By Yuba Gals on 2 September 2011 in the Energy Bulletin -
Image above: Derrick Jensen from a still of video interview below.
“Is the world a better place because you were born?” asks author Derrick Jensen. He contrasts sustainable indigenous cultures who enrich their habitat with the current “dominant culture destroying everything.” He explores how industrial civilization is inherently violent, turning people into objects and the earth into stuff. His books include A Language Older Than Words, The Culture of Make Believe, What We Leave Behind and Endgame. [www.derrickjensen.org]
Video above: Interview with Derrrick Jensen. From (http://youtu.be/6wcRKZyB76g).
TRANSCRIPT: Peak Moment episode 200 Recorded December 21, 2010
Derrick Jensen: I got an article yesterday that there's one coal factory, one coal electric generation station on the Great Lakes that kills 60 billion fish a year. And there's no population of anything but bacteria that can survive 60 billion casualties a year.
The fish in the oceans were so thick they'd slow down ships. Whales were an impediment to shipping. Sea turtles were so thick that people thought you could walk across the ocean on them. It's extraordinary, the fecundity.
[Introduction and title]
Janaia Donaldson: Hi, welcome to Peak Moment. I'm Janaia Donaldson. I'm in the northwest of California, in the redwoods with Derrick Jensen, the author and activist, of fifteen or sixteen books [including] A Language Older than Words, Endgame, What We Leave Behind, and more recently, Deep Green Resistance. Thank you for joining me.
Derrick Jensen: Thank you for having me.
Janaia: I really wanted to tape here in your Tolowa country that you speak of. There's a huge stump, a redwood stump here, throughout these woods, and also second growth. It seems to me a fitting image for what has been and what is, and taking a look at your critique of how humans are relating to the environment. Tell us about that.
Derrick: Well first, I would say that it's not "my" Tolowa land...
Janaia: You're right, I apologize.
Derrick: ...it's Tolowa land. The Tolowa Indians lived for 12,500 years if you believe the myths of science. And if you believe the myths of the Tolowa, they've lived here since the beginning of time. And in either case, it was for a really long time. And the dominant culture has been here for 180 years, and the place is pretty trashed. I mean, this looks beautiful here, but if you turned the camera around, you'd see traffic passing on [highway] 101.
The salmon runs used to be so thick that horses were afraid to get in the water. They used to be so thick that people were afraid to put their boats in the water for fear they'd capsize. You could hear them for miles before you could see them. And now, this is a better year for Chinook in the Smith [River] than there has been in a few years, but that doesn't alter the fact that the runs are tiny compared to what they used to be. "Decimate" means to kill nine out of ten, and they've been decimated many times over.
And so a question that I think would be good to ask is, How is it that the Tolowa could live here for 12,500 years at least, and the dominant culture destroys wherever it goes? And it wasn't because the Tolowa were too stupid to invent backhoes. There are huge and fundamental differences in the ways indigenous peoples have related to the land. And one of the fundamental differences — sometimes people say, the Indians affected the landscape too, and the fact that they affected the landscape makes it okay for Boise-Cascade to clearcut. But there's a big difference, many big differences. And one of the differences is that they were planning on living in place for the next 500 years. And if you're planning on living someplace for the next 500 years, your land use decisions are going to be really different than if you're not.
Janaia: It seems like our land use decisions, civilization itself, is just moving out, taking what it can take. Talk to us about the civilization we're in.
Derrick: They say that one of the signs of intelligence is the ability to recognize patterns. I'm going to lay out a pattern and let's see if we can recognize it in less than 6000 years. When you think of Iraq, is the first thing you think of is cedar forests so thick that the sunlight never touches the ground? One of the first written myths of this culture is the Myth of Gilgamesh deforestating the plains and hillsides of Iraq to make cities. The Saudi Arabian peninsula was an oak savannah. The Near East was heavily forested. We've all heard of the cedars of Lebanon. Greece was heavily forested. North Africa was heavily forested. If you want to know about the harmful effects of agriculture and of civilization, all we have to say was that the Sahara was once the breadbasket of Rome. Italy was heavily forested. A line I think I wrote many years ago is that "Forests precede us and deserts dog our heels." There used to be whales in the Mediterranean.
We can look at this in a bunch of different directions. One of these is that so many indigenous people have said to me that the fundamental difference between Western and indigenous ways of being is that even the most open-minded Westerners perceive listening to the natural world as a metaphor, as opposed to the way the world really works.
I will say often at talks or in books that I was walking down a path and a tree told me what I should write. If I get stuck, I take a walk, and a tree will speak to me. This is really crucial, this notion that perceiving the world as consisting of other beings to enter into relationship with, as opposed to perceiving the world as resources to be exploited. This is really crucial, because how you perceive the world affects how you behave in the world. There's a great line by a Canadian lumberman: "When I see trees, I see dollar bills." And if when you look at trees you see dollar bills, you'll treat them one way. If you look at trees as trees you treat them another way. If when I look at this particular tree and I see this particular tree, I will treat it in another way still. The same is true for women, all the way down the line.
Janaia: But you're saying something very different here. And that other level even — if you're taking a walk and talking to or listening to a tree, there's a relationship there. It's not just even an object, even if it's not for sale, even if it's the capitalistic view. That says to me you've got some kind of ... you experience a connection in the natural world that most of us in civilization probably don't have, or very few people do.
Derrick: I agree. And part of the reason is because it's systematically inculcated out of us. My book A Language Older Than Words was in part supposed to be a happy face. When I was first trying to find out how to write it, back in 1995-1996, it was supposed to be this happy face book about inter-species communication, and a compilation of all these experiences that people would have, of having a conversation with dogs or cats or coyotes or whomever. Because a lot of people I found were having these conversations in their lives but they weren't discussing these publicly for fear they'd be shamed.
I tried to write that book for a couple years and I couldn't do it. I finally figured out why. The reason is because, that to try to write yet another book that purports to show that non-humans can really think and can communicate, would be demeaning. And the reason it would be demeaning would be like trying to write a book showing that blonds can really think, or that Jews aren't really sub-human, in that it would still hold up human beings as the standard by which everyone else is judged.
