Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Perriello's Clean Energy Jobs Push Paying Off

The Green Miles is in Danville, VA this week, working on the campaign of Rep. Tom Perriello on behalf of the National Wildlife Federation Action Fund, which has endorsed Rep. Perriello for re-election. Why is Rep. Perriello's push for clean energy so critical for places like Danville? Watch:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

2010 Seeing Abundance of Acorns

Hungry SquirrelA couple of years back, the DC area's wildlife struggled through an acorn shortage, leading to an odd sight on my stoop. But reports this year, acorns are mounting a record-breaking comeback:
[T]he number of acorns falling on car hoods and driveways is at an all-time high in Allegany County, MD, which is located in the far western Maryland panhandle. There are an average of 25.65 acorns per oak branch. How is this fact known? Well, the Maryland Wildlife & Heritage Service keeps track of acorns on branches; this has been done every year since the 1970s.

The article I read said that lack of a major frost in the spring coupled with a dry summer helped the acorn crop breed furiously this year.  Of course, this makes it difficult to walk outside to get the morning paper and even maintain the lawn. Wildlife likes the acorns, however, so food is plentiful for them.
Watch National Wildlife Federation Naturalist David Mizejewski explain why acorns are so critical for wildlife.

Monday, October 25, 2010

If They Vote & You Don't, Virginia Edition

The Green Miles is spending the week in Danville, VA. The National Wildlife Federation Action Fund sent me down to work on the campaign of Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA), one of America's most vocal advocates of clean energy & climate action.

Must-see crazy parked across st from @VotePerriello office (y... on TwitpicI spent the day knocking on doors in a predominantly African American neighborhood. Contrary to the polls I've read, most of them were very excited to vote for Tom on November 2nd.

As for the ones who weren't? I told them about this truck, parked outside Rep. Perriello's Danville office. I told them that guy is going to vote. I told them if that guy votes, and we don't, everyone loses.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Ken Buck's Facebook Page

U.S. Senate candidate Ken Buck (R-CO), like all but one GOP candidate for U.S. Senate this year, is a climate science denier. The League of Conservation Voters, which named Buck to its Dirty Dozen, takes us inside his Facebook page:

Tea Partiers Only Trust Elites Who Make Money Off Them

The NYTimes today reports on how the Tea Party is being spoon-fed climate denial by big polluters like Koch Industries, conveniently laundered by conservative media mouthpieces:
“It’s a flat-out lie,” Mr. Dennison said in an interview after the debate, adding that he had based his view on the preaching of Rush Limbaugh and the teaching of Scripture. “I read my Bible,” Mr. Dennison said. “He made this earth for us to utilize.” 

Skepticism and outright denial of global warming are among the articles of faith of the Tea Party movement, here in Indiana and across the country. For some, it is a matter of religious conviction; for others, it is driven by distrust of those they call the elites.
Distrust of elites? Rush Limbaugh made $285 million from 2001 through 2008, then signed a contract with salary & bonuses totaling $400 million from 2009 through 2016! Telling Tea Partiers whatever they want to hear so they'll keep listening has been great for business.

But let's say you're a climate scientist like Michael Mann (science denier Ken Cuccinelli's favorite target) at Penn State University. Using the estimates at, a scientist like Mann would have to work 588 years to make what Limbaugh does in one year. Who's the real "elite"?

Finally, I don't recall the part of the Bible where the Lord instructed man to take his creation and act like we're holding the Miami University Pi Beta Phi spring formal. But Genesis 2:15 does say, "The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sidewalk Closed. Detour Plan: Run!

Would a construction crew walk out into the middle of an intersection & drop "road closed" signs without plans for detours?

Then why would a crew in Arlington start jackhammering the sidewalk at one end of the heavily used Sycamore & 17th St crosswalk with no pedestrian detour?

I've talked to Arlington County Board members & staff about issues like this before and I know it drives them as crazy as it does me. But it would be nice if the road crews got the message as well.

America's #1 Bird Killer Nearly Strikes on My Patio

No, not my cat -- my windows.

I was working at my computer last weekend when I heard a barely-audible thump on the glass, so quiet that the noise itself didn't prompt me to get up to investigate. It was my cat's interest that got me to come look at the tiny bird that had bounced off my patio door.

Brown Creeper -- Vicki's Backyard, Woodstock, GeorgiaThe bird was sitting up with its wings splayed, blinking fast & looking dazed. I checked my National Wildlife Federation Field Guide to Birds & identified it as a brown creeper, a common bird usually seen hopping up & down trees snacking on bugs.

