Life Goes On

Fall                                                                          Harvest Moon


When the September issue of High Country News came, the poem below was in the Letters to the Editor section. As a result of reading Calvert’s article in the July HCN, I found the dark ecology movement, focused on how to survive the ecocide. I found something liberating in its grim acceptance of a future ready to come for us no matter what some of us believe. (see the post Ecocide)

Then I read this letter, this poem. It’s been on my mind since then. Specifically, I find Vedovi-Rinker’s perspective challenging: “deep thinkers…make laments…And the world goes on.”

Lost-WaysShe’s right, of course. Here’s another and I think similar response at its root, from the website Lost Ways:


is what folks 150 years ago called daily life:

…no electrical power, no refrigerators, no Internet, no computers, no TV, no hyperactive law enforcement, and no Safeway or Walmart. 
They got things done or else we wouldn’t be here





On a similar vein, perhaps probing deeper into the collective psyche, Costco announced today a one-year survival food pack for $999.00 called Thrive. Only $3,999.00 for a family of four! I say probing deeper because Costco seems to be moving survivalist prep into the regular commercial sector.

I sense a movement in the force, a darkening of our view toward the future, even toward hope. What would change, if we followed Vedovi-Rinker’s advice? What if, to paraphrase her: We got in touch with our planet. Listened deep. Were silent. What then?

from HCN September 4th, 2017

A Response to Brian Calvert’s article  “Down the Dark Mountain” (HCN, 7/24/17):

Yes, all these famous men
these deep thinkers
we revere
make laments
in beautiful words
while the world goes on.

While women give birth, nurse babies
care for sick and dying parents.
While nuns shelter the poor,
teach in ghettos, visit death row prisoners,
quietly, without fanfare
loving castaways.

And the world goes on.

Our Gaia soul, our planet,
what we are made of,
cannot be killed.

The feminine
in men and women
gives birth
takes care of life
no matter what.

My advice to these despairing men
is to get in touch
with our planet.
listen deep. Be silent.

Then and only then,
do what you can.


Onorina Vedovi-Rinker
Colorado Springs, Colorado



Lughnasa                                                            Kate’s Moon

86Dark ecology. I discovered it when reading this article, How to Survive the Ecocide, by Brian Calvert, editor-in-chief of High Country News. It led me to this article in Orion, the thinking person’s environmental magazine, Dark Ecology, by Paul Kingsnorth and this website, The Dark Mountain Project

Dark ecology looks the worsening climate change reality in the face and says, “We’re not going to change our ways fast enough.” Thus, ecocide. Driven by an aesthetic need to be honest, to say what is, not what we wish could be, dark ecology takes us away from the politics of fear-mongering toward a grim acceptance.

Politics is driven by hope, even when also motivated by fear. The situation is this-expensive health insurance, crumbling roads, a tyrannical regime (yes, I’m talking about D.C. and Pyongyang)-and we want to do something about it. Just raising this possibility means our hope, our expectation, is that we can effect real change.

Abandon all attachment to the results of action and attain supreme peaceThus, to eschew hope is to cut the political nerve, to mute its messages. Losing hope, attacking hope runs against the human spirit, yet it is built in to our finitude. None of us escape death. In that sense, bracket all the hoohah about life after death, life is hopeless. Yet. Acknowledging this ultimate element of hopelessness vivifies life, gives our lives color, piquancy, drive. Of course, yes, it can also lead to despair, a sense of futility. Which attitude colors our days depends on how we absorb the reality of death into our life.

My suspicion is that Dark Ecology is the planetary equivalent of acknowledging our own death. There is no question about the fate of the earth as a planet. It will die in the fusion driven expansion of our very source of life, the sun. Yes, it’s billions of years away, but this end is no less certain than our individual deaths. So the planet will not be saved, anymore than anyone of us will be saved. Note that this is not a moral issue, death itself is neither bad nor good, like life itself, it just is.

Processed with VSCOcam with p5 presetClimate change itself may bring about the demise of the human species, along with thousands, millions of other species, but the planet itself will survive our folly. For a while. Facing the possible death of the human race might vivify us, might inspire us in the same way our own death can. Or, it might drive us to despair and futility, as our own death can.

