Sunday, December 23, 2012

Old Forests, Kerala's Elephants, and the Biosphere

asian_elephant_sm.jpgProposing a planetary boundary for terrestrial ecosystem loss


By Dr. Glen Barry
, December 16, 2012


Theme - The Legal Regime and Measures for Conservation of Bio Diversity and Protection of Ecological Balance of Western Ghats

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed.” – Mahatma Gandhi

"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world." – Anne Frank

*Version 1.0, not yet peer reviewed, or final edits for publication in conference proceedings

Review Paper Abstract

Planetary boundary science continues the study of requirements to avoid ecosystem collapse and to achieve global ecological sustainability, by defining key thresholds in the Earth System's ecological conditions that threaten human well-being. Terrestrial ecosystems do not enter into the nine originally defined boundaries ranging from climate change to water availability, except peripherally through other boundaries such as land use and biodiversity. A rigorous research agenda is necessary to determine what quantity and quality of terrestrial ecosystems are required across landscapes so as to sustain the biosphere. This includes a spatially explicit way of indicating what extent of a landscape, bioregion, continent and global Earth System must remain in the form of connected and intact core ecological areas and semi-natural agroecological buffers, in order to sustain local ecosystem services as well as the biosphere commons. Connectivity of large ecosystem patches which remain the matrix for the landscape is a preeminent consideration. When ~60% of a natural ecosystem habitat remains, after just under 40% of the ecosystem has been destroyed, the landscape is said to percolate, and we see critical collapse of the "percolating cluster" – the dominant large habitat patch constituting the matrix of the landscape – into smaller, more distant habitat, in a sea of human development. This critical deterioration of habitat connectivity continues so that at or near 50% loss of a landscape or bioregon's natural vegetation, the natural habitat percolates from people within ecosystems, to natural islands surrounded by human works. This transition is likely to be similar at a continental and global scale.

A new planetary boundary threshold is proposed: that 60% of terrestrial ecosystems must be maintained across scales – with the boundary set at 66% as a precaution – as a safe space not only for humanity but for all life and to maintain the long-term viability of the biosphere. It is thought that loss and diminishment of terrestrial ecosystems aggregates from the local and regional scale, yet disrupts planetary process with this global scale threshold. It is hypothesized that ensuring natural ecosystems and their biogeochemical flows remain the context for human endeavors is a requirement to sustain the biosphere for the long term, and that fundamentally this requires large core ecological areas, and the critical connectivity of ecosystem processes and patterns, as the global and fractal landscape matrix. It is further proposed on the basis of ecology's percolation theory that two-thirds of the 66% of terrestrial ecosystems must be protected as ecological core areas (in total 44% of the global land mass as intact ecological cores, 22% as agroecological, agroforestry and managed forest buffers, and transition zones), to ensure the ecological integrity of the semi-natural agroecological landscapes, to maintain critical ecosystem connectivity across scales, and encompass semi-natural landscapes and bioregions within a matrix of intact nature to ensure that their own ecological patterns and processes are sustainable. Up to 50% of Earth's land surface has already been transformed from mostly wild to mostly anthropocentric, so the biosphere is likely to have already lost its global percolating cluster. If indeed bioregional and global scaled landscapes are similar to landscape and bioregional pattern, terrestrial ecosystem connectivity is already critically lacking, and the global ecosystem now exists as patches of nature within a sea of humanity. It is urgent to protect most of what remains and to begin reconstructing connected ecological landscape matrixes of intact ecosystems across scales, so that globally the biosphere can percolate back to connected nature as the provider of top-down context to human and all life.

To have meaning in guiding global ecological sustainability policy, these continental and global observations – and proposed 66% presence / 44% protected – planetary boundary for terrestrial ecosystem loss must be grounded in real-life landscape and bioregional conservation considerations. An example are efforts to achieve ecological sustainability, including maintaining continued viable populations of Asian elephants in the Western Ghats bioregion of India, particularly within Kerala state, as an umbrella species. The Asian elephant requires extensive and adequate natural habitat for its survival, and the Western monsoon depends upon forest-dependent pressure gradients – and thus the provision of both provides for water, clean air, soil, pollinators, and other ecosystem services for the region, nation, and biosphere. An initial expansive regional ecosystem mapping exercise that seeks to identify natural gradients in ecological importance has taken place in Kerala, but its largely top-down processes have faced organized socio-political resistance, it is not clear the scientifically valid mapping processes have enough understanding and support, and the legal structure is not in place to tie its requirements for local and regional sustainability to laws. As a real-world example, elephants moving across landscapes are emblematic and widely visible examples of the myriad types of flows that continue on a connected landscape, making life possible. It is suggested that as go the Western Ghats' and Kerala's Asian elephants and their habitat, so shall go the biosphere, and that it is crucial to build awareness that healthy ecosystems are essential to both local advancement and global sustainability. On the basis of taking such an ecosystem and landscape approach to the needs of Earth System sustainability, and given pernicious trends of ecosystem loss and decline, it is concluded that more attention is needed to prevent worst-case outcomes including biosphere collapse and a lifeless Earth, particularly because of abrupt climate change and ecosystem loss. A massive and global program to protect and restore natural ecosystems – funded by a carbon tax on fossil fuels – is presented as the sort of policy approach necessary at this time to avoid biosphere collapse. Humanity is now the major force shaping the biosphere, which, if current trends in ecological loss and diminishment continue, may collapse or die as a result.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Mr. President: Earth Does Not Have Forever

