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May 29, 2007


Richard Cizik is Evangelical Christianity's key advocate before Congress, the White House, and the Supreme Court. In March of this year, conservative Christian leaders demanded that he be silenced or removed from his post, charging that his concerns for poverty, climate change, and torture have shifted attention away from moral issues like gay marriage and abortion. But for Cizik, war and the environment are moral issues too, and his positions have been broadly affirmed by other Evangelical leadership. ...


This is well worth the the one hour listen The Evolution of American Evangelicalism
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Posted: May 29, 2007 4:15am
May 18, 2007

I stumbled across this piece in a site that I would not have necessarily expected it, Speaking of Faith. There are LOTS of other great articles here too but thought my whale and ele friends would really want to listen to this. It is an audio recording/interview with the accoustic biologist, Katy Payne which plays for @ 1 hour. It's a discussion about elephants and whales ...and humans....with lots of great audio of all three

Voice on the Radio
Katy Payne Katy Payne
Payne is an acoustic biologist and founder of The Elephant Listening Project. She is the author of two books, including Silent Thunder.


Slideshow: Life in Dzanga ClearingSoundSeen: Slideshow
» "Life in the Dzanga Clearing"
Researchers at the Elephant Listening Project assembled a dozen of their favorite images taken during their time in central Africa. See what Katy Payne describes as "Grand Central Station for elephants."







The full page is at: Whale Songs and Elephant Loves

The downloadable mp3 is here.
(right click and save as to download)

To play in real player, click here.


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Posted: May 18, 2007 3:03pm
May 9, 2007


CLIMATE CHANGE CREATES MORAL ISSUES, SAYS PANEL

 UNITED NATIONS, 9 May 2007 (BWNS ) -- As the scientific consensus on global warming grows, it's time to look more closely at how to share the economic, social, and humanitarian burdens that climate change will likely bring.

That was the main message of a panel discussion on "The Ethical Dimension of Climate Change," organized by the Baha'i International Community and held here on 30 April 2007 during this year's UN Commission on Sustainable Development.

"If sea levels rise at the rates they are predicting, we may see hundreds of millions of refugees," said Arthur Lyon Dahl, president of the International Environment Forum, a Baha'i-inspired organization.

"Where will they go? Who will take them in? What does it mean about immigration regulations?" asked Dr. Dahl, noting that these were only some of the moral and ethical questions that are being posed by the looming effects of climate change.

Sponsored by the nations of Tuvalu and the Marshall Islands, with assistance from the UN Office of the High Representative for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS ), the event became one of the most talked-about side events at the Commission this year, said Tahirih Naylor, a representative of the Baha'i International Community to the United Nations.

"The timing of the event on the opening day of the Commission really helped to bring attention to the ethical issues surrounding climate change, helping to frame discussions at the Commission, at least among nongovernmental organizations and major groups," said Ms. Naylor.

The panelists included Enele Sopoaga, former Permanent Representative of Tuvalu to the UN; Om Pradhan of the UN-OHRLLS; Don Brown, project coordinator of the Collaborate Program on the Ethical Dimensions of Climate Change; Tony Barnston of the International Research Institute for Climate and Society at Columbia University; Rabbi Lawrence Troster, Fellowship Program Director of GreenFaith; and Dr. Dahl, who is a Baha'i and also the coordinator of the UN Environment Programme environmental diplomacy program at the University of Geneva.

Dr. Brown, who is at the Rock Ethics Institute at Pennsylvania State University, said the moral and ethical issues that accompany rising sea levels or widespread crop failures will be matters of life and death for many people.

"How much warming should we tolerate?" he asked. "What is the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases that the world should identify as a target? There is no more obvious moral and ethical issue than this issue. It will literally determine who lives and who dies, whether Tuvalu survives, whether the Marshall Islands survive."

Such issues, Dr. Brown said, will force multilateral institutions like the United Nations to rethink international law and norms.

Ambassador Sopoaga said the issues for nations like Tuvalu are particularly stark.

"The future will be catastrophic for all communities, for all countries, but particularly for those who have already been identified as particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change," he said, noting that some forecasts suggest that small island states will disappear entirely under the rising ocean.

"It is a moral obligation, beyond political obligation or economic obligation, to help countries like Tuvalu and small island developing states, and of course the least developed countries," he said. "We have to do something urgently."

Mr. Pradhan of the UN-OHRLLS said that the latest predictions indicate that small island nations would be "simply wiped out."

"This is the time to remind the international community that ethics and morality do play a very important role in any human activity, especially when we have a situation where climate change is affecting such a large number, especially the poor and vulnerable," he said.

All the panelists agreed the release of recent studies by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the UK's Stern Review Report on the Economics of Climate Change have established a high level of confidence that climate change is real and that the consequences will be great.

"Some of the people against acceptance of global climate change demand something like at least 98 percent certainty," said Mr. Barnston. "We have somewhere around 90 percent or the low 90s. To me that's pretty high. It's not 75 percent like it was a decade ago."

All of the panelists also agreed that preventing the most drastic consequences of climate change would require that many people change their behavior - such as by driving fuel-efficient cars, shifting to renewable energy, and the like.

The question now, Mr. Barnston said, is how to motivate humans to change their behavior.

"When we discover something inconvenient to our lifestyle, it takes years to adjust to it, years to accept it, to believe it, and then to do something about it," he said, giving as examples the discovery that smoking is harmful or sunburns are not healthy. "We have to shorten the time lag before all levels of society accept that climate change is a danger just like cigarette smoking is a danger."

Dr. Dahl and Rabbi Troster both said that religious belief could be an important factor in providing the motivation for ethical behavior.

"How do we create a willingness to make the sacrifices that are going to be necessary," asked Dr. Dahl. "How do we build a sense of global solidarity when we are all facing the same common challenges?

"Religion is that dimension of society that has traditionally been responsible for morality and ethics," he answered. "We have to look at moderation. And all religions have taught about being content with very little."

Rabbi Troster said religious communities believe that the attitude in which humanity views itself in relation to creation is fundamental in changing behavior.

"This is central to the concept of moral action," he said. "If we change our attitudes, we will change our behavior."

source: Baha'i World News Service

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Posted: May 9, 2007 7:14am
May 9, 2007

Pope's Brazil Visit Puts Social Justice in Spotlight


When Pope Benedict XVI arrives this week in Brazil, he will no doubt recall the stir he made in the world's largest Roman Catholic country two decades ago.

Then, as Cardinal Ratzinger, the Defender of the Doctrine of the Faith, he clashed with Brazil's leading liberation theologian, Leonardo Boff. Ratzinger warned that his teachings conflated Christ's mission with Marxism, which drained Jesus of his divinity and unique role as the son of God.

Ratzinger ordered Boff to be silent for one year in 1985. When the church went after the ordained Franciscan a second time for addressing the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, Boff told Rome: "The first time, I accepted punishment out of humility. Now it is humiliation. That is a sin, and I won't do it."

Boff quit the priesthood but remained a Catholic, pressing for what the 68-year-old theologian, philosopher and author calls the central tenet of liberation theology.

"The opposite of poverty is not wealth – it is justice," he says. "And the objective of liberation theology is to create a more just society, not necessarily a wealthier one. And the great question is, how do we do this?"

A generation after Boff's rebuke, Brazil's Catholic clergy is actively, at times defiantly, pursuing the struggle for social justice on behalf of the poor: Catholic bishops stage hunger strikes to halt dam projects that they say put profits of big business above the needs of the people. They broker deals with banks to build housing for the homeless. And priests take to the airwaves to denounce the growing footprint of agro-business that has cut down the rainforest to make way for cattle and much-in-demand soy.

Nowhere is that fight fiercer than in the Amazon, home to 23 million people, 43 percent of whom live on less than $2 a day.

Rural Radio, a station owned by the Catholic Church, bristles with debate over the future of the Amazon. Station manager Father Edilberto Sena holds forth on Friday mornings from his corner studio in the Amazon port city of Santarem. Sena's mission is to arouse public action against what he terms the four enemies: logging, mining, cattle-ranching and soy farming.

About 104,000 square miles of trees have been felled in the state of Para, the most deforested in the Amazon according to new government data. Sena refuses to air advertisements of businesses that he says trample the environment, a decision that's drained the station of its coffers, but not this cleric of his zeal.

"Look, look, look – that's timber! " the priest shouts, pointing out a truck laden with logs that he's spotted as he trundles down a pot-holed highway after his Friday show. He's packed visitors into his car for a firsthand look at the deforestation around Santarem. Government satellite imagery shows that in just an eight-year period, from 1997 to 2005, deforestation in Santarem jumped from 30 percent to 40 percent. They say it is impossible to say which is the biggest culprit – soy, cattle-ranching or logging.

As carpets of green rice and fields of soy flash by, Sena's stream-of-consciousness tour inveighs against foreign capital, expounds on the moral decay of the West, and extols Christ as a subversive who fought the status quo.

"Morality is not just about sex," Sena says between exclamations about the next truck filled with timber. "Morality in Jesus' mind means social morality, solidarity, responsibility, ethics – that is morality. And you cannot go to communion on Sunday, and on Monday destroy the forest. It is against the law of God."

Soy farmers and companies who have come to trade in timber and soy in the Amazon argue that their presence represents the kind of development that this under-developed area needs.

If that is what they are providing, Sena asks: "Why, then, is the state of Para 22nd out of the 26 states in Brazil in terms of human development?"

Sena's forthright style has mobilized members of the Catholic laity who organized a recent symposium on the threats facing the rainforest. It drew plenty of environmental groups from civil society, illustrating the interconnectedness of the religious and the secular in the Amazon.

Even the federal prosecutor occupied a prominent place at the assembly. A supporter of Dorothy Stang, the American nun murdered for her defense of the indigenous people's land rights, prosecutor Felicio Pontes applauds the church's work on behalf of the Amazon.

The new Bishop of Santarem says there is "no clear-cut line" between the work of the Church and the work of civil society in the struggle for the rights of people.

"I give the people the power of the word to help them recognize what they should be doing. So it's a path to citizenship — a strong word — and it means the people are going after their own rights," Bishop Esmeraldo says.

Boff, the theologian, says 1 million "Bible circles" in the world's largest Catholic country regularly meet to discuss the Scriptures from the vantage point of liberation theology.

Some 500 miles east of Santarem, Bishop Carlos heads up a new diocese outside the port capital city Belem. He rejects labels, including one that would designate him a liberation theologian. But this bishop with a business sense hurls himself into the politics of the poor, taking their case to halls of power and finance.

It got him the state bank's financing to construct individual homes, modest but well-made, for some 500 people who had been evicted from land they had illegally occupied.

"When you treat the last as being first," he says, "you rescue their dignity and self-esteem."

New homeowner Anderson Gemaque says that "without Bishop Carlos, there wouldn't be dreams."

Harvey Cox of the Harvard Divinity School says liberation theology is thriving in the Brazilian church, and the Vatican is not likely to change it.

"It might make them uncomfortable, but there is not a lot they can do about it," Cox says. "There is an independent streak in the Brazilian church, including the hierarchy, and … it often takes the form of deep interest and commitment to important issues of social justice. Silencing [priests] doesn't really quell the kinds of current you might like to quell."

That the Vatican is still preoccupied with liberation theology a generation after it held sway over Latin America is evident in its rebuke of the Rev. Jon Sobrino, a Jesuit of El Salvador, who is considered the dean of liberation theology.

Pope Benedict will have ample opportunity on this trip to Brazil to discover how Latin America's clergy sees its mission.

But Boff expects the Brazilian bishops to be model hosts.

"The social injustice is so enormous here that the bishops must answer to the situation," he says. "[But] the bishops never criticize the Pope. They always say he's wonderful, he's for the social justice and the poor. Then they can simultaneously go ahead and do what needs to be done in Brazil. It's the Brazilian way," he says with a smile.


source: NPR

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Posted: May 9, 2007 3:16am
May 8, 2007
 Commentary by Captain Paul Watson

The meat industry is one of the most destructive ecological industries on the planet. The raising and slaughtering of pigs, cows, sheep, turkeys and chickens not only utilizes vast areas of land and vast quantities of water, but it is a greater contributor to greenhouse gas emissions than the automobile industry.

The seafood industry is literally plundering the ocean of life and some fifty percent of fish caught from the oceans is fed to cows, pigs, sheep, chickens etc in the form of fish meal. It also takes about fifty fish caught from the sea to raise one farm raised salmon.

We have turned the domestic cow into the largest marine predator on the planet. The hundreds of millions of cows grazing the land and farting methane consume more tonnage of fish than all the world’s sharks, dolphins and seals combined. Domestic housecats consume more fish, especially tuna, than all the world’s seals.

So why is it that all the world’s large environmental and conservation groups are not campaigning against the meat industry? Why did Al Gore’s film Inconvenient Truth not mention the inconvenient truth that the slaughter industry creates more greenhouse gases than the automobile industry?

The Greenpeace ships serve meat and fish to their crews everyday. The World Wildlife Fund does not say a word about the threat that meat eating poses for the survival of wildlife, the habitat destroyed, the wild competitors for land eliminated, or the predators destroyed to save their precious livestock.
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When I was a Sierra Club director for three years, everyone looked amused when I brought up the issue of vegetarianism. At each of our Board meeting dinners, the Directors were served meat and only after much prodding and complaining did the couple of vegetarian directors manage to get a vegetarian option. At our meeting in Montana we were served Buffalo and antelope, lobsters in Boston , crabs in Charleston , steak in Albuquerque etc. But what else can we expect from a “conservation” group that endorses trophy hunting.

As far as I know and I may be wrong, but my organization, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is the only conservation organization in the world that endorses and practises vegetarianism. My ships do not serve meat or fish ever, nor do we serve dairy products. We’ve had a strictly vegan menu for years and no one has died of scurvy or malnutrition.

The price we pay for this is to be accused by other conservation organizations of being “animal rights.” Like it’s a bad word. They say it with the same disdain that Americans used to utter the word communist in the Fifties.

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is not an animal rights organization. We are exclusively involved in interventions against illegal activities that threaten and exploit marine wildlife and habitat. We are involved in ocean wildlife conservation activities.

Yet because we operate our ships as vegan vessels, other groups, and now the media dismiss us as an animal rights organization.

Now first of all I don’t see being accused of as an animal rights organization to be an insult. PETA was co-founded by one of my crew-members and many of my volunteers come from the animal rights movement. But it is not accurate to refer to Sea Shepherd as animal rights when our organization pushes a strict conservation enforcement policy.

And secondly we do not promote veganism on our ships because of animal rights. We promote veganism as a means of practising what we preach which is ocean conservation.

There is not enough fish in the world’s oceans to feed 6.6 billion human beings and another 10 billion domestic animals. That is why all the world’s commercial fisheries are collapsing. That is why whales, seals, dolphins and seabirds are starving. The sand eel for example, the primary source of food for the comical and beautiful puffin is being wiped out by Danish fishermen solely to provide fish meal to Danish factory farmed chickens.

This is a solid conservation connection between eating meat and the destruction of life in our oceans.

In a world fast losing resources of fresh water, it is sheer lunacy to have hundreds of millions of cows consuming over 1,000 gallons of water for every pound of beef produced.

And the pig farms in North Carolina produce so much waste that it has contaminated the entire ground water reserves of the entire state. North Carolinians drink pig shit with their water but its okay they say, they just neutralize it with chemicals like chlorine.

Most people don’t want to see where their meat comes from. They also don’t want to know what the impact of their meat has on the ecology. They would rather just deny the whole thing and pretend that meat is something that comes in packages from the store.

But because there is this underlying guilt always present, it manifests itself as anger and ridicule towards people who live the most environmentally positive life styles on the planet – the vegans and the vegetarians.

This is demonstrated through constant marginalization especially in the media. Any organization, like Sea Shepherd for example, that points out the ecological contradictions of eating meat is immediately dismissed as some wacko animal rights organization.

I did not set the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society up as an animal rights organization and we have never promoted animal rights in the organization. What we have promoted and what we do is oceanic wildlife and habitat conservation work.

And the truth is that you can’t practise solid and constructive conservation work without promoting veganism and/or vegetarianism as something that promotes the conservation of resources.

A few years ago I attended a dinner meeting of the American Oceans Campaign hosted by Ted Danson. He opened the dinner by saying that the choice he had to make was between fish and chicken for the dinner, and what was the point of saving fish if you can’t eat them?

Guest speaker, Oceanographer Sylvia Earle put Ted in his place by saying she did not think that he was being very funny. She said that she considered fish to be her friends and she did not believe in eating her friends. So neither Sylvia nor I ate dinner that night.

I met Sylvia again at another meeting, this time of Conservation International held at some ritzy resort in the Dominican Republic . Harrison Ford was there and the buzz was what could be done to save the oceans. I was invited as an advisor. I sat on a barstool in an open beachfront dining plaza as the “conservationists” approached tables literally bending from the weight of fish and exotic seafood including caviar. I looked at Sylvia Earle and she just shook her head and rolled her eyes.

The problem is that people like Carl Pope , the Executive Director of the Sierra Club, or the heads of Greenpeace, World Wildlife Fund, Conservation International and many other big groups just refuse to accept that their eating habits may be just as much a part of the problem as all those things they are trying to oppose.

I remember one Greenpeacer defending his meat eating by saying that he was a carnivore and that “ predators” have their place and he was proud to be one.

Now the word predator in relationship to human beings has a rather scary connotation having nothing to do with eating habits, but for any human being to describe themselves as a carnivore is just plain ridiculous.

Humans are not and have never been carnivores. A lion is a carnivore as is a wolf, as is a tiger, or a shark. Carnivores eat live animals. They stalk them, they run them down, they pounce, they kill, and they eat, blood dripping, meat at body temperature. Nature, brutal red in tooth and claw.

I’ve never met a human that can do that. Yes we found ways to run down animals and kill them. In fact we’ve come to be rather efficient at the killing part. But we can’t eat the prey until we cut it up and cook it and that usually involves some time between kill and eating. It could be an hour or it could be years.

You see our meat eating habits are more closely related to the vulture, the jackal or other carrion eaters. This means that we can’t be described as carnivores. We are better described as necrovores or eaters of rotting flesh.

Consider that some of the beef that people eat has been dead for months and in some cases for years. Dead and hanging in freezers, full of uritic acid and bacteria. It’s a corpse in a state of decomposition. Not much that can be said to be noble about eating a cadaver.

But a little dose of denial allows us to bite into that Big Mac or cut into that prime rib.

But that one 16 ounce cut of prime rib is equal to a thousand gallons of fresh water, a few acres of grass, a few fish, a quarter acre of corn etc. What’s the point of taking a shorter shower to conserve water as Greenpeace is preaching if you can sit down and consume a 1000 gallons of water at a single meal?

And that single cut of meat would have cost as much in vegetable resources equivalent to what could be fed to an entire African village for a week.

The problem is that we choose to see our contradictions when it is convenient for us to see them and when it is not we simply go into a state of suspended disbelief and we eat that steak anyway because, hey we like the taste of rotting flesh in the evening.

Have you ever thought why it is that with a person, it’s an abortion but when it comes to a chicken, it’s an omelette?

Does anyone really know what’s in a hot dog? We do know that the government health department allows for an acceptable percentage of bug parts, rodent droppings and other assorted filth to go into the mix.

And now tuna fish comes with a health warming saying it should not be eaten by pregnant women or small children because of high levels of mercury. Does that mean mercury is good for adults and non-pregnant women? What are they telling us here?

Eating meat and fish is not only bad for the environment it’s also unhealthy. Yet even when it comes to our own health we slip into denial mode and order the whopper.

The bottom line is that to be a conservationist and an environmentalist, you must practise and promote vegetarianism or better yet veganism.

It is the lifestyle that leaves the shallowest ecological footprint, uses fewer resources and produces less greenhouse gas emissions, it’s healthier and it means you’re not a hypocrite.

In fact a vegan driving a hummer would be contributing less greenhouse gas carbon emissions than a meat eater riding a bicycle.
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Posted: May 8, 2007 5:14am
May 1, 2007
The drive to bring impeachment into a national discussion really seems to have taken a step forward in the last week. I was shocked to see Senator Hagel bring up impeachment several weeks ago but even more shocked that I saw no mention of a Republican Senator considering the impeachment alternative against a president of his own party when there has been so little discussion of this issue in the mainstream media to date. It's as though he was begging for the discussion to begin...and it fell silent.

I've witnessed John Murtha bring it up to deaf ears several times and then last week, Congressman Kucinich actually introduced a resolution to the house. I watched the evening news shows and saw nothing about it. The next day, I asked my co-workers if they had seen anything and they looked at me as though I was from another planet.

So, this morning, I opened my email to find one encouraging me to call and thank Murtha for his effort since he tried to bring impeachment into the discussion once again the last week. There was also a link and a request that I follow it to request that polling companies start asking the questions about impeachment. It seemed like the logical thing to do since the mainstream (liberal ) media has been totally ignoring it. So...I did and thought it wouldn't hurt to share my letter here.



It is dumbfounding that so many people are discussing the need to consider impeachment and yet the major media outlets seem oblivious to the notion. On April 29th, Bob Schieffer (CBS News-Face the Nation) appeared shocked to hear John Murtha discussing the fact that impeachment of George Bush is an option - even though Mr. Murtha has brought this up several times in the past and it was publicly aired.

Shortly after that discussion, Roger Simon of politico.com, the site that several of the networks have advertised as 'the' place to find out what's happening in politics, appeared on the show and when asked about the '
revelation' that Murtha had brought up impeachment, Mr. Simon discharged the idea saying that an impeachment would only leave Mr. Cheney in the Whitehouse. Despite the claim that his site new 'everything', he failed to even mention that Congressman Kucinich had just introduced articles of impeachment against Mr. Cheney (HR 333) earlier this week....another event that as hardly touched by the mainstream media.

When else has there been active, serious discussion of impeaching both a president and vice-president in the history of this country and yet the mainstream media doesn't feel this is news? Of course it is and those taking polls should be soliciting the desires of the populace since the media seems intent on serving only those controlling the purse strings.

(end of letter)


Even if the US somehow managed to change the description of a 'win' in Iraq to something that it can mark this blunder up as a 'victory' in the minds of some, if the leaders that drug us into this with their lies and manipulation are allowed to walk away without answering to their crimes and the shame they have brought upon this country, what is to prevent some other egotistical personality from doing the same thing in the future? We need to say 'This is wrong and we don't want it done in our name' very publicly. Please follow this link and add your comments.

http://tinyurl.com/ys4yax


*update* Shortly after I posted this, I just happened to catch Murtha on NBC news. The interview began with discussion about Ex-CIA director Tenet's book but it quickly turned to Murtha's mention of impeachment the day before. Just maybe they are feeling the pressure to actually give this the attention it deserves.  ....keep up the pressure...
http://tinyurl.com/ys4yax
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Posted: May 1, 2007 3:07am
Apr 27, 2007


Global Warming: Misinformation Action Center

The media dialogue on global warming is infected with conservative misinformation. While consensus in the scientific community exists on the issue, too often pundits and journalists advance false, misleading, and baseless claims about the looming environmental crisis. Among the common conservative myths and falsehoods advanced in the media about global warming are unsubstantiated claims that human activity is not a substantial cause of global warming; Antarctic ice is increasing, not decreasing; former Vice President Al Gore is exaggerating; and carbon dioxide is not bad for the environment. Worse yet, over the past few years, coverage on the global warming issue has regularly:

  • Presented global warming skeptics without noting their relationships with the oil, gas, and coal industries.
  • Given global warming skeptics the same prominence as those within the large scientific consensus on the issue, thus elevating their opinions to a position nearly equal to those among the vast majority of experts.
  • Cited cold regional weather as evidence that global warming does not exist.

In an effort to stem the tide of conservative misinformation in global warming media coverage, Media Matters for America has embarked on a campaign to educate and inform members of the media and the American people with the facts. In the coming weeks and months, Media Matters will continue to monitor print, radio, broadcast, and Internet media and debunk these and other false global warming claims, so be sure to check back often and sign up for email updates and action alerts. To view our extensive "Myths and falsehoods about global warming," be sure to click here.

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Posted: Apr 27, 2007 3:02pm
Apr 22, 2007
Capitalism is thriving.

We keep hearing that the media is ignoring the good news - the positive things that are happenning in Iraq. Several commentators have spoken defensively concerning their apparent neglect of the 'good things' that are happenning in Iraq. Usually, they allude to the orders/threat/warning to not travel outside of the 'green zone' since their safety can not be ensured. Despite this, this evening, (Earth Day, 2007) NBC managed to find a 'good news' story to share with us.

The story was about a young entreprenuer who saw an opportunity that couldn't be ignored. Body tatoos. Tatoos are a form of personal expression throughtout most of the western world and of social significance in many other parts of the world, but in Iraq, they have taken on a new importance. It seems that the current state of events has made it difficult to identify loved ones when they are caught up in rampant violence. This enterprising individual has determined that the one thing people carry with them, no matter where they go, is their skin and has gone into the business of providing tatoos and registering them in a database that can be used to help identify their bodies.

Link to video is near the center of the page: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3032619/

Thank goodness for Capitalism

before anybody misunderstands this post, yes, I am saddenned and outraged by this...
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Posted: Apr 22, 2007 4:37pm
Apr 8, 2007
It's Not Just Climate Change
That is killing the Earth and your children's future

Earth Meanders by Dr. Glen Barry
http://earthmeanders.blogspot.com/
April 7, 2007

Climate change is the collapse of the global atmospheric
system's processes and patterns and represents a massive
environmental challenge to maintaining a habitable Earth. Yet
climate is but one of several planetary scale ecological crises
that threaten existence and are occurring now concurrently.

While climate change is so omnipresent that it interacts with
and exacerbates virtually every other environmental crisis, it
remains but one symptom of a much more malignant systematic
breakdown in the global ecological system. Global heating could
stop being a major issue tomorrow (it will not) and there are at
least half a dozen ongoing ecological catastrophes that could
still destroy the Earth and civilization such as it is.

It is critical in a post-natural ecological world that these
global crises are understood to be connected and addressed
holistically if there is to be even a sliver of hope of a human
future. Threats to global security and sustainability now are
primarily a result of failing ecosystems caused by ill-advised
human procreation and development endeavors at the expense of
natural ecosystems.

This essay will briefly review the other deadly ecological
crises stalking the human race, identifying their stand alone
potential to wreak havoc, along with their ability to in
conjunction with climate change bring the whole biosphere and
human and other complex life toppling down. Consider this a
primer to non-climate related threats to global security and
sustainability.

Climate Briefly

Climate change is of course the 800 pound gorilla in the room,
causing so many problems and exacerbating or somehow interacting
with nearly all others. The atmosphere is in shambles after a
few centuries of European inspired treatment as a waste dump.
Humans and their gaseous wastes have dramatically changed the
chemical composition of the atmosphere and the way it functions.

The incessant scientific warnings of climate change caused
extinctions, floods and droughts, rising seas, climate refugees,
etc.; if anything, is a major understatement of the potential
for grave negative global change if we do not decarbonize the
economy including pursuing renewable energy with vigor,
dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions ASAP, and embrace
energy conservation and efficiency as signs of great virtue.

Global heating and all the attendant changes in ocean currents,
atmospheric circulation and temperature and precipitation
patterns may well kill us off by itself. But sadly, climate
change is not the only or perhaps even the major global
ecological issue threatening global ecological sustainability,
sustainable development, equity, justice and international
security.

