Friday, February 02, 2007

Friday Hope Blogging

All sorts of strange things are afoot in the EU. England's educational authorities plan to teach all schoolchildren about climate change:

The plans, to be published on Monday, will ensure that, for the first time, issues such as climate change and global warming are at the heart of the school timetable. Pupils will also be taught to understand their responsibilities as consumers - and weigh up whether they should avoid travel by air to reduce CO2 emissions and shun food produce imported from the other side of the world because of its impact on pollution.
Many town halls in England plan to triple the permit fees for high-emission, gaz-guzzling vehicles:
According to a spokesman for the ACT at least nine other London authorities alone are ready to use parking charges as a weapon.

Interest seems to cross party lines.
There are also plans to connect Spain and Morocco by rail.
Throughout the world, rail, one of the older forms of passenger transportation, is undergoing a renewal, with the Europe-Africa rail link being only one example of new passenger rail lines being considered.
The Dutch have figured out how to make a better greenhouse:
In the new greenhouse, good climate control with sustainable energy resulted not only in an increased crop yield but also a lower gas bill.
And the French want to hand out free bicycles. (Clearly, these power-mad social engineers don’t understand that this removes the incentive for people to buy bicycles, without which no society can escape a descent into tyranny.)

Not to be outdone, the socialist weasels in Canada claim to have come up with a cheap, safe cure for cancer:
The drug, dichloroacetate (DCA), has already been used for years to treat rare metabolic disorders and so is known to be relatively safe. It also has no patent, meaning it could be manufactured for a fraction of the cost of newly developed drugs.

Evangelos Michelakis of the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, and his colleagues tested DCA on human cells cultured outside the body and found that it killed lung, breast and brain cancer cells, but not healthy cells.
Of course, even if the drug worked and were made available tomorrow, Canadian cancer sufferers would die long before they ever saw a drop of it, thanks to that country’s waiting list for lifesaving medical treatments. (Did you know that the waiting time for a blood transfusion in Canada is 8.7 years? It’s true; I read all about it at NRO.)

I’m as skeptical as anyone of Wal-Mart’s sincerity on environmental issues, but as David Roberts points out, they seem to be going way beyond what’s necessary for mere greenwashing:
"Sustainability 360 takes in our entire company - our customer base, our supplier base, our associates, the products on our shelves, the communities we serve," said [Wal-Mart CEO Lee] Scott. "And we believe every business can look at sustainability in this way. In fact, in light of current environmental trends, we believe they will and soon."
At least ten other multinational corporations seem to agree.

Speaking of skepticism, Treehugger reports on a prospective electric vehicle that’ll travel 350 miles on a ten-minute charge, with a top speed of 155 miles per hour. It won’t hurt you to look, I guess.

The endangered shortnose sturgeon seems to be recovering (in the Hudson River, at least):
For the first time in U.S., and probably global, history a fish identified as endangered has been shown to have recovered -- and in the Hudson River, which flows through one of the world's largest population centers, New York City.
The Tibetan antelope may be on the rebound as well:
Returning from a recent 1,000-mile expedition across Tibet's remote Chang Tang region, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) biologist George Schaller reports that the Tibetan antelope -- once the target of rampant poaching -- may be increasing in numbers due to a combination of better enforcement and a growing conservation ethic in local communities…."China has made a major effort to control poaching," said Schaller. "The large poaching gangs of the 1990s, which were at times arrested with 600 or more chiru hides largely ceased to exist.
A number of people – including me - have issues with PETA, but I applaud campaigns like this one, both for their compassion and their effectiveness:
POM became a target of animal rights activists because of research the company did into the medical benefit of pomegranate juice. On Jan. 17, the owners of POM parent Roll International, Lynda and Stewart Resnick, said the company had ceased all animal testing and had no plans to do so in the future.
This article doesn't describe the research, which was...bizarre, to put it politely. If any firm wants to test the effects of fresh pomegranate juice, I hereby volunteer to drink a quart per day at their expense.

Or perhaps I should simply make my own, now that I've been inspired by WorldChanging's feature on urban agriculture projects like Victory Gardens 2007+.

