Thursday, June 26, 2014

Why I think Oil Sands Mining is a Bad Idea for Northwest Alabama by Steve Trash

Please pardon me while I remove my educators' hat (something that I work assiduously to keep in tact at all times) and put on my advocates hat. 

I do this because, it's no longer theoretical... it's local (to me right here in Northwest Alabama) and it's personal. 

So here goes.

I don't know personally know Sheree Martin, but (in her blog post) she makes a very reasonable and passionate argument that mining the sands of north Alabama is a really really bad idea. I agree.

In a nutshell... here's the argument...

1. THE BENEFIT WILL GO TO CORPORATIONS NOT THE PEOPLE - The mining will benefit only a few people (a few employees and the companies that will be extracting the sand and oil). These companies are not accountable to the local people of Alabama. It is unlikely that any of our elected political figures will stand up to defend the people of Alabama because... lets face it... corporations have power... people do not.

2. LOCALS LOSE - It will harm the people who actually live on the land (the locals) and potentially harm their groundwater (what do you drink if your groundwater goes bad?). Your body is 65 to 70 percent water and that water is stored beneath the ground before it gets in your body. Because this is experimental technology... all assurances from the company doing the mining... that "they will do everything to protect groundwater... pretty much... means nothing". Experiments... by their very nature... are filled with unexpected outcomes. Aquifers and groundwater are very large complex (sand filled) filtering systems. They will be disturbed by the mining.

3. WRONG DIRECTION. We... as a country and planet... should be moving away from non-renewable fossil fuels whose use releases carbon dioxide, not moving towards it. I just heard Republican Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson (yeah Republican Treasury Guy for George W. Bush) on the news say... (paraphrased... cause I don't write quickly enough) "Global Warming is man-made and will have real economic negative effects on business. We've estimated the negative effects on business will be in the billions." Supporting this oil sands mining means we're moving even further in an unsustainable direction. America could be leading towards a clean energy future, but oil sands mining is not leading, it's actually going backwards.

4. I LOVE BUSINESS. Like Sheree... I'm totally PRO BUSINESS. I've been a business guy for 30 years. I make money and love it. I employ people. I live in Alabama and love it. I love business, but supporting business that grows the Alabama economy and jobs should not harm the environment or the people that live here makes the most sense to me. Oil Tar Sands mining does not seem to fit that bill.

5. SWEET HOME ALABAMA. Lastly... if you've ever been to northwest Alabama... it's stunningly beautiful place and mining will rip into its pristine beauty. It seems unlikely to me that Lynyrd Skynyrd would have sung "Sweet Home Tar Sands Mining".

I agree with Sheree. I'm just saying... the whole thing seems like a really bad idea to me.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Economic decisions we make (especially we Capitalist-Bidness Types) should always include environment in our balance sheet considerations.  Here's why.  We didn't "make" the air.  We didn't make the "water".  We didn't even "make" the natural resources we use for our profit.  We borrow them and make them into something new.  It's OUR responsibility to borrow them wisely.  Don't you think?  I do.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Jane Velez-Mitchell and Plastic Bottles

Jane Velez-Mitchel of CNN & Headline News asked me last week if I thought stopping the purchase of plastic bottles was the best idea to prevent them from getting into our oceans. I responded, "I think that making sure the bottles we purchase gets recycled AND that recycled content from those bottles is continually added into a closed loop of new products is actually the best idea.  If the recycled material is used over and over and over again (whether it's plastic, paper, aluminum, steel, cardboard, glass, or other) and not allowed to escape into the environment as pollution or waste - that seems to me to be our smartest natural resource use choice."  That's how the earth does it.  And... if it's good enough for Mother Nature... it's good enough for me.  By the way, Jane and her entire video/producer crew in New York City were really cool to work with.  Nice.  

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Fossil Fuels are the Solid Rocket Booster of Humanity


Here's my take on fossil fuels - as of March - 2014.  

They have served humanity very well for over 150 years.  Personally, I am very thankful for the maverick madmen who built, promoted, and shared the internal combustion engine – and its fuel – with us.  We have used its power to go and do some pretty amazing things: double the amount of food produced per hectacre, design and build homes that can control light and even temperature -  we’ve even used it to travel outside our own biosphere all the way to the moon and beyond.

In fact, there are very few places back here on planet Earth that we humans cannot go these days, and that’s pretty much all thanks to the power that fossil fuels have given us.   

But, just like the solid rocket fuel booster that’s abandoned after it pushes the rocket off its earthbound launch pad, it’s time to jettison fossil fuels and transition to sources of energy that are renewable and sustainable. 

Here are the facts.  1. Fossil fuels take millions of years to make, and, 2. when burned properly, they always pollute the environment.  

It seems unlikely to me that the global economy will succeed in the long run if we continue on this non-sustainable energy path, because there's lots of evidence that its use leads to catastrophic weather events, global resource scarcity, social unrest, water pollution, and other bad stuff.

 The great news is that fossil fuels birthed our ability to use many other forms of energy.  These other forms can now do the fueling of humanity’s insatiable desire to “go and do.”  

They include solar, hydro, wind, geothermal, and bio-fuels.  Each of these sources of power is renewable.

If something is “renewable,” it means we DO NOT use it in a way that prevents future generations from being able to use the same resource.   

Fossil fuels are always gonna be a net loss.  

