Time to let civilization go?

SUBHEAD: We need to live in the places we are as if they were the last places on Earth. Because they are.

By Juan Wilson on 7 December 2015 for Island Breath -

Image above: Front of the Honolulu Museum of Art as seen from Thomas Square Park. In the foreground are homelss people living in the park. From (http://www.honolulumagazine.com/Honolulu-Magazine/April-2013-1/Field-Notes-Occupy-Movement-in-Hawaii/).

Over the weekend my wife Linda and I visited Honolulu to see her son, who lives there with his wife and their son. We visited three wonderful museums. The Bishop Museum, the Honolulu Museum of Art and Doris Duke Foundation's Museum of Islamic Art known as Shangri La. Each has a unique world class collection. All are impeccably presented.

The Bishop covers Hawaiian and Polynesian culture and history as well Earth sciences. The Honolulu Museum of Art's  collection has representation of world wide art covering over a thousand years as well as contemporary showings.

A special show on display now presents a large collection of the French sculpture of Auguste Rodin. Shangri La presents Duke's collection of Islamic architecture, art and craft that covers centuries and has origins from spanning from Spain across Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

I don't remember another time I enjoyed the experience of museums more.

Image above: The porch of guest house at Doris Duke's Shangri La modeled after a Persian palace in Iran. From (http://dionnerivera.com/odd-eccentric-pieces-and-places/).

Honolulu has recently grown to be the eleventh largest city in America. Most of it is quite new as cities go. It's economy is for the most part fueled by tourism, that is mostly brought to Hawaii by jet fuel. To me that doesn't seem a very solid foundation for the future.

In Honolulu most of the tourism seems to come from Asia, specifically from Japan and more recently China. Young well to do couples from Beijing, in search of a McDonalds, now stroll along the Waikiki Beach sidewalk past homeless aging Vietnam vets and bag ladies. It's an odd clash of civilizations.

We saw many homeless in Honolulu. The climate is easier on the homeless there than than Buffalo or Saint Paul.

Linda and I and her grandson arrived early at the Honolulu Museum of Art so he killed some time in the six acre park across the street called Thomas Square.

The park is a lovely site that has been largely abandoned to the homeless. People lay on the lawn in the shadows of trees in camouflage sleeping bags or next to shopping carts.

At its center is the remains of a large fountain that is about 100 feet in diameter that is surrounded by mature banyan trees. The six inch water main that fed the fountain is shut off. The fountain is empty with a film of pond scum and some litter.

Image above: The fountain in historic Thomas Square in Honolulu at a time when its fountain no longer operates. From (https://alantamayose.wordpress.com/2012/06/02/honolulu/).

Is this the peak of Western Civilization?

This morning, as I was online checking out material for this website while I was listening to Minnesota Public Radio. George Weiblen, a biologist from the University of Minnesota, was being interviewed.

Weiblen was back from a research trip to Papua, New Guinea. For years he has been studying  the forests there and the effects of climate change there. New Guinea has the third largest tropical jungle in the world behind the Amazon and Congo.

New Guinea is now going through what Minnesota went through in the 19th century - namely deforestation, or put another way "the arrival of civilization". His point was that it seems a requirement of a place being civilized is that first it is deforested.

I know this sounds pretty obvious, but somehow his presentation of this idea hit a nerve in me. My response is "if that's the case - we don't need so much civilization.

Weiblen added that if we (European settlers )in ) could push the indigenous inhabitants out of the forests of North America and then clear cut them, how could we tell people in Papau, New Guinea, not to do the same.

This moral dilemma is settled for me not by allowing New Guinea forests to be cut, but to require the farmland in Minnesota to be reforested - again, we don't need so much civilization.

The following interview with Peter Snyder, a climate scientist at the University of Minnesota. He discussed the increased occurrence of heat waves and more violent storms and the problems of  mitigating heat islands created by massive urban development like twin cities of Minneapolis-Saint Paul.

Some might think a place like Minnesota would be embracing global warming as a improvement to the icy cold that grips the region for much of the year. But the truth is that global warming is residue of our killing everything in our path. It's what civilized human beings.

So we do we don't need so much civilization.

We need to immediately begin the journey back to being indigenous people. That could take the form of living as shoreline fishermen, in pastoral villages, woodland gardens or as nomadic hunter gatherers. But it won't be as urban/suburban car-driving bean counters, baristas or personal assistants.

We need to live in the places we are as if they were the last places on Earth. Because they are.

This is the calm before a storm. It is now that you have a chance to plan and fit out, as you can, the resources you'll need.

The COP21 climate change conference going on in Paris is dwindling down to a fight by corporations for table scraps of resources that are left in the "Third World".
The most "civilized" countries in the world - including France,  Germany, England, America, Russia et cetera, seem hell bent on joining in on World War IV in Syria to control what fossil fuel is left in the Middle East.

So we do we need any so much civilization? 


Big Fat Radioactive Lie

SUBHEAD: Billionaires are hyping nuclear power as a magic cure for climate change.

By Emily Schwartz Greco 3 December 2015 in Other Worlds 

Image above: May 9, 2015 photo by Ricky Flores, shows the Indian Point Energy Center in Buchanan, N.Y. after a company spokesperson said a transformer failed and caused a fire at the Unit 3 nuclear power plant. The fire was extinguished and the unit shut down automatically according to the company. One of the Indian Point nuclear power plant‘s reactors was shut down Saturday after several control rods lost power, the plant owner said, marking the latest in a series of mishaps at the aging suburban New York plant. From (http://www.elkharttruth.com/news/national/2015/05/10/Transformer-fire-shuts-down-part-of-Indian-Point-power-plant.html).

Not long ago, no billionaire worth his cufflinks would be caught dead without hurling bales of money at our nation’s educational system. They bankrolled charter schools, high-stakes testing, and the splintering of big high schools into smaller academies. Their failure to make American kids learn more scuffed the luster on this enduring philanthropic fad.

Billionaires have landed, therefore, on a new mission. As Donald Trump might say, they want to make nuclear energy great again.

“If we are serious about replacing fossil fuels, we are going to need nuclear power,” PayPal co-founder and Facebook mega-investor Peter Thiel crowed in a New York Times op-ed shortly before negotiators from 195 nations gathered in Paris to seal an international climate pact.

Thiel, who personally invests in nuclear energy, made the self-serving demand that the U.S. government forge a “plan to fund and prototype the new reactors that we badly need.”

In other words: What does a guy like me with only $2.2 billion to my name gotta do to get my corporate welfare handout?

Bill Gates is also advocating heavy public investment in novel designs that these nuclear cheerleaders swear will be safer and cheaper than the 391 reactors that now generate about one in 10 watts around the world.

As the Paris climate talks got underway, the Microsoft co-founder launched an unprecedented multibillion-dollar “clean” energy fund, backed by the U.S., Chinese, and Indian governments, as well as other billionaires and some foundations. Don’t be surprised if it’s nuclear-friendly.

The crowd of rich men with tech cred dipping their toes in these radioactive waters also includes Amazon titan Jeff Bezos and Paul Allen, Gates’ fellow Microsoft co-founder.

But there are many reasons why governments, including our own, should resist their call to pump more tax dollars into nuclear energy. Namely:
Reactors are expensive, they’re very difficult to shield from terrorist and other security threats, and they’re prone to catastrophic accidents that have created ghost towns in Japan and the former Soviet Union. Furthermore, there are still no solutions for meeting the daunting challenges of safeguarding nuclear waste and cleaning up abandoned uranium mines.

And nuclear power takes too long to crank up. Remarkably, five of the 62 reactors under construction worldwide have been in the nuclear pipeline for three decades. It’s too slow to stop the climate crisis.
Besides — to a much greater extent than solar and wind power — nuclear energy emits its own carbon pollution. Those greenhouse gas emissions come largely through the use of fossil fuels in activities like reactor construction, waste transportation, and uranium mining.

More importantly, successful businessmen ought to be able to spot an uncompetitive industry when they see one.

Here’s what Lazard, an investment bank with $180 billion under management, has to say about today’s top energy options: Utility-scale “wind and solar are much cheaper than gas and coal, and less than half the cost of nuclear.”

Renewable energy’s competitive edge makes it no surprise that generation from solar power is now growing exponentially and wind power has been expanding by more than 20 percent annually for the past seven years around the world as nukes have fumbled. The total amount of global nuclear energy remained well below 1996 levels in 2014.

A total of four new nuclear reactors in Georgia and South Carolina are at least three years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget. That bodes badly for the save-our-nukes billionaire class because (sorry, guys) those power stations were supposed to be models for ramping up nuclear energy quickly without cost overruns.

I wonder what they’ll choose as their next losing battle.

•¨Columnist Emily Schwartz Greco is the managing editor of OtherWords, a non-profit national editorial service run by the Institute for Policy Studies. OtherWords.org.

Record levels of Fukushima radiation

By Admin on 3 December 2015 for ENE News - 

Record levels of Fukushima radiation detected off West Coast — Massive plume stretches for more than 1,000 miles — Reuters: Contamination is spreading off U.S. shores — Radioactive cesium reaches 11 Bq/m3 at multiple locations.

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Dec 3, 2015 Higher levels of Fukushima cesium detected offshore — Scientists monitoring the spread of radiation in the ocean from the Fukushima nuclear accident report finding an increased number of sites off the US West Coast showing signs of contamination from Fukushima. This includes the highest detected level to date from a sample collected about 1,600 miles west of San Francisco. The level of radioactive cesium isotopes in the sample, 11 Becquerel’s per cubic meter… is 50 percent higher than other samples collected along the West Coast so far…

Working with Japanese colleagues, [Ken Buesseler, a WHOI marine radiochemist] also continues to independently monitor the ongoing leaks from Fukushima Dai-ichi by collecting samples… During his most recent trip this October they collected samples of ocean water, marine organisms, seafloor sediment and groundwater along the coast near the reactors. Buesseler says the levels of radioactivity off Fukushima remain elevated – some 10 to 100 times higher than off the US West Coast today, and he is working with colleagues at WHOI to try to determine how much radioactive material is still being released to the ocean each day.

Ken Buesseler, WHOI: “These new data are important for two reasons… the changing values underscore the need to more closely monitor contamination levels across the Pacific. Second, these long-lived radioisotopes will serve as markers for years to come for scientists studying ocean currents and mixing in coastal and offshore waters… [F]inding values that are still elevated off Fukushima confirms that there is continued release from the plant.”

Statesman Journal, Dec 3, 2015: Higher levels of Fukushima radiation detected off West Coast — Higher levels of radiation from Japan’s 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident are showing up in the ocean off the west coast of North America, scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution reported today. And an increased number of sampling sites are showing signs of contamination… This year, Buesseler has added about 110 new sample results to 135 already on the project’s web site. They include the highest detected level to date, from a sample collected about 1,600 miles west of San Francisco.

Reuters, Dec 3, 2015: Radiation from Japan nuclear disaster spreads off U.S. shores… and contamination is increasing at previously identified sites… Tests of hundreds of samples of Pacific Ocean water confirmed that Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant continues to leak… The latest readings measured the highest radiation levels outside Japanese waters to date some 1,600 miles (2,574 km) west of San Francisco. The figures also confirm that the spread of radiation to North American waters is not isolated to a handful of locations, but can be detected along a stretch of more than 1,000 miles (1,600 km) offshore.

Paris COP21 and Peace

SUBHEAD: We must remember that there will be no peace between people if we do not make peace with the Earth.

By Vandanah Shiva on 2 December 2015 for the Asian Age -

Image above: From (http://www.countercurrents.org/shiva061215.htm).

Land, water and agriculture-related conflicts are deliberately mutated into religious conflicts to protect the militarized agriculture model which has unleashed a global war against people.

Humanity stands at a precipice.

Merely 200 years of the age of fossil fuel has driven species and biodiversity to extinction, destroyed our soils, depleted and polluted our water and destabilized our entire climate system.

Five hundred years of colonialism have driven cultures, languages, peoples to extinction and left a legacy of violence as the basis of production and governance.

The November 13 Paris attacks have led to an escalation of violence in our way of speaking and thinking while dealing with a conflict. Paris has emerged as the epicenter of the planetary ecological crisis and the global cultural crisis.

From November 30 to December 11, movements and governments converge in Paris for COP21 — 21st Conference of Parties on the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

COP21 is not just about climate change; it is about our modes of production and consumption which are destroying the ecosystems that support life on this planet.

There is a deep and intimate connection between the events of November 13 and the ecological devastation unleashed by the fossil fuel era of human history. The same processes that contribute to climate change also contribute towards growing violence among people. Both are results of a war against the Earth.

Industrial agriculture is a fossil fuel-based system which contributes more than 40 per cent of the greenhouse gases leading to climate change. Along with the globalized food system, industrial agriculture is to be blamed for at least 50 per cent of the global warming.

Synthetic nitrogen fertilizers are based on fossil fuels and use the same chemical processes used to make explosives and ammunition. Manufacturing one kilogram of nitrogen fertilizer requires the energy equivalent to two liters of diesel.

Energy used during fertiliser manufacture was equivalent to 191 billion litres of diesel in 2000 and is projected to rise to 277 billion in 2030. Synthetic fertilizer, used for industrial agriculture, is a major contributor to climate change — it starts destroying the planet long before it reaches a field.

Yet the dominant narrative is that synthetic fertilizers feed us and without them people will starve.

The fertilizer industry says that “they produce bread from air”. This is incorrect.

Nature and humans have evolved many non-violent, effective and sustainable ways to provide nitrogen to soil and plants.

For example, pulses and beans are nitrogen-fixing crops. Bacteria named rhizobia, which exists in the nodules of their roots, converts atmospheric nitrogen into ammonia and then into organic compounds to be used by the plant for growth.

Intercropping or rotating pulses with cereals has been an ancient practice in India. We also use green manures which can fix nitrogen.

Returning organic matter to the soil builds up soil nitrogen. Organic farming can increase nitrogen content of soil between 44-144 per cent, depending on the crops that are grown.

Organic farming not only avoids the emissions that come from industrial agriculture, it transforms carbon in the air through photosynthesis and builds it up in the soil, thus contributing to higher soil fertility, higher food production and nutrition and a sustainable, zero-cost technology for addressing climate change.

Ecologically non-sustainable models of agriculture, dependent on fossil fuels, have been imposed through “aid” and “development” projects in the name of Green Revolution. As soil and water are destroyed, ecosystems that produced food and supported livelihoods can no longer sustain societies.

As a result, there’s anger, discontent, frustration, protests and conflicts. However, land, water and agriculture-related conflicts are repeatedly and deliberately mutated into religious conflicts to protect the militarized agriculture model, which has unleashed a global war against the earth and people.

I witnessed this in Punjab while I was doing research for my book, The Violence of the Green Revolution, on the violence of 1984. We are witnessing this today, as conflicts which begin because of land degradation and water crises — induced by non-sustainable farming systems — are given the colour of religious conflicts.

Since 2009, we heard of Boko Haram while we missed the news about the disappearance of Lake Chad. Lake Chad supported 30 million people in four countries — Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger. Intensive irrigation for industrial agriculture increased four-fold from 1983 to 1994.

Fifty percent of the disappearance of Lake Chad is attributed to the building of dams and intensive irrigation for industrial agriculture.

