EDITOR (Clifton Ware) — Come, Let Us Learn Together
It’s a rare situation when seekers of knowledge (truth) can gather to discuss serious issues—openly, respectfully, and intelligently. Hot topics are usually avoided in company of strangers, or when friends, colleagues, family members, and acquaintances may either be reluctant to discuss certain topics, or too opinionated to discuss any topic with an open mind.
There are numerous groups dedicated to addressing specific interests, as an online search of Meetup reveals (http://www.meetup.com/). Although there are few educationally oriented groups dedicated to studying and discussing sustainability issues, a little sleuthing may reveal suitable groups (Sierra Club, Bioneers, Transition Towns, etc.). Several groups exist in the Twin Cities area, including our newly organized Sustainability Education Forum (SEF).
SEF seeks to offer all participants the freedom to present and discuss topics related to sustainability issues in a friendly, positive atmosphere. In addition to gaining greater knowledge and understanding of major sustainability issues, we seek realistic, practical solutions that will help us prepare for a somewhat predictable future of converging crises, including the all-pervasive effects of climate change on the planet and all life forms.
The room we use in the St. Anthony Village Library has seating for up to 20 persons. Our group currently consists of 10 persons of various career backgrounds, as well as various experiences associated with sustainability issues. This is an ideal sized group for stimulating discussion, but we can easily accommodate several more participants.
If you’ve been putting off the idea of joining a discussion group, now is a good time to start learning as much as possible about creating greater resilience and sustainability—in the amiable company of persons who share similar values and concerns. We invite you to join us for our January 10th Forum (information follows).
> SUSTAINABILITY EDUCATION FORUM: DISCUSSION OF RELEVANT NEWS-VIEWS FOR 2015 (including information provided in SEF newsletters). Sat., Jan. 10th, 2:30-4:30 p.m., St. Anthony Village Library, SAV Shopping Center, Pentagon Drive. Free. Info/RSVP: firstname.lastname@example.org
ENVIRONMENT (Natural Resources-Wildlife-Climate)
> Upworthy: A Drone Flew Over A Pig Farm To Discover It’s Not Really A Farm. If you have a strong stomach for dirty stories, this article and video will explain the gross indecencies produced by corporate hog farms.
>NPR: Road Salt Contributes To Toxic Chemical Levels In Streams. There’s growing awareness that the coarse mix of sodium chloride and other chemicals that makes driving and walking a little easier may also cause harm to the environment and health of living things.
> The Guardian: Pope Francis’s Edict On Climate Change Will Anger Deniers And US Churches (John Vidal). In 2015, the pope will issue a lengthy message on the subject to the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, give an address to the UN general assembly and call a summit of the world’s main religions. In recent months, the pope has argued for a radical new financial and economic system to avoid human inequality and ecological devastation.
> Climate Progress: Irreversible But Not Unstoppable: The Ghost Of Climate Change Yet To Come (Joe Romm). If humanity gets truly serious about emissions reduction — and by serious I mean “World War II serious” in both scale and urgency — we could go to near-zero global emissions in, say, two decades and then quickly go carbon negative. It wouldn’t be easy, far from it in fact. But it would be vastly cheaper and preferable to the alternative.
> Climate Desk: 2014 Was The Year We Finally Started To Do Something About Climate Change (James West). This was a big year for climate news, good and bad. While there was plenty of anti-science rhetoric and opposition to climate action (no, the polar vortex does not disprove climate change), the year came to an end with at least three landmark climate-related stories. Watch the video.
> Resilience-Mud City Press: Review: Don’t Even Think About It By George Marshall (Frank Kaminski). This book delves into psychological processes and even brain architecture that underlie humans’ compulsion to disregard, refute and skew evidence of difficult facts. Marshall argues that these insights are critical to mobilizing public opinion on climate change.
ENERGY (Fossil Carbon • Natural Resources • Renewables)
> Peak Prosperity: Keep Your Eyes On The Prize (Chris Martenson). At the essential center of the framework of the Crash Course is the almost insultingly simple idea that endless growth on a finite planet is an impossibility. At the very heart of endless growth lies the matter of energy. To grow forever requires infinite amounts of energy. Growth and energy are linked in a causal way.
> CASSE-The Daly News: A Stick In The Stocking: Santa’s Supply Shock (Brian Czech). Recent talk of “supply shock” is a wake-up call for the sustainability of Big Capital, the little man, and everyone in between. The latest news of cheap oil notwithstanding, we are moving inexorably into the era of Supply Shock (“supply parties”), in which natural resources and environmental services become the limiting factors for human wellbeing; so limiting in fact, that wellbeing declines quickly and ubiquitously.
> The New York Times: What North Dakota Would Look Like if Its Oil Drilling Lines Were Aboveground. More than 11,000 oil wells have been drilled in North Dakota since 2006. In all, almost 40,000 miles of well bores have been drilled underground to connect the fracking operations to surface wells. Laid end to end, they would circle the Earth about one and a half times.
> Oil Voice: Five Energy Surprises For 2015: The Possible And The Improbable (Kurt Cobb). I am not predicting that any of the following will happen, and they will be surprises to most people if they do. But, I think there is an outside chance that one or more will occur, and this would move markets and policy debates in unexpected directions.
> Huffpost: A Dozen Reasons 2014 Was Awesome For Clean Energy & Beyond Coal Victories (Mary Anne Hitt). From small towns to big cities, we saw inspiring coalitions of diverse groups and organizations working together to protect communities from coal’s pollution and ramp up clean energy.
