Sunday, November 25, 2007

Feeling lonely yet, George?

Australian prime minister Howard was a stalwart supporter of the Bush policies on Iraq and non-policies on global warming. In recent national elections, the opposition party, led by Kevin Rudd, ran on a platform of combatting global warming and bringing the Aussie troops home - and won overwhelmingly. The US is now the only major industrial nation to support the war and hide its head on global warming. It’s lonely at the top. Or is it the bottom?

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’ve been getting Google Alerts on “Global Warming” and “Climate Change”, and the country with by far the highest level of media coverage on this issue has been Australia (and it all started with a visit by Al Gore a year ago September). The coverage has been uniformly against the government’s policy, and was notable for its apparent lack of need to appear balanced by printing the nonsensical perorations of the nay-sayers...kudos to them, I say.

The U.S. continues to become more and more isolated (despite the new French president’s somewhat wierd friendliness) under the Bush regime. And, closer to home, Bush’s inner circle has all but completely left the house. Meaning that Bush, who relies almost exclusively on trusted confidants for what little input he will suffer, is becoming more and more isolated domestically as well.

Scary thought.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


The Carbon Monitoring for Action (CARMA) website was launched yesterday, and provides best-available information on carbon emissions from your local power plant all the way up to a planetary overview. The site is easy to navigate, results are graphically presented and tied to Google Maps, and the whole thing works pretty well (I did find a few minor glitches, but it was just launched yesterday....).

Power plants are rated both by total carbon emissions and by “Intensity” - a measure of carbon produced for a given level of energy production (lower intensity is better). In addition to plant-related statistics, you can investigate carbon emission production by company and by geography.

Not sure where you get your energy from? No problem - just type your zip code into the “Start Here!” search box, and the web site will tell you who your provider is, with a hot link to more detailed information.

For example, my energy provider is Northern States Power Company (MN), and I discovered that it has 16 power plants, 10 of which operate “in the red” (meaning, in this case, high intensity ratings), and 3 of which are coded “green” (I’m betting, based on their location, that they’re hydroelectric plants - the site currently doesn’t tell you how the plant you’re looking at generates its power). As an added perk, it will tell you which Senators and House member represent the district that power plant is in, should, for example, you want to call their attention to that plant’s performance.

I’m a big believer that if good information gets in the hands of the people, good things will start to happen. In the end, we’re pretty bright, and always way ahead of the curve compared to our fearful leaders.