As the water disappeared, conflicts between Muslim pastoralists and settled Christian farmers over the dwindling water resources led to unrest. As Luc Gnacadja, the former secretary-general of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, states about the violence in Nigeria, “The so-called religious fight is actually about access to vital resources”.

The story of Syria is similar. In 2009, a severe drought uprooted a million farmers who were forced to move into the city for livelihood. Structural adjustment measures, imposed by global financial institutions and trade rules, prevented the government from responding to the plight of Syria’s farmers.

The farmers’ protests intensified. By 2011, the world’s military powers were in Syria, selling more arms and diverting the narrative from the story of the soil and farmers to religion.

Today, half of Syria is in refugee camps, the war is escalating and the root causes of the violence continue to be actively disguised as religion.

Haber, the inventor of Zyklon B — a poisonous gas used in 1915 to kill more than a million Jews in concentration camps — was given a Nobel Prize in chemistry. American biologist Norman Borlaug received a Nobel Prize for Peace for the chemical-based Green Revolution that has only left a legacy of violence.

For me, COP21 is a pilgrimage of peace — to remember all the innocent victims of the wars against the land and people; to develop the capacity to re-imagine that we are one and refuse to be divided by race and religion; to see the connections between ecological destruction, growing violence and wars that are engulfing our societies.

We must remember that there will be no peace between people if we do not make peace with the Earth.

• Vandana Shiva is the executive director of the Navdanya Trust


Halfway through COP21

SUBHEAD: ...And a very long way from world-saving deal thanks to corporations and First World nations

By John Queally on 5 December 1025 for Common Dreams -

Image above: “The enemies of a decent deal know they have one week to kill words in the text that commit the world to ‘full decarbonization,'" said Martin Kaiser, head of the international climate negotiations for Greenpeace. From original article.

The COP21 climate talks in Paris reached their halfway point on Saturday, but a deal that experts and global justice campaigners would consider acceptable remains a long way off as the fossil fuel industry and wealthy nations maintain their powerful grip on the direction of the international summit.

Given the troubled history of the UN-sponsored talks, most members of civil society headed to Paris acknowledging the two-week gathering was unlikely to yield the kind of agreement that either the science of global warming, or the movement for climate justice, would find acceptable.

However, in the wake of released draft texts by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the body governing the talks, environmental campaigners and rights groups are expressing contempt for the negative influence that powerful corporations and the fossil fuel industry—backed by the world's wealthiest and most polluting nations—are having on the progress towards reaching an ambitious and transformative deal.

“The enemies of a decent deal know they have one week to kill words in the text that commit the world to ‘full decarbonization,'" said Martin Kaiser, head of the international climate negotiations for Greenpeace. "They know that would set us on a path towards 100% renewables by the middle of the century. Those regressive forces will fight instead for words that call for a 'low emission transformation,' knowing that such a watered down phrase will do almost nothing to keep fossil fuels in the ground."

At speech inside the conference hall on Saturday, Tony de Brum, the Foreign Minister for the Marshall Islands, gave what was described as a "rousing speech," touching on the vulnerability of low-lying nations and the world's poor as he vowed to press for ambitious emissions targets as well as adequate levels of financial assistance to pay for the damage already triggered by greenhouse gases.

"We cannot leave Paris with a minimalist agreement, we must build a coalition of high ambition," declared de Brum. "I refuse to go home without an agreement that I can look my grandchildren in the eye and be proud of my contribution."

Also on Saturday morning, the UNFCCC released the latest draft text (pdf) of the chapter focused on national financial commitments designed to deal with the impacts of global warming in the decades to come. As Fiona Harvey reports for the Guardian:
The world’s least developed countries face the greatest threat from climate change as they lack the technology to cut greenhouse gas emissions and their infrastructure is too fragile to cope with extreme weather. Under the proposed wording, developing countries with rapidly growing economies, such as China, would be included alongside established developed nations in being regarded as potential donors to poorer nations.
Rich countries argue that the wording merely reflects current reality, as at least eight governments classed as developing have already made “climate finance” contributions that will aid those poorer than them. China pledged $3bn (£2bn) to the Green Climate Fund in September, and has made further pledges to help Africa.
But some developing countries see the attempt to bracket them with the rich as a threat. They think it could be used in the future to force them to become donors alongside countries such as the US and the EU.
Tamar Lawrence-Samuel, associate research director for the U.S.-based Corporate Accountability International, responded to the latest draft by describing it as an affront to the "historical responsibility of the Global North" and said it offers only more proof that rich nations remain the key blockers of the urgently needed transition away from dirty energy.

Speaking on behalf of Friends of the Earth International, spokesperson Asad Rehman, said: "Rich, developed countries, led by the United States are negotiating in bad faith here in Paris – they are refusing to even discuss proposals brought by developing countries. The poorest, most vulnerable nations are being bullied behind closed doors and their issues are being railroaded out of this process.

It is simply unacceptable that the USA won’t live up to its legal and moral responsibilities. At the same time civil society observers, the eyes and ears of global citizens, are being shut out of negotiating rooms. Not only are we seeing an ambition deficit, but we are seeing a fundamental lack of justice."

"While the draft outcome released this morning for negotiation next week will likely be met with applause by Global North governments and their corporate board room backers," explained Lawrence-Samuel, "it fails to deliver meaningfully toward the systemic transition climate change requires.

At the core of this failure are the obstinate negotiating positions of the US and other Global North governments who are bent on deregulating the global rules applying to them and advancing the financial needs of big business over the survival needs of people."

She continued by saying that even as the U.S. delegation and President Obama, who spent two days in Paris talking about climate earlier in the week, are framing their commitments at COP21 as grand and far-reaching, the contents of this latest draft betray such claims.

"The chasm between rhetoric and action continues to grow," she said. "Whether it’s finance or technology, loss and damage or differentiation, the positions reflected in this text are heavily biased towards the US, Japan, EU and other Global North countries, and the emissions-intensive industries they represent."

Highlighting the widely-held sentiment that corporations and the individually powerful continue to have an outsized and negative influence when it comes to the UN-sponsored climate talks, activist filmmakers debuted a short film in Paris on Friday night, entitled "La Fête est Finie (The Party is Over)."

The black-and-white short depicts a private gathering of powerful members of industry and government officials in shadow of the Eiffel Tower as they indulge and celebrate. Watch:

Image above: From (https://vimeo.com/147336202).

In a statement released alongside the film, Mark Donne, one of the co-directors, said: "As with any party, the skill is in knowing when to leave. For decades fossil fuel extracting trans-nationals and western governments have continued to dance and partake long after the bright lights of climate science evidence were switched on and the deafening music of denial had its plug pulled."

Meanwhile, and despite evidence showing the deal reached in Paris will ultimately prove inadequate, Kaiser said Greenpeace remains "optimistic about the process" though "less so about the content," though indicated room remains for negotiators to prove campaigners wrong. "At this point in Copenhagen we were dealing with a 300 page text and a pervasive sense of despair," he said. "In Paris we’re down to a slim 21 pages and the atmosphere remains constructive.

But that doesn’t guarantee a decent deal. Right now the oil-producing nations and the fossil fuel industry will be plotting how to crash these talks when ministers arrive next week."

And according to Lucy Cadena, a campaigner for Friends of the Earth International, it remains important to remember that what happens outside of the halls of power—whether in Paris or around the world—is ultimately more important than what happens inside conference centers and meeting rooms.

"It is still unclear whether the warm words and half promises we’ve heard this week will yet lead to firm commitments," Cadena said. "Will we really see a commitment to a more ambitious temperature threshold?

There have been piecemeal pledges for finance for vulnerable countries to adapt, but nothing consistent or in line with rich nations’ fairshare of effort.

Nor is there clarity on support to enable the poorest to recover from unavoidable impacts of climate change. Those who grew rich through a dirty climate-changing system and addiction to carbon pollution are leaving poorer countries to foot the bill as if they carry equal responsibility."

