The New York Times explains how to completely avoid the real problems of suburbia

Suburbia: What a Concept

There is no more iconic suburb than Levittown, the postwar planned community built by the developer William Levitt in the late 1940s, so it is understandable that in launching Open House, a collaborative project to imagine a “future suburbia,” the Dutch design collective Droog in collaboration with Diller Scofidio + Renfro architects would make it the focus of their inquiry.
"Future Suburbia"--now, that looks promising, especially if it can solve the issues facing a car-centered way of living during a time when being car-centered is likely to be more of a liability than an asset. It would be nice if the designers came up with something that actually solved some of the real problems with suburban living during a time of resource shortage and economic contraction that was more uplifting than Kunstler's dismal vision of them being "the slums of the future" with "two or more families living in a McMansion" and "crops growing where the front lawn used to be." Unfortunately, they didn't.

But in approaching a real place as a perfect blank canvas on which to execute distinctly urban interventions, the Open House project conveniently excused itself from substantively engaging with the real issues facing suburbia’s future. Which is a pity. Because it would have been interesting to see what they’d come up with if they had.
What a wasted opportunity!

[T]he suburban existence is as exotic to them as say, Dubai, the site of Droog Lab’s first project where, says co-founder Renny Ramakers, they’d made a deliberate decision not to explore it as “a spending society — people felt we weren’t being critical enough; they couldn’t understand why. In this project I don’t want to be critical, I want to look for inspiration because in every part of the world, people are creating their own society, their own community.”

But that’s not really valid. Can we discuss the future of suburbia (or the future of anything, really) without being critical? Without talking about developing accessible transit or increasing walkability (and community) through mixed-use development, for example? This alas, is not uncommon. Addressing suburban ills requires massive change to systems, to finance, to transportation and infrastructure, and perhaps most challenging, to a culture deeply wedded to suburbia as emblematic of the American Dream.
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Above originally posted to Crazy Eddie's Motie News.

Preparing to Resist Radioactivity

Nuclear plants in Japan are melting down, and radioactive clouds are headed our way across the Pacific. We have time to prepare...but what should we do? I am full of ideas, but mind you, this is not medical advice! Just the random rantings of some stranger on the internet! With that said, maybe it is a good time to increase your antioxidant intake, and keep it high for the forseeable future. Also, because much radioactivity is carried from such events in the form of radioactive iodine, maybe it's time to fill all your iodine receptors with healthy non-radioactive iodine. That way you reduce the amount of radioactivity your body takes in. The thyroid is the #1 place that iodine is used, and guess where is #2? The breast! Yes. And especially in teenage girls, the risk of cancer if iodine levels are low is radically increased--even when no noxious clouds are headed our way. Studies after the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki showed that the people who survived best and had least symptoms of radioactivity poisoning were the ones with the highest iodine intakes. It even helps to take iodine after the exposure, but it's better to get it in preventatively.

Here's one explanation in the news:
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ALL - Allroy For Prez

Optimistic ending.

Top 10 Songs for the Steady State

I have a friend who sees the end of the world coming soon. When he ponders the limits to economic growth, climate destabilization, and other ecological and economic problems, he tends to fall into a state of malaise. I understand to some degree where he’s coming from – I’m not one to hide my head in the sand and ignore or deny the profound problems we face. But given the amount of time that I spend contemplating the limits to growth, I can’t afford to get mired in the swamps of doom and gloom. The main way I keep a positive perspective is by working to change the root cause (i.e., pursuit of growth everlasting) of our ecological overshoot. A steady state economy that can meet people’s needs and exist within healthy environmental systems is a truly inspiring idea.

I also do some other things to keep a positive perspective. For example, I like to play and listen to music regularly. Music speaks to most of us in a way that no other art form can – we all have special songs that touch our souls. Before I go any further with this line of thought, I need to provide a brief disclaimer about my musical taste. I grew up in the 1980s on Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 radio program.

