Mar 26, 2011

"Justice and Liberty" - American Bald Eagle Hatch - Alcoa Bald Eagle Camera at Davenport Works - Camera
Pretty neat...
We are enjoying watching...
Hope you will...
Monte & Eileen - Blog




Saturday, March 26, 2011
Still One Eaglet

Still just one eaglet in the nest, but the other egg does have a hole and a crack. If not tonight, we should see the second one tomorrow. We saw lots of trips to the nest today with fish and a parent feeding the eaglet. We also had a successful switch to our solar powered generator today. As long as it continues to operate well, we should be in good shape even if the flood gets high enough in the coming weeks to cut our regular power service.

Saturday, March 26, 2011
One Eaglet Hatched So Far
As of this morning we have seen one eaglet in the nest when the parent moved off the nest for a minute. We would hope to see the other egg hatch today. We will still be doing some work today to switch to our solar power for the camera and feed. It is possible the feed will be off for a while at some point, but we hope it will not last too long.

March 25, 2011
Hatching begins?
We are seeing a lot of activity in the nest today. Also a number of online comments and a few phone calls from people telling us they have seen a hole in one of the eggs and that the parent eagle was picking at that same egg. Stay tuned. We could be close.

March 21, 2011
The Alcoa EagleCam is now streaming live 24/7. You can still see still images and earlier recorded video below. This is the second year for these two eagles in this nest and the first year for the camera. The two eggs in the nest were laid between February 17th and February 20th. We would expect them to hatch sometime after March 24th. The two adults (named Liberty and Justice) take turns tending to the eggs with Liberty spending most of the time in the nest. Feel free to click the Facebook or Tweet buttons located on this page to share the EagleCam with your friends. We look forward to seeing both eggs hatch and having the eaglets fledge later this spring. The tree with the nest is next to an Alcoa building near the Mississippi River. We do expect the river to exceed flood stage in the next couple of weeks. The power for our camera and our network feed are in that building. We are working on some alternate power solutions but if we are not successful, we may lose the camera feed for a couple of weeks. We will keep you posted.

Thursday, February 24, 2011
Big news in the last week for the eagles Justice and Liberty. On February 17th an egg appeared in the nest. Over the weekend, on Sunday, February 20th, a second egg appeared. Most of the time Liberty appears to spend almost all of her time tending to the clutch. We have seen Justice take a turn a few times to give “mom” a break. The first egg appeared when we had a warm spurt of weather with temps getting up near 60 degrees. Since then the weather is back to more normal late-winter fare. We are expecting some snow tonight and then maybe rain late in the weekend and into next week. Based on a 35-day incubation window we could expect to see eaglets sometime after March 24th.

Videos from February 2011
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Friday, February 11, 2011
Justice and Liberty weathered the blizzard of 2011 in the Quad Cities without too much trouble. Thanks to the high winds during the snow event, very little snow accumulated in the nest. As you can see in the newest videos they were back hanging out in the nest a couple of days after the storm. They have added quite a few new pieces to the nest in the past couple of weeks. They are clearly getting ready for spring. We are hoping to be able to stream the webcam live in a couple of weeks.

Videos from February 2011
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Monday, January 24, 2011
During Quad City Bald Eagle Days earlier this month we asked people to vote on names for the two eagles living at Davenport Works. Alcoa employees had selected five sets of names in December. Those five sets of names were on a ballot at Bald Eagles Days. With nearly 1,500 votes cast, the winning names are Liberty and Justice. We have now posted several new videos. The eagles have been spending more time in the nest the last couple of weeks. Most of the time they are adding sticks and other material to the nest. They seem very particular about how the sticks are woven into the structure. Sometimes they will work on one stick for a long time until they get it just the way they want it to fit.

Videos from January 2011
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Wednesday, January 05, 2011
A year ago sharp eyed Alcoa employees at Davenport Works spotted what appeared to be a bald eagle nest in a tree near a lightly used facility at the plant. Last spring the pair of eagles successfully hatched two eaglets. In November of 2010, Alcoa consulted with U.S. Fish & Wildlife to install a camera in the tree above the nest and was able to use power from that building to power the camera. Alcoa is working to get the web camera set up for on-line viewing; there are logistical issues as the site is remote from the rest of the facility. In the meantime, new images and videos will be supplied periodically. The eagles have been seen in the nest in late November and December. Some days they bring additional sticks to add to the nest and other times they use the nest as a place to eat a fish they have grabbed from the nearby Mississippi River. The eagles are not expected to stay in the nest until the spring when eggs are laid.

