Diversity is our strength: Planting a mixture of crops can benefit the surrounding ecosystem

Insects are in trouble. That doesn’t make them special, or anything (they were always special to me), but they play a vast number of important roles in our various ecosystems, including the pollination of certain plants. Knowing the people who read this blog, I’m sure you find this information to be shocking and new, especially as I’ve never written about it before.

Jokes aside, though, this is an issue that has had a lot of people worried for a long time now. A lot of blame has been placed on the heavy use of pesticides required to keep our current monoculture farming regime from completely collapsing, plus those used in more residential and recreational settings. I think that’s certainly a reasonable thing to look at, but it’s also reasonable to look at habitat destruction, as well as the just-mentioned use of monoculture farming. Poison obviously affects one’s ability to live and thrive, but so to does having one’s ecosystem fall apart (something to which we should probably pay attention).

A German research team has now provided us with yet another reason to change how we do agriculture, because it turns out that the lack of diversity that characterizes modern food production is bad for bees and other insects.

There are often too few flowering plants in agricultural landscapes, which is one reason for the decline of pollinating insects. Researchers at the University of Göttingen have now investigated how a mixture of crops of faba beans (broad beans) and wheat affects the number of pollinating insects. They found that areas of mixed crops compared with areas of single crops are visited equally often by foraging bees. Their results were published in the journal Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment.

The researchers observed and counted foraging honeybees and wild bees in mixtures of wheat and faba bean and in pure cultures that only contained faba beans. “We had expected that the mixed crops with fewer flowers would be visited less frequently by bees for foraging than single crops,” says PhD student Felix Kirsch from the Functional Agrobiodiversity research group, University of Göttingen. “To our surprise, this was not the case.”

This could be due to several reasons. “Our mixed cultures were less dense than pure cultures, which possibly increased the visibility of the flowers. This might have attracted the similarly large number of bees to the mixed cultures,” suggests Dr Annika Haß, postdoctoral researcher in the Functional Agrobiodiversity research group. “In addition, reduced competition between the faba bean plants in mixed cultures could mean that they can invest more resources in the production of nectar and pollen to increase their attractiveness to bees,” adds Professor Wolfgang Link, head of the group for Breeding Research Faba Bean.

“Mixed cultivation of wheat and faba bean has also other advantages for crop production,” says Professor Catrin Westphal, Head of Functional Agrobiodiversity. For instance, yields per bean plant were higher in mixed crops than in pure cultures. “Cereal crops can be ecologically enhanced by adding legumes such as beans or lentils. This can make a valuable contribution to increasing the abundance of flowers on the arable land and thus counteracting pollinator decline,” concludes Haß.

Truly, it is one of the great burdens of our time that in order to save ourselves, we must make the world a better place to live in. We hear over and over again about the “Insect Apocalypse”, and now it turns out that part of changing course, means making the landscape more interesting? What’s next, cleaner air? No danger of being unhoused? It doesn’t bear thinking about.

I’m kinda worn out from working on a much less pleasant post, so I’ll just leave you with my regular reminder: Our problem is not a lack of solutions, it’s a political and economic hierarchy that actively hates the solutions that we do have. Obviously if you have the means to directly change or improve the landscape around you, then I heartily recommend doing so, but that will never be enough without real, dramatic political change.

Video: Let’s talk about Pink Floyd, rainbows, and social media…

Nothing too heavy today – I needed time for other pursuits. As some of you are no doubt aware, it was recently the 50th anniversary of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, and the fact that the album art has always had a rainbow in it has some “fans” upset. I suspect it’s the same fans who get upset periodically when they find out that Rage Against the Machine “gets political”, because they apparently never know the lyrics?

I honestly don’t get how some people go through life so utterly oblivious to so much of what’s happening around them, but I guess that’s the point of all the indoctrination, propaganda, and systems of control. As Beau says, when someone’s so afraid of what’s different that they can’t stand to see a rainbow, well…

All in all, they’re just

Solidarity with the Movement to Stop Cop City and Defend the Atlanta Forest

Defend The Atlanta Forest is circulating this statement of solidarity, and asking people to sign on. I’ve already done so, and I’d encourage you to read the statement, and do so yourself:

We call on all people of good conscience to stand in solidarity with the movement to stop Cop City and defend the Weelaunee Forest in Atlanta.

On January 18, in the course of their latest militarized raid on the forest, police in Atlanta shot and killed a person. This is only the most recent of a series of violent police retaliations against the movement. The official narrative is that Cop City is necessary to make Atlanta “safe,” but this brutal killing reveals what they mean when they use that word.

Forests are the lungs of planet Earth. The destruction of forests affects all of us. So do the gentrification and police violence that the bulldozing of Weelaunee Forest would facilitate. What is happening in Atlanta is not a local issue.

Politicians who support Cop City have attempted to discredit forest defenders as “outside agitators.” This smear has a disgraceful history in the South, where authorities have used it against abolitionists, labor organizers, and the Civil Rights Movement, among others. The goal of those who spread this narrative is to discourage solidarity and isolate communities from each other while offering a pretext to bring in state and federal forces, who are the actual “outside agitators.” The consequence of that strategy is on full display in the tragedy of January 18.

Replacing a forest with a police training center will only create a more violently policed society, in which taxpayer resources enrich police and weapons companies rather than addressing social needs. Mass incarceration and police militarization have failed to bring down crime or improve conditions for poor and working-class communities.

In Atlanta and across the US, investment in police budgets comes at the expense of access to food, education, childcare, and healthcare, of affordable and stable housing, of parks and public spaces, of transit and the free movement of people, of economic stability for the many. Concentrating resources in the hands of police serves to defend the extreme accumulation of wealth and power by corporations and the very rich.

What do cops do with their increased budgets and their carte blanche from politicians? They kill people, every single day. They incarcerate and traumatize schoolchildren, parents, loved ones who are simply struggling to survive. We must not settle for a society organized recklessly upon the values of violence, racism, greed, and careless indifference to life.

The struggle that is playing out in Atlanta is a contest for the future. As the catastrophic effects of climate change hammer our communities with hurricanes, heat waves, and forest fires, the stakes of this contest are clearer than ever. It will determine whether those who come after us inherit an inhabitable Earth or a police state nightmare. It is up to us to create a peaceful society that does not treat human life as expendable.

The forest defenders are trying to create a better world for all of us. We owe it to the people of Atlanta and to future generations everywhere to support them.

