Mini-Review: Moletown, Torben Kuhlmann (2015)

Friday, October 2nd, 2015

Stunning Artwork, but the Ending Comes a Little Too Soon

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic copy of this book from review through NetGalley.)

The story of Moletown begins with a lone mole, who tunneled underneath a lush, wild meadow. He was quickly joined by other moles. Content to live simply at first, development slowly spun out of control – and before they knew it, the green fields above their heads had been reduced to barren earth. Meanwhile, the tunnels below grew crowded, the air choked by cars and industry. (Much of which has a wonderful steampunk vibe.) On the brink of collapse, the moles saved their underground paradise at the 11th hour, thanks to a series of green initiatives.

The artwork here is absolutely breathtaking. DO NOT READ THIS ON A KINDLE. Seriously, you’d be downplaying the best part. Kuhlmann’s tiny mole protagonists are simply adorable, and his cityscapes are quite lovely. (Almost deceptively so, given the moral of the story.) He manages to take a mostly monochromatic landscape and imbue it with life and excitement. The story’s presented as a history of Moletown, complete with scrapbook-style pages at the beginning and end. If you can, spring for the hardcover edition: Moletown is a piece of artwork that’s meant to be held, stroked, and savored. Otherwise read it on a laptop, iPad, or similar: anything with generous screen size and color capabilities. A Kindle doesn’t come anywhere close to doing Kuhlmann’s art justice.

Less impressive are the solutions promised in the final pages. The text is quite sparse – there’s only six sentences in the entire book – and Kuhlmann lets his illustrations do the talking. For the most part, this works magically. But the end could have been a little longer, I think. The moles’ climate change initiatives are presented as snapshots at the end of the scrapbook; those positioned on the top and bottom are cut off, and others are partially obscured by overlapped photos, such that they’re difficult to fully make out. Best I can tell, the solutions include wind energy, planting flowers, and preserving green space – not exactly a recipe for change. (The ending is so abrupt at first I thought my review copy was damaged or incomplete!)

Buy it for the gorgeous artwork, but brainstorm some additional talking points for storytime with the kiddos.

(This review is also available on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined!)

Book Review: Gas Drilling and the Fracking of a Marriage, Stephanie Hamel (2011)

Saturday, February 25th, 2012

Note to readers: Full disclosure – I received free copy of this book through Library Thing’s Early Reviewer program.

Note to self: Never never ever again will you request from LT an environmental book written by a non-vegan. Nothing good ever comes of it.

Clever title, but this marriage was already fracked.

two out of five stars

Suppose a natural gas company offered you a small fortune to lease your land for exploration and possible drilling. Would you do it? What if all your neighbors had already signed on, thus transforming your small, idyllic “home away from home” into one giant construction zone, complete with road-clogging traffic and the ceaseless noise of drills and pumps? Further imagine that the energy company has the legal right to extract gas trapped under your property – without your consent – if it drills horizontally from a neighboring property, thus making your “sacrifice” all but futile.

Author Stephanie Hamel doesn’t have to imagine such a scenario; she’s lived it. In Gas Drilling and the Fracking of a Marriage (2011), she explores the ethical, emotional, and practical implications she and her family faced when offered to lease their fifty acres of farmland in north central Pennsylvania to a natural gas company at $2500 an acre. Hamel’s parents had purchased the land when she was just a girl, to serve as a vacation home. (“Camp,” they called it. I can relate; my father recently inherited a small cabin in the Adirondacks, similarly bought and built by his parents when he was just a kid. A multi-generational family project, you could call it.) Hamel’s childhood is peppered with memories of escaping to this rural oasis, where her family played at part-time farming, landscaping, and construction work. The existing buildings were old and ramshackle, and required much repair and maintenance. While this might not sound like much of a vacation, Hamel’s clan tackled these projects with much gusto – together. Consequently, the land holds a special significance for Hamel; and so, when her father passed away, she decided to purchase the property from her mother, to keep it in the family, and to carry on the traditions she so enjoyed as a child with her own children.

