Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Rushing

After an unusually warm November,

We have our first breath of cold.

I brought in my flowering plants,

and cleared a place for them on the metal prep table

that sits next to the the south window

in my 80 year old kitchen.

The wind chime is ringing in the sometimes blustery wind.

But it is also singing and tinkling in a soft measure of calm.

The sky is dark but not so dark really.

The light softly illuminates the now drenched leaves

that adorn my lawn.

Three full days have passed,

since we walked down The Mountain

that the Huichole call the Center of the Universe,

the place where the sun was born.

As we began our return journey,

We heard, and then we saw a Crow.

He flew between us and the decorated sky

of pink and blue and magenta.

Then, in the silence,

We heard the sound of the air rushing

around his black feathered wings,

as if he was flying inside our minds.

As he flew towards the Mountain,

We heard him call into the brightness of the silence.

Soon, his partner followed right behind.

Again, we heard the Rushing,

A sound that in our combined 100 years on earth,

We had never heard before.

Perhaps because we were rushing.

I rush around too much I think.

In the name of efficiency or whatever,

I power through my days like a steamer,

breaking the water of the infinite sea,

leaving a wake of accomplishments.

Today, I think it would be wise

to take my piece of time,

and listen to the wind,

and to The Rushing.


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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Bush v Gore II

Yale Press

Today, the Supreme Court hears the case on whether or not carbon dioxide should be considered a pollutant by the EPA.

Here is part of the story

9:21 am: Opening arguments under way
in Supreme Court global warming case
By Mark Sherman
Associated Press
November 29, 2006

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court stepped gingerly into the U.S. debate over global warming on Wednesday, asking how much harm would occur if the government's Environmental Protection Agency continues its refusal to regulate greenhouse gases from new vehicles.

In the first case about global warming to reach the high court, a lawyer for 12 states and 13 environmental groups pressed the justices to make the government act, saying the country faces grave environmental harm.

Inaction is like lighting "a fuse on a bomb," said James Milkey, an assistant attorney general for the state of Massachusetts.Opening up an hour of arguments, Justice Antonin Scalia asked, "When is the predicted cataclysm?"

It's not cataclysmic, but rather "ongoing harm," Milkey replied.

Chief Justice John Roberts pointed out that regulating carbon dioxide emissions from new vehicles addresses just one aspect of an issue of global dimensions.

The argument by those pushing for EPA action on vehicle emissions might or might not be valid, but it "assumes everything else is going to remain constant," Roberts observed.

Several justices questioned whether the states and environmental groups have met their legal burden to show they will be harmed by continued EPA inaction. Petitioners to courts must meet that threshold before the merits of a case may be addressed.

The Bush administration argued in court papers that the EPA lacks the power to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act. Even if it had such authority, the EPA still would not use it at this point because of uncertainty surrounding the issue of global warming, the administration said.

Global climate change is "a controversial phenomenon that is far from fully understood or defined," trade associations for car and truck makers and automobile dealers said in a court filing signed by former government lawyers Theodore Olson and Kenneth Starr. They backed the administration position.

Twelve states, mainly along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, three cities, a U.S. territory and 13 environmental groups are arguing that the EPA ignored the clear language of the Clean Air Act. Under the 1970 law, carbon dioxide is an air pollutant that threatens public health and the EPA must regulate it, they said.


The court's decision could have far-reaching effects.

A separate case involving the EPA's claim that the Clean Air Act similarly does not give it authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants also is making its way through the federal courts.

Michigan, home of the U.S. auto industry, and eight other states are backing the EPA."

Now you may remember that Theodore Olson represented Bush before the Supreme Court in the famous case in the 2000 election. And how could you forget Kenneth Starr?

It is pretty clear to me that the uncertainties about climate change and its effects are its economic impacts, its severity, its time scale, and if we can meaningfully slow it down and adapt to it or not. The issue of CO2 and whether or not it is a pollutant is neo nonsense. Olson will say that CO2 is essential to life and harmless. Water is essential to life too, but too much of it is called a flood and big floods destroy everything.

If there was ever a sequel to the Bush V Gore , this is it.

Just as Teachers turn down 50,000 free copies of an Inconvenient Truth, the Supreme Court must face its own inconvenient truth.

Will they be political minions or will they sort out the facts

as the fair judges they were appointed to be?

Or will the Spring Tide roll over their memories

and erase their relevence forever?

I bet on the latter.

But hope for the better.


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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

International - Law?

Quick, Before the World Gets Organized

Jump scale. Imagine you are a multinational corporation who wants
to dump nuclear waste in Mexico. Trade is free, so you do it, but the
Mexican government says, No. This is good. You keep your toxic waste
and sue Mexico for 15.6 million dollars. It’s called Investor-to-State
Dispute Resolution
. The next year you sue another government who
tries to regulate toxic waste in violation of free trade — ad infinitum
until the world gets organized. You’re like the farmer whose strategy
is not to plant. The free market is a shell game, watch the money trail.
Jump scale again. You are the most powerful nation on the earth. You’ve
been attacked by terrorists, not a state, a bunch of pissed-off, low-tech
fundamentalists who want holy war. It is an asymmetrical attack. The
UN Charter gives you the right to defend yourself from an immediate or
ongoing attack. But the attack, which killed thousands of civilians and
caused enormous devastation, was over in 30 minutes. A month later
you initiate military action against a small country thought to harbor the
enemy. You bomb cities, Red Cross centers, villages, homes and enemy
encampments. Your allies in various treaty organizations are obliged to
help you defend yourself. But are you really doing that? Some say you
are in violation of international law and much of the world is furious.
You could have joined with all nations in the United Nations Security
Council to form a world treaty to stop terrorism. You could have worked
to have the thugs who attacked you tried in a World Court. Instead you
form a posse of rich countries and declare war against one of the poorest
countries on the planet. Nevermind last summer you were negotiating
a pipeline deal with the government you are now going to annihilate.
There's a better way to get Asian oil. You don't want a United Nations
treaty against terrorism because you conduct terrorist operations in many
member states, where partisan loyalties and opportunism are rampant.
At home a radical coup is using national catastrophe to squeeze huge
corporate gains out of the public trust — two billion dollars, for instance,
to Ford Motor Company so they can go on making inefficient cars. Billions
to airlines who don’t screen baggage. That's good. You like oil dependent
industry. And war. Your father has major financial interest in the 11th
largest munitions corporation in the world. You wanted a Middle Eastern
war and have been given one on a silver platter. One thing you
don’t want is renewable energy. Another is peace. It’s too much trouble to
consider international justice, to gather viable evidence, present it to a
world judicial body you don’t control. The small country can prove to any
court’s satisfaction that you are dropping bombs on them. Your evidence
of the threat of resource-rich nations which you annihilate, is nonexistant.
You create Military Tribunals with no jury, no evidence necessary.
Your courts can sentence anybody to death. You are all law and all justice.
The last thing you want is for the world to get organized. International
Law is an ad hoc bunch of conflicting treaties, trade agreements,
international bodies and charters, no coherence and no authority that is
greater than the might you wield. Power trumps ethics. And that’s good.
The most important thing you have to do is fast track a bunch of free
trade agreements so you can make more money with your toxic garbage
— quick, before the world gets organized.

*photo from Kirton & McConkie website, a law firm which helps
people set up international businesses.

©Susan Bright, 2002, published in The Layers of Our Seeing, 4th edition
print date: 12/08/06.

Susan Bright is the author of nineteen books of poetry. She is the editor of Plain View Press which since 1975 has published one-hundred-and-fifty books. Her work as a poet, publisher, activist and educator has taken her all over the United States and abroad. Her most recent book, The Layers of Our Seeing, is a collection of poetry, photographs and essays about peace done in collaboration with photographer Alan Pogue and Middle Eastern journalist, Muna Hamzeh.

Great clip here from The Rag Blog.


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Sunday, November 26, 2006

A Galactic Tactic

I've got limited access here this time in the mountains, so here is an oldie, but a goodie.

The Smart Bomb

I rolled over and tried to go back into the dream, but something, a flash, had taken me out of my dreamland.

“What was that?”


“That flash of light. It was like a lightning bolt, but I didn’t hear any thunder.”

Janelle opened her eyes slowly and then closed them again.

"What time is it?", she said in that voice that I will always love.

“I don’t know.”

I looked at the clock. It was flashing. Apparently the electricity had gone off for just a moment. That probably explained the flash. A transformer must have blown up. But then, if it had blown up, the electricity would not have gone immediately back on.

“It’s five.”

“Go back to sleep.”

Janelle was gone again. I tried to go back to sleep too, but there was too much energy in the air. I laid in the bed. I could feel something. There was a little tingle in my spine. In my head, I could feel a sensation. It was like a sparkling in my brain. There were little lights now.

I watched them as they played in my mind’s eye. They would come together and then dance apart. At first they were white, then colored ones came in. Then, they would come in from the corners, and come to the center and then they would move around each other like two planets locked in each others orbit.

As the little stars of light continued to play on the stage of my mind's eye, I began to hear a humming. It was barely audible, but I could feel it deep in the back of my head, where the spine connects to the brain.

It rose up from there and began to find a place more in the center, but somewhere toward the back of the skull. It was not really a sound, it was more like a vibration. It was pleasant, but I’m not sure why.

I went in and out of sleep the rest of the morning, sometimes dreaming, but most of the time, I was just watching and listening to the play of light. It was hypnotizing. It was like an opera without the fat people.

The morning came, and it was beautiful. No, it was remarkable.

I don’t recall ever seeing a sunrise quite so splendid. The colors ranged from glorious pinks and oranges to deep turquoise. Since Venus was in the morning sky, I could see it until just before the sun hit the horizon.

Janelle got up and walked down the hallway.

She has always been beautiful, but somehow today she looked like she had lost 10 years of age. If sex appeal is quantifiable, hers was off the chart, and she hadn’t even rubbed the sleep out of eyes.

I looked out of the window, past the tops of the houses in the valley, and off into the hills. Somehow our little part of the world looked pretty good to my eyes. A fine mist was rising from the moisture in the trees. It gave the rays of the sun a medium to show their splendour.

It was All Saints Day.

My computator was bringing in the days news.

I can select any kind of interface I want to hear, or see, or just read.

If I want to hear it, I can select the voice and the accent.

For some reason, I had chosen the voice of Walter Cronkite to read the news to me while I started the water for the shower.

Authorities report that a flash of light was seen this morning at about 5 AM. The flash was seen all over the world. Even in China, where it is now 5 PM, there was a discernable brief increase of light. Clocks all over the globe are blinking from an apparent momentary disruption in power supply.

The report went on.

Authorities at the Navel Observatory are reporting that the Atomic Clock that is used to accurately mark time has experienced an unprecedented loss of an instant.

As the day progressed, a host of remarkable things began to occur.

Brit Hume at Fox News abruptly veered from his prepared talking points and suddenly began speaking about the need to bring all of our troops home. He looked deep into the camera and seemed for the first time, at least to me, to be almost human.

Old Greybeard at CNN was interviewing Scotty and he suddenly decided to ask him how he could possibly say that the President wanted to get to the bottom of the spy case, when all he really had to do was ask the perpetrators on his staff to turn in their resignations.

