Greener Times

Promoting a sustainable society…one day at a time.

November 9 – 15

Posted by Trey Smith on November 9, 2009

Greener Times for the Week of November 9 – 15
Volume 4 No. 30
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
* Coping With Climate Change: Which Societies Will Do Best?
* Gasoline Price Causing Big-Vehicle Sales
* Thoughts By the Way: Voices
* Our Climate Crisis: Non-Violent Civil Disobedience: Missing Element in Climate Activism
* From Where I Stand: Coal – Atrocities From Appalachia To Black Mesa
* This Week in History
* Pencil Shavings: Do You Want to Dance?
* News You May Have Missed

Coping With Climate Change: Which Societies Will Do Best?
by Gaia Vance for e360

Following the disastrous tsunami of December 2004, the government of Bangladesh embraced upgraded storm-alert systems that warn communities in a coordinated way and improved social support networks, resulting in a drastic reduction in typhoon deaths. In neighboring Myanmar, by contrast, deaths from natural disasters have risen in recent years. Indeed, the deaths that occurred there last year in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis cannot be separated from the fact that Myanmar has an authoritarian regime that prevents international assistance from reaching those in need, rendering its citizens unable to cope with extreme weather disasters – events that are expected to become more frequent with climate change.

The stark contrast between Bangladesh and Myanmar, both likely facing serious threats from rising sea levels and more intense typhoons as the world warms, is a striking example of a key measure of how different parts of the world are going to cope with climate change in the coming century: whether societies are “climate-fit” or “climate-weak.” In fact, how different societies fare as temperatures rise will have as much to do with political, social, technological, and economic factors as with a changing climate.

That global warming will exact a human toll is undisputed, but the extent of its predicted impacts is uncertain. So how can we best identify those most at risk? Applying Darwinian principles, climate change, like any other assault on our species, is about survival of the fittest. We need to recognize what makes a community “climate-fit,” and how to improve fitness in “climate-weak” populations.

Geography is important, of course — climate-fit people live in areas less vulnerable to sea level rise, for example. But it is only one factor, and the strength of a society – its resilience, ingenuity, and flexibility, as well as its governance — will have a great deal to do with how it fares in the face of climate change. People who live in countries that are well-governed, and who belong to communities that are more self-reliant and exist within the sustainable limits of the available resources, are plainly going to be better able to weather the impacts of climate change.

In Gujarat, India, for example, I have visited drought-stricken villages, separated by less than 1 kilometer, whose approach to severe water shortages made the difference between abundance and dependence. In one village, residents have collected and stored monsoon rains for the dry season, built barriers to slow monsoon rains so they penetrate the water table and wells, and created an effective irrigation system. They harvest three bountiful crops per year. The neighboring village has not taken such steps, and it manages just one poor harvest and is reliant on government water tankers to provide drinking water for seven months of the year.

I have seen neighboring islands in the Maldives, where on one, houses have been abandoned and even washed away because of erosion exacerbated by sea-level rise, while on the other, coral and mangrove conservation have kept all the homes secure.

Where people take responsibility for their destiny, they are far more likely to employ sound practices, like traditional water management strategies. “If people feel they have control over their situation, they begin to work out practical solutions to the problem,” says Tom Crompton, of WWF, who studies the psychology of climate change. “But, as studies in Norway during glacier melt have shown, when people feel they are impotent to do anything, they employ emotional management strategies like denial, which help no one.”

Flexibility is also an important measure of climate fitness, whether it is the emotional flexibility that prepares people to make long migrations from their soon-to-be-flooded homes in the Bay of Bengal, or the flexibility that allows a Bangladeshi rice farmer to convert to shrimp farming to deal with increased salinity from rising seas.

Effective governance is obviously crucial to a society’s climate fitness. This includes removing the barriers that prevent people and communities from improving their lives, as well as inequalities of caste, ethnicity, religion, or tribes. The chaos of war, violence, or the complete breakdown of government — as seen in Nepal, Afghanistan, or the resource-rich Indian state of Bihar — can leave populations climate-weakened.

Populations that also are reasonably climate-fit can become climate-weak because of the poor decisions of their governments. A case in point is Laos. Climate models for the region predict a greater variability in the monsoon patterns over the coming decades in this Southeast Asian nation, which is ranked as one of the world’s least developed countries. In May, the United Nations set up a special task force to look at climate adaptation in Laos, aimed at readying the population for drought and flooding scenarios.

