Climate change and its discontents: finding our way forward in a planetary crisis
Governor Inslee’s proposed Carbon Pollution Accountability Act may not be perfect but it needs our support. Why? Because it’s our biggest and best chance right now to assert the value of the planet over the rights of corporations. It’s the Washington State version of “think global, act local.” Republican opposition to the proposal is grounded in the rights of specific economic interests. House Republican leader Dan Kristiansen, Snohomish, said that Inslee’s plan proposal to implement a modest carbon pollution fee in the form of a cap and trade program might harm business.
Harm business, or harm all of us? That’s the question facing the Washington Legislature this session. How we got to this place is at the heart of Naomi Klein’s new book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, published by Simon & Schuster in 2014.
Klein charts the growth of two phenomena: the steady rise of the U.S-led version of deregulated capitalism and the steady rise in carbon emissions. Her argument gets more interesting when she describes the backstory—the belief system or ideology, that has paved the way into the dramatic showdown we are all living. According to Klein, the three big policy principles that become “normal” in the last decade or so are these: privatize the public sphere; de-regulate the corporate sphere; and lower corporate tax rates by cutting public spending. That’s our new normal.
One gift in Klein’s analysis is that she shows how moves to cut food stamps and raise the retirement age to 70 or 75 are congruent with the crazed drive to frack for natural gas even as water systems are poisoned and cancer rates go up in the surrounding communities, and drill for oil from deep water platforms even as those waters become more acidic. Through a series of calculated political maneuvers, we find ourselves in a place where the primary function of public policy has become protecting the right to profit. Because funds are finite, de-regulating corporations requires the de-funding of public services. In addition, de-funding public services creates new markets for corporations to exploit.
What these corporate-profit centered principles replace is the view that economic planning and management is necessary, because the role of government in a democratic society is to protect the rights of people. In other words, what has been lost is the belief that the government’s role is to look after the public’s welfare, rather than the health and wealth of corporate interests.
Cooked by the climate or condemned as a communist?
Klein is at her best when she takes pains to explain how we got here. For example, reminding us that President Obama took office in January 2009, Klein argues that by the following summer, the right’s rhetoric against government planning was in full force. As she writes, “flush with oil money from the Koch brothers and pumped up by Fox News, the Tea Party stormed town-hall meetings across the country, shouting about how Obama’s health-care reform was part of a sinister plan to turn the United States into an Islamic/Nazi/socialist utopia.” The right’s push against economic planning and management has been relentless and successful—a powerful reminder of the successful history of “red-baiting” campaigns in the U.S. dating back over a hundred years.
The curious fear of being labeled a communist or socialist, or even just communist or socialist sympathizer seems to paralyze those of us who position ourselves on the left. As Klein writes, “we know that we are trapped within an economic system that has it backward; it behaves as if there is no end to what is actually finite (clean water, fossil fuels, and the atmospheric space to absorb their emissions) while insisting that there are strict and immovable limits to what is actually quite flexible: the financial resources that human institutions manufacture, and that, if imagined differently, could build the kind of caring society we need.”
We know that biological systems have limits outside our control. We should know that our economic arrangements represent choices we have made, choices we can make differently. Why, when these two ideas are so simple, are we so stuck? Klein’s answer is clear: we haven’t done the things necessary to lower emissions because doing those things goes against the interests of the wealthy elite. To address climate change, corporations have to be regulated and government must impose the regulations. As Klein puts it, we need a “muscular” political response. But muscular political leaders need active political supporters, and that’s all of us. Klein doesn’t say much about increased alienation from the political process in the form of low voter turn-out, but that’s an element too. In effect, we need a muscular political response to break the chokehold of wealthy elites but many of us have given up voting.
We’re too soft to sacrifice…
Klein takes on the myth that we are too selfish, too “addicted to gratification” to make sacrifices for a greater good, one of the lamentations used to explain our lack of action. It’s not that the ruling class prefers to profit, it’s that we are too weak to sacrifice our “lifestyle” for the sake of the planet. Debunking the myth of weakness, Klein smartly points out that we have sacrificed a lot for the sake of corporate profits. She writes, “the truth is that we continue to make collective sacrifices in the name of an abstract greater good all the time. We sacrifice our pensions, our hard-won labor rights, our arts and after-school programs. We send our kids to learn in ever more crowded classrooms, led by ever more harried teachers. We accept that we have to pay dramatically more for the destructive energy sources that power our transportation and our lives…We accept that a public university education should result in a debt that will take half a lifetime to pay off when such a thing was unheard of a generation ago.”
The essence of “Blockadia”
What’s to be done? After her analysis of how we got into the predicament we are in—a wake up call for civilization, as she calls it—Klein describes a variety of strategies that are being used to put our collective well-being ahead of corporate profits. “Blockadia” isn’t a specific action, she writes, but an approach people are taking to close, rather than open, the fossil fuel frontier. Blockades have gone up at potential mining sites, drilling sites, pipeline sites. The idea, KC Golden explains, is that we have to stop making the problem worse before we can make begin to solve it. Golden calls it the “Keystone Principle”—“step one for getting out of a hole: stop digging.”
Klein describes the struggle to limit the number of oil trains and coal trains that travel through communities, as well as the struggle to limit or halt the development of additional shipping terminals, as a struggle against “the corroded tentacles of extreme energy”. Her discussion here is useful because it focused on tactics: she points out that local struggles, like those along the Washington coast, are critical for two reasons. First, they have a material effect on the fossil fuel companies and the related subsidiaries. Second, the struggle against the superior rights of fossil fuel companies has an important ideological component—it’s an expression of the desire for new public policies that protect the rights of the public.
Chipping away at the social license
The divestment movement, the campaign to get public interest institutions—universities, municipal governments, faith organizations—to sell any financial holdings they have in fossil fuel companies, also works on two levels. It would take a massive sell-off of shares of fossil fuel companies to make any significant financial impact. But by pushing for divestment, Klein argues, climate change activists are “chipping away” at the social credibility of fossil fuel companies. Just as tobacco companies lost their legitimacy, so too, as the divestment movement takes hold, may fossil fuel companies find the legitimacy of their very operations questioned.
Contradictions—A classic North American blind spot?
Klein’s discussion of Indigenous land fights in Canada and the U.S. is robust. She discusses the importance of the resource sharing provisions that were included in early treaties, pointing out that these very provisions are creating important legal spaces to fight against drilling and mining projects. She describes the important leadership role played by the Lummi in fight against the coal terminal in Bellingham.
Klein’s discussion of Ecuador is less good. While she acknowledges that for some indigenous people in North America, working with fossil fuel companies may provide the best option for economic survival at least in the short term, she doesn’t acknowledge the same range of response among indigenous people in Ecuador. Furthermore, Klein argues that because addressing climate change is both an ideological and an ecological battle, in the context of North America, where the ideology of de-regulated capitalism is so entrenched, it may make more sense to take on the political battle of raising the minimum wage before trying to install a carbon tax. Both are necessary. Both require government to put the needs of people ahead of the unfettered right to profit.
However, Klein fails to see the value of the same political work in Ecuador. Instead, she roundly criticizes President Rafael Correa for his “center left approach”—noting only in passing that under his presidency the poverty rate decreased by over 30%. She doesn’t pause to consider whether Ecuador, like Canada and the U.S., might also have to free itself from earlier capitalist ideologies that served the elites, whether Ecuador, like Canada or the U.S., is a complex society with a complex history. In her account, the only two actors in Ecuador are the current president, who disappoints her, and a singular indigenous point of view.
And yet…here’s our chance to chip
This Changes Everything is worth the read. Klein has a good discussion of Martin Luther King’s work that resonates with the image of King portrayed in the film “Selma”. She describes King’s argument that the social changes we require can’t be had for “bargain rates”—allowing people to share lunch counters and libraries doesn’t cost much. Extending the right to vote doesn’t cost much either. Creating jobs, creating equitable access to good schools, creating adequate housing—things that were achieved not in King’s life time nor yet today—requires a set of policy principles that put people first. Addressing climate change requires adopting a set of principles that put people first.
Klein argues that fossil fuel companies will resist every bit of legislation that potentially threatens their profits. She’s right. The reigning ideology, the one we have to usurp, holds that the market should run unfettered by government regulation. Any regulation, no matter how small, is potentially dangerous because it breaks with this way of working. It puts people first.
Republican Doug Ericksen chairs the Senate Energy, Environment, and Telecommunications Committee. He opposes Inslee’s proposal, and he’s the recipient of the largest donations from fossil fuel companies, their industry associations, and the state’s largest movers of coal, oil and gas. According to Sightline reporter Eric de Place, in the last election cycle Ericksen received $17,600 in direct donations and over $20,000 in PAC donations. Ericksen’s vice-chair on the Senate Energy, Environment, and Telecommunications Committee is Tim Sheldon, the Democrat who sides with the Republican caucus. Sheldon and Republican Andy Hill, who chairs the Senate Ways and Means Committee, also oppose Inslee’s proposal to put a price on carbon pollution. They occupy key leadership positions in the Senate—they too were subsidized by the fossil fuel industries.
Inslee’s proposal to create a modest cap and trade system is flawed. A carbon tax would work better. Nonetheless, because climate change changes everything, we better start chipping while we can.
Emily Lardner teaches at The Evergreen State College and directs The Washington Center for Improving Undergraduate Education, a public service of the college.
There have been escalating chants from the two opposing parties that have gathered at protests around the country and across social media — one camp shouting “Black lives matter,” the other insisting “all lives matter.” These voices can be heard bickering amongst themselves about the verbiage of their respective mantras while at the same time joining in solidarity against their common enemy: the trigger-happy police state.
From the outrage over Trayvon Martin’s murder in 2012 to the widespread media attention given the Ferguson shooting, our country is finally addressing the festering issue of racially-driven crimes by police officers.
When asked what minority groups are most persecuted by law enforcement in the United States, most people would attest to what seems to be the obvious: black and brown people (in this case, “brown” meaning of Hispanic origin). In terms of sheer numbers, this is an undeniable fact: people of black and Hispanic ethnicities occupy almost 60 percent of the total prison population, with blacks taking up a staggering 40 percent, according to the US Census Bureau. On a global scale, the United States is the world’s top jailer, with approximately 1.6 million people incarcerated as of 2010.
A surprising fact
This summer, the Center for Juvenile and Criminal Justice published a report titled “Who Are Police Killing?” that reveals “the racial group most likely to be killed by law enforcement is Native Americans, followed by African Americans, Latinos, Whites, and Asian Americans.”
