The NYT Magazine recently featured an article about ecopsychology. This is a topic I am very interested in, because a large source of my distress comes from witnessing the degradation of the natural environment here on Earth. It's so sad to see what humanity is doing to the planet and the living systems of this wonderful world.
Here's a link to the article and an excerpt. This article doesn't say it all, but it's nice to see ecopsychology get some recognition in the mainstream. It's also a decent starting point for learning about the field:
Is There an Ecological Unconscious?
Daniel B. Smith
What if our society was rational? A couple of aspects that it would make sense to change would be to use a soli-lunar calendar, and to get rid of the change between daylight savings time and standard time.
Here's a song/video I love. Jodi Mitchell, Shine:
So, what IS that scent you are wearing? There are no laws requiring the manufacturers of perfumes and other scented products to inform you of their ingredients. When byproducts form by combining them, they don’t have to tell consumers that either.
In the US the word "fragrance" on your ingredients list can be up to 200 undisclosed chemicals, from a pool of 2000, that do not have to be tested for safety. In fact, many of them are known to cause health problems.
It is no wonder that 30% of Americans have reactions ranging from noticeable to debilitating to such products and other chemicals. An estimated 4-6% of these people are forced to change their daily lives dramatically due to severe sensitivity to chemicals. These people suffer an invisible illness, that recieves little recognition. Acknowledgement would point the finger at the big business of chemical production and use, and there are 80,000 chemicals in products used by Americans every day.
Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, or MCS, is a disability that causes individuals to react to even the lowest levels of toxics because of previous chemical exposure. New exposures do not "bother" but further "injure" those with prior chemical injury.
Inundated with pollutants and toxins it is impossible for those affected with MCS to carry on their lives as usual. This includes family and friends. If they want to assist in the better health and maintain a relationship with their loved one, they must make the neccessary changes of eliminating such products from their environment.
Those who develop this lowered tolerance are often industrial workers, occupants in "tight" buildings, residents from contaminated communities, war veterans and individuals with personal exposures to chemicals in a world growing more toxic.
I want to remind everyone again about the great coverage from Copenhagen provided by Democracy Now! - Please consider checking out the last two week's of shows.
Here's a segment from an interview with Vandana Shiva, by Amy Goodman, from a few days ago.
VANDANA SHIVA: I think it’s time for the US to stop seeing itself as a donor and recognizing itself as a polluter, a polluter who must pay, a polluter who must pay compensation and pay their ecological debt. This is not about charity. This is about justice.
I've probably posted this before. But this is one of my favorite videos. A terrific speech by Severn Suzuki, daughter of author David Suzuki. Check it out.
Teenager Severn Suzuki addresses the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Brazil. She presents a powerful argument and a powerful request for representatives of the world's nations to take seriously the harm that human societies and economic activities are doing to the planet.
"At school, even in kindergarten, you teach us how to behave in the world. You teach us to not fight with others, to work things out, to respect others, to clean up our mess, not to hurt other creatures, to share - not be greedy: then why do you go out and do the things you tell us not to do?" Severn Suzuki
After the Poor People's Candidates Forum last week, I wrote a letter to the Candidates in order to ask them some questions. I wanted to ask them during the forum, but my thoughts weren't as clear as I would have liked, and I was kind of worked up about it. I was trying to compose my question, and I was having trouble listening to the questions people were asking as well as the responses from the Candidates. I kept feeling a very strong and burning nervous sensation whenever I looked in the direction of the front of the room where the Candidates were sitting...
One of Susan Sarandon's favorite bumper stickers is, "Speak your truth, even if your voice shakes." So, in resonance with the spirit of that idea, I wrote the candidates. I will post the original letter below for reference. But I want to preface it with some more thoughts, perhaps to clarify the intent and the message of the original letter. I was originally thinking of posting the Candidates' responses, but upon second thought, I have decided against doing that. I think that this may be not the appropriate forum to deal with this subject matter in that way. Nonetheless, a big Thank YOU to those of you who did respond (although I'm not going to name names now, here on OlyBlog.) I learned a lot from your responses.
This is video from the October 2, 2007 City of Olympia sponsored Climate Change Forum.
I want to especially draw your attention to the great words of Terry Tempest Williams, who speaks at about 37 minutes into the program. Please check out this video!
Commissioner Goldmark has an editorial that appeared in yesterday's Seattle Times. Here's a link to that editorial, and a few choice excerpts:
Tough choices in the recovery of Puget Sound
by Peter Goldmark
Throughout Washington, people understand that the waters of Puget Sound carry great value. Whether your ancestors have fished here for centuries or you have newly arrived in the region, you know the importance of a clean, healthy Puget Sound.
Past policies and decisions illustrate a value system that I believe is not representative of the broader public. It places singular interests above the public good; elevates narrow, short-term benefits for a few over long-term, sustainable benefits for many; and sacrifices our natural heritage. This infectious short-sightedness will be the slow death of the Sound.
I have five grown children, and when they were toddlers it was never a challenge for them to tell me or their mother, "no." They learned this word from their parents attempting to keep them from harm. Somehow over time that word has vanished from our collective vocabulary, as a region and a state, when we are talking about the tough choices necessary to prevent damaging uses on Puget Sound.
What we are witnessing is death by a thousand cuts. It has been all too easy to allow new uses with a slight impact on the health of this tremendous body of water and the orca and salmon that call it home. Far too much is at stake to continue on this path. We need to raise the bar immediately.
Earlier tonight I was watching part of a presentation given to the Tumwater City Council about the situation with Capitol Lake. It was an interesting program. The presenters were very informative and encouraging. The science behind the issues is compelling. The presentation included data regarding water quality. It also covered also how restoration of the Deschutes River Estuary would be beneficial for the water quality of Budd Inlet.
What struck me most was discussion of the role that nutrients play in harming water quality. Most of the time nutrients are considered good. Nutrients provide for life. But here's where we get to see how human activities come into play. Human beings produce a lot of nutrients. We're good at it. But instead of treating the nutrient product of our biological process as an asset, we treat it as a liability. We treat it as waste. We flush it down the toilet.
In the case of nutrients having detrimental effects on water quality, two of the main actors are phosphorus and nitrogen. Phosphorus has a bigger impact on fresh water. Nitrogen has a bigger impact on salt water. The presentation went into a considerable amount of detail on this. It would be worth watching if you have access to cable.
The Evergreen State College’s thousand-acre campus features miles of trails, a half mile of beach on Puget Sound, wetlands, forests and even an organic farm. The farm is used to teach a broad range of courses such as small-scale organic agriculture, ethnobotany, visual arts, beekeeping, forest ecology, and ecological agriculture.