In 2008, an unnamed natural gas company approached Hamel – and many of the other property owners in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania – about leasing her land for gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing. A relatively new procedure in 2008, “fracking” has met with greater opposition in recent years. Among other things, fracking is associated with groundwater contamination, air pollution, the mishandling of toxic waste – and perhaps even earthquakes. Though most of Hamel’s neighbors quickly signed up – many without so much as consulting a lawyer – Hamel dragged her feet. When rumors of drilling began circulating through Wellsboro in early 2008, Hamel was staunchly opposed to drilling. However, as gossip materialized into a pricey contract that fall, she began to waffle: with her husband’s job on the ropes, they could really use the money. Plus she could donate some of the windfall to environmental organizations. Surely this could help to offset any damage done during drilling? And if the gas company could extract gas without her permission anyhow (via the “Law of Capture”), wouldn’t it be foolish not to take the money? Besides, with all her neighbors jumping on the bandwagon, the town was already being sullied by traffic and noise pollution. Complicating matters further was her husband Tom, who welcomed the drilling as a financial boon – hence the titular “fracking of a marriage.”

While this all but promises to make for a compelling read, the result is anything but. Hamel largely based this memoir on a diary she kept during this time – and it shows. (Cue Sarah Silverman’s rant about diaries in her own autobiography, Diary of a Bedwetter: “Unvisited tombstones, unread diaries, and erased video game high-score rankings are three of the most potent symbols of mankind’s pathetic and fruitless attempts at immortality.” No one wants to read your diary – yourself included.) Although there is some useful information to be found in Gas Drilling and the Fracking of a Marriage – concerning, for example, the legal issues involved in drilling, as well as the possible health effects of fracking – these bits are few and far between. (Indeed, the entire reference section consists of just three items. THREE! Why bother?) This is especially disappointing given the author’s background: though currently a stay-at-home mom, Hamel holds a BS in Chemistry and a joint PhD in Exposure Assessment and Environmental Sciences. You’d think she’d be uniquely qualified to comment on the subject, no?

(More below the fold…)

lol ur empty gestures.

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

When I opened this email from 350.org, I couldn’t help but snicker – after which, I inevitably felt a little guilty. (Hey, I’ve got lady bits; I’ve been indoctrinated into a sea of guilt, whether deserved or not.) Then, still feeling a pang of guilt, I snickered some more. You see, their hearts are (kinda sorta) in the right place; their tummies, not so much.

Apologies again for bombarding you with email, but we’re in the final stretch here at Copenhagen and I hope you can join us in doing two unusual things.

“Unsual”? Well, I’m up for most anything. Do tell!

They’re unusual things for us to ask, but this is an unusual moment. In a certain sense the Copenhagen conference is going better than we dared hope. The small nations of the world have really been quite remarkable this week–their calls for strong climate action have completely changed the tone of these negotiations. They have stood up to immense pressure from the big powers, and they continue to rally behind the banner that all of you have raised for them. These nations are still trying to insert “350 language” into the treaty text, at least as a symbolic aspiration for the future. This would be a remarkable acknowledgment of physical reality, and give us a good base to keep moving on.

But not all is well in Copenhagen. We’re not going to get the agreement that we need (current negotiations put us on track to hit a devastating 770ppm by century’s end) and this movement will need to fight on in the years ahead.

But right now, while the Copenhagen climate talks are still unfolding, we need one final push.

Yes, yes!? Quit with the teasing and spill the organic, fair trade, sustainably harvested beans already!

(More below the fold…)

VeganMoFo, 10.24: 350 365 + Vegan = REAL Action

Saturday, October 24th, 2009

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Close on the heels of last week’s Blog Action Day for Climate Change comes today’s International Day of Climate Action. With a focus on the number 350 – “as in parts per million, the level scientists have identified as the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere” – the campaign’s goal is laudable:

350.org is an international campaign dedicated to building a movement to unite the world around solutions to the climate crisis–the solutions that science and justice demand.

Our mission is to inspire the world to rise to the challenge of the climate crisis—to create a new sense of urgency and of possibility for our planet.

Our focus is on the number 350–as in parts per million, the level scientists have identified as the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere. But 350 is more than a number–it’s a symbol of where we need to head as a planet.

To tackle climate change we need to move quickly, and we need to act in unison—and 2009 will be an absolutely crucial year. This December, world leaders will meet in Copenhagen, Denmark to craft a new global treaty on cutting emissions. The problem is, the treaty currently on the table doesn’t meet the severity of the climate crisis—it doesn’t pass the 350 test.

