Aug 12, 2012

The 5 most interesting things about the world's biggest problem

(written 7/24/12). Alternate title -- "The End of the World as We Know It." (Sorry.) Our 10 week tour is ending on a grand note. We ate a 12 course Italian meal last night (think fancy American wedding) and played a lovely little concert in the reconditioned attic of a mid 1700s rural Italian palazzo (think Thomas Jefferson). We lived like kings of yore, but the conversation keeps turning to climate change.

Alejandro & i in front of a packed piazza in Pavia (Italy).
Everywhere we've been the weather is out of whack. Across the UK it was the rainiest summer anyone had ever seen. Spain, Italy -- it was either too wet, too hot, or too cold depending on the day (but never just right). Locals in western Canada told us of a 69F day last January (normally temps hover between -30 and 0 that time of the year). In late June a "non-tornado" ripped down trees and power lines from Chicago to Roanoke (across the USA). Our friends in D.C. were without power for four days. The eco press is publishing outlandish things like, "3,800 temperature records broken in the first week of July alone. Destructive wildfires in Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Nebraska. Over 50% of the country experiencing serious drought." And more. As the band's environmentalist i notice these things (we've also got a Vegan long distance runner, and a Buddhist mystic, not to mention a legendary rock songwriter) -- and when our conversations turn eco i try to keep my mouth shut. But on the subject of global warming Rolling Stone ran a groundbreaking article this week ... and Bingo, i've got a platform.
"Chris! Did you see it? There's a big feature on global warming in Rolling Stone. It's lighting up Facebook! Things are really, really bad," says our guitarist as we pull onto the cobble stone road in front of our five star Italian hotel.

"I know, that's what I was trying to tell you ... yesterday," i reply.

"Yeah, but for Rolling Stone to write about this --- it's, it's really big."
The conversation gets going once again. We spend 45 minutes comparing notes. I keep trying to explain that the thing about global warming is it's going to make weather erratic. Weather. All weather. Erratic. Huh? What does that mean? Expect total disruption of our seasons, i say. What? Expect spikes in hot and cold and wet and dry weather to be so extreme and irregular that we don't know what season it is anymore. And it'll be hotter, in general. That's the forecast for the coming decades. I think it's coming a lot sooner than most environmentalists are willing to admit. Understand this has all already started and that what's happening today is in line (over and over and over again) with the projections of numerous scientific climate models. We're already living in our worst case scenario, climate-stability-future-wise, and the train is not gonna stop, i say. But what? But why? How do we stop it? What's the up side? Those are questions for a follow up blog. I'm still concerned with the fact that none of the big picture stuff seems to make a lasting impression (when i say it). So i'm inspired to get my thoughts better organized. This blog quickly lays out what i think are the five most interesting things about global warming:

New York's Botanical Garden started blooming in February this year.


#1st Most Interesting Thing -- Weather Disruption.

Inconsistent weather = unreliable seasons. Imagine living outdoors, i.e. being a plant, animal or otherwise and living year round under conditions that include extreme, irregular, and/or sustained spikes in any/all of the following: 1) hot and cold weather, 2) wet and dry spells (floods and droughts), and 3) powerful storm surges (hurricanes, blizzards, tornadoes)... Sounds tough, right? In Texas where i live, across America, and around the world we've started seeing a lot of this in the last couple of years. (Right on schedule.) "Just google it." Climate scientists's computer models consistently tell us disruptive weather trends will increase in the coming years as the planet rapidly warms thanks to a proliferation of greenhouse gasses. Those of us who live indoors can expect higher costs of living, more flight delays and more inconveniences over the next 10 years. After that...? Biologists tell us our planet's bio-diversity itself is suddenly on a steep decline and that this decline will intensify dramatically in the coming decades (think: your lifetime). Common sense tells us as life ends so does life as we know it, prices will go up, stuff will get scarce, some believe it'll become too hot to go outside, and so on (1), but anyway, that's global warming in a nutshell -- freakish whatever whenever weather, year round.

The MidWest drought of 2012 may cost the
US economy over $50B. 2011 was no better . 


#2nd Most Interesting Thing -- Too Late To Stop It.

