Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Christmas, whatever it is

Not that it matters much, to anyone other than curmudgeonly writers and historians, the day celebrated today, and throughout the Christian world, if there is such a thing, is at best misunderstood.

Most everyone knows that Jesus was not born on December 25th. We overlook this slight calendaric inaccuracy in the spirit of Christmas, the recipients of 1700 years of pagan and Christian history, from Saturnalia to mangers on courthouse lawns. No one really knows when the historic Jesus was born, or where, or if at all.

In fact, if the general populace were to become aware of the real history of Saturnalia and the activities that took place thereupon, Christmas would be a much different occasion than is celebrated now in shopping malls across the world.

It's not that Christians took over a pagan festivity to attract more adherents, although there is an element of that in all Christian holidays. It is more a blending of cultures in our society's distant past, an amalgam that is obscured through the excess of totalitarian culture at this time of year.

One not need dwell overmuch on the self-evident consumerist nature of 21st Century Christmas. This is part and parcel with the consumerist society we inhabit and create from moment to moment. It's entirely appropriate that we celebrate this most special occasion of the year in an insane frenzy of meaningless consumption, rather than the sexual and ethnic frenzy of our distant Roman ancestors.

The most meaningful part of this Christmas season is the world around us that doesn't recognize religious and social norms. That is, the non-humans on the planet, the birds that grace the air with their wings and song, the trees that provide haven and exemplary sunset views for the birds, the grasses that decorate the feet of the trees, the living soil that pushes up the grasses into the sun and the ever changing and always present bedrock of the whirling planet that supports us all.

If there is meaning to this season to be derived, contemplated and written about, it is in this, the natural world, from which we featherless bipeds emerged and to which we inevitably and permanently return.

To that prospect, I raise a glass of juniper tea and say to all,

Happy Christmas, one and All!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Of Strings and Christmas and Things Universal

The String-theorists are right: we do live in a Multiverse.

At least, I don't live in the same Universe as those people who fight in stores over $180 running shoes, at Christmas, even if there is some real connection with a baby born in suspicious circumstance 2,000 years ago... which there is not.

Christmas is a Dickensian fantasy, dredged up from the depths of our cultural consciousness, feeding our desires for a world that doesn't exist, at least in this Universe. Maybe in some other Universe love that passeth understanding is greater than greed, acquisitiveness, competition, authority, ignorance, outright stupidity and intolerance. But not in this world. In this world, the very basis of our society is inequality between those who have little and those who have most of everything else.

While the majority quietly sing Christmas carols with their families, the rich minority make a profit from the sale of Christmas products at a high mark-up and artificially limited availability.

Humbug, in deed.

If we celebrate anything, let's celebrate the seasons that make this such a beautiful Universe in which to live. The incredible diversity of all life on this whirling ball of stone and gas, the slow turning of our planet, the year-long journey around our sun, the millennial precession of our planetary system and the incomperable drift of our galaxy through the only Universe we can know. These are the realities of our world that deserve celebration.

Merry Universe!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Truth that Must NOT be Told

We all know about The Shocking Truth About the Crackdown on Occupy. We've seen the pictures and the viral videos of Darth Vader militarized police pepper spraying unresisting protesters. defenseless Young girls, and 85 year-old women.

Noami Wolf reveals the underlying story of why the 1% are pressuring Homeland Security to stop the popular protests that threaten to reveal the truth:

"Occupy has touched the third rail: personal congressional profits streams."

It's bad enough that banks too big to fail monopolize Congress and have their way with their depositors. It's bad enough that corporations now have unlimited influence on national elections.

Now we learn that our "representatives" in Congress are using insider information to amass obscene profits from Wall Street. When they leave the hollow halls, they step through the revolving door right into lucrative lobbying deals where they make their way further up the 1% power pole.

The 99% have given up on elections, aware that a corrupt government cannot be changed by a corrupted political process. Unlimited economic influence has poisoned the well of democracy in the United States.

Two quotes by Thomas Jefferson come to mind:

"Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms (of government) those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny."

"The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions that I wish it to be always kept alive."

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Grazing Through Climate Change

Tarplant in 2007
Today's article in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, Coastal panel staff back Arana Gulch plan, includes the following from the California Coastal Commission (CCC) Staff Report for the upcoming hearing on the Arana Gulch Master Plan:

"The report notes that tarplants in the former dairy site have dropped from 100,000 in the 1980s to 32 this year. The report cites the end of grazing, invasive species and "unmanaged public access" that led to unauthorized trails."

Tarplant numbers were not studied in the 1980s during grazing on Arana Gulch, therefore we have no baseline on which to compare current trends. A contributing factor that has not been studied is change in the timing and amount of precipitation in the area.

Tarplant in 2011
We have just come out of a multi-year drought and we are observing a significant change in precipitation patterns, for example, earlier rains in the fall/early winter season, and extended rains into late spring and early summer, in addition to increased precipitation in our normal winter rainy season. Tarplant numbers at the airport and Tarplant Hill in Watsonville, and in Twin Lakes State Park, have fluctuated in parallel with those of Arana Gulch, yet the other sites have not had large scale grazing that ended in 1989, coincident with declines in tarplant numbers. This would argue that some factor other than cessation of grazing is responsible for the decline in tarplant numbers at all of these sites.

It is more likely that the decline has as much to do with natural local climate variation as with changes in herbivory with the removal of dairy cattle from Arana Gulch.

The recent increase in tarplant individuals suggests that changes in precipitation patterns is a possible contributing factor to tarplant success or decline and would therefore influence the success of the City's plans for industrial scale grazing on Arana Gulch..

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Yes, the season continues to change. Yesterday the weather was sunny and warm, a splendid Fall day.

A lone walker enters the fog at the south end of Arana Gulch

 Today on Arana Gulch, thin tendrils of fog slipped silently among the oak leaves most of the day. There is a remarkable absence of birds about, very calm and still, all the normal sounds of the coastal prairie terrace are muted by the encompassing fog. Even the dogs and dog walkers are unusually still, wrapped in their own bit of mystery, carrying their quiet stories with them.

Arana Creek reflects the transition from fog to blue sky.

Down in the riparian habitat, Arana Creek slips softly among willow and looming eucalyptus. The rippling waters reflect a leaden sky, with wisps of blue around the edges. The reflective surface of the creek hides a world unseen by those restricted to open air. The wee creatures, plants and squirmy things that live in the creek look out in wonder at the empty spaces on the other side of the water surface. How could anything live out there with no water to breathe?

Willows give way to eucalyptus along the banks of Arana Creek.

Occasionally, a ray of sunshine breaks through, illuminating a lone willow, shining clear and golden bright against the darker forest backdrop. The fog thins, begins to lift, to pull back beyond the beach, where it waits patiently for its return in the dark of the night.

Two 8 to 12 foot wide paved bicycle routes across this fairy landscape would change the magical scene forever from one of calm mystery to the everyday world of whizzing metal, demanding deadlines, noise and distraction, the very things we come to Arana Gulch to escape.

Click here to go the Friends of Arana Gulch website and sign the petition to remove the Broadway-Brommer Bicycle Connection project from the Arana Gulch Master Plan.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Seasonal Shifts on Arana Gulch

Thanks to Ma Nature, we've had gorgeous sunny weather on Arana Gulch this week, warming the soil, mixing with the great early rain we've had these past two seasons, getting those tarplant and Molina seeds ready to germinate after the winter rains.

The red-tailed hawk mother has had her children out practicing their soaring over the coastal prairie terraces, what's left of them at least. We hear their high, shrill cries every day, wafting down from the quiet, cloudless sky.

