Archive for January 6th, 2009

In an editorial published yesterday, the Austin American Statesman agrees:  Texas needs to take the lead on climate change.

And I quote (bold my own),

…sea levels could rise by 4 feet by 2100 – versus the 1.5 feet predicted by a United Nations panel on climate change. That’s a warning that ought to be taken seriously now – especially along the Texas coast.

Unfortunately, it appears Texas government will try to ignore the problem of climate change. Gov. Rick Perry, digging in his boot heels, seems to admit only grudgingly that climate change is occurring, never mind that science has concluded that it is being driven by humankind’s use of fuels that produce carbon dioxide – coal, oil and natural gas, primarily.

Perry says potential federal legislation to begin limiting carbon dioxide production could harm the Texas economy. But drought and rising sea levels won’t? Texas needs to find a way to take the lead on this problem, not try to pretend it will go away.

Well done, Statesman editorial board.  You make us proud.

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tvTelevision sets use about 4% of household power nation-wide, and the newest flat screens are even bigger power suckers — LCD screens use 43% more power than the old tube TV models.  Despite this situation, government efficiency testing standards for televisions haven’t been updated since Leave It to Beaver appeared in black and white.  Energy Star, a voluntary labeling system developed by the EPA, uses modern efficiency tests, but Energy Guide, the mandatory Department of Energy labeling program, still uses standards from the era of Lucy and Ricky in separate twin beds.

In order to confront this problem, California has once again stepped to the forefront.  According to Kate Galbraith at Green, Inc:

California regulators are drafting rules mandating that retailers stock only the most energy-efficient TVs, according to The Times. The program would start in 2011, with a more stringent standard coming into effect in 2013.

Industry, of course, objects:

The proposal is running into resistance from the Consumer Electronics Association and other industry representatives. One retailer told the Los Angeles Times that efficiency standards would “kill dealerships,” because Californians would search the Internet for less-efficient TVs, and get them shipped into California.

I’m sorry, but that argument is completely ridiculous.  And I’ve heard it before.  Remember when the auto industry resisted efficiency measures and stricter environmental standards that would have forced them to create a better product, and then foreign companies did just that and stole all their business?  And then domestic auto companies couldn’t keep their businesses afloat anymore and had to ask the government for a bailout? I remember that, because it just happened.

I’m really tired of industry bellyaching about efficiency and environmental standards that would make them create better products.  All this California amendment would say is, we want our consumers to be provided the most innovative, efficient products on the market.  There are already over 100 models that would keep up with their proposed standards.  Industry reps are just upset that their inefficient, energy sucking TVs won’t make the cut.  Sorry, but it isn’t California’s fault you created a sub-par product.

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John Broder at The New York Times reports:

“With the designation of the world’s largest marine reserve in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands in 2006, and now these three other sites, George W. Bush has done more to protect unique areas of the world’s oceans than any other person in history,” said Joshua Reichert, managing director of the Pew Environmental Group.

Wow.  Maybe after eight years I have low expectations, but that’s not something I expected to hear at any point in my life this morning.  Turns out our outgoing lame duck president has decided to do something positive with his last remaining days. Today Bush is set to designate over 195, 280 square miles of “American-controlled Pacific Ocean islands, reefs, surface waters and sea floor as marine national monuments.”

06oceans_600Apparently the islands are remote and for the most part, uninhabited.  The article reports, however, that there was some opposition to the designation by commercial and recreational fishing groups, as well as government officials from the nearby Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands who feared potentially negative commercial impacts.

The article continues,

The islands, atolls, reefs and underwater mountain ranges offer unique habitat to hundreds of rare species of birds and fish. Among them are tropicbirds, boobies, frigate birds, terns, noddies, petrels, shearwaters and albatrosses, according to environmental groups who pushed for the protection. It is also the habitat of the rare Micronesian megapode, a bird that incubates its eggs using subterranean volcanic heat.

Yay! I love frigate birds.  My favorite part of this story, however, is how America came to control this land in the first place.  I’m a big history nerd, so you’ll have to bear with me as I geek out.  You see kiddoes, in 1856 we passed the Guano Island Act, a law that allowed sea captains to just claim any islands that were rich in guano.  This encouraged sailors to seek out the poopy-est islands possible and claim them in the name of America.  These rock solid legal claims kept those lands under our dominance for over 150 years.  Weird.

Anyway, thank you Bush, for protecting these lands as a final parting shot.  This is a welcome change from your other last minute presidential actions, such as auctioning off public lands in Utah to oil and gas drilling letting his EPA administrator make up bogus rules.

UPDATE:  Looks like I spoke too soon: Bush’s One Last Blow to the Environment

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