Again, we could end carbon emissions tomorrow and the Earth is
still on a trajectory to ecologically overshoot its carrying
capacity. The social movement to save the Earth and seek to
enter an era of global ecological sustainability is a multi-
front battle with overwhelmingly poor odds and terrifying
consequences for failure. We will live with the Earth or die.

The Threats

Where to start? How to characterize the disintegration of the
Earth organism? How to capture the full range of emotional,
scientific and ecological ways of knowing the end of being? How
can a mere list of planetary system breakdowns capture the
horror of mass starvation, death by dehydration, parents
watching their children raped and taken into slavery as social
order disintegrates along with the trees, air and water? It
cannot.

Yet if there is to be any ecological hope, we must try to build
upon the growing awareness of global warming, making it clear
that there is a systematic failure of the global ecosystem
occurring. The Meaning of Life is survival of our and other
species, and we are failing in numerous regards.

Water

The world faces a water crisis that while made worse by warming
is the result of centuries of aquatic resource misuse. There are
already one billion people without access to clean water, 3,000
children die a day from bad water and the whole crisis could be
mostly fixed for $20 billion. Water scarcity shows all
indications of being the world's first ecologically induced mass
murderer, yet most have little inkling of how dear water is.

Surface waters have been treated as waste dumps as long as
humans have settled. The state of the world's lakes and rivers
is dismal, with biodiversity in such systems decimated, and
humans clinging to the banks of water bodies that they continue
to shit and pollute into. Diminishing wetlands and depletion of
aquifers which they help replenish mean that in essence we are
mining our fossil water supplies.

Toxics of every sort pervade freshwater. Climate change has
meant cycles of flooding booms and drought busts in terms of
water supply are more common. People have built in and developed
regions they never should have given their arid nature. There is
simply not enough water in the right places to meet all its
present uses including agriculture while ensuring all humanity
access to water as a basic human right. Much suffering and death
lies ahead unless water conservation takes center stage.

Land

Huge areas of the Earth's arable land have been converted from
forests and other natural ecosystems to farms, industry and
human settlements. Over 80% of the world's ancient forests have
been lost and the rest are going now; at tremendous expense to
the Earth's biodiversity patterns and terrestrial biogeochemical
processes. Humanity uses the majority of the photosynthetic
potential reaching the Earth. Terrestrial ecosystems which
interact with the atmosphere, water and oceans have been so
fragmented that the flows of energy and nutrients they
facilitate are virtually gone.

Everywhere you look there are indications of sick land. Soils
are eroding to such an extent that lack of fertile soil may in
itself topple nations. Bee populations are dying with
potentially huge implications for pollination. Amphibians are
similarly slipping away, perhaps the frog in the coal mine.
Toxics are bio-accumulating in virtually all organisms, with
unknown impacts individually much less synergistically.

There are simply more humans occupying the global land base by
several times than it can carry. Farmland continues to
deteriorate, while genetically altered materials threaten what
natural ecosystems remain with genetic pollution and superweeds.
Much despoiled land full of weedy invasive species will be hard
pressed to regain productivity much less an abundance of complex
interacting species any time soon. Biodiversity is being lost
before we even knew it existed, what its characteristics were,
and its place in broader functioning of the Earth System.

Oceans

Some two decades ago as I was in the Peace Corps in Papua New
Guinea, a friend with much greater ocean experience than I, the
land-locked mid-westerner, assured me that the oceans were so
vast, and its life so bounteous and resilient that it could
never be much reduced. Just as with the vast American forests,
oceans which could never be depleted are now becoming so.

Two-thirds of fish stocks in the world's high seas are
overfished, problematic for the vast numbers of humanity that
depend upon wild caught fish as their primary source of protein.
Bottom trawling fishers mine the ocean floor, scraping away
marine habitats with the fish. Tremendous amounts of unintended
fish species are caught and thrown away as by-catch. Climate
change has changed the chemistry of the world's oceans, making
it acidic; as well as changing ocean currents which spread heat
around the globe.

The world's oceans are in their last death spasm and will soon
become largely lifeless. It is occurring across all trophic
levels. Populations of plankton and phytoplankton, the basis of
oceanic food webs, are crashing. Top predators such as sharks
are so persecuted that entire marine food webs are unraveling.
Huge regions of formerly bounteous marine habitats fall victim
to coral bleaching and are becoming toxic dead zones.

