Yesterday Charles Pierce at Esquire Politics pointed out that Hurricane Harvey is rapidly becoming an ecological disaster that neither Texas or the federal government is prepared to handle. It is the result of bad decisions made by states that have deregulated industry over the years. To the point that even knowing if there is a …
Americans are, generally, averse to “big” issues and thinking in the long-term. History is bunk (as Henry Ford famously said) to most Americans which is why exactly the same patterns in policy and execution of that policy are manifest in Afghanistan and Iraq as were shown in Vietnam. We, collectively, have learned nothing. At a time when people distrust government when it comes to the military or military actions believe absolutely everything the government says. 9/11 was a case and point. The government offered no evidence and, in fact, destroyed or seized any evidence that there was for the events with the excuse that we were “at war” though no war was declared and there was no country that we were at war with–rather, Americans swallowed whole that we were at war with “terror” which is completely impossible and irrational. This “War on Terror” which was to last, essentially, forever was swallowed by most of the left despite abundant evidence that the U.S. government has consistently deceived the public particularly since the national security state was established during the Truman administration. Some people on the left did object to this war on terror nonsense but no great figures on the left were the least bit skeptical of the government accounts of 9/11! Chomsky accepted that the government tended to lie about everything concerning war and foreign policy but not about 9/11! Somehow they found their hidden ability to tell the truth during that fateful date. Regardless of how any of us feel about the mechanics and cause of 9/11 I think we can agree that the government was hiding something.
The reaction to the events of 9/11 is why I have no faith in the American left–but I believe a real left can emerge but it must emerge out of what I call the Main Event. I don’t mean 9/11 either–it is just a milestone something that was, I believe, inevitable one way or the other. The Main Event is not actually an event but the ongoing horror of climate change. All the issues we talk about are important but they are candles in the sun of what is happening to our environment.
I want to talk about an article I read on the Counterpunch site. The article was written by the brilliant thinker Morris Berman and is entitled: Time to Abolish the American Dream: The Waning of the Modern Ages. He was musing about the issues we face when he came across something Naomi Klein wrote:
….she chastises the Left for not understanding what the Right does correctly perceive: that the whole climate change debate is a serious threat to capitalism. The Left, she says, wants to soft-pedal the implications; it wants to say that environmental protection is compatible with economic growth, that it is not a threat to capital or labor. It wants to get everyone to buy a hybrid car, for example (which I have personally compared to diet cheesecake), or use more efficient light bulbs, or recycle, as if these things were adequate to the crisis at hand. But the Right is not fooled: it sees Green as a Trojan horse for Red, the attempt “to abolish capitalism and replace it with some kind of eco-socialism.” It believes-correctly-that the politics of global warming is inevitably an attack on the American Dream, on the whole capitalist structure.
CA TreeHugger writes this morning at dKos that “Bolivia is set to pass the world’s first laws granting all nature equal rights to humans. The Law of Mother Earth, now agreed by politicians and grassroots social groups, redefines the country’s rich mineral deposits as “blessings” and is expected to lead to radical new conservation and social measures to reduce pollution and control industry.”
According to an article at guardian.co.uk, the law will establish 11 new rights for nature. They include: the right to life and to exist; the right to continue vital cycles and processes free from human alteration; the right to pure water and clean air; the right to balance; the right not to be polluted; and the right to not have cellular structure modified or genetically altered.
The law will enshrine the right of nature “to not be affected by mega-infrastructure and development projects that affect the balance of ecosystems and the local inhabitant communities”.
One of the main reasons our era is faced with intractable environmental problems is that we tend to look at the world with capitalist eyes, as an ensemble of commodities. Specifically, our world is forced into a cycle of commodities, in which the ultimate end of things is determined not by regeneration but by commodification. When something can no longer be a commodity, then, it is “externalized” — made into trash. This diary will explore the cycle of commodities, and suggest an alternative way which doesn’t present such intractable environmental problems.
(crossposted at Orange)
Our free market economy is nothing more than a huge auction called ‘Supply and Demand’, which – very efficiently – puts a price on on everything.