Now that the City has mowed the entire upper terrace, the wee beasties that live there have less cover to hide in, making their lives more perilous, but causing the predators to lick their lips in anticipation. Life goes on in balance.

The creatures of Arana Gulch pause briefly during this time between seasons, pulling the last whisps of warm air about their shoulders, stocking up on supplies to last through the coming rains, putting on some weight, bulking up on carbohydrates for the long wet and cold to come. The bushes are filled with golden crowned sparrows and SBJs (small brown jobbies), gobbling the ripened seeds, stocking up on warming oils from tar-weedy indigenous plants. Their chittering warbles fill the quiescent air.

Putting an industrial scale bike road through this quiet and contemplative habitat would change its character forever, slicing through this interdependent circle of life with a paved pathway for skirling skateboard noise and rushing bicycle wheels as they whiz by the interpretive displays without notice. A high speed bike road is incompatible with this designated Natural Area.

To put a stop to the City of Santa Cruz Broadway-Brommer Bicycle Pedestrian Connection project, visit Friends of Arana Gulch at and sign the petition to the California Coastal Commission to take the Broadway-Brommer project out of the Arana Gulch Master Plan.

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Plethora of Pathway Possibilities

It's official! We read in Street Smarts | Navigating Santa Cruz County that the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail (MBSST for acronym aficionados) will pass through Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties on the Rail Trail, now in process of negotiation by the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (SCCRTC).

This is good news for everyone concerned with non-automotive transportation in Santa Cruz County, and good news as well for those of us concerned with preserving our natural, undeveloped sensitive habitats.

With the MBSST planned for the rail corridor just 1/4 mile from Arana Gulch, there is no longer any justification for building a paved bicycle connection through Arana Gulch from Broadway to Brommer Streets through Critical Habitat for the endangered Santa Cruz tarplant. The MBSST will add yet one more cross county bicycle-pedestrian connection to the already existing network of dedicated bike lanes criss-crossing the County and City.

Even better, the MBSST will provide a car-free route through the City and county, unlike Brommer and Broadway Streets, which are busy city streets with parking on either side. This will be truly safe bicycling and walking. The MBSST will travel through developed and undeveloped areas of the county and city, providing bicyclists and walkers of every stripe an opportunity for convenient, hassle free transportation and recreation, from one side of the county to the other, even unto Monterey County and beyond.

With cross-town traffic safely accommodated on the MBSST Rail Trail, Arana Gulch can be left in its natural area state, and the City Parks and Recreation Department can continue its good work of managing Arana Gulch for the Santa Cruz tarplant and other native species.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Occupy Arana Gulch

While we're busy occupying the public sphere, declaring our independence from corporate and government dominance, pause and give a thought to our natural areas that cannot speak for themselves in the public, human forum.

Arana Gulch is a greenbelt, set aside by a vote of the people of Santa Cruz as a natural area surrounded by human development. Arana Gulch is a tiny fraction of what once was a prevalent coastal prairie terrace environment along the Central Coast of California.

Before European humans arrived on the scene some 250 years ago and took over the neighborhood, including the neighbors, Arana Gulch was home to a variety of interdependent species: elk, deer, mountain lions, bobcats, gophers, red-tailed hawks, Coopers hawks, turkey buzzards, swifts, golden-crowned sparrows, field mice aplenty, steelhead, tidewater gobie, several species of salmon, popcorn flower, Molina, Live Oak, willow, Himalayan blackberry, and the Santa Cruz tarplant.

Years ago the tarplant grew by the hundreds of thousands in Arana Gulch, pollinated by a variety of insect species, its seeds spread by grazers such as elk and deer, tiny birds and the winds they fly on. In recent years, land use changes have caused the tarplant to diminish severely, until recently, when discovery of less than forty living plants was a cause for celebration. As a result, the Santa Cruz tarplant was declared endangered by the State of California and threatened by the United States government. In 2002, the US Fish and Wildlife Service declared all of Arana Gulch as Critical Habitat for the Santa Cruz tarplant.

Since 1971, the City of Santa Cruz has planned and attempted to build a paved roadway across the sensitive habitat of Arana Gulch, connecting two city streets on either side of the greenbelt, first for automobiles, and, since 1991, for bicycles. The paving would be eight feet wide with two feet of gravel shoulder on either side, carving a twelve foot wide gash across the Critical Habitat for the endangered tarplant.

Friends of Arana Gulch has worked for over sixteen years to stop the city from building this project. Since much of Arana Gulch is in the California Coastal Zone, the City must apply to the California Coastal Commission for a development permit to build this cross-town bicycle connection through Arana Gulch. Friends of Arana Gulch is asking for your help in appealing to the Coastal Commission to stop this development project and produce an Arana Gulch Master Plan that sets City policy to manage the Arana Gulch Greenbelt to restore and preserve this sensitive habitat for the endangered Santa Cruz tarplant and all the species that inhabit Arana Gulch.

Go to Friends of Arana Gulch to learn more and sign up to help out.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Eleventh Hour of the Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Year

This is a special Armistice Day this year, though we call it Veterans Day today.

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh year of the Twenty-First Century, we celebrate the end of World War I ninety-three years ago.

What better way is there to support this celebration of the end of a war than with a renewed dedication to end the United States' prosecution of war and conflict in the Middle East, Africa, Korea, and numerous "limited conflicts" throughout the world.

Let's honor the soldiers who died in exotic places far from home by vowing that no more will so die. Let's honor the soldiers who are killing and dying on this day by bringing them home for good, where they can be with family and friends and contribute meaningful, positive work in their home communities.

Instead of a day off from work and a shopping holiday, let's make Veterans Day, once again,  a time of reflection and dedication to the cause of peace.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Ode to the Edmund Fitzgerald

Lest anyone think that "EPIC" storms are a product of modern "global warming, note that the Edmund Fitzgerald sank 36 years ago, in an epic storm in its own right, a pretty common occurrence on the stormy Great Lakes.

Winter storms, even early winter storms, are the norm, not the exception. That's why we distinguish winter from other seasons, at least in most parts of the world (even though they get it backwards in the Southern Hemisphere.

Just as weather varies from year to year, climate varies from decade to decade, century to century, millennia to millennia. Variation is the norm, stability is the temporary exception.

As long as there are ships at sea, there will be shipwrecks, lost lives and widows. And as long as there is weather, there will be climate variation.

Beyond Jobs

Re-imagining Work in the Motor City is an uplifting article about a conference in post-industrial Detroit, where participants are re-examining the idea of jobs and their relationship to necessary and fulfilling work done by city residents.

Focus on jobs emphasizes work for pay rather than work for personal satisfaction and community contribution. It fosters competition, hierarchy, individualism, and, above all meaningless consumption.

Placing the emphasis on meaningful work fosters self-reliance, self-fulfillment, community involvement, responsibility and mutual aid. The entire community benefits from meaningful work, both in the products from that work and in the sense of community built by sharing the work necessary to support the community.

As we build and support local economies, meaningful work for everyone becomes a product we can all cultivate and harvest.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Epic Alaska Weather is the Norm

'Epic' storm rips off roofs in Alaska

Yes, "Epic," as if that means something.

When I was an archaeologist in Alaska, I spent three days stuck in Nome, on my way back to Fairbanks from St. Lawrence Island in the Bering Strait. I had just made the last flight off the island before the storm moved in, barely found the airport at Nome before it socked in as well.

For the next three days, the storm raged and battered at the breakwater just outside my century-old hotel room window. With each crash of the surf, the building rattled and rocked on its foundation. Phones were out, the electricity flickered ominously but never went out for more than a few seconds at a time. The street filled with snow and snow machines were the only vehicles moving. The bar and restaurant downstairs did a thriving business for those of us huddled in the hotel and a few who braved the wind and cold to join us.

