Posts Tagged ‘population’

SNEAKY PEOPLE

May 11, 2011
The Poet Dines Alone
The Poet Dines Alone

Excerpt: SNEAKY PEOPLE, unpublished novella.

Okay, this is a story about me.  It’s my diary, so I can write about anything I want – even things I wouldn’t tell other people (especially other men).  I’m a sneaky person.  I come from a long line of sneaky people – really sneaky people.  We’re part of the anonymous swarm that comes out like rats – day or night – picking off top or bottom of the midden heap (depending upon status in the pack) – seeking sustenance while awaiting the ever-approaching End of the World.

Which is pretty much occurring every day.  The End of the World is both cumulative and individual specific.  On the upper end of the End of the World Scale is Climate Change, which promises wholesale extinction (and, some bitch winters and summers between now and then); and, on the other is the latest starving Somali, homeless person, or helpless geriatric.  Somebody’s pretty much meeting the End of the World every single second.

I was born in San Francisco a bit before the mid-point of the Twentieth Century.  My parents were apprehensive about the spreading World War of that time and, I believe, my arrival was an oasis of joy for them – odd as that seems to me now.  My birth was an opportunity for them to hold the rest of the insane world temporarily at bay, basking in the momentary glow of life’s continuity.  Like all young people, they huddled secretly under the covers with their arms around each other, whispering about futures and possibilities – hopes.

My presence – miniscule and infantile – was accepted as God’s reassurance that all of us – each one: Dad, Mom, and Jr. – would come out all right.  In the end, the enemy would be defeated and the world brought majestically into the bright, painless peace of Forever After and the New Deal (which sounds like a rock group and if someone cops the name, I’ll sue).

However, my parents honestly felt that they were finishing the “undone business of World War I” – there were still German vermin to exterminate and, unexpectedly, the sudden need to fumigate Italy and delouse Japan.

Shortly after I was born, father was sent to the war by our beleaguered government and mother moved in with his mother – grandma – and three maiden aunts who were all destined to have affairs with transient servicemen who “might be killed in a matter of weeks,” and were.  None of my aunts’ fellahs made it back.  One aunt went bonkers, one married a dull-witted postman, and the third wed a fat automobile dealer and got a divorce from the rest of us.

Anyway, we waited at grandma’s for dad to come home.

He arrived late at night three years later.  He was flown into San Francisco International and taxied seventeen miles to his mother’s Oceanside home – to his wife and growing son.  I looked up at him as he stood over my bed.

“Did you fly home?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said with a pleased laugh.  “Do you remember me?”

“I have your picture,” I replied, pointing to his image on my dresser.

He looked at himself in the photograph for a long time, silent and withdrawn.  The day the photo had been taken, he had been a young soldier, vibrant, self-assured, and alive.  His face now was subtly different from the one in the photograph mounted between fifty-caliber machinegun rounds.  In the picture he was young and proud with new sergeant’s stripes on his Eighth Army Air Force uniform.  Standing there looking at himself, he was weary and grim.  A trace of the young man remained – a hint of optimism, which fired his eyes.

“I’ll see you tomorrow,” he said at last, hardly believing that this would and could be so, that the bombs were left far behind, and gratefully forgetful that half the world’s population was still awakening in a world of ruins – picking hungrily through the rubble, hunting rats for nourishment.

I learned that he’d been in photo reconnaissance.  I liked the sound.  The French word “reconnaissance” had a lean mean underground battlefield resonance.  I was a romantic kid.  (That drove Dad nuts – among other things).  I learned, too, one evening when he was drinking, something he did more and more, that he had helped empty a rocket-hit orphanage one night in downtown London, carrying out its dead and dying children and their bloody parts.

He saw and lived with death as a routine for three years.  His photograph war souvenir album had pictures of massive bombers dumping lethal rain on Dresden, Berlin, German gun emplacements in Normandy, French coastal towns, war ships and hospitals, trains, cars, horses, wagons, canals and villages.  Now, home, he attacked normal civilian life as if it was the new enemy.  He had lost time to make up, things to do, family to feed and a top to possibly find.

