Tuesday, May 04, 2010

The World's Worst Industrial Disaster - Precis

The World's Worst Industrial Disaster is about the industrial disaster that happened in Bhopal in 1984. 15,000 people died by deadly methyl isocyanate gas from the manufacture of the pesticide, Sevin. The deadly gas affected not only human beings, but the water, the soil, the plants and animals, and even in the breast milk of nursing mothers. Today, a large number of people are still suffering from the effects of disaster.

This article reminds me of the industrial disaster that happened in Japan, in 1950s. In 1950s, Minamata disease happened. A factory dumped untreated water waste to river. Because of the water waste, the ocean and the fish around the area was polluted. The people who ate the poisoned fish fot the disease, and thousands of people died. Even now, a lot of people are still suffering from the effects.

Environmental pollution seems as if it happens in only certain places; however, we do not have a certain borderline for the environment as we do nations. That means environmental pollution could be spread through out world. For example, I read the news on internet which said that some pollution that is caused in China came to Japan by the westerlies, a kind of wind.

In all nations, pollution is often made in a process of development and industrialization. We have tried to make a lot of things to live easily; such as cars, factories, and so on, but we also have made various pollutions in exchange for our comfortableness.

"Pollution likely affects over a billion people around the world, with millions poisoned and killed each year. The World Health Organization estimates that 25 perscent of all deaths in the developing world are directly attributable to environmental factor" (Pollution Facts)

I believe that we are still making a lot of toxic things while producing produts even though a lot of people are experiencing scary diseases from pollution. Pollution affects not only one place, but the world. We must grapple with the problem of the pollution, and we have to find a solution as soon as possible.

What is EcoArt?

What Is EcoArt?
Some notes on how environmental issues combine with art

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vbMEemyS9aw Eco art parade 2009 (Eagle)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FCjOjArzf7o Eco Art village Israel 2008-part2

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FGQgfyew-0c Eco Art Project by Nataly Cnyrim kimmel

What is Eco-Art?

Eco-art is a fresh movement led by artists seeking to explore, address and heal our relationship to Nature. Our work has an agenda, it is activist and can make a difference. We use the spectrum of artistic tools, media and materials to bridge community and often collaborate with non artist partners. Our work remediates polluted sites, creates awareness of regional and global crises, engages local citizens in community issues, protects fragile ecologies and encourages changed or improved behavior.

Eco-art is not the Land Art of Robert Smithson or Michael Heizer; the landscape is not a canvas to be bulldozed or cut up for an outside-of-the-gallery aesthetic. Eco-art is created in harmony with the ecosystem with sensitivity to its environmental impact, implications, choice of materials and outcomes. Eco-art is Ana Mendietta's Silueta Series, Mel Chin's Revival Field, Newton & Helen Meyer Harrison's Future Garden Part 1: The Endangered Meadows of Europe.

From the Greenmuseum's website, a definition that I agree with:

In a general sense, [Eco-art] is art that helps improve our relationship with the natural world. There is no definition set in stone. This living worldwide movement is growing and changing as you read this. Much environmental art is ephemeral, designed for a particular place (site-specific) and involves collaborations between artists and others such as scientists, educators and community groups.

See "A Brief Introduction" by Clive Adams of the Centre for Contemporary Art and the Natural World.

Some environmental art:

    1. Interprets nature, creating artworks that inform us about nature and its processes, or about environmental problems we face

    2. Is concerned with environmental forces and materials, creating artworks affected or powered by wind, water, lightning, even earthquakes

    3. Re-envisions our relationship to nature, proposing through their work new ways for us to co-exist with our environment

    4. Reclaims and remediates damaged environments, restoring ecosystems in artistic and often aesthetic ways

An artist statement:

In our modern world advanced by technology, experience of the real is often mediated by the virtual: television, movies or email. With the globalization of economies, widespread and ferocious industrialization, rapidity of communication and commerce and the shift to hypo-real lifestyles, the very nature of our lives have changed. Work entails the exchange of information. Leisure is often sedentary and indoor. And agriculture is managed by a distant corporation. Nature has become an abstract concept; something that we see through a car window, passing at 55 mph.

