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What do you think of what's said in the Culture Change Letter? Join the discussion!  Email us at info@culturechange.orgGive 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

Letters on plastics - section below

General and Humboldt County, California -oriented letters are at the bottom of this page.  Read Transportation justice - "Yeah, but..."

CCL #96 Goodbye American Dreamland: Congress hears quote by Jan Lundberg on peak oil

Go get 'em. You're doing a great job.
 Jim Kunstler
Author of
The Long Emergency: Surviving the End of the Oil Age, Climate Change, and Other Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-first Century (

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. 
Steve Mosko
Campaign Against the Plastic Plague

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. 
These guys all know about it. Whether they really understand what it means? That's another question, and a good one, because if Jay Hanson is right, they can't really get their heads around it. No-one can, because we are not wired for it. We can't accept it. Humans cannot accept that a crucial resource is irreplaceable. It's like telling a christian there is no god. They can't accept it. They won't. They'll kill first. 
It takes years and years of work to even begin to understand what peak-oil means. You know that. Most people are too damned lazy to even begin the work. They'd rather blame someone. 
That's the danger. Not that the word won't get out, but that people will start the killing once the word is clear. 
Charles Andrews
"What concerns me is not the way things are, but rather the way people think things are." - Epictitus

Dear Culture Change:
No oil needed. A 3600 sq. ft. building at Parkman, Maine survived on $66 for energy this past winter because of: Good insulation Radiant floor Solar window, no ceiling lights anywhere, not needed. Sun raised interior temp by 25F when shining. Special boiler/furnace cost only 37 cents per day, with coldest temps down to 32 degrees below zero F. Previously I had driven a UK Reliant Robin (1976) from Maine to Oregon on 64 gallons of gas, whole continent! We need to be motivated. Our survival is possible, but we will probably wait too long to act. It would take 17 years to replace existing automotive technology. Insurance industry is blocking innovation in vehicles. The Mercedes Smart Car is in Canada already but not in the USA. Small trucks, like the ACE from India's Tata Motors should be allowed in for study. But it isn't. 
Charles E. Mac Arthur, 
curator Wilkinson Institute Research Museum 
Parkman, Maine

Jan Lundberg responds:  Your research museum sounds like a fun visit. Maybe I'll get out there.
As to "no oil needed," it's a petroleum infrastructure we're talking about, and many of the renewable energy components are made with and of petroleum -- so, how can hundreds of million of people switch to renewables when we just sit on our hands and wait for technological miracles? It won't happen. When it's not possible to do anything else, slashing energy will come into vogue. And my position will be popular: we don't even need the energy because the technogizmos are superfluous and harm the Earth.
Thanks for writing,

[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? 
Cheer up. The earth as St. Matthew Island certainly has its up side..

Mr. Lundberg, 
I much admire your work and your "Culture Change" letters. I saw Roscoe Bartlett on C-SPAN, and had to look twice to confirm that this was really a Republican. He gave a good account of the problem we face, but was short on solutions. The speech, with graphs, is available at his website: . My modest efforts regarding this issue can be found in my "The Oil Trap" (August 2002) and "Last Chance for Civilization" (currently at The Crisis Papers and several progressive websites)
What is your take on Amory Lovins' report, "Winning the Oil Endgame"? It seems too good to be true. However, as I said in "Last Chance," even if Lovins' science is right (the good news), it seems highly unlikely that our politics will allow a solution (the bad news). If the solar-hydrogen-biofuels solution is worked out, it will almost certainly take place abroad, whereupon the USA will descend to it's well-deserved third-world status. It's been my good fortune to live during the golden age. Apre nous, le deluge. 
Ernest Partridge
Co-Editor, The Crisis Papers

Jan Lundberg responds: Thanks for writing and sending the link.
Sounds like you're covering the bases with your writing.
As to Lovins, I'm less than impressed -- increasingly so as years go by.  I commented on his recent study at

CCL #95 More traffic congestion is funded / Alien American dream changes the Earth

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. 
Jean Bellinger Lake Forest, CA

CCL #94 A culture of torture: out of control? -  Pepperspray via Q-tip, war, ecocide, etc.

CCL #93 Depaver Jan's Petroleum Tour: Earth Day reality check

CCL #92 Fasting for healing and inner peace

CCL #91 Activists and hipsters without territory or a plan  part 1: the problem / part 2: the solution

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, 
Dan Miner
Queens, NYC

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!
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?
- Mark Robinowitz

Culture Change,

I think that's a good column you sent, with many
fine ideas.
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.

Hi Jan,
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

Mr. L.,

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,
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:

Culture Change, 
I think we should start an immediate, worldwide boycott against any company involved in extracting oil from Alaska. How can we get the list of companies?
- Mike Vandeman

Hello Jan,
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
Dear Jan, 
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,
Culture Change, 
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.
"The hoopla about 'Earth Day', like the pious rhetoric of fast-talking solar contractors and patent-hungry 'ecological' inventors, conceal the all-important fact that solar energy, wind power, organic agriculture, holistic health, and 'voluntary simplicity' will alter very little in our grotesque imbalance with nature if they leave the patriarchal family, the multinational corporation, the bureaucratic and centralized political structure, and the property system untouched."
                                          Murray Bookchin

- Sandi Brockway

CCL #90 From the northern redwoods to Berkeley Babylon


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~
Amy Struloeff

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.
Jean Bellinger 

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.

Dear Editor:
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.

Dear Culture Change:

perhaps the current wealth redistribution from the poor to the rich may have an unintended effect... cooperatives... people working together, sharing and saving...

Dear Jan: 
I, of course, totally agree with the no such thing as a clean car (I'm bored, actually irritated with watching supposedly enviro groups telling everyone to buybuy and writing on it (see and don't have a car.  Already established, and quite workable, are the zipcars, less a cooperative than the placement of shared/rented (for an hour or whatever) and running from here in Boston to Oregon (of course).

Hereabouts, moving in my carfree life is by foot, rail i.e. Acela (the high speed AMTRAK east coast train) for long trips, and streetcars for hereabouts and, now and again, a cab or borrowed car to visit my mother. But I must say the New Dream and McKibben sorts drive me nuts pimping for "clean" cars...carry on...
jane holtz kay

CCL #88

Here comes the nutcracker - Peak oil in a nutshell
Mr. Lundberg,
     Thank you for your scary but informative article at (which I first saw reprinted at
     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.
Ralph Dratman

CCL #87 A survey on trends and outcomes from a long, personal perspective

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
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),
Ted Trainer
School of Social Work,
University of New South Wales,
Kensington. 2052. Australia.
02.93851871  Fax: 02 96628991

CCL #86 A spear through the global warming beast’s heart? - In defense of islands, the Arctic, ourselves

Dear Jan,
right on...the "clean" car thing fries me...
jane holtz-kay

I cheerfully invite you to attempt car-free living and see how your life goes.  To be true to that concept, you may not hitchhike, carpool, borrow, rent, or use a common light personal road vehicle (e.g. car, SUV, RV, pickup or minivan), or incur the use of such by others, in any way. 

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. 

At 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.
- Jay Baldwin


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 Mazza
Climate Solutions

JL responds:
Dear Patrick, of course I would have liked the $200 billion that was wasted on genocide and ecocide in Iraq to be used for anything sensible.  That waste, however, does not mean there is an equation that works for substituting petroleum with any mix of renewables.  Where is the model that says it is possible, with today's population size, with the infrastructure already all petroleum oriented, and depleted resources?  That's still assuming the Earth can wait for a transition when it needs immediate relief. 

Still, you are advocating good things.  So is Rhys Roth.  He admitted to me after we got back from Kyoto in '97 that the economic growth vision for the Pacific Northwest that he was advocating via renewable energy really won't do the job considering the population, resources and pollution all considered, but he said that his advocacy was at least in the right direction and didn't do any harm.  That was my first email debate with anyone.

I would like to see you advocate no cars as the way to go.  Even cleaner cars will still take their driver only 5 mph, as Illich found, and they will still kill and require pavement, plastic, tires, etc.  And more than half of the pollution to the air is NOT out of the tailpipe, according to the Environmental Forecasting Institute in Heidelberg.

I also believe that we must distinguish between the increases in efficiency and actually letting the air out of the tires - or whatever - so as to stop the pollution machinery.  Efficiency is not synonymous with conservation.  Please don't pretend that the mainstream technofixers really want radical or serious conservation; if they did want it why don't they say it?  Answer: funding and corporate acceptance are important.

Note: In the Culture Change Letter #86 there was a refinement of the technofix section.  Thanks to Charles Komonoff who challenged my premise that Bill McKibben had not advocated conservation in his pro-technofix opinion piece in the New York Times, I have made a correction and clarification:

"However, he said absolutely nothing in his piece about avoiding the need for using energy – an approach we can call radical conservation:  "Right now, the choice is between burning fossil fuels and making the transition, as quickly as possible, to renewable power," he claims. 
One of Mr. McKibben's statements can be interpreted as advocating conservation: "Just to slow the pace of this rapid warming will require every possible response, from more efficient cars to fewer sprawling suburbs to more trains to – well, the list is pretty well endless."  But his short list does not spell serious conservation, when stopping our purchase and use of machines is much more crucial than building and buying more efficient ones.  Car-free living and halting any new roads construction are overdue "innovations."  His examples are not energy-slashing measures that will cut the global warming beast off at the knees.  Does Mr. McKibben mean that fewer sprawling suburbs should be built, or that some should be depaved and turn into ecovillages?

Dear Jan: (Patrick Mazza responds to above)
In the past couple of years I've been treated to presentations on world energy growth from WRI and coal plant growth from NRDC that have caused me to metaphorically throw up my hands.  I acknowledge what a sisyphean task it seems to be to stabilize the climate under conditions of economic growth as usual.   I have far from a full answer.  It is clear that as North Americans we are in a poor position to tell the Chinese, Indians and Brazilians to radically conserve. They've been doing it and now want the goodies we've flaunted.  And even if we became a voluntarily simple pure Ecotopia we'd still be swamped by world economic growth.  So all I can see to do, other than eating, drinking and making merry because tomorrow we fry, is to move as quickly as possible to create and deploy the leapfrog technologies that allow the developing nations to improve their material standards without making our mistakes, and that help us to clean up our mistakes and set a better example. Both clean energy production and radical efficiency technologies.  Yes, some people like you need to be in there raising the hard questions about economic growth, and absolutely right that's not the most fundable message.  I do think we're going to hit tough spots in coming years that will make openings for some pretty fundamental re-assessments of our civilization.  I only hope it won't be too late.
Meanwhile, Limits to Growth 2004 is on my reading shelf for a little later this year, along with a couple of Herman Daly's newer works. 
Patrick Mazza

JL responds - 
I appreciate your points, and I believe we want the same thing.  I don't think there need to be millions of entropy boxes such as refrigerators, so maybe we differ there.
I don't object to "leapfrog technologies" or any decent reforms and regulations as long as they make a solid dent in the global warming beast, and as long as the adherents of the technofix push for fundamental change.  The problem with the funded environmental groups is that they don't advocate fundamental change or, therefore, serious conservation that would end the cycle of massive pollution. The real question might be How to stop the global economy, when you observe that making an Ecotopia in the U.S. might not make other nations alter ecocidal policies.  Real defense means protecting the global ecosystem, but in the U.S., "defense" is about offense against the ecosystem and anyone actively opposing the corporate juggernaut.

