Sunday, January 29, 2012

Part of the Prologue to ANewHumanity.CA

The End of Cheap Oil will bring unprecedented and mostly unwanted change to the industrialized world. No known combination of alternative energy sources, with the possible exception of nuclear reactors, will produce more than a small percentage of the energy currently used in countries like the USA, Canada, Japan and most of Europe. Nor would such alternate sources of energy allow China, India and other emerging industrial nations to develop to the extent that they are presently expecting to achieve. This raises the spectre of rich nation-states fighting over the remaining stocks in what they see as a last chance to 'save' their way of life; a number of these possess nuclear weapons and the chance of them being deployed in an attempted preemptive strike will be very high.

But, does it have to be this way or is there a possibility of avoiding this 'Last One Standing' option through planning and co-operation? Would it still be possible to make changes that might slow the runaway nature of Global Climate Change or to reverse the growth of world population?

Petrogeologist Colin J. Campbell has developed a possible way of trasitioning peacefully away from dependency on oil and this is expanded on and presented by Richard Heinberg in his book The Oil Depletion Protocol. However this book was written in 2006 and governments around the world have predictably ignored both the warning and the starting of a conversation around the possibilities. Likewise, efforts to start meaningful action on Global Climate Change have faltered or, as in the case of the 2009 UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, been dismal failures. Slowing of population growth has been somewhat more successful but, mainly as an inverse relationship to increase in Standard of Living for under-developed countries. While this is hopeful in the short term, return to an agrarian lifestyle in many parts of the world might restart the "Many hands make light work" approach to family planning. Financial chaos continues to be brought about by the almost unbelievable excesses of those in a position to make trillions of essentially worthless dollars out of thin air. A good book to read about this and possible solutions to it is David C. Korten's book, Agenda for a New Economy.

Even if governments can summon the will to accept the problems, which seems very unlikely in democratic countries where the people's representatives spend much of their effort presenting options which will appeal to the electorate, there will be massive resistance from business interests and citizens to any measures which appear to cut profits or challenge the insanity of perpetual economic growth. I wish I could be more positive but I cannot, based on my own observation of human nature as well as historical reaction to change and apparent hardship. I will agree with all the authors I have read on these subjects that a pro-active approach would result in hugely better outcomes and like them, I will continue to attempt to spread this message but, I don't see many people listening yet.

There will be one, last chance to turn Spaceship Earth around when it becomes painfully clear that there is simply no alternative. With luck and a lot of skill, we may still be able to navigate the asteroid fields and other critical dangers but every day that goes by before consulting the chart and beginning to plot a course will make it harder.

In the meantime, the good news is that there are things we can do as individuals or small communities which will help us to prepare our families, friends and those around us for the coming Century of Declines. My website (below) presents some ideas which I have found, collected and hatched myself and will continue to expand as I find or think up more. If you have comments you would like to share which might help us all to survive the up-coming challenges, please pass them on.

MY WEBSITE   —   ANewHumanity.CA



Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Get a Job

The song was recorded by The Silhouettes in 1958, the year that I got a job that turned into a 37 year career. In the 1950's the expectation was that you would work at your career, build your home and family, retire on your pension and spend the rest of your life relaxing. By 1964 Bob Dylan recorded - The Times They Are A-Changin'.

Perhaps you have to be as old as I am (72) before you realize that, far from being synonymous, 'Standard of Living' and 'Quality of Life' can actually be in opposition as they are in my case. We live at a frenzied pace for a working lifespan that is now tending to last until we are entirely unable to function . . . then we die. The ideal of retiring, sitting down and relaxing has apparently been abandoned in favour of acquiring so much "stuff" that we can never find it or figure out how to use it. This shifting of values has resulted in MY Quality of life declining since at least 1980, perhaps since the late 1960's.

So, the imperative to consume, pushed on those who live in the industrialized world by corporations and the governments they control, requires us to work longer hours for less pay in poorer working conditions and . . . LIKE IT! Regressive politicians build their election campaigns by claiming that only through the growth of the status quo, guided by their skilled and loving hands will we be able to "Get a Job" and fully participate in the "Abundance" of the Holy Democratic Capitalist Society   —   BULLSHIT!!

