Archive | October, 2010

Houston Have Your Say Past Shows

Posted on 28 October 2010 by Michelle Reed

Watch all past shows of Houston Have your Say

The Eco House

By: Kira Black, Production Assistant

We are living during a time where a change needs to happen and the change needs to begin at home or the reconstructing of our homes. With the high effects from global warming we all need to start thinking or seeking to live in an eco-friendly environment. The increasing global temperature change is raising concern for people and our solution is to use natural materials to build homes and businesses. There are studies that preach switching to eco-friendly products will decrease the harmful effects of gases into our environment.

“Natural Building” is a term that describes the use of natural materials as opposed to the use of man-made or industrial materials. Our focus needs to be directed toward the ways of building homes that minimizes the use of products that require a sizable amount of energy from their manufacturing and transportation. Most green houses are uniquely, artistically designed and a homeowner saves money on the energy expenses because green houses run on solar and wind power (reusable/non pollutant resources).

There is a housing company based in Phoenix, AZ that provides affordable ecological housing for residential communities called Upcycle Living. The creators of Upcycle Living built these eco-friendly structures out of four remodeled shipping containers which is proven to be extremely durable. The house is made into two floors, two bedrooms, and two-and-a-half bathrooms while furnished with bamboo cabinets, dual-flush toilets, Energy Star appliances and low-flow showerheads. “The inspiration for Upcycle Living came from our desire to create a quality housing project that was sustainable yet affordable, durable and mobile in nature,” says Ashton Wolfswinkel, the co-founder of Upcycle Living.

The goal with eco-friendly housing is to build homes from simple techniques that will not further pollute the environment or prolong the consumption of fossil fuels. We need to desist from our extraction of resources from our Mother Earth and switch to reusable, less pollutant materials that will in the long run save this planet.

Research what natural materials that you can integrate into your home that will decrease your carbon footprint and help make a significant contribution to the environment.

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Living Smart and the Chilean Miners ….Cachai!

Posted on 14 October 2010 by Patricia Gras

This coming Tuesday night a 7pm October 26th I am moderating a town forum on Energy, the environment and the economy: Making it work. I would like for you to participate by calling or writing to us about what you think.  This has been a challenging topic precicely because as a society we will only thrive when we respect balance (Ying and Yang) How do we go about being the energy capital of the world and protecting the environment? Good philosophical question. In the mean time you can read about the Chilean Miners and Living Smart. What can we learn from them? A lot!!!

I am glad to say the Chilean Miners are now above ground with their loved ones.  I was so moved by this ordeal which took around 22 hours to complete, that I felt the need to share with viewers how much I learned from these men, their families and their government. I don’t know if my tears of joy had anything to do with the fact that I was raised in Mendoza which is only an hour away from Santiago in Chile and that I have always felt a certain affection for the Chilean people. The rescue had me glued to the TV and every time a new miner would come out, I felt a sense of relief, joy and panic for the ones who were still underground.

I know many around the planet were watching this rescue and I was glad because finally amidst a horrible political season, an unstable economy, surrounded by so many people who are living in fear and spewing hatred here in the United States,  I was watching something positive, uplifting, joyful, and real.  Perhaps I am tired, like so many Americans about the bad news that we hear almost every day. Republicans and Democrats at each other’s throat over the upcoming elections, drug criminals beheading those they oppose in Mexico, a peace process between Israel and Palestianians that has become a hypocritical play…need I go on!  Here was this event thousands of miles away, that gave us all hope. We were watching  people who lived underground for two months with very little chance of survival, make it out alive and in the process inpire the world. They had actually helped each other, kept each other alive through sheer faith, determination and hope.

Let’s look at what went right for a change. Their families, as soon as they found out they were alive, stayed in makeshift camps with no clean water or electricity. When they were told to leave, they refused. They knew that if they stayed, their loved ones underground would get the media attention they needed  for the government to get them out.  They kept the faith, prayed every day, and believed their loved ones would make it.

The rescue workers who were mostly miners felt a comraderie that motivated them to work tirelessly for their co workers for weeks. They also supported the families and became part of the force that demanded and wanted a resolution from those responsible.

Then there was the government. I don’t doubt that it recognized a great photo opportunity, but let’s face it they did one thing that I have not seen many governments do in the scale they did. That was to ask the whole world for help (what a concept)  and actually listened,  accepted the suggestions and and implented them.! I wish we had done some of that with the BP oil spill.

These men survived what no human has ever had to endure. What happened in that hole was many say, a miracle. Imagine yourself in a tiny room with 33 other stinky men with no where to go, nothing to see but darkness and little or no food for days! But what did they do? They shared, they supported each other, they prayed, they motivated one another. Now let’s see what would happen if we put 16 Democrats, and 16 Republicans and one independent …You get my drift?

These men were in a dark hole, yet they saw the light. They had little, yet they didn’t fight over what they had. They had little chance of survival but kept their faith and hope. Do you know what I learned? We all have that capacity within us. We can choose love over fear,  faith over despair, light over darkness, generosity over greed,  hope over reality (Living Smart.)  Reality was telling them,  you are in a dark hole, hundreds of feet underground, but guess what if you just hold onto that little hope, just focus on the great things you still have, (God, family, children,country) maybe you’ll make it. These men deserved to make it and for a night I think those who watched this became Chilean miners. WE all had it within us. Someone just had to show us how to find it. Thank you miners, thank you Chile and thank God they made it.

