Gratitude for the Little Things in Life (Clifton Ware, Editor-Publisher)
Here we are, celebrating another Thanksgiving season. For Bettye and me, Thanksgiving is our favorite holiday, primarily because it represents a time for acknowledging our good fortune, and sharing nourishment and convivial fellowship with family members. This season has been a bit colder, snowier, and wetter than usual, but as long as the heat and electricity are functioning, we’re very grateful.
Another reason for appreciating this special holiday is the perception that it offers an occasion to be thankful for what we have, and, hopefully, to ignore the pervasive commercialism associated with accumulating and dispersing more stuff than we need to live well. Nevertheless, some businesses will initiate the Christmas holidays’ shopping mania a day early: on Thanksgiving Day!
Isn’t Black Friday early enough; indeed much too early? The growing Holiday Shopping Creep gets longer every year, and I hope that you will join us in foregoing the frantic rush to buy, buy, buy. Admittedly, society’s ingrained commitment to production and consumption of goods and services may be beneficial in creating short-term economic stability; but does the current economic system, which is based on constant economic growth, provide stability and security over the long term? Some highly reputable experts think not, including Richard Heinberg, Chris Martenson, and Herman Daly, all of whom are featured fairly regularly in this newsletter.
In the past decade I’ve worked on cultivating an attitude of gratitude, reinforced by a daily meditative-prayerful litany honoring a wide range of persons and things for which I’m grateful. I begin with expressing gratitude for life, body-mind health and healthcare, basic needs, freedom, and nature, and continue by acknowledging the contributions of parents, family, friends, mentors, colleagues, and all who have influenced my life in special ways. Gratitude is also extended to all persons embracing a love of nature, including our unique human role in a universal ecosystem, as one species among many enjoying life on this fantastically beautiful and hospitable planet.
To continue this theme of gratitude and emphasis on the little things in life, I highly recommend a recent article by Stephanie Castillo titled The Science Of Gratitude: It Really Is The Little Things.
NOTE. We’ll be touring Turkey Dec. 3-19, so the next newsletter will be sent Dec. 31st, in time for the New Year 2015. Here’s wishing you and yours a very joyful celebration of holiday seasons.
ENVIRONMENT (Natural Resources-Wildlife-Climate)
> Common Dreams: Planet Already On ‘Unavoidable Course To Warming’: World Bank Report. The WB reports: “Even very ambitious mitigation” can’t change the fact that the world has already “locked in” mid-century warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial times”, indicating increased threats to food and water security and jeopardizing poverty-reduction efforts.
> Star Tribune: Commentary: No, It Doesn’t Mean Global Warming Is Myth (Chris Mooney). It’s important to keep in mind that just because it is very cold in the U.S. doesn’t mean that you should question the overall warming trend for the planet. Weather shifts heat and cold around — we know that. We also know our own local experiences inherently bias us, since we only live the weather in one place.
> NRDC-On Earth: Hot Times, Cold Comfort. Last month was the hottest October on record, according to data from NASA and the Japanese Meteorological Agency. That’s going back to at least 1880, when global record keeping began. May, June, August, and September were all record breakers, too.
> CASSE-The Daly News: Animal Welfare: Seeing The Forest For The Denizens (Brian Czech). The most prevalent source of animal suffering is habitat destruction. Habitat includes food, water, cover, and space. When any of these elements are destroyed or depleted, wild animals suffer and often die more miserable deaths than if killed by hunters or predators.
> World Wildlife Fund: Five Ways Food Impacts Our Planet. The average American will eat nearly one ton of food in a year: That is almost 2,000 pounds per person! Our need for food is one of the biggest threats our planet faces—and the impacts from food production, distribution, management and waste also threaten wildlife and wild places.
ENERGY (Fossil Carbon • Natural Resources • Renewables)
> Resilience-Our Finite World: Eight Pitfalls In Evaluating Green Energy Solutions (Gail Tverberg). Does the recent climate accord between US and China mean that many countries will now forge ahead with renewables and other green solutions? I think that there are more pitfalls than many realize, at least 8.
> MPR: Oil Boom, Pipeline Safety Put Enbridge On The Spot. Plans for a new oil pipeline across northern Minnesota are bringing increased scrutiny to Enbridge. Federal data show 49 spills since 2002 on Enbridge lines in Minnesota.
> Earth Justice: A Climate Solution Within Reach: Coming Clean: The State Of U.S. Renewable Energy. How does your state stack up on the road to a cleaner energy future? 8 states, including Minnesota, rank at the top.
> University of Michigan News: Lean Times Ahead: Preparing For An Energy-Constrained Future. According to environmental psychologist Raymond De Young, at some point in this century the era of cheap and abundant energy will end, and Western industrial civilization will likely begin a long, slow descent toward a resource-limited future characterized by “involuntary simplicity.”
> Huffington Post: Challenging (Crude) Convention. Instead of being on the dawn of a new age of plenty, a careful analysis of all available data indicates the probability of near to mid-term trouble even maintaining current levels of production, let alone eliminating the chasm between US production and consumption.
