A rewriting of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, A DECLARATION OF INTERDEPENDENCE is a global-participatory film from the team behind CONNECTED. With music by Moby and directed by Tiffany Shlain, it is an exhilarating montage of user-generated videos and graphics, a global mash-up demonstrating the vast potential of creative collaboration in the 21st century. A DECLARATION OF INTERDEPENDENCE is the first film of a new short film series called Let it Ripple: Mobile Films for Global Change.
Excerpts from Guardian article
“We call on you to stop what you are doing, to stop the destruction, to stop your attack on the spirits of the Earth. When you cut down the trees you assault the spirits of our ancestors. When you dig for minerals you impale the heart of the Earth. And when you pour poisons on the land and into the rivers – chemicals from agriculture and mercury from gold mines – you weaken the spirits, the plants, the animals and the land itself. When you weaken the land like that, it starts to die. If the land dies, if our Earth dies, then none of us will be able to live, and we too will all die.”
“So why do you do this? We can see that it is so that some of you can get a great deal of money. In the Kayapó language we call your money piu caprim, ‘sad leaves’, because it is a dead and useless thing, and it brings only harm and sadness.”
“You have to change the way you live because you are lost, you have lost your way. Where you are going is only the way of destruction and of death. To live you must respect the world, the trees, the plants, the animals, the rivers and even the very earth itself. Because all of these things have spirits, all of these things are spirits, and without the spirits the Earth will die, the rain will stop and the food plants will wither and die too.”
–Raoni Metuktire, chief of the indigenous Brazilian Kayapó people
Read more from The Guardian
By Dennis Rivers (2019 version)
In the face of the runaway industrialization that is now poisoning planet Earth, many people find themselves wrestling with deep issues about both the survival of life and the meaning of life. Confronted with pictures of Chernobyl victims and stories of frogs dying around the world, I find myself searching for ways to combat the downward trend. And one of those ways is by argument. How can I (or we) persuade the powers that be to change course. A few years ago Time magazine featured a cover story on tigers. Tigers are facing extinction in all their natural habitats. One person quoted in the Time story, a man from India, summed up the implications of the tiger survival issue by saying that if we can’t save the tigers from extinction, we probably won’t be able to save ourselves.
Well, as Samuel Johnson once said, “Nothing concentrates the mind like the thought of the gallows in the morning.” So here are some thoughts at the edge of the abyss.
One possible approach to our predicament is to look to nature herself for some hints as to how to extricate ourselves from our current predicament. This is the approach taken by my philosopher friend Ty Cashman in his article, “Nature, Activism and the Middle Way.” I refer to this as the ‘outside’ view, because it attempts to make sense of our situation by backing up and trying to present the big picture about human and ecosystem survival.
One problem that I see with looking to nature in this way, is that in nature everything passes away, without exception. Species come and go. Solar systems come and go. We can try to learn the wisdom of survival by observing organisms and ecosystems, but this view-from-the-outside will not tell us why we should struggle to survive. And since we are creatures of intention and relationship, we need some compelling reasons and goals to get us moving, and we need someone to relate to.
Ty says “It [nature] does need to be protected from the overwhelming human assault on it.” While I find this to be deeply true, this also seems to me to be way too distant a perspective. Viewed from the outside, the Universe (nature) is not in danger. It was here before we got here, features a lot of giant explosions, and will be here after we’re gone. It’s human beings who are in danger of killing themselves off by killing off their sister and brother creatures in a spasm of greed and ignorance. My contention is that the outside view will not move people to save themselves and the Earth, because from the outside view it’s all gonna dry up and blow away anyhow, and/or I probably won’t be around when the bills come due. And there is nothing in nature, viewed from the outside, to suggest that humans are more important or worthy of survival than the trilobites that roamed the ancient seas.
What I’m calling the inside view is the view from inside my own life, from inside of being a person. Now while that might sound a little narrow, don’t write it off. From inside of our own lives we have access to resources that the outside view can’t touch. First of all, I have experienced my own sexuality, my urge to create. As Erik Erikson observes, sexuality is not just the energy to make new life, it is also the energy to build a world in which that life can flourish. So our much-maligned sex drive could actually be a positive force for helping the world, by helping us to feel involved with and connected to the natural world. Identifying more with the children who have come out of our bodies and our lovemaking could stir up powerful energies for nurturing the natural world as the world we give to them.
Closely related to sexuality is one’s sense of beauty. From the outside point of view, whether or not I experience beauty would hardly seem to matter. But if we look more deeply into the subject, we find that pleasure (that primordial form of beauty) has played a large role in the evolution of life. Color in plants and the eyes of insects co-evolved. The fragrance of flowers and the sweetness of fruit evolved to draw animals into a creative partnership with plants. (And those plants are still working on us. Just ask any rose gardener.) The experience of beauty and our yearning for beauty are actually powerful resources for human survival. The slaughter of dolphins is ugly. Chernobyl and the Bhopal chemical plant are ugly! A forest in balance is beautiful. One of the reasons we are in our current predicament is that industrial societies disconnect people’s sense of beauty in order to make them obedient cogs in the great (ugly) machine. Let us honor and encourage people’s capacity for beauty and delight. Such people will work to make the world a more beautiful place.
Finally, there is the issue of relationship. Human beings are literally made to relate. Our most powerful energies come from connecting our lives to the lives of other people and the lives of animals and plants. While religious people might question the above assertions and emphasize relating to God (or the Buddhamind, in the case of Buddhism), a close look at most religions shows that they emphasize a lot of compassionate person-to-person relating. So one powerful reason for working to save the world from ecological catastrophe is that I am here with you. It’s not just me alone contemplating a world gone haywire. (It is interesting to note, in this regard, that it is now an often repeated principle concerning soldiers in war, that they do not fight so much to serve their country as they fight to save their comrades.) All this implies that friendship could play crucial role in the future of eco-politics. We will do with and for one another and for all our children things we might never do for an abstract principle. And perhaps we could associate our abstract ecological principles with the people, such as Rachel Carson and Wangari Maathai, who have embodied them in a particularly radiant way.
Will humans survive? I don’t know. But I imagine that if we do it will be because we mobilized energies inside of ourselves and between us that were sexy, nurturing, delightful and deeply friendly. Lets survive together so that we and our children can experience the beauty of the Earth, and of all Her creatures, and of being fully alive.
Barack Obama greets nine-month-old Josephine Gronniger
(Public Domain photo by Pete Souza)
Dennis Rivers, November 2016
This week I’ve been thinking about the struggles going on to protect water supplies on the Standing Rock Reservation, and about the Alberta tar sands projects only a few hundred miles to the north. For native peoples around the world, the Earth Herself is sacred, and Her waters as well. So poisoning the Earth, or building industrial projects that create an ongoing unknown risk of poisoning the land and water, are not just material or political issues. They are spiritual and religious issues as well. This is not a theoretical risk at all. Large amounts of Dine (Navajo) land and water have been permanently poisoned with radioactive waste from uranium mining, causing a giant spike in cancer rates. And the Alberta Tar Sands photos speak for themselves. So native peoples have little reason to trust the assurances that they, their land, and their water, are not in danger from the white man’s projects.
Reflecting on the corporations willing to endanger someone else’s water supply in order to get rich building oil pipelines, I think it is time that we gave a proper name to the psychological illness that has been haunting us for several centuries: PIDM: profit-induced-destructive-mania. I intend to rally my friends within the counseling profession to have PIDM added to the DSM-5 as a recognized mental illness.
