THE TIMES THEY ARE A-CHANGING

August 30, 2015

Click here for look at the current migratory season…for humans. Millions running away from failed states, failed revolutions, failed crops…all being intensified by climate change…with much more and much worse to come.

Here are Dylan’s lyrics now more than half a century old, but even more relevant:
“Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who that it’s namin’
For the loser now will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside and it is ragin’
It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’”

Could this be the right national anthem for Bangladesh, the first really big country that will fall below the sea, making Tonga and Vanuatu insignificant by comparison.
Just this week NASA predicted the rate of sea level rise will be much faster than previously predicted. Of course, if there’s a Republican President with HIS Republican Congress (Sorry, Carly, you don’t have a chance) in 2017 NASA will no longer have money or leeway to research such mythical creatures as climate change and the U.S. will sink even further into ignorant denial as a political entity. If Florida can ban public employees from saying “climate change,” it could surely work even better at the federal level. Just think, former Senator Cruz as Secretary of the Interior. He could move office into the executive office building of Exxon down in his home state of mind of Texas.

Are we humans really genetically incapable of long-term co-operative effort?

SMART, LUCKY OR BLINDLY ARROGANT?

August 9, 2015

Donald Trump aside, how would you characterize humans?
Here are some words from Kenneth Rexroth…written nearly fifty years ago. His concerns then are even more relevant today.
REXROTH ON ENVIRONMENT, FROM IN THE SIERRA
“The rapidity with which we are creating an environment in which the human species as we know it can no longer thrive is astonishing. We have passed, in California, a critical point. The resilience of the environment is exhausted, it can no longer recuperate from large-scale destruction is less than many centuries.
“The forces that stand to profit from destruction now know this and they have learned to move quickly, on the largest possible scale, and if it can be managed, with an elaborate public relat5ions camouflage which disguises them as ‘conservationists.’
“We have reached the tipover point. The man-made environment is so vast that nature survives only in small islands, threatened constantly by biological changes from outside even under ideal conditions of protection…
“Certainly the urban centers of the past, far less artificial, have never replenished themselves except by immigration from the countryside.”
“The sudden popularity of ecology is not a craze. Is it the response to the deadly crisis caused by a craze called the profit system. Man’s end is in sight. One thing ecology has always taught is that the relationship of living things to each other and their environment are governed by critical points, where catastrophe occurs with great suddenness.”
“For the last 200 years we have seen the growth of an economic and social system based fundamentally on the extractive industries and with a built-in dynamism that forces it into ever-increasing production at all costs. The competitive system has universalized a morality based on covetousness…
“We have just gone through a long boom period with ever-accumulating surp0luses; yet the overall production has never passed 80 percent of capacity. The source of profit I no longer, as it as n Marx’s day, labor power. Every year we need fewer people to prodce more…
“…Meanwhile, outside the metropoles, starvation, disorder, breakdown sweep over the southern three-quarters of the globe…Today, an extractive, accumulative society more than just threatens—makes certain—the extinction of the human species with a comparatively short time.
“The carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere can no longer be kept in balance over the equatroial regioins. A dense fog of carcinogens blankets whole areas…. The changes we are doing to our environment are changing it far more drastically than the changes necessary to account for the extinction of the great reptiles a6t the end of the Jurassic Age and incomparably more quickly…”
The extractive industries must be reduced to a minimum. The use of fossil fuels must be brought to a complete stop; coal, oil and gas should be consumed totally with nothing but completely inert residues at the sites and [energy] sent out over wires. Atomic plants should be stopped until it can be determined how to destroy the wastes…
“Along with this would have to go a complete moral conversion from the acquisitive, competitive, convetous ‘virtues’ of present society to a whole new scale of cooperative mutual aid simplicity value system not unlike the South Sea Islanders of romance. The population growth must not just be stopped, but reversed. The optimum is probably about one billion people to the planet.”
We now number over 7 billion, and our planet is hotter every year. Oh yum.

CLIMATE CHANGES

August 2, 2015

The weatherly climate is changing, for sure. How about the political climate?
While the pentagon worries that climate change is fueling wars and political instability (note the 150-plus degree days they’re having in the Mideast), there are those with a vested interest in plundering the planet for profit who refuse to see a problem. Peabody Coal says greenhouse gases are good for you (even methane?).

At least some informed folks are now saying right out loud: we have to destroy the current energy business if we are to stop the juggernaut of climate change and extinctions. Is the shifting climate just Gaia’s way of shedding a dangerous species…that being us humans?

At least one tiny nation finds their energy blowin’ in the wind. They’ve come a long way since Hamlet’s days. We Yanks would never deign to copy the Danes though. Frack, baby, frack!

