Greener Times

Promoting a sustainable society…one day at a time.

GT for March 16 – 22

Posted by Trey Smith on March 22, 2009

Greener Times for the Week of March 16 – 22

Volume 3 No. 48

an e-publication for Greens anywhere and everywhere

Trey Smith – Publisher/Editor
Tom Herring, Duff Badgley & Maryrose Asher – Columnists

In This Week’s Issue
* Abbreviated Version
* Thoughts By the Way: Dr. Science
* Our Climate Crisis: Busing, Cars & Density
* Un-Spinning the Spin: American Apathy & the Link to 9/11
* This Week in History

Abbreviated Version
Your intrepid editor had gallbladder removal surgery on Wednesday afternoon. Sitting is a bit problematic right now, so here’s an abbreviated version of GT.

Thoughts By the Way: Dr. Science
Tom Herring is a Community Council member on Vashon Island. Catch more of Tom’s thoughts on his blog.

Back in the seventies our local radio station of higher learning, no, not KRAB, I mean KUOW, aired a humor series called Dr. Science. The closing line was, “Remember, he knows more than you do.” The series is still on the air in regions of lower academic pressure. I recall it as being engagingly dumb, but we deserve it. Look at the Nobel Prize, what have its winners done for humanity? Pretty close to what nitroglycerin has done, I daresay. Indeed, the Nobel is almost synonymous with science in spite of its economics, literary, and peace awards, and it is science that has given us the tools to blast the Earth back two billion years. Even the economics award is scientific. Somehow it has picked up the aura of science to the point that Friedman got the award for applying the Heisenberg uncertainty principle to people’s lives. Makes a person wonder about science, and I don’t mean the kind of wonder children are born with. Science has a lot in common with religion, come to think of it, as both abet disaster. These mindsets are the two great poles of civilization, the northing and southing of it, sure they are. Or are science and religion simply concession stands on the shore of a limpid pool of nature?

Let’s connect these two poles of civilization. There is more in common than a penchant for disaster.

One commonality is that science and religion are engaged in, you know, this obligatory conflict. But since the second war, this conflict increasingly has been trumped by a distraction. If I mess this up, read the original by William Deresiewicz in the March 16 issue of The Nation. The distraction is corporate takeover.

Science is researched in colleges, but in these ivied halls hallowed purity of purpose is now for sale. In all sectors, climate science suffers from dollar-bought censorship. Less publicly, nuclear physics is force-fed by the Pentagon. Biology is funded more in service of big pharma than in service of the public. Just so is the news I get on multiple sclerosis much of which is about drug trials. These examples are quick grabs, and one wonders what goes on in the dozens of “foundations” plugged into the corporate manifold.

As to religion, God help us. If heershe can, that is, for heershe is being suborned to peddle whatever the administration wants to sell. And as to women’s right to their wombs, where does religion get in? And if the administration were really worried about overpopulation you’d think gay marriage would be subsidized. “Family values” are being used to control voting.

Science and religion, then, appear to be divided by philosophy and conquered by corporate need. Human discord trumped by not-human design. This is the context for a chronic hope acquired during a failed attempt at a degree in physics: science and religion are on a collision course for unity. The explanation will necessarily feature physics as I have no idea whether all of science is along on that ride.

Physics is a non-living organism, a whole for which each part is complete only in place. This view perhaps explains the beauty, even perhaps some of the mystery. Try this on: physical law discovered by studying physical things is confirmed by ramifications of counting, one, two, three, along with the Arabian null. Also known as mathematics. It doesn’t get any better than that organism-wise. For sheer beauty, consider the result of a minor arbitrariness such as changing the unit of time from a ticktock to, say, the time it takes light to travel one meter. Call the new unit, hmm, the meter. The result? Einstein’s icon of special relativity, E=Mc2 becomes E=M: energy and mass have become the same thing. It doesn’t get any better than that. It is clear from these gems that the ramifications of simple counting anchored by the Arabian null are castles of pure thought, ethereal beauty held in the caress of a mind. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, these forebode the public being left behind. An example makes this clear: nobody can dwell on what’s beyond the outer reaches of the universe — consciousness recoils. But the language of mathematics enables one to go beyond consciousness. That’s what I mean by the collision course. Physics is on course to an unknown existence in which the secret of creation lies forever hidden from casual view. And if that’s not religion, what is?

That’s a good question to look into after we pull our young men out of the killing fields and send Wall Street pinstripes with their corporate clients to prison. That process could use a bit of medieval philosophy distributed in varying forms by a Franciscan friar in the English town of Ockham (who had a razor sharp sense of logic):

Plurality should not be posited without necessity.

It is pointless to do with more what is done with less.

One should not increase, beyond what is necessary, the number of entities required to explain anything.

In science:
When you have two competing theories that make exactly the same predictions, the simpler is the better.”

