A Greeting for 2012

Looking Back at Durban and Other Progressive Failures, and "Occupying" Ourselves

This is the time for New Year’s resolutions.  Notwithstanding occasional gains like President Obama’s promise to delay approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, a promise now whittled down to 60 days by his signature on recent legislation, we are losing the fight against global warming decisively and with it losing:

– the homelands of a number of the world’s nations;

– the productivity and reliability of global agriculture; and,

– likely more of the world’s biodiversity, and faster than in any other period in geological history.

Maybe there are physical forces making disaster inevitable, or maybe what is happening is within the control of human free will, but the window of opportunity for the latter is rapidly closing.  Hopefully it is not entirely shut yet.

Global warming may be lethal, but it is still only one of Earth’s  illnesses.  A debt-ridden, overpopulated, hungry and warring humanity is shredding the biosphere, home to billions of beautiful and innocent creatures like the family of mergansers you see, and at the same time facing “peak everything,” with fossil fuels at the top of the list, along with many of the minerals essential for agriculture and high technology. ((Vernon, 2007, “Peak Minerals,” Oil Drum Europe,  There appears to be considerable uncertainty as to the supplies of key minerals, which have not been studied in nearly the detail of oil, so this writer will not vouch for the current accuracy of Vernon’s work.))  Our erstwhile governments and most of the seven billion, or if you prefer, the 99%, are sitting in a stupor as if paralyzed.

Some, last spring’s Middle Eastern protesters and the Occupiers around the world in recent months, were awoken by a Middle Eastern fruit vendor who immolated himself. This appeal is made by one of the seven billion, from a tiny American town not far from the home of Henry David Thoreau.  Thoreau, explaining why he went to jail rather than pay his head tax to support the Mexican-American War, wrote, “It is not so important that many should be as good as you, as that there be some absolute goodness somewhere; for that will leaven the whole lump.”  That was also the message of the fruit vendor who sacrificed his life for us all.  There is very little evidence that the world’s governments are willing or capable of taking decisive action, so it is up to us, the 99%, or however many of us are willing, to “leaven the lump” and bring back the world from the precipice.

This article will argue that we the people, and more specifically those of us who call ourselves “green,” are losing the battle to stop global warming, and many other battles largely because we all, or at least too many of us, have been indoctrinated to forget:

– Mr. Thoreau’s other reminder, that ‘The government  is only the mode which the people have chosen to execute their will”;

– what “conservationists” understood before Earth Day 1970, that every environmental problem has its roots in “too many people using too much stuff”;

– what Thoreau and Gandhi and many others have taught us — that relinquishment of material wants is empowerment, not self-sacrifice; and,

– the foremost teaching of religion and spiritualism and ethics for at least four millennia — the Golden Rule.

We are all guilty.  So we need to resolve now to reinstate those principles in our personal lives and the life of society, not tomorrow but today.  It’s a tall order, but, in fact, we are coming so close to destroying civilization and the earth, that only a rethinking of fundamental values will save us.

What is more difficult to understand than that we have been losing the battles against environmental and human injustice is that the people  of the Baby Boom, now in power around the world, or at least in the United States, grew up in the shadow of a great man, John Kennedy, who said, “Our problems are manmade; therefore, they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings. Man’s reason and spirit have often solved the seemingly unsolvable, and we believe they can do it again.” ((American University Speech, June 13, 1963.)) We believed him then, and indeed it seems self-evident, doesn’t it? So we can believe him now. Yet most of us sit as if paralyzed.

On the global warming front in particular, the test case for survival of the Earth, all the talk and agreements and campaigns since the eighties have not even created a “blip” in the seemingly inexorable rise of CO2 in the atmosphere, never deviating in the slightest from a course followed for half a century. ((Farley, The Scientific Case for Modern Anthropogenic Global Warming, Monthly Review))

If the cacophony since the eighties has resulted in any progress, it is not apparent in the physical world, is it?  There are those who say that the talk alone is a sign of progress, and they may be right.  But not for Mama Nature.

Look what’s happened in the last few weeks.  This is what you already know if you’ve been paying attention.

1. International Energy Agency (IEA) scientists, the ones the world pays to know, announced that we have about five years (that’s until 2016, just around the corner) to put a stop to increased greenhouse-gas emissions before global warming gets completely out of control.  Their reasoning was economic.  When you build a power plant or tar sands oil pipeline or widget-manufacturing facility, you expect to pay for the investment out of the sale of electricity or tar sands oil or widgets.  So the construction locks everyone in to producing the widgets or oil or electricity, and if that causes CO2 emissions, the economics make it much harder to cut the emissions than before the construction happened.

