Thursday, August 31, 2006

EARTH















Photo APOD

A round ball in a round orbit, the cycle of life.

Energy and the Environment, Sustainable growing, transportation and building practices.

195 comments:

christin m p in massachusetts said...

Since building practices is one of the topics that belongs in this thread, I'll continue this conversation here.

"When it comes to bridge building, meticulous is good. I don't like the surprise of it falling down."

I agree with you completely on that matter, Cheryl. A prime example of what happens when meticulous building practices are not followed, is the recent Big Dig Tunnel collapse here in Massachusetts, that killed a woman named Milena Del Valle.

Richard Yarnell said...

But there is a place for art too. Discovery Channel had an hour on bridges recently. Among other things, they were exploring all the problems of building a bridge across the Straights of Gibralter. Meticulous in the execution, but there has to be a thinker not constrained by what's always been done.

christin m p in massachusetts said...

"Some places, like Manhattan, might well be worth enclosing in a wall. That island is bedrock, stable, and very densely developed."

Rich,
That's one of the measures they took in Galveston after the Hurricane of 1900 -- right?

I still can't get over that it caused 8000 deaths -- 6000 in Galveston alone...

"There's enough elevation on Staten Island that it may be a matter of moving people to higher ground. Brooklyn and Queens, no recommendation."

Why no recommendation for Brooklyn and Queens?

Judy B. said...

I just closed the book on the last page of Anderson Cooper's book, "Dispatches from the Edge"..
I recccommend it...

If you read this book, and the human misery in NO, you might find a good arguement for NOT rebuilding NO..

Judy B. said...

Regarding this picture on this thread. Is that a dead zone I see???

Christopher C. in Hawaii said...

Actually that is a solar eclipse. It does look like a burnt spot or dead zone, a troubling image if you don't know what it is. Appropriate I thought for these times where the earth and it inhabitants are on the edge.

Richard Yarnell said...

chris:

I used to live there....;)

The geography is much more complicated and I don't know the terrain well. They include places like Coney Island, La Guardia and the Brooklyn waterfront.

I think they raised an existing levee in Galveston, but I'm not sure of the details.

deb said...

WOO HOO California!

I hope that the old adage "As California goes, so goes the nation" holds true!!!

Galveston built a sea wall. It is not high enough to withstand the water levels that occurred with Katrina. There are lowlands on the "outside" of the wall where water will be diverted provided the water doesn't breach the wall. Jeff is in Galveston working right now, btw.

Judy B. said...

I Tivoed 20/20 the other night and just watched it... about the 10 most likely scenerios to end life on earth...
Most of is repetitive of other things I have watched, but thought it was interesting that the #1 most likly is climate warming... and it really made an arguement for NOT rebuilding on our coast lines...

Cheryl said...

Galveston also raised the elevation of the entire island by about 17 feet.

The trajedy in New Orleans was both avoidable and man-made. Everyone knew the marshlands were disappearing. Everyone knew the levees wouldn't hold. Everyone knew there were lots of people with no way out.

The rebuilding is just another rich get richer, and poor get ignored. The poor were bussed out of the city with no way back. The host cities want to get rid of them but can't. And New Orleans is becoming very Republican and white.

Judy B. said...

maybe those rich republicans will get their due the next time NO floods

christin m p in massachusetts said...

Judy,
I guess I'll be all set then. I have to live at least 40 miles inland, because the year-round damp air found at the coasts keeps me wide awake almost around the clock. Even though I have an unusual sleep schedule, generally I'm able to sleep deeply for seven hours or longer per day -- that is, when I live inland where the relative humidity is drier. When I lived right at the coast, I was lucky to sleep a few hours per day. From the very first day I moved back inland, I slept deeply and easily again.

I also notice that my sister -- whose house is right at the shore, and my mother -- whose house is very close to the ocean -- both have to run a dehumidifier 24 hours a day/7 days a week all year round. If they don't run a dehumidifier for even a couple of days, mold spores will begin to grow on the ceiling, due to the damp coastal air.

christin m p in massachusetts said...

Judy, my last response was for your 9:47am comment. It looks like I was still writing when you published the 11:48pm one.

Judy B. said...

I wish my Dad were still alive to enter the discussion about Galveston... He was an engineer on some projects there in the 60's and 70's. He was always one for solving problems but recognized at the time that some problems can only have short time solutions.. and Galveston may well be one of those...

I remember one time when a real estate investor tried to get my dad to buy some land he was developing... After my dad walked the land he said "no way".. the land was a slide area.. The Real Estate investor, who happened to be on the city council, shoved the developent thru the planning commission and a relatively large development came into being... Some 25 years later the whole area started sliding, slowly at first.. and then it came tumbling down,,, many people lost their homes... relatively expensive homes... one of the biggest developed landslides in the nation...
And that is what will happen to our coastline developments... they will start going into the sea, and no amount of money thrown into trying to fix the situation will stop it....

Judy B. said...

Speaking of falling into the sea, check out this map...
http://www.thule.org/lemuria.html

christin m p in massachusetts said...

On some fronts, things are moving along quite nicely:

Tufts University's first "green" dorm

Today -- Sep. 3rd -- is moving-in day!

christin m p in massachusetts said...

They just announced on the news that Steve Irwin -- the "Crocodile Hunter" was killed by a stingray this morning during filming off of Cairns, Australia. He was 44 years old.

Judy B. said...

As a former volunteer coordinator for a congressional campaign, I know what volunteers are needed for... out here at least...
It is relatively easy to get people to come into the headquarters and work on mailings.. People like to congregate together...
It is harder to get people to door bell for their candidate...
And it is even harder to get people to do phone-calling... I do not know why, since everyone seems to be plugged into a telephone these days... anyway if you want to help, I recommend that you find out when your candidate's phone banks are working and put some time in there...
The phone bank is the best way to ID new voters who will vote for your candidate, and then it up to the campaign to Get Out The Vote (GOTV)

Richard Yarnell said...

You can cover all of your party's candidates by contacting your County Party Office.

In Oregon, those have access to the Voter Registration Roll online. In fact, when we have any contact with a voter, we're supposed to update the County Democrats derivitive database. I just printed a new canvassing route based on D's and I's or non-aligned who are only sporadic voters.

I think people shy away from calling because they don't like phone interruptions themselves and don't like being rejected by those who hang up on them.

Judy B. said...

You are right Richard...
In Washington we can get (for a price) print-outs of just about anything connected to a persons voting record.

Telephoning NEW voters, with a script, is one of the best ways to find out if that person is a TRUE democrate, or just felt s/he had to make a choice. A few crrutial questions (on the script) will determine whether this person is one to put on the GOTV list. Oregon's mail in ballot makes your situation a little more unique, as you probably do not have a GOTV push on voting day...
Identifying the sporadic voter's likelihood of voting, and who they are supporting is also crutial for the GOTV. Most of them are more likely to vote in big election years, but knowing their preferences (gleaned from the phone bank)can be invaluable information for the party in off season elections as well, especially when the party maintains a local data base.

deb said...

New technology in solar panels. I notice that the date the story was first published was in Feb. Forgive me for being cynical, but doesn't it seem that a breakthrough like this would be immediate world news?

Super Solar Panel a Power Breakthrough

Richard Yarnell said...

In Oregon, GOTV is a little different. We canvas by phone and in person much earlier, and we try to make sure everyone who needs a ballot has one and that as many as possible are returned.

I can generate my own lists for the precinct for which I'm the elected party leader. (It takes three votes minimum to qualify!) The list includes all registered voters per household, shows their voting history for at least 4 prior elections, and has a place for me to add information. It uses publicly available records and material input from party records.

I can tell you that rural canvassing is time consuming.

Richard Yarnell said...

The South African technique for providing thin film solar is real. Whether it is Rrevolutionary" remains to be seen. Based on what I could find, here are my top of the head reactions to it:

It appears to be relatively cheap compared to silicon based cells but the efficiency of 10% falls far short of the best on the market.

However, there are several advantages - 1) the thin film is applied to glass which we use in our buildings anyway. It's thin enough that light still passes through the glass. Therefore, it appears that all windows become potential PV collectors. 2) The materials used can be recycled later. 3) The cost per watt appears to be about 20% of comparable silicon based collectors and even cheaper when compared to high end cells. 4) And this is significant, the cells produce electricity even in idirect sunlight.

University of Johannesberg holds the patents and has already signed agreements in Germany and Australia licensing manufacture. Plants in SA are either being designed or are already under construction.

Depending on the quality of light that passes through the glazing, I can see using the product on my attached greenhouse. It would supplement the standard more efficient panels higher on the roof.

It is a little surprising that more hasn't been made of it in the general press. There was considerable buzz in the more technical press.

deb said...

Thanks Richard. I very much enjoy having a personal "professor"...sort of like a personal trainer except for the mind;)

Found this while catching up on the news:

Deep ice tells long climate story

Richard Yarnell said...

It gets better (if you enjoy toasting in hot Saharan temps.

"Nature" reports that Methane trapped in lakes and permafrost is being liberated at about 5 times faster than previously thought. If you add that to the extraordinarily rapid rise of CO2 concentrations, the cascade has already started and we're in for a dangerously rapid climate shift.

Sometimes, if rarely, it's good to be on the down hill side of 60.

christin m p in massachusetts said...

Richard,
Did you mean it's good to be on the downhill side of 60 years old -- so that you don't have to be around to toast in the hot Saharan temps? Or did you mean the downhill side of 60 degrees F average year-round temperature -- where you live?

My thoughts have been on the freezing cold winter we'll be experiencing in a few months, because I just needed to get a new car battery yesterday. I paid the extra 20 dollars for the one with more cold-cranking amps, so that I'd be less likely to face starting my day -- or ending my workday -- with a dead battery, on a below zero degrees F winter day.

Judy B. said...

I wonder how the electric car batteries will perform in the freezing cold weather???

deb said...

Judy and Chrisitn, the good thing about PHEV cars is that the liquid fuel will heat the car on start up, then the batteries will take over. I keep talking them up with the politicians I run into, along with PV solar.

Richard, I really hate to ask...but...what are the ramifications of all of that methane? What are solutions to the problem?

Richard Yarnell said...

The former!

Invest in a trickle charger for your battery and hook it up when you park each night and especially over the weekend. Some heavy duty chargers switch to a trickle charge when the battery becomes fully charged.

Richard Yarnell said...

The difference between Methane and CO2 is that the more potent greenhouse gas persists a shorter time.

I don't think there's much we can do about Methane that's being released by climate change. And the cascade is going to accelerate from now until there's a natural reversal. I'm not aware of any mechanism that will hasten that process.

The immediate ramification is that the whole warming/change process is going to be faster than previously predicted. We already have evidence of that in the rate of glacial melt world-wide.

Our kids are in deep doo doo.

I think it's the one thing that Al got wrong, or chose to omit in order to avoid the "we're doomed anyway so why bother trying to fix the problem" syndrome.

Judy B. said...

Richard, my jusband bought a trickle charger for his tractor battery. It is a solar cell one... Guess it wouldn't work at night tho....

Richard Yarnell said...

Fascinating:

http://www.the-scientist.com/article/daily/24460/

deb said...

Richard, Do you have a "Richard's best guess" timeline for what will happen when? Should we be building an off the grid vacation home in Canada? Or maybe just opening an account with every credit card offer we are sent and have a great time until? ;-)

Speaking of "off the grid"...China nomads on energy's cutting edge

I checked the exchange rate for 500 yuan and that 25 watt PV panel costs $63. but is subsidized. It still is much less than here, and our panels are probably made there.

deb said...

Cool car, Richard. If they make it a hybrid and put batteries...

Christopher C. in Hawaii said...

Briefly. Debbie you are in the oldest and most stable geologic land formation in the North American continent. Elevation counts as a plus.

Water is going to be the key as the climate starts changing. Where it will be is the big question.

Richard Yarnell said...

I think that car is a hybrid.

As to best guess: October 11 at 2310!

Judy B. said...

Richard & Deb... I found another Small Car for SVC's (Small Vehicle Corridors)in my Hammacher Schlemmer Holiday Catalogue I just got in the mail...

The 120-M.P.H. Electric Car at:
http://www.hammacher.com/publish/10954.asp?promo=homepage_hero

Judy B. said...

OR maybe December 21,2012, the date that the the ancient Mayans choose as the end of their Long Count calendar.

The Aztecs and the Hopis are right in that range also..

deb said...

"No matter how cynical you get, it's almost impossible to keep up." -- Lily Tomlin

christin m p in massachusetts said...

Deb, I love when Lily Tomlin made fun of Ma Bell for its being a typical monopoly. I googled Lily Tomlin "the phone company" for my favorite memory of the character Ernestine the telephone operator:

Here at the Phone Company we handle eighty-four billion calls a year. Serving everyone from presidents and kings to scum of the earth. (snort) We realize that every so often you can't get an operator, for no apparent reason your phone goes out of order [snatches plug out of switchboard], or perhaps you get charged for a call you didn't make. We don't care. Watch this [bangs on a switch panel like a cheap piano] just lost Peoria. (snort) You see, this phone system consists of a multibillion-dollar matrix of space-age technology that is so sophisticated, even we can't handle it. But that's your problem, isn't it ? Next time you complain about your phone service, why don't you try using two Dixie cups with a string. We don't care. We don't have to. (snort) We're the Phone Company!" -- Lily Tomlin from "Saturday Night Live: The First 20 Years" (1994 Cader Company).

The long-awaited solution

Twenty-two years later, I'm still paying only around 50 percent of what I paid back then for phone service -- no matter how many hours per month I spend on the phone. I still want my money back.

deb said...

Judy might be closer on the "what will happen when" date: Abrupt climate change predicted within 20 years. Be patient if you have dial up, it takes a while for this page to load even for me and I have broadband.

Climate change heads for the Supreme Court

"The suit, brought by Massachusetts and eleven other states, along with a few cities and environmental lobby groups, accuses the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of failing to regulate CO2 emissions from motor vehicles."

This is from a British paper, I did a search to see what national US papers were covering this story and guess what?

deb said...

Photo in the News: Arctic Ice Melting Rapidly, Study Shows

deb said...

Some bad news:-(

US to cut funds for two renewable energy sources

"Geothermal and hydropower are mature enough for private enterprise to take the lead, the government says."

...of course big oil isn't mature enough to go it alone without our help;o

Judy B. said...

Christin... here are two housing stories that might interest you...

http://www.tdn.com/articles/2006/09/15/area_news/news04.txt

http://www.tdn.com/articles/2006/09/15/top_story/news01.txt

Richard Yarnell said...

If you let your congress critters know that you think it's stupid to cut R&D on an energy producing technology that's known to work, there's a good chance those very modest amounts will be put back in place.

Of the two, Hydro seems to me the more important because of the work on making the dams compatible with fish management. Competition is more likely to drive a commercial R&D program to exploit geo-thermal.

But that's the biased opinion of a NW resident who lives close to three major rivers, all dammed and fitted with fish killing machines and ladders.

christin m p in massachusetts said...

Judy,
Thanks for those links. It's heartening to know that somewhere out there somebody's doing what makes sense for the first-line workers. The farm workers housing community sounds like it is very well-thought-out -- and the $500 per month maximum rent is very realistic for people who do what is typically referred to as unskilled labor.

At least the landlords in Washington State are showing some restraint. I'm guessing it's because they don't encourage rental subsidies there. Back in 2001, we had a near zero apartment vacancy rate just as your state is seeing now in Cowlitz County. Since our state historically has drawn higher than average numbers of people who depend on social services, we also had a much higher than average number of people with rental subsidy vouchers. Since the government will give landlords whatever is determined to be "fair market rent" in each given city, that policy encouraged all the corporate landlords who generally own both residential and commercial rental properties -- to force the market upward extremely rapidly.

Within less than a year after the rental market first became saturated, they nearly doubled all rents (including unsubsidized ones). For example, at the end of May in 2002, one of those corporate landlords bought the apartment complex I was living in. He bought it for a song, compared to what it would be valued at only one year later. Seven days after he closed on the property, we all got letters letting us know that our rents for all the one-bedroom apartments would now be $800 per month -- up from $450 per month; and all the two-bedroom apartments would now be $900 per month -- up from $525 per month. I managed to stick it out there for seven more months, until I finally found a tiny, but pretty studio for $500 per month. Then about a year-and-a-half later, that property was sold for a huge profit (I checked the real estate transactions in the Sunday paper to see how much it fetched). Naturally, the new landlord of that building had to hike the rents up, in order to be able to cover that enormous mortgage. Every time a building would change hands for quick profit (many were sold twice in the same year), the tenants' rents were raised by hundreds of dollars.

During 2001 and 2002, rents overall were so much higher than most mortgages were, that it drove people to rush to buy their own homes. The home-buying frenzy that the high rents catalyzed, made people temporarily insane. They started out-bidding each other on homes they hadn't even thoroughly checked out. It became the norm for buyers to offer tens of thousands of dollars more for homes than sellers were asking. Buyers were taking any kinds of mortgages available to them -- no matter how risky the terms. In 2001 and 2002, the only area of the U.S. that had a "hotter" housing market (more predators selling and more fools buying) than we did, was Long Island, NY. They have since suffered the same consequences that our state has: None of our recent college grads can afford to live here, because there is no way they can carry such high mortgages along with their enormous student loans. Also, the record numbers of homeowners with adjustable rate mortgages will soon be facing foreclosure -- as their interest rates are just now beginning to adjust upward.

I hope I never have to witness another shark feeding frenzy like that again. I'll never forget the anxiety that I and all the other tenants I knew felt during those years. I'll also never forget seeing all the people I'm seeing now having to work 60-plus hours per week (and those are the lucky ones), just to hold onto their homes one month at a time.

christin m p in massachusetts said...

Judy, I remember that somewhere in this blog you said something about finding one issue that matters the most to me, and focusing on that one. That was good advice, and now I'm more certain than ever that low- to moderate-income housing advocacy is the area I'm going to concentrate on.

I'm going to start by spending some time at this site I found tonight:

National Low Income Housing Coalition

Richard Yarnell said...

I don't know how similar they are, but I do have some experience with a program in NYC called Rent Control, that almost destroyed a huge swath of perfectly good housing.

The law, in response to arbitrary evictions to enable landlords to raise rent, proteted the right of long term residents to stay in their apartments with moderate, city controlled rent increases.

I became aware of the program because many of my actor friends lived in rent controlled apartments, either legally or not, and were constantly fighting for their right to return to a vacant aparment after having been on tour.

Also, when I bought my co-op, it was rent controlled and had a tenant, who, though very wealthy, chose not to buy, but rather to fight to stay even though I'd bought my apartment to live in myself. It took two years in court to get him out.

The rent increases did not keep up with maintenance costs. As the buildings aged, costs escalated to the point that the landlords couldn't afford repairs. When co-ops became fashionable, one way for them to deal with low rent paying tenants was to take the building co-op, offer the apartments to their tenants and then sell those that weren't purchased on the open market.

Those who design the laws that defy market rates, and don't get me wrong, there has to be housing in all brackets, just the right housing in the low income market so that maintenance doesn't drive the landlords to abandon the buildings, must make sure that there is a fair return to the owners.

christin m p in massachusetts said...

Richard,
There are lots of government grants these days to help landlords maintain or upgrade apartment buildings if need be. Supposedly, many of those grants go unused or are misused every year. So nowadays, landlords probably wouldn't have to face the problem of deteriorating buildings.

In the case of what happened here, there were hundreds of buildings in one small city alone, that had already been owned outright for years by some of the well-known corporate landlords -- so they had no mortgages to pay. Even with the higher property taxes that came with the rapid rise in property valuations, that still didn't justify some of the rents that were -- and are -- charged. By 2005, median rents for newly-leased apartments had reached $1400 per month statewide. It's much higher in Boston, where it's next to impossible to find a vacant apartment for less than $2000 per month -- even with today's much higher vacancy rate. I'm told that prices have dropped in the farthest western part of the state -- from Springfield on out, but there aren't any jobs out there.

Tax payers should not be funding those Boston rental subsidies of more than $2000 per unit -- that is just grotesque. Southern California's tax-subsidized apartments are also $2000-plus per month. The funding for rental subsidies originates with the federal government, so every tax payer in the country is making those corporate landlords richer by the day. If you saw the cars they drive and the homes they live in, you'd know we're all being bilked by them more than by any other industry -- even big oil. When it comes to big business and bloated corporations, the real estate industry dwarfs them all.

Just read Robert Kiyosaki's "Rich Dad Poor Dad".

Or attend a real estate seminar. I did. When the speaker/salesman told everyone in the audience about rental subsidies being a "gold mine", it took every ounce of restraint I could draw upon, to stop myself from confronting him. As if "rental subsidies as gold mine" weren't bad enough, he went on to make fun of the way tenants "will maintain your property for free -- all the while that they are paying your mortgage, your property taxes, and your homeowner's insurance premium -- through rents."

At the end of the seminar, I did happen to run into the greasy speaker/salesman's girlfriend in the ladies' room. No, it wasn't planned -- but I was amazed at my good fortune at being given the opportunity to give her a message to relay to him. I told her quietly, but through gritted teeth what I thought about his peddling of rental subsidies for financial gain, and about his making all tenants out to be fools, instead of simply appreciating good tenants the way decent landlords do.

All she could say in his defense was, "He was just making a point."

Oh, that explains it.

Judy B. said...

Christin... I do believe you have found your passion in low/moderate housing... I hope while you are pushing for change, you will do your homework... I honestly believe there are more honest, hard-working landlords out there than there are crooks...

Let me tell you my story as a landlord...

40 years ago we bought our first home... small in size, with work to be done... we put in a lot of labor and a few up-grades (dishwasher, carpets) and had a home to be proud of...
after a couple of years and two kids, we got custody of my sisters three kids and had to buy a bigger place..(my parents bought our small home from us, so we could move "up"...and they proceeded to rent it out... and thus they became landlords.)

we found a bigger, nice home for our now expanded family.. This home also needed much cleaning, painting, and some remodeling (added a bathroom, converted garage into family room, added a carport off the alley, built a new fence).. Our work (my dad taught us a lot) and a thousand dollars boosted our equity substantually.. and we had a great home, close to schools in a desired location...

When my sister was able to take her kids back, (two years later) we sold the big house... and made (for us, a big profit)... and found another smaller home to live in... we got that by and buying out the equity for $2,000 and taking over a VA loan at 4% ... that left us with about $12,000 in our pockets... We really felt rich... We were young, with money in the bank... but we didn't spend it foolishly...

we found a small rental property that was on the market... no money down, and took over the 4% loan... we did that, and went to work cleaning and fixing it up... and rented it out...and thus we became landloards...

This is how the majority of rental housing used to be... small investors, trying to get ahead... not gouging anyone, but needing to make a decent profit on their investment...
And there are many like that still in existance in this community
... I will bet that 20 to 30% of the firemen and policemen in this community still do this very thing... and about 10% of the teachers... These people see this as a way to increase their retirement, and they take good care of their rentals because they are an investment, not a get rich quick ploy...
Later my dad showed me how to sell (the rental houses we had) on contract and make a profit while using someone elses money (the banks)... This was not a scam... just good business... because we still had the mortgage, we made sure that the houses stayed in good repair, and everyone was happy... Eventually from small houses we moved up to apartment complexes... but we never gouged anyone... Our tenants lived there for years... It was (and is)hard work managing and maintaining those units. It was basically my job, while my husband worked in a paper mill...
When you hold on and improve property (rental or home), over the years, their value goes up...
That is what my dad did... He was a great engineer, but his construction jobs did not give him a retirement... just Social Security... and he needed a way to live in his retirement years....
When he eventually sold his rental properties (on contract) he had plenty to live on for the rest of his life....
Christin... you need to understand that the investor takes risks... and sometimes when the vacancy rate is high the owner has a big risk of loosing everything... the rents need to keep up with inflation, and the market you live in makes a big difference how bloated that market becomes...

I believe that what you are seeing in Boston does exist more in large cities. There is still a lot of affordable housing is smaller communities... So do your research, and get back to us...

christin m p in massachusetts said...

