Date sent: 14 Sep 1998 12:05:18 Send reply to: Conference "env.justice"
From: [email protected] Subject: Environmentalists and Y2K -- a grave problem To: Recipients of conference virtual xerox -- sent under "fair use" doctrine to promote calm and reasoned public discussion and response to the looming Year 2000 global computer crash please ask politicians, media institutions, banks, food distribution companies, transportation systems, electric utilities what they plan to do about "Y2K" failures this is far more important than Monica Lewinsky the ability of human society to survive and recover depends both on the extent of catastrophic failures on 01-01-00 and how well communities cooperate to mitigate problems (if we muddle through Y2K, then we can contemplate climate change, nuclear wastes, melting polar ice caps, poisoned water, habitat destruction, and other manifestations of mass extinction -- see www.dieoff.org for information about the end of the petroleum age) read about the "embedded processor" problem at www.euy2k.com daily updates on the Y2K Crisis are at www.year2000.com www.y2knet.com and www.garynorth.com forwarded by Mark Robinowitz * [email protected] www.igc.org/icc370/y2k.htm sent Monday Setember 14, 1998 -- 473 days 12 hours until the new millennium ____________________________________ www.y2ktimebomb.com/Tip/Lord/lord9836.htm September 8, 1998 Westergaard Year 2000 Y2K Tip of the Week #54 Y2K and Environmentalism By Jim Lord Because of its embedded processor aspect, the Year 2000 Computer Crisis poses what is likely the greatest environmental threat in history. Embedded processors control countless industrial processes that produce or use pollutants, poisons, or toxic substances. The facilities in which these processes are common include, * Manufacturing plants * Chemical plants * Pharmaceutical plants * Mines * Oil and gas wells, pipelines and tankers * Oil, gas and ore refineries * Nuclear and fossil fuel power plants * Nuclear waste treatment facilities * Nuclear weapon facilities * Sewage treatment plants * Water treatment facilities * And many others The April 1998 issue of World Oil Magazine says, "It is estimated that the average oil and gas firm, starting today, can expect to remediate less than 30% of the overall potential failure points in the production environment. This reality shifts the focus of the solution away from trying to fix the problem, to planning strategies that would minimize potential damage and mitigate potential safety hazards." This statement implies that: * The oil and gas industry won't finish in time. * There will be environmental damage and personal safety hazards. The cold, clammy realization that we're not going to fix the embedded processor problem is sinking in. No matter how well we do in the United States, much of the world has little chance of fixing the embedded processor component of Y2K. The environmental implications are nothing short of staggering. A critical question - where's the environmental movement. The answer is - nowhere to be found. At this point, they don't have a Y2K clue but that won't last long. Awareness of the Year 2000 Crisis is growing dramatically. Before long, the environmentalists will realize what's happening and when they do, They're going to go stark, raving nuts. They're going to want to shut down everything and here's the great irony - they're probably right. We probably can't take the chance of massive, simultaneous, global failures in environmentally sensitive systems. At a minimum, we need to start testing these facilities by turning the computers ahead to the Year 2000 in a carefully controlled and isolated fashion. When the environmentalists finally get up to speed on Y2K, they will play an immensely important role in the public discourse. Theirs will be one of the loudest voices on the scene. With their potent, international political clout and their superb, global organization, their Luddite tendencies will rise to the surface. [Mark's comment: this was obviously not written by an environmental activist -- few environmental groups asking for anything more substantial than minor tweaking of the destructive status quo have much influence with the political powers-that-be. See Alexander Cockburn and Ken Silverstein's excellent muckracking "Washington Babylon," which contains a wonderful chapter on how big money bought out and neutered the elite of the environmental movement. If the environmentalists had been seriously listened to in the 1960s and 1970s, we'd be in much better shape to cope with Y2K and climate change -- wind power instead of train-loads of coal burned at centralized power stations, more local self-reliant communities, etc.] The drama of this confrontation will be compelling and political leaders all over the world will be trapped in a fascinating corner. Save the world by shutting it down and ruining the global economy. Meanwhile, all those tens of billions of clock chips keep ticking, ticking, ticking. (Just a passing thought - consider poor Al Gore. Both ends of his stick, technology and the environment are about to turn malodorous. It'll be fascinating to watch him as well.) My Tip of the Week is to watch the environmental movement like a hawk. When they become fully engaged in this issue, they will put immense pressure on the politicians and could very well determine the nature of the broad political response