A Warning and Plea to U.S. and World Leaders


http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/03/there-is-little-hope-left-of-keeping-global-temperature-in-the-safe-zone/273860/

http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2013/03/new-hockey-stick-graph-scarier

I saw both of the above-linked articles today.

We Are Toast. Burned toast.

I still believe – though that’s all it is at this point – that we can reverse this. We have done remarkable things in the past. But we have to get on a true global war footing to do so, and we have to date shown no signs of being willing to do so. That must change now.

We think we will survive and die peacefully of old age in our beds while the bees die, the rains stop, the seas rise, the crops fail, and the wildfires rage? Some form of the world will go on without us. Life, of some form, will likely survive even this – though not the forms we love, or not many of them. What environmentalists are really fighting for is not Nature, which will survive us, but a fighting chance for human civilization to continue its journey.

Congress and the President – and the leaders of other industrialized nations, as well – Must Act Now and put us on a war footing. No compromise, no more time wasted.

Forget Keystone XL. We cannot permit that. If the government permits it, the people must prevent it.But the problem is, by all scientific accounts, so much more dire. We must be proactive. We must do more than we believe to be necessary, faster than we believe possible, because we have less time than we thought. Time’s up. We cannot delay another month.

  • We must reduce our emissions of CO2 this year, this month, in real terms, and help China, India, and the EU to do so.
  • We must begin building 4th generation nuclear plants, if we can do so responsibly and safely, decommission all coal plants, and go all in on renewable energy.
  • We must now stop and reverse the exponential growth in the population of humans.
  • We must reforest the nation and the world, beginning this year.
  • We must ground planes and park cars in significant numbers – 20%? 50%? 75%? – without any delay.

We must not wait for anything before acting. No new Earth Summit. No new studies. No economic impact studies. We may already have delayed too long. We must hope we have not. We only have the present in which to act. We are increasingly foreclosing the possibility of a future in which to act.

I do not understand: the President and Congress must have in hand facts that are even more detailed  and disturbing than the information I have linked to above, and what I heard from NASA’s Dr. James Hansen a couple of weeks ago. President Bush’s administration was vilified for ignoring the warnings of Al Qaeda flying planes into buildings. Surely President Obama is receiving dire warnings about the march of climate change. The consequences of ignoring these warnings will make 9/11 look like a minor tragedy in comparison.You and I will live to see the catastrophic effects of inaction. This is a current, not a future problem. We, not our children or grandchildren, are responsible for taking action. We Must Act. Right Now.

Humans have risen to great challenges before. We have shown an enormous capacity for courage, self-sacrifice, and vision. We have developed the capacity to see farther and deeper, and to make finer measurements, than even scientists a hundred years ago would have imagined. We must now heed the warnings that our long quest for knowledge have brought us. This is our generation’s challenge, and it is greater than any that have come before. We will either respond in a manner worthy of mythic story, or we will twiddle, while all stories and knowledge come to an end in us.

Consider what and who you love, and act with all urgency. Do not wait for others, or for permission. The decision is yours. The lives of those you love depend on what you do right now.

Urgently,

John McAndrew

[To see how to contact your elected officials, go to this link]

We Hit 7 Billion in 2011 – two years early

Fleeing Colorado Wildfires

Texas Drought of 2011

Superstorm Sandy: Not a Thrill Ride. A Disaster

Noon in Beijing. How Can We Think This Has No Consequence For the Planet?

 

Quislings, or an Aikido-Based Eco-Resistance


If we don’t act effectively and convincingly, we will be witnesses to our own oblivion. Life, the planet, and many of its species, will survive even this. Maybe even some of us will. But we are on the cusp of a great loss.

Good morning. Enjoy the beautiful planet, the snow in Northern New Mexico, the festooned trees and puffed-up birds. Life, in every case, is ephemeral, for many causes; some are preventable, some are not. We are coming face-to-face with the death within us. It has always been there, will always be there in one way or another, as with every living thing. It needn’t depress or distress us, except as grief will, for a season, and then it is a natural thing to go on with our lives and enjoy them.

But if, in your everyday life, aware of death, dying, and grief, joy, birth and happiness, you find in yourself a ferocity for a worthy, noble fight, a natural inclination toward preservation of self, family, and the landscape and creatures you love, and you have a sword near at hand, now is a good time to do battle for those things. With others if you can. Alone if you must. The odds are against winning. But most battles are undertaken under threat, without any certainty of winning, but with certainty that many in the battle will die trying.

Even with institutionalized violence against our health and our future bearing down on us, few view this as a real battle to the death. We resemble a woman in an abusive relationship who believes that this is the way the world is, and that she can redeem or reform her tormentor or die trying. Her life is being threatened: “Earl’s Gotta Die.” We’ve been colonized by corporate and governmental powers that are literally killing us and many other species, and we are trying to fine-tune the conditions of our oppression rather than seeking to liberate ourselves.

We have a right not to be harmed, and to use the amount of force – and no more – that ensures that those who mean us harm, and mean to profit from our harm, are stopped. Period.

Happy Human Rights Day.

What Do Rape and Polio Have in Common?


As it turns out, God would rather have you suffer the effects of both.

In Pakistan, half the children were not vaccinated against polio due to the threats of the Taliban.

And in Indiana, the GOP candidate for US Senate, Richard Mourdock, thinks women who become pregnant as a result of a rape must bear the child, whether they want to or not, because it is a gift from God, and apparently you can’t refuse God’s gifts.

Fundamentalism is Fundamentalism.

Gaining Traction


Here it is. One week from right now I will be, I hope, about 60 miles into my 105 mile ride for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in Las Vegas.

I have exceeded my $3000 fundraising goal, which now seems to me to have been pessimistically conservative. (I do that to myself so my head doesn’t get too big. . . actually, I don’t know why I do that.) Sixty five friends and friends of friends donated from $10 to $100, and I had a silent auction and dinner at Joe’s Dining that raised over $1000 of my goal. I’ve made new friends and found all kinds of support in addition to the financial. One friend is even coming to Vegas with her husband to ride 75 miles of the ride with me.

Of the 3000 people riding this ride, around 500 of them will be riding for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. In addition to this, there are triathletes and marathoners participating in other events. It’s a pretty remarkable thing that has been going on year in and year out for a long time. Many of my Albuquerque team members have participated in rides or runs like this before. All of us, I think, have lost friends or family to cancer, or have friends battling it now.

The cliché thing to say is that I’ve received more than I have given. I hope that’s not the case, though I’ve benefitted mightily from the experience of the last three months. The main thing is moving the front in the fight against cancer. But this has given me so much. It’s given me a structure while my life has been chaotic. It’s given me  the pain that accompanies setting and striving for a difficult goal – I hope I will find out next week what it feels like to reach that goal. It must have lowered my cholesterol, and I’ve lost a few pounds, if not the 20 I was hoping for. Finally, I can say that, even in the midst of one of the most difficult years of my life, I have been able to do some good for somebody.

But here’s the real benefit. Since the inception of LLS, 5 year survival rates for blood cancer patients have increased as much as four fold. Statistics are easy to find, but the appeal of this is not, in my opinion, in the numbers, but in the changes to the stories being told. Friends have died from cancers of all kinds. In a few years, those deaths will take on the character of having been “before the new treatments.” Just as people used to die in droves of the onset of appendicitis, but do so no more, there are people living now who would have died ten, twenty, fifty years ago. And the people who live next year, or in the next decade – will it be me? or you? – will have the 500 riders in next week’s ride, among countless others, to thank.

There is still time to donate, and the funds are needed, as always. Please visit my donation page to donate, if you haven’t already – or even if you have.

Republicans, Be Reasonable


The More Things Change, The Less They Stay The Same

It’s important to realize. There are reasons to disagree with Obama and the Dems, and with liberal philosophies. Lots of reasons, from Left and Right.But just because you disagree doesn’t mean you have to subscribe to treating women as dear little things who need to have their most personal decisions made for them; to treating gays and lesbians as second class citizens because of who they love; to treating Muslims and members of other non-Christian faiths with suspicion; to deny the science behind the most dire threat to our and our children’s immediate future in favor of hoping Jesus comes back and bails us out. There are still serious Republicans out there who provide the warp to the Democratic woof, and you can align yourselves with them. But rank and file Republicans should, in the face of complete abdication to fundamentalists by their leaders, speak out about the excesses and irrationality of your party. We need a strong second party, like a body needs opposing muscles.

