Environment (Shorts) (46)
by Kay Denton
In the arid high desert, planning ahead will help you make the most of your precious water.
Despite the fact that many of us have watched animals stroll two by two toward a large boat in the west desert over the last few months, we actually live in high desert country and are entering a dry spell. July is usually the driest month in Salt Lake City with an average of .72 in. total precipitation for the 31 days. Utah is the second driest state in the nation, bested only by Nevada. Given these facts, it’s increasingly important to become water-wise if you’re not there already. Here are practical pointers that will help you make the most of your water resources—and, if you really want to know what’s going on out there—a microcosmic peering into the cellular life that’s raging in your very own plot.
by Sallie Dean Shatz
Rio Tinto stockholders and watchdogs gather in London.
April 14th was the Annual Shareholders Meeting of Rio Tinto in London, England. Community activists came together to hold a public forum, question the board of directors for two hours during the meeting and meet with major investors and government officials on Rio Tinto’s mining around the globe. Concurrent with the stockholders meeting, in Salt Lake City a press conference featuring physicians, a former Kennecott contract employee and members from nongovernment organizations asserted that Bingham Mine significantly pollutes the Salt Lake Valley’s air, water and land, and a 32% expansion would be disastrous to citizens’ health.
by Arty Mangan
It is good to remind ourselves that seedlings emerge from the decay of old structures.
Sustainable development "meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs," as defined by a United Nations commission in 1987. That definition is derived from the Great Law of the Haudenosaunee or Iroquois Federation that requires decision-makers to consider the impact seven generations into the future. How will our actions today affect the great-grandchildren of our great-grandchildren 200 years from now?
by Steve Bhaerman
Forget reality TV. We've got reality, a once-in-a-many-lifetimes hero's journey with the entire species in the hero's role.
No matter how you look at it, these are extraordinary times where we seem to face crisis at every turn. Interestingly, the word “crisis” first came into the English language in a translation of Chauliac’s Grande Chirurgie (Major Surgery) and it meant “the turning point in a disease.”
Well folks, the body politic—and indeed the biosphere—is one sick puppy. We are at a pivotal moment where things can take a turn for the worse, or the better. Looking at the magnitude of the crises, it becomes clear that—to paraphrase Einstein —these problems cannot be solved at the same level they were created. Inside-the-box economic fixes aren’t fixing anything, nor can technological fixes alone repair the excesses of technology.
Meanwhile, we have an intransigent system invested in remaining the same, doing everything it can do to keep people asleep—or roused up in anger against the wrong enemy. It really doesn’t look good for the home team. In fact, it looks more and more like the world needs a miracle.
You, too, can be a biological pioneer—”an ecological inventor who’s got an elegant and often simple set of solutions for environmental conundrums” (Utne Reader). Meet your cronies and make something happen at the Bioneers SLC Annual Conference: Westminster College, November 5-7.
If you read CATALYST, you’re a likely contender for Bioneers. Years ago, some of our staff traveled to San Rafael, California to attend the annual gathering, which focuses on solutions to today’s environmental and social justice challenges. We saw and heard from, and in some cases met founders Kenny Ausebel and Nina Simons, mycologist Paul Stamets, philosopher Derrick Jensen, visionary activist astrologer Caroline Casey, Canadian environmental activist David Suzuki and many other luminaries whose passion is planetary health.
In recent years, we have been able to keep our carbon footprint smaller and travel only to Sugar House. Again this November, Westminster College will host a rebroadcast of the October national conference’s 15 plenary speakers, flanked by breakout sessions with social and ecological innovators from our own community. This year’s local gathering also includes a public keynote with author Charles Bowden and archivist Molly Molloy, who have been chronicling the violence and social breakdown of Juarez, Mexico. Read on for more info on this year’s breakout sessions and presenters.
by Steve Bhaerman
Same problem, same solution.
There is nothing funny about oil hemorrhaging in the Gulf of Mexico, or blood flowing in the Mediterranean—just the sad joke that we humans are largely the cause of our own suffering. And we are largely clueless as to how and why. For millennia, we have been under the spell of the lowest common dominator, the notion that it’s a you-or-me world, that to survive we must dominate or be dominated. Never mind that at the root of every religion and ethical system is some version of the Golden Rule. We have as a species chosen to apply this law selectively to those in our own family, tribe or nation. When we feel threatened—not necessarily are threatened, but feel threatened—we very easily adopt a conveniently modified version of the rule: “Doo-doo unto others before they can doo-doo unto you.”
by Katherine Pioli
The urban homestead of Jonathan and Julie Krausert.Jonathan and Julie Krausert's house is hard to miss. Nestled deep inside Rose Park, surrounded by simple modern red brick homes with standard-issue lawns, the Krausert house is a gardener's masterpiece. The front yard is a puzzle of garden plots fitted together with flagstone paths. Life vibrates from the ground up, even in these final days of winter when we visit. Seven medium-sized fruit trees call this yard their home, surrounded by a spread of tiny green leaves—three kinds of oregano, basil, mint and thyme. Onion greens join the push upward through the leaf litter mulch. Rosemary, currants and strawberries also make the list of edibles; and this is just the front yard.
by Shane Farver
Both UTA and the Utah State Legislature could make free public transit on red-air days a reality—but so far, neither wants to pony up the dough.
Free transit fare on red air days is an idea that floats around in the smog here, but never quite solidifies. During the 2008 legislative session, Rep. Wayne Harper, R-West Jordan, introduced a bill that would have reduced transit fare by 50% on yellow air days and made it free on red air days. The bill didn't address FrontRunner because it wasn't operational at the time. However, it did affect buses and TRAX, Harper says. But the bill never made it out of committee. Not surprisingly, one of the strongest opponents to it was the Utah Transit Authority, the folks who operate mass transit along the Wasatch Front.
by Benjamin R. Bombard
Like it or not, the automobile is central to the American way of life, and so is the promise of inexpensive gas. But without government subsidies and other economic trickeries, the price at the pump is a pipe-dream.
If you're like most Americans, your visits to the gas station to fill your vehicle's tank are workaday, and your behavior nearly robotic: Roll up, pop the gas cap, swipe your card, pull up on that black handle and watch the numbers on the pump tick away your hard-earned money. That is until the price per gallon starts climbing, as commonly happens every summer—then we really start paying attention.
by Jean Arnold
It's time to get loud and clear on climate change. Enviro activist groups, such as 350.org, hope to make their point this October with an international day of action.
Climate crisis is the most urgent issue facing the planet today. Urgent, because we have a tiny window of opportunity to reduce heat trapping emissions before the effects of climate change become catastrophic and irreversible. This is what the world’s best climate scientists say. Further, the climate is changing faster than even they anticipated. Millions of people around the world face starvation and dislocation if nothing is done. Especially hard-hit will be people of color, the poorest countries, the island nations and those in the global south.