Judy,
I've been doing my local apartment listings research since June of 2002. Even though the rents in Greater Boston are higher than elsewhere, our smaller communities still have extremely high rents as well. I check all the local newspapers (my local newspaper is the Metrowest Daily News) every Sunday -- I haven't missed one week of checking the local apartment listings for over four years now -- and the rents are still running between $1200 and $1600 per month in Middlesex County, even though there has been a very high vacancy rate for almost three years running. Landlords who own their properties outright are not financially motivated to drop the rent prices they're asking, so instead they sit on half-empty rental properties and still make a ton of money.

At least some of these people are finally starting to admit, though, that making their living that way is going to hurt their own children's chances to remain living in this state when they become adults. And yet these smaller landlords continue to overcrowd their apartments with very high numbers of adult workers -- mostly undocumented immigrants. They rationalize that since there are so many of them splitting the rents, it isn't costing each tenant much. But what it really comes down to is that getting top dollar matters more to them than any other considerations. The larger landlords are the ones who take the greatest advantage of the rental subsidies. But all of them -- large and small -- are equally guilty of over-charging.

It's a toss-up between New England, the New York City/New Jersey area, Southern California, and South Florida, as to which area of the country spawns more greedy people.

From what I saw in that second link you gave me, Washington State landlords don't gouge at all. Even when I first got out on my own in the early 1980's we never had any rents as low as the ones your state's landlords are charging now. It amazes me that even with that low vacancy rate, they still are charging so little. It's good to know there are still some decent people out there somewhere.

How is it that the landlords in Washington State can charge so little for their rents -- only in the $300's, and ours for some unknown reason feel it necessary to add on a thousand dollars more??? If I ever saw rents like those in the $300's, I'd feel like I'm in heaven.

My mother's parents -- my grandparents, of course -- owned several apartment buildings. They always maintained that they'd rather keep good tenants than raise rents. They kept all the apartments in good condition, and were always attentive to their tenants. When my grandfather had a heart attack and went into the hospital in early 1988, they decided that it was time to sell off all the properties. They sold them at very reasonable prices -- they were never looking to get rich off of them.

My grandfather died that March in the hospital. My grandmother lived to be 93 years old. Right up until she died in March of 2005, she still read all the area newspapers from cover to cover every day of the week. Many times when we were visiting her, she'd remark about how awful it was that people were charging over $1000 a month for rents these days. She felt just as I do that they are robbing the little guy.

Judy B. said...

Christin...I didn't mean to imply that you did not know your local market... In fact, I think that you know it very well...
When i suggested that you do your homework, I was in fact suggesting that you check out other areas, and get your facts on the different types of subsidized hoousing...
When we owned rental property, we always alotted a percentage for lower income people on assistance. What was available at that time ( and I think still is) was Section 8 Housing allowances. With this allowance, renters were allowed to find the housing that they qualified for (size based on family size, and price based on local market that the housing authority regulated)... It was a very good system, and at least in our commujnity was hard for landlords and renter alike to manipulate. Every year the renter had to re-qualify (income, family size, health qualifications ets.), and each unit had to under-go a thorough check by the housing authority to eliminate sub-standard housing... The inspectors checked everything, plumbing, electrical (including burnt out light bulbs in public areas), broken appliances, windows... anything that was broken had to be fixed before a now contract would be entered into...
There were draw backs to the system for the landlord, (housing authority wouldn't pay for deposits, bad tennants often would break things and could not be charged for them, etc... I developed a very legal and very concise leasing agreement that the tenant had to adhear to as well as the contract between landlord, tennant and housing authority.. One of the main stipulations that I needed to put into the agreement was specificity as to names, age and sex of the parties inhabiting the unit... Visitors were allowed for only 7 days, and beyond that, the tennants were subject to eviction... This was necessary because those on housing subsidies often would bring in others, charge them for staying with them, and damage the unit....
While I was able to screen renters fairly well, I "got took" on a number of occasions...
When landlords get-took, they will opt out of renting to diferent segments of society, or will charge as high of rent as the market allows in order to cover thier risk (damages)...
There is no perfect solution, but my guess is that big cities breed more corruption, and for the life of me i do not understand why people are flocking to the cities when they are so expensive...

christin m p in massachusetts said...

Yeah Judy,
I know there are a lot of risks for landlords too. I'm just as sickened by the thought of tenants who do property damage and scam the system, as I am with the landlords who neglect properties and scam the system. I guess what I'm looking for is a way to restore order to the present system. I think that everything was better left entirely to the free market, as it was back in the days before "welfare" and "welfare lite" ever existed. I have around a dozen economics books that were written in the Depression Era. Back then, it was mainly extended families and churches that helped people to get through -- even though there were general relief programs available through the government.

Although our world has improved in many ways, I think the way residential properties are treated as commodities these days instead of homes is abhorrent. And if there must be government grants for housing, I believe we would all be better served if it were used entirely to help people purchase their own homes. Home ownership is one of the best ways to lift people up economically, as long as they are financed through traditional lending institutions -- and not these fly-by-night finance companies that keep re-selling people's mortgages to other finance companies over and over again -- and in so doing, fraudulently changing their loan terms each time without warning.

That's another area where I've strongly considered focusing my efforts -- ferreting out mortgage lending fraud.

Judy B. said...

Stay focused ...
I did not mean to imply that all who used housing vouchers caused problems... I had one woman who had a debilitating disease who rented from me... She was a good tenant and stayed for over 10 years... People like her need housing assistance. she couldn't work, and there is no way that she wanted the responsibility of home ownership... that would have been way too much for her to handle...
In reality, my worst tennants were those who who conned me into trusting them, (not on vouchers) and then didn't pay the rent and proceeded to wreck the place... It is not easy for a landlord to get rid of a destructive tennant... or wone who doesn't pay the rent...
That was why I developed such a strongly worded lease agreement... It really scared off a lot of the riff-raff... I also would not rent to smokers.... You wouldn't believe the damage that a smoker does just by smoking....
When I suggested that you do your homework, I thought maybe you might learn about the different housing assistance programs that are available... there are many... I just delt with Section 8, which had it's pluses and its minuses.. There are many other programs... some that I would like to have eliminated...

deb said...

Sorry that I just seem to post links and run lately. Wanted to share and will join the conversation when I can.

32 Mayors Discuss Global Warming

Scientists baffled by decline in water levels of upper Great Lakes

(UK)Rising seas alert

dan said...

Debbie, I was particularly interested in the link about Great Lakes water level. I read resently that those lakes contain 20% of the world's fresh water supply. We need to treat them as a most important natural resourse and accept guidence from experts as to how we can best protect them.

christin m p in massachusetts said...

On fresh water:

A woman DJ from one of our local hard rock radio stations just returned today from her trip to Iraq. She opted not to stay in the palace where the visiting entertainers are usually housed. Instead, she insisted -- and was permitted -- to live right with the troops. I think they call it embedded with the troops.

Anyway, she mentioned that they have all these pallets full of fresh bottled water that the military desalinates for them. I tried googling for information about the military's desalination contractor, but for some reason I kept coming up with lists that were not quite what I was searching for.

Anyway, in case any of you is interested in reading about her experience during her stay with the troops in Iraq, you can google WAAF (that's the name of the radio station). When you find their official web site, which should be at the top of the google list, just click on "Jocks" on the horizontal menu bar, where you can select "Mistress Carrie" (that's her DJ name) from the drop-down list.

I grew up listening to that hard rock/heavy metal station (at least since I was thirteen, anyway), and that's where I picked up my sometimes coarse way of expressing myself. So, just a warning to anyone who is sensitive to that kind of language, she has a salty sense of humor -- to say the least.

But it can give you some up-close insight into what the soldiers' day-to-day job -- and down time -- is like in Iraq.

deb said...

Check out what a village in India is doing for the environment and to keep jobs at home: Climate Change Project in Karnataka

This video is on You Tube and there is a transcript (sorry). Brief: They are burning sugarcane waste for electricity. They have added materials for a cleaner burn. 400 people are employed in the process and are selling the electricity to the grid for 1 million a year, providing good jobs for their area. The ash is used for fertilizer for the cane fields the next year. The smoke pollution is offset by the cane they grow. Maybe not perfect, but completely a step in the right direction.

deb said...

Climate-controlled White House

"The administration claims it wasn't telling scientists what to say about climate change; e-mails obtained by Salon prove otherwise."

christin m p in massachusetts said...

Judy,
I found this article about your state's open-enrollment policy for public schools. You see, that would be an effective compromise for our state and others to adopt -- given that school choice involving charter, religion-based, and private schools -- is so controversial.

With an open-enrollment policy like that one in Washington State, all the tax funding is still going only toward public schools, but at the same time it gives the majority of the children a higher quality education and keeps them safe from the dangerous kids.

Judy B. said...

Well, we do think outside the box in Washington State...
But in all reality, many states have this option... allowing school districts to pick and choose amoung the students who apply still leaves a problem for the inter-city schools..
but you have to start somewhere...

In Cowlitz County, the school districts have long had interdistruct programs where different schools offer different programs, so that families can choose what is best for their kids...while the schools save money..
The huge majority of kids stay within their boundry, but for the gifted, the slow learner, the handicapped, etc.. there is a place where they will get what is deemed best for them... This is almost exclusively at the high school level, except for those with very special needs...

deb said...

Greenhouse gas turning oceans acidic
Carbon dioxide hampers ability of bottom of food chain to thrive, federal report finds

deb said...

Greenland's Ice Melt Grew by 250 Percent, Satellites Show

Judy B. said...

Thanks for the links Deb...

christin m p in massachusetts said...

Here's some info about air pollution in Kuwait: That radio DJ from WAAF-FM -- the one named "Mistress Carrie" who just returned this week from her assignment as an embedded reporter in Iraq -- told us today on her radio show that during oil drilling in Kuwait (she stayed in both Kuwait and Iraq), they constantly come upon pockets of natural gas. The Kuwaitis do not use the natural gas -- they only consider it an obstacle to getting at their big money-maker -- the oil, of course. So in order to get the natural gas "out of the way", they light it on fire.

Carrie said that, for that reason, there is thick black smoke billowing through the air there 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

My Iranian-American acquaintance said that Iran has a terrible air pollution problem as well. He said that there's always nasty smog hanging in the air there, and that consequently, Iranian people tend to die very young -- mostly in their forties. If I'm remembering correctly, he said they still use leaded gas there.

Our president sees fit to police everyone in the world who won't play the capitalism game by his rules. But if there's any reason those countries need policing -- it's for the filthy air that they're inflicting upon the rest of the world. Granted, we're no slouches when it comes to pollution, but at least we're trying.

Just think -- if no one but Republicans made all of our policies, we would all be breathing that nasty smog here too. And the only thing we'd see for miles in every direction is concrete and steel. I prefer not to think about what our waterways would look and smell like.

Which reminds me -- have they made any efforts to clean up the Nile yet? Wasn't that supposed to be the most polluted river in the world not so long ago?

Cheryl said...

This is interesting. It's looking like the e coli outbreak is due to grain fed cattle.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/21/opinion/21planck.html?_r=1&oref=login

Here's an excerpt if you don't want to register.

"Where does this particularly virulent strain come from? It’s not found in the intestinal tracts of cattle raised on their natural diet of grass, hay and other fibrous forage. No, O157 thrives in a new — that is, recent in the history of animal diets — biological niche: the unnaturally acidic stomachs of beef and dairy cattle fed on grain, the typical ration on most industrial farms. It’s the infected manure from these grain-fed cattle that contaminates the groundwater and spreads the bacteria to produce, like spinach, growing on neighboring farms.

In 2003, The Journal of Dairy Science noted that up to 80 percent of dairy cattle carry O157. (Fortunately, food safety measures prevent contaminated fecal matter from getting into most of our food most of the time.) Happily, the journal also provided a remedy based on a simple experiment. When cows were switched from a grain diet to hay for only five days, O157 declined 1,000-fold. "

Anonymous said...

two more very interesting links which lead too more interesting links...enjoy


http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14944138/?GT1=8506

oceans have cooled


http://www.livescience.com/environment/060920_arcticice_opening.html

ice cracks at north pole


JG

deb said...

