1sunfight’s Weblog

May 25, 2010

Pandora’s Box has been opened…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Katharina in Ghent @ 1:18 pm

… and then they threw away the key. A couple of months ago I expressed my disappointment about Barack Obama’s announcement that he wants to approve more off-shore drilling in the Atlantic, the Gulf of Mexico and before Alaska. Other people didn’t agree with me, because at that point the creation of jobs and stimulation of the economy seemed more important than environmental concerns, but I think this whole issue needs to be reevaluated.

Five weeks ago a platform exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, and since then we’ve been flooded with pictures of an environmental catastrophe, that is absolutely unprecedented. You think that Chernobyl was bad? Think again. By now the oil has replaced between a fifth and a quarter of the water in the Gulf, and there is no telling when, if ever, BP will be able to plug the hole. Indeed, one has to question the sincerity of BP’s efforts, since its own director mentioned that the “environmental impact will be very, very modest”, and reports have surfaced, according to which containers upon containers of oil dispersants are sitting in Louisiana, waiting in vain to be used.

The reason why Europe’s winters are so mild, compared to North America, is the Gulf Stream, a conveyor belt that brings warm water to the shores of Scandinavia, keeping its harbors ice-free and usually saving us from the -40◦C that are so common in Canada and northern US. Guess where the “Gulf Stream” got its name from?

I’m not an expert, I don’t know whether oil moves the same way as water does, but it doesn’t take nuclear science to see that the spilled oil can not be contained in the Gulf; eventually it will seep into the Atlantic. Already the breeding grounds for tunas and other commercially important species are either threatened or destroyed, once the oil starts spreading in the Atlantic, the word “disaster” will get a whole new meaning. Like salmon? Choose Pacific, because Atlantic fish farms will eventually be destroyed. Just because it’s a farm doesn’t mean that the fish don’t live in the sea. Similarly, lobster season may soon be a word from the past.

Just a few days before disaster struck, I read an article about protests against a big wind farm project off the coast of Cape Cod. Now I ask you, what’s the worst that can happen if the wind blows over a turbine?

I haven’t traveled much in the US, only to NY and Florida, and from there a short trip to the Bahamas. I thoroughly enjoyed the white sandy beaches in Florida and Bahamas, but I sincerely fear that they will soon become a thing from the distant memory. Just like tuna sandwich.

wind farm protests:

http://www.cnn.com/2010/TECH/04/20/cape.cod.wind.farm/index.html?iref=allsearch

modest impact:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20100518/wl_uk_afp/usblastoilenergypollutionbritain_20100518102130

environmental impact:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=how-long-will-oil-spill-last

Gulf Stream:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gulf_Stream

Chernobyl:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chernobyl_disaster_effects

April 2, 2010

You can change the president …

Filed under: Uncategorized — Katharina in Ghent @ 9:29 am

… but you can’t change his advisors

Do you still remember the days of “Change we can believe in” and “Yes, we can”? When we thought that with a new, young president, who did not come from the Old School, things would be different, decisions would be different, and a step forward towards new technologies and new perspectives would be made?

Well, think again. On April 1st, 2010, Obama announced that new areas in the Atlantic Ocean, the Mexican Gulf and in Alaska will be made available for drilling oil. Gone are the days when the emphasis was on pushing new technologies to provide green energy, and finally come up with a nation-wide carbon cap. He has come a long way from the days when he vowed in his first address to congress in February 2009 to push renewable energy and more fuel efficient cars.

So why is it that he has made a nearly 360° turn? My guess is that he is listening to the same advisors who were already whispering into George Bush’s ears, advisors paid by Big Oil who finally want to get their hands on all those reserves. Even in his address yesterday, he admitted that the US has only 2% of the world’s oil reserves, yet it uses 20% of the oil supply. So, will drilling for more oil really make so much of a difference in terms of dependence of outside sources of oil? It will take several years from exploring possible new oil fields to actually producing oil, so why not use this effort instead to go heavy on renewable energies?

During his election campaign, Obama was very successful in fundraising. About half of his nearly $750 million were donated by smaller donors – very impressive indeed. But that leaves still the other half, and $300+ million make a good number of people asking for their interests to be taken care of. And I bet you, that they were – at least in the beginning – contributing equally to McCain’s campaign. (Almost a third of his funding was raised in the last quarter of the campaign, when the economy took a nose dive and it became clear that Obama was becoming the favorite.) I also bet you that they were there when GWB was in office, and pushed him to start drilling big time in Alaska.

