OUR SWEET OLD WORLD
Thanks for the information-rich cover story “Extinction Sucks” July 16 issue. As our planet continues to move inexorably toward its sixth mass extinction, we Homo sapiens who acknowledge our collective responsibility for the unfolding tragedy look for ways to express our great guilt and boundless sorrow.
“Be here now,” the brief mantra Ram Das urged us to embrace in the ’60s, suggests a behavioral pattern for today. We cannot live in the future nor dwell on the past, yet to be truly present we must find a way to grieve, to express the often overwhelming emotions we feel now.
In the July 20 issue of Truthout, journalist Dahr Jamail has written an important piece titled “Mourning the Changes that Surround Us: Readers Speak Out on Climate.” In the section titled “Environmental Melancholia,” Jamail refers to Regan Rosburg’s master’s thesis in-progress. Rosburg suggests allowing ourselves to feel the loss of each “mini-death” we personally experience, such as when we notice that the birds or bees that have always come have now vanished from our garden. Maybe it’s a way to mourn our larger existential loss and to help us experience our grief for this sweet old world in a personal way.
Lois Wadsworth, Eugene
A FESTIVE SUNDAY
Kudos to organizers, sponsors and volunteers of the Eugene Sunday Streets event July 26. It was a really festive, entertaining and educational event. I walked the route — which started close to my home — where I met neighbors for the first time, bumped into some old friends and enjoyed the various demos and entertainers at Monroe Park and along Broadway. I loved the house parties of onlookers and pop-up garage sales!
I stopped short of Kesey Square to have some tea and sit outside at Noisette for a while to people watch. There were so many smiling faces — very young, very old and everyone in between. Many sweet families! I think it was the perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Thanks to everyone involved.
Michele Postal, Eugene
Have you been enjoying watching the furry bumble bees visiting your garden flowers? Despite their love fest with your oregano and echinacea, native and wild bee populations are in serious decline.
Researchers are finding that bumbles and other native bees are in jeopardy from environmental stresses including habitat loss and pesticides. An estimated 100,000 native bumble bees died from seven acute neonicotinoid pesticide exposures in Eugene and parts of Portland between 2013 and 2015.
Unlike honey bees living cooperatively in hives with many worker bees, most native bees are solitary. If the mother bumble bee is poisoned and does not return to her nest, all her offspring and future generations perish. The survival of each native bee is essential to ecosystem biodiversity.
Last month, Beyond Toxics received a call from a Portland resident who saw bumble bees dying on a sidewalk. We reported it to the Oregon Department of Agriculture who investigated by sampling plants and dead bees for neonicotinoid pesticides. Their laboratory analysis indeed showed the presence of neonicotinoid pesticide residue in plants as well as the dead bees. Then the investigators discovered the plants had been sprayed a year ago.
That means a neonicotinoid pesticide applied to a plant in 2014 is still potent enough to kill bumble bees in 2015!
We want to encourage individual action and better policy to reverse the decline of native bee populations. Please stop using pesticides. To help Save Oregon’s Bees we’re putting on a series of events during our “Summer of Bee Love,” including the third annual Beauty of the Bee photo and video contest. Vote for your favorite on our Facebook page and contact us at info@BeyondToxics.org to request information.
Lisa Arkin, Executive Director Beyond Toxics
IS 350 IN DENIAL?
I’m a reporter in Toronto, Ontario. One thing struck me about your article July 16 on the radical predictions of Guy McPherson: The reaction from members of 350 seemed to deny the possibility of McPherson’s predictions of near-term human extinction, “no room for doom and gloom,” a thread of hope/window still open, and the “disservice” McPherson does by not mentioning carbon sequestration out of the atmosphere, etc.
But why should 350 members reject his predictions? If they were to accept his predictions would it motivate them to be a little less reformist and more radical in taking action to avert the same crisis they are working to fix?
By making predictions that the climate crisis is more serious than commonly thought based on the positive feedback loops that could lead to abrupt change, it seems McPherson’s is the conservative approach rather than assuming a margin of error based on many unknown and unprecedented models for anthropomorphic climate change.
Zach Ruiter, Toronto, Ontario
BUSINESS AS USUAL
After the Civic Stadium fire the Eugene City Council voted 8-0 to ban playing with fireworks in south Eugene, a rare example of cooperation across political divides.
