Greener Times

Promoting a sustainable society…one day at a time.

July 6 – 12

Posted by Trey Smith on July 5, 2009

Greener Times for the Week of July 6 – July 12
Volume 4  No. 12
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
* Post Internet Journalism & the Assumption that Energy is Unlimited
* Letter from an Israeli Jail
* Environmental Toll of Plastics
* Thoughts By the Way: Money Can Be Hazardous to Your Health
* Our Climate Crisis: (On Vacation)
* Un-Spinning the Spin: California Peace & Freedom Party Calls for National Party
* This Week in History
* Letters to the Editor
* Pencil Shavings: The Quintessential American Way
* News You May Have Missed

Post Internet Journalism & the Assumption that Energy is Unlimited
by Jan Lundberg of Culture Change

It is true that the Internet has challenged the newspaper business like nothing else. The Internet has also changed social networking and activist organizing. But we must also see beyond the Internet, a system that banks on the notion of unlimited non-renewable resources for computers, power generation, and shipping through petroleum. The Internet also operates on anonymity or the potential for it, as little face-to-face communication is required. Is that really the future?

From the comfort of an ivory observation tower, an Internet pundit for corporate America and ostensibly the public reflects on recent revolutionary changes in publishing:

“When people demand to know how we are going to replace newspapers, they are really demanding to be told that we are not living though a revolution. They are demanding to be told that old systems won’t break before new systems are in place. They are demanding to be told that ancient social bargains aren’t in peril, that core institutions will be spared, that new methods of spreading information will improve previous practice rather than upending it. They are demanding to be lied to.” — Clay Shirky, Utne Reader July-Aug. 2009

This excellent logic can be transferred to other areas such as the technofix: people are demanding energy to use freely, and they believe that they’ve gone far enough by accepting the idea that oil or fossil fuels will be phased out voluntarily or otherwise. But they have a ground rule: continued energy is the only way. To disagree is to deny science — or that’s their implied accusation.

Meanwhile, researchers have estimated that one Internet search generates around 7 grams of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere, due to the energy demands of Internet computers. One can defend this by pointing out that transportation and other major energy uses are many times the amount of computers’ use of energy, but the armchair energy analyst does not appreciate that the energy industries cannot be reshaped into mini-versions of themselves for drastically reduced, special uses. In other words, the ongoing energy and materials usage for the Internet is part of the hard-wired petroleum infrastructure and cannot be teased out for sustainable operation — certainly not like the printing press’s five hundred years of far lower energy requirement. Low technology and smaller populations also meant low volume consumption of trees or other plants for paper. Additionally, today people are oblivious to the huge demand for water posed by silicon chip production — and fresh water in large quantity usually means massive energy requirements.

A new way of thinking about energy is overdue. Back when people made do with available resources in their own locales for thousands of years, there was no “energy issue.” While energy was part of everything they did, especially when burning a log for the campfire or hearth, the essentials of life were obtained without concern over energy sources per se. After all, the log was part of the forest and could be used for materials for shelter or tools. Nowadays, when the inherent energy in local water supplies, local wood and the sun shining down on us is deemed to be insufficient, we have made the choice to believe we are deprived of the means to live “normally.” We want a lot of power and fuel to alter our environment and manipulate our universe. Because this has been the way things have been done, increasingly so in the last several decades, most of us have assumed it can and should continue. Certainly the Powers That Be tell us we simply must have vast energy supplies to keep “our” economy afloat. These assumptions can suddenly be cancelled by the reality of petrocollapse or climate extinction.

Intertwined in the desire for continued energy profligacy is the notion of technological progress. In fact, energy from wood-burning is devalued compared to some plastic/metal gizmo that converts one form of energy to another through entropy (unavoidable waste). While many modern users of energy are happy enough to have wood for their stoves and solar energy panels for their “essential” electrical gadgets, it is the sophisticated communications of electronic publishing and images that are deemed to be the most essential to “our way of life” that we wish upon all humans so that they may participate. But what about the fact that many of them may not have their own machines and power supply? If the machine and power must be shared, this becomes a community tool that is opposed to isolated consuming and informing one’s self for hours per day. One ignored consequence of this, besides energy pollution, is the physical pain or injury from excessive sitting and repetitive motion. Yet some people need some isolation while doing intense research reading and writing to produce articles and actions that help enlighten millions of people to transform into sustainable lifestyles. Tradeoffs are necessary, especially during the climate disruption and resource depletion emergency.

