Listening to Life Before It’s Too Late

An interview with Ellen LaConte

People of conscience face two crucial challenges today: (1) telling the truth about the dire state of the ecosphere that makes our lives possible, no matter how grim that reality, and (2) remaining committed to collective action to create a more just and sustainable world, no matter how daunting that task. It’s not an easy balancing act, as we struggle to understand the scope of the crisis without giving into a sense of hopelessness.

Ellen LaConte’s new book, Life Rules, is a welcome addition to the growing literature on these crises. The subtitle — Why so much is going wrong everywhere at once and how Life teaches us to fix it — captures the spirit of the book. LaConte offers an unflinching assessment of the problems and an honest path to sensible action. In an interview, I asked her to elaborate on her background and path to the insights of the book.

Robert Jensen: For me, your book came out of nowhere. I had never read an article by you or heard your name. So, as I read Life Rules and was so impressed with the breadth and depth of your analysis, I found myself wondering, “Who is she and where does she come from?”

Ellen LaConte: The short answer is that I’ve worked for almost 40 years as an old-school print writer and editor, mostly for small magazines, about organic gardening and farming, appropriate technologies, organizational communications, homesteading, history, education, alternative economics, evolution, democracy theory and practice, complex systems. I’m a generalist and seem instinctively to synthesize and simplify big ideas like those in Life Rules.

I like living a small-scale, small-pond, hands-on, quiet life. I had a paternal grandmother who lived on the remains of what had been a family farm in Pennsylvania Dutch country outside Lancaster and maternal grandparents who had a half-acre or so in north Baltimore that was dominated by my grandfather’s vegetable and fruit gardens. I adored hanging out with him while he made compost, taught me about worms and ants and the living soil, talked to me non-stop about what he was doing and why. He was one of J.I. Rodale’s first fanatics. I also grew up surrounded with books and magazines, was bookish pretty much from the start. I learned to love hand tools — my grandfather had a workshop full of them — and what was called “handiwork.”

My childhood was a perfect set up for the homesteading/owner-built/simplicity/self-reliance movement that in the 1970s — when I was in my 20s — seemed to me the most appropriate response to present and promised oil shortages, and a saner and more spiritually sound and grounded response to future shock than the globalized hi-tech, expansive, consumptive, grab-and-get one that also was popular in the ‘70s. It also suited my somewhat reclusive, contemplative nature.

Though my childhood was churched, Protestant, I didn’t really enter onto any kind of serious spiritual study or path until I was in my late 30s. I suppose I’d call myself a Tao, Zen and Sufi influenced Christian with decided mystical leanings. I somehow missed the 1960s, both the protest and the flower-power/drugs/sex/rock-and-roll parts. I don’t like crowds, noise, confrontation or argument. I lack both irony and edge, or maybe what’s called “edginess.” It’s my nature to want to fix things, smooth them over when possible, broker agreement or simply yield.

RJ: You say you don’t like confrontation or argument, but your book is a radical analysis, and you obviously realize that many — maybe most — people will argue with its thesis.

EL: I prefer writing about my convictions and worldview rather than explaining or arguing about them in real time. I don’t have a podium-proselytizing personality. Argument, even the constructive kind, is often reactive and impulsive. I’m emotionally impulsive enough by nature that I’ve learned — or tried to learn — that one ought to rein in one’s impulses and emotions about things as important as convictions.

The cartoon character Linus from “Peanuts” said, “I love mankind, it’s people I can’t stand.” I’m the flip side: I love people, it’s humanity I have a hard time with. I’ve always preferred and been fortunate to be able to work alone or with or for just one or two people. This, and my general disinterest in, and ignorance about, politics, seem contradictory for someone writing about community and democracy and promoting a deep Green movement. But it’s why I’ve been able to write about those things.

RJ: It does appear to be a contradiction. I assume you are suggesting that there are many different ways to contribute to making a better world.

EL: I spoke recently to a college Philosophical Society about the book. I told them that it seemed to me that to love wisdom, to be philosophical in the truest sense, meant to be to some degree detached from day-to-day events, from immediate things. Not to be disinterested or unaffected, but less buffeted or influenced and consumed by them. One of the reasons I could synthesize so much of what’s going wrong in the world now is that I’ve had time, as well as the calling and inclination, for it. I could stand back, meditate, read, engage in independent research, wait for understanding to come, question conventional assumptions, including my own, and look almost leisurely for the largest context in which we humans live our lives, which would be the context that should guide how we live our lives and deal with the Critical Mass of crises we presently face. Given how caught up I get in other people’s lives, if I’d been busy organizing, protesting, working full tilt and full time, trying to respond to the needs and input of multiple colleagues, I’d have had less mental space and stamina to do that. I’d never arrived at the simple but elemental understanding that Life rules, we don’t.

