Friday, November 30, 2007

Global Climate Campaign

December 8 has been declared a day of action for a Global Climate Campaign. This was initially sponsored by the Climate Change Coalition. This coincides with the Dec. 4-9 meeting of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in Bali. (Check the countdown to Bali on the GP Canada web site.)

After a thorough discuss last night, the EcoAction Committee of the Green Party decided to sign on to this effort. This is just the first step that the EcoAction Commitee will be taking. Accordingly, I posted the following to their site.

The EcoAction Committee of the Green Part of the United States will promote the following goals from their 2006 Earth Day Statement

  • We, as individuals must make profound changes in our own lifestyles, demonstrating to elected officials our own commitment to and expectation of change in local, regional, national and global environmental policy;
  • We must phase out all subsidies and tax breaks to fossil and nuclear energy industries;
  • We must move to full cost pricing starting with carbon taxes;
  • We must provide incentives, legislation, and institutional reforms to bring renewable energy technologies on line and readily available to the consumer;
  • We must encourage the export and expansion of these technologies into overseas markets to competitively displace fossil and nuclear power, and large-scale hydroelectric projects;
  • We must research and implement interim, as well as long term offsets, such as reforestation, accompanied by measurable cutbacks in emissions;
  • We must reject biomass incineration and inefficient biofuels production as unnecessary, insufficient, polluting, damaging to ecosystems and a waste of energy;
  • We reject the concept of "clean coal";
  • We must put an absolute limit on CO2 emissions Nationally and work to facilitate a Worldwide CAP. This limit should be based on the amount we need to cut fossil fuel usage in order to aid in reversing the rise in average global temperatures.
  • We must base our cutbacks in fossil fuel usage on this limit; this means stabilization as quickly as possible and an 80% cutback to be reached within ten years.

A Farm Bill Without Subsidies

Working with Jill Bussiere of the Wisconsin Green Party, I have published an OpEd regarding Farm Subsidies and our do-nothing congress.

You can read it here:

I would ask that you read the OpEd and then let your Congress Critters understand that we need solutions that work in the 21st Century, not a continuation of the outmoded, ineffectual partisan gamesmanship that they are currently handing out.

If you want a really weird opinion on Farm Subsidies, check out the reply to this question at the CNN -> YouTube Republican Debate. Watch Romney dance.

A Debate: Do Greens Need a 'People of Color' Caucus?

EDITOR'S NOTE: My op-ed below was originally published in the Winter/Spring 2008 edition of Green Focus, the newspaper of the Green Party of California. Breaking the Democrat-Republican monopoly on American politics requires the destruction of big city Democratic Party Machines to which many of us have emotional attachments. It's important for Greens to free our minds from the tyranny of Democrat-Republican old politics about race and ethnicity. Thus, we must dare to consider if we need a "People of Color Caucus" or any "Identity Politics" caucuses at all. 

I assumed many would disagree vigorously and invited Greens to submit op-eds to the editor of the paper. There were only a few comments and nobody submitted a fill-blown op-ed. Amazing how this "Identity Politics" taken as gospel on the American Left can be so apparently indefensible. 

Alex Walker
Los Angeles Greens
Do Greens Need a 'People of Color' Caucus?
No - Let's Be The Change We Want to See
by Alex Walker

"Be the change that you want to see in the world." -- Mohandas Gandhi

Let's have an "Urban Policy Caucus" on urban sustainability, the "Drug War," large school systems, immigration, etc. But please, no caucuses based on skin color. That's a throwback to the 1960s when "Leaders" pleaded for entry into segregated "smoke filled rooms" of Democratic Party bosses and when the Republican "Party of Lincoln" became the "White Man's Party" of die-hard segregationists.

Americans revolted in the name of liberty and sanctioned slavery. The French killed King Louis and crowned Emperor Napoleon. The Russians killed Czar Nicholas in the name of socialism and consolidated his empire under a corporate state. I have great personal respect for Greens organizing these caucus, but I do not want Greens imitating race-obsessed Democrats and Republicans.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Million Trees in LA?

I don't live in Los Angeles. The closest that I got was the Univ. of Redlands. Still, I have had enough pleasant association with the City of the Angels to refrain from referring to is a "La La Land." That is, until now.

I have just become aware of Mayor Villaraigosa's Million Trees LA plan, announced in May, 2006. Maybe that is also a good thing, because it is a bone headed idea, one of those things that sounds good when someone proposes it, gets a lot of attention due to the big numbers of the grand vision, and makes very little sense when one looks at what it really means.

In the official announcement of the project, Mayor Villaraigosa is quoted as saying:
The trees will provide shade and save on energy costs, clean the air and help reduce the greenhouse gases that cause global warming, capture polluted urban runoff, improve water quality, and add beauty to our neighborhoods
Now, some of that is true. But the total positive consequences are so trivial and the long term negative consequences are potentially devastating to the state.

Let me give a good example: Home Depot announced that it was going to plant 300,000 trees in various cities across the US to absorb CO2 and reduce the impact of global warming. According to the non-profit Architecture 2030, "The CO2 emissions from only one medium-sized (500 MW) coal-fired power plant, in just 10 days of operation, will negate this entire effort." By extrapolation if LA were to plant One Million trees, it would take 34 days of operation to negate the effect of those Million Trees. So far, that aspect of the plan seem to be woefully small.

Mayor Villaraigosa warns us about the need to provide "provide long-term stewardship of one million trees, planted all over the city with a focus on areas that need it most."

LA is nearly a desert. At best, you could consider it's climate as Mediterranean. It is now in the middle of a drought with voluntary water cut backs and, given that this year appears to be equally dry, there is not short term supply of water for those trees. In fact, the best scientific information about our future in a warmer world indicates that the rainfall averages for these two years may be considered normal in the next century. So, again, the question is one of where the water for those trees is going to come from. Oh, yeah, maybe the dwindling show pack in the Sierras where they turn millions of gallons of water a day into man made snow for the ski slopes.

I just wish, for once, that politicians would provide some thoughtful leadership rather than splashy big project backed with a lot of publicity and which provide little or no benefit.

In 1902, the Los Angeles Board of Water Commissioners reported that "we must not expect this City can hop to reach a low per capita consumption, as measured by that of Eastern cities(and it is not desirable that she should, a bountiful supply of water being necessary to the maintenance of the beauty for which she is famous."

In his 1990 book, Miracle Dreams, Kevin Starr referred to Los Angeles as "the most exquisite invented garden in history."

