New Clear Vision

constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted

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…)

Grief Without Borders

April 18, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Politics, Robert C. Koehler

This Is the Way the World Must Change…

by Robert C. Koehler

“She had a great sense of humor and freckles and red hair that brought her right to her Irish roots.”

She was “a dream daughter.”

I have a daughter, so maybe that’s why these words cut so deep.

This was a dad’s description of a young woman, Krystle Campbell, who was one of the three people killed in the Monday bombings at the Boston Marathon, with well over a hundred wounded, some critically. The bomb went off in the final stretch of the race — which had been dedicated to the victims of the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., four months earlier.

My God. Now another wound has opened in the social fabric. Another enormous question tears at our hearts. Once again we ask: Why? (more…)

We Are Better Than This

April 17, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Current Events, Erin Niemela

What Will It Take to Create a World Without Violence?

by Erin Niemela

Americans will remember Monday, April 15, 2013 as a day in which unspeakable violence took the lives of three people and wounded at least 153 after bombs exploded at the Boston Marathon finish line.  Thousands of miles away, Iraqis will remember this same Monday as a day in which violence claimed the lives of at least 31 people and over 200 injured after multiple car bombs detonated in Iraq’s capital, Baghdad, and several other areas.  Afghans will remember this Monday as a day in which a ghastly roadside bomb in the Zabul province killed seven and wounded four other human beings. These are the headlines, only for this particular Monday, and we can be sure some lost lives have yet to be reported.

We are better than this. (more…)

Our Planetary Home

March 25, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Jennifer Browdy

Becoming Part of Gaia’s Cure, Instead of What Ails Her

by Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

I will never forget one hot summer day when I was about eight years old, and a Monarch butterfly took it into its head to land on my arm and delicately lick up my sweat with its long, probing tongue.

Gaia callingI froze, wanting the Monarch to stay with me as long as possible, and watched with total fascination and delight as it balanced on my warm brown skin and enjoyed the salty treat I had to offer.

Eventually, with a graceful swish of its elegant wings, it rose up in the air and twirled off to land on a nearby stand of sweet-smelling pink milkweed flowers.

I felt blessed by the encounter, and ever after, when I see a Monarch I approach cautiously and respectfully proffer my arm, hoping to feel again the light touch of those fragile black legs and tiny tongue.

My childhood connection with Monarchs came to mind this week as I read the deeply disturbing news that “the number of monarch butterflies that completed an annual migration to their winter home in a Mexican forest sank this year to its lowest level in at least two decades, due mostly to extreme weather and changed farming practices in North America.” (more…)

Pump Fiction

March 08, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Economy, Randall Amster

We’re Not Going to Drill, Dig, or Frack Our Way Out of This Mess…

by Randall Amster

We have entered a critical era for the future of humanity on this planet, and the stakes are indeed as high as whether there will be anything left for those who come next. In the period of expansive consumer growth following World War II, and then again with another quantum leap in the age of globalization and digitization, humankind has been collectively taxing the planet’s carrying capacity and altering basic processes that have sustained our existence for eons. At this juncture, we cannot simply go back to a more pristine time (real or imagined), and the question of where we go from here is an open and urgent one.

Unfortunately, elite interests of both the national and multinational varieties are already in the process of making this all-important decision for us. Rather than reconsidering the profligate lifestyles and extractive mindsets that have pushed us to the brink, the profit-seeking powers that be are doubling down on their efforts to procure every last usable penny’s worth from the planet in short order. (more…)