The second most interesting thing about Global Warming is the fact that it's too late to stop it. As you'll read from the Rolling Stone article we're already over the limit emissions-wise, on track to a 11 degrees F increase in global average temps by 2100. And honestly what's so interesting about the Rolling Stone article to me is, it's the first admission by THE leader of the stop global warming movement, "we're losing the fight, badly and quickly." Other smart folks are saying the same. But to me, most of these assessments are far too conservative. So i've written a short here LINK detailing some of the things that keep getting left out when considering our "almost-but-not-quite-finally hopeless position."


#3 Most Interesting Thing -- Economic Lock In.

The third most interesting thing about Global Warming is the fact that the only way out of this mess is to change our entire, global, economic system. This is why politicians, corporations, the news media, and some of us "suck" in a nutshell. To divorce fossil fuels from our daily electrified lives, our need for fast/long-range transportation and our reliance on the construction sector would mean destroying today's economy. (2) Nobody rich or in power is organizing for that. Global Warming, being driven by greenhouse gas emissions, is tied to the root of every aspect of modern life and wealth. "We must destroy the system to save the system. Or we can wait till the system is destroyed by natural causes." As my friend Bobby D (bass player with Alejandro) says, "either take it all down willingly (our economic system) or wait for nature to do it." Sadly i think he's right. But let's say we were going to try. We would need to: A) stop using all fossil fuels -- making electricity, transportation, food, and construction reliant on something other than fossil fuels, worldwide, yesterday; and B) replant / reforest / restore / stop plundering our planet's natural resources and biology as rapidly as possible, full tilt, no stop, faster and more comprehensively than Allied efforts in the Great War. We need a globally coordinated Apollo mission. Good luck with these noble goals in a world driven by private enterprise and self-interest. We are a people living under the values of profit, property, comfort, and constant economic growth. From my perspective, as long as profit continues to be the dominant force guiding our macroeconomics and we remain unable to manage our emissions, climate change will intensify. (3) It's a paradox. What's worse, even if we were to pull together and pull this off we're too late (as stated above) and unfortunately, building a global Eden does not look to be in our human nature. Sorry fellow Gen Xers, your retirement is likely to be more about survival than relaxation.

Ahhh, retirement 2035.

#4 Most Interesting Thing -- People.

A fourth piece of the current irreconcilable puzzle is us. Stubborn, busy, anti-social, afraid... and confused. Fear kills progress. What do we have to be afraid of: not looking young? Calling a spade a spade? We're collectively afraid of honesty, clarity, saying we're sorry, saying we're smart, taking the blame, taking a position, admitting we messed up, changing our position, changing habits, and so much more. Them's us. So who has time for the hard work of Democracy? (read: consensus building) We're all just trying to get home after a hard day at work. Can't blame us for not having the capacity to deal with global warming! Who's job is it to deal with the fact that BIOLOGICALLY things are getting worse, and fast, on a global scale? Add to that void our collective confusion at the internet-based list of cataclysms facing our times. (Bobby says, "Every era has its end of the world is near." Our parents had nukes, before that communism, before that War, disease, famine, demons...) Today there are so many "ends" out there people are confused and global warming doesn't look all that convincing. On Dec 21 2012 the Mayan calendar will stop, the poles will invert, a meteor will strike the Earth. There's chemtrails, flouride, detention centers, aliens, nuclear meltdown, economic meltdown, technological meltdown, illegal immigrants, airborne contagions. As a species facing global challenges we seem to be: socially afraid, civically inactive, intellectually limited, personally distracted, politically and spiritually divided. (4)

But for environmentalists who base their views in gathering multiple scientific data sets and adding 1 + 1 + 1, such as Lester Brown, Bill McKibben or Gary Hirschberg (or for environmentalists like me who read these guys) there is a list of disasters brewin' that have concrete measurements and warning signs. I tried to explain to Billy (our guitarist), there are probably 10 or more large scale environmental problems that given enough time could decimate what we currently call civilization. Stuff like: depleting soils, depleting aquifers, toxifying water, toxifying air, plastics in our oceans, the GMO-ification of our crops, and the toxicification of body care products. (Don't get me started.) But, if we put all these things on a list according to urgency, Global Warming wins by a mile. Global Warming / Climate Change represents the end of biology at global scale in our lifetimes. Bumm-er. Who wants to learn more about: rapid aquatic and atmospheric warming, rapid acidification of our oceans, rapid desertification of our croplands, towns and cities, and the dissolution of seasonal regularity.



#5 Most Interesting Thing -- Shoot and a Miss.