Five years from now the expenditures will have been made that lock us into emissions that will cause more than 2 degrees C of warming.  The time to halt the emissions is now, not after many costly new  CO2-generating plants and pipelines have been built, which must somehow be paid for.  “The door is closing,” Fatih Birol, chief economist at the International Energy Agency, says. “If we don’t change direction now on how we use energy, we will end up beyond what scientists tell us is the minimum [for safety]. The door will be closed forever.”  ((“World headed for irreversible climate change in five years, IEA warns If fossil fuel infrastructure is not rapidly changed, the world will ‘lose forever’ the chance to avoid dangerous climate change,” Fiona Harvey, environment correspondent Guardian, Wednesday 9 November 2011 05.01 EST))  Forever!

2. The IEA scientists also announced that global warming is happening much faster than expected; and unless practices and policies change very rapidly, global warming could easily be 3 degrees C by 2050, 6 degrees C (11 degrees F) by 2100.  The politicians had made an official finding at Copenhagen that anything more than a 2-degree warming, any time sooner than the end of the century, would have unacceptable environmental and economic impacts. Three times the warming by century’s end or 50% more in less than half the time?

We’re in trouble.  The unacceptable is becoming the inevitable.  It’s getting so warm in the arctic that (a) the ice is rapidly disappearing, which causes more sunlight to be absorbed and less reflected, which in turn means the earth heating up rapidly just because of that regardless of how how much more CO2 we put into the sky, and (b) methane is bubbling up  from under where the ice used to be and from formerly frozen peat – LOTS of methane, which is a greenhouse gas 25 times more powerful. than CO2 on a 100-year average basis, and even several times worse than that on an immediate short-term basis  The methane emissions will just keep coming faster, and like the missing ice, they’ll create their own global warming without regard to CO2.

3. There was also agreement at Copenhagen  for the protection of the more vulnerable countries that will be annihilated by rising seas, the 2-degree ceiling should be reconsidered no later than 2015 to be possibly lowered to 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F).

4. As the politicians were about to fly into Durban on highly-polluting planes to talk about global warming, it was announced that 2010 had seen a 5.6% increase in world CO2 emissions, the largest gross increase in human history.  And that’s with the Kyoto protocols in effect as much as they have ever been.  The problem is, of course, that China and the US, the biggest emitters, don’t have to do anything at all under Kyoto, and Europe, which at least gives lip service to it, uses paper emissions trading said by some to be 90% fraudulent.  ((“Carbon offsets have already run out of credit,“, and Carbon Trade Watch, which reports, “Carbon trading schemes are awash with paper “reductions” that do not correspond to actual reductions of greenhouse gas emissions in the real world, and this is a systematic problem.”))

5. The politicians flew into Durban knowing that:

–  Kyoto is hardly working at all and in particular that under Kyoto we just saw the largest increase in CO2 emissions in history;

–  we’ve got five years to put into effect something that will halt further commitments to emissions increases;

– they had promised to reconvene in 2015 to consider lowering the ceiling to 1.5 degrees to protect the more vulnerable nations; and,

– warming is now happening much more and much sooner than the maximum they had declared acceptable at Copenhagen.

6.  What was their Kyoto protocols response?

– they agreed to extend Kyoto, due to lapse next year;

– they agreed to try to come up with a new plan in 2020, already four years after the scientists say it will be too late, five years after they had promised to consider lowering the ceiling to 1.5 degrees, and thirty years after Kyoto; and,

– they declared a victory and went home for the holidays.

7.  As soon as the folks in Durban announced the extension of Kyoto, Canada announced it was going to walk out of the treaty.  Bad medicine.  Why? Because Canadian tar sands oil is just as polluting as conventional oil when it is consumed, but more polluting in the refining process and the greater source of emissions for tar sands oil is where it’s gotten out of the ground rather than where it is ultimately used.  Tar sands oil will:

– produce vast quantities of CO2 emissions where it is produced in Canada, where the emissions will be completely uncontrolled with Canada out of the treaty; and,

– produce vast quantities of CO2 emissions where it is consumed – in the US if the Keystone XL pipeline is built, or elsewhere via a Pacific Coast pipeline if the Keystone XL pipeline is not built.

There are those who say that if the pipeline is built, the battle to halt global warming is lost forever, and they are likely right.  ((Why? because of tar sands oil’s “EROEI” (energy recovered over energy in.)  When the energy recovered in extracting a fuel from the ground is less than the energy needed to extract it (ie EROEI < 1) , getting it out is pretty much worthless, and when EROEI is only a little over 1 (as when you pull 4 barrels of oil out of the ground but burn the equivalent of  three of them to get them), you’ve already expended several times the net recovery to get there, which means the oil from tar sands has already caused more CO2 emissions before it even reaches the refinery than it or conventional oil causes after it’s burnt.  Really bad medicine.   Additionally, meeting recognized scientifically-established goals for reduction of CO2 emissions requires using less than the total reserves of “conventional” oil and gas.  Once development of “unconventional” sources (tar sands oil, shale oil, deep sea oil and “fracked” shale gas) are initiated in full scale, it will become virtually impossible to halt their use, since the investors will fight to retrieve their investments.))  The same is true by the same logic, of course, if the pipeline is not built but the oil is sent elsewhere.

2010 was a bad year for CO2 emissions?  You ain’t seen nothin’.

8. In the meantime,  the government and industry have been busy working to bring Canadian tar sands oil into the US, for all the world as if we should never cease burning oil.  Back in Washington, thanks to 350.org and William Mckibben surrounding the White House with protesters, President Obama said he would postpone approval of the pipeline until there had been further environmental studies done.  Good!   Of course, if the pipeline is blocked, the oil will likely go out to the Pacific Coast by a much more environmentally damaging pipeline route, and will be used elsewhere. ((Pipeline and Tanker Transport Trouble: New report shows the impact to British Columbia’s communities, rivers and Pacific coastline from tar sands oil   December 12, 2011 RELEASE: Another Tar Sands Pipeline Postponed in Major Victory for First Nations and Ecological Internet, Tar Sands, Tankers & Pipelines.))  Oh well, at least the US won’t be blamed for the inevitable massive increases in emissions, even if Mama Nature can’t tell the difference. So 350.org declared a victory and the protesters went home for the holidays.

9. And then there is “fracked” shale gas, an immense new source of natural gas, which will become its own immense new source of greenhouse gas emissions.  Anyone who cares about global warming knows that the only thing to do with new fossil fuels is to leave them in the ground at least until there is a global warming treaty, and not make investments in their exploitation that will have to be repaid through their sale. “Fracking”, even if it could be done “cleanly”, is for economic reasons, one more pound of nails in the earth’s coffin.

10. Last but perhaps more appropriately first, the UN recently admitted for the first time that its projected world population of 9 billion by mid-century, already more than can be fed sustainably under any plausible scenario without corresponding increases in fossil fuel consumption, is going to keep spiraling upward to over 10 billion by the end of the century.  The farther we go in that direction, the more locked in we will be to impossibly destructive CO2 emissions, not to mention impossibly destructive losses of remaining forest lands.  As was pointed out years ago, the really “inconvenient truth” about global warming is that uncontrolled population growth means uncontrolled global warming. ((Diane Francis, “The Real Inconvenient Truth“, and “Peak Food: Can Another Green Revolution Save Us?”, one of many discussions of the need to maintain growth of fossil fuels to maintain growth of food production.))

Of course, we should have known that our efforts at Durban would fail.  The politicians flew to Copenhagen, accomplished very little, declared victory and went home.  With both the United States and China refusing to commit to anything legally binding, the possibility of meeting the 2 degree ceiling is receding into fantasy-land.  Talks began before 1990, and now the earliest we could even hope for a treaty binding on the largest emitters is more than 30 years later. And the biosphere hangs in the balance.

To this writer what is more difficult to understand about the present state of affairs is this.  We greens will have been hard at work over thirty years trying to convince the governments to do the only thing that can be done about global warming: at this point to tell us to stop putting so much CO2 in the air.  What we have to show for it is thirty years of steadily increasing emissions with no end in sight.  If we fail to get the governments to order us to stop polluting, what stops us from doing it ourselves without orders?  However difficult that may be, what more realistic alternatives do we have, and why does there seem to be resistance to the idea?

The mainstream environmental groups are very vague about who will, in fact, have to stop polluting, and how much, but the truth is that to reach the goals we assert to be needed, we will have to decrease our driving radically, decrease our consumption of electricity radically, decrease our consumption of home heating fuels radically, etc. How much? Probably at least 80% because in the thirty years between Kyoto and our next meeting date, huge volumes of CO2 will have been added to the atmosphere, making additional heating for the next century inevitable.

