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NYT’s bias is showing on Indian Point


The Grey Lady is Lying to you

On the off chance you thought the NY Times as the last bastion of respectable journalism, i have bad news. The NYT energy reporter Matt Wald, is just a step short for climate disruption denying. Hopefully they will at least print some of the corrections from NIRS.

Originally posted on GreenWorld:

Indian Point will remain a center of controversy as long as it operates. The question is: how long will that be?

Indian Point will remain a center of controversy as long as it operates. The question is: how long will that be?

Yesterday, the New York Times ran an article by longtime nuclear power reporter Matthew Wald titled Hearings on Water Permits for Indian Point.

NIRS’ Executive Director Tim Judson found a lot to critique in this article, which bends over backwards to less-than subtly support Entergy’s position on Indian Point. The entire article, with Tim’s comments in brackets, italicized in green, is posted below. Further down, you’ll find a brief report on the substance of the issues raised at the hearing.

Matt, your bias is showing… 

CORTLANDT, N.Y. — A giant power plant that kills tiny fish eggs is leading engineers, government officials, politicians and advocates of all stripes into a fourth year of debate about which side represents concern for the environment, and whether the fish are actually…

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Two Powerful Long Political Commercials

This is a lovely piece of corporate sponsored good citizenship modeling.

It is somewhat culturally inappropriate for the US in a number of ways.  You don’t poke a woman you don’t know on the bus (though you could offer your seat if you felt moved).  It is a guy always giving to somehow disempowered women.

And if we can see past these problems and get to the deeper message: generosity – particularly regular small generosity, is a highly desirable cultural attribute.

Curiously with almost 5 million Youtube views of this video, it points to a Thai language dominated and apparently uninteresting website.

On the most disturbing side there is this piece from Syria.

This Save the Children fundraiser has already exceeded it’s $100K goal.

What are the implications of this improving philanthropic art video form?  Are our hearts going to more regularly be tugged at or stomped on?

And it begs the question, with the accessible media of video, what are the viral short films we should be making to draw folks our way?

[Edited by Judy Youngquest]




IEA “experts” not particularly expert


The blog once again pulls off another lovely piece of critical analysis. If you dont have time to read the whole thing (which is only a couple pages long, i will summarize my key take away points:

1) The extremely highly paid energy experts at the IEA (International Energy Agency) which is part of the OECD are responsible for many things – but especially for forecasting future energy demand and supply. Looking back at their forecasts for wind and solar from a decade ago, we find that they horrifically under estimated these trends. By a factor of 5. Greenpeace however, writing at about the same time, got it almost exactly right.

2) Nuclear promoters complain about renewable subsidies and tax breaks. But the very short tax breaks given wind and solar inspire little investor confidence, while nuclear has guaranteed tax breaks for 25 years. Demonstrating once again their hypocrisy.

But read the article, and subscribe to = and excellent source.

Originally posted on GreenWorld:

greenpeacevieaforecastsThe International Energy Agency (IEA) is composed of 29 countries, which are required to be members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The agency was founded in response to the oil crisis of 1973-74 “to help countries co-ordinate a collective response to major disruptions in oil supply through the release of emergency oil stocks to the markets,” but has since expanded its mission “to ensure reliable, affordable and clean energy for its 29 member countries and beyond.”

The IEA publishes the annual World Energy Outlook and purports to be the world’s most expert and influential organization on energy issues, or, as the IEA itself puts it, “It is at the heart of global dialogue on energy, providing authoritative statistics, analysis and recommendations.”

In short, you’d think they know what they’re talking about.

Two items this week indicate they don’t. 

The first is an article posted yesterday by Doug…

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My Body Is Not a Problem


A call for a fitness company that celebrates the body, rather than markets thru shame. From the reliably good (and certainly more consistently grammatically correct) blog – disrupting dinner parties.

Originally posted on Disrupting Dinner Parties:

So I’ve been feeling sluggish and achey today, craving some of that juicy sweaty endorphin-y exercise goodness. Preferably involving some kind of dance, but I’m not terribly picky as long as it’s not running or marathon crunches. And so I’m sitting at work, bored and fantasizing about moving my body to a thumping rock beat, and I notice an ad for a workout place – right by my work! Oh, how exciting! Click click click!

. . . Oooh. Hang on. The picture’s kind of a red flag:

Not the actual picture. This company's website actually seems fine.

