Edo Japan and Fukushima Recovery

SUBHEAD: Lessons from the Edo Era (1603–1867), can help Japan recover from Fukushima disaster.

By Azby Brown on 28 November 2013 for Our World -

Image above: Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) was a Japanese artist, ukiyo-e painter, and print maker of the Edo period. He's best known for his woodblock print The Great Wave. From (http://www.fineartcanvasprints.com/home/size-18x26-22x30/katsushika-hokusai-the-great-wave-of-kanagawa/).

After two and a half years, the embattled Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) — the company responsible for the Fukushima nuclear power plant — have sought the world’s assistance in tackling the three damaged reactors. But Japan’s own not-too-distant past includes many examples of disaster recovery that might be instructional.

One of the outstanding characteristics of pre-industrial Japan was a highly developed practical understanding of the natural environment. It’s difficult to call this knowledge “scientific” in the modern sense. Rather, it was a body of lore derived from centuries of experience. This emphasized the natural relationships between forest, watercourse, wildlife and soil, and comprised both advice, rules and taboos.

Underlying this traditional approach to forest management was an acute concern for the water system. It recommended villagers make frequent forays into the forest to gather fuel and food and observe the condition of streams, marshes and ponds, understood as necessary for “harmonious coexistence”.

Rice crops depended on efficient irrigation systems, and while creating new paddies usually meant clearing forests and constructing waterworks, they were designed to use the area’s natural features and interfere with watercourses as little as possible. Ocean resources were carefully maintained too, with the monitoring of species, seasonal change, and water conditions understood as necessary to maintain the quality and abundance of fish, shellfish and seaweed.

But understanding is often not enough to prevent abuse. Two centuries of war in Japan which ended towards the close of the 16th century had left many mountainsides deforested, with the trees cut down to build and rebuild towns and defences. This over-cutting triggered a cascade of serious consequences.

Deforested hillsides were unable to modulate rain runoff and snowmelt, which resulted in disastrous flooding. Riverbanks and irrigation systems, carefully tuned to accommodate typical flows, were frequently washed away, and with them the means of food production. Most goods including food, fuel, and building materials were transported by river, and this was also disrupted. It was an environmental catastrophe.

In the following decades the newly centralized government enforced traditional methods, and issued guidelines that trees should be planted wherever they were cut. New riverbank earthworks were designed to better cope with periodic floods. Agricultural techniques were refined in regards to water consumption, soil management, and fertiliser use.

Environmental degradation can never be reversed quickly, but by the end of the 17th century these well-integrated practices had supported significant population growth while also improving food production, housing quality, clothing, health, and access to education — all measures usually associated with a rising quality of life.

Fukushima the success story
If it seems too good to be true, in a way it was. While this extremely sustainable culture continued for more than 250 years, the practices were gradually abandoned after industrialization and the development of a large import-export economy.

What the Japanese accomplished economically in a short time — twice; once after US gunboats opened the country to the outside world in the 1850s, and again after 1945 — is a remarkable success story. These changes need not have meant abandoning the old sustainable ways, but that’s what happened.

From the 1970s, concerted efforts were made to address industrial pollution and the effects of agrochemical use on the country’s rivers. By the eve of the Fukushima disaster in March 2011, many rural communities in Japan were able to boast that they were reviving and adapting traditional, sustainable forestry, watercourse and agriculture practices to contemporary needs. Fukushima Prefecture led the way, and the village of Iitate — now in the abandoned contaminated zone — was a notable success story held up as a model to others.

While we should not dismiss entirely the health effects of breathing soot from wood-burning fires, the pre-industrial Japanese simply did not create large-scale pollution. Even major rivers, such as the Sumida which served the capital city of Edo (now Tokyo), remained clean enough to drink, or at least brew tea, until the mid-19th century.

While the contaminants released by the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant were unknown to Edo-era Japanese, they may well have been able to grasp the role of the waterways in collecting and transporting them.

The same cycle carries a new threat
Numerous radionuclides have been released by the accident, with cesium-134 and cesium-137 of greatest concern. The forest canopy captured much of what was dispersed by air, from where it will drop with leaves to the forest floor, enter the soil and into the roots of plants, and be passed on into new leaves, flowers and fruit. Radionuclides in nuts, fruits and berries eaten regularly by animals can persist in their flesh for decades, while the proportion excreted reenters the soil to rejoin the cycle.

Cesium-contaminated soil or plants that ends up in forest streams is distributed somewhat unpredictably. Some will seep through the riverbed into nearby plants, some is consumed by insects or fish, and most is carried to the ocean where it is eventually dispersed by currents or falls to the seabed. Contaminants are constantly washed downstream, so that ocean fish may consume cesium washed down from mountains dozens or even hundreds of miles inland.

The same interdependence of trees, water, plants, and animals that the pre-industrial Japanese understood so well is now the delivery mechanism of many potential long-term poisons. The severity of this environmental disaster lies not so much in the quantity of contaminants, but the fact that they have essentially hijacked the country’s life-support system.

Scientists, engineers and volunteer groups like Safecast (of which I am a member) locate and remove these widely dispersed radionuclides. While there have been successes and cause for optimism, most of us look at the forests in despair. It has been seriously suggested that Fukushima’s forests be cut down in a controlled manner, the forest floor remediated, and new forests planted. If this seems excessive, it’s essentially what Japan’s Edo-period forebears did.

As then, the benefits would not be seen for generations. Does Japan have the patience and long-term vision necessary to see through this kind of plan? Possibly not. But the radioactive contamination problems will be with us for decades at least. And until we can heal the forests we can’t heal the watercourse, and until we do that, the environmental hijacking will continue.


Reaction to Fukushima is Fascism

SUBHEAD: State secrets bill meant to suppress Fukushima news — Japan public stunned, citizens could face years in prison.

By Various Sources on 29 November 2013 for ENE News -

Image above: Isn't that cute? An itty-bitty nuclear plant built so I can dance all night, in an ugly city called Funky Town, after a week working in a cubicle as a drone in the system. Still from first video below.  

[IB Publisher's note: Nothing to see here! Keep on moving! Our highlight in red.]

Associated Press, Nov. 26, 2013: Japan’s more powerful lower house of Parliament approved a state secrecy bill late Tuesday [...] Critics say it might sway authorities to withhold more information about nuclear power plants [...] The move is welcomed by the United States [...] lawyer Hiroyasu Maki said the bill’s definition of secrets is so vague and broad that it could easily be expanded to include radiation data [...] Journalists who obtain information “inappropriately” or “wrongfully” can get up to five years in prison, prompting criticism that it would make officials more secretive and intimidate the media. Attempted leaks or inappropriate reporting, complicity or solicitation are also considered illegal. [...] Japan’s proposed law also designates the prime minister as a third-party overseer.

Mainichi, Nov. 27, 2013: The ruling coalition’s ramming of a controversial special state secrets bill [...] through the House of Representatives on Nov. 26 has stunned the public. [...] it could discourage citizens as well as journalists from seeking access to such information for fear of harsh punishment, blocking government information from circulating in society [...]

Japan-based Investigative Journalist Jake Adelstein, Nov. 29, 2013: [...] even politicians inside the ruling bloc are saying, “It can’t be denied that another purpose is to muzzle the press, shut up whistleblowers, and ensure that the nuclear disaster at Fukushima ceases to be an embarrassment before the Olympics.” [...]