There are many strands of PIDM at work in U.S. culture. The long term effects of tobacco and greasy hamburgers kill hundreds of thousands of people a year, yet most of us prefer to look away from the spectacle of corporations enriching themselves by selling slow death behind smiling advertisements. We accept this as fairly normal, without really working through the implication that some forms of mental illness may be fairly common. The late psychoanalyst Arno Gruen explored this at length in his book, The Insanity of Normality (which I helped to republish after it was withdrawn from publication by its bought-out publisher).
People suffering from PIDM, a syndrome I see as a spiraling disorientation of both thinking and feeling, experience a chronic narrowing of the attention until they no longer recognize the people, animals, plants, oceans, forests and waters essential to their own survival here on Planet Earth, and begin a autism-like repetitive pattern of screaming, “Drill, Baby, Drill!”. PIDM is the economic parallel to Lord Acton’s observation that “power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”, namely, that profits tend to disorient, and enormous profits disorient enormously. The contemplation of giant wins appears to disable people’s normal survival instincts. The same processes of disoriented thought appear to be associated with nuclear power as well, where the hope of generating mind-boggling amounts of cheap electricity causes otherwise sensible people to abandon their critical faculties, leading to catastrophes such as Chernobyl and Fukushima.
Just as anorexics cannot bear to face that fact that they are killing themselves, PIDM sufferers cannot bear to face the fact that they are killing their own planet, and the life-support system for their own children and grandchildren. Because of this self-injury component, some elements of self-hatred and suicidal ideation cannot be ruled out.
PIDM is like a Zika virus of the heart (it causes people’s hearts to get smaller). We need new clinical intervention strategies to reconnect EVERYONE on the planet with their own life energies (approaches such as Joanna Macy’s “Work That Reconnects”) and slow the lethal spread of PIDM and poisoned aquifers.
A review of
The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming
by David Wallace-Wells — Tim Duggan, 310 pp., $27.00
Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?
by Bill McKibben — Henry Holt, 291 pp., $28.00
Climate scientists’ worst-case scenarios back in 2007, the first year the Northwest Passage became navigable without an icebreaker (today, you can book a cruise through it), have all been overtaken by the unforeseen acceleration of events. No one imagined that twelve years later the United Nations would report that we have just twelve years left to avert global catastrophe, which would involve cutting fossil-fuel use nearly by half. Since 2007, the UN now says, we’ve done everything wrong. New coal plants built since the 2015 Paris climate agreement have already doubled the equivalent coal-energy output of Russia and Japan, and 260 more are underway.
Environmental writers today have a twofold problem. First, how to overcome readers’ resistance to ever-worsening truths, especially when climate-change denial has turned into a political credo and a highly profitable industry with its own television network (in this country, at least; state-controlled networks in autocracies elsewhere, such as Cuba, Singapore, Iran, or Russia, amount to the same thing). Second, in view of the breathless pace of new discoveries, publishing can barely keep up. Refined models continually revise earlier predictions of how quickly ice will melt, how fast and high CO2 levels and seas will rise, how much methane will be belched from thawing permafrost, how fiercely storms will blow and fires will burn, how long imperiled species can hang on, and how soon fresh water will run out (even as they try to forecast flooding from excessive rainfall). There’s a real chance that an environmental book will be obsolete by its publication date.
read more (and please support The New York Review of Books) …
How do you feel about the mistreatment of children and infants at the U.S. border?
In the finest constitutional tradition, please join us in expressing citizen concerns to elected representatives. Also, you can use these postcards to share your concerns with your friends, and invite your friends to join the process of remembering the best that is in us, and confronting injustice.
This send-to-friend PDF packet contains templates for printing your own protest postcards and window posters.
Signers of the Invitation
Dennis Rivers, Writer Maia, Poet Vijali, Artist
Santa Barbara, CA Isla Vista, CA Santa Fe, NM
Angela Dawn Parker Rev. John Stoner Kiki Corbin
Community Activist Akron, PA Naturopathic Healer
San Rafael, CA
Rev. John Mabry Jeanne Northsinger David Richo, Psychotherapist
Oakland, CA Mother and Community and Writer, Santa Barbara
Activist, Santa Barbara
Rev. Molly Young Brown
Writer and Ecology Activist
Mount Shasta, CA
Invitation to Participate
These are times that try people’s souls.
An America that kidnaps and mistreats infants and children, no matter where they were born, is not the America I signed up for. And it is probably not the America you signed up for, either. Please print the included postcards and use them to tell your Senators and Representative that America can do better. Also, communicate with as many Senators and Representatives as you possibly can, not just those of your State, and discuss the crisis of government-implemented child abuse with your friends and neighbors.
Image from Democracy Now video
What are WE going to do about this? One problem with living in a democracy is that we are responsible for what the government does on our behalf, and with our tax dollars. How comfortable are you with the U.S. Government mistreating children on your behalf? Really…
Scholars disagree about who might have said (approximately), “All that is needed for the triumph of evil is that good people do nothing.” But whether it was Edmund Burke or John Stuart Mill or somebody else, they are talking to us right now.
We take two painful lessons from history. The first is that tyranny, by slow degrees, implicates everyone as passive accomplices in its cruelties. The second is that whatever is done to the powerless, will eventually be done to everyone. If we allow prison camps for children to grow in America, it may well be our own children and grandchildren who will be the future prisoners.
Beyond sending protest postcards, please visit your representatives in person and insist that they find a better way of sheltering immigrant families. If we can put a bunch of people on the moon, we can certainly put a desperate family in a safe and sheltering space. That’s what we sing about when we sing, “Oh beautiful, for spacious skies…”, our capacity to do the right thing.
As a community activist in Santa Barbara recently said: “They are all our children. No. Wait a minute. That’s not enough! They are all my children.”
Thank you for taking these deep concerns to heart.
France has found a €25 billion solution to the unanswerable question of what to do with its high-level nuclear waste – bury it deep underground.
While nuclear energy has a small carbon footprint, its waste still produces a puzzling problem for the industry. For the moment, it is treated and held in temporary sites but the plan is to store it 500 metres below the Earth’s surface.
Our team from Down to Earth went to the most radioactive waste site in Europe where the spent fuel is waiting to be buried, before visiting the underground tunnels that may be the final resting place for this indestructible toxic trash.
The Pentagon believes using nuclear weapons could “create conditions for decisive results and the restoration of strategic stability”, according to a new nuclear doctrine adopted by the US joint chiefs of staff last week.
The document, entitled Nuclear Operations, was published on 11 June, and was the first such doctrine paper for 14 years. Arms control experts say it marks a shift in US military thinking towards the idea of fighting and winning a nuclear war – which they believe is a highly dangerous mindset.
“Using nuclear weapons could create conditions for decisive results and the restoration of strategic stability,” the joint chiefs’ document says. “Specifically, the use of a nuclear weapon will fundamentally change the scope of a battle and create conditions that affect how commanders will prevail in conflict.”
At the start of a chapter on nuclear planning and targeting, the document quotes a cold war theorist, Herman Kahn, as saying: “My guess is that nuclear weapons will be used sometime in the next hundred years, but that their use is much more likely to be small and limited than widespread and unconstrained.”
Kahn was a controversial figure. He argued that a nuclear war could be “winnable” and is reported to have provided part of the inspiration for Stanley Kubrick’s film Dr Strangelove.
The Nuclear Operations document was taken down from the Pentagon online site after a week, and is now only available through a restricted access electronic library. But before it was withdrawn it was downloaded by Steven Aftergood, who directs the project on government secrecy for the Federation of American Scientists.
Permafrost at outposts in the Canadian Arctic is thawing 70 years earlier than predicted, an expedition has discovered, in the latest sign that the global climate crisis is accelerating even faster than scientists had feared.
A team from the University of Alaska Fairbanks said they were astounded by how quickly a succession of unusually hot summers had destabilised the upper layers of giant subterranean ice blocks that had been frozen solid for millennia.