Until the camera is ready for public access, here are some videos of the eagles in the nest, filmed in December 2010.
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Thom Hartmann & Director Tom Shadyac: I Am

What's wrong with the world and how do we fix it? 'I Am' by the Director Tom Shadyac.

GE, World's Largest Corporation, Paid Zero Dollars in U.S. Taxes Last Year

How can that be, you ask? Actually, it's pretty simple.

You know how we've been covering the efforts of U.S. Uncut, the growing campaign to stop corporate tax dodgers from exploiting overseas tax havens? Well here's an excellent example of why such efforts are desperately needed, from the front page of the New York Times:

General Electric, the nation’s largest corporation, had a very good year in 2010.

The company reported worldwide profits of $14.2 billion, and said $5.1 billion of the total came from its operations in the United States.

Its American tax bill? None. In fact, G.E. claimed a tax benefit of $3.2 billion.

How can that be, you ask?

The company has been cutting the percentage of its American profits paid to the Internal Revenue Service for years, resulting in a far lower rate than at most multinational companies.

Its extraordinary success is based on an aggressive strategy that mixes fierce lobbying for tax breaks and innovative accounting that enables it to concentrate its profits offshore. G.E.’s giant tax department, led by a bow-tied former Treasury official named John Samuels, is often referred to as the world’s best tax law firm....The team includes former officials not just from the Treasury, but also from the I.R.S. and virtually all the tax-writing committees in Congress.

If that doesn't make your blood boil, I don't know what would.

Corporations argue that the U.S.'s top corporate tax rate of 35% is prohibitively high and puts them at a disadvantage against foreign companies. But even if you buy that argument (and I do not, because I think corporations should be responsible for paying taxes in countries in which they reap huge profits), it's hard to swallow when the corporation in question -- and not just any corporation, but the biggest in the world -- is claiming a tax benefit. Not only did GE not pay any taxes in the U.S. last year, it effectively got money back from the U.S. government.

But wait, there's more! ThinkProgress dug up a speech given by GE CEO Jeffery Immelt at West Point in 2009. Titled "Renewing American Leadership," the speech contains a rather ironic take-down of corporate greed:

Few of us will ever do what many of you will do for duty, honor and country. But America doesn’t expect heroism from all of us. [...] Wherever our talents lie, and whenever our conscience requires, we must all, to the best of our abilities, help keep America the great face for good it has long been. We are trying to do that at GE. [...]

I think we are at the end of a difficult generation of business leadership, and maybe leadership in general. Tough-mindedness, a good trait – was replaced by meanness and greed – both terrible traits. Rewards became perverted. The richest people made the most mistakes with the least accountability.

And Immelt dared give that speech to the nation's future military leaders -- a group that knows a thing or two about true sacrifice.





Farmers Sue USDA Over Monsanto Alfalfa - Again

A flowering alfalfa plant

A coalition of farmers and environmental groups filed a lawsuit against the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) on March 18 to challenge the agency's recent decision to fully deregulate Monsanto's Roundup Ready alfalfa.

This is the second time the USDA has been sued over its approval of Roundup Ready alfalfa, which is genetically engineered (GE) to tolerate glyphosate, a popular herbicide commonly sold under the Monsanto brand name Roundup. The latest lawsuit, filed by groups like the Center for Food Safety (CFS) and the National Family Farm Coalition, opens a new chapter in the five-year battle over the GE alfalfa seed developed by Monsanto and Forage Genetics.

Industry watchdogs and farmers say that Roundup Ready alfalfa will increase reliance on already overused herbicides like Roundup, encourage the spread of herbicide-resistant "superweeds" and contaminate organic and conventional alfalfa with Monsanto transgenes through cross-pollination.

About 93 percent of the alfalfa planted in the US is grown without herbicides, but up to 23 million more pounds of herbicide could be sprayed annually following the introduction of Roundup Ready alfalfa into America's fields, according to USDA estimates.

Alfalfa is not just grown for human consumption. Alfalfa seed and hay feed dairy cows and other livestock, and the growing organic food industry is concerned that cross-contamination of transgenes could threaten the production of organic meat and milk. The USDA, however, recently concluded that Roundup Ready alfalfa does not pose a significant "plant pest risk" despite evidence that transgenes from the alfalfa have contaminated conventional alfalfa in the past.

