Archive for August, 2012

Chew Before You Swallow

August 31, 2012

So many things are happening at once. Hydro Quebec is again bullying New Hampshire. This time, citizens will have to raise $2.5 million by October 31 to stop them. HQ seems to have endless millions to spend on its marketing campaign to push high voltage above ground power lines through New Hampshire but not one cent to bury the lines.

 While all this has the north country in particular riled up, wind farms are being installed as a form of clean, renewable energy. What we need to be awake to from a health perspective is that energy generated by the wind towers has to be carried (transmitted) from those towers and then distributed to our communities via power lines. The wind operations grid has a huge spider web of distribution lines planned to circle and criss-cross New Hampshire. Those lines can be buried; they do not have to be above ground.

 Chew on this: Gated communities and upscale developments in the state have buried their lines for years. Burying power lines is quite doable in New Hampshire. The issue Hydro Quebec has is that if power lines are buried down existing highways, the state of New Hampshire (that’s us, the public) would receive their rent money for the project. If the power is added to PSNH lines, that rent money would make a nice private bundle for their collaborators, PSNH investors, in addition to destroying forest land, threatening school playgrounds with high voltage stimulated health problems, gutting real estate values, ruining tourism, etc. That sounds like a pretty indigestible arrangement to me. 

Maine already has a law in place requiring new power lines to be buried. Upgrades are considered new lines. Our legislature is currently considering such a law for New Hampshire. The NH Dept. of Transportation has already advised the legislature that lines can be buried, lest we be sidetracked by NorthernPass rhetoric.

 In NH, we will continue to come up with more forms of clean, renewable energy. In whatever form, energy must go through three important steps: energy must be generated (Step 1), then transmitted (Step 2) and finally, distributed by either above ground or buried power lines (Step 3).  Now is the time to put the law in place to bury all new power lines, including upgrades. Such a law will avoid future health hassles for the distribution of whatever clean, renewable energy is developed.

 Chew on this before you swallow new above ground power lines. If you elect not to swallow this new above ground grid: Contact your legislators and urge them to enact a NH law to bury power lines. Legislator contact info can be found at www.burythenorthernpass.com.

If you want to help stop HQ’s latest Northern Pass bullying attempt, send your contribution to Society for the Protection of NH Forests, 54 Portsmouth St, Concord, NH 03301; or on line at www.forestsociety.org/np; or call 603-224-9945 and ask for Suzanne Kibler-Hacker at the Forest Society. Every contribution helps meet the goal by Oct. 31.

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The Value of Emptiness

August 24, 2012

  Culturally, our program is to have more, be full, enjoy abundance. We have full houses, full refrigerators, full plates, full attics, full barns, full schedules. We associate emptiness with feelings of loneliness and deprivation: empty-nest, empty-stomach, empty-headed, empty-handed. Lao Tzu, the Chinese sage, frames emptiness quite differently. He talks about the beauty of an empty bowl, made to hold our food, but in being used, can never be filled up. He points to doors and windows that make a room livable. What would happen if we gave our stomachs more empty space during the day? Would that space make our digestion more dynamic?

 Each time I have moved and begun to ready the house for others by removing all extraneous junk, I appreciated how a sense of calm accompanied cleared surfaces, such as an exposed grain of wood, or and empty shelf here and there. My eye was drawn to robust plants remaining after the cull and I would invariably think: this is how I should live: clutter-free.

 It’s the same with eating. The more we stuff each corner, a little bit here and there, gradually obliterating every inner surface of our bodies, the more fatigue and common ailments we take on. When we take a moment to observe, free of the extraneous junk, and appreciate the hum of an unencumbered body, we begin to know about eating.

 What kind of breakfast gets the kids confidently out the door for school? What sends them out punching or clinging? What kind of lunch keeps you alert for your work, able to negotiate sudden changes, challenges? What lunch leaves you sluggish or scattered? What cravings distract you when you have projects to complete. Does dinner frame your evening?

 Many of us aspire to reach a point where we are always able to make wise choices, an inhuman goal. A more resilient attitude would be to begin again with each wide-awake moment, and let go of all the moments in between. We all go back and forth with wise and foolish choices (and all the in betweens) at different moments.

 It’s up to each of us to figure out what constitutes “nourishment” for ourselves. Once we figure that out, we’ll be in position to honor all the ways we can keep each other well nourished, and we may just have the healthiest year ever!

Blue Gold Alert

August 16, 2012

Thousands can live without love, not one without water – W H Auden

 The NorthernPass project continues to monkey with our future. I keep track of research on the effect of high voltage power lines on our health, but I see an even bigger challenge to our health and well being from the effect large hydroelectric dams have on the world’s (and ultimately our) water supply. 

We cannot afford to use water to create energy. We have blatant examples before us of what happens to the world’s rivers, its veins and arteries, when large dams are put in place. Unfortunately, you will not likely get the full picture on TV or on radio because corporate sponsors censor what we view and hear.