By any measure, villagers I met in my recent journey across Laos were poor and backward. Despite that, however, the Laotian people’s degree of self-sufficiency is so high that — for now — they are among the most climate-fit societies in the world.

Roughly 80 percent of the Laotian people are subsistence farmers and fishermen, supplementing their cultivated harvest from the natural resources that remain extraordinarily abundant in this sliver of land between Vietnam, China, Thailand, and Cambodia. Villagers collect everything from construction materials to food, including insects, herbs, fruit, nuts, and mushrooms from the forests. The Mekong and its many tributaries provide the fish that make up 80 percent of the dietary protein of the 6.3 million Lao, as well as water and a social meeting place for these strong, supportive communities.

If the people were to continue living as they currently do, then Laotians would be in a good position to cope with the impacts of climate change. But the climate fitness of the Laotian people is being threatened by their own government, which is busy selling off the country’s resources, including timber concessions and a planned series of large hydropower dams that threaten fish populations and the ability of Laotians to feed themselves, and thereby raise their vulnerability to climate change.

Good governance is not necessarily a characteristic of a Western model. “Vietnam used to have a very robust method of dealing with typhoons and hurricanes, but this all fell apart when they embraced capitalism,” says Saleem Huq, director of the climate change program at the International Institute for Environment and Development. “Generally, though, democratic countries are more robust because there is a means of challenging the powers and holding them to account. You don’t get famines in a democracy.”

Going hand-in-hand with good leadership is smart development policy. Indian states such as Gujarat, which are starting to wean farmers off unsustainable agriculture and into new industries, are improving the people’s climate fitness, as are policies in Kothapally in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, where scientists are helping villagers to grow semi-arid crops, such as millet, in place of rice. Poor development policy, however well intended, can also weaken climate fitness. This includes government subsidies for unsustainable agriculture that promote thirsty crops, such as rice, or provide unrealistically cheap electricity for groundwater pumps.

Sound environmental guardianship is perhaps one of the most important traits of governments and societies that hope to improve their ability to deal with climate change. Countries such as Costa Rica, where the environment is preserved as an important part of the tourism economy, are more climate-fit than places like Indonesia, China or Madagascar, where the government allows or sponsors environmental degradation, such as widespread deforestation.

Another key component of climate fitness is the equality and empowerment of women and minority groups. Natalie Curtis, a senior press spokesman at Oxfam, said that sea level rise and an increase in extreme weather events in Bangladesh has been a “double-edged sword.” The impacts have been “horrific”, she said, but they have led to the creation of councils of women in every village “who are leading the efforts for community survival.”

Hurricane Katrina’s impact on New Orleans was also a stark example of climate weakness, as social inequality – and poor governance – led to tens of thousands of the city’s poorest residents being stranded for days.

As the atmosphere and oceans warm this century — leading, in all likelihood, to an increase in extreme weather events, sea level rise, drought, and greater political conflict — suffering and climate-related deaths need not be a fait accompli. The global community has a duty to confront the uncomfortable socio-political aspect of climate vulnerability in order to help climate-weak people tool up to climate fitness. And, importantly, to prevent climate-fit people, like the villagers in Laos, from becoming climate-weak. But it will require strong local action, good governance, and well-planned climate adaptation programs in the poor countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America, where the climate-weak live — and the most deaths are likely to occur.

Gasoline Price Causing Big-Vehicle Sales
by Jan Lundberg of Culture Change

The retail price of gasoline in the U.S. is extremely low, not just compared to the summer of 2008. Subsidies both direct and hidden create a true cost at least a few times higher than the visible price. The actual cost is paid largely through income taxes (such as for wars in the Middle East and domestic infrastructure), in the purchase of goods and services associated with “free” parking, and even medical care for car/fuel related mortality and morbidity. When the average gasoline price is $2.66 a gallon, according to news reports on the most recent Lundberg Survey, the message to the consumer is “Buy that big vehicle.”

Additionally, taxes on gasoline are several times lower in the U.S. than many other countries enjoying a better lifestyle than that of the U.S. “Our” incentive to drive more and put more carbon in the atmosphere is the de facto policy of the U.S. corporate state. So “our” participation in the U.N.’s Copenhagen meeting on climate change in December is a sham for that reason, among other reasons.

News story: How to boost fuel efficiency? Raise taxes, auto executives say
Nov. 4, 2009 Reuters – syndicated in publications such as Automobile magazine [excerpt]

Now, with gas at an average of $2.66 a gallon across the country [as of Oct. 23], a Lundberg survey indicates Americans are reverting to their large vehicle buying habits.

To rectify this, [Mike Jackson, CEO of AutoNation, the largest automotive retail group in the U.S.] suggests steadily increasing the gas tax until a gallon costs between $4 and $5 per gallon — still far less than the price of gas in Europe. Jerry York, a former GM board member, agreed with Jackson’s point. Both agree that the key is to gradually increase the fuel tax to slowly increase fuel prices, prompting people to move to smaller vehicles, and allowing automakers to sell fuel-efficient vehicles in greater (and sustainable) volumes.

The auto industry could just as well call for a large gas-guzzler tax, but that won’t happen. The auto industry and the oil industry frequently clash on how government might regulate and tax. One of my last jobs for the oil industry was to represent its view during the gasoline station vapor recovery hearings by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in 1988. Even though much more efficient air pollution protection would take place on motor vehicles, the oil industry lost that fight and had to instead install the vapor recovery nozzles at gasoline pumps (which barely work and are more costly than on-board canisters would be in cars). The real priority was continued sales of gasoline and cars, not protecting health or the air.

As long as liberals such as President Obama are concerned with “jobs” (and therefore corporate power), motor vehicles don’t have to be efficient and reasonable; they just have to sell well. No politician or mainstream commentator is calling for automobile factories and facilities to be given over to the bicycle and bike-trailer industries. Yet, if the nation truly cared about local economies, health, wars and terrorism linked to oil and meeting greenhouse gas reductions, the car and oil industries would take a well deserved hit and recede into near oblivion. If this is not done in an orderly fashion, then petrocollapse or financial crash will hurt much more, with little chance for transition to sustainable industries.

Why Lundberg Survey matters
Because Lundberg Survey Incorporated spokesperson Trilby Lundberg is on record for more petroleum consumption — while denying human-caused climate change — the credibility of her corporation’s data may be questionable. After all, any statistical inadequacies or sample-design can produce results that can support a particular gasoline price interpretation. For example, a U.S. price average or trend (including supply-predictions) could be used by anyone to promote more consumption of gasoline or the purchase of larger vehicles relying on cheap, abundant fuel.

The average price arrived at by Lundberg Survey may no longer be based on a representative sample, but rather whatever set of gasoline stations the a few major-oil clients want to look at for their competitive marketing studies. At least that’s how Lundberg Survey was set up before Trilby Lundberg seized it in 1986. Since then, the sample size of gasoline stations for national price surveys has dropped by at least one third. Various staff members quit or were fired soon after I left, throwing into question in their minds the databases’ care.

More disturbing to Lundberg family members (no one but Trilby is at the former family business) is the use of our name for anti-ecological and pro-consuming notions that don’t fit with the reality of today’s world in crisis. When I saw the above Automobile magazine news story, I wrote to family members,

“Odd to think that automobile corporation executives are more progressive than Lundberg Survey, but this blurb of a news alert seems to indicate so. Bad news about the trend back toward large vehicles. Enough people are so helpless and clueless that everyone needs a total crash of the petroleum economy. Then it’ll be for many, ‘Duhh?’ – Jan”

Thoughts By the Way: Voices
Tom Herring is a former Vashon Island Community Council member, but now chooses to sort nails in his shop. Catch more of Tom’s thoughts on his blog.

One of the best writers of my experience, who as well is one of the sharpest eyes in my flock of opposition eagles, has a principled objection to helping Mexican immigrants. A debate ensued because the flock is otherwise of the view that Mexicans are positive contributors to the US economy, not to mention that it is largely US policy that made them come here. Yet the harsh debate did not cause a rift. The main reason we are still intact is a point long made by another eagle whom I regard as the most perceptive person of my experience. Hiserher point, as I receive it, is that persons in the desert looking for an oasis need not agree on anything but water. It follows that we do not need to seek agreement on the Mexicans as badly as we need to agree on the root cause of America’s decline. The decline trumps environmental disasters, war, torture, the gamut of destruction underway. We fail to agree on the root. We point to the usual suspects, the Fed, Larry Summers, Nestlé, greed, Big Pharma, but the pointing finger is a limp bayonet. Geez, Congress just overwhelmingly voted to gag the Goldstone report; the Supreme Court just ruled that Ashcroft is not responsible for having Maher Arar kidnapped and tortured; PBS gives tacit approval of US occupation of Afghanistan even though it threatens world peace; and the trillion dollar health insurance industry has thrown the Christians of health care into the arena with the Lions of industry while the exit marked Single Payer is locked. We are losing. Where’s that goddam oasis?

Back to the Mexicans, their plight somehow reminds me of the politics of civil rights. In 1965 Boeing sent troops to Huntsville, Alabama to polish the shoes of Redstone Arsenal’s portion of NASA’s moon shot. Being as how civil rights was buzzing around Congress like a hornet, the Boeing troops mounted a Company Policy of fairness with a touch of affirmative action added; in other words, there was a speech. I was sitting in the back, nodding agreement probably, or dozing, as were the rest of us. When it was question time there was the expected approval of the presented wisdom until at the end this one supervisor stood up. He criticized the idea of making nice with the black citizens, finding fault here and there with the wording. What was bugging him came out later, he was Indian, feather Indian, Cherokee. He may have felt that three thousand years trumped three hundred.

When Maryrose decided to stop unspinning and start knitting she got a warm letter from a friend up North that included along with appreciation of her contributions a wonderful story:

“There was once upon a time a children’s book i read to my pre-literate daughter. It was very popular at home and therefore endlessly repeatable, even with the variations i was sometimes allowed to improvise in order to see how sneaky i could be (busted every time…) …About a cruel and bellicose king (king cabbage — his head was actually, a cabbage…) whose reign was inflicting increasing harm on his own people and the surrounding countryside. Things were escalating, everyone was in fear, no one knew quite how to stop him, and he was becoming more maniacal by the day (indeed, every turn of the page). One morning however, he suddenly fell down dead on the stones of the castle floor… where upon his head split open to reveal a snaggle of happy worms who had eaten him from the inside! This is zee great parable for our times…. and the madness is palpable, visible all around… with options for our very own personal demons and worms… “

Curtis & Angela Bradley have looked back to the first world war and found general Smedley Butler. Here’s some of what he had to say in 1933:

“I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912 (where have I heard that name before?). I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested. War is just a racket. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket”

A friend on Vashon forwarded one of those personal moral additives that travel the web like a virus. This one said that if you read the labels when you shop you will find enough things made in the US to get you along.

I responded: ”Thanks for passing this along. I think it leads one away from really important actions. First of all the manufacture of most essentials has left the country, so this letter is dealing with trifles. But mainly, we have got to rethink totally how we live, and for one thing it won’t include Bounce. I’m sort of in the Green Party here and have been trying to get them to adopt a long range plan to get Vashon off complete dependence on the ferries. Got to grow more and demand less. I’ve gotten nowhere. This is depressing. I have ended up thinking that individual attempts to get Vashon to face the coming troubles cannot do much, and that what has to happen is for a nucleus to form of people who have looked ahead and seen the end of the high life. This nucleus would grow until it would become a force that the Island will have to reckon with. But the weight of ignorance and the cush of the high life weigh on us like a leaden blanket.”

The friend responded: “Tom, Don’t worry. The knowledge and ‘can do’ people you are longing for are already here. We have done without ferries before. When that time comes, all the ones who can’t cope will leave. You’re right about change needing to take place and it will when people get into trouble. Everyone wants to be a hero and become part of a community when they are forced by circumstances to go back to basics. We are social people and as soon as the ‘rugged individual’ starts buying his stuff at garage sales and consignment stores he or she will become part of the world where they live. So cheer up! As a need arises, it will be filled.”

Pet Peeves keep me breathing. Here’s one that may tarnish my creds, but I shall peeve anyway. Why is it that in the heat of every progressive struggle to elect a decent candidate instead of a bad one, that gay marriage pops up? It seems obvious that, one, this costs the progressive candidate at least fifteen percent, and two, that the conservatives are behind it. That said, it reminds me of the old joke about the vacuum cleaner salesman and his apprentice. The pro had worked the housewife into enthusiastically signing the order when the apprentice said, “And it catches flies, too!” Well, a few days after the vacuum cleaner was delivered the pro got a call from the housewife. She wanted to return it. Asked why, she responded, “It doesn’t catch flies.”

