Friday, April 12, 2013

Using Our Voices: We will not be Silent on Tar Sands Expansion

               Last Tuesday I attended a talk at the Brookings Institute - a DC based non-profit think tank - titled US Alberta Energy Relations: A Conversation with Allison Redford. I attended with the full intention of having a conversation about Tar Sands extraction and the climate consequences with Premier Allison Redford - the lead government official from Alberta, Canada. When I arrived I quickly realized that I was not going to be having a conversation with anyone. In this form of "conversation" the Brookings Institute asks audience participants to write down their questions on a card that get passed up, then a woman chooses which questions get asked and the Chairman of Cambridge Energy Research Association, Daniel Yergin get's to talk to Premier Redford about the question. 
My viewpoint looking at Premier Redford and Alex Yergin
                According to the dictionary the definition of conversation is "The informal exchange of ideas by spoken words." Instead of having a conversation -which by everyone's connotation implies an exchange of ideas with voices - the Brooking Institute chose to assault and kick-out anyone who sought to use their voices to have a real conversation with Premier Allison Redford. By the end of my time at the hearing, I would be assaulted by security guards and removed from the room for attempting a conversation about the climate impacts of tar sands extraction and proliferation. Here's the video and below is my story.  Here's a link to a major news outlet that covered "the interruption." Here's a link to the entire conversation via webcast made available by the Brookings Institute.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Label GMO's! Stone Soup Rally, part of my story, and a recording of the song "Adam Smith"

As many of you know, I just completed a three year walk across America picking up trash the entire way called Pick Up America. I am writing this to tell one of many stories about our country that I was able to witness firsthand.I am also writing this to build momentum for the Stone Soup Rally happening next Monday at the FDA in College Park. (RSVP here).  Here's the flyer for the rally. 
 For about 1,400 miles of the American heartland I saw the same thing. Everyday, I'd gaze into what seemed to be an endless field of corn or soybean. I'd see rivers choked with sediment and on particularly humid days I could even smell the pesticides hanging in the air. It was a far cry from the "down on the farm" vision I had always had for the Midwest. Aside from the small towns, the midwest seemed to be one giant corn and soybean field spanning to the north, east, south and west for more than 10 states.
Growing just one or two heavily subsidized crops throughout our hearltand is an environmental travesty in itself. It causes rapid degradation of two of life's most precious resources - our soil and our flowing water. It requires huge amounts of climate altering, fossil fuel fertilizers to produce our food. It pours herbicides and pesticides all over our countryside killing bees and the diversity of bugs that can provide resilience to evolving pathogens. It keeps diversity of life, the staple of planetary evolution, at an abysmal low. And it is only this way only because large agriculture industries seek to control our entire seed bank and food chain to maximize profits.
  After these GMO corn and soybeans are processed they are mostly transferred to CAFO's -Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations - to make the meat most American's believe to be the staple of a "real meal." The other corn and soybeans are made into intensely processed foods that come into our lives as fast food, TV dinners, and high fructose corn syrup. While this may seem to be an overstatement to some, with all I've seen and heard I stand by this honestly - The primary reason for disease and illness in America is this process of producing our food. And it's all done this way because there are a vast majority of people who don't know any better and with their ignorance are supporting a fossil fuel drenched status quo that is on track to destroying a livable planet.