Saturday, August 15, 2009

A Response to: Ask President Obama to Stop Global Warming

I wrote the following in response to an e-mail alert from Bob Fertik of, but I'm sending it out and posting it on the Natural Systems blog as an open letter to the progressive and environmental movement.

On 15 Aug 2009 at 9:49, Bob Fertik ( wrote:

> Ask President Obama to Stop Global Warming

Hello Bob... if the goal truly is to pass comprehensive legislation that will stand up to the best scientific evidence and analysis, then it should start with being honest with ourselves. After all, life on Earth and the future of Western industrial civilization is at stake. Although the latter must be seen as much less important than the former.

First, the targets. We must reduce all greenhouse gas emissions (not just CO2) from human sources by 90% below 1990 levels by 2030. And continue down to zero from there post haste. And instead of just rolling your eyes in bemusement at naive idealism, realize that this actually is an obtainable goal if we change our tactics. Scientifically, technologically, and psychologically doable. There is a systemic alternative available that is viable and pragmatic; that works with who we are as living organisms instead of being constantly at odds with natural systems principles. Thus its tendency is to deliver on the always withheld promise of industrialism--to improve quality of life.

We must give up the idea that the world will come to an end--or at the very least our lives will lose all meaning--if our efforts toward the first goal should impact the profits of the industries who are at the root of the crises. The beneficiaries of this paradigm is such an infinitesimally small percentage of the population they can safely be ignored. Yes, they own all the big scary weapons, but they have neither the knowledge nor the skill to push the buttons--we do.

Just about the last thing we should do is focus inordinate amounts of time or energy in putting people back to work (in America or anywhere else on the globe) stamping out plastic parts for stuff that will be in a landfill in six months, shuffling papers for an insurance company, or working in a call center.

Let's start by taking a hard look at who we are, or think we are, as a technologically advanced civilization made up of people who exhibit the qualities we tend to refer to as intelligence and rationality. This begins by realizing and deeply admitting that our planet is our life support system and that due to the interconnected nature of reality, what we do to the Earth in the form of pollution, toxins, and resource depletion we do to ourselves which ultimately degrades any possibility of reaching our potential either as individuals or as a society. This vastly overrides any supposed benefits derived from the industrial system and its methodologies as it stands today. Industrialism and economic cannibalism... err, I mean growth, is making things worse, not better.

An interesting and highly relevant factoid is that it only requires one-third of the global population to produce everything the entire global population consumes. This means we should all be working two-thirds less with full global employment. We also make a whole lot of stuff we don't need, and the rest is either so poorly constructed it has to be replaced frequently or it's been built to not be repairable. Properly addressing this and decentralizing the grid would lower our energy requirements to what's available with off-the-shelf renewables. No clean coal. No nukes. No tithing... um, I mean carbon offsets and similar nonsense.

This also supports the conclusion that the last thing we should be worrying about is putting people back to work, but should instead concentrate on ensuring their needs are met and they have the time to do what really matters. You know, more quality leisure time instead of spending one billion working hours per year to buy more leisure wear.

This would all also go a long way in lowering birth rates and help bring global population down to a sustainable level over the next few generations, especially if we coupled it all with education on family planning, and provided pre-natal care and disease prevention as an intimate aspect of foreign aid. Then we could start providing people with a means of right livelihood that would include work on helping the Earth regenerate and replenish all the ecosystems we've been busy destroying and consuming in our ignorance and greed.

The alternative I mentioned above is known as relocalization. This is a process to create a sustainable future based on ecological wisdom, economic equity, social justice, and participatory democracy. One framework starting to seep into the social consciousness for implementing this process are the Transition Initiatives being undertaken in cities and regions around the globe.

The underlying paradigm which gives this movement such a high chance of success is its adherence to natural systems principles from which emerges the prime activity of living organisms--the tendency to self-organize into mutually supportive relationships. This process has been occurring quite successfully for billions of years. A question we must ask ourselves as a society is why have we created, and continue to allow to exist, an entire industry (marketing/advertising/PR, i.e. industrial propaganda) whose goal is to fight against it--when not busy denying it even exists or that basic ecological laws such as carrying capacity must be taken into account?

There are numerous studies in the social, psychological, and biological sciences that support the idea that we could raise awareness and change course rather quickly should we choose to. As Charles Darwin pointed out, survival goes not the the strongest or fastest, but to the ones most adaptable to change.

The Cultural Creatives study by Paul Ray and Sherry Anderson shows we could count on the support of over one quarter of the populations of Europe and North America. The democracy and justice movement in the Global South indicates an even higher level of support there. It is congruent with quantum physics. The math is supplied by chaos and complexity theory. Ancient wisdom traditions that understood the Earth, in one way or another, is a partner in our lives and evolution provide other necessary aspects of support for our psychological and spiritual health and well-being.

