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While We Still Have Time

In spite of the grimness of the times in which we live, there is still hope. If you feel, like I do, that the usual discourse about matters of critical concern tends to be superficial, misguided, and false, then you might find some solace and inspiration here. I will try to offer insight and a holistic perspective on events and issues, and hopefully serve as a catalyst for raising the level of dialogue on this planet.

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Location: Madison, Wisconsin, United States

I was born in 1945, shortly before atom bombs were dropped on Japan. I served in the U.S. Army from 1968 to 1971. I earned master's degrees in Economics and Educational Psychology, and certificates in Web Page Design and as a Teacher of English as a Second Language. I followed an Indian guru for eight years, which immersed me in meditative practices and an attitude of reaching a higher level of being. A blog post listing the meditative practices I have pursued can be seen here.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

It's a Bit Late In the Day

Yesterday was the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska. In seeming tribute, a barge in the Houston Ship Channel collided with a ship Saturday, spilling 900,000 gallons of oil. Also on Saturday, a mud slide in Washington caused at least 14 deaths, with 176 people missing. The mudslide smothered the town of Oso, and it is highly suspected that clearcutting of the forest above the town was a contributing factor.

We also have had recent contaminations of water supplies in North Carolina and West Virginia in advance of the anniversary. A spill from a crude oil pipeline on March 17 spewed 20,000 gallons into a nature reserve in Ohio. On March 20 a broken oil pipeline spilled 34,000 gallons in North Dakota. On a smaller scale, 500 gallons of oil spilled into Lake Michigan yesterday from a BP refinery in Indiana.

All these disasters are happening in tandem with the coldest and stormiest winter in recent times, a result of weather patterns being upset by carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. All credible scientific study indicates that unless humankind reduces its dependence on fossil fuels these kinds of events will increase in severity and frequency, eventually threatening the survival of most species.

It doesn't matter. At least not to our major institutions of government, business, education and even religion. Their focus is on the priorities of infinite growth of our mass industrial economy. Everything else is subsumed under this imperative. An article in Salon this past Sunday describes this institutional failure

I used to be a believer in "activism" - the individual and collective effort to promote change in policies, practices and perceptions. I tried being involved in various groups advocating this or that - peace, care of the ecosystem, human rights of various kinds, recalling the governor. None of my efforts amounted to much, and mostly soured me on the idea of collective action. A veterans peace group I joined turned into a farce, with jealousy, animosity, power plays and even violence rendering its peace efforts hypocritical and surreal.

It's a bit late in the day anyway to be turning back the clock on global climate change and environmental degradation. The momentum of the system is fixed on its present course, and it would cause major disruptions if the industrial world all of a sudden became prudent with resources, pollution and output of goods and services. It will change against its will when a critical mass of CO2 in the atmosphere is reached.

I'd like to be more optimistic, but it has been too many years of too much observation and experience for that. I'm resigned to a more apocalyptic future. Of course, I'm older, so it's easy for me to accept finality. But I ache for future generations. They won't have even the meager wealth and luxuries that I have experienced.

Looking on the bright side, civilizations have died out before and humankind has still survived, even flourished. It will be different this time. Since the mass industrial system is worldwide,. its collapse will be worldwide. Still, this planet has been around a long time, and it is likely to be around a long time more. Something will replace this mass silliness, and it won't be what we are doing now. Let's hope it is better. Meanwhile, let's meditate.

Here's a song. And a medley of songs.

Here's another song that I heard today for the first time.

Maybe it's closing time for the human species. We'll find out soon enough.

It turns out that the BP Lake Michigan oil spill was twice as big as originally reported.


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