I am not against fracking when properly overseen (our society still requires fossil fuels), but I am appalled (though not surprised) by the lawsuit attempting to overturn the city of Denton’s (Texas) vote to ban fracking. How can people who attack government power and who call for respect for individual rights, especially for property owners, suddenly do an about-face and file a lawsuit to nullify the will of a community? This has nothing to do with principles and everything to do with money and power, pure and simple.
So much for conservatives and property rights. So much for conservatives and local control.
I believe that fracking can be a legitimate process, but right now there’s insufficient oversight, and property owners are paying the price. I’m a strong environmentalist, but also understand that our energy needs require some fossil fuels at this time. Isn’t there a way to drill natural gas more intelligently and carefully than destroying people’s communities? I fear that the fracking industry is destroying itself. People are going to rise up and demand that the frackers stay out of their neighborhoods unless the industry finds a way to do this more respectfully. Fracking will go the way of the nuclear power industry, which has similar issues. The NIMBY movement (not in my backyard) is beginning to assert itself, and the industry will find it very difficult to resist.
I’m sure I’ll get hammered by both sides on this, but isn’t there a way to figure this out so that fracking is more environmentally sound and so that the industry actually listens to the property owners and neighbors who have to live near this process? Why can’t we have it both ways?
There is something I want to say about many in the environmental movement. I hear a lot of people predicting “The End” and the collapse of everything. In fact, I understand their point of view, and I have some sympathy with it. We as a species certainly can destroy the earth through pollution, nuclear catastrophe, destruction of eco-systems, and other means.
However, I don’t really see the value in this. What good does such pessimism and hopelessness do? If everything is going to be destroyed anyway in the near future, then please shut up and live your life. We don’t need to hear prophecies of doom any more than we need to have it rammed in to us that we are going to die some day. Yes, I know, but I don’t need someone screaming at me about it every minute of the day.
I guess I place these environmental prophets of doom in the same category as I place fundamentalist Christian evangelists who speak of the coming apocalypse. Doom-saying, apocalyptic Christians can go to Jerusalem or Texas or Salt Lake or wherever else they have a vision to await the return of Christ; ultra-Orthodox Lubavitch Hasidim can await the return of Rabbi Schneerson to Brooklyn and Jerusalem; Shiite Muslims (like the current President of Iran and many others) can go to Damascus to await the descent of the twelfth imam (the Mahdi); and perhaps secular environmental prophets should go to Greenland or the Antarctic or Alaska or Polynesia to await the final collapse of civilization and planetary life.
Yes, we have problems, and they’re serious, life-threatening, even cataclysmic. We’ve been around for a little while now, and empires comes and go, as do societies and peoples. But the earth has continued, so has life, in spite of what human beings have done to the planet (and they’ve done a lot even before now). And the earth is certainly not the only planet with life, nor is this the only universe, and there are other life forms we on the planet have yet to encounter (or perhaps don’t recall).
While there is reason for an apocalyptic voice now and throughout history, sometimes it enters into pointlessness, even silliness. Often it reflects a kind of species narcissism, as if our problems, however difficult, portend the end of all that is. There’s much we don’t know or remember about our our own lives, the history of our species, and the origins and characteristics of our solar system, galaxy, and universe. Yet we presume to predict future outcomes and events based on our own limited knowledge and life-experience.
Just because our efforts do not seem to have much affect, if any, does not mean that nothing is changing. When we assume we are failing or having no impact (and I’ve done that too), we are in fact acting selfishly, assuming the world depends on us, that we have some inherent right to see change, and that our individual lifetimes have a greater value than thousands upon thousands of generations that came before us and that will come after us–not to mention the millions upon millions of generations of every cell and life-form. Maybe we need to lighten up and enjoy the music. I know I need to do that.
Bill McKibben complains that Obama is too patient on global climate change in the Guardian article below. However, we can’t expect Obama or any president or congress to do anything on their own. Politics never works that way and never has. Churchill responded to Hitler only because he really had no other choice other than to surrender to a brutal, maniacal dictator.
