Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Systemic Core of Sustainable Change

Not only do we need to understand dominator/taker culture, but its tendrils; how they affect us, and be honest with ourselves about the myriad ways we're complicit without assigning blame or wallowing in guilt; what our true strengths are to oppose it, and the tools at our disposal to undertake the process of change/making new choices; and the benefits that are possible from a partnership/leaver culture we can develop through our abilities and responsibilities as living organisms to self-organize and create, maintain and enhance mutually supportive attraction relationships that work with the cooperative, compassionate, and nurturing energies of the creative life force.

As change agents, we must lay out the roadmap, or framework, for change for all nodes in the web of life, and evaluate decisions and choices on whether or not they are congruent with the natural systems principles that lead to a healthy, vibrant, resilient ecosystem's sustainability.

To achieve this requires agreement on 1) the overall goal, which I submit is sustainabiltiy; 2) the process with which to achieve it, which I submit is relocalization; and 3) the values we share that uphold and quide this vision and mission, which I submit are contained in the Earth Charter--the international people's declaration of interdependence.

Here are the definitions used in the above.

Dominator Paradigm - ranking hierarchies of control based on force, fear, and the threat of force - exploitive, competitive, aggressive, destructive - selfish individualism where the other (nature, people, culture) is inferior and to be used to one's own advantage

Partnership Paradigm - networks of mutuality based on trust - nurturing, cooperative, compassionate, creative - relationships, community, actualization of potentialities through interconnectedness

Natural Systems Principles - mutual support and reciprocity, no waste, no greed, and increasing diversity

Sustainability - the balance point amongst population, consumption, and waste assimilation within a systems' rate of regeneration and recharge; holistic integration of society and economics into environment so as to enhance rather than degrade; a moral imperative to pass on our natural inheritance to future generations, not necessarily unchanged, but undiminished in its ability to meet the needs of future generations

Relocalization - a return to local autonomy within bioregional self-relience - production and distribution of renewable and non-toxic goods and services as close to point of consumption as possible - global growth economy based on increasing supplies of cheap and abundant fossil fuels will be replaced by steady-state local living economies - interdependent eco-cities not built on automobile dependent sprawl

Earth Charter Values - respect and care for the community of life; ecological integrity; social and economic justice; democracy, nonviolence, and peace

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Carbon Trading, Caps, and Offsets--another market driven scam?

There's a "green" gift suggestion making the rounds this holiday season that's touted to be a way of making a difference. Called carbon offsetting, it's a way of contributing to renewable energy in an amount equal to how much carbon you contribute yearly to global warming.

So, I have a question. Does carbon offsetting actually do anything besides assuage a little guilt about killing the planet? I mean, look at the term they chose for this scheme. Offset, not reduce or stop.

It seems to me to be at best an attempt at payoff, or little more than a financial incentive to continue supporting destruction, but I'm sure there must be something more to it than that, at least from all the hype it's getting from mainstream (large and well-funded) environmental organizations.

One of the better explanations--from the advocacy point of view--of what carbon offsetting or becoming carbon neutral means, as well as some of its promises and rationalizations, comes from the website of someone who's passion and commitment to a healthy environment as well as for social justice is both well known and respected, Dr. David Suzuki.

Let's examine a few of the salient points from

"A "carbon offset" is an emission reduction credit from another organization's project that results in less carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere than would otherwise occur."

Ok, let's see... Plant A doesn't do something, which allows Plant B to do it instead, there is a transference of money accompanying this agreement, and this is supposed to be an offset of overall harm to the system on which life depends for its support?

"The buyers of the offsets benefit because they can claim that their purchase resulted in new non-polluting energy, which they can use to mitigate their own greenhouse gas emissions. The buyers may also save money as it may be less expensive for them to purchase offsets than to eliminate their own emissions."

Isn't all we're actually accomplishing with this scheme slowing down the overall rate of increase? And once again, money wins out over environment. You can abuse me in any way you want, just give me enough money to make the payments on my hottub and Hummer. And this is supposed to be a "principled" stance for the environmental movement? Did they skip the same ethics class most business majors do?

When are people going to realize that you don't compromise with evil? Less bad is not good. It still leads to systemic collapse, thus is not sustainable, and is the one option that really does need to be removed from the table.

"[S]elling offsets from tree planting projects is particularly problematic for a number of reasons, including their lack of permanence and the fact that these projects do not address our dependence on fossil fuels."

What they also don't address is our underlying addiction to consumer society and blind faith in the myth of infinite growth.

"Significantly, only offsets from energy efficiency and renewable energy projects qualify for the Gold Standard, as these projects encourage a shift away from fossil fuel use and carry inherently low environmental risks. Tree planting projects are explicitly excluded by The Gold Standard."

Translation: We've even invented a standard to ensure you that as little as possible happens to seriously challenge the status quo. The one activity that doesn't generate any income for polluters is excluded

"Gold Standard projects must meet very high additionality criteria to ensure that they contribute to the adoption of additional sustainable energy projects, rather than simply funding existing projects. The Gold Standard also includes social indicators to ensure the offset project contributes to sustainable development goals in the country where the project is based."

Here's a part that actually does make sense, and I think why so many people buy into the rest of the story, and not bother searching for alternatives to the initial creation of whatever harmful product is under consideration.

Net energy use must decrease, and the efficiency of the decreased use must increase. The confounding variables in this equation are excess consumption, excess population, and excess greed--not topics of conversation in polite company, and especially not the incestuous relationships amongst these variables. A techno-fix or accounting sleight-of-hand is much more palatable in maintaining the grand illusion of the consensus trance.

"Finally, all Gold Standard projects have been independently verified by a third party to ensure integrity."

Oh, great... and by someone with the sterling reputation, say, of Arthur Anderson, Inc.?

Ok, in all fairness to our cultural loss of the ability to think systemically, a lot of good people buy into the theory behind carbon trading schemes, and they do so because they truly care about the plight of the planet and a future that is at least livable by humans. It does make sense, in a very limited way, to attempt to curtail our addictions to all the stuff that pumps excess carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere by shifting some of our dollars to industries that don't pollute as much on the assumption these industries wouldn't exist at all without at least this level of support, and the pollution from the old industries at least won't be increasing... or hopefully at least not at the same rate, anyway.

However, let's face it, this is the typical behavior of addicts. We'll get off heroin, just give us the methadone.

I mean... do the math while considering the whole system. With increasing demand, there is no net decrease in either natural destruction and resource depletion, nor to human exploitation. CO2 may (or may not) decrease at a specific site, while methane, nitrogen, and sulphur may increase somewhere else (hopefully in a different country so it's easier to ignore). Regardless, deforestation and oceanic deadzones keep increasing, glaciers keep disappearing, and Prozac profits just keep rolling in.

I think I'm going to add the following to a hot-key sequence, I find myself using it so often anymore: Wakey wakey, boys and girls! It's time to take the red pill and cast off the consensus trance!

You really don't have anything to lose but choking to death on your own vomit.

This might not be the prettiest picture imaginable, but try honestly imagining the alternative of not doing so.

Proponents of the various carbon schemes, which include "cap and trade" (cap but not reduce their "right" to pollute) then respond that no, a carbon offset establishes the fact that there is a cost to carbon pollution. Once it is in place the market will establish a true value to that pollution.

Well, yeah, that's pretty much what I said above. If you have enough money, we're willing to let you destroy the planet in any manner you please. The only factor that warrants consideration is the economic one. This is even reflected in the way proponents phrase it--the value of pollution.

Now, I do understand that we do need to shift investment to clean and renewable energy sources. I just don't see any way of escaping the fact that carbon offsets are a way of attempting to work within an inherently destructive and exploitive system. This is one of those inconvenient truths.

What would make more sense to me is to simply tax carbon out of existence, as well as the advertising that supports materialism, and put the money into quality of life initiatives that meet the goals of a sustainable future based on ecological wisdom and social justice.

I think there are many avenues this could take, but first we must come to a social agreement that this is the goal and on how we intend to measure progress toward this goal. This would both tone down the posturing, and more easily illuminate spin.

Are we going to continue pursuing the structural inequity, with nothing but a promise of a better tomorrow, from the Industrial Growth Society, or are we going to power-down and learn to maximize our potential within the biosphere's carrying capacity?

When an activity displays a bias toward harm, do we curtail the activity, or simply decide that paying off the victims still keeps the profit margins at an acceptable level?

