The Journey


Thursday, October 22, 2015

October 22 The Pinnacle Of Power For The New Right

It amazes me that the same how to manuals I was reading in 2006 on how to get more progressives into the local Democratic leadership were used in 2008 to organize the TEA Party. Along with the aid of the billionaire class these impassioned citizens have gone so much farther than my leftie activist cohorts. Much of that has to do with need of the right to take support anywhere they can get it, and with the Dem’s capitulating to the agenda of corporations. 

We came close to a watershed moment back in 2006 and 2008 when the Democratic Party took back Congress and the White House only to turn its back on the impassioned folks that put them in power. As the tides turn, and wealth becomes even more intensified that intensity of purpose might again in the future put the Democrats back in power. But now the Republicans are struggling with their own creation. It seems to me that their disarray is to the advantage of the handful of the monied class that can, for the time being, install any representative government that they so wish. 

This juncture in history marks when either crony capitalism ends or civilization does. Our climate crisis will not endure much more denial.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

October 17 At the Bioneers Conference 2015

Keep your head in the soil, but not like the ostrich. 
Ouch! I asked a question at a workshop this afternoon and got slapped down as if I were an apologist for industrial farming. Ouch again. Maybe I just asked the wrong person in the wrong setting. But give me a break. Farming for carbon sequestration is a new concept in agriculture and it needs a quick development. Increasing soil carbon concentration 2% will pull enough enough carbon from the atmosphere to reduce the PPM to the magic sustainable number 350. For its promoters to suggest that industrial agriculture will not need to go through a massive restructuring in order to prevent starvation is just ridiculous. 

Somehow local promoters of farming with the objective of sequestering carbon in the soil as a primary goal seem to believe that only a tiny percentage of our food comes from modern corporate farming. If they had only stayed in their chairs until the next workshop, ‘Curbing Corporate Power to Develop a Just Food System’, convened they could have been disabused of such nonsense.  This second presentation provided information that 50% of grocery retail sales is controlled by 4 corporations. That over 11 million workers are involved in providing our food. The presenter from the National Family Farms Cooperatives talked about how corporate America controls agriculture from the production, selection, and distribution of seeds. NFFC also suggested that the storage of grain seed, an essential part of the banking of community wealth in agriculture areas, that the ownership of grain elevators is also being concentrated in the hands of a few of these giant corporations. 

Because of the aging of American farmers over half of agricultural land will be sold in the coming decade. Anyone who has read my screeds about food production on this blog will see that in my view this is a major issue that needs to be addressed with an openness to the realities of our system and with an urgency that will allow our system time to develop so that we don’t all starve from the changes necessary. We must sequester carbon through our agriculture process and feed the people.

Friday, October 16, 2015

October 16 There's New Vigor In The Name Socialism

Many people are starting to talk about Socialism. It was not that long ago that John Nichols wrote a book entitled ‘The “S” Word’, indicating that the word could not even be said aloud. It’s a great and easy read by the way, a historical look at American socialists governing in the twentieth century. But today in the grand tradition of the American left folks are slicing and dicing Bernie Sanders’ self-identification as a Democratic Socialist to either include or exclude him from the family of socialistic movements. And the American right is trying to taint him with a cold war era hue of something foreign, reflecting the days before the fall of the Soviet Union. 

But the course of events in modern America are removing the traitorous stigma from socialism. Now the enemy of the American people are international corporate institutions that are pillaging our communities and our environment. The too big to fail banks and global conglomerates that are out sourcing jobs are making us all internationalist. The father of the modern Republican Party, Rush Limbaugh,  and his current apostle in chief Donald Trump, can suggest that socialism is somehow against the American way, but Americans are not buying that anymore. As John Nichols wrote socialists have a great American history of very good governance. Check out his book from a socialistic public library.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

October 6 Statement To Board Of Supervisors: Don’t Use RoundUp

Today I read this statement, modified from my earlier post, in support of a ban on glyphosate spraying in Marin to the Marin Board of Supervisors. 

Good afternoon Board members. I am a neighbor of this county Civic Center. I came home one day to find a flyer on my car window that my house, organic vegetable garden, and car had been sprayed by the county. 

