Category Archives: Renewables

S. David Freeman: Seven Decades of Participating in Power for All of Us

If the planet Earth were animate, it would have shuddered at the news that S. David Freeman passed away this month. Freeman was that important to Earth’s future.  In his 94th year, he inspired all he met with his burning passion, relentless energy, and keen intellect.

Freeman, an engineer and a lawyer, knew where decisions were being made or ignored regarding our energy future. He mocked the foolish embrace of fossil fuels and warned all who would listen about the deadly impact of coal, oil, and natural gas consumption on our   environment. This humble son of an immigrant umbrella repair man made the most of his formidable talents over seven decades and helped steer mankind toward renewables and energy efficiency. Freeman worked to prevent the perilous use of fossil and nuclear fuels.

Freeman was one of the first environmentalists to warn us of the dangers posed by fossil fuels and he was one of the first to offer practical remedies.  He started his career in the 1950s as an engineer with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) before holding a series of positions with the Federal Power Commission (FPC) and the Johnson White House. In 1974 Freeman    authored the Ford Foundation’s groundbreaking report “A Time to Choose: America’s Energy Future.”  He was an adviser to President Jimmy Carter, who appointed him chairman of the giant TVA in 1978.

At the TVA, Freeman managed with a no-nonsense, down-to-earth, results-focused approach to reform. Using what he learned at TVA, Freeman became known for turning around hidebound giant utilities that were unable to process evidence contrary to their wasteful ways and environmental destructiveness. The tenacious Tennessean had no patience for self-serving talk that avoided obvious solutions. Freeman was a serious advocate who used humor, wit, and charm to make his case in the court of public opinion and the corridors of power. “Mother Nature doesn’t care what we say, Mother Nature only cares about what we do,” he would remind bloviators!

Freeman shut down or suspended construction of half a dozen nuclear reactors at the TVA, scoring them as dangerous, uneconomical, and unnecessary. He liked “free” sources of energy, such as solar and wind, instead of lethal coal, gas, oil, and uranium that had to be ripped perilously from the bowels of the Earth. As for vast opportunities afforded by energy efficient sources, he paraphrased Benjamin Franklin, saying a megawatt of energy that isn’t wasted is a megawatt you don’t have to produce.

In between his clearheaded impact on conferences around the world, advising presidents, governors, members of Congress and parliaments, and many cogent writings, Freeman ran three other giant utilities (other than TVA, Freeman ran utilities in California, Texas, and New York). At Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), he implemented a public vote against the troubled Rancho Seco Nuclear Generating Station, replacing its energy with conservation and renewables.

In the decades I knew David, he always made the changes he implemented look easy because he so deftly and honestly used evidence, facts, and economics— sometimes to rectify his previous positions. He used his knowledge to serve the public that was too often shoved aside by bureaucratic and corporate vested interests.

Freeman had that unparalleled combination of managerial experience, scholarly knowledge, and programmatic urgency in confronting the climate crisis. We would invite him for brown bag lunches with younger leaders working on energy transition. He would “out urgent” them, mocking dilatory cap and trade ideas while demanding  mandatory reduction in fossil fuels and ending nuclear power, and replacing them with job producing energy conservation, retrofitting homes and buildings as solar and wind ramp up. Freeman said, “We need to pass a law that says that every utility in this country must reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 5% of 2020 emissions every year, starting now, and until we get down to zero.”

You may be wondering why you haven’t seen Freeman on television or read about his urgent proposals, as a doer, covering the crisis of climate and regular air water soil safeguards from ruinous extractive fuels.

Certainly, the mass media has devoted many hours and pages to these subjects, interviewing far lesser and often conflicted people on NPR, PBS, commercial networks, and major newspapers. I made many calls to energy and environmental reporters about David’s availability, but to no avail.

Was it ageism? Which is rampant. Was it his free-thinking challenges to named influential corporations? Was it that he was seen as no longer an adviser to powerful officials? At age 93 he was flying to California negotiating the closure of the last nuke plant there with Pacific Gas Electric. He co-authored a book All-Electric America: A Climate Solution and the Hopeful Future with Leah Y. Parks in 2018 and his human interest memoir The Green Cowboy: An Energetic Life in 2016. Recently he was meeting with the pro-“Green New Deal” members of Congress.

But the media wasn’t calling. Until, that is, David’s “energetic” life came to an end and the obituary pages gave him his due in the Washington Post, the New York Times, and other outlets. Unlike like celebrity entertainers and athletes, however, he didn’t make page one. But his prescient legacy is an enduring example of how we can save our green planet and brighten our future. Biographers may wish to wrap their minds around this functional, enlightened life of such immense productivity.

The Key to the Environmental Crisis Is Beneath Our Feet

The Green New Deal resolution that was introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives in February hit a wall in the Senate, where it was called unrealistic and unaffordable. In a Washington Post article titled “The Green New Deal Sets Us Up for Failure. We Need a Better Approach,” former Colorado governor and Democratic presidential candidate John Hickenlooper framed the problem like this:

The resolution sets unachievable goals. We do not yet have the technology needed to reach “net-zero greenhouse gas emissions” in 10 years. That’s why many wind and solar companies don’t support it. There is no clean substitute for jet fuel. Electric vehicles are growing quickly, yet are still in their infancy. Manufacturing industries such as steel and chemicals, which account for almost as much carbon emissions as transportation, are even harder to decarbonize.

Amid this technological innovation, we need to ensure that energy is not only clean but also affordable. Millions of Americans struggle with “energy poverty.” Too often, low-income Americans must choose between paying for medicine and having their heat shut off. …

If climate change policy becomes synonymous in the U.S. psyche with higher utility bills, rising taxes and lost jobs, we will have missed our shot.

The problem may be that a transition to 100% renewables is the wrong target. Reversing climate change need not mean emptying our pockets and tightening our belts. It is possible to sequester carbon and restore our collapsing ecosystem using the financial resources we already have, and it can be done while at the same time improving the quality of our food, water, air and general health.

The Larger Problem – and the Solution – Is in the Soil

Contrary to popular belief, the biggest environmental polluters are not big fossil fuel companies. They are big agribusiness and factory farming, with six powerful food industry giants – Archer Daniels Midland, Cargill, Dean Foods, Dow AgroSciences, Tyson and Monsanto (now merged with Bayer) – playing a major role. Oil-dependent farming, industrial livestock operations, the clearing of carbon-storing fields and forests, the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and the combustion of fuel to process and distribute food are estimated to be responsible for as much as one-half of human-caused pollution. Climate change, while partly a consequence of the excessive relocation of carbon and other elements from the earth into the atmosphere, is more fundamentally just one symptom of overall ecosystem distress from centuries of over-tilling, over-grazing, over-burning, over-hunting, over-fishing and deforestation.

Big Ag’s toxin-laden, nutrient-poor food is also a major contributor to the U.S. obesity epidemic and many other diseases. Yet these are the industries getting the largest subsidies from U.S. taxpayers, to the tune of more than $20 billion annually. We don’t hear about this for the same reason that they get the subsidies – they have massively funded lobbies capable of bribing their way into special treatment.

The story we do hear, as Judith Schwartz observes in The Guardian, is: “Climate change is global warming caused by too much CO2 in the atmosphere due to the burning of fossil fuels. We stop climate change by making the transition to renewable energy.” Schwartz does not discount this part of the story but points to several problems with it:

One is the uncomfortable fact that even if, by some miracle, we could immediately cut emissions to zero, due to inertia in the system it would take more than a century for CO2 levels to drop to 350 parts per million, which is considered the safe threshold. Plus, here’s what we don’t talk about when we talk about climate: we can all go solar and drive electric cars and still have the problems – the unprecedented heat waves, the wacky weather – that we now associate with CO2-driven climate change.

But that hasn’t stopped investors, who see the climate crisis as simply another profit opportunity. According to a study by Morgan Stanley analysts reported in Forbes in October, halting global warming and reducing net carbon emissions to zero would take an investment of $50 trillion over the next three decades, including $14 trillion for renewables; $11 trillion to build the factories, batteries and infrastructure necessary for a widespread switch to electric vehicles; $2.5 trillion for carbon capture and storage; $20 trillion to provide clean hydrogen fuel for power, cars and other industries, and $2.7 trillion for biofuels. The article goes on to highlight the investment opportunities presented by these challenges by recommending various big companies expected to lead the transition, including  Exxon, Chevron, BP, General Electric, Shell and similar corporate giants – many of them the very companies blamed by Green New Deal advocates for the crisis.

A Truly Green New Deal

There is a much cheaper and faster way to sequester carbon from the atmosphere that doesn’t rely on these corporate giants to transition us to 100% renewables. Additionally, it can be done while at the same time reducing the chronic diseases that impose an even heavier cost on citizens and governments. Our most powerful partner is nature itself, which over hundreds of millions of years has evolved the most efficient carbon sequestration system on the planet. As David Perry writes on the World Economic Forum website:

This solution leverages a natural process that every plant undergoes, powered by a source that is always available, costs little to nothing to run and does not cause further pollution. This power source is the sun, and the process is photosynthesis.

A plant takes carbon dioxide out of the air and, with the help of sunlight and water, converts it to sugars. Every bit of that plant – stems, leaves, roots – is made from carbon that was once in our atmosphere. Some of this carbon goes into the soil as roots. The roots, then, release sugars to feed soil microbes. These microbes perform their own chemical processes to convert carbon into even more stable forms.

Perry observes that before farmland was cultivated, it had soil carbon levels of from 3% to 7%. Today, those levels are roughly 1% carbon. If every acre of farmland globally were returned to a soil carbon level of just 3%, 1 trillion tons of carbon dioxide would be removed from the atmosphere and stored in the soil – equal to the amount of carbon that has been drawn into the atmosphere since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution 200 years ago. The size of the potential solution matches the size of the problem.

So how can we increase the carbon content of soil? Through “regenerative” farming practices, says Perry, including planting cover crops, no-till farming, rotating crops, reducing chemicals and fertilizers, and managed grazing (combining trees, forage plants and livestock together as an integrated system, a technique called “silvopasture”). These practices have been demonstrated to drive carbon into the soil and keep it there, resulting in carbon-enriched soils that are healthier and more resilient to extreme weather conditions and show improved water permeability, preventing the rainwater runoff that contributes to rising sea levels and rising temperatures. Evaporation from degraded, exposed soil has been shown to cause 1,600% more heat annually than all the world’s powerhouses combined. Regenerative farming methods also produce increased microbial diversity, higher yields, reduced input requirements, more nutritious harvests and increased farm profits.

These highly favorable results were confirmed by Paul Hawken and his team in the project that was the subject of his best-selling 2016 book, Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming. The project involved evaluating the 100 most promising solutions to the environmental crisis for cost and effectiveness. The results surprised the researchers themselves. The best-performing sector was not “Transport” or “Materials” or “Buildings and Cities” or even “Electricity Generation.” It was the sector called “Food,” including how we grow our food, market it and use it. Of the top 30 solutions, 12 were various forms of regenerative agriculture, including silvopasture, tropical staple trees, conservation agriculture, tree intercropping, managed grazing, farmland restoration and multistrata agroforestry.

How to Fund It All

If regenerative farming increases farmers’ bottom lines, why aren’t they already doing it? For one thing, the benefits of the approach are not well known. But even if they were, farmers would have a hard time making the switch. As noted in a Rolling Stone article titled “How Big Agriculture Is Preventing Farmers From Combating the Climate Crisis”:

[I]implementing these practices requires an economic flexibility most farmers don’t have, and which is almost impossible to achieve within a government-backed system designed to preserve a large-scale, corporate-farming monoculture based around commodity crops like corn and soybeans, which often cost smaller farmers more money to grow than they can make selling.

Farmers are locked into a system that is destroying their farmlands and the planet, because a handful of giant agribusinesses have captured Congress and the regulators. One proposed solution is to transfer the $20 billion in subsidies that now go mainly to Big Ag into a fund to compensate small farmers who transition to regenerative practices. We also need to enforce the antitrust laws and break up the biggest agribusinesses, something for which legislation is now pending in Congress.

At the grassroots level, we can vote with our pocketbooks by demanding truly nutritious foods. New technology is in development that can help with this grassroots approach by validating how nutrient-dense our foods really are. One such device, developed by Dan Kittredge and team, is a hand-held consumer spectrometer called a Bionutrient Meter, which tests nutrient density at point of purchase. The goal is to bring transparency to the marketplace, empowering consumers to choose their foods based on demonstrated nutrient quality, providing economic incentives to growers and grocers to drive regenerative practices across the system. Other new technology measures nutrient density in the soil, allowing farmers to be compensated in proportion to their verified success in carbon sequestration and soil regeneration.

Granted, $20 billion is unlikely to be enough to finance the critically needed transition from destructive to regenerative agriculture, but Congress can supplement this fund by tapping the deep pocket of the central bank. In the last decade, the Fed has demonstrated that its pool of financial liquidity is potentially limitless, but the chief beneficiaries of its largess have been big banks and their wealthy clients. We need a form of quantitative easing that actually serves the local productive economy. That might require modifying the Federal Reserve Act, but Congress has modified it before. The only real limit on new money creation is consumer price inflation, and there is room for a great deal more money to be pumped into the productive local economy before that ceiling is hit than is circulating in it now. For a detailed analysis of this issue, see my earlier articles here and here and latest book, “Banking on the People.”

The bottom line is that saving the planet from environmental destruction is not only achievable, but that by focusing on regenerative agriculture and tapping up the central bank for funding, the climate crisis can be addressed without raising taxes and while restoring our collective health.

• First published at Truthdig. com.

Failed Action on the Climate Crisis Makes Resistance Imperative

On December 2, the 25th two-week long United Nations climate conference begins in Madrid, Spain. The stated task of the conference, referred to as COP 25 (Conference Of Parties), is to make sure there are plans to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. The goals of that agreement, which are nonbinding, are:

  1. Reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent by 2030;
  2. Achieve a net zero global carbon footprint by 2050; and
  3. Stabilize the global temperature increase at 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.

Last week, prominent scientists issued a warning that significant changes related to the climate crisis are already happening and could create a cascading effect that locks in catastrophic levels of temperature and sea-level rise. They view the pledges made by countries to take climate action as insufficient and leading to a three degrees Celsius temperature rise by the end of the century.

It is this reality that is spurring people around the world to take action in the growing global climate emergency movement. Many people are asking what they can do about the climate crisis.

Young activists take part in a rally to protest against Climate change outside the US Capitol in Washington, DC on November 29, 2019. (AFP/Nicholas Kamm).

Too little, too late

Each new climate report is direr. The climate crisis is here now. Oceans are heating up and acidifying as they absorb carbon dioxide. This is slowing ocean circulation and killing coral reefs. Ocean circulation impacts the weather – slowing is already changing weather patterns and worsening storms. Coral reefs are necessary for providing habitat and protecting coastlines.

According to a recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, ice is melting at an unprecedented pace and sea-level rise is accelerating. This is leading to more frequent and chronic flooding. The world has already warmed to 1.1 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels causing droughts and frequent wildfires.

Of great concern is the fact that these changes are not isolated. They feed into and feed off of each other causing a cascading impact that is leading us to a point of no return, at least for thousands of years. For example, as the land thaws, stored methane is being released. Methane is the most potent greenhouse gas in the short term causing more warming and more thawing. The prominent scientists cited above explain this:

…as science advances, we must admit that we have underestimated the risks of unleashing irreversible changes, where the planet self-amplifies global warming. This is what we are seeing already at 1°C global warming…

Efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are failing. Levels are rising even though we need at least a 7.6 percent reduction each year to reach the Paris Agreement goals. Growing energy demand is the biggest culprit. Colder winters and warmer summers mean more energy used to heat and cool our homes and other buildings. In the United States, gas consumption increased by ten percent in 2018 after years of decline. The increase in renewables is not even meeting new energy demands, let alone replacing polluting forms of energy production.

