Earth Day 2017 in France and the USA

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Today on Earth Day 2017 it’s hard to believe it was just one year ago today (April 22, 2016) that the world celebrated 195 nations signing of the Paris Accord on climate change.

Marine Le PenExactly one year later to the day, it is both Earth Day and Election Day in Paris, where the French go to the polls following another chilling terrorist attack that boosts the candidacy of far right nationalist candidate Marine Le Pen who would “Make France great again!”

Here on the other side of the Atlantic and across the world, scientists and supporters of science are casting their votes with their feet, signs, and speeches in the wake of the 2016 American election of a climate change-denying President and Congress unravelling the Paris Accord while concentrating of erection of a border wall.

March for ScienceThe March for Science stands with Albert Einstein. “We cannot,” said Einstein, “solve our problems with the same thinking by which we created them.”

The thinking that has led to our problems includes bad religion, bad scientific, bad politics, and bad economics that ignore reality, bend and shrink reality to the size of the human will to power, and sacrifice creative imagination beyond the boundaries of the thinking that had led to our problems.

Today it will take prayerful people on both sides of the Atlantic to vote for the Earth in whatever way we can. Good science, good religion, good politics, and good economics go hand-in-hand.

On Earth Day 2017 pray for the Earth. Pray for yourself, for others, and for all creatures great and small. The Planet has no borders. It’s all the same house.

Albert Einstein

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, Earth Day 2017.

Climate Departure Roadmap

This article on climate change and the roadmap of the Paris Accord goals brings to mind the Navajo saying that inspired Be Still! Departure from Collective Madness begins: “If we keep going the way we’re going, we’re going to get where we’re going.”

Read Scientists made a detailed “roadmap” for meeting the Paris climate goals. It’s eye-opening and call your Congressperson, Senator, and the White House to open more eyes.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, March 24, 2017

 

 

REAL Men Smoke Camels

America was a different place in the ’50s and ’60s. Posting the ’50s “Alka Selzer” ad this morning took me back to this ad for “Camels” on which my generation grew up.

7-camels-more-doctors-smoke-camels

Some things have changed for the better. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stopped this kind of real men ad, but only after real science researched the truth about cigarette smoke and cancer, resulting in successful lawsuits against the tobacco industry’s faux science. Is there a lesson here for today? Is faux science again trumping real science

  • Gordon C. Stewart, former real man(1966-1985) now looking to real doctors for treatment and the EPA and FDA for real  environmental protection in America, March 4, 2017.

 

 

Pledging Allegiance

Yesterday an email from MoveOn invited me to host a gathering as part of a national resistance movement to the soon-to-be U.S. Administration. I began to fill out the form, but something didn’t feel right. I’m not a good groupie, but it was more than that.

The article that appeared in my inbox this morning puts its finger on what feels right and what feels wrong with almost everything I seek to do with respect to the specter of losing most everything for which I’ve worked over a lifetime. Thanks to Michael, the psychologist we met last week on The Nation cruise, for sharing this thoughtful piece. In it’s light, I think I’ll fill out the form and plan a candlelight vigil in the town square. No yelling. No screaming. Just a pledge to, and prayers for, the future.

The sections in green were added to this reposting for those who wish to get to what we take away from the commentary.

I Pledge Allegiance to . . .

I pledge allegiance to . . . what?

The Electoral College, to no one’s serious surprise, voted Donald Trump in as the nation’s 45th president, and the pot of outrage in the American spectator democracy begins to boil.

No, no, no, no, no, no, no — no to all his right-wing and idiotic cabinet and Team Trump appointments, no to his conflicts of interest and serial tweets, no to his sexism, his reckless arrogance, his ego, his finger on the nuclear button.

The word of the day is resistance. For instance, Nancy Altman and Ira Lupu, writing at Huffington Post, point out that Trump, though legally the new American president, lacks political legitimacy, thanks to widespread voter suppression, his huge loss in the popular vote and the anachronistic absurdity of the Electoral College; and even more disturbingly, is a thin-skinned, dishonest, immature jerk, utterly lacking the moral authority a national leader must project. These are flaws that cannot be ignored.

“Other elected officials, the media, and the citizenry at large have no obligation to afford him the slightest political respect,” they write. “Rather, the next four years should be a time of resistance and outright obstructionism. Opponents of Trump should be at least as aggressive in challenging the political legitimacy and moral authority of his presidency as Republicans were in disrespecting President Obama, whose political legitimacy and moral authority were beyond reproach.”