Besides indoctrinating me on some suspect styles, songs and sounds, American Top 40 taught me a lesson. It demonstrated how fun and addictive countdowns can be. In the spirit of keeping things light-hearted, I thought it would be interesting to compose a top-ten list of songs with a steady state theme. In descending order below, I’ve listed the title of the song, the performer, the album on which the song appears, and some choice lyrics. I’m sure that I’ve missed some good ones, so please feel free to comment on your favorites. I have also made a YouTube playlist in case you find yourself in a steady state mood. And now, on with the countdown…

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Bonus Track: Corporation Day
by Dan O’Neill, CASSE Director of European Operations
Propagandhi - Potemkin City Limits

You can get GM articles on your LJ page at monbiot, or sign up for emails at his site.

Cold Burn

Yes, the extreme cold in the UK right now really could be a result of global warming.

There is now strong evidence to suggest that the unusually cold winters of the past two years in the UK are the result of heating elsewhere. With the help of the severe weather analyst John Mason and the Climate Science Rapid Response Team(1), I’ve been through as much of the scientific literature as I can lay hands on. (Please also see John Mason’s article, which explains the issue in more detail(2)). Here’s what seems to be happening.

The global temperature maps published by NASA present a striking picture(3). Last month’s shows a deep blue splodge over Iceland, Spitsbergen, Scandanavia and the UK, and another over the western US and eastern Pacific. Temperatures in these regions were between 0.5 and 4 degrees colder than the November average from 1951 and 1980. But on either side of these cool blue pools are raging fires of orange, red and maroon: the temperatures in western Greenland, northern Canada and Siberia were between two and ten degrees higher than usual(4). NASA’s Arctic oscillations map for December 3-10 shows that parts of Baffin Island and central Greenland were 15 degrees warmer than the average for 2002 to 2009(5). There was a similar pattern last winter(6). These anomalies appear to be connected.

I can already hear the howls of execration: now you’re claiming that this cooling is the result of warming! Well yes, it could be. A global warming trend doesn’t mean that every region becomes warmer, every month. That’s what averages are for: they put local events in context. The denial of manmade climate change has mutated first into a denial of science in general, now into a denial of basic arithmetic. If it’s snowing in Britain, a thousand websites and quite a few newspapers tell us, the planet can’t be warming.

According to NASA’s datasets, the world has just experienced the warmest January-November since the global record began, 131 years ago(19). 2010 looks likely to be either the hottest or the equal hottest year. This November was the warmest on record(20).

Sod all that, my correspondents insist: just look out of the window. No explanation of the numbers, no description of the North Atlantic Oscillation or the Arctic Dipole, no reminder of current temperatures in other parts of the world, can compete with the observation than there’s a foot of snow outside. We are simple, earthy creatures, governed by our senses. What we see and taste and feel overrides analysis. The cold has reason in a deathly grip.

This community will be formally ending on December 23rd. Read the details here.
DJ Shadow - The Outsider

The website "Jewbonics" - ! (maintained by a Jew)

We pay for every Israeli war at the gas pump

How about a new slogan for the anti-war and Palestine solidarity movements? We pay for every Israeli war at the gas pump! No aid to Israel!

"Bells are ringing in the corridors already. If this carries on, if it's a really cold winter, we can see prices heading up to $100. "At some stage even the Saudis will realise there's something going on here, and that they should respond. And they will." Opec has maintained a production target of 24.845 million barrels a day since December 2008, the longest period that quotas have stayed unchanged since they were first used in 1982.

Every US$10-a-barrel increase added US$42 billion to the cost of US imports, US$49 billion in Europe, US$19 billion for China and US$16 billion to Japan, Blanch said.

"Within about two weeks of oil being at US$100, I think you would get more consumer-nation pressure on Opec" to increase production, said Ann-Louise Hittle, a senior analyst at Wood Mackenzie in Boston. "Their number one concern is not to damage heavily the economic recovery that is under way."

Iraq will account for 54 per cent of the increase in Opec's supply capacity in the six years ending 2015, according to the IEA, replacing Iran as the biggest producer after Saudi Arabia.

And what would the US do without dictatorships in the region to funnel petrodollars to armaments and stock speculation? It’d be in trouble. And how to maintain dictatorships? Say, “It’s for Israel’s security.” And how to maintain that policy? Let the Israel Lobby screech away. Screech away about what? Screech away about Israel's security every time there's a conflict in the Middle East: 1967, 1973, 1980, 1991, 2003. Regional conflict fuels profits for the oil majors. Defending Israel's "security" means defending the profits of oil companies. Israeli politicians and generals probably believe they're "defending" Israel, and of course, they are, in a way. They're defending Israel's right to aggressively dominate the Arab and Muslim peoples of the Near East, the corollary of dominating the Palestinians. You can't dominate the Palestinians without Arab dictatorships, because Arab democracies would not tolerate Zionist settler-colonial domination. The Lobby believes it's all tied up in one bundle, too. But they are paid to believe it. And cui bono? We already know: ExxonMobil, Lockheed Martin, and since 2004, the Tel-Aviv Stock Exchange. You want a conspiracy? It’s all happening right in front of our eyes.

This community will be formally ending on December 23rd. Read the details here.
ALL - Allroy For Prez

Fox caught red handed -

Damning new evidence proves what we've known all along — that Fox News is willing to lie and distort the truth to the political advantage of the far-right.

Yesterday, a memo leaked from Fox News's managing editor, Bill Sammon, instructing Fox journalists never to report on global warming without IMMEDIATELY questioning the prevailing scientific consensus.1 It's exactly that kind of false controversy that has shifted public opinion and helped delay real action on global warming from the U.S.

Bill Sammon is exactly what's wrong with Fox. If the network wants to be treated as a real news outlet, they need to fire Sammon immediately. But it can't stop there — Fox should also submit to an external review of their climate coverage and agree to correct the record based on the findings.

Please join us in holding Fox News accountable, and ask your friends and family to do the same:

The memo establishing Fox's climate reporting policy was written on December 8, 2009, shortly after Fox White House correspondent Wendell Goler reported that 2000-2009 would be the warmest decade on record, and that the scientific community remained united behind their belief in human-induced climate change.

Just 15 minutes later, Managing Editor Bill Sammon made clear that that kind of truth-based reporting had no place at Fox News, telling reporters to "...refrain from asserting that the planet has warmed (or cooled) in any given period without IMMEDIATELY pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question..."2

While it's long been clear that Fox News is the anchor of the conservative message machine, this latest revelation takes Fox to new lows. Fox isn't just lining up on one side of a partisan debate, they are taking a stand against the planet. And Sammon's memo shows that climate change denial isn't just the bias of particular reporters, it's company policy.

1. "Liberal media watchdog: Fox News e-mail shows network’s slant on climate change,", 12-15-10

2. "Fox editor urged climate skepticism,", 12-15-10

This community will be formally ending on December 23rd. Read the details here.
New Order - Get Ready

Peak Oil exact year confirmed by IEA.

The peak oil crisis: the future of government

In case you missed it, a couple of weeks back the International Energy Agency in Paris got around to disclosing that the all-time peak of global conventional oil production occurred back in 2006. Despite that fact that this declaration was tantamount to announcing the end of the 250-year-old industrial age, few in the mainstream media noted the event and it was left to obscure corners of cyber space to ponder the meaning of it all.

It is also worth noting that oil is back in the vicinity of $90 a barrel and even Wall Street economists, who are paid to be eternally optimistic, are starting to talk about oil going for$110-120 a barrel in the next year or so.

In the meantime, the talking heads, pundits and even hard-headed reporters chatter on about the slow but persistent economic recovery that is supposed to be taking place. As the effects of last year's near-trillion dollar stimulus start to be felt, every statistical twitch upward is hailed as proof that normalcy will soon return. Realists, however, call this twitching "bottom-bouncing" and are convinced that far worse is yet to come.

As we all know by now, a new crowd has descended on Washington vowing to make everything right again by cutting taxes, reducing the size and the role of some parts of the government. Above all the folks are committed to getting government regulation off our backs so that free enterprise, the entrepreneurial spirit, merchant capitalism, or what have you can flourish as it did in the past.

What all those calling for reduced government fail to grasp, however, is that 200 years of cheap abundant fossil fuel energy has transformed this country into something completely different. Take food as an example, 200 years ago, some 90+ percent of us were involved in its raising or otherwise procuring food -- or we would simply not eat. Now, thanks to cheap fossil fuels, less than 3 percent of us are engaged in agricultural endeavors and I suspect only a fraction of our "farmers" still have all the requisite skills to feed themselves and their families in the style to which they have become accustomed. Take away the diesel for the tractors and farming is going to become mighty different. Has anyone yoked an ox lately?
DJ Shadow - The Outsider

Huffington Post.

UN Climate Deal A Small Step Forward In Global Warming Fight

CANCUN, Mexico — A U.N. conference on Saturday adopted a modest climate deal creating a fund to help the developing world go green, though it deferred for another year the tough work of carving out deeper reductions in carbon emissions causing Earth to steadily warm.

Though the accords were limited, it was the first time in three years the 193-nation conference adopted any climate action, restoring faith in the unwieldy U.N. process after the letdown a year ago at a much-anticipated summit in Copenhagen.

The Cancun Agreements created institutions for delivering technology and funding to poorer countries, though they did not say where the funding would come from.

In urging industrial countries to move faster on emissions cuts, it noted that scientists recommended reducing greenhouse gas emissions from industrial countries by 25 to 40 per cent from 1990 levels within the next 10 years. Current pledges amount to about 16 percent.

Foreign Secretary Patricia Espinosa, the conference president, gaveled the deal through early Saturday over the objections of Bolivia's delegate, who said it was so weak it would endanger the planet.

Decisions at the U.N. climate talks are typically made by consensus, but Espinosa said consensus doesn't "mean that one country has the right to veto" decisions supported by everyone else.

This community will be formally ending on December 23rd. Read the details here.
Descendents - Enjoy!

(no subject)

The Great Ventriloquist

Why is a former Greenpeace activist siding with Indonesia’s logging industry?

APP is part of the Sinar Mas conglomerate, a Chinese-Indonesian company owned by a fantastically rich dynasty called the Widjajas. Founded in 1962, it grew during the regime of Indonesia’s dictator General Suharto into one of Asia’s most powerful companies, with interests in palm oil, coal, property and banking. It has been the focus of criticism from human rights and environmental groups for years. But now it is a company with an urgent mission.

In 2001, APP defaulted on loans amounting to an amazing $13.9bn(1). Most companies would have gone under. But some of the debt was picked up by Indonesian tax payers, while around half was restructured(2,2a,2b). Its critics charge that it is clearing its debts by clearing the rainforest.

The forests of Sumatra are disappearing faster than any others(3). Those that remain have the highest diversity of plants on earth. Many of their large mammals – such as the Sumatran tiger, the Sumatran orang-utan, the Sumatran elephant and the clouded leopard – are in danger of extinction. The clearance there affects everyone, because it exposes one of the world’s largest deposits of peat. When the peat is bared and drained, it begins to oxidise, making carbon dioxide. Forest clearance is the reason why Indonesia now has the third-highest greenhouse gas emissions in the world, after the US and China(4).

So what do you do if your brand is turning toxic? You hire the Canadian public relations consultant Patrick Moore. Moore runs a company based in Vancouver called Greenspirit Strategies, which has developed “sustainability messaging” for logging, mining, lead-smelting, nuclear, biotech, fish-farming and plastics companies(17,18). He is a clever rhetoritician, skilled at turning an argument round. He is seen by some environmentalists as the most brazen of the spin doctors they face.

He has described clearcut logging as “making clearings where new trees can grow in the sun”(19). He has suggested that sea lice (which spread from farmed salmon to wild fish, often with devastating effects) are “good for wild salmon”: as the fish can eat the larvae(20). He has justified gold-mining operations which have caused devastating spills of sodium cyanide by arguing that “cyanide is present in the environment and naturally available in many plant species”(21). But his greatest asset to the companies he represents is this: Patrick Moore was one of the founders and leaders of Greenpeace.

This community will be formally ending on December 23rd. Read the details here.