Forrest for the Trees
From time to time, I’ll be blogging on non-enviro stuff.
Tomorrow, I’ll be at the “Sovereignty or Secession” rally in front of the Capitol for what’s sure to be one helluva good show. I’ll post a report tomorrow afternoon at the TO blog — video included (go easy on me as this will be my first time trying to shoot and edit a video report).
The rally’s being organized by the Texas Nationalist Movement, a group that calls itself “the largest organization promoting freedom and Texas Independence.” The point of the event, according to the group’s press release, is to “demand that the Governor and Legislature to [sic] support Texas sovereignty under the 10th Amendment or to call for secession.”
These are basically hard-core secessionists whose anti-government beliefs are about as far out as you get.
Overlap with the Alex Jones-New World Order crowd, tea party protestors, birthers and other far-right fringoids is extensive. In other words, these are the people Gov. Perry’s been doing a dangerous little dance with for months.
The event was called off at one point (for reasons discussed below) but is now set at 11am.
Musta been a conspiracy, a/t Gerry Donaldson, one of the organizers:
The reason for this change is that MoveOn.org decided to schedule 2 separate events on the SAME DAY to push Obamacare! Seems a little “convenient” that they would try to block out a big portion of the day on the SAME DAY we are telling the federal government that we want to ROLL BACK our government to its originally intended, limited role; doesn’t it?
We are obviously a real threat to the Marxist agenda that MoveOn.org and Obama’s administration is trying to shove down our throats.
The secessionists say they plan to “counterprotest” the pro-health care reform event. It will be interesting to see what guns the secessionists choose to bring. But don’t worry: they promise no violence.
This is not and should not be a violent confrontation. Violence is not condoned by anyone involved.
However, we are exercising our rights and our duty to compel the restoration of our sovereignty and rights (alter our government) or it will leave us with no choice but secession.
On the Texas Nationalist Movement website, they claim that Gov. Perry “bowed out,”, implying that he had agreed to speak at some point. However, I called Perry’s office and a spokeswoman said the governor had declined an offer to speak on August 10th. “We called and told them he wouldn’t be able to make it,” said spokeswoman Katherine Cesinger.
A decade ago, objections from environmentalists were the principal roadblocks to new plant construction. But most of the concerns over safety and waste disposal have been allayed while the environmental lobby now acknowledges that nuclear power generation is environmentally benign.
That’s Bernard Weinstein arguing in a San Antonio Express-News op-ed piece today that new nukes are so kewl even crazy environmentalists are now, kinda sorta, for them! Weinstein offers no examples of environmental groups or leaders who consider nuclear power “environmentally benign” and I doubt he’s going to fnd many.
Sierra Club and Public Citizen, two of the most important environmental groups in the state, are actively fighting proposed new nuke plants. I know of no Texas green groups in favor of building new plants. Business-friendly orgs such as Environmental Defense and NRDC have said that nuclear would be okay once a solution is devised for radioactive waste disposal, security threats are addressed, etc, etc. Hardly a ringing endorsement.
Maybe Weinstein is alluding to Patrick Moore, someone who once long ago had something to do with Greenpeace and now makes his living as a paid consultant for the nuclear industry. He’s the guy the pro-nuclear people drag out to say, “Even the enviros are for it…!” Moore was in Texas doing that very thing last year.
Btw, who is Bernard Weinstein? The SAEN identifies him at the bottom of the op-ed like this:
Bernard Weinstein will become associate director of the Maguire Energy Institute in the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University in September.
That’s true but, guess what, Weinstein is also a paid consultant to the nuclear industry. According to a bio, Weinstein’s clients have included Reliant Energy, Entergy (second-largest nuclear generator in the U.S.), and the Nuclear Energy Institute. Why didn’t Weinstein or the SAEN feel the need to disclose this fact to their readers?
I’ve got emails into the two asking just that. If and when they write back, I will post their responses.
I’ve been poking around a few different reports that rate American universities and colleges in terms of ‘eco-friendliness’. I didn’t expect Texas schools to stack up well against all those crunchy liberal arts colleges in the Midwest and New England. Middlebury College in Vermont, a campus I visited last year for a writing fellowship, has its own biomass power facililty!
