homes underwater

Lets talk a second about sea level rise with climate change and how many homes ($800 Billion worth) are literally going to be under water by the turn of the century.

I remember reading an article a year or two ago about a town in North Carolina where politics deep-sixed a study that showed that all of their homes would be under water by the end of the century. After they killed the report, all future studies were limited to only 30 years. So for now, their real estate is A-Ok.

But, if you think about it, there are two organizations that don’t care about real estate holdings in the same way : insurance companies and banks. They can’t doubt science, they need to account for it and their risk analysis departments need to consider flooding in coastal areas. And the insurance industry seem to be taking flooding very seriously, you can easily see that it’s almost impossible to get flood insurance now. How much longer do you think it will take for the banks to stop giving 30 year mortgages?

And it will only take one or two banks to start this process. Once the idea gets out that financing these properties over long periods of time is too risky all the other banks will most likely follow along because banks are very risk averse.

As more and more banks decline to loan for beachfront properties over long periods it’s going to be a very quick domino effect and soon nobody will do it. And then real estate that at one point was valued in the millions immediately goes to almost 0 as nobody can get a loan to buy it.

But even if this doesn’t happen as I’m imagining it, how long do you think it will take people who own coastal property to lose confidence in the coming market and sell before its too late? All it will take is one nice storm and some serious flooding. Or one report from someone saying that flooding is inevitable. And then the bottom of the market is going to drop. And it will drop fast and far.

When will the tipping point occur?

Apple, China and You

A few months ago I saw a one man monologue in New York by a guy named Mike Daisy. It was called “The Agony and The Ecstasy of Steve Jobs“. The show was amazing. Over a number of fast moving hours Daisy intercut the story of Apple and the story of where and how Apple (and other electronic) products are manufactured. Robots you say? No. Too expensive. Everything is made by hand. It’s an incredible story and it changed my perspective.

The show closed and I was really bummed since I wanted to tell people to see it. Interestingly enough it seems that he’s bringing it back. I highly recommend it.

Luckily for you Ira Glass, the host of “This American Life” saw the show as well and was equally moved. He had Daisy perform an abridged version of the show focusing mostly on the China aspect and then did an analysis of its claims (all validated). I urge you to give the show a listen. It really is a great story.

The show is number 454 and can be found here.

You can do it

Is this where we are headed?
I am discouraged today. I’ve actually felt this way for a number of years now. It’s been so long I can’t even remember when it began, but that’s not really important. What is important if for you to know why I feel this way. It’s important to me that you read this and think about what I’ve said and do something, anything, as a result. Comment, pass this along, tell others in person… I don’t care, just do something. Because the lack of anyone doing anything is what has me so discouraged.

If you look back at this blog and other places where I post things (facebook, my news feed, twitter, etc.) you will see that the majority of things I post about are things that are wrong with the world (particularly America) politically and socially. I know ‘wrong’ here is biased towards my own beliefs but I really feel that my perspective is general enough that any reasonable person exposed to the things I post would feel similar to how I do. But in all this time I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve felt that anyone has responded in a serious way to anything I’ve posted.

And this is what discourages me. Every day I read or learn something new that makes me want to scream out in anger or frustration. Every day I have to take a moment and ask myself, what can I do to make the world a place where things like this don’t happen again? So I post, and I donate to causes and I participate in politics by voting, and I genuinely think about how things affect the greater good. But it doesn’t change anything. And that inertia tends to make me more depressed. So I start to just give up and say ‘fuck it, if people would rather care more about mindless shit, then they deserve to get what they get’. We deserve the America we live in right now. The one where our liberties have been eroded in the name of security. The one where we can’t afford to educate our children because of wars we’re fighting for possibly flimsy reasons. The one where we have floods and tornados and odd weather every day and yet we deny that global warming is real. And on and on.

But I can’t sit back and do that anymore. In the last 2 years myself and many of my close friends have had their first children. So now instead of just saying “I’m dead in 60 years, it can’t get that bad”, we’re all now forced to say “what kind of world will our children inherit? And what about their children?”. Now things matter even more, and yet, I can see no change at all.

So what do I want? What would a perfect world be like from my perspective? What would I want you to do? It’s simple really. I want two things. First I want many people (many of the people I know) to take 10-15 minutes a day to read things that I (and other trusted friends) post and talk about. I want this because I don’t post things that are time-wasters. In my perfect world you all would trust that. Second I want you all to be motivated by the things I post to actually do something on your own. Maybe write about what you read, or talk to friends and family, or vote for candidates that support views that coincide with positions you read about, or maybe even debate with me the merits of what I post. In short I want you to take some time to react to what I post.

