Letters on plastics - section below
Jan Lundberg responds: Look who's talking, Jim -- YOU'RE doing a great job. Like, those car/booze/"music"-targeted kidz in
Rolling Stone got to hear some real stuff for a change thanks to you.
Hi Jan - just wanted to say nice work and keep it up.
Jan. Jan. You think Bush doesn't *know* about peak-oil? Hah. Cheney's
probably known about it for 30 years, or at least as long as he's been in the
oil business. Why do you think he fought so hard to keep the records of his
meetings with oil execs private? Because it's a sure bet that peak-oil was the
main topic of discussion, and Cheney doesn't want that to be a public
discussion. Not yet. Maybe not ever.
Dear Culture Change:
Jan Lundberg responds: Your research
museum sounds like a fun visit. Maybe I'll get out there.
[reply to reply:] Passenger car tires. Are being made from petroleum. No
hydrogen tires likely, Same for the nuclear tire. Digging up old tire dumps may
be THE growth industry in the next decade. I have worked with wood chip
gasifiers for small tractors, but even if that could be widespread, there is
still the tire problem. We need to restore the small family farm to every
neighborhood. Fidel's Havana grows half of its food within city limits, but then
he doesn't have the frost problem Our cities are vast concrete and asphalt
deserts, with absolutely no resources of their own, no water, no food, no
energy, nothing, and about 90% of Americans live there. I hope you have a little
soil to till. I am 77, with 70 acres. The big problem with that is that the
"haves" will be descended upon by the "suddenly have nots".
And the difference between civilized and savage is having missed nine
consecutive meals. The grasshopper and the ant? Was that Aesop?
Jan Lundberg responds: Thanks for writing and sending the link.
Your encouragement of a car-free, less consuming lifestyle is very much
appreciated! Thank you for your sensible messages. It is hard to go
against the tide that says spend, spend, spend.
Hi Culture Change -
"Activists and hipsters without a territory or plan" is moving in a very very good direction. I like it - parts of the analysis are deeply accurate. Definitely lots of work in bridging the enviro / sustainable and other progressive movements.
In NYC I certainly don't feel like I have a territory outside my own apartment - and a very few virtual connections. And I'm wondering when I have to leave the city to escape the consequences of peak oil, and where I will go. Perhaps to a more rural place where the community you describe can be more easily created? I hope that future issues will speak more to this.
Regards and thanks,
I've never liked ANSWER's shrill, sectarian approach. It would be nice to have them watch Monty Python's The Life of Brian. They don't inspire, they are a broken record saying the same things over and over and wondering why the "masses" don't respond.
Those who offer practical solutions to the crises upon us will have more influence in the years to come than those who offer mere rhetoric.
Hey hey, ho ho, hey hey ho ho has got to go!- Mark Robinowitz
There's also the problem that lots of foundation grants are ultimately tied to petroleum profits ...
Lots of liberal media, eco groups, etc. are dependent on these oil profits laundered through foundations
The peace movement blew it by letting Bush & Cheney get away with 9/11
Do you know of any eco group with paid staffers that is making a serious effort to figure out how we can ensure that Peak Oil results in a "permatopia" type scenario (ie. Powerdown by Richard Heinberg) and not neo-feudalism or dieoff?
I think that's a good column you sent, with many
I'll add one more, that those who support sustainable
growth should support or start a daily newspaper that
is ad free and fair.
I think a news voice outside the ad-driven mania would
help a lot.
Keep up the good work,
Tom Hendricks, ed. of Musea
the 13 year old monthly art/media zine.
The following are notes i came up with for a 10 minute monologue starting off my modest tv talk show here in Eugene
It is as your current essay suggests, connecting personal choices to
affluence and militarism. To blame bush and the corporations is not being honest.
What drives corporate globalization and war on humans and war on nature is affluence. People make choices [most of the time not even knowing it] and of curse, egged on by billions in advertising. The
distraction/entertainment culture is very effective in neutralizing common sense, integrity and even self interest
I've enjoyed receiving your essays. Here are a couple of recent hand-drawn pieces I made to pass out to the locals here in Waco, TX. (see home page, www.culturechange.org)
Question: Without this computer and internet, I would not have ever learned about culturechange. Yet, I've come to learn about the toxic nature of computers, the methods used to extract the ingredients of computer microprocessor chips and other components, the oppression and exploitation of peoples who perform the work to extract these ingredients, the pollution of environments, the probable final resting (dumping) places of computer trash (plastic, components, etc.)--i.e., in third world countries, and, of course the energy/electricity used to run these damn things..., etc. Can you tell me how you justify the contradiction of the use of this specific technology vs. the sustainability of our planet? Certainly, I, nor anyone else, will ever be able to rid ourselves completely of other such contradictions in how we live, but doing so--making lifestyle changes to regress to self-sustainability--is something that I try to do (as well as educating others about making such change) more and more everyday, due in part, to your and others' wisdom. For the past couple of years, I've been wanting to totally quit using email and internet, and, if possible, even word processing on computer (I'm also a writer). But by doing so, I feel I'd miss out on everything I've thus far benefited from by using a computer! Yet, my elders live 100% computer-free (of course, with the exception of the myriad of technologies that surround them in household items, infrastructure, etc.). Please help me out.
Ruben P. Salazar
Jan Lundberg responds: I'll bet I hate computers as much as you or anyone does! Let us remember that some of us are fighting fire with fire. So, we must use tools we ordinarily I think the solution is SHARING. If ten computer users did not have ten computers, but only one instead, this would help a lot to decrease resource use and foster a "new" way of relating to one another in this cooperation-challenged culture. As for myself, I aspire to go computer-free and do my website work from libraries, Kindo's, friends, etc. Buying a new computer is a cardinal sin when we can get a used one or rent one.
Thank you so much.
Sustainability is the key. The motivation is self-reliance. It is not taught in school. It is off the radar of politicians and unions, and the general society.
Have a great day.
Tony Pereira, ME, EIT
UCLA ME PhD Candidate
Please visit one of Tony's Website at:
Just a few items for your info and perhaps comment:
1. from truthout: The Green Dream: The Man Who Invented Ecotopia
. Having Tim Holt in Fort Bragg on 5/13 to speak and perhaps kick off a secession effort (community based).
3. Having George Lakeoff in Fort Bragg on 5/6 to begin focus on a serious campaign for community focus.
4. Planning a Bohemian Grove action 2nd/3rd week in July to kick off a.... revolution? NorthCoast Green coalition sponsorship with a bit of state assistance. Paul Encimer and Don Eichelberger are involved as well as Greens from Sonoma and Napa. (Paul reported a great turnout from Eureka for the 19th - 2000 folks for the second anniversary of Iraq slaughter.)
5. Kicking off a web Green Accord Forum development effort organized by community to bring local coordination tools to bear on preparing the way to the future.
~Bernie Macdonald, Mendocino County, California
The reason what you are suggesting won't work is that our society has become "dis-sociated" from our earth system. Dis-sociation is a "pathology" -- a dis-ease.
Our "dis-sociation" has caused us to create an "aberrant" social system which has no social or planetary consciousness.
While we go around acting in a seemingly "normal fashion" we are anything but; our collective dis-ease manifests itself in things like "overconsumption." Causes us here in the U.S. to use 40% of all of the world's illegally produced drugs and goodness only knows how much of the world's legally-produced drugs with only 5% of the world's population. Causes us to use approximately 40% of the world's resources with only 5% of the world's population.
The problem is, we have a "pain problem" not a drug problem. In reality, we have a "denial problem" not an over-consumption problem, or a pollution problem, or a problem with any of the other ways that this dis-ease manifests itself.
The "mis-diagnosis" causes many to treat the problem incorrectly as
you have done in this essay.
Were we a "healthy" society, the treatment you spell out here would work. But we are not healthy -- we are "dis-eased."