Actual progress on the biggest problems we all face would require transcending partisanship. Alleged efforts for climate “action” pretend that Republicans are the problem and Democrats are the solution. It’s easy to ridicule Republicans denying that digging up a hundred million years’ worth of stored energy is altering the biosphere. It’s more complex (and less popular) to challenge the pandering and the greenwashing of Democrats.
Ted Taylor’s cover story profile July 16 of Guy McPherson’s recent speech on potential near-term extinction discussed McPherson’s perspective that we’re all doomed — versus the slow and steady approach of mainstream environmentalism that hopes to save us before it’s too late.
Even if climate change were magically fixed, there are other components to mass extinction. We have all lived under the threat of nuclear annihilation since Aug. 6, 1945. Habitat destruction includes deforestation, urbanization, industrial agriculture. Clearcuts cause desertification. Toxic and nuclear wastes threaten the gene pool. Militarism. Overpopulation. Overconsumption. Overfishing.
Peaked energy and climate chaos are two aspects of ecological overshoot. See peakchoice.org/peak-climate.html.
We need the consciousness shift recognizing the limits to growth on a round, finite planet. The oil wells are half empty, so business as usual is no longer physically possible. The oil wells are half full, so we have some resources for the transition, if we all choose wisely.
Mark Robinowitz, Eugene
On July 6, the Legislature passed HB 2828, which was signed by Gov. Kate Brown July 22. This bill is one of the most important bills to pass the Legislature in this session. It will fund a study to determine the most effective and economical way to deliver health care services to all of Oregon’s residents. The implementation of the results of the study will have the potential to be transformative. It could end the economic and emotional terror that is associated with needing health care that is unaffordable.
Health care-related bankruptcies in Oregon could become a thing of the past, and implementation in Oregon could lead to change nationally.
Oregon has implemented many innovative health care programs, but the splintered, non-comprehensive approach seems to continually leave the end product — universal, comprehensive health care services for all residents — out of reach.
This passage of this bill is a major step toward making this long sought-after care a reality in Oregon.
Marc Shapiro, Eugene
WE CAN MAKE CHANGES
Extinction does suck! Thanks for your informative but alarming article July 16 on Guy McPherson’s talk giving us so little hope to change a climate disaster. Will he wake up those in power or does it take everyone making a change in how we live each day?
I only wish the pope would visit Oregon and spread his message for carbon fees with no time-consuming carbon trading! I’ve read many summaries of the pope’s amazing talk and only The New York Times mentioned how he discounted carbon trading and urged a direct carbon fee. What happened to the rest of the media and all those groups with their response leaving out the pope’s direction for meeting the climate crisis? I’ll be listening to his message when he comes to our country in September.
I urge everyone to read UO associate professor Kari Norgaard’s book Living in Denial: Climate Change, Emotion and Everyday Life. She spoke July 26 at the Unitarian Church. I do believe we can make the changes needed!
Ruth Duemler, Eugene
PSYCHIATRY AND TORTURE
While it is great that groups representing psychologists are speaking out against collusion with torture, this can potentially expose a whole iceberg of human rights violations. For about four decades I have worked as an activist for a peaceful revolution in the mental health industry. This U.S. government scandal reveals that we have collectively been far too soft on psychologists while focusing instead on psychiatrists. For instance, my friend and author Bob Whitaker has just co-written a book about corruption in psychiatry. Yes, Bob and his blog
“Mad In America” are today’s leaders in this reform field. But psychologists need to speak out about way more, including rampant abuse throughout mental health care and even the way trauma caused by oppression holds us back from addressing crises in our world such as global warming.
David W. Oaks, Eugene
I just read the article about pigeons July 23. Something about it didn’t seem right. It looked like the writer was struggling to create controversy with the comments about selective breeding to force the “roller pigeons” to do something that is unnatural and dangerous to them.
It’s been many years, but as a teenager, I kept pigeons, and had friends who kept pigeons.
In my coop, of the dozen or so that I had, my favorite was one which the person I bought it from called a “highflying roller.” I didn’t really know the complete significance of that name at first. Some of my friends had “parlor rollers,” which would spin around on the floor like little feathery pinwheels in reaction to loud noises or other threats. I always figured it was a defensive adaptation, and completely natural. It certainly didn’t appear to hurt the birds to do it. They’d just rearrange their feathers, and hop back on their perches afterwards. It would certainly confuse a fox or raccoon trying to make a meal out of the pigeon.
