December 19th, 2009

Dec-18-2009 | Comments Off

Compiled and edited by Peter Marmorek                                                      
Year Six; Issue 41

1. Actions
2. Copenhagen: Reasons for Despair
3. Copenhagen: Reasons for Hope
4. Copenhagen: Reasons for Amusement
5. Dystopia
and Datopia?
6. Music for the Winter Solstice
7. Things With Sharp Claws
8. Light Entertainment
9. Puzzles, and Fun
10. Eyecandy: 2009 Retrospective
11. Quote of the Week

1.  Actions
* Kairos Funding Cut. Kairos has been doing wonderful work for years on third World Development, and has had their funding cut by Harper’s axe. Read about the cut here: Addressing the Global Forum to Counter Anti-Semitism in Jerusalem, Minister Kenney described his government’s fights against anti-Semitism and, as an example, said the government had “defunded organizations … like KAIROS for taking a leadership role in the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign” against Israel. Minister Kenney’s charge against KAIROS is false. KAIROS did not lead this campaign.” Sign a petition here

* Gaza Freedom March In conjunction with the Gaza Freedom March, community and activist organizations in Toronto will be holding a rally protest the siege of Gaza. Dec 27th, 1 pm, Israeli Consulate. Full details here.

2. Copenhagen: Reasons for Despair
Context:
It’s over and there was an agreement reached that action must be taken, but no legally binding agreement as to what action. They could have banned world hunger and repealed the law of gravity just as effectively. In this section we look at the implications of the failure to take meaningful action.

* The Elephants of Doom in Copenhagen Tyee (Thanks, Dave!)
There is no conflict between the environment and the economy. Whatever problems we may have can be solved if we just get more efficient with our energy use. New technologies like carbon sequestration can do that. And markets will work their magic if we can get the incentives right. So let’s price carbon to force that market innovation, and let’s support “green” science to create these new technologies….This is the official ideology of Copenhagen. This is the agenda.
But there are some problems here…Take cars, for example. We can increase fuel economy, and we can shift to hybrid electrics. And we can use our oil more wisely, stick up a million windmills, and dam another 100,000 rivers. And we can grow, slowly steadily, year by year. And then we will have more and more cars everywhere, and the oil is still going to run out, and there will be no more rivers left to dam, and no new places to take advantage of the wind. Then what? Like Obama in Afghanistan, we should ask, “Where is the ‘exit strategy’? And when?” And what will the world look like when we face up to that inevitable exit?

* Why Economies get Worse without a Deal Gwynne Dyer (Thanks, Gabe!)
Oceans cover two-thirds of the planet’s surface and are cooler than the land, so the average temperature over most land areas is higher than the “average global temperature”. The Hadley Centre predicts that a global average of plus-4 degrees means average temperatures 5 to 6 degrees higher in China, India, Southeast Asia, and most of Africa, and up to 8 degrees higher in the Amazon (which would burn, of course).
The result would be a 40-percent fall in world wheat and corn production and a 30-percent fall in rice by 2060—in a world that would, by then, have to feed 2 billion more people. So there would be mass starvation, and waves of desperate refugees trying to move to some country where they can still feed their kids.

* Signs of Change in the Himalayas The Guardian
Average temperatures across Nepal have risen 1.6C in 50 years – twice the global average. But here on the roof of the world, in what is called the “third pole”, they are already nearly 4C above normal and on track to rise by as much as 8C by 2050.
Temperature rises like this in the Himalayas would be a catastrophe. It is not just the future of a few mountain communities at stake but the lives of nearly one in four people in the world, all of whom rely on the Himalayas for water. Nepalese rivers alone provide water for 700 million people in India and Bangladesh

* The Truths Copenhagen Ignored Johann Hari The Independent (Thanks, Gabe!)
So that’s it. The world’s worst polluters – the people who are drastically altering the climate – gathered here in Copenhagen to announce they were going to carry on cooking, in defiance of all the scientific warnings.
They didn’t seal the deal; they sealed the coffin for the world’s low-lying islands, its glaciers, its North Pole, and millions of lives.
Those of us who watched this conference with open eyes aren’t surprised. Every day, practical, intelligent solutions that would cut our emissions of warming gases have been offered by scientists, developing countries and protesters – and they have been systematically vetoed by the governments of North America and Europe.

3. Copenhagen: Reasons for Hope
Context:
The countries together did nothing… but the people started pushing, a pressure that is sure to increase in light of Presidents’ and Prime Ministers’ failure. And cities, states and provinces started talking about what they can do.

* The Protesters Offer the Best Hope For Our Planet Johann Hari The Independent
This conflagration here in Copenhagen is heartbreaking and heartwarming all at once. Our governments are showing their moral bankruptcy – but a genuinely global democratic movement is swelling to make them change course. Mass democratic agitation is the only force that has ever made governments moral before; it will have to do it again.
An army of dedicated campaigners is gathering here, and they are prepared to take real risks to oppose this sham-deal. The protest march on Saturday here must have been the most genuinely global demonstration in history. Under banners saying “There Is No Planet B”, “Nature Doesn’t Do Bailouts” and “Change the Politics, Not the Climate”, there seemed to be people from every nation on earth. Lawrence Muli from Kenya’s youth delegation told me: “We are having the worst drought in memory in Kenya. The seasons have changed in ways we don’t understand. My family can’t grow crops any more, so they are going hungry. I am here to say we won’t die quietly.”… The young protesters who will do this have proved themselves, so far, the sanest force in town. They have ensured that the corporate lobbyists punching holes in the deal are followed and shamed wherever they meet. They chant: “It’s not your business – it’s our climate.”

* Schwarzenegger: Local Governments Can Lead Climate Fight FORA.tv
The Guvernator tells it like it is in this powerful three minute video.

* Countries can Fight on Their Own
Germany goes Green The Guardian
In this nation that embraced one of the world’s most aggressive campaigns against global warming, the Pokropp family can almost hear the cha-ching when switching off their lights. A kilowatt of electricity costs three times as much here as it does in the United States, supercharged with high taxes to discourage use and to help fund renewable energy development. Meanwhile, a 50 percent “eco-tax” has sent the price of gasoline to $8 a gallon. To manage costs, the family of three unplugs all their appliances but the refrigerator at night, avoids driving and limits steam baths — a favorite German custom. “We have no choice,” said Andreas Pokropp, a former coal refinery worker. “We have to be green, even if we can’t afford it.”

Denmark Goes Green ESSI
Since 1990, Denmark has grown its economy by 45 percent while energy consumption has remained constant and CO2 emissions have fallen by 13 percent. The efficiency and renewable energy industries are thriving, providing 11 percent of total Danish exports and contributing to Denmark’s relatively high GDP and low unemployment. Specifically, Denmark has focused on combined heat and power, wind energy, building efficiency, and, most recently, electric vehicles, among numerous strategies to reduce carbon emissions and enhance the Danish economy.

4. Copenhagen: Reasons for Amusement
Context:
Reading the media has been pretty funny. On Wednesday, The Guardian had a headline “Copenhagen Day Of Mass Protest Passes Without Major Incident”, while The New York Times reported, “Police Beat Back Massed Climate Protesters”. The best stunt was the Yes Men making fools out of Jim Prentice, (like shooting farmed fish in an oil barrel, innit?) but we have a few other amusing pieces to follow as well.

* YES MEN Prank Canada at Copenhagen Huffington Post
The fun began this morning when the Yes Men put out the following release, purporting to come from the Assistant Press Secretary, of the Canadian Office of the Minister of the Environment. Here it is in full:

CANADA ANNOUNCES NEW AGENDA FOR CLIMATE AND WORLD DEVELOPMENT

Plan includes stricter emissions reductions and immediate “climate debt” bailouts for most affected countries. In a major development coming three days before the final round of UN climate change negotiations in Copenhagen,… Canada’s Attache for Environment and Planning announced today an ambitious plan for a new climate change framework that answers vital concerns voiced by developing nations….”We believe all people will benefit from an equitable climate deal that truly energizes the world economy,” said Prentice.
UPDATE #2: Yet another spoof press release, this one apologizing for all the confusion:

Tragic Ugandan Reaction to False “Canada” Announcement.

Passionate response highlights cruelty of thoughtless pranksters….”It is the height of cruelty, hypocrisy, and immorality to infuse with false hopes the spirit of people who are already, and will additionally, bear the brunt of climate change’s terrible human effects,” said Jim Prentice, Canada’s Minister for the Environment.

* A Denialist Speaks Out Cartoon

* Greenpeace’s 2020 Poster Campaign

5. Dystopia and Datopia
Context:
I kept getting more and more separate items about the development of an Orwellian world in Oceania. So I tried to put them into a context and this hyperlinked essay is what came out. Don’t miss the Onion piece towards the end! Comments welcome.

* Dystopia and Datopia Peter Marmorek Tikkun Daily Blog
Soma or Big Brother? Destruction or distraction? For years “Brave New World” was balanced against “1984″, as though those two works defined the opposite ends of the dystopian spectrum, a spectrum one might presume to be exclusively in shades of grey. And though such an opposition ignores the many other fine works describing the range of hand-baskets in which we may be hell-bound, the pairing offered a useful metaphor. For many, the final word on the debate was Neil Postman’s “Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business” which in 1986 argued brilliantly that it was Huxley, not Orwell, whose map more accurately charted our society’s devolution. If you haven’t read Postman, or have only fuzzy memories of “1984″ or “Brave New World” check out Stuart McMillen’s concise and clear outline of Postman’s contrast between the Orwellian and Huxleyan dystopias. It’s a funny cartoon summary with painfully accurate images of Huxleyan indulgence and Orwellian control. And it’s hard to argue against Huxley in a week when Google (to whom we’ll return later on) tells us that people find the question of whether the world’s leaders in Copenhagen will manage to avert the impending climate catastrophe to be five million hits less interesting than Tiger Woods, whom we are given to understand has been putting his balls into the wrong holes.
Despite that, I think Postman had it wrong….

6. Music For The Winter Solstice
Context:
Time of Darkness, shadows, and loneliness: no wonder we have festivals of light and gifts! But here are a few songs that seem seasonal: a new Leonard Cohen blues, a stinging James McMurtry rocker, and Tom Lehrer with a traditional Christmas carol, more or less.

* Darkness: Leonard Cohen Youtube
I caught the darkness baby,
Drinking from your cup,

I caught the darkness baby,
from your little ruby cup.
I said is this contagious?
You said ‘just drink it up’

* We Can’t Make It Here Anymore: James McMurtry Grooveshark
Should I hate a people for the shade of their skin
Or the shape of their eyes or the shape I’m in
Should I hate ‘em for having our jobs today
No I hate the men sent the jobs away
I can see them all now, they haunt my dreams
All lily white and squeaky clean
They’ve never known want, they’ll never know need
Their shit don’t stink and their kids won’t bleed
Their kids won’t bleed in the damn little war
And we can’t make it here anymore.

* A Christmas Carol: Tom Lehrer youtube
Christmas time is here, by golly,
Disapproval would be folly,
Deck the halls with hunks of holly
Fill the cup and don’t say when…

7. Things With Sharp Claws
Context:
Seems to fit the Winter Solstice theme: a terrifying 21 second slow motion video of an owl’s stoop, a cartoon about the Sphinx by Toronto great Winston Rowntree, and an
Elizabeth Bear short story about a young girl’s friendship with a harpy.

* Owl Attack In Slow Motion Youtube 21 sec

* Oh the Search for Solace Subnormality comix

* The Horrid Glory of Its Wings tor.com

8. Light Entertainment
Context:
After that last round we need something cheering. Some lights: a Christmas roof Santa like none you’ve seen, some wonderfully decorated trees, and 27 unusual menorahs. Tikkunista! hasn’t figured out how to send you mulled wine through the net yet, but we’re working on it.

* Santa

* Trees with Lights

* 27 Craziest Menorahs

9. Puzzles and Fun
Context:
Quick entertainment and some cheering light at the end of the tunnel.

* How many US states are entirely south of Canada’s southernmost point?
That’s the puzzle. Just click on the link to get the answer.

* Slide Puzzle Generator National Geographic
Remember the slide puzzle you had as a kid, a 4 X 4 matrix, with 15 pieces that slide around the 16th empty space, and you had to arrange the numbers in order? Same thing, but with Nat’l Geo pretty pictures. Timed, for the obsessively competitive.

* 1000 Awesome Things

10. Eyecandy: 2009 in Review The Big Picture
*
Part One
* Part Two
* Part Three

10. Quote of the Week
“Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man’s original virtue. It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and through rebellion.” Oscar Wilde

=====================================

“Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief.

Do justly, now.
Love mercy, now.
Walk humbly, now.

You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.”

       The Talmud
=====================================



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