This afternoon I will read from the Executive Summary of Pesticide Action Network’s 2012 Report:  A Generation In Jeopardy, How pesticides are undermining our children’s health & intelligence. 
Children today are sicker than they were a generation ago. From childhood cancers to autism, birth defects and asthma, a wide range of childhood diseases and disorders are on the rise. Our assessment of the latest science leaves little room for doubt: pesticides are one key driver of this sobering trend.
As the recent President’s Cancer Panel reports, we have been “grossly underestimating” the contribution of environmental contamination to disease, and the policies meant to protect us have fallen far short. Nearly 20 years ago, scientists at the National Research Council called for swift action to protect young and growing bodies from pesticides. Yet today, U.S. children continue to be exposed to pesticides that are known to be harmful in places they live, learn and play.
This report reviews dozens of recent studies that examine 
the impact of pesticides on children’s health. Our analysis reveals the following:
• Compelling evidence now links pesticide exposures with harms to the structure and functioning of the brain and nervous system. Neurotoxic pesticides are clearly implicated as contributors to the rising rates of attention deficit /hyperactivity disorder, autism, widespread declines in IQ and other measures of cognitive function.
• Pesticide exposure contributes to a number of increasingly common health outcomes for children, including cancer, birth defects and early puberty. Evidence of links to certain childhood cancers is particularly strong.
• Emerging science suggests that pesticides may be important contributors to the current epidemic of childhood asthma, obesity and diabetes.
• Extremely low levels of pesticide exposure can cause significant health harms, particularly during pregnancy and early childhood.

Many communities across the country have stepped up to create local or state policies to protect children from pesticide exposure…. 
Locally-driven actions are leading the way to healthier childhood environments. 

I urge the board to stop using pesticides. Thank you.

Monday, October 5, 2015

October 5 Congratulations Given To The Pilgrim

With great relief that this crazed ancient hippie returned in one piece, a group of family, friends, and neighbors gathered to wish me a warm welcome home from my bicycle trip across America, my pilgrimage for peace and environmental justice. I am very grateful to all those that followed my journey and offered moral support. Among the questions asked yesterday about my journey was, did I accomplish my goals? 

Did I convert the people of this earth to endeavors solely focused on peace and love of the environment? There is no immediate chance of governments not waging war anytime soon. Nor of the people of this earth shutting off the carbon switch and capturing the existing excess atmospheric carbon dioxide and replanting it into the soil. Nor of us collectively changing the economic system that is driving these conditions that are now pressing human civilization towards extinction. 

But neither did Pope Francis’ trip to America. He is the leader of one in seven people on this earth. He came to Washington DC with essentially the same messages of peace, economic justice, and of saving our collective home as he calls the effort to reduce the atmospheric carbon that is causing global climate change. While my mission was clear on its purpose, my concrete goals were not well defined when I left, they evolved as I rode. I set out to raise awareness with those that I met along the way. It became convenient for me to say, I was riding to DC to talk to my congressman. Folks everywhere got that. There is near universal frustration with how our government is functioning. On reflection I am surprised, considering the forty year effort to convince Americans that our self-governance project is a failure, that so many people still are engaged in democracy. 

Nearly everyone, even the very cynical, holds a solution for our problems. That as a people we have very different ideas of what those solutions might be points to the success of those trying to destroy democracy. The right blames the rise of ISIS on Obama’s indecision and the left points to GW Bush’s invasion of Iraq. Yesterday a friend reached back a 100 years in history to the French and English carving up the Middle East for their profit just after the First World War, or as Pope Francis called it in his address to Congress ‘The Great War’ the pointless slaughter. This bit of land is where modern humans crossed out of Africa and interbred and fought with our near predecessors, who also had made that journey. From there they moved across our entire planet. We can go back in history to where the Middle East was called the Levant, or Phoenicia, or as in Genesis The Garden of Eden where Cain killed his brother Abel, the herder, and was sent away by god to then establish agriculture and thus modern civilization. 

We have been given a gift by science to view different futures based on our choices of present actions. We no longer live in what we perceived as a static world. Our climate is changing. The relative peace of the planet, the product of a stable climate, is changing. In the past we could look at past actions of our neighbors and fight over wrongs and arrive at a relative sense of peace and justice imposed by the victor. That system of justice always to the advantage of the victor harbored the seeds of future conflicts. We now know that we must not look at past wrongs but at future possibilities to guide us towards an outcome where civilization might persist, where our progeny can continue. 

I heard someone say recently, it is not the planet that is endangered by climate change. It is us, the people, whose continued existence on this earth that is at risk. Will our failure to forge peace in Syria and the birthplace of civilization be the cause of civilization’s demise? 

Dan Monte