Greener Times

Promoting a sustainable society…one day at a time.

Archive for June, 2009

June 29 – July 5

Posted by Trey Smith on June 29, 2009

Greener Times for the Week of June 29 – July 5
Volume 4 No. 11
an e-publication for Greens anywhere and everywhere

Greener Times Collective: Maryrose Asher, Duff Badgley, Tom Herring and Trey Smith (Editor)

In This Week’s Issue
* Why Some Environmentalists Oppose the House Climate Bill
* Corporate Campaign Contributions Make Us All Sick – Literally!
* Thoughts By the Way: A Norwegian Funeral
* Our Climate Crisis: Washington Must Rescind Biofuels Mandates
* Un-Spinning the Spin: (On Vacation)
* This Week in History
* Letters to the Editor
* Pencil Shavings: Lines in the Sand
* News You May Have Missed

Why Some Environmentalists Oppose the House Climate Bill
by Dan Shapley for The Daily Green

With a vote on the American Clean Energy and Security Act — which includes the first nationwide U.S. cap-and-trade regulation for greenhouse gases — coming as early as today [Friday], most environmental groups are marshaling their resources in support of the bill. Well-known and influential groups like the Natural Resource Defense Council, Environmental Defense Fund, The Nature Conservancy and the Sierra Club, as well as the younger but substantial movement spawned by Al Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection, are all urging the House of Representatives to pass the bill, as President Obama has urged.

It’s not surprising, given the rhetoric, (much of it, when it comes to the cost of the bill, deliberately misleading) that many Republicans are lining up against the bill. What isn’t head-in-the-sand obstructionism has a lot of that is the politics of a party out of power trying to damage a popular president. But that’s not the case when it comes to two prominent, if less mainstream, environmental groups, which both vociferously oppose the House climate bill.

Greenpeace opposes the bill because it has been too weakened by industry lobbyists, who Greenpeace says has helped stave off Environmental Protection Agency regulation of the corn ethanol industry, watered down overall targets for carbon emissions reduction and set up a system for trading carbon offsets that the group believes will undermine any significant progress.

“As it comes to the floor, the Waxman-Markey bill sets emission reduction targets far lower than science demands, then undermines even those targets with massive offsets,” said USA Deputy Campaigns Director Carroll Muffett. “The giveaways and preferences in the bill will actually spur a new generation of nuclear and coal-fired power plants to the detriment of real energy solutions. To support such a bill is to abandon the real leadership that is called for at this pivotal moment in history. We simply no longer have the time for legislation this weak.”

Friends of Earth went so far as to launch an ad campaign against the bill (Republican-backed groups have their own anti-climate legislation ad campaign).

“Corporate polluters including Shell and Duke Energy helped write this bill, and the result is that we’re left with legislation that fails to come anywhere close to solving the climate crisis,” said Friends of the Earth President Brent Blackwelder. “Worse, the bill eliminates preexisting EPA authority to address global warming — that means it’s actually a step backward.”

Beyond Pesticides also warned that allowing the Department of Agriculture, rather than the EPA, to oversee farm-related aspects of carbon regulation, while supporting corn ethanol, could result in increases in the use of herbicide, or at least financial incentives for conventional, rather than organic farming.

Friends of the Earth isn’t the only environmental group using advertising to make their case. The Alliance for Climate Protection’s Repower America campaign released a videot, in an effort to get citizens to engage their elected leaders, and urge them to vote in favor of the climate legislation — not only because it represents a huge step forward for U.S. climate policy, but because it will be essential for pushing ahead with United Nations negotiations on a new worldwide climate treaty in Copenhagen in December.

Corporate Campaign Contributions Make Us All Sick – Literally!
by Joe Conason for TruthDig

If Congress fails to enact health care reform this year—or if it enacts a sham reform designed to bail out corporate medicine while excluding the “public option”—then the public will rightly blame Democrats, who have no excuse for failure except their own cowardice and corruption. The punishment inflicted by angry voters is likely to be reduced majorities in both the Senate and the House of Representatives—or even the restoration of Republican rule on Capitol Hill.

Many of those now talking down President Obama’s health care initiative were in Washington back in 1994 when Bill Clinton’s proposals to achieve universal coverage were killed by members of the president’s own party. The Democrats lost control of Congress that November in a historic repudiation, largely because of public disillusionment with their policy failures.

Nearly every poll now shows the American people demanding change in the health care system, with majorities favoring universal coverage and, in many surveys, a government plan that competes with private insurance. But powerful Democratic politicians, especially in the Senate, are pretending not to hear. They adopt all sorts of positions, from bluntly opposing any substantive change this year to promoting bogus alternatives. They claim to be trying to help Obama gather the votes he will need, or to assist him in attracting Republican votes. They insist that the country can’t afford universal care, or that the public option won’t pass (before debate has even begun).

Indeed, many of the most intransigent Democrats don’t bother to make actual arguments to support their position. Nor do they seem to worry that Democratic voters and the party’s main constituencies overwhelmingly support the public option and universal coverage.

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., has simply stated, through her flack, that she refuses to support a public option. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who has tried to fashion a plan that will entice Republicans, warns that the public option is a step toward single-payer health care—not much of an objection to a model that serves people in every other industrialized country with lower costs and superior outcomes. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., feebly protests that her state’s mismanagement by a Republican governor must stall the progress of the rest of the country. Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., says he has a better plan involving regional cooperatives, which would be unable to effectively compete with the insurance behemoths or bargain with pharmaceutical giants.

The excuses sound different, but all of these lawmakers have something in common—namely, their abject dependence on campaign contributions from the insurance and pharmaceutical corporations fighting against real reform. Consider Landrieu, a senator from a very poor state whose working-class constituents badly need universal coverage (and many of whom now depend on Medicare, a popular government program). According to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan watchdog outfit, she has received nearly $1.7 million from corporate medical interests, including hospitals, insurance companies, nursing homes and drug firms, during her political career.

The same kind of depressing figures can be found in the campaign filings of many of the Democrats now posing as obstacles to reform, notably including Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, who has distinguished himself in the most appalling way. The Montana Standard, a news outlet in his home state, found that Baucus has received more campaign money from health and insurance industry donors than any other member of Congress. “In the past six years,” the Standard found, “nearly one-fourth of every dime raised by the Montana senator and his political-action committee has come from groups and individuals associated with drug companies, insurers, hospitals, medical-supply firms, health-service companies and other health professionals.”