Not the actual picture for legal reasons. Fun fact, though: if you google “barre fitness” you actually get DOZENS of these creepy stepford workout pictures.

Creepily similar, perfectly coiffed women looking fierce-yet-feminine and *definitely not sweating* in their matching outfits? Not really my vibe, but I’ve heard it’s a good workout, so I’ll keep reading . . .


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The Renewables Revolution tipping point

Mostly real progress is slow.  It took decades to end slavery (which gave way to wage slavery in many places).  It took longer to get even some of the most basic rights for women in this country.  It took a decade of protest to end the Vietnam War.  Decades for gay marriage.  I am doubtful multi-partner marriages will be legalized in my lifetime.

Early in my clean energy campaigning career (the 1990s), a renewables expert explained that they preferred we not call it “alternative energy” because this was not our long term objective.  And for decades we have heard “wind is not ready from prime time” or “solar is too expensive for utility scale application”.  But when someone says that to you these days, you should respond with the same incredulity you would if someone suggested we strip women of the right to vote.  “Hey, have you been living under a rock?”

Germany has made the shift

Germany has made the shift

The triple meltdown at Fukushima hit the accelerator for clean energy solutions in a number of countries.  Perhaps most dramatically in Germany, where parts of this shift have been underway for decades.  If you stay closely on top of the German energy transition (called Energiewende) you will have no doubt heard that in the early stage after closing reactors after the Fukushima disaster the country was actually opening more coal fired power stations.

germany gdp and ghg graph

GHGs are down again, to their lowest level in decades in Germany

But as the bar chart above shows, the “Fukushima means more coal in Germany” story is old news.  These distortions were caused in part by their being a number of incomplete high tech coal plants in the pipeline when Fukushima hit and distortions in the European carbon tariffs which (hopefully temporarily) were favoring coal.  As the longer term graph above shows, unlike many countries, Germany is serious about reducing it’s carbon footprint.  Central to it’s success is that more than half of the renewable investment in Germany in recent years has been from individuals (including farmers) rather than large utilities or governments.

Japan is arriving later to the party, but is still showing up in significant ways.  Most recently there has been an explosion in the number of companies registering to sell electricity.  These include Honda Motors, Panisonic, Softbank and some giant Japanese homebuilding companies.  This is critical, because unlike Germany, Japan has 10 nuclear power utilities which have had a monopoly on electricity sales.  The government for it’s part has (like Germany did) created above market pricing for power which is generated from renewables.  Even before the opening of the market, Japan has seen a surge in home/business electric generation for personal/industrial use.  The Japanese court just handed anti-nuclear activists a rare victory in stopping the restart of 2 reactors.

Japan, unlike the US, does not have a single authority to restart it’s currently closed 48 reactors.  Even the newly restructured safety authority is telling the Abe administration that they need to check with local governments before restarting reactors, even if the safety authority says it is okay.  Recently elected anti-nuclear provincial governor Taizo Mikazuki of Shiga prefecture on July 13th, indicates that the Abe governments plans to restart reactors are far from secure.  The longer Japan continues to function will all of it’s reactors off and without blackouts, the less plausible the utilities arguments are that they are completely necessary to run the country.

Japan's solar growth is impressive

Japan’s solar growth is impressive

Germany has the solar profile of Alaska. Japan has very few conventional energy resources.  Both countries are using tax structures, market mechanisms, feed in tariffs and public education campaigns to change the ways they produce energy.  Germany is ahead of schedule to close all it’s reactors by 2022. Japan currently has all its reactors closed.  These were the number 3 and number 4 nuclear countries in the world (after the US and France).


Is there a trend here?

Is there a trend here?

It is far form a done deal, but the above graph shows an important trend.  It is worth pointing out that at a 25% capacity factor, the installed wind power worldwide represents the equivalent of 35 full size reactors – which is still a long way for replacing the almost 400 operating reactors worldwide, but if you compare it to 6 reactor equivalents in place in 2009, you can see that this real progress in energy is moving right along.




The Propaganda is too Simple

poverty and military spending

This showed up on the internet the other day and deserves a solid D for it’s propaganda value.  Let’s deconstruct for a moment.

Starting at the top.  A bit of internet investigation finds that this $178 billion number comes from the US Census Bureau calculates domestic poverty, calculated based on the total number of people who are below the poverty line and by how much.  [This is from 9.5 million families and 12.6 million individuals being below the government defined poverty level.]

