“Green energy” and Amazon rain forests

People need to to read things like this before they ignorantly ramble about how great biofuels are.

At the bottom of page one it talks about the possibility of the Amazon rain forest turning into something like a savannah or even a desert. It wouldn’t be the first time human deforestation has caused a vital and robust forest into a desert-like area. You know all those references in the Bible to the cedars of Lebanon? Lebanon used to be absolutely COVERED in the things – massive, ancient trees. They grow in Lebanon, Cyprus, Turkey, and surrounding areas. Today on Cyprus, only small trees up to 25 m tall survive, though Pliny the Elder recorded cedars 40 m tall there. Because of massive deforestation, only small remnants of the once-extensive forests survive. Not only that, but due to hundreds of years of erosion much of the terrain in once-forested areas is now desertized. It took the ancients several millenia to deforest Lebanon… it may only take modern people a few decades to do the same in the Amazon.

It also just happens that deforestation currently accounts for 20% of the world’s carbon emissions – and deforesting the Amazon destroys one of the most important carbon sinks on the planet.

Even the junipers and the cedars of Lebanon
exult over you (the king of Babylon) and say,
“Now that you have been laid low,
no one comes to cut us down.” (Isaiah 14:8, TNIV)

This is not even to go into the potential effects on agriculture being diverted from food to fuel on the ability of the world’s poor to be able to feed themselves. As the article says, A UN food expert has recently called biofuels “a crime against humanity”. Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute says that biofuels “pit the 800 million people with cars against the 800 million people with hunger problems” – and that figure of 800 million has been predicted to increase to 1.2 billion in the wake of the growing use of agricultural products as fuel instead of food.

No type of “green consumption” is the answer. As one blogger from Portland, Oregon put it, we need to commit our allegiance to the story that will express God to the world around us.


Greetings from Nashville

I’ve just realized I’m going to have to accept the fact that computer problems are apparently a way of life for me. My wireless adapter broke, so I had to replace that, and then my cat chewed through the cord on my power source so I’m waiting for that to get shipped.

In happier news, I’m at the national Food Not Bombs gathering in Nashville, Tennessee trying to wake up my brain after only getting about 2 hours of sleep last night before the two sessions I’m presenting today. At noon I’m presenting “Anarchy at the Fringes of Capitalism: The visibility of anarchism and the ‘Hot Topic phenomenon'”, and at one I’m doing a presentation about Christianity and anarchism. I’ll try at some point in the near future to adapt my notes from the first presentation into a bloggable form to share it with y’all. In many ways it’s an expansion of past musings on what I called the “Hot Topic phenomenon” in a past blog post, that is to say the tendency of capitalism to appropriate artifacts from the fringes of society, create niche markets, and ultimately incorporate the products that make up the niche market into the mainstream. The main thrust is asking the question of how we are to engage those on the fringes of radical movements in order to authentically radicalize them, not to co-opt them and make them like us – instead, creating movements that grow from the needs of particular groups of people in concrete situations.

That’s all I have going on today, hopefully I’ll get my computer situation figured out soon so as to get back into a semi-regular blogging rhythm again.

Let’s hear it for the democratic process

Depending on which study one considers credible either 70% or 90+% of people in Indiana are opposed to construction of a new-terrain extension of I-69 from Indianapolis through southwestern Indiana. The major pocket of support is among business interests in the Evansville area.

This project is highly problematic for numerous reasons, including but not limited to its connection with NAFTA and globalization infrastructure (which will increase development of maquiladora factories in Mexico and increasingly undermine what little power labor has left in many American sectors, driving down prices of goods while simultaneously decreasing average people’s ability to purchase such goods), environmental problems (including the disruption of endangered bat habitats), depletion of usable farmland, budget problems (the budget has officially increased over 200% in the last five years, not counting an outside estimate that doubles THAT projected cost when figuring in increased fuel costs over the past three years), and other problems.

I-69 is a lie, and possibly a dangerous one at that if one factors in the fact that the road is being built in a somewhat geologically unstable area in parts of the state – a fact that can only be accounted for by geological survey features being deliberately obscured by or criminal ignorance on the part of those who are responsible for determining the route. In the Indiana University Kelley School of Business report that is being cited as reasons for why the highway is potentially economically beneficial, the proposed budget cost per job is over $500,000. This was before the official budget doubled twice and studies came out suggesting the budget as it stands now is too low. That’s $500,000 for every fast-food joint, convenience store, and crappy motel job along the route, a cost that is not likely to be returned any time soon.