Scotty didn’t have an answer,

Then, Scotty said,

Your right, it’s not plausible is it?

I feel like an idiot reciting this stuff

By noon, the Congress had convened an emergency session.

The purpose?

Every member had simultaneously decided that Climate Change must be addressed now. Most were talking about bringing the troops home and using that money to develop new, highly advanced forms of energy that would make oil and gas and coal, as well as nuclear, totally passé.

By the late afternoon, the Supreme Court announced that Roe v Wade was sacrosanct. They declared the Patriot Act unconstitutional.

By that evening the president made a speech that would become the basis of the recovery of the world from our darkest of times.

Everything changed. In a twinkling.

Astronomers at the National Observatory said the flash came from the center of the Galaxy, but they had no idea what it was or how it was generated.

They just knew that it was effective.

It was a smart bomb.


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Saturday, November 25, 2006


Cause for Celebration
for Liz, Katrina and **Elijah

Consider, for example, a day full
of fog and confusion, world politics —

Consider, on such a day, the possibility
that love could grow anyplace
on the planet, on Tuesday, in your
life, for instance and quickly
breathe the miracle of it —
her million faces,
how she is loyal past all
logic, how she has endured
the odd collapse of meaning
that is our time on earth —

Consider —
that a woman
raised on a dryland farm in Texas
and a man whose family
fled Eastern Europe
have raised a girl who is
a physician in one of
the finest cities on earth,
a girl who today marries
another girl,
who teaches school
whose family knows
a different journey—
how love is greater than
the distances between us,
and vastly better.

Consider, on your darkest day,
the distances we have all
traveled —
how love, in spite of everything
anyone can to do to confuse it,
brings us to focus
and is in her
or quiet self
for celebration,
for prayer,
for ceremony,
for celebration.

* Photos by Susan Bright.
** The prophet Elijah was a creator and receiver of miracles.

©Susan Bright, 2001

Susan Bright is the author of nineteen books of poetry. She is the editor of Plain View Press which since 1975 has published one-hundred-and-fifty books. Her work as a poet, publisher, activist and educator has taken her all over the United States and abroad. Her most recent book, The Layers of Our Seeing, is a collection of poetry, photographs and essays about peace done in collaboration with photographer Alan Pogue and Middle Eastern journalist, Muna Hamzeh.

The photo of the Golden Gate Bridge was taken from a pier at Fort Baker on the Northeast edge of the bridge, alongside the Bay Area Discovery Museum, a magical place for children and their parents.


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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Let US Begin

JFK inaugural ball

Spend some time here today if you can. You will feel better knowing that we as a people are capable of great things and truly inspired public discourse.

"Finally, to those nations who would make themselves our adversary, we offer not a pledge but a request: that both sides begin anew the quest for peace, before the dark powers of destruction unleashed by science engulf all humanity in planned or accidental self-destruction.

We dare not tempt them with weakness. For only when our arms are sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be employed.

But neither can two great and powerful groups of nations take comfort from our present course--both sides overburdened by the cost of modern weapons, both rightly alarmed by the steady spread of the deadly atom, yet both racing to alter that uncertain balance of terror that stays the hand of mankind's final war.

So let us begin anew--remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.

Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us.

Let both sides, for the first time, formulate serious and precise proposals for the inspection and control of arms--and bring the absolute power to destroy other nations under the absolute control of all nations.

Let both sides seek to invoke the wonders of science instead of its terrors. Together let us explore the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths and encourage the arts and commerce.

Let both sides unite to heed in all corners of the earth the command of Isaiah--to "undo the heavy burdens . . . (and) let the oppressed go free."

And if a beachhead of cooperation may push back the jungle of suspicion, let both sides join in creating a new endeavor, not a new balance of power, but a new world of law, where the strong are just and the weak secure and the peace preserved.

All this will not be finished in the first one hundred days. Nor will it be finished in the first one thousand days, nor in the life of this Administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet.

But let us begin.

Inaugural Address, January 20, 1961
United States Capitol, Washington, D.C.
January 20, 1961
John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum


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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Light of Day

Today marks the beginning of the Third Year of Earthfamilyalpha.

When I first started, many of us were shaken by another election.

Now, many of us are encouraged by the recent one.

The first year will likely be named "after midnight",

not just because that year was as politically dark as any I have known,

but also because I found myself writing the bulk of the stories

somewhere between one and three in the morning.

As the second year came along, my schedule changed,

and I began to write very early in the morning, as the sun rose.

I imagine that the second year will therefore be named,

"Before the Dawn".

Now, in this synthetic third year, as the realities of

climate change and resource depletion begin to sink into the

minds and consciousness of even the darkest corners of our brethren,

I suspect that this year will likely be called the "Light Of Day".

For it will be this year that

many things will be brought from the shadows of secrecy and deceit.

In this year,

I hope to gain more contributors to earthfamilyalpha.

If you would like to be one of those contributors, just e mail me.

I hope to report about more solar advancements and deployments,

I hope to find more advances in ultra capacitors

and other state of the art storage devices.

I hope to share and comment on how the World has Awakened,

That the Challenges that lie before us have been recognized,

And why we must now cooperate globally to meet these challenges.

Al Gore recently said

"At stake is nothing less than the survival of human civilisation"

Soon enough, most all of us will know this truth,

Even in Oklahoma.


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Monday, November 20, 2006

Contradiction Diction

Pissarro The Gleaners

Somedays, it is a bit more than the necessary paradox.

It is contradiction.