Dear Jan,
McKibben both practices and passionately advocates for energy conservation.

Are you miffed that McKibben didn't say "conservation"? If so,
maybe you could cut him some slack? Maybe you could allow that
perhaps in this piece he was trying a different line of rhetoric
-- using code words for conservation as a way to get past
readers' (or editors') indifference/hostility to the word.
Maybe you could acknowledge that in 650 words you can't say
everything, partic'ly when you're trying to get past the
gatekeepers of the NYT.
McKibben isn't NRDC. He's one person trying -- and he's been
trying for a long time -- to make a difference. Why sharpen
the blades for him?
With all due respect, your criticisms seem petty and, to me
anyway, just diminish your excellent points. To what end, Jan?
  -- Charlie Komanoff
of KEA, consultants on transportation and energy.  See Komanoff's co-authored road pricing study from a Climate Solutions webpage.

CCL #85 The awakening of the downtrodden  — Are you the downtrodden?

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, 

Dear Jan,
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.

Kay Sather
Dear Jan:
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 offense intended:)

Again, my deepest appreciation.
Amy Struloeff

CCL #84 The David Brower Memorial Parking Garage is on a head of steam (a greenhouse gas)

Dear Jan,
this is @#$%^&*() unbelievable. I will have to put it in my global warming book, or something. It sounds like your basic "Let all ye who enter here be damned."
carry on, etc....jane holtz kay
(the writer is architecture review editor for The Nation magazine)

Dear Jan,
The irony is ovewhelming...
Mark Robinowitz

(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) 

CCL #83 Bangladesh Strife: Crimes against children, women, and minorities

CCL #82 War on plastic  -  Rejecting the toxic plague

CCL #81 Materialist culture and the ego: expendable artifacts?  

Dear Jan,
      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.
Doret Kollerer
Justice Xpress magazine
Dear Jan,
      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.
Michael Schacht

ear Culture Change,
      Fromm wrote a book TO HAVE, OR TO BE -- back in the '60s and several others on similar topic such as ESCAPE FROM FREEDOM.

      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.
Sandi Brockway
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

Hi Jan
       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
      Best wishes
      Richard Lawson

Hey Jan,
      Beautifully and powerfully written -- thanks!!
Peace, Love, and Light,
Skip Londos

CCL #80 Collapse of the petroleum delusion / Rise of the DIY movement 

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. 
Denis Frith 

CCL #79 After the latest mistake, it's up to us 

Assessing our movement's strength after the reelection of Bush and seeing so much energy put into electing a Democrat

Nov. 8, 2004
Please remove this address from your e-mail list. I've endured enough of your venom over the last year that I'm sure I must be immune to any snake bite out there.
Tony Flynn
managing editor, Skagit Weekly Group

JL responds: I finally thought of something to say in response:
What snakes out there should you worry about? Apparently you're not bothered by the corporations and war monger politicians. I must have insulted you too much over Kerry if you endured a year of Culture Change Letters (subject lines only?), but I'll grant you that Kerry may not have been a real war monger, in his quest to rattle the sabre to pass the red-white-and-blue test.

Nov. 8, 2004
I don't consider this campaign or the election a mistake. I believe that Bush won this election by fraudulent means. Because of that, I find your statement "after the last mistake" to be very insulting and misleading!!!!!
Christine Simpson

Nov. 8, 2004
I don't see my work on the Kerry campaign as a mistake at all. He almost became our President, and that would have been so much better than the
Bush regime. There is no other realistic alternative at the national level.  If we want to get a decent president anytime in the near future we need to keep putting energy into electing a Democrat for president. 
     Organize a radical opposition movement? Yes, of course. We need it, but  to then suggest that the movement will elect someone at the national level is folly. It might result (one would hope) in a more left leaning candidate nominated in the Democratic Party, perhaps a Howard Dean or a Dennis Kucinich. But that is as far as it would go in the short term. 
     As for smashing the "System," what exactly does that mean? Are we talking about non-violent resistance that would somehow sweep away the current system? Or are you referring to a revolutionary movement with guns and killing in the streets? The violent stuff was tried in the 1960's and failed miserably, leading, in part, to the sweep of conservative thought that we currently suffer under. Radical reform, yes, but taking out the system? Maybe, but what would you replace it with? European style democracy with numerous parties that can form coalitions? I could support that. 
-Ron Sundergill

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? 
     In case you missed something, do you want to re-read my original piece? I shall clarify further: I am not against someone voting for a lesser evil, nor campaigning to get such a candidate nominated, but the real work would have to begin after such a politician got into power. Power concedes nothing without a demand, and the so people must take power to keep rulers in check or replace them along with their system. Trouble is, people sit on their asses watching the propaganda box, except to vote once in a blue moon. 
     Reform is fine if it moves toward a worthy goal. The leaders of the mainstream environmental movement have not really done so, when none of the groups over a ten year period would support a paving moratorium or advocate serious conservation such as car-free living. As the limited-reform approach is insufficient, and could not even get a Kerry elected despite the amazingly bad record of Bush, it is time for activists of the limited-Democrat approach to stop hogging the activism stage and begin advocating a change in the system -- from the streets and overflowing the jails. Look at history for the successes; the power-elite never relinquishes power or changes the status quo voluntarily. There needs to be a Martin Luther King, Jr. eco-leader, don't you agree? MLK Jr.'s later writings had it down, man! Thanks for writing.

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.
Pat Murphy

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 ( and let me  know what you are looing for specifically and I'll see what I can connect you with.