Society has become disconnected from Nature—the very source of life. The ecosystem that we rely upon for our survival, we poison without second thought. As cultural disconnection from Nature continues to develop, it has become imperative that Nature in art and art in Nature provide a connection to the power and meaning of life. By re-instilling a respect for all life (which does not necessitate an avoidance of death, but an honoring of all life that we consume) and respect for the earth’s resources (which means using fully that which we take and not taking more than we need), we can reestablish a harmonious relationship to Nature and enjoy lives of greater comfort, peace and health.

It has been the responsibility of artists to mirror society, to challenge accepted thinking and to provide a critical voice. I intend works such as Nature Viewers, Found Poster Series and Nature: a Five Mile Drive, to challenge our relationship to Nature and its resources. I challenge us to take responsibility for our actions, regardless of comfort and convenience, because we must. In these works, Nature is the medium conceptually and physically. By creating art that places the body in a new, sensual relationship to the work, Eco-artists re-insert the body into Nature, seeking to reestablish Man as part of Nature—no longer removed from it. Through my work, I ask for recognition of your own physical presence and connection to the land, our complicity in these specific situations and our interconnectivity to the entirety of life. While this can be appreciated through documentation of my own and other Eco-artists’ work, I encourage you to also explore the work of Nature in Nature with the sun on your face and the wind at your back.

Tim Gaudreau


Monday, May 03, 2010

"The Death of Enviormentalism" -precis

The controversially titled article Death of the Environment, is a result of 25 interviews with environmental leaders by Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus. The two authors discuss how current environmentalist are loosing momentum toward saving the environment amid political interest, the need to reframe is crucial in order to attract popular support. The text begins by listing the number of influential environmental laws that were achieved in the 60’s and 70’s. Shellenberger and Nordhaus then contrast our current environmental movement and the lack of wins we have experienced. The first noted problems are the ways in which the environment is treated as a “thing” to be protected, and how the three-part strategic framework for environmental policy making hasn’t changed in almost 40 years:

1) Define a problem (e.g global warming) as ‘environmental'

2) Craft a technical remedy (e.g., cap-and-trade).

3) Sell the technical proposal to legislators through a variety of tactics, such as lobbying. Third-party allies, research reports, advertising, and public relations.

Environmental leaders use a set of tactics that focus more on better wording and imagery to reframe global warming, by not using words like warming or change. Thus, trying to find solution through propaganda strategies, alliances, and technological advancements (e.g. Hybrid cars and fluorescent lights), leading to the conclusion that our problem should be structured as environmental. What needs to change is how environmentalist can benefit non-environmentalist instead of the other way around.

Currently, there is a distinct separation between the environment and humans. The environment is regarded as a separate "thing" from humans who are superior from the “natural world.” However, the dichotomy, which the authors note, is that global warming is a human-made phenomenon and hundreds of millions of humans may be killed over the next century due to global warming issues. This mentality creates the illusion that as humans, as environmentalist, we are representatives and defenders of this “thing” instead of a part of the environment.

A legislative defeat can be seen as a win or loss, depending on the increase or decrease of the “movement’s power, energy, and influence over the long-term.” Rio, CAFÉ, and McCain-Leiberman were seen as losses due to the environmentalist belief that the win would only occur if the legislation was successful. In order for the defeat to be considered a win some sort of momentum needs to be created to secure future legislation to pass. Shellenberger and Nordhaus end by claiming that the movement has become a failure coasting on decades-old successes, the void of new ideas, made complacent by easy funding, narrowly defining and environmental problems. If environmentalist want to be more than a special interest group they must restructure the proposals to offer the American people an expansive, inspiring, values-based vision.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Precis on "The Coming Resource Wars"

Article by Michael T. Klare 

It seems like we may never be able to give peace a chance.  Just as political correctness has become old hat and tolerance becomes a condition of living in this global village, just as soon as technology has given us the most impressive entertainment ever, it seems we humans are being reduced back to our former primitive state of fighting over food and water.  According to British Defense Secretary John Reid, it's official:  the era of resource wars is upon us.  With global warming, increasing population and consumption up to record levels, the bounty of the earth is becoming scarce and can be likened to the booty of pirates of old.  The article focuses not on the popular conception that the human role in altering the planet's basic climate system is the only problem but that there is a trend to think farther into the social implications the shortage of resources will have in future conflicts.  And as environmental problems persist, natural disasters make very clear the limits in which we are able to aid those in need.  In the face of such calamity, Reid says, we have two choices:  we can rely on our military power to secure a degree of advantage in the global struggle over resources, or we can work towards reducing the risk of CCC, or in other words, Cataclysmic Climate Change.  He believes there are many in the United States who would tout the superiority of the military power but such instruments become ineffectual when an inconclusive war in Iraq or a natural disaster like Hurricane Katrina strikes.  In addition, the threat of nuclear power looms on the horizon as countries scramble to claim what resources they can.  This article appeals to everyone and especially world leaders who have the power to direct the power of their countries.  I wholeheartedly agree with Reid that ultimately, "our only hope of a safe and secure future lies in substantially reducing our emissions of greenhouses gases and working with the rest of the world to slow the pace of global climate change.  