But basically... there's a great line by this Portuguese explorer. He was talking about Africans and why it was okay to enslave them is because "when they speak, they fart with tongues in their mouths." So because they didn't speak Portuguese, they didn't speak - which made it okay to enslave them. So I didn't want to write a book that... I realized the \ I was more interested in writing was not, Can Non-humans Speak or Can They Not? but instead, Why is that Some of Us Listen and Some of Us Don't? Why is it that some of us are not able to hear? The problem runs all through the society on every level, whether it is the belief that only humans can have discourse.
The reason I'm hesitating is I'm thinking of something I read a couple of days ago, that rats laugh when they play or when they're tickled — little rats do. And (a) this shouldn't really surprise us, and (b), the person who did the experiment that found that out is a scientist who also vivisects rats. So even with that understanding, it doesn't alter his professional behavior. So I was thinking about that.
And I was also thinking about, there's a line by the scientific philosopher Richard Dawkins where he says that "science bases its claims to truth on its spectacular ability to make matter and energy jump through hoops on command." So that when you turn on a light, something happens.
It's an extraordinary statement, because it means that our very epistemology — epistemology is how we know what we know, and how we know what is — our very epistemology is based on domination. It's based on forcing others to jump through hoops on command. And it's absurd. Because I could pull out a gun and say, "Now you're going to do what I wish." What do you know? I've got a gun so you do what I wish. What does that say about truth? And what does that say about relationship? There's a way of knowing if something is true that I like better. Which is, if you can live in place with something for 12,500 years, I think that is a better definition of what is true.
So there's one level. In A Language Older Than Words I explored that question of "why is the dominant culture destroying everything?" from the perspective of ... I think this culture is so traumatizing that one of the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder especially long-term PTSD, is that you can lose the ability to... Judith Herman wrote a book called Trauma and Recovery. And in there, she discussed not just regular PTSD but where, for example, if a woman is raped in a certain make and model of a car, if she sees that make and model of a car, it could give her flashbacks, could scare her. But Judith Herman asked another question, which is, what happens if someone is raised in captivity or if someone is held in captivity? What happens to political prisoners or regular prisoners who are held for decades? What happens in domestic violence situations, where you can be held essentially as a prisoner for decades? What she found is that there are some predictable effects. And one of the predictable effects is one can come to believe that all relationships are hierarchical. And one can come to believe that fully mutual relationships aren't possible. Because if you're a prisoner, and the only relationships you have are with a guard who can, with impunity, reward or punish you, you can come to believe — "believe" is too weak — you can come to know, you can come to experience, you can come to forget that there are other relationships possible.
Janaia: It may be that it becomes so dominant that it is your experience.
Derrick: It IS your experience.
Janaia: And anything is diminished otherwise.
Derrick: Exactly. I got an email from somebody the other day who said something about how, if humans go extinct, wouldn't some other creature just come to dominate all the planet? Who else would be at the apex of evolution? And it's very interesting, because evolution doesn't really have an apex. But there's this notion... I have a Dakota friend Waz [Waziyatawin] who sometimes get hassled a little bit by vegetarians. And her response is always "We don't project that Christian hierarchy on the world, of animals over plants. There is no hierarchy."
Janaia: They are "all these relations."
Derrick: All the relations, right. I don't like "top of the food chain." There is no top of the food chain. If you think about it for a second, there is none. Because yes, I eat a chicken or I eat a broccoli. But then I die, and worms and bacteria eat me. Actually the soil eats me. And then after the soil eats me, then the huckleberries eat me, and a bird eats the huckleberry, and some human eats the bird. It's a circle. And everybody that thinks about it knows this. But one of the problems is, how do we behave in our day-to-day behavior?
One of the things I say in a book I'm working on right now is that if you ask 10,000 scientists "Was the world created for human beings?" most of them would probably laugh at you and say "Of course not." All of the non-Christian ones would say of course it was not created for human beings. But if you judged their answer not by what they say but by what they do, as soon as they get done with the interview and they go back to work, well, they're working, for the most part, as if the world was made for humans. Because they're making matter and energy jump through hoops on command.
So that was one book. A Language Older Than Words was about how we've been so traumatized by this culture that many of us are no longer even able to conceptualize the possibility of non-hierarchical relationships, fully mutual relationships with non-human beings especially. Or between human beings — between men and women, for crying out loud.
The next book — we're not going to go through all the books here — Culture of Make Believe, was really about how the culture is unsustainable on a sociological level. By which I mean ... the book started off as an exploration of hate groups. It was going to be a five page introduction to an encyclopedia of hate groups. The book exploded when I asked the question, What's a hate group? The first thing I did is I went to a KKK [Ku Klux Klan] website. And the site said, we're not a hate group, we're a love group because we love whites. So either (a) you can't trust rhetoric, or (b) the KKK is not a hate group. Well, I'll go with you can't trust rhetoric. But if you can't trust rhetoric, what do you trust? Well, if you go just by the numbers, then the biggest racist, segregationist organization in the country is the U.S. judicial penal system. Because it has achieved segregation of African American males on a scale the KKK could only dream of. About 30% of African American males between the ages of 18-35 is under criminal justice supervision. In some cities like Baltimore it's over 50%. And that's the KKK wet dream.
So I started then asking, What does hate feel like? And what I evenutally came to is any hatred felt long enough no longer feels like hatred. It feels like religion. Or economics. Or the way things are.
Janaia: I can get that it feels like the way things are. It's what you experience. And if you're permeated by that, it's what you're swimming in, there isn't another reality then.
Derrick: Yeah. So the individual Nazis working at death camps weren't sort of red-faced and shouting — what we think of when we think of hate, we think of anger. In fact the whole thing was very bureaucratic. It's very interesting, because pornography is very destructive. I was talking to Gail Dines about this, who's an anti-porn activist. And she was saying when pornographers get together at their conventions they talk about money. I don't think that most loggers hate forests. I think they're doing it for a paycheck. But the manifestation — I talk about how this culture teaches us to hate the natural world. And one of the ways it does that is the hatred is felt so deeply that ...
