This week, we'll start with an exceedingly wise meditation on sustainability and self-reliance from Red State Green:
I don’t believe the world’s going to end. I don’t do what I do out of fear of the future.Read the whole thing, by all means.
There’s a lot of fear out there among people who are watching the economic news, and I don’t think fear is a good place to work from. You make stupid mistakes when you’re afraid. Your life becomes worse sometimes than the thing you fear.
Planning for a possible future is good. Running afraid isn’t, and I don’t want any of you to be in that frame of mind.
The New York Times discusses the trend towards planting native plants along highways:
Many states are choosing native plants for the 12 million acres of roadsides and median strips around the country to save on maintenance costs and provide wildlife habitat.These policies are opposed by a number of silly people, as one might expect. But what's more irritating is the Times' headline representation of the planting as an example of "Environmental Enlightenment." There aren't too many other sciences where you get treated like some sort of dewy-eyed mooncalf for doing things correctly; no one considers it "enlightened" to bank highways properly on turns, or to install lightning rods on skyscrapers; they consider it doing your fucking job. I'll feel like we've made a very important step forward when commonsense resource management no longer has to be presented as an arcane hippie ritual.
Politicians are beginning to notice that coal plants are unpopular:
In early August, Mayor John Engen (D) won city council support to buy electricity from a new coal-fired plant scheduled to begin operation in 2011. He said the city government would save money on its electric bills.A court has ruled that California must reduce water deliveries from the Sacramento Delta to the Bay Area and Los Angeles:
But three weeks later, Engen pulled out of the deal after receiving hundreds of e-mails and phone calls from constituents upset that Missoula would contribute to the creation of a coal plant....
A U.S. District court judge late Friday agreed with environmentalists’ claims that the tiny Delta smelt is endangered by current pumping levels of the State Water Project and the Central Valley Project, the vast water systems that serve about 25 million Californians.Despite Schwarzenegger's initial tantrum over this "devastating blow," he actually ends up saying something fairly reasonable:
“Following today's ruling, there can be no doubt, we need more water storage and greater conservation efforts to meet the needs of our growing population, respond to the challenge climate change presents and meet the requirements of what the court has imposed,” the governor says.California has also passed a landmark bill requiring hunters to use lead-free ammunition in condor habitat:
At a hearing on August 27, the commission received overwhelming testimony from condor recovery managers, toxicologists, and the Los Angeles Zoo, where poisoned condors are treated, that ongoing poisoning from lead ammunition fragments is impeding the recovery of the condor, and that regulations requiring non-lead ammunition are needed. Ammunition manufacturers and hunters testified that numerous calibers of non-lead bullets are currently available for big-game hunting, ammunition manufacturers and retailers are capable of quickly responding to an increase in non-lead bullet demand, and the cost of non-lead bullets is not a significant factor that will deter or impede hunting. The Condor Preservation Act will initiate a coupon program to provide hunters within the condor range non-lead ammunition at no or reduced charge.In related news, the Center for Biological Diversity has prevailed in a lawsuit against the National Marine fisheries Service:
The settlement of the lawsuit, filed in federal district court in Washington, D.C., sets enforceable deadlines for all remaining overdue critical habitat rules for species under the jurisdiction of the National Marine Fisheries Service, the agency charged with implementing the Endangered Species Act for most marine species. The species covered by the settlement are the elkhorn coral, staghorn coral, smalltooth sawfish, and green sturgeon. The corals and sawfish occur in Florida, the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico, while the green sturgeon lives in California.California has also won a summary judgment against the DoI, which had been allowing oil companies to stiff the state on oil royalties:
No one knows how many hundreds of millions Johnnie Burton and her cohorts allowed oil, gas, and mining companies to pocket on her watch. It will take years of litigation, investigations and oversight to unravel the mess.A federal judge has struck down a particulary noxious aspect of the Patriot Act, which allowed the government to gather private information about citizens without a warrant:
Another rumor on the grapevine is that Lucy Dennett, Associate Director of Minerals Revenue Management (MRM), may be leaving. Numerous investigations into misconduct and criminal activity are pending against the agency. Perhaps in a sign of what's to come, her "Associate Director's page on the MRM's website is blank today.
Regarding the national security letters...to let the law stand might turn an innocent legislative step into "the legislative equivalent of breaking and entering, with an ominous free pass to the hijacking of constitutional values.The decision has been stayed pending appeal.
The world's most endangered sea turtle seems to be on the rebound:
"We're not there yet, but it's encouraging, much more encouraging than where we were a few years ago when there was a real question of whether the turtles were going to make it," said Donna Shaver, a research biologist for the U.S. Geological Survey at the Padre Island Field Research Station.
You can "adopt" one of these goodly beasts by clicking here.
The UK will relax some longstanding restrictions on abortion:
Legislators in Great Britain are preparing to make abortion more accessible to women by removing a requirement for prior approval from two different doctors and, in some cases, allowing nurses to perform the procedure. Members of parliament from all parties are set to "modernize" the 1967 abortion law by enabling women who are less than 12 weeks pregnant to abort without consulting a doctor, and allowing women over 12 weeks pregnant to consult just one doctor instead of two....Japanese researchers have invented a battery that runs on sugar:
The battery presented by SONY showed the highest output ever by a battery of this kind at a very respectable 50mW of power, or about enough to power a portable MP3 player. The Bio Battery is a type of battery that uses energy sources such as carbohydrates, amino acids and other sources of enzymes and it is based on the work of Professor Kenji Kano from Kyoto University. It is still a bit big, with a length, height and depth of 39mm all around an it does take about a minute to get started. Still, they way that it works is simply nothing short of amazing. Simply add sugar to the battery and voila, instant power.Argentina has shut down a Shell refinery. The results are bound to be...interesting.
Con-Agra will stop using diacetyl in microwave popcorn:
Diacetyl, a fake butter flavoring, has been known for years to cause severe lung damage among food-industry workers who inhale it in vapor form. New evidence suggests that it also harms consumers.The average conservatarian tends to sneer at the idea of conserving habitat and species. Here's yet another reason why this is not merely stupid, but also self-destructive:
Thousands of interesting new compounds have been discovered inside the bodies of marine sponges according to scientists speaking today (Tuesday 4 September 2007) at the Society for General Microbiology’s 161st Meeting at the University of Edinburgh, UK, which runs from 3-6 September 2007.It's not hopeful, exactly, but I highly recommend Echidne's recent series of posts on Evolutionary Psychology. She's brilliant, and a pleasure to read, and what she has to say is important.
Once you've done that, youse larrikins can take a dekko at God's Own Earth, thanks to Picture Australia (via Things).
I also recommend Moscow Metro (via Coudal). The site's in Russian, but the URLs are in English, so you can hover over a link to see where you're going. Here's an illustration from the section on infrastructure:
Last, here's a fascinating video Elroon alerted me to. It reminds me a bit of Kafka's Odradek:
One is tempted to believe that the creature once had some sort of intelligible shape and is now only a broken-down remnant. Yet this does not seem to be the case; at least there is no sign of it; nowhere is there an unfinished or unbroken surface to suggest anything of the kind; the whole thing looks senseless enough, but in its own way perfectly finished. In any case, closer scrutiny is impossible, since Odradek is extraordinarily nimble and can never be laid hold of.
(Photo at top by Didier Massard.)