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Guest Post - Melissa Everett- Letter to the Class of 2010

by: EJ on 05/21/2010
Posted in: Guest Posts

With the end of the educational year fast approaching, many students are already having their graduation ceremonies and thinking about their next steps. Melissa Everett, author of Making a Living While Making a Difference: Conscious Careers in an Era of Interdependence sent us this post for the graduates of the class of 2010.

A radio interviewer recently shocked me with a question about an energy challenge campaign I was promoting - which was really a question about human nature. On the subject of cutting our carbon footprint a mere ten percent, he asked, "Frankly, don't you think our generation is too selfish and set in its ways? It's going to have to fall on the young people to make real change."

That's too easy. My generation, the Boomers, and those before ours, helped to build a world of fossil fuel use and industrial agriculture and financial institutions that have gambled with the futures of the generations to come. You do not want to hear the state of the world; you probably don't want to hear us apologizing for our short-sightedness - or, from those of us who have devoted our lives to creating more sustainable approaches, apologies for not being more successful.

You are entering the labor market before much of the Class of 2009 has been fully absorbed into meaningful employment. You are hearing a buzz about green jobs - renewable energy installation, smart grid engineering, transportation modeling, and materials research to produce better stuff with fewer toxics, to name some key opportunities . However, for the most part, the overall economic situation, and the slow movement of environmental policy, have kept the performance of the green economy far below its promise. As graduates, you are bringing your calm and accepting sensibilities out into a very competitive environment.

This predicament has already taking a toll with the class of 2009 and probably with you. According to a recent Business Week article, young people are less and less likely to vote, and are paying less attention to the big picture, than they were even a year or two ago. You're saving your strength for finding work.

It is not the business of the older generation to ask you to change that.

But there is one question that's in your best interest to consider, if you want to see a stronger economy, and especially a stronger innovation sector. Where will all the green jobs come from?

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Guest Post - David Spero - For the Veterans

by: Heather on 05/20/2010
Posted in: Guest Posts

This just in from David Spero, author of Diabetes: Sugar-Coated Crisis on the negative health impacts of military service. The original post appeared on David's Diabetes Self-Management blog - this updated version in posted by permission. Thanks David!

For the Veterans

What's the worst thing you can do for your long-term health? Well, heroin is bad, …

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Guest Post - Chellis Glendinning - Letters from Amok

by: Heather on 03/11/2010
Posted in: Guest Posts

I recently received this essay from Chellis Glendinning, author of My Name is Chellis and I'm in Recovery from Western Civilization, Chiva, and Off the Map.

Entitled "Letters from Amok: The State of the World in Pen and Ink", the work began as four hand-scrawled letters that arrived in her mailbox in New Mexico, each revealing feelings about the world/planet/humanity of today - feelings normally left unspoken. The letters were from: immigrant-rights activist Arnold Garcia; Appalachian folksinger Jack Herranen; Michigan ecologist and author Stephanie Mills; and Chilean poet Jesús Sepúlveda.

Chellis was so taken with the honesty and vision of her correspondents that she wove the letters together into this essay, which originally appeared on Culture Change. It's a longish read, but I urge you to take the time if you can - it's well worth it. Enjoy!

I stand in the Chimayó, New Mexico, post office, poring over a hand-scrawled note from Oakland immigrant-rights activist Arnoldo Garcia -- and I weep. Not for the stark vision of the fragility of life and the forces ripping into it that he voices, for I am not unfamiliar with the dire state of the world -- but for the fact that he has had the courage to state it with so much heart.


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Guest Post - Chris Magwood - Will People Really Change?

by: Heather on 03/09/2010
Posted in: Guest Posts

Chris Magwood, co-author of More Straw Bale Building and Straw Bale Details, has been thinking lately about social change and how to achieve it. This article originally appeared on his blog and is reprinted by permission. Thanks Chris!

Will People Really Change?

It's pretty easy to despair about the amount of inaction on environmental matters at the …

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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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