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united states of abjection

April 21, 2008

please note: this post is best enjoyed while listening to marco benevento’s “bus ride,” “record book” (note the transition at 2:00) and “atari.” see my muxtape.

abjection

  1. (of a situation or condition) extremely bad, unpleasant, and degrading; (of a failure) absolute and humiliating
  2. (of a person or their behavior) completely with pride or dignity; self-abasing

-oxford american dictionary
change on political issues does not come quickly, but looking out my window at the sea of cars passing by causes me to question myself and my attachment-or lack thereof-to this country.

why does this country, still the wealthiest nation, become cowardly at the slightest suggestion of environmental planning for fear of economic repercussions? the energy crisis is already upon us, and we still subsidize oil producers. economic repercussions? we are a disillusioned generation\\ having given up all hopes on a capable politician, or leader of any sort for that matter.

20 cent plastic bag fee

having seen over 20 plastic bags just today, my disillusionment is in no way restricted to politicians and ideals of leadership. nickels puts the destruction caused by our beloved plastic bags well, “every piece of plastic ever made is still with us in the environment.” following san francisco’s path-banning plastic bags would have been preferable. but this could have lowered the possibility of success at passing this movement through city council.

st: seattle officials propose 20-cent grocery-bag fee

chris jordan

next time you leave your water bottle at home, forget your shopping bag or ask for your latte in a to-go cup, think of the mountains created by our land fills, our waste. chris jordan, a seattle-based photographer, is growing in popularity for his eloquent presentation of our treatment of waste. my favorite exhibition is his “running the numbers.”

leave your water bottle at home?

Plastic Bottles, 2007
60×120″

Depicts two million plastic beverage bottles, the number used in the US every five minutes.

 

forget your shopping bag?

Plastic Bags, 2007
60×72″

Depicts 60,000 plastic bags, the number used in the US every five seconds.

 

ask for your latte in a to-go cup?

Paper Cups, 2008
60×96″

Depicts 410,000 paper cups, equal to the number of disposable hot-beverage paper cups used in the US every fifteen minutes.

chris jordan

ari derfel

this berkeley, ca native has kept all of his trash for one year in his apartment. recognizing that he would have to live with this junk in his place for the rest of the year he became inventive in his methods of consumption-creating the least amount of waste.

here is conscious choice’s article on him:

The Trashman Cometh

Contrary to what was reported in the media blitz of late 2007, Ari Defel’s trash does not reside in his living room. The truth is, he had all 365-day’s worth neatly organized in his kitchen closet until the reporters came knocking on his door — a whole bunch of them — asking to see his bounty. Derfel, a caterer by trade and an environmentalist and yogi by philosophy, decided to save his trash for a full year. He mentioned it to a few friends who mentioned it to a few more, and then — KABOOM — the press, the talk show circuit and what at times felt like the entire Internet were looking at him.

The original idea — “If I had to live with my trash, would it change the way I live?” — was hatched at a dinner party with friends who planned to tough out the experiment together. After the first week, the others bailed, but Derfel stuck with it as a kind of daily meditation. From December 4, 2006 to December 4, 2007, Derfel composted his organic matter and meticulously saved, rinsed and sorted his trash to see what it would amount to — and how it made him feel. This included all his garbage from vacations and eating out. “Some people ask me, well, what about toilet paper?” he says, pausing for effect. “I may be weird, but I’m not crazy.”

During the experiment, Derfel says he began to physically “feel” every purchase. His hand would fall on a bottle of juice, and the whole story of how it got there would come to life: the glass container manufactured somewhere faraway, shipped somewhere else faraway for bottling, then trucked to the store for him to buy and drink in less than five minutes, only to toss in the recycling bin to be schlepped back to a plant in China. “It’s the 50,000-mile juice when I could have just bought Asian pears at the local farmer’s market and juiced them at home,” he says.

After being outed by the press, everyone started looking to Derfel for answers, but he’s careful to set them straight: “I’m not a trash epidemiologist,” he says. It’s not uncommon for people to exclaim how incredible it is (it being his pile of trash), but he just laughs. “Painting the Sistine Chapel is incredible. I just saved my garbage for a year.”

Why does Derfel think his experiment ignited the curiosity of so many? “Because I’m not the dirty old man with a bunch of cats,” he answers dryly. “Granted, I live in Berkeley, so I must be a freak, but I’m not ugly, or stupid.” And it’s true… with dark wavy hair and glasses that lend him a bookish air, the 35-year-old is articulate and mediagenic. He also believes in magic — or in this case, the magic of good press. “This social experiment has been an interesting and creative way to get my voice out there,” he says.

Now Derfel’s working on drawing the connection between “guy-who-saves-trash-for-a-year” and the concept of mindful living. Recently, he enlisted local Bay Area artists Michael Christian and Suzy Cornfield to help create art with the saved trash, and this year he hopes to recruit between 10 and 100 people from around the world to join him in what he calls a kind of Buddhist Olympics (where the person who makes the least amount of trash wins).