Here are some ways to support the defense of the forest in Atlanta:

  • Donate to the Atlanta Solidarity Fund to support legal costs for arrested protestors and ongoing legal action.
  • Call on investors in the project to divest from Cop City (list of APF investors). Call on builders of the project to drop their construction contracts.
  • Organize political solidarity bail funds, forest defense funds, and forest defense committees where you live.
  • Organize or participate in local solidarity actions.
  • Endorse and circulate this statement of solidarity.

Head over to their page to sign on, and to see the long list of people and organizations who have already done so. You can also find more information about what’s going on there, as well as by following It’s Going Down. I’ve also written one or three posts relating to the subject, if that interests you.

And if you have a platform, as stated above, consider circulating the statement of solidarity.

Daring to assert sovereignty: Zimbabwe bans all exports of raw lithium

As the colonial era “ended”, and the various colonies in Africa, the Americas, and Asia gained their independence, the various imperial powers of the world forced those colonies to take on the debts of their former conquerors. This, combined with a combination of financial control and brute military force, maintained the dynamic that had made the colonies so profitable for the U.S. and western Europe: the colonies were forced to produce one or two significant resources to the exclusion of all else, exporting raw ingredients, and depending on imports from their rulers to survive. Basically, any time one of these countries tries to attain some degree of self-sufficiency, or to assert their own economic plans that class with global capitalism, they mysteriously suffer from a coup, or assassinations, or death squads, or sanctions to punish them for stepping out of line. If you want a deeper dive into that subject, check out this video from Renegade Cut:

This is the setting in which Zimbabwe has banned all exports of raw lithium, in favor of making its own lithium-based products, and selling those, which is considerably more profitable.

Zimbabwe has banned all lithium exports after the government said it was losing 1.7 billion euros from exporting it as a raw mineral and not processing it into batteries in-country.

Lithium is so valuable as a component of electronic batteries – mostly for cars mobile phones and computers – that it’s known as “white gold.” The price has gone up by 1,100 percent in the past two years alone.

Zimbabwe has the largest amount of the mineral in Africa and has enough of it to supply a fifth of the world’s needs, the government says.

Whilst it’s on track to become one of the world’s largest lithium exporters, the government says it should start its own battery industry rather than allow foreign companies to dominate battery production.

If it succeeds it will mark a sea change for Zimbabwe’s economy.

Like many other mineral-rich African states, it has allowed its raw minerals to be extracted by multinationals for decades without developing local industries that could process them, and create many jobs.

The Zimbabwean Ministry of Mines and Mining Development said it would also clamp down on the artisanal miners digging up lithium and smuggling the mineral across borders.

Bolivia, to remind you, made a similar decision shortly before the failed 2019 coup in that country. With the MAS party back in charge, hopefully those plans will go ahead. Zimbabwe is an independent nation, with the right to govern itself, but history has shown that that “independence” only goes so far when it comes to decisions that might hurt the bottom line of the capitalist elite. I want to be clear – this is not a blanket defense of all the governments and politicians in these various countries. Dostoevsky said that power is only given to those who dare to lower themselves to pick it up. I think that’s often true of any hierarchical institution, and in general, where there is power, you will find those who seek to abuse it. I do not doubt that most poor countries have corruption, because that is the nature of power. That does not justify these crimes of empire. It does not justify constant interference with and imposition upon countries that are still trying to recover from centuries of horrific oppression. It’s unfortunate that this needs to be pointed out every time the subject comes up, but that’s the world we live in, and the reliable presence of shitty people in power has allowed the shitty people running places like the U.S. to justify their international abuses to their own subjects.

So, Zimbabwe, whatever its faults, has made the decision to use some its natural resources for the benefit of that nation, rather than the enrichment of foreign capitalists. I think it’s fair to assume that if they are able to pull this off, most of the proceeds will go to the upper class of that country, as is the current default all over the world. Some of it will also go to improving life for the average Zimbabwean, if only because they’ve been facing unrest over economic conditions for a while now, and improving people’s lives is a great way to deal with that. The current government was elected following the removal of Mugabe from power by the Zimbabwean military, and there have been accusations that the election was unfairly managed (Wikipedia). I don’t know enough to have any clear opinion of the country’s current leaders, but this particular policy decision makes a lot of sense to me, and it should be well within the rights of any nation.

Unfortunately, the rich (white) nations of the world have never acted as though Zimbabwe has any right to determine its own course whatsoever:

In a study titled; “Politics of sanctions: Impact of US and EU sanctions on the rights and well-being of Zimbabweans”, published in 2015, Chidiebere C. Ogbonna, an academic, researcher, writer and peace facilitator, observes that Zimbabwe has “been sanctioned in six sanction episodes: 1966, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2008 and 2009.”

The 1966 episode followed Ian Smith’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence on November 11, 1965, which led to the isolation of Rhodesia from the international community.

This makes the Southern African nation “one of the most sanctioned countries in the world,” hence, scuppering economic growth, and consequently, threatening the overall welfare of Zimbabweans, and impinging on their rights.

The Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001, amended in 2018, led to the imposition of economic sanctions on the seemingly small and insignificant Southern African country due to its stance on the land issue.

Highlighting that the Zimbabwean economic landscape is “tragic”, Ogbonna avers: “Consequently, the situation threatens human security and also denies Zimbabweans the capabilities to live in dignity as prescribed in the universal declaration of human rights.”

“I agree that they are instruments permitted by the UN Charter; however, the use of economic sanctions contradicts the UN declaration of human rights, which emphasises the “right to live in dignity.”

Scholars agree that economic sanctions, which the United Nations has referred to as a “tool for all seasons,” lead to terrible humanitarian concerns.

They argue that economic sanctions rob citizens of a target State the right to live in dignity.

Ogbonna maintains that, although there may be other issues on which economic decline could be blamed, sanctions contributed “immensely in setting the economic clock of Zimbabwe backwards.”

Worry-warts may go to town about “bad politics”, governance matters and corruption, which in all fairness cannot be ignored, but as the study observes, no nation state can go it alone.

“The world system is interrelated, and States are embedded in the system. Therefore, it is inappropriate to argue that sanctions have no effects on the economy of a sanctioned State,” Ogbonna points out.

Even at the communal level none is an island. Africans believe in communal ownership of amenities — they share — that is what makes them one.

They believe that no man is an island, therefore, they share salt, maize meal, wells, boreholes, grazing land, sorrows, joys and other such facilities that keep them going.

So, when they hear that one of their own has been targeted not to use such amenities key to his family’s well-being, it is not lost on them that his children suffer more.

