Saturday, April 28, 2007

Mike Gravel as a democratic candidates for President

Not sure how many folks watched the April 25, 2007 democratic candidate presidential debate. I was most entertained by former 2 term U.S. Senator from Alaska Mike Gravel, who didn't hold back at all. Kind of like Al Sharpton was in the 2004 Presidential race, but less humorous. Here's a video of Gravel's comments from that debate. Wow.

Alaska State House rejects climate change mitigation opportunity

The State of Alaska Executive Administration seems to be beginning to take climate change seriously with its creation of a sub-cabinet level group to recommend ways to reduce carbon emissions.

This goal is what House Concurrent Resolution 56 asked the governor to do, only the Legislature passed this resolution in 1989. There has been no action taken on this during the past 18 years. At the time, I had proposed a blue ribbon commission, but HCR 56 is what it turned into.

The Alaska House of Representatives no longer seems concerned about reducing climate change when they have a chance. Reggie Joule's Alaska Climate Impact Assessment Commission thus far refuses to do more than talk about the impacts and how to deal with the impacts from such things as coastal communities flooding, changing patterns of game, forest fires, pest infestation, permafrost and polar ice caps melting. They don't actually want to recommend anything to prevent these things from happening.

And last week, the House passed HB 229 to provide up to $2.6 billion in tax free bonds to transport coal to the Kenai for gasification, while defeating an amendment by Rep. Les Gara to insure that this increased coal burning would be at least no more harmful than the alternatives. Interestingly, the text of HB 299 justifies these bonds on the basis of being for an essential public and governmental purpose.

The final bill passed unanimously. And so onward to the Senate for its consideration.

Some legislators argue it wasn't the right vehicle to do something on climate change, but there's always some reason. Let's just get started. The longer we wait, the more it will cost to mitigate, with implications only starting to be considered.. Even China is starting to act. Of course they did sign the Kyoto Accord, not like us.

And to follow it up, a number of lawmakers and the governor are opposing listing the polar bear as endangered, as the polar bear habitat on the sea ice is diminishing. They are afraid it would slow oil and gas development, but so grasp at the false assertion that the science doesn't demonstrate the iconic bears and a candidate for the state quarter aren't at risk. Another assertion is that the Endangered Species Act is the wrong vehicle to address climate change. Folks, we need to use whatever tools we have - you've provided no other. And as if we don't get enough bad national press from hunting wolves ....

Years from now, the younger generations will be asking "What WERE they thinking?".

Friday, April 06, 2007

IPCC report out

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) just completed the Fourth Assessment Report on Climate Change entitled: Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. This international conglomeration of governments and esteemed scientists from around the world continue to document why the world needs to get off its collective butt to mitigate climate change. If we don't, the cost of adapting is going to be much greater and disruptive to societies.

The next two reports, due out later this year, will start to address the harder issues: policy to actually do something. It's about time.

Monday, April 02, 2007

EPA can regulate CO2 emissions

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the EPA does have the authority to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant, particularly for cars. The EPA and some states had argued they had no business doing so. This sets the stage for the U.S. to begin to reduce our CO2 emissions, a contributor to climate change, but probably not until Bush's presidency (the long nightmare) is over.

In the meantime, this Friday, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will be issuing the second report on climate change. This one is specific toward discussing the impacts from climate change.
James McCarthy, a renown oceanographer and house master of Phorzheimer House at Harvard University, was quoted as saying the more extreme impacts probably wouldn't happen, as we would get a handle on the problems - we're not that stupid. Your opinion?

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Alaska taking step forward or backwards in civil rights

Alaskans go to the polls April 3 to vote in an expensive one issue advisory vote regarding benefits for those partners and dependents that are not the traditional married one man-one woman vote.

I want to thank Reps. John Coghill and Mike Kelly for their hard work and willingness to spend a paltry $1.2 million of state funds for the important task of asking all Alaskans if they want to enshrine bigotry against those “unconventional couples” in the Alaska Constitution, denying those couples and dependents from receiving health and other benefits of gainful employment.

Their efforts have brought many of all stripes together to oppose this vote on April 3 and I’ve appreciated the diversity and chance to get together with good folks.

To be honest, I never really paid much attention to their marital status — we were just people. My wife and I have been "conventionally" married for 30 years, but I feel as threatened by the proposed constitutional amendment as if we were (horrors) "unconventional". I always thought a constitution was to give rights, not take them away.

There is an irony in Rep. Kelly being so eager to deny rights to those who don’t think like him. As one who plays Irish music, I sometimes sing about the discrimination Irish immigrants faced in America — "No Irish Need Apply". How ready some are to deny others those same rights they had to fight for.

Years later, we will look upon this as we did women’s and civil rights — what were we thinking? I hope a resounding “no” vote from the people will put an end to this.

Here's a link to HJR 9 - the current legislative language for the proposed constitutional amendment. It's actually quite a bit different than the April 3 ballot language. Here's where to keep track of its progress.

I also wrote a blog entry back in December on this issue.

Some articles and opinions

April 1, 2007
Letters to the Editor
Rep. Mike Doogan opinion article
Anchorage Daily News article
Anchorage Daily News opinion

March 31, 2007
News article in the Daily Newsminer
Another news article about the legislative proposal itself, which the proponents aren't even waiting to see what the advisory vote says.
News article on Rep. Kelly trying to sway the vote, using his legislative office. Interesting that the governor didn't feel comfortable telling Alaskans how to vote, but Kelly does. His opinion article April 1 says essentially what was in the letter, which you can view here.
Letters to the Editor

March 29, 2007
Letters to the Editor
More Letters to the Editor

March 28, 2007
Letters to the Editor

March 27, 2007
Letters to the Editor

March 26, 2007
Opinion by Mary Bishop
Letters to the Editor

March 25, 2007
Opinion by Jean Laurencelle
Letters to the Editor

March 24, 2007
Letters to the Editor

March 23, 2007
Letters to the Editor

March 21, 2007
Letters to the Editor

March 20, 2007
Dermot Cole idea on banning divorce
Coghill's opinion AGAIN, for what it is worth. He feels so threatened. I'm not sure that those unconventional couples realized what power they have.

March 18, 2007
Katherine Gouyton opinion
Coghill's opinion