Here is Krishnamurti on contradiction

"To be fully aware of the present is an extraordinarily difficult task because the mind is incapable of facing a fact directly without deception. Thought is the product of the past and therefore it can only think in terms of the past or of the future; it cannot be completely aware of a fact in the present.

So long as thought, which is the product of the past, tries to eliminate contradiction and all the problems that it creates, it is merely pursuing a result, trying to achieve an end, and such thinking only creates more contradiction and hence conflict, misery and confusion in us and, therefore, about us.

To be free of contradiction, one must be aware of the present without choice. How can there be choice when you are confronted with a fact? Surely the understanding of the fact is made impossible so long as thought is trying to operate upon the fact in terms of becoming, changing, altering.

Therefore self-knowledge is the beginning of understanding; without self-knowledge, contradiction and conflict will continue. To know the whole process, the totality of oneself, does not require any expert, any authority. The pursuit of authority only breeds fear. No expert, no specialist, can show us how to understand the process of the self.

One has to study it for oneself.

You and I can help each other by talking about it, but none can unfold it for us, no specialist, no teacher, can explore it for us. We can be aware of it only in our relationship - in our relationship to things, to property, to people and to ideas.

In relationship we shall discover that contradiction arises when action is approximating itself to an idea. The idea is merely the crystallization of thought as a symbol, and the effort to live up to the symbol brings about a contradiction.

Thus, so long as there is a pattern of thought, contradiction will continue; to put an end to the pattern, and so to contradiction, there must be self-knowledge. This understanding of the self is not a process reserved for the few.

The self is to be understood in our everyday speech, in the way we think and feel, in the way we look at another. If we can be aware of every thought, of every feeling, from moment to moment, then we shall see that in relationship the ways of the self are understood.

Then only is there a possibility of that tranquillity of mind in which alone the ultimate reality can come into being.


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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Johnny Appleseed

1774 Postcard of Johnny Appleseed

Yesterday, while working on some new exciting improvements to a "negative carbon" solar energy plant, I realized that we probably needed some kind of live oak scrub that protected the area around the plant modules and that it might also provide some kind of food or feed at the same time. Thus, the large solar plant footprint would not only produce electricity, ( and hydrogen if needed), it would also take CO2 out of the environment and place it in evergreen plants that provide human nourishment with little or no farming.

Today I came across this speech by Richard Heinberg in the Energy Bulletin. Heinberg is the author of the Party's Over, one of the first of the Peak Oil books.

Here is a part of it.

Fifty Million Farmers
by Richard Heinberg
From the text of a lecture to the E. F. Schumacher Society
October 28, 2006

During both World Wars, Americans planted Victory Gardens. During both periods, gardening became a sort of spontaneous popular movement, which (at least during World War II) the USDA initially tried to suppress, believing that it would compromise the industrialization of agriculture.

It wasn’t until Eleanor Roosevelt planted a Victory Garden in the White House lawn that agriculture secretary Claude Wickard relented; his agency then began to promote Victory Gardens and to take credit for them.

At the height of the movement, Victory Gardens were producing roughly 40 percent of America’s vegetables, an extraordinary achievement in so short a time.

In addition to these historical precedents, we have new techniques developed with the coming agricultural crisis in mind; two of the most significant are Permaculture and Biointensive farming (there are others—such as efforts by Wes Jackson of The Land Institute to breed perennial grain crops)

Permaculture was developed in the late 1970s by Australian ecologists Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in anticipation of exactly the problem we see unfolding before us. Holmgren defines Permaculture as “consciously designed landscapes that mimic the patterns and relationships found in nature, while yielding an abundance of food, fiber, and energy for provision of local needs.”

Common Permaculture strategies include mulching, rainwater capture using earthworks such as swales, composting, and the harmonious integration of aquaculture, horticulture, and small-scale animal operations.

A typical Permaculture farm may produce a small cash crop but concentrates largely on self-sufficiency and soil building. Significantly, Permaculture has played an important role in Cuba’s adaptation to a low-energy food regime.

Biointensive farming has been developed primarily by Californian John Jeavons, author of How to Grow More Vegetables. Like Permaculture, Biointensive is a product of research begun in the 1970s. Jeavons defines Biointensive (now trademarked as “Grow Biointensive”) farming as
. . . an organic agricultural system that focuses on maximum yields from the minimum area of land, while simultaneously improving the soil.

The goal of the method is long-term sustainability on a closed-system basis. Because biointensive is practiced on a relatively small scale, it is well suited to anything from personal or family to community gardens, market gardens, or minifarms. It has also been used successfully on small-scale commercial farms." more

As the title of the speech implies, and as many Peak Oil enthusiast insist, civilization and the advanced robotic techniques that we have developed in the last century will simply not be useful in a post carbon age. The answer will be more farmers.

While I do agree that Victory Gardens and Community Gardens should be important contributors to our local food supply, we will still need lots of grains and other food products grown as intelligently and sustainably as we can envision. And in my view, large robotic techniques should and will be used.

But, perhaps more importantly, we would probably do well to erase the lines between farmers and workers, rural fields and urban lawns.

Jim Haynes, a visionary citizen of the planet who lives in Paris, once wrote a little book with the big title, "Workers of the World Unite and Stop Working".

His point is straightforward.

Most of the work we do is shit.

We feed ourselves with 1% of the population.

We build our settlements with less than that.

There are, are course, essential positions that make our lives work, but most of the things that we do can be replaced with robotics or technology; or, they are arguably non-essential. (Sporting goods salesmen are a good example) And worse, much of this senseless toil is environmentally destructive and resource depleting.

A post carbon world does not necessarily mean a collapse and a return to the 19th century.

But it will mean that we must soon accept the challenges that lay before us, and that we should respond to them with a new vision and an inspired openess to new ways of shaping our lives.

Simply running back to the previous centuries will not only not work,

It will make Peal Oil gloom and doom prophesies self fulfilling.

We don't need 50 million more farmers,

We need 50 million Johnny Appleseeds.


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Saturday, November 18, 2006

Of a Feather


They simply
out of existence.

Hazel eyes, wild—
soft brown fur.
There are thirty Florida Panthers left
and they will die
unless they can be tricked into
in captivity—panthers
don’t understand farms.

Puppy-faced water baby—
shark food.

The Hawaiian Monk Seal
gets caught in commercial
fish nets,
doesn’t understand—
dies tangled
in fishing line.

Golden flash,
float past, winged alphabet.

Hurricane Andrew
and a century of pesticide
poisoning has killed
all but 100 Sachaus
Swallowtail Butterflies.

Speckled feathers,
duck face, goofy looking bird.

In 1923
there were twenty Laysan Ducks
left on earth.
Still that small flock,
on a single island
in Hawaii, is
one hurricane away
from extinction—
feather hunters.

Loudmouthed parrot
screeching at the Arizona Desert

The Thick-Billed Parrot
could fly 60 mph,
you could hear it’s call
three miles away.

we think they’re gone.

Prehistoric giant, nine foot wingspan,
pointy, spine-headed grandmother—
please don’t die.

There are 89 California Condors
and twenty million dollars worth
of captive breeding
can’t bring them back.
People shoot them, or
they fly into telephone wires,
and there’s poison everywhere.

One by one we go—

©Susan Bright, 2006,

Susan Bright is the author of nineteen books of poetry. She is the editor of Plain View Press which since 1975 has published one-hundred-and-fifty books. Her work as a poet, publisher, activist and educator has taken her all over the United States and abroad. Her most recent book, The Layers of Our Seeing, is a collection of poetry, photographs and essays about peace done in collaboration with photographer Alan Pogue and Middle Eastern journalist, Muna Hamzeh.


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Friday, November 17, 2006

Scam and Trade

Like I said in yesterday's post, Cap and Trade is a way for the corporate psycho class to maintain their free permits for their present crimes against the environment; and, simultaneously give themselves legal insulation from future global warming law suits.

No wonder the POTUS likes it. Here's the story.

White House to monitor 'cap-and-trade'
global-warming strategy
The Associated Press

NAIROBI, Kenya -- The Bush administration will watch closely how California and other states and nations carry out their "cap-and-trade" systems reining in global-warming gases, the chief U.S. negotiator said Thursday.

"We welcome the pursuit of these different strategies and we want to see how they evolve," Undersecretary of State Paula J. Dobriansky said in an interview with The Associated Press at the U.N. climate conference.

She didn't rule out the possibility the United States might end its opposition to mandatory caps on carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases blamed for global warming.

The United States and Australia are the only major industrialized countries to reject the Kyoto Protocol, which obliges 35 industrial nations to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. President Bush has said Kyoto would harm the U.S. economy, and it should have required cutbacks in poorer nations as well.

In imposing quotas on such emissions from power plants and other energy-intensive industries, the European Union established a trading system whereby companies that don't use their full emissions allowances can sell credits to others that need them.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed legislation imposing emissions ceilings in California and envisions a trading system there. Other U.S. states are developing similar programs.

When asked, Dobriansky didn't rule out such a system at the national level. "We look forward to an innovative discussion on the most effective approaches," she said. "

Cap and Trade.

Sounds like progress doesn't it?

But, it institutionalizes the problem instead.

And even worse, it legitimizes the act of polluting.

It's their defense for the future.

Yes, generally "the perfect should not become the enemy of the good".

But Cap and Trade is not good.

It's a Scam and Trade.

It's a full employment act for regulators and government.

It's a" get out of jail free" card for the polluters.

It's a scheme that will ultimately place the burden of these acts

onto the victims of these crimes.

That would be us.


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Thursday, November 16, 2006

CO2 Dumping

One hundred years from now, folks will look back at this time in history and wonder with horror how a seemingly intelligent civilization could have allowed the wholesale dumping of climate changing gases into our atmosphere with out even having to pay for that privilege.

If you go to the land dump, you pay a tipping fee, but if you dump crap into our air, the air we breathe, there is no charge. Remarkable that we can be so blind to simple truths.

Well, at the 12th meeting fo the COP, which makes no news in this country, the Swiss are now calling for a Global Tax on CO2.

Here is the story.

Swiss step up calls for global CO2 tax
Copyright 2006, Swissinfo
November 15, 2006

Swiss President Moritz Leuenberger has called for the introduction of an international tax on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to fight global warming.

Speaking in Nairobi at the United Nations Climate Conference on Wednesday, Leuenberger said that such a levy would help those worst affected by climate change. The president explained that each individual and business would pay the tax based on their CO2 emissions, with revenue going towards measures mitigating the effects of global warming.

Leuenberger said that it would encourage major producers of CO2 to cut their emissions and provide sufficient funding for the measures. He added that the levy would also compensate those suffering from climate change.

"It is precisely those who so far have contributed the least to the causes who are the most severely affected by [...] global warming," he said.

Leuenberger said it would be major step forward if the conference could discuss the financing and the management of funds for different measures.

In his speech, the president admitted that there had been some progress over the past decade in fighting climate change, but that efforts had been so far insufficient."We have waited too long and we have lacked focus in our efforts to get to grips with the problem," he said.

"And with major disasters increasing by the day, we have to talk about adaptation, namely how protect ourselves here and now against threats."

