Tuesday, December 12, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth

If you haven't yet seen the Al Gore documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, then I would strongly encourage you to watch it.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Call for Change

Today is election day. It's a tight race and it's not too late to make a difference.

Call For Change

Click on the graphic to help make some calls and ensure a democratic change on this election day.

(Please feel free to leave a comment about your experience.)

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Iraq War | World Bank, IMF, WTO

The Ellensburg Film Festival is in full swing and I just caught an interesting double feature. The first movie was Falluja: Caught in the Crossfire and the second was Argentina: Hope in Hard Times.

The Iraq War
The first movie was about the devastation of Falluja caused by US troops. The city was decimated and now operates under marshall law in an effort to crush the insurgency. It was devastating.

One of the facts that the film brought up is that the average family in Falluja had six to eight children which means that the majority of the civilians killed or wounded and that the majority of the refugees are children. I am not a proponent of large families, but I am even less of a proponent of killing, maiming, and orphaning children.

I don't believe that the American presence in Iraq will ever have a positive outcome. The resentment against American troops runs deep.

Our top down theory of control has failed.

We should pull our troops out of Iraq and allow the people of the region to determine their own fate. The consequences of our actions will no doubt be terrible, but our continued presence is not stabilizing the region and is engendering a dangerous amount of resentment.

How then can we get our government to pull the troops out of Iraq?

I just received a phone call from moveon.org asking me to make phone calls encouraging individuals to vote in those areas where the Democrats have the potential of winning a seat in congress. I think I am going to take them up on their offer.

-----

World Bank, IMF, WTO
The second flick I caught was about the Argentine depression which apparently was caused by the Argentine government listening to the advice of the IMF and WTO.

The Argentine economy had been the sixth largest in the world with a flourishing middle class. The government supported and regulated industry.

Following the advice of the aforementioned organizations the government privatized many government services and reduced industry regulations. Government and industry borrowed heavily. The farming industry was encouraged to specialize and export. The end result was a depression, bank closures, 40% unemployment and starvation. There are now basically only rich and poor in Argentina with no middle class.

The former head of the World Bank, a nobel prize winning economist, is featured in the film. He states that current economic theory has failed in every emerging economy. I expect that he is no longer head of the World Bank because it was easier to get rid of him than to change a failed system.

-----

There are certain issues that we need to look at globally. For any issue that impacts your neighbor, your neighbor should be allowed input. Pollution and toxins including nukes as well as population are issues that impact us all. Other than that people should be allowed to resolve their issues locally.

The ideas of the WTO seem contrary to the long term survival of the human race. Massive imports and exports in no way diminish the global climate change of which we are in the midst.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Get Active - Internet Activism

I received some internet activism emails today from which I am posting excerpts. The first two excerpts are from Greenpeace:

Green my Apple, Steve
Here at Greenpeace, we love our Macs. And that's why we want them to be free of toxic chemicals that create poison e-waste. We've seen the kids in Asia who wade through mountains of discarded gadgets to recover bits of metal they can sell. In the process, they breathe dioxins from burning PVC plastic and are surrounded by lead and mercury pollution. That's not what Apple is all about. And we know just the people to make Apple change its ways: its customers. Love your Mac? Wish it came in green?

Let Apple know how much you want them to be green.
I am a long time Mac user so of course I responded by sending an email to Apple.

Here's another:
Hi, my name is Sini Harkki and I would like you to help me in Finland. I'm a student and in my spare time I work to save forests in Finland and around the world. I've been working with Greenpeace helping an undercover investigation team expose wood that's been illegally logged in Russia and imported into Finland.

We are trying to make the Finnish Government take responsibility for this problem, but they've been avoiding the issue. When we told our Government about this illegal logging scandal they said that they shouldn't get involved! Wood from Russia is made into many things, like paper, cardboard for packaging, plywood and furniture - and you might even be buying it.

You can help by sending a letter to Mr Mauri Pekkarinen, Finland's Minister of Trade and Industry, asking for laws to stop illegal timber being imported and sold in Europe.
I responded to this plea as well.

I also received a forward from a friend regarding voting machines:
Dear Friend,

Paperless electronic voting machines will be used once again
this fall, and already during the primaries they failed. In
Maryland crowds of legal voters were turned away from the polls
when the machines couldn't be started.

There's a simple safeguard -- have enough paper ballots on hand
so the election can go forward even if the machines let us down
again. Obvious, right? Senators Boxer (D-CA) and Dodd (D-CT)
have introduced a last-minute bill which would provide money to
any state that is willing to print up the paper ballots. It's
cheap, it's easy, and there's no reason not to do it. But time
is short.

Join with me and TrueMajority to tell your Senator to support
the emergency paper ballot bill.
http://action.truemajority.org/campaign/paper_ballot?rk=YdwuYVS1GX4nW
It seems like a no brainer that if people show up to vote that they should be allowed to vote.

Part of my personal environmental plan is internet activism. If you are not currently active I encourage you to become active. Never before has it been so easy for the middle class of America to take part in influencing national and world politics.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Philanthropy, SRI, Venezuela, Making a Difference

I applaud billionare Richard Branson's recent promise to donate $3 billion of profits from his travel industries towards solving the global warming issue. I also applaud Bill Clinton's Global Initiative and the involvement of Bill Gates.

It's about time some power brokers stepped up in a public and financial way and started trying to right the wrongs that their companies have helped to perpetrate.

Even the Bush administration has promised $3 billion toward alternative energy research. Of course this seems like a paltry sum for an administration that is spending $85 billion a year on the war in Iraq.

For those of us who are not billionaires, but are striving for financial security, here is an article on Socially Responsible Investing:

http://www.organicconsumers.org/2006/article_2415.cfm

-----

I have also been hearing a lot about Hugo Chavez, the president of Venezuela. Apparently Venezuela is sitting on the greatest remaining oil reserves in the world.

After calling Bush "Satan" in front of the United Nations Chavez has pledged to double the amount of low cost heating oil that Venezuela will provide to the people of America who are less fortunate financially.

Oil moneys are also being used to finance free health care to the people of Venezuela who are less fortunate financially. The cost of gas in Venezuela is currently $0.20 per gallon.

Now I don't agree with low gas prices, but at least Chavez is trying to do something helpful with the oil profits as opposed to building palaces and mansions. (Don't get me wrong, I haven't done much research so he could be building palaces as well as helping people who are destitute.)

