enviro

who bombed judi bari?

Twenty years ago today, Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney, two prominent Earth First!ers, were in Oakland protesting clearcutting. They had been on the road organizing Redwood Summer, a campaign to save old-growth forests inspired by the Freedom Summer of the civil rights movement.

The two were in Bari’s Subaru station wagon when a pipe bomb exploded underneath her, injuring Cherney and nearly killing her. Hours later, while Bari was still in Oakland’s Highland Hospital, local police arrested them and said they had knowingly transported the bomb—that they were responsible for their own bombing. Police dropped those charges weeks later, but this was just the beginning.

I’m too full of plague and pestilence to say very much right now, but I’d like to point out that after 20 years, I don’t believe anyone has found out who bombed Judi Bari, and I don’t think there has ever been a real investigation.

At the 1995 Round River Rendezvous, I heard her give a workshop called “Revolutionary Deep Ecology.” I’m pretty sure it was the basis for this pamphlet which she put out the next year. Again, I’m too full of snot to insert my own opinions here, so read her in her own words:

roma under attack, kosovo mayhem and political trials

Europe may be your liberal utopia, but if you want to see its true colors, ask the Roma.

Jozsef Bencze, Hungary’s national police chief, said in an interview on Friday with the daily newspaper Nepszabadsag that the perpetrators, believed to be a group of four or more men in their 40s, were killing “with hands that are too confident.” Military counterintelligence is taking part in the investigation, Hungarian radio reported, and Mr. Bencze said the pool of suspects included veterans of the Balkan wars and Hungarian members of the French Foreign Legion.

Experts on Roma issues describe an ever more aggressive atmosphere toward Roma in Hungary and elsewhere in Central and Eastern Europe, led by extreme right-wing parties, whose leaders are playing on old stereotypes of Roma as petty criminals and drains on social welfare systems at a time of rising economic and political turmoil. As unemployment rises, officials and Roma experts fear the attacks will only intensify.

Kosovo has never fully settled down after declaring independence, and unrest seems to be increasing again. No comprehensive roundup for today, but just a snapshot:

And assorted treehuggers facing The Man:

(Typical lousy Earth First! photo. Can’t tell what’s going on, can’t read the banners. They’re treesitting, if that helps.)

random bits of news

Mr. Iqbal’s lawyer, Joshua L. Dratel, had earlier argued that prosecution of his client for providing satellite TV services violated his First Amendment rights, but Judge Berman rejected that view, ruling that the prosecution was based not on the content of speech but on conduct — allegations that he provided material support to a foreign terrorist group.

I’ve read a few articles about this, and I can’t find any claim that his “material support” amounted to anything more than airing the TV station.

Thanks to Katie Monster for this one:

Despite advisories that warn people to avoid contact with river sediments and consuming locally caught fish, thousands are expected to participate this weekend in a Dow Chemical-sponsored walleye festival along the Tittabawassee and Saginaw rivers, where the watershed has been contaminated with harmful dioxin and other toxic substances.

And just as the Michigan Department of Community Health is warning that children and pre-menopausal women should mostly avoid eating river fish including walleye because of contamination from polychlorinated biphenyls and dioxin, organizers of the festival say they plan to donate walleye fillets to a local food bank.

Thanks to KM for this one too (maybe I should just let her post here herself):

“APRIL 24, 2009
HENNINGSVAER, NORWAY

WHALING SHIP SUNK

ON THE EVENING OF THE 23RD OF APRIL WE SNUCK ONTO A NORWEGIAN WHALING SHIP MAKING REPAIRS IN THE LOFOTEN ISLANDS IN PREPARATION FOR THE 2009 WHALING SEASON. TO DELAY THE KILLING SEASON AND TO PROTEST THE CONTINUED ILLEGAL EXPORT OF WHALE MEAT TO JAPAN WE DISASSEMBLED A VALVE AND FLOODED THE ENGINE ROOM. UNFORTUNATELY LOCAL FIREFIGHTERS WERE ABLE TO RESPOND JUST MOMENTS BEFORE THE SHIP SETTLED ON THE BOTTOM BUT NOT BEFORE THE SHIP HAD ALREADY BEEN COMPLETELY FILLED WITH SEA WATER AND THE DAMAGE DONE. FOR BOTH FISHERIES INVESTORS IN TOKYO AND INSURANCE UNDERWRITERS IN OSLO INVESTING IN THE NORWEGIAN WHALING INDUSTRY CAN ONLY LEAD TO SUNKEN PROFITS. AS A DIRECT RESULT OF A GROWING INTERNATIONAL TRADE IN ENDANGERED SPECIES WE CAME TO HENNINGSVAER. WE SAW THE SKARBAKK. WE SANK THE BASTARD. -AGENDA 21″

earth day or whatever

I guess Earth Day is still a good idea- raising awareness, building commitment and all that. But it’s also an excuse for corporate greenwashing and for token actions that don’t mean much without the other 364 days of the year. Maybe it’s time to start promoting Earth Night again:

Joosse is convinced the attacks are being carried out by someone who lives in the area, but said it’s difficult to say whether it’s a single individual or a “small tightly knit group.”

