What do you think of what's said in the Culture Change Letter? Join the discussion! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Give your comments on U.S. energy & transportation habits, sustainable living, peace, climate change, Arcata... We edit letters for brevity. The most recent letters come first and are grouped into the specific Culture Change Letter and its topic. General and Arcata-oriented letters are at the bottom of this page.
CCL #50 January 10, 2004 A nonviolent scenario: Ready for deep revolution?
CCL #49 January 3, 2004 The masses: a cornered animal
Jan. 6 -
My view of the future is that things will continue to get worst as people continue to find excuses and reasons to let it be. Look at all the people who have had cancer and/or have had people close to them die of cancer. How many are denouncing the cancer society for only pushing cures rather than looking or promoting cause avoidance? We know what causes cancer yet people keep on giving money to drug companies and societies that support them. If cancer is not a wake up call, what do you figure will be?
I'd love to feel positive - to hear from you why you think people will act. I know that 3 years ago when I heard that around 2007 there wouldn't be anymore fin fish found in the seas of the world, I was shocked and wrote to the studies author asking what could - should - would be done....I'm still waiting for real actions to take place. It was on the news (in Canada - CBC) for about one day.
So ok Jan, Happy New Year. Although I can't figure how anybody can be happy anymore, I'm still willing to use the word.
JL responds: Thanks for wanting to take the discussion to
higher levels. My simple answer is that the animal is not yet backed
into the corner. As long as there is diversion and ample food, (even
what passes for food today) people will be willing to see just the smiling
facade of the system. But as soon as the critical mass occurs in
socioeconomic pressure, people will start looking and acting beyond the
television screen and the party line of their bosses and institutions.
Perhaps the end of plentiful oil will trigger the mass's ire, but then it's
going to be chaos. So, if the animal feels cornered somehow before
that, then we will see a rebellion and the chance for a more planned
transition to sustainability. Inevitably, though, collapse is
inevitable and energy use as we know it will not be possible on a mass
scale. Does this help clarify my analysis? Cheers, Jan
Along the way, I wonder how China's rise and the dollar's collapse will change the dynamics.
Jan. 4 - You have hit the bullseye again. Cornered animal is exactly how I am feeling these days. And for exactly the reasons you point out. Every trip in a car, every urban flood from buried creeks, every sound emanating from mass media TV and radio. My adrenaline induced panic state is surrounding me increasingly as I struggle to remain focussed and take care of daily life. Thanks for your insights. Keep it up. I wish I had a better idea of the way out of this mess. Organizing requires some inspired belief in others, which I am a little low on at the present time. My struggle currently is inward into my own sources of inspiration or lack thereof.
Jan. 4 - Hi Jan-
I note that the stridency and urgency of your letters is increasing
approximately in parallel with the incoming threats we both know too
well. I like the way you are leading people along. Nice recent letter.
I told you a while back that I had quit my job, sold my suburban home, and
joined an intentional community.
Anyway, I just want to say, "Good Job"!
Jan. 4 - Dear Jan,
Having made observations much like yours, my husband and I started an
organization that is designed to address the mental numbness induced by the
right wing/corporatist messaging machine, its media collaborators, and
incessant advertising. You ask when we are going to get started. We're
already working on it. Commonweal Institute (no relation to the Commonweal
in Bolinas, CA, nor the Catholic magazine of the same name) is still a small
organization, but growing. As far as we can tell, it's the only one anywhere
in the country designed to deal both with ideas and the need to use
sophisticated marketing & communication techniques to move the public
If you're interested, check out the website of Commonweal Institute
(www.commonwealinstitute.org). I'd like to hear your reactions.
Katherine Forrest, MD
325 Sharon Park Drive, Suite 332
Menlo Park, CA 94025
Jan. 4 - Culture Change,
Jan Lundberg states what should be obvious to anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear. We, in this community, need no new impetus to organise. The main problem is the method of change that has been humanity's bane. We never seem to look ahead. We see the light in the tunnel, we hear the blast of the horn, yet we still play on the tracks. It has always been after the train has passed, flattening everyone in its path, after - fill in the blank - disaster, that we do anything.
Look at any major change in history and you will see this pattern. A couple of prime examples are the great depression and Minimata. We ignore all the warning signs, we let the damage progress, and it is only when the damage is catastrophic that we do something about it. The horse is out of the barn, along with the cows, chickens, rats etc.
We knew back in the 70's the oil would run out, but we did nothing to change the efficiency of the combustion engine until OPEC forced the issue in pointed fashion. In fact, almost any significant change or progress in humanity's condition has come at a huge cost. And I am afraid that these times are no exception.
We must organize, but it must be a post disaster capable organisation. It must look at what the collapse of the oil economy will mean. It must be a repository of information that will help the survivors rebuild without making the mistakes which brought them to that point of no return.
We must be ready to see world population levels crash when the environment implodes and then be there to rescue as much of our life support system as possible.
Many people will die. And many people will focus on saving them all. This is our natural impulse as liberals and good hearted people. But there is no way to save the planet with this many people sucking the life out of the system. Fortunately, or unfortunately, the ecosystem is not human and it does not care for us one way or the other. It simply exists and if we decide to push the system so out of balance that is kills off our species, then so be it. The ecosystem will just chug along.
We will not force people to behave one way or another, that would be counter to our belief systems. So we cannot sterilise most of the population to control out of control growth. Nor can we implement even more horrific measures. What we can do is be ready for the disaster and be ready to step in and explain what happened, why it happened and how to survive with no chance of repeating the insanity.
Our best hope is that a disaster will befall us that will simultaneously be big enough to change us, small enough not to kill us all off and soon enough that it is not too late.
Here is to hope and luck.
Richard A. Davies
January 1, 2004 - Dear Jan,
UntiI I came to this country 35 years ago I lived in the English countryside. As a child I lived in small villages, no electricity, no running water, a pump outside in the yard, no TV, no radio. Yet on reflection life was in many ways better than today. The villages were self contained and we had our own society. No elder or sick individual went without someone to help and look after them, everyone stopped and spoke when you passed them in the street. We had our football and cricket teams, and other groups that met weekly to play cards, make music and so on. We children walked to school a mile or so without fear, no one locked their doors.
I think that we will inevitably have to return to the self contained villages or small towns when the oil runs out. The talk of hydrogen cars and so on is largely hog wash. I am not against technical advancement, indeed some of the items I was responsible for are still sitting on the moon, but we have to look at these things with a practical eye. Science can help us to make the best of our resources but it cannot extend them or produce more. We must first decide what standard of living we want for our people and then we can calculate just how many we can support in that style. Of course none of this will happen as there is no overall global planning for the future. We will just toddle along and hope that we can take care of every shortage as it occurs. Then we ultimately will find ourselves in an untenable situation. To avoid this we must completely change our society from being based on profit (greed) to being based on doing what is best for society. This is unlikely to occur here in the US as there is this great opposition to any national planning (Listen to the cries of "But that's socialism").
Already the few countries that have a declining birthrate are looking to ways to bring in more people and here in NY state the cry is that we need more development to find more jobs for the immigrants that are flooding in.
One of my books is called Fruitful Extinction, based on my experiences in third world countries which prompted me to consider the world's growing population. Please feel free to print out and give a copy to your friends. See
CCL #47 December 18, 2003 Peace and the U.S. petro-city
Dec. 26 - j,
i live on the edge of a 62 acre forest. in windy periods, for example, dropping tree branches can be quite dangerous. but when downtown san francisco quakes, for example, there is little escape.
all health to you and your family in these short days,
Dec. 19 - Dear Jan,
I agree with your assessment for the most part. Please keep in mind that there are cities that you would love if you were to visit. Have you traveled to carfree cities that were designed to be beautiful and charming? My passion is studying cities. Each year I travel to cities that are carfree or traffic free, mostly in Europe. Traffic free cities are starting to happen in the USA. To put it simply cities make nature and agriculture possible. Sprawl, a congratulation of single family houses, is the villain. When people build a cabin in the foothills or mountains its as if a tentacle of cancer or fungus is creping in to mother natures domain. Roads and cars are the villains. It's e-z to slip into the dark side of our personalities. People who live in cities and fight for there quality of life are the heroes. People who move from cities into sprawl or little cabins in the hills helter-skelter are the villains.
Please see my www site www.villageat.org browse through the books page. Also go to www.carfree.com
Michael L. Hoag
Laguna Beach, CA
Dec. 19 - Dear Jan:
It is great to be able to live in a redwood forest or a dramatically less populous area like SW New Mexico as I do (although too many cars, traffic, and DWI offenses abound despite or because of our rural character), but not everyone can escape the "caged city." The great "multiplier effect" strikes again!! If folks could garner the resources needed for subsisting in even a simple cabin in the foothills, they'd encroach upon forest/wildlife habitat
even bigger time than already shown during the great fires of this past fall and summer in the SW and especially California).
Or they'd strain small-town resources in a high-desert town like Silver City (water, especially--the drought persists and the Rio Grande in neighboring Las Cruces farm area is DRY; the silver minnow is being moved to a "reservation" to save it.) Commonly, folks build a nice place in the beautiful but arid lands 5-10 miles out of town (no services!!), then drive several times weekly into Silver City to work, volunteer, or get supplies. Our little bus system seems relegated to poor or welfare folks or older folks needing a ride to dialysis.
So what is the solution?--small towns that somehow stay that way and stil develop in a sustainable way may be the answer, leaving the forests to the wilder species. A group of people in Silver City is starting something called the hometown initiative that you could find out more about by e-mailing Nick Siebold, one of our own councilors at email@example.com.
Hope this proves helpful and hopeful--it is only in beginning stages. Can give you more e-mail addresses of organizers if you need them.
Please keep writing to us and making us think. Cheers and a happy woodland holiday despite everything,
December 14, 2003 United
Nations Climate Change Conference: Growth remains the strategy
JL responds - The gases going into the atmosphere won't
affect climate for 50 to 80 years, so there is no comfort in running out of oil.
Climate change is getting out of control. -
Dec. 15 - Yeah, I suppose you're right.
I wonder what the elite class is thinking..
What do they think is going to happen to their grand-children? No one will escape... well. Maybe not. The very wealthy almost always escape... unless the poor classes revolt and get them first. I've often wondered if that was one reason for the elites' supporting the military: for protection in extremis.
It has been ever thus, after all. Of course, sometimes the military joins the revolution,
cf. France, 1795 or so.
Dec. 15 - Pincas Jawetz made the comment "There you have the first shoe dropping: adapt to climate change because the economic elite refuse to reduce emissions sufficiently."
This shows a gross misunderstanding. The greenhouse gases are already well above historical natural levels. Climate change due to this fact is already under way. This is irreversible so we do have no alternative but to adapt. A reduction in the rate of emissions will only reduce the rate at which the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere increase. It can only reduce the rate of climate change. That is a very worthwhile object but it is not fostered by the misleading statement above.
JL reponds: We don't misunderstand that climate change is underway and may even be out of control. Nevertheless, the right thing to do is to slash all greenhouse gas emissions immediately. Perhaps this will happen when the rising tide of polluted sea water washes into Wall Street. Then the top dogs can get helicopter-lifted to work every day to their office building's roof-tops, using fossil fuels no doubt. Incidentally, I made the comment, not Pincas Jawetz. - JL
CCL #45 December 2, 2003 Brain control of the masses via pollutants
December 21, 2003 - Yo,
CCL #44 November 25, 2003 Overpopulation's toll: Water privatization and the rising conflict
Nov. 26 - Excellent article. In addition to activism against water privatization, all compassionate landowners should be responsible for grabbing (and sharing!) the rainwater that falls on their site. If everyone did this, the water finding its way to rivers, lakes, dams, etcthe sources tapped by corporationswould be reduced. Collection systems can be very inexpensive, even made from recycled components (55-gallon drums obtained from bakeries, etc.) and simple earthworks, needing only a shovel, can also be used.
Many how-to books are available. The best one (Rainwater Harvesting by Brad
Lancaster) is scheduled to come out next year.
Thanks for all your hard work and research.
JL responds - I agree that local approaches are
best. Here in northern California there are pot growers who take all the
water from their streams for their crops and don't leave much water for the
endangered fish species downstream, when some cisterns for example would be
more ecologically equitable. Lancaster is one of our readers, and is
expert at re-using building materials and permaculture.
Nov. 26 - Jan,
The letter about water was interesting. Up here in Oregon, we're dependent on the snow-pack for our summer water supply, irrigation, etc. In recent years, it's been melting. Well, it's a Chevy Day. We're taking it out for no other reason than to put the top down.
JL responds: You're a great kidder, you Chevy-less walker!
Nov. 25 - Very excellent compilation
and timely, as usual. There will be many wars over this.
JL responds: Thanks, John. Until I looked into this I sort of accepted the idea that yeah, there will be water wars. Now I see it more as one ongoing war that started a while ago and will go on until the foundation of civilization is changed.
Nov. 25 - Thanks again for your commitment to the realization of our traumatic situation. I am honored to arrive at this site to read each letter that embodies the only real effect of our lives, or rather, our mislifes.
IT Professional http://illdill.org
CCL #43 November 19, 2003 The corporado's life and its antithesis
Nov. 21 - Too true - have just finally
gotten around to reading David Korten's "When Corpoations Rule the
World," and whereas I knew the general outline, it is always good to
refresh oneself with the nauseating details. But it is so scary that
people can't seem to wake up from consumeritis.
JL responds: Thank you Paul. I think I was a little hard on the corporate execs, if you're right that they will join in community. Who knows. Yet, as you know, the planet is being trashed so badly that nature as we knew it may not recover. And yet the corporados keep up the aggression and techno-nightmare without changing direction. Larger forces are at work, for better or worse. Jan
Nov. 21 - WHAT A BUNCH OF CRAP BASED ON STYEREOTYPES WRITTEN BY AN IGNORAMOUS!!!!!!!!! Wake up and think!
CCL #42 November 12, 2003 Resisting nanotech, violence and the corporate state They're coming for you
Nov. 15 - Dear Jan:
Did it ever occur to you that all those people are in jail because they deserve to be. And if they weren't, they would be creating mayhem even in remote places like Arcata.
You give corporations much more credit than they are due. Nanotechnology? Honestly. The reason none of your leaders has any following is that the message is merely anti the establishment, not convincingly for an alternative. Yes, recycling and driving a fuel efficient car are good things, but you can't build a society on that cliche.
14 - Hi, [regarding the Culture Change
Letter #42] I agree 100 cento per cento. It has to get worse,
before more people get pissed and something happens.
Nov. 13 - Jan, am definitely aware of this Orwellian development but it's almost impossible to deal with on top of everything else. What really disturbs me is your statement "a little more time must elapse before mass interest is awakened on a big enough scale" - not because you said it but because it seems to be true. And I keep thinking, WHY will it take more time? What will it take to wake people up?
The fact that books by Michael Moore, Al Franken, Molly Ivins, and Jim Hightower that are highly critical and informative about the insanities that are going on AND very funny, so they get read - are at the top of the NYT best seller list is very heartening. But Moore's books have consistently been at the top and he has SRO audiences on his tours and sometimes has to perform twice a night. SO - many people are getting the message - why aren't they staging
another Boston Tea Party? They just like the laughs? They don't think they have to ACT on the info? I get so frustrated.
However, I recently heard historian Howard Zinn giving the historical perspective, that there have never been so many individuals and grassroots groups rising up globally - certainly the February protests against Bush's war, and vigils continue every week all over this country and the world (I love it that residents of the retirement center in my home town, Mill Valley, CA are out there every week, walkers, wheelchairs and all.) Anti-war is not the same as anti-corporation, but they're close.
Paul Hawken agrees with Zinn and says the amazing thing is that all the different grassroots groups, while they may be focused on different aspects, are not in conflict with, but complementary to, each others' actions. Jean Houston, Starhawk and others - all globetrotters - say similar things. I keep thinking of the symbol of the weed growing up through the concrete.
I get very frustrated with the environmental organizations - all groups - social justice, etc.- why they don't coordinate and join forces. Am very irked at Union of Concerned Scientists, whose latest magazine is all about more efficient cars, but nothing about peak oil coming at us.
Nov. 13 - Dear Mr. Lundberg:
You are right on target, about the control of the human populace.
Nothing will destroy the economy (here and worldwide) more, than the collapse of the oil supply. This is going to shortly come to pass (<http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&ie=ISO-8859-1&q=%22Peak+Oil%27>Google Search: "Peak Oil').
Oil is the most strategic natural resource we have. Without it, society (particularly the fly/drive transportation system) will collapse. I have warned people about this, but they apparently don't care. The collapse is shortly going to commence. It will be irreversible. Brace yourself for what is going to come.
I have been interested in Bible prophecy for many years, and the coming Antichrist is well on the way. He will control all of the world; so that no one will be able to perform any kind of economic activity, without his mark in the forehead or right hand. I would suggest you watch two very important programs (both of them on Trinity Broadcasting Network). The shows are "Jack Van Impe Presents" and "International Intelligence Briefing".
Nov. 10 - There are a lot of people in my family that fit the "Bigman" description.
Tohellivisions in every room, big extracab 4x4 pickups, big boats, lots and lots of guns, RVs, power leaf blowers, pressure washers, the latest in home entertainment. But they are not happy, nor are they physically active.
They tell me that I need to work more, get ahead. I must be sick or mentally ill. I just don't think all those frivolous items are worth my time. I am happy with what I have. I make enough money working two days a week to consume what I need. My 18 year old Toyota is still running great. And because I ride my bicycle around town a lot, that old Toyota will last another 5 years at least. I would much rather spend my time playing guitar, hiking, reading, with my family, or working for a better world.
Great writing Jan, this is one of your best CC letters.
JL responds: Larry, it is a lonely life sometimes, to be an exponent of cultural change. I know you are in tune with the truth and nature, so I don't feel sorry for you. But it's so weird, isn't it, being in such a minority surrounded by pathalogical apathy and such complacency about consuming so much energy and other materials. Keep on eco-rockin', Jan
7 - It's time to use the correct word for our present society: "Kakistocracy".
Look it up in a good dictionary and put it to work.
Nov. 7 - A new mall was just completed here directly across from another mall - named appropriately, "Legacy." It boasts heated sidewalks and looks like Disneyland at night. It snarled traffic for months during its construction and continued to do so the weekend it opened as it was mobbed by people determined to be there at the beginning. Not enough parking places and cars backed out into the streets. Friend of mine who moved here from California a few years before I did commented that the main activity for Ohioans is shopping (also has one of the highest rates for obesity and smoking). Yet, this is supposed to be an impoverished area with high unemployment and jobs leaving in droves, so one has to wonder where are all the buyers are coming from? Charging as if there's no tomorrow, I guess, and thus insuring there won't be.
However, a mall proposal for the West Side was defeated in the election this week - but by just a handful of votes, so is being challenged for a recount... AND a statewide measure for $500 million for more giveaways and subsidies to businesses for 'economic development' DID fail - mainly due to the rural areas - of course, rural areas are generally very conservative and vote GOP big time, but this time I guess they were tired of funding urban insanity.
Have you read Chalmer Johnson's Blowback: The Cost and Consequences of American Empire? I learned more from it about the whys and hows of the insanity of the U.S. economic 'system' than from anything else. It is simply stupefying how our so-called 'leaders' can be so totally blind, deaf, short-sighted and incredibly stupid. Their greed for power and money is insatiable - they never have enough. Clearly they have Texas-sized holes in their souls which they try to stuff with things, status, etc.
Nov. 7 - The great, and rather irreverant Scottish poet, Robert Burns, wrote
Oh what gift the giftie gi'e us,
To see oursel'es as others see us.
In his day, the others weren't the other species and the oceans and the
atmosphere. Objectivity is beginning to creep into our culture, but it is
meeting grave resistance. The objective perch is not a comfortable pew.
Unfortunately, there is still enough coal and heavy oil available to make a
major change in the atmosphere even if it won't flow as fast as the light
stuff we're addicted to at the moment. After the Petroleum Age and the Coal
Age 2 play out, realistic sustainability will take hold, but I can't see a
voluntary enlightenment taking hold. Fossil fuels are the most highly
addictive substances on earth. Tell the smoker that he has to choose between
smoking and driving; watch the fun. Personally, I think we should ban cars
and take up smoking.
And we're worrying about Iraq? And the Dow Jones Average? And the California deficit? And about Jessica Lynch?
Salmon have arrived at Banks Inlet on Banks Island in the Arctic ocean. The
native people don't have a word for salmon. They also don't have words for
robins and other bird species that have arrived within the last decade. From
their perspective, climate change already happened, it isn't if or when.
But, by god they love their snowmobiles, too. Hypocrisy begins at home.
Nov. 7 - SUV things are one thing, but
flag decals are another.
Oct. 31 - Hi; I now get your newsletter, and am appalled by Plan Puebla Panama. However, being barely able to support myself, I cannot contribute to the cause. I can only offer moral support and encouragement in your efforts. I just wanted you to know that my heart is with you and all the poor folks who will be adversely affected. I do spread the word about capitalistic wrongdoings to whomever will listen.
Peace, Mike B.
Oct. 31 -
"Free Trade", is a terrible mistake.
It lowers every involved nation to the lowest common denominator...
Those nations that have labor laws, environmental laws, etc., have higher costs for products and services.
"Free Trade" moves jobs and manufacturing from those that HAVE protections for people and the environment, to those that refuse such protections.
FIGHT free trade.
Ronald Frederick Greek
Oct. 28 - Jan,
As I cannot say I have not enjoyed one of your letters, I again, can say I thoroughly enjoyed this one (The Curtain of Materialist Society's illusion). I have seen the movies, and understand your metaphor. I believe what this boils down to is choosing;
Love and compassion,
"Or if a form of Eden awaits us when the curtain crashes down, we could look forward to living sustainably as we elevate love to the highest social value."
Or hate and fear,
"What would life be like without the curtain? Without billions of people living as materialists? Without todays extreme social strife? Without war, terror, and ecocide? Can we imagine doing without the boxed-in thinking as practiced by all the alienated individuals coping with survival in noncommunity?"
IT Professional http://illdill.org
Oct. 22 - Hi Jan,
I enjoyed your letter about illusory curtain of Maya.
Charles T., Oregon
CCL #38 October 14, 2003 We came down from the trees, now we cut them - The new transition to sustainability
Oct. 16 - Geez, Jan, you make me wish I had more time at the library to read the amazing volume of great stuff Brian Willson has put out on the web. For
now I'll go back to my corporate job reminded that there's one more soul
out there committed to resistance and plenty of reason to keep up my urban
homesteading and putting aside surplus earnings and seeking financial
Don M., Modesto, California
Oct. 15 - It's an interesting statement about us as a species, our cutting down the forest.
For monkees like us trees represent safety--our final avenue of escape.
It's interesting to reflect upon.
Katuah Earth First!er
Oct. 15 - i think this is one of the
best essays you've written. very good.
Oct. 15 - JAN! HEY! ALLRIGHT!
Dynomight, excelente, brovado!
I take it back. This is one excellent piece, though more than a 'tree-hugging' piece implied by the title. Virtually no loose ends. Adequate references to 'culture change', 'oil depletion', other issue inclusiveness. Heavy duty material offered at climactic end. Neat! I printed it out on 3 pages at 12pt. This can be distributed ANYWHERE, but honestly, I think the title should improve: "Humans evolved first as tree dwellers, now prefer SUVs" I don't know, something that diversifies the title. Something more implicative, because this is excellent reading. Congratulations.
Oct. 15 - Why do believe that a peaceful solution will work Jan? I too would like to think - like Brian Willson and you - that interconnectedness will prevail and that by talking, writing, giving the example, the billions will change.