In that book one of the things I come to, a couple things, is that I don't have a problem with hate. I think hate is a fine and righteous emotion. I can hate someone because of what he or she has done to me or to someone else. But what I have a bigger problem with is persistent objectification. So I can hate a particular African American lesbian because of what she has done to me, theoretically, a hypothetical example. On the other hand, if I hate her because she's an African American lesbian, I'm not even doing her the honor of hating her personally. Instead, I'm hating a cardboard cutout that I'm projecting onto the space where she would be if I actually perceived her.
Of course we all objectivify all the time. You can go around recognizing that everybody has hobbies and somebody's foot hurts...There have been people that walk by outside, we would existentially explode if we recognized. But the problem is, if you do nothing but objectify, which is what the economic system systematically causes us to do.
There was a great article in the paper last year I think when the crab season was just finishing. They were saying one of the reasons the crabbers work so hard is that every crab is worth $1.50. And the harbormaster said, can you imagine if there were all these envelopes on the ground, and each envelope was worth $1.50? Of course you're going to run around picking them up as fast as you can. But the thing is, a crab is not an envelope full of $1.50. A crab is a living being with a life just as precious to that crab as yours is to you and mine is to me. That is not to say we can never kill a crab or a crab-apple or a broccoli.
Janaia: Because eating and being eaten is the natural way things are.
Derrick: The price you pay for living is you are going to be eaten someday. It's all about reciprocity. There's a great line I just heard recently by Charlotte Perkins Gilmore, a great writer. One of the things she said was that The Buddha went out and saw that everyone is killing and eating each other, and that's evil. I went out and I changed one word. I went out and I saw them, and I saw that everyone is feeding each other, and it's all good. This gets right to it again.
So Culture of Make Believe was basically about how if you have a culture that is based on competition and based on perceiving others as lesser, then you are going to lead inevitably to atrocity. And then one last thing, Endgame was based on the notion that if you have a way of life that's based on the importation of resources, that also can never be sustainable. Because it means you've denuded the landscape of that particular resource, and as your city grows, you'll denude ever larger areas. One of the reasons the Tolowa could live here for 12,500 years is because they didn't take more than the land would give willingly. And if you take more than what the land gives willingly, you're going to harm your land base.
This is how deep the problems go — we're all taught that evolution is based on competition, is based on survival of the fittest. And that's just capitalism projected onto the natural world. And it's so stupid! I can show how that that's not true in just one sentence with a couple of semi-colons: The creatures who have survived in the long run have survived in the long run; you don't survive in the long run by hyper-exploiting your surroundings; you survive in the long run by actually improving your habitat.
That's what salmon do. They make the world a better place. They make the forest a better place because they were born and because they die. Because they lived and died.
Janaia: It seems than that's the maxim that we ought to be living by, and this civilization is doing just the opposite of that.
Derrick: Is the world a better place because you were born? That's the question. How do we think the world got to be so beautiful and fecund and resilient in the first place? It's by individuals living and dying. And by communities efflorescing. It's by salmon hatching, and going downstream, and bringing nutrients back up. Eating out in the ocean and bringing nutrients back up, and dying and then being eaten by the trees. That's how the forest became so spectacular in the first place. It's pretty straight-forward. And everybody has to know this. And if they don't, they don't survive.
In The Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins talks about how you could have natural selection based on cooperation, or you could have it based on competition. But the problem with cooperation, he says, is if you have a cheater, everything falls apart. Like Richard, look around. There's a cheater, and everything's falling apart. So the central point is that you cannot take more than what the land gives willingly.
Janaia: And that's back to where we are: the desertification from the beginning of agriculture.
Derrick: See one of the problems is that taking more than the land gives you willingly gives you a short-term competitive advantage over your neighbors. So for example, the forests of North Africa went down to make the Phoenician and Egyptian navies. If they were going to cut down forests and turn them into warships, they had a competitive advantage over their neighbors who didn't do that.
There's this great line by this guy Samuel Huntington who basically says, People in the West basically think the world has been won by the power of Western ideas. Instead, it's been won by the ability of the West to apply organized violence. Westerners always forget this; the colonized never do.
And that's really true. The reason the dominant culture has been able to succeed is because it's been tremendously successful at applying organized violence. Including to the natural world, of course. I mean, what do you call pesticides?
Janaia: And to all their neighbors. We're seeing wholesale results of that.
Derrick: There's no stream in the United States that is not contaminated with carcinogens. A study just came out a couple days ago, 35 out of 37 cities they studied or something like that, have pretty huge levels of carcinogens in the drinking water. I mean, who was it that came up with the idea...Pittsburgh, just recently, has passed a resolution outlawing fracking within the city limits. Fracking is using a bunch of nasty chemicals that pollute the groundwater. I mean, who could be so absurd and murderous as to poison the groundwater?
Janaia: Well, if it's not your drinking water — there's that objectification again. It's somebody else's, so what? Let's exploit it and take what we want, right? We have one minute left, so I want to make sure we wrap up here, and we may get to start again. Actually Derrick, what I want to do is take a pause, thank you, and then let's continue.
I'm with Derrick Jensen. This is part one of conversations about civilization, the natural world. Join us next time.
By Richard Sullivan on 14 August 2009 for Vimeo -
Image above: Still from video below on Kalakaua Avenue in Honolulu looking northwest.
Sixty-five years ago my dad shot this film along Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki capturing spontaneous celebrations that broke out upon first hearing news of the Japanese surrender. He used Kodachrome 16mm film: God Bless Kodachrome, right? I was able to find an outfit (mymovietransfer.com) to do a much superior scan of this footage to what I had previously posted, so I re-did this film and replaced the older version There are more still images from this amazing day, in color, at discoveringhawaii.com.
Image above: Still from video below on Kalakaua Avenue looking northeast towards Diamondhead. Note trolly tracks.
Video above: VJ Day, Honolulu Hawaii, August 14, 1945. From (http://vimeo.com/5645171)
Ea O Ka Aina: Kodachrome Fades Away 12/30/10
Ea O Ka Aina: A Century Ago in Color 5/19/10 .
SUBHEAD: Mount Round-Up's hidden byproduct - Tons of molten slag from making phosphorus for Monsanto herbicides.