I am not a communist (although maybe I should be), but I do wish that our government were comprised of philanthropists instead of war profiteers.

I also think it is interesting that communism and democracy are not mutually exclusive ideals as we have been taught to believe.

Chavez's political adversaries have accused him of pandering in order to win the upcoming election. In that regards, helping people out just might work.

-----

I have a friend that visited recently and he fell back on the old argument that I am not making a difference with my avocation; that the fifteen people I am reaching makes my pursuit meaningless.

This is a variation on the defeatist arguments I have mentioned in previous posts.

The closer a person is to me the stronger the affect my lifestyle has upon them. They in turn influence the people to whom they are close. "And they tell two friends... and so on."

I have also contributed to and provided pro bono work to some charities over the last couple of years. In this way I am contributing a little to a lot of people.

The actual impact I am having is not quantifiable. It's chaos theory in action. I am just a little butterfly beating my wings. I am just a drop of water in the wave of progressive change.

And in the end whether or not my actions truly make a difference does not relieve me of my obligation to live my life in an ethical and morally upright manner. I believe in an all encompassing morality. I am a humanist and the ultimate extension of humanitarianism is environmentalism.

Peace out.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Democracy is Fragile

Democracy is a fragile ideal. My heart goes out to the people of Thailand in this trying time. Apparently one must be diligent and hold ones government to task. I received the following from moveon.org:
Dear MoveOn member,

This week, the Senate is planning to quietly hold a vote that would pardon President Bush for breaking the law by illegally wiretapping innocent Americans without warrants. According to Senator Leahy, the bill would "...immunize officials who have violated federal law by authorizing such illegal activities."1

President Bush broke the law, and courts are starting to agree. Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter once said the program was illegal "on its face." But he has now caved to pressure from Vice President Cheney, and introduced legislation that marks a new low: the bill justifies everything the president did. Worse, it makes it legal to wiretap Americans, in secret, without warrants or oversight, whenever the administration wants to.2

So far, Democrats and some Republicans are holding strong against the bill, and there are good chances to stop it if enough of us speak up. Can you sign the petition opposing the Republican move to pardon President Bush for breaking the law?

http://pol.moveon.org/dontpardon/?id=8810-6717564-7qk_ZfzGKRLs2CTdgT03NA&t=2

Many legal experts agree that the president's program to wiretap Americans who have nothing to do with terrorism violates the law. President Bush already has the authority to wiretap suspected terrorists—and we support that. In fact, his administration can tap anyone it likes as long as it gets an OK from a court a few days later.

Congress should be trying to hold him accountable—that's their job. Instead, some Republicans are trying to let President Bush off the hook completely. In fact, the legislation would give the president even more unchecked power.

Here are some quick facts about the Cheney-Specter bill:
• It allows President Bush—and every president after him—to wiretap Americans indefinitely, in secret, without a warrant and without any oversight. 3
• It effectively pardons the president for any illegal behavior by forcing Congress to concede that he has the inherent authority to conduct the program4—something federal courts, numerous legal experts and many leading Republicans disagree with. 5
• It completely guts FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) which has protected the privacy of Americans against illegal wiretaps for close to 30 years.6
• It prevents any legal challenges from taking place in the public court system. Instead, it moves all cases to a secret court, where only Bush administration officials can argue it. 7
• It would help "immunize" any officials who broke the law in this program from being held accountable in the future. 8
Since the program was exposed in December of last year, we've learned that President Bush personally blocked a Justice Department investigation of the program, Vice President Cheney also personally intervened to stop telecom companies from testifying to Congress about it, and a federal court recently ruled the program unconstitutional.9 In an effort to protect himself from further consequences, the president is pressuring Congress to let him off the hook.

This is an important issue and it will help remind Americans, in an election year, what Republicans are all about—accumulating power for themselves, and trampling the system of checks and balances designed to stop that. Can you sign the petition today?

http://pol.moveon.org/dontpardon/?id=8810-6717564-7qk_ZfzGKRLs2CTdgT03NA&t=3

It's the Senate's job to act as a check on the president's power. If they can't do it, they shouldn't be in Washington.

Thanks for all you do,

–Nita, Eli, Jennifer, Wes and the MoveOn.org Political Action Team
Monday, September 18th, 2006

Sources:

1. "Today's Republican circus trick: Legislating in the Dark," Senator Leahy, provided by the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, September 13, 2006
http://www.bordc.org/threats/leahy91306.php

"NSA Whitewash Passes Judiciary Committee on Party-Line Vote," People for the American Way, September 13, 2006
http://www.pfaw.org/pfaw/general/default.aspx?oid=22373

2. "NSA Whitewash Passes Judiciary Committee on Party-Line Vote," People for the American Way, September 13, 2006
http://www.pfaw.org/pfaw/general/default.aspx?oid=22373

3. "Top 5 things Sen. Specter won't tell you about the Cheney-Specter bill," ACLU
http://action.aclu.org/site/PageServer?pagename=SpecterTop5

4. ACLU Letter to the Senate Regarding Strong Opposition to the Substitute Version of S. 2453, the "National Security Surveillance Act of 2006" May 16, 2006
http://www.aclu.org/safefree/nsaspying/25578leg20060516.html

**Note: The bill has changed slightly from when this letter was written, however the sections accepting the president's claim of inherent authority remains

5."Judge Rules Against Wiretaps," Washington Post, August 18, 2005
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=2096&id=8810-6717564-7qk_ZfzGKRLs2CTdgT03NA&t=4

"On NSA Spying: A Letter to Congress," New York Review of Books, February 9, 2006
http://www.nybooks.com/articles/18650

McCain: Bush Does Not Have "The Legal Authority To Engage In These Warrantless Wiretaps," ThinkProgress, January 22, 2006
http://thinkprogress.org/2006/01/22/mccain-wiretaps-illegal/

6. "Top 5 things Sen. Specter won't tell you about the Cheney-Specter bill," ACLU
http://action.aclu.org/site/PageServer?pagename=SpecterTop5

7. "NSA Bill Performs a Patriot Act," Wire News, September 13, 2006
http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,71778-1.html?tw=wn_story_page_next1

8. "Today's Republican circus trick: Legislating in the Dark," Senator Leahy, provided by the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, September 13, 2006
http://www.bordc.org/threats/leahy91306.php

9. ACLU Slams Senate Judiciary Committee Approval of NSA Spying Bills, ACLU, September 13, 2006
http://www.aclu.org/safefree/nsaspying/26722prs20060913.html
Of course I signed the petition because I don't believe that any person should be above the law and in fact those in power should perhaps be held to a higher standard as they set the precedent for ethical behavior.