In addition to banning the incandescent lightbulb, California may make it easier for renewable energy companies to connect to the grid:
If the new payment mechanism is approved and implemented, it would be a first-of-its-kind removal of a huge financial barrier that has hindered development of wind, solar, geothermal and other renewable energy resources across the country….
Four dams on the Klamath River may be demolished:
If the dams were removed, the Klamath, which straddles the Oregon-California border, has extraordinary potential to rebound as a major salmon resource, according to fish biologists and regional officials.
There’s talk about reconsidering the practice of putting housing developments next to freeways:
A new study about the effects of local highway pollution on children's health has determined that living near highways can cause lifelong health risks. The results may cause many planners to reconsider where new housing and schools are developed.
And last, via Adventus, President Bush's recent visit to a Peoria diner was received in what I consider to be the proper spirit:
In town to deliver remarks on the economy, the president walked into the diner, where he was greeted with what can only be described as a sedate reception. No one rushed to shake his hand. There were no audible gasps or yelps of excitement that usually accompany visits like this.... Except for the click of news cameras and the clang of a dish from the kitchen, the quiet was deafening.
The photo at top is by Diane Cook; it's called "Underwater World, San Francisco, California."

Luminous Lint has a fine exhibition of cyanotypes, including a number of plant studies.

I also recommend Tin Tabernacles and Other Buildings, a beautiful photographic survey of 19th-century corrugated-iron buildings by Alisdair Ogilvie (via Coudal).

And Moon River links to some lovely experimental films by Toshio Matsumoto, which you can watch online. (I liked the first two best.)

If that's too placid for you, this site will let you view a half-hour documentary promoting an amazing 4-DVD set of Soviet propaganda cartoons. (I'm hoping I can get my Red paymaster George Soros to buy me a copy.)

If you're seeking a cheaper and more direct route to neurasthenic collapse, I recommend acoustic levitation.


juniper pearl said...

what was with that tiny trampoline under the last levitating object? none of the others deserved to be caught if they fell?

being the despondent cynic that i am, i can't help but think that pom won't be conducting any more animal testing because they don't need to, not because peta has convinced them that they shouldn't. they wanted to be able to claim their product had antioxidant properties, and now it's selling well enough that they don't feel compelled to make any other claims. personally, i think it's more fun and rewarding to eat an actual pomegranate than fondle a pom bottle, anyway, but i've never been much of a juice fan. or a fondler.

Phila said...

i can't help but think that pom won't be conducting any more animal testing because they don't need to, not because peta has convinced them that they shouldn't.

I think there's a good chance that you're right. On the other hand, it's always possible that other companies will choose not to follow in their footsteps.

It's really just a matter of gradually changing what's considered acceptable. When I was a kid, you simply didn't see products that said "not tested on animals" or "cruelty-free" or anything like that....

Interrobang said...

I wish pomegranate juice were cheaper. As it is, I can't afford it. I love pomegranate juice, though. Pomegranates themselves are messy and hard to eat, but they taste so good.

I'm generally against gratuitous animal testing, but having read an article on what a complete and utter looneytoon the head of PETA is, and the total misogyny of their ad campaigns, I'm rapidly getting to the point where if PETA is fer it, Ah'm agin it. (That said, cows are a renewable resource, and entire ecosystems died to make those running shoes. They will take my leather clothing off my cold, dead body, not before.)

Phila said...


I'm a fan too...I can get it fresh at the farmer's market, but it's like seven dollars a pint.

As I said, I have issues with PETA, and they're pretty similar to yours (their ad campaigns are completely deranged, by and large). Still, credit where it's due, and all that. If I were only willing to cite people and groups about whom I have no philosophical or ethical or methodological qualms, this feature would be a good deal shorter.

Eric said...

A few years ago, it was difficult to find synthetic motor oils, and equally difficult to

find someone who admitted to using them. Nowadays, however, you can find synthetic motor

oils on the shelves of Wal-Mart, and other retailers, and the number of people turning to

synthetic motor oils, particularly in light of the recent events affecting fuel prices, has

risen greatly.

So why do people use synthetic motor oils rather than sticking with the old petroleum based

stand-bys which are admittedly cheaper?

1. Let's start with the cost per quart issue. Synthetic motor oils ARE more expensive at

purchase. However, these oils last longer, requiring fewer oil changes. As a synthetic motor

oil outlasts several changes of petroleum based lubricants, the ultimate out-of-pocket cost

of the lubricant is less. This cost savings becomes even greater if you have someone else

change your oil for you rather than doing it yourself!