SEF News-Views Digest No. 193 (12-27-17)
Clifton Ware, Editor-Publisher
Knowing how hectic the holidays can be, I’m pleased that our holiday season has been a very peaceful one. Aside from having colds that caused us to miss some social festivities, we’ve also eco-simplified our holiday activities by not sending Christmas cards, reducing seasonal decorations, and agreeing with family members to eliminate gifts—except for cash. Our main activity was gathering with our family for a festive meal and stimulating conversation on Christmas Day, and it was a joyful occasion. I hope your holiday celebrations have also been restful, and that you are ready to face the New Year, and whatever it brings.
This past year, well, actually, the past two years have been particularly stressful for many Americans. The sociopolitical scene has been in turmoil, with no one knowing what to expect from day to day. Each morning concerned citizens awaken and wonder: What next? Well, it seems we are now fully awakened to what’s going on, and much of it doesn’t seem right, at least from a progressive’s point of view. The good news is that a grassroots movement is underway to undo some harmful developments, and redirect humanity’s goals towards finding positive solutions.
And this brings me to recommending the first article in Views, by Jerry Lent. I urge you to read it for its concise summary of the potentially dire situation the world faces, in failing to take drastic measures to mitigate the ongoing and future calamitous effects of climate change. To accomplish such a herculean task will require a combined coalition of world leaders in formulating a master plan aimed at attaining specific goals, from short to long term. And the first place to begin might be to actively contest the ignorance and misinformation showed by those who deny or minimize the reality of global warming.
As we enter a new year, let us individually and collectively resolve to participate in the process of bringing about sustainable peace and good will on Earth. We can begin by sustaining hope that, in 2018, all world citizens will enjoy more meaningful, rewarding lives!
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> Patterns of Meaning: What Will It Really Take To Avoid Collapse? (Jeremy Lent). Last month, over fifteen thousand scientists from 184 countries issued a dire warning to humanity that our overconsumption of the world’s resources is creating “widespread misery and catastrophic biodiversity loss… that time is running out” and we are on a collision course with the natural world. Once it becomes clear that this rate of growth is truly unsustainable, the whole house of cards will come tumbling down. Climate change information is minimal due to a few large fossil fuel corporations controlling the U.S. media.
> Common Dreams: How To Restore Our Relationship To Earth (David Korten). We must reduce our burden on Earth’s regenerative systems by approximately 40 percent, and share what remains of Earth’s generative capacity to meet the essential material needs of all people: food, water, clean air, housing, energy, transport, and more. We must simultaneously limit the growth of our numbers by making family planning services freely available to all and encouraging their use. Our most urgent need is to replace our use of coal, oil, and gas with wind and solar energy, and switch from farming methods that destroy the soil and deplete water sources to ones that restore soil fertility, clean water, and sequester carbon.
> Ideas.Ted: An Unsettling Peek Into The Reality Of Life In 2050 (Karen Frances Eng). Rather than just imagine the future, what if we could walk around in it? In an installation called Mitigation of Shock, designer Anab Jain and her Superflux team aim to show us what our lives might be like if we do nothing to combat global warming, by taking us into a flat in London in the year 2050. [See also TED Talk: Why We Need To Imagine Different Futures]
> Guardian: We Can’t Keep Eating Like This (George Monbiot). Where is the food going to come from? By mid-century there will be two or three billion more people on Earth. Any one of the issues I am about to list could help precipitate mass starvation. And this is before you consider how they might interact. The trouble begins where everything begins with soil, followed by water loss, temperature changes, structural factors, fished out seas, and rising demand for animal protein. [See also: George Monbiot On The Commons]
> Common Dreams: Why The Trump Era Won’t Pass Without Serious Damage To America (Neal Gabler). One of the most important shifts in our culture has been the transformation of politics into a kind of civic religion. Modern conservatism, like debased religion, has an explanation for everything, and there is nothing mysterious or spiritual about it. We shouldn’t fool ourselves. America is under siege, and this civil war has already taken a grave toll. Let progressives hold firmly to ethics and compassion and to love. Morality, not moralism, is an almost ineluctable force.
> CASSE: Trump’s National Security Strategy: Making America Greedy Again (Brian Czech). President Trump’s national security strategy is going to backfire like a shotgun plugged with mud. In one fell swoop, Trump called for: 1) Locking out foreigners; 2) Growing GDP as the key to national security, and; 3) Better terms of trade. No matter where you are or where your patriotism lies, it cannot be denied that Trump’s national security strategy is utterly greedy, which is threatening to national security. The more prudent approach to national security is adopting a steady state economy, which requires population stabilization.
