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*Version 1.0, not yet peer reviewed, or final edits for publication in conference proceedings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



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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.

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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

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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.