This one relates directly to The Rolling Stone article and some of what was said above. Bill McKibben, author, hero, and as mentioned above rightfully revered leader of the stop global warming movement, mis-assesses the core of what's prevented meaningful change, i think, in the third paragraph of his (highly recommended) article. Mr. McKibben,
"Since I wrote one of the first books about global warming way back in 1989, and since I've spent the intervening decades working ineffectively to slow that warming, I can say with some confidence that we're losing the fight, badly and quickly -- losing it because most of all, we remain in denial about the peril human civilization is in."
Retreading here but how can ANYONE deny something they don't understand? We environmentalists are relying on a populist movement to change our politics and economics, but we're missing the point: our population doesn't understand the problem. I think we environmentalists tend to see everyone outside our movement (or "worldview" if you will) in a religious-y sort of way. "Are you a believer?" "Are you a follower?" "Well come get saved/enlightened/etc." It's almost "you're either with us or against us." But what if they don't know enough to care -- or just don't care? Then where's our strategy? Of course there are dozens of fine points as to why normal, non-environmentalist people aren't motivated or are against change, but the underlying problem in combatting global warming is the fact that people don't understand "the perils," don't believe them, and/or don't know what to do about them. Enviros, myself included, have failed in fully understanding the challenges we face in stopping global warming AND the people outside of our world view. Specifically, we've failed to educate and inform those who's interests and priorities differ from our own. What may be the greatest achivement of Gore's poorly-followed-up-on Inconvenient Truth is the fact that the movie gave people a sense of the perils. Not all people, but quite a few. (And it left so much out.) Perhaps broad scale education should have been our greatest environmentalist priority. Perhaps it still should be. Perhaps we enviros should throw our focus into better understanding the problem ourselves, its solutions, the people we're talking to, and starting our own coordinated media networks and large scale, ongoing media events. How else do you reach out to those "in denial," or at least unaware and create demand for the right solutions?


###

What You Can Do
Now listen -- it's just too easy for me to criticize. And believe me, I've just spent 10 weeks in a van with the same 3 guys so I'm real clear on the value of criticism! It's what we do and i guess it's most of what i'm doing in this blog. (In a perfect world, wouldn't we all love to get paid for criticizing our imperfect world?) But here's my underlying point: i've tried faith in humanity, i've tried the belief that little changes will solve big problems, i've tried the idea that making green sexy will get green in place fast enough to mend the world, I've tried lobbying at City Hall, collaborating with local environmentalists, and speaking at churches -- and yet i'm not accredited, i'm just guy who's passionate about what he was taught in church as a kid. (5) It's all led to this for me: simply trying UNDERSTAND what's preventing us from embracing these complexities at scale, and sharing my hope that others will take these ideas, get involved, and develop solutions.

Now that it's "too late" what do we do? That part's up to you. A few quick recommendations: 1) Get Smart. I recommend reading the cats listed above: Lester Brown, Bill McKibben, and Gary Hirshberg for some un-honey-coated expertise on the state of world ecology. Spend 15 minutes. 2) Talk More. Honestly, the world's biggest problems seem to generally be solvable with better communication and a little flexibility. Talk, listen, more. You are our best hope. 3) Participate More. If you're trying to live in a world where everybody sees things the way you do then tattoo "I give up" on your forehead. (It ain't gonna happen.) We have problems BECAUSE of our differences; we have solutions because of our differences. It's worth embracing diversity simply to solve big problems, in my book. Working thru uncomfortable situations, chosing to vote, trying to change your government, or your environment, or the way you shop/eat/bathe/clean/party/work/celebrate/travel/earn/learn/etc. is all we got.

Thanks for reading.




NOTES
(1) This means, unbelievably - and as stated above, that likely about half of the world's biology will cease to exist during the next 90 years. That'll make eating on a daily basis much more difficult. (Not to mention vacationing or furnishing your bedroom or decorating your office.) It's hard to imagine. Look around your surroundings and imagine all of it gone. The current scientific consensus is that dinosaurs went extinct 65.5 million years because an ice age destroyed 13% of the world's biology and thus their food chain disintegrated. What'll happen to us? As the dinosaurs of today (us, if you will) it's hard to imagine human centric civilizations continuing to thrive without growing and harvesting everything indoors: food, water, medicine, building materials. . . which could work. . . hey, there's a solution. . . could be "great for the economy" ... (Newt? Newt?).

