Zero Emissions and Hawaiian Ahupuaa

SUBHEAD: 2010 World Congress on Zero Emissions to explore Native Hawaiian practices on Ahupuaa.
Image above: The NELHA Hawaii Gateway Energy Center (HGEC) on Kailua Kona is a sustainable, zero-net energy multi-use facility. From article.
By Jamie Winpenny on 31 August 2010 for the Hawaii Independent -
The Ancient Hawaiian ahupuaa system of land management evolved to protect its natural resources and supported a thriving population. Today, Hawaii’s brightest minds are looking to combine the latest modern technology with traditional ways of managing our islands’ resources in order to live sustainably. Enterprise Honolulu is a nonprofit organization that facilitates work on Hawaii’s infrastructure and planning issues in order to move the state towards energy independence and food self-sufficiency. At the World Congress on Zero Emissions Initiatives from September 13 to 17 at the Hawaii Convention Center, Enterprise Honolulu will share how innovations related to food, water, housing, health, energy, transportation, and waste will provide new job opportunities in Hawaii. The congress will also explore ways to integrate human production, consumption, and waste systems using established indigenous and ecological resource management models, as well as proven technologies as discussed in the upcoming book The Blue Economy by keynote speaker Gunter Pauli—the founder of Zero Emissions Research Initiatives. The conference features an impressive roster of international keynote speakers, among them master navigator and Hawaiian culture scion Nainoa Thompson. Bhutan’s Honorable Minister of Education Lyonpo Thakur S. Powdyel will be discussing his country’s adoption of the concept of Gross National Happiness, which prioritized sustainable development and the preservation of cultural and environmental resources. Dozens of local experts on these subjects are also slated to speak. The conference will also feature a wide range of exhibitors, government agencies, and green-thinking businesses. A youth program on Thursday, September 16 will offer up to 1,000 Hawaii students the chance to speak with the keynote speakers about new ways to innovate. Mark McGuffie is the managing director of Enterprise Honolulu’s Oahu Economic Development Board. The Hawaii Independent asked Mr. McGuffie a few questions about the World Congress on Zero Emissions. What is the most immediately actionable goal of the Congress on Zero Emissions? One of the goals of The World Congress on Zero Emissions Initiatives is to realize that we can achieve abundance in our systems for human needs in the areas of energy, food, health, housing, transportation, waste, and water by using what we have. Today, systems in these areas are not fully integrated—often wasteful and designed in silos rather than using an inclusive process. This is a time to come together with experts and people from around the world interested in solutions to learn and share about innovations that are proven. We are dedicating time to address “conflict resolution in a system” as a vital part of this process. One of the stated goals of the Congress is to build “social capital.” Please explain what this means and how it can be achieved. Building social capital is the ability to tell the story large enough for everyone to see their role being included as a stakeholder in a more prosperous future. What specifically about the indigenous native Hawaiian ahupuaa resource management system resonates with Zero Emissions Research Initiatives? The ahupuaa is a prosperity model. Not a sustaining model. After many years of refinement, the ahupuaa was designed to ensure that everybody and everything thrived. All natural resources were managed to improve rather than deplete. Everyone had a role to that end—kuleana. How do we bring this wisdom forward to today? Only 250 years ago Hawaii had a thriving population. Everyone was fed, housed, and nurtured. There were no imports, no exports, and no waste. The overarching value of aloha prevailed for each other and everything. I leave you with these questions: What could/should the modern ahupuaa look like to you?
See also:

In Search of Real Security - One

SUBHEAD: The result of placing the military as a top priority is to leave ordinary people fighting amongst themselves.

By Jon Letman on 30 August 2010 in the Hawaiian Independent - (
Image above: RIMPAC 2010 beach assault exercise this summer. From article.

Ours is a nation obsessed with security. Two months after the bitter sting of the 9/11 attacks, the federal government formed the Transportation Security Administration and, one year later, the Department of Homeland Security. In the decade that has followed we have been pounded with talk of security in every aspect of our lives: from computer security and private home security to food and energy security, national security, nuclear security, and global security.

Yet as we approach our ninth year of war and occupation in Afghanistan and our eighth in Iraq, Americans have seen security at home eroded by financial collapse, a neglected infrastructure, a hemorrhaging job market, anemic social services and public health care crisis, volatile energy and food markets, and the complex realities of climate change.

In the face of home foreclosures, bankruptcy, and unemployment with many Americans’ income flat or falling and funding for basic civil institutions like public schools, libraries, and parks in decline, the question screams: “What is real security?”

When parents cannot keep their jobs, children cannot go to school, and families cannot stay in their homes, who in America today feels secure?

Typically in the United States, “security” is viewed in terms of freedom from violence, war, or the threat of terrorism. Throughout Bush’s two terms, Americans were incessantly told that preemptive war and victory in Iraq and Afghanistan were “vital to our national security.”

But if America’s embrace of militarism and a vast new untrackable surveillance culture is meant to reassure citizens that their security is being protected, at a minimum, Nidal Hassan, Faisal Shahzad, Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, and Najibullah Zazi have all demonstrated that sending well over 1 million U.S. troops to fight and occupy Iraq and Afghanistan, and spending over one trillion dollars on two wars since 2001 has not made us more secure, but less.

During the Cold War, President Dwight Eisenhower said: “We need an adequate defense, but every arms dollar we spend above adequacy has a long-term effect upon the nation and its security.” On another occasion, Eisenhower was quoted saying, “We will bankrupt ourselves in the vain search for absolute security.” Following the September 11 hijackings, America’s airports were swept up in a new atmosphere of absolute insecurity. 
Quickly, and with almost no resistance, Americans were tossing out baby formula and toothpaste, removing shoes and belts and being swabbed for explosive residue every time they boarded an airplane. At home and in the office we learned that our computers, telephones, credit cards, financial transactions, retail purchases, library visits, email and internet activity, and telephone calls were all fair game for surveillance. 
By 2010 untold thousands of ordinary American citizens had been added to terrorist watch lists and “no-fly lists” as a growing number of airports began using full body x-ray machines to project what are effectively nude images of us to security screeners all in the name of security. As of August 2010, over 4,417 Americans have died in Iraq and 1,244 have died in Afghanistan. 
These numbers are dwarfed by the poorly recorded hundreds of thousands of civilians killed in those countries and a whole new generation of war veterans who have been severely injured, permanently disabled or driven to suicide. In January of this year the Veterans Affairs Department reported that suicides by male veterans (18 to 29 years old) between 2005 and 2007 had increased by 26 percent.

Like his predecessor, President Barack Obama regularly talks about security as it relates to the military in occupied Iraq and Afghanistan and at 770 U.S. military facilities in 39 countries around the world. Speaking before 2010 graduating cadets at West Point, Barack Obama said: “You go abroad because your service is fundamental to our security back home.” 
In an earlier speech also at West Point, Obama called success in Afghanistan a “vital national security interest.” During the 2008 presidential campaign, then-vice presidential candidate Joe Biden said that Obama understood that the next president must be “Commander-in-Chief for America’s security around the world.”
Other politicians from Hawaii, like Obama, may talk about “living aloha,” but the word “security” is never far from their lips. In his opening statement at a hearing on the 2011 Department of Defense Budget this June, Sen. Daniel Inouye said: “We need only to look at words spoken and actions taken ... by North Korea, Iran, and China to be reminded that our national security challenges go beyond those of irregular warfare.” 
Sen. Daniel Akaka, who serves on committees and sub-committees overseeing Department of Homeland Security affairs, recently spoke about the importance of foreign language proficiency and cultural awareness as a vital tool for protecting national security. 
At a Senate hearing on the need to improve foreign language skills among Foreign Service officers, Akaka said, “Threats to our national security are becoming more complex, interconnected, and unconventional.” Language shortfalls, Akaka warned, “will continue to undermine our country’s national security.” Republican Congressman Charles Djou, who won a special election in May after his two Democratic opponents split the vote, includes the following passage on his campaign website: “Hawaii has a unique and critical role in our national security. 
Our island chain is home to key military bases and stations, thousands of military personnel, and various strategic operations ... America must maintain its strong military and Hawaii must retain its central role in military preparedness.” Like Djou, his presumed opponent in the upcoming midterm election, Democrat Colleen Hanabusa, also talks of Afghanistan as a “direct threat to our national security.” Her campaign website reads: “Afghanistan has proven to be a training ground and refuge for terrorists, rendering it a more direct threat to our national security than Iraq. 
I support President Obama’s decision to send over 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan ...” Last month, Inouye and Akaka joined Djou in voting for an additional $37 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Only Rep. Mazie Hirono (2nd Dist.) voted against the war funding bill. Earlier this month Hirono briefly participated in a community forum on Kauai entitled “In Search of Real Security for Kauai.” 
The panel discussion, organized by the Kauai Alliance for Peace and Social Justice, invited Rep. Hirono to join four speakers from Kauai and Oahu for an evening of ideas and discussion of how to pursue real security in an era of economic distress, social dislocation, climate change, and perennial militarism. 
The forum opened with filmmaker and author (The Superferry Chronicles) Koohan Paik of Kauai sharing the stage with community organizer KipuKai Kualii. Paik and Kualii discussed real security in terms of government spending priorities with an emphasis on the militarized state of Hawaii and how they say that money could be better used.