What are y'all thinking about the melting ice sheets? At the rate it is going the north pole and Greenland are going to be melted within 10 years, or it looks that way to me. According to Gore Europe will become extremely cold, and sea level will rise to the point where Fla. is about 1/2 it's size.

Judy, 2012 might not be the end of civilization, but I suspect it will be vastly different from today.

Cheryl, Interesting article. Just another example of how messing with mother nature has ramifications that we didn't take into account. Richard is right, we really need to reduce our national consumption of beef.

Richard Yarnell said...

I have been against converting our seed corn crop into ethanol since there is a more efficient way to get the alcohol - from switch grass and other whole plants.

Now I'm not so sure: if we convert corn to alcohol, there well be less corn to finish cattle with - elevated acid from grain finishing promotes bad e. coli - they will be forced onto grass finishing, and there will be less beef to begin with.

If only it were that simple.

Judy B. said...

Deb.. i never thought 2012 (or some other time) would be the ending of civilization.... just a new beginning...
What we are faced with today, global warming, pandemics, terrorism, etc... ther are many scenarios of civilization de-volving...could be one "beginning"
There are just as many ways to begin again...to evolve.. to a better world...
which will we choose...
I will reccommend once again "Waking Up In Time" by Peter Russell..

Judy B. said...

Richard.. i do not think it makes sense to use ANY food crop to make ethanol... Our productive farming land is becomming used up... we need to "ration" our land for feeding the world... and I will agree, not for feeding our cows...

I read an interesting article today about a new breed of "battery" that may become the answer to infernal combustion engine... EEStor (a stelth company in Cedar Park Texas) is working on a ceramic power source for that hopefully will be the BIG breakthru we are all dreaming about... Interestingly enough, my daughter told me that such devices had been found in pyramids in Egypt.. this developing technology is being financed by one of the biggest VC groups around, and a Canadian Company is already planning on marketing it in cars in 2008..

Cheryl.. that was an interesting article on e coli and grain fed beef... i passed it on to my large email list...

Richard Yarnell said...

Not really a battery, but a capacitor.

If they're cheap enough to overcome some negatives (compared to batteries) then they could be a huge advance. Capacitors have been around a long time. (I just replaced one on the pump control - it provides the surge of power needed to start the pump motor, for example). I'll bet that their "secret" is entirely in the materials they use, hence the need to keep it quiet.

Richard Yarnell said...

As I've written elsewhere in this space, I don't think making food into ethanol is good either except when it comes to beer, wine, cider, incidental to preserving the crop.

However, at the moment, it's cheaper to convert sugar to alcohol. It's also a more familiar process. But less expensive land can be put to use growing switch grass and the like and the lignin based conversion, partially supports itself by burning the leftovers. This is one I think the market will sort out pretty quickly.

deb said...

WOO HOO, Judy, thanks for the info. I HOPE this battery does all it is supposed to do...and I HOPE the oil companies don't "buy up" the technology!

A much-shrouded idea could give portable power a real charge, for a change — and change, well, everything

dan said...

A major breakthrough in battery or capacitor would change everything. I hope it'll come soon. It could be just what's needed to help us save this planet. Plus, like Deb, I want my next car to be a plug-in hybrid...and good performance would be nice bonus.

christin m p in massachusetts said...

A couple of my friends just spent this weekend volunteering for Alt-Wheels -- an organization that showcases sustainable transportation. I would have joined them, but I had to do some work for the landlord again this weekend. At least I didn't have to commute to the city -- he gave me some work skim-coating the walls in the upstairs hallway with joint compound. Thank goodness I can put off sanding it till next weekend. I've tried the damp-sponge method to smooth it out, but I find that only gives a good result for very small touch-up areas. So next weekend, I'm going to be completely covered from head to toe with white powdery drywall compound. The worst part is that the dust mask doesn't keep it all out, so I end up breathing a lot of it in. And since it's an open hallway, every inch of surface all the way down to the foyer is going to be covered with fine drywall dust. So I'm going to have to wash all the walls, windows, and woodwork before I can apply primer. I guess there are worse things in life.

Most of my friends aren't interested in politics. Some of them just have to work too many hours, and the others -- as you can see -- prefer to get out there and improve the world with their own hands. Here is a link to show what this weekend's Alt Wheels event was about:
http://www.altwheels.org/events.html

John G. said...

"A major breakthrough in battery or capacitor would change everything. I hope it'll come soon. It could be just what's needed to help us save this planet. Plus, like Deb, I want my next car to be a plug-in hybrid...and good performance would be nice bonus."

Remember the link Deb gave about INTEL using lasers for faster processing...the same concept will apply for batteries.

Judy B. said...

And the same concept will also apply in the making of solar panels..
AMD and INTEL are working on it...

christin m p in massachusetts said...

I just signed and sent the petition to Congress to support HR 3762 which would increase fuel economy standards from 25 mpg to 33 mpg by 2016 -- and HR 4384, the Energy for our Future Act, which saves oil, reduces energy bills, and repeals tax breaks for Big Oil.

I save all my gasoline receipts with the price per gallon indicated on them. Around every two weeks, I calculate my gas mileage -- my car consistently averages around 34 mpg with mixed highway and city driving (even though during the summer I kept my driver's side window open and used the air conditioning at the same time). I must say, high gas mileage is a very luxurious feature to have when you live on an almost "no wiggle-room" budget like I do.

deb said...

Thanks for the tip on those bills, Christin. I'll send my Congressman my opinion, but since he is on the list for the top 10 worst environmental Congressmen I doubt he'll care...oh, well...come Nov. we are going to have a new guy in DC ;-)

I get around 36 mpg...but my next car, the plug-in hybrid that burns biodiesel, will get 180 mpg and charge off of my PV solar roof!!! We ARE going to make it happen!!!

deb said...

Urge Congress to Support New Bills Aimed at Avoiding the Worst Effects of Global Warming

This is from the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Their website has some terrific articles..UCSUSA.org

Christin, I've been searching for the HR 4384 Energy for our Future Act and haven't had any luck yet...I've had a long day so maybe it's me. I usually look up the bills to see who wrote and are sponsoring them, since so many are wolves in sheep's clothing. Do you have a link?

dan said...

HR4384

deb said...

Thanks Dan. Nothing has been done on the bill since introduced almost a year ago. I firmly believe that CO2 reduction will happen when ("if" just sounds pessimistic) dems take the House and Senate.

christin m p in massachusetts said...

Deb,
I remember that a short while back you posted something related to this in one of these threads:

Thank goodness for local and state governments

christin m p in massachusetts said...

Have any of you watched the PBS series design: e2 ? I wasn't sure if someone had already posted something about it at this blog. I watched it last night, and found it very surprising and encouraging. For anyone who hasn't already watched it, here is a link where you can see and hear what it's about:

PBS design: e2 series

deb said...

The Union of Concerned Scientists Action

"the nation’s supplies of longgrain rice had been widely contaminated by an unapproved variety of genetically engineered (GE) rice."

Cheryl said...

Melting permafrost a 'sleeping giant,' climate experts say

"When temperatures are rising 15 metres underground, it's not variation, it's a change,"

http://www.canada.com/victoriatimescolonist/news/story.html?id=0d7845a5-f776-4323-a49f-72927d83fd42&k=91930

deb said...

Here's a suggestion for your City Counsel meeting: Global Environmental organization

deb said...

Very good news: 'Clean' low-sulfur version of the fuel will help environment, but truck companies may pass higher costs on to customers

deb said...

Global warming tipping point alert: DuPont and Allianz

Richard Yarnell said...

Even though logged into Grist, I never saw the post a comment routine.

I would have said that all the sour grapes weren't very constructive. The idea that insurance and chemistry are coming to the table late doesn't mean it's time to denigrate them or, for that matter, to throw in the towel.

Welcome them, try to work with them, do more yourself. Even if much of the damage has been done, it's possible that working now to lessen the effect of the man-made component of climate change will limit the damage done.

The rest of it, the "I told you so, crap" is just that much adolescent swagger.

christin m p in massachusetts said...

I found this encouraging news at AlterNet:

Progressive religious voters speak out

christin m p in massachusetts said...

That last link also gave me the link to the congressional votes database that I was looking for a few days ago. I know you guys had already helped me find it some months back, but I lost track of it. I'm going to post it here so I can refer back to it whenever I need to.

Congressional votes database

deb said...

Christin, I noticed that the House has had 20 calls for votes after midnight. I didn't get a chance to read what they were voting on, but why have a vote in the wee hours of the morning unless it is to push legislation through that is just wrong?

Judy B. said...

There is hope...
Go hereand then see what ytour state is doing...

http://www.interfaithpowerandlight.org/

dan said...

Christopher, I hope that the earthquakes in Hawaii didn't effect you directly. Check in with us when you can.

John G. said...

Christopher,
Our thoughts are with you this evening...God bless.

Your friend J.G.

Christopher C. in Hawaii said...

All is well. Minor damage around the islands. The power went out for about three hours. The flash flood watch we have been under since last night has yet to produce any rain for me. It has been a lovely cool and breezy day.

Cheryl said...

Christopher, glag to hear that you, and the rest of Hawaii are OK.

deb said...

A rockin' and a rollin', shakin' and a movin'. Glad to know all is well with you Christopher.

Christopher C. in Hawaii said...

Now we are going to start a slippin' and a slidin'. The Flood has finally begun. It started around 3:30 am. This should be a real gully washer. Amazingly the power is still on. Usually when new rain hits 9 months of dust encrusted transformers things blow. Fortunatley the winds haven't been too strong.

Judy B. said...

Just continue to take care Christopher...
Mother Nature is not to be fooled with...

christin m p in massachusetts said...

I know election-related info fits in the Wind thread, but I don't want to step on the topic of the suspension of habeas corpus, which is being discussed there.

With George Bush being the thesis, one would have expected a radical antithesis -- but thankfully instead we are seeing a centrist synthesis:

Moderates in Kansas Decide They're Not in GOP Anymore

christin m p in massachusetts said...

I know that this isn't new news, but it's still good news. It feels good to read yet another version of it:

Evangelicals Ally With Democrats on Environment

deb said...

Good to see Kansas waking up!

I'm staying busy lately with my spare time involved with phonebanking or other ways of working the election...but I read the blog when I can and always appreciate the views and especially the links. Thanks y'all.

Here's a link I wanted to share:

Further Rise in Number of Marine ‘Dead Zones’

Cheryl said...

Another recess appointment. We gotta get rid of this guy.

"President Bush appointed an embattled nominee to head the agency in charge of miners' safety Thursday over the opposition of the United Mine Workers of America and Senate Democrats.

Congress is in recess, which means the president can appoint Richard Stickler to the job without Senate approval. The appointment is expected to last about a year, until the end of the next session of Congress.

Stickler, of Terra Alta, W.Va., will head the Mine Safety and Health Administration, which has been without an agency head for two years. The mine agency is part of the Labor Department.

Bush nominated Stickler last year, but Senate Democrats blocked his nomination.

The lawmakers and the UMW said Stickler spent too many years as a mining executive and failed to demonstrate adequate concern for safety problems in the mining industry. In addition to working in the mining industry, Stickler headed Pennsylvania's mine safety office from 1997-2003."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,,-6158956,00.html

christin m p in massachusetts said...

Christopher,
I finally found a site where you can listen for free to Israel Kamakawiwo'ole singing "Hawai'i '78". The song and his voice are just beautiful... and the lyrics fit in well with our Earth thread here.

http://www.rhapsody.com/-search?query=hawaii+%2778&searchtype=RhapKeyword

Christopher C. in Hawaii said...

Thanks for that link to "Hawaii 78". It seems you get 25 free songs after downloading the player. I like his voice much better in the concert version of that song.

Then I thought I have iTunes on this machine, I'll look for it in there, only to discover it only works on Apple computers, so why is it on here?

Time for a little house cleaning.

christin m p in massachusetts said...

What is the reason that most of us in this country live east of the Mississipi River? Is it because the East got an earlier start -- or do we just attract more immigrants? Or does it have to do with our fresh water supply or some other aspect of the physical geography of the U.S.?

Check out this U.S. (and Canada) Population Density Map

Richard Yarnell said...

It's probably a combination of those factors you mention and others as well.

