Thursday, April 29, 2010

Let's Get Real Here -- Ocean Acidification is the Testament to Humanity's Role in Climate Change

By Paul K. Haeder

Reality check – seawater’s lower pH will effect more than vibrant, highly evolved marine ecosystems and all the glorious species that inhabit reefs, mangroves, sea mounts, and island kelp forests.

We’re looking at a 30 percent increase in the ocean’s acidity, something that hasn’t happened for millions of years. The amount of carbon dioxide we’re spewing into the atmosphere is 100 times more than 50 million years ago, and some like University of Washington’s Peter Ward, author of “Under a Green Sky,” believe that it’s more like 250 million years ago when that much CO2 was being released through volcanoes, and, the effect of that over a few hundred years was extinction of over 90 percent of all species.

This acidification of the oceans holds primacy as a topic so closely linked to global warming with the immediate negative effects on human culture and our very existence one would surely expect scientists speaking before the U.S. Senate to hold sway over that audience.

Three years ago, there was no government effort to fund research into carbon dioxide’s effects on the oceans, including calicifiers like clams, scallops, lobsters, shrimp, crabs, and coral reefs. Scott Doney’s talk, “Effects of Climate Change and Ocean Acidification on Living Marine Resources,” was impressive on many levels, giving the Vermont Sen. Olympia Snowe and other members of the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation’s Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard, a primer on the effects of global climate change on the ocean.

Scott Doney and Richard Feely (who will be at Spokane Community College’s Lair May 4, speaking at 7 p.m. about his and others’ work on ocean geochemistry and biochemistry) explained to lawmakers in as simple of terms as possible, but with a powerful confidence in his science’s elegance, the following topics to hook that stodgy audience:

  • Greenhouse Gases and Climate Change;
  • The Changing Ocean Environment;
  • Climate Change and Ocean;
  • Acidification Impacts on Marine Ecosystems;
  • Knowledge Gaps and Ocean Research Priorities;
  • Climate Adaptation, Mitigation, and Ocean Management
On one level, the discussion on how all that acidification tied to human activities (mostly centered around greenhouse gas emissions) already points to threats on those organisms that depend on a narrow range of ocean pH levels that allow them to make new shells and skeletons.
Feely told me in a KYRS-Thin Air interview April 28 (rebroadcast, 6 a.m. Friday April 30 – 92.3 FM or that acidification goes right to the core of ocean geochemistry. Hands down, the senior scientist with NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory was liberal enough in his admonitions against any back-peddling or junk science malarkey that tries to dissuade people to understand how tied human carbon footprints are to global warming.

Eighty percent of the globe’s warming ends up in the world’s oceans. The world’s oceans account for cloud formation (weather), for great agricultural abundance along the coasts of France and Spain (warm Gulf Stream current), and for a majority of the protein several billion people depend on.

Harvesting and aqua-farming of mollusks (clams, oysters, mussels, scallops) is $2 billion a year industry in the US, and more than $100 million a year for Washington, Oregon and California, but already the ocean’s carbon cycle has been disrupted to the point of lowering the levels of aragonite, essential to the growth of mollusks, crustaceans and corals.

Unfortunately, the calcifiers are part of a larger food-web, so, when we see that the US commercial fisheries’ $4 billion harvest made up of 24 percent of cod, haddock, halibut, mackerel, octopus, snappers, sole, striped bass, and flounder – all predators of calcifiers – the effects of acidification hits close to home.

Now, remember sixth grade biology: that food chain moves into a top predator category – accounting for more than 26 percent of the US fisheries’ overall take. It’s basic food web science as those barracuda, marlin, salmon, shark, swordfish, tuna and squid depend on the above calcifier predators.

“What goes around comes around,” said Sarah Cooley, postdoctoral researcher at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. Her research is tied to the socioeconomic costs of ocean acidification. Obviously, commercial and recreational fishing, tourism, and the protection coral reefs provide shorelines are somewhat easy to calculate – the so-called “ecosystem services” biologist and sustainability filmmaker David Suzuki once calculated on a global scale to be $7-9 trillion each year.

Cooley sees the shoreline protection by coral reefs to be $9 billion a year, but add to the equation 25 to 30 percent of fish who live their juvenile lives in the reefs seeking protection, and the figure jumps to $30 billion a year.

What Scott Doney and Richard Feely were trying to illustrate three years ago was that ocean acidification, ice melt and rising ocean temperatures were already happening, and the ‘business as usual’ approach is more than just misguided; it’s catastrophic and dangerous.