“Even if it is an individual,” said Joosse, “there are other people who know about this person and are complicit in helping, if only through their silence.”

Residents blocked oil and gas vehicles on a road running through the community of Kelly Lake last summer, an event Joosse said was a precursor to the explosions.

Joosse said the blockade was an illustration of “widespread community support for civil disobedience, and a widespread sentiment of frustration” by locals angry over what they see as the destruction of their land.

This one makes a little less sense. I can understand the poetic justice of attacking a polluter with pollution, but I can’t see a lot of activist types actually doing it. Not to mention that dumping 1200 pounds of waste seems like a big enough task to make security difficult. Curiously, I seem to remember a similar story from the Connecticut area in the last couple of months. I’m going to look around for that again.

The search for contaminants began Tuesday, when DEP Commissioner Gina McCarthy got a letter claiming to be from the group of environmental activists called Earth First. The letter, which also had been mailed to Plainfield Renewable Energy and the Norwich Bulletin newspaper, claimed that Earth First dumped substances at the site of PRE’s planned plant near Norwich, Mill Brook and Tarbox roads.

Saying PRE is “guilty of plotting to commit crimes against the environment,” the letter-writer stated that they dumped 1,200 pounds of substances in six locations on the 27-acre property — “the same pollution that PRE intends to dump on their neighbors.” The letter lists the following chemicals: “Lead Mercury Asbestos Toluene Benzene Perchloroethylene and Creosote.”

Here are a couple of less-intense things we could do. This is a pretty decent argument for cities like Portland to reconsider their attraction to streetcars and light rail, and build a bus system that works better than what we have now and is more flexible than the rail we want (by way of Jack Bog):

And here’s a notion of how to make bikes more attractive to Americans:

This may all seem a bit much compared to the bicycles we’re used to, but consider the North American equivalent to the city bike: the private automobile. Just think of how silly it would be if you had to carry your groceries on your back when you used a car to get somewhere. Or if you wanted to go out at night, but your lights had run out of batteries. Would you buy a car that didn’t come eqiupped with lights to begin with, requiring you to buy separate lights that you had to attach yourself? What if a car rusted into uselessness if parked outside in the winter? Cars, like city bikes, are designed for practical transportation.

And some dismal science from the sea:

(picture and link by way of Treehugger)

PETA, what works and what doesn’t

I’m not an animal rights advocate, but PETA always gives me a good opportunity to talk about activist strategies. They’ve had a couple of news hits this week. The one you’re more likely to have seen already is this:

“Dear Neil and Chris, You have many loyal fans of the Pet Shop Boys here at PETA. Will you please consider changing your name from the Pet Shop Boys to the Rescue Shelter Boys?” pleaded a letter to the group from Yvonne Taylor, PETA’s special projects manager.

“Most dogs and cats sold in pet shops are sourced from profit-hungry breeders who may have bred them in cramped, filthy conditions.

“For every bird who reaches a pet shop, three others have died during capture, confinement and transportation.

“Hamsters, mice and other rodents are often bred by the pet shops themselves, leading to inbreeding, genetic weaknesses, physical deformities and behavioral disorders.

“By agreeing to change your name to the Rescue Shelter Boys, you would help raise awareness about the cruelty involved in the pet trade and encourage your millions of fans to consider giving a home to an abandoned or unwanted animal from an animal shelter. So, what do you say?”

Of course the Pet Shop Boys aren’t going to change their name, and I doubt anyone at PETA expected they would. So what does PETA accomplish with this? Well, they got a story with legs. I’ve seen this reposted all over the web, from “weird news” sites to blogs and Facebook statuses. The treatment ranges from ha-ha-those-wackos to outright scorn. But millions of people have now read about it, and in doing so, they’ve been exposed to PETA’s message that pet shops are cruel to animals.

