Posts Tagged ‘stop the Koch brothers’

“THERE WILL BE A RECKONING”

February 25, 2015

‘There Will Be A Reckoning’
by Jon Queally, Common Dreams, February 25, 2015
Environmental visionary Lester Brown delivers stark warning over dust bowl conditions spreading over Africa and Asia.
dust_storm
A satellite captured a 2001 dust storm swirling over China. The storm eventually crossed the Pacific and reached the United States. (Photo: NASA)

On the verge of retirement, noted environmentalist and celebrated systems analyst Lester Brown has a dire warning for the world he has spent more than half a century advising on issues of food and energy policy: there is no end in sight for the interrelated scourge of climate change, global poverty and hunger.

In fact, according to Brown, in several vulnerable areas around the world, the situation may be about to go from very bad to much worse.

“We are pushing against the limits of land that can be plowed and the land available for grazing and there are two areas of the world in which we are in serious trouble now,” said Brown, who founded both the Worldwatch Institute and the Earth Policy Institute, in an interview with the Guardian’s environment correspondent Suzanne Goldenberg.

“One is the Sahel region of Africa, from Senegal to Somalia,” explained Brown. “There is a huge dust bowl forming now that is actually stretching right across the continent and that dust bowl is removing a lot of top soil, so eventually they will be in serious trouble.”

At some point soon, he added, “there will be a reckoning” in those regions.

According to this NPR report from November, based on the work of the Earth Policy Institute, the dust bowl conditions forming in northern Africa and across central Asia are already having dire consequences:

In China, dust storms have become almost an annual occurrence since 1990, compared to every 31 years on average historically. In northern China and Mongolia, two large deserts — the Badain Jaran and the Tengger — are expanding and merging, often swirling together in massive sand storms when strong winds blow through each spring. The Gobi desert is also growing, inching ever-closer to Beijing as the grasslands at its edges deteriorate.

Meanwhile, in the Sahel region of Africa, millions of acres are turning to desert each year in countries including Burkina Faso, Chad, Niger and Nigeria. Dust from Chad’s Bodele Depression been traveling the globe for many centuries — in fact, scientists think it helped make the Amazon fertile. But the amount of dust blowing out of West Africa has increased in the last 40 years. Dust clouds from the Sahara can affect air quality as far away as Houston, and may even harm Caribbean coral reefs.

According to Brown, as the situation worsens in these areas, the impacts will likely be much worse than they were in the United States during the 1930s. “Our dust bowl was serious,” Brown explained to Goldenberg, “but it was confined and within a matter of years we had it under control … these two areas don’t have that capacity.”

The warning over soil erosion and the unsustainable farming practices that currently dominate large swaths of the planet have been on the mind of ecologists and agricultural experts for decades. As the threat of global warming has entered the public debate, the stakes have only intensified. Brown was among the first and most thorough minds to set attention on the threat of planetary climate change, devoting an entire series of books—collectively titled Plan B—which assess and put forth solutions to the approaching crisis. The most recent edition is Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization.

However, in a statement last month, Brown announced that he would officially retire later this year and wind down the Earth Policy Institute following the publication of his next book, The Great Transition: Shifting from Fossil Fuels to Solar and Wind Energy.

“After careful consideration of my life at 80 years,” announced Brown in the statment, “and with profound appreciation to my staff, collaborators and supporters, I have decided to step down as president of the Earth Policy Institute and end its work as of July 1, 2015.”

Brown continued, “I believe the Earth Policy Institute has accomplished what we set out to do when we began in 2001, and now it is time for me to make a shift and no longer carry the responsibility of managing an organization. I plan to continue to research and write on issues that I believe I can add to in some meaningful way.”

Speaking with Goldenberg, Danielle Nierenberg, who joined Worldwatch in 2001 and went on to co-found her own institute, Food Tank, said the world owes much to Brown for his decades of work and unique vision.

“He’s the godfather of merging environmental and food issues,” said Nierenberg. “If you are talking about food and the environment, everybody looks to Lester Brown.”

As the world continues to grapple with the catastrophes spurred by our own human development, Brown wrote this in the introduction to Plan B 4.0: “The question we face is not what we need to do, because that seems rather clear to those who are analyzing the global situation. The challenge is how to do it in the time available. Unfortunately, we don’t know how much times remains. Nature is the timekeeper but we cannot see the clock.

He continued, “The thinking that got us into this mess it not likely to get us out. We need a new mindset.”

The last question society should ask, he concluded, is whether or not what needs to be done is considered possible.

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THOMAS PAINE: “The World is My Country.”

January 11, 2015
Thomas Paine - Author-Patriot, 1737-1809.

“The world is my country. To do good is my religion.”

THOMAS PAINE, author-patriot, 1737-1809
On January 29th people around the world working for reform and free thought will celebrate Thomas Paine’s birthday. This under-sung founding father well represents all those who forged the American nation and brought modern popular democracy into the world. He deserves to be nationally honored post-911 as a great American who fought for freedom, equality, direct democracy, and human rights.

Paine may be the only true revolutionary in our Revolution. His ideals bring common people together as a community. No one is above the law. Justice and fairness shall prevail. Everyone gets to vote. He argued for social security, childcare reform, universal health care, animal cruelty penalties and animal shelters over 230 years ago.

He warned us to watch, guide, and stop the powerful elite if we want humanity in general to succeed. He proposed that any bill that enriches a corporation or grants a corporate charter should be enacted in one session of the legislature, and confirmed in a second, after a vote of the people, to stop corporate raids on the public treasury.

