We Can Solve The Climate Crisis

To Our Leaders: Give Us 100% Clean Electricity in 10 Years

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

Americans, addicted to oil and quick fixes, embrace a man and a mantra; yet, most are unwilling to envelop themselves in a cause.  The public appreciates the need for clean energy.  Accolades are bestowed upon the former Vice President, author, Nobel Peace Prize winner, and environmentalist Albert Gore for the work he has done to inform us of an inconvenient truth.  Nonetheless, as knowledgeable as the public may be, nothing truly changes.  Intellectually, nearly everyone accepts what a myriad of experts emphasize.  The planet is in peril.  However, emotionally, few internalize the urgency of what must be a global priority.  There is a problem.  We cannot wait to employ solutions.

Nonetheless, for the most part, the masses delay.  We, the people, pour our bodies into gasoline guzzlers we call cars.  We cry out loudly when the price of fossil fuels climbs.  Millions moan and groan at the thought of being without a vehicle or petroleum based plastic bags, bottles, or other commodities that produce pollution.  We, revel at the possibility that we might own the latest or greatest gadget.  A new widget is welcomed into our homes.  While the populace complains that today, products have a built in obsolescence, people prefer to trash what is no longer new.  For the most part, we are a population of consumers content with what we have.  Countless have emotionally closed the door on doing what needs to be done to save the planet.

Land is filled with what was once shiny and sensational.  Previously prized possessions are stored in garages and lockers far from the owners who loved these trinkets long ago.  Backyards, boulevards, and beaches are strewn with what was valuable way back when.  Shores and seas are saturated with treasures now declared garbage.  The atmosphere is clogged with chemicals used to produce these favorite assets.  Everywhere we turn, there is evidence that mankind has hurt Mother Earth; although a few still claim, humans do not transform the habitat.  The devout have faith only the Almighty can alter what is.

These individuals and those who do not share such conviction offer excuses.  They may say man is but a speck in the universe and on this planet.  Humans have dominion.  A single layperson or scientist might suggest these seeming contrary statements concurrently.  A solitary sole, so certain that consumption is good, may not perceive the cognitive dissonance that commands him, or her.  Few authentically consider the principles of cause and effect.

Most of us just cruise through life.  Persons imagine that cannot change what is.

We have all heard the pretext for what might be labeled laissez-faire, a lack of belief in the ability of one little being, or laziness.  People profess; economic prosperity and personal freedoms need to be sustained.  “Free enterprise will take care of all ills.”  Supply-and-demand governs the market effectively.  If the public wanted renewable energy, certainly entrepreneurs would manufacture products to meet the exigency.  Those who prefer a profit-driven system say, man must be able to produce, and even a tree-hugger would agree.  A creative productive populace can solve any problem.

However, those whose heart resides with Mother Nature do not think it wise to fabricate what will mar the milieu.  Yet, these persons rarely accomplish much to encourage environmental practices.  Ecologists frequently bemoan, the people have no political power.  Common folks cannot make true change.  Big Businesses must provide the means.  Helpless and humbled conservationists howl, we cannot cure the climate crisis.  We have no clout.

Few, among the masses acknowledge that the people are the power.  We have the energy.  If the average Joe and Jane enthusiastically, with eager fervor, and a commitment to clean energy insist that our Representatives free us from the constraints of fossil fuels, they will.  Their livelihood and lives, just as ours, depends on renewable sources for propulsion and production.  When the masses are resolute, Congress, and corporations, respond.  

Purposeful people can move manufacturers.  If the whole of the people adamantly avow and act on a promise not to purchase merchandise manufactured in a manner that is perilous to the planet, much will be done.  A dedicated population has the power to solve an energy crisis and a climate catastrophe.  Together, we can overcome what has been a tremendous obstacle.  United, we need not be a culture critically void of dynamic concern.  We the people can free ourselves from the restraints that bind us.  We need not rely on a man or a mantra.  We can solve it all, if each of us begins with me.

Please sign petitions.  Write to Congresspersons and Chief Executive Officers.  Purchase no wares that pollute.  Participate not in political actions that advocate policies that add to the concern for climate crisis.  Speak out and act in accordance to your environmentally friendly beliefs.  I, we thank you.

We Can Solve the Climate Crisis Together . . .

Al Gore; We Can Solve The Climate Crisis

Remix: Al Gore’s Challenge to Repower America

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

Former Vice President Albert Gore challenges Congress, corporations, citizens in this country, and people planet wide to consider crucial connections, and what might be done to correct what appears to be an eminent disaster.  Globally,  civilization depends on us, and our commitment to change.  Currently, the situation is critical.  Catastrophes exist around every corner.  The economy is shaky.  Employment opportunities are limited.  Weather is weird.  Most experts believe the “energy tsunami” seems to have effected the environment.  Forecasts for the future are not good.  We can no longer count the years until our demise.  The days are numbered.  Too many species are now extinct; more are threatened.  All people on this planet must acknowledge we are in peril.  There is a climate crisis.

Those who wish to believe humans have no effect on the environment need only turn on the television or tune in the radio.  Everyday there are reports that document extraordinary and dire weather conditions.  If this information does not convince cynics, perhaps a more personal tour will.  Travel to your local major metropolis, or better yet, journey to the Far East.  The conditions in China might make an impression.  With little care for contaminates, or regulations to reduce pollutants, poisons visibly linger in the air and scorch the lungs of those who live in this industrialized continent.  Sewage improperly disposed of has caused rivers to rot.  Noxious waste has destroyed waterways at home and abroad.  The land is also filled with toxin.

The air is no longer clean.  The seas are soiled.  The land is filled with impurities.  Soon there will be nowhere to hide from what humans wrought.  Thus, the challenge, as presented by Nobel Peace Prize awardee.  Please do more than peruse.  Take the initiative and repower the property Mother Nature bequeathed.

Ladies and gentlemen:

There are times in the history of our nation when our very way of life depends upon dispelling illusions and awakening to the challenge of a present danger.  In such moments, we are called upon to move quickly and boldly to shake off complacency, throw aside old habits and rise, clear-eyed and alert, to the necessity of big changes.  Those who, for whatever reason, refuse to do their part must either be persuaded to join the effort or asked to step aside. This is such a moment. The survival of the United States of America as we know it is at risk. And even more – if more should be required – the future of human civilization is at stake.

I don’t remember a time in our country when so many things seemed to be going so wrong simultaneously. Our economy is in terrible shape and getting worse, gasoline prices are increasing dramatically, and so are electricity rates. Jobs are being outsourced. Home mortgages are in trouble. Banks, automobile companies and other institutions we depend upon are under growing pressure. Distinguished senior business leaders are telling us that this is just the beginning unless we find the courage to make some major changes quickly.

The climate crisis, in particular, is getting a lot worse – much more quickly than predicted. Scientists with access to data from Navy submarines traversing underneath the North polar ice cap have warned that there is now a 75 percent chance that within five years the entire ice cap will completely disappear during the summer months. This will further increase the melting pressure on Greenland. According to experts, the Jakobshavn glacier, one of Greenland’s largest, is moving at a faster rate than ever before, losing 20 million tons of ice every day, equivalent to the amount of water used every year by the residents of New York City.

Two major studies from military intelligence experts have warned our leaders about the dangerous national security implications of the climate crisis, including the possibility of hundreds of millions of climate refugees destabilizing nations around the world.

Just two days ago, 27 senior statesmen and retired military leaders warned of the national security threat from an “energy tsunami” that would be triggered by a loss of our access to foreign oil. Meanwhile, the war in Iraq continues, and now the war in Afghanistan appears to be getting worse.

And by the way, our weather sure is getting strange, isn’t it? There seem to be more tornadoes than in living memory, longer droughts, bigger downpours and record floods. Unprecedented fires are burning in California and elsewhere in the American West. Higher temperatures lead to drier vegetation that makes kindling for mega-fires of the kind that have been raging in Canada, Greece, Russia, China, South America, Australia and Africa. Scientists in the Department of Geophysics and Planetary Science at Tel Aviv University tell us that for every one degree increase in temperature, lightning strikes will go up another 10 percent. And it is lightning, after all, that is principally responsible for igniting the conflagration in California today.

Like a lot of people, it seems to me that all these problems are bigger than any of the solutions that have thus far been proposed for them, and that’s been worrying me.

I’m convinced that one reason we’ve seemed paralyzed in the face of these crises is our tendency to offer old solutions to each crisis separately – without taking the others into account. And these outdated proposals have not only been ineffective – they almost always make the other crises even worse.

Yet when we look at all three of these seemingly intractable challenges at the same time, we can see the common thread running through them, deeply ironic in its simplicity: our dangerous over-reliance on carbon-based fuels is at the core of all three of these challenges – the economic, environmental and national security crises.

We’re borrowing money from China to buy oil from the Persian Gulf to burn it in ways that destroy the planet. Every bit of that’s got to change.

But if we grab hold of that common thread and pull it hard, all of these complex problems begin to unravel and we will find that we’re holding the answer to all of them right in our hand.

The answer is to end our reliance on carbon-based fuels.

In my search for genuinely effective answers to the climate crisis, I have held a series of “solutions summits” with engineers, scientists, and CEOs. In those discussions, one thing has become abundantly clear: when you connect the dots, it turns out that the real solutions to the climate crisis are the very same measures needed to renew our economy and escape the trap of ever-rising energy prices. Moreover, they are also the very same solutions we need to guarantee our national security without having to go to war in the Persian Gulf.

What if we could use fuels that are not expensive, don’t cause pollution and are abundantly available right here at home?

We have such fuels. Scientists have confirmed that enough solar energy falls on the surface of the earth every 40 minutes to meet 100 percent of the entire world’s energy needs for a full year. Tapping just a small portion of this solar energy could provide all of the electricity America uses.

And enough wind power blows through the Midwest corridor every day to also meet 100 percent of US electricity demand. Geothermal energy, similarly, is capable of providing enormous supplies of electricity for America.

The quickest, cheapest and best way to start using all this renewable energy is in the production of electricity. In fact, we can start right now using solar power, wind power and geothermal power to make electricity for our homes and businesses.

But to make this exciting potential a reality, and truly solve our nation’s problems, we need a new start.

That’s why I’m proposing today a strategic initiative designed to free us from the crises that are holding us down and to regain control of our own destiny. It’s not the only thing we need to do. But this strategic challenge is the lynchpin of a bold new strategy needed to re-power America.

Today I challenge our nation to commit to producing 100 percent of our electricity from renewable energy and truly clean carbon-free sources within 10 years.

This goal is achievable, affordable and transformative. It represents a challenge to all Americans – in every walk of life: to our political leaders, entrepreneurs, innovators, engineers, and to every citizen.

A few years ago, it would not have been possible to issue such a challenge. But here’s what’s changed: the sharp cost reductions now beginning to take place in solar, wind, and geothermal power – coupled with the recent dramatic price increases for oil and coal – have radically changed the economics of energy.

When I first went to Congress 32 years ago, I listened to experts testify that if oil ever got to $35 a barrel, then renewable sources of energy would become competitive. Well, today, the price of oil is over $135 per barrel. And sure enough, billions of dollars of new investment are flowing into the development of concentrated solar thermal, photovoltaics, windmills, geothermal plants, and a variety of ingenious new ways to improve our efficiency and conserve presently wasted energy.

And as the demand for renewable energy grows, the costs will continue to fall. Let me give you one revealing example: the price of the specialized silicon used to make solar cells was recently as high as $300 per kilogram. But the newest contracts have prices as low as $50 a kilogram.

You know, the same thing happened with computer chips – also made out of silicon. The price paid for the same performance came down by 50 percent every 18 months – year after year, and that’s what’s happened for 40 years in a row.

