Building alliance of progressive groups is rabbi’s life’s work

January 27, 2008

Commentary by Steve Klinger
Commentary by Steve Klinger
Commentary by Steve Klinger

Passionate conservatism?

With all the talk about how to stimulate it, recipe
you’d think that the economy is a giant clitoris. Ben Bernanke may not employ this imagery, look
but the immediate challenge–and the issue bound to replace Iraq and immigration in the presidential race–is how best to get the economy engorged and throbbing again.

–Barbara Ehrenreich (Clitoral Economics)

By Steve Klinger

You’ll forgive me if I’m skeptical about the so-called bipartisan economic stimulus package that is supposed to buy the runaway corporatism known as the U.S. economy a little more time before the excrement hits the propeller.

Really, it’s hard to take seriously an election-year plan that essentially would print $150 billion to give most middle-income families about enough cash to buy a budget big-screen TV and expect that this will perform wonders on the economy – stimulate it into a metaphoric orgasm, or at least avoiding a recession.

One would first have to ask: recession for whom, the Fortune 1000 companies currently being battered on Wall Street or the vast majority of American households that have been squeezed for years now by outsourced manufacturing jobs, an unconscionable healthcare system and the inflationary spiral of rising fuel prices? You’d never know it from the presidential candidate debates, you might not be able to use the textbook definition that requires declining GDP for two consecutive quarters, but I’d submit that an alarming number of Empire-dwellers are already in a recession – or worse. They need a lot more than a rebate check to regain health and hope.

To believe further that the proposed stimulus package would help to any extent in recovering from the subprime mortgage fiasco and housing slump that is only the tip of our collective economic iceberg is nothing short of delusional. In fact, it seems a little like a hospital in equatorial Africa handing out boxes of bandages in the midst of an Ebola or dengue hemorrhagic fever outbreak — i.e., it may delay the debacle, but only until the next shift comes on.

It isn’t necessary to be an economist to understand that Bush-administration policies (“disaster capitalism,” according to Naomi Klein) that not only exploit but increasingly engineer public trauma events to further entrench the moneyed and empowered have exacerbated the critical illness of the patient that is America.

Cut (taxes), spend (on endless wars) and deregulate (banking, utilities, media, environment), and it isn’t long before the corporatist parasites start to devour the host. Just to ease the pain, distract the victim with spectator sports, addictive gadgetry and consumer pyrotechnics and the wretch won’t know what hit him, as long as he keeps getting his various fixes. (I know I’ve digressed from Ehrenreich’s lurid imagery, but that was heading in too graphic a direction, even for this rag.)

So, bring home that big-screen TV, tune in the Super Bowl, or whatever is on by the time the rebates come through, and you won’t worry about the next family illness wiping out your meager savings or your home heading for foreclosure. Spend that $600 each on an iPhone and you’ll be too distracted to care that the trade deficit, the weakening dollar and the burgeoning national debt are lapping at the financial underpinnings of the Empire. Of course since it’s all a pyramid scheme based on endless growth, we can prop it up a while longer if you’ll rush out and spend your rebate while we throw the business sector a few incentives.

In our quick-fix society, all that’s needed is the illusion of prosperity to keep the bears at bay on Wall Street. No need to tackle anything more fundamental, like the cultural model legitimizing perpetual debt as a way of life, or the relentless pillage of the planet. And no obligation to lend a hand to the poor, the unemployed or retirees on Social Security: If they don’t pay taxes they don’t deserve a rebate, and they can’t afford to spend it anyway.

That the Democrats, who hold all the cards, would go along with this pitiful and inequitable band-aid solution just shows how co-opted they are by the corporatism that drives our political system as well as our economy.

In a while it won’t matter, because as soon as we run out of new frontiers for growth and exploitation, the shoeboxes of money needed to buy the big-screen by then won’t power it up anyway, and we’ll have to go back to stimulating each other instead of the economy. By then it will be too late for passionate conservatism, or any other kind.


Commentary by Steve Klinger
Commentary by Steve Klinger

Passionate conservatism?

With all the talk about how to stimulate it, recipe
you’d think that the economy is a giant clitoris. Ben Bernanke may not employ this imagery, look
but the immediate challenge–and the issue bound to replace Iraq and immigration in the presidential race–is how best to get the economy engorged and throbbing again.

–Barbara Ehrenreich (Clitoral Economics)

By Steve Klinger

You’ll forgive me if I’m skeptical about the so-called bipartisan economic stimulus package that is supposed to buy the runaway corporatism known as the U.S. economy a little more time before the excrement hits the propeller.

Really, it’s hard to take seriously an election-year plan that essentially would print $150 billion to give most middle-income families about enough cash to buy a budget big-screen TV and expect that this will perform wonders on the economy – stimulate it into a metaphoric orgasm, or at least avoiding a recession.

One would first have to ask: recession for whom, the Fortune 1000 companies currently being battered on Wall Street or the vast majority of American households that have been squeezed for years now by outsourced manufacturing jobs, an unconscionable healthcare system and the inflationary spiral of rising fuel prices? You’d never know it from the presidential candidate debates, you might not be able to use the textbook definition that requires declining GDP for two consecutive quarters, but I’d submit that an alarming number of Empire-dwellers are already in a recession – or worse. They need a lot more than a rebate check to regain health and hope.

To believe further that the proposed stimulus package would help to any extent in recovering from the subprime mortgage fiasco and housing slump that is only the tip of our collective economic iceberg is nothing short of delusional. In fact, it seems a little like a hospital in equatorial Africa handing out boxes of bandages in the midst of an Ebola or dengue hemorrhagic fever outbreak — i.e., it may delay the debacle, but only until the next shift comes on.

It isn’t necessary to be an economist to understand that Bush-administration policies (“disaster capitalism,” according to Naomi Klein) that not only exploit but increasingly engineer public trauma events to further entrench the moneyed and empowered have exacerbated the critical illness of the patient that is America.

Cut (taxes), spend (on endless wars) and deregulate (banking, utilities, media, environment), and it isn’t long before the corporatist parasites start to devour the host. Just to ease the pain, distract the victim with spectator sports, addictive gadgetry and consumer pyrotechnics and the wretch won’t know what hit him, as long as he keeps getting his various fixes. (I know I’ve digressed from Ehrenreich’s lurid imagery, but that was heading in too graphic a direction, even for this rag.)

So, bring home that big-screen TV, tune in the Super Bowl, or whatever is on by the time the rebates come through, and you won’t worry about the next family illness wiping out your meager savings or your home heading for foreclosure. Spend that $600 each on an iPhone and you’ll be too distracted to care that the trade deficit, the weakening dollar and the burgeoning national debt are lapping at the financial underpinnings of the Empire. Of course since it’s all a pyramid scheme based on endless growth, we can prop it up a while longer if you’ll rush out and spend your rebate while we throw the business sector a few incentives.

In our quick-fix society, all that’s needed is the illusion of prosperity to keep the bears at bay on Wall Street. No need to tackle anything more fundamental, like the cultural model legitimizing perpetual debt as a way of life, or the relentless pillage of the planet. And no obligation to lend a hand to the poor, the unemployed or retirees on Social Security: If they don’t pay taxes they don’t deserve a rebate, and they can’t afford to spend it anyway.

That the Democrats, who hold all the cards, would go along with this pitiful and inequitable band-aid solution just shows how co-opted they are by the corporatism that drives our political system as well as our economy.

In a while it won’t matter, because as soon as we run out of new frontiers for growth and exploitation, the shoeboxes of money needed to buy the big-screen by then won’t power it up anyway, and we’ll have to go back to stimulating each other instead of the economy. By then it will be too late for passionate conservatism, or any other kind.


O SOLAR PIONEERS! (Living Off the Grid—almost)

By Anna Moya Underwood

Direct passive solar heating should be easy. Passive solar (without wires or electricity) is different from active solar, salve which is all about electricity. Many old Mediterranean cultures used direct passive solar heating. The ancient homebuilder’s first hot discovery was to orient his or her small home to the south, online and then to build or carve out a door or other opening to allow the southern sun in. The next discovery was that if one used some form of masonry — stone, adobe, bricks, pounded earth — as walls and floors, the masonry would hold and then release the latent heat of the sun during the night. Even south-facing caves must have been the most desirable! The third ancient idea was to shutter the door or window, or roll a stone in front of the cave opening at night to hold the captured heat inside. These ways of building passed from generation to generation and culture to culture because they worked.

Unfortunately, when we built our modern solar adobe 11 years ago, we made some serious errors in implementing the centuries-old direct passive solar heating. Following is a list of what not to do if you’re thinking about bringing the sun’s winter warmth inside your home to save fossil fuels, whether retro-fitting the home you have, or building new. Fortunately, our sunny New Mexico climate is perfect for keeping yourself warm without burning much gas, oil, or wood in the winter — if you do it right. Often doing it right, and lacking a culture that preserves old ways, demands research and expert advice.

1. While we did correctly orient our home precisely to the south, letting the long axis lie to the east and west, our south windows are too few in number for the size of the house that we’re trying to heat. Our house is 46 x 50, about 2000 square feet interior living space, excluding the thick adobe walls. The actual glazing (windows) square footage for direct solar gain should be, I now know, 7 or 8 percent of the functional floor space. The square footage of our windows is actually 57.5; they should total 70 or 80 square feet to heat even the south half (1000 sq. ft.) of the house. This area is ideally an open room; we do have a kitchen, dining, hobby, and living room without walls. So what happened? The windows were expensive, we thought we could safely reduce their size and cost; the design person I checked with was misinformed.

2. Two of the large windows on the south wall have an “e-film” within them that blocks the sun’s heat. This e-film and windows with it are popular in the South and Southwest because of the intense summer sun, and they are meant to keep houses cooler in the summer. My window salesman, who knew we were building a passive solar, did not understand that they would also keep houses cooler in the winter. For some reason I did not think it through either. It was only when I walked barefoot the first winter where the sunlight fell through the windows on the brick floor that I understood. The floor was warm near the second-hand French doors made with clear glass, and cool in front of the new, e-film windows. Luckily the four old French doors do transmit lots of sunlight and heat.

3. Our dark red brick floor is supposed to be our “heat tank,” one of the mass areas in the home that stores the sun’s energy. But because I am a romantic purist, eager to be living on tierra madre herself, the bricks are not on a concrete slab. My husband pleased me and put the bricks directly on “soil cement,” a magical mixture of soil, water, and powdered cement, tamped down with a compactor. However, without insulation, some of the heat absorbed by bricks goes right into the soil beneath them. A better plan would have been to use a concrete slab under the bricks with rigid styrofoam, gravel, lava rock, or other insulation beneath the slab. Indeed, a dark-painted and waxed concrete slab, with insulation beneath, makes a great heat tank for the sunlight coming through unimpeded windows of the right dimensions!

Even though our flawed direct passive solar heating is only partly effective, it still heats most of the south part of the house on sunny days. Still, we often need a back-up heat source, like a wood stove or other heater at night, when it is really cold. Heavy or insulated curtains over double or single glazed windows will help keep in the heat gained during the day. Triple-glazed windows will also profit from curtains, though not so dramatically.

Another consideration is body comfort. My husband is cold-natured, and at our average sunny indoor south-side temperature of 64 to 68, he is shivering, unless he is sitting right where the sun falls. Long johns under jeans, a sweater and/or a wool shirt keep me comfortable in that range. Everyone’s needs, especially those of children and seniors, are different.

Don’t forget to plan for the hot summers. You’ll need an overhang over your south wall to shade the less welcome summer sun. It passes higher in the sky than during the winter, and you can easily block it if you plan ahead.

If you want to retrofit an existing home with some solar heat, remember there are other ways besides direct solar gain. If your south wall does not have a window, designers can show you surprising ways to create “windows” to get southern sun in your house. Read books, get on the search engines, talk to and e-mail as many people in the field of passive solar energy as you can. The more questions you ask, the more time you spend in research, the fewer costly mistakes you’ll make.



Commentary by Steve Klinger
Commentary by Steve Klinger

Passionate conservatism?

With all the talk about how to stimulate it, recipe
you’d think that the economy is a giant clitoris. Ben Bernanke may not employ this imagery, look
but the immediate challenge–and the issue bound to replace Iraq and immigration in the presidential race–is how best to get the economy engorged and throbbing again.

–Barbara Ehrenreich (Clitoral Economics)

By Steve Klinger

You’ll forgive me if I’m skeptical about the so-called bipartisan economic stimulus package that is supposed to buy the runaway corporatism known as the U.S. economy a little more time before the excrement hits the propeller.

Really, it’s hard to take seriously an election-year plan that essentially would print $150 billion to give most middle-income families about enough cash to buy a budget big-screen TV and expect that this will perform wonders on the economy – stimulate it into a metaphoric orgasm, or at least avoiding a recession.

One would first have to ask: recession for whom, the Fortune 1000 companies currently being battered on Wall Street or the vast majority of American households that have been squeezed for years now by outsourced manufacturing jobs, an unconscionable healthcare system and the inflationary spiral of rising fuel prices? You’d never know it from the presidential candidate debates, you might not be able to use the textbook definition that requires declining GDP for two consecutive quarters, but I’d submit that an alarming number of Empire-dwellers are already in a recession – or worse. They need a lot more than a rebate check to regain health and hope.

To believe further that the proposed stimulus package would help to any extent in recovering from the subprime mortgage fiasco and housing slump that is only the tip of our collective economic iceberg is nothing short of delusional. In fact, it seems a little like a hospital in equatorial Africa handing out boxes of bandages in the midst of an Ebola or dengue hemorrhagic fever outbreak — i.e., it may delay the debacle, but only until the next shift comes on.

It isn’t necessary to be an economist to understand that Bush-administration policies (“disaster capitalism,” according to Naomi Klein) that not only exploit but increasingly engineer public trauma events to further entrench the moneyed and empowered have exacerbated the critical illness of the patient that is America.

Cut (taxes), spend (on endless wars) and deregulate (banking, utilities, media, environment), and it isn’t long before the corporatist parasites start to devour the host. Just to ease the pain, distract the victim with spectator sports, addictive gadgetry and consumer pyrotechnics and the wretch won’t know what hit him, as long as he keeps getting his various fixes. (I know I’ve digressed from Ehrenreich’s lurid imagery, but that was heading in too graphic a direction, even for this rag.)

So, bring home that big-screen TV, tune in the Super Bowl, or whatever is on by the time the rebates come through, and you won’t worry about the next family illness wiping out your meager savings or your home heading for foreclosure. Spend that $600 each on an iPhone and you’ll be too distracted to care that the trade deficit, the weakening dollar and the burgeoning national debt are lapping at the financial underpinnings of the Empire. Of course since it’s all a pyramid scheme based on endless growth, we can prop it up a while longer if you’ll rush out and spend your rebate while we throw the business sector a few incentives.

In our quick-fix society, all that’s needed is the illusion of prosperity to keep the bears at bay on Wall Street. No need to tackle anything more fundamental, like the cultural model legitimizing perpetual debt as a way of life, or the relentless pillage of the planet. And no obligation to lend a hand to the poor, the unemployed or retirees on Social Security: If they don’t pay taxes they don’t deserve a rebate, and they can’t afford to spend it anyway.

That the Democrats, who hold all the cards, would go along with this pitiful and inequitable band-aid solution just shows how co-opted they are by the corporatism that drives our political system as well as our economy.

In a while it won’t matter, because as soon as we run out of new frontiers for growth and exploitation, the shoeboxes of money needed to buy the big-screen by then won’t power it up anyway, and we’ll have to go back to stimulating each other instead of the economy. By then it will be too late for passionate conservatism, or any other kind.


O SOLAR PIONEERS! (Living Off the Grid—almost)

By Anna Moya Underwood

Direct passive solar heating should be easy. Passive solar (without wires or electricity) is different from active solar, salve which is all about electricity. Many old Mediterranean cultures used direct passive solar heating. The ancient homebuilder’s first hot discovery was to orient his or her small home to the south, online and then to build or carve out a door or other opening to allow the southern sun in. The next discovery was that if one used some form of masonry — stone, adobe, bricks, pounded earth — as walls and floors, the masonry would hold and then release the latent heat of the sun during the night. Even south-facing caves must have been the most desirable! The third ancient idea was to shutter the door or window, or roll a stone in front of the cave opening at night to hold the captured heat inside. These ways of building passed from generation to generation and culture to culture because they worked.

Unfortunately, when we built our modern solar adobe 11 years ago, we made some serious errors in implementing the centuries-old direct passive solar heating. Following is a list of what not to do if you’re thinking about bringing the sun’s winter warmth inside your home to save fossil fuels, whether retro-fitting the home you have, or building new. Fortunately, our sunny New Mexico climate is perfect for keeping yourself warm without burning much gas, oil, or wood in the winter — if you do it right. Often doing it right, and lacking a culture that preserves old ways, demands research and expert advice.

1. While we did correctly orient our home precisely to the south, letting the long axis lie to the east and west, our south windows are too few in number for the size of the house that we’re trying to heat. Our house is 46 x 50, about 2000 square feet interior living space, excluding the thick adobe walls. The actual glazing (windows) square footage for direct solar gain should be, I now know, 7 or 8 percent of the functional floor space. The square footage of our windows is actually 57.5; they should total 70 or 80 square feet to heat even the south half (1000 sq. ft.) of the house. This area is ideally an open room; we do have a kitchen, dining, hobby, and living room without walls. So what happened? The windows were expensive, we thought we could safely reduce their size and cost; the design person I checked with was misinformed.

2. Two of the large windows on the south wall have an “e-film” within them that blocks the sun’s heat. This e-film and windows with it are popular in the South and Southwest because of the intense summer sun, and they are meant to keep houses cooler in the summer. My window salesman, who knew we were building a passive solar, did not understand that they would also keep houses cooler in the winter. For some reason I did not think it through either. It was only when I walked barefoot the first winter where the sunlight fell through the windows on the brick floor that I understood. The floor was warm near the second-hand French doors made with clear glass, and cool in front of the new, e-film windows. Luckily the four old French doors do transmit lots of sunlight and heat.

3. Our dark red brick floor is supposed to be our “heat tank,” one of the mass areas in the home that stores the sun’s energy. But because I am a romantic purist, eager to be living on tierra madre herself, the bricks are not on a concrete slab. My husband pleased me and put the bricks directly on “soil cement,” a magical mixture of soil, water, and powdered cement, tamped down with a compactor. However, without insulation, some of the heat absorbed by bricks goes right into the soil beneath them. A better plan would have been to use a concrete slab under the bricks with rigid styrofoam, gravel, lava rock, or other insulation beneath the slab. Indeed, a dark-painted and waxed concrete slab, with insulation beneath, makes a great heat tank for the sunlight coming through unimpeded windows of the right dimensions!

Even though our flawed direct passive solar heating is only partly effective, it still heats most of the south part of the house on sunny days. Still, we often need a back-up heat source, like a wood stove or other heater at night, when it is really cold. Heavy or insulated curtains over double or single glazed windows will help keep in the heat gained during the day. Triple-glazed windows will also profit from curtains, though not so dramatically.

Another consideration is body comfort. My husband is cold-natured, and at our average sunny indoor south-side temperature of 64 to 68, he is shivering, unless he is sitting right where the sun falls. Long johns under jeans, a sweater and/or a wool shirt keep me comfortable in that range. Everyone’s needs, especially those of children and seniors, are different.

Don’t forget to plan for the hot summers. You’ll need an overhang over your south wall to shade the less welcome summer sun. It passes higher in the sky than during the winter, and you can easily block it if you plan ahead.

If you want to retrofit an existing home with some solar heat, remember there are other ways besides direct solar gain. If your south wall does not have a window, designers can show you surprising ways to create “windows” to get southern sun in your house. Read books, get on the search engines, talk to and e-mail as many people in the field of passive solar energy as you can. The more questions you ask, the more time you spend in research, the fewer costly mistakes you’ll make.



O SOLAR PIONEERS! (Living Off the Grid—almost)

By Anna Moya Underwood

Direct passive solar heating should be easy. Passive solar (without wires or electricity) is different from active solar, salve which is all about electricity. Many old Mediterranean cultures used direct passive solar heating. The ancient homebuilder’s first hot discovery was to orient his or her small home to the south, online and then to build or carve out a door or other opening to allow the southern sun in. The next discovery was that if one used some form of masonry — stone, adobe, bricks, pounded earth — as walls and floors, the masonry would hold and then release the latent heat of the sun during the night. Even south-facing caves must have been the most desirable! The third ancient idea was to shutter the door or window, or roll a stone in front of the cave opening at night to hold the captured heat inside. These ways of building passed from generation to generation and culture to culture because they worked.

Unfortunately, when we built our modern solar adobe 11 years ago, we made some serious errors in implementing the centuries-old direct passive solar heating. Following is a list of what not to do if you’re thinking about bringing the sun’s winter warmth inside your home to save fossil fuels, whether retro-fitting the home you have, or building new. Fortunately, our sunny New Mexico climate is perfect for keeping yourself warm without burning much gas, oil, or wood in the winter — if you do it right. Often doing it right, and lacking a culture that preserves old ways, demands research and expert advice.

1. While we did correctly orient our home precisely to the south, letting the long axis lie to the east and west, our south windows are too few in number for the size of the house that we’re trying to heat. Our house is 46 x 50, about 2000 square feet interior living space, excluding the thick adobe walls. The actual glazing (windows) square footage for direct solar gain should be, I now know, 7 or 8 percent of the functional floor space. The square footage of our windows is actually 57.5; they should total 70 or 80 square feet to heat even the south half (1000 sq. ft.) of the house. This area is ideally an open room; we do have a kitchen, dining, hobby, and living room without walls. So what happened? The windows were expensive, we thought we could safely reduce their size and cost; the design person I checked with was misinformed.

2. Two of the large windows on the south wall have an “e-film” within them that blocks the sun’s heat. This e-film and windows with it are popular in the South and Southwest because of the intense summer sun, and they are meant to keep houses cooler in the summer. My window salesman, who knew we were building a passive solar, did not understand that they would also keep houses cooler in the winter. For some reason I did not think it through either. It was only when I walked barefoot the first winter where the sunlight fell through the windows on the brick floor that I understood. The floor was warm near the second-hand French doors made with clear glass, and cool in front of the new, e-film windows. Luckily the four old French doors do transmit lots of sunlight and heat.

3. Our dark red brick floor is supposed to be our “heat tank,” one of the mass areas in the home that stores the sun’s energy. But because I am a romantic purist, eager to be living on tierra madre herself, the bricks are not on a concrete slab. My husband pleased me and put the bricks directly on “soil cement,” a magical mixture of soil, water, and powdered cement, tamped down with a compactor. However, without insulation, some of the heat absorbed by bricks goes right into the soil beneath them. A better plan would have been to use a concrete slab under the bricks with rigid styrofoam, gravel, lava rock, or other insulation beneath the slab. Indeed, a dark-painted and waxed concrete slab, with insulation beneath, makes a great heat tank for the sunlight coming through unimpeded windows of the right dimensions!

Even though our flawed direct passive solar heating is only partly effective, it still heats most of the south part of the house on sunny days. Still, we often need a back-up heat source, like a wood stove or other heater at night, when it is really cold. Heavy or insulated curtains over double or single glazed windows will help keep in the heat gained during the day. Triple-glazed windows will also profit from curtains, though not so dramatically.

Another consideration is body comfort. My husband is cold-natured, and at our average sunny indoor south-side temperature of 64 to 68, he is shivering, unless he is sitting right where the sun falls. Long johns under jeans, a sweater and/or a wool shirt keep me comfortable in that range. Everyone’s needs, especially those of children and seniors, are different.

Don’t forget to plan for the hot summers. You’ll need an overhang over your south wall to shade the less welcome summer sun. It passes higher in the sky than during the winter, and you can easily block it if you plan ahead.

If you want to retrofit an existing home with some solar heat, remember there are other ways besides direct solar gain. If your south wall does not have a window, designers can show you surprising ways to create “windows” to get southern sun in your house. Read books, get on the search engines, talk to and e-mail as many people in the field of passive solar energy as you can. The more questions you ask, the more time you spend in research, the fewer costly mistakes you’ll make.



 

destroyed home

By Neil Harvey

The threat of violent eviction continues to hang over Lomas del Poleo in Ciudad Juárez. A second forum on the land dispute in this poor neighborhood of western Juárez was again frustrated last Dec. 1. Events since then have only escalated the climate of fear that residents must live with every day. This area is located in the middle of proposed new border development plans that include the creation of a bi-national city on the New Mexico border at Santa Teresa and San Jerónimo, geriatrician
and the construction of a new port of entry at Sunland Park and Anapra.

Although supporters of these plans argue that the new investment will boost trade and employment, they are not considering the negative impacts on people who will be displaced as a result. The most urgent case is Lomas del Poleo, where the powerful Zaragosa family is claiming legal ownership against residents who have lived on the same land for over 30 years. The Mexican agrarian court has still to pass a final ruling, but in the meantime the pressure on residents to leave has intensified. Support for the residents has come from community groups on both sides of the border, as local people begin to see the connections between development plans as well as to protest the use of force. (The history of this dispute was described in a previous article in Grassroots Press, Nov.-Dec. 2007, including the claims by Lomas residents that Zaragosas’ guards are responsible for the demolition of more than 40 homes and the deaths of two men and two children during the past four years.)

At the second forum in Lomas del Poleo on Dec. 1, participants were prevented by armed gang members from getting close to the area where the forum was scheduled. About 60 young men, some with dogs and baseball bats, blocked the road leading in to Lomas del Poleo. The forum convened on the same road, and several participants began with the reading of poetry amid the shouts of the Zaragosa guards a few feet away. The organizers asked the municipal police to remove the blockade of the road, but the officer claimed that he had to wait for his boss to give orders and that he was not in the area. The police never opened up the roadway and the forum reconvened at a safer distance, where community members denounced the situation of hostility and denial of free transit.

Although the forum failed to meet in the way supporters had hoped, the experience was important in that it gave further impetus to the cross-border organizing that had begun earlier in the fall. For example, an initial meeting of activists from southern New Mexico, El Paso and Ciudad Juárez was held in Las Cruces in mid-December. In New Mexico, concern over the creation of new Tax Increment Development District (TIDD) in Santa Teresa was sparked by the potential diversion of tax revenues in Doña Ana County to fund a private development plan of the Verde Realty group. Verde is the same group that is proposing to redevelop the historic Segundo Barrio district of El Paso, a plan opposed by many residents who fear loss of their homes to big box retail outlets and expensive apartment complexes.

Verde’s goal of establishing two industrial parks and a residential area at Santa Teresa are part of a regional plan that includes development of the San Jerónimo area across from Santa Teresa. The owner of the land in San Jerónimo, Eloy Vallina, also sits on the board of Verde Group. These bi-national alliances are supported by politicians on both sides, but they ignore the displacement of people in Lomas del Poleo and Segundo Barrio, as well as the potential drain on resources for communities in southern New Mexico, where the needs of low-income colonias should remain a high priority.

The most urgent problem continues to be the threats against residents in Lomas del Poleo. On Jan. 4, guards working for the Zaragosas were accused by residents of stealing cable and fencing wire from their homes. When one woman protested she was struck with tree branches from the back of a truck, residents said. When the police arrived, they took her husband in for questioning. He was later released, but the situation remains tense with fear of further attacks in the near future.

In response, a bi-national protest was held on Jan. 14, with participants holding up

the letters that spelled out the name of Lomas de Poleo at the Mexican consulate in El Paso and the name of Segundo Barrio at the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juárez. Informational flyers were also distributed and formal letters of protest were submitted at each consulate.

Although the crisis in Lomas del Poleo has not subsided, the recent forums and protests have brought a new level of attention and awareness of not only the land dispute in Juárez, but also the connections to regional development of the U.S. – Mexico border. Future meetings are scheduled for Feb. 13, 6-8 p.m. at the Autonomous University of Ciudad Juárez, and for Feb. 19, 6-8 p.m. at the El Paso Community College. In Las Cruces, a group of concerned citizens is also planning a public forum tentatively called “Rethinking Progress: Community Perspectives on Border Development,” to be held in late April. Further information, updates and recent, excellent articles by Debbie Nathan and Pulitzer-prize winner Eileen Welsome can be found at the website of the Paso del Sur group at www.pasodelsur.com

Neil Harvey is director of the Center for Latin American and Border Studies, New Mexico State University. He can be reached at nharvey@nmsu.edu

 


Commentary by Steve Klinger
Commentary by Steve Klinger

Passionate conservatism?

With all the talk about how to stimulate it, recipe
you’d think that the economy is a giant clitoris. Ben Bernanke may not employ this imagery, look
but the immediate challenge–and the issue bound to replace Iraq and immigration in the presidential race–is how best to get the economy engorged and throbbing again.

–Barbara Ehrenreich (Clitoral Economics)

By Steve Klinger

You’ll forgive me if I’m skeptical about the so-called bipartisan economic stimulus package that is supposed to buy the runaway corporatism known as the U.S. economy a little more time before the excrement hits the propeller.

Really, it’s hard to take seriously an election-year plan that essentially would print $150 billion to give most middle-income families about enough cash to buy a budget big-screen TV and expect that this will perform wonders on the economy – stimulate it into a metaphoric orgasm, or at least avoiding a recession.

One would first have to ask: recession for whom, the Fortune 1000 companies currently being battered on Wall Street or the vast majority of American households that have been squeezed for years now by outsourced manufacturing jobs, an unconscionable healthcare system and the inflationary spiral of rising fuel prices? You’d never know it from the presidential candidate debates, you might not be able to use the textbook definition that requires declining GDP for two consecutive quarters, but I’d submit that an alarming number of Empire-dwellers are already in a recession – or worse. They need a lot more than a rebate check to regain health and hope.

To believe further that the proposed stimulus package would help to any extent in recovering from the subprime mortgage fiasco and housing slump that is only the tip of our collective economic iceberg is nothing short of delusional. In fact, it seems a little like a hospital in equatorial Africa handing out boxes of bandages in the midst of an Ebola or dengue hemorrhagic fever outbreak — i.e., it may delay the debacle, but only until the next shift comes on.

It isn’t necessary to be an economist to understand that Bush-administration policies (“disaster capitalism,” according to Naomi Klein) that not only exploit but increasingly engineer public trauma events to further entrench the moneyed and empowered have exacerbated the critical illness of the patient that is America.

Cut (taxes), spend (on endless wars) and deregulate (banking, utilities, media, environment), and it isn’t long before the corporatist parasites start to devour the host. Just to ease the pain, distract the victim with spectator sports, addictive gadgetry and consumer pyrotechnics and the wretch won’t know what hit him, as long as he keeps getting his various fixes. (I know I’ve digressed from Ehrenreich’s lurid imagery, but that was heading in too graphic a direction, even for this rag.)

So, bring home that big-screen TV, tune in the Super Bowl, or whatever is on by the time the rebates come through, and you won’t worry about the next family illness wiping out your meager savings or your home heading for foreclosure. Spend that $600 each on an iPhone and you’ll be too distracted to care that the trade deficit, the weakening dollar and the burgeoning national debt are lapping at the financial underpinnings of the Empire. Of course since it’s all a pyramid scheme based on endless growth, we can prop it up a while longer if you’ll rush out and spend your rebate while we throw the business sector a few incentives.

In our quick-fix society, all that’s needed is the illusion of prosperity to keep the bears at bay on Wall Street. No need to tackle anything more fundamental, like the cultural model legitimizing perpetual debt as a way of life, or the relentless pillage of the planet. And no obligation to lend a hand to the poor, the unemployed or retirees on Social Security: If they don’t pay taxes they don’t deserve a rebate, and they can’t afford to spend it anyway.

That the Democrats, who hold all the cards, would go along with this pitiful and inequitable band-aid solution just shows how co-opted they are by the corporatism that drives our political system as well as our economy.

In a while it won’t matter, because as soon as we run out of new frontiers for growth and exploitation, the shoeboxes of money needed to buy the big-screen by then won’t power it up anyway, and we’ll have to go back to stimulating each other instead of the economy. By then it will be too late for passionate conservatism, or any other kind.


O SOLAR PIONEERS! (Living Off the Grid—almost)

By Anna Moya Underwood

Direct passive solar heating should be easy. Passive solar (without wires or electricity) is different from active solar, salve which is all about electricity. Many old Mediterranean cultures used direct passive solar heating. The ancient homebuilder’s first hot discovery was to orient his or her small home to the south, online and then to build or carve out a door or other opening to allow the southern sun in. The next discovery was that if one used some form of masonry — stone, adobe, bricks, pounded earth — as walls and floors, the masonry would hold and then release the latent heat of the sun during the night. Even south-facing caves must have been the most desirable! The third ancient idea was to shutter the door or window, or roll a stone in front of the cave opening at night to hold the captured heat inside. These ways of building passed from generation to generation and culture to culture because they worked.

Unfortunately, when we built our modern solar adobe 11 years ago, we made some serious errors in implementing the centuries-old direct passive solar heating. Following is a list of what not to do if you’re thinking about bringing the sun’s winter warmth inside your home to save fossil fuels, whether retro-fitting the home you have, or building new. Fortunately, our sunny New Mexico climate is perfect for keeping yourself warm without burning much gas, oil, or wood in the winter — if you do it right. Often doing it right, and lacking a culture that preserves old ways, demands research and expert advice.

1. While we did correctly orient our home precisely to the south, letting the long axis lie to the east and west, our south windows are too few in number for the size of the house that we’re trying to heat. Our house is 46 x 50, about 2000 square feet interior living space, excluding the thick adobe walls. The actual glazing (windows) square footage for direct solar gain should be, I now know, 7 or 8 percent of the functional floor space. The square footage of our windows is actually 57.5; they should total 70 or 80 square feet to heat even the south half (1000 sq. ft.) of the house. This area is ideally an open room; we do have a kitchen, dining, hobby, and living room without walls. So what happened? The windows were expensive, we thought we could safely reduce their size and cost; the design person I checked with was misinformed.

2. Two of the large windows on the south wall have an “e-film” within them that blocks the sun’s heat. This e-film and windows with it are popular in the South and Southwest because of the intense summer sun, and they are meant to keep houses cooler in the summer. My window salesman, who knew we were building a passive solar, did not understand that they would also keep houses cooler in the winter. For some reason I did not think it through either. It was only when I walked barefoot the first winter where the sunlight fell through the windows on the brick floor that I understood. The floor was warm near the second-hand French doors made with clear glass, and cool in front of the new, e-film windows. Luckily the four old French doors do transmit lots of sunlight and heat.

3. Our dark red brick floor is supposed to be our “heat tank,” one of the mass areas in the home that stores the sun’s energy. But because I am a romantic purist, eager to be living on tierra madre herself, the bricks are not on a concrete slab. My husband pleased me and put the bricks directly on “soil cement,” a magical mixture of soil, water, and powdered cement, tamped down with a compactor. However, without insulation, some of the heat absorbed by bricks goes right into the soil beneath them. A better plan would have been to use a concrete slab under the bricks with rigid styrofoam, gravel, lava rock, or other insulation beneath the slab. Indeed, a dark-painted and waxed concrete slab, with insulation beneath, makes a great heat tank for the sunlight coming through unimpeded windows of the right dimensions!

Even though our flawed direct passive solar heating is only partly effective, it still heats most of the south part of the house on sunny days. Still, we often need a back-up heat source, like a wood stove or other heater at night, when it is really cold. Heavy or insulated curtains over double or single glazed windows will help keep in the heat gained during the day. Triple-glazed windows will also profit from curtains, though not so dramatically.

Another consideration is body comfort. My husband is cold-natured, and at our average sunny indoor south-side temperature of 64 to 68, he is shivering, unless he is sitting right where the sun falls. Long johns under jeans, a sweater and/or a wool shirt keep me comfortable in that range. Everyone’s needs, especially those of children and seniors, are different.

Don’t forget to plan for the hot summers. You’ll need an overhang over your south wall to shade the less welcome summer sun. It passes higher in the sky than during the winter, and you can easily block it if you plan ahead.

If you want to retrofit an existing home with some solar heat, remember there are other ways besides direct solar gain. If your south wall does not have a window, designers can show you surprising ways to create “windows” to get southern sun in your house. Read books, get on the search engines, talk to and e-mail as many people in the field of passive solar energy as you can. The more questions you ask, the more time you spend in research, the fewer costly mistakes you’ll make.



O SOLAR PIONEERS! (Living Off the Grid—almost)

By Anna Moya Underwood

Direct passive solar heating should be easy. Passive solar (without wires or electricity) is different from active solar, salve which is all about electricity. Many old Mediterranean cultures used direct passive solar heating. The ancient homebuilder’s first hot discovery was to orient his or her small home to the south, online and then to build or carve out a door or other opening to allow the southern sun in. The next discovery was that if one used some form of masonry — stone, adobe, bricks, pounded earth — as walls and floors, the masonry would hold and then release the latent heat of the sun during the night. Even south-facing caves must have been the most desirable! The third ancient idea was to shutter the door or window, or roll a stone in front of the cave opening at night to hold the captured heat inside. These ways of building passed from generation to generation and culture to culture because they worked.

Unfortunately, when we built our modern solar adobe 11 years ago, we made some serious errors in implementing the centuries-old direct passive solar heating. Following is a list of what not to do if you’re thinking about bringing the sun’s winter warmth inside your home to save fossil fuels, whether retro-fitting the home you have, or building new. Fortunately, our sunny New Mexico climate is perfect for keeping yourself warm without burning much gas, oil, or wood in the winter — if you do it right. Often doing it right, and lacking a culture that preserves old ways, demands research and expert advice.

1. While we did correctly orient our home precisely to the south, letting the long axis lie to the east and west, our south windows are too few in number for the size of the house that we’re trying to heat. Our house is 46 x 50, about 2000 square feet interior living space, excluding the thick adobe walls. The actual glazing (windows) square footage for direct solar gain should be, I now know, 7 or 8 percent of the functional floor space. The square footage of our windows is actually 57.5; they should total 70 or 80 square feet to heat even the south half (1000 sq. ft.) of the house. This area is ideally an open room; we do have a kitchen, dining, hobby, and living room without walls. So what happened? The windows were expensive, we thought we could safely reduce their size and cost; the design person I checked with was misinformed.

2. Two of the large windows on the south wall have an “e-film” within them that blocks the sun’s heat. This e-film and windows with it are popular in the South and Southwest because of the intense summer sun, and they are meant to keep houses cooler in the summer. My window salesman, who knew we were building a passive solar, did not understand that they would also keep houses cooler in the winter. For some reason I did not think it through either. It was only when I walked barefoot the first winter where the sunlight fell through the windows on the brick floor that I understood. The floor was warm near the second-hand French doors made with clear glass, and cool in front of the new, e-film windows. Luckily the four old French doors do transmit lots of sunlight and heat.

3. Our dark red brick floor is supposed to be our “heat tank,” one of the mass areas in the home that stores the sun’s energy. But because I am a romantic purist, eager to be living on tierra madre herself, the bricks are not on a concrete slab. My husband pleased me and put the bricks directly on “soil cement,” a magical mixture of soil, water, and powdered cement, tamped down with a compactor. However, without insulation, some of the heat absorbed by bricks goes right into the soil beneath them. A better plan would have been to use a concrete slab under the bricks with rigid styrofoam, gravel, lava rock, or other insulation beneath the slab. Indeed, a dark-painted and waxed concrete slab, with insulation beneath, makes a great heat tank for the sunlight coming through unimpeded windows of the right dimensions!

Even though our flawed direct passive solar heating is only partly effective, it still heats most of the south part of the house on sunny days. Still, we often need a back-up heat source, like a wood stove or other heater at night, when it is really cold. Heavy or insulated curtains over double or single glazed windows will help keep in the heat gained during the day. Triple-glazed windows will also profit from curtains, though not so dramatically.

Another consideration is body comfort. My husband is cold-natured, and at our average sunny indoor south-side temperature of 64 to 68, he is shivering, unless he is sitting right where the sun falls. Long johns under jeans, a sweater and/or a wool shirt keep me comfortable in that range. Everyone’s needs, especially those of children and seniors, are different.

Don’t forget to plan for the hot summers. You’ll need an overhang over your south wall to shade the less welcome summer sun. It passes higher in the sky than during the winter, and you can easily block it if you plan ahead.

If you want to retrofit an existing home with some solar heat, remember there are other ways besides direct solar gain. If your south wall does not have a window, designers can show you surprising ways to create “windows” to get southern sun in your house. Read books, get on the search engines, talk to and e-mail as many people in the field of passive solar energy as you can. The more questions you ask, the more time you spend in research, the fewer costly mistakes you’ll make.



 

destroyed home

By Neil Harvey

The threat of violent eviction continues to hang over Lomas del Poleo in Ciudad Juárez. A second forum on the land dispute in this poor neighborhood of western Juárez was again frustrated last Dec. 1. Events since then have only escalated the climate of fear that residents must live with every day. This area is located in the middle of proposed new border development plans that include the creation of a bi-national city on the New Mexico border at Santa Teresa and San Jerónimo, geriatrician
and the construction of a new port of entry at Sunland Park and Anapra.

Although supporters of these plans argue that the new investment will boost trade and employment, they are not considering the negative impacts on people who will be displaced as a result. The most urgent case is Lomas del Poleo, where the powerful Zaragosa family is claiming legal ownership against residents who have lived on the same land for over 30 years. The Mexican agrarian court has still to pass a final ruling, but in the meantime the pressure on residents to leave has intensified. Support for the residents has come from community groups on both sides of the border, as local people begin to see the connections between development plans as well as to protest the use of force. (The history of this dispute was described in a previous article in Grassroots Press, Nov.-Dec. 2007, including the claims by Lomas residents that Zaragosas’ guards are responsible for the demolition of more than 40 homes and the deaths of two men and two children during the past four years.)

At the second forum in Lomas del Poleo on Dec. 1, participants were prevented by armed gang members from getting close to the area where the forum was scheduled. About 60 young men, some with dogs and baseball bats, blocked the road leading in to Lomas del Poleo. The forum convened on the same road, and several participants began with the reading of poetry amid the shouts of the Zaragosa guards a few feet away. The organizers asked the municipal police to remove the blockade of the road, but the officer claimed that he had to wait for his boss to give orders and that he was not in the area. The police never opened up the roadway and the forum reconvened at a safer distance, where community members denounced the situation of hostility and denial of free transit.

Although the forum failed to meet in the way supporters had hoped, the experience was important in that it gave further impetus to the cross-border organizing that had begun earlier in the fall. For example, an initial meeting of activists from southern New Mexico, El Paso and Ciudad Juárez was held in Las Cruces in mid-December. In New Mexico, concern over the creation of new Tax Increment Development District (TIDD) in Santa Teresa was sparked by the potential diversion of tax revenues in Doña Ana County to fund a private development plan of the Verde Realty group. Verde is the same group that is proposing to redevelop the historic Segundo Barrio district of El Paso, a plan opposed by many residents who fear loss of their homes to big box retail outlets and expensive apartment complexes.

Verde’s goal of establishing two industrial parks and a residential area at Santa Teresa are part of a regional plan that includes development of the San Jerónimo area across from Santa Teresa. The owner of the land in San Jerónimo, Eloy Vallina, also sits on the board of Verde Group. These bi-national alliances are supported by politicians on both sides, but they ignore the displacement of people in Lomas del Poleo and Segundo Barrio, as well as the potential drain on resources for communities in southern New Mexico, where the needs of low-income colonias should remain a high priority.

The most urgent problem continues to be the threats against residents in Lomas del Poleo. On Jan. 4, guards working for the Zaragosas were accused by residents of stealing cable and fencing wire from their homes. When one woman protested she was struck with tree branches from the back of a truck, residents said. When the police arrived, they took her husband in for questioning. He was later released, but the situation remains tense with fear of further attacks in the near future.

In response, a bi-national protest was held on Jan. 14, with participants holding up

the letters that spelled out the name of Lomas de Poleo at the Mexican consulate in El Paso and the name of Segundo Barrio at the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juárez. Informational flyers were also distributed and formal letters of protest were submitted at each consulate.

Although the crisis in Lomas del Poleo has not subsided, the recent forums and protests have brought a new level of attention and awareness of not only the land dispute in Juárez, but also the connections to regional development of the U.S. – Mexico border. Future meetings are scheduled for Feb. 13, 6-8 p.m. at the Autonomous University of Ciudad Juárez, and for Feb. 19, 6-8 p.m. at the El Paso Community College. In Las Cruces, a group of concerned citizens is also planning a public forum tentatively called “Rethinking Progress: Community Perspectives on Border Development,” to be held in late April. Further information, updates and recent, excellent articles by Debbie Nathan and Pulitzer-prize winner Eileen Welsome can be found at the website of the Paso del Sur group at www.pasodelsur.com

Neil Harvey is director of the Center for Latin American and Border Studies, New Mexico State University. He can be reached at nharvey@nmsu.edu

 


O SOLAR PIONEERS! (Living Off the Grid—almost)

By Anna Moya Underwood

Direct passive solar heating should be easy. Passive solar (without wires or electricity) is different from active solar, salve which is all about electricity. Many old Mediterranean cultures used direct passive solar heating. The ancient homebuilder’s first hot discovery was to orient his or her small home to the south, online and then to build or carve out a door or other opening to allow the southern sun in. The next discovery was that if one used some form of masonry — stone, adobe, bricks, pounded earth — as walls and floors, the masonry would hold and then release the latent heat of the sun during the night. Even south-facing caves must have been the most desirable! The third ancient idea was to shutter the door or window, or roll a stone in front of the cave opening at night to hold the captured heat inside. These ways of building passed from generation to generation and culture to culture because they worked.

Unfortunately, when we built our modern solar adobe 11 years ago, we made some serious errors in implementing the centuries-old direct passive solar heating. Following is a list of what not to do if you’re thinking about bringing the sun’s winter warmth inside your home to save fossil fuels, whether retro-fitting the home you have, or building new. Fortunately, our sunny New Mexico climate is perfect for keeping yourself warm without burning much gas, oil, or wood in the winter — if you do it right. Often doing it right, and lacking a culture that preserves old ways, demands research and expert advice.

1. While we did correctly orient our home precisely to the south, letting the long axis lie to the east and west, our south windows are too few in number for the size of the house that we’re trying to heat. Our house is 46 x 50, about 2000 square feet interior living space, excluding the thick adobe walls. The actual glazing (windows) square footage for direct solar gain should be, I now know, 7 or 8 percent of the functional floor space. The square footage of our windows is actually 57.5; they should total 70 or 80 square feet to heat even the south half (1000 sq. ft.) of the house. This area is ideally an open room; we do have a kitchen, dining, hobby, and living room without walls. So what happened? The windows were expensive, we thought we could safely reduce their size and cost; the design person I checked with was misinformed.

2. Two of the large windows on the south wall have an “e-film” within them that blocks the sun’s heat. This e-film and windows with it are popular in the South and Southwest because of the intense summer sun, and they are meant to keep houses cooler in the summer. My window salesman, who knew we were building a passive solar, did not understand that they would also keep houses cooler in the winter. For some reason I did not think it through either. It was only when I walked barefoot the first winter where the sunlight fell through the windows on the brick floor that I understood. The floor was warm near the second-hand French doors made with clear glass, and cool in front of the new, e-film windows. Luckily the four old French doors do transmit lots of sunlight and heat.

3. Our dark red brick floor is supposed to be our “heat tank,” one of the mass areas in the home that stores the sun’s energy. But because I am a romantic purist, eager to be living on tierra madre herself, the bricks are not on a concrete slab. My husband pleased me and put the bricks directly on “soil cement,” a magical mixture of soil, water, and powdered cement, tamped down with a compactor. However, without insulation, some of the heat absorbed by bricks goes right into the soil beneath them. A better plan would have been to use a concrete slab under the bricks with rigid styrofoam, gravel, lava rock, or other insulation beneath the slab. Indeed, a dark-painted and waxed concrete slab, with insulation beneath, makes a great heat tank for the sunlight coming through unimpeded windows of the right dimensions!

Even though our flawed direct passive solar heating is only partly effective, it still heats most of the south part of the house on sunny days. Still, we often need a back-up heat source, like a wood stove or other heater at night, when it is really cold. Heavy or insulated curtains over double or single glazed windows will help keep in the heat gained during the day. Triple-glazed windows will also profit from curtains, though not so dramatically.

Another consideration is body comfort. My husband is cold-natured, and at our average sunny indoor south-side temperature of 64 to 68, he is shivering, unless he is sitting right where the sun falls. Long johns under jeans, a sweater and/or a wool shirt keep me comfortable in that range. Everyone’s needs, especially those of children and seniors, are different.

Don’t forget to plan for the hot summers. You’ll need an overhang over your south wall to shade the less welcome summer sun. It passes higher in the sky than during the winter, and you can easily block it if you plan ahead.

If you want to retrofit an existing home with some solar heat, remember there are other ways besides direct solar gain. If your south wall does not have a window, designers can show you surprising ways to create “windows” to get southern sun in your house. Read books, get on the search engines, talk to and e-mail as many people in the field of passive solar energy as you can. The more questions you ask, the more time you spend in research, the fewer costly mistakes you’ll make.



 

destroyed home

By Neil Harvey

The threat of violent eviction continues to hang over Lomas del Poleo in Ciudad Juárez. A second forum on the land dispute in this poor neighborhood of western Juárez was again frustrated last Dec. 1. Events since then have only escalated the climate of fear that residents must live with every day. This area is located in the middle of proposed new border development plans that include the creation of a bi-national city on the New Mexico border at Santa Teresa and San Jerónimo, geriatrician
and the construction of a new port of entry at Sunland Park and Anapra.

Although supporters of these plans argue that the new investment will boost trade and employment, they are not considering the negative impacts on people who will be displaced as a result. The most urgent case is Lomas del Poleo, where the powerful Zaragosa family is claiming legal ownership against residents who have lived on the same land for over 30 years. The Mexican agrarian court has still to pass a final ruling, but in the meantime the pressure on residents to leave has intensified. Support for the residents has come from community groups on both sides of the border, as local people begin to see the connections between development plans as well as to protest the use of force. (The history of this dispute was described in a previous article in Grassroots Press, Nov.-Dec. 2007, including the claims by Lomas residents that Zaragosas’ guards are responsible for the demolition of more than 40 homes and the deaths of two men and two children during the past four years.)

At the second forum in Lomas del Poleo on Dec. 1, participants were prevented by armed gang members from getting close to the area where the forum was scheduled. About 60 young men, some with dogs and baseball bats, blocked the road leading in to Lomas del Poleo. The forum convened on the same road, and several participants began with the reading of poetry amid the shouts of the Zaragosa guards a few feet away. The organizers asked the municipal police to remove the blockade of the road, but the officer claimed that he had to wait for his boss to give orders and that he was not in the area. The police never opened up the roadway and the forum reconvened at a safer distance, where community members denounced the situation of hostility and denial of free transit.

Although the forum failed to meet in the way supporters had hoped, the experience was important in that it gave further impetus to the cross-border organizing that had begun earlier in the fall. For example, an initial meeting of activists from southern New Mexico, El Paso and Ciudad Juárez was held in Las Cruces in mid-December. In New Mexico, concern over the creation of new Tax Increment Development District (TIDD) in Santa Teresa was sparked by the potential diversion of tax revenues in Doña Ana County to fund a private development plan of the Verde Realty group. Verde is the same group that is proposing to redevelop the historic Segundo Barrio district of El Paso, a plan opposed by many residents who fear loss of their homes to big box retail outlets and expensive apartment complexes.

Verde’s goal of establishing two industrial parks and a residential area at Santa Teresa are part of a regional plan that includes development of the San Jerónimo area across from Santa Teresa. The owner of the land in San Jerónimo, Eloy Vallina, also sits on the board of Verde Group. These bi-national alliances are supported by politicians on both sides, but they ignore the displacement of people in Lomas del Poleo and Segundo Barrio, as well as the potential drain on resources for communities in southern New Mexico, where the needs of low-income colonias should remain a high priority.

The most urgent problem continues to be the threats against residents in Lomas del Poleo. On Jan. 4, guards working for the Zaragosas were accused by residents of stealing cable and fencing wire from their homes. When one woman protested she was struck with tree branches from the back of a truck, residents said. When the police arrived, they took her husband in for questioning. He was later released, but the situation remains tense with fear of further attacks in the near future.

In response, a bi-national protest was held on Jan. 14, with participants holding up

the letters that spelled out the name of Lomas de Poleo at the Mexican consulate in El Paso and the name of Segundo Barrio at the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juárez. Informational flyers were also distributed and formal letters of protest were submitted at each consulate.

Although the crisis in Lomas del Poleo has not subsided, the recent forums and protests have brought a new level of attention and awareness of not only the land dispute in Juárez, but also the connections to regional development of the U.S. – Mexico border. Future meetings are scheduled for Feb. 13, 6-8 p.m. at the Autonomous University of Ciudad Juárez, and for Feb. 19, 6-8 p.m. at the El Paso Community College. In Las Cruces, a group of concerned citizens is also planning a public forum tentatively called “Rethinking Progress: Community Perspectives on Border Development,” to be held in late April. Further information, updates and recent, excellent articles by Debbie Nathan and Pulitzer-prize winner Eileen Welsome can be found at the website of the Paso del Sur group at www.pasodelsur.com

Neil Harvey is director of the Center for Latin American and Border Studies, New Mexico State University. He can be reached at nharvey@nmsu.edu

 


By Lauren Ketcham, diet
Environment New Mexico

 

The pollution performance of just a handful of corporations has a dramatic impact on the air we breathe and the climate we will pass on to future generations. General Motors, unhealthy Ford, site
DaimlerChrysler, Toyota, Honda and Nissan are responsible for more than 90 percent of the heat-trapping and smog-forming emissions from new automobiles today. The transportation sector is already the second largest source of carbon dioxide pollution in New Mexico, and the fastest growing source of new emissions.

 

With this in mind, on Nov. 28, the New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board passed tough Clean Car standards to reduce global warming and toxic air emissions from new vehicles sold in New Mexico beginning in Model Year 2011.

 

Despite overwhelming support (more than 2,000 individuals and organizations submitted public comments in favor of the program, while only about 30 comments were filed in opposition), the program is already under attack.

On Dec. 19, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Stephen Johnson announced that he was denying a waiver for California, needed under the Clean Air Act for that state, and by extension all states including New Mexico, to implement the global warming standards portion of the Clean Cars Program.

In making this decision, the EPA has chosen to ignore the science behind global warming, its legal duty and the Clean Air Act. Over the objections from its own legal and technical staff, EPA Administrator Johnson has bowed to political pressure from the automobile industry and its friends in the White House.

Quickly following this decision, New Mexico joined 15 other states that filed a lawsuit against the EPA opposing the decision. Unfortunately, while this works its way through the courts, the public and the planet will suffer from diverted resources and delayed action on climate change due to the federal government standing in the way of state action to address global warming.

 

In the meantime, a handful of state legislators and dealerships have been busy at work filing their own lawsuits. In November, four New Mexico state legislators — Senators Timothy Jennings and John Arthur Smith, and Representatives George Hanosh and Jim Trujillo — and a handful of businesses filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Improvement Board, alleging it lacks the authority to adopt the standards. Although the lawsuit has been dismissed, the parties have signaled their intention to appeal the decision.

 

At the same time, three dealerships — Zangara Dodge in Albuquerque, Auge Sales and Service in Belen and Phil Carrell Chevrolet-Buick in Carlsbad — have filed a complaint in federal court against the Albuquerque Environmental Health Department and the New Mexico Environment Department. The frivolous lawsuit is nearly identical to those filed in two other states (California and Vermont) in which judges determined automakers’ claims were without merit.

 

Automakers — and their friends in D.C. and the New Mexico state Legislature — need to stop litigating and start innovating. The Clean Cars Program is the single biggest step New Mexico and other states can take to reduce global warming from the transportation sector. The auto industry has the technology and the know-how to make cleaner, more efficient vehicles, but they’ve systematically stymied state efforts.

 

Please call the legislators that have filed the lawsuit and tell them to do what’s in the best interest of all New Mexicans and drop their lawsuit against the Clean Cars Program: Rep. Hanosh (Cibola and McKinley counties): 505-287-4451; Rep. Trujillo (Santa Fe County): 505-470-0143; Sen. Jennings (Chaves, Eddy, Lea and Roosevelt counties): 575-623-8331; Sen. Smith (Hidalgo, Luna and Sierra counties): 575-546-4979.

 

For more information, please contact Lauren Ketcham, Environment New Mexico, 505 254-4819, Lauren@environmentnewmexico.org

 


Commentary by Steve Klinger
Commentary by Steve Klinger

Passionate conservatism?

With all the talk about how to stimulate it, recipe
you’d think that the economy is a giant clitoris. Ben Bernanke may not employ this imagery, look
but the immediate challenge–and the issue bound to replace Iraq and immigration in the presidential race–is how best to get the economy engorged and throbbing again.

–Barbara Ehrenreich (Clitoral Economics)

By Steve Klinger

You’ll forgive me if I’m skeptical about the so-called bipartisan economic stimulus package that is supposed to buy the runaway corporatism known as the U.S. economy a little more time before the excrement hits the propeller.

Really, it’s hard to take seriously an election-year plan that essentially would print $150 billion to give most middle-income families about enough cash to buy a budget big-screen TV and expect that this will perform wonders on the economy – stimulate it into a metaphoric orgasm, or at least avoiding a recession.

One would first have to ask: recession for whom, the Fortune 1000 companies currently being battered on Wall Street or the vast majority of American households that have been squeezed for years now by outsourced manufacturing jobs, an unconscionable healthcare system and the inflationary spiral of rising fuel prices? You’d never know it from the presidential candidate debates, you might not be able to use the textbook definition that requires declining GDP for two consecutive quarters, but I’d submit that an alarming number of Empire-dwellers are already in a recession – or worse. They need a lot more than a rebate check to regain health and hope.

To believe further that the proposed stimulus package would help to any extent in recovering from the subprime mortgage fiasco and housing slump that is only the tip of our collective economic iceberg is nothing short of delusional. In fact, it seems a little like a hospital in equatorial Africa handing out boxes of bandages in the midst of an Ebola or dengue hemorrhagic fever outbreak — i.e., it may delay the debacle, but only until the next shift comes on.

It isn’t necessary to be an economist to understand that Bush-administration policies (“disaster capitalism,” according to Naomi Klein) that not only exploit but increasingly engineer public trauma events to further entrench the moneyed and empowered have exacerbated the critical illness of the patient that is America.

Cut (taxes), spend (on endless wars) and deregulate (banking, utilities, media, environment), and it isn’t long before the corporatist parasites start to devour the host. Just to ease the pain, distract the victim with spectator sports, addictive gadgetry and consumer pyrotechnics and the wretch won’t know what hit him, as long as he keeps getting his various fixes. (I know I’ve digressed from Ehrenreich’s lurid imagery, but that was heading in too graphic a direction, even for this rag.)

So, bring home that big-screen TV, tune in the Super Bowl, or whatever is on by the time the rebates come through, and you won’t worry about the next family illness wiping out your meager savings or your home heading for foreclosure. Spend that $600 each on an iPhone and you’ll be too distracted to care that the trade deficit, the weakening dollar and the burgeoning national debt are lapping at the financial underpinnings of the Empire. Of course since it’s all a pyramid scheme based on endless growth, we can prop it up a while longer if you’ll rush out and spend your rebate while we throw the business sector a few incentives.

In our quick-fix society, all that’s needed is the illusion of prosperity to keep the bears at bay on Wall Street. No need to tackle anything more fundamental, like the cultural model legitimizing perpetual debt as a way of life, or the relentless pillage of the planet. And no obligation to lend a hand to the poor, the unemployed or retirees on Social Security: If they don’t pay taxes they don’t deserve a rebate, and they can’t afford to spend it anyway.

That the Democrats, who hold all the cards, would go along with this pitiful and inequitable band-aid solution just shows how co-opted they are by the corporatism that drives our political system as well as our economy.

In a while it won’t matter, because as soon as we run out of new frontiers for growth and exploitation, the shoeboxes of money needed to buy the big-screen by then won’t power it up anyway, and we’ll have to go back to stimulating each other instead of the economy. By then it will be too late for passionate conservatism, or any other kind.


O SOLAR PIONEERS! (Living Off the Grid—almost)

By Anna Moya Underwood

Direct passive solar heating should be easy. Passive solar (without wires or electricity) is different from active solar, salve which is all about electricity. Many old Mediterranean cultures used direct passive solar heating. The ancient homebuilder’s first hot discovery was to orient his or her small home to the south, online and then to build or carve out a door or other opening to allow the southern sun in. The next discovery was that if one used some form of masonry — stone, adobe, bricks, pounded earth — as walls and floors, the masonry would hold and then release the latent heat of the sun during the night. Even south-facing caves must have been the most desirable! The third ancient idea was to shutter the door or window, or roll a stone in front of the cave opening at night to hold the captured heat inside. These ways of building passed from generation to generation and culture to culture because they worked.

Unfortunately, when we built our modern solar adobe 11 years ago, we made some serious errors in implementing the centuries-old direct passive solar heating. Following is a list of what not to do if you’re thinking about bringing the sun’s winter warmth inside your home to save fossil fuels, whether retro-fitting the home you have, or building new. Fortunately, our sunny New Mexico climate is perfect for keeping yourself warm without burning much gas, oil, or wood in the winter — if you do it right. Often doing it right, and lacking a culture that preserves old ways, demands research and expert advice.

1. While we did correctly orient our home precisely to the south, letting the long axis lie to the east and west, our south windows are too few in number for the size of the house that we’re trying to heat. Our house is 46 x 50, about 2000 square feet interior living space, excluding the thick adobe walls. The actual glazing (windows) square footage for direct solar gain should be, I now know, 7 or 8 percent of the functional floor space. The square footage of our windows is actually 57.5; they should total 70 or 80 square feet to heat even the south half (1000 sq. ft.) of the house. This area is ideally an open room; we do have a kitchen, dining, hobby, and living room without walls. So what happened? The windows were expensive, we thought we could safely reduce their size and cost; the design person I checked with was misinformed.

2. Two of the large windows on the south wall have an “e-film” within them that blocks the sun’s heat. This e-film and windows with it are popular in the South and Southwest because of the intense summer sun, and they are meant to keep houses cooler in the summer. My window salesman, who knew we were building a passive solar, did not understand that they would also keep houses cooler in the winter. For some reason I did not think it through either. It was only when I walked barefoot the first winter where the sunlight fell through the windows on the brick floor that I understood. The floor was warm near the second-hand French doors made with clear glass, and cool in front of the new, e-film windows. Luckily the four old French doors do transmit lots of sunlight and heat.

3. Our dark red brick floor is supposed to be our “heat tank,” one of the mass areas in the home that stores the sun’s energy. But because I am a romantic purist, eager to be living on tierra madre herself, the bricks are not on a concrete slab. My husband pleased me and put the bricks directly on “soil cement,” a magical mixture of soil, water, and powdered cement, tamped down with a compactor. However, without insulation, some of the heat absorbed by bricks goes right into the soil beneath them. A better plan would have been to use a concrete slab under the bricks with rigid styrofoam, gravel, lava rock, or other insulation beneath the slab. Indeed, a dark-painted and waxed concrete slab, with insulation beneath, makes a great heat tank for the sunlight coming through unimpeded windows of the right dimensions!

Even though our flawed direct passive solar heating is only partly effective, it still heats most of the south part of the house on sunny days. Still, we often need a back-up heat source, like a wood stove or other heater at night, when it is really cold. Heavy or insulated curtains over double or single glazed windows will help keep in the heat gained during the day. Triple-glazed windows will also profit from curtains, though not so dramatically.

Another consideration is body comfort. My husband is cold-natured, and at our average sunny indoor south-side temperature of 64 to 68, he is shivering, unless he is sitting right where the sun falls. Long johns under jeans, a sweater and/or a wool shirt keep me comfortable in that range. Everyone’s needs, especially those of children and seniors, are different.

Don’t forget to plan for the hot summers. You’ll need an overhang over your south wall to shade the less welcome summer sun. It passes higher in the sky than during the winter, and you can easily block it if you plan ahead.

If you want to retrofit an existing home with some solar heat, remember there are other ways besides direct solar gain. If your south wall does not have a window, designers can show you surprising ways to create “windows” to get southern sun in your house. Read books, get on the search engines, talk to and e-mail as many people in the field of passive solar energy as you can. The more questions you ask, the more time you spend in research, the fewer costly mistakes you’ll make.



O SOLAR PIONEERS! (Living Off the Grid—almost)

By Anna Moya Underwood

Direct passive solar heating should be easy. Passive solar (without wires or electricity) is different from active solar, salve which is all about electricity. Many old Mediterranean cultures used direct passive solar heating. The ancient homebuilder’s first hot discovery was to orient his or her small home to the south, online and then to build or carve out a door or other opening to allow the southern sun in. The next discovery was that if one used some form of masonry — stone, adobe, bricks, pounded earth — as walls and floors, the masonry would hold and then release the latent heat of the sun during the night. Even south-facing caves must have been the most desirable! The third ancient idea was to shutter the door or window, or roll a stone in front of the cave opening at night to hold the captured heat inside. These ways of building passed from generation to generation and culture to culture because they worked.

Unfortunately, when we built our modern solar adobe 11 years ago, we made some serious errors in implementing the centuries-old direct passive solar heating. Following is a list of what not to do if you’re thinking about bringing the sun’s winter warmth inside your home to save fossil fuels, whether retro-fitting the home you have, or building new. Fortunately, our sunny New Mexico climate is perfect for keeping yourself warm without burning much gas, oil, or wood in the winter — if you do it right. Often doing it right, and lacking a culture that preserves old ways, demands research and expert advice.

1. While we did correctly orient our home precisely to the south, letting the long axis lie to the east and west, our south windows are too few in number for the size of the house that we’re trying to heat. Our house is 46 x 50, about 2000 square feet interior living space, excluding the thick adobe walls. The actual glazing (windows) square footage for direct solar gain should be, I now know, 7 or 8 percent of the functional floor space. The square footage of our windows is actually 57.5; they should total 70 or 80 square feet to heat even the south half (1000 sq. ft.) of the house. This area is ideally an open room; we do have a kitchen, dining, hobby, and living room without walls. So what happened? The windows were expensive, we thought we could safely reduce their size and cost; the design person I checked with was misinformed.

2. Two of the large windows on the south wall have an “e-film” within them that blocks the sun’s heat. This e-film and windows with it are popular in the South and Southwest because of the intense summer sun, and they are meant to keep houses cooler in the summer. My window salesman, who knew we were building a passive solar, did not understand that they would also keep houses cooler in the winter. For some reason I did not think it through either. It was only when I walked barefoot the first winter where the sunlight fell through the windows on the brick floor that I understood. The floor was warm near the second-hand French doors made with clear glass, and cool in front of the new, e-film windows. Luckily the four old French doors do transmit lots of sunlight and heat.

3. Our dark red brick floor is supposed to be our “heat tank,” one of the mass areas in the home that stores the sun’s energy. But because I am a romantic purist, eager to be living on tierra madre herself, the bricks are not on a concrete slab. My husband pleased me and put the bricks directly on “soil cement,” a magical mixture of soil, water, and powdered cement, tamped down with a compactor. However, without insulation, some of the heat absorbed by bricks goes right into the soil beneath them. A better plan would have been to use a concrete slab under the bricks with rigid styrofoam, gravel, lava rock, or other insulation beneath the slab. Indeed, a dark-painted and waxed concrete slab, with insulation beneath, makes a great heat tank for the sunlight coming through unimpeded windows of the right dimensions!

Even though our flawed direct passive solar heating is only partly effective, it still heats most of the south part of the house on sunny days. Still, we often need a back-up heat source, like a wood stove or other heater at night, when it is really cold. Heavy or insulated curtains over double or single glazed windows will help keep in the heat gained during the day. Triple-glazed windows will also profit from curtains, though not so dramatically.

Another consideration is body comfort. My husband is cold-natured, and at our average sunny indoor south-side temperature of 64 to 68, he is shivering, unless he is sitting right where the sun falls. Long johns under jeans, a sweater and/or a wool shirt keep me comfortable in that range. Everyone’s needs, especially those of children and seniors, are different.

Don’t forget to plan for the hot summers. You’ll need an overhang over your south wall to shade the less welcome summer sun. It passes higher in the sky than during the winter, and you can easily block it if you plan ahead.

If you want to retrofit an existing home with some solar heat, remember there are other ways besides direct solar gain. If your south wall does not have a window, designers can show you surprising ways to create “windows” to get southern sun in your house. Read books, get on the search engines, talk to and e-mail as many people in the field of passive solar energy as you can. The more questions you ask, the more time you spend in research, the fewer costly mistakes you’ll make.



 

destroyed home

By Neil Harvey

The threat of violent eviction continues to hang over Lomas del Poleo in Ciudad Juárez. A second forum on the land dispute in this poor neighborhood of western Juárez was again frustrated last Dec. 1. Events since then have only escalated the climate of fear that residents must live with every day. This area is located in the middle of proposed new border development plans that include the creation of a bi-national city on the New Mexico border at Santa Teresa and San Jerónimo, geriatrician
and the construction of a new port of entry at Sunland Park and Anapra.

Although supporters of these plans argue that the new investment will boost trade and employment, they are not considering the negative impacts on people who will be displaced as a result. The most urgent case is Lomas del Poleo, where the powerful Zaragosa family is claiming legal ownership against residents who have lived on the same land for over 30 years. The Mexican agrarian court has still to pass a final ruling, but in the meantime the pressure on residents to leave has intensified. Support for the residents has come from community groups on both sides of the border, as local people begin to see the connections between development plans as well as to protest the use of force. (The history of this dispute was described in a previous article in Grassroots Press, Nov.-Dec. 2007, including the claims by Lomas residents that Zaragosas’ guards are responsible for the demolition of more than 40 homes and the deaths of two men and two children during the past four years.)

At the second forum in Lomas del Poleo on Dec. 1, participants were prevented by armed gang members from getting close to the area where the forum was scheduled. About 60 young men, some with dogs and baseball bats, blocked the road leading in to Lomas del Poleo. The forum convened on the same road, and several participants began with the reading of poetry amid the shouts of the Zaragosa guards a few feet away. The organizers asked the municipal police to remove the blockade of the road, but the officer claimed that he had to wait for his boss to give orders and that he was not in the area. The police never opened up the roadway and the forum reconvened at a safer distance, where community members denounced the situation of hostility and denial of free transit.

Although the forum failed to meet in the way supporters had hoped, the experience was important in that it gave further impetus to the cross-border organizing that had begun earlier in the fall. For example, an initial meeting of activists from southern New Mexico, El Paso and Ciudad Juárez was held in Las Cruces in mid-December. In New Mexico, concern over the creation of new Tax Increment Development District (TIDD) in Santa Teresa was sparked by the potential diversion of tax revenues in Doña Ana County to fund a private development plan of the Verde Realty group. Verde is the same group that is proposing to redevelop the historic Segundo Barrio district of El Paso, a plan opposed by many residents who fear loss of their homes to big box retail outlets and expensive apartment complexes.

Verde’s goal of establishing two industrial parks and a residential area at Santa Teresa are part of a regional plan that includes development of the San Jerónimo area across from Santa Teresa. The owner of the land in San Jerónimo, Eloy Vallina, also sits on the board of Verde Group. These bi-national alliances are supported by politicians on both sides, but they ignore the displacement of people in Lomas del Poleo and Segundo Barrio, as well as the potential drain on resources for communities in southern New Mexico, where the needs of low-income colonias should remain a high priority.

The most urgent problem continues to be the threats against residents in Lomas del Poleo. On Jan. 4, guards working for the Zaragosas were accused by residents of stealing cable and fencing wire from their homes. When one woman protested she was struck with tree branches from the back of a truck, residents said. When the police arrived, they took her husband in for questioning. He was later released, but the situation remains tense with fear of further attacks in the near future.

In response, a bi-national protest was held on Jan. 14, with participants holding up

the letters that spelled out the name of Lomas de Poleo at the Mexican consulate in El Paso and the name of Segundo Barrio at the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juárez. Informational flyers were also distributed and formal letters of protest were submitted at each consulate.

Although the crisis in Lomas del Poleo has not subsided, the recent forums and protests have brought a new level of attention and awareness of not only the land dispute in Juárez, but also the connections to regional development of the U.S. – Mexico border. Future meetings are scheduled for Feb. 13, 6-8 p.m. at the Autonomous University of Ciudad Juárez, and for Feb. 19, 6-8 p.m. at the El Paso Community College. In Las Cruces, a group of concerned citizens is also planning a public forum tentatively called “Rethinking Progress: Community Perspectives on Border Development,” to be held in late April. Further information, updates and recent, excellent articles by Debbie Nathan and Pulitzer-prize winner Eileen Welsome can be found at the website of the Paso del Sur group at www.pasodelsur.com

Neil Harvey is director of the Center for Latin American and Border Studies, New Mexico State University. He can be reached at nharvey@nmsu.edu

 


O SOLAR PIONEERS! (Living Off the Grid—almost)

By Anna Moya Underwood

Direct passive solar heating should be easy. Passive solar (without wires or electricity) is different from active solar, salve which is all about electricity. Many old Mediterranean cultures used direct passive solar heating. The ancient homebuilder’s first hot discovery was to orient his or her small home to the south, online and then to build or carve out a door or other opening to allow the southern sun in. The next discovery was that if one used some form of masonry — stone, adobe, bricks, pounded earth — as walls and floors, the masonry would hold and then release the latent heat of the sun during the night. Even south-facing caves must have been the most desirable! The third ancient idea was to shutter the door or window, or roll a stone in front of the cave opening at night to hold the captured heat inside. These ways of building passed from generation to generation and culture to culture because they worked.

Unfortunately, when we built our modern solar adobe 11 years ago, we made some serious errors in implementing the centuries-old direct passive solar heating. Following is a list of what not to do if you’re thinking about bringing the sun’s winter warmth inside your home to save fossil fuels, whether retro-fitting the home you have, or building new. Fortunately, our sunny New Mexico climate is perfect for keeping yourself warm without burning much gas, oil, or wood in the winter — if you do it right. Often doing it right, and lacking a culture that preserves old ways, demands research and expert advice.

1. While we did correctly orient our home precisely to the south, letting the long axis lie to the east and west, our south windows are too few in number for the size of the house that we’re trying to heat. Our house is 46 x 50, about 2000 square feet interior living space, excluding the thick adobe walls. The actual glazing (windows) square footage for direct solar gain should be, I now know, 7 or 8 percent of the functional floor space. The square footage of our windows is actually 57.5; they should total 70 or 80 square feet to heat even the south half (1000 sq. ft.) of the house. This area is ideally an open room; we do have a kitchen, dining, hobby, and living room without walls. So what happened? The windows were expensive, we thought we could safely reduce their size and cost; the design person I checked with was misinformed.

2. Two of the large windows on the south wall have an “e-film” within them that blocks the sun’s heat. This e-film and windows with it are popular in the South and Southwest because of the intense summer sun, and they are meant to keep houses cooler in the summer. My window salesman, who knew we were building a passive solar, did not understand that they would also keep houses cooler in the winter. For some reason I did not think it through either. It was only when I walked barefoot the first winter where the sunlight fell through the windows on the brick floor that I understood. The floor was warm near the second-hand French doors made with clear glass, and cool in front of the new, e-film windows. Luckily the four old French doors do transmit lots of sunlight and heat.

3. Our dark red brick floor is supposed to be our “heat tank,” one of the mass areas in the home that stores the sun’s energy. But because I am a romantic purist, eager to be living on tierra madre herself, the bricks are not on a concrete slab. My husband pleased me and put the bricks directly on “soil cement,” a magical mixture of soil, water, and powdered cement, tamped down with a compactor. However, without insulation, some of the heat absorbed by bricks goes right into the soil beneath them. A better plan would have been to use a concrete slab under the bricks with rigid styrofoam, gravel, lava rock, or other insulation beneath the slab. Indeed, a dark-painted and waxed concrete slab, with insulation beneath, makes a great heat tank for the sunlight coming through unimpeded windows of the right dimensions!

Even though our flawed direct passive solar heating is only partly effective, it still heats most of the south part of the house on sunny days. Still, we often need a back-up heat source, like a wood stove or other heater at night, when it is really cold. Heavy or insulated curtains over double or single glazed windows will help keep in the heat gained during the day. Triple-glazed windows will also profit from curtains, though not so dramatically.

Another consideration is body comfort. My husband is cold-natured, and at our average sunny indoor south-side temperature of 64 to 68, he is shivering, unless he is sitting right where the sun falls. Long johns under jeans, a sweater and/or a wool shirt keep me comfortable in that range. Everyone’s needs, especially those of children and seniors, are different.

Don’t forget to plan for the hot summers. You’ll need an overhang over your south wall to shade the less welcome summer sun. It passes higher in the sky than during the winter, and you can easily block it if you plan ahead.

If you want to retrofit an existing home with some solar heat, remember there are other ways besides direct solar gain. If your south wall does not have a window, designers can show you surprising ways to create “windows” to get southern sun in your house. Read books, get on the search engines, talk to and e-mail as many people in the field of passive solar energy as you can. The more questions you ask, the more time you spend in research, the fewer costly mistakes you’ll make.



 

destroyed home

By Neil Harvey

The threat of violent eviction continues to hang over Lomas del Poleo in Ciudad Juárez. A second forum on the land dispute in this poor neighborhood of western Juárez was again frustrated last Dec. 1. Events since then have only escalated the climate of fear that residents must live with every day. This area is located in the middle of proposed new border development plans that include the creation of a bi-national city on the New Mexico border at Santa Teresa and San Jerónimo, geriatrician
and the construction of a new port of entry at Sunland Park and Anapra.

Although supporters of these plans argue that the new investment will boost trade and employment, they are not considering the negative impacts on people who will be displaced as a result. The most urgent case is Lomas del Poleo, where the powerful Zaragosa family is claiming legal ownership against residents who have lived on the same land for over 30 years. The Mexican agrarian court has still to pass a final ruling, but in the meantime the pressure on residents to leave has intensified. Support for the residents has come from community groups on both sides of the border, as local people begin to see the connections between development plans as well as to protest the use of force. (The history of this dispute was described in a previous article in Grassroots Press, Nov.-Dec. 2007, including the claims by Lomas residents that Zaragosas’ guards are responsible for the demolition of more than 40 homes and the deaths of two men and two children during the past four years.)

At the second forum in Lomas del Poleo on Dec. 1, participants were prevented by armed gang members from getting close to the area where the forum was scheduled. About 60 young men, some with dogs and baseball bats, blocked the road leading in to Lomas del Poleo. The forum convened on the same road, and several participants began with the reading of poetry amid the shouts of the Zaragosa guards a few feet away. The organizers asked the municipal police to remove the blockade of the road, but the officer claimed that he had to wait for his boss to give orders and that he was not in the area. The police never opened up the roadway and the forum reconvened at a safer distance, where community members denounced the situation of hostility and denial of free transit.

Although the forum failed to meet in the way supporters had hoped, the experience was important in that it gave further impetus to the cross-border organizing that had begun earlier in the fall. For example, an initial meeting of activists from southern New Mexico, El Paso and Ciudad Juárez was held in Las Cruces in mid-December. In New Mexico, concern over the creation of new Tax Increment Development District (TIDD) in Santa Teresa was sparked by the potential diversion of tax revenues in Doña Ana County to fund a private development plan of the Verde Realty group. Verde is the same group that is proposing to redevelop the historic Segundo Barrio district of El Paso, a plan opposed by many residents who fear loss of their homes to big box retail outlets and expensive apartment complexes.

Verde’s goal of establishing two industrial parks and a residential area at Santa Teresa are part of a regional plan that includes development of the San Jerónimo area across from Santa Teresa. The owner of the land in San Jerónimo, Eloy Vallina, also sits on the board of Verde Group. These bi-national alliances are supported by politicians on both sides, but they ignore the displacement of people in Lomas del Poleo and Segundo Barrio, as well as the potential drain on resources for communities in southern New Mexico, where the needs of low-income colonias should remain a high priority.

The most urgent problem continues to be the threats against residents in Lomas del Poleo. On Jan. 4, guards working for the Zaragosas were accused by residents of stealing cable and fencing wire from their homes. When one woman protested she was struck with tree branches from the back of a truck, residents said. When the police arrived, they took her husband in for questioning. He was later released, but the situation remains tense with fear of further attacks in the near future.

In response, a bi-national protest was held on Jan. 14, with participants holding up

the letters that spelled out the name of Lomas de Poleo at the Mexican consulate in El Paso and the name of Segundo Barrio at the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juárez. Informational flyers were also distributed and formal letters of protest were submitted at each consulate.

Although the crisis in Lomas del Poleo has not subsided, the recent forums and protests have brought a new level of attention and awareness of not only the land dispute in Juárez, but also the connections to regional development of the U.S. – Mexico border. Future meetings are scheduled for Feb. 13, 6-8 p.m. at the Autonomous University of Ciudad Juárez, and for Feb. 19, 6-8 p.m. at the El Paso Community College. In Las Cruces, a group of concerned citizens is also planning a public forum tentatively called “Rethinking Progress: Community Perspectives on Border Development,” to be held in late April. Further information, updates and recent, excellent articles by Debbie Nathan and Pulitzer-prize winner Eileen Welsome can be found at the website of the Paso del Sur group at www.pasodelsur.com

Neil Harvey is director of the Center for Latin American and Border Studies, New Mexico State University. He can be reached at nharvey@nmsu.edu

 


By Lauren Ketcham, diet
Environment New Mexico

 

The pollution performance of just a handful of corporations has a dramatic impact on the air we breathe and the climate we will pass on to future generations. General Motors, unhealthy Ford, site
DaimlerChrysler, Toyota, Honda and Nissan are responsible for more than 90 percent of the heat-trapping and smog-forming emissions from new automobiles today. The transportation sector is already the second largest source of carbon dioxide pollution in New Mexico, and the fastest growing source of new emissions.

 

With this in mind, on Nov. 28, the New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board passed tough Clean Car standards to reduce global warming and toxic air emissions from new vehicles sold in New Mexico beginning in Model Year 2011.

 

Despite overwhelming support (more than 2,000 individuals and organizations submitted public comments in favor of the program, while only about 30 comments were filed in opposition), the program is already under attack.

On Dec. 19, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Stephen Johnson announced that he was denying a waiver for California, needed under the Clean Air Act for that state, and by extension all states including New Mexico, to implement the global warming standards portion of the Clean Cars Program.

In making this decision, the EPA has chosen to ignore the science behind global warming, its legal duty and the Clean Air Act. Over the objections from its own legal and technical staff, EPA Administrator Johnson has bowed to political pressure from the automobile industry and its friends in the White House.

Quickly following this decision, New Mexico joined 15 other states that filed a lawsuit against the EPA opposing the decision. Unfortunately, while this works its way through the courts, the public and the planet will suffer from diverted resources and delayed action on climate change due to the federal government standing in the way of state action to address global warming.

 

In the meantime, a handful of state legislators and dealerships have been busy at work filing their own lawsuits. In November, four New Mexico state legislators — Senators Timothy Jennings and John Arthur Smith, and Representatives George Hanosh and Jim Trujillo — and a handful of businesses filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Improvement Board, alleging it lacks the authority to adopt the standards. Although the lawsuit has been dismissed, the parties have signaled their intention to appeal the decision.

 

At the same time, three dealerships — Zangara Dodge in Albuquerque, Auge Sales and Service in Belen and Phil Carrell Chevrolet-Buick in Carlsbad — have filed a complaint in federal court against the Albuquerque Environmental Health Department and the New Mexico Environment Department. The frivolous lawsuit is nearly identical to those filed in two other states (California and Vermont) in which judges determined automakers’ claims were without merit.

 

Automakers — and their friends in D.C. and the New Mexico state Legislature — need to stop litigating and start innovating. The Clean Cars Program is the single biggest step New Mexico and other states can take to reduce global warming from the transportation sector. The auto industry has the technology and the know-how to make cleaner, more efficient vehicles, but they’ve systematically stymied state efforts.

 

Please call the legislators that have filed the lawsuit and tell them to do what’s in the best interest of all New Mexicans and drop their lawsuit against the Clean Cars Program: Rep. Hanosh (Cibola and McKinley counties): 505-287-4451; Rep. Trujillo (Santa Fe County): 505-470-0143; Sen. Jennings (Chaves, Eddy, Lea and Roosevelt counties): 575-623-8331; Sen. Smith (Hidalgo, Luna and Sierra counties): 575-546-4979.

 

For more information, please contact Lauren Ketcham, Environment New Mexico, 505 254-4819, Lauren@environmentnewmexico.org

 


O SOLAR PIONEERS! (Living Off the Grid—almost)

By Anna Moya Underwood

Direct passive solar heating should be easy. Passive solar (without wires or electricity) is different from active solar, salve which is all about electricity. Many old Mediterranean cultures used direct passive solar heating. The ancient homebuilder’s first hot discovery was to orient his or her small home to the south, online and then to build or carve out a door or other opening to allow the southern sun in. The next discovery was that if one used some form of masonry — stone, adobe, bricks, pounded earth — as walls and floors, the masonry would hold and then release the latent heat of the sun during the night. Even south-facing caves must have been the most desirable! The third ancient idea was to shutter the door or window, or roll a stone in front of the cave opening at night to hold the captured heat inside. These ways of building passed from generation to generation and culture to culture because they worked.

Unfortunately, when we built our modern solar adobe 11 years ago, we made some serious errors in implementing the centuries-old direct passive solar heating. Following is a list of what not to do if you’re thinking about bringing the sun’s winter warmth inside your home to save fossil fuels, whether retro-fitting the home you have, or building new. Fortunately, our sunny New Mexico climate is perfect for keeping yourself warm without burning much gas, oil, or wood in the winter — if you do it right. Often doing it right, and lacking a culture that preserves old ways, demands research and expert advice.

1. While we did correctly orient our home precisely to the south, letting the long axis lie to the east and west, our south windows are too few in number for the size of the house that we’re trying to heat. Our house is 46 x 50, about 2000 square feet interior living space, excluding the thick adobe walls. The actual glazing (windows) square footage for direct solar gain should be, I now know, 7 or 8 percent of the functional floor space. The square footage of our windows is actually 57.5; they should total 70 or 80 square feet to heat even the south half (1000 sq. ft.) of the house. This area is ideally an open room; we do have a kitchen, dining, hobby, and living room without walls. So what happened? The windows were expensive, we thought we could safely reduce their size and cost; the design person I checked with was misinformed.

2. Two of the large windows on the south wall have an “e-film” within them that blocks the sun’s heat. This e-film and windows with it are popular in the South and Southwest because of the intense summer sun, and they are meant to keep houses cooler in the summer. My window salesman, who knew we were building a passive solar, did not understand that they would also keep houses cooler in the winter. For some reason I did not think it through either. It was only when I walked barefoot the first winter where the sunlight fell through the windows on the brick floor that I understood. The floor was warm near the second-hand French doors made with clear glass, and cool in front of the new, e-film windows. Luckily the four old French doors do transmit lots of sunlight and heat.

3. Our dark red brick floor is supposed to be our “heat tank,” one of the mass areas in the home that stores the sun’s energy. But because I am a romantic purist, eager to be living on tierra madre herself, the bricks are not on a concrete slab. My husband pleased me and put the bricks directly on “soil cement,” a magical mixture of soil, water, and powdered cement, tamped down with a compactor. However, without insulation, some of the heat absorbed by bricks goes right into the soil beneath them. A better plan would have been to use a concrete slab under the bricks with rigid styrofoam, gravel, lava rock, or other insulation beneath the slab. Indeed, a dark-painted and waxed concrete slab, with insulation beneath, makes a great heat tank for the sunlight coming through unimpeded windows of the right dimensions!

Even though our flawed direct passive solar heating is only partly effective, it still heats most of the south part of the house on sunny days. Still, we often need a back-up heat source, like a wood stove or other heater at night, when it is really cold. Heavy or insulated curtains over double or single glazed windows will help keep in the heat gained during the day. Triple-glazed windows will also profit from curtains, though not so dramatically.

Another consideration is body comfort. My husband is cold-natured, and at our average sunny indoor south-side temperature of 64 to 68, he is shivering, unless he is sitting right where the sun falls. Long johns under jeans, a sweater and/or a wool shirt keep me comfortable in that range. Everyone’s needs, especially those of children and seniors, are different.

Don’t forget to plan for the hot summers. You’ll need an overhang over your south wall to shade the less welcome summer sun. It passes higher in the sky than during the winter, and you can easily block it if you plan ahead.

If you want to retrofit an existing home with some solar heat, remember there are other ways besides direct solar gain. If your south wall does not have a window, designers can show you surprising ways to create “windows” to get southern sun in your house. Read books, get on the search engines, talk to and e-mail as many people in the field of passive solar energy as you can. The more questions you ask, the more time you spend in research, the fewer costly mistakes you’ll make.



 

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By Neil Harvey

The threat of violent eviction continues to hang over Lomas del Poleo in Ciudad Juárez. A second forum on the land dispute in this poor neighborhood of western Juárez was again frustrated last Dec. 1. Events since then have only escalated the climate of fear that residents must live with every day. This area is located in the middle of proposed new border development plans that include the creation of a bi-national city on the New Mexico border at Santa Teresa and San Jerónimo, geriatrician
and the construction of a new port of entry at Sunland Park and Anapra.

Although supporters of these plans argue that the new investment will boost trade and employment, they are not considering the negative impacts on people who will be displaced as a result. The most urgent case is Lomas del Poleo, where the powerful Zaragosa family is claiming legal ownership against residents who have lived on the same land for over 30 years. The Mexican agrarian court has still to pass a final ruling, but in the meantime the pressure on residents to leave has intensified. Support for the residents has come from community groups on both sides of the border, as local people begin to see the connections between development plans as well as to protest the use of force. (The history of this dispute was described in a previous article in Grassroots Press, Nov.-Dec. 2007, including the claims by Lomas residents that Zaragosas’ guards are responsible for the demolition of more than 40 homes and the deaths of two men and two children during the past four years.)

At the second forum in Lomas del Poleo on Dec. 1, participants were prevented by armed gang members from getting close to the area where the forum was scheduled. About 60 young men, some with dogs and baseball bats, blocked the road leading in to Lomas del Poleo. The forum convened on the same road, and several participants began with the reading of poetry amid the shouts of the Zaragosa guards a few feet away. The organizers asked the municipal police to remove the blockade of the road, but the officer claimed that he had to wait for his boss to give orders and that he was not in the area. The police never opened up the roadway and the forum reconvened at a safer distance, where community members denounced the situation of hostility and denial of free transit.

Although the forum failed to meet in the way supporters had hoped, the experience was important in that it gave further impetus to the cross-border organizing that had begun earlier in the fall. For example, an initial meeting of activists from southern New Mexico, El Paso and Ciudad Juárez was held in Las Cruces in mid-December. In New Mexico, concern over the creation of new Tax Increment Development District (TIDD) in Santa Teresa was sparked by the potential diversion of tax revenues in Doña Ana County to fund a private development plan of the Verde Realty group. Verde is the same group that is proposing to redevelop the historic Segundo Barrio district of El Paso, a plan opposed by many residents who fear loss of their homes to big box retail outlets and expensive apartment complexes.

Verde’s goal of establishing two industrial parks and a residential area at Santa Teresa are part of a regional plan that includes development of the San Jerónimo area across from Santa Teresa. The owner of the land in San Jerónimo, Eloy Vallina, also sits on the board of Verde Group. These bi-national alliances are supported by politicians on both sides, but they ignore the displacement of people in Lomas del Poleo and Segundo Barrio, as well as the potential drain on resources for communities in southern New Mexico, where the needs of low-income colonias should remain a high priority.

The most urgent problem continues to be the threats against residents in Lomas del Poleo. On Jan. 4, guards working for the Zaragosas were accused by residents of stealing cable and fencing wire from their homes. When one woman protested she was struck with tree branches from the back of a truck, residents said. When the police arrived, they took her husband in for questioning. He was later released, but the situation remains tense with fear of further attacks in the near future.

In response, a bi-national protest was held on Jan. 14, with participants holding up

the letters that spelled out the name of Lomas de Poleo at the Mexican consulate in El Paso and the name of Segundo Barrio at the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juárez. Informational flyers were also distributed and formal letters of protest were submitted at each consulate.

Although the crisis in Lomas del Poleo has not subsided, the recent forums and protests have brought a new level of attention and awareness of not only the land dispute in Juárez, but also the connections to regional development of the U.S. – Mexico border. Future meetings are scheduled for Feb. 13, 6-8 p.m. at the Autonomous University of Ciudad Juárez, and for Feb. 19, 6-8 p.m. at the El Paso Community College. In Las Cruces, a group of concerned citizens is also planning a public forum tentatively called “Rethinking Progress: Community Perspectives on Border Development,” to be held in late April. Further information, updates and recent, excellent articles by Debbie Nathan and Pulitzer-prize winner Eileen Welsome can be found at the website of the Paso del Sur group at www.pasodelsur.com

Neil Harvey is director of the Center for Latin American and Border Studies, New Mexico State University. He can be reached at nharvey@nmsu.edu

 


By Lauren Ketcham, diet
Environment New Mexico

 

The pollution performance of just a handful of corporations has a dramatic impact on the air we breathe and the climate we will pass on to future generations. General Motors, unhealthy Ford, site
DaimlerChrysler, Toyota, Honda and Nissan are responsible for more than 90 percent of the heat-trapping and smog-forming emissions from new automobiles today. The transportation sector is already the second largest source of carbon dioxide pollution in New Mexico, and the fastest growing source of new emissions.

 

With this in mind, on Nov. 28, the New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board passed tough Clean Car standards to reduce global warming and toxic air emissions from new vehicles sold in New Mexico beginning in Model Year 2011.

 

Despite overwhelming support (more than 2,000 individuals and organizations submitted public comments in favor of the program, while only about 30 comments were filed in opposition), the program is already under attack.

On Dec. 19, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Stephen Johnson announced that he was denying a waiver for California, needed under the Clean Air Act for that state, and by extension all states including New Mexico, to implement the global warming standards portion of the Clean Cars Program.

In making this decision, the EPA has chosen to ignore the science behind global warming, its legal duty and the Clean Air Act. Over the objections from its own legal and technical staff, EPA Administrator Johnson has bowed to political pressure from the automobile industry and its friends in the White House.

Quickly following this decision, New Mexico joined 15 other states that filed a lawsuit against the EPA opposing the decision. Unfortunately, while this works its way through the courts, the public and the planet will suffer from diverted resources and delayed action on climate change due to the federal government standing in the way of state action to address global warming.

 

In the meantime, a handful of state legislators and dealerships have been busy at work filing their own lawsuits. In November, four New Mexico state legislators — Senators Timothy Jennings and John Arthur Smith, and Representatives George Hanosh and Jim Trujillo — and a handful of businesses filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Improvement Board, alleging it lacks the authority to adopt the standards. Although the lawsuit has been dismissed, the parties have signaled their intention to appeal the decision.

 

At the same time, three dealerships — Zangara Dodge in Albuquerque, Auge Sales and Service in Belen and Phil Carrell Chevrolet-Buick in Carlsbad — have filed a complaint in federal court against the Albuquerque Environmental Health Department and the New Mexico Environment Department. The frivolous lawsuit is nearly identical to those filed in two other states (California and Vermont) in which judges determined automakers’ claims were without merit.

 

Automakers — and their friends in D.C. and the New Mexico state Legislature — need to stop litigating and start innovating. The Clean Cars Program is the single biggest step New Mexico and other states can take to reduce global warming from the transportation sector. The auto industry has the technology and the know-how to make cleaner, more efficient vehicles, but they’ve systematically stymied state efforts.

 

Please call the legislators that have filed the lawsuit and tell them to do what’s in the best interest of all New Mexicans and drop their lawsuit against the Clean Cars Program: Rep. Hanosh (Cibola and McKinley counties): 505-287-4451; Rep. Trujillo (Santa Fe County): 505-470-0143; Sen. Jennings (Chaves, Eddy, Lea and Roosevelt counties): 575-623-8331; Sen. Smith (Hidalgo, Luna and Sierra counties): 575-546-4979.

 

For more information, please contact Lauren Ketcham, Environment New Mexico, 505 254-4819, Lauren@environmentnewmexico.org

 


By Steve Klinger

With a resounding victory on Jan. 15, online Sharon Thomas took the District 6 seat on City Council, visit
expressing optimism that she can help chart a more progressive course for Las Cruces. Despite some backlash in area media after the November city election that unseated Councilor Jose Frietze and Mayor William Mattiace, voters in Dist. 6 showed that the earlier contest wasn’t a fluke, giving Thomas a 54 percent majority and a better-than-two-to-one advantage over her closest opponent, Karen Trujillo.

After the election, Thomas responded by e-mail to a list of questions from Grassroots Press.

Do you think the mood of voters in Dist. 6 was vigorously in favor of change, putting the brakes on rapid growth, or more a reaction to the specific candidates?

I think the voters in Dist. 6 are ready for the City Council to step up and be leaders in the planning of our community. That was my campaign message, and we consistently received positive reactions. And I don’t think people want to stop growth; they just want the city to plan ahead for the growth we know is coming.

How much can you attribute your victory to hard work and an effective campaign?

I’d like to say that hard work and an effective campaign were key. I believe they were. We worked very hard. Over 90 people volunteered to help in one way or another. We walked both on weekends and during the week. We covered every precinct twice.

Could you enumerate some priorities that you have set for yourself/your district, and also citywide issues you’d like to see the council address?

People in Dist. 6 want to see the Las Cruces Country Club retained as a golf course (public) or made into a park or some combination of those two. They are also concerned about traffic congestion, lack of parks and trails, bike lanes, neighborhood services, public transit, and safe routes to schools. In some areas, residents are concerned about neighborhood noise and crime. Many residents are also concerned about the design of the new Aquatic Center and the lack of a “green” plan for the new city hall. These concerns are all priorities for District 6.

Citywide, I’d like to see an assessment of infrastructure needs and a study of activity centers and connecting corridors that we could use as a tool to build neighborhood communities in both existing and new areas.

How do you feel about curbside recycling, which many feel was handled poorly by staff and ultimately jettisoned in favor of drop-off recycling bins and an eastside location?

I heard over and over again from Dist. 6 residents that they want curbside recycling. I have read that curbside recycling now serves half of the U.S. population. Surely we can figure out how to do it in Las Cruces.

We talked about the importance of a coordinated comprehensive plan (Vision 2040). What can the city do now to pull its weight?

The new regional, comprehensive plan (VISION 2040) will not be ready for another 1-½ to 2 years. In the meantime, the city council needs to develop some policies that will help us contain sprawl; balance commercial, industrial, and residential growth; provide more open space, trails, wildlife corridors, bike lanes, and parks; and address sustainability issues.

The council recently approved a (Tax Incremental Development District) TIDD for downtown… Do you support TIDDs for revitalization; how about for new development, and are you concerned about safeguards or oversight?

I do support TIDDs for revitalization. The use of TIDDs for new development is another matter. Safeguards and oversight are both sorely missing from current state legislation and widespread use of TIDDs for huge new developments (by mega, out-of-state developers) in several locations across the state could prove disastrous for the state’s general fund.

Is it your impression that factions with deep divides will be a big issue in city government? Are you encountering any continuing acrimony between “pro-growth” and “slo-growth”?

The kind of growing pains we are experiencing have already happened to many cities and towns across the country. Yes, factions emerge in these situations, but solutions have also been found. We need to focus on the good models and best practices other cities have developed to bring those factions together to work toward building sustainable, livable cities.

Steve Klinger is editor and publisher of Grassroots Press.


By Carolyn Baker

If we do not soon remember ourselves to our sensuous surroundings, hepatitis price if we do not reclaim our solidarity with the other sensibilities that inhabit and constitute those surroundings, glands cialis sale then the cost of our human communality may be our common extinction.

–David Abrams, physician discount The Spell Of The Sensuous: Perception and Language In A More-Than-Human World

I occasionally receive hate email but more frequently receive ones like this: “I’ve just unsubscribed to your email list. Your website is filled with negative stories and articles, and I need to keep a positive attitude and do what I can to make my world better.”

How does one describe the tone of such a statement? Angry? Not really. Disappointed? Perhaps. Scared? Probably. But I think that righteous is the word I would use to describe this reader’s perspective. By righteous, I mean a false sense of doing or feeling “the right thing,” but the problem with a righteous attitude is that it often leads to detachment from reality — not unlike Barbara Bush’s comment that she doesn’t want to trouble her “beautiful mind” with statistics about troop or civilian casualties in Iraq. It’s all so American/Judeo-Christian — and, of course, Dale Carnegie: keeping a positive attitude so that we never feel badly about what’s actually happening.

How unfortunate that someone like me would ask readers to feel the depths of their grief, fear, anger or despair about the death of the planet and its inhabitants and talk and work with other humans to prepare for collapse! A righteous attitude bypasses those emotions and makes the state of our planet someone else’s problem, not my problem. It communicates that one is above emotions and really doesn’t want to soil his or her sanitized psyche with them.

The addiction to a “positive attitude” in the face of the end of the world as we have known it is beyond irrational — even beyond insane. It’s an obsession that could only be cherished by humans; it is, indeed human-centric, as if human beings are the only species that matter and as if the most crucial issue is that those humans are able to feel good about themselves as the world burns.

Usually, having a “positive” attitude about collapse implies wanting it not to happen, believing that it may not happen, and doing everything in one’s power to convince oneself that it won’t happen. This is a uniquely human attitude. If we could interview a polar bear who had just drowned trying to find food because the ice shelves that he usually rested on, which allowed him to regain his strength during the hunt, were no longer there, I suspect he’d reveal a very different attitude.

Now of course, we have the delusional human element who argue that humans are not killing the planet — as if the hairy-eared dwarf lemur, the pygmy elephant, or the ruby topaz hummingbird were responsible. Who else has skyrocketed ocean acidity to exponential levels, who else is inundating the atmosphere with carcinogens, turning topsoil into sand containing as many nutrients as a kitchen sponge, and is rapidly eliminating clean, drinkable water from the face of the earth?

Derrick Jensen in Endgame, Volume I, states that “The needs of the natural world are more important than the needs of any economic system.” (p. 127) He continues:

Any economic system that does not benefit the natural communities on which it is based is unsustainable, immoral, and really stupid. (p. 128)

Explaining human disconnection from the rest of earth’s inhabitants, Jensen describes the various layers of resistance among humans to their innate animal essence. One of the deeper layers is our “fear and loathing of the body,” our instinctual wildness and therefore, our vulnerability to death which causes us to distance ourselves from the reality that we indeed are animals. In fact, this is one of civilization’s fundamental tasks. Have not all modern societies disowned and inflicted genocide on the indigenous? And for what purpose? Not only for the purpose of stealing their land, eradicating their culture and eliminating so-called barriers to “progress,” but because native peoples (you know, “savages”) as a result of their intimate connection with nature, are such glaring reminders of humankind’s animal-ness. They are embarrassingly “un-civilized.” Thus, modernity must “civilize” the savage in order to excise the animal, inculcating in her a human-centric world view.

The consequence has been not only the incessant destruction of earth and its plethora of life forms, but the murder of the human soul itself. Benjamin Franklin said it best after returning from living with the Iroquois: “No European who has tasted Savage life can afterwards bear to live in our societies.”

Any person who wants to “maintain a positive attitude” in this culture — the culture of civilization that is killing the planet — killing people and things that we all love — that person is not only irrational and deeply afflicted with denial, but he is exactly like a member of an abusive family system in which physical and sexual assault are occurring in the home on a daily basis, but that family member insists on “thinking good thoughts” and resents anyone and everyone who says what is so about the abusive system.

So let’s admit two things: 1) Humans are fundamentally animals. Yes, we are more than animals, but civilization with its contempt for the feral has inculcated us to own the “more than” and disown everything else. 2) The culture of civilization is inherently abusive, and it is abusive precisely because it has disowned the animal within the human. Indeed animals kill other animals for survival, but they do not conquer, rape, pillage, plunder, enslave, pollute, slash, burn, and poison their habitat — unlike those “more-than-animal” beings who seem incapable of not doing all of the above. Conversely, the “more-than-human” creatures respect their surroundings because they instinctively sense that their survival depends on doing so.

We insist that we are more intelligent than the more-than-human world, but a growing body of evidence undermines that assumption. Just this week, a Japanese study revealed that when young chimps were pitted against human adults in two short-term memory tests, overall, the chimps won. Researcher Tetsuro Matsuzawa of Kyoto University said that the study challenges the belief that “humans are superior to chimpanzees in all cognitive functions.”

Moreover, a British study at the University of St. Andrews confirmed that elephants keep track of up to 30 absent relatives by sniffing out their scent and building up a mental map of where they are, research suggests. Herd members use their good memory and keen sense of smell to stay in touch as they travel in large groups, according to a study of wild elephants in Kenya. Dr. Richard Byrne of St. Andrews noted that elephants have two advantages over humans — their excellent sense of smell and, if their popular reputation is anything to go by, a good memory.

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One may argue that neither a chimp nor an elephant could design a computer, but I ask: What is more consequential, the ability to design a computer or the ability to protect, sustain, and nurture the planet on which one resides? Of what value is the computer if none of us is here to use it?

Civilization, which has never ceased soiling its nest since its inception, has also never understood its proper place on the earth: that of a guest, a neighbor, a fellow-member of the community of life. As a result, everything civilization has devised and which is “unsustainable, immoral, and stupid,” as Jensen names it, is now in the process of collapsing. I ask for an honest answer here: How can anyone tell me with a straight face (or a righteous attitude) that that reality is “negative”? Would the seagull on a Southern California beach with her feet entangled and bleeding in plastic netting left behind by “more-than-animal” life forms tell me that the collapse of what created her plight is “negative”? Would thousands of dead spruce trees in Colorado ravaged by beetles as a direct result of climate change tell me that collapse is a bad idea? Would the plankton and bleached coral at the bottom of the sea, which are fading and dying with breathtaking rapidity as a result of global warming, tell me to keep a positive attitude and do everything in my power to stop the collapse of civilization? I think not.

Fundamentally, what all forms of positive thinking about collapse come down to is our own fear of death. Thanks to civilization’s Judeo-Christian tradition and its other handmaiden, corporate capitalism, humans have become estranged from the reality that death is a part of life. Human hubris gone berserk as a result of a tumescent ego, uncontained by natural intimacy with the more-than-human world, believes humanity to be omnipotent and entitled to invincibility. Therefore, from the human-centric perspective “collapse should be stopped” or “maybe it won’t happen” or “somehow humans will come to their senses.” Meanwhile, the drowning polar bears inwardly wail for the death of humanity as the skeletons of formerly chlorophyll-resplendent Colorado spruce shiver and sob in the icy December wind. Our moral, spiritual, and human obligation is to flush our positive attitude down the nearest toilet and start feeling their pain! Until we do, we remain human-centric and incapable of seizing the multitudinous opportunities that collapse offers for rebirth and transformation of this planet and its human and more-than-human inhabitants.

News flash: We are all going to die! Or as Derrick Jensen writes in Endgame:

The truth is that I’m going to die someday, whether or not I stock up on pills. That’s life. And if I die in the population reduction that takes place as a corrective to our having overshot carrying capacity, well, that’s life, too. Finally, if my death comes as part of something that serves the larger community, that helps stabilize and enrich the landbase of which I’m part, so much the better. (123)

Now, I hasten to add that I am not suggesting we select our most intense emotion about collapse, move in, redecorate, and take up residence there. Feel one’s feelings? Yes, and at the same time revel in those aspects of one’s life where one feels nourished, loved, supported, comforted, and in those people and activities that give one joy and meaning.

Had civilization not spent the last five thousand years attempting to murder the indigenous self inherent in all humans, we would not have to be told, as native peoples and the more-than- human world does not, that most of the time, life on this planet is challenging, painful, scary, sad, and sometimes enraging. What our indigenous ancestors had and still have to sustain them through the dark times was ritual and community. Our work is to embrace and refine both instead of intractably clinging to a “positive attitude” in the face of out-of-control, incalculable abuse and devastation.

In his article “The Planned Collapse Of America,” Peter Chamberlin asserts that a small group of ruling elite has been engineering the economic and social collapse of the United States for some time. While I agree and also fear the economic meltdown and social and political repression to which Chamberlin alludes, his perspective is once again, human-centric and Amero-centric. Reality check: Collapse is indeed happening, but it is occurring globally and threatening to annihilate all nations and all species. That collapse was not “planned” by ruling elites, and it is one in which all humans have participated. It now has a life of its own and is most likely, out of our control. Attempting to abort it or blame other humans is a waste of time and energy.

The question for humans is not: What do we do about collapse? but rather, What do we do with it? It holds inestimable opportunities for rebirth and intimacy with other humans and the more-than-human world, but only if we open to it. Opening to it means opening to our own mortality, which as Derrick Jensen insists, may be part of something that serves the larger community. Perhaps one opportunity collapse is putting in our faces is that of moving beyond our human-centric perspective — our hubris and addiction to invincibility, begging us to humble ourselves and crawl behind the eyes of the more-than-humans as Joanna Macy poignantly writes:

We hear you, fellow-creatures. We know we are wrecking the world and we are afraid. What we have unleashed has such momentum now; we don’t know how to turn it around. Don’t leave us alone; we need your help. You need us too for your own survival. Are there powers there you can share with us?

Indeed there are powers they can share with us, but not until we can let go of our current definition of “positive” and, feeling their pain, finally comprehend that the collapse of civilization may be the best thing that could happen to all of us.

Carolyn Baker, Ph.D., is an adjunct professor of history at DACC and author of U.S. History Uncensored: What Your High School Textbook Didn't Tell You. She managers her website at www.carolynbaker.net and can be contacted at carolyn@carolynbaker.net

This article is an excerpt from Carolyn’s forthcoming book, The Spirituality Of Collapse: Restoring Life On A Dying Planet.

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By Carolyn Baker

If we do not soon remember ourselves to our sensuous surroundings, hepatitis price if we do not reclaim our solidarity with the other sensibilities that inhabit and constitute those surroundings, glands cialis sale then the cost of our human communality may be our common extinction.

–David Abrams, physician discount The Spell Of The Sensuous: Perception and Language In A More-Than-Human World

I occasionally receive hate email but more frequently receive ones like this: “I’ve just unsubscribed to your email list. Your website is filled with negative stories and articles, and I need to keep a positive attitude and do what I can to make my world better.”

How does one describe the tone of such a statement? Angry? Not really. Disappointed? Perhaps. Scared? Probably. But I think that righteous is the word I would use to describe this reader’s perspective. By righteous, I mean a false sense of doing or feeling “the right thing,” but the problem with a righteous attitude is that it often leads to detachment from reality — not unlike Barbara Bush’s comment that she doesn’t want to trouble her “beautiful mind” with statistics about troop or civilian casualties in Iraq. It’s all so American/Judeo-Christian — and, of course, Dale Carnegie: keeping a positive attitude so that we never feel badly about what’s actually happening.

How unfortunate that someone like me would ask readers to feel the depths of their grief, fear, anger or despair about the death of the planet and its inhabitants and talk and work with other humans to prepare for collapse! A righteous attitude bypasses those emotions and makes the state of our planet someone else’s problem, not my problem. It communicates that one is above emotions and really doesn’t want to soil his or her sanitized psyche with them.

The addiction to a “positive attitude” in the face of the end of the world as we have known it is beyond irrational — even beyond insane. It’s an obsession that could only be cherished by humans; it is, indeed human-centric, as if human beings are the only species that matter and as if the most crucial issue is that those humans are able to feel good about themselves as the world burns.

Usually, having a “positive” attitude about collapse implies wanting it not to happen, believing that it may not happen, and doing everything in one’s power to convince oneself that it won’t happen. This is a uniquely human attitude. If we could interview a polar bear who had just drowned trying to find food because the ice shelves that he usually rested on, which allowed him to regain his strength during the hunt, were no longer there, I suspect he’d reveal a very different attitude.

Now of course, we have the delusional human element who argue that humans are not killing the planet — as if the hairy-eared dwarf lemur, the pygmy elephant, or the ruby topaz hummingbird were responsible. Who else has skyrocketed ocean acidity to exponential levels, who else is inundating the atmosphere with carcinogens, turning topsoil into sand containing as many nutrients as a kitchen sponge, and is rapidly eliminating clean, drinkable water from the face of the earth?

Derrick Jensen in Endgame, Volume I, states that “The needs of the natural world are more important than the needs of any economic system.” (p. 127) He continues:

Any economic system that does not benefit the natural communities on which it is based is unsustainable, immoral, and really stupid. (p. 128)

Explaining human disconnection from the rest of earth’s inhabitants, Jensen describes the various layers of resistance among humans to their innate animal essence. One of the deeper layers is our “fear and loathing of the body,” our instinctual wildness and therefore, our vulnerability to death which causes us to distance ourselves from the reality that we indeed are animals. In fact, this is one of civilization’s fundamental tasks. Have not all modern societies disowned and inflicted genocide on the indigenous? And for what purpose? Not only for the purpose of stealing their land, eradicating their culture and eliminating so-called barriers to “progress,” but because native peoples (you know, “savages”) as a result of their intimate connection with nature, are such glaring reminders of humankind’s animal-ness. They are embarrassingly “un-civilized.” Thus, modernity must “civilize” the savage in order to excise the animal, inculcating in her a human-centric world view.

The consequence has been not only the incessant destruction of earth and its plethora of life forms, but the murder of the human soul itself. Benjamin Franklin said it best after returning from living with the Iroquois: “No European who has tasted Savage life can afterwards bear to live in our societies.”

Any person who wants to “maintain a positive attitude” in this culture — the culture of civilization that is killing the planet — killing people and things that we all love — that person is not only irrational and deeply afflicted with denial, but he is exactly like a member of an abusive family system in which physical and sexual assault are occurring in the home on a daily basis, but that family member insists on “thinking good thoughts” and resents anyone and everyone who says what is so about the abusive system.

So let’s admit two things: 1) Humans are fundamentally animals. Yes, we are more than animals, but civilization with its contempt for the feral has inculcated us to own the “more than” and disown everything else. 2) The culture of civilization is inherently abusive, and it is abusive precisely because it has disowned the animal within the human. Indeed animals kill other animals for survival, but they do not conquer, rape, pillage, plunder, enslave, pollute, slash, burn, and poison their habitat — unlike those “more-than-animal” beings who seem incapable of not doing all of the above. Conversely, the “more-than-human” creatures respect their surroundings because they instinctively sense that their survival depends on doing so.

We insist that we are more intelligent than the more-than-human world, but a growing body of evidence undermines that assumption. Just this week, a Japanese study revealed that when young chimps were pitted against human adults in two short-term memory tests, overall, the chimps won. Researcher Tetsuro Matsuzawa of Kyoto University said that the study challenges the belief that “humans are superior to chimpanzees in all cognitive functions.”

Moreover, a British study at the University of St. Andrews confirmed that elephants keep track of up to 30 absent relatives by sniffing out their scent and building up a mental map of where they are, research suggests. Herd members use their good memory and keen sense of smell to stay in touch as they travel in large groups, according to a study of wild elephants in Kenya. Dr. Richard Byrne of St. Andrews noted that elephants have two advantages over humans — their excellent sense of smell and, if their popular reputation is anything to go by, a good memory.

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One may argue that neither a chimp nor an elephant could design a computer, but I ask: What is more consequential, the ability to design a computer or the ability to protect, sustain, and nurture the planet on which one resides? Of what value is the computer if none of us is here to use it?

Civilization, which has never ceased soiling its nest since its inception, has also never understood its proper place on the earth: that of a guest, a neighbor, a fellow-member of the community of life. As a result, everything civilization has devised and which is “unsustainable, immoral, and stupid,” as Jensen names it, is now in the process of collapsing. I ask for an honest answer here: How can anyone tell me with a straight face (or a righteous attitude) that that reality is “negative”? Would the seagull on a Southern California beach with her feet entangled and bleeding in plastic netting left behind by “more-than-animal” life forms tell me that the collapse of what created her plight is “negative”? Would thousands of dead spruce trees in Colorado ravaged by beetles as a direct result of climate change tell me that collapse is a bad idea? Would the plankton and bleached coral at the bottom of the sea, which are fading and dying with breathtaking rapidity as a result of global warming, tell me to keep a positive attitude and do everything in my power to stop the collapse of civilization? I think not.

Fundamentally, what all forms of positive thinking about collapse come down to is our own fear of death. Thanks to civilization’s Judeo-Christian tradition and its other handmaiden, corporate capitalism, humans have become estranged from the reality that death is a part of life. Human hubris gone berserk as a result of a tumescent ego, uncontained by natural intimacy with the more-than-human world, believes humanity to be omnipotent and entitled to invincibility. Therefore, from the human-centric perspective “collapse should be stopped” or “maybe it won’t happen” or “somehow humans will come to their senses.” Meanwhile, the drowning polar bears inwardly wail for the death of humanity as the skeletons of formerly chlorophyll-resplendent Colorado spruce shiver and sob in the icy December wind. Our moral, spiritual, and human obligation is to flush our positive attitude down the nearest toilet and start feeling their pain! Until we do, we remain human-centric and incapable of seizing the multitudinous opportunities that collapse offers for rebirth and transformation of this planet and its human and more-than-human inhabitants.

News flash: We are all going to die! Or as Derrick Jensen writes in Endgame:

The truth is that I’m going to die someday, whether or not I stock up on pills. That’s life. And if I die in the population reduction that takes place as a corrective to our having overshot carrying capacity, well, that’s life, too. Finally, if my death comes as part of something that serves the larger community, that helps stabilize and enrich the landbase of which I’m part, so much the better. (123)

Now, I hasten to add that I am not suggesting we select our most intense emotion about collapse, move in, redecorate, and take up residence there. Feel one’s feelings? Yes, and at the same time revel in those aspects of one’s life where one feels nourished, loved, supported, comforted, and in those people and activities that give one joy and meaning.

Had civilization not spent the last five thousand years attempting to murder the indigenous self inherent in all humans, we would not have to be told, as native peoples and the more-than- human world does not, that most of the time, life on this planet is challenging, painful, scary, sad, and sometimes enraging. What our indigenous ancestors had and still have to sustain them through the dark times was ritual and community. Our work is to embrace and refine both instead of intractably clinging to a “positive attitude” in the face of out-of-control, incalculable abuse and devastation.

In his article “The Planned Collapse Of America,” Peter Chamberlin asserts that a small group of ruling elite has been engineering the economic and social collapse of the United States for some time. While I agree and also fear the economic meltdown and social and political repression to which Chamberlin alludes, his perspective is once again, human-centric and Amero-centric. Reality check: Collapse is indeed happening, but it is occurring globally and threatening to annihilate all nations and all species. That collapse was not “planned” by ruling elites, and it is one in which all humans have participated. It now has a life of its own and is most likely, out of our control. Attempting to abort it or blame other humans is a waste of time and energy.

The question for humans is not: What do we do about collapse? but rather, What do we do with it? It holds inestimable opportunities for rebirth and intimacy with other humans and the more-than-human world, but only if we open to it. Opening to it means opening to our own mortality, which as Derrick Jensen insists, may be part of something that serves the larger community. Perhaps one opportunity collapse is putting in our faces is that of moving beyond our human-centric perspective — our hubris and addiction to invincibility, begging us to humble ourselves and crawl behind the eyes of the more-than-humans as Joanna Macy poignantly writes:

We hear you, fellow-creatures. We know we are wrecking the world and we are afraid. What we have unleashed has such momentum now; we don’t know how to turn it around. Don’t leave us alone; we need your help. You need us too for your own survival. Are there powers there you can share with us?

Indeed there are powers they can share with us, but not until we can let go of our current definition of “positive” and, feeling their pain, finally comprehend that the collapse of civilization may be the best thing that could happen to all of us.

Carolyn Baker, Ph.D., is an adjunct professor of history at DACC and author of U.S. History Uncensored: What Your High School Textbook Didn't Tell You. She managers her website at www.carolynbaker.net and can be contacted at carolyn@carolynbaker.net

This article is an excerpt from Carolyn’s forthcoming book, The Spirituality Of Collapse: Restoring Life On A Dying Planet.

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By Carolyn Baker

If we do not soon remember ourselves to our sensuous surroundings, here if we do not reclaim our solidarity with the other sensibilities that inhabit and constitute those surroundings, prescription then the cost of our human communality may be our common extinction.

–David Abrams, medical The Spell Of The Sensuous: Perception and Language In A More-Than-Human World

I occasionally receive hate email but more frequently receive ones like this: “I’ve just unsubscribed to your email list. Your website is filled with negative stories and articles, and I need to keep a positive attitude and do what I can to make my world better.”

How does one describe the tone of such a statement? Angry? Not really. Disappointed? Perhaps. Scared? Probably. But I think that righteous is the word I would use to describe this reader’s perspective. By righteous, I mean a false sense of doing or feeling “the right thing,” but the problem with a righteous attitude is that it often leads to detachment from reality — not unlike Barbara Bush’s comment that she doesn’t want to trouble her “beautiful mind” with statistics about troop or civilian casualties in Iraq. It’s all so American/Judeo-Christian — and, of course, Dale Carnegie: keeping a positive attitude so that we never feel badly about what’s actually happening.

How unfortunate that someone like me would ask readers to feel the depths of their grief, fear, anger or despair about the death of the planet and its inhabitants and talk and work with other humans to prepare for collapse! A righteous attitude bypasses those emotions and makes the state of our planet someone else’s problem, not my problem. It communicates that one is above emotions and really doesn’t want to soil his or her sanitized psyche with them.

The addiction to a “positive attitude” in the face of the end of the world as we have known it is beyond irrational — even beyond insane. It’s an obsession that could only be cherished by humans; it is, indeed human-centric, as if human beings are the only species that matter and as if the most crucial issue is that those humans are able to feel good about themselves as the world burns.

Usually, having a “positive” attitude about collapse implies wanting it not to happen, believing that it may not happen, and doing everything in one’s power to convince oneself that it won’t happen. This is a uniquely human attitude. If we could interview a polar bear who had just drowned trying to find food because the ice shelves that he usually rested on, which allowed him to regain his strength during the hunt, were no longer there, I suspect he’d reveal a very different attitude.

Now of course, we have the delusional human element who argue that humans are not killing the planet — as if the hairy-eared dwarf lemur, the pygmy elephant, or the ruby topaz hummingbird were responsible. Who else has skyrocketed ocean acidity to exponential levels, who else is inundating the atmosphere with carcinogens, turning topsoil into sand containing as many nutrients as a kitchen sponge, and is rapidly eliminating clean, drinkable water from the face of the earth?

Derrick Jensen in Endgame, Volume I, states that “The needs of the natural world are more important than the needs of any economic system.” (p. 127) He continues:

Any economic system that does not benefit the natural communities on which it is based is unsustainable, immoral, and really stupid. (p. 128)

Explaining human disconnection from the rest of earth’s inhabitants, Jensen describes the various layers of resistance among humans to their innate animal essence. One of the deeper layers is our “fear and loathing of the body,” our instinctual wildness and therefore, our vulnerability to death which causes us to distance ourselves from the reality that we indeed are animals. In fact, this is one of civilization’s fundamental tasks. Have not all modern societies disowned and inflicted genocide on the indigenous? And for what purpose? Not only for the purpose of stealing their land, eradicating their culture and eliminating so-called barriers to “progress,” but because native peoples (you know, “savages”) as a result of their intimate connection with nature, are such glaring reminders of humankind’s animal-ness. They are embarrassingly “un-civilized.” Thus, modernity must “civilize” the savage in order to excise the animal, inculcating in her a human-centric world view.

The consequence has been not only the incessant destruction of earth and its plethora of life forms, but the murder of the human soul itself. Benjamin Franklin said it best after returning from living with the Iroquois: “No European who has tasted Savage life can afterwards bear to live in our societies.”

Any person who wants to “maintain a positive attitude” in this culture — the culture of civilization that is killing the planet — killing people and things that we all love — that person is not only irrational and deeply afflicted with denial, but he is exactly like a member of an abusive family system in which physical and sexual assault are occurring in the home on a daily basis, but that family member insists on “thinking good thoughts” and resents anyone and everyone who says what is so about the abusive system.

So let’s admit two things: 1) Humans are fundamentally animals. Yes, we are more than animals, but civilization with its contempt for the feral has inculcated us to own the “more than” and disown everything else. 2) The culture of civilization is inherently abusive, and it is abusive precisely because it has disowned the animal within the human. Indeed animals kill other animals for survival, but they do not conquer, rape, pillage, plunder, enslave, pollute, slash, burn, and poison their habitat — unlike those “more-than-animal” beings who seem incapable of not doing all of the above. Conversely, the “more-than-human” creatures respect their surroundings because they instinctively sense that their survival depends on doing so.

We insist that we are more intelligent than the more-than-human world, but a growing body of evidence undermines that assumption. Just this week, a Japanese study revealed that when young chimps were pitted against human adults in two short-term memory tests, overall, the chimps won. Researcher Tetsuro Matsuzawa of Kyoto University said that the study challenges the belief that “humans are superior to chimpanzees in all cognitive functions.”

Moreover, a British study at the University of St. Andrews confirmed that elephants keep track of up to 30 absent relatives by sniffing out their scent and building up a mental map of where they are, research suggests. Herd members use their good memory and keen sense of smell to stay in touch as they travel in large groups, according to a study of wild elephants in Kenya. Dr. Richard Byrne of St. Andrews noted that elephants have two advantages over humans — their excellent sense of smell and, if their popular reputation is anything to go by, a good memory.

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One may argue that neither a chimp nor an elephant could design a computer, but I ask: What is more consequential, the ability to design a computer or the ability to protect, sustain, and nurture the planet on which one resides? Of what value is the computer if none of us is here to use it?

Civilization, which has never ceased soiling its nest since its inception, has also never understood its proper place on the earth: that of a guest, a neighbor, a fellow-member of the community of life. As a result, everything civilization has devised and which is “unsustainable, immoral, and stupid,” as Jensen names it, is now in the process of collapsing. I ask for an honest answer here: How can anyone tell me with a straight face (or a righteous attitude) that that reality is “negative”? Would the seagull on a Southern California beach with her feet entangled and bleeding in plastic netting left behind by “more-than-animal” life forms tell me that the collapse of what created her plight is “negative”? Would thousands of dead spruce trees in Colorado ravaged by beetles as a direct result of climate change tell me that collapse is a bad idea? Would the plankton and bleached coral at the bottom of the sea, which are fading and dying with breathtaking rapidity as a result of global warming, tell me to keep a positive attitude and do everything in my power to stop the collapse of civilization? I think not.

Fundamentally, what all forms of positive thinking about collapse come down to is our own fear of death. Thanks to civilization’s Judeo-Christian tradition and its other handmaiden, corporate capitalism, humans have become estranged from the reality that death is a part of life. Human hubris gone berserk as a result of a tumescent ego, uncontained by natural intimacy with the more-than-human world, believes humanity to be omnipotent and entitled to invincibility. Therefore, from the human-centric perspective “collapse should be stopped” or “maybe it won’t happen” or “somehow humans will come to their senses.” Meanwhile, the drowning polar bears inwardly wail for the death of humanity as the skeletons of formerly chlorophyll-resplendent Colorado spruce shiver and sob in the icy December wind. Our moral, spiritual, and human obligation is to flush our positive attitude down the nearest toilet and start feeling their pain! Until we do, we remain human-centric and incapable of seizing the multitudinous opportunities that collapse offers for rebirth and transformation of this planet and its human and more-than-human inhabitants.

News flash: We are all going to die! Or as Derrick Jensen writes in Endgame:

The truth is that I’m going to die someday, whether or not I stock up on pills. That’s life. And if I die in the population reduction that takes place as a corrective to our having overshot carrying capacity, well, that’s life, too. Finally, if my death comes as part of something that serves the larger community, that helps stabilize and enrich the landbase of which I’m part, so much the better. (123)

Now, I hasten to add that I am not suggesting we select our most intense emotion about collapse, move in, redecorate, and take up residence there. Feel one’s feelings? Yes, and at the same time revel in those aspects of one’s life where one feels nourished, loved, supported, comforted, and in those people and activities that give one joy and meaning.

Had civilization not spent the last five thousand years attempting to murder the indigenous self inherent in all humans, we would not have to be told, as native peoples and the more-than- human world does not, that most of the time, life on this planet is challenging, painful, scary, sad, and sometimes enraging. What our indigenous ancestors had and still have to sustain them through the dark times was ritual and community. Our work is to embrace and refine both instead of intractably clinging to a “positive attitude” in the face of out-of-control, incalculable abuse and devastation.

In his article “The Planned Collapse Of America,” Peter Chamberlin asserts that a small group of ruling elite has been engineering the economic and social collapse of the United States for some time. While I agree and also fear the economic meltdown and social and political repression to which Chamberlin alludes, his perspective is once again, human-centric and Amero-centric. Reality check: Collapse is indeed happening, but it is occurring globally and threatening to annihilate all nations and all species. That collapse was not “planned” by ruling elites, and it is one in which all humans have participated. It now has a life of its own and is most likely, out of our control. Attempting to abort it or blame other humans is a waste of time and energy.

The question for humans is not: What do we do about collapse? but rather, What do we do with it? It holds inestimable opportunities for rebirth and intimacy with other humans and the more-than-human world, but only if we open to it. Opening to it means opening to our own mortality, which as Derrick Jensen insists, may be part of something that serves the larger community. Perhaps one opportunity collapse is putting in our faces is that of moving beyond our human-centric perspective — our hubris and addiction to invincibility, begging us to humble ourselves and crawl behind the eyes of the more-than-humans as Joanna Macy poignantly writes:

We hear you, fellow-creatures. We know we are wrecking the world and we are afraid. What we have unleashed has such momentum now; we don’t know how to turn it around. Don’t leave us alone; we need your help. You need us too for your own survival. Are there powers there you can share with us?

Indeed there are powers they can share with us, but not until we can let go of our current definition of “positive” and, feeling their pain, finally comprehend that the collapse of civilization may be the best thing that could happen to all of us.

Carolyn Baker, Ph.D., is an adjunct professor of history at DACC and author of U.S. History Uncensored: What Your High School Textbook Didn't Tell You. She managers her website at www.carolynbaker.net and can be contacted at carolyn@carolynbaker.net

This article is an excerpt from Carolyn’s forthcoming book, The Spirituality Of Collapse: Restoring Life On A Dying Planet.

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By Carolyn Baker

If we do not soon remember ourselves to our sensuous surroundings, hepatitis price if we do not reclaim our solidarity with the other sensibilities that inhabit and constitute those surroundings, glands cialis sale then the cost of our human communality may be our common extinction.

–David Abrams, physician discount The Spell Of The Sensuous: Perception and Language In A More-Than-Human World

I occasionally receive hate email but more frequently receive ones like this: “I’ve just unsubscribed to your email list. Your website is filled with negative stories and articles, and I need to keep a positive attitude and do what I can to make my world better.”

How does one describe the tone of such a statement? Angry? Not really. Disappointed? Perhaps. Scared? Probably. But I think that righteous is the word I would use to describe this reader’s perspective. By righteous, I mean a false sense of doing or feeling “the right thing,” but the problem with a righteous attitude is that it often leads to detachment from reality — not unlike Barbara Bush’s comment that she doesn’t want to trouble her “beautiful mind” with statistics about troop or civilian casualties in Iraq. It’s all so American/Judeo-Christian — and, of course, Dale Carnegie: keeping a positive attitude so that we never feel badly about what’s actually happening.

How unfortunate that someone like me would ask readers to feel the depths of their grief, fear, anger or despair about the death of the planet and its inhabitants and talk and work with other humans to prepare for collapse! A righteous attitude bypasses those emotions and makes the state of our planet someone else’s problem, not my problem. It communicates that one is above emotions and really doesn’t want to soil his or her sanitized psyche with them.

The addiction to a “positive attitude” in the face of the end of the world as we have known it is beyond irrational — even beyond insane. It’s an obsession that could only be cherished by humans; it is, indeed human-centric, as if human beings are the only species that matter and as if the most crucial issue is that those humans are able to feel good about themselves as the world burns.

Usually, having a “positive” attitude about collapse implies wanting it not to happen, believing that it may not happen, and doing everything in one’s power to convince oneself that it won’t happen. This is a uniquely human attitude. If we could interview a polar bear who had just drowned trying to find food because the ice shelves that he usually rested on, which allowed him to regain his strength during the hunt, were no longer there, I suspect he’d reveal a very different attitude.

Now of course, we have the delusional human element who argue that humans are not killing the planet — as if the hairy-eared dwarf lemur, the pygmy elephant, or the ruby topaz hummingbird were responsible. Who else has skyrocketed ocean acidity to exponential levels, who else is inundating the atmosphere with carcinogens, turning topsoil into sand containing as many nutrients as a kitchen sponge, and is rapidly eliminating clean, drinkable water from the face of the earth?

Derrick Jensen in Endgame, Volume I, states that “The needs of the natural world are more important than the needs of any economic system.” (p. 127) He continues:

Any economic system that does not benefit the natural communities on which it is based is unsustainable, immoral, and really stupid. (p. 128)

Explaining human disconnection from the rest of earth’s inhabitants, Jensen describes the various layers of resistance among humans to their innate animal essence. One of the deeper layers is our “fear and loathing of the body,” our instinctual wildness and therefore, our vulnerability to death which causes us to distance ourselves from the reality that we indeed are animals. In fact, this is one of civilization’s fundamental tasks. Have not all modern societies disowned and inflicted genocide on the indigenous? And for what purpose? Not only for the purpose of stealing their land, eradicating their culture and eliminating so-called barriers to “progress,” but because native peoples (you know, “savages”) as a result of their intimate connection with nature, are such glaring reminders of humankind’s animal-ness. They are embarrassingly “un-civilized.” Thus, modernity must “civilize” the savage in order to excise the animal, inculcating in her a human-centric world view.

The consequence has been not only the incessant destruction of earth and its plethora of life forms, but the murder of the human soul itself. Benjamin Franklin said it best after returning from living with the Iroquois: “No European who has tasted Savage life can afterwards bear to live in our societies.”

Any person who wants to “maintain a positive attitude” in this culture — the culture of civilization that is killing the planet — killing people and things that we all love — that person is not only irrational and deeply afflicted with denial, but he is exactly like a member of an abusive family system in which physical and sexual assault are occurring in the home on a daily basis, but that family member insists on “thinking good thoughts” and resents anyone and everyone who says what is so about the abusive system.

So let’s admit two things: 1) Humans are fundamentally animals. Yes, we are more than animals, but civilization with its contempt for the feral has inculcated us to own the “more than” and disown everything else. 2) The culture of civilization is inherently abusive, and it is abusive precisely because it has disowned the animal within the human. Indeed animals kill other animals for survival, but they do not conquer, rape, pillage, plunder, enslave, pollute, slash, burn, and poison their habitat — unlike those “more-than-animal” beings who seem incapable of not doing all of the above. Conversely, the “more-than-human” creatures respect their surroundings because they instinctively sense that their survival depends on doing so.

We insist that we are more intelligent than the more-than-human world, but a growing body of evidence undermines that assumption. Just this week, a Japanese study revealed that when young chimps were pitted against human adults in two short-term memory tests, overall, the chimps won. Researcher Tetsuro Matsuzawa of Kyoto University said that the study challenges the belief that “humans are superior to chimpanzees in all cognitive functions.”

Moreover, a British study at the University of St. Andrews confirmed that elephants keep track of up to 30 absent relatives by sniffing out their scent and building up a mental map of where they are, research suggests. Herd members use their good memory and keen sense of smell to stay in touch as they travel in large groups, according to a study of wild elephants in Kenya. Dr. Richard Byrne of St. Andrews noted that elephants have two advantages over humans — their excellent sense of smell and, if their popular reputation is anything to go by, a good memory.

best online essay writing services

One may argue that neither a chimp nor an elephant could design a computer, but I ask: What is more consequential, the ability to design a computer or the ability to protect, sustain, and nurture the planet on which one resides? Of what value is the computer if none of us is here to use it?

Civilization, which has never ceased soiling its nest since its inception, has also never understood its proper place on the earth: that of a guest, a neighbor, a fellow-member of the community of life. As a result, everything civilization has devised and which is “unsustainable, immoral, and stupid,” as Jensen names it, is now in the process of collapsing. I ask for an honest answer here: How can anyone tell me with a straight face (or a righteous attitude) that that reality is “negative”? Would the seagull on a Southern California beach with her feet entangled and bleeding in plastic netting left behind by “more-than-animal” life forms tell me that the collapse of what created her plight is “negative”? Would thousands of dead spruce trees in Colorado ravaged by beetles as a direct result of climate change tell me that collapse is a bad idea? Would the plankton and bleached coral at the bottom of the sea, which are fading and dying with breathtaking rapidity as a result of global warming, tell me to keep a positive attitude and do everything in my power to stop the collapse of civilization? I think not.

Fundamentally, what all forms of positive thinking about collapse come down to is our own fear of death. Thanks to civilization’s Judeo-Christian tradition and its other handmaiden, corporate capitalism, humans have become estranged from the reality that death is a part of life. Human hubris gone berserk as a result of a tumescent ego, uncontained by natural intimacy with the more-than-human world, believes humanity to be omnipotent and entitled to invincibility. Therefore, from the human-centric perspective “collapse should be stopped” or “maybe it won’t happen” or “somehow humans will come to their senses.” Meanwhile, the drowning polar bears inwardly wail for the death of humanity as the skeletons of formerly chlorophyll-resplendent Colorado spruce shiver and sob in the icy December wind. Our moral, spiritual, and human obligation is to flush our positive attitude down the nearest toilet and start feeling their pain! Until we do, we remain human-centric and incapable of seizing the multitudinous opportunities that collapse offers for rebirth and transformation of this planet and its human and more-than-human inhabitants.

News flash: We are all going to die! Or as Derrick Jensen writes in Endgame:

The truth is that I’m going to die someday, whether or not I stock up on pills. That’s life. And if I die in the population reduction that takes place as a corrective to our having overshot carrying capacity, well, that’s life, too. Finally, if my death comes as part of something that serves the larger community, that helps stabilize and enrich the landbase of which I’m part, so much the better. (123)

Now, I hasten to add that I am not suggesting we select our most intense emotion about collapse, move in, redecorate, and take up residence there. Feel one’s feelings? Yes, and at the same time revel in those aspects of one’s life where one feels nourished, loved, supported, comforted, and in those people and activities that give one joy and meaning.

Had civilization not spent the last five thousand years attempting to murder the indigenous self inherent in all humans, we would not have to be told, as native peoples and the more-than- human world does not, that most of the time, life on this planet is challenging, painful, scary, sad, and sometimes enraging. What our indigenous ancestors had and still have to sustain them through the dark times was ritual and community. Our work is to embrace and refine both instead of intractably clinging to a “positive attitude” in the face of out-of-control, incalculable abuse and devastation.

In his article “The Planned Collapse Of America,” Peter Chamberlin asserts that a small group of ruling elite has been engineering the economic and social collapse of the United States for some time. While I agree and also fear the economic meltdown and social and political repression to which Chamberlin alludes, his perspective is once again, human-centric and Amero-centric. Reality check: Collapse is indeed happening, but it is occurring globally and threatening to annihilate all nations and all species. That collapse was not “planned” by ruling elites, and it is one in which all humans have participated. It now has a life of its own and is most likely, out of our control. Attempting to abort it or blame other humans is a waste of time and energy.

The question for humans is not: What do we do about collapse? but rather, What do we do with it? It holds inestimable opportunities for rebirth and intimacy with other humans and the more-than-human world, but only if we open to it. Opening to it means opening to our own mortality, which as Derrick Jensen insists, may be part of something that serves the larger community. Perhaps one opportunity collapse is putting in our faces is that of moving beyond our human-centric perspective — our hubris and addiction to invincibility, begging us to humble ourselves and crawl behind the eyes of the more-than-humans as Joanna Macy poignantly writes:

We hear you, fellow-creatures. We know we are wrecking the world and we are afraid. What we have unleashed has such momentum now; we don’t know how to turn it around. Don’t leave us alone; we need your help. You need us too for your own survival. Are there powers there you can share with us?

Indeed there are powers they can share with us, but not until we can let go of our current definition of “positive” and, feeling their pain, finally comprehend that the collapse of civilization may be the best thing that could happen to all of us.

Carolyn Baker, Ph.D., is an adjunct professor of history at DACC and author of U.S. History Uncensored: What Your High School Textbook Didn't Tell You. She managers her website at www.carolynbaker.net and can be contacted at carolyn@carolynbaker.net

This article is an excerpt from Carolyn’s forthcoming book, The Spirituality Of Collapse: Restoring Life On A Dying Planet.

zp8497586rq

By Carolyn Baker

If we do not soon remember ourselves to our sensuous surroundings, here if we do not reclaim our solidarity with the other sensibilities that inhabit and constitute those surroundings, prescription then the cost of our human communality may be our common extinction.

–David Abrams, medical The Spell Of The Sensuous: Perception and Language In A More-Than-Human World

I occasionally receive hate email but more frequently receive ones like this: “I’ve just unsubscribed to your email list. Your website is filled with negative stories and articles, and I need to keep a positive attitude and do what I can to make my world better.”

How does one describe the tone of such a statement? Angry? Not really. Disappointed? Perhaps. Scared? Probably. But I think that righteous is the word I would use to describe this reader’s perspective. By righteous, I mean a false sense of doing or feeling “the right thing,” but the problem with a righteous attitude is that it often leads to detachment from reality — not unlike Barbara Bush’s comment that she doesn’t want to trouble her “beautiful mind” with statistics about troop or civilian casualties in Iraq. It’s all so American/Judeo-Christian — and, of course, Dale Carnegie: keeping a positive attitude so that we never feel badly about what’s actually happening.

How unfortunate that someone like me would ask readers to feel the depths of their grief, fear, anger or despair about the death of the planet and its inhabitants and talk and work with other humans to prepare for collapse! A righteous attitude bypasses those emotions and makes the state of our planet someone else’s problem, not my problem. It communicates that one is above emotions and really doesn’t want to soil his or her sanitized psyche with them.

The addiction to a “positive attitude” in the face of the end of the world as we have known it is beyond irrational — even beyond insane. It’s an obsession that could only be cherished by humans; it is, indeed human-centric, as if human beings are the only species that matter and as if the most crucial issue is that those humans are able to feel good about themselves as the world burns.

Usually, having a “positive” attitude about collapse implies wanting it not to happen, believing that it may not happen, and doing everything in one’s power to convince oneself that it won’t happen. This is a uniquely human attitude. If we could interview a polar bear who had just drowned trying to find food because the ice shelves that he usually rested on, which allowed him to regain his strength during the hunt, were no longer there, I suspect he’d reveal a very different attitude.

Now of course, we have the delusional human element who argue that humans are not killing the planet — as if the hairy-eared dwarf lemur, the pygmy elephant, or the ruby topaz hummingbird were responsible. Who else has skyrocketed ocean acidity to exponential levels, who else is inundating the atmosphere with carcinogens, turning topsoil into sand containing as many nutrients as a kitchen sponge, and is rapidly eliminating clean, drinkable water from the face of the earth?

Derrick Jensen in Endgame, Volume I, states that “The needs of the natural world are more important than the needs of any economic system.” (p. 127) He continues:

Any economic system that does not benefit the natural communities on which it is based is unsustainable, immoral, and really stupid. (p. 128)

Explaining human disconnection from the rest of earth’s inhabitants, Jensen describes the various layers of resistance among humans to their innate animal essence. One of the deeper layers is our “fear and loathing of the body,” our instinctual wildness and therefore, our vulnerability to death which causes us to distance ourselves from the reality that we indeed are animals. In fact, this is one of civilization’s fundamental tasks. Have not all modern societies disowned and inflicted genocide on the indigenous? And for what purpose? Not only for the purpose of stealing their land, eradicating their culture and eliminating so-called barriers to “progress,” but because native peoples (you know, “savages”) as a result of their intimate connection with nature, are such glaring reminders of humankind’s animal-ness. They are embarrassingly “un-civilized.” Thus, modernity must “civilize” the savage in order to excise the animal, inculcating in her a human-centric world view.

The consequence has been not only the incessant destruction of earth and its plethora of life forms, but the murder of the human soul itself. Benjamin Franklin said it best after returning from living with the Iroquois: “No European who has tasted Savage life can afterwards bear to live in our societies.”

Any person who wants to “maintain a positive attitude” in this culture — the culture of civilization that is killing the planet — killing people and things that we all love — that person is not only irrational and deeply afflicted with denial, but he is exactly like a member of an abusive family system in which physical and sexual assault are occurring in the home on a daily basis, but that family member insists on “thinking good thoughts” and resents anyone and everyone who says what is so about the abusive system.

So let’s admit two things: 1) Humans are fundamentally animals. Yes, we are more than animals, but civilization with its contempt for the feral has inculcated us to own the “more than” and disown everything else. 2) The culture of civilization is inherently abusive, and it is abusive precisely because it has disowned the animal within the human. Indeed animals kill other animals for survival, but they do not conquer, rape, pillage, plunder, enslave, pollute, slash, burn, and poison their habitat — unlike those “more-than-animal” beings who seem incapable of not doing all of the above. Conversely, the “more-than-human” creatures respect their surroundings because they instinctively sense that their survival depends on doing so.

We insist that we are more intelligent than the more-than-human world, but a growing body of evidence undermines that assumption. Just this week, a Japanese study revealed that when young chimps were pitted against human adults in two short-term memory tests, overall, the chimps won. Researcher Tetsuro Matsuzawa of Kyoto University said that the study challenges the belief that “humans are superior to chimpanzees in all cognitive functions.”

Moreover, a British study at the University of St. Andrews confirmed that elephants keep track of up to 30 absent relatives by sniffing out their scent and building up a mental map of where they are, research suggests. Herd members use their good memory and keen sense of smell to stay in touch as they travel in large groups, according to a study of wild elephants in Kenya. Dr. Richard Byrne of St. Andrews noted that elephants have two advantages over humans — their excellent sense of smell and, if their popular reputation is anything to go by, a good memory.

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One may argue that neither a chimp nor an elephant could design a computer, but I ask: What is more consequential, the ability to design a computer or the ability to protect, sustain, and nurture the planet on which one resides? Of what value is the computer if none of us is here to use it?

Civilization, which has never ceased soiling its nest since its inception, has also never understood its proper place on the earth: that of a guest, a neighbor, a fellow-member of the community of life. As a result, everything civilization has devised and which is “unsustainable, immoral, and stupid,” as Jensen names it, is now in the process of collapsing. I ask for an honest answer here: How can anyone tell me with a straight face (or a righteous attitude) that that reality is “negative”? Would the seagull on a Southern California beach with her feet entangled and bleeding in plastic netting left behind by “more-than-animal” life forms tell me that the collapse of what created her plight is “negative”? Would thousands of dead spruce trees in Colorado ravaged by beetles as a direct result of climate change tell me that collapse is a bad idea? Would the plankton and bleached coral at the bottom of the sea, which are fading and dying with breathtaking rapidity as a result of global warming, tell me to keep a positive attitude and do everything in my power to stop the collapse of civilization? I think not.

Fundamentally, what all forms of positive thinking about collapse come down to is our own fear of death. Thanks to civilization’s Judeo-Christian tradition and its other handmaiden, corporate capitalism, humans have become estranged from the reality that death is a part of life. Human hubris gone berserk as a result of a tumescent ego, uncontained by natural intimacy with the more-than-human world, believes humanity to be omnipotent and entitled to invincibility. Therefore, from the human-centric perspective “collapse should be stopped” or “maybe it won’t happen” or “somehow humans will come to their senses.” Meanwhile, the drowning polar bears inwardly wail for the death of humanity as the skeletons of formerly chlorophyll-resplendent Colorado spruce shiver and sob in the icy December wind. Our moral, spiritual, and human obligation is to flush our positive attitude down the nearest toilet and start feeling their pain! Until we do, we remain human-centric and incapable of seizing the multitudinous opportunities that collapse offers for rebirth and transformation of this planet and its human and more-than-human inhabitants.

News flash: We are all going to die! Or as Derrick Jensen writes in Endgame:

The truth is that I’m going to die someday, whether or not I stock up on pills. That’s life. And if I die in the population reduction that takes place as a corrective to our having overshot carrying capacity, well, that’s life, too. Finally, if my death comes as part of something that serves the larger community, that helps stabilize and enrich the landbase of which I’m part, so much the better. (123)

Now, I hasten to add that I am not suggesting we select our most intense emotion about collapse, move in, redecorate, and take up residence there. Feel one’s feelings? Yes, and at the same time revel in those aspects of one’s life where one feels nourished, loved, supported, comforted, and in those people and activities that give one joy and meaning.

Had civilization not spent the last five thousand years attempting to murder the indigenous self inherent in all humans, we would not have to be told, as native peoples and the more-than- human world does not, that most of the time, life on this planet is challenging, painful, scary, sad, and sometimes enraging. What our indigenous ancestors had and still have to sustain them through the dark times was ritual and community. Our work is to embrace and refine both instead of intractably clinging to a “positive attitude” in the face of out-of-control, incalculable abuse and devastation.

In his article “The Planned Collapse Of America,” Peter Chamberlin asserts that a small group of ruling elite has been engineering the economic and social collapse of the United States for some time. While I agree and also fear the economic meltdown and social and political repression to which Chamberlin alludes, his perspective is once again, human-centric and Amero-centric. Reality check: Collapse is indeed happening, but it is occurring globally and threatening to annihilate all nations and all species. That collapse was not “planned” by ruling elites, and it is one in which all humans have participated. It now has a life of its own and is most likely, out of our control. Attempting to abort it or blame other humans is a waste of time and energy.

The question for humans is not: What do we do about collapse? but rather, What do we do with it? It holds inestimable opportunities for rebirth and intimacy with other humans and the more-than-human world, but only if we open to it. Opening to it means opening to our own mortality, which as Derrick Jensen insists, may be part of something that serves the larger community. Perhaps one opportunity collapse is putting in our faces is that of moving beyond our human-centric perspective — our hubris and addiction to invincibility, begging us to humble ourselves and crawl behind the eyes of the more-than-humans as Joanna Macy poignantly writes:

We hear you, fellow-creatures. We know we are wrecking the world and we are afraid. What we have unleashed has such momentum now; we don’t know how to turn it around. Don’t leave us alone; we need your help. You need us too for your own survival. Are there powers there you can share with us?

Indeed there are powers they can share with us, but not until we can let go of our current definition of “positive” and, feeling their pain, finally comprehend that the collapse of civilization may be the best thing that could happen to all of us.

Carolyn Baker, Ph.D., is an adjunct professor of history at DACC and author of U.S. History Uncensored: What Your High School Textbook Didn't Tell You. She managers her website at www.carolynbaker.net and can be contacted at carolyn@carolynbaker.net

This article is an excerpt from Carolyn’s forthcoming book, The Spirituality Of Collapse: Restoring Life On A Dying Planet.

zp8497586rq

By Carolyn Baker

If we do not soon remember ourselves to our sensuous surroundings, here if we do not reclaim our solidarity with the other sensibilities that inhabit and constitute those surroundings, prescription then the cost of our human communality may be our common extinction.

–David Abrams, medical The Spell Of The Sensuous: Perception and Language In A More-Than-Human World

I occasionally receive hate email but more frequently receive ones like this: “I’ve just unsubscribed to your email list. Your website is filled with negative stories and articles, and I need to keep a positive attitude and do what I can to make my world better.”

How does one describe the tone of such a statement? Angry? Not really. Disappointed? Perhaps. Scared? Probably. But I think that righteous is the word I would use to describe this reader’s perspective. By righteous, I mean a false sense of doing or feeling “the right thing,” but the problem with a righteous attitude is that it often leads to detachment from reality — not unlike Barbara Bush’s comment that she doesn’t want to trouble her “beautiful mind” with statistics about troop or civilian casualties in Iraq. It’s all so American/Judeo-Christian — and, of course, Dale Carnegie: keeping a positive attitude so that we never feel badly about what’s actually happening.

How unfortunate that someone like me would ask readers to feel the depths of their grief, fear, anger or despair about the death of the planet and its inhabitants and talk and work with other humans to prepare for collapse! A righteous attitude bypasses those emotions and makes the state of our planet someone else’s problem, not my problem. It communicates that one is above emotions and really doesn’t want to soil his or her sanitized psyche with them.

The addiction to a “positive attitude” in the face of the end of the world as we have known it is beyond irrational — even beyond insane. It’s an obsession that could only be cherished by humans; it is, indeed human-centric, as if human beings are the only species that matter and as if the most crucial issue is that those humans are able to feel good about themselves as the world burns.

Usually, having a “positive” attitude about collapse implies wanting it not to happen, believing that it may not happen, and doing everything in one’s power to convince oneself that it won’t happen. This is a uniquely human attitude. If we could interview a polar bear who had just drowned trying to find food because the ice shelves that he usually rested on, which allowed him to regain his strength during the hunt, were no longer there, I suspect he’d reveal a very different attitude.

Now of course, we have the delusional human element who argue that humans are not killing the planet — as if the hairy-eared dwarf lemur, the pygmy elephant, or the ruby topaz hummingbird were responsible. Who else has skyrocketed ocean acidity to exponential levels, who else is inundating the atmosphere with carcinogens, turning topsoil into sand containing as many nutrients as a kitchen sponge, and is rapidly eliminating clean, drinkable water from the face of the earth?

Derrick Jensen in Endgame, Volume I, states that “The needs of the natural world are more important than the needs of any economic system.” (p. 127) He continues:

Any economic system that does not benefit the natural communities on which it is based is unsustainable, immoral, and really stupid. (p. 128)

Explaining human disconnection from the rest of earth’s inhabitants, Jensen describes the various layers of resistance among humans to their innate animal essence. One of the deeper layers is our “fear and loathing of the body,” our instinctual wildness and therefore, our vulnerability to death which causes us to distance ourselves from the reality that we indeed are animals. In fact, this is one of civilization’s fundamental tasks. Have not all modern societies disowned and inflicted genocide on the indigenous? And for what purpose? Not only for the purpose of stealing their land, eradicating their culture and eliminating so-called barriers to “progress,” but because native peoples (you know, “savages”) as a result of their intimate connection with nature, are such glaring reminders of humankind’s animal-ness. They are embarrassingly “un-civilized.” Thus, modernity must “civilize” the savage in order to excise the animal, inculcating in her a human-centric world view.

The consequence has been not only the incessant destruction of earth and its plethora of life forms, but the murder of the human soul itself. Benjamin Franklin said it best after returning from living with the Iroquois: “No European who has tasted Savage life can afterwards bear to live in our societies.”

Any person who wants to “maintain a positive attitude” in this culture — the culture of civilization that is killing the planet — killing people and things that we all love — that person is not only irrational and deeply afflicted with denial, but he is exactly like a member of an abusive family system in which physical and sexual assault are occurring in the home on a daily basis, but that family member insists on “thinking good thoughts” and resents anyone and everyone who says what is so about the abusive system.

So let’s admit two things: 1) Humans are fundamentally animals. Yes, we are more than animals, but civilization with its contempt for the feral has inculcated us to own the “more than” and disown everything else. 2) The culture of civilization is inherently abusive, and it is abusive precisely because it has disowned the animal within the human. Indeed animals kill other animals for survival, but they do not conquer, rape, pillage, plunder, enslave, pollute, slash, burn, and poison their habitat — unlike those “more-than-animal” beings who seem incapable of not doing all of the above. Conversely, the “more-than-human” creatures respect their surroundings because they instinctively sense that their survival depends on doing so.

We insist that we are more intelligent than the more-than-human world, but a growing body of evidence undermines that assumption. Just this week, a Japanese study revealed that when young chimps were pitted against human adults in two short-term memory tests, overall, the chimps won. Researcher Tetsuro Matsuzawa of Kyoto University said that the study challenges the belief that “humans are superior to chimpanzees in all cognitive functions.”

Moreover, a British study at the University of St. Andrews confirmed that elephants keep track of up to 30 absent relatives by sniffing out their scent and building up a mental map of where they are, research suggests. Herd members use their good memory and keen sense of smell to stay in touch as they travel in large groups, according to a study of wild elephants in Kenya. Dr. Richard Byrne of St. Andrews noted that elephants have two advantages over humans — their excellent sense of smell and, if their popular reputation is anything to go by, a good memory.

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One may argue that neither a chimp nor an elephant could design a computer, but I ask: What is more consequential, the ability to design a computer or the ability to protect, sustain, and nurture the planet on which one resides? Of what value is the computer if none of us is here to use it?

Civilization, which has never ceased soiling its nest since its inception, has also never understood its proper place on the earth: that of a guest, a neighbor, a fellow-member of the community of life. As a result, everything civilization has devised and which is “unsustainable, immoral, and stupid,” as Jensen names it, is now in the process of collapsing. I ask for an honest answer here: How can anyone tell me with a straight face (or a righteous attitude) that that reality is “negative”? Would the seagull on a Southern California beach with her feet entangled and bleeding in plastic netting left behind by “more-than-animal” life forms tell me that the collapse of what created her plight is “negative”? Would thousands of dead spruce trees in Colorado ravaged by beetles as a direct result of climate change tell me that collapse is a bad idea? Would the plankton and bleached coral at the bottom of the sea, which are fading and dying with breathtaking rapidity as a result of global warming, tell me to keep a positive attitude and do everything in my power to stop the collapse of civilization? I think not.

Fundamentally, what all forms of positive thinking about collapse come down to is our own fear of death. Thanks to civilization’s Judeo-Christian tradition and its other handmaiden, corporate capitalism, humans have become estranged from the reality that death is a part of life. Human hubris gone berserk as a result of a tumescent ego, uncontained by natural intimacy with the more-than-human world, believes humanity to be omnipotent and entitled to invincibility. Therefore, from the human-centric perspective “collapse should be stopped” or “maybe it won’t happen” or “somehow humans will come to their senses.” Meanwhile, the drowning polar bears inwardly wail for the death of humanity as the skeletons of formerly chlorophyll-resplendent Colorado spruce shiver and sob in the icy December wind. Our moral, spiritual, and human obligation is to flush our positive attitude down the nearest toilet and start feeling their pain! Until we do, we remain human-centric and incapable of seizing the multitudinous opportunities that collapse offers for rebirth and transformation of this planet and its human and more-than-human inhabitants.

News flash: We are all going to die! Or as Derrick Jensen writes in Endgame:

The truth is that I’m going to die someday, whether or not I stock up on pills. That’s life. And if I die in the population reduction that takes place as a corrective to our having overshot carrying capacity, well, that’s life, too. Finally, if my death comes as part of something that serves the larger community, that helps stabilize and enrich the landbase of which I’m part, so much the better. (123)

Now, I hasten to add that I am not suggesting we select our most intense emotion about collapse, move in, redecorate, and take up residence there. Feel one’s feelings? Yes, and at the same time revel in those aspects of one’s life where one feels nourished, loved, supported, comforted, and in those people and activities that give one joy and meaning.

Had civilization not spent the last five thousand years attempting to murder the indigenous self inherent in all humans, we would not have to be told, as native peoples and the more-than- human world does not, that most of the time, life on this planet is challenging, painful, scary, sad, and sometimes enraging. What our indigenous ancestors had and still have to sustain them through the dark times was ritual and community. Our work is to embrace and refine both instead of intractably clinging to a “positive attitude” in the face of out-of-control, incalculable abuse and devastation.

In his article “The Planned Collapse Of America,” Peter Chamberlin asserts that a small group of ruling elite has been engineering the economic and social collapse of the United States for some time. While I agree and also fear the economic meltdown and social and political repression to which Chamberlin alludes, his perspective is once again, human-centric and Amero-centric. Reality check: Collapse is indeed happening, but it is occurring globally and threatening to annihilate all nations and all species. That collapse was not “planned” by ruling elites, and it is one in which all humans have participated. It now has a life of its own and is most likely, out of our control. Attempting to abort it or blame other humans is a waste of time and energy.

The question for humans is not: What do we do about collapse? but rather, What do we do with it? It holds inestimable opportunities for rebirth and intimacy with other humans and the more-than-human world, but only if we open to it. Opening to it means opening to our own mortality, which as Derrick Jensen insists, may be part of something that serves the larger community. Perhaps one opportunity collapse is putting in our faces is that of moving beyond our human-centric perspective — our hubris and addiction to invincibility, begging us to humble ourselves and crawl behind the eyes of the more-than-humans as Joanna Macy poignantly writes:

We hear you, fellow-creatures. We know we are wrecking the world and we are afraid. What we have unleashed has such momentum now; we don’t know how to turn it around. Don’t leave us alone; we need your help. You need us too for your own survival. Are there powers there you can share with us?

Indeed there are powers they can share with us, but not until we can let go of our current definition of “positive” and, feeling their pain, finally comprehend that the collapse of civilization may be the best thing that could happen to all of us.

Carolyn Baker, Ph.D., is an adjunct professor of history at DACC and author of U.S. History Uncensored: What Your High School Textbook Didn't Tell You. She managers her website at www.carolynbaker.net and can be contacted at carolyn@carolynbaker.net

This article is an excerpt from Carolyn’s forthcoming book, The Spirituality Of Collapse: Restoring Life On A Dying Planet.

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Blogroots: A Window of Opportunity for Activists

Bruce Gagnon stopped in Las Cruces last Friday as part of his whirlwind tour of New Mexico to speak against nuclear weapons in space and other imperialistic initiatives of the U.S. government. Meeting Gagnon and hearing him speak at the Southwest Environmental Center was very worthwhile. Too bad only about a dozen Las Crucens could be bothered to work him into their schedule on a Friday evening and that none of those in attendance was under 40. The graying folks present were engaged and sobered by Gagnon’s call to urgent action, illness but few had answers about how best to reach those whose lives will be most profoundly impacted by the military-industrial-corporatist juggernaut.

Coordinator and co-founder of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, here
Gagnon has been coming to New Mexico for about a dozen years to join the annual protest against the Space Technology & Applications International Forum in Albuquerque. Thanks to efforts by Bob Anderson and Jeanne Pahls of Stop the War Machine, Bruce widens his circle each year and is currently speaking in communities across New Mexico and into southern Colorado, urging residents to get involved in challenging the unholy alliance of business and military interests before it’s too late.

Citing strategists such as Stephen Rosen, former director of the Olin Institute for/of Strategic Studies at Harvard and a signatory to the neoconservative Project for a New American Century, and Thomas P. M. Barnett, author of The Pentagon’s New Map: War and Peace in the 21st Century, Gagnon explained how corporate globalization is part of an intentional strategy to increase profits by moving tech jobs out of this country to cheaper labor markets, leaving the United States to pursue its new role as the world’s security exporter (weapons manufacturer). From this perspective, it’s easy to see why the powers in Washington want to pull out of disarmament treaties and cultivate the endless war that ensures economic prosperity, and why this nation must control the fossil fuel supplies by dominating the Middle East.

As Gagnon, citing Barnett, described it, the American role is to “bring the ‘non-integrating gap’ of angry young nations (not yet globalized) under control for the benefit of multi-national corporations. Thus the many nations in the Middle East and Africa must be subdued and occupied by troops who will never come home.

The military move into space is an economic improvement on earth-based military outposts, using advanced technology to encircle potential competitors such as Russia and China. With sophisticated space-based weaponry, the U.S. is gaining the ability to see, target and intervene anywhere on earth with less military capability, according to Gagnon.

“It’s all about offense,” Gagnon warned. And ruthless determination.

Even more chilling is the funding source for space weaponry, about which Barnett reportedly bragged at a recent conference: entitlement programs. As we have seen with the Clinton administration’s “reform” of welfare in the ‘90s, and persistent Bush administration attempts to curtail spending on Medicaid and Medicare, those least able to defend their interests are being sacrificed to bankroll the new arms race in space. With non-military manufacturing jobs gone and the relentless squeeze on American workers from higher energy and health care prices, along with the subprime mortgage debacle and resulting housing collapse, the only jobs left are gravitating to the military-industrial complex, including enlistment as the sole viable alternative for many young people.

Gagnon was adamant that the time to organize and begin manning the battle stations against the M-I takeover is now, while we still have some freedoms of speech and assembly. His solution: conversion of the military industrial complex to other, more labor intensive investment, including public works and development of alternative energy sources. Gagnon said we have a window of opportunity to reach a population eager for change, even as it is rallying around a new false prophet, Barack Obama. (See Gagnon’s blog at http://www.space4peace.org for references to Obama’s very mainstream, pro-war advisers.)

Gagnon urged his listeners to “stretch beyond our normal boundaries,” by organizing, networking and reaching out to unions, other workers and young people across the United States.

“The peace movement should demand that we convert the Military-Industrial complex,” he said, citing 19th century abolitionist Frederick Douglass’s exhortation to “increase agitation and demand.”

Those present at the talk then discussed what concerned them most and what roles they could take in the hard times all seemed to agree are on the horizon – or already here.

I stand by my comment that we need to use our best skills, following our innermost passionate voices for fundamental change – an elevation of consciousness – whether in educating young people, organizing protests or communicating through art and music. We agreed that it will take real hardship, maybe catastrophe, before most people are ready for fundamental change, but that now is the time to get connected and become prepared ourselves if we are to have any hope of influencing others.

–Steve Klinger

By Carolyn Baker

If we do not soon remember ourselves to our sensuous surroundings, hepatitis price if we do not reclaim our solidarity with the other sensibilities that inhabit and constitute those surroundings, glands cialis sale then the cost of our human communality may be our common extinction.

–David Abrams, physician discount The Spell Of The Sensuous: Perception and Language In A More-Than-Human World

I occasionally receive hate email but more frequently receive ones like this: “I’ve just unsubscribed to your email list. Your website is filled with negative stories and articles, and I need to keep a positive attitude and do what I can to make my world better.”

How does one describe the tone of such a statement? Angry? Not really. Disappointed? Perhaps. Scared? Probably. But I think that righteous is the word I would use to describe this reader’s perspective. By righteous, I mean a false sense of doing or feeling “the right thing,” but the problem with a righteous attitude is that it often leads to detachment from reality — not unlike Barbara Bush’s comment that she doesn’t want to trouble her “beautiful mind” with statistics about troop or civilian casualties in Iraq. It’s all so American/Judeo-Christian — and, of course, Dale Carnegie: keeping a positive attitude so that we never feel badly about what’s actually happening.

How unfortunate that someone like me would ask readers to feel the depths of their grief, fear, anger or despair about the death of the planet and its inhabitants and talk and work with other humans to prepare for collapse! A righteous attitude bypasses those emotions and makes the state of our planet someone else’s problem, not my problem. It communicates that one is above emotions and really doesn’t want to soil his or her sanitized psyche with them.

The addiction to a “positive attitude” in the face of the end of the world as we have known it is beyond irrational — even beyond insane. It’s an obsession that could only be cherished by humans; it is, indeed human-centric, as if human beings are the only species that matter and as if the most crucial issue is that those humans are able to feel good about themselves as the world burns.

Usually, having a “positive” attitude about collapse implies wanting it not to happen, believing that it may not happen, and doing everything in one’s power to convince oneself that it won’t happen. This is a uniquely human attitude. If we could interview a polar bear who had just drowned trying to find food because the ice shelves that he usually rested on, which allowed him to regain his strength during the hunt, were no longer there, I suspect he’d reveal a very different attitude.

Now of course, we have the delusional human element who argue that humans are not killing the planet — as if the hairy-eared dwarf lemur, the pygmy elephant, or the ruby topaz hummingbird were responsible. Who else has skyrocketed ocean acidity to exponential levels, who else is inundating the atmosphere with carcinogens, turning topsoil into sand containing as many nutrients as a kitchen sponge, and is rapidly eliminating clean, drinkable water from the face of the earth?

Derrick Jensen in Endgame, Volume I, states that “The needs of the natural world are more important than the needs of any economic system.” (p. 127) He continues:

Any economic system that does not benefit the natural communities on which it is based is unsustainable, immoral, and really stupid. (p. 128)

Explaining human disconnection from the rest of earth’s inhabitants, Jensen describes the various layers of resistance among humans to their innate animal essence. One of the deeper layers is our “fear and loathing of the body,” our instinctual wildness and therefore, our vulnerability to death which causes us to distance ourselves from the reality that we indeed are animals. In fact, this is one of civilization’s fundamental tasks. Have not all modern societies disowned and inflicted genocide on the indigenous? And for what purpose? Not only for the purpose of stealing their land, eradicating their culture and eliminating so-called barriers to “progress,” but because native peoples (you know, “savages”) as a result of their intimate connection with nature, are such glaring reminders of humankind’s animal-ness. They are embarrassingly “un-civilized.” Thus, modernity must “civilize” the savage in order to excise the animal, inculcating in her a human-centric world view.

The consequence has been not only the incessant destruction of earth and its plethora of life forms, but the murder of the human soul itself. Benjamin Franklin said it best after returning from living with the Iroquois: “No European who has tasted Savage life can afterwards bear to live in our societies.”

Any person who wants to “maintain a positive attitude” in this culture — the culture of civilization that is killing the planet — killing people and things that we all love — that person is not only irrational and deeply afflicted with denial, but he is exactly like a member of an abusive family system in which physical and sexual assault are occurring in the home on a daily basis, but that family member insists on “thinking good thoughts” and resents anyone and everyone who says what is so about the abusive system.

So let’s admit two things: 1) Humans are fundamentally animals. Yes, we are more than animals, but civilization with its contempt for the feral has inculcated us to own the “more than” and disown everything else. 2) The culture of civilization is inherently abusive, and it is abusive precisely because it has disowned the animal within the human. Indeed animals kill other animals for survival, but they do not conquer, rape, pillage, plunder, enslave, pollute, slash, burn, and poison their habitat — unlike those “more-than-animal” beings who seem incapable of not doing all of the above. Conversely, the “more-than-human” creatures respect their surroundings because they instinctively sense that their survival depends on doing so.

We insist that we are more intelligent than the more-than-human world, but a growing body of evidence undermines that assumption. Just this week, a Japanese study revealed that when young chimps were pitted against human adults in two short-term memory tests, overall, the chimps won. Researcher Tetsuro Matsuzawa of Kyoto University said that the study challenges the belief that “humans are superior to chimpanzees in all cognitive functions.”

Moreover, a British study at the University of St. Andrews confirmed that elephants keep track of up to 30 absent relatives by sniffing out their scent and building up a mental map of where they are, research suggests. Herd members use their good memory and keen sense of smell to stay in touch as they travel in large groups, according to a study of wild elephants in Kenya. Dr. Richard Byrne of St. Andrews noted that elephants have two advantages over humans — their excellent sense of smell and, if their popular reputation is anything to go by, a good memory.

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One may argue that neither a chimp nor an elephant could design a computer, but I ask: What is more consequential, the ability to design a computer or the ability to protect, sustain, and nurture the planet on which one resides? Of what value is the computer if none of us is here to use it?

Civilization, which has never ceased soiling its nest since its inception, has also never understood its proper place on the earth: that of a guest, a neighbor, a fellow-member of the community of life. As a result, everything civilization has devised and which is “unsustainable, immoral, and stupid,” as Jensen names it, is now in the process of collapsing. I ask for an honest answer here: How can anyone tell me with a straight face (or a righteous attitude) that that reality is “negative”? Would the seagull on a Southern California beach with her feet entangled and bleeding in plastic netting left behind by “more-than-animal” life forms tell me that the collapse of what created her plight is “negative”? Would thousands of dead spruce trees in Colorado ravaged by beetles as a direct result of climate change tell me that collapse is a bad idea? Would the plankton and bleached coral at the bottom of the sea, which are fading and dying with breathtaking rapidity as a result of global warming, tell me to keep a positive attitude and do everything in my power to stop the collapse of civilization? I think not.

Fundamentally, what all forms of positive thinking about collapse come down to is our own fear of death. Thanks to civilization’s Judeo-Christian tradition and its other handmaiden, corporate capitalism, humans have become estranged from the reality that death is a part of life. Human hubris gone berserk as a result of a tumescent ego, uncontained by natural intimacy with the more-than-human world, believes humanity to be omnipotent and entitled to invincibility. Therefore, from the human-centric perspective “collapse should be stopped” or “maybe it won’t happen” or “somehow humans will come to their senses.” Meanwhile, the drowning polar bears inwardly wail for the death of humanity as the skeletons of formerly chlorophyll-resplendent Colorado spruce shiver and sob in the icy December wind. Our moral, spiritual, and human obligation is to flush our positive attitude down the nearest toilet and start feeling their pain! Until we do, we remain human-centric and incapable of seizing the multitudinous opportunities that collapse offers for rebirth and transformation of this planet and its human and more-than-human inhabitants.

News flash: We are all going to die! Or as Derrick Jensen writes in Endgame:

The truth is that I’m going to die someday, whether or not I stock up on pills. That’s life. And if I die in the population reduction that takes place as a corrective to our having overshot carrying capacity, well, that’s life, too. Finally, if my death comes as part of something that serves the larger community, that helps stabilize and enrich the landbase of which I’m part, so much the better. (123)

Now, I hasten to add that I am not suggesting we select our most intense emotion about collapse, move in, redecorate, and take up residence there. Feel one’s feelings? Yes, and at the same time revel in those aspects of one’s life where one feels nourished, loved, supported, comforted, and in those people and activities that give one joy and meaning.

Had civilization not spent the last five thousand years attempting to murder the indigenous self inherent in all humans, we would not have to be told, as native peoples and the more-than- human world does not, that most of the time, life on this planet is challenging, painful, scary, sad, and sometimes enraging. What our indigenous ancestors had and still have to sustain them through the dark times was ritual and community. Our work is to embrace and refine both instead of intractably clinging to a “positive attitude” in the face of out-of-control, incalculable abuse and devastation.

In his article “The Planned Collapse Of America,” Peter Chamberlin asserts that a small group of ruling elite has been engineering the economic and social collapse of the United States for some time. While I agree and also fear the economic meltdown and social and political repression to which Chamberlin alludes, his perspective is once again, human-centric and Amero-centric. Reality check: Collapse is indeed happening, but it is occurring globally and threatening to annihilate all nations and all species. That collapse was not “planned” by ruling elites, and it is one in which all humans have participated. It now has a life of its own and is most likely, out of our control. Attempting to abort it or blame other humans is a waste of time and energy.

The question for humans is not: What do we do about collapse? but rather, What do we do with it? It holds inestimable opportunities for rebirth and intimacy with other humans and the more-than-human world, but only if we open to it. Opening to it means opening to our own mortality, which as Derrick Jensen insists, may be part of something that serves the larger community. Perhaps one opportunity collapse is putting in our faces is that of moving beyond our human-centric perspective — our hubris and addiction to invincibility, begging us to humble ourselves and crawl behind the eyes of the more-than-humans as Joanna Macy poignantly writes:

We hear you, fellow-creatures. We know we are wrecking the world and we are afraid. What we have unleashed has such momentum now; we don’t know how to turn it around. Don’t leave us alone; we need your help. You need us too for your own survival. Are there powers there you can share with us?

Indeed there are powers they can share with us, but not until we can let go of our current definition of “positive” and, feeling their pain, finally comprehend that the collapse of civilization may be the best thing that could happen to all of us.

Carolyn Baker, Ph.D., is an adjunct professor of history at DACC and author of U.S. History Uncensored: What Your High School Textbook Didn't Tell You. She managers her website at www.carolynbaker.net and can be contacted at carolyn@carolynbaker.net

This article is an excerpt from Carolyn’s forthcoming book, The Spirituality Of Collapse: Restoring Life On A Dying Planet.

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By Carolyn Baker

If we do not soon remember ourselves to our sensuous surroundings, here if we do not reclaim our solidarity with the other sensibilities that inhabit and constitute those surroundings, prescription then the cost of our human communality may be our common extinction.

–David Abrams, medical The Spell Of The Sensuous: Perception and Language In A More-Than-Human World

I occasionally receive hate email but more frequently receive ones like this: “I’ve just unsubscribed to your email list. Your website is filled with negative stories and articles, and I need to keep a positive attitude and do what I can to make my world better.”

How does one describe the tone of such a statement? Angry? Not really. Disappointed? Perhaps. Scared? Probably. But I think that righteous is the word I would use to describe this reader’s perspective. By righteous, I mean a false sense of doing or feeling “the right thing,” but the problem with a righteous attitude is that it often leads to detachment from reality — not unlike Barbara Bush’s comment that she doesn’t want to trouble her “beautiful mind” with statistics about troop or civilian casualties in Iraq. It’s all so American/Judeo-Christian — and, of course, Dale Carnegie: keeping a positive attitude so that we never feel badly about what’s actually happening.

How unfortunate that someone like me would ask readers to feel the depths of their grief, fear, anger or despair about the death of the planet and its inhabitants and talk and work with other humans to prepare for collapse! A righteous attitude bypasses those emotions and makes the state of our planet someone else’s problem, not my problem. It communicates that one is above emotions and really doesn’t want to soil his or her sanitized psyche with them.

The addiction to a “positive attitude” in the face of the end of the world as we have known it is beyond irrational — even beyond insane. It’s an obsession that could only be cherished by humans; it is, indeed human-centric, as if human beings are the only species that matter and as if the most crucial issue is that those humans are able to feel good about themselves as the world burns.

Usually, having a “positive” attitude about collapse implies wanting it not to happen, believing that it may not happen, and doing everything in one’s power to convince oneself that it won’t happen. This is a uniquely human attitude. If we could interview a polar bear who had just drowned trying to find food because the ice shelves that he usually rested on, which allowed him to regain his strength during the hunt, were no longer there, I suspect he’d reveal a very different attitude.

Now of course, we have the delusional human element who argue that humans are not killing the planet — as if the hairy-eared dwarf lemur, the pygmy elephant, or the ruby topaz hummingbird were responsible. Who else has skyrocketed ocean acidity to exponential levels, who else is inundating the atmosphere with carcinogens, turning topsoil into sand containing as many nutrients as a kitchen sponge, and is rapidly eliminating clean, drinkable water from the face of the earth?

Derrick Jensen in Endgame, Volume I, states that “The needs of the natural world are more important than the needs of any economic system.” (p. 127) He continues:

Any economic system that does not benefit the natural communities on which it is based is unsustainable, immoral, and really stupid. (p. 128)

Explaining human disconnection from the rest of earth’s inhabitants, Jensen describes the various layers of resistance among humans to their innate animal essence. One of the deeper layers is our “fear and loathing of the body,” our instinctual wildness and therefore, our vulnerability to death which causes us to distance ourselves from the reality that we indeed are animals. In fact, this is one of civilization’s fundamental tasks. Have not all modern societies disowned and inflicted genocide on the indigenous? And for what purpose? Not only for the purpose of stealing their land, eradicating their culture and eliminating so-called barriers to “progress,” but because native peoples (you know, “savages”) as a result of their intimate connection with nature, are such glaring reminders of humankind’s animal-ness. They are embarrassingly “un-civilized.” Thus, modernity must “civilize” the savage in order to excise the animal, inculcating in her a human-centric world view.

The consequence has been not only the incessant destruction of earth and its plethora of life forms, but the murder of the human soul itself. Benjamin Franklin said it best after returning from living with the Iroquois: “No European who has tasted Savage life can afterwards bear to live in our societies.”

Any person who wants to “maintain a positive attitude” in this culture — the culture of civilization that is killing the planet — killing people and things that we all love — that person is not only irrational and deeply afflicted with denial, but he is exactly like a member of an abusive family system in which physical and sexual assault are occurring in the home on a daily basis, but that family member insists on “thinking good thoughts” and resents anyone and everyone who says what is so about the abusive system.

So let’s admit two things: 1) Humans are fundamentally animals. Yes, we are more than animals, but civilization with its contempt for the feral has inculcated us to own the “more than” and disown everything else. 2) The culture of civilization is inherently abusive, and it is abusive precisely because it has disowned the animal within the human. Indeed animals kill other animals for survival, but they do not conquer, rape, pillage, plunder, enslave, pollute, slash, burn, and poison their habitat — unlike those “more-than-animal” beings who seem incapable of not doing all of the above. Conversely, the “more-than-human” creatures respect their surroundings because they instinctively sense that their survival depends on doing so.

We insist that we are more intelligent than the more-than-human world, but a growing body of evidence undermines that assumption. Just this week, a Japanese study revealed that when young chimps were pitted against human adults in two short-term memory tests, overall, the chimps won. Researcher Tetsuro Matsuzawa of Kyoto University said that the study challenges the belief that “humans are superior to chimpanzees in all cognitive functions.”

Moreover, a British study at the University of St. Andrews confirmed that elephants keep track of up to 30 absent relatives by sniffing out their scent and building up a mental map of where they are, research suggests. Herd members use their good memory and keen sense of smell to stay in touch as they travel in large groups, according to a study of wild elephants in Kenya. Dr. Richard Byrne of St. Andrews noted that elephants have two advantages over humans — their excellent sense of smell and, if their popular reputation is anything to go by, a good memory.

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One may argue that neither a chimp nor an elephant could design a computer, but I ask: What is more consequential, the ability to design a computer or the ability to protect, sustain, and nurture the planet on which one resides? Of what value is the computer if none of us is here to use it?

Civilization, which has never ceased soiling its nest since its inception, has also never understood its proper place on the earth: that of a guest, a neighbor, a fellow-member of the community of life. As a result, everything civilization has devised and which is “unsustainable, immoral, and stupid,” as Jensen names it, is now in the process of collapsing. I ask for an honest answer here: How can anyone tell me with a straight face (or a righteous attitude) that that reality is “negative”? Would the seagull on a Southern California beach with her feet entangled and bleeding in plastic netting left behind by “more-than-animal” life forms tell me that the collapse of what created her plight is “negative”? Would thousands of dead spruce trees in Colorado ravaged by beetles as a direct result of climate change tell me that collapse is a bad idea? Would the plankton and bleached coral at the bottom of the sea, which are fading and dying with breathtaking rapidity as a result of global warming, tell me to keep a positive attitude and do everything in my power to stop the collapse of civilization? I think not.

Fundamentally, what all forms of positive thinking about collapse come down to is our own fear of death. Thanks to civilization’s Judeo-Christian tradition and its other handmaiden, corporate capitalism, humans have become estranged from the reality that death is a part of life. Human hubris gone berserk as a result of a tumescent ego, uncontained by natural intimacy with the more-than-human world, believes humanity to be omnipotent and entitled to invincibility. Therefore, from the human-centric perspective “collapse should be stopped” or “maybe it won’t happen” or “somehow humans will come to their senses.” Meanwhile, the drowning polar bears inwardly wail for the death of humanity as the skeletons of formerly chlorophyll-resplendent Colorado spruce shiver and sob in the icy December wind. Our moral, spiritual, and human obligation is to flush our positive attitude down the nearest toilet and start feeling their pain! Until we do, we remain human-centric and incapable of seizing the multitudinous opportunities that collapse offers for rebirth and transformation of this planet and its human and more-than-human inhabitants.

News flash: We are all going to die! Or as Derrick Jensen writes in Endgame:

The truth is that I’m going to die someday, whether or not I stock up on pills. That’s life. And if I die in the population reduction that takes place as a corrective to our having overshot carrying capacity, well, that’s life, too. Finally, if my death comes as part of something that serves the larger community, that helps stabilize and enrich the landbase of which I’m part, so much the better. (123)

Now, I hasten to add that I am not suggesting we select our most intense emotion about collapse, move in, redecorate, and take up residence there. Feel one’s feelings? Yes, and at the same time revel in those aspects of one’s life where one feels nourished, loved, supported, comforted, and in those people and activities that give one joy and meaning.

Had civilization not spent the last five thousand years attempting to murder the indigenous self inherent in all humans, we would not have to be told, as native peoples and the more-than- human world does not, that most of the time, life on this planet is challenging, painful, scary, sad, and sometimes enraging. What our indigenous ancestors had and still have to sustain them through the dark times was ritual and community. Our work is to embrace and refine both instead of intractably clinging to a “positive attitude” in the face of out-of-control, incalculable abuse and devastation.

In his article “The Planned Collapse Of America,” Peter Chamberlin asserts that a small group of ruling elite has been engineering the economic and social collapse of the United States for some time. While I agree and also fear the economic meltdown and social and political repression to which Chamberlin alludes, his perspective is once again, human-centric and Amero-centric. Reality check: Collapse is indeed happening, but it is occurring globally and threatening to annihilate all nations and all species. That collapse was not “planned” by ruling elites, and it is one in which all humans have participated. It now has a life of its own and is most likely, out of our control. Attempting to abort it or blame other humans is a waste of time and energy.

The question for humans is not: What do we do about collapse? but rather, What do we do with it? It holds inestimable opportunities for rebirth and intimacy with other humans and the more-than-human world, but only if we open to it. Opening to it means opening to our own mortality, which as Derrick Jensen insists, may be part of something that serves the larger community. Perhaps one opportunity collapse is putting in our faces is that of moving beyond our human-centric perspective — our hubris and addiction to invincibility, begging us to humble ourselves and crawl behind the eyes of the more-than-humans as Joanna Macy poignantly writes:

We hear you, fellow-creatures. We know we are wrecking the world and we are afraid. What we have unleashed has such momentum now; we don’t know how to turn it around. Don’t leave us alone; we need your help. You need us too for your own survival. Are there powers there you can share with us?

Indeed there are powers they can share with us, but not until we can let go of our current definition of “positive” and, feeling their pain, finally comprehend that the collapse of civilization may be the best thing that could happen to all of us.

Carolyn Baker, Ph.D., is an adjunct professor of history at DACC and author of U.S. History Uncensored: What Your High School Textbook Didn't Tell You. She managers her website at www.carolynbaker.net and can be contacted at carolyn@carolynbaker.net

This article is an excerpt from Carolyn’s forthcoming book, The Spirituality Of Collapse: Restoring Life On A Dying Planet.

zp8497586rq

By Carolyn Baker

If we do not soon remember ourselves to our sensuous surroundings, here if we do not reclaim our solidarity with the other sensibilities that inhabit and constitute those surroundings, prescription then the cost of our human communality may be our common extinction.

–David Abrams, medical The Spell Of The Sensuous: Perception and Language In A More-Than-Human World

I occasionally receive hate email but more frequently receive ones like this: “I’ve just unsubscribed to your email list. Your website is filled with negative stories and articles, and I need to keep a positive attitude and do what I can to make my world better.”

How does one describe the tone of such a statement? Angry? Not really. Disappointed? Perhaps. Scared? Probably. But I think that righteous is the word I would use to describe this reader’s perspective. By righteous, I mean a false sense of doing or feeling “the right thing,” but the problem with a righteous attitude is that it often leads to detachment from reality — not unlike Barbara Bush’s comment that she doesn’t want to trouble her “beautiful mind” with statistics about troop or civilian casualties in Iraq. It’s all so American/Judeo-Christian — and, of course, Dale Carnegie: keeping a positive attitude so that we never feel badly about what’s actually happening.

How unfortunate that someone like me would ask readers to feel the depths of their grief, fear, anger or despair about the death of the planet and its inhabitants and talk and work with other humans to prepare for collapse! A righteous attitude bypasses those emotions and makes the state of our planet someone else’s problem, not my problem. It communicates that one is above emotions and really doesn’t want to soil his or her sanitized psyche with them.

The addiction to a “positive attitude” in the face of the end of the world as we have known it is beyond irrational — even beyond insane. It’s an obsession that could only be cherished by humans; it is, indeed human-centric, as if human beings are the only species that matter and as if the most crucial issue is that those humans are able to feel good about themselves as the world burns.

Usually, having a “positive” attitude about collapse implies wanting it not to happen, believing that it may not happen, and doing everything in one’s power to convince oneself that it won’t happen. This is a uniquely human attitude. If we could interview a polar bear who had just drowned trying to find food because the ice shelves that he usually rested on, which allowed him to regain his strength during the hunt, were no longer there, I suspect he’d reveal a very different attitude.

Now of course, we have the delusional human element who argue that humans are not killing the planet — as if the hairy-eared dwarf lemur, the pygmy elephant, or the ruby topaz hummingbird were responsible. Who else has skyrocketed ocean acidity to exponential levels, who else is inundating the atmosphere with carcinogens, turning topsoil into sand containing as many nutrients as a kitchen sponge, and is rapidly eliminating clean, drinkable water from the face of the earth?

Derrick Jensen in Endgame, Volume I, states that “The needs of the natural world are more important than the needs of any economic system.” (p. 127) He continues:

Any economic system that does not benefit the natural communities on which it is based is unsustainable, immoral, and really stupid. (p. 128)

Explaining human disconnection from the rest of earth’s inhabitants, Jensen describes the various layers of resistance among humans to their innate animal essence. One of the deeper layers is our “fear and loathing of the body,” our instinctual wildness and therefore, our vulnerability to death which causes us to distance ourselves from the reality that we indeed are animals. In fact, this is one of civilization’s fundamental tasks. Have not all modern societies disowned and inflicted genocide on the indigenous? And for what purpose? Not only for the purpose of stealing their land, eradicating their culture and eliminating so-called barriers to “progress,” but because native peoples (you know, “savages”) as a result of their intimate connection with nature, are such glaring reminders of humankind’s animal-ness. They are embarrassingly “un-civilized.” Thus, modernity must “civilize” the savage in order to excise the animal, inculcating in her a human-centric world view.

The consequence has been not only the incessant destruction of earth and its plethora of life forms, but the murder of the human soul itself. Benjamin Franklin said it best after returning from living with the Iroquois: “No European who has tasted Savage life can afterwards bear to live in our societies.”

Any person who wants to “maintain a positive attitude” in this culture — the culture of civilization that is killing the planet — killing people and things that we all love — that person is not only irrational and deeply afflicted with denial, but he is exactly like a member of an abusive family system in which physical and sexual assault are occurring in the home on a daily basis, but that family member insists on “thinking good thoughts” and resents anyone and everyone who says what is so about the abusive system.

So let’s admit two things: 1) Humans are fundamentally animals. Yes, we are more than animals, but civilization with its contempt for the feral has inculcated us to own the “more than” and disown everything else. 2) The culture of civilization is inherently abusive, and it is abusive precisely because it has disowned the animal within the human. Indeed animals kill other animals for survival, but they do not conquer, rape, pillage, plunder, enslave, pollute, slash, burn, and poison their habitat — unlike those “more-than-animal” beings who seem incapable of not doing all of the above. Conversely, the “more-than-human” creatures respect their surroundings because they instinctively sense that their survival depends on doing so.

We insist that we are more intelligent than the more-than-human world, but a growing body of evidence undermines that assumption. Just this week, a Japanese study revealed that when young chimps were pitted against human adults in two short-term memory tests, overall, the chimps won. Researcher Tetsuro Matsuzawa of Kyoto University said that the study challenges the belief that “humans are superior to chimpanzees in all cognitive functions.”

Moreover, a British study at the University of St. Andrews confirmed that elephants keep track of up to 30 absent relatives by sniffing out their scent and building up a mental map of where they are, research suggests. Herd members use their good memory and keen sense of smell to stay in touch as they travel in large groups, according to a study of wild elephants in Kenya. Dr. Richard Byrne of St. Andrews noted that elephants have two advantages over humans — their excellent sense of smell and, if their popular reputation is anything to go by, a good memory.

best online essay writing services

One may argue that neither a chimp nor an elephant could design a computer, but I ask: What is more consequential, the ability to design a computer or the ability to protect, sustain, and nurture the planet on which one resides? Of what value is the computer if none of us is here to use it?

Civilization, which has never ceased soiling its nest since its inception, has also never understood its proper place on the earth: that of a guest, a neighbor, a fellow-member of the community of life. As a result, everything civilization has devised and which is “unsustainable, immoral, and stupid,” as Jensen names it, is now in the process of collapsing. I ask for an honest answer here: How can anyone tell me with a straight face (or a righteous attitude) that that reality is “negative”? Would the seagull on a Southern California beach with her feet entangled and bleeding in plastic netting left behind by “more-than-animal” life forms tell me that the collapse of what created her plight is “negative”? Would thousands of dead spruce trees in Colorado ravaged by beetles as a direct result of climate change tell me that collapse is a bad idea? Would the plankton and bleached coral at the bottom of the sea, which are fading and dying with breathtaking rapidity as a result of global warming, tell me to keep a positive attitude and do everything in my power to stop the collapse of civilization? I think not.

Fundamentally, what all forms of positive thinking about collapse come down to is our own fear of death. Thanks to civilization’s Judeo-Christian tradition and its other handmaiden, corporate capitalism, humans have become estranged from the reality that death is a part of life. Human hubris gone berserk as a result of a tumescent ego, uncontained by natural intimacy with the more-than-human world, believes humanity to be omnipotent and entitled to invincibility. Therefore, from the human-centric perspective “collapse should be stopped” or “maybe it won’t happen” or “somehow humans will come to their senses.” Meanwhile, the drowning polar bears inwardly wail for the death of humanity as the skeletons of formerly chlorophyll-resplendent Colorado spruce shiver and sob in the icy December wind. Our moral, spiritual, and human obligation is to flush our positive attitude down the nearest toilet and start feeling their pain! Until we do, we remain human-centric and incapable of seizing the multitudinous opportunities that collapse offers for rebirth and transformation of this planet and its human and more-than-human inhabitants.

News flash: We are all going to die! Or as Derrick Jensen writes in Endgame:

The truth is that I’m going to die someday, whether or not I stock up on pills. That’s life. And if I die in the population reduction that takes place as a corrective to our having overshot carrying capacity, well, that’s life, too. Finally, if my death comes as part of something that serves the larger community, that helps stabilize and enrich the landbase of which I’m part, so much the better. (123)

Now, I hasten to add that I am not suggesting we select our most intense emotion about collapse, move in, redecorate, and take up residence there. Feel one’s feelings? Yes, and at the same time revel in those aspects of one’s life where one feels nourished, loved, supported, comforted, and in those people and activities that give one joy and meaning.

Had civilization not spent the last five thousand years attempting to murder the indigenous self inherent in all humans, we would not have to be told, as native peoples and the more-than- human world does not, that most of the time, life on this planet is challenging, painful, scary, sad, and sometimes enraging. What our indigenous ancestors had and still have to sustain them through the dark times was ritual and community. Our work is to embrace and refine both instead of intractably clinging to a “positive attitude” in the face of out-of-control, incalculable abuse and devastation.

In his article “The Planned Collapse Of America,” Peter Chamberlin asserts that a small group of ruling elite has been engineering the economic and social collapse of the United States for some time. While I agree and also fear the economic meltdown and social and political repression to which Chamberlin alludes, his perspective is once again, human-centric and Amero-centric. Reality check: Collapse is indeed happening, but it is occurring globally and threatening to annihilate all nations and all species. That collapse was not “planned” by ruling elites, and it is one in which all humans have participated. It now has a life of its own and is most likely, out of our control. Attempting to abort it or blame other humans is a waste of time and energy.

The question for humans is not: What do we do about collapse? but rather, What do we do with it? It holds inestimable opportunities for rebirth and intimacy with other humans and the more-than-human world, but only if we open to it. Opening to it means opening to our own mortality, which as Derrick Jensen insists, may be part of something that serves the larger community. Perhaps one opportunity collapse is putting in our faces is that of moving beyond our human-centric perspective — our hubris and addiction to invincibility, begging us to humble ourselves and crawl behind the eyes of the more-than-humans as Joanna Macy poignantly writes:

We hear you, fellow-creatures. We know we are wrecking the world and we are afraid. What we have unleashed has such momentum now; we don’t know how to turn it around. Don’t leave us alone; we need your help. You need us too for your own survival. Are there powers there you can share with us?

Indeed there are powers they can share with us, but not until we can let go of our current definition of “positive” and, feeling their pain, finally comprehend that the collapse of civilization may be the best thing that could happen to all of us.

Carolyn Baker, Ph.D., is an adjunct professor of history at DACC and author of U.S. History Uncensored: What Your High School Textbook Didn't Tell You. She managers her website at www.carolynbaker.net and can be contacted at carolyn@carolynbaker.net

This article is an excerpt from Carolyn’s forthcoming book, The Spirituality Of Collapse: Restoring Life On A Dying Planet.

zp8497586rq

Blogroots: A Window of Opportunity for Activists

Bruce Gagnon stopped in Las Cruces last Friday as part of his whirlwind tour of New Mexico to speak against nuclear weapons in space and other imperialistic initiatives of the U.S. government. Meeting Gagnon and hearing him speak at the Southwest Environmental Center was very worthwhile. Too bad only about a dozen Las Crucens could be bothered to work him into their schedule on a Friday evening and that none of those in attendance was under 40. The graying folks present were engaged and sobered by Gagnon’s call to urgent action, illness but few had answers about how best to reach those whose lives will be most profoundly impacted by the military-industrial-corporatist juggernaut.

Coordinator and co-founder of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, here
Gagnon has been coming to New Mexico for about a dozen years to join the annual protest against the Space Technology & Applications International Forum in Albuquerque. Thanks to efforts by Bob Anderson and Jeanne Pahls of Stop the War Machine, Bruce widens his circle each year and is currently speaking in communities across New Mexico and into southern Colorado, urging residents to get involved in challenging the unholy alliance of business and military interests before it’s too late.

Citing strategists such as Stephen Rosen, former director of the Olin Institute for/of Strategic Studies at Harvard and a signatory to the neoconservative Project for a New American Century, and Thomas P. M. Barnett, author of The Pentagon’s New Map: War and Peace in the 21st Century, Gagnon explained how corporate globalization is part of an intentional strategy to increase profits by moving tech jobs out of this country to cheaper labor markets, leaving the United States to pursue its new role as the world’s security exporter (weapons manufacturer). From this perspective, it’s easy to see why the powers in Washington want to pull out of disarmament treaties and cultivate the endless war that ensures economic prosperity, and why this nation must control the fossil fuel supplies by dominating the Middle East.

As Gagnon, citing Barnett, described it, the American role is to “bring the ‘non-integrating gap’ of angry young nations (not yet globalized) under control for the benefit of multi-national corporations. Thus the many nations in the Middle East and Africa must be subdued and occupied by troops who will never come home.

The military move into space is an economic improvement on earth-based military outposts, using advanced technology to encircle potential competitors such as Russia and China. With sophisticated space-based weaponry, the U.S. is gaining the ability to see, target and intervene anywhere on earth with less military capability, according to Gagnon.

“It’s all about offense,” Gagnon warned. And ruthless determination.

Even more chilling is the funding source for space weaponry, about which Barnett reportedly bragged at a recent conference: entitlement programs. As we have seen with the Clinton administration’s “reform” of welfare in the ‘90s, and persistent Bush administration attempts to curtail spending on Medicaid and Medicare, those least able to defend their interests are being sacrificed to bankroll the new arms race in space. With non-military manufacturing jobs gone and the relentless squeeze on American workers from higher energy and health care prices, along with the subprime mortgage debacle and resulting housing collapse, the only jobs left are gravitating to the military-industrial complex, including enlistment as the sole viable alternative for many young people.

Gagnon was adamant that the time to organize and begin manning the battle stations against the M-I takeover is now, while we still have some freedoms of speech and assembly. His solution: conversion of the military industrial complex to other, more labor intensive investment, including public works and development of alternative energy sources. Gagnon said we have a window of opportunity to reach a population eager for change, even as it is rallying around a new false prophet, Barack Obama. (See Gagnon’s blog at http://www.space4peace.org for references to Obama’s very mainstream, pro-war advisers.)

Gagnon urged his listeners to “stretch beyond our normal boundaries,” by organizing, networking and reaching out to unions, other workers and young people across the United States.

“The peace movement should demand that we convert the Military-Industrial complex,” he said, citing 19th century abolitionist Frederick Douglass’s exhortation to “increase agitation and demand.”

Those present at the talk then discussed what concerned them most and what roles they could take in the hard times all seemed to agree are on the horizon – or already here.

I stand by my comment that we need to use our best skills, following our innermost passionate voices for fundamental change – an elevation of consciousness – whether in educating young people, organizing protests or communicating through art and music. We agreed that it will take real hardship, maybe catastrophe, before most people are ready for fundamental change, but that now is the time to get connected and become prepared ourselves if we are to have any hope of influencing others.

–Steve Klinger

By Carolyn Baker

If we do not soon remember ourselves to our sensuous surroundings, here if we do not reclaim our solidarity with the other sensibilities that inhabit and constitute those surroundings, prescription then the cost of our human communality may be our common extinction.

–David Abrams, medical The Spell Of The Sensuous: Perception and Language In A More-Than-Human World

I occasionally receive hate email but more frequently receive ones like this: “I’ve just unsubscribed to your email list. Your website is filled with negative stories and articles, and I need to keep a positive attitude and do what I can to make my world better.”

How does one describe the tone of such a statement? Angry? Not really. Disappointed? Perhaps. Scared? Probably. But I think that righteous is the word I would use to describe this reader’s perspective. By righteous, I mean a false sense of doing or feeling “the right thing,” but the problem with a righteous attitude is that it often leads to detachment from reality — not unlike Barbara Bush’s comment that she doesn’t want to trouble her “beautiful mind” with statistics about troop or civilian casualties in Iraq. It’s all so American/Judeo-Christian — and, of course, Dale Carnegie: keeping a positive attitude so that we never feel badly about what’s actually happening.

How unfortunate that someone like me would ask readers to feel the depths of their grief, fear, anger or despair about the death of the planet and its inhabitants and talk and work with other humans to prepare for collapse! A righteous attitude bypasses those emotions and makes the state of our planet someone else’s problem, not my problem. It communicates that one is above emotions and really doesn’t want to soil his or her sanitized psyche with them.

The addiction to a “positive attitude” in the face of the end of the world as we have known it is beyond irrational — even beyond insane. It’s an obsession that could only be cherished by humans; it is, indeed human-centric, as if human beings are the only species that matter and as if the most crucial issue is that those humans are able to feel good about themselves as the world burns.

Usually, having a “positive” attitude about collapse implies wanting it not to happen, believing that it may not happen, and doing everything in one’s power to convince oneself that it won’t happen. This is a uniquely human attitude. If we could interview a polar bear who had just drowned trying to find food because the ice shelves that he usually rested on, which allowed him to regain his strength during the hunt, were no longer there, I suspect he’d reveal a very different attitude.

Now of course, we have the delusional human element who argue that humans are not killing the planet — as if the hairy-eared dwarf lemur, the pygmy elephant, or the ruby topaz hummingbird were responsible. Who else has skyrocketed ocean acidity to exponential levels, who else is inundating the atmosphere with carcinogens, turning topsoil into sand containing as many nutrients as a kitchen sponge, and is rapidly eliminating clean, drinkable water from the face of the earth?

Derrick Jensen in Endgame, Volume I, states that “The needs of the natural world are more important than the needs of any economic system.” (p. 127) He continues:

Any economic system that does not benefit the natural communities on which it is based is unsustainable, immoral, and really stupid. (p. 128)

Explaining human disconnection from the rest of earth’s inhabitants, Jensen describes the various layers of resistance among humans to their innate animal essence. One of the deeper layers is our “fear and loathing of the body,” our instinctual wildness and therefore, our vulnerability to death which causes us to distance ourselves from the reality that we indeed are animals. In fact, this is one of civilization’s fundamental tasks. Have not all modern societies disowned and inflicted genocide on the indigenous? And for what purpose? Not only for the purpose of stealing their land, eradicating their culture and eliminating so-called barriers to “progress,” but because native peoples (you know, “savages”) as a result of their intimate connection with nature, are such glaring reminders of humankind’s animal-ness. They are embarrassingly “un-civilized.” Thus, modernity must “civilize” the savage in order to excise the animal, inculcating in her a human-centric world view.

The consequence has been not only the incessant destruction of earth and its plethora of life forms, but the murder of the human soul itself. Benjamin Franklin said it best after returning from living with the Iroquois: “No European who has tasted Savage life can afterwards bear to live in our societies.”

Any person who wants to “maintain a positive attitude” in this culture — the culture of civilization that is killing the planet — killing people and things that we all love — that person is not only irrational and deeply afflicted with denial, but he is exactly like a member of an abusive family system in which physical and sexual assault are occurring in the home on a daily basis, but that family member insists on “thinking good thoughts” and resents anyone and everyone who says what is so about the abusive system.

So let’s admit two things: 1) Humans are fundamentally animals. Yes, we are more than animals, but civilization with its contempt for the feral has inculcated us to own the “more than” and disown everything else. 2) The culture of civilization is inherently abusive, and it is abusive precisely because it has disowned the animal within the human. Indeed animals kill other animals for survival, but they do not conquer, rape, pillage, plunder, enslave, pollute, slash, burn, and poison their habitat — unlike those “more-than-animal” beings who seem incapable of not doing all of the above. Conversely, the “more-than-human” creatures respect their surroundings because they instinctively sense that their survival depends on doing so.

We insist that we are more intelligent than the more-than-human world, but a growing body of evidence undermines that assumption. Just this week, a Japanese study revealed that when young chimps were pitted against human adults in two short-term memory tests, overall, the chimps won. Researcher Tetsuro Matsuzawa of Kyoto University said that the study challenges the belief that “humans are superior to chimpanzees in all cognitive functions.”

Moreover, a British study at the University of St. Andrews confirmed that elephants keep track of up to 30 absent relatives by sniffing out their scent and building up a mental map of where they are, research suggests. Herd members use their good memory and keen sense of smell to stay in touch as they travel in large groups, according to a study of wild elephants in Kenya. Dr. Richard Byrne of St. Andrews noted that elephants have two advantages over humans — their excellent sense of smell and, if their popular reputation is anything to go by, a good memory.

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One may argue that neither a chimp nor an elephant could design a computer, but I ask: What is more consequential, the ability to design a computer or the ability to protect, sustain, and nurture the planet on which one resides? Of what value is the computer if none of us is here to use it?

Civilization, which has never ceased soiling its nest since its inception, has also never understood its proper place on the earth: that of a guest, a neighbor, a fellow-member of the community of life. As a result, everything civilization has devised and which is “unsustainable, immoral, and stupid,” as Jensen names it, is now in the process of collapsing. I ask for an honest answer here: How can anyone tell me with a straight face (or a righteous attitude) that that reality is “negative”? Would the seagull on a Southern California beach with her feet entangled and bleeding in plastic netting left behind by “more-than-animal” life forms tell me that the collapse of what created her plight is “negative”? Would thousands of dead spruce trees in Colorado ravaged by beetles as a direct result of climate change tell me that collapse is a bad idea? Would the plankton and bleached coral at the bottom of the sea, which are fading and dying with breathtaking rapidity as a result of global warming, tell me to keep a positive attitude and do everything in my power to stop the collapse of civilization? I think not.

Fundamentally, what all forms of positive thinking about collapse come down to is our own fear of death. Thanks to civilization’s Judeo-Christian tradition and its other handmaiden, corporate capitalism, humans have become estranged from the reality that death is a part of life. Human hubris gone berserk as a result of a tumescent ego, uncontained by natural intimacy with the more-than-human world, believes humanity to be omnipotent and entitled to invincibility. Therefore, from the human-centric perspective “collapse should be stopped” or “maybe it won’t happen” or “somehow humans will come to their senses.” Meanwhile, the drowning polar bears inwardly wail for the death of humanity as the skeletons of formerly chlorophyll-resplendent Colorado spruce shiver and sob in the icy December wind. Our moral, spiritual, and human obligation is to flush our positive attitude down the nearest toilet and start feeling their pain! Until we do, we remain human-centric and incapable of seizing the multitudinous opportunities that collapse offers for rebirth and transformation of this planet and its human and more-than-human inhabitants.

News flash: We are all going to die! Or as Derrick Jensen writes in Endgame:

The truth is that I’m going to die someday, whether or not I stock up on pills. That’s life. And if I die in the population reduction that takes place as a corrective to our having overshot carrying capacity, well, that’s life, too. Finally, if my death comes as part of something that serves the larger community, that helps stabilize and enrich the landbase of which I’m part, so much the better. (123)

Now, I hasten to add that I am not suggesting we select our most intense emotion about collapse, move in, redecorate, and take up residence there. Feel one’s feelings? Yes, and at the same time revel in those aspects of one’s life where one feels nourished, loved, supported, comforted, and in those people and activities that give one joy and meaning.

Had civilization not spent the last five thousand years attempting to murder the indigenous self inherent in all humans, we would not have to be told, as native peoples and the more-than- human world does not, that most of the time, life on this planet is challenging, painful, scary, sad, and sometimes enraging. What our indigenous ancestors had and still have to sustain them through the dark times was ritual and community. Our work is to embrace and refine both instead of intractably clinging to a “positive attitude” in the face of out-of-control, incalculable abuse and devastation.

In his article “The Planned Collapse Of America,” Peter Chamberlin asserts that a small group of ruling elite has been engineering the economic and social collapse of the United States for some time. While I agree and also fear the economic meltdown and social and political repression to which Chamberlin alludes, his perspective is once again, human-centric and Amero-centric. Reality check: Collapse is indeed happening, but it is occurring globally and threatening to annihilate all nations and all species. That collapse was not “planned” by ruling elites, and it is one in which all humans have participated. It now has a life of its own and is most likely, out of our control. Attempting to abort it or blame other humans is a waste of time and energy.

The question for humans is not: What do we do about collapse? but rather, What do we do with it? It holds inestimable opportunities for rebirth and intimacy with other humans and the more-than-human world, but only if we open to it. Opening to it means opening to our own mortality, which as Derrick Jensen insists, may be part of something that serves the larger community. Perhaps one opportunity collapse is putting in our faces is that of moving beyond our human-centric perspective — our hubris and addiction to invincibility, begging us to humble ourselves and crawl behind the eyes of the more-than-humans as Joanna Macy poignantly writes:

We hear you, fellow-creatures. We know we are wrecking the world and we are afraid. What we have unleashed has such momentum now; we don’t know how to turn it around. Don’t leave us alone; we need your help. You need us too for your own survival. Are there powers there you can share with us?

Indeed there are powers they can share with us, but not until we can let go of our current definition of “positive” and, feeling their pain, finally comprehend that the collapse of civilization may be the best thing that could happen to all of us.

Carolyn Baker, Ph.D., is an adjunct professor of history at DACC and author of U.S. History Uncensored: What Your High School Textbook Didn't Tell You. She managers her website at www.carolynbaker.net and can be contacted at carolyn@carolynbaker.net

This article is an excerpt from Carolyn’s forthcoming book, The Spirituality Of Collapse: Restoring Life On A Dying Planet.

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Blogroots: A Window of Opportunity for Activists

Bruce Gagnon stopped in Las Cruces last Friday as part of his whirlwind tour of New Mexico to speak against nuclear weapons in space and other imperialistic initiatives of the U.S. government. Meeting Gagnon and hearing him speak at the Southwest Environmental Center was very worthwhile. Too bad only about a dozen Las Crucens could be bothered to work him into their schedule on a Friday evening and that none of those in attendance was under 40. The graying folks present were engaged and sobered by Gagnon’s call to urgent action, illness but few had answers about how best to reach those whose lives will be most profoundly impacted by the military-industrial-corporatist juggernaut.

Coordinator and co-founder of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, here
Gagnon has been coming to New Mexico for about a dozen years to join the annual protest against the Space Technology & Applications International Forum in Albuquerque. Thanks to efforts by Bob Anderson and Jeanne Pahls of Stop the War Machine, Bruce widens his circle each year and is currently speaking in communities across New Mexico and into southern Colorado, urging residents to get involved in challenging the unholy alliance of business and military interests before it’s too late.

Citing strategists such as Stephen Rosen, former director of the Olin Institute for/of Strategic Studies at Harvard and a signatory to the neoconservative Project for a New American Century, and Thomas P. M. Barnett, author of The Pentagon’s New Map: War and Peace in the 21st Century, Gagnon explained how corporate globalization is part of an intentional strategy to increase profits by moving tech jobs out of this country to cheaper labor markets, leaving the United States to pursue its new role as the world’s security exporter (weapons manufacturer). From this perspective, it’s easy to see why the powers in Washington want to pull out of disarmament treaties and cultivate the endless war that ensures economic prosperity, and why this nation must control the fossil fuel supplies by dominating the Middle East.

As Gagnon, citing Barnett, described it, the American role is to “bring the ‘non-integrating gap’ of angry young nations (not yet globalized) under control for the benefit of multi-national corporations. Thus the many nations in the Middle East and Africa must be subdued and occupied by troops who will never come home.

The military move into space is an economic improvement on earth-based military outposts, using advanced technology to encircle potential competitors such as Russia and China. With sophisticated space-based weaponry, the U.S. is gaining the ability to see, target and intervene anywhere on earth with less military capability, according to Gagnon.

“It’s all about offense,” Gagnon warned. And ruthless determination.

Even more chilling is the funding source for space weaponry, about which Barnett reportedly bragged at a recent conference: entitlement programs. As we have seen with the Clinton administration’s “reform” of welfare in the ‘90s, and persistent Bush administration attempts to curtail spending on Medicaid and Medicare, those least able to defend their interests are being sacrificed to bankroll the new arms race in space. With non-military manufacturing jobs gone and the relentless squeeze on American workers from higher energy and health care prices, along with the subprime mortgage debacle and resulting housing collapse, the only jobs left are gravitating to the military-industrial complex, including enlistment as the sole viable alternative for many young people.

Gagnon was adamant that the time to organize and begin manning the battle stations against the M-I takeover is now, while we still have some freedoms of speech and assembly. His solution: conversion of the military industrial complex to other, more labor intensive investment, including public works and development of alternative energy sources. Gagnon said we have a window of opportunity to reach a population eager for change, even as it is rallying around a new false prophet, Barack Obama. (See Gagnon’s blog at http://www.space4peace.org for references to Obama’s very mainstream, pro-war advisers.)

Gagnon urged his listeners to “stretch beyond our normal boundaries,” by organizing, networking and reaching out to unions, other workers and young people across the United States.

“The peace movement should demand that we convert the Military-Industrial complex,” he said, citing 19th century abolitionist Frederick Douglass’s exhortation to “increase agitation and demand.”

Those present at the talk then discussed what concerned them most and what roles they could take in the hard times all seemed to agree are on the horizon – or already here.

I stand by my comment that we need to use our best skills, following our innermost passionate voices for fundamental change – an elevation of consciousness – whether in educating young people, organizing protests or communicating through art and music. We agreed that it will take real hardship, maybe catastrophe, before most people are ready for fundamental change, but that now is the time to get connected and become prepared ourselves if we are to have any hope of influencing others.

–Steve Klinger

 

By David Evans

“What we witnessed in the 1960s and early 1970s was an explosion of desire. For a brief historical moment, buy information pills
try millions of people allowed themselves to imagine what the world could be if love prevailed and a more authentic existence could be forged. Though the institutions and requirements of daily life kept chugging along and making their demands, the joyous experience of allowing authenticity, a generosity of spirit, and a freeing of creativity spread hope in ways that seemed to open new pathways in the mind. Participants in the movements of the 1960s and early 1970s often speak in retrospect of being alive in a way unlike anything they had experienced previously or since- the kind of words used by those who have experienced being resurrected from the dead or ‘born again in Christ’ or those who talk of the joy of serving God experienced in Jewish Hasidic and mystical communities. Free to ‘Imagine,’ as John Lennon put it, they found that it ‘isn’t hard to do,’ because, as Lennon went on, ‘I’m not the only one — I hope someday you’ll join us and the world will live as one.’ This was a community that had tilted as far toward the Left Hand of God as any in living memory — a community that was strongly committed to affirming hope and living as though love and caring and mutual recognition were really possible.”

Rabbi Michael Lerner brings a keen sense of progressive history to The Left Hand of God (Harper Collins; NY: 2006). As a participant in the era that he beautifully details, his own conversations with political and community leaders of the ‘60s and ‘70s do much to clarify a cultural moment that deserves more than an anecdotal remembrance.

Lerner was a leader in the National Coalition for Peace and Justice in 1972, meeting with George McGovern campaign manager Gary Hart in September. Urging a return to the antiwar focus, Lerner found Hart “totally dispirited at having lost any influence on the shape of the campaign and despairing at the stupidity and crass opportunism that had led McGovern to listen to ‘the professionals’ who advised that the campaign totally avoid the issue of the war — which it mostly did throughout September and October!”

In describing candidates from Carter and Clinton to Dukakis, Gore, and Kerry, Michael Lerner observes, “If you are on the left — whether Democrat or Green, liberal or progressive — the strategy of realism is a huge mistake. When you stop asking ‘what do I really believe in?’ and substitute instead ‘what is realistic?’ you are on a slippery slope toward the values of materialism and selfishness that receives much clearer statement by the Republicans and the Right.”

So while it may be useful to examine candidates for their “visionary hopefulness,” Lerner is firm in asserting, “Those people will respond when there is a social movement that makes it safe for them to do what their best instincts tell them to do.” Building this alliance of secular, religious, and spiritual (but not religious) progressives is Michael Lerner’s life’s work. Overcoming the greed, selfishness, and materialism (that are all products of fear) is the goal of the Network of Spiritual Progressives.

“Arguing for the Left Hand of God, “ says Lerner, is “defending the spiritual vision that has been the common wisdom of the human race for most of our existence,” and it must be done in a network open to all progressives, “taking the spiritual needs of all classes seriously” while putting “the economic interests of middle income and poor people first.”

Public policy proposals include a single-payer healthcare system, a living wage, and a Social Responsibility Amendment to the Constitution, which would require a new corporate charter every 10 years for any corporation with annual income above $50 million. New charters would be granted only to those corporations that can demonstrate social responsibility to a jury of ordinary citizens.

Lerner addresses environmental and foreign policy options and is among those advocating a Global Marshall Plan. Debt relief, ecological repair, and a “strategy of generosity” are some suggestions to balance our over-reliance on a market-based economy.

“The first, absolutely essential step is the transition from violence to nonviolence as the only acceptable method of pursuing the world we want to achieve.” Lerner goes on to quote the 1983 pastoral letter on peace from America’s Catholic bishops, “Peacemaking is not an optional commitment. It is a requirement of our faith.”

Lerner is generous in referring his readers to the important writings and examples of other peacemakers, including the Rev. James Forbes of New York’s Riverside Church, King, Gandhi, the Dalai Lama, and John Dear. His deepest insights explore the prophet Isaiah and the tradition and teaching of Talmudic Rabbis.

Acknowledging its biblical roots, Lerner calls the Right Hand of God “a way of understanding the sacred that emphasizes the need to wipe out the evil forces in the world through war, domination and the control of evil impulses.” He continues, “The more we are in a state of fear, the more the Right Hand of God seems intuitively correct, whereas the more we feel hopeful and trusting, the more the Left Hand of God speaks to us,” emphasizing “the need to build a world based on love, kindness, compassion, generosity, mutual cooperation…”

UPDATES: Daniel Berrigan’s play, “The Trial of the Catonsville Nine.” is being performed for a new generation in Catonsville, Md. Written during his confinement, the play takes place entirely in a courtroom and portrays the burning of draft records 40 years ago this spring. Berrigan has frequently cited the example of Nazi resister Franz Jagerstatter, who was beatified (recognized as blessed and the first step to being declared a saint) in Linz, Austria on Oct. 26. Five new editions of Dan Berrrigan’s writings have just been published by Wipf and Stock (wipfandstock.com).

Jimmy Carter is portrayed in “Man From Plains,” a verite-style documentary now in theaters. The Carter Center is celebrating its 25th year of peacemaking, disease eradication, and election monitoring. Now 83, Carter’s new book is Beyond the White House, which begins in the dark days of 1981 and describes a quarter-century of public diplomacy.

Chalmers Johnson has recently reviewed David Halberstam’s posthumously published Korean War history, The Coldest Winter, at truthdig.com. Johnson’s masterful essay reviewing Stephen Holmes’ The Matador’s Cape: America’s Reckless Response to Terror is at Tomdispatch.com.

The reviewer will profile historical and contemporary peacemakers in future editions of Grassroots Press

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