On October 15, 2012, Corey Kanosh, a 35-year-old member and respected artist of the Paiute Tribe of Utah was shot and killed by Millard County Sheriff’s Deputy Dale Josse. More than two years after Kanosh’s murder, it is hard to find any coverage of the story, besides the initial one run by The Salt Lake Tribune shortly after the incident.
Recently, alternative news sources have shone a light on Kanosh’s murder as his family tries to raise money to fund legal proceedings. His sister Marlee Kanosh Shallenberger runs a GoFundMe.com account as well as a Facebook page to foster awareness of her brother’s case, which outlines 15 suspicious details about Josse’s pursuit of Kanosh on that fateful night, including multiple inconsistencies as well as questionable evidence.
In an even more barbaric and distressing case of police injustice, an 8-year-old girl belonging to the Rosebud Sioux community was senselessly tasered October 2013. Her furious family is awaiting justice while the innocent child receives psychiatric and emotional counseling.
There are reports of rapes of Native women, such as the case of Lisa Marie Lyotte of the Rosebud Sioux Reservation. After a harrowing ordeal of home intrusion and sexual assault, her shaken message to her local police department went unanswered. “Nationwide, an arrest is made in just 13 percent of the sexual assaults reported by American Indian women, according to the Justice Department, compared with 35 percent for black women and 32 percent for whites,” reports The New York Times.
The recent suffering of indigenous peoples spans more appalling social issues than the epidemic of excessive police force. Soon 2,400 acres of sacred Apache land in Arizona will be sold to a foreign copper mining corporation per Congressional vote.
Fine tuning our radar
Still, these stories have garnered little attention in the shadow of the Black Lives Matter movement. Even under the mantra All Lives Matter, how many American citizens, desensitized and far removed from the massacre of indigenous peoples, would remember to include the injustices against Native Americans when assessing the growing problem of police brutality? Before I moved to the Pacific Northwest, I never gave a thought to the existence of Native Americans in our country, much less to their maltreatment and disadvantage. Now, as I stand shoulder-to-shoulder with indigenous peoples in my community, and witness the abominable crimes and everyday discrimination committed against them, I cannot help but question why we as Americans still insist on ignoring these atrocities.
The truism is that all lives do matter, of course. But what of those lives whose ancestors tilled our soil long before blacks or whites called America their home? Over 500 years later, why do the repulsive crimes committed against them still generate barely a blip on our collective radar? Do their marginal existences on the outskirts of American society somehow render them less important to our society than minority groups who came long after? Or is it our responsibility to finally give voices to those who are silenced?
Bianca D. Velasco is a freelance writer, rogue scholar, and East Coast transplant to Olympia. Her passions are philosophy and the dissemination of information in a spirit of intellectual inquiry; she also abhors fascism in all of its insidious disguises.
Today I defect and join the squirrels
They live in trees with no
building permits cops jails or taxes
I have seen treehouse masters and wholeheartedly agree
Trees make much better foundations
The squirrels know how people are
Stay away from most of them
At least arm’s length
Many will kill you eat you run you over
Only a few in a lifetime
Say hi and share peanuts
Like we plant the forests
Not effing Weyerhaeuser
Squirrels take care of family
Adopt each other’s babies
Communicate with the heavens
Look up out high alert the forest
Predators are coming
Smoke fire storm
Squirrels see the world and speak
Plan for the future keep
Chatter and whip their tails around
Yep that’s me
Defected to the squirrels
Lennée Reid is a spiritualist, environmentalist and spoken word artist. Her eBook “An Evergreen State of Mind” is available on Amazon. Find her on Facebook or Twitter @lenneereid
Thank you, OPEC, for lowering oil prices. This statement is counter to what I have said and felt for years. Usually lower oil prices cause more SUVs and increased destruction to the environment. Lately with oil prices high, CO2 intensive fracking oil has become profitable with oil companies. Fracked oil requires one gallon to extract 4 gallons. Spindle Top oil from the original Texas oil boom, took one gallon to produce 50 gallons. Tar sands oil being very energy intensive and oil prices now going down, is becoming a financial loosing proposition. Fracking is also a quick ticket to global climate doom and dare I say, a major national security threat.
Running mile long trains loaded with a million gallons of volatile oil through the hearts of our cities and towns is too tempting to anyone bent on doing heinous terrorist acts. If Sept. 11th, 2001 was possible with just a few box cutters, what destruction and harm might a million gallon oil train exploding into a mile wide blast zone cause at rush hour in downtown Seattle or Portland? Fracking is a lose-lose situation for everyone but greedy, short sighted oil investors.
OPEC, while I applaud you for making fracking unprofitable I must also voice my disagreement in continued dependence on fossil fuels. The switch to renewables has proven possible, profitable and has already begun.
We have options—solar, wind, tidal, hydro, biodiesel, cellulosic ethanol, better batteries, and my favorite and likely one of the most promising, algae. Algenol.com of Ft. Myers Florida announced they will be starting commercial production of algae based biofuels at quantities of over 9,000 gallons per acre in 2015. The time for clean renewable fuels has arrived, lets start demanding them. The oil companies will never be the first to initiate this switch but they will surely follow or go out of business. Either way a good thing. We are witnessing a similar change happening today in electric cars being built by the completely new Tesla automobile company, forcing the legacy auto companies to offer viable electric options also.