Applied ecopsychology/Natural Attraction Ecology provide a scientifically validated process to intellectually and sensuously reconnect, and experience first hand our nurturing bonds to the natural world, each other, and our communities. Other philosophically aligned hands on models and design tools that are currently being implemented include bioregionalism, permaculture, local currencies, integrative holistic health care, and voluntary simplicity.

There is absolutely no need, except to protect other's profits, to waste our time on compromise or incrementalism. The window of opportunity we have left to us negates either of those questionable strategies anyway.

So, why don't we all start advocating and supporting change we actually can believe in?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Awareness of Reality Seen as Doomsaying

A rational people would look at the title of this short essay and think it's a sci-fi piece describing an alternate bizarro universe.

A rational people would examine the facts--the assembled evidence and the veracity of the people presenting it--and use that as a basis for both determining appropriate action and the timeframe necessary to implement said action.

Because time is running out and things are getting worse. It should be obvious the manner in which we're going about our attempts to institute change isn't working, so we should re-evaluate proposed action plans.

Instead, we have somehow fooled ourselves into thinking that we will cause irreparable damage to tender, fragile psyches by pointing out that someone's actions will either not deliver the intended results, or will actually cause more harm. We have what resembles the attitude of too many modern parents, "Oh, isn't that cute, he's trying so hard" as the toddler destroys instead of saying "No" and taking the hammer away.

It appears that what may be happening is that the possible loss of a few modern "conveniences" as we run up against peak oil, peak soil, peak water, peak money and peak life is being equated with doom and gloom, as we glibly ignore the actual negative consequences of these conveniences. Or we spend inordinate amounts of time and energy attempting to find loopholes to continue the status quo instead of figuring out other ways to meet our needs or even seriously analyze whether those are real or manufactured needs in the first place. We want the economy to return to normal, when "normal" is what has caused the myriad global crises we face. We rationalize and excuse inaction, inappropriate action or compromise as we steadfastly ignore the improvements to quality of life from proposed alternatives that systemically challenge the fundamentals of the status quo such as reconnecting with nature and relocalizing our lifestyles, organizations, and communities. What this all mainly demonstrates to me is a lack of imagination. The main "convenience" we seem to be protecting is not having to think too hard about any of this.

It's like the oil company executives who say we won't actually hit peak oil until we run out of technology. Forget about climate and/or exploitation of people and nature and/or the known laws of physics and/or true human nature when freed from the shackles of dominator hierarchies.

The liberal, NewAge mindset that every view is equally valid is actually a sign of moral decay. It is a sign of a society that has lost its way; that has abandoned its soul because it has disconnected it from its sustaining and nurturing source. Spending a weekend at a grief workshop while pretending to be a nature spirit isn't going to overcome this. In fact, the likelihood of doing so seems to be inversely proportional to the number of books published on the subject.

Now, I fully understand that people who are working hard, for noble purposes, on "change" don't want to hear that cash-for-clunkers, ACES, and the public option for disease care are just reshuffling deck chairs; that sustainability initiatives that enable continued growth on an overdeveloped planet are anything but sustainable; that the natural world imposes real limits on both population and resource extraction that we ignore to our--and all other forms of life--peril.

But, there it is. And until you figure out a way to connect with a parallel universe, you're going to have to deal with it in a manner that is more effective than telling people to shut up when they point out the Emperor (regardless of ethnic background or which wing of the Corporate War Party he or she represents) has no clothes.

Until someone can explain to me the advantages of compromising with evil (that which doesn't support life) I will continue to hold moral actors accountable for their actions based on the way that natural systems principles contribute to healthy, vibrant and resilient--that is, sustainable--ecosystems. Which we are perfectly capable of duplicating. Right now.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Transition Industries Announcement

Hello All... you may have noticed I've been rather quiet on the blog and with other postings recently. The main reason for this is that it was time to put our talk into action.

The concepts of relocalization and steady-state local living economies can be rather abstract, especially without functional examples to draw from. So, Natural Systems Solutions, in conjunction with Transition Pima, has created Transition Industries.

The main purpose of Transition Industries is to serve as an example and demonstration model of ways to create small-scale light manufacturing and other "industrial" type endeavors at the neighborhood level that don't get caught in the trap of continuing support for either Industrialism or growth for the sake of growth. This can become a first step for communities to strengthen local economies, build healthy relationships, provide means of right livelihood, build skills and rekindle pride in craftsmanship, and create some of the necessary resiliency for rapidly changing times. The secondary purpose of Transition Industries is to provide a small revenue stream to support the non-profit Attraction Retreat and its major projects such as Natural Systems Solutions.

