The Swarm

Mix it up with The Bee's editorial board.

April 22, 2010
Just in time for Earth Day - endangered species condoms
BiolDiv_CB_Rock-Frog.jpgThe Center for Biological Diversity is a controversial and litigious bunch, but they deserve a tip of the act for the most inventive Earth Day souvenirs -- endangered species condoms.

The environmental group is distributing 250,000 of these free condoms at Earth Day events today to highlight the threat overpopulation poses to flora and fauna.

To help people understand the impact of overpopulation on other species, and to give them a chance to take action in their own lives, the Center is distributing free packets of Endangered Species Condoms depicting six separate species: the polar bear, snail darter, spotted owl, American burying beetle, jaguar, and coquí guajón rock frog.

It should be noted that not all analysts see overpopulation as a leading environmental threat. Author Fred Pearce, for instance, notes in this essay that overconsumption by the developed world, not growing population in the Third World,  "has been driving humanity's impacts on the planet's vital life-support systems during at least the past century."

Even so, we imagine that Pearce would get a chuckle out of Endangered Species Condoms. They won't put a stopper on the population debate, but they will certainly give it more attention.
April 8, 2010
Will attack ad - and its demise - help or hurt Allan Zaremberg?
bio_azaremberg.jpgThe California Chamber of Commerce pulled its attack ad on Jerry Brown today, giving new meaning to the cliche about a celebrity's 15 minutes of fame.

The television ad had barely aired before it came under criticism from several quarters, ranging from Jerry Brown's campaign to this editorial page to Mark Yudof, the UC President who serves on the Chamber's board.

Frankly, I am disappointed that Cal-Chamber President Allan Zaremberg pulled it so quickly, since it was highly entertaining and we had barely gotten started dissecting its distortions and political miscalculations.

 But it's likely that Joel Fox is more disappointed. He mounted a spirited defense of the ad minutes before Zaremberg pulled it. Oh well.

None of this will likely matter next week, much less in November, but one has to wonder: Will it help or hurt Zaremberg?

On one hand, he angered part of his board and wasted his members' money on ads that now will be a collector's item on YouTube. Yet he also fired a shot across the brow of the quixotic Brown campaign, which is already facing a expensive runoff with presumptive nominee Meg Whitman and her bottomless pit of wealth.

Following June, can Jerry fight a war on two fronts? Meg and the Chamber, kissing in a tree? 

Stay tuned. Small is beautiful, except when you are trying to run for California governor.
April 5, 2010
Should California open its waters to further oil extraction?
oil_rig_california_offshore_calm_sea1.jpgIn yesterday's New York Times, energy consultant Michael Lynch argues that Obama's oil drilling plan is a "bold political move" but won't do much to reduce the nation's dependence on imported oil, unless...

We go for oil off the California coast...

Lynch, the former director of the Asian energy and security working group at the Center for International Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, writes:

We know from earlier operations that it (California) has significantly more resources than the all the newly opened areas combined. Yet most extraction there came to an abrupt halt in January 1969, after a Union Oil platform off Santa Barbara spilled more than 80,000 barrels into the ocean. There are still 40 or so active leases there that now produce some 40 million barrels a year safely. They have given us a good understanding of the geology, thus exploration would be quicker and less costly than in unknown areas, and the return more certain.

This area, especially off Southern California, has an estimated 7.5 billion to 14 billion barrels of oil and 13 trillion to 24 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. It could probably generate as much revenue as the other newly released areas combined; the oil, not having to be piped from northern Alaska, would be cheaper to harvest. While California drilling is one of the third rails of American politics, the federal government forgoing at least $20 billion a year in taxes seems unwise.

What do you think? While I'm no fan of increased consumption of fossil fuels, California's imports of oil have increased 25 percent since 1995, with much of that oil coming from far-flung places such as Ecuador. Is it time to at least consider additional oil extraction off the state's coast? If it were coupled with retiring old oil platforms and pumping tax revenues into California's depleted coffers, would you support it? Where do you stand?

About The Swarm

The Swarm is written by members of The Sacramento Bee's editorial board. They meet daily and are separate from the newsroom. Views included here are those of individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect those of a majority of the board or the positions expressed in The Bee's editorials.

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