big problem that can’t be solved with tax cuts or bombs — well, the science must be rejected, and the scientists must be slimed. For example, Investor’s Business Daily recently declared that the prominence of James Hansen, the NASA researcher who first made climate change a national issue two decades ago, is actually due to the nefarious schemes of — who else? — George Soros.

Which brings us to the biggest reason the right hates Mr. Gore: in his case the smear campaign has failed. He’s taken everything they could throw at him, and emerged more respected, and more credible, than ever. And it drives them crazy.

Takoma Gardener: Global Warming in the Garden

September 14th, 2007

Great article at Takoma Gardener about the effects of climate change on our gardens – and what we can do to help.

In my own garden, I’ve developed the idea of “canopy gardening”, so the large trees provide shade for most of the yard and smaller shrubs offer some protection from winter frosts and freezes. I still lost a lot of plants this year due to the big chill in December and the long dry summer. Our extremes here in SoCal have been severe this year, from five nights in a row of freeze in the winter to five days in a row of 100 plus temperatures this summer. Overall it’s been much cooler in San Diego in the past year. May gray and June gloom this year extended into July, and we didn’t have a very hot week until late August / early September.

Coming into a La Nina year, there won’t be much rain, so we’re looking for our eighth year of drought conditions. I’m going to need some very tough plants! Go read the full article, it’s well worth it.

Takoma Gardener: Global Warming in the Garden

How Gardeners Can Help Reduce Climate Change

To borrow from one of the central tenets of organic gardening, the first goal of gardening should be to do not harm. Here are some ways:

* Stop using gas-powered lawn equipment or products that use fossil fuels in their production, like synthetic fertilizers. Gas mowers spew as much pollution in one hour as a new car does in 40 hours – that’s how terrible the gas-mower technology is. And those synthetic fertilizers can be replaced primarily by compost and organic mulches, supplemented with organic, slow-release fertilizers when an extra boost is needed.

* Instead of blowing leaves into plastic bags for them to be trucked away to landfills or to an incinerator, turn them into soil, by composting. Home compost operations help lighten pressure on landfills and result in more water-retentive soil for the gardener – that really cool circle of life thing. Some municipalities collect leaves and turn them into free leafmold mulch or compost.

* Grow your own food. It’s fresh, it’s as organic as you want it to be, and it doesn’t have to be trucked or flown in from far away. In the alternative, frequent our local farmer’s markets.

* Finally, the quaint suggestion that we bring back a garden ornament from our grandmothers’ gardens – the clothes line – comes from the Goracle himself.

This is more like it!

September 5th, 2007

Our high is forecast at 88 today – 20 degrees cooler than two days ago.

Ah. This is better….

Not a lot going on this week other than enjoying the boys being back in school after the long weekend and this much cooler weather! My great-nephew’s birthday is tomorrow and of course I’ve gotten nothing sent yet. Greg was so casual about his 18th birthday and Jonathan about his 21st that I think I’ve stopped realizing that birthdays are actually important to other people. My apologies, Evan and Courtney – I will get my act together eventually.

Sigh.

Hubby and I have started working out with a personal trainer, which is great fun but making me a bit sore today. The pilates and yoga has paid off, though – my abs are in much better shape than his! Hah.

My reading pile is growing again – currently reading “Bones Would Rain From the Sky” , a wonderful book on dog training that I keep wanting to quote from here but I can’t pick out just one part, it’s all so good! I also have Pema Chodron’s latest “No Time to Lose” on the stack and Kim Stanley Robinson’s “Sixty Days and Counting” to get to. And four more on the way from paperback swap….

And lots and lots of blogs I need to get to, of course!

And people wonder what I do all day.