Precis by Brett Tapia

What was up with Korten?

By Norman Chernick
When I began watching the Democracy Now video I was excited to see what horrible reality was going to be revealed and instead what we got was a kind of lame Marx "wanna be", David Korten. From his presentation to his ideas I couldn't give him much respect in part because he was not giving it to us.
I mention his presentation because it really put me off especially in comparison to Amy Goodman and Barak Obama who came off as serious and sincere, while Korten overly smiley, shifty, and nervous. He coughed at really important parts of his interview which gave me the impression that he was 'freaking out' inside his head or avoiding something. However, I don't want to dwell on this, what he says is what really confused me to why Dale had us watch this.

Firstly he wants us to do away with Wall street and replace it with main st. What does that even mean? What is Main street and how is that not directly imbedded in wall street? Wall street for anybody who doesn't know is the financial sector of our economy any country with banks has to have a financial sector so that the banks can do things with the money we store in them so they can invest it back in the economy. I don't see any reality in getting rid of 'Wall St.'
I see a reality in tuff regulations on it, which is what caused all of the phantom profit.

Korten reels through hot terms like a politician: military industrial complex, "bad for the family", main st., wall st. I felt like my intelligence was compromised as if he was propagandizing even though I agree with a lot of what he said.
"People have 10 times more conversations a day who shop at farmers markets."
What a terrible statistic to throw out there its just so questionable and probably based mostly in that people who shop at farmers markets probably have more leisure time and don't watch as much TV.
another statement he made was that the world cheered when wall street fell. I don't think the people that lost their jobs all over the world cheered, Its not like it affected wall streets power it just affected all the people it supports' power.
He also proposed to somehow end the existence of suburbs because they are bad for families. Does he not realize that people are autonomous and that we live in a democracy, because I certainly don't when I rant against the suburbs.

He also didn't really discuss the environment instead I now know he used to live on 14th st. Union Sq. and shop at farmers markets.

Whenever the reporters asked him questions about possible faults in his ideas he just answered with an attack on Wall st. it was actually strange how he maneuvered those answers like a politician would.

I expect a lot from intellectuals because they spend their time thinking and coming up with new ideas, he should be a little more reasonable, sensible, and insightful. It almost seems as if he hasn't thought his ideas through enough, they come off as based in emotion and not in moving ideas around and finding fault in ones ideas and re-structuring them. Yet I think he has thought his ideas through and they are based in research and thought but he doesn't present them in that way. His ideas were not complex enough for me to take it as a hypothetical theory attempt at solving problems instead it was his self absorption overflowing because he is stating this radical program.

That was my initial response to watching this interview. I watched the interview again and I realize how much of what he says I agree with, but I have just heard it so much that him saying it seems 'lame'. What did I learn from this interview? Nothing really everything is pretty standard left wing oratory and I think that is was put me off so much, why am I watching this?
The reason I watch politicians speak is to see which of my views they agree with its exciting to see them express them or not. However, with this guy he just says what my basic values are and then adds some crazy idea about destroying the financial sector and replacing it with family banks that will trade with Japan. This guy is not going to implement this, he is not giving me any new ideas to push or to question my own, it sounds like fox news except the opposite side of the poll. (is that it?....)

"The Long Emergency" Precis

In “The Long Emergency”, James Howard Kunstler envisions a near-future collapse of American life as we currently know it. The piece almost reads like the setup to a science fiction novel. This isn’t surprising considering the bulk of Kunstler’s writing career has consisted of fiction writing, and his most recent offerings have been set in a post-oil world such as the one described in “The Long Emergency”. However, Kunstler is not alone in his visions. If you research the subject of peak-oil, you’ll come across many stories similar to Kunstler’s. You’ll also come across many peak-oil charts, statistics, and official studies/reports, including the Hirsch Report (officially titled Peaking of World Oil Production: Impacts, Mitigation, and Risk Management), a 2005 study conducted for the US Department of Energy. The results of the report put forth a very similar scenario to Kunstler’s, albeit a lot less stylized.