It looks like the good Mayor is playing a part in the same miracle play, the miracle of abundant water just there for that taking. If this is his thinking, then he truly lives in La La Land.

In contrast to Mayor Villaraigosa's cloudy vision, the LA County Green Party has just endorse the Sustainability Principle defined by the California Water Impact Network. I have written about this before. Yo can read them here. Now, maybe the LA Greens are the ones living in the real world.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Environmental Impact ... of Catalogs?

The facts about the environmental impact of all the little things we take for granted never ceases to amaze me. As we enter the holiday season, see for example, the unbelievable impact of using paper catalogs for shopping

Paper use has a huge impact on the environment – and catalog printing and mailing is a huge part of that. Each year, 19 billion catalogs are mailed to American consumers. This uses 53 million trees (between 300,000 and 500,000 acres of land cleared or thinned) and comprises 7.2 billion pounds of paper. Processing and transporting this paper results in 5.2 billion pounds of carbon dioxide emissions which equals the annual emissions of two million cars. It also requires 53 billion gallons of fresh water.


National Wildlife Federation and National Resources Defense Council and others have started a new on-line consumer service called Catalog Choice. It gives people the choice of which catalogs they will receive in the mail (and which ones they wish to stop).

Check it out at:

Friday, November 23, 2007

Manifest Conspiracy

When I opened my mail this morning, I was greeted with an email from a Green Party friend that is worth a comment. It was a teaser type introduction to a speculative commentary on the early days of the Iraq War.
Just who is this mystery man and why
has the traditional and alternative news
media given him such a pass?

Is it just a coincidence that he used to work
for Henry Kissinger?
The mystery man was Paul Bremer and the implication of the commentary is that this was all a major conspiracy to bleed this country dry while the captains of industry profited.

I believe this view to be flawed and possibly dangerous in that it does not address changing the real problems that we have as a country and which this party needs to address.

The answer to the question of whether it is "just a coincidence that he used to work for Henry Kissinger?" is a resounding "No." But that is no evidence of a conspiracy.

There is a long, mostly disastrous history of the idea of Manifest Destiny. It formed the intellectual rationale for the exploitation of the West, and went beyond that to provide theoretical justification for the imperialistic expansion of United States during the late 19th Century, some would say for the very fact that the United States of America has a history. The Wikipedia definition of Manifest Destiny makes clear this connection between our destiny and the ideal of Democracy.
Manifest Destiny is a 19th-century belief that the United States had a mission to expand, spreading its form of democracy and freedom.
Michael T. Lubragge, in an often cited essay on the subject, calls special attention to the religious sources of this idea and the connotations of religious language.
To some, the Manifest Destiny Doctrine was based on the idea that America had a divine providence. It had a future that was destined by God to expand its borders, with no limit to area or country. All the traveling and expansion were part of the spirit of Manifest Destiny, a belief that it was God's will that Americans spread over the entire continent, and to control and populate the country as they see fit. Many expansionists conceived God as having the power to sustain and guide human destiny. "It was white man's burden to conquer and christianize the land" (Demkin, Chapter 8). For example, the idea that the Puritan notion of establishing a "city on a hill" was eventually secularized into Manifest Destiny--a sort of materialistic, religious, utopian destiny.
Such language, such a vision was part and parcel of the rhetoric of Ronald Reagan, most clearly in his Farewell Speech.
I've spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don't know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind-swept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace, a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity, and if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That's how I saw it and see it still.
The 19th Century world in which Manifest Destiny defined our goals, was one in which unlimited expansion was possible and the resources of this world were inexhaustible. This was a world in which America could define it's own future without any other consideration. Hopefully, George W. Bush will be our last 19th Century President.

It is against this rather naive world view that Henry Kissinger chose to make fundamental changes in the manner in which American foreign policy was acted out. However, rather than to define a new role for America, he chose to invoke the practices of another 19th Century concept, that of realpolitik. Peter van der Maas defines the foundations of this realpolitik as two ideas:
  • First, "raison d'etat", where the interests of the state justify whatever means are necessary to pursue them. The national interest thus replaced the medieval notion of a universal morality that guided all men and nations.
  • The second key concept is the balance of power an international order in which no nation is dominant. Each nation maintains its independence by aligning itself, or opposing, other nations according to its calculation of the imperatives of power
The number of direct Kissinger proteges (e.g. Rumsfeld supordinate Peter Rodman) or indirect ones (e.g. Condoleezza Rice) spread through the State Department, National Security Council and beltway think tank staffs, neo-conservative or pseudo-progressive, goes far beyond any need for a puppetmaster to be pulling the strings.

The real danger to this country's future comes from the shared world views that are prevalent in Washington. We lack an alternative vision of what this country could be. Maybe the Green Vision is Gaia.

The death of novelist Norman Mailer gave Charile Rose the excuse to put together a reprise of the best of the many interviews Rose had with Mailer. On January 29,2003 Mailer gave the most concise and accurate description of what has happened in Iraq that I have heard. This was several months before the invasion. Maybe it is his insight into the American psyche that made him so prescient and shows conspiracy theory of the Iraq war to be so wrong. (starting about 22 min. into the interview). "I am worried that we are starting something that we can't finish without changing the nature of American Democracy by the time we are done." It played out exactly in that way. We should have listened to Mailer.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Events and need for action

do not take a holiday. While we might kick back, eat a festive dinner and take a leisurely walk that allows us to think that we got rid of a few holiday calories, events continue to unfold, as Dan Bacher reminded me this morning with a press release and sad picture.

The fish in this picture have been stranded by levee repair. Better to let Dan's words tell the story.

Bureau of Reclamation Strands Thousands of Fish on Prospect Island

by Dan Bacher, November 21

I just got back from investigating an impending massive fish kill at Prospect Island in the northern section of the California Delta between Miner Slough and the Sacramento Deepwater Channel. Bob McDaris, owner of Cliff's Marina in Freeport, Bob Boffitt, a KFBK Radio reporter, and another KFBK reporter and I went by boat to the area where the levee is being repaired by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

We slogged through the mud in waders and saw large schools of stripers with their dorsal fins, backs and tails out of the water as they struggled to survive. I saw a dozen dead striped bass, along with one dead bluegill and a couple of dead pike minnows. Of course, we walked through just a tiny fraction of Prospect Island - McDaris estimated that there were thousands of fish stranded in a larger area that he pointed to after we took photos and videos.

The massive stranding of fish came to McDaris' attention when he and a local hay farmer, John Soto, went out prospecting for ducks on the island on Tuesday. Instead of finding ducks they found a fish kill in progress.

"We saw thousands of striped bass, two sturgeon, hundreds of bluegill and two 15 to 18 pound salmon stranded in the remaining water," said McDaris. "We also saw two steelhead and lots of carp. I was amazed by the number of fish that were stranded on the island and I figured that somebody should do something about it."

McDaris contacted Bob Simms, host of the KFBK Outdoor Show, Mark Wilson, striper angler, Matt Weiser of the Sacramento Bee, members of the California Striped Bass Association (CSBA) and this reporter to see what we could do about rescuing the fish. Over 35 people, including CSBA members, met McDaris at Cliff's Marina this morning to investigate this latest fishery disaster and see if they can do anything about it.

Unfortunately, the brush, tules and terrain make it very difficult for anglers to carry fish out in buckets or ice chests to be released into Miner Slough, as CSBA members and DFG staff did several years ago when the water out of flooded Jones Tract was being pumped out. I assisted in that rescue.

While I was there today, I spoke to a DFG warden, Carolyn Djody, who was there to assess the extent of the fish stranded on the island. At that time, she hadn't examined the area where the fish were located.

"We had a call that there were fish dying on the island," she said. "This is a federal project, so the proposal to pump water out was reviewed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It's not our project."

McDaris and other anglers are very concerned about the delta smelt and other endangered and threatened species that may be impacted by further pumping of water off the island without the initiation of some sort of fish rescue.

Jeff McCracken, spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, said the agency, after being alerted by anglers and other about stranded fish, ordered the pumping suspended. "The Bureau and the U.S. Fish and Wildife Service will reevaluate this situation to see if we can salvage the fish," he said. "At issue is whether there are Delta smelt stranded on the island."

However, he noted that probably no decision about this would be made until Monday because of the absence of many personnel over the Thanksiving Holiday weekend.

The levee broke in 1998, flooding the island, and then was repaired. The levee broke again in January 2006 and the Bureau of Reclamation authorized the current repair operation this year.

"After the levee break in 2006, CalFed said to leave the levee like it was and nothing happened," said McCracken. "However, then five boats capsized when entering the levee break. Two of them required Coast Guard assistance. Also, there is a lot of vegetation and trees that created hazards to boats."

Because of the public safety and liaibility issue, the Bureau decided to go ahead with hiring a contractor to repair the levee break and pump the water off the island back into Miner Slough.

"We consulted with the National Marine Fisheries Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service about what to do," he said. "They said that because of all of the trees and brush found on the island, there was no effective way to do fish salvage."

The two fishery agencies gave the Bureau the go ahead to repair the levee, with the stipulation that the contractor pump at the lowest tides so as many fish as possible would be able to move off the island as it drained.

Meanwhile, as we wait for a decision by federal officials about how, when and if the fish will be salvaged, thousands of fish, including an unknown number of endangered delta smelt and other endangered and threatened species, are expected to perish.

I was appalled by witnessing the spectacle of hundreds of striped bass thrashing in their final hours on the surface of the water at Prospect Island. The stripers, because of their size and schooling nature, were the easiest to see in the muddy water.

I wonder how many stranded delta smelt, sturgeon, king salmon, steelhead and other species will die and go belly up as the remaining oxygen in the water is used up. After we witnessed a disaster two weeks ago when the Cosco Busan dumped 58,000 gallons of bunker fuel into San Francisco Bay, it's horrible to see yet another man-made environmental catastrophe take place, courtesy of the federal government.

I urge people concerned about the stranding of thousands of fish on Prospect Island to call or write to the following officials and urge the federal and state governments to do something about saving the fish:

Ron Milligan, Operations Manager
Central Valley Operations Office
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
3310 El Camino Avenue, Suite 300
Sacramento CA 95821
fax: 916-979-2494

Richard B. Rogers, President
California Fish and Game Commission
1416 Ninth Street
Sacramento CA 95814

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814

You can call also call the Bureau of Reclamation, Public Affairs Office, 916-978-5100

Monday, November 19, 2007

Grist Presidential Forum

I think that I learned more from the reactions to the forum than I learned from the candidate's actual comments. It is interesting compare Dave Robert's comments about the three candidates (Kucinich, Clinton, Edwards) to Cathleen Decker's reporting in the LA Times. I will add my own commentary.

To begin with, most media have not yet learned how to discuss Global Warming in terms of the pre-defined narrative of the election campaign. It does not fit neatly into any of the predefined narratives of the campaign, where the general tendency is to treat it like a sporting event with your play by play announcer telling you who is ahead and describing every detail while the color commentator tries to explain what it all means about who will in a couple of months. Treating global warming in that context has not worked to raise public attention, or even candidate attention, as an election issue. CNN's coverage of this event focuses on the issue of why this issue appears to have little traction with the public and quotes Roberts to good effect.

We can easily understand the narrative used by both Roberts and Decker just by looking at their headlines. Roberts is writing for Grist readers, an audience that already believes in the seriousness of Global Warming. He was part of the panel that asked questions and hardly unbiased about the results. His blog entry today was headed "More light, less heat". He is going to explain the candidates and evaluate their answers. Decker is going to follow the campaign narrative. "Democratic candidates buff green credentials" and all it becomes is a tactic to win the vote of a particular interest group.

The Candidates:
Regarding Dennis Kucinich, Roberts finds him to be "relatively light on specifics." In fact, most of Roberts's comments seem to belittle Kucinich as not really understanding what it takes to make all of this work.
The big question about all this, of course, is how a President Kucinich could get such a radical agenda past Congress. His only answer was that he would talk over their heads, directly to the people, and get them so riled that they would, I guess, drag Congress along. I'm not sure where he sees the evidence for this enormous untapped vein of radical progressivism among the American populace, but he seems convinced.
This is rather an important point for Greens to consider. There are many Green Party members who would love for Kucinich to change parties and for all the very reason that Roberts disparages him: the Kucinich appeals to the populist idea that you can make a difference from the bottom up. That does not sit well with power players, especially those who reside on "K" Street.

