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Pacific Garbage Patch Video

A photographic documentary about the effect of plastic on an isolated bird population in the Pacific.

The MIDWAY film project is a powerful visual journey into the heart of an astonishingly symbolic environmental tragedy. On one of the remotest islands on our planet, tens of thousands of baby albatrosses lie dead on the ground, their bodies filled with plastic from the Pacific Garbage Patch. Returning to the island over several years, our team is witnessing the cycles of life and death of these birds as a multi-layered metaphor for our times. With photographer Chris Jordan as our guide, we walk through the fire of horror and grief, facing the immensity of this tragedy—and our own complicity—head on. And in this process, we find an unexpected route to a transformational experience of beauty, acceptance, and understanding.

We frame our story in the vividly gorgeous language of state-of-the-art high-definition digital cinematography, surrounded by millions of live birds in one of the world’s most beautiful natural sanctuaries. The viewer will experience stunning juxtapositions of beauty and horror, destruction and renewal, grief and joy, birth and death, coming out the other side with their heart broken open and their worldview shifted. Stepping outside the stylistic templates of traditional environmental or documentary films, MIDWAY will take viewers on a guided tour into the depths of their own spirits, delivering a profound message of reverence and love that is already reaching an audience of tens of millions of people around the world.

Please go to midwayfilm.com for more information.

“Eaarth” Book Review by Bill Mckibben

Eaarth: Making a Life on a Hot New Planet
by Bill McKibben
Review by John Atcheson

You had to wonder when it would happen.  That moment when someone would take us from talk of how to prevent climate change to acknowledging that it was here already, here to stay, and that it had — and would continue — to irrevocably foreclose on many of the opportunities humanity has taken for granted for millennia.

Figures it would be Bill McKibben. His first book, The End of Nature was one of the earliest to introduce global warming into popular culture. His latest book, Eaarth: Making a Life on a Hot New Planet, lays out our grim new reality relentlessly (excerpt here). Yet it is not, fundamentally, a pessimistic book.

McKibben’s premise, that we’re already on a new and different planet just as surely as if we’d boarded a spaceship en masse and arrived at a new world, is presented convincingly.

This new world is less friendly, less accommodating, less commodious, just when we needed the old Earth to be more benign.

If you are a regular reader of Climateprogress, you already know we’re now inhabiting an alien place but McKibben’s book is still a must read.

For one thing, he has a knack for expressing complex scientific issues in ways that are accessible to the general public, often in sound bites, and in the age of Twitter this is increasingly the lingua franca of social discourse and cultural exchange – for good or ill.

Here are a few gems:

We’re running Genesis backward, decreating.

Decreating.  My spell check wants to reject that word, yet it is too apt to discard.  It is precisely what we’re engaged in.

Or take this example of ultimate irony McKibben uses with great skill to drive home how lemming-like our behavior has been on our trip to Planet Eaarth.  It appeared in Australian papers back in June of 2009:

New construction plans for the World’s largest coal export facility had been quietly altered to raise the structure two or three meters for fear of rising sea levels.

And yes, it’s true that lemmings don’t actually commit mass suicide, but some myths are too valuable to discard – besides, it appears that people do.

In describing how we’ve completely overshot any hope of preserving the old Earth, McKibben almost makes this stuff funny:

We have, in short, goosed our economy with one jolt of Viagra after another, anything to avoid facing the fact that our reproductive days were passed, and hence constant and unrelenting thrust was no longer so necessary.  (I suspect global warming is the planetary equivalent of the dread “erection lasting more than four hours” that we’re warned about “¦)

Or take this passage, where he skillfully lampoons the whole consumer excess that brought us to Eaarth when he notes the effect of $4.00 a gallon gas:

Suddenly, in fact, you felt a little less confident that you were an Explorer, a Navigator, a Forrester, a Mountaineer, a Scout,  a Tracker, a Trooper, a Wrangler, a Pathfinder, a Trailblazer. You all of a sudden were in Kansas or maybe in New Rochelle – not Durango, or Tahoe, or Denali, or the Yukon. Discovery and Escape and Excursion suddenly seemed less important than the buzz-killing fact that it took a hundred bucks to fill the tank.

Yes, he actually entertains us while mapping out our collective trip to perdition. No mean feat.

He holds out hope for a world that is richer in some ways than the one we left behind.  A world where community matters, where the scale is manageable, and where connections between people and the land are stronger, if less global.  A world, McKibben points out, that is not like Freidman’s Hot, Flat and Crowded. The time when we could grow green and maintain and expand our current globalized consumer economy came and went, according to McKibben.  On the less commodious Eaarth, the investments to do so are simply too staggering; the paucity of natural capital upon which to do it, too scant; and the share of capital spent just coping with what we’ve wrought, too high.

To a lot of global warming luminaries his message will feel like a cold mackerel slapped across their collective cheek.  Growth is civilization’s drug of choice, and like any addict, we will fight with tooth and claw to keep partaking of it.