In order to unite the public, media, and our political leaders behind the 350 goal, we’re harnessing the power of the internet to coordinate a planetary day of action on October 24, 2009. We hope to have actions at hundreds of iconic places around the world – from the Taj Mahal to the Great Barrier Reef to your community – and clear message to world leaders: the solutions to climate change must be equitable, they must be grounded in science, and they must meet the scale of the crisis.

If an international grassroots movement holds our leaders accountable to the latest climate science, we can start the global transformation we so desperately need.

Certainly, we need bold, cooperative, global action to combat climate change – and we need it now. Yet, 350’s campaign materials do not so much as mention vegetarianism, let alone veganism – this despite the fact that animal agriculture is a major contributor to greenhouse gases, including methane and nitrous oxide (which have a global warming potential 23 and 296 times greater than C02, respectively). Given the world’s burgeoning human population and rise in “meat” and dairy consumption, we cannot stop and reverse climate change – not to mention, air and water pollution, deforestation, habitat loss, species extinction, world hunger and poverty – without transitioning to a vegan diet. Our exploitation of nonhuman animals echoes in our exploration of the earth, and of one another.

While I’m happy to see that many of the planned actions include vegan meals, this isn’t enough: the International Day of Climate Action must include veganism as its centerpiece. Talk about C02 and Copenhagen, yes, but don’t stop there: speak also of veganism and the politics of what’s on your plate. Anything less is dishonest, regressive, hypocritical. Suicide and murder, both.

I get that “350” is a cute, catchy, universally-understood campaign gimmick – so why not make next year’s theme 365? As in, GO VEGAN!: not just meatless on Mondays, or meat- and dairy-free on on November 1st, but vegan 365 days of the year. That’s real, meaningful change, and with minimal effort, too. Omnivores, vegetarians and vegans: we all already shop, cook and eat. To do so in a compassionate, (truly) green manner requires little to no extra action, especially in the long run – and living vegan will only become easier as demand and support for veganism increase.

(More below the fold…)

Veganism is the solution. (VeganMoFo, meet Blog Action Day!)

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

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As you may have already heard, today is the third annual Blog Action Day. Started in 2007, the goal is to create awareness of a single issue through mass participation. Activists online – and in the real world – focus their attention on a social problem: by writing or blogging about the issue; by posting links to Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites; by donating time and money; by discussing the topic amongst friends and family members; and so forth. This year’s topic is climate change; previous areas of concern were the environment and poverty.

While easyVegan is an animal rights blog, this is the third year I’ll be participating. The environment, climate change and yes, even poverty – all can be discussed vis-à-vis our relationship to animals. In fact – and this occurred to me while voting on next year’s topic – pretty much any subject you dream up can be tied back to animal rights, environmental justice and/or veganism. Issues of race, gender, sexuality, class, size, health, nutrition, labor, poverty, xenophobia, species, nature, the environment – you name it – all are interconnected. (So much so that it’s starting to feel arbitrary and capricious to file some posts under “intersections” at the expense of others; ditto: veganism. This entire blog is centered around veganism, yo!)

Some of these connections are more obvious than others; for example, like many of the animal advocates taking part in Blog Action Day, my focus will be on the significant contribution of animal agriculture to climate change. Other intersections are much more subtle; take, for example, PETA’s “Save the Whales” billboard. While clearly sizeist, PETA’s fat-shaming is classist and racist, too. Because PETA fails to address factors linked to class and race (which themselves are inextricably connected) that make it more difficult for disadvantaged populations to consume a healthy, cruelty-free diet, the campaign reinforces class and race privilege and shifts responsibility to the individual, in contrast to systemic factors that set certain people up for failure.

So it feels somewhat serendipitous that the third annual Blog Action Day – for climate change, to boot – falls smack dab in the middle of the third annual Vegan Month of Foods. I guess you could write this off as laziness, but the two blog carnivals (swarms? whatever!) seem a perfect match – so much so that they can share one post between the two of ’em! Action to combat climate change must include veganism – not as an afterthought, not as a quirky personal choice, not one day a week – but as a lifelong commitment by humans (at first living in privileged/developed nations, and perhaps some day globally) to stop viewing other animals as commodities, products to be bought, sold, used and discarded at our convenience.

