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.

The Dog Ate My Environmental Impact Study

So I’m reading about a bill, the Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act, that puts a time limit of a year on FERC to approve a proposal for a gas pipeline.

And I’m reading the last bit of the quote below thinking heck, maybe this is a step in a logical direction. So I expected if all those various required environmental impact studies mentioned in the first bit quoted below are NOT completed within that one year window, then the project proposal will logically be REJECTED.

Imagine my mock-astonishment when instead I read the word ACCEPTED. What was I thinking! These are Republicans, who increasingly seem to have no ideological compass at all other than soak the rich and screw the planet and pat each other on the back.

Talk about your fox guarding your industry hen house. Er, make that THEIR hen house. Used to be everybodys. Of, by and for. Remember how that was supposed to work?

So to get the green light, all the so-called impact studies just need to be conveniently delayed, and bingo! Get a free pass!

Congress Considers Bill to Fast Track Gas Pipeline Projects, and it Could Affect West Virginians | West Virginia Public Broadcasting

“The commission will look at all potential aspects of the environmental impact of a project, and that includes cultural resources, wetlands, endangered species, impacts on waterways, geology, agricultural land, etc,” Allen said. The House of Representatives recently passed a resolution, which, if it became a law, would direct FERC to shorten the length of time it reviews all pipeline projects to one year. If FERC fails to review a given project within that time, the resolution states, the project should automatically be approved.

Welcome to Bizarro World.

Certain Unalienable Rights. Maybe.

The noon “action” in Floyd yesterday brought the hardies out into the cold wind to advocate for a voice in what happens to the places we call home. I was one of several representatives from the counties at the gathering to offer a  statement at the press conference upstairs in the Floyd Country Store.  Find some media links at the end of this post. — Fred

Floyd County citizens were alarmed when the Mountain Valley Pipeline seemed likely to lay a long scar across the places we hold dear, threatening our water, the value and full enjoyment and use of our property and our way of life.

Along with many of our sister counties in Southwest Virginia, we have a long and close relationship with these mountains. They are the foundation of the notion of who we are together. Where we live is who we are, you might say.

So we were—and are–resistant to the notion that the fate of our fields, forests and wetlands might be determined in corporate board rooms and political conference rooms and not, after all, in our own living rooms.

In rejecting the Mountain Valley and other pipelines in our back yard and in all back yards, we take a step towards an era when carbon fuels no longer threaten our planet with runaway overheating and the consequences of extreme thermal and chemical changes to which 7 billion people and their crops cannot adapt.

And so I have come here today to express a grievance on behalf of many Floyd County citizens that the power of politically-supported corporations is too often overwhelming the will of communities like Floyd in nearby counties that are represented here today, and increasingly from across the country.

We reject the notion that the fate of any community’s future rests with those who place too low a value on the genuine perpetual best interests of that community’s natural, physical and cultural well-being.

We are here today to be heard. Should we remain passive and silent, our people and our land will get the undesirable future that others choose for us. If we acquiesce to the “public good” as judged by corporate and cold political interests alone then we must be content to confront a dangerous and disordered future. We are not content to do so.

Standing for the rights of our ecosystems’ future health is an appropriate action towards the reshaping of our economy. The goal is our common well-being, moving with hope and determination away from a profit-and-growth model that is destroying us from the top down.

We insist that communities hold the rights to offer their children a future in place, able to judge what is the best use for their land and for the commons they share with all.

Pipeline protests still rage | Blue Ridge Muse

Mountain Valley Pipeline opponents push to have a local say at Floyd protest – Roanoke Times: Floyd County News

Pipeline opponents rally for more local control | Local News – Central and Southwest VA

Thursday in Floyd: We Have the Right to Say NO MORE CARBON

Fossil carbon has been an unbelievable one-pass-through ultra-concentrated source of energy, power and change for the better for two centuries. We can’t fault those early energy pioneers who exploited the heat of coal and horsepower of petroleum to heat homes and power wheels of horseless vehicles  and run the engines of commerce of our great-great-grandparents’ time.

But we knew 150 years ago (see history of greenhouse gas and climate connection) that, sooner or later, if we continued to let carbon drive the economic engine, we’d reach the point where our “progress” would lead to  our undoing. We have now reached—if not gone past—that point.

The harder the Big Oil powers  press on the carbon gas pedal with their hands over our eyes, the sooner we will all will hit the wall–unless we take the wheel and press the brake to the floorboard. If we fail to do this now, people we know and love, or those who would have been our great-great grands, will suffer a world broken by our failure to stop the machine in time. I have no doubt about this whatsoever. Do you? It’s a hard thing to make yourself accept, but you must. We must.

And perhaps we will not, after all,  fail to stop it. The brakes are already being pushed by a million feet and the numbers are growing. People who say STOP are not technophobes; they are not Luddites; they are not starry-eyed tree-hugger romantics who want to destroy the economy and live in caves.

They are ordinary people who have bothered to look and are terribly disturbed by the facts on the ground–by the trends in all the measures that tell us we can’t continue business as usual. We can’t build the future on what has worked in the past. The end of the carbon era must come soon, and that divestment must begin NOW.

That divestment from carbon will receive a special focus during Global Divestment Day (Feb 13 and 14).  At least watch the short video and bookmark the link.

Fossil Free – Global Divestment Day

Some (hopefully a lot) of those ordinary people are saying NO to fracked-methane interestate pipelines across the Blue Ridge Mountains. And in this, they are also saying NO to another three decades of additional atmospheric insult and YES to the right for communities to veto large infrastructure projects that place their land, water and way of life at risk while all the gains go to the corporate suits and their politician poodles.

There are incredibly urgent issues of social and environmental justice at stake. Let’s do what’s RIGHT for people on the ground, not what’s best for shareholders who hold no stake in our future.  Don’t be silent any longer. See you (bundled well against the cold wind) on Thursday at the Country Store at noon?

Global Warming Timeline

Preserve Democracy: Stop the Pipe LIES…

EARTHWORKS | Hydraulic Fracturing 101

Fracking Gas Shell Game

“Keep your eye on the pea. Follow every move, suckers. Our hands never leave our arms. Confused? That’s right. You can’t really know which shell hides the real gas pipeline route. ”

There’s been another feint in the direction of “not there after all” with regard to the Mountain Valley Pipeline’s actual path. The energy companies in all likelihood will yet again plot another zone of chaos, and in so doing, they keep the enemy off balance. Of so they presume.

I read this bit in the Roanoke Times, having had some advance word that this was in the offing. And since I’m working on this book that begins with the pipeline issue in SWVA, I created a line of loquacious dialogue in response to the wife reading the news clip to the husband at breakfast.

“Yep. Follow the bouncing pipeline” he said around a mouthful of toast. “and by fortuitous twist of fate and the folly of the game-playing shape-shifting bob-and-weave deceptions of the energy companies we play the find-the-real-pipeline game.” He tipped that last drop of coffee from the bottom of the cup.

“This is not all bad, actually. In the end, every time they move the route,  more residents of these mountain counties became threatened landowners. And there’s nothing makes a good activist like a threatened landowner.

The Energy Heavies thought in this public deception that they were putting the fear into the little people with tiny voices, but turns out,  they were just full of gas.”