the speed of life

Driving out from dusk and into a night that blanketed New Mexico in darkness, I had an epiphany. I was hurtling my body through space and time with barely a thought. Encased in steel and turning on rubber I was moving at 80mph over the landscape with little more than a couple hundred feet between me and pure black. This is the present, yet barely one hundred years ago traveling between mesa’s was a time consuming and somewhat dangerous journey. People looked to the stars for guidance. They were seafarers of the earth shaping a living synthesis of people and place though movement, interaction and communication. One hundred years ago people could not even imagine the speed with which we glide over what was then rocks and boulders now crushed into asphalt, spinning our hubris into carbon particles. In two hours I will cover 160 miles of terrain oblivious to the lives that dwell here and distracted by the controls of my spaceship. I try to imagine how this route will be traversed one hundred years hence, and I am speechless.

flight path

I’m dwelling on all the people flying up there in the lower reaches of the stratosphere. Right now. Right this minute. Sitting, waiting, walking, listening, sleeping, eating, peeing, pooing, talking, watching. All shooting along at 500+ miles per hour while the captain throws another dinosaur on the fire and stokes the boiler. I came home from a long trip below the equator and across the dateline to the remnants of a flood that had torn through when the river log-jammed after a 500 year storm of biblical proportions. Below the 40th parallel south, we were caught in another historic storm causing avalanches, downed power lines and everything in between. We hear about the Colorado floods north of here, but little about the toxic effects, and even less about the swelling rivers in Russia and China. With 400 parts per million and counting time is no longer a prophet for climate change. We already have front row seats, paid for the viewing, as we sit back, warm our toes, and watch the earth burn. The human race is on a collision course with reality, and most folk are too blindsided to see that we are all in the drivers seat. Estimates vary Continue Reading →

watch those carbs: join the 350 club!

The 100 watt light bulb has officially been turned off in Europe. Nearly two hundred years of high illuminating incandescence has reached its final demise. As we turn into the ninth year of the twenty-first century this evil doer of carbon emissions is relegated to the dustbin of history. This is just a step though, a baby step. For every hour the 100 watt light bulb has lit the faces of dreamers it has drawn on about 1/10th (one tenth) of a kWh (Kilowatt) of energy. Energy most likely forced from its source in coal, gas or atomic fission leaving a cloud of carbon or a mile of half-lives in their wake. This 1/10th of a kWh may seem insignificant on the surface, but when weighed in the atmosphere it comes in at a hefty .062 kilograms, just over a tenth of a pound (lb). This means that for every tenth of a kWh of light, a tenth of a pound of carbon emitted by a billion user’s soon adds up to 5,000 tons of carbon being emitted into the atmosphere. With trees and oceans reaching carbon saturation points, 40% of this carbon output now has nowhere to go but Continue Reading →

history may repeat itself but climate change is forever

As we turn into a New Year the news is replete with talk of recession, a return to soup lines, the mortgage crisis, interest rates and war. All of this is familiar territory to those who know their history. Even those who don’t can appreciate that as we move from an administration of fear into one of hope every attempt will be made to ensure history does not repeat itself. The problem however, is that recesssions and war pass but climate change is forever. The frontpage headlines scream about the collapse of the economy, but where is the news about the collapse of the very environment which holds it all together? We are pushing atmospheric carbon levels at 380 parts per million, we need to be at 350. If we don’t get down to that level by 2015 we will have reached a point of no return. This means that decisions made today will have effect for hundreds of years to come. Unlike the end of war from which rise new societies, unlike recesssion which births new markets, the climate has long lingering effects. The nature of climate change is such that the future cannot redeem the mistakes of history Continue Reading →

what is sustainability?

Let me start by saying what sustainability is not. Sustainability is not endless consumerism based on the pharmaceutical industry, plastic bags, traffic jams, war, clear cuts, chemicals, genetically modified food, rising sea levels, sweatshops, shopping malls, the homeless, power, oppression and the decimation of the natural world. Sustainability is also not earth shoes, organic eggs, hybrid cars, carbon credits, hemp clothing, a green Apple Mac book™, consumer co-ops, E85, B20, compact fluorescents, recycling bins or reusable shopping bags. All these byproducts of the consumer lifestyle are predicated on the natural world supplying resources. Capitalism goes shopping in the cavernous belly of mother earth seemingly blind to the fact that the store is running out. It then processes products through poorly paid nimble fingers and transports them across the planet to where they are momentarily owned before being tossed amongst all the other toxic waste that fills our rivers, lakes, air, bodies and homes. This is globalization on the move. Throw in an extra three billion people from China and India, sparkly eyed with the market beckoning, and we will need four more planets by 2050. Four more polluted and decimated planets ravished with toxicity, famine, heat waves, refugees, and war. Continue Reading →