(2) According to my review of the Financial Times historical "most profitable companies" lists, the five most profitable industries in the world over the last 50 years are: Banking, Oil, Technology, Chemicals, and Construction. Tech's a close 6th. Shipping's in there too. How would each of these industries completely eliminate their fossil fuel use? How many people would need new jobs overnight if they did so? How would the world financial sector re-value the economy and make retooling and repowering profitable? How would governments be involved? ... Not to mention our human-driven economy is built on "spending" (consumption) not saving. 

(3) Environmentalists believe the solution to this is to make social equality and biological values as meaningful as profit. (Aren't they already?) In such an imagined world companies that make soil healthier, for example, would be more profitable than so many of today whose business it is to deplete our soils. In short, it would appear we would need an eco-centric economy to a) survive this century and to b) eventually thrive again. I'll call such an economic vision "the Eden Solution," and again ask the practical question, how many jobs would have to repurposed for you to travel in a cleanly fueled vehicle that possibly returns significantly less profit to the Saudi crown or Exxon or Petro China? Or to charge your phone / listen to music / watch TV / enjoy a little ice cream and air conditioning / drink clean water / recycle all your garbage / browse the web from a 100% cleanly fueled electric grid? 

(4) In our recent travels across most of Italy, Spain, France, Britain, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, the US, and Canada we stayed in everything from high-end five star hotels to Travelodges; hung out with everyone from super freaks and high paid professionals' drove over mountains, past coasts, across cities and thru countrysides -- and i can tell you... While Germany, Italy and Spain are doing lots to integrate solar and wind into their electric grids rapidly, general concern and understanding about ecological problems and what to do to improve the situation is LOW everywhere; too low to make a big difference. Yes, Europeans in these countries tend to do more with less, and at all levels of life -- but, these places are still not recycling, not composting, not going non-toxic, not looking critically at the scale and detail of changes needed (much less engaging in the activities truly needed) to avert catastrophic global climate change. What environmentalists in Europe appear to be doing WELL is implementing cleaner grid technology pretty fast and having recycling stations more commonly, but Europeans are still living in a wholly unsustainable paradigm just like we the Americans.

(5) Since 2005 I've run a small eco business, produced large eco festivals, given educational presentations to churches, public schools, women's groups, rapt audiences & more, helped start and maintain Austin's Interfaith Environmental Network, fought for cleaner energy and advocated at City Hall and at the local power utility, blogged extensively, considered politics, collaborated with Austin's environmental sector on some large scale projects, attended numerous eco conferences, independently run large local eco action groups and petitions, and more.


11 comments:

greenguy512 said...

Well Chris,
Great commentary. but...
elephant in the room, "too many people". If you want to tackle the real problems, you can't ignore it.Use code words like family planning or consumption per capita etc. to talk about it with out scaring them.
I would also include an idea that "if you care about your grandchildren" then, blah blah blah. that has woken up a few to realize that it's going to happen to their family, self interest is the highest motivator. thanks, jim holland

christopher searles said...

Thanks EcoWise Jim, great points. (Jim Holland from Ecowise "everybody"). Some of that is covered, starting with my suggestion that our lives in trouble way BEFORE any future grandkids get here. What's your solution? Not kidding. Thanks again, see you at the store soon

sgr79 said...

Hey Chris -- just a note about your next-to-last footnote -- in my experience, England and Germany recycle far more systematically than the US on the average-citizen level; in both, everyone separates their residential trash into recyclables/compost/other in 3 bins (where I live now, garbage vs recycle & compost pick-up rotate on a weekly basis); in Germany, most places like airports have triple garbage cans everywhere for the same; in the UK at least, there are additional recycle bins at grocery stores and the like for additional recyclables such as glass, wax cartons, plastic bags, and textiles.

I've always wondered why so many places in the US make it difficult to recycle... i.e., no special residential recycle bins, leading to policies like having to leave stacks of newspapers in a certain way, bundled only in twine, etc.

Keep on fighting the good fight, Chris!

ChadNBlevins said...

Thanks for the post, Chris. The challenges we are facing in our lifetime really have me concerned, especially for my children.

Sometimes, I figure I'll just focus on teaching them about permaculture, survivalism, and rocket science; maybe they'll do better up with Curiosity.

Other times, I play "Earth-opoly" with my 8yr old son. Like Monopoly, you go around the board and get cards for the various properties. However, the difference is you don't "own" the "Colorful Coral Reefs." Rather, you become "responsible for protecting" them.