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University of Houston professor appointed to the President's National Commission on offshore drilling

University of Houston professor appointed to the President's National Commission on offshore drilling

Posted on 13 October 2010 by Michelle Reed

Photo courtesy of the University of Houston

By Michelle Reed, Production Assistant

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill that occurred after the April 20 explosion of BP’s Macondo well has become much more than a natural disaster, it has become a historical event, and for Tyler Priest, director of Global Studies at the University of Houston and newly appointed senior policy analyst for the President’s National Commission on the oil spill, historical knowledge of offshore drilling might be the key to saving Houston’s energy industry.

“As someone who has long studied the history of oil in South Louisiana and offshore Gulf of Mexico, I feel an obligation to make sense of these events and make sure that we do the right thing as a nation going forward,” Priest said in an e-mail.

In early August, Priest was asked by friend and colleague Jay Hakes, a research director for the commission and the former advisor to the Secretary of Interior Cecil Andrus during the Carter Administration to testify during the commission’s second meeting.

“He invited me to come to Washington to brief the commissioners on aspects of the history of offshore drilling and testify on the history of federal oversight of offshore oil, alongside three former directors of the Minerals Management Service,” Priest said.

Priest’s knowledge of offshore history proved to the commission’s staff that a historian could be beneficial to its reports.

“The research and investigative work conducted by the commission is essentially historical, looking at how technology, federal regulation, and environmental impacts have evolved over time in order to identify what kind of changes need to be made (in) the way we manage offshore oil,” Priest said. “My role is to provide historical background and analysis to commissioners as they develop their recommendations.”

Photo courtesy of Houston is the fourth largest city in the world, and the leading city in energy.

Houston’s energy industry has suffered many drawbacks since the oil spill. One of the drawbacks included the loss of thousands of jobs from the 6 month moratorium placed on offshore drilling by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar in late April.

“A lot of people have been hurt by this disaster and the moratorium on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico that followed,” Priest said.

Despite concerns about offshore drilling in the Gulf, in which Priest says could stem from insecurities felt after the Santa Barbara blowout of 1969 when an estimated 80,000 to 100,000 barrels of crude oil escaped into the channel and onto the beaches in Southern California, the Gulf Coast’s opinion on offshore drilling is different.

“Oil and gas is part of this region’s culture and heritage. Most people here are ready to green light deep-water drilling again,” Priest said.

The Obama Administration has seemed to have recognized that in order for the Gulf to thrive, the moratorium must be lifted. On Tuesday, Salazar announced that the moratorium had been lifted and that in order to promote stronger safety regulations, operators now have to comply with tougher rules. These rules include making operators show that their proposed development and exploration plans can deal with blowouts and undergo detailed inspections, Michael Bromwich the head of the federal agency that oversees offshore drilling said in a CNN article.

“The deep-water drilling suspension was always about keeping the Gulf workers and waters safe from another oil spill, and it has been effective in doing so,” Democratic Rep. Edward Markey of Massachusetts said in the article. “The new rules that the Interior Department has issued will help ensure that if oil companies are going to drill ultra-deep, they are doing so in a manner that is ultra-safe.”

With the improvement on offshore drilling safety, the energy industry needs to work on improving its relationship with a healthier environment in the city of Houston.

“There is quite a lot we can accomplish to reduce our ‘carbon footprint’ simply by using fewer hydrocarbons and using them efficiently,” Priest said. “The transition away from hydrocarbons as our main transportation fuel and key source of power will take a while. But as a nation and global society, we should consider developing all forms of energy especially those forms that are less harmful to the planet.”


Note: The views expressed in this entry do not represent the views of Houston PBS.

Comments (101)

Reflections of the Week

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Reflections of the Week

Posted on 13 October 2010 by Michelle Reed

What I learned this week

A lot of times I get angry only because I don’t have enough information. I make assumptions, I trust people I shouldn’t or I react out of fatigue or fear. I learned that I have to take a step back and truly reflect before I get angry.

We all have a capacity to change and to choose love over fear, hope over despair, generosity over greed. I learned that from the Chilean miners. ~ Patricia Gras

What I am grateful for

Early Voting!

Despite all the negativity I see in the world. I feel hope. ~ Patricia Gras

What have you learned this week? What are you grateful for?? Share your thoughts below!!

Comments (33)

Countdown to the Houston Have Your Say Town Forum

Countdown to the Houston Have Your Say Town Forum

Posted on 04 October 2010 by Michelle Reed

Can’t wait for the Houston Have Your Say Town Forum on October 26 at 7 p.m.? Here are a few interesting articles for you to read during the wait.

Also, come watch episode #130 of Latina Voices this Sunday at 2:30 p.m. The episode features Dr. Richard Tapia, a mathematician and professor in the Department of Computational and Applied Mathematics at Rice University, and his views on Latinos in higher education.

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Reflections of the Week

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Reflections of the Week

Posted on 04 October 2010 by Michelle Reed

What I am grateful for:

I have a family that loves to dance, eat well and party.

What I learned this week:

When I make an important decision. I better be rested.

Comments (3)

Patricia Gras (Twitter)

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