Price of damming Tibet’s rivers

SOURCE: Katherine Muzik PHD (
SUBHEAD: This will end badly for the nations downstream from Tibet, who compete for scarce water.

By Michael Buckley on 30 March 2015 for the New York Times -

Image above: China has started building its largest hydropower station over the Yarlung river in Tibet to tap the rich water resources in the southwest of the plateau. From (

China has more than 26,000 large dams, more than the rest of the world combined. They feed its insatiable demand for energy and supply water for mining, manufacturing and agriculture.

In 2011, when China was already generating more than a fifth of the total hydropower in the world, the leadership announced that it would aim to double the country’s hydropower capacity within a decade, so as to reduce its heavy dependency on coal-fired power plants. Since the waterways of mainland China are already packed with dams, this new hydropower output could come from only one place: the rivers of Tibet.

Rivers gushing through deep canyons at the edges of the Tibetan plateau hold the highest hydropower potential in the world. The headwaters of seven major rivers are in Tibet: They flow into the world’s largest deltas and spread in an arc across Asia.

Two of the continent’s wildest rivers have their sources in Tibet: the Salween and the Brahmaputra. Though they are under threat from retreating glaciers, a more immediate concern is Chinese engineering plans. A cascade of five large dams is planned for both the Salween, which now flows freely, and the Brahmaputra, where one dam is already operational.

The damming does not benefit those who live in Tibet. The energy generated is transferred to power-hungry industrial cities farther east. Tibetans are forcibly deprived of their land; protests against hydropower projects are prohibited or violently dispersed.

Even more alarming are projects to divert the waters of Tibet’s rivers for use in mines, factories and other industries. At the eastern edge of Tibet, a planned mega-diversion from south to north would move water from the Yangtze to the Yellow, China’s two greatest rivers. Other plans call for diversion of water from the Brahmaputra, Salween and Mekong — all rivers that cross national boundaries.

Including China itself, up to two billion people downstream from Tibet depend on these rivers. Damming and diverting them will have a severe impact on their lives and environment, especially when you consider that rice and wheat require water-intensive cultivation.

Rivers support entire ecosystems. They carry tons of nutrient-rich silt downstream, a cocktail of elements needed for growing plants: nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and calcium. Silt is essential for agriculture and for bolstering the deltas against rising sea levels. Dams block silt, and they block fish migration.

The Yangtze is China’s biggest freshwater fishery, but since the Three Gorges Dam that spans it was completed in 2012, the downstream population of carp has fallen by 90 percent, according to Guo Qiaoyu of the Nature Conservancy in Beijing.

Vietnam, Cambodia and Bangladesh heavily depend on rivers sourced in Tibet. More than 60 percent of Cambodia’s annual fish catch derives from Tonle Sap, a lake that is replenished by the annual flooding of the Mekong. Over the last decade, as new Chinese dams have come online on the Mekong, the fish catch has plummeted. The waters rise and fall at the whim of Chinese engineers.

Then there are the direct human costs of damming and diverting: Whole communities must be relocated from areas flooded by a reservoir. They are often shifted to degraded land, where they live in poverty or have to relocate once again. By some estimates, hydropower projects have forced some 22 million Chinese to migrate since the 1950s.

In Tibet, since the 1990s, at least a million nomads and farmers — a sixth of the population — have been relocated from grasslands to make way for mining ventures and hydropower projects. These “ecological refugees” are shunted into ghettos. Moreover, China claims complete sovereignty over Tibet’s rivers, oblivious to protest from Tibetans and from the people downstream.

The United Nations has done too little, too late. In 2014, the Watercourses Convention came into effect, spelling out guidelines for transboundary water sharing, but it is nonbinding. More to the point, China is not a signatory — and neither are most nations of South Asia.

This will end badly for the nations downstream from Tibet, which are competing for scarce water. Damming and water diversion could also end badly for China, by destroying the sources of the Yangtze and Yellow Rivers.

The solution to these complex problems is simple: Since these enormous projects are state-run and state-financed, China’s leaders can cancel them at will. Though campaigns by Chinese environmentalists have stopped some dam projects, the pro-dam lobby, backed by Chinese consortiums, is powerful. There are alternatives to disrupting the rivers: China has made great investments in solar and wind power, but has not significantly deployed them in Tibet.

China’s leaders need to consider the costs of forging ahead with these projects. The health of these rivers is of vital concern to all of Asia.


Justice Delayed is Justice Denied!

SUBHEAD: the people of Maui County voted that GMOs cause significant irreparable harm to their environment.

By Michael C. Carroll on 30 March 2015 for Shaka Movement -

Image above: Photo of Maui GMO Ban supporter. Check the following link rto Common Dreams article on Monsanto resistance to Maui GMO vote. From (

The Five Citizen's of Maui County, Dr.Lorrin Pang, Mark Sheehan, Lei’ohu Ryder, Bonnie Marsh, Alika Atay, and the SHAKA Movement are gathering to demand that the vote be upheld in spite of the efforts of both the County and Federal Court to negate our vote, thus allowing for harm to continue. They are calling out for the Public Trust Doctrine to be recognized as valid. The demonstration is scheduled for Tuesday March 31, 2015 at 11:30 a.m. in front of the Maui County Building.

The Court had originally scheduled the hearing on all dispositive motions for March 10, 2015. The hearing was continued, and on March 19, 2015, the Federal District Court entered an order extending the preliminary injunction until at least June 2015 without opposition from the County of Maui.

The preliminary injunction allows the Industry to continue the activities that Maui voters had voted to stop given the harmful impacts.

In court filings submitted in opposition to this ruling, SHAKA stated:
“A voting majority of Maui County decided that GMO operations are causing significant irreparable harm to the natural environment, human health, and cultural heritage when the County of Maui adopted this Ordinance. In essence, the Court has before it the testimony of Maui voters that would need to be discredited if this Court were to continue the injunction.”
The Federal District Court also had originally scheduled for March 31, 2015 a hearing on SHAKA’s request to have the case decided in Maui State Court and the County of Maui’s request to dismiss SHAKA’s separate lawsuit to enforce the ordinance. On March 29, 2015, the Court notified the parties that it was electing to decide the motions without a hearing.

SHAKA was disheartened by the news that the hearing will not proceed forward but plan on being heard at the Maui County Building on March 31, 2015 at 11:30 a.m., the day originally scheduled for the hearing. We will be heard. We are not going away.

Michael C. Carroll (legal counsel for SHAKA)
Bays Lung Rose Holma

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Update on Maui GMO Ban 3/15/15


Do you think I'm an idiot?

SUBHEAD: Monsanto advocate says Roundup is safe enough to drink, then refuses to drink it.

By Nick Vasser on 27 March 2015 for Huffington Post -

Image above: Still frame from interview with "RoundUp expert" Dr. Patrick Moore who offers and then refuses to drink a glass of glyphosate (RoundUp). From video below.

Roundup is a highly effective weed-killer that can be used during home garden maintenance, or on a massive soybean field to boost productivity. It's also been called a probable carcinogen. But according to Dr. Patrick Moore, that may not be true because "you can drink a whole quart" of the herbicide "and it won't hurt you."

Moore, an independent scientist not associated with Monsanto, recently joined French cable channel Canal+ as part of an upcoming news documentary. He advocated for the safety of glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup, after a recent report said the widely used chemical "probably" causes cancer.

The label, bestowed by the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer, is the second highest risk level for possible cancer-causing agents. The "probable" category can be a bit contentious and asserts that some scientists disagree with the notion a substance causes cancer -- other agents on the WHO's list include sunshine, alcohol and wood dust.

Monsanto has fiercely tried to discredit the assessment. The company has demanded WHO retract the report, saying a growing body of scientific evidence has found glyphosate is safe when used as labeled.

Moore apparently agrees. He went so far to say that humans could even drink the chemical and be absolutely fine, and that people actually try to commit suicide with Roundup, but routinely fail due to its harmlessness.