RJ: Please explain that title. Do you mean that Life — something bigger than us — rules? Or that we need to follow Life’s rules?

EL: Yes, both. The largest context — the largest high-functioning complex system within which we live our lives — is not the nation, nation-state system or global economic system but Life itself, the whole-earth, emergent and self-maintaining system of natural communities and ecosystems. That system, the ecosphere, teaches us the physical laws, the relationships and behaviors discovered in physics, biology and ecology and exemplified by the so-called “mystical” spiritual teachers, that we have to obey if we want to remain viable as a species. We aren’t the ultimate authority, and none of the systems we’ve created possess ultimate authority. It’s Life that has created the physical conditions that make it possible for us to exist. We depend on Life for our lives. More specifically, we depend on Life as we know it for our lives, for the climate, resources, natural communities, and ecosystems that provide us with what we need to live.

Life has encoded in every other-than-human species a sort of protocol or blueprint of economic rules for survival, a set of behaviors and relationships that allow Life as we know it to live within earth’s means, to be long-term sustainable. In the physical/material realm on this planet, Life calls the shots. Life rules, we don’t. Other species have no choice but to obey those economic rules. We alone have a choice. And lately, as a species living under the influence of a global economy that has, in the vernacular, gone viral, we’ve chosen pridefully and foolishly to break all the rules. The way we live in the present Global Economic Order — capital G, capital E, capital O — isn’t sustainable. It’s pathological. It works at cross purposes to everything small g, e and o — “geo,” everything earthy. In particular, the GEO works at cross purposes to Life.

RJ: That sounds simple, almost simplistic, pointing out that humans live within an ecosphere that is governed by physical laws and not limitless. But all around us in the First World is evidence of a society out of balance, apparently seized with the belief that we can defy ecological limits indefinitely.

EL: If you condense the 100,000 years or so that Homo sapiens sapiens, humans like us, have been around into the 24 hours of one day, the Global Economic Order has been in existence for less than a minute. We can live without a GEO, but we can’t live without, or apart from, Life as we know it. So we have two choices: We can forego our present economic model and choose to learn and obey Life’s economic rules. Or we can choose not to. In which case Life will rule us out, adapt to our trespasses like an apple tree adapting to a lightening strike, and get on with its experiment in creating and sustaining more life just fine without us. Life rules, we don’t.

RJ: You suggest that because of the way the GEO works, we are close to a Critical Mass. What do you mean by that term?

EL: There’s actually a pretty good explanation for the now almost total disconnect between our perception of reality and our actual reality, between our sense as a species of being larger than Life and the inarguable fact that we are dependent on it for our very existence. Actually there are a couple of explanations.

One is money. Since we use money — or its funny-money kin, such as credit and its ever-funnier-money kin like default swaps — to acquire the things we need and want, we don’t provide those things for ourselves, we’ve lost track of where the things we need and want actually come from. We have little or no knowledge of the sources of our provisions or the damage done to living systems by the way we acquire them and the amounts of them we acquire. We’ve put our faith in the economy’s ability to deliver what we need to us, so long as we have enough money. Money has come between us and substantial things — the real goods, resources and ecosystem services that we actually need to live. Money has kept us from seeing the truth of our circumstances, which is that soon there will be insufficient fossil fuels, plastics, clean fresh water, forests, living soil, grains, seafood, congenial and predictable climate, functioning governments. You name it, we’ll run short of it ad infinitum.

Another explanation for our ignorance of the reality of our present circumstances is that most people have never heard of or taken seriously the limiting factor on a finite planet called “carrying capacity” — the number of a species or a collection of species that an ecosystem can support long-term without suffering damage in excess of what the ecosystem itself can repair. In accounting, exceeding carrying capacity is called going bankrupt. That’s where we’re headed environmentally as well as financially right now. But most of us don’t realize that’s where we are yet because in those previous 23 hours and 59 minutes of human history we’ve either had more places — more “New Worlds” to move to, conquer and plunder — or new technologies that would do a better job of plundering the places we were in to provide for us.

We have just recently — in, say, the last 30 seconds of that last most recent minute of human history — hit that point in our global economic assault on living things and living systems both human and natural, that there’s no going back. We have just hit what I call Critical Mass, which is the name I’ve given what others are calling collapse, the tipping point, the long emergency, or bottleneck. It’s my name for our previously latent and slowly unfolding, now rapidly worsening planetary equivalent of HIV/AIDS.

RJ: That analogy to HIV/AIDS runs throughout the book, which may strike some as an odd comparison. Can you explain that?

