New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


In Defense of Tumbleweeds

October 08, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Walt Anderson

Reflections of Ourselves in Coping with an ‘Invasive Species’

by Walt Anderson

Drifting along, like a tumbling tumbleweed.  That catchy tune warbled by the Sons of the Pioneers somehow epitomizes nostalgia for the Old West.  Never mind that the tumbleweed is a carpetbagger, an interloper, an émigré otherwise known as Russian thistle.  I’ve heard tell that the Russkies sent it here as a kind of biological weapon, a plague on our plains, a prickly infestation designed to lay waste to our grasslands, to overwhelm us with its ability to take any of our attacks against it and come back stronger than ever.  Where is the real truth here?

As an ecologist, I am always suspicious of introduced species.  What are they outcompeting?  What natives suffer at the advancing wave of heavily armed hordes of aggressive Salsola? (more…)

Love in the End Times

July 16, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Economy, Jennifer Browdy, Politics

Tend to the Parts You Can Reach…

by Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

The political horse race in American politics has begun, with both major Presidential candidates running full-tilt but ponderously towards each other like armored knights on horseback, wielding the lances of millions of dollars’ worth of attack ads and backed up by slick, smart campaign pages.

Meanwhile, it continues to be hot, hotter and unbearably hot here in the Northeast.  It was a blessing to wake up this morning to a brief soaking rain, breaking weeks of drought.

But there is no way to fool myself into hoping that things will go back to normal, weather-wise.

As many people have been saying lately, this is the new normal.

Just as we’ve gotten used to a political climate in which it’s normal for a Presidential candidate to hide his tax returns, refuse to comment on moving his millions into off-shore tax havens, and totally repudiate everything he once stood for in order to lick the shoes of his political bosses, we’re going to have to get used to a climate that lurches from one extreme to another — from blizzards to heat waves, from floods to droughts. (more…)

Help Wanted

May 14, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Economy, Jennifer Browdy, Politics

Immediate Action Needed on Climate Change

by Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

Now if only President Obama could show the same leadership on climate change as he has just demonstrated on the divisive same- sex-marriage issue.

The same narrow-minded interests that made same-sex marriage such a boogeyman for the President are also controlling the GOP-dominated boardrooms of Big Oil, from Mr. Cheney on down.

These people seem to be motivated by one thing only: the bottom line.  And they seem to be able to think only as far as a quarter or two ahead.

They don’t see that they are driving us as fast as possible over a cliff from which there will be no recovery.  Or maybe they see, but just don’t care.

It was with great appreciation that I opened up The New York Times Opinion pages last week and saw the indefatigable James Hansen offering the lead op-ed, once more displaying his vision and leadership in 1) insisting that the comfortable NYT readers pay attention to the imminent and grave threat of climate change, and 2) offering a practical solution for bringing about the swift change of course we need to avert disaster. (more…)

The Good Word

February 13, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Family, Walt Anderson

Taking Stock and Investing in Shares

by Walt Anderson

Am I allowed to postdate a New Year’s Resolution?

Taking stock.  No, I am not talking about financial matters — something much more important actually.  The arrival of 2012 reminds me to reflect upon my life, not on transient accomplishments or on political or social disappointments.  Few of those things are lasting, scarcely more significant in my life than the taste of yesterday’s breakfast.  What was it that I ate, anyway?

What should be important is what I chose to share with others.  My vow this year — one that is much more realistic than how many pounds I will lose, how often I intend to work out, or what yard work I may or may not get to — is to open myself to greater sharing. (more…)

A Happy Ending?

January 26, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Economy, Jennifer Browdy

Shades of an American Kristallnacht

by Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

Watching the spectacle of the Republican primaries evokes deep sadness over the unavoidable truth that now, in the wake of Citizens United, it has become totally legal for rich people to run politicians the same way they might run horses or greyhounds.  Just like that.

Maybe that’s what provides the eerie, zombie-like atmosphere in politics these days. You really have the sense that most politicians, especially the ones at the top echelons of power, are like old-fashioned Kabbalistic golems, animated out of clay by skilled magicians who can control them from afar.

Of course, that’s been going on for a long time.  Remember George Bush, a wind-up man getting remote control instructions through his earphone in the 2004 Presidential debates?

But it’s getting worse and worse.  That’s why I can’t stand to watch Gingrich and Santorum and all the other Republican wax model men mouth their lines on the stage these days.  You know they’ll say whatever they’re told … whatever they think it will take to win. (more…)

A Brighter Alternative

January 16, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Michael N. Nagler

Do We Live in a Meaningless Universe?

by Michael N. Nagler

“Ours is not an empty, disorderly world, but an exquisitely structured web whose design embraces and affects all living things.” — Sally Goerner

Western civilization could be considered a grand experiment, culminating in the three-plus centuries of the industrial revolution, to see if the universe could be accounted for without resorting to the concept of a Supreme Being or an overall purpose.  The experiment was a huge success.  It proved without a doubt that the universe can not be accounted for without introducing the concept of purpose; life could not have come about by chance — as Ervin Lazlo puts it, “pure chance … does not appear to be a significant factor in the evolution of life;” the human being cannot be described as a separate, finite, physical fragment doomed to compete for diminishing resources, but a (potentially) conscious actor in the fulfillment of the design that biologist Sally Goerner alludes to above. (more…)

When ‘Positive News’ Isn’t

May 02, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Michael N. Nagler, Politics

The Evolution Will Not Be Scientized

by Michael N. Nagler

The outbreak of democratic aspirations in Egypt, which was relatively nonviolent — and successful — was something of a triumph of the human spirit. We could use the boost. The human spirit is under attack not just in despotic regimes from Burma to Bahrain but right here in our own society. Our way of doing it may be subtler, but it’s no less dangerous for that reason. Possibly more so. Think of last year’s 5-4 decision of the U.S. Supreme Court (Citizens United v. FEC) that granted corporations the status of human persons.

We should be very glad that citizens’ groups are organizing to reverse this decision, like the Environmental and Social Rights Amendment, now before the House of Representatives as House Res. 156. But that decision did not come from nowhere (any more than the Egyptian uprising, for that matter). It was the logical, inevitable outcome of a deep cultural trend that has been pushing its way into our consciousness and taking over our worldview at least since the industrial revolution. (more…)