For we all share the same fate: the water we poison with animal waste; the antibiotics we inject into sick and tortured factory farmed animals; the methane we unleash into the atmosphere; the forests we de-virginize; the so-called “pest” species we eradicate; the ecosystems we decimate – we are all one. We all share one planet, one environment. We all breathe the same air, drink the same water, bask under the rays of the same sun. That which we do to one being, we do to all beings. Once we rationalize and accept our subjugation and exploitation of one class of “lesser” animals, it becomes that much easier to extend the oppression to other classes of animals – humans and nonhumans alike.

Veganism is a diet, yes, but it’s also so much more: a lifestyle, an ethical system, a new way of viewing the world and one’s place within it. A light bulb, if you will.

Before I get full-on radfem, let’s return to the topic at hand: climate change and veganism (or, because I’m all about the macro, the environment and veganism).

Here are five reasons (out of a multitude) why environmentalists should – must – eliminate animals and their secretions from their diets.

(More below the fold…)

Bob Woodruff on boiling humans.

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

Journalist Bob Woodruff made an appearance on The Daily Show last night in order to promote his latest project, Earth 2100:
 

 

I find it interesting that Stewart and Woodruff open the discussion with a clip of Earth 2100 that invokes the anecdote of the frog submerged in a pot of boiling water: namely, if you put a frog in a pot of water that’s already boiling, she’ll jump right out, having sensed the heat and danger. But if you place her in a pot of cold or lukewarm water and gradually raise the temperature, she’s none the wiser, and will remain in the deathtrap until she becomes frog soup. In this metaphor, humans are the frogs, and the pot is earth.

Which is all fine and good, except according to Snopes, this is a folk tale:

Like a fable, the “boiled frog” anecdote serves its purpose whether or not it’s based upon something that is literally true. But it is literally true? Not according to Dr. Victor Hutchison, a Research Professor Emeritus from the University of Oklahoma’s Department of Zoology, whose research interests include “the physiological ecology of thermal relations of amphibians and reptiles to include determinations of the factors which influence lethal temperatures, critical thermal maxima and minima, thermal selection, and thermoregulatory behavior”:

“The legend is entirely incorrect! The ‘critical thermal maxima’ of many species of frogs have been determined by several investigators. In this procedure, the water in which a frog is submerged is heated gradually at about 2 degrees Fahrenheit per minute. As the temperature of the water is gradually increased, the frog will eventually become more and more active in attempts to escape the heated water. If the container size and opening allow the frog to jump out, it will do so.”

The “boiled frog” legend is a ubiquitous one – one that, given its falsehood, is both speciesist and completely inappropriate for what I assume is supposed to be a scientific documentary. The latter point is a given, but allow me to explain the former: central to the anecdote’s premise is the idea that a frog is so utterly stupid that, given subtle but entirely discernible cues, “it” would remain oblivious to the increasing danger and allow “itself” to be boiled alive. “Let’s not be like those lesser animals!” the tale cautions. Except. In denying climate change and poo-pooing slight increases in average global temperatures as “insignificant,” the human species is actually exhibiting less sense than Dog gave a frog. The frog isn’t earth’s complacent village idiot – we are.

Also of note: Jon alludes to the presumed vivisection which led to the “discovery” that frogs might allow themselves to be boiled alive, given the right circumstances. Both Stewart and Woodruff appear to think that such gruesome experiments probably took place years ago, in the distant past. Except.

“The legend is entirely incorrect! The ‘critical thermal maxima’ of many species of frogs have been determined by several investigators. In this procedure, the water in which a frog is submerged is heated gradually at about 2 degrees Fahrenheit per minute. As the temperature of the water is gradually increased, the frog will eventually become more and more active in attempts to escape the heated water. If the container size and opening allow the frog to jump out, it will do so.”

While I can’t locate citations for these experiments, Wiki suggests that they’re more recent debunkings of “research” performed in the late 1800s (“research” on which the legend is apparently based).

So, yeah, we boil frogs alive – or attempt to, anyway. And that’s not even the worst of it.

Anyhow, back to Earth 2100.

(More below the fold…)

Meow.

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

American Bird Conservancy kicks its May BirdWire off with the following ominous blurb:

ABC Video Highlights Damage to Birds from Trap, Neuter, Release Programs

American Bird Conservancy has produced a new, short video “Trap, Neuter, and Release: Bad for Cats, Disaster for Birds.” Each year, feral and free-roaming cats kill hundreds of millions of our nation’s birds, putting additional pressure on the populations of many species that are in decline.