I can provide sources for this material later, but I’m in between classes and have to scoot. The point of all this semi-coherent rambling is…

Today they began demolition along the route in Zone 1 in southwestern Indiana. There was legally-sufficient prior notice about the letting of construction permits (through a pdf buried in the BFE regions of INDOT’s web site), but they didn’t exactly go out of their way to let anyone know.

Three cheers for democracy!

For information about practical ways you can oppose this project, visit the Roadblock Earth First! website. This highway is not fully funded (not even close), can still be stopped, and should be fought on every available front.

Disclaimer: This author does not consider acts of violence against human beings to be legitimate forms of resistance. True liberation is liberating for the oppressors as well as the oppressed.

IDEM hearing on “fine particle matter”

You know, the kind that gets in your lungs and doesn’t come back out, that contributes heavily to cancer, emphysema, and other fun things. They want to make it easier for industrial pollution in the area to increase so we can breathe more of it – in an area that already compares with Los Angeles County in terms of air quality. Read on…

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management is petitioning the Environmental Protection Agency to designate our area (as well as others in Indiana) in attainment for PM2.5, the fine particle matter that gets deep into your lungs and doesn’t come back out.

You know, the kind that made the air unsafe to breathe on several occasions last year. The kind for which they call an Air Qualty Alert – but only when prompted by Valley Watch. We had a particulate alert as recently as December 31st but IDEM (and the Chamber of Commerce) think we need to clear the way for industries that will create more.

Tell ’em what you think:

Public Hearing: Southwestern Indiana Request for Redesignation and Maintenance Plan for Annual Fine Particles
When: Mar 27, 2008 5:30 PM – 9:00 PM CDT
Where: Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library, McCollough Branch, Multi-Purpose Room, 5115 Washington Avenue, Evansville, Indiana

MORE INFO HERE: http://www.in.gov/idem/programs/air/redesignations/evansville_area/evv_fine_notice.pdf

Copied from my friend Wendy. x-posted to my Livejournal.

Edit: apparently it’s somewhat of a fluke that information has gotten out this early. Usually they wait until really soon before these things to publicize them, probably so that people who actually want to see air quality monitored more properly won’t be able to drop everything in the span of 48 hours to attend the meeting… Even the environmental reporter at the Courier and Press hadn’t heard about this yet before Wendy called him. Hmmm…

Let us never forget that creation also has a voice… but in some forums it needs us to convey that voice to those who are unwilling to listen (sometimes even unwilling to listen to HUMAN voices, let alone nonhuman ones). And… if we do not listen to that voice… perhaps we will find that creation has a fist as well.

“What anarchism is not”

I must tell you, first of all, what anarchism is not. It is not bombs, disorder, or chaos. It is not robbery or murder. It is not a war of each against all. It is not a return to barbarianism or to the wild state of man. Anarchism is the very opposite of all that. — Alexander Berkman

Speaking engagements and new zine

I have a couple of confirmed speaking engagements coming up and another possible one.

“Jesus and the Anarchists”
Saturday, March 22
7 pm
ASC Infoshop
600 SE 2nd St. (upstairs from Penny Lane Coffeehouse)
Evansville, Indiana

“Sacred Anarchy: The Image of God and Political (Dis)Order”
Cornerstone Festival
Underground/Alternative Subcultures tent
Date and time not yet finalized (festival is June 30-July 5)

And I might do a session at the national Food Not Bombs gathering in Nashville, Tennessee.

In addition to speaking engagements, I’ve also written a zine based on my session from the Cynicism and Hope conference in Evanston, Illinois last November, as distilled through my article from Catapult Magazine later that month. If you download it here you may freely reproduce it without royalty as long as you either give it away or sell it at cost. If you wish to reproduce it for any other reason, or to sell it above cost to help support a collective, event, or other worthy cause, contact me and I’ll work with you. I also plan to have copies available when I do talks and the like. It is a 16-page pamphlet with two pages printed on each sheet of 8.5″ x 11″ paper, landscape orientation. I recommend printing on both sides of the paper both to save trees and space. I hope it’s helpful for you!

Radical Hope: Anarchism, Christianity, and the Prophetic Imagination

In other news, I did a nearly four-hour interview with Matt Dellinger of the New Yorker about I-69 and resistance for a book he’s working on. It won’t likely be out for quite some time, a couple of years at least, but if I’m still blogging at that point I’ll mention when it comes out.