Here’s another: Why is it that whereas the financial sector has morphed from a needed service into legalized robbery we still accept it as a needed service? And another: Why is it that America’s myth is freedom even though the rule has been conquest?

A fellow islander wrote: “The thing I don’t get in any of this is why people are so afraid of finding a simple cause and effect. It has been my experience that if you join in with any of the “activist groups” there will be inherent in-fighting over principles. I don’t believe plants from the three letter gangs- fbi, cia, nsa, atf, wtf- are even necessary anymore to bring discord in the ranks. I also believe that there are way too many nut jobs running around with their own paranoid agendas- chem trails, haarp, fema camps, Alex Jones, Allen Watt, to spoil the soup all on their own. It all comes down to money and who will make it and that is why things won’t change.”

Matt Taibbi reports fantasy: Goldman Sachs international adviser Brian Griffiths said Oct. 20 in London, “The injunction of Jesus to love others as ourselves is an endorsement of self-interest”, his voice echoing around the gold-mosaic walls of St. Paul’s Cathedral, whose 365-feet-high dome towers over the City, London’s financial district. “We have to tolerate the inequality as a way to achieving greater prosperity and opportunity for all.”

A staunch champion of the oppressed last week found Cynthia McKinney and reporter Dahr Jamail at fault. She is not alone in snapping up judgment. Take the case of Noam Chomsky. Brilliant linguist and longtime critic of Israel’s genocide of the Palestinians, he has committed the cardinal sin of calling the 9/11 truth movement irrelevant. How dare he, shriek the Truthers. I myself for years felt the same way, that it was obviously an inside job but could not be proven, and that we accordingly should aim our rage elsewhere. But now I believe that not challenging the administration on 9/11 is at the root of a mass hysteria that is destroying this country. Anyway, McKinney, Jamail, and Chomsky are doing good work. As for Global Research, home of the loose cannonade, it does less harm than the New York Times.

Duff notes that Bill McKibben has not come out against cap and trade. [Tom: McKibben doing such a great job with his “350” theme, but is he too aware that industry loves cap and trade?]

Speaker Pelosi has buried Kucinich’s amendment to let states be single payers. This Congress is worse than useless.

Sheriff Richard Mack (Ret.) said in part November 5th that the states can stop the Feds: “Thus, the marching on Washington and pleas and protests to our DC politicians are misdirected. Such actions are “pie in the sky” dreaming that somehow expects the tyrants who created the tyranny, will miraculously put a stop to it. Throughout the history of the world such has never been the case. Tyrants have never stopped their own corrupt ways. However, in our system of “dual sovereignty,” the States can do it. If we are to take back America and keep this process peaceful, then state and local officials will have to step up to the plate. Doing so is what States’ Rights and State Sovereignty are all about.” Thanks, Rebecca M. Campbell


A friend up North recently suggested that the eagles to catch a certain testimony. This was so upsetting it has thrown me into the gutter, fumbling for a grip on my ego. That’s not much of an exaggeration because what it actually did was re-order the priorities for a Vashon single payer health care program. The testimony by nutritionist Gary Null was given before the New York State assembly, during which he made a powerful case against vaccines. One result: Vashon’s immediate priority is to find a consensus on the swine flu vaccine. As of now, a fine MD and a fine herbalist have gone two rounds in our weekly newspaper only to leave it to us. This is wrong. If we had any kind of social common we would tackle this damnable problem together. There is a ton of documents bearing on the issue and so getting them read will take coordination. If you are curious, I think that what’s offered, offered hell, pushed, is untested and most likely harmful.

The friend up North, none other than Alby Baker, also rooted out a swine flu interview with Finland’s health minister Rauni Kilde. She berated the WHO for pushing the vaccine, said that “big pharma” had told the WHO to do it. And, get this, she said that the aim of the swine flu vaccine, pandemic or not, was to reduce world population! This, apparently, she attributed to the WHO itself. What a crazy world. Who could believe that? Okay, who could dispute the fact that the US government has already done things nearly as bad: Killed Iraqi children with the sanctions. Contaminated Vietnam. Destroyed Iraq. Dropped an atom bomb on civilians. The interview was conducted in English with Spanish translation text on screen. I think the last two characters in the url stand for basic science.

