Concerto for blunt instrument

An irregular heartbeat from d.o. to you. Not like a daily kos, more like a sometime sloth. Fast relief from the symptoms of blogarrhea and predicated on the understanding that the world is not a stage for our actions, rather it is a living organism upon which we depend for our existence.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Distractionation

I was going to begin this by describing a family in a cafe on Martha's Vineyard all seated together around a table, each concentrating on their own hand held device but then i recalled the man standing on a bluff at the Cape Cod National Seashore on a perfectly beautiful day under intense blue sky above the vast Atlantic reflecting the sky and the ever returning waves meeting The Great Beach that went for miles in either direction amidst the sound of the surf and the sea birds as he checked his messages or texted some far away acquaintance but that changed when I remembered the woman in the car coming up the hill as I drove down in the opposite direction and noticed her fender coming at me across the center line at the same moment I saw her focused on the device in her hand instead of on the road in front of her yet then I just thought of a photo I saw of five or six young teenage girls together on a sidewalk or mall somewhere each one of them staring intently into the device in each of their hands communicating with some other teenager perhaps somewhere else or worse right next to them but that brought to mind something else I can't recall at the moment so I thought I'd mention those people who take a call when you are in the middle of a seemingly private conversation though private conversation may seem a quaint phrase these days and I was still thinking of writing about it when I remembered the guy in the late model sedan in my rear view mirror weaving along behind me when he wasn't tailgating me with his arm out the window wildly gesticulating and himself floundering around in the driver's seat so much I feared he was having a ceasure but he was only having an animated conversation on his device, hopefully not in his other hand, as he drifted completely into the oncoming lane numerous times or nearly off the shoulder in our our own lane and appeared just briefly now and then to recall he was driving a car, driving a car too fast and without much conviction that I became concerned he would kill himself or worse me in the course of his conversation, or a few miles later after he had sped ahead of me using a shortcut, the woman on the old bicycle he must have blown bye at high speed on one side of the road or the other but as I came around the bend and saw her she perhaps never noticed the guy given that she was concentrating on the device in her hand, all very true but not what I was going to say because I apparently was distracted.....sorry.......

Thursday, October 31, 2013

After the End of the World


Predictions about the end of the world have come and gone for millennia and we all know how those turned out. This latest one concerning misreadings of the Mayan calendar got its legs from social networking and the media, but like so many others, when the date on the calendar passed……..nothing. Having said that, it seems way past time we seriously addressed the real end of the world: the Climate Crisis. Going back decades and longer, the world’s leading scientists (and more than a few activists like myself) have been sounding the alarm about humanity being on a collision course with the natural world. Way back in 1992, exactly two decades ago, The World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity  stated: “The earth is finite. Its ability to absorb wastes and destructive effluent is finite. Its ability to provide food and energy is finite. Its ability to provide for growing numbers of people is finite. And we are fast approaching many of the earth’s limits”. Then the Scientists’ Warning went on to say: “No more than one or a few decades remain before the chance to avert the threats we now confront will be lost and the prospects for humanity immeasurably diminished”.  That was two decades ago.
During the intervening years, in every avenue available to us, environmentalists and others have been sounding the alarm. When we launched The Enviro Show on Valley Free Radio in late 2005 we read from the World Scientists’ Warning on our very first show. Just this past summer we read those words again on this, the two decade anniversary of the Warning’s release. These days we have no shortage of warnings concerning the Climate Crisis. Activists like Bill McKibben and the folks at 350.org , Al Gore and even more mainstream groups like Greenpeace or the Sierra Club, as well as a growing student movement may be out in front on this, the most critical issue facing humankind, but governments and industry are not. Do we really need to ask why? In case you missed it, scientifically proven, human-caused climate change is a product of western civilization, industrial development. You probably won’t be hearing that from Bill McKibben or Al Gore, much less cable or network news. You can read about the numbers, about the need to return CO2 levels in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million, down from its current level of 392ppm, or the need to transition to alternative energy and away from fossil fuels, but seldom will you read or hear about how our own industries, how Corporate America, is destroying the biosphere on our planet, how it is diminishing the lives of our children and future generations.
Recently we had wildlife biologist Guy McPherson on the show. His take on the Climate Crisis is even more grim than McKibben’s or The World Scientists’ Warning. McPherson’s position? Game over.  The link takes you to his recent presentation at Greenfield Community College. Rumor has it that he will not be invited back. Why? No one wants to hear about the end of the world. This is not to say that McPherson has all the numbers right, that his analysis is, dare I say, the last word. I enter it here simply to point out two important things: 1) the real end of the world (as we know it) is an ongoing process, and  2) everyone, everyone, needs to fight back. The time for denial or waiting for the UN or government or God to fix things is over. We are the savior we’ve been waiting for.  Regardless of McPherson’s gloom & doom, just the chance that we may lessen the effects of climate chaos, just the chance that we can give future generations more time, should be enough to motivate us into action. This is what is required: a massive popular groundswell, a movement even more powerful than the abolition of slavery or civil rights. It is the Rights of Nature, and our right to a livable planet that should empower us. Some Mayans have said the turning of their calendar was not “The End of the World” but rather the beginning of a new world. We need that new beginning now.
– d.o.  1/1/13  [Also published on the Arise blog]

