July 13, 2011

07/13/2011 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

This update/Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) Online Newsletter has the following items:

1. Vegetarianism and Tisha B’Av

2. Israeli Chief Rabbi Responds to Appeals to Ban Shackling and Hoisting

3. Summary of Many Reasons to be Vegetarian

4. News From Orthodox Jewish Environmental Group Canfei Nesharim

5. Climate Change Threatening World Food Supply

6. Outline of Current Crises and Future Prospects

7. Jewish Farms Donate Vegan Bounty

8. Is Nonviolent Civil Disobedience an Effective Way to Promote Efforts to Stabilize Climate?

9. Climate Change is Increasing Injustice and Instability

10. Jerusalem Post Article Extols Vegan Diets

11. Resource Scarcities Threaten the World’s Future

12. Animals Voice Magazine Summer Issue Now Available

13. Campaign to Educate People on Climate Realities Initiated

Some material has been deferred to a later update/newsletter to keep this one from being even longer.

[Materials in brackets like this [ ] within an article or forwarded message are my editorial notes/comments.]

As always, your comments and suggestions are very welcome.



1. Vegetarianism and Tisha B’Av

I recently sent you a special JVNA newsletter on “Vegetarianism and Tisha B’Av” that included a press release, 2 articles (that can also be found in the holidays section at JewishVeg.com/Schwartz, and a letter (in a longer and shorter form). I encourage you to pass some of that material along to others, especially the Jewish media, and to use it for letters to the editor, calls to radio talk shows, and talking points in general. Suggestions on the material are very welcome. Thanks.

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2. Israeli Chief Rabbi Responds to Appeals to Ban Shackling and Hoisting

a. Jerusalem Post Article

Chief Rabbinate ‘against’ shackle-and-hoist method




Also at


included to show that the message is spreading already.

Kashrut, other dietary activists: South American practice of chaining steer’s leg to lift animal for ritual slaughter is cruel, abusive.

The Chief Rabbinate says it’s doing its upmost to bring an end to the shackle-and-hoist method applied to cattle slaughtered in South American abattoirs for meat exported to Israel.

Last year, media reports quoted Avi Blumenthal, a top aide to Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger, as setting the end of 2011 as a deadline for the slaughterhouses to stop attaching chains to the legs of fully conscious cattle in order to hoist them into position for ritual slaughter.

According to those reports, Metzger – who is in charge of kashrut in the rabbinate – threatened that if the abattoirs did not change over to the somewhat-better solution of “inverted boxes,” in which the cattle are walked into box-like structures that are then rolled over to expose the animal’s throat, the rabbinate would refuse to issue them with kashrut certificates.

Reality, however, provides a more complex picture.

According to Blumenthal, the Chief Rabbinate never made any such commitments.

Rather, it was more an expression of the desire to see the abattoirs move to inverted boxes, although some of the slaughterhouses, he said, lacked the space or the means.

Jewish vegetarian advocacy groups were up in arms over what they saw as a breach of promise.

“As president of Jewish Vegetarians of North America, I very respectfully urge you to please fulfill your promise to put an end to shackling and hoisting of animals for shechitah,” Professor Richard Schwartz wrote to Metzger last month, using the Hebrew word for ritual slaughter.

“I believe that this action would be a kiddush Hashem [sanctification of God’s name] by helping end violations of tsa’ar ba’alei chaim at South American slaughterhouses and by showing how Judaism’s eternal teachings apply to contemporary situations,” Schwartz wrote. “It would also be consistent with other rulings you have made about the proper treatment of animals, including banning the use of furs imported from China, where animals are skinned alive.”

Schwartz added that Jews “must strive to emulate” the ways of God.

“Therefore, we turn to you, as Chief Rabbi, to redress this avoidable tsa’ar ba’alei chaim and to institute restraint systems for shechitah that minimize suffering. If this is done, it will surely help fulfill our divine mandate to be a ‘light unto the nations’ by our example, and not the opposite.”

Blumenthal issued a careful response to Schwartz in which he stressed the importance Judaism gives to preventing cruelty to animals. He also noted actions taken by Metzger to diminish such cruelty, such as requesting that the Agriculture Ministry mark eggs with a description of their source.

“In the context of the fervent action taken by the Chief Rabbi for the well-being of animals and the prevention of cruelty to them, he also called a meeting of those concerned with the importing of meat from all over the world into Israel, and explained to them that the continued use of the fettering [shackling] method is likely to lead to an attack on kosher meat and that this might lead to blasphemy and constitute a threat to the Jewish method of ritual slaughter all over the world,” Blumenthal wrote.

“[Metzger] has instructed the importers to cease using this method, and expressed the hope that the phenomenon will totally disappear. He has also given them a certain amount of time in which to change the manner of preparation for ritual slaughter.”

Blumenthal did not note what the time frame was.

“Nevertheless,” he continued, “by reason of various constraints, such as long-term contracts signed between the importers and the factory owners or local and technical restrictions, the phenomenon still exists, albeit in minimal percentage terms, the information in our possession having revealed that the old system [of shackling] has been substantially reduced.”

Blumenthal noted that shackling was not employed by rabbinate staff ion the abattoirs.

“There is no such requirement on our part; quite the reverse, we have given an unequivocal instruction to go over to the inverted box method. Furthermore, this process is not part of the ritual slaughter, but is carried out prior to it,” he wrote to Schwartz. “The chief rabbi completely associates himself with your feelings and hopes that this phenomenon will disappear completely.”

In responding to the letter on Wednesday, Schwartz said he was “very pleased by Chief Rabbi Metzger’s deep commitment to applying Judaism’s strong teachings about compassion to animals” and increasing such awareness.

“I hope that he will continue to use the power of his office to help end the many current abuses of animals, including the shackling and hoisting of cows prior to slaughter at slaughterhouses in South America, which ships meat to Israel, the raising of egg-laying hens in very crowded battery cages, and the immediate removal of calves from their mothers to be raised for veal in very small spaces,” Schwartz wrote. “In addition, since animal-based diets are contributing significantly to an epidemic of diseases, animal-based agriculture is a major contributor to climate change and water, energy, and food shortages that threaten all of humanity, and plant based diets are most consistent with Jewish teachings on taking care of our health, treating animals with compassion, protecting the environment, conserving natural resources, and helping hungry people, I hope that Chief Rabbi Metzger will help increase awareness of the importance of eliminating or at least sharply reducing the consumption of meat.”


b. My response in a letter to the editor and postings after the article (divided up and shortened due to space limitations): (On July 8, the Jerusalem Post published my letter, but in a shortened form.)

As president of Jewish Vegetarians of North America and author of Judaism and Vegetarianism, I was, of course, very happy to read this article. Kol hakavod to Jonah Mandel for his excellent reporting.

While I hope that the cruel shackling and hoisting method will soon be ended, I believe that this issue is just the tip of the iceberg in at least two ways.

First, even if animals are slaughtered in the most painless way, consistent with Jewish ritual slaughter laws, can we ignore the many violations of tsa’ar ba’alei chaim on factory farms where they live in cramped, confined spaces, and are often drugged, mutilated, and denied fresh air, sunlight, exercise, and any enjoyment of life, before they are slaughtered and eaten.