In his free time, he watched boxing on the new-fangled television, tense with pleasure waiting for the knockouts, heavy K. O. punches, and T. K. O. s swimming in blood.  He watched the gymnastic exhibitions of professional wrestling until he realized that the mayhem wasn’t real.  He watched John Wayne repeatedly and successfully storm Iwo Jima.  He saw Errol Flynn shoot his way single-handedly through the entire Japanese Army in Burma.  He observed as Jeff Chandler really died of pleurisy while filming a mediocre account of Merrill’s Marauders on location in Imperial Indochina.  Pa’s latent violence had to translate into real life.

He punched Ma.  He punched me.  He drank himself finally and completely to death.  In his scarred wake, he left two sons, one daughter, and his frightened, yet indefatigable wife.  He also left behind the lingering echoes of Henry David Thoreau, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.”

Father was a desperate man.

I’ve thought since that he was born in belief, raised in faith, condemned to hell, pardoned to purgatory, and eventually dispatched to…wherever he went.

Mother always said, “The War changed him.”  This is certainly so – I’ve seen other young men come back from Korea and Viet Nam.  They all have Dad’s eyes.  The men who fought at Salamis probably looked that way too.  Bloody fields and death process slowly.

Because of all this, justifications of violence appall me.  Its price is too high.  Brought home in the eyes of our young men, violence compounds as it seeks its vent.  Within the peacetime marketplace it ripples out on a high, spreading across the schoolyards, streaming into ghetto back alleys, finding its way into the boardroom.  Man against man, clan against clan.  So it goes, as Vonnegut says, and I?  I go on, watching to left and right, mindful of the dangers on the street, wary in my sleep – as restless as I was at the mouth of my cave one million years ago.

The history of mankind is a dry narration of famous battles, famous generals and famous kings, interspersed with profiles of failed political, social, economic and religious systems, which all rose and fell on the profit line.  The chronicle of anything else is incidental, a coffee table book.  Art, music, literature, dance, theater, magic are a sideshow to the main show.  Those things are the province of dreamers, romantics and fools.  For, if anyone is able to live a placid life, outside the maniacal slashing and hacking of whole peoples intent on the obliteration of other whole peoples, then one is, indeed, fortunate.

Life is a series of accidents.  Chance, not choice, governs (although, why we are in one spot at a particular time and not in another may be divinely inspired).  However, I doubt there is a Master Plan.  Master plans and master crimes require cumbersome plotting.  One can, or should be able to see their patterns, but impulse fires most of us.  We deal with consequences afterward, which is when they should properly be dealt with, I guess.

I’d like to do something to help my fellow human beings, but I don’t know what.  Everybody’s fighting and clawing, biting and scratching.  I’m hiding.  Scared to death.  Who wants to attract attention?  The threat to life may be worldwide conflagration, or in the mouth of some filthy city alley, with a knife wielding, coked-up assailant standing over one’s punctured corpse.  “Neither a peacekeeper, nor a lender be.” It’s too painful, too expensive, and too dangerous.  Experience is a great teacher; if we survive the lesson, but we’re still not gonna get out of this alive.

I wish I could stop the clock.  Turn back time until I’m just short of the primordial ooze – watch by degrees the slow progression of life.  See just how long it takes to make a human being out of all that gloop.  Think about just how quickly that complex organism can cancel itself out with a single bullet.

The universe is infinite.  I don’t really understand what that means, and it’s expanding, but into what?  It’s cosmic and vast and when you think about it, without the artificial augmentation of religious zealotry, perhaps meaningless.  Even so, this ship was pilotless before we knew that it had no pilot and continues so and nothing changes that.  Either way, I don’t expect the Creator to wash my dirty laundry or lift my heavy load.  It’s clear I gotta hoe my own corn.