Begin with the quality of the land itself. You've got to have food to survive and water. So soil and a good water supply, close to the surface, and one that persisted in all seasons, attracted settlers first.

Seaports are high on the list. It's only fairly recently that surface transport and the air transport, freed us from dependence on the sea and major rivers to get goods from here to there.

More recently, people have chosen where to live on the basis of climate alone. Now, it seems they choose where to live despite the climate - why else would Las Vegas be one of our fastest growing cities.

Established industries have something to say about where people settle. In spite of the fact that the markets can set up anyplace, the financial industry still is centered in NYC.

Finally, at least for this short post, economics. The expensive amenities depend on a minimum density. The more people there are in a given place, the wider the choice of things to do.

Some of the factors are about to change drastically. The first big deal will be running out of water.

Personally, I'll never live below about 750' elevation.

christin m p in massachusetts said...

Richard,
That 750 ft. elevation won't be a problem for me, because I plan to spend most of the rest of my life living in the mountains. My sister and her family lived in Conway, NH -- in the White Mountains -- for many years. I spent a lot of time up there on holiday weekends and vacations. The only drawback to living in the mountains is that you generally need to travel a long way on winding back roads every day to get to work. The scenery is gorgeous, but in the winter when the roads become icy, your commute becomes treacherous.

The only mountains I wouldn't want to live in are those ones where the coal companies do strip mining -- where nasty coal slurry gets into the ground water. I saw that on that Bill Moyers documentary "Is God Green?" I think the strip mined mountains that were discussed in the show were located in West Virginia. Imagine that -- only two places to work -- the coal mines or WalMart. So if you vote against those two industries, you're probably voting your whole family out of a job. Talk about being caught between a rock and a hard place.

Anyway, what do I need to google to find out what the elevation is where I live now?

christin m p in massachusetts said...

Never mind -- I just found it. My town is only at 263 feet above sea level.

Richard Yarnell said...

263? That's probably plenty. But you may have lots of company.

Richard Yarnell said...

https://www.stratfor.com/subscriptions/free-weekly-intelligence-reports.php

After you register (free) find today's article about Water: Emerging Business Concerns.

Here are some comments I sent to my college list:

There's a temptation to point fingers at China and India and to inquire why they, particularly the Chinese, haven't learned from the experience of other countries. In the case of the huge dam on the Yangtze, they were repeatedly warned by their own scientists and those from other nations with experience. We haven't provided much of an example, although we're learning. We do a pretty good job of cleaning up what we need, but we're profligate when it comes to using the stuff.

So long as we allow population to increase, water problems will worsen. If climate change does proceed as it appears it will, those problems will appear sooner in many places and probably be more severe. For example, in Portland, we have a wonderfully wholesome source flowing off of Mt. Hood. But as the snow and ice pack diminishes, not only the amount but the purity of that resource is in doubt. We do have an abundance of river water flowing by in the Columbia and the Willamette, but neither is as clean as Bull Run and if we start removing water for domestic use and industry in addition to agriculture, there will be a cascade of dependent problems.

Aside from an effort to reduce the demand for water by curtailing population growth, I think we should start now to require industry and agriculture to cut their use. It can be done. In agriculture, method of application, time of application, and choice of crop, all have the potential for reducing water use substantially. Instead of flooding (that encourages evaporation and leaches away valuable nutrients) or use of sprinklers (even worse losses through evaporation), micro-irrigation (drip emitters) that puts the water directly on the plant that needs it, not only reduces water use, but also inhibits weed growth, almost eliminates evaporation, and tends not to leach nutrients beyond the target plant's roots. Non-point source pollution from agriculture is virtually eliminated when runnoff from irrigation disappears. Drip irrigation reduces the cost of herbicides and, probably, pesticides, because weeds provide cover for insects. The time of day is important depending on how the water is applied. Obviously, evaporation losses are greatest under the noon day sun.

Choice of crops is my pet peeve. In California and elsewhere, crops are grown in quantity that could not survive there without heavy applications of water. I think that if the crop is used locally, there's some justification, but if the crop is grown for export (non-local use), it doesn't make sense to endanger ground water reserves, to divert rivers, or to pollute excess water to the point that it isn't fit for another use.

In the Midwest, places that can produce grain, in particular, wheat, chosen to thrive in the region without addition of water, have been turned over to corn that requires heavy applications of irrigation water. Initially, it was done to support livestock, but now it's done to support sugar and, soon, bio-fuel production. Not smart, especially when there are alternatives. The result has been ever increasing costs to pump water from greater depths. The time needed to replenish these ground water reservoirs ranges in the 10's to 100's of thousands of years.

As far as industry is concerned, it's time that we require heavy water users to not just clean up their waste water, but to recycle it. It will be expensive in some cases, but there may be no choice in the long run. It's little different than desalinization of which there are many advocates. In some cases, the water has to be cleaned so that it's fit to put back in the environment anyway. The choice to recycle can have some compensations: if it comes out of the process hot and hot water is needed for the process, less energy is required to heat it after it's purified.

Some of the solutions being offered are little more than shell games, some of them very dangerous shell games. For example, pumping water into deep wells to replenish aquifers, is, in my judgement stupid idea. It's unlikely that we'll stand the cost of purifying surface water to match the quality of very deep and ancient aquifers. If we put something down there that can do harm, it's there for the duration. At the other end of the equation, the surface water we might try to store in pristine aquifers, has to come from somewhere. Instead of spending money on additional cleanup, putting it somewhere from which we'll have to pay to pump it out again, why not use it judiciously where we find it?

The human race, sadly, has a very poor record when it comes to planning ahea
d. The need for water, for survival, for agriculture, and for industry is inescapable. This is one resource that we should begin now, globally, to conserve. You can pay me now, or you can pay a whole lot more after it becomes an emergency over which wars are fought and from which great numbers of people simply die of: dehydration or starvation, take your pick.

ry

christin m p in massachusetts said...

Richard,
Will it help if more people make the effort to buy only food that is grown, processed, and bottled or packaged within a 100 mile radius of our homes? I read about that at a San Francisco garden blog.

Also, I've read that being a vegetarian is gentler on the environment than consuming meat and poultry, but I'm not sure why.

For the 100 mile radius measure, I already have been sticking with Stonyfield Farm organic milk, yogurt, and smoothies. Stonyfield Farm is right up in Londonderry, NH -- so I'm all set with dairy products. And I love Ken's Steakhouse Salad dressing -- which is processed one town away from where I live. But I'm going to have to eliminate Starbucks frappuccinos, as well as my favorite pre-packaged macaroni salad and potato salad from Reser's Fine Foods which is based right in your home state of Oregon. Most of all, I envy the people in the vicinity of Battle Creek, Michigan -- "Cereal City, USA".

I think I can manage the 100 mile radius effort when it comes to most of the pre-packaged foods I like, but what do I do about buying vegetables and fruit in the wintertime when none are in season in this region?

Judy B. said...

Richard....
I am curious as to why/where you came up with the 750 ft elevation>>.
Couod you talk more about that, please

Judy B. said...

I have a world traveler friend visiting me right now.... We were discussing the need for good water. He told me some interesting things about the what the Isrealies are doing to turn some desert areas into lush tropical like paradises using water from the sea...
He was not sure of the technical approach except that they are drilling for water under the sea bed... it seems that the deeper they go the less salt in the water, manking it easier or unnecessary to desalinize it...
If that is the case, why isn't the rest of the world working on this ???

As you and Christin pointed out, the major population centers are close to the worlds largest water supplies... why pipe water fron the Colorado River to L.A> when the ocean could be "harvested"??

I haven't had time to research this but when he leaves, I will put some effort into it.

deb said...

Great post Richard! My goal would be to regulate sustainable water use, because if it is just up to the company, those that are doing it right will have a hard time competing with those who aren't. Some of the largest companies are going to cry "foul" and the cry will resonate throughout the media. I do not know how the country is going to do what needs done so long as our media is supporting those who can't see past the next quarterly earnings.

Christin, I filled my little fridge freezer with in season local fruit this year. My real freezer is in Al., but when we finally have our place I will fill it with homegrown and local veggies. And they are so yummy! Just by making a few changes to reduce the amount of energy and resources consumed does make a difference, and you are doing that.

deb said...

Greenland Ice Sheet Losing Mass

I read several days ago where the ice melt from the arctic and Iceland have cooled the oceans in the northern hemisphere considerably and the northeast USA and EU should have a much colder winter. The article also stated that the cooling will provide a temporary slowdown to the arctic and Iceland ice. I cannot find the link again, but if I run across it I will post it.

NASA LOOKS AT SEA LEVEL RISE, HURRICANE RISKS TO NEW YORK CITY

Seabed microbes munch methane, curb warming: study

Richard Yarnell said...

Absolutely no reason at all.

I can make one up though:

If everyone settles in around 750 feet it won't be quite so crowded here at 1050 feet where I live.

Richard Yarnell said...

Drilling really deep wells is very expensive. If you have a cheaper source of water, and lacking a truly compelling need, both desalinization and deep drilling will make bankers pale.

I was chatting with the guy drilling my new well. I asked him how they change the bits on the very deep well, like the ones in the gulf that are under several thousand feet of water and tens of thousands of feet in the ground. You've got it, they have to pull all the drilling steel (the stuff that lookls like pipe that's threaded together and that has the drill attached at the bottom. Pull it up a hundred feet, secure it so the bottom doesn't drop off when you unscrew the top piece, repeat, 10 times or more for every 100 feet.

Everything about drilling for water under the ocean is going to be tricky, including sealing the hole so the seawater doesn't contaminate the aquifer. But if it works, and if you can get away with not having to desalinate the water, why not.

And then there's the problem, in offshore California, for example, of keeping water and oil from mixing. I have no idea how that would be done if you drilled through a reservoir of oil before you got to the water.

As for what the rest of the world is doing? I have enough trouble keeping track of what I'm doing. I suspect it's cost, again. If you have uncle sam giving you $4-5 Billion every year, lots of things are possible.

Richard Yarnell said...

Theres a growing chance that the runnoff from Greenland, which is much more than had been predicted, will stop the deep sea currents that now circulate in the Atlantic. This happens frequently (relatively to geologic time) and is one of those things responsible for ice-ages. I think the report was on Nova, or it could have been Discovery or even the Weather Channel.

deb said...

Environmental groups defend clean air program before Supreme Court

"The Duke case's origins date to the 1970s when Congress amended the Clear Air Act to require installation of expensive pollution equipment on newly constructed power plants. Lawmakers gave older plants a partial exemption, believing that the power industry would be phasing out the older facilities.

Instead, the companies revamped their aging plants, enabling them to operate hours longer each day, resulting in production of more electricity and the emission of even more pollutants."

deb said...

"They" seriously don't get it:

U.S. Pesticide Stockpile Under Scrutiny

deb said...

and yet some of us still dream:

Leaders challenge 'business as usual'


Governments are legislating for it, corporations are coming round to it, and the public now expects it. Murray Armstrong looks at how sustainability is suddenly good for business

deb said...

And some are doing something:

Tidal energy companies stake claims

Maybe you need to stake a claim in Guam, JG ;-)

Or,anyone game for starting an energy company?

deb said...

Expert says oceans are turning acidic

Richard Yarnell said...

I just played proctologist with mother earth.

The drillers are having a terrible time getting a clean hole at our
new well site. It's largely volcanic in this area but what I think is the source of the old lava flows isn't very big - the "mountain" that rises to our north. We live on the slope of the old, dormant cone.

They've gone through layers of reasonably good rock and then areas of rubble that collapses when they pull the drilling steel out.

They've got water but wanted to look down the hole to see whether they could safely insert the liner below the steel casing. At about 275 feet, some of that rubble had collapsed and plugged the hole.

The fix is to pump cement mixed with bentonite down the hole under
pressure that will drive the cement back up and into the rubble. Then
they drill back through the cement to get to what they believe is a
good hole from about 275 feet to 535 feet, the current depth. What
they did before they had small cameras with a good light source, I
don't know.

It was a fascinating 10 minutes inspecting what most folks don't get
to see. I suspect it saved them a week of work and a lot of plastic
pipe (6") that would have been destroyed if they'd had to pull it out again.