Even though the United Nations admits that not enough is being done to address the climate crisis and that there is no time to waste, it does not wield its power to make sure that effective actions are taken. Instead, as we wrote in 2014, the UN is dominated by global finance and corporations and their subservient governments pushing financial schemes and green technology to enrich themselves even when those projects don’t solve the problem.

In this year’s meeting, the major focus will be the rules for the newest form of a global carbon trading market mandated by the Paris Agreement. Carbon trading has been in existence since the Kyoto Protocol and has not reduced carbon emissions. California’s cap and trade system, one of the largest in the world, is being copied by other countries, but ProPublica found that carbon emissions in California have risen by 3.5 percent under the program as it allows big polluters to purchase credits and even increase their emissions.

There have already been mass protests around the world leading up to the COP meetings. In expectation of more protests at the meetings in Spain, more than 5,000 police have been called out. Thousands of anti-capitalist activists, environmental defenders, and concerned citizens are arriving from all over the world to demand that countries take concrete measures to halt global climate change. The police are on high alert throughout the COP meetings until December 14.

This is the last year that the United States will participate in the United Nations COP meetings as Trump formally withdraws from the Paris Agreement. What are activists in the US to do?

Climate Demonstrators in Cologne on November 29, 2019, before the UN climate summit. Source DPA

Action for the climate

The United States is the second-largest total GHG emitter in the world and the third-largest per-capita GHG emitter behind Saudi Arabia and Australia. The US is the largest producer of new fossil fuels. People in the US have a critical responsibility and role to play in the solution to the climate crisis.

There are lots of discussions going on right now about what people need to be doing and the answer is that we need to be using all the tools available. We cannot count on institutions such as the United Nations, governments and corporations to take appropriate actions without outside pressure. We need to organize resistance and build the solutions in our communities.

A core requirement of effective social movements is to have a clear vision of what they are working to achieve. To be transformational, this vision must embody not only the goal (for example, reducing GHG emissions) but also the structure of the system that will achieve that goal. Two major components of that structure are the ways decisions will be made and how the system will be financed. For more information on social transformation, visit the Popular Resistance School.

Currently, it is the powerholders who make and profit from the decisions. A new system, such as the Green New Deal, could be structured in a way that puts those who are most impacted by the decisions in control and could be financed in a way that reduces the wealth divide. The Ecosocialist Green New Deal, developed by Howie Hawkins, a candidate running for the Green Party presidential nomination, is the strongest proposal. It has the fastest timeline, includes a transition to a peace economy with 75 percent cuts to the military, an Economic Bill of Rights and a Green Economy Reconstruction Program. It would transform multiple sectors of the economy to put in place a clean energy economy by 2030 as well as transitioning to public or worker-controlled ownership.

The next requirements are a strategy to achieve the vision and tactics to serve that strategy. There are a broad range of actions to take and a number of roles to play. Here is a partial list of current actions:

  1. Pushing agencies to address the climate crisis in their policies – When the Trump administration announced it would allow more oil and gas drilling on federal lands, advocacy groups came together and sued the Bureau of Land Management to make sure GHG emissions are assessed in considering oil and gas leases. A court recently sided with the groups and hundreds of thousands of acres of leases are being suspended. Another example is the Beyond Extreme Energy campaign to transform the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which grants permits for energy projects, to the Federal Renewable Energy Commission.
  2. Direct action to prevent new fossil fuel infrastructure – Major campaigns to stop pipelines, fracking and new oil and gas infrastructure are going on across the country. Oil and gas corporations cite this resistance as their biggest obstacle. Last week, activists in Wingdale, NY shut down construction of the Cricket Valley Fracked Gas Power Plant. They are pressuring Governor Cuomo to shut it down for good. And in Clearbrook, Minnesota, activists blocked construction of the Line 3 Pipeline. You don’t have to lock down or climb a tripod to participate. There are many roles required for direct actions such as media support, legal observers, jail support and more.
  3. Driving disinvestment in dirty energy – Students, faculty and supporters took action last week to disrupt the Harvard-Yale football game with a message to their schools to divest from fossil fuels and cancel Puerto Rico’s debt. This was one action in an ongoing divestment campaign. The European Investment Bank took a positive step recently by promising to phase out investment in dirty energy over the next two years. Though it is promising to be the first climate bank, activists will still need to watchdog what the bank supports to make sure it is not investing in more false solutions.
  4. Protecting the right to protest – We know our actions are having an impact when the state tries to criminalize them. A new law was signed by the governor of Wisconsin making it a felony to protest fossil fuel infrastructure. This is the tenth state to pass such a law. In South Dakota, their anti-protest law was successfully fought in the courts this year.
  5. Pressuring lawmakers (and candidates) – During the Extinction Rebellion Global Hunger Strike, which started Nov. 20, a group of activists sat-in House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s office calling for her to hold a public meeting with them. Two of them continued their hunger strike through this weekend. The Sunrise Movement has organized actions targeting lawmakers, candidates and the Democratic Party throughout the year. They, along with Fridays for Future, will target lawmakers with a climate strike on December 6.
  6. Constructive programs to build alternatives – There are many programs to build positive alternatives from developing regenerative agriculture to a resurgence of small farmers and urban gardens to expanded public transportation, walkable communities, and bike lanes, to incentives for clean energy installation and the formation of worker-owned cooperative green businesses. Recently a new law was passed requiring new roofs in Brooklyn, NY to either have solar panels or greenery. Visit the CREATE section of Popular Resistance for more information.

These are a few examples of many activities for the climate that are being organized. Here are a few final thoughts and observations. First, while changing our personal habits to reduce consumption and emissions is important for transitioning to the world we are working to create, we must remember that the drivers of the crisis are systemic and require systemic solutions. Second, activists often struggle with the issue of activism versus electoral politics. Our view is that in the manipulated US election system, we can’t elect our way out of these crises. Throughout history, it has been mass popular movements that have forced powerholders to either make necessary changes or to lose their power. Electoral politics is a useful tool when it is used to raise awareness for our issues and expose the failings of the current political system but the major focus of our work must be movement building.

Perhaps one of the most exciting developments is the rise of anti-capitalist protests around the world against neoliberalism, a model that drives privatization of land, water, services and more. We can’t solve the climate crisis using capitalist economic models because capitalism is fundamentally about extracting profits at all costs and is based on the overconsumption of a consumer-oriented economy.

Another promising development is the work to make connections between the many crises we face. We cannot solve the climate crisis in isolation because it requires a major restructuring of our entire society. This is the opportunity the climate crisis provides. Over the next decade, with a clear vision of where we want to go, we can shape the world to be one that respects self-determination, human rights and sustainability. That will only come about through organization, planning, and action to create a mass movement.

The seeds of that mass movement are growing. The opportunity has never been so great and the stakes have never been so high.

Crisis after Crisis and Still the Citizen in Capitalism Follows the Paymaster as God

I’ve been running into a lot of soft democrats and confused environmentalists lately who are all up in arms about things that really don’t mean diddly-squat in the scheme of things. You know, the presidential election (sic), all the perversity of not only Trump, but Holly-dirt, Mainlining Media, and the billionaire class, and this rotten society that still after 400 years of slavery and after a thousand treaties with indigenous peoples broken is as racist as ever.

Southern California Communist Party of USA:

slavery

More so racist in a time of supposedly more information and revised histories of this raping class of people who brought their sad, swathed-in-money-and-subjugation religion to these teeming shores. And other shores, too.

We’ve got people taking a hard position on …  we have to ban plastic straws and we have to ban grocery bags and we have to do something with all that plastic out there … when the positions should be centered around global justice, global poverty, the military industrial complex that is the purview of dozens of countries now, many of which are dealing with abject poverty — Pakistan, India, err, USA!

We never ever talk about the military, because that’s taboo, off limits, sacred cow of the Empire, even folks wearing Birkenstocks and bamboo underwear. Or mining operations by UK, French, USA, Australia, and Oh Canada.

Canadian Mining Companies Are Destroying Latin America1

Canada Mining Companies in Latin America Have Blood on Hands. An injured protester flees as riot police use tear gas and batons to disperse a protest

Canadian mining activity in Latin America has skyrocketed over the past decade. Acting on 1994’s North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Canada signed agreements with several Latin American countries to facilitate easy access for resource extraction. Those countries include Peru (2009), Colombia (2011), Panama (2013), and Honduras (2014). As such, five of the top ten locations for Canada’s international mining assets in 2014 were Latin American countries.

According to Natural Resources Canada, the value of Canadian mining assets abroad reached $148.7 billion in 2012, accounting for 66 percent of all Canadian mining assets.

Canadian activities in Mexico are especially pronounced. With nearly 200 companies in operation, Mexico is the top destination for Canadian mining investment outside of Canada. In Guerrero, terror, violence, and intimidation are a daily occurrence and the gold is said to be cheap and easy to mine. Indeed, Canadian companies such as Goldcorp, Newstrike Capital, Alamos Gold, and Torex Gold Resources all have a strong presence there.

So many of my friends want to move to Canada, cuz that paradise is so humane and loving! I try to talk sense in them, so they change the subject:

So, they spend countless hours thinking of ways to collect the plastic and incentivize schemes to have the stuff shredded and put into road asphalt. Ways to get that “precious plastic” into those 3-D printing machines.

Twisted up like pretzels, they go on and on about the ways we the people shall be/should be putting our effort/money in cleaning up our mess, err, created by corporations, and the plastics industries, which is just another front for the chemical industry, which is tied at the umbilical cord to the oil industry, since everything we do now is cooked and polymerized from that fossil goo we have so become not only addicted to but galvanized into.

Our human shit is bound up with plastics, and our food and air and soil are flogged with chemical after chemical, until all the residues and off-gassing and concomitant synergistic coalescing of physiological side effects have so altered Homo Sapiens before we are born that this is a massive, uncontrolled Doctor Frankenstein and Doctor Moreau  experiment  with outcomes we already see and feel:

  • lower sperm count in young boys and men
  • more than half of USA population cut with chronic illnesses
  • mental disturbances in more and more kindergartners and 1-12 students
  • allergies in more and more kindergartners and 1-12 students
  • more and more physical and intellectual anomalies in more and more kindergartners and 1-12 students
  • more collective passivity in the culture collectively — i.e. Stockholm Syndrome for the masses as their/our leaders-bosses-criminal politicians perpetrate the largest theft of human, monetary and ecological resources the planet or any country has ever seen
  • more and more dis-connectivity of certain melanin-starved racists to begin both mass suicides and mass shootings, as they see more and more people they are against while they continually self-medicate and calorically/chemically-abuse their own selves and zygotes
  • more mass delusion of the massive popular (insipid, droll, infantile) culture that takes more and more time and money away from individuals and families until they are indebted to the millionaire and billionaire class — the same class they now bow to, look up to, regal, valorize

Think about it for a second — Capitalism means we the people take it a million times a day, and we then believe we are the problem, we are the destroyers of the planet (we the 80 percent). We believe collectively that the corporations are mostly benevolent, that Stockholders R’ Us and that companies are people too!

I have had zero choice in all the plastics in 99 percent of the shit I have to have to be a writer, social services worker, contractor, naturalist, etc. Plastic in my car, around my car, even though it’s 2000 Chevy Metro, three-banger five speed with 220,000 original miles?

The externalities and economies of scale WE the PEOPLE pay for. It’s gotta stop —

Even though plastic is destroying our oceans, big corporations are being given money to produce cheap plastic. Taxpayers pay more than 90% of the cost of recycling, while huge subsidies are placed on fossil fuels, the major building block for plastic. This is unfair: we need to take bold action now.

Corporations should pay for the damage they cause. Only then will they be forced to create environmentally friendly alternatives. Fossil fuel companies received subsidies of $5.3tn (£3.7tn) worldwide in 2015, China alone provided subsidies of $2.3tn. As plastic is made out of fossil fuels, these are effectively colossal plastic subsidies.

Rather than being paid to pollute our waters, the polluters should pay for their plastic waste to be recycled. Currently that cost is covered by the taxpayer, but instead the cost of recycling should be part of the cost of the plastic itself – with the additional money being transferred to local governments to pay for recycling. The government should reward retailers who develop new sustainable ideas, and raise charges on packaging that is difficult to recycle. This would reduce the demand for deadly plastics among producers and retailers.

I could go on and on, but for brevity’s sake, I will shift this essay into the arena of just what is important to people in a time of mass surveillance, mass extinction, mass shootings, mass criminality of the FIRE brand class (sic)  — Finance Insurance Real Estate. What really is important to people who scoured Facebook and LinkedIn and Twitter and the infinite sound byte website and endless drivel of Youtube, TED-X and those top 10 “news” sites where all the news is unfit to send over the Internet.

If one were to have a one-on-one talk with supposedly enlightened ones, who care about the environment, know what the politics are and are on board for some massive change, they still get it so wrong, so dangerously wrong. Commie is not a good thing to them, and more and more greenies are telling me how they worry about China/Asia coming over the Pacific to take away the great resources from Canada and USA, since our (sic) North America is blessed with resources, blessed with money, blesses with less impacts from global heating.

It’s so sad, so sad, that the collective DNA of America still defaults to many of the myths and lies of both sides of the manure pile — anti Chinese, anti-Russians, anti-North Koreans, anti-Syrians, et al.

Then we drift into the prostitute line up on mainstream TV, prognosticating on who would be the best to replace Trump. Haha. It is a viscous carnival circle jerk, with all sorts of caveats on who is better than whom, and in the end, it’s always Biden would be the best, since the polls say that — oh the polls!

“We believe to put our time and money and brain-power into understanding the issues and priorities is where we can most have an impact,” Gallup Editor in Chief Frank Newport told Politico. Let other operations focus on predicting voter behavior, the implication went, we’re going to dig deeper into what the public thinks about current events.

Still, Gallup’s move, which followed an embarrassingly inaccurate performance by the company in the 2012 elections, reinforces the perception that something has gone badly wrong in polling and that even the most experienced players are at a loss about how to fix it. Heading into the 2016 primary season, news consumers are facing an onslaught of polls paired with a nagging suspicion that their findings can’t be trusted. Over the last four years, pollsters’ ability to make good predictions about Election Day has seemingly deteriorated before our eyes.

Out of all those “candidates,” I still hear from liberals here on the coast of Oregon say, Mayor Pete. “Oh, we want Mayor Pete!” This is that other disease that should have been listed above in the bullet points — some guy, who is a declared homosexual, who went to Iraq on his own in the US military, and he’s proud of it. These people don’t even bend knee for Bernie or Tulsi, because, alas, that Mad comics book guy might be the feminized or neutralized face of their own boys. Go Pete, right!

Here, some fun:

Bizarrely, at least for someone who needs to win Ohio, Florida, and North Carolina to be elected president, Mayor Pete began the evening with a long description of his Rhodes scholarship at Oxford (England, not Old Miss), where he took “a first in PPE” (philosophy, politics, and economics) at Pembroke College. (William Pitt the Younger and Monty Python’s Eric Idle are among its famous graduates.)

Acting like a kindly thesis adviser during orals, Capehart carefully went through each line of Mayor Pete’s curriculum vitae, just so the audience would not miss the fact that after the years at Harvard and Oxford, Pete also got his ticket punched as a 29-year-old mayor in South Bend and as an ensign in the U.S. naval reserve, in which he was deployed as an intelligence officer to NATO command in Kabul.

Oh, and by the way, he also worked as a consultant for McKinsey and, more recently, found time to write his memoirs, Shortest Way Home.It’s painting/writing by the numbers, so any aspiring candidate can sound like the father-dreaming Barack Obama (“A river is made drop by drop”).

In the end Mayor Pete will fall victim to what so far has delivered him to the presidential jamboree—the paper chase of credentialism.

Without Harvard, Oxford, McKinsey, and Afghanistan on his resumé, Mayor Pete would look more like an overly bright Jeopardy! contestant than a presidential candidate. (Alex Trebek: “He’s the mayor of a midwestern city and in his spare time he wants to be president. Let’s give a big welcome for Pete Buttigieg….”)

But with so many golden tickets in his background, after a while, when voters ask about what it will take to cut the $1 trillion blown on Homeland security or the best way to lower carbon emissions, they will want to hear more than Pete’s self-directed love songs. Whitman said, “I and this mystery, here we stand,” but he wasn’t running for president.

Thus, as Requiem for a Lightweight: the Mayor Pete Factor
by Matthew Stevenson points out, this guy, Mayor Pete, is the guy your old mother might like.

The heart of it is many women of the democratic party species think of some soft guy, some dude who goes on and on about his marriage vows, who is trapped in his own small world of faux intellectual pursuits — Rhodes Scholar, Oxford, and with a complete disconnect from the problems in his South Bend — as the leader of the world? Because of their perverted Trump, this fourth grade thinker, the art of the bad deal, the man who admits to all of the gross things and ideologies — they want, what, an opposite of the un-man Trump with another guy who is certainly not capable of real political work?

Democrats have no idea why Trump is in (voter suppression, and such illegalities) and why a good chunk of Americans are supporting his perversion. They don’t get that their own beds are messed up with that perversion — God, Country, Tis of Thee. Really, liberals have not fought hard enough in their own circles and families.

Just today, at Depoe Bay, working the naturalist volunteer gig, where I wander around the tourists gawking at the gray whales blowing real close by, I was talking with some guys from The Bay (Oakland-San Fran). They looked like partners, and the funny thing, they had this old guy in the car, one of the dude’s father.

These two thanked me for my naturalist talents, and fortunately, I also chime in while talking whales, dolphins, porpoises and seals and sea lions the connection to ecology and the lack of ecological health with the politics of deception.

Yeah, they hate Trump, make fun of Trump, and both men are articulate, probably in the Silicon Valley bubble of good times and big bucks. But, alas, they found out quickly I was more than just a cetacean naturalist under the auspices of a national organization that demands no politics in our spiels . . . when they know I am more than anti-Trump and that I have done my despicable stint in US military, worked in prisons, worked in immigration refugee outfits, and that I teach they want me to “have a talk with my dad back there — he’s so fucking pro-Trump.”

Out here watching these leviathans, as long as a school bus, 80,000 pounds, eating mysids the size of one rice grain to the tune of a ton a day, they wanted me to have a chat with the old guy, a chat that would end up in maybe the old man’s heart attack or stroke.

This is it, though, the end of discourse, the fear of having real conversations with embedded souls who have been sold down the river of stupidity and demigods and felons like Trump.

I also drive an old Honda Shadow, 1100cc, black, and most bikers or old men and women on $30k Harley’s, they too are MAGA. So, when I drive into a pub or bar with a bunch of weekend bikers, I don’t fear those conversations.

Hell, my Canadian mother always told me to hold steady and say it like it is. No fear, isn’t that some meme to sell some wasteful product!

Ahh, then I talked with an Italian family, and the father/husband, Justine, talked with me, wondered about Oregon, about the state’s politics (seems progressive, until you leave Portland). He said that in Italy, there is no environmental movement, that the news hardly covers climate change and food insecurity, and that in reality he is afraid for his 14-year-old daughter who was in the car with her mother. The mother thanked me for the whale tips, and she smiled when she saw her old man getting a primer on America, albeit, on the world according to an ecosocialist.

An Italian wanting to know why his own country’s media (controlled by a few Mafioso) haven’t done their job? More of the same in EU, in the colonized countries, those former-empires, now just little men and little women of old. The Media control the message!

I’ve had a few talks over the weeks with citizens from France, Germany, Portugal, Brazil, UK, etc. Hands down, they all have told me they have never had conversations in their vacations here about the things I broach. You see, it’s not anti-Trump that does it. It’s anti-Corporation, anti-Military, anti-Media, anti-Capitalism alongside pro-Green, pro-Socialista, pro-Ecosocialism, pro-retrenchment, pro-Global Collective Strategy, pro-Lock-Them-Up (we know who the “we” are, don’t you know). Most Americans, when talking with foreigners, do not get into the facts about this flagging empire. Maybe most don’t know the facts herein.

Just grounding people today who lean toward “play nice green,” who lean toward Tulsi or Beto or Pete, well, the jig is up.

Back to acceptable male characters:

The feminization of men and this homosexual bias (in favor of) that many in the democratic party parlay into what they believe are serious credentials to tackle climate change, to go after the banks, after the trillionaires with our loot, to draw down US military spending, to draw down the empire, to retrench during a time of hate and loathing inside climate change, well, this speaks volumes why Americans by and large are afraid of themselves, and have no stomach for hard work and the at least gutsy project of ecosocialism, even the work of one Howie Hawkins.

They would give Buttigieg the entire ranch, in this daft belief that a soft man, a cerebral (whatever that means) man of youth, is somehow capable of tackling these blood-sucker Republicans, their brawny lobbyists, and their perfectly criminal billionaire masters.

Forget Bernie, and they won’t touch Elizabeth Warren. Crazy liberals, man, with this Mayor Pete thing.

At least this millionaire Yang has some guts on the reality of global warming:

Here, on National Propaganda Radio, Andrew Yang:

Yang’s answer to his doom and gloom descriptions of the economy and many other problems is a universal basic income proposal he’s calling the “freedom dividend” — $1,000 a month to every U.S. citizen 18 years and older.

“Donald Trump is our president today, in large part, because he got some of the problems right, but his solutions are the opposite of what we need. His solutions were we’re going to build a wall, we’re going to turn the clock back, we’re going to bring the old jobs back,” Yang said. “We have to do the opposite of all that. We have to turn the clock forward. We have to accelerate our economy and society as fast as possible. We have to evolve in the way we see work and value.”

Most politicians will say, “We can do it; we can beat it.” I just told the truth [at the second Democratic debate], which is that we’re only 15% of the world’s emissions. Even if we were to go zero carbon, the Earth would continue to warm in all likelihood because of the energy composition of other countries. Now, I take climate change very, very seriously. It’s an existential threat to our way of life. Apparently, I might take it more seriously than even some other people who believe it’s serious because I think it’s worse than anyone thinks.

So I think we should move toward renewable energy sources as fast as possible but also proactively try and mitigate the worst effects and even try and restore our habitat in various ways by reforesting tracts of land and reseeding the ocean with kelp, marine permaculture arrays and things that can help rehabilitate what we’ve done — because right now, the Atlantic Ocean is losing 4 to 8% of its biomass every year. Then you can do the math on that — it’s a catastrophe in the making.

It is worse than these shills and candidates and their corporate backers are saying. Way worse, and for Yang to state that, well, he gets my applause in a field of ameliorators and idiots who want to go all hopey-dopey and pull some shit that we still have time.

We need just to pull down some of the carbon, 1.2 trillion trees planted.

Fox Maple Woods in Wisconsin.

There is enough room in the world’s existing parks, forests, and abandoned land to plant 1.2 trillion additional trees, which would have the CO2 storage capacity to cancel out a decade of carbon dioxide emissions, according to a new analysis by ecologist Thomas Crowther and colleagues at ETH Zurich, a Swiss university.

This is a powerful talking point for any candidate — fucking trees, man, it’s not rocket science —  and think of the world class diplomacy and goodwill this multi-country project would engender. Instead, we have criminals like Trump and his crony in Brazil, Bolsonaro, throwing their bizarro words out into the ether making a Hitler seem so-so cultured and hip to a more effective propaganda:

Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro says non-governmental organisations may be setting fires in the Amazon to embarrass the Brazilian government after it cut their funding, despite offering no evidence to support the claim.

record number of fires — 72,843 — were recorded in the Amazon this year, according to The National Institute for Space Research (Inpe).

But conservationists have blamed Mr Bolsonaro for the Amazon’s plight, saying he has encouraged loggers and farmers to clear the land.

“This is a sick statement, a pitiful statement,” said Marcio Astrini, Greenpeace Brazil’s public policy coordinator. “Increased deforestation and burning are the result of his anti-environmental policy.” Bolsonaro, a longtime sceptic of environmental concerns, wants to open the Amazon to more agriculture and mining, and has told other countries worried about rising deforestation since he took office to mind their own business.

In this context, it seems easy for democrats to hail Mayor Pete or Ms. Harris or Tulsi Gabbard has real home-run hitters in the game of life.

End ICE and CBP? That is one step, certainly easier than planting trees, or about the same?

The greens just can’t go far enough — and reference the above point that greenies out here in Portland’s haunts, the Oregon Coast, believe “they” will be coming to and flooding into the USA to get “our stuff.”

Last month, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and Senator Kamala Harris released their Climate Equity Act – the first draft of a critical component of a Green New Deal. The act aims to protect marginalized communities as Congress attempts to “address” climate change by creating a system that gives environmental legislation an equity score based on its impact on “frontline communities.”

By their definition, frontline communities include people of color, indigenous and low-income people, as well as groups vulnerable to energy transitions – like rural, deindustrialized, elder, unhoused and disabled communities. The proposed bill would also create an Office of Climate and Environmental Justice Accountability, which would “work with” key federal departments – including the Department of Homeland Security, or DHS – which houses FEMA as well as predatory immigration agencies like Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

As the intensity of the climate crisis grows, migration will also increase. A 2018 report from the International Organization for Migration estimates 405 million people will be forced to emigrate by 2050. As lawmakers consider how to equitably respond to climate catastrophe, it’s critical that they do so with a clear vision in mind. Any definition of frontline communities must also include current and future undocumented immigrants. And a plan for climate justice cannot leave room for “working with” agencies like ICE and CBP, which should instead be abolished.

DHS has already laid out its response to climate change: a path that requires increased border security and deportations – all to preserve a status quo that harms people of color. A 2012 report from the department clearly elaborates how they imagine climate change will impact their role. “Over time,” the report states, “the Department will expand its planning to include potential climate change implications to securing and managing our borders, enforcing and administering our immigration laws, and other homeland security missions.”

The job of some of us is to rat out the lies, and lately while listening to Democracy Now (not the best, but for now, the only M-F single hour on the Internet, dealing with issues close to my heart, albeit, still pushed through the meat grinder that is a Soros World) I have been messing with LinkedIn people. The amount of trash from Barrons, Bloomberg, Forbes, NYT, WaPo on LinkedIn tells us who the paymasters are of this Microsoft thing which I end up linking into while listening/watching an hour’s worth of new here on the Oregon Coast. I have somehow connected (sic) to more than a thousand, and I am sure to play a little bit of havoc in many of the colonized’s minds.

For instance, I will get from some “sustainability officer” that Lightsource BP is doing great great things. This outfit is British Petroleum, and in fact, it’s more than greenwashing. It’s green pornography — selling a company as sustainable when it is involved in crimes against humanity and tax fraud and accounting fraud and the biggest single oil spill in the world in the Gulf of Mexico.

But in America, and Canada, this kind of crap leads the way in the minds of Americans — so happy millionaires and billionaires are taking control of the future!

BP (formerly known as “British Petroleum”) is a global oil, gas and chemical company headquartered in Britain and responsible for the largest environmental disaster ever in the United States, the April 20, 2010, blowout of its Deepwater Horizon oil well in the Gulf of Mexico (discussed in more detail below). The company owns numerous refineries and chemical manufacturing plants around the world.  BP is the United Kingdom’s largest corporation. Its global headquarters are in London, and its U.S. headquarters are in Houston, Texas. Its major brands include BP, AmPm, ARCO, and Castrol. The company reported in 2012 that natural gas makes up more than half of BP’s energy production, making us the largest producer and supplier in the U.S.

Access the BP’s corporate rap sheet compiled and written by Good Jobs First here.

Other BP spills and disasters

But when you engage with these people who vaunt the Exxon’s and US Forest Service and the BP’s of the world, they accuse one (me) of nay-saying, of being radicalized, of being outside the normal box. And, in one case, “Nuff said . . . you’re from Portland . . . can’t wait for the big one so I can have some beachfront property in Arizona.” This from people on LinkedIn who tout themselves as business leaders, members of their business round-tables in their respective locales.

Oh Americans . . . Oh Canadians . . . what a terrible lot we have become!

Except, when getting a cogent and smart response to one of my tame DV pieces: One Woman’s Research on Aquatic Bioinvasions, Seaweed, Wave Energy — The doors that science strives to unlock

Excellent article. I really enjoyed it as I have your others over the years at Dissident Voice. Interesting writing style that morphs with the subject.

I live at the other side of North America in Nova Scotia, whose capital is at the 45th parallel, about the same as Oregon. Part of our Canadian province has a shoreline with the Bay of Fundy which has the highest tides in the world for all practical purposes for a decent sized body of water, about 43 feet rise and fall almost twice per day. Capturing some of that energy has been the holy grail for decades. One of my Physics profs was gung-ho about it all back in 1964. It is caused by a resonance phenomenon not unlike the kids swilling the bath water back and forth until it slops over the ends, so detuning that is a big consideration to take into account. Fiddling too much with the physical size and shape of the bay could either cause even higher tides – or lesser ones. God knows what will happen with sea level rise.

We have had a functioning 25MW tidal generator for some decades at the end of the river that flows into an inlet of the bay, said inlet being twenty miles long and five wide itself. But that is small beans compared to what the main bay could provide.

Several multi-million dollar projects in recent years have had equipment ruined by the tides and particularly currents during trials and these were only proof of concept underwater machines of no huge size. So things have ground to a halt for the time being with the last company, Irish of all things, going bankrupt and leaving a broken machine in the waters. I’d be a bit worried about fish kill with that underwater propeller gizmo you illustrate – recent machines here look nothing like that.

We are served by a Federal Government’s Bedford Institute of Oceanography performing similar investigations I would presume to those you describe in the article but over the North Atlantic and up into Frobisher Bay, and locally have invasive species such as green crab ourselves.There are, however, marine “national park” areas along our Atlantic coast and up into the Gulf of the Saint Lawrence.

On land we are subject to similar depredations of forest clear-cutting you so clearly describe about Oregon but that is provincial rather than Federal jurisdiction and land owners run the local politicians as was ever the case, but on the whole I’d say our population is somewhat more green aware than seems to be the case in the US. And we are rural, the total population being under a million with great dependency on the ocean and little industry. Overall it ain’t a bad spot but likely to be coastally submerged by rising ocean waters soon, unfortunately. The rest of Canada tends to think of our Atlantic Region area as Hicksville and gives us a paternal pat on the head now and then, and frankly we like it that way. Being left alone, that is.

The Oregon connection I have is an old acquaintance from the US East Coast who lived in Nova Scotia for a time 50 years ago, and then went west. I recently recommended your blog to her.

Keep it up. You are an evocative writer.

Best, Bruce Armstrong

Now, that’s the ticket, really, getting pugnacious and pertinent commentary from afar. Indeed, and what Bruce says I didn’t say because part of my writing is about working for a rag that highlights coastal things to do, coming, staying, buying and doing. I pitched a column, Deep Dive, to allow for a longer form of people feature. Luckily, it’s been a green light, but I itch, oh do I itch, to go on the stream of consciousness and maybe off the rails for some polemics, but I understand audience awareness, the rhetorical tricks of Cicero. Ethos, Pathos, Logos!

