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Tragic History

March 24, 2014 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Ecology, Walt Anderson

A Naturalist’s Reflections on the Yarnell Fire

by Walt Anderson

Nine months after the tragic Yarnell Hill Fire on June 30, 2013, the event continues to touch many of us with a rawness only slightly softened by time.  My memories remain vivid.  With thunderstorm activity developing in the Prescott area that afternoon, Cactus cross, a burn survivorI grabbed my camera and headed out to the Doce Fire area south of Granite Mountain.  Fierce little rain squalls gave me subjects to explore visually.  The powdered ash deposits post-fire are very vulnerable to erosion, a step in the ecologic process I wanted to capture.

Then as a squall shifted south, I could see in the distance a column of smoke that caused my hair to rise — it appeared to me that the small town of Yarnell was on fire.  Without hesitation, I leaped into the car and shot toward Skull Valley, having to slow down once in the midst of an intense downpour.  The closer I got to Peeple’s Valley, the more my concern intensified, and I made a decision that gave me a perfect vantage point on a ridge north of the fire.  If I had continued any farther down the highway, I would have been stopped by emergency vehicles and stuck in a line of other cars prohibited from moving farther. (more…)

Succession

October 28, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Victor Postnikov

Toward Harmonious and Stable Co-Existence

by V.I. Postnikov

Loitering the central streets of my native town, Kiev, where I had lived for 63 years, I involuntarily examine the passers-by.  Gosh, how changed the appearance of citizens! I notice some subspecies that I never met before — such as a subspecies of managers — short-Imagehaired young people in white shirts, a subspecies of guards — stern-looking lads with bull’s napes,  a subspecies of builders — lads from other towns. The old age people are rarely seen on the streets.  I peer at the faces, hoping to recognize familiar ones. But no, no way, they are all long gone.  The species, the environment have changed irrevocably. Sad, but true.

In ecology, there is the concept of “succession,”  an important term which explains serial mutability of a species and its habitat. William R. Catton, Jr., in his classic book Overshoot, shows how this principle works in the human environment [1].  To understand the succession in human society, it is useful to first consider nature’s succession. (more…)

Making Peace with War

October 15, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Politics, Robert C. Koehler

The Time Has Come…

by Robert C. Koehler

What if we had politicians who believed in the abolition of war with as much passion as the Republican right believes in the abolition of taxes?

For me, the question that immediately follows is: What kind of politics draws power from resources other than the deep pockets of billionaires? Just because the world is sick of war, how will that ever translate into serious political action to defund standing armies and ongoing weapons research? How will it ever cohere into a consensus that has political traction? Does Washington, D.C. only have room for one consensus?

For the Democrats to stand moderately tough against GOP right-wing zealots in defense of the Affordable Care Act, Medicare and Social Security, there’s no way they could also — even if they wanted to — stand tough on, let us say, nuclear disarmament or a movement toward demilitarization. Such concepts aren’t on or anywhere near the fabled “table” of national debate; they’re as marginalized as segregated restrooms. This is a deep problem from the point of view of anyone looking clear-eyed into the future. (more…)

Responsible Designs

August 22, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Angola 3 News, Politics

Saying No to the Architecture of Solitary Confinement and Cruelty

by Angola 3 News

Friday, August 16 marked the 40th consecutive day of a multi-ethnic statewide prisoner hunger strike initiated from inside the Security Housing Unit (SHU) of California’sPelican Bay State Prison. When the strike first began on July 8, the ‘California Department of Corrections and Reform’ (CDCR) reported 30,000 participants statewide, which the Los Angeles Times reported “could be the largest prison protest in state history.”

This week, as the striking prisoners’ health continued to worsen, the families of prisoners and supporters gathered on the steps of the State Capitol building in Sacramento, and over 120 health professionals called “upon Governor Jerry Brown and Jeffrey Beard, Secretary of the CDCR, to immediately enter into good-faith negotiations with the prisoner representatives, and to respond to their demands, in order to end this crisis before lives are lost.”

The current hunger strike follows on the heels of a similar 2011 strike that was also initiated from the Pelican Bay SHU, with the same five demands. Further illustrating the scandalous nature of California’s prison system, this month the US Supreme Court ruling once again that 10,000 prisoners must be removed from state prisons, and documentation has emerged of widespread sterilization of California’s female prisoners. (more…)

Landscape Lunacy

August 16, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Ecology, Walt Anderson

Reflections on Hubris, Mythology, and the Need for Ecological Literacy

by Walt Anderson

29 June 2013.  Prescott, Arizona.  At Granite Mountain, eleven days after the eruption of the big Doce Fire, the smoke has cleared — mostly.  There are still hot pockets (inedible ones) with potential for flames to rise from the ashes and run amok again.  Mother Nature teases us with clouds trailing virga — and even a few drops of liquid that reach the ground — but the hot winds accompanying the clouds continue their mischief, and dry lightning ignites new blazes around the county.  A microburst (sorry, not an artisan brew) takes down trees in town and starts a fire.  The firefighters are still out there at the mountain, and aircraft drone overhead on their missions of attempted control.  But for most of us, the adrenalin has subsided; our fears have receded.

30 June 2013.  One of those fires started two days ago happened to be in Yarnell, and today it erupted into the disastrous fire that took the lives of 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, the same folks who fought the Doce Fire and, in the process, saved the sacred ancient juniper that may have watched the comings and goings of wildfire for millennia. (more…)

Indefinite Enemies

May 13, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Politics, Robert C. Koehler

Looking at the Humanity of Others

by Robert C. Koehler

You’re strapped to a metal table, unable to move. They stick a two-foot plastic tube up your nose, then down the back of your throat into your stomach. They squirt in the liquid protein. You gag, bleed, vomit. It’s unbearably painful.

The practice of involuntary force-feeding is condemned by most medical organizations, including the AMA. It’s banned by most governments. It’s torture.

When I read about the process by which authorities are breaking the hunger strike at the Guantanamo Bay detention center — a process that’s also used regularly in U.S. federal prisons, by the way — I was struck by the utter efficiency of it. The “food” is transmitted directly from bureaucracy to digestive system, bypassing the consciousness of the individual hunger striker. The human being inhabiting this body is completely irrelevant; he only dies when we say so.

Just think about how powerful we are. Just think about how secure we are.

In the overall context of the war on terror and the harm it has unleashed on the world, the Guantanamo hunger strike, involving 100 of the 166 detainees still being held at the facility — about two dozen of whom are now being force-fed — is a fairly small matter, perhaps. But the symbolic significance of it is beyond description, not only because of the hatred it foments against the United States and the combatants it recruits, but also because of the obvious common decency and common sense it flouts. (more…)

A Tale of Two Tragedies

April 23, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Guest Author, Politics

Extending Our Compassion Beyond the News of the Day

by Mike Ferner

On April 15, 29 year-old Krystle Campbell, Lu Lingzi, 23 and Martin Richard, 8, left home to watch runners cross the finish line in the Boston Marathon.  They and their families thought they would return that day as always.  But they never did.  As the world now knows, Krystle, Lu and Martin were killed and 170 other people were shattered by bombs that day.

Also in Massachusetts, Giuseppe Cracchiola and David Frank, Sr. went to work on January 28, as did Jose Roldan the following day.  They and their families thought they would come home that night as always.  But they never did. (more…)


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