By Staff on 30 July 2011 for Discovery Magazine -
Image above: Every twelve minutes or so a truck would drive up to the edge of the slag heap and dump a cascade of brilliant yellow orange slag from a big crucible. It was an incredible sight. Standing there at the fence, the initial wave of heat was unbelievable. Just as your brain told you to run for it, the heat subsided gradually and the slag turned a dayglo orange, then red, and as it skinned over and turned gray, it made sounds like shattering glass...I could've stayed all day and watched this, and at the time it was the closest I'd come to seeing a lava flow in action. From (http://www.flickr.com/photos/14833125@N02
/3256760885/). Molten slag is added to a heap near Monsanto’s phosphate processing plant in Soda Springs, Idaho. The slag, which typically includes some radioactive uranium and radium in addition to calcium minerals, is the waste product from the conversion of phosphate ore to phosphorus. Monsanto operates the only such plant in the United States and uses the phosphorus to produce glyphosate, the main ingredient in the herbicide Roundup.
According to the EPA, each pound of phosphorus produced generates about four pounds of slag. Monsanto’s Soda Springs plant produces more than 200 million pounds of phosphorus each year. From (http://www.sodaspringsid.com/index.asp).
The Monsanto Company produces elemental phosphorus at the Soda Springs plant. Elemental phosphorus is found in many products we use daily, such as soft drinks, toothpaste, baking and leavening agents, water treatment chemical, insecticides, and herbicides. This plant began production in 1953 and has operated continuously since.
Approximately one million tons per year of phosphate ore, from nearby open pit mines, is mixed with quartzite rock, coke, and large quantities of electricity. The amount of electricity used per day equals the amount consumed by a city the size of Kansas City. This process yields elemental phosphorus, and several other by-products. One of these is slag, or calcium silicate. Slag is the large gray pile of rock you see on the south and west sides of the plant.
The slag comes out of the electric furnaces at a temperature of 1,400 degrees centigrade. It is poured into 600 cu. ft. cast steel pots on the backs of specialized trucks, hauled to the edge of the slag pile, and dumped. The molten rock creates a spectacular sight, night or day, as it runs down the side of the slag pile. Slag is poured on the average of 5 times per hour, 24 hours a day. Portions of the slag pile are being reclaimed by capping it with soil and planting grass.
Ea O Ka Aina: US promoting GMO's worldwide 8/29/11
"Oh my dear, that is simple. Jobs are created by presidents of the US with a little assistance of the congress. When presidents and congress people love each other very much, they spend a lot of money that doesn't actually exist, and that is where jobs come from."
That is right up there with the stork story.
Actually the real story is very simple. Jobs came from human ingenuity with respect to how to do stuff that wasted energy at the same time that energy availability was growing (as too, the population). We have figured out all kinds of trinkets to make and how to give each other haircuts, and entertain ourselves silly. And it didn't matter because we were always getting more net energy to burn off.
That is we were.
The question now is where did jobs go? OK, some US jobs did get shipped overseas, but that excuse is wearing thin as the Chinese economy is cooling. Again the really simple answer (if you know any physics at all) is that with less energy to throw away on trivialities and novelties jobs simply disappear. Every time energy costs have peaked we see an impact on spending on those trivialities. No consumption, fewer jobs. People lose jobs, they spend even less. What really got us this last time around were the siamese twin problems of the housing bubble and the debt bubble. They had grown so out of proportion with any real economy that the sudden loss of a few jobs, especially among those who were in over their heads (e.g. sub-prime mortgages) led to a cascade of unemployment. What our economist "experts" have been calling a "recession".
Back when the flow of net energy started to diminish we had shipped many jobs to China and India to take advantage of the cheap labor over there. Why was the labor cheap? Because the populations there were living on far less energy per capita. Both of those countries are seeking to change that now, promising their peoples that they will be able to consume just like the westerners have been doing. I imagine it is going to get pretty ugly when they fail to deliver on the promises. The global net energy flow will affect them every bit as much as it has hit the OECD countries. As I said, it is just plain physics.
So what do you think Obama can say, or do, next Thursday that will turn things around? Is he a magician? Is he going to pull cheap energy out of a bodily orifice that will let us go back to mindless consumption of stuff and "services" that then means someone has a job providing that stuff? I can't wait to see this. I was disappointed to have to wait one whole more day to hear his "plan". On the other hand the clown act of the three ringed circus known as American politics should be entertaining.
Maybe Obama should just join Rick Perry in prayer for jobs.
Unprecedented triple-digit heat and devastating drought. Deadly tornadoes leveling towns. Massive rivers overflowing. A billion-dollar blizzard. And now, unusual hurricane-caused flooding in Vermont.
If what's falling from the sky isn't enough, the ground shook in places that normally seem stable: Colorado and the entire East Coast. On Friday, a strong quake triggered brief tsunami warnings in Alaska. Arizona and New Mexico have broken records for wildfires.
Total weather losses top $35 billion, and that's not counting Hurricane Irene, according to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration. There have been more than 700 U.S. disaster and weather deaths, most from the tornado outbreaks this spring.
Last year, the world seemed to go wild with natural disasters in the deadliest year in a generation. But 2010 was bad globally, and the United States mostly was spared.
This year, while there have been devastating events elsewhere, such as the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, Australia's flooding and a drought in Africa, it's our turn to get smacked. Repeatedly.
"I'm hoping for a break. I'm tired of working this hard. This is ridiculous," said Jeff Masters, a meteorologist who runs Weather Underground, a meteorology service that tracks strange and extreme weather. "I'm not used to seeing all these extremes all at once in one year."
The U.S. has had a record 10 weather catastrophes costing more than a billion dollars: five separate tornado outbreaks, two different major river floods in the Upper Midwest and the Mississippi River, drought in the Southwest and a blizzard that crippled the Midwest and Northeast, and Irene.
What's happening, say experts, is mostly random chance or bad luck. But there is something more to it, many of them say. Man-made global warming is increasing the odds of getting a bad roll of the dice.
Sometimes the luck seemed downright freakish.
The East Coast got a double-whammy in one week with a magnitude 5.8 earthquake followed by a drenching from Irene. If one place felt more besieged than others, it was tiny Mineral, Va., the epicenter of the quake, where Louisa County Fire Lt. Floyd Richard stared at the darkening sky before Irene and said, "What did WE do to Mother Nature to come through here like this."