As an ecosocialist and communist of the ultimate kind — democracy, freedom, collective consciousness and action, food, air, water, education, health, transportation for all — I understand that the science I described in the piece is tied to more of the same: making money from taxpayer coffers, utilizing land grant schools and their faculty and professional staff for free consultations and studies, and putting R & D into all the wrong baskets — that’s what blue energy is. Waves? Tides? Rivers? Whew, the conversation is always plumbed close to technology as savior, AI as implementation, robotics as freedom.

We are in many dire crises, and when we have a single look at some wave energy, as the article briefly covered, all stops are put back into the dialogue. The feature around the marine biologist did hook more into invasive species and the benthos — what’s happening at the bottom of the sea. That is the love of my life — the sea, ocean, marine systems. Thanks, Bruce, for the pugnacity in your timely and parallel observations in your comment to me.

Of course Howie Hawkins’s work and undying struggle to be heard as a Green Party Presidential candidate is worthy of DV, and thanks to DV, here it is: On Day One, the Next President Should Declare A Climate Emergency

I have a tough time getting people to read Howie’s statements and platform without the rejoinder — “Yeah, that stuff is really going to get through Congress, the Senate, ALEC and the Corporate powers!”

Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-imposed immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one’s understanding without guidance from another.

—Immanuel Kant, What is Enlightenment? (1784)

  1. https://www.vice.com/en_ca/article/7b7ned/canadian-mining-companies-are-destroying-latin-america-924

One Woman’s Research on Aquatic Bioinvasions, Seaweed, Wave Energy

Symbioses — prolonged associations between organisms often widely separated phylogenetically — are more common in biology than we once thought and have been neglected as a phenomenon worthy of study on its own merits. Extending along a dynamic continuum from antagonistic to cooperative and often involving elements of both antagonism and mutualism, symbioses involve pathogens, commensals, and mutualists interacting in myriad ways over the evolutionary history of the involved ‘partners.’

— Gregory G. Dimijian, “Evolving Together: The Biology of Symbiosis”

It’s about being really committed. I tell students who are not any smarter than their peers that this takes hard work … to work on one question for five to seven years.

— Sarah Henkel on what it takes to study for and gain a doctorate in marine sciences

One never knows the waters a science-based article will dip into when a writer features one of OSU-Hatfield’s multidisciplinary researchers. Scientists look at very focused questions while naturalists and generalist ecologists look at systems from a broader range, but that interplay is less friction than analysis. As a journalist, my job is to dig deep and find those connections.

For Sarah Henkel, looking at how human-made structures affect what happens at the bottom of the sea is both fascinating and important to all human-activities in and around marine systems.

However, one scientist’s invasive species is another scientist’s opportunistic species. She’s got creed in the study of the benthic zone (what’s happening on the ocean’s bottom) and wave energy.

In her office at Hatfield, Sara and I recognize that the world of ecology is evolving due to innovative research and new questions scientists and policy makers are no longer afraid to ask.

She’s not atypical – a smart scientist who is open to fielding a wide-range of inquiries.

Because of the heavy footprint humans have put upon the environment in the form of cutting down entire forests and jungles, as well as geo-engineering the planet through fossil fuel burning and all the chemicals released in industrial processes, newer challenges to both our species’ and other species’ survival end up in the brains and labs of scientists.

To say science is changing rapidly is an understatement.

One Floating Piece of Debris Can Change an Entire Coast

For Henkel, she wonders what the effects of one pilon, one mooring anchor, and one attached buoy have on ecologies from the sea floor, upward.

The ocean, once considered immune to humanity’s despoilments, is as far as its chemical composition and ecological processes fragile with just the right forcers. HMSC is lucky to have dedicated thinkers like Sarah Henkel working on questions regarding not only this part of the world, but globally.

Students working with Sarah gain varying knowledge she’s accomplished through transitions from inland girl growing up in Roanoke, Virginia, where creeks, deciduous forest and terrestrial animals enchanted her and her sibling, to marine scientist in Oregon.

“Ever since I was in third grade, I knew I was going to be a marine biologist,” she says while we talk in her office at Hatfield. When a child, she visited a “touch tank” at a museum near her home and was completely fascinated with the horseshoe crabs.

Posters of benthic megaflora – seaweed and eel grass – adorn her office walls at HMSC. We’re talking about kelps like bull whip, feather boa, deadman’s finger, witch’s hair, studded sea balloons, and Turkish towel displayed on posters.

Image result for Oregon seaweed poster
Symbiosis, Cooperation, Opportunism, Invasiveness? That is the Question.

While we talk about kelp/seaweed, she shifts to invasive species like Undaria pinnatifida which hitched onto debris from the 2011 tsunami in Japan. Over a dozen species on a worldwide list of invasive species were on broken dock moorings that washed up near Newport. Three — Undaria pinnatifida, Codium fragile, and Grateloupia turuturu — are particularly hazardous.

Image result for tsunami wreckage Newport Oregon

Some of Henkel’s work looks at one gene expression, say, in Egregia menziesii, to uncover how the species responds to various conditions. Some big issues dovetail to Undaria pinnatifida playing havoc in Australia and New Zealand.

Her fundamental question is how can certain invasive species establish niches in very different waters from where they evolved. Looking at temperature and salinity tolerances as well as desiccation limits of species helps cities, states and countries manage opportunistic invasives that not only thrive in new places, but push out endemic species.

East Coast-West Coast: Transplantation

Henkel’s a transplant herself, from Virginia, with a science degree from the College of William and Mary. She tells me that she was lucky to have gotten into a gifted and talented high school program where she attended half a day every morning, then getting bused back to her home school in the afternoon — for three years.

“It [Virginia Governor’s School] was set up like a college, with professors and curriculum more like college-level courses.”

She then transplanted herself to California State University–Fullerton in 2000 to work on a master’s degree. Then, further north, to UC-Santa Barbara for a doctorate in marine sciences.

The final thrust northward was in 2009, to OSU, where she has been ever since.

We laugh at the idea of humans also being an invasive or transplanted species: She brings up a place like San Francisco Bay which is considered by scientists as a “global zoo” of invasive species with as many as 500 plants and animals from foreign shores taking hold in Frisco’s marine waters.

“Scientists think there are more invasives in San Francisco Bay than there are native species.”

She, her husband Will, and their six-year-old live in Toledo because, as she says, “there’s no marine layer to contend with and Toledo has a summer up there.” Mountain biking is what the family of three enjoy – from Alsea Falls, to Mt. Bachelor and Mt. Hood.

If We Build It, Will They Come, Leave or Morph?

“The biggest issue facing wind and wave energy developers in the environmental arena is the high level of uncertainty regarding environmental effects will be difficult to reduce that uncertainty.” – Sarah Henkel

After her Ph.D, from UC-Santa Barbara, Sarah sent out more than a dozen applications for professorships and research positions to universities.

What got her into the OSU Family was her work at a California-based Trust looking at decommissioning offshore oil platforms.

“What sorts of animals are living on platforms? Do you cut them off at the top to allow navigation and then preserve whatever’s grown on it?” Artificial reefs are attractive in increasing species like corals, sponges, fish and crustacean, but she emphasized that’s mostly done in tropical locations. Henkel says she was a strong candidate for OSU because of the school’s work on the effects of wave energy equipment and lines on the ecosystem up here off Newport.

Image result for Oregon seaweed poster

The marriage between Henkel’s knowledge of benthic ecosystems and the need to understand not only what the moorings of wave energy machines do to fauna like boney fish, crabs, and other species, but also what happens to the mechanisms that are immersed in water as they capture the wave energy was perfect for OSU.

Image result for wave energy
She points out wind turbines also have anchoring systems and superstructures; however, the actual energy-capturing mechanisms are high in the air as opposed to wave energy devices.

Wave Energy, Blue Energy: No Slam Dunk

“The industry recognizes the value of looking like they are being good environmental stewards,” she says, pointing out her ecological expertise melds well with the industry’s ideal of sustainable, renewable clean energy.

Her role with the Pacific Marine Energy Center is to coordinate all the science concerned with the ecological effects of wind energy – both the siting, building, and operation of any wave energy array.

OSU is looking at wave energy while the other members of PMEC are studying tidal energy (University of Washington) and river energy (University of Alaska).

Image result for wave energy

wave

Image result for wave energy

wave

Image result for river energy

small energy generating device, river

Image result for tidal energy

tidal

The idea of studying sediment changes caused by anchors and structures located on the bottom – at the grain size level – may not be considered “sexy” when one thinks of marine biology; however, for Henkel the benthic zone is where it’s at.

“The classic question for artificial reefs is attraction versus production: Can there be more fish overall with this additional habitat, or is that artificial habitat attracting fish away from natural reefs?”

The permitting process for the wave energy site off Newport has been both Byzantine and slow, and it’s ironic that in her 10 years at OSU, she’s not had any opportunity to do the field observations and data collecting she was hired to head up. In that decade, Henkel said a 1/3 scale wave energy device was put into the ocean out here for seven weeks.

Henkel is not stuck in limbo, however, since she is conducting research into other aspects of the benthic region with far-reaching implications for our coastal economy.


Crabs on the Move

When we think of the Dungeness crab, most realize it’s Oregon’s leading commercial seafood product; it brought in an estimated $75 million in 2018. Henkel posed a question that many crabbers have had in their minds for years: How far will crabs travel in search of food?

In 2018, Henkel and a colleague from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration superglued acoustic tags onto legal-sized Dungeness crabs near the mouth of the Columbia River and off Cape Falcon.

Acoustical receivers helped the team learn the frequency and distance crabs moved in rocky versus sandy habitat – data that, again, will help understand possible impacts of wave energy testing on marine reserves.

Those 10 tagged crabs in sandy environs near the Columbia left the region within a week; the transmitter, at a price of $300 each, went with them.

Most know that crabbers prefer sandy areas for their pots because of fewer entanglements compared to rocky bottoms.

“It’s interesting because I’ve done a lot of sampling of benthic habitat and there just isn’t a lot of food down there,” Henkel told Mark Floyd of OSU. “There’s usually only very small worms and clams, yet there’s an enormous crab harvest each year and most of that is from sandy-bottomed regions.”

Good science means marching on, so another 20 crabs were tagged and then dropped in waters near Cape Falcon, a rocky benthic zone. Her findings were surprising: “Four of those crabs left the region right away, while the other 16 stayed an average of 25.5 days. One stayed for 117 days.”

“Even though it’s a small sample size, it’s clear that habitat can influence crab movement,” Henkel told Floyd. “The crabs in the rocky areas had more to eat, but they often also have mossy bellies, which may not be as desirable commercially. Commercial crabbers like to target migrating crabs in sandy areas that tend to have smooth bellies.”

Chemical Outflows Studied

Other interesting projects she’s been involved with include a 2012 study of marine species living in Newport waters to see if the Georgia-Pacific containerboard plant outfall pipe, located 4,000 feet off Nye Beach, may be exposing some marine life to contaminants.

In fact, it was the City of Newport that requested OSU researchers look at a variety of species, including flatfish (speckled sand dab), crustaceans (Dungeness crab and Crangon shrimp), and mollusks (mussels and olive snails) because they might be bioaccumulating metals and organic pollutants at different rates.

Henkel and colleague, Scott Heppell, found contamination of those species was not at levels of concern: “There was some concern that metals and organic pollutants may be bioaccumulating in nearby marine life. We tested for 137 different chemicals and only detected 38 of them – none at levels that remotely approach concern for humans.”

New Student Archetypes: Funding at the Whim of New Anti-science Administration

We discuss what characteristics current science students possess compared to when she was a young undergraduate science major in the late 1990s. “We see a lot more students who want their science to matter … they want to be studying things that will improve society.”

This social awareness also has created more collaborative and supportive learning environments, she stresses. “When I was a student, we had the attitude that we didn’t want anyone to see our data until we publish it.”

Now, she emphasizes, there is so much data coming in from all angles; for instance, one project can get 1,000 photos a minute just of one marine species in its habitat. Part of the sharing may stem too from being more socially conscious and concerned than the cohorts for Henkel when she first started school.

Other concerns are tied to this recent shift in administrations – from Obama to Trump. There was a lot of support for renewables under previous administrations, but now under Trump so much is up in the air for scientists working on research projects tagged as “climate change” or “renewable energy,” even those research projects around species protection.

Two large grants the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management manage are at stake.

The Scientist’s Toolbox: Adaptation

To adapt, Sarah says, wave energy research is now looking at developing, promoting and deploying small machines near navigational buoys and aquaculture operations, where batteries die in six months; in the case of aquaculture, automatic feeding machines run on batteries, but with a wave-energy generating device supplying constant power, there would be no gap in the power.

On top of that, thousands of research and navigational buoys in our oceans have batteries that need constant replacing and disposal. Wave energy at the sites would be a constant energy source and reduce waste from battery disposal.

Making lemonade – new breakthroughs in blue energy — out of lemons – subsidies and tax breaks in the billions for the oil industry but none for blue energy – is also part of the scientist’s philosophy.

Sarah’s big takeaway when talking about the power of the Hatfield campus is that students get to work with other agencies and collaborate on real projects. “Not many students can be destined for a job in the Ivory Tower,” she said. Seeing other scientists from other agencies in different roles gives students at HMSC so many more avenues for career paths.

Henkel may be a sea floor expert, but she still knows that looking at how seabirds react to/interact with wind turbines and wave energy fields is important, as is studying the electromagnetic frequency fields created by blue energy generation.

She’s on a mission to get down to the granular level of things, but in the end, each little piece of the puzzle is hitched to the big thing, called the ocean!

Renewable Energy Is Not the Answer; Nuclear Is

“It’s always a good idea to start by asking about the facts.” So advises Noam Chomsky. “Whenever you hear anything said very confidently, the first thing that should come to mind is, ‘Wait a minute, is that true?’” De omnibus dubitandum—doubt everything—was Karl Marx’s motto and should be the motto of every thinking person. Question even or especially what the tribe most takes for granted.

In the era of climate change, when fossil fuels are known to be driving civilization straight into the ocean, the idea that liberal and left-wing tribes take most for granted is “Renewable energy!” It is shouted confidently from every public perch. Renewable energy, scaled up to replace fossil fuels and even nuclear, is declared the only possible salvation for humanity. It has such obvious advantages over every other energy source that the world has to go 100% renewables ASAP.

Obviously!

But wait a minute—is that true?

Let’s try to shed the religious thinking, look objectively at the facts, and come to a conclusion about this most important of subjects: how to power the future and hopefully save the world.

Renewable energy emits greenhouse gases

First, consider the claim that renewable energy has no carbon emissions. This is true, in a sense, for wind and solar farms (as it is for nuclear energy), which in themselves emit virtually no greenhouse gases. It isn’t true for hydropower, however, which in 2016 produced 71% of all electricity generated by renewable sources. According to one study, hydroelectric dams worldwide emit as much methane (a potent greenhouse gas) as Canada, from decaying vegetation and nutrient runoff. Another study concluded they produce even more carbon dioxide than methane.

“These are massive emissions,” one expert comments. “There are a massive number of dams that are currently proposed to be built. It would be a grave mistake to continue to finance those with the impression that they were part of the solution to the climate crisis.”

And yet in every scenario projected by renewables advocates, hydropower is absolutely essential. For instance, Stanford Professor Mark Jacobson’s famous—and deeply flawed—proposal to run the U.S. on 100% renewables by 2050 assumes the country’s dams could add turbines and transformers to produce 1,300 gigawatts of electricity, over 16 times their current capacity of 80 gigawatts. (According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the maximum capacity that could be added is only 12 gigawatts, 1,288 gigawatts short of Jacobson’s assumption.)