In the middle of the interview below a Canal+ journalist offers to go backstage to get his guest a glass of glyphosate to drink on-air, but Moore refuses and then storms off stage.
Patrick Moore: You can drink a whole quart of it and it won't hurt you.
Canal+: You want to drink some, we have some here.
PM: I'd be happy to actually. Not really, but, I know it wouldn't hurt me.
Canal+: If you say so, I have some.
PM: No, no. I'm not stupid.
Canal+: “So, it’s dangerous?”
People try to commit suicide with it and fail regularly.
No, no. Let's tell the truth.
It's not dangerous to humans. No, it's not.
So are you ready to drink a glass of glyphosate?
No, I'm not an idiot.
Canal+: So...
PM: Interview me about golden rice, that’s what I’m talking about.
Canal+: Uh...
PM: Okay, then this interview is finished”
Canal+: This isn't a good way to solve things.”
PM: Yeah. You're a complete jerk. (PM disconnects microphone and leaves.)
Despite some reports that say Moore is a lobbyist, Monsanto told The Huffington Post in an emailed statement that he is not and has never been a paid lobbyist or employee of the company.

"Knowledgeable scientists, consumers and our farmer customers may be familiar with and confident in the safety of glyphosate, but their statements don’t make them lobbyists for our company," a spokesperson said. "Dr. Patrick Moore is one of those individuals.

He agrees with the science that supports the safety of glyphosate, and is an advocate for technology and innovation. But Dr. Patrick Moore is not and never has been a paid lobbyist for Monsanto."

Moore did not immediately respond to HuffPost's request for comment.

Video above: Below are comments from the YouTube page with the video above. From (

Patrick Moore often misrepresents himself in the media as an environmental “expert” or even an “environmentalist,” while offering anti-environmental opinions on a wide range of issues and taking a distinctly anti-environmental stance. He also exploits long-gone ties with Greenpeace to sell himself as a speaker and pro-corporate spokesperson, usually taking positions that Greenpeace opposes.

While it is true that Patrick Moore was a member of Greenpeace in the 1970s, in 1986 he abruptly turned his back on the very issues he once passionately defended. He claims he “saw the light” but what Moore really saw was an opportunity for financial gain. Since then he has gone from defender of the planet to a paid representative of corporate polluters.

Patrick Moore promotes such anti-environmental positions as clearcut logging, nuclear power, farmed salmon, PVC (vinyl) production, genetically engineered crops, and mining. Clients for his consulting services are a veritable Who’s Who of companies that Greenpeace has exposed for environmental misdeeds, including Monsanto, Weyerhaeuser, and BHP Minerals.


Corporations vs. Communities

SUBHEAD: Let Bill Gates, the CIA and Big Ag Corporations run food production in Africa. What could go wrong?

By Morten Thaysen on 27 March 2015 for New Internationalist Blog -

Image above: "Free Seeds". Campaigners protest outside the meeting of the Gates Foundation and USAID. Global Justice Nounder a Creative Commons Licence. From original article.

This week the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and USAID (a CIA front) hosted a meeting in London with big agribusinesses to discuss strategies to increase corporate control over seeds in Africa. The location of the meeting was secret. So was the agenda. Attendance was strictly invite-only and nobody who even came close to representing African small farmers was invited.

Meanwhile, farmers and food sovereignty activists met at the World Social Forum in Tunis to discuss their solutions to the problems of our food system. These two meetings represent not just two different types of meeting – a closed, secretive meeting of the powerful versus an open, democratic meeting of grassroots activists – but also two radically different paths for the future of our food. One is based on corporate control and would generate vast profits for a small elite; the second is centered on sustainable, democratic, local food production.

As often was the case in colonial times, the corporate agenda in Africa is today often disguised as paternalistic benevolence. Friendly sounding projects such as the Alliance for the Green Revolution in Africa, backed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the DfID (Britain’s Department for International Development) supported New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition promise to eliminate hunger by creating the conditions that will bring new corporate technologies and more big business investment to African agriculture.

On the face of it, that all sounds very good. So why this level of secrecy for the meetings about the projects? Samwel Messiak, a Tanzanian food campaigner I met in Tunis, tells a very different story of the corporate agenda for Africa’s food. He told me that in Tanzania the New Alliance has helped corporations ‘buy’ land off local communities without their consent and without paying them compensation.

This is because the corporate agenda of AGRA and the New Alliance threatens to move control of land and seeds into corporate hands. The push for corporate engagement in Africa’s agriculture also has a strong focus on producing cash crops for consumption in richer parts of the world (a practice started in colonial times) which, if anything, provides less food for people living locally. It seems strange that a supposedly charitable organization such as the Gates Foundation is involved in this agenda; it seems they have swallowed the idea that only the market can provide for our needs.

In a very different setting from the corporate meeting in London, an alternative vision for our food is forming. In a packed room at the World Social Forum in Tunis, farmers and food sovereignty campaigners discussed a radically different food system.

Farmers and campaigners from across the world shared examples of how agriculture can provide livelihoods for farmers and food for local communities, and can be a central part of women’s liberation: women are taking a leading part in food production in most places. There is powerful evidence that organic farming practices and local seeds used by small-holder farmers are able to produce more food on less land and with less water than industrial agriculture.

Agribusinesses are putting small-scale farmers under pressure everywhere. But representatives from places like Chile, Senegal, Bangladesh and Italy told the meeting how farmers are showing how local communities can take back control of their food systems to provide healthy and affordable food. It was inspiring to experience how unified farmers and campaigners from different places are in their fight for democratic control of our food. As we chanted at the end of the meeting: ‘The people united will never be defeated.’

In 2015 it shouldn’t be a radical notion to want to move beyond colonialism and make sure farmers can keep control of the resources needed to grow food to feed their communities. So it is more important than ever that we stand with small farmers across the world to defend their right to control their own land and their own seeds and our right to healthy local food.

• Morten Thaysen works in Global Justice Now’s communications team and is an activist with Fuel Poverty Action and Reclaim the Power. He tweets as @viabank Find out more about Global Justice Now’s food sovereignty campaign.

The April 2015 issue of New Internationalist focuses on Monsanto, with "Total Control - is Monsanto Unstoppable?"- the biotech giant that says its mission is to help feed the world – with GM food. How worried should we be?

Image above: "Total control - is Monsanto unstoppable?"Campaigners protest outside the meeting of the Gates Foundation and USAID. Global Justice Nounder a Creative Commons Licence. From original article.


Reclaiming Environmentalism

SUBHEAD: An open letter from Deep Green Resistance to Reclaim Environmentalism.

By Lierre Keith & Derrick Jensen on 16 February 2015 for DGR News 

Image above: Forest regrowth after a forest fire. From the original article.

Once, the environmental movement was about protecting the natural world from the insatiable demands of this extractive culture. Some of the movement still is: around the world grassroots activists and their organizations are fighting desperately to save this or that creature they love, this or that plant or fungi, this or that wild place.

Contrast this to what some activists are calling the conservation-industrial complex–­big green organizations, huge “environmental” foundations, neo-environmentalists, some academics–­which has co-opted too much of the movement into “sustainability,” with that word being devalued to mean “keeping this culture going as long as possible.” Instead of fighting to protect our one and only home, they are trying to “sustain” the very culture that is killing the planet. And they are often quite explicit about their priorities.

For example, the recent “An Open Letter to Environmentalists on Nuclear Energy,” signed by a number of academics, some conservation biologists, and other members of the conservation-industrial complex, labels nuclear energy as “sustainable” and argues that because of global warming, nuclear energy plays a “key role” in “global biodiversity conservation.”

Their entire argument is based on the presumption that industrial energy usage is, like Dick Cheney said, not negotiable–­it is taken as a given. And for what will this energy be used? To continue extraction and drawdown­–to convert the last living creatures and their communities into the final dead commodities.

Their letter said we should let “objective evidence” be our guide. One sign of intelligence is the ability to recognize patterns: let’s lay out a pattern and see if we can recognize it in less than 10,000 years. When you think of Iraq, do you think of cedar forests so thick that sunlight never touches the ground?

That’s how it was prior to the beginnings of this culture. The Near East was a forest. North Africa was a forest. Greece was a forest. All pulled down to support this culture. Forests precede us, while deserts dog our heels.

There were so many whales in the Atlantic they were a hazard to ships. There were so many bison on the Great Plains you could watch for four days as a herd thundered by.