So first, we must treat the "dis-ease" and do it on a mass scale.
The healing must come before we can enact social transformation.
Please try to understand this.
Read the attached papers I am sending you.
With love and in peace,
It is really hard to believe that ANSWER did this, but i have heard other stories, like from Tikkun. You must understand, though, that ANSWER, though very good organizers, have many revolutionary Marxists among them who tend to be very talented organizers. David Corn and others have written about it. but, you cannot judge the entire face of antiwar protest by ANSWER.
Given though NO BLOOD FOR OIL is the dominant mantra -- how else would they explain our consumption of oil? since they are anti-capitalists, why would they object to boycotts or reduction of consumption within a suspect industry?
The failure of a real renewable energy initiative from our leaders is a sure sign they are not willing to search for alternatives to war.
How could ANSWER justify avoiding such an issue?
Nonetheless, you cannot diminish the success of the latest antiwar protest. two years ago -- more people protested the war globally than any time in history. it also has brought diverse people together in a way not accomplished for awhile. and ANSWER was not the only organizer of those huge protests and rallies.
- Sandi Brockway
GREETINGS! I WANTED TO WRITE AND LET YOU KNOW HOW MUCH I REALLY ENJOY THE
SITE AND THE MAILS I GET - TRULY OUTSTANDING, LEAST NOT OUTSPOKEN!! YEAH,
YOU ALL HAVE HEARD THIS 2000,000 TIMES, BUT IT'S SO TRUE! KEEP DOING WHAT
Again, much appreciation for sharing your perspective which I found thought-provoking even in this early morning hour. The awakening process of the disturbed, desensitized, and exploited masses will take creative approach and strategy I'm beginning to understand...while feeling also the weight of moments of doubt, despair and loneliness walking among those contributing to a conspiracy of silence without even seeming to know.
Much encouragement to you~
CCL #89 Ways to end car culture along with the globalized trade godzilla articles by Jan Lundberg and Julian Darley
With the price of gasoline soaring and other costs increasing relative to wages and salaries, I am shocked and amazed by the continuing domination of our land by large, expensive vehicles. I remember well the gasoline crisis in about 1973. And with the increased stress level in our society arising from the hectic pace and "need" to overachieve to pay for the high cost of "prosperity" why don't people recognize the truly high cost of motorized transportation and the urban sprawl? Life was so much better 50 years ago before rampant suburbanization.
Dear Culture Change:
Oh man. Talk about fantasy!
For someone who is as intelligent as you seem to be, who writes as eloquently as you do, you should probably know that you come through as a complete fanatic and have lost all credibility with anyone who may have wanted to help you with your causes. Quite frankly, you're starting to scare me, a liberal, vegetarian, pro-ecology tree hugger! I don't know what you and your colleagues are smoking but you really need to stop it and get real. Put down the pipe man! Cars are not going to go away in this country. People really do NEED them. It seems to me that you want to send civilization back before even the dark ages. That is way too much even for someone like me. You do know that you're wasting your time, right? If not, let me be one of the many that will tell you that you are wasting a brilliant mind with these utopian concepts. These ideas are YOUR utopia. Not mine nor anyone else's that I know. I work with many people who are moving towards a more sustainable environment. Surely you understand that working and playing well with others requires compromise, something you seem to have little or no appetite for. You need to broaden your understanding and find some sort of balance or you're just going to always be another freak crying out in the wilderness.
What is wrong with global trade? It makes the civilized world go around. We don't live in a bubble. What is wrong with clean cars? They don't pollute. What is wrong with buying new cars? Old cars can be recycled. The industry creates many jobs that people need to feed their families so they can live and grow. Real families who need financial resources to exist in this country, what to say in the world. Maybe you don't care about that but you are in the extreme minority. The only concept of yours worth talking about is a paving moratorium. We can certainly use more trees and less roads in this country but what is the problem with clean cars running on the roads we already have? Why not use your time, energy and intelligence to strive for that instead? It is certainly a more realistic objective and will help clean the environment up tremendously, despite what you think. The Earth is more resilient than you give her credit for. The only way you'll ever see the kind of world you envision is if a couple of asteroids hit the planet and wipe out civilization all together. Then, there will be no need for cars nor anything else for that matter.
You may know something about ecology and environmental sustainability but you don't know jack about humanity and your scientific method is questionable at best. Get the facts and get with the program!
You lost me,
Alfonse Pinto - New York
Jan Lundberg responds: You say people NEED cars. But does nature need cars? Can the climate handle cars? How many cars? Since less than half the air pollution associated with the automobile (including from the mining, manufacturing and disposal of the car) comes out of the tailpipe, "clean" cars aren't clean. Is slaughter from crashes okay, and did the victims need cars? Those are facts, and the truth can be our only program.
While I enjoy the overall theme of your work, you use too many attacking and labeling words and phrases to sound very alternative. Your notions that anything short of life exactly as you determine it should be are inferior and ought to be dismissed are fairly alienating, my friend. Is there a way to write in an inviting manner that might be more adaptive?
yours for a nonviolent future,
Tom H. Hastings
Director, Peace & Nonviolence Studies track, Conflict Resolution
Portland State University
Portland OR USA
Jan Lundberg responds: It
is indeed vital to promote peaceful thoughts, although exasperation and
action regarding the violence of the car are justified and people need to
get pissed. I suppose I am outraged because I am paying
attention. (Bumper sticker: "If you're not outraged, you're not
paying attention") If words bother you, what do you think of
action? The violence to the Earth by industry and consuming is
difficult to state adequately with mere words. The attack on the Earth
is what to confront, for the sake of a nonviolent future. There is
such a thing as self defense of one's (our common) home, but I'm just a
writer and songster. Your criticism prompts me to toss back this
analogy: One might dislike depaving because its forceful and radical, but
the paving was the real and violent problem that needs to be cured in like
fashion. The way I write is the best I can do as a
nonviolent person who is sounding an alarm bell. I believe you're onto
something good when you voice your concern, and I urge you to keep pursuing
this standard while upholding the ideals of truth and rational response to a
deadly threat. Please consider sending us some writing on this topic.
perhaps the current wealth redistribution from the poor to the rich may have an unintended effect... cooperatives... people working together, sharing and saving...
CCL #88Here comes the nutcracker - Peak oil in a nutshell
Thank you for your scary but informative article at BlueGreenEarth.com (which I first saw reprinted at EnergyBulletin.net).
I would venture to guess that there is probably little we as individuals and small groups can now do to change the basic dynamics of what will occur as prices begin to rise. Politicians are simply not going to acknowledge the threat, and even if they did, the possibilities for planning are probably limited.
It would be nice to think that governments would figure out how to manage the remaining supply -- and, of course, they MIGHT surprise us and do so -- but there is probably no good way to predict, in detail, what kind of management and allocation will actually work until the event begins.
However, the Bush Administration, always ready to make a bad situation much, much worse, may resort to the use of nuclear weapons in a vain attempt to control the oil supply.
Therefore, I think it makes sense for individuals and groups to concentrate NOW on trying to head off the use of nuclear weapons in this context. Such use would have truly unknown consequences, including possible damage to the atmosphere, which might reduce the human population to a far worse condition than would the effects of "ordinary" resource collapse.
Some humans (out of around 6 billion) are sure to survive almost any catastrophe. But in what circumstances will the survivors be forced to live?
If we CAN prevent the use of nuclear weapons, the result will be just one more sad day of reckoning for humanity, though of course on a new scale.
If the world's population subsequently drops by 50% or more, I will be crying with everyone else, but at least some humans will survive in reasonable shape to begin a new way of life.
On the other hand, if we let Bush use the weapons, the same basic scenario MIGHT still hold, but it seems far less certain. There is no good way to estimate how much overall damage a nuclear war might do.
I say STOP BUSH NOW.
That task is likely doable, assuming the application of significant
organization and a lot of hard work by people who care about our world.
