SEF News-Views Digest No. 153 (11-16-16)
Clifton Ware, Editor-Publisher
What a tempestuous week this has been! We Americans are apparently evenly split into two major camps. While conservatives joyfully celebrate their presidential victory, defeated progressives sadly bemoan their losses and lick their wounds. Anger, denial, and grieving are profusely evident in the progressive camp. But it seems to me that the sooner everyone accepts the current reality and moves on—and forward—the better off we’ll be.
As expected, the media—mainstream, upstream, and downstream—have produced an outpouring of commentaries that reflect the main ideological perspectives of the two major parties, with minor attention given to views of independents, greens, and libertarians. In this newsletter issue, experts associated with a variety of sustainability-oriented views are featured, particularly notable proponents of environmental and social causes, with climate change as a major topic.
My favorite historian-futurist-writer, John Michael Greer, blew my mind last January, when he wrote his first post on the improbable rise of Donald Trump. He was the lone progressive writer making such an outlandish prediction, causing me to question his expertise. Well, I was wrong, and he was right. As he states in his latest posting (see Views): “Right up to last week’s pre-election wrapup I tried to keep the discussion focused on issues: what policies each candidate could be expected to support once the next administration took office [rather than focusing on personality characteristics]”.
Several views are expressed in the following articles in the Views section, which is larger than usual. Topics range from rational analyses about the what, why, and how of the election process (see R. Parry, C. Collins, C. Martenson), to various emotionally-charged expressions about what progressives should be thinking and doing now and in the near future to regain a progressive national agenda. One approach suggests remaining calm and observant, allowing events to unfold over time (see R. Heinberg). Other approaches suggest more aggressive activism and campaigning: first, by working cooperatively and collaboratively with conservatives to influence decisions on critical issues (see C. White, J. Foran); second, by protesting any proposals or programs that endanger progressive causes; and, third, striving to mitigate any anticipated or actual damage caused by conservative legislation.
Some interesting proposals are also offered as solutions and reasons for hope. Greer’s idea that a renewal of the American federalism tradition, which moves some of the powers of central government to the states [or regions] seems worthy of serious consideration. As for creating hope, Jeremy Deaton presents six reasons for being hopeful. And in the Solutions section, Fran Korten and Jenna Amatulli provide some effective coping techniques, and the TED talk interview with Jonathan Heidt offers inspiring thoughts and ways of healing our divided country. Please make time to read some of these informative articles. What we think and do now will make a big difference as we move on—and forward. We can do it!
> The Archdruid Report: Reflections On A Democracy In Crisis (John Michael Greer). The United States at this point in its history may still be a single republic, but it’s not a single nation—and it could be argued on reasonably solid grounds that it never has been. [See American Nations by Collin Woodard] The election of Donald Trump was not merely a rebuke to the liberal left; it was also a defeat for the religious right. It’s time to consider a renewal of the traditions of American federalism: a systematic devolution of power from the overinflated federal government to the states, and from the states to the people. We need a new social compact under which all Americans agree to back away from the politics of personal vilification that dominated all sides in the election just over, let go of the supposed right to force everyone in the country to submit to any one set of social and moral views, and approach the issues that divide us with an eye toward compromise, negotiation, and mutual respect.
> Peak Prosperity: Get Ready… Change Is Upon Us (Chris Martenson). The cultural divide that’s really in play today is not between the ‘enlightened/progressive’ people and their supposed opposites. Rather, it’s Urban vs Rural. And as the rural dwellers have increasingly felt marginalized, demonized and otherwise unfairly treated, they are now angry enough at the perceived injustice to lash out against the status quo and roll the dice with an outsider who promises to shake things up. America’s Ruling Elite has transmogrified into an incestuous self-serving few unapologetically plundering the many. In their hubris-soaked arrogance, their right to rule is unquestioningly based on their moral and intellectual superiority to “the little people” they loot with abandon. Redistribution of money and power seem to happen peacefully only rarely among humans, and virtually never in America. When you add up both the debts and the liabilities of the US, those are more than 1,000% of current GDP. Prediction: Somebody is going to have to eat the projected massive losses. So our recent decades of economic peace must end. Not only are massive, obvious economic issues going to unavoidably visit the US in the not-too-distant future, but they’ll be doing so at a time when many critical resources will be in decline. It’s not just time to heal; it’s imperative that we do.