And most tellingly, Masako Mori, the Minister of Justice, has declared that nuclear related information will most likely be a designated secret. For the Abe administration this would be fantastic way to deal with the issue of tons of radiated water leaking [...]

There seems to be no end to stopping the toxic waste leaks there but the new legislation would allow the administration to plug the information leaks permanently. As [it] continues to pour into the ocean and our food supply, it is an ominous sign that the Japanese government refuses to disclose information about the levels of pollution [...]

Mainichi, Nov. 27, 2013: Under the bill, ordinary citizens who aid and abet or conspire with others in leaking information classified as special state secrets could face up to five years in prison even if the information were not actually revealed. If citizens were indicted for obtaining special secrets under the legislation, they could be convicted without the content of the information being clarified.

Mainichi, Nov. 27, 2013: One of the [Fukushima] residents angrily said, “How far are they going to go in fooling us?” [...] a member of the Diet’s investigation committee on the Fukushima nuclear disaster, said, “I hope information involving the lives of residents will not be made secret.”

Bellona, Nov. 29, 2013: [...] The current condition of the Fukushima Daiichi plant is precarious – arguably worse off than it was directly following the initial catastrophe [...] seemingly continuous leaks of highly radioactive water [...] The disposition of the fuel in the melted down reactors is unknown [...] no real consensus on what on what might stop or at least diminish the leaks of some 400 metric tons a day of radioactive water into the Pacific. [...] it’s understandable that Abe would like to stuff a sock in the bad news [...]

“Stuff a sock in the bad news”? Indeed…

EXSKF, Nov. 29, 2013: A citizen was forcibly removed from the balcony in the Diet where he was observing the debate [...] as he shouted his opposition to the passage of the law. His mouth was stuffed with cloth so that he couldn’t shout any more [...]

See also: Secrecy law approved in Japan -- AP: Prison for 'inappropriate reporting' -- Official: We're on path to be fascist state -- Fear Fukushima cover-ups to worsen

Video above: So damn cute! Older Areva, ad promoting nuclear energy. From (http://youtu.be/GgZsamFWyBI).

Video above: Animation of Areva advanced nuclear power plant design. From (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mPi2kT_RbCI).

Video above: Recent Areva ad promoting nuclear power with a history of industrial energy production. From(http://vimeo.com/18426643).


Solar growth explodes in October

SUBHEAD: 99.3 percent of all new electric generation placed in service during the month of October came from renewables - mostly solar.

By Rhone Resch on 26 November 2013 for EcoWatch -

Image above: Residential installation of solar PV panels. Twelve new solar projects accounted for 504MegaWatts or 72.1% of all new capacity last month in the U.S., according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). From original article.

Even though they were overshadowed by the Senate’s historic decision to eliminate the use of the filibuster when it comes to most Presidential nominees—the so-called “nuclear option”—there were some major developments this week at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) that are critically important to solar and renewable energy.

First, FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff, who proclaimed earlier this year that, “solar is growing so fast it is going to overtake everything,” announced that he’s officially leaving his position at the end of the week. Chairman Wellinghoff has been a true champion to solar, and we wish him well in all of his new endeavors.

But before leaving, Wellinghoff presided over one last Commission meeting on Thursday as a new rule was approved by FERC that will expedite and reduce the cost of solar project interconnections, while maintaining the reliability and safety of the electric grid. In a nutshell, this action—which SEIA has championed for nearly two years—will help to spur new solar deployment nationwide. The rule was approved by a 4-0 vote with Chairman Wellinghoff abstaining because of a possible conflict of interest.

Here’s the back story. In 2005, FERC issued Order No. 2006, which—for the first time—established national interconnection procedures applicable to generation projects that are 20 megawatts (MW) or less in size and subject to FERC’s wholesale jurisdiction. Order No. 2006 was groundbreaking at the time, and the procedures were voluntarily adopted by many states to also apply to the retail interconnection process.

However, demand for solar energy has grown dramatically since the original order was issued more than seven years ago, and certain aspects of the order have resulted in needless barriers to cost-effective and timely interconnections.

The approved rule will allow solar projects that meet certain technical requirements to qualify for a “fast track” interconnection process, thus eliminating the need for costly and time-consuming studies. Most importantly, today’s decision will help to reduce interconnection bottlenecks.

As an association, we applaud FERC for recognizing the challenges facing wholesale distributed generation development, which is one of the fastest-growing segments of America’s solar energy industry. But it’s important to point out that the new rule also maintains electric system safety and reliability, making it a win all the way around.

This is the way government should work. We deeply appreciate FERC’s open-minded approach and willingness to revisit this issue based on unforeseen developments. We look forward to working with FERC and all other interested stakeholders in the future to help further the deployment of clean, reliable and affordable solar energy nationwide. SEIA is also urging state regulators to consider using FERC’s new rule as a model and starting point for updating their own interconnection rules.

And, finally, this brings me to the other really good news coming out of FERC this week. According to the agency’s Energy Infrastructure Update report, 99.3 percent of all new electric generation placed in service during the month of October came from renewables—with solar leading the way by a country mile!

Twelve new solar units accounted for 504 MW or 72.1 percent of all new capacity last month. This is truly astonishing, not to mention historic, and should serve as a reminder to everyone in Washington and in state capitals that smart public policies—such as the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), Net Energy Metering (NEM) and Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS)—are paying huge dividends for America.

Today, solar is one of the fastest-growing sources of new energy in the United States. More than 30 utility-scale, clean energy solar projects are still under construction, putting thousands of electricians, steelworkers and laborers to work and helping to reduce carbon emissions from power plants. These facilities, along with rooftop solar on homes, businesses and schools, will generate electricity for generations to come.

There are now more than 9,400 megawatts (MW) of cumulative solar electric capacity installed in the U.S. —enough to power more than 1.5 million American homes—and that number is expected to hit nearly 13,000 MW by the end of this year.

In addition, SEIA recently released a comprehensive new report outlining ways to create 50,250 new American jobs and save more than $61 billion in future energy costs by expanding the use of innovative and cost-effective solar heating and cooling (SHC) systems across the nation.

Today, solar employs nearly 120,000 Americans at more than 6,100 companies, most of which are small businesses spread across the United States, making solar one of the fastest-growing industries in America. Part of this amazing growth is attributed to the fact that the cost of a solar system has dropped by nearly 40 percent over the past two years, making solar more affordable—and more popular—than ever. And as solar continues to scale up, costs will continue to come down.

So in a week filled with high drama on Capitol Hill, you could say that solar—in its own unique way—has become the new “nuclear option” when it comes to helping America meet its future energy needs.

Fukushima - What me worry?

SUBHEAD:  Radioactivity from Fukushima Daiichi disaster is not a health threat in British Columbia.

By Jay T. Cullen on 21 November 2013 for Times Colonist -

Image above: Man checks radioactivity of mutant on the beach. Detail of photo-art "Radiation" by Ivan Khoenko. Click to enlarge to full image. From (http://howtocarveroastunicorn.blogspot.com/2013/11/plasma-gun-radiation.html).

Since the Fukushima Daiichi disaster on March 11, 2011, there are many reports of the potential impact of radioactivity from Fukushima causing harm to sea life and people on the West Coast of North America.

But radioactivity from Japan poses no danger and little risk to us on the West Coast.

A commonly used unit to measure radioactivity is the Becquerel (Bq for short), which represents an amount of radioactive material where one atom decays per second. When we talk about the radioactivity measured in seawater, the measurements are reported per litre of seawater (Bq/L).