After reading “The Long Emergency”, it is apparent that Kunstler seems to have a burning dislike for the American lifestyle that was once called The American Dream. He sprinkles some heavy doses of sarcasm throughout the piece, and it is no surprise that he has accumulated many opponents throughout his recent career. In “Short Solutions to the Long Emergency”, Charles Bensinger, co-founder of Renewable Energy Partners of New Mexico, argues that Kunstler has “failed to do his homework regarding the potential of renewable energy, biofuels, energy
efficiency and smart-growth policies to eliminate our need for fossil
fuels over the next three decades”. You can read the entire piece here: http://www.greeninstitute.net/node/430.

Also, you can check out this Kunstler-hating blog: http://peakoildebunked.blogspot.com/, which is dedicated to “Debunking peak oil hype with facts and figures, and exposing the agendas behind peak oil”. It’s quite entertaining, seeing as many of their arguments consist of bashing Kunstler’s ability to accurately predict the future.

Only time will tell how accurate Kunstler’s predictions actually are. One thing is for sure: peak-oil is not your typical the-apocolypse-is-coming-soon-and-we're-all-going-to-die-conspiracy theory type of deal. If you want the hard, unbiased facts, then look no further. I think we all owe it to ourselves to expand our knowledge about this subject. Personally, Kunstler rubs me the wrong way for some reason, but I have to admit, there seems to be fewer and fewer ways around at least some kind of version of the “The Long Emergency”.

- Jon Thomas

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Economic Frustration: A response to

David Korten’s “Agenda for a New Economy: From Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth”

In David Korten’s interview with Democracy Now! he argues that if we continue down our path of consumption, economic instability, and urban sprawl we will lose our sense of community, relationships, and health. Not only will we be losing our biosphere, we will lose our humanity.

Right away in the interview Korten has given us the first step to recovery, acceptance. He is asking the government to address that the system has failed, and it is time to try something new. He goes on to say that not only has this system failed to give us financial stability, it has also negatively affected our environment and social communities, by destroying our ecosystems and keeping the bottom end communities deprived.

Throughout the interview Korten suggests ways to reform our economic standing, as well as bringing up imperative environmental issues he does not feel are being discussed in congress. He proposes building our economic system to support families, education, small businesses, and sustainability by re-directing the funding coming from the government, as well as transforming Wall Street into Main Street.

I full heartedly agree with what Korten has offered in this interview. He is a brilliant man, writing wonderful books, bringing up critical issues. But when I read this (and many of the other articles throughout the semester) I could not suppress my enormous frustration that I know this, the people reading/watching Democracy Now! know this, and the people he is targeting even know this. So what do we do? I am not sure that what we need to do is convince those in power that there is a problem. They are smart, they must know there is a problem, but what they have to do is give up a lot (lifestyle, money, etc.) in order to fix the problems, and that is the hard part.

Korten is asking his government, colleagues, and country to re-think our society’s way of life, there seems to be a call to action behind his words. Not only does it seem a daunting dream, it seems an almost impossible one. How can we get people mobilized? He is asking us to give up much of what we have, and alter the rest. How do we do that? Statistics have been crammed down peoples’ throats, photographs of landfills bombard the media, wallets are emptying at the pump, and celebrities are inspiring us to eat organically. What else can we do to inspire our government to re-direct the billions of dollars being spent on Industrial Agriculture subsidies, new highways, war, and other harmful endeavors?

Creating a sustainable lifestyle and society may look like we’re moving backwards to many people. We have evolved and created Industrial technologies that provide abundance and convenience, so how do we go back to being without them? It is like giving someone, who has been fishing with their hands a net, and then asking them not to use it. We need to think of it as our society being so evolved we know we could use these Industrial technologies, but shouldn’t.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

So Refreshing!!!

ever since this pepsi campaign hit the television/computer screens of america,
i haven't been able to stop thinking about it. at first i chose to ignore it,
but now i'm going to take a closer look at this ad campaign for my report.
i've always been anti-pepsi, it's all about coke anyways.

this is the project i want to pitch to pepsi


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Question for Final

How long should our quotes be? Mine are generally passages that I thought were relevant to the topic...is that ok? Because my final is going to end up being REALLY long if I continue this. (I'm only 5 definitions in and I'm already taking up a page) Also is there any specific formating for the Final?