The International Energy Agency projects that by 2023, wind and solar together will satisfy a mere 10% of global electricity demand, while hydroelectric power will satisfy 16%. Nearly all the rest will be produced by fossil fuels and nuclear energy.

Burning biomass, too, which is a renewable energy source, releases large amounts of carbon into the atmosphere. “It does exactly the opposite of what we need to do: reduce emissions,” says an expert in forest science and management.

Even leaving aside hydropower and biomass, the use of wind and solar dramatically increases greenhouse gas emissions compared to nuclear energy. This is because, given the intermittency and the diluted nature of solar and wind energy, a backup source of power is needed, and that source is natural gas. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., a guru of the renewables movement, himself acknowledges this fact:

We need about 3,000 feet of altitude, we need flat land, we need 300 days of sunlight, and we need to be near a gas pipe. Because for all of these big utility-scale solar plants—whether it’s wind or solar—everybody is looking at gas as the supplementary fuel. The plants that we’re building, the wind plants and the solar plants, are gas plants.

The burning of natural gas; i.e., methane, emits about half as much carbon dioxide as the burning of coal. So natural gas is better than coal, but not nearly good enough if we want to solve climate change. Even worse, many millions of tons of unburned methane are leaked every year from the American oil and gas industry—and methane is more than 80 times as potent a greenhouse gas as carbon dioxide. So these leaks cancel out much of the environmental good that wind and solar farms are supposedly doing.

In other words, the fact that wind and solar farms typically operate far below their capacity (because of seasonal changes and the unreliability of weather) necessitates that a more reliable power source “supplement” them. In fact, as researchers Mike Conley and Tim Maloney point out, strictly speaking it is the renewable source that acts as a supplement for the oil or natural gas plants linked to the renewables. A solar farm with a capacity of one gigawatt, for instance, will on average operate at only about 20% of its capacity, which means that if a gigawatt of energy is really to be produced, the majority will have to be provided by the “backup” fossil fuel plant(s).

The upshot is that an anti-nuclear and pro-renewables policy means an increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

California is a good example. Like other states in the U.S and countries in the Western world, it has been closing its nuclear power plants—despite their safety, reliability, effectiveness, and environmental friendliness. The carbon-free nuclear plants have been replaced with renewables + natural gas, which is to say, they’ve been replaced mostly with natural gas (prone to methane leaks). After it closed the San Onofre nuclear plant in 2013, California missed its CO2 emissions targets as a result.

In New England, after the premature closing of the nuclear power plant Vermont Yankee in 2014, CO2 emission rates rose across New England, reversing a decade of declines. When Massachusetts’ last remaining nuclear plant, Pilgrim, closed last month, much more electricity generation was lost than the state generates with all its solar, wind, and hydropower combined. Several new fossil fuel plants and a couple of small solar and wind farms will take the place of Pilgrim, increasing carbon dioxide emissions.

In their new book A Bright Future: How Some Countries Have Solved Climate Change and the Rest Can Follow, Joshua Goldstein and Staffan Qvist give other examples. Between 1970 and 1990, due to its construction of nuclear power plants, Sweden was able to cut its carbon emissions by half even as its electricity consumption more than doubled. Germany, by contrast, emits about twice as much carbon pollution per person as Sweden despite using one-third less energy per person, because it has chosen to phase out its nuclear power while introducing renewables.

This means that Germany has simply substituted one (relatively) clean energy source for another, while doing virtually nothing to decarbonize. Its energy production remains dominated by coal, and greenhouse gas emissions are around a billion tons a year.

A more sensible policy would have been to build more nuclear plants and phase out coal. Or at least to let the existing nuclear plants continue to operate while adding renewables, which then would have displaced coal.

ExxonMobil likes renewable energy

The fact that renewable energy directly and indirectly causes far more greenhouse gas emissions than nuclear should already tell us it isn’t a solution to climate change.

Indeed, the willingness of the oil and gas industry in recent years to promote and invest in renewables is itself significant. Over the last three years, the five largest publicly traded oil and gas companies have invested over a billion dollars in advertising and lobbying for renewables. “Natural gas is the perfect partner for renewables,” ads say. “See why #natgas is a natural partner for renewable power sources,” Shell tweets.

By pretending to care about the environment, these companies not only burnish their reputations but also are able to associate natural gas with clean energy, which it very much is not. The formula “renewables + natural gas” thus serves a dual purpose. In fact, it serves a triple purpose: it also distracts from nuclear power, which, unlike renewables, is an immediately viable alternative to oil and gas.

Nuclear power, not renewable energy, is what the fossil fuel industry really fears. The reason is simple: the energy in nuclear fuel is orders of magnitude more concentrated than the energy in oil, gas, coal, and every other source. (Which is why nuclear reactors produce vastly less waste than everything from coal to solar.) If governments invested in a global Nuclear New Deal, so to speak, they could make fossil fuels largely obsolete within a couple of decades. Not even Mark Jacobson’s wildly unrealistic $15-20 trillion 100% renewables plan envisions such a fast transition.

Because of the diffuse and intermittent nature of wind and solar energy, all the world’s investment in renewables didn’t prevent the share of low-carbon power in generating electricity from declining between 1995 and 2017. Western countries’ shuttering of nuclear power plants in these decades was a disaster for the environment.

Another way to appreciate the disaster is to consider that global carbon emissions are actually rising, even as the world spent roughly $2 trillion on wind and solar between 2007 and 2016. (This is similar to the amount spent on nuclear in the past 55 years.) So much for the gospel of renewable energy!

Meanwhile, the fossil fuel industry has been smiling on the sidelines, giving millions of dollars to groups like the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Environmental Defense Fund, and many others that work to kill nuclear power and thus exacerbate climate change. (Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth are particularly active in the war on nuclear—and they refuse to disclose their donors. Could it be because they receive an unseemly amount from oil and gas companies?)

We have eleven years

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2018 special report, we have eleven years left to avoid potentially irreversible climate disruption.

António Guterres, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, has called on global leaders to “demonstrate how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45 per cent over the next decade and achieve net zero global emissions by 2050.” They’re supposed to meet in New York in September 2019 to answer this call.

The only conceivable way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on the scale called for is to aggressively embrace nuclear power. It is cost-competitive with all other forms of electricity generation except natural gas—although if you take into account the long-term environmental costs of using natural gas (or oil or even renewables), nuclear is probably the cheapest of all.

A worldwide rollout of nuclear power plants on the scale necessary to save civilization would certainly take longer than eleven years, but we can at least make substantial progress by then. If, that is, we pressure our governments to stop subsidizing oil, natural gas, and the renewables they go hand-in-hand with and instead massively invest in nuclear.

It’s time to stop doing the bidding of fossil fuel interests and get serious about saving the world.

To Bag or Not to Bag

We’re probably not the first time there’s been a civilization in the universe,” states Adam Frank, a professor of astrophysics at the University of Rochester and the author of Light of the Stars: Alien Worlds and the Fate of the Earth.

The idea that we’re destroying the planet gives us way too much credit. Certainly, we’re pushing the earth into a new era. If we look at the history of the biosphere, the history of life on earth, in the long run, the earth is just going to pick that up and do what is interesting for it. It will run new evolutionary experiments. We, on the other hand, may not be a part of that experiment. Source.

Damn, and I was just going to rattle on about why I am not making it to the Newport City Council meeting in an hour (6 pm, 4/15/2019) to see if the wise mayor and council vote for a single-use plastic bag ban. I have rallied around the ban for many more reasons than the negative effects of this throwaway bag on marine life, fish, reefs and the aesthetic value of not having a bag for groceries wafting high in the Sitka spruces around here.

I’m thinking a puny single-use plastic bag ban is the inch-worm step toward having a shitload of real conversations, action plans and paradigm shifts in how communities will attempt to weather the impending huge negative effects of climate change, food shortages, high cost of energy, pollution, lack of housing (affordable) and the lack of worthy employment, education, retirement, palliative care, and rehab.

If we can’t restrict one plastic item in the scheme of all the junk thrown at us by corporations and their chemical purveyors, then how are we going to have conversations about forcing all corporations to stop mindless over-production of junk and put an end to their Capitalism on Steroids of planned material-product obsolescence so they can continue to sell-sell-sell? How are we going to stop capitalism in its tracks, which is the ONLY solution to climate change, predatory wealth, and the resulting externalities of more and more pollution, toxins, wars, and death? That’s the only way to battle against what we have now, in 2019 as 410 ppm CO2 in the atmosphere continues to increase, ocean acidification continues to rise, and hypoxia and mindless-endless wars continue to spread; wars and war making/prepping/staging sucking an amazing 52 cents of each tax dollar thrown at war material/war profiteers/war enablers/ war side businesses?

Broken schools systems, broken lives, and broken spirits, in a country that calls itself Christian and then supports the most irreligious, blasphemous devil-loving man/woman/LBGTQ-hating, racist and sexist and imbalanced human shadow called Trump. All of those seven deadly sins he has dripping from his Big Mac lubricated jowl.

The reality is there is no simple approach to anything these days — to even getting to first base in regard to community participatory thinking in order to make way at rolling up our sleeves to begin to solve problem after problem created by that perverted business principle (sic) that any of the Fortune 1000 and all the sycophants embrace (all solvable). And the unintended and intended consequences of our individual, family, group and national/global decisions need to be weighed ahead of the game. The tipping points, the feedback loops, and lag time and tragedy of the commons and the overshoot of everything capitalism does for profit with no regard to humankind, wildlife, air, water, food, soil, aesthetics and so on, this is what we need to be working on, not all the flippant shit we express in our collective capitalist angst and superficial consumerism.

I am also colliding with some heady stuff, tied to the Great Filter, while teaching some dirt-poor children in this rural county and working on imbecilic plastic bag bans (when we should be banning all plastics and go back to a world where we do things in bulk — think reusable containers, streamlining packaging and working with the finite planet. These juxtapositions are the thing of my morning first cup of coffee:

Humanity seems to have a bright future, i.e., a non-trivial chance of expanding to fill the universe with lasting life. But the fact that space near us seems dead now tells us that any given piece of dead matter faces an astronomically low chance of begating such a future. There thus exists a great filter between death and expanding lasting life, and humanity faces the ominous question: how far along this filter are we?

Combining standard stories of biologists, astronomers, physicists, and social scientists would lead us to expect a much smaller filter than we observe. Thus one of these stories must be wrong. To find out who is wrong, and to inform our choices, we should study and reconsider all these areas. For example, we should seek evidence of extraterrestrials, such as via signals, fossils, or astronomy. But contrary to common expectations, evidence of extraterrestrials is likely bad (though valuable) news. The easier it was for life to evolve to our stage, the bleaker our future chances probably are.

[…]

Finally, we would do well to keep a in mind a few unusual aspects of this Great Filter puzzle. First, let us keep in mind the interdisciplinary nature of the this puzzle. While it may comforting for each discipline to claim that the Filter must surely lie in some other discipline of (in their eyes) lessor repute, such claims should surely be backed up by detailed analysis using our best understanding of that discipline. It will no more do for astronomers to simply claim, without further supporting analysis, that people will lose their tendency to colonize, than it would do for biologists to simply declare that astronomers could not possibly know that the universe is as big as they claim.

Second, we must be wary of the “God of the Gaps” phenomena, where miracles are attributed to whatever we don’t understand. Contrary to the famous drunk looking for his keys under the lamppost, here we are tempted to conclude that the keys must lie in whatever dark corners we have not searched, rather than face the unpleasant conclusion that the keys may be forever lost.

Finally, we should remember that the Great Filter is so very large that it is not enough to just find some improbable steps; they must be improbable enough. Even if life only evolves once per galaxy, that still leaves the problem of explaining the rest of the filter: why we haven’t seen an explosion arriving here from any other galaxies in our past universe? And if we can’t find the Great Filter in our past, we’ll have to fear it in our future. —  Robin Hanson

How can we not question the scheme of things, big and small and unknown . . . and the observable now and the predictable future in our collective predictive consciousnesses? Really, though, the crux of this blog is about how quickly words become, now, in 2019, the tools of incarceration and damnation by the powers. Words that repeat themselves and end up on the precipice of propaganda time, with realities only set for the marketers, billionaires and political class. Just look now at Julian Assange. We are all Julian Assange! That is, those of us who write, we all are Assange. Those of us who publish. And who report!

The big question today and from hereon is: How might I end up erased or un-personed, because I espouse anti-Imperialism and anti-Americanism and anti-Capitalism ideals, or posit a much more aggressive revolutionary zealotry or even ask for people to face fascism with chaos/disruption/ physical force against the powers that be. Rejecting to jobs, rejecting payments, fines, levies, fees, prosecutions, mortgages, indoctrination, taxes, mandates, tolls; or invalidating popular propaganda and its evil twin, marketing, well, that in itself is violence against the state, the corporation, the old-new global or community or group order.

The shocking arrest of Assange carries a warning for all who, as Oscar Wilde wrote, “sow the seeds of discontent [without which] there would be no advance towards civilization”. The warning is explicit towards journalists. What happened to the founder and editor of WikiLeaks can happen to you on a newspaper, you in a TV studio, you on radio, you running a podcast. — John Pilger 

Now, this mental state I am shaking out of is tied to the big picture/small picture thing, and while the plastic bag ban I have written about here recently in the past, and those few little bits that have been published in the local newspaper, well well, life does go on in terms of the big big scale!

Experts Paint Sobering Potential for Sea Change 

No Ordinary Fish Monger — page 1

Students Grapple with Plastics — page 4

Hawaii was the first state to ban plastic bags in the US.

This is how democracy doesn’t work — going to a small town city council, rural county locale,  trying to wade through the ineptitude of our representative government. Many in the city councils around the country get paid squat. Many are using it —  political service/disservice — to make connections, both business and political, which is the same Hydra in fact. Much on that later, too! Many small town council members are attempting to do some good for the community, don’t get me wrong. But the solutions are still mired in the fantasies of economic growth unchecked, a green light to the business community, and a belief that everyone in the USA can pull himself or herself up by the bootstraps and find his or her 40 acres and a mule — or in modern parlance, his or her own 2500 square foot rancher on 1.5 acres with 2.3 children and 2.7 vehicles in the 3 car garage while managing a string of drive-through coffee stands! Or variations on that theme!

Environmental concerns are just postcard thinking by the masses, that majority of people who have not yet suffered the fence-line communities’ environmental (pollution) racism.

Q. What are some people that inspire you?

A. The work of W E B Dubois has inspired me a lot. He was not only a famous sociologist but also someone who could be called a ‘change agent’. He was not only a good social theorist but also very interested in the application of his work. I saw his work to be directly relevant to influencing the life of ordinary people. His work made me believe that research, policy, and practice must go hand-in-hand.

Q. How is climate change a social and environmental justice issue?

A. Climate change is the number one problem of the 21st century. We sometimes forget that climate change is much more than simply parts per million (of greenhouse gas emissions). It is an equity issue. It effects some people directly. The most peculiar aspect of climate change is that the populations that contribute least to the problem of climate change are most likely to feel its impacts. Such disproportionality makes it a serious social justice issue.

Climate change is also a very complex issue to solve. It is a global issue, a national issue, and a local issue—all at the same time. At the local level, the population at the front line of the impacts of climate change are also at risk to other things. For example, usually the most susceptible to climate change-related impacts are those with greater food and water insecurity.

Hence, climate change intersects with vulnerable populations not only after a disaster but also before a disaster. Because of the complexity and uniqueness of the climate change crisis, we cannot continue to plan (climate mitigation and adaptation) for it using the tools of the past. I think that from a planning perspective, we cannot assume that a uniform plan can work for all in terms of ensuring social justice. Planning has to be sensitive to the fact that communities and nations have different levels of wealth, health, and education. The goal for planning should be to build community resilience and provide an opportunity for people to bounce back both before and after a catastrophic event.  — Robert D. Bullard,  the Dean of the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas. He is often described as the father of environmental justice.

Look, I cut my teeth on environmentalism, and yes, we have disaster after disaster happening to ecosystems — wild, as in marine, and with homo sapiens, as in the average Joe and Jane, Lupe and Lorenzo! I put the human element in with the wild element, and, yes, there are huge issues tied to capitalism, population at 7.5 billion, corporate complicity (and its driving of other sell-outs and Faustian Bargain adherents) in driving the ecological crisis. There is no argument from me to say that the 2,700 billionaires (and their families) and the 36,000,000 millionaires (and their families) do not deserve the power they have buggered the world for nor the majority of their loot because it’s been at the expense of families, men and women and children, and entire communities, entire regions, entire countries, entire species. If I say lock them up, then, well, what a better solution than what the 36,002,700 super rich and their thugs and sycophants and Little Big Eichmann’s have had in store for us, the 80 percent, and the ecosystems destroyed by each and every cargo ship unleashed to the world.

But, we also are a rapacious species, self-deluded into thinking we are above the rest of the animal kingdom, and that it’s winner takes all. That attitude is not the attitude of the majority of peoples. Yet, those people, those civil societies, those battlers for agriculture and water rights —  to hold their land as bio-intensive and organic components of the ecosystems around them —  they are battling overlords and societies that depend on perpetual growth: perpetual growth in profits, in interest rates, in population rates and replacement rates for each passing generation.

The unborn and the old and the ones who want to stay poor but completely able and subsistence centered   on their own land can’t even get past the evil of the corporation and the government unregulators working with the thugs:

Glyphosate is the base chemical component for some 750 different brands of pesticides worldwide, in addition to Monsanto-Bayer’s Roundup. Glyphosate residues have been found in tap water, orange juice, children’s urine, breast milk, chips, snacks, beer, wine, cereals, eggs, oatmeal, wheat products, and most conventional foods tested. It’s everywhere, in brief.

In a long-term animal study by French scientists under Gilles Eric Seralini, Michael Antoniou and associates, it was demonstrated that even ultra-low levels of glyphosate herbicides cause non-alcoholic liver disease. The levels the rats were exposed to, per kg of body weight, were far lower than what is allowed in our food supply. According to the Mayo Clinic, today, after four decades or more pervasive use of glyphosate pesticides, 100 million, or 1 out of 3 Americans now have liver disease. These diagnoses are in some as young as 8 years old. (read old interview of great scientist exposing GMOs and Monsanto, who is now deceased,  conducted by yours truly here!)

I always feel as if a little bit of hope can creep up on me and assist me in my own sanity in the insanity that is now. Sure, everything that changes stays the same. Maybe, but much on that later. The fact this glyphosate story is just one of millions demonstrating there is no great filter running this society, though many believe we as a species will eventually get to speeds approaching FTL — faster than light — to help us explore, move away, become celestial pilgrims again and again!

Hope is like knowing sugar is bad-bad-bad for you, for the entire human physiology, the entire system of the homo sapiens regulating immune system, creating inflammation, gut issues, brain “fog,” and more. Not glucose for the body as the body breaks down veggie and fruit fructose to feed the brain.

Yet, we go out and eat a Reese’s peanut butter cup or down a soda or shot of whiskey. It’s all bad-bad-bad, but we have hope that just one scoop of Ben and Jerry’s or one margarita or that Lucky Charms binge is just a passing phase.

Wrong! Addiction and feedback loops and hungry insulin rushing through the body looking to eat. And, alas, comes the single-use plastic bag ban. We want those reusable ones, those cotton ones, and, well, the bag ban — single use ones, that is (actually the single use wimpy bags are used as garbage liners and poop scoop receptacles, so they are actually disposable bags with a second use-reuse-repurpose tag) — seems like a win-win.

But, there are life cycle assessments, and the jury is pretty much in, out there — you have to look at the consequences of one action creating another action or one product taken out of the consumer stream but replaced by other products.

Life cycle assessments and embedded energy . . . and that fact that when you chew that mango on the Oregon Coast, consider how many miles it traveled from where it came; how many machines sowed it and harvested it; how many pesticides and inputs “protected” it and grew it; how much oil was used to build the transportation system that moved it and all the equipment to grow and harvest it; and how many more miles were expended to take it from point a to point b, and then to points c and d, as well as how much packaging after processing was used to bring that mango to you at the local 7-11 as dried sulfur-gassed chews ready to be trucked to the vendor selling them at the beach kiosk?

Life cycle analysis. Maybe we need to do the same life cycle (destroying) analysis of products. Or the life cycle enslavement cycle of freaky thinker like Mister 9-9-6 man or Elon Musk!

Image result for 996 culture Musk

One of China’s richest men has been criticized for endorsing the controversial culture of 12-hour workdays in the country’s red-hot tech industry, saying employees who worked longer hours will get the “rewards of hard work.”

Jack Ma, founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba (BABA), has spoken out on social media in recent days in support of the Chinese work practice known as “996.” The number refers to working from 9 am to 9 pm six days a week and is said to be common among the country’s big technology companies and start-ups.

Image result for 996 culture

“If we find things we like, 996 is not a problem,” Ma said in a blog post Sunday on Chinese social media site Weibo. “If you don’t like [your work], every minute is torture,” he added.

Ma’s comments prompted criticism from Chinese social media users.

“Did you ever think about the elderly at home who need care, (or) the children who need company?” wrote a Weibo user with the online moniker stupidcan123, in response to Ma’s post. “If all enterprises enforce a 996 schedule, no one will have children” because of a lack of time, they added

“It has become harder and harder to raise money recently,” Zhao said in his brightly decorated office located in a fancy Beijing office building. “I’m under a lot of pressure. Sometimes I’m awake from around 2 am to dawn and can’t stop thinking about my company’s future.”

Eric Tao, founder and chief executive of Beijing-based random video chat company Holla, feels the same pain as Musk and Zhao. “As CEO of the company, I can’t under-perform this week and make it up by outperforming next week. It doesn’t work that way,” he said, adding that he works about 12 hours a day, so not as many as Musk.

In the scheme of things, 996 or 797 — 7 am to 9 pm 7 days a week — is what will (is) burning up the planet. Busy bees, these slave masters are. What are their billions made doing for society.

I know I know — a plastic bag ban is a drop in the proverbial pond.

I sent this email below to the mayor and council to circumvent going to a meeting an hour away (one-way) from where I live. Also, to circumvent the hard stares directed at me, as I am the only one who doesn’t stand for the pledge of allegiance and I am one of the few who doesn’t take off my hat for councils and judges, inside or outside.  I am not afraid to visibly emote or enunciate my concerns when I hear something said. You know, I also do not like the constraints of gaveling fools looking down on us and three-minute time minutes for public comments per citizen.

I also do not see the plastic bag ban as a win-win, since we have allowed the plastics and toxins and oil industries and other industries to dictate what we do, think, believe, purchase and invest in . . . with the dirty bidding of the elected officials behold to them.

Carrying Grocery Bags

Date: Monday, April 15, 2019 – 6:00 PM
TO: Council Chambers, Newport City Hall, 169 SW Coast Highway

Dear Council –

First, I have to say our form of shallow participatory democracy is not working when we have to spend so much time on a simple single-use plastic bag ban.

This may be an elected form of representational democracy, but the reality is you all do not have the collective IQ to drill down on much. We the people, for the people, by the people actually should be working daily and at night to determine how communities thrive, or survive or mitigate what many scientists and journalists like myself call the privatization of the external negative costs to the community, including air, water, soil, ecosystems, human and non-human health.

Corporations reap the profits but we the taxpayer and the tens of thousands of human communities and the ecological ones to boot pay for the clean-up and negative outcomes of rapacious capitalism.

Our collective IQ exponentially outshines those collectively of all the CEOs of those companies like Exxon or Georgia Pacific or Weyerhaeuser or Raytheon or Google or Wells Fargo, et al. The problem is in places like Newport, where livable jobs are scarce for the average person working in service jobs and warehouse and blue collar employment, families sometimes have to have five jobs between both parents to make ends meet.

Coming to City Hall for a Council meeting is both difficult and disconnected to their lives.

So, back to not just a low hanging fruit, one that is right there between your feet:

The average bag you pick up at the grocery store, or carry your takeout in, has a lifespan of about 12 minutes.

When discarded, they clog sewage and storm drains, entangle and kill an estimated 100,000 marine mammals every year, and degenerate into toxic microplastics that fester in our oceans and landfills for up to 1,000 years.

Despite this, shoppers collectively use around 1 trillion billion single-use plastic bags every year. That’s 300 bags per person, per year, for every single person on Earth — or enough to circle the globe 8,600 times.

One trillion plastic bags – single use – are used, equating to 2 million per minute.

Now how is the average child from a family of parents barely getting to each new paycheck before an eviction or foreclosure notice going to wrap their heads around JUST single-use plastic bag consumption?

How will we have conversations about the incredible and perverse ways corporations have fed them and their parents on habitual overuse of plastics in everything?

A bag ban is a micro-start to the bigger conversations around ocean acidification (CO2 release from fossil fuels – plastics are fossil fuels – cement factories, cutting down and burning forests) and fisheries depletion and microplastics inside their own children’s gut, blood and feces.

We are the throwaway society we all embrace and decry because corporations profit from that lack of durability.

The ban is just a small start to the conversation which we need to start attacking the external pain and pollution and quickening of global warming we have to have now. Do we change our habits significantly when we have almost no choice in the matter since corporations control legislatures, federal agencies, local communities’ will and will power and narratives?

No, we have to demand a new system of production, resource exploitation, and citizen consumption.

Good luck tonight. LCA’s are deeper ways to look at all our consumption habits and the goods and services we demand as a very consumerist-centered society. That’s life-cycle assessments!

This is no small matter. You all are lowly representatives of the small city of Newport who will have to deal with these facts when looking at other plastics and other products used in the city. Life-cycle assessments and embedded energy and the amount of calories of energy (fossil fuel burning) to get food from farm to plate are big issues you might not think affect city council business but they will!

Vote for the plastic bag ban, but then be ready for bigger fish to fry, to use a pun that is probably not so funny these days.

I teach youth here in the Lincoln County school district. I write social-cultural-environmental-economic-media justice issues.

I continue to study (and was a leader in) true sustainability discourse, planning and education.

While I support the plastic bag ban, I am smart enough to look at the leakage of bans toward other uses of plastic to make up the bin and garbage can liner issue — yes, more plastic bags of heavier gauge will be purchased to offset that 12-minute single use bag.

Ponder how complicated the world is now that we have given the rights to clear-cut forests, dump toxins in river systems, emit pollutants in small and large communities’ air systems, and limit affordable housing to the purveyors of profit without social-environmental-cultural-racial considerations.

Even knowing all of the so-called ins and outs and positives and negatives tied to a city-wide ban on single use plastic bags, we have to show some mettle and begin to start the larger conversations on how what we get from corporations actually determines our futures and the futures of more than just seven generations out – about 140 years into the future!

Not easy reading:Bag leakage: The effect of disposable carryout bag regulations on unregulated bags/i.e.  Life Cycle Analysis of Single Use Plastic Bags.

Sincerely, Paul Haeder, Otis, Oregon –

P.S. — committed to not adding to the road congestion and air pollution of my round-trip to Newport even in my 46 mpg 20 year old car by staying put this evening! (ahh, even knowing the energy footprint of typing on a computer and using an email system is significant unto itself!)

Kenya has the strictest plastic bag ban of all. The punishment for breaking the law is up to four years in jail or fines up to $40,000. Rwanda has a strict policy as well.

Here’s the leakage:

This means that 28.5 percent of the plastic reduction from DCB policies is lost due to consumption shifting towards unregulated trash bags. The results also provide a lower bound for the reuse of plastic carryout bags, with 12–22% of plastic carryout bags reused as trash bags pre-regulation. In other words, a substantial proportion of carryout bags were already reused in a way that avoided the manufacture and purchase of another plastic bag.

If carbon footprint was the only metric of environmental success, the results in this paper suggest DCB policies are having an adverse effect, especially if we consider the effect on paper carryout bag use. However, if the unmeasured benefits with respect to marine debris, toxicity, and wildlife are great enough, they could outweigh the greenhouse gas costs.

LCAs of plastic, paper, and reusable carryout bags have been shown to be sensitive to assumptions made about the weight and number of trash bags displaced by the secondary use of plastic carryout bag, with the reuse of plastic carryout bags as bin liners substantially improving their environmental performance (Mattila et al., 2011). According to a UK Environmental Agency (2011) study, a shopper needs to reuse a cotton carryout bag 131 times to have the same global warming potential (measured in kilograms of CO2 equivalent) as plastic carryout bags with zero reuse, while that same cotton bag needs to be reused 327 times if all plastic carryout bags are reused as bin liners.

And, of course, plastic bags are a major threat:

The United Nations Environmental Programme (2014) estimates the environmental damage to marine ecosystems of plastic litter is $13 billion per year. This estimate includes financial losses incurred by fisheries and tourism as well as time spent cleaning up beaches. While plastic bags and films represent only 2.2% of the total waste stream (CA Senate Rules Committee, 2014), plastic carryout bags and other plastic bags are the eighth and sixth most common item found in coastal cleanups. Once in waterways, plastic bags do not biodegrade, but instead break into smaller pieces, which can be consumed by fish, turtles, and whales that mistake them for food. A survey of experts, representing 19 fields of study, rank plastic bags and plastic utensils as the fourth severest threat to sea turtles, birds, and marine animals in terms of entanglement, ingestions, and contamination (Wilcox et al., 2016).

I’ll be posting an earth day, Earth Day, article soon, since that’s 4/22/2019. All the intricacies of just how screwed the planet it and how screwed 80 percent of us are in the immediate future. Screwed if we continue business as usual and coming up with the same asinine solutions to solve bigger and more complex problems  —

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.

So minor good news is that Newport, on a vote of 5 to 2, passed the plastic bag ban!

NEWPORT — The City of Newport became the eighth city in Oregon Monday night to pass a plastic bag ban ordinance, outlawing single-use plastic bags often used at grocery stores and community events to carry out purchases. The council vote was 5-2 in favor.

Complacency and the Environmental Catastrophe

Ask any reasonably well-informed person what the cause of climate change is and the chances are they will say greenhouse gas emissions (GGE’s), but they would only be partially correct. While it is true that man-made GGE’s are clogging Earth’s lower atmosphere, trapping heat and resulting in widespread climate change, the underlying 21st century cause, in contrast to the 19th and early 20th century when information was scarce, is something much more personal and lethal: complacency. Widespread complacency among politicians, big business and to a lesser degree, the general public, is the reason why, despite the various cries for restraint, global GGE’s continue to increase.

Complacency is why air pollution is getting worse in cities and towns across the world, leading to a range of health problems and premature deaths; complacency has caused the destruction of the planet’s rain forests, 85% of which have been lost through human activity, and it’s why the oceans have been poisoned and robbed of fish. Complacency is fueling the greatest extinction of animal and plant species in our history, it’s setting forests alight, filling the oceans and rivers with plastics and other pollutants, and is the reason why the ice mass in the North Pole is melting at unprecedented rates, leading to rising sea levels, flooding and the erosion of land, destroying homes and natural habitats, taking lives, displacing people – potentially millions.

