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2007 Eco Wrap-Up

2007 environmental progress and regress; 2008 likely trends and looming problems

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2007 Eco Wrap-Up — Highlights from 2007, Likely Trends for 2008

graphic - flat map of earth Are we seeing a world of opportunity these days, or are we in a world of trouble? The paragraphs below summarize some of the most important things that went on in 2007 and are likely to be hot topics again in 2008.
(Tip: Links to outside sites have the site name in parentheses after the link; links without parentheses after them go to Grinning Planet articles.)

This is it for us for the year—we're taking December off. Happy holidays!

Ethanoholics — The US government (and others) are pushing for big increases in ethanol use, ostensibly to compensate for tightening petroleum supplies and to fight climate change. Good news, right? Not really. Ethanol has a barely positive "net energy" ratio, and even if all of the US corn crop were converted to ethanol—farewell, beloved corn chips—it would barely make a dent in the total petroleum requirement for US cars. The following George Monbiot essay takes a more global perspective as it shows what rotgut the ethanol plan really is: "An Agricultural Crime Against Humanity" (at So, what should our energy plan be instead? For thoughts on this, check out the Grinning Planet article on real energy solutions.

Climate Changesaurus — Thanks partly to the movie An Inconvenient Truth ( and persistent Gorefication, the US populace is finally starting to get it. Not get it as in "let's change our lifestyles to solve the global warming problem" (which is what's really required), but at least they're getting it along the lines of "they should do something about it" (whoever they are). Hopefully, by now people also understand the differences between weather vs. climate change vs. global warming And while the nattering nabobs of negativism continue haggling over whether environmental hypocrites on the left are better or worse or more carbony than the heapin' helpin' of environmental hypocrisy on the right, actual measurements of sea ice and other factors are indicating that scientists' climate change models have greatly underestimated how fast the serious effects of global warming will begin hammering us.

GastroPod People — Each January often brings attempts at dietary change. It's really just the basics we need to focus on—minimizing baddies like booze, junk food, sugar, and saturated fat while maximizing goodies like pure water, fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and nuts. You may want to incorporate a few thoughts from these GP articles in your New Year's regimen: Health Benefits of OrganicLiving Food vs. Dead FoodChocolate and Health.

Dollars and Devils — As long as we're on the subject of things that threaten your well being, you reeeaaally need to be paying attention to what's going on in the financial world. The fat-cat bankers and slicksters on Wall Street have really done it this time. The sub-prime mortgage mess is just the tip of the iceberg. And don't think that your innocence in these matter will protect you from getting hit with the blowback. For historical background on how we got here, try William Clark's book Petrodollar Warfare (—or delve into the coverage of the financial fricassee via the financial section Grinning Planet's audio news page. And for further information on how oil factors into the equation, see the archived GP article on the US oil war.

Converging Crises — The list of global challenges seems to go on and on: High gas prices and an apparent peak in global oil production; a fast-melting Arctic and climate change tipping points; big trouble in the money system, an imploding US dollar, and looming global depression; shortages of fresh water; a swirling, Texas-size Charybdis of plastic trash in the Pacific Ocean (Best Life online); toxic chemicals permeating everything everywhere, seemingly endless military conflicts over limited resources.... The brilliant author and speaker Richard Heinberg details the problem of converging crises in his new book, Peak Everything ( "We the peeps" can continue dancing and ordering drinks aboard the USS BusinessAsUsual, or we can start implementing real solutions like reducing waste with a New Materials Economy or throwing out our current crop of corrupt politicians (that's both parties, folks) and replacing them with someone better—or something better, like Direct Democracy.

Closing Thoughts — "Wow—that sure is a lot of negativity, dude!" Yeah, sorry. On a more positive note, there are solutions available to you. The most important steps for you to start taking ASAP next year are to go local and reduce your reliance on the grid. Taking action toward that end can make you healthier, save you money, and insulate you from a lot of the messes described above. Start with these three Grinning Planet articles: (1) The Need for Re-Localization,  (2) Local Food and Farmers Markets,  and (3) Home Solar Energy. Also consider this book: Storey's Basic Country Skills: A Practical Guide to Self-Reliance.

Best wishes to all of you for 2008!

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book cover for I Am America (And So Can You!), by Stephen Colbert, 10/9/2007; click to view on Amazon dot com

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I Am America
(And So Can You!)

Stephen Colbert spun his success at The Daily Show into his own half-hour laugh-fest, The Colbert Report, in which he brilliantly satirizes the blow-hard cable-news-talk format. Conservatives seem to like Colbert because he sounds conservative, with 'truthiness' in ample supply. Those on the left appear to love Colbert because hidden in the blustering blather is razor sharp humor that trashes the very opinions he appears to be spouting forth in earnest. With I Am America, Colbert puts rapier to paper, combining funny monologs with lists, illustrations, and charts to take on the tall task of fixing everything that's destroying America—and make us laugh all the while.


What a Way to Go

Life at the End of Empire   (Documentary)

DVD cover for What a Way to Go;  2007 REVIEW: This is a different sort of "Peak Oil movie." Rather than just focusing on the approaching decline in oil production and its likely effects on our petroleum-powered modern lifestyles, What a Way To Go: Life at the End of Empire, presents that issue merely as a symptom of a larger problem---modern society as empire....  Read full review of What a Way to Go

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Copyright 2007 © Mark Jeantheau — All rights reserved.   More info

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