Are these people crazy? Or not?

I’ll be doing my report on the artists Rachel Dutton and Rob Olds. The only information I can find about them is in the book Conversations Before The End Of Time by Suzi Gablik. Here are some excerpts from the book:

“Rachel Dutton and her husband, Rob Olds, were visionary sculptors until they decided to give up making art a few years ago from a sense of environmental emergency. Dutton’s work, constructed from hay, mud and papier-mâché shaped around an armature, was like a hallucinatory dream-memory of our atavistic link with the animal world, evoking a pretechnological, more spiritual era when humans could merge their consciousness with animals and harmonize with nature. Olds’s works – I recall seeing a couple of homeless men hovering around a garbage can, all made from a lavalike substance that suggested the ruins of Pompeii – were like terrifying holograms of the coming environmental and social anarchy… Homesteading in a remote part of New Mexico, they had slowly altered their physical reality by progressively shedding their dependence on twentieth-century technologies, and devoting themselves instead to a simple, circumscribed life, attending to the daily matters of sustaining a desert existence and enjoying their activity as artists.

“Then came the letter. It stated that they were giving up everything, selling their land and studios, and using whatever money they had for a lengthy series of courses, in order to learn tracking and wilderness survival skills from a man called Tom Brown, Jr., in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey… By the time they had written me, they had already given away or destroyed all their sculptures and drawings, to release the energy bound up in the forms, and had canceled their forthcoming shows…

“When he was a boy, Brown was taught ancient survival practices, like how to make bows, clubs and arrowheads, and how to trap, track and stalk by an old Apache warrior and scout called “Grandfather,” who was born in the 1880s. Brown had started his tracking school in order to instruct people about how to survive without modern technological civilization, because of the vision of its destruction that Grandfather had received during a vision quest some time during the 1920s – much of which has already become reality. Part of Grandfather’s vision was composed of this message: “Earth is dying. The destruction of man is close, so very close, and we must all work to change that part of destruction.” There would be four warnings, or signs, which if heeded would offer humanity a chance to learn the lessons and, by changing its ways, alter its probable future. The first two warnings are famine and a disease born of monkeys, drugs and sex that will destroy mankind from the inside. The third warning is in the form of holes in the sky that cannot be healed. If at this point the decision to change has not been made, all will be lost. Then will ensue the final vision of destruction: the sky turns blood red, and all is poisoned. During this time, the earth will heal itself and man will die.

Rob Olds: We went through a whole series of changes just cleaning up the actual physical living of our life. We turned off our refrigerator two and a half years ago, because refrigerators are monuments to ill-usage of energy on the planet. It’s made out of chemicals that hurt the ozone. It’s designed primarily for products of extractive agriculture; it’s for dairy products, it’s for meat, it’s for the kind of vegetables that are raised and shipped on trucks. And it’s all quite recent.

Rachel Dutton: Living on the prairie, in the context of the larger nature that has nothing to do with culture, we slowly started living life as an art. It’s as if washing dishes, if done with presence, is as much of an art form as painting a picture or making a sculpture.

Suzi Gablik: Did your desire to make the kind of art objects you had made before simply dwindle, and die out in you?

RD: It just faded away.

RO: Actually, when we were first on the Rio Grande, we walked down to the river and when I stopped there, I immediately thought, “I’m never going to carve another piece of sculpture again.”

SG: Let’s swing around to my generic question for these conversations, “How do we live, then, in a time of decline, or maybe even collapse, and what role does art have?”

RD: None.

RO: None. None.

RD: For me personally, making art was a powerful act, but it was a powerful act because I had no other access to anything more powerful. I had no access to making a daily life of prayer. If you can live your daily life as a prayer, it is inherently more powerful than going to your studio.

RD: We went to a lot of trouble to get rid of toxic things in our environment. We still have a car – that’s a tough one. We got rid of the refrigerator. We got rid of the camera. We gave it away, because we didn’t want to use photochemicals anymore to promote ourselves. That’s the end of your art career right there, if you have no more camera.