Then, with the money he collects as I land on that square, he "pays" his younger brother (7yrs) to learn scuba diving, so the 7yr old can go protect the reefs.

So, maybe it is scuba diving and rock climbing that the kids need to learn.

Whatever the case, they are going to need a seriously amazing toolkit of skills to thrive and prosper in our rapidly changing home.

Zowish said...

Very grateful for your words, Chris, and for making the effort to write them. I agree that education (raising awareness) is key. I’ll also put in a plug for the book Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. It talks about changing peoples’ minds. For instance, they’re not "our" oceans or forests, but belong to themselves for their own sake. I also recommend a recent film: The Money Fix.

rpauli said...

Great essay. Agreed: most of our species will either quickly awaken or die out - and soon. For the first time, most all humans will be facing their existentialist challenges at roughly the same time. Climate model scenarios show unsurvivable end-times shared within a few decades. We all will closely share the same calendar of hardship. The further up the hockeystick - the closer our shared experience. Near-term or multi-generational survival requires a type of unified effort never before seen or imagined. We don't have a clue. We can talk to people still alive who were born before light bulbs and airplanes. But all that, plus our ear buds and thumb drives, mean nothing to our survival. We have been dancing on the cliff and it looks like gravity rules.

Individuals can philosophize and coordinate efforts but humans are not really a unified species like ants or bees. We don't do much group-thinking. And so far, our best group thinking is robotic and requires electricity. Historically, our most genuine human effort has been to assemble individuals into large groups that temporarily share resources in order to face another large group of individuals (i.e. wars).

This is the most interesting of times. Wonderful to witness, and great to participate.

christopher searles said...

THE FOLLOWING COMMENTS TRANSFERRED FROM JOHN NISTLER'S EMAIL TO ME. A good dialogue. John is President/CEO of PSIDA GR LLC.

(1) of (5)

Hello Chris,
Thanks for the blog. Its an interesting read. Not that I agree or disagree with everything you wrote, but there are some additional points that I may add.

Please keep in mind that I promote 24 hour on demand solar power, if you will keep that in mind, I think you will see that I look at truly understanding some issues instead of making it a "them versus us" proposition.

1) Natural Gas. A double sided sword. On one side, it uses a lot of clean water. Yet, they are also using the production brine water in many areas in West Texas to produce the clean water they need for fraccing. In addition, fraccing potentially can consume large volumes of fresh water and is being bid for directly against farmers and ranchers.

But, on the other side, low natural gas prices is finally breaking the cycle of coal use for electricity here in the USA. http://psida.webs.com/apps/photos/photo?photoid=157644452. Replacing coal with NG has resulted in lowering of CO2, NOx and SOx emmissions. Thus while there is a concern regarding fresh water, air quality is improving. Natural Gas is being blamed for a lack of investment for electricity in Texas, since wholesale electricity is now going for 2.5 cents per kWh. But we should keep in mind that wind now represents 8% of the electricity generated in Texas. So wind has also drove wholesale prices down.

Thus from an environmental perspective - is it better to condemn fraccing or promote NG for cleaner air?

On my second point, I was involved in the Gulf during the BP oil spill. Saw lots of environmental groups rush in while they could get in front of the camera and obtain donations, same thing happened in Haiti. After the news left, so did the environmental groups who were not home grown to begin with. I also saw environmental groups battling each other for the almighty dollar, but in general a real lack of concern for what was actually happening. There were exceptions. Louisiana Coastal Brigade for example. They were there before the spill and are still there now.

My basic point. At the beginning many environmental groups are started by people who really care, after wards they become a business. Its kind of like telling a child to do as I say, not as I do. The everyday person being effected by the spraying of Corexit and the aftermath of the BP oil spill, they saw this happening. Thus any claim of global warming in Louisiana is now seen as just another way for environmental groups to get money.

Until environmental groups start to invest in real long term solutions versus appearing to be wanting to get in front of the camera to obtain donations, this attitude of the "normal, everyday people" will not change.

christopher searles said...

THE FOLLOWING COMMENTS TRANSFERRED FROM JOHN NISTLER'S EMAIL TO ME. A good dialogue. John is President/CEO of PSIDA GR LLC.