EL: Critical Mass names a syndrome of converging, mutually-reinforcing environmental, economic, political and social crises that we think about and try to address as if they were separate and unrelated, but they are not. They are symptoms of one disease, a viral, a pathological global economy that is undermining the ability of human and natural communities — Earth’s equivalent of an immune system — to provide for, protect, defend and heal themselves the same way HIV undermines the ability of our immune systems to protect and heal us. There are two pages in the book that compare HIV and the GEO, characteristic for characteristic, and the similarities are startling and frightening. I think we are presently at the HIV stage of the disease; it hasn’t quite yet become full-blown planetary AIDS. But I insist in the book that doing more of what we’ve been doing to exceed Earth’s physical means as well as our own fiscal ones — in other words, trying to heal and grow the very kind and scope of economy that caused this disease — is akin to injecting a patient who already has HIV with more HIV. That’s precisely what we’re doing.

RJ: From the diagnosis, I want to go back to the treatment plan, and your assessment of where the solutions to Critical Mass might be worked out.

EL: Since all economies depend on earth and Life as we know it consistently and continuously delivering the goods — resources, ecosystem services like living soils, pollination, marine fisheries, oxygen, carbon sequestration, air filtration, sufficient clean fresh water, a habitable, predictable climate — then it seems to me the treatment plan has to be one that doesn’t exceed earth’s means of supporting us, doesn’t run against Life’s grain, and doesn’t compromise the health of the living systems. And the only examples of how to do that come from Life itself. I argue in the book — with support from geneticists, microbiologists, evolutionary theorists, and paleobiologists — that the oldest and first living things, single-celled entities like bacteria, spent the first 2 billion years learning how to provide for themselves in ways that would be sustainable over the long term. When they did learn it — after nearly putting themselves and the Life experiment on Earth out of business — Life locked in, genetically encoded, what they’d learned.

Simply put, after going global and inducing the equivalent of our present Critical Mass three times, bacteria adopted a sort of Ten Commandments of Sustainability that can be synthesized for our purposes as five new behaviors. They went 5D: they downsized, diversified, decarbonized, dematerialized and, most importantly, they organized themselves in ways that are profoundly democratic. Over the past 2 billion years, other-than-human living things have mastered the arts of solar energetics, recycling, sharing and interdependence, self-regulation, self-limitation, restrained competition, cooperation and collaboration, grassroots organization, self-governance, ecosystem management and — this is profoundly important for us — community building. Life is a cross-species, communitarian phenomenon. Their organically democratic eco-economies are local and regional, place-based, functionally self-reliant, interdependent, mutually supportive, regenerative, restorative and resilient.

The salient point is that Life and only Life can teach us how to live eco-logically, within Earth’s means. If we learn what Life teaches us and create lifeways that mimic Life’s ways, we can survive this round of Critical Mass we’ve induced and manage to avoid inducing it again. Janine Benyus wrote a book called Biomimicry that reported on and inspired a movement to copy, for example, the ways other species and living systems produce what they need sustainably. You could call what I’m suggesting in Life Rules radical or full-bore biomimicry.

RJ: Given how detached most of the contemporary world is from understanding, let alone mimicking, the natural world, is this realistic?

EL: Adopting Life’s rules will require, of course, a huge transformation of the ways we think about our place in the community of living things and the ways we live. My book offers three chapters of examples of what we can do and some communities are already doing, if in a very preliminary way. We’ll need to revise what education is for, what needs to get taught and where, when and how learning needs to occur. I would suggest again that Life is the primary teacher, its economic, production, consumption, relational and organizational rules the curriculum. The particular ecosystems — the geographic places — we live in and are presently destroying are the classrooms. And as Post-Carbon Institute Senior Fellow Richard Heinberg proposed in Powerdown, the most important and hardest lesson we will need to learn as a species is self-limitation. Where material consumption is concerned, “less is best” will absolutely have to replace “wars for more” as our collective ethical prime directive.

The good news is, if we take our cues from Life, if we decide to transform our ways of living and providing for ourselves, we don’t need governments as we know them or any sort of global agreement or institutions to begin and to succeed. Sustainability is by nature a grassroots undertaking. Both the learning and the mimicking can, and must, be engaged in particular places with the natural and human communities that live in those places. Life’s a collection of local phenomena, a community of communities, as John Cobb and Herman Daly propose in their books, for example, For the Common Good. If we need a goad to transformation, there’s this one: If we don’t choose to transform ourselves and our lifeways, Life will force us to. Life rules, we don’t, and Life will not hesitate to rule harshly and even rule us out.

RJ: Does that mean we have ugly times ahead of us?