Paik, born in California but raised in South Korea and Guam before moving to Kauai in 2000, spoke of the importance of viewing Hawaii from a Pacific island perspective. “We always hear Hawaii being described as ‘out in the middle of nowhere’ or as ‘the most isolated place on the planet,’ but these descriptions are from a staunchly continental perspective.” “The ocean,” Paik said, “connects us all into a single blue continent.” Stressing the cultural, historical, and linguistic ties between all Pacific peoples, Paik said, “We need to see the connection between Hawaii and all the Pacific islands because the military certainly does. 
Part of the [U.S.] military’s build-up on Guam is a missile defense shield hooked up to a network that includes the Pacific Missile Range Facility [on Kauai], Kwajalein [Marshall Islands], Vandenberg Air force Base, and Okinawa.” Paik, who recently wrote on militarism in Guam and the Pacific, said the militarization of the Pacific (which she points out ironically means ‘peace’) is antithetical to real security for the people whose environment, culture, and well-being is adversely impacted by the military. “If we think of ourselves [in the Pacific] as separate, we will always be a small, disempowered population, isolated and in the middle of nowhere,” Paik said. 
“But if we think of ourselves as connected by the ocean, we can be a viable political block.” Paik said real security and sustainability won’t come until people in the Pacific detach themselves from militarism, corporatism, and what she calls the “colonial thinking that power and abundance come from outside rather than within.” 
During her presentation, Paik cited statistics and examples of how she said a militarized Pacific did not serve the interest of its people. According to the National Priorities Project, the United States has spent more than $1,070,000,000 (one trillion, seventy billion dollars) on the war in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001. This works out to nearly $3.5 billion for the people of Hawaii alone. 
After her talk, people approached her and said they didn’t realize how much was being spent on the military. Real security, Paik said, will come when Hawaii is not dominated by military spending but instead supports more immediate human needs—health, education, preservation of the environment, sustainable energy, and fostering a culture the builds rather than destroys. 
“We cannot continuously expand as if the earth’s resources are infinite,” Paik said. The result of placing the military as a top priority, she explained, is to leave ordinary people fighting amongst themselves, scrambling for whatever scraps are left. Paik’s address was followed by Kualii, who suggested “real security” would come by addressing immediate community needs, specifically poverty, un(and under)-employment, hunger, and affordable housing.
 “Imagine what could happen if we decided what security is and how to meet the basic human needs of everyone in our community,” Kualii said. Item by item, Kualii spelled out deficiencies in caring for members of society, arguing that a nation committed to real security would reassess its priorities in favor of, at a minimum, funding for basic medical care, housing, and food needs for society’s most vulnerable members—the very old and the very young. 
Citing County of Kauai Economic Development Plan statistics, Kualii referred to four communities on Kauai with poverty rates well above the statewide rate of 10.7 percent. Part of a strategy to counter a growing dependency on the local food bank (Kualii said over 50,000 people were fed by Hawaii foodbanks in 2006) would be to expand certified community kitchens as cottage industry around the island. 
A reassessment of funding priorities, Kualii suggested, could better support food stamps, children’s healthcare, and housing programs while promoting job creation programs, sustainable business development, and workforce training. 
With 15.5 percent of Hawaii’s workforce either unemployed or under-employed and around 35 percent of Kauai households qualifying as economically needy, Kualii said real security was far away. Kualii noted that between the comprehensive studies Hunger in America 2006 and Hunger in America 2010, Hawaii residents receiving emergency food assistance from food banks increased by nearly 40 percent to a total of 14 percent of Hawaii’s population. 
A society in which large segments of the population lack adequate shelter, food, or medicine—one in which social services and agencies rely largely on unpaid staff and volunteers and where people are increasingly unable to pay for housing—is a society lacking real security, Kualii said. Part Two of Jon Letman’s “In Search of Real Security” for The Hawaii Independent will feature further insights from the Kauai Alliance for Peace and Social Justice’s community forum on August 7 as well as a closer look into developing our food and environmental security.

In Search of Real Security: Part Two
Ea O Ka Aina: In Search of Real Security - Part Two 8/31/10

In Search of Real Security - Two

SOURCE: Jon Letman (
SUBHEAD: We need to step back from the abyss. We need to figure out a different way to relate to each other on this small planet.
By Jon Letman on 30 August 2010 in the Hawaiian Independent - (
A discussion on Kauai in August explored the impacts of a U.S. economy too intensely focused on its military operations overseas. Real security, it was said, will come when Hawaii is not dominated by military spending but instead supports more immediate human needs: health, education, preservation of the environment, sustainable energy, and fostering a culture the builds rather than destroys. Invited by the Kauai Alliance for Peace and Social Justice, organizers of a community forum on the meaning of real security on August 7, Congresswoman Mazie Hirono (D—District 2) arrived during the second speaker’s presentation. Bisecting a discussion that examined how militarism affected real security for Hawaii’s people, Hirono gave her own short presentation in which she briefly addressed education, creation of green jobs, the BP oil spill, GMO crops, the Akaka Bill, and her vote against the request for an additional $37 billion in war funding. Hirono, who is running for reelection in November’s midterm election, said she had “serious and growing concerns about funding for the war in Afghanistan.” She added that she did not think peace would be brought to the region through the military. Security, Hirono said, also means economic, food, and energy security and that the way to become more secure is through education. “We need to enable our kids to be able to think critically and in an environment that is supportive,” Hirono said. After answering questions, without hearing the speakers before or after her, Hirono departed, leaving American Friends Service Committee Hawaii program director Kyle Kajihiro to offer his thoughts on the meaning of real security. Kajihiro examined security in terms of militarization and how it impacts Hawaii. He said he wants to challenge “the myth that empire equals peace and security.” To remain in a constant state of warfare, even in the absence of open hostilities, is to build on the threat of violence for the purpose of maintaining control and to suppress dissent, Kajihiro said. The impact of war stretches from Afghanistan and Iraq to Makua Valley and Schofield Barracks on Oahu where soldiers train and perfect their craft. “If the people of Hawaii don’t take action to stop these illegal wars, we become [not only] accessories to these crimes,” Kajihiro said, “but also their victims.” “Look at Ke Awalau o Puuloa, what is now called ‘Pearl Harbor,’” Kajihiro continued. “This is a perfect example of a threat to real security under military occupation. What once was a food basket for Oahu with 36 fish ponds has become a giant toxic ‘Superfund site.’ What once gave life is now a toxic place for exporting and planning wars.” Kajihiro went on to revisit the history of 20th century American and Japanese militarism in the Pacific, describing what he called the disastrous outcomes of the false premise that a loaded gun can somehow bring security. He suggested an alternative to the current model would be one based on meeting human needs and working toward a healthy, clean environment that sustains life. The very notion of security in the United States today, Kajihiro explained, is based on the pursuit of something absolute and unattainable. “In order to have our humanity intact, we have to have dialogue and openness and that requires some risk,” Kajihiro said. “To paraphrase theologian Dorothee Sölle, ‘societies, like all living things, need air and light to live.’” The casualties can be seen in Hawaii from injured war vets to Hawaii’s “homeless” who are overlooked by a society obsessed with achieving a false sense of security through its military at any cost, even its own people. Kajihiro was followed by the final speaker of the evening, Andrea Brower, co-director of Malama Kauai, a non-profit organization that works toward innovative and sustainable solutions for the island. Brower acknowledged the relatively small turnout for the forum stemmed, in part, from a combination of people feeling powerless or lacking the belief that they are sufficiently informed to participate. “In a capitalist worker economy where the cost of living is so high, people are tired from working two, even three jobs. It makes people blank out,” Brower said. “To really examine the problems of the world can feel like everything is unraveling.” Brower said that problems can appear so vast and complex that people can’t imagine how they can do anything to effect change and as a result disengage or tune out. To remedy that, Brower suggests people consider their own passions toward positive social transformation and ecological renewal and commit themselves to working toward the ideas and values they hold. Brower said contributing to positive change can take many forms including volunteering, politics, media, education, or something as simple as growing one’s own food in a home garden. “If every person on this island was engaged in contributing to our community and to the land and committed to positive social change in a way that inspired and excited them, I think we would be on a different path,” Brower said. “I think we need to reinvigorate our culture with compassion and a sense of connection to other people on the planet, to recognize our common humanity.” Asked if Hawaii can claim real security now, Brower was clear: “No, definitely not.” She pointed to global sustainability challenges from oil insecurity, economic insecurity, militarization, resource depletion, and climate change as forces which compromise true security in destabilizing and unpredictable ways. But Brower cited a long list of areas where greater security could be fostered by changes to local agriculture, energy use and production, construction and waste disposal practices, public transportation and stronger community networks. A few ideas that Brower suggested would lead to real security for Kauai included the full enforcement of Hawaii’s water right laws; incentivizing soil restoration; support for the development of local food processing facilities; a greater emphasis on eating locally-grown food; expansion of farmer and garden education programs; the creation of smaller, community-owned energy systems; and the production of more local building material and a revision of building codes to allow for its use. Organizers of the forum estimate the turnout was between 50 and 60 people. A public event related to GMO crops one week later drew roughly twice as many people, yet forum participants and organizers of the real security forum were not disappointed. Raymond Catania with the Kauai Alliance for Peace and Social Justice said participation was consistent with national trends. “Some people asked, ‘aren’t you just preaching to the choir?’” Catania said. “But it is important to preach to the choir so they can sing to the community.” “It was good Kauai Alliance did this because I don’t think anyone else has,” said community organizer KipuKai Kualii. “I do think there is value in this type of discussion in that it motivates people.” Kajihiro agreed: “We need more conversations that reframe security in this way. The question of security has not been asked from the viewpoint of ordinary people. Real peace and security is something we can have through solidarity, rather than force of arms. Real security will not be gained through threats to others.” “Today we have so much power and technology that is supposed to make us secure, yet it achieves the exact opposite. It’s a dead end approach,” Kajihiro added. “We need to step back from the abyss. We need to figure out a different way to relate to each other on this small planet.” The three-and-a-half hour forum was unreported by local media.
In Search of Real Security: Part One

Hawaiian addicted to Lineage II

SUBHEAD: "Lineage II" leaves an Oahu man unable to wake, bathe and dress, a lawsuit alleges.

By Gene Park on 28 October 2010 in the Star Advertiser -

Image above: Computer screen background designed from "Lineage II" computer game graphics. From (

[IB Publisher's note: From the graphics of the game I'd suggest the addiction in question is related to middleage men lusting to be nubile young women who can run around stabbing anything that moves.]  

An Ewa Beach man is claiming he is unable to bathe, dress himself or wake up in the day due to alleged "phenomena of psychological dependence and addiction" to a video game created by a South Korean developer. Craig Smallwood, 51, filed a lawsuit against developer NCSoft Corp. last October with several charges including emotional distress and misrepresentation.

Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Alan Kay granted NCSoft's motion to dismiss half of the eight charges, allowing the lawsuit to proceed. Smallwood, who did not return a call for comment yesterday, alleges that the 2003 release "Lineage II" caused "extreme and serious emotional distress and depression."

Smallwood, who says he is a disabled veteran, also alleges that he has been "unable to function independently in usually daily activities such as getting up, getting dressed, bathing or communicating with family and friends."

He claims to have been hospitalized for three weeks and that he now needs treatment and therapy three times a week because of the game. In his Aug. 4 decision, Kay dismissed the charges of misrepresentation/deceit, unfair and deceptive trade practices, intentional infliction of emotional distress and punitive damages. NCSoft still faces counts of defamation, negligence, gross negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

"Lineage II" is a massive multiplayer online role-playing game with a medieval fantasy setting. Smallwood claims he spent more than 20,000 hours playing the game from 2004 to 2009. "NCSoft is discretionary and discriminatory in its applications of the rules," Smallwood said in his original October complaint. "Often they will allow certain players to break rules ... while they enforce these rules on others."

Smallwood asserts that he continues to this day to have a "compulsive urge and need" to play the game, that he never received any warning from the company about the danger of addiction and that he would not have bought and played the game if he would become addicted to it.

 Local law firm Bronster & Hoshibata, which represents NCSoft in the case, said Smallwood "fails to properly allege facts that would support each element of the emotional distress claim.

As such, Smallwood has failed to properly give notice to NCSoft of the claims levied against it." NCSoft also claims that Smallwood was banned from his game accounts because of his involvement with real money transfers, which is forbidden by the user agreement and rules of conduct of the game.

See also:

Oil Addiction & Identity

SUBHEAD: The roots of oil addiction lead to ourdeepest beliefs about who we are, what the world is.

By Scott Brown on 30 August 2010 in Speaking Truth to Power - 
Image above: Detail of painting of the Greek goddess of the soul "Psyche Carried Off by Zephrs" by Pierre Paul Proudhon in 1808. From ( 

As much as anybody, I want to see the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico be the final wake up call needed to move our society away from oil and other fossil fuels. One likely outcome of the tragedy will be an upwelling of activism toward that end.

And yet, if the past 40 years of environmentalism are any indication, the transition will continue to be too little too late, and the collapse of civilization as we know it will continue unabated.


 Because there is a vitally important piece of the equation that continues to go missing in the culture of environmentalism and in society in general. That piece can be summed up in a single word: psyche (as in psychological).

It's a word you don't hear much. And yet, in so many ways, it's the most important word in the world. The word psyche comes from the Greek and means "soul" or "mind" or the "breath of life." Our addiction to oil is a psychological phenomenon.

The roots of oil addiction lead directly to our thinking, to our deepest beliefs about who we are, what the world is, and how we are to be in the world. For the vast majority of us North Americans, our worldviews and core beliefs include entitlement, superiority, and a sense of separation from each other and nature.

Much of what informs these beliefs is unconscious. Core beliefs are "core" precisely because they were formed early in our lives, well before the rational aspects of the brain came online.

They create our most basic personality traits and habits. Core beliefs can be worked with but it takes awareness, time, and energy. It's our thinking that has created the different crises we face today - environmental, economic, and social.

They didn't just happen. They are not natural phenomena. It's our thinking that creates addiction to luxurious levels of personal comfort, to superiority complexes, and to the most dangerous belief of them all: that we are separate from each other and from nature.

The study of the human-nature split is the territory of ecopsychology. For over thirty years I've been interested in the question of why we are destroying our own life support system and so much of what is beautiful in the world. Ecopsychologists argue that the answer lies in the human-nature split. We are not separate from nature but we think and act as if we are. Such a split leaves us homeless in a very fundamental way.

Out of that homelessness springs insecurity and insatiable appetites that may soothe but never alleviate the deep-seated loneliness, emptiness, and fear we experience. The human-nature split is the primary wound, the "original trauma," to use Chellis Glendinning's phrase, that must be healed if we are to find our way to sustainable lives and societies.