(2) of (5)

I hear from people everyday, but very few of them are willing to invest their own money into installing solar energy unless there is a definite profit they can see. Typically for most of us who struggle every day to actually make a change, we see nothing really from people who claim to be environmentalists in truly investing in a change. Al Gore is a good example. Instead of reducing the amount of power he uses in his home (enough by the way to power a small Caribbean nation) he added some solar panels to his roof. The hypocrisy was noted by many, including myself. I saw lots of musicians get up and sing for environmental causes, but how many of the major artists would be willing to sale their multi-million dollar home and invest it in companies that strive to make a difference. Kevin Costner was the only one we saw in the Gulf who put his own money into something, but it was for his brother's centrifuge equipment.

These are just a few basic points. I am working with John Jarmon (ERCOT) and Daniel Thomas (Teacher at Taylor High School) to try and put together a solar field at Taylor High School for the students involved in BLADE to have the capability to really look at solar power. We are attempting to do this through Crowdfunding. As we progress, if you are interested I would like to talk with you further. Lets see if we can put our talents to work together, I and my colleagues with the technology, you and your colleagues with the music. My vision - to expand this program at Taylor High School to every High School and College through out the state. Now I am asking people who say that they are concerned about the environment to make an active change - through our children and grandchildren.

My best regards,

John Nistler
President/CEO
PSIDA GR LLC
www.psida.webs.com

christopher searles said...

THE FOLLOWING COMMENTS TRANSFERRED FROM JOHN NISTLER'S EMAIL TO ME. A good dialogue. John is President/CEO of PSIDA GR LLC.

(3) of (5)

MY RESPONSE TO JOHN


Hello & Thanks, John --

Appreciate you taking the time to respond with some very quality comments.

Here's my replies:


I. re: "from an environmental perspective - is it better to condemn fraccing or promote NG for cleaner air?"
• From my enviro perspective we should neither condemn nor promote natural gas. Instead we must admit to ourselves, in governance, in the news media, in the energy conversations, that considering climate change, natural gas is too little too late. Regarding which fuel mix to promote today and what kind of infrastructure, we've already chosen so poorly that we are seeing scary computer forecasting coming to life. And the scientist say this is only the beginning, radical weather and storms will dramatically increase in the future, as will the overall heat. With or without NG it looks to me like we're doubling down on a worst case scenario; too many greenhouse gas emissions. My understanding: 1. there's simply too many greenhouses gasses already in the atmosphere, 2. too many emission points (during extracting and refining fossil fuels, from transportation's many forms, on grid electricity production, off grid energy production, and increasing demand for all three of the above), 3. too few natural carbon sinks (the planet is about 2/5's less forested than it was 150 years ago… and counting), 4. too many natural carbon sinks now degrading due to rapid overall warming, consequently releasing even more greenhouse gasses at terrifying scales (glaciers, permafrost, forests, etc.) -- this degradation will worsen over the next 20 years they say even if we went "zero carbon" yesterday, in other words, we've crossed a threshold wherein emissions will make more emissions at terrifyingly large scales (the thawing of the Arctics and Antarctics for instance) during our lifetimes and there's no technologies available for stopping it.
• As far as natural gas goes, it's too bad we didn't start with that stuff 100+ years ago and skip coal/oil all together. Debating it's value now = steering away from the severity of our current (global biological) forecast.

###

christopher searles said...

