Yesterday, a kitten died the place where I’m staying.
Yesterday, a kitten died the place where I’m staying.
There are the things that must happen. Then there are the things we want, the things we believe, and the things we do.
By “we” I mean virtually everybody in the civilized world. This is the collective “we”: not merely a number of individuals, but their sum. A “we” with its own path, in which solitary efforts contrary to its direction are of no material account. A “we” whose existence is a fact quite apart from our thoughts or our emotions about it, or indeed from our very perceptions of it, which are so often inaccurate.
What must happen is no mystery. Consumption must decrease, and decrease drastically, in the interest of a liveable ecology.
Many specifics follow this general principle. We must use less water, land and fuel. We must reduce our manufacturing, our construction, our energy production, our mining, our transportation and our farming. Wasteful or inefficient practices must cease entirely. We can no longer afford an economic system that requires constant expansion. Further, we cannot sustain any “economy” in the modern sense of that concept.
These facts are fundamental. Any choice made as if they were not is against our own interest. People can debate whether this is also a case of ethics, morality or justice, but what’s beyond argument is that collectively we are making self-destructive choices. Our behavior is ecocidal and ecocidal=suicidal.
The US-supported right-wing coup against Bolivian President Evo Morales on November 10th was a serious strike against that nation’s autonomy and its people (especially its indigenous, of whom Morales was one). Such meddling has defined US foreign policy in Latin America for nearly two centuries, since the Monroe Doctrine of 1823.
“Same song, different verse,” one could say, and that’s true, but each verse has different lyrics and this one features a new element (no pun intended): Lithium.
While Lithium is used as an ingredient in a wide variety of products such as pharmaceuticals, industrial lubricants, desiccants, lenses and even rocket propellants, the fastest growing application is for batteries for electric cars. According to Bloomberg, demand for lithium could “double by 2025.”
Bolivia’s lithium reserves are believed to be the largest in the world. A conservative estimate puts their share at nearly a quarter of the world’s total, though the government has claimed it to be as high as 70% [Lithium Today]. Regardless of the exact amount, Bolivia’s supply is globally recognized to be significant, enough to have attracted the attention of China and Germany, among other countries.
Obviously, US interests in Bolivia are not about democracy, freedom or the rule of law, as Trump disingenuously stated. They’re not solely about lithium either; the socialist politics of Morales are anathema to capitalist elites the world over. Similarly, Iraq was not solely about oil. But with lithium, we’re talking about a substance that could become “one of the most important commodities on earth” so yes, it has some bearing. [See: Bolivian Coup Comes Less Than a Week After Morales Stopped Multinational Firm’s Lithium Deal and Bolivia coup against Morales opens opportunity for multinational mining companies.]
The big dream of “green energy” is that society will just be able to switch from one source to another without changing anything fundamentally. How perversely appropriate, then, that US foreign policy would not have to change fundamentally either. To wars for oil, we’ll just add coups for green energy. That’s not an improvement.
I just received some misprinted copies of my book, “The Failures of Farming & the Necessity of Wildtending.” I can’t return them because the misprint is due to my error, so I am offering them at a discount. Regular price is 12+s/h. Discount is 5.95 incl. s/h!
(Lower 48 only, no international order, sorry.)
I arrived in the Gila River valley in New Mexico in mid-September to stay at a friend’s property for a few months. Shortly afterwards, migrating Sandhill Cranes began showing up too. I heard them before I saw them, and my first reaction was, “What the heck is that?”
If you haven’t heard the calls of a Sandhill Crane before, you might not immediately identify them as coming from birds. They have been variously described as “loud, rattling bugle calls,” a “deep chesty squawk” and “kar-r-r-r- o-o-o.” I’ll take a stab at the challenge and offer: “a moody trilling trumpet.”
These helped jog my memory as I was writing this piece (since the cranes here don’t vocalize on command) but they all seriously lack compared to the real thing. They might capture the sound but not the spirit.
The first time a group of them flew overhead, I couldn’t help but to stop and stare in awe. Their silhouettes were certainly striking—with necks extended forward and legs stretched out behind—but it was their voices that really took my breath away. I will offer the words “haunting,” “otherworldly” and “preternatural,” though they all fall short. I felt like I was hearing the echoes of dinosaurs (and given birds’ evolutionary heritage, I guess I literally was).
But of course there is nothing alien about these creatures or their noises. It is I, raised in cities by a dominator culture, who doesn’t belong here, or rather, who doesn’t know my place, or how to find it. Such is the tragic estrangement of Western Civ.
This past weekend, with the arrest of Max Blumenthal, we were reminded again that leftist activism and independent media in the United States are increasingly under siege.
Max Blumenthal is an activist and the founder/editor of The Grayzone, a website that describes itself as featuring “original investigative journalism and analysis on politics and empire.” His body of work has covered diverse topics including US imperialism, the Israeli war on Palestine, and independent media, among many others. But a particular focus for Blumenthal in 2019 has been Venezuela, and this arrest happened within that context.
We shouldn’t assume that everything we know and sense is everything that we consciously know and sense. We are constantly absorbing far more information and stimuli than we can focus on with our thinking brains. But it’s all stored and processed somewhere: subconsciously, intuitively, or in dreams, etc. From there, realizations can pop out unexpectedly and we call such moments inspiration, insight or epiphany. Artists, scientists and spiritualists alike attest to this reality.
All this is to say that we are both smarter and sharper than we believe we are, or than we let ourselves be. This is one of the great challenges of contemporary life: collectively, we are continually short-changing ourselves, hobbling our own abilities, and holding ourselves back. To move beyond our destructive ways—ecocide, war, etc.—we must rediscover our own deep abilities and relearn how to exercise them deliberately. Once, in the past—before we civilized ourselves—this was simply our everyday reality.
It is long past time that we return. Not necessarily to a specific set of logistical circumstances, but to our own natural and inherent ways of relating to life. From that place, everything else will change.
This is part 2 of a two-part series. Read part 1: “Rare Wildflower vs. Mining Company.”
In part 1 of this series, I told how Tiehn’s Buckwheat (Eriogonum tiehmii) is a rare species found only on ten acres of land in Nevada and how its existence is threatened by the mining activities of Ioneer, an Australian Company. I also discussed the efforts by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) to save the species by petitioning the federal government and the state of Nevada to give it legal protection. Additionally, I provided information for the reader to support the Center’s efforts.
What I didn’t mention is what Ioneer is hoping to extract at the site: Lithium carbonate and boric acid.
Though a variety of industrial applications utilize lithium carbonate, demand is rising primarily due to its use in batteries, especially for electric vehicles. In other words, Ioneer’s operation could be considered part of the “green” or “clean” energy industry. Indeed, they make use of one of the monikers themselves: “Lithium is a strategic element linked directly to high technology and clean energy. It has been described as the new oil as it is a key component for batteries fueling the electric vehicle revolution.”
But “green” and “clean” don’t mean “no impact.” All extractive activities have destructive impacts on the natural environment, including lithium mining. Some would argue that fossil fuels are the worst, and that anything is better—that a lesser cost is preferable to a greater cost. Yet in this case, what is the cost?
This is part 1 of a two-part series.
In a remote corner of Nevada is a wildflower that grows nowhere else on earth. Named “Tiehm’s Buckwheat” (Eriogonum tiehmii), it has been found on only ten acres of public land in the Silver Peak Range of Esmerelda County, and is virtually unknown except to a handful of botanists. Tragically, it is at risk of extinction due to mining activities that have just started in its habitat.