America is blessed with a spectacular abundance and diversity of birds, with more than 800 species inhabiting the mainland, Hawai`i, and surrounding oceans. Unfortunately, the recently released State of the Birds - United States of America report, a collaborative effort from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, American Bird Conservancy, and several other non-profit groups, reveals that hundreds of bird species are in decline, and some are threatened with extinction. However, this report makes clear that if we apply ourselves by investing in conservation, we can save endangered wildlife, protect habitats, and solve the multiple threats that form the root of these bird declines.
State of the Birds finds that the birds of Hawai`i, the birthplace of President Obama, are in the greatest danger. Before human settlement, Hawai`i was home to 113 endemic bird species. Since then, 71 Hawaiian birds have gone extinct. Of the 42 endemic bird species that may remain, 31 are federally listed; several of these are on the brink of extinction, ten have not been seen in years, and two more, the Akikiki and Akekee are expected to be listed in the coming year. Continued...
"Think about this. Consider how much has changed all around us. Think of how much faster our computers have become. Think about how much more productive our workers are. Think about how everything has been transformed by our capacity to see the world as it is, but also to imagine a world as it could be.That's what's been missing in this debate for too long, and that's why this announcement is so important, for it represents not only a change in policy in Washington but the harbinger of a change in the way business is done in Washington. No longer will we accept the notion that our politics are too small, our nation too divided, our people too weary of broken promises and lost opportunities to take up a historic calling. No longer will we accept anything less than a common effort, made in good faith, to solve our toughest problems.And that is what this agreement seeks to achieve."
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That’s the cavalry (and the Navy, Air Force and Marines) coming to the aid of the green army that is so vastly outnumbered and out-funded by the oil and coal lobbyists on Capitol Hill.
A panel of 12 distinguished retired generals and admirals has just released the latest in a series of reports over the past two years warning that global climate change is not just an environmental issue, or an economic issue, or a public health and welfare issue. It’s an urgent matter of national security.
Put another way, any effort to further delay the world’s transition to a sustainable energy economy or to launch an aggressive response to global climate change is a national security threat.
The new report -- “Powering America’s Defense: Energy and the Risks to National Security” -- is the work of the Military Advisory Board of the Center for Naval Analysis (CNA), a federally funded research and development center serving U.S. defense agencies. The Board consists of former admirals and generals who have served at the very top of America’s military structure and who know a security threat when they see one. (See their names and titles at the end of this post).
Among their conclusions:
· Our current energy posture causes military, diplomatic and economic vulnerabilities that are “exploitable by those who wish to do us harm.”
· A business as usual approach to energy security poses a “unacceptably high threat level from a series of converging risks”;
We should not pursue energy options “inconsistent with the national response to climate change” – in other words, fossil fuels, whether they are produced domestically or by other nations.
The 12 retired officers make clear that imported oil is not our only security problem. Coal and gas are liabilities, too, as are other fossil derivatives such as liquids from coal... Continued...
Notes from the UN: "From Conflict to Peacebuilding - The Role of Natural Resources and The Environment"
For those of us who know this disease intimately, in having watched loved ones go through it, including those whom we have cared for, we know all too well the qualities that are necessary to walk this particular path of emotion which seems an inherent part of the process of watching someone you love slowly slipping away. We know, too, for those of us who have eventually lost that loved one, the aftermath that comes, and unfortunately is rarely addressed in the discussion about Alzheimer's Disease. Continued...
It is time for President Obama to mobilize us all to help build the new energy economy. He has begun shaping the public policies we need. Now he needs to launch an Apollo project, interstate highway project, war effort and Marshall Plan all rolled into one.
For starters, he should call on us all to pick up our caulking guns and enlist in the war against energy waste – a national clean energy surge.
Efficiency improvements and conservation have been America’s main source of energy since 1973, according to the Alliance to Save Energy. Yet, the potential for more savings is enormous. As Obama noted during the campaign, the United States is only the 22nd most energy-efficiency major economy in the world. With very few exceptions, every vehicle, home, power plant, factory, community and state is hemorrhaging energy, energy dollars and greenhouse gas emissions. Consider just a few examples:
· We lose massive amounts of energy as electricity is generated and distributed. The typical coal plant turns only a third of its fuel into productive energy and more is lost in transmission lines.
· The typical residential or commercial building could cut its energy use, and do it cost-effectively, by 25-30 percent.
· According to the Rocky Mountain Institute, 70 cents of every dollar the typical community spends on energy immediately leaves the local economy. If more energy dollars were retained through energy efficiency and locally generated renewables, the money would circulate longer in the community. The result – not unlike keeping the ball in play in a pinball machine – is a “multiplier effect” that creates more local spending, jobs and businesses.
· The U.S. Department of Energy estimated last year that the direct economic cost of oil dependence in 2008 would be $560 billion, reducing our GDP by 1.5 percent.
· A study issued last year by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy estimated that a 30 percent gain in national energy efficiency by 2030 would create as many as 1.3 million net new jobs. Continued...
I was one of the lucky ones. I had a great mother. The fact that I did not fully appreciate that until after her death makes me typical -- I fear -- rather than special among sons. She easily forgave my obsession with my work, more than I now forgive myself for not making more of that time we had together.
I'm sure I sent her a card on Mother's Day, and I remembered her birthday -- October 13th -- and I bought her Christmas gifts (here with some help from my wife) but I regarded these as chores rather than pleasures. What do you buy for a woman whose only fashion weakness was earrings? More earrings? No, I did not neglect her. I lived a few blocks from her apartment and saw her once a week when I was in New York, mostly for dinner and to talk about the fortunes and misfortunes of our family. Most of all she expressed such pride in my young sons that she could never get enough of them. Although she was a constant presence in my life, I did not then realize that she was the great foundation on which my life was built. Continued...