Trap, Neuter, and Release (TNR) programs catch feral cats, neuter them, and then release them back to their colonies, which are subsequently maintained by volunteers. In theory, cat colonies managed under TNR will diminish over time through attrition, and eventually disappear. In practice this is not the case.

View the video here.

(If you have difficulty viewing the high-definition version, please click here.)

Here’s the video, along with its description on You Tube:

Each year free-roaming and feral cats kill hundreds of million of birds in the United States. One controversial solution to deal with the feral cat problem is trap, neuter and release. However, evidence is growing that this method is not eliminating the cat colonies or the predation of birds and other wildlife. There are other problems created by feral cats as well including threats to human health, and public nuisance issues. For more information see American Bird Conservancy’s website at http://www.abcbirds.org

(If you can’t view the video, you can read more about ABC’s speciesist views vis-à-vis free-roaming cats here.)

Though I’m not sufficiently educated on the issue to offer a counter to ABC’s assertions* (except to say that the birds with which ABC is so concerned have no greater right to life than their predators, the domestic and feral cats; but the guardians of domestic cats should most definitely keep them indoors, both for their own safety, and that of wildlife), I have to wonder whether ABC also advocates a vegetarian or vegan diet for Westerners. After all, meat consumption is a major contributor to climate change – which in turn is “the greatest threat to birds and other wildlife in human history.” (So says the Audubon Society, another organization that, inexplicably, engages in omni indulgence, if not outright apologism.) Most likely, ABC stands to save more birds by persuading their fellow Americans to adopt a vegetarian or vegan diet – or even just eating less of the stuff.

And yet.

Yeah, I didn’t think so.

And also, I’d love to hear Laura “Trap, Neuter and Find a Home” Reynold’s** ideas for rehoming all these feral cats when 1) most are not properly socialized to live indoors, with humans (they’re essentially wild animals, hello!); and 2) while between six and eight million cats and dogs enter U.S. shelters every year, only half leave alive. Seriously, what a stupid, uninformed thing to say.

One final thought: humans constitute a massive threat to wildlife. Unrivaled, perhaps. Remember, we’re the cause of climate change, “the greatest threat to birds and other wildlife in human history.”

….

* Luckily, the HSUS and Alley Cat Allies are. For a rebuttal of ABC’s video, start with their websites.

** Of the Tropical Audubon Society; quoted from an interview in ABC’s video.

(More below the fold…)

The "right" to guzzle gas.

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

Tom Coburn is fast becoming my pick for Douchebag of the Week.

See, for example, minute 2:30 of this Daily Show clip:
 

 
Coburn’s complaints re: CAFE standards: “What if you want to drive a gas hog? You don’t have the right any longer in this country to spend your money to drive a gas hog?”

Yes! And should I be struck with the desire to toss a barrel of arsenic in my pond, who is the government to tell me I can’t? It’s MY arsenic and MY pond, goddammit, and my grandfather fought and died in WWII so that AMERICA THE FREE would remain FREE from this sort of BIG GOVERNMENT FASCISM.

What’s better/worse, Coburn defends the “right” of individuals to pollute and consume to excess while also working to strip women of the right to bodily autonomy and privacy. He opposes abortion even in cases of rape and supports the death penalty for medical doctors who perform abortions. (Nor does he care to reduce the need for abortion by increasing the availability of and access to contraception.)

In Tom Coburn’s mind, a person has a greater “right” to decide what car to drive, than a person woman* has to decide whether or not she will lend her body and organs to another being – a potential being, which in its early stages exists as a tiny clump of cells – for nine months.

Car purchase > Bodily integrity

Seriously, what a douche.

(More below the fold…)

Yes, thank you!

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

(On multiple levels, seeing as this is a PETA ad and yet everyone managed to keep their knickers on.)
 


 
And also: *swoon!*

(More below the fold…)

Happy Earth Day…I guess.

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

(Just as I began to write this post, my middle furkid Peedee vomited up his breakfast – vegetarian kibble, natch. As is usually the case, he did so in the office, the floor of which is made of this weird textured faux pebble material that’s impossible to clean. In contrast, the rest of my home’s flooring is either concrete or tile, and couldn’t be easier to clean off. He’s got a gift, that one.