“What we saw was amazing,” Vladimir Romanovsky, a professor of geophysics at the university, told Reuters. “It’s an indication that the climate is now warmer than at any time in the last 5,000 or more years.“
With governments meeting in Bonn this week to try to ratchet up ambitions in United Nations climate negotiations, the team’s findings, published on 10 June in Geophysical Research Letters, offered a further sign of a growing climate emergency.
The paper was based on data Romanovsky and his colleagues had been analysing since their last expedition to the area in 2016. The team used a modified propeller plane to visit exceptionally remote sites, including an abandoned cold war-era radar base more than 300km from the nearest human settlement.
Diving through a lucky break in the clouds, Romanovsky and his colleagues said they were confronted with a landscape that was unrecognisable from the pristine Arctic terrain they had encountered during initial visits a decade or so earlier.
9/19/2017 — Bloomberg News — The age of batteries is just getting started. In the latest episode of our animated series, Sooner Than You Think, Bloomberg’s Tom Randall does the math on when solar plus batteries might start wiping fossil fuels off the grid.
[Editor’s note: I imagine that this same development will be the end of nuclear power as well.]
This 2007 BBC video was prophetic about coming heat waves. On Thursday 25 July, 2019, twelve years after the video was made, the Cambridge University Botanic Garden registered the highest temperature ever recorded in the UK: 38.7 °C (101.7° F).
A few weeks earlier, France recorded its all-time highest temperature amid a blistering heat wave that baked most of Europe for a week. The temperature rose to 45.1 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) in the southern village of Villevieille, state weather forecaster Meteo France said in a statement (Jun 28, 2019)
A new report from the world’s leading body on climate change says we could see catastrophic global warming by 2030, and climate scientist Michael Mann says their predictions are too conservative
Visit https://therealnews.com for more stories and help support our work by donating at https://therealnews.com/donate
03 March 19
s the bankrupt federal felon Pacific Gas & Electric desperately hiding something very deadly at its Diablo Canyon Power Plant? Will we know by March 7, when the company wants to restart Unit One, which is currently shut for refueling? Will YOU sign our petition asking Governor Gavin Newsom and other officials to inspect that reactor before it can restart?
In 2010, PG&E blew up a neighborhood in San Bruno, killing eight people.
In 2018, it helped burn down much of northern California, killing more than eighty people. The company has now admitted its culpability in starting that infamous Camp Fire and has questioned its own ability to continue to operate.
On February 6, it incinerated five buildings in San Francisco.
The company is bankrupt. It has been convicted of numerous federal felonies. It actually has a probation officer.
But the real terror comes at its Diablo Canyon nuclear reactors, nine miles west of San Luis Obispo on the central California coast.
The reactors are embrittled. They may be cracked. As with the gas pipes in San Bruno and the power poles in northern California, PG&E’s maintenance at these huge reactors has been systematically neglected.
But the company does NOT want the public to inspect them. WHY?
New York Magazine — July 2017
We published “The Uninhabitable Earth” on Sunday night, and the response since has been extraordinary — both in volume (it is already the most-read article in New York Magazine’s history) and in kind. Within hours, the article spawned a fleet of commentary across newspapers, magazines, blogs, and Twitter, much of which came from climate scientists and the journalists who cover them.
Some of this conversation has been about the factual basis for various claims that appear in the article. To address those questions, and to give all readers more context for how the article was reported and what further reading is available, we are publishing here a version of the article filled with research annotations. They include quotations from scientists I spoke with throughout the reporting process; citations to scientific papers, articles, and books I drew from; additional research provided by my colleague Julia Mead; and context surrounding some of the more contested claims. Since the article was published, we have made four corrections and adjustments, which are noted in the annotations (as well as at the end of the original version). They are all minor, and none affects the central project of the story: to apply the best science we have today to the median and high-end “business-as-usual” warming projections produced by the U.N.’s “gold standard” Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
But the debate this article has kicked up is less about specific facts than the article’s overarching conceit. Is it helpful, or journalistically ethical, to explore the worst-case scenarios of climate change, however unlikely they are? How much should a writer contextualize scary possibilities with information about how probable those outcomes are, however speculative those probabilities may be? What are the risks of terrifying or depressing readers so much they disengage from the issue, and what should a journalist make of those risks?
I hope, in the annotations and commentary below, I have added some context. But I also believe very firmly in the set of propositions that animated the project from the start: that the public does not appreciate the scale of climate risk; that this is in part because we have not spent enough time contemplating the scarier half of the distribution curve of possibilities, especially its brutal long tail, or the risks beyond sea-level rise; that there is journalistic and public-interest value in spreading the news from the scientific community, no matter how unnerving it may be; and that, when it comes to the challenge of climate change, public complacency is a far, far bigger problem than widespread fatalism — that many, many more people are not scared enough than are already “too scared.” In fact, I don’t even understand what “too scared” would mean. The science says climate change threatens nearly every aspect of human life on this planet, and that inaction will hasten the problems. In that context, I don’t think it’s a slur to call an article, or its writer, alarmist. I’ll accept that characterization. We should be alarmed.
A forest garden with 500 edible plants could lead to a sustainable future.
Video from National Geographic.
Instead of neat rows of monoculture, forest gardens combine fruit and nut trees, shrubs, herbs, vines and perennial vegetables together in one seemingly wild setting. This type of agroforestry mimics natural ecosystems and uses the space available in a sustainable way. UK-based Martin Crawford is one of the pioneers of forest gardening. Starting out with a flat field in 1994, his land has been transformed into a woodland and serves as an educational resource for others interested in forest gardening. This short film by Thomas Regnault focuses on Crawford’s forest garden, which is abundant, diverse, edible, and might be one answer to the future of food systems.
Book Review by Gene Knudsen Hoffman — Summer 2002
There is a way the world can change from war to peace, from hatred to love. It requires a lot of effort, a lot of understanding, and it begins at home.
For centuries we’ve been told to practice it, that it’s healing for ourselves and the other, that it’s a way to manifest love and courage. It brings peace to the participants. It is a brave and noble thing to do, and — it can be very costly, costly to pride, to arrogance, to fear, to hate.
Michael Henderson has written the definitive book on it and it’s called: Forgiveness. Of it Desmond Tutu wrote, “A deeply moving and eloquent testimony to the power of forgiveness in the life of individuals, of communities, and between and within nations. It effects change — a powerful book.”→ «Michael Henderson’s
Forgiveness: Breaking the Chain of Hate»” class=”more-link”>
Forgiveness: Breaking the Chain of Hate»
The award-winning atmospheric scientist on the urgency of the climate crisis and why people are her biggest hope.
Katharine Hayhoe is an atmospheric scientist and director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University. She has contributed to more than 125 scientific papers and won numerous prizes for her science communication work. In 2018 she was a contributor to the US National Climate Assessment and was awarded the Stephen H Schneider award for outstanding climate science communication.
In 2018, we have seen forest fires in the Arctic circle; record high temperatures in parts of Australia, Africa and the US; floods in India; and devastating droughts in South Africa and Argentina. Is this a turning point?
This year has hit home how climate change loads the dice against us by taking naturally occurring weather events and amplifying them. We now have attribution studies that show how much more likely or stronger extreme weather events have become as a result of human emissions. For example, wildfires in the western US now burn nearly twice the area they would without climate change, and almost 40% more rain fell during Hurricane Harvey than would have otherwise. So we are really feeling the impacts and know how much humanity is responsible.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its 1.5C report in October. A month later, the US federal government’s climate assessment – to which you contributed – came out. How did these two massive studies move our understanding along?