It was a typical winter storm in northwest Alaska, just like the one today.

"Epic?' No more so than Alaska has always been to folks who don't live there.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Deposit Change in Your Local Bank: A Step Forward

Sometimes it seems overwhelming.
What can I do to make a difference?

The government is so huge and I am just one person. The economy is out of control and there's nothing I can do about it. I need a job to provide food and shelter for my family. I can't march on Wall Street, I have responsibilities.

Gandhi said, "Be the change you wish to see in the world."

Here's a simple thing you can do, without shirking your responsibilities, without marching on Wall Street, without jeopardizing your future or your family's well-being.

You can take your money out of large, international "too big to fail" banks, and you can put it safely in accounts in local, community banks and credit unions.

It's a great American tradition, to keep your money in local banks, where Jimmy Stewart can lend it to Giuseppe Martini to buy a house for his wife and family, to Mrs. Wainwright for her new kitchen, to Joe to open a new luggage store.

Local banks invest in your own community, not in international profit ventures in far-away countries. Your money stays to work for you, providing jobs right here at home. Your money circulates throughout the town several times, building friends, multiplying like the two dollar bills George Bailey and Uncle Billy put back in the safe to make more dollars for everyone. 

Just think of the change you will start when you walk into your imposing BIG BANK, take out all your money, and walk down the street to a modest and sufficient Local Bank or Credit Union, and proudly deposit your funds in your local institution. 

It's an act for you, as well as for your family, your community, your friends and neighbors.

Don't look now, but there's something funny going on over at the bank."

The idea is spreading. Just as in It's a Wonderful Life, people are taking their money out of the "Too Big to Fail" banks and bringing it home from Wall Street to Main Street, where it can work in our communities, supporting our local economies, helping our own families, friends and neighbors. 

It just might catch on!

What bank is your money in?

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Fascism Wrapped in the Flag and Carrying a Cross

The Advent of the Surveillance Society lucidly explores the depths to which the United States government has stooped in changing a free and open society into a gilded fish bowl, surrounded by the peering eyes of authoritarian rule.

The central government is rapidly changing from a constitutional republic to a fascist corporate oligarchy, fascist in the technical sense of government support of capitalism, to the point of armed oppression, domestic and abroad.

The militarized police force takes the form, if not the identity, of the local arm of government oppression, all in the name of patriotism and security, in the process destroying that which made the United States a unique and exemplary form of representative government.

International relations have devolved into "do what we want or we'll bring democracy to your country." The United States government has become the bully in the world playground, pummeling into submission any country that dares to stand up to its demands. All resources are "United States interests" subject to US control and exclusive appropriation. Popular uprisings against despotic rulers are quickly overwhelmed by US force and bent to the will of the last remaining "superpower.

Topped off with overwheening domination by far-right, Christian Dominionists, the fate of the people of the United States is in the hands of religious and economic zealots, who are quickly bringing this country to its knees... perhaps the goal of the engineers of the corporate coup d'état.

Fortunately, Mother Nature has other plans, spelled out clearly in Peak Oil and on-going climate change, human caused or natural. The days of central authority are numbered, as global rule requires unlimited energy supplies, unavailable in a world of finite resources.

As energy supplies diminish, control shifts from central authority to local anarchy, true democracy.

It's Natures way.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Myth is as Good as a Mile - of Bike Road

It's time, once again, to dispel the myths that have accumulated to date over the city's 2006 Arana Gulch Master Plan and the 16-year-old Broadway-Brommer Bicycle Path Connection Project, around which the entire Master Plan was unfortunately conceived.

Proponents of the Broadway-Brommer project have continually maintained that a quarter-mile long, 8-foot wide with 4 feet of gravel shoulders paved bike roadway across Arana Gulch would "get people out of their cars" and reduce automobile air pollution in the Monterey Bay area.

However, in an Aug. 9 article in the Sentinel, we learn this turns out not to be the case. The Monterey Bay Unified Air Pollution Control District has halted all major bike projects because "while the projects have been popular among recreational cyclists, the district hasn't seen a dent in emissions." Actually, the city was informed by Caltrans years ago, in writing, that it could not make the unsubstantiated claim that building a bike project across Arana Gulch would get people out of their cars.

Proponents of the Broadway-Brommer project hold that the wide, paved bike roadway would provide handicapped access to the Arana Gulch Greenbelt, plus public interpretation of the natural area. If the city really wants handicapped access to the Greenbelt, nothing is stopping it from providing such.

The existing two access entrances to the greenbelt can be easily reconfigured and an ADA compliant real "path" around the perimeter of tarplant habitat can be easily designed and built. ADA access and interpretive signage don't require a bike road with a footprint of 12 to 15 feet and two bridges over two creeks, through federally designated critical habitat for an endangered species. As for interpretive signage, there used to be a gorgeous sign at the northern entrance to the greenbelt, gone for years, that showed a red-tailed hawk circling above and gave great botanical information about the endangered tarplant. The sign sits safely at the city's Parks and Recreation building for now.

Proponents have repeatedly claimed that the wide paved bike roadway is necessary to fund required restoration for the endangered Santa Cruz tarplant. This is not true. The city has been conducting tarplant restoration activities yearly since 1995, with no bike road in sight. And city Public Works officials have told the Coastal Commission that tarplant restoration is to be funded through the sale of property adjoining Arana Gulch, the proceeds from which will go into a dedicated restoration fund. The money for Broadway-Brommer comes from Federal transportation funds.

The Broadway-Brommer Bicycle Path Connection Project contained in the Arana Gulch Master Plan remains just what it is: a bicycle connection from one part of the urban county to another part, through Arana Gulch. In other words, a transportation project. As such, it cannot be considered a "resource dependent," interpretive trail, as is required by Section 30520 of the Coastal Act.

Michael Lewis and Jean Brocklebank, on behalf of Friends of Arana Gulch.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Science is not ruled by consensus

"Most climate scientists say the steady increase in the concentrations of human-generated greenhouse gases like CO2 play a decisive role in this climate change, by trapping ever-more solar energy in the home planet’s atmosphere."

This sentence demonstrates the danger of interpretation of science by non-scientists.

"Greenhouse" gases do not trap heat in the atmosphere. They absorb energy at certain wavelengths and reradiate it in all directions, some down to Earth, some out in space.

Recent satellite measurements show that heat energy leaving the Earth's atmosphere to space is much greater than that predicted by global climate models, and adopted by the IPCC in their prognostocations. This means that all of their "predictions" of future climate are called to question, including those parroted by "most scientists."

Fortunately, science does not advance by consensus. If ten scientists are wrong and one scientist is right, do we ignore the correct interpretation of data anyway? The findings of one scientist can completely negate the findings of hundreds. It is the data, methodology and conclusions that are critical in scientific investigation, not the number of scientists who agree.

Whether or not Antarctica respond to climate variation has no bearing on the source of climate change. Antarctica and the Arctic have been changing for millennia with no help from human society.

Climate variation is natural, spurred and limited by natural cycles within the biosphere.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

If we don't know about it, is it a conspiracy?

Who–and What–Are Behind the “Official History” of the Bin Laden Raid?:

"What we’re looking at, folks, is the reality of democracy in America: A permanent entrenched covert establishment that marches to its own drummer or to drummers unknown. It’s exactly the kind of thing that never gets reported. Too scary. Too real. Better to dismiss this line of inquiry as too 'conspiracy theory.'"

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Climate Variability vs. Climate Change vs. Global Warming

This article, It’s Not About Feedback by Willis Eschenbach, is critical to understanding the nature of climate variability and the mistaken direction taken by political organizations, such as the IPCC and others, in interpreting observations based on a preconceived misunderstanding of climate dynamics.