This will be a novel concept to many readers, including many animal lovers. The idea will need reinforcement of course, but it’s a pretty effective first shot. PETA isn’t aiming to shut down any particular company or store, but to change how people view the industry. And if that sounds like a vague or abstract goal, go check in with the fur industry. Ask them what effect changing views of fur, spearheaded by PETA, have had on their business.

PETA didn’t get as much ink this week for their No More Monkey Business campaign, but at least one response to it is telling.  The last time I talked shit about Green Daily, I called them “touchy-feely at best.” Here they are demonstrating their fear of effective action. It’s fine to engage in conspicuous consumption of green trinkets, but dog forbid we should actually try to talk to anyone about issues that matter.

So … I sort of joined PETA and got the free activist kit for the campaign.

I know! That totally puts me over the eco-crazy edge. It’s one thing to be someone who “always carries a reusable shopping bag” (eco-friendly) and totally another to be someone who “talks to strangers about endangered animals” (eco-intense).

So who should we really be mocking here? PETA, which is willing (eager, even) to look the fool in order to get their story out? Or someone who thinks that organizing around an issue makes him a crazy?

Oh, and on the topic of those re-usable shopping bags, here’s a piece that’s been making the rounds this week:

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t like plastic bags either. We use too many of them, just as we use too many of all the earth’s resources. They litter the countryside and cause problems for wildlife when they end up in the sea. But their total impact is microscopic by comparison to almost anything else we do. As environment writer George Marshall records in his excellent book Carbon Detox, our annual average consumption of bags produces 5kg of carbon dioxide a year. Total average emissions are 12,500kg.

Plastic bags aren’t even a very large component of domestic waste. Plastics in general – according to a study by South Gloucestershire district council – account for 18% of total household waste. Plastic bags account for 18% of the plastic, which means 3.2% of total waste. Clingfilm (23% of domestic plastic waste) produces a greater proportion than plastic bags.

I will say that Monbiot underplays the important point that plastic bags tend to enter the environment in more intrusive ways than lots of other things. Cling wrap tends to end up in the landfill, while bags end up stuck in fences and treetops, or blowing down the street like tumbleweed.

Still, bags are a tiny piece of the picture. If you convince someone to quit using them, it may be a good first step towards further awareness or further action. But not if it lets them feel like they’ve done their part while driving their canvas bags home in their giant oil-fueled vehicle.

PETA may put on some weird campaigns, they may seem out of touch or out of their minds at times, but given the choice between a) trading your dignity for long-term influence over the culture, or b) token solutions that let you show off green credentials for little actual gain, which are you going to choose?

I suppose the answer depends on whether you’re in it to win or just to feel good.

enviro stuff

This is very wonkish, and it represents a reformist (as opposed to revolutionary) approach to climate change, but it’s an example of where the debate should be. Not “is it happening?”, but “what can we do about it?” The answer is probably “a lot more than any politician has been willing to say yet,” but you knew that.

And that is why the analogy of a massive government Apollo program or Manhattan project is so flawed. Those programs were to create unique non-commercial products for a specialized customer with an unlimited budget. Throwing money at the problem was an obvious approach. To save a livable climate we need to create mass-market commercial products for lots of different customers who have limited budgets. That requires a completely different strategy.

This second one is going to be worth following, I think:

And in case you missed this earlier in the week:

And more cheerful news:

OK, tomorrow will be better news. Maybe some pirates, and I’ve already got a zombie lined up for you.

food, animal and wild ideas

There’s nothing new or ground-breaking in this opinion piece, except that it’s written by Thomas Friedman:

Let’s today step out of the normal boundaries of analysis of our economic crisis and ask a radical question: What if the crisis of 2008 represents something much more fundamental than a deep recession? What if it’s telling us that the whole growth model we created over the last 50 years is simply unsustainable economically and ecologically and that 2008 was when we hit the wall — when Mother Nature and the market both said: “No more.”

Too bad he couldn’t have seen this before it all crashed. It’s not like no one had thought of it before. But what’s done is done, and now the question is whether he takes a productive role in fixing the mess he promoted or just gets a big head because he thinks he’s thunk of something new.

And speaking of ideas from unlikely sources, here’s a Vatican slant on women’s lib:

It sounds like a spoof or just plain condescension, but as our economy comes tumbling down, we should remember how much of the good life is built on technologies we take for granted.

On the other hand, returning to savage nature sounds pretty awesome too:

A chimpanzee at Sweden’s Furuvik Zoo has been observed chipping at concrete to create discs to throw at visitors. He even made weapons at night to throw at visitors when the zoo opens in the morning.