Collective wisdom informs Africans that a villager’s children are theirs too.

As an African, Ogbonna is conscious of that shared wisdom. Hence, he explores the impacts of sanctions on Zimbabwe’s economy, and consequently, on the country’s ordinary citizens, especially “the most vulnerable, such as the sick, disabled, elderly and pregnant women.”

He examines the direct impact of sanctions on human rights and well-being of Zimbabweans, as well as their bearing on socio-economic progress.

Concerning human rights, he attests that sanctions impact on the rights to healthcare, education and quality standard of living, which, on the overall, affects social welfare.

Key economic factors like inflation, access to foreign currency and foreign direct investment (FDI), are impacted negatively by the illegal economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by Western countries, claiming them to be targeted.

The social impact of sanctions on ordinary citizens, whose only crime is being Zimbabwean — a sovereign people — cannot be overemphasised. Like everyone else, they are citizens of a country inhabited by fellow human beings with dreams and aspirations.

In many ways, I think that economic sanctions should be viewed as a version of strategic bombing, also known as “terror bombing” or “morale bombing”. The basic premise of this bombing “tactic” was that by making life intolerable for the people of the authoritarian government we’re attacking (because, of course, we wouldn’t be attacking them if they weren’t evil), we would cause them to replace their rulers with someone better. As far as I am aware, this has never worked. The same is true of sanctions, including the ones that have recently been placed on Afghanistan. In reality what they do is destroy lives. More than that, sanctions tend to do the most harm to those with the least power, without hurting the rulers at all.

I don’t think this history bodes well for Zimbabwe’s effort to improve its situation, but it’s worth noting that they are not alone in this. In addition to Bolivia, which I already mentioned, Mexico is also nationalizing its lithium industry for similar reasons, and I think that the more other countries do the same, the harder it will be to justify action against any one. I hope so, anyway. I’d like to have some good news that sticks around for a while, you know?

Hat tip to Ben Norton for making me aware of this story, and of the bit about Mexico, which I had missed at the time. I hope, as I always do with this sort of thing, that Zimbabwe is allowed to chart its own course. I hope that this policy is carried through, and that “Made in Zimbabwe” becomes a mark of a good, ethically produced battery. Even if the results aren’t all I hope for, it will be an improvement over the extortionate arrangement they’ve decided to abandon. Until this kind of national policy is allowed to play out without interference from imperial powers, we cannot say that the colonial era has truly ended.

Thank you for reading! If you found this post enjoyable or interesting, please share it around! Due to my immigration status, my writing is my only source of income right now, which is why I like to “pass around the hat” now and then for people’s spare change. Supporting me on Patreon can cost as little as three or four cents per day, and when enough people join in, even those $1/month pledges add up. There’s not currently much in the way of patron-only content, but my $5 patrons do have the option to name a character in the fantasy novel I’m currently working on, so if you like my fiction and want to immortalize yourself, or someone you know, then giving me money may just be your best option!

Global warming reached central Greenland (over a decade ago)

Even with all of our fancy technology, fieldwork in places like central Greenland remains difficult and dangerous. The conditions are unforgiving, and the ground is treacherous. That’s why, despite the global importance of studying the ice sheet, expeditions into the heart of that island aren’t particularly common. A recently published study shows the results of an effort to update our ice core data. Previous cores from the 1990s didn’t show clear evidence of warming, but the new data, extending to 2011, is very different:

“The time series we recovered from ice cores now continuously covers more than 1,000 years, from year 1000 to 2011. This data shows that the warming in 2001 to 2011 clearly differs from natural variations during the past 1,000 years. Although grimly expected in the light of global warming, we were surprised by how evident this difference really was,” says AWI glaciologist Dr Maria Hörhold, lead author of the study. Together with colleagues from AWI and the University of Copenhagen’s Niels Bohr Institute, she analysed the isotope composition in shallow ice cores gathered in central-north Greenland during dedicated AWI expeditions.


The AWI researchers have now extended the previous datasets up to winter 2011/2012 by a dedicated redrilling effort, recovering time series unprecedented length and quality. The temperatures were reconstructed by using consistently one single method for the entire record in the lab: measuring concentrations of stable oxygen isotopes within the ice, which vary with the temperatures prevailing at times of ice formation. Previous studies had to draw on a range of different climate archives and combine results to reconstruct temperature, introducing much larger uncertainties in the assessment of natural variability.

In addition to the temperature, the team reconstructed the melt production of the ice sheet. Melting has increased substantially in Greenland since the 2000s and now significantly contributes to global sea-level rise. “We were amazed to see how closely temperatures inland are connected to Greenland-wide meltwater drainage – which, after all, occurs in low-elevation areas along the rim of the ice sheet near the coast,” says Maria Hörhold.

As Dr. Hörhold stated, this result was, to some degree, expected. The planet has warmed so much, and has been reacting to that warming so much, that there was very little chance that it wouldn’t be detectable by 2011. It’s nice that scientific understanding of the climate is good enough that expectations more or less match reality, but obviously it’d be nice if things were moving a bit more slowly. These data don’t change what needs to be done, and they don’t really change the urgency. It’s certainly frightening to hear that one of the coldest places of the earth is warming so dramatically, but I think it’s good to remember that our need for swift action is not driven by models or ice cores, but by the effects that the tiny amount of warming we’ve seen so far is already having on humanity.

I recently had a bit of a discussion with a longtime reader about the eugenicist history of the environmental movement, and it’s a good reminder of the importance of centering humanity as a whole in how we respond to environmental crises and injustices. A lot of environmentalism over the last century has followed the notion that humanity is somehow separate from the rest of this planet’s biosphere, and that advances in technology are some level of “unnatural”. This has been used, at times, as a justification for the under-development of the so-called Global South. Efforts to stop deforestation, for example, put the focus on the people doing it, rather than the systemic factors that made put them in that position in the first place.

The first example of a better approach that I personally saw was at the Kakamega Rainforest in Kenya. During the Moi regime, someone lower down in the government came up with the idea of putting a tea plantation around the rainforest, and employing the locals to work there. The basic idea was to provide them with a means of survival other than hunting in the forest. I’m sure it’s far from a perfect solution, but it was the first time I’d seen an environmental project that focused on the factors that caused people to do “bad” things.

