Monthly Archives: April 2011

How Many Planets


It’s Earth Day!

What can you pledge for the planet? Take shorter showers, use less plastic, buy local, reduce, reuse, recycle. Every little thing you do makes a big difference.

The Global Footprint Network came up with this nifty quiz: What’s your impact? See how many planets it would take to support your lifestyle.

Do something green today. And every day.

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Law of Mother Earth

John Vidal reports from La Paz where Bolivians are living with the effects of climate change every day. Their president has called for an urgent 50% cut in emissions – action that is essential for the country’s survival.

President Evo Morales: “The budget of the United States is $687 billion for defence. And for climate change, to save life, to save humanity, they only put up $10 billion. This is shameful.”

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Bolivia enshrines natural world’s rights with equal status for Mother Earth


by John Vidal

Bolivia is set to pass the world’s first laws granting all nature equal rights to humans. The Law of Mother Earth, now agreed by politicians and grassroots social groups, redefines the country’s rich mineral deposits as “blessings” and is expected to lead to radical new conservation and social measures to reduce pollution and control industry.

The country, which has been pilloried by the US and Britain in the UN climate talks for demanding steep carbon emission cuts, will establish 11 new rights for nature. They include: the right to life and to exist; the right to continue vital cycles and processes free from human alteration; the right to pure water and clean air; the right to balance; the right not to be polluted; and the right to not have cellular structure modified or genetically altered.

Controversially, it will also enshrine the right of nature “to not be affected by mega-infrastructure and development projects that affect the balance of ecosystems and the local inhabitant communities”.

“It makes world history. Earth is the mother of all”, said Vice-President Alvaro García Linera. “It establishes a new relationship between man and nature, the harmony of which must be preserved as a guarantee of its regeneration.”

The law, which is part of a complete restructuring of the Bolivian legal system following a change of constitution in 2009, has been heavily influenced by a resurgent indigenous Andean spiritual world view which places the environment and the earth deity known as the Pachamama at the centre of all life. Humans are considered equal to all other entities.

But the abstract new laws are not expected to stop industry in its tracks. While it is not clear yet what actual protection the new rights will give in court to bugs, insects and ecosystems, the government is expected to establish a ministry of mother earth and to appoint an ombudsman. It is also committed to giving communities new legal powers to monitor and control polluting industries.

Bolivia has long suffered from serious environmental problems from the mining of tin, silver, gold and other raw materials. “Existing laws are not strong enough,” said Undarico Pinto, leader of the 3.5m-strong Confederación Sindical Única de Trabajadores Campesinos de Bolivia, the biggest social movement, who helped draft the law. “It will make industry more transparent. It will allow people to regulate industry at national, regional and local levels.”

Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca said Bolivia’s traditional indigenous respect for the Pachamama was vital to prevent climate change. “Our grandparents taught us that we belong to a big family of plants and animals. We believe that everything in the planet forms part of a big family. We indigenous people can contribute to solving the energy, climate, food and financial crises with our values,” he said.

Little opposition is expected to the law being passed because President Evo Morales’s ruling party, the Movement Towards Socialism, enjoys a comfortable majority in both houses of parliament.

However, the government must tread a fine line between increased regulation of companies and giving way to the powerful social movements who have pressed for the law. Bolivia earns $500m (£305m) a year from mining companies which provides nearly one third of the country’s foreign currency.

In the indigenous philosophy, the Pachamama is a living being.

The draft of the new law states: “She is sacred, fertile and the source of life that feeds and cares for all living beings in her womb. She is in permanent balance, harmony and communication with the cosmos. She is comprised of all ecosystems and living beings, and their self-organisation.”

Ecuador, which also has powerful indigenous groups, has changed its constitution to give nature “the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions and its processes in evolution”. However, the abstract rights have not led to new laws or stopped oil companies from destroying some of the most biologically rich areas of the Amazon.

COPING WITH CLIMATE CHANGE

Bolivia is struggling to cope with rising temperatures, melting glaciers and more extreme weather events including more frequent floods, droughts, frosts and mudslides.

Research by glaciologist Edson Ramirez of San Andres University in the capital city, La Paz, suggests temperatures have been rising steadily for 60 years and started to accelerate in 1979. They are now on course to rise a further 3.5-4C over the next 100 years. This would turn much of Bolivia into a desert.

Most glaciers below 5,000m are expected to disappear completely within 20 years, leaving Bolivia with a much smaller ice cap. Scientists say this will lead to a crisis in farming and water shortages in cities such as La Paz and El Alto.

Evo Morales, Latin America’s first indigenous president, has become an outspoken critic in the UN of industrialised countries which are not prepared to hold temperatures to a 1C rise.

