Go Toward the Light. Not the Bulb, the Light.

Endangered species? The incandescent light bulb is not only still here, but has become the latest side show in an increasingly demented national shriekfest. (Photo by James Bowe/Flickr)

The recent Congressional kerfuffle over light bulbs — please do not refer to it as a “debate” — would have been funny if Jon Stewart had staged it for The Daily Show (“For the latest, here is our Senior Light Bulb Correspondent…”). Instead it was a performance staged by the senior legislators of the United States, a country beset by multiple threats to its continued existence (it’s a long list, to be sure, but light bulbs are not on it), and as such it was simply terrifying. Continue reading

Lights Out All Over the World

The industrial model of the power grid -- massive generating stations, massive distribution lines, is failing all over the world. An option, largely untried: make your energy where you live and work. (Photo by underclassrising.net/flickr)

Much of the world is slowly losing the struggle to supply its people with the electricity required to maintain the industrial lifestyle. Heat waves and droughts — made worse by industry’s profligate burning of fossil fuels — are at the same time increasing demand for air conditioning and reducing the supply of hydro power. Other sources of electricity — fossil-fuel burning and nuclear fission — are afflicted by rising prices and more frequent disasters. Continue reading

Gardening a Crime In Canada, Too

Growing vegetables in this yard, on Canada's Vancouver Island, could get its owners six months in jail. Note the unsightly piles of dirt, and the criminally edible produce.

A couple who live on Vancouver Island (off Canada’s western coast) has been threatened with six months in prison for growing food on their 2.5-acre lot in a semi–rural location. When Dirk Becker bought the property in 1999, the soil had been stripped down to bedrock and sold by the previous owner — that was perfectly legal. Since then, Becker has been slowly and laboriously building soil, in which to grow fruits and vegetables. That is illegal. Continue reading

Apocalypse Now? Not With a Bang, but a Blunder?

The US Capitol, becoming a beacon of stupidity, lighting the way down.

It is increasingly possible that the catastrophic unraveling of the Industrial Age may begin in two weeks, not because of global warming or oil shortages or water wars or natural disaster, but because of a stupid political ploy by the Know-Nothings who are now ascendant in the US Congress. Instead of “starving the beast” — by which they mean disabling government by preventing it from raising revenue — they have discovered that they can kill the beast by preventing it from borrowing revenue. Gleefully, they are threatening to refuse to raise the technical limit on US debt, by which means they may throw the government into default on or about August 2. Continue reading

Three Media Home Runs. No, Seriously.

If they gave Oscars for journalism, these would be our nominees for this year in the categories newspaper, radio and TV. (Photo by Cliff1066/Flickr)

The Lamestream (news) Media (thank you, Sarah) don’t get much respect here or anywhere else these days, because they mostly do not deserve any. But now and again, traditional journalism rears its gorgeous head, and uses words and images to reveal and explain the realities of our world in riveting and memorable ways. Typically, such works sink from sight and remembrance like stones tossed in a polluted river, so let us remove our hats and mumble a few respectful words over three masterful works that appeared in the past few days — one in a newspaper, one on the radio (remember radio programs?) and, yes, even one on TV.   Continue reading

Biodiesel: Not Sustainable if it’s Industrial

Converting a Hummer to bio-diesel, as this one has been, is like having a diet drink after gorging at McPiggy’s. As it turns out, converting an industry to bio-diesel makes about as much sense. (Photo by Paul Keller/Flickr)

In 2003, the European Union threw all its weight behind bio-diesel — a fuel manufactured mostly from plant seeds — as the sustainable replacement for fossil fuel. The members created the world’s largest bio-diesel industry, and now to their sorrow are discovering the truth in what has been a mantra of the Daily Impact: renewables aren’t sustainable if they’re industrial. The realization may destroy the $13 billion industry. Continue reading

Gardening a Crime in Oak Park MI

These raised beds for vegetables may put a Michigan mother of six in the slammer for 93 days.

Julie Bass of Oak Park, Michigan figured her lawn was gone anyway — it had been torn up for a sewer repair — so instead of going back to the water-hogging, fertilizer-leaching, pesticide-soaked obscenity that graces everybody’s front yard, she would do a far, far better thing. She put in five raised beds and started growing fresh, organic vegetables for her family. Smart, sustainable, nutritious, and illegal. The city code says if the ground is not paved, it has to be  covered with grass, shrubbery or “suitable” plants. Vegetables, says the city, are not “suitable.” The city prosecutor plans to take “all the way” prosecution of the mother of six children for crimes that could get her 93 days in jail. Seriously.

Something Fishy in Your Fish

There is nothing pretty about the fish being imported into the US -- and that's 80 per cent of the fish we eat. (Photo by Beatrice Murch/Flickr)

Globalized industrial fish factories are flooding the markets of the world with dangerously tainted fish laced with toxins and carcinogens banned by law from US food. They are doing this to replace the fish once supplied by industrial fishing fleets that have virtually destroyed the world’s stocks of wild fish; 80 per cent of the fish consumed in the United States is imported, and half the imported fish comes from fish factories. The tainted fish continues to come in despite ineffective efforts by state and national governments to stop the flow — efforts that, weak as they always were, are now being eviscerated by state and federal budget cuts. The fish factories, meanwhile, are making lots of money. Continue reading

Oil in the Yellowstone: Deja Vu All Over Again

An oiled bird struggles to stay alive. Like many of the statements made by Exxon this week in Montana, this picture has nothing to do with reality on the Yellowstone River, it’s generic. (Photo by Igor Golubenkov/fotopedia)

Like Bill Murray in the movie Groundhog Day, we keep moving through the same sequence of events, disaster after disaster, until it really gets kind of annoying. This is the industry’s Standard Operating Procedure. First announcement: “We have a minor problem with ___________.” Fill in the blank: oil in the water, radiation in the water, methane in the water, water in New Orleans, whatever. Second Announcement: “The problem would now appear to be x orders of magnitude worse than we thought, but we have it completely under control.” Three: “It apparently will take us x (units of time, from days to millennia) to get the problem under control, but we will not rest until everything is like it was before.” Four: “No one could have predicted this.” Said over a distant, rising chorus of “I did!” “We did!” “Over here! We did too.” Today it’s the Yellowstone River. Continue reading

Capital Punishment for Corporations: Time to Start

We used to do this to horse thieves. How about executing a few corporations? (Photo by Joe Hall/Flickr)

The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that corporations are citizens, their money is speech, and their right to buy politicians with their money is protected by the Constitution. If they are persons, in this respect, then why should their lives not be forfeit when they commit horrific crimes? We kill people, don’t we? And if we’re going to start meting out capital punishment to corporations, I have a nomination for who goes first: Massey Energy.

 

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