Almost all the radioactivity in seawater is the result of naturally occurring radionuclides that have been transported or deposited in the oceans by natural processes. For example, over time radioactive elements in rocks and minerals are delivered to the ocean through the erosion of the continental crust.

The average radioactivity of seawater is about 14 Bq/L, of which nine-10ths comes from the naturally occurring elements potassium and rubidium. The remainder is fallout from atmospheric nuclear-weapons testing in the 20th century. So the natural level of radioactivity on average in the oceans is about 13 Bq/L, against which radioactivity resulting from human activities and disasters should always be discussed.

The radioactive element Cesium 137 (Cs-137) was released in large quantities from Fukushima into the Pacific. Pre-Fukushima levels of Cs-137 in the North Pacific, present from Cold War-era nuclear testing, represented 0.007 per cent of the natural radioactivity in a litre of seawater.

Measurements of Cs-137 were made by an international team of researchers immediately after the disaster in 2011. Forty kilometres from the reactor site, Cs-137 was elevated up to 25 per cent of the total naturally occurring background, but fell to two per cent of the background 600 kilometres offshore. Scientists did not have to take any precautions while handling seawater, sediment and biological samples collected during the study because the radioactivity was so low.

Talk of plumes of radioactivity being broadcast across the Pacific must take into account that the background radioactivity of seawater is about 14 Bq/L. It is important that although one can detect isotopes from the reactor in the environment, the absolute levels are very low and will be lower as the ocean mixes with distance from Japan and as the isotope decays.

A paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Dr. Nicholas Fisher of Stony Brook University and colleagues investigated the risk of Fukushima radiation to those consuming Pacific bluefin tuna. Their findings indicate that the bulk of a radiation dose to human consumers of tuna results from a naturally occurring radionuclide called Polonium-210, which is roughly 600 times greater than Fukushima-derived Cs-137.

Indeed, the estimated dose of radioactivity from consuming tuna carrying Fukushima-derived isotopes for a year is similar to or less than our annual doses from air travel, terrestrially produced foods, medical treatment (e.g. X-rays) and other background sources. Release estimates of other potentially harmful isotopes from the damaged Fukushima reactors, some of which can concentrate in the marine food web, are much lower than Cs-137 but must be monitored if the situation changes at the disaster site.

We must recognize Fukushima Daiichi for what it is, a disaster resulting from the failure of safeguards at the nuclear power plant. The impact is immense at the site and consequences for the terrestrial environment are dire.

There is impact in the ocean as well. For example, bottom-dwelling fish near the reactors are so contaminated that they can’t be sold or consumed and the local effects near and in the reactors are acute and terrible.

But when I read that marine organisms and human beings are in danger along the West Coast of North America because of radioactivity from Fukushima, I have a responsibility to communicate to the public that this is not so.

The radioactivity that we are exposed to here every day, by being on or in the water or from consuming seafood from the Pacific, is insignificantly different from the time before the terrible events at Fukushima took place.

• Jay T. Cullen is an associate professor and a marine chemist at the University of Victoria’s school of earth and ocean sciences.

Researchers Not Worried about Radiation

SUBHEAD: Researchers at Oregon State University not worried about radiation effects from Fukushima Daiichi.

By Rhoda Krause on 21 November 2013 for KEZI-TV -

Video above: KEVI-TV segment on Kathryn Higley trip to Fukushima. From (http://youtu.be/Q_VkylK5FKQ).

Researchers at Oregon State University say two and a half years after the Fukushima nuclear spill, they are not seeing any negative effects on the West Coast.

Kathryn Higley, a professor and the Department Head of Nuclear Engineering and Radiation Health Physics at Oregon State University says her team has been monitoring the radiation levels not only in Japan but also in Oregon, Washington, Canada, and Australia.

“Immediately following the accident, right along the coast of Japan, right next to the plant, there were some elevated concentrations,” Higley said.

She says though studies in Japan are continuing to examine the effects on species living at the plant site, she says other species surrounding the plant likely will not be affected.

Within the last few years, Higley says the radioactive material Cesium-137 has been seeping into the ocean, but it is chemically similar to sodium. She says once it is in the ocean, it dilutes and diminishes pretty quickly.

“We don’t expect any adverse consequences,” she said. “To the animals, to the marine species, to people consuming those species from the releases at Fukushima.”

Even in Japan, she says she is not anticipating any health consequences of the spill.

“Epidemiologists are saying that they don’t think they’ll ever be able to see an uptick in cancer in the population attributed to Fukushima.”

She says workers at the plant had more exposure to the radioactive material, but that their chances of cancer are only a small percentage higher. Thousands of miles across the coast, she expects the same.

“On the West Coast, no, there’s not going to be any negative effects,” she said.

Though Higley does not believe there will be negative health effects of the spill, she says the Fukushima spill is still an important one to learn from.

“It’s important for us to continue to understand how these accidents could progress to be able to respond to any sort of mixtures of radionuclides and continue to refine the designs so that the possibility of an accident is very, very, very, very, very, very, very unlikely.”

The research is ongoing. Higley says scientists will continue to test areas in Japan and in areas around the world.

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: High radiation in Tokyo 8/24/16
Ea O KA Aina: Nuclear Power and Climate Failure 8/24/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Nuclear Blinders 8/18/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima and Chernobyl 5/29/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima radiation damages Japan 4/14/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima's Nuclear Nightmare 3/13/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Fifth Fukushima Anniversary 3/11/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima impacts are ongoing 11/8/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Petroleum and Nuclear Coverups 10/21/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Radiation Contamination 10/13/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Radioactive floods damage Japan 9/22/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fir trees damaged by Fukushima 8/30/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Japan restarts a nuclear plant 8/11/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima disaster will continue 7/21/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Too many fish in the sea? 6/22/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima prefecture uninhabitable 6/6/15
Ea O Ka Aina: In case you've forgotten Fukushima 5/27/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Radiation damages top predator bird 4/24/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukshima die-offs occurring 4/17/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Impact Update 4/13/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima - the end of atomic power 3/13/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Where is the Fukushima Data? 2/21/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fuku-Undo 2/4/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima MOX fuel crossed Pacific 2/4/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima worst human disaster 1/26/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Japan to kill Pacific Ocean 1/23/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Japan's Environmental Catastrophe 8/25/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Earthday TPP Fukushima RIMPAC 4/22/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Daiichi hot particles 5/30/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Japanese radiation denial 5/12/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Entomb Fukushima Daiichi now 4/6/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Disaster 3 Years Old 4/3/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Tsunami, Fukushima and Kauai 3/9/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Japanese contamination 2/16/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Bill for Fukushima monitoring 2/9/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Tepco under reporting of radiation 2/9/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Fallout in Alaska 1/25/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima engineer against nukes 1/17/14
Ea O Ka Aina: California to monitor ocean radiation 1/14/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Demystifying Fukushima Reactor #3 1/1/14
Ea O Ka Aina: US & Japan know criticality brewing 12/29/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Forever 12/17/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Brief radiation spike on Kauai 12/27/13
Ea O Ka Aina: USS Ronald Reagan & Fukushima 12/15/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Pacific Impact 12/11/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Berkeley and Fukushima health risks 12/10/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Madness engulfs Japan 12/4/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Edo Japan and Fukushima Recovery 11/30/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Reaction to Fukushima is Fascism 11/30/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Radioisotopes in the Northern Pacific 11/22/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima cleanup in critical phase 11/18/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima fuel removal to start 11/14/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Remove other Fukushina fuel 10/29/13
Ea O Ka Aina: End to Japanese Nuclear Power? 10/3/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima & Poisoned Fish 10/3/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fuel Danger at Fukushima 9/27/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Reactor #4 Spent Fuel Pool 9/16/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima is Not Going Away 9/9/13
Ea O Ka Aina: X-Men like Ice Wall for Fukushima 9/3/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima House of Horrors 8/21/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Apocalypse 8/21/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Radioactive Dust 8/20/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Cocooning Fukushima Daiichi 8/16/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima radiation coverup 8/12/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Leakage at Fukushima an emergency 8/5/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima burns on and on 7/26/13
Ea O Ka Aina: What the Fukashima? 7/24/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Spiking 7/15/13
Ea O Ka Aina: G20 Agenda Item #1 - Fix Fukushima 7/7/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima and hypothyroid in Hawaii 4/9/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Japan to release radioactive water 2/8/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima as Roshoman 1/14/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushia Radiation Report 10/24/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Fallout 9/14/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Unit 4 Danger 7/22/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima denial & extinction ethics 5/14/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima worse than Chernobyl 4/24/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima dangers continue 4/22/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima children condemned 3/8/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima fights chain reaction 2/7/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Tepco faking Fukushima fix 12/24/11
Ea O Ka Aina: The Non Battle for Fukushima 11/10/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Debris nears Midway 10/14/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Radiation Danger 7/10/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Abandoned 9/28/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Deadly Radiation at Fukushima 8/3/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima poisons Japanese food 7/25/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Black Rain in Japan 7/22/11
Ea O Ka Aina: UK PR downplays Fukushima 7/1/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Monju Madness 6/19/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima #2 & #3 meltdown 5/17/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima sustained chain reaction 5/3/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Ocean Radioactivity in Fukushima 4/16/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Japan raises nuclear disaster level 4/12/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima No Go Zone Expanding 4/11/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima to be Decommissioned 4/8/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Poisons Fish 4/6/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Learning from Fukushima 4/4/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Leak goes Unplugged 4/3/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Stick a fork in it - It's done! 4/2/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima reactors reach criticality 3/31/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Non-Containment 3/30/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Meltdown 3/29/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Water Blessing & Curse 3/28/11


Happy Thanksgiving Day 2013!

SUBHEAD: There is much to be thankful for. Who you share your meal with today is an important part of it, but where the food you share comes from is another.

By Juan Wilson on 28 November 2013 for Island Breath -

Image above: Kalamazoo wood burning stove, circa 1930, on our lanai in Hanapepe Valley. Photo by Juan wilson.

This has to be brief. Today I'm in charge of cooking the turkey. I have to go chop some wood before ten this morning so I can fire up our wood burning stove. Over a year ago we gave up our place on the mainland that had once been my mother's parents farmhouse. They were not farmers but retired school teachers. When they retired, in 1953, they returned to the small town of Panama, NY, where they had met a half century before.

The wood burning stove had been my grandmother's and was used in the house until about 1980. The last turkey I cooked in it was in 1979. We moved the stove to Kauai when we sold the old farm. It's a 1930 Kalamzoo.

My plan is to cook the 14 pound bird for 6-7 hours at an average of 300ºf. Best of luck with your celebration.  Now on to the chores.

See also:
The Gobbler: Thanksgiving Feasts 11/28/93
The Gobbler: Turkey recipe 11/29/97
Island Breath: R Crumb Thanksgiving  11/204    
Island Breath: Don't Mess with Turkeyday 11/24/05

is Antifragile better than Resilience?

SUBHEAD: The antifragile idea has many implications--for example, a bias toward city-states rather than nation-states.

By Kurt Cobb on 24 November 2013 for Resource Insights -

Image above: Detail from book cover of "Antifragile: Things trhat gain from Disorder" by Nassim Taleb.  From (http://www.carnegiecouncil.org/calendar/data/0416.html).

"Antifragile" is a word you can't find in the dictionary. Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author and student of probability and risk, coined the word because, after looking at languages across the world, he could not find a word which describes the ability to improve with stress rather than merely resist it as the word "resilient" implies. Antifragile has now become the title of Taleb's latest book. Much of what I am about to say in based on this book.

An obvious example of something that improves with stress is the human body which gets stronger, more fit, and less prone to disease with exercise. Stress, but not too much stress--a cement truck running over you is too much stress--actually improves the performance of the body.

The same is true of the mind. Lying around watching television programs of the innocuous kind that don't challenge anything you believe is unlikely to make you more mentally acute. Difficult problems in life or in mathematics that require careful and prolonged problem-solving can sharpen the mind. Problems in life that cause a mental breakdown may not be good for you unless you come out of the breakdown a new person better prepared for the reality you must cope with--what Taleb informs us is called "post-traumatic growth" in the psychiatric profession.

The word "resilient" is easy to find in the dictionary. And, we should focus carefully on the second definition: "returning to the original form or position after being bent, compressed, or stretched." This seems like a good thing, and to a certain extent it is. Resilient systems, people and societies are good at maintaining their current operation or returning to their previous condition if disturbed.

Now, here's why antifragility rather than resilience might be a better goal for the sustainability movement. Resilience depends, in part, on knowing what kinds of stresses you will be subject to and building up defenses against those stresses. Antifragility does not require that you know what the stresses will be in advance since you expect to be strengthened by them. Again, too much stress will wipe out an antifragile system. But, it will also wipe out a resilient system. So, the added advantage of working toward a state of antifragility is twofold: You will not have to predict all the the stresses you will encounter to prepare for them; and, you will likely benefit from those stresses and so need not be afraid at their approach.

What does this mean in practice? Natural evolutionary strategies are antifragile. Nature tries many, many experiments--many species and subspecies and newly arising species--which increase the chances that some experiments will succeed. Survivability is increased by diversity among plants and animals because as conditions change, some versions will better adapt than others. Here, nature does not know in advance what conditions will prevail, but puts out enough diversity so that some plants and animals will likely survive. So, the antifragility of a system actually depends on some of the parts being fragile.

In business this model is most aptly illustrated by the venture capitalist (VC) who accepts that he or she cannot know in advance which ideas will succeed. So, the VC invests in a great number of fledgling companies knowing that most will fail, but that a few will succeed and flourish so much so that the reward will far outweigh the losses incurred in unsuccessful ventures. Mirroring the process, there are many VCs with varying approaches, philosophies and resources. Some go bust while others thrive. It's the diversity that is important to society.

This is how entrepreneurs perform an important service for the economy. The diversity of startups means many strategies and practices will be tested against the conditions prevailing in the economy and in society. Many will fail, but the few that survive can be a benefit to society.

Now, the specialist knows and does only one thing and can be a company or person. And, the specialist is typically made obsolete or severely impaired in income when conditions change drastically. I worked in the advertising industry just as the changeover from physical artwork to electronic artwork was taking place. Almost overnight designers could now simply type a few commands or perform a few mouse clicks to change the typography in their pieces. Previously, the industry had supported an entire infrastructure of typesetters. Within a short period, the typesetting business was gone.

It's not wrong for people to specialize. In the complex world we live in, most people must do so in order to find employment. And, those employed in typesetting have long since gone on to work at other things. But, we have built huge institutions upon which our society depends for its stability in banking, shipping and manufacturing that are exceedingly fragile. They do not stand up to outsized stresses.

We saw that in 2008 when the banking system, hit by contagion and fear, nearly collapsed which then nearly took out the worldwide logistics system. Sellers feared they might not be paid for goods they were shipping and halted deliveries because bank letters of credit (which were payment guarantees) were not trusted. Alternatively, many small failures in the banking system would have been much less consequential. But, a few large failures, because of the interlocking nature of worldwide finance, nearly brought the whole system down.

So, society can benefit from many small failures as they are the path to adaptation telling us what does not work. The successes, of course, give us information about what works, but not necessarily why those strategies worked.

Now, here is the crucial point about making society as a whole antifragile: THE WEAK MUST BE PROTECTED. If the weak are not protected, few people will take the risks necessary to find successful adaptations to the constantly changing social and natural conditions on planet Earth. Instead, most people will become risk averse, fearing that they will become weak and unprotected if they fail. Protecting the weak is entirely the opposite of what reactionary idealogues tells us to do to encourage highly innovative societies.

Another way the weak are protected is when failure does NOT carry with it any stigma. In this respect the United States has a culture that far outpaces most others on the planet. The United States is a place where starting over is not only acceptable, but encouraged, where failure is imagined as a possible gateway to future success--i.e., we believe people learn a lot from failure and recognize that many factors including just plain bad luck can be the cause.

So, the United States gets mixed marks--it does not protect the weak well, but does not stigmatize failure in most cases. Think about where your country rates on these two measures, and it will give you a rough idea if it has the necessary social conditions for antifragility.

Now, you might guess from the previous discussion that size in an important determinate in making a society antifragile. Here is where those advocating for what it often called "relocalization" have a point. Moving the logistics of everyday living from an interlocking worldwide affair to one that is regional or, in some cases, local will have the effect of creating many diverse logistical systems around the globe, each better adapted to the local or regional conditions, and none entirely dependent on a rigid, hyperefficient (and thus fragile) worldwide system that cannot withstand heavy stresses á la 2008.

The other characteristic of an antifragile system is that it will contain buffers, or to put it into logistical terms, it will have inventories--substantial inventories--in case shipments don't always get through in time. In our current system, we believe inventories are bad and try to eliminate them with dangerously fragile just-in-time delivery systems.

In the decentralized system, inventories are a source of strength. Just ask someone who has an ample inventory desperately needed by a region or town. That person will profit from such an inventory while his competitors shut down. And, the people who need the goods will be thankful to get them in a time of instability.

(I confess that the implications here are not entirely savory. The person having the inventory is antifragile in that he or she makes a killing financially when the system breaks down. But, at least the town or region is not left without essential goods and might decide to insure greater antifragility in the future by insisting on greater inventories which then give the whole town or region a competitive advantage. This also might be interpreted as resilience and certainly resilience and antifragility can and do coexist in any economy or society.)
The antifragile idea has so many other implications--for example, a bias toward city-states rather than nation-states--that I cannot catalogue them here. For that you should start with Taleb's Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder and see where your imagination takes you.

• Kurt Cobb is an author, speaker, and columnist focusing on energy and the environment. He is a regular contributor to the Energy Voices section of The Christian Science Monitor and author of the peak-oil-themed novel Prelude. In addition, he has written columns for the Paris-based science news site Scitizen, and his work has been featured on Energy Bulletin (now Resilience.org), The Oil Drum, OilPrice.com, Econ Matters, Peak Oil Review, 321energy, Common Dreams, Le Monde Diplomatique and many other sites. He maintains a blog called Resource Insights and can be contacted at kurtcobb2001@yahoo.com.


COP19 conclusion

SUBHEAD: Although a CO2 "contribution" limit was accepted, the COP19 ends with UN admission of failure on 2ºC limit.

By Bryan Dyne on 25 November 2013 for Worls Socialist Website -

Image above: Non-governmental organizations walked out of the COP19 climate talks here last Thursday. From (http://www.iwnsvg.com/2013/11/22/green-groups-walk-out-of-global-climate-summit-in-protest-video/).

During the final press conference of the 19th Conference of Parties (COP19), the latest international climate change summit, which ended on November 23 in Warsaw, a top UN official admitted that current efforts were not adequate to halt the pace of global warming.

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres said that the summit “does not put us on track for a two-degree world.”

“Two-degree world” has become the catch-phrase for containing and reducing greenhouse gas emissions globally so that average world temperatures in 2100 do not increase by more than 2° C above what they were at the beginning of the 20th century. This has been taken as the benchmark by the UNFCCC to stop catastrophic results caused by climate change from occurring. These primarily include mass droughts, more powerful hurricanes, large floods and rising ocean levels.

Figueres then posed as mutually exclusive the “two realities” of “the urgency of the science and the boundaries that science imposes on us with respect to greenhouse gas emissions with an international policy evolution process that is necessarily a gradual and progressive process.”

She was referring to the divisions between the major powers that exist over any agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a timely manner. While every country, including the US and major imperialist powers, states that global warming should be brought under control, all are determined to do it on their own terms. Major corporate interests must be appeased, including the national fossil fuel industries of both developed and developing nations.

There is an overwhelming body of scientific evidence of the ever-growing threat to the world's population caused by continued emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. During COP19, a group of scientists from the Climate Action Tracker released a report saying that if current trends continue, the likely warming will not be 2° C, but 3.7° C and possible as high as 4.6° C. That world governments cannot agree on how to resolve the climate change crisis underscores the basic inability of capitalism—based on private property and rival nation-states—to defend the natural environment necessary for life.

COP19 is the most recent in a series of international summits—Copenhagen, Cancún, Durban, and Doha, to name a few—that were called in the attempt to create a post-Kyoto Protocol climate treaty. At each instance, there has not been an agreed-upon structure for all participating countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The most that these conferences have achieved is a commitment to a new treaty by 2015 that will go into force in 2020.

As with previous summits, the divisions have occurred largely across the lines of the industrialized versus the developing countries. During the first international climate talks in 1992 and then again in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, it was established that “developed” nations would have obligations to cut greenhouse gas emissions while “developing” nations would not. Since the Copenhagen summit in December 2009, the US and the European Union have staunchly refused to accept this framework, insisting that emerging economies, particularly India, China and others such as Brazil, should also be beholden to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

These tensions flared when China and India sharply rejected the phrasing of “commitments” by all parties towards greenhouse gas emissions in the penultimate draft. “Only developed countries should have commitments,” stated Chinese lead negotiator Su Wei. It was only when “commitments” was changed to “contributions” that both countries backed down.

Tensions became so overt that Poland was forced to remove Marcin Korolec, the host of the conference, from his position as environment minister. It did not help matters when Japan—the country of origin of the Kyoto Protocol—revealed that it would not be meeting its 2020 emission reduction deadline.

The second sticking point was over financial allocations to developing countries over losses and damages caused by global warming. They demanded that a new institution be formed called a “loss-and-damage mechanism” to deal with the financial impacts of weather events exacerbated by climate change. Furthermore, the developing nations wanted this body to be independent of a previously existing UN body that deals with similar issues, which was agreed upon.