IWW Picket Line—Fairhaven Haggen Food & Pharmacy in Bellingham
Saturday, February 21 and March 21, 1:00 – 2:30 pm
Whoever shops for food and cooks their own meals using fresh produce has farm workers to thank. Besides the long backbreaking hours grinding through the rich Washington soil these workers face another struggle. They hope for a decent life for their families, depending for their livelihood on labor in the age of austerity. The beginnings of a new labor union established by the farm workers themselves is standing up to make itself heard.
Familias Unidas por la Justicia
Ramon Torres is the president of Familias Unidas. He met with the Bellingham branch, Industrial Workers of the World on January 18th to request help on the picket lines in the upcoming dispute. Ramon said, “The workers hope for $15 an hour, medical insurance, and a better life for their families. Workers are scared because myself and other organizers have been fired already,” Ramon continued. “But we want to help all the farm workers who don’t get treated well. Also, oyster farm workers on the beaches have no restrooms and they must wait on the beach without pay until the tide goes down.”
Ramon came to the local IWW branch to help build local support for the union. The IWW branch voted to join the picket lines. Also supporting Familias Unidas are the local Jobs with Justice, Western Washington University Students for Farmworker Justice, and Community to Community.
“Respect the families who grow your food”
Grievances with Sakuma Brothers Berries include unpaid wages, draconian operation of their housing camp, and illegal attempts to import guest workers. Without a fair contract the union is forced to call for a boycott of Sakuma Brothers, Haagen Das ice cream, and Driscoll’s strawberries. “Since the farm owners are attempting to import guest workers again this year,” says Ramon, “we must ask for boycott of strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries against Haagen Das, Dricoll, and Sakuma.”
The workers do not want to boycott and strike, they simply want to work and raise healthy families. But the repeated abuses by farm owners have forced them to conclude that a union contract is the only way they know to create decent conditions for their families.
More detailed and up to date information on the union’s conditions and status can be found at: boycottsakumaberries.com.
The Frizzells, transplants from Texas and Michigan, are happy to be in the Olympia progressive community.
IWW Piquete—Fairhaven Haggen Alimentos y Farmacia en Bellingham
Sábado, Febrero 21 and Marzo 21, 1:00 – 2:30 pm
Quien compra alimentos y cocina su propia comida con productos frescos tiene que dar gracias a los trabajadores agrícolas. Además de las largas horas y agotadoras jornadas de trabajo en las ricas tierras de Washington, estos trabajadores se enfrentan ahora con otra lucha. Tienen la esperanza de proveer una vida digna para sus familias y dependen para su subsistencia de su fuerza de trabajo en una era caracterizada por austeridad. Un nuevo sindicato de trabajadores agrícolas establecido por los propios trabajadores está en pie de lucha para hacerse oír .
Familias Unidas por la Justicia
Ramón Torres es el presidente de Familias Unidas. El 18 de enero se reunió con la sucursal de Bellingham de ‘Trabajadores Industriales del Mundo’ para solicitar ayuda en los piquetes en la próxima disputa. Ramón dijo: “Los trabajadores esperan un salario mínimo de $15 dólares por hora, seguro médico, y una vida mejor para sus familias. Los trabajadores tienen miedo porque yo y otros organizadores han sido ya despedidos,“ y continuó Ramón. “Pero queremos ayudar a todos los trabajadores agrícolas que no reciben un tratamiento justo. Por ejemplo, los trabajadores de la granja de ostras en las playas no tienen baños y deben esperar en la playa sin goce de sueldo hasta que la marea baje.”
Ramón vino a la sucursal IWW local para ayudar a construir el apoyo local para el sindicato. La rama IWW votó para unirse a los piquetes. También apoyan a Familias Unidas Los trabajos Locales con Justicia, Los Estudiantes de la Universidad de Western Washington por Justicia Campesina y la organización “De Comunidad a Comunidad” una comunidad a otra, todos estos grupos piden.
“Respeto a las familias que cultivan nuestros alimentos “
Quejas con Sakuma Brothers Berries incluyen salarios no pagados, operación draconiana de su campamento de vivienda, e intentos ilegales para importar trabajadores invitados . Sin un contrato justo el sindicato ha sido forzado a llamar al boicot de Sakuma Brothers, Helados Haagen Das, y Fresas de Driscoll. “Dado que los propietarios de las granjas están tratando de importar trabajadores invitados de nuevo este año,” dice Ramón, “hay que pedir el boicot de las fresas y frambuesas contra Haagen Das , Dricoll y Sakuma.”
Los trabajadores no quieren el boicot y la huelga, ellos simplemente quieren trabajar y criar familias saludables. Pero los abusos reiterados por parte de los propietarios de fincas les han obligado a concluir que un contrato sindical es la única manera posible de crear condiciones dignas para sus familias.
Más detallada y actualizada información sobre las condiciones y el estado de la unión se puede encontrar en:
An introduction to a possibility: Cosmological Natural Selection
The purpose of science is to get people to examine what is real and abandon false ideas which are misleading. Our understanding of the Universe is vitally important for our species’ long term survival. The sun is going through a life cycle which will effect the earth’s climate. Dangerous meteor impacts are rare but a realistic threat. Also, it’s just plain fun to think about how mysterious, wonderful, and amazing space is.
