[permaculture] 2006 is already setting heat records

Saor Stetler saor at ycbtal.net
Tue Jul 18 10:48:50 EDT 2006

Cool's Out for Summer
2006 is already setting heat records

January to June 2006 was the warmest first half of the year in the 
continental U.S. since record-keeping began in 1895, and the 
sixth-warmest in the world as a whole, according to the National 
Climatic Data Center. Alaska, far eastern Europe, and parts of Russia 
posted cooler-than-average temperatures, but the rest of the Northern 
Hemisphere was right toasty. The U.S. average temperature in the first 
half of 2006 was 51.8 degrees, 3.4 degrees above the 20th-century 
average. And heeere's summer: Excessive heat warnings have been issued 
in many cities across the country as temperatures are hitting three 
digits; nearly half of the contiguous U.S. was in moderate-to-extreme 
drought as of June. "It's not supposed to be hot like this," says Connie 
Clayton, a longtime resident of Frazier, Colo., the nation's 
self-proclaimed icebox at an elevation of 8,550 feet. "Lately there have 
been evenings when you could sit outside at 10 p.m. without a coat. All 
my life I couldn't do that."

straight to the source: USA Today 
<http://www.grist.org/cgi-bin/forward.pl?forward_id=7311>, Associated 
Press, 17 Jul 2006

straight to the source: MSNBC.com 
<http://www.grist.org/cgi-bin/forward.pl?forward_id=7310>, 14 Jul 2006

  Gotta Wear Shades

    Drop that apocalyptic vision and start imagining a positive future

By Karen Hurley
11 Jul 2006
Back at the turn of the millennium, the local government I was working 
for asked community members to contribute their vision of the 
municipality in the year 2025. As an environmental planner, I attended 
the community's presentations with some interest.

One group that responded was a gifted-students' club from an elementary 
school. In their envisioned future, they imagined a community with only 
indoor parks. Beyond these parks, there would be no trees, no plants, no 
birds, and no animals. Freshwater would be gone, because lakes and 
streams would either be dried up or too polluted to support life; 
drinking water would have to be created from desalinization plants on 
the coast. In the future these children predicted, universities and 
colleges would be closed because everyone would learn -- alone -- 
through their personal computers.

As the children spoke, I sat with tears rolling down my cheeks. Had I 
really just heard what they'd said? Had the appreciative and encouraging 
municipal council heard the same thing? Why would children who lived in 
an idyllic natural environment -- surrounded by trees, a rich diversity 
of plants and lush gardens, abundant wildlife including deer and 
cougars, large forested parks, and fish-bearing streams -- imagine a 
future that was ecologically dead?

The answer may be because this is the future collectively envisioned by 
most everyone, including scientists, technology pundits, fiction and 
documentary filmmakers, writers, advertisers, video-game producers, and 
those of us whose careers are devoted to trying to protect the planet. 
Perhaps these children envisioned a future in which their community was 
dead because that's the future they're taught is inevitable.

I fully understand this despair. I hit a wall of it straight-on during 
my tenure as an environmental planner. In fact, I remember saying things 
like, "Yes, we will hit total ecological collapse, but our job is to 
ensure that as many species as possible live beyond it." Now I see how 
harmful such words are.

Somehow, we need to begin to envision ecologically sound and socially 
just futures that reflect the great diversity of all beings, including 
humans. We must insist on having a say in what our futures look like. We 
do not have to accept the singular vision being created by those in 
power. This singular vision of the future is hyper-urban, with decaying 
cities, polluted air, and corporate and technological dominance. There 
is not a speck of nature. White men are still in charge. And then there 
are those damn flying cars.

This isn't the future I want, nor is it one I am working hard to create 
in my community. My vision of the future includes birds, trees, and 
clean flowing streams; organic, small-scale farms and lots of bicycles; 
conversations with neighbors at local stores and engaging educational 
institutions; clean air, strong women, diverse communities, truly 
democratic decision making, and happy children. No flying cars.

Some people will dismiss my vision as idealistic or unrealistic. But as 
scholar Ivana Milojevic of Metafuture 
<http://www.metafuture.org/index.html> reminds us, the dominant, 
dystopic vision of the future is seen as more "realistic" simply because 
it is talked about more, visualized more, and analyzed more. It is given 
infinite time and space in the media. It serves those in control; it is 
a continuation of their world. It's endorsed by our corporate culture, 
because people who have been made to feel powerless to contribute to a 
better world simply give up, becoming self-absorbed in golf games, video 
games, war games. Becoming relentless consumers to fill the void -- 
without challenging a thing.

Some people will say that my image of the future is counterproductive; 
that the doom and gloom is necessary to keep us all on our toes, to get 
us to respond to the warnings. I understand this. I have witnessed how 
politicians are unwilling or unable to take action until there is a 
crisis in front of them. But it doesn't have to be an either/or. Yes, a 
good cautionary tale is a powerful thing. What makes me crazy is that a 
cautionary tale is all we get. We also need the alternative. We need 
hopeful visions to give us something to work for, as opposed to always 
working against something. We need a diverse crop of sustainable ways 

Back to the children who imagined their future as dead: I went to visit 
them a few months later, and told them about the work I was doing at the 
local level, some of the amazing work being done by teams of people at 
the regional and federal levels, by volunteers, and by nonprofit groups. 
And they completely shifted. They reworked their vision to include 
flowing streams, trees, birds, animals, and happy people. They just 
needed to know that there were adults making positive change toward a 
flourishing earth. And then they asked me how they could help. So we set 
to work on a plan to create a native garden in their schoolyard.

As peace activist Elise Boulding puts it, "The sheer difficulty of 
imagining a future sustainability different from the present is one of 
our greatest problems as a society." Let's create, in the space that 
Grist provides <http://gristmill.grist.org/story/2006/7/11/12610/5667>, 
a dialogue about our worries and our hopes. Let's share stories about 
what is important for us to put in place for the future, and what's 
happening in our communities now that provides hopeful ways forward. It 
will be hard work to imagine sustainable and just futures, but it is 
time to begin.

- - - - - - - - - -

Karen Hurley is an interdisciplinary Ph.D. student, eco-feminist 
futurist, "retired" environmental planner, ex-restaurateur, and board 
member of a community organic farm. She works daily at baby steps toward 
enabling sustainable and just futures. 

"Liberty can not be preserved without general knowledge among people." 
(August 1765) John Adams

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