Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Democrats, Otters and Earthquakes

Bill Clinton spoke at the Democratic National Convention tonight. I heard he really wanted to talk about his own legacy, but he toed the party line and used the spotlight to call the troops to rally around their candidate. As usual, I was very conflicted. President Bill Clinton, for all the accomplishments he had, always struck me as a less than stellar human being. Not just because of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, though that certainly didn't win him any points with me. In general, he strikes me as a capable, bright and ambitious man with a dearth of principles. Yet every time he made a speech he won me over, if only until the speech was over. I would watch the State of the Nation address and be left wondering how I could be so easily manipulated.

I didn't fall under his spell this time, but I will never dispute the man is a wonderful speaker. I'm glad it appears the Democrats are starting to get their act together. It would be a shame to squander the enthusiasm and energy that Democrats generated during the primary. And I seriously thought Hillary might just slap him silly if he created any more problems for the Democrats this year.

So tonight I learned something new - Bill Clinton can put aside his personal feelings for the good of his country. It was good to see.

There are a lot of new things happening lately...or at least they're new to me.

My daughter told me about the link between dying sea otters and cat litter. I hadn't heard it.
If you haven't either, here's a story you can read in Time . Or you can be lazy and I'll tell you. Basically, it's believed that the huge increase in the use of flushable cat litter is leading to an increase in a bacteria present in cat waste that survives long enough to get into creatures in the water...creatures that otters eat. I adore otters. I've loved them since "Ring of Bright Water." I was traumatized by that story's unhappy ending. So now I have to stop flushing cat litter...and that means our trash is going to be just horrible.

But isn't it bothering you how many things we do eventually prove to be a problem?

There's another new thing under the ground in my neck of the woods. Or maybe, more accurately, something we never knew about under the ground.

There's a new study out that's discovered there's a bigger risk of earthquakes in the metro New York area than we knew. It's legit - the result of measurements by the Columbia University Lamont-Dougherty Earth Lab. You can read more here... Lab Website

I spoke with the author of that study this week. The folks at the Indian Point nuclear power plant are quick to say he's been an outspoken opponent of their facility. When I spoke with him, Dr. Lynn Sykes sounded like a very level-headed man who was very concerned about the possibility of damage to a nuclear facility that is sited near not one, but two existing fault lines.

Indian Point owners Entergy say the lab is fact, they go so far as to say it would be the safest place to be in an earthquake. They probably believe it. But neighboring Westchester County, which is bristling with homes, malls, and industry, is wondering now how well it could evacuate its citizens if its aging bridges and roads were falling apart during an earthquake. And evacuation was always an important part of Westchester's emergency planning...the goal was to reduce everyone's potential radiation exposure.

So now we're facing a new issue based on science, and each interest group is entrenched...the Nuclear Regulatory Commission doesn't think the new study offers any significant new threat to the nuclear plant....Indian Point doesn't think it needs to shore up its building in the face of an increased earthquake risk. But it's possible we're all standing on shaky ground.

No comments: