Wednesday, November 21, 2007

First post in a while.

It has been a while since I have updated my blog. The last week has been very busy and its not like anything important came out in the news or happened in the world. Hopefully over the weekend, since its Thanksgivings weekend and I should finally have some free time I can catch up on some of the news floating around.

For tonight, I want to write about the new IPCC report that came out a few days ago. I have not had time to read it all, being that its well over 1,000 pages, and I probably never will. What I have found out is…that all our previous contentions about the cataclysmic effects of global climate changer were actually wrong and its actually much, much, worse then we thought.

According to leading scientists global climate change is occurring three times quicker than they had originally speculated. This is directly the result of human CO2 emission increasing three fold from the 1990 figures. The big difference between the 1990s and today is the rise of China and other mal-developing nations and their increasing dependence on the black crude heroin.

What this means is that we, as a species, need to find a way to drastically, and I do mean drastically, reduce our C02 emission stat. The vast majority of American’s will probably place the blame on China and other developing nations, neglecting the fact that the United States has been the leading source of CO2 emissions for around a hundred years and because of this has a responsibility to act. Others will probably look to new shiny technologies to fix the problem. Sort of like Popular Sciences number 1 green technology of the last year, nanosolar. Of course, nanosolar seems like a vast improvement over coal, natural gas, and nuclear power, and it is. But, this is not a long-term solution to any problem. Fixing nanosolar to every building will lower the amount of coal and oil that needs to be burned for electricity but it does nothing to stop our dependence on the automobile (think how far the average tomato travels, that traveling has to create CO2). I am sure that it also has many negative consequences that we are not yet aware of. For one, I am sure that their nano-particle ink has some sever environmental problems in either its extraction phase (it has to come from somewhere, at least until we invent magic) or in the recycling phase (it has to go somewhere as well).

So, for now nanosolar and other technologies might help the situation but they are band-aid solutions that do not address the root source of the problem. That root source is our belief in never ending economic growth and the centralization of government agencies. These are the real things we need to confront. We need to, first off, reject capitalism and move towards a locally produced, sustainable existence, which will necessarily require a radical reduction and/or abolition of government, as we know it. On top of this, we will see the end of major cities (cities are at their very heart unsustainable places to live) and a mass migration from the cities back towards the local village. By rejecting the gospel of growth and radically decentralizing, or abolishing, governmental institutions we can localize our life. This is the only long-term way to even come close to addressing global climate change.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I do not even know what to say...

It appears that The Onion has taken over the job as Paris Hilton's publicist. According to an associate press report, she has decided to fight elephant alcoholism in India. That is right, Paris Hilton is fighting to stop elephants from binge drinking. It appears that Elephants are getting drunk of off a home-brewed rice beer and destroying electrical poles and other property.

Because I just cannot explain this any better I will let Paris speak about her newfound cause:

"The elephants get drunk all the time. It is becoming really dangerous. We need to stop making alcohol available to them... There would have been more casualties if the villagers hadn't chased them away. And four elephants died in a similar way three years ago. It is just so sad."

Not surprisingly drunken or destructive elephants are controversial issue in many areas of rural India. To some the animals are sacred and should be protect while others see their increasingly destructive behavior as a cause for concern. A local activist Sangeeta Goswami, head of animal rights group People for Animals, discussed Paris's comments and stated: "I am indeed happy Hilton has taken note of recent incidents of wild elephants in northeast India going berserk after drinking homemade rice beer and getting killed....As part of her global elephant campaign, Hilton should, in fact, think of visiting this region literally infested with elephants."

At least one person in the article understood why the animals are getting drunk. Soumyadeep Dutta, who heads Nature's Beckon, said that "Elephants appear on human settlements ... because they have no habitat left due to wanton destruction of forests."

Overall, this story made me think of an article in the book Igniting a Revolution: Voices in Defense of the Earth (published by AK Press) that argues that elephants that destroy powerlines, monkeys that ravage government buildings, ect... are an expression of non-human direct action against environmentally destructive development. Because of this, we should treat them as political prisoners or martyrs in the eco-war.

Monday, November 12, 2007

News of the Week Part 1: Who is at fault for the recent Oil Spill?

A recent oil spill off the coast of California (note: there was also an oil spill in the Black Sea Sunday that is probably more damaging then this one in California), according to government authorities, appears to be the result of human error. Of course, in this case the authorities pin the fault on the captain and not the suicidal desire for oil. Its amazing how "accidents" like this and the Exxon Valdez are seen as huge environmental catastrophes while the oil leaking out of pipelines and gas tanks throughout the world, and the catastrophic co2 pollution that results from the burning of oil, is seen as essential for our current human existence. This even though the every day actions of industrial society is significantly more damaging then any oil spill or chemical leak. If you ask me, the error is that we have created an economy that requires oil. With this lust for oil we get - global climate change, lose of biodiversity, and increased rates of cancer and obesity, ect. If you ask me it is not worth it. At least it is becoming increasingly clear that the era of oil is nearing its end.

Friday, November 9, 2007

News of the Week Part 3: The Research Lab at the End of the Universe

In the next issue of Nature there is going to be study discussing the ways in which smell triggers fear. In this study, Hitoshi Sakano, a neuroscientist at the University of Tokyo, genetically engineered mice to not have "olfactory neurons in their dorsal epithelium." Thus the mice did not fear leopard urine though they smelt it. They found that the mice could be taught to fear a certain smell (I do not want to know how they taught them this) showing the ways in which certain scents and emotions are intimately tied together both genetically and learned.

This study also shows the controlling power of genetic research. These mice are able to have certain fears removed at a genetic level. This is a sign of the next stage of domestication; genetically removing certain traits that are not beneficial for domestic animals such as fear, rage, depression, ect. This story made me think of Douglas Adams Restaurant at the End of the Universe and the genetically engineered cattle that not only wanted you to eat them but also expressed it vocally. How long is it before we have little white mouse expressing their desire to catch cancer and bunnies that love burning chemicals in their eyes?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

News of the Week Part 2: Signs of the coming apocalypse?

If things do not change and rain does not fall, or rivers are not diverted, the industries and people of Georgia will be without potable water. As of October 19th the city of Atlanta had only a 90 days supply of water and they had yet to think of any back up plan to address the issue. The Gov. of Georgia, Sonny Purdue (R) has pinned all his hopes on 1) forcing water conservation and 2) finding a way to stop water drainage from the lakes and rivers of Georgia. It appears that the governor is sick and tired of those no good neighboring states of Florida and Alabama getting all the water.

Of course, these half-brained attempts are not nearly enough. At least one person in Georgia realizes the problem: "It's amazing that things have come to this," said Ray Weidman, owner of an Atlanta landscaper business. "Everybody knew the growth was coming. We haven't had a plan for all the people coming here?" Yep, the problem for Georgia is they have had increased growth, increased development, and increased agro-business all with no attempt to conserve or preserve what few water sources the state has. in fact, the biggest source of drinking water, Lake Lanier is already less than three months from being dry.

To be fair to Georgia this not a problem that only they are facing. Many cities, and regions, throughout the United States and the world are coming to realize that water is not an infinite resource. One can only assume that as weather patterns become more erratic and temperatures increase that droughts will only increase throughout the world (as will floods). The cosmic irony of all this is that as water sources in George, and Western United States (Southern California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico) are all drying up the ocean waters will probably rise (and in fact about 1/10th of the worlds population will either be flooded or refugees or about 643 million people) and other areas will be under constant barrage from hurricanes and rainstorm.

News of the Week Part 1: Dr. Zaius what is your opinion?

From the New York Times Science Section- It seems that researchers at Yale's Psychological Studies department have written a paper discussing the ability of capuchin monkeys to rationalize their decisions. In their study they found that the monkeys rationalized choices in a way similar to 4 year-olds. Of course when the Yale researchers had to choose between stating that "monkeys and children have 'richer motivational complexity' than we realize" or that the scientific "ways of dealing with cognitive dissonance are 'mechanistically simpler than previously thought" they of course choose the later. It appears that the scientists refused to accept that monkeys are more complex and "human-like" then they currently think and instead just lowered the value of rationalizing. Obviously it cannot be that important if monkeys, underdeveloped children, and amnesiacs can do it. No matter what they claim, this does question how separate and unique humans are from other animals. If rationalizing and cognitive dissonance isn't what makes humans "unique" and "superior" to other animals what does?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Poor SUVs

It appears that vandals have targeted SUVs in a suburb of Las Vegas. Around 40 of the SUVs had windows damaged. Of course, the local authorities fear the worst and have contacted homeland security and the FBI in fear that this might be "eco-terrorism." Lets get this straight. So if I vandalize an SUV because I am concerned with climate change I am a terrorist. If I do it because I hate yuppies I a vandal.

In the Ruins of the New World...

The human created world that surrounds us is in constant need of maintenance and support. This is an obvious statement to any one that has spent time walking through the woods and come across an old junk car or an old railroad spike . These human-made objects are at most 50 years old, and are already over come with rust and degradation. The few objects that have survived for hundreds, if not thousands of years, have either had constant upkeep, where made of fine and treated material (not the disposable products of the last 50 plus years of human existence) or where fossilized and preserved through random dumb luck. What this means is the artificial, human world, that surrounds us - the houses, the roads, the high-speed internet cables, the subways, ect- that make our current lives "easier," "more manageable" and "privileged" is incredible fragile, as can be seen in this photo gallery. Without constant upkeep, without reproducing and manufacturing new products, the vestiges of human civilization will have a short lived existence. How long do we give our current, cookie cutter, homes before the cement foundation and floor is broken open by roots, till water destroys the roof and warps and rots the wood, until the entire home and neighborhood is reclaimed by natural forces? One year? A decade?

