Tuesday, September 30, 2014

#274 / Errors And Emissions

Paul Krugman (pictured) is one of my favorite economists. In a recent commentary in The New York Times, titled "Errors and Emissions," Krugman delivered the following message: successfully cutting back global warming emissions will NOT mean the end to economic growth. In fact, a successful strategy to transition to a non-hydrocarbon economy could actually stimulate growth. 

Well, that is happy news (particularly if you think that economic growth is a precondition to a good life)!

Not everyone, as you might expect, agrees with Krugman's analysis. The Post Carbon Institute, for instance, does not agree that we can do what needs to be done to avoid a global warming calamity and still keep up the current pace of economic growth. The Post Carbon Institute was "miffed," to use a polite word not starting with the letter "P," that Krugman singled them out in his Times' column, pairing the Post Carbon Institute with the Koch Brothers in an "odd bedfellows" group of those practicing "climate despair."

You can read the Post Carbon Institute's response to the Krugman column by clicking the link. By my reading, the Post Carbon Institute does end up pretty much where Krugman says they do. In other words, the Institute does believe that dealing with the global warming crisis will lead to reduced economic growth. Here's one of the comments from the Institute's response to Krugman

It takes energy to get energy, but historically fossil fuels delivered an immense profit on the meager investments of energy required to drill or mine for them. The EROEI figures for renewables are generally lower than current ones for fossil fuels. And energy returns for fossil fuels are declining as companies are forced to dig deeper and deploy more sophisticated (read: expensive) technology to get at lower-grade resources. The overall EROEI of society is falling, and the transition to renewables will not halt that process (though it will lead to an eventual leveling-off). If you think long and hard about what declining EROEI actually means for our civilization, it’s difficult to imagine an outcome that could be characterized as economic growth—at least, growth as we’ve known it for the past century.

I have to say, having now read the comments of both Krugman and the Post Carbon Institute, that I am not so sure that they are really that far apart. What the Post Carbon Institute objects to is being labeled as "despairing." They're not despairing! We shouldn't either. Economic "growth" is not what makes for a good life. 

So, whether Krugman is right about economic growth, or not, isn't really the question that should concern us. What should concern us is whether or not we are willing to run as fast as we can from combusting the hydrocarbon fuels that are creating our climate crisis. 

If we aren't willing to do everything we can to stop burning hydrocarbons, we've got trouble. If we are willing to do everything we can to stop burning hydrocarbons, life is going to be a lot better. 

Both Krugman and the Post Carbon Institute agree on that.

Image Credit:

Monday, September 29, 2014

#273 / Much More Beautiful

Robert Carter III (pictured) was the only one of the founding fathers to free his slaves. That is according to Eduardo Galeano: "For having committed this unforgivable sin he was condemned to historical oblivion."

The interviewer who evoked this observation from Galeano asked him who is responsible for this kind of forgetfulness? 

"It's not a person," Galeano said. "It's a system of power that is always deciding in the name of humanity who deserves to be remembered and who deserves to be forgotten … We are much more than we are told. We are much more beautiful."

Let's not forget it!

Image Credit: 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

#272 / That Brainwashed Sensation

My sister Liz sends lots of different images my way, including many pictures of dogs and cats. I am not much for the dogs and cats, but Liz often mixes in some other images, not featuring dogs and cats, that I find quite compelling. This image seemed compelling to me. 

I was tempted to title this blog entry: "Makes Things (Seem) Whiter." But that is probably because I am in the midst of reading Eduardo Galeano's great book Mirrors (Stories of Almost Everyone). 

If you are feeling "washed out," or even "washed up," and definitely if you are suffering from that "brainwashed" sensation, Galeano is an infallible antidote!

Image Credit: 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

#271 / FSM

Besides its excellent review of Naomi Klein's new book, last Sunday's San Francisco Chronicle ran a big story on the Free Speech Movement, reporting on various 50th Anniversary events that will be taking place through December.

Robert Hurwitt, who wrote the Chronicle story, is the paper's theater critic. There is some justification for seeing the Free Speech Movement as a "drama," and to credit it with both dramatizing and catalyzing the need for a fundamental change in the direction of our society. In fact, it appears that Hurwitt got the assignment because, as he reveals in the article, he was one of the "Berkeley activists" who went from on-campus protesting to working against the Vietnam War. 

Students today are shackled with debt and with a felt, almost frantic need to be able to survive economically when they graduate from school. One doesn't sense much "revolutionary potential" in campus visits today. 

Perhaps not, but genuine revolutions are always "surprises," and are by definition not predictable, not mere extrapolations of ongoing activities. Will there be another time like that one, now fifty years past? I was there (at Stanford, of course, more "gentile" than Berkeley, but I traveled there to Berkeley to see, to be inspired and infected), and students everywhere, even those from Stanford, were galvanized into life-transforming action by the FSM.

There's a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part! You can't even passively take part! And you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels…upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop! And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!