Since it seemed more stunned than seriously injured, I closed the shades so my cat wouldn't stress it out & gave it some time to recover. (In general, it's best to only touch wildlife as a last resort -- an untrained person handling birds & animals can make the situation even worse.) Sure enough, a few minutes later when I went to lock my patio door, it heard the rattle & immediately flew off.

Windows are the single biggest killer of birds in America. Birds simply don't see them. Unfortunately it doesn't seem to matter if you put a sticker or two on the window -- unless it has a covering at least every two inches, it won't be 100% effective. Hence, solutions for bird-proofing windows aren't very attractive.

What can you do? The Fish & Wildlife Service has a good tip sheet (PDF):
  • Use window feeders or place bird baths & feeders either very close to a window (less than 3 feet) or far away (more than 30 feet)
  • Close your blinds & turn off unused lights at night
  • Support programs like Audobon's Lights Out designed to reduce bird impacts
Ironically, just a few days ago I'd been walking through my parking lot thinking, "There are tons of house sparrows here, but with huge tulip poplars all around me, why am I not seeing more interesting birds?" Little did I know a new-to-me species was about to try to fly into my living room.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Webb Turns Back on Appalachia, Cozies Up to Big Coal

To understand Jim Webb's shocking flip on the coal industry, you have to understand where he began. Here's what he wrote in his book, Born Fighting, just six years ago:
The ever hungry industrialists had discovered that West Virginia, eastern Kentucky and southwest Virginia sat atop one huge vein of coal. And so the rape began. The people from the outside showed up with complicated contracts that the small-scale cattle raisers and tobacco farmers could not fully understand, asking for "rights" to mineral deposits they could not see, and soon they were treated to a sundering of their own earth as the mining companies ripped apart their way of life, so that after a time the only option was to go down into the hole and bring the Man his coal, or starve. The Man got his coal, and the profits it brought when he shipped it out. They got their wages, black lung, and the desecration of their land.
Now Jim Webb is standing before those very same industrialists & pledging to do their bidding. This video from a recent Virginia Chamber of Commerce event shows Webb promising to fight any effort to rein in coal's destructive, polluting, poverty-sustaining excesses. Webb's pandering to corporate polluters stands in contrast to Sen. Mark Warner's appearance at the same event making the case for energy reform.

Who else is Webb fighting for these days? The ultra-rich, pledging to protect them from having to do their fair share to reduce America's deficit.

Speculation so far has centered on whether Jim Webb wants a 2nd term in the Senate. But I'm hearing more & more Virginia Democrats question whether we should want six more years of Jim Webb.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Thursday: Discuss Arlington's Clean Energy Future

On Thursday, Arlington is hosting a forum to discuss Arlington's energy future:
What: Community Energy Forum
When: Thursday, October 21, 2010 6-9 pm (check-in at 6pm, presentations & discussion begin at 6:30pm)
Where: Wakefield High School Cafeteria (use entrance #1), 4901 S. Chesterfield Road, Arlington
Speakers: Jay Fisette, Arlington County Board Chairman & Peter Garforth, Principal of Garforth International LLC
Also, attendees will receive a free compact fluorescent light bulb. I'm totally getting mine signed by Jay Fisette.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Post Food Critic Stiffs Arlington, Disses Ray's Hell Burger

Washington Post Food Critic Tom Sietsema just released his Fall Dining Guide. Alexandria led Virginia's dining scene with 3 picks & Falls Church made a strong showing with 2 picks. But completely absent from the list was Arlington. And adding insult to injury, Sietsema's recommendation of the Dupont location of BGR takes a shot at Arlington's best known burger joint:
Ray's Hell-Burger in Arlington has its charms, but if President Obama ever decides to alter his burger run, he ought to consider another home-grown mini-chain, [BGR] from entrepreneur Mark Bucher. ... The Dupont Circle branch, with blond-wood booths, purple walls and Christmas-light chandeliers, is closest to the White House. Got that, Mr. President?
Arlington has made a lot more headlines this year for harassing up & coming restaurants than supporting them -- first Screwtop & Bakeshop and now Westover Market Beer Garden. But things are looking up. Restaurant 3's Bacon Week will be featured on this week's nationally televised Redskins game. (Bacon? Hogs? Get it?) And the owners of 3-starred Birch & Barley are opening a new Rustico in Ballston. Will it be Arlington's best restaurant the moment it opens its doors?

Friday, October 15, 2010

We're Not #1: The Price of Virginia's Energy Inaction

Virginia's elected officials -- both Republicans & Democrats -- have stubbornly refused to reform Virginia's energy policies, which heavily favor more energy use, particularly polluting coal-fired power. We can't change, they say, it might cost more!

