Saturday, May 30, 2009

CHEAT OFFSETTING ???



At last, some humor in the climate debate.
Whatever you think of cap-and-trade you can
bet that CheatNeutral.com could go viral.
But just like with the real thing the question
is who will benefit?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

WHITE IS WONDERFUL

White Houses

Steven Chu, the US Secretary of Energy and a Nobel prize-winning scientist, said yesterday that making roofs and pavements white or light-colored ... would be the equivalent of taking all the cars in the world off the road for 11 years.

"Now you smile, but if you look at all the buildings and make all the roofs white, and if you make the pavement a more concrete-type of colour than a black-type of colour, and you do this uniformly... It's the equivalent of reducing the carbon emissions due to all the cars in the world by 11 years," he said.

"It's like you've just taken them off the road for 11 years. It's actually geoengineering."

Read the full article at The Independent.

AMAZON PINK DOLPHIN

Boto Rosa

In the folklore of Amazônia the boto rosa is an encantado, a shape-shifting enchanting spirit that can appear among the people and cause a lot of mischief (as in the Fortaleza 2006 theater photo above).

Now, the real thing is the subject of a marvelous photo essay in National Geographic and an article that unravels the mystery of why the males are pink. Great photos and a neat story.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

BORED NO MORE
0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,
0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,
0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,
0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,
0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,
0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0

Click on any
'0' to start and keep clicking.
WARNING: HIGHLY ADDICTIVE

"This visual musical synthesizer by Andre Michelle is awesome... It's incredibly simple, effective and provides instant positive feedback in that almost nothing you do will produce an awful bit of music."

Friday, May 22, 2009

GOOD WORDS FROM PAUL HAWKEN

Paul Hawken -- environmentalist, entrepreneur, journalist, and author -- recently gave a commencement address to the Class of 2009 at the University of Portland. The speech is full of good words but this paragraph really struck me as going to the core:

The living world is not “out there” somewhere, but in your heart. What do we know about life? In the words of biologist Janine Benyus, life creates the conditions that are conducive to life. I can think of no better motto for a future economy. We have tens of thousands of abandoned homes without people and tens of thousands of abandoned people without homes. We have failed bankers advising failed regulators on how to save failed assets. Think about this: we are the only species on this planet without full employment. Brilliant. We have an economy that tells us that it is cheaper to destroy earth in real time than to renew, restore, and sustain it. You can print money to bail out a bank but you can’t print life to bail out a planet. At present we are stealing the future, selling it in the present, and calling it gross domestic product. We can just as easily have an economy that is based on healing the future instead of stealing it. We can either create assets for the future or take the assets of the future. One is called restoration and the other exploitation. And whenever we exploit the earth we exploit people and cause untold suffering. Working for the earth is not a way to get rich, it is a way to be rich.

Read the full speech here and there's more about Paul Hawken here.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Dimitri Depaepe HDR




HDR means High Dynamic Range imaging and Dimitri Depaepe is clearly a master.




YES! These are actually photographs. Want to see more? You can scroll through over 400 breathtakingly spectacular images at Dimitri's Flickriver.

Undoubtedly, there are many treasures to be discovered -- there are about one million photos at Flickr tagged with HDR -- but right now the consistently delicious and imaginative images of Dimitri Depaepe are at the top of my list.
GETTING REAL

Obama getting real

As they say, governing is a lot different than campaigning. After the initial honeymoon infatuations, it is now apparent that promises are yielding to pragmatics and compromises almost across-the-board.

Here are two assessments that seem worthy of serious consideration: Paul Krugman on climate change legislation and Andrew Sullivan on the wars. What strikes me most is how easy it was to take a clear and righteous stand against the absurdities of the Bush-Cheney years and how difficult the choices appear as Obama gets real.

