Monday, November 7, 2011

America's Greed Affair with Fossil Fuel

I read the New York Times OnLine every day here in Linkoeping, Sweden and I read it soon after it is issued, this made possible by the 6 hour time difference.

Almost every day in this newspaper that is read throughout the world, I read one or more articles about the latest developments on the energy scene in the United States.

At the present time, most of the "column inches" on energy are devoted to the development of natural gas trapped in shale, development made possible by "fracking" a technology that has side effects and water supply demands that are in keeping with the sound of that word - try it, say it out loud a few times.

Proponents are given ample space to sing the praises of this development, and even a seemingly non threatening NYT writer like David Brooks (in the Times today, 7 November) can only sing the praises of fracking.

I have just read The Debate Forum, which also is devoted today to fracking. There you will see the level of thought concerning renewable energy that dominates in the USA. The writers may mention solar and wind but that's it. You will never see a serious article about renewable energy use in Sweden or Denmark to name two countries that are leaders in renewable energy.

Why? Read Paul Krugman's column, also today, with title Here Comes the Sun. There you will read what is obvious to anyone not counting on getting rich by selling rights to a fracker, there are so many people, many of them in the Congress, who can meet the needs of their greed by preserving fossil fuels as the only source, that serious development of renewable is not possible.

I write this in an effort to convince myself that it is a waste of time to try to comment on this subject by writing comments to Time's articles or by sending Letters to the Editor. If you look at an older post here in 2010 you will see a picture of Ground Source Geothermal at Champlain College in the USA. When I wrote that post I thought / Finally/Äntligen, even in the USA. I was wrong.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Never in America Renewable Energy Part 4

The text below is copied from my comment published in the New York Times as no. 82 in the comment section on Paul Krugman's column. (Added 25 October / An important proposal to create GSG at Roosevelt Island was reported in the NYT on 24 October and will be added here ASAP). I plan to add several pictures above but since my comment has my blog referenced I want to add a comment at this time, more later. My text below says simply, until the United States government develops renewable energy plans that are at least as good as those in Sweden, Denmark, Germany and possibly other European countries it is doomed to fall far behind these countries environmentally and "energetically". 

Interestingly, the first comment filed on Krugman's column says the same thing I do, using Germany as example instead of Sweden. That comment was approved of by 424 readers. Although my comment was submitted at 1:30 AM Eastern Standard time, the Times shows it as being submitted at 10:21. I note this because ordinarily the first comments printed are those that are the most read.
The Times shows the following comment as being submitted at 10:21 am. In reality it was submitted at 1:30 AM since I was writing in Sweden.
I agree with Paul Krugman. I am an emeritus professor in geology familiar with America,the Fossil Fuel Nation, who, in retirement, lives in Sweden, the Renewable Energy Nation.

I ask a simple question: Who in the United States is doing the analysis to show what full scale conversion to Renewable Energy sources could do for employment while at the same time moving America into a future the Republicans do not want to see?

The answer is, to judge from what I read every day at midnight New York Time in the NYT OnLine is: Nobody, either in the institutional sense matching API efforts or in the journalistic sense.

For both the President of the United States and the New York Times there are only two kinds of renewable energy worth mentioning: wind and solar, neither of them 24/7 sources. Both are valuable, neither provides widespread multi-level employment opportunities.

Thus I offer a simple proposal for a journalist or a Think Tank.

Study the renewable energy system in Sweden - present and planned -(or another European country) and compare that in detail with the energy situation in, let’s say enough of New England to give a population matching Sweden’s 9 million (I’ll suggest Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island all of which I have lived in).

A sample. Heavy frost outside here in Linkoeping, Sweden where all 140,000 of us are being kept warm by Distance Heating (DH) based on the combustion of municipal waste and by Ground-Source Geothermal (GSG). My home heated by DH, my neighbor’s by GSG. The buses and taxis outside my window are running on BioGas produced in Linkoeping from waste. The rail system is running on electricity from hydro and nuclear power. The landscape just west of me provides a magnificent display of wind turbines on a scale I have never seen in New England.

Imagine the labor force needed to create that in New England. For a small sample see (Larry Lundgren/emeritus Univ Rochester)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Har du sett något-Have you seen something?

Välkommen-Welcome to the Göta Canal on a fall day in Sweden

 So Let's take an Old Fashioned walk! Själv springer jag. I run. 
She rides her horse. 
But you are going to walk.
And, when you, like I, stop, you are going to take this advice from:

Olive (You're Not Alone)
Open another browser, paste in the Olive URL and listen while you look-it works 2/2/2012

(In English, Have you seen something?)