Whenever Democratic politicians are confronted with this conflict between the public interest and their private fund-raising, they take offense at the implied insult. They protest, as a spokesman for Sen. Landrieu did, that they make policy decisions based on what is best for the people of their states, “not campaign contributions.” But when health reform fails, or turns into a trough for their contributors, who will believe them? And who will vote for them?

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

During the long cold period The River was a lake having the shape of a broad boomerang. Its orientation to the sun favored the West bank of the upcurrent arm and the North bank of the downcurrent arm, and so here were hunting camps and ruins of camps. Fish and jerky dried well in the cold dry air and hot sun. Eventually, the top of the ice dam began to soften which was watched carefully by the lake. Slowly at first then with a final flood the lake’s secrets were revealed, and the greatest of these was a gently sloping plain of rich soil on the East bank of the upcurrent arm Well mixed with the soil were rocks that broke the wooden plows of the first farmers. But rocks in the soil yielded to iron in the bodies and so the region to be called Five Farms emerged. Not long after the rocks had thinned out traders from the South brought strange ruminants, the production of milk from just one of which equaled that of ten reindeer. Summer pasture soon competed with grain.

Hunting parties and log cutters had long been aware of the Hoa. And so a trail was cut, logs hauled, and a barn with stoggo was constructed. Up the trail went the first dairy herd to pasture on the high windswept tundra. The climate there was even drier than in the valley, so permitting the churn and separation essential to preserving the gift of milk. The milkers were girls.

The trail became a road. Each spring for the next three hundred years the dairy herd was released from its winter stalls to begin the Hoa migration, and so willing they that migration verged on stampede. A visitor in 1960 remarked on the seter: “The barn had a central aisle where in the middle on the downhill side there was a chute for the manure. Next to that was the toilet. Some twenty cows were milked each evening by two girls. Intimacy with the cows included name and temperament, and girl authority was administered to the herd by the bell cow. The girls had earned this authority during the winter at the home barn where they became adept at aiming the stream from a teat into the open mouth of a cat. Churning and the rest was carried out in the stoggo with the aid of water carried from a spring a hundred feet away. That some graduates of the seter later took up nursing may have been due to the seter’s daily challenge to sanitation. Some girls grew plump on the buttermilk. Driving back down, the visitor had met a herd coming up at which herd and car stopped while a bottle of brandy was found, and some glasses.

In 1972 Five Farms abandoned the seter. The chief cause appears to have been a change to a higher producing breed of cow. The new cows liked the seter even more than had the originals, so much more that they took to staying out at night. This was the beginning of the end of small dairies at Five Farms, and for the valley of The River as well. Today a few farms run beef cattle, and most run sheep. Take that summary with a block of salt because dairy economics in Norway with the Continent on the Euro are not simple. Nonetheless, the seter remains in spirit if not in reality for one can still buy sour cream labeled “Seter” which is yellow almost as a buttercup; milk from the summer pasture had been better than winter stall milk.

In June of 2009 there was a death in the Five Farms family which had been founded in 1917 by The Two. There were eight children. First Born inherited the farm. He was a gifted speaker and understood trolls. First Daughter died at age thirteen of pneumonia. Matriarch came to be raised on a high lakeshore farm across The River. Nurse was gifted with a good voice, a perfect ear, and an artist’s eye. She entered a long and successful careeer in surgical nursing. Musician was burdened in later life by arthritis which in her case was cruel for her life was music. An adored teacher, she never gave up. Athlete was graced with a strong physique and endless charm which somehow produced four extrordinary children. Collector spent her early and late years alone which was hard on her but one result was a wonderful creation for a legion of cheese lovers: She had a talent for studying living things too small to see, and so was instrumental in developing a Norwegian semisoft that has climbed many a chart ahead of Swiss. Her middle years were brightened in marriage to another researcher. They collected the work of artists from the valley of The River. Poet counted her opportunities and left town. She would have liked to have the farm and would have been a terrific farmer.

The church is constructed of logs in the planform of a cross. In order to gain height with big windows the logs are held in alignment by column-like clamps one on each side of each window. Guests enter at the base while Family enters at the near end of the cross. The Americans were picked up at the farm by some of Athlete’s family and brought through town, The Bend, around to the high lake road along The River’s steep north bank.. As the car pulled up, the casket was being unloaded at the gate closest to the cross. Five of the six pall bearers were immediate family. By the time the Americans were seated in the left cross the casket had been placed at the crossing. They could look across the casket at the other half of family and sort out the generations. The casket belonged to Collector. She is survived by Nurse, Athlete, and Poet. Several of the guests were her friends and associates from the Agricultural Research Station at Aas.

A long and peaceful wait for the guests to straggle in gave ample time for reflection. A number of relaxed conversations formed between those as yet not seated. A well built youngish man seemed to be in authority. He was here and there, sometimes adjusting a floral do up. A report from the pastor’s meeting the day before held that he was youngish, empathetic, and that he wanted participation. Probably then, this was the pastor. But when at last the organ spoke the actual pastor entered. He was youngish, but had a beard.

The pastor spoke briefly followed by a hymn. He spoke some more, followed by another hymn. He spoke some more and sat down. The organ spelled out an introduction and then softened as a male voice opened up from the balcony. It was Matriarch’s elder son, and the effect was electric, the combined result perhaps of a rich timbre and an exotic melody with less than obvious time.

The pastor spoke at length. When he was through, his clean-shaven disciple held up several of the floral do’s and read off the donor’s message. The ceremonial nature of the proceedings was enhanced by everyone who passed the casket pausing, facing, and bowing their head. Finally coming to the floral do at the foot of the casket, the csd picked it up and was joined by First Born’s elder son who has inherited the farm. The message was read. Back down went the floral do, and the pair returned to the lectern where Elder Son spoke at medium length. The organ then once more introduced Matriarch’s elder who sang two short pieces. One was a kind of vocal equivalent of a hardingsfele composition, no evident time, hauntingly beautiful. The pastor spoke briefly then stepped forward next to the casket and spoke more purposefully. He reached down to a bucket, scooped up a tiny shovelful of earth and poured it directly on the flowers on top of the casket. Still speaking, he added two more scoops. He said something more, then stood in silence as the pall bearers appeared at the casket. They lifted, and started off down the aisle. The casket was followed by her siblings and then the rest of the family.