The LA Times story summarized Kucinich without the overriding commentary.
First came Kucinich, the Ohio congressman and presidential longshot, who touted his modest-size house, efficient car and vegan diet as indicators of his personal parsimoniousness and vowed to guarantee an annual income to untold numbers of Americans.
Both sets of comments made more of Kucinich proposing a "guaranteed annual income" than anything else. Decker seems to like the word play also and "personal parsimoniousness" while accurate turns this into an elitist position, subtly undercutting his point.

Roberts makes two points about Clinton. First, that she has "gravitas" and "is always the most prepared," especially on policy issues. The second is that that sh was waring people that they don't have the broad public support they need.
One of the sobering messages she delivered is that when she mentions energy independence, crowds go nuts. When she mentions global warming, there's silence. "The public isn't there yet." This means, for one thing, that greens need to do a lot more to carry the message out.
Decker repeats the story of Clinton evasiveness and triangulation, easily understood because the media has repeated every mention of this from Obama and Edwards.
Next came Clinton, the New York senator, who offered a stern argument for pragmatism, barked down a heckler and warned the audience that global warming legislation pending in the Senate would be too incremental for their taste -- even as she refused to say whether she would back it.
It tells us little about what Clinton was really trying to do and a lot about how the public perception of this issue really in influenced by the media. I think that the public deserves better from the LA Times.

In discussing Edwards, both Decker and Roberts have the same focus, but continue their different narratives. According to Decker, it was about hammering Hillary.
Last came Edwards, the former senator and former vice presidential nominee, who railed against corruption in government and challenged candidates to "put political calculation aside and actually stand up with a little backbone for what's right." He didn't mention Clinton by name, nor did he need to.
As with all three, Roberts measures a candidate by how easily they moved to becoming specific on given policy points. This was his overall summary of Edwards.
My sense during the Q&A is that while Edwards' top-line proposals are immensely appealing -- efficiency, green jobs, fighting poverty, etc. -- he's either unwilling or unable to go much deeper. In response to specific questions, he would always go lateral, covering broad swathes of ground while staying light on specifics.
Green Party Action:
The Green Party needs to find an effective way to deal with Global Warming as a local issue. We say that we believe in grassroots organizing. If we were really effective at harnessing the grassroots energy that may be there, we could have a major influence. Roberts and all of the other Global Warming pundits are going to focus on the inside the beltway, presidential election, federal governmental policy implications because those are the buttons you are supposed to push to have the largest effect.

The Green Party needs to start pushing local buttons, getting people involved in making those fundamental changes right now in their own communities. Were we to do so, those who have decided to act now would surely make this function in their personal political calculus.

Beyond Protest: when distraction hurts.

The Grist / LCV Presidential Forum on Energy and Climate Change is being touted as a triumph. In some respects, it was. After all, it was the first time that such a forum was held on this particular topic.

It was also an embarrassment. The fact that only three of the Democrats showed up and none of the Republicans bothered, shows that these issues do not figure into the political calculus being calculated by the pundits and consultants that swarm around candidates like yellow jackets on a soda can. You can add the fact that they description of this forum keeps using the word "green" and they never bothered to ask about the Green Party.

But more specific to my Title is the way that this particular presentation was disturbed by a protest. According to Grist's Dave Roberts...
When Clinton came on stage, there was persistent, boorish booing from one part of the crowd. Said boo-er, in the middle of Clinton's remarks, stood up and started shouting about something or other. He was quickly dragged out by the police. Turns out he was a member of the activist group Code Pink, which is trying to end the Iraq war by showing up at events, yelling and screaming and annoying the bejesus out of everyone, discrediting the anti-war movement and progressive activism, and generally engaging in futile acts of moral onanism.
I had to look up "onanism" as I am more accustomed to using Woody Allen words to describe this mode of giving yourself pleasure. But then, I did catch the evening news and there was a recognizable Medea Benjamin handing out literature as Hillary walked in to a San Francisco fund raiser last night. It is obvious that Code Pink has made a decision to hound Hillary for the rest of the campaign. I wonder who they do support, and whether they are walking precincts to convince people to elect that candidate, or if they are only interested in bring Clinton down.

In the case of the Forum in LA, the protest grabbed media attention and the ideas did not. That tells me that Code Pink does not care about whether people can make an informed decision about Global Warming. They have a single issue focus and the future of this planet is not on the list.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Green Reactions to the IPCC report

If we turned on the TV news this weekend, we surely heard about the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Chang. Meeting in Valencia, Spain this weekend, they have once again warned the world of the dire consequences of business as usual. Even their Summary for Policy Makers runs 23 pages and none of it is uplifting.

The type of events that they warn against are being played out in Bangladesh at the same time. That is all over television also, finally. I want readers to take a look at the charts posted by Chris Mooney at intersection. They give graphic evidence of the effects of the warming of the ocean on the intensity of such storms. As Mooney writes:
The before-and-after difference, to my untrained eye, appears to be an average cooling of something like 1 degree Celsius for almost the entire Bay of Bengal.
And where did this incredible amount of energy removed from the ocean go?

Unfortunately, much of it it got unleashed upon Bangladesh in the form of wind and waves.
Unfortunately, what are getting out of policy makers, and even the most ardently vocal Democratic Presidential Candidates (Clinton, Edwards, Kucinich) is business as usual. It is all geared to inside the beltway policy wonk decisions and it will favor, once again, big business.

Grist has posted the pertinent Global Warming positions from all of the candidates, Democratic and Republican, on their site. It is all currently linked from this page. For some reason, they forgot to ask a Green. Maybe it is time that Kent Mesplay (Air Quality Control expert) or Cynthia McKinney provided an answer to them. The both know how.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Down on the farm

I would like to call attention to another fine article concerning the Farm Bill of 2007. This time, the San Francisco Chronicle almost gets it. Unfortunately, Carolyn Lockhead still had to play the "fair and balanced" game, giving multiple views without taking the easy step of providing the information that would tell the reader what was truth and what was spin. But that is media coverage of politics from the beltway.

It is incomprehensible that either of our Senators could have the slightest doubt about continuing the current subsidy practices. If subsidies for American Cotton are in this bill, the President will have to veto it. This may be the first time that he is more correct than Congress. Allowing cotton subsidies to continue will open up major international trade problems and the costs could be $Billions. But I have written about this recently.