They told me they'd be putting a screen on the bottom to keep sand and gravel away from the pump. I had stainless mesh in mind. What it
turns out to be is the same plastic pipe but with rows of very fine
slots cut in it every half inch or so. Really fine slots, two or
three thousandths. They said they have wells with 20 feet of the
screen in the bottom that yield 80 GPM. We'll get between 10 and 15.
That's better than three times what we're getting now and we'll still
have the old well for the house.

Judy B. said...

Richard... if it isn't to impolite to ask... are you willing to provide costs on your new well??

Richard Yarnell said...

The estimate is predicated on not more than 500 feet or between 10 and 15 gpm, whichever comes first.

They went to 545 and we don't have a rate yet. The way they measure is to pressurize the well and force the water up and out the casing. However, since there are so many factures on the way down, the hole leaks. Have to wait until they finish.

The estimate was $13,500. The pump and installation will run around $4.5K.

Judy B. said...

richard...I guess it would be cheaper for us to tap another spring on our property and put in some large holding tanks... Thanks for the info..

Richard Yarnell said...

If they'll let you and if you believe the water is coming from deep enough to be safe.

Many places prohibit development of springs for two reasons:

1) the water is deemed to be surface water and subject to regulatons vis a vis water rights of those down stream from the source;

2) safety of the water itself.

If you decide to pull a Nike and just do it, at the very least, take samples and have the water quality checked. I'd suggest doing it when the flow is the least active and again when the ground is well saturated - like it is now. You may have trouble getting the spring water without surface contamination though.

It wouldn't do to wind up with a bacterial infection or ghiardia (sp) or some other nasty bug.

Richard Yarnell said...

Another thought:

Access the well records (they're probably on line organized by section) and look to see how deep and what the flow rates are in your neck of the woods. Then ask a driller for an estimate. That won't cost you anything. We do have a perfectly good, if slow, well at 189 feet.

Judy B. said...

Richard..
we have the spring water in our house now... have been using it for 12 years with no problems... We throw some bleach in it periodiocally, but nothing else... This is a very deep spring and is surrounded by our property where there are no close neighbors to contaminate the ground water... the land around it is a slope, with the higher elevations in trees and the spring overflow goes into a lower gully... we have a food filter system, so do not know what else to do to make it safer... Any suggestions??/

We also have a deep well that runs very slow, but is usable. the water quality (taste, minerals) are not as good, but we use it occasionally in the house when spring is running slow or we have a mishap...

We have quite an elaborate plumbing system so we can swith from one system to the other...

I guess my main concern is having enough water for irrigation in the summer if we want to expand the gardens, which we will want to do if we remain here.. I am guessing that it wont'matter about the water purity for irrigation purposes... correct me if I am wrong..

Richard Yarnell said...

How much water, separately and combined, do you produce? How much of what do you want to irrigate?

I'm an enthusiastic proponent of drip irrigation. With a 5 gallon per minute well using .6 gallon per hour emitters, you can irrigate 500 plants at a time. Depending on the soil and the plant, you may run water on the plants for an hour or two. So, if you use a timer system and electric valves (my system has 7 valves and, with controls, cost me under $100 excluding tubing and emitters) and reserve the well for domestic use for 4 hours a day, you can irrigate 5000 plants for two hours a day. If you irrigate each plant once per week, it would be possible to set up a more complex timing system or 7 simple ones and irrigate 35000 plants each week.

You should have your water from both sources analyzed. Really hard water will clog emitters, but there are fixes. In addition to making the water you have go farther, by carefully controlling the amount and frequency of your irrigation, you'll find your plants are healthier. One of the best ways to encourage many plant diseases is to apply water that wets the foliage. For example, the predominant reason for tomato plant infection is soil borne bacterial and viral organisms being splashed onto the foliage. When I switched to emitters, which I position at the base of each plant under fabric (some people prefer plastic) that also serves to keep weeds down, I virtually eliminated problems with disease.

I use "spider" emitters mounted to 5/8ths inch flexible tubing. Each emitter delivers 6 separate streams of water which you direct to the plant through 1/4" "spaghetti" tubing. That's a flexible system since mixed plantings you can direct more than one emitter to larger plants.

Components of the system are a mechanical strainer, a programmable 7 channel timer, low voltage electric valves, the large tubing, emitters and the spaghetti tubing. If you buy large quantities of the emitters and tubing, it's really cheap and can be left on the surface. The valves are $10-15 each at Home Depot, the timer will run $35-50. (I've had my system in place for 8+ years. Protect the valves from freezing. It helps to have a 110 volt power source for the timer which has battery back-up. Your extension service agent will help with system design if you need it.

Judy B. said...

Thanks again Richard for all the info...
We do use drip irrigation, but nothing like what you describe... I will have my husband read this over and see if he has any other questions...

I just wish we had a couple of hard-working people to help us with the labor... Right now we are looking for people interested in "intemtional community" as a way of keeping the place...

Richard Yarnell said...

The only real labor involved is, if your chose to bury the larger tubing, digging the trench. You can rent little ditch diggers that excavate not more than 4" by up to 2 feet deep. However, when you get to the area you want to irrigate, leave that tubing on the surface.

The rest of it can be done on a bench.

I have a 1500 ft roll of 5/8ths tubing that I can, with a bit of effort, lift. A thousand foot roll of the 1/4 inch tubing doesn't weight much more tha 5-10 pounds.

One other suggestion, unless you're irrigating a permanent plant, cut your 1/" tubing longer than you actually need the first time out. That will allow you to redirect it to another plant if the layout changes.

christin m p in massachusetts said...

Although it's clear that we need to keep moving forward on converting the heating and cooling systems of every home and business in the U.S. over to sustainable and non-polluting energy sources -- in the meantime, those who can't yet afford to convert their homes from conventional fuel sources, still need help with heating costs in the deadly cold northern regions of the country. Every winter Citizens Energy, "with the help of our friends from Venezuela and Citgo", gets 40 percent reduced price heating oil to many of our lower income families and elderly people on fixed incomes.

Citizens Energy, Citgo Bring Discounted Oil To Bay State

Whenever their advertisement comes on television, it gives me special pleasure to hear Joe Kennedy saying those words "with the help of our friends from Venezuela..." I can't help it -- Hugo Chavez is right -- George Bush is a donkey. And our oil companies have always been run in such a way as to benefit only robber barons.

deb said...

"Delahunt pointed out that in 2002, major oil company profits were $34 billion. In 2005, profits ballooned to $113 billion. He said all the companies were asked to help the poor, but only Citgo agreed."

And those profits are after the CEO's, et al. have been paid their millions.

Christin, how much heating oil do the average family use in MA each winter? How much does it cost to heat the average home?

christin m p in massachusetts said...

Oops -- I gave you the wrong data, Deb -- so I'm re-posting this. The average price for home heating oil has shot way up to $2.50 per gallon over the past couple of years. So, at an average of 900 gallons per season, it costs around $2250 to heat a typical home with oil between October and March.

Some people can't afford to install the newer double- and triple-pane windows or other superior insulation products, so often those homes use much more than 900 gallons per season.

Natural gas used to be cheaper than oil, but now it's more expensive. We have natural gas in the first and second floor apartments. The attic studio uses electric heat. Almost the entire house has the newer windows, and the walls are pretty well-insulated, so our bill for the coldest month is usually under $400. Also, last year we installed insulation under the floor of the first-floor living room, because the basement beneath it stays down around 50 degrees all winter. It made an amazing difference. The previous winter, that floor (hardwood) was very drafty, but after we installed the insulation under it, that room was the toastiest one in the house. So this year, we're installing insulation under all the floors.

christin m p in massachusetts said...

I wanted to add that I'm not sure if the type of heating system itself makes a difference. As I said, our heating systems on the first and second floors use natural gas. The first floor system is forced hot water baseboards. Upstairs on the second floor, they have the old fashioned radiators, which I think are steam heated. The landlord said he thinks the forced hot water baseboards heat more efficiently than radiators do.

Anonymous said...

Here is mord from Earth Policy

http://www.earth-policy.org/Indicators/CO2/2006.htm

deb said...

Good article JG (are you JG?). I am going to send a copy to the Citizen-Times, the Asheville daily paper. They are owned by Sinclair so I don't hope for much but at least I will know that somebody there will be a bit wiser.

deb said...

House that can ‘eat’ pollution

Is this possible? What is the downside of this technology?

Judy B. said...

Deb... the earth policy bleep was mine...
Couldn't get the blog to accept my identy

Richard Yarnell said...

I've only read the link that you provided about using titanium oxide as a means of either "cleaning" or facilitating removal of "pollutants."

I will try to do a little snooping in order to answer the question: what happens to the pollutant when, as the article says, it's washed off the surface?

Sounds like they may be taking something out of the air and dumping it in the water. If so, bad idea. Better to not put the bad stuff in the air in the first place.

deb said...

WOO HOO...maybe my next car will be a SUV, not that I really want an SUV...but it looks like it is going to meet my criteria...plug-in and made in the USA.

Saturn hybrid gets plugged in

deb said...

I found a new group to join listed in the above article!

Plug In America

deb said...

A petition to sign:

Plug-In Partners Petition

deb said...

Prince recruits Gore for 'green' campaign

"The aim of the new project is to help develop systems that will enable organisations to measure more effectively the environmental and social costs of their actions."

deb said...

And yet another example of gov't transparency in action (not):

Shutdown of EPA Libraries Worries Scientists, Advocates

"They're really acting like their hair's on fire," said Jeff Ruch, the executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, a nonpartisan watchdog group. "They're quickly closing the collections, boxing them and shipping them to repositories."

Wonder what's in there that somebody doesn't want the public to know about?

deb said...

Sorry for being the bearer of bad tidings, but thought you'd want to know: USDA disputes claim that U.S. chicken unsafe

Richard Yarnell said...

Of course there's bacteria on chicken. There's bacteria everywhere. I play in it all the time: I garden, I pet the animals, I live.

We're going to kill ourselves by being so sterile.

Here are a few bits of country advice:

Get a good _wooden_ cutting board and use it. Wood is naturallly antibacterial (bet you thought plastic was better, but it's not).
After you've used it, wash it with a mild soap solution and rinse thoroughly and then let it air dry - don't put it away wet.

Like they say, whenever you handle any meat, but especially poultry, wash your hands, the counter, and the utensils. Mild soapy water is fine. Don't use a sponge, or if you do, drop it in a mild solution of bleach: sponges are the wombs of bacterial infection.

Always wash the bird, inside and out, as soon as you get it home and don't ever store it in the plastic covered tray it's packed in at the store. It's lying on a spong and we know what those are.

Don't stuff your poultry. Bacterial contamination occurs on the surface, inside and out. If you don't stuff the bird, it will cook faster and the surface will get hot enough to kill off the baddies. But, that doesn't mean to overcook the meat. USDA calls for an outrageous 185F. There's no point in eating a piece of chicked raised to that temperature. The inside of the meat is sterile so long as it hasn't been poked with a stick.

I've never gotten sick from eating food that I've prepared myself and I eat raw ground meat! I had an opportunity to save a turkey at thanksgiving - we repositioned the thermometer and cooked it to 160, which rose to 165, by the time we carved the bird. My hostess' mom cooked the other bird to the 185F. Most of it went into the stew pot. Nobody got sick.

Germs are: we can't get along without them.

deb said...

Good suggestions Richard. I never thought about not stuffing a bird before, but it makes sense. I learned from my Granny to sprinkle a layer of salt on the chopping board after washing, scrub it in and let sit maybe an hour before rinsing and leaving it in the drain to dry.

I think we, as a culture, are missing out on alot of that "good country advice". We've become so programmed to believe the advertisers that we've forgotten how our ancestors did things.

deb said...

Warmed-Up Oceans Reduce Key Food Link

"Study lead author Michael Behrenfeld, a biological oceanographer at Oregon State University, said Wednesday that the recent dramatic drop in phytoplankton production in much of the world's oceans is a "sneak peak of how ocean biology" will respond later in the century with global warming."

Richard Yarnell said...

And for those who don't know it, phytoplankton is the basic, low on the food chain nutrient that sustains the rest of the food chain. No plankton, no salmon, etc.

Cheryl said...