There are still four months to go, including September, the busiest month of the hurricane season. The Gulf Coast expected a soaking this weekend from Tropical Storm Lee and forecasters were watching Hurricane Katia slogging west in the Atlantic.
The insurance company Munich Re calculated that in the first six months of the year there have been 98 natural disasters in the United States, about double the average of the 1990s.
Even before Irene, the Federal Emergency Management Agency was on pace to obliterate the record for declared disasters issued by state, reflecting both the geographic breadth and frequency of America's problem-plagued year.
"If you weren't in a drought, you were drowning is what it came down to," Masters said.
Add to that, oppressive and unrelenting heat. Tens of thousands of daily weather records have been broken or tied and nearly 1,000 all-time records set, with most of them heat or rain related:
- Oklahoma set a record for hottest month ever in any state with July.
- Washington D.C. set all-time heat records at the National Arboretum on July 23 with 105 and then broke it a week later with 106.
- Houston had a record string of 24 days in August with the thermometer over 100 degrees.
- Newark, N.J., set a record with 108 degrees, topping the old mark by 3 degrees.
Tornadoes this year hit medium-sized cities such as Joplin, Mo., and Tuscaloosa, Ala. The outbreaks affected 21 states, including unusual deadly twisters in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Massachusetts.
"I think this year has really been extraordinary in terms of natural catastrophes," said Andreas Schrast, head of catastrophic perils for Swiss Re, another big insurer.
One of the most noticeable and troubling weather extremes was the record-high nighttime temperatures, said Tom Karl, director of NOAA's National Climatic Data Center. That shows that the country wasn't cooling off at all at night, which both the human body and crops need.
"These events are abnormal," Karl said. "But it's part of an ongoing trend we've seen since 1980."
Individual weather disasters so far can't be directly attributed to global warming, but it is a factor in the magnitude and the string of many of the extremes, Karl and other climate scientists say.
While the hurricanes and tornado outbreaks don't seem to have any clear climate change connection, the heat wave and drought do, said NASA climate scientist Gavin Schmidt.
This year, there's been a Pacific Ocean climate phenomenon that changes weather patterns worldwide known as La Nina, the flip side to El Nino. La Ninas normally trigger certain extremes such as flooding in Australia and drought in Texas. But global warming has taken those events and amplified them from bad to record levels, said climate scientist Jerry Meehl at the National Center for Atmospheric Research.
Judith Curry of Georgia Tech disagreed, saying that while humans are changing the climate, these extremes have happened before, pointing to the 1950s.
"Sometimes it seems as if we have weather amnesia," she said.
Another factor is that people are building bigger homes and living in more vulnerable places such as coastal regions, said Swiss Re's Schrast. Worldwide insured losses from disasters in the first three months this year are more than any entire year on record except for 2005, when Hurricane Katrina struck, Schrast said.
Unlike last year, when many of the disasters were in poor countries such as Haiti and Pakistan, this year's catastrophes have struck richer areas, including Australia, Japan and the United States.
The problem is so big that insurers, emergency managers, public officials and academics from around the world are gathering Wednesday in Washington for a special three-day National Academy of Sciences summit to figure out how to better understand and manage extreme events.
The idea is that these events keep happening, and with global warming they should occur more often, so society has to learn to adapt, said former astronaut Kathryn Sullivan, NOAA's deputy chief.
Sullivan, a scientist, said launching into space gave her a unique perspective on Earth's "extraordinary scale and power and both extraordinary elegance and finesse."
"We are part of it. We do affect it," Sullivan said. "But it surely affects us on a daily basis - sometimes with very powerful punches.".
For months she eluded hunters, animal activists and the media, but Yvonne the runaway cow has now finally been captured. The fugitive didn't give up her freedom without putting up some resistance, though. Her performance was so spirited that she's now being compared to a Spanish bull.
Yvonne the fugitive cow has been captured, but not without a fight. It took two tranquilizer shots and some serious wrangling to get the feisty cow into a transport vehicle.
"She acted very aggressively," veterinarian and former director of Munich's Hellabrunn Zoo, Henning Wiesner, told news agency DAPD. A normal cow would have been easily led away after just one shot, he explained.
"She has the qualities of a Spanish Toro," he added.
After the tranquilizers, Yvonne made a scene by charging a tractor, which was followed by some additional pushing and shoving from her captors. She was ultimately wrangled into an animal transporter and taken to the Gut Aiderbichl animal rescue farm in Deggendorf, where she will likely live out the rest of her days.
Initially billed for slaughter, six-year-old Yvonne broke free from an Aschau farm on May 24 and retreated to the woods in the Upper Bavarian district of Mühldorf am Inn. The district authority soon declared the cow to be a traffic danger, authorizing officials to shoot her. However, concerned animal activists stepped in to try and save Yvonne, purchasing her from her owner and joining the search to find her.
Bound, But Not Broken
During their quest to capture Yvonne the Gut Aiderbichl rescuers unsuccessfully tried using helicopters with heat-seeking cameras, her sister Waltraud and even a handsome ox named Ernst to lure her from the woods. With each failed attempt Yvonne gained popularity during the slow news cycle of the summer months, even earning herself a few Facebook fan pages. Adding to her allure, those who spotted Yvonne reported that her months on the lam had transformed her from an ordinary dairy cow to a shaggy, buffalo-like woodland beast.
The wily bovine outsmarted her pursuers so many times that last week district officials gave up, suspending the permit to shoot her and asking that the animal "not be disturbed in its current habitat," though Gut Aiderbichl rescuers still hoped to find her before the cold winter months set in.
Her freedom was short-lived. On Tuesday Yvonne was spotted in a meadow near Stefanskirchen where a number of calves were being kept. The farmer, whose find won him a €10,000 ($14,500) reward put up by tabloid daily Bild, informed Gut Aiderbichl on Thursday. By the time everyone arrived it was too dark to proceed, but Yvonne was captured -- with some hefty resistance -- around dawn on Friday morning.
