SEF News-Views Digest No. 192 (12-13-17)
Clifton Ware, Editor-Publisher
The number “three” appears in various forms throughout human history, and all relate to primary human concerns. Here are some brief examples:
Politics: Triumvirates have been associated with a structure of three ruling parties, as was the case in ancient Rome and in many nations throughout human history. In the U.S we experience the views of principal constituencies: rightwing (conservative), leftwing (liberal), and moderate (centrist).
Science: The number 3 defines the non-collinear points needed to determine a plane and a circle. The triangle, a polygon with three edges and three vertices, is the most stable physical shape for construction of objects. And there are three primary colors—red, yellow, and blue.
Art: The triad forms the harmonic foundation of most Western Civilization music, and ABA form (a 3-part structure) s common in all arts, especially in classical architecture and music (also in nature).
Religion: All religions make use of three entities, the most well known among Christians being the Holy Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). There’s also the threefold office doctrine of Christ as prophet, priest, and king, plus the three spiritual characteristics—faith, hope, and love (charity). For other world religions, there are the Hindu Trimurti and Tridevi, the Buddhist Three Jewels, the Taoist Three Pure Ones, and the Wicca Triple Goddess.
Philosophy: Some foremost philosophers, including Emmanuel Kant and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, used three-fold divisions in their work. For Hegel it appeared in dialectic form (Thesis + Antithesis = Synthesis), which creates three parts out of two, and is manifested many ways, For instance, in politics, when liberal and conservative positions conflict on a specific issue, but are brought to equilibrium through compromise, creating a third way. For Kant the result culminated in three significant books: Critique of Pure Reason, Critique of Practical Reason, and Critique of Judgment, each respectively dealing with the problems of truth, goodness, and beauty.
A similar prominent philosophy was transcendentalism, a movement closely related to Unitarianism that developed in the late 1820s and 1830s in the eastern United States. The transcendentals (properties of being), are associated with three principal human abilities; to think, to feel, and to wish, and correspond to the three human ideals of science (truth, reality), religion (goodness, morals), and arts (beauty, quality). The philosophical disciplines that study these three are logic, ethics, and aesthetics.
I hope I’m not boring you with all of this informational rigmarole, but it’s central to determining the ideal realms we need to sustain into the distant future of humanity. To begin with, there’s a belief that we—and everything that exists—are ONE. This concept of oneness stems from scientific research that claims the entire universe derives from a highly dense, compressed, overheated mass of matter that was released 13.8 billion year ago in an explosive Big Bang, which sent primordial substances speeding outward over into an ever-expanding universe. Theoretically, everything that exists remains connected—so humans really are made of stardust!
In order to make sense of existence, we mortals need to have some understandable, reliable guidelines for living. So here’s the clincher, an explanation as to why I think the following three ideal realms of life must be sustained—if we are to continue evolving into an intelligent and wise species.
THE TRUE: This ideal realm is the objective, concrete world of reality, of all matter and all happenings. The scientific method is the discipline we use to discover what is true and real. Admittedly, getting at absolute truth can be a slippery slope, due to specific context, but it is essential that humankind adhere to seeking truth as we move toward the future. Maintaining a free press, media dedicated to seeking and reporting the truth (not “fake news”) is a key component for informing and educating the public.
THE GOOD: This ideal realm is concerned with how we live within the natural environment, specifically in human interactions with other life forms—and stewardship of finite resources. Moral and ethical behavior is a central trait of goodness, and in the Golden Rule, a universal tenet that we should “do unto others as we would have them to do unto us”, we have a simple, effective guideline to follow, and sustain.
THE BEAUTIFUL: This final ideal realm deals not only with what is pretty and pleasing, but rather that which has high quality and value, like a “beautiful mind”. Discerning what is beautiful and of high quality is highly subjective, but time has a way of lifting up and exposing high-quality entities. The level of mind-body complexity involved in any creative endeavor—from science to arts—is typically indicative of high quality. For example, the advanced training and skills required for a professional ballet corps are far greater than that expected of amateur folk dancers. Of course, simplicity can also be beautiful, as long as artistic components are observed, such as form, balance, content, composition, shape, contrast, and color. Although style and fashion are usually socio-cultural constructs, some may be of high artistic quality and timeless. Sustaining beauty as a hallmark of advanced civilization has been proclaimed the ultimate goal of humankind. In 1938 Winston Churchill exclaimed:
The arts are essential to any complete national life. The State owes it to itself to sustain and encourage them. Ill fares the race which fails to salute the arts with the reverence and delight which are their due.