While these are being hailed as victories, both proposals are largely face-saving measures. They do nothing to concretely reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

This theme was taken up by a variety of environmentalist groups including Greenpeace International, the World Wildlife Fund, Oxfam International, ActionAid International, Friends of the Earth Europe and the International Trade Union Confederation. In a coordinated action, the groups walked out of the conference, accusing the participating governments of giving in to the interests of the “dirty energy lobby” and not working towards solving the “climate crisis.” They vowed to “return with the voice of the people” to put “pressure” on world governments.

The idea of putting “pressure” on governments has been taken up by environmentalist activists in the past. Their perspective is that with enough letters written and enough protests held, world leaders will finally take initiative and solve global warming.

To call this politically bankrupt and impotent is an understatement. As shown through this conference and countless others, there is a fundamental inability, in the face of inter-imperialist rivalries and the predatory exploitation of the poorer countries by the richer ones, to come to any agreement on reorganizing the world economy to head off an environmental disaster.

There are powerful financial interests at stake. According to one report issued for the Warsaw conference, just 90 corporations worldwide are responsible for two-thirds of the greenhouse gas buildup over the past 200 years that is driving global warming. These corporations—mainly giant oil and gas monopolies and coal mining companies—cling to their profit interests in the face of threats to the survival of the human race.

If the available technology that exists today is to be utilized to carry out the urgent restructuring of energy generation, transportation, industry and agriculture to halt carbon emissions, while simultaneously raising worldwide living standards, it must be done under a rationally planned world socialist society.

Kauai Mayor faces GMO fallout

SOURCE: Brad Parsons (mauibrad@hotmail.com)
SUBHEAD: For Hawaii politicians, like Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho, GMO-Biotech legislation is political Kryptonite.

By Sophie Cocke on 22 November 2013 for Civil Beat -

Image above: Mayor BErnard Carvalho in his office. From origibnal article.

Bernard Carvalho, a 6-foot-6 former Miami Dolphins football player, likes to give hugs.

It's a challenge for most recipients to fit their arms around the gregarious mayor's bear-like frame, but he's enjoyed welcoming political embraces. Carvalho's warmth and easy charisma facilitated his re-election in 2010 when he won over 77 percent of voters on the island.

But since he vetoed GMO and pesticide disclosure Bill 2491 in October, some reactions haven't been very affectionate.

He’s been jeered in public and anti-GMO activist groups have vowed to destroy his political career. Carvalho has received phone calls and emails from people threatening to damage his property and hurt him. He's been described as a "scumbag," a "chemical company thug," and a "birth-defects mayor."

Anger toward Carvalho took a sharp turn on October 31 when he vetoed the Kauai County Council's bill that requires biotech companies on the island to disclose details about their pesticide use and abide by setbacks between test fields sprayed with chemicals and schools, hospitals, parks and waterways. The bill also requires farmers to disclose their GMO use or risk fines and jail time.

The council overrode the mayor's veto on Nov. 16 so the measure is slated to go into effect in August of 2014.

A mayor with a hearty laugh who often uses football metaphors to describes politics might seem out of place in the debate over biotech.

When he sat down recently with Civil Beat on one of his over-sized office chairs, he highlighted what he sees as progress in getting biotech companies to engage with local residents and the political process. Or, as Carvalho puts it, he finally got them “off the bench.”

“I told the companies, in a football game … either you’re sitting on the bench drinking water or you are in the game helping this thing move along to get to a win-win,” he said.

The solution, Carvalho believes, is for everyone to work together on the issue, including the governor, state departments tasked with oversight of pesticides and GMOs and the biotech companies.

Local Boy
Carvalho, 52, was born and raised on Kauai. He attended Kapaa High School where he was a football and basketball star, before enrolling at the University of Hawaii at Manoa on a football scholarship. He was drafted by the Dolphins in 1984 and played two seasons before getting married and returning to Kauai, where he is a father of three children.

He worked his way up through the ranks of local government and, after the death of then-Mayor Bryan Baptiste, won a special election for mayor in 2008. Two years later, he won an overwhelming victory.

The mayor, who plans to run for re-election in 2014, speaks with a heavy local accent that is laced with the cadence of Hawaiian Pidgin. His roots run deep on Kauai, where his father and grandparents used to work the sugarcane and pineapple fields.

His family history helps to explain his loyalty to, and sympathy for, the agriculture workers who work in the fields for biotech companies where genetically engineered crops, primarily seed corn, are tested before being exported to the mainland.

He suggested that their fate is a driving motivation for him when he deals with the biotech industry.

“There’s families that work the field like my grandma and grandpa used to work before. So I’m concerned about that. To say that [residents] are just going to get rid of all these companies, no way. We are going to work together,” Carvalho said.

“Nobody can tell me, ‘No worry, they going to get a job,’” he continued. “No, no, no. I know (people) with tears falling down their eyes, they are very concerned. Because that is all they have, these families.”

Carvalho said he is torn between the concerns of workers and of residents scared of the restricted chemicals that biotech companies spray on fields — substances that may enter the surrounding environment via the soil, water and air.

His response has been all about trying to get key players to work together on the issue — the governor, state departments tasked with pesticide and GMO oversight and the biotech companies.

The attempt at balance strikes some council members and bill supporters as naive. A common refrain of their criticism is: “You don’t negotiate with multi-billion dollar corporations.”

Councilman Gary Hooser, who co-introduced Bill 2491 with Tim Bynum, said repeated attempts to work with these companies in the past went nowhere. “I think (the mayor) is genuine, but not as informed on the issue and (he) gives a greater weight to the industry perspective,” Hooser said. “I think that he is overly optimistic in his expectations that these large corporations will act like good neighbors.”

Hooser’s comments about Carvalho are gentle compared to others on social media.

“Enjoy your last days in office chemical Carvalho, we will make an example of you,” the Hawaii GMO Justice Coalition wrote on its Facebook page shortly after the mayor’s veto. ”You have stained our lives and our health, we will stain your political future.”

That post received 141 “likes,” 66 comments and was shared 30 times.

“Go to hell Carvalho!” wrote one commenter.

“Vote him out. Scum bag,” wrote another.

The Hawaii GMO Justice Coalition later deemed Carvalho a “chemical company thug,” which also went over well with the group’s Facebook fans.

The unconventional advocacy group Babes Against Biotech, which has emerged in recent years as a highly visible presence in Hawaii’s anti-GMO movement, nicknamed him “the birth-defects mayor.” The group’s organizers — young women known for their bikini-clad pictures and pin-up calendar — plans to canvass on Kauai to secure Carvalho's electoral defeat in 2014. (The group claims to have 9,000 members.)

But it is far from clear that those who called Carvalho names and who have promised to end his political career will be detrimental to his 2014 re-election effort.

For one, the Kauai County Council’s override of Carvalho's veto may soften anger toward the mayor because he lost on the issue.
GMO Politics
Given an absence of substantive public polling, it remains unclear how many people on the island actually respect or support Carvalho's decision, or support Bill 2491.

So, despite a rally by at least 1,500 people to encourage passage of the bill in September, no one knows for sure where a majority of Kauai's 65,000 residents stand.

“One of the things that is really interesting about this entire process has been that you have a very active group of people who have dominated the conversation,” said Jan TenBruggencate, a former Honolulu Advertiser reporter who runs a communications consulting firm and is a member of the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative.

“There are people who are supporting the bill, when you talk to them privately, they still feel genetic modification of crops has the potential to feed the world and should go forward,” said TenBruggencate. “So it is sufficiently nuanced in the minds of the people that it is really hard to know what will happen at the ballot box.”