While proponents of the carbon schemes will admit the concern about giving polluters an option to merely pay for what they are doing as they keep on polluting is valid, they then try to qualify their support by saying it will take time to make a transition from fossil fuel to renewable resources, and they see the polluters as those who will subsidize this transition.

I don't buy this rationalization at all, however. It's been pretty widely reported that conservation would save about 25-50% of energy use. Decentralizing the national grid would save about 50%. Not producing so much needless crap would save an unimaginable percentage. The only thing the transition scenario supports, knowing or not, is the time to shift elite control structures without losing their grip on power by continuing to propagate the myth that growth is necessary for prosperity and well-being. What they're really trying to protect, however, is the myth that elite control, based on one or another permutation of divine right (like eugenics), is really in the best interests of the "masses."

It seems that the aspects of an equitable and sustainable culture that we should be talking about are restoring community, creating walkable cities, building stuff to last and be repairable, restoring pride in craftsmanship, and shifting status and value to how much one contributes to society instead of how much one can accumulate from it. Plus, as numerous climate and energy experts state, we don't have the luxury of time to create a long transition strategy.

And not to be facetious, but it seems to me that a shift to a sustainable future could be done--it is within the realm of physical possibility and violates no known natural laws--to create this shift today with no harm to anyone but central bankers and insurance brokers.

Of course, when I made this point in a recent on-line conversation, one immediate response was that without central bankers and insurance brokers there is no research and development, no innovation.

To which I replied, more than a little incredulously, who funded the wheel? Pottery and glazing? Agriculture and plant hybridization?

Humans, after all, are creative, if nothing else. Banking actually stifles innovation, because only the innovation that benefits the banks gets funded. If it doesn't further or support the industrial growth paradigm, and provide a decent return on investment, it is neither fundable nor insurable.

This line of argument is similar to stating that if it weren't for the Patent and Trademark Office, none of these technologies would have occurred. This is also like the theory subscribed to by Pentagon planners, who assume aggression and competition are both natural and necessary for innovation, which is then used to justify the existence of a military because there will never be peace if we want to have human advancement. What this all is is patent nonsense.

I was, after all, being facetious--at least a little bit. My point was to bring to light but one of the many layers of social deadwood that have managed to create a story that we provide the legitimacy for.

The argument was also made that it seemed disingenuous to use a technology such as the Internet, which was funded by bankers to promote a shift in society that only harms bankers and insurance brokers.

As opposed, say, to a system that harms everyone else and the planet they depend on? And let's be real. The only harm it is going to do them might be a bit of job retraining and the need to re-evaluate their sense of self-worth.

Please consider, what real goods, necessary for the continuation of life, do bankers and insurance brokers actually provide?

Might the necessity and funding arguments be related to a general confusion in the public between appropriate technologies and appropriate use of technnology?

Rather than relying on the manipulation of fear and scarcity, don't you think we could come up with a better way to meet our needs and evolve our culture? We are, after all, supposed to be intelligent, rational creatures with the freedom of choice.

Of course solar, wind, and other alternative yet to be available on the shelf need investment; many people want to do something; and most of them would rather not have it resemble rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

And I'm of this mindset as well. But I keep thinking that our efforts will be best spent if directed. Stopping global warming is not a direction, it is a response, necessary as it may be.

It seems to me that we (the environmental and social justice movements) find ourselves in the situation common to high school youth, who when bored, say "let's just do something, even if it's wrong."

To have a direction implies a goal. If we were all to simply agree that sustainability is the goal, and use something like the Earth Charter for our common, shared values and to provide a framework for sustainable development, then we have a yardstick by which to measure progress and with which to evaluate proposals as to whether or not they further us along the path to the goal, or whether they're just holding measures that do little to nothing to address the cause of the problem we find ourselves faced with.

I'm of the opinion that we don't have the time for holding measures, and that a viable alternative is available that requires neither a techno-miracle nor a savior. It also happens to increase numerous indicators of what most people consider to be quality of life.

The alternative that can create a sustainable future based on ecological wisdom and social justice is the process of relocalization based on the natural systems principles of mutual support and reciprocity, no waste, no greed, and increasing diversity. These are the principles that keep an ecosystem healthy, vibrant, and resilient. Since these same principles created us--they are a natural part of who we are--it makes sense to me to apply our intelligence to ways we can benefit from these principles in our lifestyles and communities.

