11 04 2015

future-city-5-webWhat might Nashville be like in twenty-five years? While my friends and I have been seeking to answer that question through the lens of the “transition towns” movement, with what we have called “Transition Nashville,” Metro’s “Nashville Next” program has been the city’s attempt to answer that question, and, to a certain extent, the planners involved in Nashville Next have done a good job.  They have asked at least some of the right questions, and they have solicited, and elicited, a fair amount of citizen involvement in their visioning, but I think there are some unasked questions and misguided assumptions in their process. I think “the next Nashville” will be very different from what they envision, and that proceeding on their basic assumption, that the future will, overall, be a lot like the past, could produce some very unhappy results.  If we recognize these errors and correct our course, Nashville could still be a pretty nice place to live as we approach mid-century. I am going to start by quoting what Nashville Next’s website and then offer my own comments and suggestions. Read the rest of this entry »


16 04 2011

More from our social calendar–recently Transition Nashville screened the movie, Blue Gold.  No, we’re not Notre Dame fans–football, as far as I’m concerned, is part of the Empire’s bread and circuses program–this “Blue Gold” is subtitled, “World Water Wars,” and it portrays with sometimes beautiful and sometimes horrifying vividness how peak water, perhaps more than peak oil, may be the choke collar that ultimately constrains our culture’s cancerous rate of expansion.

At the chemical level, there are, of course, radical differences between water and oil.  Just for openers, oil was created here on Earth,  but, as far as we can tell, all the water on the planet was created elsewhere in the cosmos and became part of our planet in its earliest eons as water-rich comets and meteors collided with the young, hot, dry planet.  We use oil up–we burn it, turn it into plastic, degrade it to the point of uselessness, but water–water we constantly recycle.  The water that falls from the sky, quenches our thirst, and flows in our rivers and toilet bowls is the same water that the dinosaurs swam in, drank, and…pissed out, yes.  Think of it–every drop of water we have was probably, at one time, dinosaur piss. Thanks to our planet’s appropriate range of temperatures, however, pure H2O evaporates into the atmosphere, leaving behind whatever pollutants we, or the dinosaurs, add to it–not that that’s an excuse to allow pollution.  Natural cleansing can take a very long time.

For instance, there is a lot of what is called “fracking” going on in parts of the US and elsewhere.  Fracking involves injecting a cocktail of solvents and water into rock formations in order to release the natural gas that is held in these formations, so that it can be captured and used.  To this end, 32,000,000 gallons of diesel fuel, among other yummy substances, were injected into rock formations in the US between 2005 and 2009 alone–and this was done in spite of the fact that injectng diesel fuel is illegal.  Natural gas wells have a productive life of a few decades, but the groundwater pollution they create will last far longer than that.

Gas companies are, at least in theory, required to properly store and dispose of  their used fracking fluids, which are saltier than sea water, contain radium leached from underground rock formations, and bromides–not trite sayings, but chemicals that interact with chlorinated water to produce carcinogenic trihalomethanes.  However, neither sewage treatment nor water system intake plants are designed to deal with the massive chemical load of thousands of gallons of fracking fluid.  Oh,yeah, fracking-polluted water also tastes nasty, if you hadn’t guessed.

State and corporate officials promise that they have the situation under control and will carefully monitor for the possibility of contamination, but by the time the water is contaminated, it will be too late.  An ounce of prevention versus a pound of cure.  A decade or two of fuel now in exchange for hundreds, if not thousands, of years of poisoned water seems like a Faustian bargain to me.  I assume you recall  who offered Faust that famous bargain.  And who, then, is offering to trade us gas for water? Wouldn’t it be just like a demon to mix diesel fuel into the drinking water?  I mean, that sounds like Hell to me!

