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John Chapot home page (my Bro)

My brother John has a webpage, click his name for link

greens without borders

worst case scenario: Global warming=universal destruction

Let's talk worst case scenario: Global warming=universal destruction
Scientist have come to the conclusion that yes, global warming is real and, yes, we need to act. However, science, being conservative, sends much of its predictions into the far future and limits scenarios to forseeable problems such as; three degrees of warming in a hundred years, a few feet of sea level rise in fifty, bigger storms, crop damage, population displacement, glacier retreat, etcetera.

Nobody wants to discuss the possible scenario that it is too late to prevent the complete elimination of life on earth...

The atmosphere of terrestrial planets is rich in heavy gases and gaseous combinations, CO2, Oxygen, Nitrogen and trace elements like Ozone and Argon. The atmosphere of gaseous planets is more problematic. Any available water is evaporated into the atmosphere and all the byproducts (perhaps oif previous ecosystems), such as methane and nitrogen are volitized into a soup of indigestible products hugging the surface and killing off any possibility of life(as we know it). Most other planets could never have supported life.

Sad but true. So I am asking, what if the planet Earth, lucky to find itself in a gentle zone, (called Goldilocks by planetary scientists "not to hot, not too cold", and I might add, not too filthy), is in bigger trouble than any one has contemplated?

What if the project of human industrialization has, in less than two hundred years, converted the prevailing atmosphere of the planet Earth into a soup of the byproducts of fossil fuel imolation and set the planet on an inexorable course towards a methane + nitrogen atmosphere that cannot, and will never again, sustain a form of life any ways near the highly structured human species, let alone frogs and butterflies?

Posted by Hank Chapot at May 13, 2006 06:29 PM




WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Green leaders spoke out against efforts by law enforcement to target Critical Mass, defending cyclists' right to assemble.

Critical Mass, which holds mass bicycle rides to celebrate the bicycle as a healthy alternative to the automobile, has been the target of recent mass arrests and confiscation of bicycles.

"Police could easily allow Critical Mass rides to proceed without incident, instead of disrupting them and arresting riders," said Henry Lawrence, past President of the Florida Bicycle Association and Florida Green Party candidate for Bay County Commissioner in 2004. "Cities should make every attempt to accommodate bikes. Cities face increasing traffic demands, the effects of car exhaust such as asthma epidemics among children, and global warming. Bicycles represent one of the best hopes for clean urban transportation."

At least 37 Critical Mass participants were arrested in New York City on Friday, March 25; riders claim frequent harassment by police and city officials in New York and other cities.

"If bikers need a permit in order to gather in a public space, why isn't a similar permit required for cars?", asked Hank Chapot, archivist for the Green Party of California who has participated in Critical Mass rides in San Francisco, Berkeley, and London. "The permit requirement allows arbitrary arrest of bicyclists, including those who aren't involved in Critical Mass events but happen to be nearby."

Greens called the suppression of Critical Mass and a recent New York City lawsuit to gag Times Up, a nonprofit organization that has mentored Critical Mass, part of a larger campaign to criminalize protest.

Photo of broken hydrant, Berkeley CA

Bancroft Avenue Waterworks
A Berkeley garbage truck hit a fire hydrant on Bancroft Avenue below Dana Steet around 7 a.m. Tuesday creating a huge geyser of water that took about 20 minutes to contain.

Photograph by Hank Chapot.

Save the old San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge!


Editors, Daily Planet:

Now that the bids for the final section of the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge are being considered, perhaps we should start a campaign to preserve the existing eastern span, for logistic as well as historical reasons. It would be a backup bridge in the event the new one is a failure and it would be a nice place to walk or ride bicycles and picnic. Saving the old bridge would be a nice homage to the builders of the 1930s and a prudent effort perhaps, considering the problems we’ve had building a new one.

Hank Chapot


Freedom of Assembly? Not!


Editors, Daily Planet:

I agree with J. Douglas Allen-Taylor that it is bad public policy for Oakland police and the CHP to harass drivers in east Oakland just because the sideshow thing is out of hand, but how far does his freedom of assembly argument go?

On Saturday night, Oct. 1, we had a little activity of the unneighborly kind on my block of 58th Street near Shattuck, that spoke volumes about the lack of space for Oakland’s teenagers to hang out and to the inability or unwillingness of the Oakland Housing Authority to supervise its property, which happens to be across the street from my (rented) house. Perhaps I am being overly sensitive, but this is the site of two border dispute murders within five weeks in the summer of 2003.