That arrangement, however, still relies on the notion that keeping people out of “nature” is the best way to safeguard that nature from “human nature” as defined by a colonialist, capitalist society. The modern movement for environmental justice is trying to be something different, centering humanity’s right to personal autonomy and self-governance as inseparable from the environmental issues facing us. It aims its ire not at the people who are actually doing the clear-cutting, but on the global capitalist system its endless drive for ever-increasing profit, humanity and nature be damned. We’re trying to build something new, informed by science like this Greenland study, as well as science surrounding humans and our history. That’s why it’s good to know about this research, even though I honestly think that it should not affect your day to day life much if at all. This stuff informs me, but it’s not what drives me, if that makes sense.

And on that note, this study gave us another interesting finding – it turns out Greenland sort of has its own microclimate, separate from the rest of the Arctic:

Another exciting finding from the study: the climate of the Greenland Ice Sheet is largely decoupled from the rest of the Arctic. This could be shown in comparison with the Arctic-wide temperature reconstruction ‘Arctic 2k’. Although ‘Arctic 2k’ is an accurate representation of the circumpolar region, it does not reflect the conditions in central Greenland. “Our reconstruction now offers a robust representation of temperature evolution in central Greenland, which has proven to have a dynamic of its own,” says Prof. Thomas Laepple, AWI climate researcher and co-author of the study. “Actually, we had expected the time series to strongly covary with the warming of the Arctic region,” Laepple reports. But the authors have an explanation for these differences: the ice sheet is several kilometres thick; because of its height, Greenland is more affected by atmospheric circulation patterns than other parts of the Arctic. Temperature time series on the Arctic with regional resolution are needed, says Laepple, in order to reliably describe climate change in the Arctic.

I periodically run into people on Twitter and such places who insist that the world is too complex for us to ever understand or influence, and I honestly find that to be a bit of a depressing outlook. The last person that told me that had also openly said that he doesn’t need to know what climate scientists have to say about all this. That seems like a very self-limiting approach to life. It’s like he’s in Plato’s cave, and someone went out, saw the rest of the world, came back and told him about it, and he just dismissed them without even turning his head.

The world is complex – wonderfully so. It sometimes feels as though most of our problems come from people who desperately want that to not be the case. Personally, I love finding out that the Greenland ice sheet is such a massive chunk of ice that it stands out from the rest of the Arctic, a place that’s rather well known for having a lot of ice. Maybe I’ve just achieved some level of enlightened detachment, but stories like this give me just a glimpse of what it might be like to watch this incredible, planet-spanning change take place from the point of view of a scientist who is somehow not emotionally invested in the outcome.

It’s just a glimpse, because I am emotionally invested, but it’s still there. Nothing like this has ever happened in human history, and it’s teaching us all sorts of things about how the many interlocking systems of this planet function. We’re seeing how it affects migratory species that don’t rely on weather for migration cues. We’re seeing how it affects animals’ body sizes, and plants’ toxicity. We’re seeing how changes in the Arctic affect life thousands of miles away. We’re seeing what happens when a species creates chemical compounds that never existed before, and spreads them across the planet.

It often sucks to be a part of it, but it is absolutely fascinating to watch. I think it helps that I feel like I’m more or less doing what I’m able to at this point in time. I’d like to do more, but I’ve come to accept that I have limits on what I’m can to do, and when can do it. All of that buys me enough space to be able to appreciate how cool it is that people were able to go drill a few holes in the ice in north-central Greenland, and get so much intelligible information about the world’s past and present from that. For all the man-made horrors beyond our comprehension, it’s still a strange and wonderful world.

Thank you for reading! If you found this post enjoyable or interesting, please share it around! Due to my immigration status, my writing is my only source of income right now, which is why I like to “pass around the hat” now and then for people’s spare change. Supporting me on Patreon can cost as little as three or four cents per day, and when enough people join in, even those $1/month pledges add up. There’s not currently much in the way of patron-only content, but my $5 patrons do have the option to name a character in the fantasy novel I’m currently working on, so if you like my fiction and want to immortalize yourself, or someone you know, then giving me money may just be your best option!

Greener environments can improve breast milk

Since this week seems to have developed a bit of an environmental justice theme, this story seemed appropriate. Oligosaccharides are complex sugars in breast milk that help the development of an infant’s immune system, and help protect from infections. Because they’re polymers, made up of monosaccharides, there are plenty of ways they can be put together, meaning that as a group, oligosaccharides are pretty diverse, with over 200 having been identified by scientists so far. Apparently, the more oligosaccharide diversity the breast milk has, the better for the baby, and new research has shown that living around greenery increases that diversity:

The oligosaccharides in breastmilk can protect the infant from harmful microbes and reduce the risk of developing allergies and diseases. The oligosaccharides are also closely connected to the immune system and gut microbiota which also have an impact the infant’s health.

“Earlier studies have shown that genetic and biological factors, such as mother’s obesity, can change the oligosaccharide composition in breastmilk. Our aim was to study how green living environments affect the composition of oligosaccharides in breastmilk, as greener environments have been found to have a beneficial impact on immunity and reduce the risk of disease in children,” says Adjunct Professor Mirkka Lahdenperä from the Department of Biology at the University of Turku.

Closer connection to nature may affect child’s health via breastmilk

Approximately 800 mothers participated in the longitudinal follow-up study, the STEPS Study, that started at the University of Turku in 2007. The breastmilk samples were collected when the infants were three months old, after which the oligosaccharide composition was analysed at the Bode Lab at the University of California San Diego.

The residential green environments were measured at the time the child was born around the homes of the families with measures of greenness, diversity of vegetation, and naturalness index, i.e. how much human impact and intervention there has been in the residential area. The results were independent of the education level, occupation, marital status and health of the children’s parents as well as the socio-economic disadvantage in the residential area.

The study showed that the diversity of oligosaccharides increases and the composition of several individual oligosaccharides changes when the mother’s residential area includes more green environments.

“This could indicate that increased everyday contacts with nature could be beneficial for breastfeeding mothers and their children as the oligosaccharide composition of breastmilk would become more diverse. The results imply that breastfeeding could have a mediating role between residential green environments and health in infancy,” says Lahdenperä and continues:

“The results highlight the importance of understanding the biological pathways that can impact health and lead to the development of different diseases starting from infancy.”

I think a lot of the time, when I talk about environmental injustice and environmental racism, I’m focused on pollution sources like traffic, factories, and waste disposal. Another facet to that issue is the racial disparity in access to nature. The reality is that in the U.S. and other wealthy nations, the history of white supremacy has forced non-white people into neighborhoods that are worse not because of the people there (as some like to claim), but because they’re poorer, more crowded, have worse services, and have less in the way of access to “green spaces”.

Racial differences in urban greenspace availability and access are evidence-backed and analyzed in a number of studies and policy reports. A study on factors affecting access to green space conducted by Nesbitt et. al. (2019) provides some relevant findings. Areas with higher Latinx and African-American populations are less likely to have access to green space. Meanwhile, the share of white residents is positively associated with access to green space. Dai (2011) has similar results. In New York City, the average park size is 7.9 acres in predominantly Black neighborhoods compared to 29.8 acres in predominantly white neighborhoods, and the former are five times more crowded than the latter.

There is substantial evidence that suggests the disparity in outdoor space stems from systemic racism. For instance, by studying cities with a history of majority Black populations, it was found that in Memphis, Tennessee, just five percent of land area consists of parks, while in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, only three percent of the city is dedicated to parkland, as compared to the national median of 15 percent (Trust for Public Lands, 2019). Currently, due to the inequitable nature of park availability, there is an observance of disproportionate heat exposure as well. Hoffman, Shandas & Pendleton (2020) found that red-lined communities were the hottest neighborhoods in 94 percent of cities, indicating a trickle-down effect of historically racist urban planning policies. Also, analysis by Jesdale et.al. (2013) showed that Black individuals were 52% more likely to live in areas with higher heat risk and the risk increased with increasing degrees of segregation.

There are also racial disparities in the way Black people access the outdoors, best illustrated by the incident when a white woman called the police on Christian Cooper, a Black birdwatcher, when he simply asked her to leash her dog. This incident is singular neither in context nor in outrage. In a survey of racial minorities using a city park, Black, Latinx, and Asian users reported feeling discriminated against by other users, police, and park staff at higher rates than white users (Gobster, 2002). According to Carolyn Finney, scholar-in-residence at Middlebury College, including non-white communities as stakeholders in the process of creating and programming parks can work towards addressing universally accessible park design.

Think of this as being similar to the way redlining – race-based residential districting that’s supposedly a thing of the past – can determine a child’s lead exposure, it also affects other aspects of life, including access to nature. I was fortunate, as a kid. When we lived in the Boston area, I still spent a lot of time in forests and wetlands because my dad was a botanist, and my school was near a section of conservation land. In New Hampshire, of course, I lived in the woods. When I was working as a ridgerunner in college, I ran into kids who were part of various summer programs, and for some it was pretty clear that they’d never been in a forest before. Later, living in the city as an adult without a car, I realized how hard it can be to actually get out into the country. It feels like something nobody should need to say, but access to nature shouldn’t be gate-kept; not by race, not by class – not at all.

This also, of course, fits very well with my position that our cities should be green. We should be growing plants wherever we can in cities, and designing new construction to be easier to grow plants on. Obviously the details are going to vary from place to place – the plants need to be able to survive without too much help, but I think it’s worth having an army of gardeners in every city, for the sake of making them healthier places to live.

This is also why efforts to defend urban green spaces are also important – it’s literally a matter of guarding the health of the people who live there. Destroying parks and cutting off access to forest is, as I’ve said, the opposite of what we should be doing. It’s the kind of thing that’s often treated (by the rich and powerful) as if it doesn’t relate to a population’s quality of life, but as we’ve seen, it can measurably affect people’s health during the time when we are the most vulnerable, and during which conditions can most affect our development in ways that might last for our entire lives. Aesthetics are important to us as humans, for all the denigration of art education seems to have been in vogue, in the United States, for my entire life. I would think it correct to fight for green spaces even if their only benefits were for our mental health (the notion that that’s separate from “health” is a rant for another day), but it has been shown over, and over, and over again that it goes far beyond that. As I keep saying, we are part of the ecosystems that surround us, and the sooner we start acting like it, the better off the whole world will be.

Thank you for reading! If you found this post enjoyable or interesting, please share it around! Due to my immigration status, my writing is my only source of income right now, which is why I like to “pass around the hat” now and then for people’s spare change. Supporting me on Patreon can cost as little as three or four cents per day, and when enough people join in, even those $1/month pledges add up. There’s not currently much in the way of patron-only content, but my $5 patrons do have the option to name a character in the fantasy novel I’m currently working on, so if you like my fiction and want to immortalize yourself, or someone you know, then giving me money may just be your best option!

Police kill Atlanta forest defender

I’ve been trying to follow events surrounding the effort to stop Cop City in Atlanta, GA. Today, police killed one forest defender during a raid:

Today the police shot and killed a protester in Weelaunee Forest.

Dozens of heavily armed DeKalb Police, Atlanta Police and Georgia State police shut down Weelaunee People’s Park and nearby streets before entering the tree line with guns drawn and heavy machinery poised to continue forest destruction.

Police have repeatedly raided this public park, flattened community gardens and art installations, attacked protestors with chemical weapons and rubber bullets, and threatened lethal force. During past raids, police have consistently escalated violent tactics on peaceful people who were sitting in trees or walking through the public park. Since June 6, 2022, activists and community members fighting to Defend the Atlanta Forest and Stop Cop City have been demanding that officers stop bringing weapons into the forest after APD pointed their weapons at peaceful protestors.

The police and local news are working together to control the flow of information, leaving us with vague news reports that suggest the officer fired at the civilian in self-defense. We know they will say and do anything to prevent an Atlanta officer from being viewed as another Derek Chauvin, including witholding, distorting, or deleting evidence. Supporters of the movement are calling on legal observers and journalists to document the violent police tactics being used against protestors.

Since the fatal shooting, this morning’s operation has continued with Brasfield and Gorrie’s heavy machinery entering the forest and cops shooting pepper balls at people who remain in the park–as if nothing has happened. The loss of our lives remains meaningless to the police. Police killed a forest defender for loving this earth, for taking a stand against the ongoing destruction of the planet and its people. Indiscriminate police murder, unfettered police violence is exactly why people have, for two years, called for the Cop City project to be cancelled immediately. As politicians invest in cops, militarization and police budgets are only increasing. Meanwhile, police murders peaked in 2022: U.S. cops killed 100 people every month.

It is unclear what exactly happened, beyond the fact that the confrontation was started by police attacking the forest defenders. Police claim that a protester shot one of their officers, but I think it’s important to remember that cops lie about pretty much everything, especially when it comes to making themselves look good. It’s not clear to me at what point self defense is broadly considered justified against police, nor is it always easy to decide how far to go in opposing a destructive government action, in a society supposedly run along democratic principles. I think it’s pretty clear, however, that police do not have popular support or consent for their brutality, or for this particular project.