Second, even if animals were raised more humanely, can we ignore the devastating effects of animal-based diets on human health and the environment and how animal-based diets arguably violate Jewish mandates to preserve human health, treat animals with compassion, protect the environment, conserve natural resources, and help hungry people.

I would love to have a respectful dialogue/debate with a rabbi or other Jewish scholar on "Should Jews be Vegetarians?" It would be a kiddush Hashem (a sanctification of God's name) in showing the relevance of Judaism's eternal teachings to current threats.

For more information on Jewish teachings on vegetarianism please visit JewishVeg.com/schwartz, where I have 140 articles and 25 podcasts of my talks and interviews and the complete text of my book "Judaism and Vegetarianism." Please also visit aSacredDuty.com, where you can see our acclaimed, award-winning documentary "A Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal the World."

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3. Summary of Many Reasons to be Vegetarian

Forwarded message:


Vegetarianism is the fastest growing trend in the developed world. Here are 21 reasons why you should think about turning green too.


Avoiding meat is one of the best and simplest ways to cut down your fat consumption. Modern farm animals are deliberately fattened up to increase profits. Eating fatty meat increases your chances of having a heart attack or developing cancer.

Every minute of every working day, thousands of animals are killed in slaughterhouses. Pain and misery are common. In the US alone, 500,000 animals are killed for meat every hour.

There are millions of cases of food poisoning recorded every year. The vast majority is caused by eating meat.

Meat contains absolutely nothing - no proteins, vitamins or minerals - that the human body cannot obtain perfectly happily from a vegetarian diet.

African countries - where millions are starving to death - export grain to the developed world so that animals can be fattened for our dining tables.

'Meat' can include the tail, head, feet, rectum and spinal cord of an animal.

A sausage can contain ground up intestines. How can anyone be sure that the intestines are empty when they are ground up? Do you really want to eat the content of a pig's intestines?

If we eat the plants we grow instead of feeding them to animals, the world's food shortage will disappear virtually overnight. Remember that 100 acres of land will produce enough beef for 20 people but enough wheat to feed 240 people.

Every day, tens of millions of one-day-old male chicks are killed because they will not be able to lay eggs. There are no rules about how this mass slaughter takes place. Some are crushed or suffocated to death. Many are used for fertilizer or fed to other animals.

Animals who die for your dinner table die alone, in terror, in sadness and in pain. The killing is merciless and inhumane.

It's must easier to become (and stay) slim if you are a vegetarian. (By 'slim', I do not mean 'abnormally slender' or 'underweight' but rather, an absence of excess weight!)

Half the rainforests in the world have been destroyed to clear ground to graze cattle to make beef burgers. The burning of the forests contributes 20% of all greenhouse gases. Roughly 1,000 species a year become extinct because of the destruction of the rainforests. Approximately 60 million people a year die of starvation. All those lives could be saved because those people could eat grain used to fatten cattle and other farm animals - if Americans ate 10% less meat.

If you eat meat, you are consuming hormones that were fed to the animals. No one knows what effect those hormones will have on your health. In some parts of the world, as many as one on four hamburgers contain growth hormones that were originally given to cattle.

The following diseases are commoner among meat eaters: anemia, appendicitis, arthritis, breast cancer, cancer of the colon, cancer of the prostrate, constipation, diabetes, gallstones, gout, high blood pressure, indigestion, obesity, piles, strokes and varicose veins. Lifelong vegetarians visit hospital 22% less often than meat eaters and for shorter stays. Vegetarians have a 20% lower blood cholesterol level than meat eaters and this reduces heart attack and cancer risks considerably.

Some farmers use tranquillizers to keep animals calm. Other routinely use antibiotics to starve off infection. When you eat meat you are eating those drugs. In America, 55% of all antibiotics are fed to animals and the percentage of staphylococci infections resistant to penicillin went up from 14% in 1960 to 91% in 1988.

In a lifetime, the average meat eater will consumer 36 pigs, 36 sheep and 750 chickens and turkeys. Do you want that much carnage on your conscience?

Animals suffer from pain and fear just as much as you do. How would you like to spend your last hours locked in a truck, packed into a cage with hundreds of other terrified animal and then cruelly pushed into a blood soaked death chamber. Anyone who eats meat condones and supports the way animals are treated.

Animals which are a year old are often far more rational - and capable of logical thought - than six week old babies. Pigs and sheep are far more intelligent than small children. Eating dead animals is barbaric.

Vegetarians are fitter than meat eaters. Many of the world's most successful athletes are vegetarian.

Thanks to author, educator, and JVNA advisor Dan Brook for forwarding this material to us.

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4. News From Orthodox Jewish Environmental Group Canfei Nesharim

Learn to Express Your Purpose,

Engage Your Community and Motivate Action

Join Jewish environmental leaders and activists from California and around the world on August 21 at the third Jewcology Leadership Training, a bonus day to the Hazon Food Conference.

Date: Sunday August 21

Time: 10:30am-6:30pm

Location: UC-Davis (Sacramento, CA)

Cost: $60 (Scholarships available!)

In this full-day session, we will:

learn how to share the experiences and values that have led us to engage in Jewish environmental education and action

gain skills to help us tell our personal stories in a way that connects us with others and clearly expresses our purpose, and

practice using these values and commitments to connect with a wide range of individuals and groups, and to inspire a diversity of audiences to take meaningful, collective action.

This event is intended for Jews of all denominations. Food served at this event will be kosher.

Learn more and register here!

And... from our friends at Ashrei

Ashrei, Sulam Yaakov's entry-level Torah study track for men, is happy to announce that this year's program will feature "Eco-Ashrei," a weekly environmental Torah learning active-seminar. Created by Yonatan Neril and Shaul Judelman, veteran Torah environmental activists and educators in Israel, Eco-Ashrei adds an essential element to Ashrei's rich program.

Each week, Ashrei participants will join Shaul and Yonatan as we venture to sites throughout and outside of Jerusalem and learn about/work on Jewish environmental topics.

Ashrei is a MASA-approved program, as is its sister program, Shirat Devorah (which will also be featuring a unit designed by Yonatan and Shaul). For more information about the programs, visit Ashrei and Shirat Devorah, and/or contact R. Yehoshua Kahan or Miriam Esther Hadid.

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5. Climate Change Threatening World Food Supply

Rising Temperatures Melting Away Global Food Security 

Earth Policy Release
Book Byte
July 6, 2011

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6. Outline of Current Crises and Future Prospects

A 50,000 Foot View of The Global Crisis

By Paul Chefurka


SNIP [Initial part of this very insightful article not shown here for space reasons. The entire article is highly recommended. The VERY frightening analysis reinforces my belief about the importance of our efforts.]

The Present:

There are of course many symptoms of the global problem, but these are representative:

Climate change due to CO2 emissions from fossil fuels is probably the most significant existential threat humanity faces today. Climate change is altering weather patterns, causing physical damage though extreme weather events, and is increasingly disrupting rainfall and food production in various regions.

Soil fertility is plummeting worldwide.

Fresh water extraction from long-term and fossil aquifer storage is increasing to support the intensification of agriculture. Water tables are sinking around the world.

