Belated July 4th Birthday Greetings, America

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Climate, both epochal and philosophical converged with the arrival by sail of a young 16 year-old climate activist, Greta Thunberg, beneath The Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. She sailed fossil-free to attend the 2019, UN Climate Action Summit, to deliver words hoped to never hear, of generational failure to care for their futures.

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photo credit: Jen Edney | Team Malizia

Their coordinates met in her passing the monument, a gift of France to Americans, to inspire us to keep the light of democracy and human striving through difficult histories.

What I am suggesting is that beyond all we know ad nauseam of the science of climate disruption, the failure to transit to clean energy is that politics and economic conditions are failing us in this moment.

The nativist and authoritarian turn of governments tracks with the enormous strains of human migration and control of territory and resources.

It’s not that we can’t change course but these competing pressures of stable governments, and a revolution in resource distribution seem irreconcilable in a coal-oil-gas world. I’d suggest that denial of climate science must be more about fearing that a global response will somehow replace national sovereignty and economic supremacy.

Green New Deal is not a socialist plot. It is the template for a democratic response to an existential moment in history. Modeled on Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, it was the prosperous response to The Great Depression and World Wars.

liberty-aerial-1024x683A few short years ago, people the world over drew red lines to compel world leaders to enact the voluntary commitments of The 2015 Paris Climate Accord. I participated on Liberty Island with my own grandchildren much on mind and because the civil protest was, poignantly, at water’s edge.

The global crisis is increasingly more precarious. Our liberties, prosperity and nation’s aspirations and, young people, are all on the line.

I don’t see how we should find “hope” coming from young people pointing out adult dereliction but, Ms. Thunberg, with the wind in favor, hopefully will have rekindled Liberty’s torch.

 

Here are three poems around these weighted sentiments;

The New Colossus, by Emma Lazarus displayed on the Statue of Liberty pedestal.

The Brand New Statue of Liberty; To Lee Iacocca (Another Michigan Boy), by Jim Harrison

Let America Be America Again by Langston Hughes

Let’s Just Sell the Sun.

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The stars that shine are yours and mine
The rainbows in the sky are yours and mine

 The song of springtime
The lullaby of Fall

The sunshine of summertime Belong to us all

 The moon above Is yours and mine

The right to fall in love Is yours and mine

The hope of finding the dream

Our hearts desire

All this is Yours and mine

                        Yours and Mine – Billie Holiday

 

If the intent is to save capitalism at all costs, Let’s Just Give The Sun to the Oil Companies.

They already assume they own the right to the earth.

Before you dismiss this absolutely mad idea consider the dilemma – this is for the whole, habitable, Blue Marble.

When I happened upon this essay from Chris Agnos, so many pieces fell in place, I was spinning.

Of course expert economists, industrialists, investment bankers and politicians will dismiss it without a second thought. But, consider this; it was Winston Churchill as Admiral of the British Navy, who had the foresight to retool the entire British fleet from coal-fueled, steam engine technology, in anticipation of Hitler’s stirrings of fascism1 , to save the free world.

And what’s the difference? Capitalists2 already believe in major ownership of at least one body in our solar system. But for at least two reasons, selling solar radiation is a brilliant idea.

One, It challenges the very idea of who even owns the earth – and the right to poison the water, air and health of all and everything that live here?

And two, by selling (or leasing) this solar resource, owned by all humanity, it just could provide a critical mechanism to peacefully unwind fossil fuel reserves, leases and investment infrastructure.

And why not? We sell off and mine the Earth, corporate satellites orbit our atmosphere and futurists envision someday mining asteroids and planetary objects (if we are still around).

So let’s call the energy industry’s bluff and offer to buy out their leases and devalued assets. Let’s call the Sun, Humanity’s Capital (it always was). Have this fund our climate change obligations to make island nations, indigenous cultures, coastal cities, farming, fishing and displaced fossil fuel industry communities and nations – resilient.

Finally, if the (US Secretary of State and fmr. Exxon CEO) Rex Tillerson, wants to talk to Elon Musk (Tesla and SpaceX entrepreneur and US Presidential advisor) about a deal with the rest of humanity along with every other sun-rich and even petroleum-rich nation…we might be willing to consider it.

 

References:

1 The Quest David Yergin

2 Capital In the 21st Century, Thomas Piketty

Let’s Just Give the Sun to the Oil Companies is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Chris Agnos and ChrisAgnos.com.

When Cultures Collapse.

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For the 350th anniversary of my town’s founding in 1661, I was asked to draw the ten items that the Sinoway (An Algonquian-speaking people of the Wappinger Federation) traded for their coastal lands. The concept of actually owning land was as foreign to Native-Americans as the concept of money.

This is a mural that graces a wall in our town’s library titled: The Purchase of Mamaroneck from the Siwanoys, 1661. It was painted with the auspices of the W.P.A. (Works Project Administration) in 1936 by Warren Chase Merritt d.1968.

This is a mural that graces a wall in our town’s library titled: The Purchase of Mamaroneck from the Siwanoys, 1661. It was painted with the auspices of the W.P.A. (Works Project Administration) in 1936 by Warren Chase Merritt d.1968.

Drawing the traded items gave me a few days to contemplate what we value when civilizations collapse. It was a nice detachment from time but rooted in place. (A couple of 24-6 days off the grid to just consider history and draw).

These are the trade items I drew.

2 Firelockes, 12 Bars of Lead, 20 Coats, 20 Hands of Powder, 15 Hatchets, 15 Hoes, 3 Kettles, 12 Shirts, 1- Pair of Stockings, 100 Fathom of Wampum

Items for the purchase of Mamaroneck in 1661; 2 Firelockes, 12 Bars of Lead, 20 Coats, 20 Hands of Powder, 15 Hatchets, 15 Hoes, 3 Kettles, 12 Shirts, 10 Pair of Stockings, 100 Fathom of Wampum

Wampum, “white man’s money”, had more to do with agreements and treaties than currency before European contact.

As you can see, when these descendents of a thousands year old culture dispersed, what refugees needed was just enough to get the hell out, find some safer place, move in with distant relatives — assimilation if possible or exodus.

Sound familiar?

 

The Apocalypse is Having a Real Moment.

With films, novels, journalists and Grammy award songs capitalizing on our angst The Apocalypse is having a resurgent moment. Even climate denial can make hay from our apocalyptic neuroses.

Exactly what you might expect to see today when society loses cohesion.

In an interview of Oren Lyons by Barry Lopez for Orion Magazine, Oren relates exactly what democratic leadership entails. He is a Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan among the Onondaga people and sits on the Council of Chiefs of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. He speaks to the inspiration his ancestors provided in forming our early American democracy – the one we still aspire to. It’s a matter of survival for a thriving culture.

America’s leadership goes beyond trade and power or a willingness to squander blood and treasure. It rests on the promise that we prize equality and freedom over exploitation and despoliation.

Surely with our wild streak of independence it’s naïve to think compromise will restore our faith in government or if we compromise enough it will lead to sustaining civilization. Our destiny demands a special accommodation for generations to follow.

The least we can do is be informed and to vote. Always vote.

In the end we only do as well as other people do, and we get the government we deserve.

— Steve Mitsch