Just to say that i appreciate your comments in e-letter 87. You probably know that I have been putting material for global educators to use at http://www.arts.unsw.edu.au/tsw/
My outlook is quite pessimistic but I have no doubt that The Simpler Way could solve the major problems...if people wanted to take it. I am attaching an item that might be of interest. (Readers may write to him at the address below or email him regarding his Word Document "Thoughts on The transition to a Sustainable Society" (highly recommended by Culture Change),
School of Social Work,
University of New South Wales,
Kensington. 2052. Australia.
02.93851871 Fax: 02 96628991
right on...the "clean" car thing fries me...
You won't live very well unless you replicate, in effect, those who have gone to the wilderness in Alaska or whatever, built their cabin, and live off the land, and claim to have given up the techno civilization they sought to escape. Those folks, of course, are vulnerable to my classic question: "Where did you get your ax?" (or nails, gun, ammo, traps, saws, radio, medical emergency service, medicine, eyeglassses, pencil, clothes, pot & pans, etc etc). I insist that those who sneer the tech that supports us are really left no choice but to make grandiose, romantic claims, while in fact depending upon the culture that they claim to despise to supply them with their essential needs. They are rather like the inhabitants of a space station. , "independent" very temporarily, but at heart dependent on the activities of society.
the same time, while recommending car-free, etc, the car-free and other
champions of de-techery dodge any responsibility for the obnoxious
aspects of such dependence. I speak from experience, sir! The only
hope i see is to use less stuff, to avoid materials and procedures that are
wasteful or dangerous (especially in the long run), and to arrange our
affairs as far as possible, through design, to recycle, regenerate, and
operate in the manner of the nature in which we are imbedded. This does
not mean living like a beast of the field; there are too many of us for that
now. And, in my opinion, living as a human donkey on a farm is no better a use
of humans than is living as a cog in the machine.
I know no renewable energy advocate who does not also advocate dramatic increases in efficiency. We need to stand on both of these legs. In our work at Climate Solutions, we advocate a dramatic increase in production of clean electricity and clean fuels. We also advocate cleaner, more efficient cars, and redesigning human settlements to make other modes of transportation more feasible. We advocate increasing windpower, solar power, biomass power, geoheat power, and are looking into ocean power. We also
advocate efficiency as the quickest way to reduce greenhouse emissions. (The Northwest, where we focus, has saved two Seattles worth of electricity in the lat 20 years and aims to save at least one-half a Seattle more by 2010.) This is not "technofix" v. conservation. It's both.
Will it be enough? Good question. I don't know. I do know, from studying energy technology, that the $200 billion spent on the Iraq War would have been a huge downpayment on a new energy system. If society decided to make it a priority, it would be done. Plant the Great Plains with drought-resistant prairie grasses instead of irrigated grains and set up a biomass to cellulosic ethanol system. Build the trasnmission network to deliver the massive windpower potential of the plains and coasts. Deploy a fleet of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (85% less liquid fuel consumption). Develop solar windows, roofs and sidings. Build super-efficient green buildings. Create a smart electrical power grid that can manage millions of small-scale generators and energy storage units.
All these are technology-driven, but they are not technofixes, and here's why - Technology does not exist in a vacuum. Decisions to develop and deploy technologies are embedded in a political economic framework. To make these technology solutions happen requires change in the political and economic realm. That is why I grow quite concerned at what I think is a false dichotomy between rapid technology advance and conservation. A great deal of social and political will must be summoned in coming years for what
must be a major societal project to transform our energy system, from production to end use. A new Apollo or Manhattan Project has been mentioned. Personally, I think the scale is more like World War II. And, yes, peak oil will probably drive it. As will, I hope, the dawning realization we are about to plunge into an utterly catastrophic climate change. It will not be either-or, but both-and.
Patrick MazzaClimate Solutions
Jan: I always wonder at the perverse (d)evolution of schemes and
programs: the income tax, for example, started out as a progressive system to get very rich people to pay for those who weren't. Now, the extremely rich and corporate conglomerates are having a field day avoiding everything from income and estate taxes to underwriting social safety nets. How much wealth is ever enough? And where is the right wing's Christian compassion for the poor? As society degenerates, gated communities won't stand against
the downtrodden awakenings you describe, let alone microbial onslaughts that don't respect income or status,
I've been thinking that what we really need is a WORD for what's happening: the slow but constant erosion of the rights and circumstances of the ordinary citizen (the "little guy," the downtrodden).
We'll never be able to talk about what's happening if we don't have a word--or at least a phrase--to refer to. We can't say "Bush trodded down again today..."
I thought maybe you'd be in a position to hold a kind of contest, calling for entries.
Thanks for considering this. Thanks for your musings, which always seem right-on.
My deepest appreciation for the subject line! As well as the content of this letter!
My heart yearns for reconnection, for kinship, for the natural way of existence from which we come, but who do we trust? The tools for cultivating our unique and personal intuition, instinct, awareness, and the ability to discern manipulative and deviant intent were not taught some of us...after taking more abusive treatment than we should, we retreat in isolation, disconnection, and despair sadly thinking this some sort of protection.
I am grateful for the lesson realizing this protection is only temporary; that the deeper need for community and fellowship will give one the courage to seek healing and reconnection.
"Grievous abuse and deprivation at the hands of the greedy and deviant"...How debilitating for those of us who experience this treatment, this hatred within our own 'family'...How refreshing it is to read the words of truthful observation and personal knowledge and experience purposefully kept silent.
There seems to be a deep fear of naming things as they are. The desensitizing conditioning and distractive tactics have created madness within the minds of those who refuse to acknowledge the truthful intentions of this destructive and exploitative system they either directly or indirectly support by their lack of understanding, resistance and genuine concern. My lesson has been facing the fear of re-entering society in order to seek those of like mind with effort to unite and resist the mass force against those who do not embrace the hypocritical and self-hating ways of this society.
Currently I'm a full time student here at Seattle Central Community college, putting energy into one 13 credit course this quarter titled Art and Anarchy. The reading material has been heavy with such titles as The Moon Is Down by John Steinbeck, We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, and Black Rain by Ibuse Masuji. Yesterday I absorbed "Barefoot Gen" an anime about the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Words cannot describe my feelings or reaction.
I am only now becoming fully aware of the power of this justification of perpetual war...power through the continuous use of certain words playing on certain emotions of those hearing and viewing the necessary supportive philosophy, propaganda, and empty rhetoric. My heart is heavy with understanding. My eyes are opening to the reality of what we face. And with this understanding I feel responsibility in offering my energy and knowledge in aiding others in reaching this place of purpose giving a desperately needed sense of purpose, camaraderie, and validation for the ancient rage some of us are aware of inside of us refusing to allow us to remain in retreat.
For one who has chose withdrawal, fearing betrayal, not yet knowing how to fight back in wisdom, it has been a path of continuous awakening and absorption. I am learning to understand the intent and self-justification of the war machine, analyzing the power of the conditioning and manipulation tactics, sick aggression and force, ignorant greed and endless desire for power and possession...This self-hatred. Because I want to resist and help others know their own power and right of resistance I must know how to counter with words and creative expression as we discuss reasons why people give up without even knowing they are doing so.
I yearn to understand and to fight against a system that is destroying my daughter's-all of the children's-futures. We live as if exchanging labor for pay and acquiring material wealth is the only validation of our existence. We are disconnected, some choosing consciously and selfishly to remain isolated in their individual pursuits, being bought by the distractions and entertainment constantly surrounding us. We refuse to acknowledge there is a time to say no! Enough! I have enough! No more, thank you! We live as if we can never get enough of anything...never ending desire...
It is always refreshing to read your words. The encouragement I've been given through your thoughts, experiences, and insight has been sustaining when the words from the majority of mouths speaking around me are empty with their actions contradicting what they are saying.