[UPDATES -- 22 may 2009: The first US Climate legislation cleared one of committees of the House last night. Grist has a review of the reactions to this historic legislation. There's also an excellent outline of the various positions of agreement and disagreement being staked out among US environmentalists. And, while still hoping for the improvement, treehugger notes that US Political Will and Scientific Recommendations Rapidly Drifting Apart.

Sullivan's blog The Daily Dish is all over the torture-Gitmo-security-vs-liberty debate. Here's a summary of reactions to yesterday's dueling Obama and Cheney speeches.]

Thursday, May 14, 2009

PEACE IS EVERY STEP

IMG_0623-1

Last weekend, at the time of the full moon, the Vesak festivals around the world celebrated the birth, enlightenment and the passing away of Gautama Buddha. I wanted to honor the time with the photo above, which is of a statue of some deity in the Chicago Art Institute seeming (to me at least) to be stepping out of the illusion, and out of the path of endless suffering (maybe even signaling, "no, don't go there").

But ancient art and a clever photo did not seem as enough so I read more about Vesak at Wikipedia and came upon this final entry:

Vesak in Vietnam

In 1963, the South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem, a Catholic and younger brother of Archbishop Ngo Dinh Thuc banned the flying of the Buddhist flag. This led to a demonstration, flag-waving in defiance of the ban and the Hue Vesak shootings as Diem's forces opened fire on the Buddhist crowd, killing nine, sparking the Buddhist crisis and a period of non-violent civil disobedience by the monks.


Wow, that sure brought back memories. Not only memories. I thought also of how it's all exploding again under a different set of labels in Afghanistan and Pakistan and elsewhere as the endless path of intolerance continues. And that led me, through the miracle of the Internet and YouTube, to one of the Vietnamese monks from the 60's -- Thich Nhat Hanh -- who today is perhaps the greatest living teacher of peace on earth and who is world-renown for his "engaged Buddhism" and "meditation in action."

If you care to be touched, please watch this extraordinary video...



Peace is every step
The shining red sun is my heart
Each flower smiles with me
How green, how fresh they all grow
How cool the wind blows
Peace is every step
It turns the endless path to dust



Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A CHILLING EFFECT

IT CHILLS ME FOR SURE that today Obama reversed his previous decision to release the torture photos, saying the images could "further inflame anti-American opinion." My first reaction is to agree with Xeni Jardin at boingboing who said, "What BS. You know what will help dampen those flames? An end to war crimes impunity, and the dawn of that true transparency he promised America during his presidential campaign."


The story is all over the media and, of course, the opinions and interpretations are multiplying as well. I am grateful for the possibility that some courageous journalists and bloggers like Andrew Sullivan will hold Obama's toes to the fire of public scrutiny.

It's understandable that releasing new evidence of the widespread torture and abuse policy of Bush and Cheney, including techniques that were tailored specifically against Muslims, could inflame the populations of Iraq and Afghanistan, the two newest military theaters for the US. On the brink of what may be a brutal summer in all theaters in a war whose purpose is now opaque, one can understand the caution, and there is no reason to doubt the genuine worries of commanders in the field. But it is important to remember that it is the abuse that inflames, not the accounting of the abuse. And for Obama to act as an extension of the Bush era of secrecy is potentially more damaging to the US and its interests and service members. read more

[NOTE - 14 MAY - There's a VERY interesting follow-up from Sullivan in which he speculates that there may be some clever strategy behind Obama's "Rope-a-Dope" ways and quite a real politik dissent here.]

Yes, I'm willing to be compassionate about the errors of the past if, and only if, I am convinced that they are past. And, YES, I do want to see Cheney, et al, brought to full public exposure. That makes me feel that the real test will come not over photos but over whether the various investigations of wrong-doing will proceed, whether Gitmo will indeed be closed, or whether loss of transparency will continue.

Now, as I watch the great morality play unfolding, I read Obama's signals as meaning that I better wear a heavier coat and not assume that spring flowers will soon bloom.

But I still hope...