To be sure, separating, or to use the psychological term, individuating, is thought to be an important and natural part of growing up for human beings. It's part of the work of childhood and adolescence. But problems arise when development gets stuck there. Much of the work of adulthood lies in expanding one's circle of identity by experiencing and understanding the interrelationships between and interdependence of things.
Individuality not only remains, it's strengthened by the process of embracing diversity and the interconnected nature of reality. We appreciate ourselves and our unique place in the scheme of things in a more profound way, and at the same time appreciate and respect all other beings more deeply as well.

The move toward healing the human-nature split expands the sense of self in the direction of an eco- or ecological self, a self that includes nature in its circle of identity.

 Developing the eco-self begins with a basic humility. Intellectual understanding can support the process but it ultimately requires direct experience. The human-nature split mirrors the mind-body-spirit split. The result is that huge portions of our experience and awareness is numbed and repressed.
I know the truth of such limitation from my own life. Everything from my disregard for certain insects I come into contact with, to the numbness in my response to the massive oil release in the Gulf, remind me of how much more work I have to do. So while many of us may feel like we get the whole nature thing, we love nature and animals, there is still a basic separateness in play.

As if this weren't already a high enough bar, there's an additional step that's even more challenging. Working to expand one's sense of identity, to develop the eco-self, sets the stage for an even more radical and spiritual experience of oneness - that of No Self.

The concept of No Self speaks to the nondual nature of reality known to many if not all of the wisdom traditions.
The renowned Buddhist monk and peacemaker Thich Nhat Hanh coined the word interbeing to describe this reality. Everything that exists owes its existence to other "things." If we consider the human being deeply enough we can see that we are utterly dependent on sun, rain, soil, mountains, rivers, plants, animals, air, etc.

We simply would not be here without the elements, processes, and other things of the world. Buddhist teaching, for example, explains that everything manifest co-arises with, and is dependent upon, everything else. There is no solid and independent self, to believe otherwise is delusion.

The implications for activism of such a deeply interconnected and spiritual understanding of reality are vast. In obliterating the notion of separateness, enemy images and ideas of "us versus them" fall away. Political action becomes about relationship building and defeating injustice as opposed to defeating people.

 The work of expanding and then dissolving the sense of self is work with the psyche. Because such work is not generally encouraged in the West, we find ourselves handicapped. The connection between adulthood and engaging in a process of becoming increasingly conscious is not readily apparent on the newstands, on TV, and in our educational and political systems.

And yet for us Westerners, since we have wounds unique to our industrial and technological context, it seems that work with the psyche is especially critical. The idea that working proactively with the psyche is critical to our health and well-being, even our survival, does indeed set the bar high. It's why our addiction to oil will likely continue until civilization as we know it collapses. So if psyche is important, what might a healthy, proactive response to that understanding look like?

Such a response might begin with slowing down enough to notice our habitual responses to things, to that bug crawling on your arm, to that driver that pissed you off. If we can be compassionate with ourselves we might build self-awareness and compassion for others in the process.

We might start to question the story of entitlement, superiority, and separateness. The real work begins when we stop pointing the finger at others and turn our attention inward toward ourselves, taking an honest look at our behavior and the thoughts behind it. Gandhi's dictum "Be the change you want to see in the world", is famous because of the depth of truth it reveals. Maturation is a process.

The work of bringing understanding and compassion to the small self and cultivating a more expansive self is never done. Think of the small self as the childlike self, the ego self. With the small self everything boils down to personal needs and security.

Coming from the small self many Americans will support - whether expressly or tacitly - not only offshore oil drilling but also coal mining, new nuclear power plants, and other technologies which promise to perpetuate ease and comfort.

Concern over the consequences for other peoples and species will continue to be, at best, a minor concern. If the vast majority of Americans continue to lead with the small self it follows that any ambitious environmental agenda will fail and our war making will continue as politicians enact the will of the majority. Politicians know perfectly well when concern for an issue is a mile wide but only an inch deep. It's the depth that counts.

Whether we continue down a path of collective suicide or change course, the psyche will be intimately involved. Lasting behavioral change begins and ends with the psyche. The big question is not who holds elected office or how effective conservation programs are, both leave the basic addiction to fossil fuels intact.

The question is: What are the key elements of a resilient foundation for a sustainable and life-affirming society? One critical element, I believe, is the inner resilience that only work with the psyche can bring.

Gluten Free Kauai

SUBHEAD: For the increasing number of people diagnosed as sensitive to wheat gluten, there are now alternatives here.
Image above: Marie Cassel in her gluten free bakery in Kapaa. From (Sweet Marie's).
[Publisher's note: My wife and I are on a gluten free diet. We suggest for a variety of gluten free products (from bagels to pasta) try - Eastside: Hoku Whole Foods at the Design Center on Lehua Street in Kapaa, or Papaya's natural Foods in the Waipouli Town Shopping Center, off the Kuhio Highway. Westside: the Hanapepe Cafe and Bakery, on Hanapepe Road, supplies an excellent fresh gluten free bread (Pueo Bakery brand) as well as a variety of homemade pasteries.]
By Jamie Eppenauer on 16 April 2009 in Gluten Free Mom -
Greetings fellow gluten free friends. Sorry for the absence, but from the title of this post you can probably guess where I have been. The Blogging for Dummies book recommends that you post when you will be out of town, but the Weekend Chef was not too keen on my announcing to the world that we would be gone. Although, I told him I'd be happy if someone would break in and clean my house! So we have gone and come back, and the gluten free information that I have to share on Kauai will be relatively brief, mostly because we stayed at a condo and cooked most of our own meals. When we first went gluten free I mourned the fact that we would no longer be able to travel. We actually went camping about one week post diagnosis, and not knowing enough at the time, we starved by only eating grilled hamburger without the bun and yogurt and fruit. Back then, I could not comprehend how we would ever fly anywhere again with our restricted diet. I could not understand how God had given me this innate desire for travel while at the same time making it so hard. Over time and with confidence, we realized we could travel again but that it would be easier to stay at condos instead of hotels. I have to admit that I also mourned for the luxuries of a hotel – I know I sound spoiled, but have you ever seen the hotels in Hawaii with their beautiful meandering pools and, better yet, pool side service, morning breakfast buffets . . .? To me, I served everyone at home so while on vacation I wanted to be served. All of my past preferences being stated, I have fully converted at this point – we travel plenty and I have grown to prefer the convenience, space and savings offered by staying in a condo. Yes, being gluten free requires planning ahead – you have to go on-line before you travel, seek out the places you can eat, and contact them before you go. We also travel with a suitcase of our favorite gluten free pastas, bagels, muffins etc. And, yes, I have to cook. But we go with easy meals and at least I am cooking in paradise. Moreover, the setting from the balcony on our condo in Kauai was quiet honestly more beautiful than any setting that a restaurant had to offer. Lastly, when you are traveling with a family, a condo will give you twice the amount of space for the same dollars and you can save a bundle of money, I mean a bundle, by being able to prepare your own meals. So what about Kauai gluten free?? Once again we felt blessed and taken care of, as our condo was within walking distance of the only gluten free bakery in the state of Hawaii.
Sweet Marie's is a dedicated gluten free bakery on Kauai. As the name implies, it is owned and operated by the most charming and sweet Marie. Marie is an east coast native (that is of the mainland US) who moved to Kauai almost 20 years ago. Being gluten free herself, she opened Sweet Maries just under two years ago. She bakes the most amazing muffins – our favorite was the Tropical muffin with toasted coconut and pineapple. She also had to die for chocolate brownies. Even better, she will prepare gluten free meals for you during your stay on Kauai.

I emailed Marie before we left and we were able to stock up on muffins, cookies and brownies the first morning after our arrival. Of course, we went back later in the week for more! Marie is also very helpful with information about where to shop and dine on Kauai, and I feel like I have a new friend on the beautiful Island of Kauai.

At her recommendation, we ate our one meal out at Verde’s. It is set in a strip mall behind the Shell station in Kappa. What was lacking in atmosphere was made up for in delicious Mexican food. This is authentic Mexican food, not your taco bell type, in huge portions. They were also very knowledgeable about all of the ingredients and cross-contamination. You can eat at the restaurant, or order carry out.