“Consciousness is not a fad,” he says. “More people are wanting to feel connected to the planet.” Stay connected to Derfel and his ongoing trash project at saveyourtrash.com.

ari derfel at conscious choice

nicholas kristof

kristof is a nyt columnist who writes on human rights and increasingly on environmental change–most likely due to the lack of political action in light of increasing demand. he has two pulitzer prizes and knows that obama and clinton are strong enough only to bring this country to confront a fraction of the issues in plain sight. i have selected the most concise (scathing? depressing?) points of his op-ed, those before the hyphons, but really, just read the whole column you lazies.

OP-ED COLUMNIST
Our Favorite Planet

By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF
Published: April 20, 2008

For example, imagine that we instituted a brutally high gas tax that reduced emissions from American vehicles by 25 percent. That would be a stunning achievement — and in just nine months, China’s increased emissions would have more than made up the difference.
China and the United States each produces more than one-fifth of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. China’s emissions are much smaller per capita but are soaring: its annual increase in emissions is greater than Germany’s total annual emissions.
“The message is, let’s change light bulbs and let’s be more efficient,” Mr. Pielke said. “But let’s do more than that. The solution lies in transformational technologies.”
Solar power is one of the most hopeful technologies but still produces about 0.01 percent of U.S. electricity. The U.S. allocates just $159 million for solar research per year — about what we spend in Iraq every nine hours.
The bottom line is that none of the candidates focus adequately on climate change, for this will be one of humanity’s great tests in the coming decades — and so far we’re failing.
—-
Imagine if President Bush announced a plan for Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs that declared: They will cease accumulating nuclear weapons by 2025. We will accomplish this through incentives and voluntary action, without mandates.
Mr. Bush would be ridiculed, but in essence, that’s the plan he announced for climate change on Wednesday. He set a target for halting the growth in carbon dioxide emissions by 2025, without specific mandates to achieve that, and in the meantime he blasted proposed Senate legislation for tougher measures as unnecessary.
Unnecessary? When scientists detect accelerating melting in the Arctic and confidently predict centuries of coastal retreats and climate shifts, endangering the only planet we have?
Now let me pause for a special request: If you’re a skeptic about climate change, stop reading here.
That’s because the skeptics have mostly made silly arguments — that climate change is a “hoax” — when there is a much better argument available for them: that the remedies favored by environmentalists, like a cap-and-trade system to reduce emissions, probably won’t do the job.
Three respected climate experts made that troubling argument in an important essay in Nature this month, offering a sobering warning that the climate problem is much bigger than anticipated. That’s largely because of increased use of coal in booming Asian economies.
For example, imagine that we instituted a brutally high gas tax that reduced emissions from American vehicles by 25 percent. That would be a stunning achievement — and in just nine months, China’s increased emissions would have more than made up the difference.
China and the United States each produces more than one-fifth of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. China’s emissions are much smaller per capita but are soaring: its annual increase in emissions is greater than Germany’s total annual emissions.
“We’ve gotten this hopelessly wrong,” said Roger Pielke Jr. of the University of Colorado at Boulder, one of the authors of the Nature article. “If we approach this from reducing emissions we get nowhere. Driving Priuses may be good, but it’s not going to accomplish what we need.”
Mr. Pielke and his colleagues argue that the best hope for salvation will be investment in new technologies — and that’s why I asked the climate deniers not to read this column, for it can sound a bit like President Bush’s “solution.”
The difference is that Mr. Bush has used modest investments in hydrogen as a substitute for immediate action, while what we need is vast investments on top of a drive to curb emissions through a carbon tax and a cap-and-trade system. In the best of worlds, it will be enormously difficult to persuade China and India to rely less on coal-fired power plants, and it will be utterly impossible unless we take serious steps ourselves.
“The message is, let’s change light bulbs and let’s be more efficient,” Mr. Pielke said. “But let’s do more than that. The solution lies in transformational technologies.”
Solar power is one of the most hopeful technologies but still produces about 0.01 percent of U.S. electricity. The U.S. allocates just $159 million for solar research per year — about what we spend in Iraq every nine hours.
Other renewable technologies, including wind power, also merit far more investment; it’s appalling that subsidies continue to support oil and coal, and that money should be diverted to renewables. Since 1979, U.S. spending on energy research has shrunk by approximately half, taking inflation into account. Spending on military research, meanwhile, has more than doubled and now amounts to roughly 20 times what is spent on energy research.
Then there is geo-engineering, or tinkering with our planet to overcome our past tinkering. One proposal is to inject sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere to mimic the effects of volcanic eruptions in cooling the planet. Another is to fertilize the sea with iron particles to encourage the growth of plants that would suck in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Then there are more bizarre proposals for giant sunshades to orbit the earth, or for space-based solar panels.
So the next president should start a $20 billion-a-year program (financed by a pullout from Iraq) to develop new energy technologies, backed by a carbon tax and cap-and-trade system. Each of the presidential candidates favors some form of a cap-and-trade and would mark a step forward from President Bush’s passivity — although John McCain’s recent proposal for a summer holiday from the gas tax would be a deplorable step in exactly the wrong direction, unless he hopes to turn his land in Arizona into coastal property.
The bottom line is that none of the candidates focus adequately on climate change, for this will be one of humanity’s great tests in the coming decades — and so far we’re failing

our favorite planet

ending the war is not the end-all solution everything

my disillusionment continues with every college students mindless worship of everything obama has uttered. where are the real progressives?

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