Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Changes in Latitudes

We elected a new president under the mantra of "change" and "Yes we can!” There's no doubt there's going to be change and with the right balance I'm confident that change will do us all good.

I didn't vote for Mr. Obama (or McCain) but reading up on the subjects in the "love triangle" (environment, health, food), in the wake of his win, I'm optimistic he gets the connection. Of course that's speculation mixed with high hopes. (I'm not too happy with his pick for USDA chief but I'm willing to give him a chance.)

One subject I know will be sure to cause a lot of discussion (to put it politely) when Mr. Obama becomes president is climate change. In case you didn't know, "they're" trying to replace global warming as the term because climate change helps convey that there are changes in addition to rising temperatures (and probably because it flies in the face of the extreme cold and heavy snow in some parts of the country and world.)

I like to live by the phrase "don't sweat the small stuff" and try to keep focused on the big picture. But in the case of climate change, it's the opposite. I can't say one way or another with certainty whether we're affecting the climate or not. But to me it doesn't matter because every reasonable step we take in the name of thwarting climate change is a step we take to better health, a lower cost of living, and leaving a sustainable planet to future generations.

Changes in Attitude

And that's the point I'm hoping climate skeptics will think about when the debate starts up. One trend I'm suddenly seeing is almost every environmental issue is now attaching itself to climate change. In the beginning I thought it was great. For some reason a lot of people who had no care about air pollution suddenly were interested in CO2 levels and reducing their carbon footprint. But now I'm afraid it's turning people off from better consideration of other important environmental issues. Issues that will no doubt be coming up for public/congressional debate.

For instance, an article the other day pointed out how the entire Southeast is under threats of water shortages in the not too distant future- and climate change is going to worsen it.

And another article reported new coal powered plants are being held up not so much because of their terrible air pollution or for the other perfectly good reasons (as I pointed out in last Wednesday's Green Acres post) but mostly because of possible new rules for climate change under the Obama administration.

Anyway, I just ask that when you hear some new law or regulation being debated in Congress with climate change attached to it that it doesn't cloud your judgement and you consider the small picture. Please consider addressing water pollution/shortages and air pollution whether from coal plants, factories or CAFO's (confined or concentrated animal feeding operations) on their own merits even if they're attached to the coattails of climate change.

Now what in the name of climate change can Mr. Obama’s change possibly mean for IRC?

To be honest, I don't really know. I just know there's talk about a stimulus plan costing nearly a trillion dollars and a lot of it is in the name of holding off climate change. But it's mostly going into infrastructure, green technology, green jobs, alternative energy, health care, education, and food. You know we have to stop looking at growth as a driver of our economy. If there's a windfall for us from a stimulus package I'd like to see it used to set ourselves up sustainably for the long haul. It might be for naught but is there any reason we shouldn't start putting together an outline of possibilities should Mr. Obama's plan come to pass?

Infrastructure: If we could, what would upgrading our rail system do for us? Would a bridge to beachside in Sebastian improve business the same as new industry? What other infrastructure needs attention? How about public transportation? Does it serve everyone? Is it practical to use to get to work? Especially for those in the poorer neighborhoods?

Education: Most of our out of work construction people are ready for green jobs. A lot of other green jobs don't need a college degree but they do need training. Can we find (clean) industry in need of skilled workers and put them out for them as an incentive to locate here? Also, can we adopt vocational training for other green jobs? Can we reduce our recidivism rates through educational or vocational programs for those same jobs? (Funding is already slated for next year for the training of green jobs.)

They'll go along with what some are saying may be a green energy corps. Who in our community should be the first to have their homes or small businesses retrofitted to be energy efficient? Or which non-profit offices or publicly owned buildings should be first?

Not the last or the least, alternative energy: Is it possible for the county to build and own its own solar panel manufacturing plant? Or how about a county owned solar power plant? Is it possible to use federal dollars to help fund rooftop solar for county residents? (Some places are loaning homeowners the money interest free or low interest, to put solar on their roof and spreading the bill out on their property taxes.)

What possibilities can you think of?

With wishes of a happy, healthy New Year, TTFN, LDouglas

P. S. My apologies to Max. I didn't mean to pilfer your signature. It's just that I could think of no other headings that fit as perfectly as they did. (In my defense I've always thought there was a song title or lyrics about most any subject you could think of.).


LDouglas said...