These assessments are important because there is a Schrödinger’s Cat element to studying climate impacts. The act of observing affects the outcome. If people aren’t aware of what is happening, why would anyone change? Assessments like these provide us with a vision of the future if we continue on our current pathway, and by doing so they address the most widespread and dangerous myth that the largest number of us have bought into: not that the science isn’t real, but rather that climate change doesn’t matter to me personally.
Read more at The Guardian
From the Editor, Dennis Rivers:
It feels time for a great awakening of reverence for life. One thing that amazes and terrifies me about the Sixth Mass Extinction now underway is the suicidal element in runaway industrialism: as we kill the living land and sea with our pesticides, herbicides and industrial wastes, we and everyone we love will also die. It seems to me that the blindness of greed can turn into a kind of suicidal mania.
In the face of this madness, I find myself practicing what feels like a new meditation mantra for our time:
“May every heart
be filled with infinite kindness,
including your heart and mine,
and reaching out in widening circles.”
In this and similar practices may we find the strength to change our ways and nurture (rather than destroy) the web of life.
Here is a CNN documentary on the topic:
By Juan Cole — truthdig.com — Sept 9, 2018
Environmental activists protested Saturday in 90 countries and 800 cities across the globe and the United States against inaction on the climate crisis in the runup to a major climate conference in San Francisco. Wednesday’s conference was organized by California Gov. Jerry Brown in the wake of President Trump’s violation of the Paris Climate Accord. The events were organized by 350.org and allies among non-governmental organizations.
Many of the rallies or demonstrations explicitly rejected the president’s high-carbon policies.
Global carbon dioxide emissions have continued to rise since the Paris accord, to 32.5 gigatons last year, though the rate of growth has slowed because of all the wind farms and solar panels people have installed around the world. Humans burning coal, gas and petroleum release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, a potent greenhouse gas that is heating the earth but also having other dire effects.
Free PDF Book from World Bank — 2016
SUMMARY: Ending poverty and stabilizing climate change will be two unprecedented global achievements and two major steps toward sustainable development. But the two objectives cannot be considered in isolation: they need to be jointly tackled through an integrated strategy. This report brings together those two objectives and explores how they can more easily be achieved if considered together. It examines the potential impact of climate change and climate policies on poverty reduction.
It also provides guidance on how to create a “win-win” situation so that climate change policies contribute to poverty reduction and poverty-reduction policies contribute to climate change mitigation and resilience building. The key finding of the report is that climate change represents a significant obstacle to the sustained eradication of poverty, but future impacts on poverty are determined by policy choices: rapid, inclusive, and climate-informed development can prevent most short-term impacts whereas immediate pro-poor, emissions-reduction policies can drastically limit long-term ones.
Article from the US National Academy of Sciences — August 6, 2018
Will Steffen, Johan Rockström, Katherine Richardson, Timothy M. Lenton, Carl Folke, Diana Liverman, Colin P. Summerhayes, Anthony D. Barnosky, Sarah E. Cornell, Michel Crucifix, Jonathan F. Donges, Ingo Fetzer, Steven J. Lade, Marten Scheffer, Ricarda Winkelmann, and Hans Joachim Schellnhuber.
PNAS August 14, 2018 115 (33) 8252-8259; published ahead of print August 6, 2018 https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1810141115
Edited by William C. Clark, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, and approved July 6, 2018.
ABSTRACT — We explore the risk that self-reinforcing feedbacks could push the Earth System toward a planetary threshold that, if crossed, could prevent stabilization of the climate at intermediate temperature rises and cause continued warming on a “Hothouse Earth” pathway even as human emissions are reduced. Crossing the threshold would lead to a much higher global average temperature than any interglacial in the past 1.2 million years and to sea levels significantly higher than at any time in the Holocene. We examine the evidence that such a threshold might exist and where it might be. If the threshold is crossed, the resulting trajectory would likely cause serious disruptions to ecosystems, society, and economies. Collective human action is required to steer the Earth System away from a potential threshold and stabilize it in a habitable interglacial-like state. Such action entails stewardship of the entire Earth System—biosphere, climate, and societies—and could include decarbonization of the global economy, enhancement of biosphere carbon sinks, behavioral changes, technological innovations, new governance arrangements, and transformed social values.
Good overview plus special focus on Permaculture in tropical climates.
Click here to download free PDF — 48MB may take a few minutes to download.
The aim of this book is to offer knowledge and practical techniques for environmental rehabilitation and sustainability, strengthening community resilience and local economies. The contents of the book are based on concepts of deep ecology, the interconnectedness of our environment and culture, and the principles and ethics of sustainable community development.
Combining traditional techniques for providing natural resources, food, shelter, and energy with modern sustainable practices, the techniques outlined in this book provide integrated, practical solutions for challenges being faced by community members and farmers throughout Indonesia today.
This Resource Book for Permaculture has been developed using simple language and many detailed illustrations to ensure that the information contained is accessible to all those interested.
This book is made available by kind permissions of the IDEP Foundation.
By Lachlan McKenzie with Ego Lemos.
In the small town of Riverton at the bottom of New Zealand’s South Island is Robert and Robyn Guyton’s amazing 23-year-old food forest. The 2-acre property has been transformed from a neglected piece of land into a thriving ecosystem of native and exotic trees where birds and insects live in abundance. Robert and Robyn are a huge inspiration to us, not only for their beautiful approach to healing the land and saving heritage trees and seeds, but for the way they’ve impacted on their local community.
They’ve operated an environment centre in their town for over 20 years, where the community comes together to learn and discuss, buy produce and sit by the warm fire over a cuppa. We’ve even heard of folk who’ve up and moved to Riverton because they’re so inspired by the Guytons!
Support Happen Films: https://patreon.com/happenfilms
March 31, 2017, by Kieran Cooke
from Climate News Network
A new book suggests that, as a result of our actions,
we are contemplating our own extinction.
Image: Alessandro Pautasso via Flickr
Human mistreatment of the planet is ushering in another era and it is not going to be pleasant, according to Clive Hamilton’s latest book.
LONDON, 31 March, 2017 – Clive Hamilton’s book Defiant Earth – the fate of humans in the Anthropocene is not for the faint-hearted. Basically, its thesis is that the Earth – and us along with it – is going down the tubes.
Our rampant, irrational use of the planet and its resources, including our exploitation of climate-changing fossil fuels, means we are interfering and upsetting the functioning of the Earth system that sustains us.
“This bizarre situation, in which we have become potent enough to change the course of the Earth yet seem unable to regulate ourselves contradicts every modern belief about the kind of creature a human being is,” says Clive Hamilton, professor of public ethics at Charles Sturt University in Australia.
read rest of article on Climate Change News Network…
Article by David Korten in Tikkun Magazine — January 2018
Read article in PDF format…
During the past century, we humans have become a truly global species with both the ability and the imperative to choose our common future by conscious collective choice. Growth in our numbers and the destructive power of our economic and military weapons of mass destruction creates the necessity. Advances in communication technology that link us into a seamless web of global communications and in biological and ecological sciences that deepen our understanding of what life is and how it organizes give us the means.
A Species in Terminal Crisis
The unfolding collapse of three critical systems puts our common future at serious risk.
- Environmental Systems. Lead indicators include climate change, loss of fertile soil, diminishing supplies of clean freshwater, disappearing forests, and collapsing fisheries. All are a result of an increasing human burden that human numbers and consumption place on a finite planet. Per the Global Footprint Network, we humans are consuming globally at a rate 1.6 times what Earth can sustain. Everything above 1.0 comes at the cost of diminishing Earth’s ability to sustain life and in turn drives a violent competition for what remains and a growing flow of desperate refugees.