Open your mind (eyes), surely it's plain to see, you're not alone

And when you look behind, you will surely see a face that you recognize

It is the distance, that makes life a little hard

 So thought Eva Dickson, she above on the tree so close to home at
The Castle (Ljungs Slott)

I will not falter though, I hold on to your hope,
Safely back where you belong
Eva Dickson did not make it back "Safely where she belonged". She was driving her car north from Africa through Iraq when she, like Iranian woman poet, Forough Farrokhzad, drove her car of the road - for Eva near Baghdad - in1938, like Farrokhzad meeting her death at an all too early age. (The figures on the tree symbolize Eva Dickson's adventure from Africa northward.)

Eva Dickson never could settle down, her situation, like the situation in the Arab world was always fluid. She perhaps drove her car shouting 
"Insha' Allah" trusting in God to help her say in a never attained old age,
"I Have Always Lived in the Castle"

So listen to Olive, open your mind - and your eyes 
and you will surely see all this and in your mind's eye much more

Ett stort tack till följande konstnärer som jag aldrig själv träffat

But maybe I will, Insha' Allah, some rainy day in October
between Högåsa and Ljung Wa

Only In Sweden


Sunday, July 31, 2011

Black, brown, and beige are only colors

Thinking about/responding to human difference (One in a series-maybe)
Lite svenska här så jag kan göra detta mer begripligt för mina vänner som kommit till Sverige och först måste lära sig svenska innan de kan också ta an engelska. Idag, 5 september 2011, förkortar jag den engelska texten och lägger in lite svenska här och var. 

Where I write in the past tense "wrote" instead of "write" och på svenska skrev you can be sure that this is where I have changed the original text.
Today on July 31 2011, I have just discovered that I started my blog exactly two years ago to the day. My primary interest then, as now, was to learn and write about the way human difference is “met” (thought about etc)  in the region of my birth, New England, USA and in Sweden the home country of “farfar and farmor” and of “mormors far och mor”, where I have lived since 1996.

I wrote the original version to provide a background for asking friends about Human Difference or perhaps better about identity. Who am I? 

In the original I wrote that I would make contributions to organizations like Doctors Without Borders if friends read this and perhaps wrote about their individual identities. I made contributions to Somali Relief Funds, and will make more in the future so that is taken care of.

Osman and me-Red Cross, Linkoeping

Abdi-Winooski, Vermont

Iman (left) and friend-Linkoeping

Jean Luc and me-Mount Philo, S of Burlington, Vermont
Här kan Ni se fyra vänner till mig. Alla fyra har rötter i Afrika. Detaljerna följer på engelska.

Here are four friends of mine, two of them standing next to me, another next to another friend of hers, and one alone. Osman, a friend of mine who has lived in Sweden and in Taunton, MA next to my birthplace Attleboro MA. Abdi another friend of mine who runs Halal Market and Banadir Store in Winooski, Vermont. Iman, a Medical Doctor who has lived all of her adult life in Sweden. And to the left, Jean Luc and me up on Mount Philo in June 2011.

Here I simplify from the original. Jag förenklar.

I just wondered how you the reader think when you meet someone who is different from you. American sociologists seem to believe that the first thing we do is ask what "race" is this person?

Jag bara undrade hur du som läser detta tänker då du träffar någon som inte liknar dig. Amerikanska sociologer verkar tro att det första vi gör är ställa frågan - vilken "ras" tillhör denna person?

Jag säger helt enkelt så tänker inte jag och inte de flesta. Jag är bara nyfiken - berätta om dig själv. Vad vill du berätta för mig?

Just idag skulle jag säga, t ex - jag talar två språk (svenska och engelska), jag älskar att läsa och skriva i dessa två språk, jag är alltid nyfiken och måste lära mig något nytt varje dag. Musik, böcker, människor som visar respekt för andra, och att vara i skogen (springa eller bara lyssna) är alla viktiga delar av mitt liv nästan varje dag. Jag hoppas då och då lyckas med att göra vad jag kallar Acts of Simple Kindness och Rödakorset i Linköping, Sverige har gjort det möjligt för mig och det är jag tacksam för.

I originally wrote this contribution because I had just read and reviewed a new book The Nature of Race-How Scientists Think and Teach About Human Difference by Ann Morning, Assistant Professor of Sociology at New York University. The two different reviews are at and

I have read the entire book twice, and to say it simply: I do not understand why so many American sociologists, the U.S. Census Bureau, and the New York Times all think that the best way to think and talk about human difference is to place people in little boxes with a "race" name. 

I cannot accept this practice at all and felt that way long before I moved to Sweden in 1996. Geneticall distinct races do not exist and even the socially constructed "races" that Professor Morning and others employ all are thought of in part in terms of some fundamental genetically based differences. This kind of thinking turns up in the USA in noteworthy form when admission to a hospital requires telling the hospital what "race" you belong to.

I believe that scientists can say everything that needs to be said about human difference without ever even mentioning “race” and in this I am strongly influenced by the research of Swedish-born scientist Svante Pääbo. Yet it appears to me from reading Professor Morning’s book (even the questionnaires as noted above) that her mode of thought almost requires that she place every individual she encounters in a particular “race” box or that she expects every individual to be able to place himself or herself in a “race” box.(The box phrasing comes from the nature of the forms in the 2010 United States census and forms given at some hospitals in America.)