The problem is that it allows us to sell everything – the last drop of oil, the last tree, the last fish, the last of everything. It’s called growth – but it is, obviously, growth into oblivion – the exact opposite of EcoEconomics. It is a fatal flaw of our present economic system.
Or, as Greenpeace puts it: “When the last tree is cut, the last river poisoned, and the last fish dead, we will discover that we can’t eat money…”
The eco-economic price for a natural resource is, therefore, the price you would have to pay if our planet were to release that resource only at a sustainable level.
Who can put a Price on the Environment? … We all should.
Afterall if we end up decimating the planet’s EcoSystems — trying to sell off their once abundant natural resources — We can’t eat the money … or gold either, can we?
This question dates back to a conversation I had some time ago with bobswern, who advocates some form of Keynesianism, as to the efficacy of a renewed economic stimulus. The problem here is that the current industrial society is based on a foundation of oil consumption, so more economic growth = more oil consumption = higher gas prices = more global warming. I want to know, then, what’s the Keynesian plan for the environment? I am not trying to attack here — but I’m curious as to how well thought out the “stimulus” plan is. My own advocacy involves the transition to a more humane economy, rather than a mere renewal of “economic growth.”
(crossposted to Orange)
I sighed uneasy relief with everyone else when BP finally stopped Deepwater Horizon from emptying itself in the Gulf. Yes, I knew it was temporary. Yes, I knew it could blow up again any minute. But there was, nevertheless, a relief. For a short time anyway, BP would stop turning the Gulf of Mexico into a disgusting oil gumbo garnished with oil soaked pelicans and dead dolphins.
But then I read this article in the New York Times:
A wellhead in southeastern Louisiana was spewing a mist of oil and gas up to 100 feet into the air after being hit by a tug boat early Tuesday morning, officials said. It is at least the third unrelated oil leak in the area since the Deepwater Horizon spill began 99 days earlier.
The well is about 65 miles south of New Orleans in Barataria Bay, which is surrounded by wildlife-rich wetlands and was a fertile area for fishermen, shrimpers and oystermen before the BP spill. By Tuesday afternoon, a reddish brown sheen 50 yards by one mile long was spotted near the well, according to a spokeswoman for the Coast Guard.
The Coast Guard said the well was owned by Cedyco, a company based in Houston.
The wellhead burst at 1 a.m. local time Tuesday after being hit by a tug boat, the Pere Ana C, that was pushing a dredge barge, Captain Buford Berry, though details were still being investigated.
So, not to put too fine a point on it, there is more oil and gas being deposited in the Gulf as you read this. And they haven’t started stopping it yet, and are booming. Booming. Booming with 6000 feet of boom. Pardon me, but didn’t we all decide in the past 3 months that that is worthless. Oh, but excuse me again, this is a new day. And a new leak. And so we get to try stuff that didn’t work before all over again. Because we’re crazy and think it’ll be different this time.
And then we have this gem:
No specific flow rate has been determined, officials said.
Mama mia. Oy gevalt.
And this, dear reader, is why I find myself shrieking. And uttering strings of profanity. Join me.
In response to our nation's vast economic and ecological problems, Green Change has launched a campaign for a Green New Deal.
The Green New Deal is an ambitious program to create economic prosperity together with ecological sustainability.
We are building a coalition of candidates, individuals and organizations to support the Green New Deal – starting today.
Join the Green New Deal Coalition now.
Here are the ten policies you endorse by joining the Green New Deal Coalition:
1) Cut military spending at least 70%;
2) Create millions of green union jobs through massive public investment in renewable energy, mass transit and conservation;
3) Set ambitious, science-based greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, and enact a revenue-neutral carbon tax to meet them;
4) Establish single-payer “Medicare for all” health care;
5) Provide tuition-free public higher education;
6) Change trade agreements to improve labor, environmental, consumer, health and safety standards;
7) End counterproductive prohibition policies and legalize marijuana;
8) Enact tough limits on credit interest and lending rates, progressive tax reform and strict financial regulation;
9) Amend the U.S. Constitution to abolish corporate personhood; and
10) Pass sweeping electoral, campaign finance and anti-corruption reforms.