The USDA first deregulated Roundup Ready alfalfa in 2005. Internal emails recently obtained by Truthout show that Monsanto worked closely with regulators to edit its original petition to deregulate the alfalfa. One regulator accepted Monsanto's help in conducting the USDA's original environmental assessment of the alfalfa.

Farmers and biotech opponents soon filed a lawsuit against the USDA to challenge the initial deregulation. In 2007, a federal court ruled that the USDA did not consider the full environmental impacts of Roundup Ready alfalfa and vacated the agency's decision to deregulate the alfalfa. Monsanto and its allies appealed the decision, and last year, the Supreme Court reversed the lower court's ruling, but ordered the USDA to produce an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the alfalfa before allowing it back into America's fields.

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The USDA released a final EIS on Roundup Ready alfalfa in late 2010, and the GE alfalfa was fully deregulated on January 27. The USDA went on to approve two more GE seeds within weeks of the alfalfa decision.

Roundup Ready alfalfa was deregulated just weeks after USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack was pressed by Republican Congressmen, some of whom recently received campaign contributions from Monsanto and the biotech industry, to dump a proposal to geographically isolate Roundup Ready alfalfa from organic and conventional alfalfa and, instead, legalize the GE seed without any government oversight.

The latest lawsuit filed by CFS and its allies argues that the final EIS ignores or downplays the threats Roundup Ready alfalfa poses to conventional alfalfa farms and the environment.

"USDA's review is inaccurate and completely failed to consider critical issues," said plaintiff farmer Phil Geertson of the family-owned Geertson Seed Farms company. "The decision to deregulate Roundup Ready alfalfa opens the door to widespread transgenic contamination, costing farmers their markets, reputation and ability to grow natural varieties."

The USDA, however, contends that Monsanto's transgenic alfalfa is just as safe as the alfalfa that the Geertson family has grown for decades.

Mar 25, 2011

Cob Construction

Looks at cob construction as well as the results of a cob "shake test" to examine durability during an earthquake

What Would the World Look Like If We Relied on Industrial Agriculture to Feed Everyone?

For the sake of argument let's consider how it might look if industrial agriculture becomes the path humanity chooses to feed itself.

March 24, 2011

The world's population will probably hit 9 billion by 2050. That's about the only thing agreed upon by partisans in a long-waged debate over how best to feed all those bellies.

On March 8, Dr. Olivier De Schutter, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food, released a report arguing that the use of small-scale, diverse farming methods, which he calls "agroecology," can double agricultural production in poverty-stricken areas, increase the economic prospects of the inhabitants, and improve their local environment.

This argument refutes a common dismissal of sustainable agriculture: that it could never feed the world. That's the contention of those who believe in agriculture methods that involve the intensive use of energy, water, machinery, and chemicals to grow cash crop monocultures. I recently discussed these competing paradigms with De Schutter, in the context of what it might look like if industrial agriculture were, in fact, to feed the world.

"I'm surprised at the simplistic diagnosis that appears to be dominant in public discourse," De Schutter said. "The official mantra is we need a 70 percent increase in agricultural production to feed the world. But this completely oversimplifies the debate. It only pays attention at the supply side of the equation, when we must also work on demand -- for instance the overconsumption of meat in industrialized countries. By 2050, if the current curves continue, 50 percent of global cereal production will go either to feeding cattle or to the irresponsible push towards biofuels production and consumption through fiscal stimuli and subsidies."

Corn and soy, two of the world's most common crops, are both typically grown with industrial farming methods. Growing corn and soy for cattle feed is a terribly inefficient way to produce food calories, and using corn to produce ethanol is an inefficient way to produce fuel. Clearly, the easiest way to increase the food supply is to grow food for people, not cows and cars.

Another problem with a myopic focus on the supply-side, according to De Schutter, is that "it neglects the urgent need to combat waste. We lose 30 to 35 percent of crops post-harvest because of poor storage facilities and communication infrastructures in developing countries."

Despite the many holes in the supply-side solution to world hunger, for the sake of argument let’s suppose industrial agriculture becomes the path that humanity chooses, and consider how that might look.