Leuenberger warned that it was no longer enough to tackle the causes of global warming, but that it was also necessary to protect people against imminent harm as well deal with any consequences of climate change."We must combine our measures to prevent future global warming with our efforts to tackle the current effects of natural disasters that have occurred," he added." more

Now, as much as I like the spirit of this,

the letter of it is all wrong.

This should not be called a tax.

There should be a fee for dumping chemicals into the air.

And if you remove CO2, or other out of balance chemicals from the air,

you should get paid for doing it.

Goat farmers in Mexico could reduce their herds

and get paid for letting their trees grow back.

If you cut a forest down, you must pay for the carbon you release.

When and if you let it grow back, you get an annual credit.

A CO2 Tax is the right idea with the wrong name.

And forget about cap and trade.

It will be supported by the corporate psychos who want

to continue the equivalent of trading uncommited crimes.

By their way of thinking,

If one guy has been killing three guys a day and

he falls behind in his killing spree,

he should be able to trade that non kill

to an exuberant killer who has gone over his quota.

That's how psycho they are.

If you must dump into the atmosphere,

then you must pay a dumping fee,

Not a Tax.


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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A Hotter Hole

* First Printed Picture of an Oilman --
Ortus Sanitatis, Strasbourg, 1517

50 Years of Pure Fun

My grandfather, after observing a house
several doors down the street in Scranton
disappear into burning mine shaft,
considered, more seriously
than he had previously done, the benefits
of a new alternative to coal —

His part of the emerging business
was to invent an auto club.
His hobby was to race any car that
passed him on the road, and buy it.

My father, after graduating class poet
from Brown University intended to
teach school, but soon found himself working
for Pure Oil, which is why today I found
a brochure from the fifties entitled
50 Years of Pure Fun – full of cartoons,
a hand written letter about picnics, jokes —
reminding me of a time in my life
when everyone I knew wasn’t disgusted
with the oil industry.

There was optimism in the early days.
Exploration produced beautiful geological
maps of layers of earth, shale, sand, salt water
and – on a lucky day, black gold. My father
worked with Warner Brothers to make a film
about oil exploration, and we got to go along.

When my father and grandfather started
in the oil business it was the cutting edge of
a new technology, cleaner and better than coal
which had ignited the mountains underneath
their home with slow, hot fires that are still
burning today.

My uncle liked to tell the story about how
the Carpenetti family had to move their
gas station six times –
each move a little further from disaster.

Grandmother drove a Henry J.
Everyone told stories about spinning
down ice covered mountain roads.
Mother, who drove to teach school in a village
close by, was stranded once in a blizzard
and had to spend the week with a couple
who only spoke to each other thru their dog.
Our world revolved around cars
and the energy that fueled them.

It was an exciting technology, caught
the imagination of the world,
and it’s markets.

But today, we’re about to fall into an
even hotter hole— much like the one that ate
house after house on the street where my
father grew up, but world scale.

It’s our turn to find another kind of energy,
or move in stages like the Carpenettis' gas station,
away from disaster, or both.

Fifty Years of Pure Fun morphed
to Unocal, pipelines in Afghanistan,
Turkmenistan, wars and more wars
which we are sick of.

Plus the street is on fire —

©Susan Bright, 2006,

Susan Bright is the author of nineteen books of poetry. She is the editor of Plain View Press which since 1975 has published one-hundred-and-fifty books. Her work as a poet, publisher, activist and educator has taken her all over the United States and abroad. Her most recent book, The Layers of Our Seeing, is a collection of poetry, photographs and essays about peace done in collaboration with photographer Alan Pogue and Middle Eastern journalist, Muna Hamzeh.

*cartoon from 50 Years of Pure Fun
published in 1965, inhouse pamphlet,
Pure Oil.


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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Bye Bye Birdie

There is a well attended renewable energy conference in town, and yesterday, the plenary session attendees were treated to a well researched report on how renewable energy can reduce CO2 in the geographic state of the United States to the levels that some experts believe will help in stopping its most rapid advance.

Given today's news, that would seem like a pretty good idea.

Global Warming Could Wipe out Most Birds
World Wildlife Fund
November 14, 2006

NAIROBI - Unchecked climate change could drive up to 72 per cent of the world's bird species into extinction but the world still has a chance to limit the losses, conservation group WWF said in a report on Tuesday.

From migratory insect-eaters to tropical honeycreepers and cold water penguins, birds are highly sensitive to changing weather conditions and many are already being affected badly by global warming, the new study said.

"Birds are the quintessential 'canaries in the coal mine' and are already responding to current levels of climate change," said the report, launched at a United Nations conference in Kenya on ways to slow warming.

"Birds now indicate that global warming has set in motion a powerful chain of effects in ecosystems worldwide," WWF said.

"Robust evidence demonstrates that climate change is affecting birds' behaviour -- with some migratory birds even failing to migrate at all."

In the future, it said, unchecked warming could put large numbers of species at risk, with estimates of extinction rates as high as 72 per cent, "depending on the region, climate scenario and potential for birds to shift to new habitats".

It said the "more extreme scenarios" of extinctions could be prevented if tough climate protection targets were enforced and greenhouse gas emissions cut to keep global warming increases to less than 2 degrees C (1.6 F) above pre-industrial levels." more

And here is another story about the melting of the ice caps and how the latest research shows that the Earth's climate could change quickly, and violently.

Melting ice turns up the heat
The Sydney Morning Herald
Fred Pearce
November 11, 2006

RICHARD ALLEY's eyes glint as we discuss how fast global warming could cause sea levels to rise. The scientist sums up the state of knowledge: "We used to think that it would take 10,000 years for melting at the surface of an ice sheet to penetrate down to the bottom.

