Silenced by Money

This is a graph from the NOAA Cimate Change website.  See the Climate Indicators, an actively ticking measure of many indicators such as total ice shrinkage, sea level rise, etc which you can monitor.

Despite the massive investments of the disinformation conservative movement, a thinking individual – no matter what party, religious orientation or persuasion – cannot easily turn a blind eye to what we are witnessing in nature today.  The basic idea is that we are weakening the inherent feedback loops that have kept the biosphere in dynamic balance for at least as long as living creatures have existed on the planet.

What we are witnessing is selective intelligence by a movement of corporations and their investors who deny climate change to be able to continue exploiting the earth’s natural resources unhampered by any state or self-imposed limitations.  It is recognized that the Homo sapien has become the dominant species on earth so much so that scientists now label our era as the Anthropocene era.

The conservative think tanks and their investors have created doubt  in Americans about the truth of climate change and there is now a chilling silence about it in Congress and in the Presidential debates.  In fact if Romney and Ryan are voted into office, we will see unbridled fracking of land, including public lands, to suck out the remaining natural gas deposits to achieve energy independence.  Everyone is talking about safe processes for fracking which is laughable.  There are also a lot of “safe” processes that led to massive destruction of mountaintops in the Appalachian mountains. Fracking, which releases large amounts of methane – a heat trapping gas many times more powerful than the carbon dioxide molecule – will increase the heating in the atmosphere.

We don’t care. That is the bottom line. The march of capitalism, Big Stick diplomacy, exploitation for profit, and the brainless call for jobs, jobs, jobs at any cost has undermined reason, ethical responsibility, and stewardship of American land, water, air, and food security…at least in the Republican camp and to great extent in the Democratic ranks as well who are silenced for fear of losing votes.  All the cries for individualism at all costs and the hatred of government are radically applied as if they were one-or-the-other choices.  What ever happened to reason, to discussion and civil debate?  That question cannot be heard in the temple.

With the January 2010 Supreme Court decision Citizens United versus Federal Election Commission  corporations, and other organized political groups are able to make unlimited donations to a political campaign as long as they make no direct donations to the candidates.  Thus the tsumani of advertisements for candidates that now blanket the airways and television and the internet.  The court decided that these contributions do not lead to corruption. People can now contribute to silencing concerns about the environment and no one knows their agenda. Debate is not just tamped but eliminated conveniently.  Corruption may be developing a new definition: parading as one thing when you are entirely another.  I think we used to call it false representation.

All the previous campaign finance law, which attempted to make the playing field level and prevented special interest influences,  granting citizens some space in which to seek their own information on candidates and make their own minds up – was wiped out with the Supreme Court decision.  Now our citzenry is force-fed what to think and do. If you decide to not listen, you must literally turn off the radio, TV, and not read print news, and stay off your computer.

Corporations now vote.  Welcome to the New America brought to you by the Modern Day Tea Party, deluded into thinking they have any semblance at all to the Boston Tea Party that grew in response to British domination of American economic success.  The Tea Party, like the climate deniers, have created doubt and distrust in the government that we have all elected and that we are responsible to monitor.  It is not something that others own, it is ours and we have added government where our citizenry have not always exerted justice and generosity. When our character fails as individuals and thus our businesses or public services fail, we look to government for justice measures.  These have grown in direct relationship to the level or corruption in our society.  The corruption is the collective actions or non-actions of citizens who are not living up the the American creed.

We are now on a stampede toward a cliff and fall into ecological catastrophe.  Each of us must remember that we each have equal power to change this direction but, we must get rid of the corporotocracy that America has become.

What’s the best way to get started?  Arm yourself with a couple of questions and keep them foremost in your mind:  1) Who is speaking? 2) What do I think about that?

As a teacher once instructed me:  STOP     WAIT     CONSIDER!

That is the starting point. Vote your conscience next. Then dig in and ride your representatives to live up to their responsibilities to us. Pick one area of focus and become an absolute expert and guide others in your circle of influence. After that you’ll know what else you can do.

Money cannot define America and Americans.  Right now it does. It has to change if we are to last.

On the tranquil Gulf

I spent a glorious hour on the pier at Pensacola Beach high above the waves where you can see the curvature of the Earth on the horizon. The water was crystal clear to the white bottom.  Some people floated, suspended in air it seemed, others walked far out from shore in tourmaline to emerald hues. The whole of it had no time. Slender needlefish meandered in small schools pushing a long nose to the surface while occasional dark clouds of spawning babies twirled by under the pier and beyond – the food of the sea.

The fishermen were in dreams, the lovers strolled in silence, and the gulls and terns fell in wide turns on the invisible ocean of air, a tern diving headlong into the green sparkling jewel…

Even the hotels and noise from beachfront bars became artful additions into a masterpiece of such beauty and tranquility all present are lifted into what must be Heaven.

I come home. Was I there really? My camera is here. I download the photos. A tiny sliver of what was there is recorded for the eyes but the heart and soul remains out there, out there!

Ceremony

Nature’s beauty cannot be dissected nor understood through mere thought or system.  What fills your eye and then your heart is understood whole.  It’s more like a symphony—there is magic in the melding.

Each morning before I write, I light a candle or two in celebration of the new day.  If I have a bundle of white or purple sage, I burn a leaf or two and let the fragrance of its spirit cleanse my soul and body, and I offer a prayer to the Giver of Life.  When I lived in the West, I always had this mystical plant at hand.  I miss it in the Southeast where I now reside, and have not found a substitute—perhaps pine needles from the great long-leafed pines of this low, coastal landscape.

A writer-friend of mine, Byrd Baylor, wrote The Way to Start a Day which describes the ways that peoples around the globe greet the dawn of a new day. Here’s an excerpt.

The way to start a day is this —

Go outside and face the east and greet the sun with some kind of blessing or chant or song that you made yourself and keep for early morning.

The way to make the song is this —

Don’t try to think what words to use until you’re standing there alone.

When you feel the sun you’ll feel the song, too.

Just sing it.

But don’t think you’re the only one who ever worked that magic.

Your caveman brothers knew what to do.

Your cavewoman sisters knew, too.

They sang to help the sun come up and lifted their hands to its power.

A morning needs to be sung to.

How do you greet the day? No need to do it any particular way, in fact, you may even be unaware of how you are paying attention and feeling gratitude for this one good day.  Sometimes we are so wrapped in our individual challenges and tragic circumstances we forget to breathe, to look up and see the beauty all around us.  Create a tiny sacred space to recognize the gift of life and the wonder of nature and you.

Seven Gems

These are books and authors that I  have read and reread that I am posting today for you and especially your thoughts if you too have read them.  These books are dear to me for their wisdom—powerful narratives that explore indigenous and European values through the experiences of characters. Some, like Loon Feather, are of the rarest beauty.

This original meeting of Two Minds began 500 years ago on the North American continent and play-out today as we make decisions regarding wilderness, use of public lands, climate change, and our basic human relationship with each other.

The Seven Gems

Loon Feather by Iola Fuller (1940)

The Man Who Killed the Deer by Frank Waters (1942)

I Heard the Owl Call My Name by Margaret Craven (1973)

The Work of Wolves by Kent Meyers (2004)

The Painted Drum by Louise Erdrich (2006)

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (2007)

Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks (2011)

Every once in a while a book comes along that resets the compass of writing. Lorne Rothman’s tale, Southcrop Forest, sets a new standard for ecological literature.

An exciting tale about Auja, a young red oak, and Fur– a collective conscience from a colony of tent caterpillars–Rothman has created an eco-fable as magical as a Tolkien adventure even as he teaches forest ecology. We learn about the imperiled state of the forests at the hands of “hewmans.”

Auja lives in Southcrop Forest where trees retain the ability to communicate across the land through their roots, soil, and leaves–Southcrop Vision. Forests were once connected across the world and could communicate by feeling each others sensations. That was before the hewmans cut down the trees, separating forests by false rock (roads or highways) and their rapacious machines chewed down ancient trees and killed the farms that had kept them alive for eons.

As the story opens, we learn that Southcrop Forest is on the verge of destruction. Auja awakes full of hope and joy, glorying in the sunlight, when the remembrance of their doomed future makes her boughs droop. She is watching a group of fuzzy caterpillars nibbling away in her canopy when suddenly a voice speaks to her! At first Auja thinks it is her fellow trees who whisper continuously but then she realizes the voice is coming from the colony of tent caterpillars. Fur introduces herself to Auja and explains that her colony is a Rune–an ancient being that arose at a Gathering of trees and people a thousand years before.

Guide Oak, a wise being, guides Auja to engage Fur to travel to the Dark Forest (Boreal Forest) to obtain a special gift and take it to Deep Sky where it will save the forests to the north of Southcrop. And thus, the epic journey begins.

Along the way readers learn about the life cycle of the tent caterpillars, their viral and insect predators; the ancient geological history of the land and how trees repopulated the earth after the Big Ice (ice age.)

The mysterious “gift” is the Holy Grail Fur toils to find. He must cross the false trails, battle rogue wasps and a viral plague that infects the forests he travels through.

Rothman, a zoologist, provides young readers with endnotes rich with scientific nomenclature; Old Norse lore; Native American history; chemistry and climate change science which can be easily used in a classroom or enrich the understanding of young and adult readers alike.

This book offers the reader a blend of the magical with the hard realities of the human ecological footprint on the natural world. Through nonhuman characters we see the folly of the “hewman” (a brilliant play on words) from wisdom that understands the web of life as the source of life itself.

The last sentence in the story makes me believe Rothman plans a sequel. I hope so. Southcrop Forest should be required reading for all youth–a textbook and a legend for a new generation and an ecological age.