Saturday, September 10, 2011

Ten Years Latter

September 11 anniversary gives us much to see in hind sight. The attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon killing 2,977 marked an extremely tragic and reactive time in American history. A decade of financial collapse, a horrific decade of warfare, the breakdown of the American political process and increased environmental devastation in all are areas of our planet in this last ten years. Also these acts of terror have created enormous psychic toll.

The cost of retaliation to these terrorist has been enormous. First the longest and costliest two wars we ever have fought. The second has been an erosion of American democratic process and third how the strongest nation was brought to its knees by terrorism. Greater responsibility and less reactivity are the tenor of the times.

Yes, this mass murder of innocent American civilians was terrible; however, our inglorious reaction to these events is more daunting. Months ago on 3/11 the Japanese lost 15,780 citizens and 4,122 are missing from a tsunami and nuclear accident. Besides the loss of lives and enormous human suffer it has been estimated to cost the Japanese around$219 billion dollars. Our 9/11 may have cost us over a trillion dollars and tremendous additional costs due to such threats. However, these incidents both show how fragile we 7 billion humans are.

Greater courage to face our threats can lessen our fears. After 10 years we still import 60% of our energy. Conservation matters greater than ever to become more secure for our next decade.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Agreeing on Our Changing Climate

Where do we Americans see climate change? In the past it has ranked near the bottom by past voters of being of great concern. Despite the growing scientific reports have increasingly documented the impacts of increased temperature, weather extremes, carbon dioxide emissions and other human caused environmental impacts. Republicans have been quick to see this problem as job killing, tax increasing and regulatory over reach. Back in 2009 House Democrats passed a “cap and trade,” measure, however, such a tax was passed in the Senate since it was not attractive and am efficient pollution control.

Most scientist think climate change is cause by humans and threatens future human health. However there is considerable amount of Americans who either do not see or deny climate change as a problem.

Conservative Republicans question global warming science. Also many new members of Congress dispute that humans have anything to do with climate change. However, we have been burning records amounts of fossil fuels that create CO2. One challenge is that the full impacts of today’s greenhouse gases have a time lag and will not be felt too many decades latter. In a 2010 National Academy Sciences survey of 1372 climate scientists and found that 97.5% agreed that humans are contributing to climate change.

While the global debate is still being debated here in the U.S. the rest of world are in agreement that humans are threatening our natural systems with dangerous amounts of greenhouse gases. The US is far more divided. An October 2010 poll shows in the last 4 years Americans dropped from 79 to 59 percent believing there is solid evidence of climate change. Just 38 percent Republican believed in this environmental challenge.

Instead of what we do not agree on, why do we not work on conserving more and wasting less. What part of being conservative am I missing?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Mrs. Carter's 11th Grade Class Eco-Research

Thank you Mrs. Carter's 11 Grade Summer Class! Your exploration of ways to "go green" and have fun by conserving are inspiring. Below are their findings of the various ways of helping improve our world. Much appreciation for your research and all wonderful benefits we all share from such conservation!

Dear Mr. Arner,

Greetings from Mrs. Carter's 11th grade science summer class! We came across this page while working on our studies about finding ways we can help the environment be it a fun eco-friendly project or something we can do with our families at home to "go green." We found some resources on your page to be a useful contribution for our on-going project. Thank you for providing those sources!

As a class we wanted to offer resources that we found that we have voted as a class that would make a great addition to your page. We all will receive extra credit towards our project grade if you find these sources suitable enough for your site. This was our group class project we had to complete, but this is the last piece of the puzzle we need to finish before we make our presentations.

We hope you find our resources useful and that you will help our class finish our project. This class project is finished at the end of next week, so we hope to hear back from you soon!

Thank you for taking the time to review our resources and we hope we have helped you as you have us!

Thanks again!

Mrs. Carter's 11th Grade Class

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Please No Fracking in the GW Forest!

The proposed plan for hydraulic fracturing and vertical drilling in the George Washington National Forest poses a serious threat to our drinking water and water supplies. The Forest Service has prepared a 15 year plan which involves drilling for natural gas in 900,000 acres of the 1.l million acres of the forest. Although at first glance the forest service claims to ban the controversial drilling method called fracking there is a loophole in their plan that keeps the door open for fracking if they should need to do it.

