Thursday, November 29, 2007
"A specific type of leadership is emerging that is developing the authority and resources to convene and maintain the dialogues for developing shared visions and perspectives. Movement diplomats work to complement civil society's paid staff, charismatic visionaries, influential philanthropists, community organizers, and organizational heads. Trained and supported directly by organizations or communities, these diplomats are charged with the task of building systemic coalitions. They translate the rhetoric of different factions, foster communication and find common ground. They provoke learning in their own organizations in addition to reaching out to form alliances. This new evolution in leadership includes core competencies of facilitation, strategic dialogue, systems thinking, and familiarity with future scenarios and the requirements of a sustainable world."
From a paper from the Tellus Institute - www.tellus.org
From a paper from the Tellus Institute - www.tellus.org
Thursday, November 22, 2007
The core problem: We have a business relationship with nature and the nurturing qualities in ourselves, rather than a reverence relationship with nature and the nurturing qualities in ourselves.
From business to reverence.
David Korten writes in the latest issue of Yes! Magazine:
"If there is to be a human future, we must bring ourselves into balance with one another and the Earth. This requires building economies with Heart."
His entire article is excellent. I recommend it highly!
Illustration by Don Baker for YES! Magazine.www.evidenceofhumanity.org
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Project for Ending Farmer Suicide
Quoted from Amma's website: www.amma.org
"Tens of thousands of beneficiaries have been recently added. Please read on for more details.
Due to economic pressures leading to irresolvable debt associated with continually failing crops, many farmers have been committing suicide by drinking the very pesticides that no longer work on their crops. Especially in South India, with the growing rise of climate changes and other factors, crop failure has become more and more common causing suicide to spread like an epidemic amongst the suffering farmers. For example, in 2006 in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra alone, there were 1,044 reported suicides - one every eight hours.
In the spring of this year, after discussions on the issue with Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, Amma found herself pledging 43 million dollars to address this problem. She admitted later the large dollar amount she had pledged surprised her but in the moment she had felt drawn to offering at least that much to help the situation. As part of the pledge, Amma offered that the MA Math would launch a massive project to provide aid and hope for the future for these struggling farmers.
"The problem cannot be solved through economic packages alone," Amma told the Maharashtra CM. "What is needed is social and spiritual interventions so that the farmers realize that suicide is not the way out. In fact, it only further aggravates the problem for the families. Feeling immense compassion for their suffering due to their unfortunate circumstances, Amma felt counseling and education could really help them get through to the other side. .Yet another generation should not become slaves of emotional weakness like suicide," Amma said. "Rather than that, they should understand that they need to develop self confidence. The future generation should have the mental strength to face life's challenges."
On 27 September 2007, the Ashram inaugurated two programs responding to this dire situation: Vidyamritam and Amrita SREE. These projects focus aid on the places with highest farmer-suicide rates - Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. These two initial relief projects are aimed at lessening the financial strain placed upon such agricultural families.
Vidyamritam - Educational Scholarships
Through Vidyamritam, the Ashram is providing full scholarships for free education to 100,000 children (ages 10 to 15) of farmers living below the poverty line. Many of the beneficiaries are in fact children who have lost one or both parents to suicide. The children receive a monthly stipend until they finish their education, subject to their performance in their studies.
Since the announcement of the project, thousands of applications have been received and they continue to pour in daily. Because of the huge response, the number of beneficiaries continues to grow.
As an extension of this project, the MA Math is conducting awareness programs to inculcate life skills for personality development.
A newsletter containing articles, stories and discussion forums to further facilitate the intellectual and mental growth is also being received by all the children. Furthermore, special advanced-education camps and symposiums on environmental preservation are being conducted.
Amrita SREE (Self-Reliance Education & Employment)
Through Amrita SREE, the Ashram is providing free vocational training to 5,000 different groups of women from impoverished agricultural families. Though many of these women have now incurred their husband's debt due to suicide, the MA math has been supporting them in building their own businesses through vocational training in various fields, including tailoring, making snacks for small-scale industries, electrical repair, and making paper products. After completion of their training, the women are given the necessary start-up capital to begin small, home-based businesses.
The use of pesticides and its effect on the life of farmers:
Currently many non-organic, commercial foods are genetically modified. Genetically modified organisms (GMO) present a profound danger to humans as well as the ecosystem. Many species of animals, such as the monarch butterflies are becoming extinct due to the GMOs. For vegetarians, GMOs pose another problem, as they are frequently spliced from animal DNA. It is hypothesized by many experts that the GMO food will eventually even alter human DNA. As GMOs are a recent creation their long term effects are unknown.
In India and other developing nations, western based GMO / pesticide companies are aggressively promoting extremely heavy use of chemicals for farming. This is leading to serious depletion of soil and contamination of the water. Many insects are developing stronger resistance to pesticides and sometimes even huge amounts of chemical are ineffective. For this reason many farmers have little or no yield, year after year. Having gone deeply in debt to these chemical companies, the farmers begin to feel hopeless. Unfortunately, large numbers of Indian farmers are committing suicide by drinking their pesticides. Amma has expressed concern about this issue, and is working to help the farmers and their families. When we choose organic, non-GMO foods, we can also do our part to end this tragic situation."