We may have already lost the oceans, because of a combination of over-fishing, acidification, temperature changes, and pollution from plastic waste and agricultural runoff. Food fish species exploited by humans are near collapse and the entire food chain is showing signs of disruption (e.g. jellyfish population explosions).

Desertification and deforestation are continuing largely unchecked around the world.

Species are going extinct at a very rapid rate, from a combination of habitat loss due to human activity, climate change and pervasive pollution.

The human food supply is showing signs of peaking due to climate change and increasing input costs.

Many genomes of agricultural species of plants and animals have been streamlined to such an extent that the resilience of the stocks is now in question.

We hit Peak Oil around 2006. Global crude oil production has been on a plateau since late 2004 (7 years now) despite massive upward excursions in the price.

The world economy is in a continuing recession caused by a combination of human factors (excessive complexity and loss of control) and a tightening of resource inputs – especially oil. The symptoms vary from place to place, but the underpinnings are global.

The Future:

The following points constitute a scenario based on my reading, that I believe becomes increasingly probable as the time horizon is pushed out. Take this as a 75 year scenario.

Climate change will not be ameliorated by international agreement. This is due to the cooperation problems identified in the “Prisoner’s Dilemma” game, national and corporate self-interest, a lack of urgency due to the hyperbolic discount function mentioned above, and the complete lack of any realistic substitute for fossil fuels.

The general replacement of declining oil supplies by biofuels will not succeed due to the low ERoEI of such fuels.

The global impact of Peak Oil will be made worse as producing nations retain more of their declining oil output to satisfy domestic demand. This will drain the international oil market of most supplies by 2040 or so.

Over the next 25 years the decline in oil exports will trigger repeated rises in world oil prices. Those prices will in turn trigger waves of economic instability, with the prices falling during recessions/depressions and surging again during attempted recoveries.

The amount of capital available for new equipment manufacturing and infrastructure maintenance and development will decline in a stair-step fashion during the repeated recessions, as the global debt bubble implodes.

Nuclear power will not be developed any further because of public resistance due to the perceived risk. Some exceptions may occur in autocratic, centrally planned economies (esp. Russia and China).

While much renewable power will be installed in some places, in global terms renewable power will not save the day. This will be because of the lack of capital, the huge disparity between current renewable generating capacity and power needs, the inability to upgrade or even maintain national electrical grids, and the difficulty in addressing some transportation problems with electricity.

Most new electrical generation capacity will be fuelled by natural gas and coal.

There will be spreading electrical grid breakdowns as poorly-maintained infrastructure fails.

The human food supply will fail to keep pace with population growth, probably starting within the next two to five years. Despite international aid, famines will begin to spread out of sub-Saharan Africa into the rest of that continent and Asia. Pockets of starvation will begin to appear in developed nations over the next decade or two.

International tensions will rise over access rights to water, oil and gas. Regional and civil wars will become more common.

Populations will panic, and demand strong protective measures from their governments. This will result in an increase in repressive, bellicose authoritarian regimes. Asymmetric warfare will increase.

The use of transportation to move food from consuming to producing regions will become increasingly difficult, unreliable and expensive. This will cause a re-localization of food production, but some regions will not have enough land, water or skills – or a suitable climate – to permit the replacement of imported food supplies.

Sanitation infrastructure will suffer for the same reason as electrical grids – the progressive lack of capital for maintenance and refurbishment. Sanitation failures will trigger disease outbreaks.

Fertility rates and birth rates are likely to plummet worldwide over the next 30 years, due to the same influences seen in Russia from 1987 to 1993 during the break-up of the Soviet Union. These changes will largely be driven by personal choice rather than centralized planning and legislation.

Mortality rates will begin to climb somewhat later, due to food supply problems and the regional spread of communicable “breakdown” diseases like cholera, typhoid and dysentery. The spread of diseases will be aided by the breakdown of local and regional sanitation and health care systems.

Population growth will slow faster than the UN currently projects. World population may reach a peak of between 7 and 8 billion between 2030 and 2040, and then begin to decline. The speed of the decline is unknowable. The world population will begin to stabilize as it drops below two billion.

The world’s political landscape will undergo massive changes. In some cases there will be fragmentation as regional populations secede or are increasingly isolated by traditional geographic barriers (mountains, rivers, lakes, oceans and deserts). In other cases there will be amalgamations as wars of conquest are fought over resource access rights.

I do not believe, based on what I have learned, that new technological developments offer any hope for escaping this scenario. Much of the possibility for technological development hinges on the availability of capital and oil, both of which will be in increasingly short supply in the coming decades.

Some technological developments will cushion the shocks in some places. For instance the OECD may be able to make use of new low-energy or renewable technologies. However, the probability that such changes will penetrate deeply enough into Africa and Asia to prevent catastrophe is, in my estimation, vanishingly small. And in the end, the entropic forces at work may overrun even the most technologically sophisticated regions.

I do not support the use of genetic engineering or biotechnology to address the food supply problem. In my opinion the risks are too great and the probability of success is too low. Nor do I support the further development of nuclear power, for similar reasons.

In any event, what we face is not, at its heart, a technology problem amenable to an engineering solution. What we have is an ecological problem. We are in an overshoot situation relative to the ecological underpinnings that are required to support life, as well as having drawn down most of the accessible resources on which our civilization’s operation now depends. Our numbers and our needs have filled our ecological niche, which we have expanded to include the entire planet.

The good news is that human extinction is extremely unlikely. This is a very large planet, and we are a very resilient species. There is evidence that we rebounded from the Toba bottleneck when our species was reduced to at most a few tens of thousands of individuals. Barring a cosmic accident, humans will be around for a long time. Our current civilization, though, is quite another matter. On that scale we are about out of time, resources and options.

So what do we do about it? It’s not in our nature to simply roll over and give up – our survival instinct is, after all, built into the oldest reptilian part of our brains.

There will be some governments that will come to their senses in time, and have the courage to institute helpful measures. Unfortunately, institutional responses will usually be reactive rather than proactive. The worse the situation becomes before they take action, the more likely it becomes that panic will cloud the decision-makers’ judgment, leading to short-sighted, mistaken and ultimately harmful policies.

Most of the effective preparation for the coming changes will happen where it always does – at the individual level. This is already happening as people break free from the groupthink of their cultures, wake up and realize what’s going on.

This awakening is the source motivation that feeds all the small, local independent environmental and social-justice groups that are springing into being like antibodies throughout the infected bloodstream of our global culture. These groups are independently addressing local problems as diverse as water rights, education, local food production, environmental cleanup, social justice issues, home energy production, local currencies, cooperative housing and child care – the list is effectively endless.

As these groups do their work, they also wake up many of those they come in contact with, to one degree or another. There may be over two million such groups in existence today, and there is one or more in every city on the planet. As far as I can tell their number is growing by about 30% per year. They are the true repositories of hope in a gloomy landscape.

“Big solutions” are what got us into our current predicament. I reject the notion that more big solutions will get us out. Instead I prefer to count on the boundless courage, compassion, and ingenuity of individuals. People like you.