Michele Bachmann? Sarah Palin? Todd Akin? Really? These are the people you want to lead you? And where, exactly, do you think they are leading? If they were your children’s teachers, you’d pull your kid out of school.

Ms. Ann Thrope Avers


There is a website for an organization that describes itself as follows:

Founded in May, 2008, The American Energy Alliance (“AEA”) is a not-for-profit organization that engages in grassroots public policy advocacy and debate concerning energy and environmental policies.

AEA believes that freely-functioning energy markets provide the most efficient and effective solutions to today’s global energy and environmental challenges and, as such, are critical to the well-being of individuals and society. AEA believes that government policies should be predictable, simple and technology neutral.

That can be paraphrased as, “The status quo works for us. Is there a problem?”

They posted Bill McKibben’s recent letter to members of 350.org, an environmental group devoted to preventing climate change, under the heading

350.org Declares War on Energy and Prosperity

They seem to find McKibben’s letter ludicrous, as it’s the first post on that blog in nearly two years under the heading Can’t Make This Up. I responded as follows (under my pseudonym, Ms. Ann Thrope):

McKibben is absolutely correct, as every scientist involved with climatology well knows. As every farmer knows, or is quickly learning. As everyone with children knows, whether they have the courage to admit it or not.

I never guessed, as I was coming of age in the 60′s and 70′s, that my generation of Americans would be so profoundly averse to change, or be so selfish as to be willing to sacrifice our own children’s future, not to mention the beautiful planet we enjoyed in our childhood, on the altar of convenience and quarterly reports.

We are craven, when we have an opportunity to be epochal heroes.

 

Let’s Not Subsidize This Any More


An oil spill – jet fuel, actually – at least twice the size of the Exxon Valdez spill, allowed to flow into the landscape around Albuquerque over the last 40 years, according to a report at cbsnews.com.

“The spill was first discovered in 1999 when the Air Force noticed a pool of fuel coming up out of the ground at its old aircraft fuel storage center, which dates back to the 1950s. Air Force officials say the fuel was leaking from an underground pipe for at least 40 years as tests on elements in the plume – which contains the cancer-causing Benzyne and other harmful toxins – show it dates back to at least the 1970s.”

40 YEARS???

“A full cleanup plan is due to the state in 2014. But short-term efforts call for increasing the use of so-called soil vapor extraction, or SVE, technology that sucks the fuel from the ground and then burns it off.”

“Cleaning it up” means keeping it out of our water – good – but burning it into our air – very, very bad – without gaining any benefit from it. You’d think someone could find a use for 24 million gallons of jet fuel.

The extraction, storage and use of carbon-based fuel is bad enough for our atmosphere when used as intended. Aren’t we sick of subsidizing the malpractices of this industry and its byproducts? Let’s subsidize something that, if misused, doesn’t turn the landscape and our necessary natural resources – food, air, soil, and water – into something resembling Mordor.

Whooping Cough


Some of you who are recent friends may not know, but I contracted Whooping Cough 5 years ago on a trip to DC. A new report says the disease is now reaching levels not seen in 50 years in the United States.

Young children are particularly at high risk for serious complications.  Schuchat says so far nine babies have died from pertussis this year. . . .

Whooping cough is vaccine preventable, but newborns can’t get the first dose of vaccine until they are 2 months.  Then they need four more vaccinations before they turn 7 to get full protection.  This is why young children are highly dependent on the people close to them to be vaccinated so they don’t pass the disease on to them.

Washington state and Wisconsin have each seen over 3,000 cases already this year.

