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So, looking at the past week, we had the RNC, the Republican National Convention. I don’t know about you, but while I was watching, I noticed a dramatic difference between it, and the DNC, which took place the week before.


I don’t know if it was my own perceptions that were biased … I’m open to that being a possibility, but it seemed that it was filled with many more negative attacks than was the DNC. Where the DNC did point to what they believed was wrong with the policies and record of Senator McCain, where we did hear that McCain would be “more of the same” as we have with George Bush, the RNC was filled with a great many more personal attacks. Sarah Palin’s comment stating that a Mayor might be like a community organizer, except that it was accompanied with actual responsibilities, is one example. I just don’t recall hearing such personal attacks against individuals when I was listening to the DNC.


Also happening in St. Paul, were a large number of arrests which I don’t recall happening in Denver. The DNC actually had a place for protesters to peacefully gather, and to protest, speak, and so on. With the RNC, there were paid informants infiltrating organizations, arrests, injuries, vehicles confiscated, and then excuses of misunderstandings. People were beaten, and apparently denied medical treatment, people were left to fend for themselves on the side of the road, not permitted to re-enter their vehicles even to get a pair of shoes. All of this after being promised that protesters would be welcome and well-treated.


Amy Goodman was arrested because she demanded to speak to someone in charge. One of her reporters was handcuffed and dragged away by his feet, his face dragged on the pavement. Their credentials as reporters seemingly meaning nothing.


Some of Starhawk’s people were arrested and charged with conspiracy to riot and terrorism. If you’re not familiar with Starhawk, she is the author of “The Spiral Dance”, “Truth or Dare”, “The Pagan Book of Living and Dying”, and many other books. She’s perhaps one of the few people who have been directly responsible for the resurgence of the Goddess movement here in the United States. The Spiral Dance was one of the first books on Paganism that I read, and still remains one of the most popular Pagan books to this day.


Starhawk was in St. Paul, for the RNC. Days after their van, the Permibus was confiscated, they were told that it was an “unfortunate misunderstanding”, and that the police were “sorry”, but that the owners would still have to come up with the money to have it towed away from the yard because police policy and insurance requirements would not permit them to drive it away.


Certainly, it doesn’t seem to have been the “welcoming” city that many were told it was to be.


In any case, I did listen to the speakers. I’m trying to live what I talk, and hear both sides of the story, or in this case, both sets of candidates. I may have a position that I already espouse, but I’m trying to give myself the opportunity to hear both sides.


For those of you who haven’t heard yet, the New Hampshire State Primary is Tuesday. In most towns, the polls will be open from about 8:00 am to 7:00 pm. We all know that in the General elections we’ll have the opportunity to vote for specific candidates for various elections. The primaries though, are our opportunity to state who, exactly, will be on those ballots for various positions such as Governor, representatives and such. While our president may seem to be the most important office we’ll vote for, our governors, senators, representatives, sheriffs and others do have an impact on our lives. If you ‘re able, I urge you to read the papers this weekend, see who is running for the various offices, and get out there, fill out a ballot, and decide who you want on the ballot in November. If the choice comes down to “the lesser of two evils”, right now is the opportunity we have to give ourselves a good choice in November.


One thing I’ll be looking at in candidates is their readiness to adopt alternative energy sources. Scientists examining the weather have noted that this year, this month, to be exact, we are likely to have 5 named tropical storms, four of which will likely rise to the level of hurricanes. We’ve got Hanna today, Ike is on the way, and Josephine is following along.


The cause of this high rate of storms is higher than average surface water temperatures, and lower barometric pressure.


A category 5 storm was supposed to be the theoretical limit for hurricanes; Wind-speeds in such storms were theoretically unable to surpass the 175 MPH or so maximum. This is due to turbulence and entropy and other forces which govern the nature of such storms. So-called super-storms weren’t really possible.


