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August 26, 2010

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"The rest of the nation has suffered through the hottest summer on record and still we will do nothing to address climate change."

Suffered are you kidding me? This has been the best summer in 20 years. It's been hot and dry for two months straight, instead of the usual rain, fog, high humidity and sweat. If this is the kind of summer we can expect due to AGW then bring it on! I'll let my car sit in the driveway and idle 24/7 if it means more of this. You can go back to your rain and fog if you like but I want global warming.

Regarding the 20 somethings - I think your going a bit too David Brooks here and trying to extrapolate some big social/generational change out of something not so complicated.

I don't think it's because 25 year olds now are less "grown up" and more to do with the fact that there aren't many job prospects - even for college grads -and this generation has exponentially more student loan debt than previous ones (thanks boomers, for being so "grown up" about properly funding education)

Faced with the same economic situation, I would probably do the same. Wouldn't you?

What do the Republicans really hate? They hate paying Americans to work. They hate good-paying jobs in the US. Forget gays and abortions -- those are just meant to distract people. Many Republicans are gay or have abortions. The real focus of the Republican Party is to destroy jobs in the United States and crush wages to a 3rd World level.

The Republicans want 98% of the American people to barely survive at a subsistence level, and for all the wealth to belong to the other 2%.

The Republicans don't hate immigrants. They hate the idea of paying the immigrants. They want illegal immigration and non-enforcement of immigration laws.

The Republicans hate white middle-class wage-earners as much, or more, than people with brown or black skin.

The Republicans hate paying taxes and hate signing payroll checks. They want low taxes and slave labor.

The Republicans hate America, and hate 98% of the American people.

Republicans are globalists. Republicans only represent the very wealthy, and are actually opposed to the interests of 98% of the US population. Republicans represent multinational corporations, CEOs, global banks, wealthy business owners, billionaires, and the wealthy investor class. Republicans savagely hate anyone who works for a paycheck. If you work for a paycheck, you are a cost to the groups that the Republicans really represent, and the Republicans hate you for that. The goal of the Republican Party is to crush those costs, or eliminate them. All the other stuff mentioned - gays, abortions, women's rights, First Amendments, brown skin, Muslims, etc. are just distractors meant to confuse low-information voters.

The only thing that bothers Republicans about Social Security is that it is a cost to the groups that they represent.

When are people going to get it? The Republican and Democratic parties should just be fused into the "Globalist Party." Neither represents me.

I want a party that represents me. I want a "Jobs for Americans" Party that represents Americans who work for a paycheck and people who are not millionaires. The principles of the JFA Party should be that job creation is the most important economic goal; a rejection of globalization as it is now practiced; withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan; securing our borders; a moratorium on ALL immigration until Americans have jobs; and a clean-up of Wall Street and the financial regulations. Add more as you like, but the focus should be on creating jobs for Americans.

The Republicans savagely, passionately, hate the idea of creating jobs for Americans.

@Kevin, regardless of the root cause, this is problematic for our society. Able-bodied and able-minded adults should be far more invested in improving the world around themselves, both for their own sake and for their loved ones and fellow humans. I see this as a critical point for our consumption-focused and non-inquisitive cultural mindset, which I hope has reached such a saturation that we will have no choice but to set a new course.

The question remains whether we can do anything to snap out of it, or whether we will stand by and let our society continue to be taken over by the global elite. As we spent the last several decades obsessed with earnings and meaningless possessions that just kept pouring in more easily, we have neglected the greatest global currency, empathy. To borrow from the lectures of Jeremy Rifkin, I would argue that reaching deep into our communal psyche and reinvigorating our need for empathy is the only way to bring back a truly human sense of duty and usher in a new golden age. Otherwise, we may be screwed.

And I suppose that the slacker/grunge movement that was rooted in your new hometown in the mid-'80s to early '90s had absolutely nothing to do with the unemployment rate.

It's easy to call the current generation of young workers "entitled," but it's more accurate to say that they (or their parents) have spent a lot of money on college educations that have done nothing to erase the "experience paradox." When these young workers can't develop their professional skills because of this obstacle, they're not only suffering in the short-term, but their long-term financial earnings are at stake, as well.

Happy travels, Jon. Enjoy the good people and the good things that yet remain in Arizona.

Jon - these are the people who thrive on your coat tails? How can you sleep at night?

Kurt Vonnegut imagined a future America in his 1976 novel Slapstick where oil is running out, the Chinese are taking over the world, and people are so tenuously conjoined that everyone is assigned a new extended family. The subtitle is Lonesome No More.

The sadness of contemporary America is everywhere around us. It's not that our lives are bad or that individual happiness is absent. Rather, it's this growing feeling that things are getting worse, and more ominously, that there's nothing that can pull us out of this tailspin. In Arizona, the signs are physically manifest. The politics and "solutions" are understandably hysterical (h/t Terry).

Obama will be in New Orleans this weekend commemorating the fifth anniversary of Katrina. In Washington DC, ex-Phoenix DJ Glenn Beck has the stunt of his storied career planned: a topsy-turvy March on Washington where white people play the victims. Maybe Ben Quayle will show up to kick some ass.