“We have an opportunity now to limit the negative impact of climate change and acidification in the future. This will require a comprehensive ocean management strategy incorporating scientific understanding of climate change and acidification from the start.

"This strategy will also require a balance between adaptation to climate change and acidification that are unavoidable, and mitigation to reduce the rise in greenhouse gases and resulting impacts,” Doney told the Senate working group.

As members of the U.S. Carbon Cycle Science Program Scientific Steering Group, U.S. Community Climate System Model Scientific Steering Committee, the U.S. Ocean Carbon and Climate Change Scientific Steering Group, and the U.S. Ocean Carbon and Biogeochemistry Scientific Steering Committee Feely, Cooley and Doney should be holding our political leaders’ rapt attention.

Feely is seeing more funding for ocean research lately, and while ocean acidification was first observed and studied a century ago, this area of human-induced biogeochemical changes is new. Earth scientists have been complaining the past few years (decades, really) about the lack of funding for or defunding of programs in favor of billions into space exploration, “man in the can trips” and pie-in-the-sky lunar colonizing scams.

So much we don’t know about life on earth is in the oceans. Oceans are being studied intensely by many disciplines and from various camps. Collapsing fisheries because of over-harvesting is just one huge multi-disciplinary realm of study looking into humanity’s over-consumption and over-capacity of harvesting.

Way too many fast, big vessels with high-tech gear are rampaging through fisheries and bringing some to near collapse. Eight of the world’s nine largest fisheries are closed and critically near collapse. Some experts say without laws and tough mitigation efforts, the world’s ocean fisheries could be near collapse by 2040.

Do we forget about oceans rising because we’re in Spokane? The president of the Maldives and others looking at island nations’ futures are greatly concerned about the impact of ice melt and thermal expansion on their cultures’ and nations’ futures. Mohammed Nasheed held an underwater summit last year to bring attention to ocean rising tied to climate change and anthropomorphic causation.

As I mentioned to Feely, all marine disciplines need to get on board and couch these issues so average citizens can understand and connect to their lives. In that regard, I referenced one of the leading turtle experts, Wallace Nichols, who brings the idea of our negative effect on oceans this way – it’s what we put in, take out and do to the edge that’s harming the oceans and killing his Riddley turtles. He’s young, uses the Internet effectively, cuts songs, and does snappy presentations and films about the oceans in peril.

Turtles, it turns out, are emblematic of a lot that is wrong with our consumption patterns tied to the seas.

While the hour talk with Feely broached a lot of topics, we didn’t get into the so-called giant garbage patch, or Pacific gyre. Much research on plastics affecting the food chain has been conducted, and that plastic swirling garbage vortex bigger than Texas is axiomatic of humanity’s prodigious waste stream. Looking at the complete water column, researchers are finding six times plastic matter than organic matter.

Throughout the marine ecosystem, on shore, in the middle of the ocean, following currents, thousands of sea birds are dying because they consume colorful plastic bits. Capt. Charles Moore is working on publicizing our plastic addiction and the connection to collapsing marine systems. The question needing to be posed is obvious: “What does the plastic in fish flesh do to humans after we as apex predators eat the stuff?”

Chris Jordan the well-known “environmental” and human ecology photographer is also working on plastic’s effects on animals, the oceans, us.

This is a topic dear to me since I started off 40 years ago learning how to scuba dive and eventually I ended up majoring in marine biology and worked hard on being a journalist-dive-bum-photographer. Travelling throughout Mexico’s Sea of Cortez, the Pacific Baja, the Yucatan and Belizean coasts, and then in Thailand, Vietnam and the Red Sea, I’ve seen first-hand collapsing ecosystems due to man’s greed, waste, and pollution.

Ghost nets miles long – monofilament drift nets – have snagged millions of fish and air-breathing mammals like sea lions, small whales, turtles. Several billion tons of sardine and anchovy stocks are netted and ground up each year to feed an unsustainable farmed salmon industry. Taking those species out of the mix has major effects on the food web.

Calderon dolphins by the thousands are being beaten and stabbed to death by the Danes in a bizarre manhood ritual. The Japanese kill 23,000 dolphins a year in Taiji as part of the dolphin theme park and petting industries (highly recommended, watch the 2010 Academy Award-winning film, “The Cove”). Even the Obama Administration is weighing in on considering dropping the ban on whaling.

In a world where a beached sleek bottlenose or sturdy orca whale is considered a bio-hazard due to the lethal levels of PCBs and other persistent chemicals, we have to more than shudder at man’s huge footprint on everything.

One angle is the socio-economic model Cooley studies: “The world is probably going to march on without these species, but it might be darn uncomfortable. “The natural communities are going to be very, very different. And different might be OK—maybe. There still is an ecosystem to be had. But a lot of the things that we really enjoy, that our communities depend on, are not going to be there. We may be able to find other awesome things about the new communities, but chances are, options will be limited.”

The more important angle for me and others, however, is that we can’t put a monetary price on a whale or coral reef and all its non-human inhabitants. It’s the intrinsic value we have to embrace and consider; that this earth has these complex ecosystems and niches for reasons, and taking one out, or a dozen, makes no sense if we are to regard biological life as highly unique in this universe and beyond.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Coral Research Key to Systems Thinking on Acidification of Oceans

a great article on coral research:

"Dead Corals Do Tell Tales: Growing a little each day, coral skeletons keep a daily archive of past ocean temperatures"

Spokane Hosts Ocean Expert May 4 -- This Seventy Percent of the Earth's Surface as A Study Field = 7 billion times more inportant than space travel

LIVE event --

And, Richard Feely is on Tipping Points: Voices from the Edge, Wed. April 28, 3-4 and rebroadcast 6 a.m. Friday.

92.3 FM

May 4, 2010, 7 p.m. Ocean Acidification: The Other CO2 Problem! Dr. Richard Feely ( NOAA, Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory

This lecture is free and open to the public.Location: SCC Lair Auditorium, Building 6, Spokane Community College

Note -- Oceans are being studied intensely these days in various arenas and from various camps. Collapsing fisheries because of over-harvesting is just one huge multi-disciplinary realm of study looking into humanity's over-consumption and over-

capacity. Way too many sophisticated vessels with high-tech gear rampaging through fisheries and bringing some to near collapse, that's an obvious cause. Some experts say without laws and tough mitigation efforts, the world's ocean fisheries could be near collapse by 2040.

Forget about oceans rising. The president of the Maldives and others looking at island nations' futures are greatly concerned about the impact of ice melt and thermal expansion on their cultures' and nations' futures. Mohammed Nasheed held an underwater summit last year to bring attention to ocean rising tied to climate change and anthropomorphic causation.

What we put in, take out and do to the edge of the oceans is one heuristic that Wallace Nichols, a turtle researcher and Bioneer, looks at in terms of human impact on the oceans. Turtles are emblematic of a lot that is wrong with our consumption patterns tied to the seas.

The giant garbage patch, Pacific gyre? Lots of research on plastics effecting the food chain -- a plastic swirling garbage vortex bigger than he size of Texas? Sea birds dying because of consumption of colorful plastic bits. Captain Charles Moore is working on publicizing our plastic addiction and the connection to collapsing marine systems. What does the plastic in fish flesh do to humans after we as apex predators eat the stuff? Chris Jordan the photographer is also working on plastic's effects on animals, the oceans, us.

Ocean acidification? What is the other CO2 problem? Well, NOAA's Richard Freely is being interviewed by me Wed. April 28 and is in Spokane May 4 for a talk. Students and citizens alike need to know these ocean issues, need to know the implications of poor policy decisions, need to know the global impact of consumption and industrial waste and aqua-farming and all those other attendant issues we share as a global culture of 6.7 billion competing and hungry people.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Photos of Earth Day in Spokane, thanks to the Community College

Spokane's images will be shown on the Jumbo tron, Washington DC, National Mall, April 25 -- really.

We showed Vanishing of the Bees April 17, which happens to be bee day it the nation as bee keepers get their new broods and queens and work on that avocation and profession.

Jesse Swanson is a photographer who worked his magic for Earth Day, before and during the event.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Earth Day, April 17, Spokane, April 22, the Date, April 24, Washington DC

So, the discussion since April 17, after a full morning, day, evening and into the night experience we called, Takin' it to the Streets, Spokane! as the 40th Earth Day celebration for a small city, is that the event gave people a number of ways to become active and hopeful. This event brought people together, and in the end, even staid City officials asked politely, out the side of their mouths: "Why can't we do this more often?"

What it was we did was take over streets -- one block of a street called Main Avenue. This was planned as a way to show people in Spokane that the streets are not complete until they are re-appropriated by people. So, we had wheelbarrows, walkers, roller skaters, skateboards, a hand glider, even live raptors, belly dancers, hoop twirlers and a bunch of people with booths and demos and tables and music to come out and break bread and share stories about Earth and Earth Day.

These aren't easy things to accomplish in a world of Byzantine politics, code enforcers, fire marshalls, cops, and health inspectors. We broke concrete to play four urban trees on the block. That was Herculean in itself as all the permits and vetting had to go through the proper channels. In the end, the lessons learned by those younger folk working on the Earth Day events, including digging up concrete and plowing into basalt, is that cities bog down citizens in the name of protecting the greater public health and greater good. In many asides, people were livid at the number of legal-regulatory-openly negative rules we had to follow to do some pretty innocuous and helpful things.

The Day was about celebrating April 22, the official Earth Day going back to 1970. In 1969 the San Francisco Board of Commissioners officially announced Earth Day as that city's weighing in on the bigger national day a year later where more than a million people marched on Washington DC to celebrate the world of clean air, water, land and species integrity, all of which, of course, were being disrupted or negated by our industrial practices.

The entire city and county codes and departmental purview and disconnected permitting processes, all the people with titles, desks, and power, all the politicians who are not quick studies, or who list when seeing community support or community dissent on their favorite issues, all the backroom deals, all the bowing to construction industries, chambers of commerce, and the business sector, all the threats from our state capitols looking to quash any green or sustainability initiative once the economic chopping block is pulled out, all of those caveats and roadblocks tear at the very fabric of participatory democracy, inclusion, community activism.

But this Earth Day showed them, all of them, that citizens can prevail and take back the streets figuratively and literally. We can imagine a world where cars are put aside, where streets can be party or cultural meeting places, where the public spaces we all seek are blocks away from some mall or fast-food court.

We received proclamations from the city and the county, read by the respective politicos within City of Spokane and County of Spokane chambers. What I found interesting at the County proclamation event was that the one commissioner I had been working with on the language had to go to Olympia, and her two male counterparts were sort of taken aback after they read the verbiage.

I had at least 15 minutes with them trying to explain to them the reason why oceanographers look at acidification of the seas as a number one threat, one caused by human-generated greenhouse gasses. These middle-aged white males, I have noticed in this town, and elsewhere, are reluctant to give the science a whirl. They are still mired in false balancing by the media and are still confident about an outright attack on us, this phalanx of scientists and technologists and city designers and planners and stakeholders of every stripe. They attack citizens who study climate change. Why?

At the end of the day, no council member or commissioner still stuck in the 19th Century at the Darwin debate wins the day, to be sure. It all smells rotten, though, when people who are held to the public's trust "standard" and who desire to be agents of change and still try and be combative and sound so smart and elite when they attempt to counter the world with, "There is no proof humans cause global warming . . . there's no proof the earth is even warming up."

Looking at Earth Day, global warming politics, the psychology of group change all some together as a massively fun way to spend the day grappling with code checkers and this cerebral discussion about how we can create an Earth Charter. Looking at all the elements of climate and ecosystem collapses, and seeing the failed response in places like Haiti by the US and the world, it is easy to go apocalyptic.

The failed response of people in the US to educate themselves, to drive themselves toward truths, and to be real humans in a world of other humans and other species is the hardest pill to swallow. Yes, nine out of 10 comments about Earth or Sustainability have some strong sense of perspective if not some support; it's the one out of ten that derides everything, looks at the foolish mindset that says if we want clean air, better transportation choices, better cities, less corporate control, and more community activism that we must be hypocritical hippies who live off the inventions and grand toys and services of the corporation and yet continue berating them. This is a democratic movement, not socialistic, though socialism is a great way to pull other elements in climate change together.

The illogical grounding of that statement saying we have to accept the materials economy as is speaks volumes to the lack of intelligent thinking and maybe sound teaching going on in our schools. Have we hobbled educators that much and our selves in so-called polite company, that we can't work these retrogrades through their pain, their misapplied concept of political and community activism, with education without fear of being stopped, silenced?

Yes, more public transportation, more efficiency, and more walking and biking, but that does not mean the car is dead. We want a set of lifestyle choices, sure, but we don't want those choices at the expense of failed ecosystems, extinctions, toxicity and our own species' ailments all caused by corporations run amok or gone unchecked. It's this line of thinking that produces the failed intelligence at city council meetings, in town halls, on TV when tea bag party folk yammer on and on about meaningless and groundless "stuff" because they happen to be self-imposed/self-inflicted disenfranchised white men and women.