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Rising Tide

We might think that the police state, or so-called security state is here to protect us, the people of the state, from terrorists and other dangers. That would seem a likely purpose and it's one that is often stated by federal and state governments in the media. All those heavily armed and darkly armored men we see breaking down doors or looming over demonstrations in great numbers, or simply posted alone in front of Bank of America, are reminders of this perceived protection from terror.

The threat of the Climate Crisis involves rising seas flooding our coastlines and some major cities during either monstrous storms or overtime by melting ice. The threat also involves massive droughts, firestorms, increased infestations, crop failures, erratic weather patterns and more. These disasters in the making, these terrifying events, have a source. Quite frankly the science is in on this: industrial society is the culprit. The terrorist is our way of life, specifically the Western world's energy production, promotion and consumption. There are degrees of complicity however. Your turning up the air conditioner is not quite the same as David Koch dumping millions upon millions of dollars into undermining efforts to confront the Climate Crisis.

One might conclude that a "security state", say in the form of those armored men, the Department of Homeland Security, or similar agencies would be keeping the producers and promoters of dangerous energy sources under surveillance much as the Drug Enforcement Agency might keep illegal drug producers and dealers under watch. But that's not how it works in Corporate America.

In Corporate America it is the consumers who are under surveillance, especially those disgruntled consumers who resist the title, who complain about the situation, who perhaps take to the streets to demonstrate their complaints as all the while the tide rises along the coastlines and the real terrorists hatch further destructive plans in boardrooms high above the fray.

The armored men in black are not breaking down the boardroom doors, they're not monitoring executive fetes in the Financial District where the major enablers of climate chaos sip champagne and dine over endangered species. No, the robocops and their masters are monitoring the protesters occupying Wall Street, they are eavesdropping on communications between activists like the group Rising Tide that's trying to stop the ruinous Keystone XL pipeline or Native organizations like Idle No More attempting to protect the Earth from ecological terrorism.  The targeting by police of those who are actually trying to confront terrorists, those who are acting on behalf of the seemingly voiceless environment, is classic Orwellian behavior. Of course, we expect nothing less from Corporate America's henchmen, even though they work against their own true interests, the long-term interests of their children and future generations. Their paymasters and superiors know full well that an indoctrinated and not too intelligent police presence is all that stands between them and retribution.