There were no deaths this time but lots of broken bottles, a few car windows smashed and a lot of police time wasted because a 13-year-old’s birthday party, perhaps turned into a flash crowd by the ubiquitous cell phone, spread out into the OHA parking lot, then the street with cars blocking the street, fighting, drinking, loud music and waves of youths running away from the eventual swarm of Oakland police.

Adding insult to injury, my call to the housing authority police dispatcher was answered by, “we only have one officer tonight, and he’s busy.” (This on a warm Saturday night for an organization with more than a thousand units). I waited on hold for 10 minutes, hung up and called back, very angry this time, and finally got her supervisor, a corporal named Jerry Williams. He said “I only have one officer and what am I supposed to do about it?” Continuing, he said, “What can one guy do against a crowd?”

While many homeowners on this block want the place shut down, even considering a nuisance lawsuit against the housing authority in the wake of the murders, I am one of the few who’ve supported keeping the place open because people need housing. But now I have realized that the OHA can’t control its own property and can’t keep the peace on 58th Street.

How would J. Douglas Allen-Taylor answer this freedom of assembly issue?

Hank Chapot

Wheelchairs in Berkeley?

Editors, Daily Planet:

The current discussion about access for wheelchair riders is another reason Berkeley is such a great city. The fact that sidewalks are in worse shape than many roadways suggests nirvana has yet to be achieved. But we limit ourselves by focusing solely on wheelchairs.

Cities across the U.S., from Arizona to Maine and now Berkeley, are struggling to assimilate all kinds of new personal transportation devices. Local governments are confronted with retirement community residents, fully capable disabled, skatepunks, golfers, cyclists, eco-activists and users of slow, non-internal combustion transport machines demanding a fair share of the road for urban golf carts, electric and gas-powered scooters, EVs, three-wheeled bicycles, bikes with trailers, small and large motorcycles, mopeds, skateboards, roller skates, those wheelie things with the handle, children on hotwheels, rickshaws, pedicabs and even the ill-fated Segway riding machine. And it’s obvious they can’t all be on the sidewalk.

American tradition and court rulings have affirmed the right to travel. City streets have never been the sole province of automobiles. Public roads serve multiple purposes beside transit; unloading groceries, pouring concrete, walking your dog, riding your wheelchair. Those who do not own a motorized vehicle retain

the civil right to mobility. In addition, legal precedent affirms the right to go slow on all public roads except those with controlled access or minimum speed limits like freeways. Municipalities are only allowed to enforce traffic requirements such as periodic yields. Many of these laws come from rural areas where farm machinery and horses maintain the right to the road and include legal precedent from Amish country.

Unfortunately, some localities dealing with electric and human-powered vehicles try to fashion laws giving slow vehicles a “little access,” amounting to second class citizenship, even requiring counterintuitive traffic gestures confusing to car drivers. But special rules setting apart various classes of vehicles are not the solution. Accident statistics prove what traffic engineers and bicycle scientists say. Full integration of bicycles in traffic is not only necessary for the cyclist’s right to travel, but is safer than segregation. Adding other classes of small personal vehicles will have similar minimal impacts on traffic if automobile users decide to share the road.

Of necessity and inkling, wheelchair users are social pioneers, but we will all benefit from emerging forms of personal transportation and must support them, and we all must take cues from bicyclists who have struggled for access for more than one hundred years. Some day in Berkeley’s future is a city crisscrossed with trees and multi-purpose public spaces where automobile users are expected to yield to little children, EVs and Wheelchairs. The automobile will have it’s place, but so will the rest of us.

Hank Chapot


Bicycle commuter, employed in Berkeley

Orville Schell is anti-labor, and really stupid

"An Inconvenient Tactic," Water Cooler, 6/7

The advent of elite journalism
Orville Schell's intemperate remarks about my labor union, AFSCME, display his complete lack of understanding of the power dynamics in the struggle between low-income workers and UC. Quoted in your paper that he, "find[s] it pretty unconstructive of them to be canceling graduations and things like that. I really don't understand." He vows never to contact the union again. "Nor would I think most people at the university would choose to speak to [AFSCME organizer Debra] Grabelle." I hope Schell isn't serious; I presume he likes his toilets clean and his trash hauled away.