EL: While there’s no reason to believe we will engage in this transformation willingly or that there will not be violence on the way to Life-likeness, a lot of communities around the country and in other countries have already begun to explore and experiment with aspects of Life’s Protocol for Economic Survival, though they don’t have my name for it yet. The relocalization, Transition Town, post-carbon,, local currency, slow food, ecozoic and new economics movements, for example, all teach and apply one or more of Life’s lessons. Paul Hawken’s team at the WiserEarth website is creating a data base of information about organizations involved in movements like these. They’ve accounted for around 125,000 and think there may be twice that many. Hawken suggests we think of these organizations and their members as anti-bodies helping healing the planet’s immune system of this AIDS-like, economically induced disease I call Critical Mass. These organizations and movements represent a starting point.

But a viable treatment plan for this virulent, life-threatening, economically-induced syndrome of crises cannot engage in just one or two or even three of the 5Ds, and cannot engage in them scattershot or only to a degree that doesn’t upset business as usual. Eco-logic requires that we incorporate, integrate, and practice all of Life’s rules, that we stop behaving as if we were larger than, or apart, from Life and become constructive participants in it.

RJ: It seems clear that the kind of change you describe as necessary is not possible within capitalism and that capitalism is a serious impediment to such change. Earlier you said we have to “forego our present economic model,” but not all the movements and experiments you mention are anti-capitalist. How do you negotiate that?

EL: I kept religion, politics, parties, personalities and “ism” analysis pretty much out of the book in order not to allow any of those divisive topics to set up straw figures and distract readers from the central point: By present economic methods and models, we are living beyond earth’s means. I suggest in the book that unregulated, growth-dependent capitalism only appears to succeed because it has been enabled by the mechanisms of globalism to have the whole earth at its disposal and by the machinations of the Powers to make grab-and-get/pillage-and-plunder its operating principles. Once it has been globalized, the one thing a capitalist economy can’t be is not-global. And as a globalized phenomenon, it cannot help but exceed earth’s means of supporting it. It is the globalization of the capitalist — and, I would add, colonialist — industrial economy that is doing-in Life as we know it. And as I also suggest in the book, the system is too big not to fail since the resource base — or, to retrieve my HIV/AIDS analogy, the host planet — it depends on is finite. When AIDS sufficiently ravages a human patient’s body, the virus dies along with the patient. Consequently, along with ecosystems, species, human and natural communities, human lives, quality of life, and Life as we know it — the global capitalist economy itself is in its terminal stages.

Taking on capitalism head on would have gotten up the backs of too many potential readers. And while they might waste time arguing the merits of capitalism or arguing the possibility of no-growth capitalism, they cannot successfully argue the merits of a globalized economic system of any kind. Globalized bartering or socialism or communism would equally challenge the earth’s human and natural communities and the biosphere’s functioning. Kirkpatrick Sale and E.F. Schumacher had it right: Scale matters and where sustainability is an issue, which in the matter of human survival it is, small is not only beautiful but self-limiting, survivable, and sustainable.

So, no, not all the movements and examples I mention in the book are anti-capitalist. The measure of an experiment’s success is not that it is anti-capitalist but that it works in harmony with living systems, and in the ways that living systems work. An experiment need not be in and of itself the cure for Critical Mass but is exemplary of one or more elements of Life’s Economic Protocol for Survival, which, as I’ve said, would lead us to integrate and obey all of Life’s rules. Doing that would automatically move us away from capitalism as we know it and probably from any conceivable model of capital as an economic end-all and be-all. Provisions themselves are what we need to live, not the funny-money with which we presently purchase them if we are lucky enough to have any.

RJ: Perhaps that is the bottom line: What we need to live. Perhaps that’s an appropriate last question. What do you, Ellen LaConte, need to live?

EL:  Much less than I presently have and very much less than is currently available to me if I were willing to use credit to acquire it. Like everyone else, I need food, clean air and water, clothing, some sort of shelter, preferably warm in winter, occasional medicine or medical care, spiritual and physical exercise, colleagues, friends, family, if possible books, lots of quiet, a garden to work in, woods and wild not too far off. To love and be loved. To carry no debt. To believe there is some sort of livable, desirable future for the next seven generations. I’ve been fortunate never to lack for these.

To be happy, I need good work to do, work that I feel is, in my late mentor Helen Nearing’s terms, “contributory.” (See a review of LaConte’s book about Nearing, On Light Alone).

I have, in addition, most of what most middle and upper-middle class Americans have. My partner and I have a house that in absolute terms is bigger and less efficient than I’d like, a car, the usual appliances (though we are not appliance or gadget sophisticates), a computer, a television, arts and entertainment if I choose to access them, electricity, running water, public services (for the time being), air-conditioning, various kinds of insurance, every kind of retail outlet you can think of within five miles or so, most of which I never patronize. I do not need these things, but I have them. Or, more accurately, they and the economic system of which they are the accoutrements have me.

