The War on Cash

SUBHEAD: A war on independence, privacy, and informal unaccounted personal behavior - all for a small fee.

By Brett Scott on 19 August 2016 for the Long and Short -
(http://thelongandshort.org/society/war-on-cash)


Image above: Aloha Spirits in Hanapepe, Kauai, Hawaii. Cash Only! From (https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Ch83WepWEAAAMoM.jpg).

[IB Publisher's note: There is a business in my town that's open 365 days a year from morning until latenight. It's called Aloha Spirits. It's a tiny store, but it provides a wide variety of things people really want - things they have habits for - including beer, liqueur, wine, sodas, cigarettes, vapes, tobacco, condoms, aspirin, decongestants, energy drinks, chips, candy, ice cream, gum and a variety of items that satisfy all the flavor cravings (sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami). Aloha also has some fresh local produce and fruit like eggplants and pineapples. Aloha Spirits only accepts cash and so my secret desires are between us alone.]

Several months ago I stayed in an offbeat Amsterdam hotel that brewed its own beer but refused to accept cash for it. Instead, they forced me to use the Visa payment card network to get my UK bank to transfer €4 to their Dutch bank via the elaborate international correspondent banking system.
I was there with civil liberties campaigner Ben Hayes.

We were irritated by the anti-cash policy, something the hotel staff took for annoyance at the international payments charges we'd face. That wasn't it though. Our concern was an intuitive one about a potential future world in which we'd have to report our every economic move to a bank, and the effect this could have on marginalised people.

'Cashless society' is a euphemism for the "ask-your-banks-for-permission-to-pay society".

Rather than an exchange occurring directly between the hotel and me, it takes the form of a "have your people talk to my people" affair. Various intermediaries message one another to arrange an exchange between our respective banks. That may be a convenient option, but in a cashless society it would no longer be an option at all. You'd have no choice but to conform to the intermediaries' automated bureaucracy, giving them a lot of power, and a lot of data about the microtexture of your economic life.

Our concerns are unfashionable. Without any explicit declaration, the War on Cash has begun. Proponents of digital payment systems are riding upon technology-friendly times to proclaim the imminent Death of Cash. Sweden leads in the drive to reach this state, but the UK is edging that way too. London buses stopped accepting cash in 2014, but do accept MasterCard and Visa contactless payment cards.

Every cash transaction you make is one that a payments intermediary like Visa takes no fee from, so it has an interest in making cash appear redundant, deviant and criminal. That's why, in 2016, Visa Europe launched its "Cashfree and Proud" campaign, to inform cardholders that "they can make a Visa contactless payment with confidence and feel liberated from the need to carry cash."

The company's press release declared the campaign "the latest step of Visa UK’s long term strategy to make cash 'peculiar' by 2020."

There you have it. An orchestrated strategy to make us feel weird about cash. Propaganda is a key weapon of war, and all sides present themselves as liberators. Visa comes across like a paternalistic commander when assuring us that we – like a baby taking first steps – will feel a sense of achievement at liberating ourselves from the burden of cash dependence. Visa's technology offers freedom without dependence or dangers.

Visa is joined by other propagandists. In 2014 Penny for London arrived, an apparently altruistic group set up by the Mayor's Fund for London and Barclaycard, using charity as a hook to switch people to contactless cards on the London Underground. PayPal plastered cities with billboards claiming that "new money doesn't need a wallet", along with a video proclaiming: "New money isn't paper, it's progress".

Astroturfing campaigns like No Cash Day are backed by American Express, highlighting such anti-cash themes as the environmental impact of banknotes. Other tactics include pointing out that criminals use cash, that it fuels the shadow economy, that it's unsafe, and that it facilitates tax evasion.

These arguments have notable shortcomings. Criminals use many things that we keep – like cars – and fighting crime doesn't take priority over maintaining other social goods like civil liberties. The 'shadow economy' is a derogatory term used by elites to describe the economic activities of people they neither understand nor care about.

As for safety, having your wallet cash stolen pales in comparison to having your savings obliterated in a digital account hack. And if you care about tax justice, start with the mass corporate tax avoidance facilitated by the formal banking sector.

The peculiar feature about this war, however, is that only one side is fighting. Very few media champions defend cash. It is like a taken-for-granted public utility, whereas digital payments platforms are run by private companies with an incentive to flood the media with their key messages. When they fight this war, their target is our cultural belief in cash, and the belief that its provision should be a public right.

The UK government does not plan to maintain that right, and is siding with the payments industry. Their position is summed up by economist Kenneth Rogoff in his new book The Curse of Cash.

He argues that, apart from facilitating crime and tax evasion, cash hampers central banks from setting negative interest rates. In the absence of cash, everyone must keep their money in the form of digital bank deposits. During recessions central banks could then use the banking system to deliberately corrode people's deposits via negative charges, 'inspiring' them to spend rather than hoard.

The emergent consensus among economic and political elites is that this is the direction to go in, but to manufacture consent for this requires a drip-drip erosion of public resistance. Hearts and minds must be shown that the change represents inevitable and desirable progress.

Anyone defending cash in this context will be labelled as an anti-progress, reactionary, and nostalgic Luddite. That's why we must not defend cash. Rather, we should focus on pointing out that the Death of Cash means the Rise of Something Else. We are fighting a broader battle to maintain alternatives to the growing digital panopticon that is emerging all around us.

To understand this conflict, we must step back. A monetary transaction involves specific goods or services being exchanged for tokens giving access to general goods and services from others. The pub landlord hands me beer at night if I transfer tokens that allow him to get cigarettes from a shopkeeper in the morning.

There are two ways to implement this though.

The first is to give the tokens a physical form. In this scenario, 'getting rich' means accumulating those physical things and 'making a payment' means handing them over to someone else. They are bearer instruments, which means nobody keeps a record of who owns them. Rather, whoever holds them owns them. This is your wallet with notes in it. This is cash.

Alternatively, you can use a ledger. Someone sets up a database with spaces allotted to different people. This is then used to keep a record of who has tokens. These tokens have no physical form, but are written into existence. They are 'data objects', and they are 'moved around' by editing the record.

The keeper of the ledger thus maintains an account of what money is attributable to you, 'keeping score' of it for you. In this system, 'getting rich' means accumulating a high score on your account.

'Making a payment' involves identifying yourself to the keeper of the ledger via a communications system, and requesting that they edit your account, and the account of whoever you are paying.
Does this sounds familiar? It is your bank account.

Old banks used actual books to maintain these account ledgers, but modern banks use digital databases housed in huge datacentres. You then interact with them via your internet banking portal, your phone app, or by going into a branch. This is not a minor part of the monetary system. Over 90 per cent of the UK's money supply exists nowhere but on bank databases.

It is upon this underlying infrastructure that payment card companies like Visa build their operations. They deal with situations in which someone with one bank account finds themselves in a shop owned by someone else with another bank account. Rather than the pub landlord giving me his bank details for a manual transfer, my card sends messages through Visa's network to automatically arrange the editing of our respective accounts.

Many fintech – financial technology – startups specialise in finding ways to augment, gamify or streamline elements of this underlying infrastructure. Thus, I might use a mobile phone fingerprint reader to authorise changes to the bank databases. Much fintech 'disruption' merely involves putting slicker clothes on the same old emperor.

The use of high-speed communications systems to rearrange binary code information about who has what money might be new, but ledger money is as old as any bearer form.

The Rai stones of the island of Yap were huge and largely unmovable stones that, while seeming like physical tokens, were a form of ledger money. Rather than being physically moved – like cash would – a record of who owned the stones was kept in people's heads, stored in their communal memory.

If the owners wished to 'transfer' a stone to another, they 'edited the ledger' of who possessed the tokens by merely informing the community. Why physically roll the stone if you can just get everyone to remember that it has 'moved' to somebody else? The main reason that we struggle to recognise this as a form of cashlessness is that the ledger is invisible and informal.

Cashless society, though, is presented as futuristic progress rather than past history, a fashionable motif of futurists, entrepreneurs and innovation gurus. Nevertheless, while there are real trends in behaviour and tastes to be spotted in society, there are also trends in behaviour and taste among trend-spotters.

They are paid to fixate upon change and so have an incentive to hype minor shifts into 'end of history' deaths, births and revolutions.