The Chronicle's quote from Dennis Cardoza (D-CA 18)is typical of the political BS the Democrats use to try and hold on to farm country seats.
"The traditional support that Republicans and this president receive from farm country is evaporating rapidly," said Cardoza, who secured new money to research and market fruits and vegetables. "They're more concerned about foreign corporations dodging American taxes than they were for real hardworking, salt-of-the earth people plowing the fields in the Midwest."
I am not sure what he means. When a majority of cotton subsidies go to less than 10% of all cotton farmers, something is amiss. The current system is set up for big business agriculture and gentleman farmers with a penthouse in the city. It dodes not go to those "real hardworking, salt-of-the earth people plowing the fields in the Midwest."

The minimum acceptable change in the subsidy structure is for the Senate to accept the Dorgan-Grassley limits on subsidy payment.

There is a natural affinity between the ecological and grassroots democracy goals of the Green Party and the needs of small farmers and rural communities. In California, Green Party efforts backed Restore the Delta as this non-profit brought fishing, farming and environmental interests together to try and preserve this hub of California's water supply.

Maybe this congress will muddle through with a barely acceptable bill, one with Dorgan-Grassley. But it will still favor everything that is big: farms, agri-business, transportation costs, energy use. Fundamental change will happen when the farmers and Greens align their efforts for a food policy that prioritizes a sustainable economy that benefits the health of our citizens, our land, and our farmers.

Lockhead does us a favor at the end of her Chronicle Story. She allows Wisconsin Representative Ron Kind to get in a few last words.
What subsidy supporters cannot explain, Kind argued, "is why we have a farm bill where 70 percent of the people in production agriculture get nothing ... including the specialty crop producers. And they're not going bankrupt. They're not being driven out of business. So the question is, why do these five main grain crops deserve so much of the subsidies and so much of the money, when it's concentrated in so few hands? That's the great story in all this."
Kind had an amendment to this bill and it was killed by Pelosi playing power calculus with farm country votes. The only Californian to side with Kind was Oakland's Barbara Lee. She got it right, again.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Apply yourself.

The following note was forwarded to the EcoAction Committee email list today. It makes such a good point that I had to share it.
From: Ronald Hardy
Sent: Wednesday, November 14, 2007 9:19 AM
Subject: [greens] 3 Greens appointed to Energy & Environment Board

In Oshkosh, where the Mayor recently signed onto the Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, the Mayor also has reinstated a long dormant citizen board called the Energy and Environment Advisory Board. Of the eight citizens and one councilor just appointed to this board, three of them are Green Party members: Justin Mitchell (co-chair, LWGP), Bob Poeschl (former co-chair, WIGP), and myself (co-chair, WIGP). Also named to the board were Steve Barney and Dani Stolley, both active with the Oshkosh Earth Charter.

How did three Greens get appointed to a board like this? We simply applied.

Apply yourselves locally, help change the world.

I am certain that Roger Gray would appreciate this, as he is in a similar position in Pasadena.

If you know it is coming...

So many of us wonder why there is not more popular concern about Global Warming. But it is not an immediate threat to anyone. You can't absolutely tie any one weather event, even the drought in the Southeast, to Global Warming. All you can do it to try and prepare the best you can.

Why then, do we completely ignore the threats that we can see? Threats that are immediate? Maybe it is because we can not tie the word "terrorist" to them. I guess that Dick Cheney knoew something about the American psyche.

Here is the fact.

Typhoon Sidr is now at Category 4. For several days, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center has been forecasting that it would weaken. It has not, and in fact will move over even warmer water as it approaches the coast of Bangladesh.

This is not on the news. I guess they want us to be surprised when we have to send in emergency care.

Are we so self focused that we no longer care what happens unless it is on our own street? I called one local TV station to ask why it was not being reported and they said that it was not a local story, I should contact their network desk. I doubt that I will see it on World News Tonight.

Water Wars and Cotton Farmers

There are two issues that I have raised in the past few years concerning the cotton farmers of California.
  • Government price supports for cotton have created the situation where US Cotton was being delivered to the world markets at prices lower than what sub-Saharan Africa could produce.
  • This tax payer subsidized cotton in the San Joaquin Valley of California was soaking up a large amount of our precious water supplies.
I had asked that the Agricultural Plank of the GPCA platform be modified to call for an end to these price supports of commodity crops: cotton, corn, soy beans, wheat, sugar. I had written here before about the need to stop growing cotton in the desert.

Finally, we see signs that both of these positions have been the correct one. It is all in this story by Garance Burke (AP).
Cotton also has lost ground for another reason that became apparent this week as the Senate debated the 2007 farm bill: The United States' cotton
subsidy program is enmeshed in a global trade battle.
Whenever you hear a politician talk about "fair trade" they mean fair for us, not the other guy. It is finally catching up with the US. Unfortunately, it has already done significant damage to those countries that were the victims of such un-fair trade.

We now have the interesting situation where the Democratic Congress, even the environmental Barbara Boxer, is trying to court the favor of Red State Farmers and the Bush Administration is threatening to veto the entire Farm Bill of 2007 until they can hide the problems that this policy has created in some back room secretly negotiated deal.

As a result, Burke tells us some cotton farmers are abandoning the crop.
Growing cotton has rarely been a more risky proposition than it is now, which is precisely why cotton farmer Frank Williams is planning to sow his fields with wheat.

From Williams' California fields to the Texas plains, farmers are plowing under cotton - once the king of U.S. agriculture - to seed crops that make more money.
The real effects on water depends on what crops these farmers intend to grow instead of cotton. The farmer cited in Burke's story is turning to wheat.
We can probably do just as well growing grain with just the same amount of water or less," said Williams, 56, who will uproot all the downy Upland cotton he grows in Firebaugh, along the Central Valley's western edge, leaving in only an organic variety. "It's just not worth it."

This year, cotton acreage nationwide dropped by about 29 percent, hitting a 22-year low at 10.8 million acres, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Acreage dropped by about 23 percent in Texas, the national leader, and by 19 percent in California, which ranks fourth in domestic production.

The sharpest declines were in the Southeast and Mississippi Delta regions, where drought has parched fields that grew the crop since before the Civil War.
The responsible reaction is to consider how our changing, warming climate is going to affect agriculture and to start making adjustments to crops, water use, etc. now. In fact, as concerns water for agriculture, if the global warming driven changes in rainfall do not force us to do so, then supplying the needs of a growing population will.

The timing is right for more aggressive action by the public (I am taling to you, readers) to tell our congressional delegation that the Farm Bill has to change.

