Archive for July 2009
If you thought Rupert Murdoch was serious when he promised to maintain the editorial integrity of the Wall Street Journal, consider this: The “cash-for-clunkers” program was so popular all the money allotted for it by the Treasury Dept was claimed within days. The Journal’s headline on this story? “Cash for Clunkers Runs Out of Gas.”
Here’s the NYT’s story:
Green groups sued to ban motorized rafts and helicopters from the Grand Canyon, arguing, as reported in the NY Times,
that the use of motorized rafts on the Colorado River and helicopters to make passenger exchanges impairs the wilderness character of the park and that the National Park Service violated its management policies and federal law by allowing their continued use.
I don’t know what the NPS management policies are, but I’ve rafted the Grand Canyon twice and from what I saw there were definitely people down there on motorboats who wouldn’t have made the trip otherwise. Oar and paddleboats can be harrowing to say the least when running the Canyon’s huge and fast rapids, and are more dangerous by virtue of their smaller size and reduced power capability. I can only assume that helicopters provide similar access; the way down, from the most touristed part of the Canyon, is a long, steep hike with virtually no shade that’s hell on the knees. And people have died on other routes.
I say it’s worth it to get more people to see this unique natural wonder–the Canyon from its bottom provides a completely different perspective than the one from the rim–and that with the size of motorboats they can get a lot of people on with relatively little noise disturbance. Helicopters can be set on certain flight paths and their landing areas limited so as few visitors as possible see them.
What do you think?
Obviously influenced by my brilliant post last week (that’s a joke), Sens. Barbara Boxer and John Kerry have responded to Sarah Palin’s ridiculously erroneous op-ed in last Friday’s Washington Post. The Post caught a lot of flak for publishing this piece of garbage without qualification or apparent fact-checking, and seems now to be trying to make journalistic amends.
Well, he did–but now Obama has put it to a stop.
James Hansen, the NASA scientist who developed the first computer models of climate change, was excoriated as a Cassandra by fake think-thanks funded by the fossil-fuels industry and silenced by the Bush administration, and proved to be overly optimistic in his projections, says we need to shut down every coal plant as fast as humanly possible. Here’s how to keep them generating power: burn biomass. The challenge is generating the fuel without deforestation but with switchgrass and non-forested areas of limited agricultural use it can be done without putting pressure on food prices either.
Here’s one way to immediately reduce the expense of converting to renewables: generate your own power. Germany has had in effect for a decade or so, as Dan Rather reported [opens iTunes], a means of getting paid for excess energy you generate with home solar panels. Now the idea is spreading to the US. Bonus: The law in Germany kick-started an industry making the panels, so this works as economic stimulus as well.
The LA Times reports on another reason California’s largely agricultural Central Valley should start farming solar power instead, as I wrote a couple weeks back. The president and COO of an algae-biomass company sent me a message about the piece, saying the idea would be best suited for about 25% of the valley. That would still power 50 million homes.