Shakedowns, Money, Political Influence

17Jun10

In the words of Congressman Joe Barton, R-Texas,“I’m ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday. I do not want to live in a country where anytime a citizen or a corporation that does something that is legitimately wrong is subject to some sort of political pressure which … amounts to a shakedown.”

Well, at least he admitted it was legitimately wrong.

As a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee Joe Barton has received $100,470 in political contributions from oil and gas interests since 2009, second only to Roy Blunt, R-Mo., at $133,100. The next highest down was $76,950, while most members of the committee received only a few thousand dollars if anything at all. Source: New York Times

Is there a connection here between cash received and words spoken?

As I drove into work this morning I paid close attention to all of the cars on the highway around me, most with only one person in them (including mine), and the connection between our lifestyle and the oil spill in the Gulf was very clear. In that moment I realized I must turn words into actions. I must methodically take accounting of all the ways I use energy in my life and find ways to reduce them one by one.

Though I love my turbo-infused mid-life beautiful gray Subaru Outback she may have to someday be traded in on a hybrid. But it’s not that simple. New cars require a lot of energy to produce. The batteries that power hybrids require energy to extract the materials from the Earth to build them, and that extraction effort has the same destructive impact as drilling for oil.

I recall a story on the radio about green building or remodeling of homes. The guest said that in fact the most ecological thing to do is nothing. Keep the house you have and takes steps to improve its efficiency. No new materials needed and old materials don’t have to be disposed of. We might apply this same argument to the case of a new car.

In the meantime there are steps I can take to drive less… ride my bike (though half the time I have kids and I don’t want them on a bike with me with a bunch of cars around us), eat in for lunch at work, make that lunch from local ingredients that have not traveled hundreds of miles to work their way to my kitchen, better consolidate errands, drive the Prius instead of the Subaru when the family has to go somewhere… there are many more.

PS: I’m trying the Sigma DP1s again. Frustrating cameras and software, but solely unique with very workable RAW files.



One Response to “Shakedowns, Money, Political Influence”

  1. 1 jon

    Commendable.

    It boggles my mind how difficult it is to understand one’s energy usage and carbon footprint. It’s like telling

    I tried one and got some frightening results for my own annual footprint. I had thought I was doing pretty well but this is a lot!

    Household: (my share is 1/2 the total)
    530 lbs (0.24 metric tons) of CO2 from electricity. Our monthly bill is about $20.
    661 lbs (0.15 mt) of CO2 from natural gas for water heating. Our monthly bill is about $10, I think.

    Car:
    None! But we do some zipcar trips, maybe 1000mi/yr:
    639 lbs (0.29 mt) of CO2

    Commuter Train:
    462 lbs (0.21 mt) from 1,680mi/yr on the N train

    Secondary footprint:
    3,637 lbs (1.65 mt) for my food, clothes, furniture, etc.

    Flights
    3,285 lbs (1.49 mt) for one roundtrip to Boston. Ouch!
    6,503 lbs (2.95 mt) for one roundtrip to London. Ouch!


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