You and I have to make those cuts or leave an almost unlivable earth to our descendants, yet we go on using whatever fossil fuels are available as if there were no concerns, making small efforts like purchase of hybrid vehicles, which fail to show up on the chart.  “Alternatives” (e.g., solar electricity, biofuels, “hybrids,” etc.) are there, but they appear at this point to be too little, too late.  And when environmentalists talk about decreasing emissions, there are always two fundamental approaches – conservation (e.g., drive less) or efficiency (e.g., fuel efficiency standards).  We hear proposals for the latter, (which have not been shown to be sufficient soon enough, not to mention that they are fleeting at best because they will be negated by population increases), but not proposals for the former.

Forty years ago, it was gospel that the root causes underlying almost all deterioration of the environment were “too many people using too much stuff.”  The fundamental solutions, then, were fewer people using less stuff. For close to four decades, however, the mainline environmental organizations have had a conspiracy of silence about the “too many people” part.  And when it comes to “stuff,” there is a lot of talk about “sustainable alternatives” (clean energy, hybrid vehicles, etc.) but very little talk about “less stuff” –- before Earth Day we called ourselves “conservationists,” but now the major environmental groups hardly talk about conservation at all.  It’s as if the former “conservationists” have acquired a conspiracy of silence about conservation itself as well as population.

From people who saw the root cause as “too many people using too much stuff,”  mainstream professional environmentalists have become folks who won’t say there are too many people and won’t say they use too much stuff.  Of course, the GDP is measured by how many people there are and how much “stuff” they create in monetary terms, so “too many people using too much stuff” is almost the same thing as too high a GDP. Admitting that in today’s world is trouble, so we seek “sustainable growth”.

As has been observed, “sustainable growth” is an oxymoron.  In the global warming context the weakness of the “alternatives” approach (which is also the “sustainable growth” approach) is self-evident.  You build a car with greater fuel efficiency, and that just allows more driving or a larger population of drivers.  The amount of fuel used has to be addressed head-on, but that doesn’t seem to be happening in active programs among the mainline environmental groups.  No wonder we lose.  This blindness shows up directly when it comes to global warming — a refusal to talk about people actually using less of what generates greenhouse emissions.  We don’t want to talk about conservation, yet expect the government to impose it.  Huh?

The primary stumbling block to implementation of the Copenhagen goals was that both the United States and China refused to make any legally binding commitment at all.  When this writer reviewed Copenhagen from his personal point of view ((Copenhagen Failed Us. What Do We Do Next?)), he pointed out that there was little on the horizon that would make the outcome different in future attempts to reach an accord, and said (I’ll repeat verbatim because the facts above only demonstrate that what was apparently true then is unquestionably true now, two years deeper into the hole. For the reader’s convenience, endnotes and inter-lineations are provided for further clarification.)

We are left with the two largest GHG emitters, the United States and China, unwilling to commit to binding goals for reduction. All the while, there’s little hope that the public can introduce any sort of meaningful change in this situation. At the same time, the rest, the signers of the Kyoto accords, increased their emissions when the protocols called for decreases. So much for governments.

All considered, we have lost twenty years [now 31, since the parties at Durban postponed further discussions until 2020] for bringing about meaningful climate change mitigation and we have little time left because every year that the atmospheric CO2 load increases, there is even a lesser chance that the dangerous processes can be reversed. Meanwhile, we clearly face governments in the hands of corporations and corporations blind to any need that could adversely affect the next quarterly report. Are these conditions going to change in the few years we have? It is unlikely. The concerned public has thus far proved incapable of accomplishing meaningful governmental and corporate programs to halt global warming, so how can we have confidence except in more of the same until time runs out?

Is it hopeless? Apparently so if we are going to depend on the governments and the corporations. Yet in taking that position, we are putting aside an “inconvenient truth” – inconvenient because we might rather put responsibility on irresistible forces out there in the universe than on ourselves.

The inconvenient truth is that there are few, if any, human CO2 emissions not the result of our own individual and collective consumer decisions. There are our direct uses of fossil fuels for transportation and home heating, there is the electricity we consume that is generated by burning fossil fuels or, more recently, biofuels and biomass. There is the energy consumed in production and transport of our food and consumer products. Why?  The catalogue is, in fact, the same catalogue that would have to be dealt with under a global treaty!