I fear that the grand experiment called Democracy has already failed in this country. The corporate lawyers may have done us in last century, but that does not relieve me of my responsibility to try and help restore the fundamentals of the ideal.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Israel, Lebanon & Iran

I apologize for my political naivete. I avoided knowing about politics for as long as I possibly could and I am still in the process of getting up to speed.

The August 21, 2006 issue of the New Yorker does a much better job than I (although he reaches some of the same conclusions) of covering the Israel, Lebanon, Iran triangle in an article called "Watching Lebanon," by Seymour M. Hersh. He has much greater access than I do so I would encourage you to stroll down to your local library and take a look at the article.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Military/Economic Imperialism vs. Charity

Military/Economic Imperialism
I hate to get into the politics of military and economic imperialism, but it seems to be intrinsically tied (in a negative way) to the deterioration of the environment.

At the beginning of the Iraq War I remember commenting to a reporter friend of mine that Iran would be next in line. I don't even recall why I felt this to be true. He emphatically denied the possibility, but I fear that he will soon have to eat his denial.

The reason I bring this up tonight is because of the recent conflict between Israel and Hezbollah. Hindsight being twenty-twenty I am willing to bet that the Hezbollah leaders regret kidnapping the Israeli soldiers. For an intelligent terrorist organization it seems to have been a fairly boneheaded move. The reason I credit them with intelligence is because they have been actively working towards legitimacy via humanitarian and political efforts in Lebanon. They need this legitimacy in order to be treated with by the international community (I may be overstating this. They may just be seeking credibility within Lebanon).

One of their spokesman stated that the reaction was unexpected as prisoner exchange is a precedented practice in that geopolitical arena. Why then such a strong reaction from Israel?

Although it is pure speculation on my part I would contend that the neoconservatives who currently seem to control the US government probably encouraged Israel to retaliate in such a way as to gain the attention of the international media.

I believe that one of short term goals of the neocons is to invade Iran. There has been much posturing as of late in regards to the development of the Iranian nuclear program. This is a hard sell after the failure of the neocons to produce evidence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

But according to the popular media Iran is supplying Hezbollah with arms (although far inferior to the arms that we supply to Israel), therefore Iran is ultimately responsible and I have heard the term "victor" in the Israel-Hezbollah conflict.

You may not want to believe it, but our government is notorious for backroom dealings (think Iran-Contra etc.) and Israel is beholden to us for one billion dollars a year (the figure I have heard, but have not tried to verify) as well as the means by which they defend and offend their country.

The neocons are not trying to hide their agenda (although their motives may be suspect). Check out The Project for the New American Century. I will not provide a link, but you can do a search for it on any search engine.

They clearly state that America must fight and win two major theater wars simultaneously. They don't state that America must be prepared to fight and win two major theater wars simultaneously, but that America must fight and win two major theater wars simultaneously. The two theaters are the Middle East and Asia. (Hence the posturing over the Iran nuclear threat and the North Korean nuclear threat.) Specifically look for a document in their archives called "Rebuilding America's Defenses" which is one of the scariest articles I have ever perused.

The aforementioned article also discusses the need to dominate the globe militarily. I have recently begun to fear that China is on the list too as they are the only nation that has the near potential to become a major super power as well as competing with us for oil.

I don't think you'll hear too much about the neocons agenda on corporate controlled news outlets, but if you want to watch a scary documentary check out Why We Fight which should be available at your local Safeway or on Netflix.

The neocons are a little ambiguous as to why we should dominate the world (think supervillains from James Bond), but the theory is that it has to do with making lots of money (for people who are already millionaires) via the military-industrial complex (i.e. Haliburton and Dick Cheney) at the cost of our safety and sense of security as well as the safety of innocents in the Middle East and Asia.

118,900 Iraqi civilians dead according to http://mindprod.com/politics/iraqbodycounts.html, but you can do your own research on that. These Iraqi civilians died so that a handful of rich Americans (probably some foreigners too) could become even richer. We are the world's villain. This nation has never been more hated or feared and it ain't cause the world's jealous. It's because we are killing people wholesale. The neocons have painted a huge target on America to fatten their own gluttonous coffers. We are all being victimized under the auspices of the freedom.

An all volunteer army means we are sending only our poor and under-educated to war. We are turning the ignorant of our country into killers. Those who haven't died and lost limbs and who really work at it may recover (with counseling) from the trauma of war in twenty years or so. This trauma will affect their children and probably their children's children etc.

14 or so years after Vietnam as my Dad was beating me I can remember him saying, "I've killed men, son!" My Mom burst in yelling, "If you want to kill someone then kill me." I believe that she misunderstood what he was saying. I believe that he was trying to share with me that whatever I had experienced that day that pushed me and then him over the edge was not as terrible as the act of taking another man's life. They were divorced within a couple of years.

I saw my Dad and my best friend, at the time, off to the original Gulf War. My friend returned with Gulf War Syndrome (they actually were never able to diagnose the illness that destroyed his liver) from which he will never recover.

Charity
On a lighter note, we went to a friends wedding recently and instead of purchasing a gift (they already have plenty of pots and pans) we made a donation to Proliteracy Worldwide (specifically Women in Literacy). It may be old hat to some of you to donate to charity as a gift, but this was the first time I had ever done so. They are both professors of literature so it seemed appropriate. They said it was one of their favorites of the gifts that they had received and I tell you what, the card was enough to bring a tear to a strong man's eye.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Composting, Charity, Carbon Portfolio Strategy

Barrel Composter
I got my hands on a barrel composter and we are working on our first batch of compost created from food waste.

The composter was sitting unused behind a house that my friend is renting. The landlord is another friend of mine's best friend from high school who now lives in another city. I had previously helped develop the landlords web site so I felt comfortable asking her if I could borrow the composter. Small towns, eh?

It's funny how easily some things fall into place.