But instead, we exert all this energy going through all these extremely convoluted rationalizations to justify a social system based on greed, aggression, domination, and competition, none of which actually contribute to the creation of life. The best that can be said for any of them is that they may temporarily maintain an individual life, and generally at great cost.

Anyway, that was quite the detour to get back to the various carbon trading schemes, and the need to start a conversation about the fact that the pollution economy is the path to imminent ecocide, we need to knock it off instead of financially rewarding it, and we need to start creating things in a new way--a way that's in balance with natural systems and that honors the intrinsic value of life.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Does economic analysis run your life?

One of the arguments being used against solar installations on homes and businesses is that from an economic perspective, photovoltaics stink, even when partially subsidized by local utility companies, because the payback period is so long.

If economics were the only thing that really mattered, this argument might hold water, but it ignores what's actually going on in the world today and their interconnections. The global growth economy is a completely fabricated reductionistic fantasy--the only things that are growing are sprawl, destruction, and the printing presses that create the money. It's no longer a question of if it will collapse, but how soon and how spectacularly.

On the energy front, Peak Oil is here today. It will most likely be possible to stretch the plateau out for a bit longer, but this just makes the eventual descent even steeper. There goes our plastic throw-away economy--everything from iPods to the elastic in your underwear.

Catastrophic climate destabilization is also here today. When people finally arouse themselves from the stupor of the consensus trance, coal fired power generation will be a thing of the past. Even if a technological miracle were to occur so coal could be burned "cleanly" and not just be a bit less polluting, the only way to get the quantity of coal at the rate necessary to continue powering the doomsday economy of the Industrial Growth Society is through mountaintop removal, and that is simply not worth the environmental and human suffering it creates.

Nuclear is a chimera. Processing all the concrete necessary for a reactor is energy intensive and polluting, uranium mining is environmentally devastating and toxic to life, core safety and decomissioning are still problematic, and a safe method of handling the waste is still a pipe dream. 50,000 year (or even 500 year) deadzones so people can run their hair dryers? I don't think so.

This leaves solar, wind, and hydro, which all have drawbacks as well, but these drawbacks are mainly related to the fact that our beleaguered planet is vastly overpopulated and much of this population is either already addicted to overconsumption in order to make up for loss of natural fulfillment, or clamoring to get to this point.

But currently available renewables also represent our best hope of creating a sustainable future. They allow people and communities to regain control of their lives, their well-being, and their economic destiny. Being asked to consider an economic payback of 15 years on a solar installation is a total red-herring when basic survival over the next 5 years is what we should be considering. This means a whole lot of rebuilding and retrofitting, combined with redevelopment of city design on a more human scale instead of being totally automobile dependent.

Of course, the vast majority of people still go into full tilt denial mode when asked to consider the bigger picture.

Energy descent will be combined with increased energy efficiency and energy conservation, of that there can be little doubt. One very radical suggestion would be to tax at about a 90% rate the profits of the pollution economy and use that to invest in renewables, efficiency, and sustainable development within relocalized steady-state economies. This would take the onus off the individual and put it square in the realm of the polis--used in the original Greek meaning of the term.

In all the schemes I've evaluated, the only one that continues to make long-term sense, for both the human species and the planet, is one where people generate the majority of their energy needs at the home, business, and neighborhood levels, with a community or regional utility picking up the slack. This also requires a global population about 2/3rds smaller than it is today, with about half of this population involved in some aspect of biointensive organic food production using permaculture techniques. This social and economic system will stay within bioregional carrying capacity limits, as well as be administered by democratic confederations within these same bioregional boundaries.

Or, we'll continue to elect maniacs on the national stage who will continue to promise a better tomorrow just as soon as we exterminate an "other" who is keeping us from this better tomorrow. In the meantime, we'll continue to drive the SUV to MacDonalds on the way to the Mall to buy plastic closet organizers, where the biggest hill that land yacht is ever going to see are the speed-bumps in the parking lot.

As always, it comes down to choices. Which story do we decide to put our faith in? Which one not only feels right to you, but makes the most rational sense? Which one seems to be in alignment with the way natural systems have been self-organizing mutually beneficial attraction relationships that have supported life for billions of years?