Innovation communities are always at risk of losing touch within an echo chamber of buzzwords, amplifying one another's speculations into concrete future certainties. These prediction factories always produce the same two unprovable sentences: "In the future we will… " and "In the future we will no longer… ". Thus, in the future we will all use digital payments. In the future we will no longer use cash.

This is the utopia presented by the growing digital payments industry, which wishes to turn the perpetual mirage of cashless society into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Indeed, a key trick to promoting your interests is to speak of them as obvious inevitabilities that are already under way. It makes others feel silly for not recognising the apparently obvious change.

To create a trend you should also present it as something that other people demand. A sentence like "All over the world, people are switching to digital payments" is not there to describe what other people want. It's there to tell you what you should want by making you feel out of sync with them. Here's fintech investor Rich Ricci invoking the spectre of millennials, with their strange moral power to define the future. They are repulsed by the revolting physicality of cash, and feel all warm towards fintech gadgets.

But these are not, on the whole, real people. They are a weapon in the arsenal of marketing departments used to make older people feel prehistoric. We're not pushing this. We're just responding to what the new generation demands.

And so we get Visa's Cashfree and Proud campaign. If people really were ashamed of cash, they wouldn't need ads to tell them. Visa must engineer that shame to teach you that what you want is the same as what they want. And if you don't want it, just remember that cashless society is inevitable. Don't get left behind.

But this system will leave many behind. It is hardwired to include only those with access to a bank account; and bank accounts are hosted by profit-seeking corporations that operate at scale. They have no time for your individual idiosyncrasies. They cannot make profit off anyone who cannot easily be categorized and modeled on a spreadsheet.

So, good luck to you if you find yourself with only sporadic appearances in the official books of state, if you are a rural migrant without a recorded birthdate, identifiable parents, or an ID number. Sorry if you lack markers of stability, if you are a rogue traveller without permanent address, phone number or email.

Apologies if you have no symbols of status, if you're an informal economy hustler with no assets and low, inconsistent income. Condolences if you have no official stamps of approval from gatekeeper bodies, like university certificates or records of employment at a formal company. Goodbye if you have a poor record of engagements with recognised institutions, like a criminal record or a record of missed payments.

This is no small problem. The World Bank estimates that there are two billion adults without bank accounts, and even those who do have them still often rely upon the informal flexibility of cash for everyday transactions. These are people bearing indelible markers of being incompatible with formal institutional space. They are often too unprofitable for banks to justify the expense of setting them up with accounts. This is the shadow economy, invisible to our systems.

The shadow economy is not just 'poor' people. It’s potentially anybody who hasn't internalised the correct state-corporate narrative of normality, and anyone seeking a lifestyle outside of the mainstream.

The future presented by self-styled innovation gurus has no scope for flexible, unpredictable or invisible people. They represent analogue backwardness. The future is a world of endless consumer choice built upon an inescapable digital uniformity of automated rules, a matrix outside which you can neither exist nor think.

Back in Amsterdam I hang out with Ancilla van de Leest of the Netherlands Pirate Party. She only visits establishments that accept cash, true to her political belief in individual privacy from prying eyes.
It would be wrong to assume, however, that Ancilla's primary concern involves surveillance by a Big Brother-style bogeyman. It's true that your spending patterns reveal much about how you actually live, and the privacy implications of having these recorded in searchable database format are only starting to be uncovered.

We know that targeted individual surveillance of payments occurs by the likes of the FBI and NSA, but routinised mass surveillance could become a norm. Imagine automatic flagging systems triggered by anyone engaging in a combination of transactions deemed subversive. Tax authorities are bound to be building systems to flag discrepancies between your spending patterns and your declared profits.

It's also true that at London fintech gatherings the excited visions of cashless society now occasionally come with a disclaimer that we should think about the power granted to those who control the system.

Not only can payments intermediaries see every time you buy access to a porn site, but they have the ability to censor your transactions, like Visa, PayPal and MasterCard attempting to choke WikiLeaks by refusing to process people's donations.

We could imagine some harsh sci-fi scenario in which a theocratic regime issues decrees to payments processors to block anyone buying books deemed sexually deviant. Such decrees could be automatically enforced via code, with subroutines remotely triggering smart locks to place the offending miscreant under house arrest while automatically deducting a fine from their account.

Such automated dystopias should ideally be avoided, so a dose of paranoia about digital payments systems is a healthy impulse, even if it might be unwarranted.

But that isn't really the point. What's more important to Ancilla and me is the looming sense of an external watcher that 'assists', 'guides' or 'helps' you in your life, tracking and logging your moves in order to influence you.

The watcher is not a single entity. It's a collective array being incrementally built in stages by startups and companies around the world as we speak.

We feel it seeping deeper into our lives, a mesh of connected devices, cookies and sensors. Whether we visualise it as the benevolent eyes of a parent, or the menacing eyes of a tyrant doesn't matter. The point is that the eyes have the potential to monitor you, all the time.

The proclaimed Death of Cash is thus an episode in the broader drama that is the Death of Privacy, the death of breathing room, and the death of informal, non-measured, unaccounted-for behaviour. Every action you take must forever be attached to your digital persona, dragging with it a data trail extending back to the day you were born. We face creating an entire generation of people who do not know what it feels like to not be monitored.

For many economists, the War on Cash will be resolved by their favourite mystical demigod, the market. This guiding force prevails when utility-maximising producers and consumers go around making rational choices with perfect information about their options, and with total freedom to choose whether or not to exercise those options. If digital payment transaction costs are lower, then cash will rightly die.

The pristine realm of market theory is unfit to assess the dynamics of this situation. Our sense of what constitutes a legitimate choice does not form in a vacuum. We are born into social power structures that tell us what normality is, and that shame us for not choosing 'correctly'. You might be a rebel who challenges prevailing cultural norms, but those norms are conditioned by those with the greatest financial and media clout.

At this moment the blaring of propaganda extolling the short-term conveniences of digital payment is dulling our critical impulses to rearrange our cultural DNA. Who is thinking about the longer-term implications of building our lives around these systems, and thereby locking ourselves into dependence upon them?

Unlike a battle fought using violence, hegemony is the assertion of power by getting people to believe in it, to see it as inevitable, unassailable and normal. Visa's four-year plan is one such exercise, and once we've internalised it, we'll choose to build their power.

We'll feel strangely comforted by the MasterCard billboard endorsed by the Mayor of London. We'll find ourselves downloading ApplePay like a dazed child accepting a gift.

So, let's prepare for the War on Cash. Remember, this is not about romanticising the £10 notes with the Queen on them. This is about maintaining alternatives to the stifling hygiene of the digital panopticon being constructed to serve the needs of profit-maximising, cost-minimising, customer-monitoring, control-seeking, behaviour-predicting commercial bureaucrats.

And fear not, the Germans are onside, along with the criminals, the homeless, the street-side buskers and an army of people whose lives will never get a five-star rating on a mainstream reputation scoring system.

We will forge alliances with purveyors of non-bank alternative currency systems; and yes, we will maintain the option to use our payment cards. Because what we fight for is precisely that. The option.
.

EPA vs Pflueger and other violators

SOURCE:  Michael Guard Sheehan (mailto:hanaleirivermichael@gmail.com)
SUBHEAD: EPA closes Pflueger case on Kauai but ignores other owner's environmental violations.

By Dean Higuchi on 24 August 2016 for the EPA.gov -
(https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/epa-closes-pflueger-stormwater-case-after-successful-restoration-kauai-property)


Image above: This photo from 2004 was taken prior to environmental damage caused by this unauthorized grading and landscaping by retired car dealer James Pflueger on his Pila’a property. From (http://www.staradvertiser.com/breaking-news/pfluegers-environmental-repairs-on-kauai-shoreline-meets-epa-muster/).

Editorial comment  by Michael Guard Sheehan:
This case is a tragic case of selective enforcement against one man while surrounding him were numerous persons and politicians doing far worse to the Environment with their own illegal digging and construction in Habitats for Endangered Species. Instead of self-congratulatory news releases, your organization should be shamefully quiet and reflective.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the successful conclusion of its case against James Pflueger for construction activities that damaged his former property and the beach and coral reefs at Pila’a on Kauai. The consent decree settling the Clean Water Act violations was closed after Pflueger stabilized and restored the slopes and streams.