David Eisenberg
Development Center for Appropriate Technology

CCL #76 Resisting the war machine and U.S. ecocide

CCL #75

An activist's memo on the pepper spray-by-Q-tip trial

CCL # Doom and gloom?  Your perception calls the tune —  Interconnectedness of all in the universe

Dear Jan Lundberg, 
      I've read your 'Doom and Gloom' with both interest and hope but find/expect that I remain among of the many caught between the possible and the theoretical. Jonas Salk and Garrett Hardin (among others) define the parameters for our future but their visions are seemingly embracing and exclusionary at the same moment. I have to ask how you justify your wonderful vision, "One's perception could thereby be joyous upon exiting today's conflict-ridden phase of history and transitioning to a sustainable culture.", with Hardin's thesis of a ceiling for cultural/social evolution? It is the could that I question. How can we break through that barrier of self interest which is the life and death fabric of us all and experience such joy? I send this as an encouragement to your continued efforts and with my best wishes, 
Jerry Quigley 
Orleans, MA

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.

I've been subscribing to your newsletter for a while now, and thought I should let you know what a breath of fresh air it really is. Here in the UK, the general consensus is that all Americans are stupid, fat and evil. I like to counter the argument by pointing to things like the free software movement and your website as evidence that there are still a lot of Americans with challenging, useful and interesting ideas.
Keep up the good work!
Rob Blake
Hebden Bridge, UK

CCL # Global corporate slave society ahead? The rise of corporate rule and its opposition

CCL #72 The end of false progress - Origins of materialism, and implications for our future


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.
Pat Murphy

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).

Dear Jan,
      I have been privileged to read many of your passionate essays about a sustainable society over the last several years, and I do appreciate being enlightened by someone with your depth of knowledge as well as your deep desire to save the earth from its current rush to destruction.  I admire your courage, and thank you for caring enough to speak out. I look forward to hearing more from you in the future. We can only hope and pray that the next administration is led by people who care more for the common good than for their own special interests and greed.
 Joe Mondello

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.
Let's hope for the best in these unprecedented and precarious times.

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. 
Best wishes, 

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, 
Your service toward the cause means more than you realize and I believe you understand yourself well when you proclaim to be ahead of your time. It is sad to live in a world with such shortsighted, knuckle headed compatriots who have collectively put the worst possible person at the head of the class. While I'm not optimistic about improvement in the average person, I am optimistic that we (collective society) won't make the worst mistake of our elective lives again. Just be too ironic for reality and makes us humans deserve our global warming destiny... but you and I deserve better so it just can't happen. Sorry. 
Jay Lustgarten

CCL #70 Plastics: Your Formidable Enemy Questioning exposure, recycling, biodegradability, alternatives 

"Plastics" is 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 question.  
     It is hoped that those who condemn the effects of petro-plastics are not reluctant to promote hemp and oppose the Prohibition out of fear of being labeled "hemp-heads", "hippies" or "druggies" or something.  It's a bit worse to have this current global pollution than to endure name-calling. 
     Relatedly: Cities and states are all going broke due to all kinds of funding cuts and tax breaks for the rich, etc.  One big expense is dealing with the MOUNTAINS of toxic plastic waste...and dealing with the public health expenses of those sickened by the toxins.  If the plastic came from hemp, it would NOT be toxic.  At the end of a product's life it could be composted, even sold and exported as compost.  Cities and states can't afford NOT to demand re-legalization of hemp agriculture in the U.S. and an accelerated campaign to get the hemp products industries rolling.  We're not just talking benign plastic alternatives here...this is also about paper, building paneling, packaging, lubricants, livestock feed, soaps, paints, human food, and so on...all without a drop of pesticides or chlorine needed.
J. Jonik 
(the writer is a fine political cartoonist)

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? 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.

Dear Jan,
You works sometimes go over the line.  The more heavily-negative you go, will discontinue my patronage. Your negativism harms you.  You need an editor to smooth out and improve the writing.  Anger isn't working this year.  The damn conservatives have got their 'trained voters' to Pavlov-style turn the brain off on the word 'anger' and 'angry'.  Change the title.  Too scary. 

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.


From Jan Lundberg, Culture Change:
Dear Readers,      
     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: <>      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),   
Jan Lundberg 

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! 
Best Wishes, Jane Sharp MacRae

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.

CCL #6 Factors of instability for a disturbed population — How badly are Americans ecopsychologically disturbed? 

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.
Lance Olsen
Çold Mountain, Cold Rivers
PO Box 7941, Missoula, Montana 59807

CCL #68

Can 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, ' Š 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?' Š. 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.
Lance Olsen

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 
Rick DeS.

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

CCL #6 What's missing from Fahrenheit 9/11 — the first movie to demolish a president

Dear 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.
Wanda Ballentine

Dear Jan,
     I liked the movie I talked to a right wing friend today and he said there were no facts in the movie????? !!!! He just did not get it!! Right over his head!!! oh well some people you just can not change!!!!! 
Jeff and Janet
Hollywood, California

Thanks ---I agree wholeheartedly.
Carol P.
arcata, california

CCL #66 "Separation from nature" impossible despite rising social alienation

July 4, 2004 
     Have you ever considered how the Quakers and Amish, etc. came to the US, kept to a survival community culture and when not put upon by our modern society, still enjoy a healthy community?  Wouldn't their success be a social movement to recruit to?

JL responds: Indeed, Mel, the Amish have their act together more so than almost any subgroup in the U.S.  I don't know much about the Quakers -- is that current, or in former times? 
     There would not be enough Amish land for ordinary Americans to move to and be assimilated, so obviously we must emulate the Amish on today's suburban and agribusiness lands.  Land reform is essential, and will be so realized when people get caught without the means of using petroleum and cash to get what they think they need.

July 1, 2004
      Whilst I am in total agreement with your comments on the impossibility of separating human activities from nature, I believe more accent should be placed on some particular aspects. The material foundations of society have been built up to a large extent by using up irreplaceable natural capital (fossil fuels, aquifer water, metallic ores, minerals and other raw materials) and causing irrevocable damage to the environment by discharging solid and gaseous wastes. 
      You said  "So, the typical citizen's relationship with the natural world continues to deteriorate, just as topsoil erodes, clean water disappears, and the Earth loses her forests."  I believe your view would be more realistic if that comment also included the dual factors I mentioned above. 
Denis Frith 

CCL #6 Rebelling against extinction — As surely as the red sun rises

June 8, 2004
Hi Jan, 
     Thanks.  A revolution is possible when we stop feeling more important than anything around us.  How can we be more important that water, when we are 75% water?  How can we be more important than the air we breathe?  Revolutions have never happened.  Only ego and greed transfers. Have a great day. 
Tony Pereira, ME, EIT

June 7, 2004
Jan, I really liked this description of the situation - BUT, as usual in such essays, there's not much offered on HOW, and I'd like to see a dialog on this.  You say "our response can be as a cell of one, an affinity group, a neighborhood, or a mass movement."  Well, I've been doing what I can as an individual for over 30 years, which feels something like sticking one's finger in the hole in the dike, while water pours through from a million other cracks.  I kept changing my lifestyle, becoming more and more minimalist, consuming less and less, trying always to think about the big picture consequences, talking, writing - to Congress, newspapers, corporations, etc., etc. in the belief that each action sends out ripples.  
     I think group efforts are what is really needed - communes or cooperatives or neighborhood groups.  In the 70's I belonged to a group trying to set up a housing cooperative built on environmental and non-consumption principles but it was defeated by the system - for instance, the county authorities were horrified at our idea of using composting toilets, setting up gray water recycling systems, etc. and said we could put those in but had to install the conventional system too, which got cost prohibitive. 
     I would be hard put to figure out how to get the neighbors I've met involved in some kind of sustainability project. 
     The majority of species on the planet have gone extinct; human have evolved as they have, and despite thinking they're so damn intelligent, are going down the same path.  As Richard Heinberg noted in The Party's Over:  "When other creatures gain an energy subsidy, they instinctively react by proliferating: their population goes through the well-studied stages of bloom, overshoot, and die-off. If we humans are more than mere animals, we should be expected to behave differently. Yet so far we have reacted to the energy subsidy of fossil fuels exactly the way rats, fruit flies, or bacteria respond to an abundant new food source."
Raging Grannie

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
      I want to thank you for today's email.  It is exactly what I have been thinking as well.  I'm not quite sure what the next steps are for me, but, right now at least, the middle no longer holds in my life.  I sent a small paypal donation your way this morning as well. Thanks for your commentaries. 
"Practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty."

CCL #64

Al Gore fires up hearts but oozes myth

CCL #63 A David Brower Memorial Parking Garage in Berkeley?

Dear Culture Change:
    David Brower hired me and was my boss for over ten years. He would be horrified to see a parking garage in a structure named after him.  Whose brilliant idea was this?  In Berkeley no less? 
Lorna Salzman

Dear Jan,  
As a long-time admirer of Dave Brower, I want to thank you for the clear-headed and courageous piece you wrote on the Brower Center.  Hang in there!
Best,  Dan 
(Dan Hamburg, Green Party activist, former U.S. Congressman from northern California)

Dear Culture Change:
    New oil discovery (peaked in 1969) and its sequel, peak oil production, coming due. 
    All things considered, too bad they couldn't have consulted David.  I wonder what Gary Snyder thinks or what Edward Abbey and Wallace Stegner would have said.
Greg Foote
(In a Hoosiers-topics/Sierra Club email listserve)

Hi Jan, 
     Thanks.  Brower ending up on a garage side sign?  Would be better a solar, renewable, organic, non-toxic, sustainable something project.  Where do they get their burgers?
Tony Pereira, ME, EIT

CCL #6 The reality beyond the trappings of technological society — Freeing the world beneath the pavement

CCL #61 Movements with too careful leadership = stagnation — Daily cultural revolution or annual marches?

CCL # "Paper or plastic?"
May 16, 2004 - 
     Thanks for your critique of plastic shopping bags as it has come to my attention that a lot of our US plastics recycling goes to China and the people working in the business there are suffering immense health damage from it and they have not adopted environmental regulations to deal with it...and its a big mess.
   We all know we have uses for plastic bags that we don't have adequate substitutes ideas picking up and carrying and disposing of dog poop when a toilet or in ground doggie composter or abundant rural terrain is not available...and that just is a sample that scratches the surface of many very practical jobs that plastic bags do and for which we have no replacement. Like your trash can in your home or at your festival.... everything has got to get put in a dumpster and i guess folks wrap our trash for a lot of polite are thinking of the garbage truck operator and soooooooooooo I ask everyone what do you do for your garbage bags and don't tell me something that a lot of people won't do because we need a functional manual a whole earth guidebook so to speak, for how to live with appropriate alternatives to plastic or wood products for our dream recycling services that transform us away from land fills and where everything has it's place and everything is really quite renewable... sustainable... green... and even healthy... In the meantime there is a real need for alternatives helpful hints for really making a difference in soft plastics consumption... and we know the tree wood papers must be replaced by papers that are made from any number of uncontroversial plants that are annuals like rice and sooooooo many others.....Any way I know the problem and I will use my cotton fabric bags as much as this is a plea for options because that is what will change things ... I believe there are great options and no body here locally is mentioning anything but the problem ....can you find a list of alternative materials for plastic wrapping? 
Thanks, Meaghan

CCL #59
The coming global catastrophe — and ways to preempt it

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. 
Best wishes, Tom Hendricks, ed. of Musea

CCL #58
Overshadowing global warming's pressure cooker:  Putting Iraq, oil prices, and 9-11 in perspective
CCL #5
The right to be poor and to thrive — Toward a Constitutional Amendment

April 3, 2004 - Hi,
Thanks for the article and suggestion for a Constitutional Amendment.
However, I would suggest that the constitution that is most important is the one that each individual has within them. It takes a certain bravery to live without the insurance policies that Americans have come to think of as necessary to protect their lives.  This has as much to do with separating the U.S. society from the rest of the world as anything else. 

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 to.) 

Tribes for me are training grounds to get ready to live by subsistence -- the practice isn't hard, it's the attitude that is difficult to come by.  So, now it isn't the late 60s anymore, and to live as I used to on $100 a month takes more like $100 a week and more practice.  But when you are not giving your time for wages it's not a bad life.  But one needs to develop a certain constitution for it.  Until this Nation develops that internal constitution again, the Big One isn't going to be worth much.  Too many people think of it as an insurance policy.  If you have ever been screwed out of a claim, that's about what you can expect from the U.S. Democracy for the near term. 

A new President isn't going to be enough to change this.  For poor people it's going to take the culture of sharing, caring, and being self-sufficient.  That's the constitution to depend upon.  I believe that if you spend time trying to amend the Constitution, it's going to waste some valuable time and just give scare resources over to a gluttonous legal system. Small is beautiful. Build culture and let the politicians crash on their own.
 - DD

April 1, 2004 - Hi Jan, 
Love these emails!  I'm working on an Organic Farm starting in a couple weeks and I'm exercising my right to be poor so that I can do something that I believe in!   

My feeling is that the change our society needs so desperately won't occur until it gets bad enough that all the drones in their comfort zone get poor.  Forget about spreading wealth....we should spread poverty!  Thanks for spreading the good word!

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...
Joe Shermis

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 get there, a waking up of the population is 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. 
Huguette Allen.

April 1, 2004 - 
Your exposure of the establishment and discussion of how life should 
really be makes me want to fucking shout and scream and "drop out"!  I'm 
so outraged and pathetic at the same time!  I wish everyone would wake 
the fuck up and scream that the dream is over and we're not going to 
take it anymore.  That we're going to get our heads out of our asses and 
start caring for ourselves, our family, our friends, and the earth AS IT 

I pray for the day this world falls apart at it's seams and Mother reclaims the earth and starts to build anew.  How dare we!  We are so full of shit and need a spanking to be banished to our rooms indefinitely so our 
elders and true intelligent leaders can mend our broken hearts.  People 
must realize we are those leaders!  WE'RE IT!   Stop being so mean and angry and ignorant!!!  What are we thinking?  Save the earth,  love and respect our animal friends, become 1 with nature, heaven and earth, JUST SAY NO MORE! Let's go run thru the fields of spring flowers, laughing and free, with the wind at our backs!  I've had it, God has given us everything.  He make us perfect.  No mistakes.  Free the world.  

CCL #56 Song-dreams for a peaceful Earth — I can't refuse the muse

CCL #55 February 29, 2004 Dam blasting and building the greenhouse world - The activist within calls us

CCL #54 February 17, 2004

A First Lady of sustainability? - Teresa Heinz Kerry
CCL #5
February 1, 2004 This is no way to live

CCL #5
2 January 25, 2004 Me-firstism: Dominant society treats consumerism's premise as a detail - The war for love

January 26 - Hi Jan. 
    I just took the time to read your last posting about me-firstism and love.  I think it is one of your better essays to date... really liked it.
    Keep writing and speaking for what we all feel/know is going on, but cannot admit or risk finding the words for...
    Judith Alexander

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.
    Best regards,  
    Ralph Woodgate

CCL #51 January 16, 2004

Are 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.
    Depaver Larry

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 coercion").
    Best, Chris (Barendt)

JL responds: The writer is affiliated with the Environmental and Energy Study Institute, Washington, DC.  The EESI is almost an arm of Congress.  Nice to think that the essay just contains truisms.  The writer's rejection of the reality of capitalistic coercion, and the presumption that anything "left" cannot be right, may be out of fear of being labeled by a co-worker (even as he mislabels the essay as "left").

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.

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

January 4, 2004 - Dear Culture Change:
    Nobody with any sense could quarrel with what you have said. My thinking right wing friends (there are a few thinking r wingers, sort of) don't believe this is going to happen fast enough to affect them. I bet they're wrong.

    Along the way, I wonder how China's rise and the dollar's collapse will change the dynamics.
    John Schaefer

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.  
    Paul Richards
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"!
    Bruce Stephenson

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
( I'd like to hear your reactions.
    Katherine Forrest, MD
    Commonweal Institute
    325 Sharon Park Drive, Suite 332    
    Menlo Park, CA  94025

Jan. 4 - 
    Personally, I have long said that we nibbled our way ignorantly into this mess, and we will nibble our way back out.  It's too complex a situation for a quick fix that will be acceptable to the majority.  Most dangerous:  cornered rats begin to kill and eat one another. I had a dream when i was 8 years old that I would die at the barricades in a street fight. I wonder. . . . .I've also seen recent articles in several mags wherein it was claimed that it takes about 2 million people with the same desires to make anything happen.  The desires have to be good for the majority of the rest, or the effort will be suppressed.  I think it can be done.  That's what keeps me going.  As Fuller said so well: "In the end, only integrity is going to count".
    Jay Baldwin

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 (Jan 19 in archives if you get to this email after a few days).
Dave (RM)


Re: "The Plain of 10,000 Plastic Bags"

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.
Nancy England

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
> pause.
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 epidemiologist
Cambridge, MA

Jan Lundberg responds:
Dear Dr. Clark,
Thanks for writing to me.  I have written the things I did which you take issue with because I have seen them repeatedly, as I represent them, in several credible reports and news stories.  My writing style and what is permissible for general interest publications is one that does not have sources for every point.
I was surprised you, in your profession, would have a problem with the statement "Lundberg asserts that 80% of all cancers are environmentally related. This is also not true. Lung cancer is related to cigarette smoking." - in scientific literature, smoking is certainly environmental, as is diet.
Good luck getting plastics out of your body and your patients' bodies.
Jan Lundberg

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.
 Michael Major   
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
is practical!
Please sign the good plastic bag deposit bill!
Thank you,
Mrs. Jean Brocklebank
Hi!  I just read your excellent essay at 
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 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
more workable.
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
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
Hi M.A.-P.,
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

Hi Jan--
My son sent me your email re: San Francisco's grocery bag bill.  I care deeply about our environment and have always recycled, etc., but it is easy to get used to convenience.  After reading your article, I went to make lunch and realized just how much plastic I was using to put together a simple meal.  I was wondering if old fashioned waxed paper is recyclable, and if it is a better choice to use to cover food in the microwave, etc.?


Jan Lundberg responds:
Hi Judi,
It is important to realize that commercial waxes today are all of petroleum.  I would not want them touching my food or skin.  One wax that was put in certain milk cartons was halted many years ago by the maker, Chevron, because the wax was carcinogenic. 
Exactly what is going on today with substances and their response to heating or radiation I cannot tell you, I don't have time to do the research, nor does our group have a researcher (who would need to be paid), but you want to err on the side of caution and be safe rather than sorry.
What I sometimes use is two dishes or bowls put together to cover foods, and I use glass jars I reuse, rather than use some disposable and toxic product.

General subjects

April 25, 2005
Hi, I think your website is awesome. Many Americans have the "out of sight, out of mind" approach to the garbage we produce. I especially liked the tire wall, I literally gasped when I saw it. I cringe to think what our landfills look like. Keep up the good work!!!!! 
Sarah Wakely

February 7, 2005

ear Jan, I have often admired your work. We too are on a very thin shoestring, and I myself have had to finance our web site and other expenses. We do it for love of country and children's peaceful future. We hate what's going on under Bush, and are afraid for this country's soul. Thank you for what you do. Bless you 1000 times!

Daphne S. Reed, Founder
Mothers Against War

Thank you Daphne,

     You made my day. Isn't it amazing that such a basic value -- mothers being against war -- is way down on the public's allowed list of concerns?
     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, 2003, Friday

Consuming Globally

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.''

Pres., Sustainable Energy Institute
Arcata, Calif., Nov. 29, 2003

Published: 12 - 05 - 2003 , Late Edition - Final , Section A , Column 6 , Page 38


Dec. 15, 2004
Hello, I read your letter about how the earth is in dire straights and I do not agree. Our earth is doing just fine, you have been brainwashed by the doomsayers at Greenpeace and their ilk. Go live your life andd have fun and above all quit worrying about EVERYTHING. I have done alot of reserch and decided that EVERYTHING Greenpeace says is a lie. And remember to "Hug Your Nuclear Power Plant Owner Today" for having a facility that actually produces useable baseload electricity, unlike those pitiful little windfarms that are just there for show to make people like you feel warm and fuzzy inside. (But very cold outside) 
Paul "NO FEAR" Weir Seattle

November 10, 2004
My name is Phil Armstrong, I live in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand, and I am working on a web site (on line but a work in progress), which aims to be an information sharing site for New Zealanders and others. I am writing to ask for permission to > place a link to your site under our Spirituality section.  I look forward to hearing from you.  
Phil Armstrong

Needless to say, permission was granted and was not necessary.  But hooray! - ed.

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? 
- Bob Smith

JL responds: I am not familiar with all you say, but I'm sure there is still more objectionable behavior and connections that make Ms. Kerry less qualified than we'd like for a First Lady.  Obviously, we are comparing her with Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton, and the like.  We have to realize that the Establishment is intent on perpetuating world trade, and this should push anyone past the point of expecting fundamental change from within the $y$tem.  However, sometimes an opening up (glasnost) can spawn and avalanche of restructuring (perestroika).  Personally, I believe the real change toward a sustainable culture has to come when people live without petroleum.  Your observations are important, and so is the whole game of politics if it is shifting over to sustainability. I happen to believe the entire game called Modern Consumer Society will crash before long.

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 imagine. 
Long live Culture Change! 

July 26, 2004 - Hello sir, 
I am very concerned about the climatic conditions prevailing in the world today i have been trying to contact some organisation that i can work with to spread the awareness about global warming that is ruining our earth.  One way of telling people is that today science has achieved its pinnacle and any further advancement will not help humans but destroy the earth.  After all there is just one earth and we need to preserve it. Today we want a correct balance of SCIENCE AND SPIRITUALITY which can help the humans survive.  We are all humans and we must all fight this evil together i personally want to contribute please reply as soon as possible.
Somya Bhatnagar

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.
     There are many ways one may assist the cause of climate protection, and in so doing we reduce petroleum dependence. This is vital not just because it is the fair and kind thing to do, or that it is necessary for the ecological survival of us all, but because in the short term hundreds of millions of people are at risk of starvation from immediate collapse of today's petroleum system, as oil and natural gas are not just energy but feedstock for solid materials including fertilizer. 
     We at Culture Change have many ideas and projects that work on the problem and offer solutions, as you seem to have gathered from our website. I would encourage you to choose something specific you wish to see amplified or pursued to the hilt, and let me know what you think. Here is our Pledge for Climate Protection weblink (although it is geared mainly toward western consumers living as social isolates):
- Jan Lundberg

Transportation justice: "Yeah, but..."
      I agree with much of what you say, but my husband and I have problems complying with your transportation policies.  We are two 58-year-old disabled people and we have to have our car.  My husband, having been hospitalized a number of times, uses two canes and wears an oxygen backpack (he's on oxygen 24/7).  I have back trouble and osteoarthritis that limit the distance I can walk and the time I can stand.  I also have venous insufficiency in my lower legs and must wear compression stockings.  I have only one pair and can't afford to get any more because the California legislature dropped coverage for podiatry-related expenses (which naturally included my stockings).  What I'll be able to do about that, if anything, I have no idea, but that's my problem and not yours.
      Anyway.  Do I need to say that bicycles are out of the question?  No?  Good.  Then you understand where we're coming from.  So we need your busy brains to come up with ideas for transportation for the handicapped.  Public transportation in our town (Eureka) does not serve all areas.  If our car is inoperative and we can't afford right then to fix it, then we have to walk two or three blocks to get to the bus and then stand while we wait for it to come.  And if we don't have exact change, we have to consult with other passengers.  And if we don't have the busfare, then we must stay home.  Sometimes I think America in general and California in particular hate the poor.
      To top that off, we can't afford to convert our car to another fuel or another engine type.  My husband's income is fixed and mine is subject to the whims of In-Home Support Services, which pays me to take care of my husband's paramedical needs.
      So what can we do?  We don't want to be forever bothering people to give us rides and there may be times when we cannot wait for a ride of one kind or another to come.  For some, we'd have to wait an hour or more (impossible, with my back and legs).
      I await your edifying reply.

Nancy M.

Dear Ms. M,
      Your letter is helpful for stating the serious transportation problems and, may I say also, some key cultural problems of the U.S.  Thank you for sharing the details of your lives which make clear the challenges presented really to all citizens.  The American Dream is a nightmare when owning one's home and car still does not allow people to live a full life and look forward to a bright tomorrow.  As you must see, the problem goes beyond transportation and goes toward the way we take care of one another as a society. 
      Without real communities that are made up of extended families, and of neighbors who have the time and incentive to help one another, we have very little security -- regardless of how much money we have individually, how much funding state agencies can spread around, and how many wars are fought in the name of protecting our freedoms and oil supply.  Freedom to shop (using oil) is all that remains for most Americans, as their ability to run their own lives and communities increasingly collides against selfish interests that include corporations, government bureaucrats and law enforcement whose purposes are to regiment us -- as if we are a management problem.  Repressing the citizenry's urge to make changes and defend itself is the powerful myth of securing oneself through materialism and isolation.  In reality, short-term gratification is achieved, as one cannot even take one's wealth to the grave anymore, or share it in one's intended way with a legitimate (not just a legal) will, when so many opportunists -- even family members -- prey upon the elderly.
      The kind of fundamental change required in the dominant culture is far more than our organization's original emphasis on stopping new road construction and having as many people as possible go car free, while boosting rail transport.  This is the primary reason for our changing our magazine name from the Auto-Free Times to Culture Change.  Our former main project was the Alliance for a Paving Moratorium, to fight new road construction and stop road widenings, while promoting road repair and alternative transportation.  Now our projects and main message are about cutting dependence on petroleum of all kinds, as much as and as fast as possible, as part of necessary cultural change.
      I do not believe you and your husband can find hope in politicians or government programs.  What I'm about to suggest may be very difficult, but is perhaps the only alternative: you will have to make common cause with neighbors and family members to help one another here on out.  You are not cogs in a machine who are to be tossed out once you can no longer get from Point A to Point B the same way the majority of people are doing.  The new way of living we advocate is actually not new.  Mutual aid and cooperation are our species' main evolution and (pre)history. 
      From a practical standpoint, it seems advisable for you and your husband to soon join a larger shared living household where you can enjoy others' support and can share resources.  I am sure you both have much to offer others, even if unmeasurable in the damned Gross Domestic Product calculation (which is swelled by such things as pollution!).
      Your incentive to try new approaches is made urgent by the coming collapse of global oil supplies for the present economy.  If society's resources had in the 1970s been put henceforth into renewable energy and non-car transport systems, and our population size had not continued to balloon, spreading out to cover the farmland with pavement and large, inefficient homes, we would all have more resources today for the crucial transition to a sustainable society.  The citizenry is also afflicted with passivity and willful ignorance, such that real solutions are not circulated and promoted.  For example, if Pedal Power Produce (an "institution" in Humboldt County) were discussed widely and the concept shared with enough people making decisions and who have immense wealth, this would make a difference at least in achieving a perhaps global showcase of sustainable food transport as a model for the future.
      Your contacting us and telling your story is one step toward our all helping one another to reject an unworkable system and strive toward a kinder and more efficient system.  I hope your lives improve, and you can be assured you mean something to everyone else.  Unless we are all one, in our hearts and minds, there is little future for anyone -- as people are just starting to find out.


Jan Lundberg

July 25, 2004 - Here is an idea that will get us out of cars, off the oil and reverse our global warming and environmental damage: 
      Build compact, walkable communities connected by extensive bike lanes and clean, electric train systems.  I live in Old Town Alexandria, VA which is compact and walkable, and connected to the DC Metrorail system, and therefore I live perfectly well without a car. I walk, bike, and take Metro to everything I need to do.  It works. 
      We need to move the 30-50 billion spent annually on road building into train system building nationwide, and along with that encourage the building and infilling of compact, walkable communities like Old Town.  This will allow millions of people to live like I do - car-free. 
      For more info, please visit our 2 websites:
All the best, 
Andy Kunz


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