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April 24, 2005 - Number Thirty-Five with Baked Alaska

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A nod to Earth Day – and as no one much noticed, the thirty-fifth annual Earth Day was April 22, this last Friday. Thank you, Wisconsin – as in 1970, former Wisconsin governor and United States Senator Gaylord Nelson founded the first Earth Day.

There’s too much hot political news for this to get much coverage. But Mother Nature knows what’s up. See this –

Thundery Earth Day Keeps Bush Out of Park
Michael A. Fletcher, The Washington Post, Saturday, April 23, 2005; Page A06

Ah ha!


KNOXVILLE, Tenn., April 22 -- President Bush was to have celebrated Earth Day in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on Friday, pitching in on a trail restoration project and giving a speech touting his environmental record with the park's majestic peaks serving as a compelling backdrop. But Mother Nature did not cooperate.

Severe thundershowers posed a danger for the president's visit to a grassy meadow deep in the park, where an audience had gathered earlier, so Bush delivered his remarks from an airport hangar here in Knoxville.

Bush said that since he took office, the environment has improved in many areas: more wetlands are protected; and water quality is slowly improving; as is air quality, including the oft-smoggy air that blankets many of the nation's national parks.

"I'm proud to report since 2000, the ozone levels have dropped -- but there is more to be done to make sure the Smoky Mountains and the Smoky Mountain national park is as beautiful as possible," said Bush, who was joined by other officials, including Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton and Steve Johnson, acting administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

It is a record seen far differently by environmental activists, who believe Bush is too cozy with industry and that some of his proposals would undermine environmental enforcement. "The job is far from complete," said Michael Shore, a senior air policy analyst with Environmental Defense, an advocacy group. "We need President Bush to commit his administration to clean up mountain haze, to deal with global warming and to create cleaner air for our children and children's children." …


Well, there is some disagreement about what our leader is up to.

As mentioned elsewhere in these pages the National Council of Churches is going after Bush and Cheney and the evangelical Republican right over the theological issues regarding the environment and drilling for oil and all that stuff. Really. There does seem to be a theological issue. Read all about it in this: Theologians Warn of 'False Gospel' on the Environment.

Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of The Nation, gives us a sense of the mixed nature of where things stand, if you will forgive the pun –


In many ways, this Earth Day is a particularly somber occasion. After all, in the past year, we've seen repeated environmental debacles - most notably, the decision to open the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR) to drilling for oil. But, with the determination of environmental activists and state legislatures that refuse to bow down to Bush, there are, as always, reasons for hope. Here are five of our top environmental victories in the last year.


And she lists a few.


Clear Skies Initiative Dropped: Thanks to a 9-to-9 vote by the Environment and Public Works Committee, Bush's Orwellian-labeled bill - which would have loosened air pollution restrictions for power plants, factories and refineries - did not advance to the Senate. Without Clear Skies, we'll be much more likely to see, well, clear skies.

Colorado Passes Renewable Energy Initiative: Colorado's Amendment 37, a precedent-setting victory for renewable energy, requires the state's largest electric companies to increase their use of renewable sources such as wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, and small hydro from less than two percent today to 10 percent by 2015. Amendment 37 is expected to save Coloradans $236 million by 2025, create 2,000 jobs, and significantly reduce gas prices in the state.

Cleaner Cars: Clean Car legislation - requiring the reduction of harmful auto emissions - is being adopted in California and seven other states, and is gaining traction in five more states. With Canada adopting a similar program, a third of North America's automobile market will require clean cars. Meanwhile, heavy-hitters on the right, including former CIA head R. James Woolsey and uber-hawk Frank J. Gaffney Jr., have been lobbying congress to implement policies promoting hybrid cars, hoping to cut oil consumption in half by 2025.

Challenging Mercury: In March, the EPA issued a loophole-laden policy that, in effect, deregulates controls on mercury emissions from power plants. In response, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Jersey have implemented stronger controls on mercury--which is linked to nerve damage and birth defects--than the EPA, Meanwhile, nine state attorney generals have filed lawsuits against the agency, arguing that the lax rules jeopardize public health. …


Okay, not entirely bad.

But appearing in Grist magazine, and republished in SALON.COM and elsewhere, is the dismally titled Dearth Day.  Well, it’s not that bad.  And we learn lots of things actually happened on Earth day this year.

You see, the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) announced they are sponsoring a campaign with the slogan "Plant Trees, Stop Bush." This is a fund-raising effort asking people to send in forty dollars (and who knows why that particular amount) "in honor of Earth Day and to protest the Bush administration's abysmal record on the environment." What do you get for forty bucks? A white oak sapling. And we are also told this - "Please bring your family and friends together and plant it in your yard," LCV President Deb Callahan exhorts in her outreach letter. "Tell everyone who asks that you're 'planting trees to stop Bush.'"

Yeah, and they’ll slash the tires on your car.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has big plans. They have launched what they call their "Re-energize America" campaign – and their aim is to meld steelworkers, evangelicals, national-security leaders, ranchers, and others to advocate for clean-energy investments and conservation practices.

And good luck to them. And don’t think those groups are talking to each other.

And this too - television producer Laurie David this weekend is launching a "virtual march on Washington" on StopGlobalWarming.org, hoping to rally a million Americans over the next year to demand action on climate change. It’s a Hollywood thing.

But my favorite is this –


… Well, then, for a certain crowd-pleasing diversion, we'll turn away from environmental groups to everyone's favorite lefty ice-cream company, Ben & Jerry's. On Earth Day, in front of the Capitol in Washington, D.C., B&J will unveil a massive Baked Alaska (touché), four feet by eight feet and filled with 75 gallons of Fossil Fuel-flavor ice cream, part of the company's "Lick Global Warming" campaign and its efforts to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.


Baked Alaska?  Fossil Fuel ice cream?  "Lick" Global Warming?


Oh, those wags in Vermont!

I didn’t see that on the Friday news shows.

The environment is no small issue. And this got a little play a few weeks ago.

Two-thirds of world's resources 'used up'
Tim Radford, science editor, The Guardian (UK), Wednesday March 30, 2005


The human race is living beyond its means. A report backed by 1,360 scientists from 95 countries - some of them world leaders in their fields - today warns that the almost two-thirds of the natural machinery that supports life on Earth is being degraded by human pressure.

The study contains what its authors call "a stark warning" for the entire world. The wetlands, forests, savannahs, estuaries, coastal fisheries and other habitats that recycle air, water and nutrients for all living creatures are being irretrievably damaged. In effect, one species is now a hazard to the other 10 million or so on the planet, and to itself. …


Ah but there was the Pope business to worry about, and Michael Jackson, and Tom DeLay and John Bolton, and…

I guess it’s all a matter of priorities.

Thank God men cannot fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth. - Henry David Thoreau

Nope. Done that.

The sun, the moon and the stars would have disappeared long ago... had they happened to be within the reach of predatory human hands. - Havelock Ellis, The Dance of Life, 1923

Working in it.

It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment. - Ansel Adams

The old Lakota was wise. He knew that man's heart away from nature becomes hard; he knew that lack of respect for growing, living things soon led to lack of respect for humans too. - Chief Luther Standing Bear


Actual size...
Venice California - April 21, 2005


Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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