Yup, despite this week’s prediction of below-zero weather, it’s getting warm out there

Posted January 15th, 2011 in Blog, Featured 1 Comment »

Fostering Ecological Hope
Today from Margaret Swedish:

So you probably already heard this, that 2010 tied with 2005 for the warmest year on record globally, and broke records for the wettest. There is certainly some connection in that, really. A warmer atmosphere holds more moisture, while warmer, moister air holds more energy for storm systems. Meanwhile, an Arctic Ocean free of ice for longer periods of the year means two things; water absorbs more heat from the sun, while ice reflects it back out; and more open water means more evaporation creating more moisture to feed things like the flow of air over Siberia which has something to do with the big snowstorms in Europe and Eastern U.S. in recent years. It’s all pretty logical, you know, scientific even, but what good is logic in a culture, or in a global economy, that believes more in fairies?

Source: National Climatic Data Center/NESDIS/NOAA

Okay, maybe not fairies, just simply the bottom line. As corporations continue to take more and more control of the earth’s precious resources, as governments, by way of Free Trade Agreements and membership in the World Trade Organization, continue to surrender power and authority to the corporate world (which has no accountability to you or me, unless we are big stockholders), we see how this logic, how scientific research and reports, how even our actual experience of climate disruptions, of changes in nature all around us, has no seeming impact on the inexorable, insidious spread of corporate power into every aspect of our lives.

While we aren’t paying attention, corporations are taking control of our food systems, our access to water and its quality, energy sources, and areas all across the planet that are being ravaged for the production of goods produced for our consumption. Rare earth mineral mining is a particularly egregious example, the stuff needed for our iPads and plasma screens. The scramble is on to find good sites for tearing up the earth to get at these minerals.

We aren’t making good decisions about any of this because most of us don’t have a clue what is going on. We live in our narrow worlds staring at screens, distracted, stressed. We don’t have time to learn the world, just take the news as it is delivered to us without questioning what is being left out, what stories we’re missing. Millions of us are focused on getting a job, no matter what it is or what impact the industry might be having on long term prospects for our survival.

Mountaintop removal coalmining - photo by Vivan Stockman

All of this is very beneficial for the corporate world. Indeed, what policymaker or politician is strong enough right now to say, ‘no, Bucyrus,’ or ‘no, coal industry,’ or, ‘no, natural gas fracking industries’ – ‘even for the sake of creating jobs, we will not continue to destroy the very things we need for life.’

Here in Wisconsin, which has a budding wind farm industry, the new Republican administration is bent on creating regulations so stringent in terms of setbacks for the turbines that it may destroy the industry here altogether. The argument? Property rights. Okay, sure, and I have no doubt that property owners’ voices  are joined with the energy industry that is expanding, or trying to expand, coal-fired power plants in my state, or license new nuclear power plants.

Can we create jobs without causing more destruction to our living systems? Indeed, can we create jobs in the very effort to learn to live in an ecologically whole manner, a way of life that could ensure food, water, energy, and an abundance of natural wonder and riches for generations to come? Of course we can. But corporations don’t control that other future, and they call the shots, they pay for the elections now and increasingly own our ‘democracy’ – which we have never fully realized in the U.S.  Sadly, more and more our government at all levels is becoming owned and run for the benefit of the corporate sector.

In other words, representative government, which so many have struggled to make real for generations, is slipping through our hands. You probably heard this the other day, that a presidential election campaign in 2012 will cost a billion dollars. A BILLION DOLLARS! Where will that money come from? From whomever is rich enough and powerful enough to buy an election that costs a billion dollars.

President Obama received nearly a $1 million from employees of Goldman Sachs for his presidential campaign. Goldman Sachs is making record profits after being one of the parties to bring us to the brink of financial collapse in 2008. Is there a connection?

Of course there is. Various bailouts and weakened regulations helped the company recover from its own greedy and corrosive practices.

Friends, I don’t see how we benefit by thinking we can play in that game. I think we need to start chipping away at the foundations of this disastrous global economy by opting out of it as much as we can, and by building ‘movements,’ real movements that engage people at the most local level, as once the Civil Rights Movement did, or the Sanctuary Movement back in the ’80s (the latter being one in which I had the privilege to participate). Internet-driven campaigns will not do it. It’s fine to use the internet to connect and pass on info, but real organizing happens face-to-face, with your neighbors and in your communities.


Photo: Growing Power

For example, here in Milwaukee, groups like Growing Power and Sweetwater Organics connected to local farmers’ markets and restaurants connected to community groups trying to get access to healthy food in the inner city combined with Community Supported Agriculture combined with groups working to connect organic gardening and fresh food with the public school system…  all of this is creating a new culture around production and consumption of food that is outside the dominant corporate-led model. And it does more than create an alternative local food system: it strengthens the community at each place of connection, educates people in a hands-on way about something crucial to the planet (sustainable, local, healthy food production), supports small-business and farmers as a source of employment, and helps knit this fragmented urban community together.

I am not arguing that we should avoid political advocacy – we have to reassert our power against corporations, and we must do this quickly – but that we will not have success in the advocacy until movements are built, until more and more people, more and more communities, have a real stake that they feel and experience in creating the new way of life, one that can undermine the foundations of the global economy as it now stands and replace it with something that can sustain life and abundance for future generations.


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