It is complacency, which a wise man once described as the root of all evil, that is causing all of this and more – the ‘I’m all right, Jack’ mentality’. And no matter how many reports are published and forecasts made, or how often someone speaks or writes about what is the greatest crisis in human history, few listen, even fewer act and nothing substantive changes, certainly nothing that matches the scale of the catastrophe. Do people even know there is a crisis, really? The level of apathy amongst governments and corporate power beggars belief, as does the lack of coverage in mainstream media, such as the BBC. Environmental issues should be headline news every single day, but scan the websites and publications of the mass media and the environment is barely mentioned.

Complacency is reinforced by greed and ignorance, greed for limitless profits, short-term gain and material comfort and ignorance of the scale, range and urgency of the crisis, and of the connection between lifestyle and environmental ruin. The fact that animal agriculture is responsible for more GGE’s than any other sector, for example, is not common knowledge, and when it is known, changes in behavior, where they occur at all, are slow. Cutting out meat, fish and dairy reduces a person’s individual GGE’s more than any other single factor. In a positive sign, and for a range of reasons, more people than ever are adopting a vegan diet, particularly in Europe and America. But globally 90% of the population continues to eat animal produce, and this needs to dramatically change. Dissipating ignorance and cultivating greater awareness is badly needed; to this end, a coordinated public information program is needed throughout the world; this is a worldwide crisis and, as all those working in the area know, it requires a unified ‘Environment First’ response.

S.O.P.: Save Our Planet

Restoring the planet to health is the major need of the time; together with a shift in lifestyles, this requires economic systemic change and a reorientation of political priorities. Knowing there is an environmental crisis, claiming to be concerned but doing little or nothing is pure hypocrisy; to their utter shame the vast majority of politicians are environmental hypocrites; weak and devoid of vision. T,hey constitute the very embodiment of complacency; they are indebted to big business and have repeatedly shown that they cannot be relied on to initiate the radical policies needed to keep fossil fuels in the ground and repair the environmental carnage mankind has caused.

The number one priority of governments around the world is ‘the economy’. This is the sacred cow around which they tiptoe and to whom they make their reverential offerings in the hope of being blessed by limitless economic growth, no matter the environmental cost. Where they exist at all, Government policies to reduce GGE’s are designed and limited by the impact they will have on economic development; as such they remain totally inadequate.

Development takes place within the constructs of an unjust system that is dependent on constant consumption, encourages greed, produces huge quantities of waste, and is maintained by the relentless agitation of desire. These thoroughly negative elements work to the detriment of human beings and are the driving impulses behind behavior that has led to, and is perpetuating, the environmental crisis. The system demands that irresponsible consumption not only continues, but deepens and expands into areas of the world hitherto relatively untouched by its poison; it obstructs environmentally responsible policies and lacks the flexibility required to face the challenges, certainly within the time-scale needed if the planet is to be restored to health. Given these facts, the only sane, rational solution is to change the system to one that allows for an urgent meaningful response: a sustainable and just system based on altogether different principles and reasons for being. Neo-liberalism is not a living organism without alternatives, as some devotees of mammon would have us believe: it is a man-made structure and can therefore be redesigned to meet the urgent social and environmental needs of the time.

Systemic change and shifts in government policy will not just happen by themselves, it is up to all of us to demand that the environment becomes the number one priority for governments across the world. At the same time, we all need to examine how we live and ensure that we do so in a way that is determined, first and foremost, by environmental considerations – not by pleasure, convenience and comfort, as is often the case, but by love, for living in an environmentally responsible way is an act of love.

The decisions we make today and in the coming years will affect life on Earth for thousands of years to come. Sacrifices and the breaking of habits are required and within the spirit of collective individual responsibility these should be gladly accepted. Every political, business and lifestyle decision needs to be taken with an understanding of how it affects the environment, and a simple question posed: ‘will this action add to or reduce GGE’s’? If it will increase them, then don’t do it.

Consider how you get around: do you really need that fossil-fueled car (private ownership of cars needs to be drastically reduced, particularly in cities)? What you buy and who you shop with, who supplies your energy and does it come from renewable sources? Where you go on holiday and can you avoid flying and go by train or bus? If not, go somewhere else. What do you eat? If your diet is based on animal produce then reduce your intake. Shop based on need, buy secondhand, limit how often you wash clothing, reduce waste, boycott environmentally abusive companies, write to your political representatives, call for a national public information program; live responsibly and encourage family and friends to do likewise.

Complacency, apathy and hypocrisy coalesce to form the most noxious causes of climate change and environmental vandalism, and until this Trinity of Destruction is overcome, and the crisis is taken seriously by the political class, corporations and the public at large, nothing substantive will take place; and unless fundamental change occurs, and urgently, life on Earth will become increasingly uncomfortable, ecosystems will continue to collapse, and one dark day, in the very near future, it will be too late. The Shroud of Complacency needs to be thrown off now, today, and widespread action rooted in environmental awareness initiated; where there is concerted, sustained action therein lies hope.

Tidepools, Dungeness Crabs, Serenity-Fed Beaches and Recreation a Thing of the Past?

There is no greater failure than the failure to respond to this ecological crisis. We need a wartime-speed mobilization and a just transition to race to zero greenhouse gas emission and to take carbon out of the atmosphere in order to restore a safe climate. We are called to heroism in this hour of grave consequences. We still have an opportunity to fight for all humanity and all life on Earth to avert the worst of the disaster as it is still technically and economically possible.

— Bill Kucha, founder of 350 Oregon Central Coast

Sometimes being a journalist and fiction writer puts me in a compelling world of everyone else’s narratives and predicaments. Small towns, flyover states, even countries like Mexico and Vietnam where the average Western reader holds some bizarre beliefs about the places and the people. The universal truths, though, abound, especially in small towns. I have a deep well of respect for people I just meet but get to know deftly, and this idea that small towns have small town thinkers is balderdash.

These people I meet on my journey keep me going on, even though I know we are cooked as a society (planet), as well as all modern cultures, because of the convalescing power of 7.8 billion people on earth ravaging, pillaging and trashing the planet in a race for more, more, more incubated in and encouraged by the insanity of religions and economic systems that have cemented the me-myself-and-I egocentricity into each generation, here and now and into those yet born.

I’m in Otis, Oregon, a spit of a town near Lincoln City in the county of the same name, along the Central Coast of Oregon, a most gorgeous and biodynamic place. So breathtaking that these towns of Newport, Depoe Bay, Yachats and Lincoln City are magnets for those dreaded invasives called California Erectus.

Last week (Jan. 14-19) I ended up at a nighttime lecture series at a small community college, Oregon Coast CC, for a lecture by two divergent characters, Bill Kucha, an artist and environmental activist strumming his folk guitar and slide-projecting some of his canvas art, and then first with Evan Hayduk, restoration specialist with the Midcoast Watersheds Council.

Hayduk had his Power Point all warmed up to tell the 50-plus attendees the challenges to this central coast with inundation from melting waters caused by global warming. This lecture was wonky and science driven, a good way to contrast a science team’s work through the auspices of a non-profit environmental group, and the work of the artist, Bill, who had been a teacher at the small community college since 1976.

See the source image

The entire suite of issues surrounding the impacts of climate change/warming are interesting for many of us who like to drill down into ecosystems challenges/forces/impacts generated by humans as we utilize some heady (and indigenous people’s) systems thinking approaches to figuring just how quickly and messily the impending distruptions to civilization and natural systems will face us down.

Tidal wetlands were part of the main course in this scientific evening, and Hayduk and his small team have looked at the sea level rise (SLR) predictions as they will play out in some of Oregon’s 23 central coast estuaries. These are unique ecosystems that provide so much for humanity, to include the beauty of the varied and strangely adapted flora and fauna, but also the water filtering and tidal surge buffering benefits for all living things.

DriftCr_2013_Mar_29_10719.jpg

Evan made it clear early on that two-thirds of shrub and forested marshes have been lost due to human development – farms, homes, roads, industries and logging. The fight – if it is even a legit tussle – is to work on what will happen to the tidal Sitka spruce and forested swamps over the course of 150 years, where the projected (very conservative) sea level rise will be eleven and a half feet (11.5 feet) by 2060 (why the climate scientists always feed us conservative projections I still do not fathom).

These swamps in the estuary life zone are vital to the nursery environment of protected waterways for Chinook, chum, and Coho salmon as well as for sole, anchovy and shellfish when they are vulnerable small fry. Imagine, plowing-over and diking-away these truly amazing ecosystems that are positive carbon sinks, help reduce flooding from storm surges, and provide filtered water from creeks and rivers coming to the sea from higher up and deep in the Oregon Central coast highlands and mountains.

The crowd was compliant and attentive, and again, after more than 40 years in the trenches around conservation-environmental activism and all the other aspects of my life galvanized to social justice, restorative justice, poverty, policing, education and imperialism, I get a déjà vu from the same good people and well-intended projects mired in the cesspool that is corporate control of all ecosystems, all urban and rural planning opportunities, and all of our citizen rights to health, happiness, and safety.

Preaching to the choir is one term people use, and this night it was the choir that was hopeful that some good and dramatic change might occur through the work of guys like Hayduk and the artistic philosophy of Bill Kucha.

The proposal was clear: strategic planning and working with shutting down the harvesting and clear cutting of forests owned by private entities (40% of Oregon forests are held privately). Evan repeated that 35 percent of Oregon’s carbon emissions come about because of the poor forest practices of the state’s mostly evergreen woods.

Carbon released into the atmosphere, and its relationship to melting ice and larger ocean waves and more turgid, unpredictable weather systems is rock hard in the evidentiary trail, even given how ignorant politicians are around the entire climate change issue. It seems baby steps are for this existential crisis, however, here on the Oregon Coast, the Oregon State marine sciences wonks have been studying the Newport line, a geographic pathway from Newport out into the ocean, now going on sixty years. The work is a concerted study of ocean acidification, dead zones (oxygen-free sections of the ocean bottom), parasitic and deadly algae blooms and the amount of non-point pollution coming off roads, industries, clear cuts and agriculture. From an article written Feb. 2018, the reporter is detailing the great work and early beginnings of this Newport Line:

The existence of the Newport Line was critical in bringing to the region the most sophisticated, extensive system of ocean monitoring ever developed. In 2014, the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI), a massive federally funded ocean monitoring program, followed the Newport Line to deploy a section of the Endurance Array, a network of moored buoys, cables and gliders that collects colossal amounts of data.

OOI monitoring data have documented the increasing occurrence and severity of bottom hypoxia (low oxygen) along the Oregon coast in the summertime. Other measurements are now contributing to our understanding of ocean acidification, a result of increasing carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere. Newport Line data helped scientists to identify the “warm blob” of ocean water that lingered off the Oregon coast from 2014 to 2016, wreaking havoc with oceanic food webs.

As oceanographer Angel White jokes, “What do they say about time series? Never start one and never end one.” Some climate phenomena cycle on the scale of decades, so even the Newport Line’s 56-year record might only capture a single cycle.

Regular monitoring is generally regarded as the job of government, not universities, so many local oceanographers feel that NOAA and other agencies should foot most of the bill. White and other scientists who rely on Newport Line data recently submitted a letter to potential funding agencies encouraging continued support. The Newport Line has served as a foundation for studying the impacts of climate variability and ecosystem response … the length and consistency of the Newport time series provide a powerful context for studying ecosystem impacts from unpredictable changes of the ocean and climate variability, they wrote.

I used to teach hundreds of students a year for decades as a community, university and alternative school teacher, and my English classes were always steeped in the issues of the day, and those that are affecting youth when they turn middle aged and old. The planet was always a big part of the courses, and like it or not, so was history and politics. The number of students coming to my college classes who were shocked by the knowledge base of an English prof around technology, science, and engineering was always high. Many students learned for the first time not just what the voices of the people’s history of the United States are (Howard Zinn, Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz) but also the voices of Rachel Carson, John Lilly, Lois Gibbs, Tim DeChristopher, Winona LaDuke, et al.

Clearly, PK12 is failing these youth, and their lack of understanding of basic systems – natural, ecological, geophysical, etc. – is not just sad but dangerous. That’s not to say political insipid’s like Reagan or Sen. Inhofe and the heads of Shell, Exxon and PB are any better off intellectually.

At this OCCC lecture (the 32nd in a run of presentations), an on-going series since 1993 called the Williams Lecture series after former professor at OSU and OCCC and a noted revisionist historian, William Appleman Williams, Bill Kucha let the audience know that the Newport City Council, under the auspices of Mayor Sandra Roumagoux, just signed on Nov. 5, 2018 a “proclamation recognizing climate change awareness.”

We shifted to some folk songs and environmental ecosophy by Bill, who was citing Paul Hawken’s latest book, DrawdownThe Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming.

Bill also walked the audience through the current battle to reshape the narrative on climate catastrophe and paradigm shift away from fossil non-renewable energy. He talked deeply about Oregon’s “100 by 50” proposal of having the state on 100 % renewable energy by 2050. He talked about Our Children’s Trust, groups of youth around the country (but started in Eugene) taking the on the US government by going to federal court to sue them for the irreparable damage done to their futures by their policies at the behest of the fossil fuel giants.

There was talk about the Buddhist philosophy around not arousing “hungry ghosts” and “learning how to become awake” in this big time of  change and one where we all are seeing things being destroyed, which for Bill gives us the purpose now of “being a bridge for change. . . . We are the first generation to face climate change and the last one that can fix it.”

There were moments where Bill got choked up, looking at the ways young people might be able to plug into this crisis moment. He talked a lot about finding joy in the world.

Interestingly, the Capitalist world, especially in predatory consumeristic capitalism, the “hungry ghosts” are corporations using propaganda, war on nations, and violence turned on their own people and land to accomplish the ungodly desire of wealth accumulation and unending resource exploitation at any cost.

I might have justified my 60-mile round trip in my 19-year-old three-cylinder Chevy Metro to get to the talk as a necessary journey of enlightenment, both mine and any readers reading this piece, but in reality, I am a male of white privilege, with a vehicle and a place to call home in a country that has invaded other countries and supports the largest war machine ever seen by humankind with millions of deaths since 1945 by direct and indirect soft warfare or direct overt wars. I faced gale force winds and monsoon downpours to get there, but no rain of terror by US-made bombers or drones dropping Hell-fires missiles around me.

There is a luxury embedded in talking about  a New Green Deal, carbon taxing and decrying regular poor people for flying in jets to see loved ones or go to Disneyland, when one is living in a country that sells trillions a year in war equipment, bullets and bombs in the name of “never negotiating our lifestyle and exceptionist mentality to anyone or anything.”

I remember giving food offerings to the hungry ghosts at Buddhist monasteries in Vietnam, called Vu Lan day or month. Don’t upset those departed, these living spirits, or else bad luck befalls you, that’s what the scientists from Hanoi joked about, but sort of believed, too.

Hungry ghost” is one of the six modes of existence (Six Realms). Hungry ghosts are pitiable creatures with huge, empty stomachs. They have pinhole mouths, and their necks are so thin they cannot swallow, so they remain hungry. Beings are reborn as hungry ghosts because of their greed, envy and jealousy. Hungry ghosts are also associated with addiction, obsession, and compulsion.

Guys like Bill have a deep line of hope and look toward times past when many saw the world thousands of years ago as centered around a gift economy, one where commodities were not utilized in trade or daily work was not slave wage labor.

He sees this time of the Anthropocene as hope rising, and he thinks today we have a new face of humanity emerging, one that is “not egocentric, is willing to make contact with nature, and is willing to pray and ask for forgiveness.”