We should not be increasing police militarization. We should not be clearing forests in general, let alone in communities already suffering from environmental racism and other systemic injustice. This is another example of police actively perpetrating injustice – using violence against people who stand in their way, even knowing that they don’t have popular consent. Hell, they never even tried to get popular consent.

From what I can tell, the cops are committed to destroying this park, and other parts of the forest, and building their training facility, no matter what the people who live there think about it. I’ve heard it said that for black communities, cops are often more of an occupying force than a public service, and moments like this make that particularly apparent.

If you want resources on how to show solidarity or help out with this effort, I’ll refer you back to my most recent post on the topic. I’ll try to post an update on this topic soon.


Military indoctrination forced on U.S. children

I was in the early days of my second year of high school on 9/11. As I’ve mentioned before, I was pretty involved in political activism at the time, and the general feeling around me was that this event, with this administration, could only lead to war and authoritarianism. That means, of course that when the Universal Military Training and Service Act of 2001 was put forward in December of that year, it caught my attention. I had already gotten the standard counselling given to young Quaker men about how to establish a paper trail to prove a deep-seated opposition to war, in the event of a draft. If memory serves, I wrote “I am a conscientious objector” on my draft card as soon as I got it, and I knew plenty of people who had been of that age during the last draft for the invasion of Vietnam. If memory serves, the carveout for those religiously opposed to war was that we would be exempted from the arms and combat training, but still be required to go through other aspects of basic training, including courses in history, as told by the U.S. armed forces.

Similar laws were proposed and rejected in the coming years, but it was always there as a concern, as The War on Terror ground on. Over the years since, I’ve learned more about how the U.S. does its military propaganda, from Stargate being my favorite science fiction franchise for a long, long time, to hearing about things like Top Gun and military involvement in superhero movies. Despite all that the term “indoctrination” tends to retain more coercive vibes. It conjures images of re-education programs, or government mandated history lessons, like those in the law I mentioned earlier. Sure, there’s some propaganda through shows and movies, but it’s not like anyone is required to watch it, and we do have military programs for children, like JROTC, but those aren’t mandated either, right?


On her first day of high school, Andreya Thomas looked over her schedule and found that she was enrolled in a class with an unfamiliar name: JROTC.

She and other freshmen at Pershing High School in Detroit soon learned they had been placed into the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, a program funded by the U.S. military designed to teach leadership skills, discipline and civic values – and open students’ eyes to the idea of a military career. In the class, students had to wear military uniforms and obey orders from an instructor who was often yelling, Thomas said, but when several of them pleaded to be allowed to drop the class, school administrators refused.

“They told us it was mandatory,” Thomas said.

JROTC programs, taught by military veterans at some 3,500 high schools across the country, are supposed to be elective, and the Pentagon has said requiring students to take them goes against its guidelines. But the New York Times found thousands of public school students were being funneled into the classes without ever having chosen them, either as an explicit requirement or by being automatically enrolled.

A review of JROTC enrollment data collected from more than 200 public records requests showed dozens of schools have made the program mandatory or steered more than 75% of students in a single grade into the classes.

See, the reality is that the U.S. government makes liberal use of coercion within its borders, but it has developed a whole array of tactics to hide its hand. There are some who want more overt coercion, of course, but I think a big part of why so many people in the U.S. believe they live in the most free country in the world, is that the illusion of freedom is carefully maintained. We’re not free, but we’re taught to view the walls that enclose us as natural features of the landscape. We’re lab rats, not fully aware of the fact that the maze in which we find ourselves was made with intent.

The problem of people living without adequate shelter isn’t “just the way things are”, it’s a deliberate policy decision to keep people in line. When workers start getting too much power, the ruling class starts talking about inflation, allegedly caused by the peasantry having too much money, so they say we need to raise interest rates, and cut programs that help people (when they’re not using the debt to do that), and so artificial scarcity is maintained, and if you act out too much, well, nobody’s gonna hire you, so you could end up on the street, which for many is a fate worse than death. More than that, extreme poverty is increasingly being made illegal, so that we’re using the police – armed agents of the government – to attack, rob, and in some cases imprison people for the crime of being unable to afford to pay rent to a landlord. Remember also that New York City is planning to lock people in mental hospitals because cops decided they were mentally ill.

This is the setting in which the U.S. has an “all-volunteer” military, and in which the military is advertised -falsely- as a ticket out of poverty. Activists have pointed to this for a long time, but occasionally you’ll even get politicians admitting that they don’t want to get rid of student debt because it’ll hurt recruitment. With that being so open, I have to wonder about the motivation behind things like the decision to increase child poverty that I talked about earlier today. After all, if we’re relying on poverty to recruit young people, a reduction in child poverty could hurt recruitment just as much as a free college education.

This is where understanding the United States as an empire becomes crucial – throughout its history, the United States has pretty much always been waging war somewhere, and while U.S. soldiers aren’t particularly likely to die in combat (an early death later BECAUSE of combat and service is a different matter), it takes a lot of people to maintain constant warfare and hundreds of military bases all over the world. Add in the fact that the U.S. military tends to treat the people in its care like dirt, and you have to have something to drive recruitment.

And yet, it seems like it’s not enough, so someone somewhere decided to just start requiring children to participate in a military training and indoctrination program. I don’t know if money changed hands, or if it was just the pet project of a few fascist types in charge of schooling, but this seems to be a pretty widespread problem, scattered all around the country. There is, however, a bit of a pattern in the schools where this happened. Can you guess what it is?

A vast majority of the schools with those high enrollment numbers were attended by a large proportion of nonwhite students and those from low-income households, the Times found.


In analyzing data released by the Army, the Times found that among schools where at least three-quarters of freshmen were enrolled in JROTC, more than 80% of them had a student body composed primarily of Black or Hispanic students. That was a higher rate than other JROTC schools (more than 50%of them had such a makeup) and U.S. high schools without JROTC programs (about 30%).

In some districts examined by the Times, it was difficult to discern whether a school required JROTC or if some other reason had led a large percentage of its freshmen to enroll in the program.

In Detroit, the district said in a statement that administrators did not require students to take JROTC, although they “do encourage students in ninth grade to take the course to spark their interest.”

But two recent students at Pershing, in addition to Thomas, said in interviews that they had been required to take the class. District data showed 90% of freshmen were enrolled in JROTC during the 2021-22 school year.

Three other Detroit high schools also enrolled more than 75% of their freshmen in the class, according to district data.

Schools that have faced questions over mandatory or automatic enrollments have often responded by backing away from the requirements, as Chicago did last year.