These issues bring up the matters of human communication, health, environmental care, and the place of future publishing and journalism. Why should communication and massive indulgence in unlimited information be considered an untouchable right? We can readily agree that knowing about global threats such as radiation-release accidents and the imminent approach of a hurricane can only be good. But for everyone to know the direction of the stock market, or the latest propaganda from governments, is questionable. In any case, we will soon be forced to do without this command over information and news.

As social change is indeed a volatile and essential component of modern life, as we collectively lurch toward a sustainable society, we can appreciate the helpful power of a cell-phone transmission of text or video. The Iranian uprising against dictatorship is a case in point. This is a time when activism’s communications capability is appreciated greatly, and we cheer the Internet’s role. Culture Change published an account from a professor on the streets of Tehran a few days ago, which would have been well nigh impossible a short number of years ago. The Iranian revolution of 1978 was more slowly shared with world audiences.

Culture Change began in 1988 with the usual tools of organizing and publishing. We used the national media to announce our presence, disseminate our ideas and calls for action, and we got in return some great contributions on the intellectual, emotional and financial levels. This pattern continued until the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Then the drop in foundations’ Wall Street portfolios meant our grants and donations dried up considerably. We ceased printing the Culture Change magazine (formerly Auto-Free Times), and we relied on the Internet to keep in touch with our audience. This happened so fast, and without much financial resources, that we were unable to reach all our print readers to inform them of our changes. We therefore adopted a new core audience of Internet users, and hoped that our print readers remembered that we had been cultivating an Internet presence. Our activism and the tone of our message changed with the technology at hand. There was something lost to the world without our magazines to hold in one’s hands. Now we were competing for a little bit of attention on a reader’s computer-screen whose pages changed as fast as possible, if a user wanted to get through his or her day and have time to eat, shower, walk, etc.

Culture Change therefore experienced what the newspaper-business casualties experienced: changing or perishing. As activists rather than simply journalists, we were comfortable with the change. But we found that writers of books were increasingly taking advantage of the demise of activist magazines and journals by marketing something the Internet could not replace: a book in the hand or for the shelf to decorate a coffee table or shelf. As the years went by, some of our old magazine readers as well as our Internet readers were able to publish books that served to provide a longer view than Internet publishing. Books may always be with us, even after a total socioeconomic crash. But will the Internet?

Electronic communications are the epitome of modern isolation, alienation, pollution and frivolity. The millions of computers, cell phones, DVDs made of bisphenol-A, and video games, as well as peripheral units such as modems, routers, printers, etc., are an ecological disaster. As to their sustainability, their ability to let an individual be off the grid is more an elitist indulgence than a major trend. For the bulk of energy use and machine-gadgets manufactured are for the centralized fossil/nuclear power systems as well as corporate world trade. When the economy’s dependence on cheap and abundant energy becomes too great for the dwindling supply, or when the breakdown in distribution of energy and goods hits hard enough, almost all of us will be without our usual means of communication, travel, food, etc.

In the same issue of the above-referenced Utne Reader article, “The Revolution Will Not be Published,” was an editorial by the founder of the magazine, Eric Utne. In describing the hunter-gatherers known as the Hadza in Africa, he exalted their traditional ways of communication that respect elders: “exchanged stories and songs around the night fire” as well as their playful, bawdy, flirtatious humor. Eric Utne put his report in the context of survivalism for today’s world economic crisis. He asked, “How on earth are we going to survive?” He said he didn’t know the answer, but his portrayal of the Hadza was meant to have us hit upon it ourselves “if humans are around in 500 years.”

It is unfortunate that for the next 240,000 years, humans are saddled with the horrible responsibility of containing and tracking deadly radioactive nuclear waste, which will take some amount of human commitment, energy, science and technology.

What we must question is the idea that the Internet and profligate use of energy will go on much longer, such that, through our highly entropic attempt, we close off the possibility of being around another half millennium.

Letter from an Israeli Jail
by Cynthia McKinney

This is Cynthia McKinney and I’m speaking from an Israeli prison cellblock in Ramle. [I am one of] the Free Gaza 21, human rights activists currently imprisoned for trying to take medical supplies to Gaza, building supplies – and even crayons for children, I had a suitcase full of crayons for children. While we were on our way to Gaza the Israelis threatened to fire on our boat, but we did not turn around. The Israelis high-jacked and arrested us because we wanted to give crayons to the children in Gaza. We have been detained, and we want the people of the world to see how we have been treated just because we wanted to deliver humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza.

At the outbreak of Israel’s Operation ‘Cast Lead’ [in December 2008], I boarded a Free Gaza boat with one day’s notice and tried, as the US representative in a multi-national delegation, to deliver 3 tons of medical supplies to an already besieged and ravaged Gaza.

During Operation Cast Lead, U.S.-supplied F-16’s rained hellfire on a trapped people. Ethnic cleansing became full scale outright genocide. U.S.-supplied white phosphorus, depleted uranium, robotic technology, DIME weapons, and cluster bombs – new weapons creating injuries never treated before by Jordanian and Norwegian doctors. I was later told by doctors who were there in Gaza during Israel’s onslaught that Gaza had become Israel’s veritable weapons testing laboratory, people used to test and improve the kill ratio of their weapons.

The world saw Israel’s despicable violence thanks to al-Jazeera Arabic and Press TV that broadcast in English. I saw those broadcasts live and around the clock, not from the USA but from Lebanon, where my first attempt to get into Gaza had ended because the Israeli military rammed the boat I was on in international water … It’s a miracle that I’m even here to write about my second encounter with the Israeli military, again a humanitarian mission aborted by the Israeli military.

The Israeli authorities have tried to get us to confess that we committed a crime … I am now known as Israeli prisoner number 88794. How can I be in prison for collecting crayons to kids?

Zionism has surely run out of its last legitimacy if this is what it does to people who believe so deeply in human rights for all that they put their own lives on the line for someone else’s children. Israel is the fullest expression of Zionism, but if Israel fears for its security because Gaza’s children have crayons then not only has Israel lost its last shred of legitimacy, but Israel must be declared a failed state.

I am facing deportation from the state that brought me here at gunpoint after commandeering our boat. I was brought to Israel against my will. I am being held in this prison because I had a dream that Gaza’s children could color & paint, that Gaza’s wounded could be healed, and that Gaza’s bombed-out houses could be rebuilt.

But I’ve learned an interesting thing by being inside this prison. First of all, it’s incredibly black: populated mostly by Ethiopians who also had a dream … like my cellmates, one who is pregnant. They are all are in their twenties. They thought they were coming to the Holy Land. They had a dream that their lives would be better … The once proud, never colonized Ethiopia [has been thrown into] the back pocket of the United States, and become a place of torture, rendition, and occupation. Ethiopians must free their country because superpower politics [have] become more important than human rights and self-determination.

My cellmates came to the Holy Land so they could be free from the exigencies of superpower politics. They committed no crime except to have a dream. They came to Israel because they thought that Israel held promise for them. Their journey to Israel through Sudan and Egypt was arduous. I can only imagine what it must have been like for them. And it wasn’t cheap. Many of them represent their family’s best collective efforts for self-fulfillment. They made their way to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. They got their yellow paper of identification. They got their certificate for police protection. They are refugees from tragedy, and they made it to Israel only after they arrived Israel told them “there is no UN in Israel.”

The police here have license to pick them up & suck them into the black hole of a farce for a justice system. These beautiful, industrious and proud women represent the hopes of entire families. The idea of Israel tricked them and the rest of us. In a widely propagandized slick marketing campaign, Israel represented itself as a place of refuge and safety for the world’s first Jews and Christian. I too believed that marketing and failed to look deeper.