- Social Systems. In 2010, the combined wealth of the world’s richest 388 billionaires equaled the combined wealth of the poorest half of humanity—3.5 billion people. Now, just 7 years later, it takes the combined wealth of only the 8 richest billionaires to equal the combined wealth of the world’s poorest 3.6 billion people. The combination of extreme inequality and environmental displacement undermines human well-being, institutional legitimacy, and the social fabric of families and communities. The violence driving massive numbers of refugees from the Middle East is a direct consequence.
- Governance Systems. The legitimacy of political and economic institutions that demonstrate their inability to address the above environmental and social crises is disintegrating. This gives rise to political demagogues who exploit the resulting fear and uncertainty.
These three system failures are interlinked, self-imposed, and threaten our species viability. All are a direct consequence of a takeover of our access to the essential means of living by global corporations that value life only for its market price, promote the idolatry of money, and sponsor those politicians who equate the corporate interest with the human interest. Awareness that something is going badly wrong is sweeping global society, but with limited understanding of the nature of and reasons for the cultural and institutional system failure now playing out. Lacking such understanding, we look for solutions that tinker at the margins of a failed system grounded in false assumptions and values in the hope of making it slightly less destructive.
Our hope for a viable human future depends on a deep system transformation supportive of an Ecological Civilization that brings people and planet into balance, nurtures innovation and creative expression, and provides all people an opportunity for material sufficiency and spiritual abundance.
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April 5th, 2017
Brooke Havlik, WE ACT for Environmental Justice, 212-961-1000 ext. 320, email@example.com
New York, NY — As President Trump moves to shrink federal budgets at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and altogether eliminate EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice, New York City Council voted today to protect low-income New Yorkers and communities of color, who bear the disproportionate burden of environmental injustices, such as air pollution and its associated health problems. The council passed two bills, The Environmental Justice Study Bill (Intro 359) and The Environmental Justice Policy Bill (Intro 886A), which will provide the city and all New Yorkers more information to identify and address these injustices.
The Environmental Justice Study Bill (Intro 359) will amend the city’s administrative code to require that a citywide study of potential environmental justice communities be conducted. The results of this study will be made available to the public and placed on the city’s website. The Environmental Justice Policy Bill (Intro 886A) amends the city’s administrative code to require city agencies to develop plans to address environmental injustices in communities of color and low-income communities. The plans must be in consultation with these communities, and establishes and environmental justice advisory body, comprised of EJ advocates, to work with the city on identifying and addressing environmental injustices.
WE ACT for Environmental Justice’s Deputy Director, Cecil Corbin-Mark said, “The New York City Council just sent a big message to our city and the entire country—environmental injustice is real and it matters. These bills will provide NYC a comprehensive legislative strategy to address environmental injustices throughout the city of New York, and will serve as a model for other cities in a Trump era, when we know local action will have a huge impact on community health and reducing health disparities. We especially want to send our gratitude to Speaker Mark-Viverito, Council Member Barron, Council Member Constantinides, Samara Swanston, Counsel to the Environmental Protection Committee, and Indigo Washington, Legislative Director to Council Member Inez Barron for all their hard work and support on making these two groundbreaking bills happen.”
Council Member Costa Constantinides of Queens Council District 22 and primary sponsor of Intro 359 said, “As the recent executive order on climate shows, the Trump administration will choose fossil fuels over our public health and safety. It’s up to cities to make combating climate change and reducing pollution a top priority. By voting on this legislative package, we show that New York is leading the way. We are the first city in the nation to pass any piece of environmental justice legislation since the Trump inauguration and the only city in the nation to pass environmental justice legislation this comprehensive. For far too long, environmental justice communities have had more sources of pollution and fewer environmental amenities in their neighborhoods, leading to adverse health effects. This legislation will work to make our city services more equally and fairly distributed. I thank Speaker Mark-Viverito for her support and my colleague Council Member Barron for her partnership.”
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CSA (Citizen Science Association) is excited to once again partner with SciStarter to present Citizen Science Day 2017!
This month-long series of regional events is a chance to celebrate and bring attention to the ways that everyone can engage with science to make a difference in the world – whether that is helping find a cure for disease, using data to address sources of air pollution, or making discoveries of new phenomena in our backyards or in space. #CitSciDay activities will commence on Saturday, April 15th and will continue into May. Celebrations will culminate with activities held at the Citizen Science Association Conference, including a May 17th Hackathon at the University of Minnesota, a Friday night Science Cafe style event (featuring screenings from The Crowd and The Cloud) for presenters and the public, and a family-friendly Science Festival at the Science Museum of Minnesota on Saturday, May 20th.
We invite citizen scientists and project leaders from around the world to celebrate citizen science during this time. Events during 2016 celebrations included BioBlitzes in National Parks and community green spaces, transcription challenges at local libraries, citizen science hikes, science festivals, workshops, and more! Even if there isn’t a local event planned in your community, you can participate in one of SciStarter’s thousands of citizen science projects on topics ranging from Astronomy to Zoology.
[Editor: Find an event or post an event at the “SciStarter Events Calendar” here.]
SAN FRANCISCO and CHICAGO (March 30, 2017) — President Donald Trump’s actions this week to reverse the steady progress being made in confronting the challenge of climate change are not only alarming and dangerous; these actions are immoral.
“Religious and spiritual communities and people of conscience across the earth must commit themselves to work together to stand against the President’s irresponsible and unethical actions…actions that threaten human beings everywhere, that endanger living beings across the globe, that put the earth at peril,” argues Dr. Larry Greenfield, Executive Director of the Parliament of the World’s Religions.
Interfaith Power & Light and The Parliament of the World’s Religions have joined together to express deep concern over the Trump Administration’s deceptively-titled Executive Order on “Energy Independence and Economic Growth,” and join with people of faith and conscience within the United States and across the world to protest the President’s actions.
Based on a flawed understanding of both economics and science, the President’s action compromises Americans’ health and safety, damages our economy in both the short and long term, and undermines our children’s future wellbeing and security.
The Executive Order blatantly and callously plays on real fears and economic pain while it puts the benefit of a few of the richest Americans ahead of the needs and rights of the vast majority and offers no real solutions or help to those in economic distress. Its purported “benefits” are ephemeral, exaggerated or nonexistent.
→ «Interfaith Organizations Protest the President’s Executive Order on Coal and Environmental Rollbacks»" class="more-link">
By Juliet Eilperin, Chris Mooney and Steven Mufson — March 31, 2017 — Washington Post
The Environmental Protection Agency has issued a new, more detailed plan for laying off 25 percent of its employees and scrapping 56 programs including pesticide safety, water runoff control, and environmental cooperation with Mexico and Canada under the North American Free Trade Agreement.
At a time when the agency is considering a controversial rollback in fuel efficiency standards adopted under President Obama, the plan would cut by more than half the number of people in EPA’s division for testing the accuracy of fuel efficiency claims by automakers.
It would transfer funding for the program to fees paid by the automakers themselves.
The spending plan, obtained by The Washington Post, offers the most detailed vision to date of how the 31 percent budget cut to the EPA ordered up by President Trump’s Office of Management and Budget would diminish the agency.
The March 21 plan calls for even deeper reductions in staffing than earlier drafts. It maintains funding given to states to administer waste treatment and drinking water. But as a result, the budget for the rest of EPA is slashed 43 percent.
By Victoria Herrmann — March 28, 2017 — from www.theguardian.com
As an Arctic researcher, I’m used to gaps in data. Just over 1% of US Arctic waters have been surveyed to modern standards. In truth, some of the maps we use today haven’t been updated since the second world war. Navigating uncharted waters can prove difficult, but it comes with the territory of working in such a remote part of the world.
