Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Rise of the New Economy Movement


"One recent calculation is that 400 individuals at the top now own more wealth than the bottom 160 million."

Gar Alperovitz / 2012 What's the Real Truth?

The broad goal is democratized ownership of the economy for the “99 percent” in an ecologically sustainable and participatory community-building fashion. The name of the game is practical work in the here and now—and a hands-on process that is also informed by big picture theory and in-depth knowledge.
Thousands of real world projects — from solar-powered businesses to worker-owned cooperatives and state-owned banks — are underway across the country. Many are self-consciously understood as attempts to develop working prototypes in state and local “laboratories of democracy” that may be applied at regional and national scale when the right political moment occurs.
The movement includes young and old, “Occupy” people, student activists, and what one older participant describes as thousands of “people in their 60s from the ’60s” rolling up their sleeves to apply some of the lessons of an earlier movement.
Explosion of Energy
A powerful trend of hands-on activity includes a range of economic models that change both ownership and ecological outcomes. Co-ops, for instance, are very much on target—especially those which emphasize participation and green concerns. The Evergreen Cooperatives in a desperately poor, predominantly black neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio are a leading example. They include a worker-owned solar installation and weatherization co-op; a state-of-the-art, industrial-scale commercial laundry in a LEED-Gold certified building that uses—and therefore has to heat—only around a third of the water of other laundries; and a soon-to-open large scale hydroponic greenhouse capable of producing three million head of lettuce and 300,000 pounds of herbs a year. Hospitals and universities in the area have agreed to use the co-ops’ services, and several cities—including Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Washington, DC and Amarillo, Texas are now exploring similar efforts. Read More

Look Now for Venus to Cross the Sun, or Wait Another Century

Kenneth Chang / NYTimes.com

Observing the dark circle of Venus cross the face of the Sun on June 3, 1769, from his farm about 20 miles northwest of here, David Rittenhouse left a curious gap in his account of that day.      
An exhibit at the American Philosophical Society museum offers a possible explanation: “Exhausted and excited, he is said to have fainted shortly after the transit began.”
This rare conjunction of orbital mechanics was perhaps the most anticipated scientific event of that century. Expeditions set off for the far corners of the Earth, including one by Capt. James Cook, who sailed to Tahiti.
They went in hopes of answering one of the most vexing scientific questions of the day: How far away is the Sun?
“This was the big unknown for astronomy,” said Owen Gingerich, an emeritus professor of astronomy and history of science at Harvard. Without that number, much else about the solar system was also uncertain: the size of the Sun, the distance between planets.
The next transit of Venus will occur next Tuesday, and will be visible, at least for a while before sunset, across the United States. In New York and along the East Coast, the Sun will be low in the sky, requiring observers to find locations not be obscured by trees or buildings. (A west-facing window up high in a skyscraper could be a good place to watch.) The usual precautions about not looking directly at the Sun apply. Special eclipse viewing glasses can be used, or the image of the Sun can be projected through a pinhole or binoculars onto a sheet of paper.
While no longer of great scientific import, as it was to Rittenhouse and Captain Cook, a Venus transit is still a rare and striking event, occurring in pairs, eight years apart, about once a century. The last transit occurred in 2004, and almost no one alive today will be around for the next one, 105 years from now, on Dec. 11, 2117. (That one will not be visible at all from most of the United States. New Yorkers, however, will have a prime viewing spot for the following transit, on Dec. 8, 2125.) Read More

Bluefin tuna record Fukushima radioactivity

"All the fish examined in the study showed elevated levels of radioactive caesium - the isotopes 134 and 137."

Jonathan Amos / BBC.com

Pacific Bluefin tuna caught off the coast of California have been found to have radioactive contamination from last year's Fukushima nuclear accident.

The fish would have picked up the pollution while swimming in Japanese waters, before then moving to the far side of the ocean.

Scientists stress that the fish are still perfectly safe to eat.

However, the case does illustrate how migratory species can carry pollution over vast distances, they say.

"It's a lesson to us in how interconnected eco-regions can be, even when they may be separated by thousands of miles," Nicholas Fisher, a professor of marine sciences at Stony Brook University, New York, told BBC News.

Fisher and colleagues report their study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

They examined the muscle tissues of 15 Bluefin tuna (Thunnus orientalis) taken from waters off San Diego in August 2011, just a few months after the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

These were animals whose parents would have spawned in Japanese waters and spent one to two years locally before heading to feeding grounds in the eastern Pacific. Read More

Thirty-six years of failure: a brief history of climate change

Doug Craig / Redding.com

In late June of 1988, the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the government of Canada sponsored "the World Conference on Our Changing Atmosphere: Implications for Global Security".
More than 300 scientists and policy makers from 46 countries attended and released a Conference Statement that said in part, "Humanity is conducting an unintended, uncontrolled, globally pervasive experiment whose ultimate consequences could be second only to a global nuclear war. The Earth's atmosphere is being changed at an unprecedented rate by pollutants resulting from human activities, inefficient and wasteful fossil fuel use and the effects of rapid population growth in many regions."
"The 1988 conference...put climate change on the global agenda and proposed a specific initial target for a global reduction in the emission of greenhouse gases - 20% below 1988 levels by 2005 - on the way to a much larger ultimate reduction, to be set following further research and debate."
To put this into perspective, nine years later, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol that virtually every nation on Earth signed, except for the US, involved a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. Eleven years later, President Obama, in turn, pledged to reduce American emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. This could be called goalpost shifting.
It is like a 200 pound man setting a goal to weigh 175 pounds in one year. A year later when he weighs 250 pounds, he sets a goal to weigh 225 pounds in one year. A year later when he weighs 300 pounds, his new goal is to weigh 275 pounds in one year. And so on. Our objective from the beginning appears to have been to set goals, not reach them. And when we fail to reach previous goals, we just set new ones. Anyway, the media and the public have a short memory and barely care. And in an election year, the fate of the planet is low on our list of priorities. Read More

Researchers conclude that climate change led to collapse of ancient Indus civilization

"A new study combining the latest archaeological evidence with state-of-the-art geoscience technologies provides evidence that climate change was a key ingredient in the collapse of the great Indus or Harappan Civilization almost 4000 years ago. The study also resolves a long-standing debate over the source and fate of the Sarasvati, the sacred river of Hindu mythology."

Once extending more than 1 million square kilometers across the plains of the Indus River from the to the Ganges, over what is now , northwest India and eastern Afghanistan, the Indus civilization was the largest—but least known—of the first great urban cultures that also included Egypt and Mesopotamia. Like their contemporaries, the Harappans, named for one of their largest cities, lived next to rivers owing their livelihoods to the fertility of annually watered lands.
"We reconstructed the dynamic landscape of the plain where the Indus civilization developed 5200 years ago, built its cities, and slowly disintegrated between 3900 and 3000 years ago," said Liviu Giosan, a geologist with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and lead author of the study published the week of May 28 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "Until now, speculations abounded about the links between this mysterious ancient culture and its life-giving mighty rivers."
Today, numerous remains of the Harappan settlements are located in a vast desert region far from any flowing river. In contrast to Egypt and Mesopotamia, which have long been part of the Western classical canon, this amazingly complex culture in South Asia with a population that at its peak may have reached 10 percent of the world's inhabitants, was completely forgotten until 1920's. Since then, a flurry of archaeological research in Pakistan and India has uncovered a sophisticated urban culture with myriad internal trade routes and well-established sea links with Mesopotamia, standards for building construction, sanitation systems, arts and crafts, and a yet-to-be deciphered writing system. Read More

Friday, May 11, 2012

Game Over for the Climate

New York Times
GLOBAL warming isn’t a prediction. It is happening. That is why I was so troubled to read a recent interview with President Obama in Rolling Stone in which he said that Canada would exploit the oil in its vast tar sands reserves “regardless of what we do.”
If Canada proceeds, and we do nothing, it will be game over for the climate.
Canada’s tar sands, deposits of sand saturated with bitumen, contain twice the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by global oil use in our entire history. If we were to fully exploit this new oil source, and continue to burn our conventional oil, gas and coal supplies, concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere eventually would reach levels higher than in the Pliocene era, more than 2.5 million years ago, when sea level was at least 50 feet higher than it is now. That level of heat-trapping gases would assure that the disintegration of the ice sheets would accelerate out of control. Sea levels would rise and destroy coastal cities. Global temperatures would become intolerable. Twenty to 50 percent of the planet’s species would be driven to extinction. Civilization would be at risk.
That is the long-term outlook. But near-term, things will be bad enough. Over the next several decades, the Western United States and the semi-arid region from North Dakota to Texas will develop semi-permanent drought, with rain, when it does come, occurring in extreme events with heavy flooding. Economic losses would be incalculable. More and more of the Midwest would be a dust bowl. California’s Central Valley could no longer be irrigated. Food prices would rise to unprecedented levels. Read More

Vibe Report – May 2012

by Nancy Ward
We are into the 5th month of 2012 and as I sit with the energies scanning the past 4 months I see and feel erratic fluctuations pulling and pushing like a sawing motion, accompanied by drops in elevation down into sinkholes, then popping out like cartoon toast from a toaster boing-ing up and slow spiraling down to land gently on soft moss that soon morphs into mud and turns into a slurry that cascades us with it to the edge of a precipice and off we go because there’s no other choice and instead of falling, we’re floating and then suddenly falling and then going up and on and on it goes. Yikes!
At times I’ve also felt like I’m on a carnival ride – the Cup and Saucer. I’m sitting in the cup and it begins to spin and the larger saucer is also spinning, faster and faster, at different rates and sometimes different directions. Centrifugal forces are bringing up our issues for integration and lightening up.
We may be feeling a little dizzy or nauseous, experiencing digestive issues, sudden feelings of panic, or a general flat-lining feeling that leaves us staring into space. Surges of energy are entering our nervous system affecting our physical bodies, our emotional/mental body and blurring the lines of reality. I’m not even sure I can explain what that means, but so-called reality seems a bit fuzzy at times, along with the flow of time itself. And the sun… what’s up with the sun? The light seems different somehow and yet I can’t quite put my finger on it. It seems “old” or diffused… the shadows seem long even at mid-day. Read More

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Connecting More Dots to See the Invisible

Jen Jerndal
We are four months into the emblematic year 2012. Let’s look back to the build-up during 2011 and recall the following events and trends:
The Arab Spring revolutions spreading from Tunisia to Egypt, from Libya to Syria, and from Bahrain to Yemen;
The Spanish INDIGNADOS movement that spread to other countries in Europe and to the US.
Unprecedented riots and looting in London, Manchester and Birmingham and other places;
Luxury cars being burnt in Berlin, Düsseldorf, Hamburg and other German cities;
The biggest protests ever in Israel, with nearly half a million people taking to the streets in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa, demanding social justice;
Students and teachers in Chile claiming free higher education in masssive anti-government demonstrations were met with massive confrontations by riot police;
A major grass-root protest campaign in India against corruption;
During labour riots in China, police and fire vehicles were set on fire;
The “Occupy Wall Street” movement in New York and across the United States has been spreading over the Atlantic into Europe, Asia and Oceania, with cascading consequences.
Riots in Greece against the “austerity measures” imposed by the International Monetary Fund and the former Goldman Sachs executives turned “saviours” of the Euro. Read More

Friday, May 04, 2012

Love versus Fear

by Sarah Nean Bruce
[Sarah Nean Bruce is a storyteller and filmmaker. Read more from her at sarahneanbruce.com.]

LOVE IS UNCONDITIONAL (fear is conditional)
LOVE IS STRONG (fear is weak)
LOVE RELEASES (fear obligates)
LOVE SURRENDERS (fear binds)
LOVE IS HONEST (fear is deceitful)
LOVE TRUSTS (fear suspects)
LOVE ALLOWS (fear dictates)
LOVE GIVES (fear resists)
LOVE FORGIVES (fear blames)
LOVE IS COMPASSIONATE (fear pities)
LOVE CHOOSES (fear avoids)
LOVE IS KIND (fear is angry)
LOVE IGNITES (fear incites)
LOVE EMBRACES (fear repudiates)
LOVE CREATES (fear negates)
LOVE HEALS (fear hurts)
LOVE IS MAGIC (fear is superstitious)
LOVE ENERGIZES (fear saps)
LOVE IS AN ELIXIR (fear is a poison)
LOVE INSPIRES (fear worries)
LOVE DESIRES (fear Joneses)
LOVE IS PATIENT (fear is nervous)
LOVE IS BRAVE (fear is afraid)
LOVE IS RELAXED (fear is pressured)
LOVE IS BLIND (fear is judgmental)
LOVE RESPECTS (fear disregards)
LOVE ACCEPTS (fear rejects)
LOVE DREAMS (fear schemes)
LOVE WANTS TO PLAY (fear needs to control)
LOVE ENJOYS (fear suffers)
LOVE FREES (fear imprisons)
LOVE BELIEVES (fear deceives)
LOVE “WANTS” (fear “needs”)
LOVE versus fear: what do you feel?

Thursday, May 03, 2012

The Transit of Venus



Transit of Venus: Where to Be Location, location, location. Whether and when you can see the 2012 transit of Venus depends on your location. Key highlights include the four "contacts" near the beginning and end of the transit when Venus appears to touch the edge of the sun. Most of North America sees the beginning of the transit in the afternoon and evening (find a clear western horizon!) on June 5, whereas much of Eurasia sees the end of the transit in the morning (find a clear eastern horizon!) on June 6. Click to access and enlarge PDF version of map showing visibility of 2012 transit of Venus. Courtesy of Fred Espenak (NASA GSFC), who provides additional transit of Venus data from NASA. Read More