Thursday, July 29, 2010

A $1.4 million prize offered to help restore our oceans and environmental future

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An oil spill in Michigan?! God help us!

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(CNN) -- Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm is calling on the Environmental Protection Agency and a Canada-based energy company to step up efforts to contain an oil spill in the Kalamazoo River, after more than 840,000 gallons of oil leaked from a pipeline since Monday.

"There needs to be a lot more done," the governor said Tuesday, after touring the river area in a helicopter. "We don't have enough resources right now for containing the spill to the level where we can feel comfortable."

"The last thing any of us want is to see a smaller version of what has happened in the Gulf," she said, referring to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Oil began leaking from the 30-inch line Monday, moving from Talmadge Creek into the Kalamazoo River, which flows from near the city of Battle Creek into Lake Michigan. The pipeline normally carries 190,000 barrels of oil per day from Griffith, Indiana, to Sarnia, Ontario.

Officials do not know what caused the oil to leak, but the pipeline now has been shut down. It is owned by Enbridge Energy Partners, based in Canada.

The slick spans some 16 miles, and the governor is worried it could reach popular Morrow Lake, between Battle Creek and the city of Kalamazoo.

Crews staffed by Enbridge are using booms to try to contain the oil and vacuum trucks to clean it up. The effort is being supervised by the EPA.

But Granholm fears the slick may spreading faster than it can be contained.

"Clearly this is a significant incident," she said. "It cannot be taken lightly. We need all hands on deck."

The river right now is close to flood stage, complicating efforts to contain the slick.

Two homes near the spill site have been evacuated, and 25 people worried about health issues have been relocated, according to Jim Rutherford, health officer with the Calhoun County Health Department.

Officials say there's no immediate danger to drinking water.

Wildlife has been affected, with some fish and birds coated in oil. The energy company is preparing a wildlife rehabilitation center for treating the animals.

People are being urged to avoid swimming or fishing near the affected areas.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

BE THE ONE to offer your support by signing the petition to help "Restore The Gulf"

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While there has been good news lately about attempts to contain the devastating BP oil spill in the Gulf after nearly three months, the region's real recovery is only just beginning. Now, in a newly-released PSA for a grassroots effort called Restore the Gulf (, celebrities, many with personal ties to the ravaged coast, are asking fans to help.

The PSA, first seen on, features Sandra Bullock (who recently bought a home in Louisiana), Dave Matthews, Alfre Woodard, Lenny Kravitz (who took part in the Larry King Live telethon for the oil spill last month), Emeril Lagasse (who based his first restaurant in New Orleans), Blake Lively, John Goodman, Alfre Woodard, Eli and Peyton Manning, James Carville, Harry Shearer, Bryan Batt (Mad Men) and Wendell Pierce (Treme), among others.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mom and Nikki! :))

Happy Birthday to you, my dearest, who will be 77 July 22nd!

When I first saw this photo of my mother (to right with a friend) while still living in Germany, I couldn't believe she'd just turned 16! Seems all young girls want to look more sophisticated and mature than their age. A month after this photo was taken, she'd marry her sweetheart in British uniform, and, at 17, have me (the first of six).

Love to you always! xoxoxo

One day later, Nikki would have shared my mother's birthday. She turns 18 tomorrow, the 21st!

I am so thrilled for you, Nikk! Happy Birthday! xoxoxo

Doesn't Nikki look like her grandmother? She doesn't see it, but the older she's gotten, the more evident it becomes. xo

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Congratulations, Nikki! Spread your wings and fly! :))

On Graduation Day: Nikki to far right. Oops, I see Analisse to the very far right.

Nikki and friend ready for Prom.

To My Immortal,

May your passion and joy abound throughout college and your lifelong journey of learning and living!
With all my love,
Aunt Petra xoxoxo

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Gulf Oil Commission Hearing Began Today

A special Commission set up by President Obama and taking place in New Orleans, LA, is to cover ALL aspects of what went wrong, what is being done, and what the future looks like, both economically and environmentally.

To watch it live, visit this link: or watch it on
CSpan3 which is also airing it.

When is the "A Whale" skimmer going to skim? The containment cap has been removed, gushing oil full throttle.

The "A Whale," a giant supertanker converted to skim oil from the spill in the Gulf of Mexico will continue testing after "inconclusive results" over the Fourth of July weekend, a spokesperson for the Unified Command Joint Information Center said.

