Mesa Verde

I just wanted to check in from the road.  We’ve been out and about in the American West.  Some pretty country, to say the least:  Garden of the Gods and Pike’s Peak in Colorado, Santa Fe in New Mexico, and we’re in Mesa Verde National Park now.  That’s the view from our patio, looking west toward the Four Corners.  Being on vacation, I haven’t had a lot of time to report on things.  I’ll certainly write about some of all this when I’m back, but for now, suffice it to say, this is a beautiful part of the United States and one agency, the National Park Service, is doing a great job.  We’re heading up the road to two more national parks in the next few days:  Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP then Rocky Mountain NP.

Here’s a shot I took of Long House at Mesa Verde.

“Monoculture” at Our World 2.0

Here’s a happy circumstance:  The very good folks at Our World 2.0, one of the best web magazines going, produced by the United Nations University Media Centre, have seen fit to re-post my article from last week on the corn monoculture in the US.  I’m pretty pleased about it.  Go over to Our World 2.0 and see the rest of the great material they’ve got going on food, agriculture, climate, biodiversity and other essential subjects.



By monoculture, I don’t just mean the production of one crop over vast quantities of land, with all the resultant havoc that that plays on the soil, water, native flora and fauna, and, to be perfectly clear, on the climate system, but I also mean the monomania that is incarnate in Big Ag.  Monomania is a serious disorder, characterized by, according to my dictionary, “excessive concentration on a single object or idea.”  In the case of  much of American farming, that single object is the production of as much corn as possible at the greatest possible return on investment.  The monomania of corn production utterly disregards economic, environmental and social concerns.  The word itself is, to be sure, old-fashioned, but it is nevertheless manifest in how modern society goes about the business of growing our food, feed and, most wastefully of all, our fuel. Continue reading

All You Need Is Like

The Beatles said all you need is love.  But, at the rate we’re going, the English language will soon consist of but one word.  You guessed it:  like.  I know this does not entirely pertain to the subject of this blog which is largely about sustainability.  But it does not seem to me that normal discourse in our language is going to be sustainable if like continues to metastasize in daily speech.  It is ubiquitous in speech with everyone from age five to age fifty.  Sometimes I am hearing it as virtually every other word.  I never travel on public transportation anymore without my like protector:  a little iPod.  I caution my students that, although I want our discussions to be relaxed, I do not want them to be casual.  Speech, it has always seemed to me, requires thoughtfulness, mindfulness.  (Silly me.) Continue reading

“High Noon”

The cover from this week’s New Yorker speaks for itself.  It is titled High Noon.  The superb Ian Falconer has said quite a bit in this poignant rendering.  For more on the parlous state of the Arctic, see this on sea ice loss from Climate Central and this from the BBC on Greenland’s startling recent ice surface melt.