Earth Day is about dialogue, thinking and moving ahead. The work to be done is there, and the challenges we face have yet to be written.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Earth Day in Spokane -- Thanks to several thousand people!! Thanks to several dozen volunteers!!!

Spokane – Just the Way Light of Sun Touches the Backs of Earth Volunteers
By Paul K. Haeder

for the people who worked, for the people who shared Earth Day 2010 Takin’ it to the Streets, Spokane!

she came into life from glaciers imploding
basalt columns ripped from geological core
scarring earth, the lift of eagles broken
by the roar of the ice dam fracturing
giant blue heron settled eating purple frogs
they all listened to the roar, even the tribes

artery of river stone, the open wound
clear water, the gapping pools where Coho
settle for energy, in the collecting pools of sun water
where grizzly belly up and rip open dog fish
bigger than children, bigger than myths

this is a memory that isn’t lamentation but clarity
we can believe the history of our biophilia, our grand
hope for some reckoning with the wagers
who would sell every white pine for chopsticks
who would let the goo of arsenic tailings
settle into the bones of gorgeous rivers

you did fight that spasm, oddly enough, that odd nature
in most humans, a day of recapturing the light
when clouds and wind and Douglass fir trapped pheromones
sailed together on Gaia's wet morning breath,
the buzz of bees harkening in the same fold of time

this is how we live a modern ghost dance
no eulogies any more, just utilitarian ground truthing
hard fought battles to bring the purveyors of greed
to their knees, yet we drink the ferment of this life
in Spokane, making celebration and war one

give each other elbows, the full arm salutation
remember we worked like bees
pollinating a city we see as old, tired, but a future place
where some of us will ghost dance with salmon
and the grandmother lynx, where caribou herds will trample lichen
for miles . . . . we believed and did . . .

. . . so children will gather polished river stones from
the very water in their blood
pure, clean, and more than a dream
because of us, each one of us together.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Earth Justice, Earth Regard, Earth Struggle -- 40 Years and Counting

It's all about people. Join us April 17, at 7 a.m. to put up the tables, the booths, the fun for kids and family and singles all alike. Main, between Browne and Division.

Here's my latest piece as a columnist with Down to Earth. It says it all about the battle for sanity within the earth justice movement. Thanks to five dozen participating organizations, 100 individuals, a dozen vendors of food, and all the effort underwriters have put in.

Earth Day can’t be Hijacked by Madison Avenue –
Putting the “A” in Earth

Here comes the drum roll for Earth Day 2010. . . .

Earth Day 2010 could be a turning point in forcing the US and G-8, G-20, Group of 4, or Group of 77 to move aggressively toward green jobs, energy efficiency, renewable energy, food security and more, all under the marquee of Climate Change Paradigm Shift.

According to the Earth Day Network, 1 billion of us will celebrate and take action for Earth Day. The first one was loosely organized 40 years ago, largely with the political clout and will of Sen. Gaylord Nelson, who asked Americans to consider the burning rivers in Ohio, massive waves of smog in LA, and unending eutrophication of our nation’s lakes as contrary to American values, and against the American ideal of “this land is your land.”

This 40th one – April 17 in Spokane and then up to April 24 as the nation celebrates in Washington, D.C. — occurs when the world is scrambling to plan for climate change, sea level rise, freshwater shortages, loss of soil volume and fecundity, human and animal displacement, and dozens of other ecosystem strains. Think about planning for human diasporas beyond calculation.

It’s also an era of huge energy and fossil fuel monopolies not only wresting control of our energy policies, but determining foreign policy and military engagement. On one hand, scientists are looking at the impacts of mountaintop removal and coal mining and burning coal on local watersheds as well as the global atmosphere. They’re studying the loss of nutritional value in crops due to climate change. And looking into the causes of pollinators like bees collapsing as a species. And why some forests are receding and other flora like sagebrush is advancing.

Working in tundra country and on the ice shelves of the world, underwater along the coral atolls and high atop elfin forests in rainforests, scientists are gathering forensic evidence from those smoking guns we all began to suspect as earth’s killers in the early 1990s. Somehow, we in the environmental movement began to see humanity’s waste and consumption as harbingers of climate change and the Sixth Mass extinction.

The sciences, deep ecology, policy think tanks, grassroots organizing and community empowerment associated with Earth Day don’t just stay anchored to stewarding wild places, protecting wildlife and working on humanity’s need for open spaces or parks.

Earth Day 2010, for example, is about Charles Moore’s work as a sea captain studying the giant plastic gyre (garbage patch) in the Pacific. The size of Texas, this garbage swill contains more plastic shards and micro-small pieces of plastic than animal life – at a rate of 6 to 1.

April 22 is about Janine Benyus looking at nature as a blueprint and operating system in an area known as biomimicry. Remember Velcro? Think snaggy thistle or any number of weeds. Her work looks at reducing resource harvesting, enhancing the life cycle of products, and replicating nature’s designs applied to the way we build buildings and create cities by cutting out toxins and decelerating materials use and energy consumption.

Rachel Carson is not a long-gone and overused icon of the environmental movement this Earth Day because, unfortunately, her 1962 book, “Silent Spring,” did not stop the exponential growth in organo-chemicals and other synthetics used in almost every process of our daily lives, even in daily breaking of bread.

Hormone-disrupting synthetics, some from plastics, others from hundreds of chemicals used to grow, treat and process our foods, have created a nation of twitch-riddled, food-allergic, cognitively-challenged hormone-disrupted future cancer patients.

Today, one is warned to step aside a beached orca or dolphin because of enormous quantities of bio-accumulated PCBs, methyl mercury and other hazardous compounds. Killer whales taped off with Haz-Mat tape? What has the world come to in 40 years?

Earth Day 2010 is about clean air, water, land, but also about understanding and planning for the inevitable forces put upon civilization as a result of Peak Oil and Climate Change. In 1970, before the oil embargo, I remember tooling around from Tucson to the Sea of Cortez for some wicked diving along fertile reefs (they aren’t fertile anymore). That was on 22 cents a gallon petrol. Those earlier moments in our country’s history, when crude gushed to the surface, are long gone, and now we are in a time when the energy required to find and extract a barrel of oil equals the energy contained in that barrel.

Maybe Earth Day 2010 will be about building monuments for coal miners in all 50 states since this country still gets half of its electricity from dirty coal-burning electricity power plants. The fight against Massey Energy on mountaintop removal is now shifted into a social justice battle as those 29 coal miners who recently perished in poorly maintained and safety-anemic Massey-run mines are a testament to the impact of the fossil fuel world we depend upon.

This celebration and gathering on Earth Day 2010 must be about acknowledging the science, continuing the uphill battle to win the hearts and minds of the American public, and believing the scientific reality that any concentration of carbon dioxide greater than 350 parts per million in the atmosphere is not compatible with maintenance of the biosphere on the “planet on which civilization developed and to which life on earth is adapted.” NASA scientist and climate expert James Hansen repeatedly says it – we have to stop burning coal almost immediately – by 2020.

Many call for a post-carbon world where all human endeavors and systems are run on renewable energy and cities are compact or large and efficient.

The Number 350 is that magic digit many will be chanting as their mantra this Earth Day. Earth Day is about looking Obama in the face and getting him to change. It’s about considering farmers tending more than 93 million acres of corn and demanding an end to ethanol, an energy source that takes more energy to make than we get out of it. Earth Day is about stopping the sloughing off of millions of pounds of chemicals like Atrazine and nitrogen-based fertilizers sprayed for these so-called SUV fuel crops as cases of birth defects and miscarriages, plus cancers, rise each year in the so-called “corn-belt.”

Earth Day is about celebrating youth projects, giving students the curriculum and administrators to allow for truly innovative and worthy teaching. It’s about learning more from Jan Lundberg of California who hasn’t owned a car in 20 years and tore up his driveway and planted a garden. Chris Hedges, author of nine books, including “Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle” (2009), is talking paradigm shift this Earth Day:

“The reason the ecosystem is dying is not because we still have a dryer in our basement. It is because corporations look at everything, from human beings to the natural environment, as exploitable commodities. Consumption is the engine of corporate profits. We have allowed the corporate state to sell the environmental crisis as a matter of personal choice when actually there is a need for profound social and economic reform. We are left powerless.”

While the Earth Day network, a loosely connected group of disparate organizations, works on green schools, recycling and waste reduction, sustainable development, water, energy, food and agriculture, climate change, conservation and biodiversity, and the green economy campaigns, it’s clear that we have to change the politics to make real change, and we have to undergo a massive restructuring of our education system.