Let’s then apply Ockham’s Razor to war and meltdown. We find that Naomi Klein has it right: both crises are intended to serve the rich.

Our Climate Crisis: Busing, Cars & Density
Duff Badgley is the leader of the One Earth Climate Action Group and was a candidate for Governor as a Green in 2008. He can be reached at 206-283-0621.

Thanks to Julie Ann for her letter last week. She boldly tackles the density challenge we face in our Climate Crisis. Julie Ann dismissed arguments about the scarcity of public transport in rural areas as a reason to buy and drive cars.

“If you truly don’t want to own a car, move to an area with adequate transit to meet your needs,” she wrote.

She cited these density stats: Pacific County, on the coast, has 22 people per square mile. King County, home to Seattle, has 817 people per square mile. That’s 37 times more people per square mile living in King than Pacific. She argues with great clarity, “I’m not sure that investing in bus routes in a county with 22 people per square mile is in any way sustainable. How many of those buses would run empty trip after trip?”

So, Julie Ann seems to suggest, move to King or Pierce or Snohomish County, be close to your neighbors and live more sustainably. There’s loads of buses there. Much less need for horribly polluting cars. She’s right.

There are three big reasons why people live outside the cities and densely populated areas.

(1) To be free of proximate neighbors and the challenges of city living. This reason is a throwback to rapacious pioneer days. It is, on its face, nonsustainable. (Unless you live on a grow-your-own, communal homestead). We should dismiss this reason when discussing our Climate Crisis. And,

(2) To be closer to nature. This need is no doubt rooted in our DNA. But our culture has corrupted our need into sprawling suburbia and far-flung rural outposts created and served only by cars. Our need to experience nature has come to mean the destruction of nature. And,

(3) Affordability. It’s cheaper to live in rural areas. Here’s the rub. If you’re poor, the common thinking goes, city living is too expensive. You get more house, more land, more food, more everything in the country or far suburbs.

Well, you do get more of all these things away from the city. But the economics can work favorably in the city if we elevate collective rights over individual rights. We have little chance of mitigating and adapting to our Climate Crisis if we do not favor our Common Wealth.

Your detached house in the country can be traded in for a shared apartment in the city. You can sell your car to finance the move, bus to work, and save a bundle on transportation costs to counter higher food bills. All this will radically decrease your carbon footprint.

Sure, you’d forego homeownership. That’s a good thing.

‘Owning’a house or a car is a lethal illusion that flouts the core lesson of our Climate Crisis: We are One! Under Climate Crisis Survival Rights, you have no more right to buy or drive a car than I have a right to punch you in the face. I have no right to assault you. You have no right to threaten my Right To Exist. Which you are doing with every turn of your ignition keys. Which you are doing with each new car you purchase. Each new car on the showroom floor carries with it an average debt of 9 tons of CO2 from its manufacture.

Perhaps the distilled essence of the American Dream is to own a detached home with a yard. This dream is a Climate Crisis nightmare. Owning this home hoards precious and dwindling resources into the possession of a few-sometimes a single individual. It grants ‘rights’ to homeowners to foul our Commons as they see fit: use as much electricity as they want, dump as much poison on their lawns as they want, destroy as many of ‘their’ trees as they want or are left after the developer gets done, be as remote and car-dependent as they want.

Most perniciously, home ownership fosters a mentality that blinds us to our daunting Climate Crisis challenges. Homeownership, like car ownership on a lesser scale, vests the ‘owners’ in the status quo-our status quo that is monstrously non-sustainable. Homeownership gives you fat tax breaks, a huge interest in the corrupting real estate market, and the illusion that a patch of this Shared Earth is actually ‘yours’.

No part of this Earth is any more yours than mine. The Earth is our Home Planet to share with All Creatures. As long as we embrace owning any part of this Earth, we will likely deny what we must do to address our Climate Crisis. We will continue to deny We Are One!

Un-Spinning the Spin: American Apathy & the Link to 9/11
Maryrose Asher is a former Chair of the Green Party of Washington State and a tireless activist of many causes.

On March 21 and 22, antiwar protests will be held in Seattle and Tacoma. It has been disappointing over the years to see the number of participants dropping, and I have no reason to believe this year will be any different. The underlying cause to explain this growing apathy on the part of Americans may lie in looking to the past.

Between January 3 and April 12, 2003, there were 36 million people from around the globe who took part in antiwar protests, with Europe getting the biggest turnout. On February 15, 2003, there were 50,000 here in Seattle.

Recently, in response to the economic crisis, major protests have occurred worldwide. In France, unions are calling for strikes and rallies to denounce the government’s handling of the economic crisis and its refusal to help workers. On January 29, over two million protesters took part in a day of protests, with another scheduled for March 19 if workers’ demands are not met. In Greece, farmers protested against falling farm prices by blockading the countries main highways and successfully closing the airport by blocking access roads. Protesters in Iceland successfully overturned the government.