She concluded, "The lack of progress in the halls is in complete contrast with the vibrancy and creativity of people on the streets and in alternative gatherings throughout Paris."


We Can Reverse Global Warming

SUBHEAD: A very optimistic view of what we may be able to accomplish on reversing Climate Change.

By Ronnie Cummins on 3 December 2015 for Common Dreams -

Image above: 'Healthy soil, healthy plants, healthy animals, healthy people, healthy climate . . . our physical and economic health, our very survival as a species, is directly connected to the soil, biodiversity and the health and fertility of our food and farming systems.' (Image: Regeneration InternationalFrom original article.

“Humanity stands at the edge of an abyss. We have destroyed the planet, its biodiversity, our water and the climate, and through this destruction, we have destroyed the ecological context for our survival as a species. Ecological destruction and resource grab are generating conflicts, which are being accelerated into full-blown wars and violence. A context of fear and hate is overtaking the human imagination. We need to sow the seeds of peace—peace with the earth and each other, and in so doing, create hope for our future—as one humanity and as part of one Earth community.” —Vandana Shiva, Terra Viva–Pact for the Earth (November 26, 2015)

Twenty-three years after the first United Nations Earth/Climate Summit in 1992, in the wake of a savage terrorist attack on November 13 that traumatized Europe, a multinational contingent of activists and stakeholders are gathered here for the COP 21 Climate Summit.

A growing number of us here in Paris are determined to change the prevailing gloom and doom conversation on climate, and instead focus on practical solutions.

Frustrated by the slow pace of global efforts to address climate change, angered by the “business-as-usual” arrogance of Big Oil, King Coal, industrial agribusiness and indentured politicians, a critical mass of the global grassroots appears ready to step up the pace and embrace a new solutions-based message and strategy that we in the organic movement call Regeneration.

Ten thousand of us took to the streets of Paris on November 28, peacefully defying the government ban on street demonstrations. I, along with a delegation of North American and Latin American Regeneration activists, joined the protest, holding hands with our French and European comrades in a human chain stretching for miles.

Our section of the animated chain, punctuated with colorful homemade signs, T-shirts and banners, was designated “Solutions.”

Lined up at the corner of Boulevard Voltaire and Allée du Philosophe, our boisterous group’s most popular chant, repeated over and over again in Spanish, English and French, drawing smiles and thumbs-up reactions from Parisians on the streets, was “El pueblo unido, jamas sera vencido” (“The people united will never be defeated).”

Standing at the crossroads of a climate Apocalypse, a growing consensus appears to be emerging: We must not only phase out Big Oil, King Coal and industrial food and farming, and stop polluting the already supersaturated atmosphere and the oceans with additional greenhouse gases, but we must also strip out or draw down approximately 200 billion tons of excess CO2 already blanketing the atmosphere. And we must do this utilizing proven, “shovel-ready” regenerative organic farming and land use practices.

As of today, December 3, more than 50 national governments, activist organizations and stakeholder organizations (including the Organic Consumers Association and our Mexico affiliate, Via Organica) have signed on to the French government’s “4 Per 1000 Initiative: Soils for Food Security and Climate” declaration.

The declaration emphasizes that agriculture, and agricultural soils in particular, can play a crucial role in reversing global warming and increasing global food security.

Based on a growing body of farming practices and scientific evidence, the French government’s Initiative invites all partners to declare or to implement practical programs for carbon sequestration in soil and for the types of farming methods used to promote it (e.g. agroecology, agroforestry, conservation agriculture and landscape management).

According to Andre Leu, president of IFOAM Organics International, the French Initiative on sequestering atmospheric carbon in soils via regenerative ag practices is “historic, marking the first time that international climate negotiators and stakeholders have recognized the strategic imperative of transforming and regenerating our global food and farming system in order to reverse global warming.”

Zero Emissions Are Necessary, But Not Enough
Rejecting the standard discourse of 350.org and other climate groups that promote a tunnel-vision focus on “zero emissions by 2050” as the sole solution to stave off runaway global warming and climate catastrophe, a growing corps of Regenerators here in Paris, under the banner of  “Refroidir la Planète” (“Cool the Planet”) and “Alimenter le Monde” (“Feed the World’) have begun to build a Regeneration International movement.

This movement is inspired by the practices of thousands of organic farmers, holistic ranchers, pastoralists and indigenous communities across the globe who are demonstrating that truly regenerative farming, grazing, forestry and land use practices, scaled up globally, sequestering in some cases up to 5-10 tons of carbon per acre per year,  literally have the potential to reverse global warming.

The co-benefits of this massive recarbonization and regeneration of the soil, grasslands and forests include: reducing rural poverty, improving plant and animal health and food quality, increasing natural water storage in soils, building crop resilience restoring public health, and last, but not least, reducing global strife.

For those who have never heard of regenerative organic food, farming and land use, here’s a short fact sheet (pdf) and a longer annotated bibliography.  This new Regeneration paradigm is based on the biological fact that healthy soils, grasslands and forests can literally draw down, through enhanced plant photosynthesis, enough excess carbon from the atmosphere to bring us back to pre-industrial levels of 280 parts per million of CO2.

As IFOAM states in a handout this week at the Paris Climate Summit: “We need to Reverse Climate Change—not just slow it down.” IFOAM goes on to explain:
We need to do more than just stop the increase in greenhouse gas emissions… We also have to drawdown the excess CO2 in the atmosphere to return the climate to the level where it should be—the pre-industrial level.

Soils are the greatest carbon sink after the oceans, and hold significantly more carbon than the atmosphere and biomass combined. There is a growing body of published science indicating that regenerative farming systems, including organic agriculture, can strip significant amounts of CO2 out of the atmosphere and sequester it into the soil as soil organic matter.

The co-benefits of this regeneration include greater resilience to adverse weather events… better adaptation to climate change… and food security… Regenerative organic farming is based upon current good practices and is a low-cost, shovel-ready solution that does not require untested, potentially catastrophic, hugely expensive geoengineering or carbon capture and storage technologies.
IFOAM’s leaflet goes on to point out that regenerative farming and land use practices are not being put forward as a substitute for stopping fossil fuel emissions, but rather as an essential complementary strategy that is absolutely necessary: “Soil carbon sequestration… and eliminating food and farming emissions… cannot be used to justify continued greenhouse gas pollution… or business as usual…

We need to reverse climate change, not just sustain current greenhouse gas levels.”

Regenerating the Body Politic: Connecting the Dots for a New “Movement of Movements”
Global Regeneration requires a revolution, not only in our thinking, but in our heretofore tunnel vision, “my issue is more important than your issue,” “my constituency is more important than your constituency,” model of grassroots organizing.

Disempowed, exploited people, overwhelmed by the challenges of everyday survival, don’t have the luxury of connecting the dots between all the issues and focusing on the Big Picture. It’s the job of Regenerators to globalize the struggle, to globalize hope and connect the dots between issues, communities and constituencies.

We need to move beyond mere mitigation or sustainability concepts that simply depress or demobilize people  to a bold new global strategy of Regeneration.

Healthy soil, healthy plants, healthy animals, healthy people, healthy climate . . . our physical and economic health, our very survival as a species, is directly connected to the soil, biodiversity and the health and fertility of our food and farming systems.

So who will carry out this global Regeneration Revolution?
Of course we must continue, and in fact vastly increase, our pressure on governments and corporations to change public policies and marketplace practices.

As indicated above, the most encouraging development at the Climate Summit here in Paris is that a growing number of countries and activist networks are endorsing the French government’s .4% Initiative to pay farmers to move away from the climate destructive practices of industrial agriculture and to sequester carbon in their soils.

But in order to truly overturn “business-as-usual” we must inspire and mobilize a vastly larger climate change coalition than the one we have now.