Many of us take the horrific abuse and exploitation 'lying down" or in shameful retreat because we were taught we were NOT strong enough to defend ourselves, that we are "ill" if our goals aren't material wealth, self-validating careers, property, ownership, dominance and control...we are taught that what we feel ISN'T real, that the truths of our perception are actually lies, that we could not possible KNOW ANYTHING unless we are taught it by another!!! For some of us the very effort towards healing while attempting to survive is an accomplishment in itself.
The "lying down" are actually those walking, carrying weapons, whether they are guns or credit cards...these are the ones who are "taking it" only denying that fact in their disillusionment. Those actually lying down in the depths of despair only need to be shown gentleness, some compassion...understanding for who they are, where they are in their lives, and why. We need to hear words of encouragement, to be woken up and reminded of our innate human dignity, of our inner intuitive knowledge, our unique beauty and purpose in being, and the powerfully validating connection to all life! The negative, self-separating word conditioning and isolation (nuclear family) we've experienced our whole lives have replaced the stories, songs, lessons in understanding and sense of a unified tribe we come from.
Thank you for reminding me to ask that question of myself again: why do we give up. This is what they need and want, and we must see this and refuse.
Being from a small farm, the Seattle is quite stimulating. But the reminder of the reality of the plight of my brothers and sisters on the streets and in the desolate neighborhoods keeps me keenly aware of why I feel something is greatly wrong, why I'm here, and that my energy is needed. Also, my experience with small town usa is that there seems to be a greater concentration of sexism, racism, homophobia, and classism saturating the atmosphere for those who are aware, with less support for those who are 'non-haters'.
Please accept my apology for the rant...no offense intended:)
Again, my deepest appreciation.
(Sent to Berkeley, California city hall:)
I am so glad to hear that this project is becoming a reality. It is a great day when the leaders of the environmental movement are honored in name and in deed.
The David Brower Center is to be a leading center for the environmental preservation movement and from what I have recently read, the center planners are considering nearly DOUBLING the number of parking spaces on site.
This, instead of working to double the amount of public transportation to the area, is an insult to the memory of David Brower and the many fine environmental activists that have followed in his footsteps.
For the center planners to play into the hands of the lowest common denominator - car transportation- in this day in age, in a leading city like Berkeley, in memory of one of our greatest leaders, is more than shameful.
Please rethink this plan, using the good sense and principles of the Sierra Club. More pavement is not the long-term solution that any of us believe in. Be a leader and lead through your actions, like David Brower taught us to do.
April C. Virk (nee Richards)
(the writer was employed at Alliance for a Paving Moratorium -- now Culture Change -- in 1998)
I was delighted to read your explanation of the reign of ego today and a hint of Eastern spirituality in your reference to Yoga and "union" in Sanskrit. I hope you bring more of that to your reading public.
Justice Xpress magazine
Thank you for such a wonderful letter. You've really hit on what I believe is the core of our collective problems here on planet earth. No amount of ridiculous democratic politicking will amount to anything unless individuals begin to see through the samsara of our egos.
ear Culture Change,
There is a difference between NARCISSISM and a HEALTHY EGO -- or self respect. I think psychology refers to a "super ego" for the more narcissistic superficial entitlements. The ID, the primitive survival instincts.
One thing that surprises me about many progressives is the lack of knowledge regarding psychology. I often remind others that the reason why we are still at this level of understanding and progress is the failure of a real men's awareness movement, and the death of feminism. Very very few understand what I am saying. But, humans seem to be very addicted to polarization. Americans are still clinging to the Cold War and misogyny -- artifacts of narcissism that create very negative consequences.
It is a matter of completely creating new role models. But how now that we have destroyed feminism and created a reactionary men's backlash?
BTW, there are times efficiency is compassionate. But, it would be great if we understood when it was not.
p.s.: I am afraid narcissism is going to be humans' undoing -- and dissociate disorders due to the speed in which we traumatize each other. If the core does not hold... - SB
I think this is an important analysis. I have been contemplating an essay along these lines: Ego is our primary stance in the world. The infant is in a blissful state where their ego _is_ the world. Maturation from child to adult depends on the process of differentiating one's self from the rest of the world - meaning both the social and the physical environment. Success in this process depends on realising that one's self-hood is a part of, not antithetical to, the rest of the world. Aberrant maturation may lead to attempts to control the immediate personal environment by (over)ordering it (as in obsessive compulsive disorder, OCD), by manipulating it or coercing it (as in sociopathy) or suffering it (as in paranoia). In these psychiatric states the individual is broadly alone. There are other states where the poorly developed ego finds community with other egos in a similar state, and their community then exists within the world as a subset, bearing traits of OCD, sociopathy and paranoia, and manifesting as cults, racist and fascist groups - or indeed as oligarchies. We must confess that our own green groups are not necessarily innocent of these traits.
The question is, what is the optimum stance? It is to feel our place as an ego in relation to a world/environment which is a system that is essentially positive and beneficial. After all, the gaian system has produced life out of materials, and consciousness out of life. Within this consciousness there is a thread of rationality and goodness. Who knows, time and the right conditions - which perhaps includes a nudge from the right memes - rationality and goodness might displace the ego-bound, destructive monkey mind that dominates the present world and emerge as the guiding motif.
Which would be nice.
Thank you for stimulating this line of thought.
Speaking of ego-bound monkey mind, have you been following the Votergate story? I have an intro page on
Beautifully and powerfully written -- thanks!!
Peace, Love, and Light,
There is much sense in what you say in your latest e-letter and DIY should be encouraged as it can make a contribution in the difficult times emerging. I am puzzled, however, that you do not mention that the current level of consumptive society is due to the exuberant use of exhaustible natural resources, particularly oil and, in some regions natural gas, water and or fertile soil. A consequence of this unsustainable use of natural resources has been the irreversible degradation of the environment by waste production. That is, these human activities have resulted in the draw of the net natural worth even as the population has expanded. This is unsustainable. Recognition of this fundamental fact would foster means of alleviating the decline, like DIY.
Nov. 8, 2004
JL responds: I finally thought of something to say in response:
Earth has no more time for
electoral mistakes (JL
responds:) When people are in the streets in great numbers -- and I clearly
stated it should be nonviolent (although the police can initiate violence in
order to intimidate) -- there can be such pressure as to change policies
radically, no matter who is power whether Democrat or Republican. Voting alone
does not cut it. After all, where has it gotten us so far?
CCL #78 Teresa Heinz Kerry for First Lady White House election endorsement
CCL #77 On"greening the petroleum economy" The technofix isn't.
Oct. 26, 2004 - Dear Jan,
I just read your latest writing and was very pleased to see you have taken Amory Lovins to task.
I returned from Cuba last night after a 10 day study on local communities. Your last sentence "Then, we can and must recreate society that features a return to cultural values of sharing, saving, cooperating with and celebrating our families, communities and the ultimate source of life: wild, untrampled nature." is well underway there.
Oct. 25, 2004.- Dear Jan,
In Washington state a lot of wheat straw is burned. A certain amount of that burning is a called for every few years, as part of a strategy for managing certain insect and other blights, though that is probably also a result of industrial agricultural methods.
Like virtually everything, the range of issues surrounding the use of what some people think of as agricultural waste streams is complex. Years ago I was in a meeting of leaders in the area of forest preservation - it was actually a follow-up strategy meeting after a group of foundations held a funders' briefing on forest preservation through wood demand reduction. I presented at the briefing on alternatives to wood for construction and the barriers to those alternatives. There were people there talking about all wood uses and alternatives to wood so it covered pulp and paper, construction, pallets, furniture, fuel, and miscellaneous uses.
I was sitting next to Donella Meadows and listening to various people talk about the various yet to be recovered "resources" available for their particular interest area, and when it came to straw, it struck me that we were all using the same USDA statistics on the quantity of straw available and each talking about what we could do with 100% of that supply - the pulp and paper folks, the bio-fuels folks, me - talking about straw bale construction and straw panel products... as if it all was available to each sector that wanted to use it.... I mentioned this to Dana and she said I was right and that it was a common problem.
