No Man Is an Island

I cannot think of any better way to start a discussion of another pair of sustainability-related concepts, interconnected vs. autonomous, than John Donne’s memorable words. No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee. Donne’s words tell us… Read More

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Sound Science

The NYTimes carried a story today about new threats to the ozone layers. The last time this process was noticed, the threat was due to an “exotic” chemical class, chloroflourocarbons (CFCs). The new info points to plain old water as the chemical that may be thinning the protective ozone layer above North America. The severity of recent weather events has been carrying water into the stratosphere– to higher altitudes than usual–where the water molecules can interact with the ozone-producing mechanisms. But this is not what I saw as unusual. The following quote was buried in the text. The findings were based on sound science, he and other experts said, but… Read More

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Acting extrinsically keeps sustainability-as-flourishing away

In my last post, I introduced my list of the polarized beliefs that separate the world of sustainability from our current one, and began my discussion with two very important distinctions, authentic and inauthentic. All of these distinctions are important because sustainability-as-flourishing depends on having them all in place. But some do seem to rank higher on some scale than others. Today, I want to look at a pair of related items, intrinsic values and extrinsic values. First, a brief comment on values. Values are a particular set of beliefs that are tied to action. They are different from beliefs about reality, like “rain is necessary to make my garden… Read More

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The Contradictions of Capitalism Unsustainability

As anyone that follows my blog would notice, I am slowing down again. I have been busy on other things, many of which are simply the wonderful “distractions” of summer. At this stage of life more than in earlier years, these so-called distractions are the essence, rather than the activities that pull one away from connecting with the whole world, not just a small piece of it at a time. I am working hard to organize a course on pragmatism I will be leading at my geezers Institute for Learning in Retirement in the fall. Much of the early writings contained arguments as to why pragmatism was distinct from other… Read More

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The Long Shadow of Karl Marx

One of my favorite sources of ideas that trigger my own thinking is David Brooks. Today (7/10/12) he reported on some recent work by the eminent Harvard sociologist, Robert Putnam, perhaps best known for his book, *Bowling Alone*. The title suggested his thesis that “human capital,” the social resource that binds a society together was disappearing along with the evidence that people were spending less and less time in communal activities. Brooks picked up a recent announcement by Putnam of some of his findings about differences in the US. Here’s a brief [description](http://bigthink.com/ideafeed/class-overtakes-race-as-the-great-american-divide) of his key points. Speaking at the Aspen Ideas Festival on Saturday, Harvard sociologist Robert Putnam alerted… Read More

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“Organic” Mischief

When is organic food not organic? When it’s labeled “organic.” The Sunday NY Times (7/8/12) ran a long [article](http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/08/business/organic-food-purists-worry-about-big-companies-influence.html?pagewanted=all) about the creeping takeover of the organic food producers and processors by Big Food. > The fact is, organic food has become a wildly lucrative business for Big Food and a premium-price-means-premium-profit section of the grocery store. The industry’s image — contented cows grazing on the green hills of family-owned farms — is mostly pure fantasy. Or rather, pure marketing. Big Food, it turns out, has spawned what might be called Big Organic. > Bear Naked, Wholesome & Hearty, Kashi: all three and more actually belong to the cereals giant Kellogg.… Read More

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Ignorance Is Not Bliss

Of many similar columns about the recent spate of bad news coming from extreme weather events, I found this [one](http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/05/the-fires-this-time/) by Timothy Egan highly evocative. > Nature makes a mockery of our vanity. We live in flood and fire zones, nurture stately oaks and take shade under pines holding the best air of the Rocky Mountains. We plant villas next to sandstone spires called the Garden of the Gods, and McMansions in Virginia stocked with people who have the world at their fingertips. . . Summer is barely two weeks old and two-thirds of the country is in the grip of a severe drought. More crops will die. More forests… Read More

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Thoughts from the Past

Jean-Jacques Rousseau would have been 300 years old, just a week before today, the 4th of July. Terry Eagleton, writing in the Guardian, ponders how Rousseau might feel about Europe today. Eagleton is a British intellectual best know for his theories of literary criticism. His short remarks about Rousseau are equally germane to the US, especially coming so close to our Independence Day. Here are a couple of paragraphs from the [column](http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jun/27/rousseau-our-selfish-age-philosopher?CMP=twt_gu). > What would this giant of Geneva have thought of Europe 300 years on from his birth? He would no doubt have been appalled by the drastic shrinking of the public sphere. His greatest work, The Social Contract,… Read More

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The Power of Both/And

The conjoining of both/and is a powerful linguistic device well matched to the complexity and richness of the world. It is the antithesis of absolute statements about what is right and wrong. Sometimes we find ourselves in situations where we are torn between two possibilities and realize that both contain truth. We may still have to choose between the two, but act with a sense of the legitimacy of the other. Both/and or yin/yang recognize that two things or statements that appear to be contradictory may both be true. In any positivist or dogmatic system of truths, this cannot be. The law of contradiction, one of the three basic laws… Read More

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