In our shared mechanistic world, we operate on the common sense principle that "If you push something hard enough, it will fall over." This is the linear world of everyday expectations, in which a given action always results in the same outcome, and it works pretty well in most situations, such as getting out of bed, drinking a cup of hot coffee or stepping off the front stoop.

However, when we deal with complex systems such as weather, atmosphere, oceans and climate, this principle serves us poorly. In the world of complex and chaotic systems, when you push something hard enough, sometimes it does indeed fall over. Other times, when you push that same something with the same force, it stands resolutely unmoving. And even other times, the same push results in the object flying off into a corner of the room and whining piteously to itself.

This is because in the complex world, there are far more variable and unpredictable factors than one's simple push acting on the object and affecting the outcome.

This is the case with climate variability. The IPCC, and other political and science organizations, operate as if climate changes in reaction to one simple push, the total amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. They have put together a body of observations: increasing average temperature at many surface temperature measuring stations; a decline in extent and thickness of Arctic ice; melting of glaciers and ice fields in some parts of the world; and increasing atmospheric concentration of CO2 (and other "greenhouse" gases). They have entered these data into their computers and the computer ground on them a bit and spit out a Douglas Adams answer: 42. Unfortunately, just as in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, they neglected to formulate the appropriate question to the ultimate answer.

The basic assumption in these computations, well refuted by Eschenbach, is that there is a linear relationship between the total concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere and average surface temperature, and further, that human production of CO2 is responsible for the observed increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration. In other words, if humans continue to push up CO2, temperatures will continue to rise, glaciers will continue to melt, and, in short, the global Popsicle will be no longer lickable.

As Eschenbach points out, this turns out not to be the case.

The Earth's biosphere, including the oceans, landmasses, atmosphere and all the biological and geophysical bits that hang about within them, is a pretty clever place. Over unimaginable millennia, the biosphere has developed a homeostatic system that works to keep conditions on the Earth within a narrow range of temperature, humidity and atmospheric gas concentrations, hovering around the freezing point of water. Even odder, this range of conditions is uniquely maintained at just the right combination for the establishment and maintenance of life, as we know it, as it has been fruitful and multiplied across the face of the earth, in pursuit of its own unique form of happiness.

This has caused a great many philosophers to scratch their thinning pates in consternation. Is the Earth and this Universe designed just so, for Life and human beings to evolve and contemplate the wonder of its creation? Or, on the other hand, paw or various appendages, if the Universe were not so ordered would there be anyone around to scratch their thinning pates wondering about it?

This is known as the Anthropic Principle, over which much ink and dead trees have been sacrificed in sorting it all out.

What's important for those of us getting out of bed in our mechanistic world, contemplating steaming cups of coffee and slippery front stoops, is this: Climate variability has no constant rate of change or direction; climate changes constantly, as it has since there first were oceans and atmosphere; and global warming is a misperception of cause and effect caused by overdependance on computer models and insufficient attention to the complexity of global climate systems.

Friday, August 12, 2011

All Oil Companies Spill Oil

Just as I.F. Stone taught us that All Governments Lie, we now learn from the BBC: Shell fights spill near North Sea oil platform, that all oil companies, eventually, inevitably, spill oil.

Oh, and by the way, all governments lie about all oil company spills.

I was living and teaching in Valdez, Alaska on March 24, 1989 when I woke in the long gray hours of the morning to hear our local radio announcer tell us, "The Exxon Valdez is on the rocks and leaking oil." From the moment of that first truthful, though understated, announcement, the spill of lies quickly overwhelmed reality.

The full amount of oil spilled was never determined, or unequivocally revealed. Reports of the number of animals killed by the toxic goo changed hourly, obscured by cadres of clean-up workers, bonfires on remote beaches, Exxon hired biologists and unnumbered freezer trucks full of uncounted carcasses.

Throughout that first summer, and for the next two years, I documented in still photographs and video the effects of the spill on Prince William Sound and the Alaska Natives who lived in this supremely beautiful place. I went out into the Sound every day from March 25 to September 15 of that first year.

On September 15, when Exxon declared the clean-up to be successfully completed (Mission Accomplished!), I stood on a beach that was so slippery with North Slope crude that it was all I could do to stand upright on the rocks, let alone walk across them. When I returned to Valdez, I watched open mouthed as elegantly coifed TeeVee presenters on the City dock, miles from the nearest oiled beaches, waxed eloquent on the wonderful job Exxon had performed in cleaning up the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

Oh, and by the way, TeeVee presenters, the stenographers of power, always lie about government lies about oil company spills.

The one lesson we learned from the Exxon Valdez oil spill was this: once the oil is out of the container, there's no getting it back in. And, there is no technology on this Earth that will ever prevent the oil from spilling out of its container.

There is no way that human beings can extract toxic materials such as oil, coal, tar sands, oil shale, and even uranium from the Earth without causing damage to fragile ecosystems and living beings that cannot be restored, even using all of the energy produced by those same fuel sources. Our attempts to use these ancient accumulations of sunlight are the greatest demonstration of the principle of entropy in the history of mankind.

This is why TeeVee presenters always lie about government lies about oil company spills. The inherent, fatal consequences of the use of fossil fuels completely undermines the mythology of modern human civilization and the deeply held belief in the transcendence of unlimited economic growth. In a world of finite resources, continued growth is impossible. To think otherwise is to participate in collective madness.

If the truth were to get out, and the people realized that we have been fed a fairy tale of economic lies by our governments, via the stenographers of power, the people might just decide that they've had enough and reengage in the process of self-government, self-reliance and mutual aid.

Hmmmm... not a bad idea, that.

Pssssst! Shell Oil is lying to you about their latest North Slope oil spill, and your government is not telling you the truth.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

What can we do about the Great American Lie?

I. F. Stone told us many years ago that All Governments Lie. Daniel Ellsberg, in Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers, told us why governments, including Presidents, always lie, and must continue to lie about what they know to be true, but about which they cannot talk under constraints of "National Security." The lies place an impermeable barrier between Those Who Know and Those Who Cannot Be Told, a barrier that trickles downhill forever separating the citizenry of the United States from their government.

Today, the lies continue, as they must, even though journalists, bloggers and other malcontents desperately chip away at the facade. The raid into Pakistan to capture Bin Laden is revealed to have been not a one-off military adventure, but part of an on-going campaign of covert military intervention in 120 countries around the world on the part of a highly organized and secretly funded cadre of 15,000 specially trained soldiers let loose on the world.  There was never any intent to capture Bin Laden alive. The goal of the raid was to kill this living embarrassment to the United States government and remove any chance that he might say something awkward and revealing before he died of kidney failure on his own.

It's not just the President who is foisting lies on the public. Politicians of all stripes meet in smoke filled back rooms with corporate lobbyists and industry representatives, barely deigning to conceal the bribes slipped under the table into their grasping clutches. Nudge nudge, wink wink. The press is summarily dismissed from these gatherings, such as ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, as politicos hide their faces from the peering eye of the Internet, pretending we do not see. The back slapping and glad handing continue safely within the confines of the Marriott Hotel, where legislation is crafted far from the public eye. Would that they were only making sausage.

What do we do in the face of a government corrupt to the core, a government that professes to be Of the People, by the People and for the People, yet continues to do the bidding of unaccountable corporate lobbyists, revolving door "experts," and an overweening military technology industry? Do we continue to vote for new fodder for the corporate grist mill, aka Congress? Do we demand legislation that will stop the Congressional gravy train, from those who are first at the gravy bowl? Do we demand a President to lead us out of the wilderness scheduled to be clear-cut for corporate profits?