The tests were "inconclusive in light of the rough sea state we are encountering," a
spokesperson said. Testing operations were located in a 25 square-mile area just to the north of the well-site according to Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the Joint Incident Commander.

The ship, must still gain approval to operate from the U.S. Coast Guard, officials said.

No timeline has been set for the completion of additional tests, according to Unified Command. Why not?

The oil leak, which began on April 20, with the fatal explosion of BP's Deepwater Horizon oil rig, and is still gushing from a ruptured well pipe, is the largest oil spill disaster in U.S. history.

The 1,100-foot-long vessel (approximately 3 ½ football fields) is ten stories high and can process 500,000 barrels (21 million gallons) of oil mixed with water every day.

The A-Whale "brings a piece of technology that has never been used in the U.S. oil spill response," Allen said.

Rear Adm. Paul Zukunft of the Coast Guard said on Friday that sea levels needed to be "about three feet or less" to be able to effectively skim.

With the containment cap removed since Saturday, July 10th, allowing crude oil gushing into the Gulf at full throttle, why isn't something, ANYTHING, being done?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Friday, July 9, 2010

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Going Green at Google


Google's green employee programs are designed to reduce its corporate carbon footprint, and help its employees stay green too.

Bikes on Campus

At Google's Mountain View headquarters, shared bicycles are scattered among its buildings for employees to use for short trips around campus, reducing the need for employee car trips during the work day.

Biodiesel Shuttles

Google offers an extensive shuttle service that brings more than 1,500 employees to work from around the Bay Area every day. These shuttles are fueled by B20 biodiesel.


Waste from its Mountain View, CA cafes is separated and the organic component is composted. As a result, it has reduced waste sent to landfills, reduced greenhouse gases, and recycled nutrients leading to improved soil quality without chemicals. In addition, it has reduced the overall number of disposable items in its micro-kitchens and cafés. Any disposable plateware and cutlery they continue to use in the cafés is now compostable. I suggest bringing one's own nonplastic plateware and cutlery to work.


This Mountain View program is designed to support alternative commuting through a car-sharing program that is free to Google employees. Within this fleet, it has eight plug-in hybrid vehicles which are parked under a solar panel carport at Google's headquarters.

Green Design Elements

The buildings at its main campus in Mountain View use sustainable building materials that are environmentally friendly and healthier for employees, such as "cradle-to-cradle" certified products designed to never end up in landfills, fresh air ventilation, daylighting, and PVC- and formaldehyde-free materials whenever possible.

Locally-grown Food

Google chefs are committed to using as many local, organic, sustainable ingredients as possible. Café 150, for example, sources ingredients for everything on the menu from within 150 miles. It also has a seasonal farmers market in Mountain View and an organic garden in the main courtyard.

Residential Solar Program

Google has partnered with several residential solar companies to offer discounts to employees who want to go solar at home.

Self-Powered Commuter Program

Employees who bike, walk, pogo-stick, unicycle, or otherwise self-power to work can earn points that translate into a donation from Google to a charity of their choice.

Google's green thumb sets a wonderful example for other corporations!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

'70s Board Game contains eerie BP oil spill scenarios

A nearly 40-year-old board game is getting a lot of new attention because of eerie similarities between the scenarios of its play and the 78-day-old BP Gulf oil disaster.

The game BP Offshore Oil Strike, which came out in the 1970s and is adorned with an old BP logo, revolves around four players exploring for oil, building platforms and constructing pipelines – all in the name of being the first to make $120 million.

But like the real-life oil game there are some big hazards, too. Players have to deal with the possibility of large-scale oil spills and cover cleanup costs. You struggle with "hazard cards" that include phrases now part of our daily vernacular, including: "Blow-out! Rig damaged. Oil slick cleanup costs. Pay $1 million."

Sound a little familiar? The similarity has led to discussions all over the Web. It's prompted people to dig in their attics and put their old games up on eBay – many of which have promptly been snatched up.

One copy of the game was donated to the largest toy museum in England, the House on the Hill Toy Museum in Stansted, Essex.

The museum's owner, Alan Goldsmith, told CNN he was shocked when he saw the donated game.

"It was sort of uncanny how it was similar to what's happening really," Goldsmith said. "I thought it was odd that it was a game in the '70s, which has basically now come true. The interesting thing is that it was in dollars, even though it was a European game. The cleanup bill was $1 million, which we now know isn't nearly enough, but it is a weird colorful circle."

The game came out during the oil crisis of the '70s – and perhaps it was an attempt to drum up support for U.S.-based drilling.

