Lex Luthor's Father Was Right, Land is Really Valuable

When I was a mere prodigy, Miss Teschmacher, having
passed through vandalism with flying colors at the age
of six, my father said to me: “Son, stocks will rise and fall. . . .
(gesturing around him)
Utilities and transportation systems may even collapse, and
people are no damn good – but they’ll always need land, and
for that they’ll pay, through the nose. Remember that,” my
father said. “Land.”
(from Superman, 1978)

In 1978 Lex Luthor shared with us this lesson that his father taught him on the big screen, the Maldives are taking it into consideration right now. Thanks to the “myth” of global warming the people who live in Maldives will likely need a new home by 2100. In less than one hundred years their country will be mostly submerged. With an eye towards this grim future the country’s new president is starting a fund to purchase land and relocate their country. If ever there has been a moment where folks needed to ponder how game-changing climate change is this is it. People right now are planning where to live when their country is underwater. This isn’t a distant future either, it is one that the next generation, and even some of those alive right now, will be present for.


Starbucks and How They are Hurting our Environment

The Sun is reporting that every Starbucks store everywhere is leaving a faucet running. It is said that potable drinking water will become much harder to come by worldwide in the next fifty years, so why is Starbucks wasting water? Because they think it keeps the pipes clean. A theory has has been laughed off by experts. The Sun points out that Starbucks is

…wasting 23.4 MILLION litres a day. That would provide enough daily water for the entire two million-strong population of drought-hit Namibia in Africa or fill an Olympic pool every 83 minutes.

What can you do? Send feedback using their easy form, write an email or a letter, or call and tell Starbucks you won’t do business there until they change their policy.


A Letter to Barack Obama Concerning Coal

Dear Mr. Barack Obama,

Coal has no future. Not in America, not in China, not on this planet. I’ve argued against people who say that you are an regular politician disguised in eloquent phrasings, however your unbending commitment to coal makes me question your integrity. Anyone with half a mind can see that coal is, and always will be, a dirty non-renewable monster. It was a valuable resource way back when, but we are not living in when we are living in now. So please look around you and see that in order to do what is right for our country and our planet you must move forward towards that inevitable admission that coal is, and will forever more be, a dark black plume of smoke clouding our eyes.

environment, technology

The Answers to the Annoying Arguements— Prius vs. the SUV

Why are people so easily fooled?

Right off the bat it needs to be pointed out that the Prius isn’t 100% green, it probably isn’t even 50% green. That said, SUV’s are worse, even if a report by a marketing team uses bad science and silly assumptions to say it ain’t so.

There’s also those folks who talk about how commuting five miles in an SUV is better than commuting twenty miles in a Prius. No kidding! But that isn’t a proper comparison, it is just a terrible argument that completely fails to make any sense. Commutes in the US have steadily increased over the years, so the five mile commute is rare to say the least. But the important thing is that by creating two different distance there is no longer any point of comparison— driving those five miles using a Prius would be better than using an SUV.

Some folks talk about nickel and Sudbury, Ontario (which isn’t as polluted as it used to be, but is very far from being clean), tell them that the new Prius uses lithium batteries not nickel. Also, mention that nickel is used in the manufacturing of most cars, since nickel is needed to make stainless steel.

It might be interesting to point out that the H3 Hummer, and most SUV’s, get about as many miles per gallon as the Ford Model-T.

That said, the Prius isn’t perfect, everyone should make an effort to drive less when possible— no matter what you drive. It is important to remember that there isn’t one car out there that is a friend of the environment, only cars that are less hostile.

environment, seattle

Sounds Like Bad News

The Puget Sound is dying. All our water is in trouble. It’s nothing new, when I was in elementary school we learned about lakes dying because of pollution, it doesn’t take a huge leap to realize that it’ll happen to every body of water that see regualr pollution. Bigger bodies of water, like oceans, just take longer to screw up. We already doomed the polar bear, and now it looks like fish might be goners too.