I can see why you don’t. We are constantly barraged with stimulus. And most of it has the effect of making us feel ok. Why allow ourselves to willingly feel bad about our world when we can so easily feel good about it? We are wired to suppress bad feelings and our media, our very lifestyle enables us to follow that path so easily. So I know it’s hard. But it’s so important to fight that urge to take the ‘soma’ and take a look at the world without our rose colored glasses. You don’t need to do it all the time, just once and a while. Please, I am literally begging you. We as a society are already failing because of ambivalence. Don’t let us fail completely!

Film Production and Global Warming

I don’t have the time to look up the reference right now but I read somewhere recently (think it was a blurb in The Week) that film production was an incredibly huge contributer to the greenhouse effect and a huge waster of natural resources. I think it was listed as the 2nd worst offender nationwide… Apparently the generators and trucks and electricity usage really take their toll..

In either case, I was thinking that actors and directors (many of who are hard core environmentalists) could easily begin to effect change in this arena by simply refusing to work on films that don’t take an active stance on being c-neutral. I’m sure it wouldn’t take much to force producers and studios to start thinking about their energy usage and it would be a really good way for these celebs to use their clout for good..


If you haven’t seen the cover of the Daily News today, the headline was huge and it read “Massacre at the Navy Yard”. In some ways I was happy to see it. I was expecting some super sensationalized story about our upcoming snow storm.. but instead some real news appears to have made it to the cover. On the other hand I ask you a simple question: How many dead would constitute a “massacre”? Although there is no number mentioned in the dictionary (or web searches for the definition), one thing appears common and that is that the killing is savage (ie. with a machete as was done in Rwanda) and that it occurs on many people.

Neither of these things happened at the Navy Yard last night. 3 people were killed with gunfire by a man who ended up shooting himself. That makes 4 dead total (but only 3 murdered).

Why do I care? Because this is a symptom of what is wrong in the media today. Every story has to be attention grabbing and has to seem important so papers can be sold and tv news programs can get more ratings.. It’s all about money and no more about the story. This is having a very negative affect on our society in that people are not able to discriminate on their own what is important and what isn’t.

I read something the other day that speaks to this (in a sense). As you all know, the world is in agreement now that global warming is real and that we caused it. But did you know that some scientists are saying that if we stopped all carbon emissions right now, there is nothing we could do to stop it? Some believe (and maybe more in the future) that we have passed the point of no return on this. If true, that would mean that we should have been doing something about global warming 20 years ago and not now. Who’s fault is this? It’s ours of course. Our media didn’t use it’s enormous motivating power to raise awareness of this issue when it was important and so we (being the type that only process data that is spoon fed to us by them) did nothing.

There is a movie I just saw by Mike Judge (Idiocracy) that wasn’t great in most traditional ways but made a point that was horrifying. The future (in this case 500 years from now) could turn out to be a very, very lame place, where the average IQ is under 100 and people are just illiterate, clueless slaves to the world they have created. Happy with their TV and fast food… It’s really shockingly plausible.

And yea, we can’t fix it in one place and everything is interconnected. I know that. But the thing is that we can change the world by changing ourselves. If everyone began to simply question the world and the media and their government just a little bit, if everyone would simply wonder a bit more about things, if everyone could be a tiny bit more creative and think of conspiracies (even though they may not exist).. maybe that would be the catalyst that we need to turn the world around and get on the path to a positive future.. maybe.

We’re fucked man

So. Is it possible to be happy about the world we live in today? I’m not sure.. Everything seems so fucked up. I write about here all the time.. I wonder if maybe I think this way because I’m critical of the world and if I just put on my happy person blinders and gave in to society I would feel a lot better. If I wanted to I could come up with 10 fucked up stories a day and post them here. Here’s one. Here’s another. I mean, it’s like shooting fish in a barrel. When I was younger, the world was full of promise. The future was a place we wanted to get to.. Now, the future scares me. Well, actually it used to scare me. I’ve become resolved to our demise. Now I look forward to the decay of our civilization. I look forward to the day when people look back and say “what the hell have we done?”.. or maybe that day will never come. Maybe we will simply forget our potential and become complacent in our mediocrity.

Will we ever start treating each other as equals? Will we ever give up the endless pursuit of pointless things? Will we ever decide as a species to improve ourselves? Will we ever stop and realize that we could be doing so much more? Will we ever stop killing? Will we ever stop exploiting? Will we ever care for our planet? Will we ever think beyond the next earnings cycle? Or the next election?

I sure don’t think so.

