U.N. INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PEACE 2019 theme, “CLIMATE ACTION FOR PEACE”. Let us find ways and means to avert the likely threats to International Peace and Security by projecting the Universal Cause for combating climate change that in turn protects and promotes U.Ns CONCEPT OF ‘UNIVERSAL PEACE.
a public park
the brown bag prophet
a questioning look
so i asked
if he had
don’t get me wrong
our own history
a summer in spring confused flora and fauna,
a summer suspended early, flowers
buds deep in earth, interred as autumn reds,
gold scarred dead leaves of burnished browns
a harvest of fruit and berries unoffered
glaciered infernos, carbon foot on planet
Earth fossilised, horizons blink in wild rage as sun,
Moon and stars dip into the sea,
neither morning nor night
a midnight within a midnight.
© 2019, Leela Soma
The sad paragraphs in the paper offer
no answers but they fade a little once I’m outside
although there’s rain in the air and the sudden sun
silvering naked twigs as I enter the park
doesn’t last. I’m in the copse where rooks
are flapping in quarrel as usual, when it stops me
in my tracks: moss cushioning a fallen tree.
The green fabric is so vibrant it’s almost luminous.
It awakens grey branches and untidy brambles
emerging from clots of darkness. Hard to believe
this green is natural but no manmade process
could possibly create such soft brilliance.
It’s not water meadow green, not nettle green,
lime green, olive, not glossy laurel,
not intense Lorca green. It’s a green spawned
by the damp bedded in rotting logs and deep
leaf mush, a green that’s been so mothered
by light it banishes lightlessness, a green
more potent than the science which explains it,
a green which fills my mind, feeds my arteries,
a green that urges: never give up.
© 2019, Myra Schneider
Acknowledge to Envoi Magazine
Dotted like a navy formation, moving like a flotilla,
the waves deceive the eyes, spinning like dervish.
Our planet- green and beautiful may vanish.
Offshore, the white blades against the blue sea,
clean energy, harnessing wind, God given and free.
Will no birds soar towards the azure sky?
Under the noctilucent clouds, a lifetime of night
passed; the antemeridian promise, now made light.
Watching the destruction, holding on to a chimera
Inevitable as anaretic hour unfolds the truth of the sutra?
© 2019, Leela Soma
to be like Greta Thunberg
you must become yourself
completely as though there
were no prison of skin to stay inside
no ego to say don’t try
no doors to close
the kind of bravery that moves
lives is not second hand
it is the ultimate it’s like an
we can do it trip
the magic liberation of person
we’ve been dreaming for
the closeness of fish in water
pure semiosis and pre-verbal closeness
© 2019, Linda Chown
To download the full report: ran.org/bankingonclimatechange2019
A report released by the Rainforest Action Network, BankTrack, Indigenous Environmental Network, Oil Change International, Sierra Club, and Honor the Earth, and endorsed by over 160 organizations around the world, reveals that 33 global banks have provided $1.9 trillion to fossil fuel companies since the adoption of the Paris climate accord at the end of 2015. The amount of financing has risen in each of the past two years.
Of this $1.9 trillion total, $600 billion went to 100 companies that are most aggressively expanding fossil fuels. Alarmingly, these findings reveal that the business practices of the world’s major banks continue to be aligned with climate disaster and stand in sharp contrast to the recent IPCC special report on global warming. That report, Global Warming of 1.5 °C, clearly outlined the critical need for a rapid phase-out of fossil fuels and estimates that the world’s clean energy investment needs are $2.4 trillion per year up to 2035.
Banking on Climate Change 2019 is the tenth annual fossil fuel report card and the first ever analysis of funding from the world’s major private banks for the fossil fuel sector as a whole. Expanded in scope, the report adds up lending and underwriting to 1,800 companies across the coal, oil and gas sectors globally over the past three years. The report also tracks fossil fuel expansion by aggregating data on which banks are financing the 100 companies most aggressively expanding fossil fuels.
Banking on Climate Change 2019 reveals that the four biggest global bankers of fossil fuels are all U.S. banks — JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citi, and Bank of America. Barclays of England, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG) of Japan and RBC of Canada are also massive funders in this sector. Notably, JPMorgan Chase is by far the worst banker of fossil fuels and fossil fuel expansion — and therefore the world’s worst banker of climate change. Since the Paris Agreement, JPMorgan Chase has provided $196 billion in finance for fossil fuels, 10% of all fossil fuel finance from the 33 major global banks.
JPMorgan’s volume of finance for fossil fuels 2016-2018 is a shocking 29% higher than the second placed bank, Wells Fargo. The bank stands out even more from its peers in its volume of financing for the top companies expanding fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure: since the Paris climate agreement, JPMorgan Chase’s $67 billion in finance for the expanders is fully 68% higher than that of Citi, in distant second place.
With Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs in 11th and 12th places respectively in the fossil fuel financing league table, all of the big six U.S. banking giants are in the top “dirty dozen” bankers of climate change. Together, U.S. banks account for 37% of all global fossil fuel financing. Collectively, the U.S. banks are the biggest source of funding for fossil fuel expansion since the Paris Agreement was adopted.
Barclays, the top European banker of fracking and coal, leads as the worst European bank, with $85 billion poured into fossil fuels and $24 billion into expansion. Japan’s worst fossil fuel bank, MUFG, funded $80 billion in fossil fuels overall and $25 billion in fossil fuel expansion. RBC, the world’s top banker of tar sands, leads in Canada, banking fossil fuels at $101 billion. The world’s top banker of coal power, Bank of China, qualifies as China’s worst banker of fossil fuels, with $17 billion funneled into expansion from 2016-2018.
The report also grades banks’ future-facing policies regarding specific fossil fuel sectors and fossil fuels overall. In assessing restrictions on financing for fossil fuel expansion, no banks scored above a C-range grade, and most bank grades were in the D range. No banks have made commitments to phase-out fossil fuel financing in alignment with a 1.5°C-aligned Paris-compliant trajectory, despite the fact that numerous banks and bankers — including JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon — have declared their support for the Paris Agreement.
The report also analyzes the banks’ unacceptably poor performance on human rights, particularly Indigenous rights, as it relates to the impacts of specific fossil fuel projects, and climate change in general. The case studies detailed in the report — from the Indigenous-led opposition to each of the three major proposed tar sands oil pipelines in North America, to the fragile Arctic National Wildlife Refuge under threat from drilling, to German utility RWE’s plans to expand an open-pit lignite coal mine while destroying the 12,000-year-old Hambach Forest — all highlight that banks lack effective energy and human rights policies to prevent them from financing these highly problematic projects and the companies behind them.
Alison Kirsch, Climate and Energy Lead Researcher at Rainforest Action Network:
“Alarming is an understatement. This report is a red alert. The massive scale at which global banks continue to pump billions of dollars into fossil fuels is flatly incompatible with a livable future. It’s an insult to logic, to science and to humanity that since the groundbreaking Paris Climate Agreement, financing for fossil fuels continues to rise. If banks don’t rapidly phase out their support for dirty energy, planetary collapse from man-made climate change is not just probable — it is imminent.“
Johan Frijns, Director of BankTrack:
“We’re faced with ever worsening climate change impacts worldwide, and the latest IPCC report provides a stark 2030 deadline for the deep cuts in global CO2 emissions needed to avoid full climate breakdown. Yet banks continue to throw their billions at the fossil fuel industry, while announcing minor policy tweaks here and endorsements of the latest toothless ‘responsible finance’ initiative there. One wonders what on earth it will take for banks to finally change course and fully abandon the fossil fuel sector. Campaigners will be demanding exactly this at this year’s upcoming bank AGMs, armed with this report’s shocking new findings.”
Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of Indigenous Environmental Network:
“These banks are funding a future that will cost the well-being of the next seven generations of life and beyond. Indigenous prophecy now meets scientific prediction. Mother Earth and Father Sky are out of balance. Indigenous knowledge and western science both clearly demand that we must rapidly divest from fossil fuels in order to avoid complete climate disaster. Any financial institution that refuses to take action should be stripped of its social license to operate and be held accountable for its investments.”
Stephen Kretzmann, Executive Director of Oil Change International:
“We’re deep in a hole on climate. There are people making ladders, and they think we can make it to the top – but – there are also people making shovels, and every day they dig the hole deeper. The people with the ladders don’t think they’ll be able to reach the top if the hole gets much deeper. The banks in this report are funding the people with shovels, devoting billions to the expansion of fossil fuel reserves which, when burned, will ensure the failure of the Paris Climate Agreement. Financing the expansion of any part of the oil, gas, or coal industry is now clearly climate denial, and we demand that it stop.”
Ben Cushing, Sierra Club Beyond Dirty Fuels Campaign Representative:
“At a time when science tells us we need to rapidly transition to clean energy, major American banks are placing themselves on the wrong side of history by continuing to offer a blank check to the fossil fuel industry. The global outcry for financial institutions to stop financing climate destruction will only grow louder and more powerful until these banks get the message and pull their support for dirty fossil fuels once and for all.”
Tara Houska, Campaigns Director of Honor The Earth:
“Financial institutions are funding the destruction of our planet. Climate crisis is a reality that will be shared by every living being — we need change, we need it now. It is a question of our shared survival that banks must respond to. We cannot drink money.”
Rainforest Action Network has a 30+ year history challenging corporate power and systemic injustice to preserve forests, protect the climate and uphold human rights through frontline partnerships and strategic campaigns.
The Indigenous Environmental Network works with Indigenous Peoples nationally and globally on a rights-based approach addressing environmental, economic and energy injustices of an extractive economy and developing the power and capacity for a just transition for building sustainable indigenous communities.
BankTrack is the global tracking, campaigning and NGO support organisation targeting the operations and investments of commercial banks.
Oil Change International is a research, communication, and advocacy organization focused on exposing the true costs of fossil fuels and facilitating the ongoing transition to clean energy.
The Sierra Club works to safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and litigation.
Honor The Earth is an indigenous women-led organization focused on protecting Mother Earth through the arts, music, advocacy, supporting grassroots efforts and empowering tribal nations with renewable energy solutions.
The morning starts with a tiresome battle to slit
and peel skin that fits smoothly as a seal’s.
It’s encasing two tubs of vitamin capsules
but my fingers can’t find leverage and anger
blazes as the sleek containers continue to cling
in their see-through wrapping like inseparable lovers.
Nowadays, everything arrives cosied in plastic:
sultanas, tissues, pears, jumpers, knickers,
the mattress that was tricky to manoeuvre upstairs,
those newly-erected six-storey flats I scanned
yesterday as I walked over Regent’s Canal, each
swaddled in the stuff as if it couldn’t cope with rain.
In the night I dreamt I struggled through a wild sea
to an island of unrotted rubbish and weakling palms.
A sound of laboured breathing rose from the debris
and I knew plant roots underneath were striving
to survive. A dead grouper stared from a pram
which had lost all its wheels, someone screamed.
I turned, was just in time to see a woman
on a bed with legs parted and a midwife plucking
from her womb a baby sheathed in plastic sheeting.
© 2019, Myra Schneider
Acknowledge to Acumen magazine
A painted watercolour sky is
pristine clean in the early sun
smudges of fiery gulmohur chase
the sprawling hills into a blur of dust
A vital landscape seemingly unspoiled
Intricately coloured country birds
perched on highly strung power lines
preen and warble warnings as
the disintegrating farmer meddles
with the earth, sealing their lives
Smoggy frames come hurtling
with purple plumed skies
billboards flash urgent signs
that smash into a million excuses
which keep us from listening
to the eloquent eucalyptuses
whispering the same tale
in an instinctive language
we all recognise
we choose to watch the scene fade
like a memory crumbling at the edges
like a last goodbye
© 2019, Urmila Mahajan
Summer predawn looms long,
grey creeps, lightens,
promises a sun slow to come.
Loon cries give way
to the call of song birds,
as the reluctant day dispels the night.
Sunlight on water creates it’s own magic,
awakens attention to the moment,
even as the past drips like dew
from trees whose memories
reach back, before
my grandmother’s birth.
Will their future outlast mine,
or has our presence ended theirs?
© 2019, Melissa Rendlen
I didn’t write for sometime
Didn’t feel the urge to do it
Overwhelmed by the reality flow
The muses fainted
The cracks from the floor swallowed them
Another layer of dust lavishingly spread at my feet
Vacuum, void, nothingness
Mainly, emptied and knocked down by the atrocities of these times
The bad news are followed by more bad news
Fake or true, an instrument of manipulation
The muses got swirled under this tsunami wave called reality
No wish for survival left
In their foggy eyes I saw the doom
With the next wave poetry will leave too
The curtain of smoke from the Amazonian forests will envelope slowly our poetry buds
The lungs will succumb in desperate attempts to form a rhyme or to keep the rhythm in this intricate nightmare
The muses, already dust under our paved ways, can’t save us anymore
They donated us the last amount of oxygen
Their last breath, already
We are left intoxicated with our egoes
We will fall, one by one as the trees of that far away forest did
© 2019, Iulia Gherghei
Reinforcing trust in science, focusing on perseverance may shift views, inspire action, according to studies.
Having productive conversations about climate change isn’t only challenging when dealing with skeptics, it can also be difficult for environmentalists, according to two studies presented at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association.
The first of the studies found that reinforcing belief and trust in science may be a strategy to help shift the views of climate change skeptics and make them more open to the facts being presented by the other side.
“Within the United States, bipartisan progress on climate change has essentially come to a standstill because many conservatives doubt the findings of climate science and many liberals cannot fathom that any rational human can doubt the scientific consensus on the issue,” said Carly D. Robinson, MEd, of Harvard University, who presented the research. “These opposing perspectives do not create a starting point for productive conversations to help our country address climate change. Our goal was to find an intervention that might change the current situation.”
Though previous research has shown that social pressure to disbelieve in climate change stems from the political right and that conservatives’ trust in science has eroded, Robinson and her colleagues theorized that most people would find at least some branches of science credible. Leveraging those beliefs could lead climate skeptics to shift their views, they said.
“When people are faced with two or more opposing beliefs, ideas and values, it tends to create discomfort, which can lead people to becoming more open-minded about a particular issue,” said Christine Vriesema, PhD, of the University of California, Santa Barbara and a co-author of the study.
The researchers surveyed nearly 700 participants from the U.S. Half were given surveys about their belief in science (e.g., “How credible is the medical data that germs are a primary cause of disease?” and “How certain are you that physicists’ theory of gravity accurately explains why objects fall when dropped?”) and their belief in climate science (e.g., “How credible is the climate science data that ocean temperatures are rising?” and “How certain are you that global warming explains many of the new weather patterns we are seeing today?”). The other half was only surveyed about their belief in climate science. All participants reported if they considered themselves politically liberal, moderate or conservative.
“As we predicted in our pre-registration, conservatives reported a greater belief in climate science if they were asked questions first about their belief in other areas of science,” said Robinson. “For climate skeptics, it likely became awkward to report on our survey that they believed in science while at the same time, denying the findings of climate science. That dissonance led many to adjust their beliefs to show greater support for the existence of climate change.”
The findings showed that beliefs in climate science are malleable and not fixed, said Robinson.
“We were pleasantly surprised that a brief, two-minute survey changed skeptics’ views on climate change,” said Robinson. “It is exciting to know that in real-world settings, we might be able to have more productive climate conversations by starting from a place of common belief.”
The second study showed that igniting a sense of resilience and perseverance can increase action and engagement around climate change for people who work in aquariums, national parks and zoos.
“Many educators working at these institutions reported wanting to talk about climate change and visitors reported wanting to hear about it, yet many educators still felt uncomfortable bringing the topic into their conversations because they were worried about being able to communicate effectively,” said Nathaniel Geiger, PhD, of Indiana University who presented the research.
The study included 203 science educators from zoos, aquariums and national parks who were part of a yearlong communication training program from the National Network of Ocean and Climate Change Interpretation designed to build participants’ confidence in talking about climate change. The training consisted of study groups, group assignments, readings, discussions and weekend retreats. During the last six months of the program, participants worked to integrate what they had learned into their jobs.
Survey data were collected one month before and one month after the training program and again six to nine months later.
Geiger and his colleagues examined two components of hopeful thinking to see which one might lead to the success of the training program: agency (e.g., enthusiasm, a sense of determination) and pathways (e.g., resilience and perseverance strategies) and how those influenced participants’ reports of engagement about climate change.
Participants rated their “agency thinking” (e.g., “I energetically do all I can do to discuss climate change” and “I anticipate that efforts to discuss climate change will be pretty successful”) and their “pathways thinking” (e.g., “I can think of many ways to discuss climate change”) in each survey. The science educators also reported the frequency with which they discussed climate change with the general public and visitors to their institutions, ranging from never to daily.
Geiger and his team found that pathways thinking was more successful at inspiring conversations about climate change than agency.
“Our findings suggested that portions of the training that taught how to persevere and be resilient in the face of difficult climate change conversations may have been the most effective at promoting discussion,” Geiger said.
The training program also increased the frequency with which the science educators spoke about climate change with visitors, from less than once per month prior to the training to more than two or three times per month afterward, he said.
“We found it uplifting that the training program showed such a robust effect at promoting these difficult discussions,” said Geiger. “We believe that climate change advocates and educators will find this work helpful toward meeting their goal of crafting more effective training programs to boost climate change engagement.”
Presentations are available from the APA Public Affairs Office.
There’s certainly a warning here by our esteemed colleague, Jamies R. Cowles. It was originally published on our sister site, Beguin Again. / Jamie Dedes
The recent report on the findings of climatic research into the causes and probable evolution of climate change – a more accurate term than “global warming” – prompted me to consider a possible answer to Enrico Fermi’s classic question “Where is everybody?” Multiple generations of science fiction writers have projected a future in which the Milky Way Galaxy fairly teems with life, rather like Times Square on New Year’s Eve or the tavern in the first Star Wars movie – so much so that the late Prof. Stephen Hawking has publicly counseled SETI investigators to – not literally STFU – but certainly to exercise due caution in broadcasting the existence of intelligent life on earth to every corner of the Galaxy. (Not that we have a choice by now: earth’s electromagnetic emissions by now comprise a bubble 200-plus light-years in diameter.) We do not know, says Prof. Hawking, what sharks may inhabit the interstellar waters. (My analogy, not his.) So far, we have been safe. Except for the never-reproduced “Wow Signal”, for which a serious possible explanation has now been proposed, SETI researchers have so far not found any intelligent signal, using any kind electromagnetic energy, that so much as hints at an intelligent origin. The following is pure speculation on my part, albeit – so I would argue – intelligent and informed speculation, as to this eerie silence. Anyway, I submit the following for your consideration …
The evolution of an intelligent species – actually, any species – usually takes multiple millions, even billions, of years. I say “often” and not “always” because the speed with which a species evolves can be measured in days, perhaps even hours, if the evolving organism is simple enough. Consider a flu virus comprising only several dozen base pairs. Add the adjective “intelligent” to the noun “species” and then we really are talking hundreds of millions, most likely billions, of years. It took about 4 billion years for the intelligent species homo sapiens sapiens to make an appearance on Planet Earth.
However … in terms of “boots on the ground” real time, evolution proceeds by fractions of a millimeter, temporally speaking. The proto-hominid is concerned with finding enough wood to keep her / his family warm tonight, and perhaps for a couple nights in the future. S/He is likewise concerned with finding an area with abundant resources for hunting and gathering for perhaps a week or so in the future. Even when settled agricultural communities evolved, the primary emphasis was on this year’s harvest, and perhaps … maybe … next year’s. What is the point of all this? Only that the fraction-of-a-millimeter-at-a-time nature of evolution militates against anything that could reasonably be considered long-term planning. From the standpoint of survival and the propagation of one’s genes into the future, this is a good thing. A hunter-gatherer of, say, 100,000 years ago who paused to consider the long-term ecological effects of rampant deforestation, the poisoning of the atmosphere by wood smoke, the depletion of the oceans, etc., would probably be devoured by animals – or other hunter-gatherers – before s/he had a chance to reproduce, in which case I would not be around to write this “Skeptic’s” column and you would not be around to read it. At least in terms of earth-like intelligent life, it would appear that individual human beings, and human communities, are not “hard-wired” to reflexively consider The Big Picture. From a “boots on the ground” perspective, evolution has simply not equipped us to think in those terms. We can certainly learn to do so. But it does not come naturally. It is like learning to use your left hand if you are right-handed. Furthermore, this difficulty is reflected in our political institutions and our educational systems. Ditto economics. It is no accident that late capitalism does not encourage long-term planning – defined as time-frames measured in generations at least or centuries. As for millennia, i.e., the time-scale when climate change becomes glaringly, life-and-death critical … well … fugg-id-aboud-it!
Granted, I am referring now to terrestrial life, and to cognates thereof, i.e., to life that evolved on temperate, water-abundant earth-like planets, perhaps on a “super-earth”, orbiting a stable, main-sequence sun-like yellow-dwarf or red-dwarf star like our sun within that sun’s habitable zone. If the evolution of intelligent life on such earth-cognates was anything like the evolution of intelligent life on earth, then the environmental challenges we face on earth today would – so I would speculate – have their equivalents on those extraterrestrial worlds. So, from the standpoint of SETI, there is good news, but there also may be – remember, I am speculating here – bad news. The good news is that it is reasonable to conclude that, in the Milky Way Galaxy, there are around 2 billion earth-like planets (“earth cognates” in my terminology), but perhaps as many as 17 billion or even 100 billion. The bad news is that, for the reasons I have outlined above, the challenges posed for the evolution of intelligent life may be as difficult for beings inhabiting those planets as they are for us. (And remember: this is assuming the existence of intelligent life to begin with, i.e., discounting the “rare-earth hypothesis”, which is by no means a crackpot opinion.) Assuming that the laws of chemistry, physics, and celestial mechanics are the same everywhere, it is reasonable to conclude that our own environmental challenges on earth would have their equivalents on those alien worlds. So the key question in assessing the likelihood of the existence of intelligent life elsewhere in our Galaxy is: are there evolutionary regimes that result in brains whose “hard-wiring” is more congenial to long-term – as defined above – planning? I mean planning in time-frames commensurate with large-scale changes in the home planet’s environment.
Forms of socio-political organization also enter the mix. Serious question: to what extent, if any, is an emphasis on individuality, individual rights, individual liberty – basically, the presuppositions of an “Enlightenment-centric” socio-political culture – compatible with long-term planning for the survival of the species when challenged by incipient catastrophies like climate change? Maybe dealing with these challenges requires that intelligent species develop, if they have not done so earlier, forms of social organization similar to, e.g., the “formics” in the Ender’s Game / Speaker for the Dead cycle of novels, or the Borg Collective of Star Trek, or the Caretakers who used – but did not build – the wormhole subway in Carl Sagan’s incomparable science-fiction novel Contact. Or, less benevolently, the Dark Ones of Babylon 5 or the malignant alien collective that launched the planet-devouring self-replicating Von Neumann machines in Greg Bear’s The Forge of God and Anvil of Stars. Without in any way advocating for such a collectivist polity, a lucidly honest historical assessment would certainly indicate that trying to induce human beings to unite for collective action to confront a common danger is pretty much like herding cats … and feral cats, at that … unless the end-in-view is the apocalyptic and uncompromising destruction of some human enemy. Think “Manhattan Project.” That kind of cooperation we are damned good at! Climate change / global warming? Well … maybe not so much.
Back in the ’60s, the astronomer Frank Drake formulated the by-now-classical Drake equation, which attempts to quantify the number of intelligent species in the Milky Way Galaxy by factoring in quantitative estimates of the various coefficients that combine to produce intelligence in various planets’ species. I like to think of the Drake equation as analogous to the design of a digital circuit, with various “gates” — AND gates, OR gates, NAND gates, XOR gates, etc., etc., — that determine whether a given species achieves intelligence and a technological civilization capable of communicating with other intelligent species inhabiting planets and evolving their own civilizations. Many of the factors in the classical Drake equation are obvious, e.g., the rate of planet formation in a star’s habitable zone (however one might define that), the fraction of planets that actually evolve life, the fraction that evolve intelligent life, etc., etc. The historical trend strongly suggests that we have greatly underestimated the number and type of relevant coefficients in the Drake equation. For example, I would suggest that one such overlooked coefficient — one that I have never seen acknowledged in the literature — is the fraction of planets whose axis of rotation is stabilized by the presence of a large moon and the influence of other, probably gas-giant, planets in the same star-system. (An example of where the absence of these factors is critical is Mars. Mars only has two little pebbles for moons, Deimos and Phobos, and so Mars’ axis of rotation has, over the millennia, precessed perhaps 90 degrees, and the climatic variations would virtually preclude the evolution of intelligent life. By contrast, earth has a very large moon and is farther away from Jupiter, with the result that earth’s axis of rotation is stable enough to ensure a stable climate congenial to the evolution of intelligence.) Bottom line: it is reasonable to conclude that the proportion of intelligent species capable of taking the long view, of planning for the future in terms, not of years or even of generations, but at least of centuries would have a critical bearing on whether a given “candidate” species achieved intelligence and survived long enough to develop space travel and a sophisticated communication technology. This is perhaps one missing coefficient in the classical Drake equation: the percentage of species that have evolved intelligence sufficient to engage in long-range planning.
But our response — or lack thereof — to climate change strongly suggests that we may in perhaps a century, maybe less, encounter a break point where our endemic inability to take future centuries, even future millennia, into proper account may render us a footnote in some hypothetical Sagan-esque Galactic survey. We have to overcome the short-sightedness selected into us by the imperatives of evolution. So far, there have been five mass extinction events in earth’s history. We may well be in the middle of the sixth. Granted, some of these were unavoidable, e.g., the end-Permian catastrophe 250 million years ago. Others, if they occurred today, might be preventable, given long-term planning, e.g., the Chicxulub event 65 million years ago. But all would require a capacity for long-range planning for which we humans have thus far shown little aptitude or inclination.
So perhaps now we have the answer to Dr. Fermi’s question of “Where is everyone?”. Perhaps the eerie silence we detect with our radio telescopes is mute testimony to the scarcity of intelligent species that evolved an intelligence, and the accompanying social and political organizations, sufficient to deal with multiple-millennia-long threats to those species’ existence. Maybe the Universe is silent because, thanks to the in-built limitations inherent in evolution, intelligent species’ own short-sightedness caught up with them.
© 2019, James R. Cowles
“Wow” signal … North American Astrophysical Observatory … Public domain
SETI logo … SETI Institute … Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International
Radio telescopes … Bure Peak Observatory … Public domain
Drake equation … Mohammad Alrohmany … Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
Human evolution … Wellcome Images … Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International
Global warming map … Environmemtal Protection Agency … Public domain
Desert and tree … Max Pixel … Public domain
Two planets … Pixabay … Public domain
On my last visit to Juneau, my Alaskan sister Constance, told me a story. It began over fifteen hundred years ago, when a small band of Pacific Islanders, plagued by overpopulation and the depletion of natural resources, set sail across the Pacific in outrigger canoes to seek new islands to call home.
They were the ancestors of the people of Hawaii, Tahiti, Samoa, and other Polynesian islands. Their only guidance was gleaned from the stars, the wind, ocean currents, the swell of the waves, the birds and the fish, the movement of the clouds. This ancient system of navigation, known as ‘wayfinding,’ enabled them to travel thousands of miles across vast stretches of ocean to remote tiny islands.
My sister told me she had volunteered at an event in honor of native Hawai’ian, Nainoa Thompson, who had come to Juneau to tell his story, and to celebrate the strong bond between the First Peoples of Alaska and Hawai’i. It began in 1976, when Nainoa wanted to follow in his ancestors’ wake by sailing from Hawai’i to Tahiti with only traditional navigation as guidance. He had a double-hulled outrigger canoe named Hokule’a, ‘Our Star of Gladness’. At that time, ‘wayfinding’ was in danger of being forever lost. Hawaii’s wayfinders had all died, and only a few elderly wayfinders remained in Micronesia. One of them, Mau Piailug, barely spoke English, and the trip from Hawaii to Tahiti longer than any voyage Mau had ever made. But Mau’s children, like the children of so many Native Americans, had been taken away to boarding schools, robbed of their culture, and any interest in learning the ancient art. He agreed to mentor Nainoa.
Under Mau’s tutelage Nainoa completed the trip, and became a master wayfinder, helping to preserve Hawai’ian culture. But the Hokule’a was built from modern materials, and Nainoa wanted to build a ship of traditional Hawai’ian materials. For almost a year, Nainoa searched throughout the Hawai’ian Islands for two koa trees to use as hulls.
Between the devastation of ranching and logging, he couldn’t find a single koa tree tall or thick enough to serve.
It was noted in Captain George Vancouvers journals in 1793–that some Hawai’ian canoes had hulls of Sitka Spruce. The logs had been carried three thousand miles from Alaska by ocean currents, tossed up on Hawaiian beaches, and were considered gifts from the gods.
Nainoa asked Alaskan tribal elders for two Sitka Spruce trees to build an outrigger canoe. He was told that he could have the trees “so you can build the canoe to carry your culture. But we won’t take their lives until you come see that they are what you need.”
The Sitka Spruce trees were beautiful; 200-feet tall, eight feet in diameter, over 400 years old. But Nainoa realized that he couldn’t take the life of those trees before dealing with the destruction of his native Hawaiian forests.
Nainoa returned to Hawai’i to launch a restoration program. People worked together, old and young–some traveled from Alaska–to plant thousands of koa tree seedlings, creating forests that will one day have tree big enough to make canoes.
Only then did Nainoa feel he could return to Alaska to accept the gift of the Sitka Spruce trees.
Nainoa called the new canoe ‘Hawai’iloa’, after the ancient wayfinder who first discovered the Hawai’ian Islands.
Those first Polynesian voyagers coped with overpopulation and depletion of resources by migrating to other uninhabited islands, but that’s no longer an option on our crowded planet. Nainoa’s expanded mission has become ‘Malama Honua’, which means ‘caring for the Earth.’ Last year the Hokule’a completed a three year tour that circled the planet, building global community, and promoting earth care and sustainability as well as Polynesian culture.
I believe we have strayed, and lost sight of the world we want and need to live in. But, as Nainoa discovered, and now teaches, if one is willing to listen and learn, there are wayfinders who can show us the way home.
All images ©2019 Naomi Baltuck
NAOMI BALTUCK (Writing Between the Lines)~ is Resident Storyteller at The BeZine. She is a world-traveler and an award-winning writer, photographer. Her works of fiction and nonfiction are available through Amazon HERE.
Naomi presents her wonderful photo-stories – always interesting and rich with meaning and humor – at Writing Between the Lines, Life from the Writer’s POV (her personal blog) as well as on The BeZine.
Naomi conducts workshops such as Peace Porridge (multicultural stories to promote cooperation, goodwill, and peaceful coexistence), Whispers in the Graveyard (a spellbinding array of haunting and mysterious stories), Tandem Tales, Traveling Light Around the World, and others. For more on her programs visit Naomi Baltuck.com.
Naomi says, “When not actually writing, I am researching the world with my long-suffering husband and our two kids, or outside editing my garden. My novel, The Keeper of the Crystal Spring (Viking Penguin), can be read in English, German, Spanish, and Italian. My storytelling anthology, Apples From Heaven, garnered four national awards, including the Anne Izard Storytellers’ Choice. I am currently working on a contemporary women’s novel.”
We’re getting ready to hit the publish button on this month’s issue of The BeZine in a few hours. The theme this month is Environment/Environmental Justice. Here, our friend Judith Black helps us to warm up with her TED-X video on StoryTelling and Climate Change organized by the storytelling community.
JUDITH BLACK (Storytelling: A Window on to the World
A Mirror into the Heart) is a professional storyteller, story maker, and teacher/coach with an international following. Originally trained at Wheelock College as an early childhood educator, Judith leapt from the classroom to the stage after training at London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. Ultimately she bound these two passions with storytelling and for thirty-five years has been using story to motivate, humanize, entertain, and teach. She is the winner of many awards in her field.
If you are reading this in an email, you’ll likely need to link through to view the video.
© portrait, Judith Black
Welcome to the 5th year of 100,000 Poets (Musicians, Artists, Mimes…) for Change, and the 2015 edition of The BeZine Online 100TPC Event! If you’ve done this before and you know the score, skip to the comments or Mister Linky at the bottom of the post and begin. If you are wondering, hey, what are you folks up to then check out some serious non-fiction here:
Our mission here today as poets, writers, artists, photographers, musicians and friends is a sort-of fission for change—a burning with and expression of the desire for peace, environmental and economic sustainability, social justice, inclusion, equity and opportunity for all. We seek through our art to do a bit of old-fashioned consciousness raising, to stimulate thought and action leading to the kind of change that is sustainable, compassionate and just, and to engage in the important theme of the issues facing humanity today—but all with a goal to alleviate suffering and foster peace. We don’t want to just “talk about it,” we want words, art and music that help us take action in some way for positive change wherever we are in our lives, in our world.
We see a complex inter-woven relationship between peace, sustainability, and social justice. We all recognize that when people are marginalized and disenfranchised, when they are effectively barred from opportunities for education and viable employment, when they can’t feed themselves or their families or are used as slave labor, there will inevitably be a backlash, and we’re seeing that now in violent conflicts, wars and dislocation. Climatologists have also linked climate change, with its severe weather changes and recent droughts, to the rise violence in the world, and even contributing to inequities in areas – like Syria – where a severe drought destabilized food production and the economy, contributing to the unrest that led to the civil war, according to one study.
There are too many people living on the streets and in refugee camps, too many whose lives are at subsistence level, too many children who die before the age of five (as many as four a minute dying from hunger, according to one reliable study—more info), too many youth walking through life with no education, no jobs and no hope. It can’t end well…
More than anything, our mission is a call to action, a call to work in your own communities where ever you are in the world, and to focus on the pressing local issues that contribute to conflict, injustice, and unsustainable economic and environmental practices. The kind of change we need may well have to be from the ground up, all of us working together to create peaceful, sustainable and just cultures that nurture the best in all the peoples of this world.
Poverty and homelessness are evergreen issues historically, but issues also embedded in social and political complexity. They benefit the rich, whose economic system keeps most of the rest of us as, at best, “wage slaves,” and all too many of us in poverty, without enough to provide for basic needs or housing (including the “working poor,” who hold low-paying jobs while CEOs are paid record-breaking salaries and bonuses in the global capitalist system). We are united in our cries against the structures of injustice, where the rich act as demigods and demagogues. We have to ask of what use will all their riches be in the face of this inconceivable suffering and the inevitable backlash from the marginalized and disenfranchised. We need fairness, not greed.
So, with this mission in mind, and with the complexity of the interrelationships of social justice, sustainability and peace as a framework, we focus on hunger and poverty, two basic issues and major threads in the system of inequality and injustice that need addressing throughout the world.
We look forward to what you have to share, whether the form is poetry, essay, fiction, art, photography, documentary, music, or hybrids of any of these—and we want to engage in an ongoing conversation through your comments on all of the above as you not only share your own work here today but visit and enjoy the work of others, supporting one another with your “likes” and comments, starting or entering into dialogues with writers, artists and musicians throughout the world and online viewers, readers, listeners.
Think globally, act locally, form community.
—Michael Dickel, Jerusalem (with G. Jamie Dedes, California, USA)
DIRECTIONS FOR PARTICIPATION
Share links to your relevant work or that of others in a comment or by using Mister Linky below. To use Mr. Linky, just click on the graphic. (Note: If you are sharing someone else’s work, please use your name in Mister Linky, so we can credit you as the contributor—we will give the author / artist name in the comments, from the link when we post the link in a comment.)
You may leave your links or works in the comment section below this post. If you are sharing the work of another poet or artist, however, please only use a link and not the work itself.
In addition to sharing, we encourage you to visit others and make connections and conversation. To visit the links, click on Mr. Linky (the Mister Linky graphic above) and then on the links you see there. (Some Mr. Linky-links can be viewed in the comments section after we re-post them.)
All links will be collected into a dedicated Page here at The BeZine and also archived at 100TPC.
Thank you for your participation. Let the conversation begin …
Posted this evening in solidarity with The People’s Climate Mobilization, Sept. 20/21 a Global Day of Action
This week folks around the world will gather to call for real and pervasive action to address climate change. This post honors all who hold the vision of a just, kind, and healed world.
The weather has turned damp and chilly, with the temperature only in the mid-fifties. A couple of days ago the first Titmouse of the season landed on the garden fence and looked into our window with that classic “Why is the feeder empty?” look. Fall has certainly arrived!
A few nights ago I dreamt about prophesy. In my dreams I longed to heal the world, to stop our country’s headlong dash towards Darkness. Then, near the time I awoke, my vision turned inward and I saw my own inner suffering and turmoil. In the dream I was shown that I have limited influence on the larger world, but I might have great influence in my inner domain.
The Dream world spoke of prophesy, the ancient teachings that speak of the fall of the colonial world. The power of those who favor wealth over kindness, self over community, is rising, a great Darkness that threatens to engulf the world. With their ascent, we witness sharp increases in poverty, racism, and misogyny, and a growing disdain for the young, old, and those with disabilities. Many of the young people I meet speak of a profound sense of desperation and a deep fear for the their future.
These things arise because we have failed to address the wrongs of the past and the challenges of the present. As a result, the violence of our country’s past haunts our collective consciousness and shapes our social world. The European project in the Americas and the South Pacific was one of slavery and genocide as avenues to wealth, and the oppression of the many for the economic gain of a few continues to be the centerpiece of our social order.
I grew up in evangelical churches, places where prophesy was alive. These were not wealthy mega-congregations. Rather they were the refuges of working class men and women, often new immigrants from farm to city. Their faith was immediate, as was their walk with the Creator as they understood Her/Him. In those small churches prophesy was lived experience.
Native American history, the great expanse of it, cutting across many hundreds of tribes and languages, and thousands of years, speaks to the power and truth of prophesy. The great seers were given visions of that which was to come, from the everyday to the earth shattering. Visions still come to The People. Often these visions are shared by our Medicine people and elders, although all to frequently the larger culture refuses to listen.
Still, the Creator speaks to all who will hear, encouraging us to be kind to ourselves and one another, to strengthen our communities, and work with Pachamama to heal our world. This healing is as much about the suffering in or hearts and spirits as that of the natural and social worlds. The tugging or breaking of our hearts in the presence of pain, ours and that of others, is the voice of the Creator, and the call of prophesy.
Prophetic vision may be vast or intimate, and addresses the condition of our internal or external worlds; in the end, perhaps there is no difference. Our realms of individual influence may be small, yet we can do our best to care for those whose lives we touch, including ourselves. We may keep in mind the awareness that vision that lacks compassion leads to tyranny while true kindness heals self and other, and we can allow that knowledge to guide our actions. Is that not the purpose of prophesy, to change and guide? May we each grow more kind, and more skillful at listening to the prophetic voice within us.
Post Script: This morning I attended service at our local UU church, in part because Jennie was singing in the choir, and because the congregation was gathering to bless the 100 or so members who are going to the Climate March in NYC next weekend. (The congregation is only 500 strong!) The minister reminded us that prophesy is action in the face of great odds, and that action takes courage and a soft heart. She then reflected on the place of joy in Dark times, on the necessity of a glad heart. It was good to gather with others who care deeply for the world, and who put that caring into action.
May those who travel to NYC for The March, and all who do their best to heal the deep wounds of our world, find joy, companionship, and renewed hope.
– Michael Watson
© 2014, essay and photographs, Michael Watson, All rights reserved
MICHAEL WATSON, M.A., Ph.D., LCMHC (Dreaming the World) ~ is a contributing editor to Into the Bardo, an essayist and a practitioner of the Shamanic arts, psychotherapist, educator and artist of Native American and European descent. He lives and works in Burlington, Vermont, where he teaches in undergraduate and graduate programs at Burlington College,. He was once Dean of Students there. Recently Michael has been teaching in India and Hong Kong. His experiences are documented on his blog. In childhood he had polio, an event that taught him much about challenge, struggle, isolation, and healing.
STATUS ON MERGING Beguine Again and our collective, The Bardo Group, continue with sharing of ideas and some modifications to site links already in progress. At this point the intention is to continue with daily posts. The official transition date is October 1st. On Saturday, October 4, Terri Stewart will post a more complete status report. Jamie Dedes will remain as a part of the core team and as poetry liaison.
We move forward with 100,000 Poets, Musicians and Artists for Change. However, we have streamlined the plan given the weight of work that is now upon us. We won’t be able to publish a book this year – a dream for next year maybe – but we’ll still have daily post/s and in the spirit of the occasion, we invite readers to link in their own relevent work to the posts via Mister Linky or in the comments sections starting September 27 and through October 3 inclusive. Shortly after the event close, we’ll collect links into a Page like the one we did for Poets Against War, 2013 Collection HERE.
The Bardo Group chosen area of concern for this year’s event is Peace and Justice.
The founders of 100,000 Poets, Musicians and Artists for Change are enthusiastically rolling forward. Founders Michael Rothenberg, poet and editor of Big Bridge Press and zine, and Terri Carrion, poet, writer and associate editor and visual designer of Big Bridge Press and zine, have pages set up for all participating organizations. THE BARDO GROUP event page is HERE. We take this opportunity to thank Michael and Terri for their vision and their work.
Michael and Terri have written:
“The first order of change is for poets, writers, musicians, artists, activists to get together to create and perform, educate and demonstrate, simultaneously, with other communities around the world. This will change how we see our local community and the global community. We have all become incredibly alienated in recent years. We hardly know our neighbors down the street let alone our creative allies who live and share our concerns in other countries. We need to feel this kind of global solidarity. It will be empowering.” MORE
to blogger/poet Polly Robinson (Polly, Writings and Witterings) for her recent publication in limited first edition of her chapbook, Chatterton, by Black Pear Press, Worcestershire UK
to Myra Scheider (Myra Schneider’s Poetry Website) on her eleventh poetry collection, The Door to Colour, Enitharmon Press, UK. Her book will launch on Tuesday, 23 September, at 6:30 p.m. at 10 Bury Place London WC1A 2JL 020 7430 0844. Preorder HERE.
PEOPLE’S CLIMATE MARCH (HERE) The largest global demonstration for climate action in history is scheduled for September 21. In solidarity, Beguine Again will post spiritual practice relevant to the issues.
More than 100 organizations are taking part in an online recruitment drive to sign people up for the demonstration. In the first hours of the push, thousands of new sign-ups have already begun to flow in.
The People’s Climate March is expected to be the largest demonstration for climate action in history. The march takes place just two days before world leaders gather for an emergency Climate Summit at the United Nations. Marchers are demanding leaders go beyond rhetoric and commit to bold action at the summit.
More than 750 organizations around the world are supporting the People’s Climate March, from the largest transit workers union in New York City to a coalition of buddhist monks.
In total, the groups represent roughly 100 million people worldwide.
The scale of organizing for the march now rivals that of a major electoral campaign, with thousands of volunteers, daily phone-banks and canvasses in NYC, and a major online operation to turn out marchers. Updates from the field include:
Trains and hundreds of buses will be bringing people from across the country for the march. Including a dedicated train from San Francisco to New York, a dedicated train from D.C. to New York, and buses from multiple points outside of New York.
More than 45 labor unions have signed onto the march, pledging to turn out members in New York City and from surrounding areas.
Connecticut alone has over 40 different groups confirmed to attend.
Renowned artist Shepard Fairey, whose Obama Hope poster has become world famous, has donated a poster design for the march.
At a warehouse in Brooklyn, artists are creating giant sculptures, floats, and banners for the march.
The global campaigning group Avaaz has secured 10% of the subway ads in NYC for the month before the march. The ads were chosen after a poster design contest that netted over 400 entries worldwide. Groups are planning a major student recruitment push for college campuses as classes resume in September.
In New Delhi, thousands will take over the streets on September 20 to demand a renewable energy revolution.
In Australia, organizers are expecting hundreds of individual events to take place across the country, including a major march in Melbourne.
In London environment organisations and faith groups are combining forces to create a historic march through the city to the steps of Parliament.
In Berlin three parallel marches will combine forces in a colourful festival.
Events are already being planned in Ghana, Kenya, DRC, Nigeria, and Guinea, along with a major march in Johannesburg.
In Paris, local groups will create the “Paris Marche pour le Climat,” with parades, marches, and bicycle rides planned across the bridges of the Seinne.
Reports are also coming in of large mobilizations planned in: Kathmandu, Rio, Sao Paulo, Jakarta, Dublin, Manila, Seoul, Mumbai and Istanbul.
Organizers are confident that the sheer scale and diversity of the People’s Climate March events, from the headline demonstration in New York City to the simultaneous events worldwide, will show politicians that there is a massive, energized movement demanding immediate action to address the climate crisis.
In New York City, the message will be difficult to ignore: marchers have come to an agreement with the NYPD for the march to flow directly through the middle of Manhattan. The march will begin at Columbus Circle at 11:30am on Sunday, proceed over on 59th Street to 6th Avenue, down 6th Avenue to 42nd Street, then right on 42nd Street to 11th Avenue. The route passes by some of New York City’s most famous landmarks, from Rockefeller Center to Times Square.
The march and the Climate Summit in New York mark the beginning of a busy 18 months of crucial international negotiations. Climate negotiators will head to Lima, Peru, in December 2014 to make progress towards a global climate deal. Then, in September 2015 world leaders will meet back in New York to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals, the global post-2015 development agenda. Three months later, the world will gather in Paris to try and sign a new international climate treaty.
BLOGGERS AND WEBSITE OWNERS don’t forget that September 10 is Internet Slowdown. This is all about NetNutrality. Our site host, WordPress, is participating.
In the spirit of peace, love and community,
The Bardo Group
dry grass burns
like a funeral pyre
in the river bed
as if in prayer
bowing a parched head
it flows not
nor holds any life
older brother said
will shed no more tears
filling river beds
man hears not
wealth’s his only thought
a thirst for silver
CHARLES W. MARTIN (Reading Between the Minds) — earned his Ph.D. in Speech and Language Pathology with an emphasis in statistics. Throughout Charlie’s career, he maintained a devotion to the arts (literature/poetry, the theater, music and photography). Since his retirement in 2010, he has turned his full attention to poetry and photography. He publishes a poem and a photographic art piece each day at Read Between the Minds, Poetry, Photograph and Random Thoughts of Life. He is noted as a poet of social conscience. Charlie has been blogging since January 31, 2010. He has self-published a book of poetry entitled The Hawk Chronicles and will soon publish another book called A Bea in Your Bonnet: First Sting, featuring the renown Aunt Bea. In The Hawk Chronicles, Charlie provides a personification of his resident hawk with poems and photos taken over a two-year period. Charlie’s lastest book, When Spirits Touch, Dual Poetry, a collaboration with River Urke, is available through Amazon now.
Charlie’s long awaited Aunt Bea Collection is out. He says, “Bea In Your Bonnet: First Sting is a collection of germinal poems featuring Aunt Bea. Aunt Bea’s voice is one I’ve heard almost every day of my life. Family observations, lessons, and advice given to me and every other family member who had the good sense to listen. Her homespun philosophy most likely will not be found in any collegiate textbooks or for that matter in any local town crier newspaper catering to city dwellers. Indeed, she has a different way of viewing the world; a bit old fashion, sassy, and steely at times but a viewpoint which has engaged my imagination and heart. I sincerely hope you too will find some morsel of wisdom in her personal observations and interpretations of life’s events, but do watch out for her stingers.”