Yemen may be where the Arab spring, this sweeping current of democratic upheaval in the Arabic-speaking world, takes a turn definitively toward violence or toward civic solutions. The regime of Ali Abdullah Saleh, a tribal dictatorship using feudal power tactics, based in the capital Sanaa, is now waging one war against extremist Islamists and another against non-violent pro-democracy protesters.
Yemen is an intensely poor country, likely to see its dwindling fresh water resources 100% depleted before any nation in the world, and could be the global home-base for jihadist extremists. Yemen could also, however, be a sparkling example of how peaceful democratic change can bring sustainable prosperity and security to an otherwise impoverished society ruled by feudal warlords and kleptocratic dictators.
Continue reading “The Road from Mokha to Sanaa”
a survey of the driving factors that will shape the future
As we enter the second decade of the 21st century, we find ourselves part of a global human civilization undergoing major change at an unprecedented rate, and how we adjust to those changes will determine what quality of life and how much real democracy there is, even who lives and who dies, across the global village.
For decades, postmodern philosophical theory has examined the problem of atomization of the fabric of human society, but new trends suggest there is concurrent with spreading individualism a swell of interdependence among individuals, communities and nation-states. 2010 promises to be a year of historical landmarks, with important breakthroughs in ecological science, collaborative diplomacy and key international negotiations on economics, arms reduction, democratization and security.
Continue reading “The Second Decade of the 21st Century”
The global food supply is facing major security challenges, as warming global average temperatures and the destabilization of climate patterns and natural services undermine dependable agricultural cycles and threaten resources. The food supply is the most direct and visible connection between the breakdown of global climate systems and human health and wellbeing, but not the only link. The possible collapse of a major part of the human food supply means the collapse of agriculture, i.e. the breakdown of the human habitat.
Habitat is something we tend to associate with non-human animal life. Most species are evolved to function in highly specialized habitats, and complications common in neighboring natural environments can pose a direct threat to the fragile natural systems on whose balance a sustainable habitat depends. Human beings, however, like mountain lions, ants and a number of bird species, have shown near universal adaptability in terms of diverse range of climates. But the human habitat is more than temperature and precipitation: it’s sustainable agriculture.
Continue reading “World Food Supply Under Threat from Environmental Factors”
Citizens Climate Lobby is an international non-partisan, non-profit volunteer organization, working to build political will for a livable world. To do that, they aim to find an ideologically neutral, democratically viable, market-focused way to reduce the amount of carbon trapped in Earth’s atmosphere and speed the transition to clean, renewable fuels. I am proud to be a member of the organization, and one who is inspired by the passion of its volunteers and fortunate to count so many good friends among its partners.
The week of June 20th, 2011, the organization took its campaign to Capitol Hill, bringing 85 volunteers to 140 office visits in the United States Congress —both houses, both parties— along with the State Department, the Department of Energy and the World Bank. The project is more than a response to fallout from excess atmospheric carbon dioxide; the CCL project involves connecting citizens with decision-makers on Capitol Hill, to take ideology out of the energy debate, and fashion policy more democratically. Continue reading “Moving Minds with Citizen-Centered Non-partisan Discourse”
The GreenNOVAtion community is a campus-wide secure social networking project, designed to bring together in one place all of the courses, campus groups, volunteer efforts, and scientific and scholarly undertakings, related to ecology, clean energy and the environment, at Villanova University. It began operation in May 2011, and will officially launch as a campus-wide project … Continue reading GreenNOVAtion: Connecting Green Thinkers at Villanova
toward a science of conscious thriving: through resourceful reasoning & deep communicability
Communication & the Human Bond
On the Question of Hope
In September, 2008, the question of hope, of what it is and why we need it, was coming to political prominence, due to an election campaign and a collective demand for significant change in the direction of US policy, on a number of fronts. As a result, the very idea of hope came under political attack. Political operatives that sought to ridicule the idea of a “change candidate” who could bring hope to the American people sought to make it appear that hope was a soft virtue, a wishy-washy ethereal promise, something one seeks only if one has no intent to act.
It seemed to me this was both dishonest and also dangerous, because hope does not work like that at all, and because there had been a very responsible engagement with the topic, which held some promise in terms of waking a population that had not thought of being involved in shaping its own destiny. So, I sought to write something solid, something viable and lasting, about hope, about the nature of optimism and how closely linked the quality of imagination is to our ability to conceive of, work for and see through to completion, meaningful improvements to the human condition.
Continue reading “The Space of Hope”
House Speaker John Boehner appears to be under attack from an intransigent House Republican caucus that will not allow him to retain any credible leadership if he agrees to a debt and deficit reduction plan that includes any tax increases of any kind. While select Republicans in the Senate agree with the deficit commission recommendations and the Gang of Six proposal—which recognizes the need to increase revenues to deal with escalating deficits—, radicals refuse to agree to any compromise. It seems Speaker Boehner is being held hostage by a radical Tea Party revolt in his party, whom he is not prepared to anger.
Part of the problem is rhetorical. On issues of debt, deficit, entitlements and security, routine use of hyperbole has so distorted debate, that much political discourse now distorts what is actually happening in policy. Republican Sen. Tom Coburn (OK) told Meet the Press, falsely, that “the government is twice as big as it was ten years ago; it’s thirty percent bigger than it was when Pres. Obama took office.”
Continue reading “Boehner Stands Alone between Reason and Unreason”
The Bipartisan Policy Center has found that if there is no agreement to raise the debt limit by August 2, the Treasury Department would fail to pay 44 percent of its obligations. That 44 percent of government spending, over a year, is equivalent to a real decline in GDP of 10 percent. The number is that high because the Treasury Department has been making fiscal adjustments since March, in order to stave off default. Those adjustment have been pushed as far as possible and cannot continue to push back the deadline, beyond August 2.
Continue reading “Default Means 44% of Bills Unpaid, 10% Decline in GDP”
There is nothing ideological about the issue of renewable energy resources. Proponents tend to care about the health of the natural environment, which motivates their wish to see renewables replace high-polluting fuel sources like oil and coal, but the technologies, the fact of their economic viability and their usefulness for society at large, are not in any way a matter of ideology.
Neither is there anything ideological about the allegiance of some to carbon-based fuels. The considerations are entirely practical on all sides, and we need to remember this as we try to find consensus on how to move forward, responsibly, as a civilization, in terms of our relationship to energy and the environment.
Continue reading “Renewable Energy is Not an Ideological Issue”