If recent history is any guide, it may play out with farmers in wealthy countries producing surpluses that are shipped to poor countries. These surpluses are only possible with agriculture subsidies and cheap oil, neither one of which are reliable in the long-term.

Elsewhere in the world we can find examples of another possible future scenario, in which industrial agriculture methods are exported to the third world. This happened 40 years ago in Punjab, India, which in the 1970s became a poster child for industrial agriculture. Huge gains were recorded, especially in wheat production. But according to a 2007 report put out by the Punjab State Council for Science & Technology, "Over-intensification of agriculture over the years has led to water depletion, reduced soil fertility and micronutrient deficiency, non-judicious use of farm chemicals and problems of pesticide residue, reduced genetic diversity, soil erosion, atmospheric and water pollution and overall degradation of the rather fragile agro ecosystem of the state."

According to De Schutter, "Climate change and environmental destruction are the most important factors behind recent spikes in food prices. Pushing agriculture methods that accelerate this is a recipe for disaster."

Here at home, the experience of American farmers demonstrates the effectiveness with which industrial agriculture can destroy the social and economic fabric of rural communities. Across the heartland, a few farms have prospered and consolidated the land from the many farms that have failed. Once autonomous farmers became workers on factory farms, or left home for the city. In the third world this pattern would likely be repeated. Small farmers would become day laborers, or move to the already swollen urban slums.

Third world farmers who hang onto their small pieces of land could face the constant threat of financial ruin if they follow the path of industrial farming. India is experiencing an epidemic of farmer suicides resulting from farmers borrowing money for pesticides, fertilizers, high-yield seeds, and the digging of wells. If a crop fails, or spoils, or the price of that crop takes a sudden dive, or the well runs dry -- any of these all-too-common occurrences can initiate a debt spiral that many farmers can't find their way out of. Since 1997, over 200,000 Indian farmers have committed suicide.

Many proponents of hi-tech farming methods like to claim theirs is the "scientific approach," a notion that makes De Schutter bristle. "Agroecology is science -- it's the combination of agronomics and ecological science, and it's the kind of science that is best suited to the needs of the 21st century, where resource efficiency should be the prime objective. The priority should be to save water, preserve the soils, and de-link agriculture from fossil energies.

"Agroecology is knowledge-intensive and thus requires that we invest in training of farmers, in farmer field-schools, and in horizontal exchanges of best agricultural practices that are most suitable to specific agro-ecological environments. Agroecology is not a return to some traditional past, it is the cutting edge of farming. It mimics nature in the field, and uses resource-saving techniques that can be of greatest benefit to cash-strapped farmers and to women, for whom access to credit is most difficult, and who cannot afford to run high levels of debt."

Given an infinite amount of oil, water and aid money, it's probably true that industrial agriculture could feed our growing population. But it's difficult to imagine how that might look good. Dr. De Schutter's report gives scientific support to the idea that farming in a way that strengthens communities and local economies, spares resources, and models diverse ecosystems can also feed the world. Unless you own stock in oil, chemical or agribusiness companies, it's hard to see how agroecology methods don't make a lot more sense.

Pete's Greens- At The Heart of The Locavore Movement

Peter Johnson, owner and innovator at Pete's Greens in Craftsbury, VT. Pete talks about his remarkable four-season organic farm, how the local food movement is helping to revive this area of Vermont and how, if they can do it, anyone can!

Mar 24, 2011

One Wisconsin Now - We Are Wisconsin

A Real Grass Roots Democracy Protest... not a corporate funded tea party event! If you stay in streets long enough, you will be heard and will win... WE have learned this from what is going on world wide. Power to people who want justice, fairness, and equally shared sacrifice...! You got to like it!!! Monte

Mar 23, 2011

Kochs Profit from Canadian Eco-Nightmare | Environment

Koch Industries processes one in four barrels of U.S.-bound Alberta tar sand, while pumping millions of dollars into highly conservative, anti-green causes.

March 22, 2011

What do Tea Party rallies, Republican victories, climate-change deniers, Wisconsin's anti-union push, and attacks on a cap-and-trade market for carbon emissions have in common?

They're all fueled in part by profits derived from Alberta, Canada's oil sands.

Those profits, flowing to a single company, are helping bankroll a libertarian offensive many observers think is shifting America's political culture profoundly to the right. One of the central tenets of that campaign is a disbelief not only in the pressing risks of climate change, but that humans are even causing it.