Friday, November 16, 2007
There are significant costs associated with dealing with the simple EFFECTS of global warming.
This article in the Christian Science Monitor is the first one I have seen being written about how costs of the effects of global warming are being dealt with.
This is a necessary step in maintaining the integrity of our civilization.
Dordrecht, Netherlands - The Dutch enjoy a hard-earned reputation for building river dikes and sea barriers. Over centuries, they have transformed a flood-prone river delta into a wealthy nation roughly twice the size of New Jersey.
If scientific projections for global warming are right, however, that success will be sorely tested. Globally, sea levels may rise up to a foot during the early part of this century, and up to nearly three feet by century's end. This would bring higher tidal surges from the more-intense coastal storms that scientists also project, along with the risk of more frequent and more severe river floods from intense rainfall inland.
Nowhere does this aquatic vise squeeze more tightly than on the world's densely populated river deltas.
So why is one of the most famous deltas – the Netherlands – breaching some river dikes and digging up some of the rare land in this part of the country that rises (barely) above sea level?
In the Biesbosch, a small inland delta near the city of Dordrecht, ecologist Alphons van Winden looks out his car window at a lone excavator filling a dump truck with soil. He considers the question and laughs. "We do have a hard time explaining this to foreigners," he says.
The work here represent a keystone in the country's climate-adaptation plans, Mr. van Winden says. Indeed, nowhere are adaptation planning efforts to address rising sea levels and flooding more advanced than in the Netherlands.
To be sure, the country's economic wealth and long experience dealing with threats from seas and rivers give it an advantage over other low countries that face rising waters, such as Bangladesh, Vietnam, and the tiny tropical island nation of Tuvalu in the South Pacific. But many of the approaches the Netherlands is taking can and are being slowly adopted even in countries far poorer, specialists say.
The excavation work here is one example of what van Winden calls "soft approaches" to flooding in this small nation where competing interests jostle for every square foot of land. By buying out the few farmers remaining in this region, breaching the dikes they built to protect their land, and digging additional water channels, the Dutch government aims to reduce peak flood flows at Dordrecht and other cities downstream. No longer will tightly constricted river and canal channels hold high water captive. Big floods will overspread the Biesbosch, reducing the threat of water spilling over the top of levees that guard densely populated cities to the west.
The Biesbosch may also be critical to the future of farming on the productive southwest coast. There, most of the area's fresh water sources are close to the coast – and vulnerable to salt-water contamination from a rising North Sea. This could make farming difficult, if not impossible. The Biesbosch, however, hosts three large reservoirs, each surrounded by a 20-foot-high dike. Fresh water piped from these reservoirs, some 50 miles inland, could keep coastal areas supplied.
1.4 billion live near seacoast
Globally, some 21 percent of the world's 6.6 billion people live within 20 miles of a seacoast – and nearly 40 percent within 60 miles, says Robert Nicholls, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Southampton in England.
Seacoast populations who face the greatest risk from floods, storms, and sea-level rise live on river deltas, says the UN-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
In the IPCC's latest set of reports on the impact of global warming, released earlier this year, scientists looked at data from 40 of the globe's river deltas, home to 300 million people. If current trends continue through 2050, flooding in the Nile, Mekong, and Ganges-Brahmaputra river deltas could each displace more than 1 million people. Up to a million more may be forced to head for higher ground in each of another nine deltas, including the Mississippi River delta. Up to 50,000 could be forced to relocate in each of 12 other deltas, including the Rhine River delta – an area known more widely as the Netherlands.
Besides global warming, scientists say the challenges these regions face have other causes as well. Levees, sea walls, drainage canals, dams, and other land-use patterns have taken a toll. Deltas tend to subside (sink) naturally, accentuating the rise in sea level. Past engineering projects can actually limit the ability of natural processes to replenish the land mass of deltas.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
There is an event this weekend in LA called "Manifesting a Rich Life," which I will not be able to attend...
What is wonderful about the conference is that it is really hitting the heart of materialism and consumerism, some of the greatest challenges of of our civilization.
The speakers and the titles are unlike any other wealth oriented conference I have heard of.
They are addressing the core of happiness and wealth, while recognizing that we need to transform our relationship with money and material abundance to find true contentment and happiness.
Some of the speakers and the titles of their presentations are great thoughts alone:
LYNNE TWIST - Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Life
GAY HENDRICKS - The Ten Principles and
Practices That Create Love, Abundance and Vibrant Wellbeing
REV. WENDY CRAIG-PURCELL - After You Know That You Can “Have It All", "Now What?
RICK JAROW - The Tantric Alchemy of Abundance:
Coming into Radiant Relationship with Everything & Everyon
It looks like a great event.
The European Space Agency has released reports showing that shrinking ice in the north pole has opened transportation routes between Asia and Europe that have not been open for many thousands of years...
The phenomena has opened up international scrambling to claim trade route oversight and territorial rights. Canada and Russia have claimed authority to monitor the waterways, while Europe and USA call for making the waters international territory.
The BBC posted an article and other data on the matter. What is of great interest to me is that there is a very cool little graphic provided that shows how the Arctic Ice has shrunk over the last 27 years, and how it has accelerated in the last couple of years.... this tells me that warming is accelerating at an increasing rate and that there will be very much change ahead...article.