Monday, December 31, 2012

Seven Lessons of 2012

7) Attacks by social conservatives and religious fanatics on sexual freedoms, denigration of sexual minorities can be smacked down - but in the case of ballot measures it takes hard work and a willingness to start initially awkward conversations with large numbers of potential voters.

In Minnesota, a cynically motivated constitutional amendment to enshrine discrimination against gays in the state constitution was rejected by voters. The originators of the amendment put before voters hoped to mobilize conservative voters.

Disgraced former MN GOP Vice Chair and state senate staffer Michael Brodkorb said Republicans were concerned about firing up voters for the 2012 elections, and discussed a variety of possible amendments before settling on a measure that would ban same-sex marriage.

"In the context of all of these constitutional amendments, turnout and rallying the conservative base... was a constant theme of discussion"

The constitutional amendment was defeated in MN by a massive volunteer effort making lots of personal, one on one conversations that humanized a traditionally maligned population. The framing and psychology was important and shifted the narrative from religious edicts to the common human desire for love and partnership that even religioous, conservative heterosexual couples could identify with:

In Los Angeles County a curious question was place on the ballot, and that's now a subject for an investigative documentary I am seeking funding for through Kickstarter: Why was Measure B - Requiring Condoms in Porn - on the Ballot in 2012?

It occurs to me, after my experience volunteering on the successful Vote No campaigns in Minnesota, that a similar strategy could be employed to undo the damages of the bizarre political scapegoating and exploitation of pornstars in the 2012 election

Rush Limbaugh's loss of numerous sponsors after his attacks on Sandra Fluke in March 2012 was another example of this troubling strategy of the GOP and social conservatives and an encouraging, just public response.

6) War and the corruption of the military industrial complex impairs our ability to deal with other threats to the country. Globally and domestically increasing militarization prevents the full fruition of democracy and civilization, causing us to ignore growing threats to all of humanity - disease, pollution, hunger, climate change and systems failures. Fears of terrorism and any hint of challenges to the obvious and unquestioned superiority of American military forces are used to erode the freedoms the military supposedly protects in its involvement in unceasing foreign occupations, drone strikes and other operations. American arms exports are used as an excuse to quietly redeploy US forces to Iraq... and cozy up to human rights violators around the world. The Petraeus sex scandal opens the door to apparently corrupt CENTCOM and special forces culture in Florida. The US lead military regime change in Libya was ultimately destabilizing and lead to he first death of a US Ambassador in many decades.

5) High (native, not invasive) plant diversity is needed to maintain ecosystem services and ongoing mass extinction threatens humanity.

Lousewort and bumblebee

Habitat loss and degradation (for both wildlife and traditional human societies) continues at a terrible pace. Few leaders in politics or the media talk about it. The loss of biodiversity and traditional knowledge related to the natural world is a real and permanent loss of true, durable wealth or "natural capital". Measurement of the wealth of nations and accurate predictions of their sustainability rely today more on measures of inclusive wealth, natural capital, human capital produced capital instead of income or GDP

In a recent report in "Science" magazine, "Plant Species Richness and Ecosystem Multifunctionality in Global Drylands" by researcher Fernando T. Maestre these statements are made:

"Arid, semi-arid, and dry-subhumid ecosystems (called hereafter “drylands”) constitute some of the largest terrestrial biomes, collectively covering 41% of Earth’s land surface and supporting over 38% of the global human population... These ecosystems are also highly vulnerable to global environmental change and desertification" "the quality and quantity of ecosystem services depend largely on ecosystem functions" "increased plant species richness may enhance the services provided by dryland ecosystems" "such richness may be particularly important for maintaining ecosystem functions linked to carbon and nitrogen cycling, which sustain carbon sequestration and soil fertility. Because land degradation is often accompanied by the loss of soil fertility, plant species richness may also promote ecosystem resistance to desertification." "The consistent effects of species richness on multifunctionality over and above those of climate and of abiotic factors highlight the importance of plant biodiversity as a driver of multifunctionality in drylands." "The positive relationship between species richness and multifunctionality found is consistent with experimental results obtained in temperate grasslands and in microbial, biological soil crust, and aquatic communities. Collectively, these results suggest that the correlation between species richness and multifunctionality may be a general pattern in nature that reflects a cause-and-effect linkage."

The biodiversity crisis is worse than climate change and a new UN body similar to the IPCC has come into being to address it, the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

4) Occupy-inspired direct democracy and direct action remain essential. The partisan deadlock and our irresponsible representatives in D.C. - unable to complete the work of the 112th Congress - show a continuing need to create new, nongovernmental methods/processes for people to meet, agree and work to solve their collective problems with local materials at the neighborhood and village level.

3) Last summer's severe US drought shows need to change agriculture. We must mobilize to ensure food security for humans has higher priority than feeds for livestock and industrial process (So end corn & ethanol subsidies!)

2) Hurricane Sandy showed vulnerability of many of the internet's biggest ISPs and exchanges - as well as the vulnerability of people who reside in densely populated coastal areas - to rising sea-level and extreme weather caused by climate change. People and high technology jobs will have to migrate inland.

1) Reversing Citizens United must be the number one priority of our elected leaders in 2013. Without reasonable constraints on electioneering spending by corporations and the 1% - tackling the critical issues outlined above is not possible.

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