Now we know it doesn't take 10,000 years, it takes 10 seconds."

That highlights why scientists are panicky about the sheer speed and violence with which climate change could take hold. They are realising that their old ideas about gradual change - the smooth lines on graphs showing warming and sea-level rise and gradually shifting weather patterns - are not how the world's climate system works.

The conventional view holds that sea levels will start to rise as a pulse of warming works its way gradually from the surface through the two kilometre- and three kilometre-thick ice sheets on Greenland and Antarctica and melts them. The ice is thick and the heat will penetrate slowly. So we have hundreds, probably thousands, of years to make our retreat to higher ground.

Recent research, however, shows that idea is wrong. Glaciologists forgot about crevasses.

What is actually happening is that ice is melting at the surface and forming lakes that drain down into the crevasses. In 10 seconds, the water is at the base of the ice sheet, where it lubricates the join between ice and rock. Then the whole ice sheet starts to slide downhill towards the ocean.

"These flows completely change our understanding of the dynamics of ice sheet destruction," says Alley.

"Even five years ago we didn't know about this."


Our complex society relies on our being able to plant crops and build cities, knowing that the rains will come and the cities will not be flooded by incoming tides. When that certainty fails, as when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans last year, even the most sophisticated society is brought to its knees." more

Last night, at the Vision Dinner,

I tried to get the group to drop their present view

and to understand our situation,

deeply, and at our cores.

The British Met folks from Hadley certainly did their part.

We didn't get it.

But at least we tried.

I just heard a couple of song birds outside.

They probably don't know that they are canaries.

And we don't know we are in a mine.


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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Drastic Measures


I've been working on some remarks for a Vision dinner that I am hosting this week, and I'm going to include George Monbiot's 10 points of action that was published in the Guardian two weeks ago. It goes a long way in demonstrating what kind of changes we need to be thinking about as we truly begin to deal with the real issues of our time, Climate Change and Resource Depletion.

I've edited it quite a lot, so go to the original for the complete story.

“So how do we do it without bringing civilisation crashing down? Here is a plan for drastic but affordable action that the government could take. It goes much further than the proposals discussed by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown yesterday, for the reason that this is what the science demands.

1. Set a target for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions based on the latest science.

2. Use that target to set an annual carbon cap, which falls on the ski-jump trajectory. Then use the cap to set a personal carbon ration. Every citizen is given a free annual quota of carbon dioxide. He or she spends it by buying gas and electricity, petrol and train and plane tickets.

3. Introduce a new set of building regulations imposing strict energy-efficiency requirements.

4. Ban the sale of incandescent lightbulbs, patio heaters, garden floodlights and other wasteful and unnecessary technologies.

5. Redeploy money now earmarked for new nuclear missiles towards a massive investment in energy generation and distribution. Two schemes in particular require government support to make them commercially viable: very large wind farms, many miles offshore, connected to the grid with high-voltage direct-current cables; and a hydrogen pipeline network to take over from the natural gas grid as the primary means of delivering fuel for home heating.

6. Promote the development of a new national coach network. City-centre coach stations are shut down and moved to motorway junctions. Urban public transport networks are extended to meet them. The coaches travel on dedicated lanes and never leave the motorways.

7. Oblige all chains of filling stations to supply leasable electric car batteries. The batteries are charged overnight with surplus electricity from offshore wind farms.

8. Abandon the road-building and road-widening programme, and spend the money on tackling climate change.

9. Freeze and then reduce UK airport capacity.

10. Legislate for the closure of all out-of-town superstores.

Now, George is not a scientist or an engineer,

But his basic ideas capture the essense of how we need to think.

We will need to completely rethink our transportation habits.

We will need to use communication instead of transportation

whenever we can.

We will need to forge a new solid state economy,

that is efficient, and smart.

I may not agree with George's ideas for action.

But I like his recognition that drastic measures are needed.



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art courtesy of John Van Alstine

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Slaughter Suits

Armistice Day

Man is the only animal that deals in that atrocity of atrocities, War. He is the only one that gathers his brethren about him and goes forth in cold blood and calm pulse to exterminate his kind. He is the only animal that for sordid wages will march out...and help to slaughter strangers of his own species who have done him no harm and with whom he has no quarrel. ..And in the intervals between campaigns he washes the blood off his hands and works for "the universal brotherhood of man"--with his mouth. (Mark Twain, What is Man?)

Twice recently I’ve visited Texas A&M —
once for a peace rally organized
by Veterans for Peace.

We did a choral reading of "Bring Our Soldiers Home"
in front of the Bush Library.

A child, whose father died from civilian exposure
to radiation in Nevada, an occurrence the military flatly
denied, leaving the family penniless, asked
after we traversed Barbara Bush and George Bush Boulevards
which wind around to a posh library —

Why does he get all this when my father
didn’t even get a gravestone?

My last visit was a few weeks ago when
I was invited to read poetry at a literature festival.
I told my host the fresh faced young
men and women in paper thin beige uniforms —
white cardboard knee boots, or black jackboots,
military dress for children — made me sad.

He said, slaughter suits, under his breath,
said these kids are recruited from small towns,
offered free school, free clothes, free books.

On Veteran's Day, which used to be called Armistice Day
in celebration of the end of WWI,
one might logically celebrate peace, however
that’s not what’s happening.

Even the classical music station is playing war
marches, oh glory! tra la!

Our lives — a long string of war, genocide
and planetary devastation in the name of profit.

I'd rather mark today with the recognition
that Robert Gates, the president of Texas A&M,
is an old Bush family crony, a past CIA director,
like George Bush Sr., an architect of the Iran
Contra deals, a death squad guy — reputed to
have helped arm both sides of the Iran/Iraq war,
(remember the Bush family, the Carlyle Group,
are world scale arms manufacturers).

