Earth-Human Relations

We usually think of the commons as “out there,” a place or a material thing. In fact, the real commons includes the relationship of the human species with the place, matter, or energy field.
Andreas Weber, in an article in The Wealth of the Commons says we humans are part of the commons. “Each ecosystem,” he says, “is the sum of many rules, interactions, and streams of matter, which share common principles. This…follows the fact that living beings do not only use the commons provided by nature, but are physically and relationally a part of them. The individual’s existence is inextricably linked to the existence of the overarching system.” We are partners with land, air, water, energy.

Humans are part of every commons

We usually think of the commons as “out there,” a place or a material thing.  In fact, the real commons includes the relationship of the human species with the place, matter, or energy field.

Renewable Energy is Taking Off

"For three years, new renewable energy has outpaced coal, gas, and oil. From small towns in Texas to some of the biggest corporation s in the world, decision makers are choosing renewables; not only for environmental reasons but because it makes 'cents' too.  A majority in every state supports regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant -- yes, even in the red states.  [A]cross the nation, 44 percent already support a tax (yes, a tax) on carbon."
Peter Frumhoff
Yes Magazine, Spring 2016

More coal is staying in the ground

John Brinkley writing in Sierra Magazine claims that "coal's share of U.S. electric power generation has fallen from about 50 percent in 2007 to about 33 percent today." Robert Murray--CEO of Murray Energy of Clairsville, Ohio--said, "The industry is bankrupt. Our coal markets are being destroyed."  The industry's gross earnings fell by 25 percent in 2015 and will likely drop by another 10 percent this year," according to Brinkley.  "Since 2010, 232 U.S. coal plants have been closed or scheduled for retirement--one-third of the U.S. fleet.

China's Dissonance over Air Pollution and Clean Energy

26%: China's share of global greenhouse gas emissions (vs. 16% for the U.S.).
1.2 million: Number of annual premature deaths in China that air pollution contributes to.
154 million: Cars in China--up from 16 million in 2000.
67%: Energy produced from coal (vs. 20% for the U.S.).
$90 Billion: invested in clean energy in 2014, nearly twice as much as in the U.S.
45%: China's share of the world's new wind energy production in 2013.

What is Ecology, anyway?

Ecology is the examination of the interactions between the biotic (living) things and the abiotic (nonliving) things.  It's the science of how nature works together.  It includes earth science, biology, geology, hydrology, public health, economics, engineering, history and the humanities.  It studies the past (history) moving into the present, and then moves into predicting the future of the whole of nature.  This it studies evolution, or the processes and systems of nature.

A Legacy of the Military-Industrial Complex

We United States citizens are giving you a world armed to the teeth with firepower.  Nearly one billion guns are in the hands of the world’s population.  American possesses one quarter of those guns (250 million), nearly one gun per person.  In the rest of the world, there is one gun owner for every seven people.  1,135 companies worldwide manufacture over eight million handguns and rifles a year.

Worse yet is we have given you a nuclear world.  We received it from our parents’ generation and have been working on reducing the number of nuclear weapons.  Right now there are 23,574 nuclear weapons around the world, over 12,000 in Russia, nearly 10,000 in the U.S.

The enemy of peace here is not the National Rifle Association, but those powerful arms, weapons, and military industries that hold many a national legislature by the throat.

Local food and restaurants

Recently, I took a group of local people on a bus tour to Will Allen’s Growing Power, an urban farm and to Braise, a Milwaukee restaurant across town for a lunch with food grown, in part, from Growing Power.  We got to see and taste this practical and healthy idea of locally grown and consumed food right in our neighborhood.

One thing we did not know much about was the work of Braise Restaurant’s owner and chef, David Swanson.  He has started and coordinates an RSA – Restaurant Supported Agriculture.  It’s like a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) where individuals buy a share in a farm and get dividends in the form of fresh vegetables, fruit, and so forth once a week during the growing season.  An RSA has about 25 area restaurants who let about 400 local farms know what they want to serve.  The farms bring the produce to a common market and the chefs come and pick out what they want and order what they need for the following week.  It’s all done locally. No frozen food while traveling across the country.  And believe me, the prepared food is delicious.

Kansas City to Vote on Stopping Nuclear Weapons Plant

It’s rare when individuals can really “vote” to change nuclear weapons programs.  But in April, voters in Kansas City, MO will be able to cast ballots to stop their city from building a new nuclear weapons facility.  If the measure succeeds, it will mandate that any new plant instead invest in clean energy or other technologies.  (The Field Brief, Ploughshares Fund)

Turtles All the Way Down

A well-known scientist (some say it was Bertrand Russell) once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the center of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy. At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: "What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise." The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, "What is the tortoise standing on?" "You're very clever, young man, very clever", said the old lady. "But it's turtles all the way down!"

Military vs. Climate Change

Amount the U.S. spends on the military for every dollar spent on climate security: $41. 
Approximate amount China spends on military for every dollar spent on climate security: $2 to $3.  (Yes! Magazine, Summer 2011, p. 16)

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