As family watched, the casket was put into the hearse by way of the rear lift gate. The bearers then stepped back and the pastor appeared. He spoke briefly. Then the csd appeared and pulled gently on the lift gate at which it started down and closed with a soft click. He then went around to the driver’s side and got in. At this the hearse slowly moved off with nothing coming out of the tail pipe. Doubtless everyone present could testify that an invisible hand was helping Collector on her way. After a somewhat startled glance at the seemingly immaculate motion the pastor began working the crowd, greeting each family member with a handshake and a few words. The American said, “good job”. The Pastor smiled beatifically.

The reception was held at a conference hall belonging to an NGO church, that is, not the Church of Norway. The funeral party was all there, and then some it seemed. Seventy, a hundred maybe. No place names, a freeforall, a random sorting of confused standees. Each of four long tables was handed two bowls of dish one, and these handed around. When these disappeared to be followed in like manner by dishes two and three it was apprehended that one go at each was all that a person was going to get. The brief encounters with those full bowls were delicious.

There was more. Above the dining room there was a hall stretching the entire length of the building. It was set with conversation groupings and a supply table groaning under a dozen kinds of cake plus ice cream. The seventy or so guests were accommodated elbows out with room to spare. An hour later the extended relatives and friends had left leaving the family coalesced elbow to elbow around their coffee cups. The manageress had left her station at the urn but was maintaining a benevolent overlook. The end was brought not by runout of conversation, rather by a need for some to hit the road for parts distant. Collector at last had been laid to rest.

First Born had died a week earlier. Both had been residents of the local Helsencentre. So as you see, in spite of the strain on immediate family posed by the coincidence I was not saddened by Collector’s funeral. Do I sound cold? My wife surely would put her feelings differently. For me the funeral was a visit to reality that by the time we were returning over newly brown Greenland had become a fright.

In two weeks I’ll be eighty-eight, and within a few years my world will collapse. Our two granddaughters will face economic hardship and loss of security caused by US decay into a police state. That’s because the US financial, military, corporate complex will not release its hold on the occupied territories of Iraq and Afghanistan, and that’s because the arrival of peak oil will put the US in competition with China. The nuclear tension between Pakistan and India will be the sword of Damacles hanging over the US. The US could stop this looming certainty with a simple statement by Obama that the US will pull out of occupied territories and will cut off aid to Israel. Don’t like that wording? Then go for the heart: Obama is to state that the United States has decided to put the future of the Earth on higher priority than US hegemony.

Obama is not going to do that, just as he is not going to fix health care and just as he has trashed labor to save the thing called General Motors. And he is going to get away with it, for now, because we will let him. Take me. I don’t have what it takes to break ranks and start doorbelling to get my town to tell the county to tell the state, to tell Obama to ask Pastor Wright for forgiveness, now do I? No I don’t, and I have a great alibi: my family, my neighbors, and my Council Board all think consensus on that is impossible, and that attempts to the contrary will rock the boat. No, the government will continue to dance to the demon of world dominance until the sword falls. And then we will rush to our lifeboats and row like hell.

Our Climate Crisis: Washington Must Rescind Biofuels Mandates
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.

The City of Seattle and King County have abandoned their crop-based biofuels programs. So must Washington State.

The state must rescind its myriad laws requiring public and private use of biofuels. These laws force use of crop-based biofuels-—the only biofuels available for mass consumption. Hoping and waiting for so-called “2nd generation” biofuels is denying the global devastation biofuels are wreaking now.

Overwhelming peer-reviewed, published science shows crop-based biofuels do two things:

(1) Cause hunger and starvation affecting hundreds of millions of humans. This why the U.N has called these biofuels a “Crime Against Humanity”.

(2) Cause rainforest destruction releasing massive amounts of carbon dioxide and greatly worsening our Climate Crisis.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency has accepted these studies. King County has accepted these studies. And, now, the City of Seattle has accepted these studies.

It doesn’t matter if the crop used for biofuel feedstock is grown in Washington or Canada or Malaysia. The devastation caused is equivalent. The idea of creating a homegrown Washington State biofuels industry is fatally flawed.

“If you use farmland in North America to grow biofuels, you’re forcing a farmer somewhere else to clear-cut forest to grow food crops. You’ve effectively cut down a rain forest.”

“We looked at all of the current biofuels that are being made around the world and asked if they were causing native ecosystems to be turned into land that would be used to grow the crop. Essentially, all of them are doing that.”

— David Tilman, lead author of the “Land Clearing and the Biofuel Carbon Debt” study published in SCIENCE, February, 2008.

From this study:

“Converting rainforests, peatlands, savannas, or grasslands to produce food crop–based biofuels in Brazil, Southeast Asia, and the United States creates a ‘biofuel carbon debt’ by releasing 17 to 420 times more CO2 than the annual greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions that these biofuels would provide by displacing fossil fuels.”

Tilman’s study, and many others, establish land use change as the mechanism by which crop-based biofuels greatly worsen climate change. The E.P.A, King County, the City of Seattle and climate scientists worldwide have accepted crop-based biofuels force land use change.

Fleet vehicles at the University of Washington show how current WA biofuels laws are so harmful and must be rescinded.

RCW 43.19.642 maintains “effective June 1, 2009, state agencies as a whole are required to use a minimum of 20% biodiesel to operate diesel-powered vessels, vehicles, and construction equipment.”

This is the state law that is being widely ignored and minimally complied with. Washington State ferries have received a two-year exemption from it. Complying would have cost the WSF $8million extra.

But UW is already fully complying. It has been forced to burn crop-based biodiesel because that is the only biofuel available. Its diesel fleet vehicles are currently burning B-20, a 20% blend of American soy biodiesel made by Cargill. Cargill is the world’s largest private corporation with vast holdings in the rainforests of SE Asia and Brazil. It is also protested around the world for its environmental practices.

Last year, One Earth Climate Action group protested UW’s use of canola biodiesel made by Imperium. UW was then burning B-2 and planning to go to B-5. Our protest started direct communications with UW President Mark Emmert. Emmert introduced us to Josh Kavanaugh, UW Director of Fleet Services.

Kavanaugh agreed to delay the increase from B-2 to B-5 because of his concern that biofuels worsened climate change. But this year, RCW 43.19.642 forced Kavanaugh to increase the amount of crop-based biodiesel his fleet burns by ten-fold, to B-20. State law increased the climate damage caused by UW fleet vehicles by a factor of ten.

The governments of the Northwest’s biggest city and its most populous county have quit crop-based biofuels. The State of Washington needs to do the same. It needs to scrap its biofuels mandates now.

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 http://www.peacebuttons.info/E-News/thisweek.htm.

