!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN"> Rolla Peace Newsletter, September 1, 2015

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Rolla Peace News

September 1, 2015

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Dear Friends:

          In this newsletter is:

1. NOON VIGIL FOR PEACE: THIS WEEK, THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2015
2. THE CHOICE POINT IS HERE
3. THE MISFIT MATHEMATICIAN (Tom's column, http://tomsager.org)
          a) More on Peter Wadhams
          b) Dear Ralph (An Open Letter to Ralph Nader)
          c) Poetry

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1. NOON VIGIL FOR PEACE: THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2015

We vigil for peace in front of the Rolla Post Office THIS THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2015, (and all subsequent Thursdays until peace is established) from Noon to 1:00 PM. Please try to join us. The temperature is predicted to be in the 80s. If you do not feel comfortable standing with us in front of the Post Office, please consider driving by and showing your support for our message by honking your horn and flashing a peace sign.

2. THE CHOICE POINT IS HERE

Chris Hedges' article makes that very clear. On every level, the world is on the brink of descent into chaos. Here in the United States, and to an extent, the other “developed” nations, all but the very poor are somewhat isolated from the reality the rest of the world is facing. Lulled by television, sports spectacles, cheap food and electronic toys, most of us don't know the desperation and hopelessness that is the daily fare of ordinary citizens in countries like Iraq, Yemen, Bangladesh, Libya, Afghanistan, etc. And we don't want to. Most of us like the status quo just fine; we have plenty of food to eat, cars to take us where we want to go, fossil fuels to power them and all our gadgets, and lots and lots of “entertainment.”

But this life is an illusion, and reality is about to come crashing in. Governments are going bankrupt right and left — including ours, if it weren't for the fact that the Federal Reserve can manufacture dollars out of thin air. The rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer. The planet is losing more and more habitable ground, as the corporate elite continues to grind out profits at the expense of the ecosystem. This isn't sustainable. Fewer and fewer people will be able to continue to live like kings, and life won't be much fun for the rest of us.

When desperate people take action, violence is likely to be the result, as we have seen in the Middle East. Hedges explains very clearly why the Islamic State has gained such popularity with people no one seems to care about. They offer what seems like “heaven on earth” to folks who have nothing, and while we might not want to live in such a “heaven,” it sounds a lot better to them than the life they are living. It's unlikely that such a successful movement could happen here, but a violent uprising of any number of oppressed categories of poor folks could happen, and while it probably would be forcefully and brutally put down, a lot of damage and death would take place.

Perhaps the reason nothing like that has happened here on a large scale is that most people here still feel there is hope for a nonviolent transition to a world that works for everyone. Even Chris Hedges thinks so. But it's up to us. In Chris Hedges' words, “Peace and harmony may not engulf the Earth if we succeed, but if we do not remove the ruling elites from power, if we do not overthrow the neoliberal order, and if we do not do it soon, we are doomed.”

3. THE MISFIT MATHEMATICIAN (Tom's column, http://tomsager.org)
          a) More on Peter Wadhams
          b) Dear Ralph (An Open Letter to Ralph Nader)
          c) Poetry

MORE ON PETER WADHAMS

Two weeks ago, I included a link to a lecture by Peter Wadhams on the almost-complete demise of arctic sea ice in which he states that if he were “King Peter of the World” and people had to do what he commanded, he would take all our scientists who are working on military research and all the funds given to military research, some 90% of all research funds, and put these resources to work developing a process to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. He then adds that this is the only way that our children will have any future (23:00).

I've been thinking about this problem and I don't believe there is any need to put all our scientists to work on developing such a process since we already have one. Nature has given us a life-form capable of removing atmospheric carbon dioxide with extraordinary efficiency. Humans are unlikely to improve on these life-forms. We call them, Trees.

Researchers have noted that agricultural wastes could contain as much as 12% of the annual input of anthropogenic carbon in the atmosphere. The problem is that when organic matter decays it releases its carbon in the form of carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere.

