New Clear Vision

constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted

Stewards and Balancers

October 01, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Guest Author

Respecting Nature’s Limits Is the Solution

by Aaron Guthrie Lehmer-Chang

Last month, The New York Times published a fantastical piece on human exceptionalism entitled “Overpopulation Is Not the Problem,” in which author Erle C. Ellis claimed that human societies have no limits to their growth. That’s right — limits are merely an illusion. Expansion über alles! That’s our species’ birthright, and rightful destiny.

“There really is no such thing as a human carrying capacity,” writes Ellis, castigating those of us concerned with ecological limits as believers that humans are little different than “bacteria in a petri dish.” Perhaps even more outlandishly, Ellis goes on to state that “[t]he idea that humans must live within the natural environmental limits of our planet denies the realities of our entire history, and most likely the future.” Who’s history exactly?

As an associate professor of geography and environmental systems at the University of Maryland, Ellis should know better. Unless he steered clear of the stacks of thoughtful volumes available to him on the rise and fall of past civilizations, he would surely have encountered chronicle after chronicle of societies that faced progressively daunting ecological challenges, and which plummeted in population as a result. (more…)

Things Have to Change

July 12, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Economy, Jan Lundberg, Politics

Understanding the Worsening Vibe of Violence in the U.S.

by Jan Lundberg

It certainly feels to me more peaceful and convivial in Germany and Holland, for example, than in the U.S. Aside from the oft-heard complaint of the U.S. as a crime-ridden and crazy place, here are three factors out of several offered in this article that contribute to significant cultural and physical-environment differences:

Image* The threat of physical violence posed by police and associated agencies that can instill fear without even making direct contact with civilians. * Job-insecurity and obsession about money for survival and self-image. * The car-oriented infrastructure that makes most streets potential death zones for pedestrians and bicyclists, not to mention creating ugly urban blight. (Not necessarily listed in order of importance.)

There appears to be more shocking police brutality in the U.S. than before, with more focus by alternative media outlets. Conventional news reporters tend to downplay police crimes because the police are important sources for news stories. But regardless, violence by police, sociopaths killing random crowds, and rising suicides are but symptoms of a society looking more like a madhouse than anywhere else besides war zones. (more…)

Planetary Emergency

May 28, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Kent Shifferd

‘We Need to Invent a New Way of Life’

by Kent Shifferd

We humans are facing a perfect storm of crises of our own making that could bring a sudden and ugly end to the way of life we have known, but we are not paying attention.

We are all focused on small things — our jobs, the fate of our favorite sports team, the price of gas, the latest clothing fad, the newest app for our smartphone.  For most of us our view is too limited, too narrow and too confined to the present moment. We are looking down at our feet when we should be looking up and outward to the future. We are happily oblivious to the one big thing that will determine our fate. Without realizing it, we stand on the brink of a planetary emergency brought on by our pride and our ignorance. (more…)

Of Uncertain Futures

February 23, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Ecology, Economy, Jan Lundberg

As We Are Not Yet One…

by Jan Lundberg

As the modern age accelerates its downward spiral toward an uncertain outcome, we are divided in our outlooks and fears.  Yet, if we examine them, and if enough of us have a dialogue resulting in action, we might discover our apparent weaknesses in such a way to make us stronger.

More “haves” than ever sense an uncertain future, mainly that of becoming have-nots.  But when haves admit that deeper threats are getting close to engulfing humanity — ecological deterioration, famine over rising energy prices and water shortage — the future appears downright doubtful.

The have-nots have fears about the future too, but rarely about becoming haves.  That was so ’60s. The uncertain future of non-rich, insecure people can appear to them to be limited to severe lack of money.  But knowledge of ecological collapse and resource shortages are also appreciated by many of the poor, thereby putting almost all people in the same boat (today or very soon). (more…)

The Spiritual Jackpot

December 15, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Economy, Robert C. Koehler

Transforming Western Culture with Indigenous Consciousness

by Robert C. Koehler

The topic was “Indians of the Midwest” and the professor was knowledgeable and conveyed serious respect for Native culture, but something kept gnawing at me as she talked.

There are two types of Indian stereotypes, she said — the negative (the ignorant savage, the abductor of white women, etc.) and the romantic (woo-woo, New Agey, let’s play Indian, “go ’Skins!”) — and left it at that, implying, OK, if you are non-Native, the best attitude to strike is a certain respectful distance, neither denigrating the culture nor seizing hold of it like an idiot. If you want more, attend lectures and look at the artifacts on display behind glass cases, but DO NOT TOUCH. (more…)

Everybody Get Together

November 30, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Ecology, Economy, Jan Lundberg

The Challenge of Unity Amidst Economic Crisis and the End of Growth

by Jan Lundberg

An error of the Occupy movement might come back to haunt us all after possible short-term victories. Identifying and vilifying the extremely wealthy class is not a solution in itself. While it is important to realize the truth of income disparity and address its causes, no one seems to have a realistic program to take back almost all the wealth of “the 1%” and reorganize society to share it.

In my previous essay I showed how today’s inflated, vast monetary wealth is false and will disappear, and that it cannot be redistributed under our form of economy when its entire foundation is sinking. A political solution for eradicating gross inequity is too late for successful reform, without overhauling the culture, when collapse is in charge and “nature bats last.” (more…)

Connecting the Web

August 24, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Economy, Jan Lundberg

Meeting the Real Planetary Crisis

by Jan Lundberg

Anyone paying attention to the world today encounters shocking, saddening alerts. But these don’t bring on a strong enough sense of alarm to all humanity. The sense is getting stronger, but it seems that revolts are not rising fast enough to steer events. Particularly in the U.S., we let events overtake us. Perhaps the alarms and outrages are most easily appreciated by traditional peoples close to the land and seas.

A new report estimates that a least twenty percent of all known mammals are nearing extinction, with large species at greatest risk. By many indicators, our life-support system is short-circuiting or burning out, and it makes the news often enough to alert everyone who’s not sleepwalking. Somehow this news pales for the average person compared to stresses over job-search or overworking. (more…)