> Common Dreams: Why Trump Won And Why Clinton Lost (Robert Parry). In the end, Hillary Clinton became the face of a corrupt, arrogant and out-of-touch Establishment, while Donald Trump emerged as an almost perfectly imperfect vessel for a populist fury that had bubbled beneath the surface of America. Trump’s victory marks a repudiation of the neocon/liberal-hawk orthodoxy because the New Cold War was largely incubated in neocon/liberal-hawk think tanks, brought to life by likeminded officials in the U.S. State Department, and nourished by propaganda across the mainstream Western media. The American voters have plunged the United States and the world into uncharted territory behind a President-elect who lacks a depth of knowledge on a wide variety of issues. Who will guide a President Trump becomes the most pressing issue today.
> Resilience: My Thoughts Following The Election (Richard Heinberg). On the good side: Under a Trump presidency, there is likely to be no war with Russia, as might well have occurred if Clinton had prevailed. The TPP is hopefully dead, and the U.S. can be expected to move toward at least some post-globalization trade policies. The neoliberals’ dominance of the Democratic Party suffered a grievous and perhaps fatal blow. On the bad side: There will be no more federal support for climate action or research, for environmental protection (the EPA will be gutted), or for alternative energy. All federal lands will be opened up for oil, gas, and coal exploration. With Republicans dominating, there will be no brakes on efforts to defund government agencies, or overturn regulations of all kinds (on guns, banks, workplace safety, you name it). It’s hard to see how civility can return anytime soon, with dire times for women and minorities.
> Transition Milwaukee: Why I’m Not Devastated (Erik Linberg). Actually I am a bit devastated, but not nearly as much as most people from my liberal neck of the woods, mainly because I am lucky enough to have stumbled, about eight years ago, into a world of political activism that lives beyond the current political divide. Like many in the “deep sustainability” world, then, I had already begun the difficult and painful reworking of my hopes and expectations to fit the world I think we actually live in. From this perspective, Trump was not a surprise; rather he was an unwelcome sign of a terrible sickness, with which I had come to believe over the course of several years we, as a culture and society, are afflicted—all of us, not just those who reached for the Trump lever with anger, hate, and despair. For a while, now, I have been considering the world from a standpoint beyond the world of partisan rivalry . . . from the standpoint of resource depletion, climate instability, human displacement, and economies that have reached the limits of growth
> Inequality: Trump And The Two Sides Of Populism (Chuck Collins). The 2016 election and the rise of both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump can be explained by growing inequality and the nature of populist movements. Understanding this creates potential for serious radical change. The architects of our economy—both Republicans and Democrats—shouldn’t be surprised that there is backlash after decades of shifting most of our economy’s income and wealth gains to a small segment of wealthy people and global corporations. An unequal economy gives rise to a polarized politics. The election of 2016 was a wake-up call but also evidence of a deeper realignment around inequality issues—one with lessons and possibilities for a progressive populist movement. Inequality and economic insecurity give rise to both progressive populism and regressive populism. The Bernie Sanders campaign embodied progressive populism with its focus on how the rules of the economy are rigged for the benefit of billionaires and a couple hundred transnational corporations. The regressive populism of Trump acknowledges people’s economic insecurity, but directs its grievances toward scapegoats.
> Resilience: Reintroducing The Concept Of “The Radical Center” (Courtney White). If we don’t work together right now, things are going to fall apart. We’re at a tipping point. Either we figure out a way to work together and stay united as a nation, or everything will come undone. It’s not just about economic or cultural divides in America, the forces of dissolution are also being fanned by a deteriorating climate in the shape of ever more frequent fire, flood, and drought. Think income inequality is bad and worth fighting over? Wait until water shortages hit. I’ll offer one solution: the radical center, “a grassroots coming-together of diverse people to discuss their common interests rather than argue their differences and who agree to work cooperatively on a pragmatic program of action that improves the well-being of all living things.”
> Huffington Post: History Tells Us What Will Happen Next With Brexit and Trump (Tobias Stone). We humans have a habit of going into phases of mass destruction, generally self-imposed to some extent or another. Wars are actually the norm for humans, but every now and then something big comes along. But a defining feature of humans is their resilience. At a local level in time, people think things are fine—then things rapidly spiral out of control, and massive destruction results. For the people living in the midst of this, it is hard to see happening and hard to understand. Later, to historians it all makes sense as it becomes clear how one thing led to another. My point is that this is a cycle. It happens again and again. But as with before, most people cannot see it because: 1) They are only looking at the present, not the past or future; 2) They are only looking immediately around them, not at how events connect globally; and 3) Most people don’t read, think, challenge or hear opposing views. Trump is doing this in America.
