IBI Watch 11/27/11

27 11 2011


The Environmental Elephant in the Room  //

It’s the issue no one wants to talk about, it seems.  It’s not water or air pollution, not climate change, and it’s not wildlife extinction.  And yet, it is all those problems and so many more.  The issue of course is the relentless growth of the human population.  The earth recently passed a dubious marker – 7,000,000,000 of us.  And though that event is still quite recent, a check of online population counters reveals that we have already added another 6 million souls since that Halloween(!) milestone.  That’s the equivalent of another state of Missouri – St. Louis, Kansas City and all – in just a few weeks.  Last time scientists checked, the earth was not adding comparable land mass to welcome all these newcomers.

The problem seems intractable, and worse – it carries religious implications for many.  And old-time thinking says more people is good – it leads to growth, which is good, and leads to more wealth – all good, right?  But when you think of all the environmental problems that the burgeoning population brings, isn’t it time to talk about arresting all that growth?

Dave Gardner is not afraid to talk about population.  In his current feature-length film, Growth Busters, he takes his opposition to growth to a level few of us reach – he runs for city council in conservative Colorado Springs.  And the fact that he does much better than expected suggests that maybe – just maybe – more of us are now willing to look for alternatives to relentless growth.

The movie is informative and entertaining – worthy of its inspiration.  Yes, that would be the Bill Murray/Dan Aykroyd hit from 1984.  Gardner interviews an array of experts, from Bill McKibben to Paul Ehrlich to William Rees, and documents his quixotic quest to bring his message to the city council.

How would you categorize Growth Busters?  Well, think of a Michael Moore documentary, without the director’s outsized on-screen persona.

After investing major personal resources to produce his movie, Gardner is seeking distribution for his movie, and is considering producing a shorter version.  Links:  Growth Busters trailer; Growth Busters home page; World Population Balance – an organization I support – that recently showed Growth Busters; a Guardian series on population; National Geographic yearlong series on 7 billion population.






Thanksgiving from Four Angles

Hasn’t this Black Friday business gotten just a bit out of hand?  Here’s what I consider an ultimate irony.  The prize for many midnight maniacs, overnight campers and shopping line-breakers is what?  A massive flat-screen TV.  That will be used for what?  The buyer imagines an entertainment paradise, but the result is really more overt and covert propaganda, encouraging more and more consumption.

Several perspectives.  First link – a sad scene from the front lines.  Second – Reverend Billy, of the Church of Stop Shopping, celebrates Thanksgiving in a non-mainstream way.  For the reverend, it’s actually Buy Nothing Day.  Third – rightwing pundits love to rail about the ‘war on Christmas.’  Manmade climate change – fueled by our numbers and greed – actually is waging a war of sorts on Thanksgiving.  Fourth link – here is the good news.  A list of 10 things progressives can be thankful for this Thanksgiving.  A list that starts with the Occupy protests, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders is worth your attention.





What Occupy Protests are up Against

Is the rough police response to the Occupy protests really surprising?  How about the conservative talkers’ barbs?  Neither should surprise.  The protests hit at the foundation of the system that increasingly marginalizes most, for the benefit of the very few.  At the first link, the DailyKos surveys mainstream media treatments of the protest.  Second – a look at lobbyists’ effort to discredit.  At the third link, William Hogeland suggests that the militaristic police response offers an opportunity for collaboration between libertarians and progressives.  Fourth link – an invitation to Megyn Kelly (the Fox News ‘pepper spray is a food item’ talking head) that she chow down on her pignorant words.





Money in Politics, Then and Now

We all know the impact of Citizens United.  Virtually no limit on campaign spending, because the Supreme Court ratifies money as a form of speech.  The first link is an NPR story that compares our current predicament with Watergate days.  At the second, a report on what looks like the only way to halt the corporatist madness – a Constitutional amendment to get the money out of politics.  At the third – sign on!




Would You Believe ‘We are the 99.9?’

The rallying cry behind the OWS protests has been the 99 percent, and for good reason.  Take a look at the graphic at the top of the John Young column at the first link.  Look at the one percent and ten percent shares and you will understand – or be reminded – why so many feel alienated and excluded enough to take to the streets.  Paul Krugman waded into troubled waters with an article this week focusing on the top of the top – that is, the top ten percent of the top one percent.  Here are the column and his blog post where he responded to critics.




Manmade Climate Chaos – Latest Science and Some Solutions

If you are even an occasional IBI Watch reader, you know that this is one of the issues I care most about.  With good reason.  Despite the pignorant ranting by Limbaugh and the rest, there is a massive scientific consensus that our time is running out to save this place from cascading disaster.  This week, there were several new items on what is happening, plus a useful analysis and suggestions from Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine.

First – a commentary and a link from my friend Jeff Carlson.  Note – the party that I call the Party of Pignorance, Jeff calls the Party of Scrooge.

The Science of Climate Change
As I played with my grand kids today I looked at them
and I said to myself I must do all I can to make sure
we as a people and country get serious about Climate Change.
The Party of Scrooge is all out to end the EPA and stop all
advances on Climate Change. Come 2012 this has to be one our
prime goals vote out every single one of them.

Here is a great link to Climate Change

One of the mistakes we can make is to think about environmental problems as discrete – we can work on and solve one at a time.  But of course it is all interrelated.  First two links are actually about the oceans and their steadily increasing acidity.  Well, where do we think all that carbon from our tailpipes and smokestacks is winding up? Next – the latest bad news.  Booming economies equal more greenhouse gas, until we get serious about alternative energy.  Fourth – Naomi Klein looks at manmade climate change from an economic and political perspective.  Here are her remedies, briefly: revive and reinvent the public sphere; remember how to plan; rein in corporations; relocalize production; end the cult of shopping; tax the rich and filthy. Fifth – could this be hope?  Crankshaft takes the issue seriously.  That beats a certain party by a long shot.  Final link – a child eloquently sums up the issues – at the United Nations.  The clip is about three years old.  How seriously have we taken her message since?






“Pray that there’s Intelligent Life Somewhere up in Space, Cause there’s Buggerall Down Here on Earth” (Thanks, Monty Python!)

OK – our policymakers won’t heed the science around manmade climate change enough to enact meaningful measures.  Maybe they will eventually heed the science around finding livable planets.  Best, maybe we could send the whole pignorant bunch to a new home.  Next link – naturally – The Galaxy Song



“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

-Mahatma Gandhi

Contributed links or content to this posting – Jeff Carlson, Allyson Harper, Jeff Syme



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