The icons of the industrialized world - Capitalism, GDP growth, Free Trade, Patriotism, Competition, Globalization and most hideous of all, Consumerism have added up to such a decline in the Earth's resources that humanity may well be on the cusp of an inexorable decline towards extinction. When the unmentionable evidence of our excesses is exposed as it was on September 11, 2001 and we glimpse the manifestation of our actions and pause . . . . . we are exhorted to "Go shopping".

Our over-the-top lifestyles and refusal to think about change and even 'degrowth', a non-word which will take its rightful place soon enough, causes the insanity to continue as we rush towards the edge of the abyss. "Get a Job" is the mantra of success, even though you may have to get two or three to be financially viable as wages and benefits decline and full-time careers are consigned to the history books.

No one seems to be very interested in how many GOOD and LONG TERM jobs would be created by the building, operating and maintaining of a complete infrastructure for post-fossil fuel energy. Such infrastructure will, of course, be absolutely required at some point and might be very nearly impossible to build if we wait until so little fossil fuel is left that we cannot use existing construction techniques and equipment. For me, the choices are to start the transition now or wait until it is too late and we have used up the last of our options.

Perhaps the most damaging effect of the frenetic pace of life is the way it impedes our ability to think about anything important . . . like humanity's place in the Cosmos, happiness as opposed to survival, natural vs artificial and most importantly the relationship between needs and wants. Popular uprisings like the Arab Spring and the Occupy Movement happen because some people take the time to look objectively at their world and search for progressive alternatives to the Status Quo.

If you are in the habit of dismissing the counter-cultures that arise from inequity, oppression or elitism, take the time to THINK, THINK and THINK again. The human experiment can only continue and improve through progressive ideas and actions - anything else will bring stagnation, decline and ultimate demise.

MY WEBSITE   —   ANewHumanity.CA

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

From 'Meritorious Service' to Radical Ideologue to Enemy of the State: How the Meritorious Have Fallen

The title above refers to me, not the writer of the letter below. I am proud to have a 'Certificate of Meritorious Service' hanging on my wall, in recognition of over "36 years of loyal and devoted service with the . . . . . Government of British Columbia".

Two weeks ago I discovered that federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver considers me a radical ideologue for opposing the Alberta tarsands and the processing, transport and use of the dirty oil they produce. Now comes news from the PMO that I have been promoted[?] to 'an enemy of the government of Canada' and 'an enemy of the people of Canada'. Until now, I had always thought that I and others like me were the people of Canada.

PS: I, along with all other BC Gov't retirees have recently been informed that most of the Medical premium benefits that I was eligible for as part of my pension are now considered "subsidies" and have been removed. This will cost my wife and I an additional amount over $3,000/year. Perhaps its time to take down the 'Certificate of Meritorious Service' mentioned above, and mail it back to my former employer with a note telling them where they can 'shove it'.

Here is a link to the story as reported by Global News.

. . . . . and an open letter to the Canadian people written by Andrew Frank, the 'Whistleblower'. I have included the entire letter in case it starts to disappear from sites that have it posted.

A Whistleblower’s Open Letter to the Citizens of Canada

My name is Andrew Frank. I grew up in a small town in the Okanagan valley of British Columbia. My granddad taught me how to fish. My father was a well‐respected lawyer known for his unwavering integrity, and my mother was a favourite kindergarten teacher. Both have always impressed upon me the importance of telling the truth.

Today, I am taking the extraordinary step of risking my career, my reputation and my personal friendships, to act as a whistleblower and expose the undemocratic and potentially illegal pressure the Harper government has apparently applied to silence critics of the Enbridge Northern Gateway oil tanker/pipeline plan.

As I have detailed in a sworn affidavit, no less than three senior managers with Tides Canada and ForestEthics (a charitable project of Tides Canada), have informed me, as the Senior Communications Manager for ForestEthics, that Tides Canada CEO, Ross McMillan, was informed by the Prime Minister’s Office, that ForestEthics is considered an “Enemy of the Government of Canada,” and an “Enemy of the people of Canada.

”This language was apparently part of a threat by the Prime Minister’s Office to challenge the charitable status of Tides Canada if it did not agree to stop funding Forest Ethics, specifically its work opposing oilsands expansion and construction of oilsands tanker/pipeline routes in Canada.

This is especially concerning because Forest Ethics is a legally registered intervenor in the National Energy Board’s Joint Review Panel process, currently examining the Enbridge oiltanker/pipeline proposal. By attempting to silence a registered participant in the review, I fear the Harper government may have permanently damaged the integrity of this process.