But pollution concerns aren’t the half of “Blue Gold.”  The movie’s main point is the many ways in which transnational corporations are working to corner the market for this increasingly scarce resource, which no human can live without, and this is where the movie gives us some encouragement, by reporting on successful resistance to privatization and monopoly such as the famous Cochabamba “water war,” when the people of Cochabamba, Bolivia, threw out the Bechtel Corporation, which had bought the city’s water system and raised rates so high that most people could not afford water.

What the movie neglects to mention is that the public agency that now runs the system is, unfortunately, doing a very poor job of providing water to people. But maybe that’s not so important, in the end, as the fact that the people succeeded in throwing out a transnational corporation and relocalizing control of their water supply. Maybe what happens after that is their business, even if it’s their problem, as well.

There was some group discussion after the movie, and several small, informal conversations sparked up after that.  I got into a spirited exchange with one attendee about whether “fourth generation” nuke plants will be the answer to peak oil and the dangers of coal. “Fourth generation” nuclear power plants, for those of you who, like me, hadn’t heard of them before, are supposed to be much safer–easier to keep cool, harder to screw up,  cheaper to build, more efficient in their use of nuclear fuel. They’re still on the drawing boards, mostly.  The Chinese have started to build one,but it won’t be finished for another ten years or so.  The general consensus is that it will be at least twenty years before “fourth generation” nukes could become a widespread reality.

Here’s the basic reason why nuclear power is a dumb idea, second generation, fourth generation, tenth generation, no matter:  it’s an incredibly complex, expensive, and potentially very dangerous way to boil water.

Can you say, “Rube Goldberg,” boys and girls?

The real “first generation” nuclear power plant is located 93 million miles from here.  It costs us nothing to build or maintain.  It has been running safely (if you discount sunburns and skin cancers) for about four billion years, and will probably continue to function without any need for human intervention for another five billion years or so.

Using a common, well known technology, referred to scientifically as a “mirror,” we can focus the energy from this reactor, which, to throw another scientific term at you, is referred to as “sunlight.” Focusing sunlight on water will, under the right circumstances, make the water boil. The steam thus created can be used to turn a turbine and create electricity. Of course, generating electricity is only one of the many things we do with oil.  It’s not so easy to find substitutes for lubricants and plastics, to name the first two major non-fuel uses of oil that come to mind.

These “mirrors” could easily and rapidly be widely deployed all over the world.  It would not require creation of any more of the environmental disasters known as “uranium mines,”  or “uranium processing/reprocessing facilities.”   It would not amass large quantities of long-lived, or even short-lived radioactive material that might poison a neighborhood or a continent due to human error, natural disaster, terrorist attack, or the ravages of time.  Unlike a nuclear power plant, this technology would be relatively cheap to build and maintain.   It would not take a bunch of PhDs to run it.  It would be a decentralized, low-tech, relatively non-polluting source of energy.  Power plants could be equipped with “flywheels,” another fairly-low-tech, well-developed technology, so that they could keep providing power when the sun isn’t shining.

A second prong of the alternative to increased reliance on nuclear power is a combination of conservation and lowered expectations. The general consensus seems to be that money spent on energy conservation, dollar for dollar, saves five times more energy than the amount of electricity generated by a dollar invested in nuclear power plants.  And, speaking of investing in nuclear power plants, it’s worth noting that nuclear power, which, when I was a kid, promised “electricity too cheap to meter,” only maintains the appearance of a competitive pricing structure because it receives huge government subsidies, loan guarantees, and insurance backing.  Private investors won’t touch it.

Can you say, “the invisible hand of the market,” boys and girls?

Would “fourth-generation” nuke plants really be inexpensive to build and run?  We’ve heard this claim before.

Peter Bradford, a former member of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and, in his words, “not a total opponent of nuclear power,” had this to say about nuclear power as a solution to runaway climate change:

“Counting on new nuclear reactors as a climate change solution is no more sensible than counting on an un-built dam to create a lake to fight a nearby forest fire.”

It’s important to note that many of those who promote nuclear power are in the pay of multinational corporations that profit from it, while those of us who oppose its use can expect no financial gain for our stance, and in fact will find the resources of those multinationals brought to bear on us in an effort to dismiss our concerns and ridicule us for expressing them.  But I digress.