The people of Seattle are trying to save the Puget Sound, but they don’t seem to be using science which might be a problem. Politicians and the public are all invited to weigh in on the best way to save the sound. I’m not against public debate, but I sure as heck don’t want my neighbor’s idea of how ecology works to be weighed equally with how expert ecologists know it works. The goal is to restore the sound to “good health” by 2020. Considering it is approaching catatonic right now that’s a hefty mission.

The important thing to realize is that not screwing up the environment will cost us, that means making some decisions that will be unpopular. Politicians hate doing that mostly because it could cost them campaign money and votes, and there lies the problem. The thing to realize is that it’s mostly an initial cost— most of the things that help the environment are more cost effective long term. Even changes that seem to cost more will cost us less. Buffer zones and maintain (or growing) forest cover doesn’t make anyone money, but it does aid the environment which is a very limited resource.

Everytime we do something that hurts the environment less we add to the economy. When we choose to continue using oil for instance we aren’t just paying our hard earned cash for that gas at the pump, we are paying by thawing Alaska’s permafrost, we are paying by spilling oil into the ocean, by pouring pollutant’s into our air and lungs, and so much more. It adds up quickly especially as the population grows and continues our legacy of oblivious contentment.

We have to consider that expecting the science of the next generation to come up with a magic pill and fix things is stupid. We have to consider that politicians won’t do anything until they have to and that doing the right thing is rarely fun. Passing our responsibilities off only makes the problems more difficult. What’s worse is that it’s an attitude that gets passed on and so any meaningful change is resisted.

That is why people born in thirty years won’t ever see a polar bear in the wild, and that is why the Puget Sound won’t be healthy by 2020.


The Environment, Stupid

At first I thought I was just seeing more and more about the environment because I was thinking about it more.  Now I realize that isn’t true.  As the problems with the our ecosystems are discovered there is just more news, whether it’s local, national, or international.  Things like ecosystems collapsing, politicians embracing “green” ideas and agendas, half the coral reefs dying in 25 years, and that our consumption of resources is outreaching their production.

I just wonder when it will all finally sink in for most folks.  I also wonder how bad it’ll have to be for that to happen and if there will be any thing to do once it final does become an obvious and undeniable problem. At one time President Clinton had a campaign platform that went (in part) “The economy, stupid.”  I think it is finally time that we hear a similar and equally important message from our current candidates, but this time regarding something that has a much more difficult time bouncing back, our environment.
[tags]environment, the environment stupid, ecosystems, politics, science[/tags]


Home of the Metronatural!… or is it MetroNatural?

Seattle has abandoned it’s last slogan… See-@-L and gone metronatural. Note: this has nothing to do with queer eye for a straight guy. All this new slogan cost was $200,000 and 16 months of work. Considering it borrows from a word coined a dozen years ago I’d say that it might not be that great of a feat, but I’m no marketing exec. People here aren’t very impressed so far, in fact they are comparing it to Washington’s failed slogan SayWA, which I think we can all agree is a terrible slogan (or “branding”) for anything, heck it’s barely even a catchphrase.
The idea is that is that metronatural encompasses a person who loves both the urban and wilds. An interesting juxtaposition sure, but I don’t know if it is real. Good for marketing maybe, but not entirely honest. Yes, there are people here who sincerely care about nature, but there are plenty that don’t and even more that only think they do. The real interesting contradiction is that Seattle has a huge problem with their water and with transportation. Public transportation is a joke, the punch line being Monorail and maybe in a couple years Light Rail. There is no subway. That leaves only the weird bus system which probably isn’t as confusing as it seems, but I haven’t had the patience yet to try to figure out the map which was only available as a 2mb pdf of the entire greater Seattle area. Even if it was a snap, buses are not much better than cars and definitely not a faster, more convenient, or pleasant… and I say that as a person who happily rode on a bus system with problems for three years.