There were so many salmon in the Pacific Northwest you could hear them coming for hours before they arrived. The evidence is not just “objective,” it’s overwhelming: this culture exsanguinates the world of water, of soil, of species, and of the process of life itself, until all that is left is dust.

Fossil fuels have accelerated this destruction, but they didn’t cause it, and switching from fossil fuels to nuclear energy (or windmills) won’t stop it. Maybe three generations of humans will experience this level of consumption, but a culture based on drawdown has no future. Of all people, conservation biologists should understand that drawdown cannot last, and should not be taken as a given when designing public policy–­let alone a way of life.

It is long past time for those of us whose loyalties lie with wild plants and animals and places to take back our movement from those who use its rhetoric to foster accelerating ecocide. It is long past time we all faced the fact that an extractive way of life has never had a future, and can only end in biotic collapse.

Every day this extractive culture continues, two hundred species slip into that longest night of extinction. We have very little time left to stop the destruction and to start the repair. And the repair might yet be done: grasslands, for example, are so good at sequestering carbon that restoring 75 percent of the planet’s prairies could bring atmospheric CO2 to under 330 ppm in fifteen years or less.

This would also restore habitat for a near infinite number of creatures. We can make similar arguments about reforestation.

Or consider that out of the more than 450 dead zones in the oceans, precisely one has repaired itself. How? The collapse of the Soviet Empire made agriculture unfeasible in the region near the Black Sea: with the destructive activity taken away, the dead zone disappeared, and life returned. It really is that simple.

You’d think that those who claim to care about biodiversity would cherish “objective evidence” like this. But instead the conservation-industrial complex promotes nuclear energy (or windmills). Why? Because restoring prairies and forests and ending empires doesn’t fit with the extractive agenda of the global overlords.

This and other attempts to rationalize increasingly desperate means to fuel this destructive culture are frankly insane. The fundamental problem we face as environmentalists and as human beings isn’t to try to find a way to power the destruction just a little bit longer: it’s to stop the destruction. The scale of this emergency defies meaning.

Mountains are falling. The oceans are dying. The climate itself is bleeding out and it’s our children who will find out if it’s beyond hope. The only certainty is that our one and only home, once lush with life and the promise of more, will soon be a bare rock if we do nothing.

We the undersigned are not part of the conservation-industrial complex. Many of us are long-term environmental activists. Some of us are Indigenous people whose cultures have been living truly sustainably and respectfully with all our relations from long before the dominant culture began exploiting the planet.

But all of us are human beings who recognize we are animals who like all others need livable habitat on a living earth. And we love salmon and prairie dogs and black terns and wild nature more than we love this way of life.

Environmentalism is not about insulating this culture from the effects of its world-destroying activities. Nor is it about trying to perpetuate these world-destroying activities. We are reclaiming environmentalism to mean protecting the natural world from this culture.

And more importantly, we are reclaiming this earth that is our only home, reclaiming it from this extractive culture. We love this earth, and we will defend our beloved.


Step up to the Permacene

SUBHEAD: We have a choice to keep doing what we are used to or bravely stepping into the future.

By Andy Russell on 27 March 2015 for Autonomy Acres -

Image above: Chart of Earth's 4 billion years of geologic ages. From original article.

In the Beginning

The Earth is an old place.  Roughly 4 and a half billion years old is the date agreed upon by scientist. Starting out as an orbiting cloud of dust, rocks, and ice that eventually came together with the help of the gravitational pull of our sun, the Earth has had many makeovers and changes throughout the long eons.

Volcanic activity, tectonic shifts, comet and meteor strikes, erosion causing weather patterns, the forces of water and rain, climate change, and biological protagonists like fungi, plants, animals, and humans have all played a role in the constant evolution of our planet.

From the rise of mountain ranges, the carving of river valleys, the spread of deserts, the birth of a forest, or the extinction of a species, the Earth has had many stories to tell.  Each eon a chapter with its own characters, settings, and plots.

About 2 and a half billion years ago the first life forms began to appear in the fossil record.  Starting as single celled organisms, life progressed throughout the millennia changing and adapting with the earth.  Slowly but surely, life forms grew more complex.

Starting with bacteria and simple fungi that could break down inorganic rocks and minerals (and eventually organic materials like plants), other life forms figured out how to create their own food using the power of the sun (photosynthesis in plants and certain types of bacteria), and yet other life forms (animals and insects) learned how to survive by consuming plants, fungi, bacteria, and other animals!  The cycle of life was well under way.

This dance of evolution has spanned the ages with the different characters (bacteria, fungi, plants, and animals) trading places of importance countless times over, always with the sole intent of filling open niches and reaching some kind of habitable equilibrium.

Often times this equilibrium was achieved and sustained for long periods of time (sometimes for hundreds of millions of years), but eventually some disruption or imbalance occurred signalling the end of one age, and the dawning of another.  Geological events and mass extinctions have often been the benchmarks for defining these different ages of the earth.

Some of these times are more well known than others.  Some are downright popular, such as the Jurassic period of the Mesozoic era (the age of reptiles),  when the dinosaurs ruled the earth.

The Jurassic period lasted for more than 50 million years, and that only constituted a portion of the whole Mesozoic era.  It is a great illustration of how old the earth actually is, how slow time can move, and how young of a species we humans actually are.

The fossil record puts the age of modern humans at around 200,000 years old.  A long line of monkeys, apes, and gorillas share our direct evolutionary path.  But somewhere around 40,000 years ago, humans ruled supreme, beating out the last of our closest relatives, the neanderthals, who had walked the earth for close to a million years previous to us humans. Since then, it’s all history as they like to say!

In that time, humans have risen to the position as the number one, global apex predator that has been shaping, transforming, and dominating the Earth, its landscapes, and all of its other inhabitants for at least the last 10,000 years.

When humans mastered the skills of both language and fire, we ceased being just another primate amongst the natural world, and instead went on to create cave paintings, songs, religions, government, and so many other visible and invisible structures that are now inseparable from the human experience.

Since those early days, we have gone on many adventures and have built legacies that have lasted millenia.  Cultures come and go, but their footsteps make up our history, and the biggest and easiest trail we can follow is the one that has shaped the earth and humans the most, agriculture.

The First Green Revolution

Around the close of the last ice age, 10-12,000 years ago, a radical experiment began to take place in how humans inhabited their landscape.  The earth entered an interglacial state and the climate slowly began to change and warm, thus giving us different options on how we could live with the land.  Agriculture did not happen overnight, but rather it played out over seasons and centuries, adapting and refining itself, and taking us and the land with it.

Those who lived through those early days of agriculture could not have known how the world was about to change.  In those 10,000 years since the first horticultural societies gave way to an agricultural revolution that changed the world, humans have shaped and molded the planet in almost all aspects.  Our tinkering is evident almost anywhere you look, whether with the naked eye or with a microscope.

We have logged the planet of almost all its old growth forest and lost billions of tons of precious topsoil to the wind and rain.  Along with the loss of the trees and our soils, comes a release of millennia’s worth of stored carbon that now finds itself freely traveling through the atmosphere.

Our air and waters have been polluted from erosion and industry, we divert rivers, move mountains, and change the lay of the land in unprecedented ways.  Our oceans have been overfished, our prairies overturned.  Our fingerprints are everywhere.

There are millions of tons of plastic floating in the ocean.  There are thousands of active landfills in America today, and over 10,000 retired ones, all evidence of mans presence, our modern day midden piles.  Every disposable product, every plastic trinket, every outdated or broken do-dad has a traceable path to a real place somewhere on the Earth.

All these creations, whether a paper napkin or a pickup truck starts in a place where a natural resource can be found.  Trees and other natural fibers, minerals, metal ores, fossil fuels, water, and agricultural products can all be found in any number of these common everyday products and goods that are used throughout the world.

People and animals are displaced from their native lands and habitats to make way for the logging, mining, growing, and processing of these materials that are needed for all these industrial products.  There are now very few places left on our Earth that have not felt the impact of man, and the “progress” that is left in our wake.

But the journey of those first farmers and city builders is still our story.  It is a story that is always looking to grow bigger and wealthier.  It has cast humans as the main characters, and everything else, whether an old growth tree or a northern white rhino is a disposable extra.  This is life in the anthropocene!