"I'm happy it went so well," head of the Gut Aiderbichl rescue farm search team, Hans Wintersteller, told German news agency DAPD on the way to Yvonne's new home in Deggendorf.
There she will be greeted by her sister Waltraud and son Friesi, also purchased by the rescue farm, which is home to horses, dogs, chimpanzees and other cattle.
"The whole family is waiting for her," Wintersteller said..
By Ray Catania on 3 September 2011
Image above: Oura Bay, From (http://www.japanfocus.org/-norimatsu-satoko/3415).
WHERE AND WHEN:
Free movie at Kapaa Neighborhood Center Craftroom, Sunday, Sept 4, 2 pm
WHAT: "Sit-on Sea" tells how Okinawan fishermen and farmers try to block the building of a U.S. Military base on Oura Bay with a 600 day sit-in on the water.
This struggle inspired many in Okinawa. Oura Bay is a cultural, economic and spiritual resource for these people who live near the bay from Henoko village.
This fight will remind everyone about the struggle against the Superferry, and against cultural desecration at Naue and in Wailua (Wailuanuiahoano). Talkstory will follow the movie and light refreshment will be served.
CONTACT: For more information call 634-2737 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This event is being sponsored by James Alalem and Ray Catania. .
The importance of this change between generations was ultimately not so much the luminescence of the Counterculture, but instead a weakening of the population. The direction of the population was not toward liberation and enlightenment or a return to more natural living (except for some hippies). Instead, as has become clear over the decades since, that the population was becoming less healthy, more alienated, possessing fewer skills, controlled by the top of the pyramid, and losing knowledge of elders' traditions and sense of community.
I believe the above explains how a modern middle aged person in the U.S. today is little more than a graying replica of previous generations' resilient, wiry-strong citizens. While a factory job of yesteryear may not make more sense or be more healthful than a service-job today at a corporate chain store, the factory worker nevertheless used his hands and made something, and knew intimately of his parents' or grandparents' rural roots and simple values.
One can deride the ignorance or lack of imagination of the generation of the 1920s, '30s and '40s, but minimizing the strength of that generation -- because it may not have been as technologically sophisticated or able to stop the corporatization of the nation -- as we applaud women's liberation and the slackening of church going, misses the overall change for the worse in the population during the last several decades. (Growth in population did not help anyone but the few profiting off growth, nor did reliance on ever-more-expensive, dwindling petroleum give us more than a short-term jolt of energy.)
For it is the mass denial today of our ecological plight and the increasingly obvious domination by unworthy, greedy masters that raises the question, "What accounts for the current generation's putting up with the imbalanced economy and total lack of connection to the life-giving land?" As I have a look at Oklahoma this week, I see the cloned, exacerbated sprawl development, automobile dependence, and acquiescence to ever more costly, senseless militarism.
Simultaneously there is little acknowledgment of climate change when the state is experiencing the hottest summer in history. The people, as with almost USAmericans, are more dependent than ever on technology and being dictated to by government in more and more areas of daily living. Perhaps, though, the kindness and directness of the people of Oklahoma will be the biggest local resource -- beyond the vaunted petroleum industries and cattle ranching. And the famous Oklahoma Food Coop is the envy of the nation.
Where is this societal trend -- six decades of leisurely deterioration for the U.S. masses -- going? Times are tougher and tougher for more people, as the system shows itself to be failing. Eventually the number of people that the system is rewarding will be so small that they will be dealt with harshly by a hungry, landless mass of frustrated, mostly confused people who also had led soft, often empty lives. One can hope for a good outcome when things settle down, but we are running out of Mother Nature's patience..
D. Landreth Seeds is America's oldest seed company. It was founded in 1784 in Pennsylvania, and carries over 900 heirloom, non-GMO seed varieties. Many of the plants and vegetable varieties we now grow in our gardens are there thanks to Landreth introducing them to this country. For example, Landreth introduced the tomato (then known as "love apple") to home gardeners, and later went on to develop yellow tomatoes. Many of us grow 'Bloomsdale' spinach -- this variety is also a Landreth introduction. And those colorful zinnias that adorn many of our yards? Brought to this country by Landreth after a trip to Mexico in 1798.
And now, we're in danger of losing this longstanding American institution.
The company will cease to exist at the end of this month if it does not raise money to cover bank notes that are now due. Thanks to a paperwork snafu,detailed on their Facebook page, the company now needs to come up with 1 million dollars in the next 30 days to cover their debt and stay in business.
Why This Matters
Seed companies are becoming more and more consolidated, and, for the most part, consolidated under giant companies like Monsanto who would love nothing more than to completely control the seed market. As these conglomerates take over, they decide to only produce and sell the seed that they deem most profitable. This means that variety in our food supply is quickly dwindling.
If you love the flavor of heirloom vegetables, and like knowing that you aren't growing GMOs in your garden, we need to keep these small, independently-owned seed houses in business.
How You Can Help
Landreth produces a really informative, souvenir-quality catalog each year. For just $5, you can order one of these beautifully-designed catalogs and help keep a company in business -- and help save some American jobs.
1. You can order a catalog (or three!) at Landreth's web site. 2. Spread the word via Facebook and Twitter (follow and use the #SaveLandreth hashtag), encouraging others to do the same. 3. While you're at it, order some seeds!.
Aegis coming ashore at PMRF By Dennis Fujimoto on 29 August 2011 for Garden Island News - (http://thegardenisland.com/news/local/military/article_99de5f70-d2e4-11e0-972e-001cc4c03286.html#ixzz1WpIZzRVT) Image above: Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho (purple shirt) and Kauai State Senator Ron Kouchi (green check shirt) represent local political hacks at abominable event. From this TGI article. Dignitaries on Monday dedicated the site of a new missile testing complex that is expected to be up and running within the next couple years at the Pacific Missile Range Facility.
“There are people in the world who would harm and kill us,” U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye said. “We are not testing to kill, but to defend. ... I pray the product of testing will not be used, but will be a deterrent for those who would harm us.”
The Aegis Ashore Missile Defense Test Complex will be built on two locations at the Westside base as a test and evaluation center in the development of the Phased Adaptive Approach’s second phase.
