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From ‘dirty power plants’ to Arctic oil drilling: can the US be sustainable under Romney?



Mitt Romney is almost certain to be the next Republican Party presidential candidate. But what if he wins? Can the US, governed by Romney’s Grand Old Party, seriously strive for the sustainable future the world needs? Charlie Wood finds out.

The Republican National Convention kicks off on Monday in Tampa, Florida, and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney will be confirmed as the Grand Old Party’s choice to take on President Obama in November. As the Republican primary process unfolded, the platform upon which Romney will run has become somewhat clear – he is for an across-the-board 20% income tax cut, he has vowed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (AKA ‘Obamacare’), and he has pledged to defund some federal programs of a socially divisive nature, such as Planned Parenting. Romney’s views on environmental sustainability, however, are still something of a mystery, and thus prime for investigation.

This assessment must be prefixed with an outline of the vagaries of governing in the United States. If Romney were to win the general election (and it is a very large ‘if’), he would be in control of only one of the three branches of government – the executive. It seems increasingly likely that the congressional branch, made up of the House of Representatives and the Senate (similar to our Houses of Commons and Lords respectively, but with a much more powerful Lords) would remain, as they are now, deadlocked.

As it stands, the Republicans control the House, and the Democrats control the Senate, and this is unlikely to change – if anything, the Democrats may take back the House. If this remains the case then the president, as Barack Obama has learned to his chagrin, will find it immensely difficult to force through any legislation, and the sustainability may be kicked even further down the road.

Also, as Romney learned to his undoubted cost in the case of the Affordable Care Act, the judiciary, helmed by a conservative-led Supreme Court, does not always do what is expected of it. These factors could easily lead to a legislative ‘log-jam’ in a potential Romney presidency, forcing him to concentrate his efforts into one thing – the economy – and be damned with all else. In these circumstances, we can only speculate upon what a President Romney would do for the environment if he had a free hand, and speculate we shall!

Politicians say they like to run on their records, and not from them, so Romney’s time as governor of Massachusetts is a good place to begin. At first glance, it seems that Governor Romney’s green credentials were sound: early on in his tenure he waged war on dirty power plants, insisting on tough emissions standards for coal producers, and negotiated the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI or ‘ReGGIe’) in support of the regulation of greenhouse emissions.

However, the political price of this initiative forced the governor into a U-turn when, after lobbying for a cap on penalties to businesses that exceeded stated emission levels, he pulled out of RGGI in 2005. The governor also opposed the Cape Cod wind farm proposal in 2006, citing the visual detriment to the area.

It seems fair to conclude from these instances that Governor Romney paid lip-service to the cause of sustainability, but could not summon the political will required to be thought of as ‘green’. Candidate Romney, as he has been since his failed attempt at the big job during the 2008 presidential cycle, has employed markedly different rhetoric.

While it is true that Candidate Romney has championed renewable energy sources such as bio-diesel, biofuel and ethanol, and has conceded (unlike some in his party) that global warming is at least partially man-made, he also opposes Kyoto and Cap-and-Trade, noting in his 2012 book, No Apologies, that “if developing nations won’t curb emissions, even extreme mitigation measures taken by the United States and other developed nations will have no appreciable effect on slowing the rate of greenhouse gas emission“.

This position is not outside the mainstream of Republican orthodoxy. It is true that many of Romney’s views would be to the left of his colleagues. The more pertinent problem with candidate Romney’s green credentials is his campaigns incessant need to use President Obama’s green agenda as a stick to beat him with. On his official website, a full page is dedicated to highlighting the president’s “wasteful spending on failed energy policies“, repeatedly quoting the figure of “$90 billion earmarked for clean energy efforts in the recession-fighting stimulus package“.

As regards funding, the now defunct solar cell manufacturers Solyndra, and drawing attention to the relative disappointment felt towards the administration regarding sustainability, they may have a point. However, a breakdown (supplied by the New York Times) of the $90 billion  includes $3 billion for research and development into carbon capture, $10 billion for grid modernisation (including smart meters), $18 billion for fast trains, and a whopping $29 billion for energy efficiency, much of it to homes of low earners.

If candidate Romney believed, as Governor Romney stated in 2007, that “we must use America’s power of innovation to develop alternative sources of energy and technologies that use energy more efficiently“, then he would surely embrace these initiatives, instead of castigating the president to score cheap political points.

The politically poisonous charges of ‘Flip-Flopper’ and ‘Waffler’ have been levelled against Mitt Romney during this election cycle, as they were against John Kerry in 2004. Regarding his green credentials, there is evidence to suggest Romney talks a good talk, but refuses to walk the walk.

If elected president, Romney will lessen America’s dependence on foreign oil in the short term, by sanctioning the construction of the Keystone pipeline and drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). It seems unlikely, however, that either he, or his running mate, congressman Paul Ryan, will seriously strive for the sustainable future the world needs.

If a Romney presidency became enmeshed in economics and foreign affairs, and the responsibility for the environmental portfolio fell into his VP’s hands, then we had all better hold on to our hats. Congressman Ryan’s pronouncements on climate change include the belief that scientists have tried to “intentionally mislead the public“, and his voting record in the House suggests he has neither the time nor the inclination to tackle environmental  issues.

Members of the environmentalist lobby who are frustrated with the efforts of the current administration have been forewarned – the grass is no greener on the other side.

Charlie Wood is a 30-year-old recent graduate of English literature at Leeds Metropolitan University, from Fleetwood, Lancashire, and West Cork, Ireland. He intends to pursue a career in politics and writing.