Environmentalists complain incessantly about how little Obama has done for the planet. However, it’s not his job. It’s our job and the job of activists. If not enough people accept climate change or the urgency of solving the problem, it’s up to environmental leaders to change the discourse and persuade people otherwise. If they aren’t up to the task, it’s their fault, not that of Obama or any politician.
Politicians like Obama will respond, and respond with urgency, if enough people demand it. Right now there is insufficient political space for Obama to do anything on climate change. Environmentalists must stop whining about the failure of political leaders and create the space themselves. This kind of action is what the planet is calling for us to engage in.
The job of a president (or any political leader in a democratic society) is to push people when they are not quite ready to do something, but need the extra lift to get them going. A president cannot create something out of nothing (only God–maybe–can do that in Genesis 1). It’s the job of the rest of us to move us to a place where the president can act without getting totally eviscerated.
From a spiritual point of view, humanity needs to act locally as members of broad-based coalitions and groups. We have depended far too long on individual leaders to do this work for us. By acting on our own as part of collective movements that transcend nation states, ethnic groups, socio-economic classes, and religions, we move humanity toward authentic empowerment by serving as co-creators.
We as a nation are destroying our potable water supply in in order to allow companies to mine and farms to irrigate.
Chicago is way ahead of other U.S cities in dealing with climate change: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/23/science/earth/23adaptation.html?_r=2&tntemail1=y&emc=tnt&pagewanted=all
I just saw Rachel Maddow’s program this evening. Did you know the extent to which Democrats have been winning unexpectedly in heavenly Republican districts? Obviously there’s the stunning victory in New York 26, but there’s much more going on. Democrats are winning everywhere: for Jacksonville mayor, for Tampa mayor, in New Hampshire for a state senate seat, and in Wisconsin for a state assembly seat. In a 50-50 Maine state senate district, the Democrat won by over 40 percentage points. In Ohio a Republican state senator who voted for the union busting bill resigned after relentless criticism for that vote. In Alabama, a state senator flipped from Republican to Democrat. The Republican governor of Florida (Rick Scott) has a 29% approval rating, while Republican John Kasich in Ohio is cratering in the polls and Republican Scott Walker is doing poorly in Wisconsin. In Ohio a poll showed an 18% lead for the opponents of the union busting bill.
What’s going on? I don’t think I’ve ever seen this quick of a political turn-around? This is more dramatic than what happened after the government shut-down in 1994-95. Now you never know what will happen down the road, but what were the Republicans thinking? Their strategy makes no political sense. It’s as if the end of the world were coming, and the Republicans tried to grab as much stuff as they possibly could before all hell broke loose. Busting unions, destroying Medicare, eviscerating social programs, offering tax-give-aways to the super-rich and corporations, gutting the environment, criminalizing abortion, and much more does not seem to be working out so well for them politically.
Honestly, I can’t make sense of what they’re thinking politically. It’s totally illogical and just plain bizarre. They could have caused a lot of damage and still maintained some semblance of political viability, but they chose instead to take a wrecking ball. The only thing that I can postulate is that Republicans were not thinking politically, but were instead doing the bidding of a few very powerful super-rich people such as the Koch Brothers. In other words,, Republicans had marching orders and happily walked the plank. Somehow, I guess, they think that these guys will rescue them or do something. I’m not sure, but that’s all I came come up with.
They are handing the 2012 general election on a silver platter to the Democrats. Why????? Do you have any ideas out there? It makes no sense. I’m perplexed.
Now, that said, I am concerned for our country. Yes, I want far-right-wing crazies, nut-jobs, and loony-tunes to lose, but our country needs at least two viable competing parties. Without that either party will probably mess things up even more. I can’t imagine that Democrats will know what to do with the massive majorities they might win in next election if things go as they seem to be going. We need two real parties with serious ideas that must compete with the serious ideas of the other party. Right now the Republicans are nuts, like invading locusts destroying everything in their paths, while Democrats are gleefully watching the self-destruction, but they don’t have any real ideas. Now Obama, I believe, has a vision, but the Democrats as a whole are pretty much empty. So where does that leave us as a country?