I may not be the only one who is disgusted by the odiousness of our corrupted politics, and by the destructiveness of our collective behaviors. Maybe you, too? Maybe many more. 

We may be surprised (again) by our willingness and ability to change the world!

Image Credits: 
(1) - http://texts.cdlib.org/view?docId=kt687004sg;NAAN=13030&doc.view=frames&chunk.id=d0e6978&toc.id=0&brand=calisphere
(2) - http://theragblog.blogspot.com/2012/01/tony-platt-remembering-alex-haley-and.html

Friday, September 26, 2014

#270 / Everything

Naomi Klein's new book is titled This Changes Everything. It was reviewed in the print edition of the San Francisco Chronicle on Sunday, September 21st. This seems fitting, since on that day a People's Climate March took place, centered on New York City in this country, but with local analogues all over the United States and global analogues all over the world.

For the last several years, Klein has been tying climate change to capitalism, and she has been very clear that "science is telling us to revolt." Klein has also not been seduced by appeals to find "bridging fuels" that are "less bad" than coal and oil, though it was another Naomi, Naomi Oreskes, who came up with the phrase that I think best characterizes this feel-good concept, calling the plan to use natural gas as an acceptable hydrocarbon fuel the "Green Bridge to Hell."

If we care to minimize the climate crisis that we ourselves have made, and that we now confront as our own runaway creation, we need to update the "First Rule of Holes." In this case, the Imperative Rule For Global Warming Survival is: "Stop Burning."

From the perspective of this Two Worlds blog, I particularly liked the following statement in the Chronicle review

Because of its focus on the economic system, “This Changes Everything” stands out from most books on climate change. Klein has spent the past couple of decades steeped in the fight against corporate power and free-market ideology, writing two best-selling books, “No Logo” and “The Shock Doctrine.” She shows how free-market, growth-above-all ideology has been built around World Trade Organization deals that stymie local action on cutting emissions, and into laws and norms that make corporations obligated to continue extracting more fossil fuels, as long as there’s profit in it. “The bottom line,” Klein writes, is that “our economic system and our planetary system are now at war. … Only one of these sets of rules can be changed, and it’s not the laws of nature.”

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

#269 / Ghazal

I am no poet.
The word "ghazal" 
Was new to me
But then ...
I ran into a poem
About Dick Cheney

And now I know

The ghazal is composed of a minimum of five couplets—and typically no more than fifteen—that are structurally, thematically, and emotionally autonomous. Each line of the poem must be of the same length, though meter is not imposed in English. The first couplet introduces a scheme, made up of a rhyme followed by a refrain. Subsequent couplets pick up the same scheme in the second line only, repeating the refrain and rhyming the second line with both lines of the first stanza. The final couplet usually includes the poet’s signature, referring to the author in the first or third person, and frequently including the poet’s own name or a derivation of its meaning.

Traditionally invoking melancholy, love, longing, and metaphysical questions, ghazals are often sung by Iranian, Indian, and Pakistani musicians. The form has roots in seventh-century Arabia, and gained prominence in the thirteenth- and fourteenth-century thanks to such Persian poets as Rumi and Hafiz.

I am told it’s good to forgive.
So I will do myself later and start with Dick Cheney.

After all, I honestly wept for Frankenstein.
Perhaps I can love Dick Cheney.

Doris Lessing says forgive what you cannot understand.
I will try not to understand Dick Cheney.

The lamby-soul of a child is sweet, androgynous.
So must be the soul of Dick Cheney.

Sometimes I am overcome that he is cynical.
I must not project my shadow onto you, Dick Cheney.

Did you ever truly clear a decent shelter for sorrow?
Me neither, Dick Cheney.

But I try. And in trying now, my hate
is turned to this flower, Dick Cheney.

If I knew you better—if you were a friend,
how much harder it would be, Dick Cheney,

to be tender and awake in the face of you.
It’s easier to forgive people like Judas, Pharaoh, Dick Cheney,

than the people I know who voted for you,
some twice; some even with yard signs, Dick Cheney.

Why should it be your fault that you are so beloved?
We lifted the sedan chair, crowned you twice, Dick Cheney.

Then why does my body convulse
every time I think of your smile, Dick Cheney?

That would be judgment, I know.
I’m trying to forgive you, Dick Cheney,

to take you back to the many-armed sea of mothers
where you are unborn once more, Dick Cheney,

no pacemaker, no surgeons starting your heart
over and over, Dick Cheney;

no pesky Congress, no courts or lesbian daughter to ponder.
Just that bliss of androgynous innocence we all lost once, Dick Cheney.

Ken says ah, source of all beauty, still unborn sleep that lasts forever—
thing all music longs for, even yours, even mine, Dick Cheney.

From Four Poems by Ken Weisner 

Image Credit:

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

#268 / Another 1,000 Words Picture

This man knows which "World" is most important!

Image Credit:
Nancy Nopar-Taylor - https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10202977336699631&set=pcb.10202977345979863&type=1&theater