Maybe nothing. Maybe a lot.

The idea of “liberty” propagated by entities like the Heartland Institute and the Competitive Enterprise Institute is not the same as that espoused by the founding Fathers – who were thinking of thought, speech, religion, philosophy, assembly etc.

For the modern so-called conservatives, who would have horrified the likes of Jefferson and Franklin —  “freedom” is defined as selfishness, egoism, and narrow self interest with no regard whatever for other human beings, much less living systems, other living creatures, or even our own children.

Is this view of life so attractive that it is insurmountable?
I offer it up as a springboard for discussion. See what you think.



TOKYO — A senior nuclear adviser to Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan submitted his resignation on Friday, saying the government had ignored his advice and failed to follow the law.

Toshiso Kosako, a Tokyo University professor who was named last month as an advisor to Kan, said the government had only taken ad hoc measures to contain the crisis at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant.

The Tokyo University professor stated the government had ignored not only his advice, but the law, in dealing with the catastrophe.

Tokyo officials had drafted measures to deal with the accident that were not in strict accordance with the law, and the decision-making process had been unclear, he said.

“There is no point for me to be here,” as the Kan administration had failed to listen to him, said Kosako, an expert on radiation safety.

Wall Street Journal

TOKYO—A special advisor to the Japanese government on radiation safety resigned Friday, saying that he was dissatisfied with the handling of the ongoing crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Toshiso Kosako, a professor at the prestigious University of Tokyo, said at a news conference that the prime minister’s office and agencies within the government “have ignored the laws and have only dealt with the problem at the moment.” Holding back tears, he said this approach would only prolong the crisis.

Mr. Kosako was appointed on March 16. In announcing the appointment, chief government spokesman Yukio Edano described him as someone who “possesses outstanding insight and expertise in the field of radiation safety.”

* a reasonable translation into midwestern colloquial english

Here come the Spiders

April 29, 2011

If concern for their children and grandchildren doesn’t move your Aunt Teabag and Uncle Dittohead, perhaps arachnophobia will?

LiveScience reports:

Climate change may give America’s venomous brown recluse spiders a choice: Move to a more northern state or face dramatic losses in range and possible extinction, a new theoretical study suggests.

Currently, brown recluse spiders are found in the interior of roughly the southeastern quarter of the continental United States. Researcher Erin Saupe used two ecological computer models to predict the extent of the spider’s range in 2020, 2050 and 2080 given the effects of global warming.

“The actual amount of suitable habitat of the brown recluse doesn’t change dramatically in the future time slices, but what is changing is where that area is located,” according to one of the studies authors.

“In nature, brown recluses live underneath bark or logs in dry areas or underneath hanging rocks. But humans also create a good habitat for them in cellars, attics and garages,” the article stated.

Their venom contains a toxin that causes skin to die, resulting in what are known as necrotic lesions. In about 90 percent of cases, the bite of a brown recluse has virtually no effect. The other 10 percent cause severe symptoms with potentially life-threatening complications. There are no solid statistics available, but Vetter estimates that one or two bite-induced deaths occur each year, typically in small children.

No word yet on tarantulas, black widows, scorpions, snakes and lizards. Stay tuned.

Gerson Lehrman Group consulting firm reports:

Data released on April 28, 2011 by TEPCO is now unequivocal in showing ongoing criticalities at Unit 2, with a peak on April 13. TEPCO graphs of radioactivity-versus-time in water under each of the six reactors show an ongoing nuclear chain reaction creating high levels of “fresh” I-131 in Unit 2, the same reactor pressure vessel (RPV) with a leak path to reactor floor, aux building, and outdoor trenches, that is uncontrollably leaking high levels of I-131, Cs-134, Cs-137 into the Pacific Ocean.

Because I-131 has no long-lived “parent” to “feed it” by parent decay, the levels of I-131 in scrammed reactors with intact geometry will decrease exponentially with an 8-day halflife, meaning that after 5 halflives (40 days) the I-131 levels are only 3% of what they were at scram.