Life in the Anthropocene

The anthropocene as defined by wikipedia as “an informal geologic chronological term for the proposed epoch that began when human activities had a significant global impact on the Earth’s ecosystems.”  The term was coined by scientist Paul Crutzen in the year 2000 and has been gaining acceptance throughout the scientific community ever since.

Until Crutzen proposed the idea of the anthropocene, the world had been living in (and still technically is) what is known as the holocene, the geological age starting at the end of the last ice age.

While this distinction is still being debated, for the purpose of this essay I will follow Crutzen’s thinking and accept the anthropocene as the new geological age defined by man and his impacts on the natural world.

Whether it is mining, logging, agriculture, pollution, or any of the other myriad activities that bear the fingerprints of man, these are all defining characteristics of the anthropocene.

So where does that leave us?  If the anthropocene is our legacy, one that first started because of fire, language, and religion and continued with the domestication of the living landscape, and climaxing in industrial (agri)culture, resource extraction, suburban sprawl and biological extinction, than it is a legacy based on death.  The Anthropocene by its own definition requires the disruption of the earth’s ecosystems for modern man to survive.

If our time on this good Earth is being defined by the natural wealth we have plundered, the pollution and garbage we have created, and all of the land we have stolen and destroyed, than it is not only a legacy of death, but also one to be ashamed of as well.  What do we have to carry forward?  What stories will be told about us?  What will we ultimately be remembered for?

If the anthropocene is the defined theme of our collective narrative, are we subject to a self created demise?  If we stay on the same path that we are currently on, are humans to expect a rough road ahead?

For all of our technological advances and mastering of the Earth, the fact remains that we still live on a finite planet that is ruled by limits to how much we can take and how much we can pollute before global ecosystems, weather patterns, and biodiversity begin to change and ultimately collapse, thus affecting the project we call civilization.

If humans are to move into the future, a future that still includes the basic tenets of modernity for all who want them and need them, then we need to radically shift the way we inhabit our landscapes and redefine what it means to be a human civilization in the 21st century.  That redefinition will be less of a revolution, and more of a complete paradigm shift.

If the anthropocene has been based on theft, destruction, and the ill intentioned manipulation of the natural landscape and its inhabitants for an ever growing economy, than this paradigm shift will have to include principles, ethics, and actions that are the antithesis of those that are symptomatic of the anthropocene.

For too long our mark(s) on the land and ecosystems of the earth have been those of a selfish landlord, and not those of a humble steward preserving our historical and cultural commons.  Until we can begin to move away from these most basic and underlying habits of greed and dominion over others, we are doomed to keep repeating the cycle of destruction for profit that we are stuck in.

Until we as a society can divorce ourselves from the greed and savagery that is used to grow the profits that keep the wheels of “progress” moving, we will forever remain under those wheels, being ground up and used as fertilizer for growing the economy.  At some point we must face the truth that the planet does not care about any economy other than the economy of nature, the flow of energy that is the living earth.

While it may seem that I am advocating for the dismantling of modern civilization, nothing is farther from the truth. It has taken me many years to arrive at this conclusion, but I do think it is possible for humans to coexist, and most importantly, care for this planet at the same time.  Part of the solution lies in the way we view life and our time we have here.

At some point in our story we no longer gave thought to the generations that are to follow in our footsteps, and focused solely on the now.  It was no longer required of us to think about how our actions could affect life generations from present day.  We were now accountable for nothing but our own personal desires and instant gratifications.

But when we begin to hold ourselves accountable for our actions, it is possible to see how we can impact the future.  If in every decision we leave room for the future to have its say, than it is less likely that we would continue to clear cut forests, move mountains, and knowingly pollute our drinking water just for a quick buck or a desperate energy fix.

When we consider our grandkids’ grandkids in the decisions we make now, we begin to realize that every aspect of how we live needs to change.  We can no longer be short term takers, but instead we have to become the guardians and caretakers of our land bases so that there is something of abundance, substance and beauty available for those who follow in our footsteps.

We are at a place in history where we have never been before.  We have more accumulated knowledge and proven, appropriate science and technology available to us than any other humans to come before us.

We have the ability to keep people warm when it is cold, dry when it is wet, and fed when they are hungry.

We have the resources to educate people and the social safety nets to insure a basic level of comfort for all those on the planet.  We also have a history and a shared story that defines what it is to be a human.

It is this last point that is most important.  If we can reconnect with what it means to be a fully mature human, we will see that we have an important place in nature.

Towards the Permacene

This is the paradigm shift I propose.  It is a shift and a transition to a new geologic age, where with each passing generation we reduce our footprint. The amount of evidence of our existence is carried forward not by the trash and destruction we leave behind in our wake, but in the books we continue to write, the songs we continue to sing, the communities we continue to build, and land that we help to heal.  This journey is underway, and has been slowly since the beginning, but we are at a critical point in human history.

Moving into the future as a unified species will only continue if we face our history.  Human history is filled with tragic abuses and genocides of peoples, animals, plants, and landscapes.  Our cultural and biological diversity has been decimated by the fossil fuel enhanced advancement of industrial civilization.  Countless characters of nature have been swallowed by the pit of extinction, and many more are on the edge of falling in.

If we turn our backs on what has been lost and forget those stories, than we cannot move forward.  It is the ones that are already gone that must be a reminder to us as we move into the future that we must move forward with as much cultural diversity and biodiversity preserved, protected, and regenerated as possible.

Our roles as stewards must extend to as many humans that calls this planet home.  When people have a real physical connection to a land base and a community of friends and families to share it with, than our jobs as earth stewards becomes easy because we are all working towards the same goal.

 While the role and duties of earth stewards will vary from landbase to landbase and one community to another, the underlying ethics and principles that guide this endeavor are universal and are intrinsic in the transformation from just being a private citizen to a steward of the commons!

As we begin to renounce our citizenship to the anthropocene and begin embracing our role as stewards of the Earth, all aspects of our lives will begin to change.  When we are rooted in strong communities and land bases, using technology appropriately, and asking ourselves how our actions will impact future generations, the foundations of greed and domination that rule the world will begin to crumble.

As we begin to regenerate landscapes and communities, the corporate overlords and bureaucrats will find themselves unwelcome in more and more places and eventually cease to be.  But this will only happen where communities are united, diverse, and have a physical connection to a landbase that they can call home.  These communities, interconnected by their diverse patchwork of skills and trades, seasonal celebrations, trade and migration routes, spiritual beliefs, and the passing of information will have to find a human commonality that celebrates our diversity and uses that as a unifying force!

As history shows, we are a young species.  We are a species that is full of flaws and destructive selfishness.  But we are also adaptive and creative and occasionally compassionate, three traits that have made possible our evolutionary advances.

So while we have perfected war and hatred and the wholesale destruction of our living planet, we also write poetry and songs, celebrate with family and friends, and have a love so deep that somehow, we still find we have roots that are just waiting to find a place to dig into, a place to call home!

So here we are at a cross roads.  We have a choice to keep doing what we are used to, and most likely end up in a bleak and poor world.  One that is gutted of all but humans and the strongest and most noxious of weeds.  Or we can bravely step into the future planting trees and building communities and carrying on this great project we started well over 200,000 years ago.

We can take the next step in our evolution, a step towards the Permacene.  Peace and Cheers.


In case you've forgotten Fukushima

SUBHEAD: Large areas of oceans contaminated by plutonium. Build-up in biosphere a considerable hazard to humans. 

By Admin on 26 March 2015 for ENE News -

Image above: Tsunami wave generated by the Tohoku Earthquake on 3/11/11 overwhelms and crumbles defensive seawall at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan. From (

Taeko Shinonaga, head of Radioanalytical Laboratory at Helmholtz Zentrum Munchen (research institution founded jointly by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education & Research and Bavaria’s Finance Ministry), scientists from Technische Universitat Munchen (Germany), Verhandlungen der Deutschen Physikalischen Gesellschaft 2013 meeting (emphasis added): Detection of long-lived plutonium isotopes in environmental samples by Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) 

Plutonium isotopes 239Pu, 240Pu and 242Pu are anthropogenic radionuclides emitted into the environment by nuclear activities. Plutonium is accumulated in the human body and hence, poses a considerable hazard to human health. Due to the long half-lives, these isotopes are present in the biosphere on large time scales and a build-up can be expected.