We have every reason to be concerned about fracking. First, hydraulic fracturing is exempt from most environmental laws and controls and there is no liability on the part of gas companies if something goes wrong..... and things are going wrong in the extraction of natural gas across the country. There are also an alarming number of reports of water, land and air contamination, illness in people and wildlife in and around fracking wells across the country. Also hydraulic fracturing goes over a mile down into the earth pumping fluid at high pressures causing the rock to crack, simulating mini earthquakes that release natural gas for extraction. In Arkansas for example, there has been a sharp increase in the number of earthquakes in the areas where fracking is occurring.

In addition, fracking involves pumping 596 undisclosed chemicals and the use of 1 to 8 million gallons of water per frack, this creates 80 -300 tons of pressure going into the earth and could seriously deplete water supplies. Gas companies can frack a well up to 12 times. other states are staking strong actions to ban fracking because of the growing number of reports that we are very unaware of the current and future implications of using a drilling method that is both understudied and unregulated.

The GW forest acts as a huge water treatment system purifying our drinking water. For example, water resources in the George Washington National Forest serve an estimated 8,452 residents just within the Shenandoah County impacting our extremely fragile drinking supply. Recently our valley has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in water resource pollution controls. Now the USDA may allow this toxic fracking which is lacking such necessary safeguards. Yearly our GW Forest generated billions of dollars in timber, tourism, and other environmental benefits. We need to seriously evaluate these serious issues with fracking…..we should not put the forest in jeopardy? Please tell the Forest Service to prevent hydraulic fracturing for natural gas to preserve our natural resources. Over 100 years ago we wisely established the GW National Forest to protect our drinking water and today we need your support and input to the to the Forest Service to continue protecting this life sustaining investment.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Fracturing Our Shenandoah Drinking Water?

Shenandoah Valley residents have every reason to be alarmed about their drinking water. A Texas Gas Company owned by Carrizo Marcellus LLC wants to frack his first well in Bergton in the Marcellus Shale region located at the Headwaters of the Shenandoah River. Already 13,000 acres of land have been leased to gas companies to drill for natural gas. Due to the alarming pattern of water contamination in and around these wells across the county we need to thoroughly examine the evidence and risks before we allow this controversial drilling practice to take place or at all.

When a well is fracked they use a horizontal drilling technique that goes a mile or more down into the earth pumping a fluid at high pressures that cause the rock to crack, sometimes even causing mini earthquakes that release the trapped gas for extraction. The pumping fluid is a mixture of sand, 596 undisclosed chemicals, and several million gallons of water. Currently gas companies refused to disclose those chemicals, but water testing of contaminated sites reveals highly toxic chemicals are being found in the samples.

In February 2010, Rockingham County Board of Supervisors tabled a special use zoning request filed by Mr. Carrizo since highly protective regulations were lacking. The movie Gasland by Josh Fox is a documentary of Josh's cross country journey to find out if the controversial process of hydraulic fracturing is actually safe. Josh himself was approached to lease his own land for hydraulic fracturing. He discovers on his journey that drinking water has been contaminated, that people and animals are getting sick, and that the industry is understudied and poorly regulated. This movie sounds an alarm bell for those of us who live in the Shenandoah Valley that we should thoroughly investigate hydraulic fracturing because the movie reveals serious harmful results from such drilling.

Our valley acts as a huge water treatment system cleaning water for our neighbors downstream. We have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in water resource infrastructure in Rockingham County and other neighboring counties. Much of the Shenandoah water also comes out of the ground: the fundamental water purification system.

Already our valley's water resources are extremely fragile. Spring water has been tested and shown to be only 11 years old. Water in our valleys is trapped--no deep aquifers and poor drainage. Much of the country's hydro-geology is like Swiss cheese and highly sensitive to pollution with its sink holes and caves. Fracking will create future liabilities. There are over 2000 private wells installed in the county since 1990. Ground water is tapped through wells placed in water bearing rock and other materials beneath the earth's surface.

Fracking jeopardizes not only our drinking water, but also the environmental health of the entire Shenandoah Valley including air pollution concerns. There are many unknown chemicals used in fracking combined with what rises to the surface once you drill and bring the gas up.