There are other places to eat out on Kauai, but we had the rest of our meals at the condo – getting ready to travel yourself? Here was our condo menu:

Breakfast – Sweet Marie muffins (so many muffins we do not need to eat any for a long time); eggs, yogurt, fruit, a box of Koala Crisp cereal

Lunch – (usually ate at the beach) salami, cheese slices, fruit, chips, quinoa salad, ham and cheese rolls ups (take a slice of ham and roll it around a mozzarella cheese stick)

Dinner – quesadillas with Food for Life brown rice tortillas that I packed; pork chops, Lundberg farm risotto and veggies; Bi-aglut spaghetti with some bruschetta bread from Bavarian Mills; grilled lemon chicken with Bi-aglut noodles and a salad; Pizza (Kinninnick now sells mini square pizzas that were perfect for traveling); Cobb salad and hot dogs for the kids

What I brought along – Food for Life tortillas, bread, Kinninnick bagels and pizza crusts, Bi-aglut pasta, Lundberg Farms risotto, bruschetta from Bavarian Mills, quinoa, tamari soy sauce

Grocery list when we arrived – olive oil, cheese, salsa and chips, pork chops, chicken, hot dogs and hamburger meat for the spaghetti sauce, spaghetti sauce for spaghetti and for the pizza, butter, eggs, ham, cheese sticks, yogurt, avocados (for guacamole) onion, tomatoes, lettuce, two lemons, mustard and green onion, plus miscellaneous snacks like ice cream!

For more on traveling gluten free, check out my website at Gluten Free So how do you travel gluten free?

Sweet Marie's Hawaii Inc.

4-788 Kuhio Highway

Kapaa, Hawaii 96746

Contact: Chef Marie Cassel

Phone: 808-823-0227

Hour of Operation: Tuesday-Saturday 7 am. -2 pm. or until sold-out .

Please call in advance 808-823-0227. Mahalo!




The Corn Pone Nazis!

SUBHEAD: Not a pretty sight. Glenn Beck and Sara Palin working the mob in Washington DC.
Image above: The Glenn Beck crowd near the Lincoln Memorial on Saturday, August 28th. From (,0,6808932.story).
By James Kunstler on 30 August 2010 in -
( Fox News entertainer, former drug addict, and professional weeper, Glenn Beck took center stage at the Lincoln Memorial exactly forty-seven years to the day after Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech for a rally dedicated to "restoring honor," which is tea party code for the otherwise unutterable idea: get that nigger out of the White House! (despite the attendance of a few African-American shills on the scene). Eighty-seven thousand disoriented citizens lined the DC Mall reflecting pool and adjoining lawns to witness Beck overstep his role as a television clown and don the mantle of an evangelist-savior battling the dark forces working insidiously to put the America of WalMart, Walt Disney World, Nascar, and Burger King into the Collapsed Society Hall of Fame -- where it's heading anyway, due to the bad choices these self-same citizens made during an extraordinary bonanza era of cheap oil that is now drawing to a close whether anyone likes it or not. Naturally, Beck invoked prayer against this prospect, which is what people resort to when they don't understand what is happening to them. Beck himself just seems to be following a career arc more than really answering "a call." The emptiness of his platitudes and the confusion of his ideas shows that he is just flexing his demagogic muscles in a moment when weepy bluster passes for heroism. Ten years ago he was a cringing drunk contemplating suicide. Then he went shopping in America's Mall of Utopias for something to believe in and found Mormonism, a "religion" dreamed up by an imaginative young man on the agricultural frontier of western New York during an earlier age of ferment which -- guess what -- coincided with a decade of economic turbulence. (Anyone interested in the bizarre subject is advised to read Fawn Brodie's excellent biography of Smith, No Man Knows My History [Knoph,1945].) Of course, what has allowed Beck to occupy center stage is the failure of rational political figures to articulate the terms of the convulsion that American society faces, brought about not by communists and other John Bircher hobgoblins but by the forces of history. The failure at the political center is a conscious one of nerve and will, of elected officials in both major parties playing desperately for advantage in defiance of the truth -- this truth being that the USA went broke trying to swindle itself into prosperity. Add to this the failure of the law to go after the swindlers, which has undermined the fundamental belief in the rule of law that enabled this society to function as well as it did previously. Barack Obama personifies this failure these days, a politician proclaiming "change" who not only managed to change nothing, but promoted a continuation of the national self-swindling with legislation so dazzlingly prolix and complicated that no one can claim to have read either the Health Care Reform Act or the Financial Regulation bill, the two hallmarks of his tenure so far, neither of which will change anything about how we do these things. Why Mr. Obama has turned out to be such a weenie remains a mystery. Even the former communists atRussia Today laugh at the idea that he is a "communist" or a "socialist" and so do I. He certainly appears to be hostage of the more malign forces in society these days -- the medical insurance racket, the too-big-to-fail banks, the multi-national corporations. But I don't believe it's because he wants to suck up to them, or join their country clubs when his current job ends. My own guess is that he's been informed that the system is so fragile that if he dares to disturb even one teensy-weensy part of it -- for instance, by throwing some executives from Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, et cetera, into federal prison -- that said system will fly to pieces in a fortnight. So Obama's main task for a year and a half has been to desperately apply baling wire and duct tape to the banking system while telling fibs to the public about a wished-for recovery to a prior state. Unfortunately that prior state is the ecstasy of a self-swindle in the moments before it unravels... the sublime feeling of having gotten something wonderful for nothing. We're beyond that now and nothing on the age-old shelf of nostrums, spells, prayers, and miracle-cures will avail to bring that moment back, though the public does not know this. This is what allows a faker like Glenn Beck to shine. The masses still truly believe that prayer will save them from bankruptcy, foreclosure, penury, the loss of status, and the cut-off of precious air-conditioning, so Glenn steps onto a national monument like an Aztec priest ascending the Pyramid of Huitzilopochtli to soothe the angry god with worshipful incantations, and incidentally maybe a few dozen sacrificial hearts cut out -- just as the tea-bagger right-wing glorifies the sacrifices of US soldiers blown up by roadside bombs for the sake of American military adventuring in lost causes like the war to turn Afghanistan into a functioning western-style democracy. Glenn Beck's sidekick nowadays, Sarah Palin, is exactly the kind of corn pone Hitler that America deserves: a badly-educated, child-like, war-mongering opportunist easily manipulated by backstage extremist billionaires who think they don't have enough money yet. Sarah Palin is going to run for president in 2012. In the process she'll turn the sad remnants of the Republican party into a suicide cult, but she might just get elected and you can kiss the 230-year-long experiment in representative government goodbye for good. In the meantime, the financial markets are getting ready to puke, the housing market has yet a million frauds left to unwind, the commercial real estate and retail sectors are crashing, the projects in Afghanistan, and Iraq, too (despite the current hype about the end of the combat mission there), are set to suck a few billion a day out of the system, indefinitely, and the season leading into the holidays is taking shape as a major amplification of all the converging clusterfucks that make these such interesting times. The tea-bagger faction will only get more desperately crazy as a result. The bigger mystery in all this -- if I may perhaps engage in some nostalgia of my own -- is: what happened to reasonable, rational, educated people of purpose in this country to drive them into such burrow of cowardice that they can't speak the truth, or act decisively, or even defend themselves against such a host of vicious morons in a time of troubles?
Image above: Mashup of Glenn Beck rally poster detail by Juan Wilson.