President Barrack Obama in September 2009 said the plan is to provide flexible, adaptable ballistic missile defense for the nation’s deployed troops, friends and allies, a PMRF news release states.
Dignitaries participating in the event included Inouye; Capt. Nicholas Mongillo, PMRF commander; Rear Admiral Dixon Smith, commander of Navy Region Hawai‘i and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific; and Rear Admiral Joseph Horn, Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense program executive.
Horn, in congratulating PMRF for being a first-rate range and being considered the “Jewel of the Pacific,” said Aegis Ashore, simply put, is cutting the deckhouse off a ship and moving it on land.
He alluded to Rear Admiral Wayne Meyer, regarded as the “Father of Aegis,” who often said, “Build a little, test a little and learn a lot.”
Tom Clements, PMRF public affairs officer, and Ralph Scott, public affairs for the Missile Defense Agency, said a contractor should be selected by the end of 2011 and the test complex should be ready some time in 2013.
Following initial certification, the AAMDTC will remain at PMRF as a Missile Defense Agency test asset and will be operated by the Missile Defense Agency, the PMRF release states.
The Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System, named after the legendary shield of Zeus, is deployed on 81 serving naval ships around the globe with more than 25 additional Aegis-equipped ships planned or under contract, states an article on the Defense Industry Daily website.
Smith said there are six naval Aegis-equipped ships home-ported at Pearl Harbor on O‘ahu.
The sea-based element of the Ballistic Missile Defense System under development by the Missile Defense Agency integrates with submarines, surface ships as well as the U.S. Army and Air Force.
Smith said there are plans to install the BMDS in Romania in 2015 and in Poland in 2018, those systems having gone through testing at PMRF.
The test complex at PMRF is critical to the development of the Aegis Ashore capability, the PMRF release states. The complex is essential for verifying requirements and validating design capability.
Deployment of Aegis Ashore to Europe will greatly enhance coverage of defense of Europe as part of the overall BMDS, officials said.
Tracing the history of the U.S. Navy on Kaua‘i, Smith said the Navy has a deep respect for the history of the island with a face to the future.
“Barking Sands has been on the edge of history since it became a runway in 1921,” Smith said. “In 1941, the Navy expanded it to become an airstrip and in 1956, the first missile launch started the legacy of testing.”
Shielded from the sun by tent canopies, kupuna Aletha Kaohi melded the Hawaiian culture and her background of growing up “just a couple of ridges down” into a solemn ceremony.
Kaohi said the landscape of Hawai‘i changed after the landing of Capt. James Cook and people are still arriving.
“If we are to be one with unity, we need to bridge the differences,” Kaohi said. “There is a need to be pono for balance.”
In calling to the “one god by many different names (from the different cultures),” the ancestral spirits, Kaohi offered thanksgiving to honor and respect.
An umeke or ipu, bowl or calabash, a dried gourd painted in a style unique to West Kaua‘i and Ni‘ihau, would be the ho‘okupu to the contractor when selected.
Kaohi said the gourd had the shape of Kaua‘i and the paintings showed a clear melding of PMRF into the landscape of Kaua‘i, the cover representing the sky, the gourd contents before being removed, the cosmos with its countless stars.
“The umeke will be the container of mana, or spirit,” Kaohi said. “Look to within and get rid of the ‘opala, or rubbish.”.
Michael Gray, an agricultural entomologist at the University of Illinois in Urbana, said he’s studying whether western corn rootworms collected last month in Henry and Whiteside counties are resistant to an insect-killing protein derived from Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt, a natural insecticide engineered into Monsanto corn.
The insects were collected in two fields where corn had toppled after roots were eaten by rootworms, Gray said today. Planting Bt corn year after year increases the odds that the bugs will develop resistance to the insecticide, he said. While the symptoms parallel bug resistance that’s been confirmed in Iowa, analysis of the Illinois insects won’t be complete until next year, he said.
“Whatever is the cause, it is generating a lot of concern.” Gray said in a telephone interview. “I wouldn’t say at this point it’s just an isolated field here or there.”
Monsanto takes reports like Gray’s “seriously” and follows up on all accounts of unexpected damage and other performance questions, said Lee Quarles, a spokesman for the St. Louis-based company. Monsanto’s monitoring hasn’t found rootworm resistance to its Bt corn and the product is performing well on more than 99 percent of acres planted, he said.
Monsanto dropped $3.02, or 4.4 percent, to $65.91 as of 2:24 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares fell 1 percent this year through yesterday.
Gray detailed his preliminary findings last week in the university’s Pest Management and Crop Development Bulletin. He said he’s since been contacted by more farmers whose Bt corn is succumbing to corn rootworms.
“It’s very, very significant damage,” Gray said. “Producers buy these Bt hybrids to protect their root systems, so it understandably makes them not very happy.”
In July, Iowa State University entomologist Aaron Gassmann reported the first rootworms confirmed as being Bt-resistant, which he found in four of the state’s cornfields.
Gray advised growers with performance problems to rotate corn crops with soybeans and to plant corn with a different type of Bt technology.
Monsanto’s SmartStax corn introduced last year is engineered to produce a second Bt insecticide that, when used with crop rotation and a refuge of non-Bt corn, will extend the usefulness of the insect-fighting technology, Quarles said..
By Jacob Greber on 1 September 2011 for Bloomberg - (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-09-02/u-s-set-to-sue-banks-over-mortgage-securities-n-y-times-says.html)
Image above: Bank of America swallowed the scam artists at Country Wide in the 2008 collapse - a poison pill to be sure. From (http://econintersect.com/b2evolution/blog3.php/2011/08/24/bank-of-america-goes-after-blodget).
More than a dozen large banks may be sued by the U.S. Federal Housing Finance Agency for misrepresenting the quality of mortgage securities sold at the height of the housing bubble, the New York Times said.
The agency, which oversees mortgage finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, is likely to file the lawsuits in coming days and will seek billions of dollars in compensation, the newspaper said, citing three people briefed on the matter that it didn’t identify.
Bank of America Corp. (BAC), JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) and Deutsche Bank AG (DBK) are among firms that will be targeted by the suits, which stems from subpoenas issued by the agency a year ago, according to the Times report. The agency will argue that the banks failed to perform the due diligence required under securities law while assembling and selling the mortgage securities, and missed signs that borrowers’ incomes were inflated or falsified, the newspaper said.
