RE-COMMENCEMENT

Nicholas Altenbernd: “I got the needed minutes free this morning to read the President’s commencement address you posted. Wow. How good it is to hear and read oratory like this again!”

And while I have you reading the words of one Nobel Peace Prize laureate, why not read the words of another . . .

AL GORE: “WHY THE OIL SPILL COULD CHANGE EVERYTHING”

Here, in The New Republic. Little by little, we are destroying our habitat. Worth getting up to speed on this?

All the more reason to check out . . .

HOME DEPOT LIGHTBULBS

Here . . .

Competition for the U.S. light bulb market intensified Monday as Home Depot said it’s begun selling a “breakthrough” LED, only a month after General Electric and Cree announced similar products.

As the venerable incandescent begins its Congress-mandated phaseout in 2012, the once staid light bulb sector is seeing a frenzy of new, more efficient CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps), halogens and LEDs (light emitting diodes.)

Home Depot says the new 9-watt, $20 ECOSMART LED bulb, made in the United States, uses about 80% less energy than a 40 watt incandescent and contains no mercury as do most CFLs. It’s also recyclable and dimmable.

If installed in a newborn’s room today, “it will probably not have to be replaced until the child is ready to graduate college,” says Home Depot’s Jorge Fernandez in the announcement, which adds that the bulb could save $155 in energy costs over its life and pay for itself in less than two years.

☞ I haven’t tried these yet. Buy one and let us know what you think.

I REPEAT: “WHY THE OIL SPILL COULD CHANGE EVERYTHING”

Did you know that the devastating flood in Nashville last month was described as a “1000 year rain event?” Seriously: Isn’t this worth a click?

In part:

. . . One important difference between the oil spill and the CO2 spill [90 million tons a day, day in and day out] is that petroleum is visible on the surface of the sea and carries a distinctive odor now filling the nostrils of people on shore. Carbon dioxide, on the other hand, is invisible, odorless, tasteless, and has no price tag. It is all too easily put “out of sight and out of mind.” . . . And because the length of time between causes and consequences is longer than we are used to dealing with, we are vulnerable to the illusion that we have the luxury of time before we begin to respond.

. . . As a result, we are capable – through inaction – of making truly disastrous consequences inevitable long before the worst impacts are manifested. Our perception of the dangers of the climate crisis therefore relies on our ability to understand and trust the conclusions reached by the most elaborate and impressive scientific assessment in the history of our civilization.

. . . During the last 22 years, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has produced four massive studies warning the world of the looming catastrophe that is being caused by the massive dumping of global-warming pollution into the atmosphere. Unfortunately, this process has been vulnerable to disruption and paralysis by a cynical and lavishly funded disinformation campaign.

. . . The largest carbon polluters have, for the last 17 years, sought to manipulate public opinion with a massive and continuing propaganda campaign, using TV advertisements and all other forms of mass persuasion. It is a game plan spelled out in one of their internal documents, which was leaked to an enterprising reporter, that stated: “reposition global warming as theory rather than fact.” In other words, they have mimicked the strategy pioneered by the tobacco industry, which undermined the scientific consensus linking the smoking of cigarettes with diseases of the lung and heart – successfully delaying appropriate health measures for almost 40 years after the landmark surgeon general’s report of 1964.

Meanwhile, many other countries – including China – have developed national strategies for leading the historic shift from oil and coal to renewable forms of energy, higher levels of efficiency, smart grids and fast trains, sustainable agriculture and forestry.

Here in the United States, the House of Representatives has passed a meaningful plan to move America in the same direction and reestablish our capacity to provide leadership in the world community on the most important issue facing the world today. The Senate, however, has struggled for the last 17 months to find enough votes to take up its own version of the same legislative plan. The unpleasant reality now spilling onto the shores of the Gulf Coast is creating public outrage and may also be generating a new opportunity to pass legislation, just as the oil spill 20 years ago from the Exxon Valdez created public momentum sufficient to overcome the anti-environment special interests. There is new hope that by the time the gusher from the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico is capped, so will carbon emissions from the burning of oil and coal.

It is understandable that the administration will be focused on the immediate crisis in the Gulf of Mexico. But this is a consciousness-shifting event. It is one of those clarifying moments that brings a rare opportunity to take the longer view. Unless we change our present course soon, the future of human civilization will be in dire jeopardy. Just as we feel a sense of urgency in demanding that this ongoing oil spill be stopped, we should feel an even greater sense of urgency in demanding that the much larger and more dangerous ongoing emissions of global warming pollution must also be stopped to make the world safe from the climate crisis that is building all around us.

Tomorrow: The First of Marc’s 12 Things

 

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