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7. Jewish Farms Donate Vegan Bounty

Beyond canned food drives: Jewish farms donate bounty


07/04/2011 19:27


Volunteer: Spending time in the field, turning the earth together, harvesting together, is a great way to get to know each other and build community.

BERKELEY, Calif. - Tali Weinberg walks along the rows of leafy green vegetables poking out of neatly raised beds of soil at Urban Adamah, a newly launched Jewish garden project in this university town.

“We’re growing chard, kale, lettuce, summer squash, cucumbers, beans, basil, fennel, dill, tatsoi, broccoli, cabbage,” she said, surveying the garden. Later in the summer, they will add peppers, tomatoes and eggplants.


Thanks to author, nutrition expert, and JVNA advisor Jay Lavine for forwarding this material to us. He also submitted the following comments:

This is the kind of thing we need to support! I submitted a comment [after the article] earlier. As I indicated in my comment, it would be great to have a charity that supported programs of this nature exclusively. Programs such as these promote vegan nutrition more effectively than anything could because they embody the idea that plants foods are the most healthful and the most nutrient-dense and that they support all nutritional needs. The donation of produce to the needy is a concept we should strongly support. We all know that food banks often reject perishable food items and instead collect unhealthful processed foods, especially animal products, for distribution. Other charitable organizations often provide meat and other animal products as well. This serves to provide self-validation for the donors, in terms of their own dietary choices, but comes at the expense of the poor.

Providing fresh produce and produce alone to the needy is consistent with nutritional recommendations for an ideal diet. A research editorial accompanying a recent study reported online in The Journal of the American Dietetic Association began with the words, “What could be more nutrient dense than a vegetarian diet?” This, of course, is antithetical to common public beliefs. Therefore, by furnishing the poor with fresh vegan foods, we are doing what is in their best interests – giving them the most nutrient-dense foods to insure nutritional adequacy, the same foods that provide the most benefit and the least detriment to health. What a powerful statement in favor of the nutritional superiority of a plant food diet! It represents ideal nutrition in practice, not just in theory, and is therefore much more influential than all the rhetoric directed at unhearing ears.

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8. Is Nonviolent Civil Disobedience an Effective Way to Promote Efforts to Stabilize Climate?

Forwarded message from Rabbi Arthur Waskow, author, activist, and director of the Shalom Center:

Dear folks, Bill McKibben and many other leaders of the US and world-wide movement to prevent climate disaster have called for a wave of nonviolent civil disobedience at the White House gates between August and Labor Day, focused on convincing President Obama to withhold permits that would allow the so-called ‘Keystone XL Pipeline’ from Canada’s tar sands to flow to Texas refineries, thence to add enormously to planet-scorching CO2. Below you will find McKibben’s letter.

I am intending (God willing & the creeks don’t rise, or even if they do!) to take part in the tar-sands nonviolent CD action in DC in August. If you think you might want to be a part of this action, please sign up here.


I am especially interested in helping to put together a multireligious contingent to focus the attention of the various faith communities on this issue and the larger climate crisis of which this is a part. (Bill is asking for a 3-days-in Washington expectation: one to prepare, one to act, one to deal with legal issues. For me, a 3-day period between Aug 28 & Sept 1 would be best.) If you are interested in this multireligious aspect of the event, please drop me a note. At very best, a religious presence might not only risk arrest at the White House, but precede that with a religious event — Blessing the Earth, for example.

Shalom, salaam, shantih, peace -- Arthur

Rabbi Arthur Waskow, director, The Shalom Center

------ Forwarded Message

From: Bill McKibben

Date: Sun, 3 Jul 2011 13:56:30 -0400

Subject: Fwd: civil disobedience this summer

Dear Friends,

This will be a slightly longer letter than common for the internet age—it’s serious stuff.

The short version is we want you to consider doing something hard: coming to Washington in the hottest and stickiest weeks of the summer and engaging in civil disobedience that will quite possibly get you arrested.

The full version goes like this:

As you know, the planet is steadily warming: 2010 was the warmest year on record, and we’ve seen the resulting chaos in almost every corner of the earth.

And as you also know, our democracy is increasingly controlled by special interests interested only in their short-term profit.

These two trends collide this summer in Washington, where the State Department and the White House have to decide whether to grant a certificate of ‘national interest’ to some of the biggest fossil fuel players on earth. These corporations want to build the so-called ‘Keystone XL Pipeline’ from Canada’s tar sands to Texas refineries.

To call this project a horror is serious understatement. The tar sands have wrecked huge parts of Alberta, disrupting ways of life in indigenous communities—First Nations communities in Canada, and tribes along the pipeline route in the U.S. have demanded the destruction cease. The pipeline crosses crucial areas like the Oglalla Aquifer where a spill would be disastrous—and though the pipeline companies insist they are using ‘state of the art’ technologies that should leak only once every 7 years, the precursor pipeline and its pumping stations have leaked a dozen times in the past year. These local impacts alone would be cause enough to block such a plan.

But the Keystone Pipeline would also be a fifteen hundred mile fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the continent, a way to make it easier and faster to trigger the final overheating of our planet, the one place to which we are all indigenous.

How much carbon lies in the recoverable tar sands of Alberta? A recent calculation from some of our foremost scientists puts the figure at about 200 parts per million. Even with the new pipeline they won’t be able to burn that much overnight—but each development like this makes it easier to get more oil out.

As the climatologist Jim Hansen (one of the signatories to this letter) explained, if we have any chance of getting back to a stable climate “the principal requirement is that coal emissions must be phased out by 2030 and unconventional fossil fuels, such as tar sands, must be left in the ground.” In other words, he added, “if the tar sands are thrown into the mix it is essentially game over.”

The Keystone pipeline is an essential part of the game. “Unless we get increased market access, like with Keystone XL, we’re going to be stuck,” said Ralph Glass, an economist and vice-president at AJM Petroleum Consultants in Calgary, told a Canadian newspaper last week.

Given all that, you’d suspect that there’s no way the Obama administration would ever permit this pipeline. But in the last few months the administration has signed pieces of paper opening much of Alaska to oil drilling, and permitting coal-mining on federal land in Wyoming that will produce as much CO2 as 300 power plants operating at full bore.

And Secretary of State Clinton has already said she’s ‘inclined’ to recommend the pipeline go forward. Partly it’s because of the political commotion over high gas prices, though more tar sands oil would do nothing to change that picture.

But it’s also because of intense pressure from industry. The US Chamber of Commerce—a bigger funder of political campaigns than the RNC and DNC combined—has demanded that the administration “move quickly to approve the Keystone XL pipeline,” which is not so surprising—they’ve also told the U.S. EPA that if the planet warms that will be okay because humans can ‘adapt their physiology’ to cope. The Koch Brothers, needless to say, are also backing the plan, and may reap huge profits from it.

So we’re pretty sure that without serious pressure the Keystone Pipeline will get its permit from Washington. A wonderful coalition of environmental groups has built a strong campaign across the continent—from Cree and Dene indigenous leaders to Nebraska farmers, they’ve spoken out strongly against the destruction of their land. We need to join them, and to say even if our own homes won’t be crossed by this pipeline, our joint home—the earth—will be wrecked by the carbon that pours down it.