The truth is that Israel lied to the world. Israel lied to the families of these young women. Israel lied to the women themselves who are now trapped in Ramle’s detention facility. And what are we to do? One of my cellmates cried today. She has been here for 6 months. As an American, crying with them is not enough. The policy of the United States must be better, and while we watch President Obama give 12.8 trillion dollars to the financial elite of the United States it ought now be clear that hope, change, and ‘yes we can’ were powerfully presented images of dignity and self-fulfillment, individually and nationally, that besieged people everywhere truly believed in.

It was a slick marketing campaign as slickly put to the world and to the voters of America as was Israel’s marketing to the world. It tricked all of us but, more tragically, these young women.

We must cast an informed vote about better candidates seeking to represent us. I have read and re-read Dr. Martin Luther King Junior’s letter from a Birmingham jail. Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever imagined that I too would one day have to do so. It is clear that taxpayers in Europe and the U.S. have a lot to atone for, for what they’ve done to others around the world.

What an irony! My son begins his law school program without me because I am in prison, in my own way trying to do my best, again, for other people’s children. Forgive me, my son. I guess I’m experiencing the harsh reality which is why people need dreams. [But] I’m lucky. I will leave this place. Has Israel become the place where dreams die?

Ask the people of Palestine. Ask the stream of black and Asian men whom I see being processed at Ramle. Ask the women on my cellblock. [Ask yourself:] what are you willing to do?

Let’s change the world together & reclaim what we all need as human beings: Dignity. I appeal to the United Nations to get these women of Ramle, who have done nothing wrong other than to believe in Israel as the guardian of the Holy Land, resettled in safe homes. I appeal to the United State’s Department of State to include the plight of detained UNHCR-certified refugees in the Israel country report in its annual human rights report. I appeal once again to President Obama to go to Gaza: send your special envoy, George Mitchell there, and to engage Hamas as the elected choice of the Palestinian people.

I dedicate this message to those who struggle to achieve a free Palestine, and to the women I’ve met at Ramle. This is Cynthia McKinney, July 2nd 2009, also known as Ramle prisoner number 88794.

For more information: http://www.freegaza.org/.

Environmental Toll of Plastics
from the e360 Digest

The amount of plastic that will be produced this decade will nearly equal the total produced in the 20th century, and the substance is increasingly taking a toll on human health and the environment, a new study says. Reporting in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, more than 60 scientists found the following:

* Chemicals added to plastics are increasingly absorbed by humans, altering hormones and affecting fetal development and other physiological processes;
* millions of tons of plastic debris are ingested by hundreds of animal and fish species, clogging their digestive systems and infusing their systems with chemicals;
* floating plastic debris can last thousands of years in oceans and transport invasive species;
* plastic in landfills leaches harmful chemicals into groundwater; and
* 8 percent of world oil production goes into manufacturing plastics.

“One of the most ubiquitous and long-lasting recent changes to the surface of our planet is the accumulation and fragmentation of plastics,” the paper said. The researchers did say that the ill-effects of plastic can be reduced in the future with the invention of biodegradable and less harmful forms of plastic and with greatly improved systems of plastic recycling.

Thoughts By the Way: Money Can Be Hazardous to Your Health
Tom Herring is a Community Council member on Vashon Island. Catch more of Tom’s thoughts on his blog.

Last week’s column began with a pleasant funeral and ended with a dirge about rowing. I don’t retract any of that, but just the same have to feed my sanity some thought food. So this week it’s money. Consider the combination of William Greider, Bernard Lietaer. and Dimitry Orlov. In “Secrets of the Temple” Greider says the Federal Reserve led US manufacturing to go overseas. In his book “The Future of Money”, Lietaer says that the present money system is unsustainable. In his blog, Orlov says that “undeveloped” societies are more resilient than the Americans.