The connection between ground water and surface water plays a major role in ground water recharge in the Valley and the Ridge, where streams often cross fault zones recharging aquifers. Wells in the fault zones have the greatest yields. Recharge also occurs through surface run off into limestone sinkholes, bypassing filtration through the soil. This can cause serious water quality problems since polluted surface water may be introduced directly into the ground water system.

While the industry claims the process is safe, states like New York for example are issuing a moratorium preventing this kind of high volume hydraulic fracturing until their legislators can reach an informed decision about the risks. Our neighboring state Maryland who sits on one of the largest gas reserves in the world and stands to profit handsomely from natural gas drilling moved to place a moratorium on drilling until the Maryland Department of the Environment completes a two year study to determine whether it endangers drinking water and public health as some environmentalist claim. Maryland legislators stated, "We are not going to be like other states such as Texas, Pennsylvania, and Arkansas for that drilled first and asked questions later

We are very fortunate here in Virginia that we have the opportunity to make an informed decision about hydraulic fracturing for natural gas-our future prosperity depends on this. Nearly 100 year ago we wisely established the George Washington National Forest to protect our drinking water. Now in some of these areas is where they propose to frack.

Also nearly 90 percent of the Washington DC area depends on the Shenandoah River for clean drinking water. Why allow a hydraulic fracturing drill sight where the Shenandoah River begins affecting everyone downstream? The Shenandoah River also generates billions of dollars in agriculture, timber, tourism, and other environmental benefits. To run the risk of contaminating streams and the river could have enormous economic consequence.

Fracking has a poor track record for example look at what happen in Pennsylvania on April 21, 2011. Here, a fracking well blew near the surface spilling thousands and thousands of gallons of frack fluid over the containment walls, through the open fields, farms and homes while the cattle where grazing in the field. Officials report that frack fluid contaminated the Towanda Creek which feeds into the Susquehanna River and 7 families needed to be evacuated from their homes.

While more jobs and a fuel that burns cleaner is attractive to many including residents of economically depressed rural areas in need of money the number of chemicals used in the extraction of fracking raises the questions, how much safer and cleaner is it?

There is significant concern over fracking both here in Virginian and throughout our land. May we better understand the potential threat hydraulic fracturing can cause to our drinking water, water resources, as well as our air. At present the risks of fracking outweigh the rewards since this gas drilling provides no safeguards from polluting our Shenandoah watershed.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Transforming War and Terror- Sustaining Ourselves

America can no longer afford not to fully look at the real meaning of national security. Our prosperity is directly tied to how we maintain world sustainability. Can we as a people have the courage to truly see that were a greater source of terror may hide?

Two years ago two special Assistants to the Chairman for Strategy to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Captain Wayne Porter, US Navy, and Colonel Mark “Puck” Mykleby, US Marine Corps wrote A NATIONAL STRATEGIC NARRATIVE By Mr. Y below is a short summary of their perspective (

This Strategic Narrative is intended to frame our National policy decisions regarding investment, security, economic development, the environment, and engagement well into this century. It is built upon the premise that we must sustain our enduring national interests – prosperity and security – within a “strategic ecosystem,” at home and abroad; that in complexity and uncertainty, there are opportunities and hope, as well as challenges, risk, and threat. The primary approach this Strategic Narrative advocates to achieve sustainable prosperity and security, is through the application of credible influence and strength, the pursuit of fair competition, acknowledgement of interdependencies and converging interests, and adaptation to complex, dynamic systems – all bounded by our national values.

Porter and Mykleby cite “America is a country conceived in liberty, founded on hope, and built upon the notion that anything is possible with enough hard work and imagination.

They further state;
”America’s national strategy in the second half of the last century was anchored in the belief that our global environment is a closed system to be controlled by mankind – through technology, power, and determination – to achieve security and prosperity”. But we failed to recognize that dominance, like fossil fuel, is not a sustainable source of energy. The new century brought with it a reminder that the world, in fact, is a complex, open system – constantly changing. And change brings with it uncertainty. What we really failed to recognize, is that in uncertainty and change, there is opportunity and hope.