What is interesting is the federal and state programs designed to elevate poverty actually far exceed this “poverty gap”, coming in at $830 billion (in 2012).

The problem of poverty and the money spent on solving it.

The problem of poverty and the money spent on solving it.

So as an anarchist I am not going to spend a lot of time on the reasons why the government is not a good solution for programs which alleviate poverty and not good value for money.

poverty and the rich cartoon

Under the current system we will never buy our way out of poverty.  Not because it is beyond our capacity, but rather it is not really our leaders (both business and political) desire.  Poverty has a function.

The Marxist make three arguments for the utility of poverty to capitalism:

  1. Temporary, dead-end, dirty, dangerous and menial jobs are undertaken by the poor
  2. It creates jobs for the middle class including policy makers, probation officers, social workers, psychiatrists, doctors and civil servants.
  3. Poverty helps to guarantee the status of those who are not poor – “The defenders of the desirability of hard work, thrift, honesty and monogamy need people who can be accused of being lazy, spendthrift, dishonest and promiscuous to justify these norms.”

My analysis is a bit different.

Poverty is hole in the safety net.  It is capitalisms long lever in negotiations with unions.  It is the economic gravity which pulls down the minimum wage.  If there were not poverty in this country, boards should be firing their CEOs because they are not doing their job of maximizing shareholders profits.

This might be a problem

This is a fairness problem

Similarly, on the military side – this spending is not designed to solve any domestic problem, so elected (and often bought off) politicians will not move money which is designed to maintain US control of foreign places away from military spending to do anything domestic. A significant reason for the large US military budget is to insure that cheap foreign labor is available for US based multinational corporations.

To summarize:  Government anti-poverty programs don’t work.  Poverty is a necessary and structural component of the current flavor of industrial capitalism we have.  The US maintains a tremendous military to insure it’s imperial foreign policy objectives and thus will not cut it for domestic income redistribution.

The math is not simple and this propaganda is too simplistic.


Advise to Catalyst Community

Unpredictably, one of the most important successes of the Point A project has been helping to spark the Catalyst Community project.  This was not expected, because Catalyst is outside of the 5 boroughs of NYC (Point A is focused on starting and supporting communities inside the city limits).   None-the-less at the first Brooklyn, Teagan from Catalyst came and presented and a number of people were interested in the project and what had been a great idea took off.

This is something vaguely like what Catalyst might look like

This is something vaguely like what Catalyst might look like.

Now less than 6 months later they are gathering and looking seriously at buying land, cottage industries and designing eco-friendly residences which foster a sense of being together.  Today they had a retreat and I was flattered to be asked for my advise to this starting community.  This is what I said:

So from my understanding of what you are trying to do, were i a principal organizer of your group this is what i would be doing.
Are these modern hobbit holes?

Are these modern hobbit holes?

Building Trust:  The vast majority of new community projects never get past the talking phase.  This is because (in my evaluation) the group is not strong enough to make a commitment to each other.
There are two parts of trust building in my experience.  The first part is interpersonal trust – you know some of my important secrets and struggles.  You have listened to me and my worries and said clever, helpful or supportive things and i feel closer and trusting of you.  We have built caring and compassion between each other.  There are lots of good tool sets out there for this,  NVC, Transparency Tools, ZEGG Forum and more.
catalyst trust building
The other trust is work trust - that we tried to so something together and we succeeded or at least were happy with how we failed together.  This allows the participants to think that in the pending struggles which will certainly come up in the community forming process, there is faith and experience of working on things together.  Hearing each other, compromising, stepping up to support each other and celebrating joint successes.
Ideally, work trust would be built on things related to the community – wresting with the city for zoning approval, selecting an architect who everyone likes, designing equity plans for shared businesses.  People need to take on significant tasks and then deliver on them in a visible and important way to the rest of the group.
 [Edited by Judy Youngquest]




No bosses, No sunroofs

Outside of Eugene, Oregon and the intentional communities movement, pretty much everyone has a boss.  There are some acceptable bosses, but overwhelmingly people are, i observe, dissatisfied with their bosses.  The miracle of the income sharing communities, is that we are largely able to run our cottage industries without the oppressive or disagreeable part of the boss role.  At Twin Oaks we have managers, who have labor and money budgeting responsibilities, but they very rarely tell someone that they need to do something.  They often request people do things, but this is not what bosses do, they tell people.  At Acorn we have even ditched the title of manager all together, and things run just fine thank you.

bosses be like

When Occupy sparked, there was much conversation at Twin Oaks as to what Occupy Twin Oaks would look like.  What would be our demand for a more fair and just society in the already fairly idyllic world of the commune?  As we got further into this investigation, we realized again who wonderfully fortunate we were.  “Seconds at 6:15″ was one rallying cry that dinner seconds should be available earlier rather than the current 6:30 PM time.   If this is what we are demanding, then things must be pretty peachie.

There are of course trade offs.  To not have crime, we have to give up living in the city,   To share cars together we have to give up access to the sunroofs in our cars.


Don’t even think about it

This might sound odd at first, or perhaps even unfair.  But when we get a new vehicle which has a sunroof in it, one of the first things we do is disable the sunroof.  We do this because if we don’t some member will leave the sunroof open and the interior of the vehicle will get soaked.  So the least responsible of us dictate the self protective behaviors we embrace that strip us of personal freedoms.

This irks me until i remember that i am one of the people most likely to leave a sunroof open.





Ann Coulter and Conversations which Don’t Matter

Ann Coulter is an attention-seeking sociopath who is determined to drag society back to the days when (white) men were men and women were property, also known as a conservative political commentator. She tends to say things that get people upset and get her media attention.

coulter rape

Recently, she has been targeting soccer, in time for the US participation in the World Cup with gems like:

“Any growing interest is soccer is a sign of the nation’s moral decline”

“No American who’s great-grandfather was born here is watching soccer.”

“In soccer, all the blame is dispersed and almost no one scores anyway. There are no heroes, no losers, no accountability, and no child’s fragile self esteem is bruised. There is a reason perpetually alarmed women are called “soccer moms” and not “football moms.”

Let’s deconstruct this a bit. “Moral decline” – this is simply inflammatory and has no substantive logical underpinning. Politicians, clergy, and pearl-clutchers everywhere have been lamenting the moral decline of society for hundreds (even thousands) of years. It’s a vague phrase designed to get people upset and apparently it works.

No great grand sons watching soccer? Well besides it being obvious untrue (I watch a bit, and all 4 of my great grand father were born in the US) it is also racist, or at the very least ugly nationalist.

But it is the last paragraph which is especially interesting to me. The idea that without individual heroes and losers a game is of no value. (For the sake of debate I’ll ignore the fact that football is a team sport in which players with vastly different skill sets, such as linebackers and quarterbacks, work cooperatively to reach a common goal.) I don’t need to waste time on the fact that soccer is filled with heroes and losers, this is just more Coulter nonsense. Coulter simply makes up the sexist definition of soccer mom to suit her purposes. What is important about what she is saying is that cooperative ventures don’t matter. The individual is the source of all greatness.

Presumably some people who read Ann Coulter agree with her. I don’t think it is possible to be a syndicated columnist and a highly paid public speaker if everyone disagrees with you and dislikes you. We know that some significant number of US American’s are racist  and sexist and Coulter plays to these interests.

coulter NYT bombing

But what is more true about Coulter than perhaps anyone with as high a profile in the popular media today, is that she is safe to ignore. As a couple of web magazines have identified, this is simply a trolling piece. She should be treated like the Colbert Show, where far right views are just refreshingly preposterous.

This article was significantly improved by Angie Tupelo

Duke Energy embraces dirty energy–and the right wing


The nuclear PR machine pretends it like solar power, but really is doing what it can undermine it.

Originally posted on GreenWorld:

ncwarndukeflyer62614-1Former Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers talks a good game. He believes climate change is a real threat. He talks about the need for utilities to get on board with distributed generation and renewable energy and to begin now to change their business models to reflect those technologies.

Here’s a sample quote from a long article about Rogers and Duke’s future: “When you see technologies evolving that challenge your business model, you need to embrace them. You don’t want the utility industry to have a Kodak moment,” Rogers said. “You know, Kodak developed digital, but they couldn’t move away from their traditional way because it was their core business. The utility industry should embrace distributed generation, they actually should invest in distributed generation and be a competitor with everyone else.”

Sounds good. But in seven years as Duke’s CEO, Rogers didn’t succeed in changing much at the company. Just…

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