And there are other problems that some of us see quite clearly, a big one being the problem of technological optimism as a way of avoiding the need to reduce consumption, especially in the developed countries (or overdeveloped countries as we like to call them). I think we need to be cautious and skeptical when it comes to new technologies or miraculous solutions that sound too good to be true. At the same time, we need to guard against knee-jerk pessimism and rejection of anything that sounds positive, because I know of a number of excellent technologies and systems to do things like clean up contaminated soil that have been fought and killed by environmentalists who couldn't believe that there could be a company that had integrity and a better technology that worked well.
As for resources, have a look at our website (www.dcat.net) and let me know what you are looing for specifically and I'll see what I can connect you with.
CCL #75An activist's memo on the pepper spray-by-Q-tip trial
Dear Jan Lundberg,
JL responds - I think that if you remain caught, try to exit -- step by step, within and without. I don't subscribe to a ceiling (implying progress), but I'm not very familiar with the literature. Is it not clear we simply have to change a lot before we can approach sustainability? I would question "will" rather than "could" as to getting to a successful transition; as you see I believe our extinction is possible or perhaps likely within a short time. Breaking through the barrier of self-interest is fairly simple if we look at successful models of social organization, such as tribes in their traditional, indigenous states. To me, true self-interest does not really flow from materialistic pursuit. Obviously, we have ruined so much of the traditional, evolutionary model across the globe that we will need a lot of restoration both of the environment and our humanity.
CCL #The rise and fall of Sustainable Energy Institute, 1988 - 2004
I was saddened to hear that you are to some extent stepping down. However, have watched you fight the good fight for some years. I am now pushing for the same things through Community Service and our new program Community Solutions. My stepping up is because of what you and others have written over the years.
We don't normally know who we influence or how. But rest assured you have influenced me.
JL responds: I might be more accurately stepping out than stepping down. Incidentally, someone brought your work to my attention recently in a most positive sense. I hope to catch up, which I'll do via your website. Thanks for writing. It's a pleasant shock when anyone says our work was an important influence.I believe the next essay will be of interest. I'm sending the draft for your review, along with news on NPR's coverage of the post-oil world (August 23, 2004, interview with JL).
JL responds: I'm glad that you found the essays interesting.
I've thought, what the heck -- better to speak out than regret not doing it.
Inspiring as ever, but sad to hear that you are 'moving on'. I
am sure this is not an easy decision to make, it sure ain't easy to get by in
the system we have set up (or had set up around us!. You have certainly inspired
us, and our bikes wear your stickers with pride (even here in the UK). Best of
luck in the next phase.
JL responds: Thanks for the kind words! I've been feeling nostalgic about the Auto-Free Times magazine and the stickers, but things change, and it was kind of an error for me to go the route I did -- but it was kind of glorious. And your message certainly helps make it worthwhile. I'll keep the essays coming; got a couple of further out ones up my sleeve.
Thank you Jan,
one of those words that may need to be qualified more than is ordinarily
done. Most understand that we are talking about PETROLEUM based
plastics....but, to just say "plastic" is to lose a chance to remind
people, and educate others, that plastics can be made from agricultural
materials, especially and most productively, HEMP. To what degree the
world's petro-plastic-related pollution is due to the insane Prohibition of
hemp, or even the insane failure to subsidize and promote it energetically, is a
JL responds: I agree that hemp is a most helpful plant and that its products are great. There are other plants that also have great products. What I learned from my study of plastics is that hemp and other plants won't supply the quantity (and quality) of plastics we are accustomed to and that most people anticipate as possible or necessary. I believe I dealt with your issue in my report. There is nothing against hemp legalization in my essay, but it would go against the logic of the evidence to turn my main findings into a message of supporting alternatives to plastic. The alternatives that hemp offers, that aren't plastic, are the most feasible and attractive: for cloth, rope, paper, seeds for food and oil, etc. I urge you to read my whole report and see how we need to forget the plastic fantastic lover and adjust to a less product-oriented world.
In response to JL's answer, Mr. Jonik writes again:
* Other plants can be used for plastics and other products but cannot compete vis-a-vis no pesticides needed, no bleach needed, minimal water needed, strength of fiber, and range of growing...and number of crops a year.
* The Hemp issue is one of the best areas to put the PETRO-plastics industry on the ropes, to expose their psychopathic behavior...their irresponsibility in not paying for the harms they do globally.
* With proper legislation and incentives, tons of plastic would not be
used or needed. It's criminal, for one thing, that unrecyclable plastics (Number three and up) are tolerated.
* How much study, research and development is done to find alternatives to the now "necessary" petro-plastics?...like the ones used in high tech areas. Probably none. Funding for this is as rare as funding for medical marijuana research.
* The history of plastics includes DuPont's work to originate and push the hemp/cannabis prohibition PRECISELY to eliminate a competitor to its plastics and synthetic fibers. DuPont thinks hemp is pretty powerful.
* Lets see how viable the petro-plastic industry is if the compensation to victims is calculated in...and if it has to actually PAY for its resources at market rates.
* Remember Henry Ford, before he got dissuaded by some means, promoting hemp plastics for his cars. A photo of him bashing a car with a sledge hammer to show the strength of the hemp plastic is common in hemp literature. You could probably Google it under "Ford Hemp Sledgehammer" and get a hit.
* Plastic crap is everywhere because its artificially cheap...and because folks don't know they pay ANYWAY in municipal trash taxes and medical bills, cuts in social programs, and etc.
* A zillion people are in prison and "in the system" because of the drug war hemp aspects. They are in prison so we can have cheap (dioxin-delivering, resource-depleting, polluting, turtle-killing) plastic, for one thing. This is why I believe hemp ought be in discussions of any plastics...or pesticides, or chlorine or logging or paper etc.
Hate to see it left out.
JL responds: It is fine to include hemp in any discussions on, for example, alternatives to trees being turned into paper. There needs to more research on plastics from hemp. But there would be no useful purpose in promoting any panacea for plastics in the context of an overpopulated land where consumption is out of control. The amount of land that would have to be planted with hemp and other sources for biomass would be unrealistic and prohibitive for today's "needed" quantities of raw material and biomass-fuel. The point of my report is that filling today's "need" for plastics with alternative sources is the wrong approach unless the plant-plastics would be for much smaller quantities. It is vital for technofix visionaries to quantify what present resources or technologies would be substituted with what alternatives, for how many people, and for how many years. We won't have a chance to implement sustainable alternatives unless we first reject materialist consumption, e.g., plastics in general.
JL responds: I wasn't trying to scare people, but people should be very scared of plastic and reliance of petroleum. Getting scared by a new situation is fundamental to learning something requiring action. I will not soft-pedal the facts even if they frighten. Time is running out to hope tjat people will pay attention to calm statistics, for example -- assuming the key stats could even get out into the mainstream.
CCLFrom Jan Lundberg, Culture Change:
The Global Warming Crisis Council (GWCC) has been going almost a year, and has a listserve that shares essential articles and commentary. The most recent post exposes government/corporate complicity against the climate, yet offers hope. The story appears after our publications-announcement below.
