Friday, July 19, 2019

(Nonviolently) Sabatoging Oil and Gas Leasing in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

"Many junkies, before hitting bottom, stoop low enough to steal their mothers’ jewels. That’s what’s happening at a national scale on the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska" (ANWR) begins this New York Times article by William deBuys on oil and gas leasing there opposed by republicans according to "including EPA administrators under presidents Nixon, Reagan and George H. W. Bush," and I recall democrats, and Gwich'in people many years. I will be forever grateful if my republican friends call their senators and representatives today, and tell them they want ANWR protected for their children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, great great grandchildren, and great great great grandchildren. You get the idea.

Suz and I are halibut fishing in Alaska, and meeting great people.

I'm grateful for my yoga.
No matter what else happens in my life, I can say I stood in Kake, Alaska.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Andrew Critchlow's July 9, 2019 S&P Global Article "OPEC is playing into Thunberg’s hands on climate change"

 Andrew Critchlow's July 9, 2019 S&P Global article is "OPEC is playing into [16-year-old] Thunberg’s hands on climate change." Here are gems from the article:

"The head of the oil cartel [OPEC’s Secretary General Mohammed Barkindo]– which pumps just under a third of the world’s crude – was quoted last week saying that attacks leveled at producers by a 'growing mass mobilization of world opinion' had become 'perhaps the greatest threat to our industry going forward. [. . . .] children have been mobilized to demonstrate [. . . .] They are beginning to infiltrate boardrooms and parliaments.'"

"All music to the young ears of Thunberg. The Swedish teenager described the comments as 'our biggest compliment yet' in a brief tweet to her army of 723,000 followers on the social media platform."

"Invited to the UN in New York this September, she plans to get there without air travel to minimise her carbon footprint."

"Thunberg managed to inspire an estimated 1.6 million children to walk out of school classrooms around the world in March to demand action on climate change. Her influence has grown impossible for most democratic governments to ignore."

"Doors will get harder to open for Barkindo and an oil-producing industry that is increasingly being branded as toxic by investors and politicians alike. Access to capital is very slowly being choked off by investors [ . . . .] For example, Norway’s $1 trillion sovereign wealth fund is actively ditching most of its oil-producing investments. [. . .]  Japan’s gigantic $1.4 trillion Government Pension Investment Fund has placed an emphasis on applying ESG principles to its portfolio and is actively involved in the Group of Twenty Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures."

See the Thunberg videos I posted December 4, 2018. Harlan Howard's 1950s comment about country music seems to fit here: "Three Chords and the Truth"

Sunday, July 7, 2019

In 2007 Serge Planton of Meteo-France Warned of European Heatwave "Every two years after 2017"

Many have heard of the June/July 2019 European heatwave, heat records in Alaska, and recent California tidal mussels cooked in shells. Regarding background, according to BBC Studios "3000 people died in Paris on one excessively hot Monday in 2003," and according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), that event "was the hottest in continental Europe since at least 1540." According to a Wikipedia cite, "Peer-reviewed analysis [placed] the European death toll [for the 2003 event] at more than 70,000." What is most haunting about that event is Serge Planton of Meteo-France's 2007 warning "Of course the heatwave of 2003 is very exceptional. What is projected now from our simulation is that we should have such an occurrence of a heatwave every two years after 2017."

Friday, June 28, 2019

Kingsnorth, Thunberg, Berry, Jensen, and Evehema vs "the Machine"

Thanks to Oregon naturalist and writer Tim Fox for emailing me this great Kingsnorth essay "Life versus the Machine" from Orion (winter 2018). Orion noted on their Facebook page it "has become one of our most-read articles this year."  I read each word slowly with interest. The details and themes are powerful as usual for him. I especially like his end about how words are not working, and I respect his commitment to nonviolence. His YouTube The battle against climate change (65,385 views as of today) was voted by my spring term English 205 Critical Thinking students as one of their favorite presentations.

However, I also like the May 4, 2019 comment below "Life versus the Machine" by John Gabriel Otvos, and his reposting of 16-year-old Greta Thunberg "who said this at the Davos gathering in Switzerland": Thunberg:“We are facing [an] existential crisis, the biggest crisis humanity has ever faced [. . .] If everyone is guilty, then no one is to blame, and someone is to blame… Some people, some companies, some decision makers in particular know exactly what priceless values they have been sacrificing to continue making unimaginable amounts of money, and I think many of you here today belong to that group of people.” 

I respect Kingsnorth's clarity and vision, and I respect Thunberg's brutal honesty and request for accountability. Kingsnorth's main points do not conflict with Thunberg's main point.  Kingsnorth is wise enough to acknowledge the dominant culture was born into this death machine, most of us have some responsibility for continuing to support it, and on one level power in the human realm is based on money and political influence (oil companies), and at a higher level Nature, which either has trumped, or will soon trump, human money and political influence depending on where one lives on the globe, and access to resources.

Thomas Berry wrote in The Dream of the Earth "The art of communion with the earth we can relearn from the Indian. Thus a reverse dependence is established. Survival in the future will likely depend more on our learning from the Indian than the Indian’s learning from us. In some ultimate sense we need their mythic capacity for relating to this continent more than they need our capacity for mechanistic exploitation of the continent.”

Derrick Jensen wrote in "Playing for Keeps" also published in Orion like the Kingsnorth essay, "Only the most arrogant and ignorant among us would say something that implies that all humans are destructive, and that the dominant (white) culture is the most destructive simply because somehow indigenous peoples around the world were too stupid to invent backhoes and chainsaws, too backward to dominate their human and nonhuman neighbors with the efficiency and viciousness of the dominant culture. They might even try to argue that the Tolowa [of the ancient Redwood Forest of Northern California] weren’t actually living sustainably, even though they lived here for at least 12,500 years. But when 12,500 years of living in place won’t convince them, it becomes pretty clear that evidence is secondary, and that there are, rather, ideological reasons the person cannot accept that humans have ever lived sustainably. One of these ideological reasons is very clear: if you can convince yourself that humans are inherently destructive, then you allow yourself the most convenient of all excuses not to work to stop this culture from destroying the planet: it’s simply in our nature to destroy, and you can’t fight biology, so let’s not fuss about all these little extinctions, and could someone please pass the TV remote? It’s an odious position, but a lot of people take it."

In my book Industrial Oz, I received permission to quote Hopi elder Dan Evehema from a man who sat with him: "The degree of violence will be determined by the degree of inequity caused among the peoples of the world and in the balance of nature. In this crisis rich and poor will be forced to struggle as equals in order to survive."

In other words, as Kingsnorth, Berry, Jensen, and Evehema note, lack of human respect for Nature means Nature at some point takes over, and humans are humbled beyond what most can imagine.

Below are gems from the Kingsnorth essay.

"It is estimated that the internet will consume a fifth of the world’s electricity by 2025."

"Microsoft computer scientist and author Jarod Lanier has estimated that if everyone in the world deleted all their social media accounts, it would make a major contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Internet data storage facilities currently emit roughly the same amount as the entire global aviation industry."

"The effects of regular smartphone use on the human brain include the regular triggering of physiological stress and fear responses originally designed to help us evade predators; dopamine addiction; depression; a reduction in analytical thinking capacity; and the malfunctioning of the brain’s prefrontal cortex, which can lead to unpredictable and sometimes dangerous behavior."

"A thing is right, runs Leopold’s Land Ethic, when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise."

"For a number of years, I believed that this second category was made up of people who, if they knew the truth about the human massacre of nonhuman life, would demand significant changes to society, and be prepared to make sacrifices accordingly. [par break] I was an idiot. [par break] Now I think that humans like ease, material comfort, entertainment, and conformity, and they do not like anyone who threatens to take these things away. I think that even the people who say these things should be taken away in order to prevent the collapse of life on Earth do not really mean it."

"All of our promises of change have come to nothing. We have only stopped our rampage when things have gone wrong."

"And we are not the gods we thought we would be. We are Loki, killing the beautiful for fun. We are Saturn, devouring our children. We are Moloch: come, feed your newborn into our fires."

"Pay attention. Give love. Give shelter."

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Fishin' for the Halibut

I fished for halibut June 20 out of Newport, Oregon. About 35 years ago I ran halibut, salmon, rockfish, and mermaid charters for Tradewinds just north of here in Depoe Bay. Above is a 76-pounder I caught on one of my days off fishing with Minor Meador snd Frankie Hargitt. Delicious fish. Great people. Good times.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Universities, Colleges, and Schools at All Levels Must Focus on Climate Literacy and Action

June 19, 2019 Update: I recall one sad evening when my partner of 6 years, the artist Shura Young, died unexpectedly from stroke.  Breakfast and laughter followed by hospital nightmare. "There are no words," I told my artist mother.  "There are words," my mother replied.  I feel that sadness looking at Sam Panthaky's photo of an "An Indian migrant shepherd kneel[ing] down among his dead sheep at a field in Ranagadh village, Surendranagar district" -- his present, and our future for many of us.  My words are "look and feel, act and pray."  The article notes "Hundreds of Indian villages ['thousands' of people] have been evacuated as a historic drought forces families to abandon their homes in search of water. [. . .] Sick and elderly left to fend for themselves with no end in sight to water crisis [. . . .]  In Rajasthan, the city of Churu recently experienced highs of 50.8C,  [123.44 Fahrenheit] making it the hottest place on the planet. [. . . .] Usha Jadhav who lives in nearby Shivajinagar, said her family does not use the toilet any more as it has become an unaffordable luxury, and that women wait for the darkness of night to defecate in the open. 'We cannot use 5-10 litres of water for flushing as we have to purchase water,' she said."  This reality is completely off the radar screen for most North Americans, and may affect the American Southwest sooner than most think.  It is the job of artists and poets (and the world's children) to remind us of realities many tune out. Regarding the heat/drought situation in India, I added my poem "$450" below from my new book Carbonfish Blues.

June 18, 2019, Update: CBS News reported in a story "Greenland experiences severe ice melting" that "Nearly half of Greenland's ice sheet began melting this week after an unprecedented warm spell hit the Arctic region. Temperatures climbed more than 40 degrees [Fahrenheit] above average, causing an estimated 2 billion tons of ice loss. Ted Scambos, senior research scientist at the University of Colorado at Boulder's Earth Science Observation Center, joined CBSN to discuss." Regarding Greenland,  I posted my poem "How It Is" from my 2015 book Industrial Oz below.  

I recall Jason Box was far ahead of many scientists in his accurate warnings about Greenland. Jeff Goodell, Rolling Stone contributing editor and author of The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World, wrote in Rolling Stone July 25, 2013, "In 2009, [Box] announced the Petermann glacier, one of the largest in Greenland, would break up that summer – a potent sign of how fast the Arctic was warming. Most glaciologists thought he was nuts – especially after the summer passed and nothing happened. In 2010, however, Petermann began to calve; two years later, it was shedding icebergs twice the size of Manhattan. Another example: In early 2012, Box predicted there would be surface melting across the entirety of Greenland within a decade. Again, many scientists dismissed this as alarmist claptrap. If anything, Box was too conservative – it happened a few months later." 

I met Box at PLAYA in July 2016 and found him honest and informed.

Thank you to Michael Clemens at Olympic Climate Action for sending "Time to Up Our Game" (on climate literacy and action) from Susan S. Silbey, Chair of the Faculty at MIT regarding refocusing curriculum that must soon happen at all educational levels.

In a related matter, thanks to Vivian Hansen, a poet and creative writing instructor at University of Calgary, for her review of my book Hawk on Wire in the Spring 2019 issue of The Goose:  A Journal of Arts, Environment, and Culture in Canada which has a theme of the role of art in environmental activism.  In this issue of The Goose, I greatly enjoyed the poems "Forest Protest Against Kinder Morgan Pipeline" by Andrea L. Nicki, and "Silence" by Memona Hossain.

How It Is
“For several days this month, Greenland’s surface ice cover melted over a larger area than at any time in more than 30 years of satellite observations.”—Maria-Joseé Vinñas, NASA’s Earth Science News Team, July 24,2012, at

Sometimes you forget Greenland exists
like two pages stuck together in a novel
or a speed sign missed on a dark highway.

Then it melts and Holland disappears.

At this point everyone wonders,
“Will humanity survive?”

and I think of Butterfield Concrete Company

when I was a boy, and how,
even in the harshest neighborhoods

with metal bars on windows,

words in sidewalks were mostly about love.

--Scott T. Starbuck

is the price, according to Dr. Veerabhadran Ramanathan,
“per person per year in the top one billion people” to save over
3 billion people that may otherwise die from exposure
to 130 degree plus heat
35 years from now if humans fail to convert energy sources
from coal and fossil fuels
to “solar, wind, hydro, and possibly nuclear.”

$450 is less than half the price of new iPhone X,
or about one fifth the cost of Superbowl Ticket,
or one 13.3333333 billionth projected cost of Iraq War counting interest.
Imagine one eight pound girl baking because it was more important
for you to surf Internet, be there for kickoff, silence yourself on war.

You, by the numbers, Mr. and Mrs. Average North American,
will consume 1,820 chickens, 70 turkeys, 7 cows, 35 hogs,
will watch 127, 750 hours of TV, burn 35,000 gallons of gas,
spend 114,975 hours on computer,

and what, for all you have taken, being 5% world population
producing half the world’s garbage, using 24% of her energy,
and being the largest carbon-emitting nation in history,
will you give back
to this blue gem you call home?*

* Statistics found using

--Scott T. Starbuck

Monday, June 10, 2019

Slow Fishin'

This morning at 3:45 a.m. I heard a growl behind me, and rocks fell as I sat alone by the Oregon river under stars. I thought it was local guys I know playing a trick, but when they arrived an hour later they said no, and no other cars were above but they saw two deer running scared. Anyway, I opened my 3-inch blade imagining Mr. Mountain Lion's fangs and claws. I recalled the fight scene between Butch and Logan, and wondered how hard it would be to kick the crotch of an attacking mountain lion at high speed, then decided my chances were slim to none. You just don't get that kind of thrill in city life.

Suz said I can't go home until I catch 5 salmon. Do you think she'll notice the barcodes?

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Columbia River Thoughts


Oliver Milman has a great article in The Guardian "US schools accused of censoring climate crisis message in graduation speeches" which includes San Diego student Jessica Lopez of Health Sciences High and Middle College. It is the responsibility of US citizens to think globally. Now is a good time to repost the video Odyssey 2050, APE and Coldplay Team Up.

Recently I was driving down the Columbia River thinking about the June 4 United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Portland, Oregon hearing arguments regarding if the case Juliana v. USA (Children's Trust Climate Lawsuit) can proceed. I was on my way to give poetry readings at Lower Columbia College in Longview, WA, and Clatsop Community College in Astoria, OR, along with other poets.

It was interesting Julia Rosen at the Los Angeles Times reported June 3 in a story about the case “Plaintiffs’ alleged fundamental right to a ‘livable climate’ finds no basis in this nation’s history or tradition and is not even close to any other fundamental right recognized by the Supreme Court,' Justice Department lawyers wrote in a brief this year." That is how out of touch the Justice Department is with reality. Gratefully, the USA Military is more in touch than the Justice Department. NPR's radio broadcast at reported June 1 "climate change is threatening [far north] radars, imposing new risks to the national security of the United States. [. . . .] In March, [Ray] Mabus and 58 former high ranking military and national security leaders wrote a letter to President Trump. Admirals, Generals, Secretaries of State and Defense all signed the letter. It includes the line, 'Climate change is real, it's happening now, it's driven by humans and it is accelerating.' The group was responding to news that the President had created a new team to review military intelligence documents and questioned any instance where climate change was mentioned as a threat to national security."

I am grateful to Salal Magazine for publishing my poem "What the Salmon Said," for the colored pencil drawing DROWNING by Alex Rushmer, and for an audio performance of my poem by LCC Honors and Theater student / Samoan fisherman Tise Afuola.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Live Streamed 18-36082 Kelsey Rose Juliana v. USA Today at 2 p.m. (Children's Trust Climate Lawsuit Permission to Proceed to Trial Against USA to be Heard by Case Panel: MURGUIA, HURWITZ, STATON)

“Exercising my ‘reasoned judgment,’ I have no doubt that the right to a climate system capable of sustaining human life is fundamental to a free and ordered society.”
- U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken

June 23 Update: 60 Minutes posted the longer version of the story The climate change lawsuit that could stop the U.S. government from supporting fossil fuels. In a related matter, according to, "James Anderson, a Harvard University professor of atmospheric chemistry best known for establishing that chlorofluorocarbons were damaging the Ozone Layer [ . . . .noted] people have the misapprehension that we can recover from this state just by reducing carbon emissions [ . . . . but] within the next five years [. . . .] recovery is all but impossible [ . . .] without a World War II-style transformation of industry—an acceleration of the effort to halt carbon pollution and remove it from the atmosphere, and a new effort to reflect sunlight away from the earth's poles."

June 15 Update: Bill McKibben's twitter page provided this link to Carolyn Kormann's article in The New Yorker"The Right to a Stable Climate Is the Constitutional Question of the Twenty-first Century." The article notes "The judges will take a few weeks to issue their decision." Kormann wrote, "Judge Hurwitz told Olson [. . ] “You present compelling evidence that we have inaction by the other two branches of government. It may even rise to the level of criminal neglect.” 

Today, June 4, 2019, at 2 p.m. Pacific Standard Time the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Portland, Oregon, will hear arguments to decide if 21 brave children and young adults have legal right to try to force-by-trial the worst-offending carbon-emitting nation in Earth's history (USA) to immediately slow the death train of "climate disruption" as Dahr Jamail calls it. I hope the 70 plus countries visiting this blog in the right frame will listen to this live stream in support of this case. For your convenience, background has been reposted below:

March 3, 2019 Update: 60 Minutes show "Lawsuit could put U.S. government's role in climate change on trial"

January 2, 2019 Update: UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT Finds in Favor of Trump Administration Against Children's Trust Climate Lawsuit "in certifying the case for interlocutory appeal, noting that it did 'not make this decision lightly.'"  The Juliana v. United States No. 18-80176 filing continues, "FRIEDLAND, Circuit Judge, dissenting: 'I think the district court’s statements prevent us from permitting this appeal.'"

There is an excellent article in [. . .] The Guardian about 15-year-old Greta Thunberg's solo school strike in Sweden joined by "20,000 students around the world [and spreading] to at least 270 towns and cities in countries [ . . . ] including Australia, the United Kingdom, Belgium, the US and Japan."  The article quotes her "I will not beg the world leaders to care for our future. I will instead let them know change is coming whether they like it or not.”

Thunberg continued, "Since our leaders are behaving like children, we will have to take the responsibility they should have taken long ago. We have to understand what the older generation has dealt to us, what mess they have created that we have to clean up and live with. We have to make our voices heard.”

The article notes Thunberg is a descendant "of Svante Arrhenius, the Nobel-prize-winning scientist who in 1896 first calculated the greenhouse effect caused by carbon dioxide emissions." World leaders at the The UN climate change summit meeting for two weeks in Katowice, Poland, would be wise to listen.

According to The Guardian, Thunberg, who met [. . .] with UN Secretary General António Guterres, had her words complemented by presenter Sir David Attenborough:“the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.”

Attenborough told "delegates of almost 200 nations," "Right now we are facing a manmade disaster of global scale, our greatest threat in thousands of years: climate change."

In a related matter, many around the globe are waiting to hear if the Children’s Trust Climate Lawsuit,  Juliana v. US, that was set to begin in Eugene, Oregon, October 29, 2018, will be allowed to proceed.  As a reminder, in July the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Juliana v. US going forward. In October, 10 days before the trial, "Chief Justice John Roberts signed an order freezing the trial." In November, Robert Barnes and Brady Dennis reported in The Washingon Post "the Supreme Court on Friday night refused to halt [the . . .] lawsuit." However, the Supreme Court decision did not block a lower court from considering the U. S. government's request to stop the trial. Sophie Yeo of the Pacific Standard reported on November 27, 2018, "Although a permanent stay was subsequently denied, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit then granted another stay, in response to another government request, and, as of November 21st, was deciding whether the case would go to trial."

The U. S. Supreme Court sounds like a confused child while 15-year-old Thunberg sounds clear and confident.

Thanks to visitors this week from United States, Russia, Ukraine, Germany, France, Portugal, Bangladesh, Canada, and South Korea, and recent visitors from Colombia, Cambodia, Austria, Brazil, and Australia.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

May 29, 2019 Climate Update from Dahr Jamail on Thom Hartmann Program (3 C Minimum?)

"In the face of our overwhelming climate and political crises, that grief is transformed into a new clarity of vision, and a depth of passion for action that was previously inaccessible." -- Dahr Jamail, June 3, 2019, TRUTHOUT

Friday, May 24, 2019

Thomas Merton, Jacob Boehme, Thich Nhat Hanh, Buddha, and Dalai Lama

On the Road with Thomas Merton from Emergence Magazine on Vimeo. Used with permission.

"When we think of it with this knowledge, we see that we have been locked up, and led blindfold, and it is the wise of this world who have shut and locked us up in their art and their rationality, so that we have had to see with their eyes." -- Jacob Boehme quoted by Robert Bly in The Light Around the Body

According to Thich Nhat Hanh, "The Buddha said, 'This is like this, because that is like that. This is because that is.'"  In other words, climate crisis is what it is because men in power are who they are.

According to the Dalai Lama, "Because we all share this small planet earth, we have to learn to live in harmony and peace with each other and with nature. [. . . .] [. . .] we can no longer live in isolated communities and ignore what is happening outside those communities [. . .] [. . . .]  in our struggle for freedom, truth is the only weapon we possess [. . . .] Responsibility does not only lie with the leaders of our countries or with those who have been appointed or elected to do a particular job. It lies with each one of us individually. [. . . .] What is important is that we each make a sincere effort to take our responsibility for each other and for the natural environment we live in seriously."

Here is his prayer at the end of a Nobel Lecture, December 11, 1989:

For as long as space endures,
And for as long as living beings remain,
Until then may I, too, abide
To dispel the misery of the world.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Dahr Jamail on Recent Climate Data, and Pit River Tribe's Legend of Mis Misa (Spirit in Mt. Shasta)

To complement what Jamail says about the IPCC, you may want to see this link. A May 21, 2019, CNN article on sea level rise also fits the pattern of too-conservative predictions noting there is a "5%" chance "by 2100, sea levels could rise by more than two meters (6.6 feet) in the same period -- double the upper limit outlined by the UN climate science panel's last major report."

Friday, May 17, 2019

Bad News, Good News, However . . .

Bad News
The Washington Post reported three days ago "It was 84 degrees near the Arctic Ocean this weekend as carbon dioxide hit its highest level in human history" and Democracy Now! noted "temperatures near the entrance to the Arctic Ocean in northwest Russia [have] high temperatures [. . . in a place] normally 30 degrees cooler this time of year" and "Over the weekend, meteorologists measured carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere at over 415 parts per million — the highest level in human history, and a concentration that’s not been seen on Earth in over 3 million years."  For the past 420 million years, according to Nature, when carbon rises, Earth's overall temperature rises.

Good News
Grist reported "Dr. Leslie Field [. . . . of] Silicon Valley nonprofit Ice 911 [. . . . invented] reflective sheets [. . . .of] silica microbeads [. . .] safe for animals, aquatic life, and ecosystems [and able to restore vanishing Arctic ice]." The article continues "Ice treated with silica microbeads grows thicker and more reflective with each application. Ice 911 modeling suggests that spreading the beads in only a few strategic areas, like the Beaufort Gyre or the Fram Strait, could reverse melting across the Arctic."

Clive Hamilton, as I noted in a previous post, wrote in a March 10, 2015 Scientific American about aerial sulfate spraying "Yet every [National Research Council] scientist, including the council authors, is convinced that if albedo modification is implemented and not followed by a program of global emission reductions, then we are almost certainly finished. Sulfate spraying without a change in the political system would make the situation worse."

I think Field's silica microbeads, also enhancing "albedo modification" in limited strategic areas, sound much better than aerial sulfate spraying, and must not be used by oil companies to continue business as usual fossil fuel burning.

This is important because as President Niinistö of Finland said in a joint press conference with President Trump, August 28, 2017, “If we lose the Arctic, we lose the globe.”

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Epic of Gilgamesh and Climate Change

I recall reading an October 7, 2015 article at "Iraqi Museum Discovers Missing Lines From the Epic of Gilgamesh":

“The previously available text made it clear that [Gilgamesh] and Enkidu knew, even before they killed Humbaba, that what they were doing would anger the cosmic forces that governed the world, chiefly the god Enlil. Their reaction after the event is now tinged with a hint of guilty conscience, when Enkidu remarks ruefully that … ‘we have reduced the forest [to] a wasteland.’" -- Marissa Fessenden

Even here in "one of the world's oldest written stories" from about "2150 - 1400 BCE" there is a record of humans grieving loss of trees, and this was made public after 2011 as the Smithsonian article reported it was "part of a collection purchased from a smuggler." So that means about 4,161 years after the "missing fragment" was written, it reappeared as the global human community is waking up to how modern humans have, in ever-expanding areas, "reduced the forest [and coral reefs] [to] a wasteland." For example, I recall reading at "Half of the [1,400 mile] Great Barrier Reef has been bleached to death since 2016." The New York Times noted "The scientist [Terry P. Hughes and his students] cried when [they] saw the evidence.”

I also recall a Buddhist teacher said something like "Mindfulness is always one person at a time.  It is the most difficult way, but it is the only way." It is unknown if orcas and humans will go extinct from climate change.  Each species that can be saved, each human that can be saved, matters. The Guardian reported "The Lummi Nation is dropping live salmon into the sea in a last-ditch rescue effort" to save starving orcas. In Australia's "record-breaking heat" and Arizona, also breaking heat records, wild horses are dying in droughts which are expected to get hotter and longer in coming years.

I imagine our Milky Way Galaxy home, with about 100 billion stars, has some planets that survive to mature death, and many that don't, like herring chased by salmon, salmon chased by orcas, orcas chased by human ignorance. Douglas Adams, in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, wrote "Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-two million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea."

Regarding these ideas, I respect rare clarity in the YouTube The battle against climate change by Paul Kingsnorth.

Speaking of orcas, I greatly enjoyed the new anthology FOR LOVE OF ORCAS, and I'm grateful to have a poem in it along with fine poems by Craig Santos Perez, Paul E. Nelson, Robert Sund, Kim Stafford, Sam Hamill, Ira Sukrungruang, Martha Silano, Rena Priest, Christopher Howell, Derek Sheffield, Brenda Miller, James Bertolino, Priscilla Long, David M. Laws, and many other fine poets.  This is an anthology to savor, and to share -- the deeper news of our shared reality you seldom hear in mainstream news. Anthology editors Andrew Shattuck McBride and Jill McCabe Johnson noted "proceeds from sales of the book will benefit the SeaDoc Society's efforts to restore the Southern Resident orcas and their extended ecosystem."

This Dammed to Extinction Trailer, about a minute long, shows the best way to help orcas, as Dr. Deborah Giles says, "is to breach the lower four Snake River dams."

My poem in the anthology is below along with some of my favorites used with authors' permission.


“In a 100 years wild salmon runs south of Canada will be reduced to remnant runs.”
—Bob Lackey, Professor of Fisheries at Oregon State University

Future children will hear the story of when
a stranger wandered into town armed with harp,
got food, lodging, women, disappeared
and became a legend.

“Years passed, and someone found a blood-stained
knife under moss beside harp, strings gone
but ghost music still playing in alders and firs.”

The truth will become
the stranger, which was salmon,
changed into man, river a harp,
when real story of losing salmon and orcas
grew too sad to tell.

-- Scott T. Starbuck

Ode to an Orca

You fling your dolphin body

skyward, breach toward sun
to take a look--sleek, black
and white, aglitter with seawater.
You fluke-wave, roll and flip, sleep
with half a mind, travel miles,
team-hunt, herd chinook, slap
and play. You feed each other.
Your old mother leads the pod,
aids daughter, tends son.
We call you killer whale,
we who kill you with PCBs,
who warm your cold world.
You bond with your pod for life.
You are starving. We dream
of saving what we are killing:
your brainy, love-struck life,
your terrible wild beauty. 
-- Priscilla Long 


            Honolulu, Hawai'i

My wife nurses our newborn,
while I feed our toddler.
On the news, we watch you balance

your dead calf on your rostrum.
They numbered you because
there are so few left in your pod.

They named you native
because your kind is vanishing.
My family, too, comes from the sea,

and the fish our ancestors
depended on are also endangered.
Days pass. We drive our eldest

to preschool, the youngest
to her vaccinations. You carry
your decomposing daughter 

a thousand nautical miles until
every wave becomes an elegy,
until our planet becomes an open

casket. What is mourning
but our shared echolocation?
Today, you let go. Today, you let

fall. We wish we could honi you,
breathe in your breath, offer
small comfort. How do you say,

"sorry," in your dialect of sonar,
calls, and whistles? Nights pass.
You keep swimming across

the Salish Sea. We carry our girls
into the Pacific. They kick and laugh
when embraced by salt water. We

wish they could see you breach
and dive so they can grow
in the wake of your resilience. 

We promise to tell them your story
so they'll remember that love
is a wild, oceanic instinct.
-- Craig Santos Perez

Words of Encouragement

            "One must always pretend something 
            Among the dying" -- W. S. Merwin

When writing poems about extinction
it's important that you make the poems
deep, but uplifting.

Nobody wants to read a bummer poem
about endangered orcas and their dead babies.
Keep it light. Keep it motivational. Encouraging.

It's important to accommodate your gentle reader.
Don't say anything about how "If you won't
swim in it, why should they have to live in it?"

Don't say that. Honesty is offensive
in this day and age. It's always been offensive.
How else do you suppose we got here?

Maybe, instead of saying something like,
"The orcas and salmon are going extinct
because of ordinary greed and apathy,"

instead, say something like, "The noble creature
with his power and grace, shall journey away
forever, through the portals of time."

Good taste, omits mention of ~
(baby orcas, abducted to be theme park clowns --
decades in chlorinated cages, taking their eyes --

how during the capture, so many died.)
Don't forget, to forget what you know
about human cruelty --

how the baby orcas that didn't survive
had their bellies slit and filled with stones,
then were sewn closed

and dumped into the sea,
to sink into a silence so dark and so deep
public outrage couldn't reach --

a depth unfathomable as a mother's grief --
too heavy to carry for one day, much less 17.
Among the dying, shall we pretend

that in the end, we too, shall not be listed
among the dead? Yes. Let's pretend,
when writing poems about extinction.
-- Rena Priest

Earth Totem

Dorsal cedar dressed in moss where the village stood.
Crest carved fresh and proud, the clan not yet defeated.
White on black the color of starlight, high and old.
Glittering where the sea's back breaks open. In the strait,
their formation ancestors could use to teach children
the ways of courage, certainty, persistence.

Thriving where King Salmon thrive, the throng
charging in their own endemic wave through waves,
splitting the eternal, binding what flows, braiding
salt to salt in a shape the old ones carved in stone,
up from the hidden, forth through the hungry,
diving secret, swallowed by the sea.

Who will lead us into the future if not these?
Who will teach us high respect, if not
the whales that prey on whales? Who
among us can dance like that, in storm
or cold, driving through shoals of silver
where all the little lives glitter in beautiful fear?

Hold honor of ancestors in our keeping, destiny of children,
eel and clam, eagle and heron, bear and frog, all the woven
hungers nourishing us by their vigor, their abundant life.
How can we meet our children's eager, brimming gaze
if we let the orca essence falter, barren, hungry, gaunt, if
our pod of treasures dive, never to return?
-- Kim Stafford


It was all somehow accounted for
in the ledgers of those who served

the kings and commissars of an orderly
distribution and control

that everything was theirs, even the crushed
knuckles of the stones, even the stiff

facsimiles of our brethren who had vanished
before us into that green flash

above the sundown sea. The whales, the dodo,
the great apes, all irrelevant as beauty, disappeared

like beauty, leaving only their names scratched
next to our own in the halls of unopening books.

We might have prayed for God
to come, or Noah, and deliver us

two by two again, drowning our terrible machines.
Now the oceans rise to take us

all. The stars go out. The angels, weary of extinctions,
Shake their heads. But what were we to do, force

the powerful to change?
-- Christopher Howell


In the mountain's
white expanse

beyond the tree line,
we learned

Buddhist holy men
come again as Orca

whales. The greater their
mastery, the further

back in time. 
-- James Bertolino 

We Could Have Saved the Orcas

We could have saved the orcas
but we were so in love with plastic:
straws, beer can holders, and parts for everything,
just so convenient, except when it’s time
to be rid of it, just toss it in the ocean,
out of sight, out of mind, and if you need it,
you can sail out to the place in the Pacific
with the floating trash pile, I’m sure
it will be in there somewhere.

We could have saved the orcas
but we work so hard, we deserve
a little fun now and then, so let’s fly
to Cabo or Machu Picchu, or at least
let’s drive to the Grand Canyon,
buy a giant motorhome and save
a ton on motels and meals,
seven miles to the gallon.

We could have saved the orcas
but they eat those Chinook salmon
that taste so good with a little lemon,
so delicious with some corn-on-the-cob
and a nice arugula salad, tofu-dill dressing,
or fresh off the grill, and how much fun
it is to go out on the boat and fish,
pulling in those big ones to gut
and stick in the freezer.

We could have saved the orcas . . .
-- David M. Laws

Self-portrait as Southern Resident Orca

For everybody I’m speechless Damn it I gotta go get my camera!
For this must be the happiest pod.
For you can hear them saying there she goes again. Big one! Wow!
For you can hear them clapping, laughing.

For I am made of the research proving there is no difference
in the lifespan of an orca born at SeaWorld
and an orca born in the wild.

For behind me 700,000 years of genetic distinction.
For behind me 700,000 years of a distinct dialect evolving.

For I was misnamed whale killer by Spanish explorers.
For I am a dolphin.

For each year I ingest some of the seven million quarts of motor oil
that washes into the Salish Sea. 

For PCBs were banned in 1979, but each day I push
through 1.5 billion pounds of them.

For in my fat stores I carry your legacy of coal mining,
electrical appliance dependence, your attempts at insect eradication.

For because of you I brush up against carcinogenic furans.

For I am a mother carrying her dead newborn.

For I have been carrying her for days.

For thanks to my contaminated milk, she is even more toxic than I.

For you might call this behavior a tour of grief, but I’ve been driving her to the surface so she can take a breath.

For my solitude grows scarce.

For the noise of passing ships interferes
with my clicks, my whistles, my pulses.
With finding salmon—species, speed, size.

For the sea and I are both wide.

For the water I glide through is poisoned with 

viscosity index improvers;
for the lapping is laced with alkaline additives and sealants;
for if you read more closely, you will learn PCBs were not banned
but permitted in lower concentrations.

For I can certainly experience intense emotion.

For Monsanto’s CEO makes 19 million a year
but the Chemical Action Plan lacks funding.

For there is no government strong enough to save me.

For behold my spyhopping!

For who can resist my one-syllabled, Darth Vader-like exhale? 

For Google biomagnification.

For the rainbowed road is my demise.

For the highway’s yellow line, I die.

For I am corralled not by my mistakes but yours.

For the doors of my duration are closing.

-- Martha Silano

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Free Showing of The Reluctant Radical on May 1, 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., G101, San Diego Mesa College

Click for film trailer.
"They told him he was crazy, but crazy is sitting idly by as disaster for young people is knowingly locked in." -- Dr. James Hansen, Climate Scientist

"The Reluctant Radical is the most striking environmental documentary I've seen to date- and I have seen plenty. It is an absolute must-see." -- D. Schwartz, The Marin Post

Update from producer/director Lindsey Grayzel: 

WA Appeal Court Sides With Ken

Yesterday [4/8/19], the Washington Court of Appeals issued a decision to reverse and remand the felony conviction of Ken Ward, sending his case back to the lower courts for a third trial. The Court of Appeals found that Ken was denied his constitutional rights when the judge in the lower court prevented him from using a necessity defense. A necessity defense would have enabled expert witnesses in climate science, politics and history to testify in trial about the known scientific facts of climate change and the ineffectiveness of legal alternatives to adequately address the threat. Ken Ward is the main character of The Reluctant Radical, and one of the five valve turners who took direct action to manually shut down the flow of all US tar sands oil pipelines on October 16, 2016.

The Court of Appeals found that Ken had legal standing to use the necessity defense based on several factors, including that he "offered sufficient evidence to show that the harms of global climate change were greater than the harm of breaking into Kinder Morgan’s property." (Ya think?) The full document from the Court of Appeals can be found via the button below and is highly recommended reading. 
Read the Court Document

Now What?

The State of Washington has 30 days to appeal the decision to the Washington Supreme Court. It has 20 days to file a motion with the Court of Appeals to reconsider. If no appeal is filed, the State may refile the charges, sending Ken back to Skagit County for a third trial, this time having the ability to present a necessity defense.  
Masada Disenhouse, Executive Director of SanDiego350, will attend the Mesa College event to help answer climate questions.  I wrote about Ken Ward and the other Valve Turners for San Diego Free Press.

Regarding climate, Dave Borlace has a great YouTube ranking countries levels of action. I also like his video Blue Ocean Event : Game Over?

I appreciate San Diego Reader's promotion of the Mesa College event, and my books and classes. I'm also grateful to Amsterdam Quarterly for a new review of Carbonfish Blues. The battle with oil companies continues for people, like Ward, of conscience and action. Oregon poet William Stafford wrote "This earth we are riding keeps trying to tell us / something with its continuous scripture of leaves."

Since San Diego Union-Tribune did not publish my letter, I will post it here.  That is what's great about having a blog!  My letter was inspired by Thoreau's essay "Civil Disobedience," a good fit for the film event above.

We Need Leaders of Conscience, Not Fossil Fuel Company Puppets

Rep. Scott Peters is commended for saying at UCSD March 2, 2018, evangelicals must be invited to help respond to climate change; and I scold him for his weak "Climate Playbook" offered as alternative to Green New Deal. If Rockefeller Brothers Fund can divest from fossil fuels ("98% fossil fuel free" "as of December 31, 2017") and invest 10 million dollars in Mainstream Renewable Power (wind and solar), Rep Peters can stop accepting campaign funds from fossil fuel companies now. Peters' definition of political realism is the same as planetary suicide. At the same UCSD March 2, 2018 panel Dr. Ramanathan praised Gandhi's nonviolent work in India, and Dr. Somerville reminded everyone of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and civil rights movement. We need leaders like them of conscience, not more fossil fuel company puppets.