Wow, I get it. Don’t let Trump get away with anything! Fight every alt-right and nutcase appointment he tries to make, every racist or reckless policy he tries to implement. Above all, don’t let him shift the paradigm of normal.

There’s only one problem here, and it’s the same problem the Hillary Clinton campaign faced and had no way to overcome. The “old normal” — the Washington consensus, the status quo — that Trump is so successful at selectively mocking, even as he remains utterly enmeshed in it, is a ravenous predator and looming disaster of global proportions.

I pledge allegiance to the United States of War? To the United States of Prisons? To the United States of Poverty and Infrastructure Decay and Contaminated Water?

Indeed, the concept of American exceptionalism ensconced in the old normal and thoughtlessly touted by the corporate media is Trumpesque in its narcissism. And its time is running out. The economy is breaking down for much of the working class and some of our deep, foundational flaws — the racism, the militarism, the environmental exploitation — are getting increasingly difficult to avoid noticing.

The challenge presented by Trump requires something more than resistance. I believe it requires reaching for, and pledging our allegiance to, a much larger, more compassionate and peace-oriented country than the one we have now. It requires pledging allegiance to the planet and the future.

But what does this look like?

Half a century ago, the emerging nation could be seen in the civil rights movement. Today, perhaps the best place to look is Standing Rock, where an old wound, you might say, is insisting on its right to heal.

“What can we learn from their struggle?” Audrea Lim asks in The Nation. “Bombarded for months with tear gas, sound cannons, rubber bullets and water hoses (often in freezing temperatures, no less), the camp at Standing Rock grew from around ten in April to thousands by fall. They transformed what might have otherwise been a remote, invisible, rural struggle into national headline news.”

The struggle, she notes, had blatantly racist origins: “Originally meant to traverse the Missouri River north of Bismarck, city residents complained that it would threaten their municipal water supply, and the pipeline was re-routed to nearer the Standing Rock reservation in September 2014.”

She adds: “It is significant that Bismarck is 92.4 percent white.”

This could have been just one more isolated wrong, but for some reason the national or perhaps global moment was ripe for it to be something else. The struggle for water rights, for the sanctity of the land, for a wounded people’s dignity, sent a tremor through the whole country. Something sacred — to use a risky, old-fashioned word — had been violated. And maybe we’re no longer simply Consumer America, using up our resources, destroying our rivers, clotting our veins, to consequences born only by the racially and culturally marginalized. We used to be, but this is changing.

“We live today at a moment of transition between worlds.”

So writes Charles Eisenstein in The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible. The world that’s giving way — and the story, or mythology, that sustains it — is the world of “survival of the fittest” and winner takes all, the world of domination and conquest, isolation from nature, a dismissal of life itself as less than sacred.

“Today,” writes Eisenstein, “it is increasingly obvious that this was a bubble world built atop massive human suffering and environmental degradation.”

It isn’t merely resistance that will replace the bubble world of exploitation, but a new and deeper consciousness of connection with all of life and a reawakening to what is sacred.

I pledge allegiance to the world that is coming into being.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Robert Koehler

Robert Koehler is an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist and nationally syndicated writer. His new book, Courage Grows Strong at the Wound is now available. Contact him at koehlercw@gmail.com or visit his website at commonwonders.com.

Standing firm @ Standing Rock

Tomorrow, December 5, is a watershed moment.

It’s the government-ordered deadline for the oil pipeline protesters to vacate the federal land where they have camped for water preservation since early 2016.

Today, the eve of the confrontation, several thousand U.S. military veterans are joining the protesters. So is a large group of religious leaders from around the country and world. Why? Because some moments are watershed moments, times when the watershed itself is in danger. Times when the earth cries out, as in the biblical story of Cain and Abel. Times like today when, according to the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, “our Mother Earth is wounded and the future of humanity is in danger.” The People’s conference document continues as follows.

We confront the terminal crisis of a civilizing model that is patriarchal and based on the submission and destruction of human beings and nature that accelerated since the industrial revolution.

The capitalist system has imposed on us a logic of competition, progress and limitless growth. This regime of production and consumption seeks profit without limits, separating human beings from nature and imposing a logic of domination upon nature, transforming everything into commodities: water, earth, the human genome, ancestral cultures, biodiversity, justice, ethics, the rights of peoples, and life itself.