If you want to learn about the GWCC and consider taking the Pledge for Climate Protection, and get on the GWCC list, see: <http://www.culturechange.org/global_warming_crisis_council.html> When we were the Auto-Free Times magazine and the Alliance for a Paving Moratorium we distributed the bike sticker "Turn the ignition, melt a glacier." If we were still in the sticker business, we might put out "Iraq: a distraction from war upon planet." It's hard for people to come together to take action to improve their communities and fight for the biosphere with a man like George Bush wielding power. He's leading the way to his cherished Armageddon, but we'd still have Carmageddon even if he had not "won" the presidency. What can we do, under the circumstances? Plenty. As an example:
Thanks to one persistent journalist, our international editor Pincas Jawetz, the United Nations links to our occasional coverage of climate change/UN affairs, and this opens people up to Culture Change and the Pledge for Climate Protection. We are drawing more attention from the mainstream due to our website's coverage and article-syndication. We help our new readers reject the business-as-usual, study-the-problem formula for non-action. What we all need to see is many people taking climate awareness to the next level. Please share your ideas on what that could be -- put it to the GWCC and help stimulate action! Your feedback to me is welcome, too. Meanwhile,
"Have a Global Warming Day" ( - the Depavers song, broadcast from the Kyoto UN Climate Change Conference),
July 25, 2004 - Working with governments
won't be as productive as teaching industry how to operate more honestly,
efficiently and more ecologically responsibly. Amory Lovins' team at Rocky
Mountain Institute in Snowmass. CO, and his former wife, Hunter, all over the
world is doing just that. Let's team up with them and win!
JL responds - Lovins and company are for "clean cars," an oxymoron. Not only do such cars not get at most of the air pollution involved with cars (consider the mining and manufacturing, as I've said in the New York Times), any car demands roads and parking lots, and presents a safety hazard. And if we must have cars, how many millions can be made and maintained, for how many short decades on an evolutionary scale? Lovins and company definitely know how to pull in the big bucks: promoting the technofix is sine qua non for "sustainable funding," as hungry capitalists cannot picture an end to growth. None of my comments are meant to diminish the other fine work the Lovins have done. To read another view against cars but in favor of different high technology, see the letter from Andy Kunz at the bottom of this section under Transportation.
Dear Jan - Our species hasn't just gone crazy since this thing called civilization. We've been a bit daft from the get-go, and then as now it was some of us more than others.
And I think that madness or simple bad attitude only matters as much as it matters now because there are just so very many of us. What would the planet care if we were all land-raping idiots, if all of us added up to two, or ten?
We are in an especially precarious time, and one in which it isn't really all that surprising that we might be showing signs of getting a little crazy at a time like this.
Here's one quick glimpse into the why of it. In 1962, in an article for Scientific American, the National Institute for Mental Health's psychologist John Calhoun described results of overcrowding in other animals. The title of his article was "Population Density and Social Pathology." Densely packed, we critters become very extreme in our behavior.
I wouldn't pin all our current modes of madness on overpopulation. It's one factor, and a biggy, but it's still not the only kid on the block.
Think B.F. Skinner. One of his more intriguing findings was that, when animals are about to give up a behavior, they do it in a blind fury before it disappears. Skinner called this burst of behavior the "extinction burst." Well, I may apply it differently than he intended and differently than his research might confirm, but I can't help but wonder if a lot of the panicky rush to scrape the bottom of the global oil barrel or to cut the last few stands of old growth timber aren't driven the same basic impulse that drives any other extinction burst.
Çold Mountain, Cold Rivers
PO Box 7941, Missoula, Montana 59807
CCL #68Can the ecopsychologically disturbed citizenry question legitimacy of rulers?
Great question, and I think that Paul Shepard put together as good a nutshell answer as anyone has:
"The idea of a sick society is not new. Bernard Frank, Karl Menninger, and Erich Fromm are among those who have addressed it. Sigmund Freud asks, ' may we not be justified in reaching the diagnosis that, under the influence of cultural urges, some civilizations -- or some epochs of civilization -- possibly the whole of mankind -- have become neurotic?' . I shall move to an animal image to suggest that the only society more frightful than one run by children, as in Golding's Lord of the Flies, might be one run by childish adults." - Paul Shepard. Introduction. Nature and Madness.
Your choice of the term "ecopsychologically disturbed" covers both ecos -- economics, and ecology. We are as mad with our money as with our fisheries and forests, and for much the same old reasons.
The concept of a disturbed citizenry has a hugely diverse history, one expressed from far outside the realms of ecology or psychology. Every now and again, it will show up in the pages of, say, the Wall Street Journal, either to cite the old classic book on mass hysteria and popular delusion, or to remind investors of the more recent "irrational enthusiasm" that made suckers of millions who kept paying higher and higher prices for telecoms and dot.coms (and, next, homes.)
(The old classic on mass hysteria and popular delusions made some of the hard-core academics sniff with disapproval, and one result was a rigorously scientific study published as a book, The June Bug. And famous research projects including "the Mid-town Manhattan Study" further But the old classic might still be the truer vision of widespread madness.)
Our tendency toward widespread madness can be opportunity for the worst of politicians, and a trap for the best of them. Moses Naim, editor of Foreign Policy, recently wrote that we miss the point if we put all the blame for the Iraq mess on Duh!bya's frail shoulders. He cites serious failings elsewhere in society, including the media. But even he misses the fact that the people were caught off guard by their inattention and ignorance, and then swept up with anger and
panic that welled up from surprise, so that no sane politician dared talk straight to the frenzied mob.
The same thing shows up when both Duh!bya and Kerry pander to that
mob by promising cheap oil. Spreading fairy tales is no credit to either presidential candidate. Kerry, who presumably knows better, may be the guiltier of the two.
Thanks for gettin' my wheels spinning. Lookin' forward to your part two on madness in America.
Hello Jan -- first let me
say that I respect, nay LOVE your comments and that they stand HEAD AND
SHOULDERS ABOVE most anything else I have found. I would contribute money to you
... and will in future if at all possible -- but I'm puzzled by your choice of
words in these matters you now discuss ... I know, you're reaching for more
powerful words to break through the outright mass insanity ... but
"fuck" means, most basically, the sex act -- which is fundamentally
holy. I can only guess that its corruption (I would say) to be an insult in the
vernacular comes from the demonization of same-sex relationships, particularly
between men. But -- wait a minute -- these are actually fundamentally holy too.
No actual criticism here! -- your "stuff" is too good for that -- but
I don't think this word works for what you're attempting. Thanks so much, hope I
can send a few $ your way in the future
JL responds - Rick, thanks for the kind words. I should have provided an introductory anecdote for the essay you read: One of my nephews and I happened to have an intense conversation about how "fucked" Americans are. What I was left with was the question, are Americans really fucked or not? Seems there's evidence they/we are, but the subject matter deserved careful analysis. You are right that the word has powerful connotations. Yet, many words in English have more than one meaning. Anyway, the word is something almost everyone can relate to besides applying it to the sex act; Dick Cheney was probably not thinking of sex when he told the Senator "Go fuck yourself." Thanks for the thoughts, and yes, support is vital for this project to continue. - Jan
Very good - yes, I thought F911 was tame compared to what I know about the Bush administration, but it also was about as much as the average American can take. Taking this issue beyond, to the ultimate fact that we are eroding the cliff we stand on is really beyond them, and what to do about it is the zillion dollar question, not that one dollar will do much good when we fall over the brink.
At this point, we do seem stuck on just getting "Anyone but Bush" into the Oval Office and hoping we can work from there, though it is certainly clear Kerry isn't going for real system change.
Have just finished reading John Dean's "Worse than Watergate," which is the most damning book about Bush admin policies I have read yet. Dean devotes a section to the environmental damage Bush is doing and all the legal and extralegal means he uses to overturn and undermine even the inadequate laws we now have. He cites global warming as the major problems it is. If everyone would just read his book - and "Against All Enemies."
Susan George's "The Lugano Report" is a real killer on the corporate destruction of the world. She's an exec of the TransNational Institute.
Keep up the good work.
---I agree wholeheartedly.
July 4, 2004
July 1, 2004
June 8, 2004
June 7, 2004
Jan responds: I hope people saw and checked out the link at the bottom of the essay that takes the websurfer to the Pledge for Climate Protection. On the whole, it seems that a rebellion by the conscious few could at least set up alternative systems without needing the permission, or attracting the scrutiny, of others.
