Weird Winter – Mad March

Courtesy of  and 

One of the most confusing effects of climate change is the increasing incidence of weather extremes, that may include hot, AND cold, snow and rain, wet and dry, drought and flood.

Scientists have been examining this problem intensely over recent years, as Europe, America, and Asia have all been subject to wave after wave of record breaking weather events. Now the picture is coming into focus.

Wade Davis – Tar Sands, Pipelines & Tankers

Courtesy of  

Dr. Wade Davis is Explorer in Residence for the National Geographic Society, Senior Visiting Fellow at the University of Winnipeg and author of The Sacred Headwaters: the fight to save the Stikine, Skeena and Nass.

He spoke at a public forum in Winnipeg Feb. 16, 2012 entitled TAR SANDS, PIPELINES, & TANKERS – a Public Forum on the Enbridge Northern Gateway Proposal.

This event was organized by the Manitoba Eco-Network, Green Action Centre, Climate Change Connection, the Council of Canadians, and the Green Action Committee of the First Unitarian-Universalist Church, with the support of the University of Manitoba’s Global Political Economy Program and the University of Winnipeg.

More Information:
Manitoba Eco-Network – http://mbeconetwork.org

Sandhills

By Callen Harty


Sandhill Cranes Feeding: Photo by Callen Harty

“The crane is wilderness incarnate.”–Aldo Leopold

When I first heard that State Representative Joel Kleefisch was looking to find co-sponsors for a bill to introduce hunting of sandhill cranes in Wisconsin I thought it was a joke. According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website this is a species that was nearly decimated in the 1800′s due to habitat destruction and hunting. Due to the protection provided by a federal migratory bird act in the early 1900′s sandhills have made an incredible comeback and in the last couple decades their population has leveled off and remained fairly steady. Still, while they have made a remarkable comeback I didn’t think it was possible that the proposal was serious.

The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimated a population of 25,000 sandhill cranes in Wisconsin in October, according to a February 1 Chicago Tribune article on the proposal. In a report from the U.S.D.A. there were 78,000 farms in Wisconsin in 2009 and that remained unchanged in 2010. That’s one sandhill crane for every three farms. Though cranes are known to cause damage it doesn’t seem like there are enough of them to cause significant enough crop damage to call for killing them. In addition, the Baraboo-based International Crane Foundation, among others, has been doing studies on a non-toxic repellent to prevent this kind of damage. So why the call for a season on them?

According to Kleefisch cranes cause a tremendous amount of damage to farmers’ crops. They are especially known to forage for newly sprouted corn. But is Kleefisch’s claim accurate? Experts agree that they can do damage to corn crops, but is it an issue here? With the crane population remaining fairly stable over the last couple decades why would there be a sudden spike in crop damage now? Or is that Republicans did not have control of all branches of the state government as they do now? Perhaps it is not as much of an issue as Kleefisch would have us believe. According to United States Department of Agriculture reports from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service there were 58 complaints of crop damage from cranes in Wisconsin in 2004 and 55 in 2006. In the most recent report, from 2010, cranes were not even mentioned, though double-breasted cormorants, feral hogs, and other crop-damaging animals were seen as issues.

Kleefisch’s other claim is that cranes are “the rib-eye of the sky”. When Wisconsin passed a law to open a hunting season on mourning doves, our state symbol of peace, there were also claims that the doves would be good eating. A couple quick Google searches do turn up a significant number of recipes for sandhill crane and mourning dove meat, something that would never have occurred to me prior to hunting seasons being proposed for them, but is it really necessary to add this incredible bird to our diet?

Kleefisch didn’t really say much about the idea of just adding another species for hunters to stalk. Neither the mourning dove or the sandhill crane seem like there would be much sport to killing them. I have walked up to within several yards of both and shot them easily with my camera. It doesn’t seem like much of a sporting challenge. Is Joel Kleefisch that hungry for new taste sensations or new hunting challenges? Is it not enough that according to the Department of Natural Resources we already have hunting seasons on the following?:

  • White-tailed deer
  • Black bear
  • Canada goose
  • Wild turkey
  • Duck (several species)
  • Eastern cottontail rabbit
  • Squirrel (gray and fox)
  • Game birds (pheasant, bobwhite quail, ruffed grouse, sharp-tailed grouse, Hungarian partridge, and crow)
  • Migratory birds (mourning dove and woodcock)
  • Coyote
  • Beaver (trapping only)
  • Mink (trapping only)
  • Muskrat (trapping only)
  • Fox (red and gray)
  • Bobcat
  • Fisher (trapping only)
  • Otter (trapping only)
  • Raccoon
  • Opossum
  • Skunk (hopefully not for food)
  • Weasel
  • Snowshoe hare

I was as surprised to see crows on the list above as I will be to see sandhill cranes added to it. One of the greatest environmentalists ever, Wisconsin native Aldo Leopold, wrote lovingly of sandhill cranes in his seminal work, Sand County Almanac, “When we hear his call we hear no mere bird. We hear the trumpet in the orchestra of evolution.” To me, as well as Leopold, these birds are sacred. Talk of killing them, either for food or sport, is deeply disturbing. It is especially difficult given that widespread hunting almost permanently silenced the trumpeting call of these incredible birds more than a hundred years ago.

My spirit is awakened each spring by two things in particular–the sight of my first robin and the sound of sandhill cranes approaching. There is such an elegance to the way they look, such a primitive calling in their voices. I have listened to that trumpet in evolution’s orchestra and have been spiritually moved by it. I have watched a pair of sandhills conducting their ritual courting dance and was left filled with joy and awe. I have stood close to sandhill cranes and felt connected to nature in a way that nothing else has ever done, with the possible exception of great blue herons, another primitive that I love. One cannot look into those incredible orange eyes without deepening a sense of connectedness with the universe and feeling fuller in one’s human core. This is a species that we can get by without hunting.

Derrick Jensen – Endgame

Courtesy of Antilli’s channel


Derrick Jensen’s endgame (All credits go to Kelly La Bonty and Jim Lockhart from http://www.philosopherseed.org)

Derrick talks about the how and why our current way of living will not last and sooner or later will have to have a fundamental change.

Oil Versus the Future

By Michael Butkus-Bomier

In the 1990’s science fiction TV series Babylon V, created and written by J. Michael Strazynski, a Mimbari (watch the show…?!) named Lennier, played by Bill Mumy, from the old Lost In Space series, tells the space station’s security chief, played by conservative radio talk show host Jerry Doyle, that his Kawasaki racing motorcycle, which has just been assembled by said alien, should not be allowed to run on “liquid hydrocarbon fuels”, as this would seriously pollute the atmosphere, a lesson his home planet of Mimbar learned millennia ago.

Well said, Lennier, but the security chief, named Michael Garibaldi, is mightily disappointed, not only because his pet project has been completed while he wasn’t watching, but also because Lennier has given the cycle a clean, non-combustion power source. Now the bike’s engine will roar through its exhaust pipes no longer.
An apt metaphor for our world economy. We like to hear and feel the noise and the power. As a global economy, we have yet to understand the subtle and transforming power of, well, power itself.

Let us begin with the subject of oil as fuel. Oil, being the liquified remains of millennia’s worth of now-extinct creatures of significant size, is the ultimate non-renewable energy, along with coal, which is the compressed solid remains of the plants, not the animals. Every time we burn through a gallon of gasoline, or diesel, or jet fuel, we are depleting this limited store of precious stuff, just like it was whale oil. Whales are still around, of course, but only because humans discovered they could burn the oil of animals that were already dead, and whose deaths and extinctions they were not responsible for.

If we actually make things out of oil, and everything that is plastic is made of oil (www.priweb.org/ed/pgws/uses/plastic) we at least have something to show for the dead dinos we just consumed. All of these uses, have a time limit on the output side, (oil depletion) and much too long a shelf life on the output side (plastics are almost forever!).

Take the example of an American child’s birthday party. The host child invites seven other kids from various neighborhoods, since school might be close by, but the soccer team, or the science team, or the gaming group is spread around town. So, seven parents will drive each child to this central location, perhaps with siblings to be dropped off elsewhere, but probably just the two of them in each car. Fuel efficiency in transportation

Gifts of various sorts, but most made with plastic, will be purchased and wrapped, birthday cake will be served, perhaps on disposable plastic plates, eaten with disposable plastic utensils, balloons, perhaps latex, but more likely mylar, and drinks, served in plastic, not usually paper, cups will all make their appearance. Look at the oil use of this party. Multiply it times the number of children in the US that might have such a party, then extrapolate this out to the developing nations, and see if we even have enough oil left to fuel and manufacture kids’ parties on a global scale, much less run entire economies. Peak oil

For even the most casual observer of human behavior, it is clear that both as individuals and as a collective, We do not make big, fundamental changes until we absolutely HAVE to. For anyone to be optimistic enough to believe that the global economy can transition from a petroleum/coal basis to a renewable, non-nuclear basis, in an orderly, non-crisis fashion, is the height of naiveté. It should be clear that the wars about oil have only just begun.

