Giving thanks for the land and those who work it ethically

LAND AWAKENING.

In honor of the land and those who are trying to preserve/save it from agribusiness, I’d like to give thanks to all those who treat soil, water, air and animals ethically. Along these lines, I’m posting a trailer for this nice little documentary, Land Awakening, about farmers in the Mediterranean who grow food sustainably.

From the film’s web site:

“Land Awakening” is my personal journey to experience hands-on organic sustainable agriculture, turning into the discovering of alternative technologies and approaches to producing and gathering food. The experience resolves to a spiritual reflection into our deep and sacred relationship with the Land.

Inspired by his son’s voyage to learn about organic farming in Spain, Mexican-Canadian filmmaker Raúl Álvarez embarks on his own quest finding how chemical agriculture creates deserts, and Wild Nature provides far more nutritious foods when we stop controlling it.

Raúl’s odyssey expands around the Mediterranean and Canada, warmly portraying compelling characters living sustainably. He meets experts breaking paradigms and taboos on agriculture, wild plants and marketing food, making his journey deeply inspiring.

Imbued with a beautiful scenery “Land Awakening” proposes a spiritual, timely and concrete message of change in our relationship to the Land where our food comes from.

Life imitates ad: Meet the Trees Foundation responds to Toys R Us

A Toys R Us ad that ridicules environmental education made fun of a fictional environmental organization called Meet the Trees. In response to the ad’s anti-environment message, some enterprising folks poke a little fun at Toys R Us by creating a web site for the Meet the Trees Foundation, the fictional organization featured in the ad. While I applaud the activists’ efforts–in particular its action page that helps people give Toys R Us a piece of their mind–the web site could use some help. I think the design and images reinforce a little of what the Toys  R Us ad was mocking. Regardless, I’m glad someone took the initiative to have a little fun at the expense of Toys R Us.

Frack me: Toys R Us ad is Pied Piper to eco-apocolypse


Busloads of kids get surprise trip to Toys”R”Us – YouTube.

The latest from the media gods, whose gifts keep on giving for all the wrong reasons. In the newest installment, this Toys R Us ad blows over all commons sense like a climate change induced hurricane. The ad depicts a busload of mostly kids of color who are being taken on a field trip to “nature” (I use quotation marks because it is ultimately a false distinction). It mocks environmental education by falsely depicting a boring, un-engaged presentation about oak leaves. Then suddenly the kids learn that they had been tricked and were actually going to Toys R Us. Like moths to a flame, they sprint ecstatically into a furnace of Chinese-manufactured toxins.*

The ad is wrong on so many levels, but let’s start with the demographic of the children. Urban kids of color have been shown to have “nature deficit” because of a lack of access to environmental education and “nature.” Under-served youths tend to live in cities and attend schools that don’t have the resources for environmental education. This problem is being addressed by the No Child Left Inside model, but there is a long way to go, and ads like this certainly don’t help the matter.

Toys R Us offers itself as a kind of WIllie Wonka of the consumer sublime, a concept developed by David Nye. Over the past hundred and fifty years or so as we have shifted into techno-scientific modernity, the sublime has transformed from an experience of awe of nature to awe of the technological cornucopia that surrounds us. The ad reinforces this by representing its toy store as a magical kingdom of discovery and amazement. But the ancient meaning of awe–”terror–comes closer to the reality behind Toys R Us, a kind of Lord of the Flies of globalization.

It just amazes me that the more we know about the state of our planetary ecological crisis, the more corporations shill denial. Also, it’s hard to believe this wasn’t made by The Onion.

PS Check out The Cobert Reports’ response.

* I’m not China bashing here, just drawing attention to where this crap is made. Just as the Colombians shouldn’t be blamed for our coke addiction, nor should we accuse the Chinese for our over-consumerism.

Glenn Beck’s illiterate vision of environmentalism


[video link]

The above “Remove Your Footprint” video is from the fictional world depicted in Glenn Beck’s new dystopian novel, Agenda 21. The book’s title refers to an existing non-binding guideline created by the UN that outlines planning methods for sustainable development. This imaginary propaganda video is made by a future UN-controlled one-world government that looks uncannily like Soviet Russia. This hints at Beck’s demographic–try to guess the age of people who remember the bad-old days of the USSR. Unfortunately, Beck’s fear-mongering–which I’d like to believe is ineffectual and irrelevant–impacts something I care deeply about: climate change mitigation. Anyone monitoring the state of our global climate knows that without collective action and planned decoupling from the fossil fuel economy, civilization as we know it will cease to exist within a century. Under such a scenario Beck’s dystopia won’t even be possible.

This hypothetical propaganda video from the UN’s Division for Sustainable Development associates “healing the planet” with eradicating humans as if they are a planetary disease. It depicts a particular fear and misperception at the heart of Beck’ anthropocentric worldview. He equates concern for the environment as anti-human. This is the opposite of what most ecologists believe. While it is true that some environmentalists are anti-human/anti-civilization (I know this from direct experience), most care deeply about humanity. As an ecocentric parent, my empathy extends to ecosystems, animals, plants and fellow humans. It’s not one or the other.

As for Beck’s vision, however, it is certainly one or the other, which makes no sense on a practical level. Since humans are organisms that depend on fresh air, water and food to survive, I’m not sure how Beck’s vision of freedom ensures healthy ecosystems so that our liberties may be enjoyed. But if you spend anytime peering beyond Beck’s carefully cultivated media empire, you quickly see that he is no more than an irrational conspiranoid that has somehow amplified his worldview beyond that of a ranting psychitzophrenic on skid row. Without media literacy, many will fall for the trappings of serious journalism that Beck dresses his hallucinations with (again, I know from direct experience that it works on some people). Even worse, some will likely believe the “Remove Your Footprint” video is actually real.

Beck is no Orwell or Huxley, both of whom were deeply empathetic authors that cared more about humanity than for corporations. Their visions were based on empirical observations of the world and were by no means hawking conspiracy theories as political agendas. Heck, Beck didn’t even write the book. He just bought the rights to put his name on it. Which just about says everything about the literary qualifications of his anti-environmental stance.

NYTimes on the link between information, polution and energy

If you’re looking for some good background information about the link between the Internet and climate change, please read this very important article: Power, Pollution and the Internet. Put starkly, the article states:

A yearlong examination by The New York Times has revealed that this foundation of the information industry is sharply at odds with its image of sleek efficiency and environmental friendliness.

Most data centers, by design, consume vast amounts of energy in an incongruously wasteful manner, interviews and documents show. Online companies typically run their facilities at maximum capacity around the clock, whatever the demand. As a result, data centers can waste 90 percent or more of the electricity they pull off the grid, The Times found.

And there is the most shocking bit of information:

Energy efficiency varies widely from company to company. But at the request of The Times, the consulting firm McKinsey & Company analyzed energy use by data centers and found that, on average, they were using only 6 percent to 12 percent of the electricity powering their servers to perform computations. The rest was essentially used to keep servers idling and ready in case of a surge in activity that could slow or crash their operations.

Check out this followup discussion: Information’s Environmental Cost. In particular there is a nice response by Richard Maxwell and Toby Miller, authors of Greening the Media:

There are technological fixes for the Internet’s environmental problem — moving data centers off the coal-fired power grid and onto hydro-electric, solar, geothermal and other sources; designing energy efficient devices; and using smart grids to regulate and reduce domestic and workplace energy consumption.But these fixes will not succeed without a corresponding transformation of our consumer culture into a culture of sustainability, one that ensures that social, political, and economic development does exceed or irreversibly damage the Earth’s abilities to supply and renew the natural resources upon which we depend.