To those who argue that we do not yet have the technology to accomplish these results with renewable energy: I ask them to come with me to meet the entrepreneurs who will drive this revolution. I’ve seen what they are doing and I have no doubt that we can meet this challenge.

To those who say the costs are still too high: I ask them to consider whether the costs of oil and coal will ever stop increasing if we keep relying on quickly depleting energy sources to feed a rapidly growing demand all around the world. When demand for oil and coal increases, their price goes up. When demand for solar cells increases, the price often comes down.

When we send money to foreign countries to buy nearly 70 percent of the oil we use every day, they build new skyscrapers and we lose jobs. When we spend that money building solar arrays and windmills, we build competitive industries and gain jobs here at home.

Of course, there are those who will tell us this can’t be done. Some of the voices we hear are the defenders of the status quo – the ones with a vested interest in perpetuating the current system, no matter how high a price the rest of us will have to pay. But even those who reap the profits of the carbon age have to recognize the inevitability of its demise. As one OPEC oil minister observed, “The Stone Age didn’t end because of a shortage of stones.”

To those who say 10 years is not enough time, I respectfully ask them to consider what the world’s scientists are telling us about the risks we face if we don’t act in 10 years. The leading experts predict that we have less than 10 years to make dramatic changes in our global warming pollution lest we lose our ability to ever recover from this environmental crisis. When the use of oil and coal goes up, pollution goes up. When the use of solar, wind and geothermal increases, pollution comes down.

To those who say the challenge is not politically viable: I suggest they go before the American people and try to defend the status quo. Then bear witness to the people’s appetite for change.

I for one do not believe our country can withstand 10 more years of the status quo. Our families cannot stand 10 more years of gas price increases. Our workers cannot stand 10 more years of job losses and outsourcing of factories. Our economy cannot stand 10 more years of sending $2 billion every 24 hours to foreign countries for oil. And our soldiers and their families cannot take another 10 years of repeated troop deployments to dangerous regions that just happen to have large oil supplies.

What could we do instead for the next 10 years? What should we do during the next 10 years? Some of our greatest accomplishments as a nation have resulted from commitments to reach a goal that fell well beyond the next election: the Marshall Plan, Social Security, the interstate highway system. But a political promise to do something 40 years from now is universally ignored because everyone knows that it’s meaningless. Ten years is about the maximum time that we as a nation can hold a steady aim and hit our target.

When President John F. Kennedy challenged our nation to land a man on the moon and bring him back safely in 10 years, many people doubted we could accomplish that goal. But 8 years and 2 months later, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the surface of the moon.

To be sure, reaching the goal of 100 percent renewable and truly clean electricity within 10 years will require us to overcome many obstacles. At present, for example, we do not have a unified national grid that is sufficiently advanced to link the areas where the sun shines and the wind blows to the cities in the East and the West that need the electricity. Our national electric grid is critical infrastructure, as vital to the health and security of our economy as our highways and telecommunication networks. Today, our grids are antiquated, fragile, and vulnerable to cascading failure. Power outages and defects in the current grid system cost US businesses more than $120 billion dollars a year. It has to be upgraded anyway.

We could further increase the value and efficiency of a Unified National Grid by helping our struggling auto giants switch to the manufacture of plug-in electric cars. An electric vehicle fleet would sharply reduce the cost of driving a car, reduce pollution, and increase the flexibility of our electricity grid.

At the same time, of course, we need to greatly improve our commitment to efficiency and conservation. That’s the best investment we can make.

America’s transition to renewable energy sources must also include adequate provisions to assist those Americans who would unfairly face hardship. For example, we must recognize those who have toiled in dangerous conditions to bring us our present energy supply. We should guarantee good jobs in the fresh air and sunshine for any coal miner displaced by impacts on the coal industry. Every single one of them.

Of course, we could and should speed up this transition by insisting that the price of carbon-based energy include the costs of the environmental damage it causes. I have long supported a sharp reduction in payroll taxes with the difference made up in CO2 taxes. We should tax what we burn, not what we earn. This is the single most important policy change we can make.

In order to foster international cooperation, it is also essential that the United States rejoin the global community and lead efforts to secure an international treaty at Copenhagen in December of next year that includes a cap on CO2 emissions and a global partnership that recognizes the necessity of addressing the threats of extreme poverty and disease as part of the world’s agenda for solving the climate crisis.

Of course the greatest obstacle to meeting the challenge of 100 percent renewable electricity in 10 years may be the deep dysfunction of our politics and our self-governing system as it exists today. In recent years, our politics has tended toward incremental proposals made up of small policies designed to avoid offending special interests, alternating with occasional baby steps in the right direction. Our democracy has become sclerotic at a time when these crises require boldness.

It is only a truly dysfunctional system that would buy into the perverse logic that the short-term answer to high gasoline prices is drilling for more oil ten years from now.

Am I the only one who finds it strange that our government so often adopts a so-called solution that has absolutely nothing to do with the problem it is supposed to address? When people rightly complain about higher gasoline prices, we propose to give more money to the oil companies and pretend that they’re going to bring gasoline prices down. It will do nothing of the sort, and everyone knows it. If we keep going back to the same policies that have never ever worked in the past and have served only to produce the highest gasoline prices in history alongside the greatest oil company profits in history, nobody should be surprised if we get the same result over and over again. But the Congress may be poised to move in that direction anyway because some of them are being stampeded by lobbyists for special interests that know how to make the system work for them instead of the American people.

If you want to know the truth about gasoline prices, here it is: the exploding demand for oil, especially in places like China, is overwhelming the rate of new discoveries by so much that oil prices are almost certain to continue upward over time no matter what the oil companies promise. And politicians cannot bring gasoline prices down in the short term.

However, there actually is one extremely effective way to bring the costs of driving a car way down within a few short years. The way to bring gas prices down is to end our dependence on oil and use the renewable sources that can give us the equivalent of $1 per gallon gasoline.

Many Americans have begun to wonder whether or not we’ve simply lost our appetite for bold policy solutions. And folks who claim to know how our system works these days have told us we might as well forget about our political system doing anything bold, especially if it is contrary to the wishes of special interests. And I’ve got to admit, that sure seems to be the way things have been going. But I’ve begun to hear different voices in this country from people who are not only tired of baby steps and special interest politics, but are hungry for a new, different and bold approach.

We are on the eve of a presidential election. We are in the midst of an international climate treaty process that will conclude its work before the end of the first year of the new president’s term. It is a great error to say that the United States must wait for others to join us in this matter. In fact, we must move first, because that is the key to getting others to follow; and because moving first is in our own national interest.

So I ask you to join with me to call on every candidate, at every level, to accept this challenge – for America to be running on 100 percent zero-carbon electricity in 10 years. It’s time for us to move beyond empty rhetoric. We need to act now.

This is a generational moment. A moment when we decide our own path and our collective fate. I’m asking you – each of you – to join me and build this future. Please join the WE campaign at wecansolveit.org.

We need you. And we need you now. We’re committed to changing not just light bulbs, but laws. And laws will only change with leadership.

On July 16, 1969, the United States of America was finally ready to meet President Kennedy’s challenge of landing Americans on the moon. I will never forget standing beside my father a few miles from the launch site, waiting for the giant Saturn 5 rocket to lift Apollo 11 into the sky. I was a young man, 21 years old, who had graduated from college a month before and was enlisting in the United States Army three weeks later.

I will never forget the inspiration of those minutes. The power and the vibration of the giant rocket’s engines shook my entire body. As I watched the rocket rise, slowly at first and then with great speed, the sound was deafening. We craned our necks to follow its path until we were looking straight up into the air. And then four days later, I watched along with hundreds of millions of others around the world as Neil Armstrong took one small step to the surface of the moon and changed the history of the human race.

We must now lift our nation to reach another goal that will change history. Our entire civilization depends upon us now embarking on a new journey of exploration and discovery. Our success depends on our willingness as a people to undertake this journey and to complete it within 10 years. Once again, we have an opportunity to take a giant leap for humankind.

Let us heed the call.  The crisis beckons us.  The time for change is now!  We can no longer wait.  The damage we have done must be repaired, and only humans can stop themselves from doing greater harm.  Please, cause no more destruction.  Consider daily deeds.  May we ponder the energy used and embrace the environment,  Mother Earth depends on us.

Al Gore, I, and all of nature thank you for all you do in the present to restore a healthy planet.  Let us not hesitate.  May we each do a bit more to ensure our Earth will be better.  Together we can repower and empower every entity if we work as one.  We Can Solve It, the climate crisis!  

Fly Me To The Moon

copyright © 2008 Forgiven. The Disputed Truth

There has been a lot of talk recently about the “energy crisis”. I wonder if this is the same energy crisis we heard about in the 70’s? If it is then that means for over 30 years instead of solving our domestic energy needs, we have ignored them and allowed them to grow. In 1970 we were importing about 24% of the oil we used and the embargo back then threw our economy into a tail-spin, imagine what would happen today when we import about 70%. Rather than using the past 30 plus years to develop new or existing technologies to reduce or break our dependence on oil, we have elected to do something worse than nothing. Instead of our vehicles getting smaller and more fuel efficient during this time they have actually gotten larger.

Today we as a nation and as a world face one of the most daunting and important tasks in the history of mankind. We must put an end to our usage and dependence on fossil fuels. They have created an economic drain on our resources and they are killing our planet. We are borrowing money from one foreign country to pay our oil bills from another foreign country. This should be our biggest national security issue, yet few people are saying anything. You see it is the old diversion or bait and switch tactics. Focus on the faceless terrorists while we are bled dry by the oil countries and companies. How long do you think we can continue our crusade in the Middle East occupying these countries and still be dependent on their oil reserves?

I remember when I was a child a speech I heard, it was in 1961. The speechmaker was then President John F. Kennedy and what he said seemed shocking to me at the time. He challenged this nation to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. Now imagine what that sounded like back then, many thought the man insane. Space exploration was still in it’s infant stages and the US was being beaten to every milestone by the Soviets. They had sent up the first satellite and the first man in space. The challenge seemed impossible at the time, after all space travel was the stuff of science fiction. But despite the overwhelming odds against the challenge enough of us accepted it and went about the business of making it a reality that we succeeded. Regardless of your opinion of the importance or relevance of space exploration, we all must marvel at the ingenuity we displayed as a nation to accomplish it.

Despite skeptics who thought it could not be accomplished, Kennedy’s dream became a reality on July 20, 1969, when Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong took a small step for himself and a giant step for humanity, leaving a dusty trail of footprints on the moon. CNN

Today we are being challenged by a different obstacle. One that I feel is vitally more important to not only us as a nation, but to the rest of the world. That challenge is how will we supply our energy needs into the future without destroying the planet we live on. The call has been sent up by both Al Gore and T. Boone Pickens as well as a host of other concerned citizens. The goal is to reduce and to eventually end our reliance on fossil fuels and replace them with clean renewable sources. Of course as with the naysayers of the 60’s there are those who say “it is too hard and we can’t do it”. There are those who want us to not only continue on this path of destruction but to escalate it by continuing to drill for fossil fuels no matter what the consequences.

It is sad to realize that we have become a nation of physically soft and intellectually lazy people. We have become fat, dumb, and happy. The energy companies would have us to believe that they will solve our energy needs for us. Are these the same energy companies that for the past 30 plus years have done absolutely nothing but rake in astronomical profits from fossil fuels and now they are going to put themselves out of business? Are these the same energy companies who in association with the automakers have given us the SUV and the Hummer as an answer to our shrinking energy supplies? It’s like the airplane is crashing and no one is saying a word. We all see it happening and everyone is just quietly sitting in their seat with their seatbelt on waiting on the inevitable crash.