Nobody really understands how the Universe came to be. The weird condition of the Universe being curved like a saddle is very strange. Astronomers and cosmologists everywhere insist that the Universe is flat and it is expanding from some super bizarre Big Bang event.
Alternative ideas about how the Big Bang happened and ever improving measurements of expansion suggest saddle shaped space and how we may be living inside of a black hole. This surprising idea that we are inside a black hole is not entirely accepted science. However, if found to be true, the Universe did not come from nothing and is definitely not flat.
Cosmological Natural Selection is the idea pioneered by the cosmologist, Lee Smolin. He argues that black holes are baby universes and that universes reproduce by creating lots of black holes within themselves. This is of wide interest because the laws of nature which make our kind of life likely, also make black holes likely. These two aspects of nature may be intimately related.
Standard Model Cosmology
Hubble’s law tells us the size, age, and expansion rate of the Universe. Hubble’s constant (H) is very close to 21.7. A galaxy one million light years away is moving away from us at about 21.7 kilometers or 14 miles per second. A galaxy 100 million light years away is flying away at 2170 km/s.
A million light years is a great distance, light speed (C) rounds up to 300,000 km/s. So one light year is found to be 9.5 trillion kilometers as follows:
Light year = speed of light x days per year x hours per day x seconds per hour.
The farthest galaxies we can observe at the edge of the visible Universe are the same distance no matter what direction. I’ll call the distance (R). Observing as if from the center is the only view we have. We can imagine things from different views and compare what we see with our telescopes, with what we expect. The Universe looks the same in every direction and astronomers conclude the distribution of galaxies is about the same everywhere.
The rule followed by nature shows that the constant (H) mentioned above does indeed account for the motion of the galaxies we see. The velocity (V) of galaxies flying away from us follow Hubble’s Law.
Velocity (V) = Hubble’s constant (H) x Distance (R).
If we use the speed of light as our velocity we find the edge of the visible Universe by dividing the speed of light by Hubble’s constant.
Distance (R) =
Speed of light (C) x million light years
Hubble’s Constant (H)
R = 300,000 x 1,000,000 LY 21.7
R=13.8 billion light years.
Anything beyond is traveling away from us faster than light and it will never be observable.
The age of the Universe is described the same way. Age (A) is the speed of light (C) divided by (H) given in millions of years.
Age (A) =
Speed of light (C) x million years
Hubble’s Constant (H)
A = 300,000 x 1,000,000 Y 21.7
A=13.8 billion years.
The visible Universe is a sphere which is 13.8 billion light years in radius. The cosmic microwave background from a sphere that size is the oldest artifact from the big bang we can detect. The age of the Universe is the same as the time light has taken to arrive here from the big bang.
If the expanding Universe were much smaller in the past, everything must once have been within the radius for a black hole of the same mass as the universe has. How could the entire Universe have escaped from this condition? It is well known of black holes that nothing escapes their gravitational pull, not even light. Everything must still be inside!
The only way for the Universe to have escaped is if it were always infinite and gravity pulled the same in every direction. Or as the inflationary model suggests, some inflation field did it?
What would being inside a black hole really look like? Possibly, a saddle shaped universe.
Saddle Shaped Universe
Not only is space expanding but the expansion is accelerating over time. This is what is meant by a saddle shaped space. Two parallel light beams traveling into the future must separate and travel away from one another due to the expansion.
Astronomers looking into deep space notice galaxies much closer together in the distant past. This vista is described by Roger Penrose as hyperbolic geometry, the Universe is very much like an M. C. Escher world. Space has expanded more over time than flat space predictions can account for.
Black holes are characterized by their singularity in the center and horizon at their boundary. Suppose the acceleration is the result of free fall toward a black hole singularity. The event horizon of the black hole may be what is observed as a cosmic microwave background seen from the inside. All other observations from this freely falling view would match the standard model of cosmology.
Frame dragging from General Relativity confirms that space is stretched out by any massive object in motion. Frame dragging can then be how space-time is created in an accelerating way. Centripetal acceleration may perfectly balance the acceleration of gravity. Angular momentum may be the only thing which could limit compression of the black hole singularity due to gravity.
Conservation of gravitational mass and conservation of angular momentum must work together in some way. The modern hypothesis called loop quantum gravity may one day describe the singularity but this science is not fully developed as yet.
Space is stretched by tidal effects along the direction of the inward spiral and not along the direction of the black hole’s radius. Freely falling matter will orbit increasingly faster as it spirals closer to the singularity. Frame dragging occurs faster than matter can fall through it, space is created.
The black hole we reside in is probably still growing by absorbing matter and energy from its surroundings. Our Universe may be embedded in a nutrient rich area of a larger universe, perhaps a supermassive black hole in a large galaxy.
Compare the standard model of Big Bang cosmology with a model of a black hole. It can be calculated the size of a black hole of the same mass as our entire Universe. The radius of a black hole, if it is the same mass as our sun, is three kilometers. So we only need to multiply 3 km times the number of solar masses in the Universe. Estimating 300 billion galaxies and 150 billion times the mass (Ms) of our sun for each galaxy, the radius (Rs) of the black hole in multiples of (Ms) is:
Rs = 3 km per sun x Suns per galaxy x Number of galaxies
Rs=3 x 150,000,000,000 x 300,000,000,000
To change this large number of kilometers into a more manageable number of light years we divide this by 9.5 trillion kilometers per light year:
R = (135,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 km)(9,500,000,000,000 km/LY)
R=14 billion LY.
14 billion light years, just larger than what we found earlier for the Hubble radius of the Universe. The mass of our Universe is equal the mass of a black hole of the same known radius. Let that sink in a while (pun intended).
If angular momentum continues to be conserved and if the speed of light continues to be the speed limit of the Universe, the singularity should form a ring. Centripetal acceleration will limit mass from falling all the way to the center point. The rotation of this ring drags space out, effectively expanding it.
By crossing the event horizon (the boundary of the black hole, where nothing can leave), space and time are distorted so much that matter may adhere to new physical laws and fresh parameters. Time, space, and velocity might gain new meaning when crossing the horizon. The horizon is a place where entropy itself could be inverted. From the inside it would look just like a big bang event.
This strongly supports the hypotheses of cosmological natural selection as described by Lee Smolin. Universes may reproduce this way. Smolin feels the parameters are adjusted by the singularity. People existing within it will naturally conclude the parameters of physics are unaccountably well fine tuned for their existence.
Better research is surely needed to confirm or falsify the saddle shaped universe hypothesis. Observations of the Cosmos are becoming more accurate with modern telescopes and space science is improving all the time. Because ultimate causes for the big bang are still open to debate, every possible cause should be carefully considered.
Cosmological Natural Selection is not entirely understood within modern cosmology and the saddle shaped universe hypothesis might be easily disproved. By necessity so many estimates, simplifications and approximations abound in cosmology that much interesting physics is yet to be uncovered. It is hoped the saddle shaped universe hypothesis will stimulate debate and generate research that will compliment Cosmological Natural Selection or refute it.
Russ Frizzell is an activist living in Olympia since 2010 and a graduate of The Evergreen State College where he studied Physics and Cosmology.
When I lived in rural Pennsylvania, I witnessed the negative effects of the fracking industry: a dingy brown hue to our tap water, loud gas and oil trucks careening down otherwise peaceful country roads. I even was woken early one morning—on one of my family camping outings—by men in orange jumpsuits surveying my in-law’s 88 acres of woods, marking choice drilling areas with fluorescent tape. Months later, my in-laws sold every inch of that property to the fracking industry for a large sum of money that will never be equal to the beauty and magnificence of the wildlife, streams, and plant life that flourished there.
Recently, a study has shown a direct link between the chemicals used in fracking and miscarriages, birth defects, and infertility. As a woman who has suffered three miscarriages myself (one stillborn at 24 weeks), I couldn’t help but wonder if my own exposure to polluted air and water in northeast Pennsylvania could have harmed my reproductive health.
In an EcoWatch article by Anastasia Pantsios, looked at “more than 150 papers that analyzed the health effects of compounds and chemicals widely used in fracking, such as benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene, xylene, formaldehyde and heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium and lead. From their research, they identified a range of defects and reproductive disruptions known to be associated with exposure to them” including “infertility, miscarriage, impaired fetal growth, low birth weight, preterm birth and birth defects. It found that rates of these conditions were elevated in heavily fracked areas. It also found many of the same problems in farm animals and pets living in those areas.”
The potentiality (or rather, stark reality) of dangers to fetuses and infants is only a new point in opposition of fracking. Just one frack uses eight million gallons of water, and you can only frack one well 18 times—not a sustainable practice. This means that it is impossible to keep fracking confined to designated areas.
DangersOfFracking.com alleges that “methane gas and toxic chemicals leach out from the system and contaminate nearby groundwater” during the fracking process, and that “methane concentrations are 17x higher in drinking-water wells near fracturing sites than in normal wells.” Consumption of contaminated water has been linked to respiratory and neurological damage.
Futhermore, the toxic waste fluid is left to evaporate, releasing VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) that pollute the air adding to already debilitating environmental problems, such as acid rain and depletion of the ozone layer.
Despite these facts, greedy CEOs of Big Business and the officials elected by them refuse to outlaw this destructive practice. As these people shamelessly line their pockets, families are torn apart by cancer and other illnesses related to exposure to fracking chemicals. Produce and livestock are contaminated and ingested by people all across the country. Residents of rural communities are fearful of their running water, which is supposed to be nourishing, refreshing, and life-giving, and unborn children have much less of a fighting chance than they should.
Fracking has been a controversial issue in my community since I can remember. Before I knew what the term meant, I observed lawns adorned with “Don’t Frack With Our Water” signs and irate neighbors fervently demonstrating how they could light their tap water on fire. When I first heard what my husband’s family was being offered to sell their acreage in the Pocono mountains, I admit that I was not opposed to the idea, pregnant at the time and filled with my own oblivious greed.
Looking back on my attitude towards this environmentally perilous practice and the pain of delivering a stillborn child, I am ashamed to have been attracted to the dollar signs that fracking made me see. If there is one undeniable truth that exists about fracking, it’s that the consequences of what gas and oil drilling produce are full-circle, affect everyone, even those who have not yet taken their first breath. The financial gains attained by fracking are in no way worth the impact that this dangerous process will have on generations to come.
Bianca D. Velasco is a freelance writer, rogue scholar, and East Coast transplant to Olympia. Her passions are philosophy and the dissemination of information in a spirit of intellectual inquiry; she also abhors fascism in all of its insidious disguises.