Food, climate and economic justice advocates must unite forces so we can educate and mobilize a massive grassroots army of Earth Regenerators: three billion small farmers and rural villagers, ranchers, pastoralists, forest dwellers, urban agriculturalists and indigenous communities—aided and abetted by several billion conscious consumers and urban activists.

The time is late. Circumstances are dire. But we still have time to regenerate the Earth and the body politic.

Here are four things you can do to join the Regeneration Movement:
(1) Change the climate conversation in your local community or in your local organization from doom and gloom to one of positive solutions, based upon the Regeneration perspective. Visit the Regeneration International website on a regular basis. Join our Regeneration International Facebook page.  Publicize and share strategic articles, videos and best practices. If you need to study up on how soil sequestration works, read and re-read this pamphlet and go through the major articles in our annotated bibliography.
(2) Join or help organize a local or regional Regeneration working group. If you’re ready to become a Regeneration organizer send us an email here.
(3) Boycott “degenerate” foods. Regenerate your health and your diet. Get ready to join OCA and Regeneration International’s soon-to-be-announced global campaign and boycott against Monsanto, factory farms, GMO animal feeds, biofuels and so-called “Climate-Smart Agriculture." One of the most important things you can do today and every day is to buy and consume organic, grass-fed, locally produced, climate friendly foods.
(4) Help organize and plan regeneration conferences and meetings. Make your plans now to attend our Regeneration International global climate and biodiversity Summit in Mexico City December. 1-3, 2016.
Image: Soil profile with overlay "We Can Reverse Global Warming". From Regeneration International via Common Dreams.


Nothing to fear but the Fearful

SUBHEAD: Overthrow the reign of terror the State has installed over your mind. Else the days ahead may be terrible indeed.

By Dan Sanchez on 3 December 2015 for DanSanchez.me -

Image above: Military style SWAT team in the city. It's America's newest export - the police-industrial complex. From (http://www.abreureport.com/2014/04/the-dominican-republic-and-shadow-of.html).

When I first learned of the recent attacks in Paris, a chill went down my spine. “No,” I thought, “This is all happening too fast.”

I was terrified. I was not terrorized, mind you. What happened in Paris was tragic, of course.

But I was not so ignorant and innumerate as to think the kind of violence it represented was a statistically significant direct threat to myself and my loved ones. I was fully cognizant that, even with the recent uptick in terror attacks, the probability of my family ever being caught up in one was vanishingly minuscule. I am more likely to be felled by a deer or a bolt of lightning than by a jihadist’s Kalashnikov.

What terrified me was the response of all the people who are incapable of such a proportional perspective: those who saw the news from France and panicked, thinking “I’m next!” As distant as it was, the Paris attacks unleashed in America a surge of fear and of calls for greater police powers, as well as an attendant wave of anti-Muslim hate and war lust.

And as sophisticated and urbane as the French are reputed to be, they too let irrational terror wash over them. And under its sway, they permitted the State to run rampant over life and liberty. The public attitude was distilled by a young French citizen whose message to her government was, “Do whatever you want, but keep me safe.”

With this mandate, France escalated its pointless and terrorist-breeding bombing of civilian-filled Syrian towns. And at home, as Truth in Media reported:
“…the French government declared a state of emergency based on a rarely used 1955 law that allows the state to conduct warrant-less searches of private property, impose curfews, restrict public gatherings and movements of people, confiscate weapons at will and take over the press.”
As always, the statist public perversely responded to terrorism drawn upon their heads by their government’s foreign militancy by sanctioning more such militancy. And it perversely rewarded that government for its abject failure to prevent the attacks with more resources, powers, and responsibility.

On top of arrest sweeps and threatening to close mosques, the French government’s emergency powers were invoked to place activists under house arrest in order to squelch completely unrelated protests. This demonstrated vividly that war is indeed the health of the State, and war-spawned terrorist attacks are like an adrenaline shot for domestic tyranny.

When I saw these responses, it fully sank in just how surrounded my family and I are by human livestock and just how acutely dangerous that position is. I realized that, when an attack of that scale and shock-value again happens on American soil, the pack-minded multitudes all around me will deafeningly bay for war.

And the herd-minded hundreds of millions will stampede to the State for security, bleating to please, please be shorn of their remaining liberties.

I am not terrified of the terrorists; i.e., I am not, myself, terrorized. Rather, I am terrified of the terrorized; terrified of the bovine masses who are so easily manipulated by terrorists, governments, and the terror-amplifying media into allowing our country to slip toward totalitarianism and total war.
Now the result of that could be a statistically significant threat to myself and my family.

Under an omnipotent government with permanent emergency powers, there would be a significant likelihood of my nephew being drafted to help occupy a foreign country; my daughter going hungry thanks to wartime economic planning; or myself being imprisoned or shot as a dissident.

Yet I have drawn solace from the fact that libertarians like myself are not alone in pushing back against the terrorized Right. Following the Paris attacks, many excellent articles from the political Left were published wisely warning the West not to answer indiscriminate violence in kind.

Such a terror-driven response is exactly what the terrorists want, in order to polarize and sharpen a “clash of civilizations.”

And then yesterday’s San Bernardino attack happened.

Before the fact that the alleged shooters were Muslim emerged, the Left began jumping all over it as yet another in a long series of mass shootings by whites that demonstrated the urgent need for more gun control.

Two weeks earlier, these same progressives were calmly counseling the public to not be terrorized into giving their government more power to bomb, register, and persecute Muslims. Now they themselves were trying to terrorize the public into giving their government more power to disarm, register, and persecute gun owners.

They point out that you are more likely to be killed by a white, homegrown terrorist than a Muslim one. That may be true, but both of those fates are still far less likely than your odds of being crushed by furniture (or being killed by a cop, for that matter).

Neither of these exaggerated threats are any justification for incurring the great and underestimated dangers involved in granting government sweeping new powers.

Progressives, who rightly support Black Lives Matter, are pining for more gun laws, while the already existing gun possession laws are one of the chief pretexts cops and courts use to brutalize and incarcerate blacks.

And the same progressives who rightly warn of potential fascism under the divisive demagoguery of Donald Trump, want to give the institution that Trump may come to control greater power to register and disarm the public.

They ignore or deny the fact that the mass human roundups we associate with such regimes are only practicable given broad civilian disarmament. And broad civilian disarmament, in turn, is only practicable given broad gun registration.

For example, the German Jews and liberals were easily liquidated by the Nazis, thanks to the Weimar Republic’s gun registration lawsDo you really want every single Mexican and Muslim in America disarmed or easily disarm-able under “Chancellor” Trump?

After San Bernardino, I am just as terrified of the terrorized and terrorizing Left as I am of the terrorized and terrorizing Right. I more fully realize that the latter can only do its worst if enabled by the former. The Left sets us up for the Right to knock us down. Call it the Weimar/Third Reich one-two punch.

I do not irrationally and disproportionately fear Muslim bomb-wielding jihadists or white, gun-toting nutcases. But I rationally and proportionately fear those who do, and the regimes such terror empowers. History demonstrates that governments are capable of mass murder and enslavement far beyond what rogue militants can muster. Industrial-scale terrorists are the ones who wear ties, chevrons, and badges.

But such terrorists are a powerless few without the supine acquiescence of the terrorized many. There is nothing to fear but the fearful themselves.

Paris and San Bernardino taught me that my family is trapped amid a herd, completely surrounded by cattle-minded millions who can be spooked into large-scale stampedes with small-scale crimes. And there is literally no way out, because virtually the entire world is afflicted with one form of collectivist statism or another.

Therefore, the only way to prevent my loved ones from being trampled is by helping as many people as I can to break the spell of terror that turns civilized men and women into rampaging beasts.

That is why I am writing this essay: to implore you, the reader, to snap out of that spell if you have not already, and to help others do the same.