“We are borrowing money from China to buy oil from the Persian Gulf to burn it in ways that destroy the planet. Every bit of that’s got to change,” the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 continued. “But if we grab hold of that common thread and pull it hard all of these complex problems begin to unravel and we will find that we are holding the answer to all of them right in our hand. The answer is to end our reliance on carbon-based fuels. I’m convinced that one reason we’ve seemed paralyzed in the face of these crises is our tendency to offer old solutions to each crisis separately – without taking the others into account. And these outdated proposals have not only been ineffective – they almost always make the other crises even worse.” Mongabay

This was from a speech given by Al Gore where he makes a direct appeal to the nation much in the same way that JFK did 40 years ago. Every time I see Al Gore I am reminded of what could have been done if he had been seated as President. That election and the following one demonstrates for those willing to see the state of our nation. George Bush offered us all the things we wanted with none of the sacrifice. He was the snake oil salesman who promised us panacea in a bottle. Al Gore on the other hand presented us with challenges which would have required sacrifice. Many of us chose the snake oil, because it was easier. The time for easy is over. There are no more easy answers. There are no more tax-cuts and war; there is no more deregulation without foreclosures.

The U.S. should switch to the use of natural gas-powered vehicles for a chunk of the national fleet, Pickens said.

“Natural gas is cleaner, it’s cheaper, it’s abundant and it’s domestic,” Pickens said.

Natural gas generates about 22 percent of the country’s electricity. If most of that natural gas was diverted from electricity generation to fuel for cars and trucks, and if wind turbines generate that electricity instead, that would cut demand for imported oil by about $300 billion a year at today’s prices, Pickens said.  Straight Stocks

We have the technology to begin to solve our problems, the question then is do we have the will? Are we willing as a nation to take up the challenge and change the way we live for the good of all? Or shall we continue to be the selfish bullies of the world consuming the lion share of all the natural resources despite our small numbers? The challenge is there for us as a nation and with all that is at stake how can we not accept it. Many people falsely believe that if we change that jobs will be lost and our economy will tank, but I ask you to remember all of the industries and products that were spawned by the space industry. It may even return us to a nation of producers and not just the biggest consumers on the planet. Anyone for a flight to the moon?

The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie — deliberate, contrived and dishonest — but the myth — persistent, persuasive and unrealistic.

~ John F. Kennedy

Offshore drilling is the answer? Really?

To view the original art, please travel to Offshore drilling is the answer? Really?

copyright © 2008.  Andrew Wahl.  Off The Wahl Perspective.

The sad reality of politics-as-usual seems to make the development of a sustainable energy policy almost impossible.  We need bold leadership right now, both to retool our economy and reverse the terrible damage we’re doing to the global ecosystem.  Instead, we get . . . offshore drilling? That’s obviously not the answer to “The Oil Problem,” short- or long-term.

At this point, we need to face the fact that change is inevitable.  The only question is what that inevitability will be: a quick transition to a post-fossil-fuel economy, or the devastating effects of our refusal to do so.

Where Is the Beef? Where Are the Bees? Planet in Peril

Slaughterhouse Investigation: Cruel and Unhealthy Practices

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

You may wish to review an earlier reflection, California Slaughterhouse; Human Cruelty Exposed

Late in January 2008, Americans read the startling news, Video Reveals Violations of Laws, Abuse of Cows at Slaughterhouse.  Tears were shed by some; most turned away.  The footage was too graphic.  Countless wished to remain removed from a reality they do not wish to witness.  Reports, of brutal treatment towards beefy cattle, were received by many as is steak on a plate.  Those who eat the meat think it  sad that a cow must be sacrificed in order to fill a human stomach.  Nonetheless, numerous persons believe man kills “lower” forms of life; that is the natural order.  

After the revelation, not much changed.  Throughout the nation people continued as they had.  Weeks passed.  Those categorized as the highly intelligent, and humane, had greater concerns than cattle or the cruelty inflicted upon these beast.  Matters of consequence were and are far more critical than fallen cows.  Decision-makers at the morally condemned abattoir understood the more crucial issue would be public relations.  If earnings are to be maintained and profits sustained some action must be taken.  The reputation of the business was at stake [steak].  Embarrassed by the audio-visual documentation of doings within the plant, Chief Executives at the Westland – Hallmark Meat Company, ordered the  Largest Recall of Ground Beef ever.

The meat packaging plant issued a warning.  Consumers were asked to return a full 143 million pounds plus, of beef.  Meat produced over the last two years was included in the cautionary measures.  

More than a third of the 143 million pounds of California beef recalled this week went to school lunch programs, with at least 20 million pounds consumed, Agriculture Department officials said Thursday.

About 50 million pounds of the meat went to schools, said Eric Steiner, deputy administrator of special nutrition programs for the department’s Food and Nutrition Service.

Of that amount, about 20 million pounds has been eaten, 15 million pounds is on hold at storage facilities and 15 million pounds is still being traced, he said.

Conceivably, the scope was too broad.  Consumers became frightened.  The public panicked  Parents feared for the children.  Schools worried; as recipients and distributors of large quantities of the beef would they be liable.  

As awareness increased for the possibly tainted beef, an anxious public cried, “How many people need to get sick, or die, before Congress starts to repair and modernize the nation’s food safety system?”  Americans remembered other recent recalls and clamored, someone must be held accountable.  People blamed the Bush Administration for this “turn” of events.  Periodicals offer resounding criticisms.  No one spoke of the duplicity.  Why is it considered cruel to abuse the animal you are prepared to kill?

Instead of strengthening the government’s regulatory systems, the Bush administration has spent years cutting budgets and filling top jobs with industry favorites.  The evidence of their failures keep mounting: contaminated spinach, poisoned pet food, tainted fish.

There was and is much to speak of, more to scrutinize.  Infected food can cause death.  Yet, no one places the onus on those who passively accept food industry standards, the American people.  The official word of the Federal Food and Drug Administration, which relaxed regulations decades ago, escapes censure as well.  Citizens no longer recall that this branch of government loosened standards, and allowed the industry to define what might be acceptable fodder.

[In] 1958, the definition of pantry goods had changed substantially.  New food products and a newly competitive refrigerated and frozen goods industry that developed in the domestic marketplace after World War II had literally redefined the household pantry.  As the number of new processed and fabricated foods grew, the government spent less time issuing refined standards for products such as raisin bread and egg bread, and more time establishing new standards for products such as frozen orange juice, frozen “TV” dinners, frozen breaded shrimp, freeze dried coffee, and “instant chocolate drinks.”  As soon as the Food Additives Amendment was in place, FDA began to experiment with less restrictive food standards than the strict “recipe standards” that had predominated in the standards program.  

In 1961, FDA first deviated from the recipe approach when it issued standards for “frozen raw breaded shrimp” which simply provided for the use of “safe and suitable” batter and breading ingredients, rather than listing all optional ingredients individually.  A legal definition of “safe and suitable” was later codified and used to allow “safe and suitable preservatives” or “safe and suitable emulsifiers.”

This action was taken at the bequest of businesses.  Food producers found the shift necessary.  Congress never challenged the move or the measure.  Communities nationwide did not question the wisdom of this action.  Just as Americans accept that we must kill animals and eat them in order to survive, we also understand that when definitions or circumstances make our daily life more convenient, that cannot be all bad.  Even the skeptical among us have faith no business or government agency would intentionally harm patrons, the people, or the planet.

Hence, as long as industry is regulated, and the government classifies food, or chemical substitutes as safe, there is no reason to question what appears on American plates.  Events such as the one at this particular slaughterhouse are an anomaly.  

Americans trust they system and did as they characteristically do.  They heard the warnings and worried not.  Authorities would take care of the situation.  We will survive.  The world is a wondrous place.

Humans rather not reflect on the possibility the treatment of cows relates to a broader reality.  The planet is in peril.  Downer cows lifted so that they might be butchered for food, speaks of more than a single slaughterhouse or situation.  Yet, Americans and other world inhabitants do not wish to discuss what is.

This story is not merely about how humans murder another mammal with malice, or how the master of the universe, man, with his magnificent mind rationalizes what he knows to be morally wrong.  This tale offers a reflection too long ignored.  Humans hungry, and habitual in nature, do not chew on the thought . . .

The food chain is a complex balance of life.  If one animals source of food disappears, such as from over fishing or hunting, many other animals in the food chain are impacted and may die.

Man in his infinite wisdom has altered the balance of nature.  People do not consider, what they have done to the animals, insects, all the inhabitants they classify as lesser beings.  Humans do not wish to acknowledge they have killed off many species.  One extinction leads to another, then another, and finally, if we follow the chain, to total inhalation.  A productive planet can die just and its inhabitants without insight might perish sooner than later.

Perchance, nature will remind those hard of heart.  Kill fellow organisms, murder the mortal, and Mother Nature will politely, slowly, and subtly punish you for your selfish aggressions.  

The lovely lady who breathes life into man and beast tries to tell man-kind [sic], be cautious.  Earth, in all her elegance gives humans brains enough to realize life on this planet is pained.  The treatment of cattle helps to explain how man threatens Earth.

Humans brutally slaughter the cattle and the cows return the favor.  Life is cyclical.  Relationships are symbiotic.  Try as man might to control Mother Nature, he cannot combat the fluid energy that created him.

The livestock sector emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global.

Livestock’s long shadow, a report released by the Livestock, Environmental, and Development [LEAD] initiative tells a tale of woe that is worrisome.  Worldwide, man, in his zeal to eat the flesh of cattle, degrades the land, changes the climate, pollutes the air and water, causes water shortage, and engenders loss of biodiversity.  ? The adage, ‘kill or be killed’ might be better stated, ‘slay and be slain.’

The livestock sector is by far the single largest anthropogenic user of land.  The total area occupied by grazing is equivalent to 26 percent of the ice-free terrestrial surface of the planet. In addition, the total area dedicated to feedcrop production amounts to 33 percent of total arable land.

In all, livestock production accounts for 70 percent of all agricultural land and 30 percent of the land surface of the planet. ?Expansion of livestock production is a key factor in deforestation, especially in Latin America where the greatest amount of deforestation is occurring – 70 percent of previous forested land in the Amazon is occupied by pastures, and feedcrops cover a large part of the remainder.

About 20 percent of the world’s pastures and rangelands, with 73 percent of rangelands in dry areas, have been degraded to some extent, mostly through overgrazing, compaction, and erosion created by livestock action. The dry lands in particular are affected by these trends, as livestock are often the only source of livelihoods for the people living in these areas.

A society dependent on meat production destroys the delicate balance that sustains life on this globe. Yet, to look at cows in the field, one would never know.  Most who see cattle graze feel a sense of serenity.  Few of us consider cows in the countryside a problem.  After all, we were raised to appreciate these animals for what they provide.

Americans, carnivores and omnivores that we are, can claim, ‘Look at all that life.’  Few satiated humans whose stomach bulge, state, ‘Look at all that death and destruction.’  Climate change, as it slowly creeps into consciousness, does not startle us as it might.  Humans barely notice the nuances.  

With rising temperatures, rising sea levels, melting icecaps and glaciers, shifting ocean currents and weather patterns, climate change is the most serious challenge facing the human race.  ?The livestock sector is a major player, responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions measured in CO2 equivalent. This is a higher share than transport. ?

The livestock sector accounts for 9 percent of anthropogenic CO2 emissions. The largest share of this derives from land-use changes – especially deforestation – caused by expansion of pastures and arable land for feedcrops. . . .

It is probably the largest sectoral source of water pollution, contributing to eutrophication, “dead” zones in coastal areas, degradation of coral reefs, human health problems, emergence of antibiotic resistance, and many others.  The major sources of pollution are from animal wastes, antibiotics and hormones, chemicals from tanneries, fertilizers and pesticides used for feedcrops, and sediments from eroded pastures.

Global figures are not available but in the United States, with the world’s fourth largest land area, livestock are responsible for an estimated 55 percent of erosion and sediment, 37 percent of pesticide use, 50 percent of antibiotic use, and a third of the loads of nitrogen and phosphorus into freshwater resources.

The brown-eyed beauties are not the problem.  It is man who has chosen to cultivate a crop of beef that destroys the planet.  Humans, intent on self-service kill the cattle brutally, and will ultimately kill themselves if they continue to ignore the signs.  Currently, the extinction of bee colonies throughout the planet is not considered a priority; yet, it is more evidence that something has gone wrong.  As absurd as it may seem some researchers claim cell telephones emit radiation and this effects the honeybees ability to navigate.  Others argue, that theory is preposterous.  Numerous refute claims they deem science fiction.  

Nevertheless, honeybees are the most important insects in the human food chain.  Little buzzers are the principal pollinators of hundreds of fruits, vegetables, flowers, and nuts. In the last three scores years, or more, the number of bee colonies has declined.  In October 2007, as honey bee colonies collapsed, a study by the National Academy of Sciences, Colony Collapse Disorder and Pollinator Decline, suggests American agriculture may place too great a reliance on one type of pollinator, the honeybee.  Other investigations focus on the reason for the threat of  an apparent bee colony collapse.

Genetic testing at Columbia University has revealed the presence of multiple micro-organisms in bees from hives or colonies that are in decline, suggesting that something is weakening their immune system.  The researchers have found some fungi in the affected bees that are found in humans whose immune systems have been suppressed by the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or cancer.

“That is extremely unusual,” Dr. Cox-Foster said.

Meanwhile, samples were sent to an Agriculture Department laboratory in North Carolina this month to screen for 117 chemicals. Particular suspicion falls on a pesticide that France banned out of concern that it may have been decimating bee colonies. Concern has also mounted among public officials.

“There are so many of our crops that require pollinators,” said Representative Dennis Cardoza, a California Democrat whose district includes that state’s central agricultural valley, and who presided last month at a Congressional hearing on the bee issue. “We need an urgent call to arms to try to ascertain what is really going on here with the bees, and bring as much science as we possibly can to bear on the problem.”

Science is endorsed as the solution. However, the discipline remains part of the problem.  Man cannot study as quickly as Mother Nature moves.  Anthropoids do not understand that nature is fluid, chaotic, and not easily categorized.  It cannot be controlled, but it can be corrupted.  What humans have yet to comprehend is the effect they have on what they have and have not discovered.

Life on Earth is in the early stages of the worst mass extinction since the end of the Cretaceous.  Many species are likely go extinct before they are even discovered and named by biologists.  Of the estimated 10 to 20 million species living on Earth, only 10 percent have been described in the past 250 years. Dr. Edward O. Wilson, Professor Emeritus at the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, proposes that the remaining 90 percent must be described in one-tenth that time to save millions of species from extinction.

According to Doctor Wilson, a renowned expert on biodiversity, megafauna are dying out.  The tuatara, the lizard-like reptile on New Zealand, the kagu, a crane-like bird with a big plume of feathers in New Caledonia an island in the south Pacific, the Sumatran rhino and the hairy rhinoceros of Europe “were wiped out before humans even had a conscience.”  If we continue to consume or ‘control’ as we do, complete extinction may be inevitable, with thanks or no thanks to the knowledge gained by the study of the physical world.

The statistics are staggering.  Annihilation in the animal kingdom is ample.  If we were only assess to what is observable among the insect community, we might realize there is reason to be startled.  A known fact is, in America alone, 27 states have experienced bee colony collapse.  Countries abroad document the same disorder.

Bee Alert Technology Inc., a company monitoring the problem.  A recent survey of 13 states by the Apiary Inspectors of America showed that 26 percent of beekeepers had lost half of their bee colonies between September and March. . . .

These bees may suffer from a diet that includes artificial supplements, concoctions akin to energy drinks and power bars. In several states, suburban sprawl has limited the bees’ natural forage areas.

So far, the researchers have discounted the possibility that poor diet alone could be responsible for the widespread losses. They have also set aside for now the possibility that the cause could be bees feeding from a commonly used genetically modified crop, Bt corn, because the symptoms typically associated with toxins, such as blood poisoning, are not showing up in the affected bees.  But researchers emphasized today that feeding supplements produced from genetically modified crops, such as high-fructose corn syrup, need to be studied.

The food now available to the honey bees harms them.  The fodder that humans ingest is arguably not healthy.  The analysis absent in each of these scenarios, stories of beef and bees, is how humans destroy the gift of life.  In our fervor to fulfill self, we sacrifice our souls.  Man, in his infinite desire to control and consume, alters crops, raises cattle only to satisfy a stomach too large, and gratify a spirit too small.  Humans hurt honeybees, the helpers of every man, woman, and child.  All suffer at the hands of those beings who pride themselves on having a brain; yet have forgotten what it might mean to have a heart.

Devour The Earth (Good Documentary)(PART 2)

The Beef, The Bees, The Brutality . . .

Invasion of the Corporate Destroyers

copyright © Judith Moriarty

The Corporate Destroyer is a peculiar mutation of man.  It is known for its inactivity in the practice of any virtue.  He is found in several different forms throughout the government, business, and nations.  The fruits of his labors can be seen throughout the earth in ‘greed, sloth, pride, wrath, avarice, envy, lust, and gluttony’.  Absent conscience or allegiance to any land, this mutant will use any means necessary to feed his insatiable appetite.  

His claim to fame is identified as being the seven deadly sins!

The Corporate Destroyer, and his cohorts, enter into naive, economically depressed communities, under the guise of JOBS.  They gather millions in grants, and various subsidies to set up shop.  Ironically, the taxpayer subsidies his employment (without royalty checks).  Being privately owned (ex: Ice River Springs) without public stock trading, they don’t have to reveal many of their operations / finances etc.  Being (many) foreign, they are extended ‘special benefits’ in various trade agreements.

Bird found with bottle caps from plastic water bottles.

This plastic is choking and poisoning the whole of the earth.  Consumers have been ‘programmed’ to believe, that water bottled from the TAP (called purified), or from some ‘unknown’ spring (not the picture on the bottle) is healthy?  The fact that plastic does not degrade, and is now being found in birds, fish, etc, is not part of the PR presentation to a town.  Conservation?  Huh?  The oil needed to make these plastic bottles for U.S.  shoppers; uses 1.5 million barrels of crude oil each year.  These approximately 52 billion plastic bottles end up in landfills – incinerated (toxins) in the oceans and on the beaches, or in birds and sea life.  

Next comes garbage; tons and tons and millions of tons.  The ‘Corporate Destroyer’ and his partners have now been ‘appointed’ to the most important jobs in Washington.  With the influence of lobbyists and campaign contributions, they write their own meal tickets (excusing themselves from responsibility & liabilities).  In rural places like Bethlehem, NH (above), which was once a health resort, there are approx 2.3 million TONS of other people’s garbage.  They (the waste destroyers) are cutting down the trees, to make room, for the excesses of a materialistic – mind-numbed society.  “I speak for the trees for the trees have no tongue.”  Dr.Seuss

The whales and the porpoises are dying of ruptured brains as the Navy trains for moneyed war (sonar – explosions).  The Navy did a study and reported that all is well – these explosions don’t kill nor does sonar confuse or rupture the eardrums of whales/porpoises!  Why they all must be committing mass suicide?

The ‘weapons of mass destruction’ for the native people’s of the world (from Indonesia to the rain forests in South America) are Corporate Sloth and his malignant buddies.  War and terrorism come in many forms.  For those who reside deep in remote jungles; its the timber companies – gas, and the OIL maggots.  Hired thugs kill those who object to their lands being plundered.  This never makes the national news.  Who are the truly civilized in this world?  Those in suits who destroy whole lands with the push of a pencil or the natives who are one with the earth?  And when the last tree is felled – it won’t matter if there’s anyone there to hear it!

Something awful is happening.  It is horrifying that citizens have to FIGHT their own government (federal – state – local) to save the environment/ protect their water and the health of their children.  No matter the deformity found in an animal, there’s a benign yawn, from those appointed to care,  announcing; ‘it must be a virus’?  The frogs in the environment are the canaries of the mines (used to detect gas).  Washington’s answer is to hide the ‘cage’.

Millions of fish are dying and they’re tearing down the Appalachian Mountains (for coal).  The inconvenient truth, of what these ‘Corporate Hucksters ‘ are ravishing, raping, and clear cutting etc; can’t compete with the news of car chases, Paris Hilton’s jail experience, or sports stars on steroids.  

War – forever war!  All the Destroyers (sloth, envy, pride, wrath, lust, etc) are profiting from this.  War is good for the economy.  It raises the price of weapons manufacturing stocks, makes billions for private contractors, oil interests, and investors.  A vote for the right bill will keep those campaign coffers filled!  It also is a great dumping ground (put into weapons) for all that depleted uranium (half life 4 billion years).  

“One cannot pluck a flower without troubling a star.”  Francis Thompson  

If the truth be told: “Unless someone like you cares an awful lot, nothing is going to get better.  It’s not.”  Dr.Seuss / The Lomax  


Mother Earth; Story of Stuff or The Seventh Generation

Movie Documentary – The Story of Stuff – Consumption, money, nature, environment

copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

Mother Nature is replete with resources.  Americans, with infinite ingenuity, wish to reap the rewards the planet offers.  We, in this country, claim the riches the land affords us; we do this well and often.  For us, every moment is an opportunity to give and receive stuff.

In America, what was once thought a “bundle of joy” is not enough.  In March 2007, Jena Slosberg of Bedford, New Hampshire became a new Mom after a seventeen-hour labor.  Her skin was aglow as the young mother held the manna from heaven.  Her husband Paul, stood by her side and smiled.  The proud Papa bestowed not the baby of their dreams, but something a bit more valuable, monetarily.  In the recovery room,  Paul presented his wife with a pair of sparkling diamond earrings.  The two beamed with pride.  

The little one was set aside as the couple contemplated the more substantial treasures.  Just as Jena and Paul, Americans love material possessions, perhaps more than they appreciate people.  In this nation, we do not honor the notion that we must live for the Seventh Generation. The time is now.  In the “present,” Jena spoke of her gemstones with great glee as she reflected upon the future.

“I was on cloud nine,” Ms. Slosberg said.  “It was the perfect present to make a frazzled, sleep-deprived, first-time mommy feel absolutely glamorous.”

She added, “I wonder what 17 hours of labor will get me next time?”

In a more innocent age, new mothers generally considered their babies to be the greatest gift imaginable.  Today, they are likely to want some sort of tangible bonus as well.

In a world of trinkets, trifle, ornamentation, and bling, babies are but a blip on the screen of life.  Too often infants conceived though intimate acts are as possessions, important for what they say about us, and there is much to say.  During the holiday season, people consider the importance of being benevolent and charitable.  We bless the almighty or those mighty in our lives.  We are grateful for our bountiful pleasures.  As a new mother might thank goodness for her healthy child, Americans express gratitude for all those close to them, or so we say.  

However, as we venture out into the malls, journey into brick and mortar stores, or shop in cyberspace we might take a moment to consider what we do and why.  How do our purchases affect us as a whole.  Perchance, the earlier discussion of newborns provides enlightenment; the narrative helps us understand the Story of Stuff.

Some call it the “baby mama gift.”  Others refer to it as the “baby bauble.”  But it’s most popularly known as the “push present.”

That’s “push” as in, “I the mother, having been through the wringer and pushed out this blessed event, hereby claim my reward.”  Or “push” as in, “I’ve delivered something special and now I’m pushing you, my husband/boyfriend, to follow suit.”

Americans are “pushed” to purchase as we do.  Numerous social scientists posit this is the Century of Self.  The line is now blurred between want and need, nourishment and necessary, conservative, and conservation.  Consumption, for its own sake, is promoted in this, the era of Public Relations.   Sadly, specialists in communications often honor commercial concerns, not those of the preservationist.  

Propaganda is bought, and sold, although we do not use such a derogatory identifier for advertisements.  The public is persuaded; shop til you drop.  Nonetheless, in each and every moment Americans are convinced they must live a lavish life if they are to find joy.  Expensive material gifts will bring you happiness and glee.  

In our modern society, people realize they must labor long and arduous hours if they are to pay the price for simple pleasures.  Others, such as Jena believe their labor of love will yield grand chattels.  Apparently, in the last few years, many first-time mothers think as Mommy Slosberg does.

“It’s more and more an expectation of moms these days that they deserve something for bearing the burden for nine months, getting sick, ruining their body,” said Linda Murray, executive editor of BabyCenter.com. “The guilt really gets piled on.”

A recent survey of more than 30,000 respondents by BabyCenter.com found that 38 percent of new mothers received a gift from their mate in connection with their child.  Among pregnant mothers, 55 percent wanted one.  About 40 percent of both groups said the baby was ample reward.

Sandra Miller of Arlington, Mass., is not among the 40 percent.

“Women can and do expect a thoughtful token of appreciation,” she said.  “It’s a way to honor a mother giving her emotions, body and hormones over to a baby for nine months, culminating in an experience which, when done naturally, redefines the meaning of pain.  And when not done naturally, it’s still an act of sacrifice.”

Apparently, today more than half of the new mothers in America think they have suffered.  Therefore, they must be rewarded.  Women believe when they choose to give birth they forfeit their figure.  New moms surrender more than a few seconds of their lives.  These feminine embryo vessels are deprived and chemically depleted.  Daddies owe their spouse or female partner a present or two.  At least one big package is a must, and she does not speak of the bundle named baby.

It seems in America we do not give credence to the notion, commercials cause us to commit to an accepted custom, consumption.  Merchandisers do not make us leap from our chair; nor do they have the power to force us to dash downtown before the boutiques close.  Perchance, empathy encourages us to do as we do. Possibly, the father feels he was free to be, as his woman carried such a burden.  If not guilt-ridden, or worn into submission, a proud Papa believes he owes his beloved a bauble, a bracelet, a token of some sort.

Push presents seem to have taken off within the last decade, particularly in the last couple of years.  In 2005 the Southeast-based jewelry chain Mayors marketed diamond earrings with the tag line, “She delivered your first born; now give her twins.”  Fortunoff, the jewelry and gift chain with a Fifth Avenue flagship, established a push present registry six months ago.

But the push present – unlike the 15-year anniversary ring – is apparently not the invention of the jewelry industry looking for another opportunity to sell goods. No one is quite sure how the trend began; in practice, the baubles are presented before or after the big day, or sometimes right in the delivery room.

“They’ve arisen from the time cavemen brought trinkets to their wives,” said Jim Brusilovsky of Chains-and-charms.com, a Philadelphia-based jewelry chain. “I haven’t seen it coming from the industry.”

Michael Toback, a jewelry supplier in Manhattan’s diamond district, traces the practice to a new posture of assertiveness by women. “You know, ‘Honey, you wanted this child as much as I did. So I want this,'” he said.

A more likely explanation is that men are now simply more aware of and sympathetic to the plight of their pregnant partners, given their increasing tendency to attend childbirth classes and help in the actual delivery.  “I think husbands are more involved with the prenatal process,” said Dr. Philippe Girerd, an obstetrician in Richmond, Va. “Women go through back pain, morning sickness, stress and so on.  We just sit around and take the credit.  I think a lot of 21st century husbands are a little more in touch with that.”

Yes, that is it.  Empathy, sympathy pains prompt men, women, and children to shop.  Ties the season to be jolly, and to do this we must feel for our wife, husband, daughter, or son.  Late in November, we gave thanks; however, then the gift of food was the focus.  Mostly, we rewarded our stomachs.  The turkey was stuffed and so were we.  Now, in the spirit of the holidays, we will stuff our face, our stockings, our homes, and garages.  We will fill our rooms with treasures until we can fill no more.  Then we will expand our horizons.  Each of us will bestow gifts upon those we love.

It is Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza, and Ramadan; in truth, any excuse will do.  We need no reason to spend and spread the cheer.  Any day, every day is a celebration when you are an American consumer.

Citizens who reside in the United States are taught to consume.  As children, we were delighted when commercials rang out on the radio or danced across screens.  As toddlers we heard the cheery music, sang the jingles that we still recall today.  We strolled through the supermarkets with Mommy and Daddy.  All was attractive to us and was placed within our reach.  We grabbed for everything.

The brightly colored boxes, the sweet sugary confections, and the vibrant balloons that hung overhead, all called to us.  The stickers, soda cans, snacks . . . what more could a young person want but to buy, buy, and buy.  Mommy please, can I have this?  Daddy, I want that . . . As toddler we expected to be rewarded.  Did mother and father not say, if you are a good girl, the best boy, then I will give you a gift?  In our early years, we were trained, not only to use the toilet, but to buy.  We learned, if we acted as others hoped we would, they would give us gifts galore.  Things were surrogates for love.

Mom was too busy to pay attention to young John or Jane.  However, she had time to spend on shopping for Jill and Joshua.  Dad was overwhelmed with the demands of his job.  His boss brought more burdens.  Father was out, for he needed to provide [for Sam and Sally.]  The man we called Pop was gone.  Still the presents came.  “Daddy when you come home, what will you bring me?'”

As a tot, we learned; we needed stuff.  Stuff was our supplement for affection, adoration, devotion, and demonstrations of kindness.  Our hearts were empty.  There was a huge void to fill.  We did not just want goodies.  Trinkets were and are necessities.  Then and now Americans need, validation and vindication.  If we do not receive a present, certainly the reason must be vengeance.  No one would wish to leave the impression that they are bitter, rancorous, or unreasonable; thus, even if guilt motivates our purchases we will buy.  Young fathers such as Paul Schlosberg may not appreciate the presumption that he must pay his wife for bringing the bundle of joy into the universe.  Nevertheless, he is grateful.  Hence . . .

  • The average U.S. person now consumes twice as much as they did 50 years ago.

We are easily influenced, or convinced of what we already believe.

  • We each see more advertisements in one year than a people 50 years ago saw in a lifetime.

We do as directed.  Americans embark on a mission to consume.  During the holidays, even days before, we merely set our sights higher.  Most see this season as an opportunity to increase our standard of living, or at least our credit limit.  Our quest begins on Black Friday.   In the twenty-first century, there is no need to wait ’til dawn.  The race to rejoice in shopping with the religious holy days in mind inspires entrepreneurs to open shop doors before the sun rises.  By breakfast, the stores filled with people.  People scramble from one sale table to another.  Warehouse shelves are stocked, cleared by eager customers, and stocked again.  

Carolers sing as if to cheer the patrons on.  Procure, purchase, pay for your wares.  Do this in one depot then move on to another.  Collectibles, china, figurines, fine jewelry.  Clothing, cameras, computers, and candy.  Ties, tableware, television sets, high definition, and plasma screens.  Shoes are nice.  Do you know her size?  Digital Media Players, that is what he truly desires.  Software, hardware, perchance, an automobile would the perfect gift.  Let us look for sales and hope we are in time for bargains.

In times of strife, in moments of glory, no matter the season or the reason, in America we shop.  There is never enough stuff.  We are never satisfied.  We want a newer, brighter, lighter, convenient, compact, more powerful, more prestigious, more, more, and more.  “Too much is never enough.”  Yet, there is a price to pay.  Americans work longer hours.  We are less happy.  Our health is poor.  Citizens in this country are stressed.  No amount of stuff we have, nothing seems to satiate our need to feel whatever bliss buying brings us.

  • In the U.S. our national happiness peaked sometime in the 1950s.
  • In the U.S., we spend 3-4 times as many hours shopping as our counterparts in Europe do.

“Joy to the world, the Lord has come.”  Americans find him under a Christmas tree or beneath a Hanukah bush.  The divine may shine in the light from the candles.  A mishumaa saba or a menorah might light the way to the almighty.  Possibly, in America stuff is our G-d.

I, for one, love the traditions of the holidays.  Every time-honored festivity warms my heart.  However, much to my surprise, only when my family chose to forego the exchange of ‘goodies’ did I truly learn to appreciate the winter solstice and the time spent with those I truly treasure.  In truth, a much as I protested the change, and I did, every day of my life has been far better since I “sacrificed” the joy of conventional gift giving or more accurately taking from the Earth.

  • In the past three decades, one-third of the planet’s natural resources base have been consumed.
  • In the United States, we have less than 4% of our original forests left.
  • Forty percent of waterways in the US have become undrinkable.
  • The U.S. has 5% of the world’s population but consumes 30% of the world’s resources4 and creates 30% of the world’s waste.
  • If everybody consumed at U.S. rates, we would need 3 to 5 planets.

As much as we have in America, it seems what we acquire is never enough.  Marketers and manufactures know this.  Perhaps the awareness grew out of the era of Freud.

Edward L. Bernays, an early leader in the public relations field, and often described as the Father of Public Relations, devised or developed many techniques for influencing public opinion.  During the Industrial Revolution Mr. Bernays, a nephew of Sigmund Freud, realized that if you persuade people to behave irrationally if you link products to their emotional desires and feelings you can sell any product.  Bernays understood if an advertisement attempts to appeal to the intellect, it will not likely be successful.  People will ultimately conclude they do not need more than they can afford or use.  However, if you allure and entice a person to desire an object, they will justify that what they want is what they truly require.

During the Industrial Revolution production increased, workers were employed.  Money began to flow.  However, the corporate bigwigs had a fear.  What would happen once the market was saturated?  Bernays trusted, if people were trained to believe they need what they  merely want, the streets would never be sparse.  Shops would be full, and there would be customers aplenty.  Economically, the marketplace would work efficiently, if advertisements were presented effectively.  Charm the customer to consume and he will do so eternally.  Edward Bernays appreciated this construct early in his life.

Born on Nov. 22, 1891, Mr. Bernays was one of five children of Ely Bernays and Anna Freud Bernays.  The family moved in 1892 to the United States, and in 1912, Mr. Bernays graduated from Cornell University.  After doing United States Government war propaganda work in World War I, Mr. Bernays realized that, as he put it in the 1991 interview, “if this could be used for war, it can be used for peace.” . . .

Some of Mr. Bernays’s promotion efforts became legendary. To promote Ivory soap and make bathing more popular with children, he set up a national small-sculpture panel that for years oversaw soap-carving competitions.

Several of the societal changes that Mr. Bernays espoused for clients have had long-lasting effects. For instance, he was instrumental in making it acceptable for women to smoke in public, sponsoring, on behalf of the American Tobacco Company’s Lucky Strike cigarettes, demonstrations in which debutantes gathered on street corners to light up. The cigarettes were even called “torches of freedom.”

On behalf of Lucky Strike, Mr. Bernays also undertook to alter women’s fashions. When surveys showed that women objected to Luckies because the green package with its red bull’s-eye clashed with the colors of their clothes, he swung into action to make green fashionable. There followed a green fashion luncheon, green balls (at which green gowns were worn), and window displays of green suits and dresses. The campaign was a brilliant success, according to sales figures.

He regarded himself as a professional opinion maker who, by following precise principles, could produce desired changes in attitudes.

“Public relations, effectively used, helps validate an underlying principle of our society — competition in the market place of ideas and things,” he wrote in 1971.

. . . One of his early public relations strokes was on behalf of Venida hairnets. When women began to bob their hair after World War I, they discarded hairnets, much to the distress of hairnet manufacturers.

