The trifecta of reducing carbon emissions, conserving energy dollars, and creating jobs, makes investment in energy conservation a priority for the Kresge Foundation. Meet one of its core grantees for this work.
Fukushima’s disaster task force has started issuing leaflets with a bird character called Kibitan telling children to stay away from pools and ditches where radioactive cesium from the damaged nuclear power plant might have accumulated.
The smiling, round Kibitan explains why radiation is dangerous, urging children to make a habit of washing their hands and gargling their mouths after coming in from the outdoors.
Radiation can make people sick if allowed to get inside their body, says the cartoon bird, which is a variant of the local narcissus flycatcher.
The bird is definitely well-informed on the dangers of radiation, and the autoradiographs of a dead Fukushima flycatcher posted in April by a Japanese photojournalist confirm that.
Below are the photos, from the blog Fukushima Diary.
The cute public safety cartoons in this century are as sinister as Duck and Cover was in the last. But it’s not all bad. You can send away for a pocket geiger on your cell phone.
From here in Rhode Island, it’s hard to vet internet content of blogs from Japan. On American news sites Fukushima is completely off the radar. On Japanese sites like Japan Times and Daily Yomiuri the nuclear crisis is off the front page but continues to develop. Japanese citizen journalists say their government is not giving them the whole truth. The news stream at Uhohjapan2 blog is deeply frightening.
The people of Japan have suffered enough in the wake of the disasters of 2011. They should not be further harmed by panic and despair. But the people of Japan are owed the truth. The world, also, needs to know the true extent of the nuclear contamination from the Fukushima disaster. Nations are rushing to build more nuclear plants, for energy and for war.
During the last presidential debate, when the topic was energy, I noticed an interesting omission from President Obama. He did not say the ‘N’ word. He did not mention nuclear power. Mitt Romney did, at least twice.
President Obama did support nuclear power as part of the mix, but I wonder if the global picture is looking different now. The economic costs and ongoing environmental effects will slow the rush to nuclear.
The Fukushima disaster is not over, but if we are lucky the damage will be limited, and if we are wise we will learn that dangerous, expensive and centralized power is not the way.
From today’s Scientific American, Solar Power Helped Keep the Lights on in India.
Every day, at least 400 million Indians lack access to electricity. Another nearly 700 million Indians joined their fellows in energy poverty over the course of the last few days, or roughly 10 percent of the world’s population.
Oddly enough, some of the formerly energy poor—rural villagers throughout the subcontinent—found themselves better off than their middle-class compatriots during the recent blackouts, thanks to village homes outfitted with photovoltaic panels. In fact, solar power helped keep some electric pumps supplying water for fields parched by an erratic monsoon this year.
Local and diverse, though David Biello, the author of the article, argues that we need to look at the grid in the USA, or else stock up on flashlight batteries. You can read the rest of his short and interesting blog post here.
And here’s from the financial magazine, Forbes…
While national renewable energy policies – or the lack there of – remain mired in Congressional election-year politics, the great green future has already arrived in California.
On Tuesday, state regulators announced that California’s three big investor-owned utilities – Pacific Gas & Electric, San Diego Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison – had reached a mandated target – called the renewable portfolio standard, or RPS, to obtain at least 20% of the electricity they sell from renewable sources.
In 2011, the three utilities collectively secured 20.6% of the electricity sold to retail customers from solar, wind, geothermal and other renewable power generation.
Perfect time for the USA to win the energy race and lead the world in more efficient and cheaper solar and renewable technology. We’ve done this kind of thing before, that’s why our flag waves on the moon. Now it’s time to get serious about planet earth.
My GPS is a miracle of 21st Century technology. Linking to satellites in geosynchronous orbit, the GPS uses timing down to a milisecond.
When I turn it on it displays a message– Do not program the GPS while driving the car. Duh.
It’s not that we’re that stupid, it’s that when there’s a temptation to get it done fast, human nature leads us to figure we can get away with it. And we do. Until we don’t.
The same goes for corruption. Ever since I was a kid punching a power press in a factory, and the boss came around in a panic turning the safety shields back into the proper position– instead of pushed to the side so we could work faster– I am unsurprised by expedience. OSHA didn’t have teeth even then, but the prospect of a fine made more of an impression than protecting workers from losing fingers. Of course, after the inspection, he turned the shields back to where they were out of the way.
Raw Story posts this item from today’s Ashahi Shimbun…
A subcontractor at Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant told workers to lie about possible high radiation exposure in an apparent effort to keep its contract, reports said Saturday.
An executive at construction firm Build-Up in December told about 10 of its workers to cover their dosimeters, used to measure cumulative radiation exposure, with lead casings when working in areas with high radiation, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper and other media said.