There are several options. The Grassley - Dorgan Amendment would limit the amount of money that any one enterprise might get from these subsidies. This should be at the top of the list. Another option is to change the subsidies to an insurance program.
Still, the threat of billions of dollars in sanctions helped motivate Sens. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., and Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., to write an amendment they plan to introduce on the Senate floor next week to eliminate subsidies for cotton and all other commodities and replace them with an insurance-type program that all farmers could participate in.
Not a single one will say that it is time to kill such subsidies. However, we do know that this Farm Bill, as currently written, is a recipe for disaster.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Energy: the Steps Beyond Protest.

I have been somewhat critical of efforts like Step It Up when they seem to stop at protest organizing and are not prepared to move beyond that. It was a timely comment because the opportunity for Greens to begin making their impact felt on issues of energy and the building sector is right now.
On October 18, 2007, CPUC Commissioners adopted a groundbreaking decision mandating California’s investor owned utilities (IOUs), working in collaboration with publicly-owned utilities, state agencies, and other stakeholders to prepare a single, statewide energy efficiency Strategic Plan for the period 2009-2020.
Initial meetings took place last week. There are more Working Group meetings scheduled for this week (Nov, 14-16).

The goals of this effort sound reasonable.
This plan is to:

  • address all end use sectors for gas and electricity – residential, commercial, industrial, and agricultural;
  • give special attention to several ambitious long-range Big Bold Programmatic Initiatives with specific suggested performance targets;
  • indicate how these plans will better integrate delivery to customers of the full range of demand side management (DSM) options (energy efficiency, distributed generation and solar, and demand response); and
  • ensure effective use of and support for funds for marketing, outreach, training and education.
Based on past history, I trust neither the CPUC nor the Investor Owned Utilities. In fact, I would not even trust Co-Op Electrical Districts to act on any basis other than generating as much electricity as possible with as little capital investment as possible. In other words, to hell with the future if I can keep today's rates as low as possible.

The CPUC has divided the work into five interest areas, each with a working group to develop a draft plan by February 1, 2008. Those interest areas are: Residential, Commercial, HVAC, Industry and Agriculture. Each represents a significant sector of the US Economy. Building Operations (Residential, Commercial, HVAC) account for 40% of total energy use, far more than the 27% used by transportation. The agricultural sector is interesting as it potentially could produce as much energy as it consumes, and I am not reverencing screwy ideas like ethanol from corn.

The GPCA should put a priority on reviving the Green Issues Working Group, or at least those whose focus was Energy, and begin to exert as much pressure as possible on this effort in order to make sure that we end up with a Capital "G" Green outcome.

This is where we start to put our intellects to work. Now that Step It Up has provided some motivation, we need to go beyond the rally and to start delivering results.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Two paths.

In a departure from my normal practice of posting about fundamental questions for which I believe that the Green Party offers the best answers, I am going to post about the questions facing the Green Party of California for which we have not yet found an answer. I am speaking of the various types of people who gravitate toward holding some office in the GPCA, their approach to how to fulfill the needs of the party and the way in which those needs are not being met.

It is easiest to talk from my own personal experience. I came to the party because it offers the best solutions to what I feel to be very important problems: social justice, the end of racism and the protection of the plant from the willful wrath of humans. When I do speak out, or act, I do so in support of getting our party to take some positive action in these regards. This would be the attraction of helping a Working Group like the Green Issues Working Group.

It appears to me that there are others who approach their roles as providing the best way to support the party in general. Anyone who works toward a helping more Green Party Candidates win electoral office would fall in this group. What they do is not directly in support of any one issue, it is an effort to make the party stronger and more capable of affecting change.

The key here is that these are both example of people working to affect change.

In contrast, there are others, hopefully motivated in the same manner as I mentioned above, who choose to work a bureaucrats, focusing on parliamentary procedures, following the letter, if not the intent of bylaws or general assembly designations, and doing so with a stridency that is often astounding. Unfortunately, this method of working seems always in defense of the status quo and is antithetical to change.

It seems that the work that gets done, gets done in spite of the nominal leadership, not because of it. Things happen because individuals show initiative and take responsibility. I don't want to sound like I grew up reading Ayn Rand, as there are many ways leading and it does not require a Randian hero. I did grow up in an era when the Summer of Love was a real event, not ancient history, and that was a generation that felt the world was changing and that they were the agents of change.

Well, the world did not change all that much. The bureaucrats still control almost everything. And we still have an opportunity to make a difference. To begin with, we can ignore the bureaucrats and just get on with the job. It is really easy, because the bureaucrats have not real power to enforce anything.

Here are some ideas about where this can be put in place.

The Grassroots Organizing Working Group had nominal responsibility for producing the Green Focus newspaper. Since that paper no longer has an editor, it is not longer being published. Those who are currently named to the editorial board for the Green Focus need to just pick things up, decide what to do, name a new publisher and run it like a real newspaper. Most of us on the board were there because we were writers / contributors. We need to be more than that.

The Green Issues Working Group has become completely non-functional. If issues, and the way that we deal with them, are important, then someone needs to get out the jumper cables and jump start that group. The focus has to be on finding the pressure points where the Green Party, as a party, can make a difference. It can be done. It requires only someone who is willing to devote the time and to provide the leadership to make it happen. It the current leadership of GIWG can not get this done, then those Greens who are working on making the GPCA a player on any issue need to just start coordinating their own work, as some are doing, until we find replacements.

But when the bureaucrats start to focus on why things can't be done, then it is time that those bureaucrats are replaced. The right leadership will focus on why things can be accomplished, on what has to be done to satisfy the needs of the party and then figure out a way to make it happen within the context of respect for all the individuals who are working their butts off to make this party function.

This is a bit of a rant. I did not name the people I had in mind. I wanted to focus on the attitudes.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Calling it like it is... chutzpah???

Thanks to a note from Genevieve Marcus, I found myself going through a blog called The Rehearsal Studio by San Francisco writer Stephen W. Smoliar. Since he write well about three subject that are dear to me... music, politics and the failures of the 5th Estate... I set up a feed to my browser and hit pay dirt on day two.

Here is a little fact the Smoliar unearthed and which very few others have mentioned, especially the nightly news broadcasts. The following four Senators did not bother to vote on the appointment of Judge Michael Mukasey as Attorney General.

Senator Joe Biden (DL)
Senator Hillary Clinton (NY)
Senator Chris Dodd (CN)
Senator Barack Obama (IL)

I seem that they all had something more important to do and anyway, their vote would not have counted. At least that is the way that Smoliar spins it. Better to read the entire post. I truly wonder whether Tim Russert will ask this one of Obama, who is his guest for the full hour on Meet the Press this Sunday morning.