They won't. The enemy in this case is not a bad guy. She's the new mother who is buying nice throw away diapers for her lovely baby. He's the daddy who's lobbying city hall to accept his water cleanup plan...it does NOT include protecting water at source but a very expensive sexy new water cleaning plan. She's the grandmother who's buying all these new gadgets and appliances for her family...etc...You know what I'm getting at.
Why do you think things will change? through peace? why? everybody's comfortable. Only people like me read you. Not them. No time. Shopping beckons...
As much as I hate violence and love some people, I am convinced only (drastic measures) will work. Only rattling the cage will scare people enough to change. Changing requires thinking. If the obvious signs of climate change don't do it (I live in the Okanagan where fires raged all summer and yet nothing, NOTHING has changed) what do you think will? only real threats to people's lives.
My only question is how to do it.
Please let me know if you have data I don't have. Such as why peace will work. Otherwise I may stop reading you soon as although I really agree with your premises I despair at your solutions.
Jan Lundberg responds: Dear H, I'm sorry
about the fires you had to endure. It is indeed dispiriting that
people don't get it and keep killing the Earth.
Oct. 14 - Interesting essay, as usual.
I do not share your optimism in the adaptability of the human race.
I am more convinced by arguments that grow from the Tragedy of the Commons...for instance, Jay Hanson proposes that if we really care about the future of humanity, we should all go right out and buy an SUV with the lowest possible gas mileage figures (a Hum-vee would probably do nicely), and then proceed to drive up and down the street in front of your house at the most wasteful speed (or, better, spend every night for a couple hours driving your Hum-vee on a nearby freeway, as fast as possible...)....why do this?
Simple: for every drop of oil we use now, one less child can be born later. So, by using it up now, we actually save lives.
The rise of the human population of the planet and the industrial-scale use of fossil fuels track in tandem exactly. Without all that lovely cheap energy, we would *never* have been able to reproduce so rapidly. As you point out in your essay, this reproduction rate will likely continue undiminished until peak-oil passes...then, the end. The end of all growth as we know it.
Until then, buy an SUV and drive it hard! Save a life! Because humans will continue to consume and reproduce until forced by necessity to do otherwise...
I'd like to see an essay from you discussing your sense of when peak-oil will occur, or if it has occurred already (according to some observers, it may have passed in 2000 or 2001)... with additional discussion of how the OPEC producers have been lying about their reserves for at least the last 20 years now.
Oct. 14 - It is people like you who
have been the cause of chronic wasting deisese, mad cow deasise, etc, etc. Why
don't you face the fact your kind serve no purpose in mankind. While I am
apposed to unnesseccary cutting of timber, it is neccessary to maintain liveable
units of wildlife. These feed the poor and underprivelidged. When was the last
time you helped a homeless person by giving them a job or a meal or a warm place
to sleep? I think you are a cowardly selfish son of a bitch who deserves to be
eaten by a bear.
JL responds: There are many worse ways to go, than by a bear, in this mechanical and toxified world. - JL
CCL #37 October 6, 2003 I love nature so I sleep with her Living outside the box
Oct. 13 -
Ok, I try to be a respectful citizen of earth. I recycle, reuse, and
and try not to impulse buy, buy, buy. But, the last article by Jan
Lundberg is over the top. Who are you talking to these days? People
who don't work? I'm supposed to sleep out in the woods and then get up
and go to work all day? What computer do you work on? Are you
handwriting those columns with a pigeon feather? I thought I was
sensitive to environmental issues, but frankly, you're single-handedly
sending me into the opposite camp. I'd still be laughing except that
you might really be serious about all this nonsense.
Oct. 9 -
Oct. 8 - Thank you for this! Though it made me cry; I miss the erotic, blended smells in the woods... Thank you for the encouragement and motivation towards obtaining the lifestyle my heart desires for healing. Thank you for sharing the simple truth, the peace, power, and gentleness found there. I appreciate this sight beyond my ability to express. Peace & Blessings to you, as you pursue your work. My admiration is deep.
Oct. 7 - Slept out for eight years, so I
couldn't agree more with you. Unfortunately, the cold, damp Humboldt winters
got into my lungs and now I can't sleep out when the temperature is below 50
degrees or so. My lungs fill with fluid.
Oct. 7 - "Wilderness is relative." Very
true. A great paper at the World Wilderness Congress said it's a continuum
with two axes: human modification and human control.
Michael J. Vandeman, Ph.D. (author of What Is Homo Sapiens' Place in Nature - From an Objective (Biocentric) Point of View?)
Oct. 7 - Hello, Jan
Sept. 30 Jan-
Sept. 29 Jan;
Sept. 28 Dear Jan Lundberg:
I must say that your essays tend to be very depressing, and I think I will ask that you please remove me from the e-mail list that receives them.
At least Molly Ivins does this with some humor. Sorry, but I am just flat out politically EXHAUSTED right now, and not feeling like reading much of anything more in the bad news column. Give me some GOOD NEWS, please.
Eric R. Eaton
Dear Eric, We'll take you off the list, and since you ask for some good news, I am recently given to understand that the world average temperature will go up at least 15 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century, due to feed-back loops (that release more methane and CO2 hence heating up the atmosphere and hence releasing more gases, ad infinitum in an uncontrolled spiral). Never before have feedback loops been quantified. The good news is not that this minimum warming will happen, of course, but now that this finding has come to light, people will do something finally to cease burning fossil fuels and deforesting, I am most confident. Please check our website again and there may be more items for your use. - Jan
Oct. 4 Dear
Dear Margaret, It's great that you and your
cohorts help your community in sustainable living. Something I heard about
a forest-protection group: on the part of the successors there seemed to be a
fear that the founder would come back, and perhaps there was an ego-derived fear
of comparing poorly with the predecessor. Successors anywhere may feel
inadequate compared to the creativity and accomplishment of the founder, so they
want to make plain to any observer that things are now better than before.
In my family business in the 1980s my record was criticized on petty matters,
and I was even sued to stop using my own name and knowledge, as my business
acumen was a threat. This was after I handed over a fabulous entity with
healthy financials and the best reputation in energy publishing. In my
present affiliation with this website's group, one player in a take-over attempt
almost ten years ago tried to say it was axiomatic that I had to leave because I
was the founder and supposedly founders have poor skills at managing and
growth. Meanwhile, these detractors were busily assuring we would not get
funding and that their new group got the grant we'd earned. Artificial
schisms are sometimes created so people can make off with the group or a big
piece of it.
That is a core topic to discuss.
Sept. 28 Jan,
The dysfunction's basis (capitalism) has become societal; it has become deep rooted in our culture. However if the capitalistic credo/ philosophy/ belief structure/ intellectual operating system that has developed during our recent history (~10,000 years) had not been in tune with the mentality and the aggressive nature of most of the individuals in our species -- then the CAPITALIST modus operandi would not have developed in the first place and would have long since been rejected wherever it arose.
Thanx for being there.
Peter Salonius (author of Energy Tax Made Easy)
Sept. 28 To All in Charge of "C-C""
Thank you for your commitment and gentle spirits. Keep the faith and strengthen the young ones with your knowledge. God Bless U all.
Sept. 28 While I'm sure it makes sense to relate your personal circumstances to the big picture, I doubt this is being perceived as you would hope - When you start talking about "them" and "those people," you come across as not only being paranoid, but superior. Accusing "others" of acting insanely invites scrutiny upon you, not "them." You're probably too close to the situation and your own writing to see it, but the language and contentions you make here seem self serving and not at all useful to the readership of culture change...
JL responds: my exercise in understanding people in this dysfunctional culture was enjoyable to me and to others, but not to all, particularly when a nerve might be touched. Admittedly, this culture must have dished out some insanity for me to ingest and pass on too. Onlinejournal.com liked the essay enough to post it for their large audience, so there! -JL
CCL #35 September 19, 2003 The solidarity option I get by with a little help from my friends
Sept. 19 - Very nicely written, Jan. Thanks. Gives ideas even for those of us who have to make a lot of compromises living in the big city.
