28 November 2008

Buy Nothing Day

http://lauraflanders.firedoglake.com/2008/11/27/the-church-of-stop-shopping/ Reverend Billy and Savitri D of the Church of Stop Shopping on the day after Thanksgiving. It’s known as Black Friday to many but to Rev. Billy and Savitri D, it’s Buy Nothing day. And with an economy in decline the Church of Consumption, where everything was a profit center, has taken a hit. What will replace it? Rev. Billy and Savitri D say that instead of looking to the corporations we can look to ourselves. Support your local economy. Give time not money. Hell, make something. Reverend Billy's Ten Commandments THOU SHALT 1) Forgive people, yourself and everybody else. We all shop too much. 2) Know your Devil. Shoppers are only dancing in the land of ten thousand ads. Consumerism is the system. Corporations are the agents of the system. 3) Respect the micro-gesture. Magicalize the foreground. Fore-go the plastic bag and grab that bare banana– Amen! 4) Practice asking for Sweat-free, Fairly-traded products. That's the rude that's cool. 5) Buy less and give more. Giving is forceful, the beginning of fantastic new economies. 6) Buy local and think global. Love Your Neighbor (buy at independent shops) and Love The Earth (walk to, bike to, mass transit to – the things you need.) 7) Citizens can buy or not buy, produce or not produce. We can change to a sustainable personal economy. Then corporations and governments will change. Envision the history of a product on a shelf. Workers and the earth made that thing. Resisting Consumerism is an act of imagination. 9) Complexify. Don't be so easy to figure out. Consumers tend to regularize. Shopping at big boxes and chains make us all the same. Viva la difference! 10) Respect the heroes of the resistance. A small band of neighborhood-defenders who staved off a super mall with years of protests? Beautiful. It's our turn now.

We Can't Have Our Earth And Eat It Too!

If every fertile woman in the world was limited to one child...and it somehow began tomorrow, our current 6.5 billion human population would drop by 1 billion by the middle of this century. (If we continue as projected, it will reach 9 billion.) At that point, keeping to one-child-per-human-mother, life on Earth for all species would change dramatically. Because of natural attrition, today’s bloated human population bubble would not be reinflated at anything near the former pace. By 2075, we would have reduced our presence by almost half, down to 3.43 billion, and our impact by much more, because so much of what we do is magnified by chain reactions we set off through the ecosystem. By 2100, less that a century from now, we would be at 1.6 billion: back to levels last seen in the 19th century, just before quantum advances in energy, medicine, and food production doubled our numbers and then doubled us again. At the time, those discoveries seemed like miracles. Today, like too much of any good thing, we indulge in more only at our peril. At such far-more-manageable numbers, however, we would have the benefit of all our progress plus the wisdom to keep our presence under control. That wisdom would come partly from losses and extinctions too late to reverse, but also from the growing joy of watching the world daily become more wonderful. The evidence wouldn’t hide in statistics. It would be outside every human’s window, where refreshed air would fill each season with more birdsong. ~Alan Weisman, "The World Without Us"

The Earth is About to Catch a Morbid Fever...