> Peak Prosperity: Energy & The Economy – Crash Course Chapter 22 (Adam Taggart). We know that energy is required for both growth and complexity, that surplus energy is shrinking and that the age of cheap oil is over. We know that because of this oil costs will consume an ever-greater proportion of our total budget. And with these known facts, come along specific risks.
> Economy & Markets Daily: The Economy’s Ebb And Flow (Harry Dent). It’s human nature to overdo and over shoot everything. That’s why the economy and markets have natural mechanisms for re-balancing. Inflation stimulates investments that bring inflation down and then benefit the economy for decades to come — the killer apps like the assembly line in 1914 and the PC in the late 1970s.
> CNBC News: Rich Hoard Cash As Their Wealth Reaches Record High. With the annual gross domestic product of the U.S. closing in on the $17 trillion mark, according to the World Bank, this means that the ultra-rich now have almost twice the wealth of the world’s largest economy. Their global population will reach 250,000 individuals in the next five years, an increase of 18 percent.
> Huffington Post: Seven Years After: Why This Recovery Is Still A Turkey (Dean Baker). Usually an economy would be fully recovered from the impact of a recession seven years after its onset. Unfortunately, this is not close to being the case now.
EXPECTATIONS-ENLIGHTENMENT (Ideas • Knowledge – Psychology – Beliefs)
> The Archdruid Report: Facts, Values, And Dark Beer (J. M. Greer). The notion that life has to justify itself to me seems, if I may be frank, faintly silly, and so does the comparable claim that I have to justify my existence to it, or to anyone else.
> Resilience: A Two-Century Fight For The Small, The Local And The Beautiful (Allan Carlson). Living simply and well through the self-sufficiency of the home economy, finding meaning and identity in family and community as expressed through song and dance, and joyfully submitting to the cadences of nature: these were the common attributes of the American Agrarians.
> Resilience: Learning From Icarus (Erik Aassadourian). The challenge is ensuring that all our efforts to become more resilient make us more sustainable—and vice versa. But even if we fail at that, we should still work to stop any ‘resilience’ projects that serve to extend the reach and robustness of the consumer society. That, at least, may help cushion our eventual fall when we crash into the proverbial sea.
> MSN News: Doomsday Pope Warns Man’s Greed Will Destroy World. At the Second International Conference on Nutrition, the Pope cautioned that if men continue to be greedy about abusing natural resources to make a profit, the earth will eventually take her revenge, the Daily Mail reported.
> Resource Insights: Nuclear War: A Forgotten Threat To Human Sustainability (Kurt Cobb). The possibility of a new Cold War between Russia and the United States and its NATO allies brings with it the spectre of nuclear war, an all-but-forgotten threat since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991.
EQUALITY (Equity-Health-Social Concerns)
> Common Dreams: Do We Live On A One-Party Planet? (Martin Kirk). Introducing a new digital pamphlet designed to connect the dots on advanced-stage, 21st Century neoliberalism. “There is a force so broad, so enmeshed within the logic of modern global power, that the solutions we all work toward in the specific struggles we care most about – be that rampant inequalities in income and opportunity, widespread poverty, or climate change – are all facing it.”
> Star Tribune: Gen X Struggles As Baby Boomers, Millennials Hog Spotlight (Jackie Crosby). Generation X is struggling to come into its own, crushed between the aging baby boomers and the rising wave of millennials.
> Huffington Post: Nutrition Policies Can Address Inequalities (Michael F. Jacobson). The analysis of Americans’ diets shows just how important the campaign against trans fat has been to the public’s health — especially that of low-income Americans — and why FDA needs to bring it home.
> Sustainable America: How To Have A 100-Mile Thanksgiving (And other tips for more sustainable holidays!). In the spirit of using less fuel and supporting local farms and food artisans, we challenge you to try a 100-mile Thanksgiving (ingredients sourced from within 100 miles of your dinner table).
> US Government: Toolkit For Addressing The Challenges Of A Changing Climate (http://toolkit.climate.gov/) Here are some helpful strategies in building resilience for individuals and communities.
> Yes! Magazine: 10 Climate Conscious Cities—Electric Cars, Rooftop Farms, And Other Ways They’re Preparing For The Future. There’s no time to waste when it comes to acting on climate change. The world’s most forward-thinking cities are curbing carbon and building for a sustainable future, now.
> Our World: New Research Says Plant-Based Diet Best For Planet And People. Examining almost 50 years’ worth of data from the world’s 100 most populous countries, University of Minnesota Professor of Ecology G. David Tilman and graduate student Michael Clark illustrate how current diet trends are contributing to ever-rising agricultural greenhouse gas emissions and habitat degradation.
> Resilience: Atamai Village: An Experiment In Resilient Community. If you clue in to the kinds of dramatic changes that are coming with limits to growth, climate, energy, etc. you come to realize the personal consequences and implications: An essential element of a re-localized new paradigm is a new kind of human settlement – a resilient community.
EVENTS AND INFORMATION