The central authoritarian government doesn't have the answer, as it is the central problem. Jeffersonian Republicans knew what they were doing when they opposed Alexander Hamilton's Federalists at the turn of the 19th Century. They foresaw the coming excesses of centralized authority in a world dominated by capitalist greed. They viewed the Federalist agenda as anti-revolutionary, a continuance of the economic system that had strangled the North American British colonies until the Revolution tore them free.  The Anti-Federalists argued for small government, democracy, mutual aid, self-reliance and self-government. As foreseen, Hamilton's paternalistic state has fostered a populous that cannot take care of itself, let alone serve as a beacon of democracy and freedom in an increasingly privatized world.

There is only one path open to those few willing and aware US citizens: turn around and take a new step forward. We cannot solve the problem of corrupt government by appealing to the corrupt government. Jefferson was fond of the concept of public dissent and rebellion: "Every generation needs a new revolution."

It's time for our generation to expose the lies and foster a new revolution, a revolution that starts between the ears, and works outward through our families, neighborhoods, communities and bioregions. Not a violent revolution, as that which spawned this country, but a quiet revolution over back yard fences, neighborhood meetings in living rooms, public gatherings with local representatives, the anonymity of the polling booth. By the time the central authority recognizes the revolution, it will be too late, a fait accompli, a done deal.

The challenge at present is to penetrate the fog of lies and mindless distractions of popular culture sufficiently to foster such a revolution.

The solution is simple: we tell the truth. The Orwellian bumper sticker tells us: "During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." Whenever we encounter a lie, we respond with the truth. From local neighborhoods to the White House, in the coffee shop or City Council chambers, we never let a lie pass unchallenged. This accomplishes two goals: we raise the consciousness of all within reach, and we challenge those who lie to us and expect to get away with it.

Thus the revolution begins.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Toward a Post Growth Society

This is an important concept, well articulated in the article: Toward a Post Growth Society.

Economic growth is viewed as the ultimate panacea for civilization. Grow or die; if you're not growing you're stagnating. No other species on the planet lives this way or can possibly live this way. Any species that outgrows its resources declines and ultimately dies. There's no way around it.

Continual economic growth in a world of finite resources is impossible. At some point, human growth must stop. And yet, human societies seem bent on pushing this natural limit, well... to the limit.

A truly rational and sane species, such as Homo sapiens is supposed to be, equipped with a brain, supposedly capable of projecting the consequences of our actions into the future, able to contemplate our own demise,  would indeed see the inevitability of natural limits to economic growth and would rationally decide that enough is sufficient and by golly, we'd better find a way to develop a steady state economy before we destroy our ability to exist on this, the only planet we have at our disposal.

For many very complex cultural reasons, the dominate human societies on this planet are caught up in a story of how to be a functioning human being that is radically dysfunctional in the real world we inhabit. This story tells us that we are disconnected from the natural world, that there are no consequences to our actions, and that we can continue in this state indefinitely.

This turns out not to be the case.

There are indeed limits to human growth. The resources on which we have built human societies are finite and limited. There are consequences to human actions in this world, consequences that will turn on humans if continued much longer.

It may be possible for humans to develop a steady state society that can continue into the future without destroying it, but I see no reason for optimism on that score.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Anarchy: Democracy Taken Seriously.

In a July 24 Commentary, Mark Dalton mistakenly compares anarchists to Tea Party opponents of raising the debt ceiling. This is as much a disservice to members of Congress as it is to anarchists and the theories of anarchism.

Anarchy means no rulers, not no rules. Anarchism is the body of political thought and writing calling for an end to authoritarian centralized rule, not government. An anarchist society is a society in which the people enforce common rules, rather than giving over their power to a central authority.

Anarchy is not chaos. Those who practice violent destruction in the name of anarchy are not philosophical anarchists, but opportunistic vandals, capitalizing on the popular impression of violent anarchism for their own political gain. If the world today were dominated by anarchists in anarchist societies, it would be much more peaceful. There would be no imperialism, no invasions of other countries to steal their oil and resources, no billions in profits to be gained by dominating the central government. We would look out for ourselves, our families and our neighbors, live within local cycles of resource availability, produce locally for local consumption and stop trashing the planet for corporate profits.

There is no single Anarchist Manifesto, as anarchism is not a centrally ruled doctrine, such as American Republicanism. Anarchism is the various ways people live, in their own communities, in their own bioregions, in maximum freedom of choice, assembly, and cooperation, giving each person, family, neighborhood and community maximum opportunity for free expression.

Democracy is indeed messy. We should try it in the United States some time. Real Democracy, not this faux Democracy Light of barely disguised corporate oligarchy.

Anarchism is democracy, rule by the people, taken seriously.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Environmental Regulation Doesn't Prevent Environmental Abuse

It’s taken me many years to swallow the bitter pill of the reality of government regulation. After 40 years of environmental activism I’ve finally come to the following conclusions.

Regulations do not stop environmental abuse, pollution, habitat destruction, species extinction...what have you. Regulations only regulate, that is, allow these things to continue in a controlled manner. NEPA does not stop pollution, it regulates it. The Clean Air Act does not stop air pollution, it allows it to continue… regulated. The California Coast Act does not prevent coastal development… it regulates it.

You get the picture. Corporations, and people, will always pollute, develop, destroy habitat. Non-humans species will always be displaced by human growth and development. Regulation doesn’t change this, it just puts it in the realm of human notice. Regulation is the bureaucratic excuse for business as usual.

The only way to stop corporate abuse is to rein in corporations, put them on a short leash and dissolve them when they don’t live up to their charter. The only way to stop people from polluting is to remove the economic incentive to throw things "away."

Humans create corporations to do good. Humans can uncreate corporations when they fail to do good.

Humans create pollution out of habits encouraged by an economy based on consumption and unlimited growth. Humans can develop habits of conservation and preservation rather than profligacy.

Rather than waiting for the government to regulate an out of control growth economy, we can start right at home, right now.

We're from the neighborhood. We're here to help everyone!

Monday, July 11, 2011

We're from the Government. We're here to arrest you.

This kind of article:  Trickle-Down Cruelty and the Politics of Austerity has become all too common on progressive web sites these days. Even though the story is not new, it's increasing repetition is worrisome.

The Obama administration has proven to be no friend of those seeking peace, equality and justice in the United States and the world. Despite the campaign rhetoric, the current government pursues increased crack downs on those who point pout the lies and deceit that characterize this administration. It's becoming increasingly clear that the US public were lied to, deliberately and cynically, in order to retain the power of corporations and the Pentagon in control of the government of the United States.

What are we to do as average citizens trying to make a good life for ourselves, our families and our friends and neighbors? Where do we turn when our government turns against us and actively prosecutes those who publicly reveal that the Emperor has no clothes?

We admire those brave enough to carry on the opposition, to stand in solidarity in the streets, to speak out in public about what they know to be true. When do we draw the line and admit to ourselves that opposition to tyranny is more important in the long run than responsibilities of jobs family and put ourselves on the front lines to be abused, arrested and incarcerated for the crime of speaking the truth.

It has traditionally been those without such responsibilities, students and the retired, to carry the banner of dissent, to march in the streets on a work day, to risk arrest and all the social and community sanction that accompanies, to demonstrate unequivocally our displeasure with the activities of the government that professes to represent us.

Perhaps it is time for this to change. We can't wait until the next election, even if it were to be a clean, open and honest election devoid of electronic manipulation. It's time to speak out, each of us who is aware, in public, where all can hear, where all can learn of the actions of the government of the United States against it's own people, the people the government is formed to defend.

If not now, when?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Economic Growth in a Finite World

 A Changing Business Community

This blog post by Tom Honig is an example of an antiquated, human-centered perception of economics. In this day of climate change, Peak Oil, habitat loss and depleted water and soil, this kind of thinking leads to economic collapse for all species, especially our own.