PA is becomming a green state

You know.. Usually when I think of politics I get depressed. There’s almost never any good news. I can say, however that Pennsylvania (my home state) seems to be getting greener faster than most others. There was the Peco Wind program that I talked about a while back, there is the solar panels on the roof of the governers mansion, and now there is this really cool new set of emission standards that will make PA one of the few states in the nation with standards as high as California. I’m impressed and I have to say: Good job PA!

I’ve another thing to say for the local media who haven’t covered this story at all for some reason. If you look at the link I included, you’ll see it came from the AP wire and not a local reporter.. For that I have to say : Bad job local media!

Smart Receptacles

In my world people want to have as much (or as little) information as possible. This totally applies to our energy usage. I know that I came up with the idea a while back to have a personal power meter to help us monitor our energy usage. My new idea comes from a dialog I had with a friend about this very subject. It may in fact be his idea, I’m not shore which of us came up with it. But that’s not important. The important thing is to get the idea out there to the world.

So. With that said, here is our idea. The concept of monitoring electricity usage in total is a good one, but it would be more useful to know how much energy our appliances were using in isolation. This way you could know that your dishwasher was working ok, but your TV (suprisingly enough) was using a ton of power as you left it on all day not watching.The

idea is to create outlets that sense power usage and then to be able to monitor the outlets using the same software I proposed in the previous article. We all know that transmitting Ethernet is possible over powerlines so it would only take a little engineering to add in a network interface to these new “smart receptacles”. Then you would have power usage info, by outlet and in total for your entire house. How cool would that be?

Whoever makes these outlets will undoutably make a fortune as the green wave overtakes our lives. They can certainly reward me as they see fit for the idea.

The Eastern Garbage Patch

Global warming isn’t the only thing that’s killing this planet. Another controllable and sad process that we are causing is marine trash pollution. What if I told you that there is a literal island of plastic trash in the Pacific Ocean that is the size (and I’m not joking here) of Texas? Plastic in the ocean kills 40% of the young Ablatross Chicks in the same region:

The albatross chick jumped to its feet, eyes alert and focused. At 5 months, it stood 18 inches tall and was fully feathered except for the fuzz that fringed its head.

All attitude, the chick straightened up and clacked its beak at a visitor, then rocked back and dangled webbed feet in the air to cool them in the afternoon breeze.

The next afternoon, the chick ignored passersby. The bird was flopped on its belly, its legs splayed awkwardly. Its wings drooped in the hot sun. A few hours later, the chick was dead.

John Klavitter, a wildlife biologist, turned the bird over and cut it open with a knife. Probing its innards with a gloved hand, he pulled out a yellowish sac — its stomach.

Out tumbled a collection of red, blue and orange bottle caps, a black spray nozzle, part of a green comb, a white golf tee and a clump of tiny dark squid beaks ensnared in a tangle of fishing line.

“This is pretty typical,” said Klavitter, who is stationed at the atoll for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “We often find cigarette lighters, bucket handles, toothbrushes, syringes, toy soldiers — anything made out of plastic.”

It’s all part of a tide of plastic debris that has spread throughout the world’s oceans, posing a lethal hazard to wildlife, even here, more than 1,000 miles from the nearest city.

And it’s not only the seagulls, it’s other marine animals and birds and it’s almost all caused by discarded plastic items. This is simply sad. According to the same article from the LA Times, 80% of marine trash washes into the ocean from our streets and on the land here. That’s simply litter that we didn’t care to dispose of properly.
The article goes on to say that most all of the plastic that made it into the ocean over the past 50 years is still floating around somewhere. It simply doesn’t compose. So what can we do? First off, I’m not a fan of recycling because it simply doesn’t work in the current context of our economy. No matter how much plastic we recycle, new plastic will still be created. If we were serious about taking care of the planet we would stop making new plastic entirely. All plastic then could be recycled and reused. That to me makes sense.

Also, we should (as best we can) fight the wasteful packaging of items. You know what I’m talking about here. You buy a simple tiny thing and it ends up being delivered in 5 metric tons of plastic for no good reason. Blister packs, boxes, etc. A mess and we can figt it by selectively boycotting stuff.. Surely there is always another version of something. This country does not lack for choice.

But even easier is the fact that we can stop littering. It seems simple, but it is a huge issue. My goodness, I see it all the time. People just dropping their trash to the ground without a care in the world. What is wrong with these people? We have to stop littering, how hard is that? How much of an inconvenience is that?

Man.. To think if we would just have a congress or a president that actually cared about the environment. I’m not having kids, but a lot of people are and the world they are leaving them is one sorry place and the worst part of it all is that its all our doing.