Sept. 19 - You're the BEST!!!!!
Sept. 19 - Hello Jan,
Speaking of a community of nature-based people, I thought I would mention Ken Kifer. I don't know if you were ever aware of him, but his website, www.kenkifer.com, has been a great boon to many people. His bikepages are extensive and entertaining, his evaluation of Thoreau is wonderful, and his novel about a new world looks promising.
Unfortunately, Ken Kifer was killed by a drunk driver while biking six miles from his house. (He has been carfree for a long time). He lived in a small cabin in rural Alabama, and lived a simple, carfree life in a place where it would be deemed impossible by even the most idealistic of people.
You should check out his website. I believe his son wants to keep it going, but you never can tell. His death is a great loss to the community of people who are trying to live a sane life in this world.
JL responds: Thank you, Paul. We have put up a link to the site, and you're right it is a good one.
Sept. 15 - I found most of your information email interesting and thought provoking. However you make use of the term "Black" House, black meant in a negative context. I am reminded of the subtle racism, the code words used to perpetuate the oppression in this country. If you are truly progressive you will educate yourself about what is actually the foundation of oppression and injustice... racism. As for "closing our borders" to others... lets not forget! European white man invaded this country stealing it from the Native American people.
Supporter of A.N.S.W.E.R (Act Now To Stop War and End Racism)
As to our color of presidential palace in the District of Crooks, the White House already has a terrible connotation, to many. So, Black House cannot possibly be worse. Oil is black, get it? As to your advice, "educate yourself about what is actually the foundation of oppression and injustice...racism," any thinking person continues learning. However, it is an historical fact that there is often oppression, injustice and war that has nothing to do with racism, and that other factor is usually greed and expansion--the story of civilization. It was not racism originally that motivated the early city builders of Mesopotamia to enrich themselves at neighbors' expense. Racial harmony and equity is not always achieved by tolerant representation in getting a piece of the toxic American Pie, and recail harmony will not have helped when it's a dead planet. George W. Bush has two African-Americans in his cabinet and they are both tainted by war association.
Do keep educating people on these issues. Thanks - JL
CCL #33 September 6, 2003 Party on, Babylon - Civilizations do end
Sept. 7 - You are so right. The problem is how
can we reach the pleasure people.
I think you are awesome! I have been reading your writings and allowing it to become a part of my consciousness for some 10 years now.
I felt the need to respond to this message because of your question - I am having (sometimes too much) fun in Babylon - tearing it down. I am one of those who feels that to make the needed cultural change you have to be a
full participant in the culture then change the 'self''. In doing my work for cultural change I have as much fun as I can. If it's not fun I avoid it. When your having fun people will join you. When people join you - you have a movement. A movement based on fun and being a "model" for others to go by. I even frequent the state capitol spreading my witchy laughter through the halls. It scare the begeebers out of them. Hee Hee I can write a letter that rocks the house for weeks.
I own nothing! I have an income of less than $7,000 a year - but boy do I have some fun! I feel like a Queen Goddess manifesting all I need. I am building wild sanctuaries everywhere I go. I get presents every day (I was even given land!), then I give them away.
The masses will not embrace culture change if it is offered by threat or by shaming. It must be offered as fun. It must be offered as chic. It must be offered not pushed to become a reality. By the way I have seen much cultural change occur in my universe. Keep up the good works.
Life is a Joy!
Much Love and Gratitude,
Sept. 7 - It takes a lot of courage to resist
the social norm enough to live sustainably.
As a college student, I try to consume within the limits of
my conscience, but it is often difficult to overcome the pressures to buy
"nice" clothes and have food around that my friends will want to
eat, and to buy cheap because I don't have much
income. It's difficult for me to
align myself with radical groups because I feel inferior to them
for not doing a better job of living sustainably. I want to hang out
with the Peace and Justice org people at my college, but it seems sometimes
that I need to follow some mainstream trends in order to have a
social life and maybe get a date once in a while. I want to be brave
and confident and feel beautiful and like I
"fit in" while being conscious
of the environmental and global-social consequences of my actions.
I'm working on it. Hopefully this letter will give hope to others
like me who are afraid to become "one of those granolas". I
admit my weakness, I yearn for the day when the
normative civilization is one of responsibility to all of humankind and to the
Sept. 6 -
I am enjoying reading the columns you send via your Culture Change e-newsletter. Keep on keeping on, that's what I'm doing. Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.
Robert Waldrop, Oklahoma City
http://www.oklahomafood.org (sustainable-food service)
CCL #32 August 30, 2003 Ration oil during war Or is this a War on Conservation?
Sept. 5 - Jan Lundberg's article was interesting and obviously ambitious. I don't believe however, that he was harsh enough in judging our society's readiness for such a measure. On the surface, rationing of oil during wartime seems like it could be clever in the political sense because it would satisfy many different groups. But much of the War on Terror is fought in secret and has so far not proven to make us safer. I am doubtful that many positive gains are being made, and if they are, they are not made known publicly. Basically Americans will not support rationing for very long when results from this secret war fail to materialize.
Concrete victories garner support, but our current battle lacks any kind of transparency. Propaganda from the European and Pacific theaters was ubiquitous during the second World War. News from the front was tracked here at home closely. The entire country was supportive of our military efforts and we all felt we were in it together. Today's American knows nothing of sacrifice or collective effort. The average consumer (not citizen) is ill informed about our activities abroad and often about domestic issues as well. Life is judged to be good or bad based on the stock market's daily numbers and the square footage of our suburban boxes.
Joe Sixpack will not tolerate riding a bike to Wal-Mart, where his DVD player will have doubled in price, unless Don Rumsfeld presents bin Laden's head on a platter on CNN. Even then, I question whether people would give up the standard of living to which they have become accustomed in order to help fulfill our stated goals in the War on Terror. Jan stated in his article:
"Somebody wants a big motor vehicle regardless of fuel economy, and the powers-that-be want that car-buyer to succeed in that want!"
This is 100% true. Politicians want us to keep getting high on consumerism because it keeps us happy and voting for them. I believe that the Bush administration likes it because it keeps us distracted, but imagine how quickly attention would be turned on them if the economy really went south. More economic breakdown would be the logical result of oil rationing, as GDP growth is tied directly to energy use. Our current batch of leaders will have thankless jobs because they will soon find themselves in a Catch-22. They'll be blamed for hard times because of voluntary conservation, and they'll be blamed for worse times when real shortages occur.
Eric Ameigh, Buffalo, NY
Sept. 1 - Jan,
Mary Lou Tanton, Michigan
Aug. 30 -
I fear the end will not be sudden and thus merciful.
Humanity can devise substitutes to keep consumption politics in business through a long, horrible descent into the ultimate extinction of everything.
Now, extinction will happen even under the best of circumstances. The sun will boil the earth's surface within a couple billion years no matter what we do.
The crime we are committing is the willful sacrifice of happiness in the meantime.
For environmentalists, earth stewardship is a prerequisite for personal happiness. For most people on the planet, happiness is still just the next crust of bread.
From a tactical standpoint, how do we environmentalists move the mass of humanity as a whole from the day-to-day struggle for food and welfare to the much more fundamental question of happiness?
Our domestic culture does not have the capacity to make that transition using its existing political and communication channels, created and controlled as they are by the consumption imperative. We have divested ourselves of our direct political power, through apathy and self-absorption. Whatever power we as individuals all still have is the power of our dollars at the store counter.
What we need, ideally, is a universal consumer union. This would cut the broad flow of income to the corporate and human oligarchies that capture and recycle it to perpetuate gratuitous consumption. We should create a database of all the products we buy, who produces them, and where their political contributions go. We should then initiate a movement of people willing to buy only those products whose profit goes to uses that will ultimately change the paradigm.
This is the idea behind green power. It should be expanded to include all categories of consumption. We must starve the right wing oligarchs of the profits they use, through advertising and political bribery, to perpetuate the current course toward premature self-destruction as a species and an ecosystem.