In conclusion: As long as humans inhabit this planet (and universe), the three equally important ideal realms worth sustaining are the True, the Good, and the Beautiful, And the one quality that encompasses, binds, and undergirds all three is LOVE—-love of Truth, love of Goodness, and love of Beauty. May deep love for these three realms continue guiding humanity towards a sustainable, and better future!
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> Common Dreams: Climate Crisis And Managed Deindustrialization (Richard Smith). After three years of human-caused emissions leveling off, global CO2 emissions are rising 2% to record global levels in 2017. The real culprit of the climate crisis is the very way in which we globally produce for profit rather than for sustainability. We live in an economy built on perpetual growth but we live on a finite planet with limited resources and sinks. To date, all efforts to “green” capitalism have foundered, because CEOs and corporate boards are responsible to private shareholders, not society.
> Resource Insights: Human Well-Being, Economic Growth And So-Called Decoupling (Kurt Cobb). We humans would like to believe that we can achieve a society with all the material benefits we enjoy today widely distributed across the globe—but without the requisite material. We can’t do that without destroying the habitability of the planet. What we can do is focus on what really produces human well-being (and not just GDP growth) and make that the locus of our efforts while finding ways to reduce our impact on the planet on an absolute rather than a relative basis.
> Open Democracy: Myth And Dystopia In The Anthropocene (Mark Kernan). In terms of climate change there are conflicts and mythical monsters everywhere, both internally and externally, yet we don’t seem able or willing to face them. The biggest monster of all is capitalism, particularly the neoliberal version that has been slowly hollowing out everything it touches like some giant blood sucking incubus over the last 40 years, devouring the social compact between people, natural resources and the future. Ultimately, it is rooted in rapacious greed and the insatiable desire for power.
> Resilience: For Saving The Earth We Need To Tell The Whole Truth: An Eco-Socialist Response To Richard Smith (Saral Sarkar). Richard writes, “Capitalism, not population is the main driver of planetary ecological collapse”. I would agree that growth compulsion is one of the main drivers of ecological collapse. But the whole truth is succinctly stated in the equation IPAT (I = P x T x A), where I = ecological Impact (or ecological destruction), P = Population, T = Technology and A = Affluence. Rich countries can best help poor countries by using humane solutions in controlling population growth.
> Climate Progress: Climate Change Gives California’s Wildfire Season An Unwelcome Boost (Mark Hand). Ferocious wildfires are raging across Southern California, destroying hundreds of homes adorned with holiday decorations and forcing thousands of residents to flee. With high winds expected to continue, forecasters are warning that dangerous fires could endanger the region for days. California is susceptible to fires year-round, but the worst of the wildfires aren’t supposed to occur this late into the year.
> Reuters: U.S. EPA Chief Says May Launch Public Climate Debate In January (Valerie Volcovici). The agency had been working over the last several months to set up a “red team, blue team” debate on the science relating to manmade climate change to give the public a “real-time review of questions and answers around this issue of CO2,” Pruitt said. The debate would come as the EPA proposes to rescind the Clean Power Plan, former President Barack Obama’s main climate change regulation that was aimed at reducing carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.
> Global Research: Killing The Biosphere To Fast-Track Human Extinction (Robert J. Burrows). The sixth mass extinction event in Earth’s history is now accelerating at an unprecedented rate with 200 species of plants, birds, animals, fish, amphibians, insects and reptiles being driven to extinction on a daily basis. And the odds are high that you have never even heard of any of them. So, in essence, the problem is this: Human beings are destroying the biosphere and driving countless life forms, including ourselves, to extinction. And there is little strategic resistance to this onslaught.
> The Conversation: China’s Growing Footprint On The Globe Threatens To Trample The Natural World (Bill Laurance). President Xi Linping promises that the Belt and Road initiative will be “green, low-carbon, circular and sustainable”, but such a claim is profoundly divorced from reality. China’s infrastructure tsunami will open a Pandora’s box of environmental crises, including large-scale deforestation, habitat fragmentation, wildlife poaching, water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. China is the most aggressive consumer of minerals on the planet, and the biggest driver of tropical deforestation [and overpopulated].
> Common Dreams-Truthdig: A Women’s Revolt That Targets Far More Than Sexual Abuse (Chris Hedges). This women’s revolt is not solely about sexual abuse. It is about fighting a corporate power structure that institutionalizes and enables misogyny, racism and bigotry. It is about rejecting the belief that wealth and power give the elites the right to engage in economic, political, social and sexual sadism. It challenges the twisted ethic that those who are crushed and humiliated by the rich, the famous and the powerful have no rights and no voice. Let’s hope this is the beginning, not the end.