Mr Y continues further:

“It is time for America to re-focus our national interests and principles through a long lens on the global environment of tomorrow. It is time to move beyond a strategy of containment to a strategy of sustainment (sustainability); from an emphasis on power and control to an emphasis on strength and influence; from a defensive posture of exclusion, to a proactive posture of engagement. We must recognize that security means more than defense, and sustaining security requires adaptation and evolution, the leverage of converging interests and interdependencies…

The bottom-line conclusion is that security and sustainability are interdependent. Without one the other does not happen. Let’s get lean and green and solve our problems with mending rather than ending. Otherwise our home will become a nasty war torn battlefield.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Appreciating Our Earth Day Everyday

When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may
begin to use it with love and respect.

—Aldo Leopold

41 years ago we celebrated our first Earth Day. Ten years later I was a national and DC Earth Day organizer. In 1970, the first Earth Day's message was heard and in the few years that followed, sweeping environmental legislation and a powerful time of reawakening. Today there is a growing realization of our impact on the natural world is a critical circumstance. This Earth Day we need to reflect seriously on the fact that time may really be running out for our planet's life support systems - and for us.

Yes Earth Day is a day of clean-ups, educational activities, tree plantings, speeches, conversations and other green events. However a greater global solidarity is essential so we can best cleanup of our Earth, our seas, and our skies. It is a day to teach simplification, to lessen our consumptive lifestyle, and to highlight the importance of establishing a deep and profound connection to the natural world, the cycles of life, and the rhythms of nature

Earth Day is a day like thanksgiving of having profound appreciation. Increasing our gratitude gives greater my purpose and a richer life. Invoking greater appreciation gives profound sense of joy. An understanding how all things are interconnected. This gratitude is that we are all not separate and our survival is about the greater whole. As we individuals develop greater compassion, courage, and tenacity, we can fully engage in the kind of holistic stewardship that is calling to us now.

A new dimension mind-set understands that trees have rights to be just as do people and all living things. Without one we will not have the other. Deforestation, stripping mountaintops, fracking for gas, and numerous other forms of reckless environmental exploitation may satisfy human needs in the short run. However this greed may rob generations of their future prosperity. Emerging is a new awareness on our how are not separate from our earth. A green awakening is happening to stimulate greater life-affirming and life enhancing choices.

Earth Day is global call to do more with less. Be smart, wise and conserve. Use best the precious resources we have, and teach our children that life sustaining acts plant seeds for future generations. Preserving and protecting our environment are tied to the very notion of environmental of human excellence. Humans can demonstrate their virtue and flourish the human experience by promoting healthier relationships with our planet.

Just a simple act like riding a bicycle serves to better our world. Any actions that directly promote the well-being of the larger ecological community serve to show our gratitude for the earth. Any choice that lessens harm on this planet must be supported. Any way we can better this planet directly betters ourselves. 41 years ago recycling was introduced into our vocabulary. Now we must follow the example of those chasing arrows. Give and you shall get. May you enjoy this day and every other one with a new reverence for this Earth and what is gives you!

Friday, April 01, 2011

Deal With a Full Deck

Isn’t this the greatest country? Where else in the world could you get dressed up as a fool and bomb (non violently) on the U.S. Capitol steps with bad jokes? 25 years ago, on April Fool’s Day, I visited my Congresswoman, Connie Morella, dressed up in a court jester costume. As Ray Cycle, I stood on the Capitol steps and proclaimed, "You’re not dealing with a full deck when you throw out the joker out! Recycle Our Nation’s Capital." American you are still so fuelish, Why not lessen our gas guzzling ways and proclaim energy efficiency?

For over 30 years, I have coped with working for the environment in a bureaucratic environment through random and deliberate small acts of humor. When I get too serious, I prefer to laugh rather than cry. I see the difference between a comedy and a tragedy as subtle, but significant-- we can learn from comedy rather than perpetuating a tragic fate. This is why I take refuge in our refuse.

Three decades ago while working at the D.C. Energy Office, I came up with the character of Ray Cycle. My plan was to entertain and promote the value of saving, conservation, thrift—simple good housekeeping. What could be more conservative? Some kids had pictures of baseball players as icons when they were growing up; I had a picture of a crying Indian lamenting the rape of the land. Now, I share the trademarked character of Ray Cycle with the State of Connecticut. Their Ray is a Super Hero; my Ray is just your American joker.