I never saw my highflying roller do anything like that. What I did see was that he’d fly way up in the air and just fly lazily around in circles. Sometimes for an hour or more.
Then one day he showed me the other aspect of his name: He was attacked by a red tailed hawk that lived in a broken top fir tree on the back side of our property overlooking outer Fox Hollow Road. That hawk was probably never the same after my pigeon began spinning just like my friend’s parlor rollers did just an instant before the hawk made his attempted strike. The pigeon dropped out from under the hawk, leaving the hawk empty-taloned, and looking wildly around trying to figure out what happened.
The pigeon fell about 50 feet (still a very long ways from the ground) spread his wings and glided safely back to the coop, having done something to avoid a predator that could only have been behavior that was already encoded into all pigeons’ genes, with a little help from selective breeding in our domestic rollers.
This past weekend, I had an opportunity to look at the pigeons at the fair. I’m seriously considering building a small pigeon coop and buying a few rollers to get back into it.
Carl Best, Eugene
ANARCHY IS WORSE
Dillon Thomson (Letters, 7/23) is delusional if he thinks sabotaging “a handful of key nodes of infrastructure” (details unspecified, of course) is going to stop the climate change express train. Assuming his intention is to take down the global banking system (one of the few conceivable choke points involving a relatively small number of relatively easily accessible sites) or some such by way of cyber-crime activity, the resulting calamity would engender a “rape” of the environment beyond comprehension.
What does he think hundreds of millions of humans lacking food and basic utilities and turned loose to survive in the “wild” will do? Deforestation, wildlife destruction and pollution on an epic scale would certainly be the result. It’s bad now, but never say it couldn’t get worse, which is the likely outcome of any demented actions such as that which Thomson espouses.
Anyway, it isn’t a mere handful of sources that are helping to cause climate change, but many hundreds of millions of actions by hundreds of millions of people. Mother Nature doesn’t need well-intentioned fools, for long after mankind has extinguished himself, Nature will do its own thing as it’s done from the time when the only life here was a few single-celled amoeba in the oceans.
Karl Stout, Eugene
A BALANCED VIEW
Thank you for printing the July 16 letter from Mariah Leung, co-director of the Al-Nakba Awareness Project in Eugene. We need news outlets to give a balanced view on issues of race and the Middle East. Unfortunately, the voices of people of color and of Palestinians have been silenced for too long. Thank you for taking this step and we are looking forward to reading more.
Elena Sante, Eugene
OUR FOOD FUTURE
With the pro-GMO Dark Act breathing down our necks, it’s obvious that government has (again) turned a deaf ear to the people, but is intently listening to its corporate bedfellows. True to its mission to elevate people power over corporate control, Community Rights Lane County supports “The Right to a Local Food System Charter Amendment” which will recognize and protect Lane County residents’ right to local agriculture. Access to local food is at the heart of human health, food security, food justice and sustainability.
Petitions are being circulated around the county to get this measure on the ballot. Sign them, please, and contact localfoodrights.com to become a signature gatherer. It’s up to us, we the people, to pass a local law protecting our food system that includes local farms, farmers’ markets, community supported agriculture, restaurants, food manufacturing businesses, farm-to-school programs and food pantries.
Our government is more inclined to pave the way for corporate actors who don’t even live here, to control how our food is grown and distributed than to help us preserve a commonly held belief that we the people should decide what our community’s food future will be.
Michelle Holman, Community Rights Lane County, Deadwood
VIRAL BIRTH CONTROL
Regarding extinction, I am just “Joe Blow” with no scientific expertise or appreciation for what is scientifically possible or not. However, it seems to me that a massive die-back is precisely what would save this planet from the fools inhabiting it. I refer to a planned die-back of the species, not a mass extinction event.
Are there no rogue genetic scientists out there who can alter a relatively harmless, aerosol-transmitted virus, such as the rhinovirus, to cause sterility in a large percentage of the people who contract it? This would not kill everyone, but rather drastically reduce the birth rate for the next generations, in turn reducing the demand and consumption of the planet’s resources, and also the pollution and waste generated by it. Not so?
I am not addressing socioeconomic issues here, but rather the survival of the human species as seen by a layman.
Todd L. Bone, Junction City
TIME TO DROP OUT
I am writing to complement the section “What Can We Do About It?” from the July 16 “Radical Predictions” cover story. To stop climate change, we have to interrupt the rampage of industrial capitalism. One good way to do that would be to drastically reduce our dependence on money. People who are less dependent on money seek less profit and more respect from their community and from all humanity. With this new goal, they are less likely to continue excessive industry and excessive energy consumption.