My sense today is that I will follow the dark ecology path, owning the probability of our capitalist driven lemming like behavior resulting in our extinction. The question, then, is what comes next? Read the articles. They have some ideas. Not sure any of them are for me, right now anyhow. Gotta come up with my own. A later project.




Beltane                                                      Moon of the Summer Solstice

Linneaous   Flower Clock

Linneaous Flower Clock

I last posted here after a trip to Tucson, Arizona in 2014. In retrospect it’s not odd that it’s been so long since I came back to this blog. It was in April of that year, in a spirit of reflection occasioned by the long drive and the inner work of the Ira Progoff Intensive Journal retreat I’d attended, that Kate and I decided to move to Colorado. The move took over our life together and the move itself didn’t really terminate until well into 2015  when we had both adjusted to the oxygen scarcity at 8,800 feet.

A bout of prostate cancer, an increasingly painful arthritic left knee, Jon and Jen’s divorce, total knee replacement and Kate’s rough time since then has distracted me. But now I’ve returned. My passion remains creating a sustainable human presence on the earth, following Thomas Berry’s conviction that this task is the Great Work of our generation.

Chambered_Nautilus_ShellI’ve imagined that my primary contribution to this work would be political, a strategy I’ve embraced for many years. Now though I’m focused on something less political, a reimagining of faith that can constantly remind us of the reverence we owe to the earth, the sun, the mystery of life. Reimagining faith will occupy me until I’ve written a short book proposing a way to reenchant our daily life, a way to find wonder in the everyday, to locate the holy not far away or in some ritualized observance, but in the here and now.

Baba Dioum

Baba Dioum

Baba Dioum, a Senegalese forestry scientist, wrote in a 1968 paper, ”In the end we will conserve only what we love…wiki  And so the question is how do we love the earth, the sun, the universe? They have conspired to bring us all to this moment when the survival of the human species may be in the balance. This is, after all, the critical reality: it is not the earth that is in danger, not the sun, not the vastness of our cosmos, but humanity. Our actions, unwitting until recently, have brought us to a moment of kairos: a time when conditions are right for the accomplishment of a crucial action, the opportune and decisive moment, as Merriam-Webster defines it.

Seasonal-roundKairos in its Greek origin is a counterpoint to chronos, our familiar and assumed understanding of time as sequential and linear: where past present and future separate cleanly and finally, moment by moment. Kairos is a sort of time when matters crystallize, when events are ripe for change, important change. It takes no special genius to see that our time is such a moment, a moment filled with kairotic potential.

Even with the spiral understanding of time that I embrace, seasons turning, pushing forward, but always returning to the same phase of life’s regularity, moments of kairos can occur. This one, when our most powerful elected official turns his back on global solidarity, when the CO2 in the atmosphere has passed 400 parts per million, when hottest years and biggest storms get surpassed often, when scientists suggest we have only a few decades to slow climate change (not eliminate it, but slow it), we have reached a moment of kairos. And it is our moment.



Nature Writing

Imbolc                                                              Hare Moon

On the way to the library this morning, picking up audio books for the road south, Great Wendell-Berry-Quotes-1Wheel came to mind.  This time after I had finished the essay by Wendell Berry mentioned in the post below.

His manner of thinking in that essay reminded me of a great pleasure, reading land and conservation books by authors like Wendell Berry, Wes Jackson, Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, John McPhee, Rick Bass, Annie Dillard and Thoreau.  These books are in abundant supply and many of them are American classics.  They focus on land and the natural world in the United States, often at an intimate level, always with the kind of affection that Berry presses forward.

This is another way into the whole question of mitigation and adaptation.  It is the way of affection, of following the land conservation path, of increasing the feeling for the land. Wonderful as they are from both a literary and natural perspective, it has to be admitted that they’ve not changed much with the exception of Rachel Carson.

Why these books and these authors stay with me is the degree to which they have WendellBerryQuote_2013shaped our work here at Artemis Hives and Gardens. (I know, but I like the name.)  The guiding principle for all we do here is to leave this land better than when we got it.  This is in fact one of the chief reasons I don’t want to leave it and would like to leave it to someone, someone who might continue a purpose of land conservation.