By these comments, he not only insults the lowest-paid workers at UC, but also exposes one of the prime reasons journalism is in trouble today. Until perhaps the 1970s, most journalists were working stiffs; many weren't college graduates. Even well-known reporters came from small and medium markets. They understood their job was to watchdog the rich and powerful. To cover the abuses of power. By professionalizing journalism at elite schools, people like Schell have reinforced the disconnect of journalism from its blue-collar roots. His students come to believe they are part of the power structure and not the working class. With the advent of elite journalism, they have joined the rich and the powerful and are therefore inhibited from covering their own class, and as displayed by Schell's snooty comments, have lost all compassion with the working poor, and, in his words, "do not understand" the very real struggle over wages at his university.
Hank Chapot, UC gardener, Oakland

similarities between the sideshows and Critical Mass


Editors, Daily Planet:

In the debate over Oakland’s sideshows, has anyone recognized the similarities between the sideshow phenomena and Critical Mass? Both events involve marginalized people using whatever means are at hand to retake some public space, have fun, meet new people and enjoy the good weather. It may seem a stretch to compare African-American youth with no space in the entire city of Oakland to poor bicyclists squeezed out and hated by motorists, but the similarities are there.

Sideshows and Critical Mass are both leaderless but self-organizing, spontaneous but predictable, fun, alt-community events with political overtones that threaten to keep youthful rebellion alive. Both phenomena are confusing and frightening to the uninitiated and both make demands for breathing room in the public arena.

The other similarity is the way the media, the police and city are reacting to sideshows; very much like the way the San Francisco mayor and police behaved when confronted with Critical Mass. First, they ignored us, then they tried to control us, then for a while they facilitated the ride, then they tried to fight us by cracking heads, impounding bikes and making mass arrests, then they got over themselves and went back to helping the ride pass through unmolested, like any other civic nuisance that mucks up public streets on any given day. And though it still goes on every month in a town near you, unless you’ve been stuck in it, you haven’t heard much about Critical Mass in years, because the shock value has waned and the media has moved on to the latest menace du jour like sideshows and terrorist preschoolers.

Perhaps we should think outside the mayor’s box.

Hank Chapot



Editors, Daily Planet:

Isn’t it great to read the words of our so-called leaders discussing the demise of Andy Ross’ bookstore on upper Telegraph Avenue? How happy I am to see that our Chamber of Commerce, our mayor and anybody but Kriss Worthington has so much faith in the urban commercial zone called “Telegraph Avenue” that they would state their profound support for such an important urban commercial zone?

Andy Ross states, “the city has played a negative role, having ignored Telegraph Avenue. The city has decided to treat downtown as an economic opportunity and to treat Telegraph as a crime problem and not as an economic opportunity.”

Mayor Tom Bates says he suspects that “older” (read post-yuppie prigs) book buyers feel more at ease shopping at Cody’s store on trendy Fourth Street. “It’s more upscale and more comfortable,” Bates said. “Telegraph Avenue is a great place, but some people (read upscale gentrifiers) don’t want to go there.” Yeah, yuppie elders and Bates supporters hate young, indigent people.

Community Development Project Coordinator Dave Fogarty says “There are migratory youth and drug dealing,” noting that people “are acting out obnoxiously,” shouting and sitting on the sidewalk with their feet sticking out. “People find it unpleasant.”

I’ll bet the remaining merchants on Telegraph are really happy with the public face Mayor Bates, who wants to be reelected, and the supposed supporters, have given to Telegraph avenue’s image.

Hank Chapot





Editors, Daily Planet:

With all the talk about traffic in Berkeley—Marin Avenue, the circles, the buses and all—it is time to add another concept to the mix and really get people going. How will our city streets function if we remove all traffic signage, road striping and stoplights? Is Berkeley ready for the complete removal of the reminders of the rules everyone should know anyway?

A recent article in the Toronto Star described these “Naked Streets.” The idea, gaining popularity in Europe and pretty much the rule in less developed countries, is to reduce the sense of ownership vehicle drivers carry and equalize users of roads by forcing more eye contact and negotiation. Experiments in a handful of European cities with signage removal are ongoing, but the preliminary results are very encouraging. Dutch, German and Danish planners are having good results with the test, even in crowded inner-city intersections. Some districts in London will soon begin trying out the idea.

On naked streets, drivers slow down a bit, check the intersections on approach and make eye contact with other drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists, instead of blindly driving wherever the signs say they can. Removal of signs and striping encourages drivers to focus not on lights and signage but on what’s happening around them, and to adjust their driving style accordingly.

In the U.S., we go for extreme regulation rather than common sense and sharing. Americans will shudder with thoughts of anarchy on the roadway when they hear of naked streets, but when all signage, striping and lights are removed the rules of the road still apply. Naked streets might reverse our authoritarian impulses just a little. Oh, maybe we’ll keep the street signs.