What I wish for are two parties: one which is expansive, trying to move the nation forward by advocating expenditures that will improve our quality of life and develop a new strategy to keep our economic global prominence; and another party that stands for fiscal responsibility that creatively figures our ways to save money, keep taxes reasonable, and act as good managers and stewards of our resources.
What’s happened? Where are these parties? I consider myself a progressive independent, a strong supporter of Obama, who has no alternative but to vote Democrat in light of the madness that currently passes for Republican policy. But that’s not what I want. I want a Democrat party that stands for something meaningful and hopeful and a Republican party that recognizes itself as a solid citizen watching over expenditures carefully and supporting change while also understanding the value of tradition. Instead, the Democrats just kind of float along living in FDR’s shadow, while the Republicans have gone off the deep end. Where is the imagination and creativity? Where is honor and responsibility. It exists with a few individuals, but it’s absent from political groups as wholes.
This is a wild time. Maybe we have to go through it as a country, but we are sure facing tremendous uncertainty and volatility unlike anything I can remember and really know about historically, at least since the Civil War. This is, I think, part of the great shift happening at a global level. We are entering a new period of history and consciousness, watching the collapse of old systems (including political ones) while new ones emerge. Perhaps we should not get caught up in the day-to-day, political and social earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, but look through and beyond that to the world that is coming–for us and the globe. Perhaps nation-states will disintegrate as new forms of governance emerge that act at both global and local levels. A lot of people focus on up-and-coming countries like China, but perhaps we need to look toward the new structures that are emerging that have nothing to do with nations or political parties, but with movements–such as environmental activism or freedom movements in the Middle East or micro-financing or the post-religious “spiritual but nor religious” phenomenon or whatever –that are creating systems that we can’t even really seen just yet.
I have for a long time sensed a global shift and world transformation bubbling up from the depths, but experiencing it is completely different from envisioning it.
Any thoughts out there in the blogosphere and web world?
It’s occasionally possible for the facts to change the minds of climate change deniers. The politicization of this issue in the U.S.. as well as the anti-intellectual and anti-scientific basis of American evangelical Protestants and the power of corporate interests, has made the U.S. one of the only places in the world to have such a substantial number of people who deny the clear conclusions of science. In the U.S., this follows the pattern of denying other scientific assessments, including evolution, damage to the ozone layer, the use of marijuana, the age of the earth, the dangers of nuclear power. and much more.
http://www.slate.com/id/2293607/pagenum/all/ (via Dianne Bazell)
Coca-Cola and other big corporations prefer to talk the talk rather than walk the walk:
The health impact is enormous, while neither BP, the state, or the U.S. government offers anywhere near sufficient assistance.
Is the cancellation of nuclear plant building in Japan a taste of events to come or an anomaly?
Here’s one way the environment and a religious tradition (Hindu) can come into conflict.
This article illustrates the serious problems with oil rig regulation and the close relationship between oil companies and their regulators:
How local, not national, power effects will effect the most influence on environmental issues:
How a coal company destroyed a community:
A sad story that makes no rational sense, but the GOP effort is a nice pay-off to large corporations and campaign contributors.
Another concerning aspect of natural gas exploration through the process of hydraulic fracturing:
Guess the good energy may not be so good after all.
The number of dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico dying from oil contamination is substantial:
This provides an excellent overview of the Koch brothers’ industrial empire and their influence over U.S. politics.
The American Petroleum Institute plans to contribute directly to political candidates. Ah, a new way to buy our political system. I guess American no longer own our own country anymore.
And here’s Paul Krugman’s take on corporatizing of both Iraq and Wisconsin
In the meantime, we talk a lot about bullies in schools, but what about these bullies from the Chamber of Commerce who hack activist computers?
Through all this, we need to remember that we have the choice to accept this or not. The corporate interests seem all-powerful, but that’s only because we the people allow them to do what they do. We could change that tomorrow if we so chose. We have the capacity to through peaceful means to stop the madness in its tracks. How? By voting, by contacting our elected representatives regularly, by speaking out publicly, by refusing to shop (where reasonably possible) with companies that engage in autocratic and harmful behavior, by frequenting local establishments that are friendly to the environment and workers, by protesting on the street or on the web, and (most of all) by living according to our own beliefs and our own souls–not according to the manipulations of corporate media machine’s. Often we (including me) are rats in a maze running around following the expectations of a consumption-driven economy, but we can choose to follow our own paths and live our own lives however we want. There is nothing that we cannot change collectively if we follow our authentic selves and share that with others. It seems simple and polyannish, but it also happens to be true. Instead of succumbing to anxiety and fear (which corporate interests feed off of), we simply need to tap into courage and step into genuine freedom.
A fascinating discussion of attempting to mine rare earths in an environmentally responsible way: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/09/business/energy-environment/09rare.html?hp=&pagewanted=all
Natural gas water recycling from hydrofacking is not always effective:
In the meantime, political pressures effectively prevent the EPA from regulating natural gas hydrofracking:
WikiLeaks documents reveal that the EPA wanted to regulate hydrofacking waster water, but political pressures prevented them from acting in Pennsylvania and New York. Now in New York there is an opportunity to exert regulatory pressure
You would think with all the really dangerous terrorists running around, we would be focusing on them rather than on people who are actually trying to improve the planet. The vast majority of enviro activists are peaceful or engaging in civil disobedience. Why are we engaging in this madness? Do corporate interests own us lock, stock, and barrel?
Have we reached the tipping point? http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/feb/03/tree-deaths-amazon-climate
Despite some assessments of the BP oil spill and the appearance of the Gulf waters, damage to coral, plankton, small creatures like worms, and soil is massive. The foundation of the deep ocean life chain and ecosystem is in trouble.
As we develop new green technologies, we will have to think about unforseen consequences: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2010/12/26/105798/will-generating-ocean-energy-affect.html
The military is leading the way on environmental inititatives. I hope the rest of the country will follow:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/19/opinion/19friedman.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=a212 (via Dianne Bazell)
“Instead of talking about global warming, a nonprofit invoked patriotism, thrift and religion to persuade residents to save energy.”
This is quite an impressive world clock–like nothing I’ve ever seen. This shows the condition of our planet.
Humans are earth beings (Gen 2.7), created from millennia of terrestrial DNA. To connect with our bodies is to connect with our primal origins.
Gulf disaster: When we wreak havoc on the earth, she vomits back.
“Onkalo, a tunnel that will hold spent fuel rods 1,600 feet under bedrock in Eurajoki, Finland, is the subject of the documentary ‘Into Eternity.'”
“Workplace gardens are a relatively cheap perk that can put healthy snacks on the conference table.”
Nicholas D. Kristoff: “The medical establishment has embraced the idea that untested chemicals can cause cancer. It’s time for Republicans and Democrats to address this issue.”
“In his recent book, The World We Have: A Buddhist Approach to Peace and Ecology (2008), the great Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh asserts that Buddhism, as a robust type of humanism, allows people to learn how to live on our planet not only responsibly, but with compassion and lovingkindness. …”
One further positive on government: the environment. If we didn’t have federal mandates, Lake Erie would still be burning, chemical and other toxic waste producing companies would be doing more damage to our soil and water, I and lots of others would be suffering from more severe asthma-induced air pollution (I’m personally still waiting for more restrictions on air particulates–it would help me to breathe), we’d continue to enjoy the benefits of DDT in our food, etc. Sometimes the mandates are too strict (I’ve seen that with our own small family property in the Boston area), but all in all I prefer to be able to eat, drink, breathe, and live on a healthy planet. If you want it the other way, take a look at Love Canal and other similar locations: that’s what we have to look forward to without government “improvements.”
Again, government (WE) sometimes does the job well and sometimes badly. That doesn’t mean we should either rely on government or remove it, but frankly we need to look to ourselves and ask ourselves what we’re doing wrong or not doing at all. It’s up to us. Government ineffectivenss, impersonalness, and bloat are just smptoms of our own attitudes and behaviors.
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