Over the past two months though, I’ve been navigating a different type of uncharted territory: the deleting of what little data we have by the Trump administration.
At first, the distress flare of lost data came as a surge of defunct links on 21 January. The US National Strategy for the Arctic, the Implementation Plan for the Strategy, and the report on our progress all gone within a matter of minutes. As I watched more and more links turned red, I frantically combed the internet for archived versions of our country’s most important polar policies.
I had no idea then that this disappearing act had just begun.
Since January, the surge has transformed into a slow, incessant march of deleting datasets, webpages and policies about the Arctic. I now come to expect a weekly email request to replace invalid citations, hoping that someone had the foresight to download statistics about Arctic permafrost thaw or renewable energy in advance of the purge.
By John D. Sutter – CNN.com – Updated 8:53 AM ET, Tue February 28, 2017
Climate change may seem like a complicated issue, but it’s actually simple if you understand five key facts, according to Edward Maibach, director of the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University.
They are: 1. It’s real. 2. It’s us. 3. Scientists agree. 4. It’s bad. And: 5. There’s hope.
Yet, far too few Americans get it.
That became more painfully apparent to me this week when Yale University researchers released data and maps that detail American attitudes on climate change. The data, which are based on surveys and modeling by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, do show there is broad agreement in the American public on the solutions needed to fight climate change and usher in the clean-energy era. The most striking example: majorities of people in every single congressional district support setting strict limits on carbon dioxide pollution from existing coal-fired power plants, according to the research. And this despite the fact that many Republicans and US President Donald Trump say they want to ax an Obama-era regulation — the Clean Power Plan — that aims to do just that.
Still, there remain big pockets of climate confusion — perhaps denial — across the country, especially when it comes to climate science. Narrowing this info gap is particularly critical now since President Trump has denied the science of climate change and has promised to enact policies that can be expected to dirty the air and intensify warming.
To that end, here is a geographic look at five key climate facts.
Cat Johnson – Christian Science Monitor.com – January 30, 2017
Cool Block is an initiative that helps neighbors connect with each other, share resources, and collaborate on climate and disaster resilience projects.
In her 30 years of working in the sustainability sector, Sandra Slater has learned quite a bit about human behavior, including the idea that just giving people information doesn’t inspire a change in behavior.
“If you just go in and say, ‘Let’s lower your carbon footprint,’ it’s a nonstarter,” Slater says. “You have to go in with other motivators.” She says people are looking for social connection, meaning, purpose, safety, and efficacy.
Slater is the Northern California director of the Cool City Challenge. It’s a program of the Empowerment Institute, a consulting and training organization that aims to reduce the carbon footprint of cities. The group also runs Cool Block, an initiative that helps neighbors connect with each other, share resources, and collaborate on climate and disaster resilience projects.
A Cool Block project starts with the simple act of someone reaching out to his or her neighbors.
“We say this is the most radical intervention ever designed – knocking on your neighbor’s door,” says Slater, explaining that in most cases, people are glad they’ve been asked to participate.
BY EMILY ATKIN — March 9, 2017 — New Republic
As many conservatives see it, environmental science is an enabler of dreaded government regulation. When enough studies show that there is no safe level of lead in water, then we have to regulate lead pollution. When scientists agree that mercury pollution can effect developmental health, then we have to regulate mercury. And when scientists agree that excessive carbon emissions threaten public health and welfare—well, you get the point.
An obvious solution, for those seeking to avoid such regulation, would be to prevent that science from seeing the light of day. That’s exactly what Lamar Smith, a Republican congressman from Texas, is trying to do. On Thursday, the House Science Committee passed two of Smith’s bills: The Honest and Open New EPA Science Treatment Act (HONEST Act) and the Science Advisory Board (SAB) Reform Act. Combined, they would significantly change how the Environmental Protection Agency uses science to create rules that protect human health.
The HONEST Act is essentially a re-brand of Smith’s notorious Secret Science Reform Act, a bill that would have required the EPA to only use scientific studies for which all data is publicly available and the results are easily reproducible. The SAB Reform Act would change the makeup of the board that reviews the “quality and relevance” of the science that EPA uses: Scientists who receive EPA grants would be forbidden from serving, while allowing the appointment of industry-sponsored experts who have a direct interest in being regulated—so long as they disclose that interest.
When President Donald Trump took office in late January, his administration began tweaking the language on government websites. Some of the more prominent changes occurred on Environmental Protection Agency pages—a mention of human-caused climate change was deleted, as was a description of international climate talks. The shifts were small, but meaningful; many said they signaled a new era for the EPA, one in which the agency would shy away from directly linking carbon emissions to global warming and strive to push Trump’s “America First” message.
Those initial tweaks were documented by the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative, a group of scientists and academics who spend their free time tracking changes to about 25,000 federal government webpages. On Tuesday, they shared their latest finding with the New Republic: The EPA’s Office of Science and Technology Policy no longer lists “science” in the paragraph describing what it does.
“This is probably the most important thing we’ve found so far,” said Gretchen Gehrke, who works on EDGI’s website tracking team. “The language changes here are not nuanced—they have really important regulatory implications.”
The EPA’s Office of Science and Technology has historically been in charge of developing clean water standards for states. Before January 30 of this year, the website said those standards were “science-based,” meaning they were based on what peer-reviewed science recommended as safe levels of pollutants for drinking, swimming, or fishing. Since January 30, though, the reference to “science-based” standards has disappeared. Now, the office, instead, says it develops “economically and technologically achievable standards” to address water pollution.
“It is, in the deepest sense, a privilege as well as a duty to have the opportunity to speak out — to many thousands of people — on something so important.”
“Life and Reality are not things you can have for yourself unless you accord them to all others,” philosopher Alan Watts wrote in the 1950s as he contemplated the interconnected nature of the universe. What we may now see as an elemental truth of existence was then a notion both foreign and frightening to the Western mind. But it was a scientist, not a philosopher, who levered this monumental shift in consciousness: Rachel Carson (May 27, 1907–April 14, 1964), a Copernicus of biology who ejected the human animal from its hubristic place at the center of Earth’s ecological cosmos and recast it as one of myriad organisms, all worthy of wonder, all imbued with life and reality. Her lyrical writing rendered her not a mere translator of the natural world, but an alchemist transmuting the steel of science into the gold of wonder. The message of her iconic Silent Spring (public library) rippled across public policy and the population imagination — it led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, inspired generations of activists, and led Joni Mitchell to write a lyric as timeless as “I don’t care about spots on my apples / Leave me the birds and the bees / Please!”
A woman scientist without a Ph.D. or an academic affiliation became the most powerful voice of resistance against ruinous public policy mitigated by the self-interest of government and industry, against the hauteur and short-sightedness threatening to destroy this precious pale blue dot which we, along with countless other animals, call home.
Carson had grown up in a picturesque but impoverished village in Pennsylvania. It was there, amid a tumultuous family environment, that she fell in love with nature and grew particularly enchanted with birds. A voracious reader and gifted writer from a young age, she became a published author at the age of ten, when a story of hers appeared in a children’s literary magazine. She entered the Pennsylvania College for Women with the intention of becoming a writer, but a zestful zoology professor — herself a rare specimen as a female scientist in that era — rendered young Carson besotted with biology. A scholarship allowed her to pursue a Master’s degree in zoology and genetics at Johns Hopkins University, but when her already impecunious family fell on hard times during the Great Depression, she was forced to leave the university in search of a full-time paying job before completing her doctorate.
By JIM DWYER FEB. 28, 2017 – New York Times
The view to the south from the Empire State Building on Nov. 24, 1966, one of New York’s worst smog days. Credit Neal Boenzi/The New York Times
Once upon a time, you could touch the air in New York. It was that filthy. No sensible person would put a toe in most of the waterways.