TenBruggencate even suggested that there may be a silent majority against the bill. "So I have heard people surmise that some of the supporters of the measure on the council could actually lose votes. And that the support for the bill is relatively thin.”

The debate on Kauai has often been boiled down to a David-versus-Goliath fight, with local residents concerned about health and the environment going up against the world’s biotech giants — Syngenta, DuPont-Pioneer, Dow and BASF.

But the political contours of the debate are more nuanced. The fight over Bill 2491 has attracted anti-GMO activists who want the biotech industry driven off of Kauai. Their arguments mirror those of a broader national movement that decries genetically engineered food as unnatural and dangerous, and feeds off public distrust and resentment toward multinational corporations.

In the face of such arguments, Carvalho stands by his strategy of outreach to all, which he says is in the best interests of the island. “Kauai is a special place and we have a special way of doing business,” the mayor said. “We work together. And if that means going to some place in Indiana or Iowa (where the biotech companies’ headquarters are) and going through every floor and spreading aloha in that place, I’ll do that if I have to.”

How Carvalho’s efforts will resonate with voters next November may well be influenced by how events unfold in the courtroom and the Legislature.

The biotech industry has said it will sue the county over the new law. Additional legislation may also be proposed at the state level to limit the county’s ability to impose regulations on biotech companies.

Joan Conrow, a longtime Kauai resident and reporter, said reactions to any forthcoming legal and legislative steps could measure residents' temperature on the issue. And if the courts or Legislature alter the equation on the issue, it could affect how people vote.

Regardless, all of Kauai will be able to decide how it feels about Carvalho on Nov. 4, 2014.


Architecture in Age of Austerity

SUBHEAD: A presentation by Leon Krier. Skyscrapers and cul-de-sacs are dead-end parasites in human settlements.

By Oyvind Holmstad on 25 November 2013 for P2P Foundation -

Image above: Massive stainless steel NYC high-rise by Frank Gehry. From (http://younxt.wordpress.com/2011/04/01/new-york-by-gehry/).

This lecture by Leon Krier is one of the most informative I’ve ever watched on the field of architecture, each minute is a flash of insight. Great architecture is just so simple, maybe this is why it is so difficult to achieve for modern man? We are born with the language of architecture, it’s universal, but we lost it with the coming of Modernism. Luckily, as Krier states, flowers have not become modernists.

There is a short introduction in Spanish, but Krier speaks in English language. The theme is architecture in the age of austerity, and we learn that modern architecture is only possible because of abundant energy and big machines. With the decline of civilization we’ll have no other choice than a return to traditional architecture, which is one of the aspects that will make our future better than the present, in spite of all the turmoil we’ll face.

Image above: Vernacular style owner built cob home. From (https://ecoexperience.wordpress.com/category/eco-village-2/).

First I wanted to write a summary of this lecture, but I found that too immense a task, as it’s filled with mind breaking stuff. I’m too overwhelmed and need time to absorb all this information. Just listen to what Krier has to say about skyscrapers at about 45 minutes into the video, and even the most fanatic skyscraper lover will have to admit this is one of the most stupid inventions in human history.

I know that people like Nikos A. Salingaros and Joseph Redwood-Martinez see Leon Krier as a giant, and after watching this lecture I’ve come to the same conclusion. Krier gives hope for a return to sanity for humanity. Beauty and sanity are the same thing, and the only thing that can give us back love for Earth.

Video above: Architecture In The Age Of Austerity by Leon Krier (54 minutes). From (http://youtu.be/iCRqcFvdn8o).


TPP is NAFTA on steroids

SOURCE: Brad Parsons (mauibrad@hotmail.com)
SUBHEAD: Nations would be held to much stricter and more extremes intellectual property rights... like on GMOs.

By Henry Curtis on 23 November 2013 for Ililani Media -

Image above: Demonstration against the TPP agreement. From article below.

Secret negotiations are occurring among Asian and American political and corporate elites that could increase the gap between the powerful and the rest of society. The
Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is the latest in a series of treaties to make the world more profitable for multinational corporations.

Back in 1974 Congress limited their own power by enacting legislation which stated that they could approve or disapprove trade treaties negotiated by the President, BUT they could not amend them or delay the process with a filibuster.

In 2007 Congress ended the Fast Track Negotiating Authority or trade Promotion authority(TPA) process.

President Obama wants Congress to reauthorize the TPA for both the current Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations and the future United States-European Community Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

TPP talks involve trade negotiations between twelve countries: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Peru, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, Vietnam, and the United States.

The TPP is being pushed by multinational special interests meeting in secret. Multinational CEOs get to see documents and mix with politicians, the public does not.

On November 12, 2013 twenty-two House Republicans announced their opposition to giving the president Fast Track Trade Promotion Authority for approving the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The next day 151 House Democrats including Hawaii Representatives Tulsi Gabbard and Colleen Hanabusa also sent a letter to President Obama announcing that they too opposed fast track authority.

On November 13, 2013 WikiLeaks released one chapter of the secret TPP negotiations and also the positions of each of the 12 negotiating nations. The Chapter focuses on internet services, civil liberties, medicines, publishers and biological patents.

An analysis of positions reveals that the U.S. and its allies Japan and Australia are taking extreme hard-line positions.

The TPP negotiations have resumed in Salt Lake City, Utah. The governments of the countries involved in the negotiations are not able to view the text while it is being discussed by the multinational corporations and their corporate lawyers, meaning that the public has little to no input on what will be included in the final version.

November 21, 2013 the Fair Deal Coalition sent an open-letter to all participants, noting that “the TPP is one of the most far-reaching international free trade agreements in history. We know from leaked TPP draft texts that participating nations would be held to much stricter and more extreme copyright laws than now exist under current national laws. These new rules would criminalize much online activity, invade citizens’ privacy, and significantly impact our ability to share and collaborate online.”

The Fair Deal Coalition favors greater access to knowledge, innovation, and economic opportunity, respect for fundamental rights like due process, privacy, and free speech and recognizing the realities and opportunities of the Internet. (https://openmedia.org/news/broad-coalition-tpp-governments-pull-provisions-restrict-access-knowledge-and-open-innovation)

The TPP Welcoming Committee, a broad coalition of consumer, environmental and labor groups, will be demonstrating behind police barriers.

A few years ago Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiators met in Hawaii as part of the 2011 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings.

At that time I interviewed a number of Hawaii State Legislators. None of them had any inkling of what was being discussed in the TPP negotiations, but the general consensus was that we should trust our political leaders.

As a member of Congress, Neil Abercrombie strongly opposed free trade agreements. As Governor he did a 180º turn.

Governor Abercrombie held a press conference at the Hawai`i Convention Center on November 7, 2011, the first day of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings. He stressed high tech, the military, astronomy, and the politically connected. He concluded by saying that everything is rosy and to ignore those who say otherwise. He did not mention labor, workers, or the general public.

I asked the Governor: “Are there any downsides to APEC?” and he replied “Not for us.” He noted that “There are a whole lot of people, I'm sorry to say, [with] a vested emotional interest in always seeing us on the losing side.”

He then went over to the HECO booth. “Have you talked to the Chinese about money?” Abercrombie asked, and seeing perplexed faces, he added “They have money.” He then left to talk to others.

