Friday, July 29, 2016

Poetic Interlude: the Earth

(engaging my inner poet this week)

the Earth
so easy to forget

chasing humanity's abstractions
chasing pleasures ancient evolution dictates
chasing careers modern culture values
chasing a life that a growth economy demands

the Earth 
so easy to remember

embracing humanity's abstractions
embracing pleasures that underscore connection
embracing careers that restore the planet's health
embracing a life that builds experiential satisfaction

the Earth
Mother, Father, and Spiritual Friend

the Earth (close up snapshot)
the Earth (close up snapshot)

Friday, July 22, 2016

Gimme Shelter!

Time to minimize!
Hope you found the visionary prospects in Water on High and Food Fight? worthy!  Alas, longterm survival in the real world may start with food and water, but as any backpacker caught in a hurricane knows, you best get yourself to shelter to wait out the storm.  Reasonable protection from the elements in pleasant surroundings will permit humanity to thrive on sustainable supplies in relative safety while contemplating consciousness, art, and adventure that is sentient life.

So what might reasonable shelter consist of for the human race in the centuries to come? As with all else humanity harvests from the limited yet massive resources Earth offers, we can strive to build our community homes, societal infrastructure, and creative space in a mindful manner.

Currently any and all development seems to be held as a sacred right of the human species.  We ask our wild cousin species to relocate, to sacrifice territory and to die unconditionally to make room for human expansion.  And then without waiting for an answer we take with little regard for the consequences. Sadly land ownership is decried as a possession of and for the sole benefit of man.  Individuals and biomes that don't include homo sapiens rate at best secondary consideration.

Intelligent creatures that we are, we can take a step back and actively return much of the world to the pristine, beautiful and wildness that is Nature.  With scientific understanding and responsible vision we can find space for civilization, all while giving plenty of room to the natural world to thrive alongside us.

Time to downsize!
Many options lay before us on our planet to blend rather obliterate where shelter is needed.   Currently the Tiny House movement upholds many of these forward thinking ideals.  Reducing our individual home footprints to one or two hundred square feet is a radical leap from the 2000 to 5000 square foot mansions that so many in the developed world are brainwashed into wanting.  Integrating solar power, green disposal of waste, minimal use of cooking fuel, and maximum connection to the world and to living are all at the heart of this movement.  Mindfully customizing ones home, rather than relying on cookie cutter construction, also can connect us further with efficient, creative and aesthetic living!

At the other end of the spectrum, immense communities of people can also ratchet up efficient and effective communities!  A reduction in population over several centuries may permit many to pursue tiny home residences, alas with billions to provide shelter in the intervening times, communities with common and efficient infrastructure can be a large part of the solution.  In the end, reducing per capita residence square footage will permit more land to be devoted to thriving wilderness.
Time to upsize!

Going vertical, up or down, is one great way to reduce the human urban footprint.  Cities already capitalize upon this dynamic, however the suburban sprawl that has resulted from extreme land use needs to be gradually repealed.  Our cultural desire for private estates simply does not work in a world of billions of people.  Other options include building reclamation and domicile sharing in which individuals and families can build a microcommunities, sharing cooking and cleaning facilities and even sleeping quarters perhaps on different shifts.

 Of course much land use is used for agriculture and livestock efforts.  As previously noted, moving toward a vegan civilization can reduce that usage immensely.  All property ownership laws need to be re-evaluated, apportioning sufficient space so that the planet as a whole can thrive.  Sure humanity should also thrive within Earth's sphere as, alas it should thrive at as little expense to the rest of the world as while meeting ethical standards that are truly honorable. With multiple solution paths, humanity can find good shelter amongst all living things in this world!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Food Fight?

Oh the Veganity! 
Okay after last week's Goodness First water article, you got water (you as in the human race from now until the end of time, or at least until the extinction of intelligent life on Earth).  Next, we gotta get you (same you as above) some food...and not just any old food; you deserve delicious, nutritious, ethical, satisfying, economical, and wholly sustainable food!  Sounds like a tall order, alas the solution is quite simple and quite doable for an entire planet of hungry humans.

Solution Prime: a vegan lifestyle for every person.  Hands down as a whole veganism is the most globally sustainable, economical and ethical option for feeding billions of humans.  Our inherited culture of food will buck this declaration like a steer looking a butcher's knife in the eye.  Nevertheless, the overall ethical, economic, and environmental factors favor veganism by a magnitude.  Deliciousness and nutritiousness is simply a matter of designing plant based foods, and as necessary synthesized nutrients, to meet our needs. With a bit of skillful preparation and aesthetic presentation amazing vegan snacks and meals await you every day!

Argue with me if you like, but I having been a vegan now for more than two years, I am the proof in the plant based pudding! I've never felt healthier in my life.  I've been able to find create diverse, delicious meals. And I feel better for being one seven billionth of the solution to reducing human impact on the environment not to mention reducing overall abuse of thinking creatures of the Earth. And did I mention I run a lower cost food budget too!

Still, there are challenges to be faced if you take on veganism.  There are plenty of vegan recipes out there, plenty of guidance to ensure you are fully healthy in your selection of plant based foods, plenty of mock carnivore foods to satisfy your comfort food addictions and even vegan groups to assist with the social challenge of striving toward being a successful vegan.

The greatest challenge in my experience has been the reception by friends, family and our denialist culture, in general.  Perhaps, relaying some of my struggles can ease your transition.  Foremost, always rest assured the evidence backs veganism as being the most sustainable, ethical, and environmentally friendly food world view out there currently.

Nevertheless, you may struggle internally and externally when all your omnivore friends order a pizza or subs to be social or select a seafood or steakhouse as a celebration venue.  Inside your head you will be chanting "dairy is abuse juice," "oceanic overfishing" and "meat is the flesh of teenage slave animals" but it will do little to help the cause to slam this in your friends' faces.  Their behavior is indoctrinated deeply, as it was for myself from birth and for decades.  They very well may scream bloody murder like a dairy cow having her calves pulled away from her if you even suggest they do without their bacony, eggy and cheesey addictions.  So what is a mindful vegan to do?

Hard as it may be, we must walk the gradual course of perseverance and kindness.  I suggest planning delicious vegan meals and inviting your friends over.  Nothing wins someone over quite like evidence in their mouth. I've had success with meatless sloppy joes, vegan lasagna and plenty of straight forward plant based stir-fries.  Vegan restaurants are popping up everywhere as demand rises, so consider volunteering them as venues for celebrations and gatherings in general.  True foodies will want to explore the growing offerings of these vegan bistros!

Perhaps, most important is being patient. We all are on a journey and shared information can sadly take its time to register in people's minds.  So when you are eating lunch across from an omnivore, keep a kind conversation rolling. When mention of food comes up, there will often be an opportunity to share some of the benefits of vegan food, but also any struggles or tipping points that you had to work through to get closer to becoming vegan.  Planting seeds works much better than planting judgmental landmines.  In the end the path of that person across from you may just benefit from the subtlest of nudges, in time.

Praise FSM! May His Hearts Be Ever Meatless!
Indeed, it will be a long-- I'm talking centuries long-- battle to win over the masses toward vegan value based thinking.  Certainly, eating is in its own right can be a religion, and as the Flying Spaghetti Monster knows, relinquishing ones spiritual traditions, even when they do harm to yourself, others and the planet as a whole, is quite tough. Alas, keep fighting the good fight, knowing deep down that as time goes by your efforts will encourage more and more people to choose the sensible humane path ever moving the world toward a global vegan society.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Water on High

Liquid Magic!
I'll open by citing the poignant lyrics of "High Water" by the band Rush.  Do yourself a favor and listen to their song on Youtube for the full impact of the prose ensconced in enchanting, rocking melody!

High Water 

When the waters rose in the darkness
In the wake of the endless flood
It flowed into our memory
It flowed into our blood

When something broke the surface
Just to see the starry dome
We still feel that relation
When the water takes us home
In the flying spray of the ocean
The water takes you home

Springing from the weight of the mountains
Like the heart of the earth would burst
Flowing out from marble fountains
In the dreams of a desert thirst

Something swam through the jungles
Where the mighty rivers roam
Something breaks the silence
When the water takes you home
I hear the wordless voices
When the water takes me home

Waves that crash on the shoreline
Torrents of tropical rain streaming down
Beyond our memory
Streaming down inside our veins

When something left the ocean
To crawl high above the foam
We still feel that elation
When the water takes us home
In a driving rain of redemption
The water takes me home...

Water is indeed intimately connected with life and our living planet boasts water in apparent abundance. In fact, oceans, lakes and rivers cover our planet so much so that we have nicknamed Earth the Blue Planet.  Water stirs gaseous in the planet's atmosphere, flows gently below its surface, and saturates the very core of our and ever plant, animal and fungus' cells.

With so much water on hand, why has water become such a near future concern?  Because the clean water associated with a healthy environment has become harder and harder to come by.  Seven billion people seeking water for drinking, flushing, washing, agriculture and production has put a strain on the natural water supply.  Add to that many humans use water to float away waste all too often without any treatment.

Perhaps in the past, the waste of a tens of thousands of people globally could be naturally recycled.  However with a human population a hundred thousand times more "successful" now produces waste in immense quantities.  Subsequently, available water supply has gradually become tainted with fertilizer, pesticides, hormones, fecal matter, plastics, and a whole host of undesirable chemicals.

Developed countries have successfully leveraged technology to ensure their citizens have adequate access to water and septic systems.  Nevertheless, proactive water management needs to be at the top of any long term planetary vision to benefit humans and environment alike.  Without a sustainable plan ecosystems will be stressed by water quality, species will go extinct (especially aquatic species), and human civilization itself will suffer.

Every drop counts!
In the long run our individual behavior can make a difference. Ensuring communities have access to quality water goes without saying.  Eliminating a variety of wasteful practices particularly, livestock and dairy farming, and reducing water intensive industrial processing is a start. Longterm, as always, a gradual reduction in human population will be key.

Ultimately, positive water management will be part of a holistic body of solutions integrated into the both human infrastructure and the global landscape.  You can be part of a positive water culture today by filling a reusable water bottle to carry with you today.  Doing so has the benefit of decreasing the immense disposable bottle waste industry to be sure.  More importantly it can serve as a talisman to remind each of us to encourage everyone, every business, and every government organization to plan wisely and not squander a single drop of Earth's most precious, life-giving liquid!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Transportation Next

One of the most devastating categories of human consumption currently is transport. Animals
evolved the ability to selectively move from place to place to more greatly reap the benefit of resources located elsewhere.  Plant individuals largely anchor themselves to a single spot and rely on resources coming to them, whether it is water to roots, sun and air to leaves, or in the case of some carnivorous plants, flies to digestive traps.  Certainly plants grow, drift, float and extend to maximize their resource gathering abilities, especially while reproducing, alas animals move with purpose unconnected to the earth, air or sea.
Transportation Next?
Humans, being animals, certainly rely on transport to thrive;  seeking out shelter, food, reproductive and pleasure opportunities happens most effectively when humans are on the move.  And like many social animals we move to assemble groups that can work toward a purpose as a team.  Indeed, humans have taken transport to a whole other level by mechanizing movement with machines, particularly with machines that are by and large powered by fossil fuels.

As we well know centuries of fossil fuel use have begun to reshape the Earth's climate, causing phenomena which will cause long term destabilizing trends unless humans change the culture that we have inherited.  Reducing use and maximizing efficiency are both realistic paths to help minimize our civilizations.  Solar, wind and perhaps nuclear fission and fusion power have the potential to gradually replace our hydrocarbon transports.

Transportation, like so many other human impact industries, is massively acculturated.  Each community has a blend of personal transport and public transport options.  In America we are addicted to owning SUVs, in Europe public transport dominates, in Asia bicycles crowd the landscape.  Technology, from snail mail to email to skyping, has given us virtual options that can eliminate unnecessary transport.
Overall, each community is capable of mindfully shifting transport to achieve long term environmental and ethical goals while still supplying our movement needs.

Returning to a more primal transport paradigm may very well be the path forward.  Yes it is a natural fallacy to assume that returning to the ways of the past is necessarily the best path; however, the one thing millions of years of evolution and geologic processes have going for them is a foundational global stability carved out by the eons.  In regards to transport, time's trials has yielded human bodies which yearn for physical motion.  More walking, running, rollerblading, bike riding and somersaulting to destinations would not only decrease the per capita impact humans have on the Earth, it would also connect us with our evolutionary inheritance, the animal thrill and joy that it is to move!

Transportation Next, Previous and Present!
So what could human transport look like in several hundred years?  Surely it will be a blend of many possibilities and perhaps as we know it transport will no longer exist.  In the extreme, telepresence might be so integrated into civilization and its individuals that each person will be cocooned in an array of virtual sensory transducers, enabling instant communication with anyone else on the grid and "transport" to any location, real or imagined.

A less extreme, and more desirable future might see similar technology accessed when the occasion warrants, whereas the predominant culture may be localized, encouraging walks, climbs, skates, swims and glides within gardened, small-community metropolises.  As such, daily transport could be part of a globally stable planet full of thriving ecosystems and human villages, with human movement embodying a rush of self propelled motion not entirely unfamiliar to our aboreal ancestors.