Protests in the capital Reykjavik have brought thousands of people on to the streets in the biggest demonstrations the country has ever seen. As a result, the coalition government between the Samfylkingin (Social Democrats) and the Conservative Independence Party has broken up. The government of Iceland is thus the first to fall as a consequence of the present economic crisis. It will not be the last. — Niklas Albin Svensson, “Iceland: Mass protests bring down government” (1/27/09)

There has been such an outrage in Europe that Michael Werbowski in his article “The European Protest Movement” (1/29/09) raises the question, “Is Europe in ‘Pre-revolutionary’ Mode?”

In comparison, here in the United States there has been barely a whimper. Americans have the same “collective weakness of character” as described by Sebastian Haffner in his personal journals. Written during the 1930s, Haffner gives an eyewitness account of German society and the way they would “complain around the dinner table but mechanically go about their daily routines as if nothing was amiss.” The same “sheepish submissiveness” he writes about mirrors American society.

Some might say the vote for Barack Obama would argue otherwise, but I believe Americans were looking for a solution and Obama, by way of his campaign speeches, was feeding that hope. He was the “messiah” who would put the world right again. However, there is now more than abundant evidence that the Obama administration is continuing along the same path as prior administrations and yet we hear no substantive public outcry.

Americans have come to accept whatever the politicians tell them, even if it means giving up civil liberties in the name of the “war on terror,” suffering the loss of family members due to resource wars, Wall Street bailouts at the expense of Main Street, and the loss of jobs, houses, and savings.

As we look at the precipitous event that set off this downward spiral, we find that the attack on September 11, 2001, changed America, and not for the better. A crime was committed, an accuser named, and a shoddy piece of legal investigation by the government-appointed 9/11 Commission written. The United States, the greatest military power on the planet, has yet to find a six foot tall Saudi Arabian dragging around a kidney dialysis machine. Despite 7-1/2 years of bribes, torture, illegal wiretapping, and CIA espionage, he is still out there as a face for the “Wanted Dead or Alive” posters and nothing more.

Now, the new administration is going to accelerate the war in Afghanistan that will take more American lives. The reasons given are to bring “stability” to the country and to make sure the Taliban do not take over. The name Osama bin Laden, the name so inherently linked with 9/11 and the reason the U.S. first went into Afghanistan, is rarely heard.

Antiwar organizers are desperately trying to get Americans to stand up to government policies. Some groups are calling for general strikes. To date, attempts have been futile and disappointing.

I would like to suggest that Americans may be suffering from a form of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) caused by the collapse of the World Trade Towers on September 11, 2001, the subsequent war against Iraq, and the global economic collapse. War criminals are not prosecuted and corporations continue to control the political system with no sense that what is wrong will be made right. Depressed and confused, Americans are not unwilling but simply incapable of taking to the streets. In order to handle this barrage of events that seem beyond their control, they find solace in the mundane routine of their lives with little or no thought to questioning or fighting back.

Touching upon this psychological impact of 9/11, Congressman Dennis Kucinich has called for the establishment of a National Commission on Truth and Reconciliation in regard to the events of 9/11. Below are key excerpts from his article, “Remembering 911 and Moving Forward (9/11/08):

Before the Congress adjourns, I will bring forth a new proposal for the establishment of a National Commission on Truth and Reconciliation, which will have the power to compel testimony and gather official documents to reveal to the American people not only the underlying deception which has divided us, but in that process of truth seeking set our nation on a path of reconciliation.

We suffer in our remembrance of 9/11, because of the terrible loss of innocent lives on that grim day. We also suffer because 9/11 was seized as an opportunity to run a political agenda, which has set America on a course of the destruction of another nation and the destruction of our own Constitution. And we have become less secure as a result of the warped practice of pursing peace through the exercise of pre-emptive military strength.

…We also need to remember the politicization of 9/11 and the polarizing narrative which followed, locking us into endless conflict, a war on terror which has wrought further terror worldwide and which has severely damaged our standing worldwide as an honorable, compassionate nation. As we were all victims of 9/11, so we have become victims of the interpretation of 9/11.

…High US government officials stand accused in Impeachment petitions of violating national and international law. Our continued existence as a democracy may depend upon how thoroughly we seek the truth.

…The truth can move us forward, as a unified whole, so that we can one day become a re-United States. 9/11 is the day the world changed. It is the day America embraced a metaphor of war. If we are open to truth and reconciliation, we may one day be able, once again, to embrace peace.

The answer to American apathy is linked to the unresolved issue of 9/11. Start there and the marches, the rallies, and the public outrage will be enormous.