AMAZING SÃO PAULO (1943)



A film sponsored by the U.S. Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs to promote friendly relations with South American countries. It's fascinating both for the 1940's views of São Paulo and for the views of progress common to that era.

no more >>>

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

TABBOULEH SONG



Just from the lighter side and no more >>>

STUFF GOES VIRAL

Can you imagine it?

Not only has Annie Leonard's “The Story of Stuff” -- a 2007 video warning about the effects of human consumption -- become a viral Internet hit, but now a story about it is #1 on the NY Times "most popular" list.

According to the NYT: "So far, six million people have viewed the film at its site, storyofstuff.com, and millions more have seen it on YouTube. More than 7,000 schools, churches and others have ordered a DVD version, and hundreds of teachers have written Ms. Leonard to say they have assigned students to view it on the Web."

This is the power of the Internet to move a message around the inertias and resistances of the MainStreamMedia which is revenue-dependent on advertising... STUFF!

The STORY carries a Creative Commons license that permits free and open distribution for non-commercial purposes, it has its own blog where you can follow the growing movement (and opposition) to control stuff, and, now, there's an international page with 10 language translations including one for Portuguese.

The "Story of Stuff" exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. It'll give you something to do in response to the Edward Burtynsky video in the previous post.





THE BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

As we enter the the New Age of the Anthropocene we discover (once again!) that nothing is clearly "this way or that..." but that human beings have a choice. So it is with our newly "made landscapes" -- the form of our emerging times is really a question of which vision will be most widely made.

Two extraordinary contemporary artists have devoted their lives to giving us their views.
First, the "manufactured landscapes" documented by the Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky.



And, second, the "collaborated landscapes" of British sculptor-photographer Andy Goldsworthy.



Of course, there are enormous differences of intention, effort and scale between these works. Some would argue (with justification) that I'm comparing manufacturing and art. Perhaps, that's the point.

Monday, May 11, 2009

HOW TO HAVE A GOOD FIGHT


Roda de Capoeira e Circo at the 2nd Mostra Zezito de Circo in Brasilia

Leave it to the Brazilians to turn a fight into a dance. Whether it is a sport, a martial art or a war dance, Capoeira shows how to turn a battle into a celebration of freedom.

Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian art form that involves movements from martial arts, games, and dance. It was created in Brazil by the slaves brought from Africa, especially from Angola some time after the 16th century.

Today it has spread around the world and it has many evolving forms, some of which are presented in the video above. It was performed with added circus flair and innovations during Brasilia's second festival of popular circus culture by Grito de Liberdade (Cry of Liberty).




Sunday, May 10, 2009

FLOWERS FOR MOTHERS DAY

A bunch for all the moms...



Big hugs and deep gratitude to all.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

RAINFOREST S.O.S.



Prince Charles has taken his two-year-old campaign to preserve tropical rain forests to the Web to gather signatures and raise awareness.

"We must start to pay for the services that these great forests provide to us... In the simplest of terms, we have to find a way to make the forests worth more alive than dead..." said the Prince.

TIME magazine writes, "Prince Charles Goes Viral to Save the Rain Forests" and reports, "Blue State Digital, the Internet consultancy behind the hugely successful Web component of Obama's election campaign, is providing know-how and software to maximize the impact of the rain-forest campaign and mobilize supporters."

Prince Charles has said that he believes the passage of REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) -- a mechanism for transferring funds from high greenhouse gas emitters that will be negotiated in December in Copenhagen -- is essential to halting the loss of rainforests worldwide and saving essential carbon sinks worldwide.

However, the usual demons are in the details and the REDD system is not without controversy. You can get a good introduction to the contentious landscape at the REDD-Monitor.

RETURN OF THE MEATRIX



Scientists are looking into initial indications that link Swine Flu and factory pig farms that are dirty, dangerous, and inhumane. To do something about it, follow this link to an online petition asking that the World Health Organization investigate and regulate factory farming of animals. It's very easy to do this simple thing right from your computer... now.