So, in fact, we the people, in the United States and all over the world, have no need to wait until we are forced by government programs to take the steps necessary to reduce CO2 emissions. We can do what we’ve been waiting for the governments and corporations to do, and because they are doing nothing, we no longer have any alternative except to make the changes ourselves.

Are we so childish that we can do nothing except whine that we haven’t been told what to do when the future of the earth, the future of humanity, depends upon action? Maybe the answer is yes. I don’t know what you will do, and I don’t know what I will do. Yet if we do not want to be responsible, individually and collectively for the horrors to come, then we must, individually and collectively, say no to any more greenhouse emissions than the scientists say are safe.

Henry Thoreau and Mohandas Gandhi taught us that our needs are much less than our wants and that we can peacefully bring down governments and corporations by refusing to accept their measures of our needs.

Thoreau is widely viewed as the originator of civil disobedience as a moral and civic duty, especially in all societies aspiring to democracy. He believed that the Mexican-American war was immoral, yet he found himself requested to pay a head tax to finance the war.  So he said no, and went to jail. We shall never know how far he would have taken the experiment, because his neighbor Ralph Waldo Emerson, over his objection, paid the tax and got him released.

In explaining why he viewed refusal to pay the tax as his duty, he said:

It is not a man’s duty, as a matter of course, to devote himself to the eradication of any, even the most enormous wrong; he may still properly have other concerns to engage him; but it is his duty, at least, to wash his hands of it, and, if he gives it no thought longer, not to give it practically his support. ((Civil Disobedience – Part 1 of 3))

Obviously we have not wiped our hands of global warming when we buy the fuels or the electricity or consumer goods and not only create  emissions but finance our opponents as Thoreau’s head tax financed the war.  We will not, by ourselves, have stopped global warming, but the example will be seen, and our willingness to make sacrifices for reductions in emissions will for the first time be unquestionable.

As Thoreau explained:

It is not so important that many should be as good as you, as that there be some absolute goodness somewhere; for that will leaven the whole lump. There are thousands who are in opinion opposed to slavery and to the war, who yet in effect do nothing to put an end to them; who, esteeming themselves children of Washington and Franklin, sit down with their hands in their pockets, and say that they know not what to do, and do nothing.

Rather, if substantial numbers of people refuse to pay the profiteers  or to engage in throwing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, it will demonstrate their sincerity in a manner that cannot be accomplished by just asking the government to do something.  We shall, hopefully, “leaven the whole lump,” and, ideally, slow the growth of demand for products destroying the earth.  There will be less profit in building the power plants and pipelines about to lock us into failure, and we can sleep better in the knowledge that we “washed our hands off it”. Besides, nothing else that has been suggested will work.

The core teaching of “Civil Disobedience” is, as Martin Luther King saw it, “Noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good.”  As consumers and users and financial contributors to the makers of the pollutants that are destroying the earth, its biodiversity, and its agricultural productivity for millions of years to come, we must demonstrate our opposition with noncooperation.  Why?    Because:

– it is a moral duty;

– it will “leaven the whole lump”; and,

– nothing else is working at all.

Another important part of Thoreau’s teachings is his examination of our ability and responsibility to reduce our material consumption to the core at which we can carry on our lives as principled members of the community without either imposing on others, depriving ourselves of freedom or violating our own moral beliefs.  That is Walden, which forces us to understand that consumerism locks us out from living our lives with integrity and freedom.  It’s a message essential for giving up the material “needs” for which we are destroying the earth.

Gandhi’s self-imposed poverty gives us the same message — that abandonment of material needs is empowerment, not self-sacrifice.  It’s a view, of course, that is anathema to the global corporations that control our lives through the culture of materialism. Without that understanding, it is unlikely that Americans can voluntarily relinquish their “rights” to a standard of living Russia’s President Putin and undoubtedly millions or billions of others have rightly called parasitism.  As long as Americans maintain that view, they are playing with the danger that the world will quickly and painfully take away the material “rights” they enjoy at everyone else’s expense –- “rights” that will soon be gone in any event as “peak everything” imposes itself on us. To fail to make a virtue of a necessity is the height of folly.

