Tag Archives: Global Warming

SAYING YES SOMETIMES MEANS SAYING NO 

Many of you know that I have been learning French non-stop for the last three years, and some are aware that I wanted to go back to France to visit or live. Moving there is not possible, due to the difficulties of acquiring a visa without actually owning a home or having relatives in the country. And these same visa requirements, meant that I had to limit any temporary stay to 3 months or less. I had begun to plan a trip that would have allowed me to visit friends in Paris and Rouen, and near Lyon and finally a month in Guillestre in the French alps, visiting one of my favorite French friends. I had looked at certain Airbnb places in those three regions and was on the cusp of making reservations, when I was temporarily halted in my plans by two small retinal hemorrhages. These likely represent nothing serious, but it did force me to put off planning the trip until after my November 19 appointment with the eye doctor. However, in that time things have changed, or my thinking has. 

I have been advised that my stance is useless, that someone will be in that seat, aboard that plane, if not me then another person, that my denying myself a trip to France won’t make a dent in climate change, that individuals’ efforts are for naught when it’s the big corporations that need to change. Maybe so. As an individual I already do what i can to diminish my carbon footprint: I eat no meat, fish, eggs or dairy products. That is because I have learned that it is animal farming that is at the base of most deforestation and our billions of cows are a huge global source of methane emissions, bigger than all transportation combined, according to some sources. Since methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2, this is something I encourage in others: cut back on your consumption of animals even if you feel it is impossible to go plant based entirely. I use a washing machine yes, but I dry my clothing on a line. I rarely drive when walking is possible (yes I do own a used car). I have flown in a plane maybe a handful of times over all my nearly 69 years. I keep the heat way down in my apartment, despite the fact that my rent includes heat. BUT…

The things I do that add to my own carbon footprint are typically American. I use a small air conditioner in my bedroom in the summer, just for sleeping but I do use it and would suffer without it as my bedroom gets stifling in the summer heat, even in Vermont. And I confess to shopping online, largely because I do not want to drive to a far-off store or the store is simply too far away to get to. But transportation is transportation whether I do it, or I purchase something that forces someone to drive to my apartment to deliver it. I don’t only buy locally to sustain the local economy, no, as the local prices are sky-high for art supplies that are not the quality I need. And so on and so forth. I’m sure there are a dozen other behaviors I could name that add to my typically American carbon footprint.

But “everyone else” is flying, or would if they could, so why do I insist on not going to France? The French need tourist dollars, I’m told, and they would love to meet someone who loves their language and has devoted herself to learning it. Maybe so. Vermont needs tourist dollars too. In fact many of the world’s local economies depend on tourism just as much as France and Vermont do. Something is wrong with this. It used to be that a town sustained itself with local dollars and local crops and local tradespeople. We didn’t need to order most goods from afar, with invisible energy costs. Local consumption didn’t carry a hidden price tag in terms of the poor people in other countries employed to manufacture what we want more cheaply than we know it ought to cost. We have become addicted to bargain prices, to everything being made cheaply elsewhere and to low fuel costs so transportation doesn’t add visibly to the price we pay either. 

I see I’m going beyond my level of expertise and also straying from my subject. 

Someone recently said to me that if one country does the right thing, in terms of climate change, that could start a snowball effect, with other countries  vying to do the same or better. I believe that individuals can spark this sort of thing too. I’m not going to France, because I cannot “justify” the energy usage. I will be just as happy as i am now, France or no. So, yes, I’m setting an example. Were you planning a trip overseas or by airplane?  Well, maybe we can start a movement by changing our minds and our plans, and saying No. Because every such No — to eating meat or fish, to flying, to excessive energy use, among other things  — is a heartfelt Yes to the world, to the environment and to the planet’s future.

Prison Abuse: A letter etc.

Edited from a letter to a friend: 


I sent the following message to the White House website — the Office of Public Liaison. It is the beginning of a snail mail campaign (insofar as I am able), geared directly at President Obama asking for a prison and “juvy” reform agenda. So far as I can tell, he has nothing  of the sort at this point and we need one.

 

This is the very least I can do as I have decided that while I write this blog and books on behalf of my own issues around schizophrenia and mental illness, my political writings and action will be on behalf of a prisoner I am acquainted with who is sentenced to “life without hope of parole.” (I ask you is there a more fiendish mode of inducing despair, desolation and desperation in a soul than such a sentence?)



But my question  submitted on the form available was as follows: “Is there any Obama agenda for humanizing juvenile detention centers and for prison reform?  Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and other foreign-soil prison abuses  did not come out of nowhere. Abuse and yes, torture of prisoners in “juvy” and US prisons are practices both brutal and common that serve no purpose except to create more violent convicts. Most will one day be released – to no one’s benefit, least of all  society’s. NO ONE CARES about them. They have been forgotten, lost, abandoned. PLEASE help.”



 

I was limited to 500 words so this had to be very carefully crafted and I wanted to get in some of the most important points. I dunno now about the comment about Abu Ghraib, but it seemed to me to be the important name to cite — an accurate reference for all that, according to my source– to draw attention then to the equation with US maximum/moderate  security prisons.

 

Anyhow, I don’t expect much of an answer (though the website implies the promise of something along those lines) but it was mostly to introduce the subject, into which I plan to go in greater detail in later letters.  


 


Towards the same ends, I am reading Christian Parenti’s 1999 book on US prisons and the “correctional system” in general, Lockdown America. I have had the book for years but have never been able to read it, though I wanted to. Now, suddenly, due to interest in this prisoner’s plight, I am slowly plowing through it. I admit it is difficult to get myself to sit down and read, but I really want to and so I persist.

 

My eyes, I think, continue to rebel. I have found that recently I have had to continually wipe my glasses clean in order to see better, or felt that I had to, without real relief. I am not sure what is going on, though. I believe I can still see 3-D okay. I just feel as if there is a scrim of something, a veil between me and the world…But it is more that than anything, and my usual narcoleptic sleepiness that prevents me from reading. Certainly not lack of interest and dedication. Still it remains very frustrating to me that getting through an entire book takes such a long time while writing is so easy (This is due in large part to my antipsychotic medication, Abilify, which I strongly believe facilitates putting words on paper, if insuring nothing at all about the quality of their ordering).

 

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Anyhow, truth to tell? The times are grave…I am attempting to work on a poem about Obama as Messiah and the concomitant end of the world. At the same time, I want to move to higher ground as I wrote in the earlier post, as soon as I get a spot in some other complex out of the Valley. That, however, could take years, I am told, as I am low on the waiting list, being disabled not a senior (I’m 56 and need to be 62 to be so classified, though the cut-off may be 65 by now)…

 

I do not know if the six years till then will be soon enough, and too, why continue to live if there will be social chaos and a catastrophic flood, famine and widespread panic, the predictable breakdown in all civil order…? I’d rather die, and by my own hand than survive to have to worry about being murdered by –

Argh, you don’t need to hear this, I think. But people are already  filling my head if not the halls with screaming and gnashing of teeth. I fear I may need to barricade the door…