St. Paul, MN
JL responds - I'm not clear on how the producer-oligarchs are to be kept in check if they're still manufacturing and marketing their stuff. But that may be irrelevant when they lose the plentiful petroleum and packaging for making and shipping the widgets and food--we're not going to have most of the present population size staying around longer than a few months because of die-off resulting from petroleum shortage. Nevertheless, your idea of a conscious consumers union sounds cool. Even better, I like a non-consumers union concept. Maybe the two of them could have productive liaison, but they could also clash, ideally in ceremonial combat only. All kidding aside, green consuming has serious limitations.
CCL #31 August 25, 2003 On Borrowed Time
Sept. 11 - Dear CultureChange,
Jan Lundberg's essay is correct--as far as it goes. Many of us suppress our inner tendency to succumb to despair, and do things like form and work for organizations like Mothers Against War...acting instead of wringing our hands and putting our heads in the sand is somehow life-sustaining. I refer you to the publication What is Enlightenment?, Spring/Summer issue, in which Jeremy Rifkin, in an interview, said:
"Right now we have three great crises facing the human family and they're all connected to oil. The first is global warming, the second is the increasing debt in the third world, and the third is the potential for more wars in the Middle East . . .
". . .so if you add it all up--global warming (in less than a century, a shift in climate that is equal to the change from the last ice age to today--and that took 15,000 years...), an increasing divide between the haves and the have-nots, more third world debt, and growing geopolitical and military pressures in the Middle East, compounded with the fact that global production of oil is likely to peak sometime within the next ten to thirty-five years--it means we're at the end of an era. As we move toward this very dangerous endgame for the current energy regime, a new hydrogen energy regime is on the horizon. The key question is: How do we get from here to there in a way that will allow us to cross the divide and not collapse civilization?"
DO YOU HAVE AN ANSWER? HOW COULD AN ORGANIZATION LIKE OURS (MOTHERS AGAINST WAR) HELP?
Daphne S. Reed, Founder
Dear Ms. Reed, I disagree with Jeremy Rifkin's comments above only on the
nonsense about "a new
hydrogen energy regime is on the horizon." People who really
understand energy are disappointed in him for propounding this without
proving it. However, if he were to be totally truthful about there not
being a technofix to perpetuate the consumer economy and our massive
overpopulation, he would lose favor with funders and other supporters of the
establishment. The question is, is it okay to mislead in order to get
a bigger truth into circulation (peak oil); is it selling out.
Aug. 28 - The "War against Terror" has been created by those who wish to keep their populations in fear. It would seem that the terror connected to the states is of Islamic origin. What makes them so mad at the States? What drives them to kill themselves to try and make a point? What is the west doing to make them so angry. Sadly, the root is Israel and Palestine and the wars against Afghanistan and Iraq are escalations of that civil conflict, as is also the rise in Islamic terrorism. As a global village we have to create enough resources to supply the needs of the village. As can be seen with the rebuilding of both Afghanistan and Iraq those resources are very limited.
Sad, is it not?
Aug. 28 - Hi all,
An endorsement from you all and your active support would be very helpful. I would appreciate your thoughts on this.
JL responds: I personally don't spend time on elections much, but they are an avenue not to be neglected, just in case. Kucinich is certainly better than a lesser-of-two-evils choice; hell, a Dept. of Peace is visionary! Please let me know if he would support oil rationing, although he would say this is not a legit war. Good luck. Here's a contact URL for Kucinich for y'all: http://www.kucinich.us
Aug. 27 -
My thoughts exactly. (I want) to print (in Gaian Voices) something that has some suggestions for how to deal with the reality of your essay. Your first sentence is "First the bad news, then the hopeful outlook". But I didn't find the latter, and I was hoping to because I thought: aha, here's the missing piece for the newsletter. Is there a hopeful outlook that doesn't sound like so much pie-in-the-sky? (And I want the answer to be yes, and then I want to know how). Can you help?
JL responds: Instead of
pie-in-the-sky it's more like cake in the mud, where life began according to a
recent theory. More response after the next letter:
JL responds - I have been
trying to get across the idea that inevitable collapse will be the only thing
to usher in the sustainable ways that are here and there today waiting in the
wings. We also try to get people to see on our website the hopeful and
proven methods of transportation and agriculture, such as Pedal Power
Produce--that's a project sort of languishing pending funding (three ings in a
Aug. 27 - The
concentration of the writers on gas guzzling cars is interesting but short
sighted. Petroleum based plastics like nylon, polyester, rayon, etc.
consume considerably more petroleum than the excess consumption of fuel that
exists in the difference between 20 mpg and 60 mpg and these products are
easily replaced by renewable wool, silk, cotton and the much dreaded and
maligned hemp. The petroleum based plastics that have served to reduce
the weight of cars, etc and now serve as containers for myriad products
from milk to cleaning fluid can be replaced by renewable soy oil based
plastics. Just as a renewable food for thought -- one jet fighter plane burns
more fuel in one hour than a Ford Explorer burns in a year.
JL responds - So, consumer society just has to get smart and cooperative and make a seamless switch to renewables? Your comments mostly point up the inefficiencies of the present system. Just because hydroelectric power is safer than nukes, this does not present an answer to growth, because the major hydropower spots have been taken, and dams always silt in. Nevertheless, despite your daydreaming for a new day of renewables and the unfeasibility of the perpetuation of the fossil-fuel/nuclear infrastructure, it is good to see alternatives brought up. - JL
Aug. 26 - Jan,
Aug. 25 - hi- this message is for
CCL #30 August 17, 2003 Private property's not what it's cracked up to be Question realty I was way yuppie
Aug. 18 -
Aug. 18 - Jan,
JL responds: Dear Mark, we need to question the choice ( trap) of being the worker bee. Only then can we liberate ourselves from cars, castles and other illusions of personal power. The article contained suggestions for alternative living. Exploring them becomes The Journey, The Adventure of Liberation. My article was barely a glimpse. - JL
Aug. 18, 2003 - Dear
Aug. 17, 2003 - Beautiful,
Jan! I admire your views, your writing, and the more-than-interesting life
you've led so far.
JL responds - May my life be
less and less interesting! - JL
Aug. 11 - Hello Jan,
John, what you say sounds
reasonable. It's like the frogs slowly warming in a pot ready to
boil. Depleted uranium ain't the big flash or the sudden boiling water. I
did go into depleted uranium, if you saw. There are great books on
it. The peace movement here in Arcata is very strong, so I get to learn
more than the average person. But there are so damn many issues of
critical importance, not making headlines, such as pesticide drift--people
getting poisoned and the government doing nothing about the perpetrators (farm
owners and pesticide manufacturers).
CCL #28: August 2, 2003 The joy of riding a bike: sticking it to corporate polluters
August 4 - Jan:
I liked it and had the thought, "You really do have to be that far out to be right."
Regards, Lindsey Grant
Aug. 4 - Dear culture change,
Aug. 4, 2003 -
My apologies, but I won't accept your retraction.
Just say what you mean and mean what you say; the world will be better for it. -TK
August 4 - You are obviously afraid of
offending somebody; please, seek some psychiatric help--or just ride your
bike more!--and get the fuck over it. This is the biggest problem that
this boy sees with the whole cycling, pedestrian, and alt-trans culture--we're a
bunch of fuckin' pussies about stating our case and trying to be heard by Redneck America!
Aug. 4 - Dear Ms. (sic) Lundberg:
Jan Lundberg answers: I made the decision to apologize to all recipients by myself, and having done this and "taken back what I said" in a retraction, I've left the column on the website so people can decide what approach is correct or inappropriate.
Aug. 4 - Good Morning!
Aug. 4 - I'm appalled that you're
retracting the first of your so-called "culture change letters" that
I actually fully agree with. I'm a daily bicycle commuter and couldn't
agree more with the sentiments it shared-- bicycles are the best way to break
the car culture. Your organization is being way to apologetic for
stating the truth in a convivial way.
