The Sierra Club, terrific on national issues like BP, has a Berkeley based local Chapter that seems to have eclipsed our own UC - BP horror story without a peep. UC-BP plans massive Research and Development (R and D) in biofuels here, and they are planning for Berkeley to become the world capitol for this research.
The word biofuel sounds innocent but this biofuel is about GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) research, now renamed "Synthetic" Biology. The September 2009 New Yorker has a lead article on this Synthetic Biology and the article is linked to B D Planet website. Scary stuff it is, and the UC scientists suggest that they might even create a better man!
Nanotech, radiation, and clones, Oh My! …in little environmentalist Berkeley! These UC/Labs scientists, planners, and some local politicians, want to create a biofuel boomtown here in Berkeley, such as the city of Detroit became for the manufacturing of automobiles. Look at Detroit now! A wasteland because of a monocrop economy—boom and bust.
Richard Brenneman wrote about this research in the Daily Planet ( on-line) March 6-8, 2007—“GMO Research Dominates BP-UC Partnership”. The Project is to create biofuels like ethanol made from biomass, or plant matter.
BP gave a half billion dollars to UC for this biofuels research in 2007. The research strategy is to genetically modify algae, plants, and trees to be grown for alcohol fuel production. The scientists and BP get lucrative patents on the GMO's they can use and BP double dips on profits as they can add the alcohol to diesel fuel at about 5-10 %.
The GMO biomass is often grown in plantations in 3rd World countries, having devastating effects including deforestation, destruction of land and the way of life of near Carbon-neutral people, and polluting the water, which can cause dead zones where fish once thrived.
Could UC-BP use the algae blooms in Aquatic Park, or our green plant waste to make biofuels? Sure, but it's too straightforward for scientists and corporations that want to make money and Nobel prizes by ”improving on nature”. However, they are destroying nature on a larger and larger scale, dividing the people, and degrading our only planet.
Our local Sierra Club Chapter has a policy of endorsing incumbents and Machine politician picks since 1984, when our Machine came to power. Our local Sierra Club has become a tool for the Machine which is for big development, and says nothing about the BP research taking over our town. The Mayor’s Plan (Measure R), for doubling Downtown and tripling heights seems to really be about accommodating UC/BP research, office, and housing.
The West Berkeley Plan is about Master Use Permits for huge buildings all along the Bay for UC R and D. And remember UC Labs and BP are notorious polluters.
In the local Sierra Club only a few do the endorsing of those blessed by the Machine. It seems like "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush". The bird in the hand is captured, while the two in the bush are the wild ones most Sierra Club members should prefer because we know "In wildness is the preservation of the earth".
A small controlled like-minded "monocrop" of scientists, politicians, or Sierra Club strategists is bad news for Berkeley and our planet.
Merrilie Mitchell is a candidate for City Council in District 1.