Published on Monday, January 16, 2006 by the Independent http://www.commondreams.org/views06/0116-21.htm by James Lovelock Imagine a young policewoman delighted in the fulfilment of her vocation; then imagine her having to tell a family whose child had strayed that he had been found dead, murdered in a nearby wood. Or think of a young physician newly appointed who has to tell you that the biopsy revealed invasion by an aggressive metastasising tumour. Doctors and the police know that many accept the simple awful truth with dignity but others try in vain to deny it. Whatever the response, the bringers of such bad news rarely become hardened to their task and some dread it. We have relieved judges of the awesome responsibility of passing the death sentence, but at least they had some comfort from its frequent moral justification. Physicians and the police have no escape from their duty. This article is the most difficult I have written and for the same reasons. My Gaia theory sees the Earth behaving as if it were alive, and clearly anything alive can enjoy good health, or suffer disease. Gaia has made me a planetary physician and I take my profession seriously, and now I, too, have to bring bad news. The climate centres around the world, which are the equivalent of the pathology lab of a hospital, have reported the Earth's physical condition, and the climate specialists see it as seriously ill, and soon to pass into a morbid fever that may last as long as 100,000 years. I have to tell you, as members of the Earth's family and an intimate part of it, that you and especially civilization are in grave danger. Our planet has kept itself healthy and fit for life, just like an animal does, for most of the more than three billion years of its existence. It was ill luck that we started polluting at a time when the sun is too hot for comfort. We have given Gaia a fever and soon her condition will worsen to a state like a coma. She has been there before and recovered, but it took more than 100,000 years. We are responsible and will suffer the consequences: as the century progresses, the temperature will rise 8 degrees centigrade in temperate regions and 5 degrees in the tropics. Much of the tropical land mass will become scrub and desert, and will no longer serve for regulation; this adds to the 40 percent of the Earth's surface we have depleted to feed ourselves. Curiously, aerosol pollution of the northern hemisphere reduces global warming by reflecting sunlight back to space. This "global dimming" is transient and could disappear in a few days like the smoke that it is, leaving us fully exposed to the heat of the global greenhouse. We are in a fool's climate, accidentally kept cool by smoke, and before this century is over billions of us will die and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable. By failing to see that the Earth regulates its climate and composition, we have blundered into trying to do it ourselves, acting as if we were in charge. By doing this, we condemn ourselves to the worst form of slavery. If we chose to be the stewards of the Earth, then we are responsible for keeping the atmosphere, the ocean and the land surface right for life. A task we would soon find impossible - and something before we treated Gaia so badly, she had freely done for us. To understand how impossible it is, think about how you would regulate your own temperature or the composition of your blood. Those with failing kidneys know the never-ending daily difficulty of adjusting water, salt and protein intake. The technological fix of dialysis helps, but is no replacement for living healthy kidneys. My new book, "The Revenge of Gaia" expands these thoughts, but you still may ask why science took so long to recognize the true nature of the Earth. I think it is because Darwin's vision was so good and clear that it has taken until now to digest it. In his time, little was known about the chemistry of the atmosphere and oceans, and there would have been little reason for him to wonder if organisms changed their environment as well as adapting to it. Had it been known then that life and the environment are closely coupled, Darwin would have seen that evolution involved not just the organisms, but the whole planetary surface. We might then have looked upon the Earth as if it were alive, and known that we cannot pollute the air or use the Earth's skin - its forest and ocean ecosystems - as a mere source of products to feed ourselves and furnish our homes. We would have felt instinctively that those ecosystems must be left untouched because they were part of the living Earth. So what should we do? First, we have to keep in mind the awesome pace of change and realise how little time is left to act; and then each community and nation must find the best use of the resources they have to sustain civilisation for as long as they can. Civilization is energy-intensive and we cannot turn it off without crashing, so we need the security of a powered descent. On these British Isles, we are used to thinking of all humanity and not just ourselves; environmental change is global, but we have to deal with the consequences here in the UK. Unfortunately our nation is now so urbanized as to be like a large city and we have only a small acreage of agriculture and forestry. We are dependent on the trading world for sustenance; climate change will deny us regular supplies of food and fuel from overseas. We could grow enough to feed ourselves on the diet of the Second World War, but the notion that there is land to spare to grow biofuels, or be the site of wind farms, is ludicrous. We will do our best to survive, but sadly I cannot see the United States or the emerging economies of China and India cutting back in time, and they are the main source of emissions. The worst will happen and survivors will have to adapt to a hell of a climate. Perhaps the saddest thing is that Gaia will lose as much or more than we do. Not only will wildlife and whole ecosystems go extinct, but in human civilization the planet has a precious resource. We are not merely a disease; we are, through our intelligence and communication, the nervous system of the planet. Through us, Gaia has seen herself from space, and begins to know her place in the universe. We should be the heart and mind of the Earth, not its malady. So let us be brave and cease thinking of human needs and rights alone, and see that we have harmed the living Earth and need to make our peace with Gaia. We must do it while we are still strong enough to negotiate, and not a broken rabble led by brutal war lords. Most of all, we should remember that we are a part of it, and it is indeed our home. James Lovelock is an independent environmental scientist and Fellow of the Royal Society. "The Revenge of Gaia," scheduled for release February 2, 2006, is published by Penguin.

