Friday, May 19, 2006

Friday Hope Blogging

I've been a bit out of touch lately, having spent the week with a nasty case of bronchitis (and its silver lining, a bottle of codeine cough syrup). Fortunately, today's news is ample enough for my purposes.

The oil and gas industry has suffered a pleasing setback:

The House narrowly beat back an effort Thursday to end the 25-year-old moratorium on oil and gas drilling off much of the nation's coasts after a bipartisan group of lawmakers from California and Florida joined to defeat the measure....The vote revealed deep fissures among Republicans over the issue of offshore drilling. Lawmakers were split between the competing desires to boost energy supplies and protect coastal views and marine ecosystems.
The environment is a wedge issue? Who would've guessed?

The Wall Street Journal reports on the potency of green issues at the local level, using battles over factory farms as an example:
Officials in Michigan are considering new legislation proposed by environmentalists to tighten regulations over the animal operations in that state, following complaints from several townships of spilled effluent.

Helping to lead that effort has been State Rep. Brian Palmer, Michigan's Republican majority whip. "I find myself in a very strange and unique alliance with the environmental groups on this issue," says Mr. Palmer, "because I believe they are absolutely right."
A survey of Minnesota hunters offers further evidence that the environment is an issue on which most Americans are united:
Of those polled, 76 percent said they were very or somewhat concerned that many fish and wildlife populations will decrease in the next 10 years, and most agreed that global warming is a factor. The poll, released Thursday, crossed political lines. Though most hunters and anglers are conservatives or moderates, 81 percent favor strong and quick government action to begin to curb the problem....
Speaking of government action, the New York Times has a terrific article on green policies in Chicago:
The tree planting...evolved over Mr. Daley's five terms into a much more sophisticated understanding of the benefits — including to the city's treasury — of conserving resources, saving energy, expanding parks, constructing environmentally sensitive buildings, reducing the amount of storm water, restoring wetlands, generating renewable energy and doing everything feasible to heal instead of harm the city's natural systems....

The Daley administration has planted 500,000 trees, is putting up the most energy-efficient and environmentally sensitive municipal buildings in the country, has agreed to provide developers with much faster permits if they construct green buildings, instituted a $600-million-a-year program to repair neighborhoods and city parks, promised to obtain 20 percent of the electricity used by the city from clean and renewable sources, and converted hundreds of abandoned and contaminated properties into new businesses.
I was also heartened by this article on green tourism. To me, the most interesting part was the description of a resort hotel whose swimming-pool uses saline in place of traditional pool chemicals. I'd never heard of this before; apparently, it's actually pretty common (though not common enough!).

In Colombia, a frog thought to be extinct has been found alive. And in Georgia, a healthy population of American chestnuts has been found; this tree was almost entirely wiped out by a blight in 1904.
"When the flowers are right, we're going to rush down and pollinate the flowers, collect the seeds a few weeks later and collect the nuts,'' Klaus said. "If we ever find a genetic solution to the chestnut blight, genes from that tree will find their way into those trees.''
General Hydrogen has sold its first hydrogen fuel-cell power pack for use in forklifts.
The Hydricity power packs, built around a Ballard fuel cell, can triple the runtime of battery-electric forklifts to 18 hours with constant voltage output, and can refuel in 3 minutes or less.
As a reward for wading through the above, you can take a look at these beautiful panoramic maps from the Library of Congress. Also, for those in the Washington DC area, the Smithsonian is hosting an exhibition of Antarctic photography by Joan Myers, whose incredible studies of the Salton Sea I've praised elsewhere.

You can get a sneak preview of the exhibition here, and you can watch a Quicktime "home movie" of her visit by clicking here.

Which reminds me...a few weeks ago, I was in Los Angeles, taking pictures of product murals and corner stores. By an odd coincidence, the new issue of Polar Inertia showcases the 99-cent stores and product murals of Los Angeles.

As always, the whole issue is worth an unhurried look.

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