Ecophilosophy


Here is a Happy Holiday edition of Travelosophy. Enjoy.

“When I was very young and the urge to be someplace else was on me, I was assured by mature people that maturity would cure this itch.  When years described me as mature, the remedy prescribed was middle age.  In middle age I was assured that greater age would calm my fever and now that I am fifty-eight perhaps senility will do the job.  Nothing has worked.  Four hoarse blasts of a ship’s whistle still raise the hair on my neck and set my feet to tapping.  The sound of a jet, an engine warming up, even the clopping of shod hooves on pavement brings on the ancient shudder, the dry mouth and vacant eye, the hot palms and the churn of stomach high up under the rib cage.  In other words, I don’t improve, in further words, once a bum always a bum. I fear the disease is incurable.”

-John Steinbeck, “Travels with Charley: In Search of America,” 1971, p. 3.

“It would be pleasant to be able to say of my travels with Charley, “I went out to find the truth about my country and I found it.”  And then it would be such a simpler matter to set down my findings and lean back comfortably with a fine sense of having discovered truths and taught them to my readers. I wish it were that easy. But what I carried in my head and deeper in my perceptions was a barrel of worms. I discovered long ago in collecting and classifying marine animals that what I found was closely intermeshed with how I felt at the moment. External reality has a way of being not so external at all.

This monster of a land, this mightiest of nations, this span of the future, turns out to be the macrocosm of microcosm me.  If an Englishman or a Frenchman or an Italian should travel my route, see what I saw, hear what I heard, their stored pictures would be notonly different from mine but equally different from one another. If other Americans reading this account should feel it true, that agreement would only mean that we are alike in our Americanness.”

-John Steinbeck, “Travels with Charley: In Search of America,” 1971, p. 209.

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I am moved whenever I read an apt quote about the wild or the outdoors.  Muir, the consummate outdoorsman, captured best the sentiment:

“The tendency nowadays to wander in wilderness is delightful to see.  Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.  Awakening from the stupefying effects of the vice of over-industry and the deadly apathy of luxury, they are trying as best they can to mix and enrich their little ongoings with those of nature, and to rid of rust and disease.”

– John Muir, The Atlantic Monthly, August 1897

Wall-Mart, of all imaginable stakeholders, has announced its plans to create a Green Jobs Council, to facilitate greening its own organization and its supply chain.

Wall-Mart will “push its members to embrace further sustainability and green training programs, as well as lobby government to offer incentives to drive green job creation.” 

You know you’re in the twilight zone when the largest retailer on earth is touting green collar jobs as a fix for the ailing US (and global) economic woes: “Leslie Dach, executive vice president of corporate affairs and government relations at Wal-Mart argued that an increase in clean tech investment as part of a concerted programme for creating green collar jobs is essential to reviving the US economy.

“At Wal-Mart we believe that by bringing these companies together and working collaboratively, we can develop a larger green job workforce in this country.”

http://www.businessgreen.com/business-green/news/2232046/wal-mart-creats-green-jobs

2.5 million jobs

President-elect Barack Obama today announced a bold initiative to save or create 2.5 million jobs in the next two years.

In his weekly address, President-elect Obama announced that he has directed his economic team to formulate an Economic Recovery Plan — a two-year, nationwide initiative that will strengthen our economy and put millions of Americans to work rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, modernizing our schools, and securing our clean energy future.

Watch Your Weekly Address now — then send us your questions or ideas about how to fix the economy:

http://www.mass.gov/legis/laws/seslaw08/sl080307.htm

Massachusetts adopted a Green Jobs Law in August, 2008, following the lead set by California and Washington. I am working with some NYCELLI participants to draft and get passed a New York State Green Jobs Bill.  Details on the New York State Bill will be forthcoming as we make the final Proposed Bill available.

1) MA utilizes an investment trust as a funding mechanism. This is essentially a “purse strings” approach, whereas we (NYCELLI) are creating a collaborative task force without specifying funding sources or limits. Sect. 1.b-c.
 
2) The Investment Advisory Council has 15 members (Sect. 1.d).  
3) All money leftover in the fund “rolls over” into the next year, and so the fund’s growth is cumulative.  The monies do not revert to the MA General Fund. This is an interesting tool to make the investment fund independent and sustainable.  Last para of Sect. 1.
 
4) The MA law has a definitions section.  Sect. 2.
 
5)  MA set up a “Clean Energy Technology Center.” This is akin to our Green Jobs Council.  Kudos to us for picking a good model for green jobs governance. Sect 2.a-b.  The composition of the Center is laid out in Sect. 2.b. 
 
6)  MA chose to make governance very explicit. The Law outlines in precise and explicit terms the function, term length, power of the Center and its constituent reps. This reflects MA’s general legislative preference for specificity and order.  This is common in MA, whenever they set up a gov’t body like this, to lay out all governance parameters.  It does make the Center’s work more mandatory, lays out clear lines of authority and makes the Center  more responsible for the ultimate work product.
 
7)  Sect. 3 lays out the Center’s powers. 
 
8)  Section 5 & 6 relate to reporting and recommendations.  These are two of any Green Jobs body’s most essential functions – to inform public policy with data and analysis that is specific to green jobs and clean energy technology opportunities.  The quality of green jobs and clean energy economy data is vital to making credible and visible recommendations.  Public dialogue cannot be intelligent without a “vernacular” regarding clean energy and green jobs.  
 
9) Big Sect. 11 “seeds” the Fund with a $1m infusion. This money is used when awarding grants.  Though budget strapped, “purse string” measures are vital to a bill, ensuring an initial source of funding, and making provisions for either a stream of funding, or a self-sustaining fund like the MA law.

Van Jones’ book is out on shelves and making lots of much-needed noise about green jobs.  Nick Magel featured Van’s book, “The Green Collar Economy,” on his blog and makes a compelling case for why you should go out and buy a copy!

http://itsgettinghotinhere.org/2008/10/06/the-green-collar-economy/

The book is timely – in light of the fragile state of the U.S. economy – and cogent, laying out in clear and convincing terms how all levels of collective engagement must begin to forge an inclusive, sustainable, green movement based on high quality jobs that are good for the environment.  This is the new calling for all Americans, particularly those left out of the gray economy.

**

http://www.alternet.org/workplace/101821/a_green_bailout:_we_need_help_for_people_who_want_to_save_the_planet/?page=entire

Van recently wrote on the Huffington Post that we must seize this opportunity to bailout the American worker, family, and community.  It is time to call our workers to duty, to get started on retrofitting our buildings, greening our communities, weatherizing our homes, and building environmentally sustainable infrastructure and renewable energy projects.  For less than the cost of last week’s Wall St. bailout, we could begin the hard work of growing our economy in terms that are good for people’s wallets and our environment (health as well).

Where do you stand on this issue? Have you ever thought about wolves in the context of ranching, wildlife preservation and national parks?

http://www.hcn.org/articles/video-still-howling-wolf

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