Remember Gandhi’s spinning wheel?  It was a simple declaration of independence from British capitalism, a statement that India could do without the capitalists. “Mahatma Gandhi Album: the Man and the Wheel,”  To the extent we liberate ourselves from the causes of global warming, so will we also liberate ourselves from the corporations of Wall Street which act in arrogant confidence that we are ever their dependents and ever in debt to them.  If we step away from the shiny things they produce, they will have no power over us, so it is time to do it in small ways and large.

 It is time to stop waiting for governments to act as we expected them to act at Kyoto long ago and at Copenhagen [more than two years ago and at Durban most recently].

At this point, exclusively focusing on government action is little more than avoidance of the inconvenient truth of our individual and collective responsibility. So we must get on with the show — convincing and helping ourselves, convincing and helping our neighbors, convincing and helping humanity to reduce CO2 emissions by all means within our power to reach the goals and timelines the scientists are telling us we must meet. We must do it with the good will and generosity so lacking in Copenhagen because our “leaders” showed us in Copenhagen [and Durban] that the needed changes assuredly will not happen otherwise.

There is a little catch. The fundamental rule of social behavior, raised to a pinnacle by “free-market” economics, has been for generations, in the words of 1952 U.S. Progressive Party Presidential nominee Vincent Hallinan, “Fuck you Jack, I got mine!” That is unnatural and unsustainable.

Every major religious text, back at least as far as the Egyptian Book of the Dead [four millenia ago], has taught us in substance, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

For specific wording of the rule in twenty of the world’s religions, see  “Universality of the Golden Rule“. The rule explicitly dictates behavior towards all things living among the Jains, Native Americans, and Nigerian Yoruba, and this writer submits, implicitly does so among others. It is hard to see how a universally accepted rule of behavior can be, as asserted by our colleagues in the corporate world, genetically impossible, and it is, of course, a necessary rule for survival among the hunter-gatherer tribes from which we descend.

The corporate anti-Christ has tried to tell us otherwise for centuries.  That is hardly surprising, because it is increasingly coming to be understood that the structure of large corporations, indeed probably all large integrated organizations, regardless of stated mission, automatically draws to the top, psychopaths, people who, generally through factors of nature and nurture beyond their control, lack the ability to empathize. ((Brian Basham Thursday, 29 December 2011”Beware Corporate Psychopaths – They Are Still Occupying Positions of Power.”  Basham cites some of the recent peer-reviewed academic literature on the subject))

Look where it has gotten us.

There are reasons why the free market rule has repeatedly brought down the US economy, destroyed the Copenhagen and Kyoto efforts and will make our efforts to stop global warming, with or without the aid of the governments, an impossibility. No other rule than that taught by universal religion will work to leave a world to future living beings in which they can actually survive and thrive.

We certainly have our work cut out for us, but we have no choice. And the governments and corporations are welcome to join us all if they see fit. If the offenders find themselves boycotted, they should not be surprised. So think about this message, start saying no to carbon, along with unnecessary consumption of goods and services. Instead, share the vision for a low carbon footprint with your neighbors, friends, other associates, congregations, nonprofit organizations, everyone. Then ever so nicely, ask them to get with the program post haste, because the responsibility is now with us.

We the seven billion are well-meaning folks on the whole, but with all due respect we are also all the right hand men and women of Wall Street.  Want to bankrupt the global corporations, one or all?  Just stop consuming what they sell, and stop producing future consumers.  It’s that simple, and within decades it will in any event be forced upon us by the limits to growth.  It’s all about “too many people using too much stuff,” so if we fail to do now what the limits to growth will force us to do tomorrow, future generations, if they survive, will pay dearly. We allowed ourselves to be indoctrinated by the corporate psychopaths into believing that we are like them, constitutionally unable to care for our fellow beings.  That’s not us, or wasn’t until they took over control of our minds and our religions.  Things might be different if we decided to “occupy” ourselves without abandoning the occupation of Wall Street, and having done so, to implement the Golden Rule, the central teaching of every major religion on earth, and the principle that conservation is empowerment, not self-sacrifice.

Think of these things, please, but with humor and good will, as you honor in your own way the religious and spiritual holidays.   And to be effective, the nonprofits need to change course too, and stop knocking their heads against walls that will remain unmoved until we all change our ways.

Nicholas Arguimbau is a retired environmental and death penalty lawyer living in Western Massachusetts. He planted an 800-foot line of fruit trees with much help from his friends, and thinks an investment in fruit trees will beat an investment in gold flat out. He writes on-line on subjects close to global warming. He can be reached at: narguimbau@earthlink.net. Read other articles by Nicholas.