What happened on 9/11, why did it happen, and who is responsible? It is as if a family member has been murdered and the murderer is still at large and what we have been told by the police investigators does not make sense. It is considered a “cold case” but there is a gnawing sensation within too many that the end of the story is yet to be written. For closure, there is a desperate need to go back and search out the facts. Only then, will we be ready to move forward and, in the words of Congressman Kucinich, “If we are open to truth…we may one day be able, once again, to embrace peace.

Information on upcoming antiwar rallies:
Tacoma Demonstration March 21
Seattle Demonstration March 22

Articles referenced in this column:
“Remembering 9/11 and Moving Forward”
“Why Did so Few Americans Give a Damn?” by William Pfaff (March 5, 2009)
Obama Considers Reaching Out To Taliban: NPR
Secretary Gates On Afghanistan Mission, Iraq Exit: NPR
The European Protest Movement
No letup in Greek farmers’ protest against plunging prices – – business, legal and economic news and information from the European Union
In Defence of Marxism – Iceland: Mass protests bring down government
Protests against the Iraq War – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


I realize that there are a lot of skeptics about the 9/11 Truth Movement and skepticism is good as it means you have a questioning attitude and are critical thinker. None of us knows the truth of what happened on 9/11. According to the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860), “All truth passes through three stages. First is it ridiculed, second it is violently opposed, and third, it is accepted as self-evident.” We will never be able to get to the truth if we do not question the official version and merely accept it as fact.

The 9/11 groups are a diverse group of people, not easily categorized under one label. As a supplement to my column, I have prepared this description of a new group, “Political Leaders for 9/11Truth.” A variety of political parties are represented by individuals from around the globe. I have also listed are various sub-groups within the 9/11 Movement. You may not agree with all views of a particular sub-group but the unified message among them is the need for a new investigation into the cause of the devastating event of September 11, 2001.

Political Leaders for 9/11 Truth was formed on March 5, 2009, and is headed by Councilor Yukihisa Fujita of Japan and former Karen Johnson of Arizona. The organization now joins a growing list of scholars and professionals questioning the official version of what happened on 9/11:

Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth
Firefighters for 9/11 Truth
Lawyers for 9/11 Truth
Medical Professionals for 9/11 Truth
Pilots for 9/11 Truth
Religious Leaders for 9/11 Truth
Scholars for 9/11 Truth & Justice
Veterans for 9/11 Truth

Councilor Yukihisa Fujita states, “Thus far there has been no response from political leaders in Washington or in other capitals around the world. Political Leaders for 9/11 Truth has been formed to encourage such a response.” They are asking political leaders to join them in asking President Barack Obama to authorize a new, truly independent, investigation to determine what happened on 9/11.

This Week in History
This Week in History, published by Carl Bunin and edited by Al Frank, is a collection designed to help us appreciate the fact that we are part of a rich history advocating peace and social justice. While the entries often focus on large and dramatic events there are so many smaller things done everyday to promote peace and justice. Find more info at

March 16, 1968: U.S. troops in South Vietnam killed an estimated 350 unarmed men, women and children in My Lai, a cluster of hamlets in the coastal lowlands of Quang Ngai Province. Lt. William L. Calley, Jr. commanded the men of Charlie Company, First Battalion, Americal Division, and was the only one tried out of 80 involved in what is called the My Lai Massacre. The Army, including a young Major Colin Powell, at first tried to cover it up and the media resisted reporting it. Some of Calley’s soldiers refused to participate, but only 24-year-old helicopter pilot Hugh Thompson and his crew stopped it by putting themselves between villagers and troops pursuing them.

March 16, 2003: Rachel Corrie, an American college student in Gaza to protest Israeli military and security operations, was killed when run over by a bulldozer while trying to stop Israeli troops from demolishing a Palestinian home. The 23-year-old from Olympia, Washington, was a member of International Solidarity Movement and was the first nonviolent western protester to die in the occupied territories.

March 19, 1963: The blacklisting of Pete Seeger (and other members of The Weavers) from the folk music television show “Hootenanny” prompted a boycott by 50 folk artists (The Kingston Trio, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and Peter, Paul & Mary, among others). Seeger had become a cultural hero through his outspoken and joyful commitment to the anti-war and civil rights movements, and helped popularize the anthemic “We Shall Overcome.”


One Response to “GT for March 16 – 22”

  1. […] Greener Times added an interesting post today on GT for March 16 – 22Here’s a small readingGreener Times for the Week of March 16 – 22Volume 3 No. 48an e-publication for Greens anywhere and everywhereTrey Smith – Publisher/EditorTom Herring, Duff Badgley & Maryrose Asher – ColumnistsIn This Week’s Issue * Abbreviated Version * Thoughts By the Way: Dr. Science * Our Climate Crisis: Busing, Cars & Density * Un-Spinning the Spin: American Apathy & the Link to 9/11 * This Week in HistoryAbbreviated Version Your intrepid editor had gallbladder removal surgery on Wednesday after […]

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