Sunday, August 25, 2019

Trump: Spiritual Teacher in Disguise

                                                                                                 written 18 August 2019
                                                                                                  posted 25 August 2019

            The challenge of unity perspective is the totality of inclusion: it's all in, no exceptions.  So how do I deal with Donald Trump as president?  In unity, we are one, and he and I arise out of the same creative, loving potential.  In the world, he seems the antithesis of everything I believe: working to destroy what I feel is the best part of our country.  A shift in perspective is required.  I recently discovered the writing of Patricia Pearce, excerpted here. 
            "With this presidency you may feel you are in the midst of a nightmare.  All dreams come in the interest of health and wholeness, including nightmares, which bring information so crucial and urgent that they scare us to get our attention. This nightmare offers us exactly what we need at this precise moment to grow and evolve as a species.  But first we have to be willing to look at what is happening beneath the contentious headlines to discover the deeper wisdom being offered us."
            "On center stage stands the character of Donald Trump.  If you take him at the literal level you may see him as an arch villain bringing out the worst in us.  But dreams don’t operate at the literal level.  They operate at the symbolic and metaphorical level.   They pretty much always turn the tables on what we assume to be true."
            "How is Donald Trump playing the role of a spiritual teacher?  First and foremost, spiritual teachers help us see and transcend ego, enabling us to shed the ego’s illusions so that we can awaken to the truth of oneness and our infinite nature."
            "The character of Donald Trump is showing me in unmistakable terms what ego looks like.  Although Reality is the complete oneness of Love, the ego is constantly bombarding me with fake news: separateness is real. This fake news creates an illusory world of fear, division, domination, and death.  To witness ego in such a caricatured form, my spiritual teacher is helping me see how ego seeks attention, believes that greatness rests on wealth, fame, and the ability to dominate, and perceives itself to be greater than others.  This gives me the tools I need to detect these same tendencies within myself so that I can begin to free myself from them, and shows me where it will inevitably lead me: into animosity, division, blame, exploitation, violence, suffering." 
            "Do I want ego sitting in the Oval Office of my own executive function? Only ego attacks.  If I allow myself to be duped into attacking my spiritual teacher and his followers with anger, ridicule, hatred, or blame, I have installed ego in my own Oval Office.  I am choosing to keep alive the fallacy of separateness and ensuring that the nightmare continues.  But if I can see through my teacher’s theatrical ego-charade to see the divine radiant Being within, concealed even from himself, then I will have learned what this nightmare has come to show me.  The fallacy of separateness fades away and the nightmare dissolves."
            "This nightmare isn’t just your personal dream, nor mine.  This is a national nightmare, a global nightmare, a collective dream.  The United States has long been the Donald Trump of nations, believing we are exceptional, and that give us the right to call the shots in all world affairs.  Is it any wonder that such bravado would evoke attack from others who are caught up in the ego’s illusory world of hatred, division, and violence?"
            "But what might happen if we were suddenly to realize that we are collectively under an egoic spell?  What if it suddenly dawned on us that only in dreams does greatness reside in riches and military might?  What if we suddenly woke up to the truth that our greatness lies in our inherent capacity to embody and express the Reality of Love?  Our collective dream would change in the twinkling of an eye.  We would understand that we are on this planet as an interdependent community of equals."
            Read the full article at:
            As we eliminate the egoic tyrant within ourselves, we reduce the support for the egoic tyrant currently in the White House.  That is the power of unity.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Investing In Solar Backup

