Archive for category Editorial

A Sage’s Thoughts…

“Pity the nation whose sages are dumb with years 
And whose strong citizens are yet in cradle
Pity the nation divided into fragments
Each fragment deeming itself savior of the nation!”

(Adapted)

By Zaheer Jan

As the new year dawns and as we, the Democrats take control of the house, I, a person who has been running from country to country, in the hope of having found the ultimate haven, am hopeful that we all in general and Nancy Pelosi in particular will hark to the words of President Abraham Lincoln and, “strive on to. . . bind up the nation’s wounds”, because “A house divided against itself, cannot stand.” And, “With malice towards none and justice for all”, take courage; go into the ‘Lion’s den, the states President Trump claims as his base, and reach out to HIS base.

Citizens of these states have for long felt disenfranchised from the decision making processes that affect them financially. Invite them and include them in the democratic party’s vision.

Our country and its system of government, our constitution is too great to be allowed to fall victim to petty rivalries and cheap theatrics. For if we allow that to happen, and let us be sucked into the whirlpool of international jealousies, then the only option left will be a cataclysm for mankind, nay perhaps the planet itself.

Our country’s adversaries are lying in wait, are deadly serious, and are playing for keeps.

Zaheer Jan

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Sounding the Alarm

New observations show that climate change is already harming us in a wide variety of ways. Possible Planet is looking at what we can do about it, from rewarding carbon capture on a global scale to refreezing the Arctic. 

Mounting Evidence of Harm to Humanity and the Biosphere

Climate change—or, as Dr. Janice Kirsh prefers to call it, climate disruption1—is already upon us. The effects are real, costly, and increasingly measurable. Amongst several other dire warnings issued near the end of 2018, the latest report of the Lancet Countdown notes that “Vulnerability to extremes of heat has steadily risen since 1990 in every region, with 157 million more people exposed to heatwave events in 2017, compared with 2000,” and “153 billion hours of labour were lost in 2017 because of heat, an increase of more than 62 billion hours since 2000.” Moreover,

The direct effects of climate change extend beyond heat to include extremes of weather. In 2017, a total of 712 extreme weather events resulted in US$326 billion in economic losses, almost triple the total losses of 2016.2

Add to this the “excess costs” of rising sea levels, and rising levels of ocean acidity; the agricultural impacts and the spread of vector-borne and water-borne diseases; and the broad range of public health impacts—and it’s clear that today’s costs and consequences alone are reason enough to sound the alarm.

But the planet also faces other imminent disasters:

  • the loss of natural habitat and biodiversity, precipitating what is widely considered “the sixth mass extinction event”
  • the widespread loss of soil fertility threatening agricultural production
  • and wars, conflicts, and mass migrations that are already being precipitated by environmental changes

Though some people are still apparently unwilling to believe that climate change is real, or that humans are the major cause of it, these very real economic and biophysical costs are of increasing concern to global policymakers, public health professionals, the insurance industry, and even the military. And ironically it’s perhaps the risk to the economy, even more than to the biosphere, that will drive a meaningful response.

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Fighting Climate Change in Donald Trump’s America

Listening to Trump’s victory speech early Wednesday morning (and much of what he has said since then) has led many to wonder if the entire election campaign was a con, and we’re now going to see a new, more humane, Donald Trump as President. “Would the real Donald Trump stand up?” is a question several pundits have begun to ask. And in his first statement after the election, President Obama noted Trump’s “new tone,” and hoped it would continue.

Here’s a key excerpt from Trump’s speech:

I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be President for all of Americans, and this is so important to me. For those who have chosen not to support me in the past, of which there were a few people, I’m reaching out to you for your guidance and your help so that we can work together and unify our great country.

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Hitler or Hillary? A Stark Choice

Why we all need to stand up and be counted

jcloud-spainThe mere fact that Donald Trump has been designated the Republican nominee for President should give us all cause for concern. No one with such a clearly authoritarian personality has ever been a plausible candidate for the most powerful office in the world. The campaign that we see unfolding before us is not a reality show, but a sobering reality. It is not unreasonable that we should ask ourselves what would happen if we were to stand by and not speak out against it.
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Crowdfunding for PACE in New Jersey

JCloudStorerSmThe challenges we face in New Jersey as a result of climate change are significant, and so therefore are the opportunities. The experience of Superstorm Sandy showed us just how ill-prepared we are for the more frequent recurrence of extreme weather; and how important it is that we set an example for taking action to mitigate our own greenhouse gas emissions, as other states are doing around us. And there’s also no doubt about the urgency of it — as you can see from this remarkable video:
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Keep Your Hands Off My Obamacare

Some Republicans in Congress are determined to “de-fund” Obamacare by holding the government’s entire budget hostage. I beg to differ from those in the Tea Party who are supporting this move.