Thus, I need periodically to contemplate what I have that I don’t need, what harm having it causes and whether I’m willing to discomfort myself and my partner enough to un-have it, or at least some of it.

Robert Jensen is an Emeritus Professor in the School of Journalism and Media at the University of Texas at Austin and collaborates with the New Perennials Project at Middlebury College. He is the author of It’s Debatable: Talking Authentically about Tricky Topics, coming this spring from Olive Branch Press. This essay is adapted from his book An Inconvenient Apocalypse: Environmental Collapse, Climate Crisis, and the Fate of Humanity, co-authored with Wes Jackson. Follow him on Twitter: @jensenrobertw. Read other articles by Robert.

23 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Don Hawkins said on March 9th, 2011 at 12:39pm #

    Ellen and Robert I thought I would send this comment quick before the power goes out as I live in the Southeast and the weather not climate is putting on a little show. From the looks of it all the way up to the Northeast a little precipitation to say the least.

    that the oldest and first living things, single-celled entities like bacteria, spent the first 2 billion years learning how to provide for themselves in ways that would be sustainable over the long term. When they did learn it — after nearly putting themselves and the Life experiment on Earth out of business — Life locked in, genetically encoded, what they’d learned.

    It appears this isn’t our first rodeo;

    What is hard like a rock, is alive, and is among the oldest life forms on earth? A reasonable guess might be hard coral, but coral has only been in existence a mere 542 million years, or since the Cambrian Period. The answer is stromatolites, hard, rock-like structures that exist in places few forms of life can tolerate and that have been in existence for some 3.5 billion years! seapics

    Good stuff I saved GEO and Critical Mass in my home computer.

  2. Don Hawkins said on March 10th, 2011 at 3:26pm #

    In the United States the Northeast the next few day’s will be tuff flooding. Have those two words come up on any of the media climate change or changing weather patterns or hay what about that moisture content in the atmosphere. That’s control.

  3. Don Hawkins said on March 12th, 2011 at 3:07am #

    Reuters – Radiation was leaking from an unstable nuclear reactor north of Tokyo on Saturday, the Japanese government said, after an explosion blew the roof off the facility following a massive earthquake.

    Unstable, Critical Mass is the wedding still on and after a few decide what to wear for the day maybe a round of golf heck a speech with follow us on the yellow brick road as we are off to see the Wizard and remember many things you see are just your eye’s playing tricks on you all part of the show. That balloon, off limit’s no trespassing that’s the Wizard’s balloon made at a little known company called Murdoch Industries well the Business Round Table and what a table it is.

  4. Don Hawkins said on March 12th, 2011 at 4:14pm #

    Plutonium 239, less than one-millionth of a gram of which will cause lung cancer if inhaled. Strontium 90, a calcium analogue that can lead to bone cancer and leukemia. Cesium 137, which tends to concentrate in muscle cells, leading to malignant muscle cancer. Iodine 131, which can cause thyroid cancer.

    plutonium 239 is dangerous for a quarter-million years, or 12,000 human generations. The half-life of strontium 90 is 28 years; of cesium 137, about 30 years; and iodine 131, eight days. roanoke times

    Ira Helfand, member of Physicians for Social Responsibility writes that, “After one year of operation, a commercial nuclear reactor contains 1000 times as much radioactivity as was released by the Hiroshima bomb. From a public health perspective, the most important isotopes are short-lived isotopes of iodine (like Iodine-131), Cesium-137, Strontium-90, and possibly Plutonium-239. Radioactive iodine caused thousands of cases of thyroid cancer in children after the Chernobyl accident. Forbes

    Critical Mass in the the present Global Economic Order — capital G, capital E, capital O — isn’t sustainable. It’s pathological. It works at cross purposes to everything small g, e and o — “geo,” everything earthy. In particular, the GEO works at cross purposes to Life. Ellen

    Reason, focus, work together, known knowledge not illusion could be helpful. Wheel of fortune just came on got to go, give me a G ok like to buy a vowel an E like to buy anther vowel an O. Like to solve the puzzle, Global Economic Order. That’s correct and you just won a trip to Disneyland for two and a set of new golf club’s and this “NEW CAR”. Have fun and your total winnings is one planet third one from the Sun.

  5. Don Hawkins said on March 13th, 2011 at 1:01pm #

    Monitoring of Fukushima Daiichi 1 had previously shown an increase in radiation levels detected near to the unit emerging via routes such as the exhaust stack and the discharge canal. These included caesium-137 and iodine-131, Nisa said, noting that levels began to decrease after some time.