Mr. Talton wrote:

"The rest of the nation has suffered through the hottest summer on record and still we will do nothing to address climate change..."

Algae to the rescue?

"...algae is considered carbon-neutral. It produces oxygen and absorbs carbon dioxide as it grows and then releases the same amount of CO2 when it burns."

What's this got to do with taming climate change?

"Scientists have long known that algae, one of the most primitive forms of plant life, create lipids or oils in their cells that can be extracted and converted into fuel. ASU scientists have discovered particularly "oil rich" algae strains... They are also at the forefront of developing new methods to extract the oil and turn it into biodiesel and aviation fuel."

Yes, but doesn't this require special engines or other, expensive infrastructure changes?

"Unlike hydrogen power or electric vehicles, algae fuel won't require new engines to burn it or new infrastructure to deliver it. It will be remarkably similar to the diesel fuel that trucks and cars use and the JP-8 jet fuel that aircraft burn."

OK, but how much fuel can algae produce? Given the amount of petroleum we use, can it really make a dent in the problem?

"Scientists at Arizona State University's Polytechnic campus say major innovations in research in recent years have put them on the brink of boosting production capabilities from thousands of gallons to millions - the difference between powering a few vehicles and fueling millions of cars and fleets of airliners...ASU researchers say they are three to five years from large-scale production...ASU and the laboratory have also partnered with a local company to develop equipment for large-scale production of algae fuel as they seek to establish it as a credible alternative."

Isn't this just the usual optimistic moonshine from the alternative fuels crowd? How practical is this, really?

"ASU Senior Vice President Rick Shangraw said that although solar energy and hydrogen power hold great promise, algae will "deliver soon" because, in the past few years, "most of the hard science problems regarding algae have been solved. "Now," he said, "it's largely an engineering problem." "

Isn't this one of those "miracle solutions" that requires more energy to produce than you get from it?

"Shangraw said that, unlike with ethanol, growing and harvesting algae results in an energy gain "because you get more energy out at the end of the process than you put in." In addition, the byproducts from algae can be turned into fertilizer or feedstock for animals."

Yes, but what kind of energy do you need to produce it? It doesn't do much good for algae-based fuel to be carbon neutral if lots of dirty energy sources are used to produce it. Also, isn't growing algae water intensive? How can we afford that?

"Shangraw said Arizona is uniquely situated to cash in on the development of algal-based fuels. "We have lots of sunshine, plenty of land," he said. "We have lots of agricultural sites from which we can get what otherwise would be wastewater but because of its high nutrient and saline content is perfect for growing algae."

OK, sunshine and wastewater don't sound bad as inputs. But how much does this stuff cost?

"Shangraw said that as research-and-development advances reduce the price of algae fuel from its current cost of about $20 a gallon to more like $3 or $4 a gallon, we need to look carefully at the "true costs" of fossil fuels vs. biofuels. The military and human cost of keeping oil flowing from the Middle East, for example... "We have to shift away from fossil fuels, especially petroleum. There are skeptics who say biofuels are too expensive, but when you factor in things like climate change and the eventual cost of that, we don't look expensive at all..."

"...Or what about the cost of the BP oil spill in the Gulf?" Shangraw said. "Economists call these other costs 'externalities.' The factors should figure into the price of something. If we had all those factors, the cost of oil would be a lot higher, and the cost of some other fuels, like fuel from algae, would look a lot more reasonable." "

http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/news/articles/2010/08/27/20100827arizona-biofuel-industry-research.html

@soleri:

Yes, ol' Kurt V. is sorely missed. He certainly saw it all coming.

John Michael Greer of The Archdruid Report has an online dystopian novel in the same vein, Star's Reach. He's up to chapter sixteen, readers here might enjoy.

(Hope I got those links right!)

Looks like I didn't:

http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/

http://starsreach.blogspot.com/

Emil: In order for algae to be a viable solution, there needs to be a more efficient means of extracting the usable lipids from the algae.

While the world is running down, one still has to try to make the best of it while we are still around. This young man - boy has been facing the greatest challenge one can ever address, and has been told now the end is coming. The big picture is depressing enough, but the courage and spirit this youngster and his family exhibit and display in the face of overwhelming adversity will stir the soul and heart, all while one sobs in the deepest form of grief and sadness ....

http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/chasechesbro/guestbook

While news everywhere is seemingly bad and never seems to get better, it is reports like this about individual lives that can give us courage, hope, and inspiration in the face of all the challenges we face individually, collectively, and as a society. It is always darkest before the dawn, even if the dawn is something we are unfamiliar with and lack an understanding of in a full complete way.

Hi everyone. I just returned from 17 days in the Arizona mountains. I have no comment other than to quote our Governor during the recent debate ("--- ------- ------ ------ ------ --- ---- ----- ------") I couldn't have said it any better. Elect an uneducated person as governor to run an uneducted populace and you get what you paid for. (Mick, I enjoy your commentary. I somewhat agree with your comments, my only consolation is that I am a really good shot with my Henry 22 rifle and the squirrels on our property are looking quite yummy these days. We also have jack rabbits that could feed a family of four quite easily) I hope it doesn't come to that.

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