New Clear Vision

constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted
Subscribe

Local Green Activism

October 16, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Jay Walljasper

Save the Planet, Starting on Your Own Block

by Jay Walljasper

After 40 years of what felt like progress in protecting our environment, the ecological crisis now seems to be worsening. Climate change, caused by greenhouse gas emissions, is heating up. The massive exploitation of the tar sands in Canada might be the tipping point, from which we can never return. Fracking for natural gas and oil threatens underground water supplies. The oceans are being massively over-fished. Species extinction is accelerating.

The global commons faces massive threats no one could have dreamed on the first Earth Day back in 1970. What are we to do?

Obviously we need to address these mounting global crises — vocally and determinedly over the long term. But it’s also time to take a look around our own communities.

While we generally think of Greens rallying to save rain forests, coral reefs, deserts and other faraway tracts of wilderness, that’s just one aspect of saving the Earth. It’s also crucial to work together with neighbors on important projects in our own backyard. (more…)

Lethal Artificial Surfaces

February 07, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Economy, Jan Lundberg

Countering a Pervasive, Abominable Disgrace

by Jan Lundberg

The artificial environment hasn’t yet been questioned by environmentalists. They accept it pretty much as is — they and it are wedded to the notions of progress, science, and “Better living through chemistry” (Dupont’s old slogan appropriated by acid-head Imagehippies). When a grassroots wing of the environmental movement went after road building and pavement (tarmac) two decades ago, it was quite fringy for mainstream enviros. Then when we went after plastics a decade ago, this too was considered “out there,” and kept low on the list of concerns for the average campaigner.

Fortunately, both plastics and endless road building — and even depaving — are by now familiar issues that are at least visible. However, they address the uncomfortable and almost taboo problem of lifestyle. Cars, the petroleum infrastructure (e.g., plastics and lubricants in vast quantities) and economic growth have not been fully challenged by environmentalists. Western Civilization is based on never-ending expansion — at best a questionable idea — yet, some of our finest minds such as NASA’s James Hansen uphold the legacy of civilization as the main reason to stop sea-level rise. (more…)

Organic Food for Thought

September 10, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Ecology, Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

We Eat By the Grace of Nature, Not By the Grace of Monsanto

by Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

“Organic, schmorganic,” fumes New York Times columnist Roger Cohen sarcastically in an article entitled “The Organic Fable.”

He bases his sweeping dismissal of the organic foods movement on a new Stanford University study claiming that “fruits and vegetables labeled organic are, on average, no more nutritious than their cheaper conventional counterparts.”

Cohen does grant that “organic farming is probably better for the environment because less soil, flora and fauna are contaminated by chemicals…. So this is food that is better ecologically even if it is not better nutritionally.”

But he goes on to smear the organic movement as an elitist, pseudoscientific indulgence shot through with hype. (more…)

Slow Democracy

August 16, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, David Swanson, Politics

Rediscovering Community and Bringing Decision-Making Back Home

by David Swanson

Susan Clark and Woden Teachout’s new book, Slow Democracy: Rediscovering Community, Bringing Decision Making Back Home (Chelsea Green, 2012), offers the civil equivalent to slow food. The goal of both is not slowness for its own sake, but quality, health, sustainability, and the pursuit of happiness.

We all know that the federal government ignores us most of the time, state governments nod in our direction once in a blue moon, and local governments listen to us quite often. So, there is an argument to be made for moving decision-making powers to the local level and engaging there.

The focus of Clark and Teachout’s book is on how to engage with local democracy, and toward what ends. Adversarial campaigning may not work. What gets you on television at a Congressional “town hall” could just alienate your neighbors at a real town hall. A deeper understanding of democracy than just the desire for Washington, D.C., to follow majority opinion once in a while involves the realization that we are all better off if all of our viewpoints are considered. We all know that in small discussions the result can be greater than the sum of its parts. The same is true in local politics. New ideas can arise through exchange and disagreement; a synthesis that considers the needs of more than one group can be better for all, longer-lasting, and strengthened by the depth of its public support. (more…)

A Single Step

June 14, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Ecology, Economy, Randall Amster

From Destabilizing the Biosphere to Restabilizing Our Relationships

by Randall Amster

There’s been a lot written in recent years about the concept of “global warming,” which is actually a misnomer in some ways; while the planet as a whole may be warming, the distribution of changes is not even throughout the system. In order to more accurately reflect the situation, many use the phrase “climate change” instead, intended to express the idea that it isn’t just about the net temperature increase of the planet but the rampant alterations in weather patterns as a whole.

Even this linguistic amendment, however, hasn’t fully addressed the issue, and still leads to counterarguments of the sort that insist the planet’s climate systems are always changing and that they behave cyclically regardless of human contributions. (more…)

The Oracle Says…

May 18, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Mary Sojourner

“We Told You So…”

by Mary Sojourner

Spring 1973, Atlanta. My lover was a professor of psychology, a man more familiar with suburban angst and tenure and fretting about interest rates rather than whether the month is going to outlast the income. I was thirty-three, had lived with my three kids in communes for six years; started food co-ops and collective day care centers; and had seen my friends lug their hand-thrown pots, hand-dipped candles, and hand-woven shawls to craft fairs and tiny stores in the heart of the dying city in which I lived.

“You’re going to love this,” he said. “Underground Atlanta! It’s the next phase of what you and your friends have been creating.”

We descended by escalator into an inferno of neon and charm. “Dear God,” I said to my lover, “may you be wrong.” We were surrounded by chain boutiques, chain craft shops, chain yogurt stands, and what were then called fern bars — cutesy joints with fake antiques on their walls and menus some think tank had designed. (more…)

The Split

January 20, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Ecology, Mary Sojourner

A Self and Nation Divided

by Mary Sojourner

“Hatred keeps on increasing to a point where both you and I burn ourselves in mutual hatred, and to the Buddha the only way to solve it is that one party must stop…” — Ananda W. P. Guruge,  in Awakenings: Asian Wisdom for Every Day (eds. D. and O. Folimi)

In April 2001, I was on a solo road trip researching Nevada light, sage basins, indigo mountains, and small town casinos for my novel Going Through Ghosts. I had stopped in a convenience store for coffee and yakked with the young clerk. She had told me there was a warm spring in a nearby cottonwood grove. “Don’t tell anybody where it is,” she said.  “It’s for locals only. We take care of it.”

Nine years later to the month, I slid back into that silken water. Soft desert sunlight gleamed on the cottonwoods’ new leaves.  I listened to the whisper of the old trees and the silvery rill of water trickling into a series of pools below me.  The locals had continued to take care of the place. They’d reinforced the crumbling cinderblock walls around the spring.  They had set up a bright red battered barbecue grill beneath the biggest cottonwood and a sign that read: Please clean up after yourself. Thank you. (more…)