    Nevertheless the amount of radiation detected at the site boundary reached 500 microSieverts per hour – exceeding a regulatory limit and triggering another set of emergency precautions. It also meant the incident has been rated at Level 4 on the International Nuclear Event Scale (INES) – an ‘accident with local consequences’.

    A seriously injured worker was trapped within Fukushima Daiichi unit 1 in the crane operating console of the exhaust stack and is now confirmed to have died. Four workers were injured by the explosion at the same reactor and have been taken to hospital. A contractor was found unconscious and taken to hospital.

    Two workers of a ‘cooperative firm’ were injured, said Tepco; one with a broken bone. A Tepco employee who was unable to stand and grasping his left chest was taken to hospital.

    At Fukushima Daiini unit 3 one worker received a radiation dose of 106 mSv. This is a notable dose, but comparable to levels deemed acceptable in emergency situations by some national nuclear safety regulators.

    The whereabout of two Tepco workers remains unknown.

    Researched and written

    by World Nuclear News


  6. Don Hawkins said on March 13th, 2011 at 1:23pm #

    The wind direction will switch to an onshore direction Monday night into Tuesday, threatening to send the radiation toward the population.

    “We are getting into the time of year where onshore winds occur most often,” said Andrews.

    This is not good news, since an onshore direction would blow most of the radiation toward populated areas. An added threat is that with higher elevations just about 4 miles inland from the power plants, if a temperature inversion sets up in the atmosphere, radiation could be trapped.

    Authorities have warned residents to keep windows and doors closed and air-conditioning fans switched off to eliminate the intake of air from outside. Accuweather

  7. hayate said on March 13th, 2011 at 2:02pm #

    Cover-up Over Japan’s Nuclear Catastrophe

    Yoichi Shimatsu

    March 13, 2011

    (video summary)

    “Following a high-level meeting called by the lame-duck prime minister, Japanese agencies are no longer releasing independent reports without prior approval from the top. The censorship is being carried out following the imposition of the Article 15 Emergency Law. Official silencing of bad news is a polite way of reassuring the public.

    USA: The White House sent in a team to consult withe US-friendly Naoto Kan government. Instead of dispatching in experts from the Department of Energy, Nuclear Safety Agency and Health Department, President Obamas sent representatives of USAID, which is cover for the CIA.

    The presence of these paranoiac bumblers only confirms suspicions of a top-level cover up. Why would the Agency be worried about the disaster? There are security considerations, such as regional “enemies” Pyongyang, Beijing and Moscow taking advantage of the crisis. To the contrary, China and Russia have both offered carte blanche civilian aid.”


  8. hayate said on March 13th, 2011 at 2:08pm #

    See also:

    Fukushima Neclear Accident: Sobering Reflections

    By S.G.Vombatkere

    13 March, 2011


  9. Don Hawkins said on March 13th, 2011 at 3:14pm #

    Hayate read both of the web pages you posted. Oh! what a tangled web we weave; When first we practise to deceive of course the question does come up when did we first practise to deceive and in the year 2011 new levels are now being reached. Can hardly wait to see the financial channels tomorrow for about 15 minutes. Listening to life before it’s to late as opposed to listening to well dressed so called leaders in all there shapes and sizes where style and grace each word carefully chosen granted somewhat controlled while living in a prison for the mind all the time thinking we the little people are confused, suprise, suprise.

  10. lichen said on March 13th, 2011 at 7:02pm #

    Just like BP and the US government teamed up to obscure how the gulf and all life in and around it was criminally poisoned with massive consequences that continue into this day, the billionare nuclear lobby and the Japanese government will do whatever they can–smear, slander, and throw off any victims of radiation poisoning in order to protect their bottom line. Nuclear power is carbon intensive, dangerous, and inefficient. Beyond the plants themselves, the worlds 441 functioning nuclear plants annually produce almost 13,000 tons of high-level nuclear scrap, with nowhere to go except poorly maintained holding grounds which are already showing leaks, at least in the US.

    Alan Weisman notes:

    “…Used nuclear fuel, some of it decades old, languishes in holding tanks. Oddly, it is up to a million times more radioactive than when it was fresh. While in the reactor, it began mutating into elements heavier than enriched uranium, such as isotopes of plutonium and americium. That process continues in the waste dumps, where used hot rods exchange neutrons and expel alpha and beta particles, gamma rays, and heat.”