My conclusion is that while democracy makes us elect our leaders, we have no influence whatsoever about who will advise them, where they come from and who pays their other paychecks. And most of all, how long they’ve already been there.

I’m not an American citizen, so I didn’t vote for Obama, but if I would have, at the latest now I would have been greatly disappointed about my vote.

http://www.cnn.com/2010/POLITICS/03/31/obama.energy/index.html?hpt=Sbin

http://greeninc.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/02/25/obama-vows-support-for-renewables-and-a-carbon-cap/

http://www.opensecrets.org/pres08/summary.php?id=n00009638

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March 2, 2010

The Rest of the World Or: The Philosophy of Always Right, Never wrong, but Oh So Misunderstood.

Filed under: Daily Observations,Economics,Europe,Financial Crisis,GOP,politics,Uncategorized — Katharina in Ghent @ 9:45 am
Tags: , , ,

Since WWII the US have undoubtedly held the role of world leader, at least as far as the Western hemisphere is concerned. They have helped Western Europe and Japan recover after the war, which most likely is the greatest success story in terms of foreign policy. They have fought many wars, not all of them necessary, and lost a good number of them. And that’s when it all went awry.

Wars cost a lot of money, especially when you have to fight them in some far away place, and they cost a lot of goodwill of your people when these wars are fought against a nation that has no direct relation to you and poses no direct threat. It is bad enough if you decide to fight these battles on your own – it’s your decision, and you have to live with it – but when you try to drag other, ‘friendly’ nations into this just because you can’t afford to do it on your own, then things can get ugly very quickly.

There’s a big right-wing movement in the US who feel that they’ve been abandoned by the rest of the world because we other nations did not want to participate in the war in Iraq. Against all the warnings from outsiders, resolutions from the United Nations and better judgment by all their ‘best friends’, GW Bush and his team decided that fighting one battle – more or less justified because of 9/11 – was not enough, and that they want to invade another country which had had nothing to do with it. On top of this, there was no exit strategy and no idea whatsoever about what to do once the plain battle is over. Now, almost exactly seven years later, the US budget deficit exceeds $10 trillion and is still rising, the economy is in shambles and the nationwide unemployment rate is somewhere around 10%.

The same people who always preach that you’re the master of your own fate decide to ‘not like the rest of the world anymore’, because ‘they’ve done oh so much to make the world a better place, and yet we don’t do anything to come to their help’. Well, if you really think that, try to go shopping to the local market in Baghdad and see how far it gets you (or your various limbs and other pieces of your body).

One thing that Europe has learned over the course of very bloody 1000 years of wars and battles is to not meddle with other countries any more. Similarly, Canada, the second largest nation in size with only 33mio habitants has always pursued a peaceful path. Who would they want to battle anyway? Most of all, we have learned that if you start something, you continue until the job is really done. The war in Afghanistan may have been won by 2003, but the situation was far from secure and the Taliban were still there, just biding their time to come back and hit harder. To start another war, unprovoked, was just plain silly and the surprise that nobody outside was interested in participating just plain idiotic.

Now, instead of supporting the one man who is rising to the challenge to fix the many wrongs – inside and outside the US – that GWB has caused, they do absolutely everything to torpedo him in every decision and bring him down. They rather see their own fellow Americans without Unemployment benefits and health insurance than granting their black president even the smallest chance of improving also their own situation. On top, they are angry with the rest of the world because we don’t feel like doing whatever it is that they want us to do. Oh, and the best of it: they are still angry with China, because even they were not interested in joining an idiotic war in Iraq. Well, here’s a news flash: Guess who’s holding a lot of your debts right now?

Here’s a word of advice to the right wing from a European citizen: if you don’t give a shit about the rest of the world when you’re clearly wrong, then don’t come whining to us when you’ve spilled your milk and there’s no cow in sight. Chances are that you killed it in times of aplenty, and we had told you not to do it.

Note: I am an Austrian citizen, living in Belgium, married to a Canadian, so I’ve experienced a lot of different cultures.

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