Sunday, July 31, 2011

Coal, Politics, Dirty Air -- Fighting the Coal Industry, one coal-fired plant at a time!!

So, I've done work on coal trains coming through Spokane and onward to Bellingham, Longview:

....and, well, the US political class is letting corporations orchestrate our country's pollution spew-age. Read the Sierra Club's please below --

Dear Paul,

The EPA has announced they are extending the public comment period for critical Air Toxics and Mercury protections by another month. Sierra Club volunteers have already sent in almost 100,000 comments but I guess the EPA wants more.

Unfortunately, this gives corporate polluters more time to find crazy reasons why we shouldn't have a rule that prevents 100,000 asthma attacks and saves 17,000 lives a year. Major polluters, like American Electric Power, are ginning up to scare the public with wild mistruths.1

Well, we're not going to let them win this fight. We know that you're aware of the dangerous effects of coal pollution, but many of your friends and family might not be.

Fight lies with truth. Forward our powerful new online coal quiz to five of your friends and family. Working together, we can invite thousands of new people to our fight for clean air.

Within just a few weeks of Sierra Club's new online quiz, 'Coal In Your Life,' we have had tens of thousands of new visitors finding out how dangerous coal really is to their own health and their families' health and getting involved in the fight to stop pollution. We won't stand by while corporate polluters confuse the public!

Clean air to breathe and safe water to drink is in everyone's best interest, except maybe wealthy corporate polluters. But Big Coal puts up ads every day attacking the EPA and our protections from pollution -- please use our quiz to educate the public and cut through the smoke screen!

It is on all of us to build a bigger movement that can challenge Dirty Coal at every turn.

Join the efforts by clicking here to get easy forwarding tools sent to your inbox and invite five of your friends and family to take part.

Thanks for all you do for the environment.


Mary Anne Hitt
Beyond Coal Campaign Director
Sierra Club

P.S. After you take action, be sure to forward this alert to your friends then share it on Facebook and Twitter using our handy share buttons:

[1] "AEP says rates likely to rise from pollution rules," Chicago Tribune News: July 7, 2011.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Sustainability Is Coming More and More Through Our Stomachs -- Food for Thought

There will be more attention on this blog to techno-fixes, gizmo sustainability, and how sustainability is at a crossroads tied to greenwashing, this marketing concept of "green is the new black," and so on. Sustainable Development is a concept that came from a report, Our Common Future, compiled in 1987:

Here's the Norweigan prime minister's prefatory comments, and then a story on Kettle Falls, Washington, Quillisascut Farm, a tribute to sustainability on the ground:

Our Common Future, Chairman's Foreword From A/42/427. Our Common Future: Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development

"A global agenda for change" - this was what the World Commission on Environment and Development was asked to formulate. It was an urgent call by the General Assembly of the United Nations:
  • to propose long-term environmental strategies for achieving sustainable development by the year 2000 and beyond;
  • to recommend ways concern for the environment may be translated into greater co-operation among developing countries and between countries at different stages of economical and social development and lead to the achievement of common and mutually supportive objectives that take account of the interrelationships between people, resources, environment, and development;
  • to consider ways and means by which the international community can deal more effectively with environment concerns; and
  • to help define shared perceptions of long-term environmental issues and the appropriate efforts needed to deal successfully with the problems of protecting and enhancing the environment, a long term agenda for action during the coming decades, and aspirational goals for the world community.
When I was called upon by the Secretary-General of the United Nations in December 1983 to establish and chair a special, independent commission to address this major challenge to the world community, I was acutely aware that this was no small task and obligation, and that my day-to day responsibilities as Party leader made it seem plainly prohibitive. What the General Assembly asked for also seemed to be unrealistic and much too ambitious. At the same time, it was a clear demonstration of the widespread feeling of frustration and inadequacy in the international community about our own ability to address the vital global issues and deal effectively with them.

The fact is a compelling reality, and should not easily be dismissed. Since the answers to fundamental and serious concerns are not at hand, there is no alternative but to keep on trying to find them.

All this was on my mind when the Secretary-General presented me with an argument to which there was no convincing rebuttal: No other political leader had become Prime Minister with a background of several years of political struggle, nationally and internationally, as an environment minister. This gave some hope that the environment was not destined to remain a side issue in central, political decision making.

In the final analysis, I decided to accept the challenge. The challenge of facing the future, and of safeguarding the interests of coming generations. For it was abundantly clear: We needed a mandate for change.

We live in an era in the history of nations when there is greater need than ever for co-ordinated political action and responsibility. The United Nations and its Secretary-General are faced with an enormous task and burden. Responsibly meeting humanity's goals and aspirations will require the active support of us all.

My reflections and perspective were also based on other important parts of ray own political experience: the preceding work of the Brandt Commission on North South issues, and the Palme Commission on security and disarmament issues, on which I served.

I was being asked to help formulate a third and compelling call for political action: After Brandt's Programme for Survival and Common Crisis, and after Palme's Common Security, would come Common Future. This was my message when Vice Chairman Mansour Khalid and I started work on the ambitious task set up by the United Nations. This report, as presented to the UN General Assembly in 1987, is the result of that process.

Perhaps our most urgent task today is to persuade nations of the need to return to multilateralism. The challenge of reconstruction after the Second World War was the real motivating power behind the establishment of our post-war international economic system. The challenge of finding sustainable development paths ought to provide the impetus - indeed the imperative - for a renewed search for multilateral solutions and a restructured international economic system of co-operation. These challenges cut across the divides of national sovereignty, of limited strategies for economic gain, and of separated disciplines of science.

After a decade and a half of a standstill or even deterioration in global co-operation, I believe the time has come for higher expectations, for common goals pursued together, for an increased political will to address our common future.

There was a time of optimism and progress in the 1960s, when there was greater hope for a braver new world, and for progressive international ideas. Colonies blessed with natural resources were becoming nations. The locals of co-operation and sharing seemed to be seriously pursued. Paradoxically, the 1970s slid slowly into moods of reaction and isolation while at the same time a series of UN conferences offered hope for greater co-operation on major issues. The 1972 UN Conference on the Human Environment brought the industrialized and developing nations together to delineate the "rights" of the human family to a healthy and productive environment. A string of such meetings followed: on the rights of people to adequate food, to sound housing, to safe water, to access to means of choosing the size of their families.

The present decade has been marked by a retreat from social concerns. Scientists bring to our attention urgent but complex problems bearing on our very survival: a warming globe, threats to the Earth's ozone layer, deserts consuming agricultural land. We respond by demanding more details, and by assigning the problems to institutions ill-equipped to cope with them. Environmental degradation, first seen as mainly a problem of the rich nations and a side effect of industrial wealth, has become a survival issue for developing nations. It is part of the downward spiral of linked ecological and economic decline in which many of the poorest nations are trapped. Despite official hope expressed on all sides, no trends identifiable today, no programmes or policies, offer any real hope of narrowing the growing gap between rich and poor nations. And as part of our "development", we have amassed weapons arsenals capable of diverting the paths that evolution has followed for millions of years and of creating a planet our ancestors would not recognize.

When the terms of reference of our Commission were originally being discussed in 1982, there were those who wanted its considerations to be limited to "environmental issues" only. This would have been a grave mistake. The environment does not exist as a sphere separate from human actions, ambitions, and needs, and attempts to defend it in isolation from human concerns have given the very word "environment" a connotation of naivety in some political circles. The word "development" has also been narrowed by some into a very limited focus, along the lines of "what poor nations should do to become richer", and thus again is automatically dismissed by many in the international arena as being a concern of specialists, of those involved in questions of "development assistance".

But the "environment" is where we all live; and "development" is what we all do in attempting to improve our lot within that abode. The two are inseparable. Further, development issues must be seen as crucial by the political leaders who feel that their countries have reached a plateau towards which other nations must strive. Many of the development paths of the industrialized nations are clearly unsustainable. And the development decisions of these countries, because of their great economic and political power, will have a profound effect upon the ability of all peoples to sustain human progress for generations to come.

Many critical survival issues are related to uneven development, poverty, and population growth. They all place unprecedented pressures on the planet's lands, waters, forests, and other natural resources, not least in the developing countries. The downward spiral of poverty and environmental degradation is a waste of opportunities and of resources. In particular, it is a waste of human resources. These links between poverty, inequality, and environmental degradation formed a major theme in our analysis and recommendations. What is needed now is a new era of economic growth - growth that is forceful and at the same time socially and environmentally sustainable.

Due to the scope of our work, and to the need to have a wide perspective. I was very much aware of the need to put together a highly qualified and influential political and scientific team, to constitute a truly independent Commission. This was an essential part of a successful process. Together, we should span the globe, and pull together to formulate an interdisciplinary, integrated approach to global concerns and our common future. We needed broad participation and a clear majority of members from developing countries, to reflect world realities. We needed people with wide experience, and from all political fields, not only from environment or development and political disciplines, but from all areas of vital decision making that influence economic and social progress, nationally and internationally.

We therefore come from widely differing backgrounds: foreign ministers, finance and planning officials, policymakers in agriculture, science, and technology. Many of the Commissioners are cabinet ministers and senior economists in their own nations, concerned largely with the affairs of those countries. As Commissioners, however, we were acting not in our national roles but as individuals; and as we worked, nationalism and the artificial divides between "industrialized" and "developing", between East and West, receded. In their place emerged a common concern for the planet and the interlocked ecological and economic threats with which its people, institutions, and governments now grapple.

During the time we met as a Commission, tragedies such as the African famines, the leak at the pesticides factory at Bhopal, India, and the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl, USSR appeared to justify the grave predictions about the human future that were becoming commonplace during the mid-1980s. But at public hearings we held on five continents, we also heard from the individual victims of more chronic, widespread disasters: the debt crisis, stagnating aid to and investment in developing countries, falling commodity prices and falling personal incomes. We became convinced that major changes were needed, both in attitudes and in the way our societies are organized.

The question of population - of population pressure, of population and human rights - and the links between these related issues and poverty, environment, and development proved to be one of the more difficult concerns with which we had to struggle. The differences of perspective seemed at the outset to be unbridgeable, and they required a lot of thought and willingness to communicate across the divides of cultures, religions, and regions.

Another such concern was the whole area of international economic relations. In these and in a number of other important aspects of our analysis and recommendations, we were able to develop broad agreement.

The fact that we all became wiser, learnt to look across cultural and historical barriers, was essential. There were moments of deep concern and potential crisis, moments of gratitude and achievement, moments of success in building a common analysis and perspective. The result is clearly more global, more realistic, more forward looking than any one of us alone could have created. We joined the Commission with different views and perspectives, different values and beliefs, and very different experiences and insights.

After these three years of working together, travelling, listening, and discussing, we present a unanimous report.

I am deeply grateful to all the Commissioners for their dedication, their foresight and personal commitment to our common endeavour. It has been a truly wonderful team. The spirit of friendship and open communication, the meeting of minds and the process of learning and sharing, have provided an experience of optimism, something of great value to all of us, and, I believe, to the report and its message. We hope to share with others our learning process, and all that we have experienced together. It is something that many others will have to experience if global sustainable development is to be achieved.

The Commission has taken guidance from people in all walks of life. It is to these people - to all the peoples of the world - that the Commission now addresses itself. In so doing we speak to people directly as well as to the institutions that they have established.

The Commission is addressing governments, directly and through their various agencies and ministries. The congregation of governments, gathered in the General Assembly of the United Nations, will be the main recipients of this report.

The Commission is also addressing private enterprise, from the one-person business to the great multinational company with a total economic turnover greater than that of many nations, and with possibilities for bringing about far-reaching changes and improvements.

But first and foremost our message is directed towards people, whose well being is the ultimate goal of all environment and development policies. In particular, the Commission is addressing the young. The world's teachers will have a crucial role to play in bringing this report to them.

If we do not succeed in putting our message of urgency through to today's parents and decision makers, we risk undermining our children's fundamental right to a healthy, life-enhancing environment. Unless we are able to translate our words into a language that can reach the minds and hearts of people young and old, we shall not be able to undertake the extensive social changes needed to correct the course of development.

The Commission has completed its work. We call for a common endeavour and for new norms of behaviour at all levels and in the interests of all. The changes in attitudes, in social values, and in aspirations that the report urges will depend on vast campaigns of education, debate and public participation.

To this end, we appeal to "citizens" groups, to non governmental organizations, to educational institutions, and to the scientific community. They have all played indispensable roles in the creation of public awareness and political change in the past. They will play a crucial part in putting the world onto sustainable development paths, in laying the groundwork for Our Common Future.

The process that produced this unanimous report proven that it is possible to join forces, to identify common goals, and to agree on common action. Each one of the Commissioners would have chosen different words if writing the report alone. Still, we managed to agree on the analysis, the broad remedies, and the recommendations for a sustainable course of development.

In the final analysis, this is what it amounts to: furthering the common understanding and common spirit of responsibility so clearly needed in a divided world.

Thousands of people all over the world have contributed to the work of the Commission, by intellectual means, by financial means, and by sharing their experiences with us through articulating their needs and demands. I am sincerely grateful to everyone who has made such contributions. Many of their names are found in Annexe 2 of the report. My particular gratitude goes to Vice Chairman Mansour Khalid, to all the other members of the Commission, and to Secretary-General Jim MacNeill and his staff at our secretariat, who went above and beyond the call of duty to assist us. Their enthusiasm and dedication knew no limits. I want to thank the chairmen and members of the Intergovernmental Inter-sessional Preparatory Committee, who co-operated closely with the Commission and provided inspiration and support. I thank also the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, Dr. Mostafa Tolba, for his valuable, continuous support and interest.
Gro Harlem Brundtland
Oslo, 20 March 1987


Here's the story on real sustainability, on the ground, on the farm, seeds and intellect, planted:

Planting Seeds

Conference on globalization recognizes new educational connections to gardens
Paul K. Haeder     

The workshops at Quillisascut let students take part in the farm experience, which includes taking care of crops.

For more information visit

This is the second part of a series examining Quillisascut, a farm near Kettle Falls,Wash., which offers workshops in sustainable living. For Part 1 visit here

While food is at the top of the list of globalization experts’, climate change wonks’ and diversity proponents’ strategic plans, one might not see the seeds of community in a conference designed largely for educators and students presenting studies on what it means to be global in an educational framework.

The 7th annual Globalization, Diversity and Education conference was held in Spokane earlier this year. Mike Meyers, conference coordinator, invited me as a member of the press and a peer discussing my outlook and experience with globalization.

Meyers remains pumped about how well the presenters engaged the audience.

“Filmmaker and activist Jen Marlowe tapped into the emotion of Palestinian struggles in ‘One Family in Gaza’ and ‘Peaceful Thoughts.’ Denise Taliafero Baszile had the audience dancing to Bob Marley’s ‘Get Up Stand Up’ as a reminder of our commitment to social justice. Not your usual academic conference fare, but what we have come to expect at this conference,” he said.

Prior to the workshop, I talked with Meyers on my radio show, “Tipping Points: Voices from the Edge. I insisted that we in education are jaded, how silo-ed academia has become, and how a conference like this should be publicly engaged, with more from the community taking part, including high school students.

He agreed that not enough money and backing from colleges help create this lack of marketing, and reaching out to a broader, more engaging community. Globalization is the linchpin to many of our regional, national and local problems, like jobs, food, energy, and the faltering economy. The solutions to problems we face in the sustainability community come from peasant farmers, civil society, people on the ground.

While the conference hopefully encouraged a broader educational experience at the college level for understanding the international experience, and to encourage international students and those in their midst from the U.S., there were certainly furrows cut into earth where seeds were planted.

The theme was “From here to everywhere: Placing local and global practices in dialogue.” I enjoyed listening to EWU students talk about medicine women, or curanderas, in Mexico, where they went to conduct ethnographic interviews in many of my old stomping grounds. I enjoyed the University of British Columbia –Vancouver folk trying to tie international students and their education to a sustainability model.

But the especially fertile seeds came from land-based thinking, creativity, poetry and a trust in the gift of sunlight, water, soil and seed. The Land-Learner Connection was a presentation given by participants who in the summer of 2010 participated in workshop “on the farm,” also known as the place of goats, or Quillisascut (see story here).

The Land-Learner Connection was a five-day workshop for teachers and administrators who are training primary and secondary school teachers. According to Quillisascut, gardens are a perfect way to connect teachers and students, and offer “limitless opportunities for environmental learning.”

The presentation at the globalization workshop was a wrap-up and analysis of the earlier Quillisascut visit, where participants, funded in part by the DeVlieg Family Foundation, hit these main educational and learning goals:

• Research and practice in learning gardens with Dr. Veronica Gaylie
• Curriculum development to intertwine current instruction with garden experiences
• Basic information on organic farm production.
• Simple ways to tap into and learn from your local food system
• Essential Learning Requirements and hands-on environmental learning
• Biodiversity and our food environment

Participants learned a new respect for community, for land, and for those who not only shepherd the concept of sustainability to outsiders, which have included cooks, writers, teachers, students, and others, but they also live the life of goat tending, cheese making and holistic farming.

Rick and Lora Lea Misterly have been at Quilisascut for 30-plus years, and have turned what might have been a ideal rural home into a learning experience for themselves, those in the Rice-Kettle Falls, Wash., community, and those coming to the farm to learn what high-level sustainability thinking looks like on 35 acres of farmland near Lake Roosevelt. The 2010 ‘farmers in training’ came from colleges and school districts throughout the Northwest.

They all have learned from the Misterlys and Karen Jurgenson, Quillisascut Farm School/Seattle Culinary Academy chef, that they themselves hold the seeds of change firmly in their hands and their students’ hearts.

Laurie Morley from Eastern said the workshop brought her to a new place after 24 years as an educator in nutrition and health, and she has been been spurred to help shepherd the EWU sustainable food project –

A former Spokane Falls Community College English student, Nathan Calene, is now working with other students on EWU’s food and dining elements, including, as an undergraduate planning student, planning the university’s organic garden.

Justin Hougham helped start the Palouse Pollinators in Pullman, and sees firsthand how youth have been almost bred to be afraid of nature, something called “ecophobia.” Planting seeds is just one step to a garden, Francene Watson said. It’s about place-based education, getting youth to see how the world works one stomach and one garden at a time.

For Veronica Gaylie, UBC - Okanagan poet and sustainability proponent, gardens and sustainability allow for a better conversation in colleges, because she sees unnecessary and unsustainable compartmentalization and battle lines over deep ecology and how community has to be defined as the people, the garden and the food.

She is also pushing an anti-prestige movement to make gardens and sustainability simple, not huge multi-layered, administration-driven projects.

As part of a later presentation, Gaylie and Michael Marchand, of UBC- Okanagan, showed native wisdom and sustainability through a cool process titled: “The Learning Garden and the Firepit: An Exploration of Land as the Basis for an Interdisciplinary Pedagogy.”

They built an Okanagan First Nation fire-pit to get students and others to think of “alternative ways of knowing.”

“The development of local and global knowledge around environment has evolved in a way that is inclusive of both academic and community involvement. Any meaningful knowledge around environment now requires a re-visioning of research, and the place of the university, as an equal partner with community,” they both wrote for their presentation preface.

Seeds carry collective DNA from tens of thousands of years of nature’s trial and error. The seeds of education change the course of individuals’ intellectual growth. They can pass on the learning, and thereby change each generation.

The key to this germination, this growth, is knowledge and practice. Gardens are the microcosm of life, and the roots in each variety hold the potential for resiliency and sustainability.

One farm can change much, and Quillisascut is humble in its origins and humble in its design, but the practice of a community-based farm ethos and deep knowledge of how to know oneself in the field are what blossom on that farm.

Quillisascut is like an endless garden of ideas, a global classroom, where the art of growing and the tools of planting fertilize the mind for a time of endless possibilities.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Humanity's Forward (or backward) Movement Ties to Whales, Whaling, Slaughter

 For the Love of Whales

Ahh, oceans, environmentalism, conservation, sanity! On a sustainability site no less. So, we dejja vu back to 2007,2008, and 2009; one cool environmental writer -- Kelpie Wilson, covers the environment.

Recall, the first Earth Day, with Roger Payne discussing the power of people to come together and fight international illegalities, to fight cultural xenophobia, brought us the environmental movement on the backs of dying whales --

"A growing number of Gray Whales in the sub Arctic waters are contaminated. As bottom feeders, these whales are vulnerable to toxic pollution. Recent data from our worldwide sampling of sperm whale blubber - The Voyage of the Odyssey - show that many whales are polluted to levels that make their meat unsafe for human consumption-a sufficient cause to discontinue whaling."

Dr Roger Payne founded the Ocean Alliance is a 501(c)3 organization in 1971. He has conducted research on whales in all the oceans of the world, and has been an eloquent spokesman for their welfare for over three decades. In the early 1970s, he was among the first to sound the alarm about the threat of worldwide pollution of the oceans that most people are only now learning about.

 In the January 1979 issue of National Geographic, Dr. Payne said, "Pollution has replaced the harpoon as a mortal threat to whales, and in its way can be far more deadly."

Dr. Payne along with colleague Scott McVay, discovered that the eerie sounds made by humpback whales were actually complex, repeated patterns of sounds and thus songs. He and the members of his laboratory determined that these songs change constantly and when complex, often include rhyme.

For his work, Dr. Payne has been awarded a MacArthur Fellowship, the 1994 Lyndhurst Prize, a knighthood from the Netherlands, and has been named to the United Nations Environmental Program's Global 500 Roll of Honor. The
National Geographic Society has referred to him as "the Dean of modern whale research," and his work has appeared four times on the pages of the National Geographic as well as in many technical publications.

He is a well-known and respected figure at international meetings, conferences, and symposiums, including the annual meetings of the International Whaling Commission.

His work has been the subject of more than thirty television documentaries, including 1991's popular, Emmy-nominated "In the Company of Whales."

By Kelpie Wilson
t r u t h o u t | Environmental Editor

Wednesday 30 May 2007

Once again, in what has become an annual rite, Japan, Iceland and Norway will try, at the meeting of the International Whaling Commission this week, to overturn the international ban on hunting whales, while a global coalition of whale lovers urges governments to stand firm against the move.

This year the meeting takes place in Anchorage, Alaska, where Japan has introduced a new twist to the debate. Japan is asking the IWC to approve a quota for traditional cultural whaling along its coasts, similar to the quotas in place for traditional subsistence whale hunts in Alaska.

Japan has also announced that it will be going after a self-administered quota of 50 humpback whales in the Southern Ocean next year. Japan began a program of so-called "scientific" whaling in 1987 after the IWC imposed the ban on commercial whaling. Japan kills around a thousand whales every year under this program, mostly the smaller minke whales.

Targeting humpback whales is winning Japan no friends. Humpbacks are one of the most charismatic whale species. Known for their enchanting songs and acrobatic displays, they are a whale watcher's delight.

Australian Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull called Japan's plan to kill humpbacks "needlessly provocative," and warned Japan that its whaling practices have a negative impact on public opinion in Australia.

New Zealand Conservation Minister Chris Carter said, "World opinion is on the side of conservation, and the vast majority of people on Earth don't want to eat whales; they want to protect them at a time of global climate change. You know, killing whales shouldn't be happening."


And from Ecolocalizer, from 2008 --

Prior to the advent of modern whaling techniques in the 19th century, Fin whales were largely immune to predation by humans. However, modern methods have allowed an estimated 90,000 Fin whales to be caught in the North Atlantic up until around the late 1980′s, with some subsistence catches in Greenland continuing. Populations in the Pacific and Antarctic regions are less well known.

The Fin Whale is currently listed in appendix 1 of the CITES list of endangered species. This list aims to protect endangered species by preventing international trade except when import is for non commercial reasons. However, Iceland along with Norway and Japan hold reservations to this listing.

This effectively means that these countries have opted out of this area of the CITES convention, allowing them to trade this species. The catch rates set by the International Whaling Commission have been set at zero since 1976, however this does not apply to Iceland, Norway or the Russian Federation which have all objected to this provision.

This export from Iceland is the first shipment to Japan for 20 years. The consignment consists of about 70 tonnes of meat from both Fin and Minke whales. Conservation groups see this as an effort to establish a market in Japan for whale meat caught by the Icelandic fleet. It is also seen as a political move designed to show Iceland’s coalition government that whaling can be a profitable venture at a time when Iceland’s economy, like many others, is under severe pressure.

So what is the good of having international treaties such as the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species and the International Whaling Commission if governments are able to opt out if it is inconvenient for them? How are they supposed to protect if they have no teeth? It can be said that they do help to raise awareness, which in turn may bring about pressure for change. But then organizations such as Sea Shepherd do a pretty good job of that, and probably for a lot less money.

Image credit: Ansgar Walk via Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons license


And, then, Today, July 28, 2011 ---------------------------

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Our campaign to save the whales is working. Help us keep the pressure up by making a donation today!

Dear Paul,
We are two steps closer to ending the slaughter of whales. Help us take two more. Please rush your donation now to help us continue this fight and our other environmental battles.
Imagine a world where whales no longer need to worry about being chased down by a massive whaling boat, shot with a harpoon and dragged around until they are so exhausted they drown. This brutality is inflicted on hundreds of whales for nothing. In many cases their meat is piling up in freezers going unsold.

That world is possible, if we have anything to say about it. After continued pressure from thousands of people just like you, the US government is finally playing hardball with Iceland over the country’s insistence on continuing their senseless slaughter of endangered Fin whales.

Last month, over 30,000 of you sent letters to the Department of Commerce urging the government to impose trade penalties on Iceland if they continue to ignore the International Whaling Commission’s (IWC) moratorium on commercial whaling.

And I’m excited to say the Obama Administration heard your message loud and clear.

In a statement released late last week, US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said, “Iceland’s disregard for the International Whaling Commission’s global moratorium on commercial whaling is unacceptable. Iceland’s harvest of whales and export of fin whale meat threaten an endangered species and undermine worldwide efforts to protect whales. It’s critical that the Government of Iceland take immediate action to comply with the moratorium.”

But the war is not over yet. We’re close, but everyday is one day closer to the Japanese whalers leaving for their annual whale slaughter in the Southern Ocean.

Please rush your donation to Greenpeace right away so we can continue to pressure governments and the IWC to stop the annual killing of these majestic and gentle giants.

This huge victory follows on the heels of another great piece of news I shared with all of you last week from the IWC meeting - the Commission passed new rules to address the rampant corruption of their process caused by Japan’s vote buying by no longer allowing a country to pay their dues using cash, credit cards or other non transparent means.

These are two huge battles for which Greenpeace and its members can claim victory, and we can’t thank you enough. Greenpeace is people-powered; we do not take any money from corporations or government. With your support, we are getting so close on ending the slaughter of whales.

Please help us in our efforts to stop environmental wrongs like the annual whale slaughter by Iceland and Japan. We have seen two huge victories this summer and we need to keep up the momentum.

Help us end this


So, the fight is not over. These countries, Finland, Norway, Japan, and our own western pollution culture, are out of the loop. There is absolutely zero need for whaling in the 21st Century.

Here are some paragraphs from one writer, running The Diplomat:


Japan has taken more than 12,000 whales under its research whaling programme since 1986, when a moratorium on commercial whaling was enacted by the IWC. While the commercial industry was estimated at $100 million a year in 1986, in recent years sales have dropped below $50 million and the Japanese industry, which generates around 2000 jobs, was estimated at needing an annual subsidy of $12 million in 2008/09 just to break even.

However, Japan’s whaling outside its waters has incurred the wrath of environmental groups along with Western allies.

Australia has long threatened legal action against Japan, having dispatched Australian Customs ship Oceanic Viking to Antarctic waters in 2007/08 to collect evidence as part of its proposed case. The frustration of the government of former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd with the failure of diplomacy was underscored in May 2010, when it finally followed through on its pledge by initiating legal action at the ICJ against Japan’s research whaling.

‘We want to see an end to whales being killed in the name of science in the Southern Ocean, ’then Australian environment minister Peter Garrett said in announcing the action, a move described by a Japanese foreign ministry spokesman as ‘regrettable.’

While doubting the effectiveness of the legal move, the University of Adelaide’s Joel Rathus says the reasons for Australia’s opposition to whaling in what it considered to be ‘our waters’ were obvious.
‘It can hardly be described as traditional fishing or research whaling if you’re willing to get a fleet of commercial boats and travel halfway around the planet to take these things—it’s a very deliberate act of coming here and taking whales from a sanctuary,’ he says.

Temple University Japan professor Jeff Kingston describes the practice as a diplomatic ‘own goal’ by Japan and a black mark on its green credentials internationally.

‘There really is no other policy that draws such universal condemnation as Japan’s whaling policy,’ he says. ‘The number of people in Japan that benefit from whaling is minimal, the economic importance of whaling is minimal and whale meat constitutes less than one percent of the Japanese protein intake.


Yet according to Malcolm Cook of Australian think tank the Lowy Institute for International Policy, Japan’s whaling policy is a classic example of ‘regulatory capture’in a nation where bureaucrats have long held the upper hand over elected lawmakers.

‘Regulatory capture is the reason Japan’s whaling industry continues, and it’s hard to see it escaping this,’ he says.‘As a share of government spending, the whaling subsidies are very, very insignificant, and clearly certain districts in the whaling areas near the coast which are held by the ruling party have a strong domestic political interest in keeping it going.

‘I’m sure many within the Japanese government know that whaling gives them a bad name for very little economic return, but in the end, the iron triangle of industry, local politics and the bureaucracy work to maintain the industry.’


Former Sea Shepherd activist Peter Bethune says Japan was ‘looking for a face-saving out’from its Southern Ocean whaling, and changes in shipping regulations could provide the opportunity.

‘New rules governing vessels in Antarctica come into force soon, and one of these prohibits the use of heavy oils. They would have to use diesel-powered vessels and (Japan’s main whaling ship) the Nisshin Maru cannot take diesel fuel, so they would have to completely rekit the vessel,’ he says.

‘The second one is that vessels have to be double-skinned—effectively using two hulls instead of one. To do this to their entire fleet would be a massive undertaking—it might cost them $300 million, and this is only a $50 million a year operation.’

He adds: ‘Japan may choose to ignore the new regulations as it’s done in the past, but it’s harder this time round with so much public scrutiny. If I was to take a punt, I’d reckon in five years they’ll have stopped whaling in Antarctica.

‘Withdrawing from there would take a lot of heat out of the issue from New Zealand and Australia, which regard the area as their backyard.’

Bethune also points to Japan’s willingness to compromise at the latest IWC negotiations as a positive sign.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Environment, Ecology, Livable Futures -- The Cacophony of Schizophrenia

This blog started with listening to NPR this morning grappling with the salmon vs sea lion story centered here in the Pacific Northwest. Of course, commercial fishermen and fisherwomen, both native and non-native, and the dams on the Columbia drainage, and the urban and rural pollution and degradation of river systems, none of that is on the table for discussion. It's about allowing the culling of sea lions waiting to eat incoming salmon. What a terribly unnatural act, sea lions eating marine protein.

But it's not just a fish story anymore, no matter how much I'd like to center it there -- it being the critical thinking and observation. Heck, I have background in marine biology and diving many parts of the world.  It's about thinking, about protesting, about really speaking against ignorance, speaking against this tool the corporations have used to prop up their profit kingdoms -- unending consumerism and opportunistic greed while a concerted effort to cull intelligent retorts to power are being strangled by a consumer and corporate society that has seen the middle class culled like those sea lions waiting for the food they have depended on for several million years.

While I listen to the fish piece on local Seattle radio, there are larger stories tied to the environment. Tim DeChristopher has been mentioned in this blog before. He was sentenced today. So, what do we do when an educated, peaceful American, using the best tools of democracy, that is, civil disobedience, is sentenced  to prison for two years for highlighting the imbalance of the oil-gas-energy industry going after some of this country's commons, land we hold as a collective society? Here's from Democracy Now --

Environmentalist Tim DeChristopher Sentenced to 2 Years For Disrupting Federal Oil and Gas Auction The environmental activist Tim DeChristopher has been sentenced to two years in prison for a bold action that prevented a mass sell-off of public wilderness in 2008. DeChristopher was convicted of interfering with a public auction when he disrupted the Bush administration’s last-minute move to auction off oil and gas exploitation rights in Utah. DeChristopher posed as a bidder and won drilling lease rights to 22,000 acres of land in an attempt to save the property from oil and gas extraction. On Tuesday, DeChristopher was fined $10,000 and immediately taken into custody to begin serving his 24-month sentence. Twenty-six people were arrested protesting the sentencing outside the courthouse. Speaking in court, DeChristopher reportedly said: "You can put me in prison, but it will not deter my future of civil disobedience and it won’t deter others who are willing to fight to defend a livable future."

We have a bumpy crossroads to negotiate today, in a beat up Chevy running on ethanol with corporations gaining more and more power in our democracy, turning it into a corporatocracy. Here's the gist from Bruce Levine on how to defeat it:

Many Americans know that the United States is not a democracy but a "corporatocracy," in which we are ruled by a partnership of giant corporations, the extremely wealthy elite and corporate-collaborator government officials. However, the truth of such tyranny is not enough to set most of us free to take action. Too many of us have become pacified by corporatocracy-created institutions and culture.

Some activists insist that this political passivity problem is caused by Americans' ignorance due to corporate media propaganda, and others claim that political passivity is caused by the inability to organize due to a lack of money. However, polls show that on the important issues of our day - from senseless wars, to Wall Street bailouts, to corporate tax-dodging, to health insurance rip-offs - the majority of Americans are not ignorant to the reality that they are being screwed. And American history is replete with organizational examples - from the Underground Railroad, to the Great Populist Revolt, to the Flint sit-down strike, to large wildcat strikes a generation ago - of successful rebels who had little money but lots of guts and solidarity.

The elite spend their lives stockpiling money and have the financial clout to bribe, divide and conquer the rest of us. The only way to overcome the power of money is with the power of courage and solidarity. When we regain our guts and solidarity, we can then more wisely select from - and implement - time-honored strategies and tactics that oppressed peoples have long used to defeat the elite. So, how do we regain our guts and solidarity?

1. Create the Cultural and Psychological "Building Blocks" for Democratic Movements

2. Confront and Transform ALL Institutions that Have Destroyed Individual Self-Respect and Collective Self-Confidence

Ralph Waldo Emerson observed, "All our things are right and wrong together. The wave of evil washes all our institutions alike."

3. Side Each Day in Every Way With Anti-Authoritarians

4. Regain Morale by Thinking More Critically About Our Critical Thinking

5. Restore Courage in Young People

6. Focus on Democracy Battlefields Where the Corporate Elite Don't Have Such a Large Financial Advantage

7. Heal from "Corporatocracy Abuse" and "Battered People's Syndrome" to Gain Strength

8. Unite Populists by Rejecting Corporate Media's Political Divisions

9. Unite "Comfortable Anti-Authoritarians" and "Afflicted Anti-Authoritarians

10. Do Not Let Debate Divide Anti-Authoritarians

Spirited debate is what democracy is all about, but when debate turns to mutual antipathy and divides anti-authoritarians, it plays into the hands of the elite. One such divide among anti-elitists is over the magnitude of change that should be worked for and celebrated. On one extreme are people who think that anything is better than nothing at all. At the other extreme are people who reject any incremental change and hold out for total transformation. We can better unite by asking these questions: Does the change increase individual self-respect and collective self-confidence, and increase one's energy level to pursue even greater democracy? Or does it feel like a sellout that decreases individual self-respect and collective self-confidence, and de-energizes us? Utilizing the criteria of increased self-respect and collective self-confidence, those of us who believe in genuine democracy can more constructively debate whether the change is going to increase strength to gain democracy or is going to take the steam out of a democratic movement. Respecting both sides of this debate makes for greater solidarity and better decisions.

To summarize, democracy will not be won without guts and solidarity. Risk-free green actions - such as shopping from independents, buying local, recycling, composting, consuming less, not watching television and so on - can certainly help counter a dehumanizing world. However, revolutions that truly transform fundamental power inequities and enable us to feel like men and women rather than children and slaves require risk, guts and solidarity.

Bruce E. Levine is a clinical psychologist. His Web site is
So, how looney are we now in this world where salmon in the Pacific Northwest are on the brink of going extinct -- wild stocks, that is -- and now we see an attack on sea lions as part of the reason for the salmon species demise:

Washington, Oregon and Idaho officials should kill up to 30 sea lions a year to protect salmon trying to migrate up the Columbia River.

That's the recommendation of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration's Fisheries Service, which drafted it as one of four options for aiding salmon and steelhead that are scooped out of the water and eaten by sea lions below the Bonneville Dam. About one in four fish eaten there is from an endangered stock.

Like a dam on any river, migratory fish congregate at its base, making them easy targets for fishermen of any species. Sea lions, which are an endangered species themselves, have learned to take advantage of this, and no amount of harassment has deterred a few dozen persistent scavengers.

Dams are one of the major reasons that salmon are in such trouble. Besides impeding fish, dams also interrupt the normal flow of nutrients in river ecosystems, which upsets the productivity of the wildlife at the base of the food web.

Removing the dam was not among the options NOAA is considering. The options include:

1. doing nothing

2. maintaining the status quo (ineffective harassment)

3. killing those sea lions that ignore nonlethal harassment (about 30 animals)

4. killing any sea lion within five miles of the dam (about 150 animals)

NOAA recommends option 3. If the public supports NOAA's recommendation, the states would be allowed to kill only those sea lions that return repeatedly to feast on the salmon below the dam, despite being shot at with rubber bullets, firecrackers, noisemakers and other deterrents.

The episode highlights how difficult it can be to restore endangered species in the wild – or in this case, a natural system that has been highly altered by human activity. Ecosystems are complex, and wildlife is adaptable. There's no win-win when it comes to sea lions and salmon, short of reversing decades of human development – but we, too, are part of the ecosystem for these creatures

Read more:


The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the federal government failed to explain why it lets state officials kill sea lions, while humans are allowed to take comparable or larger catches of the endangered salmon and steelhead.

Angry fishermen along the river have protested over the last decade as growing numbers of the sea lions clustered at the base of Bonneville Dam, where fish waiting to head upriver to spawn are easy pickings.

In 2008, the federal government gave Oregon and Washington state agencies the go-ahead to kill the hungriest of the sea lions, a decision challenged by the Humane Society of the United States.

In the last two years, 24 of the California sea lions have been killed. They are captured at the dam and taken to a facility where they are given a lethal injection by a veterinarian.

"The government's plan to kill sea lions for eating fish, while at the same time authorizing fishermen to take four times as many fish as sea lions, is irrational," Humane Society Vice President Jonathan Lovvorn said Tuesday in a statement.

The appeals court noted that -- depending on how large the yearly runs prove to be -- commercial, recreational and tribal fisheries are allowed under a separate federal assessment to catch 5.5% to 17% of the salmon and steelhead listed under the Endangered Species Act.
All of these sustainability issues tie into two large areas of this country's struggle -- as well as other countries' struggles: how real journalism is being gutted, and how education for youth -- K-12 and college -- is being co-opted by the corporate bottom line. Like Amtrak, education in this country SHOULD not have to MAKE a profit. Where did this concept come from? Now, we see rural and small USPS stations being staged to be axed because our society doesn't value public services like the US Postal system? Where do these ideas and collective amnesia moments come from?

Lack of critical thinking CAUSED by lack of journalism, lack of real education, the corporate bottom line.
"They tried hazing, often using loud noises, sometimes things like fireworks, to scare them away from where the salmon are," he says. "But particularly with the hazing, there are sea lions who have come every year who know what the hazing is about, and they aren't scared by it anymore. So ... that isn't entirely successful either."

Commercial fisherman and others involved in the industry have also taken interest in the situation. Manning says fishing practices have been central to court arguments.

"The argument being, 'Well, there are fishermen out there catching a lot of salmon. Why should we let them do it and turn around and kill sea lions for consuming salmon?' " Manning says.

Considering the commercial or sport fishing industry and money from the federal and state governments used to protect salmon, he says, "there are millions, even billions, of dollars at stake."

"In the middle of all this are sea lions," Manning says," who are very publicly and obviously eating salmon, so it makes it a situation where certainly politicians want to take some action."

Crazy news, crazy thinking.

More on Tim here --
Prison Sentence Handed Out for Environmental Activist Tim DeChristopher

On March 3, 29 year-old Tim DeChristopher was found guilty of 2 felonies for bidding on oil and gas leases (that he didn't have the money to pay for) in an attempt to save public land from oil and gas drilling. Today, a judge in Salt Lake City handed down a sentence of 2 years in prison and $10,000.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports:

Defense attorney Ron Yengich said at trial that DeChristopher sought to give people hope in the face of environmental degradation, though the judge did not allow him to argue that his actions were necessary to save the planet. Before jury deliberations that some described as emotional, Yengich told jurors they would have to decide "whether a spur-of-the-moment desire for hope is a federal crime."

Prosecutors said after trial that they wouldn't seek the maximum -- 10 years for violations of federal onshore leasing law. However, they filed a sentencing motion last week rejecting leniency. A probation officer's presentence report had suggested a lighter sentence because DeChristopher had taken responsibility for his actions.

But prosecutors noted DeChristopher's post-trial defiance, including an impassioned speech on the courthouse steps saying others would have to follow him to prison "if we are to achieve our vision."

Since his trial, DeChristopher has been influential in helping to inspire other activists to stand up for climate justice. As government leaders fail to make any progress on working toward real solutions to the climate crisis, I wonder if we will increasingly see more folks stepping up en masse to engage in civil disobedience and perhaps some monkey-wrenching.