A Personality Test

SUBHEAD: Ant or grasshopper? Do you "go with the flow" or do you "stock up" just in case?
Image above: A paper puppet dramatization of the "Ant and the Grasshopper" fable. From Magical Moonshine ( By Kurt Cobb on 29 August 2010 in Resource Insights - ( A frequent critique of those who claim we still have enormous stocks of resources left to exploit is that the flow or rate of extraction is far more important to the health of the world economy than the size of the stocks. If we can't get it out of the ground at the rate we'd like to, then that is the key restraint. Hence the concern about peak production of resources such as oil, natural gas, coal, phosphorus, and even gold. It occurred to me that this argument might be due in part to differences in personality, but also to flaws in one's understanding of how the world actually works. Let's think for a moment about how the world actually works. All life on Earth (except that of certain deep-sea creatures living off the heat of the Earth's core) ultimately depends on the daily flow of sunlight. The sunlight enables plants to create food for themselves and for animals. There are storage mechanisms for when the light is gone at night or when it's seasonally weak and short-lived in winter. But, generally nothing could survive long without the Sun. So too, our entire civilization lives on flows of energy, food, water and other resources. While it has the capacity to store resources, the end of the needed flows would mean the end of our civilization in short order. Given all this, why is it that some people believe they can really store up much of anything? Yes, it is wise to have emergency supplies in case of a power outage or other disruption that might make it difficult to get food, heat and even water. But can one really stock up for a lifetime? The illusion that we can is given to us by money. We are told that if we save enough, we can have a comfortable old age. But what is money other than a claim on the current flow of goods and services? It's not really a stockpile of anything. So, its value depends entirely on the smooth flow of energy and resources through the economy. And yet, there are people who believe that money will somehow make them immune to the breakdown of this flow. Yes, enough money might make it easier for someone to get scarce goods during such a breakdown. But, ultimately a community that fails to function won't be able to provide you with anything no matter how much money you have. This is the fear behind the thinking of the lone survivalist. And yet, even stockpiles of food and other goods will eventually run out. Without a functioning community capable of defending itself and with continuing access to a flow of energy and goods, no one can survive in the long run. Today, however, it is far too easy to just "go with the flow," rather than prepare for possible disruptions. This is the philosophy behind the just-in-time inventory religion which is still so dominant. Prudent stockpiles of essential materials including food have been the hallmark of civilization. Without such surpluses and the ability to store them, what we call civilization could never have arisen. Civilization depends on the ability to store surpluses. Today's cornucopians provide a useful cheering section for the just-in-time religion since they are the ultimate "go with the flow" crowd. They like to cite the principle of substitution as their defense against running low on critical resources. No need to worry about using up nonrenewable resources, they say. But, what they always seem to leave out is that substitution takes time. What if we don't have enough time for a smooth transition from one resource to another? Won't happen, the cornucopians say. You see, the marketplace is just like magic. Things show up the instant they are needed! (This is true until it isn't.) What I'm getting at is that the balanced personality would recognize that all of us live on flows of energy and resources and that our cooperation to keep those flows moving is critical. But that same balanced personality would also recognize the potential for serious problems should those flows be curtailed.
Therefore, the balanced personality would want three things:
1) That we have a reasonably large stockpile of critical goods in case of a temporary disruption of flows,
2) that what we rely on for our survival be by and large renewable, and
3) that our demand for renewable resources would come into balance with the supply we can reasonably expect--considerably less than fossil fuels have provided.
It's hard to find such balanced thinking in the world we now live in. But that balance is precisely what we will need most in the years to come.
Video above: How To Boil A Frog presents Peak Oil pt. 1 - What's Peak Oil (

Return to a Growth Economy?

SUBHEAD: We are no longer in a growth economy because we are no longer in a growing net energy environment.
Image above: The Dixie Square Mall in Harvey, Illinois, was abandoned in 1978. From "Ghosts of Shopping Past" by Brian Ulrich ( By George Mobus on 27 August 2010 in Question Everything - (

Krugman to the Rescue

First off, in fairness, we have to recognize that Paul Krugman is a liberal. His blog is called the Conscience of a Liberal, so I take him at his word.

I can understand his ideological stance with respect to wanting to relieve the American people who have lost their jobs and their homes. I can understand his railing at Tim Geithner (Treasury Secretary) and Ben Bernanke (Fed chairman) about the stupidity they are showing in not providing a stimulus to the economy that will relieve the pain and suffering (rather than a stimulus to the bankers and Wall Street to help their managers earn even bigger bonuses).

Krugman has heart, I'll give him that. But here is what being stuck in a liberal ideology gets you: This Is Not a Recovery, 26 Aug. 2010. The remedy, for Krugman and every other neoclassical economist is growth.

I'm afraid I have to say, for one of the smartest economists in the world he sure is dumb!

He gets that the so-called economic recovery is a sham. He gets that what the government is doing is appallingly weak compared to what it should be doing under historically relevant conditions to truly stimulate the economy to produce jobs and get people back to work. What he doesn't understand is that these are not historically relevant times. This isn't the same situation as existed in 1932. What he is proposing is exactly the wrong thing to do if you care about the long-term.

He wants to return to a growth economy based on consumer spending*. The pain he wants to relieve includes that which the American public is suffering not being able to go to Wallmart and shop to their hearts' content.

What, oh what, will it take to get people like Krugman to see reality? This question is especially cogent since reality is slapping us all in the face. You would think that Nobel Prize winners would be able to know when they are being slapped in the face and wake up to see that reality. “Thanks, I needed that.”

George, Get With the Program Man

No doubt if we did get back to a growth economy, in the range of 5+% annual, that this would help create more jobs and drive the unemployment numbers down. That has been the historical case. But exactly what is going to be growing? In other words, what in the economy would be able to grow to make the GDP grow by 5% a year?

Would it be primary manufacturing? Not likely. Labor in China is still a lot cheaper than it is here, for the moment.

Extractive industries? Maybe coal, but most of our mining operations are worked out.

Retail maybe? If we could get cash into everyone's hands they would go buy more stuff and that would boost the retail industry.

But wait a bit, many people today are going to pay down their debt from past shopping extravaganzas, many will divert the cash to savings.

Services then? We have to ask what kind of services? Flipping burgers, that's a service. But the fast food business is just another form of retailing. How about beauty parlors, maybe we could treble the number of chairs and hair dressers. That is a needed service.

Wait, there is a service area that could easily expand and create some really high paying jobs — the financial services area! It is simple. The government lets the banks and Wall Streeters create many more creative financial instruments and sell them to ‘investors’. They will literally create more money, more value, and more transactions. That will look good in GDP numbers.

If we were to completely kill all financial sector rules and regulations the GDP would soar and a significant number of financial service workers would then get rich. Here is the best of all. They need to buy hamburgers, get hairdos, and buy lots of expensive stuff. Thus retail and the rest of the service sector will expand once again. And when it does somebody has to raise or import the beef, shampoos, and fancy cars. Boy, this is sounding better all the time.

All we need to do, and I bet anything Tim Geithner already knew this, is we let the financial movers and shakers go to town and everything will be hunkydory once again. The recovery will be complete. We will be growing once again. Surely this last little hiccup in the economy due to financial (including mortgages) bubbles won't happen again. The free market will prevail.

Economic Growth Solves All Problems

Actually it does seem to do so as long as you look past real human happiness and measure problems solved in materialist terms (like GDP). It has been the case in the past and why would we think there is any reason why it wouldn't work that way now?

Well one comes to mind: We've reached the limits of energy and material resources and you can't grow beyond those limits. I has turned out that the physical limits of our world really do define a fixed size pie that has to be sliced into thiner and thiner pieces if everyone is to get some (oh yeah, some don't so that others can get bigger pieces).

Our whole understanding of what the economy is, how it works, and what it takes to give a majority of folk a shot at living reasonably comfortable lives is bound up in a system that is always growing. We simply cannot conceive of any other way to organize things.

People need jobs to earn incomes. Those incomes have to be sufficient to pay for necessities of life and some discretionary goods and services so as to have some enjoyment in life. Jobs come from firms constantly needing labor and management to produce goods and services on a continuous basis. The latter is supported by customers in sufficient numbers to put a continuous demand on the firms.

Where do customers come from? Well, we need to have more people needing the goods and services; the customer base has to expand (births plus immigration). We can also build shoddy stuff that falls apart after awhile so that the customers need to continue to replace them. Or design new models that make the old models so obsolete that customers are embarrassed to be caught with the old models (Apple comes to mind).

Ah, but when the customer base is growing that means there are also more people needing more jobs. So we have to grow firms so as to meet the demand and create jobs. Why does this look like a vicious cycle to me?

Its a positive feedback loop that perpetuates the need for more jobs, stuff, and people (consumers and workers). And all positive feedback loops, if they predominate in any system, will lead to an eventual blowup. Unless, of course, the expanding system runs into resource constraints which is exactly what is happening today.

