So, it’s Ash Wednesday 2012, and I’m finally getting around to letting you know my wish list for the 2011 holidays. I guess I’ll just ask for early presents for the 2012 season (or considering my previous post, maybe I’ll just keep thinking about it).
Greece just got bailed out again, in exchange for further austerity measures. Closer to home, I just read tonight that the City of Astoria is considering eliminating some street lighting to save money. Of course Clatsop Community College recently announced the elimination of 15 full-time positions, which have been whittled down to 5 by various means.
Wave energy companies are lining up to get in on the action off the Oregon Coast, which supposedly has the best wave energy resources in the West. Up to 500 MW may be available to help power the grid. The state is delineating where the wave energy devices could be located, in order not to displace current uses, like fishing, or disturb the habitat of marine organisms. In light of the recent battles over wind turbines on the north coast, battles over wind turbines off of Cape Cod, and the local LNG battles, I’d like to know whether people think that there might be similar problems with wave energy. So, are you for or against wave energy and why, and how much do you already know about it?
This morning I awoke early. It was still dark as I went out into the cold. I felt the magic of the waning full moon bathing my world in white light. But so early? It was the whales. They wanted me to feel the moment and hear their message.
In 2006, some 600,000 homeowners living in coastal areas that insurers consider high storm risk saw their insurance policies cancelled or not renewed. This includes coastal areas stretching all along the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean from Texas to New York. Allstate Insurance totally pulled out of Florida, leaving 650,000 policy-holders without insurance. A 2007 study by Environmental Defense showed that new policies in Miami, Florida are now costing residents 500% more than previous ones. In March 2008, State Farm, the last major insurer in coastal coverage, pulled out. It no longer will write homeowner policies within a mile of the Atlantic Ocean.
I’ve been reading books, articles and e-mails about complexity, the economic and political situation, and technology for years now, trying to get a handle on what is going to happen to life on earth in the near future (while I might be alive). I get all kinds of mixed signals, and I seem to change my mind almost daily about what it all means.
Near the center of Athens you can walk through large tracts of public land covered in rocks, ruins, wooded areas, and dry-land vegetation. Go in one direction and you’ll find the Hill of the Muses. It’s a cool place to take a break from news of global economic decay.
My family wandered there one afternoon during a recent trip to Europe. On the hillside facing the Parthenon we could hear the roar of 100,000 citizens outside the parliament building, protesting cuts in worker pensions, reductions in the minimum wage, increases in taxes, and other bloodletting demanded by eurozone financiers.
This libertarian outlook is a bit dangerous, I think. The problem is that, while the small businesses mentioned in the article (cosmetology, moving) are unlikely to destroy the environment, kill people, or generally mess things up, there are plenty of businesses, some even “small” by some people’s definition, that either could potentially, or already have, mess(ed) things up. The general call I hear lately for less government regulation is not, I think, about getting nibbled by fish, as the example in the article details. It’s a thinly veiled attempt to remove the protections we enjoy against messing things up.
While our federal or state government may want to take a protectionist stance on this issue, I don’t think it meshes with the global nature of the market. The reality is that natural gas is a commodity that will be shuttled around the world to the best (highest-paying) markets, in the current system.
This same scenario is being played out with other fossil fuels (i.e. coal and tar sands oil) as we strive to extract the last bits all over the earth. Unfortunately, the U.S. and Canada are blessed with lots of these essential commodities, and we will inevitably suffer from exploiting them.