                                                                                                 written 11 August 2019
                                                                                             published 18 August 2019
            We are currently killing the planet to create a few more billionaires.  If human civilization is to survive, we will have to change directions, and prioritize a livable planet above all else. Among other things, we must restructure our power system.  
            Since commercial electricity began, our civilization has grown to expect unlimited power at all times.  PG&E's proposed power shut downs, as many as 80 days a fire season, are a major disruption.   Almost all businesses will be closed, costing $1.7M per day, $136M annually in the worst-case scenario.  A power shut down will put most people out of work, risk the medically fragile, disrupt communications, and challenge our ability to feed ourselves.  Some people have bought portable generators for their homes, which are cost effective in the short run, but a noisy, polluting, and potentially hazardous step backwards as a community.  
            The 21st century habitable planet power grid will use renewable power, with distributed collection and distributed storage.  The grid will allow communities to import power from out of the area, without requiring every house or business to be totally self-sufficient. But, each house will have a small micro-grid, with the ability to collect and store enough ambient energy to power critical needs in an emergency.  The minimum basics needs are an energy efficient refrigerator, some LED lights, internet and phone communication, and essential medical hardware.  
            A system with 900 watts of collection, 2 kilowatt hours (Kwhrs) of storage, and a 2 kilowatt (Kw) inverter able to keep the batteries charged when the grid is functioning, would power all the above plus a small appliance and a washing machine, and cost about $10K for parts and labor (information and cost estimates come from conversation with a Real Goods solar technician).
            If the City were to install such a system in all 6,500 homes in Ukiah, it would cost $65M, less than the business losses PG&E are creating.  But these 6,500 systems, each with 900 watts of collectors, would produce an average of 30 megawatt hours (Mwhrs) a day of renewable power for the lifetime of the equipment.  Ukiah currently imports about 300 Mwhrs every day, of which 70% is green. That means that 90 Mwhrs a day are produced by brown power.  By state law, Ukiah has to use 100% green energy by 2045.  By installing these small battery backup renewable systems in every house, we accomplish 1/3 of that goal while becoming power resilient.
            This is expensive power compared to what we use right now.  30 Mwhrs a day at the residential rate of $0.13/Kwhr generates $1.45M/yr, which would take decades to pay back the original investment.  But this ignores the added value that everyone would be able to survive unlimited power outages without distress, while avoiding toasting off the planet.  Further, this power investment would generate numerous good paying local jobs.  These significant values are hard to fiscally quantify, but worth considering.
            If we installed larger systems in every home, the number are better.  Online, you can buy a system for $16K, with 4 Kw of collectors, and 19 Kwhrs of storage.  This $104M investment would generate 133 Mwhrs a day, accomplishing the mandated shift to 100% renewable, and pay back the principle in 16 years.
            Another option is small collective systems, where each house has a minimal battery backup, but the power comes from larger neighborhood collective arrays. This would deal with the issue that not every house has good solar exposure. 
            There are several mobile home parks in Ukiah, many occupied by seniors.  Each park has a common building, which could have a micro-grid to supply cooling, recharging capacity, and even cooking facilities for the park residents.
            All businesses should have micro-grids installed to allow most normal functions during a power down, without depending on fossil fuel generators. Currently only 10 businesses are prepared to be open in Ukiah, and none of them are gas stations.  Costco may be able to pump gas, but they only sell to members.
            Intermittent grid power is going to become more common as the climate continues to deteriorate.  Money is not the problem.  If our intention is to create a healthy planet for our kids, the issue is how we choose to invest our wealth.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

When The Ignorant Hold Power

                                                                                                 written 4 August 2019
                                                                                           published 11 August 2019
            Ebola, a hemorrhagic fever virus, was first identified in 1976 in Central African. The current outbreak began in rural Democratic Republic of Congo last year, and is now the largest ever, with more than 2,500 infected, and 1,700 dead.  Though the outbreak grew slowly while in the rural areas, it reached the city of Goma last month, population one million, with international air connections.  
            Ebola is transmitted through contact with contaminated body fluids, but infected people can be symptom free for weeks before becoming contagious.  Ebola can be contained by isolating infected individuals and all their contacts.  Trial vaccines seem effective when given in a timely manner.  Disposal of the dead must insure no further contact with healthy individuals.  Unfortunately, these measures are compromised by ongoing regional wars and widespread criminal activity displacing large populations in an area with limited access and high poverty.  Systems for monitoring and housing sick people are underfunded and understaffed, thus easily overwhelmed.  The outbreak in 2016 ended because of massive international aid.  The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the current outbreak a "public health emergency of international concern".
            Myths about Ebola, based on ignorance and superstition, are spread for local political and cultural advantage.  "Ebola is not real, but fake news made up by the government to keep people from voting".  "Ebola is spread by NGO's and health workers for financial gain".  "Governments made up Ebola to deflect attention from scandals or to depopulate regions". None of these anti-science myths are true, but people believe them, making treatment harder, increasing the likelihood the disease will expand. Ebola doesn't care what you believe.
            It is easy to discount the Ebola outbreak.  It's happening a long way from here, the impact seems fairly small, and the myths and superstitions sound foolish.  But we have the same dynamic happening with the growing climate crisis. 
            It seems far away, decades in the future, if anything happens at all.  Sea level rise and temperature increases are pretty small so far, a matter of a few inches, and a little over 1°C.  Even the myths are the same.  "Climate change is a hoax, fake news".  "It is the product of scientists looking to keep their grant money flowing".  "Climate change is used to destroy working class jobs".  "Renewable energy is un-American and will kill the economy".   This anti-science ignorance dominates the Republican party, delaying efforts to respond, increasing the cost of response, and risking near term human extinction. The climate doesn't care what you believe.  
            As the WHO declared a health emergency, the IPCC and scientists around the world are declaring a climate emergency.  Last week Professor José Javier Hernández Ayala, Director of the Climate Research Center at Sonoma State University wrote an open letter to state and local leaders, excerpted here.
            "If we don’t want to witness the end of organized civilization as we know it, we must act now.  I urge local, state and federal/national policymakers to accept the scientific consensus and the empirical reality that climate change is impacting us now.  I ask policymakers at all levels to issue official climate disaster state of emergency executive orders to make all resources available to deal with the climate change crisis."
            "I urge our governments to develop emergency measures that would allow us to prepare all of the infrastructure and essential sustaining systems in our communities for the impacts of climate change.  If we take bold action now, we can employ every able person in our communities in the 100% renewable energy transformation, infrastructure resiliency efforts and environmental restoration measures that would allow us to be better prepared to cope with climate change impacts."
            "In order for all of this to happen, policymakers need to accept one very important fact, we cannot continue with our current unsustainable economic activities that view the Earth as merely a collection of resources to be exploited in eternity for the sake of never-ending economic growth and wealth accumulation.  If we want to avoid the worst of the very likely climate apocalypse on our horizon, we must act now."
            Just because those in power are ignorant doesn't mean we have to be ignorant.  If our leaders refuse to lead, we must replace them.  We owe this to our grandchildren.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