11 November 2008

An Open Comment to The Republican Party

I suggest if you wish to become a party of unity rather than division, of hope rather than fear, of action not reaction...quit repeating the myth of Reagan. His was not a small government, balanced budget, working class presidency. He doubled the payroll tax on working americans, busted unions, supported crony-capitalists...made comments like 'trees cause pollution'...quadrupled the nation's debt with 'trickle-down' economics. Bush I continued in his footsteps, adding more government and more debt...Bush II took a budget surplus and ran the country into the ground with debt and trade imbalances. Eisenhower warned of the Military/Industrial Complex...Teddy Roosevelt's progressive policies righted many of the wrongs and injustices of the 'gay 90s'...Abraham Lincoln united a very divided nation... You'd do well to avoid the likes of Sarah Palin...small minds with insular, fearful, religiosity. The James Dobsons, Grover Norquists, Tony Perkins... Conservatives these are not...nor was Reagan or either of the Bushes. Look to Teddy, Abraham, Ike...for our nation's prosperity and unity. By far, the more conservative candidate in this recent presidential election won...and that was Barack Obama... United we stand. We the people. A sense of the commons. Common sense.

10 November 2008

Veterans' Day

We were with our oldest grandson yesterday...he told us he didn't have school today (Monday) and I asked if it was because of Veterans' Day...he said, no...it's a 'deer hunting opening weekend' holiday. I wonder how many young folks (or older folks) understand why Veterans' Day is celebrated on November 11th? 1918, the Armistice had already been decided at 0500 on 11 November, the war was over...although the official time was set for the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month...between the time that the outcome of the war was decided and the actual time came...11,000 troops were killed...and countless others wounded, amongst them a young german corporal: Hitler is recovering from blindness induced by gas attack at the end, he later writes in "Mein Kampf" that it was at this point, that he swore that the dishonor of the German surrender must be "erased, eradicated, and, therefore, I shall devote my life to that." I guess he meant it.

07 November 2008

Why so much hate?