Venida, an industry leader, called in Mr. Bernays, who conducted a public relations campaign for the product. Among other things, he got artists to praise the “Greek coiffure” look that hairnets gave their wearers. And he got a labor expert to urge labor commissioners around the country to insist that women working with or near machines wear hairnets for their own protection. Much favorable publicity ensued.

In this, as in similar campaigns, Mr. Bernays’s approach was oblique. The emphasis was on hairnets, not on Venida. Indeed, Venida was rarely mentioned at all.

While we are all aware of brand loyalty, and accept that a name can sell a product, there must be an emotional connection to ensure a customer will be devoted throughout their lifetime. Manufacturers accepted they must maintain a certain standard of excellence to secure dedication.  However, industrialists also knew, once a consumer believed implicitly in a product, it was difficult to convince them to venture far from the familiar.  Diamonds will be forever.  A De Beers [if not a blood gem] is truly a prize.  Did Paul buy Jena the best?

Industry moguls in America love that humans have a deep desire to satisfy every emotion with stuff.  To appease the inner angst that we might be good enough we must embellish ourselves.  To quell the anxiety we feel when we consider we might go without we must horde.  If we are to honor others, we must give.  

Hence, companies in the United States produce and do so with abandon.  Manufacturers seek ways to make the wares more attractive to consumers.  Years ago, companies realized if they use synthetic material and relied on the miracle of chemistry they could generate more goods at a lower price.  Thus, profits would increase.  Artificial substances were less expensive and more easily accessed.  The costs of the final product must be kept low in order to attract consumers.  

[T]he materials move to “production” and what happens there is we use energy to mix toxic chemicals in with the natural resources to make toxic contaminated products.  There are over 100,000 synthetic chemicals in commerce today.  Only a handful of these have even been tested for human health impacts and NONE of them have been tested for synergistic health impacts, that means when they interact with all the other chemicals we’re exposed to every day.

So, we don’t know the full impact of these toxics on our health and environment of all these toxic chemicals.  But we do know one thing: Toxics in, Toxics Out.  As long as we keep putting toxics into our production system, we are going to keep getting toxics in the stuff that we bring into our homes, our workplaces, and schools. And, duh, our bodies.  These toxics build up in the food chain and concentrate in our bodies.

Do you know what is the food at the top of the food chain with the highest levels of many toxic contaminants?

Human breast milk.  [Oh no.  Again, we are reminded of the Schlosberg’s.  Is mother’s milk contaminated?  Will the baby be affected, if not by a consumer driven society, but by a basic source of nourishment.]

That means that we have reached a point where the smallest members of our societies-our babies-are getting their highest lifetime dose of toxic chemicals from breastfeeding from their mothers.  Is that not an incredible violation?  Breastfeeding must be the most fundamental human act of nurturing; it should be sacred and safe.  Now breastfeeding is still best and mothers should definitely keep breastfeeding, but we should protect it.  They [government] should protect it.  I thought they were looking out for us.

And of course, the people who bear the biggest brunt of these toxic chemicals are the factory workers many of whom are women of reproductive age.  They’re working with reproductive toxics, carcinogens and more.

Diamond earrings will not reduce the effect lethal chemicals have on the body.  A silk scarf, even on sale will not soothe the lesions from skin cancer.  Even those fortunate females not exposed to deadly poisons in the workplace cannot escape the contaminants placed into the environment.  Emotionally, they may work to escape.  After all, there is always the best American distraction, shopping.  Let us head for the exits quickly after the work day ends.  Let us leave the our worries behind, if we can.

A lot of the toxics leave the factory as products, but even more leave as byproducts, or pollution.  And it’s a lot of pollution.  In the U.S., industry admits to releasing over 4 billion pounds of toxic chemicals a year and it’s probably way more since that is only what they admit.

So, that’s another limit, because, yuck, who wants to look at and smell 4 billion pounds of toxic chemicals

a year?

So, what do they do?  Move the dirty factories overseas.  Pollute someone else’s land [and use their resources!] . . .

  • 75% of global fisheries now are fished at or beyond capacity.
  • 80% of the planet’s original forests are gone.
  • In the Amazon alone, we’re losing 2000 trees a minute. That is seven football fields a minute.

Americans seem to believe what is out of sight, exists no more.  If we cannot smell the stench, there is none.  If we cannot feel the dirt the air, water, and ground must be clean.  However, as inhabitants of this planet, we must recognize that this is not so.  The third astronomical body from the sun, houses us all.  Every tree, plant, reptile, amphibian, mammal, insects has a purpose.  Each entity helps the other sustain life.

We must accept that not only Americans live here on the home we call Earth.  Persons, and all other life forms on every continent need and want a pristine wilderness.  A crystal clear lake is more than beautiful.  A blue sky is not but a term used in poetry.  Trees, flowers, the flora feed us all bug and beast.  Each entity is important and must be honored more than the frivolous fabrics that fill this nation.  [Is the baby a bundle of joy or is the signature blue box from Tiffany’s even better.]

Science tells us, in this huge planetary home contamination cannot be contained.  Every river and sea connects to another.  Air flows.  Landmasses shift; they are filled.  Dust is in the wind.  Nothing in nature is static.  The more stuff we create, the more we need to accommodate.  Americans try to adjust to the reality of consumption.  We build bigger homes to hold all our stuff.  Then we clean these structures.  We want no visible waste.

  • Average U.S. house size has doubled since the 1970s.
  • Each person in the United States makes 4 1/2 pounds of garbage a day.  That is twice what we each made thirty years ago.
  • For every one garbage can of waste you put out on the curb, 70 garbage cans of waste were made upstream to make the junk in that one garbage can you put out on the curb.

Americans must stop and consider the force that drives us . . .


. . . This is the heart of the system, the engine that drives it. It is so important [to propping up this whole flawed system] that protecting this arrow is a top priority for both these guys.

That is why, after 9/11, when our country was in shock, President Bush could have suggested any number of appropriate things: to grieve, to pray, to hope.  NO.  He said to shop TO SHOP.

We have become a nation of consumers. Our primary identity has become that of consumer, not mothers, teachers, farmers, but consumers.  The primary way that our value is measured and demonstrated is by how much we contribute to this arrow, how much we consume. And do we!

We shop and shop and shop.  Keep the materials flowing.  And flow they do!

Guess what percentage of total material flow through this system is still in product or use 6 months after their sale in North America.  Fifty percent?  Twenty?   NO.  One percent.   One! In other words, 99 percent of the stuff we harvest, mine, process, transport -99 percent of the stuff we run through this system is trashed within 6 months. Now how can we run a planet with that rate of materials throughput?

Dear reader, you might say as I did.  This could not be true.  I keep what I buy.  I use each item until I can use it no more.  Well, except for the clothes, I purchased and never wore, or the closet hook I never hung or returned.  Then, there were the  sunglasses someone left in my home.  After, two years I took those to Goodwill.  Reluctantly, as I reflect I realize, in years gone by telephones lasted for more than a year.  Hark back to the day when you could buy a new battery for far less than the latest gadget cost.  I must admit much goes to the dump.

It wasn’t always like this. The average U.S. person now consumes twice as much as they did 50 years ago.  Ask your grandma. In her day, stewardship, and resourcefulness and thrift were valued. So, how did this happen?

Well, it didn’t just happen. It was designed.

Shortly after the World War 2, these guys were figuring out how to ramp up the [U.S.] economy.  Retailing analyst Victor Lebow articulated the solution that has become the norm for the whole system.  He said: “Our enormously productive economy . . . demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction, our ego satisfaction, in consumption . . . we need things consumed, burned up, replaced and discarded at an ever-accelerating rate.”

And President Eisenhower’s Council of Economic Advisors Chairman said that “The American economy’s ultimate purpose is to produce more consumer goods.” MORE CONSUMER GOODS???  Our [economy’s] ultimate purpose?  Not provide health care, or education, or safe transportation, or sustainability or justice?

Consumer goods?

Researcher, and Author of The Story of Stuff,  Annie Leonard asks, “How did they get us to jump on board this program so enthusiastically?”  She offers one explanation.  However, we know the pattern began long before the post world War II Age of Productivity.  Edward Bernays eloquently persuaded us to consume long before his followers found a way to increase our expenditures.  The strategy was so subtle, the operations so oblique, Americans did not realize they had been hypnotized.  Perchance the glow from the diamonds their mothers received upon their birth obstructed their vision.

Nevertheless, over time industrialists did learn to avail themselves of the opportunities Bernays created.  Manufacturers and marketers encouraged emotional decisions.  They expand a consumer driven environment and increased their profits.  Companies found ways to ensure there would be a greater “need” to buy.

Well, two of their most effective strategies are planned obsolescence and perceived obsolescence.  Planned obsolescence is another word for “designed for the dump.”  It means they actually make stuff that is designed to be useless as quickly as possible so we will chuck it and go buy a new one. It’s obvious with stuff like plastic bags and coffee cups, but now it’s even big stuff: mops, DVDs, cameras, barbeques even, everything!

Even computers. Have you noticed that when you buy a computer now, the technology is changing so fast that within a couple years, it’s [your new computer] actually an impediment to communication.  I was curious about this so I opened up a big desktop computer to see what was inside.52 And I found out that the piece that changes each year is just a tiny little piece in the corner. But you can’t just change that one piece, because each new version is a different shape, so you gotta chuck the whole thing and buy a new one.

So, I was reading quotes from industrial design journals from the 1950s when planned obsolescence was really catching on. These designers are so open about it. They actually discuss how fast they can make stuff break and still leaves the consumer with enough faith in the product to go buy anther one.  It was so intentional.

But stuff cannot break fast enough to keep this arrow afloat, so there’s also “perceived obsolescence.”

Now perceived obsolescence convinces us to throw away stuff that is still perfectly useful.

Perception is truly our reality.  What we believe drives us, to the mall, the dump, and back to the mall again.  Most of us are quite comfortable with what we know.  The familiar, we believe is sagacious.  It is tried and true.  Customs are to be revered and celebrated.  People are to be cherished, and we can only show our appreciation through the gifts we give.  However, maybe, we need not bequeath as we do now.  After all, what is now a tradition was once a novelty.  Indeed, the old was new not too long ago, and the newer can become our convention.

Americans might recognize the wrath of Mother Earth.  Each of us may realize she is not happy as her globe warms.  Her children have not honored her.  We have not been good stewards of the environment.  While we gifted ourselves, Americans thrashed and trashed the nature that gave us life.  Perchance, it is time to truly honor others.  Let us give greenerly, not greedily.

You might think this would spoil the fun.  The fervor that is Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza or Ramadan would be lost without the glitz and glitter we have come to expect.  Holiday gatherings can be a challenge.  Time with the relatives is not an option you relish.  Tis true . . .

The holidays have always been an emotionally combustible time for families, bringing together a sometimes volatile mix of siblings, crotchety grandparents, and ill-behaved children.  But in recent years, a new figure has joined the celebration, to complicate the proceedings even further: the green evangelist of the family – the impassioned activist bent on eradicating the wasteful materialism of the holidays.

Otherwise known, at least to skeptical traditionalists, as the new Grinch.

This Grinch, however, is not out to spoil Christmas, but merely to use it as a platform to advocate ecological responsibility.  Perhaps emboldened by the “Live Earth” benefit concerts and Al Gore’s Nobel Peace Prize, this is the family member who is the first to point out, over the bountiful Christmas dinner, that the 2.6 billion holiday cards sold each year in the United States could fill a landfill the size of a football field 10 stories high, or that those conventional lights on the Christmas tree contribute up to nine times as much greenhouse-gas emissions as the leaner-burning L.E.D. models; or that some Christmas-tree growers use as many as 40 different pesticides, as well as chemical colorants, on their crops.

The question that an increasing number of families face is whether the proselytizing green member of the clan adds spice to the proceeding, like, say, a cup of whiskey in a bowl of eggnog, or an explosive element, like that same cup of whiskey tossed into the fire on Christmas morning.

IT’S not just the greens who feel this emotional tug at the end of the year: A 2005 survey by the Center for a New American Dream showed that 78 percent of Americans wish the holidays were “less materialistic.” At the same time, the average American spends about $900 on presents each year, according to the National Retail Federation.

Still, to some ears, the call for less excessive consumption during the holidays sounds almost un-American.

“The point of the holidays for many people is the joy people get in giving,” said Kenneth P. Green, a resident scholar on environmental issues at the American Enterprise Institute.  Environmentalists who scold their families are simply making “ritualistic gestures that won’t solve the problem,” he said.

Mister Green is correct.  Change will not come if we condescend for a day, an hour or even for a season.  If we are to genuinely give credence to what we say we believe, Americans must look at every choice they make.  We must ask ourselves what we value, a baby, or a bauble.  When we destroy the environment, ravage the land in search of diamonds, demean those that mine for the mineral, are we giving a gift and to whom?  

If we wish to appreciate another, might we bestow upon them that which honors their life, ours, and all lives?  Perchance, this season the best present we could give is consistent conscious awareness and compassionate action.  Let us give the gift that keeps on giving; love thy fellow man, the planet, and you.

We need not forego traditions; nor would it be wise to go without remembrances and relics that are not necessarily “needed.”  If we accept that what we purchase must be good for the Earth, our neighbors, ourselves, and the babies born seven generations from now we will produce and consume with reason.  Perchance, that is the lesson we must learn.  Mature love is an intellectual engagement.  Immature fondness is but an immediate gratification.  Love thy self and those that share this planet with you.

I wish you peace, prosperity; I hope for goodwill to all men.

The Story of Stuff, Sources, and Shopping . . .

Please Enjoy the Century of Self . . .

Century of Self

Live Free Or Die? How To Dupe An Uniformed Public/Officials

copyright © 2007 Judith Moriarty

Corporate water barons are having a field day in communities (states) begging for business, any business, in this day of outsourcing, echoing mills, and rusted plants with box stores filling the void!  Local folks are out maneuvered, in the jabberwocky language of global takings. Ripe for the taking! Too late, the people find themselves sold down the river (literally), with none the wiser as to the language of trade agreements etc, that have stolen their rights! Not even their elected officials whom they naively think are informed on such matters of importance are aware.

Communities in this the 21st century must educate themselves to privatization – public private partnerships, and the language of International Trade Agreements, if they wish to protect their resources, zoning, environmental, employment and health polices – laws – regulations.

Why is it imperative that these trade agreements be studied?  Ask Governor Lynch. Not reported in your local press and given barely any state coverage NH and the CAFTA agreement is one example.

Buried deep in fine print – Annex 9.1.2(b)(i), to be specific of the recently ratified trade agreement among the United States, five countries in Central America and the Dominican Republic, are provisions that dictate how the state of NEW HAMPSHIRE (other states) will conduct business with firms that want contracts to sell us goods or services /locate business here etc. How our state found its way into an obscure provision of the international agreement known as CAFTA, and why it stayed there, despite Governor John Lynch’s request to remove us, are illustrative of the threat that agreements like CAFTA pose to our state’s sovereignty and to democracy itself.

The text of CAFTA is 3,746 pages long! While you may be aware of the intimate details of a Brittany Spears, and her drunken escapades, or the score of the World Series, the media has not (or your U.S. Congressmen/Senators) informed you that CAFTA includes 22 chapters, three annexes, seven tariff schedules and 31 side letters. The provisions pertaining to how our state spends taxpayer dollars are described in the agreement’s Chapter 9, dealing with government procurement.

CAFTA’s procurement rules limit the policies of that federal/state government can follow. For example, if our elected officials were to pass a law limiting the foreign ‘outsourcing’ of public – sector jobs, such as call service centers /state agencies etc, that law could be challenged as an unfair ‘barrier to trade”. Under NAFTA for example; a company withdrawing X tens of thousands of gallons of water for their business, could challenge any local ordinance or law that would hinder their profits (in an International Court – tribunal). For example, with a company from Canada or Mexico,  entering your community you would (seemingly?) want to study Chapter 11 of the NAFTA agreement. Your well paid local consultants/ Economic Development personnel should be doing this!!

But the rules go far beyond simply stating that New Hampshire (other states) cannot express preference for a local firm over one based in a foreign country. For example, a state law prohibiting the purchase of uniforms made in sweatshops could trigger a trade dispute even if the law applied equally to sweatshops from all countries. That is because CAFTA (Article 9.7.2) prohibits  the use of “technical specifications ” that deal with how goods are made or how a service is provided.

Whether such procurement laws are good public policy is NOT the point! The point is whether it is our elected officials OR the members of international trade tribunals who should be able to decide!! It is supposed to be up to each state to decide whether to be governed by CAFTA’s procurement chapter. But it is not that simple.

On Nov 18, 2003, Governor Benson (hardly headlines!) authorized (without informing state legislators/ no debate/no discussion) authorized the federal government’s trade negotiators to list New Hampshire among the states that agree to bring their purchasing policies in line with CAFTA’S specifications, which at the time were incomplete and secret, even from the governor.

You can’t seem to awaken the people to the seriousness of such an authorization! He never READ what he bound us to!! As I recall there were only 5 legislators who were up to speed on this and alerted the new Governor – Gov.Lynch. It must also be understood that on the federal level none of these massive agreements are read or debated. There is only an up or down vote. If they had read NAFTA they would stop all the posturing and hair brained excuses they are giving  to an  uninformed public on just why there are millions of Mexicans streaming across our southern border. A reading of NAFTA explains it all!

When Governor Lynch was elected, he sent a letter to the U.S. trade representative instructing him to take New Hampshire out of CAFTA. He reasoned that if Governor Benson could put the state into CAFTA, he could take us out. BUT the trade representative took NO action, instead claiming he would have to renegotiate the whole agreement. I found the notice of this, in an out of town newspaper,  in a small paragraph,  buried in the back pages! Nope no headline story this!!  In fact, all but a handful of states (unbeknown to local officials – state representatives – citizens) are bound by this agreement. Nobody was paying attention! They still aren’t.

If you read  the official version of CAFTA  approved by Congress with the votes of our state’s senators and representatives, New Hampshire is still there. In other words, CAFTA’s provisions are like a lobster trap; once you get inside, it is impossible to get out again. The other CAFTA countries (like Canada and Mexico in NAFTA) can now bring  complaints to international tribunals if they believe NH decisions about how to spend our tax dollars deviates from CAFTA rules.

WATER- (NAFTA) Investor- to-state: Hiding behind the ‘ambiguous and innocuous’ phrase dispute resolution allows this power tool to sue governments for compensation. If laws or regulations cause actual or anticipated loss of company profits! This provision is also in CAFTA and FTAA. This would allow subsidiaries of European corporations in any of these countries to sue, claiming that regulation of water resources or water/sewer services threatens  their PROFITS.

Long before NAFTA there was GATT. Under GATT, once bulk water is exported as a commodity to another country, it is very difficult for governments to limit the quantity exported even when there is a critical water shortage. In California companies have proposed to sell bulk water from coastal rivers and even from an aquifer under the Mojave Desert.

While there was zero news coverage locally (NH),  Save Our Groundwater was formed in 2001 after USA Springs Inc. applied to withdraw over 400,000 gallons of water a day from an aquifer in the rural communities of Nottingham and Barrington, NH.  USA Springs Inc, owns about 100 acres of land including the watershed of three rivers potentially impacted by this project: Oyster River, Lamprey River, a federally protected wild and scenic river, and Bellamy River. THOUSANDS of seacoast residents and local businesses in ten communities depend on the watersheds of these rivers for their freshwater supplies.

Despite victories along the way (note how it is always the unpaid citizens who come forth to protect a state’s resources/ rally against toxic poisons etc) in a process that defies common sense, the NH DES accepted the application from USA Springs!  Olivia Zink a Save Our Groundwater member said “We are reminded of the movie ‘Groundhog Day’ where he keeps reliving one day over and over.” Alarm! If European investors are involved or if USA Springs is sold to a foreign corporation, international trade rules under WTO come into play.

Resident concern about the possibility of foreign acquisition was heightened when Hampton Water Co, was bought by Aquarion, a subsidiary of the Kelda Group, a British firm, and Pennichuck Water Works in Nashua went up for sale with Vivendi as a possible buyer.  NOTE – In 2004, Aquairion  was chosen over an American company, by Claremont City Council. A FEW citizens tried, to no avail, to inform the council of UK Keldra and the implications of making such a deal. Though there has been ZERO announcements,  on the local level, an Australian investment bank bought out Aquarion in 2006! 

If anyone thinks that their state Department of Environmental Services is looking out for their interests they are sadly mistaken!! For anybody (we with waste matters) who has been to Concord – its one big rush of lobbyists who rule the day/ and write the legislation!  Anything done for residents is by accident (my informed opinion).

Cleverly water companies (bottled water – plastic) do an end run around select boards, (in various states)  councils, and citizens,  dealing with unelected economic development personnel, consultants, and volunteer boards (others not versed in water/trade agreements). Citizens find themselves sold out with never being informed by their elected officials or the media!!  Bottled water is the way companies are taking the human right to safe, affordable, accessible drinking water and turning it (tap water no less) into a commodity to be sold at market prices – 1,000 times the cost of tap water! 

More than 10 billion plastic bottles end up as garbage (landfills – toxic incineration)  each year. Bottled water (of which local economic personnel – local officials etc, know  zero) introduces a new stream of toxic plastics, from the manufacturing of the plastic, to the punching out of the bottles putting plastic dust into the waste stream, to the leaching of hormone disruptor’s from plastics into the drinking water, etc. As to the amount of water that will end up being siphoned off – who knows? There’s no contract (per DPW director)  and representatives of Ice River (planning a bottling plant in Claremont) saw NO reason why a planning board should be  looking  to protect  the water.

It is simply inconceivable that foreign companies & global corporate water interests  can enter into a state/various communities and write their own meal tickets. But then,  the waste companies have,  so why are we surprised?  These hucksters count on an uninformed  population – (unelected)  economic development councils,  usurping the democratic process ( business over resource/health protections) – and the usual legion of lobbyists in legislative sessions.

Just as a waste company could care less about its toxic pollution/ millions of tons of garbage destroying a local community (Bethlehem, NH – once a health resort) they are not concerned about droughts, costs, or citizens complaints.  In this, the 21st century, the name of the GAME is plunder for profit – Rural folks, not familiar with the hijinks of global corporate hucksters – cannot imagine that they are dealing with high powered (carnivals of old) polished snake – oil – salesmen who would steal pennies off a dead man’s eyes if it would benefit the bottom line.  Interesting also, that this is election season, and the people are dutifully being distracted.  If I were coming to steal water – I’d pick this time!

Bottled Water is NOT tested by the EPA.  It is regulated by the FDA which does NO testing.  The FDA can’t control lead drenched toys, and toxic drenched foodstuffs, from entering into our country.  God knows what people are drinking?

Information from: Sierra Club – Save Our Groundwater, NH – Alliance for Democracy – Trade Agreements

Rural Americans Lunch With Lobbyist or Cash For Clinton

copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

Once again, the Clinton Clan exceeds expectations.  It is widely known that the Senator and her spouse are inexorability linked to lobbyist money.  The public understands Hillary Clinton’s unwillingness to commit.  The American people accept that she cannot know what her friend, the son of Bill’s best bud, will leave behind.  Whether we discuss war or children, George W. Bush has abandoned all.  Thus, the stroll down the breezeway to the Oval Office will not be an easy jaunt.  There is much damage to undo, re-do, or create anew.

