SEF News-Views Digest No. 97 (7-15-15)
Last week my editorial commentary focused on exploring some differences between nationalism and patriotism. In the meantime, a potent opinion article by Stephen B. Young was published in the Star Tribune titled The Global Triumph Of Tribalism. Because the concept of tribalism is closely associated with nationalism, I’m featuring this article—and one other—in lieu of my usual commentary.
Because of belated timeliness in recognizing World Population Day (July 11th), I’m also including Burning Down The House, an article penned jointly by Tom Butler and Musimbi Kanyoro. Previously, I’ve mentioned the need to promote rational, civil discourse in the public arena regarding the increasing perils associated with an overpopulated planet. Appreciatively, this article provides a sane, well-balanced approach in discussing this most sensitive socio-political issue.
Both articles are featured in the following Enlightenment section, in the order introduced. Both are of moderate length, contain useful information, and well written. So please read them! (Clifton Ware, Editor-Publisher)
ENLIGHTENMENT (• Expectations • Ideas • Beliefs • Psychology)
> Star Tribune: The Global Triumph Of Tribalism (Stephen B. Young). People everywhere are moving up Maslow’s famous “hierarchy of needs.” Around the world, people increasingly take basic material sufficiency for granted. They therefore seek more of the self-actualizing goals of life. This leads to the “politics of identity”, a growing present danger and a time of dark intent that is creeping steadily toward us in world politics. A long era of mostly right-vs.-left ideological conflict is giving way to a new era — a new age of tribalism on a global scale.
> Resilience: Burning Down The House (Tom Butler, Musimbi Kanyoro). It’s time to talk about the size of the human family and the way we organize our economic activity (and not just on World Population Day, July 11), in language that is both honest and non-accusatory. It’s time to move beyond old arguments about whether population size or overconsumption is most culpable (both matter) and work urgently to expand rights, opportunity, and health for people in high fertility countries.
> The Archdruid Report: Darwin’s Casino (John Michael Greer). Our age has no shortage of curious features, but one of the oddest is the way that so many people these days don’t seem to be able to think through the consequences of their own beliefs. Pick any ideology, from the most devoutly religious to the most stridently secular, and you can count on finding a bumper crop of people who claim to hold that set of beliefs. They recite them with all the uncomprehending enthusiasm of a well-trained mynah bird, but haven’t noticed that those beliefs contradict other beliefs they claim to hold with equal devotion.
> Union of Concerned Scientists: The Evidence For How Fossil Fuel Companies Misled Us For Decades (Ken Kimmel). UCS has recently released a sobering report titled “The Climate Deception Dossiers”, an exposé showing how dishonest major fossil fuel companies have not taken responsibility for the harms they have caused by promoting fossil fuels that now place our climate in grave danger. Both directly and indirectly, through trade and industry groups, they have sown doubt about the science of climate change and repeatedly fought efforts to cut the emissions of dangerous heat-trapping gases.
> E&E Publishing: For Conservatives, It’s The ‘Right Time’ To Discuss Climate Change (Evan Lehmann). On July 6th a panel of conservative policy analysts agreed that the Republican Party is damaging itself by surrendering the issue of climate change to the Democratic Party. Peter Wehner, a senior fellow with the Ethics and Public Policy Center, claims that now is the ‘right time’ for conservatives to begin offering their solutions to the issue, noting that lawmakers who say they don’t know enough about the science are exposing themselves to criticism.
ENVIRONMENT (• Natural Resources • Wildlife • Climate)
> National Geographic Voices: With One-Third Of Largest Aquifers Highly Stressed, It’s Time To Explore And Assess The Planet’s Groundwater (Sandra Postel). Imagine your monthly bank statement shows how much money you’ve withdrawn and deposited, but doesn’t indicate how much money is available at the beginning or end of each month. Well, not knowing how much water is available in aquifer banks is pretty much the state we’re in with the world’s groundwater accounts, which supply 2 billion people with drinking water and irrigate a large share of the world’s food. One-third of the world’s 37 largest aquifers are highly to over stressed.
> Sustainable Food Trust: Rewilding Mind, Body And Soil (Sophia Lagen). Soil is Mother Earth’s gut – its microorganisms digest her food while her flora produce the necessary bacteria and yeasts to keep her healthy. But much like our own gut, our inability to see these flora and fauna with the naked eye leaves us disconnected from their fundamental importance. We feed our guts – and that of the plant world – with toxins and foodstuffs we know we shouldn’t, and in doing so reduce the good bacteria and increase our chances of disease.
> MinnPost: Large, Early Blazes In Unusual Places Are Shaping This Year’s Wildfire Season (Ron Meador). As of July 6th, according to the CBC, Saskatchewan had 112 active fires across the province, bringing the year-to-date total to 569. That’s nearly three times the tally for 2014, and the acreage in flames is 10 times a normal year’s. An unusual number of fires at heat waves are occurring in the Northwest region, as well as in Alaska.
> Vox: What Bees Can Teach Us About The Real Value Of Protecting Nature (Brad Plummer). A new Nature Communications study involves 90 studies on wild bees spanning five continents and 1,400 agricultural fields. They’ve learned that wild bees are just as valuable for crop pollination as managed honeybees. Researchers also found that only a small number (12.6%) of wild bee species were doing most of the work in visiting crop fields. (The rest stayed in the wild, foraging among native plants.) What’s more, just 2 percent of wild bee species accounted for 80 percent of crop visits.
> Our World: Acidic Oceans And The Coming Trouble With Fish (Tim Radford). Pink salmon, Mussels, oysters, clam and scallop could all become scarcer and more expensive as the seas become more acid. And as the world’s waters warm, fish will start to migrate away from their normal grounds at an ever-increasing rate.
ENERGY (• Carbon Based • Renewable)
> Resilience: Peak Oil Review – July 13 (Tom Whipple, ASPO-USA). A weekly review, including: Oil and the Global Economy; The Middle East and North Africa; China; Russia/Ukraine; Greece; and The Briefs.
> Peak Prosperity: Bill McKibben: The Planet’s Future Depends On Distributed Systems (Adam Taggart). My guess is that we’re going to see a rise of distributed green energy: solar and wind being the best examples. But that’s going to result in interesting effects in all kinds of ways. Such a new energy system won’t be as dependable as the one we have today, and there are people in those places who happen to sit on top of coal, and oil, and gas. This will be a different world; one in which we can meet most of our needs for energy close to home. [Listen to podcast or read script.]
> Columbus Business First: Here’s Why Big Business Is Making The Move To On-Site Power Generation (Tom Knox). More than half of big businesses in the U.S. generate some of their power on-site, marking a continued shift toward distributed generation among major electric users. Just two years ago, only a third of large businesses responding to a Deloitte poll said they generate some power onsite. Last year, it was 44 percent.
> Our Finite World: What Greece, Cyprus, And Puerto Rico Have In Common (Gail Tverberg). Along with the financial problems experienced by Greece, Cyprus, and Puerto Rico is the commonality of their high proportion of oil-based energy use. Among European nations, Cyprus, Greece, and Portugal use the most oil, followed by Italy, Spain, and Ireland, all of which are experiencing economic problems. Most people don’t understand that our world economy runs on cheap energy.
ECONOMY (• Finances • Commerce • Global-Local)
> Weathering The Storm: The Chinese Ripple Effect (Michael Conley). News Flash has reported frequently on the danger of bursting bubbles and how they could trigger a perfect storm (See: “Bubblemania is Contagious“). To put it in perspective: Greece is troublesome, but a Chinese economic meltdown could be catastrophic.
> CASSE-The Daly News: The Pope Francis Encyclical And Its Economics (Brent Blackwelder). The Encyclical Letter of Pope Francis is attracting extraordinary attention for its message on global warming, deforestation, loss of biological diversity, and other pressing environmental issues. What is less well known is the extensive critique of the global economy found in his 184-page Encyclical. This blog highlights some of the significant points that Pope Francis makes about the need for systemic economic change.
> Feasta: The Greece And Eurozone Crisis Made Simple (Brian Davey). The common currency zone is stuck in an unresolvable dilemma. All the twists and turns have merely been “kicking the can down the road” – and each time the problem re-surfaces it is bigger and more threatening. What does “kicking the can down the road” mean? It means borrowing more in order to pay back the last lot of loans. Davey argues that the missing component in most discussion of the Eurozone crisis is the fact that it is linked to energy supply and the limits to growth.
