Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “environmentalist”

$10 a Gallon

Before the vacation, I suggested in a post, Changing The World, focusing on 10 actions that will make significant and sustainable change in our world.  Here is my first attempt.

I was walking with a friend down a main street in 2005 and asked him whether we would ever have true peace and what it would take. We passed under the price sign for a gas station, which was showing that gas prices had just gone above $2/ gallon and everyone was shocked.

imgres

My friend shocked me when he replied that America would only be safe when we begin paying $10/gallon at the pumps. Now you should know three things:

  1. My friend is very smart.
  2. My friend is an environmentalist.
  3. We were much closer to 9/11 than we are now.

I fill a gas tank six times a month: so with prices above four dollars I am not a happy driver. The number on my monthly budget spreadsheet has ballooned. So why am I advocating for $10/gallon?

First, the only reason I am not focusing on public transportation is that for many it is not relevant. We need to get around during our workday. We need to avoid looking disheveled and sweaty – I love the bike-share initiatives popping up all over the place – but they are simply not practical for many. Neither do I have the time to coordinate a car share schedule, much as I admire the idea. So I am stuck with needing a car near me.

imgres-1

I understand when we use certain technologies because there is no alternative. But there is an alternative now. The growth of hybrid cars, the electric car and other alternatives are all becoming common place. One of the most positive outcomes of the reinvention of the American car industry is the move towards gas-efficient cars. The Japanese, we all acknowledge, are years ahead of us.

But what if we truly laid a foundation for electric car by converting gas stations into recharging docks and, instead of one lane for hybrid cars during rush hour, it was the opposite? What if we taxed heavily the import and domestic production of non-electric cars?

And what if we raised gas to $10/gallon?

images-2My motivation is two-fold. I believe much of our foreign policy is designed to protect our domestic energy needs. Wars are fought and countries supported with foreign aid because many are in oil-rich regions. We ignore terrible human rights abuse in these and other oil-rich countries. The connection between global terror and oil are clear and our dependency makes us vulnerable.

The second reason is simply that the earth cannot sustain the effects of our oil dependency. In a sense, it is already taking steps to prevent us destroying it as supply dries up and the environmental impact, both of global warming and regional disasters, become greater.

What makes this so frustrating is that the alternative technologies are out there and I am left with the feeling that they are being held back. Why? Because a lot of people still stand to make a lot of money.

I do not care to prioritize the millionaires of today over the abilities of my children and grandchildren to live in a sustainable and healthy environment.

Government can turn this around with three easy steps:

1) Tax conventional cars (both domestic and imported).

2) Invest in a structure to sustain electric and other energy efficient cars

3) Raise gas prices to $10 – it may well go a long way to financing the change.

—————————————————————————————————–

Alon Shalev writes social justice-themed novels and YA epic fantasy. He swears there is a connection. His latest books include: Unwanted Heroes and the 2013 Eric Hoffer Book Award for YA – At The Walls Of Galbrieth. Alon tweets at @alonshalevsf and @elfwriter. For more about the author, check ouhis website.

The IRS “Scandal” – Tom Rossi

Bigger than the planet Jupiter! Heavier than the Sun! More important than World War II, the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, and Justin Bieber’s monkey problems, combined!

The “IRS scandal” is more in need of a cure than cancer. The Republicans and Tea Party types are pulling out their hair, running around in circles as if their hair were on fire, and screaming, “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” Oh, how I’m enjoying the irony after years of hearing that environmentalists were “alarmists.”

beck_lederhosen_answer_2_xlarge

Not that this isn’t a serious issue, potentially. It would be pretty scary if the IRS could be used as a political tool. Just think of what that will mean the next time the pendulum swings back the Republican way. And, by the way, the same thing DID happen, in “reverse,” (and much worse) under the Bush administration. You can read all about it here.

But the key people at the IRS, at the time of the scandal, were either non-political appointments, or were appointed by President George W. Bush. For one thing, that tells me that they would be quite willing to tell us if they had been under pressure from President Obama to act in a certain way. But they aren’t saying that.

So then, one of two explanations must apply…

The first possibility is that these people at the IRS where doing their job. Who is more likely to cheat on their taxes than professed tax-haters? That’s one of the stated purposes of the Tea Party – activism against taxation. In addition, a tax-exempt entity must follow certain rules, among which being that any political activities undertaken must be in somewhat clear support of the group’s mission statement and, “We Hate Obama” is not an acceptable mission statement (nor is “We Hate Bush,” for that matter).

The second possibility is that this was the realization of a conspiracy against President Obama. The Republicans have been searching, waiting, and hoping for a “Monica Lewinsky” scandal that they could use to disable Obama’s presidency. People like Karl Rove don’t wait well. As one vulture said to the other, “Patience my ass. I’m going to kill something.”

smallMain_30_595

I actually think that the first possibility is more likely. The people who work for the IRS are very serious, boring, accounting-types. And the newer employees were essentially being tested on their ability to weed out those non-profit applicants that were pushing the rules a little too hard.

Some might raise a red flag, reminding us that big corporations and the super-wealthy get away with murder on their tax returns. This is true. But big corporations and the super-wealthy are powerful entities in this country. Powerful enough, in fact, that they don’t simply have to follow the law, they make laws. When they claim that they didn’t break any laws on their tax returns, they are mostly telling the truth. The corruption happened much further up the line. They have legalized their own tax cheating.