> Climate and Capitalism: Major Study Shows Species Loss Destroys Essential Ecosystems (Ian Angus). The Jena Experiment proves for the very first time that a loss of biodiversity results in negative consequences for many individual components and processes in ecosystems. Hence, the loss of species worldwide not only means that a percentage of the evolutionary legacy of the earth is being irrecoverably lost, and that humans are not fulfilling their duty of care towards other creatures, but will have direct, unpleasant consequences for mankind.
> Common Dreams: Most Dire Climate Change Predictions, Warns New Study, Are Also The Most Accurate (Julie Conley). A study published in Nature Climate shows that change is occurring at a faster rate than has previously been predicted. With the current level of greenhouse gas emissions remaining steady, researchers say, there is a 93% chance [versus previous 62%] that the planet will be more than four degrees Celsius warmer than it is now by 2100. This would create prolonged heat waves and, as a result of sea levels rising, likely eliminate coral reefs and small islands.
> LA Times: Senate Tax Measure Helps President Trump Pivot Away From Clean Energy And Back To Fossil Fuels (Keith Sneider). The tax measure approved by the Senate proposes to open the Arctic to oil and gas development, weaken investment incentives for solar and wind production, and end a big tax credit for new electric vehicles. Democratic lawmakers and environmental groups have vowed to keep the entire 19.3-million-acre refuge undeveloped, and also to curb fossil fuel development, reduce carbon emissions to the atmosphere, and encourage more environmentally sensitive electrical power.
> Reuters: While US Senate Pushes Alaska Wildlife Refuge Drilling, Industry Looks Elsewhere (Yereth Rosen). Even as the U.S. Senate moves to allow oil drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), the real action is 150 miles west, where industry proponents hope a coming sale of 10 million acres of land in the National Petroleum Reserve (NPR-A)—a hotbed of oil exploration and development in the western part of Alaska’s North Slope—will revitalize the state’s sagging crude production.
> Star Tribune: The Good Old Minnesota Winter Is Losing Its Bite (Mary Lynn Smith). Winters are warming across the country, but the temperatures in Minnesota are rising even more dramatically. In fact, Minneapolis and Mankato, followed by Fargo, are among the top five spots in the country where those temperatures are rising the most, according to recent research published by Climate Central, a group of scientists and journalists who report on the changing climate. The Twin Cities are an average 6 degrees warmer than they were in 1970.
> Common Dreams: With Oceans Threatened As ‘Never Before In Human History,’ World Leaders Fail To Show Urgency (Julia Conley). Green groups applauded a UN resolution to end plastic pollution in the world’s oceans, reached at an environmental summit in Kenya on Tuesday—but stressed that more urgent action is needed to eradicate the problem before it’s too late. The final episode of Blue Planet 2 will focus entirely on the damage being done, arguing that humans’ actions are the only thing capable of reversing the effects. David Attenborough adds “The future of humanity, and indeed all life on Earth, now depends on us.”
> Grist: Bitcoin Could Cost Us Our Clean-Energy Future (Eric Holthaus). At the beginning of this year, a single bitcoin was priced less than $1,000, but last week, it broke the $10,000 barrier for the first time [and more recently, $17,000]. Originators didn’t realize how much energy the computer network behind bitcoin would use, effectively slowing a rapid transition away from fossil fuels. Given its rapidly growing climate footprint, bitcoin is a malignant development, and getting worse. At bitcoin’s current growth rate, the electricity demanded by the crypto-currency network will start to outstrip what’s available, requiring new energy-generating plants. [See also: If You Don’t Own Any Bitcoin, Read This]
> Yes! Magazine: The Elite Is Not Who You Think It Is—It Might Be You (Darrick Hamilton, Christopher Farnighetti). Families in the 80th-99th percentiles (those earning at least $112,000) have made out pretty well over the since 1980 Incomes for the top 20 percent increased considerably, with 70 percent of the billions in tax savings going to upper middle class and wealthy households. This most powerful cohort—the top 20 percent—needs to reverse its “opportunity hoarding” ways and assume its fair share of responsibility for fixing income inequality, wealth disparity, and a racially stratified economy. [Yep, this is us]
> Ars Technica: Big Ag + Big Pharma = Big Problems (Diana Gitig). Farm animals in the US receive more than 80 percent of the antibiotics sold in the States. They get antibiotics because a researcher discovered (in 1949) that adding antibiotics to chicken feed made the birds gain weight faster. By lacing animal feed with these drugs, animals reach an ever-increasing slaughter weight more quickly—with the same amount of food. As of January 2017, the FDA made this antibiotic growth-promoting illegal, although farmers can still use them for disease prevention under a vet’s advice.
