Friday, March 8, 2013

Musings: Things Change

Out in the darkness of 5 a.m., hugging myself to ward off a 58-degree brrrr, fog creeping over the road, the moon a golden boomerang flying low in the southeast sky. Back out an hour later, arms still hugging, fog still creeping, moon a silver crescent, the horizon smeared with a streak of pink-orange.

Things change, like the global temperature, which is warming at an unprecedented rate. So says a new study, published in Science, that tracked temperatures back 11,300 years, to the last Ice Age. As NPR reports:

So it's taken just 100 years for the average temperature to change by 1.3 degrees, when it took 5,000 years to do that before.

Climate scientists predict that the current warming will continue, given the amount of greenhouse gases going up into the atmosphere.

"The climate changes to come are going to be larger than anything that human civilization and agriculture has seen in its entire existence," says Gavin Schmidt, a climate researcher at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies. "And that is quite a sobering thought."

Things change, like the head of the CIA, with the Senate voting to confirm Obama's “assassination czar,” John Brennan. The vote came after Attorney General Eric Holder, responding to Sen. Rand Paul's filibuster, clarified that “no,” the President does not “have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil.” The President made sure, however, that he does have the authority to lock that person up indefinitely under the National Defense Authorization Act — though he claims his Administration will never use it, even as his Justice Department has fought in court to retain the power.

Things change, like public attitudes toward cannabis, even though law enforcement remains mired in the Dark Ages on the topic. Check out my cover story in Honolulu Weekly, where I outline what's happening with cannabis legislation this year, and give a history of eradication in Hawaii, including the role of herbicides and former Defense Secretary Dick Cheney:

In 1985, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) joined the war against pakalolo, much of which was being grown on public land, especially on the Big Island. Within a year, DLNR had developed a new weapon–a spray rig that could be operated from a helicopter to apply a dose of herbicide to specific plants. “This method proved to be more efficient than manual eradication efforts resulting in a dramatic increase in the number of plants eradicated,” reports the agency’s website.

Within two years Hawaii was engaged in year-round eradication with its intensive Operation Sweep.

But even all that manpower, money and herbicide wasn’t enough.

Hawaii’s marijuana industry, driven by an insatiable demand, is the root of Hawaii’s drug problem,” former state Attorney General Warren Price wrote in his 1989 report, “A Survey of Hawaii’s War on Drugs.” Price complained that “the eradication effort in Hawaii is . . . costing over $1 million per year and it is not apparently reducing, much less eliminating, the marijuana industry in Hawaii, nor is there any evidence to suggest it is reducing local consumption.” The report called for slowing the tide of substance abuse by wiping out the Islands’ marijuana crop, which that year was worth an estimated $1 billion to $10 billion, surpassing the value of sugar, pineapple and even tourism. 

So instead of cannabis, we now have GMO seeds, nearly 8 million tourists a year and an ice epidemic. Go figger....

Things change, like public awareness about GMOs, resulting in a clamor for labels to inform us of what we're eating. In response, the state House took the teeny, tiny baby step of approving HB174, which requires labeling any imported genetically engineered produce. Despite the hoopla, it's essentially meaningless, for two reasons. First, there is virtually no GE produce imported into the state. Second, there already is a means for identifying GE produce, via those little stickers on fruit. If the number starts with an 8, it's been genetically modified. If it starts with a 9, it's organic. And if it's just four digits, it's conventionally grown.

Though anti-GMO guru Jeffrey Smith argues that no one uses the 8, that could be due partly to the fact that there are just three types of GE veggies: some varieties of zucchini, yellow squash and corn on the cob. And then there's the GE papaya, which is grown only in Hawaii, and will remain unidentified to buyers here, thanks to a timid Lege.

Things change, like overriding Republican resistance to an expanded Violence Against Women Act that finally includes protections for Native American women and LGBT persons. Unfortunately, far too many women are still being raped, beaten, mutilated, controlled, manipulated, dominated — in short, diminished and destroyed – by a violent patriarchal system.

To quote Vandana Shiva on this International Women's Day:

"The multiple wars against the earth — through the economy, through greed, through capitalist patriarchal domination — must end, and we have to recognize we are part of the earth. The liberation of earth, the liberation of women, the liberation of all of humanity is the next step of freedom we need to work for, and it’s the next step of peace that we need to create."

Things change.


Anonymous said...

Once again, Mahalo Joan, For the forward looking journalism that is so essential to the survival of us all.

In the last month you've painted a very gruesome picture of our patheticly useless government and the pocket liners that run it.

One subject I'd like to see covered, is the Department Of Harassment and Revenue Generation (judicial).

Kauai really needs a aclu type agency for oversight.

Anonymous said...

Gavin Schmidt is a crackpot. He and Hansen have repeatedly altered past temperatures. This study has just 73 data origination points. Ridiculous. You see vineyards in York, Britain? How about pastures in Greenland? Wild grapes in New Brunswick, Labrador, or Newfoundland (Vinland)? Yet they were once there.
Must have been a lot warmer in the past, eh?

Anonymous said...

With all the anti GMO hype on the island what's ironic is how will all the GMO Canabis on the island be treated?

Anonymous said...

Frogs in a pot of slowly heating water...."Must have been a lot warmer in the past, eh?"

Eat GMO and buy more Health Insurance. "shooting blanks" yet?

Dr Shibai

Anonymous said...

"Gavin Schmidt is a crackpot." Only if you're a genius. But you're a dumbass, so there you have it.

Anonymous said...

"With all the anti GMO hype on the island what's ironic is how will all the GMO Canabis on the island be treated?"

What a great comment, had me on the floor laughing!!