(4) of (5)
MY RESPONSE CONTINUES

John,

II. On your second point --- "enviro groups not being deeply committed on the Gulf, etc."
• i can relate to that kind of experience, too. As far as I can tell environmental organizations, just like businesses (small and corporate) are beholden to the almighty dollar. While their purpose is specifically beneficial and restorative For All (which is awesome, admirable, and essential) -- the nonprofit structure has by definition limited time and resources. Every project is funded on a case by case basis by funders who either have lots of money and infrastructure and require annual proposals ("lofty liberals" usually), or by grassroots donations ("send us $5.00!"). It's somewhat like Obama first presidential campaign all the time for eco groups. Imagine if he had to run for president in 2008 for seven years, but perform as well as financially EACH year as he did in that last stretch of 2008. It took a lot of people to get Obama elected, i remember. A lot of money big and small. Also, on a related note, my experience is that the enviro non profit world is SO SMALL and SO UNDER-RESOURCED compared to the industries / regulations / corporations / lawyers / ad campaigns they're fighting, that just when they get going on their mega-sized Gulf campaign, the mega-sized Tar Sands problem comes along and presto new campaign needed -- and new funds, only to be interrupted by the mega TX wildfires in 2011 problem, only to be interrupted by a political battle over fuel efficiency standards in 2025, or over regulation of bio-diesel by state governments (making biodiesel much less competitive against diesel), or solar funding at the state or federal legislature, or/and etc. etc. etc. These groups are generally outgunned and understrategized. The (probably pretty small) Coastal Brigade you mentioned probably has the sole purpose of protecting and restoring the Gulf Coast, as compared to the (much larger) Sierra Club, which cares an awful lot about the Coast, and dislikes BP, but is trying to cover all kinds of bases and manage all kinds of member priorities in order to be effective and stay relevant to their donors (funders). Successful corporations, by comparison, have a narrow focus, tremendously greater cash flexibility, and by definition coordinate well with others in order to promote their interests. Nonprofits tend to operate in an under-funded vacuum, and with too many concerns. (Not sure what the solution is here, but you've hit on a fundamental weakness in the eco movement i think.) Thus BP with $5.3B in PROFITS after taxes and after payouts last year, one year after the spill, has plenty of funding to sustain whatever efforts it chooses. Or should i say "has plenty of fund-ers?" They're doing great. Business is good, as it were. People rely on gasoline everyday.
• Sustaining a nonprofit revolution via grassroots and/or lofty liberal donations, and maintaining cross-organizational eco priorities, has proven "unsustainable" lately.
• so I blog now!

###


III. To your third point -- "Thus any claim of global warming in Louisiana is now seen as just another way for environmental groups to get money."
• Wow, and yes, that hits hard. Great point. I try to acknowledge some of the idea that global warming is not that credible in a crowded world often dominated by media distractions, over-hype, personal confusion, and conspiracy theory fears, personal concerns, etc. The idea that people think environs are ignoring their more immediate concerns and just "going for the global warming" money is another important piece of the puzzle -- thanks for pointing that out.

###

Agree with all your other points thereafter.

Also -- I wonder if I might reprint them and my responses in the comments section of my blog? You're second and third points are especially worth highlighting, to me. Thanks and best,

Chris

christopher searles said...

THE FOLLOWING COMMENTS TRANSFERRED FROM JOHN NISTLER'S EMAIL TO ME. A good dialogue. John is President/CEO of PSIDA GR LLC.

(5) of (5)

JOHN'S FINAL RESPONSE - VERY COOL VISION

Chris,
I have no problem with you reprinting our conversation. Yes a link to the kickstarter page would be great once we start it off. Lunch in September would be good, if I am in town. Lots of different projects going on.

I would like to respond to this one "Arctics and Antarctics for instance) during our lifetimes and there's no technologies available for stopping it. "
Here I disagree. Why? Because I do believe we have technologies that can address this right now which have a great incentive for people to adopt.

For the last 6 months we have been working with GGS, Global Green Systems, of the Philippines to address 24 hour on demand solar power in the Philippines and an alternative to fossil fuels. The Asian Development Bank has already approved 100,000 e-trikes. Through a company in Malaysia, we are able to obtain a 1 kW fuel cell system for $3500 (preliminary) and $2000 in production. This puts us in with an H-trike for less then $10,000 USD which will compete directly against gasoline motorcycle trikes at less then 1/2 the operational costs. Essentially $2.00 per day instead of $5.00 per day for someone who only makes about $15 per day.

We have the technology for converting biowaste into hydrogen and CO2 while delivering clean water. The excess CO2 can be used to grow algae for fish food or combined with hydrogen and nitrogen to produce urea (fertilizer) for use in rice fields and other applications at costs which are directly competitive with the retail price of gasoline and diesel.

There is over a 25 million tricycle market in SE Asia, with another 15 million plus in India let alone China, Taiwan and Japan. After penetration into this market, I can see expansion into Africa, Island Nations, Central and South America, Mexico, USA and Europe.

Oil has locked itself into a high priced drilling operations. Prices below $70 per barrel are just not economically feasible. Gas and diesel prices run $5 to $10 in many parts of the world while we are looking at ~ $3.00 per kg of hydrogen that can be produced anywhere there is contaminated water, chemical waste or biowaste.

It is a difficult endeavor, but one that could realistically change our world in less then 10 years. If we combine this with a push for public transportation funded by private and public means in the USA, we could essentially reduce air pollutants within a few years by significant levels.

All of this requires eco-investments, but investments with a real purpose and long term effect.
My best regards,
John