“Thanks to the work completed under this settlement, this once-degraded land has a healthy population of native trees and shrubs and restored stream channels,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “With continued care by the new owners, these restoration efforts can be sustained for the future.”

EPA initiated its case after Pflueger conducted extensive grading and construction at the 378-acre coastal site without obtaining necessary Clean Water Act permits. Those activities included excavating a hillside to expose a 40-foot vertical road cut, grading a coastal plateau, creating new access roads to the coast, and dumping dirt and rock into three perennial streams. As a result, massive discharges of sediment-laden stormwater flowed to the ocean at Pila’a Bay in November 2001.

The settlement required Pflueger to build a wall to stabilize the road cut adjacent to the shoreline, remove dam material in streams, install erosion controls on roadways and trails, terrace slopes to slow runoff, use native plants to control erosion, and control invasive plants and animals on the property. He was also required to reconstruct natural rock-lined stream beds and reestablish native plants along the banks.

The 2006 stormwater settlement was the largest for federal Clean Water Act violations at a single site, by a single landowner, in the United States. Pflueger paid $2 million in penalties to the State of Hawaii and the United States, and was expected to spend approximately $5.3 million to conduct the required restoration efforts.

The State of Hawaii was a co-plaintiff in EPA’s case against Pflueger, and the settlement was joined by the Limu Coalition and Kilauea neighborhood organizations, which had also filed a lawsuit against Pflueger.

EPA and local community organizations involved in the settlement conducted oversight inspections throughout a ten-year restoration effort that was slowed by funding obstacles and the necessity of adapting the restoration projects to changing field conditions.

.

US invades Syria & warns Russia

SUBHEAD: This could means that the U.S. not only is at war against Syria, but at war with Russia.

By Eric Zuesse on 23 August 2016 for Counter Current -
(http://www.countercurrents.org/2016/08/23/u-s-invades-syria-and-warns-russia/)


Image above: US troops leaving transoport plane. From (http://alfa-img.com/show/us-troops-deployed-to-syria.html).

On Monday, August 22nd, the United States government — which demands the overthrow of the internationally-recognized-as-legal government of Syria — officially announced that America’s military forces in Syria will continue to occupy Syrian land, no matter what the Syrian government says, and will shoot down any Syrian planes that fly over U.S. forces there and that attack them.
As reported on Monday by Al-Masdar News (https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/pentagon-us-ready-syrian-russian-jets/):
The Pentagon has announced that the USA is ready to down Syrian and Russian planes that they claim threaten American advisers who by international law are illegally operating in northern Syria.
On Friday, Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis claimed that US jets attempted to intercept Syrian planes to protect the American advisers operating illegally with Kurdish forces in Syria after Syrian government jets bombed areas of Hasakah when Kurdish police began an aggression against the National Defense Force.
On Monday, another Pentagon spokesman, Peter Cook, said, “We would continue to advise the Syrian regime to steer clear of those areas.”
“We are going to defend our people on the ground, and do what we need to defend them,” Cook told reporters.
This means that the U.S. government will not allow the Syrian government to expel or otherwise eliminate U.S. forces in Syria. The Syrian government never invited U.S. forces into Syria, but the U.S. now officially dares the Syrian government to assert its sovereignty over the areas where America’s troops are located.

Al-Masdar continued:
When pushed further about Russia, Cook made it clear that the US would make the same aggression against Russian jets who are operating legally with the Syrian government’s approval and coordination.
“If they threaten US forces, we always have the right to defend our forces,” Cook said.

This means that the U.S. not only is at war against the legitimate government of Syria, but that the U.S. government will also be at war against Russia if Russian forces (which the Syrian government did invite into Syria) defends Syrian forces from attacks in Syria by U.S. forces — forces that are illegally there.

These U.S. forces number only 300, of whom 250 were sent to Syria on April 24th to serve as advisors to other illegal military forces in Syria.

The vast majority of the illegal military forces in Syria are jihadists who had been hired by the Saudi government and the Qatari government, and supplied with U.S. weapons, to overthrow the Syrian government. Most of the other illegal forces in Syria are Kurdish forces, supported by the U.S. government to break Syria apart so as to create a separate Kurdish state in the majority-Kurdish far north-eastern tip of Syria.

The primary U.S. goal in Syria is to overthrow the Syrian government, which is led by the Baath Party, Syria’s secular Party. Many Arabs insist upon Sharia, or Islamic law, but Syria’s Arabs are an exception; the Baath Party is and has always been supported by the majority of the Syrian people, including by most of Syria’s Arabs. Most Syrians are strongly opposed to Sharia law. Syria is the most secular nation in the Middle East.

For example, when Western-sponsored polls were taken in Syria, after the start in 2011 of the importation of jihadists into Syria, those polls showed that 55% of Syrians want Bashar al-Assad (the current leader of the Baath Party) to remain as Syria’s President, and “82% agree ‘IS [Islamic State] is US and foreign made group’.” Furthermore, only “22% agree ‘IS is a positive influence’,” and that 22% was the lowest level of support shown by Syrians for any of the presented statements, except for, “21% agree ‘Prefer life now than under Assad’” — meaning that Syrians believe that things were better before the U.S.-sponsored jihadists entered Syria to overthrow Assad.

Clearly, when “82% agree ‘IS [Islamic State] is US and foreign made group’,” very few people in Syria support the 300 U.S. forces there. Not only is the U.S. an invader, but it (and especially the forces that the U.S. supports in Syria — most especially the jihadists, who are the vast majority of these forces) made life far worse (and far shorter) for virtually all Syrians.

Furthermore, that same poll found: “70% agree ‘Oppose division of country’.” Consequently, the Kurdish separatists are likewise opposed by the vast majority of Syrians.

The Syrian government, from now on, is in the uncomfortable position of having invaders on its territory, and of being warned that one of them — the U.S. — will be fully at war against Syria if Syria tries to expel them.

Russia too is now under warning from the United States, that, if Russia, an ally of Syria, takes any action to expel or kill any of the U.S. invaders in Syria, then the U.S. will also be at war against Russia.

The U.S. government is now also daring the Russian government. Perhaps the U.S. strategy here is to force Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, either to back down, and abandon its Syrian ally, or else to launch a nuclear strike against the United States.

If Putin backs down, that would greatly diminish his support from the Russian people, which is above 80% in all polls, including Western-sponsored ones. Perhaps this is the strategy of U.S. President Barack Obama, to drive Vladimir Putin out of office — something that might occur if the U.S. drives Bashar al-Assad out of office.

As Seymour Hersh reported, on 7 January 2016, “the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, then [in the summer of 2013] led by General Martin Dempsey, forecast that the fall of the Assad regime would lead to chaos and, potentially, to Syria’s takeover by jihadi extremists, much as was then happening in Libya,” and so Dempsey quit, and Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, director of the DIA between 2012 and 2014, was fired over the matter.

“The DIA’s reporting, he [Flynn] said, ‘got enormous pushback’ from the Obama administration. ‘I felt that they did not want to hear the truth.’”

Flynn is now a foreign-affairs advisor to the Republican Presidential candidate, Donald Trump, who is being criticized by the Democratic Presidential candidate, for being soft on Russia and insufficiently devoted to the U.S. goal of overthrowing Assad.

•  Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.


.



High radioactivity in Tokyo

SUBHEAD: Not only Fukushima is still contaminated with radioactive particles from the meltdowns.

By Admin on 22 August 2016 for ENE News -
(http://enenews.com/tv-astronomical-amounts-radiation-found-downtown-tokyo-horrific-readings-detected-children-playing-fukushima-extreme-contamination-found-food-grown-school-lunches-nuclear-expert-shocked-upsettin)


Image above: Arnie Gundersen, chief engineer of Fairwinds Associates,  on his knees in Tokyo collecting curbside dirt particles. Tests indicate sample measured 4,000 Bq/kg on a street outside METI, Japan nuclear regulator. From (https://nuclear-news.net/2016/05/11/arnie-gundersen-measured-4000-bqkg-on-a-tokyo-street/).

Margaret Harrington, host:
I know you mentioned Arnie Gundersen, the chief engineer at Fairewinds, and he said that he measured the radiation there, too. Could you talk about that a little bit?