And we need to say something else, too: it’s time to stop letting corporate power make the most important decisions our planet faces. We don’t have the money to compete with those corporations, but we do have our bodies, and beginning in mid August many of us will use them. We will, each day, march on the White House, risking arrest with our trespass. We will do it in dignified fashion
, demonstrating that in this case we are the conservatives, and that our foes—who would change the composition of the atmosphere are dangerous radicals. Come dressed as if for a business meeting—this is, in fact, serious business.

And another sartorial tip—if you wore an Obama button during the 2008 campaign, why not wear it again? We very much still want to believe in the promise of that young Senator who told us that with his election the ‘rise of the oceans would begin to slow and the planet start to heal.’ We don’t understand what combination of bureaucratic obstinacy and insider dealing has derailed those efforts, but we remember his request that his supporters continue on after the election to pressure his government for change. We’ll do what we can.

And one more thing: we don’t just want college kids to be the participants in this fight. They’ve led the way so far on climate change—10,000 came to DC for the Powershift gathering earlier this spring. They’ve marched this month in West Virginia to protest mountaintop removal; a young man named Tim DeChristopher faces sentencing this summer in Utah for his creative protest.

Now it’s time for people who’ve spent their lives pouring carbon into the atmosphere to step up too, just as many of us did in earlier battles for civil rights or for peace. Most of us signing this letter are veterans of this work, and we think it’s past time for elders to behave like elders. One thing we don’t want is a smash up: if you can’t control your passions, this action is not for you.

This won’t be a one-shot day of action. We plan for it to continue for several weeks, till the administration understands we won’t go away.

Not all of us can actually get arrested—half the signatories to this letter live in Canada, and might well find our entry into the U.S. barred. But we will be making plans for sympathy demonstrations outside Canadian consulates in the U.S., and U.S. consulates in Canada—the decision-makers need to know they’re being watched.

Twenty years of patiently explaining the climate crisis to our leaders hasn’t worked. Maybe moral witness will help. You have to start somewhere, and we choose here and now.

If you think you might want to be a part of this action, we need you to sign up here.

As plans solidify in the next few weeks we’ll be in touch with you to arrange nonviolence training; our colleagues at a variety of environmental and democracy campaigns will be coordinating the actual arrangements.

We know we’re asking a lot. You should think long and hard on it, and pray if you’re the praying type. But to us, it’s as much privilege as burden to get to join this fight in the most serious possible way. We hope you’ll join us.

Maude Barlow – Chair, Council of Canadians

Wendell Berry – Author and Farmer

Tom Goldtooth – Director, Indigenous Environmental Network

Danny Glover – Actor

James Hansen – Climate Scientist

Wes Jackson – Agronomist, President of the Land Insitute

Naomi Klein – Author and Journalist

Bill McKibben – Writer and Environmentalist

George Poitras – Mikisew Cree Indigenous First Nation

Gus Speth – Environmental Lawyer and Activist

David Suzuki – Scientist, Environmentalist and Broadcaster

P.S. Please pass this letter on to anyone else you think might be interested. We realize that what we’re asking isn’t easy, and we’re very grateful that you’re willing even to consider it. See you in Washington!

Bill McKibben

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9. Climate Change is Increasing Injustice and Instability

The Globe’s Not Only Getting Hotter. It’s More Unjust and Unstable, Too

By Michelle Chen, ColorLines
Posted on July 6, 2011, Printed on July 7, 2011


Over the next few decades, tens of millions of people will be driven from their homes. Braving violence and poverty, they’ll roam desperately across continents and borders in search of work and shelter. Unlike other refugees, though, their plight won’t be blamed simply on the familiar horrors of war or persecution; they’ll blame the weather.

If you haven’t heard about the rising tide of environmental migrants, that’s because throngs of displaced black and brown people don’t evoke the same public sympathy as photos of polar bear cubs. The governments of rich industrialized nations will scramble to shut the gates on the desperate hordes with the same self-serving efficiency with which they’ve long ignored the social, ecological and economic consequences of their prosperity. But both efforts at blissful ignorance will fail, because climate change is forcing society to confront the mounting natural and man-made disasters on the horizon.

In 2010, according to the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, “more than 90 percent of all disasters and 65 percent of associated economic damages were weather and climate related (i.e. high winds, flooding, heavy snowfall, heat waves, droughts, wildfires). In all, 874 weather and climate-related disasters resulted in 68,000 deaths and $99 billion in damages worldwide.”

Those numbers look worse on the ground. In rural Bangladesh, where some of South Asia’s major riverways converge, rising waters are threatening to swallow vulnerable coastal communities and leave millions without homes. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the sea level need only rise by a few feet to turn a cultivated area of 1,000 kilometers squared into sopping marsh. The frequency and intensity of floods continues to escalate exponentially, pushing young workers into the cities to earn a living and eroding rural communities and their cultures.

While some places soak, others bake. An ongoing drought crisis in East Africa has created massive hunger and aggravated conflict between groups vying for dwindling resources in an increasingly barren terrain. The United Nations estimated that in 2009, conflicts over cattle grazing and water resources led to several hundred deaths.

It’s hard to pinpoint climate as a decisive factor in this sort of social upheaval, but the evidence grows more pronounced with each violent storm, ruined harvest and tribal clash: the cumulus of natural calamities makes it harder to live and thus harder to coexist with our neighbors.

On “Democracy Now!”, Christian Parenti, author of “Tropic of Chaos,” described how climate-driven warfare brings the environmental toll of imperialism full circle.

From 1945 to 1990 the U.N. said there were 150 or so armed conflicts that killed 20 million people, displaced 15 million, 16 million were wounded. That all happened in the “global south” in this belt of states. And so now that’s where climate change is kicking in and that was also the same terrain where the last 30 years of IMF and World Bank-backed structural adjustment of privatization, deregulation of economies, cutting state support for farmers and fishermen—that program affected those states most intensely.

And now the weather associated with climate change, extreme weather such as the drought, punctuated by flooding in East Africa, is adding to this. And there’s this catastrophic convergence.

Grassroots environmental groups have rallied around the concept of “climate debt” to demand justice for the ecological destruction of the Global South. Still, the immediate humanitarian threats posed by climate change reveal the difficulty of thinking long term in the face of intense scarcity.

Trickle-Down Effect

A warming planet is a thirsty one.

Water is one reason why Southern Sudan’s new independence could just be a temporary respite in a raging struggle for ecological wealth. The world’s youngest nation is at the heart of the Nile River Basin, which supports several economies and ecosystems and fuels toxic tensions among them. Last year, economics professor Paul Sullivan of National Defense University, predicted that without equitable management of precious water, Sudan’s partition would merely pave the way for more turmoil:

Water, land, food, energy and development are tightly and importantly interlinked. Water is also very much linked to the potential for peace in the country. The tensions and potentials for peace in Darfur, between the north and the south—and amongst many other in other regions, including between local tribes and clans—can be, in part, determined, by the availability, quality, sharing, management and maintenance of water sources in the country.