June 30, 2005: Spain legalized same-sex marriage by a vote of 187-147 in parliament. Such couples were also granted the right to adopt and receive inheritances. Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero spoke in support of the bill, “We are expanding the opportunities for happiness of our neighbors, our colleagues, our friends and our relatives. At the same time, we are building a more decent society.

July 2, 1964: Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law, thus barring discrimination in public accommodations (restaurants, stores, theatres, etc.), employment, and voting. The law had survived an 83-day filibuster in the U.S. Senate by 21 members from southern states.

July 4, 1966: The Freedom of Information Act, P.L. 89-487, became law. It established the right of Americans to know what their government is doing by outlining procedures for getting access to internal documents.

Letters to the Editor
Got something you want to get off your chest? Did an article in a previous edition of Greener Times make you madder than a hornet or cause you to stand up to say, “Right on!”? Well, this space is reserved each week for your comments and opinions.

I have had my own share of struggles with Greens who are annoyed by my focus on everything from racism to Leonard Peltier to US/Mexico border human rights/cartel issues. So i bow out of trying on my local discussion list as well as the meetings. I feel that exclusionary focus will not win the day.

So i urge all to listen to the NPR Fresh Air interview with Chip Berlet, one of the foremost researchers on the racist right, conspiracists, militia types in the country. He does a fine job of teasing out the different facets of scapegoatism and bigotry within the 9/11 truth movement.

In 1991, i had the honor of attending an investigative journalism class at MIT given by Berlet. He has been very helpful in my personal research and writings around the racist right in Washington, California and Arizona.

Tho he seems to attribute less influence of the violent racists upon the 9/11 movement than i do, he has a very clear and articulate way of pointing out the spectrum of dangers presented by those who do advocate hate towards gays, abortion provider, immigrants, etc.

It is precisely because i did attend many local meetings of paranoid racists in Stevens and Ferry Counties in eastern Washington that i have developed my own first hand right wing crap detector. It is really tragic that so many racists in the west have been directly involved, if not out right pivotal, in the 9/11 movement. I found so many websites on the first printings of the 9/11 so called “deception dollars” that were anti immigrant, anti semitic, anti choice, pro gun and pro white well armed male that i could not ever see the 9/11 movement as a true force for peace and justice. Some sites were less hateful than others, but way too many included longtime white supremacists, Christian Patriot, Minute Men and others who i do not feel are allies.

I am not willing to trade one jack boot for another, tho i will and have talked to Christian Identity adherents, militia members and others who are very racist. I just wonder if mild mannered racism isn’t what makes the more virulent type possible. How many more innocents will they murder? The abortion providers are people whose privilege and skill make them very visible martyrs, whereas the Mexican man in Pennsylvania beaten to death recently by racist teens who got 6 to 7 months jail gets little to no press. Too many go down without a whimper due to the invisibility of their marginalized voicelessness. All too often, the american death squads are the killers.

I feel all of us who care truly for authentic peace and justice need to deeply and carefully educate ourselves about what we all face. Too many activists never have lifted a finger to dismantle their own bigotry. Consequently, little is done when racism appears. I take it on wherever i encounter it. Isolating to say the least.

I will again say that “respect for diversity” is way weak. We need to truly stand for an end to all genocide and dismantling of all bigotry. I suggest people check out the School of the Americas Watch website for some of the best anti oppression materials i have ever seen.

I also struggle with the Backbone Campaign as i feel the money thing drives the machine rather than simply doing the right thing. I have been gently excluded due to my deep radicalism.

I risked arrest 3 times last winter with mostly young people. Twice a few of us were confronted by the Coast Guard. The second time they gave me a letter warning me if i was out in a kayak in the Glacier/Cal/Portland mining pier territory, i would face felony charges and up to 6 years in jail. I believe the felony charges need to be challenged and if we are serious about stopping Glacier, we need to be ready to make serious sacrifices. Backbone controls most energy around this issue now and their approach is much more fun based, which is ok, but fun and facing felonies might be a bit more effective.

When one puts out calls for Gandhian and MLK type action, it means major sacrifice and not symbolic easy actions. I worry about the easy way out approach.

I also feel nonprofit organizations tend to be white male dominated and exclusionary. I wonder just how committed to equality the Green Party is as i have addressed this all over Washington as well as in Santa Barbara, California. Cindy Sheehan said the Green Party should be called the White Party. We need to seriously act on this.

Best to all and may we find a way to unify. Isolation is very painful.

In peaceful struggle,
swaneagle

Pencil Shavings: Lines in the Sand
Pencil Shavings appears in this space most weeks and solely represents the opinions of the publisher. If you’d like to read more of Trey’s ruminations, visit The Rambling Taoist.

As we’ve watched the debate unfold re the Obama adminstration’s climate action bill, we’ve seen some enviro groups endorse it soundly and others pan it just as strenuously. This is but one example of the difficulty in deciding where each person and group will draw their line in the sand. Regardless of the specific issue, one argument that almost always is made is that, while the current legislation isn’t up to snuff, it’s better than no legislation at all. The other side then argues that a flawed bill or statute may actually harm the intent behind the effort by providing so many loopholes and so much vagueness that it’s nothing more than a facade of needed change or action.

Consequently, deciding where to draw the proverbial line is never cast in stone. Interested parties must weigh many factors and, often, come to some painful decisions. As we’ve witnessed re the topic of climate change, these decisions often pit friend against friend and ally against ally.

Personally, I’ve never favored the “it’s better than nothing” argument. This is how the Democrats get elected again and again. They know that they have far too many progressives in their hip pocket and so they cater their political message to baser interests — they know all along that their progressive base will hold their noses and vote Dem because it’s better than nothing (Republicans).

For me, if a person or group believes an issue is worth fighting for, then they/we should fight for what they/we want, not simply back a proposal that merits one speck above zero. If a person is so willing to cave in on too many of their fundamental beliefs, it really makes me wonder how important those beliefs were in the first place.

In the end, I stand with the great socialist candidate and orator Eugene V. Debs. I’d rather stand strong for what I believe in and lose than standby mealy-mouthed for something I don’t think betters the cause and achieve a modicum of success. Really? What’s the point in that?

