Monday, March 31, 2014

Flotsam, Jetsam and Human Garbage
Human garbage, as we know, is everywhere in the ocean and very easy to confuse with "real wreckage"*. When I was teaching in SE Alaska in 1970-2 (Prudhoe Bay, Alyeska Pipeline, post earthquake), I used to go to the outside, stone-pebble shore.

Even then, with half today's population and a tenth the plastic-capacity, at the high tide line on the Pacific coast of Alaska was
a foot-wide trail of cigarette butts, tampons, the occasional Barbie doll part and plastic thingies amongst the natural driftwood, skeletal remains and "real wreckage".

First time I saw it, I quit smoking on the spot. Now, we know, almost habitable, human-created continents of garbage float in the Pacific. In fact, there are cute proposals afoot to inhabit and commercially re-cycle them! Enough, already!

Perhaps we need a broadcast flotsam tax. Couldn't the media figure out a way to make helpless millions of victims of war** as visible as 200 crash victims who put themselves at known risk when they fly on a jet ... or travel in a car ... anyway?

*Roundtablers were discussing flight 370 -- for the 16th? time.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Unions, Green and $green don't often play well together.

[comment at WAMC Vox Pop ... Unions]
In the early 70's, the Int'l Typographical Union was just starting to lose momentum because of technology ... since then the printing industry has changed enormously. When I worked in NY, the ITU had 170,000 members. When it merged with the CWA in 1986 it had 16,000. Improving productivity and lowering cost in any manufacturing or industrial process -- as we all encourage -- means changing the workforce.

Energy generation using nuclear and fossil fuels not only CAN be eliminated, it MUST be eliminated to reduce life threatening production of greenhouse gas (not to mention local pollution and waste). All the associated "externalities":  drillers, miners, refiners, loaders, drivers, machinists and production workers -- not enough of whom are union-- need to "transition" along with the families and communities their wages/taxes support.

Detroit, Pittsburgh, Akron and many rust-belt industries "went south", both literally and figuratively because of labor costs and technology advances. Even after five decades, their communities have barely even begun recovery.

In addition to roof-top and parking lot solar, geothermal electricity generation plants occupying the same footprint as fossil fuel plants could eliminate green house gas from regional electricity generation -- all geothermal energy comes from directly below the plant and there are very few "externalities". Geo is a key technology to develop for use everywhere, forever but is being opposed by the fossil fuel commodities trading and industrial complex. They are just beginning to recruit union organizers as well.

What's the point? Union, green and $green don't play well together.

Saturday, March 15, 2014


Vote / Non-voters
Plan of Action
Jobs for Unemployed in lieu of unemployment payments

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Wrong Bottle

Letter didn't make it to publication:

A Star in a Bottle: "An audacious plan to create a new energy source could save the planet from catastrophe. But time is running out."

Why "create a new energy source" when all the carbon-free energy we could ever use is already in a bottle right beneath our feet? Instead of donating $40 billion every year to the fossil fuel industrial complex, how about investing in the enormous store of heat less than 10 miles from anywhere on Earth -- straight down?

In a couple of decades, that investment in geothermal heat could "generate power with no carbon, virtually no pollution, and" no radioactive waste. It would also eliminate the significant and forgotten environmental impacts of fossil fuel and nuclear power externalities -- mine, refine, store, transport, burn, waste disposal.

Geothermal power generation has been around for a century.  Deep geothermal generates three percent of our electricity now. Let's focus on how to do it better, anywhere -- less expensively, less exotically and with much less risk than with fusion. Academic studies by the Department of Energy and engineering sch and actual practice have validated the promise of geothermal many times over.

Re: Raffi Khatchadourian, "A Star in a Bottle", New Yorker Magazine, May 3, 2014

see also

Monday, March 3, 2014

Geologists are Sooo Boring!

Project Apollo provided much more than a few trips to the moon. It inspired extraordinary technological innovation and economic development.

A similar effort dedicated and focused finance for research, engineering and development, geothermal energy can provide virtually all grid-based electricity less expensively and green-house-gas-free, eliminate environmental impacts of fossil fuel "externalities" AND generate enormous technological and engineering spin-offs. To bring that message directly to a broad "civilian" audience -- voters, legislators and investors -- I am working on a book explaining and demonstrating the extraordinary benefits of this largely misunderstood and dismissed resource.

Its intent is to communicate the ignored, unrecognized -- and often suppressed -- benefits of generating electricity from deep geothermal energy directly to those who can make it happen. It is based on excellent scientific, engineering, research and financial analytics from the Geothermal Energy Association, DOEnergy, Cornell, Stanford, MIT and other professional geological and engineering resources.

I would be honored to present work on this project and geothermal energy in general or to invite others more directly articulate.

Explanatarium, WNYC Radio Comment