Our personal story is that we have enjoyed company-supplied health care insurance up to the point where my wife got laid off in 2012, and since then have paid for COBRA at $1500 a month to maintain these benefits. This ends in November, and we fully intend to apply for insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

This name says a lot — it’s private insurance that is expected to be affordable and held to important consumer-protection standards. We haven’t signed up yet, and we’ll be the first to complain if the system does not work properly when it’s launched in October. But there are currently a lot of good software engineers and designers working for the federal government, and we’re expecting to see any kinks ironed out as soon as they’re discovered.

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Finally, Some Sanity on Climate Change

JCloudStorerSmJune 25, 2013: A great deal of what Obama just said on climate change at Georgetown University will seem like common sense to many of us, so it’s important to recognize just how dramatic a shift in the public conversation it is likely to cause.

Several distinct concepts were introduced and reinforced in the speech, most notably that of “carbon pollution,” which is clearly more emotionally and politically powerful than “greenhouse gas emissions.” By calling it (some might say “calling it out as”) carbon pollution more than a dozen times during the speech, he laid the groundwork for a comprehensive approach to the challenge of climate change as a priority for the U.S. and for the rest of the world — including placing the U.S., now second in the world as a carbon emitter to China, at the head of the line in addressing the problems.

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Doing Business Differently

JCloudStorerSmWe know that the new economic and ecological realities we face require us to do something different in business, which in some cases also means doing business differently.

Certainly it’s possible to use a conventional business model to manufacture and install solar panels, build windfarms, etc., and we certainly need these kinds of things “at scale,” as they say, sufficient to offset the energy we get from coal, oil, and nuclear. But other kinds of businesses — local, community-based businesses focusing on food, energy conservation, community banking, and other elements of local “economic, social, environmental, and cultural development” — these it seems need a different approach to doing business altogether.

For one thing, getting people to invest in local projects is surprisingly difficult under the conventional business model. It’s just much easier, and assumed to be much safer and more profitable, to “diversify your investments” by putting them in mutual funds, bonds, and publicly-traded companies. What we need are local investments that are either super-secure, or where the risk can be spread over many different enterprises and investors.

Focusing attention on the local economy is one of the central tenets of “financial permaculture,” a movement that is growing out of the tradition of permaculture derived from the work of Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in Tasmania in the 1970s.

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Toward a Sustainable Future for Haiti

JCloudStorerSmThe earthquake in Haiti has been many things – including both a wakeup call for Americans, and an opportunity to demonstrate our compassion – but it has above all been a human tragedy that has revealed the weaknesses and deficiencies that were there before. A 7.5 magnitude earthquake will no doubt cause some damage no matter where it occurs, but it does not always need to cause the extent of devastation that has occurred in Haiti, or to leave the population as unaided.

Some colleagues of ours at the Institute for Sustainable Enterprise met last week to discuss what we could do to contribute to a longer-term recovery, that would try to address the social, environmental, and economic challenges facing this troubled nation. We talked about a great many things, including the fact that many of us feel powerless in the face of such catastrophes, especially those that afflict human beings in distant places. We are all “overcommitted” to many worthwhile and challenging tasks already, and taking on such a monumental task as helping to chart the way forward in Haiti clearly seems to require that we steal time and energy from other causes. But if we can make even a small difference, while honoring our other commitments, this seems a compelling goal. Read the rest of this entry »

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An Open Letter to the President

The Road Not Taken:
A Letter to President Obama
from a Concerned Democrat,
and a Concerned Citizen

Jonathan Cloud (Publisher)

Jonathan Cloud (Publisher)

Dear Mr. President:

I write out of deep concern as to the state of our nation today.

I believe that in the year since your inauguration, an important opportunity has been missed to unify and mobilize the American people in the service of their highest ideals.

I acknowledge the many pressures and challenges that have been thrust upon you by circumstances, and I applaud you for the intelligent and courageous actions you have taken. Your actions have, as almost all economists now recognize, averted an outright collapse of the financial system. And this is but one of many remarkable accomplishments, not the least of which has been changing the tone around America’s role in the world. Read the rest of this entry »

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