Further reading:

The world needs ethical, environmental and entrepreneurial leaders

International Green Party success


Ways Green Preppers Are Trying to Protect their Privacy



Environmental activists are not given the admiration that they deserve. A recent poll by Gallup found that a whopping 32% of Americans still doubt the existence of global warming. The government’s attitude is even worse.

Many global warming activists and green preppers have raised the alarm bell on climate change over the past few years. Government officials have taken notice and begun tracking their activity online. Even former National Guard officers have admitted that green preppers and climate activists are being targeted for terrorist watchlists.

Of course, the extent of their surveillance depends on the context of activism. People that make benign claims about climate change are unlikely to end up on a watchlist, although it is possible if they make allusions to their disdain of the government. However, even the most pacifistic and well intentioned environmental activists may unwittingly trigger some algorithm and be on the wrong side of a criminal investigation.

How could something like this happen? Here are some possibilities:

  • They could share a post on social media from a climate extremist group or another individual on the climate watchlist.
  • They could overly politicize their social media content, such as being highly critical of the president.
  • They could use figures of speech that may be misinterpreted as threats.
  • They might praise the goals of a climate change extremist organization that as previously resorted to violence, even if they don’t condone the actual means.

Preppers and environmental activists must do everything in their power to protect their privacy. Failing to do so could cost them their reputation, future career opportunities or even their freedom. Here are some ways that they are contacting themselves.

Living Off the Grid and Only Venturing to Civilization for Online Use

The more digital footprints you leave behind, the greater attention you draw. People that hold controversial views on environmentalism or doomsday prepping must minimize their digital paper trail.

Living off the grid is probably the best way to protect your privacy. You can make occasional trips to town to use the Wi-Fi and stock up on supplies.

Know the Surveillance Policies of Public Wi-Fi Providers

Using Wi-Fi away from your home can be a good way to protect your privacy.However, choosing the right public Wi-Fi providers is going to be very important.

Keep in mind that some corporate coffee shops such a Starbucks can store tapes for up to 60 days. Mom and pop businesses don’t have the technology nor the interest to store them that long. They generally store tips for only 24 hours and delete them afterwards. This gives you a good window of opportunity to post your thoughts on climate change without being detected.

Always use a VPN with a No Logging Policy

Using a VPN is one of the best ways to protect your online privacy. However, some of these providers do a much better job than others. What is a VPN and what should you look for when choosing one? Here are some things to look for when making a selection:

  • Make sure they are based in a country that has strict laws on protecting user privacy. VPNs that are based out of Switzerland, Panama for the British Virgin Islands are always good bets.
  • Look for VPN that has a strict no logging policy. Some VPNs will actually track the websites that you visit, which almost entirely defeats the purpose. Most obviously much better than this, but many also track Your connections and logging data. You want to use a VPN that doesn’t keep any logs at all.
  • Try to choose a VPN that has an Internet kill switch. This means that all content will stop serving if your VPN connection drops, which prevents your personal data from leaking out of the VPN tunnel.

You will be much safer if you use a high-quality VPN consistently, especially if you have controversial views on climate related issues or doomsday prepping.

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How Going Green Can Save Your Business Thousands



Running a company isn’t easy. From reporting wages in an efficient way to meeting deadlines and targets, there’s always something to think about – with green business ideas giving entrepreneurs something extra to ponder. While environmental issues may not be at the forefront of your mind right now, it could save your business thousands, so let’s delve deeper into this issue.

Small waste adds up over time

A computer left on overnight might not seem like the end of the world, right? Sure, it’s a rather minor issue compared to losing a client or being refused a loan – but small waste adds up over time. Conserving energy is an effective money saver, so to hold onto that hard-earned cash, try to:

  • Turn all electrical gadgets off at the socket rather than leaving them on standby as the latter can crank up your energy bill without you even realizing.
  • Switch all lights off when you exit a room and try switching to halogen incandescent light bulbs, compact fluorescent lamps or light emitting diodes as these can use up to 80 per cent less energy than traditional incandescent and are therefore more efficient.
  • Replace outdated appliances with their greener counterparts. Energy Star appliances have labels which help you to understand their energy requirements over time.
  • Draught-proof your premises as sealing up leaks could slash your energy bills by 30 per cent.

Going electronic has significant benefits

If you don’t want to be buried under a mountain of paperwork, why not opt for digital documents instead of printing everything out? Not only will this save a lot of money on paper and ink but it will also conserve energy and help protect the planet. You may even be entitled to one of the many tax breaks and grants issued to organizations committed to achieving their environmental goals. This is particularly good news for start-ups with limited funds as the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) is keen to support companies opening up their company in a green manner.

Of course, if you’re used to handing out brochures and leaflets at every company meeting or printing out newsletters whenever you get the chance, going electronic may be a challenge – but here are some things you can try:

  • Using PowerPoint presentations not printouts
  • Communicating via instant messenger apps or email
  • Using financial software to manage your books
  • Downloading accounting software to keep track of figures
  • Arranging digital feedback and review forms
  • Making the most of Google Docs

Going green can help you to make money too

Going green and environmental stability is big news at the moment with many companies doing their bit for the environment. While implementing eco-friendly strategies will certainly save you money, reducing your carbon footprint could also make you a few bucks too. How? Well, consumers care about what brands are doing more than ever before, with many deliberately siding with those who are implementing green policies. Essentially, doing your bit for the environment is a PR dream as it allows you to talk about what everyone wants to hear.

Going green can certainly save your money but it should also improve your reputation too and give you a platform to promote your business.

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