Thursday, May 31, 2007

Simply put...

Okay, you asked for the secret of life? Here it is -- well, not the secret of life, exactly, but the secret of living meaningfully.

I have heard it said,

Man and the world are not separate. Every action we take affects the world in some way. We do not live in a vacuum; everything in life is interrelated.

Man has the distinction of being able to make choices in his actions. We can choose to act positively or negatively, in order to affect the other aspects of the world for better or for worse. The wise person will make choices based on respect of this law, and of the other beings (and so-called non-beings) in the world. If we simply act with respect, and a concern for making choices that benefit the world as a whole, happiness will increase. That is guaranteed.

I have tried not to make this preachy, or sutra-like, but the truth of it is obvious. Act with carelessness and the world becomes sloppy. Act with anger and the world becomes hostile. Act with kindness, and the world becomes gentle and friendly. It can be seen in everything we do. Sometimes it takes time for an action to generate a reaction, but eventually it will, and the world (and you) will reap the benefit, or suffer the consequences.

See the world as your friend and ally, and don't disrespect it. It will be good to you in return.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Getting back on track

I'm getting a little off the track here. My idea for this blog was to describe a way of looking at life which emphasized a personal relationship between man and the earth, to show that living a good life meant becoming connected to the land (not so much the planet as the ground under your feet), and to one's fellow human, and other, beings. This is the way the Indians live, as do many aboriginal cultures around the world, and it's where Western civilization seems to have gone a bit askew. The people in Western culture, and those of other so-called developed parts of the world, who understand this the best are the family farmers, and the people who live in and support the agricultural community. These people know best what the earth physically consists of, what it provides, and what its needs are. They know how to nuture and care for the earth, and therefore they know how to sustain it, to love it in the deepest sense.

Unfortunately our civilization has evolved with a highly developed sense of greed and acquisitiveness, and an addict's need for power and dominion over each other, and over the earth. Simply living in harmony with the earth has become inadequate; now a man must own a piece of it, along with the animals, minerals, and vegetation contained within it. Rather than simply celebrating his existence, he becomes protective of it, and instead of being able to share the earth's bounty with his brothers and sisters, now he must trade for it. In order to trade effectively he must be in a position of advantage; to increase his stock of tradeable goods, corners are cut, eventually leading to the degradation of the earth itself. This is how we have found ourselves with the problems of global warming, disappearing topsoils (large factory farms don't rotate crops, a practice which allows topsoil to replenish itself), depleted populations of fish and marine life, and massive pollution of the earth and its waters and skies. A whole new economy has developed around the remediation of these problems.

These are great concerns, and one can see how easy it is to gravitate toward discussion of them. However, this is not why I originally started this blog. I will, of course, continue to discuss important issues as they arise, but henceforth I want to get back to the blog's original purpose of examining the small, personal economy, and leave the bulk of the discussion of global problems to the experts in such matters. In the meantime, please look over some of my linked websites, especially the collection of Wendell Berry's writings. The life of this Kentucky farmer/naturalist/economist can serve as a great example for developing a relationship to the earth that is grounded and meaningful. He reminds us not to bother so much about the larger world, but to tend carefully the part that we live on. Rather than "think globally, act locally", Berry tells us to "think locally and act locally". To live in such a way is so much more fulfilling for all concerned -- the earth as well as ourselves.

Another Sneak Attack on Organic Standards

Followed a link from the intrepid Treehugger to the website of the Organic Consumers Association to this story:

WASHINGTON, DC- The USDA has announced a controversial proposal, with absolutely no input from consumers, to allow 38 new non-organic ingredients in products bearing the "USDA Organic" seal. Most of the ingredients are food colorings derived from plants that are supposedly not "commercially available" in organic form. But at least three of the proposed ingredients, apparently backed by beer companies, including Anheuser-Busch, and pork and food processors, represent a serious threat to organic standards, and have raised the concerns of the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), as well as a number of smaller organic companies and organic certifiers. (Full story)

There is a petition and a form for public comment on the site. Unfortunately, time has virtually run out for public comment (only open for seven days) although there is a request by the association for an extension of the comment period, so we may get a chance to put our two cents in.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Waste-to-energy is here! Write your Senators

The idea of waste-to-energy has been around for a long time -- at least since the time I was a budding young failure of an ethical investor, many years ago. Now, it seems its time has come; actually, its time came a long time ago, when the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the earth's atmosphere started growing at an exponential rate, but the technology was still very much in the experimental stage. Now, however, there are 89 plants online nationwide, and more in development. The time that has now come is the time for us to write our governmental officials and make sure they are on the bandwagon, for waste-to-energy is destined to become an important part of our renewable energy picture.

Today's waste-to-energy plants provide efficient trash disposal of about 90,000 tons of solid waste nationwide every day, while converting the compounds contained therein into enough methane-free electricity to power 2.3 million homes across the country. In this regard, waste-to-energy plants actually provide a reduction in greenhouse gases over ordinary landfill disposal methods. Ferrous and non-ferrous metals are also recovered in a more energy efficient method than mining virgin ore, providing a further reduction in greenhouse gases. Carbon dioxide emission is also avoided by eliminating the need for the combustion of coal or oil in the energy generation process.

The Integrated Waste Services Association has just opened their Legislative Action Center, where you can contact your Senators and urge them to consider waste-to-energy as part of your state's overall energy profile. The IWSA website has far more information than I can possibly include here. Interesed people are encouraged to visit there to find out more about current trends and technologies.

Friday, May 18, 2007

New books

Al Gore -- The Assault on Reason

Al Gore moves beyond pure environmentalism and explores how the human environment has been assaulted by an aggressive, conservative agenda, resulting in a breakdown of reason.

Paul Hawken -- Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being, and How No One Saw it Coming

The noted envioronmentalist, social activist and green entrepreneur examines the worldwide movement for social change.

Click on book title for more info or to order from

Tuesday, May 8, 2007


The following are the corporate members of USCAP:

(new members in bold)

American International Group
Boston Scientific
Deere & Co.
Dow Chemical Co.
General Motors Corp.
Johnson & Johnson
Marsh Inc.
Shell and Siemens Corp.

BP America
Duke Energy
Florida Power & Light
General Electric
Lehman Brothers
Pacific Gas & Electric
PNM Resources

These companies are worthy of your letters of praise and encourgement.

Joint call from business for aggressive pollution cuts

From Environmental Defense:

Business Coalition for Climate Action Doubles

The unprecedented coalition calling for a cap and trade system to combat climate change, the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP), has more than doubled its membership.

In a move that transforms the political landscape, General Motors is the first automobile manufacturer to join the coalition of high-level corporate and environmental leaders. The group's mission is to urge the federal government to:

* cut greenhouse gas emissions 60-80 percent,
* create business incentives and,
* act swiftly and thoughtfully.

USCAP member companies represent industries critical to slowing climate change, including car manufacturing, utilities, chemical production and manufacturing. Twelve new companies join the original members, bringing the number of corporate partners to 22.