Will you help us turn these ideas into reality?
The first step is to agree on these ten priorities. The next step is to push for specific policies to make them happen.
We need your help. Share your ideas about a Green New Deal on the Green Change network.
Kindra Arnesen is part of a husband and wife fishing & shrimping team that made their living off the coast of Louisiana until the blowout of the BP Deepwater Horizon well destroyed their livelihood. They then tried working for BP as part of the cleanup. What do you do if you see your young child on shore getting so sick from the fumes you have no choice but to try to take her away from this ? What do you do when you see workers told not to use respirators, and fish dying ? This is her story.
This was originally posted on
and it may be also seen here:
partial transcipt highlights: (I am having trouble with some of this, due to sound quality, incomplete)
Beyond the anger, frustration, sadness, depression and fear of the BP oil disaster there must be something else. The Gulf of Mexico is fast becoming a deadly petroleum gumbo garnished with oil coated, dead pelicans, life in the sea is massing and trying unsuccessfully to escape the pollution, and there may really be nothing on a practical level that can be done to staunch the hemorrhage of Pachamama’s vital fluids. We watch in horror. And grief. Is our mother dying? I awoke in the middle of the night to write this haiku:
I watch you dying.
Pelican can’t fly away.
Oceans fill my eyes.
This is deeply troubling. And beyond sickening. AP reports:
GULF SHORES, Ala. – Dolphins and sharks are showing up in surprisingly shallow water just off the Florida coast. Mullets, crabs, rays and small fish congregate by the thousands off an Alabama pier. Birds covered in oil are crawling deep into marshes, never to be seen again.
Marine scientists studying the effects of the BP disaster are seeing some strange – and troubling – phenomena.
Fish and other wildlife are fleeing the oil out in the Gulf and clustering in cleaner waters along the coast. But that is not the hopeful sign it might appear to be, researchers say.
The animals’ presence close to shore means their usual habitat is badly polluted, and the crowding could result in mass die-offs as fish run out of oxygen. Also, the animals could easily get devoured by predators.
“A parallel would be: Why are the wildlife running to the edge of a forest on fire? There will be a lot of fish, sharks, turtles trying to get out of this water they detect is not suitable,” said Larry Crowder, a Duke University marine biologist.
Dear Pachamama, Mother Earth, Santa Madre Tierra, Gaia, Sweet Mother, I am so sorry for what we have done and are doing to you and your creatures, our brothers and sisters, the creatures who live in and near the sea. We don’t know how to stop the oil, and we don’t know how to save all of these beings. Please understand our remorse, our regret, our shame and accept out deepest apologies for destroying this part of this wondrous, blue pearl planet. Please forgive us.
simulposted at The Dream Antilles
Once again, my hair’s on fire.
These are the salient facts. The BP oil leak continues unabated. Oil has transformed the Gulf Coast into the largest man made ecological disaster in history. It may be impossible to stop the leak. Even if it’s possible to stop the leak, it may take months and luck to do so. Neither the Government nor BP apparently has the resources to stop the leak quickly. Flying over the leak and visiting the Gulf Coast and making repeated speeches about the leak and trying not to look completely helpless or to cry on camera is apparently all that Government can do for us. There has not been an all out, dramatic, gigantic mobilization of human and other resources to capture oil or to contain it. Oil has arrived and more is expected on beaches in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. There’s no end in sight.
My hair’s on fire. I’m not really able to be with the situation. The Gulf has turned into an oil gumbo with dead animal croutons, and my emotions are a boiling, raging, oil stew. There is no real relief, no real change in sight. There is no comfort. Even thinking about impermanence, which can be an ally at times like this, doesn’t help. Because there’s my ever present dread that while the current situation cannot continue forever, it just might become much, much worse. What would that look like? It would be the death of an ecosystem.
At the moment there seem to be only two real possibilities. These are not disjunctive. Choice one: pick up my shovels and drive to the coast. Do whatever I can to be of help there. Choice two: ceremony and prayer. Beg Santa Madre Tierra, Pachamama, Mother Earth for forgiveness and healing. I don’t have anything else.
simulposted at The Dream Antilles