The Revolution might have failed without Tom, or perhaps not even started. He wrote America’s first bestseller Common Sense, taking backroom revolutionary discussion public, which led directly to the signing of the Declaration of Independence six months later. He spent two years in the Colonial Army with Washington, including the brutal winter at Valley Forge where he wrote The Crisis – among the most famous words in the American revolutionary liturgy – to talk the starving, freezing army out of deserting the cause. General Washington personally read them to his men.

“These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of all men and women.”

Paine’s words helped save the army and the infant nation. Sent to France by Congress at his own expense to find aid to save America from bankruptcy, he not only got the aid, but bankrupted himself by buying a desperately needed ship and cargo of muskets, powder and shot (since congress wouldn’t pay for them), saving the army and the nascent nation a second time, literally by himself.

After our Revolution, Paine was made an honorary citizen of France so that he could be elected to the French National Convention to help form their new republic. He wrote much of the first French constitution and his masterwork The Rights of Man, both of which still inform the world. He was certain that democracy was spreading and would soon free all of humanity from tyranny. He was jailed, instead, as too moderate (!) and his health was wrecked.

He asked his old friend Washington for help to get home, but George ignored him to protect treaty negotiations with England for access to the rich West Indies rum, molasses and slave trade. Tom wrote a bitter letter: Washington was a monarch – who ignored honor to friends and allies who helped set America free; and aided the filthy barbarians who had enslaved her instead – solely for the sake of ungodly profit.

Washington’s political party the Federalists was outraged. Tom languished in prison for Washington’s eight-year presidency; and four more, because John Adams carried an old grudge for Paine calling him a would-be king (which he was). Paine’s liberal friend Thomas Jefferson finally welcomed Tom home after fifteen years, but trouble was waiting.

While in exile, Paine wrote The Age of Reason to “avoid politics and controversy,” and rejected religion in it. We can just stare at a tree, he says, and believe in God. Who needs revealed religion? Religionists branded him an atheist, Federalists recalled his insult to their great hero general president, and both went “a-howl in the newspapers over the drunken, atheist, radical Jefferson has let back into the country.”

Tom couldn’t get a job or a pension. All he wanted was repayment for money he gave to the Cause – dollar for dollar – without other reward, but he was only given a small farm in New Rochelle, New York by the state legislature as compensation. He retreated to it in poverty to write letters to the editor and to Jefferson, and articles on controversial topics. When Louisiana petitioned for statehood with a right to keep slaves, he wrote that admitting slaves to a free and equal society was unthinkable. Pennsylvanians must be sent to teach Louisiana about democracy; and don’t call it “Louisiana,” for it honors a king, insulting the republic just won by the people’s blood.

He tried to vote for his friend Jefferson in 1804, but the New Rochelle election board wouldn’t allow it: he was a “French citizen” because of the honorary citizenship permitting him to serve in the Convention. He spent his last days in the courts trying to redress this ultimate indignity, but it was not the final disrespect.

He was refused burial in Quaker ground despite his request, because the Quakers feared someone might immodestly raise a monument to him. He was buried on a remote corner of his New Rochelle farm, and a visiting Englishman later secretly dug up Tom’s bones, took them to England, stashed them under his bed, and forgot about them. Upon rediscovery years later, they were sold and parted out all over England as souvenirs, and the whereabouts of Tom Paine’s bones is today unknown. It begs the question: How frightened of a man must one be to want to hide his very bones?

After Tom began to grow in popularity and accreditation during the threatened nationally self-conscious democracy of the 1930’s and ‘40’s, New Rochelle belatedly admitted his full American citizenship in 1945. In truth, he’s a citizen of the world. Tom Paine’s fierce principled call for human rights and, yes, loving hearts, still echoes and is still needed, for as much now as then, “These are the times that try men’s [and women’s] souls.”

Citizen Paine was the essence of our great democratic republican experiment: we are rebels as well as patriots. On January 29th, or July 4th, when-, or wherever freedom loving people are gathered, lift your cup and toast a great American, friend to all the world, and champion of nature and humanity. Sing out: “Hurrah!” for Tom Paine.                             – © J. Legry ‘08

Liberty crowning defiant American democracy.

Liberty crowning defiant American democracy.

SIGN THE PETITION BELOW TO HELP UNDO THE DEMOCRATICALLY DISASTROUS Citizens United DECISION:

The Republicans are bought into the craziness at a very deep level. They will not get better. They will explode or fizzle out, but they will not get “well.” These sick puppies prefer revolution and the overthrow of the United States government to honest political dialog and debate. We really need to put these crazies into the booby hatch. At very least, we must stop giving them political credibility.

We Move to Amend. We, the People of the United States of America, reject the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United, and move to amend our Constitution to:

Firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights.
Guarantee the right to vote and to participate, and to have our votes and participation count.
Protect local communities, their economies, and democracies against illegitimate “preemption” actions by global, national, and state governments.

Signed by 379,547 and counting . . .to 500,000

CONTACT: http://www.movetoamend.org/ 

PETITION LINK: http://movetoamend.nationbuilder.com/petition

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LAST CALL

November 9, 2011
Published on Wednesday, November 9, 2011 by Environment News Service

Irreversible Climate Change Looms Within Five Years

LONDON – Unless there is a “bold change of policy direction,” the world will lock itself into an insecure, inefficient and high-carbon energy system, the International Energy Agency warned at the launch of its 2011 World Energy Outlook today in London.

Coal-fired power generating station in Shanxi, China. (Photo courtesy Skoda Export) The report says there is still time to act, but despite steps in the right direction the door of opportunity is closing.

The agency’s warning comes at a critical time in international climate change negotiations, as governments prepare for the annual UN climate summit in Durban, South Africa, from November 28.

“If we do not have an international agreement whose effect is put in place by 2017, then the door will be closed forever,” IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol warned today. (more…)