Goldsmith said as a part of the game, players work to amass a drilling empire. But the game comes with all of the scenarios of the present Gulf disaster. Even the game board and cover resemble images from the Gulf these days – with rigs attempting to reach far into the ocean depths.

The game has many people online remarking about whether it eerily foreshadowed the current BP disaster.

"It's strange, you've got this fictitious board game with fictitious drama – but it couldn't be any closer to the reality of what's happening now," Goldsmith said.

The world of video games, meanwhile, appears to have a more direct link to the Gulf oil disaster.

In "Crisis in the Gulf," which an independent producer released last month for the Xbox, gamers use weapons to zap blobs of oil.

The game is available for purchase through Xbox's online marketplace.
Do those in oil really believe that they too don't have to eat, drink, and breathe the same as everyone else? It's sad and twisted!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Phillipe Cousteau, "Reform is Needed Now"

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Editor's note: Philippe Cousteau Jr. is the grandson of legendary ocean explorer and filmmaker Jacques Yves Cousteau. Philippe heads the nonprofit organization EarthEcho International ( Philippe, who has been working in this field for years, is an advocate for the people and the wildlife in the Gulf of Mexico during the oil crisis, visiting the area and learning first hand the impact the disaster has had not only on the ecosystem but on the people who suffer as a result of the catastrophe. Read more about Philippe's background.

I remember my first trip to see the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. A few weeks after the rig exploded I traveled to survey the spill both above and below the surface. Seeing the impact from the shore as well as being the first one to dive and film the oil spill from beneath the waves was a horrifying experience. Wave after wave of oil/chemical dispersant mix washed over us - a chemical soup that is toxic to countless creatures and still spreading through the Gulf, wreaking havoc on the lives of animals and the livelihoods of people.

It was made all the worse because less than 18 months earlier, in partnership with the Ocean Conservancy, I had testified in front of the House Natural Resources Committee to address the deficiencies of the laws that govern oil and gas development in the oceans. The echo of that testimony is still haunting me as I have watched the devastation unfold first-hand over the past 70 days.

One of my favorite writers Mark Twain once wrote, "A man's first duty is to his conscience and his honor." There is no honor in this catastrophe, and its consequences are unconscionable. Nor is there honor in the circumstances that created it.

There is a lot of talk in the media about the moratorium the Obama administration recently put in place; but the truth is that a moratorium would not have prevented this tragedy. What I testified about more than a year ago and what is still needed today is to reform and strengthen the existing laws to ensure that they protect ocean health and coastal economies, and that science - not profit - should guide any oil and gas development.

This spill reminds us we are in desperate need of a policy that recognizes that in our ocean environment, everything is connected - from industrial uses to the health of our ocean and the health of the coastal economy. The BP Deepwater Horizon disaster exposes a fundamental flaw in our nation's approach to oil and gas activities in the ocean.

Specifically, we have to do three things:

First, we must reform the way the planning and leasing process happens so that the appropriate environmental analyses are done. Clearly the health of the environment was not taken seriously when disaster response plans named animals such as walrus and polar bear, exclusively arctic species, as some of the ones that would be impacted during a Gulf spill.

Second, we must ensure that we have both the baseline scientific knowledge as well as the technology to clean up a spill. And we must flat-out prohibit oil and gas activity in important ecological areas, as well as those areas where oil spill containment and cleanup is not feasible, places like the Arctic where floating ice would make the feeble skimming and booming efforts in the Gulf completely futile.

And third, we must ensure that revenue generated by activities that put our oceans at risk, like drilling for oil and gas, are reinvested in protecting, maintaining and restoring ocean health. This would help to combat another problem, namely that we have underinvested in the oceans for decades. The federal budget for space exploration is exponentially larger than the budget for ocean exploration. Knowing if there was ever water on Mars is not critical to life on this planet: Healthy oceans are. This is part of the reason no one knows the long-term impacts of this spill; we don't have enough understanding of the ecosystems and species that inhabit the Gulf in the first place.

June 11th would have been my grandfather's 100th birthday, and I know that both my father, Philippe Sr., and my grandfather would have been covering this story if they were alive, and that they would have been just as horrified by what they saw as I have been. I can only hope that we learn from this and start to truly take the kind of drastic action necessary to begin the decades-long road to recovery.

As my grandfather often told me: History will not only judge us by our mistakes, but by what we do to fix them.

Post by: Philippe Cousteau Jr. -- Special to CNN

Wholeheartedly agree with Phillipe Cousteau!