DID CECIL DIE IN VAIN? PERHAPS NOT…

July 30, 2015

Update, July 31: Sen. Bob Menendez (d-NJ) wants to ban trophy hunting. Fat chance, Bob. This is a Republican Congress, but whatta an idea…Furthermore: there are now calls for the good dentist to be extradited to Zimbabwe. The hunter becomes the hunted, stay tuned

Teddy Roosevelt, Ernest Hemingway and a dentist from Minnesota. Some of the infamous trophy hunters of the past 150 years. But perhaps that dentist did something that will end up helping wildlife survive in spite of arrogant, ignorant, rapacious humans. Perhaps…

Could Cecil’S death lead to end of trophy hunting, pay your money kill your trophy animal? It’s big business for some African governments. How about the world chip in and pay them so much for every week an animal is NOT killed?

Here’s one look at this case.

And here’s a second. Poor dentist had to shut his practice. I predict he will move and assume a new name. Pity any family he has. They will be outcast for a long time unless they hide their former identities.

Sometimes the cluelessness of white males astounds even me, and I’m one of those myself. Can you imagine any woman anywhere hunting a lion with bow and arrow? This guy wasn’t even a biochemically deranged twenty-year old. He was a “mature male” to coin a phrase that seems highly inappropriate in this case.

This will put even closer scrutiny on so-called conservation hunting.
More on such licensed trophy hunting.
If the U.S. made it illegal to import or possess such trophies most of these white male hunters would not feel so inclined to throw their big money after trophy hunts. We’ve already made it illegal to import the feathers of endangered birds and other similar restrictions. Why do we allow men to kill and then import the head of a lion?
Hunting is just one of the human activities that are making more and more species disappear in this sixth great extinction.

DENTIST 1, LION 0

July 29, 2015

Now the recriminations begin on the Minnesota dentist who felt entitled to slaughter a particular lion in Africa. Here’s one piece on how can dentists afford $50,000 hunting trips?

The local hunter who helped the dentist has been arrested now in his homeland, Zimbabwe. The dentist? he;s walkin’ tall, talkin’ humble. Will he put the stuffed lion’s head next to his other trophies? Biggest molar he ever pulled, et al.? Guns don’t kill lions, people do.

TO KILL A LION

July 28, 2015

I can’t help it but I imagine the American who killed a well-known male lion in Africa would instantly quote Biblical passages purporting to justify all of men’s transgression against other creatures on Earth. “Dominion,” that’s the word, right?

Well, it’s a big victory for the NRA because this killing was legal and not even on U.S. soil. I will note it took a gun, couldn’t finish off the lion with just a bow and arrow. So much for the claims that big creatures (like movie-goers) could be slaughtered even if there were gun control in the U.S. Swords are used in China for mass attacks and they are almost never as deadly as gun attacks have been and continue to be.

Note the gunman in the Louisiana theater killed two women, and has a long personal history of hating feminism and uppity women. Calls are being made for it to be clearly labelled a hate crime.

RIGHT WING FURY

June 26, 2015

We are seeing sterling manifestations of the dying of an out-dated but once-dominant belief system in the U.S. Just this week the supposedly conservative U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in favor of federally subsidized health care for some Americans and made same sex marriage legal across the land. This is especially unpopular among the loud crowd in the Old Confederacy and among the bloviators who trade in prejudice against any minority except white males.

As my by-passed generation (the only two Boomer presidents were Clinton and Bush 2) passes from the scene, the younger and more open-minded generations will see the continued decrease in Christian fundamentalism and all the narrow-minded, my way or else, beliefs.

As we are seeing all across the Middle East, the old violent patriarchal belief systems are under siege by modern life, technology, women’s education, birth control, global corporations and all the other trends (good and bad) that are threatening to homogenize the planet’s human population. Any Saudi sheik has got to be threatened by women wanting to drive a car, children sexting one another on cell phones, Bollywood films, religious or sexual tolerance, youtube, Facebook, and all the other things that the Western world spreads across the surface of the Earth. In East Africa the old order is vehemently opposed to gay freedom and its confrontation with the traditional views of “manhood.”

You cannot maintain fundamentalist superstitions in the face of science, technology and consumer pleasure. Thus fundamentalism has always feared science, technology, non-religious thought and freedom for women because most old-fashioned religions were based on a male god, male dominance and violence toward non-believers. Whenever these fundamentalist views are opposed and losing ground they become more and more violent. The Catholic Church became its most hideously cruel AFTER the Reformation when that church tried to wipe out Protestantism. The current pope would have been summarily tortured and burned a mere 500 years ago.
So here in the U.S, the Old Confederacy and its Biblical fundamentalism are losing sway and the adherents are becoming ever more agitated and desperate. Expect even more violence against groups not seen as “real Americans.” Our hopelessly gerrymandered and boluxed electoral system that gives Mississippi as many Senators as California will not deal with gun violence in any realistic way. Only if and when corporate profits are threatened will the U.S. be politically able to deal with domestic gun violence.

