Monday, January 28, 2013


Having canceled my subscription to satellite service several years ago, I rarely have an opportunity to watch television anymore (not that I want to).  The obsolete teevee, a grumpy hefty metallic relic, collects dust on the floor under my bedroom window...I don't know quite how to retire it in a socially responsible way.  So it remains - a perpetually antiquated, hostile rebuke - a repulsive hulk of my former stupidity, oblivious of our unsustainabilty - that now gives me nightmares.

Every now and then though, I come across an advertisement on the 'tubes, that just knocks me over.  Perhaps since I'm out of the exquisitely calibrated media loop,  I tend to be overly impressed. I mean, they're so cleverly produced!  So here I will share a couple of them on Wit's End - even though maybe everybody but me has already seen them...because they're funny.

You might think this ad is from tireless and selfless defenders of biodiversity who are so generously giving you a pass to buy your way out of discomfort, risk, or sacrifice and still be noble...but oops, you'd be wrong.  This ad from the Rainforest Alliance "certifies" products so that you will feel better about buying them.  They should instead be called Rainforest Profiteers, because one of their major functions it to verify forest carbon credits, the better to enable pollution and extraction.  This is all part of the vast commercialization of environmentalism, a cynically sophisticated campaign to trick people into thinking that ecosystems are being protected and preserved when in fact, they're being decimated.  You could just google: Rainforest_Alliance_Greenwash  and find lots of information - or be lazy and read more here.

Anyway, for another example - this time, an eco-friendly washing machine - enjoy!

Isn't that adorable!  Meanwhile, reality is better reflected in the desperation seen in Greece, Syria and even Germany, where people are illegally chopping down trees because they cannot afford oil or other fuel for heat.  This is pretty much in line with what I have been expecting - we're going to burn everything in sight until there is nothing left (if we don't die off from pollution or nuclear war or meltdowns or pandemics or extreme weather famines first!).  In Greece, the skies are black with wood smoke.  Germans alone bought a whopping 400,000 wood-burning stoves in 2011.  In Syria, where 60,000 people have been killed in the past 22 months of conflict, displaced families and loggers are stripping the national park of trees, not only for heating but for baking bread.

“I feel very bad,” says Abu Saleh, a 64-year-old, as he helps men bring branches and logs down a steep slope to be chopped up. 

“Before this was a very beautiful forest - now it’s like a desert.” 

EGALEO, Greece—While patrolling on a recent cold night, environmentalist Grigoris Gourdomichalis caught a young man illegally chopping down a tree on public land in the mountains above Athens.

When confronted, the man broke down in tears, saying he was unemployed and needed the wood to warm the home he shares with his wife and four small children, because he could no longer afford heating oil.

Tens of thousands of trees have disappeared from parks and woodlands this winter across Greece, authorities said, in a worsening problem that has had tragic consequences as the crisis-hit country’s impoverished residents, too broke to pay for electricity or fuel, turn to fireplaces and wood stoves for heat.

Such woodcutting was last common in Greece during Germany’s brutal occupation in the 1940s, underscoring how five years of recession and waves of austerity measures have spawned drastic measures.

“The average Greek will throw anything into the fireplace that can be burned, ranging from old furniture with lacquer, to old books with ink, in order to get warm,” said Stefanos Sapatakis, an environmental-health officer at the Hellenic Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Of course we Americans shouldn't be complacent about the poor air quality in places like China, because a lot of that is a result of manufacturing and shipping junk that is exported to us...duh.  Plus, all over America people are burning wood too, and why not?  There are so many dead trees around - imagine that!  In places like Utah, they are being told to stop incinerating wood, because the air quality is far worse than even the absurdly lax EPA regulations allow.  And more rural areas justifiably are fearful of being penalized for nonattainment due to transboundary pollution that they can't control.