Friday, December 8, 2006

Speedbumps on the road to sustainability

I'm just semi-randomly posting stuff I've written in the past few months to kinda lay a foundation for where I see changes occuring and the evidence I use to come to some of these conclusions. When it has no known basis in fact, I'll try to point this out. Usually.

Yesterday was three articles I'd written immediately after the 2006 mid-term elections. I needed something to fill some space as I was getting the blog setup and seeing how it looked.

I was originally thinking about calling this blog "Goring Sacred Cows: More Inconvenient Truths," but decided it would be way too limiting, as well as not really expressing the positive and creative focus I like to take on where we direct our effort, and on what do we base our choices. But it's going to be a recurring theme as we can't continue making bad decisions, and especially bad decisions that involve little more than making more money. Let's be honest about the sorry state this mindset has gotten us into and what a more rational and sensual alternative might get us.

And then let's just do it. It's all just a story that we believe in, and we can not only choose the interpretation of the story, we can choose an entirely different story as well.

Originally written in October, 2006, here's one in a set of Goring Sacred Cows: More Inconvenient Truths

Speedbumps on the road to sustainability

One of the biggest uphill battles in the quest for sustainability is going to be getting the "progressive" sector of the population to come to grips with their complicity in sustaining the doomsday economy and its voraciously expanding military budget. The denial that runs rampant, not just in the "limousine liberal" set, but with middle-class Democrats and Republicans, is more deep-seated and entrenched than anything you'll find at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.

While it's true that you'll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, and that beating people over the head with the coercive emotional forces of fear and guilt will only produce resentment and defensive rigidity, getting help in overcoming one's addictions starts with admitting you have a problem. This entails becoming aware of the consequences, both personal and social, of daily lifestyle choices before healthier alternatives can be evaluated. One reason this admission may be so difficult is because so many Americans interact with daily life through a Prozac haze. The latest figures show that about 50% of Americans take at least one prescription drug daily, and 20% take three or more. When you add in alcohol and other recreational drugs that are self- prescribed, somewhere between 70-80% of Americans desperately need some type of chemical salve to either make it through their day or to be able to tolerate their day.

I once ran an ad for my non-profit's counseling services announcing the creation of a consumer's support group to help overcome the addiction to materialism and actually got a few calls, but no one followed through. It is more of a taboo subject than what gets classified as sexual deviancy. It seems most people would rather talk about why they masturbate than why they continue to drive the mini-van to the mall.

That the materialistic and mechanized mindset of Western Civilization's Industrial Growth Society is a root cause of systemic problems is something that even many social and environmental justice non-profits don't want to deal with. This first became apparent to me about five years ago. Our non-profit was invited to participate in an educational fair. A large regional mall was trying to show how much they cared about the local community by allowing a dozen tables to be setup one day a year for non-profits to interfere with the shopping experience and pass out literature. This basically gave them the justification to chase anyone off during the rest of the year who would dare attempt to awaken people from the consensus trance.

I decided that I'd put a large sign above our table that said, "We can help you overcome your addiction to shopping." The other groups wouldn't let me put the sign up. They didn't want me "causing problems" or distracting from their own messages. They were afraid that the mall management wouldn't invite them back next year. They didn't want to address the fact, or even be reminded, that the whole reason their non-profit group even had a mission was because the mall existed in the first place.

Does human happiness need to be opposed to the needs of the planet? Can satisfaction be found that is harmonious with nature and with people's inner nature? By seeking satisfaction through consumerism, we are doing as much harm to the planet as is caused by overpopulation. Not only does consumerism fail in its promise of happiness, but by decreasing our free time and by keeping us from developing satisfying relationships, consumerism makes us less happy.

Consumerism -- the concept of growth through consumption -- is US economic policy's primary goal. We are 4.5 times richer than our great-grandparents, but are we 4.5 times happier? In the effort to turn consumption into a ritual to deliver happiness and fulfillment, we have fooled ourselves into thinking that material goods can fulfill what are actually social, psychological, and spiritual needs.