2007-06-25 - Morning Playtime - 0023 [original]

Anyhow, Peedee’s timing is fortuitous, as he so aptly manifested my feelings on Earth Day – or rather, on the half-assed lip service engaged in on Earth Day by the bulk of its Western human residents – through such a simple, biological, involuntary act. And yes, I am feeling a tad grumpy today, thanks for asking.)
 


 
As a vegan and environmentalist, it’s really hard to get excited over Earth Day when most of the mainstream environmental groups and media outlets – Earth Day Network, The Sierra Club, World Wildlife Fund, Environmental Protection Agency, Tree Hugger, et al – don’t so much as mention vegetarianism and/or veganism as a means to combating climate change, deforestation, the loss of biological diversity, pollution, water scarcity, disease, hunger, poverty, etc.

While these groups encourage “activists” to drive fuel efficient vehicles, switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs, and use cloth bags when shopping, a meat- and/or dairy-free diet hardly ever make the list – and, when they do, it’s usually in a highly diluted form, such as “eat less meat” or “go meatless one day of the week.” Bleh.

(More below the fold…)

Veg*n Videos: Blinders, Pit Bull Hysteria & the Chicken Justice League

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

My tubes are clogged with veg*n videos, so rather than post each separately, behold this handy dandy video roundup!

Via Mary at Animal Person, Blinders: The Movie is now available online, in its entirety. I’m fairly certain it’s the full documentary, anyway; with a running time of 50 minutes, I haven’t yet had a chance to watch the whole film. Tonight, maybe, while the Mr. records his podcast.
 


 
Mary urges us to watch and circulate the video; please do!

Next up: those charlatans at the Humane Society of the United States. Even as they profit off the publicity that comes from their admirable dogfighting raids and rescues,
 


 
the HSUS actively campaigns to have these rescued dogs murdered. What a warped idea of “rescue,” eh?

(More below the fold…)

Tiger Penis, Cow Taxing & Cocaine Honey on The Colbert Report

Saturday, January 10th, 2009

On Wednesday’s The Colbert Report (1/7/09), Stephen discusses not one, not two, but three animal-related stories!

First up: Barack Obama’s possible appointment of CNN’s Sanjay Gupta to the post of Surgeon General. Stephen includes a clip from CNN’s Planet in Peril: Battle Lines special in which Gupta attempts to purchase illegal tiger penis:
 

 
In case the video doesn’t embed/play properly (I couldn’t resist tinkering around with Comedy Central’s unwieldy block of code), the segment title (with link) is “Dr. Gupta’s Penis Pyramid”.

Then, in his Tip of the Hat/Wag of the Finger segment, he mentions

1) The EPA’s (supposed) proposed tax on cows (and pigs), in order to combat climate change and

2) Recent “scientific” “research” in which liquid cocaine was placed on the backs of honey bees in order to assess their reactions.
 

 
Because fucking with bee populations is exactly what we should be doing right about now. Not.

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Tagged:

Quote of the Day: 18% > 13%

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

“The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has estimated that direct emissions from meat production account for about 18% of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions. So I want to highlight the fact that among options for mitigating climate change, changing diets is something one should consider.”

– Dr. Rajendra Pachauri,chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in an interview with BBC News.

The BCC explains the 18% figure further:

The FAO figure of 18% includes greenhouse gases released in every part of the meat production cycle – clearing forested land, making and transporting fertiliser, burning fossil fuels in farm vehicles, and the front and rear end emissions of cattle and sheep.

The contributions of the three main greenhouse gases – carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide – are roughly equivalent, the FAO calculates.

Transport, by contrast, accounts for just 13% of humankind’s greenhouse gas footprint, according to the IPCC.

So unless you start your day with a nice plate of Tofu Scrambles and Smart Bacon, don’t waste your afternoon harassing Hummer owners. You’re not walking the ethical high road either, my friend.

Seriously. Change? Starts on your plate. Emphasis on your.

(H/t, Vegan Bits.)

