Archive for December, 2012

Some Things Just Aren’t Chewable

December 25, 2012

We in NH would do well to take a close look at the Churchill Falls Hydro Electric Project where Hydro Quebec entered into a joint venture with the Province of Newfoundland Labrador (NL). HQ’s tactics in NH are chillingly similar.

 A concerned reader sent me a site in which James Feehan, Professor of Economics at Memorial University in Newfoundland, delineated the HQ scam of the Churchill Falls HydroElectric Project in Newfoundland-Labrador. Feehan exposed HQ’s strategy (through NL Premier Smallwood’s blindsight), to essentially rob the NL Province of profits from the Churchill Falls generator.

 Through political wrangling and conflict of interest, Hydro Quebec was able to draw up a 44 year contract to buy power for $2./MWh, which was far below any alternative prices. In our terms, this translates to 0.2 cents/kwh, which HQ then sold for 7-8 cents/kwh. HQ therefore reaps profits of $1.7 billion/yr. NL reaps $63 million/yr. If HQ paid market prices for the low-cost power from Churchill Falls, their 2007 profit would be 75 percent lower. Churchill Falls Labrador Corp.(CFLCo) says profitability was “stripped to the underwear.”

 Newfoundland-Labrador is supposed to get back all water rights in 2041 when the contract expires. Initially, HQ owned 34.2 percent and NL Provincial Government owned 65.8 percent of the shares in Churchill Falls Labrador Corp (CFLCo).

 However, HQ also had a clause in their 1967 contract that if they loaned the project money, they would increase their number of shares in the project. Once they own 50.1 percent of the shares, they can pick their own board members and effectively take over the company. The real winners are supposedly the people of Quebec, who have cheap energy.

 In 1974, Bill Mitchell, CBS reporter, quoted the then NL Premier Frank Moores as calling the project “the biggest giveaway in history.” The project was completed 18 months early, within the budget. NL has been unsuccessful in re-negotiating the obviously outrageous 0.2 cents/kwh agreed to in the 1967 contract by asleep at the switch legislators.

 Is any of this hitting closer to home? The people of Quebec have also been assured by HQ that Project Nord will be continuing cheap energy for them. Perhaps HQ’s intent is to assuage the Quebec people for physically and culturally ruining their Province, despite public outcry. Bottom line is that even if HQ succeeds in sending power through NH (where Canada also owns every NH dam on the Connecticut River), does anyone really believe they have kinder motives for the US than for their fellow Canadians in Newfoundland-Labrador?

 This is messy stuff, messy enough that most people wouldn’t want to wade through hours on the internet comparing the above reports and checking figures. In fact, that would suit HQ just fine, maybe even snow our legislators into agreeing to contracts that will later horrify NH. Here’s a video for those who want to see for themselves.

http://www.mun.ca/harriscentre/policy/memorialpresents/2008c/churchill_falls_video.php

 Who would have thought that keeping well would get so complicated, so fast? That we might be blindsided into providing a channel for HQ that would put us in an equally raw deal. We now know how HQ gains millions to perpetuate themselves. Hopefully, we won’t be gullible enough to do business with them in their projected NH scam.

 

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Will we allow little children to lead us?

December 18, 2012

 This week we learned how important is the life and potential of every child and how dedicated teachers intuitively sacrifice their own lives in attempts to protect their students and ensure that their students will grow and flower in safety.

 Hopefully, we will also recognize that no one has the right to kill children and innocent civilians anywhere. This includes children and civilians in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world.

 While theatres temporarily cancel violent films, we need to look at the result of the model put out continually through such films, and the media footage of hardships created by our involvement in the Middle East where incidents like Newtown are met on a daily basis. Hopefully, the Newtown tragedy will never just be chalked up to one young man’s mental illness.

 Ideas come from what we experience daily. If we have a steady stream of media coverage showing innocent killings abroad, it sends a message that killing is the way to deal with differences of opinion or general feelings.

 The grief of Newtown families seems more significant because it is close to home; we realize it could happen anywhere in the US. Yet, in this tragedy we have a microcosm of the pain and anguish being continually experienced by people in the Middle East and other countries.

 Does the Newtown tragedy compel us to reconsider endless wars in which our service people are directed to kill, and the killings are reported visually on Television, where the model is set for the glory of mass murder elsewhere?

 Ironically, while we continue to mourn the loss of children, in the US, we also continue to underfund their education, leaving many strapped with loans beyond their earning capacity as they become adults. And we scrimp on funding the Veterans Administration for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) therapy, so that many of our service people are waitlisted for treatment when they return home. Many veterans have been ordered to do the opposite of what their religion and family instilled in them. They need tremendous support to learn how to deal with their memories.