That article of faith is now being embraced by the American public, with only 51 percent concerned about global warming, compared to 66 percent three years ago.

And it's no exaggeration to say the roots of this campaign can largely be traced back to two powerful businessmen: Charles and David Koch. Together, America's fifth-richest citizens -- each worth $21.5 billion -- own Koch Industries, a refining, pipeline, chemical and paper conglomerate that manufactures common household products such as Brawny paper towels and Stainmaster carpets. They're also one of the biggest refiners of Alberta oil sands crude, handling an estimated 25 percent of all imports entering the U.S.

Anytime a clean energy law threatens to impact those operations, the Kochs fight back hard. Not content anymore to wage war from the sidelines, the brothers and their allies have now installed themselves at the heart of Republican power in Washington, D.C.

Never before in the U.S. has the oil sands industry enjoyed such direct political influence.

Kochs pulled out of shadows

Despite being America's second-largest privately run company, Koch Industries was virtually unknown to the wider public until last spring.

That was when Greenpeacereleased a report detailing how the conglomerate had funneled tens of millions of dollars between 2005 and 2008 to groups skeptical that climate change exists.

Such activism is central to the Koch brothers' hard-line libertarian ideology, which espouses a general distrust of government control.

As more reports surfaced about Koch Industries -- notably a lengthy New Yorker expose in August -- the company's growing political influence gained national attention.

The brothers are now widely thought to be one of the driving forces behind the Tea Party movement, founding an advocacy group called Americans for Prosperity, which has provided critical funding and logistical support. Americans for Prosperity played a lead role in the Republican takeover of congress in last December's midterm elections. Budgeting $45 million for political advocacy, the group ran hard-hitting radio and TV ads throughout the year extremely critical of Democrat congressmen, especially those who'd endorsed national climate-change laws.

In one, average-looking Coloradans filmed in front of rancher's fields lambastBetsy Markey, their representative, because she "voted for cap and trade, the new energy taxes that would cost Colorado thousands of jobs."

Putting together a Tea Party

At the same time Americans for Prosperity helped coordinate and organize Tea Party rallies from coast to coast. Drawing upon an often confusing mix of grassroots idealism, government distrust and oil company mandates, the movement endorsed right-wing candidates across America, many of whome were elected to the House and Senate last year.

Though David Koch denies any links to the Tea Party movement, an unnamed Republican insider quoted by the New Yorker thought otherwise.

"The Koch brothers gave the money that founded [the Tea Party]," he said. "It's like they put the seeds in the ground. Then the rainstorm comes, and the frogs come out of the mud -- and they're our candidates."

It's highly probable that at least some of that money came from Koch Industries' major investments in Alberta's oil sands industry.

Flint Hills Resources, a fully owned Koch subsidiary, operates a Minnesota refinery capable of processing 320,000 barrels of crude a day, about four-fifths of which is sourced from Alberta.

To put that in context, SolveClimate News recently estimated that this single refinery handles one quarter of all oil sands crude entering the U.S. That would make Koch Industries one of the top players in the industry. (It's not clear exactly how much revenue that refinery brings in, because the company is privately held and doesn't make those figures publicly available.)

Kochs target global warming laws

Oil sands crude requires more energy to produce and refine than conventional oil, generally resulting in much higher greenhouse gas emissions. Refineries that depend on it are especially vulnerable to the types of clean energy legislation proposed in growing force over the past few years.

Koch Industries appears to be particularly attuned to global warming laws that could hurt its bottom line. The company was one of the first oil firms to lobby directly against a national low carbon fuel standard in 2007, filing records that state: "Oppose restraints on production and use of energy."

Since then, fuel standards have become one of the fiercest battlegrounds in Washington's war over the oil sands. Those laws, if ever enacted, could be equivalent to taking 30 million cars off the road by 2020, according to researchcited by Barack Obama during his presidential election campaign.

They would do this in part by discouraging American suppliers from using road fuels derived from Alberta's oil sands and other high-carbon sources -- precisely the type of fuels that Koch-owned Flint Hills Resources produces.

As Koch Industries notes on its Web site: "[This legislation] would be particularly devastating for refiners that use heavy Canadian crude oil because the policy seeks to discourage or even prevent the U.S. from benefiting from this essential, reliable resource."