In 1964, Albert Butzel moved to New York City, which then had the worst air pollution among big cities in the United States.
“I not only saw the pollution, I wiped it off my windowsills,” Mr. Butzel, 78, an environmental lawyer, said. “You’d look at the horizon and it would be yellowish. It was business as normal.”
The dawning of environmental consciousness in the United States during the 1960s led to a national commitment to clean air and water with the creation, in 1970, of the Environmental Protection Agency. It came not a moment too soon for New York City, not to mention the nation.
Today, the future and mission of the E.P.A. are in doubt as President Trump is reported to be calling for the agency’s budget to be cut by 24 percent, a reduction of more than $2 billion. Mr. Trump has also instructed the agency to undo certain regulations protecting waterways. He is expected to issue an order reversing rules to curb planet-warming gases from coal-fired power plants.
It’s worth reflecting that New York City before the E.P.A. and the movement it represented would be almost unrecognizable in 2017.
In the 1960s, my playmates and I stopped everything when it began “snowing” ash from incinerated garbage. We chased tiny scraps of partly burned paper that floated in the air as if they were blackened snowflakes. According to a study published in 2001, the quantities of lead in the sediments of the Central Park Lake correlated strongly with the vast quantities of particles emitted from garbage burned in Manhattan during the 20th century. The study found 32 garbage incinerators that were operated by the city, and 17,000 others in apartment houses.
California can require Monsanto to label its popular weed-killer Roundup as a possible cancer threat despite an insistence from the chemical giant that it poses no risk to people, a judge tentatively ruled Friday.
California would be the first state to order such labeling if it carries out the proposal.
Monsanto had sued the nation’s leading agricultural state, saying California officials illegally based their decision for carrying the warnings on an international health organization based in France.
Monsanto attorney Trenton Norris argued in court Friday that the labels would have immediate financial consequences for the company. He said many consumers would see the labels and stop buying Roundup.
“It will absolutely be used in ways that will harm Monsanto,” he said.
After the hearing, the firm said in a statement that it will challenge the tentative ruling.
Critics take issue with Roundup’s main ingredient, glyphosate, which has no color or smell. Monsanto introduced it in 1974 as an effective way of killing weeds while leaving crops and plants intact.
In his Tuesday night speech, President Donald Trump made reference, as he often does, to regulations that have killed American jobs.
This is an oft-used argument on the right — so common, in fact, that it is now taken as a kind of foundational truth, one that is simply self-evident, requiring no evidentiary support. It is one of the conservative economic catechisms (taxes slow growth, rich people create jobs, regulation kills jobs) that’s been repeated so frequently that even mainstream reporters tend to simply assume their truth.
But, at least in the case of the environmental regulations Trump is specifically attacking, it isn’t true. There is no consistent evidence that environmental regulations cause long-term changes in overall employment.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Citizen suits come in three forms.
First, a private citizen can bring a lawsuit against a citizen, corporation, or government body for engaging in conduct prohibited by the statute. For example, a citizen can sue a corporation under the Clean Water Act (CWA) for illegally polluting a waterway.
Second, a private citizen can bring a lawsuit against a government body for failing to perform a non-discretionary duty. For example, a private citizen could sue the Environmental Protection Agency for failing to promulgate regulations that the CWA required it to promulgate.
In a third, less common form, citizens may sue for an injunction to abate a potential imminent and substantial endangerment involving generation, disposal or handling of waste, regardless of whether or not the defendant’s conduct violates a statutory prohibition. This third type of citizen suit is analogous to the common law tort of public nuisance. In general, the law entitles plaintiffs who bring successful citizen suits to recover reasonable attorney fees and other litigation costs.
Dennis Rivers — September 11, 2004 article in the Santa Barbara Independent newspaper
A few months after 9/11, a group of Tibetan Buddhist monks visited La Casa de Maria Retreat Center, near Santa Barbara, and I went to meet them. At the time, still reeling from the emotional impact of the 9/11 attacks, I found myself feeling somewhat at odds with these maroon-robed visitors. The monks seemed to me to be living in their little cocoon of Buddhist spirituality. I wanted them to respond more visibly to the tragic history that was unfolding on the stage of the world. I asked one monk (who happened to be from England) what he thought of the events of 9/11. He very quickly and assuredly said “There are no accidents in life. Every effect has its cause.” And that was it. Case closed. This, I thought, was the most wooden answer any human being could have given to my question. Had he no heart, this fellow so sure of himself, so sure of his doctrine? He seemed to be implying that the 9/11 victims has somehow caused their own suffering. In a very un-Buddhist mood, I wanted to shake him, to tell him to wake up and respond to the suffering of people in the real world. Several years have gone by, and I have had plenty of time to sort out my angry reaction to this monk. And to see that there was a deep truth in his response, although perhaps not the one that he intended at that particular moment. I am not sure that at the individual level of one human being, that every single effect has an individual cause. As with molecules, there seems to be a lot of random chaos at the individual level; “Brownian motion,” they call it. And, in relation to people, all teachings of morality and personal responsibility imply that our every action is not mechanically determined by what happened before it. There is room for both effort and accidents. At the group level however, how events get caused seems much more bound by the law of karma. Individual molecules may randomly jump around a lot but at the group level, every effect has a definite set of causes. Water, all those molecules put together, boils because you put the pot over the flame. It is not an accident. And in relation to 9/11, we are now slowly realizing that this tragedy was not a random event, not a bizarre aberration. For the past half-century the United States has been following policies in the Muslim world that seem to me to almost guarantee an explosion sooner or later. While very few, if any, of the individuals in the World Trade Center on 9/11 had anything to do with the formulation of those policies, they were like molecules of water in the pot put on the stove, as are we all. This leads to one of the most painful paradoxes of our time. No one deserves to die such a fiery death as the 9/11 victims; and on the other hand, none of us can completely insulate ourselves from the consequences of the actions taken in our name. It is now widely recognized that the United States has grievously antagonized and agitated the Muslim world, especially in the following six ways:
- In the 1950s we overthrew the elected government of Iran and supported the return of the Shah, whom the Iranians did not want back. The Shah ruled with an iron hand, and the Iranians have not forgotten who gave him to them.
- For the sake of commercial gain, political advantage, and cheap oil, we have accepted and supported military dictatorships in countries throughout the Muslim world, from Nigeria to Indonesia, all the while preaching democracy and respect for human rights. When Saddam Hussein (who stayed in power with U.S. help) gassed his own people in the 1980s, we did not protest, because at that moment it was politically inconvenient for us to do so.
- In the 1980s we poured billions of dollars in arms and support into Muslim hate groups in Pakistan, to support an armed campaign against the Soviets in Afghanistan (we called them “freedom fighters,” at the time). Afghanistan was ground to pieces between the armed might of the Soviet Union, and the armed might of our CIA-backed legions. One scholar has noted that there had never been a global Muslim jihad movement until the CIA funded one.
- While various U.S. administrations have tried to play a mediating role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we do not seem to have any real principles that we will stick to. We also continue to give and lend billions of dollars in military aid to Israel, encouraging the military-might-is-the-only-answer wing of Israeli politics, alienating Muslims around the world and cutting the ground out from under our role as mediators.
- For most of the past century the United States has been the largest arms exporter in the world. We invent and sell various instruments of death to everyone who will buy and look the other way as they kill one another. Although the United States is the most influential country in the world, we exert no moderating influence on the arms trade. Thus, governments around the world, including those of Muslim countries, spend money on arms instead of on the real needs of their peoples, breeding poverty, corruption and resentment.