> Resilience: The Coming Of Trumpism, The World In 2050, And Us (John Foran). No one individual’s words or actions can undo this [environmental and political] damage. Now, we will need to bring all our gifts to the table, freely offered and collectively shared. Our potential to cross lines and bridge divides that disable the coalitions we need to build. The unrestricted play of our ability to re-imagine, envision, and begin to patiently and concretely create alternatives that lead to the futures we want. That peaceful warrior Dan Millman (via Sailesh Rao) believes that “The secret of change is to focus all of our energies, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” Now, it seems, we must find the secret of change in focusing all of our energies, not only on fighting the old and the new, but on building the new at the same time.
> Think Progress: Here Are Six Reasons Not To Give Up Hope (Jeremy Deaton). Many people are fearing the worst. Trump, an avowed climate denier, has pledged to kill the Clean Power Plan, end clean energy research and development, and pull out of the Paris Agreement. Together, his policies could kneecap national and international efforts to curb global warming. But there are things that the president cannot take away, such as: 1) Cities and states are the new front lines in the fight to stop global warming; 2) Clean energy is getting cheaper; 3) The Paris Agreement isn’t totally screwed; 4) Americans love clean energy; 5) Coal isn’t coming back; and 6) There is strength in numbers (environmental movement).
> Washington Post: Trump Victory Reverses U.S. Energy And Environmental Priorities (Steven Mufson, Brady Dennis). While vowing to “cancel” the international Paris climate accord Obama championed, Trump would also rearrange domestic energy and environmental priorities. He wants to open up federal lands to oil and gas drilling and coal mining. He wants to eliminate regulations he calls needless. He would scrap proposed regulations for tighter methane controls on domestic drillers. And he wants to shrink the role of the Environmental Protection Agency to a mostly advisory one and pull back the Clean Power Plan, Obama’s proposed plan to push utilities toward lower carbon emissions. Although Trump has portrayed himself as the ultimate outsider, in putting together a transition team the New York real estate mogul has chosen veteran Washington insiders, many of them lobbyists for fossil fuel companies and skeptics about climate science.
> NPG: Growth Of Foreign-Born Population Surges As U.S. Economy Recovers (David Simcox). Census projections proclaim that, with Americans’ fertility falling and deaths soon to begin rising, immigration—not natural increase—will become the principal driver of U.S. population growth as early as 2023 (Rubenstein, 2016). A September 2014 Census projection estimated that, despite some slowing growth attributed to the 2008 recession and aftermath, as well as to improved conditions within Mexico since 2000, the nation’s foreign-born population reached 43.2 million in 2015. This represents a net increase of 12.2 million—a rise of almost 40 percent—since 2000 after subtracting emigration and deaths of the foreign-born (Colby and Ortman, 2015). The 43.2 million figure would include legal and illegal immigrants, plus nearly 2.0 million foreign-born sojourners living in the country under the increasing number of long-term but nominally temporary visa, parole and deferred deportation arrangements.
> The Guardian: Global ‘Greening’ Has Slowed Rise Of CO2 In The Atmosphere, Study Finds (Damian Carrington). A global “greening” of the planet has significantly slowed the rise of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere since the start of the century, according to new research. More plants have been growing due to higher CO2 levels in the air and warming temperatures that cut the CO2 emitted by plants via respiration. The effects led the proportion of annual carbon emissions remaining in the air to fall from about 50% to 40% in the last decade. However, this greening is only offsetting a small amount of the billions of tons of CO2 emitted from fossil fuel burning and other human activities and will not halt dangerous global warming. The research also shows the importance of preserving forests and other ecosystems that absorb carbon, said Prof Dave Reay, at the University of Edinburgh.
> Culture Change: The Unconnected And Unrewarded In The New Divisive Dichotomy (Jan Lundberg). To be able to use a mobile cellphone is nowadays considered to be crucial by billions of people. Many reach the point of having to simply be online always, or almost always. As a new goal for human interaction, one must always stay in touch or be on call. To go in the opposite direction risks exclusion and derision, as the simple alternative to being “connected” is scary for many. It is interesting to wonder just how much society and human rights can be quickly impacted by technology and managerial control systems. Diversity is taking a hit when the “value” of often being online and supporting the telecommunications industry and its advertising partners are “the only game in town.” Minorities have always had to make demands for their own self-preservation. Maybe it comes down to this ethic and philosophy: live fast, or live better—one can’t have both.
