Sound the Alarm!

September 29th, 2014

On September 21st, the historic People’s Climate March (PCM) in New York City sounded the alarm on climate change. Just before 1pm, participants paused in silence to reflect for a few minutes on the consequences of climate chaos to those on the frontlines, including indigenous communities and farmers, coastal and island people, desert to forest dwellers, and all those who suffer environmental injustice. At 1pm local time, everyone sounded the alarm, banging pots and pans, blowing whistles, pounding drums, and making as much noise as possible. What a magical way to raise awareness and transform consciousness, sending sound waves of emotional energy and intention rippling around the planet!

Take some time now to reflect on these messages from the PCM marching blocs: It takes everyone to change everything; The debate is over; We know who is responsible; We have solutions; We can build the future; Honor those on the front lines of crisis, the forefront of change. Over 400,000 people marched in NYC, along with over 2500 solidarity events around the world, representing all of us who care about the future. A most inspiring and unifying message was demonstrated so beautifully that it now defines our global climate movement: To change everything, we need everyone. Remember, we are the clue!

Our New Normal

September 19th, 2014

Climate change is upon us. Winter without snow? We know what that feels like now. The hottest August ever recorded? Just happened. Wildfires are bigger than ever, and in California, fire season lasts all year. Droughts, dust, fire, and deluge are becoming part of our new normal.

Scientists have studied the effect of increased carbon in the air for over 100 years. It’s a matter of physics and chemistry. The amount of carbon recorded in the atmosphere every month now exceeds 400 parts per million. Scientists tell us that any amount over 350 ppm is not conducive to life and civilization as we know it. We already see more extreme weather events, ocean warming and acidification, and record-breaking temperatures. To prevent climate chaos, we must promote low-carbon economies with renewable energies like solar, wind, water, geothermal, and others.

At the UN Climate Summit 2014 in NYC, over 125 world leaders met to discuss a more coordinated response to this global crisis. The World Meterological Organization (WMO) displayed imaginary Weather Reports for the Future, depicting likely local impacts of global climate change. According to the WMO, average global temperatures in the year 2050 could rise more than 4°C (7.2°F) if greenhouse gas emissions are not stemmed. Are you ready for a new normal of unbearable heat waves, mega-droughts, massive flooding, super storms, dying coral reefs, less diverse marine life, and the drowning of coasts and islands due to rising sea-levels?

Climate change is a disturbing subject, but it should not be a controversial one. The science is in. We may disagree about how to transition from a fossil fuel economy or which solutions to prioritize, but we must heed scientific warnings about dangerous tipping points. We can and should make changes in our personal lives, choosing sustainable practices such as reducing, reusing, and recycling and making voluntary simplicity a way of life. We must also support social, economic, and political changes to address the costs of climate chaos now and in the future. People with a clue need to promote and protect our Big Four values: clean air and water, healthy food, and renewable energy. For a more livable future, we must reduce carbon emissions now! Make climate action part of your new normal. Be the clue!

Caravanning towards the Future

August 11th, 2014

Every year, we gather together with friends and family to make a pilgrimage to the BurningMan festival in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada. For 2014, the theme of the festival is “Caravansary,” a place where groups of travelers stop to get supplies, exchange information, and interact with people from other cultures. For centuries, people traveled in groups called “caravans” because they were less vulnerable when they combined resources, shared expenses, and protected each other. A caravansary, or gathering of caravans, is an amazing place. Here we can freely exchange ideas and practical applications, expand our awareness of different cultures, and learn from everyone we meet.

The Cleu caravan makes our pilgrimage to the desert where our combined efforts create Black Rock City, a place where there is no trading or bartering, no buying or selling, just gift-giving and human interactions that are free of commerce. This is a temporary autonomous zone, a place where we can choose how to define ourselves, sharing and participating with others who are as free as we are. Sure, there is law enforcement in Black Rock City, reminding us that the world defined by counties, states, and federal government still has some authority. However, our collective creativity brings into being a city where most of us feel safer than anywhere else, where we feel more protected and supported than in any other city in the world.

Black Rock City is made up of many caravans, all converging in a single place, coming together with a shared intention: to give, to celebrate, to release, to enjoy! We follow the 10 principles of BurningMan: radical inclusion, gifting, decommodification, radical self-reliance, radical self-expression, communal effort, civic responsibility, leaving no trace, participation, and immediacy. We become bigger than ourselves when we join together in our Cleu caravan, and bigger than our own group when our caravan becomes part of Black Rock City. We share, support, and protect each other, and give freely of our time and energy to create a city that we want to live in.

When you contemplate the future, think about the road you are on. If you are traveling alone, look around to see who else is moving in the same direction. Form or join a caravan with others who share Cleu values. Go camping or do other things that require you to share resources and work cooperatively. Give your Cleu circle wheels, and let it roll! Envision all our caravans coming together as one great caravansary to imagine and create the infrastructure of a better world.

Winter without Snow

May 9th, 2014

We live in the outback country of Eastern Oregon, just up from the California and Nevada borders. In 2014, that means that our area is part of the extreme drought that is likely to be more prolonged due to climate change. We have just seen another winter with hardly any snow. Our mountains have no snow caps, and our reservoirs are drying up.