  11. hayate said on March 13th, 2011 at 8:38pm #

    The earthquakes continue, another tidal wave approaches and a 2nd reactor suffered a hydrogen explosion:

    A new tsunami targets Japan’s coast Mar 14, 2011 05:49 Moscow Time


    Blast at Fukushima nuke plant, the reactor undamaged Mar 14, 2011 06:15 Moscow Time


  12. Don Hawkins said on March 14th, 2011 at 2:58am #


    126,475,664 (July 2011 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 10

    Age structure:
    0-14 years: 13.1% (male 8,521,571/female 8,076,173)
    15-64 years: 64% (male 40,815,840/female 40,128,235)
    65 years and over: 22.9% (male 12,275,829/female 16,658,016) (2011 est.) world fact book CIA

    Tokyo about 37 million

    Washington, DC July 30, 2005 The National Academies of Science released an over 700-page report yesterday on the risks from ionizing radiation. The BEIR VII or seventh Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation report on “Health Risks from Exposure to Low Levels of Ionizing Radiation” reconfirmed the previous knowledge that there is no safe level of exposure to radiation—that even very low doses can cause cancer. Risks from low dose radiation are equal or greater than previously thought. The committee reviewed some additional ways that radiation causes damage to cells.

    Among the reports conclusions are:

    There is no safe level or threshold of ionizing radiation exposure.

    Even exposure to background radiation causes some cancers. Additional exposures cause additional risks.

    Radiation causes other health effects such as heart disease and stroke, and further study is needed to predict the doses that result in these non-cancer health effects.

    It is possible that children born to parents that have been exposed to radiation could be affected by those exposures. NIRS

  13. Don Hawkins said on March 14th, 2011 at 3:11am #

    McConnell, the Senate’s leading Republican, told Fox News Sunday that he stands behind his support for nuclear power despite the devastation in Japan.

    “I don’t think right after a major environmental catastrophe is a very good time to be making American domestic policy,” McConnell said. Huffington post

    Oh! what a tangled web we weave; When first we practise to deceive. And yes America is the king of coal no environmental catastrophe there just dig safely with style and grace.

    Isn’t a shame that the people who know how to run the country are driving taxi cabs. Burns

  14. Don Hawkins said on March 14th, 2011 at 4:57am #

    The inner containment shell surrounding the Unit 3 reactor was intact, Edano said, allaying some fears of the risk to the environment and public. But the outer building around the reactor appeared to have been devastated, with only a skeletal frame remaining. New’s

    The inner containment shell surrounding the Unit 3 reactor was intact maybe just missing a few part’s that is if you don’t live on Zenon.


  15. Don Hawkins said on March 14th, 2011 at 5:56am #

    By The Associated Press (CP) – 5 hours ago

    TOKYO — The U.S. Seventh Fleet said Monday it had moved its ships and aircraft away from a quake-stricken Japanese nuclear power plant after discovering low-level radioactive contamination.

    The fleet said that the radiation was from a plume of smoke and steam released from the crippled Fukushima Dai-Ichi Nuclear Power Plant, where there have been two hydrogen explosions since Friday’s devastating earthquake and tsunami.

    The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan was about 100 miles (160 kilometres) offshore when its instruments detected the radiation. The fleet said the dose of radiation was about the same as one month’s normal exposure to natural background radiation in the environment. The Associated Press (CP)

  16. Don Hawkins said on March 14th, 2011 at 1:26pm #

    The Bellona Foundation — Introduction
    The Bellona Foundation is an international environmental NGO based in Norway. Founded in 1986 as a direct action protest group, Bellona has become a recognised technology and solution-oriented organization with offices in Oslo, Brussels, Washington D.C., St. Petersburg and Murmansk. Altogether, some 75 engineers, ecologists, nuclear physicists, economists, lawyers, political scientists and journalists work at Bellona.


    On Earth – when there had been an Earth, before it was demolished to make way for a new hyperspace bypass – the problem had been with cars. The disadvantages involved in pulling lots of black sticky slime from out of the ground where it had been safely hidden out of harm’s way, turning it into tar to cover the land with, smoke to fill the air with and pouring the rest into the sea, all seemed to outweigh the advantages of being able to get more quickly from one place to another – particularly when the place you arrived at had probably become, as a result of this, very similar to the place you had left, i.e. covered with tar, full of smoke and short of fish.
    Douglas Adams

  17. Don Hawkins said on March 14th, 2011 at 1:38pm #

    Update 3/14/11

  18. Don Hawkins said on March 14th, 2011 at 4:26pm #

    Still, there are times when area winds blow on shore, and a hypothetical release amid a setting of onshore wind would undoubtedly be of great concern to authorities in Japan.

    Through Tuesday, EDT, winds in the area of the two nuclear power plants will vary from northerly through easterly, implying some onshore component to the wind. During this time, a hypothetical radiation release into the lower atmosphere would likely affect heavily populated land near and southward from the site of the plants.

    An added threat is that with higher elevations just about 4 miles inland from the power plants, if a temperature inversion sets up in the atmosphere, radiation could be trapped near the ground.

