Toxic Economic Assumptions Drive Climate Chaos

You and I can replace our light bulbs and shop local and recycle and reuse and even conserve energy and natural resources like a champ.

But if we don’t change the drivers that churn Earth matter into profit as fast as possible (the Growth Economy/Consumption Machine model) — and in so doing,  consider corporate shareholders’ well-being ahead of ecosystems and forests and coral reefs and human communities like yours and mine…

Then it’s game over. We have almost used up all the time we have, and have not laid the axe to the root of the tree.

Do good. Recycle. Conserve. Shop local.

But unless we revolt against the Consumption Machine in much less than a generation, it will consume the consumers. What a perverse end to the story, don’t you think?


SustainFloyd Offers the Personal Climate Pledge

SustainFloyd’s Personal Climate Pledge asks YOU to be intentional about what you eat, drive, wear and throw away. I post it here for the couple of Fragments readers who might stop by.

Some of you have seen/heard this on Facebook from WVTF starting yesterday.

Robbie Harris put together a piece showcasing the Personal Climate Pledge created and now offered to all from SustainFloyd.

The hope is that this can be re-created in tiny to large communities across the country for true grassroots change in what I call our “personal ecology.”

The ultimate goal for me would be that we would stand against business-as-usual economics where GDP measures the health of our state in the world. People and planet must be at least equal priorities to profit.

All the goals of the climate pledge swim against the current of using up faster, spending more, consuming more, traveling more and eating thousand-food-mile groceries.

That is what I hope people with the Pledge magnet on their refrigerators will reflect on every time they do the “right thing” in their own homes. In the end, we have to make these principles the new order in our relationship with the natural world.

► You can help by sharing this post or the link to the WVTF spot on the Pledge.

Mt Valley Pipeline Hits a Speed Bump

In case you once followed the progress (or potential devastation) of the 42-inch Mountain Valley Fracked-unNatural Gas Pipeline but had wandered away from the topic, seeing its opposition as a spitting-into-the-wind lost cause, you might want to take a few minutes to come up to speed.

It seems Mt Valley does not have a free pass to our forests, mountain vistas, ground water and precious places just yet. But the fox is now guarding the henhouse, even as likely thousands of late-indigenous Appalachians would put their own safety and freedom on the line, as my friend David Seriff (of a potentially MVP-impacted Blacksburg neighborhood) suggests:

Seriff: Will Standing Rock happen here? – Roanoke Times

Standing Rock Part 2? 16,000 Sign Petition Demanding West Virginia Gas Pipeline Be Stopped – Washington DC, DC Patch

EPA finds fault with environmental review of Mountain Valley Pipeline | Nelson News | 

Regional governments bash pipeline impact statement | Nelson News | 

An environmental news group from Roanoke ends their last newsletter as follows, indicating the fat lady is yet to sing:

The Bureau of Land Management states that:

FERC has failed to show a need for the project and seems to be concerned with the needs of the pipeline company rather than the needs they should be addressing for the nation The use of federal eminent domain from so many landowners – and BLM states that they listened to landowners – requires a very strong public need, which has not been established.
Hopefully we could have the following process outcomes recommended by DOI:

• A new or supplemental DEIS that meets the legal requirements identified by the DOI and others
• An additional comment period
• True public hearings by the BLM in areas affected by the pipeline proposal – rather than the sham hearings held by FERC November.

The Bad Luck of the Alleghenies: What’s Under the Ground

There was once a wide shallow life-filled sea that filled the bowl to the west of the Crystalline Appalachians—as the Blue Ridge geology is sometimes described. The area is now known as the Cumberland or Allegheny Plateau of the Central Appalachian Basin. Along with the Ridge and Valley Province from Pennsylvania to Alabama, the region’s bedrock consists of sedimentary strata laid down like a two-thousand foot thick layer cake.

When continents collided a few hundred million years ago, it lifted the ancient Blue Ridge higher still and rucked up the Fold-Fault mountains of the Ridge and Valley layer cake that have eroded since into long more-or-less parallel low sandstone ridges above less resistant limestone valleys. But the Allegheny Plateau was not impacted by the pushing and shoving of continents, so there, the layers are relatively undisturbed and neat—one on top of the other.

View the cross sectional image. The horizontal strata of the Allegheny Plateau are to the left of the image, the Blue Ridge to the right.

What is, in the rear view mirror of history, unfortunate for that geological land form (and in the end not so great for its people) is that one of those buried layer components of the ancient oceans consists of the oily carbonaceous deposits of millennia of dead algae and phytoplankton that piled up thick and stayed that way—compressed and in place over the years to form coal.

Or oil shale. And you know the rest of the story. Any place Big Oil can gain access to those deep-dead organic compounds (Carbon in the form of coal, oil or gas) it will do whatever it takes to extract it to the last possible drop. This black-gold rush create lots of jobs, then much fewer as mechanization and Mountaintop Removal replaced pick and shovel mining and the boom went to bust, as natural gas will and already is.

The latest verse of that song is fracking the Marcellus and Utica shale within this same geology—from which is extracted deeper, less efficient, unconventional energy that requires huge amounts of chemical-laden water and whose highest dollar return at the end of thousands of pipeline miles across private property is overseas.