Chris Christie, governor-elect of New Jersey supports vaccination choice. “He further cemented his position on live radio with Don Imus, by becoming the first gubernatorial candidate to utter the words vaccines, autism and parental choice in the same sentence.”


Israeli Amira Hass, who has won the 2009 Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Women’s Media Foundation, had this to say, “Thousands of my articles and zillions of my words have evaporated. They could not compete with the official language that has been happily adopted by the mass media, and is used in order to distort reality–official language that encourages people not to know.”

Dahr Jamail spoke with a soldier at Ft Hood, …The soldier says that the mood on the base is “very grim, and that even before this incident, troop morale has been very low” and “I’d say it’s at an all-time low – mostly because of Afghanistan now,” he explained. “Nobody knows why we are at either place, and I believe the troops need to know why they are there, or we should pull out, and this is a unanimous feeling, even for folks who are pro-war.”

Zoltan Grossman, founder of Iraq Veterans Against War speaking about Ft Hood:

“I agree that we have to be especially vigilant over the next days and weeks about the spin put on the Fort Hood killings. Mosques have already been threatened in New York–perhaps predictably. This is going to especially be a bad time to be an Arab or Muslim in the military. I’m also worried about the future of the GI coffeehouse at Fort Hood, one of three in the country. But having said that, I’ve also been surprised and shocked by some of the positive trends I’ve seen in the past several hours. This is a very good time to own and watch a TV, to see a rare battle of ideologies being played out. To give just one example on CNN: when a former Navy JAG referred to Hasan’s “Islamic name,” both former Iraq invasion P.O.W. Shoshanna Johnson and Dr. Phil (!) totally jumped down his throat. His voice was practically shaking after the unexpected ferocity of their reaction. Numerous others interviewed referred to Major Hasan’s mental health work, fear of deployment, and constant exposure to accounts of war through his PTSD counseling. The audience is going to come away from CNN and MSNBC viewing this violence as an almost natural outcome of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. (FOX is, as always, another story entirely.) Earlier in the day, I dreaded a right-wing backlash almost as bad as the Iran hostage crisis or 9/11. But I’m actually seeing the penetration of anti-war thinking into unexpected niches in the public, military, and maybe even the media. Or maybe it’s just because in a time of confusion, the elite has not yet developed a consensus on how to twist this incident to their advantage”

Thoughts by the way have been buffeted first by Gary Younge’s caged rat column and now by Gary Null’s mass poisoning testimony. I cry weakly from the gutter, Maryrose, where are you?

Our Climate Crisis: Non-Violent Civil Disobedience: Missing Element in Climate Activism
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.

I was feeling sad after my Non-Violent Civil Disobedience (NVCD) workshops this weekend at the Powershift conference in Ohio.

Passionately, I had urged the students to take to the streets in mass NVCD to stop climate Business-As-Usual (BAU). Don’t wait for the politicians, I told them. Politicians did not stop the Vietnam War. The generals did not stop the Vietnam War. Masses of people in the streets risking arrest stopped the Vietnam War. Our climate campaign will never be effective unless, and until, we take to the streets in masses to stop BAU.

But, aside from two lone students, none of the workshop attendees seemed moved by my message. One of the two whom I did seem to reach was a young woman considering going to West Virginia to join the resistance against Mountain Top Removal.

That was yesterday (Saturday). Today, another young woman told me she was attending the conference while “out on bail”. She had been arrested in WVA blocking the entrance to a MTR site along with other activists. She had been jailed with the general prison population for two days before their lawyer posted bail for the group. Further, she told me she was taking a semester off from college to live with the MTR resistance community in WVA. This group maintains three houses for the activists, who must maintain security patrols to alert them to violent attacks from locals.

Her story bolstered me immensely. Here was a young person living the call to climate NVCD!

Then the first young woman from my workshop returned to ask me some detailed questions about getting arrested. I gladly offered her the other woman’s contact information so she could get first-hand knowledge about the heroic activist community in WVA repeatedly risking arrest and violence.

So, the conference ended on an upbeat for me. Two American college students are inspiring me. One is contemplating a campaign of courage and commitment in defense of Our Shared Planet. The other is already living it.

