Information Overload, Transition Town Edition: Well-behaved activists seldom make history

When Laurel Thatcher Ulrich wrote her famous quote in 1976, she was referring to the massive, under appreciated good done by women who will never get the credit they deserve. Time has showed the truth of her words, and I think they can be applied to people working for systemic change as well.

In this time of near constant over-stimulation, it’s easy to miss a lot of what is going on in the world. This point has come up a lot when pointing to the many layers of conniving, corruption, and cruelty in the modern Republican Party, but it applies to good things as well. Case in point: the Transition Town movement. [Read more…]

“If we’re going to invest billions of dollars in space, please let us do it intelligently?”

Rebecca Watson has a response to Trump’s “Space Force”, and it’s worth your time.

Transcript

Whatever they once were, the GOP has become entirely dependent on viewing other individual humans as the biggest danger to white men America, to the exclusion of all else. If you try to talk about dangers like climate change, the focus is immediately redirected away from anything that would require a change in the status quo to the scary terrorists illegal alie- Oh.

Has anybody checked to make sure that Trump doesn’t think Men in Black is a documentary?


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Presenting His Holiness Saint Ray the Cat

It’s hot and humid today, and my cat is cute. Please enjoy these pictures of him cuddling with his new favorite thing:

Apologies for the poor picture quality. Trust me when I say the blur makes my kitchen look better.

The picture shows His Holiness St. Ray the Cat snoozing with his paws on an ice pack. He is very cute and fuzzy.

His Holiness St. Ray the Cat


If you found this post useful or enjoyable, please share it, and please consider becoming a patron over at my Patreon page. Your donations make this blog possible, and even as little as one dollar per month adds up to make a difference. If you feel you can afford more than that, you can get access to all sorts of other content and perks! Your patronage allows me to put more of my time and energy into making this blog a useful resource. Thanks for reading!

 

“Even the gods were frightened by the Flood, and retreated, ascending to the heaven of Anu.”

The past is prologue. Our understanding of how CO2 levels relate to global temperature came out of 19th-century scientists studying the newly discovered Ice Age. In the generations since, our studies of how the last Ice Age ended showed us monstrous flooding as vast bodies of meltwater were released by crumbling walls of ice to rush across the planet carving out huge rivers, and global sea levels rose hundreds of feet in a matter of a couple centuries.

The past is prologue, and the ice is melting. The flood is coming, and we are not prepared.

[Read more…]

American Police Logic: Threaten to kill someone first if they try to kill themselves.

Montgomery County Police Department got a call that Chelsea Manning might be trying to kill herself. Because law enforcement is currently the ONLY tool we have to deal with this sort of thing, the police were sent to check up on her. So far so good enough. When she didn’t answer the door, they broke in. Again, I don’t really have a problem with this. If someone is in the process of dying, then breaking in to save them is a good idea. This is where things take a disturbing and depressingly familiar turn – when they got her door opened, they entered with three drawn guns and a drawn taser. Manning wasn’t home, but I have to wonder what the outcome would have been if she was. Again – they entered the apartment of someone they thought was suicidal with guns drawn and aimed ahead of them: [Read more…]

If satellites can see plants glow, why oh why can’t I?

One factor that’s not often discussed in the fight against the greed-funded climate denial campaign is photosynthesis. Well, I should qualify. Some deniers never shut up about photosynthesis, but they don’t really address the ways in which photosynthesis really matters to us with regard to climate change. Among its other roles, it can also be a tool for managing our impact on the planet’s climate system. Given enough water, plants are really good at pulling in CO2 and binding it in cellulose. If we were to really set ourselves to it, the machinery of industrialized agriculture could be put to work harvesting and sequestering CO2.

Even so, the much larger amount of photosynthesis in the natural world is more important, both as a CO2 sink, and as a potential source. This is just one reason why being able to accurately estimate the total photosynthetic activity of the planet helps us keep an eye on how the foundation for our existence is doing. I knew that scientists were using satellites to estimate photosynthetic activity, but what I didn’t know is that they’ve been doing it by measuring the glow given off by the process of photosynthesis: [Read more…]

This Week in “Free Market” Capitalism: Government-picked winners

It probably comes as no surprise to any of my readers, but the GOP has decided to order utilities to buy electricity from coal even if it’s more expensive than other sources of energy:


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The Fossil Fuel Lobby: Killing people for fun and profit

This is a good example of how propaganda continues to be used to undermine wind energy. I don’t know where the funding for this came from, but over the years, the fossil fuel industry has invested millions in lying to people not just about climate science, but about any alternatives to fossil fuel energy generation. This strategy began while nearly identical misinformation campaigns were being waged by the lead industry to keep lead as a gasoline additive, and by the tobacco industry to keep the public from understanding the dangers of tobacco smoking.

I will keep saying it – these people are committing crimes against humanity, and a just society would lock them away, and use their assets to try to repair some of the damage they have done to satisfy their greed. Just as we are still grappling as a society with the damage done by tobacco and lead, we will continue dealing with climate change long after the people whose inaction created the problem are dead. Millions of lives will end this century because of the lies of the fossil fuel industry starting in the last century, and every step of the way there will be people still holding up those lies, and claiming that the deaths are due to anything BUT a changing climate.


If you found this post useful or enjoyable, please share it, and please consider becoming a patron over at my Patreon page. Even as little as one dollar per month adds up to make a difference, and if you feel you can afford more than that, you can get access to all sorts of other content and perks! Your patronage allows me to put more of my time and energy into making this blog a useful resource. Thanks for reading!

Tropic of Chaos: Old Wars Never Die, but Rise Again to Feed on the Flesh of the Living

Chapter 3: War for a Small Planet

These book reviews are a way for me to think through what we know of the changes we expect in our climate, and how to respond to them. In particular, I’m focused on actions we can take now to support our future efforts towards a society run on progressive, secular humanist values. I’m new to book reviews, so let me know if you have questions or suggestions. If you want to read along with me, the book is Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence, by Christian Parenti

General impression: This chapter concludes the introductory segment of the book, so it’s no surprise that it is solidly focused on the patterns of the last couple centuries that have laid the ground for the crises still to come. Its most chilling lesson for me, though, is how similar the goals and symptoms of counterinsurgency (COIN) are to the current state of both law enforcement and of tribalism in the United States.

All this really is, is an extension of the ancient tactic of “divide and conquer”. COIN takes it out of the battlefield, and employs it at every level of daily life, encouraging prejudices, feelings of aggrievement, worry about access to necessities, and so on. The question is what we do in response to that looming threat, and how, in the future, we can avoid the mistakes of the present and the past.

Soundtrack: ¡No Mas!, John McCutcheon

Click here for lyrics.

What can we do in response to this chapter? At risk of sounding like a broken record, study the history of the past couple hundred years, particularly from the point of view of the people at the receiving end of America’s “Greatness”. Many people have pointed out, over the last couple decades, how many Cold War-era figures are still shaping U.S. policy and politics. Oliver North’s recent reappearance in the public view stands as a grim monument to this trend, but it should also serve as a reminder that we’re not just saddled with the criminals of that era, but also the damage they did. Just as decades of U.S. meddling in Iran brought us the current crisis there, the refugees that the conservative movement is so eager to brutalize at our southern border are there, in part, because of U.S. meddling in South and Central America, and the instability we have cultivated there.

It is vital that we not only learn what happened, but also what justifications were made to support injustice and atrocities during that time. As was done during the Civil Rights Movement, people will claim that working for justice is a luxury that cannot be afforded during times of crisis. For those with unjust power and privilege, it will never be the right time for them give that up, and we will not be able to face any challenges as a united species for as long as we are defending injustice in the name of that unity.

Now on to the review!
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