Researchers in the UK have figured out that low level air pollution is causing wildflowers to disappear, which is something I noted somewhere or other on Wit's End, years ago, about the New Jersey countryside.  When I moved here (over thirty years ago) I was splendidly shocked at the ravishing and constantly shifting pallette of colors, from early spring to frost, in fields and woodlands - tiny wildflowers of all sorts growing in such huge prolific masses like I had never dreamed of.  Since then, they are almost all gone.

Sadly, the wildflower loss is only the most noticeable, and there's no reason to think that other less pretty and desirable vegetation isn't being lost as well...most especially longer-lived species like shrubs and trees that sustain cumulative damage, season after season.

At least the scientists in the UK, using painstaking comparisons, made the link to pollution -whereas in Hawaii, which has more endangered species than any other state, less rainfall is blamed even for the dwindling numbers of the Haleakal silversword.  This iconic species, with rather spectacular blooms, has clung to life on the precarious and treacherous volcanic slopes of Maui, evolving from a species that arrived five million years ago from California...and surely been through a few changes in climate.  And yet now it - along with every other form of vegetation - is suddenly in precipitous decline, as are - according to an out of date survey in 2010 - more than 1/5 of the planets 380,000 species (take a good look, it's heartbreakingly tragic).  Of course, Ozonists and Ozonistas expect that percentage to be more like 100 at the rate we are burning everything in sight.

It's just one more example of the overall collapse of the ecosystem due to pollution that is being ignored by most of the scientific community.  New York State did manage to obtain a settlement of $400,000 from the owner of midwestern coal-fired power plants,  because it "failed to keep up with federal standards for controlling sulfur dioxide emissions, violating the Clean Air Act".  New York State is planning to to squander those funds, using it to give grants for research into ways to "reduce the impact" of acid rain in the 500 lakes, streams and ponds of the Adirondacks that "hampers plant growth and is detrimental to aquatic life and humans".

The program aims to clean up the acid rain already present in the Adirondacks due to decades of pollution. Woodworth said the Adirondacks have lost half of their spruce growth due to the lack of nutrients caused by acid rain falling into the soil.

Even with the decrease in acid rain and pollution by federal regulations, Woodworth said if an effort is not made to safeguard the region from acid rain "… we lose our trees."

Woodworth said most of the air pollution affecting New York state, including the Adirondacks, is coming from the Ohio Valley and other states southwest of New York and the best method of recovery is to switch to natural gas.

There are so many levels of crazy here that it's difficult to write about it calmly.  Directing research to find ways to help the region to "recover" while the culprit, Cinergy Corp., continues to pollute is just some sort of repulsive political posturing.  The trifling piffle of $400,000 they have paid for ineffectual research is just the price of doing business as usual for them - and a bit of pocket change for any scientists unscrupulous enough to accept it, rather than demand that the coal companies be shut down.  And the notion that "natural" gas - methane, another fossil fuel - I mean fool - is a solution??  Please, I'm going to BARF.

Meanwhile, heroic anti-tar sands activists are being sued and forced to settle - since for some unfathomable reason, they can't afford as many lawyers as the corporations, and funnily enough, don't really want to languish in jail (for a revealing set of photos that imparts the staggering extent of tar sands, click here).

Thanks to the ever-vigilant WindSpiritKeeper  for many of the links in this post.


  1. Good posting of the dark side, Gail.
    Thanks for caring.
    All should spend some sobering minutes viewing the tar sands(click here)link. The photo essay by Jiri Rezac is good thread to the "Trashed" video because most of the trash is either petroleum based, or a great deal of fossil fuel was burned to produce and transport it to the end users: YOU & ME.

    Time, is not running out, we are burning it up.

    Thanks again, Gail

    David Lange

  2. the wood that humans are burning + the forest fires + the peat fires + the volcanoes +++ Here, the air is already unbreathable. Each week now, I hear of one or two persons diagnosed with a deadly cancer. The pace of collapse is accelerating. 2012 was a turning point for feedbacks. Today, the journalists seem to have difficulty finding anyone (but the politicians) say in front of the camera "we are strong! we wil rebuild! we will get over it!» We are fast getting closer to the day the straw will break the camel's back. It will be very sudden.


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