EARTH MEANDERS: Mr. President: Earth Does Not Have Forever

With under a month remaining before the U.S. Presidential election, it is not clear whether either candidate will address abrupt climate change and global ecosystem collapse, and related rollbacks of civil liberties and a state of drone-based perma-war. Clearly President Obama's general rhetoric on the environment is more promising, and Governor Romney is avowedly anti-nature, but the President's record on the environment is weak, and we are running out of time to stop abrupt climate change. Unless I hear specific policies from the President on climate, civil liberties, and drone warfare – I will not be voting for him – instead writing in "None of the Above".

War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength. – George Orwell

Ecocide is jobs. God is hate. Fairness is socialism. Science is lying. Education be dumb. Goodness is climate change. Truth is money. Ignorance is strength. – Romney and Republicans

Drones are love. Waiting is hope. Ecosystems are resources. Rhetoric is action. Justice is murder. Climate change is votes. Obama is god-like. War is peace. – Obama and Democrats


By Dr. Glen Barry, Ecological Internet
Earth Meanders come from Earth's Newsdesk


Mr. President: The Earth Does Not Have ForeverListening to the US Presidential election, you wouldn't know Earth faces ecological emergencies including abrupt climate change and ecosystem collapse in water, forests, and food. The United States and world are less free, green and peaceful places – largely because human growth has met ecological limits. Ongoing rollbacks of human rights and civil liberties, as well as the state of perma-war waged by drones terrorizing entire populations, is a direct result of environmental decline caused by industrial growth and the resulting scramble for oil and other resources in a globalized world.

The human family faces its greatest planetary emergency ever as Earth, humanity and all life are poised upon the precipice of total ecological, social and economic collapse. Earth's biosphere – the thin mantle of life from underground, through terrestrial ecosystems, to the top of the atmosphere – is being destroyed. Fisheries, soils, the atmosphere, forests, wetlands, water, oceans, food and other ecosystems are uniformly in decline or simply gone. Global ecological crises are destroying conditions necessary for a habitable Earth, and our descent into resource anarchy has begun.

Global change and ecological science are clear that we are near or have surpassed planetary boundaries required to maintain a livable Earth. We know with certainty that endless growth on a finite planet is impossible. Humanity powers down, abandons growth for a steady state economy, learns to live more simply – but well – and share, or the existence of all life, including our own, is threatened.

Continue reading "EARTH MEANDERS: Mr. President: Earth Does Not Have Forever" »

Saturday, August 18, 2012

This I Know to Be Ecological Truth



EARTH MEANDERS: This I Know to Be Ecological Truth

Abrupt climate change and ecosystem collapse, caused by human industrial growth at expense of ecology, are poised to utterly destroy our one shared biosphere, and thus virtually all life including humanity.
"I'm for truth, no matter who tells it. I'm for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I'm a human being, first and foremost, and as such I'm for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole." – Malcolm X

By Dr. Glen Barry, Ecological Internet
Earth Meanders come from Earth's Newsdesk

Ecology is the meaning of lifeEarth is an ancient organism, alive for 3.5 billion years. Only a few hundred years ago the disease of industrial capitalist growth arose, and is killing her by destroying her ecosystems. The current dominant economic paradigm mistakes ecosystem habitats – which are necessary for life – for disposable resources to be logged, mined, and burnt. Ancient, naturally evolved ecosystems are being stripped of life, largely for growth in throw-away consumer junk. As a result, water, soil, climate, and food systems are failing.

Human history can be summarized as the rich screwing the poor, stealing their work's surplus, while trashing ecosystems, at the point of a gun. For millennium, as human civilization developed, destroying ecosystems has been embraced as normal and desirable, particularly for agriculture. Over-population – going from 1.5 to 7 billion inequitable super-consumers in 125 years – has surpassed planetary ecological boundaries.

It has been routinely claimed that growth and liquidating natural habitat is progress and advancement, when in fact ecosystem loss is ecocide, and is killing us all. Ecosystem collapse is already here for one billion people globally without enough food, another billion lacking water, two billion living on less than $2 per day, and those subsisting on industrially over-developed and climate changed lands. Austerity in over-developed countries is in fact largely caused by ecosystem collapse, as jobs and easy growth from once-off harvesting of ecosystems ends. Without intact, healthy ecosystems, this is all our futures.