"they want a bike path across vacant land at Arana Gulch."

Arana Gulch is not vacant land. Arana Gulch is a verdant living ecosystem chucky-jammed full of life. This is a comment made in ignorance attempting to minimize the damage caused by development of a paved 12 foot wide bike road through critical habitat for endangered and sensitive species.

"economic growth does a lot of good things. Jobs, tax revenue for local cities and the county, opportunity for all ages and even a relief for the need to commute elsewhere for jobs, goods and services."

Progressive economists are learning that economic growth does a lot of bad things, chief among which is destruction of natural habitat and despoliation of natural resources.

See Czech, B. 2009. Ecological economics, in Encyclopaedia of Life Support Systems. Developed under the auspices of UNESCO-EOLSS Publishers, Oxford, UK

At some point (now would be a good time) humans must grow up and join the rest of the world as contributing members of the web of life, not selfish takers considering our desires foremost above all else.

"Jobs" is not the answer to our economic woes. "Jobs" is the problem. "Jobs" require continuous growth and expansion in a world of finite resources. This is impossible.

What we need is meaningful work in exchange for, clothing, housing and social support. There's plenty of work to be done in our communities, enough for everyone who wants to live here on the terms set by the local bioregion. Those who want more than the local environment can provide must look elsewhere.

"Continuous growth is the philosophy of the cancer cell." Ed Abbey

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

"Self-proclaimed" Anarchists

The phrase "self-proclaimed anarchist" screeches on my mind like finger nails on a blackboard. It is used, even among Progressives such as Amy Goodman, as a pejorative, diminishing the value of anything a "self-proclaimed anarchist" might say or do.

How did this ethical judgement get embedded in our culture? Why aren't Democrats, Christians, environmentalists, Progressives and Libertarians equally singled out as "self-proclaimed," diminished in value compared to all the other "non-self-proclaimed" members of the offending group.

It's a peculiar phenomenon, unique to discussions about anarchism, in company with images of the becloaked mad bomber of 19th Century government propaganda. Most peculiar is that it is thoroughly embedded in literature and popular thought, even among anarchists.

What is the opposite of a self-proclaimed anarchist, and who are they? Who is responsible for officially recognizing anarchists such that they are no longer self-proclaimed? The government? The media? Other anarchists?

An anarchist is one who seeks an end to central, oppressive government, an absence of rulers in a self-regulated community of rules. Anarchists are known by their lives and their actions. Anarchists, by their own actions, proclaim themselves anarchists.

There is no need to add a modifier to the anarchist identification. Action speaks louder than any words.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Responsible Bicyclists Unite

As a daily bicycle commuter of forty years experience, I am constantly frustrated by the behavior of many other bicyclists I see on my travels. Many are simply ignorant of the law, especially young people riding against traffic or on the sidewalk. Many ride bicycles as an expression of rebellion and individualistic freedom, a middle finger upthrust into the face of motoring society.

My greatest frustration is reserved for older experienced cyclists who are completely aware of the rules of the road and choose to ignore them. They exhibit an attitude of entitlement, as if riding a bicycle gives them dispensation over other vehicles, exempting them from stop signs, stop lights and rights of way. Many wear multi-colored bicycling togs, acting out their Lance Armstrong fantasies on our urban streets and highways on the light weight, expensive bicycles.

There is plenty of room for all vehicles in our community, as long as everyone observes the rules of the road and operates their vehicles with respect for all others. When a few choose to flout those rules and expect special treatment, it's no wonder that others speak out in anger and frustration.

It is up to responsible bicyclists to police our own bicycling community, with zero tolerance for illegal and unsafe bicycling behavior.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Cries of "Costly Fraud!" are as deceptive as their targets

This article: Anthropogenic global warming is a huge costly fraud! by climatologist Cliff Harris, has a great deal of truth in it, and much hyperbole as well.

Yes, Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) is overstated by many, mischracterized in the popular press, and generally misunderstood by a poorly informed public. While this is an unfortunate error, it does not pass beyond to deliberate fraud... maybe.

There is indeed "no peer-confirmed scientific research that establishes a cause-and-effect relationship between increased atmospheric carbon dioxide and higher (or lower) global temperatures." There is, in fact, no scientific research that demonstrates the validity of global average surface temperature as a measure of climate variability

Surface temperature is just one variable in local climates. An average of all surface temperatures on the Earth gives us a number, but one which is not particularly useful in assessing variability in local climates, let alone in the speculative concept of a "global" climate. 

To then take this nebulous methodology and attempt to project it forward into the future through the use of mathematical global climate models results in a product that bears almost no relationship to the reality of climate variation and is meaningless in terms of the contribution of anthropogenic greenhouse gases to that variation.

The simple fact is: We just don't know.

It's OK to not know.

Admitting our ignorance is a healthy characteristic of a well adjusted human being. To pretend that we know everything and that we can predict something as complex and chaotic as climate 100 years into the future, when we can't even predict the weather next year, is the height of folly.

The truth is, we're just going to have to wait and see.

Meanwhile, we can prepare ourselves for any climate eventuality by keeping ourselves and our societies as resilient and flexible as possible. This means not tying ourselves to finite energy sources, not building major cities and human playgrounds on shorelines subject to storms and inundation, not building on the slopes of volcanoes, active or "dormant," not building in flood plains and generally conducting ourselves as if we had learned something from 3.5 millions years of evolution.

Oh, and here's the toughy. We have to learn to control our population so as to not consume more than our planet can naturally replenish.

That's a pretty tall order. I have little confidence that Homo sapiens can pull it off.

Wouldn't hurt to try.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Climate Change Bogeyman

In this latest screed, A Link Between Climate Change and Joplin Tornadoes? Never! Bill McKibben stands on the corner with his sandwich board, loudly proclaiming the coming climate Rapture.

Yes, climate change is occurring. As it always has done.

Tornadoes are a result COOLING, not warming. A warm climate does not produce tornadoes and severe thunderstorms. They're caused by the interaction of COLD air masses with warm, moist air masses. The tornadoes and severe weather on the continental US are the result of cooler than normal ocean temperatures.

Droughts, thunderstorms, precipitation, snowfall, have always fluctuated on their own cycles; the interaction of these cycles produces patterns of weather we call climate. There has always been severe weather events everywhere over the earth.

Now, with ubiquitous communications and a paucity of education, we shout that things are different than they used to be, that now the climate is more “severe,” getting worse, causing more damage. These shoutings are usually self-serving, designed to sell books, advance a political agenda, or gather funds for one's technocratic department. One only has to look at the record to see that nothing is changed, climate variation is occurring just as it has throughout the history of mankind.

Unfortunately, Bill McKibben has taken on the role of corner-shouter, mindlessly repeating prophecies of doom and gloom.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

"What would Ed Abbey think about the world today?"

Every now and then, someone raises the ghost of Edward Abbey, author of The Monkey Wrench Gang, Desert Solitaire, The Brave Cowboy and other subversive literature, asking the question, "What would Ed think about the world today?"

Ed was pretty caustic about the state of the world in the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s. How are things these days?

Well, they're pretty much the same, only more so.

Since Ed's time the powers that be have learned much about thought control, access to information, how to funnel dissent into harmless diversions. The President has become a figurehead for the corporate oligarchy, pretending to offer difference while maintaining the status quo. Democracy has been forestalled. Governments are directed by policy promulgated by an entrenched, well-compensated professional staff.  Politicians learn very quickly the source of their campaign funds, and kneel down in obeisance to fiscal realities.