Therefore it is important to study the contamination pathway of Plutonium into the drinking water… a method to detect long-lived Plutonium isotopes by Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) is being developed. AMS requires only few milligrams of sample material…

Consequently, more samples from different locations can be taken which is essential when searching for locally increased Plutonium concentrations as in the Pacific Ocean after the Fukushima accident… Samples from different locations in the Pacific Ocean and from the snow-hydrosphere are planned…

Presentation by Taeko Shinonaga, head of Helmholtz radioanalytical lab (pdf), Nov 2014:  Comparison of activity between [nuclear bomb testing] fallout Plutonium particle and Fukushima origin Plutonium particle:

Global Nuclear Bomb Testing Fallout of Plutonium in Japan [GF]
> Plutonium 240: 1,360 Bq
> Plutonium 241: 645 Bq
> Total: 208,005 Bq

Total Fukushima Daiichi Released Plutonium in our study
Plutonium 240: 197,000 Bq [145 times GF]
> Plutonium 241: 43,700,000 Bq [67,752 times GF]
> Total: 44,061,000 Bq [212 times GF]

Scientists from Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and Univ. of Notre Dame, 2014:  Interstitial incorporation of plutonium into a low-dimensional potassium borate… [E]vents such as the catastrophe at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan [have] resulted in the contamination of large areas of oceans, ground-water, soils, and sediments by actinides, such as uranium and plutonium… migration of actinides [is] an important environmental concern…

 Knowledge of the incorporation mechanisms of actinides into… natural materials is therefore required… for predicting the migration of radionuclides…

European Commission Joint Research Centre (pdf), 2014: [The Joint Research Centre] is studying emerging safety issues…examining mixed oxide (MOX) properties [and] preparing further severe accident studies on specific aspects of the Fukushima accident [such as] off-vessel fuel-concrete interactions…

Japanese Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) selected a JRC-developed method as one of the most suitable approaches to characterise [Fukushima's] molten fuel…

This characterisation is an international obligation during the decommissioning phase, according to IAEA safeguards.

Japanese researchers are now developing and optimizing the methodology to quantify special nuclear materials in particle-like debris of the molten reactor fuel.

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima - the end of nuclear power 3/13/15
The continuing nightmare of th core melt-thoughs at Fukushima Daiichi will go on past your lifetime.

Ea O Ka Aina: Where is the Fukushima Data? 2/21/15
Looking into a bit of background about the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant disaster. 

Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima MOX fuel crossed Pacific 2/4/15
West Coast and Hawaii were hit by radioactive plumes of uranium/plutonium from Fukushima.

Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima worst human disaster 1/24/15
Education ministry survey states obesity a growing problem among children in Fukushima.

Ea O Ka Aina: USS Ronald Reagan & Fukushima 12/15/13 USS Reagan was close to the meltdowns. Sailors and even their children have been seriously injured.

Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima chronic radiation 10/31/14
Plants outside the exclusion zone are getting of chronic radiation that the Japanese choose to ignore.

Ea O Ka Aina: Tsunami, Fukushima and Kauai 3/9/14
How did it Affect Kauai? What Debris Came to Kauai? Was anything radioactive?

TPP vs. Democracy

SUBHEAD: Leaked draft of secretive trade deal spells out plan for corporate power grab.

By Sarah Lazare on 26 March 2015 for Common Dreams -

Image above: Illustraion of Mickey Mouse holding a map of corporate sponsors of TPP. From original article.

Newly leaked classified documents show that the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership deal, if it goes through as written, will dramatically expand the power of corporations to use closed-door tribunals to challenge—and supersede—domestic laws, including environmental, labor, and public health, and other protections.

The tribunals, made infamous under NAFTA, were exposed in the "Investment Chapter" from the TPP negotiations, which was released to the public by WikiLeaks on Wednesday.

"The TPP has developed in secret an unaccountable supranational court for multinationals to sue states," said Julian Assange, WikiLeaks editor. "This system is a challenge to parliamentary and judicial sovereignty. Similar tribunals have already been shown to chill the adoption of sane environmental protection, public health and public transport policies."

Responding to the leak, Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, declared: "With the veil of secrecy ripped back, finally everyone can see for themselves that the TPP would give multinational corporations extraordinary new powers that undermine our sovereignty, expose U.S. taxpayers to billions in new liability, and privilege foreign firms operating here with special rights not available to U.S. firms under U.S. law."

The document reveals that negotiators plan to recycle language from past trade agreements to create the controversial "investor-state dispute settlement" system (ISDS). Under this framework, multinationals would be granted a parallel legal system in which they can sue governments, and therefore taxpayers, for loss of "expected future profit," with the power to overrule national laws and judicial systems.

The language included in this draft is even worse than previously thought, because it excludes a minor safeguard included in a version leaked in 2012.

Public Citizen noted in a press statement that the latest draft "abandons a safeguard proposed in the 2012 leaked TPP investment text, which excluded public interest regulations from indirect expropriation claims, stating, 'non-discriminatory regulatory actions... that are designed and applied to achieve legitimate public welfare objectives, such as the protection of public health, safety and the environment do not constitute indirect expropriation.'"

Such ISDS tribunals have become a cornerstone of so-called "free trade" deals and are included in 3,000 accords world-wide, according to The New York Times. They have been used to attack toxic bans, environmental regulations, access to medicines, and safety laws.

However, their inclusion in the TPP is expected to have an even greater impact, given the number of countries involved in the pact and the size of their economies.

Under negotiation since at least 2008, the deal includes the U.S. and 11 Pacific Rim countries: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. These nations together represent 40 percent of the world's GDP, making this the largest trade deal yet.

Analysts say the new revelations have broad implications.

"The TPP would empower companies from New Zealand, Australia and Japan with new rights to attack our federal and local laws," said Patrick Woodall, Research director and senior policy advocate for Food & Water Watch, in a statement released Thursday. "For example, one natural gas company has already challenged a fracking moratorium in the Canadian province of Quebec under NAFTA’s investment provisions."

Woodall added, "These corporate lawsuits have a chilling effect on communities that want to protect their citizenry but lack the resources to defend against a colossal corporate lawsuit, including the more than 250 localities (including New York state) that have banned or imposed moratoriums on fracking."

Furthermore, Sean Flynn, associate director of the Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property at American University, warned that the TPP "would give new rights to private companies to challenge limitations and exceptions to copyrights, patents, and other intellectual property rights."

"The text contains the same provisions that are being used by Eli Lilly to challenge Canada’s invalidation of patent extensions for new uses of two medicines originally developed in the 1970s," wrote Flynn. "The same language is also being used by Philip Morris to challenge Uruguay’s regulation of advertising on cigarette packages as an 'expropriation” of their trademarks.'"

"But the TPP language goes farther," Flynn added. "It includes a new footnote, not previously released as part of any other investment chapter and not included in the U.S. model investment text—clarifying that private expropriation actions can be brought to challenge 'the cancellation or nullification of such [intellectual property] rights,' as well as 'exceptions to such rights.'"

The leaked chapter is dated January 20, 2015, meaning the text was drafted before the last two negotiation sessions in February and March. Nonetheless, experts say this and other leaks provide the best—and only—public information about what the deal holds in store, given the intense secrecy of the talks.

The cover of the chapter stipulates it must remain classified "four years from entry into force of the TPP agreement or, if no agreement enters into force, four years from the close of the negotiations"—in what the Times says is likely an acknowledgement of the "sensitivity" of the secret tribunals.

Global civil societies had already mounted vigorous opposition to the deal for years, with unions, environmental groups, anti-militarist movements, and feminist organizations from New Zealand to the Japan voicing concern that the agreement will harm ordinary people. Groups across the U.S. have staged mounting protests against an ongoing attempt by the administration of President Barack Obama to fast track the accord to completion.

Wednesday's revelations are likely to add to controversy over the deal.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration is negotiating two other secret trade deals: the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the Trade in Services Agreement.

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Hawaii protests TPP Summit 3/15/15


Big Ag Big Threat

SUBHEAD: A menacing mix in antibiotic resistance, herbicides, heavy metals and factory farms.

By Lynne Peeples on 24 March 2015 for Huffington Post  -

Image above: Detail of aerial photo of beef feedlot. A recently released batch of aerial photographs by British artist Mishka Henner show that factory farming is taking its toll on our planet. In addition to producing nutrient-poor "food" rife with GMOs, these farms are literally carving swaths of death through the American landscape. Henner's shocking photos provide bird's eye proof of the destruction that follows when industrial beef farming moves into town.  From (

Two common Big Agriculture production practices -- feeding antibiotics to livestock and spraying herbicides on conventional crops -- each face condemnation from the environmental community.

And there's been plenty of new fodder in the last week: One study predicted that antibiotic use in livestock will soar by two-thirds globally from 2010 to 2030, and another declared that Monsanto's popular Roundup herbicide is "probably carcinogenic to humans."

The latest research may merge the herbicide and antibiotic battle lines. The use of common herbicides, such as Roundup, Kamba and 2,4-D, according to a study published on Tuesday, may help drive antibiotic resistance.

Antibiotic-resistant infections take the lives of more than 23,000 Americans every year. The World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are among major groups warning of the dire threat posed to public health. Antibiotic resistance stemming from overuse in livestock also is the target of a bill re-introduced in Congress on Tuesday.

Environmental health advocates predict the use of herbicides will continue to rise as farmers plant more genetically modified seeds engineered to survive weedkillers. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently approved Enlist seeds, which are designed for use with a mix of 2,4-D and glyphosate, the chief ingredient in Roundup.

In some cases, combinations of herbicides and antibiotics in the new study made bacteria more susceptible to antibiotics, or had no effect. But more often, it had the opposite effect. If the disease-causing bacteria -- E. coli and salmonella -- were exposed to high enough levels of herbicide, the researchers found that the microbes could survive up to six times more antibiotic than if they hadn't been exposed to herbicide. They studied five common classes of the drugs: ampicillin, chloramphenicol, ciprofloxacin, kanamycin and tetracycline.

"In a sense, the herbicide is 'immunizing' the bacteria to the antibiotic," said Jack Heinemann, lead author of the study and researcher at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. He noted that the levels of herbicide tested in the study were above legal limits for residues on food, but lower than what's commonly applied to commercial crops.

The new finding builds on emerging evidence that multiple environmental contaminants may play a role in the rise of antibiotic resistance. Swedish researchers reported in September that antibiotic residues and heavy metals in the environment -- even at "infinitesimally low" concentrations -- may team up to drive the growth of antibiotic resistance. In addition to metals potentially leaching into the environment from other industries, construction or health care facilities, some farmers use arsenic in animal feed and as a pesticide. Mercury can also contaminate fish meal, while copper is common in swine fodder.

"This could be an important contributor" to antibiotic resistance, Dan Andersson, lead author of that study and a microbiologist at Upsalla University in Sweden, told The Huffington Post in October.

Mark Silby, a biologist at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, noted an "important parallel," between the heavy metal and herbicide studies. "Low-level antibiotics can be of considerable importance in the evolution of antibiotic resistance, by means which we may not be very good at anticipating," he said.

Most research in the past has looked at chemicals or other contaminants in isolation, rather than as the cocktail that typically lingers in the environment -- especially near farms -- and is enlisted in modern agricultural practices. Livestock feed, and the fields on which animals graze, may contain traces of antibiotics, herbicides and heavy metals.

Heinemann, too, emphasized that "combinations of exposures to what we think of as different kinds of chemicals can matter."

He also pointed to the core issue of the overuse of antibiotics in both medicine and agriculture. His team's study was published the same day that Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) re-introduced the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act. The bill has the support of 50 city councils and more than 450 medical, consumer advocacy and public health groups.

"Right now, we are allowing the greatest medical advancement of the 20th century to be frittered away, in part because it's cheaper for factory farms to feed these critical drugs to animals rather than clean up the deplorable conditions on the farm," Slaughter, the only microbiologist in Congress, said in a statement Tuesday. "My legislation would save eight critical classes of antibiotics from being routinely fed to healthy animals, and would reserve them only for sick humans and sick animals."

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration offers voluntary guidance to the pharmaceutical industry on the use of antibiotics in livestock, including a request that drugmakers change their labels by December 2016 to exclude uses for growth promotion. The FDA hasn't imposed a ban or mandatory restrictions.

Advocates are not impressed, pointing to potential loopholes in the voluntary guidance.
Slaughter's bill has faced steep opposition since its first iteration in 1999. In the last Congress, according to a press release from her office on Tuesday, 82 percent of lobbying reports filed on her bill came from “entities hostile to regulation.”

Slaughter is among experts and advocates who largely blame the pressing public health problem on the routine administration of low doses of antibiotics to cattle, swine, chickens and other livestock. Just as an incomplete course of antibiotics can result in the rise of a more virulent infection in a person, this use in animals -- often to prevent the spread of disease or to simply promote growth -- means bacteria that can withstand the drugs will survive, reproduce and pass on their resistance to the next generation of bugs on the farm.

Food animals receive about 80 percent of the antibiotics sold in the U.S. Livestock antibiotics are thought to affect human health via multiple pathways: direct or indirect contact with food, water, air or anywhere urine or manure goes.

While some fast food brands and retailers have begun eliminating medically-important antibiotics from their supply chains, the agriculture industry maintains that its practices are critical for livestock health and not a significant contributor to the rise of antibiotic resistance. The Animal Health Institute, which represents pharmaceutical companies, suggested that the herbicide and heavy metal studies further support their case.

Image above: No this is not a computer circuit-board. It's your Big Mac under construction. It's also a wider view of photo above, is just part aerial photo by Mishka Henner of beef feedlot runoff.  Antibiotics and GMO contaminants such as pesticides and glyphosate and 2-4-D in urnine and fecal matter coolect in runoff and end in toxic pools. This is reason enough to eat free range grass fed beef (if you are going to eat beef at all).  From (

"These studies are further indications that antibiotic resistance is a very complex issue and there are non-antibiotic compounds that can select for resistance," Ron Phillips, vice president of legislative and legal affairs with the group, told HuffPost in an email. "That's why simple solutions will only waste resources while not addressing the real issue. We must address the issue of antibiotic resistance with careful, science-based" approaches.

Charla Lord, a spokeswoman for Monsanto, added that her company was taking a closer look at the "very complicated" study. She said more research is needed to identify what components in the herbicide may be linked to any effects.

Amy Pruden, an expert on antibiotic resistance at Virginia Tech, agreed that the studies "definitely complicate things" and add evidence that "it's not just antibiotics that contribute to the problem."

Pruden emphasized the need for "a really broad management plan that thinks comprehensively about all the things that contribute to the failure of antibiotic treatment." She noted that antibiotic overuse, including in livestock, is far from off the hook. "It's common sense that antibiotics themselves are the core issue," she said. "It's just that even if we cut way back on them, we still might have work to do and other things to think about."

Silby agreed. "Obviously, sick animals should be looked after appropriately, but the large-scale use of antibiotics as growth enhancers has almost certainly been a significant driver of antibiotic resistance."

See also:
Ea O Ka Ania: NZ dairy model isn't Mahaulepu 3/9/15


The Death of Coal

SUBHEAD: Rapidly decaying coal industry reveals fate of all fossil fuels, argue researchers at Carbon Tracker Initiative.

By Lauren McCauley on 24 March 2015 for Common Dreams -

Image above: The Kayford Mine, a mountaintop removal project near Charleston, West Virginia. (Photo: Dennis Dimick/cc/flickr)From original article.

A new report released Tuesday by the London-based Carbon Tracker Initiative warns that the crash of U.S. coal markets is but a harbinger of things to come for all fossil fuel investments.

The report, The U.S. Coal Crash – Evidence for Structural Change (pdf), found that the slump in coal prices has forced more than two dozen U.S. coal companies into bankruptcy over the past three years.