Greider traces the ups and downs of working families, building contractors, and manufacturers as the Federal Reserve responds to every frisson of alarm by the bond traders. One result is that at least six percent unemployment proves to be necessary. Another is that inflation is bad, not for the real economy, but bad for bonds. The archetypal deed of the Fed was creation of the Great Depression, yes, it wasn’t the market crash. Modern swings of interest rates? Pure Fed. Now, as to Made in China, this eighth wonder of the world is profit-driven to be sure, but high interest rates caused by Fed action has made even moderate profit difficult for many manufacturers. Let’s just say that the Federal Reserve is no friend of Made in America

Lietaer goes for the jugular of the money monster when he says that the very way in which money is created puts each of us in life-long competition with others. I don’t get this, but here is Lietaer: “ Money is created when banks lend it into existence. When a bank provides you with a $100,000 mortgage, it creates only the principal, which you spend and which then circulates in the economy. The bank expects you to pay back $200,000 over the next 20 years, but it doesn’t create the second $100,000 – the interest. Instead, the bank sends you out into the tough world to battle against everybody else to bring back the second $100,000.” Now, this next I get: “My forecast is that local currencies will be a major tool for social design in the 21st century, if for no other reason than employment. I don’t clam that these local currencies will or should replace national currencies; that’s why I call them “complementary” currencies”. He cites Time Dollars and Ithaca Dollars, and in France, “…300 local exchange networks called Grain de Sel which arose exactly when and where unemployment levels reached about 12 percent.” That quote about scrounging $100,000 from life’s competitors is hard to understand, but coming from the guy who was instrumental in developing the Euro, one has to try.

Try this: A hundred years ago one Silvio Gesell got the idea that money is a public good and that an individual should be charged a small fee for using it. This is called a “demurrage” charge; it’s a negative interest. In result, one feels obliged to invest one’s money in productive goods or land and the result is an economy of plenty for all. The ancient Egyptians had used this idea and become the “breadbasket of the ancient world”. So keep trying. That book of his is available at used sellers for $160 & up.

Dmitry Orlov has a canary in the minefield of prediction. It is a Russian canary with a long memory. It is telling Dmitry that social and economic collapse affects oil production more than does depletion. This means that, instead of gradual economic decline, positive feedback will put world economy over a cliff well before the reserves go. I got this today by Googling “Club Orlov” in order to get his first name right. What I was going to mention was his May essay on social resilience. His canary had noted that Russian peasants had maintained good nutrition during bad times because they were graduates of a very long school of deprivation and could reach out and touch the land. Americans in contrast would reach out to an empty shelf at the supermarket. Heads up, America the Bountiful.

The hand wringing is on the mall, menwomen, we need local currencies of the complementary exchange type together with a non-corrupting world currency. And this latter is where Lietaer has new blood with which to transfuse the body economic that he has so eloquently drained at the jugular. He proposes a new world currency based on a “basket of commodities” chosen by world consensus. He is not alone in this outrageous thought for there’s a visionary economic outfit named the P2P Economy in which electrical energy is the basis of the currency.

For Vashon it would seem obvious, in view of the foregoing, that a dual currency is needed. The dollar, so necessary when your Blackberry needs a new hard drive, and a local exchange in which money is created by trading between manwoman A and manwoman B. These make up the dual currency. And, there is a Vashon twist not mentioned by Laetaer nor Greider: the local funny money also has to have a commodity base. The reason for this is to enable trade between the island dollar economy and the island exchange economy. Without that base Vashon will not be able to make the transition in time to save our prized oasis, let alone some oats.

Note: “The Future of Money” is out of print. My quotes are from an interview reported in Yes Magazine, Summer 1997.

Un-Spinning the Spin: California Peace & Freedom Party Calls for National Party
Maryrose Asher is a former Chair of the Green Party of Washington State and a tireless activist of many causes.

Coincidentally, upon my return I was sent an email from a friend of mine here in Washington about the Peace and Freedom Party’s call for a national party.

We all know the frustration of having only the two corporate parties.  The Green Party, although an existing third party, is struggling from not only the propaganda spun by the corporate parties and their lackeys but also from internal conflicts.  As I wrote in my column two weeks ago, Democrats in the progressive movement have played a large role in slandering the Green Party quite effectively.  I am sure many readers of Greener Times have come up against accusations that it was because of the Green Party that Bush was elected in 2000. The Green Party has also been unable to break away from the “hippie, tree-hugging” label and other myths http://www.ualberta.ca/~greenonc/myths.html.