You can read a pre-trial interview that DeChristopher did with AlterNet's Tina Gerhardt --

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The News is Fishy, but not Fishy Enough -- The Real Stories

The news about debt ceilings? Or how the NYT and mainstream press called the shootings in Norway a Muslim jihad when indeed it was a right wing Christian psycho who met with one of the USA's brightest tea baggers? Housing market down? New Pew study on how blacks are 20 times behind whites in household "wealth," and Hispanics 18 times behind? The alleged rapist who once thought he'd run against the standing French president now breathing a sigh of relief because prosecutors just can't go after a millionaire who is accused by an immigrant?

news . . . news . . .news . . . . But, there are important stories on the state of the globe, in this case, oceans.

So, new books, new movies, Ted Danson, TV-comic-turned-ocean activist, and the same story repeated over and over -- if the world's fisheries collapse, then we collapse:

Sylvia Earle is ‘National Geographic’ explorer in residence, the author of
The World is Blue: How Our Fate and the Oceans Are One’, and the former chief scientist for the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Here's a recent take on oceans from her.

Since the middle of the 20th century, more has been learned about the ocean than during all preceding human history; at the same time, more has been lost. Some 90 per cent of many fish, large and small, have been extracted. Some face extinction owing to the ocean’s most voracious predator – us.

We are now appearing to wage war on life in the sea with sonars, spotter aircraft, advanced communications, factory trawlers, thousands of miles of long lines, and global marketing of creatures no one had heard of until recent years. Nothing has prepared sharks, squid, krill and other sea creatures for industrial-scale extraction that destroys entire ecosystems while targeting a few species.

The concept of “peak oil” has penetrated the hearts and minds of people concerned about energy for the future. “Peak fish” occurred around the end of the 1980s. As near-shore areas have been depleted of easy catches, fishing operations have gone deeper, further offshore, using increasingly sophisticated – and environmentally costly – methods of capture.

The concern is not loss of fish for people to eat. Rather, the greatest concern about destructive fishing activities of the past century, especially the past several decades, is the dismemberment of the fine-tuned ocean ecosystems that are, in effect, our life-support system.

Photosynthetic organisms in the sea yield most of the oxygen in the atmosphere, take up and store vast amounts of carbon dioxide, shape planetary chemistry, and hold the planet steady.

The ocean is a living system that makes our lives possible. Even if you never see the ocean, your life depends on its existence.

With every breath you take, every drop of water you drink, you are connected to the sea.

I support this report and its calls to stop exploitative fishing – especially in the high seas – map and reduce pollution and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But I would add three other actions.

First, only 5 per cent of the ocean has been seen, let alone mapped or explored. We know how to exploit the sea. Should we not first go see what is there?

Second, it is critically important to protect large areas of the ocean that remain in good condition – and guard them as if our lives depend on them, because they do. Large marine-protected areas would provide an insurance policy – and data bank – against the large-scale changes now under way, and provide hope for a world that will continue to be hospitable for humankind.

Third, take this report seriously. It should lift people from complacency to positive action – itself cause for hope.



Oceans on brink of catastrophe

Marine life facing mass extinction 'within one human generation'

State of seas 'much worse than we thought', says global panel of scientists

By Michael McCarthy, Environment Editor, Independent of UK

The panel of 27 scientists, who considered the latest research from all areas of marine science, concluded that a "combination of stressors is creating the conditions associated with every previous major extinction of species in Earth's history". They also concluded:

* The speed and rate of degeneration of the oceans is far faster than anyone has predicted;

* Many of the negative impacts identified are greater than the worst predictions;

* The first steps to globally significant extinction may have already begun.

"The findings are shocking," said Dr Alex Rogers, professor of conservation biology at Oxford University and IPSO's scientific director. "As we considered the cumulative effect of what humankind does to the oceans, the implications became far worse than we had individually realised.

"This is a very serious situation demanding unequivocal action at every level. We are looking at consequences for humankind that will impact in our lifetime, and worse, in the lifetime of our children and generations beyond that." Reviewing recent research, the panel of experts "found firm evidence" that the effects of climate change, coupled with other human-induced impacts such as overfishing and nutrient run-off from farming, have already caused a dramatic decline in ocean health.

Not only are there severe declines in many fish species, to the point of commercial extinction in some cases, and an "unparalleled" rate of regional extinction of some habitat types, such as mangrove and seagrass meadows, but some whole marine ecosystems, such as coral reefs, may be gone within a generation.

The report says: "Increasing hypoxia [low oxygen levels] and anoxia

stressors. The scientific panel concluded that a new extinction event was inevitable if the current trajectory of damage continues."

The panel pointed to a number of indicators showing how serious the situation is. It said, for example, that a single mass coral bleaching event in 1998 killed 16 per cent of all the world's coral reefs, and pointed out that overfishing has reduced some commercial fish stocks and populations of "bycatch" (unintentionally caught) species by more than 90 per cent.


One of my favorite documentaries, which I have been showing to community college and university classes since 2002:

"The next century will witness heretofore unthinkable exhaustion of the ocean’s natural ability to satisfy humanity’s demand for food from the seas."

-- Dr. Carl Safina

Two 60-minute documentaries examine the declining state of the world’s ocean fisheries as we enter the 21st century and the pioneering efforts of fishermen, scientists and communities to sustain and restore them.

Many marine scientists agree that the conduct of the global fishing fleet is now the number one human activity threatening the health of our oceans. Throughout the ages, the world has enjoyed a vast and unlimited ocean, yielding abundant seafood. But increasing demand, new technologies, and burgeoning coastal populations are straining the limits of the ocean’s ability to sustain healthy fish populations. Narrated by Peter Coyote, Empty Oceans, Empty Nets is a powerful documentary on the rapidly declining fish harvests of the world. These harvests are important not only for the more than 200 million people worldwide who hold fishing-related jobs, but for many of the world’s populations, including over a billion people in Asia, who depend on seafood as their main source of protein. Unlike any other documentary yet produced, this series examines the state of the world’s oceans through the prism of fisheries and the millions of people who depend on them.

Using vivid images of sweeping nets full of fish unloading their contents onto commercial fishing boats, Empty Oceans, Empty Nets highlights the overwhelming magnitude of the annual worldwide harvest of more than 100 million metric tons of seafood. It also explores the stark reality of the 22 million tons of fish and other sea life that are caught and discarded by fishers each year. Viewers are transported to bustling and exotic international fish markets, where tons of fresh and frozen fish are sold each day to supply an insistent global demand and consumers will learn how they can make the biggest difference of all in sustaining the world’s ocean fisheries.


2002 CINE Golden Eagle; 2003 Columbus International Film Festival - Bronze Plaque; 2003 Ekotopfilm Festival - Grand Prize Public Affairs


This movement concerning how troubling our ecosystem's speeding collapse includes writers and activists looking for ways to regulate our eating habits. It's really troubling to think Western thinkers and eaters are now trying to make a dent in a quickly dwindling ocean system through restaurant.

Here's an author who also set up a web site to inform and reform:

This website is the first attempt we know of to rate restaurants that serve fish not only for the quality of their food but also for the effect they are having on the seas and on marine life. We have come to realise in the past decade or so that fishing, or rather overfishing, is the main influence on 70 per cent of the planet's surface. As was showed in the documentary film, The End of the Line, based upon my book of the same name, 80 per cent of the world's fish stocks are fully or over-exploited and some fish species, such as the bluefin tuna or the beluga sturgeon, are now listed as critically endangered.

Therefore, we feel that what is contained in the amuse bouche that is offered you before your meal, the sashimi that you eat as a starter or the fillet that you order as your main course is essential information if you are to make choices as a concerned consumer. How are you to know whether you are unwittingly taking place in the eradication of endangered species, or the destruction of ecosystems unless you know what you are eating? Some restaurants give little or no information on what species they serve. And how will your food taste if you know that you are eating the last of a species? Less good, I would hazard, than if you knew there was nothing to feel guilty about at all. With the knowledge of what is going on in our oceans, we believe the quality definition of good food has changed, and good food now means sustainable food.

So which restaurants try to serve it and work with fishermen to lower their impact on the sea? And which restaurants go on serving endangered species and make no attempt to work with their suppliers to avoid by-catch, or endangered or over-fished species? That is what we have tried to show in this guide, which is based on a questionnaire sent to restaurants. Where the restaurants did not complete it, we filled it in ourselves, based on their online menus (the marking system is linked here). We invite you to fill in a form or email us, where restaurants you know are not included or where you believe there is new information.

The success of this site will depend on your willingness to take part - the more information you can provide, the more powerful will become as a force for change.

We believe that by doing so we consumers can be better informed and, in the process, use our influence to improve the management of the oceans. We also believe our food will taste better.

Charles Clover

The End of the Line (DVD)

Due to endless human appetites, huge factory ships are now depleting the number of fish in the ocean, which is also experiencing the adverse effects of global warming. The net result is that by 2050, we may no longer have a supply of edible fish from our seas.

"Overfishing is the great environmental disaster that people haven't heard about," said the documentary's producer George Duffield. This is not merely an indictment of mercenary corporate fishing, it is also exposes how consumers choose to ignore the impact of eating endangered fish. In fact, as supplies of certain fish dwindle, they become more expensive and therefore more of a delicacy.

Charles Clover, the author of the book that the documentary is based upon, said: "We must stop thinking of our oceans as a food factory and realize that they thrive as a huge and complex marine environment. We must act now to protect the sea from rampant overfishing so that there will be fish in the sea for our grandchildren and great-grandchildren."

“The End of the Line” reveals how important fish are to the food chain, and that in many nations, the disappearance of edible fish might lead to mass starvation. Narrated by Ted Danson, “The End of The Line (Deluxe Edition)” DVD includes many bonus features.


The report mentioned above by the Independent and Sylvia Earle is, of course, restrained. Read the quick analysis by a much more holistically thinking marine scientist:

For all of the points raised in the report, this isn’t a question of ‘conservation for conservation’s sake’, but a fundamental necessity for the continued provision of vital life support for the population, of human and other living beings, that inhabit our ‘blue planet’. The oceans may have already passed breaking point; if that’s the case, we would never know – with scientific precision – until it is too late.

The report, however, cites the need to adopt precaution when information isn’t available. This idea is not new, but we need to adopt this ‘precautionary approach’ because, while we’ve already degraded vast tracts of seabed to a plough-cleared field, we cant afford still to ask later ‘what are the likely impacts’ – for the all the pollution, overfishing and biodiversity threats raised by the report.

Dr Jean-Luc Solandt is a biodiversity policy officer at the Marine Conservation Society

Friday, July 22, 2011

Heat, Zero Climate Change Analysis, Them Against Us -- How Mainstream Media is Killing Us all

Delusional? An open wound on democracy? The ostrich head in the sand? Collective functional illiteracy? The inability to look beyond one's great American (nightmare) Dream?

It's at the feet of mainstream media, whether you call it MSNBC,  Murdoch's Fabrication Factory, or National Public Radio or PBS. This morning's news about heat and cities virtually turning impotent with a few days of 100-degree plus weather had nothing about climate change, weather disruption, or the science and collective wisdom of millions around the globe looking at famines, droughts, water shortages, crop failures, rivers running dry, desertification, total ecosystem meltdown, and what rural and urban people can do to respond to this disruption. 

We've looked at the psychology of climate change, and the inability of human brains to forecast and mitigate and plan for climate disruption -- we haven't evolved to understand the longer-term risk analysis necessary to prepare for a world without ice, maybe within 100 years from now. We aren't able as a society to bring our collective educated will, all those powerful forces that want to do good  by a global community, into the fold and forcefully attack the willing collective propaganda and greed-induced measures of a corporate state, corporate globe.

The bottom line is that no matter how sing-songy and overtly old these stories are filed by PBS, NPR, CBS or the like, we in the know, in the middle of sustainability, climate change, and ecosystem collapse -- middle being at the point of studying and formulating some larger plan to bring all those issues together: equity, ecology, education, energy and economy that are the five e's of sustainability, sustainable development, sustainable planning -- are getting burned out by the collective amnesia of mainstream media and the fear of liberals to stand tall and begin to call a spade a spade. 

Here are headlines from NPR:

Heat Wave Opens Cooling Centers, Fire Hydrants

Another hot and muggy day is forecast for much of the country again on Friday, as the dangerous heat wave moves to the East. Thirty-two states issued excessive heat warnings Thursday. Air conditioning companies have been getting more service calls than they can handle.

Oklahoma's Parched Land Needs Massive Rainfall

Many areas of the country are suffering from "exceptional drought" conditions. That's the most intense level assigned by the federal agency that monitors droughts. Unusually dry conditions are creating ever expanding hardships for farmers and ranchers from New Mexico to Kansas. Oklahoma has been especially hard hit.

Then, the story on Democracy Now, with a UN expert and Christian Parenti and his new book, "Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence.”

Horn of Africa Famine: Millions At Risk in "Deadly Cocktail" of War, Climate Change, Neoliberalism

The United Nations has called an emergency meeting to discuss the Horn of Africa drought, which it says has already claimed tens of thousands of lives. Famine was declared in two regions of Somalia on Wednesday where 3.7 million people are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance. Another 8 million people need food assistance in neighboring countries including Kenya and Ethiopia. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calls the situation a "catastrophic combination of conflict, high food prices and drought" and has appealed for immediate aid. We go to Nairobi for an update from Kiki Gbeho of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.


We also speak with Christian Parenti, author of "Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence.” “This was predicted long ago by people on the ground,” Parenti says. “It is a combination of war, climate change and very bad policy, particularly an embrace of radical free-market by regional governments that mean the withdrawal of support for pastoralists, the type of people you saw with their dead cattle."

A bit of a side story -- follow the work of Anonymous -- maybe hacking is the revolutionary formula of the now, the future, the Paul Revere and Tom Paine way to unmask the lies of power.


Hacker Group Releases NATO Data Following Raids

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