But it’s worse than I thought. Sierra magazine, for example, recently scored 135 colleges on the basis of eight criteria: efficiency, energy, food, academics, purchasing, transportation, waste management, and administration.
Only one Texas school, Rice U., cracked the Top 100. Rice came in at No. 96, right between Pacific University and Pace University (Go Boxers! Go Setters!). That was good enough to earn the Owls a ‘C-’. Farther down the list were Baylor (No. 125, F) and Texas Tech, which came in dead last at No. 135. Of Tech, the Sierra folks said:
The Lubbock university flunked our 2008 sustainability test, and this year its grade has not improved. In fact, it placed lowest among schools that responded to our survey, offering no sustainability initiatives to speak of.
I’m sure new Tech prof Alberto Gonzales will get right on that.
For some reason, UT and Texas A&M weren’t scored at all. Perhaps because they didn’t respond to the survey?
Then, there’s the College Sustainability Report Card, which evaluates the 300 Canadian and American colleges with the largest endowments.
I was curious to see how UT-Austin, my alma mater, fared. From my bright college days, I remember a crummy recycling program, contracts with paper companies that felled virgin forests, wasteful energy policies and more lip-service than action from the administration. But there’s been a lot of pressure from students to change. It seems to have worked some.
Although the Report Card gave UT-Austin a C+ overall – a pretty lousy grade – it does seem like UT’s made some improvements in certain areas. The Report Card notes that in April 2008, UT adopted a campus-wide sustainability policy “to integrate sustainability in academic programs, operations, campus planning, administration, and outreach.”
The university also gets ‘B’s in three categories: Green Building (all new construction must be LEED-certified), Student Involvement, and Transportation (free shuttles).
UT gets an ‘F’, on other hand, for Shareholder Engagement and a ‘C’ for Investment Priorities because UTIMCO “has not made any public statements about investigating or investing in renewable energy funds or community development loan funds.”
(This doesn’t surprise me in the least. The UT Board of Regents hasn’t shown the slightest interest in socially responsible investing. In the 80s, the Regents fought until the bitter end to hold onto their investments in apartheid South Africa.)
How about the Aggies?
Texas A&M gets a ‘C+’ overall with ‘C’s almost across the board.
The only Texas school on the Report Card to score above a ‘C’ is Rice, which got a ‘B-’. Rice, the report notes, has signed the Presidents Climate Commitment, has on-campus gardens and farmers markets, requires that all new buildings be LEED-certified and recylces 75 percent of demolished buildings, converts cooking oil into biodiesel for campus vehicles and has its endowment invested in renewable energy funds, etc.
Texas Tech, on the other hand, got ‘F’s in almost every category but somehow that worked out to a ‘D’ overall. Basically, the Harvard of the High Plains isn’t doing anything to minimize environmental impact.
Update: I should have also mentioned the National Wildlife Federation’s exhaustive 2008 report card on sustainability in higher ed.
Notable Texas findings: Concordia University in Austin and Texas A&M-Commerce get more than 80 percent of their power from off-campus renewable energy sources. Huston-Tillotson, a historically African American college in Austin, recycles more than 80 percent of their trash. OU still sucks.
Texas is gonna get hotter and hotter during this century, according to a report released today by the National Wildlife Federation and Physicians for Social Responsibility.
We already knew that but the report puts some numbers to the warming trend. Over the next century, the temperature will rise 4 to 11° F on average with urban areas as much as 10° higher than rural areas. The American Southwest, including parts of Texas, will bear the brunt of the increase.
Based on four risk factors – the number of extremely hot days, ozone pollution, the fraction of homes without A/C, and poverty levels – the report concludes that thirty U.S. cities will suffer the worst heat effects. Houston and Dallas are in the “Tier 1″ category, the cities with the highest vulnerability. Austin makes the list of “Tier 2″ cities. San Antonio is in “Tier 3.”
The graph above shows that parts of West, South and Central Texas could experience over a hundred 100°+ days every year by the 2080s and 2090s under the higher greenhouse gas emissions scenario. Imagine a summer worse than this one pretty much every single year. Good times.