Continue reading "EARTH MEANDERS: This I Know to Be Ecological Truth" »

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Wisconsin Congressman Mark Pocan Spoke of Child Sex Tourism in Costa Rica

Congressman Pocan (left) boasted of traveling to Costa Rica for
Child Sex Tourism
The two independent accusations that Wisconsin 2nd District candidate Mark Pocan abuses children sexually keep on being removed from the web. Here is my original essay written in 2012, and the anonymous confirmation dated two weeks later, which confirmed that Mr. Pocan boasted to a large number of people regarding child sex tourism. After being reported to the FBI and Madison police, the response has been more scurrilous lies and a cover-up. Should Mr. Pocan be Madison's Congressman?



###

Wisconsin 2nd District: My Congressional Candidate Told Me He Is a Child Sex Tourist

I was present as State Representative Mark Pocan publicly regaled close associates at length with stories of traveling to Costa Rica for sex with young boys

Personal Essay by Dr. Glen Barry

July 26, 2012

For much of the late 1990s and early 2000s, I was a PhD student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Being the state capitol, as I reconnected with Andy Janssen, an old high school friend that works there, occasionally I socialized with state political big-wigs. One was my state assemblyman Mr. Mark Pocan – now running for Congress from Wisconsin’s second district. Over the course of several years I hung-out and drank in local bars with Mr. Pocan a few dozen times, and became a good acquaintance and fledgling – albeit infrequent – member at that time of his inner circle. I like the charismatic, progressive man immensely. Sadly, however, he revealed to others and me that he had traveled to Costa Rica to have sex with children.

In 2002 or thereabouts, Mr. Pocan publicly regaled half a dozen of his close associates and me with a story of having recently traveled to Costa Rica for the explicit purpose of seeking out sex with underage boys. We were at the local Democratic Party watering hole – drinking on a weekend like we had done many times before. Mr. Pocan told the story of traveling to Costa Rica for sex tourism with boys with great gusto. He included numerous and graphic details regarding how the Gulf coast of Costa Rica was full of children from poor fishing villages – described at length as being firm, young, and willing – that would congregate at local hotels, and for a few dollars go with you to your room for a night of sex.

It was a larger group than normal, and there were numerous other people there, close associates of Mr. Pocan, any one of whom should be able to confirm my account, if they can be appealed upon to speak truthfully. None appeared shocked, or even disturbed, at this raucous story of sexual misconduct. It seemed routine, the norm. There was much laughing and banter as apparently this sort of torrid story was not an unusual topic of conversation amongst the group. Again, Mr. Pocan said clearly he had explicitly traveled to Costa Rica for sexual tourism, and had in fact paid for sex with young boys, making him a child sex tourist.

The next time I drank with Mr. Pocan and his entourage, I made a fleeting comment regarding the story to Mr. Pocan in front of his then partner. Mr. Pocan later pulled me aside and told me bluntly that if I spoke of the matter again I was not welcome in his company. I chose to never socialize with Mr. Pocan and his entourage again. Soon I graduated with a PhD, and moved away from Madison for several years to protect the world’s rainforests. We have a close mutual friend, remained in loose contact as facebook friends on his initiative, and last year as I prepared to return to the area, Mr. Pocan provided a reference for one job application. I have recently moved back to Madison, and have had random, friendly, yet distant contact with Mr. Pocan on a couple occasions.
So what has changed? Why come forward now? I don’t feel like I have any choice but to do so. I like Mark. But he told me he had traveled overseas to a poor, struggling country, to sexually abuse children, and I can’t let that go unreported.  Mr. Pocan is running for Congress, and his campaign heralds his work protecting victims of rape. I can’t sit by as I know the person who is most likely to be my next Congressman is – by his own admission to me – a child rapist, as kids can never consent to sex with adults.

Coming after my recent diatribe against Governor Scott Walker’s poor character displayed in college, it appears that I am – at least with these two individuals – a sort of Forrest Gump of Wisconsin politics. In both instances I have not sought out publicity or any advantage, but have felt a strong sense that knowing what I know – based upon first-hand information – that I had the responsibility to do the right thing, and communicate the best I could what I personally knew to be true.

I am not a Democrat or a Republican, have little interest in state politics, and know virtually nothing about his opponents. I have absolutely no reason to lie, or to want to needlessly bring this upon others or myself. My only reasons are a commitment to keeping children safe from sexual predators, and being unable to live with a bad conscience.

I have tried hard to live a moral, ethical life committed to high standards of personal conduct, and to issues of global concern larger than myself. This has meant tremendous sacrifice to the cause of global ecological sustainability and the welfare of the human family. Nonetheless, like most everyone, I have had personal failures and have had to deal with anger, dependency and abuse issues. I have acted sexually irresponsible in my past, but never illegally or doing harm to a child, and would never do so.
As I have reached middle-age, I have successfully dealt with my personal issues – particularly having been the victim of childhood sexual abuse, and its decades long cover-up – which have been epidemic in my family. I was successfully groomed to keep childhood sexual abuse secret, which I have only just overcome.

This is a painful essay to write at many levels. I have agonized and sought out the counsel of several regarding this ethical dilemma. Many told me not to write this essay. Yet, as I pondered, I would recall how no one was my champion as I was a victim of childhood sexual abuse by powerful adults. I failed by not reporting Mr. Pocan’s disclosure immediately after it occurred, or any time over the years subsequently. I hate to come forward with these truthful claims now, but I have no choice. It is the ethical thing to do, and I am no Sandusky protector. This is no last minute revelation, as I have come forward with a full three and a half months before the general election.