You see, Ray Cycle is always going around being "insightful and mindful". If waste becomes "out of sight and of mind" then the insanity of our blindness impacts future generations. After all, one used oil change improperly disposed of impacts the water supply of fifty people over a period of one year. If you dump it you may have to drink it since what goes around comes around.

Today I will observe that I am a comic not tragic person. Arise rather than fall in love. Let’s transform our waste making by saving our cards for future hands. We have a choice between tragic hard work or comic heart work. Let the humor you love be who you are. Please deal with a full deck. There are thousands of ways to bless ourselves and this earth. Our journey begins with a single awakening laugh.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Price vs. Cost of Energy Conservation and Efficiency

Our lack of coherent energy policy reflects both the price and cost jeopardizing both our national security and future prosperity. Unfortunately energy efficiency has failed to be realized as a national priority. Presently energy inefficiency has a huge hidden price and cost. How we can better generated and consume energy must be adequately addressed.

U.S. energy demand consists of 85% fossil fuels or about 50 million barrels of oil consumed each day in America. As we past $100 per barrel for crude and this price shortly could easily double. Energy imports of oil account for 20% of our total U.S. energy requirements. However the cost for this is a huge burden not just on our balance of payments and on our environment.

Approximately, 61%of energy produced is lost due to factors such as poor insulation, inefficient gas guzzling vehicles and other reasons according to a 2007 National Petroleum Council report to the Department of Energy. This translates to an overall efficiency of 13% for oil that is converted to a usable form. Another way to illustrate this is that only one of three barrels is recovered. How can we afford to allow this to happen?

Currently the U.S. depends on foreign countries to supply us with 66% of the oil we use. It is believed we have passed our peak of oil production in 1970’s or 80’s. Presently our petroleum comes from: USA Petroleum Production-34%; Petroleum Imports from OPEC-27%; Non-OPEC Petroleum Imports-39% (Canada, Mexico, Russia, etc.)

One example is oil wasted in consumption comes from the do-it-yourself consumer. The American who changes their own oil yearly wastes over 400 million gallons of used oil and 500 plus million oil filters. One gallon of used oil improperly disposed can contaminate one million gallons of fresh water or ruin the water supply for 50 people for a year.

There is a price for using oil besides impacting climate change. Exploration, development, production, product treatment, and waste management activities associated with oil and gas production projects can have a variety of costs on our environment and health. Roughly one trillion gallons of oilfield waste we inject into deep wells in addition to the 3 billion tons of oil and gas wastes we generate yearly by our oil and gas exploration and production in the U.S. Unless we place a price and cost on inefficiency we will continue to subsidize this hazardous waste of dollars, resources and health impacts.

For over a century Americans have greatly benefited from oil. Now the question is how we price and cost our dwindling oil resources. Why do create incentives toward energy depletion? Once we make this energy life cycle investment we will celebrate the enormous future benefits of efficiency. The future we reveal the true costs and expense of energy inefficiency unless we wisely act. Let’s profit from preventing waste by fully investing in energy efficiency.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Betting on Climate Change

Why is it that insurance companies and major corporations know about climate change while many Congressional leaders and Tea Party members think this is a myth? I bet you that anyone who has serious money or manages it is starting to add up the impacts.

This January a leading world insurance company, Munich Re, released a report on the natural disasters of 2010 and concluded that the high number of weather-related natural catastrophes and record temperatures provide further indication that climate change is advancing. According to the report, 2010 had the second highest amount of weather-related catastrophes since 1980, and caused about $130 billion in damages--$37 billion of which was insured. While some of the 950 natural disasters that occurred last year were earthquakes, and not attributable to climate change, nine-tenths of them were weather-related.

Finally, I ask if any person is in doubt look on your own. Yes it is very cold now but last year was one of the hottest on records. Go to any objective source to see if there are major ice melts everywhere in the world. Look at any of the major glaciers and observe what is going on. It is sad that still a significant number Americans are clueless. You bet it is happening just following the money.