The idea is to create items that meet people's needs, adhere to the definition of sustainability, make use of used and/or recycled materials, and either use less energy or contribute to a higher quality of life that doesn't require manufactured energy. It's time to learn new skills (and relearn some that are quickly disappearing) for a new economy -- and door-greeter at a big-box, hamburger flipper for the harried, insurance sales, banker, and Pentagon planner aren't among them.

Our first product is a line of bicycle trailers, and we'll also be building low cost but efficient solar ovens. We'll also provide support for others desiring to explicitly address the need for right livelihood in an energy constrained, increasingly toxic, and warming world. And as you can see, you don't need a big fancy garage or workshop to get started on producing quality items.

Check it out and let me know what you think.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Rant on ACES

Most of you have probably seen the video Al Gore is sending around, urging you to urge your congresscritters to pass the American Clean Energy and Security Act. Perhaps you've received a similar appeal from any number of mainstream environmental (a notable exception being the Center for Biological Diversity) or Democratic party affiliated "grassroots" organizations peddling the same basic message.

While watching the clip and reading the pleas, the following came to mind.

Passing this bill will demonstrate leadership? What planet is Gore talking about? The do-nothing compromise ACES bill is a sham and should simply be rejected out of hand. Proposed "strengthening" amendments define putting lipstick on a pig.

Its long-term target of reducing emissions 83% below 2005 levels by 2050 has been known for five years to be inadequate. The reductions demanded by science are 90% below 1990 levels by 2030... and Gore knows it.

Further, if these reductions aren't coupled with demand destruction of one type or another in other resources (fisheries, forests, water, minerals, soil, etc), as well s with serious, coordinated environmental remediation and restoration efforts, all we'll be doing is buying enough time to let our kids deal with it.


One way or the other, alternative energy sources aren't going to power a "green" return to economic growth. Get over it. They will, however, allow us to transition to a sustainable future.

The prevailing mindset that the ACES bill is better than nothing simply must cease. The standard progressive copout "don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good" should come with a mandatory prison sentence for anyone so enamored with the status quo to have the audacity to utter it in public.

Does anyone really believe we still have the luxury of doing the absolute minimum necessary to perhaps put off the worst of the climate chaos predictions when those are beginning to come to pass decades before they were supposed to from the greenhouse gases we passed out of our tailpipes (cultural as well as automotive) thirty years ago? The major change since then is that things are worse.

Urge your congresscritters to pass stem cell research immediately so they can grow a spine. I suppose a brain would be nice too.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Distractions from Reality

A question posed by David Roberts of Grist in his article "Will health care eclipse climate in Congress this year?" was whether a climate bill has a chance of passing while the left's attention has been diverted to health care. This question has, I think, a rather direct answer.

Of course a realistic carbon reduction bill won't get passed with the focus shifted. The majority of the left isn't even willing to admit the "health care" plan being offered by Obusha doesn't actually change anything from the dysfunctional system we currently have. All it does is provide a few more victims for it at taxpayer expense. The profiteers continue to get their cut.

The Kleptocracy...Monetocracy...whatever term you prefer for the dominator elite who will do everything they can to protect the class hierarchy and their position at the top of it...have thrown the left YetAnotherDistraction which the left, as always, went for because the left is just as afraid of the necessary change as those who continue to profit from not changing.

The controlling mythology is that capitalism, profit, and economic growth in general must be protected at all costs. And we're about to find out what "at all costs" really entails.

Pentagon planners, Wall Street financiers, etc. know exactly where our current rate of collapse from catastrophic climate destabilization, resource depletion, and overall biospheric toxicity from Industrialism is taking us. But they think there's still more profit that can be squeezed out of the system, and refuse to let themselves admit that once collapse occurs all their money won't mean a thing. The sad truth, the one that is too awful to face, is it's the only game plan they have. As has been pointed out by many others, there is no Plan B.

And they've developed such mastery at offering distractions. Health care is such an emotional issue. Our Mad Max future if we don't change direction is still more ephemeral than asthma, cancer and all the other negative by-products of industrialism. We can't see ecosystems collapsing, but we can see hospital emergency rooms filling up. And of course corporate media ensures we all remain as confused as possible. Torture memos. FBI... err, I mean terrorist... plots to blow up America. Which silicon enhanced starlet is carrying who's baby. Etc ad nauseum.

So, I guess the bottom line is we (the Left) really are as stupid as the elites assume us to be. We have fooled ourselves into thinking that the health care issue will be the foot in the door (the red pill) we've been looking for to wake people up to what they really should be concerned about.

Neither energy nor greenhouse gases will be addressed realistically as long as the left continues to allow themselves to be so blatantly manipulated. The so-called partisanship in Congress is just another convenient distraction that helps us not have to face reality. We have Republican obstructionism to blame inaction on.