All this suggested a different direction, or an additional direction for Great Wheel.  This website may also have a focus on these diverse literary works, quoting from them, reviewing them, linking to the work of the authors.  Perhaps even starting a dialogue with them.

And, to the extent that I can, I plan to add to this literature, right here on the Great Wheel.  All still a muddle, a muddy pond waiting for settling.  Then, clarity.




land abuse cannot brighten the human prospect

Imbolc                                                       Hare Moon

The moist air, the rising warmth gave the house a summertime feel last night.  Our seed zigguratsaver’s order for seeds came in the mail yesterday and I just got an e-mail from Luke Lemmer of Highbrix gardens about nitrogen for the 2014 garden.  I also found this Wendell Berry essay, It All Turns on Affection, a couple of days ago.  This is the Jefferson lecture for the National Endowment for the Humanities.

(ziggurat of ur)

That’s background for my thoughts which turned toward the city, spurred by Berry:

“Though the corporations, by law, are counted as persons, they do not have personal minds, if they can be said to have minds. It is a great oddity that a corporation, which properly speaking has no self, is by definition selfish, responsible only to itself. This is an impersonal, abstract selfishness, limitlessly acquisitive, but unable to look so far imagesahead as to preserve its own sources and supplies. The selfishness of the fossil fuel industries by nature is self-annihilating; but so, always, has been the selfishness of the agribusiness corporations. Land, as Wes Jackson has said, has thus been made as exhaustible as oil or coal.” op.cit.

In this thought the farms lay on level ground and as one moved from country village to town to exurb to outer ring suburb and inner ring suburb to the city itself, the ground would rise, like steps cut into the earth.  This would leave the city figuratively on a flat plateau lifted high above the farms far out in the distance and reachable only by climbing the steps upward.  It was this image that struck me because as I considered it, the word ziggurat came to mind.

The tower of Babel was a ziggurat, an artificial mountain created to take humans closer to the gods.  It was a place where the priest could intercede with the gods from a spot between heaven and earth.

All those millennia and still we climb up the ziggurat, separate ourselves from the land 330px-Pieter_Bruegel_the_Elder_-_The_Tower_of_Babel_(Vienna)_-_Google_Art_Project_-_editedand pray to the gods of technology and economics to save us.  Babel has become a long-standing meme for hubris.  Why?  Well, in part because the tower lifts humans up, gives them a transcendent feeling high above the earth.  In that separation, that isolation, and, yes, I would say, alienation from mother earth the essential bond between creature and nurturer grows intolerably thin.

(Pieter Bruegel the Elder, The Tower of Babel)

Again, Berry:

“Corporate industrialism has tended to be, and as its technological and financial power has grown it has tended increasingly to be, indifferent to its sources in what Aldo aldo leopoldLeopold called “the land-community”: the land, all its features and “resources,” and all its members, human and nonhuman, including of course the humans who do, for better or worse, the work of land use.3  Industrialists and industrial economists have assumed, with permission from the rest of us, that land and people can be divorced without harm.”  op. cit.

Here’s the clincher in Berry’s lecture:  ”There is in fact no distinction between the fate of the land and the fate of the people. When one is abused, the other suffers.” op. cit.

I love cities.  I love almost everything about them.  The jangle of people, the compressing of ideas one right after the other, the neon lights, the colleges and universities, the neighborhoods, the politics, the music.  All of it.

And yet.  Up on that plateau, on top the artificial mountain, the land seems so far away.I-and-the-Village-by-font-b-Marc-b-font-font-b-Chagall-b-font-abstract  It’s as if the food appears by magic, not grown, but made in the trucks themselves or in the boxcars, showing up when we need it.  It is not so.

Berry makes what I think is an unintentionally theological argument:  ”When we give affection to things that are destructive, we are wrong.”  This is the same argument that H. Richard Niebuhr makes in his essay, “Radical Monotheism and Western Culture.”  He critiques our devotion to centers of value:  money, job, ambition, nation, sports team, even family and self.   It is Niebhur’s contention that the only center of value to which we can turn with complete devotion and not distort our own lives is the God of the Judaeo-Christian tradition.