The lawsuits may be filed today or on Sept. 6, before a deadline expires for the housing agency to file claims, the Times reported. Rather than demanding that firms buy back the original loans, the agency is seeking reimbursement for losses on the securities held by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, it said.
Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan declined to comment, the Times said. Frank Kelly, a spokesman for Deutsche Bank, told the newspaper the bank can’t comment on a suit it hasn’t seen or hasn’t been filed, according to the report.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have operated under U.S. conservatorship since 2008, when they were seized amid subprime mortgage losses that pushed them toward insolvency.
A call to the federal agency after U.S. business hours wasn’t immediately returned.
Mark Bennewith, a spokesman for Deutsche Bank in Singapore, Rob Stewart, a Hong Kong-based spokesman for Bank of America and Edward Naylor, a spokesman at Goldman Sachs, declined to comment when contacted by Bloomberg News.
ATT & T-Mobile Deal Trashed By Sara Forden & Jeff Bliss on 1 September 2011 for Bloomberg - (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-09-02/at-t-said-to-misread-u-s-signals-in-meetings-before-t-mobile-deal-blocked.html) Image above: ATT as PacMan swallowing T-Mobile to pass Verizon as biggest cell-telco. From (http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2011/03/20/att-mobile-att-buys-t-mobile-usa). On the morning of Aug. 31, AT&T Inc. (T) Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson said in a television interview that he expected his company’s bid for T-Mobile USA Inc. to get government approval by the first quarter of 2012.
An hour later, his lawyers received a call from the U.S. Justice Department, according to a person familiar with the matter. The attorneys were told the government was suing to block the $39 billion transaction, the person said. The suit halted the biggest deal of the year and drew a line in the sand on antitrust policy that may affect other acquisitions in the pipeline.
The sudden turnaround occurred because the Justice Department came to a meeting the day before looking for AT&T to lay out a game-changing national remedy to eliminate what it saw as the anticompetitive defects in the proposed merger, and that didn’t happen, said another person involved in the meeting. AT&T was under the impression that it would have more time to present ideas that would assuage the government’s reservations about the deal, another person involved in the discussions said.
In the end, the Justice Department concluded the companies on the other side of the table weren’t responding to concerns that the deal would hurt competition and raise consumer prices in the wireless phone market, a person familiar with the decision said.
Skepticism in the antitrust division had been building for weeks as a technical review of national and local markets showed the merger to be highly anticompetitive, the person said.Justice Department Talks
Against that backdrop, 40 people gathered around a wooden table in a third-floor conference room at the Justice Department on Aug. 30, the day before Stephenson’s televised prediction that the deal would be approved. They included representatives of AT&T, T-Mobile, a unit of Bonn-based Deutsche Telekom AG (DTE), the Justice Department and the Pennsylvania attorney general, the person said. Officials from several state attorneys generals’ officce, including California and New York, listened in by phone, two people said.
Their primary purpose was to brief the acting chief of the antitrust division, Sharis Pozen, said one of the people. The meeting was also called to review the merger’s effect on competition after previous sessions focused on so-called economic models, a person who attended said.
AT&T and T-Mobile’s position on the merger’s benefits was outlined by four people, while Justice Department lawyers interjected questions that they regarded as thoughtful rather than confrontational, one of the people said.Possible Divestitures
AT&T and T-Mobile representatives said they wanted to discuss with a smaller group, at a later meeting, possible divestitures of customers, network and spectrum that might allow the deal to go forward, according to one person.
At the end of the hour-and-half presentation, Pozen said she was concerned that merging the two companies would leave local and national wireless markets too concentrated, the person said. She also expressed reservations about shrinking the market from four major companies to three -- AT&T-T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel Corp., the person said.
AT&T’s Stephenson, his lawyers and others involved in the acquisition had no idea those reservations would lead to a lawsuit being filed the next day, the people familiar with their mindset said.
“We are deep into the analysis with the Department of Justice, and it’s all the questions and data gathering you might expect,” Stephenson had told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” at 8:39 a.m., about an hour before the company’s lawyers were advised of the complaint.Caught by Surprise
“The news caught everybody by surprise,” said Steve Largent, president and CEO of CTIA-The Wireles Association, which hadn’t taken a position on the transaction. “AT&T was in the middle of explaining and detailing the merger that was being proposed when the Justice Department filed,” Largent said. CTIA includes AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint Nextel Corp. (S) among its members.
Jessica Smith, a Justice Department spokeswoman, declined to comment on the details of the meeting or the decision as did Brad Burns, an AT&T spokesman in Dallas and T-Mobile spokeswoman Anna Friedges.
“As soon as they decided, they pulled the trigger,” said Harold Feld, legal director of Public Knowledge, a Washington- based consumer group that opposes the deal.
Pozen and her team made the final decision to sue after the Aug. 30 meeting, a person said. It was approved by Associate U.S. Attorney General Thomas Perrelli and Deputy U.S. Attorney General James Cole, the department’s second-highest ranking official. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has recused himself from the AT&T review, according to Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler. She declined to elaborate on the reason.‘Law Enforcement Action’
The White House was not involved in the decision, White House press secretary Jay Carney said yesterday at a news briefing. “This is a law enforcement action.”
Pozen said at a news conference on Aug. 31 after the filing that the department had consistently told AT&T it had serious concerns about the transaction.
“We have been in constant dialogue with the parties, exploring their arguments, exploring the materials they have provided, asking questions, engaging fully with them,” Pozen said.
AT&T, which said it will challenge the lawsuit, is seeking to meet again with Justice Department officials to propose remedies that might allow the deal to go through, according to three people familiar with the company’s position.
Pozen said at the news conference that the department’s “door is open” for further discussion.
“It is true that you can always settle a case, but the Justice Department doesn’t use litigation as a settlement tactic,” said Public Knowledge’s Feld. “This merger creates dangerous levels of concentration in 97 of the top 100 markets-- there isn’t a cure for that. It’s not like you can sell Chatanoooga and give up a few licenses in Milwaukee,” he said..