After waiting more than two weeks for Tides Canada to go public with this story, it has become clear to me that the organization is too afraid of reprisals from the government to act. Tides is responsible for the employment of hundreds of Canadians and dozens of crucial environmental projects like the Great Bear Rainforest, and has been understandably paralyzed in challenging the Prime Minister’s Office on this matter. I on the other hand, am speaking out as a private citizen because I feel that the rights and civil liberties of my fellow Canadian citizens, including freedom of expression and freedom of speech, are at risk.

There was a look of fear and disbelief on my fellow staff members’ faces the day they were told our own government had labelled them enemies of the state. Our administration coordinator had tears in her eyes. In the days that followed, our employees couldn’t sleep well. They lost their appetites, and they began to fear for their own personal safety and civil liberties, and those of their families and loved ones. They began looking over their shoulder, out of fear and paranoia, because their own government might be watching them.

The language of anti‐terrorism, when applied to Canadian citizens who legitimately question the wisdom of an unsustainable oil tanker/pipeline plan, is an affront to the rights of all Canadians. It is the language of bullying. It is language that is violent and above the law, and harkens to previous examples of RCMP surveillance of Canadians for political rather than legal purposes, including Tommy Douglas. The casual use of such loaded language at the top of our government is immoral, unethical and probably illegal.

A strongly opposed oil tanker/pipeline plan is now the least of this government’s worries. In its heavy‐handed attempt to over ride public opposition, the government has breached the public’s trust.

I now invite Canadians, including the media and members of the House of Commons, to challenge the unacceptable behaviour described in this letter and sworn in my affidavit.

Approximately three weeks from now, Mr. Harper will visit China on an official state visit. In China, Amnesty International asserts that a half‐million “enemies of the government” are held in prisons without charge. If the argument in favour of the Enbridge pipeline is that Canada stands to make billions selling oil to an oppressive Chinese government, then my answer is “no thank you.” That’s not “ethical oil,” especially when profiting from this oil wealth requires repressive tactics against critical citizens ‐ tactics we would normally associate with the Chinese state, not Canada.

The events of the last month have ensured that I will never take my rights as a Canadian citizen for granted again. That is both sad and encouraging. Sad that I ever had to question them, and encouraging because I have been reminded of another lesson taught to me by my parents: the best way to stop a bully is to stand up to him.

I invite you to join me in expressing your voice on what is perhaps the most pressing moral crisis facing our nation today. Together we can hold this government to account and prevent the dismantling of Canadian civil society and the further erosion of citizens’ rights.

Andrew Frank is a Canadian citizen, and the former Senior Communications Manager withForestEthics Canada. He is also an instructor in the Environmental Protection Technology program at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, in Surrey, British Columbia.

MY WEBSITE   —   ANewHumanity.CA

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Monday, January 9, 2012

"Radical, Dude"

Joe Oliver, Harper's 'Natural Resources Minister' talks about how he proposes to ministrate Canada's natural resources:

"Their [environmental groups] goal is to stop any major project no matter what the cost to Canadian families in lost jobs and economic growth. No forestry. No mining. No oil. No gas. No more hydro-electric dams."

This is obviously a political statement about how to get Joe Oliver re-elected and has no relationship to his responsibilities to Canada's natural resources or, more importantly, the world's. These people simply do not "get it", they are so blinded by yesterday's ideology that they apparently cannot address anything beyond their own, narrow self-interest.

Currently, my grandchildren are too young to step up and defend their self-interest and I hope they are never taught to do that without thought for the rest of the Earth Community in any case. So we have to defend the world for them in the interim and teach them about worldwide justice and how to live peacefully with their neighbours. If this sounds too "radical" for Minister Oliver then so-be-it.

We have a system of politics, elections and government which we call democratic but which has become anything but. The only citizens who have a chance to form a government are those who have access to sources of great wealth, either their own or that of those who are willing to pay their way. In our society, people with wealth usually accumulated it by being ruthless and self-interested, hardly the qualities required to promote justice and peace or the qualities I would want to see exhibited by the leaders of my country.

If this was a stand-up comedy routine by the Minister, the biggest laugh would come after Oliver says the groups "threaten to hijack our regulatory system to achieve their radical ideological agenda". These are the same people that were being accused by the Harperites a few months of having no leader, no future and NO AGENDA!!! Also, if we are looking for a radical, ideological agenda, the PM has a lock on the trophy for that in Canada.