At our present rate of consumption (world wide) we are reaching the ends of economically extractable energy and material resources. We are even depleting our potable water supplies! How do you deplete a completely recyclable resource? We managed it. These limits are going to be felt most painfully in the depletion of fossil fuel energy sources. At least if we had more energy we could find ways to solve material resource depletion. We could find ways to recycle and substitute for quite a while longer. But the truth is that once fossil fuels start be take more energy to extract than they provide for other economic work we will have hit the wall.

Actually it is already underway. You can point your finger at the financial meltdown, the housing meltdown, the jobs meltdown or any number of proximal causes for the global economic recession (everywhere except China, for the moment). But there really is a single underlying cause of all the problems that we have great difficulty recognizing because we've always had the luxury of taking it for granted. Net energy is now in decline. And it takes net energy to run the economy, even if it weren't growing.

A growing economy requires a growing flow of net energy into the system. That means we have to find and extract much more fossil fuel each year than the year before. And we have to extract so much more that we can pay back the increasing energy costs of doing that extraction. We haven't been doing this. The peak of oil extraction marks the start of decline in total energy extraction. But more importantly, the peak of net energy came many years ago, before the peak of fossil fuel. This is because the energy costs of extraction have been increasing (exponentially, actually) leading to declining net profit to apply to other economic work.

We are no longer in a growth economy because we are no longer in a growing net energy environment. We aren't even in a steady state net energy flow so the potential to construct a steady state economy is no longer an option. Put rather rudely, we are now in a contracting economy, and will be for as long as we care to consider. There will be no new jobs created because there will be decreasing energy available to do the work. The so-called “knowledge-based” economy is an illusion. It is true that we need and use knowledge to run the economy, but the only real base of any economy is the food we produce to keep ourselves alive, followed by the construction of goods that support our living in temperate and cooler climates. And all of those base activities require a lot of energy. Knowledge isn't worth a dime if you can't eat it, or live in it.

The longer Krugman and Geithner and Obama and every one is committed to the notion that the only way out of our situation is to recover the consumption/growth economy the worse we are going to find ourselves when it finally becomes so obvious what is happening that even these geniuses finally get it. Then it will be too late to try to adapt and reconstruct an economic model based on biophysical realities instead of one based on so-called American dreams. You can't dream yourself satiated, unless you're in delirium from starvation!

* One alternative to the consumer-based economy is the export economy. We would presumably make our money by providing some kind of needed goods or services to the rest of the world. We would need some kind of competitive advantage. Some economists think that our knowledge-workers will provide knowledge services to other places in the world. A little reflection on this idea will soon turn up any number of reasons why it is stupid, not the least of which is that other countries are rapidly developing their own knowledge workers. Besides, the geniuses are still thinking that growth in sales (of exported somethings) is a necessary part of the scheme.

Money & Fossil Energy

SUBHEAD: Let’s not waste our effort or emotions on hoping that either of these dinosaurs will save us.
Image above: A 1904 cartoon titled "Next" show a Standard Oil octopus taking over the America. From ( By David Holmgren on 28 August 2010 in Energy Bulletin - (

Introduction This essay provides a framework for understanding the ideological roots of the current global crisis that I believe is more useful than the now tired Left Right political spectrum. I use this framework to provide a commentary on current political machinations around Climate Change and Peak Oil. Building from the same energetic literacy that informs Permaculture and Future Scenarios, it challenges much of the strategic logic behind current mainstream climate change activism. Like the Future Scenarios work, this essay is intended to help environmental and social activists better avoid the obstacles to effective action in a chaotic age.

David Holmgren is best known as the co-originator of the permaculture concept. He lives with his partner Su Dennett at Melliodora, a permaculture demonstration site in Hepburn, Central Victoria.

[This posting at EB consists of selections from the original essay. The PDF of the complete essay can be downloaded from David Holmgren's website in the "Writings" section.]

The unfolding climate/energy/economic crisis is heating up a very old rift in global industrial politics. This rift derives from two core beliefs on what constitutes the source of wealth. Does wealth come from human creativity and innovation or is it found in the natural world? Is human capacity the source or a by-product of real power?

I believe two alternative (and mostly complementary) paradigms that are implied by these questions, have shaped the history of the modern world perhaps more so than the Left-Right political ideologies. I characterize these increasingly conflicted paradigms by the following shorthand: faith in wealth and power from “human brilliance” (meaning “faith in human brilliance to overcome physical limitations.”) verses faith that wealth and power emerge from control of “holes in the ground”, ie. physical resources.1

In a world of energy descent and climate change, both these beliefs are failing and increasingly we see the believers of both paradigms at war in a futile battle for control of the world.

Understanding the nature of this ideological battle is as critical for environmental and social activists as is the understanding of the science behind Climate Change and Peak Oil. Because this ideological divide and battle has been little recognized by historians and social commentators, it is easy to come to the conclusion that one of these paradigms is benign while the other is lethal, without really understanding the nature and implications of these respective ideologies.

Climate activists in particular tend to focus on the fossil energy industries as the “enemies” (both for generating greenhouse gases and funding climate change denial), but naturally see any parties accepting the new climate change agenda as allies. I believe that many of the global players promoting the climate agenda are as dangerous as those denying that agenda. How can this be so?

Ecological perspectives on human brilliance

I should first acknowledge my perspective in this rift. I believe that the current peak in global oil production represents an effective (net) energy peak for humanity and that we are entering an era of ongoing and effectively permanent “energy descent.” The scale of this change is without precedent in human history. A transition to a world of less energy requires widespread “energetic literacy” so that we can learn how to work with less and avoid some costly mistakes when we can least afford them. The era of extraordinary energy growth and abundance has left the populace and the politicians of the industrial world without an intuitive understanding of energy, since, by its very excess we have not needed to appreciate its nuances.

... Consequently this essay more strongly critiques the unrestrained faith in human creativity and innovation to overcome physical limitations, than the equally doomed faith in digging wealth out of the earth, since the latter, if becoming outdated, at least acknowledges the significance of energy resources.

Faith in Human Brilliance

Faith in human brilliance to overcome physical limitations is widespread and pervasive in society.

Since the European Enlightenment, the marvel of increasing cultural and technological complexity has created a cultural hubris about human achievements that has displaced the humility of older spiritual traditions about the power and mystery of nature.

For example many social justice and environmental advocates, as well as bureaucrats and diplomats believe the construction of regulations and rules based on negotiation and compromise are the fundamental keys to collective wealth and its wise control. Technologists, educators, and journalists also tend towards the belief that thinking, discussion and debate are the way to solve problems. Economists and business entrepreneurs tend to share this faith in human brilliance and have been much more powerful participants in focusing the tools of science to create real wealth though production and market transactions. While there is obvious merit and some truth in these perspectives, they are incomplete insofar as they ignore the energy base which makes these perspectives possible.

... Our money and markets are the most complex products of this deeply ingrained faith in human brilliance. And just as their foundational beliefs are incomplete, so is their expression extremely dangerous. ...

Wealth from Nature

While faith in human brilliance might be to the dominant paridigm, a significant and number of influential people in modern society hold the opposite belief: that wealth comes from nature (in which I include the belief that wealth comes from “holes in the ground”). Because so few people in modern urbanised societies have intimate experience of the ways in which we depend on renewable and non-renewable natural resources, the intuitive basis for these beliefs has been in decline for hundreds of years.

Farmers, forest workers and fishermen along with more self-reliant rural dwellers are natural adherents to this view of the world. Miners and engineers dependent on and responsible for the exploitation of nature’s non-renewable wealth also tend to hold this view for fairly obvious reasons. The military services are another sector of society where this world view remains common. Those who recognise this potent power from nature often conclude that the power of the gun is ultimately what guarantees control, especially of the “holes in the ground” that yield the fantastically concentrated non-renewable energy and resources. Unlike capitalists and socialists, many of those with faith in power from the ground, are less concerned whether the total system is growing, stagnant or declining, but more focused on how to remain on the top of the heap, whatever its size.

... As I have pointed out, faith in human brilliance can focus on individual and entrepreneurial capacity (Right) or alternatively, collective and co-operative capacity (Left). Similarly faith in power from nature can lead to the conclusion about “survival of the fittest” (Right) or co-operative sharing of limited resources (Left). ...