How's this for a cost of refusal to reform? Virginia just lost the #1 spot in Forbes' "Best States for Business" rankings. One of the top reasons for the slip to #2? Rising energy costs.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Green Geekery: The Mayor of East Falls Church Park

The Green Miles recently got a Blackberry & started using FourSquare. It allows you to "check in" to a location, see what other users are there, and see where your friends are. You become "mayor" when you check in at a location more than any other user.

FourSquare has actually gotten me to go to parks more often. It creates a little incentive to do something positive by telling your friends LOOK AT ME I'M SO GREEN & HEALTHY & INSUFFERABLE. Joking aside, if something makes me even 5% more likely to get off the couch & get some exercise, it's valuable.

This week I became mayor of East Falls Church Park in Arlington along the W&OD Trail. It's just a basketball court & a patch of grass barely big enough for a game of catch:

View Larger Map

Mini tangent: Tiny urban parks like this one deliver huge value. There's no other public place to play basketball within a mile of here. A park like this will deliver a lot more bang for the buck than parks located far from populated areas.

From now on, if I'm ever shooting baskets with anyone there, I will insist on being referred to as Mr. Mayor. And refer to myself that way in the third person. The mayor is open! Pass it to the mayor! The mayor for three! That sort of thing.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Saturday: Arlington E-CARE

Arlington County hosts an event every year called E-CARE that allows residents to recycle, donate or dispose of odd items -- everything from computers to eyeglasses to paint. Get all the details on what, where & when at the Arlington Department of Environmental Services website.

Super Grover on Saving Energy

A Sesame Street flashback:

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Dirty Energy Puts the Hurt on Virginia Consumers

Robert Hurt, the GOP challenger to Rep. Tom Perriello in Virginia's 5th district, doesn't think it's worth seeing energy prices go up one cent to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, cut the carbon pollution that causes global warming, or create clean energy & technology jobs here in Virginia.

But raise energy prices through the roof to pad the profits of his dirty energy donors? Robert Hurt says yes every time:

Monday, October 11, 2010

Great Moments in Clean Energy Hysteria

BestWeekEver.TV declares that the subject of a New York Times article on the faint hum of wind turbines is so self-important that they deserve whatever they get.

Cuccinelli Fine With Fraud If It Backs His Political Views

The people who squawk the loudest about "scientific integrity" & "sound science" often have absolutely no problem with outright scientific fraud, as long as it supports their pre-existing political opinions.

Just take the example of Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (and speaking volumes by their silence, Gov. Bob McDonnell & Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling). Rather than accept the simple, straightforward, proven proposition that the planet is warming & manmade emissions are to blame, Cuccinelli instead conjures a world ruled by a vast conspiracy by thousands of unrelated climate scientists, including former University of Virginia Professor Michael Mann.

But even the little actual proof Cuccinelli claims to cite is now in doubt:
A leading skeptic of climate change science whose work was cited last week by Virginia Attorney Gen. Ken Cuccinelli is himself under investigation on charges that his work contained plagiarism and inaccuracies, a George Mason University spokesman confirmed Friday.
What's Edward Wegman accused of? As DeSmogBlog reports:
Wegman, who was chair of the National Academy of Sciences’ (NAS) Committee on Applied and Theoretical Statistics, was tapped in '06 by Republican representatives Joe Barton and Ed Whitfield to assemble a so-called "expert panel" to critique the famous hockey stick, a graph illustrating a thousand-year temperature record as reconstructed by climate scientists Michael Mann, Raymond Bradley and Malcolm Hughes. But Silicon Valley entrepreneur John Mashey has since demonstrated that, rather than convene a group of experts, Wegman tapped a couple of grad students and together they produced a report that was generously plagiarized from Bradley's own work and then twisted - or just misrepresented - to appear to undermine the hockey stick and its creators.
Will the loss of credibility of a prominent climate denier prompt the slightest change in the stances of McDonnell, Bolling & Cuccinelli? I'm skeptical.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Saturday: Canvass for Climate Champs Connolly & Moran

Northern Virginia Congressmen Gerry Connolly & Jim Moran were two of the American Clean Energy & Security Act's biggest supporters, helping them earn the Sierra Club's endorsement. On Saturday, the Sierra Club will join with Arlington Young Democrats, Organizing for America & others to say thanks:
Date: Saturday, October 9, 2010
Time: 2:30 PM
Location: Woodrow Wilson Library, 6101 Knollwood Dr, Falls Church, VA

Let's go door to door and spread the word about what this election means for our country, our environment and our future!
Hope you can spare a couple of hours to help out! RSVP at MyBO or on Facebook.

The Green Miles Encourages You To Buy A Dead Tree?

You should go to the store & buy the latest issue of Rolling Stone. Yes, even though it's printed on a freshly-killed tree. Yes, even though you can read it free online.