The progressive movement also has had no real connection with the Green Party as the two have not worked in conjunction with each other.  You have those who participate in street marches, vigils, and protests, while others focus on the political system.  In reality, both are necessary however there has been exclusion to the concept of putting effort into building a viable third party.  Part of this may be connected to the underlying belief that the Democratic Party is still the party of the working class, or that there it does not matter if progressives organize behind a particular third party and that it is okay if we have multiple progressive parties, and independents, running for elected office against the Republicans and the Democrats.  I believe this is flawed thinking.

As stated at their website http://peaceandfreedom.org/home/committee-statement, “Time for Mass Labor Action and Support for a Working Class Political Alternative:”

Labor and working people are under a brutal attack. Millions of laid-off workers in California and the rest of the United States are not only losing their jobs but their homes, their healthcare and a decent life for themselves and their families. The recent defeat of the anti-labor propositions in California is being used as an excuse by both the Governor and the Democratic Party to escalate the attacks on public workers, education and public services. Our unions relied on the Democrats to save working people and instead they got a bad deal on the ballot

With the economic and global environmental crises upon us, along with a realization that the Democratic and Republican parties have successfully merged into one corporate entity, we need real solutions.  Signing petitions, marching in the streets, holding street vigils, and visiting the offices of our representatives only perpetuates the illusion that we have a democracy.  It is time to take off the blinders and realize we need to work through the political system as our elected representatives do not care what we think and only respond to their corporate donors.

The Peace and Freedom Party National Organizing Conference to advance this effort will take place in San Francisco on August 1, 2009.  There is no registration fee.  A donation of $10-20 is requested (includes lunch).  You can find out more information about this conference at http://peaceandfreedom.org/home/noc.

My hope is that a nation-wide third party will come out of this conference and that there will be third-party candidates on the ballots in a number of states in the 2010 election cycle.  I applaud this effort to “build a national working class political party that can unite workers throughout the US” and hope the progressive movement once and for all abandons the Democrats to support a third party.

Please contact me if interested in attending the conference or in organizing and building a Peace and Freedom Party here in the state of Washington.  This does not mean I am no longer supportive of the Green Party but would like to explore a merging of efforts or perhaps simply a name change.  I am definitely open to suggestions.

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.

July 6, 1944: Irene Morgan, a 28-year-old black woman, was arrested for refusing to move to the back of the bus eleven years before Rosa Parks did so. Her legal appeal, after her conviction for breaking a Virginia law (known as a Jim Crow law) forbidding integrated seating, resulted in a 7-1 Supreme Court decision barring segregation in interstate commerce.

July 9, 1917: During World War I, Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman, leaders of the No-Conscription League, spoke out against the war and the draft. Both were found guilty in New York City of conspiracy against the draft, fined $10,000 each and sentenced to two years’ imprisonment with the possibility of deportation at the end of their terms.

July 10, 1985: The Greenpeace flagship, Rainbow Warrior (named after a North American Indian legend), was blown up in Auckland Harbour, New Zealand, killing one and sinking the ship. The attack had been authorized by French President François Mitterand because the environmental organization had plans to protest France’s nuclear bomb tests in the South Pacific.

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.

Here’s a link to Dennis Kucinich’s comments on the Climate Action bill.

I recommend people lobby their Senators (as if this will do any good!) to AT LEAST amend the heck out of bill. The National Environment Protection Act (NEPA) and State…(SEPA) version, call out “piecemeal” end-runs as illegal. The focus on segments of y an integrated ecosystem and short term impacts obviously obscures the total environmental consequences, thus creating horrid downstream effects. If you follow the money, you’ll almost always find greedy corporate hands picking your/our pockets in the forms of subsidies for “economic stimulus” or bailouts to the rats who got us into the financial mess. Now we should pay for putting the environment in their hands?! Emphatically, NO.
~ Suzanne Nott ~

Pencil Shavings: The Quintessential American Way
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.

The indigenous people who lived in this country before the advent of the white man coexisted with the bison herds for hundreds of years. For many nations (what we call tribes), their entire culture was built around the buffalo. They killed many of these animals for sure, but they did it in such a way as to ensure that the herds not only survived but thrived. They behaved in much the same manner in relation to the wide tracts of forests and other resources in the land of their ancestors. They knew that to do otherwise would damage the balance inherent in Mother Earth.