After you read Smoliar's piece, take some time to ponner about all of the lesser of two evils pressure you will get to join the fight against the terrible Republicans. Join who in the fight? Not those four candidates. As my friend Alex would say, there was never a better time to vote Green.

Dinosaur Flatulence

This week in the Green Room, an environmental section of the BBC web site, there is a provocative quotation in a box on the upper right.
The problem is that most politicians are dinosaurs who don't expect to be around when the stuff really hits the fan.
This reminds me of the often referenced quote from SoCal Congressman Dana Rohrabacher.
"We don’t know what those other cycles were caused by in the past. Could be dinosaur flatulence, you know, or who knows?"
It makes one tend to agree with the BBC.

I was reading the Green Room because Andrew Revkin had linked it from his new Dot Earth blog at the NY Times. Today, both of them are dealing with a fundamental problem: identifying the motivations for human action on Global Warming? As Revkin asks, the question is an ethical one. What does the present owe the future?

John Feeney writes this weeks Viewpoint for the Green Room and tries to come to grip with the problem in another way.
We humans face two problems of desperate importance. The first is our global ecological plight. The second is our difficulty acknowledging the first.
Feeney sees the problem as being us and the fact that there are too many of "us". He makes about the best possible case for posing the question in terms of an apocalypse scenario.
Despite increasing climate change coverage, environmental writers remain reluctant to discuss the full scope and severity of the global dilemma we’ve created. Many fear sounding alarmist, but there is an alarm to sound and the time for reticence is over.
The reaction that Feeney generates is predictably gloomy, as in this comment from Euraka, CA resident Jessica Friedlander.
Not only is he correct I think he might be understanding the severity of the problem. The crux of the problem lies in human nature, our tendency to use our rationality to justify our baser instincts. Our baser instincts will rule in this situation as in all others: Consume until nothing remains. Logic cannot prevail even in this life or death scenario. We, and this entire biosphere, are are irrevocably doomed. Jess Friedlander
Which brings me back to Revkin. He concludes his Dot Earth post with the very basic idea that we have choices.
Why bother? Boy, that question gets at the deep roots of the human condition. We’re the first species (on Earth at least) that has become a global-scale influence and is aware of it. (Plants oxygenated the atmosphere but, as far as we know, didn’t know it.)

That makes every action, locally to globally, a choice weighing current and future needs. We can’t plead ignorance any more. Personally, I’ve chosen to focus my reporting, and this blog, on this balance. Chances are we won’t get it quite right, and one can only help we don’t get it too wrong.
Let me phrase the question in another way. What choices do we have for action as a political party? It would seem that we have the most ability to change our future by community action. We need to grow this party in order to operate at a higher political level: State Assembly, Congress, etc. We can achieve that growth by taking meaningful action within our own communities.

Last year, Karen Hurley, writing in Grist, urged us all to "Drop that apocalyptic vision and start imagining a positive future". It is notable that one commenter references the title of Petra Kelly's first book, "Fighting for Hope". Is this not what the GPCA should be doing? Fighting for hope? Can we not change our own communities to act to protect against and to mitigate the effects of our changing climate? Are we going to be satisfied to endure the verbal flatulence of dinosaur politicians? The future is what we would make of it.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Hysterical Los Angeles Daily News Plea for 'Radical' Change

This is rich. Click below to read a downright hysterical editorial from the Los Angeles Daily News (our little imitation New York Daily News). The gist of the piece is that Los Angeles Establishment politics sucks, is hopelessly corrupt on account of "the unions, the developers and the other special interests that call the shots." They say "it's going to take something radical to change it." Most of the article is full of praise for the Valley secession campaign that failed a few years ago. This is bogus because having two corrupt governments instead of one is not going to change a damned thing (though it might create new opportunities for Orange County-style Republican crooks favored by Daily News "conservatives"). I post the text here in its entirety as a textbook example of how the MSM is incapable of "thinking outside the box" even while ranting and foaming about "radical" change.

Read More at:

Saturday, November 03, 2007

California Hack du jour - US Sen. Diane Feinstein

The California Democratic Party Hack Du Jour is U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein. Sen. Feinstein's record as one of President Bush' chief enablers on all matters foreign and domestic is so bad, one hardly knows where to begin. Documenting this is a big job and I expect to be updating this Blog for a few days to get it all down.

The latest outrage is that Sen. Feinstein provided a crucial Democratic vote to confirm Michael B. Mukasey as George W. Bush's latest consigliere at the Justice Department. To add insult to injury, the Los Angeles Times published Feinstein's statement "explaining" her latest cave-in.

Read More At:

What did I mean by that...

In a post to the Green California Forum email list, my fellow blogger, Orval Osborne asked me to elaborate on a viewpoint that I had voiced in a previous post to that list. What I had actually said was...
If I were able to control the agenda for GIWG, [GP California Green Issues Working Group] I would do the following:
  • take a limited set of issues... probably only 2... Global Warming and Water.
  • I would begin to prepare position statements, focused on California, even more focused on community activism, and I would target them toward candidates: what should I say we should be doing locally, state-wide about this issue?. I would then target them toward press releases, actions and/or tabling material and event illustrating that the Green Party is the one telling the truth and showing how this will be good for the community... not just the sacrifice of a penitent.
I agree that this needs further explanation.

There are interesting parallels between the narrative of the state of modern man that is the basis of most environmental rhetoric and the biblical story of the Garden of Eden. The environmental rhetoric is that the world would be great is man stopped doing all of those awful things to it. We could then return to a state of harmony. In the religious narrative, the fall from grace was due to the knowledge of good and evil. In the environmental narrative the fall from grace is due to the pollution we push out into the world in the pursuit of economic advantage and a modern lifestyle.

I have problems with both in that they place man outside of nature. Until modern times, man's goal was to control nature and put it to work in the service of his needs. We are beginning to understand that the world does not work that way, but not many have yet put that understanding to work in the realm of politics. It is too frightening to think about because it mean that you have to rethink historical perceptions and that is never easy nor comfortable.

My transition from a conservative Republican dedicated to Conservation to a Green came from my own development of a viewpoint that I would best describe a that of deep ecology. In this, it was not the philosophy of Arne Naess nor the activism of Judi Bari that changed my thinking but rather the science of Frijtof Capra and the reading of his book The Web of Life. If you are a Green and have not read Capra, you should. He was also co-author (with Charlene Spretnak) of the 1984 book Green Politics.