If anything I am guilty of being enamored by power, of wanting to ingratiate myself with powerful people because of my own insecurities. Now I simply can’t stand by and knowingly watch as a child sex tourist becomes the next Congressperson – which oftentimes ends up being for life – representing the great city of Madison and surrounding areas. I am sure I will be pilloried by the politically correct – yet at times ethically challenged – progressive Madison scene for coming out against their favorite son. And I am fine with that, as my progressivism and commitment to truth go beyond posturing, to doing the right thing, even when difficult and personally challenging.

Truth matters. I have to be consistent – if I call out Governor Walker on personal knowledge of corruption and acting as a fascist while in college, I must call out State Representative Pocan on child sexual exploitation. I agree with Pocan nearly across the board on political issues. He is a solid and committed Progressive. But you can’t be having sex with kids. Not even if you travel out of America to find poor ones, who have no voice.

I apologize for not coming forward earlier. I have only just recently dealt fully with having myself been a victim of childhood sexual abuse, and am recovering from a serious medical condition related to my parathyroid that has clouded my affective judgment. Mark’s public admission has been reported to the Madison police and other appropriate authorities. I have absolutely nothing to gain by going public with this matter, yet quite a lot to lose as I am sure Representative Pocan’s campaign will lash out, and make all sorts of vile false claims to protect his candidacy.

My only satisfaction is that even when frightened, I have done the right thing and reported childhood sexual abuse; belatedly – and with shaking hands as I write – but nonetheless.

Inside I am a hurt little boy that was sexually abused, grew up in an environment where this went on repeatedly to others, and was abandoned by family and friends as I sought to recover. As I have healed, the issue of keeping childhood innocence safe from sexual predators has become profoundly important to me. I have zero tolerance for childhood sexual abuse, and want it to stop. That will only happen if people speak of the matter and come forward when they know of abuses.

Mr. Pocan is an admitted – amongst friends even a boastful – sexual abuser of children, and is not fit to be a U.S. Congressperson. This isn’t a gay, straight thing. It is a not getting away with raping poor foreign kids as a tourist – because you are an entitled powerful politician – thing. Again, I am sorry for not having come forward earlier.

###

Dr. Glen Barry is an internationally recognized environmental advocate, scientist, writer and technology expert. He is well-known within the environmental community as a leading global ecological visionary, public intellectual, and environmental policy critic. Dr. Barry's work as the President and Founder of Ecological Internet - the Earth's largest biocentric ecological advocacy web portals - was recently recognized as one of " 25 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World" by the Utne Reader. More: http://forests.org/staff/glen.asp

###

Here is the independent confirmation, a second person who came forward to support Dr. Barry's assertions:

Demonic Mark Pocan, Candidate for the 2nd Congressional District of Wisconsin Sex Tourist, Coward and Moral Degenerate

October 12, 2012

Recently there have been a number of accusations made against  Mark Pocan, well known Madison progressive and congressional hopeful. When I learned about these allegations and the source behind them, I realized that a proverbial Pandora’s Box had been opened and that it was time to break a cycle of fear, shame, embarrassment and silence that I (and many others) have been living in for quite  some time now.  Be it for reasons of concerns for our safety, fear of alienation or  simply hoping  that someone else would say something, those of us who know of these shameful acts have remained silent over the years; and it is time for us to step forward and hold ourselves and Mr. Pocan accountable for the roles each of us has played in this truly disgraceful story.

I will begin by saying that I am a gay man. As a gay man, I have felt the hurt that comes along with the perception that all gay men are sexual predators. I know that by coming forward with this story and showing that another gay man, especially a high-profile gay man, has committed these acts that it will only strengthen that perception. That both saddens and angers me. I am saddened that the vast, vast majority of gay men who would never even consider harming a child will still be cast in the same light as the small and repulsive percentage that does. I am angered that any person, gay or straight would ever victimize a child. I am angered that someone of that character holds office and that those of us who knew of his atrocities protected him out of some warped sense of self preservation. It is time for those of us with knowledge of these acts come forward and prevent them from happening again.

For most of 2001 - 2008 I was in a relationship with one of the people that Dr. Barry describes in his article as a member of Mr. Pocan’s “inner circle” and was thus, by proxy, also a member of that circle. The story relayed in Dr. Barry’s essay is not only factual and accurate, but it is not an isolated incident. The open relationship enjoyed by Mr. Pocan and his partner is no great secret in the local gay community; and Mark’s preference to younger men is no secret either. During my acquaintance with him he was a regular at the UW’s LGBT Campus Center “Ten Percent Society” dances, a place no respectable gentleman of a certain age ought to be scoping out college freshmen. His aggressive behavior towards these men was obvious and even to those of us not in the “inner circle”, ought to have been a warning sign that there was an issue.

But, as we often do with “celebrities” we were all willing to turn a blind eye to save the community as a whole the embarrassment. Frankly, it was unconscionable of us to do so and this is the time to make it right.

Those of us who were in that inner circle, who have been told the lurid and heartbreaking details of Mark Pocan’s sexual encounter’s with underage boys have a moral obligation to speak out. We stayed silent for our own reasons but ultimately we must face the fact that in our silence and complicity, we too have become guilty. Each person abused since then is as much our victim as they are his. And now that the secret is out and Pandora’s Box is open, we are personally responsible for any person he hurts from this point forward.

Mr. Pocan has done a great deal of crowing about his “Compassionate Care for Rape Victims” billl, something which is very politically advantageous of him to do as the idea of compassion for victims of rape is universally accepted as a good thing. Victims of any sort of abuse need to be sheltered and protected under the law whenever possible.

It is odd, however, that he has declined to talk about another big topic he took on with equal vigor: the weakening of Jessica’s Law. As quoted by in The Isthmus:

“Pocan, who has voted against several pieces of sex-predator legislation, including the recent lifetime GPS tracking, believes the state should revisit the more sweeping legislation it's enacted over the last 15 years.

"If someone is not really a threat to society, and we know they're really not a threat to society, we're taking their life and screwing it up," says Pocan. "There's the politics of it and then there's the science of it, and the politics of it is off the chart right now. If you want to be tough on crime, you're tough on sex predators. You use sex predators to mean everybody, because you don't differentiate, because there is no intellectual thought put into what you're saying."   -Nathan J. Comp. (2007/November/09). The Sex Offenders Among Us. The Isthmus

That sort of thing might not be so politically advantageous for him to talk about, obviously. So why take it on in the first place?

Simple - it is personally advantageous for him to do so. We have allowed a child rapist to write the laws that penalize those arrested for sex offenses.

That is wrong, it is immoral and it needs to be corrected.

In an even more egregious display of irony, Mr. Pocan is endorsed by the Human Rights Campaign. It is reprehensible that an organization that claims to protect “human rights” is endorsing, funding and aiding a man who has robbed those less fortunate of the basic human right of dignity.

The rest of the “inner circle” that Dr. Barry alluded to - we all know who we are and we know who each other are. It is our moral and civic duty to come forward, to speak plainly and to expose this miscarriage of justice. We must look to ourselves and as if we are willing to stand for what is right, whether or not it is dangerous, and whether or not it is the popular thing to do.

Many people unfamiliar with how that gay community works will probably scoff at the idea of  this being dangerous. It is not a laughing matter. The community is one that demands unwavering allegiance or you face alienation, threats, and occasionally violence. For that reason, I am writing this anonymously. Some may call it cowardice, and thats fair. Much of what I have done in this matter up until now has come from cowardice.

I admit to my personal failings as a man and as a citizen that held me hostage in a cycle of silence. I carry the burden of those that I have hurt by my silence and no apology can atone for that. All I can do is move forward in a moral and upright manner, and this is that first step.

To Dr. Glen Barry - I thank you for making me realize my moral obligation to come forward. I admire your courage and commitment to the truth and I regret the backlash that you have suffered for it. I have reached out to you via a gentleman who wrote you a letter and left a card at your home. I urge you, please, to contact him so that you and I can stand together in this. 2 people alone can be ignored and swept away. 2 people together constitutes probable cause.

Monday, July 9, 2012

U.S. Abrupt Climate Change 2012: Where Will You Be the Day Earth’s Death Became Unavoidable?



EARTH MEANDERS: U.S. Abrupt Climate Change 2012: Where Will You Be the Day Earth’s Death Became Unavoidable?

The world’s and especially America’s environment has gone mad during the summer of 2012. Abrupt climate change is clearly upon us, and life-giving ecosystems are visibly failing, portending doom for our shared biosphere, all life, and humanity. Given overshoot of ecological boundaries, and failure to pursue concerted national and global sustainable development and ecological sustainability policy, 2012 may well be the year Earth’s death through collapse of its one shared biosphere becomes inevitable.

By Dr. Glen Barry, Ecological Internet
Earth Meanders come from Earth's Newsdesk

Where Will You Be the Day Earth’s Death Became Unavoidable?Abrupt Climate Change Is Now

Fundamentally the meaning of life is ecosystems [search]. Without a healthy, intact, diverse and operational environment - humanity and all life simply cannot exist. As a result of the human ecocidal system of industrial growth, local ecosystems are being destroyed globally for insatiable human consumption. Life of every sort – including Gaia, the Earth system herself – is dying.

Earth's biosphere - the thin mantle of life from underground to the top of the atmosphere, which self-regulates the Earth System to keep it habitable - is collapsing. Ecological science knows this with certainty – in disciplines including planetary boundaries, limits to growth, global change and ecology. If nothing is done, massive social and ecological collapse is imminent, and the end of biological being is possible. Earth is burning and the human family is essentially doing nothing.

Continue reading "EARTH MEANDERS: U.S. Abrupt Climate Change 2012: Where Will You Be the Day Earth’s Death Became Unavoidable?" »

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Wisconsin Embraces Fascism



Aspiring, Sticky-Sweet Authoritarian Dictator Remains Firmly in Power

June 6, 2012
Personal essay by Dr. Glen Barry

Wisconsin is a less free and decent place this morning. The human right to freely and openly associate and organize with colleagues to negotiate the best price for your labor just barely exists, and people that form unions to do so are villainous thugs. Women are less equal. Gays and blacks are sub-human. Teachers, intellectuals, progressives, atheists, and other knowledgeable, free thinking peoples have less rights and prestige. A sticky-sweet taint lingers in the air.

Largely uneducated yet belligerent rural rednecks, out-of-state billionaires, and white suburban Milwaukee ghetto usurers are firmly in control. They are taking names, coming for what you have, and preparing to force their worldview upon anyone who has not yet drunk the corporatist kool-aid. The air, water, soil and vegetation Wisconsin’s citizens depend upon for life now lie virtually unprotected. Corporations – which we are told are people – are firmly in control. God is in the government and regulates our bodies and bedrooms.

Right-wing, teabagger, nutjob politicians no longer have to campaign on the issues upon which they will actually govern, or even mention the policies they will pursue once in office. Money is speech and anything can be said, or even made up, and stated over and over again, until glassy eyed we fall into line behind the great leader. Our Governor’s boorish past conduct and patterns of election fraud since youth have never mattered, never will, and will be erased along with fascist and illegal union busting tactics from our history.

Neighbors begrudge neighbors their modest health insurance, education and pension – rather than organizing and educating themselves to have them too.  People of all sorts that better themselves by banding together into unions and/or becoming educated are unworthy of deferred compensation they freely negotiated, earned and are owed. Teachers, firefighters, cops, government workers, and their unions caused 911 and the ongoing financial collapse; and they will be punished now and long into the future, until they repent of their socialist ways.

Being smart¸ and training your mind through a process called education, is dumb and no longer valued in Wisconsin. Funds for our formerly world-class schools and Universities have been returned to our state’s elite absentee billionaire slumlords, where because of their great benevolent virtue, they rightly belong. Those who are educated are less than fully American, and their views, especially if fact, data, knowledge, or wisdom based; are not to be trusted. There are no experts on anything, just opinion. Truth comes from a tightened fist.

There will be no salvation from homegrown Wisconsin fascism. The national tea party is bent upon dumbing us down and enslaving us for god and greed. The great black hope and assassin in chief busies himself with nominating alleged terrorists - including American citizens - for the drone kill list in sovereign nations. Our economy was plundered by the elites, who are now the power behind the throne in Wisconsin, and also our commander-in-chief’s top advisors and funders. No one has gone to jail.

Both Wisconsin’s state and national leaders routinely permanently rollback civil liberties and ignore ecological collapse at great peril. Wisconsin’s progressive leadership is overly focused upon preening, posing, celebrity journalist activists – who lead the protests, report upon them, and are followed by their own video crews. Whenever the party of Roosevelt rules it meekly fails to stand for much of anything but re-election. The party of Reagan – led now by a bullying uber-corporatist – overreaches and continually cheapens America’s great democratic traditions.

Rarely are political, universal truths of justice, liberty, fairness, peace, equity, ecology, and human rights spoken courageously any longer – much less enacted. Sensibly caring for the well-being of others, sharing when you have enough, nurturing children and the land are thought to be quaint relicts of an over-taxed era. Others would consider this the price of democracy and civilization, such as it is.

Wisconsinites – like the rest of the nation – are left in the coming Presidential election with picking the lesser of two fascists. Freedom from fascist and corporatist rule – and the scapegoating, sexism, nationalism, militarism, propaganda lies; and gutting of unions, education, environmental protection and civil liberties this implies – is a precondition to living justly, fairly and well; and to sustaining global ecology and social well-being long-term.

The American dream of hyper-consumption for some is over because it couldn’t be sustained ecologically or socially. America can’t expect to reap the ill-gotten benefits – all too often seized at the point of a gun – of 4% of Earth’s people consuming 25% of key global resources any longer. The 2.5 billion people globally living on $2 a day understandably want their fair share too. The natural and painful consequences of downsizing America’s extreme lifestyles and unwinding horrific disparities is sadly leading to demagoguery, a decline in truth telling, and yes, the rise of fascism in the American heartland.

America has lost its way. Our ecosystems and economic system are collapsing, fascism rising, and conflict growing – do we want societal and ecological collapse to come as we are at each other’s throats? Things are heading that way. We are becoming the terrorists we abhor. And all the reasons are evident in microcosm in Wisconsin. Decent, thoughtful folks in Wisconsin tried valiantly but ultimately failed for now to combat the John Birch, KKK, Tea Party inspired rise of hateful and destructive fascism.  But the battle to retake our great state and country from the fascists has just begun.