Surveys have consistently shown that people have believed for decades that if they only had twice as much money they'd be happy, no matter if their yearly income was $15 thousand or $15 million. But surveys also show that the number of Americans who report they are very happy -- 1/3 -- is the same now as in 1957, despite a doubling of GNP and personal spending since then.

People are unsatisfied, without knowing why. They think they need more of what they have now. But, if what they have now is what makes people unsatisfied, will more of it make them more satisfied or more dissatisfied? Perhaps people are tuning in to the fact that if human desires are infinitely expandable, it is physically impossible for material consumption to provide fulfillment -- a fact either ignored or vigorously denied by orthodox growth economists.

Consumption fails to make us happy, and advertising then cultivates and preys on that unhappiness. Ads make people self-conscious about being human and unique; to be unhappy with whatever they have that doesn't match this year's fashion. The advertising industry then assures people that the corporate gods have the proper synthetic salvation for their falsely created, non-existent problems.

The things that people say make them happy and life rewarding include developing talents, building stronger family and social relationships, appreciation of nature, pursuing education, and having quality leisure time. These are all sustainable and non-consumerist. But the race to keep up with the Joneses is subverting these desires. Instead of having more leisure time, Americans devote one billion working hours per year to buying more leisure wear.

It's time to create a NewStory. The People's Declaration of Interdependence, known as the Earth Charter, points toward a path for doing this based on our common shared values of respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, social and economic justice, democracy, nonviolence, and peace. The Earth Charter provides a framework for the NewStory of sustainable development. Remember that the antidote to despair is righteous action. The more we focus on what we don't like, the more it increases. It thrives on that energy. We must focus on what we're for, instead of spending so much time protesting what we're against.

It is also instructive and empowering to realize that we are far from alone in the desire to consciously make new choices that are in balance with natural systems. The voluntary simplicity, Cultural Creative, and relocalization movements toward a post-corporate and post-carbon economy can combine with political progressives to make up about 45% of the electorate. It is estimated that about 90 million people in the U.S. are included in these groups, which makes them about nine times larger than the radical right of Christian fundamentalists, and three times larger than either the current Democratic or Republican Parties.

As the German Greens say, we're neither right nor left--we're in front. Would you like to help lead this parade into a sustainable future based on ecological wisdom, social justice, economic equity, and participatory democracy?

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Congrats to the Dems, Part II: Where Next?

This is the post I actually first tried to write, but all that other stuff just had to come out first. Not so much cathartic, as simply laying an honest foundation for where we are, what we have to work with, and where we need to go.

Because the one thing that should be apparent, above all else, is that America voted for change, although as usual managed in some--perhaps not insignificant--ways to shoot itself in the foot while doing so. Such was the case with the defeat of Lincoln Chaffee; and I can't find enough positive terms to describe my elation that Santorum was beaten, but the anti-abortion, pro-gun Casey was the best the Dems could come up with to do so?

Anyway... whatever... I'll let that go for the time being.

So, in the spirit of bipartisanship being called for, how about building a bipartisan relationship between people and the planet they depend on for their health and well-being, and that provides all of the raw materials for any type of economy. Even a steady-state economy, which more people are finally beginning to realize will be necessary as the growth economy implodes and more natural resources disappear, will depend on the sustainability of a productive, vibrant and non-toxic natural world.

I've been working on an article for the past few weeks now dealing with some of these issues. Hopefully, you should find it more balanced and less ranting than these last couple that I've dashed off in under an hour since the election results. Before I finish that article up, though, let's begin looking at some of the things progressives must do to enlighten their new representatives on the people's desire for change, the direction it should go, and how to best enact it. Wouldn't it be great to expand and extend the rightful and long overdue celebration of the defeat of right-wing extremism and religious fundamentalism?

The new Democratic majority in Congress should take a long, hard, and honest look at what the majority of people in America are clamoring for. The Republicans who survived the election should join them in this inquiry. The Democrat's election win was not a "centrist" call to maintain the status quo.

The war in Iraq must come to an end. Actually, let's continue in the spirit of honesty and admit that the war against Iraq, which was really an illegal and immoral invasion of a sovereign nation, has been won and has been over since pResident select Bush declared "Mission Accomplished." What the U.S. is now engaged in is a brutal occupation for which the U.S. military is ill-equipped and ill-trained to maintain. It's time for serious rebuilding instead of profiteering to begin.