What I try to do—and what I think I mostly accomplish—is to present news in a fashion that is both entertaining and memorable. The very essence of my writing style is to freely mix the facts with my take upon those facts. I consider myself a word artist rather than a professional journalist and I often employ colourful metaphors, acerbic asides, and witty insults when writing about the perfidy of our Great American Machine. Rather than merely writing, I like to paint word-pictures — and if the artistic part of my creation requires that the Rules of English and/or journalistic restraint and/or common rules of decency be ignored smashed or mutilated—then so be it.
Anyway, Works in Progress has recently made some changes in their policies and they now have a professional editor. They have also instituted new guidelines for ‘factual’ pieces as opposed to ‘opinion’ pieces—and evidently, never shall the twain meet. Looking at the big picture this is probably a very good thing for them to do and I applaud them. Works in Progress’ reputation is that of a bunch of ranting radicals—like me, for instance—and professionalizing their publication could lead to WIP having more credibility and possibly they will begin carrying more weight in local affairs.
However, this creates a problem for me personally since that is not what I do. I tend to enthusiastically throw literary hand-grenades at the right-wingers even as I joyously toss turds into the punchbowls of the left-wingers—and when it comes to fascists I follow a strict policy of scorched-earth take-no-prisoners.
Last month Works in Progress published an article I wrote called Justice, American Style (though WIP changed the title to Justice, American Robber Baron Style). If the title you read was longer than the one I wrote, the article itself was much shorter as the new editor removed about half of it and I barely recognized my own piece. I’ve always known that I could use a good editor and she obviously spent a lot of time on my piece — and she probably a good deal of that time pulling out her hair. I honestly and truly appreciate all the time she spent and a lot of the structural changes she made were very good — but in my ‘opinion’ she also removed everything that caught the attention and made the piece memorable, leaving only a dry and rather boring recitation of facts that most readers of WIP probably already knew anyway. She removed every colourful metaphor, every acerbic aside, and every witty insult; i.e. every bit of personality and everything that defines my art as my art.
Here is an example of what was edited out:
“What the Wall Street Congressional Industrial Media Prison War Machine Complex did was the metaphorical equivalent of picking up a bunch of dog droppings from the lawn, mixing in some filler and spices, and then serving it to your grandmother whilst enthusiastically assuring her that it was a gourmet meal…
Catchy? Memorable? Fun? I think so—but that is my ‘opinion‘.
Anyway, while I occasionally write pieces that will fit into WIP’s new guidelines, overall I will probably be making far fewer submissions to Works in Progress in the future. Works in Progress remains an invaluable local resource that I truly love and treasure. Covering under-covered news and views is what I am all about and Works in Progress does just that and they do it well. We are just sort of taking different paths and I view this as conducting an amicable separation. They like vanilla and I like butterscotch. Both are good. Both have their place. We are still friends and allies. I will still be reading WIP cover to cover every month.
Hip, hip, hooray for Works in Progress!
FYI: If you enjoy my writing and would like to continue to read it, I publish a weekly email newsletter aimed at the Olympia activist community. It is called the Thunderbolt and the Thunderbolt contains news mixed with views, unedited commentary, and a calendar of activist events every week. To sign up for the Thunderbolt, just send an email to email@example.com and put “sign up for the Thunderbolt” in the subject line.
You can also listen to the Thunderbolt on the radio every Friday at 8 am and 7 pm and every Saturday at 8 am on KOWA. KOWA is our local low-power fm radio station. The broadcast signal only reaches downtown Olympia at 106.5 fm but you can stream KOWA from anywhere in the world that has Internet access on any computer or smart phone at www.kowalp.org.
In my ‘opinion’, KOWA has the best public affairs programming in Washington State and I can assure you this ‘opinion’ is not due to the fact that I happen to be the program manager…
Dana Walker is an Olympia activist and publishes The Thunderbolt, a community digital newsletter.
(Editorial note: Works In Progress has always welcomed opinion pieces from Dana Walker and we are saddened that he has decided to reduce his frequency of submissions. We must also state that our policies have not changed. As in our long-standing submission standards, WIP values opinion pieces, which “are best supported by facts, examples, and sources, and we encourage writers to include these elements to submissions.” WIP also “reserves the right to edit or not print submitted material” as stated under our Governing Tool.
One last thing. All of our editors volunteer their time; there are no paid staff. We’ve tried paying people to work for WIP and it just never works out.
Dan Leahy on what it is and what it’s not
Roughly sixty-million gallons of volatile crude oil passes through Washington every week, and over a million gallons of crude oil was spilled from trains in North America in 2013, more than the previous 30 years combined. Numerous explosions also occurred, including the explosion in Quebec that killed 47 people. WA Senate Democrats
In the first week of the 2015 legislative session, Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Kitsap County, and Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, introduced Governor Jay Inslee’s request oil transportation legislation to the state Senate (SB 5087). WA Senate Democrats
Unprecedented amounts of oil are traveling along the rails of Washington state, through our rural areas and downtowns and along our coastlines,” Rolfes said. “Right now, it is impacted communities and the taxpayers of Washington who bear all of the risk and responsibility in the event of an accident. This legislation simply shifts some of the burden of spill prevention and response onto those that profit from oil transportation.
Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Kitsap County
This bill is not about the safe transportation of crude oil
…by rail, as has been demanded by cities and citizens across Washington state.