Did you hear about the coal ash spill since my last post? It's pretty bad.
It was on NBC news but I'm having trouble with their videos.

It's explained here though:

Also, since I wrote this post, TCPalm had this report:

It's good to know we're counting our chickens- even though they haven't hatched yet.

piaffe4me said...

Ldouglas, I appreciate your comments and I am absolutely concerned about the issues you have brought up on both this article and previous issues. I am cautiously optimistic about the federal government under Obama (I WAS one of the registered Republicans who voted for him, but that is a subject for another time), but specifically for Indian River County, there is NO HOPE for us with our current local government in power. I am sorry to say, that not only are they not interested in future sustainability, they (three of them) are so interested in the raping of our county that they make one BAD decision after another. Case in point, the sand mining issue. I will not get into the specifics, as they encompass a year of work, but Flescher, Davis and Solari slashed and burned what was probably the best written piece of legislation that this county has ever seen. They stomped on sustainability, they ignored environmental issues EVEN when those issues will detrimentally affect the conservation property that WE paid $12 million for, and worst of all, do not care about the fact that a mountain of evidence points to draw-down of water tables in a much greater area than 100-300 feet into the adjoining properties. Add to this, the fact that the OVERWHELMING public outcry fell on deaf ears. We need to remove them from office as soon as possible, starting with Joe Flescher. And if we stay the course and remove all 3 of them (replacing them with QUALIFIED, INTELLIGENT PEOPLE WHO UNDERSTAND THE NEED FOR SUSTAINABILITY IN THIS COUNTY--sorry for yelling, but IRC is notorious for keeping the status quo)then maybe we will be able to retrieve our county from the path to becoming the twin sister of Western Dade, some of Palm Beach, and most of Putnam. We also need to attract legitimate agricultural enterprises that are not so big that they do not service our local economy with PRODUCT as well as monetarily, in addition to all the great suggestions you listed in our article....but again, our immediate problem is our own local government!!

LDouglas said...

Thank you for the reply. If the economy doesn't improve by the next election it may not bode well for getting new and better commissioners. As shortsighted as it is, the environment is usually the first to suffer in hard times. One reason I'm really hoping the green economy will be successful.

Nice idea about attracting smaller scale agricultural enterprises. I removed the segment I had written about it for this post but under the stimulus plan there is also mention of helping organic agriculture. Along with pressure from some to encourage schools to stop serving processed foods and start serving whole foods, preferably, foods grown within 100 miles.

We send so many of our food dollars out of the county (state and country too)at the detriment to the farmer, to us and our local economy.

Again, thanks for the reply. I know there are plenty of people out there who share the same concerns but sometimes it feels good to hear it from them.

LDouglas said...

I decided to go ahead and post the questions I removed:

What can we do to encourage the food grown here to stay here and what can we do to make it more assessable to the elderly or poor? Or what about the county buying some foreclosed lots in working class neighborhoods and turning them into community gardens?

piaffe4me said...

I have written letters to all our state reps from the Gub'na on down about closing the State Parks...I know, I know, different subject, different source (same author, LDouglas :-) ).
Great questions on your comment above. I know the owners of Takaho (the new potato farm on 82nd Avenue) I will approach them about your ideas about making a percentage of their locally grown produce (potatoes) available to charities like food banks, etc. that are for our local communities...if you have an idea about that, I am all ears (eyes in this case? LOL) and will pass the suggestion along. I think that community gardens are also an idea worth much exploration!

LDouglas said...

That's great piaffe4me. Did you check the box asking for a reply? I did. I'm curious to see if they get back to me. Can't believe they'd actually consider closing state parks without even trying a higher entrance fee.

I'm not sure if I have any ideas about that, that are practical. Young new farmers have so many challenges that I wonder if they're even in a position to look beyond making ends meet.

Community gardens are neat because they bring people in a neighborhood together in a way that nothing else really could. And I don't know if there's a better way to foster community spirit than growing and sharing food together.

BlessUrHeart said...

Piaffe4me is dead on about the county commission members, and if people care about our county [and they do] I cannot imagine why they voted Solari in when he is worse than Bowden! Once again, the PJ is partly to blame, hiding his record and not covering the issues, but STILL!! jeez. sets us back another two years, if we can at least get Flescher out then. what a liar and sell-out he is.

thx, LDouglas, for more positive ideas, the way we should be attacking these problems. even in good times these issues get ignored, so we'll hope this gets people thinking.