His appointment to replace Rumsfeld
as Secretary of Defense is unlikely
to point us anywhere close to
the end of the carnage of war
or to the survival of life as we
know it
on an endangered planet.

©Susan Bright, 2006,

Susan Bright is the author of nineteen books of poetry. She is the editor of Plain View Press which since 1975 has published one-hundred-and-fifty books. Her work as a poet, publisher, activist and educator has taken her all over the United States and abroad. Her most recent book, The Layers of Our Seeing, is a collection of poetry, photographs and essays about peace done in collaboration with photographer Alan Pogue and Middle Eastern journalist, Muna Hamzeh.


The War Prayer
Mark Twain, 1905

It was a time of great and exalting excitement. The country was up in arms, the war was on, in every breast burned the holy fire of patriotism; the drums were beating, the bands playing, the toy pistols popping, the bunched firecrackers hissing and spluttering; on every hand and far down the receding and fading spread of roofs and balconies a fluttering wilderness of flags flashed in the sun; daily the young volunteers marched down the wide avenue gay and fine in their new uniforms, the proud fathers and mothers and sisters and sweethearts cheering them with voices choked with happy emotion as they swung by; nightly the packed mass meetings listened, panting, to patriot oratory which stirred the deepest deeps of their hearts, and which they interrupted at briefest intervals with cyclones of applause, the tears running down their cheeks the while; in the churches the pastors preached devotion to flag and country, and invoked the God of Battles beseeching His aid in our good cause in outpourings of fervid eloquence which moved every listener. It was indeed a glad and gracious time, and the half dozen rash spirits that ventured to disapprove of the war and cast a doubt upon its righteousness straightway got such a stern and angry warning that for their personal safety's sake they quickly shrank out of sight and offended no more in that way.

Sunday morning came -- next day the battalions would leave for the front; the church was filled; the volunteers were there, their young faces alight with martial dreams -- visions of the stern advance, the gathering momentum, the rushing charge, the flashing sabers, the flight of the foe, the tumult, the enveloping smoke, the fierce pursuit, the surrender! Then home from the war, bronzed heroes, welcomed, adored, submerged in golden seas of glory! With the volunteers sat their dear ones, proud, happy, and envied by the neighbors and friends who had no sons and brothers to send forth to the field of honor, there to win for the flag, or, failing, die the noblest of noble deaths. The service proceeded; a war chapter from the Old Testament was read; the first prayer was said; it was followed by an organ burst that shook the building, and with one impulse the house rose, with glowing eyes and beating hearts, and poured out that tremendous invocation

God the all-terrible! Thou who ordainest! Thunder thy clarion and lightning thy sword!

Then came the "long" prayer. None could remember the like of it for passionate pleading and moving and beautiful language. The burden of its supplication was, that an ever-merciful and benignant Father of us all would watch over our noble young soldiers, and aid, comfort, and encourage them in their patriotic work; bless them, shield them in the day of battle and the hour of peril, bear them in His mighty hand, make them strong and confident, invincible in the bloody onset; help them to crush the foe, grant to them and to their flag and country imperishable honor and glory --

An aged stranger entered and moved with slow and noiseless step up the main aisle, his eyes fixed upon the minister, his long body clothed in a robe that reached to his feet, his head bare, his white hair descending in a frothy cataract to his shoulders, his seamy face unnaturally pale, pale even to ghastliness. With all eyes following him and wondering, he made his silent way; without pausing, he ascended to the preacher's side and stood there waiting. With shut lids the preacher, unconscious of his presence, continued with his moving prayer, and at last finished it with the words, uttered in fervent appeal, "Bless our arms, grant us the victory, O Lord our God, Father and Protector of our land and flag!"

The stranger touched his arm, motioned him to step aside -- which the startled minister did -- and took his place. During some moments he surveyed the spellbound audience with solemn eyes, in which burned an uncanny light; then in a deep voice he said:

"I come from the Throne -- bearing a message from Almighty God!" The words smote the house with a shock; if the stranger perceived it he gave no attention. "He has heard the prayer of His servant your shepherd, and will grant it if such shall be your desire after I, His messenger, shall have explained to you its import -- that is to say, its full import. For it is like unto many of the prayers of men, in that it asks for more than he who utters it is aware of -- except he pause and think.

"God's servant and yours has prayed his prayer. Has he paused and taken thought? Is it one prayer? No, it is two -- one uttered, the other not. Both have reached the ear of Him Who heareth all supplications, the spoken and the unspoken. Ponder this -- keep it in mind. If you would beseech a blessing upon yourself, beware! lest without intent you invoke a curse upon a neighbor at the same time. If you pray for the blessing of rain upon your crop which needs it, by that act you are possibly praying for a curse upon some neighbor's crop which may not need rain and can be injured by it.

"You have heard your servant's prayer -- the uttered part of it. I am commissioned of God to put into words the other part of it -- that part which the pastor -- and also you in your hearts -- fervently prayed silently. And ignorantly and unthinkingly? God grant that it was so! You heard these words: 'Grant us the victory, O Lord our God!' That is sufficient. the whole of the uttered prayer is compact into those pregnant words. Elaborations were not necessary. When you have prayed for victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results which follow victory -- must follow it, cannot help but follow it. Upon the listening spirit of God fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!

"O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle -- be Thou near them! With them -- in spirit -- we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it -- for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.

(After a pause.) "Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it, speak! The messenger of the Most High waits!"

It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.

*A is for Armistice, Cyntian Gaub
**Public Service Announcement Project


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