I hate fascism, and urge you to join together with others and myself to resist a corporate takeover and enslavement of America. Going forward, all thinking reasonable lovers of truth-based liberty, freedom, and the decent essence of America, must come together to form an Anti-Fascist League. Failure means an overtly fascist America, of the sort now destroying Wisconsin.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker Is STILL Unfit for Office

Come clean Governor Walker and Marquette University, and tell us why Walker left college under dodgy circumstances


Personal Essay by Dr. Glen Barry

May 22, 2012

The year was 1988 – current Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is running for Marquette University student body President. Hoping to shake off the embarrassing loss to a write-in candidate for resident hall President the year before, Walker is pulling out all the charm and hardnosed political tactics at his disposal. Things are going well until the student newspaper retracts its endorsement, calling candidate Walker “unfit for office”, but I am getting ahead of myself.

For the 99% of you reading this essay – who are not from Wisconsin – Scott Walker is the latest tea party right wing, uneducated, superstitious nut job bent upon destroying America with a virulent form of conservatism bordering upon fascism. In early 2011, after only days in office, and without running on the issue, Walker threatened to call out the state national guard to ram through reforms to gut public unions. Over coming months, Wisconsin citizens fought back – coming out by the hundreds of thousands in a “Cheddar Rebellion” to protest and occupy the state capitol. Thus began a year of Walker’s war upon the unions, environment, women, education and basic human decency.

I had the misfortune of being a college classmate of Scott Walker. Walker attended Marquette from 1986 to 1990, two years younger than I. He was a laughable dork – dumb, full of himself, and authoritarian. Being deeply imperfect myself, nonetheless, I have to speak up on how going to college with Walker showed him to be a piece of work. And that his bad conduct, which began there, and led to a harsh and unjust start to his political life, which remains ugly and dangerous to this day, do in fact indicate Walker remains unfit for office.

Fresh from Badger Boys State leadership conference, freshly shorn of his mullet, and in ill-fitting suits; Scott rolled onto campus in 1986 at 18 already running for office. He was constantly speaking in sound bites, with a false sugary sweetness, about taxes and abortion – the only issues which Scott Walker truly cared about other than his personal quest for power.

To put it politely, Walker was not the sharpest tool in the shed, actually amongst the least sharp. With a C average (if that) and never graduating, I am not surprised to see him making up his own math on jobs when the real numbers don’t suit him. This reflects the utter disdain with which he holds truth, knowledge, education, and anything else that clashes with his absolutist worldview of religious and corporate based rule. As a classmate, he displayed a shocking lack of curiosity, original thought, or interest in topics other than his political ascendency.

Walker’s debut in Marquette student politics as a freshman began by stirring up the campus with a McCarthyite investigation into misspending by the Homecoming committee. Despite the President and Vice-President of student government having already resigned over personal expenditures by a larger group of student leaders from student funds (including myself and others unknowingly), no criminal charges of any kind, and no hard evidence of wrong-doing by anyone – Walker grandstands and leads a student government trial of myself and others, that could have been avoided if he so chose.

Walker lost on all counts, but not before destroying a few people’s reputations, and amassing personal power. Sound familiar? Thus began an over 25 year record of bullying to get what he wants, of being insincere and narcissistic, and political grandstanding at the expense of others¸ all for personal self-aggrandizement, and without an ounce of either personal or political virtue.

Later in his freshman year Walker runs for his first campus-wide office – the President of the resident halls – and is beaten by a hastily cobbled together write-in campaign which I helped organize. Already the campus had soured upon a plastic, dishonest, conniving personality.

During Walker’s student body Presidential campaign in his sophomore year, things only worsen. Initially the Marquette Tribune student newspaper endorsed Walker’s opponent – a progressive activist working on social justice issues in the community – but said both would make a good student body president.

But this tepid endorsement changed after Walker was sanctioned for illegal campaigning on numerous occasions, and brutal personal attacks upon his opponent’s character, mocking his commitment to help the poor.  In an unprecedented move, just days before the election, the newspaper retracted itself and declared Walker "unfit for office". In response, Walker’s campaign began secretly and systematically throwing out copies of the newspaper that endorsed his opponent. He lost in a land slide and was deeply humiliated by his poor conduct.

Thus began an early pattern of ridiculing those concerned with social justice, homelessness, militarism, and racism. Forget about it, in his corporatist and religious world, such issues are not of concern. To care for others’ needs is unlikely to further his political power grab. Reducing taxes and ruling women’s bodies is all he cared about then, and all he seems to care passionately about now.

Scott Walker shamed himself by the way he acted at Marquette. His campaign was one of the dirtiest in school history. Walker left the university not long afterward. The fact that Walker has refused to release his transcripts, along with information why he left, raises reasonable questions if Walker left school on his own volition, as he claims, or if there was another reason and he was kicked out.

I wish I could say definitely why he never graduated – it is a closely guarded secret. I believe the general line of thinking – that Scott Walker was caught cheating. Both Walker and Marquette University should end their cover-up of what occurred. Instead Marquette hails Walkers as a “Marquette alumnus” even though he only attended and did not graduate.

I should note that in his junior year, after being pummeled in student politics, Walker seemed a reformed and humbled man, and tried to make amends. For a while he was just himself, and not always conniving to get something with false plastic, creepy insincerity. Indeed, I have fond memories of drinking beers with a more humane Walker, as friendly adversaries. Yet clearly he went back over to the dark side after leaving Marquette, returning to his scorched Earth, divide-and-conquer mentality that got him in so much trouble there, and to this day.