I am alive, well, and living past the immoral end of the Twentieth Century and on the ignorant cusp of the early Twenty-first – unhappily still under threat of the nuclear-bomb, dismayed by Russians and Chinese, the System and the decay of the World, as ever.  “Is it just for the moment we live?”  You betcha.  What’s it all about, Alfie?  The End of the World is only a heartbeat away.  Whether one is one of a half million blown away at Hiroshima, drowning alone in the pool of a cliffside villa in Monterey, or choking in the arms of a lover on a sunny Egyptian Sunday.

Well, Diary, that’s my Summer Vacation.  I’m going home now.  Wonder what I’ll find?  It’s still the End of the World and Sissy Wagner doesn’t love me anymore.  Who’s going to do my laundry?

— JL:PDX, 8-09

Little Brown Bat with White-nose disease.

IMPORTANT LINK: Bats are present throughout most of the world and perform vital ecological roles such as pollinating flowers and dispersing fruit seeds. Many tropical plant species depend entirely on bats for the distribution of their seeds.

Bats are on a clear trajectory toward oblivion.  The Center for Biological Diversity has warned that the bat crisis is dire while calling for more funding to try to determine what, exactly, is killing America’s bats — and how the disease can be stopped.

http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/campaigns/bat_crisis_the_white-nose_syndrome/index.html

Little Brown Bat with White-nose disease.

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POLLUTER BORN EVERY MINUTE

September 14, 2009

Coming to America -Triptych

[See also POLLUTER BORN EVERY MINUTE reprise for full post]

TOO DAMNED MANY PEOPLE

WAYS TO REDUCE CARBON FOOTPRINTS:

ACTION: (Measure: Lifetime carbon dioxide saved in Metric Tons. Data from U. S. Environmental Protection Agency’s personal emissions calculator and calculations by OSU statistics professor Paul Murtaugh.  Annual totals based on lifespan of 80 – female expectancy U.S.  Source: Paul Murtaugh).

Recycle newspaper, magazines, glass, plastic, and aluminum cans – 17 tons

Replace old refrigerator with energy-efficient model – 19 tons

Replace 10 incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient ones – 36 tons

Replace single-glazed windows with energy-efficient windows – 21 tons

Reduce miles driven from 231 to 155 per week – 147 tons

Increase car’s fuel economy from 20 miles per gallon to 30 – 148 tons

REDUCE NUMBER OF CHILDREN BY ONE  – 9,441 tons

Under current conditions, each child in the U.S. adds about 9,4441 metric tons of carbon dioxide to the parents’ carbon legacy during his lifetime.  That’s 5.7 times more than the average childless person.

A child born in China has a fifth of the impact of a child born in the U.S.

The carbon legacy and greenhouse gas impact of having a child is almost 20 times more important than other ecologically minded lifestyle choices like driving a fuel-efficient car, recycling or being energy-efficient.

The same conclusions also roughly apply to fresh water consumption. Fresh water has been and will continue to be cause for international conflict. The amount of fresh water on planet earth is finite and we’re running out.

Many children are born to people who are not ready or willing to raise them.

Many parents are less ecologically responsible out of convenience, e.g. using disposable instead of cloth diapers; buying an SUV instead of a compact (“The family is so much safer.”  Not in the long run, Mom; bad choice for the grand children too, if any).

Abstracted: “Not So Carbon Friendly” Jennifer Anderson, Portland Tribune.  Sound Off – Comment: www.portlandtribune.com

TIME IS SHORT

According to the best science, we’ve got ten years left to take this issue on seriously and save our butts.  It may well be less, no one can accurately predict the rate of decay.  It will take most of us to accomplish any earthly salvation, but if we don’t confront and dispose of our garbage, which includes, but is not limited to: religion; overpopulation; short-term economic self-interest; and our ostrich-like tendency to duck and cover in order to avoid seeing our approaching doom, we’re screwed.

We must stop over consumption, kick capitalism into a servant’s status in our democratic life, and curb the excesses of individual and tribal (read also national) self-interest.  Impossible, you say?  That’s my point: good luck and the spin of prayer is about all we seem willing to invest in our own survival.