With the rise of renewable energy and a growing call for countries to adapt their energy infrastructures for a more carbon-constrained future, the authors of the report argue that the crash of the U.S. coal economy "provides an excellent example of how the future may pan out globally and with other fuels as the world moves to a low-carbon economy."

According to the study, the market's demise has been driven by a combination of factors, including: lost market share to cheap shale gas, the falling cost of renewable energy sources, and increased environmental protections and industry regulation—driven largely by the Environmental Protection Agency. Further, international markets in Asia have similarly moved to adapt their energy usage in the face of growing concern over carbon emissions.

"The roof has fallen in on U.S. coal, and alarm bells should be ringing for investors in related sectors around the world," said Andrew Grant, Carbon Tracker’s financial analyst and report co-author. "These first tremors are amongst the clearest signs yet of a seismic shift in energy markets, as high carbon fuels are set to be increasingly outperformed by lower carbon alternatives."

On Monday, the international market research firm Macquarie Research warned investors that the outlook for U.S. coal producers is "increasingly bleak," and the sector is likely to undergo "a wave of bankruptcies."

Where the U.S. coal market was historically tied to economic growth, as Carbon Tracker notes, "there is now clear evidence" that the two indicators have been "decoupled."

"The Dow Jones Total Market Coal Sector Index is down 76 percent in the last five years compared with the Down Jones Industrial Average that grew by 69 percent in the same period," says the report.

Andrew Logan, director of the oil and gas program at Ceres, a sustainable investment organization, said, "We’ve known for decades that coal posed serious health and environmental risks, but now coal has also become an investment risk as countries take serious actions to clear their air and protect the climate."

Logan added that investors have now taken up the call of environmentalists and are now "pushing for coal and other fossil fuel companies to face facts and adapt their business models to thrive in a carbon-constrained world."

The warnings come amid a growing call for universities and other large endowments to divest their holdings from fossil fuel companies. Last week, the Guardian newspaper publicly challenged the world's two largest foundations, the Gates Foundation and Wellcome Trust, to pull their combined $70 billion from fossil fuel investments.

It is worth noting that these market shifts have occurred without any global climate deal or U.S. federal measures specifically labelled "carbon" or "climate." Leaders are set to meet in Paris in December to hash out an international climate agreement.

"The evolution of the U.S. energy sector is far from over," the report continues. "Companies and investors by and large underestimated the risks in U.S. coal and did not see the way the wind was blowing until it was too late, and suffered very material losses because of it."


Fed up with factory farming

SUBHEAD: Is factory farming destroying the planet? These five films have an answer!

By Beth Kelly on 25 March 2015 for Island Breath -
Image above: What does factory farming look like on Kauai? It might look like a milk factory dairy. Like the Pierre Omidyer proposed Hawaii Dairy Farm in Mahulepu Valley. To get an idea of HDF's impact we have superimposed a image of the Aurora "Organic" Dairy Farm (in Boulder, Colorado) over the red line boundary of HDF.  We used GoogleEarth and an mirror image of an aerial photo of the AODF andadjusted the scale and perspective as best we could. From ( See also ( Graphics by Juan Wilson. Click to embiggen.

Food is something that we take for granted in the modern world. We go to huge grocery stores, buy incredible amounts of food, and don't give much more thought to it. We might even assume that idyllic farmers are working hard to grow and harvest the best quality and most nutritious food possible. The problem is that this assumption is quite naïve.

Modern agriculture is about as far from this rustic portrait of a small family farm as possible. Farm operations today are more like an industrial factory that cranks out food on an assembly line. Health and nutrition are often sacrificed in favor of efficiency and profits.

A number of recent documentaries expose the harmful effects of agribusiness and factory farming. Here are five documentaries that lift the curtain and show us behind the scenes of modern agriculture:

More Than Honey (2012)

Video above: Official Trailer for movie "More than Honey". From (

This film takes a close look at bees and their relationship with humankind. It examines a wide variety of honeybee colonies in California, Switzerland, Australia, and China in an attempt to discern what factors account for the widespread decline of the bee population due to colony collapse. More Than Honey suggests that modern chemical pesticides play a large role in destroying bee populations and discusses the dire consequences if bees should become extinct. Viewers rave about the film's breathtaking cinematography, as it is a visually stunning film with a well-told story.

Farmageddon (2011)

Video above: Trailer for movie "Farmageddon" From (

This film is a wake up call for those who are unaware of the way the Federal Government acts against smaller farmers all over America. It details the way that small organic farmers producing healthy and nutritious foods are systematically harassed by the United States government. This harassment is motivated by the influence that large corporate agribusinesses have on the government. By raising awareness of these issues, people will protest the dominance of big business in agriculture and give small family farms a new future.

Food, Inc. (2008)

Video above: Official trailer for "Food Inc." From (

A penetrating look at the industrialized production of food in the United States, this film shows that both animal and plant farming produces food that is not only unhealthy and harmful to the environment, but abuses and oppresses both animals and human employees. The companies that claim to take care of our needs are actually exploiting us for gain. Food, Inc. insists that we can make a difference. By changing our buying practices and voting, we can let these money-hungry companies that we want change.

King Corn (2007)

Video above: Trailer for King Corn. From ( See full length film here (

Two college friends go on journey through the American food supply. They begin by moving from Boston to Iowa, where they farm one acre of corn. Along the way, they examine how government subsidies create incentives to overproduce corn as well as the consequences of this overproduction. The two also show the prominence of high fructose corn syrup as a cheap food ingredient and the problems this causes for the American diet. The film chronicles the plight of small family farms that cannot compete against the huge agribusinesses that control the industry.

Crude Impact (2006)

Video above: Trailer for "Crude Impact". From ( See full length film here (

Our modern society is powered almost exclusively by fossil fuels. Crude Impact takes a critical look at an environmental crisis that is being created by this reliance, spreading awareness to energy and gas companies, major corporations, and the general public who seek to find solutions for this crisis. From global warming to overpopulation, this film takes a hard look at the way using fossil fuels affects human culture. It also examines the issue of “peak oil.” As demand for energy increases, supplies of fossil fuels will dwindle. The resulting exponential rise in the cost of energy could be devastating. The film also examines some potential solutions that would mitigate this disaster.

These films challenge us to critically examine where our food comes from. When we have the facts, we can call for change, seek out healthy alternatives, and use our purchasing power to demand the production of healthy food. In addition, we can call upon our leaders to change the system for the better and pay more attention to the sources of our food. Otherwise, we may jeopardize our health and our environment all for the sake of “good-tasting” food.

See also:
Ea O Ka Ania: NZ dairy model isn't Mahaulepu 3/9/15


To save Future live in Present

SUBHEAD: “The kingdom of heaven is at hand” because, if not at hand, it is nowhere.

By Wendell Barry on 23 March 2015 for Yes Magazine -

Image above: Turning around from the 13th and Webster intersection where the Ameritrade Park sign is, you will see the third largest mural in the nation. The gigantic painting of Omaha's past, present, and future covers the east side of the Energy Systems Building. From (

This excerpt consists of two numbered parts. The first was written in 2013 and the second in 2014.

I. [2013]

So far as I am concerned, the future has no narrative. The future does not exist until it has become the past. To a very limited extent, prediction has worked. The sun, so far, has set and risen as we have expected it to do. And the world, I suppose, will predictably end, but all of its predicted deadlines, so far, have been wrong.

The End of Something—history, the novel, Christianity, the human race, the world—has long been an irresistible subject. Many of the things predicted to end have so far continued, evidently to the embarrassment of none of the predictors.

The future has been equally, and relatedly, an irresistible subject. How can so many people of certified intelligence have written so many pages on a subject about which nobody knows anything? Perhaps we need a book— in case we don’t already have one—on the end of the future.

None of us knows the future. Fairly predictably, we are going to be surprised by it. That is why “ thought for the morrow...” is such excellent advice. Taking thought for the morrow is, fairly predictably, a waste of time.

I have noticed, for example, that most of the bad possibilities I have worried about have never happened.

And so I have taken care to worry about all the bad possibilities. I could think of, in order to keep them from happening. Some of my scientific friends will call this a superstition, but if I did not forestall so many calamities, who did?