If, on the other hand, we were to adopt sustainability as our overarching goal, we could simultaneously address health, the environment, and turn democracy around from the fantasy role it currently occupies.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

An open letter to liberal/left issue advocates

While the following was written in response to an e-mail from TrueMajority titled "Our plan for 2009" it is not just directed to TrueMajority; I'm not intending to pick on them (they're actually my personal favorite out of the bunch), because the following is also addressed to MoveOn, Codepink, Democracy for America, Progressive Democrats of America, and the dozens of others who believe that a little "progressive" reform around the edges, taken in slow and easy incremental steps, with heaping helpings of compromise with a system that is anathema to life itself constantly added to the mix, will be sufficient to stave off the collapse and chaos we're heading toward--which is being brought on by clinging to and legitimizing this mindset. Thus, this critique also fully applies to the mainstream environmental groups such as Sierra Club, WWF, NRDC, etc.

Sorry to be so blunt, but until the whole lot of you find the backbone to be honest about the blatant destruction caused by your corporate benefactors, and help dispel the myth that economic growth is necessary for prosperity and progress, your progressive and environmental ideals will remain unfulfilled.

On 29 Dec 2008 at 9:48, Matt Holland, TrueMajority wrote:

> Dear Dave,
> What a whirlwind year. In the past twelve months we celebrated
> the election of a new progressive President and witnessed an
> economic collapse brought about by a failed right wing ideology.

Dear Matt,

It would be a whole lot easier for me to support TrueMajority (or any of the other liberal/left issue advocate organizations--please don't feel like I'm singling you out) if it felt like any of you either understood the issues or were willing to support a realistic and viable alternative to their root cause.

Let's take the latest TrueMajority e-mail that triggered my response as a case study. First, Obama is not progressive. He is solidly middle of the road. He wouldn't have been vetted by the DLC for his presidential bid were he otherwise. Second, the economic collapse is the only logical outcome of the Ponzi scheme known as free-market capitalism; right-wing ideology merely hurried the collapse along by exposing its faults to the light of day in a manner that is hard to either ignore or deny. But blaming our current economic situation on the right or thinking that we can "green" economic growth merely shows that stupidity knows no political allegiance.

You almost always take the proper "progressive" stand on issues, but without ever acknowledging that each of these issues is a symptom of a failed cultural paradigm. It is a paradigm of domination; of hierarchies of control that function through power over an other that's assumed inferior. New issues will continue to emerge from this paradigm as long as the inherently faulty analysis of liberalism is being applied. While the left may be more compassionate than the right (speaking only of the political ideology, not the real people who get swept up in it), the fact that compassion continues to be necessary on such a wide-spread scale is proof that a fundamental problem remains--unexamined and thus unresolved.

There is at least one recognized but as yet not well known path to a sustainable future that is based on ecological wisdom, social justice, economic equity, and participatory democracy. As a further incentive in requesting your support to help publicize the alternative I advocate, a sustainable future based on these values will create a culture of peace, something both the political right and left insist they desire.

One core aspect of the process to blaze this path is known as relocalization. It includes the decentralization of vibrant and resilient local steady-state economies that exist in harmony with their bioregional ecosystems. Relocalized communities don't require growth in consumption or energy use to be considered healthy, i.e. they are powered down and prepared for the energy descent the world will be experiencing as the reality of Peak Oil settles in.

The other core aspect of creating a truly sustainable culture is overcoming our separation from the natural world--which includes each other. This entails reconnecting the human spirit and all the rest of our dozens of natural senses to their roots in both the creation and to the creative tendency of life itself to build and nurture relationships of mutual support that are conducive to life in its ever increasing diversity.

While this systemic alternative won't, indeed can't, support infinite economic growth or consolidation of power, it will create the foundation for the quality of life people all over the world say they want. Evidence for this claim can be found in the global acceptance of the values espoused by the Earth Charter. This systemic alternative is also the only rational response to catastrophic climate destabilization and the poisoning of the biosphere by industrialism that I'm aware of. If any of you should know of another, please quit keeping it a secret.

The alternative of reconnecting and relocalizing can create more opportunities to reach the potential the natural bounty a life-affirming planet assures any species that stays within its ecosystem's carrying capacity. This includes the opportunity we have to participate in the creation of sustainable lifestyles, organizations, and communities based on the natural systems principles from which sustainable ecosystems emerge. It presents a new way of being that is resonate with the natural creatures we actually are, instead of putting us in constant reaction mode to the toxic symptoms the status quo keeps handing us.

Doesn't it make more sense for a national organization such as TrueMajority to live up to its name and champion a different way of being that supports and provides for the majority?