You know the old get out the vote saying -- if you don't vote, you can't complain? If you don't use your power as a consumer to support great journalism, you can't complain.

With great journalism getting harder & harder to find, where else can you find an extended interview with President Obama asking him exactly the questions progressives want answers to? Or a first-person report on how corporate interests & GOP insiders built the Tea Party monster?

Best $5 you'll spend all day.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Sierra Club Flunks McDonnell on Chesapeake Bay

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell ran claiming to be a sensible moderate. But his governance record is clear -- from trying to privatize Virginia ABC stores at a massive loss to taxpayers to ignoring Metro's desperate need for funding, Bob McDonnell puts big business first & the little guy last.

Nowhere does that record become more stark than on environmental issues. McDonnell has made it clear that the agricultural interests like cigarette companies & pork processors that have given him over $1 million come first & the Chesapeake Bay comes last.

Now the Virginia Sierra Club has issued its Chesapeake Bay Report Card, making it clear that when it comes to the Bay, Bob McDonnell has been a total failure:

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Minor Quake Hits Central Virginia

According to the Washington Post, a minor earthquake struck central Virginia yesterday:
An earthquake, which many people felt and recognized, rumbled through part of the Washington region Saturday, authorities said.

The quake, recorded as a magnitude 3 by the U.S. Geological Survey, shook the ground in east central Virginia, between Fredericksburg and Richmond, about 4:15 p.m.

No damage or injuries were reported.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, it was centered about 20 miles north of Richmond. If your experience is anything like ours from the recent DC-area earthquake, get ready to hear anyone who's ever been in California sanctimoniously tell you how this wasn't a real earthquake.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Walking as Transportation? Are You Crazy?

Capitol City Brewing's Oktoberfest in Shirlington is one of my favorite events of the year. The weather's often perfect like it is today, sunny & 70, so it's a great excuse to spend a fall afternoon outdoors. The longer you live in Arlington, the more old friends you bump into while you're wandering around the booths. And it's where I've discovered some excellent local beers, like Shenandoah Brewing's Old Rag Mountain Ale.

With no Metro stop in Shirlington, I usually get there by bus or carpooling with a designated driver or in a cab. But this year, I told people I was thinking about walking from new place in East Falls Church.

They reacted like I was crazy. That's so far!

Some of that is just mental geography -- since people picture things in relation to Metro & highways, they don't realize East Falls Church & Shirlington are relatively close via back routes. In fact, the W & OD Trail provides a nearly straight-line connection (and some great scenery along the way).

But it's also America's separation of exercise & transportation. The same people shocked I'd walk 5 miles for transportation will themselves run 10 miles for exercise. I mean, people drive to the gym. How crazy is that? For most people, anything over a 10 minute walk & you're supposed to drive, or at least take public transportation. It's even worse for people who grew up in the suburbs, accustomed to driving as the only option.

Oh, one more thing. As an added benefit of my long walk, I'll burn somewhere around 600 calories. I will then immediately invest those calories in beer & kielbasa. Did I mention I love Oktoberfest?

Friday, October 1, 2010

The GOP's "Certainty" Fraud

We need to extend the Bush tax cuts for the rich now, says the GOP -- businesses need certainty!

Can't pass health insurance reform, financial reform or energy reform, says the GOP -- businesses need certainty!

But the Environmental Protection Agency's regulations on the climate pollution of the largest emitters under the Clean Air Act that have been in the works for years? For the GOP, it's fine to try to screw around with those just a few months before they're set to take effect.

I suppose they're correct in one regard -- we can be completely certain where deregulation takes us.

As If You Needed More Evidence Fox Is Not News

Fox continues its formal transition to officially becoming the broadcast wing of the Republican Party:
News Corp., the parent company of Fox News, contributed $1 million this summer to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the business lobby that has been running an aggressive campaign in support of the Republican effort to retake Congress, a source close to the company told POLITICO.

It was the second $1 million contribution the company has made this election cycle to a GOP-aligned group. In late June it gave that amount to the Republican Governors Association. [...]

Specifically, the chamber has said it plans to spend $75 million in connection with the 2010 election, and has so far has directed substantial amounts to Republican Senate candidates. As of Sept. 15th, the group had spent $6,747,946 airing more than 8,000 ads on behalf of GOP Senate candidates, according to a study (PDF) from the Wesleyan Media Project.
What's comical is that Fox still goes through the song & dance of pretending to be a "news" channel. When the Republicans of Fox act like journalists, it's clearly no less of a charade than Stephen Colbert puts on every night at 11:30pm. So why do it? I guess Fox viewers like telling themselves they're not being spoon-fed one big ad for the Republican Party?

Cross-posted from Blue Virginia