Use them, and you’ve reduced the ability of future generations to use them.  Using renewables does not do this.  

It seems to me, that now is the perfect time to capitalize on the boost fossil fuels have given us and continue our amazing human journey forward, but continue forward, using sustainability as our guide.

We’ve made some dumb mistakes - slavery, the Spanish Inquisition, the Kardashians - but as the eco-architect William McDonough says,

“The Stone age didn’t come to an end because humanity ran out of stones.  It came to an end because humans found a better way to use natural resources.   They found a better way to perpetuate the species.”

That’s right; they found a better way to perpetuate the species, and so have we.   

The path forward for the 9 billion people of year 2050 is crystal clear:  business and consumers working together can get us onto the sustainable highway.  And that path can be powered by Adam Smith’s invisible hand (the market) because renewable and sustainable technologies and methods create jobs, lots of jobs... sustainably.

But first - we as a society - must point our compass toward sustainability.  

The market always works to provide energy, food, clothing, buildings, entertainment, and transportation.  We simply need to demand goods and services from that marketplace that are sustainably made.  

This includes the energy that will drive humanity into the 22 and 23 century.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

NRDC and Broadway Green Alliance Team Up

Love the theatre?  On the board of your local theatre?  Know someone that works in theatre? Ever been to a theatre?

Two terrific organizations - The Broadway Green Alliance and the NRDC have teamed up to help theatre's be as green as possible.  This dynamic duo of organizations (BGA & NRDC) really know what they're talking about.
So you may ask.  Why should our theatre go green?
Good Question.  Here are three good answers.

1.  It's good for business.  Efficiency leads to cost savings.  Saving money is always good for the bottom line.
2.  It's good for the environment.  Less impact on the planet = better health for everyone.
3.  Brand Enhancement.  Everyone knows "green" is good.  Get that extra little bit of love from your patrons.  They'll know they're supporting "the arts" and doing the "right thing" for the planet.  It's win win.

Check out this simple list of tips for greening your theatre.
1. Establish an Organization-wide Environmental Policy
2. Have an Energy Audit Performed
3. Start Tracking Your Progress
4. Recycle More
5. Reduce Water Use
6. Use Less and Better Paper
7. Donate Food
8. Switch to Green Cleaning Products
9. Choose Green Energy
10. Involve Your Supply Chain

Want to learn more about how you can green your theatre?
Much more here.


Friday, February 7, 2014

Buy Quality Stuff... it lasts longer and makes less waste

I wrestle with the battle between buying good quality stuff vs buying cheap stuff all the time.  I love quality made things.  But the temptation to buy "what I can afford at the moment" is always there.  It's there because... I'm a business guy.   Buying an item as cheaply as possible saves money which allows me to purchase other business items I need.  But the old saying... "Quality Cost Less In The Long Run" is true.   It's true for both the cost to your bottom line and the cost to the environment.  Ultimately we use fewer resources and waste fewer resources, when we choose to buy quality items.  Here's a fascinating blog post in the New York Times by  Carl Richards that supports a personal rationale for buying quality stuff that lasts a long long time. Buying quality products reduces waste. If you can't afford the quality item right now... just hold on until you can... then buy it. Maybe if we did this... repair shops would pop up all over (driven by the market) to service these high quality items. This in turn would produce even less waste... and that would be awesome!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Why Entertainers Are Magic...

One of the things great entertainers do is create magic. It's not necessarily magic that involves a trick or an illusion. It's the creation of warmth and genuine connection with a large or small group of people. Everyone in the room shares a brief moment of happiness and joy, and they do it together. This glass (with a broken egg in it) is all that's left of such a performance. It's a single broken egg in a long stemmed glass. Mark and Nani Wilson left it behind after a magical performance a few nights ago. The performance - in Ventura California - was momentary... fleeting... But the shared magic and the beauty of the moment... will linger as long as memory does. Every day good entertainers do this. They connect. They make the heaviness of life less heavy. As far as I'm concerned... that's a real good thing.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

It's true!

This wonderful front page - of the Weekly World News - is framed and displayed prominently on the wall of my Frog Pond,  Alabama office.  I framed it because, the headlines make me giggle each and every time I read them.  Having said that... there are millions of people that bought this magazine and actually believed every word of it was true.  This leads me to conclude that we are a very interesting species.  Not that sharp... but... interesting.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Random Play...

My laptop tunes are regularly set on "random play". I like the surprise of a song coming up that I didn't expect.  Honky Tonk Woman by The Rolling Stones just played... followed immediately by The Chicken Dance... I'm reconsidering the whole "surprise thing". 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Organizing is a Meditation

One of the greatest things about my life as a professional entertainer is that I get to spend the end of each year and the first part of each new year... organizing things.  I organize my office.  I organize my studio.  I organize my storage spaces.  I organize my computer files.  It always makes me feel wonderful.  For some reason, it fills up my creative tanks to make sure magic props, funny ideas, movie making tools, illusions, and all the weapons of entertainment are easily accessed and at my disposal.  It's sooo easy for the tornado of life and tsunami of creation to scatter everything to the wind, that it makes me happy to set it all back in order.  It's almost a meditation for me.  Oh yeah.  It also allows me to clean out Jelly Beans from a prop box that's been stored since 2009.  Does it bother anyone else that they still look okay?  Sheeeeesh... that's scary.