For more information about the MTR resistance community see They need volunteers willing to risk arrest. Many of the current activists in the community have several arrests each. Further arrests for them could mean jail sentences removing them from the MTR resistance campaign for a period.

From Where I Stand: Coal – Atrocities From Appalachia To Black Mesa
Do you have an opinion on today’s important issues? “From Where I Stand” is a revolving column of different writers who will shine a spotlight on topics off the beaten path.

from Swaneagle Harijan

Thankfully the struggle of Mountain Top Removal has entered the radar screen of activists concerned with climate change. The residents impacted by this very destructive form of coal extraction suffer the loss of over 3 millions acres of their Appalachian Mountain community. Last December, over 500 million gallons of toxic coal sludge erupted over 400 acres destroying homes and spreading pollution larger than the Exxon Valdez oil spill. “Tennessee coal sludge disaster ‘shows that the term clean coal is an oxymoron.’

Monday, more than 500 million gallons of toxic coal sludge burst through a retention wall in eastern Tennessee, causing massive property and environmental damage and leaving residents holding their breath over possible long-term consequences. Environmentalists said the spill was more than 30 times larger than the Exxon Valdez oil spill. The incident underscored the false nature of the “clean coal” propaganda. In an interview with NBC Nightly News, Elliott Negin of the Union of Concerned Scientists explained: This disaster shows that the term ‘clean coal’ is an oxymoron. It’s akin to saying ‘safe cigarette.’ Clean coal doesn’t exist.”

Within this context, I once again, implore all those outraged by this atrocity to please integrate the ongoing struggle of traditional Dine and Hopi peoples to bring similar attention to the destruction of sacred lands that has continued since resources were discovered on reservations in the 1920’s leading directly to the Indian Reorganzation Act and the formation of malleable tribal councils.

Peabody Coal has raped the land of Black Mesa for over 40 years as well as draining an aquifer drying up ancient Hopi and Dine springs and wells. The 273 mile long slurry line used over a billion gallons of pristine water yearly to transport coal to the Mohave Generating Station, once the largest coal fired power plant on earth til it was shut down December 2005. Tho the shutdown was attributed to Mohave’s lack of stack scrubbers, lack of water for the slurry is a under addressed major reality. Mohave may do whatever it can to continue with plant operations as it searches for another aquifer to exploit. Reconfiguring the slurry line towards Page, Arizona is being considered which would include the draining of another aquifer.

What is most striking about this whole catastrophe is the genocidal impact the forced relocation of over 14,000 traditional Dine people and 100 plus Hopi has had in this remote lovely region. Over half of those relocated have died, many prematurely from stress induced illnesses, others from suicide or murder in racist border towns. People have become refugees in a country steeped in denial of human tragedy that illustrates the complicity of privileged racism. The genocide of Indigenous Americans lives on…

In my many years of researching, writing and witnessing the human rights violations suffered by Dine, Hopi, Mayan Indian people, homeless, migrants and the growing horror of femicide, I see that many advantaged people cannot face the scope of atrocity such marginalized people endure. Given the ongoing genocides in Iraq and Afghanistan spreading to Pakistan that are NOT bringing millions onto US streets in opposition, it is no wonder that the elimination of traditional first peoples remains unabated.

All these issues are inter related. The drive for profit allows and thrives on the destruction of the human beings living where resource extraction is highly coveted. Never have white Americans taken a profoundly massive stance against the genocide enacted over 500 years ago in all of the Americas. This fascistic, greedy colonialism threatens all of life on all 5 continents. No children have a chance in this current atmosphere of crippling apathy.

We must stand because it is the right thing to do, not because we finally have the funding to act with conscience. We must stand as if all life depended upon our choice to loudly, clearly and strongly say “NO!” to the course of greed propelled genocide all of us will contend with sooner or later as this nightmare spreads.

May we hear our hearts and enact our sacred duty.

Please consider joining our efforts to fill Rick Fellows frontline school bus with volunteers willing to give several days of labor to resisting Flack Mesa/Big Mountain families during the week November 21 – 28 leaving from Olympia.

For more info: Contact: Swaneagle, or Rick Fellows.