(I and the Village, Marc Chagall)

While I don’t agree with his identification of God as the solution, I do agree with Niebuhr’s diagnosis of the problem, which, like Berry’s, turns on our misplaced affections.  The question for both Berry and Niebuhr is:  ”To what can we offer ourselves that will not destroy us?”

There are, I think, two answers, wedded in the intimacy of their bond: each other and the Earth. We need each other and we need the Earth.  The other, both the thou of Buber and the less exalted you we know less well, must eat, as must I.  The link between our day-to-day survival (yes, we should underline survival for that is what it is at stake) and the others is what?  Yes, the Earth.

That this is not obvious to all, especially not obvious to policy makers who, like most of the powerful of the Earth, gather in cities, is a function I think not of malignity, or intentional disregard, but of the splendid isolation that comes from living high up on the ziggurat and under the mistake assumption that there they are closer to the gods.  No, what they are is further from the Earth.

The Long Game

Imbolc                                                                Valentine Moon

In case you read Great Wheel and wonder where the postings are, here’s a short one. I march hare  levon hackensawplan a post on March, that is the month name and its history.  In between I’m digesting the considerable material from the Climate Change course, pushing out here what seems immediately relevant, but also what might be the shape of a blog (either this one or a third) focused on Minnesota and climate change.

(March Hare, Levon Hackensaw)

I’ve also begun a new period of my relationship with the Sierra Club as I’ve mentioned, representing the Northstar Chapter at the America Votes table.  This will skew my thinking about climate change toward the political, the policy development process, so there may be more writing on those matters, too.

There is a long game here.  As climate change begins to press upon us with greater and greater obviousness to the average citizen, demand for policy development and action humorwill grow along with it.  So our continued presence in those places where progressive voices debate retail politics will only grow in importance.  Our presence there and our thoughts on all this now will dramatically inform that inevitable future moment.

Great Wheel (or a third blog) will try to insert itself right into that moment though it may be 5-10 years off.

Coda: Freedom for What?

Imbolc                                                                        Valentine Moon

Most important of all, freedom and liberty should give us the range of action, the agency to challenge those things that would re-enslave us.  If you think England or the plantation owner or Hitler was cruel, imagine a world where the weather becomes hot enough to be a prison, where the storms rage with more destructive power than any despot and where the sea rises to engulf millions.  Does that sound like freedom to you?

Examples of the often strange distortions of freedom and liberty in our culture:

the right to bear armsChristian_protestor_at_Tea_march_2009

the need to define marriage as between a man and a woman

making decisions about women’s bodies

willingness to impose religious beliefs while demanding less government intervention

refusal to accept the commonweal

reifying of the holy individual (which I admit is complicated, so let me add a bit here. Existentialism reveals our aloneness, our separateness, our irreducible otherness.  But.  It does not go on to conclude that we make the individual a shrine or an altar on which we sacrifice our neighbor.  No, it emphasizes the plight each of has as isolated beings and makes even more sensible reaching beyond our Self toward the self of others.  So existentialism recognizes individuals, but for the sake of empathy not rejection.)

using apparent threats to personal freedom as an excuse to not consider certain matters, especially the implications of science like climate science or stem cell research.

All of these are caricatures of freedom and liberty.  Freedom and liberty do not point us away from the other, rather they point us toward them.  In our freedom we can choose to act for the common good, not only in our own self interest.  When no longer under the master’s whip or the tyrant’s boot, we can recognize our common cause with those also now free, a common cause masqued by their interests until our freedom.  I suppose you can use freedom and liberty in the narrow sense of only doing what you want, I suppose you can.  But why would you want to?  Being freed from bondage ought to bring a sense of the intolerable when confronted by the bondage of others.  Being free ought to mean wanting others to enjoy the same liberty.




Freedom For What?