America's Choice: Fascism Or Socialism

                                                                                                  written 28 July 2019
                                                                                           published 4 August 2019
            Einstein said, "Either everything is sacred, or nothing is": a unity perspective. America's democracy is an effort to create a society founded on the understanding that ALL people have value, with rights of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness, not just the wealthy few.  This is the core of socialism, a value system that puts people before profits: prioritizing collective benefit over exclusive gain. Firefighters, first responders, public roads, water and sewer systems, libraries and schools, Medicare and Social Security are familiar socialist structures that help make America a functioning democracy.
            Fascism is the governmental alternative to democracy: using government power for the exclusive gain of corporations and the very wealthy, valuing profits over people.  Capitalists have always admired fascism.  Many American corporations had dealings with Hitler's Germany right up to Pearl Harbor, and some, through subterfuge, continued throughout the war.  
            Trump has been blatant about his preference for big business, unfettered by facts, law, ethic, honor, or social consideration, and uses the presidency for personal brand enrichment.  He refuses to release his tax returns, which would show economic conflicts of interest and the potential for extortion by overseas investors.  Instead of divesting from his businesses, he turned control of his 500 corporations over to his kids, two of whom are unconfirmed presidential advisors, not vetted for security clearances.  His original cabinet, and all their replacements, have been business leaders or lobbyists, running agencies that regulate their own industries. They were selected BECAUSE of their conflict of interest.  Several advisors have already been convicted of unregistered lobbying for foreign governments for personal gain.
            President Trump's recent attacks on four Congresswomen are divisive, racist and misogynistic, designed to agitate his voter base, nostalgic for an era when white Christian men ruled America.  But Trump's supporters are being conned by a pro.  The billionaire class is the power behind Trump, and his policies are designed for their benefit at the expense of regular people. Republicans use voter restrictions and gerrymandering to prevent fair elections, and welcomed foreign election interference, assaulting the foundation of our democracy.  By branding Democrats as "socialists", a term demonized by capitalists, they hope to scare people, distracting them from the destruction of our democracy by rising fascism. 
            Trump has delivered three major campaign promises for his wealthy supporters. The first was a massive tax cut for the elite, impoverishing social programs, and generating a deficit of one trillion dollars this year alone.  The second is stacking the court system, especially the Supreme Court, with radical conservative judges that will shape the country for decades.  This looks like a win for the religious right trying to kill abortion, but these judges also prioritize the value of corporations over people: a core fascist principle.  The third is destruction of regulatory structures to increase corporate profits while impoverishing everyone else.
            Regulations passed after spectacular greed in the financial sector crashed the economic in 2007, making millions homeless, have all been repealed by Trump. Regulations established after corporate cost cutting created the 2010 environmental disaster of the Deepwater Horizon oil well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico have been repealed by Trump.  
            The EPA was created to protect the environment from corporate excess.  Trump has gutted the agency, installing corporate lobbyists and former executives.  To increase corporate profit, the EPA allows more poisoning of water by waste from coal and mining.  It recently approved chlorpyrifos, a brain damaging pesticide, for spraying on fruits and vegetables.  Despite increasing economic costs of climate change impact and a growing international awareness of a climate emergency, the EPA denies the reality of climate change and has reduced funding further scientific investigation. 
             To help an economically failing nuclear industry, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission now allows corporations to conduct a reduced number of reactor self-inspections, even though this aging fleet is past it's design life and more prone to catastrophic accidents.
            Poisoning the planet for the short-term profit of a few is a long standing economic pattern, but from a unity perspective, it is suicidal insanity, and contrary to our democratic heritage.  We still have a choice.  We still have options.  Think about the fate of our grandchildren.  Where do you stand?  Corporate profits or a healthy planet?  Fascism or Socialism?