Thursday, July 30, 2015

Greenpeace: ACT NOW


The last Greenpeace USA activist has just come down after almost 40 HOURS blocking Shell's Arctic-bound ship. They could not have done this without the support of millions of people demanding we save the Arctic!

But it’s not over. ACT NOW and SHARE this post wide and far: http://grnpc.org/IgtUS


 
 #ShellNo


Scientists Identify 'Triple Threat' Endangering US Coastal Cities

Flooding in Hoboken during Superstorm Sandy. (Photo: WhatsAllThisThen/flickr/cc)

The 'meteorological double whammy' of heavy rainfall and storm surges is only further exacerbated by rising sea levels, scientists say
A trio of phenomena attributed at least in part to climate change—sea-level rise, storm surges, and heavy rainfall—poses an increasing risk to residents of major U.S. cities including Boston, New York, Houston, San Diego, and San Francisco, according to new research published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change.
"Call it a triple threat," Steven Meyers, a scientist at the University of South Florida and one of the paper's authors, told the Guardian.

Using historical data on rainfall, tide gauge readings, and extreme weather occurrences, the scientists explored the combined risks that endanger broad stretches of the U.S. coasts. Specifically, they looked at scenarios in which heavy rainfall combines with so-called "storm surges"—the abnormal rise of water generated by a storm—to create "compound flooding."

Writing for Climate Central, Andrea Thompson further explains: "The wall of ocean water that the winds of a storm system, such as a hurricane, can push in front of it can combine with heavy rains to exacerbate flooding in two ways: Either the rainfall inland can ramp up the severity of the surge-driven flooding, or the surge can elevate water levels to the point that gravity-driven flow of rainwater is impeded, causing that water to collect in streets and seep into homes."

That "meteorological double whammy," as Thompson calls it, is only further exacerbated by rising sea levels. Experts have linked climate change to both extreme weather and rising oceans.

Nor surprisingly, the risks of compound flooding are getting worse over time, the study shows.
As lead author Thomas Wahl, also of the University of South Florida, and University of Maine professor Shaleen Jain wrote in a piece published at The Conversation on Monday, they found that "along large coastline stretches around the U.S. a systematic linkage exists between the two important drivers for coastal flooding, making it more likely that the two occur in tandem. Our analysis showed that over the past century, the number of compound flood events for many U.S. coastal cities has increased."

In New York City, for example, the weather conditions that typically cause the combined conditions are twice as likely to occur today than in the mid-20th century, the researchers found.

With nearly 40 percent of the U.S. population residing in coastal counties, the paper warns, "[i]mpacts of flooding in these usually low-lying, densely populated, and highly developed regions, can be devastating with wide-ranging social, economic, and environmental consequences."

As Arielle Duhaime-Ross wrote at The Verge, "[b]etween 2010 and 2014, the average flood claim was almost $42,000. And that doesn't even take into account the number of people that are displaced following a severe flooding event. That's why researchers are trying to figure out which factors contribute to flooding; it's the kind of information that can really come in handy when rebuilding a city, for instance."
  
Indeed, that is precisely the researchers' goal. "Gaining more insight into the frequency and likelihood of compound floods can help planners better assess risk from flooding to critical infrastructure," Wahl and Jain wrote.
  

Monday, July 27, 2015

Gary Olson: Are Some Cultures Better Than Others at Cultivating Empathy?


In 1999, Cuba founded ELAM (the Latin America School of Medicine), the world's largest medical school. It offers a free education (including books and a living stipend) to students from poor countries, and more than 10,000 students have graduated from its highly respected six-year program. (Photo: PBS News Hour/flickr/cc)
 
Today's pop quiz: Which of the following countries has the most medical professionals working in the world's poorest countries; has doctors who have performed 3 million free eye operations in 33 countries; created the world's largest medical school with 22,000 students; has a ratio of one physician for every 167 people (No. 1 in the world); has lower infant mortality and higher life expectancy than the United States; and has free, high quality, universal primary health care?