The audience listened to his songs, and looked at his haunting images. What the audience left with from both Evan and Bill is the bearing witness of all these calamities calls for action; and Bill emphasized the very idea of this great turning occurring now – a time unfolding where we are learning what it means to be human and how to ask for forgiveness by being healing, caring and heartfelt.

This shift of consciousness around sustainability is featured in Joanna Macy’s film, The Great Turning.  Here is the basic expression Bill was all jazzed up about at the lecture:

In the Agricultural Revolution of ten thousand years ago, the domestication of plants and animals led to a radical shift in the way people lived. In the Industrial Revolution that began just a few hundred years ago, a similar dramatic transition took place. These weren’t just changes in the small details of people’s lives. The whole basis of society was transformed, including people’s relationship with one another and with Earth.

Right now a shift of comparable scope and magnitude is occurring. It’s been called the Ecological Revolution, the Sustainability Revolution, even the Necessary Revolution. We call it the Great Turning and see it as the essential adventure of our time. It involves the transition from a doomed economy of industrial growth to a life-sustaining society committed to the recovery of our world. This transition is already well under way.  [source]

Hope is an interesting thing, and I align myself mostly with the Beyond Hope under girder in Derrick Jensen’s essay of the same title:

Frankly, I don’t have much hope. But I think that’s a good thing. Hope is what keeps us chained to the system, the conglomerate of people and ideas and ideals that is causing the destruction of the Earth.

To start, there is the false hope that suddenly somehow the system may inexplicably change. Or technology will save us. Or the Great Mother. Or beings from Alpha Centauri. Or Jesus Christ. Or Santa Claus. All of these false hopes lead to inaction, or at least to ineffectiveness. One reason my mother stayed with my abusive father was that there were no battered women’s shelters in the ’50s and ’60s, but another was her false hope that he would change. False hopes bind us to unlivable situations, and blind us to real possibilities.

Does anyone really believe that Weyerhaeuser is going to stop deforesting because we ask nicely? Does anyone really believe that Monsanto will stop Monsantoing because we ask nicely? If only we get a Democrat in the White House, things will be okay. If only we pass this or that piece of legislation, things will be okay. If only we defeat this or that piece of legislation, things will be okay. Nonsense. Things will not be okay. They are already not okay, and they’re getting worse. Rapidly.

My point of going to the lecture and reporting on it and discussing it deeply is not to rain on anyone’s parade, especially those who have the gumption to study the problem and face the challenges of tackling it personally, collectively, politically, economically and spiritually.

photo of deforestation

But the forces of evil and the force of big energy are grotesque and powerful. Just here on the coast, in Coos Bay, the proposed Canadian fracked gas pipeline terminal at Jordan Cove coming from Canada, Wyoming, Colorado and other states to bring in fracked gas. Over 400 streams and creeks will be crossed, and in Oregon, 230 miles of clear-cut forests (two football fields wide) will take the pipeline which will have 70 percent fracked gas from Canada and 30 percent from Rocky Mountain states from Malin in the southwest part of the state to Coos Bay on the Oregon coast.

The American and capitalist calculus– jobs over safety, income over community health, paychecks over the rights of nature – is a tough formula to beat in a society that is addicted to oil and expects oil prices to be low (compared to Turkey and Eritrea at $10 a gallon!).

What is the Jordan Cove LNG Project?

  • 230 miles, 36 in diameter, Liquefied Natural Gas pipeline
  • Jordan Cove Project is owned by Veresen, a Canadian Company
  • Using all Russian Steel to construct the pipeline
  • Will run through 400 streams and waterways including underneath the Klamath River, Rogue River, and Coos Bay
  • First fracked Gas Export Terminal on the west coast-Located at Coos Bay, Oregon
  • 4 billion dollar project so it’s twice the size of the DAPL (Dakota Access Pipeline)
  • All of the natural gas being exported will be sold to companies in Asia, Japan already having an agreement with Jordan Cove

Why should we care?

  • Pipeline would run through traditional tribal lands and burial sites of the Yurok, Hoopa, Karuk, Modoc and Klamath Tribes of Northern California and Southern Oregon
  • “We live on 10,000-year-old ancestral land along the Trinity River, which is a tributary of the Klamath River. What effects the Klamath affects us.” -Thomas Joseph- Hoopa
  • 80 miles of old growth forest will have to be clear cut for the pipeline
  • 8 of those acres are home to endangered spotted owls
  • 300 landowners will have the pipeline running through their property with the use of eminent domain
  • Pipeline comes as close as 200 ft from the front door of some of these residents
  • A “leak” with a LNG pipeline would be an explosion with a 600 ft blast radius
  • on both sides of the pipeline has to be cleared to ensure that a wildfire won’t heat up the pipe
  • Several miles of the pipeline will run through recent wildfire areas
  • It is estimated that 2 tankers per week would be needed to maintain the LNG in the pipeline
  • Tankers would be crossing frequent migration areas of up to 7 species of endangered whales, including the Grey Whale in their route to and from Japan
  • This will spike the level of ship strikes in the whale population     [ source]

For Bill and his 350.org Oregon and for Evan who is looking at the effects of sea level rise coming into estuaries, the thought of that methane coming through Oregon is not a happy one. Then, add to that the transfer of that fracked energy into carbon pollution, plus the amount of electricity needed to bring the fracked gas down to minus-260 degrees (Jordan Cove would by the largest user of electricity in Oregon), and we have the quintessential dilemma facing a capitalist world of transnational money, transnational consolidated power in the hands of the .01 percent versus the loss of wildlands, forests, species and even individual land owners’ property.

The Lakota Sioux prophecy states there will be a big black snake (pipeline) that will come to the land and bring destruction to the people and the earth. That big black snake for Oregon is the Jordan Cove pipeline.

Our power comes from our ancestors standing behind us, holding us up to have the strength to face anything. As tribal people, we know that possession of the earth is not an actual thing, so we are using our power to protect the earth and water from the abuse and destruction of greedy corporations. Our stewardship of the earth has been passed down to us from thousands of generations that have done the same.

My little Inupiaq heart is both constricted and expanded for my brothers and sisters at Standing Rock. And I can feel in my bones that the voice of our people will be heard, and every American will join us in protecting the earth for generations to come, by defeating corporate greed and killing the black snake before it ever takes a breath.

—   Tara Dowd, an enrolled Inupiaq Eskimo, was born into poverty and now owns a diversity consulting business. She is an advocate for systemic equity and sees justice as a force that makes communities better.  [ Inlander]

 

Earth Day: Conflict Over The Future Of The Planet

Photograph from climate march in Washington, DC, Union of Concerned Scientists.

On this Earth Day, it is difficult to look at the state of the planet and the current political leadership and see much hope. In “Junk Planet” Robert Burrowes writes a comprehensive description of the degradation of the atmosphere, oceans, waterways, groundwater, and soil as well as the modern pollution of antibiotic waste, genetic engineering, nanowaste, space junk, military waste and nuclear, a description of a planet degraded by pollution impacting our bodies and health as well as the planet’s future.

Burrowes includes another form of waste, junk information, that denies reality; e.g., climate change, the dangers of extreme energy extraction and food polluted by genetic engineering, pesticides, and depleted soils. This false reporting results in policies that create a risk of ecosystem collapse.

Political and economic elites want people to believe these problems do not exist. Those in power seek to protect profits from dirty energy rather than transition to 100 percent clean energy. They seek to protect agribusiness food, pesticides, and genetically modified foods rather than transform food to organic, locally grown foods using regenerative agriculture. They deny the reality of environmental racism rather than correct decades of racism and provide reparations. They seek to put profits ahead of the health and necessities of people as well as ahead of protecting and restoring the planet.

Despite this, a growing portion of the public understands these realities and is taking action to challenge the system. People know, for example, as activist Steven Norris writes, that they should be concerned about the impact of carbon infrastructure on their communities and the planet.

Last week, David Buckel, a nationally known advocate for gay rights and the environment, died in a self-immolation suicide as a wake-up call to save the planet. He wrote in a note:

Pollution ravages our planet, oozing inhabitability via air, soil, water and weather. Most humans on the planet now breathe air made unhealthy by fossil fuels, and many die early deaths as a result – my early death by fossil fuel reflects what we are doing to ourselves.

The undertow being created by organized resistance is growing, and so is the push back against it. In order for this conflict to be resolved, the conflict must be heightened as is occurring now.

Tree-Sit Protest Of Mountain Valley Pipeline from West Virginia Metro News.

People Power Escalates

As we write this, tree-sits are growing in West Virginia where people are putting their bodies on the line to prevent the destruction of trees and habitat to build the Mountain Valley pipeline for fracked gas. In Virginia, Red Terry started a tree-sit on Easter weekend to protect her land from destruction. She remains, despite the company with law enforcement support, denying her food and water — something illegal against prisoners or during war. As trees are felled she remains, as do protesters in Pennsylvania, who are also doing tree-sits. Their stubborn courageous should encourage each of us.

In Louisiana, a water protector locked herself into a cement-filled barrel placed in the trench of a horizontal directional drill to block construction of the Bayou Bridge Pipeline. Eleanor Goldfield reports this is part of the Battle of the Bayou, a coalition of groups and individuals standing against the destruction of a fragile environment, facing arrest and creating a future together.

In Maryland, people blocked construction then escalated to a tractor blockade to prevent the construction of a compressor station that will bring fracked gas from the Mid-Atlantic to the Dominion export terminal in southern Maryland. People who fought the export terminal for years are now joining with neighboring counties fighting gas infrastructure and mounting a campaign against the Maryland Department of the Environment as Governor Hogan pushes $100 million in gas infrastructure.

People are taking protests to corporate offices as a busload of Lancaster, PA people did when they brought a 12 foot stretch of pipeline to a meeting room, singing songs and chanting, asking “How does it feel to be invaded?” In Bellevue Washington, protesters constructed a small longhouse blocking the main entrance to the corporate headquarters of an energy company.

California’s Governor Jerry Brown was protested when he came to speak at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. Hundreds of people  protested Governor Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania over his pro-fracking policies. More politicians will be held accountable in this election year by angry constituents.

The industry recognizes that pipeline protestors are having an impact. Canada is having a hard time moving tar sands and fracked gas because protests are stopping pipeline investment. Oil companies are successfully being pressured to examine the risks to the environment and human rights from their actions. Washington activists defeated the largest oil-train terminal in the nation.

Protests are successfully resulting in cities divesting from banks who fund fossil fuel projects. Europe’s largest bank, HSBC just announced it will no longer fund oil or gas projects in the Arctic, tar sands projects, or most coal projects. Corporations realize they are investing in stranded assets that may not pay off and they may be held legally accountable for causing climate change.

Exxon Knew protest. Photo by Johnny Silvercloud.

Litigation Raises Risks

Corporations and the federal government are facing lawsuits from individuals, organizations and state and local governments over climate change and environmental degradation. Protesters are using the courts to underscore the urgent necessity for action by using a climate necessity defense.  Courts are beginning to accept it, but protesters willingly understand they risk incarceration.

Exxon Mobil is facing a raft of litigation arguing the company was aware of climate risks but continued to mislead the public and to pollute. State and local governments are seeking damages and calling for a federal criminal investigation. Litigation highlights the science of climate change and demonstrates how oil giants made immense profits while billions of dollars of cost from climate change; e.g., immense storms and sea level rise, are borne by individuals and governments. Most suits were brought by coastal communities but recently Colorado communities are suing oil corporations over climate change-caused droughts and fires.

ExxonMobil tried to stop state investigations in Massachusetts, New York, and Texas over misleading investors for years about climate change risks. The judge issued a sharp rebuke with prejudice preventing an appeal and allowing the investigations to continue. Oil companies are no doubt behind new legislation in states to give severe penalties to people protesting “critical infrastructure”.

Future generations from Our Children’s Trust have brought eight suits against the federal government over the destruction of the environment claiming a public trust over the atmosphere. A suit filed by 21 youth in Washington has overcome government efforts to dismiss the case and will be going to trial after both the trial court and Ninth Circuit rejected the government.

Environmental racism is also being challenged. Recently a court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency violated the Civil Rights Act for decades of inaction over complaints filed by residents of Flint, MI. Hundreds of complaints about environmental racism have been made to the EPA. An ultimate case of racism is coming up in the Supreme Court when it considers whether the United States must abide by treaties made with Indigenous Peoples. The long history of racism from the founding of the US by colonizing land inhabited by millions, followed by ethnic cleansing of the Indigenous who lived there, is on trial. If treaties are law, as they should be, this will empower Indigenous People more.

Climate Our Future from People’s Climate March by Reuters.

Change Is Being Created, Transformation Is Coming

The undertow of protest is having an impact. Corporations fear they will be held accountable for the damage they have done. Governments and elected officials are aware the people are angry and their careers can end with the new political culture created by people power.

The beginning of change always begins with education and changing ourselves. While we know systemic change is necessary, people are also educating themselves about their own own lifestyles. Thirty-six-year-old Daniel Webb was conscious of the dangers of plastic and decided to keep all of his plastic for a year gathering 4,490 items, 93% were single-use plastic, and just 8 were biodegradable. He made a mural of his plastic to educate others.

The US uses 500 million plastic straws every day. Whenever we order a drink, we request no straws and share this fact. This consciousness has permeated the culture, now many restaurants only bring straws when asked, and people are organizing “Don’t Suck”  and “Be Straw Free” campaigns to eliminate plastic straws.

More people spend their money consciously using it to buy organic and local, eating less meat and boycotting factory farm foods. We have more power with our dollar than with our vote in a manipulated “democracy” disguised as an oligarchy.

People are also making changes at the community level. Edmonston, a working-class town with a median income of $19,000 in Maryland, took small steps to going green. In the early 2000s to ameliorate stormwater flooding, they gradually remade their town into a green town, empty lots turned into community gardens and rain barrels were added. Now they have permeable pavement, solar panels, fruit trees for food and native plant landscapes with leaves collected by the city and composted.

In Brooklyn, people began reclaiming land with a vacant lot turned into a nearly 2-acre community space with garden beds, an outdoor movie screening area, a pumpkin patch, and an educational production and research farm. They then got data on vacant lots in the city and put bi-lingual signs on them that said: “This land is your land” and told people how to get control of the area, linking them to a website to help. Since 2011, communities have transformed over 200 sites. Municipalization, or fearless cities, may be a key for creating change toward socializing energy into a public service resulting in transformative cities. These changes are not only about the environment and climate justice but are also about economic, racial and social justice.

Despite the government continuing to invest in dirty energy, clean energy is growing.  Wind farming is creating jobs in red states like Texas. The Solar Foundation mapped solar jobs by congressional district as solar is the fastest growing source of new energy. Research has been developed on a state-by-state basis to make the United States 100% renewable by 2050. With a national mobilization it could happen more quickly.

There are many challenges at the national level with corrupt federal agencies tied to polluting industries, but people pressure is still having an impact. The Federal Energy Regulatory System (FERC) which has been in bed with the oil, gas, and nuclear industries since its founding, indeed it is funded by those industries, has been the focus of a more than four-year pressure campaign by Beyond Extreme Energy. This June 23-25 they will be holding a Crack the FERC protest campaign to escalate pressure. The protest coincides with the Poor People’s Campaign as addressing the  environmental crisis is linked to economic inequality, racism, and other issues.

The environmental crisis and the mishandling of climate change are issues that are going to make the 2020s a decade of transformational change. In order for people to create transformative changes, we need a well-educated activist community.

The Popular Resistance School will begin on May 1 and will be an eight-week course on how movements grow, build power and succeed as well as examine the role you can play in the movement. Sign up to be part of this school so you can participate in small group discussions about how to build a powerful, transformational movement.