As I was saying, there’s lowering our expectations.  The last two hundred years of human history have been a radical departure from all that preceded them, as we have discovered and consumed stores of fossil fuels that took millions of years to accumulate.  All of us in the First World enjoy riches beyond the imagination of the wealthiest of our very recent ancestors, and, unless some remarkable breakthrough is made very soon, our wealth and power will be the stuff of the legends of our descendants as they, like our ancestors, gather around their communal fire pit after a long, hard day of herding, gathering wild foods, working at handicrafts, and tending their crops.  It would have been thoughtful of us to consume the planet’s resources slowly and carefully enough to leave something for future generations, but we had to get rich quick making Barbie dolls and cell phones and superhighways and cars to drive on them.   Too bad, great grandkids, we spent your inheritance.

I wish I had been this eloquent and informed when I was in conversation with nuclear dude at the “Blue Gold” movie.  That’s why I write these talks out instead of trying to do them off the top of my head!

I did give him the short version of what I’ve just told you, and I’m glad we had the conversation, because it gave me a chance to review and document my opposition to nuclear power.   You’ll notice I have done what I could to steer away from current controversies raging over the level of danger from the Fukushima plant and the toxic legacy of Chernobyl.  From my point of view, it is irrelevant whether fifty or a million people died as a result of Chernobyl, or whether northwest Japan has become a short-term or long-term evacuation area.  If neither one of these disasters had happened, nuclear power would still be a foolish idea, an incredibly inefficient amount of bureaucracy, centralization of power, and concentration of resources just to boil some water.

Monkey clever, but not very wise.  We had better do better than that.

music:  Afrikaan Dreamland, “Dance and Survive”


12 02 2011

The “eating locally” potluck that was canceled in December has 

finally been rescheduled!


the link will give you more details and a chance to RSVP


Spread knowledge of what can be locally grown and eaten fresh or preserved during Nashville Winter months.


Monday, February 21, 2011 6:30 PM


West Nashville UMC
4710 Charlotte Avenue
Nashville, TN 37209


11 12 2010


As Margaret Mead famously said,

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

The potluck didn’t happen due to the weather…a bit ironic to have a “transition” potluck cancelled because of extreme weather, eh?

This coming Monday, December 13, there will be a gathering of thoughtful, committed citizens, and you, dear reader, are invited.  The event will be a potluck dinner, so bring a dish or drink that is, or could be, grown or raised here in middle Tennessee.  Please note:  while I am a vegetarian, this is not necessarily a “vegetarian” event.  Cheese, eggs, turkey, beef, venison–if it’s your thing and it’s at least theoretically local, bring it.  Sorry, no pineapples, avocados, or tuna casseroles!  Catfish?  Of course!  Me, I’m bringing a bean dish.  I’ve seen truckloads of Tennessee-grown beans, and I ain’t just talking soy.

The dinner will take place from 6:30 pm until 9:00 pm at West Nashville United Methodist Church (4710 Charlotte Avenue), at the corner of 48th Avenue North and Charlotte Avenue.  Parking is across the street in front of Richland Library. Enter the Fellowship Hall next to McDonalds.  (McDonald’s! Oh, the irony!)

For more details, check out Transition Nashville’s meetup.com site, or the Cumberland-Green River Bioregional Council’s meetup.com site.

Nashville is a big city, and I think that ultimately it will take a great many neighborhood transition councils to really change the way we do things around here, but I’m not gonna hold my breath waiting for a mass movement.  I’m just gonna do my best to get something started, and trust that we will inspire people who are more talented at community organizing and politicking than I am–and, believe me, that’s not a high bar to set–to take this idea and run with it.

As far as I can tell, one of my gifts, such as it is, seems to be an ability to grasp and communicate the big picture–so what follows is the big picture, past and future, of the transition movement.  To the extent that I can translate that into specific examples, I’ll give you those as well.

It was twenty years ago today, you could say, that Tennessee’s two prize Alberts, Bates and Gore, first struck up the band on the subject of human-caused climate change and imminent resource depletion. Bates’ book, Climate in Crisis, published in 1990 with a forward by Gore, attracted notice mostly in the counterculture, although Gore did give a copy of it to every member of Congress.  (It would be interesting to know how many actually read it!)  Gore’s book, Earth in the Balance, which came out a couple of years later, became the first book by a US Senator since John Kennedy’s Profiles in Courage to make the New York York Times Bestseller list.

Unfortunately, Gore’s early effort, like his follow-up, An Inconvenient Truth, failed to inspire a working majority of either the politicians or the people of America to get up and dance to his tune. The reasons for that are legion, but the bottom line is this: due to our collective failure to sufficiently change our ways, we are beginning to feel the effects of climate change, not to mention resource depletion, AKA “Peak Oil,”and for the rest of our lives, we will have to deal with an increasingly erratic but overall warmer climate, while at the same time  the financial and material options available to us to cope with this change will  narrow and diminish. Climate scientists have published reams of statistics and “big picture” predictions. What I am going to explore here is what that may mean for our daily lives.

Let’s start in the garden. It’s a good place to start, because we’re probably all going to be spending a lot more time there in the future.  Our winters are overall going to be milder, but with the ice off the Arctic Ocean, there will be an increased possibility of heavy snow and extreme cold waves. At first glance, it may seem counterintuitive that a warmer Arctic will make our winters colder, but here’s the reason:  open water evaporates more readily than ice, and so, if the Arctic Ocean isn’t frozen, it will generate stronger storms that will push further south and east.  We’re seeing that now in the cold weather that is striking here, as well as northern Europe.  Last summer, we were all hot and dry.  Russia’s wheat crop burned in the fields, remember?  First time ever.

Here in Tennessee, we are on the boundary between the “polar continental” climate region, where weather is driven by  that Arctic pattern I was just talking about,  and the Gulf region, where the weather is sub-tropical, generated by evaporation from the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean, Pacific,and the South Atlantic Oceans.  As the planet heats up, they, too, are evaporating more, and all the water that goes up, comes down, in the form of tropical storms and hurricanes. Being on this boundary makes our weather in Tennessee especially difficult to predict, according to a NOAA meteorologist I once met.

This much is for certain: we can expect our summers to be hotter, with more erratic rainfall, and our winters, too, will be milder, but with more erratic cold snaps, like the one we’re currently riding out.  Hotter summers may shut down some traditional summer garden crops like tomatoes and peppers, which won’t set fruit if it’s too hot. We may find ourselves planting these as spring and fall crops. More tropical species like okra, black eyed peas, and sweet potatoes should continue to thrive. Did you know that sweet potato leaves can be cooked and eaten?  Overall warmer winters will make it easier to keep cool weather crops like spinach, kale, collards, and the many delicious types of oriental greens through the winter, especially with the aid of simple cold frames and hoop houses.

Our fruit tree menu may have to change somewhat. We are already near the southern boundary for successful apple growing, but pears, especially the oriental types, should continue to do well in Tennessee. Peaches, which bloom early, are likely to be even more chancy as our later winter/early spring weather becomes more erratic. Late freezes could be a problem for all perennial fruit crops. On the plus side, rabbiteye blueberries, which are native to north Florida, should continue to thrive, and if winter temperatures start to consistently stay above the 10 degree Fahrenheit mark, we will be able to add local  figs, oriental persimmons, jujubes, and pomegranates to our diet.  Yum!

More erratic weather patterns will not just be a hardship for local gardeners, however. As we saw in Russia and Pakistan last summer, entire countries may see their agriculture burned out or washed away. Here in America, we have not yet begun to feel the strain of food shortage, but I think that home gardeners would be wise to expand their production from “just” vegetables to staple crops—lots of winter squash, white and sweet potatoes, beans, and even grains. Field corn is fairly easy to grow, harvest, and grind. Diversifying your gardening efforts is probably the best way to insure that, whatever the weather, your garden will provide you with something to eat.

OK, that’s kind of “the good news.”  Let’s factor in a couple of other likelihoods:  a much-diminished economy, and increasing scarcity of oil-related products, which includes everything from gasoline to electronic devices to plastics and pharmaceuticals.

Our economy in this country is largely funded by money we borrow from China and the oil Sheikdoms of the Middle East.  They loan us money so we can keep buying oil and manufactured goods from them, but they are growing increasingly uncomfortable with this arrangement, and we may wake up one morning to find they have decided to quit financing the American way of life and world domination.  As I commented last month, even mainstream, middle-of-the road politicians like our Governor, Phil Bredesen, recognize this, although Bredesen and his interviewer didn’t explore its full significance.  Here’s my short take on it:

It all revolves around one simple statistic. We Americans, about 5% of the world’s population, consume about 25% of the world’s resources. That’s five times our fair share, and we are buying it on credit.  When we can no longer get that credit, the result will be an “adjustment”–a more equitable distribution of resources.  To be blunt,we will probably be (barely!) able to afford only our 5% fair share of the world’s resources.That’s an 80% reduction in the average American standard of living. If those to whom we owe money push hard to collect on our debts to them and take possession of chunks of our infrastructure, real estate, and remaining resources in lieu of cash payment, we will have even less.  For the wealthy few, it will not be so onerous, but for most of us it will be pretty severe, albeit hard to imagine from this side of the “adjustment.”

“The American Way of Life” will be over.  It has been sacrosanct, declared non-negotiable by every President since Ronald Reagan booted Jimmy Carter out for the cardinal sin of proposing to negotiate it.  (“The moral equivalent of war,” as Mr. Carter said.)  Oops….We have all but lost the war to maintain American hegemony.  It’s too late for negotiation, and it turns out the only alternative is unconditional surrender.

“Welcome to the third world, America!”

Ah, hubris…..must be time for a music break.

music:  Steve Earle, “Ashes to Ashes”

Okay, enough with the current situation already.  Looking in my crystal ball, what kind of future do I see?

I see that we are going to have to learn to get along better with each other, because we are likely to be living in larger groups and tighter quarters.  With less income and higher costs to heat and light houses, people will increasingly move in with friends and family because their only other option is homelessness. As Robert Frost wrote,

Home is the place where, when you have to go there,
They have to take you in.”

We will have to re-learn co-operation, and not just to grow our gardens and feed our faces.  We will need to co-operate to create or obtain the goods we need for our every-day lives, because we won’t be able to buy Chinese goods from big-box stores any more.  We will need to co-operate to educate our children and each other–because a whole lot of us are going to have to learn a broad spectrum of new/old skills, the house-holding and homesteading skills we lost when our cultural norm became going out and working for money and buying things instead of staying home and making do.  And we will need to co-operate to take care of the ill and elderly, because hospitals  and “assisted living,” along with most other medical care, will be out of reach of all but the very wealthy.

The good news is, more of us will be born at home, and more of us will die at home, and more of us will attain the maturity that comes from familiarity with birth and death.  The bad news is, more of us will die earlier, from conditions that, currently, are rarely fatal.

We’re not going to have–and indeed, are already in the process of losing–universal access to private cars and the fuel, whether gasoline or electricity, to run them.  Cities and states will increasingly lose the ability to maintain public transportation, highways, sewers, water and gas lines, and police forces.   Warm weather and drought may curtail power plant operations–both nuclear and conventional electric generating stations require plenty of cool water to operate, and if they can’t get it,  your electric stove, your air conditioner, your lights, and your computer will become increasingly unreliable. My lights, computer, and electric stove and water heater won’t work either.  This troubles my sleep.

As I write these words, our government is watering down the value of our currency.  They call it “quantitative easing.”  This is just one of the things that is alienating the countries we borrow money from. If the U.S.’s credit rating and currency value drop much further, other countries will be able to outbid us for oil.   If our economy loses access to the level of oil we are dependent on, America will come undone so fast it will take your breath away.   Walking and bicycling will be increasingly important modes of transportation, but, to paraphrase Gary Snyder,  the most appropriate thing for most of us will be staying home as much as possible, making do with what’s at hand and enjoying the company of our house-mates and neighbors.

Have some more blueberries!

Boy, that neighbor kid sure can play the guitar!  He’s right proud of that guitar of his–weeded the woodworker’s garden all summer to pay it off.

First step in staying warm next winter–sharpen up the ax and the crosscut saw.

I’m gonna take this bundle of rags to the paper maker.  Sure am glad we’ve got a neighborhood mule to tote ’em for us.

Internet? Telephones?  The U.S. mail?  I remember when we used to  have those!  Man, we was living high on the hog in those days!

A pound of sugar?  Wow, how’d you come up with that?

I hope I haven’t scared you half to death with this little rant, but it should be nothing new to my regular listeners and readers.  “Transition” people are, understandably, a bit skittish about disclosing what it is we are transitioning into.  It was Chellis Glendinning who wrote about needing a twelve-step program to break peoples’ addiction to consumer culture.  One of the basic maxims of the twelve-step approach is “one day at a time,” and in this essay I have perhaps violated that precept.

Some may question what this kind of “doomerism”  has to do with politics in general or the Green Party in specific.  Here’s my response:

The Republicans and Democrats are completely unwilling to face these issues.  Somebody’s got to point out that not just the Emperor, but the Empire, has no clothes, and that dirty but necessary job has fallen by default to the Green Party.  Although we are still pretty much locked out of national or even state politics, we are slowly increasing our influence at the local level, which is where a great deal of what actually needs to happen to facilitate transition gets decided.

But you don’t have to sign up for the Green Party to join the Transition movement, which, among other things, involves a transition out of politics as we have always known it–along with the rest of the familiar, if deeply alienated, reality that we have become, however comfortably or uncomfortably, accustomed to.

One day at a time.  Today, all you “thoughtful, committed citizens” who can make it are invited to a potluck dinner.  That potluck dinner is Monday, December 13, at West Nashville United Methodist Church (4710 Charlotte Avenue), at the corner of 48th Avenue North and Charlotte Avenue.  Parking is across the street in front of Richland Library. Enter the Fellowship Hall next to McDonalds.   (Mc Donald’s–remember them?  They used to be everywhere.)

For more details, check out Transition Nashville’s meetup.com site, or the Cumberland-Green River Bioregional Council’s meetup.com site.

If you can’t make our potluck, maybe you can get together with your friends and neighbors and start your own ball rolling.  That would be great.  It’s gonna take a lot of balls to pull off a smooth transition.  (Ladies, please don’t let my little joke put you off!)  There’s a lot of insight, skill, and vision in this city, and sharing them only increases their power.  It’s been twenty years since Al and Albert first raised a warning..  It’s time to let it grow.

music: The Beatles, “Sgt.Pepper>A Little Help From My Friends”


9 01 2010

It looks like the climate conference in Copenhagen produced good news and bad news.

The bad news was that, as the final weeks, months, or years (nobody knows!) tick down before we have passed over enough “tipping points” to fall into climate chaos, the governments of the world were unable to agree about how to stop, slow, end, or reverse the process.  It’s not that we don’t know what  to do, it’s that there is no way to make those who are doing most of  the damage–the government/industrial complexes of the US, China, India, Canada, and Russia–there is no way to make them–or is it us?– stop. Everybody agreed to keep talking,  but the climate time bomb is still ticking, and we have no idea when it’s going to go off or how much damage it will do.

The good news is that the governments and big businesses of the world were unable to come to the agreement that some had hoped to ratify–an agreement that was more of a mutual suicide pact than something that would actually have curbed, or even helped the world adjust to, global climate change.

It kind of reminds me of the old anti-gun law bumper sticker that read “Ill give up my guns when you pry them from my cold, dead hands.”

But this isn’t about just about guns, it’s about the whole growth-oriented worldwide consumer economy.  The upper classes and their hypnotized minions in the bourgeoisie and what’s left of the working class (Wow, I sound like an old-time commie, don’t I!?), all those under the spell of eternal growth, either don’t care how many people have to die for them to keep enjoying their high standard of living, or at best think there is some technological breakthrough just over the horizon that will make it work.  I have a feeling they are very, very mistaken.

As I understand it, here’s how the breakdown happened:

The Chinese see themselves, probably correctly, as the next great superpower, and are unwilling to let anything stand in their way.  China’s  leaders  also know that they need to keep their economy moving, or they will have hundreds of millions of very unhappy people chewing on their asses.  Are they aware of the fact that their growth plan will melt the Himalayan ice cap and leave them (and India) without an adequate water supply?  Probably.  Are they planning to  negotiate for, or maybe just seize,  far eastern Russia’s copious water resources?  Probably.  Do they figure that India and the rest of south Asia, who are dependent on the glacier-fed Mekong, Irawaddy, Bhramaputra, Ganges, and Indus Rivers, but do not have easy access to Siberia, will thus be made more dependent on China and thus increase China’s world hegemony?   Probably.

Will things work out according to their plans?   Don’t bet on it.  According to one witness, it was the Chinese who insisted that the commitment to an 80% cut in carbon emissions by 2050, as well as any other concrete targets,  be dropped.  China will not be immune to the disastrous consequences of this power play.

The US government and its major industrial corporations (who are not nearly as separate as they want us to believe) are still trying to be number one.  The US came to the conference with a “commitment” to goals that would protect its own financial interests but not the little people of the world, which seems to be the typical strategy of the Obama administration.  Hillary Clinton’s offer to create a fund to help countries deal with climate change was so hedged with conditions that it amounted to blackmail.  Fortunately, the US position in the world is slipping so fast that few countries are likely to take the bait.  Meanwhile, however, the back room, lowest-common denominator “accord” that Obama negotiated with the Chinese did more to trash the UN, the possibility of controlling carbon emissions,  and America’s standing in the world than all the fussing the Bush Junta and their bulldog John Bolton  ever dreamed of.

So where does that leave us?  On our own.  The big boys are too involved with preserving their own asses and assets to think about or care for us.   .  It’s time to learn to power down, to transition into the post-affluence, post-petroleum, climate-altered twenty-first century,   We need to learn to live  locally, to be both self reliant and interdependent.  We need to learn how to keep working with old friends and how to make new ones.  There’s already a group gathering here in Nashville to do this–in fact, there probably need to be several–it’s a big city.

I can tell you about two upcoming events that will address this need for local organization.  The first is this coming Tuesday, January 12th, at the Celebrity Scientology Center, 1130 8th Avenue South, at 7:30 PM.  Albert Bates, who attended the Copenhagen meeting, will be talking about where we go from here.  Albert combines brilliant, innovative insight with a great sense of humor, and I think this meeting will be very inspirational and should not be missed.  This event is free.

But, if that’s a little short-notice for you, save Saturday, January 30th, when local activist Susan Shann, who is working to birth the “Transition Nashville” movement, will talk at the Cumberland-Green River Basin Bioregional Council’s winter meeting.   She’s not as funny as Albert, but she sings better.  Susan will presenting between 1:30 and 3PM at Brookemeade Congregational Church, at 700 Bresslyn Road, and there will be other events and workshops as well.  Check out the whole schedule at http://www.meetup.com/Cumberland-Green-River-Bioregional-Council/ .  This event is also free.

Hope to see you there!

music:  The Grateful Dead, “Throwing Stones

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