Big Green has joined the corporate world and traded grass roots activism for political and economic power. In an attempt to be "relevant," to human desires at least, environmental organizations have become tools of social engineering, concentrating on environmental justice at the expense of biodiversity, critical habitats, pollution and conservation.

The facile mindlessness of "global warming" has blown away all awareness of environmental activism, concentrating on appeals to central governments and quasi-governmental organizations to "reverse climate change." Meanwhile, corporate toadies and government sycophants rub their hands in Glee at the prospect of unlimited "Green" profits.

The clearest path seems to be to turn our backs on the whole sorry mess and walk away, mumbling to ourselves. And yet, on the local scene, habitat must be saved, developers thwarted, city councils educated. Democracy, such as it is, must be cultivated hereabouts, as the only means of maintaining a semblance of rational government, despite all evidence to the contrary.

We do what we must do, each in our own place. We change the only world we can change, that between our own ears, and we provide the example for our neighbors to work on theirs.

Life goes on.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Really educated people ...

Blue Number 1Establish an individual set of values but recognize those of the surrounding community and of the various cultures of the world.


Blue-Number-2.jpgExplore their own ancestry, culture, and place.

Blue-Number-3.jpgAre comfortable being alone, yet understand dynamics between people and form healthy relationships.

Blue-Number-4.jpgAccept mortality, knowing that every choice affects the generations to come.

Blue-Number-5.jpgCreate new things and find new experiences.

Blue-Number-6.jpgThink for themselves; observe, analyze, and discover truth without relying on the opinions of others.

Blue-Number-7.jpgFavor love, curiosity, reverence, and empathy rather than material wealth.

Blue-Number-8.jpgChoose a vocation that contributes to the common good.

Blue-Number-9.jpgEnjoy a variety of new places and experiences but identify and cherish a place to call home.

Blue-Number-10.jpgExpress their own voice with confidence.


Blue-Number-11.jpgAdd value to every encounter and every group of which they are a part.


Blue-Number-12.jpgAlways ask: “Who am I? Where are my limits? What are my possibilities?”

John-Taylor-Gatto.jpgThis list was adapted from John Taylor Gatto latest book, Weapons of Mass Instruction (New Society Publishers, 2009)

Friday, May 06, 2011

The High Cost of Climate Change Ignorance

The High Cost of Climate Change Denial

This is so unfortunate. Pope's diatribe is unscientific and ill informed.

Tornadoes, grass fires and floods are not climate, not even hyper-climate, whatever that is. These natural phenomena are the result of weather variation, not man-made climate change. Floods in Pakistan, and fires in Russia had nothing to do with climate change, as has been repeatedly pointed out in peer-reviewed scientific literature, apparently unread by Carl Pope.

Tornadoes result from the interaction of warm air fronts and cool air fronts. Tornadoes are most frequent during periods of cooling, such as our current La Niña ocean conditions, not during periods of warming. Tornado frequency has nothing to do with "Global Warming."

Weather doesn't care who the state's representatives are or how they vote. Weather occurs as it does and there's nothing humans can do about it. Even contributing money to the Sierra Club will do nothing to affect weather and climate variation.

There is no evidence in any peer-reviewed scientific literature to support the vague and undefined claim that "a warmer climate means more extreme weather." This is an absurd scare tactic used by Big Green organizations to increase donations, by "green" industry to increase profits and by the international "sustainable development" community to transfer moneys to small, less developed countries so they can be global consumers just like us.

The glib and absurd notion that we can somehow "stop" climate change refuses to die. There's nothing humans can do about climate change except adapt to it.

Get over it, get started now and avoid the rush.

“All governments are run by liars and nothing they say should be believed.”

The above quote from I.F. Stone demonstrates that nothing has changed when it comes to the central state. Here's the story you won't see in the headlines of your corporate newspaper, nor in glowing phosphors on your TeeVee screen:

7 Deceptions About Bin Laden's Killing Pushed by the Obama Administration

The United States government deliberately mislead and propagandized the people of the United States and the world, setting up a smoke screen of lies that was dutifully spread and amplified by the lapdog press. Where are the screaming headlines announcing the "revised" versions of events now touted by the government?

This is no "fog of war." This is deliberate misinformation, disseminated knowing full well that the real story, when revealed, would never have the impact of the lies initially told.

Governments always lie.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

On Deniers, Scientific Consensus and Climate Change

This article articulates widespread confusion on three key concepts related to the scientific investigation of climate variability: climate change, denial, and consensus.

The term "climate change" is used here as short hand for anthropogenic or human caused climate change. A cursory glance through any basic Earth Science text clearly demonstrates that the Earth's climates have changed over time, sometimes drastically and sometimes (geologically) rapidly. Obviously, natural climate change is beyond any human influence. All humans can do is accommodate, as we have done for millennia. The popular perception created by use of this term is that humans have caused the presently observed climate change and therefore we can do something to stop it.

The term "denier" is a pejorative that obfuscates the nature of opposition to the popular perception of climate change. There are very few, if any, who deny that climate changes.  Those who do not accept the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) hypothesis (human produced greenhouse gases cause increases in average global surface temperature) range from the politically and economically motivated to scientists publishing in current peer-reviewed professional literature.

Which brings up "consensus." The "scientific consensus around climate change" is frequently touted as a reason why everyone should accept AGW as a scientifically established fact.

However, this turns out not to be the case. There is no consensus on any causal relationship between human produced greenhouse gases and increasing average global surface temperature. There are as many, or more, citations in the literature questioning the validity of the AGW hypothesis as there are supporting it. The deep geological record suggests that atmospheric CO2 levels rise 800 to 1,000 years after temperature rise, over the past 2.5 million years. While CO2 may be in part responsible for our warm Earth, it is not, and never has been, responsible for runaway global warming.

The Earth's atmosphere/ocean heat circulation system is a complex adaptive systems that responds to many factors, anthropogenic, terrestrial and cosmic. We do not at present understand how this complex system works, how the many and various feedback mechanisms operate, independently and together, to produce observed climate variation. Since we don't understand the mechanisms of natural climate change, we cannot assess the influence of anthropogenic greenhouse gases on our climate today, nor can we do anything to "stop" climate change or influence its rate or direction.

Global circulation climate models are often cited as evidence of AGW. However, computer models are not evidence; they are hypotheses to be tested with present and future observations. To date, global circulation models have been unable to predict present climate trends (such as steady average global surface temperature for the past 30 years, declining average sea level, etc.). They are therefore proven inadequate to predict future climate variation.

Undue focus on the AGW hypothesis draws attention from impacts of human economic growth and  development that must be curtailed: air, water and land pollution, habitat loss, deforestation, topsoil depletion, fresh water depletion, etc. We can do something about this, each one of us, every day. It doesn't take massive government subsidies to encourage individual responsibility for our actions and the results of consumer choice. If AGW is proven false or negligible and humans drift away from the popular global warming fantasy, as they are now, the impetus for societal change will diminish.

Government subsidies for "carbon-free" energy will not reduce human pollution and natural habitat loss. Mining, manufacture, assembly and installation of massive wind and solar farms across undeveloped land will create more immediate environmental harm than centuries of climate change.

The solution is not more industrial development and economic growth. The answer is less: less pollution, less habitat loss, fewer people, fewer cars, fewer roads. We have exceeded the limits. Our only course is to move backward from the abyss, or, if that sticks in the craw, turn around and take the first steps forward.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Environmental Justice - what a concept!

This blog by Jackie Wheeler in High Country News raises the question of Ed Abbey's position on "environmental justice," the darling topic of  Environmental Studies curricula on college campuses across the United States.

The short answer: he didn't have one.