The action was apparently designed to under-report their exposure to allow the company to continue working at the site of the worst nuclear disaster in a generation, media reports said.
If we build more of these nuclear plants, we are creating a permanent hazard for future generations. Will human nature evolve fast enough to carry this burden?
Japan is re-starting two of its nuclear plants to supply the country’s need for energy. There is not yet a green solution. But that is changing…
While the nation in general frets over power supply shortages this summer, many of the more than 300 “biomass towns” in Japan are offering a glimpse at a range of new energy alternatives.
Among them is the city of Maniwa in Okayama Prefecture. It has been attracting attention for successfully developing comprehensive city planning and industrial tourism based on the promotion of biomass utilization to efficient produce energy.
The biomass comes from byproducts of their lumber industry, sawdust and bark processed into wood pellets that burn clean and hot enough to fuel electric generators.
You can read the rest in tomorrow’s Japan Times
True to my new commitment to provide more information on wind energy, here is an interesting post about a huge annual conference on wind energy in Europe.
Originally posted on Low Carbon Living:
I visited the EWEA’s (European Wind Energy Association) annual conference and exhibition in Copenhagen last month.
The event, which took place over four days featured over 500 exhibitors, more than 100 expert speakers from across the wind industry, and in excess of 10,600 visitors from Europe and indeed the world.
It gave me a great opportunity to meet a number of Igloo3’s current clients (especially those based in Mainland Europe), some of the candidates we’ve placed in the last year as well as meet a few new client prospects and candidates.
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Dr. Kevin DeJesus, Kmareka’s Mideast policy expert, sends this post on the relationship between profits for corporations and austerity for the rest of us...
Indeed no one intellectually, politically, or humanistically
interested in the Middle East, nor in the situation of common
Americans who struggle to keep out of the recession’s manifold black
holes, while simultaneously caring for kin who are both young and
aging, can elide questions concerning the role of big oil in the
making of war and economic morass. Nowhere is this connection clearer
than in the current soar in gas prices consumers are dealing with
across the globe. Big Oil’s field day on the American pocketbook must
come to an end, while our need for far more nuanced energy policies
and practices, as well as for continually more sophisticated policy
approaches to the Middle East increases exponentially day by day.
One means by which common America can begin to reclaim its political
power, while contribute to re-structuring our economic landscape is to
contact your US Senator, no matter where you are located across this
vast union, and tell them you expect their support of US Senator
Patrick Leahy’s (D-Vermont) efforts to pass S.2204, the “Repeal Big
Oil Tax Subsidies Act.” Simply state, you need money for medical
co-pays, and by reducing Big Oil’s grab at the pump vis-a-vis this
legislation, average Americans can begin to meet day to day expenses
more easily. Gratefully, both Senator Reed and Senator Whitehouse are
strong supporters of this legislation. You can also email your Senator
using the Open Congress Website, here.
Remember, those with hands in Big Oil’s pockets will indeed be
contacting legislators. Those tightly grasping pen and checkbook with
fear and dread may yet to realize how much power they have. It’s time
to use it!
Here is Senator Leahy’s recent statement on this legislation:
Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy On The Repeal Big Oil Tax Subsidies Act
Statement As Prepared For Delivery
March 28, 2012
Mr. President, it is long past time to close the wasteful tax
loopholes for Big Oil. Over the past 10 years, the five biggest
private sector oil companies — BP, ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell, and
ConocoPhillips — have amassed combined profits of almost $1 trillion.
Last year was no different. Due to skyrocketing prices for oil,
these same five corporations raked in a record-breaking $137 billion
in profits. Despite this massive windfall, Big Oil continued to
receive billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies – subsidies that are
unnecessary and, in my opinion, unconscionable. The Repeal Big Oil
Tax Subsidies Act will eliminate these harmful subsidies and level the
playing field for all Americans.
Big Oil does not need these big tax breaks, and the prices they set
for consumers at the pump suggest that they don’t appreciate them. As
of March 22, the national average price of regular gasoline is over
$3.88 per gallon – up almost $0.34 from a year ago. I need look no
further than the prices at the pump in Vermont, where the average
price for a gallon of gasoline is $3.85 – up approximately $0.30 from
the average price in March 2011. This price increase is especially
burdensome in rural states like Vermont, where people must often rely
on cars to get around, and heating fuel is a life-or-death necessity
in the winter. For every penny that the price of gasoline increases,
big oil companies make an additional $200 million per quarter.
In spite of their ever-increasing profits and unneeded subsidies, the
five major oil companies have done absolutely nothing to bring down
prices for average consumers. Instead, they have padded their own
pockets, using the vast majority of their net profits to pay
exorbitant dividends, repurchase stock, lobby government officials,
and buy radio and newspaper advertising to fight this bill. These
actions benefit elite oil company executives and the companies’
largest stockholders, but do nothing whatsoever to ease the pain of
hardworking Americans who trying to commute to their jobs every day or
heat their homes during the long winter months.