In 2005, Hurricane Wilma approached this maximum theoretical limit. The barometric pressure in the center of the storm was the lowest recorded, and the wind-speeds the highest since the 1935 storm that hit the keys on Labor Day. Scientists have recently reported models for hurricanes, based on global warming measurements that show that such dynamics could create hurricanes of far greater magnitude, suggesting that the scale show the possibility of category 6 or even category 7, which would far exceed the destructive forces of storms that we’ve seen to date.


While there is some dispute as to the reality of our contribution to the warming of the environment, the simple truth is that we are pouring chemicals into the air and the land and the water that simply weren’t there years ago. Greenhouse gasses are greenhouse gasses. They will trap the heat, and they will warm the environment. Some say that far more of these gasses might come from volcanoes and other natural sources than what we produce. That may be true, but we are producing far more of these than we have in the past.


We’ve also reduced the amount of vegetation that used to exist to absorb these greenhouse gasses. Trees are remarkable filters, and we’re de-foresting our entire planet. I remember an advertisement some years ago, where someone was rhythmically snapping his fingers. Snap --- there goes an acre. Snap --- there goes an acre. Snap …. Snap …. Snap. I wanted to jump through the television screen and stop him from snapping his fingers. But it wasn’t him that was cutting down the trees.


I recently heard that the amount of CO2 that one person is responsible for can be taken up by seven trees. I don’t recall if that’s just what we breathe, or if it includes automobiles or what, but we’re simply producing more, and losing more and more trees. To those who might claim that we’re doing little comparatively, with respect to CO2 or greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere, I’d remind them that it was a single straw that broke the camel’s back.  In a balanced system, it doesn’t necessarily take a great deal to unbalance it.


We’ve also been a bit irresponsible when it comes to the way we handle rivers and streams. Rivers that used to flood fields are now walled in. Where silt that would nurture fields, making them more fertile, would once be removed from the river beds, levees now keep that silt in riverbeds. At the mouth of the Mississippi, wetlands have been denied the nurturing floods. Where they used to act as a buffer, absorbing water during floods, they are now dead, and unable to absorb water, leaving New Orleans more prone to damage by floods. Parts of the city are built on wetlands that are actually sinking, making the danger even greater.


We need to keep our politicians accountable to us, and to insure that they represent our best interests, as well as our wishes. I want to see those in office who actually listen to me and what I want, rather than what they, in their arrogance, see as “good for me, whether I know it or not”.


We are supposed to live in a representative democracy. Without our input, and without accountability to us, we are ineffective, and our representatives are impotent to do what we expect of them.


Do you want more nuclear power, or not? What are the candidate’s stances on nuclear power? What do you know about nuclear power? Do you really know how safe or unsafe it is? Is a nuclear plant really a bomb waiting to explode, or are modern plants actually safe? Are they really that expensive, or is most of the expense brought about because of legal and political challenges?


Is wind power truly benign? Is it really free energy? Might there be costs or environmental impacts that we don’t yet understand?


What about solar power? Is it really green? One aspect of solar energy that sort of drives me nuts lately is those solar “garden lights” that are so popular. People are told that these are green because they don’t take energy from the grid. When you look at the environmental impact that is caused by creating these “green” lamps, and by disposing of them when they ultimately malfunction, they are really environmentally dirty.


Few people will disassemble them to remove the batteries or lead solder prior to disposing of them. We have NiCd batteries and other chemicals that will soon be filling landfills. There are plastics, which are derived from oil, the energy used to make the silicon solar wafer, the circuit board, the LEDs, wires and batteries, all constructed in factories which are polluting the air, then the products are shipped around the world, and used to illumine a garden or walkway that has been safely navigated for years or centuries, without such lighting.


We buy into the marketing, and think that we’re saving energy, by buying a lamp to illuminate an area at night, that really doesn’t need to be lit.


So, I guess that my recommendation is to think through what it is that you’re doing. Take time to consider the ramifications. In the election season, do the same thing. We’re shopping for leaders who are supposed to be accountable to us. Let’s look for those who will be, for those who are intelligent, accessible, and accountable.


© 2008, Deirdre Hebert