Nature Needs a New Pronoun: To Stop the Age of Extinction, Let’s Start by Ditching “It”

Monarch butterfly

Singing whales, talking trees, dancing bees, birds who make art, fish who navigate, plants who learn and remember. We are surrounded by intelligences other than our own, by feathered people and people with leaves. But we’ve forgotten. There are many forces arrayed to help us forget—even the language we speak.

I’m a beginning student of my native Anishinaabe language, trying to reclaim what was washed from the mouths of children in the Indian Boarding Schools. Children like my grandfather. So I’m paying a lot of attention to grammar lately. Grammar is how we chart relationships through language, including our relationship with the Earth.

Imagine your grandmother standing at the stove in her apron and someone says, “Look, it is making soup. It has gray hair.” We might snicker at such a mistake; at the same time we recoil. In English, we never refer to a person as “it.” Such a grammatical error would be a profound act of disrespect. “It” robs a person of selfhood and kinship, reducing a person to a thing.

Read more

The Oceans Are Dying

OceanicPollution

I am an admirer of Dahr Jamail’s reporting. In this article, Oceans In Crisis, Jamail tells us that we are losing the oceans. http://truth-out.org/news/item/29930-oceans-in-crisis-one-woman-will-cross-the-pacific-to-raise-awareness He reports on the human destruction of the oceans. It is a real destruction with far-reaching consequences.

That fact is indisputable.

From my perspective the human destruction of the oceans is yet more evidence of the ruinous nature of private capitalism. In capitalism there is no thought for the future of the planet and humanity, only for short-term profits and bonuses. Consequently, social costs are ignored.

Capitalism can work if social or external costs can be included in the costs of production. However, the powerful corporations are able to block a socially functioning capitalism with their political campaign contributions.

Consequently, capitalists themselves make the capitalist system dysfunctional. We may have reached the point where the external costs of production are larger than the value of capitalist output. Economist Herman Daly makes a convincing case that this is the fact.

Read more

US Climate Plan ‘Treats the Wound But Does Not Stop the Bleeding’

Global-Warming-3845

With bold language and take-charge rhetoric, the White House on Tuesday unveiled its plan to cut U.S. carbon emissions by roughly one third over the next decade, a goal that environmentalists say is commendable but is not enough to keep global warming beneath the critical 2°C threshold.

Submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) ahead of a midnight deadline, the plan joins other national commitments that will serve as the building blocks for an international climate treaty to be decided during the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP21) scheduled for December in Paris.

“We welcome the U.S. submission as a first step, but it would not do enough to avert global catastrophe,” Greenpeace legislative representative Kyle Ash said in a press statement. “[The plan] begins to treat the wound, but does not stop the bleeding.”

President Obama’s blueprint, known as the Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC), lays out several existing policies, such as fuel economy standards and household energy efficiency measures, as well as ongoing efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The plan champions pending rules to limit methane emissions from the oil and gas industry as well as the EPA’s Clean Power Plan to curb carbon pollution from existing power plants.

Following these measures, the White House says, “we can take on climate change, grow the economy, and create more jobs and opportunity for the American people at the same time.”

“Climate change is real, it is being driven by human activity, and it is not a problem any one country can solve on its own,” that statement continues.

However, responding to the plan, critics argue that as the world’s second largest polluter, the measures simply do not go far enough to tackle the extent of the crisis.

Read more

Shell is ‘Psychopathic,’ Says Former UK Climate Change Envoy

Shell

The U.K.’s former top climate change diplomat says Shell and other oil companies are fighting tooth and nail to stifle climate change action. The United Kingdom’s former climate change envoy John Ashton has accused Shell of engineering a “psychopathic” attempt to block action on climate change. In an open letter to Shell Chief Executive Ben van Beurden published by the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper Tuesday, Ashton said the energy giant’s recently announced roadmap to cleaning up its environmental portfolio is nothing more than veiled attempt to preserve the “status quo.” Ashton accused Beurden of using a cynical argument that “the economic and moral cost” of phasing out fossil fuels “would exceed the benefit in climate change avoided.” “In reality your authority is compromised by your obvious desire to cling to what you know, whatever the cost to society,” he stated. Ashton continued by arguing, “For a leader in the oil and gas industry to call for continued dependence on oil and gas will sound to most like special pleading.” The letter was in response to a speech issued by Beurden in February.

Read more