News You May Have Missed

Democrats Have Moved To The Right And The Right Has Moved Into A Mental Hospital
Bill Maher followed up last week’s criticism of President Obama on Friday by taking on the entire political spectrum, accusing Democrats of selling out and Republicans of being “religious lunatics and Civil War reenactors.” He began the segment (“White Men Can’t Harumph”) by addressing the response to his critique of Obama: “It made some liberals very angry, my phone rang off the hook, my email filled up and Nancy Pelosi got so mad her face moved. Look, folks, I like Obama too, I’m just saying let’s not make it a religion…”

Lobbying is a Lucrative Investment
Your investments might have suffered as a result of the financial crisis, but Big Business has found one successful investment that may be recession-proof: lobbying. Using CRP data on lobbying expenditures by S&P 500 firms, three finance professors recently published a report stating that for every dollar a company spends on lobbying, its value increases by $200. The study, entitled “Determinants and Effects of Corporate Lobbying,” was released on June 15…

Obama’s Stonewall
In 1996, when Barack Obama was running for the Illinois Senate, he was asked in a survey by Outlines, a gay community newspaper in Chicago, if he supported same-sex marriage. Unlike most candidates, who merely indicated yes or no, Obama took the unusual step of typing in his response, to which he affixed his signature. Back then not a single state permitted same-sex marriage, and sodomy was a crime. Nonetheless, Obama took a position on the progressive edge of the Democratic Party, and he did so with unmistakable clarity: “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages.” Since then, as Obama traced his dazzling arc to the presidency, his stance on gay rights has become murkier, wordier, less courageous, more Clintonian…

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June 22 – 28

Posted by Trey Smith on June 20, 2009

Greener Times for the Week of June 22 – 28
Volume 4 No. 10
an e-publication for Greens anywhere and everywhere

Greener Times Collective: Maryrose Asher, Duff Badgley, Tom Herring and Trey Smith (Editor)

In This Week’s Issue
* No Safe Amount: The Handshake Theory of Chemical Toxicity
* Eating Meat Is Not Natural
* Ranked Choice Voting Event
* 9/11 Blueprint for Truth
* Thoughts By the Way: (On Vacation)
* Our Climate Crisis: Seattle Quits Biofuels – The Follow-Up
* Un-Spinning the Spin: If You Are Not Part of the Solution, You Are Part of the Problem
* This Week in History
* Pencil Shavings: Not So Far Off the Grid
* News You May Have Missed

No Safe Amount: The Handshake Theory of Chemical Toxicity
by Christine Lepisto for TreeHugger

The medieval physician Paracelsus said: “Poison is in everything, and no thing is without poison. The dosage makes it either a poison or a remedy.” Often quoted in paraphrase as the dose makes the poison, this truism has dominated regulation and chemical management for centuries. Agencies strive to keep people and the environment healthy by establishing the “safe” level of a chemical.

At the same time that regulatory systems have proceeded on the “safe” level theory, biochemists have expanded the state of knowledge about the role of chemical messengers in the body. And the clash of cultures is about to change the way we think about chemicals in our lives. What does it mean for you?

How to Understand Chemical Safety

This change can be compared to Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. As ordinary individuals, we experience the laws of nature at a high level. Our gut reactions to the world around us stem from that experience. Just as we can understand an apple dropping from a tree, or judge the speed of traffic to cross a street, we know that a glass of wine with dinner feels fine but a bottle of vodka after work will end up as a raging headache.

But explain the theory of time dilation, the idea that traveling close to the speed of light slows down time, to we ordinary mortals and we are stunned at the thought. You might also be stunned to consider what a delicately balanced organism you inhabit at the molecular level. At this level, chemicals act more like a handshake than like that third pint of beer.

Think of it this way: under the dose makes the poison argument, if you send 100,000 letters of application out to random addresses, you might land a job. Under the handshake theory, if you network with ten people in a position to offer a job that fits your skills, you will probably be employed soon.

What does it mean to us?

In the first place, it means that the chemical testing we currently do to establish if a chemical is safe may not be sufficient. In particular, we may not be targeting nor understanding the effects of extremely low levels of chemical contaminants during critical phases when the organism is “listening” for chemical messengers. This occurs, for example, during fetal development and during changes that occur in puberty. The first question we need to be asking is: does this chemical mimic any of the messenger chemicals that organisms depend upon for survival?

In the second place, it means that we will see changes in the way regulators deal with chemicals. That is good if you think about reducing the number of five-legged frogs, but can lead to clashes if you think about the effect that banning or restricting chemicals might have on the economy or our way of life. Are we doomed to suffer a life without the convenience of plastic products that use bisphenol-A or the phthalates DEHP, BBP and DBP.

It will indubitably hurt. But stay tuned for continuing news on the green alternatives to chemical hazards which could usher in a booming new economy based on better chemistry.

Eating Meat Is Not Natural
by Kathy Freston for AlterNet

Going through the reader feedback on some of my recent articles, I noticed the frequently stated notion that eating meat was an essential step in human evolution. While this notion may comfort the meat industry, it’s simply not true, scientifically.

Dr. T. Colin Campbell, professor emeritus at Cornell University and author of The China Study, explains that in fact, we only recently (historically speaking) began eating meat, and that the inclusion of meat in our diet came well after we became who we are today. He explains that “the birth of agriculture only started about 10,000 years ago at a time when it became considerably more convenient to herd animals. This is not nearly as long as the time [that] fashioned our basic biochemical functionality (at least tens of millions of years) and which functionality depends on the nutrient composition of plant-based foods.”

That jibes with what Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine President Dr. Neal Barnard says in his book, The Power of Your Plate, in which he explains that “early humans had diets very much like other great apes, which is to say a largely plant-based diet, drawing on foods we can pick with our hands. Research suggests that meat-eating probably began by scavenging — eating the leftovers that carnivores had left behind. However, our bodies have never adapted to it. To this day, meat-eaters have a higher incidence of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other problems.”

There is no more authoritative source on anthropological issues than paleontologist Dr. Richard Leakey, who explains what anyone who has taken an introductory physiology course might have discerned intuitively — that humans are herbivores. Leakey notes that “[y]ou can’t tear flesh by hand, you can’t tear hide by hand … We wouldn’t have been able to deal with food source that required those large canines” (although we have teeth that are called “canines,” they bear little resemblance to the canines of carnivores).

In fact, our hands are perfect for grabbing and picking fruits and vegetables. Similarly, like the intestines of other herbivores, ours are very long (carnivores have short intestines so they can quickly get rid of all that rotting flesh they eat). We don’t have sharp claws to seize and hold down prey. And most of us (hopefully) lack the instinct that would drive us to chase and then kill animals and devour their raw carcasses. Dr. Milton Mills builds on these points and offers dozens more in his essay, “A Comparative Anatomy of Eating.”