A recent Senate Foreign Relations Committee report offered similar warnings about Afghanistan and Pakistan, where “water scarcity… triggers human insecurity, which can intensify potentially explosive tensions among neighboring countries or regions.” Alarmingly, the report recommended that the U.S. government integrate water management into its occupation of the region, which would expand Washington’s control over civilian resources in an arena of unending conflict. 

And long before popular uprisings in Egypt, analysts were predicting that climate change would feed into geopolitical instability in the Middle East.

Al Jazeera reports that water shortages could tip Yemen’s political turmoil toward full-blown civil war.

Yemen’s capital Sanaa, from where president Ali Saleh left the country after he was injured during protests, could effectively run out of water by 2025, hydrology experts say.

Water shortages could cost the unstable country 750,000 jobs, slashing incomes in the poorest Arab country by as much as 25 per cent over the next decade….

Commentators frequently blame Yemen’s problems on tribal differences, but environmental scarcity may be underpinning secessionist struggles in the country’s south and some general communal violence.

One of the perverse intersections between the water and climate crises is a misguided attempt to solve both through the energy industry.

For instance, while hydroelectricity has been touted as a “clean” power source, activists point out that energy-intensive mega-dam projects may actually ruin ecosystems and belch even more carbon into the atmosphere—and strengthen oppressive regimes as well. The government of Burma has used dam construction as a pretext for driving out indigenous groups and crushing political dissent. The military has repeatedly cracked down on isolated minority villages to clear the way for lucrative dam-building projects, which are typically designed to funnel electricity to energy-hungry consumers in China at the expense of Burma’s poorest communities.

One 85 year-old who fled to Thailand from his homeland in 2008, whose story was recorded by the Shan Sapawa Environment Organization, couldn’t imagine life in exile:

My spirit is here; I am connected to this land…. When the military burned our village and forced us out from our homeland, we still hand the land. If the water floods over, we will have nothing left.”

Frustrated by political gridlock in international negotiations on carbon emissions, the climate justice movement sees the link between climate and conflict as a call for broad-based solutions that blend the environmental with the social. That can start with the political enfranchisement of indigenous groups and securing food and water sovereignty for the poor. From there, the people most impacted by climate change can work toward inclusive development to heal the damage and move toward more sustainable energy.

But environmental migrants have a long way to go before they reach justice. Meanwhile, whether displaced by nature’s wrath or civil war, the new refugees are running out of places to run.

Michelle Chen has written for ColorLines, In These Times, South China Morning Post, Clamor, INTHEFRAY.COM and her own zine, cain.

© 2011 ColorLines All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/151542/

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10. Jerusalem Post Article Extols Vegan Diets

Veganism – doing the right thing

By GLORIA DEUTSCH Jerusalem Post


Far from being limited, a vegan diet can be very varied and quite delicious.

Vegans are people who take vegetarianism a step further. Not only do they eschew all meat, poultry and fish, but they also won’t touch eggs or any kind of dairy produce.

For a carnivorous family like ours, where the favorite get-together of children, grandchildren, nephews and nieces is a barbecue in the back garden with mountains of chicken skewers, hot dogs and hamburgers and a few steaks for the adults, the announcement that one of our number was becoming a vegan was a shock from which we still haven’t quite recovered.

Nowadays if we want to include everyone in a celebration, we go to the vegan restaurant Buddha Burger in Tel Aviv, where they work their magic with seitan and tofu, producing convincing replicas of schnitzel, chicken and goulash without bending their belief in not being the indirect cause of cruelty in any form to animals.

In fact, there are two very good reasons to follow a vegan diet. The first, and the one that changed my son’s life, is because of the suffering of animals in the food industry. While he dislikes dwelling on the horror stories of factory farming and battery hens, he has read and seen enough to know that he can no longer eat any creature that once lived. For David, the transition to vegan has been painless, healthy and very satisfying. For me, his mother, it has been an education, having to learn totally new approaches to food. For a meat and two-veg. family, it has required serious adjustment.



Thanks to JVNA advisor Ari Knoll for forwarding the link to this article to us.

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11. Resource Scarcities Threaten the World’s Future

The World's Political Uprisings Will Change Nothing Until We Embrace the Fact That We're Running Out of Resources

By Jan Lundberg, Culture Change
Posted on May 5, 2011, Printed on May 14, 2011

Popular protest against rulers in many parts of Africa and Asia has spread faster than most anyone would have dared hope. Ferment in other countries may well materialize and mount, including the U.S. However, while the recent uprisings have potential and are well stoked by rampant oppression and greed, we are no longer in a 19th or 20th century set of social or ecological conditions. The attainment of peace and prosperity can no longer be fully addressed with revolutions or social movements. The decades of economic growth from cheap oil -- producing wealth for some, not bringing peace -- cannot be replicated.

The common people have always just wanted peace and prosperity, but are pushed beyond a certain point by relentless opportunists seizing greater power. This results in eventual revolt, but new immutable factors in social change include the deteriorating health of the biosphere, cultural breakdown, and economic collapse.

We must view the aims of today's uprisings for social justice as naive, and the expectations outmoded, if much of the population is not in accord with the direction in which humanity and the Earth are actually going. There can be no consensus if unbridled capitalism or other systems for massive industrial development can hold sway, for they leave behind the majority of people, at best, while mostly preying upon them. Even when people are willing to take action in concert to redistribute the pie, whether by Gandhian mobilization or use of force, this may resonate falsely, for the pie is disintegrating. Its recipe and ingredients are obsolete. And freedom attained in harsh austerity, characterized by intense competition for food, will be doubtful or of little comfort.

In the absence of finding common ground, and having failed to address resource limits, humanity veers ever more sharply towards collapse. The form of collapse can appear to be primarily financial, oil-supply related, or climate disruption, but it will be all three. Continuing to "develop" nature is seldom seen as contributing to collapse, including by countries that were not 20th century powerhouses. Industrial pursuits thus seem perfectly okay, exempting them (in their minds) from greenhouse gas limits and protections of wildlife. There's hypocrisy too, as in Bolivia's pursuit of petroleum production -- justified for Mother Earth because capitalism is claimed to be the "only" cause of climate change.

The common thread in movements for social change today is that they are still anthropocentric. The main delusion is that mass material prosperity can continue or spread despite global oil extraction's having peaked and energy famine just beginning. Another delusion is that the global conflict can be fixed by trying to communicate with corrupt, myopic politicians or by a modern equivalent of storming the Bastille.

A simple way to look at uprisings, strife and activism is in the context of unprecedented population size afflicting the planet with consumption. Wars, terror, privatization, and hostile politics dividing people, are prevalent. Strife can be traced to overcrowding; with significantly fewer people there is plenty of room for people to enjoy peace and nature's bounty. Shortages then don't exist, and people live in balance with nature and her carrying capacity.

The rebellious Egyptians, for example, were getting hungrier early this year as oil prices pushed up the cost of food. Unfortunately, the people could not and cannot be lifted out of their misery with more oil because the cheap stuff is well depleted. Mubarek and Tahrir Square were just logical focal points, albeit outrageously corrupt and infuriating. Most demonstrators -- poor and desperate for the most part -- would not believe that neither the dictator's wealth redistributed nor U.S. influence terminated can fix much. Perhaps Egyptians feel they cannot cope with the huge, underlying issues of overpopulation and ecological degradation. Cairo's population is put as high as 18 million. The population of Egypt doubled since the Second Oil Shock of 1979. Those who understand petroleum and energy know that renewable and alternative energy cannot float today's petro-fed population.