RO: The basic plan is to sell the house, and pay off the mortgage; and then we’re going to just live someplace as simply as we can… We’ve also realized that you don’t need all this stuff that we live with today. You don’t need to have a mortgage, to have a house that keeps you warm; you don’t need to have this infrastructure in order to have food. There is enough food in the wild to feed us if we are able to live with the earth…

RO: Hunter-gatherers are the apex of human civilization. We need to go back to that point. All else is a bastardization and a plague. We can’t assume what is comfortable for society, pick and choose. You’ve got to do it all the way, or not at all. Or we die.”

The actual interview is obviously much longer. If you want to read the whole thing there is a copy in the library or I can make a photocopy for you.

Monday, April 19, 2010

What's So Smart About "Smart Choices"?

We’ve all seen the “Smart Choices” label on the front of what seems like every product at the conventional supermarket, but what does the label entail? According to the many major food corporations that have adopted the Smart Choices label and attached it to their products, the symbol stands to identify quality food products that are, essentially, tasty yet healthy (or at least suggests that the product is a healthier choice).

From the viewpoint of those behind the labeling scheme, they see the Smart Choices logo as a way of guiding consumer’s choices towards the products that are the lesser of the nutritional evils. One of the designers offers a scenario in which the Smart Choices logo is working productively, “You’re rushing around, you’re trying to think about healthy eating for your kids, and you have a choice between a doughnut and a cereal. So Froot Loops is a better choice.”

At what point have our breakfast choices ever been limited to Froot Loops or doughnuts? The label has no significance whatsoever, considering it is applied to products that contain “caffeine, food dyes, the preservative BHA, artificial sweeteners, and other additives that are suspected of causing or have been shown to cause adverse reproductive, behavioral, or gastrointestinal effects or cancer.”

The creators of the Smart Choices label can afford to stay in business because major corporations including Coca-Cola, General Mills, Kellogg’s, Kraft, and PepsiCo are throwing money in sums of up to $100,000 annually in order to have the Smart Choices label privileges. The label is then applied liberally, because the more items the Smart Choice program certifies, the more money it earns. This gives me all the more incentive to read labels and know what they truly represent.

Green Burials

Will be presenting on this tomorrow!

Some links:

Some things to consider:

1. What are the differences (and possibly benefits) of green burial vs. (green) cremation.

2. How does green burial benefit the earth, or is it another 'green' marketing tool.

Vegetarian is the new Prius

Jordan Bogash

In the article Vegetarian is the new Prius by Kathy Freston, the basic argument is that people are buying greener cars such as the prius and the next step to a greener planet is going vegetarian. She uses the metaphor vegetarian is the new prius, like its the new cool thing to do even name dropping Leonardo DiCaprio saying even he drives prius and is a vegetarian. which personally I dont care what Leo is doing. But Kathy Freston does write about alarming information with such facts such as animal agriculture accounts for 9% of our carbon dioxide emissions, it emits 37% of our methane, and a whopping 65% of our nitrous oxide, it makes sence to go vegitarian.

I think the intended audiance is towards hip meat eaters. My first objection to everyone going vegitarian is that humans are supposed to eat meat. But with alarming facts on animal argiculter destroying or planet, a compromise would make more sence for all the meat eaters to cut back rather then cutting meat out of their diet complety. Kathy Freston gives examples of how America is opening up to vegitarian foods such as Burger King offering delicious veggie burgers and supermarket refrigerators are lined with heart-healthy creamy soymilk and tasty veggie deli slices. With that stated I think kathy freston is saying it that going vegitarian is the cool new thing to save the enviroment. I think she could have done a better job getting her point across by saying cut back on the meat or are planet is doomed. Rather then throwing this trendy celebrity talk all through out her article.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

You never let me down, Japan.

Japan invests in space solar energy!!!

Not that it's going to happen anytime soon, or continued funding for the project will last that long, but Japan is investing in space solar energy.

In a nutshell, putting little satellites into space that collects the energy from the sun and then ZAPPING it down to earth with LASERS/ MICROWAVES. Here's the link:

Activism made easy

So I googled the Union of Concerned Scientists after seeing it mentioned in the Paul Roberts article. Yes, they have a butterfly logo but they do make it super easy to e-mail your congress(wo)men about issues that are happening - right now - in the government. I for one feel totally empowered by the bright orange TAKE ACTION buttons. Click here for a list of things upon which you can TAKE ACTION.