Charity
I have tracked down a charity that I believe directly applies to the principles I have been espousing in regards to global population control.

UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is an international development agency that promotes the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. UNFPA supports countries in using population data for policies and programmes to reduce poverty and to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV/AIDS, and every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect.

http://www.unfpa.org

A direct donation is not tax deductible as the organization is not based in the US. In order to make a tax deductible donation an American chapter has been organized at: http://www.americansforunfpa.org.


World Neighborhood Fund
I don't know that I ever mentioned the name and URL of the charity that I helped with some design work. It is the World Neighborhood Fund at http://worldneighborhoodfund.org. Many of their causes focus on educating and protecting women of which I am a strong proponent.

I helped them develop their logo and integrate it into their web site. I am pleased to report that the net result, according to their feedback, was an increase in donations.


Pearl Jam
I am happy to see that Pearl Jam is receiving national recognition for their Carbon Portfolio Strategy. http://www.pearljam.com/activism/carbon.php

I am a closet musician with occasional delusions of grandeur and have been trying to work out a similar strategy. I would love for my business to have net zero emissions.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Protect Internet Neutrality

savetheinternet.com



The following quote comes from an email by moveon.org:
Snopes.com, which monitors various causes that circulate on the Internet, explained:

"Simply put, network neutrality means that no web site's traffic has precedence over any other's...Whether a user searches for recipes using Google, reads an article on snopes.com, or looks at a friend's MySpace profile, all of that data is treated equally and delivered from the originating web site to the user's web browser with the same priority. In recent months, however, some of the telephone and cable companies that control the telecommunications networks over which Internet data flows have floated the idea of creating the electronic equivalent of a paid carpool lane."

If companies like AT&T have their way, Web sites ranging from Google to eBay to MoveOn either pay protection money to get into the "fast lane" or risk opening slowly on your computer. We can't let the Internet—this incredible medium which has been such a revolutionary force for democratic participation, economic innovation, and free speech—become captive to large corporations.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

The Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Colonies

In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain [George III] is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.


The signers of the Declaration represented the new states as follows:

New Hampshire
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

Massachusetts
John Hancock, Samual Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Connecticut
Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Pennsylvania
Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Delaware
Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Maryland
Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia
George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Georgia
Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Global Dimming

I caught a show on PBS (NOVA) the other night about global dimming (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/sun). Apparently pollution causes clouds to be more dense which has a cooling effect that is actually masking the true degree of global warming. The reduction of air pollutants combined with an increase of CO2 emissions, which is the path we are currently, on is potentially disastrous in terms of global warming. The conservative estimates are a 10 degree Fahrenheit temperature increase over the next century. One scientist predicts a 20 degree Fahrenheit temperature increase over the next century.

The program also intimated that pollution from Europe and North America was responsible for the Ethiopian famine of the eighties. The summer monsoon for that part of the world is caused by warm ocean temperatures. Polluted clouds kept the ocean temperatures down which meant the monsoon didn't come for 10+ years or something like that. The drought and ensuing famine impacted 50 million people.

Global warming comes up in the news just about every day now. The projections for the impact of global warming include a famine that could effect billions of people. "Major funding for NOVA is provided by Google and BP."

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Consensus

Here is a reply to the email correspondence from the last post:
...Okay, this is a summation of responses to date: We lost no matter what, apologize, and leave.

Can we offer them George as a sacrificial lamb...

Hard core. You know things have changed for the worse when you find yourself making the same stupid mistake again. Still I don't believe overstatement, or grand gesture are anything more than the fluff that sticks the gears, and slows the machine. I think if you're gonna lay an ultimatum on someone, you should be able to carry out the "or else".

Respectfully requesting a new petition please.
Peace,
L

The next email I received was a new petition from John Kerry. I thought the timing was excellent.
"Tell the truth. Fire the incompetents. Get out of Iraq. Have health care for all Americans. These are pretty simple messages, and they're worth fighting for today."

That's what I said yesterday when I appeared on "Meet the Press" to push our call for two deadlines and an exit from Iraq.

You and I both know it will take a massive citizen effort to force a President bogged down in this war to change his course - but doing so is our moral responsibility.

I urge you to join me today in calling for the withdrawal of American combat troops by the end of 2006 - and sooner than that if Iraqi politicians allow the civil war to grow and continue to delay, squabble and jockey for their own political turf while our brave soldiers sacrifice life and limb every day to create the conditions for democracy.

Sign our Out of Iraq in 2006 Petition Now

Fortunately, more and more people are stepping forward to join in our call to bring our troops home by the end of this year. Political leaders like Russ Feingold, Max Cleland, and Gary Hart have endorsed our plan -- and grassroots support for our call to action is growing.

Still, the President and his administration remain frozen in place, boxed in by George W. Bush's stubborn refusal to admit that he has America on the wrong course in Iraq. The President seems content to endlessly wait for various political factions in Iraq to get their act together.

That's totally unacceptable. And you and I have a moral responsibility to do everything in our power to make George W. Bush do what he likes to do the least - and that's confront reality head-on.

Sign our Out of Iraq in 2006 Petition Now

I'm not suggesting that this will be easy. The fact is, it would be far easier to challenge the President on other topics if all we were interested in is scoring political points.

But, no one in 2006 -- Democratic or Republican, liberal or conservative -- can refuse to step forward and offer clear ideas on Iraq. And, with 133,000 courageous American men and women putting their lives on the line for democracy in Iraq, it is essential for you and other members of our three-million person johnkerry.com community to take action.

I need you to join me in leading an all-out effort to turn this President's wrong-headed policy on Iraq around. And ask your friends and family to do the same by forwarding this email to them.

Sign our Out of Iraq in 2006 Petition Now

Our soldiers have done their jobs. They can't resolve political differences between Iraqis in an escalating civil war. It can't be done militarily; it can't be done from a Humvee or a helicopter. It can only be accomplished by a dramatic change of course, turning away from George W. Bush's aimless "stay for as long as it takes" approach. You and I have to try to make this administration change their approach before it's too late.

I urge you not to wait another day before signing onto this profoundly important fight for a better way.

Sincerely,

John Kerry

P.S. Late Saturday night I went to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington. The Wall is a powerful reminder of our moral obligation to tell the truth. As you walk down the ramp, you find yourself literally engulfed as the Wall, tens of thousands of names etched on it, gets higher and higher.

There are far too many people whose names are on the Wall who died after leaders in Washington knew that our policy wasn't working. We need to get Iraq right for our soldiers today before we let history repeat itself.

I signed this petition as well.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Bring the Troops Home

It's been a while since my last post. I ended up on John Kerry's email list and received the following:
...Half the names on the Vietnam Memorial wall were added after America's leaders knew our strategy would not work. It was immoral then and it would be immoral now to engage in the same delusion. You and I have to do everything in our power to stop that from happening again.

Two weeks ago, President Bush said that the timing of complete withdrawal from Iraq "...will be decided by future presidents...."1 But this is our responsibility now, not the responsibility of future presidents or a future Congress.

I believe that American combat troops should come home from Iraq in 2006 - not the distant future as President Bush does. Furthermore, I believe we must set a May 15th deadline for the Iraqis to form an effective unity government. And, if the Iraqi politicians choose to ignore that deadline, then I believe things will only get worse and we will have no choice but to withdraw immediately.

It's not enough to express our convictions -- we need to back up our beliefs with concrete actions. Today I introduced a resolution into the Senate that will give members of both parties the chance to tell the president that our course in Iraq must change.

I am setting tough deadlines for action in Iraq, and you know as well as I do how fiercely the extreme right wing will attack us. So I'm asking you today to be a citizen co-sponsor of this important resolution. Show the White House and my Senate colleagues a groundswell of support.

Sign up today as a citizen co-sponsor of my Senate resolution

President Bush is willing to let American soldiers and their families wait endlessly, while risking life and limb, as some Iraqi politicians incite sectarianism to grow their personal power and private militias. But we are now in the third war in Iraq in as many years. The first was against Saddam Hussein and his alleged weapons of mass destruction. The second was against Jihadist terrorists who the Administration said it was better "to fight over there than here." Now we find our troops in the middle of an escalating civil war.

We will defeat Al Qaeda faster when we stop serving as their best recruitment tool. Unpinning our military from Iraq will allow us to prosecute the war against Al Qaeda more effectively -- both inside and outside Iraq. And regaining our global options will also strengthen our hand in addressing the Iranian nuclear threat.

For speaking the truth, the right wing and their surrogates will question our courage and commitment. They're going to question our patriotism.

Only one thing will overcome this onslaught and put our country on the right path: a truly massive and visible groundswell of support for this call to bring home the troops. America has prospered throughout its history because we have never allowed bad leaders to pursue bad ideas for very long. The Bush administration uses fear as a weapon against dissent. But you have the power to stand up to this new McCarthyism: show the depth and breadth of support for a timely withdrawal by co-sponsoring my Senate resolution now.

Sign up today as a citizen co-sponsor of my Senate resolution

We want democracy in Iraq, but it's now the job of Iraqis to build it. Our troops have performed gallantly and heroically. The best way to keep faith with them is to set deadlines for bringing our troops home and getting Iraq on its own two feet. That's the only way to give their sacrifice its best chance of resulting in success.

Thank you,

John Kerry

P.S. It's important that we show a huge groundswell of support. Please forward this email to friends, family, and co-workers who share our belief that we must get tough with the Iraqis and get our combat troops home.


1. White House press conference, March 21, 2006

Correspondence from a friend is how I ended up on the Kerry email list. The same friend sent me the following message:
...I had anticipated signing John Kerry's petition to withdraw troops from Iraq...but I read it and I don't agree. Why do polititians have to be so extreem? May 15 sounds a bit too soon to demand the Iraqi's get thier act together, after we took out their old government. We may as compassionate individuals see a need to help them get organized. Back when we had a budget, we would do that for countries we hadn't been pummelling with bombs, but those countries were functional as offshore labor for cheap...the jobs "Americans don't want anyway". Why do polititians have to be so extreem.
So I'm looking for input here: What should we do about Iraq? How do we ween the orphans we made? Anyone...

To which I replied:
...It seems like we need to be a little more pro-active in preventing this type of action. There will never be a "good" time to pull out of Iraq. We replaced a stable government with a civil war and I don't know that the presence of our troops is making the situation more stable. We screwed the pooch on this deal and we will never be able to remove our troops unless we just bite the bullet and bring them home.

There is no way we can win this war. Not on a humanitarian level and not on a PR level. There is no way at this point to avoid future loss of life. Do you think an apology will cut it? About all we can do is get the hell out, apologize, and throw blood money at the problem. (I signed the petition circulated by John Kerry.)...
What can you do?

Addendum: I don't think that John Kerry has an expectation that the Iraqi's will form a unity government by May 15th. I think the petition is a way of wearing the congress down until we can get congress to the point that it is ready to pull us out of this war.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Bubble Economy

Is the global economy a bubble? I can see where it could be deleterious to the economy for people to believe that it is a bubble. A belief that the bubble is about to burst has the potential to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

As a business person it’s in my interest to maintain a client’s belief that their goods and services, albeit superfluous, have monetary value. As it is in my interest to convince clients that my services are necessary and have value.

If we are thinking in terms of a future recession then what is the best course of action? Try to make as much as possible in one's chosen field while it is still lucrative? Invest in oil? Learn to grow food?

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Wacky Weather

The weather this winter has been wacky. No one with credentials is blaming global warming, but I have a hunch we may be in for wacky weather and early hurricane seasons for the foreseeable future.

The fruit trees in the Yakima Valley began budding a couple of weeks ago which is extremely early. It means that orchard heaters will have to run from now until spring in order to ensure that the frost doesn’t ruin this season’s crop.

I can see where a combination of Global Warming and Peak Oil may cause the cost of Washington fruit to soar.

Of course the organic apples which are readily available in “the Burg” actually come from New Zealand. I have no idea how the weather in New Zealand is behaving.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

City Planning

It is my second quarter as adjunct professor here at Central. The logistics alone can be a lot of work. This quarter I have the students putting together a tabloid newspaper section exploring the ramifications of the Comprehensive Growth and Development plan on which the city is currently working. It is of interest to me as it will determine the direction of growth for the City of Ellensburg.

There are four scenarios proposed by the consultants. Scenario #1 allows for large retail only in the downtown area. Scenario #2 does not allow for large retail. Scenario #3 allows for large retail development at the west interchange. Scenario #4 allows for large retail development at the south interchange.