Stop swallowing the overblown scaremongering of the government and its corporate media cronies. Stop letting them use hysteria over small menaces to drive you into the arms of tyranny, which is the greatest menace of all.

Overthrow the reign of terror the State has installed over your mind. Else the days ahead may be terrible indeed.


Paris COP21 Scherzo

SUBHEAD: The Paris climate conference is really an economic conference, perched on the brink of a market crash

By Albert Bates on 4 December 2015 for The Great Change -

Image above: From ().

Hanging out in the halls of Le Bourget one often hears the phrase, “the elephant in the room,” in reference to unspoken but huge issues that may threaten the negotiations if they are disturbed. In our view, the room is actually full of elephants, and it is a wonder delegates can even squeeze in to find their seats.

A new one that has made its appearance this year is the notion of measuring not merely a nation's consumption of fossil fuels (and presumedly penalizing nations that consume more than they should) but also measuring production of fossil fuels (at the wellhead or mineshaft, before they are burnt).

This is a big deal.

In a way it is not all that new, because we spoke of it in our book, The Post Petroleum Survival Guide and Cookbook, back in 2006. Our theme then was that production and consumption were two sides of the same coin; reducing consumption would also entail reducing production, but it was not necessarily a bad thing. Producing less could actually lead to a better life for people. Our model was the dedicated beach bum who is content to work only enough to provide minimal needs and whose main products were serotonin and suntans.

In recent times we see more writers and thinkers coming to the same conclusion. We recently listened to an interview on the Kunstlercast with Chris Martenson and Adam Taggart, authors of Prosper!: How to Prepare for the Future and Create a World Worth Inheriting. To quote James Howard Kunstler's intro to the interview:
"Both Chris and Adam were corporate executives who dropped out to pursue more a resilient way of life in a rapidly and increasingly hazardous changing world. Chris Martenson began that phase of his career with the video and later book titled The Crash Course, which undertook to explain the dangers of contemporary banking, finance, and money-creation. Chris and Adam maintain the front and back ends of the PeakProsperity.com website, which features weekly articles and two excellent podcasts on issues pertaining to what I have called The Long Emergency."
In Prosper, Martenson and Taggert revisit our formula from the Post-Petroleum Survival Guide and also mention the recent book by two of our Gaia University gradates, Ethan Roland and Gregory Landua, The Eight Forms of Capital,  that synthesizes the lessons of our Financial Permaculture Course in 2009, et sequelae.

The outshoot is that if you think of your personal wealth and well-being in strictly monetary terms, you are missing 88 percent of what life holds for you. Bringing this back to the climate context, scaling back from an overdeveloped, overextended civilization model to something more frugal can and should create greater satisfaction through the other forms of wealth.

 This is, or course, a radical view compared to that held by most of the delegates in Paris. Petroleum, gas and coal producers are not just multinational conglomerates like Exxon-Mobil — whom we have already heard squeal — but national producers like Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Brazil, Russia, Canada and Australia.

Mexico and Brazil are good examples of recently underdeveloping countries whose economies have boomed on the back of fossil fuel sales. In the desert kingdoms of the Middle East, few princes are willing to give up their palaces or swank townhouses in London for the sake of a few more degrees of heat, and the burn rate of Saudi royals' oil money has grown well beyond sustainable if those spigots were suddenly to close. Russia is fond of wielding the gas weapon when Europe or Ukraine get too snooty, and despite the good offices of Canada's new Prime Minister, do we really imagine Alberta will just shut down its tar sands?

Last week, Alberta's Premier Rachel Notley announced her province will enact a carbon tax, phase out coal-fired power plants and regulate oil sands mining emissions. Those are wonderful promises, but not the same as leaving it all in the ground to begin with.

This argument over production places the producer countries, many of whom are leading military powers, into conflict with their own internal balance of accounts. Earlier this year the UN’s climate chief Christiana Figueres told the fossil fuel industry, “Three-quarters of the fossil fuel reserves need to stay in the ground.” Mike Sandler at CapGlobalCarbon.com recapped the numbers:

Three years ago Bill McKibben laid out the “terrifying math” behind the “excess fossil fuels,” which if unearthed, would push the planet past the safe carbon budget as calculated by scientists. It starts with two degrees Celsius, the maximum level of acceptable temperature change that the world’s nations agreed to above pre-industrial levels.

From there, estimates of the world’s remaining carbon budget vary depending on the level of acceptable risk. On the low end is McKibben’s relatively risk-averse estimate of 565 gigatonnes (GT) CO2. A 2013 report from Carbon Tracker put the number at 975 GT for an 80% probability of remaining below 2 degrees C.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s proposed a budget of 1000 billion tonnes (Gt) of CO2 starting from 2011 that would give the planet a 66% chance of avoiding 2 °C warming.

But Kevin Anderson of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research notes that between 2011 and 2014 CO2 emissions from energy production amounted to about 140 GT of CO2, and when he subtracts emissions from deforestation and cement production through the year 2100 (60 Gt and 150 GT), then at the current global rate of 35 GT per year, the remaining 650 GT would be used up in just 19 years!

This puts the climate talks in Paris in perspective. There is no time for low initial national “contributions” with “ratcheting up ambition” after 5 or 10 year review periods. The entire carbon budget will be gone by 2034!

 In our posts at the start of the Summit we indicated why the numbers Sandler is using here are too optimistic. The 2-degree guard-rail provides no safety and even 1 degree is fraught with hazard. We need to get into net sequestration mode, ASAP, but the legal mechanisms for doing that are tricky. Sandler suggests:
If an outright ban is politically unfeasible and the goal is really to leave the fuels in the ground, then the global community must set an internationally agreed-upon limit that countries could sign on to, and to create an institution to regulate the budget under a declining permit system. This is the approach advocated by the group CapGlobalCarbon. The permits would be sold to the upstream fossil fuel companies, and the scarcity rent would be returned to the public as climate dividends. Representatives from CapGlobalCarbon will be attending the climate conference in Paris, and will call for the creation of a Global Climate Commons Trust to set up a science-based permit system that follows the Cap & Share model. Whereas the UNFCCC is comprised of countries, the Trust would represent all of humanity on the basis of “one person, one share.” 
The math is clear: there is a fossil fuel bubble. There is more coal and oil in the ground than we can safely burn. In this framing, the Paris climate conference is really an economic conference, perched on the brink of a market crash in the fossil fuel sector. The solution is to leave the fuel in the ground, and set up a price signal to allow a managed retreat from an obsolete industry, and protect the public by sending climate dividends back to households.
This is precisely the approach we advocated in July 2012 in our post, “Toward a Unified Field Theory of the Elusive Kyoto Particle, or What the Green Party might learn from the Alaska Permanent Fund”
"The Alaska Permanent Fund can be seen as a successful example of a universal basic income — a natural resource dividend. It de-externalizes the price of nature — our primary economy in the final analysis. It makes it possible, by valuating pollution and depletion of limited resources, to save whales and glaciers. And it builds a buffer against hard times ahead when drill-baby-drill turns dry-baby-dry.