> The Washington Post: Why America’s Middle Class Is Lost. Over the past 25 years, the economy has grown 83 percent, after adjusting for inflation. In that time, the typical family’s income hasn’t budged, and corporate profits doubled as a share of the economy. Workers today produce nearly twice as many goods and services per hour as they did in 1989, but they get less of the nation’s economic pie.
> Yes! Magazine-Shareable: Owning Together Is The New Sharing (Nathan Schneider). The line between workers and customers has never been so blurry. Online platforms depend on their users, and pressure is mounting all over the Internet. People are tired of seeing their communities treated like commodities, and they’re looking for ways to build platforms of their own.
> The Archdruid Report: The Cold Wet Mackerel Of Reality (J.M. Greer). For most Americans, the last four years have been a bleak era of soaring expenses, shrinking incomes and benefits, rising economic insecurity, and increasingly frequent and bitter struggles with dysfunctional institutions that no longer bother even to pretend to serve the public good. When recalling 2015, people may label it the year in which America got slapped across its collective face with the cold wet mackerel of reality.
EXPECTATIONS-ENLIGHTENMENT (Ideas • Knowledge – Psychology – Beliefs)
> Peak Prosperity: Future Shock – Crash Course Chapter 25 (Adam Taggart). Simply put: We’ve lived well beyond our economic, energetic and ecological budgets. It’s time to change that. It is time, to return to living within our means. We need to set priorities, set budgets, and stick to both.
> ENSIA: Our Top 10 Stories Of 2014. Here are some of Ensia’s most frequently read articles and commentaries from 2014.
> Common Dreams: New Year’s Resolution For America (Dennis Kucinich). It is for us to gather the knowledge and resources, the strength and determination, to regenerate the soil, protect the land, purify the air, preserve the water, in a ceremony of personal, civic and political engagement which protects and celebrates the natural world as the precondition of life itself.
> Yes! Magazine: Can You Imagine A City Where Trees And Swing Sets Matter More Than Cars? (Jason F. McLennan). To take control of our next evolution, we must embrace and prioritize what it means to be human; what it means to live in concert with nature. Creating a truly living community will mean changing our role on—and as a part of—the planet.
EQUALITY (Equity-Health-Social Concerns)
> The Atlantic: 17 Things We Learned About Income Inequality In 2014. Earnings growth for the richest Americans has been outpacing the income growth of the lower and middle classes since the 1970s, according to data from the Congressional Budget Office. That means that income inequality is not a new concept. So why does it suddenly feel like such a big deal?
> Common Dreams: Greed Kings Of 2014: How They Stole From Us (Paul Buchheit). Greedy individuals or corporations have regularly taken much of our country’s new wealth in wrongful ways, either through nonpayment of taxes or failure to compensate other contributors to their successes.
> The New York Times: As Feared, It’s A Season Of High Flu Intensity. Nationwide, we’re on track for a nasty flu season, with both a large number of cases and many severe ones that require hospitalizations, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It declared an influenza epidemic this week, a status achieved at some point nearly every year, though not usually this early in the season.
> Common Dreams: The Battle Of Our Time: Breaking The Spell Of The Corporate State (Nozomi Hayase). In previous decades, untamed predatory capitalism has risen to a new level in the form of a corporatocracy, creating the world’s first truly global empire. This small segment of society, acting with a will to power—as if they are superior to the rest of mankind, has successfully enslaved large parts of the world population to their sense of grandiose entitlement.
> Resilience: The Story Of Hudson Valley Seed Library. Ken Greene began the Hudson Valley Seed Library (HVSL) out of the Gardiner Public Library (NY), initially just adding the seed varietals to the library catalog as another item that patrons could “check out.” There are now over 300 seed libraries, seed swaps, seed exchanges, and community seed banks all over the country.
> The Guardian: Opinion: Let’s Leave Behind The Age Of Fossil Fuel. Welcome To Year One Of The Climate Revolution (Rebecca Solnit). If everyone who’s passionate about climate change understands that we’re living in a decisive moment for the fate of the Earth and humanity finds their place in the movement, amazing things could happen. What’s happening now is already remarkable enough, just not yet adequate to the crisis.
> Star Tribune: Recycling Your Tree Can Be Gift For The Environment (Tori J. McCormick). Recycled conifers can go back into nature to be used for landscaping, conservation and wildlife habitat projects. If it’s too late to recycle your tree this year, keep it in mind for future seasons.
> Huffpost:10 Ways To Be More Environmentally Friendly (Ashley Massis). Even one environmentally friendly change can help our growing climate change issues. No only will you be lessening your carbon footprint, but can reduce your costs with these environmentally friendly tips.
EVENTS AND INFORMATION
> Minnesota Renewable Energy Society: “Climate Change and Public Health”. Presenter: Bruce D. Snyder, MD FAAN Clinical Professor of Neurology, University of Minnesota Medical School; Thursday, January 8th, 5:30 to 7:00 pm, Mayflower Church, 106 East Diamond Lake, Mpls., Map
> Minnesota Environmental Partnership: Minnesota’s Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment Fifth Anniversary Celebration and Forum, Thurs., Jan.15, 2015, Noon to 6 p.m. (program begins at 12:30) Minneapolis Marriott Northwest, 7025 Northland Drive North, Brooklyn Park, MN 55428 Fee: $10.To register click here.
> Eastside Food Co-op: Movie Night—Fed Up (The film the food industry doesn’t want you to see), Thurs., Jan. 22, 6:30 p.m., EFC Granite Studio. Free; RSVP email@example.com or 612-843-5409
> CERTs: CERTs 2015 Conference: Community Driven Clean Energy, March 10-11, 2015, St. Cloud, MN Agenda; Register to Attend