Maggie Gundersen, Fairewinds Energy Education founder and CEO:
He’s working with some other scientists who are studying — both Japanese scientists, the samples that they took, and the US scientists who are evaluating the samples — and they’re finding astronomical amounts of radiation, even in downtown Tokyo outside of METI’s door. METI is the regulatory agency over nuclear power…

When he and others were downtown in Tokyo, they took samples right there in a garden right outside the door and on the front doormat, and these are really, really high samples. Frightening, because people walking in Tokyo will then be inhaling that dust. What was the film we saw from Japan that had the mothers who were in an area where kids play and run from middle school?

Caroline Phillips, Fairewinds Energy Education:
It’s a fantastic video… it’s a mothers organization, they live in the Fukushima Prefecture and they’re actually using Geiger counters that have been issued by the government. They’re walking along the river [in Fukushima City.]

Maggie Gundersen: What’s so tragic about it – kids are running along dirt paths doing gym class and track and things like that and the mothers are right down in areas that are not posted and the kids can go after school and play, and people do nature hikes and stuff. And the radiation readings are horrific.

Gendai Business Online (article in Japanese here), Jun 14, 2016:
Just before the 5th anniversary of the triple meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi, a group of young girls in the city of Minami-Soma rode their bikes to school past a shocked and saddened pedestrian. That upset observer was Arnie Gundersen, nuclear reactor expert…

“What surprised me at this visit to Japan… is that the decontaminated area is contaminated again,”

Mr. Gundersen said while explaining why it was such as sad shock to witness the girls on their bicycles. “This was not what I had expected. I had thought that we would not find such high doses of radiation in the decontaminated area. But, sadly, our results prove otherwise.”…

Gundersen collected samples of dust [though] the official data cannot be released before the publication of formal scientific papers, it is evident that high doses of radiation, usually found in nuclear waste, was detected from these samples.
“This means that highly radioactive dust is flying around the city. In other words, the decontaminated land is contaminated again. Little girls are affected by the radiation 20 times as much as adult men. The Japanese government’s standard of 20 mSv is based on exposure assessments for adult men. The girls on their bicycles are actually being affected by a radiation dose equivalent to as much as 400 mSv.”
Mr. Gundersen also pointed out that human lungs are heavily affected by internal exposures to radiation.
“At this visit, I wore a radiation proof mask that can filter out 99.98% of radiation for six hours. I sent my filter to the lab, and they found a high dose of Cesium. But, unfortunately, the Japanese government only cares about the number on a Geiger counter and does not consider the internal exposure. This has resulted in a hazardous downplay of this kind of data and human lungs are affected by the serious internal exposure.”…
The radiation from the mountains are coming back to the city by way of wind and rain. Mr. Gundersen noted the extreme radioactive contamination of the mountains… vegetables grown in that area exceed the government’s standard by 1500 Bq.

These vegetables were sold at the MichinoEki in Tochigi prefecture, and the bamboo shoot grown in this contaminated region was used for elementary school lunches in Utsunomiya.

These school lunches contained more than twice as much radiation as the government’s standard…

However, the government continues to push for the end of people’s relocation and force the return to recontaminated areas…

Mr. Gundersen also found that Tokyo remains contaminated. He measured dust… and found a high dose of radiation. That dust is in the air that will be inhaled by the visitors and athletes of the 2020 Olympic Games. Needless to say, the current residents are inhaling it every day…


Video above: Interview on  Vermont CCTV channel 17 with representative of Fairwinds Energy Education 6/20/16. From (https://youtu.be/s3ftKuV5Zis).

See also:
Ea O KA Aina: Nuclear Power and Climate Failure 8/24/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Nuclear Blinders 8/18/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima and Chernobyl 5/29/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima radiation damages Japan 4/14/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima's Nuclear Nightmare 3/13/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Fifth Fukushima Anniversary 3/11/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima impacts are ongoing 11/8/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Petroleum and Nuclear Coverups 10/21/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Radiation Contamination 10/13/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Radioactive floods damage Japan 9/22/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fir trees damaged by Fukushima 8/30/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Japan restarts a nuclear plant 8/11/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima disaster will continue 7/21/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Too many fish in the sea? 6/22/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima prefecture uninhabitable 6/6/15
Ea O Ka Aina: In case you've forgotten Fukushima 5/27/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Radiation damages top predator bird 4/24/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukshima die-offs occurring 4/17/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Impact Update 4/13/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima - the end of atomic power 3/13/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Where is the Fukushima Data? 2/21/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fuku-Undo 2/4/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima MOX fuel crossed Pacific 2/4/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima worst human disaster 1/26/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Japan to kill Pacific Ocean 1/23/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Japan's Environmental Catastrophe 8/25/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Earthday TPP Fukushima RIMPAC 4/22/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Daiichi hot particles 5/30/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Japanese radiation denial 5/12/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Entomb Fukushima Daiichi now 4/6/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Disaster 3 Years Old 4/3/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Tsunami, Fukushima and Kauai 3/9/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Japanese contamination 2/16/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Bill for Fukushima monitoring 2/9/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Tepco under reporting of radiation 2/9/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Fallout in Alaska 1/25/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima engineer against nukes 1/17/14
Ea O Ka Aina: California to monitor ocean radiation 1/14/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Demystifying Fukushima Reactor #3 1/1/14
Ea O Ka Aina: US & Japan know criticality brewing 12/29/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Forever 12/17/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Brief radiation spike on Kauai 12/27/13
Ea O Ka Aina: USS Ronald Reagan & Fukushima 12/15/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Pacific Impact 12/11/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Berkeley and Fukushima health risks 12/10/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Madness engulfs Japan 12/4/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Edo Japan and Fukushima Recovery 11/30/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Reaction to Fukushima is Fascism 11/30/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Radioisotopes in the Northern Pacific 11/22/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima - What me worry? 11/21/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima cleanup in critical phase 11/18/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima fuel removal to start 11/14/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Remove other Fukushina fuel 10/29/13
Ea O Ka Aina: End to Japanese Nuclear Power? 10/3/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima & Poisoned Fish 10/3/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fuel Danger at Fukushima 9/27/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Reactor #4 Spent Fuel Pool 9/16/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima is Not Going Away 9/9/13
Ea O Ka Aina: X-Men like Ice Wall for Fukushima 9/3/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima House of Horrors 8/21/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Apocalypse 8/21/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Radioactive Dust 8/20/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Cocooning Fukushima Daiichi 8/16/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima radiation coverup 8/12/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Leakage at Fukushima an emergency 8/5/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima burns on and on 7/26/13
Ea O Ka Aina: What the Fukashima? 7/24/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Spiking 7/15/13
Ea O Ka Aina: G20 Agenda Item #1 - Fix Fukushima 7/7/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima and hypothyroid in Hawaii 4/9/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Japan to release radioactive water 2/8/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima as Roshoman 1/14/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushia Radiation Report 10/24/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Fallout 9/14/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Unit 4 Danger 7/22/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima denial & extinction ethics 5/14/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima worse than Chernobyl 4/24/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima dangers continue 4/22/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima children condemned 3/8/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima fights chain reaction 2/7/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Tepco faking Fukushima fix 12/24/11
Ea O Ka Aina: The Non Battle for Fukushima 11/10/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Debris nears Midway 10/14/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Radiation Danger 7/10/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Abandoned 9/28/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Deadly Radiation at Fukushima 8/3/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima poisons Japanese food 7/25/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Black Rain in Japan 7/22/11
Ea O Ka Aina: UK PR downplays Fukushima 7/1/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Monju Madness 6/19/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima #2 & #3 meltdown 5/17/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima sustained chain reaction 5/3/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Ocean Radioactivity in Fukushima 4/16/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Japan raises nuclear disaster level 4/12/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima No Go Zone Expanding 4/11/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima to be Decommissioned 4/8/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Poisons Fish 4/6/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Learning from Fukushima 4/4/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Leak goes Unplugged 4/3/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Stick a fork in it - It's done! 4/2/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima reactors reach criticality 3/31/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Non-Containment 3/30/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Meltdown 3/29/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Water Blessing & Curse 3/28/11
.