Earth Day is about giving voice to thinkers with deeper analyses of the broken system, like Elizabeth Kolbert (“Field Notes from a Catastrophe”) and George Monbiot (“Heat”). In the end, no matter how much science-based information or wonky studies we have at our beck and call, Earth Day 2010 is about leading people into a decade of real change:

“We need to separate ourselves from the corporate government that is killing the planet,” said Derrick Jensen, author many books, including “The End Game.” “We need to get really serious. We are talking about life on the planet. We need to shut down the oil infrastructure. I don’t care, and the trees don’t care, if we do this through lawsuits, mass boycotts or sabotage.”

While most local Earth Day 2010 celebrations will be all about the soft sell of what it means to be on the planet, to be “stewards” of the “lower” species, and to reduce waste and pollution, the real work starting this Earth Day is to bring down the system that depends on protecting the corporate elites and those with power and money. Earth Day 2010is about community activism and community governance, whereby a social response is the only conduit to dealing with global heating.

The progress some have made in Spokane will be proudly displayed Saturday, April 17, 11 a.m. to midnight, on Main between Division and Browne, because of the work those people have done to save forests and fish and clean air and water.

“Earth Day 2010, Takin’ it to the Streets, Spokane!” is a gathering place for those working to give people in poverty voice and opportunities to share in the green movement.

Common citizens will see the green movement isn’t just concerned with dolphins, spotted owls and pine forests. We’re working on showing our citizenry how equity, education, and environment are keys to sustainability.

Earth Day is about beginning those conversations, sharing stories about the economics of sustainability, and how money should become a tool by which the community can make the change the Green Generation demands and deserves.

As the day unfolds and hundreds of photographs are taken, we still will have the following week to make our Spokane message clear. On April 24 more than a million people will be in Washington, D.C,. while our city’s photos are displayed on a 120-foot-by-60 foot JumboTron.

Earth Day 2010 is the beginning of a massive movement, starting one city at a time.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Green Directory for Spokane -- It's Been up and Running for a Few Years -- Si se puede -- Yes We Can, Spokane


The green and sustainable living movement is growing.
Consumers want to make choices that:
• Reduce their exposure to toxic chemicals
• Help reduce our dependence on foreign oil
• Protect the environment
• Create healthier communities

WE REACH PEOPLE WHO CARE. Folks in Spokane and North Idaho want to find alternative building materials, local organic food and natural healthcare and they don’t want to go west of the Cascades to do it. That’s why we have created a resource guide that brings all the best green and sustainable businesses and organizations together in one resource. The Inland Northwest has an opportunity to be a leader in sustainability, our goal is to help people take advantage of it. Whether it’s agriculture, construction or alternative medicine it’s time for our region to step out on the cutting edge.

Now you can reach like-minded folks who value progressive ideas, concern for the environment, and a love of our local community. Listing and advertising in GO GREEN is a great way to let people know they have a choice.
Jon B. Snyder, Ad Sales

GGD, PO Box 559
Spokane WA 99210


Saturday, April 3, 2010

Photos, Spokane, Youth, Forty Years -- Earth Day, handing over the baton to new blood

Great stuff, being a teacher, activist, motivator, and, yes, bull-headed about not giving an inch in this world of tipping points, positive feedback loops, and just plain ecosystems collapse. We'll look at the value of the Academy Award winning documentary, The Cove, in a real immediate blog. And the movie, Creation, about Darwin and his wife, Emma, based on a cool book,

Annie's Box: Charles Darwin, His Daughter and Human Evolution by Randal Keynes

Yes, the 1859 publication of On the Origin of Species is the greatest event in human intellect, by far, hands down, no matter what side of any religious debate you might fall on.

But for now, let's celebrate an SFCC graduate of the photography program. Jesse Swanson is all about looking at his environs, graduate of University High, and now working in Charlie Gurche's office digitizing 25 years of Gurche's fabulous work as a wild land and outdoor photographer, featured in plenty of magazines and in Sierra Club books.

Jesse's work here exemplifies vision, art, an eye for his surroundings, and a belief that photography is a capstone on humanity's work in the world -- both good and bad work.

He's photographing Spokane for Down to Earth Northwest, and he's photographing Earth Day 2010, Spokane's event which will be broadcast on the Capitol Mall April 24 as the country celebrates Earth Day a week after Spokane does. All those images of Spokane on a Jumbo tron. Thanks, Jesse.

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