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

November 9, 1969: Fourteen Indians from 20 tribes seized Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay, offering to buy the island from the federal government for $24 worth of beads (the alleged price paid to the Canarsee Delaware Indians for Manhattan Island; it was actually 60 Dutch guilders). Their numbers swelled to nearly eighty; the General Services Administration, which had responsibility for the site of the former federal prison, and Coast Guard gave them the opportunity to leave the island peacefully. They were reclaiming it as Indian land by right of discovery, and demanding fairness and respect for native peoples. The occupation lasted for more than a year. Said Richard Oakes, a Mohawk from New York, “We hold The Rock.”

November 14, 1954: “Ten Million Americans Mobilized for Justice” began a campaign to collect 10 million signatures on a petition urging the Senate not to censure Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-Wisconsin). The motion of censure against Sen. McCarthy was for obstructing a Senate committee and for acting inexcusably and reprehensibly toward a U.S. soldier appearing before his own committee. McCarthy had used his Senate Permanent Investigations Subcommittee to publicly denounce thousands as subversive, especially within the federal government, many without any justification. The political views of most were painted as treasonable and conspiratorial, rather than differing political views. The petition effort fell about nine million signatures short.

November 15, 1957: U.S. Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy (SANE) was founded. Thirty years later on November 20, SANE merged with the Nuclear Freeze organization (dedicated to freezing all nuclear weapons testing worldwide) at a joint convention in Cleveland to form SANE/FREEZE. Its successor is known as Peace Action, the largest U.S. peace organization.

Pencil Shavings: Do You Want to Dance?
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.

With Maryrose’s departure last week as a regular columnist, a space has opened up in GT’s weekly lineup. Rather than look for one person, I’ve decided to create “From Where I Stand” which will possibly feature several writers who alternate.

Getting the opportunity to share your thoughts with a large audience is both heady and frightening. On the positive side, if you have a lot to say, then this could provide you with a good outlet to say — write — it. On the other hand, it can be quite daunting to come up with something to write about every week! This rarely is a problem at the outset, but several weeks in almost all of us come up against writer’s block and so we struggle to piece a few cogent sentences together.

To combat this problem AND to provide an opportunity for more diverse voices, I’m looking for four individuals who are interested in writing a column once per month. There is no money involved in this enterprise…just the opportunity to explore issues that may or may not receive a lot of coverage in GT. If you’re interested, please send me an email.

That said, I realize this call may only interest three, two, one…or no one. If the number of people responding is less than four, then this may create the opportunity for those who respond to write more often. Heck, if only one person expresses interest and that individual wants to try to churn out a weekly column, you may get it by default. If no one responds, then I guess I go back to the drawing board.

I’m especially interested in hearing from individuals who are not white, straight, old males like Tom, Duff and yours truly. However, if you happen to have those traits in common with the three of us, don’t be shy as you may be the only person who is interested. So, do you want to dance?

News You May Have Missed

Kilimanjaro’s Snows Gone by 2022?
The ice atop Kilimanjaro “continues to diminish right on schedule for disappearing, unfortunately, in the next couple of decades,” said glaciologist Lonnie Thompson at Ohio State University in Columbus. For decades scientists have documented the disappearing glaciers on Kilimanjaro, whose peak is Africa’s highest point. Whether Kilimanjaro’s ice loss is due to global warming or more local factors, though, has been a point of debate. Some studies have suggested the ice loss is due primarily to what some see as local factors: less snowfall and more sublimation—a process that turns ice directly into water vapor at below freezing temperatures. The new study appears to strengthen the argument that global warming is to blame—and that, in addition to sublimating the ice atop Africa’s tallest mountain, rising global temperatures are also melting the ice…

The Nitrogen Fix: Breaking a Costly Addiction
Over the last century, the intensive use of chemical fertilizers has saturated the Earth’s soils, waters, and atmosphere with nitrogen. Now scientists are warning that we must move quickly to revolutionize agricultural systems and greatly reduce the amount of nitrogen we put into the planet’s ecosystems…

Rich Countries Feeding on Poor Countries’ Farmland
Investors from capital-rich nations that cannot produce enough food for their own consumption are squeezing small farmers in poor countries off their lands, new research has found. Over the past three years, foreign interests have either sought or secured nearly 50 million acres of farmland in poor countries such as Sudan, Pakistan, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Madagascar and the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to a study by Anuradha Mittal, executive director of the Oakland Institute, an independent think tank. “The purchase of vast tracts of land from poor, developing countries by wealthier, food-insecure nations and private investors has become a widespread phenomenon,” Mittal told ENS today…


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