I have removed much of what I originall wrote here, but retain anecdotes from her book.

The first part is from the chapter Introduction, the second from the chapter Conclusion):

Ann Morning In America-“When I was twelve weeks pregnant, my doctor ordered a blood test…Before drawing my blood, a nurse asked me to state my race. Usually I describe myself as African American, but on that day, piqued by my curiosity about what race had to do with my unborn child’s health, I gave the full version of my  ancestry: African, European, American Indian, and Asian. ‘Oh’ the nurse replied as she noted my answer on the form, ‘So you go in the “other” box’.”

In Italy-“The second time I was pregnant, I had the good fortune to be living in Italy…in Milan, no one ever asked me what my race (or ethnicity) was. …yet it seemed that doctors and technicians were perfectly able to care for me without that element of information that had seemed so indispensable back in the United States….If race were an important constituent of our physical constitution, why wouldn’t Italian doctors take it into account as assiduously as their counterparts in the United States?”

Professor Morning seems to have a touching belief that telling a doctor that she belongs to the African-American "race" is of great medical value. Perhaps this would be true if this "race" were pure and genetically distinct from other "races". Her story shows just how strange her own "social construction" is. Apparently an African-American can have just about any lineage you can think of as long as that "African-American" wants to think of himself or herself as belonging to a "race".

Question to End All Questions-And finally, what about this man, whose father was born in Kenya and in Professor Morning's terminology would be described as belonging to the "black" race and whose mother was born of parents whom she presumably would assign to the "white" race.

In the 2010 United States Census he checked one "race box", the one named  "black" but as you may know, he grew up with his mother and his maternal grandparents. How useful then is his self-described assignment of "race" in a medical context?

Clearly, among some members of the American medical establishment, information about human difference is regarded as important, but the question is: How scientific must that information be? I do not think "Black" is sufficient, and that is why I used Duke Ellington's terminology Black, Brown, and Beige as my title. The Duke wanted to make the point when he composed B, B, and B that the American people who were called "Negro" or "Blacks" in the highly racist America he grew up in were really a much more diverse people than the designatin "Black" allowed. .  

All thoughts welcome! My afterthought is this. I know where the parents of each of my friends were born, but I would love to see the family tree of Ann Morning, given that she writes that her ancestors have three different geographic origins and one named ethnic origin.

To place myself and each of my friends in a "race" box is for me the most absurd kind of thinking I can imagine. I am just me. Iman is Iman - beyond category. Each person is important for their many qualities. When will people in America, especially sociologists, begin to accept that?

Revision 5 September 2011

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Soon to be revived

Here in Burlington, Vermont (and for 10 days in Westport, Massachusetts) there is too much to do to even consider blogging. But back in the empty squares (torg) of Linköping, Sweden, there will be plenty of time, so stay tuned.

Tomorrow is the 4th of July which will begin with a 5 km race in South Hero, Vermont. The dynamic duo Annika and Larry will be there at the beginning but not together at the finish.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

New YorkTimes Friedman 23 Feb Now or Never

Thomas Friedman returns to a familiar subject today, a return based on the fact that in the early morning crude oil was up to $95 bbl and as I write this I heard $105 bbl.

His subject. Increase gasoline tax 5 cents a month (I think that was his scale). I support but added in my comment (here tomorrow 24th) that in New England where 50% of all space heating is oil heat (NPR data) it is feasible right now to be installing Ground Source Geothermal everywhere. Why? See my November 24 post and an earlier one in July 2010.

So simple, so feasible. But what is the new governor of Vermont talking about in terms of Energy Policy? Approving a few wind turbines on Lowell Mountain.

With that as an energy policy there is no hope.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Race in the New York Times

I recently experienced ICD 9  s 431 which in Swedish is AC-LEDSLUXATION meaning that my right collarbone flew over the acromion process after a fall on Swedish ice. Result for my blogging is left index finger typing and thus brevity. 

I must in any case call attention to two New York Times series Race Remixed by Susan Saulny and today’s set of six statements in the Times series Room for debate 13 february both easily found at NYT OnLine.

Read the comments to learn that we are many who find the US Census Department’s “race boxes” to be absurd. You can see that at least two of us even in Sweden think this way.

And now on the 14th of February after reading the Room for Debate essays can I say to Dilsa Demirbag-Sten, Saki Madone, and Per Bauhn “Nu förstår jag varför Saki skrev sin fina essä “Sluta särbehandla” och D D-S och PB “Till frihetens försvar”.

Take a look even at February 11 “Race” and terms such as “African-American” – are they racist?

He and think these are worth discussion? How about you?

Styrsö, Sweden patientstugan