June 7, 2004
CCL #64Al Gore fires up hearts but oozes myth
Dear Culture Change:
Dear Culture Change:
CCL #61 Movements with too careful leadership = stagnation Daily cultural revolution or annual marches?
Good Points in the newsletter. I'll add
one. Too often the problem of greed is a projection of an unresolved and
hidden conflict between the child and his parent. Too often its a breast
feeding problem that becomes a lifes drive to accumulate. Let's end the
problems within us - then the need for greed goes and we see this Money is most
important in societies that don't share.
April 3, 2004 - Hi,
I am pleased that you have your base in
Arcata -- I spent the better part of four years there in the early 60s (61 - 65)
and then headed off to B.C. to live on islands in shacks and on boats.
Some of the best years were lived with one or two hundred a month income.
Now I am working for Indian Tribes, and making okay money for the time
being. But the income stretches back into the sustainable community, and
much is used to build a cash-free infrastructure to support community when this
economy crashes. (Just because it hasn't so far, doesn't mean it's not going
April 1, 2004 - Hi
April 1, 2004 - It would seem
Republican industrialists consider this to be a Darwinian struggle, and if you
can't rise you oughta sink... I watched Schindler's list last weekend; it gave
me insight into that whole mindset when he hired a Jew much more competent than
him to be plant manager while he snoozed up the SS. He actually paid the
SS for their labor, the Jews were slaves - it was revolting, and a model for
what the Rich would like for their maximum personal enrichment...
April 1, 2004 - Could not agree with
you more. The problem as you know, is that when we feel free we tend to be
creative, and we tend to like to think....this is not at all what the government
wants. They love to have robots who work all day, watch tv all night, and
consume all weekend. I believe that only a change of politics will do that...to
get there, a waking up of the population is needed....you and I preach to the
converted....How to scare others? all those fundamental born-agains who believe
the state of the world is completely in accordance with the design of God? that
God meant for humans to do what they do? How do we change them? they are running
the world as far as I can see.
April 1, 2004 -
CCL #55 February 29, 2004 Dam blasting and building the greenhouse world - The activist within calls us
CCL #54 February 17, 2004A First Lady of sustainability? - Teresa Heinz Kerry
CCL #53 February 1, 2004 This is no way to live
CCL #52 January 25, 2004 Me-firstism: Dominant society treats consumerism's premise as a detail - The war for love
January 26 - Hi Jan.
January 26, 2004 - Jan,
May I suggest that while your rhetoric is high powered it is unlikely to attract any but the converted. Also while it defines the negative aspects of the world problems it does not suggest in practical terms what can be done to correct the situation.
Also while the discussion of "greed" is perfectly correct, (we call it competition), again no alternative is offered. As my old management tutor commented, "competition is using man's greed. It is not good but so far we have not discovered any alternative". During my travels I have lived under several different political systems, from Singapore which is a benevolent dictatorship, but by and large the people are prosperous and happy, to the Soviet Union under Breznev in the old days. That was just awful and the people suffered. Interestingly much of the poor economic conditions were blamed (even by the officials when talked to in confidence) on the lack of competition in the work force. Although I was a guest of the Soviet Union and was treated quite well, I would not wish it on anyone. Much as we complain about our political system, America is still the ultimate goal of many people, just look at the millions of immigrants legal and illegal.
Attacking the corporate world as a whole is not realistic. Many corporations provide very well for their people as well as their clients. Some are extremely positive in their attention to environmental problems.
What should take the place of the "corporate world"? You are looking for money to support your cause, is that any different from a company trying to make a profit from it's efforts?
We need to educate people both from the right and the left and the middle and that only comes from providing very simple plain facts. The angry rhetoric will not attract the unconverted.
Sorry if this appears to be too critical but I believe it is vitally necessary for people to have the facts clearly and simply presented. It is vitally important that people recognize the jeopardy from an ever growing population and the steady overconsumption of the world's resources.
CCL #51 January 16, 2004Are proponents of a peaceful Earth rejecting materialism? Freedom up against materialism, climate change, overpopulation
January 20 - Hey Jan,
CC letter #51 is one of your best yet. Very inspiring. I have been in need of some guidance as of late, thanks for helping me to see the light.
January 18, 2004 - Please remove me
from the list. I simply receive to much email from pratical and
active working groups to have to read through truisms well known. More
substance, less sweeping generalized
observations of society, more on actual action,
less of rallying the left choir to further dispise the middle, if culture
change is what you seek I would suggest that your message form appeal
to beyond those whose minds are already with yours. You are brillant,
just work more on reaching those minds
that have not been changed, which in my
book means more pratical examples and language for the everyday swing
voter (who will never be a part of a
drum circle, and who will never be convinced
to create the actual change that is needed - change that requires rallying
more than the left- by appeals to "nature" and "capitalist
January 17 - Freedom begins with government belonging to the people which are governed. We have been given the opportunity in Humboldt County to decide who government belongs to. Help us help this community win this fight.
Paul Gallegos is the district attorney of Humboldt in northern California who has sued the Pacific Lumber Company for fraud regarding submitting data to the government so that more ancient redwoods could be taken on steep slopes. The company, owned by the Maxxam Corporation (known for anti-labor and junk-bond tactics), has paid for a recall of Gallegos on the ballot on March 2. See the website Alliance for Ethical Business and the Friends of Paul Gallegos website.
CCL #50 January 10, 2004 A nonviolent scenario: Ready for deep revolution?
CCL #49 January 3, 2004 The masses: a cornered animal
January 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.
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 bulls-eye 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 focused 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
#48 December 27, 2003 Curse of the well informed Paying off in 2004?
January 21 - Dear Jan,
Beautiful well-written article - I've steered my readers (all 20 of em!) to it www.rudemacedon.ca (Jan 19 in archives if you get to this email after a few days).
To: Aaron Peskin, president of the Board of Supervisors, San Francisco, Calif.
Although I don't live in San Francisco, I feel obliged to put in my two cents. I firmly believe that having a bag fee at San Francisco grocery stores would really help clean up the environment, and I hope the idea spreads.
It's not all that hard to carry cloth bags when you go shopping, and I think that balanced against the health problems and waste problems, it won't take long for San Franciscans to adjust.
When I visited Morocco several years ago, I came across a tableau you wouldn't believe: I call it the "Plain of 10,000 plastic bags." Obviously Moroccans care even less about litter problems than we do. Over miles and miles of flat plain, there were little prickly scrub bushes growing, about every few feet -- about 1 or 2 feet high, and each one of them had snagged a plastic bag blowing in the wind. The way they sparkled in the evening sun was phenomenal.
Let's not have anything like that in the USA. Please help be the forefront of this cause.
Editor: This is addressed to Jan Lundberg in reference to a piece posted today on Truthout.
Let me state up front that I don't take issue with the proposal in San
Francisco to charge customers 17 cents for grocery bags. But in supporting a
measure it's important to be careful and accurate about evidence one
marshals in support.
There are several dubious assertions in the paragraph below.
Most North Americans urinate plastics. Sperm counts are at an historic per
> capita low. Cancer is an epidemic. Birth deformities, sex organ abnormalities
> and eventual cancers are becoming more common - all traceable to certain
> chemical exposures to the fetus. If the human race is not driven extinct by
> nuclear holocaust or complete distortion of the climate, it may happen through
> wonderful plastic and other petrochemicals. The latter is an "unscientific"
> assertion, but later in this report we provide some evidence to give everyone
> pause. The latter is an "unscientific"
> assertion, but later in this report we provide some evidence to give everyone
Sperm counts. There was a report about 10 years ago in a reputable medical
journal about a decline in sperm counts over time. To the best of my
knowledge, there was not enough evidence to support the claim. There was not
enough data from enough men etc in the past to know whether there has been
any change in sperm counts. If there is a good, well documented, and
scientifically accepted study I would be glad to read it.