Republican friends elected

For the time being, it appears the Koch brothers have little to worry about. Every attempt so far to enact a national low carbon fuel standard has been scuttled by intense fossil fuel lobbying, sometimes with the "support" of the Canadian and Alberta governments.

And the last midterm elections produced a Republican stronghold generally hostile to the very idea that climate change is even a problem, much less one that should be addressed.

Koch Industries wields considerable influence in this new political environment, especially on the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, where itcontributed $279,500 to 22 of the panel's 31 Republicans, the largest donation of any oil and gas player.

Already, the Republican majority in the House voted to cut all American fundingfor the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, one of the lead organizations studying global warming.

And the House Energy Committee continues to push legislation that would eliminate the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's authority to regulate greenhouse gases.

The rationale for such an attack was laid out in a Wall Street Journal op-ed last December, co-authored by Energy Committee head Fred Upton (a Michigan Republican), and Americans for Prosperity leader Tim Phillips.

They called the EPA's plans to reduce America's carbon emissions "an unconstitutional power grab that will kill millions of jobs -- unless Congress steps in."

Last week, Democrats on the energy panel introduced amendments that would have forced their Republican colleagues to acknowledge that global warming poses major environmental threats.

All 31 Republican members declined to vote in favor of the amendments, claiming instead that the science around climate change "is not settled."

Kochs backed Wisconsin's anti-labor governor

Koch Industries has not restricted its growing political activism to Washington.

In Wisconsin, early versions of the state's Clean Energy Jobs Act contained a low carbon fuel standard. But state policymakers dropped that provision last May, possibly a result of nearly $400,000 in Koch lobbying (not to mention pressurefrom the Alberta and Canadian governments).

The Koch brothers appear to have also played an instigating role in the Wisconsin labor protests. Their company was one of the biggest funders of Republican governor Scott Walker's election campaign. Walker, once in office, proposed spending cuts targeting union benefits and bargaining rights, causing a massive public backlash.

Americans for Prosperity executives reportedly encouraged the labor showdown even before Walker was sworn in. The group is now working with policymakers and activists in Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania to slash their union spending.

While all this was happening, Americans for Prosperity was coordinating a public relations campaign to kill cap and trade in New Hampshire. The Republican-dominated legislature had proposed a bill ejecting New Hampshire from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a 10-state coalition attempting to combat climate change. During the lead-up to the vote, Americans for Prosperity paid forautomated phone calls to citizens across the state, urging them to support the bill. It passed recently with a wide margin, effectively terminating New Hampshire's long-term climate change plan.

And that's not all, wrote AFP's Phil Kerpen afterward. "In the process, it could deal the death blow to cap and trade both regionally and nationally."

That'd be a huge win for Koch Industries, which wouldn't have to worry about the high emissions caused by refining Alberta oil sands crude, at least until the next clean energy law was proposed.

In the meantime, the Koch brothers hope to consolidate political control not just over Congress, but the White House too. Watch for their hand in the next presidential election, where the Kochs plan to raise $88 million to advance a conservative agenda.

3/4ths of Senate GOP Doesn't Believe in Science -- When Did Republicans Go Completely Off the Deep End? | Tea Party and the Right

The Tea Party and its allies had made it unacceptable to the GOP base to be anywhere except pandering to the anti-science crowd.


You’ve got to go back to the Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925 for a precedent to the anti-science mania that is currently sweeping the GOP. Then, the issue was teaching Darwin’s work on evolution in the schools. Today, the issue is global warming. Then, as now, large numbers of politicians tapped into the stratum of popular culture that simply rejects science as the basis for public or personal decisions. The chief prosecutor of high school teacher John Scopes, William Jennings Bryan, gloated that literal interpretation of the Bible trumped scientific knowledge. This resonated with large masses of ordinary folks, the ones H. L. Mencken and the liberal press were calling “yokels” and “morons.”

Turns out the yokels and morons won, at least for a generation. Scopes was found guilty of violating the Tennessee law that prohibited teaching evolution, and his conviction (though later overturned on a technicality) galvanized the anti-evolution movement for years. Politicians came pouring in. Scores of resolutions were introduced in state legislatures and school boards all over the country, setting back the teaching of evolution for decades until logic and reason and the scientific method gradually reasserted themselves in the culture.