Scott Walker is still unfit for office. During his time as Milwaukee County executive, massive illegal fund-raising went on feet from his office door. In the past year and a half, Governor Walker preemptively threatened not only eerily to call out the National Guard, he threatened to illegally arrest political opponents. He refers to hard working nurses, fire-fighters, cops, teachers, and government workers as union thugs. For months he illegally limited access to the Capitol – the people’s house. Corporate interests were given the keys to the state, and told to go forth and plunder.

And now Governor Walker has sold out the state to the national tea party movement for a 25 to 1 advantage in money for his recall campaign – and is saturating the airwaves with lies, trying to buy the election.

In closing, let me note it is really sad to see a politician taking advantage of the jealousy between those that did not work hard in school, did not get an education, and thus have smaller opportunities; and those that worked hard to build their minds, and now work in professional, yet underpaid public service jobs. His campaign preys upon class jealousy, ignorance and racism in rural areas, kowtowing to the lowest denominator of decency in the populace.

I know a petty tyrant when I see one. Scott Walker is concerned with one thing, power. He has shown time and again that he has a very limited view of the world, and will ram through policies not because they work or he believes in them, but because he is an aspiring tinpot dictator.

Walker seeks to consolidate his power with every move he makes. Everything comes down to a cruel calculus of whether it benefits him personally and politically, with no concern regarding the line of victims behind him, or concern with such “socialist” virtues as human rights, economic justice, equity, and sustaining ecology.

Walker’s glib narcissism borders upon sociopathy. If this is the best the right wing nut jobs have we are in profound trouble as ecosystems, rights, justice, and equity are all rolled back in the interest of low paying jobs and corporate rule. In fact, Walker’s conduct meets all the definitions of a classic fascist – authoritarian, gutting unions and education, scapegoating, threatening violence, vilifying critics, being charming yet falsely charismatic, and commitment to corporatist rule.

Scott Walker is a bad and dangerous man. There is something fundamentally wrong with Walker’s personality that makes him unfit for office – both then and now. That’s my and many others’ conclusion after seeing how abusive and ill-tempered he was then, and how bad of political bully he has become.

Let me be clear - I have not a shred of jealousy regarding my former classmate. I would never want to rule over women’s bodies, dismantle Wisconsin’s prized educational system, sell-out the state with massive tax breaks to out-of-state corporations, or wage war upon tribal rice lands and working families. And I recognize unions – the right to associate with others to organize to sell your labor to the highest bidder – to be a fundamental human right.

I am not fit to be governor, and abhor local politics, focusing instead upon issues of global ecological sustainability. And I was no angel in college, partying too much and a caddish oaf towards women, despite graduating with honors. But I am not running for governor, nor misrepresenting myself like Walker, and certainly not untruthfully taking away others’ rights, while again trying to steal an election, in order to cravenly pursue absolute power.

I don’t know who will win the recall, but I do know that if you are expecting things to settle down if Walker wins, you are going to be disappointed. For his whole life Walker has created crises to then divide and conquer opposition in order to consolidate his power.

Though Governor Walker never attained the Marquette student body presidency – he has an awful lot in common with one of Wisconsin’s other infamous politicians who did – Senator Joe McCarthy. Have you no sense of decency, Scottie, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Great Rainforest Heist

EARTH MEANDERS: The Great Rainforest Heist

How environmental groups gone bad greenwash logging Earth’s last primary old forests

Essay by Dr. Glen Barry, Ecological Internet
Earth Meanders come from Earth's Newsdesk


How environmental groups gone bad greenwash logging Earth’s last primary old forestsThe world’s pre-eminent environmental organizations, widely perceived as the leading advocates for rainforests and old growth, have for decades been actively promoting primary forest logging [search]. Groups like Greenpeace, Rainforest Action Network (RAN), The Nature Conservancy, Conservation International, World Wide Fund for Nature/World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Environmental Defense Fund actively promote industrially logging Earth’s last old forests. Through their support of the existing “Forest Stewardship Council” (FSC), and/or planned compromised “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation” (REDD), they are at the forefront of destroying ancient forests for disposable consumer items – claiming it is “sustainable forest management” and “carbon forestry”.

Rainforest movement corruption is rampant as these big bureaucratic, corporatist NGOs conspire to log Earth's last primary rainforests and other old growth forests. Collectively the “NGO Old Forest Sell-Outs” are greenwashing FSC’s destruction of over 300,000,000 acres of old forests, destroying an area of primary rainforests and other old forests the size of South Africa (two times the size of Texas)! FSC and its members have built a massive market for continued business as usual industrially harvested primary forest timbers – with minor, cosmetic changes – certifying as acceptable murdering old forests and their life for consumption of products ranging from toilet paper to lawn furniture. Some 70% of FSC products contain primary forest timbers, and as little as 10% of any product must be from certified sources.

Continue reading "EARTH MEANDERS: The Great Rainforest Heist" »