New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


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…)

Inner Eye

October 22, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Jennifer Browdy, Politics

A Message from the Wounded Heart of the Earth

by Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

While in the foreground Washington politics continued as usual, a remarkable animal came like a messenger sent to remind me of the state of things in the background, where what’s really important is going on.

ospreyI’m using Mary Daly’s terminology here: she calls everything that mainstream society generally focuses on part of the “foreground,” which distracts us from the deeper and more significant issues and events going on in the “background.”

Instead of worrying about how the “snools” are jerking the country around from their headquarters inside the Beltway, Daly urges us to pay attention to the bigger, deeper picture of what’s happening on a global level to the ecological systems that keep us all alive.

Sometimes it’s hard to wrench my attention away from all the grotesqueries going on in the foreground.  Recently, I had help. As I was walking along a trail by a small river near my house, in the gathering gloom of dusk, I looked back to see my dog Loki standing stock-still near a large object that I couldn’t immediately identify. (more…)

Occupy Everything

October 04, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: David Swanson, Politics

Reflecting on Lessons Learned and New Directions

by David Swanson

When the Pentagon ends an occupation, crawling home from Vietnam or Iraq or Afghanistan with its Tomahawk missile dragging between its legs, it declares victory every time.  And, depending on how you define victory, it certainly leaves lasting effects.  The cancer and birth defects and poisoned water supplies bear witness: there was an occupation here.

When the Occupy Movement lost its presence on television and therefore in real spaces that are never quite as real as television, it too left a lasting impact.  But it was a positive lasting impact, difficult as yet to measure fully, but observable in many areas.  (more…)

Stewards and Balancers

October 01, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Guest Author

Respecting Nature’s Limits Is the Solution

by Aaron Guthrie Lehmer-Chang

Last month, The New York Times published a fantastical piece on human exceptionalism entitled “Overpopulation Is Not the Problem,” in which author Erle C. Ellis claimed that human societies have no limits to their growth. That’s right — limits are merely an illusion. Expansion über alles! That’s our species’ birthright, and rightful destiny.

“There really is no such thing as a human carrying capacity,” writes Ellis, castigating those of us concerned with ecological limits as believers that humans are little different than “bacteria in a petri dish.” Perhaps even more outlandishly, Ellis goes on to state that “[t]he idea that humans must live within the natural environmental limits of our planet denies the realities of our entire history, and most likely the future.” Who’s history exactly?

As an associate professor of geography and environmental systems at the University of Maryland, Ellis should know better. Unless he steered clear of the stacks of thoughtful volumes available to him on the rise and fall of past civilizations, he would surely have encountered chronicle after chronicle of societies that faced progressively daunting ecological challenges, and which plummeted in population as a result. (more…)

Imagining Syria

September 10, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Missy Beattie, Politics

Making Sense of the Senseless… 

by Missy Beattie

After Charles died, I tried to convince friends and acquaintances that complaining — squandering even a minute of happiness — is an extravagance they’d regret. Eventually I realized that death of a spouse or loved one couldn’t be understood until it’s experienced. Maybe that’s protection, insulation. Really, how could we approach each day if we knew at the molecular level the agony of bereavement?

I think of this now when I hear the blustering of men devoid of empathy. Of women barren of compassion. Those too blind to see.

This morning when I ran, I passed a sign in front of an enclave of alley shops. It said, “Who’s Next”. Syria. Syria is next, I thought.

A few weeks ago, when running, I heard a man on a phone, a pay phone. “This is the United States of America and this is my son I’m talking about.” I’ve noticed him before, with several bags, asleep on a bench, wrapped in a blanket despite the heat. I’ve thought about him, wanting to know more. Wanting to know what he meant when he said, “This is the United States of America . . .” (more…)

From Syria to Sunshine

September 04, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Economy, Jennifer Browdy

Another World Is Possible, Outside of the Shadows

by Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

And so we find ourselves, once again, on the brink of sending our military to attack another country, about which, again, we seem to know pathetically little.

IMG_1174 copyWill it be possible to perform a “surgical strike” in Syria, preventing the government armed forces from using chemical weapons without actually taking sides in the civil war?

To what extent have the “rebel forces” been infiltrated by radical Muslim fighters coming over from Afghanistan and Iran?

What are the motives of the shadowy big players looming in the background — China, Russia, Saudia Arabia, Iran, Israel?

Why has the United Nations been so silent?

But here’s the big question that no one is asking: why aren’t we working like banshees to reduce our dependence on Middle East oil?

The fact is that the sheikdoms of the Persian Gulf were insular, off-the-the-beaten track kingdoms until the advent of the modern Western addiction to oil.  It’s all about resources. (more…)

A Sustainable Future

August 30, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Ecology, Economy, Peter G. Cohen

Visions of a Post-Carbon World

by Peter G. Cohen

Surely one of the reasons that it is so difficult to achieve meaningful environmental legislation is that we don’t have a vision of a sustainable future. That’s understandable. For the last 250 years we’ve used coal and oil for energy rather than human and animal labor with great success. We’ve become dependent on carbon fuels. Coal and oil companies have spent millions to make sure that it stays that way. 

Coal has become the main source of electricity, which is so wonderfully clean and convenient that people can’t wait to get the latest electrical gadgets. Oil developed with the gasoline engine in cars, ships and planes. Now it is also essential for plastics and hundreds of chemicals. Gas was at first a lighting fuel and now can be used to heat homes and dinners, to power cars, electrical generators and factories.

These fossil fuels have been an enormous benefactor of mankind. We resist learning that by burning them we are destroying the climate that makes life possible. Furthermore, the big enemy, atmospheric CO2, is invisible. We can see smoke and soot, but not carbon dioxide or methane. They are invisible assailants. We must trust our scientists to read the signs of degrading earth and changing weather.  Everything that science has predicted about climate change is coming true, only at a faster rate than anticipated. (more…)