Friday, May 25, 2012

Lunar Photograph

Crescent Moon - May 24, 2012
Canon ZR 950

Taken with my digital camera at 9 PM Pacific Time, straight photography, no telescope

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Environmentalism Has Failed - or Has It?

Rumours of the Death of Environmentalism are greatly exaggerated.

David Suzuki's opening remark, "Environmentalism has failed," in A Biocentric Viewpoint is Needed Now, misses the mark set by the article's title by broadly defining "environmentalism" to include biocentric culture change.

It was never the purpose of "environmentalism" to change the dominant human culture from rampant consumerism and resource exploitation to a biocentric viewpoint. The goal of environmentalism is to stop the destruction of the natural world. These are two goals, which, while compatible, require different strategies and tactics.

We who already have the biocentric perspective have focused on this goal far longer than 50 years. While recognizing that we can never "win" against an overwhelming tide of anthropocentric civilization, we must, nevertheless, soldier on and continue to defend the wild. Someone must do the work, make the last ditch efforts to save what is left, while others carry on the legal, political and cultural work in their areas of interest and expertise.

What has failed is not "environmentalism" but culture change. The dominant culture in the world today, that is, western capitalist consumer culture, is dysfunctional to the point of destructive. The stories we tell our children about how to be a human being no longer work in a world of finite resources. We cannot continue economic growth as if resources are unlimited. We can no longer foul our nest as if the Earth will clean up after us forever. We can no longer treat the natural world as separate and under the dominion of human beings and human culture.

The problem is that the western consumer culture model is disseminated by a centralized, top-down control system, through corporate media, corporate dominated government and corporate control of access to information. We environmentalists who embrace and live a biocentric world view are ill-equipped to take on this totalitarian control system and bend it to a realization of the necessity of a biocentric world view.

Our form of environmentalism is alive and well, still working hard to protect critical natural habitat, clean water and air, living soils and biodiversity. It's our work. It's what we're good at. We can't shift focus, relearn a new approach, stop defendning what little is left. There's no time and we're not getting any younger!

Now it's time for the bioculturalists to step forward and begin the process of instilling biocentric knowledge and ideals into popular culture.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Economics as if Life Matters

There are a few books that are life changers, that make a lasting difference in the course of society. For me, E.F. Schumacher's Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered is one of those books.

I read Small Is Beautiful in 1973, when it was first published. At the time, it didn't seem particularly radical. This was the normal course of things. This is what we were doing: dismantling the status quo society and building the new with what later became known as appropriate technology. The New Alchemy Institute was foremost in this endeavor, providing an exciting glimpse into the future of solar buildings, renewable energy systems, organic gardening and sensible transportation choices.

Jeremy Williams' article,  E F Schumacher: A Wealth of Inspiration tells the story of E.F. Schumacher's arrival on the renewable energy scene as an economist, including his choice of title for the book, The Homecomers,  for which his publisher chose a different, soon to become famous title.

Despite the widespread popularity of Small is Beautiful, and the still resonating influence of it and its followers, the concepts recognized and thoroughly explored by Schumacher were subsumed and co-opted into the modern sustainability movement. 

Sustainability does not mean the same thing as Small is Beautiful. Sustainability is an excuse for maintaining the status quo and pretending one is doing something different, something more desirable, something... sustainable. Sustainability is the prestidigitation used to draw attention away from economic development, the continuing growth economy, trans-national corporate domination, and Big Business as usual. Sustainability is the ineffective chemotherapy applied to the growth philosophy of the cancer cell.

In order to circumvent the truly revolutionary ideas proposed by Schumacher, that economic growth and technological development risk destroying the basis for human life, the concept of sustainability was brought to the fore to forestall the realization of necessary limits to growth.

Thus, sustainable development is defined as economic growth that can be maintained into the future indefinitely without limiting potential development for future human populations. It is an entirely anthropocentric concept that short-circuits the inconvenient revelations of Schumacher and the appropriate technology movement of the 1970s. 

Today, in the 2010s, we know that even Schumacher's 1970s revelations fall short. We can have small and beautiful appropriate technology that still causes harm to non-human species, that still pollutes and still reduces critical habitat and biodiversity. Sustainability for humans is insufficient, when human action limits well-being for future non-human populations. All life must thrive in order for any species to continue.

We should extend Schumacher's original premise to include all life, in effect saying: Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if Life Mattered

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Popping Pills for Satisfying Sex?

A recent article in The Santa Cruz Patch, Can Herbs Enhance Sex? promotes the use of herbs and drugs to enhance sexual experience, as part of a series of articles promoting the use of drugs.

When one has the attitude that nothing in life is good enough as it is, one is in a constant state of dissatisfaction, constantly searching for the next "peak" experience. It's a never ending struggle. "Enhanced" experience is never enhanced enough.
There is always some new drug that must be tried that is better than the last. There is always some new thrill that must be experienced in one's "bucket list."

Constant dissatisfaction expresses itself in the never-ending consumption of material objects: always looking for the best new car, the largest most well equipped house, the highest income from the most prestigious job, the latest fashions, the most popular TeeVee show. The vacation industry is based on dissatisfaction with where one lives and works, creating desires to travel to exotic places for new experiences, so much better than the mundane experiences at home. Advertising creates and feeds on dissatisfaction, the constant desire for new and "enhanced" experience. Dissatisfaction, in fact, creates the world we live in, the world rapidly becoming depleted of basic resources, its water and air polluted, the rich diversity of life depauperate, increasingly noisy, increasingly uncaring, increasingly dysfunctional.

Constant dissatisfaction has bred the "on demand society." Everything anyone could possibly want must be available immediately, on demand, right here, right now. Satisfying sex is not something that grows with practice among loving couples, it must be produced, immediately, from a bottle (and sold in the marketplace of dissatisfaction). Intelligence is not a result of study, work, research and paying attention to life, it is created, on demand, from a drug bought from your dorm mate.

The cure for dissatisfaction is not more but less. Sufficiency is a concept that has fallen out of favor in today's "enhanced" world. The word "enough" has almost disappeared out of the English language. "Good" has been sacrificed for "best." "Larger," "wider," "faster," "taller," more, more, more... the catchwords of advertising, have replaced the simplicity of "enough," "sufficient," "adequate" and, my favorite, "just right."

The cure for dissatisfaction is engagement in life. There are so many distractions in modern life, so many artificial mediations to everyday experience, from cell phones to computers to 3D movies, to further filter one's life experience through the haze of drugs is folly of the most limiting sort.
We are only alive for a brief moment, able to experience the incredible diversity of life for a few fleeting years. With so much very real experience available at every turn, it is a shame to ignore it and turn inward seeking something that isn't in our heads. Life is all around us, free for the seeking. 

I choose Life, in all its unenhanced glory.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012


Sunspots, Tuesday, May 8, 3 PM; Meade Model 390; eyepiece projection

An experiment in solar photography, using a small refracting telescope, a piece of white paper and a simple digital camera.

6 Reasons Why Global Warming is Natural

The article: Has CO2 warmed the planet at all in the last 50 years? It’s harder to tell than you think explains the uncertainty regarding the Anthropogenic Global Warming proposition.

It seems clear that the perception of human caused "Global Warming" is a function of several factors:

1) Urban Heat Island Effect (UHI) - the effect of concentrated human technocratic infrastructure that raises local temperatures. The proximate causes of UHI range from placement of weather recording stations in areas of artificial heat generation (airports, near air conditioners r other industrial heat sources) to generalized heat bubbles surrounding major cities. Selection of recording sites is critical in evaluating temperature records. (See numerous articles on Watts Up With That?)

2) Temperature data and data source manipulation - selection of recording sites, start and end points of records analyzed, step increases in temperature masking trends, manipulation of raw data, work to create the impression of a warming climate. 

3) Political agendas - environmental groups, UN/IPCC, World Bank, International Monetary Fund - organizations such as the IPCC, the Met Office, Union of Concerned Scientists, United Nations World Meteorological Organization are not scientific organizations, they are science policy organization. Therefore, the conclusions they reach and communicate are not scientific conclusions, they are policy recommendations based on interpreted results of scientific investigation. The United Nations focus is on "sustainable development," and most, if not all of their policy documents are couched in terms of making the developed nations pay for continuing development in the "global South." Environmental organizations such as Greenpeace, The Sierra Club, and World Wildlife Fund have changed from grassroots advocacy and action to political lobbying organizations, requiring multi-million dollar budgets and a compromising presence in world seats of power and influence. 

4) Natural climate change - Yes, the climate of the earth does change, all on its own. In fact, change is the norm. It is the expectation of a static, unchanging climate that is at odds with reality.

5) Media hysteria - Media mavins love a bold headline, even if it isn't true.

6) Anecdotal weather observations - heat, tornadoes, hurricanes, flooding. Individual, (aka anecdotal) weather observations of floods, tornadoes, hail, thunderstorms, hurricanes give a perception of weather "out of control," as if weather was ever in control. Today's weather extremes are no different than those of the past. Anecdotal weather observations do not take into account the history of weather and climate variation.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Four Dead in Ohio

 Jeffrey Glenn Miller and four other students were killed by National Guard bullets, and  nine others were injured.

Forty-two years ago today, four young people were brutally murdered by United States National Guard soldiers called to the campus of Kent State University to quell peaceful anti-Viet Nam War demonstrations.

National Guard soldiers fire on unarmed Kent State students.

I was a student at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, a biology major, working as a photographer for the University. I had documented campus demonstrations for the college newspaper, including instances when Omaha city police smashed car windows of motorists caught in traffic on the street outside of campus during an anti-war demonstration.

Kent State was a turning point in my life, igniting a life-long distrust of government and corporate influence, and a quest for a way of life based on peace, kindness and mutual aid.