Archive for the Environment Category

Chopped Liver and Paris Hilton

Posted in Environment, The Middle Ground, Tolerance on August 6, 2008 by cheappaper

I never thought I’d hear myself say it and it took only one minute and fifty seconds to happen.  I’ve become an unabashed Paris Hilton fan.  All cheap glamor, shallow videos, bared breasts, and other superficialities are forgiven.

I might have expected it from Lewis Black but not from Paris.  In just 110 seconds, she skewers two presidential candidates, pokes fun at herself, and probably picks up placement payments from Traveler Magazine.  I don’t even care if someone else wrote the video, at least she hires well.

For fans of irony like myself, I am most tickled that the superficial star exposes the superficiality of the so-called differences in the Obama and McCane energy policies.  One is stumping on the short term, the other on the long term.  In truth, no matter who ends up in the White House, real options are going to be severely constrained by global and environmental factors outside the control of both the president and the country.  They both better be trying to figure out how to get divergent interests to collaborate.

So let’s hear it for the chopped liver.  I stand in awe.

If anyone was lucky enough to have missed John McCane’s “celebrity” campaign ad, find it here.

Catch Paris’s reply here.

Why Fuss about the Environment?

Posted in Environment on May 22, 2008 by cheappaper

I keep hearing people fuss about the environment. I can’t figure out what it’s all about. The environment has been around a lot longer than humans. I figure it will be around for a long time after we’re gone.

No. I’m not worried about the environment. I’m worried about me.

I have a theory about this stuff. I call it the “Hammock Theory.” It works like this: assume I’m a lazy guy taking a nap in a hammock. The hammock is a rope hammock. That is, it is one of those hammocks made up of a network of connected strings.

Now also assume that while I’m napping, some rascal comes along and begins to cut the ropes. He doesn’t cut them all at once or all in one place. He cuts one here. He cuts another there.

At first, I’m not going to notice anything. Most of the net is there and as good as if it were all there. As he keep cutting, I may begin to notice a pinch here, a hot spot there, but at worst I may just roll over and keep snoozing.

The problem is, I’m no light weight. Eventually, this guy will cut enough ropes that without warning my weight will be enough to just rip through all the remaining ropes. I will drop to the ground and get hurt.

I don’t know about anyone else but right now I feel like my fat butt is hanging through a big hole in the hammock and if I so much as sneeze, I’m going for a bad ride.

Biodiesel — The Real Flower Power

Posted in Environment on March 16, 2008 by cheappaper

I like to look out the window when I drive. This can slow me down. So it was without surprise when, recently, I was cut off by a careening two-story SUV. It was driven by a young man with his cell phone pressed to his ear. He was gracious enough to take time out of his busy schedule to flip me his middle finger. The last thing I saw of his truck was his bumper sticker, which read “Biodiesel — The Real Flower Power.”

The SUV got me to thinking. How could such a large vehicle, driven so recklessly, be doing anything good for the environment? I don’t know much about science. But my experience with grocery carts leads me to the conclusion that to get heavy things moving you need “uumph.” I’m guessing the same is true with cars. I would also guess that for any specific car, you probably need the same amount of “uumph,” regardless of whether the “uumph” comes from gas, electricity, or some other place.

Later the same day, I read in the New York Times that a bio-fuel plant in Alabama is polluting a nearby river, called the Black Warrior River. It seems that oil and grease is left over after making biodiesel fuel. The substance, which is like salad dressing, is being dumped into the local river. Apparently this is just too much of a good thing and the local fish and other wildlife are falling prey to death by dressing.

Which leads me back to “uumph.” It seems to me that for whatever we do, we’re going to use some kind of “uumph.” “Uumph,” in turn will leave an environmental footprint. So changing the source of the “uumph” doesn’t get rid of the environmental footprint, it just leaves the footprint in a different place. It is sort of like trying to decide whether you want to track mud in the front door or in the back door.

So I suspect the SUV driver is no greener for burning biodiesel. He is still using the same amount of “uumph.” Instead of sucking oil out of a pipe in Alaska, however, the driver’s choice of “uumph” is killing fish in Alabama.

I thought this was a real original thought. Just to check myself, I Googled it. Son of a gun. Wouldn’t you know. Someone thought up the same thing almost a generation ago.

Just goes to show. No thing in this world like an original idea.

Gasoline, the clean alternative.

Posted in Environment on March 7, 2008 by cheappaper

Catching up on reading after vacation. Seems like the rush to ethanol and other biofuels is increasing, rather than decreasing, our carbon footprint. This leads me to my first law of environmental protection:

Anything that is good for the environment, when done by enough people, will be bad for the environment.

Gasoline, now the bad-boy of global warming, was once the clean alternative. Remember what came before that? Railroads. And railroads used to burn lots of things down. (Apparently they continue to do so).

So if I’ve got this figured out, now we cut (and sometimes burn) our forests in order to plant corn so we can drive our cars on clean fuel.