There were Newton’s dead elementary schoolers, college kids slaughtered at Virginia Tech, a high school massacre at Columbine, bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building, a Naval facility attacked in D.C., a Congresswoman shot in Arizona, attacks on churches in South Carolina and Wisconsin. There are deep hatreds and millions of guns loose across our land, a land with a woeful mental health system, little control of automatic weapons that can fire dozens of bullets in a short time and no public awareness that our real enemies are not just in the Middle East, they are the right-wing fanatic next door. After the South Carolina tragedy we learn the 21-year-old shooter had been talking of his goals, a race war, killing the enemy. Yet nobody did anything. The NSA has all your email information but not a single bureaucrat is in charge of tracking tomorrow’s mass killers today. Nobody viewed the killer’s web postings until after the attack. The profile of these mostly young, isolate, violent, gun-toting white males is not a mystery. Still, we do nothing but sell them guns. I weep for the ineptness of our government and its enemies who want freedom for guns but not the freedom of the victims to live, nor the freedom of the rest of us non-violent Americans to live without fear.
So mass murders will continue to be a stunning hallmark of modern American culture as that thin fringe of panicked (mostly) white males take the only easy path to power they feel to be their right: mass violence against those who refuse to heal to the old ways, the old beliefs, the racist, misogynistic, patriarchal view of the world that would have been standard doctrine on the eve of the American Civil War. Change is slow and the disappearance of publicly honored Confederate flags will only be a small token gesture, the hatred and panic will live on in the minds and prejudices of the white males who can no longer expect to be in charge just by virtue of their genetics. Thus must the American Dream confront the American Nightmare.
What is needed is the ability to call national referenda to settle issues Congress cannot face i8n dayight.

HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM

May 27, 2015

I have long maintained that the fossil fuel industry will continue to support political climate change deniers in public office until some of the industry’s giants have to move their headquarters out of what was once Houston. That day may be far closer than I ever imagined. How can even arrogant oil companies think they are safe in flat, coastal cities?
Greed demands that oil companies ignore climate change but does it also require they actually pretend it’s not real? They would be just as welcome in Cheyenne, and further from flooding.
Click here to read about the excess of water in Houston, Texas.
And now there’s a rational look at why flooding is so bad in Texas: sprawl without concern for rational planning and zoning. One more example of how economic markets freed of rational regulation run amuck and create disasters, real or financial. And we will all get to help pay for Texas to rebuild in all those places that should be left to cattails and marsh wrens. How many Texas Congressional members have voted against FEMA funding and other federal aid projects? Now they will be there with their hands out, of course, as blue states play more taxes per capita and we all continue to subsidize the oil, cotton and cattle industries beyond all reason.
I’m going to be sick now…

BIRDS ARE SOBER, HONEST, HARD-WORKING, STRAIGHTFORWARD…

April 3, 2015

Bird Politics
Humans have much to learn from our feathered neighbors.

IGNORING AND IGNORANCE

February 9, 2015

You can ignore and you can be willfully ignorant. Right now too many political leaders and moneyed influencers are actively both. It is now exactly half a century since the U. S. Congress was first earned about the danger of increasing CO2 levels in the atmosphere of our only planet.

That’s right, it’s exactly fifty years since the President of the U. S. told Congress that science was showing a dangerous increase in CO2 and it was being caused by us…homo so-called sapiens. You can click here for a reprise of that widely ignored environmental warning.
As a nation we have ignored it and remained willfully ignorant. Far more important to make some more money than worry about life on the planet.

I usually think of Theodore Roosevelt as our one true environmental President,even if he saved wildlife so he could go and out shoot some. He was a staunch defender of federal action on behalf of conservation at a time when it was far less popular than today. Our first Presidential birder. Not welcome in today’s Republican Party, never quoted in a stump speech by a Republican candidate. So who was the President trying to awaken some interest in CO2? LBJ–far more widely known for far-reaching, overdue Civil Rights laws and the disastrous war in Vietnam.

LBJ’s message cited the need to protect the environment for the health of humans and other creatures and preserve natural beauty. Since his time the nation has established a much-hated (by some) EPA and the Endangered Species Act…but none of the measures to salvage what we can of planet’s biosphere ever go unchallenged. Many other nations do far less than the U.S. and seem to care far less. But time is running out. One Congressman posted comments saying that the worst natural disasters on earth last year were all in the U.S. and related to climate change. It may be true that we cannot afford to go forward the we’ve been going.


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