The phytoplankton is a very troubling indication of where we are headed.

Meanwhile the EPA has been very busy this month.

They've decided that the control of lead in the air has been so successful, that it isn't needed anymore.

http://www.commondreams.org/headlines06/1207-01.htm

PEER is reporting all kinds of cost-cutting measures the EPA has been up to, despite being ordered not to do any of this:

-Closing libraries
-Purging info from web sites
-auctioning off furniture and equipment for pennies on the dollar
-spending millions on a public relations campaign to improve the image of its research program
-$2.7 million program to digitize all employee personnel files

http://www.commondreams.org/news2006/1207-12.htm

deb said...

Do you think that the people responsible for stifling environmental information will realize the part that they played when the environmental breakdown occurs? The theme for the day seems to be "Let's prevent people from finding out what we are doing to the environment and then we can keep on polluting and thereby keep the cash flowing in."

I found a disturbing article today. I believed that hydro was a "clean" energy...guess I was wrong.

Hydropower major contributor to global warming: research

This article, also, reinforces my idea for farms to build algae ponds at their lowest point before the runoff gets to the stream. The algae will produce oxygen, use Co2, and then be harvested for biodiesel fuel. I'm not alone in this idea: Oilgae.com – Oil from Algae!

Widescale Biodiesel Production from Algae

deb said...

Just who is the EPA protecting? EPA May Drop Lead Air Pollution Limits

I wonder if the people who run Exxon have kids and grandkids?

Exxon Spends Millions to Cast Doubt on Warming

dan said...

Exxon's mis-information campaign reminds me of a movie I saw not long ago, "Thank You For Smoking". It's a satire focusing on a spin doctor for big tobacco. He meets regularly with his proteges, lobbyists for the NRA and alcohol industry where they debate who kills the most people. There's some crude language and a sex scene but if you enjoy satire, it's pretty entertaining. Here's some reviews.

John G. said...

Why in the world would the EPA do that?
A recent article in TIME focused on new research results which plainly state lead poisoning in life forms on all levels of the food chain are at an all time high.

Here is a question off the radar;
Do solar flares or natural life cycles of the sun cause periodic and predictable periods of an increase in global temps?
Not to discount the growing evidence of man made causes.
Does the moon and it's lunar cycles play a role in Global warming?

could semi trucks and cars be equipped with solar cells which provide just enough energy to run the lights on these vehicles? would this make a difference in fuel costs and energy consumption?

Richard Yarnell said...

Do solar flares or natural life cycles of the sun cause periodic and predictable periods of an increase in global temps?

Yes and no. The cycle of the Sun's activity, at least recently, is very short term. The maximums send us more energy than the minimums. The mean, however, is pretty steady but, holding everthing else constant, very, very, very slowly, diminishing (undectable now, so far as I know).

I don't think the moon has any effect on climate change. The effect it does have can be found in the tide tables and may be found, if we could measure it, a slight, similar effect on the shape of the atmosphere.

As for solar cells on automobiles to run the lights: the costs (the cells themselves, their additional weight, and the batteries associated with them) would far outweigh the benefit which would only be available when the sun was shining. However, there are other things that can be done to reduce the electrical load, which does reduce the mileage slightly.

You've already seen the most promising one - LED's. The power required to light them up is very small. Their performance has been good enough that truckers have swapped their incandescent lamps for LED's. Whether they can replace incandescent headlights, I don't know. For all the other lights in the car - absolutely.

John G. said...

I hope all is well in your part of the world with you and your family.



"Do solar flares or natural life cycles of the sun cause periodic and predictable periods of an increase in global temps?"

There is an interesting piece showing on national geograhic now about fluctuations in global extinctions and fluctuating weather patterns. It gave an interesting view of eliptical orbits and our galaxy flying through the universe as our solar system "bounces" around in the galaxy. Our galaxy has a magnetic shield which protects it from gamma rays as it passes through gas clouds throughout the universe. As we bounce closer to the edge of our galaxy we are less protected and these rays change the DNA of all life, making global catastrophes more lethal when they occur. This cycle occurs on average every 64 million years...we are due.
The orbit around the Sun slowly changes in cycles (some closer and more rounded, others stretched and more oval) of 10,000 or so years according to ice samples, again we are due.
Check out natl. geos extinction program. It is an interesting eye opener of new theories and facts.

What solar orbit were we under in the time of the Egyptian empire, was it more round or oval of an orbit? The answer could provide valuable clues to Egyptian culture of that time as well as motivations for their belief and political system as well as building practices.
check it out if you get the opportunity. You will not be disappointed.

John G. said...

Before I lose the exact show. It was such an awesome program...I encourage each of you to view it.
Totally awesome, and to think we still may have it all wrong.


mass extinctions

I also read an article about the lake under antartica (two miles deep) They now believe there are a few more fresh water lakes with a wealth of history. They are afraid to excavate or drill for ice core samples due to the fact these lakes may be interconnected with streams, rivers and CAVES. Scientests do not want to disrupt the delicate balance which has been preserved untouched by humans for millions of years. If only we could use the technology used to find these lakes to find the 3 mountain climbers...

Richard Yarnell said...

Waldon it ain't. Third day without power (or internet). Have fired up the generator to try to save three freezers full of meat and frozen fruit. Trying to catch up with email and dump enough spam from over full mailboxes that I don't start missing mail.

PGE keeps telling us we have power, but I've looked and there are at least 500 houses in the area that don't.

Thought I was prepared: turned out the generator had a hose that had spontaneously crumbled - hurried repairs. Then thought I'd use a turkey that was beginning to thaw - have new turkey fryer that will never see a drop of peanut oil - to use as a poacher: gas tank empty.

Without power, we live on stored water - too much trouble to rewire the hard wired pump to the temporary generator. Very dark and very cold, so all the stock water gets turned off at night.

I suspect that the very tired line crews working on another section, forgot to close the pole switches they use to protect themselves while working aloft. Customer service said they'd never do that. I say if they're tired enough or if the shifts have changed, they might.

dan said...

Richard, I hope PGE restores your power very soon. Has Oregon had a stretch of severe weather like Judy has experienced in Washington? It seems like every time I see a national weather map lately, the PNW is under assault.

Judy, have things gotten any better for you?

Richard Yarnell said...

Got it back after a 4AM call the the same bunch that told me they'd restored the power several hours earlier - the same time I met a crew leaving our area that told me they'd restored all the power. I was able to give pole numbers and streets and times and just how my letter to the editor ("I suppose you checked all the transformers too!) would look when I told them what James at PGE customer service had said at 4AM. That seemed to get his attention. Got power back at 9:15, off again at 9:20, back on for keeps at 10AM. There ensued a flurry of dishwashing, clothes washing, people washing - especially that, and checking all the points susceptable to freeze damage. Refilled all lanterns, recharged all batteries, and generally are ready for the next round, should ENRON's old profit center take their own sweet time to hook us up after the next breezy winters' day.

Generally, what we get, Washington gets and vice versa. The Jet Stream wanders back and forth over the adjacent states. Up around Seattle, they have a lot more big water than we do so they tend to be a little milder.

deb said...

I just looked at the national weather radar and see that you and Judy are still under assault Richard. Hope the power stays on and that this wave of storms is short lived.

JG, the EPA is being "stocked" with corporate employees just like the rest of gov't. Want to be able to put lead into the water? Fill gov't offices with hand picked employees.

Cheryl said...

There's just no end to their creativity when it comes to going around environmental regulations.

http://www.realcities.com/mld/krwashington/news/nation/16258461.htm?source=rss&channel=krwashington_nation

excerpt:

The U.S. Forest Service no longer will give close environmental scrutiny to its long-term plans for America's national forests and grasslands.

It also no longer will allow the public to appeal on long-term plans for those forests, but instead will invite participation in planning from the outset.

"There is no appeal process, but there is an objection process before a decision is made," said Laura Watts, the forest planner for the Mark Twain National Forest in Missouri. "There is still a lot of public involvement."

Cheryl said...

I know that being without power is a real pain in the neck, and often expensive. Good luck to ya'll in Washington & Oregon. I hope it ends soon.

Judy B. said...

While the November storms brought record rainfall and flooding, the December storms seem worse with the winds,cold temperature, snow and ice..
We lost electricity for a few hours but were well prepared for it so are managing ok.
The weather maps show these storms that keep rolling in from the Pacific as very huge. As they come in they are "attacking" the whole west coast. some of the Northern ones bring the cold artic air from Alaska, some of the Southern ones bring the precipation from the tropics.. It depends a lt on where these storms collide as to who is getting the worst of it.. Our Govenor has Declared the whole state a disaster area with the damage that has been done..
Whhile it seems we have had some extreems, I still feel lucks as other places have been hit much harder.
We haven't been able to "see" most of the Washington state damage on TV because the regulations governing what tv stations we are allowed to recieve states that we are in the Portland service area, so we cannot even get Seattle stations that give our states news.
Media corporations do not want us to have choices....

Richard Yarnell said...

Follow-up proctology report:

The contractor screwed up and sent a well log, required by the State, without the results of the required 1 hr flow test. I was there when they tried to blow water out of the hole and got only 7.5 gmp and heard the explanation that there was so much rubble below the casing that they couldn't hold enough pressure to force water out of the hole. They didn't have a pump.

So I called the contractor and asked where the results of the pump test was and dropped a hint that the state was interested in the same data. He asked what I wanted, and I told him I wanted him to perform the test at his expense, I already had his bill ($19.5K for lots of extra casing and 50 extra feet) which I'd pay promptly on receipt of the filed well log.

They just finished and I'm happy to report a healthy, steady and sustained 28gpm of already sweet water that I will have tested only out of curiousity. Next year, some irrigated pasture.

Mama earth is healthy in Beavercreek.

John G. said...

Is all the rain and weather unusual for the PNW?
I ask, because where I live in the Southeast the jetstream usually floats between Miami and Nashville and we are caught in between. This year it has not acted normal, We are down over 13 inches of rain for the year, cotton crops are taking a hit and no hurricanes have made landfall;which is unusual...ponds and lakes looking a little low...yesterday temps in the low 80s high 70s and it was a hot low 80s high 70s. We generally handle 100 degree temps in the summer no problemo, yet these 70s and 80s temps are rather annoying kind of heat. Has the jetstream moved?
Glad all is well with you and Judy.

Richard Yarnell said...

What's normal is a long term average around which there is a great deal of fluctuation.

We had record November rainfall as did Seattle. So far, December is a little light.

El Nino is making an appearance so there will be weather patterns dictated by that pheonomenon.

deb said...

My "break" from the world's woes was short lived. Here are some news articles that I found to be noteworthy:

Climate change sceptics issued with challenge

Disappearing world: Global warming claims tropical island

Federal Biologist Faces Firing For Emailing Environmentalists — Bureau Of Reclamation Cites “Subversive” Behavior In Revealing Agency Misdeeds

Cleanup Begins at Texas Oil Spill

John G. said...

There is some positive in the world...

Go Green

John G. said...

Reviewing some of your links and the invention from the straw machine led us to this conversation; perhaps you would like to weigh in...

Christmas trees.
They produce oxygen and take away carbon monoxide. Yet we cut them down by the millions (250,000 sent to the chippers in my area alone), every year, dress them up for thirty days and then send a fraction to the "chippers"
What a massive waste. Has anyone ever thought of the expense and losses with real Christmas trees?
The petrol used to go cut them and again to get them to the chipper, the fertilizer used to get them to a salable state quickly so the growers can remain cost effective and still turn a profit. The balance between carbon monoxide exerted and oxygen replaced seems way out of whack. It has been said the holidays put retailers and mfgs in the black due to increased consumption of mfg goods. The energy consumed and waste products also increase during this time. I'm willing to bet our environment suffers worst preceding and during the holiday season as opposed to any other time of year, considering many of our products are now produced in PRC it is a global issue. And it all starts with our wasteful process of live Christmas trees and the systems we employ to integrate them into our holidays.
If we are to confront man made causes of global warming, we must start with Christmas trees, Take away the present life cycle of Christmas trees and turn it into a system that works with the environment, everything else will start to fall into place.
Right now, communities will give a seedling for every tree delivered to chipping locations to replace the tree, great! Not great enough. That only replaces the full-grown tree, if the seedling is even planted much less survives. But what compensation is there for the environment for all the other harmful activities that go along with the Christmas trees, some of which I previously posted?
Not wanting to rain (no pun intended Richard and Judy) on anyone’s holiday spirit, but if you want to get everyone’s attention and support on Man Made Global warming, it is my opinion you must start with Christmas trees and all the waste associated with there annual life cycle and the harmful environmental side effects they cause...

christin m p in massachusetts said...