Imbolc                                                                Valentine Moon

Been considering, as I often have, the role of politics in those things that matter.  If you don't treadread my longer post below, it considers the roots of climate change doubt mongering in free-market fundamentalism (George Soros) or neo-liberalism.

These ideas give a further twist to liberty and freedom which already have a strange role in our culture.

They are incendiary words in the American psyche, e.g. The tree of liberty is watered by the blood of patriots. (to paraphrase Thomas Jefferson)

When I did some dictionary work in the OED with free, freedom and liberty, I was struck by their origins. Free essentially means dear, as in those dear to you.  It originally meant those who were directly related to the head of a house, that is, who were not servants in the house.  They were, in the Christian_protestor_at_Tea_march_2009contemporary sense, free.  When I looked at freedom, the first definition was: “exemption or release from slavery or imprisonment.”  Likewise, definition number one under liberty:  ”exemption or release from captivity, bondage or slavery.”

Of course, we know at some intuitive level that freedom and liberty mean, first and foremost, out of slavery or prison or captivity, but we rarely consider it.  We consider them independent noble truths, self-evident virtues for which our revolution was fought and which stand enshrined in our founding documents.  They are these things, yes, but their original meanings made me think.

They define a negative condition:  no longer captive, no longer enslaved, no longer imprisoned, not a servant.  Liberty and freedom, in their first meanings, have the flavor of immediacy, of something recently achieved.  That expansive and wonderful feeling experienced by embracing those words now relates to a vague cloud of past euphoria, rather than a powerful experience in the present.

That is, the deeply held allegiance to these feelings has a borrowed nature, a historical echo you might say, rather than lived content. It defines these core American values as the contrasting state to being held against your will.  Their felt meaning is one of release, of gained control, of unfettered will.  In fact, the third definition of liberty catches just this nuance: “the condition of being able to act in any desired way without hindrance or restraint; faculty or power to do as one likes.”

No wonder these heady words show up on Tea party signs and conservative bumper stickers. These are fightin’ words.  Except they really say only what freedom and liberty feel like, important, yes, powerful, yes, but this grand feeling is insufficient for understanding them in their civic meaning.

Why?  When these powerful ideas are understood largely in their negative, free-at-spiritlast senses, not in the more difficult and challenging sense of what they mean in community, they lose their necessary relationship with responsibility. Yes, freedom from is a good thing no doubt, but what is freedom for?

What can we do with our freedom? Now that the prison door has swung shut behind us, what kind of life shall we live?  The tyrant’s foot is off our neck, what kind of society will we build?  It is these questions that need to be in the public square.

Do we choose to use our freedom and our liberty to force on our children and grandchildren a climatologically unstable and overheated future?  Does that make sense? I don’t think anyone really thinks it does.  An important question then becomes, how can we both ensure carbon emissions decline and maintain a powerful sense of freedom and liberty?


Climate Doubt Mongering: Why Do They Do It?

Imbolc                                                               Valentine Moon

NB: The citations for material referenced are in the Oreskes’ book.  Much of the content in this post is recapitulation of her excellent lecture material on the same topic. This is not original material.

If you want to read the whole story, go to Naomi Oreskes’ book, Merchants of Doubt. merchants of doubtI’m gonna give you the shorthand version.  How climate change denial got traction. And why.  It’s not what you think.  At least I imagine it’s not what’s you think.

Things to consider.  Teddy Roosevelt, Republican, established environmentalism and environmental protection as a national good.  John D. Rockefeller saw to the creation of Grand Teton National Park.  Not a communist.  George H.W. Bush, in 1992, called on world leaders to take action and signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Lyndon Johnson, in a 1965 special message to congress, said that the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere came from burning fossil fuels. He was the first president to recognize a problem with fossil fuels. In the 1970′s scientific attention to booksclimate change began to increase, ending in a 1979 report by the National Academy of Science that said:  ”A plethora of studies from diverse sources indicates a consensus that climate changes will result from man’s combination of fossil fuels and changes in land use.”  There was, too, agreement that climate change would probably be discernible by the year 2000.

In 1998 Jim Hansen, a NASA scientist, declared climate change signals had been detected in a report to congress. The IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change came into being that year.  Emerging and disturbing evidence provided justification for it. So by the turn of the millennium there was ample scientific evidence and an emerging political will to do something.