Today, Republicans are falling over themselves in a rush to ridicule the science that shows our use of fossil fuels is producing greenhouse gases that are warming the planet to disastrous levels. These findings were confirmed even by the Bush administration before it left office, as well as by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and every other significant scientific academy around the world, not to mention the unpaid global work of hundreds of volunteer scientists for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

But anti-scientists are undaunted by facts. More than half of the incoming Republican caucus denies the validity of climate change science. Some 74 percent of Republicans in the U.S. Senate now take that stance, as do 53 percent of GOP in the House. Here’s a sampler of what some of their leading illuminati have to say about it:

“I personally believe that the solar flares are more responsible for climatic cycles than anything that human beings do. …” — Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, Wisconsin

“Nobody really knows the cause. The earth cools, the earth warms … It could be caused by carbon dioxide or methane. Maybe we should kill the cows to stop the methane, or stop breathing to stop the CO2 … Thousands of people die every year of cold, so if we had global warming it would save lives … We ought to look out for people. The earth can take care of itself.” — Rep. Duncan Hunter, California

“There was a report a couple of weeks ago that in fact you look at this last year, it was the warmest year in the last decade, I think was the numbers that came out. I don’t — I accept that. I do not say that it is man-made.” — Rep. Fred Upton, Michigan

“The greatest hoax ever perpetuated on the American people.” — Sen. James Inhofe, Oklahoma

Rep. John Shimkus of Illinois says we need not worry about the planet being destroyed because, citing chapter 8, verse 22 of the Book of Genesis, God promised Noah it wouldn’t happen again after the great flood.

Sen. John McCain co-authored a good global warming bill when running for president in 2008. But he did a 180-degree turnabout when running for re-election to Arizona’s Senate seat two years later, suddenly saying, “There’s great questions about it that need to be resolved.”

What happened?

The Tea Party and its allies had made it unacceptable to the GOP base to be anywhere except pandering to the anti-science crowd.

None of this would have surprised historian Richard Hofstadter, who won a Pulitzer in 1964 for his book Anti-Intellectualism in American Life. Starting with the colonies, Hofstadter shows how the vast underlying stratum of anti-elite, anti-reason, anti-science Americans has frequently erupted into political and cultural action. These are folks who never heard of the Enlightenment of the 18th century, and do not experience a lot of reason, logic or the empirical method in their daily lives. They live by “common sense,” personal relationships and superstition. They have always been with us, and there are a lot of them.

Their outburst into today’s anti-science global warming mania would just be the latest chapter in Hofstadter’s book.

You might think that the revolution of Internet-blogging-networking technology would work to spread sound scientific knowledge more broadly, but you would be wrong. The new technology spreads a cacophony of voices in which the pre-Enlightenment folks are not only equal but more numerous and dominant than the voices of reason.

Journalist Charles Pierce not long ago wrote an essay on “Idiot America,” followed by a book of that name, in which he argued that “the rise of Idiot America today represents — for profit mainly, but also, and more cynically, for political advantage and in the pursuit of power — the breakdown of a consensus that the pursuit of knowledge is a good. It also represents the ascendancy of the notion that the people whom we should trust the least are the people who best know what they’re talking about. In the new media age, everybody is a historian, or a preacher, or a scientist, or a sage. And if everyone is an expert, then nobody is, and the worst thing you can be in a society where everybody is an expert is, well, an actual expert.”

Moreover, the new technology is not working alone. You have the likes of oil interests such as Koch Industries and Exxon Mobil funding a phalanx of anti-science spokesmen, think tanks and lobbyists. They put their money into sowing doubt about the scientific consensus, as many of these same people did on tobacco, ozone and acid rain, playing on the fact that the way science works is to set up repeated challenges of the evidence by peers but ignoring that scientific consensuses do indeed exist — otherwise, we would not have made the progress we did on tobacco, ozone and acid rain.

Sheltered by the technological cacophony and the big money available, politicians feel unashamed to stand in front of the National Academy of Sciences and virtually every climate scientist in the world and utter irrational things like “God promised Noah …,” or “solar flares,” or “nobody really knows,” “not man-made” or “hoax.”

“[The deniers’] goal is to create the perception that fundamental aspects of climate science are controversial,” write several scientists connected to the National Academy. “They are not.”

“All their claims, all the studies cited and all the evidence they have presented has been thoroughly reviewed by climate scientists. There is no scientific basis for contesting the academy’s finding.”