In that case, which came to light after an article from the education news website Chalkbeat, an investigation by the school district’s inspector general found that nearly 100% of freshmen had been enrolled at four high schools that served primarily low-income students on the city’s South and West sides.

It was “a clear sign the program was not voluntary,” the report said.

The U.S. has long had a narrative that the only problem facing black people is their own “mysterious” lack of discipline, work ethic, responsibility, and so on. From what I can tell this narrative has existed virtually un-changed since the early justifications for race-based chattel slavery. It’s hard for me not to think of that when I see who was told that they’re required to go through this military program that’s supposed to teach “discipline” and “service”. It’s doubly infuriating when coupled with the federal government’s decision to increase child poverty. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we’re seeing this at the same time as a rise in fascism, and I think we should be on the lookout for more stuff like this to come.

Thank you for reading! If you found this post enjoyable or interesting, please share it around! Due to my immigration status, my writing is my only source of income right now, which is why I like to “pass around the hat” now and then for people’s spare change. Supporting me on Patreon can cost as little as three or four cents per day, and when enough people join in, even those $1/month pledges add up. There’s not currently much in the way of patron-only content, but my $5 patrons do have the option to name a character in the fantasy novel I’m currently working on, so if you like my fiction and want to immortalize yourself, or someone you know, then giving me money may just be your best option!

A video and some thoughts on school lunch and child poverty in the U.S.

Moving to another country can change how you see your homeland. One of the changes, for me, was the horrifying realization that I had under-estimated the degree to which everything in the United States is set up to funnel money to an ever shrinking number of aristocrats. I knew that that was the case, but I guess maybe I just hadn’t fully realized what that meant. Part of that change was just me learning more about politics, history, and how the world works, which wasn’t due to the move, but I hadn’t expected just how much the lack of worry over medical bills would change my life. It was your standard “weight lifted from my shoulders” situation, but I hadn’t even realized the weight was there. There have been a couple other moments like that, though not as life-changing as universal healthcare, and I also think the pandemic did a great job of forcing our rulers to show how little they valued our lives.

There were, however, some exceptions. Even as pundits and politicians ranted about how important it was for people to “get back to work”, a couple measures were passed that nearly cut U.S. child poverty in half. The bigger one of those was an expansion to the child tax credit, which gave parents monthly checks to help with the ever-rising cost of having children in the Land of the Free. The smaller one was an expansion to the free school lunch program that made it universal. Both of those are now expiring, and child poverty could be about to just about double as a result, back to where it was pre-pandemic. It’ll take some time to figure out exactly how much harm this will do, but we already know that the rough answer will be “a lot”.

For the first time in half a year, families on Friday are going without a monthly deposit from the child tax credit — a program that was intended to be part of President Joe Biden’s legacy but has emerged instead as a flash point over who is worthy of government support.

Retiree Andy Roberts, from St. Albans, West Virginia, relied on the checks to help raise his two young grandchildren, whom he and his wife adopted because the birth parents are recovering from drug addiction.

The Robertses are now out $550 a month. That money helped pay for Girl Scouts, ballet and acting lessons and kids’ shoes, which Roberts noted are more expensive than adult shoes. The tax credit, he said, was a “godsend.”

“It’ll make you tighten up your belt, if you’ve got anything to tighten,” Roberts said about losing the payments.

The monthly tax credits were part of Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package — and the president had proposed extending them for another full year as part of a separate measure focused on economic and social programs.

But Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, from Roberts’ home state of West Virginia, objected to extending the credit out of concern that the money would discourage people from working and that any additional federal spending would fuel inflation that has already climbed to a nearly 40-year high.

I think Manchin does own a lot of blame here, but it’s worth noting that Democratic leadership has proven wholly unwilling to play hardball with Manchin. They could fund pro-labor campaigning in West Virginia, which would undermine Manchin’s power, but they’re not pro-labor, so they won’t do that. They could run political ads about how Manchin’s daughter was personally involved in jacking up EpiPen prices, and how the whole family routinely hurts West Virginians for personal profit, but they don’t want to, for some reason. Whatever their reasons, they’re apparently more important than ending child poverty in “the richest nation in the world”. I’ll have another post up today that will look at one of the reasons why that might be, but regardless, the people governing our country, as a group, have chosen that more children need live in poverty and go hungry, and they have chosen to increase the uniquely USian problem of school lunch debt.

You know those snickers ads? Some person is out of place – Betty White on a construction site, or a bigfoot at a business meeting – and then they’re given a snickers, and they’re just a construction worker or office worker. The tagline is something like “you’re not you when you’re hungry”? It’s an acknowledgement of the well- known fact (as part of trying to get some of your money), that doing just about everything is harder – physically and emotionally – when you are hungry. That’s especially true for children, both because they are actively growing, and NEED those calories to literally build functional bodies, and because their perception of time is so different – an hour of a child’s life is a much, much larger proportion of their total experience than an hour of an adult’s life. Spending a whole school day hungry, and being required to focus, work, and behave, is damned close to torture in my opinion.

As usual, Beau of the Fifth Column has some good thoughts on the issue:

Let’s be clear – there is no choice here. Parents are required by law to have their kids in school, and they are required by our economic system to spend most of their waking hours working, usually for someone else’s profit, just to cover food, shelter, and other necessities. Why should they also be required to pay for food, especially at a public school? There is no good reason, but there are some bad ones. “Personal responsibility” is probably the most vapid, with some form of eugenics being the most sinister, but I think it’s more that school lunches are a way to funnel money from everyday folks to the eternally greedy upper class, and those at the top sincerely believe that they need to use poverty to motivate people to work.

I suppose that’s true, to an extent. You do need some form of coercion to get a person to spend most of their energy and waking hours working for the profit of someone else, be it the violent enclosure of the commons that created and enforced the modern default of selling labor to a rich person for survival, or the current threat of poverty or houselessness, and the lowered quality and duration of life that come with both.

I want to leave you on a rather grim note. You know how the U.S. is increasingly putting cops in schools? And how that is causing a lot of harm to kids in general, and disproportionally to black kids? Now add more hunger to that. I talked earlier about how hunger affects people, children included. Short tempers, physical discomfort, tiredness – it all comes from a lack of fuel. The body literally does not have the materials it needs for you to function well. And we are dramatically increasing the number of children who will be hungry, in schools that have been dramatically increasing their use of police to deal with the fact that children are children. It’s as if they are deliberately creating conditions that they know will lead poor, non-white, and disabled kids in particular to be criminalized for even minor “behavioral problems”.

Thank you for reading! If you found this post enjoyable or interesting, please share it around! Due to my immigration status, my writing is my only source of income right now, which is why I like to “pass around the hat” now and then for people’s spare change. Supporting me on Patreon can cost as little as three or four cents per day, and when enough people join in, even those $1/month pledges add up. There’s not currently much in the way of patron-only content, but my $5 patrons do have the option to name a character in the fantasy novel I’m currently working on, so if you like my fiction and want to immortalize yourself, or someone you know, then giving me money may just be your best option!

Mud Wizard Monday: Serving corporate interests leaves German police stuck in the muck

So you probably haven’t heard about this, but it turns out that the climate is warming because of human activity. There are a number of factors, but the biggest one is carbon dioxide emissions from burning coal, oil, and gas. Given that this temperature increase is already causing problems worldwide, and it’s expected to cause exponentially more problems as the warming continues, humanity needs to stop burning coal, oil, and gas, and use other sources of energy like solar, wind, nuclear, geothermal, and so on. I felt the need to spell that out, because judging by the behavior of most of the world’s governments, it’s not clear that the people in charge are aware.

The U.S. is where I tend to focus, of course, but China is increasing its use of coal, and Germany, despite committing to end coal use within the next eight years, is now fighting to demolish a village to expand a coal mine:

Activists have for the past two years attempted to protect the village from being bulldozed to make way for the opencast lignite mine, in a standoff that highlights the tensions around Germany’s climate policy.

Environmentalists say bulldozing Luetzerath would result in huge amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, but the government and RWE say coal is needed to ensure Germany’s energy security.

It always comes down to some form of “security”, doesn’t it? I understand the concerns folks in Europe have about nuclear power, especially if we’re focused on older reactor models, but I don’t know that coal is any better. Certainly, the potential risks from disaster and war are less, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good option, especially given that fully “exploiting” the expansion would take until 2045, 15 years after Germany will supposedly have phased out coal power. I should be clear – it has apparently been a couple years since the town has had residents who are not there specifically to obstruct coal mine expansion. That said, while evicting people from their homes for this would certainly add incentive to stop it, the fact remains that we cannot afford to keep extracting and burning coal like this, given that climate change is already killing and displacing people.

It’s good that wealthy nations are making any progress at all, I suppose, but it’s nowhere near enough.

And so people are using the one thing that people reliably have – they’re putting their bodies between the ruling class and the object of their destructive greed. It seems unlikely, to me, that these protesters will get their way, but as with so many other things, I hope to be wrong about that. It’s encouraging to see thousands of people showing up to stand against the German police for all our sakes.

“I’m really afraid today,” Petra Mueller, a 53-year-old local who had been at the site for several days, said from a top-floor window of one of the few remaining houses. Mueller said she still held out hope of preserving what is left of Luetzerath “until nothing is left standing; hope dies last”.

Environmentalists say bulldozing the village to expand the nearby Garzweiler coal mine would result in huge amounts of greenhouse gas emissions. The government and utility company RWE argue that coal is needed to ensure Germany’s energy security.

However, a study by the German Institute for Economic Research calls into question the government’s stance. Its authors found other existing coal fields could be used instead, though the cost to RWE would be greater.

Another alternative would be for Germany to increase the production of renewable power, cut demand through energy efficiency measures, or import more coal or gas from abroad, the study found.

This is the point that climate activists have been making for decades. It has long been obvious that when it comes to “energy security”, and issues of war and politics in general, climate change is a “threat multiplier”. It creates resource scarcity, causes mass movement of people, and damages or disrupts infrastructure, all of which can lead to political instability. The advantage of carbon-neutral power has always been that its use doesn’t contribute to the climate problem. The advantage of things like solar and wind power is that they’re generally more resilient to climate chaos than power generation that depends on burning fuel to boil water to run a steam turbine. Dependence on oil and gas has long driven war all around the globe, and it’s a bit much for the German government to plead “security” now after decades of delayed action. To be sure, they’ve done more than the U.S., but that’s a low bar to step over, and not a standard I’m willing to accept.

If there was a genuine concern about security, rather than profits, they would have put far more work into renewable energy and next-gen nuclear power, rather than spending all these resources trying to expand a coal mine that, supposedly, won’t even be halfway to fully exploited when Germany supposedly will stop using coal. Or, just a thought, they’re not serious about meeting the 2030 mark.

Maybe they are, but I think it’s entirely reasonable for the protesters to doubt them.

I give full support to these protesters, and I’ve been delighted to see some of the footage that has come from this effort to oust them. See, while I’ll spare you any (further) porcine comparisons, it has been a treat to watch the armed and uniformed enforcers of fossil fuel interests rolling around in the muck while being mocked by a prancing mud wizard:

The image shows The Mud Wizard, dressed in a monastic habit, casting down the police who thought they would withstand the power of muck.

At risk of sounding too serious, I think there is validity to things that make cops look ridiculous, especially while they’re trying to use force to further business interests. I also want to underscore that while this video is very funny, the activists have also been setting themselves up in treehouses and wooden tripods, along with welded i-beam barricades and other bits of construction designed to make it as costly and difficult as possible for the corporations and cops to get what they want. The Garzweiler mine has equipment on hand that can make quick work of all of that stuff, but unless they want to commit mass murder, they can’t use any of it before removing the protesters.

And to remove protesters, they’re relying on the police.

I think that the act of using force to enable more coal mining, in the early stages of a global climate crisis (remember, it will get much, much worse without a change of course), is both evil, and inherently absurd. I’m sure the cops think they’re doing the right thing by just following orders, but I feel like we’ve had a lesson or two in why that’s not a great way to tell right from wrong. With a little luck, hopefully the powers that be will decide to accept a different world, rather than trying to escalate the violence to get their way, but in the meantime, we have mud wizards and Yakety Sax (It seems I can no longer embed Tweets properly, but I posted it below in case it starts working again. Thanks, Musk).

Thank you for reading! If you found this post enjoyable or interesting, please share it around! Due to my immigration status, my writing is my only source of income right now, which is why I like to “pass around the hat” now and then for people’s spare change. Supporting me on Patreon can cost as little as three or four cents per day, and when enough people join in, even those $1/month pledges add up. There’s not currently much in the way of patron-only content, but my $5 patrons do have the option to name a character in the fantasy novel I’m currently working on, so if you like my fiction and want to immortalize yourself, or someone you know, then giving me money may just be your best option!