Monday, May 18, 2009

Thoughts on Hurricane Bubba

On May 8th, Southern Illinois was hit by an inland hurricane. I was huddled in my room with my son, waiting for it to blow over, but it seemed to last forever. We kept hearing horrible ripping noises from the roof, and eventually it occured to me that we were possibly going to be refugees, so we needed our shoes on. We went into the other room to get our shoes. The room has windows that showed up scary things outside, like trees blowing over. Boy, did we run back to the other room!
It all ended well, for us. The ripping sound turned out to be shingles, not the actual roof. The trees landed around our house, not on it. We are not refugees. Our water, gas and phone stayed on, and our electricity was only off for 3 days. We had food.

The people of Iraq were subjected to 24 hours a day terrorism by US bombs in March 2003. What kind of horrific people would deliberately subject other people to such misery? To openly attack infrastructure, as the US did in Iraq and Yugoslavia, is a war crime for the very reason that it is uncivilized and cruel.
Not only does the US terrorize civilians, innocent men, women and children, with bombs, it destroys the electricity that makes life pleasant, and the water and sewage treatment plants that make life safe, and the hospitals that treat the wounded and the bridges that help people travel, and the schools for the children and the media that reports on it all.
This country is barbaric and I am ashamed to live here. Going through the terror of the hurricane, and the inconvenience of no electricity makes the hell the Iraqis have lived through for six years more immediately outrageous to me. And that is no small feat! I have been outraged the entire time.

The destruction here is unbelievable. The winds supposedly hit over 100 mph. The wind monitor broke, so they don't know for sure. There are giant trees down everywhere. Every power line seemed to have a tree on it. I didn't think we'd have electricity for weeks. But there are power crews everywhere, and tree cutting crews.
Enormous four and five foot diameter trees are being chopped into 4 foot pieces and hauled off to be burned! Are they crazy? It's like burning money to destroy all this potential lumber. They could chop them into 8 or 10 foot pieces and haul them to the sawmill. They could use them in any number of other ways, as the Shawnee Green Party statement that I posted points out. It's not like trees spoil, and have to be disposed of immediately. Aging is good for them.
So now I'm coughing from the smoke, and distressed at the giant waste.
What is wrong with these people? It's not the workers. I found a young man at my door a few days after the storm. He had few teeth, but many tattoos. I thought he was going to ask me for food, but he was cutting my neighbor's trees, and wanted to know if I wanted some woodchips. He said "They're just going to burn them. It's such a waste".
So this young man can see clearly what the city manager getting paid the big bucks can't. I called the EPA to complain about the burning and they said it was the city that OK'd it. I called the manager, but he didn't bother to call back.
I believe that the reason we had the unprecedented storm is the extra energy from the carbon dioxide we're dumping in the atmosphere. And now there are hundreds of years of stored carbon from these trees being added to it. Heck of a job, Gillie!
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Shawnee Green Party on Tree Burning









Stop the Wasteful Burning of Wood!

an appeal by the Shawnee Green Party

May 15, 2009

On May 8, 2009, Jackson, Williamson, Randolph and Saline Counties in Southern Illinois were struck by an extreme weather event, variously described as an "inland hurricane," or more accurately as a "meso-cyclone," with high winds that uprooted mature trees, knocked down power lines and generally wreaked havoc. One week later, Southern Illinoisans are still struggling to recover from the disaster.

In many ways, local government officials rose to the occasion, and did a commendable job of responding to the disaster, taking steps to provide relief to the tens of thousands of residents affected. But that makes it all the more unfortunate that so many of them have fallen into an old, destructive and reflexive habit of handling "debris" in a backward manner – by burning it.

Thousands of trees, some a hundred years old or more, are now being hauled to burn sites to be destroyed as so much "trash," polluting the air in the process. Some residents are also just burning the downed timber on their own. Why this almost automatic response, that downed trees, just like leaves every Fall, are "supposed" to be burned? Why aren’t our public officials thinking about the consequences of this – and more positive and economical alternatives?

The trees that are now being burned have other potential uses. Some of them could be turned into valuable lumber, furniture or other wood products. Some of the wood could be sent to paper mills and turned into paper. Some of it could be turned into wood chips or mulch. And some of it could be burned – but to a purpose, providing heat in wood stoves during the Winter, replacing gas or electric heat, instead of being senselessly burned in the open air on a warm Spring day, polluting the air for no good purpose at all.

