Tag Archives: southeast

Rural AIDS: poverty the cause, solar power part of the solution

Director Lisa Biagiotti spent two years travelling around the South interviewing people about AIDS to make a film, deepsouth. She found rural AIDS is a bigger and faster-growing problem than AIDS in center cities, yet most health and prevention funding goes to urban areas. The root cause seemed clear to her: poverty. Here’s some deeper dirt (literally) on rural poverty in the U.S., and one thing we know can help with that: distributed solar power, for jobs, for reduced electrical bills, and for energy independence. What politician wouldn’t want jobs for their constituents?

The director said the screening at VSU at the end of November drew more people than the day before in Little Rock. There were clearly more than 150 in the audience in Valdosta. It’s a topic very relevant to here, as Dean Poling wrote in the VDT 26 November 2012,

Organizers note that Georgia is ranked sixth highest nationally for its cumulative number of AIDS cases reported through December 2009. More than 40,000 known HIV/AIDS cases were reported in Georgia as of 2010.

The South Health District’s 10 counties, which include Lowndes and surrounding counties, report 950 confirmed cases of HIV/AIDS, while many more are likely infected and risk becoming sick because they are not being treated. More specifically, there are about 460 reported cases in Lowndes County.

In reporting these numbers, HIV is the virus (HIV disease) and AIDS is the medical diagnosis made by a doctor of the symptoms, according to South Health District.

It’s a great movie and I highly recommend it. Director Biagiotti spent a substantial amount of her own money and two years to make this film, yet there are aspects she could only note in passing, such as incarceration. She can’t be expected to have researched every aspect; maybe somebody else can step up and help follow more threads.

The movie starts with some maps about poverty and AIDS in the South. It did not, however, look outside the South for poverty. Here are better poverty maps, from the CDC:

Continue reading

Proposed Solar Plants

OK, let’s look at “solar” in the online interactive map from Joel Achenbach’s story about The 21st Century Grid in the July 2010 National Geographic. It’s easy to count the proposed solar power plants in Georgia: zero. Yet there’s one in Virginia, one in Maryland, and at least three in Florida, adding to the currently largest solar plant in the country near De Soto, Florida. The map legend repeats the GEFA canard that
The Southwest is a solar-power hotbed. To supplement fossil fuel plants, long-distance transmission lines stretch from the Mojave Destert, which has plenty of sun.
Yes, that’s true, but what about this. At least three solar plants are proposed around San Antonio and Austin, which are not in the area of the southwest the map blurb is referring to. In fact, the largest solar plant in the country is proposed for Austin. Austin is one degree of latitude south of Valdosta, and has been leading the country in solar deployment for many years now. Texas in general almost doubled renewable energy generation between 2004 and 2006 while Georgia did nothing. Texas hasn’t stopped. When will Georgia start?

The Austin solar solution doesn’t require massive new power lines, either. It’s mostly been accomplished with solar panels on houses and business roofs; panels that wouldn’t show up on National Geographic’s map because they’re small and distributed. Which is the point: they generate power where it’s needed, and at peak times when it’s needed, namely when it’s hot and sunny out and air conditioners are running on max. There’s no reason Georgia can’t do the same.

I would continue this series by showing wind generation proposed for Georgia, but there isn’t any of that, either. There could be, off the coast.

Which makes more sense: polluting our air with more coal and biomass plants, or getting a move on with solar and wind?


Proposed Biomass Plants

Let’s select “other” in the online interactive map from Joel Achenbach’s story about The 21st Century Grid in the July 2010 National Geographic. This map clearly shows the proposed Wiregrass LLC plant in Valdosta, as well as two plants proposed just to the south for Hamilton County, Florida, and one in Echols County, Georgia, which presumably would be the Oglethorpe Power alternative site. Several of the other plants shown are probably the other proposed Oglethorpe Power plants. Missing is Georgia Power’s Plant Mitchell in Albany, which is supposed to convert from coal to biomass. (Also if you select “nuclear”, the two Georgia Power proposed nuclear plants on the Savannah River are missing.) Apparently National Geographic edoesn’t have a complete list of proposed biomass plants. I wonder who does, if anybody?

Nonetheless, take this map of proposed biomass plants and combine it with the map of proposed new coal plants, plus the existing coal plants in Juliette, Georgia (dirtiest in the country) and Albany, and south Georgia is slated to become even more infested with polluting energy sources.

Does that seem like a good idea to you?

Next: proposed solar plants.


Proposed Coal Plants

In the July 2010 National Geographic, Joel Achenbach writes about The 21st Century Grid. It’s mostly about how we need a smart grid and additional power lines to redistribute power better, but it does get into proposed power plants to generate new power.
Although everyone acknowledges the need for a better, smarter, cleaner grid, the paramount goal of the utility industry continues to be cheap electricity. In the U.S. about half of it comes from burning coal. Coal-powered generators produce a third of the mercury emissions in America, a third of our smog, two-thirds of our sulfur dioxide, and nearly a third of our planet-warming carbon dioxide—around 2.5 billion metric tons a year, by the most recent estimate.
Then it talks about how it’s hard to get stodgy electric utilities to invest in anything else. However, there is at least one way:
A California law requires utilities to generate at least 20 percent of their electricity from renewable sources as of this year.
OK, so what new energy plant are proposed for Georgia? The online interactive map lets you select different energy types. The map above shows four proposed new coal plants in Georgia, surrounding south Georgia (plus something nonrenewable in Florida near Tampa). I recognize the one in far southwest Georgia as the one proposed for Early County and fortunately still tied up in litigation. All four are in addition to the existing Plant Scherer at Juliett, GA, near Macon, the dirtiest coal plant in the country, and the one that generates 2/3 of our power for south Georgia (as well as selling a lot of power to Florida). Adding still more dirty coal plants does not look like progress.

Continued in next blog entry.


Highland Renewable Energy Strategy

Previously writing about biomass and carbon dioxide I said I’d supply an example of the sort of thing I’m looking for as a regional analysis for renewable energy, including biomass, solar, wind, wave, tides, and others. Here it is: the Highland Renewable Energy Strategy approved by the Highland Council at its 4 May 2006 meeting. It’s a 58 page document about renewable energy strategy and planning guidelines, considering numerous types of renewable energy, pros and cons of each, power distribution, effects on environment, protected areas, etc., illustrated copiously with detailed maps. And updated: Continue reading

South Losing Trees

Doyle Rice writes in USA Today about U.S. losing trees faster than other heavily forested nations:
Out of seven of the most heavily forested nations on Earth, the United States experienced a greater percentage of forest loss from 2000 to 2005 than did any of the other countries, a study said Monday.
But what part of the U.S.?
The one part of the contiguous USA that experienced the most forest loss was the Southeast, a large chunk of which lost more than 10% of its forest cover from 2000 to 2005, the year for which the most recent data were available.
Compared to what? Continue reading