Friday, July 26, 2013

Maryland Leads Clean Energy Urgency

The governor of Maryland shines as the kind of leader the clean energy economy needs.  

Sensing the urgency, a concept that seems to escape many politicians, the governor has moved up the timetable for renewable energy standards from 20% of the state's energy mix by 2022 to 25% by 2020, according to Seattle PiMore sooner sounds like a good mantra.   

 "As severe weather events continue to grow in size and impact, and elongated trends of poor air quality continue, the costs of inaction would grow exponentially

In Maryland, we are moving forward and taking action by creating green jobs and protecting our land, water, air and public health," said Governor Martin O'Malley.

As noted in a previous post, switching to clean energy cannot come soon enough for several of the state's Chesapeake Bay icons -- scientists and fishermen note that crabs and shellfish are suffering from too much carbon in the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Amazon Sized Dirty Energy Runs Their Servers

How green is your data?

I've asked that question before in previous posts, and it appears we're getting closer to more people more frequently asking that question.  Some people are already asking how green is your home electricity, which is a good thing to ask. 

In this case, it all comes down to how the electricity is generated that runs the servers at the company in question -- the servers that keep your Facebook profile or your Gmail inbox or your Amazon account.   It takes power to run those massive databases that house those servers that hold so much online information.

We are talking about one database sucking up enough electricity to run a city of 120,000 people.  They vary in size but one thing is for sure:  there will be more databases thirsty for still more juice.

None of the major Internet companies -- Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple -- are running their databases on 100% renewable energy like wind or solar.

However, it turns out that the company named after one of the most biodiverse and beautiful carbon sinks on Earth -- Amazon -- carries the biggest smudge as many of its databases are coal-fired.  Interestingly and perhaps a little off-putting, the company is mum on their clean energy future, according to Fast Company.

"It’s not clear why Amazon won’t talk about its renewable energy goals--perhaps because it doesn’t really have any," wonders Ariel Schwartz in Fast Company

As a happy Amazon customer, I'd like to give them the benefit of the doubt.  But not for too long.

One tiny customer like me will not be missed but as more and more people start asking that important question -- how green is your data? -- Amazon may find themselves losing money and brand value in a way they never imagined.

I'm hoping it will not come to that because the sooner we move to a clean energy economy the better it will be for all people and for all other living things on this planet.

Thanks Greenpeace for once again keeping watch.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Rob Peter, Pay Paul, Take All the Fish

Take Action today to keep fishing out of a New Englad marine preserve.   It defeats the purpose!   Signing the petition takes about ten seconds.

See background details below from a post from February of this year. 

The New England Fisheries Management Council has agreed to open protected areas to fishing. 

It's a classic rob Peter to pay Paul scenario -- the landmark Georges Bank cod fishery is on the verge of collapse, so fishermen have set their sights on nearby areas that have been under protection for decades.

The Council put it in seemingly innocuous terms: "Other significant issues were approved that will affect the groundfish fishery that harvests cod, haddock, pollock and several types of flounders."

In addition to the groundfish, the decision also puts unique habitat squarely in the cross hairs as bottom trawling -- dragging huge nets and gear along the seafloor -- will be used.  Kelp forests flourish in one of the areas that would be raked with such nets.  In another, young flounder find refuge. 

The overall effect will be negative, according to the Pew Environment Group.  The areas' charismatic names like Cashes Ledge and Nantucket Light ship belie the potential impact.  "More than 5,000 sq. miles of seafloor are at risk of serious ecological setback. Decades of recovery could be rapidly erased," according to Pew.

Looking at the interactive map put together by Pew, some of the new trespasses are significant: 90% of one area and 60% of another will be opened in the proposal. 

The Council's idea sounds like a bad one for everyone including fishermen, especially as the science has shown that closed areas boost fish populations outside the protected zones and are often profitably fished by many fishermen.

Venerable marine conservation biologist Callum Roberts heartily agrees.  He calls the protected areas "the linchpin of fishery recovery" and urges fishermen to "resist the temptation to squander their resources in a splurge that would empty the sea and impoverish the industry once again."  

Near closure of the Georges Bank is a big hit for fishermen, but the rob Peter to pay Paul response to open up protected areas is just more of same mindless destruction.

Thankfully all is not lost.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has the final say; encourage them to say nay. 

Take Action
and contact NOAA offices, and reach out to regional administrator Guy Bullard.  Let them know you would like to keep the protected areas closed.  Also, NOAA is expected to announce a public comment period soon, which will be another opportunity to make your voice heard.  More to come on Eco Ocean.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Endangered Species List Short on Oceans

the scarce guitarfish

The ocean has more species in jeopardy than on the land and these species need to be added to the Endangered Species Act, according to Wild Earth Guardians.  Stop huffing and puffing and just do it.

Only 94 of the 1,475 species currently protected live in the oceans.  Meanwhile, the oceans cover over 71% of the planet. 