The point is this: Thousands of years ago when we were hunter-gatherers, we may have needed a bit of meat in our diets in times of scarcity, but we don’t need it now. Says Dr. William C. Roberts, editor of the American Journal of Cardiology, “Although we think we are, and we act as if we are, human beings are not natural carnivores. When we kill animals to eat them, they end up killing us, because their flesh, which contains cholesterol and saturated fat, was never intended for human beings, who are natural herbivores.”

Sure, most of us are “behavioral omnivores” — that is, we eat meat, so that defines us as omnivorous. But our evolution and physiology are herbivorous, and ample science proves that when we choose to eat meat, that causes problems, from decreased energy and a need for more sleep up to increased risk for obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

Old habits die hard, and it’s convenient for people who like to eat meat to think that there is evidence to support their belief that eating meat is “natural” or the cause of our evolution. For many years, I too, clung to the idea that meat and dairy were good for me; I realize now that I was probably comforted to have justification for my continued attachment to the traditions I grew up with.

But in fact top nutritional and anthropological scientists from the most reputable institutions imaginable say categorically that humans are natural herbivores, and that we will be healthier today if we stick with our herbivorous roots. It may be inconvenient, but alas, it is the truth.

Ranked Choice Voting Event
Submitted by Joe Szwaja

Hi, friends! Hope you can make this important event to promote Ranked Choice Voting in King County.

* Ranked Choice Voting (a.k.a. Instant Runoff Voting) has been enacted for UW campus elections

* Ranked Choice Voting is now the law in Pierce County elections

* Ranked Choice Voting is being officially studied by the King County Citizens Election Oversight Committee (Thank you to everyone who lobbied to get RCV to this point for King County!!!!)

Come find out how we can enact Ranked Choice Voting for City of Seattle and King County elections, and protect RCV where it has been enacted!

Friday, June 26, 7:00 pm
University Friends Meeting House, 4001 9th Ave NE in Seattle

Featured speakers/performers:

Krist Novoselic is the former bassist in the Seattle-born grunge band Nirvana and currently the bassist for the band Flipper. He founded JAMPAC, an organization that works to protect the rights of free expression. He authored Of Grunge and Government: Let’s Fix this Broken Democracy. He is also a poet and gardener at his farm in southwestern Washington. Hear Krist play a few tunes while panel members and the audience try to play along!

Dr. Rich Anderson-Connolly is a professor of comparative sociology at the University of Puget Sound, and was the leader of the successful campaign to enact Ranked Choice Voting in Pierce County. Rich will tell us how his group pulled it off, how opponents of democracy have continued to attack RCV there, and in particular how powerful interests are trying again to repeal RCV for Pierce County this November

Erik Connell is a former intern at FairVote, in Takoma Park, Maryland, where he helped with numerous efforts to enact election reform around the country. Erik is returning to his home town of Tacoma, Washington to help stop what is expected to be a well-funded effort to repeal RCV in Pierce County.

Joe Szwaja is a former member of the Madison City Council, current president of Ranked Choice Voting for Washington who led the successful effort to get RCV studied by the King County Council. He will tell us how our efforts have gotten RCV one step closer to reality in King County and what we can do to help get it on the ballot.

See the unveiling of the new DVD … If It Plays in Pierce County with footage from the grassroots testimony that convinced the King County Charter Review Commission to study RCV .Donations are gratefully accepted to help fund the DVD and our other ongoing efforts to enact RCV in King County and throughout Washington.

To learn more: http://irvwa.org/get-involved

9/11 Blueprint for Truth
Submitted by Dr. Richard Curtis

Half of America questions the “official” 9/11 story – find out why at Seattle’s Town Hall on Saturday, June 27 at 7PM.

Tickets: http://www.BrownPaperTickets.com.

An evening with Richard Gage, AIA, founder of Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth; and Seattle Firefighter, Erik Lawyer, founder of Firefighters for 9/11 Truth. Town Hall is at 1119 8th Ave. in Seattle, reduced parking at the Convention Center (1 long block away, save your ticket). The event will be hosted by Seattle Green, Dr. Richard Curtis.

Our Climate Crisis: Seattle Quits Biofuels – The Follow-Up
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.

“It wasn’t long after Seattle city government got its first taste of biodiesel five years ago that it was hooked. By 2009, it had a 73,000 gallon-per-month habit. Last month, the city and its massive fleet of vehicles dropped that habit, cold turkey.” — KING 5 TV broadcast, 6-18-09

One Earth Climate Action Group is claiming victory.

Since 2007, One Earth has been conducting street protests and direct negotiations with the City of Seattle to pressure them to make this decision. One Earth also placed Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels under Citizens’ Arrest in March, 2008 for ‘Biofuel Crime Against Humanity’. Police declined to arrest One Earth founder, Duff Badgley, when he stormed the stage where Nickels spoke at the 2009 Green Festival.

What do the Associated Press, United Press International, National Public Radio, and The Seattle Post-Intelligencer and have in common with Seattle’s KING 5 TV? They all ran the big story this week about the City of Seattle quitting biofuels.

It is a sensational story. It shows how Seattle and King County—the Northwest’s biggest city and Washington’s most populous county—have become the epicenters for a crucial climate movement: resisting biofuels ruin. Both Seattle and King County have now quit crop-based biofuels. Before they quit cold turkey, these two governments collectively burned almost 3 million gallons of biodiesel per year. They were the largest government biofuels consumers in the Northwest.

Getting this story carried regionally and nationally was crucial to One Earth’s 2-year-old campaign to force King County and the City of Seattle to quit biofuels. Public perception and behavior must be changed. We must resist the tsunami of biofuel insanity sweeping the state, the nation and the globe.

Crop-based biofuels are the only biofuels available for mass consumption. If we are to have a Livable Planet, all crop-based biofuels must be prohibited.

All crop-based biofuels, the only biofuels available for mass consumption, do two things:

(1) Cause hunger and starvation affecting hundreds of millions of humans. This why the U.N has called these biofuels a “Crime Against Humanity”.
Sources:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/7065061.stm
http://siteresources.worldbank.org/NEWS/Resources/risingfoodprices_backgroundnote_apr08.pdf
http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=26289&Cr=food&Crl=prices

(2) Cause rainforest destruction releasing massive amounts of carbon dioxide and greatly worsening our Climate Crisis.
Sources:
http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/1152747
http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/1151861
http://www.newsweek.com/id/110636

Join us.