But McKibben makes his case convincingly.  He invokes the much maligned  Limits to Growth and the Club of Rome (which, it turns out wasn’t wrong in its prognostications, merely off by a couple of decades), Jared Diamond’s Collapse and the relentless litany of facts that describe the detritus of the old Earth that is even now washing up on our shores.
But McKibben doesn’t advocate obsessing on our collapse – which he says gives us only two choices: “Either you’ve got your fingers stuck firmly in your ears or you’re down in the basement oiling your guns” – rather he calls on us “”¦ to choose, instead, to manage our descent.”  To “”¦ aim for a relatively graceful decline” (emphasis is McKibben’s).

While McKibben is standing on firm ground for most of Eaarth, he does make one misstep.  In recommending a world that is more local — in which provision of food, energy, raw materials and goods are distributed, not centralized — McKibben maintains that political power must be similarly dispersed.  He suggests that our institutions should be scaled to our technologies.  Yet managing a “graceful decline” or even a steady state economy will be the greatest collective challenge humanity has ever taken, and it is one we must take together. To presume that the actions of thousands of small entities can effect such a change — or that we can count on every one of them to do it — is to ignore most of human history.  Any strategy that invests most of the responsibility for change to a bunch of individual and essentially autonomous entities runs smack into Hardin’s Tragedy of the Commons.

If humanity is to make a transition as profound as McKibben says we must, then we need even stronger institutions at both the national and international level.

The world, including many who have been tireless advocates of climate action, will likely reject McKibben’s diagnosis and his prescription — hoping against hope that we can return to Earth and have what we’ve always had by slapping a green veneer over the massive consumption machine that is our contemporary economy. But they fool only themselves. We are now on planet Eaarth, and much of out talent, capital and time will be spent coping with this harsher, less forgiving new world.

Regular CP book reviewer John Atcheson, has more than 30 years in energy and the environment with government, private industry, and the nation’s leading think tanks.  He is working on his own novel about climate change.

Purchase this book HERE

The Day-Timers Group

The Day-Timers is a new group being formed of senior men who are interested in gathering monthly to hang out, socialize, shoot the breeze and talk shop.
We’ll meet over a meal to talk about issues we have in common, discuss current events and/or tell jokes, among many possibilities.

We will meet the 3rd Tuesday of each month at 11:30 am, at the Encinitas Round Table Restaurant, 1321 Encinitas Blvd. (at El Camino Real, near Sprouts). The restaurant features all-you-can-eat pizza and salad bar for $6.99. The first gathering will be Tues., Jan 20, 2015. Come join us!

Call Ben Platnik for more information. 619-987-5324 (cell);or 858-794-5324 (home).

Volunteer at CRC Dec. 18-21

Thanks to all UUFSD members who volunteered at
Community Resource Center’s Holiday Baskets program last Sunday!

CRC reached out again to let us know they’re actively looking for volunteers THIS Thursday through Sunday (Dec. 18-21) during their distribution days at the Del Mar fairgrounds. If you’re interested, please call the CRC office at 760-753-1156, email Sara Hunt at shunt@crcncc.org, or simply sign up via VolunteerSpot here: http://vols.pt/xE8XBf where you can view available dates/times.

CRC can’t make Holiday Baskets happen without volunteers, and this year they have over 1,500 families to support with food, warm clothes, blankets, and toys. Thanks so much for your help!

UUFSD Joins Commit2Respond!

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Climate Action & Environmental Justice at UUFSD

In 2015, UUs everywhere are being asked to be a part of Commit2Respond, which will be the focus of the Standing on the Side of Love campaign. Commit2Respond was inspired in large part by the success of Thirty Days of Love, and the question: What if we can bring together the UUSC, UUA, and UUs all over the country and our partners to work on one justice issue? Climate justice is already affecting marginalized people all over the globe, and with the Commit2Respond initiative we will stand on the side of love with all those affected. We invite you to embrace this new program with open arms as it, too, has the potential to change hearts.

The campaign will begin on March 22, World Water Day, and extend until April 22, Earth Day.

The UUFSD CAEJ Task Force is planning on hosting a series of talks and events leading up to and through the 30 days of Commit2Resond. These events are designed to inform, engage and educate the Fellowship and the larger community about the nature of the challenge that confronts us, and actions we can take to address them.

View our new Green Reading List containing book reviews, links to blogs and climate-related books and novels. The CAEJ Task Force is working with the Dream Builder’s Task Force to assure that our capital improvements will be sustainably designed and use best practices for energy and water conservation. We are also investigating whether UUFSD should participate in UUA’s Green Sanctuary program.

Climate change is a moral and ethical issue, not simply a scientific fact. Indeed, it is the moral issue of our times. What we do – or don’t do – in this generation, will shape the future for thousands of years to come. Humanity – for good or ill – has become a force of nature, fully equivalent to natural cycles. How we respond to this new status will determine what kind of world we bequeath our children and the generations that follow.

If you’re interested in joining the Task Force, contact Scott Thatcher or John Atcheson.