Aug. 4 - Frankly, Jan,
Aug. 3 - Dear CC,
I'd like to suggest an idea for free energy - People power. When people walk through a revolving door they turn a pulley hooked to a generator. The more people enter, the more power generated. It's a low-tech, healthy alternative to what we have now. And I'm sure it could be adapted to any door too.
Tom Hendricks, ed. of Musea
(now celebrating our 10th year)
Aug. 3 - I enjoyed CC letter #28.
Although it was rather odd for a CC letter. Keep up the great work and
writing. Hope to see another CC magazine in my mailbox someday! I still
believe that the Auto-Free Times (changed to Culture Change magazine)
was the best environmental magazine ever published. I still read my old
issues quite frequently. They are very inspiring. I was glad to see bicycles
come up again in a CC letter. Car culture is killing me.
Aug. 3 - And your point is? You have
nothing to prove to me. I respect honesty and truth before my own
family. If they were not honest and true, I would not call them family. The real crisis in our world today, is simply this;
people are willing to settle for the simpler life, rather than accept the
consequences of a sincere, and honest life. They would rather do than
think before they do. They would rather sacrifice the existence of
humankind, than make an effort to preserve it.
Aug. 3 - I agreed with your essay wholeheartedly, in theory. my reality is complex with less happy , easy resolutions. my job is 6 miles distant so biking could be a great way to get there. i do love riding bikes but for the last 5 years that has been increasingly impossible because of (a back problem). a recumbent bike would be a solution if i could afford one, even a used one. i could take the bus but it's route is so circuitous that it takes 1.5 hours, time i don't want to nor can really waste. i could walk but again the time factor. carpooling? only one other person from work lives anywhere near to me and she only overlaps my schedule sporadically. going shopping? same issue.
Quite reasonably you could say that it would be cheaper still to invest in a recumbent than a car with all it's attendant costs (insurance, gas, oil,
maintenance, etc). no doubt about it. but car costs are designed to be taken in smaller parts so that unless you step back you won't be consumed by the anxiety of it's total expense.
The point i'm trying to make, albeit circularly, is that the problem is not only personal choice but a systemic trap. i totally agree that the major solution to this trap is to opt out. as a single person this is difficult but doable. when you have responsibility for dependents or because of physical limitations you are the dependent, opting out is possible only with lots of help. where is this help going to come from? what kind of help is it? who will materially support this help? will it be voluntary, i.e unreliable, or mandatory? etc...
Another solution is to fight back to demand this help from 'our government' for which you and your newsletter are a perfect example (after all, the car/oil industry is totally subsidized by our taxes).
Keep up the good work,
JL responded: Thanks Bob, I appreciate your well-taken points. The idea of "help" is so basic, but is diminishing in this culture along with nature. - JL
Aug. 3 - Usually, when I receive any missive from Culturechange, I immediately delete it. Most everything written is so heavily laden with cynicism and smug superiority that I can't take it. The ultimate, hoped-for result for any progressive magazine, action or movement (I believe) is to help bring about social change - a cultural change, if you will. As the old saying goes, you will catch a lot more flies with honey than you will with vinegar. I feel that Culturechange magazine is almost always drenched with vinegar.
What I don't want to read is anything that leaves me without hope, that expounds on other people as adversaries rather than others just like you and me who simply haven't changed their habits yet (you weren't born perfect, were you?), huge crimes already done by huge corporations that I can not possibly have any effect on (creating a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness in me) and that old "I am better than you" smugness. I don't like it with born-again Christians and I don't like it with born-again Environmentalists.
What I do want to read, specifically, are articles written by a wide variety of people from throughout the United States, clever organizing tactics that give me hope (if they also make me laugh, all the better), projects and campaigns that can be duplicated right here in our own town, things that pat me on the back for living an ever-more environmentally simple and safe lifestyle.
And finally, I'd like to see at least 1/2 of the energy currently going into this publication be re-directed towards forming environmental clubs with all age groups from grade school on up through Environmental Block
Clubs for adults or whole families. If this were done and done well, there would be no shortage of people to write articles and do the other tasks needed to make the magazine vibrant and self-sustaining.
I do not want a knee-jerk reaction to this "criticism." I'd just like to see some culture change within Culturechange.
JL responds: Good news, we have been advising an anti-roadkill club started by a 13 year old on the east coast. She was inspired by an article on this website. This website does not have everything, but it could do more with some more financial support! Delete my columns, but try some of the other articles and notices on this website by others. If there are websites we should link to, we are all ears--and vinegar, Honey!
CCL #27: July 26, 2003 The daily grind in a society mentally ill
July 26 - I was very impressed by the article, Mr. AmeriCop, inmate/warden - The daily grind in a society mentally ill by Jan Lundberg.
I began resisting the madness nearly 10 years ago, when I was in my 50s, not even able to put what I was doing into words. I quit working for the system and took on a life of poverty in order to do work that is meaningful and creative - for no pay. I learned to travel anywhere at the drop of a hat, be gone for any length of time with nothing but a small bag of clothes, my computer (if it is a long journey) and a box of letters from those who have no freedom.
I soon began to be hosted in tiny rooms by people who liked what I was doing and wanted to contribute in some small way to the greater good. Although they have not thrown off the oppression of the daily grind, they know, through me, that it can be done.
Because I am very vocal about the source of suffering for so many voiceless people, and too, because becoming an amplifier draws the attention of many that hate to be exposed, I have lived as if I''d one day have to defend myself in a court of law against unwarranted charges. I never knew what I'd say about why I won't hold a 'proper' job, live in other people's homes, and starve rather than take food stamps. But after reading this article, I understand clearly why I live this way and how I'll explain it. I'll probably be the only sane person in the room, but it doesn't even matter how it all turns out.
Although I have never lived in a prison, I've learned more about prison than I ever wanted to know and I am prepared to survive anything. Although I never want another person to control me, especially an insane one, I am prepared to live wherever, experience anything, and have absolutely no doubt that I will keep my inner freedom - my sanity if you will, until the day I leave the insane asylum.
That young lady from the sixties, Janice Joplin...She was so right when she sang, "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."
Thank you for putting into words what I could not.
CCL #26: July 16, 2003 Forming a Global Warming Crisis Council
Many letters came in on forming a global warming crisis council, so they are being put on a new webpage for the council. Go to the GWCC.
July 15 - Dear
July 7 - We're not ruled by fascists. That is simple-minded. The United States is a plutocracy, and was *created* to be a plutocracy. It was made the way it is by design, not by accident. Any close reading of the Federalist papers makes that pretty clear.
So money is the key. The rich rule. Fascistic symbolism is merely for purposes of manipulation of the population.
Second of all, you guys over there need to have a bit more hard-nosed view of human nature. We are in big, big trouble here, because human nature is *not* nice. We are, as Jay Hanson so neatly puts it, "the apex predator." We are NOT going to make nice when the oil begins to rise in price, forever. No, we are not going to make nice, at ALL.
I wish that were not true. But I fear it is.
June 26 - Hello again Jan,
CCL #23: June 13, 2003 Shattering illusions and building freedom are unpopular for now
July 2 - Or could it be the
ineptness of those who pretend to be the alternative?
21, 2003 - Sometimes it's worth it to risk economic disaster and outcast from
June 21 -Hello Jan
June 20 - You made a rough
effort to understand the motives and mentality of ordinary, even thoughtful
Americans but you do not understand empathy. When a group of people see their
house burning down and have no water or other apparent means of dousing the flames to accuse them of lethargy
June 20, 2003 - I suspect that Jan
Lundberg is the one who is under an illusion. Lundberg is saying that people
don't know what they want, and that Lundberg and other elites know better. The alternative is that Lundberg doesn't
know what everybody wants, and that all of the individuals in the U.S. have a
better idea of what they want than some elitists. The latter sounds more likely to me.
CCL #22: June 7, 2003 Money, materialism and sex: why money and materialism aren't the answer
June 20 - Dear Jan,
June 20 - Subject: Globalization? Global
June 7, 2003 - It has several times occurred to
me that some group of people might arise to supplant the current misuse of
property through a collective ownership agreement. Essentially,
contributing property gains access to all the property. There would be
agreements about uses of the property and so forth to carefully prevent abuses,
but the idea would be to allow maximum collective enjoyment and security.