Hillary holds out hope.  She does not know what she will find in White House that George built.  She will not assert that she can stop the Iraq war by 2013.  She will put more troops in Afghanistan.  Universal Health Care, well, she commands all Americans be insured.  However, she offers little to those unable to pay the premiums.  Hillary wants to help . . . those that help her, and lobbyists do.

The former First Lady indebted to Industrialists, Insurers, and Capitalists, invites Rural Americans in Iowa to lunch with her entourage in a corrupt and corporate lap.  Luxury is on the menu as is the loot that lets her continue as she as.  With mega-millions in her purse, and she, deep in the pockets of polluters, now professional Genetic Engineering despoilers such as Monsanto Hillary Clinton howls and hollers, “Vote for me.”  I am your girl!

Senator Clinton offers an Invitation to Rural Americans for Hillary Lunch and Briefing.  She reaches out to voters in Iowa.  The one time occupant of the White House wishes to express, those outside the beltway matter.  

So later this month, according to THIS INVITATION, the presidential campaign of Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, is holding a “Rural Americans for Hillary” lunch and campaign briefing at the end of this month . . .

. . . but she’s holding it in Washington, DC . . .

. . . at a lobbying firm . . .

. . . and specifically, though it’s not mentioned in the invitation, at the lobbying firm Troutman Sanders Public Affairs . . .

. . . which just so happens to lobby for the controversial multinational agri-biotech Monsanto.

You read that right: Monsanto, about which there are serious questions about its culpability regarding 56 Superfund Sites, wanton and “outrageous” pollution, and the decidedly unkosher (and quite metaphoric) genetically-bred “Superpig.”

. . . A company that the website “Ethical Investing” labels “the world’s most unethical and harmful investment.”

Holding an agri-summit in the plush halls of the lobbyists for Monsanto doesn’t sound like the kind of “rural Americans,” a presidential candidate would necessarily want to be photographed with.

Particularly if Clinton’s two primary opponents — former Sen. John Edwards, D-NC, and Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.  –  don’t take money from lobbyists and are trying to depict the frontrunner as too much a part of the corrupt Washington system, lobbyists, corporate America, et al….

But then again, it doesn’t say Clinton will attend this luncheon — just senior staffers and congressional endorsers!  (Is that better or worse?)

Response from the Clinton campaign to come….

Perhaps, Hillary will not appear at the luncheon in the posh offices of Monsanto.  A physical appearance might pollute the already murky land and sea of scandal.  At the Yearly Kos August Convention we might recall Hillary Clinton spoke of how lobbyist indeed worked for the people.  However, some question the potential President’s truth.  

Monsanto Hid Decades Of Pollution

PCBs Drenched Ala. Town, But No One Was Ever Told

By Michael Grunwald

Washington Post

Tuesday, January 1, 2002; Page A01

Anniston, Ala. — On the west side of Anniston, the poor side of Anniston, the people ate dirt.  They called it “Alabama clay” and cooked it for extra flavor.  They also grew berries in their gardens, raised hogs in their back yards, caught bass in the murky streams where their children swam and played and were baptized.  They didn’t know their dirt and yards and bass and kids — along with the acrid air they breathed — were all contaminated with chemicals.  They didn’t know they lived in one of the most polluted patches of America.

Now they know.  They also know that for nearly 40 years, while producing the now-banned industrial coolants known as PCBs at a local factory, Monsanto Co. routinely discharged toxic waste into a west Anniston creek and dumped millions of pounds of PCBs into oozing open-pit landfills.  And thousands of pages of Monsanto documents — many emblazoned with warnings such as “CONFIDENTIAL: Read and Destroy” — show that for decades, the corporate giant concealed what it did and what it knew.

In 1966, Monsanto managers discovered that fish submerged in that creek turned belly-up within 10 seconds, spurting blood and shedding skin as if dunked into boiling water.  They told no one.  In 1969, they found fish in another creek with 7,500 times the legal PCB levels.  They decided “there is little object in going to expensive extremes in limiting discharges.”  In 1975, a company study found that PCBs caused tumors in rats.  They ordered its conclusion changed from “slightly tumorigenic” to “does not appear to be carcinogenic.”

Monsanto enjoyed a lucrative four-decade monopoly on PCB production in the United States, and battled to protect that monopoly long after PCBs were confirmed as a global pollutant.  “We can’t afford to lose one dollar of business,” one internal memo concluded.

Perchance that is the reason Monsanto now sponsors the presumed future President of the United States, Hillary Clinton.  They say it is not what you know, but whom that helps.  It is important to associate with persons in high places if you are to ensure profits.  Monsanto illustrates the wisdom of the statement, “Follow the money,” or “Follow the leader.”  With fifty percent of the votes in her camp, Clinton can certainly secure earnings for all those companies that endorse her.  Senator Clinton, with the help of rural Americans physically and financially invested in agriculture, can give credence to the Monsanto movement towards Genetically Engineered crops.

A Bridge Too Far.


Rio Grande, Mexico – Mexicans are being forced to swallow Monsanto’s seeds of destruction, while back in the US, Monsanto is not allowed to grow its genetically engineered (GE) cotton for fear of GE contamination.  To expose this double standard our activists blocked a trainload of GE contaminated maize as it crossed the Rio Grande into Mexico.

It’s not just a case of double standards – the US administration continues to ride roughshod over the rights of people around the world to say no to genetically modified organisms.

The latest scientific analysis shows that one third of US maize entering Mexico is contaminated with GE varieties from Monsanto. Mexico is the centre of diversity of maize, one of the world’s three most important food crops and it’s at serious risk from GE contamination.

Teosinte, for example, is the wild relative of maize. Recent scientific research from the US found that genes from GE crops could rapidly take over those in wild relatives like teosinte. When most of the wild populations of teosinte are already under threat, contamination from escaped GE maize could push them over the edge.

Yet the US and Monsanto have no scruples in dumping their GE maize into Mexico, even though, back in the US, Monsanto is not allowed to grow its GE cotton in the South of Florida, because of concerns about contamination of related cotton species.

Perchance, the rural Americans invited to this luncheon will be briefed on what is good for the goose or the gander.  Genetically Engineered seeds may be on the menu.  Whatever is served, we can be certain there will be more cash for candidate Clinton.  Citizens impressed by her interest will likely cast a ballot for her.  Monsanto has.

Update . . .

Admittedly, this treatise was an instant reaction to the ABC News Senior Correspondent, Jake Tapper’s exposé on the Hillary Clinton affair.  I focused less on personal in-depth research and more on the original story in Political Punch.

In an online conversation with a presumed Clinton supporter, my notion of the Clinton connection to Monsanto was brought into question.  Therefore, I wish to provide further references for your perusal.  Please consider, currently, Hillary Rodham Clinton supporters refer to the earlier era as the “Clinton’s Administration.”  Please enjoy this meal . . .

Likewise, outraged members of the British Parliament and many of the country’s environmentalists have accused U.S. President Bill Clinton of intruding in a sensitive domestic matter. “It is quite wrong for the British Prime Minister to be conspiring behind the back of the British public about American business interests,” said Norman Baker, Liberal Democrat environment spokesman. What had the British so angry is the report that Clinton personally intervened with British Prime Minister Tony Blair to stop Britain from halting the controversial production of genetically engineered foods.9

It is no accident that Clinton should be promoting genetically modified crops. Their primary U.S. manufacturer, Monsanto, has been one of five companies spearheading Clinton’s welfare-to-work programs. Monsanto was among those donating thousands of dollars in “soft money” to the Clinton 1996 election and which the President singled out for praise during his State of the Nation address in 1997.10 In addition, currently sitting on Monsanto’s board of directors is former U.S. Secretary of Commerce, U.S. Trade Representative, and National Chairman for the 1992 Clinton-Gore Campaign -Mickey Kantor.11

~ Source . . . Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy

US Government – Monsanto Collusion Reported

(excerpts from story Dec. 27, 1998 by Bill Lambrecht Post-Dispatch

Washington Bureau WASHINGTON)

A $7.5 billion company with 25,000 employees needs to be well-connected, and Monsanto works to keep it that way. The company plies political parties equally and recruits people with deep ties in Washington.

By virtue of a friendly relationship between Monsanto chief operating officer Robert B. Shapiro and Clinton, Monsanto is identified in Washington as “a Democratic company.” Monsanto and its employees spread the political contributions. In the last two years, donations to Democrats totaled about $100,000; Republicans received $140,000. The company invests much more in bringing aboard influential people. Among them:

  • Monsanto board member Mickey Kantor is a former U.S. trade representative and chairman of Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign.
  • Marcia Hale, Monsanto’s international regulatory director, was a top Clinton assistant.

The Application of Biotechnology to Nutrition: An Overview

Maureen Mackey, PhD, FACN

Monsanto Company, St Louis, Missouri

A similar project has been initiated by Monsanto Company, in cooperation with Michigan State University, USAID and the Tata Energy Research Institute in India. The project was developed in part to respond to a greater effort to enlist private sector collaboration in the Global Vitamin A partnership program, which was initiated by then First Lady Hillary Clinton. Monsanto developed the technology to insert the enzymes of the phytoene synthase pathway into Brassica napus (canola). Concentrations of 1000-1500 µg carotenoids/g fresh weight of seeds were achieved.

Going Backwards:

Clinton Administration Appoints A Former Monsanto Corp. Lobbyist To Represent US Consumers On Genetically Engineered Food Issues

by Tom Abate

Leading consumer and environmental groups are fuming because the Clinton administration has appointed a former Monsanto Corp. lobbyist to represent U.S. consumers on a transatlantic committee set up to avoid a trade war over genetically engineered foods. . . .

What angered critics most is that during her lobbying days, Foreman helped Monsanto — the firm most closely identified with genetically engineered foods — win approval for bovine growth hormone, a chemical that stimulates milk production.

“We think it’s a big mistake to appoint a person to represent consumers who’s been so closely tied to the biotech industry,” said Dan Seligman, the Sierra Club’s representative on trade issues.

My hope is that we might ponder how well those who lunch in our interest serve us.

Sources of Slop . . .

Mother Earth; The Human Virus

Animation about Earth

© copyright 2007 Betsy L. Angert

Earth is ill.   The virus that invades this planet is human in nature.   This strange little creature has an ego that multiples and magnifies its significance.   “Persons” think themselves so important they ignore the essence of every other life form.

Humans invade all space and slip into every crack and crevice on this planet.   Individuals propose it is “Manifest Destiny.”   Man and womankind believe they have a G-d-given right to expand and possess the whole of this terra firma.

People think themselves superior.   Thus, he and she slices and dices other mammals.   Those that walk on two limbs, label these helpless beings delicacies.  

Humans leave no stone unturned on this Earthly terrain.   “Civil” creatures believe themselves astute.   They generate electricity.   They manufacture machinery; they pollute.

Nothing seems to stop these selfish individuals.   They are parasites.   Human beings produce and re-produce.   These simple souls create “products” that kill.   Their chemicals cause plants and other animals to choke.   Fish flounder.   Ice melts and the temperature of the ocean waters rise.  

Humans deplete Earth’s natural resources, and create substances that fill the land with waste.

Two-legged mammals even destroy themselves.   They consume vast quantities of sweet cookies and creams.   Carbonated, high fructose corn syrup beverages consume them.   Lattes, whipped and sugared lard may make these critters lazy.   People grow fat.   Yet, they are never happy.

Persons think contentment will come.   However, they convince themselves that sheer joy is only possible if they conquer every other entity in their path.   They destroy as they travel this rocky terrain.  

Soon they will need to find other solar systems to inhabit.   Earth continues to crumble.   Human litter floats throughout the Milky Way.   It will not be long before this globe and surrounding galactic bodies are left in shambles.

Might we find a cure for what ails our Mother? Perhaps not.   After all, we are the problem. Sigh.   Change is a challenge for us, the self-serving humans.