We are targeting Washington State next. Washington government knowingly participates in Crimes Against Humanity and Crimes Against the Earth with its immensely harmful biofuel mandates.

Un-Spinning the Spin: If You Are Not Part of the Solution, You Are Part of the Problem
Maryrose Asher is a former Chair of the Green Party of Washington State and a tireless activist of many causes.

Another supplemental war funding bill has passed through congress thanks to the Democrats.

I agree with what Bruce Gagnon, Coordinator of Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, had to say on his blog dated Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I am sick to my stomach. I watched in total horror yesterday the sad performance by the Democratic Party as they begged, borrowed, and stole the votes to pass the $106 billion war supplemental in the House of Misrepresentatives.

One particularly disgusting moment was watching House Majority Leader Steney Hoyer (D-MD) stand up and invoke the name of Ronald Reagan to sell the war package.

Progressive blogger Jane Hamsher, meanwhile, reported on Monday that it appeared Obama’s Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel was “cutting deals with Republicans to go easy on them in the 2010 elections in exchange for votes.” In the end, the White House got five Republicans to vote for the funding, including New York Republican John McHugh, the man President Obama nominated two weeks ago to be Army secretary.

Of the $106 billion, $80 billion goes to military operations. Some of the other allocations were:

1. A $5 billion leverage to secure $108 billion US line of credit for the International Monetary Fund to bailout European banks.
2. $1 billion for the “cash for clunkers” program to give rebates to folks who trade in their gas guzzlers for more “fuel efficient” cars.
3. $7.7 billion to respond to the flu epidemic.
4. $10 billion in development and security aid for Pakistan, Iraq, Mexico, the nation of Georgia, and others.
5. $534 million for 185,000 service members affected by stop-loss orders who had their enlistments involuntarily extended. They will get $500 a month for every month their enlistment was extended.
6. $2.17 billion (thanks to John Murtha getting some “pork”) for eight C-17 transport planes that the Pentagon did not want.

As reported by the Associated Press, “House passes $106 billion war funding bill,” the prohibition on releasing torture photos of detainees was removed, but notice Obama’s guarantee below.

Republicans also objected to a decision by House-Senate negotiators to remove a provision prohibiting the release of photos depicting U.S. troops abusing detainees. It was taken out, “at the demands of the fringe left,” said House Republican leader John Boehner, R-Ohio.

Obama, in negotiating the removal of the provision, guaranteed that he would stop the release of photos showing detainee abuse.

Another little-mentioned fact was the denial of $80 million to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay that Obama requested. I argue this is, in fact, another concession to President Obama since the details of where to move the detainees has not been settled, especially since the Obama Department of Justice continues to deny them their right to habeas corpus. Congress just provided an excuse for why Guantanamo will not be closed so Obama does not have to face the public with yet another broken campaign promise.

But, not all the blame can be laid at the feet of our elected representatives. The Progressive Movement as a whole is to blame, especially those who cling to the Democratic Party.

How many of you have heard this remark from your Democratic friends, associates, and relatives (as posted at  in an article titled “Obama a Very Smooth Liar” by John R. MacArthur).

And, John McCain + Sarah Palin would be better????

We weren’t duped, we had no choice. Anyone who believes that the People of the United States have any say in what the fascists (corporations and government) do are just as duped as you say we are.
Amitola | 06.17.09 – 2:42 pm

In reply, was this follow-up post:

Don’t give me that tired bullshit “we had no choice”, Amitola. You had a choice!!! You could’ve stayed home and not voted and not contributed to the sham that is America’s election system OR you could’ve voted with a conscience and voted for Cynthia McKinney or Ralph Nader or one of the Socialist Equality Party candidates. And don’t give me that tired shit about throwing away your vote on a candidate who has no chance of winning. Only idiotic Democrats use that tired and cowardly excuse. YOU and others like you got exactly what you voted for with Status Quobama. Unfortunately, the rest of us who didn’t vote for the Imperialist of a Darker Color are having to pay for your idiocy as well. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Amitola. I’m sick of the stupid excuses for doing the wrong thing!
Kris | 06.17.09 – 3:05 pm

As long as those in the Progressive Movement continue to see the Democratic Party as not as bad as the OTHER party, our government’s policies will continue along its same course.

The role of the Protest Industry on behalf of the Democratic Party must also be openly discussed and confronted.

For example, I was personally taken aback by comments key players within the Backbone Campaign made about a conference call interview with Cynthia McKinney they had done. This was before she had announced as the Green Party presidential candidate. Once the elections were underway, they “poisoned the well” as far as McKinney’s campaign by alleging she was so drunk during that interview that they could not post it to their website. With other Green Party members here on Vashon, I listened to this tape at one of our meetings, and admit it was a poor interview both on Cynthia’s part and the interviewer’s part, but to accuse her of being drunk on this conference call went beyond the pale.

If you think I am being unfair to the Backbone Campaign to suggest they were against Cynthia McKinney’s presidential campaign, see “Islanders celebrate Obama’s win at Backbone Campaign benefit” by Elizabeth Shepherd (Nov. 6, 2008).

At the website Lobbying and Political Activity by Tax-Exempt Organizations, we find:

In IRC 501(c)(3), lobbying is described as “carrying on propaganda, or otherwise attempting, to influence legislation,” while political activity is described as “participat[ing] in, or interven[ing] in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.” In short, IRC 501(c)(3) organizations may take sides with respect to political issues, but not political candidates. Since candidates commonly array themselves on opposite sides of issues, there are obvious difficulties at times in distinguishing between actions that support an issue but not a particular candidate.

After the elections, the Backbone Campaign changed its focus to environmental issues, specifically the gravel pit here on Vashon Island. I am not suggesting that it is not a good cause. What I am suggesting is that this convenient change to environmental issues is for the sole purpose of not going up against their friends in the Democratic Party. If they started taking on Obama, they would lose the donations they need to pay their administrative costs. It is always about the money.

MoveOn is another example of a group in the pockets of the Democrats for years, but it is now so blatant no one is denying it. The same goes for The Nation magazine.

The Protest Industry has effectively been used by the Democrats to get their candidates in office and to put the blinders on the Progressive Movement. They have also drained money that could have gone to build a third party.

Take off the blinders and realize that not only the Democrats in the Progressive Movement but these organizations as well are all part of the problem, not the solution.