You can’t have a city and a forest, the two are exclusive of one another. But what’s more, the way Seattle is currently setup, you can’t even have environmentally friendly and a city together. I think it is important here to clarify that when I say “environmentally friendly” I don’t mean more people biking to work, which is happening here. That’s great, but unless the city (not a small percentage of its inhabitant, but the city itself) is actively trying to help the environment it is not friendly. Hey, I’d even call it a friend if just tried to make a tiny footprint, rather than a big ugly one it’s leaving now. A city that hurts the environment less than before can’t call itself a friend anymore than a mobster who breaks jaws instead of shooting shooting can call himself your pal.

Don’t get me wrong I like Seattle. It has problems, but so does everywhere else, I just don’t want to ignore the things I see that don’t add up. The nice thing is that it seems like Seattle is a place where these things have a chance of changing, that can’t be said everywhere else.

environment, seattle

Green, but Certainly Not Blue

I’ve been amazed at how beautiful it is here in Seattle, the colors in the sky, the greenery, the mountains, the water.  Well, it turns out the water isn’t so great.  You might have guessed that when I posted the sign that warns of sewage in the water during rain that maybe the water isn’t so great.  Well, that would be a pretty good guess. It turns out they are having a lot of trouble with water pollution in this supposedly eco-friendly area.  Yes, trees are nice, but trees are one part of the environment and I think it is easy to forget the water so long as the surface looks ok-ish.  Recently I’ve been reading reports that talk about things like sewage ruining clam beds, weird white mat covered dead zones, fish killing oxygenless water, and oil spills.  In short, I think that this area is nearing a crisis point where folks won’t be able to ignore what they can’t see.

Seattle is a nice place, don’t get me wrong, and yes this is a problem being echoed around the world, but that just means that it’s time to take drastic measures to clean & protect this large and delicate resource we’ve been enjoying for so long now.

eating out, environment, outdoors, random, seattle, travel

Yum & Yuck

rowingI ate down by the water the other day at a Mexican restaurant called Agua Verde Cafe. The food was delicious, not too pricey, and it was happy hour so my beer only cost $2.50. Okay, can I just say that $2.50 does not a happy hour make, that’s more like a pleasant hour. It wasn’t like I got some expensive beer, it was a Pacifico. Anyway, I had this taco composed of yams, onions, and cheese with some sort of tasty sauce. It was called a Taco Boniato and it was worth every penny. We ate on the deck which was nice, but would have been nicer if the weather was just a tiny bit better, because then they would have had the removable sides taken down, giving a full view of the beautiful lake we were eating beside. After that my friend and I went down to the docks just below so that I could see what water looked like in Seattle. It looks just fine. Below Agua Verde is a paddle club where you can rent kayaks, at $15 an hour it seems worth it to be able to explore what looks like a pretty amazing seascape.
waterwarning signs

I mean, look at how pretty the water looks on the surface, [cue “hard hitting” tv “journalist” overdub] and yet beneath this seemingly pristine facade lies a terrible reality. After these messages!!
[cue commercial] Buy the new iPod

I found this sign posted in quite a few places. But hey, at how often could it possible rain in Seattle? Even if sewage isn’t overflowing into the water while I’m there I’d like to avoid anywhere that sewage ever overflows into. Look at that swimming person on the sign, why can’t he see what a terrible mistake he’s made!  I realize that birds, fish, and little kids do all sorts of business in the water, but sewage seems like taking it up to the next level.


Green City

I mentioned before that Seattle is a green city, and it is. That is what makes articles like this so interesting to me. It is amazing how green Seattle is, but they *want* to do better.


…Mayor Greg Nickels’ goal for regreening the city over the next three decades — the planting of 649,000 trees, plus keeping the tree cover we already have.

—Seattle Post-Intelligencer

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer had this image on it. Showing the difference in tree cover over the last thirty or so years. Yes, that’s not good, but look how green it is! All you need is to compare NYC and Seattle in google maps to realize what it means to be on other side of where the country’s development began.

tree cover in seattle