What happened?

In the early 1980′s a small group of scientists: Robert Jastrow, Frederick Seitz, and William Nierenberg, all physicists, were tapped for their cold war expertise in weapons development.  They served together on an advisory panel for Ronald Reagan’s Star Wars initiative.  As I wrote today on Ancientrails, this initiative became the subject of an unprecedented and wholesale rejection by scientists.  6,500 scientists signed a petition refusing to consider work funded by Star Wars programs.

In 1984 these Jastrow, Seitz and Nierenberg created the George C. Marshall Institute. It’s purpose was to counter the misinformationBlitz_1024w_medconsensus view of the scientists who opposed the Star Wars program.  The Institute and its founders were apocalyptic in their perspective, declaiming that the Soviet Union would pass us by and that we had only five years in which to act. The irony is that in five years it was 1989 and first glasnost and perestroika came, then the dissolution of the Soviet Union itself. The urgency of the Marshall Institute scientists’ rationale evaporated.

They did not, however, fade away or accept with good feeling the cold war victory.  Instead, they found new enemies: environmental extremists.  One of their number, Seitz, worked over some of this time as a consultant to the RJ Reynold’s tobacco company. While there, he became familiar with the tobacco industries principal strategy: doubt mongering.  This took the form of declaring the science unsettled and therefore taking any action was premature.

In a famous 1969 tobacco industry memo, Doubt Is Our Product, the organized, Doubt-is-our-product2deliberate and carefully orchestrated character of doubt mongering is laid out.  A key learning mentioned in the memo was how important it was to have scientists on their side.

It was not much of a leap for these former cold warriors to take their umbrage against anti-Star Wars science into the environmental arena.  In due time, led by Seitz, they took on:  acid rain, nuclear winter, the ozone hole, DDT and the human causes of global warming.  Their trademark claim, identical to the tobacco industry:  the science is uncertain.

In the George C. Marshall Institute line of thought, American liberty was at stake in the Stars Wars case. As we will see below, they began to believe was at stake with the environmental extremists, too.

A big question. Why have scientists like Jastrow, Seitz and Nierenberg participated? Scientists are not expected to lie.  You would also reasonably expect them to be pro-science.

Must be about money, right?  Well, not necessarily. Or, at least not only about money. Remember G.H.W. Bush signed Milton Friedmanthe climate convention.  Remember that traditionally, since T.R., Republicans had been pro-conservation and environmental safeguards.  Also, money does not explain the high percentage of ordinary Americans who are climate change deniers.

(Milton Friedman)

So what else is there?

Here’s what Oreskes found.  The true roots of climate change doubt mongering lies in what George Soros calls free-market fundamentalism.  This is a belief that the market is not only the best way for an economy to function, it is the only way that doesn’t threaten personal freedoms.  Mess with the economy and you mess with personal freedom.

Here’s how free-market fundamentalism got linked with anti-environmental doubt mongering.

Free-market fundamentalism became known as extreme neo-liberalism. Neo-liberalism road to serfdom emphasizes deregulation and “releasing the magic of the marketplace.”  This political philosophy, really an anti-government political philosophy, got its big boost in the Thatcher-Reagan era of the 1980′s. Unfortunately, the Labor Party in Britain under Tony Blair and the Democrats in the U.S. under Bill Clinton also followed what became known as the “Washington Consensus.”  Regulation was bad.  This deregulatory emphasis had begun in the Jimmy Carter presidency, but gained real power under Thatcher and Reagan.

What are neo-liberalism’s philosophical and theoretical roots?  Milton Friedman’s book, Capitalism and Freedom, published in 1962 (the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis) pushed forward an argument against a soviet-style planned economy.  Civic freedom and free markets are inextricably linked:  to control markets, states have to control people.  In Friedman’s view even modest interventions in the market, such as environmental protections, threaten personal freedom and put us on the road to socialism.  Protecting the marketplace, in other words, maximizes freedom.

