Monthly Archives: November 2012

Is it too late for us to do anything about climate change?

Bill McKibben answers the question, describing some dire scenarios if we don’t get off fossil fuels soon. And no government is currently planning to do that. One might argue that its never too late to try and at least slow the warming down, maybe, but we’re already in a new domain. So brace yourselves… it will get bumpier on planet Earth. 

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Let go of that lawn to welcome some life into your suburban yards

Here is a neat video illustrating how wonderful it can be to convert our yards into ecosystems rich in biodiversity – richer certainly than the manicured lawns that dominate most suburban landscapes. Imagine converting most of that lawn acreage – estimated to be 4x the acreage of corn making lawns the number one irrigated crop in the continental US – into native wildlife-friendly habitats!

Imagine your yard looking and sounding and smelling and feeling like this:

How much more local biodiversity would we be able to support within our increasingly suburban landscape? How many ecosystem services and positive environmental externalities could our suburbs generate? By supporting healthier populations of honeybees, for example, which might go pollinate crops in the surrounding agricultural landscape, and maybe give you some delicious local honey to boot, especially if we give them more beautiful flowers from which to sip! That’s a joy already being experienced by urban apiarists even in megacities, who would no doubt appreciate more flowers for their hardworking bees.

And how much water would we save, especially out here in the arid southwest? After all, water wise yards are also biodiversity friendly yards, which is why we are trying to promote them in the suburban sprawl of California’s Central Valley.

It is high time you let go of that lawn, and welcome some more life into your yards too.

Waking up to a more progressive America?

America, you beauty!

Not only did you re-elect your African-American “Islamic Socialist” gay-marriage supporting president, you also: elected more women to the senate than ever before (still highly underrepresented at just 18 senators), elected the first ever all-woman state delegation in New Hampshire, shut down the GOP’s senate rape caucus and several of the most virulent tea party leaders, voted in gay marriage in 3 states (making it 9 in total), legalized marijuana in 2 states, and in California, weakened three-strikes law, and voted to raise taxes for education!! All in the middle of an economic depression and in an election where the white oligarchy poured billions of dollars against all of these causes. Could it be that this election has actually been a bigger win for progressives than we had dared hope? Bigger surely than the last time around? Well done!

And my progressive friends: time to really get to work now, harder this time, to hold the President’s feet to the fire on the environment, human rights, Guantanamo, drone wars, foreign policy, and everything else he promised but failed to deliver the first time around. Drop your despair over his failures – recognize that he had the most intransigent and well funded opposition ever faced by any American president – and recognize the big progressive space he seems to have actually opened up in American politics. He galvanized all the racist, misogynist, regressive political forces of the white oligarchy into a frenzy that had us all scared: and beat them handily despite all his apparent failures (in the eyes of the right and the left) in his first term! Yes, I know he is beholden to some elements of the oligarchy too, but this election also shows that money, even unlimited corporate money, cannot buy votes, not yet in this country. Yes, the country is still sharply polarized, but he spoke about the need to change the electoral system to make it more inclusive. Yes he has failed on many environmental issues, but he broke the deafening climate silence last night in his victory speech, and spoke to a recently storm-battered nation that may actually believe in the reality of the threats from climate change now, about wanting our children to live in a world without the destructive power of global warming.

Perhaps I am being delusionally optimistic (optimism is a character flaw I gladly embrace), but this morning I feel that this election is a bigger win (or series of wins) for progressives in America than the last one when Obama was voted in on that wave of hope-and-change. Now lets make sure this country doesn’t slide back.