In Minnesota, where I am, there is no shooting allowed for 5 days prior to deer season opener...which is tomorrow morning. As a fact, no rifles are allowed in the woods for 5 days prior to the season. Well...I live in the midst of a state forest on 50 acres...and was walking in the woods this morning...when shots rang out...close... just to my north...echoing through the draw. I made sure my wife was okay back at the house, grabbed my cell phone, some bright clothing and went to the pickup...drove out my driveway and onto the township road. A new SUV pulled out of the forest about 1/4 mile north, drove across the road and into the forest on a trail...I followed, flashing my lights trying to flag them down. They spun out...and took off...a bat out of hell. I followed them to another trail which they turned onto...I knew it to be a dead end. Called the Conservation Officer, rec'd a dispatcher...gave them the license plate number. Was told it was relatives of a neighbor who lives a couple of miles north. Went home. Later in the afternoon I was driving down the road, when they came out of the forest...I followed them...they bypassed their relatives and kept on truckin'...I flashed lights, they pulled over. I recognised them and mentioned the shooting and that it was close to me and illegal. The older fellow ( a nefarious sort) got red as a beet and blew a gasket..."I bet you voted for Obama...you're an Obama lover..." And he continued to rant. His son, "You anti-gunners are all alike"...I told him I'm certainly not an anti-gunner...and even have a permit to carry...(they looked toward my belt)...The son, "Are you threatening us?"...No, but I did call the Conservation Officer and gave them your license number..."Whatever, asshole"...and they drove away. I'm a member of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. I believe in ethical hunting...and a sense of the commons. Common Sense. http://www.backcountryhunters.org/
Click the map to enlarge the image. ***
This is a map of trends...counties which voted more democratic than in 2004. I'm tired of the whole conservative/liberal...right/left diatribes. Bill Clinton closed the deficit and turned it into a surplus...created jobs...got people off of welfare...opened free trade (which needs to be revisited)...and wingnuts call him a liberal. Reagan increased the tax burden on the working class, regressively, by doubling the payroll tax...and then ripped off the system by stealing from the trust fund which was created. Reagan left the nation with 5 times the debt he inherited. Bush I entered into a massive war, using depleted uranium shells and creating an environmental catastrophe, killing thousands upon thousands...in support of a monarchy in Kuwait (which was a breakaway province of Iraq and were 'drinking Iraq's milkshake' by horizontal drilling)...GW Bush, well you all know his legacy...shredding the constitution, increasing the scope and breadth of executive powers and privilege, driving this nation deeply in debt...while handing money over to his cronies, who have shipped jobs overseas...in Halliburton's case even leaving the country and headquartering in Dubai. All three of these men have eased restrictions on water quality, air quality...opened wilderness areas to logging and mining friends...and they are called 'conservatives'?
"The Republicans' problems go beyond leadership races, as Election Day data suggest the party is losing grass-roots support. Republican voter turnout declined 1.3% from 2004, while Democratic turnout grew 2.6%, according to election expert Curtis Gans. The portion of voters calling themselves Republicans dropped to 32% Tuesday from 37% in 2004, according to exit-poll data, while self-identified Democrats grew to 40% from 37%. Mike Franc of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington think tank, said that exit polls also showed 20% of self-identified conservatives voted for President-elect Barack Obama. "Why has it been so hard to communicate the essence of what conservatives stand for?" he said party leaders are asking. Conservative conclaves have been seeking the answer. Thursday, about 20 political strategists and social and fiscal conservative leaders met at the rural Virginia home of conservative activist Brent Bozell to discuss a way forward. The group included Family Research Council President Tony Perkins and Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform. Mr. Bozell told reporters following the meeting that it was the first in a series. "The purpose of these meetings is quite simple: The conservative movement is going to retake America," he said. He added that the focus of their efforts in coming months will be to rebuild the party at the grass-roots level, develop new technologies to reach voters and fund raising."
***
Brent Bozell? Grover Norquist? Cultural warrior Tony Perkins? They are part of the problem, not the solution. If the Republicans wish to remake their image, they would be far better off looking at Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln for inspiration... True conservationist, progressive/forward looking, inclusive thoughts and ideals.

05 November 2008

The Morning After

I slept well last night after watching President-elect Obama's speech...and seeing the reaction to his election all across the world. Dancing in Kenya, an entire Japanese village named Obama cheering, Australians, Europeans, Asians, Africans...and Middle Eastern responses in the affirmative. The dawning of a new day...a generational shift. Pragmatists over idealogues. I've suggested in the past that we need good garbage collectors in office...The Augean Stables are filled with crap left from the current occupant. Can a person unite two rivers of change into one powerful surge, sweeping clear the perceptions and realities left by GW Bush and his neo-con/neo-liberal partners? Yes we can...is what I truly believe. The first 100 days we need to shift gears and get behind to push...get us out of the petroleum ditch and malaise...toward a green economy. That single priority...retooling and rebuilding our infrastructure to prepare for the real 21st century needs and demands...optimistically moving forward... All we've gotten for the 11 trillion dollars in debt that this country is in...(90% from three Republican presidents...Reagan, Bush I and Bush II)...is someone else's hangover...from the party that was charged on our credit card. I wouldn't have minded the debt, if it would have built something, improved our lot, created jobs, and gotten us away from our energy and plastic gluttony. This is a new morning. It is a time to regain a sense of the commons in this country. Oddly enough, if you juxtapose those words you'd get 'common sense'...something we've been sadly lacking. I wish everyone well...I know you're all watching this grand experiment, and our chosen leadership. I, for one, will remain active to keep them all accountable...for the change we can believe in...for the change we sorely need. Peace in all your lives...and on your homesteads.

The River

upstream from white sand beaches are hamlets, paddies and canyons bombshells unexploded, cratered land, cratered faces  mangled extremities...