We will look back at this time as a crucial time in history. The Green Party had a strong candidate in Ralph Nader in 2000 and these groups turned on the Green Party and blamed it for Bush winning the election and all that followed. The Republicans did not do this to the Green Party – fellow progressives in the Democratic Party did it! They continued their criticism not only in 2004 but through the 2006 congressional and 2008 presidential elections as well.

Unfortunately, we are all having to face the repercussions of their misdirected loyalty to a party that has blood on its hands, just as red and as drenched as the Republicans.

Get the word out that the Democrats are corrupt with no hope of redemption. Tell any Democratic sympathizers you know that they are part of the problem. If there was ever a time for a mass exodus from this pathetic political party and its backers in the Protest Industry, it is now.

It is obvious our elected officials are not responding to our calls, our petitions, or our marches in the street and are only listening to the Democratic Leadership Council. Their only concern is getting re-elected, not the will of the people. As for the Protest Industry, it is all about donations to hold on to their little niche of the market.

The time for patience, politeness, and understanding has come to an end. Show you really care about what has been done to this country by these co-conspirators.

I am asking GT readers to feel the same lack of comradeship with a Democrat as you do a Republican. Do not waste another minute of your time or 5 cents of your hard-earned money to support the Democrats through their puppet organizations. Help organize, build, and finance a viable third party that will bring the progressive movement under one umbrella. It is the only way to change the system.

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 http://www.peacebuttons.info/E-News/thisweek.htm.

June 23, 1972: Life magazine published a photo by Vietnamese photographer Nick Ut of children running from an attack with Napalm, an incendiary chemical weapon used widely by U.S. forces to burn out the jungle, thus eliminating cover for North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops. Napalm, a sticky mixture of gasoline, polystyrene and benzene that burns at very high temperature, had been used in WWII and Korea.

June 25, 1948: The United States, Great Britain and France began the Berlin Airlift of food and supplies to the German city in defiance of the Soviet Union’s blockade of the roads. At the height of the Airlift, two groups of planes flew in four-hour blocks around the clock. While one group of aircraft was loaded and serviced, the other group was in the air. On the 264-mile route, 32 aircraft were in the air simultaneously. Supplies would be quickly unloaded and the aircraft would return for more food, fuel and other necessities for the 2.5 million West Berliners. It was the most ambitious aerial supply operation in history. The blockade was not lifted until the following May but the airlift continued for four months more.

June 27, 1954: Military action directed and funded by the CIA (Operation PBSUCCESS) forced the resignation of the Guatemalan President, Jacobo Arbenz Guzman. Winner of the country’s first election under universal suffrage, and having taken office in the country’s first peaceful transition of governments, he was accused by the U.S. of Communist influence. Following the coup d’etat, hundreds of Guatemalans were rounded up and killed. Between 1954 and 1990, human rights groups estimate, the security forces of successive military regimes murdered more than 100,000 civilians, including genocide against Guatemalan native peoples.

Pencil Shavings: Not So Far Off the Grid
Pencil Shavings appears in this space most weeks and solely represents the opinions of the publisher. If you’d like to read more of Trey’s ruminations, visit The Rambling Taoist.

At age 51 — my current age — Dick Proenneke made a rather atypical decision. He didn’t buy himself a fancy red sports car, start dating a young woman or join the Hair Club for Men. Dick decided to retire to the wilds of Alaska. Over the next 30 years, he lived alone in a cabin he built with his own muscle and basic hand tools in a remote section of southwestern Alaska (now within the boundaries of Lake Clark National Park & Reserve).

He lived in an area with no roads, no electricity, no running water, no human neighbors and no Wi-Fi. The nearest town was Port Alsworth, 40 miles away as the crow flies. He lived on the shores of a pristine lake and lived by a motto that the area would be no worse off due to his presence. He was a master recycler and took only from the land what he could give back.

Dick filmed a good deal of his life in this primitive setting and a film, “Alone in the Wilderness” is often shown on PBS. (You can purchase a copy of the dvd/vhs at http://www.dickproenneke.com/). He also kept years of journals that were later used in two books, one of which I’m reading now.

It’s quite easy to view his later years in awe. Just the thought of a man hewing his own life in the wilds — far away from the big city lights — can cause many of us to wax poetically. In reality, however, Proenneke didn’t live as far off the grid as it first appears.

Every few weeks, a friendly area bush pilot flew in supplies. Dick typically had in his cupboards bacon, eggs, butter, fresh vegetables and fruits, and other assorted foods of modern society. He regularly ordered replacement tools from the Sears catalog. For a few weeks each year he’d visit friends in the Port Alsworth area and even made several trips to the lower 48 to see family. So, while he was farther off the grid than most of us will ever be, the grid made his life possible in his wilderness home. He is not the modern day Jeremiah Johnson that some have made him out to be.

Be that as it may, we can each learn a lesson from the Dick Proenneke’s of the world. If we could each shut down our computers and cell phones for one day per week or adopt some of the sustainable habits that became second-nature to Dick, we would find that we could be much easier on the earth and rediscover our own self-reliance. In essence, even within the confines of this modern world, we could live our lives more in step with nature.

News You May Have Missed

Far-Right Shootings Raise Fear of Hate Offensive in America
A series of attacks by rightwing extremists has raised fears of a new wave of violence triggered by the economic crisis and the election of the country’s first black president. Since the inauguration of Barack Obama this year a series of shootings have taken place, with targets ranging from an abortion clinic to a liberal church and police officers. The attacks have often been fueled by a potent mix of race hate and conspiracy theories…

US Cities May Have to Be Bulldozed in Order to Survive
The government looking at expanding a pioneering scheme in Flint, one of the poorest US cities, which involves razing entire districts and returning the land to nature. Local politicians believe the city must contract by as much as 40 per cent, concentrating the dwindling population and local services into a more viable area. The radical experiment is the brainchild of Dan Kildee, treasurer of Genesee County, which includes Flint. Having outlined his strategy to Barack Obama during the election campaign, Mr Kildee has now been approached by the US government and a group of charities who want him to apply what he has learnt to the rest of the country…

The American Empire Is Bankrupt
This week marks the end of the dollar’s reign as the world’s reserve currency. It marks the start of a terrible period of economic and political decline in the United States. And it signals the last gasp of the American imperium. That’s over. It is not coming back. And what is to come will be very, very painful. Barack Obama, and the criminal class on Wall Street, aided by a corporate media that continues to peddle fatuous gossip and trash talk as news while we endure the greatest economic crisis in our history, may have fooled us, but the rest of the world knows we are bankrupt…

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