"Cancer is an epidemic." This is balderdash, I'm afraid. There is change in
the incidence of various kinds of cancers over time and variation in
geographic distribution. However, the overall age-specific incidence has not
changed much in 50 or more years. Elsewhere Lundberg asserts that 80% of all cancers are environmentally related. This is also not true. Lung cancer is related to cigarette smoking. There are a few cancers related to occupational exposures. After that, we still don't know much.
"Birth defects etc are becoming more common." We really don't have enough
reliable data over long enough periods to know.
To be sure the persistence of plastics, their wide distribution around the
world, the increasing amounts of measurable chemicals in our drinking water
are all serious problems. But we don't do our actions against pollution any
favor by trumpeting alarming but unsubstantiated effects on health.
Colleen Clark, MPH, perinatal epidemiologistCambridge, MA
Jan Lundberg responds:
Attention: Aaron Peskin, President, Board of Supervisors
City Hall, San Francisco CA
Re: City of San Francisco, Plastic Grocery Bag Fee Initiative
Dear Mr. Peskin, I live in Victoria British Columbia and I wish that I could vote here to support the implementation of a fee for use of plastic grocery bags. It is my hope that San Francisco will lead the West Coast of North America on this necessary environmental initiative quickly followed by the City of Victoria which depends so much on environmental tourism from San Francisco.
Subject: Support for the plastic bag deposit
Dear Supervisors ~
I am a low income wage earner.
I am a grandmother and I walk to the market for my purchases. I have
several canvass bags that I launder and reuse. Many purchases do not even
need a bag...there is so much wrapping!
I wholeheartedly support the proposed bag fee. Plastic litters our city.
It's ridiculous. The cost of cleanup, the cost of landfills, the cost to
life in the ocean is not worth any laziness on our parts as citizens.
You will hear lots of arguments from people telling you this will be unfair
on poor people. Baloney I say. 30 plastic bags at 17 cents saved will buy
a canvass bag. At the rate people use "free" plastic bags, they can replace
them and use recyclable cloth bags within one month of the signing of this
bill. Let people give them as presents to family members; give a gift that
Please sign the good plastic bag deposit bill!
Thank you,Mrs. Jean Brocklebank
and thank you for it.
At 62, with 40 years spent in horticulture and other crimes aiding and abetting the Earth, I've pretty much given up thinking that meaningful change will happen in my life. Maybe in our grandkids--if they are alive long enough....
Anyhow, here in BC, Thrifty's Markets deducts .03 cents for each plastic bag the customer brings back to bag their groceries. It's an idea that is useful, as people want the discount. We also have a Belgian-based company here, Syntal, that makes recycled plastic lumber, and it leaves wire cages outside its depot so people can bring plastic waste 24/7. Mind you, as a carpenter who was once made to use the product, I think it's weird and won't use it to build anything.
All best to you, and keep up the great work! Joseph, 62, at Sidney, BC
ps: google "joseph e fasciani articles" to get an idea what I've done since starting on the Internet in March 2003.
Testimony before: San Francisco, Calif. Board of Supervisors
Good afternoon. I am Jan Lundberg, and I publish culturechange.org which has declared war on the plague of plastic pollution.
I am a former oil industry analyst, having run Lundberg Survey Incorporated.
I am here to support the grocery bag fee and to urge you to vote for the
resolution today approving a nexus study, by the Department of the
Environment, on the cost of plastic bags to the city to determine the bag
This should be passed today without delay or complication or more study.
The plan is solid as is, although an even 20 cents or a quarter would be
The oceans' animals are suffocating and starving due to plastics debris
they eat, and there is six times as much plastic particles in the middle
of the Pacific than zooplankton in a given amount of sea water. This goes
up the food chain such that we humans are affected. The dangers and
toxicity of plastics have not been disclosed or appreciated. For more on
plastics, you can get information at culturechange.org.
Lastly, plastics are made almost entirely from petroleum, a dwindling
resource I prefer to call a pollutant. Petroleum, as you know, has
generated war and contributes to the greenhouse effect.
Thank you for your time.
_ _ _
(My letter to Michela Alioto-Pier, Supervisor dated Feb, 8, 2005))
Re Plastics and health
We met at a Judi Bari memorial in Willits. At the time I was running the
Alliance for a Paving Moratorium, publishing the Auto-Free Times, and
assisting the forest defense movement. One way I did that was by raising
a daughter, Spring Lundberg, who is the lead plaintiff in the
pepper-spray-by-Q-tip torture case in federal court. (Retrial is this
April 11th here in San Francisco.)
I spoke today in favor of the bag fee on shopping bags. I'm sure your
feeling for the ancient trees would indicate yu agree we must take action
for the marine environment, our own health, and to start rejecting the
extreme dependence on petroleum that characterizes our economy and
Perhaps we can talk again soon. I've moved from Humboldt to the East Bay,
and I thank you for persevering.
Jan Lundberg responds:
April 25, 2005
February 7, 2005
Daphne S. Reed, Founder
Thank you Daphne,
There is a beautiful song by Roy Orbison that must have been suppressed. Sounds like the 1960s, and it's called There Won't Be Many Coming Home. See if you can find it and you'll see it's the best theme song for Mothers Against War -- my own mother loves it for sure.
From the New York Times December 5,
To the Editor:
The problem with Paul Krugman's worldview (''The Good News,'' column, Nov. 28) is that global consumption is unsustainable, especially as the population increases.
Petroleum dependence has as much capacity suddenly to limit expansion as it has had in allowing expansion. Mr. Krugman writes, ''We are not, it turns out, condemned to live forever on a planet where only a small minority of the global population has a decent standard of living.'' His claim assumes unlimited oil and natural gas consumption -- about to halt globally as peak production passes. Even if it could be perpetuated, Earth is already being fried.
He says ''the critics of globalization do
have some valid points.'' But he scarcely lists any. Aside from oil, he
might have mentioned that corporate globalization is through the barrel of
the gun, as has been demonstrated from Chiapas to Miami when people are
trying to protect what is ''decent.''
Published: 12 - 05 - 2003 , Late Edition - Final , Section A , Column 6 , Page 38
Dec. 15, 2004
Letter from reader, Sept. 10, 2004:
How does Ms. Heinz Kerry being driven everywhere in a V-8
or V-12 limo, escorted by several Secret Service agents carrying full
automatic weapons (the kind you and I cannot buy, because we are the
"great unwashed") promote a sustainable ecologically sound
economy? Why doesn't Ms. Kerry publish her personal tax returns and
financial statements? Finally, why do the Kerry's and the other
shareholders in the Heinz Corporation profit so much by paying American
Samoan cannery workers so little?
Letter from reader, August 15, 2004:
If you really want conservation the banks have to invest
in alternative power that is certified to work and is given to all home
owners to install. Why is it that the state of California refuses to
buy back excess power that is generated at your place? Local at home
generation of green power can reduce demand on the main grid by more then
25%. Its about empowering the PEOPLE to start the green curve.
Letter from supporter, July 26, 2004:
Dear Jan: As always, I look forward to your next report, a two-parter
no less. Your observations and ideas are more encouraging than you might
July 26, 2004 - Hello sir,
JL responds - I appreciate your
heartfelt feelings for our common home -- Earth -- and I believe your
accurate assessment is all too rare in these times of worship of
technology and indiscriminate consumption of precious resources. In my
long fight for the health of the planet and a better way for everyone to
live in peace and harmony, I have often felt like a primitive, from a more
natural era, in a time warp.
justice: "Yeah, but..."
Dear Ms. M,
July 25, 2004 - Here is an idea that will get us out
of cars, off the oil and reverse our global warming and environmental
Subscribe to the free Culture Change e-Letter, delivered directly to your e-mail box.
Back to Home Page
Jan Lundberg's columns are protected by copyright; however, non-commercial use of the material is permitted as long as full attribution is given with a link to this website, and he is informed of the re-publishing: email@example.com