The railroad or “tank car” is barely mentioned in the bill. It even exempts the railroad from participation in its “spill prevention plan.” In Section 5 (2) the bill lists eleven items that must be in a spill prevention plan submitted by an onshore or offshore facility receiving crude oil, but then in subsection (3) the bill states “Plan requirements in subsection (2) of this section are not applicable to railroad cars while transporting oil over rail lines of this state.”
The railroad is mentioned in relationship to providing advance notice of when oil is transferred to a terminal. (Section 11, 7b). The information provided is then published quarterly on the DOE website. It covers location, volume, place of origin, number of rail cars and “number and volume of oil spills on route” (Section 9). If someone thinks the availability of this information on the DOE website will make the people living in communities next to terminals “safer”, I have a bridge for them in Brooklyn. Cheap.
Not one word of the testimony to the Governor about how to improve rail safety by the Legislative Board of the Locomotive Engineers’ union is reflected anywhere in this “safety” legislation. Nothing about the inexperienced, inadequately trained railroad employees, single person train crews, chronic and acute fatigue, absence of track maintenance commensurate with number of heavy tonnage trains, inadequate regulation and rulemaking by the Federal Railroad Administration, inadequate Whistle blower protection, etc.
The fact that this bill contains nothing that will improve the safety of crude by rail is testimony to the fact that DOE’s rail consultant for its study and subsequent legislation were former corporate officers of BNSF, Mainline Management, Inc.
This bill is not about prevention
…even though in Section 3 (2) the bill states, “The legislature finds that prevention is the best method” and its “primary objective … is to achieve a zero spills strategy.”
If prevention were the goal, the Legislature would heed the words of its First Responders and call for “a halt (to) the movement of this crude by rail” until “the determination that this crude by rail can be moved safely through our cities and rural areas. (WSCFF resolution 14-33).
If prevention were the goal, the Legislature would heed the words of the cities such as Vancouver who opposes the massive Tesoro terminal at the Port of Vancouver or the cities of Aberdeen, Montesano, Elma, Westport, the Port of Olympia and the Quinault Nation who oppose the three proposed oil terminals at the Port of Grays Harbor.
If prevention were the goal, this language in Section 3 would have to be changed. “These shipments (of oil) are expected to increase in the coming years.” The Legislature would have to take some responsibility for halting that increase by stopping the proposed oil terminals and expanding refineries.
“Best achievable protection” (Section 1) is not prevention. This language says we will take the risk and mitigate later. This language replaces the precautionary principle. That principle says if we think something is dangerous (plenty of language in this bill that says it is), we say “no” and ban it until we know it is safe. “Best achievable protection” allows oil interests to trump common sense; it substitutes reason and caution for breathless rhetoric and turns communities into sacrifice zones for the 1%.
This bill is not about making us safe
…from the volatile, explosive nature of the North Dakota Bakken shale oil being transported throughout our state, nor about increased risk of explosions due to increased rail traffic.
There is not one word in this legislation about the explosions that have taken place in Lac Megantic, Casselton and other places nor how the Legislature intends to protect us from those explosions. The First Responders have already testified, as have many Fire Departments, that fighting such an explosion or fire is beyond their capacities.
This bill sells “safety” in the guise of spill response. It is about raising funds for spill clean up of the marine environment and the threat of waterborne oil transport. The bill taxes at the point oil is being transferred to terminals. It places those funds in two accounts, the oil spill response fund and the oil spill prevention fund. (Section 19). It presumes spills. The main contractor for this legislative study was a spill consultant, Environmental Research Consulting of Cortland Manor, NY. They received $250,000 of the $300,000 allocated by the Legislature.
As there is for the marine environment, there is no commensurate “special concern” for the agricultural land, the wheat, fruit, dairy or land that these oil trains pass through nor the danger these trains pose for the non-marine related environment such as eastern Washington rail towns or those towns along the I-5 corridor.
What this bill does do
… is make the Governor’s approval of new terminals at the Port of Vancouver and the Port of Grays Harbor “safe.”
It adds “the Columbia River and Grays Harbor” to language about Puget Sound. (Section 3) and (Section 16). The only reason for such language is the proposed oil terminals at the Port of Vancouver and the Port to Grays Harbor to be supplied by unit trains.
This legislation reinforces a decision to proceed with those terminals. This legislation, if passed, provides the supporters of those terminals, and the Governor himself, cover for approval. “Hey, Governor Inslee, now that you made those things “safe” it’s okay to approve them.” Approval means more trains, more dangers, more extraction, transport and burning of fossil fuels.
In exchange for a total of five oil tank farms, the communities of Grays Harbor and Vancouver may get an escort tug a piece for oil tankers and barges. (Section 16 & 17).
There is no equivalent “escort tug” trade off for communities not at a terminal site. They all get to wonder when that mile long train loaded with three million gallons of explosive Bakken fuel or Alberta tar sands bitumen is going to derail, explode, or pour into their fields and community.
This is not a theoretical problem. We know derailments and oil spills will happen. For the safety of our communities and economy, as well as the preservation of our environment, we need to pass this bill.
Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Kitsap County
Dan Leahy is a Comandante in the Herioco Batallon de San Patricio and encourages all US citizens to read about the Mexican Revolution so they will know what a social revolution actually looks like. La Lucha sigue, Zapata vive.