We are in Tennessee again, 1925, in the grip of the anti-scientists and their politicians. We will lose a generation in dealing with greenhouse gases. Yet the science says we have only a few years.

Study: Religion Going Extinct in Most Western Countries -- Why Does It Still Dominate Our Politics?

We know that languages die out. We also know that religions die out. How many people believe in Zeus or Poseidon or Apollo? But could we see religions as a whole die out in modern societies? A new study predicts that that is exactly what is going to happen in Australia, Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Switzerland. The list is notable because in includes the two countries most similar to the United States. Both Canada and Australia were founded, mainly, by British settlers. How could it be that they are readying to bury Christianity and we've handed over one of our two viable political parties to a fundamentalist version of that religion?
I mean, Big Oil and Big Money operate in Canada and Australia, too. So, why haven't the dollars gone to the megachurches in those countries? It might have something to do with political efficacy. It is easier to capture a major party in the United States than in Canada or, especially, Australia.
Still, it's astonishing to think that Christianity may soon be extinct in Canada at the same time as it is morphing into something so powerful in our country that it can destroy reproductive choice and the teaching of biology, geology, and sex education.
We're not inherently more religious than Canada. We just have a political system that allows financial elites to enlist religious fundamentalists in their service. In other words, religion has tremendous utility in our country.
"The idea is pretty simple," said Richard Wiener of the Research Corporation for Science Advancement, and the University of Arizona.
"It posits that social groups that have more members are going to be more attractive to join, and it posits that social groups have a social status or utility.
"For example in languages, there can be greater utility or status in speaking Spanish instead of [the dying language] Quechuan in Peru, and similarly there's some kind of status or utility in being a member of a religion or not."
Dr Wiener continued: "In a large number of modern secular democracies, there's been a trend that folk are identifying themselves as non-affiliated with religion; in the Netherlands the number was 40%, and the highest we saw was in the Czech Republic, where the number was 60%."
The team then applied their nonlinear dynamics model, adjusting parameters for the relative social and utilitarian merits of membership of the "non-religious" category.
They found, in a study published online, that those parameters were similar across all the countries studied, suggesting that similar behaviour drives the mathematics in all of them.
And in all the countries, the indications were that religion was headed toward extinction.
I don't care what people believe. I think the single best thing about our country is that we are allowed to believe whatever the hell we want. I don't believe in mixing religion and politics, even to promote agnosticism. But I think it is fascinating how our political system actually encourages a form of religious fanaticism that is actually in the process of completely dying out in counties much like ours.
Could simple electoral reform destroy organized religion in this country?

Mar 22, 2011

Google Maps Mania: A Google Maps Coordinate Converter

The Worldwide Coordinate Converter is a nice tool to convert data between different geodetic systems. To use the converter select the reference system of your data and the reference system you want the data converted to. You can then enter the coordinates manually, click on a Google Map, or enter an address. Finally, when you press convert, your coordinates will be returned in your chosen geodetic system. The converter can also accept data with comma separated values (CSV).

Intro. to a Resource-Based Economy [ TEDx - Peter Joseph ]

This is the 18 min video backup for the live March 21st, TEDx [Portugal] Talk by Peter Joseph called: "An Introduction to a Resource-Based Economy ".

Mar 20, 2011

Mike Papantonio: Short Term Profit Mentality

Crises like the nuclear disaster in Japan and the BP oil spill are caused in part by a "short-term profit, long-term loss" mentality on the part of corporate executives, argues Mike Papantonio.

Our Story | The Urban Farming Guys

Guys Who are we…..

We are the urban experiment…

We are the seed that died and went into the ground. We are about 20 families who have purposefully uprooted from out of their comfortable suburban homes and moved into one of the worst neighborhoods in Kansas City. We bought homes within a 5 block radius of each other and we put down our stake for the sake of the youth and the poor. What is going to happen to us … who knows, but this is certainly not some novelty idea, and please don’t try it yourselves without thinking it through. We are a band of revolutionaries. We don’t claim this is even a good idea…. it is our lives. We are cultivating the life of the innercity. The Police helicopter is our favorite bird. Neighborhood meetings are our drama. Dropping crime stats are our touchdown cheer. Just to see people walking their dogs around the block again is a sign of good things to come. Stay tuned, lots of adventure to come.

Guts and drive building a sustainable community... America can be stronger with communities grown this way! Monte