The Guardian / Environment / Published: April 10, 2011

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Gasland

 

This doesn’t just break my heart. This terrifies me. This affects all of us. Our next war will be over water. It baffles me how people can truly believe money is the bottom line. Can they afford a new Earth and a clean conscience?

We are the only ones who can stop us. Take action.
Learn more from The New York Times exposé Drilling Down.

 

Hydraulic Fracturing FAQs

How does hydraulic fracturing work?

Hydraulic fracturing or fracking is a means of natural gas extraction employed in deep natural gas well drilling. Once a well is drilled, millions of gallons of water, sand and proprietary chemicals are injected, under high pressure, into a well. The pressure fractures the shale and props open fissures that enable natural gas to flow more freely out of the well.

What is horizontal hydraulic fracturing?

Horizontal hydrofracking is a means of tapping shale deposits containing natural gas that were previously inaccessible by conventional drilling. Vertical hydrofracking is used to extend the life of an existing well once its productivity starts to run out, sort of a last resort. Horizontal fracking differs in that it uses a mixture of 596 chemicals, many of them proprietary, and millions of gallons of water per frack. This water then becomes contaminated and must be cleaned and disposed of.

What is the Halliburton Loophole?

In 2005, the Bush/ Cheney Energy Bill exempted natural gas drilling from the Safe Drinking Water Act. It exempts companies from disclosing the chemicals used during hydraulic fracturing. Essentially, the provision took the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) off the job. It is now commonly referred to as the Halliburton Loophole.

What is the Safe Drinking Water Act?

In 1974, the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) was passed by Congress to ensure clean drinking water free from both natural and man-made contaminates.

What is the FRAC Act?

The FRAC Act (Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness to Chemical Act) is a House bill intended to repeal the Halliburton Loophole and to require the natural gas industry to disclose the chemicals they use.

How deep do natural gas wells go?

The average well is up to 8,000 feet deep. The depth of drinking water aquifers is about 1,000 feet. The problems typically stem from poor cement well casings that leak natural gas as well as fracking fluid into water wells.

How much water is used during the fracking process?

Generally 1-8 million gallons of water may be used to frack a well. A well may be fracked up to 18 times.

What fluids are used in the fracking process?

For each frack, 80-300 tons of chemicals may be used. Presently, the natural gas industry does not have to disclose the chemicals used, but scientists have identified volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene.

In what form does the natural gas come out of the well?

The gas comes up wet in produced water and has to be separated from the wastewater on the surface. Only 30-50% of the water is typically recovered from a well. This wastewater can be highly toxic.

What is done with the wastewater?

Evaporators evaporate off VOCs and condensate tanks steam off VOCs, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The wastewater is then trucked to water treatment facilities.

What is a well’s potential to cause air pollution?

As the VOCs are evaporated and come into contact with diesel exhaust from trucks and generators at the well site, ground level ozone is produced. Ozone plumes can travel up to 250 miles.

 

Yikes.

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Quote of the Day

One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating. -Luciano Pavarotti

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Va La

This little vineyard of family farmed wines in Avondale, PA is brilliant. A little bit of everything local (from dips to wood fired pizza, olive oils and chocolate wine truffles, and of course, wine), delicious (all of the above), and beautiful.

A little slice of perfection // 8822 Gap Newport Pike

As the name beckons, seriously, go there.

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One Day Without Shoes

Today is the day! Barefoot is the way to be. But that should be a choice.

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The Johnny Cash Project

[It links to YouTube. Music video starts at 2:47.]

The Johnny Cash Project is a global collective art project, and we would love for you to participate. Through this website, we invite you to share your vision of Johnny Cash, as he lives on in your mind’s eye. Working with a single image as a template, and using a custom drawing tool, you’ll create a unique and personal portrait of Johnny. Your work will then be combined with art from participants around the world, and integrated into a collective whole: a music video for “Ain’t No Grave”, rising from a sea of one-of-a-kind portraits.

Strung together and played in sequence over the song, the portraits will create a moving, ever evolving homage to this beloved musical icon.  What’s more, as new people discover and contribute to the project, this living portrait will continue to transform and grow, so it’s virtually never the same video twice.

Ain’t No Grave is Johnny’s final studio recording. The album and its title track deal heavily with themes of mortality, resurrection, and everlasting life. The Johnny Cash Project pays tribute to these themes. Through the love and contributions of the people around the world that Johnny has touched so deeply, he appears once again before us.

The Johnny Cash Project is a visual testament to how the Man in Black lives on – not just through his vast musical legacy, but in the hearts and minds of all of us around the world he has touched with his talent, his passion, and his indomitable spirit. It is this spirit that is the lifeblood of The Johnny Cash Project. Thank you for helping Johnny’s spirit soar once more. God bless.

-Chris Milk

Be a part of something beautiful.
Pick a frame, draw a frame, contribute.

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