And for those of you who, like me until about 20 minutes ago, had no idea how congress actually does shit, they break it down in a very comprehensible way . The link to THOMAS at the bottom is useful as well if you're interested in reading the minutes of congressional hearings.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Hello all,

I am giving a report on the Transition Network movement. Here are some links to become familiar with what the movement is all about:

Wikipedia site:

Official Websites:

Interview with Transition Network founder, Rob Hopkins:

Critique of the movement from worldchanging.com:

- Jon


This week my report will be about Aquaponics, a symbiotic environment of plants and fish. This cross between hydroponics and fish-farming is a recirculating system that yields incredibly high crop results using less than half the water normally used on farms.

Aquaponics is a sustainable way to grown food, it is especially effective in locations where the soil is bad and water is scarce. It is a way to provide local and organic food year-round.

Here are some things to look at before next class:

This is a farmer’s youtube channel documenting his own Aquaponics greenhouse. I suggest looking at the winter update as well (located to the right of the video).





And some things to ponder:

How can we best use this system to serve our society?

Although this new type of agriculture cuts back on water, foreign fertilizers and the use of machines powered by oil, it uses a lot of energy and man power. Is this an acceptable trade off?


Article by Malcolm G. Scully

Precis by Reggie Gay

This article operates under the assumption that, although agriculture is largely beneficial, it’s brutalizing nature has played a large role in the fall of civilizations throughout history. Wes Jackson, founder of the environmental studies program at Cal State University Sacramento in the 1970s, is the key figure in the article. He proposes that there is a “problem of agriculture,” despite increasing productivity and the “success of the green revolution.” He claims that the economic success of industrial agriculture has lead us to believe that there is no problem, but that the chemical requirements (dependence on fossil fuels, pesticides, and fertilizers) are unsupportable. A good metaphor to the agricultural situations might be an athlete on steroids: chemicals heighten productivity, but degrade the body. His solution is what he calls “natural systems agriculture:” creating a system that mimics native ecosystems. But is it a good way to think about agriculture? To pretend that it is working on a deeper, more cooperative level because it “mimics nature?” The effect is creating something that looks like nature, but is necessarily not. Jackson says, “We must make this subject as complicated as it is,” and I think his system is not a bad solution, but I don’t think it takes into account the affect of the scale of industrial agriculture in tandem with its use of chemicals. Four “basic biological questions” are presented that address crop yields and natural vs. artificial fertilizers and pesticides, but not how a man-made ecosystem is replacing a natural one. An alternative solution presented in the article is the use of biotechnology. Jackson is not against the idea of biotechnology, but it’s affect of enabling corporations to “turn DNA into capital” and possibly degrading a crop’s genome. He suggests that all the issues and stakes are subtle, and in fact unfathomable, but that we need a breakthrough in agriculture that makes the unknowable knowable.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Precis for "Breadbasket of Democracy"

The article Breadbasket of Democracy is a story about the effects of corporate run farming on local farms in North Dakota. The Monsanto corporation embedded itself in several branches of the agricultural industry in North Dakota such as genetically engineered seeds and other products. A few general problems arose by the presence of the Monsanto corporation. First, their genetically made seeds needed to be cared for with herbicides that only Monsanto made and this forces the farmers who were interested in the new competitive farming (or who had been bought out) to not only use corporate seeds but also herbicides. Also, they created their products and required that all of their genetically engineered seeds (in the case of the article, the seeds were wheat) receive a patent so that they could control its growth and use. The article described the term "brownbagging", which is when someone knowingly or unknowingly uses patented seeds in their crops. Using patented seeds occurs either when they are harvested from a first generation of crops made from seeds bought from Monsanto or when they are placed in the crop without having purchased the seed due to thievery or simply wind carrying pollen. So, by the standards of the Monsanto corporation a farm can steal patented seeds without even doing it on purpose.
Todd Leake, a local farmer in North Dakota, claimed that growing wheat had been in his family for 120 years. Leake, being forced to do many of the things described above, took a stand against Monsanto and all corporate run farms. He expressed a set of concerns such as, in the 1990s several overseas markets rejected genetically engineered food from the U.S. and he feared this would once again occur and crumble the prices and overall business. He created a group of other concerned farmers and they fought it out in court and were able to ban Monsanto's control over North Dakota farms. There does not seem to be a specified thesis of this article but the underlying message seems to be (at least from Leake's side of things) that growing any kind of food or crop is a human right and requirement and should not be infringed upon by any other human. This message speaks to all demographics that are not clouded by corporate business.
Sean Haywood