I have, for a long time, been frustrated by some aspects of the environmental movement, in particular those whose thinking does not go beyond "stop" or "limit" to provide the alternatives. In too many cases, that becomes a task that we are all too willing to leave for someone else to do.
  • When you stop logging the Humboldt County redwoods, how do you build a new, local economy? It would have been more effective to work on providing the alternative from the beginning, in other words community based sustainable economics.
  • If you stop snowmobiles in Yellowstone, what do you do to replace that mode of tourist transportation during the winter months? Again it is a local economic issue. For a long time, there was no answer. At least, this year, the Sierra Club will have one winter trip to Yellowstone. Capacity 9.
Rather than viewing ourselves as outside of nature, we must think of ourselves as an integral part of the web of life. Instead of asking how we might return to whatever Eden we think existed in the past, we need to begin asking What kind of world might we create? Instead of asking Who am I? should we not ask Who am I becoming?

There are two fundamental concepts that are behind the Green Movement: an understanding of the truth of deep ecology and a strong sense of social justice. They should inform and guide all that we do. When we lose either we are no longer green.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Pharm Crops

If there is one issue besides global warming that brings out Apocalypse stories from the environmental community, it is the practice of engineering new variations of plants through the manipulation of the genetic material. The motives behind this are quite varied. In the case of Monsanto, it is purely profit as in engineering crops: soy beans, rape seed (canola), corn, that will be immune to the Monsanto developed herbicide, Roundup. Even the name, Roundup Ready, betrays the motive.

In the Monsanto case, the arguments are fairly easy to make, though not everyone is listening. Napa County California Green, Erica Martenson, is leading an organization called Preserving the Integrity of Napa's Agriculture (PINA) and has written frequently about these issues. I have posted several of Erica's public writings here. One of her topics was "Pharm crops and world hunger"

There are several factors that are know to be a challenge, the most important of which may be that GE material can not be contained once the plant has been released into open air cultivation. In some ways, that is what Monsanto is counting on . If neighboring seed stocks become contaminated (by the wind blown or bee carried pollen) then Monstanto goes to court and sues based on patent infringement and, by doing so, locks up a bigger share of the seed market.

However, when the purpose of the genetic engineering is to provide a way to cure disease; especially a disease that is debilitating, potentially deadly, very costly to the health care system in general and especially to the often poor patients such as is the case with Type 2 diabetes, opposition to this use of GMO's may end up with a balancing act where you weigh the environmental costs of doing something against the social cost of not doing it. When that happens, the apocalyptic narrative will not win many adherents. With the increase of obesity in the American population, the actual economic costs of diabetes and other lifestyle related diseases... cancer, heart disease... increasing as they are now, the offer of a pill to fix everything, especially one provided at low cost, will be too powerful to reject.
A researcher at the University of Central Florida says he has created a strain of lettuce that actually creates insulin. For people with diabetes, it could mean the end of insulin injections -- and the folks in the lab say it could even be a cure for diabetes.
In studies with mice, the use of this lettuce has not only provided the supplementary insulin that diabetes patients need, it has induced the mice to begin producing insulin at normal levels themselves, obviating the need for continued treatment.

I watched this report on the 11 PM news last night from station KSBW, Salinas, CA, where lettuce is a significant factor in the local economy.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Breaking News - Tennessee Town Out of Water

Posted by The Associated Press - 6 Hours Ago
Tennessee Town Has Run Out of Water
by Greg Bluestein

ORME, Tenn. (AP) — As twilight falls over this Tennessee town, Mayor Tony Reames drives up a dusty dirt road to the community's towering water tank and begins his nightly ritual in front of a rusty metal valve.

With a twist of the wrist, he releases the tank's meager water supply, and suddenly this sleepy town is alive with activity. Washing machines whir, kitchen sinks fill and showers run.

About three hours later, Reames will return and reverse the process, cutting off water to the town's 145 residents.

The severe drought tightening like a vise across the Southeast has threatened the water supply of cities large and small, sending politicians scrambling for solutions. But Orme, about 40 miles west of Chattanooga and 150 miles northwest of Atlanta, is a town where the worst-case scenario has already come to pass: The water has run out.

The mighty waterfall that fed the mountain hamlet has been reduced to a trickle, and now the creek running through the center of town is dry.
. . .

He says the crisis in Orme could serve as a warning to other communities to conserve water before it's too late.

"I feel for the folks in Atlanta," he says, his gravelly voice barely rising above the sound of rushing water from the town's tank. "We can survive. We're 145 people. You've got 4.5 million people down there. What are they going to do? It's a scary thought."

Santa Barbara and San Jose

In one recent post, I commented as to how the City of Santa Barabara was leading the way in combating climate change. They acted to implement the standards suggested by Architecture 2030. It is an example that needs to be followed by every community in California.

This week, we have the City of San Jose taking a few tentative steps in that direction. They published a new Green Vision for the City. It takes 14 pages to discuss their goals.
Green Vision Goals

Within 15 years, the City of San José in tandem with its residents and businesses will:

  1. Create 25,000 Clean Tech jobs as the World Center of Clean Tech Innovation
  2. Reduce per capita energy use by 50 percent
  3. Receive 100 percent of our electrical power from clean renewable sources
  4. Build or retrofit 50 million square feet of green buildings
  5. Divert 100 percent of the waste from our landfill and convert waste to energy
  6. Recycle or beneficially reuse 100 percent of our wastewater (100 million gallons per day)
  7. Adopt a General Plan with measurable standards for sustainable development
  8. Ensure that 100 percent of public fleet vehicles run on alternative fuels
  9. Plant 100,000 new trees and replace 100 percent of our streetlights with smart, zeroemission lighting
  10. Create 100 miles of interconnected trails
While these are all laudable goals, the document is short on specifics.
In 2007, after the City Council signed on to the U.S. Conference of Mayors' Climate Protection Agreement, it went one step further and adopted the most aggressive municipal greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals in the nation.
We have seen that time and again governments set goals and then, when faced with a decision to permit something or to allow a possible 50 jobs to go elsewhere, they always opt to forget those requirement in favor of building up their inventory of jobs.

But it brings me back to the same point I made in my last post, that Greens need to walk away from the Step It Up meetings and go directly to their own city councils and planning commissions and demand action now. Until there is some concrete statement of requirement that goes into the building permitting process, the fancy word goals are only good intentions.