Nuclear power and climate failure

SUBHEAD: Evidence suggests entrenched commitments to nuclear power may actually be counterproductive.

By Andrea Germanos on 22 August 2016 for Common Dreams -
(http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/08/22/new-study-shows-how-clinging-nuclear-power-means-climate-failure)


Image above: Calder Hall in Cumbria, England was the world’s first nuclear power station (and UK nuclear weapons development site). It is now decommissioned and is used  primarily for support decommissioning of other historic plants, and reprocessing fuel from UK and international nuclear reactors (and weapons). From (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/energy/nuclearpower/10392686/A-new-dawn-for-nuclear-power.html).

While it's been touted by some energy experts as a so-called "bridge" to help slash carbon emissions, a new study suggests that a commitment to nuclear power may in fact be a path towards climate failure.

For their study, researchers at the University of Sussex and the Vienna School of International Studies grouped European countries by levels of nuclear energy usage and plans, and compared their progress with part of the European Union's (EU) 2020 Strategy.

That 10-year strategy (pdf), proposed in 2010, calls for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by least 20 percent compared to 1990 levels and increasing the share of renewable energy in final energy consumption to 20 percent.

The researchers found that "progress in both carbon emissions reduction and in adoption of renewables appears to be inversely related to the strength of continuing nuclear commitments."

For the study, the authors looked at three groupings. First is those with no nuclear energy. Group 1 includes Denmark, Ireland, and Portugal.

Group 2, which counts Germany and Sweden among its members, includes those with some continuing nuclear commitments, but also with plans to decommission existing nuclear plants.

The third group, meanwhile, includes countries like Hungary and the UK which have plans to maintain current nuclear units or even expand nuclear capacity.

"With reference to reductions in carbon emissions and adoption of renewables, clear relationships emerge between patterns of achievement in these 2020 Strategy goals and the different groupings of nuclear use," they wrote.

For non-nuclear Group 1 countries, the average percentage of reduced emissions was six percent, and they had an average of a 26 percent increase in renewable energy consumption.

Group 2 had the highest average percentage of reduced emissions at 11 percent, and they also boosted renewable energy to 19 percent.

Pro-nuclear Group 3, meanwhile, had their emissions on average go up three percent, and they had the smallest increase in renewable shares—16 percent.

"Looked at on its own, nuclear power is sometimes noisily propounded as an attractive response to climate change," said Andy Stirling, professor of science and technology policy at the University of Sussex, in a media statement. "Yet if alternative options are rigorously compared, questions are raised about cost-effectiveness, timeliness, safety, and security."

"Looking in detail at historic trends and current patterns in Europe, this paper substantiates further doubts," he continued. "By suppressing better ways to meet climate goals, evidence suggests entrenched commitments to nuclear power may actually be counterproductive," he said.

The new study focused on Europe, and Benjamin Sovacool, professor of energy policy and director of the Sussex Energy Group at the University of Sussex, stated, "If nothing else, our paper casts doubt on the likelihood of a nuclear renaissance in the near-term, at least in Europe."

Yet advocates of clean energy over on the other side of the Atlantic said the recent plan to close the last remaining nuclear power plant in California and replace it with renewable energy marked the "end of an atomic era" and said it could serve as "a clear blueprint for fighting climate change."

NRDC president Rhea Suh wrote of the proposal:
"It proves we can cut our carbon footprint with energy efficiency and renewable power, even as our aging nuclear fleet nears retirement. And it strikes a blow against the central environmental challenge of our time, the climate change that threatens our very future."
The new study was published in the journal Climate Policy.
.

Of horseshoe crabs and empathy

SUBHEAD: We need to share our experiences of beauty, of sorrow, and of love for our land, so as to infect others with the same.

By Charles Einstein on 26 July 2016 for CharlesEinstein.net -
(http://charleseisenstein.net/of-horseshoe-crabs-and-empathy/)


Image above: Horseshoe crab walks on the sand near shorebreak. From (http://planetanimalzone.blogspot.com/2012/05/horseshoe-crab-limulus-polyphemus.html).

“That estuary used to be full of kelp and eels when we were kids,” said Stella. “It was full of all kinds of wildlife. Crabs, clams, horseshoe crabs – there was a mussel bed right over there – one time I was swimming in that pond and came face to face with an eel.”

Stella was talking about the spot where the Narrow River meets the Narraganset Bay in Rhode Island, one of her haunts when she was growing up. It’s a pretty spot, and I wouldn’t have known it was so depleted of life unless my wife had told me.

Neither of us knows the reason why the eels disappeared. We shared a moment of sadness, and then Stella recalled another memory that somehow seemed to explain it. She and her friend Beverly would sometimes visit that part of the beach in the morning on what they called “rescue missions.”

At night, someone would come and flip over all the horseshoe crabs that had crawled onto the sand, leaving them to die there helplessly. Stella and Beverly would flip them rightside-up again. “Whoever was doing it had no reason to whatsoever,” she said, “It was senseless killing.”

This is the kind of story that makes me feel like I’ve detoured onto the wrong planet.

We didn’t see any horseshoe crabs on this visit. They are a rare sight here now. I don’t know if that is because people killed too many of them, or because of the general deterioration of the ecosystem.

Or maybe it is because of pesticide run-off, agricultural runoff, land development, pharmaceutical residues, changing patterns of rainfall caused by development or climate change…

Maybe the horseshoe crabs are sensitive to one of these, or maybe the creatures they eat are, or it could be that the sensitive one is a microorganism that reproduces on a mollusk that lives on kelp serves some important role in the food chain that feeds the horseshoe crab.

I feel quite sure that whatever the scientific explanation for the die-off of the horseshoe crabs and eels, the real reason is the senseless killing Stella described. I mean not so much the killing part, but the senseless part – the paralysis of our sensing function and the atrophy of our empathy.

The Rush to a Cause
The crabs and kelp and eels are all gone. The mind searches for the cause – to understand, to blame, and then to fix – but in a complex non-linear system, it is often impossible to isolate causes.

This quality of complex systems collides with our culture’s general approach to problem-solving, which is first to identify the cause, the culprit, the germ, the pest, the badguy, the disease, the wrong idea, or the bad personal quality, and second to dominate, defeat, or destroy that culprit.
Problem: crime; Solution: lock up the criminals.
Problem: terrorist acts; Solution: kill the terrorists.
Problem: immigration; Solution: keep out the immigrants.
Problem: Lyme Disease; Solution: identify the pathogen and find a way to kill it.
Problem: racism; Solution: shame the racists and illegalize racist acts.
Problem: ignorance; Solution: education.
Problem: gun violence; Solution: control guns.
Problem: climate change; Solution: reduce carbon emissions.
Problem: obesity; Solution: reduce caloric intake.
You can see from the above examples how reductionistic thinking pervades the entire political spectrum, or certainly mainstream liberalism and conservatism. When no proximate cause is obvious, we tend to feel uncomfortable, often to the extent of finding some reasonable candidate for “the cause” and going to war against that.

The recent spate of mass shootings in America are a case in point. Liberals blame guns and advocate gun control; conservatives blame Islam, immigrants, or Black Lives Matter and advocate crackdowns on those. And of course, both sides especially like to blame each other.

Superficially it is obvious that you can’t have mass shootings without guns, but that assignment of cause bypasses more troubling questions that don’t admit easy solutions. Where does all that hatred and rage come from? What social conditions give rise to it? If those persist, then does taking away the guns really do much good?

Someone could use a bomb, a truck, poison… is the solution then a complete lockdown of society, a society of ubiquitous and ever-increasing surveillance, security, and control? That is the solution we’ve been pursuing my whole lifetime, but I haven’t noticed people feeling any safer.

Perhaps what we are facing in the multiple crises converging upon us is a breakdown in our basic problem-solving strategy, which itself rests on deeper narratives that I call the Story of Separation. One of its threads is the idea that nature is something outside ourselves that is amenable to our control; that indeed, human progress consists in the endless expansion of that control.

Learning of the die-off of the estuary, I myself felt the impulse to find the culprit, to find someone to hate and something to blame. I wish solving our problems were that easy! If we could identify one thing as THE cause, the solution would be so much more accessible. But what is comfortable is not always true.

What if the cause is a thousand interrelated things that implicate all of us and how we live? What if it is something so all-encompassing and so intertwined with life as we know it, that when we glimpse its enormity we know not what to do?

That moment of humble, powerless unknowing where the sadness of an ongoing loss washes through us and we cannot escape into facile solutioneering, is a powerful and necessary moment. It has the power to reach into us deeply enough to wipe away frozen ways of seeing and ingrained patterns of response. It gives us fresh eyes, and it loosens the tentacles of fear that hold us in normality.

The ready solution is like a narcotic, diverting attention from the pain without healing the wound. You may have noticed this narcotic effect, the quick escape into “let’s do something about it.”

Of course, in those instances where cause and effect is simple and we know exactly what to do, then the quick escape is the right one. If you have a splinter in your foot, remove the splinter.

But most situations are more complicated than that, including the ecological crisis on this planet. In those cases, the habit of rushing to the most convenient, superficially obvious causal agent distracts us from a more meaningful response. It prevents us from looking underneath, and underneath, and underneath.

What is underneath the callous cruelty of those horseshoe crab flippers? What is underneath the massive use of lawn chemicals? What is underneath the huge suburban McMansions? The system of chemical agriculture? The overfishing of the coastal waters? We get to the foundational systems, stories, and psychologies of our civilization.

Am I saying never to take direct action because after all, the systemic roots are unfathomably deep? No. Where the unknowing, perplexity, and grief takes us is to a place where we can act on multiple levels simultaneously, because we see each dimension of cause within a bigger picture and we don’t jump to easy, false solutions.

The Mother of all Causes
When I wondered about the cause of the estuary die-off, an hypothesis may have jumped into your mind – climate change, the culprit du jour for nearly every environmental problem. If we could identify one thing as THE cause, the solution would be so much more accessible.

As I was doing research for my book, I googled “effect of soil erosion on climate change,” and the first two pages of results showed the converse of my search – the effect of climate change on soil erosion.

The same for biodiversity. No doubt it is true that climate change exacerbates all kinds of environmental problems, but the rush to name a unitary cause to a complex problem should give us pause. The pattern is familiar.

Do you think the “fight against climate change,” which starts by identifying an enemy, CO2, will bring better results than the War on Terror, the War on Drugs, or the War on Poverty?

Now I am certainly not saying that eliminating fossil fuels is an “easy, false solution.” It does not represent as thorough a change, however, as the change required to halt ecocide here, there, and everywhere.

Conceivably, we could eliminate carbon emissions by finding alternative fuel sources to power industrial civilization. It may be unrealistic upon deeper investigation, but it is at least conceivable that our basic way of life could continue more or less unchanged.

Not so for ecosystem destruction generally, which implicates every aspect of the modern way of life: mines, quarries, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, military technology, global transport, housing…

By the same token, the phenomenon of climate skepticism attests to the possibility of disbelieving in anthropogenic global warming entirely, since it requires that we unify multiple phenomena into a single theory that depends on the authority of scientists.

No such faith is required to believe something has happened to the Narrow River estuary, or one of the destroyed places from your own childhood. It is undeniable and has the power to penetrate us deeply whether we “believe in” something or not.

It may sound like I am advocating refocusing on local environmental issues at the expense of climate change, but this is a false and dangerous distinction.

As I have researched climate change, it has become increasingly apparent that the contribution of deforestation, industrial agriculture, wetlands destruction, biodiversity loss, overfishing, and other maltreatment of land and sea toward climate change is far greater than most scientists had believed; by the same token, the capacity of intact ecosystems to modulate climate and absorb carbon is much greater than had been appreciated.

This means that even if we cut carbon emissions to zero, if we don’t also reverse ongoing ecocide on the local level everywhere, the climate will still die a death of a million cuts.

Contrary to the presupposition implied in my aforementioned google search results, the global depends on the health of the local. There may not be any global solution to the climate crisis, except to say that we need, globally, to restore and protect millions of local ecosystems.

To focus on globally applicable solutions tends to diminish the importance of local environmental issues. We see that already with the growing identification of “green” with “low carbon.”

We might, therefore, be wary of hurrying to implement globalized solutions that entail giving even more power to global institutions. Indeed, global carbon policies have already generated much ecological damage from hydroelectric and biofuels projects.

Again, am I advocating that we stop seeking to cut carbon emissions? No. But when we overemphasize that global factor, which fits so easily into our customary find-an-enemy approach to problem-solving, we risk overlooking the deeper matrix of causes and worsening the problem, just as our other “Wars on (fill in the blank)” have done.

If everyone focused their love, care, and commitment on protecting and regenerating their local places, while respecting the local places of others, then a side effect would be the resolution of the climate crisis.

If we strove to restore every estuary, every forest, every wetlands, every piece of damaged and desertified land, every coral reef, every lake, and every mountain, not only would most drilling, fracking, and pipelining have to stop, but the biosphere would become far more resilient too.

But where does such love, care, courage, and commitment come from? It can only come from personal relationship to the damage being suffered. That’s why we need to tell stories like Stella’s.

We need to share our experiences of beauty, of sorrow, and of love for our land, so as to infect others with the same. I am sure something stirred in you at Stella’s words, even if your own childhood was in the mountains not the ocean.

When we transmit to each other our love of earth, mountain, water, and sea to others, and stir the grief over what has been lost; when we hold ourselves and others in the rawness of it without jumping right away to reflexive postures of solution and blame, we are penetrated deep to the place where commitment lives.

We grow in our empathy. We come back to our senses.

Is this “the solution” to climate change? I am not offering it as a solution. Without it, though, no solution, no matter cleverly designed a policy it may be, is going to work.



Horseshoe crabs and intolerance

SUBHEAD: my killing spree with the horseshoe crabs on Fire Island is not the only terrible thing, but one of the most regretted things I have ever done.

By Juan Wilson on 24 August 2016 for Island Breath -
(http://charleseisenstein.net/of-horseshoe-crabs-and-empathy/
This article resonated with me as soon as I read the title. When I was fifteen my family rented an old house in the town of Saltair on the bay side of Fire Island (a long narrow barrier island) across the Great South Bay from Long Island.

From the wooden walkway in front of the house to the "past its prime' bulkhead holding back the Great South Bay was about twenty feed of sand. Some of that sand, where the bulkhead had lost a few boards run out into the bay and allowed tidal water in behind the bulkhead line. that's where I first noticed a few horseshoe crabs. This was in early June.

 As a week wore on I found myself fascinated by their increase in numbers. It appeared to be a time of mating. The smaller male crabs would be joined in copulation with the larger females. What ever ideas I had of swimming or playing in these shallow pools behind the bulkhead faded away as the number of mating horseshoe crabs increased.

I should mention, if you are not familiar with these creatures, horseshoe crabs are primeval in appearance. Something a brontosaurus might have stepped on. The crabs had a turret like shell over their whole body that covered their legs. There were two bumps on the sides of the shell that looked like eyes, and were in fact light sensitive. tailing the body of the carb  was a long, pointed, sharp tail that looks like a menacing dagger. It would be raised like a weapon when the crab was excited or threatened.

When I examined the bay side of the bulkhead I found that the crabs were in what only be called an infestation. Only a few years earlier our neighborhood in Levittown, Long Island had had an infestation of Japanese beetles. Every flower in our yard had a half a dozen beetles devouring its petals. Before they brought in the DDT trucks ten year old kids like me were paid to kill Japanese beetles for 20¢ a jelly jar full.

To me the crabs were a bigger more horrible infestation. And so I began killing them in the salt water pools behind the bulkhead in front of our house facing the Great South Bay. It was an endless task.
I would crush in their "foreheads" with a rock or any other devise that would break their shell. The females broken shells would leak a viscous fluid with turquoise eggs the size of mustard seeds.

As I worked I noticed another fellow teen who lived a couple of houses east of mine. He watched me for a while and then joined in the carnage. We worked as if we were being paid for it. Coincidentally, he was born on the same day I was (5/28/1945). He was the only person I knew who was exactly my age.

At some point I found a 2x4 that was about six feet long with a heavy nail toe-nailed into one end, such that the sharp point of the nail protruded from the end by a few inches. With a little effort I was able to straight the nail so it straight out of the end of the 2x4.

With this new device I mounted the narrow bulkhead wall. The water on the bay side was two to three feet deep. The 2x4 helped me balance on the wall where there wasn't sand behind it. As I prowled the wall I was not surprising to find the Bay side of the bulkhead still teaming with horseshoe crabs.

Killing them all was going to be impossible. All I though I could do was clear the area in front of my house. After working for a few days I realized even that was going to be impossible. The result of my horrific fixation was a lot of dead, stinking horseshoe crabs... a sense of self loathing.
I spent many more summers sailing to various parts of the Great South Bay but never saw another "infestation" of the crabs -  this may be because they require eleven years to mature. 
Horseshoe crabs have roamed the muddy bottoms of salt water harbors and bays for over 300 million years, a time in which the giant prehistoric reptiles and mammals have come and gone. But unlike the dinosaur and mammoth, the horseshoe crab survives today, a living fossil, which fascinates children at the seashore.
But today his long life is being threatened as he is destroyed wholesale by people who do not understand his value in the ecology of the marine life of the shallows.
In story form, The Crab from Yesterday details the history and life cycle of a horseshoe crab from its beginning when eggs are deposited on sandy beaches to the reaching of full maturity in the coastal shallows.
Young readers, like the boy in the story, will learn that even though some animals lack wagging tails, sticky tongues and happy faces, they can be interesting and appreciated too.
From "The Crab of Yesterday" by John F. Waters (http://www.paperbackswap.com/Crab-Yesterday-Life-John-F-Waters/book/0723260850/).
It never occurred to me that the horseshoe crabs had been coming to the Great South Bay since the glaciers retreated at the end of the Ice Age and created Long Island and its environs. Looking back, my killing spree of horseshoe crabs on Fire Island is not the only terrible thing, but one of the most regretted things I have ever done.
.

Slow river through the campaigns

SUBHEAD: The deletion of the Earth’s crisis from the hundreds of thousands of words that streamed from the conventions.

By Reverend Billy Talen on 22 August 2016 for Common Dreams -
(http://www.commondreams.org/views/2016/08/22/slow-river-flows-through-campaigns)


Image above: Among Democratic primary voters, 62% say they strongly back immediate action to combat climate change. From (http://www.wsj.com/articles/most-important-election-2016-feature-deep-and-growing-ideological-divide-1451318440).

The teleprompters seemed to be climate science deniers.  It was as if the political class at the microphones of Philadelphia and Cleveland suffered from a deep racial fear or even sexual fear – of the Earth.

Directly addressing the crisis of our lives was impossible.  For Earth activists the conventions were an unnatural but familiar disaster.  Hillary’s single sentence for the climate pushed it into the laundry list of progressive issues.  I was slowly slumping in paralysis like everyone else.

Then I remembered a piece by Czeslaw Milosz, the world poet. I dredged it out and re-read it. He instructs us to get through the succession of liars to a great moment of truth, which he describes as a spring day’s return by the Earth.  The name of the poem is “Slow River” and it ends with these words:
Three times will the liars have conquered
before the great truth appears alive
and in the splendor of one moment
stand spring and the sky, the seas, the lands.
Doesn’t this tell activists to stay in motion?  Isn’t this an invitation to look out across the future from the bright moments of Bernie and Black Lives and Occupy?

The deletion of the Earth’s crisis from the hundreds of thousands of words that streamed from the conventions—and the debates and the months on the stump—is hard to figure out.  There seems to be a morbid attraction to an ultimate kind of nervousness.  You might say that this silence betrays a love of the fear of death.  This late in the game, 2016, we fetishize our fear of death if we fail to speak up for life.

There is something at work here that is more basic than the usual explanation, which is that the Earth is not a vote-swaying topic.  The root cause of this censorship is exactly the same sort of fear that causes climate change, perma-war, and species extinction.

The separation from the Earth is hard-wired into each of us personally, and it manifests in our most public rituals.  We need to know more about this deadly phenomenon.

Anne and Paul Ehrlich, authors of The Population Bomb,  explored what it would take for us to save ourselves in this time of the Earth’s crisis. They wrote:
Scientific analysis points, curiously, toward the need for a quasi-religious transformation of contemporary cultures.
That’s pretty extreme for elite academics—to say that science is pointing us back toward religion.  The Ehrlichs believe that we are stuck in the essential inaction of right-thinking, spinning  speeches, wonkyness, clicktavism, lobbying and marketing, i. e. modern politics—as the Earth heats up.  In the Church of Stop Shopping we agree, we need to break out of these repetitions.  And cut out the patriarch and invite in the Earth.  Amen?

The Ehrlichs bold move reminds me of Dr. Cornel West’s stop-everything sermons at the last months’ Democrat platform hearings.  He froze the Clinton professionals with dread. Dr. West spoke openly of the soul, prophecy, the agony of Gaza, and what it means to hesitate with your morals, as if to warn the Clinton professionals that they would be depressed by their hack work.

The video footage of that panel is fascinating.  I felt like the Earth was to about crush the room in the triangle between the preacher and Deborah “water is sacred to my people” Parker and Bill “we need bicycles in the suburbs” McKibben.

Debbie Wasserman retired to a back room behind her staring eyes as Gaia’s wind and waves and wildfires seemed to sing to her from multiple faces.  And then she voted for fracking, Monsanto, and TPP.

The unknown is overtaking us now, like a new kind of climate that Accuweather doesn’t recognize.  Last month is always the hottest month.  The civil wars, sixty million refugees, predations by governments and corporations are accelerating. Where’s our quasi-religious transformation?  We must trespass everywhere and do what evolution teaches us: be unprecedented.

The trespassing into Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton’s speeches by Black Lives Matter is looking better and better.  That streak of hot pink up through bleachers of Republicans in Cleveland was Medea Benjamin.

We need the artistic revolts of Neil Young and Anohni and the Squamish singers at the kayaktivist rallies in Seattle.  A transformation of contemporary cultures starts with desperate and faithful citizens on the edges, ready to fly to the center.  Oh Nina Simone, don’t leave us now.

If we feel trapped by Trump and Clinton, imagine the faith of Czeslaw Milosz when he wrote “Slow River,” in the late thirties, in Wilno, Poland.  I believe his promise to us.  We will outlast the liars and the Earth will flood us, as radical as a spring day.
The great truth appears alive
and in the splendor of one moment
stand spring and the sky, the seas, the lands.
.

Officials cut water to Sioux

SUBHEAD: Officials pull water supply as Dakota Access Pipeline protesters swell in numbers and spirit.

By Lauren McCauley on 23 August 2016 for Common Dreams -
(http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/08/23/officials-pull-water-supply-dakota-access-protest-swells-number-and-spirit)


Image above: Standing Rock spokesman Steven Sitting Bear said he's received notifications from tribes all over the country that have caravans in route to this demonstration that recognizes that "Water is Life". Photo by 350.org. From original article.

Thousands join protest camp as supporters are holding a rally in Washington D.C. on Wednesday outside of Army Corps hearing.

Growing in number and spirit, the Standing Rock Sioux protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline is swiftly gaining strength ahead of a federal hearing on the controversial project. Support has spread across the country, and thousands have descended on the peaceful "prayer camps" in recent days, prompting state officials on Monday to remove the demonstrators' drinking water supply.

North Dakota homeland security director Greg Wilz ordered the removal of state-owned trailers and water tanks from the protest encampment, despite the sweltering heat, because of alleged disorderly conduct, according to the Bismarck Tribune, including reports of laser pointers aimed at surveillance aircraft.

"People are getting overheated now already," said Johnelle Leingang, the tribe's emergency response coordinator, as temperatures hovered around 90ยบ F on Monday. "It's very hurtful."

Tribal activists say the state's response, which includes surveillance, road blockades with military checkpoints, and a state of emergency declaration, has been overly aggressive and manipulative.

"It is deeply ironic that the Governor would release emergency funds under the guise of public health and safety, but then remove the infrastructure that helps ensure health and safety in the camp," said Tara Houska, national campaigns director for Honor the Earth.

The supplies were provided last week by the North Dakota Department of Health at the tribe's request to support the roughly 2,500 people now gathered along the Standing Rock reservation's border on the Cannonball River, near where the pipeline is slated to cross.

LaDonna Allard, director of one of the prayer camps, said, "The gathering here remains 100 percent peaceful and ceremonial, as it has from day one. We are standing together in prayer...Why is a gathering of Indians so inherently threatening and frightening to some people?"

"This is nothing but repression of our growing movement to protect our water and future generations," Houska added.

Standing Rock spokesman Steven Sitting Bear said he's received "notifications from tribes all over the country that have caravans in route, so it’s continuing to grow."

On Wednesday, high profile activists and supporters are rallying in Washington D.C. outside the U.S. District Court, where members of the Standing Rock Sioux will argue that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers granted Energy Transfer Corporation approval for the 1,172-mile pipeline without tribal consent.

The tribe says that the pipeline—which will carry up to 570,000 barrels of fracked Bakken oil daily across four states to a market hub in Illinois—puts the sacred waters of the Missouri River at great risk.

Climate campaigner and 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben penned an op-ed on Monday offering a vision of "what it might mean if the  if the Army Corps, or the Obama administration, simply said: 'You know what, you're right. We don’t need to build this pipeline.'"

"It would mean that after 525 years, someone had actually paid attention to the good sense that Native Americans have been offering almost from the start," he continues:
One has the ominous sense of grim history about to be reenacted at Standing Rock. North Dakota authorities—who are in essence a subsidiary of the fossil fuel industry—have insisted that the Sioux are violent, that they have "pipe bombs." There are rumors about calling in the National Guard. The possibility for renewed tragedy is very real.

But the possibility for a new outcome is there as well. The Army Corps of Engineers might back off. The president might decide, as he did with Keystone, that this pipeline would "exacerbate" climate change and hence should be reviewed more carefully. We might, after five centuries, actually listen to the only people who've ever successfully inhabited this continent for the long term.
Construction on the pipeline remains halted after developers paused the project last week in anticipation of the Wednesday hearing.

Meanwhile, a U.S. District Court hearing on whether a preliminary injunction should be issued against the protesters has been rescheduled from Thursday to Sept. 8, although a restraining order against the demonstrators has also been extended until then. Filing the order on Monday, U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland wrote that factions are '"strongly encouraged to meet and confer in good faith' to try and resolve the dispute out of court," the Tribune reported.

Updates are being shared on social media with the hashtags #NoDAPL and #RezpectOurWater.


.

Forest Farms

SUBHEAD: Along with providing food, farms can heal forests — or even make them.

By Staff on 16 August 2016 for Grist Magazine -
(http://grist.org/sponsored/how-farms-can-heal-a-forest-or-even-make-them/)


Image above: Ariel photo of food forest developed on property in Hawi, in north Kohala on the Big Island of Hawaii. From (http://www.hawaiilife.com/articles/2014/02/farm-properties-hawi-north-kohala/).

Let’s admit it, guys: Trees are pretty awesome. They’re nature’s air conditioners, they’re hella pretty to look at, and they’re really efficient carbon sinks.

And, it turns out, when they come together to form a forest, trees gain the superpower of living pretty much forever. (The Amazon forest — what’s left of it, that is — has been breathing for about 55 million years, and it’s not even the most ancient on the planet.) The forest ecosystem — bugs, soil, logs dead or alive, roots, shrubs, creepers, vines, trees, and all — is one hell of a long-term polyamorous relationship.

So here’s an idea: What if everything in that long-living ecosystem were edible? What if the entire forest were an agricultural system?


That’s a real thing, and it’s called forest farming, or agroforestry. The idea behind it is simple: Cultivating useful food or medicinal crops in forests while maintaining the trees’ health. Not to get all hipster-technical on you, but this is an example of “integrated permaculture,” wherein humans adapt farming practices to mimic or reside within a natural ecosystem. The goal is a productive, sustainable agricultural system that’s as diverse, resilient, and stable as our natural ones.

Happily, this idea has been around for millennia, in the form of Kerala’s home gardens, Mexico’s family orchards, and even ancient Mayan gardens. Forest farms are “probably the world’s oldest and most resilient agrosystem,” writes Douglas John McConnell, author of The Forest Farms of Kandy.

Less happily, agricultural industrialization in the 20th century introduced monocultures: Vast stretches of ruler-edged rows of wheat stalks, or corn, or tea shrubs — gobbling up tons of synthetic chemicals — became the status quo. Forests were space-intensive nuisances to be razed. The age-old belief that we’d benefit more from working with an ecosystem, rather than being masters of it, faded.

But forest farming is on the way back.

In the 1980s, farmer and naturalist Robert Hart, inspired by Keralan and Japanese garden systems, adapted the principles of tropical forest gardens and applied them to temperate climes. In his smallholding in Shropshire, England, the man nurtured a mind-boggling array of edibles: apple and pears, grapes and kiwi fruits, blackcurrants and gooseberries, and herbs and salad vegetables.

“Obviously, few of us are in a position to restore the forests,” he wrote. “But tens of millions of us have gardens, or access to open spaces such as industrial wastelands, where trees can be planted. And if full advantage can be taken of the potentialities that are available even in heavily built-up areas, new ‘city forests’ can arise.”

In general, the theory goes, a forest comprises seven integral layers, each of which can be used for crop production. If we pick the right elements for each layer, and let forests do what they’re best at (you know, living long and prospering), a food-filled Garden of Eden might be within grasp.

For example, the canopy — the forest’s top layer — could consist of fruit and nut trees. The “shrub layer” would include fruit bushes such as raspberries and blueberries. Perennial vegetables like kale belong to the “herbaceous layer” gang.

Edible roots and tubers like potatoes and yams form the magnificently named “rhizosphere,” or “underground layer.” Integrating animals into the system with rotational pasturing sequesters carbon in the soil, helping reverse climate change, as well as creating a more sustainable — and natural — forest ecosystem.

There are two general tenets of forest farming: cultivating a garden that mimics a forest, a la Hart’s smallholding and Seattle’s Beacon Hill Food Forest, or growing crops in a natural forest.

Wellspring Forest Farm is an example of the latter. In upstate New York’s forests, farmer and trained ecologist Steve Gabriel cultivates a selection of food crops that pretty much resemble a holiday dinner at Gran’s: shiitake, oyster, red wine cap and lion’s mane mushrooms; duck eggs and pastured lamb; maple and elderberry syrups.

The native trees earn their keep by attracting natural predators as pest control, providing shade for the dark-dwelling fungi, and feeding animals with a constant supply of bugs and grass cover.

In return, the crops compensate trees by building soil, preserving water quality and run-off, and adding biodiversity to the indigenous demographic. The farm restores and protects the forest ecosystem, and vice-versa. Talk about long-term #relationshipgoals.

Indeed, the best long-term relationships require lots of TLC, which is probably why not everyone has jumped onto the forest garden bandwagon just yet.

“The biggest challenge with forestry and making decisions is that a lot of those consequences of your actions, you’re not even going to see in your lifetime,” says Gabriel. “And it really humbles you really quickly. You’re making decisions for the next person down the line.”

All this talk about the future leads us to — ta-da! — climate change.

“Climate change has a much more detrimental impact on monoculture,” says Selena Ahmed, a sustainable food researcher who has spent six years studying sustainable tea plantations in China. She advocates for a “climate smart” agriculture system that can take the heat of a changing climate: droughts, floods, extreme heat or cold, increased forest fires.

According to Ahmed, such a system essentially combines elements like diversified cropping, chemical-free soil and pest management, and efficient use of water. Sounds a lot like the tenets of forest farming.

In a tea plantation in West Bengal, for example, two acres of virgin forest are retained for every acre of tea — ensuring a rich, stable environment for battered tea shrubs.

And the success of that plantation is kind of a green, polite “up yours” to monocultures everywhere. In a world where the weather’s turning increasingly wacky, having farms and forests that can take — and mitigate — the heat sounds like a bandwagon we can hop on.

If you are passionate about sustainability, and are looking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, apply now to spend a semester studying with ISDSI in Thailand.

Working directly with local communities, students work with small-scale organic farmers, backpack into remote tribal villages to learn about forest ecology, and sea kayak and skin dive the islands of Southern Thailand to study coral reefs and mangroves.


.