The climate contrarians push Friedman’s argument:  environmentalism is a slippery slope to socialism  Any regulation is a small step toward general governmental control and the loss of personal freedom.  Thus, regulation is seen as a backdoor to socialism.

Fred Seitz, in the Wall Street Journal of June 12, 1996 said:

“IPCC reports are often called the consensus view, but if they lead to carbon taxes and restraints on economic growth, they will have a major and almost certainly destructive impact on the economies of the world.”

GOP political consultant Frank Luntz, asked, in the August 8, 2003 WSJ, “Why reject climate science?”

“Once Republicans concede that greenhouse gases must be controlled, it will be only a matter of time before they end up endorsing more economically damaging regulation.”

I’ve posted part of a Manchester Guardian article on Luntz recommending doubt mongering to Republican candidates.*  See here for the full article.

As Orekses says, this amounts to:  if we don’t like the implications of science, we reject it.

Here’s the payoff to this long post:  the climate mongering debate is not about science, but about governance.  The fear is not about “bad science”, but about the science’s implications for public policy.  As they see it, these potential constraints (regulation or tax policy) on economic activity will be lead to diminished personal freedom.  In essence this means that neo-liberalism is willing to trade a dangerously warm and climatologically unstable future for perceived personal freedom now.

In my next post on this matter we’ll investigate the intellectual history of the neo-liberal philosophy and economics, hunting for a way to find common ground with them.



*Memo exposes Bush’s new green strategy

 in Washington

The Guardian

“The US Republican party is changing tactics on the environment, avoiding “frightening” phrases such as global warming, after a confidential party memo warned that it is the domestic issue on which George Bush is most vulnerable.

The memo, by the leading Republican consultant Frank Luntz, concedes the party has “lost the environmental communications battle” and urges its politicians to encourage the public in the view that there is no scientific consensus on the dangers of greenhouse gases.

“The scientific debate is closing [against us] but not yet closed. There is still a window of opportunity to challenge the science,” Mr Luntz writes in the memo, obtained by the Environmental Working Group, a Washington-based campaigning organisation.

“Voters believe that there is no consensus about global warming within the scientific community. Should the public come to believe that the scientific issues are settled, their views about global warming will change accordingly.

“Therefore, you need to continue to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue in the debate.”

The phrase “global warming” should be abandoned in favour of “climate change”, Mr Luntz says, and the party should describe its policies as “conservationist” instead of “environmentalist”, because “most people” think environmentalists are “extremists” who indulge in “some pretty bizarre behaviour… that turns off many voters”.”  Manchester Guardian.




How to Reduce CO2 & Hurricane Sandy

Imbolc                                                Valentine Moon

Two quick things from today’s lesson on the impacts of climate change.  More when I’ve finished and it’s begun to sink in.

This is a helpful, hopeful slide and focuses on the idea of wedges, individual chunks that, collectively, can add up to a lot.  And in the time frame required by a 3.6 degree F climate warming goal.



An analogy.  Greenhouse gases are the steroids of the climate system. They change the odds.

Can you say Hurricane Sandy was caused by climate warming?  Wrong way to frame the question.  When you look at, say Alex Rodriguez or Mark McGuire, you don’t ask, did steroids cause that home run?  You wait for the season’s statistics or perhaps more than one season and you compare them to another time in the player’s career or to other, similar players.

In the case of Hurricane Sandy we can look at certain aspects of it and say, yes, they were definitely impacted by climate warming.  Here’s what wasn’t.  The hurricane itself.  That’s part of the natural variability of storms in the North Atlantic basin.  The fact that Sandy made landfall on the night of a full moon and therefore at high tide.  Bad luck.

Here’s what was.  Damage from hurricanes comes from two main factors:  storm surge and heavy rainfall.  The storm was certainly impacted by the high tide, but sea level rise made the waves and the storm surge itself much worse.  The sea is higher because water expands as the ocean heats up and because water stored in land ice like glaciers is melting faster than usual.

A warmer atmosphere, already measurable, holds more water vapor.  More water vapor means there is more water available for the heavy rain events.

Both the warmer ocean and the increase in water vapor can, too, feed the overall intensity of these storms.