Editor of the Reformer:
My current comments are prompted by another spate of sad, destructive motorcycle crashes. Several more people are dead. According to the World Health Organization and one large, on-going University study, the killing and maiming of people on roads is one of the top 10 threats to human health and well-being. Is this carnage just an unfortunate by product of modern living? Stuff happens, right? I would argue, emphatically, "no."
Most data show that about half of motorcycle crashes are self-inflicted. No other vehicle is involved. In these crashes, the usual suspects are too much speed on corners, booze, limited vision at night, deer hits, or, overlying everything, fatigue and/or inattentiveness. Please notice that almost everything on this list is something the rider can do quite a lot about.
But the other half of the crashes involves another vehicle. Inattentive drivers doing anything and everything while they mosey down the road, are usually the cause. A post crash interview often reveals that the driver didn’t see the rider. How could this be? Is there some basic defect in human perception that prevents one’s seeing something in the roadway that weighs between 500 and 1,000 pounds. Would we hit a rock this large? Hello? Paying attention out there? Interestingly, this pervasive dynamic is also partly under the control of the rider, because the motorcyclist -- presumably paying attention as if his or her life depends on it -- can and must help the driver to see the rider and bike (lane position, following distance, gear color).
My point here is that many motorcycle crashes, or crashes in general require the (in)active participation of the driver/rider. If we don’t pay attention, eventually, we bend fenders, slaughter wildlife and pets, hit pedestrians and kill and dismember each other. Do you think about this each time you get on or in your vehicle? Don’t you owe it to yourself and the rest of us to do so?
In about two years, the leader of Syria has managed to kill about 100,000 fellow Syrians. Here, in America, it takes us about three years to do the same on our own roads. Why are we thinking about bombing Assad while just shrugging off our own massacre? It boggles the mind.
Marlboro, Aug. 27
The next step after VY closes
Editor of the Reformer:
Great news today, big victory for the home team, but one that is full of interesting ironies.
For example, the first reason that Entergy gives for shutting down Vermont Yankee is "A natural gas market that has undergone a transformational shift in supply due to the impacts of shale gas, resulting in sustained low natural gas prices and wholesale energy prices."
Shale gas, of course, which is accessed through hydrofracking, is one of the hydrocarbons that climate change activists oppose for a number of very good reasons (pollution of groundwater, methane gas release, detrimental health effects for humans and other living beings.), but most of all because its burning only adds to our greenhouse pollution at a time when we need to be seriously reducing our reliance on fossil fuels as we move past 400 ppm in the atmosphere and closer to the 2 degree Celsius rise in temperature that most scientists agree is the absolute maximum we can tolerate without risking climate catastrophe (some scientists are skeptical about even 2 degrees by reminding us of the serious consequences we’ve already experienced with just an .8 degree rise).
Additional irony: this natural gas boom that Big Oil is experiencing right now is really going to be short-lived, like maybe 20 or 30 years. Get ahold of a copy of Richard Heinberg’s "Snake Oil: How Fracking’s False Promise of Plenty Imperils Our Future," for further details, but in a recent article he writes, "America’s hundred years of natural gas, heralded by President Obama as a national energy game-changer, actually amounts to a mere 24 years by official estimates, even less according to unofficial but well-informed calculations Before 2020, shale gas and tight oil production will top out and start to decline." Thank goodness the Entergy suits didn’t read this before arriving at their salutary decision -- they might have decided to try to hang in there a little longer.
Perhaps one of the great unintended, but welcome results of this news might be that it will free up the energy and time of all the wonderful people who have working to close down VY to now focus their attention on what is truly the issue of our times: climate change, and the need to resist the unchecked greed of Big Oil. For those so inclined, Post Oil’s Community Resistance Project next meets Monday, Sept. 16, 6 p.m., Brattleboro Food Co-op meeting room.
Post Oil Solutions, Aug. 28
Editor of the Reformer:
From the viewpoint of a citizen who is not allowed a vote on the concerns of the safety of nuclear power, there is something poetic about the nuclear industry falling on their sword of "too cheap to meter" ....
Putney, Aug. 28