I have attended a couple of meetings in regards to the city planning. The first of which was put on by a group called Citizens Against Sprawl. Citizens against sprawl is pushing for Scenario #1 and as far as I know is the only citizens group with an agenda in this debate. The reasoning of CAS is that growth is inevitable, but should be restricted to downtown.

The second meeting I attended was a city council study session. The study sessions allow for citizen questions and comments. As far as I can tell CAS members are attending the study sessions in order to influence the city council via questions and comments.

I tend to lean more towards Scenario #2 which is basically the same plan which was laid down in 1995 and limits the size of downtown retail outlets. I don’t think that big box stores anywhere in town are a great idea.

It begs the question of where and how do people shop. Is it better to have large retail downtown and save people from having to drive to Yakima or Seattle to do their shopping? What about peak oil? In the long term are big box stores going to survive peak oil? Will the goods become too expensive for consumers?

Chevron ran an ad in the latest issue of the New Yorker in which they alluded to the fact that we are past peak oil already. I don’t know that the current city council has taken this into consideration. I do know that all the scenarios are based on driving as the primary method of transportation.

(Scenarios #1, #2, and possibly #4 will work for me in regards to biking access from my current residence.)

There have also been allegations that the placement of the retail properties especially at the south interchange has been heavily influenced by private land owners. It seems that those with a financial interest are making sure they provide input.

We’ll let things play out and see what happens. I am curious to see what the students are able to put together. I am also curious to see which Scenario the city will choose and what the ramifications of that decision will be.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Alito

According to the Daily Record Justice Alito was confirmed to the Supreme Court.

I did what I could (as did many others), but it appears the attempted filibuster was more of a vote of no confidence than an actual means of blocking Alito's confirmation.

Ahh, politics.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Support the Alito Filibuster & Global Warming Hits Home

Support the Alito Filibuster
Sign the filibuster petition.
It looks like John Kerry is working on getting a filibuster going to block Judge Alito's nomination to the Supreme Court. I received an email from a friend,
Dear _____,

Yesterday, Senator Ted Kennedy and I told our colleagues that we supported a filibuster of Judge Alito's nomination for the Supreme Court. And we weren't alone. But the bottom line is that it takes more than two or three people to filibuster successfully. It's not "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington." If you want to stop Judge Alito from becoming Justice Alito, use your own email list and organize. We can't just preach to our own choir. We need to prove to everyone - from our friends and neighbors to our fellow Senators - that the American people know Judge Alito will take our country in the wrong direction, and they expect something to be done about it.

So I'm asking you to join Senator Kennedy, me, and concerned citizens across America who are signing this petition to support a filibuster. If there was ever a time to forward an email on to friends and family, this is it. One way or another, we're going to find out in the next few days if Judge Alito is going to become Justice Alito. You know where I stand. The time to make your voice heard is now. So please sign this filibuster petition and get as many friends as you can to do the same.

If Judge Alito gets on the Supreme Court, it will be an incredible mistake for America. And remember, this is one mistake that we can never take back.

I voted against Justice Roberts, but I feel even more strongly about Judge Alito. Why? Rather than live up to the promise of "equal justice under the law," he has consistently made it harder for the most disadvantaged Americans to have their day in court. He routinely defers to excessive government power no matter how much government abuses that power. And, to this date, his only statement on record regarding a woman's right to privacy is that she doesn't have one.

There isn't a shred of doubt in my opposition to Judge Alito's nomination. I spent a lot of time over the last few years thinking about what kind of person deserves to sit on the highest court in the land, so I don't hesitate a minute in saying that Judge Alito is not that person. His entire legal career shows that, if confirmed, he will take America backward. People can say all they want that "elections have consequences." Trust me, I understand. But that doesn't mean we have to stay silent about Judge Alito's nomination.

President Bush had the opportunity to nominate someone who would unite the country in a time of extreme division. He chose not to do this, and that is his right. But we have every right -- in fact, we have a responsibility -- to fight against a radical ideological shift on the Supreme Court. This nomination was a sellout to the demands of the extreme right wing of the Republican Party. The president gave no thought to what the American people really wanted - or needed. So now that the president and Judge Alito have proven they won't stand up for the majority of Americans, we have to stand up. We have to speak out. That's the true meaning of "advice and consent."

Sincerely,

John Kerry
I went to the Web site and added my info to the following petition:
I fully support a filibuster against Judge Alito's nomination to the Supreme Court.

Judge Alito's nomination does not serve the best interests of our nation; it serves to appease extreme right wing elements of the Republican Party. His nomination is an incredible mistake for America, and only the United States Senate can put a stop to it.

I think it's time that the United States Senate confirmed once and for all that extreme ideology has no place on the highest court in the land. This is a critical fight for the future of our country. That's why I've taken the time to sign this petition. And I hope that's why the Senate will step up to the plate and do the right thing for America: support a filibuster against Samuel Alito.

Your name here



From moveon.org I received the following:
Please call Sens. Murray and Cantwell right now and ask them to join the filibuster against Samuel Alito.
Senator Patty Murray
Phone: 202-224-2621
District Offices:
Everett: 425-259-6515
Seattle: 206-553-5545
Spokane: 509-624-9515
Vancouver: 360-696-7797
Yakima: 509-453-7462

Senator Maria Cantwell
Phone: 202-224-3441
District Offices:
Everett: 425-303-0114
Richland: 509-946-8106
Seattle: 206-220-6400
Spokane: 509-353-2507
Tacoma: 253-572-2281
Vancouver: 360-696-7838
I was not able to get through to the area code 202 phone numbers. I was able to leave a voice message for Senator Murray at the Seattle number and a message with the Senator Cantwell's receptionist at her Seattle number.

We will see if it makes a difference.



Global Warming Hits Home

The following is the headline from the local promotional newspaper that the Daily Record has recently begun throwing on my driveway:
Fungus linked to global warming found at Snoqualmie Pass
Apparently the spread of the fungus is allowed by recent climate changes and it is wiping out amphibian species around the globe. "One third of the world's amphibian species are threatened."

They haven't found any living, adult, Pacific Tree Frogs at the Snoqualmie site since May.