Homo sapiens, Man the “wise,” we called ourselves; Homo sapiens sapiens, man the “doubly wise” some scientists call us now.  Yeah, right.  First step: pick up the shovel and find a place to pitch in; there’s a lot of work to do quickly, and it must be done well.  No me-first crap, one for all and all for one.  Meet you in the trenches.

A GOOD Place to Start: Center for Biological Diversity

Slaughtered Dolphins - Japan

Japanese fishermen riding a boat loaded with slaughtered dolphins at a blood-covered water cove in Taiji harbor, Japan’s Wakayama prefecture. US environmentalist Ric O’Barry has filmed dolphin hunting at the town of Taiji as an eco-documentary called “The Cove” which has started screening in the US.(AFP/HO/File)

Published on Friday, September 11, 2009 by Agence France Presse

Japanese Town Starts Dolphin Hunt Under global Spotlight by Kyoko Hasegawa.

TAIJI, Japan – To animal rights activists it’s a cruel and bloody slaughter; for Japanese it’s a long tradition: this week fishermen in a picturesque coastal town embarked on their annual dolphin hunt.  Every year, crews in motorboats here have rounded up about 2,000 of the sea mammals, banged metal poles to herd them into a small, rocky cove and killed them with harpoons, sparing a few dozen for sale to marine aquariums.

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/09/11-4

AMERICAN DUMMIES

September 5, 2009

doodoocaacaapoopoo

 RECENT NEWS FROM THE FRONT:

Published on Thursday, September 3, 2009 by the Associated PressWe Are Heading Towards an Abyss’ U.N. chief tells 150 governments that time running out on climate change.  GENEVA – U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon told a meeting of some 150 governments on Thursday that time is running out for a new climate deal to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/09/03

Published on Friday, September 4, 2009 by The Guardian/UK Global Warming Has Made Arctic Summers Hottest for 2,000 Years. The Arctic has warmed as a result of climate change, despite the Earth being farther from the sun during summer months by Ian Sample.  Warming as a result of increased levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has overwhelmed a millennia-long cycle of natural cooling in the Arctic, raising temperatures in the region to their highest for at least 2,000 years, according to a report.

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/09/04-3

Published on Friday, September 4, 2009 by The Guardian/UK Current Economic Growth Model Is ‘Immoral’, Says Prescott. With the world’s population growing to nine million by 2050, Britain’s former deputy PM predicts far more crucial and complex talks in Copenhagen than in Kyoto by Jonathan Watts.  John Prescott, the former UK climate negotiator, called on developed nations today to accept a new model of economic growth that would create a more equitable spread of carbon emissions in the world. Speaking to the Guardian in Beijing, Prescott said talks at Copenhagen would probably not be decided until an 11th-hour crisis, but that no global consensus could be reached without a fairer spread of emissions.

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/09/04-8

Verizon Wireless Faces Ire Over Mountaintop Removal Rally

Currently, Verizon Wireless is cosponsoring a pro-mountaintop-removal, anti-climate, anti-union Labor Day rally — and the Center for Biological Diversity is leading a pressure campaign to compel a quick about-face. Massey Energy’s “Friends of America” rally, to be held atop a former surface mine in West Virginia next Monday, will cheer for the devastating practice of mountaintop-removal coal mining, which blows up mountains and chokes waterways with debris in Appalachian habitat. The rally, organized by coal giant Massey Energy, will guest-star global warming denier Lord Christopher Monckton, and boasts an on-site anti-climate legislation petition to sign. Further, the rally’s Web site homepage shockingly features the company’s CEO on video accusing “environmental extremists” of destroying jobs by opposing mountaintop removal. (Meanwhile, the rally is competing with the nearby 71st annual United Coal Workers of America Labor Day celebration for attendees.)

But thanks to the Center’s immediate leap into action and bold national grassroots campaign, Verizon Wireless may be losing more than a few of its 87 million customers: Thousands of them are asking, Can you hear us now? and pledging to spend their money with their conscience. On August 30, the Center notified Verizon Wireless’ CEO in no uncertain terms that Verizon must withdraw support for the rally and mountaintop removal or we’d have to tell our 225,000 supporters why we left their pro-coal, anti-environmentalist, anti-union company. Now we’ve joined forces with CREDO Action, and in just three days our concerned citizens submitted 69,000 letters and made hundreds of phone calls to Verizon telling it to drop the rally.

Join us in commanding Verizon Wireless to withdraw its sponsorship and read more about our opposition in Advertizing Age. Help submit more than 100,000 letters by Labor Day — join the cause on Facebook, tweet about Verizon, and learn why Grist magazine calls Massey’s CEO “the scariest polluter in America” in this New York Times piece.

CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY.

http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/

Tip o' the hat to ALL HAT NO CATTLE: Watching the Cons in Conservatism.

Tip o' the hat to ALL HAT NO CATTLE: Watching the Cons in Conservatism.

ENVIRONMENT-POPULATION JUMBOPAK

July 6, 2009
Rising Tide.

Rising Tide.

Today’s post is a letter submitted to the Editor of Willamette Week in Portland, Oregon, January 21, 1999 – a time capsule from the last millennium.  It reveals how far we have come in such a short time.  Ya think?

Dear Editor: 

On the eve of the Year 2000 there is no doubt that environmental alarms are well founded.

The front page of the Friday, July 25, 1997 Oregonian announced, “Scientist delivers warning on climate.”  President Clinton launched a “nationwide campaign about the issue, saying the ‘overwhelming balance of evidence and scientific opinion is that it is no longer a theory but now a fact that global warming is real.”  Complete with “rising sea levels and glacial melting.”

Seen from outer space, poor, old Earth has mangeDeserts replace forests and lumber interests tell us they must cut more trees to keep the economy alive and loggers’ jobs; we must “balance” economy and environment; but it’s easy to see who’s got the biscuit.  In truth, the lumber interests eliminated jobs by automating destruction of the forests.  Industry ‘experts’ know that fact is disposable to theory.  They tell us that ‘careful management‘ will replace Old Growth; timber company t.v. ads show vast green stretches of pristine managed forest.  What we should know is what do all of the forests managed by all of the timber companies look like in aggregate?

Taken in cumulated terms, the timber companies are working against posterity around the world.  In fact the Old Growth forests are almost gone in Oregon and California as well as in Brazil.  The last clear-cut rape of all the Old Growth left will not save the logger’s lifestyle, but once the forest is gone, so goes the breathing apparatus for the entire planet.

In 1994, the Smithsonian‘s Wilson Quarterly stated, “Some of the environmental changes may produce irreversible damage to the Earth’s capacity to sustain life.”  The island of Tobago in the Caribbean is being inundated by 3-4 feet per year (ten times faster than ten years ago) and is expected to lose 30-40 feet per year in the next ten.  “Science and technology may not be able to prevent either irreversible degradation of the environment or continued poverty for much of the world.”

Which brings up the appalling fact that many cities are developing public housing in floodplains.  It may be just in time for property developers to cash in before the land goes under.  Will we, the dense public, be invited to bail out subsequently sinking subsidized housing?  Will we eventually build seawalls thirty feet high at public expense to protect uninsurable money pits?

As to population, experts predict twice as many people in the United States by the year 2050.  More babies are being born today than during the so-called “Baby-Boomer” generation and we ain’t seen nuthin’ yet!  The ridiculous taboos around the issue of human population – usually “politically correct” arguments of small practical value – are a direct threat to our own dear, precious, misdirected, unthinking selves.  We’re breeding ourselves out of room.

Our planet has a limit to the life it can sustain.  It must function within a specific and fairly narrow range of environmental limits. In this constraint, the majority of Americans trashes rather than recycles, and eats, drinks and drives too damned much, ignorant of context, and in absolute poverty of conclusion.