A. Sweden
B. France
C. Canada
D. Norway
E. None of the above

The correct answer is E. None of the above. Many Americans are surprised to learn that the country described above is Cuba. For more than five decades we've heard plenty about Cuba's shortcomings, but virtually nothing about its stunning accomplishments.
 
For many scholars, the Cuban health care system is the jewel in the crown of Cuban achievements. Here I choose to focus on Cuba's medical internationalism, a practice admired throughout the world but virtually unknown to U.S. citizens.

Marilynne Robinson: Love Is Holy


Love is holy because it is like grace--the worthiness 
of its object is never really what matters.
 

Walt Whitman: Your Eyes


What is that you express in your eyes? 
It seems to me more than all the print I have read in my life.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Naomi Klein: A Civilizational Wake-Up Call


Our economic system and our planetary system are now at war. Or, more accurately, our economy is at war with many forms of life on earth, including human life. What the climate needs to avoid collapse is a contraction in humanity’s use of resources; what our economic model demands to avoid collapse is unfettered expansion. Only one of these sets of rules can be changed, and it’s not the laws of nature...

So we are left with a stark choice: allow climate disruption to change everything about our world, or change pretty much everything about our economy to avoid that fate. But we need to be very clear: because of our decades of collective denial, no gradual, incremental options are now available to us...

It is a civilizational wake-up call. A powerful message—spoken in the language of fires, floods, droughts, and extinctions—telling us that we need an entirely new economic model and a new way of sharing this planet.



Naomi Klein: The Polluters Pay


The costs of coping with increasing weather extremes are astronomical. In the United States, each major disaster seems to cost taxpayers upward of a billion dollars. The cost of Superstorm Sandy is estimated at $65 billion. And that was just one year after Hurricane Irene caused around $10 billion in damage, just one episode in a year that saw fourteen billion-dollar disasters in the U.S. alone. Globally, 2011 holds the title as the costliest year ever for disasters, with a total damages reaching at least $380 billion.And with policymakers still locked in the vise grip of austerity logic, these rising emergency expenditures are being offset with cuts to everyday public spending, which will make societies even more vulnerable during the next disaster - a classic vicious cycle. 

It was never a good idea to neglect the foundations of our societies in this way. In the context of climate change, however, that decision looks suicidal. There are many important debates to be had about the best way to respond to climate change - storm walls or ecosystem restoration? Decentralized renewables, industrial scale wind power combined with natural gas, or nuclear power? Small-scale organic farms or industrial food systems? There is, however, no scenario in which we can avoid wartime levels of spending in the public sector - not if we are serious about preventing catastrophic levels of warming, and minimizing the destructive potential of the coming storms.

It's no mystery where that public money needs to be spent. Much of it should go to the kinds of ambitious emission-reducing projects already discussed - the smart grids, the light rail, the citywide composting systems, the building retrofits, the visionary transit systems, the urban redesigns to keep us from spending half our lives in traffic jams. The private sector is ill suited to taking on most of these large infrastructure investments if the services are to be accessible, which they must be in order to be effective, the profit margins that attract private players simply aren't there....

About now a sensible reader would be asking: how on earth are we going to pay for all this? It's the essential question. A 2011 survey by the U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs looked at how much it would cost for humanity to "overcome poverty, increase food production to eradicate hunger without degrading land and water resource, and avert climate change catastrophe." The price tag was $1,9 trillion a year for the next forty years - and "at least one half of the required investments would have to be realized in developing countries."

As we all know, public spending is going in the opposite direction almost everywhere except for a handful of fast-growing so-called emerging economies. In North America and Europe, the economic crisis that began in 2008 is still being used as a pretext to slash aid abroad and cut climate programs at home. All over Southern Europe, environmental policies and regulations have been clawed back, most tragically in Spain, which, facing fierce austerity pressure, drastically cut subsidies for renewables projects, sending solar projects and wind farms spiraling toward default and closure. The U.K. under David Cameron has also cut supports for renewable energy.