Snoqualmie Pass is about 45 minutes, by car, from my house.
I've mentioned previously that you can also take the walking tour at the Asahel Curtis exit and see that the tops of all the large trees have been killed by air pollution.

These examples are a little too close to home to make me feel comfortable.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Infinite War

The abuse of executive power seems to be the topic of the moment. I caught George Bush on TV this morning and he took some heat from the press in regards to wire-tapping and human rights violations. It is a little scary that Judge Alito is probably going to be confirmed as the next US Supreme Court Justice as he supports a stronger executive branch.

Bush claims that he has done nothing illegal in regards to wire-tapping, but in the press conference he appeared to backtrack saying that the law in question is out of date. From The Boston Globe "Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which specifically requires the attorney general to obtain prior authorization from a judge, in a secret expedited proceeding, before engaging in domestic spying or wiretapping. Now, the president says that that law is ''insufficient" and ''outdated" to meet the current threats in the war on terror because it was passed nearly 30 years ago. The Constitution took effect in 1789 -- and it is still good law today."



I also get a little nervous when Bush talks about North Korea. Apparently talks have broken down because of counterfeiting and the President talked about the need to defend our currency. I worry that when the President says defend he actually means attack. I think he mentioned trade sanctions in regards to stopping the counterfeiting, but the rhetoric may be setting the stage for the next volley of the, "Infinite War."

If I get a vote I vote no on, "Infinite War."



The war on terrorism seems to have suffered a set-back as the Palestinian people have elected the Islamic Hamas to lead them. It's my understanding that the Hamas group was founded to drive the Jewish people out of Israel. This does not bode well for Israeli-Palestinian relations.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Be Like the Ant

I mentioned in the last few posts that I have been reading Cradle to Cradle, by William McDonough and Michael Braungart. One of the authors is an architect and the other a chemist. They are exploring ways to retool manufacturing in order to eliminate waste and create products that can be returned to the earth.

One of the models they look at is the ant. Ants have a greater total biomass than humans, but instead of destroying their habitat they nourish the environment in which they exist. The authors’ premise is that humans should be able to do the same thing. They don’t address population as an issue because their goal is that humans live in a non-destructive manner. As long as all human action supports the biosphere than population should not be an issue.

It is exciting to read about some of the projects in which they are involved. One of the things they do when looking at the creation of a project is to pare away any toxic substance that might normally be used. By doing so up front they are able to simplify the ingredients and do not need to add chemicals to balance the toxins.

One of the products they retooled was a bath and body wash product. They started by asking (pg 146), “What kind of soap does the river (the Rhine) want?” They winnowed the list of ingredients down from an average of 22, many of which were toxic, to nine. The product ended up being cheaper to manufacture. They switched the packaging (pg 147), “…now in pure polypropylene packaging after Michael and the researchers found that antimony from the original PET bottles was leaching into the soap."

I wonder if antimony is leaching into our sodas and bottled water? Antimony being (pg 37), “…a toxic heavy metal known to cause cancer under certain circumstances."

Packaging is one of the issues that really interests me as the only solid waste I currently produce is food packaging. The authors offer a number of solutions in regards to packaging, but I don’t know that they touch on biodegradable packaging for liquids.

Biodegradable packaging also necessitates that we handle our garbage differently. We would need to compost or allow the packaging to biodegrade rather than throw it in landfills.

When one reads the book one begins to realize the scope of the manufacturing paradigm. To truly reach the authors’ goal one would need to backtrack. If we are creating soap we need to look at the processes that make the soap. Then the processes (machines) that make the machines to make the soap etc. We need to look at the methods of harvesting resources, shipping etc. In order to live like ants we need to retool the gathering of resources, production, and shipping for every manufacturing process. It’s a tall order, but I am glad that people have already gotten started on the project.

Cradle to Cradle is an interesting read and a step in the right direction. We are not yet ants, however, and therefore I believe that we do need to address our population. Until humans across the board are living in a restorative manner I believe that we should reduce our overall footprint.



It think it is interesting that the authors of Cradle to Cradle, like many of the authors I have been reading, take a moral stand as one of their angles. They discuss intergenerational tyranny among other things. Ethics is a fascinating area that I have only just begun to study.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Wastewater

In regards to recovering wastewater the following comes from Cradle to Cradle page 126,
"In 1992 a a model waste treatment system developed by Michael and his colleagues was opened at Silva Jardin, in the province of Rio, Brazil. It was locally fabricated using clay pipes that carried wastewater from village residents to a large settling tank, then into an intricately connected series of small ponds full of an astonishing diversity of plants, microbes, snails, fish, and shrimp. The system was designed to recover nutrients along the way, producing clean, safe drinking water as a by-product. Farmers competed for access to this purified water and to the sludge’s valuable nitrogen, phosphorus, and trace materials as nutrients for farming."
This type of system requires a separation of biological and technological wastes.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Credible Resources

Thanks for the comment from Lauren. It's nice to get feedback. Lauren's blog is at ardenteden.blogspot.com and well worth the read.

I was very interested in her post regarding the kilowatt game as this is one of the areas in my personal life that I would like to revisit. I am a little bit scared to count everything that I have plugged in at the moment.

Sustainable Girl had a post a while back regarding electricity consumption. In her post she included a link to Mr. Electricity who seems knowledgeable about the subject.



As I mentioned in previous posts I am currently reading Cradle to Cradle. I don’t know the page numbers off hand, but we arrived at an interesting point in regards to separating waste streams. If we are able to keep our waste water biological and non-toxic then we can use natural methods to purify the water (i.e. snails, lichen, etc.). I will find the page numbers and drop in a quote.



I’ve stated before that my number one global concern (and I am not alone in this) has to do with population. I have yet to find useful, credible resources on the internet that address this issue. If anyone knows of a useful, credible and/or comprehensive resource that I can check out then please let me know. Thanks.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

It's Not Easy Being Green

I saw a sticker on a bike the other day that said, "Fight terrorism, ride a bike." I am not a huge fan of stickers, but I appreciate the sentiment.

I recently took some heat over my methods. I can be belligerent in my views. I have heard a number of arguments as to why individuals should not attempt to change their worldview and/or lifestyles. Although my persuasion techniques are still being refined I see debate over my methods as a distraction from the true discourse. I do try and listen to the feedback, but feel that a critique of methods is also a diversion.