However, after so much good work, even I must concede that by taking thought for the morrow we have invested, and wasted, a lot of effort in preparing for morrows that never came. Also by taking thought for the morrow we repeatedly burden today with undoing the damage and waste of false expectations—and so delaying our confrontation with the actuality that today has brought.

The question, of course, will come: If we take no thought for the morrow, how will we be prepared for the morrow?
I am not an accredited interpreter of Scripture, but taking thought for the morrow is a waste of time, I believe, because all we can do to prepare rightly for tomorrow is to do the right thing today.

The passage continues: “for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” The evil of the day, as we know, enters into it from the past. And so the first right thing we must do today is to take thought of our history. We must act daily as critics of history so as to prevent, so far as we can, the evils of yesterday from infecting today.

Another right thing we must do today is to appreciate the day itself and all that is good in it. This also is sound biblical advice, but good sense and good manners tell us the same. To fail to enjoy the good things that are enjoyable is impoverishing and ungrateful.

The one other right thing we must do today is to provide against want. Here the difference between “prediction” and “provision” is crucial.

To predict is to foretell, as if we know what is going to happen. Prediction often applies to unprecedented events: human-caused climate change, the end of the world, etc. Prediction is “futurology.”

To provide, literally, is to see ahead. But in common usage it is to look ahead. Our ordinary, daily understanding seems to have accepted long ago that our capacity to see ahead is feeble. The sense of “provision” and “providing” comes from the past, and is informed by precedent.

Provision informs us that on a critical day—St. Patrick’s Day, or in a certain phase of the moon, or when the time has come and the ground is ready—the right thing to do is plant potatoes. We don’t do this because we have predicted a bountiful harvest; history warns us against that.

We plant potatoes because history informs us that hunger is possible, and we must do what we can to provide against it. We know from the past only that, if we plant potatoes today, the harvest might be bountiful, but we can’t be sure, and so provision requires us to think today also of a diversity of food crops.

What we must not do in our efforts of provision is to waste or permanently destroy anything of value. History informs us that the things we waste or destroy today may be needed on the morrow. This obviously prohibits the “creative destruction” of the industrialists and industrial economists, who think that evil is permissible today for the sake of greater good tomorrow. There is no rational argument for compromise with soil erosion or toxic pollution.

For me—and most people are like me in this respect—“climate change” is an issue of faith; I must either trust or distrust the scientific experts who predict the future of the climate. I know from my experience, from the memories of my elders, from certain features of my home landscape, from reading history, that over the last 150 years or so the weather has changed and is changing. I know without doubt that to change is the nature of weather.

Just so, I know from as many reasons that the alleged causes of climate change—waste and pollution—are wrong. The right thing to do today, as always, is to stop, or start stopping, our habit of wasting and poisoning the good and beautiful things of the world, which once were called “divine gifts” and now are called “natural resources.”

I always suppose that experts may be wrong. But even if they are wrong about the alleged human causes of climate change, we have nothing to lose, and much to gain, by trusting them.

Even so, we are not dummies, and we can see that for all of us to stop, or start stopping, our waste and destruction today would be difficult. And so we chase our thoughts off into the morrow where we can resign ourselves to “the end of life as we know it” and come to rest, or start devising heroic methods and technologies for coping with a changed climate. The technologies will help, if not us, then the corporations that will sell them to us at a profit.

I have let the preceding paragraph rest for two days to see if I think it is fair. I think it is fair. As evidence, I will mention only that, while the theme of climate change grows ever more famous and fearful, land abuse is growing worse, noticed by almost nobody.

A steady stream of poisons is flowing from our croplands into the air and water. The land itself continues to flow or blow away, and in some places erosion is getting worse. High grain prices are now pushing soybeans and corn onto more and more sloping land, and “no-till” technology does not prevent erosion on continuously cropped grainfields.

Climate change, supposedly, is recent. It is apocalyptic, “big news,” and the certified smart people all are talking about it, thinking about it, getting ready to deal with it in the future.

Land abuse, by contrast, is ancient as well as contemporary. There is nothing futurological about it. It has been happening a long time, it is still happening, and it is getting worse. Most people have not heard of it. Most people would not know it if they saw it.

The laws for conservation of land in use were set forth by Sir Albert Howard in the middle of the last century. They were nature’s laws, he said, and he was right. Those laws are the basis of the 50-Year Farm Bill, which outlines a program of work that can be started now, which would help with climate change, but which needs to be done anyhow.

Millions of environmentalists and wilderness preservers are dependably worried about climate change. But they are not conversant with nature’s laws, they know and care nothing about land use, and they have never heard of Albert Howard or the 50-Year Farm Bill.

II. [2014]

If we understand that Nature can be an economic asset, a help and ally, to those who obey her laws, then we can see that she can help us now. There is work to do now that will make us her friends, and we will worry less about the future. We can begin backing out of the future into the present, where we are alive, where we belong. To the extent that we have moved out of the future, we also have moved out of “the environment” into the actual places where we actually are living.

If, on the contrary, we have our minds set in the future, where we are sure that climate change is going to play hell with the environment, we have entered into a convergence of abstractions that makes it difficult to think or do anything in particular. If we think the future damage of climate change to the environment is a big problem only solvable by a big solution, then thinking or doing something in particular becomes more difficult, perhaps impossible.

It is true that changes in governmental policy, if the changes were made according to the right principles, would have to be rated as big solutions. Such big solutions surely would help, and a number of times I have tramped the streets to promote them, but just as surely they would fail if not accompanied by small solutions.

And here we come to the reassuring difference between changes in policy and changes in principle. The needed policy changes, though addressed to present evils, wait upon the future, and so are presently nonexistent. But changes in principle can be made now, by so few as just one of us.

Changes in principle, carried into practice, are necessarily small changes made at home by one of us or a few of us. Innumerable small solutions emerge as the changed principles are adapted to unique lives in unique small places. Such small solutions do not wait upon the future. Insofar as they are possible now, exist now, are actual and exemplary now, they give hope. Hope, I concede, is for the future.

Our nature seems to require us to hope that our life and the world’s life will continue into the future. Even so, the future offers no validation of this hope. That validation is to be found only in the knowledge, the history, the good work, and the good examples that are now at hand.

There is in fact much at hand and in reach that is good, useful, encouraging, and full of promise, although we seem less and less inclined to attend to or value what is at hand. We are always ready to set aside our present life, even our present happiness, to peruse the menu of future exterminations. If the future is threatened by the present, which it undoubtedly is, then the present is more threatened, and often is annihilated, by the future.

“Oh, oh, oh,” cry the funerary experts, looking ahead through their black veils. “Life as we know it soon will end. If the governments don’t stop us, we’re going to destroy the world. The time is coming when we will have to do something to save the world. The time is coming when it will be too late to save the world. Oh, oh, oh.” If that is the way our minds are afflicted, we and our world are dead already.

The present is going by and we are not in it. Maybe when the present is past, we will enjoy sitting in dark rooms and looking at pictures of it, even as the present keeps arriving in our absence.

Or maybe we could give up saving the world and start to live savingly in it. If using less energy would be a good idea for the future, that is because it is a good idea. The government could enforce such a saving by rationing fuels, citing the many good reasons, as it did during World War II.

If the government should do something so sensible, I would respect it much more than I do. But to wish for good sense from the government only displaces good sense into the future, where it is of no use to anybody and is soon overcome by prophesies of doom.

On the contrary, so few as just one of us can save energy right now by self-control, careful thought, and remembering the lost virtue of frugality. Spending less, burning less, traveling less may be a relief. A cooler, slower life may make us happier, more present to ourselves, and to others who need us to be present.

Because of such rewards, a large problem may be effectively addressed by the many small solutions that, after all, are necessary, no matter what the government might do. The government might even do the right thing at last by imitating the people.

In this essay and elsewhere, I have advocated for the 50-Year Farm Bill, another big solution I am doing my best to promote, but not because it will be good in or for the future. I am for it because it is good now, according to present understanding of present needs. I know that it is good now because its principles are now satisfactorily practiced by many (though not nearly enough) farmers.

Only the present good is good. It is the presence of good—good work, good thoughts, good acts, good places—by which we know that the present does not have to be a nightmare of the future. “The kingdom of heaven is at hand” because, if not at hand, it is nowhere.