During the 1800s the Hudson Bay Company (HBC) was the monopoly interest in the northwest fur trade. The Brits who manned their chief trading post — Fort Vancouver, the site of present day Vancouver, WA — were wise stewards of the land. According to Bernard DeVoto in his Pulitzer Prize winning book, Across the Wide Missouri, the HBC “farmed the fur country practicing conservation, taking only a calculated percentage from a given field and then letting it lie fallow till the animal population had been restored”.

Unfortunately, once America had established herself as a nation to be reckoned with, the bison herds disappeared, the majority of the eastern forests were decimated and the bottom fell out of the fur trade in short order. How could this new brand of people lay waste to so much bounty? It is because of the quintessential American Way — take want you want today without any thought of the morrow.

Of course, other peoples at other times have adopted this same mantra, but it is the Americans who have made it the central thesis of life. Our economic might was built on the edifice of extraction and we extracted with great fervor on our own continent and any other land we could get our grubby hands on. Wherever we went, we preached the sermon of extraction and, in no time at all, we won converts the world over. Today, extraction is the mantra of the world!

It now seems to touch every corner of the world. For hundreds — if not thousands — of years, the indigenous people of the Amazon rainforest lived in a symbiotic relationship with their ecosystem. They honored the spirits who lived in their forests and they took from it only what was needed. Today, in those same forests, the ecosystem is being plowed under to extract what we can get from it in the short term.

But the problem with a culture built on extraction is that it comes at a steep price — the future. Mother Earth only has so much to give, when you exhaust her, you place your own existence in peril. That is precisely where we find ourselves today — in peril. We have taken too much without giving back and we are beginning to reap the nasty consequences of our selfish actions.

News You May Have Missed

Report Gives Sobering View of Warming’s Impact on U.S.
For anyone wondering whether climate change has already hit the United States, a recent U.S. government report says it has — and in a big way. Witness these trends: In the northeastern U.S., winter temperatures have increased by 4 degrees F since 1970; in the Pacific Northwest, the depth of the Cascade Mountain snowpack on April 1 has declined by 25 percent over the last half century, while spring runoff from the Cascades now occurs nearly a month earlier than 50 years ago; and in Alaska, winter temperatures have increased a stunning 6.3 degrees F in the last 50 years. Those are just some of the sobering signs of rapid warming spelled out this month in a new report by a U.S. government body that almost no one has heard of…

Has the ‘Organic’ Label Become the Biggest Greenwashing Campaign in the US?
We’re well aware that more and more products are apt to be labeled with false green claims to try to grab the attention of increasingly green consumers–and 98% percent of them were guilty of exactly that last year. Now consider the federal, USDA regulated ‘organic’ label that many shoppers have come to know and trust. That now-ubiquitous label has become perhaps the most recognizable standard bearer for the green food movement — it couldn’t be one of the biggest cases of greenwashing in the US. Could it?…

Are Developers Making Mis-LEED-ing Claims?
You know those words you’re sick of, the little bits of lexicon used and abused so frequently that they’ve been drained of meaning: green, natural, eco-friendly? Well, now you can add the word “LEED” to the list. That’s right, the world’s most ubiquitous green-building term is becoming a mot de greenwashing. Increasingly, companies and developers are using “LEED” to describe buildings that haven’t been certified by the program. Heck, the buildings might not even be that green (or natural or eco-friendly, for that matter)…

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  3. […] July 6 – 12 « Greener Times By Trey Smith As stated at their website http://peaceandfreedom.org/home/committee-statement, “Time for Mass Labor Action and Support for a Working Class Political Alternative:”. Labor and working people are under a brutal attack. … Greener Times – https://greenertimes.wordpress.com/ […]

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  5. some interesting points here, thanks. I am a big supporter of peaceful animal rights protest! I have loved seeing some of the posters that children have done in a recent animal rights poster competition run by Adventurebox – http://www.bayard-magazines.co.uk/gammebox/design_a_poster/adventure_dessins.jsp – to me this shows that these concerns are very important to young people today too, and hopefully we can work peacefully in the future to help improve animal rights across the world.

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