> Yes! Magazine: Main Street Comeback: How Independent Stores Are Thriving (Even In The Age Of Amazon) (Fran Korten). Despite behemoths like Starbucks and Amazon, the number of independent bookstores, coffee shops, and other businesses is growing, including bookstores. In 2009 there were 1,651 independent bookstores in the United States. Today there are more than 1,900.
> The Sovereign Investor: Is The American Economy Really Recovering? (Jeff D. Opdyke). In short: Our American economy is not in a good way on the jobs front, which explains why nearly a decade into this supposed “recovery,” the American economy — our foundation — is not in a good way, period. In going through the list of job losses and job gains in the American economy, the message is not one of a new foundation of strength. It’s one of disappointment at how far we’ve actually sunk as a country. We’ve traded high-paying jobs for low-paying jobs, and that undermines the predominantly consumer-driven American economy.
EQUITY (• Equality • Health • Social Concerns • Political Power)
> Yes! Magazine: Truth And Reconciliation At Work: How These Commissions Help Heal Wounds From Racial Injustice (Fania Davis). Truth and reconciliation processes hold special promise for addressing the U.S. epidemic of racial violence, exposing its deep historical roots, and working toward reconciliation. Truth-telling encounters between those who have caused harm and those who have been harmed can promote accountability, address the needs of everyone affected, and lay a foundation for reconciliation, justice, and transformed social structures.
> The Washington Post: Scientists Have Discovered That Living Near Trees Is Good For Your Health (Chris Mooney). In a new paper published Thursday by a team of researchers, a compelling case for why urban neighborhoods filled with trees are better for your physical health. The research appeared in the open access journal Scientific Reports. Reasons include improvement of air quality and psychological effects, such as stress reduction.
> The Guardian: To Slash The Amount Of Money Spent On Homelessness, Just Give Homes Away (Susan Campbell). The traditional US response to homelessness is to treat it as an emergency situation, putting people in temporary shelter until permanent housing turns up, a system that is significantly flawed and bureaucracy-clogged. It’s better to house the homeless, as liberal Connecticut and conservative-state Utah. Until other states catch up, we can count on continued homelessness
ENGAGEMENT (• Goals • Activism • Solutions)
> The Commons Transition: Community Land Trusts, Urban Land Reform And The Commons (Mike Lewis & Pat Conaty). An argument for Community Land Trusts in detail in the authors’ book The Resilience Imperative – Co-operative Transitions to a Steady-state Economy. As the crisis of affordability grows, the capacity of governments to deal with it seems to diminish. CLTs are a strategy that removes land from the housing market without disconnecting residents from their interest in owning, maintaining, and improving buildings.
> Resilience: I Love My Rain Barrel (Gracie Johnson, Strong Towns Blog). Given how important food production and water use are to the strength of a place, one of the best things we can do as Strong Citizens is to plant a garden and catch and store the rain. I’ve been slow to the rain barrel game, but it finally happened and I’m delighted.
> Yard Farmers: Futureproofing America With A Yardfarming Revolution (Erik Assadourian). So how do we create new jobs, rebuild local economies, bring back local agriculture, and make societies more resilient to climate change and potential disruptions in global food trade? Answer: Convert America’s 40 million acres of lawns into sustainable “yard farms”, thereby reducing demand for industrial agriculture, remissions from lawn mowing, and the three-million tons of chemical fertilizers and 30,000 tons of pesticides being wasted on maintaining green mono-cropped lawns.
EVENTS AND INFORMATION
> Alaska Wilderness League: sHELL No! Drilling In The Arctic (Float For The Future Day), Sat., July 18, 11am, Lake Calhoun (north shore), Mpls. Kayaktivists & Canoeists needed. Info: firstname.lastname@example.org; Alaska Wilderness League Website
> MN350: Climate Change Activism. For list of activities, see Website.
> University of Wisconsin: Energy And The Earth. A free online offering gives a big picture perspective on energy issues. Participate for free and at your own pace: www.moocs.wisc.edu*