"Environmental justice" is a human-centered misconception that all humans can be treated fairly when the state promulgates environmental laws and regulations. It is neither environmental nor just, as the non-human world always loses out under human manipulation. The state, by its very nature, is unjust, unfair and discriminatory. Therefore, environmental justice is a concept with no basis in reality.

Ed Abbey's closest approach to "environmental justice" was the sane suggestion that immigrants from the south be given a rifle and a box of ammunition and sent back home to deal with environmental injustice in their own countries, where they knew who their enemies were. This made Ed very unpopular among the liberal set, and undoubtedly must not be dwelt upon in college classes in these enlightened times. Unfortunately, the United States government ignored this simple suggestion, and the environment of the American Southwest has suffered extensively as a consequence.

When Ed wrote about preservation of the wild, he was not just referring to undeveloped lands; his reference included the wild in each of us, the basic core of every human being no matter how urbanized, homogenized and politicized. He  saw it as necessary to stop unbridled economic growth, industrial development, destruction of natural habitat, and other ills of civilization, in order to allow all humans to fully develop in the innate natural diversity essential to human survival in a rapidly changing world, both environmental and cultural.

Ed's environmental justice is to be found in the full flowering of human beings as functioning members of the natural world, not as kings and queens atop the ant heap. His vision was of humans as wild creatures, at ease in their true home in the wilderness.

In this there is justice enough.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Contemplating Marfa

We're sitting in a multi-bazillion dollar train, 120+ passengers and assorted crew, outside Marfa, Texas. The train can't move forward; the train can't move backwards.

Ahead, somewhere on the other side of Marfa and its infamous lights, a bridge is smoldering after a grass fire, fed by heavy winds that swept through this bleak semi-grassland, burning everything in its path, including the then non-smoldering bridge.

The sun is a pale pink ball descending over Marfa, peering through a pall of smoke that rises in the north like a stationary thunderhead, red and fuzzy at its base, towering to a shiny white snow cap at altitude.

Behind us and before us an undetermined number of freight trains wait impatiently, stymied in their tasks of delivering vital supplies to El Paso, Tucson and points to the east and west. Commerce trembles on the edge of failure.

The conductor says they've sent out a convoy of buses to rescue this human cargo, take us on to El Paso or LA. Of course, the buses have to come from San Antonio, eight hours back down the line, arriving here around 2 AM for us to stumble aboard and take our vastly inferior seats for a fourteen hour ride out of Texas.

At first we were angry and disappointed. Now we're disappointed and resigned to our fate. Perhaps the grief will start somewhere between here and LA, after we've bounced our way over 750 miles of US Interstate Highway.

Before Alpine, Texas, just east of Marfa, we were the privileged passengers, with meals as part of our fare, almost comfortable beds to sleep in, free juice and coffee, showers and a modicum of privacy. After Marfa, we'll all be bus passengers, regardless of how much we paid to climb aboard. The Old Equalizer in this part of the West is a smoldering train bridge instead of a smoking Colt 45.

I'm looking out the window for the Marfa lights. Lots of lights out there, most of them gliding by on the highway in smooth automotive comfort. Some on the horizon twinkle like earth-bound stars. None of them seem to do anything unexpected -- bob up and down along the railroad tracks like the ghostly lantern of a long-dead train brakeman, for instance. We must look as ghostly to the passengers on the highway a quarter mile away. "Look at those lights, Honey. It's a ghost train!"

Our misfortune is no one's fault, of course. An Act of God one could say, if there was such a thing, which there isn't. But then, if human beings didn't feel the urge to travel so much, to always be looking over the next horizon, to live scattered far from family and friends who must be visited from time to time, to be Elsewhere, for whatever reasons, why, a burning bridge outside Marfa, Texas would hardly occasion anything other than mild curiosity among the denizens of this here Texas town.

Freight cars full of commodities don't have to be much of anywhere at any particular time. A siding in the scrub grass and tough Texas weeds is just as good a resting place as a freight yard in El Paso, or a loading dock in San Diego. Freight is not too particular about the view beyond the rails.

Meanwhile, here we sit, well fed, ready to make up the beds to sleep for a few hours until our knight in shining aluminum comes to rescue us from our plight.


The Texas dawn broke clear and bright this morning, just as advertised, to find us still in our sleeping car outside of Marfa, Texas.

In seems in the quiet of the night a crew of able Texas gandy dancers came from parts unknown and labored through the night to replace burned out railroad ties and a small culvert, the blackened impedimenta to our forward progress. After a chorus of whistles and snorts, our train lurched forward and we resumed our western travels, after 17 hours of sloth and self-reflection outside of Marfa, Texas.

We pass the solemn stone gate posts of the Marfa Cemetery, with its tidy rows of grave stones, Hispanic and gringo side by side. Outside the fence an upended reclining chair, three refrigerators and a discarded stove lie together on unconsecrated ground. Rust in Peace.

It's a sobering sight, acre upon acre of scorched and calcined yucca and bunch grass on either side of the train, piles of smoldering railroad ties, the blackened earth. The mind pictures a herd of terrified jack rabbits fleeing over the horizon, smart enough to hop out of harms way before their escape route is cut off. Their tiny paws leave pale footprints in the dark ash, as they jump the shining steel rails of the impotent technology standing useless on the other side of the burned out culvert.

Now we're speeding down the rails, once again, heading for the un-Marfa-like splendor of El Paso.  The journey resumes, the anxieties of the night before a dim memory. We begin planning our next railroad adventure.

Behind us, a scorpion pokes his multifaceted eyes above the blackened rim of his burrow, sniffing the air for a scent of breakfast.

Life goes on.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

What comes after Global Warming? The next Ice Age!

In this articlePrepare for new Ice Age now says top paleoclimatologist, Terrance Aym points out the undeniable paleoclimate record clearly demonstrating that Ice Ages are preceded by a "global warming" spike.

Look here:

See the squiggly lines in the box between 10,000 years ago and 500,000 years ago. Notice how each blip up in the series goes up abruptly just before it goes down abruptly. That's global mean surface temperature. That's Global warming, followed by global cooling, unto the next glacial advance.

I don't know why this is such a big secret to those promoting "Global warming" as the be-all and end-all of climate change. Climate change doesn't have direction: it can go up, or it can go down. In the past, the Earth's climates have varied from tropical to glacial. Why would anyone expect that to be any different now?

Why do global warming proponents think that the Earth will continue to warm indefinitely and not cool down, just because humans are adding CO2 to the atmosphere (maybe)? Do global warming proponents think Earth and Solar System precession has somehow stopped, and the cycles that have dominated Earth's climate for the last several million years are no longer in effect?

Don't toss out your longies and muqluqs just yet, Mother Nature bats last, and this time her bat's made out of ice!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Monday Morning Reflections

I rode through the Harbor this morning on my way to work at KUSP. It was that same bizarre mixture of normalcy and disaster that I experienced during the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989.

The sun is shining through the fog, gulls are gliding through the clear air, birds singing in the trees. Lucy, the Harbor goose, is pulling grass in her accustomed place between the missing kayak dock and the ravaged G Dock, patiently waiting for her human friends to bring her breakfast.

Then there's the gaping hole where U Dock used to be, masts sticking forlornly out of the water in seemingly empty slips, debris floating serenely on the calm water, the gathering of emergency trucks and personnel dominating the parking lot at the Harbormaster's building. Muddy and broken boats sit awry on the asphalt, lying on beds of plastic sheeting, propped up by tripods borrowed for the boat works next door. Uniformed men stand around in clots, too many to do the work left to be done, but necessary in the regimented Coast Guard bureacracy.

The beach is littered with dock parts and bits of broken boats. The surf rolls in rhythmically, counting the moments since the sea savaged the harbor beyond. The light house looks out over all, above the damage, looking out into an uncertain future.