And if you have any doubt that the MEATRIX is telling the truth just look at the picture below and read how A U.S. Hog Giant Transforms Eastern Europe which appears in today's NY Times.

Factory Farming Pigs
Photo: Wojciech Grzedzinski for The International Herald Tribune

UPDATE: The Center for Disease Control Confirms Ties to Virus First Discovered in U.S. Pig Factories. Now, even Oprah is getting pulled into the controversy over Factory Farming. The point of the article "isn't that Oprah screwed up--it's that we should all be more aware of the practices that lead to the food on our table (or in the takeout window). Even though the swine flu turned out to be relatively mild and is now winding down, we should recognize the possibility that another pandemic could occur down the line if we don't note the causes--and work towards supporting a more sustainable, more humane manner of food production."

And, as a late post addition, this is not the solution -- Afghanistan's Only Pig Quarantined In Flu Fear

Bottom line? Please don't forget the online petition. It really will help to bring greater awareness to a truly serious problem.
CAN ANYTHING BE TRUER THAN TRUTH?

Isabel Allende says, "YES", and tells us why...



Today, there's an interesting follow-up interview with Wangari Maathi in Worldchanging. In a wide ranging discussion about how to not leave Africa in a situation where it permanently lags behind, she explains that the soil and local empowerment must come first.

Wangari Maathi

Wangari Maathai (find her at 4:09 in Allende's talk) is
 the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. As Allende says, Maathai "planted 30 million trees, and by doing so she has changed the soil, the weather in some places in Africa -- and, of course, the economic conditions in many villages.” Writing in the Harvard International Review, Maathai explained the reasoning behind her crusade -- her belief that the best way to achieve sustainable development is to empower local communities.

Truly, she carries a very special type of charisma which I can only describe as "collective" (perhaps it's tribal?). I once sat in a discussion circle with her in New Mexico. There was something that I noticed that went way deeper than her analysis or presentation of programs -- she rarely drew attention to herself but instead took great pains to enliven everyone else and get them involved in the discussion. It is community empowerment that she brings to every situation and it was beautiful to witness.


Tuesday, May 05, 2009

CLIMATE CHANGE: HOW DO WE KNOW THE TRUTH?

Oren_Lyons
Chief Oren Lyons - photo: Michelle Gabel

I don't know how you know the truth but I know it when hearing it brings tears to my eyes and something inside me compels me to act.

PLEASE listen to the compelling words of Oren Lyons speaking last year at the MOTHER EARTH conference at the American Indian Museum.

[note: at the linked page you must click on "Chief Oren Lyons" in the left-hand column.]

Oren Lyons has been one of my main sources of inspiration. Listening to a tape of one of his speeches back in 1983 is what compelled me to take a stand for Oregon's Bald Mountain and devote much of my life to defending forests and their peoples.

In the early 1990's I finally met Chief Lyons at an environmental conference. I told him that listening to one of his speeches had changed my life. In typical Indian style, he laughed and responded, "If you listen to me, you're going to get into a lot of trouble."

Yup, Chief Lyons is a prophet -- and that's the truth.

Monday, May 04, 2009

THE DIGITAL REVOLUTION SPREADS IN SOUTH AMERICA (and everywhere) AND THE ECOLOGICAL COSTS SPREAD AS WELL

Wi-Fi Tower - Bibiloteca Publica - Rio Branco
Rede Livre Free Network Wi-Fi Tower at the Public
Library in Rio Branco - Acre - Brazil


The digital revolution is exploding across South America and, like everywhere else, it's the kids who catch on first. Now, in Uruguay, there are dreams of "One Blog Per Child".

Miguel Brechner of Project Ceibal says ... By the end of the year ... 380,000 laptops will have been deployed in 2,000 schools, and that Montevideo, Uruguay will have 350 wi-fi hotspots where students can connect to the net. David Sasaki at Rising Voices has the story of what's happening in Uruguay with lots of photos and even links to the blogs of some of the kids. Here's a slideshow from it:

I can see the Internet expansion in my home region of Brazil's western Amazônia where Rio Branco's new Biblioteca Publica is loaded with computers and connections which are constantly used by all ages (and where I often go to post to this blog).