May 27 - Could you please speak to the
flaunting of material possessions to compete for the more desirable of the
opposite sex? I ask this because I think it is a major prop of the
materialism in our society.
CCL #19: May 9, 2003 The tragedy of money relations and the alternative
CCL #18: May 2, 2003 The cost of oil security: No more warBecome informed, and act
Oct. 11, 2003 - Dear Jan,
I am writing in appreciation of your article, and to let you know that we
are following up on your generous offer to republish your article on our
non-commercial, nonprofit web site
(www.politicsofhealth.org/marketenemy.htm). I think you will find that our
interests are very much in line.
Jason Weston, Senior Editor
Politics of Health Knowledge Network www.politicsofhealth.org
CCL #15: April 7, 2003 U.S. civilization's weakness evident in family trends
CCL #14: March 2003 The peace movement and oil
CCL #13: March 2003 Sustainability starts with family solidarity
CCL #12: February 2003 Institute of Petroleum hears Sustainable Energy message
CCL #11: January 2003 Citizen petroleum councils: toward conservation, food security and peace
CCL #10: January 2003 7 notions for a livable new year
CCL #8: November 2002 Health care tribe: elder care "insurance"
CCL #7: October 2002 Ending U.S. oil tyranny
CCL #6: October 2002 The nature revolution
CCL #5: September 2002 Sustainable eating
CCL #4: August 2002 Where lies failure of the world summit on sustainable development
CCL #3: August 2002 Spare Iraq and the atmosphere, avoid oil shock
CCL #2: July 2002 Hunting and gathering in Ecotopia
CCL #1: June 2002 Alternative to techno-enslavement
On December 5 2003 the New York Times published this Opinion letter by Jan Lundberg:
Dec. 14, 2003 - Dear Jan,
Nov. 27, 2003 - Your letters are indeed interesting. With respect to Babylon and salinization, Saddam Hussein's grandest project 'The Third River' was planned to reverse the salinization and make the fertile crescent green again. The idea was to put down a fair amount of river water--renewable--and do moderately deep pumping--ten or twenty feet, I understood--to draw that water, now as brine, out at the bottom and dump it in a canal headed to the ocean.
I never heard what happened to the project, which may of course have been conceptually simple but impracticable.
"Has America's luck run out?"
Oct. 22 - I would agree, that a logical, sustainable society, is a bright potential future for mankind.
It appears clear to me, though, that the end of the fossil fuel era will be a period of widespread conflict, and untimely, unpleasant death. I've been
looking at the "situation" since 1998, when I first REALLY read Jay Hanson's dieoff website. I see no means to avoid Jay's "crash", which can be any disaster scenario you care to dream up. Frankly, I'd bet that it's going to be worse than we can dream up...
While we can't save the current infrastructure, there is still some time left to utilize it to put into place that which humanity SHOULD have been developing. But the time is short.
Do you have links or other referrals to "local" groups (I'm in Yuma, Arizona) who are taking appropriate personal actions?
It appears basic premises at your site are:
Absent miracle technology, somewhere between 1% and 10% of the present population is "sustainable."
The present "overshoot" population is being sustained on fossil fuels.
Fossil fuels are a finite resource, probably depleted in the coming decades.
There does not appear to be a peaceful, political, practical means to lower the population to sustainable levels within the remaining fossil fuels.
Therefore, I'd project we should expect:
Once the true relationship and dependency on fossil fuels is realized, even if we're not yet at "depletion," or even at a permanent inability for supply to meet demand, that there will be "significant" social unrest, on a global scale.
Ongoing "unpleasant" activities until the population is at/below sustainable levels, and competition for resources ends.
A dark-age following the crash.
Logically then, the future of humanity requires:
Knowledge and technology be preserved in manners and locations calculated to avoid the worst of the crash.
Healthy, educated, experienced, and trained individuals who survive the crash with the minimum of personal trauma, injury, etc.
Concentrations of supplies, resources, and energy pre-selected and stored sufficient to meet the needs of the core community thru the crash, and to provide a "surplus" to help get surrounding communities "back on their feet."
Where to put these ecovillages? It depends on what you believe is going to happen in the crash. They probably SHOULD be everywhere.
The time for action is "now". Unfortunately, I don't see it taking place.
Ronald Frederick Greek
Yuma, Arizona, USA
JL responds: Dear Ronald, Sorry, we don't have a
good local-based network. You can try permaculture groups and Earth
Oct. 7 Hello,
Sept. 29 The
only reason the world isn't in the middle of a catastrophic
war for resources (we are warring for resources,
as in Iraq, but not catastrophically...yet) is that
there are still enough to go around (more-or-less), and because
of nuclear weapons, which, if used, make all resources
unusable (assuming there are people around to use them)...
Sept. 10 - Hi,
Sept. 9 - Hello Jan,
Sept. 8 - I think you are starting to make an
impact. There seems to be an emerging concern about the imminent oil
Oct. 7 Hello, Jan
Sept. 29 The only reason the world isn't in the middle of a catastrophic war for resources (we are warring for resources, as in Iraq, but not catastrophically...yet) is that there are still enough to go around (more-or-less), and because of nuclear weapons, which, if used, make all resources unusable (assuming there are people around to use them)...
Sept. 10 - Hi,
Sept. 9 - Hello Jan,
Sept. 8 - I think you are starting to make an impact. There seems to be an emerging concern about the imminent oil crunch.
In my efforts to fight expansions of carring habitat, I have circulated some of your materials. They have been well received.
I also focus on the subliminal suburban socialism (the Soviet-style pricing of roads) that congests Rage Road and Bumper to Bumper Boulevard that connect McMansion Drive to Sprawl Mall.
See "The Elephant in the Bedroom" by Stanley Hart & Alvin Spivak or the summary of their work in "Suburban Nation" by Duany, Plater-Zyberk & Speck.
Keep up the good work!
Sept. 1 - I heard a theory from
Russia that oil is created non-biologically inside the Earth. Do you agree
with that? What are the implications? How fast is it being created, etc.?
JL responds: Hi Mike, I believe oil was biologically created, but
don't know for sure. I think the origin is irrelevant, because the creation is
not quick anyway, and we have to stop using the stuff.
Aug. 29 - Dear Jan,
responds: I don't believe sociology or any
ology is a valid approach in itself to understanding and changing culture.
Part of this is because specialization is a trap for myopia. I have read
a fair amount of sociological and related works, have thought and think about
these issues, but the whole reality is a big integrated fukkup called the
dominant culture. The family is key to any culture, and you don't need a
weatherman to know which way the wind blows. I notice and say (and email)
points that seem to be neglected, from whatever disciplinary standpoint.
Aug. 17 - Dear Sirs:
JL replies: The 64-dollar question is asked again: will rail get some support that would translate into sustainable renewable energy propulsion? We look for this information and it's very hard to come by. Any assistance would be appreciated.
Our group headed the anti-road construction movement for years, and we could not find much interest in boosting rail, nor could we get much support from rail interests whom we were serving in general. A paving moratorium was first suggested by our office in 1989 as a means of aiding AMTRAK. - JL.
Aug. 11, 2003 - Hey Jan,
JL replies: My own guess is that petroleum crash will hit the food situation first, and overwhelmingly, although you are right that climate change is even bigger as a factor on our agriculture and the ecosystem that is supposed to feed us naturally.
I would appreciate any further information on this. - Jan
July 25 - Culture change is the key, but it
doesn't happen soft and slow.
July 20, 2003 - Dear Friends,
July 16, 2003 - Dear Colleagues,
June 27, 2003 - Hi Jan,
June 14, 2003 - Aloha Jan,
July 8 - Although the war on Iraq took place in spite of your objections, I admire Arcata's courage and your resistance to the "Patriot Act", which is fundamentally a fascist law. George W Bushowitz and his Militant Corporatist Neocon owners care nothing for Planet Earth, only for their greedy visions of Power, Money and Oil.
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