An alternative view was presented by Reverend Samuel Lawrence Domingo, Pastor of Keolumana United Methodist Church, and President of Faith Action for Community Equity (FACE Oahu).
We welcome all of the delegates to APEC 

with Aloha. However we cannot keep silent about the subject of the talks that world leaders are engaging in while they are here. APEC is the Pacific version of an emerging system of supra-national governance – economic globalization - that is eroding the basis of national identity and sovereignty. Free Trade Agreements subject the laws that cities, states, provinces, and even nations make to an unelected set of international financiers. These finance capitalists from Goldman Sachs to Singapore’s Sovereign Wealth Fund are gathering in Hawaii next week and making plans that could, if passed without changes, restrict our ability to govern ourselves. This is an area of grave concern for churches, temples and other institutions of civil society.

When billionaire candidate Ross Perot ran for office he predicted that after passage of NAFTA, we’d hear a giant sucking sound of jobs leaving the country — and 20 years later there are 2 million less American manufacturing jobs thanks mostly to NAFTA, GATT, and their successor agreements. The net effect of these agreements has been to create a worldwide race to the bottom, so that investors move factories to the countries with the least restrictions on child or slave labor, the least environmental and safety standards. Meanwhile the terms of the trade deal forces us to accept these goods as if they were made in our own country.…

The effect of the economic globalization represented by APEC is to flatten the difference between nations and cultures. It disintegrates values, customs and beliefs that are local. In Hawai’i we highly value the sense of local; it is a word charged with meaning for us. And we’ve all watched over the years as that sense of local identity has weakened. Liberty House becomes Macy’s, Hyatt becomes Goldman Sachs, the Wisteria disappears, and Honolulu gets another Cheesecake Factory. When an international hedge fund buys Turtle Bay, they ban the shaka and try to close the beaches to local people
Lauren Ballesteros of UNITE HERE! Local 5 noted that the Trans-Pacific Partnership is like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) on steroids. As a result of NAFTA, almost one in four American manufacturing jobs were outsourced.

The flip side of this statement was made by business leaders at the APEC CEO Summit and the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) meeting.

Tony Nowell, Chairman of the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) Regional Economic Integration Working Group asserted that labor should be moved across countries with temporary work visas.
"What we find as business people as we cross boarders and move around economies, one of the greatest impediments to effective trade and to efficient business is that we are dealing with different regulations in almost every economy that we move into. We’re not asking for every regulation to be the same.

We are asking for …the issue of what we call labor mobility.

As economies grow they don’t all grow at the same rate, and of course you have labor at times, which is in surplus in one economy, and a deficit in another economy, and there needs to be the opportunity for labor mobility across the region, so that the labor can go to where the demand is. Too often this comes up against a roadblock because our officials immediately see this as an immigration issue. It is not an immigration issue. This is about the temporary flow of labor that is a key focus for us

Native Rights
Free prior and informed consent (FPIC) and indigenous rights have come under attack during negotiations and in implementation of several free trade agreements. To multinationals, indigenous rights are trade barriers and need to be struck down at the international level.

Mexico, Canada and the United States negotiated the terms of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). As a precondition for Mexico to enter NAFTA, the Mexican government was forced to amend its national constitution. The key provision that had to be amended dealt with the rights of outsiders to buy communal native lands and kick natives off the land for illegally occupying their own land.

NAFTA was ratified in 1994. Following an uprising by the Zapatistas, the Mexican Government signed the
San Andrés Accords which in theory granted autonomy, recognition, and rights to the indigenous population of Mexico. However what is on paper has largely been ignored.

TPP and Monsanto
SUBHEAD: There appears not to be a specific agricultural chapter in the TPP. Instead, rules affecting food systems and food safety are woven throughout the text.

By Barbara Chicherio on 24 June 2013 for Nation of Change -

Something is looming in the shadows that could help erode our basic rights and contaminate our food. The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) has the potential to become the biggest regional Free Trade Agreement in history, both in economic size and the ability to quietly add more countries in addition to those originally included. As of 2011 its 11 countries accounted for 30 percent of the world’s agricultural exports. Those countries are the US, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Viet Nam. Recently, Japan has joined the negotiations.

Six hundred US corporate advisors have had input into the TPP. The draft text has not been made available to the public, press or policy makers. The level of secrecy around this agreement is unparalleled. The majority of Congress is being kept in the dark while representatives of US corporations are being consulted and privy to the details.

The chief agricultural negotiator for the US is the former Monsanto lobbyist, Islam Siddique. If ratified the TPP would impose punishing regulations that give multinational corporations unprecedented right to demand taxpayer compensation for policies that corporations deem a barrier to their profits.
There appears not to be a specific agricultural chapter in the TPP. Instead, rules affecting food systems and food safety are woven throughout the text. This agreement is attempting to establish corporations’ rights to skirt domestic courts and laws and sue governments directly with taxpayers paying compensation and fines directly from the treasury.

Though TPP content remains hidden, here are some things we do know:
  • Members of Congress are concerned that the TPP would open the door to imports without resolving questions around food safety or environmental impacts on its production.
  • Procurement rules specifically forbid discrimination based on the quality of production.  This means that public programs that favor the use of sustainably produced local foods in school lunch programs could be prohibited.
  • The labeling of foods containing GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) will not be allowed.  Japan currently has labeling laws for GMOs in food.  Under the TPP Japan would no longer be able to label GMOs.  This situation is the same for New Zealand and Australia.  In the US we are just beginning to see some progress towards labeling GMOs.  Under the TPP GMO labels for US food would not be allowed.
  • In April 2013, Peru placed a 10-year moratorium on GMO foods and plants.  This prohibits the import, production and use of GMOs in foods and GMO plants and is aimed at safeguarding Peru’s agricultural diversity.  The hope is to prevent cross-pollination with non-GMO crops and to ban GMO crops like Bt corn.  What will become of Peru’s moratorium if the TPP is passed?
  • There is a growing resistance to Monsanto’s agricultural plans in Vietnam.  Monsanto (the US corporation controlling an estimated 90% of the world seed genetics) has a dark history with Vietnam.  Many believe that Monsanto has no right to do business in a country where Monsanto’s product Agent Orange is estimated to have killed 400,000 Vietnamese, deformed another 500,000 and stricken another 2 million with various diseases.
Legacies of other trade agreements that serve as a warning about the TPP have a history of displacing small farmers and destroying local food economies. Ten years following the passage of NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) 1.5 million Mexican farmers became bankrupt because they could not compete with the highly subsidized US corn entering the Mexican market.

In the same 10 years Mexico went from a country virtually producing all of its own corn to a country that now imports at least half of this food staple. Mexican consumers are now paying higher prices for Monsanto’s GMO corn.

With little or no competition for large corporations Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta now control 57 percent of the commercial food market.

While the TPP is in many ways like NAFTA and other existing trade agreements, it appears that the corporations have learned from previous experience. They are carefully crafting the TPP to insure that citizens of the involved countries have no control over food safety, what they will be eating, where it is grown, the conditions under which food is grown and the use of herbicides and pesticides.

If the TPP is adopted the door will be open wider for human rights and environmental abuse. Some of the things we should expect to see include:
  • more large scale farming and more monocultures;
  • destruction of local economies;
  • no input into how our food is grown or what we will be eating;
  • more deforestation;
  • increased use of herbicides and pesticides;
  • increased patenting of life forms;
  • more GMO plants and foods; and
  • no labeling of GMOs in food.
Together these are a step backwards for human rights and a giant step towards Monsanto’s control of our food.

Please pass the word to others about the TPP as most Americans are unaware of this trade agreement or its ominous effects if passed.

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Obama's Third World USA 5/18/13