A restless population, outraged by various injustices has always been the enemy of the state that claims to protect them. The police state is like the mob extortionist or  the overly strict parent who attempts to beat the child into submission, to make him "behave". But the New Normal is not acceptable. The seas are rising, the ice is melting, real security is found at higher ground where there is a whole different Rising Tide.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Rights of Nature, Yes

Out here on the iconoclastic fringes of political discourse in the U.S. you encounter references to The Rights of Nature on a fairly regular basis. That's a good thing, but not nearly good enough. The concept is not at all hard to grasp, it's just that vast numbers of people may not care to reflect on how they interact or are effected by such a meme.

Let's start with a definition. This from the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature: "The Rights of Nature is the recognition and honoring that Nature has rights.  It is the recognition that our ecosystems – including trees, oceans, animals, mountains – have rights just as human beings have rights. Rights of Nature is about balancing what is good for human beings against what is good for other species, what is good for the planet as a world.  It is the holistic recognition that all life, all ecosystems on our planet are deeply intertwined. Rather than treating nature as property under the law, rights of nature acknowledges that nature in all its life forms has the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles. And we – the people –  have the legal authority and responsibility to enforce these rights on behalf of ecosystems.  The ecosystem itself can be named as the defendant."

Try applying this concept to your own neighborhood. Ask yourself why trees must always make way for roads, for power lines, for buildings and parking lots.  How is it that wounded animals found on the streets are most often "disposed of", while wounded people are rushed off to the hospital. Ask yourself if you think it fair that clean water is used as a medium to flush human waste "away".  And what about this place, "away"? Just where is that? On a planet that functions as one living intertwined self-contained recirculating organism, there is no such place. And still, the land, the air, and the water on Earth is so often treated by humans as a depository for their excess. Where do we get the right to do this?

The nation of Ecuador was the first on planet Earth to recognize The Rights of Nature. Again, the Global Alliance for The Rights of Nature: "The Ecuadorian Constitution includes a Chapter:  Rights for Nature. Rather than treating nature as property under the law, Rights for Nature articles acknowledge that nature in all its life forms has the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles.  And we – the people –  have the legal authority to enforce these rights on behalf of ecosystems.  The ecosystem itself can be named as the defendant." 

You can imagine that here in Corporate America such an amendment to the U.S. Constitution is almost unthinkable. This nation has operated on an economic model that treats the environment as a commodity, and as a dumping ground for alleged "externalities".  That may have changed somewhat during the Nixon years of the 1970s when so much of our collective environmental awareness surfaced, but in reality we, as a nation, have actually regressed since that period. It should be noted that a good segment of the rest of the world views us as utterly negligent when it comes to our treatment of the natural world.  Truth be known, many here in the States hold similar views. Many of us have lately taken to calling oil industry executives and their enablers in Congress as climate criminals. Unlike Ecuador however, we have little or no recourse to indict them for their crimes.

Then, of course, there is the matter of personal responsibility. Libertarians and other rightwingers often speak of personal responsibility when it comes to social issues like health care, unemployment, homelessness or retirement. For the most part, these same people are silent on our responsibility to the planet. Liberals, on the other hand, often blame themselves and their neighbors just as much as the government and industry for the state of the environment. This seems naive at best, given that we live in Corporate America where most choices are dictated to us by a marketplace that is out of our control. The old marketing chestnut about "giving people what they want" is, in reality, just as much of the sales pitch as the shoddy product itself.

The Rights of Nature instituted into the rule of human law would go a long ways toward correcting the dire situation we now find ourselves in with regard not only to the Climate Crisis but to other more localized ecological issues. Yet, this critical concept remains out on the fringes of our political discourse; even much of the Occupy movement seems oblivious to it. In case you haven't noticed, the clock is running out. The Climate that sustains us and the lifeforms we share the planet with is in upheaval, it is a big integral part on Nature. The Climate has Rights.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