Indeed, the digital expansion knows no boundaries. Here are surfers in an Internet café in China.

Surfers at an internet cafe in China Photograph: Dan Chung
Photo by Dan Chung

And here's a wonderfully inspiring story from India...




All this development is not without contradictions. According to an article in today's Guardian UK, "with more than 1.5 billion people online around the world, scientists estimate that the energy footprint of the net is growing by more than 10% each year and the Internet is heading toward being one of the largest consumers of electricity in the world. This is putting enormous pressure on the companies that provide the Internet (like Google) to find more efficient servers and new source of emissions-free energy."

That's why "power hungry" google has built its state-of-the-art server farm in The Dalles, Oregon close to the Columbia River's hydroelectric plants which supply relatively cheap and emissions-lite energy. And this means that the pressure is not only on the companies. An energy hungry world will also impact the forest and its peoples. In Amazônia, for example, hydroelectric is being touted as "clean" but it's not -- dams release a lot of the potent greenhouse gas methane, cause massive deforestation and drive indigenous peoples from their ancestral lands.

Huge dams are being planned for several areas of the Amazon basin and indigenous peoples are speaking out across the region. Enawene Nawe Indians are demanding a halt to the construction of a series of dams along the Juruena River and the Kayapo Indians continue their fierce opposition to the Belo Monte dam. Many more energy projects are planned. Two gigantic hydro projects along Madeira River in Rondonia are moving ahead and a recent accord between Brazil and Peru has announced six hydroelectric plants on Peruvian soil to supply power to Brazil.

Jose Antonio Muniz, the president of Brazil's state-owned energy giant Eletrobras, says, "Brazil needs dams if it wants to become a developed country. It is a clean form of energy." But, as every ecologist knows, "there's no such thing as a free lunch" and this seems especially apparent in our Internet-connected world where for the first time we can see the linkages.

Today, we are challenged not merely to find a form of cheap and sustainable energy for the Internet and for developing economies that depend upon it but one that includes forests, indigenous peoples and a blog for everyone.

THE SOCIAL PHOTOGRAPHY OF TATIANA CARDEAL

For me the world of photography is magical. Indeed, it seems as one of the main stages for presenting the human performance. I'm pretty much of an amateur so, from time to time I'm going to present the work of a photographer who has caught my attention and who inspires me.

Here is the social photography of Tatiana Cardeal:

Titania Cardeal  Social Photography
From her series about sexual commercial exploitation
of children and adolescents on Brazilian roadways.



She is not only a superb photographer but she has committed her skills to "seeking a visual language that improves the social and human development" which is the mission statement on her blog, Brazil | Social | Photography.

Be sure to also check out her website and her Flickriver which gives a continuous flow of 100's marvelous photos.

IS GOD AGAINST PROGRESS?

If you like deep philosophical discussions about the biggest questions of human existence as much as I do, you'll appreciate Stanley Fish's essay/review of British critic Terry Eagleton's new book, “Reason, Faith and Revolution” which goes to the heart of our current dilemma -- a superstitious belief in self and progress.

Here's a small piece of it...

"Progress, liberalism and enlightenment — these are the watchwords of those, like Hitchens, who believe that in a modern world, religion has nothing to offer us. Don’t we discover cures for diseases every day? Doesn’t technology continually extend our powers and offer the promise of mastering nature? Who needs an outmoded, left-over medieval superstition?

Eagleton punctures the complacency of these questions when he turns the tables and applies the label of “superstition” to the idea of progress. It is a superstition — an idol or “a belief not logically related to a course of events” (American Heritage Dictionary) — because it is blind to what is now done in its name: “The language of enlightenment has been hijacked in the name of corporate greed, the police state, a politically compromised science, and a permanent war economy,” all in the service, Eagleton contends, of an empty suburbanism that produces ever more things without any care as to whether or not the things produced have true value.

And as for the vaunted triumph of liberalism, what about “the misery wreaked by racism and sexism, the sordid history of colonialism and imperialism, the generation of poverty and famine”? Only by ignoring all this and much more can the claim of human progress at the end of history be maintained: “If ever there was a pious myth and a piece of credulous superstition, it is the liberal-rationalist belief that, a few hiccups apart, we are all steadily en route to a finer world.”


Read the full review.






Sunday, May 03, 2009

MAKING BIRTHDAYS IN THE SANTO DAIME

Birthdays are a big thing generally in Brazilian culture and the Santo Daime tradition has its own special ways of celebrating them. As usual, it's a making or a performance.

Here is Ken's recent birthday in Brasilia



and here's a bunch being celebrated together at Bujari...




Parabéns para todos os aniversários!




MAKING WORKS IN THE FOREST

In the Santo Daime tradition, each spiritual ritual or ceremony is called a "work" (trabalho in Portuguese). But, often, I think that the notion of a "work party" might fit even better because the intention is to create a joy more than a labor and often the "church" is an open "salon" in the forest.

Here are a few videos of spiritual works in the forest at Vila Fortaleza. The first two are at the Salão da Copaíba and are from the hinario of Edson Alexandre...





The hymn Nova Era (New Age) of Padrinho Alfredo advises that celebrating in the forest is part of the "work":

Eu convido os meus irmãos
Se alegrar na nossa festa
Esquecer a ilusão
E se firmar bem na floresta


I urge my brothers and sisters
Rejoice in our celebration
Forget the illusion
And be well anchored in the forest

Here it is being sung in the inauguration of the Salão do Apuí which has been dedicated especially for the singing of the Nova Era hymnal of Padrinho Alfredo.






MAKING FUN AT FORTALEZA

At Vila Fortaleza, fun -- like health and happiness and lots of good things -- is not something that is consumed. It is something that is created by all and made through performance. Here are 3 videos that capture some happy moments.

Cicero and the kids...





The kids (young and old) warming up for a day of spiritual works in the forest...



And Padrinho Luiz Mendes with his new puppet...



Hopefully, the puppet will have a special role in the 2010 Teátro de Amazônia where fun is performed with gusto. Here are slide shows

from Teátro 2008...




and from Teátro 2009...





BIOCHAR UPDATES

Soil in Hand.

Here's the most complete and constantly up-dated archive of biochar news and science.
THE AMAZING KUTIMAN



Watch THRU YOU as Kutiman mixes unrelated YouTube videos/clips into fabulous funk and more. THE MEDIUM tells the story in today's NY Times.

And here is Kutiman's page of YouTube videos.

Friday, May 01, 2009

HILARIOUS



Sarah Jones makes me think that humor just might be able to transcend all separations.

There are lots more great TED Talks here.

Want to be a volunteer translator of TED TALKS?
Check out the TED Open Translation Project.



H.O.M.E.

Healing Ourselves and Mother Earth is in our hands.

world-earth-day

In one of the best (and simple) economic analyses that I have read, Paul Krugman explains why the healing is both feasible, affordable and even economically desirable in this time of crisis .

**************************************************************
Good News Update from Worldchanging:
Joe Romm
May 1, 2009 2:24 PM
Americans Support Greenhouse Gas Regulation Even If It Could “Substantially” Raise Energy Prices
**************************************************************

An Affordable Salvation


By PAUL KRUGMAN
Published: April 30, 2009
The NY Times

Original article

The 2008 election ended the reign of junk science in our nation’s capital, and the chances of meaningful action on climate change, probably through a cap-and-trade system on emissions, have risen sharply.

But the opponents of action claim that limiting emissions would have devastating effects on the U.S. economy. So it’s important to understand that just as denials that climate change is happening are junk science, predictions of economic disaster if we try to do anything about climate change are junk economics.