 The full version of the film, Blue Gold, is now available free on You Tube. What I like about this film is that it visits sites all over the world to update us on the effect that large dams have on our world’s water supply at the hands of multinational corporations. 

We can’t depend on our government for help. It doesn’t matter which political party is in, the outcome is the same re: corporate power. Because we are an affluent country, we are only beginning to feel the effects of poor management of our water supply. Yet the pattern being played out in India, Egypt, Africa, China, and South America will eventually encompass the United States unless we get a handle on the big picture and act to protect our future water today.

 What we must realize is that water is renewable only if we follow nature’s rules for renewal. Nature provides us with forests to hold and store water. Trees and plants inhale carbon dioxide and exhale oxygen for us. Rivers serve as veins and arteries between us and the ocean, lakes, and aquifers to keep the water cycle renewable. Unless we take care of our forests and rivers, we risk losing our water. As humans, we know what happens when veins or arteries are injured and shut down. The same thing happens to earth.

 Large dams give a one-two punch to our forests and rivers. The dams drown forests to make huge reservoirs. Instead of holding water, drowned trees slowly decompose and give off tremendous amounts of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. The soil under the new reservoir off-gasses mercury for 20-30 years, poisoning whoever or whatever drinks the water. The rhythmical flow of the river is interrupted by water pounding over dams, scouring out river banks. Water then slows down, moves to the next reservoir and heats up as it stagnates, interfering with the steady cool temperatures fish and other water life need to survive. The river then begins to dry up, exhausted.

 Whether large dams are erected for energy, irrigation, drinking water, or combinations,  their long range effect is amply demonstrated by what has happened to the Columbia, Colorado, Mississippi, Yangtze, Nile, Volta, Suriname, Jordan and other rivers of the world. We need to inform ourselves about the big picture while there is still time if we want our children, and generations to come, to have enough potable water.

 We don’t need 20 years to see what will happen in Quebec. The standard demise of large hydro dams has been documented reliably the world over. There is no way HQ will be able to provide cheap electrical energy to the Northeast for long into the future. They’ve saddled us with tremendous amounts of carbon dioxide emissions from destroyed forests as a legacy to deal with whatever profits they hope to realize from putting one over on us and the rest of New England.

 There’s always more. I urge you to watch the full film,  Blue Gold, world water wars. This film can be seen free online at http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/blue-gold-world-water-wars/. Then ask the questions: What’s the name of the watershed in my town? What rivers feed it? Where does my drinking water come from? Where does my wastewater go?

 

Reconditioning Humans

August 9, 2012

We are shocked when we see or hear about senseless killing on the news, whether it takes place in a mosque, church, school or Batman movie theatre. How did we get to this stage in history?

 Today, we are being fed a steady diet of violence. Even attending The Lorax, a benign children’s film about saving the trees, the trailers for it, which children must sit through, are a series of violent scenes of people being mercilessly killed, with lots of noise, screams, and looks that kill.

 We are fed constant desensitization to killing, whether we go to a movie, or  watch violent movies at home. Even watching the news with its perpetual reruns of people being gunned down, buildings collapsing, bodies dismembered, anguished mourners, despairing orphaned children, we continue to view the effects of violence. We become passive observers. With this steady stream of violence, what can we expect but more violence, more people wanting to follow the model? 

I found a ray of hope in Dave Grossman’s book, On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society. He detailed research documenting the fact that 98% of humans do not want to kill another human, even when called  to war. The 2% who enjoy killing were psychotic to begin with. Returning service people with the highest rate of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome) are the ground troops, the people who are trained and commanded to shoot people at close range. They actually see, make eye contact, hear screams, see the carnage; 98% are repelled and nauseated by this most inhuman of all acts.

 The ray of hope is that 98% do not want to shoot, and regularly do not fire. This tells me that humans innately abhor killing another human, that war is asking a price it has no right to ask of anyone. Research bears this out for our so called opponents as well.

 We’ll never know what life might be like today had we spent the War Chest for the last 50 years on developing alternative forms of energy, and boosted our educational system with that in mind. Fighting/killing for oil that is not renewable leaves us in the vulnerable position of now having to manage violence at home as we struggle to provide students with increasingly difficult access to higher education.

 The military model is carried over into team sports even in earlier grades as children are taught to chant, “kill, kill, kill” as they do their calisthenics. The kid just wants to play football or some other sport and is confused by this chant unless he or she is watching plenty of violence on TV and is trying to follow the model.

 Even Olympic sports, once the model of pure athleticism, have become tainted with athletes who purposely maim their competitors.

 All of which calls on us to decide what media we will allow ourselves to be massaged by, and what we will allow our children to be massaged by. Grossman notes that re-sensitization may mean that society needs to censure (not censor) those who exploit violence for profit. It may also mean that the more advanced the technology, the greater the need for controls of explosives, machine guns, artillery, assault rifles, and pistols. For the media, it may mean controlling TV, movies and video games.

 The oil wars have lost their momentum. Pressure is now building up for Water Wars. Time to carefully consider what we value most, what kind of life we most want to live, what kind of controls we need to put in place to recondition ourselves.