1
s-statue-of-liberty-small1.jpgAfter the End of the World

Predictions about the end of the world have come and gone for millennia and we all know how those turned out. This latest one concerning misreadings of the Mayan calendar got its legs from social networking and the media, but like so many others, when the date on the calendar passed……..nothing. Having said that, it seems way past time we seriously addressed the real end of the world: the Climate Crisis. Going back decades and longer, the world’s leading scientists (and more than a few activists like myself) have been sounding the alarm about humanity being on a collision course with the natural world. Way back in 1992, exactly two decades ago, The World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity  stated: “The earth is finite. Its ability to absorb wastes and destructive effluent is finite. Its ability to provide food and energy is finite. Its ability to provide for growing numbers of people is finite. And we are fast approaching many of the earth’s limits”. Then the Scientists’ Warning went on to say: “No more than one or a few decades remain before the chance to avert the threats we now confront will be lost and the prospects for humanity immeasurably diminished”.  That was two decades ago.

During the intervening years, in every avenue available to us, environmentalists and others have been sounding the alarm. When we launched The Enviro Show on Valley Free Radio in late 2005 we read from the World Scientists’ Warning on our very first show. Just this past summer we read those words again on this, the two decade anniversary of the Warning’s release. These days we have no shortage of warnings concerning the Climate Crisis. Activists like Bill McKibben and the folks at 350.org , Al Gore and even more mainstream groups like Greenpeace or the Sierra Club, as well as a growing student movement may be out in front on this, the most critical issue facing humankind, but governments and industry are not. Do we really need to ask why? In case you missed it, scientifically proven, human-caused climate change is a product of western civilization, industrial development. You probably won’t be hearing that from Bill McKibben or Al Gore, much less cable or network news. You can read about the numbers, about the need to return CO2 levels in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million, down from its current level of 392ppm, or the need to transition to alternative energy and away from fossil fuels, but seldom will you read or hear about how our own industries, how Corporate America, is destroying the biosphere on our planet, how it is diminishing the lives of our children and future generations.

Recently we had wildlife biologist Guy McPherson on the show. His take on the Climate Crisis is even more grim than McKibben’s or The World Scientists’ Warning. McPherson’s position? Game over.  The link takes you to his recent presentation at Greenfield Community College. Rumor has it that he will not be invited back. Why? No one wants to hear about the end of the world. This is not to say that McPherson has all the numbers right, that his analysis is, dare I say, the last word. I enter it here simply to point out two important things: 1) the real end of the world (as we know it) is an ongoing process, and  2) everyone, everyone, needs to fight back. The time for denial or waiting for the UN or government or God to fix things is over. We are the savior we’ve been waiting for.  Regardless of McPherson’s gloom & doom, just the chance that we may lessen the effects of climate chaos, just the chance that we can give future generations more time, should be enough to motivate us into action. This is what is required: a massive popular groundswell, a movement even more powerful than the abolition of slavery or civil rights. It is the Rights of Nature, and our right to a livable planet that should empower us. Some Mayans have said the turning of their calendar was not “The End of the World” but rather the beginning of a new world. We need that new beginning now.

– d.o.  1/1/13  [Also published on the Arise blog]

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Once upon a time....


Monday, May 28, 2012

Republicans kick vets to the curb

Remember the Bush era when right-wingers were falling all over themselves to prove their patriotism? In theory, they were all about supporting the troops and never saw a U.S. flag they couldn't wave. Never mind that the too few troops being sent needlessly into Iraq were ill-equipped and over-extended. The Repugnicans just loved them to death.


Well, as they say, some things never change. The far-right (now utterly synonymous with the GOP) still talks a good game about loving those troops at the same time they kick them to the curb. All those teabaggers in the U.S. House of Reps seem to have left vets out of the draconian budget they've been going on about for months. Surprise! Some twisted Repugs have even been nailed for stealing from vets! What happened to all that patriotism??


Apparently the far-rights' presidential hopeful is willing to kick vets to the curb as well. His poorly timed thoughts on benefits last Veterans' Day raised more than a few eyebrows as well as the ire of the VFW. But hey, these guys have been posing as deficit hawks for years now, even as anyone who cared to look would see they are simply shills for the filthy rich and the corporados. Did we mention most of them never served in the military?