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On Sunday I reported to my SolSeed colleagues and various relatives on the trip I took to Biosphere 2 last month, at the end of a two-week vacation that mostly involved visiting relatives in California and Las Vegas.

On Monday I found out I’ve been accepted into the Pachamama Alliance’s Game Changer Intensive program, which will supposedly require 3 hours per week for seven weeks starting at the end of March. Whether this will help me get over my aversion to seeking leadership roles in activism remains to be seen.

On Monday evening I attended a meeting of WAmend, the coalition that formed a couple years back (thanks largely to the efforts of the Get Money Out of Politics working group of Occupy Seattle) to pass a resolution in Washington State supporting a pro-campaign-finance-regulation and anti-corporate-personhood amendment to the U.S. Constitution. This year’s initiative campaign is just getting off the ground, but looks like it has a much better chance of success than last year’s, which failed to collect enough signatures to get on the ballot. This time we’re better organized and will have much more time to collect the signatures, since we’re targeting the 2016 election.

On Tuesday evening I went to a talk at Seattle Town Hall by Denis Hayes, founder of Earth Day, talking about humanity’s (and especially Americans’) love affair with cows, and proposing we aim to cut national beef consumption to about half its current level. In response to my question about the opposing extreme claims of the Savory Institute and the Worldwatch Institute about livestock’s impact on the climate crisis, Hayes and his wife took the middle ground, supporting the UN’s numbers on their current impact (14-16% of emissions rather than Worldwatch’s 51%) and asserting that using livestock to draw down gigatons of carbon is “crazy,” although Savory’s grazing methods are hugely beneficial in other respects.

On Wednesday I left work early for an abbreviated Democracy School program from the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (four hours instead of the usual 1-3 days). The presenter, Kai Huschke, described CELDF’s view of the legal “box” that supposedly prevents activists from ever succeeding in blocking destructive corporate projects, and laid out their plan for local community ordinances that “break out of the box,” state constitutional amendments to make those ordinances legal, and ultimately a partial rewrite of the U.S. Constitution to favor the rights of people, communities, and nature over those of corporations. (Unsurprisingly, a WAmend member was in attendance and passed around a sign-up sheet for volunteers.) Kai emphasized that the campaign would likely take decades, just like past efforts to expand people’s rights (particularly the abolitionist and women’s suffrage movements), which he observed were always followed by a “spring back” toward centralization of power. But he also said we don’t have time for an “incrementalist” approach because “the climate is collapsing.” This seeming contradiction, plus the fact that I carpooled to and from the event with two fellow volunteers for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, which has in fact worked within the system to block over 150 destructive corporate projects (coal-fired power plants) and schedule over 180 existing ones to be shut down, only reinforced my conviction that abolishing corporate rights can’t be a prerequisite for solving the global climate crisis.

On Thursday evening, during the SolSeed online work bee, I wrote an email to author Steven Wolfe (which I had been meaning to do for months) asking why his novel, set in 1992 and partly in Tucson, and supporting the concept of Gaia giving birth to new worlds, didn’t mention Biosphere 2 once. He responded the same evening, saying he supported Biosphere 2 and had even said so on his blog, but the idea of including it in his book just hadn’t occurred to him.

This morning I woke up at 5 after a crazy semi-lucid dream about living in a Mars colony that was “invaded” by giant aliens who gave us peanut butter and wanted us to make movies about them. The only reason I’m currently making time to write a blog entry is because I gave up on falling back asleep. I really need to do something about my worsening insomnia.

Tonight I’ll be making matters slightly worse by going to a birthday party for my author/activist friend Saab in Edmonds, from which I likely won’t get home until 11:30. Then tomorrow I’m attending a legislative town hall event at Redmond City Hall, where I’ll hopefully get the chance to ask my state reps a question about the bill currently in process that would have Puget Sound Energy and other Washington State utilities stop using coal-fired power from Montana and replace it with renewable energy.

My alarm goes off in a few minutes, so I don’t really have time to go into depth on “what it all means,” but the headline is clear: I’m diving back into activism even though I still think we’re probably all doomed.

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There's a difference between rationality and reason, and I believe the Age of Rationality may be coming to an end. Hopefully, what replaces it will be a new chapter in the larger Age of Reason, what I like to call the Age of Sense, in which people will be sensible enough to act with the long-term consequences of their actions in mind. This may go against our immediate rational interests, but is certainly not essentially unreasonable, even when some of the consequences will only occur after the "sensible actor" is dead.

This is all very difficult, of course, but not impossible. After all, humans are mammals, and mammals care for their offspring. This is one of several important factors that the abstract "rational actor" model of self-interested behavior favored by most economists leaves out. In fact, if economists were willing to look at people as living things rather than economic automatons, they might see the implications of the drive to reproduce for any organism: the organism doesn't just want what's best for itself, but what's best for its descendents and, to some extent, for its entire species as well.
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A completely ridiculous analysis of the environmental themes in the Decemberween issue of Teen Girl Squad on Homestarrunner.com

After her three friends have jumped into a lion's mouth to get their Decemberween presents, What's-Her-Face says "I'm vegan," which in this case clearly indicates not that she doesn't eat animals but rather that she doesn't want to be eaten by an animal. But the author of the comic doesn't let her escape death so easily, as she is immediately crushed under a "wave o' babies," which clearly represents the problem of overpopulation.

Thus What's-Her-Face, consistently the odd one out in this comic (see esp. issues #3 and #5), is clearly cast here as an environmentalist. Further evidence of this can be obtained by observing that What's-Her-Face, by refusing to take a risk for material gain, is rejecting basic capitalist values, another trait common to environmentalists. The other three teen girls are good capitalists, as we know from the trip to the mall in issue #3; in the Decemberween issue, after being swallowed whole, they appear to be happy with their place in the belly of the beast.

The message here is clearly that if we refuse to accept short-term dangers like the lion (or like converting our economy to use renewable energy sources), the long-term threats will get us. Thus, perversely enough, the other three girls turn out to have a better environmental plan than What's-Her-Face. And if you believe any of that, I've got a bridge in Strong Badia to sell you.

March 2015

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