The New, Improved American Right

I was re-reading a paper I wrote ten years ago and found it all too relevant to what we’ve been experiencing for the past year in America culminating, for the moment, in the catastrophe that was Election Day here.  You may find it helps to explain a few things.

The epigraph for my master’s thesis on the “The Underlying Psychology of Violent Political Conflict” was from Erik Erikson:  “There is no time left in which to be as naïve historically as, in all past history, the historians have been psychologically.  (Childhood and Society, p. 403.)  Let’s all of us, activists, political scientists, everyday decent people, not be so naïve about what just happened and what’s going to happen all too soon.

Here is my paper from the Fall 2006 edition of the “Journal of Psychohistory.”  (Read the pdf here if that’s easier.) Continue reading


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Catastrophe

I’ve been offline for a long time, nearly a year, I know.  (Working on a new book and a few other impediments got in the way.)  But yesterday’s election makes me want to record my few thoughts here.

I think yesterday’s events are equivalent, probably worse, than those of September 11, 2001 or November 22, 1963 or December 7, 1941.  It looks and feels that violent.  I remember September 11th vividly.  We were right on top of it.  I also remember JFK’s assassination and the grim weekend that followed.  I wasn’t yet born when Pearl Harbor was attacked but I’ve been to the National Monument and got a sense of the scope of the disaster. Continue reading


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Sabbatical

It looks like it’s time to take a break.  I’ve been blogging on climate change, sustainability, etc. since March 5th, 2007 when I did my first post for the Foreign Policy Association, the last for them more than five years and 750+ posts later, and then nearly 140 here since June of 2012.  I’ll be back but it looks like I’m taking the summer off.


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The New Yorker Gets One Wrong

Franzen graphicWhat can you say about a publication, the venerable “New Yorker,” that has brought us writers the likes of Rachel Carson, Bill McKibben and Betsy Kolbert?  Easy:  They’ve got their environmental worldview very nicely in order.  But nobody’s perfect, so the editors responsible for accepting a recent essay, questionable (to be kind) in its logic and facts, by the novelist Jonathan Franzen, are to be forgiven.

There was, in fact, another reasonably bone-headed essay on the environmental movement from another distinguished writer, Nicholas Lemann, a couple of years ago that elicited responses from some worthy environmental leaders in whose company I found myself when the magazine printed my letter alongside theirs. Continue reading


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“Men and Nature”

men and nature -fdrWe were down in Washington this past weekend for a book party. On Saturday we did some sightseeing and went to the FDR Memorial. It is in a lovely spot, on the far side of the Tidal Basin from the Mall and not far from the Jefferson Memorial. This quote, from a “Message to Congress on the Use of Our National Resources” from January 24, 1935 struck me as pretty compelling. Continue reading


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The Power of We

This is international Blog Action Day and the theme, the Power of We, is especially applicable to environmental action and sustainability.  The idea of a “power” in mathematics means that you increase something’s value – but exponentially.  So, for example, 33, is not just three times three, but it is three times three, three times.  3 x 3 = 9 x 3 = 27.

That’s, in a very real sense, what you get with environmental action.  Continue reading


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Russell Train – “Towering Figure”

“Russ Train was a towering figure in conservation for more than half a century,” said Jim Leape, Director General of WWF International.  But Train was not only a leading figure in international conservation efforts, he was also a seminal figure in efforts to bring environmental protection to the forefront of policy making, not only in the United States but throughout the international community. Continue reading


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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.


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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


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