Our Blog | February 2010

Red Olympic Mittens or Red China Blues?

by: EJ on 02/24/2010
Posted in: Sustainable Living

(apologies to Jan Wong for "mixing" her book title with my headline!)

When I was in Vancouver last weekend, I had serious red mitten envy. Those fancy red mitts with the white maple leaf and Olympic rings were everywhere and on everyone! From the Prince of Wales to Oprah, those toasty little beacons of Canadian patriotism were fluttering everywhere …

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Olympic Coins - Collect Them All!

by: EJ on 02/22/2010
Posted in: Activism

In honour of the 2010 Olympics, the Royal Canadian Mint has been printing Olympic coins. There are seventeen coins in total - ten quarters honouring snow and ice sports from the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games, two quarters honouring ice sports from the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games, two lucky loonies and three quarters celebrating …

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A Day like Today

by: Heather on 02/19/2010
Posted in: Climate Change

This morning I rode my bike to work in brilliant sunshine, breathing crisp clean air and drinking in the beauty of sky, forest and water. On a day like today, when everything looks so fresh and new, it can be hard to remember how much damage we've done to our planet. But a day like today is also a perfect day to take a minute to remind ourselves …

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Guest Post - John Michael Greer, Becoming a Third World Nation

by: EJ on 02/15/2010
Posted in: Guest Posts

John Michael Greer, author of The Long Descent: A User's Guide to the End of the Industrial Age and The Ecotechnic Future: Envisioning a Post-Peak World has found a new metaphor to help residents of the United States understand what is happening to their country. (This article originally appeared on John Michael Greer's blog, The Archdruid Report on February 10th and is reprinted by permission.)

In the course of writing last week's Archdruid Report post, I belatedly realized that there's a very simple way to talk about the scope of the brutal economic contraction now sweeping through American society - a way, furthermore, that might just be able to sidestep both the obsessive belief in progress and the equally obsessive fascination with apocalyptic fantasy that, between them, make up much of what passes for thinking about the future these days. It's to point out that, over the next decade or so, the United States is going to finish the process of becoming a Third World country.

I say "finish the process," because we are already most of the way there. What distinguishes the Third World from the privileged industrial minority of the world's nations? Third World nations import most of their manufactured goods from abroad, while exporting mostly raw materials; that's been true of the United States for decades now. Third World economies have inadequate domestic capital, and are dependent on loans from abroad; that's been true of the United States for just about as long. Third World societies are economically burdened by severe problems with public health; the United States ranks dead last for life expectancy among industrial nations, and its rates of infant mortality are on a par with those in Indonesia, so that's covered. Third World nation are very often governed by kleptocracies - well, let's not even go there, shall we?

There are, in fact, precisely two things left that differentiate the United States from any other large, overpopulated, impoverished Third World nation. The first is that the average standard of living here, measured either in money or in terms of energy and resource consumption, stands well above Third World levels - in fact, it's well above the levels of most industrial nations. The second is that the United States has the world's most expensive and technologically complex military. Those two factors are closely related, and understanding their relationship is crucial in making sense of the end of the "American century" and the decline of the United States to Third World status.

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Opening Day for Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics

by: EJ on 02/12/2010
Posted in: Events

The Olympic torch is wending its rather convoluted way through Vancouver downtown today - complete with a detour caused by protesters who stopped it from crossing Commercial Drive. This famous section of East Vancouver was one of the areas impacted by evictions and street sweeps directed at homeless people leading up to the Games. Refusing to …

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