People can become less dependent on money by dropping out, camping with friends and growing their own food. Crowdsourcing the creation of 2D computer RPG games, animated films that look like those games and other media in which the characters burn the money for all the forest creatures, will generate a ripple effect that increases the number of people dropping out and anarcho-collectively growing food, arranging free campsites and developing radical media. Allies that are not yet able to drop out will also grow in number. When dropouts grow in numbers in certain areas without being attacked too fiercely by the government, a second, more localized ripple effect further increases the number of dropouts and their allies.
Peter Grotticelli, Eugene
WHY FEAR IRAN DEAL?
Is Republican hatred of the Iranian nuclear agreement just hatred of anything Obama wants, or are there reasons they don’t want to cut off any chance to make a bomb? It is also monetary. They are getting millions from the fossil fuel industry which will be hurt if there is a glut of oil, lowering gas prices to $2 a gallon — because then the tar sands oil, the MX pipeline, the deep sea drilling and Arctic exploration won’t be economical.
They are also bribed with millions from the Military-Industrial Complex, which wants perpetual war, and by AIPAC the Jewish lobby, which claims that Iran is the greatest exporter of terror in the world which will destroy Israel if they get a bomb. That is absurd on every point.
Almost all the terrorist groups, ISIS, Al Qaeda, the Taliban, Boko Haram, Al Shabaab and AQAP, are all Wahhabi Sunni groups that are funded by Saudi Arabian oil money. The extremist Wahhabi sect is different than the rest of Islam because they justify killing innocent civilians; thus, almost all suicide bombers are Wahhabi.
In the proxy war between Iran, whose people love Americans, and repressive Saudi Arabia, we have been on the wrong side because we are addicted to their oil. Iran hasn’t invaded anyone for 220 years and only wanted a bomb as a deterrent. But the Republican’s greatest fear is that international diplomacy might actually work. If the U.N. can achieve peace, we won’t be able to justify our huge military budgets.
Jerry Brule, Eugene
THANKS FOR THE WEED
If the Mexican drug cartels had not flooded our country with enough marijuana to supply everyone’s needs until the day when we could legally grow our own, to overwhelm and defeat the DEA’s war against us users, and from totally eradicating and interdicting the drug, thereby creating an ongoing scarcity, we would not be smoking either medical or recreational marijuana legally in the United States today.
So, El Chapo got away; that is too bad. Evidently, the Mexican prison he was being held in had a bad case of tunnel vision. Yes, he is a bad-ass drug kingpin, and I do hope he and others like him somehow get what’s coming to them.
However, to his or any other drug lord’s underlings, those at the very bottom levels of criminal business enterprises, who took enormous risks of prison time, or even paying the ultimate price; to those who grow marijuana then smuggle ton after ton of it, across the desert, or over, under and through the border into America for so many years, for us to buy and enjoy using; to ones such as yourselves, your families, loved ones and those who perhaps never meant to hurt anyone, but to simply earn a living; including all of the American growers and distributors big or small, and all those who gave up their lives in this war for legalized marijuana: I raise my bong in a toast to you all in appreciation, and I say — thank you, thank you, thank you!
Danielle Smith, Springfield
UNBALANCING THE BOOKS
How did International Paper with assets of $23 billion get approved for an $8.5 million tax waiver over the next five years even though they will not increase the workforce as required and even allows them to lay off up to 20 percent if they’re so inclined? And how is it that once they’re on the tax rolls they will only pay $650,000 a year in taxes compared to the $1.7 million a year from the exemption? They: a) blackmailed the city by hinting they might leave, b) bought off the City Council, or c) they initially asked for the break as a lark and were totally amazed that they got it. The answer will appear at this time and date 2016.
Vince Loving, Eugene
We certainly live in an upside down world. Our country invades Iraq for no other reason than they have WMDs, which they never had, but Iraq did have millions in military equipment that we gave them. Some Republican war hawks are ready to go to war with Iran because KBR/Halliburton gave them fissionable materials and equipment. And now KBR/Halliburton is suing Oregon because they exposed our National Guard troops to toxic chemicals and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned an $85 million jury award to aid our veterans.
And Dick Cheney who profited from all these events is not in prison for war profiteering and war crimes. One has to wonder what is sane anymore!
Hal Huestis, Eugene