It doesn't appear that even intellectual giants such as Noam Chomsky are looking beyond the present culture and its inability to produce an alternative to familiar power structures. When his position is, "Only a Massive Uprising Will Change Our Politics" he's putting the cart before the horse: collapse and deprivation will change (end) our politics and economy, and the uprising will be a reaction against (and adding to) society's failure and disorder. But neither upheaval nor uprising can create more oil and material prosperity; rather, the reaction will redistribute the depleted natural wealth, and poorly. Eventually, when the system is completely undermined and shopping is finally passé, an equitable and sustainable culture must form. It would helpful if progressive activists and writers could focus more on the real prize.

Activism in many forms has been good for keeping a rebellious spirit alive and for pointing the masses toward independent thinking and action. But the limited critique of most of today's activists and commentators fails us at this time of both apocalyptic breakdown and opportunity for a positive vision. It's difficult to admit that no matter what anyone does to help the situation now, these are dire times, and things will get worse before they get better.

Historical perspective for the US movement

The U.S. probably has the most out-to-lunch population on the planet. Provincialism and ignorance have encouraged embracing the consumer lifestyle on a small planet. The skills and family cohesion of our great grandparents are fading from our knowledge base, as we trust digital media for individual consumption and superficial knowledge. We have obtained techno-toy glamour, but group and personal mediocrity spreads deeply as something laudable and modern. Few seem aware of the consequences: conformity, passivity and ultimate failure on many levels. Meanwhile, the population's underlying violent streak -- with the highest per capita gun ownership world wide at almost 90 guns per 100 residents -- buttresses little more than a false sense of individualistic security. This only contributes to the average community's steady loss of cohesion and compassion. The average person is not so blameworthy when overworked and overcharged for life's necessities. This reinforces the tendency to become more downtrodden, brainwashed and in poor health.

Foreclosures and rent hikes by the very rich turn people out onto the streets, as food and oil costs rise. But news sources and common discourse dwell mostly on infotainment or superficial observations on key events. People also need to start talking among themselves seriously about rampant pharmaceuticals addiction and environmental contaminants -- all-too-familiar threats going unchecked. Despite today's unprecedented disparity in wealth, the super rich don't seem to fear a French Revolution-style backlash. Most of us want no such bloodshed, but when a system in denial finally self-destructs it will take down many from all walks of life -- especially the most petroleum-dependent among us who may not own their own oil refinery (with uninterrupted crude supply and product-distribution -- fat chance).

Assuming there will be a gradual dwindling of oil is as commonplace as the fear that there will always be extreme social stratification even in a post-petrocollapse, climate altered world. Both assumptions are wrong, and seem to go together. A common, erroneous prediction is that "The Corporate State Will Continue its Inexorable Advance Until We're Locked into a Permanent Underclass" as Chris Hedges wrote. He claims, "They will continue to exploit the nation, the global economy and the ecosystem. And they will use their money to hide in gated compounds when it all implodes." But how long will the food and water last in the compounds without free interaction with the land where others also dwell?

The idea of "losing our democracy" and wondering, "where did we go wrong" are time-wasting notions, considering that Western Civilization was founded on amassing for the few the unlimited spoils of wealth obtained by disregarding other peoples and species. Hedges, a scholarly moralist whom I have had the pleasure to meet, supports his "lost democracy" idea by quoting Sheldon Wolin who wrote that today's form of imperialism just grew, instead of being planned as the Nazis' was. The naivete of this view is clear when the culture of materialism and greed is known to have already been at play when even the nicest of the British colonialists invaded North America. Today, the idea of righting the wrong of the corporatization of America as a single problem, or the idea of any similar movement or revolt, is bound to fail or fall moot at this stage of the game. Attacking the top of the foundation of a rotten pyramid does little good.

The 1960s' idealistic youth had a yearning to remake the world. As Graham Nash sang in his song "Chicago" in 1971: "We can change the world / Rearrange the world / It's dying." The song was in support of the protests at the Chicago Democratic Party Convention of 1968. There was revolution in the air, and liberation movements were forming out of the civil rights campaigns that had begun in the 1950s. But the Sixties Movement failed, giving way in the 1970s to the Me Generation. The Movement (as it was called) was derailed in part through assassinations, and hobbled by other subversion campaigns by corporations and government. This period was a critical juncture for U.S. culture and civilization: resource limits were suddenly clear, but the Population Bomb was never defused.

To focus on the present we mustn't endlessly debate the '60s or '70s. But we must distinguish between a time when reform and remaking society may have been possible, in contrast to 2011 when we have lost the chance to challenge the power structure and build anew within an intact infrastructure. This is because humanity has gone down the path of economic growth and ecological destruction so far that social movements now have a backseat role compared to decades ago.

Peak oil, massive population increase, climate change, and out-of-control nuclear radiation releases have taken over. These dilemmas can be possibly addressed with policy, but not "solved." Hindering us unnecessarily is that the "powers that be" demand the status quo in order to pad their portfolios, although some say the real agenda is to control the population toward "demand destruction." The top owners of the material world seem thus far unafraid of a mass backlash, in part because most everyone continues to drink the same Kool Aid of technological progress and the unstoppable march of civilization. But a few critiques of the system's faulty, common assumptions appear here and there; we are nibbling at the edges so as to call attention to a radically different vision for post-industrial humanity.

Opinion pieces and other expressions of political feeling about our current challenges have proliferated since long before the current post-Bush state of affairs. Going back to the Clinton administration, we saw the corporate state's intent to exploit the Earth to the maximum for "free trade" and "democracy." We realized that much activism was mere "stamping out brush fires" -- endlessly reacting, often ineffectively. Nothing has changed, except the excesses of the Bush II Neocons -- supposedly gone when Obama was installed -- served to push people off balance and make them settle for "Hope" via continued piecemeal critiques of policy.

Massive demonstrations have not materialized to end wars and disgorge from Wall Street the spoils of casino capitalism. In the absence of such popular mobilization, we activists and vocal members of the intelligentsia have naturally joined campaigns to try to push society in a more reasonable direction. Some have attained mild success, without changing society's overall direction of self-destruction and ecological catastrophe.

These benign strategies are not gaining much ground, regardless of other methods of expression and tactics that some say should be tried. There is no organized militant opposition, despite the dreams of a few advocates of violence (against people in power or their armed servants). Anger over species extinction, poisoning of our water, medical costs and other aspects of the overall global crisis seems to come down to blaming certain people rather than modern humanity's mistake of Western Civilization. For example, in an essay Alyssa Battistoni asks, "The Public Overwhelmingly Wants It: Why Is Taxing the Rich So Hard?" This sentiment is off the mark, as happens when social-justice urges lack realism or even mention of larger forces. Additionally, the need for deep cultural change is almost never voiced.