Move over, landowners, just passing through on the way to end users in Europe. With the government in the pocket of industry, eminent domain hangs as a threat to force the taking of the land (and water) of thousands of Appalachian farms and homesteads “for the greater good” of society (provided they own the right corporate stock.)

This is NOT going down well with a people who take their identities from the places they have lived for generations. Communities like Floyd are insisting that they have a say—including veto power—to refuse to allow access and probable risks to the long term health of their land.

What we have here is a growing stand-off—not between NIMBYs and a legitimate only-choice / best-possible way forward in our energy future. It is a struggle between simple folk taking the seven generation view of things, looking at the BIG PICTURE standing resolutely against get-rich-quick maintain-the-status-quo Big Oil Hamfists and their bankers and lawyers and senators and spin-merchants-of-doubt.

The F in FERC is for Federal, and this rubber-stamp agency at the top of the peck order (F may also stand for Fox guarding the hen house) does not give a tinker’s damn about the well-being of you and me.

But the  increasingly organized and geographically spreading opposition is not just speaking out against this or that pipeline to but against PIPELINES and FRACKING and another generation of carbon in the air our great grandchildren will breathe. And in this struggle, we are seeing more clearly those things that we are against, but also those unalienable rights that we stand for.

See Our view: The big picture on the pipeline – Roanoke Times: Editorials

We have to end this HERE and NOW. Investors across the nation are saying NO to coal. Investors in natural gas had better be paying close attention.

Stay tuned. I think we’re about (within a generation or less) to witness a regime change. Or a revolution.



You (Don’t) Need a Thneed

Or…The Lorax Continues to Blog for the Trees.

I (sort of) apologize for my blog mood-swings of late (as in the past five years.) It makes me feel better learning that I’m not the only one who has come to feel out of relationship with the medium and its former audience, and not certain how to go on.

Like me, others have said that as long as they are talking knitting or kitties, the readership stays on board. But as soon as they move to life-relevant, urgent, very personal, gut-level and more weighty matters–far more important than dropping a stitch or Fluffy battling shadows on the floor inside a grocery bag–the readers flee for the hills.

Don’t go off-brand, buckeroos (and buckerettes.) And yet, we have the capacity to amuse ourselves to death while the house is on fire. Do we want to sustain the medium if that is all it has become–a Facebook Annex?

I’m sitting here a couple of hours before first light, wondering if, and then what to post this morning. Fridays I generally don’t bother offering Friday posts as blogs drop off the radar after Thursdays around here.

But I am shaken by the visual weight of these two images in the same frame of thought this morning, and by what they represent–at least to my mind. And so I offer you visuals from two possible futures.

Please examine Exhibit A (image-left)–the incredible macro-movie from Wednesday. If you didn’t see it, at least copy the link for the weekend.  No. Watch it now. We’ll wait.

This video snippet is a remarkably-captured celebration of just a sampling of  the astounding realities of behavior, form, color, texture and beauty in the natural world. This world we did not make but can destroy exists just outside your window, we just don’t get to see it’s detail like this, but your nearby world is just as real, just as amazing as the one depicted in the video. If we only had eyes to see (or know without seeing) nature in this way. Takes a wacky biologist I suppose.

The 7 minute video lifts up the wonders of nature and life, and watching it elevates our spirits, gives us hope and joy. Included in similar exhibits for your imagination’s consideration, if you’ll hold your arms wide and squint just a little, would be videos of every human family gathering around the birth of their newest healthy grand child; videos of those children climbing and running and laughing in bright colors on playgrounds and in shady parks and meadows around the world, cavorting under the sun; videos of those same children growing up into young farmers happily harvesting food in rainforests, on rocky coasts and high plains across the planet; growing old together in place.

Exhibit A, we’ll say, represents all the forms that life on Earth has the potential to continue to generate from healthy soils, clean water and working ecologic webs of give and take. But the health of that future stands in terrible and (geologically speaking) immediate  jeopardy, and if you don’t believe this, you (like the young students I got to know recently) have not been paying attention.

Now Exhibit B (image right, and link HERE): just one of thousands of earthly crime scenes: the tar sands of Canada. All the Exhibit B’s (including but not limited to mountaintop removal, desertification, coral reef deaths, raped rain forests, massive fish kills and ocean dead zones, megadrought and melting permafrost) reveal the horror of the truth: that humankind is willing to give our proxy to the Once-lers of Mordor–to obliterate continents-worth of those forms of life we watched in Exhibit A.

They do so in our names–we, the Consumers–for the purpose of squeezing out of the ground one more million miles of jet travel,  one more million dollars of corporate profit. One million more Thneeds, the Lorax would say.

Mordor knows what it’s doing and gleefully pushes all the harder on the throttle. And you and I and those scurrying insects and hungry frog and all the Truffula trees close relatives are the victims.

I challenge you to survey the eternally-poisoned landscapes of the tar sands that would feed the Keystone pipeline. Make yourself look.

So again, I apologize, and I don’t. This is a blogger’s schizophrenic reality. We love to crochet. But we want to know our great-grandkids get the chance to do it. And we sort of have a hard time smelling the house on fire and blogging nothing but blue skies.

“What’s that thing you’ve made out of my Truffula Tree?”

The Lorax (1972 original) – YouTube

Serving suggestion: since the kids spend most of their time plugged in, sit them in front of the original Lorax from 1972.  Might be worth your time as well, grown-up types.