> Cassandra’s Legacy: The Energy Transition: Too Little, Too Late (Ugo Bardi). The idea of the energy transition (“energiewende” in German) originated in the 1980s and gained legislative support in Germany in 2010. The idea is good and also technically feasible. But it requires sacrifices and, at present, sacrifices are politically unthinkable since most people don’t realize how critical the situation really is. What we are doing for the transition seems to be too little and too late.
> Peak Prosperity: The Great Oil Swindle (Chris Martenson). When it comes to the story we’re being told about America’s rosy oil prospects, we’re being swindled: The shale industry’s oil production forecasts are vastly overstated. The false conclusions the world is drawing as a result of the deception and outright lies we’re being told is putting our future prosperity in major jeopardy. Policy makers and ordinary citizens alike have been misled, and everyone is unprepared for the inevitable and massive coming oil price shock, which could arrive somewhere between the second half of 2018 and 2020.
> Common Dreams: Why Do They Hate Us? America Has Taken Nearly 70% Of The World’s Wealth Gains Since 2012 (Paul Bucheit). From 2012 to 2017, global wealth increased by $37.7 trillion, and U.S. wealth increased by $26 trillion. Thus, largely because of a surging stock market, our nation took nearly 70 percent of the entire global wealth gain over the past five years. Based on their dominant share of U.S. wealth, America’s richest 10%—much less than 1% of the world’s adult population—took over half the world’s wealth gain in the past five years.
> The Washington Post: Warming Of The Arctic Is ‘Unprecedented Over The Last 1,500 Years (Chris Mooney). A group of federal scientists has released a stark report on the warming at the top of the planet, suggesting that it is unparalleled in more than a millennium. It finds that the Arctic region continues to warm up at a pace that is roughly double that of the rest of the planet. Consequences include the ongoing melting of Greenland, which is a leading driver of sea-level rise as it adds about 270 billion tons of ice and water to the ocean each year.
> Carbon Brief: Analysis: Why Scientists Think 100% Of Global Warming Is Due To Humans (Zeke Hausfather). The extent of the human contribution to modern global warming is a hotly debated topic in political circles, particularly in the U.S. Contrary to statements made by energy secretary Rick Perry in denying human-caused global warming, the science on the human contribution is quite clear. Humans’ emissions and activities have caused around 100% of the warming observed since 1950, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) fifth assessment report.
> Huffpost: The Thomas Fire Is Now The Biggest In California’s History (Antonia Blumberg). The fire has eclipsed all previously recorded blazes in the state dating back to the 1930s. It has now burned over 275,000 acres in the Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. Of the top 20 largest wildfires in California history, the Thomas Fire is the only one to have occurred in December. In October, 21 fast-moving blazes in Northern California became the deadliest in the state’s history, after killing more than 40 people. Twice as much acreage has burned this year as in 2016.
> NPR: Climate Change Likely To Increase Volcanic Eruptions, Scientists Say (Scott Neuman). A warming planet due to human-induced climate change will likely contribute to an increase in volcanic activity, according to a recent study in the journal Geology. While a relationship between climate and volcanism might seem counter-intuitive, it turns out that pressure exerted by thick glaciers on the Earth’s crust—what geologists call “surface loading”—has an impact on the flow of magma below the surface.
> Common Dreams: ‘Undeniable Victory’: Cheers Follow Proposals To Divest Massive New York Pensions From Fossil Fuels (Andrea Germanos). Climate activists claimed “an undeniable victory” on Tuesday after New York City and New York State officials called for city and state pension funds to halt investments in fossil fuels. “Coming from the capital of world finance, this will resonate loud and clear all over the planet,” said 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben. . [See also: This. Is. Big.’: After Years Of Pressure, World Bank To Drastically Curb Funding Of Fossil Fuels]
> USA Today: Best- And Worst-Run States In America: Which One Is Top Rated? (Samuel Stebbins, Evan Comen). Ranked as the 10th best run state as recently as 2012, Minnesota has climbed steadily in the rankings in recent years and is now the best-run state in the country. A relatively wealthy state, Minnesota’s $65,599 median household income is about $8,000 more than the median income nationwide. With a strong tax base, the state brings in about $4,400 a year per resident in taxes, more than all but four other states, and it has a nearly perfect credit rating from Moody’s with a stable outlook.