John,
You are absolutely right. And although I'm usually one of the biggest critics of people who over-consume, now I have a little bit of understanding of at least one of the reasons some people probably over-consume -- That reason is emotional attachment to childhood memories and traditions.

Since I had never before considered the idea of Christmas without a live tree, I hadn't realized before I read your post there, that I have an emotional attachment to live Christmas trees. I would probably mostly miss the real pine scent in the house that I had always associated with Christmastime. Artificial pine scents just don't work.

I'm thinking that if the small children growing up now always have only artificial Christmas trees, it'll be easier for them to do without a live one when they get older. But the parents who always had live Christmas trees when they were kids, will need to sacrifice.

Judy B. said...

While I agree in context with what you say, John G.... let me play devil's advocate for a bit...
Christmas trees come from Christmas tree farms.... these farms only cut down a very small percentage of their trees each year, and then these trees are replanted so there is a renewal each year..
Taking these trees to be chipped is recycling at its best... these chips are put to good use by the cities (used as mulch in parks to cut down on watering needs) or are sold at a profit...
Replacing real trees with artificial trees means using more petrolemium based products... something I do not advocate..

Maybe the real answer is more Christmas tree farms

christin m p in massachusetts said...

John,
P.S. -- I know you were addressing Deb, but I hope it's okay that I weighed in on that subject too:D

Judy B. said...

The real problem with (Christmas) tree farms is their lack of diversity...
Corporate America has found that is is more cost efficient to grow only one kind of tree in a tree farm (thousands of acres)... this makes the area more prone to diseases...
Harvesting trees has changed a lot since the days of cutting and moving on to new ground... Laws now force timber companies to replant, and maintain the land as timber growing land that cannot be developed...
There are ways aroound this of course, but environmentalists have made progress...
I am of the opinion that trees should NOT be cut for paper products... there ought to be a law...
The growing of hemp should be legalized again and all paper product manufacturing should be converted to using hemp... this of coourse would take years, but we need to start now...

Richard Yarnell said...

I'm going to weigh in on the xmas tree conversation because I live in the middle of a large area that's devoted to them.

On the whole, if you accept the idea of celebrating a pagan ceremony, live trees (well, recently dead trees) is probably less harmful than the alternatives.

Yes, it is a monocrop, but then so are most of the forests that have now been logged at least once and replanted. While the Forest Practices Act here does require that forest land be replanted within a year of its having been logged, that does not apply to xmas tree plantations that are considered farms rather than wood lots. Those of us who have small wood lots seem to be converting to mixed plantings. For example, we planted a litle hemlock, and a 40/50 mix of Red Cedar and Douglas Fir.

Back to xmas trees: the cycle ranges from 4-6 years. The trees that were harvested this October will be replanted in the spring after pre-emergent herbicides are used to kill seeds of the weeds that would compete with the new trees. (When we replanted the wood lot, we used mechanical weed suppression - we lost about 3 years of growth to competing weeds, partially due to a severe drought the year after we planted. That loss of growt cannot be made up - at least in wood lots.)

Fertilizer is usually applied once after the new seedlings are established. Since conifers naturally thrive on marginal soils and very little added nitrogen, the application rates are low.

While I'm generally agaist monocropping, in the case of xmas trees, the impact is very small. For one thing, the trees don't have time to develop diseases. There aren't very many and usually they attack aging and weakend trees. There just aren't any in a managed xmas tree stand. At least once during the life cycle of a planing, weeds are killed off - either by application of herbicides or mechanically.

Compared to annual crops, the expenditure of energy is at a minimum. Trees are planted by hand. They are shaped, again by hand, twice. Harvest is by hand or with small chain saws. Trees are gathered using small tractors and utility trailers. On the larger plots, small helicopters pick up huge bundles of trees and drop them off at staging areas where they're loaded in semis for shipment to ports or by truck to distribution areas. A single small helicopter can clear several hundred acres a day. They're in constant motion. As a result, there is no compaction of soil.

At the other end, more and more trees are being recycled. Even if they go into the kklandfuill, they do decay, unlike plastic or metal ones. I've heard Portland boast that it recycles upwards of 90% of its trees.

The growing trees do scrub carbon _Dioxide_ and release oxygen into the air (enough per acre for 18-20 people on about 500K acres nation wide). Since plantations are populated by quickly growing young trees, usually planted on 5 foot centers, the tonnage is surprisingly high.

Amost every xmas tree used in the US is grown here. Almost every city of any size has free or low cost recycling services for them - that serves to keep them out of land fill and to get them out of homes before they burn.

Almost every artificial tree is now produced in China from a mixture of metals and plastics. They are not recycled when they get ratty because they are a mixture of materials. The cost of separating the plastic from the metal frames is prohibitive.

So, on balance, us a natural tree and recyle it. 9 or 10 million folks can breathe the oxygen they need for a year as a result and 100,000 people will be employed directly in the process.

Cheryl said...

There are a lot of uses for Christmas trees. South Louisiana uses them to rebuild the marshes. A pile of trees will hold the silt long enough to create land.

I have to admit that we have an artificial tree though. You can't beat the cost when you keep it for 10 or 15 years.

John G. said...

Thanx all. See Deb:-) Start with Christmas trees and the issue becomes global warming...

Great points.

Yes, we have real trees to a science and artificial trees generate more pollution initially, yet when you look at the life of a tree real or mfg it is the indirect impact, which we overlook. Think of the fuel, which is consumed, in all those family vehicles to go and get the tree and again to haul it to the chippers. Think of all the electricity, which is consumed lighting them, up. Think of all the trees, which are cut in the wild and not replaced, (We throw ours in the lake for the fish to have a home by the way.) The simplicity in which they are harvested is correct as usual, yet when we multiply that by the billions harvested annually it adds up on a global scale. It may not seem like much in our community, we make ourselves feel better by creating mulch and replanting what we take, yet a 6-year-old tree creates more oxygen than a seedling so any way you cut the tree you are out of balance by at least 6 years. All this energy consumed by families going to get and disposing of trees and lighting them up for thirty days of the year magnified globally is probably something our environment is not designed to handle globally (speaking in evolutionary terms it is a new phenomenon) and when you couple that with all the mfg of gifts, lights, wrapping paper, etc. it is stressing our environment into overdrive and eventually total collapse in 30 days or less. Look at what it did to Wal Marts Lay away dept :-) shut it down. (Could not resist)

Here are some small suggestions for the entrepreneurs. Retailers, tree farmers provide one stop Christmas shopping through the internet and sale of Tree packages complete with gifts, solar powered lights and live trees which can be brought in at Christmas and put back in the yard after Christmas. If you do not have children Plant a Christmas tree in the front yard permanently and outfit it with solar Christmas lights, paint rocks to look like gifts and put under it...
I got to go, be back l8tr...

Judy B. said...

The points you make are indeed valid..
And like our lament about changing the way things are done in Congress, I think it will be even harder to stop people from having their Christmas tree...
SOOOOO... what is possible..
Like the City of New York out-lawing transfats, maybe we can outlaw or tax some of the Christmas extremes..
Here are a couple of ideas.... can you add to them?
1. Put a dollar add on tax to every Christmas tree at point of purchase... That dollar will go to the mujnicipality to buy a piece of land to grow more trees..
2. Out law the manufacture of Christmas lights that are not environmentally friendly...

John G. said...

Toy packaging. There is too much going into the landfills. Design reusable toy cubicle packaging which can be assembled like legos in a childs room to hold the toys after recieving at Christmas or exchanged at retailers for toy credits. Kind of like old fashioned
Soda bottles.
If packages are disposable, a flower will grow when and where package is thrown out.
Retailers Sale Christmas packages complete with eniromentally friendly, tree, lights, gifts, and a plan to recycle all of it when it's usable life span expires. This will cutdown landfill volumes as well as gas running around looking for all of it...

Interesting how that Ice Shelf broke off right at the shore line...I wonder if the ocean is getting warmer or the rock?

Christopher C. in Hawaii said...

It seems the National Park Service employees may have been muzzled on discussing geologic processes by Bush appointees to management positions in government.

While most Americans have been distracted by the war in Iraq, the American Taliban has been busily gutting government agencies of reason.

Grand Canyon created by Noah's Flood

Cheryl said...

PEER is a great organization. Thank goodness groups like them are around to let us know what is being done to our government agencies.

dan said...

Re: "...The American Taliban has been busily gutting government agencies of reason."

Well put Christopher...that sums things up very accuratly.

Judy B. said...

On Solar power...

http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2007/01/is_energy_independence_finally.html

Richard Yarnell said...

NASA Science News for Jan. 4, 2006


Mayan Ruins

For many years, space archeology has been a favorite topic of Science@NASA readers: NASA scientists use Earth-orbiting satellites to find ancient ruins invisible from ground level. Prime real estate for this kind of discovery is Central America. In that part of the world, satellites are not only revealing long-held secrets of the Maya, but also improving the everyday lives of modern Central Americans by helping them monitor and manage their environment.

For an update on this important work, we encourage you to tune in to a new PBS broadcast on Tuesday, Jan. 9th. It features pioneering space archeologist Tom Sever (Marshall Space Flight Center) and colleague Bill Saturno (University of New Hampshire) discussing their latest discoveries.

Channel: Your local PBS station

Program: Nova scienceNow

Date: Tuesday, Jan. 9th at 8 pm EST.

Program times may vary. Check local listings for confirmation:
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/schedule-local.html

The 60 minute program features four 15-minute reports on various topics. "Mayan Ruins" is second in line and is narrated by astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson. Don't miss it!

John G. said...

Thank You. We'll be there...

Also has anyone ever looked (earth at night photo for reference) at all the known pyramids and/or monuments constructed by ancient civilizations and checked to see if they resembled astrolgical alignments? Similar to what the Nazca lines have been reported to represent. I ask because if we can start to see a pattern from space perhaps it will lead to the discovery of more as yet undiscovered monuments and perhaps how they were all interconnected.
As Deb has mentioned before, It is hard to discount the similarities in all the ancient monuments by different peoples...

dan said...

Richard, Thanks for the heads up on the Nova program. I watch very little TV now, so I would have missed it.

John G. said...

"if we can start to see a pattern from space perhaps it will lead to the discovery of more as yet undiscovered monuments and perhaps how they were all interconnected."

Yup... Thanx again Richard.

christin m p in massachusetts said...

The following statement by a former NAR economist has me feeling optimistic that home prices nationwide will continue to drop until they reach half their present fairy tale prices. That would place their values at prices that at least the MEDIAN earned incomes in each area could realistically carry.

“Greed, fear and publicity were three factors that contributed to the end of the housing boom, said John Tuccillo, former chief economist for the National Association of Realtors. ‘A lot of people out there decided that housing was a get-rich-quick scheme,’ he said. ‘Ultimately, greed overwhelmed the market.’”

I'm also thankful to read that I wasn't alone in my assessment of the way the nationwide investors' BINGE over the past several years has ruined younger working families' quality of life:

“‘I couldn’t wait for 2006 to be over,’ said (realtor) Bridgette Gavagan in the West Valley. ‘It was a very negative year. Three years ago, buyers bought homes to live in, to love them and to raise families and to be there. They weren’t buying it to double their money in six months.’”

The above quote was taken from the following publication:
The Arizona Republic

Think about how selfish (at the very least -- illogical) that was for people to over-inflate home prices as a "hedge" against the inflation of other goods and services. Housing profiteers pass that enormous price burden onto their children and grandchildren -- in effect, canibalizing their own young!

Why do they think it's okay for the younger generation to suffer, as long as they retire "comfortably"? After all, their parents and grandparents didn't do that to them!

Maybe it comes down to yet another case of "What's in it for me?" -- Don't you think?