No brainer: unchecked growth demands greater and greater amounts of shrinking resources.  The scale of many of our dilemmas – e.g. public health and housing – is attributable to too many people competing for too few resources in too small a space.  It would seem, therefore, that some education and some action on this issue might be in order.  Yet, religious institutions militantly urge membership to procreate, and sponsor armies of child-producing sectarian immigrantsBusiness leadership focuses on lower wages, larger markets and plentiful cheap labor.  Timorous local, state and federal elected leaders bicker over tax-funded population education, and resist tax-funded birth prevention.  We argue over sex education, birth control, and abortion while our overcrowded house burns down.

However, the nation has embarked on the biggest prison-building program in its history, even as the hard crime rate falls.  This may be due to “effective community policing,” but it is also systematic suppression of a youthful surplus male underclass without family wage jobs.  Statistically, economic development largely benefits a relatively small group of players: three-fourths of the people grin and bear eroding livability, falling wages and rising prices in a rat race fueled by non-productive speculation.  We have, created whole new crimes – e.g. “simple” marijuana possession – and longer “minimum” sentences to keep our disaffected unemployed off our city streets.

For many leaders, there is no apparent alternative.  Most business, elected and mainstream media leadership extols an almost mystical faith in “growth,” pursuing mythical future taxes that can never catch up with the infrastructure stresses the growth produces – particularly as corporately manipulated voters cut off tax money via “popular” ballot initiatives.

In 1956, C. Wright Mills wrote in the Power Elite: 

“Two things are needed in a democracy: articulate and knowledgeable publics, and political leaders who, if not men of reason, are at least reasonably responsible to such knowledgeable publics as exist.  Such a public and such leaders – either of power or of knowledge – do not now prevail, and knowledge does not now have democratic relevance in America.”

The rich are generally blind or indifferent to the social consequences of ignoring the welfare of the general citizenry.  In the end, we all pay for their selfish indifference.  If we, the people don’t get smart pretty quickly, we, the people will perish much sooner than expected, and NOT due to any particular plan, but simply because of plain old human selfishness and self-deception.

The time for each one to teach one, each one to reach one, is NOW.

 July 6, 2009:

 Act.  There may be no result in your lifetime, but without action, there will be no result at all.” – Mahatma Gandhi.

 

Light at the End of the Tunnel.
Light at the End of the Tunnel.

INVOLVED AND INFORMED (essential links):

http://www.wunderground.com/

Weather Underground is committed to delivering the most reliable, accurate weather information possible. Our state-of-the-art technology monitors conditions and forecasts for locations across the world, so you’ll always find the weather information that you need.

http://www.newseum.org/todaysfrontpages/

The Newseum displays these daily newspaper front pages in their original, unedited form. Some front pages may contain material that is objectionable to some visitors. Viewer discretion is advised.

http://www.poodwaddle.com/worldclock.swf

World Clock: time, and real-time statistics: population, death, illness, environment, energy, us crimes, food, more.

http://www.nrdc.org/

The Natural Resources Defense Council works to protect wildlife and wild places and to ensure a healthy environment for all life on earth.

http://www.sierraclub.org/

Since 1892, the Sierra Club has been working to protect communities, wild places, and the planet itself. We are the oldest, largest, and most influential grassroots environmental organization in the United States.

http://www.wecansolveit.org/

WE are 2,313, 499 people determined to Solve the Climate Crisis and Repower America with 100% clean electricity within 10 years.”  The We Campaign is a project of The Alliance for Climate Protection — a nonprofit, nonpartisan effort founded by Nobel laureate and former Vice President Al Gore.  The goal of the Alliance is to build a movement that creates the political will to solve the climate crisis — in part through repowering America with 100 percent of its electricity from clean energy sources within 10 years.  Our economy, national security, and climate can’t afford to wait.

http://www.defenders.org/index.php

Founded in 1947, Defenders of Wildlife is one of the country’s leaders in science-based, results-oriented wildlife conservation. We stand out in our commitment to saving imperiled wildlife and championing the Endangered Species Act, the landmark law that protects them.