In another article Zaid Jilani wrote, "More GOPers Feeling Town Hall Heat: Attendees Tell Rep. Ending Medicare Is ‘Unconscionable,’ Demand ‘Tax The Rich!’" I sadly have to ask: Are we asking the rich to tax themselves? The government and the rich are one and the same, for the rich control the government. Tax the rich? That's like suggesting to an executioner that he shoot himself, and asking people to join in a chant for it.

One might ask me what the answer is, since I differ with the approaches rooted in the prior century's leftism. In general, I advocate the love tribe. You can make of it what you want, but it is timeless: embracing egalitarianism and harmony rather than competition or keeping up with the Joneses. This elusive sounding Utopia is none other than our evolution. The question on everyone's lips should now be "Where must we go?" We cannot easily go back, and few desire to do so. But discussing our plight and opportunity can let us work things out -- as long as we don't think we can have our cake and eat it too, for planetary changes have been unleashed that compromise our very survival.

Let us venture an idea of what the answer is not. Let's say there's an uprising such as a general strike in the U.S., and the stressed out population manages to avoid major bloodshed. And the power structure gives way to sincere, kinder people such as a provisional government led by Dennis Kucinich, Cindy Sheehan and Julia Butterfly.

Their lifestyles are known to be conscious and uplifting. But even among the progressive population, deep cultural change is almost never advocated or put into practice. How we live and what we value does not stop at what kind of greener machines we buy or if we bicycle to a Saturday farmers market with reusable bags. The sustainability movement (e.g., Transition Towns) is more than scratching the surface, but urgently needs intensive public involvement.

The reality is that even the best, most accountable leadership cannot usher us out of collapse and the coming deprivation that our material waste has caused. One way to understand it is to grasp that the abundant cheap oil -- energy and materials -- is gone forever. The accelerating and wrenching change in society will be much more than shifting from cars to bikes; government services cut for the poor and other fiscal reprioritization; enacting humane policies such as ending (unaffordable) wars, and; encouraging community involvement in economic decisions.

The entire culture will have to change rapidly for us to sort out what doesn't work, as we ultimately find the mix of traditions and innovations for survival in a time of violent ecological instability.

Social justice activists and even full-time environmentalists often harbor simplistic expectations, as, like most of us, they are clouded and confused by cultural myths. The accomplishments of industry and science that have eased some physical work or dazzled the senses still give rise to a knee-jerk approval of huge, centralized and questionable energy systems, for example. Author Keith Farnish recently pointed out on the Global Warming Crisis Council listserve that a few prominent environmentalists are "going nuclear because they can't -- very sensibly -- see a way of powering industrial civilization through renewables, and fossil fuels are running out soon. The line [that these environmentalists] won't cross is towards an alternative to industrial civilization. That's the argument people like us have to be pushing forcibly and without giving way. There is no way to fuel civilization without mass species extinction and climate breakdown..."

Rejecting the system

We all need to recognize the imbalance between social movements (or their intentions) and the overwhelming realities of petrocollapse and nature's batting last. When many of us are unable to consider these realities, a better future for us all is unimagined or even precluded.

There's little point in progressives' persisting in the dominant critique by clamoring for reforms or implying there is an easy way out of the perceived crisis and collapse. More sensible is a rejection of the system -- Western Civilization -- whereby we create the alternative with local community and a rebirth of solidarity. So far, this isn't getting through to many progressives or those who could formerly be considered radicals. Perhaps out of timidity or sense of privilege they bypass discussing the magnitude of change humanity is undergoing. Until the total collapse, we will still see commentators ignoring the larger forces of change, calling for reforms and the fixing of an unfixable system or at best a changing of the guard. The dominant critique is a distraction, as it keeps pointing to the bad guy du jour and yet another shameful policy to try to reverse.

The alternative to the faltering "$ociety," the love tribe, has been practiced long before the hippies began the Back to the Land movement at People's Park, Berkeley, in 1969. Today, some of us still live so as to constructively undermine the dominant system, living outside it as much as possible. We thereby hasten -- at least by example -- the end of the corporate economy and the U.S. as we know it. We are messengers and preservers of viable natural systems. We stand for nonviolence, and thus support a truly sustainable culture. Perhaps at best we are showing the way modestly and minimally, through a tough transformation beyond the settling of the dust.

Jan Lundberg is founder of Culture Change and was an oil industry analyst at Lundberg Survey before joining the grassroots environmental movement in 1988.

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12. Animals Voice Magazine Summer Issue Now Available

© 2011 Culture Change All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/150845/

Dear Animals Voice Supporter,

The Summer 2011 issue of The Animals Voice Magazine is now available. You may order your copy from the link below:


This special double issue focuses on the global transportation of animals raised and slaughtered for food. It also features articles about the Faroe Island pilot whale slaughter, wild boar hunting and baiting, the history of the animal rights movement, and horse slaughter. Specifics are the live export trade of sheep from Australia to the Middle East, the live export of cattle to Indonesia, American cattle drives, state hunting legislation, branding, battery hen welfare, worldwide calendar of events, hog/dog fighting, pig factories and slaughter, and a lot more. 62 pages. Perfect-bound.

[This issue is a special issue because it has nearly twice the number of pages of our regular issues (and the cost, unfortunately, will be higher); due to our editor's recent illness, we had to merge our May/June issue with our July/August issue. Thank you for your patience.

Please consider giving a copy of the magazine to your friends, family, co-workers, clergy, legislators, veterinarian, and others. The magazine's pictures and presentations are geared toward the newcomer as much as they are for the veteran activist.

To help Laura Moretti (the magazine's founder and editor) keep the magazine moving forward, as well as help her keep The Animals Voice web site online and growing, please consider giving The Animals Voice a tax-deductible donation, even a small one. You can use the link below:


Thank you so much for your support — then, now, and in the future!

The Animals Voice

P.S. Laura thanks all and everyone who sent her well wishes and support during her battle with 'thyroid storm.' Though it's a slow recovery, she IS on the mend!

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13. Campaign to Educate People on Climate Realities Initiated

Forwarded message:

Dear Richard,

On September 14, Reality needs you. 

Every day, millions of dollars are spent trying to convince you that climate change isn't real. Or that humans don't cause it. Or that the biggest polluters are trying to solve the problem.

But climate change is a reality. And big polluters -- drawing from the playbook used by the big tobacco companies years ago -- are trying to fool citizens and consumers around the globe by denying proven science. So how can we get the world to embrace reality? How can we share the truth about the climate crisis? 

Meet The Climate Reality Project. On September 14, in a 24-hour event spanning the globe, we're introducing a brand-new organization with one clear goal: to bring the facts about the climate crisis into the mainstream by engaging everyone -- especially leaders like you -- in a conversation about how to solve it But enough talk for now. Former Vice President Al Gore helped create this video to explain where we are going. Watch it:


Leading up to September 14, we will need our most ardent supporters with us to help promote the event and start the conversation. That means we need you.
We're building this new project on the foundation of the remarkable work we've done together as the Alliance for Climate Protection. We are joining together with The Climate Project -- a group of volunteer climate Presenters trained by Al Gore. So when you hear from us moving forward, it will be as The Climate Reality Project.

Thank you for your continued support.

To get started, watch the video:



Maggie L. Fox
President and CEO
The Climate Reality Project

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