This bill will halt the transfer of money from hardworking middle
class families to oil company fat cats by ending more than $2 billion
in annual tax breaks. It is a watershed moment for both energy policy
and deficit reduction, and I support it whole heartedly. Eliminating
these wasteful tax breaks that benefit a few, undeserving companies
will allow us to reinvest in clean energy technologies that will
benefit everyone. These investments will improve our national
security by making the U.S. less dependent on foreign oil. They will
also strengthen our economy and create new green jobs for the large
number of Americans who are currently out of work and facing hard
Specifically, the Repeal Big Oil Tax Subsidies Act would renew
incentives for clean energy technologies and put America on the path
to energy independence. In order to break free from our unhealthy
addiction to oil, we must choose the President’s “all-of-the-above”
energy strategy which will grow clean energy industries, including
alternative fuel vehicles, advanced manufacturing, biofuels, and
solar, to name just a few. Savings from repealing these tax subsidies
for Big Oil will help continue important incentives for alternatives
to oil and usher in a bright new future of energy independence.
In addition to the benefits that we will receive from investing in
clean energy technology, the remaining savings from this bill will be
dedicated to reducing the national deficit, a goal shared by both
Democrats and, supposedly, Republicans. Time and again we have heard
seemingly impassioned rhetoric from Republicans about the need to
balance the budget and reign in spending. And yet, when given the
chance to end more than $2 billion per year in unnecessary tax breaks,
Republicans have stood with Big Oil. Instead of standing with Big
Oil, we need to stand up to Big Oil.
For years, Republicans have opposed efforts to end taxpayer subsidies
to the major oil companies. However, lavishing these giant
corporations with incentives they do not need merely deepens our
deficit and takes money out of the pockets of hard working families,
money which could be spent growing the economy and hastening our
recovery. The Repeal Big Oil Tax Subsidies Act is precisely the
action we should take to ensure that oil companies pay their fair
share to help lower the deficit, just as working class taxpayers do.
It is important to note that cutting these subsidies will not result
in less oil production or an increase in prices. Expert analysis has
revealed that it costs the big five oil companies only about $11.00 to
produce a single barrel of oil. This amount is dwarfed by the current
price of a barrel of oil, which has consistently hovered around $110
per barrel. At today’s prices, oil companies regularly earn $100 in
pure profit from each barrel of oil that they sell. In fact, the
former Chief Executive Officer of Shell Oil Company, John Hofmeister,
has admitted that, in his point of view, high oil prices made
subsidies unnecessary. Therefore, it is highly improbable that a
small change in tax subsidies would reduce their output. Furthermore,
because oil is a global commodity, any incremental change in
production that might result from changing oil subsidies in the United
States will likely have no impact on world oil prices and, therefore,
no impact on the price of oil.
The Senate should also go one step further and once again pass the No
Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act (NOPEC), which I have filed as
an amendment to today’s bill, along with Senator Kohl and others. We
must do everything we can to ensure that oil prices are not
artificially inflated, driving up gas prices at the pump. Our NOPEC
amendment will hold accountable those who engage in collusive behavior
that artificially reduces supply and increases the price of fuel by
allowing the Justice Department to crack down on illegal price
manipulation by oil cartels. This illegal manipulation affects us
all. As long as OPEC’s actions remain sheltered from antitrust
enforcement, OPEC’s member-governments will continue to have the
ability to wreak havoc on the American economy and their destructive
power will remain unchecked.
The benefits of the Repeal Big Oil Tax Subsidies Act should be obvious
to all Senators. An overwhelming majority of the Americans, 66
percent, have said that repealing tax subsidies for Big Oil is an
acceptable way to help reduce the deficit. I would go further. Not
only is this an acceptable way to reduce the deficit, but in these
lean times when so many are struggling to make ends meet, it is an
essential way to bring the budget back in line. It is time to end Big
Oil’s free ride at the expense of taxpayers.
Going forward, our focus should be on 21st Century clean energy that
powers a jobs boom and fuels our economy. If these tax breaks were
ever justified, that day has long passed. The Repeal Big Oil Tax
Subsidies Act will end the unjustified federal subsidies for the
biggest oil companies that are enjoying record profits at the expense
of working families. It will propel us into the future by investing
the savings in clean energy technologies and reducing the federal
Senators must make a choice: stand with the American people and stand
up to Big Oil or continue business as usual? I think the choice is
clear, and strongly support this bill.
Kevin M. DeJesus, PhD