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Nirek On April - 7 - 2014

We all have something we are passionate about. I’m going to start with one subject I’m more passionate about than nearly anything, save my family.

The environment.

For far too long we Americans have done so many stupid things to make money and destroy our own environment.

Coal

A coal mine in Wyoming, United States. The Uni...

Lets start with coal mining. They used to dig coal out of the earth by going underground and bringing it up through an entrance. Now they are blasting the tops of mountains off and destroying habitat that used to support wildlife. There are coal sludge pools that are sitting for years, leaching into the ground water.  Burning coal is bad enough but destroying the environment is crazy. We don’t need coal. We can use the sun for so much. My little solar array has made all my electric power ever since Oct. 08. I built it in August 08. If we put arrays on the flat roofs of every school and office building we could cut the costs of electricity substantially. After all they sit in the sun all day long. Why not use that solar energy.

Fracking

still-gasland

The practice of “fracking” is harmful to our water supply (http://www.dangersoffracking.com/). Up to 600 chemicals are used in fracking fluid, including known carcinogens and toxins such as…lead, uranium, mercury, ethylene glycol, and radium as well as many many others. Lots of these chemicals are very dangerous. They have these waste water pools open to the air to evaporate. We need to stop hurting our water supply before we make water poisonous to us and the wildlife. We humans are the stewards of the environment and we have failed to take care of it. Fracking can only hurt the environment, so lets stop it NOW!

Oil

Water Pollution with Trash Disposal of Waste a...

What about oil? Remember the BP oil gusher in the Gulf of Mexico? Have you seen the oil soaked wildlife? How about the pipelines spills? and they want to build another even bigger pipeline across the biggest aquifer in our country? A spill on top of the aquifer would pollute the water supply for the “breadbasket” of our great nation. It would hurt our farms, cattle, and wildlife, as well as us.

Remember coal and oil are are both carbon based materials. To go back to solar let me tell you my little array has kept 36 tons of carbon from going into the atmosphere. Coal and oil when burned put carbon into the atmosphere. That carbon  makes the heat reflected from earth to space reflect back and is the reason for climate change.   http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_does_carbon_dioxide_damage_the_earth

So when I was young we used to burn the dumps. We had no idea that burning toxic chemicals was doing damage. Now we do know more about pollution due to science. Of course our Republican brethren don’t believe in science. I know this just by their cries of “drill baby drill”. The only thing they care about is money.  Guess what? When the environment is dead they can’t eat their money.

Nuclear

English: The Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant.

English: The Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am familiar with the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Plant , which is forty one years old. Has leaked for the last few years and had a water tower collapse. It is the same design as those in Japan. You know the Fukushima nuclear plants that melted down. The same ones that we read about on the Morning Blog (a shout out to Kalima for her great work). http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20140401p2a00m0na012000c.html Just one example of her work, thanks Kalima.

Vermont Yankee is closing down this year after the NRC issued a 25 year re-license just last year. We in Vermont kinda forced them to close by not buying any of their power for Vermont. Other people in surrounding states have shunned them, too.

The land these nuclear plants are on and surrounding them is lost forever as far as we are concerned. America got ahead of itself getting into the nuclear energy industry. If we knew early on what we know now we would either not have nuclear energy or have every one of them over built. Safety has been too lax. The NRC is too close to the industry it is supposed to regulate for safety.  Some of us think that the NRC is in the pocket of the industry.

Greed seems to rule when it comes to coal, oil, fracking, and the nuclear industries.  Renewable energy sources are available  and if the big corporations would put some of their obscene profits into solar, electric cars, wind, and geothermal energy we could start to reverse some of the harm done.

Part of my passion is in a way religious. I believe God expects us to use the natural resources he (or Mother Nature) has provided in a responsible way. To date we have failed.

I will end this with a question. What are you passionate about?

Written by Nirek

Proud progressive Vietnam Vet against WAR! Can't stomach chickenhawks.