“My initial thought, when I was half awake, was it’s a lunatic ninja coming through the window. It seems about as likely as a kangaroo breaking in,” Beat Ettlin told local media Monday.

And on to the food we eat and how we get it. This promises to be the start of an interesting piece:

This is an interesting story about the disappearing bees. Ever since the global warming connection got scrubbed, no one has really picked up the story again. There’s still no agreement on just what’s happening, but it’s not the novel experience it’s been made out to be. And it still looks like some of the causes are environmental or related to the treatment of the bees:

And finally, I’ve been buying some seeds, and I plan to help my friends dig up their yards for victory gardens. Apparently it’s all the rage:

climate action

The Capitol Climate Action lost some its thunder, through no fault of its own. Last week, Nancy Pelosi met their key demand by ordering the Capitol power plant to switch from coal to natural gas. That’s pretty much a victory, but one that robbed them of the spectacle of mass arrests. They blockaded the plant, but no one seemed interested in arresting them. I remember that curious feeling of still being free at the end of a day on which I expected to go to jail. It’s a combination of relief and regret.

The weather didn’t help either. Out of 10-12,000 people at the conference, only a couple thousand or so made it to the action. Also, it scuttled their attempt at dress clothes- everyone seems to have dressed for the elements instead. And all science aside, it’s tough to get a good photo of global warming activists when they’re bundled up for freezing temperatures. Irrational but true.

This action was associated with Power Shift 2009, a huge conference of student climate activists:

It seems like a lot of the logistical work was handled by Greenpeace people, although their name is nowhere on the event. Maybe some Rainforest Action Network as well. Even with the anticlimactic protest, they did pretty well for themselves. They didn’t get their national media hit, but it’s notoriously difficult to get a story out of DC- there’s so much else to compete with. What they did get was an easy victory, and thousands of student activists going home inspired by their accomplishment. Doesn’t hurt that they got some painless exposure to direct action, either.

food, enviro, climate

Stop cutting down the forest or fucking tigers will eat you. No, really:

Haven’t you ever thought there was something a little funny about our obsession with the softest possible toilet paper? It’s one of those metaphor things. Anyway, the NY Times agrees:

More about your food- it’s really worthwhile for the link to the Michael Pollan article from last year:

A dollar will buy 1200 calories of cookies or chips but only 250 calories of carrots. If you don’t have a lot of money, the most rational thing to do is buy junk food to get the most calories for your buck.

Obama’s going to get lots of mileage out of just repealing stupid shit left behind by Bush:

Coolest year since 2000, sure, but still one of the ten warmest since 1880:

swissinfo: Humans are incredibly adaptable. Is there not a way for us to just live with a warming climate?

H.W.: The only problem with global change is that we have enough money in these northern continents to adapt but what will people do in the not-so-developed areas like Africa? They don’t have enough water today and the available water will decrease. In policy, we really have to deal with this situation and help these other countries. If we don’t help with our technology and do not find the best solution we will see huge problems in the future.

Speaking of which…

A report by the UK’s Institution of Mechanical Engineers will next month call for governments to accept that climate change is now inevitable. Strategies must be put in place now to protect our infrastructure from its worst effects, alongside existing efforts to reduce emissions, it will argue.

In a month’s time IMechE will launch its three-pronged plan to a select group of MPs in an urgent bid to start implementing long-term adaptation.

And here’s the report. I haven’t read it yet.

politics, crime, collapse and space

This story hasn’t gotten much play. It may fizzle, it may explode, but it’s bound to be interesting either way. Maybe it’ll even work. It’s certainly going to be closely watched by many people, although not the American media:

Worried about the collapse of civilization? Concerned that Kyoto is too little, too late? Overwhelmed by feelings of doom and gloom? Here’s a new take on the standard story of humans consuming themselves to death:

“Societies don’t just go into a tailspin and self-destruct,” says Stevenson, an archaeologist at the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. “They can and do adapt, and they emerge in new ways. The key is to put more back into the system than is taken out.”

While evidence suggests the Rapa Nui people cut down 6,000,000 trees in 300 years, for example, they were also developing new technological and agricultural practices along the way—such as fertilization techniques to restore the health of the soil and rock gardens to protect the plants. As a result, every rock on Easter Island has probably been moved three or four times, Stevenson said.

What they don’t say is that it’s any fun to live through this sort of adjustment. I wouldn’t take it as an excuse to let things go to shit.

Here’s someone with some political courage. It’ll be interesting to see who attacks him for this:

How does all this stimulus money affect things I care about?

Tales of crime:

Things that fall from the sky:

And things that go up into the sky: