Sunday, August 7, 2022

Building a Chinampa

"Five hundred years ago, the fortuitous combination of agroforestry and aquaculture was unbeatable."

This week I donned my tall boots and waded back into our constructed wetland to restore and rebuild the chinampas. Rob Wheeler, for more than 20 years the Global Ecovillage Network representative to the UN Headquarters in New York, brought along loppers, a machete, and a portable saber saw to assist me. During my nearly three years of pandemic absence, the wetlands had taken on a life of their own and become a swampy thicket of fallen branches, bent-over bamboo, and nettles. One could be forgiven for not seeing beneath all that to what it will eventually become — the most productive food system, on a calorie per square foot basis, ever devised by humans.

A chinampa is defined by the Encyclopedia Britannica as a “small, stationary, artificial island built on a freshwater lake for agricultural purposes.” The word was originally from the Nahuatl word chinamitl, “woven fence or hedge,” made from the native willow, Salix bonplandiana. At the time Hernán Cortés arrived at the Halls of Moctezuma, the word was synonymous with a southern region in the Valley of México centered on Xochimilco.

Traditional chinampas are biodiverse; they can be kept in almost continuous cultivation, their soils are renewable, and they create a microenvironment that protects crops….

— Roland Ebel, in Hort Technology

The Conquistadors could not fathom the island city of Tenochtitlan when, on November, 8, 1519, they crossed the Ixtapalapa causeway over Lake Texcoco and beheld the spectacle of its glimmering central pyramid, broad white boulevards, and flowered verges. It was the most beautiful city any of them had ever beheld. Cortés and his men marched across the causeway until they were met by the Aztec Emperor, Moctezuma II, who greeted them, descending his royal litter to offer gifts. Moctezuma was immediately taken prisoner and ransomed for gold and silver. Once the ransom was paid, he was executed.

 

Gary Todd, Painting of Tenochtitlan-Tlatelolco on Lake Texcoco (9755215791)

Six months later the Aztecs rose up and threw out Cortés, but it was too late. While the Spanish army spent 1520 exiled to Tlaxcala, General Smallpox ravaged and decimated the city, reducing its mighty army to bleeding pustules. Cortés returned in 1521 and razed what remained. He wanted no one in Europe to see what he had seen, so he took down the pyramid and turned around the stones in walls and boulevards to rough sides out. He ordered construction of Catholic churches on the pyramid mounds. He burned the codices, executed the royal heirs, and attempted to erase all traces of the old order. Tenochtitlan was renamed “México.” Franciscan friar Toribio de Benavente Motolinia described the reconstruction:

The seventh plague was the construction of the great City of México, which, during the early years used more people than in the construction of Jerusalem. The crowds of laborers were so numerous that one could hardly move in the streets and causeways, although they are very wide. Many died from being crushed by beams, or falling from high places, or in tearing down old buildings for new ones.

Among the engineering wonders deconstructed by the slave gangs were the vast systems of chinampas that were how a dense metropolitan population of more than 100,000 was sustained in the dry central valley of México. These earthworks consisted of alternating narrow islands and canals, initially formed by willow fences and composted fill from the kitchen wastes, lake mud, rubbish and sewage of the lakeside villages, planted with fruit and nut trees to line and hold the banks and gardens of corn, beans, and vegetables. Freshwater fish were trapped by fences in the canals where they ate mosquito larvae and grew fat on falling fruit until they could be netted and brought to market.


An Engineering Wonder

A 2014 study of the chinampas in the 70-square-mile Lake Chalco-Xochimilco found they were built between the mid-15th and early 16th centuries at the peak of the Aztec Triple Alliance. In a ten-square mile study area, 23,094 relic beds and 400 mounds were digitized for mapping. The long, narrow beds averaged 3.75 meters wide and had an average length of 49.4 meters, with a land-to-water ratio of 1.07:1. In addition, there were many small lakeside homes and villages, large wharves comprised of multiple mounds and platforms, open pools, and wide canals.

According to the researchers, chinampas allowed frost and flood protection, nutrient recovery, and irrigation by splash or scoop techniques from canoe-bound farmers during droughts (the standard tool was a lacrosse-stick-like ladle called a zoquimatl). Normal capillarity flows from the lake through the island eliminated the need for irrigation in normal dry cycles. Large amounts of algae (known as tecuitlatl) were collected from the surface of the Lake and used to make high-protein bread and cheese-type foods. This alga is still grown in México for fertilizer.

These village-wharves probably formed the economic and social hub for the lakeside tenant farmers who were comprised of free peasants (macehualtin), serfs (mayeque), and slaves (tlacotin). Aztec chinampas built through land reclamation existed outside the traditional corporate land holding capolli system and tenant farmers obtained rights of cultivation in return for approximately 50% of their agricultural production in rent payment to land grantees residing in Tenochtitlan.

After the consumption needs (dietary and non-dietary) of some 30,000 lakeside resident farmers, boatmen and fisher families were met, an annual 10,000-ton maize-equivalent agricultural surplus reached the storehouses and markets of Tlatelolco-Tenochtitlan and would have been enough to feed 50,000 persons for a year. Considering this study area was perhaps only ten percent of the full chinampas complex of the watershed, it is reasonable to project an annual surplus of 50- to 100,000 tons of high-calorie foods — roughly 2 to 4 shipments per year the size of the recent Odesa-to-Istanbul grain lift from Ukraine.

The fortuitous combination of agroforestry and aquaculture was unbeatable, but when the conquest killed off the engineers who maintained lake levels, the chinampas and low-lying cornfields sank below the marshy lake surface. Floods carrying human waste spread endemic diseases. The mosquito population grew and brought more diseases.

The Spanish Viceroy ordered drainage engineering in the style of the Old World. He infilled the lake, wiping out fish, birds and the lakeside villages that had grown the food for the city. And yet, the city flourished as a trade center based upon slavery and silver, such that when it was visited by Alexander Von Humboldt in 1803, it was called the “City of Palaces.”

By then, what is today’s largest city in North America had lost the ability to sustain its own population. It had lost its orchards, cornfields, lake fish, and the natural advantage of the indigenous wisdom that had created the miraculously productive chinampas.

The islands were exposed for a short period in the mid-20th century after lake drainage was completed and before Green Revolution machinery obliterated the garden mounds. In the Xochimilco region, the chinampa area under cultivation decreased by more than 60 percent after World War II. Nevertheless, those that remain maintain their highly productive yields on relatively low inputs. Today they mainly grow flowers for the Zocalo market in Mexico City and take tourists on gondola rides. Most city planners assume that the Xochimilco water gardens will be entirely converted into gated residential communities (colonias) by 2057.

 

Peter M. Wilson/Alamy


Today the loss of the chinampas has worsened forest degradation, erosion, floods, land sinking, pollution of soil and water, water retention and infiltration, and biodiversity. Farmers now must cope with increasing pest populations and the stench of fetid waters in the remaining lakes. Were México to seize the opportunity to restore the chinampas to provide food and water to its largest metropolis, chinampa soils would sequester large quantities of carbon.

However, due to their humidity and high organic matter, the greater microbial activity would also favor greenhouse gas emissions. A study performed in Xochimilco indicated that emissions of carbon dioxide were generally low, but that nitrous oxide and methane were high, and made worse by frequent irrigation. Of course, Mesoamerican peoples controlled for that by the addition of GHG-scavaging biochar.

It is unlikely carbon sequestration will tempt the current president, the son of an oilfield worker and a climate change denier, but beyond Mexico, regions that could benefit from broad-scale chinampas include the Mississippi River Delta, the Hudson River Delta, extensive parts of Florida, the Great Lakes Region in the United States and Canada, the Pantanal region (Brazil, Bolivia, and Paraguay), the eastern and western Congolese swamp forests, the African Great Lakes region, eastern South Africa, Shanghai and the Yellow River Delta in China, the Kutch District and parts of the state of Kerela in India, the Padma River Delta and (almost all) southern Bangladesh and neighboring India, the Yangon Metropolitan area in Myanmar, extensive parts of Sumatra (Indonesia), the Mindanao River in the Philippines, the Rhone River Delta in France, Hamburg in Germany, the Mersey Delta in England, the Gulf of Finland (Finland, Estonia, Russia), and the Darwin Area and Western District Lakes near Melbourne in Australia.

As Rob and I thinned the overgrown thickets of bamboo, we lay our cut canes and nettles atop the islands and reestablish the free-flowing canals through the 11,000 sq ft alternating lagoon and reed-bed system. We will need to build more topsoil before we can think about food crops on the islands, but for now, the water will again circulate around them, infiltrating new soils at the root zone, nourishing future plants in times of drought, and protecting the site from flooding in times of torrential rain. They will also form a wet barrier in the path of any forest fires moving upslope towards our buildings.

Turtles, hummingbirds, and dragonflies watch and marvel as we labor. This is a system of food production that is preparing itself for climate change.

In several reports to the King of Spain written in the year 1520, Cortés acknowledged the grandeur of the Aztec capital, “as large as Seville or Cordoba” but incorrectly gave the city’s name as Temixtitlan instead of Tenochtitlan. It is possible that once established in his palace in Coyacan he was served a chinampas meal fit for royalty — cornmeal crusted fish, candied pumpkin, sweet corn with nopal cactus, and the thin corn flatbread that the Aztec called tlaxcalli which the Spanish mispronounced “tortillas.” The recipe might have gone something like this:

Chinampas Fish Fillets with Calabaza En Tacha

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 2 (6-ounce) tilapia fillets
  • 1 nopal cactus
  • 1 small (2 lb) pumpkin squash
  • 1 c kerneled sweet corn
  • 2 limes
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 chili pepper
  • ⅓ c yellow cornmeal
  • 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • ½ c masa harina, (not cornmeal)
  • 1½ c water
  • 1 c grated piloncillo, or brown sugar
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp cacao powder
  • 2 Tbsp maguey agave syrup
  • ¼ tsp dried oregano
  • ¼ tsp dried yerba santa
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 small, handmade corn tortillas

Preparation

Calabaza En Tacha

  • Quarter pumpkin and remove seeds
  • Wash, drain and reserve the seeds
  • In a medium saucepan simmer 1 c water, 1/2 c piloncillo, and the juice of one lime until the piloncillo is dissolved
  • Add the pumpkin quarters and bring the mixture to a boil
  • Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for a half-hour
  • Remove the lid and simmer for an additional half-hour, until the pumpkin is tender and the sauce reduced to a glaze
  • Remove squash and drain
  • Blend cacao powder, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and maguey agave syrup and garnish squash quarters
  • Sprinkle evenly with ¼ tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper
  • Place quarters in a shallow pan in oven and bake for 20 minutes at 350°F

Âtôle Breading

  • In a medium saucepan combine masa harina, water, milk, piloncillo (or brown sugar), and 1/2 tsp cinnamon. Whisk the mixture and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, whisking often.
  • Reduce the heat gradually for 5–10 minutes, whisking often, until your desired consistency is reached.
  • Remove the ātōle from the heat and combine ⅓ c yellow cornmeal.
  • Bread the fish fillets

Fried Fish

While the squash is simmering:

  • Scrape spines and hairs from nopal cactus
  • Julienne nopal, chili, onion and tomato

When the squash is baking:

  • Toast tortillas on hot comal, remove and keep them warm in linen
  • Toast squash seeds on comal
  • Blend vegetable ingredients with squash seeds and kernelled corn on comal at medium heat
  • Grind or pulverize oregano and yerba santa to fine flakes and sprinkle atop comal mixture
  • When corn mixture begins to brown, gently lay fillets on comal and raise the heat
  • After 2 minutes turn the fillets and smother them in roasted corn nopal mixture
  • Cook another 2 minutes or until fillets flake easily

Serve

  • Remove squash from oven and fish with corn-nopal covering from comal and plate
  • Quarter the lime and place two slices on each of the serving plates
  • Place warm tortillas in linen in basket at table
  • Serve with the beverage of your choice

Note: All of these ingredients would have been used by the residents of Tenochtitlan before 1520. Although oils of avocado, coconut and other plants would have been available to them, they did not use these for frying. They did not have iron skillets and instead used the comal.


 


Towns, villages and cities in the Ukraine are being bombed every day. As refugees pour out into the countryside, ​they must rest by day so they can travel by night. Ecovillages and permaculture farms have organized something like an underground railroad to shelter families fleeing the cities, either on a long-term basis or temporarily, as people wait for the best moments to cross the border to a safer place, or to return to their homes if that becomes possible. So far there are 62 sites in Ukraine and 265 around the region. They are calling their project “The Green Road.”

The Green Road also wants to address the ongoing food crisis at the local level by helping people grow their own food, and they are raising money to acquire farm machinery, seed, and to erect greenhouses. The opportunity, however, is larger than that. The majority of the migrants are children. This will be the first experience in ecovillage living for most. They will directly experience its wonders, skills, and safety. They may never want to go back. Those that do will carry the seeds within them of the better world they glimpsed through the eyes of a child.

Those wishing to make a tax-deductible gift can do so through Global Village Institute by going to http://PayPal.me/greenroad2022 or by directing donations to greenroad@thefarm.org.

There is more info on the Global Village Institute website at https://www.gvix.org/greenroad


The COVID-19 pandemic has destroyed lives, livelihoods, and economies. But it has not slowed down climate change, which presents an existential threat to all life, humans included. The warnings could not be stronger: temperatures and fires are breaking records, greenhouse gas levels keep climbing, sea level is rising, and natural disasters are upsizing.

As the world confronts the pandemic and emerges into recovery, there is growing recognition that the recovery must be a pathway to a new carbon economy, one that goes beyond zero emissions and runs the industrial carbon cycle backwards — taking CO2 from the atmosphere and ocean, turning it into coal and oil, and burying it in the ground. The triple bottom line of this new economy is antifragility, regeneration, and resilience.

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“There are the good tipping points, the tipping points in public consciousness when it comes to addressing this crisis, and I think we are very close to that.”

— Climate Scientist Michael Mann, January 13, 2021.

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Sunday, July 31, 2022

Conspiracy or Serendipity: Covid in an Age of Ignorance

"Between the ice ages there were bottlenecks when there were only 2,000 people left. It’s happening again."

“Let’s say we get 75 percent, 80 percent of the population vaccinated,” Fauci said. “If we do that, if we do it efficiently enough over the second quarter of 2021, by the time we get to the end of the summer, i.e., the third quarter, we may actually have enough herd immunity protecting our society that as we get to the end of 2021, we can approach very much some degree of normality that is close to where we were before.”

— Harvard Gazette, December 10, 2020

“The concept of classical herd immunity may not apply to Covid-19,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in an interview with CNN. And that “means we’re not going to be without SARS-CoV-2 in the population for a considerable period of time,” said Fauci, who recently co-authored a paper on herd immunity for the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

— CNN Health, April 15, 2022


 We are now 872 days from the day WHO declared SARS-CoV-2 to be a pandemic. We can look back in search of some lessons learned over those days, months and years, but first, as should be evident from the two Fauci quotes above, we need to acknowledge we are all still learning. Let’s examine a few fascinating tidbits learned in just the past few months.

Sad Facts

  • A comprehensive study concluded the CoV-2 strain that started the pandemic originated in a “wet” market selling wild animals, the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, and not in a Chinese virus laboratory.
  • The coronavirus is likely to reduce GDP by $7.9 trillion, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Nominal GDP is expected to be $15.7 trillion.
  • The illness produced by the Omicron variants is not “mild.” It is no less severe than that of earlier variants such as Delta. There has been no diminution in the strength of Covid over time. Dr. Eric Topol, the director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, called BA.5 “the worst version of the virus that we’ve seen.” The R(0) of BA.5 is 10 to 12, compared to the original strain with an R(0) of 1.2 to 1.4. R(0) signifies how many persons each infected person will infect, on average.
  • The notion popularized in the mass media of “breakthrough” infections was based on the fallacy of thinking that vaccines prevent infection. Vaccines do not prevent infection, or re-infection, although some (measles, smallpox, diptheria, oral polio vaccine) kill the virus on contact. Others, by targeting how a virus enters cells and replicates, merely reduce an infected person’s viral load enough to dampen the effects of the disease. As for Covid vaccines or acquired immunity, unvaccinated persons infected with the pre-variant SARS-CoV-2, Delta or Omicron BA.1 shed marginally less viral load than vaccinated persons but for Omicron BA.1 reduced shedding only applies if the persons have also been boosted. No conclusions can yet be drawn as to viral load reductions in Omicron BA.1.1., BA.2, BA.3, BA.4, BA.5, or BA.2.7.5, which await further study.
  • The combination of vaccination plus natural immunity acquired by having had Covid does not confer any more immunization than either vaccination or natural immunity.
  • Reinfection after as little as 4 weeks is possible with any of the Omicron variants.
  • The most recent variants are more transmissible than the earlier ones. A recent study out of Columbia University found that the recent BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants were at least four times as resistant to protection against the virus compared with previous variants in the Omicron lineage.
  • People who contracted Covid-19 were 72% more likely to suffer from coronary artery disease, 63% more likely to have a heart attack, and 52% more likely to experience a stroke. Overall, those infected with the virus were 55% more likely than those without Covid-19 to suffer a major adverse cardiovascular event, which includes heart attack, stroke and death. Covid-19 infections have, thus far, contributed to 15 million new cases of heart disease worldwide.
  • Pregnant women contracting Covid in the third trimester have 3 to 7 times increased risk of premature delivery.
  • Babies born to women who caught Covid-19 while pregnant had a 6 percent chance of a developmental delay by 1 year of age.
  • A study in Pediatrics of 40,000 children hospitalized with acute Covid found 27% had persistent symptoms or activity impairment after 2 months.
  • Approximately one-quarter of mild-Covid-19 individuals experience a neuroinflammatory burden, seen by changes in molecular and structural brain imaging, correlated with cognitive deficit. This deficit is already being observed in a large and growing fraction of the world population.
  • Covid-19 shrinks the brain grey matter by 2%. Infected participants in a UK study showed cognitive decline even after excluding subjects in the study group who had been hospitalized. It found shrinkage and tissue damage primarily in brain areas related to the sense of smell.
  • COVID-19 has been associated with a threefold increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and a doubling of risk of Parkinson’s disease.
  • Long Covid affected 31% of health care workers with SARS-CoV-2 infections not requiring hospitalization. Vaccination status did not predict the presence or absence of a long Covid outcome.
  • Compared to the first infection you are twice as likely to die if reinfected. Chances of hospitalization are 3x. Pulmonary issues 2.5x, Cardio issues 2.4x. Neurological issues, fatigue, kidney, etc. are all of elevated risk with each infection.

Last week I posted:

By hoarding vaccines for the first year and then failing to mask, distance and contact trace consistently, the world created every virus’s Xanadu. Countries could have chosen a zero-tolerance stance like China, or a border quarantine like New Zealand. Instead, in an optimal incubator environment — 8 billion human hosts and billions more potential animal hosts like horses, cows, dogs, cats, mice, and bats — SARS-CoV-2 was allowed — even encouraged — to reach a heightened stage of contagion rarely attained in history. Now one variant finds itself infecting a host, or a cell, already infected by another variant, and able to expose its RNA codes to a smorgasbord of nucleotide transcription possibilities. From this felicitous interaction cascade nucleic acid variations upon variations, not just novel coronaviruses or coronavirus variants but variants within strains of variant — Omicron B.1.1.529, BA.1, BA.1.1., BA.2, BA.3, BA.4, BA.5, BA.2.7.5. Some new variants find they achieve selection advantage and better propagation if they are more transmissible or evade immunization conferred by previous strains or by vaccines. We are now in a cycle of generating more variants that are generating more variants in a target-rich environment, be it humans or their pets. Any talk of “herd immunity” or a “universal vaccine” is just science fantasy — wishful thinking. This is how a wildfire escapes containment — by slow responders who fail to assess the danger and act.

Frankly, it bothers me when public health authorities and others say, “Well Covid is endemic now,” so “sooner or later everyone will get it.” I do not think those statements are logical or warranted by the facts. I always ask myself whether the speaker is someone who has had Covid themselves and is trying to rationalize their carelessness or bad luck. There are, moreover, more nefarious forces at work.

Vaccine Apartheid

“In the end, taxpayers paid for about 99% of the development of the NIH/Moderna vaccine and paid Moderna about 10 billion dollars in public money to bring that vaccine across the line… (it’s) really been a public project through and through, even though we are privatizing the profits and not retaining for the public nearly enough say in how those vaccines are ultimately used and shared within the world to stamp out the pandemic.”

— Peter Maybarduk of Public Citizen’s Access to Medicines Program

In case anyone has forgotten, federal scientists at NIH collaborated with Moderna and six other vaccine candidate developers to create what became Operation Warp Speed. US taxpayers paid for about 99 percent of the development of the Moderna vaccine — about 10 billion dollars in public money — to get that vaccine approved and into manufacture and distribution by the Department of Defense. Another 8 billion went into other parts of the program.

Today Moderna has about 35 billion dollars in supply deals lined up through the end of 2022. Pfizer, the second beneficiary of Operation Warp Speed, will earn a similar amount. That global market is only just starting for them, as they are working on new vaccines and booster shots that target more variants. They have a huge incentive to only gradually redress the Apartheid system. The costs of development and deployment were socialized but the profits were privatized. The US government did not reserve patents or retain any say in how the Warp Speed vaccines were ultimately to be used or shared with the world in order to stamp out the pandemic, or what price the companies could charge per dose. Indeed, Donald Trump specifically called, in May 2020, for the manufacture of 300 million doses of vaccine — the size of the US population.

Moderna charged the United States and other countries from 20 to 30 dollars per dose. The US currently gives the shots to all citizens for free although that will be ending because the Manchin Senate blocked the Build Back Better Bill which would have continued underwriting free vaccination programs. In a country like Botswana where Pfizer and Moderna shots were sold to the public health agencies for $29 per shot and local governments may mark that up to pay nurses and doctors and/or pad bank accounts of government procurement officials, most people cannot afford to get the vaccine and it is no accident that Botswana was where Omicron originated.

Now one variant finds itself infecting a host, or a cell, already infected by another variant, and able to expose its RNA codes to a smorgasbord of nucleotide transcription possibilities. From this felicitous interaction cascade nucleic acid variations upon variations, not just novel coronaviruses or coronavirus variants but variants within strains of variant.

It is also no accident that Pfizer has seen its revenues quadruple. When you think about the fact that the public paid for the vaccine development in the first place and has been subsidizing distribution with the Army Medical Corps, anything over the cost of manufacturing is essentially a gift to Big Pharma.

The US government is, like, searching the couch cushions for money to pay for its continuing pandemic response [but] diverting five billion dollars from other pandemic response activities in order to pay Pfizer for its Covid treatment drugs … it comes at a cost of our government’s ability to provide other services.

Ralph Nader

Six Million Dead

We are still in the middle of a pandemic that has cost 6.4 million people their lives (1.4 million USAnians), afflicted 578 million, and the response is being dictated by corporations who claim patent rights for exclusive manufacturing and wholesale distribution.

Vaccine apartheid is entirely an artificial problem. Nations like the US have legislative powers to insist that corporations share their vaccine recipes and technologies with the world or to launch a continuing Warp Speed program to ensure preparedness in future pandemics. We could diversify supply. We could train more manufacturers to produce. We could avert shortages in the future, not only of vaccines but of masks, ventilators, and critical care facilities. We are doing none of that. Instead, we are declaring a truce. Endemicity. Response over.

Oxford AstraZeneca was expected to be the vaccine that powered the global response through the WHO COVAX program, but it was made in India, and when India had its Delta wave, there was a perceived need to keep more doses for itself.

Moderna and Pfizer only selling to high-income clientele left many countries nowhere to go other than Cuba, China or Russia. That was what I experienced in Mexico and doubtless many others in similar situations in other 2/3-World countries experienced the same. We watched helplessly for months as USAnians lined up to get their shots. Finally, we were offered either Sputnik V or Sinovac. Sputnik was the world’s first vaccine against coronavirus and Russia provided it for free to the 70 countries where it was approved. We now know Sputnik V, an adenoviral vector vaccine, is 2.6 times more effective than Pfizer against the new Omicron variants.

In my rural town, we had to leave the safety of our homes and travel an hour by crowded bus to reach a city large enough to warrant an airlift of Sinovac, for one age group, for one day each month. So we stood outdoors in long lines. The same was seen all across Latin America. Meanwhile, back in the USA, millions of withheld doses expired for lack of interest and were simply discarded.

The Affluenza Epidemic

There were two levels of vaccine apartheid. One was just absolute scarcity — rich countries were getting vaccines and poor countries were not. The other was that rich countries were getting the best vaccines and giving shit vaccines to poor people globally. Either way, Pfizer and Moderna were raking in billions.

After two-plus years of erupting into distinguishable peaks, the American coronavirus-case curve has a new topography now: a long, never-ending plateau. Waves are coming so frequently that they’re colliding.

We’ve known from the start — I published it in Plagued: Surviving a Modern Pandemic (2020) — that vaccination of any type provides no immunity from infection. Moreover, it does not immunize against greed. Much of the world still cannot get or afford vaccines. In China, the poor versatility of Sinovac is coming home with the spread of the Omicron waves. In contrast, Sputnik V has proven itself extraordinarily effective but is not available in NATO countries, and not because Russian manufacturers are unwilling to share.

David Brooks, writing a July 21 opinion for The New York Times, “I Was Wrong About Capitalism” said:

By the time I came to this job, in 2003, I was having qualms about the free-market education I’d received — but not fast enough. It took me a while to see that the postindustrial capitalism machine — while innovative, dynamic and wonderful in many respects — had some fundamental flaws. The most educated Americans were amassing more and more wealth, dominating the best living areas, pouring advantages into their kids. A highly unequal caste system was forming.
***
I saw but didn’t see. By the time the financial crisis hit, the flaws in modern capitalism were blindingly obvious, but my mental frames still didn’t shift fast enough.

Vaccine apartheid may have been intentional or it may have been just damn good luck for Big Pharma but what is bad for humanity could be the best thing that has happened to the planet in 200,000 years. It adds to the converging vectors auguring near-term human extinction. Not from zoonotic viruses so much — that is just the weapon of choice this time — more from our innate greed and avarice as a species.

This week James Lovelock passed at the age of 103. The co-originator of the Gaia Hypothesis went against prevailing convention to predict:

“[T]he cull during this century is going to be huge, up to 90 percent. The number of people remaining at the end of the century will probably be a billion or less. It has happened before. Between the ice ages there were bottlenecks when there were only 2,000 people left. It’s happening again.”

Gaia is running a fever and the present pandemic is only one of the many symptoms. Either you are part of the viral attack or you are an antibody. You decide.

__________________

 


Towns, villages and cities in the Ukraine are being bombed every day. As refugees pour out into the countryside, ​they must rest by day so they can travel by night. Ecovillages and permaculture farms have organized something like an underground railroad to shelter families fleeing the cities, either on a long-term basis or temporarily, as people wait for the best moments to cross the border to a safer place, or to return to their homes if that becomes possible. So far there are 62 sites in Ukraine and 265 around the region. They are calling their project “The Green Road.”

The Green Road also wants to address the ongoing food crisis at the local level by helping people grow their own food, and they are raising money to acquire farm machinery, seed, and to erect greenhouses. The opportunity, however, is larger than that. The majority of the migrants are children. This will be the first experience in ecovillage living for most. They will directly experience its wonders, skills, and safety. They may never want to go back. Those that do will carry the seeds within them of the better world they glimpsed through the eyes of a child.

Those wishing to make a tax-deductible gift can do so through Global Village Institute by going to http://PayPal.me/greenroad2022 or by directing donations to greenroad@thefarm.org.

There is more info on the Global Village Institute website at https://www.gvix.org/greenroad

 _________________


The COVID-19 pandemic
has destroyed lives, livelihoods, and economies. But it has not slowed down climate change, which presents an existential threat to all life, humans included. The warnings could not be stronger: temperatures and fires are breaking records, greenhouse gas levels keep climbing, sea level is rising, and natural disasters are upsizing.

As the world confronts the pandemic and emerges into recovery, there is growing recognition that the recovery must be a pathway to a new carbon economy, one that goes beyond zero emissions and runs the industrial carbon cycle backwards — taking CO2 from the atmosphere and ocean, turning it into coal and oil, and burying it in the ground. The triple bottom line of this new economy is antifragility, regeneration, and resilience.

Help me get my blog posted every week. All Patreon donations and Blogger or Substack subscriptions are needed and welcomed. You are how we make this happen. Your contributions are being made to Global Village Institute, a tax-deductible 501(c)(3) charity. PowerUp! donors on Patreon get an autographed book off each first press run. Please help if you can.

#RestorationGeneration #ReGeneration

“There are the good tipping points, the tipping points in public consciousness when it comes to addressing this crisis, and I think we are very close to that.”

— Climate Scientist Michael Mann, January 13, 2021.

Want to help make a difference while you shop in the Amazon app, at no extra cost to you? Simply follow the instructions below to select “Global Village Institute” as your charity and activate AmazonSmile in the app. They’ll donate a portion of your eligible purchases to us.

How it works:

1. Open the Amazon app on your phone
2. Select the main menu (=) & tap on “AmazonSmile” within Programs & Features
3. Select “Global Village Institute” as your charity
4. Follow the on-screen instructions to activate AmazonSmile in the mobile app

The Great Change is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Tempest Tossed Covid

"Covid, climate and war migrants have validated the “ecovillages-as-lifeboats” metaphor."


In one little body
Thou counterfeit'st a bark, a sea, a wind:
For still thy eyes, which I may call the sea,
Do ebb and flow with tears; the bark thy body is,
Sailing in this salt flood; the winds, thy sighs;
Who,--raging with thy tears and they with them,--
Without a sudden calm, will overset
Thy tempest-tossed body.

Romeo and Juliet, Act III Scene V

Though his bark cannot be lost, yet it can be tempest tossed.

Macbeth, Act I, Scene III

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me…

—Emma Lazarus

About 20 years ago the Australian futurist Ted Trainer wrote something to the effect that, “Ecovillages are perhaps the most important invention of the 20th Century.” Ross Jackson has said—most recently in his opening address at the International Communal Studies Association (ICSA) triennial meeting last Thursday—that it is because ecovillages are like lifeboats. That is how master planner George Ramsey, who coined the word “ecovillages,” envisioned them when the Club of Rome came out with their Limits to Growth study in 1972 that predicted we would reach several important limits in about 50 years. Well, 50 years is now. Ecovillages provide an alternative to the culture built on endless growth, depletion of non-renewable resources, military aggression, and social hierarchies. Ecovillages are accessible and friendly alternatives that actually work. Are they the most important invention of the past century?

We are seeing that lifeboat metaphor playing out now as ecovillages in Ukraine go from communities of fewer than 100 residents to several hundred families overnight. The same is being repeated across Europe as a collapse of energy and food systems raises anxieties about this coming winter. 

Findhorn is very proud of being energy self-sufficient, treating its own waste and producing much of its own food in northernmost Scotland. They are well positioned for the tempest ahead. In Sri Lanka, there are several thousand ecovillages in the Sarvodaya Shramadana movement that has been going on since the 1950s. Today they provide desperately needed lifeboats for a very large segment of that population.

I have personal issues with the lifeboat metaphor, however, because a lifeboat is not designed for long-term living. Its purpose is to get you from a sinking ship, tempest-tossed, to some safe harbor. Ecovillages are designed to be those safe harbors. They are not temporary but regenerative, like ecosystems. So, for instance, Findhorn has taken on the challenge of restoring the Caledonian forest. Solheimer is restoring Iceland at the rate of a million trees per decade.

Besides Scotland, Sri Lanka and Ukraine, some of the fastest growing ecovillage regions today are in Brazil, China and Russia. I would posit that one response of people to authoritarian government is to carve out their own independent, self-sovereign local domains.

In Europe, the ECOLISE network has joined communities of ecovillages, permaculture and transition together. Like a modern Library of Alexandria, they maintain an open source collection of databases on many of the subjects of greatest interest for our time. 

At the ICSA meeting last week, I was fascinated to listen to presentations by many scholars on the responses to intentional communities, ecovillages, Camphill, and co-housing to Covid restrictions. Rural communities tended to be the least affected by Covid, with 21% living life pretty much as normal. The majority made some changes to preserve their health, and the experience of Lasalle-Gardens Indigene Community in Montreal is typical:

Our 700 children play with each other unimpeded & go to public schools mostly unimpeded on school buses. Most of our 2000 working-age adults are holding meetings on Zoom within their particular fields of expertise. Small companies of trades, building, sciences, warehousing, cleaning, etc each have different situation-specific guidelines for COVID-19 hygiene. Our 500 elders are mostly self-isolating within their extended family networks. We have 20% of our 3200 population who live in intergenerational proximity within our neighborhood or 640 people = 215 apartments & townhouse dwellings. These extended family & friends form bubbles of known contacts, usually with masking. Some are getting vaccinations while others are not, depending upon the research each has arrived at.

There was a divide between pro-vax and anti-vax communities. For instance, Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia said:

There have been many points of tension throughout the process since we have had a population of about 65-70 adults this past year, which means many different ideas about risk tolerance. Because of our communal living situation, we have been generally more careful than one would be if they were living by themselves.

Atlantis, in the Andean Mountains of Colombia, said:

We are militantly on the side of the doctors, scientists and ordinary people everywhere who have fought against the outrageous scaremongering since the beginning. We believe in natural health and immunity through good living, organic vegetarian food, natural medicines, good treatment of our bodies (no smoking, drinking, drugs, meat, or pharmaceutical drugs). Grow our own food organically.

The Holy Smoke Tribe said:

Our policies about this fake pandemic were easily set. No one who has received the fake vaccine shots is allowed into our community and they are not allowed to visit unless it's been at least 6 weeks since they had the experimental drugs injected into their bodies. Masks and social distancing are NOT allowed in our community.

There were also splits within communities. So for instance, Innisfree Village in Crozet, Virginia reported:

There are several different views and opinions, some in favor of the vaccination and others who are not. We did not make the vaccination a requirement of our community members, and only a small handful of our community did not receive the vaccination when it came available to us. We also found it important not to alienate any of those individuals who decided not to get vaccinated but did choose to make a few guidelines specific to them in regards to taking vacations and quarantine/testing requirements upon re-entry into the community.

Sieben Linden in Beetzendorf Germany said:

Many of our members are skeptics concerning vaccination in general, and especially with Covid19 vaccines, mostly because they think these vaccines are not tested enough. Around 1/3 of the population will get a vaccine as soon as possible.

We had a week of so-called "intensive time", where we met and talked and tried to repair relations between several persons, with medium effect. Now that vaccines are available to the most vulnerable of us, and that we had some experience with Covid19 within our community, the discussions soften a bit.

Nubanusit Neighborhood & Farm in Peterborough, New Hampshire said:

It has been very difficult. We have just approved the 4th version of our Covid guidelines. We have had many meetings about the issues involved, some of which have been quite intense and emotional. Some members have been very determined to require that others adhere to their own standards. There have not been good boundaries about allowing people determination over their own choices. There has been significant social pressure to go along with rules that don't make sense to everyone.

Caballos de las Estrellas in Rodeo, New Mexico, said:

We do not censor our library or our Bulletin Boards. Diverse opinions and information are welcome. We consider well informed residents considering different views a huge plus.

WOW (Wild Old Women) in Seattle said:

We talk and laugh about it…among ourselves.

Most of the pro-vax communities drew the line at residents who were so militant as to refuse to mask around the more vulnerable or to even attend Zoom meetings. Those members were booted. Other members who chose to go unvaccinated or engage in risky behavior were tolerated but restricted from some group activities.

During Covid, the lifeboat metaphor broke down for most of these enclaves. Many closed their doors not only to potential new residents but to causal visitors. Those they let in were closely monitored and isolated. By contrast, climate and war migrants entering Europe from the Middle East and Ukraine have validated the lifeboat metaphor. They have for the most part been welcomed in, or even organized into lifeboat flotillas like the Green Road.

Through reckless public policy globally— “the pandemic is over, take off your mask, it is okay to go back to normal public life,” mirroring the same mistakes of previous pandemics—governments accelerated natural selection in a virus that relies upon copy errors during replication to confer an evolutionary advantage. It gains no advantage by becoming more lethal—lethality occurs after it has already fulfilled its biological mandate by replicating and shedding its offspring. It gains evolutionary advantage—selectivity— by becoming either more transmissible or by evading the immune response. 

By hoarding vaccines for the first year and then failing to mask, distance and contact trace consistently, the world created every virus’s Xanadu. Countries could have chosen a zero-tolerance stance like China, or a border quarantine like New Zealand. Instead, in an optimal incubator environment—8 billion human hosts and billions more potential animal hosts like horses, cows, dogs, cats, mice, and bats— SARS-CoV-2 was allowed—even encouraged—to reach a heightened stage of contagion rarely attained in history. Now one variant finds itself infecting a host, or a cell, already infected by another variant, and able to expose its RNA codes to a smorgasbord of nucleotide transcription possibilities. From this felicitous interaction cascade nucleic acid variations upon variations, not just novel coronaviruses or coronavirus variants but variants within strains of variant—Omicron B.1.1.529, BA.1, BA.1.1., BA.2, BA.3, BA.4, BA.5, BA.2.7.5. Some new variants find they achieve selection advantage and better propagation if they are more transmissible or evade immunization conferred by previous strains or by vaccines. We are now in a cycle of generating more variants that are generating more variants in a target-rich environment, be it humans or their pets. Any talk of “herd immunity” or a “universal vaccine” is just science fantasy—wishful thinking. This is how a wildfire escapes containment—by slow responders who fail to assess the danger and act until it is too late.

“It does not signify the end of the beginning or the beginning of the end, but that we have way too many people that are breeding variants around the globe.”

— John Ma, Varian Medical Systems

I anticipated we could eradicate the disease altogether and got that bit completely wrong. That's not happening in the foreseeable future. And then I anticipated we would reach a stage of sort of equilibrium of endemicity and so far that hasn't happened either. So, um, quite a few things I’ve got wrong there, and a lot of other people have got it wrong as well.

— John Campbell, RN

Ecovillages could be a population-scale remedy to this problem of viral spread. One of the respondents to the ICSA surveys, Twin Oaks, said:

More or less, our lives were 85% the same as before the pandemic, and 15% different, whereas for many people, their lives were 85% different and 15% the same as pre-pandemic.

By isolating themselves at village scale and avoiding outside infection, communities like Twin Oaks dampened the rate of mutagenesis, to the benefit of us all. That could show us a light at the end of the tunnel. Or maybe a lifeboat would be a better metaphor.

 



Towns, villages and cities in the Ukraine
are being bombed every day. As refugees pour out into the countryside, ​they must rest by day so they can travel by night. Ecovillages and permaculture farms have organized something like an underground railroad to shelter families fleeing the cities, either on a long-term basis or temporarily, as people wait for the best moments to cross the border to a safer place, or to return to their homes if that becomes possible. So far there are 62 sites in Ukraine and 265 around the region. They are calling their project “The Green Road.”

The Green Road also wants to address the ongoing food crisis at the local level by helping people grow their own food, and they are raising money to acquire farm machinery, seed, and to erect greenhouses. The opportunity, however, is larger than that. The majority of the migrants are children. This will be the first experience in ecovillage living for most. They will directly experience its wonders, skills, and safety. They may never want to go back. Those that do will carry the seeds within them of the better world they glimpsed through the eyes of a child.

Those wishing to make a tax-deductible gift can do so through Global Village Institute by going to http://PayPal.me/greenroad2022 or by directing donations to greenroad@thefarm.org.

There is more info on the Global Village Institute website at https://www.gvix.org/greenroad


The COVID-19 pandemic has destroyed lives, livelihoods, and economies. But it has not slowed down climate change, which presents an existential threat to all life, humans included. The warnings could not be stronger: temperatures and fires are breaking records, greenhouse gas levels keep climbing, sea level is rising, and natural disasters are upsizing.

As the world confronts the pandemic and emerges into recovery, there is growing recognition that the recovery must be a pathway to a new carbon economy, one that goes beyond zero emissions and runs the industrial carbon cycle backwards — taking CO2 from the atmosphere and ocean, turning it into coal and oil, and burying it in the ground. The triple bottom line of this new economy is antifragility, regeneration, and resilience.

Help me get my blog posted every week. All Patreon donations and Blogger or Substack subscriptions are needed and welcomed. You are how we make this happen. Your contributions are being made to Global Village Institute, a tax-deductible 501(c)(3) charity. PowerUp! donors on Patreon get an autographed book off each first press run. Please help if you can.

#RestorationGeneration #ReGeneration

“There are the good tipping points, the tipping points in public consciousness when it comes to addressing this crisis, and I think we are very close to that.”

— Climate Scientist Michael Mann, January 13, 2021.

Want to help make a difference while you shop in the Amazon app, at no extra cost to you? Simply follow the instructions below to select “Global Village Institute” as your charity and activate AmazonSmile in the app. They’ll donate a portion of your eligible purchases to us.

How it works:

1. Open the Amazon app on your phone 
2. Select the main menu (=) & tap on “AmazonSmile” within Programs & Features 
3. Select “Global Village Institute” as your charity 
4. Follow the on-screen instructions to activate AmazonSmile in the mobile app

The Great Change is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.

Sunday, July 17, 2022

The Strategic Inflation of Joe Biden

"The US per capita carbon footprint is 18 tons. It needs to drop to two."


The old saw runs, “When the US gets a cold, Europe gets the flu.” We could also add “…and the rest of the world gets Covid.” Why is that? Well, one reason is that sixty percent of all the money in the world is dollar-based. The dollar is a $25 trillion-dollar credit ledger, with about 6 percent of that tokenized in portraits of dead presidents and Masonic symbols.

It is expected that the Federal Reserve will be raising interest rates 100 basis points, to 3.5 to 4 percent, at their next meeting, hoping that people, and foreign governments, will be attracted to dollars. If you’re going to Europe, your purchasing power improved 20 percent over the past few months. As the dollar strengthens, those who borrow in dollars have to pay back in dollars, so more borrowers chase fewer dollars and inflation (decline of value) decreases. It works in theory.

The bond yield to maturity — what someone must pay to borrow — in Ukraine is now 50%, Argentina 43%, Tunisia 33%, El Salvador 30%. Countries that have maxed their credit and have to pay these higher rates on their junk bonds have trouble supporting critical infrastructure. That leads to fuel and food shortages, political unrest, outmigration, and the downward spiral already seen in Syria, Venezuela and elsewhere.

John Bolton told CNN this week that these splendid financial tools the US wields were used to engineer coups d’état during his tenure at NSA in 2018-19. The Fed’s goals are more modest. They need demand destruction at home. They know they can't affect supply-side inflation. They can't control whether the Chinese supply computer chips in time for US cars to roll off assembly lines. They can only destroy consumer demand for new cars. Their goal is to effectively slow inflation to under four percent, from nine percent. They know that means recession, as destroyed demand destroys employment and workers’ ability to make house and car payments. Layered over all of this are the lingering and resurgent effects of the continuously underestimated viral pandemic.

Meanwhile in Climate News

US citizens have the highest carbon dioxide footprints of anyone on Earth. The global average is four tons. To stay on an (extremely disruptive) 2-degree path—the best we can hope for now—humans, including USAnians, must chop their personal footprints to two tons. The US cannot ask Chinese, Indians, or Papua New Guineans to cut emissions (which from the climate legacy standpoint are minuscule compared to the US) unless USAnians lead by example. The US per capita carbon footprint is 18 tons.

To get to two tons, the average Chinese could be visualized as jumping out of a window on the first floor of the building. Maybe there will be some broken wrists and ankles there. The average USAnian has to jump from the 18th floor of the Trump Tower.

The Perfect Storm

Biden kicking the hornet’s nest in Ukraine made energy costs rise globally—gasoline prices briefly topped $6 in California, $9 in parts of Europe—and resultant inflation, now above 9 percent, is causing shocks across the entire consumer culture. This is painful, but it is precisely the rescue remedy Earth requires as we go cold turkey on our fossil addiction.

For this reason, inflation may waffle and plateau but the emerging recession is not temporary. We have to de-grow, whatever you call it. The proxy wars, too-big-to-jail bailouts of 2008 and the Covid relief packages of 2020 are not serviceable debts. The theft of the life savings of millions of Afghans and Russians is not enough to keep up with exponential energy debt and the need to de-fossilize.

After two-plus years of erupting into distinguishable peaks, the American coronavirus-case curve has a new topography: a long, never-ending plateau. Waves are now so frequent that they’re colliding and uplifting like tectonic plates, the valleys between them filling with virological rubble.

With cases quite high and still drastically undercounted, and hospitalizations lilting up, this lofty mesa is a disconcerting place to be. The subvariants keep coming. Immunity is solid against severe disease, but porous to infection and the resulting chaos. Some people are getting the virus for the first time, others for the second, third, or more, occasionally just weeks apart. And we could remain at this elevation for some time.

Katherine Wu, The Atlantic

Many more desperate bailouts lie ahead. The Covid pandemic, the same as other pandemics from the Black Plague to the Spanish Flu, comes in waves that roll in and break over years, decades, and centuries. What we are seeing now with Omicron variants should be letting us know that this pandemic is not over by a long shot, or even the latest booster. Being bored with the plague and relaxing precautions too early was a mistake in previous global pandemics, too. Viruses don’t follow polls. Financial collapses may, but only within a limited range of motion. The example of Sri Lanka’s current collapse is what happens when a financial fire escapes containment and rages beyond all possibility of control.

Getting Political

Amidst all this doom and gloom there are rays of light. For Biden, a frail hope should be that insanity and sedition have overtaken the opposition party and nobody should be crazy enough to vote for them. Polls tell a different story. The right-wing benefits most when people are afraid. Comfort and contentment underpin liberalism. Biden was supposed to be the comfort candidate. That is why Bernie got the ax. But people are discomforted glimpsing the Four Horsemen coming over a distant ridge. Fear-mongers like Trump or DeSantis or “centrist” candidates like Mitt Romney or Liz Cheney could draw in enough Black and Latino support to sweep all branches of government in 2024.

By then, the La Niña cycle in the Pacific may have shifted to El Niño, removing the dampening effect that is holding temperatures to the low 100s (~40C) in many countries. By 2024, blue water summers in the Arctic will have increased the depth of Rossby waves that will bring more thunder blizzards, mid-continental monsoons and scorching heat waves, and further slow the Atlantic current, accelerating ice melt in Antarctica and drying out Australia. As I write this, London, Amsterdam, Paris, Chengdu and Beijing are all bracing for scorching heat. If you are in one of those places and thinking of just turning up air conditioning, falling river levels in the Seine, Rhine, Rhone and Yellow Rivers may prevent coal deliveries and nuclear power output, meaning brownouts and blackouts during peak heat. At the same time, even bulldozers can’t keep up with all the snow in Argentina.

Follow the Money

The generally accepted wisdom is that US households can tolerate two percent inflation. When it gets higher, people cannot estimate what the premium is for investing, so they stop investing and you get stagnation and inflation at the same time—stagflation. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell knows that his job is to get to the two percent target rate and get the world back to business as usual. He cannot afford to allow elevated inflation over a long period of time. He desperately needs to keep it from spiraling out of control. As the dollar asserts its supremacy, however, other nations will reflexively want to hedge their bets.

As US anti-inflationary policy creates a giant amount of pain when it hits food and fuel, those least able to survive those effects will take the streets and demand change from their governments and point to that guy in the White House and want to know why he kicked the hornet’s nest. The buck stops there.

Biden’s Dilemma

Can Biden stop or even slow this? Not unless he has a time machine that can take him to the mid-20th century—say 1950—when these effects began to lock in. He might be able to avert Near Term Human Extinction even at this late date, but the politics of getting that done is not trending in his favor.

Just before summer recess 2023, The Supreme Court will most likely rule for the North Carolina General Assembly in a case that renders popular voting purposeless. That case, Moore v. Harper, reached the high court in 2021 but has been completely revamped for the Fall 2022 term following revelations surrounding the January 6 insurrection and the radical shifts of this past term. At issue in Moore is the Giuliani/Powell “Independent State Legislatures” theory that proposes state assemblymen have the final say in how federal elections are decided.

It is expected that a 5-4 majority will rule that should the (Republican-controlled) state legislatures vote to send slates of electors to the Electoral College that favor a candidate who did not win the popular vote, that is their prerogative. After November 2023, the fix will be in. The GOP will have a clear path to take back the White House in 2024.

After that, screw climate action. Based on the IPCC predictions, the expected temperature increase this century will be 2.8°C (50% chance) to 3.0°C (67% chance). I happen to think those are underestimates, but our present experience of heat waves, fires and floods derives from only a 1.1-degree change, so triple that and try to stretch your imagination of what that world will look like then. Removing two or three trillion tons of CO2 would possibly prevent this outcome but the more likely scenario is that carbon dioxide removal will arrive too little, too late to prevent non-survivable Hothouse Earth.

I will speak more to a possible strategy that could get us three-trillion-ton drawdown on decadal time scales—one that is already scaling rapidly solely on market-tested merits—in a special Clubhouse room this coming Sunday at 10 am Pacific Daylight Time. It will be recorded and later posted to the Climate Chat YouTube channel for those not on Clubhouse. 

Is there a way out? It might yet be biophysically possible. A recent study from Yale Climate Connections provides some reason for optimism.

According to the Yale group, a cascade of social, political and technological change could lead to an accelerating decline in emissions. That Tesla has replaced the Big Three as the largest US carmaker is such a portent. Public policy and behavior could co-evolve towards the Paris targets at a rate fast enough to reach C-neutrality by 2030. Political challenges and delayed ambition, however, would be difficult to undo.

That is where we need Joe Biden to get brilliant.

_____________________

 

Towns, villages and cities in the Ukraine are being bombed every day. As refugees pour out into the countryside, ​they must rest by day so they can travel by night. Ecovillages and permaculture farms have organized something like an underground railroad to shelter families fleeing the cities, either on a long-term basis or temporarily, as people wait for the best moments to cross the border to a safer place, or to return to their homes if that becomes possible. So far there are 62 sites in Ukraine and 265 around the region. They are calling their project “The Green Road.”

The Green Road also wants to address the ongoing food crisis at the local level by helping people grow their own food, and they are raising money to acquire farm machinery, seed, and to erect greenhouses. The opportunity, however, is larger than that. The majority of the migrants are children. This will be the first experience in ecovillage living for most. They will directly experience its wonders, skills, and safety. They may never want to go back. Those that do will carry the seeds within them of the better world they glimpsed through the eyes of a child.

Those wishing to make a tax-deductible gift can do so through Global Village Institute by going to http://PayPal.me/greenroad2022 or by directing donations to greenroad@thefarm.org.

There is more info on the Global Village Institute website at https://www.gvix.org/greenroad


The COVID-19 pandemic has destroyed lives, livelihoods, and economies. But it has not slowed down climate change, which presents an existential threat to all life, humans included. The warnings could not be stronger: temperatures and fires are breaking records, greenhouse gas levels keep climbing, sea level is rising, and natural disasters are upsizing.

As the world confronts the pandemic and emerges into recovery, there is growing recognition that the recovery must be a pathway to a new carbon economy, one that goes beyond zero emissions and runs the industrial carbon cycle backwards — taking CO2 from the atmosphere and ocean, turning it into coal and oil, and burying it in the ground. The triple bottom line of this new economy is antifragility, regeneration, and resilience.

Help me get my blog posted every week. All Patreon donations and Blogger or Substack subscriptions are needed and welcomed. You are how we make this happen. Your contributions are being made to Global Village Institute, a tax-deductible 501(c)(3) charity. PowerUp! donors on Patreon get an autographed book off each first press run. Please help if you can.

#RestorationGeneration #ReGeneration

“There are the good tipping points, the tipping points in public consciousness when it comes to addressing this crisis, and I think we are very close to that.”

— Climate Scientist Michael Mann, January 13, 2021.

Want to help make a difference while you shop in the Amazon app, at no extra cost to you? Simply follow the instructions below to select “Global Village Institute” as your charity and activate AmazonSmile in the app. They’ll donate a portion of your eligible purchases to us.

How it works:

1. Open the Amazon app on your phone 
2. Select the main menu (=) & tap on “AmazonSmile” within Programs & Features 
3. Select “Global Village Institute” as your charity 
4. Follow the on-screen instructions to activate AmazonSmile in the mobile app

The Great Change is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.

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The Great Change is published whenever the spirit moves me. Writings on this site are purely the opinion of Albert Bates and are subject to a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike 3.0 "unported" copyright. People are free to share (i.e, to copy, distribute and transmit this work) and to build upon and adapt this work – under the following conditions of attribution, n on-commercial use, and share alike: Attribution (BY): You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work). Non-Commercial (NC): You may not use this work for commercial purposes. Share Alike (SA): If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same or similar license to this one. Nothing in this license is intended to reduce, limit, or restrict any rights arising from fair use or other limitations on the exclusive rights of the copyright owner under copyright law or other applicable laws. Therefore, the content of
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