to Y2K. Good Luck! Browse the Y2K Tip of the Week Archives for previous editions of this column, and see many more practical Y2K Tips such as these in my book, A Survival Guide for the Year 2000 Problem, a sample of which can be previewed at www.SurviveY2K.com ____________________________________ COMPUTER BUG'S MESSAGE New York Times, August 6, 1998 (Hiroshima Day) letter to the editor It is paradoxical that the arrival of the 21st century, supposedly the information age, poses a threat to the country's computer systems (editorial, Aug. 2). What the millennium bug tells us is that complex technological systems, seemingly so futuristic, are vulnerable to as humble an error as two digits. Perhaps we should think what a similar error might mean in genetically altered organisms and their cloned progeny set loose on the rest of us. It is nature, not technology, that has the flexibility to make our future creative -- unless our over-enthusiasm overwhelms life's great but finite store of resilience. David Keppel Essex, Conn., Aug. 2, 1998 ____________________________________ COMPUTER SHOPPER Originally published in the September 1998 issue >From "The Hard Edge" column Tombstones To Die For Alice likes to rail against the stupidity of the digital world, but she's recently uncovered the first true analog casualty (so to speak) of the year 2000 crisis. It seems that the tombstone industry is facing a disturbing number of headstones carved with an as-yet-unclaimed 19 prefix. Apparently, it's a common practice in the burial industry to sell package deals that include your casket; your plot; and a tombstone precarved with your name, a message, and a blank spot for the date. To save money, people precarve the 19 and leave the rest blank. That way, a relative gets hit only with the cost of carving the month, date, and final two digits of the year. Alice and Bill are always happy to know that the programming world isn't the only sector blind to time. The burial industry is now facing its own minicrisis as it finds itself with a glut of precarved 19xx headstones and a customer base that--sorry to say this--refuses to dearly depart. Of course, Alice finds great irony in the fact that the burial industry didn't understand the passing of time any better than the programming world, but there's something oddly comforting and human in that. Lest we have the last laugh, the solution in the world of headstone carving involves a simple cement-like paste that is added to the incorrect numbers, buffed to a shine, and then recarved. A former cemetery worker Alice spoke with (is that dedication or what?) explained that the cement paste is highly effective and was developed long ago to correct and change headstones for customers who wanted to go with another message or make some sort of change to their original carving request. "As a teen, I worked for a monument engraver, and it wasn't unusual, even in the '70s, to 'repair' gravestones by using a stone/cement mixture for engravement changes, polishing, and then reblasting the lettering onto the grave markers," the former cemetery worker explains. "And yes, it does last 'for years to come'! By the way, we weren't making the boo-boos; most changes were from family members giving us the wrong birth date or name spellings." Of course, in his practical way, Bill sees a darker side to all this. Programmers faced with the impossible deadline, plus surplus 19xx headstones? You do the math. Sounds like a match made in, dare we say, heaven? _________________________________ For further reading: Year 2000: A Complete Guide to the Coming Crisis in Computing By Peter Garrison (best introduction anywhere) www.laweekly.com/ink/archives/98/35lede-072498-garrison.shtml Social psychology of Y2K -- possible scenarios www.tmn.com/y2k Social Chaos or Social Transformation? www.arlinst.org/ www.ciao.gov Critical Infrastructure Assurance Organization (CIAO, as in "goodbye") Clinton's agency for the Y2K breakdown (no joke) _________________________________ For years I labored with the idea of reforming the existing institutions ... Now I feel quite differently. I think you've got to have a reconstruction of the entire society, a revolution of values. -- Martin Luther King, Jr. see www.igc.org/icc370/mlk.htm America is the interplay of 300 million Rube Goldberg devices invented only yesterday. -- Kurt Vonnegut, "Timequake" For me all of this started with the non-violent direct action in defense of nature, which I didn't see as being a ritual at the beginning. But when I think about it now it actually seems to me to be a ritual activity - to go to that place where humankind meets wild nature, that line where nature's being bulldozed and plowed and pushed back, and to stand right on that line, not looking at nature with the eye to conquest but looking back as part of nature saying "No" to this whole thing. That was really the biggest turning point of my life, the first time that I was involved in something like that. -- John Seed www.igc.org/icc370/johnseed.htm At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land, and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, "thus far and no farther." If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, "If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behavior." -- Edward Abbey (spiritual founder of Earth First!)
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