Another critique was that blogging is worthless. (Not a direct quote.) My response was that we should be engaged on every level (from the personal to the global) and at every possible moment in the restoration of the planet.

I can see where individuals can be a little put off by my spiel. I generally start with the fact that the western lifestyle is immoral. Commercialism requires selfish consumers. "You need this." Or, "you deserve this." We are conditioned to selfishness such that we will purchase the endless parade of consumer garbage presented to us.

It's ok to piss people off. I will continue to refine my technique, but the stakes are too high to quit.

What are the issues? How are you involved in the restorative process? Let me know. I may have overlooked something.

The world is big. "Go big or go home."

Monday, January 09, 2006

Women's Education

It is my understanding that the higher a woman's level of education the longer she will postpone child rearing. If we take as a given that overpopulation is the number one issue facing the environment then it seems logical that one of our main focuses should be on women's education.

One of the reasons I have associated myself with the World Neighborhood Fund is that they will be working with Bahia Street which “breaks cycles of poverty, inequality and violence by providing high quality educational opportunities for economically-impoverished young women and girls in Brazil.”

This year the WNF will also be working with the dZi Foundation. “The dZi Foundation implements, supports, and funds projects to improve the basic quality of the lives of children, women, and men in mountain communities with a focus on education, health, culture, and welfare.”

And they will be working with Watoto wa Dunia “Watoto wa Dunia Educating and empowering women and children, reducing hunger, stopping AIDS, and developing leadership.”

Educating and empowering women is a worthy goal and may be the key to ending our ongoing ecological disaster.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Is Everything Squared Away?

Did they fix the world while I was sleeping? Probably not I think there would have been a special report.

What do McDonough & Braungart have to say? They talk about eco-effectiveness, about working on the right products and services and systems. They mention that ants have a greater biomass than humans, but are a part of the cradle to cradle cycle of nature.

They talk about long term quality of life vs. short term convenience and profit.

They bring up the fact that all processes have side effects and that it is the responsibility of the eco-designer to consider the whole process.

They ask is it enough to make the right product with the wrong process?

And then they bring up the eco-roof which is composed of soil and flora. It resolves issues such as run-off and heat generation. I picture it like the canopy of the rain forest.

The ideas are not bad, but I think they are trying to answer the wrong question.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Happy New Year

This blog continued from earth.toryj.com.

A new year and I am ready to dive back into the world of blogging. It’s easy to get distracted by busyness and work, but I continue to research and apply what I am discovering in regards to existing in a life friendly manner.

I have made some changes in my life over the last five or six months. I began researching the environment, started a blog, stopped driving, switched to an all organic diet, drastically reduced my consumption of material goods, turned down my water heater, switched to a handkerchief, began composting, taught a college class in which a major project was the creation of a Web site based on a worthy cause, tried to share my research/philosophy/understanding with as many people as possible, tried to stop direct mail from reaching me, stopped drinking colas, reduced my water usage, began doing pro-bono work for a nonprofit, stood in silent vigils protesting the Iraq war, joined with community members for discussions and a progressive film series, wrote my congresspersons regarding a number of vital issues, helped save (at least temporarily) the integrity of the Arctic Wildlife Refuge, began frequenting my local library, added my voice to the choir etc.

Why?

We should be working on as many levels as possible (from the personal to the global) to help create a shift in paradigm. What’s the solution? How are we going to save the planet from the ecological disaster of which we are in the midst? Everybody should be devoting a considerable portion of their time to researching, learning, planning and living differently.

It’s not that this disaster is going to happen in the future. It’s going on now. Just turn on the news or late night PBS. The projections in regards to global warming, population, water tables, oceanic resources etc. are terrifying. America is not currently bearing the brunt of the four horseman, but it’s coming. A worldwide depression seems inevitable.

What then?

I believe that we should be working towards a reduced and stable world population and a reduced and stable global economy. There is a certain inevitability to the reduction in population, but we should be pro-active in our approach rather than allowing our numbers to be reduced via famine, plague, environmental toxicity and war.

The latest book I’ve started is Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, by William McDonough & Michael Braungart.

It begins with the normal gloom and doom. Specifically the toxicity of one’s personal environment. Basically we are surrounded by electronics, and plastics that emit toxins. I believe that they have chosen the personal health angle to try and break through the resistance many people have to change.

The book itself is a model of the cradle to cradle philosophy. It is composed of some magic synthetic. However, it still needs to be produced and shipped.

The ideas expressed in the book may be an aspect of a solution, but for the time being I think that we should look at consuming fewer material goods.

I was watching a show on concept cars the other day and one of the cars was based on the cradle to cradle principle. The plastics were made out of soy and the tires out of corn. There is not land to grow enough soy to feed all the cattle and still make cars for 6.5 billion people.

Not to mention that in Lester R. Brown’s book, Plan B: Rescuing a Planet under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble, he mentions that every five cars in the US requires a football field of asphalt (pg 49).

An author for Harper’s talks about the contribution of our current farming techniques to global warming (I am sorry I can’t find the URL. If I can track it down I will update this entry). So it’s all well and good that we make everything out of natural components, but not only are our croplands in trouble, but they are actually contributing on a number of levels to the destruction of life on the planet.

I was just reviewing my notes on the Lester R. Brown book. They look something like:
aids epidemic pg 5 - aquifers, climate change, eroding soils, expanding deserts pg 6 - food first pg 7 - population doubles water use triples pg 10 - Gobi Desert China pg 13.

Chapter 2
Falling water tables - rivers don’t reach the sea pg 24 - Yellow River, Colorado, Nile - wars coming over water - countries import water as grain - farmers vs cities pg 35 - When will the bubble burst? - food shortages = destabilized governments

Chapter 3
1/3 of topsoil eroding faster than can be replenished pg 43 - dustbowl created when wind erosion out of control - agricultural expansion into marginal land - every five cars in US equals one football field of asphalt pg 49 - cropland 723 million hectares 1981 > 647 million in 2002 pg 53 - rainforest for soybeans pg 55


Lester Brown promised a solution, but I didn’t make it to the end before I had to return the book to the library. I am still planning to finish it. I’ll let you know how it ends.

So. How do we reduce global population in a humanitarian manner? And how do we reign in the devastation of our current economy? I am open to suggestions.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Blog Start

Unfortunately due to abuse I have had to remove my original blog.