- We also export an endless stream of violent movies and TV shows, showing people just how to use those guns, bombs, missiles, bazookas, and God knows what else, to solve every problem. Our strong tradition of moment-to-moment freedom of expression makes it almost impossible for us to think about the long term consequences when free expression glorifies people killing each other. At the risk of offending just about everybody, I must confess how deeply convinced I am that the “Terminator” movies, and their blood-drenched ilk, are the theory, and 9/11 is the practice. Do we really want to teach people around the world that killing is fun? How many more Columbines and 9/11’s will it take to get us to look at the shadow side of our own freedom?
- The sorrow of 9/11 is, at the deepest level, of our own making.
- We can live differently, in relation to the world, and set different forces in motion.
Dennis Rivers is a writer/teacher/peace activist who lives in Santa Barbara, teaches communication skills at the Community Counseling Center, and edits several large public service web sites (including coopcomm.org, nonukes.org, and turntowardlife.org). He received his MA in interpersonal communication and human development from the Vermont College Graduate Program, after studying sociology and religious studies at UC Santa Barbara, and theology at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. His books include The Geometry of Dialogue, The Seven Challenges Workbook, Prayer Evolving, and, most recently, Turning Toward Life., an exploration of reverence for life as a spiritual path. The full text of all of Dennis’s books can found on the web by searching on Google for Dennis Rivers plus the full title of the book.
By: Oliver Milman — From: www.TheGuardian.com — March 3, 2017
Planned cuts at the Environmental Protection Agency are set to fall heaviest upon communities of color across the US that already suffer disproportionately from toxic pollution, green groups have warned.
Donald Trump’s administration is proposing a 25% reduction in the EPA’s $8.1bn budget, eliminating nearly 3,000 jobs and several programs including the agency’s environmental justice office. Funding for the cleanup of lead, marine pollution, tribal lands and the Great Lakes region faces severe cuts, while climate initiatives are earmarked for a 70% budget reduction.
The environmental justice office is tasked with bridging the yawning disparity in pollution experienced by black, Hispanic and low-income communities and wealthier white neighborhoods. It provides grants to communities to mop up toxins and rehabilitate abandoned industrial facilities that are invariably found in poorer areas.
In the final months of Barack Obama’s administration, the EPA unveiled a new effort to tackle lead poisoning, air pollution and other problems suffered by communities of color situated next to waste treatment plants, smelters and other sources of toxins. But this plan will be cut down in its infancy should the environmental justice office be dismantled.
I, your editor, was on a conference call with the NRDC this afternoon, March 3, 2017. It was very informative. They are doing amazing front-lines litigation for the natural world (and I include humans in the natural world).
They are putting together “talking points” for the public to help tell the story of why the EPA is important. It will include this fact: the EPA spends in 1.5 years what the military spends in 1 day.
This fact would make a great political cartoon. (Send one to us if you draw one.)
Please consider this point when you hear of “money saving” tactics by the current government.
Which way conveys the message best to you?
The military spends in 1 day what the EPA spends in 1.5 years.
The military spends in 1 day what the EPA spends in 18 months.
The military spends in 1 day what the EPA spends in 216 days.
The military spends in 24 hours what the EPA spends in 5,184 hours.
The military spends in 1 hour what the EPA spends in 216 hours.
Military = one day $ : EPA = 18 months.
EPA = 18 MONTHS : Military = 1 DAY
EPA takes 18 months to spend what military spends in 1 day.
The EPA spends in 1.5 years what the military spends in 1 day.
The EPA spends in 18 months what the military spends in 1 day.
The EPA spends in 216 days what the military spends in 1 day.
The EPA spends in 5,184 hours what the military spends in 1 day.
The EPA spends in 216 hours what the military spends in 1 day.
The future of the EPA is uncertain
by Alessandra Potenza Feb 28, 2017, 8:00am EST
Children play in the yard of a home in Ruston, Washington, while a smelter stack showers the area with arsenic and lead residue in 1972.Photo by Gene Daniels / US National Archives Children play in front of a smelter pumping lead and arsenic residue in the air of Ruston, Washington; a woman holds a glass of black, undrinkable water from her well in Ohio; and the view from the George Washington Bridge in Manhattan is so hazy with smog that the New Jersey skyline is impossible to see. These scenes were captured in the early 1970s as part of a project, called Documerica, that was commissioned by the Environmental Protection Agency to document pollution in the US. Today, the photos show what America looked like before environmental protections were put in place — and they serve as an important reminder of why we need those protections.
Today, the future of the EPA is uncertain. The new EPA leader, Scott Pruitt, has made a career out of suing the agency for its environmental regulations, working hand in hand with the fossil fuel industry. President Donald Trump is expected to drastically cut the EPA’s budget and workforce, as well as roll back many of the regulations that empower the agency. And a bill meant to terminate the EPA by December 2018 was recently introduced in the House by three Republican congressmen.
But most ordinary people haven’t forgotten life before the EPA — and the majority of them don’t want these cuts to the agency. More than 60 percent of Americans want to see the EPA’s powers preserved or strengthened under Trump, according to a Reuters / Ipsos poll released last month. And it’s not just liberals, either — almost half of Republicans wanted the EPA to continue in its mission as well. Only 19 percent of Americans would like to see the agency “weakened or eliminated.”
“There’s tremendous public support for clean air and clean water, and the basic mission of the agency is tremendously popular,” Paul Sabin, an environmental historian at Yale University, tells The Verge. “People are counting on the government to provide those protections.”
Colleagues remember Steve Wing as a different kind of scientist — one who believed advocacy and participation should be at the heart of scientific research.
“Community participation was central to the approach [Wing] believed in,” says Phil Brown, a member of the National Advisory Environmental Health Sciences Council. “[He believed] community residents were usually the most reliable discoverers of problems.” Wing was an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill until he died in November 2016. As a public health researcher, he advocated the use of community-based participatory research (CBPR) and sought to involve communities threatened by environmental hazards in every step of the research process. Brown says that Wing’s dedication to CBPR serves as an example to other researchers who see their advocacy and research as intertwined.
For 20 years, Wing worked with the people living near large farming operations in North Carolina’s hog country. With more than 2,100 hog farms, North Carolina is one of the largest pork-producing states in the country. Farms are concentrated in the eastern portion of the state, where most divert pig waste to open-air lagoons. When hurricanes hit, the lagoons overflow, spilling untreated hog waste into rivers, lakes, and backyards. When they’re working as intended, the lagoons contain the waste in deep pits that turn pinkish-purple from bacteria, emit toxic gases, and seep into groundwater.
Hog manure is poisonous stuff, but prior to Wing’s studies in the area, not much research had been done on the impacts of pig waste on human health. “People living around animal operations were seeing changes in their well water and smelling odors,” says Naeema Muhammad, co-director of the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network (NCEJN). Locals felt their concerns were ignored by area officials with ties to industry, says Muhammad. So they approached Wing to design a study on the health impacts of the farms.
To help build trust, community members were treated as co-researchers. That research partnership produced studies that found pollution from large hog operations was associated with increased blood pressure, respiratory symptoms, and stress. Another study found Black, American Indian, and Hispanic North Carolinians were more likely than White residents to live within 3 miles of an industrial hog farm.
Collaboration didn’t end once the study results were published. Wing brought the data back to the community. “People became more aware [of the health risks],” says Muhammad. “This was information that could help them.”
In a 2015 interview for North Carolina Health News, Wing explained why he believed collaborative research is important: “The research questions we choose and the studies we conduct respond to the needs of government or industry — basically, the organizations that have money to spend on research,” he said. “I became interested in the idea that there are problems that wouldn’t be identified by the authorities, that we could learn about if we just listen to the people who are exposed.”