So, we have another hoax. And by “another,” I’m not referring to global warming which is, most unfortunately, real. I’m talking about things that supposedly prove a president is unfit to govern – things like the Lewinsky fiasco. This mainly happens because half of President Obama’s policies, like the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (now known universally as Obamacare) are actually what most of the people want, while the policies that aggravate the left, like continuing the permanent war doctrine, are things the Republicans want. So there’s nothing real that they can complain about and get any traction.

tumblr_mh5k2jX94K1r1ct6ao1_400

So it goes. We are evidently incapable of having real discussions, in politics or in the media, about real issues. So we scream about haircuts and drinks of water and birth certificates, instead. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to seek some more intelligent entertainment. I think “Teletubbies” might be on the cartoon channel.

teletubbies_main

-Tom Rossi

___________________________________________________________________________

Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.

___________________________________________________________________________

Kicking The Oil Addiction

As an environmentalist who drives around in a car for 2-3 hours a day, I hold my hand up and admit my hypocrisy. My job requires a car and I can justify why my family lives in one place and I work in another with a big city in between. I have made it my space – audio book, coffee, snacks – between the intensity of work and the push to get the children’s homework finished, I have a little space just for myself.

We have discussed the electric car on this blog a few times and the conspiracy theory that it is big business and oil conglomerates that have kept us pumping oil into our cars instead of cheaper, more sustainable alternatives.

imgres

Eyal Aronoff, co-founder of Fuel Freedom Foundation, fascinates me. An Israeli who is deeply committed to the US, a country that gave him everything, he is spurred by the tragic loss of two family members in the 9/11 attacks. He believes that it is not a question of technology, but politics  and it is a politics that makes the US globally vulnerable, the world choke on pollution, and keeps a small elite rich while the rest of us pay a heavy financial price.

“He finds that the lack of alternative energy sources to fuel our vehicles jeopardizes U.S. national security, bankrupts our economy and forces us to pay more at the pump. Alternative fuels, such as ethanol, methanol, natural gas and electricity, are the immediate solution to ending our nation’s oil dependency.”

“The Fuel Freedom vision seeks to reignite the American dream by encouraging competition and sparking innovation.” For more information, check out http://www.fuelfreedom.org/get-involved to understand more.

I am beginning to wonder whether it is an addiction issue. There are better models of life out there and yet many of us continue to smoke, drink, take drugs etc. Often, perfectly intelligent and functional people, make irrational decisions and build up a wall of excuses to justify it. Like the guy whose 2nd-hand smoke is killing his children and neighbors, our irrational addiction to oil is killing our planet, keeping many of us in poverty, and leading us into the next war.

It is time to kick the habit.

imgres-1

—————————————————————————————————–

Alon Shalev writes social justice-themed novels and YA epic fantasy. He swears there is a connection. His latest books include: Unwanted Heroes and At The Walls Of Galbrieth. Alon tweets at @alonshalevsf and @elfwriter.  

.

 

 

Living Without a Car in Berkeley – RhondaJo Boomington

Since moving to the Bay Area, for the first time in my life, I am living car-free. I love riding BART though I don’t particularly love AC transit and MUNI. I feel deeply grateful to live in an area that makes car free living relatively painless much of the time.

Car free (from vancitybuzz.com)

And bless the hearts of my friends, with cars, who help out occasionally with some of the heavy things I can’t negotiate without a vehicle.

In Berkeley, however, I have become accustomed to a certain degree of discrimination when people learn that I don’t have a car. Often there’s a certain look that comes across their face. A judgment.

And, incredibly, it’s often the most vocal environmentalists who seem to have this reaction.

Last year, I was at a well attended meeting at a church that I had attended regularly.  A very middle class, “oh so environmentally friendly,” progressive church who “welcomes diversity.”  A drenching rainstorm began.

I had injured my ankle that afternoon, and for the first time ever,  I asked if there was anyone who may be able to give me a ride home. I lived about a mile away.

There was absolute dead silence.

I was very wet by the time I limped home in the torrential rain.

Drenching wet (from cbsnews.com)

Maybe their disdain was simply because of my Southern accent, the fact that I’m not slim, not hip and am happily frumpy?

But now, I have witnessed similar reactions in various places – to others who live a car free life.

And, right before it went out of business , I was in the beloved Elephant Pharmacy, and my worst fears were confirmed.

While buying my monthly AC transit pass, the guy working behind the counter asked if I had a car. I said “no.” He went on a pained, quiet tirade about the discrimination he experienced in Berkeley because he didn’t own a car. And the most blatant slights seemed to be from the most fervent environmentalists.

Hmm. And – he had no accent, was quite young and slim and hip and styled perfectly for Berkeley.

I wonder why (from info.gtilite.com)

—————————————————————————————

RhondaJo Boomington is a Southern transplant from North Carolina. She landed in the haven of Berkeley six years ago and never plans to leave. Formerly a fundamentalist who voted for Jesse Helms many times, she now relishes her liberal lesbian life in the Bay Area. She has earned a J.D. and a Masters of Divinity, and  enjoys performing in the Bay Area as a stand up comedian and solo performance artist.

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: