Paul Deaton of Blog for Iowa will give a series of four public lectures about personal finance, the environment and nuclear abolition between April 19 and 24. If you are nearby, please consider attending one of these events:
April 19, 11 a.m.: “Alternative Living: Focus on Finances” with Solon resident and writer Paul Deaton. Paul gave up his 9 to 5 job to focus on his writing. He will describe his creative methods of putting food on the table and how he covers his expenses to survive and thrive. Part of the American Library Association Money Smart Week, Solon Public Library, 320 W. Main St., Solon, Iowa.
April 19, 1 until 3 p.m.: Soap Box Speech on the environment: “Mount Tambora, Mount St. Helens and Nuclear Famine” at the Celebration of Life at Old Brick, 20 East Market St., Iowa City, Iowa.
April 23, 6:30 p.m.: “Earth Week: Climate Reality in Iowa” at 220East, 220 East Fourth St., Waterloo, Iowa.
April 24, 6:30 p.m.: “Earth Week: Climate Reality in Iowa” at the Independence Public Library, 805 1st St. East, Independence, Iowa.
For more information email Paul Deaton here.
I will admit from the outset that I have not read Tom Brokaw’s book on “The Greatest Generation.” However, I have heard many discussions of those years and indeed did grow up in the home with parents from that generation. Of course our neighborhood and school were filled with parents who were the core of that group. Living in Iowa City we were right in the midst of some of the thousands who came to the University of Iowa on the GI Bill. Some of my best friends’ parents were in Iowa City on the GI Bill.
From what I understand, the “Greatest Generation” had three life experiences in common. The first was coming of age during the Great Depression. The hard times when food was hard to come by for many. Having some faith in leadership and democracy were essential for digging out of the Depression eventually.
The second life experience that this generation shared was the horrors of World War Two. No matter whether you were in the war itself or back in the US, nearly every American was involved in the war effort and most had kin doing the fighting. This was an experience that was fully shared among the population.
The last shared experience was remaking society and rebuilding after the war. Once again, this was a task that each and every American was involved in. The aforementioned GI Bill was one of the cornerstones of gearing up for a peacetime economy and staving off future wars. Americans of that generation once more took up this task almost as though it was another war. They started businesses, joined groups, sat on school boards and city councils and state governments – one way or another they worked together to make America into the the greatest country that ever existed on earth.
There was an equality among the working folks and those who ran the businesses and shops. There were common purposes and there were little to no barriers between classes. (I must make a point here that this was in white America. The barriers between races were fraying and ready to blow). Go into a restaurant or a bar on a Saturday night in the Midwest and there would be a good mix of folks from all walks of society.
The difference in wages and salaries was not so great that one group could exclude itself from society. Besides, those folks in the bar or restaurant were probably their customers or neighbors. There also seemed to be a shared general vision for the country – building highways and great buildings, homes and good schools. One major focus was that the kids would get what they didn’t have – good education and medical care and no fear of starving in the land of plenty. What helped make the Greatest Generation great was their ability to prepare for the future and their willingness to sacrifice today for a better tomorrow. They also created jobs in America for Americans.
So now we dial forward fifty to sixty years. As often happens the generation below that first generation doesn’t share that vision and the second generation removed has almost no clue as to why anyone would have had such a vision in the first place. The things that drove that first group has never even been experienced by them, so they have no way to relate to the hunger, the fear, the threats that drove their grandparents. Any connection that existed between business owners and their workers has long been stripped away so that the only commonality they have is a paycheck.
And that common vision for society is long gone. The “we are all in it together” atmosphere has long since been replaced by the attitude of “I am getting mine and screw everyone else.” The only vision many have, especially in the wealthy classes is that next $ sign. Any vision that includes giving back to society is quickly blown away. For the past 35 years these folks have been in charge of government and have turned a government that once responded to people into one that is beholden to those with dollars. Those with the dollars are well aware of that and extract favors for the dollars they grant.
We continue to be mired in a recession that is exacerbated by Republicans in Congress who want to punish America for electing Obama. As I think back on those of the Greatest Generation who served from town councils on up to the White House and who laid out a vision of a future America, I am sure that they did not want to build a great country only to give it away piece by piece to the rich and damn all others. We should be in outrage about what has happened to our parents’ and grandparents’ dreams.
There is plenty of work that needs to be done in this country to get back in line with the essence of the dreams the Greatest Generation had. We are no longer #1 in anything but war. There is work to be done to bring our health care system up to where it should be with access for all. There is work to be done in replacing aging water lines and sewer pipes and replacing them with environmentally sound systems. The pipes and sewer lines should be made in the United States. There is work to be done to run fiber optic line to make the internet accessible to all as a common carrier. Their is work to be done in upgrading rail as the most efficient means of transport for materials and possibly people.
One of the most important places where there is work to be done is to get off our dependence on fossil fuels and create the next generation of power sources. This alone would create a huge amount of jobs. If we couple that with a policy that buys American made first, we would have a true “win-win” for the USA.
America faced up to the challenges after World War 2 and they were not afraid to be bold. They also were not afraid to tax equitably for the good of society. We have been at a cross roads for awhile. So far we have let the wealthy choke the rest of us so they can keep their wealth while polluting the environment and starving their employees. It is now time to act as the Greatest Generation once did. It is time to elect leaders who will lead the planning and execution of our next resurgence for America.
Joint Statement by Senator Rob Hogg and Representative Bobby Kaufmann on Keystone XL Pipeline:
BIPARTISAN OPPOSITION TO KEYSTONE PIPELINE IN IOWA BECAUSE OF EXPECTED USE OF EMINENT DOMAIN
DES MOINES– Two Iowa state legislators– Senator Rob Hogg (D-Cedar Rapids) and Representative Bobby Kaufmann (R-Wilton)– joined today to call on Congress to oppose the proposed Keystone XL pipeline because of the expected use of eminent domain in the development of the project.
“I urge you to stand with those land-owners who do not want this pipeline running through their property,” wrote Rep. Kaufmann in a letter to Congressman Dave Loebsack of Iowa’s Second Congressional District. “The interests in oil profits should not supersede the rights of property owners.”
“It is not in America’s national interests to allow a foreign oil company to condemn American farms and ranches to take foreign oil to the Gulf Coast for sale on the global market,” wrote Sen. Hogg in a letter to Congressman Bruce Braley of Iowa’s First Congressional District. “The Keystone pipeline threatens America’s land, water, and wildlife– Congress should say no, the State Department should say no, and President Obama should say no.”
Senator Hogg and Representative Kaufmann’s letters were also submitted to the U.S. State Department in advance of the March 7 deadline for public comments on the Environmental Impact Statement on the proposal. The public can submit comments at the following web address: http://www.keystonepipeline-xl.state.gov/
Download PDF of Senator Hogg’s letter to Rep. Bruce Braley here.
Download PDF of Rep. Kaufmann’s letter to Rep. Dave Loebsack here.
There is a petition to Winneshiek County Board of Supervisors: John Logsdon, Dennis Karlsbroten, Mark Kuhn, Floyd Ashbacher, and Dean Thompson, which says:
“We, the people of Winneshiek County, call for a rights-based ordinance banning industrial frac sand extraction and processing.
NO FRAC SAND MINING. Period!”
Will you sign this petition? Click here
Frac sand mining and processing cause long-term economic and environmental destruction.
To prevent this imminent danger we must act now to protect the health and integrity of our community.
For more information, please go to: CommunityRightsAlliance.org
Previous BFIA posts about fracking in Iowa
On Thursday, Jan. 16, the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works will hold a hearing entitled, “Review of the President’s Climate Action Plan,” begging the question, if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
A well credentialed panel is scheduled to appear, including administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Gina McCarthy. The hearing is important mostly to generate interest in a conversation about climate change that is on life support on Capitol Hill. (For more information about the hearing, click here). Who will be listening?
There aren’t enough votes in the 113th U.S. Congress to put a price on carbon emissions, something that is essential to slowing them. Recently, U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) announced formation of a task force to revive talk about climate change in the Congress, and to defend President Obama’s Climate Action Plan.
The goals of the task force are modest— introducing some small-scale bills intended to “use the bully pulpit of our senate offices to achieve (a) wakeup call,” Boxer said. She added, “we believe that climate change is a catastrophe that’s unfolding before our eyes and we want Congress to take off the blindfolds.” What will come of this year’s task force is unclear, but anyone paying attention can see the disruptive effects of changing climate on our society. However, as a writer on Daily Kos pointed out, it is another task force in another year, and legislation mitigating the causes of climate change, or dealing with its effects, is expected to be dead on arrival because the votes aren’t there.
Boxer has it right that people on the hill, and in the public, are asleep about climate change. The reason is the money spent by climate deniers. In December, Drexel University released a study of 140 different foundations funding an effort to delay action on climate change. The so-called Climate Change Counter Movement (CCCM) spent more than $900 million from 2003 through 2010. Author Robert J. Brulle wrote that the study was, “an analysis of the funding dynamics of the organized effort to prevent the initiation of policies designed to limit the carbon emissions that are driving anthropogenic climate change. The efforts of the CCCM span a wide range of activities, including political lobbying, contributions to political candidates, and a large number of communication and media efforts that aim at undermining climate science.” The efforts of CCCM have been successful, insofar as “only 45 percent of the U.S. public accurately reported the near unanimity of the scientific community about anthropogenic climate change,” according to the study.
What does “near unanimity” mean? James Powell recently evaluated 2,258 peer-reviewed scientific articles about climate change written by 9,136 authors between November 2012 and December 2013. Only one article rejected anthropogenic global warming. This may not represent a consensus, but consensus is not the purpose of science. Science is to explain the world to us, and we don’t need to strike the word “near” to understand climate change is real, it’s happening now, human activity is causing it, and scientists believe that is the case.
I am not sure whether a group of rich politicians posturing in the Congress will make a difference. However, it’s the only game in town. They are willing to take positive action to support the president’s climate action plan, which doesn’t rely on new legislation that isn’t in the cards anyway. While not hopeful of meaningful action, fingers are crossed, and the game is on.
Following is this afternoon’s press release from the League of Conservation Voters:
WASHINGTON, D.C.– League of Conservation Voters (LCV) president Gene Karpinski released this statement on the creation of the Senate Climate Action Task Force, a group chaired by Senators Boxer and Whitehouse that includes more than a dozen senators committed to pushing for action on climate change:
“Big Oil and corporate polluters have worked with their allies in Congress to prevent action on climate change for far too long. This task force is the latest sign that environmental allies in Congress are fighting back, standing up for basic science and pushing for action on climate change. This is the type of strong leadership we need if Congress is finally going to get serious about addressing the climate crisis and meeting our moral obligation to future generations. We thank Senators Boxer, Whitehouse, Cardin, Sanders, Klobuchar, Merkley, Franken, Blumenthal, Schatz, Murphy, Heinrich, King, Markey, and Booker for speaking out on climate change today and look forward to continuing to work with them to address this vitally important issue.”
Some Random Holiday Thoughts
Decided not to go off on a long winded rant today. The holiday atmosphere has me laid back and avoiding deep thoughts as if they were infectious bacteria. I know at some point I will have to pick up the armor once again. But until then, can I sleep just a few more minutes, please, Mom, please?
Over some light-hearted conversation with a friend we concluded that in a century the best we may hope for our legacy is that we are at least listed in someone’s genealogy. Except for a few really extraordinary folks, that has been the fate for 99.999% of us. So when we look at the importance we place on some things in this world, looking at the long view really puts it in perspective.
So does this:
So I think my time next year will be best spent not in accumulating wealth or notoriety but in doing my part in helping people to understand that through working together all humans can have a better life rather than just a few of us having a fabulous life at a cost to all others. It is a fight as old as mankind, but always one worth fighting.
One of our priorities this next year has to be keeping the planet habitable, not just for humans but for all creatures, plant or animal. As noted in the picture above we occupy a very small piece of the universe. At present we don’t have the capability to just move on to another world, so we best take care of what we have. Most of us care about our house and our cars and keep them in good repair. We need to extend that care to our real home, the earth.
The youngest of our family will be 4 next year. This means that he will be an adult in 2034 and a full contributing adult from @ 2040 to 2075. This means that decisions made today will directly affect his quality of life. It is well past times that governments make rules concerning pollution and equitable distribution of resources. We are a democracy and the majority should rule, not those with the most money.
We all need a few days to turn our minds from the day-to-day activities of just surviving (for many of us anymore) to think outside of ourselves and consider the long range. Believe me, the greedy and corporate types among us have made long range plans that don’t include most of humanity.
Grab some time this weekend to do some thinking. Next week will come at you with life again. If you haven’t given long range plans some thought you will be passing another year without setting sights on some goals to work toward. Years become decades and the next thing you know the chance has passed to make a difference.
Oddly enough, I would like to thank Fox News for making me react to one of their ploys to put fear into the masses for helping me to want to make some plans. Fox’s silly, inane war on Christmas has caused me to do a re-assessment on much of what had been background music in my life. One of those bits of background music has been the whole trappings of Christmas. Some of our customs have changed, many haven’t, but we now do them with purpose.
We have expanded this to many parts of our life. Things that were important yesterday are no longer important. Other things have taken on a much greater importance.
All this to wish all you folks a good year next year. And let’s all work to make the world better for all in America and the world.
And do try to keep a smile on your face.
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), one of the most well-known and successful non-profits in the world, has endorsed the Great March for Climate Action. The NRDC has spent the last 40-plus years fighting for environmental causes through political action, grassroots activism and hands-on work. They have more than 1 million activists and members in their network, all working to preserve the environment and fight actions that would harm the Earth.
NRDC President Frances Beinecke writes: “We have an obligation to protect future generations from the dangers of the climate crisis. I’m excited to endorse the mission of the Great March for Climate Action, to raise awareness around climate change and to galvanize citizens and our elected leaders to act. To stop climate change we need to end our dependence on all fossil fuels and replace them with 100 percent clean energy as soon as possible. We are encouraged by the dedication of people willing to march three thousand miles to advance this goal.”
In addition to all the outstanding endorsements we have received, having an organization as well-respected as the NRDC in our corner is a big deal. Their support, means we are on the right track and our endeavor will yield great results!
The Great March for Climate Action
– stepping forward for our Planet, our Future –
Barbara Schlachter is a founding member of 100 Grannies for a Livable Future, Iowa City Climate Advocates and Citizens Climate Lobby. The following guest opinion appeared in the Nov. 14, 2013 edition of the Iowa City Press Citizen. It is re-printed here with the author’s permission.
November is Remembrance month: All Saints and All Souls and the Day of the Dead, then Veterans Day, known as Remembrance Day in Britain.
Now we are looking forward to Thanksgiving, which is a time of great feasting with many families traveling many miles to do this together and to remember the importance of being family. It seems as though it also ought to be a day of remembering farm families who labor to provide the food for this feasting as well as remembering the earth itself and her blessed bounty.
Harvest time used to be a great occasion for rejoicing because it wasn’t always a sure thing. Many things can go wrong with a year’s crops. Most of us are too far removed, even in Iowa, to appreciate how utterly miraculous and vulnerable our food supply is. But this year we have had some hard reminders: flood and then drought and a report from Iowa scientists that climate change is a rising threat to Iowa agriculture.
Estimates are that we will lose the ability to produce food by 2 percent a decade even as we know that world population still is on the increase.
The Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll released earlier in November reported that fully 75 percent of farmers think climate change is occurring, up from 69 percent in 2011. Yet only 16 percent think human activity is the reason for this. Perhaps the poll was taken before the release of the International Panel on Climate Change’s conclusions that scientists around the world are 95 percent sure that human activity is responsible.
If you believe that climate change is real, but human activity doesn’t cause it, then you will most likely concentrate your efforts on adaptation. There has been a lot of talk lately about our need to prepare for the dire conditions that are coming, which to my mind takes us away from the most important prior question: what are we going to do to reverse them.
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) funded by fossil fuel giants like Exxon Mobil and the Koch brothers now say that “Global climate change is inevitable.”
This is different from denying that it is happening, and perhaps we should at least be thankful for that. But they go on to suggest that reducing carbon emissions won’t matter because it isn’t caused by human activity. So they have introduced legislation in a dozen states to repeal renewable electricity standards passed by those states. Fortunately, no state that has passed an RES has ever repealed one.
Iowa leads the nation in wind energy, with nearly 30 percent of our energy coming from those beautiful wind turbines you see when you drive west on Interstate 80. This non-emitting form of energy will make a difference in climate change.
This is mitigation, not adaptation. Both will be necessary, but the most important thing in the long run is to do everything we can to slow and eventually cease our fossil fuel activity.
For this reason I support a fee and dividend program that would tax carbon at its point of origin and return the tax money to the American people. This would create a market-based solution to energy. As the true cost of fossil fuels becomes operative, wind and solar and geothermal would benefit from a more level playing field.
It is a bipartisan strategy that keeps us from putting all our resources into adaptation to what we can never finally ever adapt to, not only because of the trillions of dollars required but also because the earth’s systems that support our food could not finally endure.
Fossil fuel intensive farming might seem to be one of our biggest obstacles in the effort to reduce greenhouse gases. But a report from the UN Environment Program released on Nov. 12 says that there are many ways agriculture can cut its emissions drastically and contribute to environmental sustainability and higher yields.
This is a hopeful direction for all of us.
An open meeting to gather public input on projects, goals and priorities for Iowa’s rivers and waterways will be held at the Johnson County Fairgrounds ISU Extension Building on Saturday, November 23rd, from 9:30 am—1:00 pm. Sign-in will start at 9:15.
The fairgrounds are located near the “Airport” exit from Highway 218 (4265 Oak Crest Hill Rd. SE).
The event is sponsored by Iowa River Friends on behalf of the Iowa Legislature’s Study Committee on Rivers and Waterways. The public is invited to contribute information and opinions about the topic of river restoration.The Legislature’s Study Committee will include this testimony and information in their Des Moines meeting in December to analyze the input from around the state.
Residents and organizations from the counties of Johnson, Iowa, Linn, Cedar, Muscatine and Washington are especially encouraged to participate, though people from other eastern Iowa locales are welcome. State legislators from the area as well as from the Study Committee have been invited.
Specifically, the Study Committee wants to determine: What kind of river and waterway projects should the state consider supporting? How should projects be prioritized? What goals should define Iowa’s river investment program? What improvements related to Iowa’s rivers should be measured?
At the beginning of the meeting there will be a short overview on river health issues in Iowa, and a charge from State Legislator Chuck Isenhart, a ranking member of the Environmental Protection Committee and liaison to the Watershed Planning Advisory Council. Individuals and groups who wish to make input should address one or more of the preceding questions related to river and waterway improvement. There will be opportunity for people to make written contributions to the Study Committee as well as oral comments on November 23rd.
For those who are unable to attend the meeting, you can submit feedback to the Iowa River Friends through the survey available here – Iowa Rivers & Waterways Survey. Responses to the survey are anonymously recorded and will be shared with the legislature’s study committee.
Iowa River Friends, formed early this year, is dedicated to improving, protecting, and enjoying the Iowa River, its creeks and streams. I.R.F. seeks to include a wide variety of interests and stakeholders in its membership and governance, and to act as a bulletin board for information pertaining to the watershed.
For more information about I.R.F. or the public meeting, contact the Iowa River Friends’ Executive Committee Members:
Mel Schlachter, Chairperson, 319.351.4380
Mary Skopec, Vice-Chair, 319.560.7365
Carol Sweeting, Secretary, 319.356.5164
Del Holland, Treasurer, 319.594.2957
Mary Beth Stevenson, Recording / Corresponding Secretary, 319.325.8593