Yes, limiting emissions would have its costs. As a card-carrying economist, I cringe when “green economy” enthusiasts insist that protecting the environment would be all gain, no pain.

But the best available estimates suggest that the costs of an emissions-limitation program would be modest, as long as it’s implemented gradually. And committing ourselves now might actually help the economy recover from its current slump.

Let’s talk first about those costs.

A cap-and-trade system would raise the price of anything that, directly or indirectly, leads to the burning of fossil fuels. Electricity, in particular, would become more expensive, since so much generation takes place in coal-fired plants.

Electric utilities could reduce their need to purchase permits by limiting their emissions of carbon dioxide — and the whole point of cap-and-trade is, of course, to give them an incentive to do just that. But the steps they would take to limit emissions, such as shifting to other energy sources or capturing and sequestering much of the carbon dioxide they emit, would without question raise their costs.

If emission permits were auctioned off — as they should be — the revenue thus raised could be used to give consumers rebates or reduce other taxes, partially offsetting the higher prices. But the offset wouldn’t be complete. Consumers would end up poorer than they would have been without a climate-change policy.

But how much poorer? Not much, say careful researchers, like those at the Environmental Protection Agency or the Emissions Prediction and Policy Analysis Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Even with stringent limits, says the M.I.T. group, Americans would consume only 2 percent less in 2050 than they would have in the absence of emission limits. That would still leave room for a large rise in the standard of living, shaving only one-twentieth of a percentage point off the average annual growth rate.

To be sure, there are many who insist that the costs would be much higher. Strange to say, however, such assertions nearly always come from people who claim to believe that free-market economies are wonderfully flexible and innovative, that they can easily transcend any constraints imposed by the world’s limited resources of crude oil, arable land or fresh water.

So why don’t they think the economy can cope with limits on greenhouse gas emissions? Under cap-and-trade, emission rights would just be another scarce resource, no different in economic terms from the supply of arable land.

Needless to say, people like Newt Gingrich, who says that cap-and-trade would “punish the American people,” aren’t thinking that way. They’re just thinking “capitalism good, government bad.” But if you really believe in the magic of the marketplace, you should also believe that the economy can handle emission limits just fine.

So we can afford a strong climate change policy. And committing ourselves to such a policy might actually help us in our current economic predicament.

Right now, the biggest problem facing our economy is plunging business investment. Businesses see no reason to invest, since they’re awash in excess capacity, thanks to the housing bust and weak consumer demand.

But suppose that Congress were to mandate gradually tightening emission limits, starting two or three years from now. This would have no immediate effect on prices. It would, however, create major incentives for new investment — investment in low-emission power plants, in energy-efficient factories and more.

To put it another way, a commitment to greenhouse gas reduction would, in the short-to-medium run, have the same economic effects as a major technological innovation: It would give businesses a reason to invest in new equipment and facilities even in the face of excess capacity. And given the current state of the economy, that’s just what the doctor ordered.

This short-run economic boost isn’t the main reason to move on climate-change policy. The important thing is that the planet is in danger, and the longer we wait the worse it gets. But it is an extra reason to move quickly.

So can we afford to save the planet? Yes, we can. And now would be a very good time to get started.



SWINE: OTHER VIEWS

Due to the emerging flu epidemic, pigs are surely receiving a bad rap. And now it's turning ugly and political. In a move described by the U.N. as "a horrible mistake", Egypt has begun to slaughter its pigs. Apparently, the underlying political motive is that the pig herders are Christians.

So, perhaps it's time to re-run another view of pigs. In the slideshow below, young Paz (Peace) is getting her first views of pigs in Amazónia (in Pando, Bolivia).



And here is an innovative youtube pig adventure



and treehugger found this one...

child-licks-pig-snout
"What not to do." Unknown photographer.

And from boingboing

pooflu
Click to see enlarged