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We're caught in the squeeze right now.

Climate change is advancing at an incredible speed. We know we should do something, but we lack the political will to do what it takes to hold it to 2°C. UN committees are now being counseled to prepare for 4°C of warming. To keep it survivable, there's got to be a powerdown -- starting today.

Meanwhile green-tech enthusiasts cheer the rapid rate at which certain countries are installing renewable energy infrastructure. But reports are now surfacing of shortages in the rare earth ingredients needed to make that renewable infrastructure. We don't have enough rare earth materials to replace the whole fossil infrastructure and continue on our current level of consumption. No one dares speak the little secret: Even with renewables, there's got be a powerdown.

Shale oil is environmental desecration. But people are willing to consider it because there is potentially vast amounts of money in it because the easier-to-get-to oil is running out. Along with stopping fracking, there's going to be a powerdown. But no one is talking about that part.

We should "keep the coal in the ground" scientists are telling us, and activists have (rightfully) picked up the cry. But no one never mentions the other side of the Stop Coal equation: the powerdown. We have to start talking about what we are willing to give up. 

It's a sign of a really good essay when bits of it linger with you for days after you've read it and it keeps popping up in your mind. Naomi Klein's "Why Science is Telling All of Us to Revolt and Change Our Lives Before We Destroy the Planet" is one of those. Her theme? "Global capitalism has made the depletion of resources so rapid, convenient and barrier-free that 'earth-human systems' are becoming dangerously unstable in response." 

"Serious scientific gatherings don't usually feature calls for mass political resistance, much less direct action and sabotage," Klein writes. She describes UC San Diego geophysicist Brad Werner at a major scientific conference as "observing that mass uprisings of people -- along the lines of the abolition movement, the civil rights movement or Occupy Wall Street -- represent the likeliest source of 'friction' to slow down an economic machine that is careening out of control."

The part that keeps itching at me, days after I read Klein's article, is the presumption that "mass uprisings" are the only way out of this mess. 

In so many ways, GMOs deplete any resilience in our food supply.
 
GMOs are perhaps the ultimate pinnacle of petroleum-dependent agriculture. These plants are laboratory-engineered specifically to work together with petro-chemicals: herbicides, insecticides, fertilizers. Headed into a world with increasingly less and less fossil resources, deepening the petro-dependence of our food supply is an absolutely disasterous course.
 
For thousands of years, humanity has fed itself “organically” — only your great-grandmother didn’t have a term for it. That was normal agriculture. This chemical-dependent stuff is very recent, widespread just since WWII. GMOs are the ultimate in UN-organic. The useage of farm chemicals with GMOs has vastly increased; it's now producing SuperWeeds and SuperBugs which are resistant to chemicals, requiring stronger chemicals in greater and greater quantity.  And the chemical-centric agribusiness process is stripping out our topsoils, polluting our waterways, sickening our farm workers.
 
The long-term impacts of GMOs on human health are completely untested.  For many years the companies that produced GMOs refused to allow independent studies, and there has been no transparency of scientific findings.  The first independent, longer-term studies are just now beginning to emerge in Europe, and these studies suspect the GM process itself (not just the chemicals) is detrimental to those who consume it.  (YouTube) We can indeed have a better life than this.

Tour a closed-loop water system where one critter's wastes become another's food. Inside a steamy greenhouse, Jeremy Roth of Aprovecho Center's Aquaculture Project shows us fish tanks containing tilapia just like you might order in a restaurant. Water from the tanks is pumped through troughs where pond plants take in the nutrients from the fish. Plant material is then returned to feed the fish in their tanks. The nutrient-rich water is also diverted to nourish veggies like chard, tomatoes, and water chestnuts rooted in a shallow gravel bar.

This spring, I had the pleasure of attending two weddings in Los Angeles.

In the June Tele-salon, we had Transition folks (and those interested in the Transition movement) calling in from Palm Beach, FL; Palo Alto, CA; Gilroy, CA; Missoula, MT; Los Angeles, CA; and San Diego, CA.

The following topics were discussed through an open dialogue space.

Celebrations:

Last year, individuals registered 4,100 actions as part of the annual Transition Challenge awareness raising and action campaign. This year, we set an ambitious goal of registering 5,000 actions, and throughout the month of May, the action count kept on rising. By the end of the month individuals and groups in 30 states collectively registered 6,942 actions to build community resilience!

Fear.  It's that chill that creeps up your spine.  That awful, churning hot knot, deep in the pit of your stomach.  The tremble that makes your hands feel powerless.  The freeze-up, that tempts you to inaction.  But you can't give in to it.  You still need to DO SOMETHING.
 
I'm not a very public person by nature.  But right now life -- my activist life, and life on the planet in general -- demands that I do some very public things.  It's terrifying.
 
My husband tells me fear and excitement have some of the same roots.  Maybe.  Sometimes it is excitement, disguised.  But sometimes, like a week ago Wednesday, like today, it is just plain wanting-to-crawl-in-a-hole rather than do what needs to be done.

In the May Tele-salon, we had Transition folks calling in from Gilroy, CA; Columbus, OH; San Diego, CA; Houston, TX; New York City, NY; Chicago, IL; and Santa Cruz, CA.

Open dialogue space was used to facilitate a conversation on celebrations, challenges, and brainstorming. Below is a summary of highlights from the call.

Celebrations:

This post is part of a series called “Taking Practical Action Toward Resilience” highlighting inspiring actions that people and communities across the country are taking as part of this year's Transition Challenge.

Written by Ruah Swennerfelt, Core Group Member, Transition Charlotte, VT

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