This topic has been brought up by the author Alan Weisman in The World Without Us. In this book, Weisman argues that the vast majority of the human artificial world would degrade and be overcome by natural forces within a few years. The New York City subways, for example, will be flooded by sea water the second the massive water pumps stop beating, and the current houses and streets will crumble within years, if they are not already. The legacy we will leave is not the great skyscrapers, the cavernous subways, or the colossal sports stadiums; it’s the plastics, the nuclear waste and the artificial chemicals and poisons we have dumped and spread throughout the world. This is human-beings real legacy; a poisoned, ravaged and toxic environment.

This does not mean that life, either human or otherwise, will not flourish on the Earth. Many environmentalists, radical or not, seem to believe that we are killing the world; that the Earth itself is in danger of destruction. The comedian George Carlin put it best on The View when he said:

GEORGE CARLIN: The planet is fine. The people are fucked. Because everyone is trying to save the planet. The planet doesn’t need that. The planet will take care of itself. People are selfish. And that's what they're doing is trying to save the planet for themselves to have a nicer place to live. They don't care about the planet in theory. They just care about having a comfortable place. And these people with the fires and the floods and everything, they overbuild, they put nature to the test and they get what's coming to them. That's what I say….There are places that are going to go away. The map is going to change and that's because -- people think nature is outside of them. They don't take into them the idea that we are part of it. They say, "oh, we're going for a nature walk. We're going to the country because we like nature." Nature is in here. And if you're in tune with it, like the Indians, the Hopis, especially, the balance of life, the balance, the harmony of nature, if you understand that, you don't overbuild. You don’t do all this moron stuff. There are too many people-

George is right. The planet will take care of itself. When humans stop laboring to reproduce and maintain the artificial environment surrounding us, it will fall apart, degrade, and slowly compost away. Everything but the toxic waste, CO2 emissions, and nuclear byproducts of current human systems. What we can be certain of is that life will continue on this planet. My only hope is that we, as a species, will be part of that life.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Some good Links

Well, I need to work on a first post and I feel that the best use of this space is to provide a bunch of links for those interested in the topic. Please check out these other sites. They all have great information and are a resource for anyone trying to learn about this topic. Hopefully over the next week or so I will spend some time coming up with a glossary of terms and maybe a brief history of revolutionary and radical environmentalism.
Green is the New Red-
This is a very well done blog that covers the government war against radical and revolutionary environmentalists. This is the best source for up-to-date news regarding the green scare and federal prosecution of environmental activists

Green Scare -
Speaking of the green scare. This is the site to get any and all information regarding those who are being persecuted or are incarcerated for suspected environmental and animal liberation activities. This is a great source for the history of the green scare and Operation Biteback, and for biographical and support information for environmental political prisoners.

Earth First Journal-
This is the website for Earth First! which is a loose collection of environmental groups that share a biocentric world view, support non-violent direct action/civil disobedience, and promote a no-compromise perspective. The group has been going strong since 1980 and has undergone many different shifts and stages.

Earth Liberation Front -
Here is the website for the ELF. It is a shell of what it used to be when Craig Rosenbaugh and Leslie James Pickering ran the North American Earth Liberation Front Press Office from 1996 to 2001ish. The new site has some updates on actions and some information on green scare but is mostly now a way to find out about cheap Viagra. Overall the biggest problem with the site is its layout; it is incredibly hard to find anything on the site.

Biteback is, in my opinion, the best resource for animal liberation actions. The journal, and the website, has a quick link to actions that have happened and has articles and interviews with important members of the Animal Liberation movement. Want to know more about Animal Lib. go here.

Animal Liberation Front Press Office-
This is the official link for the Animal Liberation Front press office. It is am alright source for information and has most of the released communiqu├ęs on file. It is also a decent source for news and background on the ALF. I find biteback to be better, if you order the journal.

Green Anarchy Journal-
This is the most well known and most influential anti-civilizational journal in the United States (and possible the world?) and it is published here in Eugene, OR. The journal's best section is the news section. It covers a large number of anarchist, anti-capitalist, indigenous and earth liberation news throughout the world. Overall the journal is supposed to be about "Theory "and "Action" but by far the dominant component of the journal is theory- which is fine with me because I love political theory and philosophy- which is often poorly done. It is definitely worth a look, especially if you know nothing about green anarchism, and it is a great source for a lot of John Zerzan articles.

Fifth Estate-
This is the longest running anarchist periodical in the United States and since about the mid 1980s has been one of the preeminent sources for anti-civilizational anarchism. Some of its best work is from "Dave Watson" who's collected volume Against the Megamachine is a great pick up for anyone interested in environmental politics or anarchist theory.

Green Theory and Praxis-
This is an exciting academic journal started by Mark Somma, who is a professors of Political Science from Cal. State Fresno. They come out with a new issue biyearly and so far every issue, though small, has been incredibly interesting. The last issue, August 2007, has a movie called "Testify: Ecodefense and Political Violence" that I recommend. The best article, in my humble opinion, is the August 2006 one by Anthony Nocella and Steven Best titled "Revolutionary Environmentalism: An Emerging New Struggle for Liberation." This article is a great overview of revolutionary environmentalism both philosophically and historically. There is a shorter variant of it in the book Igniting a Revolution: Voices in Defense of the Earth published by AK Press.