A Generational Challenge to Repower America

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

Ladies and gentlemen:

There are times in the history of our nation when our very way of life depends upon dispelling illusions and awakening to the challenge of a present danger. In such moments, we are called upon to move quickly and boldly to shake off complacency, throw aside old habits and rise, clear-eyed and alert, to the necessity of big changes. Those who, for whatever reason, refuse to do their part must either be persuaded to join the effort or asked to step aside. This is such a moment. The survival of the United States of America as we know it is at risk. And even more – if more should be required – the future of human civilization is at stake.

I don’t remember a time in our country when so many things seemed to be going so wrong simultaneously. Our economy is in terrible shape and getting worse, gasoline prices are increasing dramatically, and so are electricity rates. Jobs are being outsourced. Home mortgages are in trouble. Banks, automobile companies and other institutions we depend upon are under growing pressure. Distinguished senior business leaders are telling us that this is just the beginning unless we find the courage to make some major changes quickly.

The climate crisis, in particular, is getting a lot worse – much more quickly than predicted. Scientists with access to data from Navy submarines traversing underneath the North polar ice cap have warned that there is now a 75 percent chance that within five years the entire ice cap will completely disappear during the summer months. This will further increase the melting pressure on Greenland. According to experts, the Jakobshavn glacier, one of Greenland’s largest, is moving at a faster rate than ever before, losing 20 million tons of ice every day, equivalent to the amount of water used every year by the residents of New York City.

Two major studies from military intelligence experts have warned our leaders about the dangerous national security implications of the climate crisis, including the possibility of hundreds of millions of climate refugees destabilizing nations around the world.

Just two days ago, 27 senior statesmen and retired military leaders warned of the national security threat from an “energy tsunami” that would be triggered by a loss of our access to foreign oil. Meanwhile, the war in Iraq continues, and now the war in Afghanistan appears to be getting worse.

And by the way, our weather sure is getting strange, isn’t it? There seem to be more tornadoes than in living memory, longer droughts, bigger downpours and record floods. Unprecedented fires are burning in California and elsewhere in the American West. Higher temperatures lead to drier vegetation that makes kindling for mega-fires of the kind that have been raging in Canada, Greece, Russia, China, South America, Australia and Africa. Scientists in the Department of Geophysics and Planetary Science at Tel Aviv University tell us that for every one degree increase in temperature, lightning strikes will go up another 10 percent. And it is lightning, after all, that is principally responsible for igniting the conflagration in California today.

Like a lot of people, it seems to me that all these problems are bigger than any of the solutions that have thus far been proposed for them, and that’s been worrying me.

(More below the fold…)

i can has green hot dog?

Friday, February 8th, 2008

Just because.

lily, bulldog, loldogs and cute puppy pictures, I Has a Hotdog
moar cute puppy pictures

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Tagged:

UCS: Historic moment on fuel economy! […]

Saturday, December 15th, 2007

…but Big Oil wins again.

FYI: Grist has a number of interesting pieces on the policking of the Energy Bill, including:

* ‘Right now, the president’s got the upper hand’; Sen. John Kerry defends Dem decision not to force a filibuster on the energy bill

* Glass Half Full?; Senate OKs fuel-economy increase, but drops more ambitious parts of energy bill

* Celebrate good times, come on! No, seriously.; Greens need to learn how to celebrate their friends and their movement

* Energy bill back on track?; Pelosi says bill up for vote next week will contain CAFE, RFS, and RES

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Union of Concerned Scientists Action Network – action [at] ucsusa.org
Date: Dec 14, 2007 4:22 PM
Subject: Historic moment on fuel economy!

Last night, the Senate overwhelmingly passed an Energy Bill that will significantly strengthen fuel economy standards for vehicles for the first time in more than a generation. Read more about the bill at http://ucsaction.org/ct/1pMUMAY1yYLm/.

This historic victory was not a complete one, however. The Senate removed the renewable electricity standard and clean energy tax incentives from the bill–both of which would have increased our nation’s use of clean, renewable energy. The House of Representatives is expected to pass this version of the bill next week, and move it to the president’s desk where he has already said he will sign it into law.

This bill represents years of work and is a significant step forward. The bill will boost Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards to a fleetwide average of at least 35 miles per gallon by 2020–saving 1.1 million barrels of oil per day in 2020 (about half of what the United States currently imports from the Persian Gulf). This will significantly reduce America’s oil consumption, save consumers billions at the gas pump each year, and is a meaningful step forward as we seek to reduce our nation’s global warming pollution.