I recently taught a college writing class using The Global Warming Reader, an anthology edited by Bill McKibben. I knew that global warming had a long history, but I had no idea that the scientific study of the effect of carbon emissions went back over a hundred years. The monthly tracking of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere began in the 1950s, resulting in the Keeling curve which shows rising CO2 levels now over 400ppm. Scientists tell us that anything over 350ppm puts civilization as we know it at risk. You would think it would be in our best interest to listen to the scientists.

The National Climate Assessment shows us that climate change is already happening, primarily due to human-caused global warming. In other words, we have done this to ourselves. We must get over our addiction to fossil fuels. We must begin by acknowledging that our lives have become unmanageable due to our addiction. As individuals, we have become addicts to a petroleum-based economy that fuels our homes, cars, and devices, makes the synthetics for fabrics and plastics, and creates the chemicals for corporate agriculture. How have we come to this sorry state? As part of the recovery process, we need to acknowledge where we went wrong, hurting others and ourselves, so we can begin to make amends.

As oil addicts, we have created an economy powered by fossil fuels with huge profits for the energy companies, our dealers, and all the costs passed on to taxpayers as we struggle to recover from one climate disaster after another. If the energy companies had to pay the cost of these climate disasters, it would not take long to slow global warming and mitigate climate change. As consumers and investors in fossil fuels through retirement plans and other investments, we are all implicated in global warming. It is time to divest from fossil fuels in whatever ways you can.

Knowing that we can mitigate the effects of climate change is a stunning prospect. We literally have the power to change our world, to reduce carbon emissions, and to lessen global warming. We can save ourselves from the worst effects of climate change, but we have to act quickly to shift not only our own lifestyles but our entire economy. The CLEU is here to help you mobilize and support your spiritual community in this effort. You are the clue to our shared future. Let’s work together on behalf of our planet home.

Return to your Roots

September 8th, 2013

Going on pilgrimage gives us a chance to experience more cooperative ways of living by spending these precious days working and playing together face-to-face. We abandon our cell phones and electronic devices choosing instead to rely on each other. Cleu camp is an opportunity for all of us to appreciate the feeling of belonging that comes from living and working together. We experience At-Onement because we commit to each other and our camp. When we return to our roots, we discover that we have the power to manifest the reality we desire. Black Rock City is our collective dream, an amazing city magically appearing on the playa through the efforts of people who take this special time together to create art and to celebrate community, and above all, to live closer to our human roots. More »

Getting a Clue about Climate Change

July 24th, 2013

Climate change is happening. Despite the efforts of think tanks funded by the fossil fuel industry to debunk climate science, there is clear scientific consensus that the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is caused primarily by human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation. Our atmosphere contained about 275 parts per million of carbon dioxide from the beginning of human civilization up to about 200 years ago. With the Industrial Revolution of the 18th century, the CO2 levels began to rise. The carbon dioxide in our atmosphere has now hit 400ppm with CO2 increasing about 2ppm per year. The world’s leading climate scientists warn that exceeding the level of 350ppm of CO2 puts human civilization itself at risk. The organization 350.org, founded by Bill McKibben, promotes 350 events around the world to raise awareness in the struggle to fight fossil fuels and find a new way forward with renewable energy. McKibben calls 350 “the most important number on the planet.”

Global warming makes heat waves, droughts, floods, and superstorms more likely, making all extreme weather events more intense and less predictable. Climate change affects all of our Big Four values: Air, Water, Food, and Energy. Carbon emissions pollute the Air we breathe while adding to the greenhouse effect that causes global warming. Fresh Water supplies are threatened by higher average temperatures and extreme drought conditions while melting ice caps and glaciers lead to sea-level rise, warming and acidifying oceans with dying coral reefs, and storms cause more devastating floods and deluges. Our Food supplies are at risk due to the increased likelihood of more extreme droughts, flooding, and spreading desertification. The Energy we choose for warmth, manufacturing, transportation, productivity, and communication, should be contributing to our sustainable future, not to the collapse of civilization.

What should people with a clue do? Whatever path you choose, take a stand on the right side of history. Take part in climate actions to protect the Air, Water, Food, and Energy where you live. Nonviolent protests raise Consciousness about the devastating consequences inflicted by multinational energy corporations on local communities and the entire world. Global warming affects everyone. Resistance is not futile! Be an engaged citizen. Develop your spiritual community so that you can support each other. Promote respect for science and common sense. There is no arguing with faith, but we must stand against fossil-fuel-funded propaganda that discounts physics and chemistry.

We need to stop taking carbon out of the ground and putting it in the Air. We need to preserve our forests and grasslands so that they can help sequester carbon from the atmosphere. We should support the research and development of renewable energy sources that use sun, wind, and water (including ocean power and geothermal). We must quit coal, stop fracking and tarsands oil production, and abandon nuclear power with its horrific dangers. We must say NO to coal exports. Do your best to wake up the people around you to the amazing potential of renewable energy to revitalize our economy and slow down global warming before we break the planet. Divest from fossil fuels. Be the clue!