However, this is not funny. In fact, this is the most serious situation to face humans in the history of the species and it is being exacerbated by the very people Canadians elected to govern them. I see nothing funny at all, I see only the same greed and selfishness I see in the highest levels of the Corporate World; I wonder why that is.

MY WEBSITE   —   ANewHumanity.CA

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Saturday, January 7, 2012

Are there any Bridge Builders out there?

Below is my comment to the story about Chiquita's boycott of Dirty Tarsands Oil.

"We can either co-operate in an effort to bring justice to the world or we can form into two groups facing each other across what we see as a divide that cannot be bridged. We can look at the global picture or the 'national interest' one. We can fixate on jobs or start working on ways to feed ourselves in the future."

"If we let greed, selfishness and corruption rule our hearts and minds we will do what we have always done and attack each other. This site is dedicated to verbal attacks but these will quickly escalate into physical clashes between non-violent protesters and government backed police and military without the restraints of non-violence."

"The problems are global in nature and so would solutions have to be, that is the reason for co-operation with those from outside of Canada. National interest has become one of the most damaging factors in attempts to start the rebuilding of the world for a peaceful and just, post-oil future. I was just looking at a picture of a young girl holding a sign that read "YOU CAN'T EAT MONEY" . . . . . most of the world's peoples already know that and we in the industrialized world will find out the truth of it soon enough."

Unfortunately, I just cannot see the 1% acquiescing to the 99%, the Occupy Movement or Keystone/Gateway protests without a fight and non-violence is absent from their collective genetic code. I fear the the only salvation for humanity will be through the pepper spraying, teargassing and rubber bulleting of anyone who refuses to move out of the way, physically or ideologically.

If there are any Bridge Builders out there, there is a huge contract available for bidding - unfortunately the profit margin will have to be much less than zero.

MY WEBSITE   —   ANewHumanity.CA

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Parable of the Titanic

This is an excerpt from "The Great Work" - Thomas Berry, 1999. This is an amazing book especially coming as it does from a Roman Catholic priest. I believe Berry took plenty of flak from his employers over his progressive views of Creation during his lifetime. However, he has left us a legacy bridge between the religious and secular factions of society, a bridge which could bring us all together to toil on his "Great Work" - nothing less than a complete re-building of our relationship with Earth - a "Great Read".

"In April of the year 1912 the Titanic, on her maiden voyage across the Atlantic. struck an iceberg and went down at sea. Long before the collision those in command had abundant evidence that icebergs lay ahead. The course had been set, however, and no one wished to alter its direction. Confidence in the survival capacities of the ship was unbounded. Already there were a multitude of concerns in carrying out the normal routine of a voyage. What happened to that "unsinkable" ship is a kind of parable for us, since only in the most dire situations do we have the psychic energy needed to examine our way of acting on the scale that is now required. The daily concerns over the care of the ship and its passengers needed to be set aside for a more urgent concern, the well-being of the ship itself. Here is where macrophase concerns in one context become microphase concerns in another context. Passenger concerns in the situation of the Titanic needed to give way to a macrophase decision about the ship itself."

"Now our concerns for the human community can only be fulfilled by a concern for the integrity of the natural world. The planet cannot support its human presence unless there is a reciprocal human support for the life systems of the planet. This more comprehensive perspective we might identify as macrophase ethics. This is something far beyond our ordinary ethical judgments involving individual actions, the actions of communities, or even of nations. We are presently concerned with ethical judgments on an entirely different order of magnitude. Indeed, the human community has never previously been forced to ethical judgments on this scale because we never before had the capacity for deleterious action with such consequences."

"As indicated by Brian Swimme in The Hidden Heart of the Cosmos, humans, through our scientific insight and technological skills have become a macrophase power, something on the level of the glaciations or the forces that caused the great extinctions of the past. Yet we have only a microphase sense of responsibility or ethical judgment. We need to develop a completely different range of responsibility."

MY WEBSITE   —   ANewHumanity.CA

Monday, January 2, 2012

Stupid and Stupider rationalized

After posting my previous entry, 'Stupid and Stupider', I went to the book I am currently reading (The Great Work: Our Way Into the Future - Thomas Berry 1999) and within a couple of pages, ran straight into one of the author's explanations for the diminishing consciousness prevalent in our industrial world:

"In every phase of our imaginative, aesthetic, and emotional lives we are profoundly dependent on this larger context of the surrounding world. There is no inner life without outer experience. The tragedy in the elimination of the primordial forests is not the economic but the soul-loss that is involved. For we are depriving our imagination, our emotions, and even our intellect of that overwhelming experience communicated by the wilderness. For children to live only in contact with concrete and steel and wires and wheels and machines and computers and plastics, to seldom experience any primordial reality or even see the stars at night, is a soul deprivation that diminishes the deepest of their human experiences."

