While Chris Hedges is considered far too radical by many, he has keen insights into the whys and wherefores of our present predicament. By sharing this interview on my blog, I am not endorsing XR America. Apparently Extinction Rebellion has had a bit of a schism in the USA due to either immature, megalomaniacal leadership and/or state subterfuge. Regardless, the interview with Chris stands on its own merit. Highly recommended!
Corrupted Civilization – Part 1
The CORVID-19 pandemic and our response to it has exposed systemic flaws in our civilization in a crescendo manner. The protagonist in this moment is the federal government, which was by benevolent design intended to have command and control of the resources necessary to mobilize a response at the scope and scale necessary to deal with a national emergency. In my emergency management career, I have worked for government at all levels, including FEMA. For the most part I’m an unabashed believer in government, at times like this especially. I shake my head when I see how government has been stripped of its power (and effectiveness) and replaced with laissez-faire economic liberalism and free market capitalism. Starting with Reagan, the solution to waste and inefficiency in government (not to mention increased taxes and regulations) was to reduce the size of government and shift its traditional duties and responsibilities to the private sector. A neutered government rendered incapable of mounting the necessary response in a timely manner. The end result? The circulation of do-it-yourself recipes for constructing face masks. Shame on us.
It wasn’t always like this. During the mobilization for WWII, the Richmond shipyards on the west coast built a ship a day. That’s right, a ship a day. That was before neoliberalism. Look at us now. When President Trump was pressed to enact the Defense Production Act to manufacture masks and ventilators that are in short supply and critical to mitigate the pandemic and save lives, he basically said the private sector will handle it, refusing to enact the statute. Excuse me? Do you mean to say that the private sector where parties are competing with one another relentlessly pursuing profitability are going to cooperate and scale up in a timely manner? The slogan now being heard in widening circles is ‘people before profits’. Hence the tyranny of private sector corporations that have no accountability to the people. None whatsoever. Of course, as everybody knows people can vote with their dollar and take it elsewhere. Meanwhile, how many people will become infected and die during this pandemic? Government anyone?
The rich and powerful who have by omission or commission neutered government are to blame for the present situation we find ourselves in. Their emissary in the White House is their wet dream come true, a person mentally deranged, a loose cannon if you will, but brazen enough to do the unthinkable. Like refusing to utilize the Defense Production Act. The elite who can afford treatment at any cost simply do not care. In this moment I witness neoliberalism as being vicious, cruel and uncaring. Democratic socialism anyone?
Farmers Build Fire Resilience
Having a background in both agriculture and disasters led me to develop course materials for an on-line course for farmers and ranchers on how to prepare for, mitigate against, respond to, and recover from, projected increased incidents of wildfire. While the course was inspired by the record-setting conflagrations in northern California of 2017-2018 which impacted small farmers and ranchers, attendees are from a number of states and Canada.
“Coronavirus Capitalism”: Naomi Klein’s Case for Transformative Change Amid Coronavirus Pandemic
The Promise of Biomimicry
Becoming a Spokesperson on Deep Adaptation
Christian Stalberg, human habitat relocalization and biomimicry evangelist in the Sierra Nevada of California, USA. Professional backgrounds in: energy efficient buildings; disaster readiness; villagification; farming; appropriate technology; telecomputing; construction; cooperatives; intentional communities and ecovillages. “Because of climate chaos, we are all vulnerable to lifeline (e.g. food, water, energy) failures, and should be prepared.”
– from Source a Spokesperson on Deep Adaptation by Jem Bendell
I have a special relationship with Bolivia having been there five times over the years, courtesy of the Partners of the Americas and Fulbright programs. The situation in Bolivia today is a complicated one and it has been instructive for me to witness the mis- and disinformation generated from recent events there in recent weeks following the national election. In today’s saturating infosphere, separating fact from fiction, and truths from untruths, is no small job. This is especially difficult given the manipulative and coercive power of weaponized information, combined with the increasing absence of critical thinking in our culture. One must remain vigilant and open minded, always seeking truth and facts so as to not find oneself inadvertently having adopted hard-line positions on either the Left or the Right. Typically, upon closer examination, you will find elements of the truth to be found on both sides and the truth, my dear, will set you free (from deception and ignorance).
Given the capitalist’s and imperialist’s dominance of mass media in the world today, I feel it is important to lift up powerful voices that are being silenced and ignored (and in this case, also demonized) by the powers that be. It is in this spirit that I want to share this recent interview with the (now deposed) president of Bolivia Evo Morales. Listen closely with an open mind, you might learn something.
Book Review: The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben
Are trees sentient beings? Author Peter Wohlleben believes so. He ascribes feelings such as pain and empathy, as well as sensations to trees, including hearing, seeing, smelling, touching and tasting. He goes even further however and says that they also communicate, nurture their young, and will even feed other trees that are running short on nutrients, i.e. showing care. Does Mr. Wohlleben sound crazy? Actually, not so much, according to the latest scientific findings about trees. There’s no question of him being an authority on the subject. As a forester with responsibility for managing a forest in the Eiffel mountains in Germany, he speaks from over twenty years of knowledge and experience. Wohlleben combines his intimate experience with the forest and the trees in it which he is personally responsible for, with the latest scientific knowledge. The end result is something between a fantasy novel and a briefing on the latest scientific findings about trees.
It has been discovered that sick pine trees whose cambium had died due to an aggressive fungus were being nurtured by neighboring healthy trees via their roots. The cambium pumps sugar solutions from the tree’s needles down to its roots. Prior to this discovery, the widespread belief was that without a cambium, a tree simply could not survive. Well it turns out that it can, because of the care the sick tree receives from its neighbors.
Mr. Wohlleben cites trees have the ability to see. As it turns out, trees shed and grow leaves not only according to temperature. Beeches, for example, are known to not leaf out until it is light for at least thirteen hours a day. How do they know this? Buds containing folded baby leaves on a tree branch are covered by a scale. Well, the scale is actually transparent such that the light can penetrate. So the tree ‘sees’ the light (and counts the hours?) and knows when it is time to begin growing.
The book goes on to give further instruction on the sentience of trees. When trees are really thirsty, they scream. Humans cannot hear them because the sound is in the ultrasonic range. They are also capable of learning. Mimosa leaves closed up at first when drops of water fell on them. But after a while, they stopped doing that, because they learned there was no danger.
While the book was been on the best seller list for the longest time, as you might expect, it has become a source of ire for certain critics. Ascribing human-like behaviors to trees is classic anthropomorphism, and this is a sin according to the scientific method. After all, we all know that the non-human world runs on stimulus-response. There are no cognitive intelligences among the other than human world. Or are there? We are learning that there are multiple intelligences in people. Why can’t we grant the same possibility to the other than human world? One thing for sure, I found the book to be almost revelatory, supporting my existential framework that holds nature as miraculous.
Still Spying on Dissent
“If you are reading this, you already know that the FBI has engaged in a pattern of political spying over the course of its 100 year history. And you know that the groups the FBI spies on tend to be civil rights, environmental, and peace activists. You know they treat the Muslim community as inherently suspect, without any factual basis. But most people, and certainly most lawmakers, just aren’t paying attention. So our report meticulously documents the problem, particularly over the past 10 years, and makes the case for serious reforms.”
from the publisher Defending Rights & Dissent
The FBI Has a Long History of Treating Political Dissent as Terrorism – review of report at The Intercept