“People have had this idea for way too long that the seas are so vast and limitless that nothing we could ever do could hurt them,”  said Ellen K. Pikitch, executive director of the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science in the Washington Post

The disparity reflects an outdated mindset that has brought us to where we are now -- staring down a damaged ocean that continues to be abused by people. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Sea of Nevers Dominates Long Island Gas Hearing

The first Ambrose Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Terminal public scoping hearing in Long Beach, NY was an eye opener not without some lively drama.

When I got off the train at Long Beach, appropriately, ocean breezes led the way.  The LNG Terminal intends to receive gas imports just off the coast.

There were so many people who wanted to speak and who spoke that the hearing went way over its scheduled time.

The good news is that only two speakers of easily fifty plus favored the terminal -- both union guys who have one mindset: jobs.  Research expects the facility to generate only 6 jobs.

It's possible that all six of those guys were at this meeting.  At one point, one of them said "shut up all you tree huggers!" before he was succinctly drowned out by a chorus of those nefarious so-called tree huggers.  

My list of three reasons to oppose the terminal quickly grew to eleven as speakers young and old made thoughtful and impassioned comments.

Here's eleven reasons to oppose this facility; a summation of many voices: 

1. I don't see how it could ever be good for healthy oceans.

2. It's more of the same old fossil fuel mindset. Support clean energy -- it's the future.

3. I don't want New Jersey's rejects.  No offense New Jersey, but this is the exact same project that was recently rejected by NJ Governor Christie.  Doesn't that smell fishy?

4. The public comment period is way too short. 

5. There are no assurances that this will not switch to an export facility, which will greatly increase the desire to frack gas in New York.  This is a genuine concern because natural gas is abundant and cheap in the US and expensive elsewhere and switching to an export facility does not require extensive review.
6.  The impact on the nearby proposed wind turbine farm is unknown.

7. A highly explosive super pressurized gas facility just offshore -- seems like a viable homeland security issue.

8. What happens if there is another BP-like blowout?  Is that ridiculous "junk shot" in the plan?

9. It is a huge safety issue very close to many people and viable fisheries.

10. Has sea level rise even been considered, or the facility's ability to withstand the 30-plus foot waves recorded during Sandy?

11. The union guy called me a tree hugger, hurt my feelings.

Take Action: 

There is another hearing in Edison, NJ today (July 10th) so go be heard if you're in the area.  You can also make comments online until July 23rd.  Plus, contact your state and city representatives.

For more information, see Sane Energy Project, Clean Ocean Action, and Surfrider to name a few who are all over this bad idea.

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Pyschology of Denial

A very interesting Grist article recently covered the psychology of communicating climate change and explored its vexing questions:  If this is one of the biggest challenges facing mankind, why is everyone not doing everything they can to stop it? 

Sigmund Freud deemed denial as when a person is faced with a fact that is too uncomfortable to accept, that person rejects it instead, insisting that it is not true despite what may be overwhelming evidence.  Sound familiar?

Maybe we can have some kind of climate change intervention and people will finally accept it despite their fears. 

Instead of dismissing deniers, it might help everyone to help deniers to overcome their fears.  Let them know there are solutions, and most importantly, no one is out to take away their way of life or their livelihood.  Just to go about it with a little more thought, and by the way, the result is something that benefits everyone.

Still, that may not be enough.  Where's the urgency and the groundswell?  Why have hundreds of professional orators and pundits and communicators failed to spark the revolution in energy we need?

Maybe the psychologists have an answer. 


Monday, July 1, 2013

Farm Bill Bad for Oceans

The Farm Bill seems unlikely legislation to raise concerns over ocean health but thanks to the pesticide industry, the bill is bad for oceans.  Although the latest version was recently voted down by the US House of Representatives, the bill is still hanging around looking to do damage. 

The pesticide industry has spent millions of dollars to use the proposed legislation to avoid important Clean Water Act and Environmental Protection Agency regulations.  This is the same industry that brought us DDT and Atrazine

Buried in the bill  are two rules that allow pesticides to be sprayed on water and near fisheries without any oversight, according to a recent story on

One provision prevents the EPA from restricting pesticide use near fisheries until there is a new study of the science that supports the rules.  This is the "more research" blockade -- where industry ties up the government with research requests while their chemicals soak nature.

 "In 2011, Zeke Grader, executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Association, which was a party to the original lawsuit, testified before Congress that pesticide restrictions are needed to maintain the health of local salmon. 'EPA-regulated pesticides are now found nearly everywhere in west coast rivers and are killing salmon, destroying salmon jobs, and endangering public health,' he said," according to

CropLife, a pro pesticide organization, reported spending nearly $5 million on lobbying in 2011-2012, according to a search on Influence Explorer, as well as distributing nearly $250,000 in campaign contributions to members of Congress, according to 

The next iteration of the Farm Bill needs to keep our government -- much as it is flawed -- empowered to protect our health and the health of our valuable natural resources. 

Take action and sign Beyond Pesticides petition to keep our waters clean.

Check out other petitions related to pesticides and their impact on people and nature. 

Contact your representatives and let them know the bill is bad for people and oceans.