It is no wonder that our kids' collective consciousness is less than complete, growing up as they do out of touch with nature, with humans other than their group of electronic 'Facebook Friends', with the Earth, the Universe and especially out of touch with reality. We have spawned an industrialized world of 8 year-old Barbies and 10 year-old Bart Simpsons and, as they age without maturing, we wring our hands in distress over their inability to function.

Take a look at this story about Barbie getting functional knees for the first time at age 53 - could this be a sign of progress? Bart is still a long way from World Leader material but he is only 24 so there may still be time for some improvement. in the meantime, keep trying to get the kids into some kind of contact with reality and . . . . . Good luck.

MY WEBSITE   —   ANewHumanity.CA

Stupid and Stupider

An American story about the 'Walmarting' of the world (literally). This woman has a mid-level job but, because of Walmart's 'Need to Compete', her government has to help feed her and her son. This is not just about Walmart, the entire social structure of the industrial world is quickly crumbling into dust.

And yet, people still buy into the whole "Vote-for-me, I'll-grow-the-HOLY-ECONOMY, You-will-have-a-job" BS that the distinctly UNHOLY Business-Corporate-Military conspiracy hands out as the ultimate in having a good time.


I have not yet watched "The Age of Stupid" yet but I'm going to very soon, by the title I think it will finally give me some insight into the world around me. More movies about global stupidity at this site.

"The Age of Stupid" is on Netflix for sure so use the microwave to pop some corn that has traveled twice around the world to be grown, processed, packaged and delivered to your local retailer (and has supported dozens of workers along the way for only 49 cents a package BTW) and let's learn about the world together.

MY WEBSITE   —   ANewHumanity.CA

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year !

We should probably be wishing each other a Hopeful, rather than a Happy New Year. I don't run into a lot of happy people most days and I SURE didn't notice many in the stores over the holidays. Why do we do that to each other and the world every year? Putting an end to the nauseating orgy of holiday consumerism would be a great start to a New Year, not to mention a New Humanity.

Despite the gloomy tone of my last post (December 19), my wife and I were blessed by spending New Year's Eve with a group of people who seem to be happier than most - it was really good. Many of these folks gather on a regular basis and could be considered as 'Community', I'm pretty sure there's a clue to that happiness in there somewhere.

We dined together, read and listened together, sang together and entered into many and varied conversations together. There were people with significant disabilities and people with none in the group. There were people from diverse ethnic backgrounds and a wide range of ages. The core of the group were people of the Bahá’í Faith although my wife and I and a number of others were not. Still, we were all quickly able to find common ground to discuss and differences to celebrate.

Yes, we had some religious conversations as well as some non-religious conversations and I was even fortunate enough to find a few people who wanted to discuss the material on my website (below). There was a spot during the reading and singing (Devotions) part of the evening set aside for those who wished to read, sing or speak original material or to quote others on the evening's theme of World Peace so I had written a prayer, a kind of bridge for all who are working for Peace and Justice to use to visit each other and our common Creator:

A Prayer to Equip Oueselves for the Work of Bringing
Peace and Justice on Earth

Creator of this wondrous and infinite universe,
We ask for the will to cast off our weaknesses,
The strength to stand up against our oppressors,
. . . . . and most importantly,
The wisdom to use the tools we have been given.

Concerning the task of bringing Peace and Justice to humanity,
We do not ask for forgiveness of our transgressions,
Nor for redemption from our errors,
. . . . . and finally,
We do not ask for relief from the hard work required.

We believe that if we accept the challenges,
We make our plans diligently,
We choose our leaders wisely,
. . . . . and work vigorously,
Then we can achieve the New Humanity for which we were created.

—   —   —   —   —

. . . . . and I was even able to share one of my favorite quotations, one that has a very interesting attibution:

"When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace" - Jimi Hendrix, 1942 - 1970

H A V E   A   H A P P Y   A N D   A   H O P E F U L   2 0 1 2 !

MY WEBSITE   —   ANewHumanity.CA