  • I went to 9 different health care providers before my primary care doctor (who had been out of the country) finally diagnosed me correctly.
  • I lost 25 pounds in one month.
  • I stayed overnight with friends a few times because I didn’t want to die alone. I was a healthy 51 year old male until this, and I thought I was going to die.
  • The Chinese call this the 100 Day Cough. My case lasted about 120 days.
  • I was vaccinated against it as a child. Those vaccines apparently decline in effectiveness over time.

There is a booster vaccine available. Get it, please. You don’t want to go through this.

My understanding is that, once you get it, you are on for the whole ride. Only time will tell if you will beat it or it will beat you. Getting a dose of antibiotics after onset, while it will do nothing for the course of your illness, will make you less contagious to others. Verify this information with your doctor.

Be aware: at least two of the doctors I visited saw me have a coughing fit in their offices, and still did not diagnose me correctly. Staff at an emergency clinic I visited, though not knowing what was wrong, assured me that I was not contagious. As a result of this information, I might have taken fewer precautions and infected friends with a potentially deadly disease. (My friend who picked me up and drove me to the clinic had chronic respiratory problems. Fortunately he insisted that I wear a surgical mask while in the car with him.)

Here is a heart-wrenching recording of a child with whooping cough, so you know what it sounds like. In my case, I would cough so hard my throat would close and stick shut. No air in or out. One doctor gave me an asthma inhaler: it did nothing but give me a panic attack after repeated, futile use. You can find more information about the disease at this web site, or check your favorite medical resource – and your doctor.

Please: for your own sake and the sake of those around you, get your pertussis (Whooping Cough) booster if you have not already done so.

 

#RioFail: Report From the Latest Travesty of an Environmental Summit


News: The Summit at Rio has apparently already failed. Bill McKibben and 350.org are walking out – or sitting in. Hard to say from Twitter.

According to McKibben on Twitter, “@billmckibben Rio draft agreement contains the word “encourage” 50 times, the word “support” 99 times – but “we will” just 5 times. #riofail”

A young woman named Hanna Thomas tweeted, “We have #occupied #Rioplus20! Yay! Got a fistbump from Bill McKibben for my mic check.” This was apparently a Canadian youth Occupy action. Go Canucks!

The question before us is, without leadership, what must we the people do?

The New Mexico Fire: How Big Is It?


Whitewater-Baldy Complex Fire in New Mexico. Photo by Zelie Pollon

The fire called the Whitewater-Baldy Complex has covered 271,000 acres, or 423 square miles.

Whitewater-Baldy Map, June 8, 2012.

These numbers are thrown around until we’re numb. How big is that, anyway? When you see the satellite photos, it’s hard to put it in perspective. Perhaps some comparisons might help.

Rhode Island is about 1545 square miles, so it’s about 27%, or more than a quarter, the size of Rhode Island.

Rhode Island. Google Maps.

How about this: Los Angeles – the city alone, not the entire megalopolis – is 469 square miles, so it’s just a neighborhood or two larger than the Whitewater-Baldy Complex.

Map of Los Angeles. Google Maps.

Phoenix and Nashville are both 474 square miles, so it’s a bit smaller than both of those cities.

San Antonio is 407 square miles. So the fire is larger than all of San Antonio.

San Antonio. Google Maps.

The city of Chicago is 227 square miles in area. So this fire is almost twice the size of Chicago.

  

Washington, D.C. is 61.4 square miles. The Whitewater-Baldy Complex Fire is, therefore, almost 7 times the size of D.C.

      

I say “almost”. But if you add the other half dozen fires that are now burning or – thank the gods for firefighters – nearly extinguished in New Mexico right now, I’m sure we can claim a full seven D.C’s worth of forest fire.

For international comparisons: this fire is the size of

1.23 Berlins

4.2 Edinburghs

8.8 Jerusalems

9.6 Vancouver BC’s

10.3 Parises, and

2,486 Vatican Cities

Perhaps this series of comparisons will help you understand how large this fire is; how much forest has been lost; and how much smoke is in our air, and why New Mexicans, when you see us, look a little shell-shocked, grief-stricken or nervous. This is what drought and climate change mean to us.

firefighters

Honest to God Heroes

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