    Authorities have warned residents to keep windows and doors closed and air-conditioning fans switched off to eliminate the intake of air from outside.

    By early Wednesday, EDT, a strong offshore flow in the lower atmosphere will set up, lasting through Thursday.

    Onshore low-level flow could resume late in the week. Accuweather

  19. Don Hawkins said on March 14th, 2011 at 5:04pm #

    Just now Shepard Smith on Fox New’s reported that the Japanese Government said a break in the containment vessel and an explosion in number two reactor. He then had on a man who said here is where we might see high levels of radiation. Shepard Smith then said ok now a quick commercial message and be right back. Now what’s wrong with that picture?

  20. hayate said on March 14th, 2011 at 7:00pm #

    Japan suspects nuclear reactor container damaged

    – 1 min ago

    “TOKYO – Japan’s nuclear safety agency said an explosion Tuesday at an earthquake-damaged nuclear power plant may have damaged a reactor’s containment vessel and that a radiation leak is feared.”


    We still don’t have the technology to make nuclear power safe. Continuing on with this way of generating power is playing Russian roulette with our world being the head the gun is pointed at.

  21. hayate said on March 14th, 2011 at 11:54pm #

    Using what info that has been made public and the design of reactors themselves, Makhijani speculates about what is happening at the reactor site:

    The Post-Tsunami Situation at the Fukushima Nuclear Plants

    What Happened, Why, and What Might be Next


    March 14, 2011

    (ending paras)

    “One hopes that the spent fuel pool in Unit 1 can be kept full of water and the various reactors can be kept cool enough to prevent much more serious consequences than have already occurred (there has been serious worker exposure and some public radiation exposure already, according to news reports[9]). But the accident makes clear that there is ample information and analysis that very grave consequences are possible from lighter water reactors – which are the designs used in Japan, the United States, and most of the rest of the world. Spent fuel pools special vulnerabilities that are different in different specific designs, but all possess some risk of severe consequences in worst-case accidents or worst-case terrorist attacks (which were studied by the National Academies in their 2006 report).

    The United States should move as much spent fuel out of the pools as possible into hardened and secure dry storage. The tragedy in Japan is also a reminder that making plutonium and fission products just to boil water (which is what a nuclear reactor does) is not a prudent approach to electricity generation. While existing reactors will be needed to maintain the stability of electricity supply for some time (as is also evident from the earthquake-tsunami catastrophe in Japan), new reactor projects should be halted and existing reactors should be phased out along with coal and oil. It is possible to do so economically in the next few decades, while maintaining the reliability of the electricity system and greatly improving its security, as I have shown in my book Carbon-Free and Nuclear Free: A Roadmap for U.S. Energy Policy published in 2007, and in subsequent work that can be found on the IEER website, [] Carbon-Free and Nuclear-Free can be downloaded free [].”


    The book is worth looking at.

  22. hayate said on March 15th, 2011 at 1:01am #

    An Appeal to All Foreign Embassy Personnel and International Media Present in Japan, regarding the Nuclear Disaster

    by Yoshie Furuhashi 14.03.11

    “From the beginning of the Great East Japan Earthquake, I have followed Japanese-language media closely, to see what they have to say about Japan’s nuclear reactors. It is clear that the Japanese people were under a virtual information blockade [], regarding the severity of the problems and their potential health consequences, due to the Japanese media’s failure to challenge their government’s lack of transparency and accountability. The possibility of a complete meltdown was frequently raised in international media from Day 1, but the Japanese media were silent on the worst case scenario at least for the first 24 hours. That information blockade has begun to be breached, especially since the explosion at Unit 1 of Fukushima 1, but even now the Japanese media’s performance is woefully inadequate. More can and must be done to inform the public. Tell the Japanese what they need to know to save as many lives as possible in the event of a complete meltdown. It’s in your power to do that.”


  23. Don Hawkins said on March 15th, 2011 at 2:26am #

    What they need to know to save as many lives as possible in the event of a complete meltdown. It’s in your power to do that.”

    The radioactive cloud will reach Tokyo later today it was said and then of course time for a commercial message. Last night on Fox New’s the Hannity Show one .05er from something called the Heartland Institute said I see no problem and another person on the show a nuclear scientist just had this strange look on his face as the heartland person said this. Then the punk Hannity give the heartland person the last word. Beck was worried about the bond market on his show and so it goes. So how do we get food and water to Japan staying off shore a hundred miles or so isn’t going to get it. Come in from the Southeast will China help or do we hear well if the United States help’s we will help and the United States will say if China help’s we will go shopping eat what we want and lose weight at the same time. McConnell and Boehner were on CNBC yesterday and both it seems are insane or mad if you like. Cup of coffee nice game of checkers.