Wednesday, December 22, 2004

It’s the End of the World as We Know It

A simple fact of life is that any system based on the use of nonrenewable resources is unsustainable. Despite all the warnings that we are headed for an ecological and environmental perfect storm, many Americans are oblivious to the flashing red light on the earth’s fuel gauge. Many feel the “American way of life” is an entitlement that operates outside the laws of nature. At the Earth Summit in 1992, George H.W. Bush forcefully declared, “The American way of life is not negotiable.” That way of life requires a highly disproportionate use of the world’s nonrenewable resources. While only containing 4% of the world population, the United States consumes 25% of the world’s oil. The centerpiece of that way of life is suburbia. And massive amounts of nonrenewable fuels are required to maintain the project of suburbia.

Lifestyle as Direct Action

His new book, “Plants Roots: 101 Reasons Why the Human Diet is Rooted Exclusively in Plants” (Outside the Box Publishing), is a mother lode of verification on how the eschewing of animals as food, clothes, entertainment, shooting targets, and laboratory subjects makes sense. And when I say “makes sense,” I mean not only for the typical selfish human wishing to steer clear of degenerative diseases...but also for every living thing on the planet.

Battlefield Earth

The environment is in trouble and the religious right doesn't care. It's time to act as if the future depends on us – because it does.

Dreaming of a Green Christmas

Despite the five million extra tons of trash generated between Thanksgiving and New Year's, many people plan to 'go green' and give environmentally conscious gifts.

Paving the Amazon with Soy

When the owner of the largest private soy producer in the world is also the governor of a soy-rich Brazilian state, is it any wonder that deforestation is rampant?

In the footsteps of Mandela and King: Two Vermont filmmakers chronicle the life of Nobel Peace Prize winner Maathai

At first, Dater said, they thought they could make a low-budget film with what they already had. Then they went to Yale and met Maathai, and realized there was no way they could make a cursory film about her.

Through a gender lens: Vermont health services for women are exemplary

A 50-state study conducted in May by the National Women’s Law Center, using a set of 27 benchmarks developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, found that Vermont ranked third in the nation in providing health care for women.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Apartments are out of reach for many Vermonters

A report entitled "Out of Reach" was commissioned by the National Low Income Housing Coalition. In Rutland Vermont, a person earning the minimum wage of $7 an hour would be able to afford a two bedroom apartment at the rate of $451 a month. The Fair Market Rent for an apartment if Rutland is $698 a month. This person would have to come up with an extra $247 per month.

The report also indicates that a person on Social Security Income (SSI),receiving $616 monthly could afford to pay $185 per month (30% of income) for a single bedroom apartment. The Fair Market Value of a single bedroom apartment is $568 a month. This individual would have to find $383 a month to pay for housing.

Clearly, the housing market and the wages are out of line. It gets worse. A Section 8 Housing Voucher allows low income Vermonters and the disabled to pay 30% of their income towards their housing whether it be in a housing facility or their apartment of choice. Recently, there has been a 36 month wait to get a Section 8 voucher. But now, the list has been discontinued indefinately because the vouchers are frozen.They are not even taking names.

Besides this attack on low income and disabled Vermonters being cruel, it also is fiscally foolish. How easy will it be for folks getting out of our institutions to find housing? What about housing for workers at our ski areas? What will it mean for families unable to pay the rent, more homelessness? What will the overall impact be on our community? The fix here folks is not in the free market as we are witnessing.

The competition for housing throughout the Northeast has driven up the costs of living beyond what wages can pay for. The free market is alive and well and active in the housing market, and this is the result. Yet, there is really no free market when it comes to wages. Why does Killington have to go overseas to find employees? Why do we have to fly agricultural workers from other countries to pick our crops? What has happened to the best paying jobs in our region? Payroll is simply a cost that must be managed like any other cost, and it is therefore kept as low as possible. An argument economists often make is that the minimum wage is not meant for working families, that it is for students, season workers, part time workers, etc. Well, increasingly here in Vermont, more and more families appear to be depending on these wages to get by.

The free market can be a powerful engine in providing customers with highest value at the lowest cost when there is competition. But it is not the answer in all situations as we see here in Rutland. Housing has got to be considered a basic human right. So, the person making minimum wage and looking for an apartment should be willing to work 77 hours per week for housing. We can and must do better than this.

Issues of body, spirit snarl return of Narragansett remains

Nearly a century ago, eight bodies of Narragansett tribespeople were exhumed in the name of science and shipped to a Smith College laboratory. No permission from the tribe was sought or granted, making the noted professor who oversaw the work -- in the view of tribal leaders -- not a scientist but a grave robber.

Seed company refuses to sell GE squash seeds in Vermont

A New York-based seed company will become the first to refuse to sell its genetically engineered vegetable seeds in Vermont rather than meet the labeling requirements of a new state law.

Lighting the way: World looks to Vermont for energy solutions

The world is beating a path to Vermont. And, it’s not for maple syrup, cheddar cheese, ice cream, or Howard Dean. They’ve come for light bulbs.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

The World is Changing works from a simple premise: that the tools, models and ideas for building a better future lie all around us. That plenty of people are working on tools for change, but the fields in which they work remain unconnected. That the motive, means and opportunity for profound positive change are already present. That another world is not just possible, it's here. We only need to put the pieces together.

It's a collaborative weblog with a lot of good content, news stories, and links to sustainability resources.

If you need more encouragement, Rosemary Woodruff provides an optimistic view of how the world is changing in "A Memo Designed to Cheer Up the Human Race."

Cancer: Toxins and Lifestyles

Because of our globalized culture and modern food transport and storage, people have lost a feeling for what kind of food to eat that makes sense. The foods normally eaten historically by sedentary, temperate-climate populations—such as whole grains, vegetables, and legumes—usually get skipped in our society. People are too overworked to prepare regular meals at home from fresh, whole, unprocessed foods. Most of today's available foods are processed, lifeless, embalmed, colored, zapped, and chemicalized.

Group's Surprising Beef With Meat Industry

Study ranks production of beef, poultry and pork as
second to automobiles in ecological cost.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Frequently Asked Questions About Nonviolent Action

There is hardly a person who not wish to be identified as a "peaceful" person. Yet, we find ourselves continually mired in violent conflicts around the world. Our society has progressed in a great many areas the most obvious being technological development. Over the years I have been inspired by individuals who been able to grasp the problems of violence, either domestic or international, and work towards furthering our understanding of the abuses of power and authority. Unfortunately, our country has not progressed in its development of curbing these abuses. Of course many of us are worried that we are in fact moving backwards. So the question remains, if everyone wants peace, why do we not have it? The same question can be said about health care. I am convinced that peace is not something others do for us or that is won by our military. Peace is something that people must insist upon and work at. Holding those in check is the work at hand. Please check out the Albert Einstein Institute in Boston. There you will find information that will help you decide what action to take. Because..............The world is dangerous not because of those who do harm but because of those who look at it without doing anything. Mike

PBS' Future Post-Moyers

....Mitchell is correct that the country's congressionally mandated transition to an all-digital broadcast system provides a unique opportunity to explore permanent funding. There are 20 to 30 billions of dollars worth of public spectrum (airwaves) that will return to the government from commercial and public TV stations. Even a small portion of the proceeds could easily generate sustainable annual revenues for noncommercial TV and radio.

The Real Importance of the Kyoto Treaty - Leaving America Behind

Complying with Kyoto may prove more difficult than Europe envisions, but Europe has achieved what it regards as a major foreign policy victory and this signals the growing risk of an even sharper-edged trans-Atlantic rivalry.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

The Hundred Dollar Way to a Happier Holiday

By Erika Mitchell - In his recent book, The Hundred Dollar Holiday, Bill McKibben describes how his family has adopted a hundred dollar spending limit for celebrating Christmas. Did this move result in rebellion or revolution or tears? No! Instead, McKibben tells us that holidays with his family have actually become less stressful and more enjoyable since instituting the spending cap.

The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change

Policy-makers and the media, particularly in the United States, frequently assert that climate science is highly uncertain. Some have used this as an argument against adopting strong measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For example, while discussing a major U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report on the risks of climate change, then-EPA administrator Christine Whitman argued, "As [the report] went through review, there was less consensus on the science and conclusions on climate change" (1). Some corporations whose revenues might be adversely affected by controls on carbon dioxide emissions have also alleged major uncertainties in the science (2). Such statements suggest that there might be substantive disagreement in the scientific community about the reality of anthropogenic climate change. This is not the case.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Reasons for Optimism on Global Health Front

The study found several surprises or what Levine calls wows in analyzing the cases.
The most important, perhaps, was that success has been achieved even in the poorest of countries that are characterized by grinding poverty and weak or virtually non-existent health systems.

The Power of Nightmares

For 3 nights in October, the BBC electrified their viewers by showing a documentary exposing the goals of American Neoconservatives and Al Qaeda. This documentary is a deeply disturbing film as it shows how both the Neoconservatives and Al Qaeda have used fear as a tool in reaching their political goals. More detailed information about this film can be obtained at Commondreams. The film can actually be watched on streaming video at Information Clearinghouse.

The intro to the series begins: "In the past, politicians promised to create a better world. They had different ways of achieving this. But their power and authority came from the optimistic visions they offered to their people. Those dreams failed. And today, people have lost faith in ideologies. Increasingly, politicians are seen simply as managers of public life. But now, they have discovered a new role that restores their power and authority. Instead of delivering dreams, politicians now promise to protect us from nightmares. They say that they will rescue us from dreadful dangers that we cannot see and do not understand. And the greatest danger of all is international terrorism. A powerful and sinister network, with sleeper cells in countries across the world. A threat that needs to be fought by a war on terror. But much of this threat is a fantasy, which has been exaggerated and distorted by politicians. It’s a dark illusion that has spread unquestioned through governments around the world, the security services, and the international media."

If you have high speed internet access you can download this film in its entirety at
SILT3 You will need a bit torrent client to obtain this bit torrent file.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Economic `Armageddon' predicted

Stephen Roach, the chief economist at investment banking giant Morgan Stanley spoke privately about how daunting a task it will be to pull us out of this economic slump. For those of you in debt, this is not a good scenario. Because of the record trade defecit the dollar is expected to continue to fall opines Roach. This will force Greenspan to raise interest rates so that we can hold inflation at bay. This creates problems for many Americans who are in hock up to their eye balls. Those interst payments are going to be killers. The facts speak for themselves. Says Roach "Twenty years ago the total debt of U.S. households was equal to half the size of the economy. Today the figure is 85 percent." Are you getting the picture?

On a similar note, PBS's Frontline ran a program called The Secret History of the Credit Card (available on line for viewing). This is yet another example of the unraveling of our governments responsibility at protecting its citizens from unscrupulous businesses and how embolden corporate America is now becoming. One of the most striking questions asked on this program is " Did you know that if you miss one payment for any bill that comes to your household, your Visa company can double your interest rate with only a 2 week notice?" This apparantly is true for many credit card companies. It's time for Americans to re-examine their relationship to debt and look at the cost of our credit cards. There's sharks in the water and they are hungry!

Hydrogen Production Method Could Bolster Fuel Supplies

Researchers at a government nuclear laboratory and a ceramics company in Salt Lake City say they have found a way to produce pure hydrogen with far less energy than other methods, raising the possibility of using nuclear power to indirectly wean the transportation system from its dependence on oil.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Got Merkel?

On Thursday evening Jim Merkel spoke at Green Mountain College about his book "Radical Simplicity." A good size crowd showed at Withey Hall as Jim showed slides of his research in Kerala India and his exploits in living as simply as possible from California to British Columbia to East Corinth Vermont. Jim is an energetic soul with sparkle and enthusiasm that was infectious to those of us open to his message. After years as a electric engineer who designed weapons and travelled around the globe selling his systems to people "on both sides of the battle", Jim's conscience got the better of him. His book chronicles the challenges we face as a planet in regards to resource depletion. Jim actually presents solutions to these problems. Though I have several books I am working on right now, the pages are going to fly so I can get to Jim's book "Radical Simplicity.";>) mob

A visionary moved by the earth's plight

Photographs are usually easy to classify: realistic or abstract; portrait, landscape, action shot, and so on. But the startlingly original images of Robert ParkeHarrison defy simple classification.

Without A Car in the World

Since this is a truth walk, I will offer another confession. Shedding the car was no ordeal. From the beginning, I had scant trouble adjusting to my non-motored life. And, as the months wore on, the pluses far outweighed the minuses. For me, at least, it was easy to be car-free.