(More below the fold…)

Can I get a Kucinich/Gore 2008, anyone?

Monday, December 10th, 2007

SPEECH BY AL GORE ON THE ACCEPTANCE OF THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE
DECEMBER 10, 2007
OSLO, NORWAY

Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, Honorable members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen.

I have a purpose here today. It is a purpose I have tried to serve for many years. I have prayed that God would show me a way to accomplish it.

Sometimes, without warning, the future knocks on our door with a precious and painful vision of what might be. One hundred and nineteen years ago, a wealthy inventor read his own obituary, mistakenly published years before his death. Wrongly believing the inventor had just died, a newspaper printed a harsh judgment of his life’s work, unfairly labeling him “The Merchant of Death” because of his invention – dynamite. Shaken by this condemnation, the inventor made a fateful choice to serve the cause of peace.

Seven years later, Alfred Nobel created this prize and the others that bear his name.

Seven years ago tomorrow, I read my own political obituary in a judgment that seemed to me harsh and mistaken – if not premature. But that unwelcome verdict also brought a precious if painful gift: an opportunity to search for fresh new ways to serve my purpose.

(More below the fold…)

IDA Writing Alert: Trying to Connect the Dinner Plate to Climate Change

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: In Defense of Animals – takeaction [at] idausa.org
Date: Aug 30, 2007 10:40 AM
Subject: Writing Alert: Trying to Connect the Dinner Plate to Climate Change

The New York Times ran an article about the growing awareness of the effects of a meat-based diet on the environment. Please write a letter to the editor of the Times informing readers that the best thing they can do for their health, animals, and the environment is to go vegan. Send letters to letters [at] nytimes.com.

Read “Trying to Connect the Dinner Plate to Climate Change” online.

Trying to Connect the Dinner Plate to Climate Change

By CLAUDIA H. DEUTSCH
August 29, 2007

EVER since “An Inconvenient Truth,” Al Gore has been the darling of environmentalists, but that movie hardly endeared him to the animal rights folks. According to them, the most inconvenient truth of all is that raising animals for meat contributes more to global warming than all the sport utility vehicles combined.

The biggest animal rights groups do not always overlap in their missions, but now they have coalesced around a message that eating meat is worse for the environment than driving. They and smaller groups have started advertising campaigns that try to equate vegetarianism with curbing greenhouse gases.

Some backlash against this position is inevitable, the groups acknowledge, but they do have scientific ammunition. In late November, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization issued a report stating that the livestock business generates more greenhouse gas emissions than all forms of transportation combined.

(More below the fold…)

Sign the Live Earth Pledge (Al Gore implores you!)

Saturday, July 14th, 2007

Seriously. He sent me an email and everything.

Anyway. Click here to sign the pledge.

1. To demand that my country join an international treaty within the next 2 years that cuts global warming pollution by 90% in developed countries and by more than half worldwide in time for the next generation to inherit a healthy earth;

2. To take personal action to help solve the climate crisis by reducing my own CO2 pollution as much as I can and offsetting the rest to become “carbon neutral;”

3. To fight for a moratorium on the construction of any new generating facility that burns coal without the capacity to safely trap and store the CO2;

4. To work for a dramatic increase in the energy efficiency of my home, workplace, school, place of worship, and means of transportation;

5. To fight for laws and policies that expand the use of renewable energy sources and reduce dependence on oil and coal;

6. To plant new trees and to join with others in preserving and protecting forests; and,

7. To buy from businesses and support leaders who share my commitment to solving the climate crisis and building a sustainable, just, and prosperous world for the 21st century.

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Center for Biological Diversity: Support Protection for Penguins Threatened by Global Warming

Wednesday, July 11th, 2007

Via the Center for Biological Diversity:

Support Protection for Penguins Threatened by Global Warming

This week the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced it’s officially considering protecting 10 of the 12 penguin species we petitioned to protect under the Endangered Species Act. The penguins are threatened with extinction due to global warming, industrial fisheries, and other threats.

The Service’s “positive finding” begins a 60-day public comment period on whether the penguins should advance to the next stage in the Endangered Species Act listing process, with a formal proposal to list them as threatened or endangered. Please submit your own comment today in support of protecting these magnificent birds!

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