> Yes! Magazine: 10 Ways To Cope With What Just Happened (Fran Korten). Here are 10 things I will do to ready myself for what lies ahead. You may find them helpful, too: 1) ground yourself; 2) allow the grief; 3) be with friends; 4) take a media break; 5) take care of the children; 6) reach out to anyone threatened; 7) don’t dismiss the Trump voters; 8) think local; 9) take care of yourself; and 10) take the long view. Martin Luther King’s words can hold us: “The long arc of history bends toward justice.”
> Huffington Post: if You’re Overwhelmed By The Election, Here’s What You Can Do Now (Jenna Amatulli). If the thought of President Trump in the Oval Office has you contemplating a move to Canada, think again. There are other, more healthful things for you to do than give up. Here are a list of positive things you can do right now.
> TED Talks: Jonathan Haidt: Can A Divided America Heal? (Interview: video & script). How can the U.S. recover after the negative, partisan presidential election of 2016? Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt studies the morals that form the basis of our political choices. In conversation with TED Curator Chris Anderson, he describes the patterns of thinking and historical causes that have led to such sharp divisions in America—and provides a vision for how the country might move forward. Heidt says: “I’m hoping it [the election divide] will make people see that we have an existential threat on our hands. Our left-right divide, I believe, is by far the most important divide we face. We still have issues about race and gender and LGBT, but this is the urgent need of the next 50 years, and things aren’t going to get better on their own. So we’re going to need to do a lot of institutional reforms.”
> STIR to Action: The Future Of Work (Jose Ramos). Amid the hyperbole about the future of work, the real winners are those that benefit from neoliberalism—the large-investment class, the captains of industry, and the oligarchs. The losers are the already marginal and those losing their jobs. Rather than accepting the popular ‘used future’ visions of neoliberalism based on automation, robotics, and entrepreneurship, we need to consider more authentic and empowering ideas of the future, for example, a ‘commons economy’, which does not create wealth for some at the expense of others. The way out of this dilemma is to starve the current system of our money and energy, invest our energy and money in pro-commons enterprises, and more radically find ways to decouple ourselves from this extractive system altogether. We need a post-growth economy in which the economic growth agenda does not sideline all other agendas, ecological and social, and where growth is framed in terms of wellbeing-enhancing activity.
> Resilience: Scrap The Conventional Model Of Third World “Development” (Ted Trainer). When development means maximizing GDP via competition in the global market economy, Third World productive capacity inevitably benefits the rich, with little ”trickling down” to poor majorities, who experience gross inequality and injustice. The following basic principles of the alternative path contradict conventional development theory. The main goal is to enable people to immediately begin applying the existing resources and productive capacity around them to producing the mostly simple things that are most needed to give them the highest possible quality of life at the least cost in labor, resources and environmental impact. Self-help guidelines include focusing on cooperative, collective programs, living more simply, emphasizing local economic self-sufficiency along with social and ecological goals, using government support, and preserving cultural traditions.
> Common Dreams: Eight Ways To Strengthen Our Democracy Beyond Voting (Chuck Collins). The success of any democracy depends on continuing to pay attention long after we cast our ballots. So let’s pledge to strengthen our democracy with a few resolutions to focus our intentions and keep us moving forward over the next four years, by: changing our media diet; turning off corporate media; rejecting the consumer mentality in elections; making your voice heard by communicating with elected officials year round; trying a social media fast; practicing the art of civil discourse; repealing Citizens United to stop the wealth primary; and breaking the two-party duopoly. In sum, the strength of our civic life depends on what we do outside of elections.
> The Guardian: This Is Humankind’s ‘Great Urbanisation’. We Must Do It Right, Or The Planet Will Pay (Dimitri Zenghelis, Nicholas Stern). Cities are at the heart of the process of human development, innovation and productivity growth. The world is moving to cities, and those we build over the next few decades will broadly define the urban centers we are stuck with for generations to come. Cities that are poorly planned risk leaving humanity with a hostile and potentially deadly climate. At the UN’s Habitat III conference in Ecuador last month, global leaders and urban experts signed into force the New Urban Agenda, a blueprint for the next 20 years of urban transformation. It set out an ambitious and laudable vision of more compact cities and public transport-based development—but the real test will be in the implementation. New mechanisms to finance investments in urban infrastructure and smart technology need to be developed.