Security and Sustainability in a Post-Natural Ecological World

As an undergrad studying International Affairs/Political Science
in the mid-1980s, we spent endless hours examining the Soviet
and Cold War threats to "Global Security" (which mostly meant
democratic capitalist's interests). I would imagine much is the
same today with global terror. It was not that other threats
were not acknowledged or imagined, but the focus was NOT
generally a concern that environmental issues could threaten
global or regional security - much less the sustainability and
existence of the Earth and humanity.

Today global ecological collapse is THE threat to global
security and sustainability. Humanity is poised upon the
precipice of its and creation's demise, even though climate
change and the whole raft of other inevitable negative results
of too many people consuming too much while destroying too many
ecosystems has not yet begun to reach their full potential for
cataclysmic mayhem.

Perhaps the greatest impediment to remedial policy is how
frighteningly difficult it is for persons of different
generations or mindsets to accept that humanity and society's
enterprises have become the Earth's dominant force. And they are
systematically dismantling the Planet's life-giving ecosystem
engines.

In our post-natural ecological world of tawdry ecosystems
surrounded by and encroached upon by endless human sprawl, we
have to understand that climate change and other planetary,
ecological and social ills are humanity's greatest security
threat. We are not talking a change in political regimes, the
fall of a civilization, or arcane social policy; we are speaking
of the end of the world.

Cataclysmic crisis calls for dramatic change. As a start, and
only a start, stopping burning coal, ending ancient forest
destruction and restoring natural forests, and having far fewer
children to actually shrink the population are the three biggest
societal things that could be done to save the planet. We will
never live securely and sustainably given actions of lesser
magnitude than those that seek to protect and restore the Earth
System.

###

Earth Meanders is a series of personal essays that places
questions of environmental sustainability within the context of
other contemporary issues. Comments can be made, and past
writings can be found, at: http://earthmeanders.blogspot.com/ .
Emailed comments will be posted there as well. Permission is
granted to reprint this essay provided it is properly credited.


Visibility: Everyone
Tags:
Posted: Apr 8, 2007 3:19pm
Mar 13, 2007
Focus: Politics
Action Request: Petition
Location: United States

“What PFAW’s review reveals is a lawyer who too often allows his legal judgment to be driven by his close relationship with the President rather than adherence to the law or the Constitution. The risk that such lack of independence poses … is simply too great to warrant [Gonzales’] confirmation.”
-- Ralph G. Neas, January 4, 2005

“[Gonzales] has never stopped being consigliere to Mr. Bush’s imperial presidency.”
-- The New York Times Editorial Page, March 11, 2007

Enough is enough.

As scandal after scandal emerges, each one shedding new light on the Bush administration’s abuse of power, violations of Americans’ civil liberties and contempt for the Constitution, People For the American Way is calling for the resignation or removal of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales as the first step in holding the White House and Department of Justice accountable to the rule of law.

Please sign our petition calling on congressional leaders to demand the resignation or removal of Attorney General Gonzales now!

Two years ago, PFAW vigorously opposed the confirmation of Alberto Gonzales as U.S. Attorney General on the grounds that his loyalties were misplaced, showing a much greater commitment – both personal and political – to President Bush than to the law and the Constitution. It’s not just recent revelations that have confirmed our suspicions, but indeed Gonzales’ entire record as Attorney General.

Here’s a quick glance:

  • Defended the Bush administration’s illegal domestic spying program, which operated in secrecy for years in violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and was declared unconstitutional by a federal district court
  • Falsely suggested in testimony before Congress that the Constitution does not provide the right of habeas corpus
  • Continues to back the Bush administration’s authority to hold U.S. detainees without judicial review
  • Oversaw the Justice Department’s failure to fully enforce laws that protect every eligible American citizen’s right to vote
  • Undermined checks and balances by asserting that the courts have no right to judge the executive branch’s national security policies

And just recently:

  • We’ve learned from long-overdue and much-needed congressional oversight hearings that dedicated and effective U.S. Attorneys were forced to resign from their posts for apparent political reasons, to be replaced by individuals chosen by Attorney General Gonzales with no congressional vetting under a little-known provision of the Patriot Act. And recent news reports indicate that the firings were driven by pressure from the White House – including President Bush himself.
  • We’ve seen reports that the FBI has been severely abusing its expanded authority under the Patriot Act by using so-called “national security letters” to obtain American citizen’s private information without judicial review.

The evidence of AG Gonzales’ failure has piled up too high and cannot be ignored any longer. And the recent hearings by Congress show a renewed commitment to oversight, indicating the time to act is NOW.

If you agree that Gonzales must resign or be removed from office, sign the petition now!


Bipartisan criticism of Gonzales’ performance has been building. And this past Sunday, both the New York Times and the third-ranking member of the Senate’s Democratic leadership, New York’s Chuck Schumer, called on Gonzales to resign.
Visibility: Everyone
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Posted: Mar 13, 2007 12:13pm

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