So if we accept that governments are broke, and they're not likely to introduce "quantitative easing" (aka printing money) for the climate system as they have for the banks, where is the money supposed to come from? Since we have only a few short years to dramatically lower our emissions, the only rational way forward is to fully embrace the principle already well established in Western law: the polluter pays.

Fossil fuel companies have known for decades that their core product was warming the planet, and yet they have not only failed to adapt to that reality, they have actively blocked progress at every turn. Meanwhile, oil and gas companies remain some of the most profitable corporations in history, with the top five oil companies pulling in $900 billion in profits form 2001 to 2010. Exxon-Mobil still holds the record for the highest corporate profits ever reported in the United States, earning $41 billion in 2011 and $45 billion in 2012. These companies are rich, quite simply, because they have dumped the cost of cleaning up their mess onto regular people around the world. It is this situation that, most fundamentally, needs to change.

 - Naomi Klein, excerpted from
This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs The Climate

Reflections On Our Inner Beauty


It is my belief that we humans also have beautiful hearts. We just build walls around them, often without even realizing it. We need to take them down. Which means that we need to learn how to be very brave. It takes courage to be in this world with increasingly open hearts, eyes, minds, bodies, spirits, souls. Yet, it is my belief that we can do this, that we can - with support, intention, and mindfulness - become more of the loving person that we already are, that is our true essence. Dogs are loving reminders of our inner beauty.

Namaste ~ Molly 
 

What Our Tax Dollars Pay For

from Daily Kos

"A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death." 

~ Martin Luther King, Jr., Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?, 1967

********* 

I also appreciate my husband Ron's reflections on this:
"Sometimes a picture IS worth a thousand words. Global 'terrorism' is the answer to the prayers of arms manufactures and our politicians who are bought and paid for by the war industry. We are kept in constant fear so we won't question the madness of our social values. A measure of the success of this propaganda is the percentage of Americans who say that ISIS is the greatest threat to America. Not climate change, social and economic inequality,failing educational system etc., etc., etc." - Ron Matela

*********
 
 Another world is possible! May we work together to make it happen!
Peace ~ Molly 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Riane Eisler: Transcending the Polarities


Through the use of the dominator and partnership models of social organization for the analysis of both our present and our potential future, we can also begin to transcend the conventional polarities between right and left, capitalism and communism, religion and secularism, and even masculinism and feminism.

 Riane Eisler, The Chalice and the Blade: Our History, Our Future---Updated With a New Epilogue

 

Riane Eisler: Two Very Different Ways Of Relating


Underneath all the complex and seemingly random currents and crosscurrents, is the struggle between two very different ways of relating, of viewing our world and living in it. It is the struggle between two underlying possibilities for relations: the partnership model and the domination model.

- Riane Eisler 
 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Dalai Lama: Transforming Ourselves


Spiritual practice involves, on the one hand, acting out of concern for 
others' well-being. On the other, it entails transforming ourselves 
so that we become more readily disposed to do so. 

