Monday, July 7, 2008

not the way

this is not the way.

why does the mainstream media support the public's apparent belief that they can continue to live the lifestyle they've been accustomed to?

cleaning out your trunk, avoiding left turns, etc. as advised, are not going to save the world, and probably not even your pocketbook, either.

we need change, on a large-scale, and fast.

get out of your car.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

disappearing orangutans + offshore drilling

Today's disconcerting news is that not only are the world's only wild populations of orangutans disappearing at an alarming rate (I mentioned this phenomenon briefly in an article I wrote for the current issue of LOUDmouth) no thanks to the global palm-oil industry, but also suddenly Americans who are "angry" over $4 gas are in favor of offshore drilling.

First, the orangutans. Of all the world problems we're creating and facing today, and although I am vegetarian, protecting animals hasn't been an issue that particularly resonates with me. (Hell, I haven't even gone to visit the pandas once the three years I've been in Chengdu.) But the orangutans get to me. Not the orangutans themselves, perhaps, but the scenario that led to this outcome: a huge worldwide demand for palm oil. Why? Palm oil was once touted as an environmentally friendly, do-good, alternative component of many daily-use products, ranging from cooking to hygiene and even to bio-fuel. The trees that produce palm are grown mainly in Indonesia and Malaysia. So, naturally, deforestation began because there was a resource that could be converted to cash when sold to the West. Unfortunately for the orangutans, that meant their natural habitat was being destroyed as quickly as loggers could cut down the trees. The AP article plays up the fact that environmental education needs to be put into place at the local level, which, sure, is true--but completely fails to mention any responsibility on the part of the consumers and the parties responsible for driving demand.

Second, the offshore drilling. Now, I don't know that much about the potential negative consequences of offshore drilling beyond the obvious, but a) I have to assume that there was a reason for the moratorium placed in 1981, so why is that reason suddenly now irrelevant because some Americans are angry over $4 gas; b) At the rate we're (the global we, with an especially long finger pointing at the U.S., who according to this article, uses a quarter of all the oil we consume) consuming oil, no matter how much we find, there will never be enough; and c) Who the hell do these people think they are?

The crux of the problem is that people can't seem to see past the end of the gas nozzle on this. As long as they can get in their cars and go where they want to go at the price they've been accustomed to paying for decades, they don't care. But as soon as it gets inconvenient, or more expensive, they're ready to go to the ends of the earth--places that were formerly forbidden--to search for more. This is no way to address the problem. Whether or not these new areas yield tons of oil, it's still a finite resource. Whether or not offshore drilling has disastrous consequences on the environment, it's not going to yield an eternal spring of oil that can keep the entire Western world and add a growing number of people in "developing nations" behind their steering wheels and living as decadently as Americans in the latter half of the 20th century. Times are changing, and it's time to get used to it.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Oh Man, Do I Feel Sorry for You ...

A few things I've read in the Western media recently have made me cringe:

First, this one. Makes me feel deep, deep pity and sorrow when I read about how these families have had their beach vacations and exotic bath washes stolen from them.

9 in 10 see rising gas prices causing family hardship

By ALAN FRAM, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — Four dollar a gallon gas has stolen a beach vacation in South Carolina from Julie Jacobs' family and exotic bath washes from Angela Crawford. Phil English had to sell his beloved but fuel-guzzling red pickup.

Like a plague that does not discriminate by economic class, race or age, soaring gas prices are inflicting pain throughout the U.S. Nine in 10 are expecting the ballooning costs to squeeze them financially over the next half year, an Associated Press-Yahoo! News poll said Monday.

Nearly half think that hardship will be serious. To cope, most are driving less, easing off the air conditioning and heating at home and cutting corners elsewhere. Half are curtailing vacation plans; nearly as many are considering buying cars that burn less gas.


Then, there's this one which at the end provides a comparison of the price of a Starbucks cappuccino to that of gasoline--an analogy I've heard before, from my sister, whose friend once suggested she just dump a latte into her gas tank. Again, I feel really sympathy for these folks with their having to choose between $4 coffee or $4 gasoline. Boo hoo hoo.

"Starbucks coffees don't come cheap, and with Americans doling out more and more money to fill up their cars, many have decided to forego their frothy coffees.

A medium cappuccino at Starbucks costs 3.69 dollars in Washington, or the equivalent of 29.50 dollars per gallon.

Gasoline seems a bargain at 4.08 per gallon.

Twenty-eight percent of US motorists have stopped going to Starbucks or other coffee houses entirely, and 21 percent are going less often due to skyrocketing gas prices, a survey conducted last month by Kelley's Blue Book showed.

For Conley, giving up coffee is as much out of the question as is giving up driving.

'I wish it were as easy as cutting back, but I am deep in the grips of caffeine addiction,' Conley told AFP."

-from an AP report about Starbucks announcement that it would close 600 of its U.S. shops