No one of right mind would say that Saddam Hussein didn't need to be removed from power. Allowing the barbaric and self-serving methodology of a neoconservative ideology to hold sway was the mistake that has proven fatal to thousands of U.S. military personnel, tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians, the ecology of the entire Middle East, and to both the U.S. treasury and its standing as a moral beacon on the world stage. Whether or not this standing has actually been earned and is deserved after hundreds of years of imperialist policy to protect corporate interests is another issue that merits serious discussion as we move forward in discovering ways to build a sustainable culture of peace based on ecological wisdom and social justice.

Fighting terrorism, however, must be recognized as the oxymoron that it is. If we're to have any hope for success in becoming secure from terrorist threats, we must remove the reasons for terrorist activities to arise.

These issues cannot be divorced from their relationships with the even more serious threat facing humanity of catastrophic climate destabilization, the threat facing a global growth economy that has the moniker of Peak Oil, and the loss of our sovereignty to corporatism. This is what I call the Triumvirate of Collapse.

The growth economy is how we've come to define reality and is the basis for our modern notions of prosperity and security. Its immanent collapse due to the decreasing availability and increasing cost of fossil fuels, with no _realistic_ replacement on the horizon, could prove catastrophic for humanity if government continues to ignore the issue and does nothing to help people prepare for energy descent and relocalized economies. These issues are all intimately intertwined and must be evaluated in the context of dominator control hierarchies and how they have led the shift from the founding American ideals of a democratic Republic toward the current Plutocracy that is running America. I would say running into the ground, but with so much topsoil disappearing, it's more like a bottomless cesspool of toxic waste.

The typical progressive band-aid approach of regulatory incrementalism, which we're told by the elites that continue to benefit from it is the only realistic response to corporate abuse and exploitation, must be replaced by a systemic approach that effectively deals with root causes. Only by effectively dealing with these root causes can a sustainable future be built.

Sustainability should become the agenda to unite progressives from the peace, justice, environmental, and grass-roots democracy movement. Adhering to a comprehensive definition of sustainability that includes the concept of carrying capacity must be used to help inform the decision making of our newly elected congress. Meeting the goals for a sustainable future will also provide the yardstick to measure the new congress's progress and success.

The question on everyone's mind should be whether the centrists of the Democratic Party will awaken from their consensus trance? To be honest, I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for this to happen. What I am hopeful for, however, is that the millions of caring activists, and the tens of millions of caring citizens, that have traditionally identified with and pinned their hopes on the Democratic Party will finally awaken from their own self-imposed consensus trance and realize that their only hope for systemic, sustainable change that is equitable is to join en masse and empower the Green Party. This would transform the landscape of American politics as quickly as Hurricane Katrina transformed the landscape of New Orleans. Our very survival may very shortly depend on it.

The next two years is more than enough time for the current Democratic majority to prove their mettle. Excuses should not be tolerated. If they don't, and in 2008 we are again presented with the typical choice of two appointed party losers who will most likely be McCain and Clinton (and I can't for the life of me decide which of these two is further to the right, and actually trust McCain more as he's closer to a true Republican than Hillary is), the Green Party would be foolish to not seize upon the best opportunity, presented quite literally on a silver platter, they'll likely ever come across.

Outreach and education, passion and compassion in helping people connect the dots between what is actually oppressing them and keeping them from their potential, and what they can actually do about it as the unsustainable system collapses around our feet may be the best chance for electing not only a Green president in 2008, but a solid majority of legislators as well. There is no time like the present to start prepping candidates.

What better gift to the world than providing the Ten Key Values of the Green Party as the foundation for the planet and humanity's future? Because the bottom line is that corporations and their quest for profit and their consolidation of power and control cannot be allowed to continue unchallenged; the planet cannot survive its destructive and self-serving onslaught for too much longer.

The process of relocalization based on the natural systems principles of mutual support and reciprocity, no waste, no greed, and increasing diversity not only adheres to the Ten Key Values, but provides both the path to sustainability and the antidote to corporate globalization. It seems to me to be the real platform that people across the political spectrum are clamoring for.

Congrats to the Dems: Part I

Ok, it's been pointed out to me that I should, if not accentuate, at least give due congratulations for what the Democratic Party managed to accomplish yesterday.

