New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


Fire on the Mountain

June 24, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Walt Anderson

Burning Desires and Incendiary Thoughts

by Walt Anderson

Hot winds batter the landscape, sucking whatever moisture they can coax from desiccated plants.  Record-breaking temperatures challenge the survival skills of wildlife, as they and we wait for the merciful monsoonal rains, should they come in a month.  We wait 1  Little Granite Mountain, Doce Fire_17 (Large)and watch, knowing that the first plume of smoke to rise skyward could create a blazing inferno defying our feeble but expensive efforts to limit the damage.

And then it happens.  June 18, 2013, starts out as a typical central Arizona early-summer day — vivid blue skies unlike one ever sees in humid coastal areas, stiff breezes to cool one off (or dry one out) as temperatures reach 90.  After running morning errands, I return home for lunch.  Out of the corner of my eye, I see what appear to be clouds — curious!  And then there it is — that dreaded, rising column of multicolored smoke signaling a wildfire at the worst possible time of year.  I drop everything and race out the door with my camera.  This trumps everything else.  (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…)

Traditional Agriculture

May 24, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Economy, Evaggelos Vallianatos

Reclaiming Our Farmland from the Rural Oligarchy

by Evaggelos Vallianatos

Traditional agriculture was the mother of human culture and societies. Small farmers raised food and created organized societies and Large carrot field, Coachella Valley, southern California. (Photo: Evaggelos Vallianatos)states. In ancient Greece, small farmers invented democracy and the polis. They also defended the state. Xenophon, an Athenian general, a student of Socrates, and philosopher of late fifth century BCE, praised agriculture as the mother of all the arts and sciences and civilization.(1)

However, the fall of the Greeks and the Romans and the following Dark Ages transformed agriculture more to the liking of plantation owners who worked the land with slaves. Then the nineteenth-century “industrial” revolution added mechanical power to the plantation and, thus, the industrialized version of agriculture came into being. This is a mechanical powerhouse that has been remaking modern science and society to serve the interests of large landowners and industrialists. The damage of this monstrous institution has been monumental, even threatening the survival of the Earth. (more…)

Sowing Knowledge

March 26, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Evaggelos Vallianatos

What I Tell My Students…

by Evaggelos Vallianatos

I have taught sporadically at several universities. My latest teaching is at Pitzer College that prides itself for its liberal and environmental values.

I focus on the politics of agriculture, shedding light on an invisible giant making America on its image.

This is not the agriculture of Thomas Jefferson with the small family farmer all over the country. Rather this is the agriculture of big business. This is the agriculture that has sent rural America to oblivion, industrializing the countryside and, along with it, farming and food. And, yet, it remains out there, unspoken, beyond the daily discourse. (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…)

The Natural World

February 05, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Ecology, Evaggelos Vallianatos

From Abuse and Fear to Serving the Public Good

by Evaggelos Vallianatos

When I lived in Alexandria, Virginia, my home was near the Holmes Run Creek in the west side of the city. The Creek separated my neighborhood from high rises. It was partly natural and partly a cement ditch. Trees and bushes and flowers and the running water made the Creek beautiful, the only stretch of land that had the appearance of wild nature. I used to bike or walk some of the length of the Creek alone or with my dog.

In time, the Creek became my world, a place I went to reflect, exercise, and enjoy the natural world. I was not alone in appreciating the Creek. From 1979 to 2008, the 29 years I lived near the Creek, I noticed the number of people walking or biking by the Creek increased tremendously. The Creek became our neighborhood, where people visited for enjoyment. (more…)

Solstice Manifesto

December 21, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Ecology, Economy, Guest Author

On the Importance of Integrating Social and Ecological Perspectives

by the ISEP Class Working Group

{Editor’s Note: This collaborative statement was produced in the context of a college class focusing on the integration of social and ecological perspectives. The depth of critical engagement with the intersecting crises in our midst, coupled with insightful visions for action and change, provide a source of hopefulness in a time of profound challenges.}

I. Why We’re Concerned

Our world’s current dysfunction is a multifaceted crisis, exemplified by a host of social and ecological problems, including racism, violence, water shortages, drought, species extinction, pollution, and many others. Upon closer examination, the roots and solutions of each of these problems have both social and ecological components, which are dependent upon and directly influence each other. (more…)