But there is a way to sequester organic carbon that has been known for 30,000 years. 30,000 years ago a long ago ancestor of Pablo Picasso picked a partially burnt stick of wood out of a fire and started drawing on the walls of a cave — thus biochar or charcoal was discovered. Biochar is the result of heating organic carbon-rich substances in the absence of oxygen. Impurities are driven off, and what's left is virtually pure carbon. So lets say we plant the land with fast growing trees, harvest them, turn them into biochar, dig a deep hole and bury the biochar. Then we can grow more trees on the same land. So this is a continuous process. We take atmospheric carbon dioxide that resulted from the past burning of fossil fuels that were buried in the ground, turn it back into carbon and bury it back in the ground. I would call this the “Rumpelstiltskin Process!” — spinning straw [agricultural output] into [black] gold. And maybe millions of years in the future, a new species, as foolish as the extinct humans, will mine this black gold and burn it.

Of course, there is still plenty of work left for the scientists. Which mixes of trees sequester carbon fastest? How do you harvest the trees: limb by limb or cut down an entire tree and replant? How best to maintain or increase soil fertility while removing the maximum amount of carbon? Can something similar be done on the oceans — perhaps with kelp or some other sea plant?

But we better get to work immediately and stop raising animals for food and burning fossil fuels, and above all — let's stop fighting wars — the biggest driver of global climate change. Atmospheric carbon dioxide will continue to increase if we only sequester 12% of our yearly input. But if we decrease the input to zero, we begin to sequester CO2 produced in past years and slowly bring atmospheric CO2 back down to a safe level.

So lets start thinking not just about stopping detrimental processes; but actually reversing them.

Here's another example, admittedly somewhat more difficult than growing trees, converting them to biochar and burying them. Our planet is heating up because greenhouse gases like CO2 are transparent to much incoming solar radiation but opaque to the electromagnetic radiation the Earth should be radiating back into space. Can we reverse the process? Laser light is both monochromatic and focusable; thus laser light theoretically can be beamed back into space at a frequency transparent to atmospheric gases. So how do we convert the Earth's excess energy to laser light and beam it back into space?

Laser research is hot topic for the military — not that they want to save the world from global warming, but due to its actual and potential utility as a weapon. So following Peter Wadham's suggestion, let's put these laser scientists to work figuring out how to beam the Earth's excess energy safely back into space. I would call this the “Scotty, Beam Me Up Process.”

So there's the good news — “Yes, We Can!”

Now for the bad news — “No, We Won't.” — not unless billions and billions of people demand it. War and military research continue unabated and even Bernie Sanders appears to have little stomach for challenging the Pentagon.

DEAR RALPH (AN OPEN LETTER TO RALPH NADER)

Dear Ralph:

I'm sure you don't remember me. We were on stage together 15 years ago when you were running for president and I was running for congress on the same (Green) party ticket. I was one of your most fervent supporters. You may not recall, but I told you to think big; that you really could be the next president of the United States.

When some idiot would babble at me “A vote for Nader is a vote for Bush.” I would respond, “A vote for Bush-Gore is a vote for the billionaires. A vote for Nader is a vote for the rest of us.” Ah, those were the days!

I read your recent article on Commondreams, Lo, the Poor Enlightened Billionaire! You claim that there are lots of billionaires who really want to do the right thing, but don't know how. Since I don't know any billionaires, I really can't dispute this statement. But maybe some of your billionaire acquaintances who would like to do the right thing, would be interested in funding my ideas for reversing climate change outlined in the snippet above.

They could buy up some land that in Wall Street parlance is referred to as “underutilized” and begin carbon farming. Or they could hire some top laser scientists away from the Pentagon and put them to work figuring how to beam the Earth's excess energy back into space. If there is enough interest, I could probably think up some other ideas too.

Best wishes,
Tom

POETRY

If you like children's poetry, take a look at my book of creature poems.

This month, for the first time, I've posted a Poem of the Month on my website I Have Truth and No Force; You Have Force and No Truth by Sanjiv Bhatt. Let me know what you think.

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Rolla Peace News is distributed by email once a week on Tuesday evenings (except on rare occasions) and is posted on the web at http://tomsager.org (click on Grassroots Rolla: top of rightmost column).

If you don't wish to get notices of peace events in the Rolla area, let me know and I'll take you off this list.

If you want to be added to this list, let me know.

Wage peace,

Helen
helenm (at) fidnet.com

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