- Dalai Lama

Henry A. Giroux | The Racist Killing Fields in the US: The Death of Sandra Bland

By Henry A. Giroux, Truthout | News Analysis

Sandra Blank.Sandra Bland. (Image: Jared Rodriguez / Truthout)On July 9, soon after Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old African-American woman, moved to Texas from Naperville, Illinois, to take a new job as a college outreach officer at her alma mater, Prairie View A&M, she was pulled over by the police for failing to signal while making a lane change. What followed has become all too common and illustrates the ever-increasing rise in domestic terrorism in the United States. She was pulled out of the car by the police for allegedly becoming combative, and was pinned to the ground by two officers. A video obtained by ABC 7 of Bland's arrest "doesn't appear to show Bland being combative with officers but does show two officers on top of Bland."[1]
A witness reported that "he saw the arresting officer pull Bland out of the car, throw her to the ground and put his knee on her neck while he arrested her."[2] In the video, Bland can be heard questioning the officers' methods of restraint. She says: "You just slammed my head to the ground. Do you not even care about that that? I can't even hear."[3] She was then arrested for assaulting an officer, a third-degree felony, and interned at the Waller County, Texas, jail. On July 13, she was found dead in her cell. Quite unbelievably, the police reported that she took her own life, and the Waller County Jail is trying to rule her death a suicide. Friends and family say that this scenario is inconceivable, given what they know about Sandra: She was a young woman starting a new job, who was eagerly looking forward to her future.
Sandra Bland was an outspoken civil rights activist critical of police brutality. She often posted videos in which she talked about important civil rights issues, and once stated: "I'm here to change history. If we want a change we can really truly make it happen." [4]
Sandra Bland's family and friends believe that foul play was involved in her death, and rightly so.[5] Their belief is bolstered by the fact that the head sheriff of Waller County, Glenn Smith, who made the first public comments about Bland's in-custody death, was suspended for documented cases of racism when he was chief of police in Hempstead, Texas, in 2007. After serving his suspension, more complaints of racism came in, and Smith was actually fired as chief of police in Hempstead."[6]
Bland's death over a routine traffic stop is beyond monstrous. It is indicative of a country where extreme violence is the norm - a society fed by the legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, the incarceration state, the drug wars and the increasing militarization of everything, including the war on Black youth. There is more at stake here than the fact that, as federal statistics indicate, the police are "31 percent more likely to pull over a Black driver than a white driver"[7]: Routine traffic stops for Black drivers contain the real possibility of turning deadly. This regular violence propels a deeply racist and militarized society. It is a violence that turns on young people and adults alike who are considered disposable.[8] This type of harassment is integral to a form of domestic terrorism in which Black people are routinely beaten, arrested, incarcerated and too often killed. This is the new totalitarianism of the boot-in-your-face racism, one in which the punishing state is the central institution for both controlling poor people of color and enforcing the rules of the financial elite. How much longer can this war on youth go on?...
In a country in which militarism is viewed as an ideal and the police and soldiers are treated like heroes, violence becomes the primary modality for solving problems. One consequence is that state violence is either ignored, rendered trivial or shamelessly legitimated in the name of the law, security or self-defense. State violence fueled by the merging of the war on terror, the militarization of all aspects of society, and a deep-seated, ruthless and unapologetic racism is now ubiquitous and should be labeled as a form of domestic terrorism.[12] Terrorism, torture and state violence are no longer simply part of our history; they have become the nervous system of an increasingly authoritarian state. Eric Garner told the police as he was being choked to death that he could not breathe. His words also apply to democracy itself, which is lacking the civic oxygen that gives it life. The United States is a place where democracy cannot breathe.

Please go here to read the full article: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/31945-the-racist-killing-fields-in-the-us-the-death-of-sandra-bland

Ta-Nehisi Coates: An America That Looks Away

  
An America that looks away is ignoring not just the sins of the past 
but the sins of the present and the certain sins of the future.

Ta-Nehisi Coates: An Honest Assessment


The laments about 'black pathology,' the criticism of black family structures by pundits and intellectuals, ring hollow in a country whose existence was predicated on the torture of black fathers, on the rape of black mothers, on the sale of black children. An honest assessment of America’s relationship to the black family reveals the country to be not its nurturer but its destroyer.

  Ta-Nehisi Coates

Monday, July 20, 2015

Jack Kornfield: A Wise and Loving Heart


Joy comes not through possession or ownership but through 
a wise and loving heart... Weigh the true advantages 
of forgiveness and resentment to the heart. 
Then choose. 
 
- Jack Kornfield
  

Paulo Freire: Teaching Children To Participate in the Transformation of Their World


Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world. 

 ― Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed
 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Jack Kornfield: Embracing the Sacred


We can bring our spiritual practice into the streets, 
into our communities, when we see each realm as a temple, 
as a place to discover that which is sacred. 
 
– Jack Kornfield