28 Responses so far.

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  1. Nirek says:

    http://vtdigger.org/2014/04/17/heavy-hitters-come-vermont-oppose-toxic-chemical-bill/

    Vermont is a leader on environmental issues. While large corporations do NOT want toxic chemicals regulated even in children’s products. IBM, and many other corporations are named in this article.

  2. Aquarius 1027 says:

    Great article, Nirek! While all of the industrial and corporative strategies that disregard our environment are significant, I am most passionate about fracking. The Energy Policy Act of 2005, otherwise known as the Halliburton Loophole, expanded the exemptions from the original Clean Water Act of 1972 to include ” . . oil and gas exploration, production, process or treatment operations . .” as part of the definition of construction activities.

    With this loophole, corporations did not have to disclose all of the chemicals utilized in the fracking processes. The long term and adverse health effects from these undisclosed chemicals is unknown. When mixing undisclosed chemicals, there are unknown byproducts as well. It is inexcusable to withhold this information should medical care be needed for exposure. The adverse environmental effects from these undisclosed chemicals are unknown as well. Until there is full disclosure, fracking remains unsafe.

    The extent of damage to both above ground and underlying geological structures is also unknown. While corporations try to justify, minimalize and deny this damage, the destruction continues. Here in western PA, there was an newspaper article just today about fracking. Some state restrictions are being imposed upon these corporations.

    http://www.post-gazette.com/local/marcellusshale/2014/04/12/Ohio-s-temblors-linked-to-fracking

    Potential contamination to the underlying aquifers in this country would affect numerous states. As fracking increases, more water is needed for the processes. Subsequently, there is an increase in the depletion of available water sources. Besides this, sand is being mined in large quantities to use in the fracking processes. Sand dust pollution from this mining has been reported at these operations. The health effects of silicosis from exposure to silica, a major component of sand, have been well documented in the mining industry.

    Time to end putting the profits of corporations first before the safety of people and the preservation of the environment. -- Completely agreed, STOP fracking now!

    • Nirek says:

      Aquarius, we seem to agree on lots of things. Did you see that “fracking” has been tied to earthquakes?

      To me it is common sense that pumping over 600 hazardous chemicals into the ground is going to harm the water table and so much more.

      Sadly “common sense is like deodorant, those who need it most don’t use it” , think the big corporations and their underlings (bought and paid for) republicans.

  3. NirekJunior says:

    Dad, I’m seeing more and more solar around, so it’s getting there. Not fast enough, but every little bit helps. Just recently I’ve seen small solar panels on light poles here in Rut-Vegas -- baby steps, but at least steps in the right direction.

    While we’re adding solar to supermarket and high school roofs, among other things, why not affix solar panels to the tops of train box cars -- make the rails even more efficient. They may be in and out of the sun, but sometimes rail cars can sit in a yard for days before they move on to the next destination -- why not store up some renewable energy while they’re waiting? :)

    • kesmarn says:

      Nirek — father and son — when you put in your solar array, was it relatively easy to find the materials and technology to get it installed? Were you able to get the panels locally or did you have to send away for them? Are there any “kits” out there for those of us who are technically challenged? And last but not least — did you get any negative feedback from the utility company or others about it?

      Lots of questions, I know — but I’d love to see what can be done by individual households in my area. Small steps.

      • Nirek says:

        Kes, my contractor was a one man show. He had a high school kid who volunteered to help so he could learn the business. I also helped as I too am interested. This guy was very attentive to details. Everything had to be perfect. He ordered the materials. He did have to get the panels from Japan but all other materials were found locally.Except the inverter is from Germany.
        The power company was glad to have me go solar. They benefit from my net metering. Especially on hot summer days when neighbors are using Air Conditioners as the extra power my array makes doesn’t lose anything in transmission.

        My advice is to find a contractor and ask him/her if the materials are found locally.

    • Nirek says:

      Excellent idea son. The solar panels on light poles pay for the light at night to make the streets safe.