Because, on the surface it seems like a good thing. The Republican Kleptocracy was run out of town on a rail, which, of course, is an excellent thing indeed.

But, it sure seems like the only thing the Democrats did was ride the coattails of a popular uprising against a criminal, arrogant, GOPedophile class that the Democratic leaders have pretty much fully backed for six years--except for those times they have publicly stated they could do a better job of it. Bankruptcy bill, cloture, the supremes, Patriot Act, CAFTA, tax breaks for the wealthy, defense spending... all supported by the majority of the Dems. Only one Democratic Senator voted against giving the shrub imperial powers. They did however, thanks to people like Cantwell, keep the oil rigs out of ANWR.

Truth be told, John Conyers, Dennis Kucinich, Maxine Waters and a small handful of others are the only Democrats who are members of the vertebrate class.

It seems everybody's pissed at the shrub for bringing the stark reality of American imperialism into the light of day. After all, Clinton was so much better at keeping it covered up with NAFTA, the WTO, and his criminal sanctions and weekly bombings of Iraq which were responsible for at _least_ 5 times more Iraqi deaths that what the shrub has been able to accomplish so far. But Clinton knew a much better way to distract the masses, as evidenced by Monica's blue dress. I myself could care less about hummers in the oval office, but how many more people knew where that spot on the dress was than where Bosnia was?

Anyway, let's see what the *Democratic Party* actually offered as an opposition party during the 2006 mid-term elections to the vast majority of the American population so desperately crying out for change.

Their platform on catastrophic climate destabilization was... missing in action. They didn't even have one for global warming, except for a very meager cap and trade system that two or three candidates mentioned in passing.

Their energy plan is what? more nukes? It sure doesn't involve telling the people the truth about Peak Oil and what it means for a future of energy-descent, the end of a growth economy, and what will most likely be massive die-off if a plan for relocalization isn't put into place by, oh, let's say tomorrow.

Their plan to abolish corporate personhood is... shhh... don't bring that up. Their re-election coffers will shrink up tighter than a male's scrotum after jumping into a Minnesota lake in January.

Their plan for election reform is... what? It sure doesn't include IRV or making it easier for third parties to get ballot access. They know where the balance of power would shift if the progressive majority in this country could vote in good faith and had more to choose from than the typical two selected losers.

And what exactly is the Democrat's actual plan for Iraq? Last I heard it was to send more troops in order to do the job "properly."

The current Senate and House minority leaders are on record as saying if the Dems took either house, they wouldn't press for impeachment of a presidency that the _entire_ rest of the world knows is criminal and which your average third-grader could successfully prosecute.

Are they afraid they might make their corporate masters angry?

I'm now supposed to somehow feel better about my and my children's future, and the future of this planet, because the colors changed from red to blue? Based on what evidence exactly, is my question.

So, I hearby offer my hearty congratulations to the Democratic Party for successfully pulling the wool over everyone's eyes with the myth that the overall system is now going to change for the better.

Post election musing

What's this foreboding feeling I have after the elections yesterday?

After seeing the way the candidate voting went (the shift to the Democrats) and the way the proposition voting went here in Arizona (the support for racism and the special interests destroying the world) the main thing that should be apparent--but obviously won't be--is how miserably the American education system has failed the past five generations.

It seems the majority of people who can read have limited comprehension skills and zero skills in critical thinking and analysis. The average voter bought the lies and spin lock, stock, and barrel and seem quite proud of themselves for doing so. Just read a handful of the comments on Tucson's Arizona Daily Star website in regard to the various proposition's outcomes and see if you don't come to this painful conclusion yourself.

So, Arizona retains its image as a racist state of heartless money grubbers willing to lead the race to the bottom as we tax to death current residents to pave (quite literally) the way for those who don't live here (yet) which will maximize the profits of those wanting to bulldoze half the desert to make it easier to drive bigger cars to ticky tacky sprawl and the other half for golf courses kept green with water we don't have.

When the inevitable whining on the left starts--which should start occurring in less than six months (and across the nation, not just in AZ)--it probably won't do any good to remind them that they elected Democrats whose major campaign promise (Giffords being probably the best local example) was that they'd be better Republicans than those currently serving.

All I can say is I hope I'm proven wrong.