> Huffington Post: If We Want To Stop Climate Change, We’re Going To Pay For It (Nick Visser). The consensus among the government officials and leaders of private businesses who met last Friday for the second annual Climate Finance Day was to spend less money in fossil fuels and more in green technology, before it’s too late. But making that shift in investment is far more complicated in practice, as the world struggles to wean itself from the easily obtained energy sources that have garnered billions in profits in the industrial age. But the fight will be long, and it will be expensive. Addressing climate change is expected to cost the world tens of billions of dollars annually through 2020, in the form of efforts to curb emissions and adaptations to changes that are already underway. Strategies include investing immediately in renewable energy, taxing carbon emissions, promoting sustainable development, and holding realistic expectations.
> Weathering The Storm: The Biomimicry Institute (Matt Hoiland). The Biomimicry Institute, founded in 2006 by Byrony Schwan and Janine Benyus, is a global leader in the innovation of more environmentally benign technology. Biomimicry is an emerging discipline in which designers, engineers and innovators ask, “What problem am I trying to solve that nature has already figured out?” Biomimicry-inspired manufacturing uses low-temperature, low-pressure processes, along with green chemistry, dramatically lowering energy consumption and greatly reducing pollution. For more information, watch Biomimicry, a beautifully produced, awe-inspiring 21-minute video explaining biomimicry in greater detail, as narrated by Janine Benyus.
> Resilience: Reinventing Farming For Better Food And A Better Future (Jay Walljasper). Essex Farm, a 600-acre spread in the Adirondacks owned and operated by Kristin and Mark Kimbel, is where the future of American agriculture is being radically reconceived. Members of their “full-diet” CSA (community supported agriculture) receive a weekly year-round Cornucopia that includes various types of meats, fresh veggies, and fruit. This transformative vision of farming provides people local, wholesome food at a reasonable cost using methods that restore the earth, reinvigorate rural communities and fight climate change. Two years ago the couple launched the Essex Farm Institute to share what they are learning, and to draw attention to regenerative farming as one answer to climate change. The agricultural Institute operates as an agriculture school, offering demonstration projects, public events, an internship program and classes covering topics that promote carbon farming.
> Growth Busters: Black Phenomenon (Dave Gardner). “Boycott the Shopacolypse this Thanksgiving” is Gardner’s theme. His film, GrowthBusters, features one man (Gardner) taking on City Hall, Wall St., and the pope, as he questions society’s most fundamental beliefs about prosperity. Free screening link.
> Nativity Lutheran Church: Sustainability And Equity Series: No. 3 “Things You Can Do In Creating Sustainability” (Lona Doolan, CFS), , , Fellowship Hall, 3312 Silver Lake Rd., St. Anthony Village, MN.
> Climate Reality: 24 Hours Of Reality: The Road Forward, Worldwide events promoting climate change solutions, ; mark your calendars.
> MN Environmental Partnership (MEP) Upcoming Environmental Events. See website: http://www.mepartnership.org/events/ (search by month)
> MN350: Climate Campaigns And Projects. For a listing of campaigns, projects, and events, see: http://www.mn350.org/campaigns-projects/
> Alliance For Sustainability: Linking Citizens, Congregations And Cities For Sustainable Communities. See Projects: http://www.afors.org/
> National Geographic: Before The Flood Documentary & Years of Living Dangerously. Watch “Before The Flood” via streaming; narrated by actor-environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio. Link: Leonardo DiCaprio “Before the Flood” Full Movie (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N26b4lgWMVI); also,
> Michael More: Where To Invade Next, Trailer “The American Dream” is alive elsewhere, and needs to be imported back. Countries visited and lessons learned.
> Weathering The Storm, Michael Conley, Founder-Speaker-Author, Seminars & Presentations; Several offerings: News Flash; Newsletter; Information Services; OLLI Course Hand-outs; Best Practices; Buy The Book (Lethal Trajectories)
> Growthbusters: Conversation Earth – Exploring Our Place on the Planet (Dave Gardner, Interviewer). This weekly Radio Series & Podcast provides surprising perspectives from leading thinkers on the most important issues of our time. Also, here are direct Links to 1st Episodes of Paving Paradise: #1 – World Population Day & Water in the West; #2 – The Local Growth Machine; #3 – Drinking the Pro-Growth Kool-Aid
> Population Growth: Population Clock – Poodwaddle World Clock. Watch the population increase minute by minute.
> Bloomberg News: Bloomberg Carbon Clock. A real-time estimate of the global monthly atmospheric CO2 level.
> US Debt Clock: U.S. National Debt Clock: Real Time. Every aspect of the economy is documented.
> Happy Planet Index. The HPI Index measures what matters: sustainable wellbeing, life expectancy, inequality of outcomes, and ecological footprint. America limps in at a thoroughly miserable 108th. About the HPI