As supply begins to dwindle, and prices begin to rise past the point that even the producers want, and average citizens in China, India and Africa see that they have missed their chances to have middle-class individualism delivered to their doorsteps, the real squabbles will begin. Globalism Pushing Middle Class Standard of Living Down to
Third World Levels

China, in their ages-old wisdom culture, knows how to position itself for the future. When it comes down to Oil versus their future, they will have subsidized solar panel and fuel cell manufacturing to the point that they will become the new Energy Power Brokers of Planet Earth. The Obama administration took some mild political heat for the solar panel company in California that went bust after getting some help from the Feds; there was very little reporting as to why they were manufacturing at a price point below their costs. China is WAY out in front on the subsidizing of their future industries. Not only that, their public/private or public-only companies are being bankrolled by the income they get from their massive holdings of US debt. A sweet irony, but also a sour one, perfectly suited to the U.S.-China relationship. So where to go from here…? A good question for any US citizen to ask, and to develop their own opinions about. Here is mine.

The Future needs fewer people everywhere, but especially in the most developed parts of the global economy. These people (read You and Me) consume the most resources. The Future needs more things made from renewable materials, and recycled Everything. Paper packaging MUST replace plastic, as every blister-pak and CD sleeve and shrink-wrapped roll of paper towels ( the ultimate contradiction!) makes the Future a little less, well, possible.

The Middle East petro-monarchies, the African coastal nations, the South American state owners of oil production, and even our even-tempered oil-sand miner friends to the north in Canada will all be subject to forces they cannot spend, battle, dig, drill, or talk their way past.

Burning oil is putting all of the carbon stored in the planet over the last billion years back into the atmosphere in about three hundred years. Thankfully for the other animal species, who are not complicit in their own destruction, as Homo sapiens seems to be, there is a very limited amount of time left for this folly to continue.

As I stated earlier in this essay, humans will not make fundamental changes in their modes of thought and behavior until they are forced to by circumstance and survival. We are about to be tested, since if we do not evolve the required cultural and economic will, the necessary psychological and social strength, our planet’s infrastructure will be consumed and not replaced in enough time to avoid global disruption of, well, everything…New Colonist World Without Oil 

See you next time, with information and opinion about the world of investing, finance, banking and their chief dysfunctional enabler, government as practised in a modern 24-hour  news cycle global fishbowl…

11-11-2111…The Choice Is Ours

By Molly Belt 

Well, here it is: 11-11-11. Of the 11 years we’ve had these kinds of triple number dates and the one more we’ll have next year, for some reason this one seems the most mystical. Add in the full moon, and this once-in-a-century date seems all the more special.

There won’t be an 11-11-11 again for 100 years. November 11, 2111. I can’t help but wonder what the world will be like the next time people write this date. I won’t be around to find out, of course. I’ll never know the answer to that question.

Will the date feel special to those of the 22nd century? Will any of the babies born today be celebrating their 100th birthdays? Will there even be people left? Will the earth still be here, be habitable? Will the people of 2111 be living in some horrible dystopia like those imagined in science fiction? A gray, depressing post-nuclear war world with a few survivors scrambling for subsistence. Will people be fighting for scarce resources, starving on an over populated planet? Will the next people to ponder the cosmic significance of 11-11-11 be living subterranean lives to survive the extreme weather conditions of a planet we didn’t respect in 2011?

Or will, in the next 100 years, people return to respecting and protecting our planet instead of raping and pillaging her resources for profit? Will there be enough for all, so that no one has to suffer deprivation? Will we have learned to share this planet with the animals instead of driving them farther and farther in search of a habitat? Will polar bears still roam the frozen tundra of the North Pole?

I’ll never know, and if the former scenario is what plays out, I’m happy I won’t. But if the sun rises 100 years from now on a world that is cleaner, greener, safer, more equitable than the one the sun set on tonight, I’m sorry I’ll miss it.