"We can stop injecting more by one of two ways: making it aninternational crime and enforcing sanctions; or putting a price on licenses to pollute and steadily shrinking the supply of permits, thereby gradually raising the price until only the most cost-effective projects can compete.”
Recently George Monbiot reached the conclusion that by not counting the production side of the ledger we were falsely congratulating ourselves for lowering our consumption by means of efficiency and other measures. This is a colossal hoax, Monbiot said, tantamount to accounting fraud.
We can persuade ourselves that we are living on thin air, floating through a weightless economy, as gullible futurologists predicted in the 1990s. But it’s an illusion, created by the irrational accounting of our environmental impacts. This illusion permits an apparent reconciliation of incompatible policies.
Governments urge us both to consume more and to conserve more. We must extract more fossil fuel from the ground, but burn less of it. We should reduce, reuse and recycle the stuff that enters our homes, and at the same time increase, discard and replace it. How else can the consumer economy grow? We should eat less meat, to protect the living planet, and eat more meat, to boost the farming industry. These policies are irreconcilable. The new analyses suggest that economic growth is the problem, whether or not the word sustainable is bolted to the front of it.
It’s not just that we don’t address this contradiction. Scarcely anyone dares even to name it. It’s as if the issue is too big, too frightening to contemplate. We seem unable to face the fact that our utopia is also our dystopia; that production appears to be indistinguishable from destruction.
Reaching out and welcoming the new elephant is a positive step, because that beast brings with it some very powerful solutions to our present dilemma.


COP21 should include "Grieving"

SUBHEAD: Grieving is not surrender but an acceptance of what can’t be changed and a commitment to what can be accomplished.

By Robert Jensen on 30 November 2015 for TelesurTV -

Image above: Photograph of the "Plain Radical" Jim Koplin in middle age. From (http://healingourworldandourselves.org/robert-jensen/).

This 21st round of the U.N. Conference of Parties (COP21) hopes for an agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions to hold the global temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

That’s an ambitious goal, mocked by some as idealistic, but there’s nothing wrong with ambition yoked to ideals. Still, goals also must be realistic, consistent with the laws of physics and chemistry, and honest about the possibilities within, and the impediments created by, the world’s economic and political systems.

Here’s one of the toughest parts of those realities we have to grapple with: Even if leaders produce a serious agreement with enforcement mechanisms, we will not be living in the same kind of world in which people created those social systems. The consequences of human recklessness define our future.

Even if pledges for emission reductions being discussed by world leaders were to be achieved, we are going to see potentially catastrophic global warming by the end of this century, and likely far earlier.

The scientific community’s consensus on climate change includes not only models about what likely will happen if we don’t curtail emissions, but the extent of the warming already locked in by past emissions and the intensifying effects of climate feedback loops.

Grieving is not surrender but an acceptance of what can’t be changed and a commitment to what can be accomplished, within limits the ecosphere sets.

And climate disruption is only one part of the story of ecological degradation. Predictions are a fool’s game, but look at any critical measure of the health of the ecosphere on which our lives depend—groundwater depletion, topsoil loss, chemical contamination, increased toxicity in our own bodies, the number and size of “dead zones” in the oceans, accelerating extinction of species and reduction of biodiversity—and ask a simple question: Are we heading in the right direction?

Whether or not we want to confront any of this politically, many people have at least a visceral sense of what is coming. If we want to begin shaping a livable future, we should start grieving, collectively, for what we have lost and likely will lose.

Grieving is not surrender but an acceptance of what can’t be changed and a commitment to what can be accomplished, within limits the ecosphere sets. We understand the importance of such grieving in personal contexts, when we lose loved ones, and now we need to apply it to the planet, together.

My friend Jim Koplin was the first person I knew who had faced these realities, decades ago, long before these crises were headline news. Jim was radicalized by the social movements of the 1960s and shaped by his rural roots in the dirt of the Depression-era farm on which he was born.

As he focused on social justice, critiquing the domination/subordination dynamic at the heart of exploitation within the human family, he was increasingly more alarmed about the effects of humans’ attempts to dominate the larger living world.

Because he refused to turn away from reality, later in his life Jim confided to his friends, “I wake up every morning in a state of profound grief.”

Jim wasn’t unhappy with his life or depressed. His grief, not only for people suffering but also for the destruction of the living systems of the world, didn’t lead him to retreat. Until he died at 79, Jim was actively engaged in political projects, public education efforts, and community organizing.

His capacity to face difficult truths was a source of strength, and so important to me that after his death I wrote a book about him, Plain Radical, offering his wisdom to those who never met him.

Jim helped me understand that there are no solutions to multiple, cascading ecological crises if we insist on maintaining the high-energy/high-technology existence lived in much of the industrialized world (and desired by many currently excluded from it).

Even many tough-minded activists willing to challenge unjust concentrations of wealth and power are reluctant to let go of a commitment to this so-called “lifestyle,” which has not produced a culture of life but a kind of death cult, a society that values cheap pleasures and cheap toys more than healthy people and a healthy planet.

When we refuse to grieve for what is passing away, we are more likely to cling irrationally to ways of living that cannot be sustained. When we cannot acknowledge the deep sorrow of what is lost, we scramble to hide from the reality of the loss and perpetuate the illusion that we can continue on this course.

That’s why a collective grieving process should be a priority for us all, helping us let go of the delusion that we can maintain unsustainable systems.

The technological fundamentalists—those who believe we can defy all limits and invent our way out of any crisis—will tell us we need to use our imaginations. I agree, but our task is not to imagine a narcissistic science-fiction future. A decent human future—perhaps the possibility of a human future at all—depends on our ability to imagine a new relationship to the larger living world.

• Robert Jensen is a professor in the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin and board member of the Third Coast Activist Resource Center in Austin. He is the author of Plain Radical: Living, Loving, and Learning to Leave the Planet Gracefully (Counterpoint/Soft Skull, 2015).

No permit for TMT on Mauna Kea

SOURCE: Jonathan Jay (jjkauai@gmail.com)
SUBHEAD: The permit allowing the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea has been thrown out by the Hawaii Supreme Court.

By Staff on 2 December 2015 for Big Island Video News -

Image above: Page of the Hawaii Supreme Court's judgement against the Thirty Meter Telescope proposed on Mauna Kea From original article.

The permit allowing the Thirty Meter Telescope to be built and operated on Mauna Kea has been thrown out by the Hawaii Supreme Court.

In the conclusion of a 58 page opinion written by Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald, the court vacated the lower circuit court’s “May 5, 2014 Decision and Order Affirming Board of Land and Natural Resources, State of Hawaii’s Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Decision and Order Granting Conservation District Use Permit for the Thirty Meter Telescope at the Mauna Kea Science Reserve Dated April 12, 2013, and final judgment thereon.”

The Supreme Court remanded the matter to the circuit court “to further remand to BLNR for proceedings consistent with this opinion, so that a contested case hearing can be conducted before the Board or a new hearing officer, or for other proceedings consistent with this opinion.”

As many predicted after hearing the court’s questions during the oral arguments presented on August 27 (video below), the court found that the Board of Land and Natural Resources “acted improperly when it issued the permit prior to holding a contested case hearing.” The court says BLNR’s February 25, 2011 approval violated Hawaii’s constitutional guarantee of due process.

The appellants who contested the permit and appealed the land board decision – Mauna Kea Anaina Hou, Clarence Kukauakahi Ching, Flores-Case Ohana, Deborah J. Ward, Paul K. Neves, And Kahea: The Hawaiian Environmental Alliance – were represented in court by attorney Richard Naiwieha Wurdeman.

On its Facebook page, the Thirty Meter Telescope wrote that “this is not a judgement against TMT, but rather against the State’s process in granting the permits. We’ll have an official statement for you shortly.”

Associate Justice Richard W. Pollack wrote this concurring opinion, which was joined by Associate Justice Michael D. Wilson:
V. Conclusion
This case illustrates the interweaving nature of the various provisions of our constitution. When rights as integral as the exercise of Native Hawaiian customs and traditions are implicated by a proposed action, our constitution provides several safeguards that combine to preserve those rights.

In this case, the Board was asked to grant a permit to UH for the construction of an astronomical observatory on the summit of Mauna Kea, an area sacred to Native Hawaiians. Because the project could infringe upon the constitutional right of Native Hawaiians to exercise their customs and traditions, the guarantees of Article XII, Section 7, the public trust obligations of the State under Article XI, Section 7, and the due process protections encompassed by Article I, Section 5 were all triggered to constitutionally safeguard the continued practice of Native Hawaiian customs and traditions.