> The Guardian: Why Are America’s Farmers Killing Themselves In Record Numbers? (Debbie Weingarten). Dr. Mike Rosmann, an Iowa farmer, is a psychologist and one of the nation’s leading farmer behavioral health experts. He often answers phone calls from those in crisis. And for 40 years, he has worked to understand why farmers take their lives at such alarming rates – currently, higher rates than any other occupation in the United States.
> MinnPost: Altering Prices Of Seven Foods Could Save Thousands Of U.S. Lives Each Year, Study Suggests (Susan Perry). Making the healthful foods (fruits and vegetables) cheaper and the unhealthful ones (processed foods, sugary drinks) 10% more expensive—could significantly reduce the number of Americans who die each year from coronary heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes, according to a study published recently in the journal BMC Medicine. Such changes would especially benefit lower-income Americans and help address the growing health disparities in the U.S.
> New York Times: Soil Power! The Dirty Way To A Green Planet (Jaques Leslie). The earth possesses five major pools of carbon: the atmosphere (overloaded with CO2); the oceans are acidic; the forests are diminishing; and underground fossil fuel reserves are being emptied. That leaves soil as the most likely repository for immense quantities of carbon. Now scientists are documenting how sequestering carbon in soil can produce a double dividend: It reduces climate change by extracting carbon from the atmosphere, and it restores the health of degraded soil and increases agricultural yields.
> Food Tank: The Time Is Now For Our Country To Help Young Farmers (Brian Frederick). A new report from the National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC) discusses the results of the 2017 National Young Farmer Survey. The number of American farmers is decreasing and their average age is increasing, as reported by the USDA. This survey examines the needs and challenges of young farmers to determine how to encourage a new generation of farmers. The main concerns for young farmers are access to land, student loan debt, availability of skilled labor, and access to health insurance.
> Other Words: The GOP Tax Plan Is Igniting A Movement For A Moral Economy (Sarah Anderson). While giving the rich and big corporations huge tax breaks, the Republican tax plan would raise taxes on 87 million middle-class families, throw 13 million people off health insurance, and cut Medicare by $400 billion. This moral abomination is already igniting a firestorm across the country, a new moral movement that will lift up the millions of Americans living in poverty and build power for transformational change.
> Springwise: 3D-Printed Public Furniture Is Fully Recyclable (Staff). Plastic is a commonly used material but some of the properties that make plastic so useful, like its low cost, light weight and durability, also make it hard to dispose of. Even with the increased awareness to recycle, a great deal of plastic still ends up being thrown away. The New Raw, a design studio based in Rotterdam, has developed a research project called Print Your City, which explores ways through 3D-printing to recycle plastics into public furniture, like playground equipment, bus shelters, trash cans and waste plastics.
> Yes! Magazine: Infographic: How Giving Makes You Much Happier (Tracy Matsue Loeffelholz, Clo Copass). Four points are illustrated: 1) There’s a limit to how much happiness money buys; 2) Giving to others increases our own happiness; 3) Happiness spreads through interaction and proximity; 4) Fair distribution of wealth increases happiness more than economic growth.
> Alliance For Sustainability: Linking Citizens, Congregations And Cities For Sustainable Communities. Extensive listings of Minnesota news, events, and projects: http://www.afors.org/.
> Transition Twin Cities: Groups And Activities: Transition ASAP • Transition Longfellow • Corcoran Grows • Transition North Suburbs • Transition West St. Paul/West Side • Transition NE; For resources and connections Contact Leslie MacKenzie.
> MN Department of Health: Climate and Health 101 Webinar, one per month through December and will continually update our webpage with information (registration links, copies of the PPT deck and webinar recording).
> MN Environmental Partnership (MEP) Upcoming Environmental Events. See website: http://www.mepartnership.org/events/ (search by month)
> Citizen’s Climate Lobby: Regular Meetings And Events (www.citizensclimatelobby-mn.org); Meetings in 18 MN locations on the 2nd Saturday of each month to focus on bi-partisan Carbon Fee and Dividend Legislation; 62 members of the US House on the Climate Solutions Caucus are involved.
> MN350: Climate Campaigns And Projects. For a listing of campaigns, projects, and events, see: http://www.mn350.org/campaigns-projects/
> Resilience: Think Resilience – Preparing For The Rest Of The 21st Century. This course, consisting of 22 video lectures by Post Carbon Institute Senior Fellow Richard Heinberg, totaling about 4 hours), may be taken at your own leisure ($20). View the video.
> Conversation Earth: 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.
> WTS: 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)
> 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