History of beliefs in energy and money

To understand how conflict between money and energy in modern society is shaping the climate/energy/economic crisis, we need to explore its historical origins. I believe this exploration using the lens of ecology is part of a larger process by which we begin to tell a new story of human transformation relevant to the energy descent future after fossil fuels.

The ancestry of the first force – the belief that wealth comes from “holes in the ground”, i.e. physical resources we mine from the earth – can be seen in the feudal lords who presided over tracts of fertile farmland and productive forests that were the primary sources of material wealth before fossil fuels. These feudal elites had an intimate knowledge of the estates that were the source of their wealth and power and so maintained a sort of “energetic literacy” even if they regarded the productivity of the land as primarily a gift from god. The successes of European medieval societies based on the limited but renewable resources of the land eventually came up against ecological limits that were expressed through loss of forests, wars between sovereign nations, and disease (the Black Death). ...

Wealth from Human Ingenuity

The ancestry of the second force, the belief that “human brilliance” is the source of wealth, can be traced back to the urban intellectuals and merchants of the European Enlightenment who believed that human ingenuity and organization were the critical forces in wealth creation and control. While wealth from colonized lands provided the material wealth for European expansion, cultural factors associated with religion (the Protestant reformation) and capitalism (sovereign corporations and modern banking) were critical in facilitating the process. Central to this thesis were the ideas of Adam Smith and others who eulogized the “invisible hand” of the market and castigated the medieval guild economies that Smith saw as impeding progress. The guilds regulated their respective trades or professions to maintain traditions and high standards of craft while controlling competition and discouraging radical innovation. The fact that the guild economies were adapted to the steady-state economy of the middle ages has escaped the notice of most of the academic cheerleaders for market-based economies of continuous growth.

Marx is of course the great ideological counterpoint to Smith’s adoration of the role of capital in creating wealth. Marx saw that human labor and cooperative capacity were the undervalued sources of wealth that capitalists exploited to convert natural resources to real wealth. I see Marxism and societies designed on Marxist principles – both mild and radical variants – as simply different expressions of this same tendency to believe that human labour, creativity and organization are the sources of wealth.

This faith in “human brilliance” in both its capitalist and socialist forms must be acknowledged as drivers of the growth in European economic power and organizational complexity that overpowered the older land-based feudal power.

...The IT revolution was the key factor in the final push towards a full spectrum globalized economy dominated by corporations, but it was the ballooning virtual economies of finance and investment services that benefited most from the IT revolution. While much was made of the individual and social network empowerment potential that eventually emerged after the turn of the millennium, vastly more IT capacity is taken up by porn than is used by wikipedia, and the breakdown of communities of place and isolation of individuals most likely exceeds the gains from the extraordinary but fragile network communities made possible by the internet. All of these processes expanded the power of money at the expense of awareness of the role of energy in feeding the machine of economic growth.

... It is clear enough that the dominance of the West over OPEC, Russia and the Central Asian republics reinforced the faith in the power of markets over crude resources from holes in the ground. In the 1990s analysis suggesting resource rich countries were more likely to have dysfunctional economies, corrupt governments and conflict than resource poor countries, was perversely interpreted as showing how marginal these resources were to the human progress. The alternative explanation, that this pattern reflected the hegemonic control of an oppressive geopolitical order by the resource consuming countries, was less widely acknowledged. Both interpretations reinforced faith in the power of human creativity and money over resource wealth.

This is part of a collective mythology of modernism, that wit and cunning (of the city trader) always outsmarts honest hard work (of the farmer).

Peak Oil and Resource Nationalism

The turn of the millennium saw new factors at work. Rising oil prices, increased gas production and dependence of European countries on Russian gas has provided a strong base for resurgent Russian economic and political power. Under Putin plundering of Russian resources by the oligarchs to feed the West was replaced by a resurgent Russian nationalism that shocked western corporations and media.

In the US, the Bush administration, controlled by oil men and military strategists, sidelined the diplomats and the bankers that held sway during the Clinton years with a renewed focus on control of the oil resources of the Middle East and the gas resources of Central Asia.

9/11 provided the green light to shock western democracies from their slothful assumption about resource security through total war. Judging by their actions, and various statements, it seems likely that many key advisors and actors in the Bush administration were better informed about the parlous prospects for global oil and gas production in the coming decades than the most gloomy and best informed of Peak Oil researchers and communicators to whom I was paying attention in the late 1990’s.

But to portray the Bush administration as just representing the forces of energetic realism would be false, because domestically, the “Mandarins” of Treasury and the Federal Reserve were freed to blow the most spectacular bubble economy in history. These masters of money created castles in the air of unprecedented proportions based on real estate speculation and consumption debt. The partial collapse of this bubble economy can be seen as the most important factor in the demise of Bush administration, rather than the loss of civil rights, or abuse of international law in pursuit of its fantastic “war on terror”. The timing of the collapse of the bubble economy acted to distract the media and the public from the likely concurrent peak of global oil production, and the contribution of oil (and other resource) price spikes to the global recession. ...

Permaculture: harmonizing energetic realism & design creativity

While my analysis of the more basic forces at work behind the current political machinations may be interesting, my purpose is not simply armchair analysis. The love of money and greed for energy are both monstrous cancers of our culture. We need to better understand both so we can predict their moves, and plan our own actions for resilient transition into a new culture not beholden to fossil energy or money. The idea that we have to choose between allying ourselves with either of the dangerous wounded monsters is a false choice.

My aim is to empower environmental activists, social entrepreneurs and humble householders to be most effective in three simultaneous domains of action.

  1. Help their families survive and thrive through turbulent times.
  2. Contribute to a better society than would otherwise have been the case.
  3. Contribute to the preservation and development of skills that will be useful to future generations grappling with the realities of energy descent.

The idea that we have to choose between allying ourselves with either of the dangerous wounded monsters in their life and death struggle for control of the declining era of fossil fuelled industrial culture, is a false choice. We should heighten our awareness of the nature of both of these monstrous cancers of our culture, so we can better predict their moves, and plan our own actions for resilient transition into a new culture not beholden to oil or money.

I see permaculture, especially when it is understood through its ethics and design principles, as providing a framework for creating that culture, based on the regenerated cycles of nature. Anyone who is familiar with permaculture ethics, design principles and strategies will understand that my equal rejection of the respective power from fossil energy, oil and money does not indicate that I see no useful core of truth in these primal tendencies driving our waning global industrial culture.

In using the term “energetic realism” to describe one of these forces, I am acknowledging see the living and non-living elements of Gaia as the foundation for any human wealth. Through my teaching of permaculture, I have always emphasised that fossil fuels are not bad, but a gift from nature, that we have wasted. Permaculture earthworks designs make use of the raw power of fossil fuelled machines to shape the land in ways that allow us , and future generation,to enhance the biological productivity of landscapes. We have the unique opportunity to use that fossil fuel to create those structures that future generations will be able to maintain (by hand if necessary).

In using the term “human brilliance” to describe the creativity that includes concepts as complex as money, I recognize acknowledge human creativity and flexibility to adapt to changing circumstance is the best asset we have. While we do not have the power to rewrite the laws of thermodynamics that limit and shape human realities, we do have a remarkable capacity to reshape our individual and collective conception of reality in ways that facilitate rather than hinder cultural evolution. Money is simply a collective mental construct that we can redesign from first principles to reflect energetic realities, ethical values and change.

The old saying that it is the love of money rather than money itself which is the source of evil in the world is worth repeating. that ye ou[You lost me here, ]This saying can be further interpreted to mean money that is arbitrarily created, without being tied to real wealth from nature, and that every day earns interest, that must be repaid by growth in our extraction of real wealth from nature, has embedded the love of money as central to our culture.

Permaculture strategies for creating household and community economies using gift, barter and simple non-interest bearing local currencies, are examples of how we can design new forms of money to allow appropriate exchange of goods and services in resilient and relocalized economies that will grow at the margins abandoned by the dinosaurs of the declining global industrial culture.

Let’s not waste our effort or emotions on hoping that either of the dinosaurs will save us; rather, let us get on with our tasks while we keep an eagle eye open for any threats from both fossil energy oil and money.

• A PDF of the complete article is available on David Holmgren's website in the "Writings" section.