Hank Chapot

Free Beer in Berkeley?


Editors, Daily Planet:

Zelda Bronstein’s expose of free beer at the Berkeley homecoming game is only the tip of a huge iceberg. The amount of alcohol consumed and the problem of driving under the influence around home game tailgate parties all over campus would be a scandal if it occurred in any other jurisdiction.

As an employee of the campus grounds department, I have once or twice been required to pick up the tons of tailgate party trash, including empty cases of wine, beer and hard liquor bottles unceremoniously left behind by alumni and boosters who have a funny way of showing their love for UC; drinking and partying and trashing the place, then using the streets and freeways to drive home. And I’m not talking about fraternities.

If the Berkeley citizenry is troubled by the Honda dealership giving away free beer, imagine what they’d think of all the drunk drivers leaving the football games. And if the police are really in search of evil-doers, perhaps they’d stop harassing gutter-punks on Telegraph for a moment and set up checkpoints on University Avenue and do some breath testing.

But that wouldn’t work because so many of those drunk drivers are being hit up for funds to build the new stadium.

Hank Chapot


Drive better, save money


Editors, Daily Planet:

In the face of high gas prices, we should discuss the simple fact that if every driver stays off the road 10 percent of his or her time, others will get to their destination faster and therefore save money in gas. Few things are more wasteful than sitting in traffic.

Hank Chapot


Your own, personal, carbon credits

Commentary: Berkeley Daily Planet

Your Own Personal Carbon Credits
By Hank Chapot (09-01-06)


Local papers are reporting that Burning Man is addressing its energy usage in a scheme called Cooling Man (coolingman.org) wherein Burners can pay for their energy usage by purchasing “carbon offsets” and reduce the festival’s global warming impacts. A fine idea, but the claim that participants will “offset” their global warming impact “the same way as a large corporations do” by investing in clean energy projects is not exactly correct. It hides the larger problem of current free-market answers to global warming.

While Burners are being asked to pay for their pollution, today’s increasingly internationalized carbon trading plans reward large corporate polluters with “carbon credits” based on their historical pollution levels, usually in tons, which they can then trade on the open market to other corporate polluters. Trading pollution credits in a market-based system includes the buying of so-called carbon sinks that are supposed to “sequester” CO2 and supporting no-greenhouse gas energy production. In the US, there is even an “acid rain” trading system for sulfur dioxide emissions.

Unfortunately, this plan financially compensates heavy polluters and only redistributes pollution by giving them credit for polluting in the first place.

Every American, as citizens of the country that spews more than a third the world’s pollution, is more or less responsible for a portion of the pollution our country produces. So, if we think about pollution trading in a more democratic way, why can’t each and every American, from the president on down to the newborn infant, be given a piece of the pollution market, just like the polluting corporations? We could each take responsibility for our own environmental footprint. By choice or by necessity we would be rewarded for living a low energy lifestyle.

I walk a lot and ride a bike to work. I haven’t owned a car in three years and haven’t flown in five. I eat low on the food chain and try to avoid products that add to air pollution. I took Al Gore’s test on my yearly CO2 production. The average in the USA is 15,000 pounds. Mine is far below average at about 2,100. In a personalized carbon trading scheme, I would be a rich man. I could sell my credits to my neighbor who drives an SUV and owns a speedboat. But we’d both be rich if we could barter our credits to industry.

Think this is a dream? Reuters reported in July that there are already proposals in the United Kingdom to do just that. Environment minister David Milband is studying the possibility of issuing consumers a personal energy use card representing a citizen’s portion of the entire pollution output of the UK. The card would be used as a debit card that track’s personal energy use. Use more, you would have to spend you carbon credits and perhaps buy more. Consume less and you could sell or bank your carbon credits, maybe even draw interest. You could trade your credits to a person who wants to travel on energy intensive modes of transport, eat meat, burn gas and oil and dry clothes in a clothes dryer instead of on a clothesline. And you would get healthier and slimmer for all the walking.

Another plan, similar but less personalized, would be to increase taxes, across the board or selectively based on social needs, on polluting activities while reducing taxes on non-polluting activities and things we want to support, like employment. This is called “true-cost pricing” but it only works if you earmark the funds for reinvestment into alternative energy projects. True-cost pricing would go a long way to rationalizing our insane energy economy where nobody, the corporation or the consumer, pays the costs of our American lifestyle. And for the free-marketeers, true-cost pricing can be seen as another market-force that will drive innovation and improve efficiency.