Under capitalism, Mother Earth is converted into a source of raw materials, and human beings into consumers and a means of production, into people that are seen as valuable only for what they own, and not for what they are.

Capitalism requires a powerful military industry for its processes of accumulation and imposition of control over territories and natural resources, suppressing the resistance of the peoples. It is an imperialist system of colonization of the planet.

Tomorrow those who stand firm at Standing Rock face forcible removal, arrest, and violence. In this watershed moment, they will do what America’s First Peoples have always done. They will beat the drums and lift their voices in prayer to the Great Spirit, standing firm at Standing Rock to honor Mother Earth and future generations.

Today, tomorrow, and for years to come, Standing Rock will symbolize the necessary turn from a civilizing model that insists on “man over nature”. A time when we turned to believing we (the human species) are above nature.  A watershed moment when we came to see that water is us. We are water. We are nature. Nature is us.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, December 4, 2016.

 

 

Sierra Club: “#BlackLivesMatter!”

Sierra Club, the nation’s highly respected environmental conservation and preservation non-profit, weighed in on the police killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile this week with this statement by Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune:

“It is impossible to not be outraged by the devastating images of black people being gunned down by police on a shockingly regular basis and it should be impossible to remain silent in the face of this sustained injustice any longer. Sadly, the tragedies that are unfolding before our eyes are just a fraction of the violence that has been happening off camera in our nation for far too long.

“The Sierra Club believes all people deserve a healthy planet with clean air and water, a stable climate and safe communities. That means all people deserve equal protection under the law and the right to a life free of discrimination, hatred and violence. Unfortunately, those aspirations and goals are not a reality in our country, and that is why that is why the Sierra Club stands in solidarity with all of those saying #‎BlackLivesMatter, demanding justice, accountability, and action to confront the racism and inequality that has allowed these tragedies to persist. We can do better and by standing together to work for the changes that are needed, we will.”

The violence on the street and the violence to the environment are cut from the same cloth.

Thanks to Sierra Club’s executive director for making the connection and taking the risks of fallout among purists donors who don’t want the Club to stray outside of its core environmental mission.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, writing from Georgetown, MT, July 8, 2016.

Verse – Night Vision

The rotating blades make the red lights
appear to blink atop the windfarm
electrical generators far in the distance, while In the back yard the lightening bugs flash their need for love.
All our chargers need charging, too.
Electronic lives have been drained
by machines powered by dinosaurs.
Coal miners and oil rig workers
die to supply the energy we covet.
Piles of nuclear wastes surround us
glowing unblinking in the dark.

  • Steve Shoemaker, Urbana, IL, June 6, 2016

Earth Day 2016 – farewell to evergreens

white-spruce-apThe tall White Spruces that add beauty to Village Point Urban Townhomes in Chaska, MN require annual treatment for spider mites. Without early spring treatment the spider mites eventually will kill all the evergreens: the arborvitaes, junipers, and pine trees.

Last week the arborist who treats the association’s evergreens told us what we didn’t want to hear. Because of rising temperature, the Greater Twin Cities Area of Minnesota will no longer be suitable habitation for the evergreens. In five years they will be dead or on their way to becoming a memory of a cooler climate in Minnesota.

It’s one thing to believe that climate change is real. It’s another to learn of a real consequence that drives it home. You have to work really hard at denial!

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, Earth Day, April 22, 2016

 

Pope Francis, Climate Change, and Literacy

Long-time friend Dan Wagner attended the Vatican consultation on climate change at Pope Francis’s invitation in recognition of Dan’s work in global adult literacy education.

Click A Papal Education to learn more about the   link between, poverty, literacy, and action on climate change.

Daniel A. Wagner is UNESCO Chair in Learning and Literacy, Professor of Education at the University of Pennsylvania, and Director of the International Literacy Institute.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, IL, 2015.

A Papal Education by Daniel A. Wagner – Project Syndicate

In September, the UN and Pope Francis both called on the international community to fight poverty and preserve the environment. At the center of these efforts will be education – particularly one goal on which the world is still falling short: literacy.

Source: A Papal Education by Daniel A. Wagner – Project Syndicate

Daniel (“Dan”) Wagner is UNESCO Chair in Learning and Literacy, Professor of Education, and Director of the International Literacy Institute at the University of Pennsylvania, and a long-time friend.

Thanks to Dan’s spouse, Mary Eno, a Ph.D. practicing psychologist in private practice and friend of Kay Stewart since junior high school, for bringing Dan’s article to our attention.