> The Wall Street Journal: Drug And Alcohol Deaths At U.S. Workplaces Soar (Harriet Torry). The number of U.S. deaths at work from unintentional drug and alcohol overdoses jumped more than 30% in 2016, according to new government data, showing that the nation’s struggle with a deadly opioid epidemic is migrating to the workplace.
> The Guardian: A Journey Through A Land Of Extreme Poverty: Welcome To America (Ed Pilkington). Philip Alston’s fact-finding mission into the richest nation the world has ever known has led him to investigate the tragedy at its core: the 41 million people who officially live in poverty. Of those, nine million have zero cash income—they do not receive a cent in sustenance. Alston’s epic journey has taken him from coast to coast, deprivation to deprivation, exploring the collateral damage of America’s reliance on private enterprise to the exclusion of public help.
> Resilience: Website For Collaboration On Resilience Projects (Marilyn Hagle). NOW the Path Forward is an educational website based on Moodle (http://moodle.org). Its purpose is to grow solutions under an open source umbrella and use the educational tools such as wikis for collaboration. In this scenario, the teachers are actually teacher/moderators and the students are student/collaborators. Do not think of the courses in a traditional sense, but rather as workspace. Participants can contribute at any level they prefer. Lurking is allowed.
> The Conversation: How Divesting Of Fossil Fuels Could Help Save The Planet (Olaf Weber, Truzar Dordi, Vasundhara Saavade). A recent analysis suggests that divestment announcements have a statistically significant negative impact on the price of fossil fuel shares.The results suggest that share prices dropped on the days that institutional investors announced they were divesting of fossil fuels. if the majority of proven reserves remains in the ground, we may be able to meet our climate change goals. No more than one-fifth of the current proven fossil fuel reserves can be burned.
> Yes! Magazine: This Town Built A Market Where Neighbors Can Take What They Want For Free (Jake Jarvis). Kathy Cole is on a mission to persuade her community to stop throwing things away. She makes her way to the edge of the town of Independence, Virginia, a couple of times a week to run a new venture she simply calls the Free Market. It’s a radical but simple experiment in the “take what you need” philosophy, and an ambitious spin-off from the little free libraries trend that has spread across the country.
> Star Tribune: Can Minnesota’s Government Go Green, And Save Big Like Others? (Josephine Marcotty). In December Gov. Mark Dayton issued an order requiring all state agencies to hit aggressive and specific environmental goals in the next decade and a half—30 percent less gasoline and diesel, 15 percent less water, and a 75 percent rate of recycling and composting. The goal is to join with half of the Fortune 500 corporations, a growing number of blue states like California and Massachusetts, and some red ones like North Carolina in becoming more sustainable.
> Resilience: The Road To Food Sovereignty (Pat Mooney). The solution for both climate and food sovereignty is to dismantle the global industrial agri-food system (‘industrial food chain’) and for governments to give more space to the already growing and resilient ‘peasant food web’—the interlinked network of small-scale farmers, livestock-keepers, pastoralists, hunters and gatherers, fishers and urban producers who, our research shows, already feed most of the world.
> Resource Insights: Do We Have The Wrong Model Of Human Nature? (Kurt Cobb). Are we wrong to believe that competitiveness must and always will be the central animating principle of human action? Media studies scholar Michael Karlberg thinks so. In fact, he believes that another animating principle, mutualism, is both central to human interaction and necessary to aid human society in meeting the myriad challenges it faces regarding climate change, inequality, governance, education and many other issues.
> Resilience: Finding Pathways To A Better Future: Part 2, What We Might Try (John Foran). What lies in fact between or beyond direct action, pre-figurative communities, and meaningful elections? One idea that occurs to me is to combine electing some as yet unknown kind of “progressive” government and forging social movements to push it from below and alongside to make good on its promises, and for the new kind of parties that would lead such governments to make links with other movements, nations, and organizations everywhere.
> Yes! Magazine: 12 Reasons Biking Is About To Get Way More Popular (Jay Walljasper). More than 100 million Americans rode a bike in 2014, and bicycles have outsold cars most years in the U.S. since 2003. Latinos bike more than any other racial group, followed by Asians and Native Americans. African Americans and whites bike at about the same rate. What’s driving the culture shift in biking is the transition from a small group of people who strongly identify as bicyclists to a bigger, broader grouping of people who simply ride bikes.
> Alliance For Sustainability: Linking Citizens, Congregations And Cities For Sustainable Communities. Extensive listings of Minnesota news, events, and projects:.http://www.afors.org/.
> 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