  4. kesmarn says:

    Nirek, thanks so much for raising these important issues. The American people and the President have been so preoccupied with struggling back from the 2008 financial crash, with trying to hang on to their homes and jobs, with weather-related disasters, entangling foreign wars, mass shootings and keeping up with events in Ukraine, Syria and elsewhere — that focusing on the environment isn’t always easy.

    I did see a ray of hope today, though (link below) about a big government investment in hybrid electric trains. This is such a hopeful story, and I hope it’s a sign of things to come. It’s also an example of what the country can do with money when it has a President at the helm who is not quick to jump into prolonged wars in countries that have not attacked us!

    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/04/07/3422342/hybrid-diesel-electric-trains/

    • Aquarius 1027 says:

      Thanks for the link, Kesmarn. Interesting! -- I had just visited in Toronto, Canada and noticed that some of their city buses were hybrid engines. Good to know that more are converting to hybrid. -- Nice to see you again!

    • Nirek says:

      Good news indeed, Kes.
      Thanks for the link , too.

    • NirekJunior says:

      As a train dispatcher I’m happy to see that there’s potential for more fuel efficient rail transport (and rail is already pretty efficient on the whole, and provides good paying jobs).
      All good things :)

      • kesmarn says:

        Good to see you here, NirekJunior! I’ve heard that rail is possibly the most efficient way to move cargo and people that we have.

        I really love rail travel. If this plan takes off, I’d be so happy to use it to be able to get to Chicago or New York without all the hassles of air travel. It’s incredibly relaxing to be able to watch the scenery go by without having to worry about the expense (and sometimes the stress, in bad weather) of driving. It’s really a win-win.

        • NirekJunior says:

          Agreed that rail is among the most efficient means of transport -- I’d like to see more investment in that infrastructure that would add jobs, increase speed of transport, increase safety (you should see the FRA rule books…) and generally would just be a good thing. Passenger service that is on par with what other countries have would be great as well. I’m lucky to have Amtrak right here in Rutland -- I’ve walked to the train station, enjoyed the ride to NYC and walked to my hotel there -- it’s about the simplest and potentially most convenient means of travel. :)

          • kesmarn says:

            Imagine-- New England to NYC with ever sitting in a car!

            That sounds so wonderful.

            As you may have heard, my state (Ohio) was awarded a large federal grant for high-speed rail during the time of the stimulus. But we had a Republican governor who didn’t want to see this President get credit for anything like that. So he turned it down. Just think of the jobs (not to mention the convenience) that were lost due to that decision!

            I’m so hoping we can change this governor in 2014. It’s too late for that grant, but maybe we can get into line for another if the opportunity ever comes up again.

            • Nirek says:

              Kes, It is a shame that your Governor put petty politics ahead of the good for the people.

      • Nirek says:

        There are so many ways we can make the energy we need without burning fossil fuels. All good ideas should be pursued. Sadly the BIG energy companies do not want to use renewable energy. Out of GREED.

  5. Kalima says:

    Well done Nirek for addressing the things that will destroy us if we don’t act soon.

    The fracking issue is close to my heart because the conservative government in the U.K. want to open up 40% of the country to fracking. Not in their own back yard of course, but in places that are considered unimportant because the people who live there don’t vote for them anyway. It would take a decade before it would bring in any economic profit for the country, and in those 10 years more than 40% of the country would be ruined, the groundwater poisoned, and many people would be sick.

    On the other hand you hear they are fighting to stop the expansion of wind farms because they are “ugly”, and planning up to 20 new nuclear power plants. The wind farms produce too much energy so the oil companies are having hissy fits. Green energy has had their funding cuts while the greedy fat cats in the main energy groups grow fatter and overcharge the consumers. If I can find stories detailing the facts of this government fraud, so can the British public.

    The Fukushima crisis is a daily ongoing issue. Both TEPCO and the current government are guilty of spinning a web of lies. TEPCO is not on top of the situation and the government knows it but enable them to continue their endless incompetence. The only good thing to happen in the last three years is that the public awareness of the dangers of nuclear energy has finally resulted in many protests, and the loss of seats for politicians who continue to support it. In Japan that is quite something. Abe of course supports nuclear energy, a fact that I find mind boggling after all this country has been through since the 11th of March.

    The only way America can stop these profiteers is to do the same, and vote out the people who would destroy your country for a fast buck.

    Thanks for the shout out Nirek, it’s something I enjoy doing if it brings the truth and the facts to our doorstep.

    We have to keep talking about these issues because the worst thing we could do is to keep silent.

    What am I passionate about? Well it would fill up several pages, but here are just a few.

    The end to hunger everywhere.

    Healthcare for all.

    Education for everyone.

    Equality for women worldwide.

    Birth control for everyone who needs it .

    Stamping out racism.

    The end to human trafficking and modern day slavery.

    Keeping religion out of politics.

    Green energy.

    Animal Rights.

    Justice and equality for all.

    • Aquarius 1027 says:

      Hi, Kalima! -- Nice to meet you! I share your all of your concerns, especially about the fracking. I have heard about the fracking problems in the UK as well. -- Your list is impressive!! There is much yet to do to end the social injustices that have persisted and at times, even become worse in the 21st century. And I agree that we must vote, vote, vote out the politicians who abuse their legislative power to fulfill their own political agendas rather than to serve the country.- Hope your day goes well.

      • Kalima says:

        Hello Aquarius 1027, it’s nice to finally speak with you too.

        I totally agree that our world is falling behind on many important issues such as World Hunger, Women’s Rights, Education, Modern Day Slavery and Human Trafficking, the renewable energy march forward just to name a few, but if profit-driven corrupt politicians and leaders keep being elected, the path to equality is longer and harder. The only thing we can do is stay concerned to make our world a better place. Vote out the vultures, and keep talking loud and often about the changes we need to see. Whether that comes in the form of actual street protests, or by signing endless petitions that often do make a huge difference in the outcome of certain issues, we have to keep fighting for equality and justice for all.

        Hope to see you again soon, and thank you for joining our community here at The Planet.

    • Nirek says:

      Kalima, we seem to be passionate about the same things. I would add equality for everyone , rich, poor, black, white, brown , Asian, and every religion as well as no religion.

      Oops, you had that, too.

  6. Nirek says:

    Ad, thanks for the 60 min. video and your response. I know many folks care about the environment.
    My solar array is not all I’v done to put my money where my mouth is. I drive a Honda Insight 40 MPG, all my windows are triple pane, insulation and siding are about 7 years old, and all light bulbs are either CFL or LED.
    I’m not rich but I do live true to my beliefs.

    • AdLib says:

      Well done, Nirek. We’ve employed many energy conservation tactics as well including energy efficient windows, lightbulbs, setting thermostat lower in Winter and higher in Summer, recycling (which saves energy as opposed to new manufacture of plastics), high mileage vehicles, etc. We have been waiting for PACE funding to be put in place for residential properties to install solar.

      PACE plans are basically city or county funded plans that simply add the amortized cost of solar panel installation to your property tax bill, assigning the financing to the house instead of to the current owner. That’s been a sticking point for us, under all other financing plans right now, if you sold your home, you would still be stuck paying off the loan/lease for solar panels even though you don’t own the house anymore.

      They have PACE for commercial buildings in L.A. right now but not for residential yet. Hoping it’s in the cards soon!

  7. AdLib says:

    Nirek, well done and I share your passion on the environment. Your setting up your solar energy system makes clear that you are committed to actions backing up your words.

    As to nuclear energy, 60 Minutes ran a segment last night, “Fukushima: Three Years Later” which wasn’t the best done or most investigative piece but did serve as a reminder as to the man made disaster that Japan will be living with for a very long time due to nuclear power. It’s also intended as a shout out to our wonderful Kalima as well:


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