Under the foregoing constitutional provisions and the precedents of this court, the Board’s obligations were to protect Native Hawaiian customs and traditions to the extent feasible, to effectuate the values of the public trust, and to provide a procedure befitting the compelling interests at stake. To perform these obligations, the Board was required to decide UH’s application pursuant to a decision-making process that incorporates the rights, values, and duties embodied by the constitutional provisions involved. Instead, the Board failed to conduct a contested case hearing before deciding the merits of UH’s application and summarily granted the requested permit without duly accounting for the constitutional rights and values implicated. The Board acted in contravention of the protections of Native Hawaiian customs and traditions provided by Article XII, Section 7; Article XI, Section 7; and Article I, Section 5. Accordingly, as a matter of constitutional law, the permit issued by the Board must be invalidated.

Video above: TMT Case - Due process argued at Hawaii Supreme Court. From (https://youtu.be/-EC1daUFjmQ).

Video above:TMT Case -  Cumulative Conservation District impacts of TMT. From (https://youtu.be/m7s6dwHI_eU).


The biggest Cargo Bike yet

SOURCE: Mads Phikamphon (hej@cykelvalg.dk)
SUBHEAD: A pedal and solar assisted operational cargo bike as big as a truck and evolving further.

By Nico Junge on 30 November 2015 for Ice Bike -

Image above: The 8rad cargo bike on the road with another cargo bike aboard. From original article.

We love cargo bikes, so a few weeks ago we took a look at why cargo bikes are better than delivery trucks.

After reading the article, one of our readers told us about what is probably the biggest cargo bike in the world: The 8rad which is 5 meters long, 2 meters wide and supported by 8 wheels!

In this interview we talk with the creator of the 8rad, Nico Jungel. We talk with Nico about why he build the 8rad, how he did it and what his next projects are.

How did you decide to build the 8rad?
A real decision wasn’t made, it was more a series of steps that i took one by one. Maybe the decision was taken when I bought 8 high-end wheels for too much money and placed them on the floor in a 5x2m dimension. After that I couldn’t go back.

More generally spoken, the idea of building the bike is a mixture of the way of life I have taken. I once gave up living in flats, bought a van and lived a mobile, nomadic life.

I liked the idea not to have walls and only a few things, but cars cost money, a lot of money, they pollute, are way too heavy in proportion to what they carry and so on.

Coming from some kind of squatting and being involved in ‘right to the city’ movements, I wanted to change something and create a vision. I needed a new mobile space that fits my demands and I was also eager to built something new. I knew that I would need at least 8 square meters and this led me to the fact that I would have to have 8 wheels. 4 wheels would have to be able to steer and so on.

The 8rad is somehow more a chain of solutions, but in the beginning there was an idea of a mobile, pedal-powered space.

Was it difficult to build?
It was sooo difficult. I had never built a bike before and because I had just moved to Berlin, my friends weren’t there to start a group project. I had to gain all the knowledge, but it’s all on the internet and one just has to combine what is there. I don’t know how people did it before the internet.

I also checked every concrete truck I saw and crawled underneath them. Learning is super easy today and I can just encourage everyone to watch, read and try.

I failed many times and it was obvious that the project was too big for one person, but once I have something in my mind there is no other way (and yes, I spend way too much money on my projects).

As a side note, the 8rad could be even bigger. German traffic regulations only speak of ‘vehicle dimension’ which are 12 meters long, 2.5 meters wide and 4 meters high if I remember correctly. And one shouldn’t be too much concerned with laws when inventing new stuff, laws can be changed…

Image above: parked 8rad with cargo aboard. From original article.

How is it to bike the 8rad?
It’s pretty easy, it moves when you touch the pedals. Most people are surprised once they start pedaling. Of course it needs mirrors and it takes a lot of space, but supplied with an electric motor (solarpowered ONLY!) one can ride it alone.

Because it has independent wheel suspension it’s super-smooth. I never understood why no one else took the decision to use independent wheel suspension, but recently, some projects (4-wheelers) have appeared.

But to be honest, the 8rad is still a prototype. I would like to change and improve many things, so if there’s someone with money or material/parts to spend – please contact me!

How often do you use it?
I don’t use it that much. It’s more an utopian idea, a vision to inspire other people. It’s shown at fairs, takes part in demonstrations/parades and other public events. Due to time and money I choose events that reach many people and support it’s transportation vision.

Instead of the almost empty words of clean, safe and silent cities, the 8rad proves that cities can look different. It proves that a lot of transport can easily be done by bike and that there’s an alternative to cars. If a bike of that size can drive and load (up to 500kg), then it should be obvious that regular cargo bikes can easily replace a lot of car transportation.

Has there been any problems using the 8rad?

There have been technical problems. For example cheap chains that crash too many times because I haven’t got money for good chains.

But people are always happy when they see the bike. I have not met a a single angry car driver being upset that I block the street. I think if you want to change things, you better give a positive suggestion. It’s always possible to do something radical without people noticing it and without getting upset because they like it too much.

Image above: Covered version of cargo bike is 8rad2 covered with solar PV panels and with an electric motor for additional power. From original article.

What is a traffic activist?
I think there has been written and discussed a lot when it comes to city development. Almost everyone is an expert or at least has an opinion when it comes to gentrification.

I always liked the spaces in between things and so the streets are that kind of space for me. I think there should be more protests about traffic/transportation and air pollution in cities. There are more good solutions when it comes to architecture, but very few when it comes to traffic (except in the Netherlands…).

I want to shift focus so that’s why I use that term.

A common objection to car free cities is cargo transportation
Well, mostly there’s very little cargo in cars. People are always surprised what a cargo bike can carry (or a bicycle trailer – I don’t know why they are not more popular).

Bicycles take way less space and traffic would be much faster than if the deliveries were done by car. Parcels could be delivered faster and just think of how cheap bicycles are compared to cars (both when buying the product AND when doing maintenance).

Technically speaking, there exist very good solutions for cargo bikes on 2, 3 or even 4 wheels. Cargo bikes with load capacities from 80 to 300 kg.

It’s a political question, not a technical one. People are beginning to see the advantages of bicycles and there are more and more cargo bikes around. There are also more cargo bike producers and especially in Germany do I notice a very active atmosphere.

But I don’t think that there will be carefree cities. I’m not very fond of absolute positions, but understand that some protest forms need them to underline their demands. I like diversity and think there need to be taken closer looks at what can be done and how it can be done.

I think a really good and well planned public transport system, e.g. fast-lanes for bicycles and seperate car/bike-traffic like in Copenhagen, would improve things a lot.

In berlin the fastest way to get around, even on a 14 km distance, is by bike.

People are also buying less stuff in the shops because they order things on the net, so the need to carry things decreases and the need for improved business-to-consumer delivery increases (there are interesting solutions for that, e.g. in Paris where they bring goods via boat to the center of the city and then cargo bikes pick up parcels from the boat).

From time to time I work as a craftsman, and you can’t imagine the advantages of being able to get tools to the inner city without having to find a parking space and without having to pay for parking.

Video above: Demonstration of flatbed 8rad on the road. From (http://nicojungel.net/space.html) (https://vimeo.com/97304992).

Video above: Covered 8rad2 on the road. Plans are for electric motor suplement power from solar PV panels. From (http://nicojungel.net/solar.html) (https://vimeo.com/105572244).

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: China's Bubble of Millionaires 6/14/14
Ea O Ka Aina: European Cargo Bikes 9/29/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Trike Home & Turf 6/6/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Cargo Electric Bikes 11/4/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Cargo Tricycles 1/4/12 
Ea O Ka Aina: The Chinese Wheelbarrow 1/4/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Depend on your Wheelbarrow 11/7/10