Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Dreaming Up Daily Image

Mars on its closest approach to the Earth since
2003. Scientists have just found the first active
glacier on Mars--while China sees its most
important glacier for drinking water melting
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CC News: Fix It

Making us safe has been a Bushite mantra, but it's mostly been very expensive marketing for a nonexistent product. When it comes to protecting citizens from the effects of disasters and emergencies at home, a new study by the nonprofit Trust for America's Health concludes, "the United States is not safe."

Individual states and the federal government are at fault:Many states still lack a stockpile of drugs, masks, gloves and other equipment needed to battle a pandemic of diseases, despite five years of constant and detailed warning, the Trust for America's Health said in its report. Overall, federal funding for state and local preparedness will have declined by 25 percent in 3 years if the president's FY (fiscal year) 2008 request is approved," the report reads.

The report focuses on pandemics and public health consequences of emergencies. Also out this week, a Washington Post story that lists some (but by no means all) of the possible consequences for health of the climate crisis.
"We are not dealing with a single toxic agent or a single microbe where we can put our finger with certainty on an exposure and the response," said Jonathan A. Patz, a physician and epidemiologist at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. "Climate change affects everything."

It is the complexity of climate crisis effects that would test even a system ready to respond to known kinds of emergencies--and we still aren't anywhere near that. Public health is still in shambles, and the general infrastructure for emergencies found wanting in the above report applies to more than the health aspects. These effects are already happening, and they will happen more and more in our immediate future.

Months ago, Keith Olbermann quoted Winston Churchill: "The responsibility of government for the public safety is absolute and requires no mandate. It is in fact, the prime object for which governments come into existence." This basic civics lesson is also a question for 2008 candidates. What will you do to truly prepare, to truly try to make America safe?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

CC News: Stop It

The Bushites giveth, the Bushites taketh away. President Bush signed the very compromised energy bill, which nevertheless sets higher fuel efficiency standards for U.S. cars. According to the Guardian: The legislation, though limited in scope, represents the biggest fuel efficiency push by the US since the 1970s oil crisis. But--the paper noted--The reaction of environmentalists was mixed: grateful that the White House has belatedly adopted some of the policies they have been advocating but warning that the measures were too limited and not due to be implemented for years."

At the same time, the Bushite EPA chair denied California's petition to limit greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks, overruling the unanimous recommendation of the agency's legal and technical staffs, according to the Washington Post. "The decision set in motion a legal battle that EPA's lawyers expect to lose and demonstrated the Bush administration's determination to oppose any mandatory measures specifically targeted at curbing global warming pollution. A total of 18 states, representing 45 percent of the nation's auto market, have either adopted or pledged to implement California's proposed tailpipe emissions rules, which seek to cut vehicles' greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent between 2009 and 2016."

The difference is the states' fuel efficiency standards are greater and they will be implemented sooner. The Bushite action could result in a real showdown, as Republican governor Ahnold as well as Democratic Attorney General Jerry Brown announced they would sue, and congressional hearings have already been announced.

NPR noted that support for alternative energy was largely stripped from the energy bill, including tax credits for solar panels. While the Bay Area is taking such matters into local hands with proposed city tax credits in Berkeley and San Francisco, a San Jose start-up company announced it has begun selling its potentially groundbreaking solar panels, which are much thinner than previous panels, and most importantly, at a price that would make solar power cheaper than coal.

As for the future effects of the climate crisis, two new studies say that sea level rises could be anywhere from 59% to twice as great as the major UN climate studies estimated.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Dreaming Up Daily Image

Spirit Bear by Joseph Wilson (Coast
Salish) at
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The Dreaming Up Daily Quote

“Freedom is heavy. You got to put your shoulder to freedom. Put your shoulder to it and hope your back holds up.”

August Wilson
Two Trains Running


A review of the August Wilson's Century Cycle and other comments at Stage Matters-- a review of the third season DVD of Doctor Who at the Journal reviews column (which starts with a shorter version of the August Wilson review)...some thoughts on a book sale at Blue Voice... and an interview with Star Trek's Chekov, Walter Koenig, at Soul of Star Trek.