 As we approach this new year, we have a tremendous opportunity to reset our human values. How open are we to the mission these little children have given us? It’s not just about gun laws. It’s about respect for all children and all people everywhere. It’s about learning how to get along with and stay in tune with people everywhere.

Hopefully, the children of the world have not died in vain. Hopefully, we will get the message that killing does not bring peace and health. What a pivotal year this could be!

 

Old Growth Tree Power Heals

December 13, 2012

The fir tree is a symbol of light and shared life in many of our homes this season. With each fresh snowfall, we see fir trees transformed with magical beauty, something beyond our ‘real’ world. Each year, we recall memories of gathering around other trees on other years with other people. Trees figure large in the stories we recount of trees climbed in childhood and all the events, holidays, mishaps, tree houses and camping trips where the presence of trees was paramount.

  Some of our spiritual experiences involved kything (knowing) trees, an old practice of pressing our backbone/spine into a big old tree trunk to feel the warmth the tree generates from it’s sap layer during the day, or picnicking under a tree or making the tree itself a hiking destination. Trees are important as community role models. Most trees can tolerate whatever the weather, bend to accommodate neighbors, keep us warm or cool, clean pollutants from the air, take toxins out of the soil, stop the spread of disease, and much more, in addition to supplying our oxygen.

 We tend to take trees for granted, yet immediately take on tension when they are absent or have fallen in a storm. And we relax when again next to one of them, perhaps even kythe it in relief. Maybe we need to take time to recognize how important they are to our lives.

 An exciting tree adventure is well underway, thanks to  Michigan nurseryman, David Milarch. Milarch and his son were visiting the old growth forest of redwoods in California when they discovered new shoots growing out of the root system of a fallen 1000+ year old redwood, one of the giants of the forest. These shoots were actual clones of the tree, had the same DNA and potential for longevity as the fallen tree. Unlike a tree grown from the seed of that tree, which would have been pollinated by another tree that may or may not have produced a combined DNA as strong as the cloned shoot, the cloned shoot will have the strong immune system that enabled the old growth tree to survive through centuries of climate change.

 Milarch warns us that 98 percent of US old growth forests have been taken down. 76 percent of old growth forests in the world are gone. BUT, if  giant old growth trees could be propagated, they would go a long way to recycling enormous amounts of carbon dioxide to provide abundant oxygen for us. Milarch began the first leg of what has become the Champion Tree Project and includes not only redwoods, but predominant trees in old growth forests all over the world. On December 4, the first old growth redwood clones were planted in the First Champion Redwood and Giant Sequoia Forest in Port Orford, Oregon. Milarch’s account is at http://www.TEDxJackson Hole-David Milarch.

 In New Hampshire, we have 250-400 year old growth hemlock and maples. The NH Natural Heritage Bureau tracks natural communities. Time to locate those giants in New Hampshire and see that their clones get a chance to meet the needs of present and future generations. Step one is to find out where those giants are and who we can work with to make propagation happen.

 Time for some new tree stories.

Flu this holiday? It all depends….

December 7, 2012

Someone asked me if I believed the hype about the predicted flu epidemic. My response was, “It all depends….” In this season when we think of the sugar plum fairy and partake of all the family holiday recipes that we and others have collected over the years, December can be a challenge.

 I know I look forward to making Danish pastry and thinking about my grandmother who brought the recipe in her head when she emigrated here from Denmark.  Memories of the whole family gathering around the candlelit table on Christmas Eve and seeing my grandmother’s magical, diamond shaped pastries appear all glazed and topped with crushed walnuts, like pieces of Prasad that she offered us.

 I’m sure that each one of us has a heartwarming tale to tell. The problem comes when we celebrate each day of the season with too many of each other’s morsels of cheer. The thing to remember is that flu viruses love sugar. If we’re eating lots of sugar when  a flu virus gets into our system, we’ll have one long, lousy bout with the flu.

 I’d be a hypocrite if I suggested that anyone skip these “memorable” experiences, since I plan to enjoy the holidays. My only suggestion is that if you get a cold or think you may be coming down with something, avoid sweets, drinks, juices, ice cream, and fries. Just drink lots of water, hot lemonade, and homemade chicken or vegetable soup, and stay home. Don’t pass your whatever around. You’ll probably soon feel fine and ready to rejoin the holiday cheer. (P.S.  Remember to be generous with our friend, tap water, throughout the season!)

 Depending on whether you make the flu feel unwelcome from the get go, you’ll be free to enjoy all the gatherings with family and friends, all the celebrations, holiday music and singing that keeps us well and thriving. It really all just depends….