This practice is senseless, both economically and environmentally. At a time when the same public officials are noting how costly this disaster has been to local communities and governments, it is careless to just destroy resources that could be used for productive and even profitable purposes. At a time when environmentalists constantly have to fight to keep lumber and paper corporations from logging in our publicly owned forests, including the Shawnee, it makes no sense to waste all of this wood that nature has literally dumped into our lap. Why haven’t our local officials contacted some of these lumber and paper companies to see if they would like to take advantage of this literal windfall, and help our communities out in the process? And if for some reason these companies won’t respond, why not encourage some local entrepreneurs or form a cooperative to step into the breach, and create some local jobs in the process?

The burning of the wood not only releases particulate matter into the atmosphere, it also releases CO2, one of the main greenhouse gases responsible for global warming and climate change. The appalling irony of this should not escape notice. True, it is impossible to prove that any one unusual weather event, like an "inland hurricane," was caused by global warming, just as it is impossible to prove that smoking cigarettes caused any one particular person to get lung cancer. But by looking at the human population as a whole, we know for a fact that smoking causes lung cancer, and looking at the climate as a whole, we know that human-caused greenhouse gas emissions are disrupting the climate and causing an increase in extreme and unusual weather events. Thus, at the very time when we are recovering from just such an event, it is maddeningly irresponsible for public officials to not only condone but encourage the wasteful burning of carbon-storing trees.

Accordingly, we of the Shawnee Green Party call for an immediate cessation of the burning of trees and other vegetation by local units of government and individuals. We urge our local officials to please think about what they are doing and take some time to consider other alternatives. Once the trees are removed from the power lines and public thoroughfares, it does no harm to let them lie for a brief period while we consider other options. Let’s explore other, more productive, economical and socially responsible alternatives.


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Saturday, May 2, 2009

When Pigs Fly

So the USA has forgotten the bail-out scandal. We are caught up in the swine flu scare! Someone in America died from the new flu, so we all have to wear masks and haul our kids to the ER to get tested. The government is making arrangements for forced vaccines and mandatory quarantines, but close the border? To quote Janet Napolitano, "That's like locking the barn door after the horse is gone".

WTF????? This is another mind-boggling inconsistency. Like 9-11, where we are told that oil rich terrorists attacked our country, so let's buy SUVs and go on vacation, we are told Mexico is the source of a brand new flu which is putting us all in eminent danger, and we must close schools and quarantine victims, but stop the flow into and out of the supposed source? No, that's just silly.

And the new flu, which is a mixture of swine, bird and human viruses, has never been seen before. They were calling it "swine flu", but pressure from the pork industry made them change the name. They called it "swine" because there are 2 swine viruses present, in addition to one bird and one human. Of course, no pigs or birds are actually sick in Mexico. And one of the swine viruses is of US orgin and one is Eurasian. Hence, the title of my post. Somehow, pigs from 2 continents met and mingled viruses. Apparently, the long awaited "when pigs fly" has arrived! And I guess while they were flying, they picked up the bird virus. Soon, hell will freeze over.

But we have heard this story before. Back when AIDS was first identified, they referred to it as a virus which had never been seen before. Apparently, it, too, was a mixture of different viruses. Although a biowarfare researcher had testifed before Congress in 1969, asking for funds to continue the work on a new virus, "a synthetic biological agent, an agent that does not naturally exist and for which no natural immunity could have been acquired", anyone making a connection between the biowarfare research and the AIDS epidemic is called a conspiracy theorist. No, the "truth" is that AIDS was in Africa for decades, but no one ever noticed it. But they found some blood stored in a freezer since 1959. The freezer had never been cleaned, it functioned for decades and the power never went off, so they tested the blood and, by George, it had AIDS! Well, that proves it! And then a Swedish flight attendant went to Africa and had sex with infected people and then he went to San Francisco, New York and Haiti and had sex with people there. And then, in the 80s, it was noticed in Africa. And Brazil. I don't know the official story for how it got to Brazil next. It doesn't matter. You must believe what they tell you, or you are a crazy conspiracy theorist.

So here we are in 2009. Pigs that aren't sick and birds that aren't sick have spread widely dispersed viruses to humans, or so we are told. And the humans getting sick are widely geographically dispersed. Don't ask questions or you're a conspiracy theorist. Buy some Tamiflu. Rumsfield needs the money. And when they announce that they've made a vaccine, be sure to take it. Although this flu doesn't seem very lethal, they're been working on others.

They have announced that the 1918 flu had a spring debut, and then returned in the fall for it's most lethal performance. They have announced that making a vaccine will take six months. Hmmm, just in time for the return performance of the new swine flu. And, by the way, the 1918 flu was called a swine flu until recently, when it was decreed a bird flu. I'm not sure when the change was made, maybe when they recently dug up a flu victim preserved in permafrost and replicated the virus that killed her?

But I'm making connections that can't be made, talking trash and thinking forbidden thoughts.

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