sunday night cynicism

No. I retract that headline. With some to-be-devised appropriately optimistic hand gestures, and jowls flapping wildly in denial, I must insist tonight: “I am not a cynic.”

Skeptical (and proud of it). Jaded? a tad. Tired? Usually. But there is something working in people that gives me cause to pause and put in check my easier, less-charitable impressions of my not-always-kind fellow kind.

Hey, over Sarah Palin’s worst, the Beluga whales of Cook’s Inlet now have federal protection. In and of itself, it’s enough to clear away the clouds of pessimism.

Sure Maryland state police were shadowing climate activists for over a year and had even scratched their names onto a list of suspected terrorists. But, hey, Gore did call for civil disobedience in defense of the planet, didn’t he? Forgive the police powers for misunderstanding the difference between non-violent dissent and armed revolt. Don’t rock the boat, tommygun the boat, baby?

Emily Gertz spoke with the head of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network last week and asked how his name got on the terror list, to which Mike Tidwell replies:

They won’t tell me.

[One possibility is that] in November of 2004, I did a peaceful civil disobedience action at a coal-fired power plant in Dickerson, Maryland.  I was peacefully arrested after sitting in middle of street, at the entrance to the power plant, with five other people, who included a farmer and a rabbi.  We were all peacefully arrested.

I went before a judge two months later and pled guilty to two misdemeanors: disorderly conduct and trespassing.  In his decision, the judge called us “exemplary citizens for standing up for your principles.”

I did another act of civil disobedience in October of 2006.  So both my actions fell outside of the time period that the Maryland State Police says it was spying.  Nothing adds up.

Oh, he also ventures some thoughts on the new law-and-order Maryland Guv. Sometimes the simplest answers…

So, yeah. Efforts to enfeeble the Endangered Species Act, expand mountaintop removal in coal country (which I faithfully blogged last week), and a minor federal lapse of reason spun out of $4 gasoline continue. Still I’m keeping my chin up.

Kate Shepard writes at Grist.org how summer fuel prices and a protracted push by Big Oil finally led to the “passive” failure of October 1, when Congress allowed the long-standing ban on drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf to expire.

It’s an interesting read with a predictable, though earnest entreaty for those who oppose the measure to make Big Noise early into the new president’s term.

“Congress will revisit the OCS issue in March with a new president,” Drew Hammill, spokesperson for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), told Grist. March is when the continuing resolution that’s currently funding the government is set to expire.

“Democrats know that the Republican ‘drill only’ policy will not make our country energy independent,” Hammill said. “The speaker will continue to promote comprehensive energy policies that create green jobs, protect our environment, and make our nation more secure.”

But if environmental champions in the House and Senate are to press aggressively for a renewal of the ban or for other offshore protections, they’ll need to hear stronger support from greens, congressional insiders say. “Congress is going to need a push come March,” said one Democratic aide. “Democrats have lots of great ideas, but they weren’t being heard among the ‘drill here, drill now,’ ‘drill, baby, drill.'”

So, the word is: keep the pressure on post-election celebration/mourning.

Here in San Antonio, our mayor is looking to close his city-governance experience with the release of a major energy efficiency plan for the city that will pick apart savings potential in transportation and housing stock. Most exciting of all is the buzz about a potential multi billion-dollar capital fund to kick off major city efficiency fits, “such as the retrofitting of inner-city residential areas with energy saving features.”

Others are telling us what comes from these taskforces now meeting will set San Antonio at the fore when it comes to municipal efficiency efforts around the country. Yes, I hear the joke, “How do you make God laugh? Tell him your plans.” And, yes, international economic slumpage could put a damper on a whole lot of things (like our carbon emissions? ahem!). Still, there are those that see the workings of a Green New Deal pulling us through the piling-up recession/depression.

More immediately, there is the imminent unveiling of a $380,000 tree canopy study at two public meetings this week.

From Citizens Tree Coalition, we read:

A recently completed Urban Ecosystem Analysis for San Antonio will be discussed at 2 public meetings next week. Comments and input from these meetings will be sent to the study’s consultant for possible inclusion in the final report.

Public meetings on Urban Ecosystem Analysis
First meeting
DATE: Monday, October 27, 2008
TIME: 10:00 am to noon
PLACE: Cliff Morton Development & Business Services Center; 1901 S. Alamo; Training Room B

Second meeting
DATE: Thursday, October 30, 2008
TIME: 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm
PLACE: Cliff Morton Development & Business Services Center; 1901 S. Alamo; Training Room B

In 2007, the City of San Antonio awarded a $379K contract for an analysis of tree canopy over its metropolitan area. This study measured current levels of tree canopy cover and compared them to historical levels to gauge the rate of tree loss.

In addition, the analysis recommends specific levels of tree cover for our city and aquifer recharge zone. American Forests, a non-profit citizens conservation organization, local land development engineers Pape-Dawson Engineers, and Sanborn Map Company teamed to perform the work.

Besides measuring city-wide tree loss, environmental benefits such as air pollution removal, water contamination prevention, and energy savings were calculated. Part of the impetus for the new study came from developers, who complained that the 35% tree canopy cover goal recommended in a 2003 UEA was too high.

Ah, a living, breathing city? A green-collar workforce easing unemployment coupled with a worldwide renewables explosion easing our impact on global climate systems (and consequently ourselves and a whole ark-load of fellow thinking, feeling creatures)?

Ah ask yew (rhetorically, thank you): If not now, when?

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4 responses to “sunday night cynicism

  1. These are difficult times, for sure. I’m giddy/tense/sleepless about the election…Just need it to be over and done with so I can concentrate on everything else going on in the world. Because regardless of what happens on Nov 4, there is a hella mess to clean up after Bush & Co. So, what did I do last night to calm myself down? Watched this video at least three times:

    http://view.break.com/592648

    Like

  2. Oh, it’s on, baby!

    Who do you think the surprise challenger might be? Think Andy Revkin has some moves on him?

    I’m totally going to watch me some Starsky and Hutch tonight:

    Like

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