But instead of seeing that expected decrease in I-131 levels relative to Cs-134 and Cs-137 in the regular TEPCO press releases, I-131 was seen to be increasing, instead of decreasing as the physics said it should.

“Outlier” Unit 2 has I-131 levels roughly 20 times its levels of Cs-134/137. The only possible source of I-131 would be “pockets” of molten core in the Unit 2 RPV settled in such a way that the boron in the injected water is insufficient to stop the localized criticalities.

At this business in rural Colorado, as in sophisticated, urban, Ann Arbor, Michigan – LED lighting is changing the math of energy demand, and looking very good while doing it.

Green Architecture and Building Report

Just in the last few years as its technology advanced, LEDs are now used in real lighting such as traffic lights and brake lights/tail lights (take a look at those dotted brake lights in many of the new car models).  Unlike conventional light bulbs, LED lamps use less energy and are more efficient, safe, and durable.  So far, LEDs still cost more upfront (just think about how much you pay for a LED flash light vs. a flash light with a standard light bulb).  However, the energy savings in the long term can result in tremendous savings; not even mentioned is the reduction in CO2 emissions.  Furthermore, with their directional light beams, LEDs used for outdoor lighting can reduce light pollution since we can direct more light to the streets rather than towards the sky!

Ann Arbor’s first pilot project replaced all the “globe” street light bulbs in the downtown area.  It is indeed a successful project. Per the City, the initial installation will save the City over $100,000 per year in energy costs and reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by 267 tons of CO2.

Wales on Line reports:

They’re normally spotted in the more exotic climes of Africa, South America and the Mediterranean. But changing global climates are bringing some unusual avian visitors to Wales, as Sion Morgan reports

From the African plains to the mountains of the Himalayas, from the wilderness of Alaska to the South American jungle, it seems the world’s most exotic birds are increasingly visiting our Welsh shores.

…. in the past 12 months African bee-eaters and purple herons have been seen in Anglesey, North American great white egrets in parts of the former Gwent and a stunning South American bobolink in St Davids, Pembrokeshire.

The RSPB says that the growing trend has been partly caused by the deep winter freeze across northern Europe and Russia, which drove many exotic and unusual birds into Britain’s back gardens, combined with the fact that the warm springs of the last couple of years have seen migrating Mediterranean birds being attracted further north than usual.

After more than 6 weeks of research and mucking through skull-exploding, mind numbing distortions, contortions, and misrepresentations of this story, I’ve finally finished my video on that most toxic meme  that came out of the enormous nothing-burger called  “climate-gate”  — the phrase “hide the decline”.

Like Obama’s birth certificate, the truth will never make a dent on the committed crazies of climate denial, but I think this is worth watching for citizens, bloggers, or researchers who are trying to get their arms around the story, and appreciate how much the media helped, or hurt, understanding of the issue.

Working on this, plus keeping up with the Fukushima story, has been a huge time sink, but I hope now to get back to more regular video releases.

A common line of thought among deniers is that the costs of mitigating climate change are so steep as to preclude even thinking about the problem.

What’s missing from this logic is, we will be spending trillions of dollars on new infrastructure throughout the world in coming decades – the question to ask is whether that spending locks us into current patterns of fossil fuel dependance, inevitable shortages, pollution, war and climate catastrophe.

A new report from the American Security Project examines the costs of doing nothing about climate change, broken down into regional impacts across the US.

Former Gov. Christine Todd Whitman (R-NJ), a former Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under George W. Bush,  who serves on the Board of Directors at the American Security Project (ASP), said: “Too often the debate about climate breaks down over cost, with many Americans rightfully concerned about what limiting pollution would do to our economy.  But what this series of reports shows is that there is a cost on the other side of the ledger, too.  There will be costs to our economic security from climate change—and significant ones at that—if we do nothing but continue business as usual.”

Why you can’t just pour concrete on the reactors and walk away, why the health risks may be much larger than reported, and why the exclusion zone is not nearly large enough.