Christmas and Holiday Traditions Around the World (at Frederik Meijer Gardens)

November 18, 2013 by  
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Autumn in Michigan came quickly and the holiday season will soon be here. As your family and friends gather together to celebrate your own holiday traditions, be sure to check[...]

Michigan 27, Northwestern 19: Dada Football

November 18, 2013 by  
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Michigan went to Evanston and pulled out a 27-19 triple OT victory via some late game absurdism.

The rain fell in the Evanston night; perhaps it was that evening chill that pushed the permanently short-sleeved Brady Hoke to go all in.

For the first time in the second half, Michigan had moved the ball consistently, starting at its own 30-yard line and reaching the Northwestern 4. De'Veon Smith plowed into the line for no gain on 3rd & 2; a field goal seemed imminent, with Michigan down just 9-6 and under six minutes left to play.

Michigan lined up to go for it, but Northwestern called a timeout. For many coaches, this sort of stoppage is like a dart piercing their bravery, allowing it to flail in the wind like a punctured balloon. This was not the case for Hoke.

The Wolverine offense trotted out onto the field once again, faced with a 4th & 2 and the opportunity to, in all likelihood, end the game with a touchdown score. Devin Gardner took the snap and carried it to the right side, a play Michigan has used in short yardage with some success this season.

This time, Gardner got dropped for a loss of one by linebacker ChiChi Ariguzo and corner Nick VanHoose. There has probably never been a person more unlikely to be a fan of Arrested Development than Brady Hoke, but, assuming that he is one for this hypothetical scenario, he probably felt a lot like GOB at that very moment, riding down the sideline on a segway with his head down.

Fortunately for the Wolverines, the defense stood tall all game, and Northwestern's final regulation possession was no different. After giving up a pair of first downs, Kain Colter was dropped for a loss of eight on 2nd & 9 by Cam Gordon (who had probably the best game of his career), eventually setting up a NU punt.

Michigan got the ball at its own 22 and then proceeded to march its way through obstacles representing near-death. On 4th & 4, Gardner picked up six and stepped out of bounds. On another 4th & 4, Gardner launched a rocket to a wide open Devin Funchess in the middle of the field for another first down.

Gardner hit Jeremy Gallon for 16 yards on 3rd & 23, but, with no timeouts, the clock ticked under 10 seconds.

---

As a fan, it's often hard to appreciate the level of meticulous preparation that goes into a week leading up to a football game. Many of the situations talked about or studied in practice never come about in games.

How is that defensive end playing the zone read? When a team fields a certain personnel group, are they tipping run? Is that linebacker agile enough in his drop to cover your tight end? These are ordinary questions that apply on a weekly basis.

Can you run out a field goal unit with the clock ticking under 10 seconds, get set at the line, snap it and bury a field goal to tie the game as time expires? Can you do that?

Michigan's game-tying field goal was disorienting when juxtaposed with the general disarray of the offense of late. It seemed inconceivable that the same time could look so rudderless on offense and then execute a field goal like that, from the quickness with which they lined up to Dileo's slide to Brendan Gibbons's kick itself, all done with complete aplomb.

In late game situations, most fans --myself included-- are reduced to yelling (or thinking) one thing: GO. GO GO GO. The clock is ticking don't you know.

Meanwhile, football coaches and players do not have that luxury. They have to forget about past mistakes, forget about the stakes, forget about everything. In that final moment, Brady Hoke and his football players could only think about the play itself, in a vacuum. Michigan needed a field goal.

The offense first had to rush off the field. The blockers had to line up just so, also without committing a penalty. Drew Dileo had to slide into position to receive the snap; he also had to catch the ball, which necessitated him forgetting about the drops he had throughout the game. He had to place the ball.

Then, after all that, Gibbons had to boot it through the uprights.

The game of football is a violent one, full of big hits, and intense macroscopic scrutiny. But, on occasions like Saturday night, the game is often reduced to a string of delicate, connected events, all depending upon its predecessor for the chance to succeed.

While this season has produced its fair share of disappointment and Big Picture questions, Saturday's trip to Evanston showed that this team has not given up the ghost. Whether Michigan can do it again at Iowa this Saturday remains to be seen, but Michigan is not down for the count just yet.

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As for the game itself, the Wolverine defense once again pitched in its typical solid-to-great performance. Northwestern managed 322 total yards, 2.9 yards per carry and just nine points (in regulation). Northwestern's receivers picked up some chunks here and there, but never of the big play variety; NU's biggest play of the day was a 26-yard reception by Christian Jones.

Most encouragingly, Michigan defended the option just about as well as I've seen in a long time. This might not be saying a whole lot given Michigan's history against the option attack, but improvement is improvement.

Additionally, although Michigan picked up just two sacks on the day (one apiece by James Ross and Jibreel Black), it seemed like Michigan's ability to push the pocket and get any sort of pressure took a step forward on Saturday. Michigan will need to continue that this week against Iowa if they are going to keep Iowa QB Jake Rudock from having a big day. Rudock isn't exactly Kain Colter with his feet, but he can run a little bit; he has amassed 188 yards on 49 carries thus far (plus five touchdowns).

James Ross led the way in tackles with 13; after a somewhat quiet start to the season, Ross has really shown up well the last two weeks.

Courtney Avery and Raymon Taylor had active days defending Northwestern's ground game, with eight and seven tackles respectively.

In addition to the aforementioned Cam Gordon, Frank Clark and Thomas Gordon should be singled out for praise, especially Gordon, who was obviously looking to leave his mark after being left out of the lineup last week for nebulous reasons. Gordon pitched in seven tackles, a PBU, the game-ending interception and a tackle for loss, not to mention a huge hit on Kain Colter.

In the same vein, while Frank Clark might not have lived up to the unrealistic offseason hype, he has shown obvious improvement. The junior end tallied six tackles (one for loss) on Saturday, and his ability to beat his man seems to be getting better with each week. Greg Mattison will need to rely on Clark to bring the heat against Rudock this Saturday.

Michigan's defense boasted six different players with a tackle for loss apiece. No, Northwestern's offense sans Venric Mark is not the dynamic machine it was supposed to be (or looked like early in the season), but Saturday's performance was impressive any way you look at it.

---

Offensively, Michigan once again struggled after finding some success on the ground and with quick passes during its opening drive. Most concerning is Michigan's continued inability to do anything with good field position. After NU punter Brandon Williams's horrendous 7-yard punt, giving Michigan the ball at the NU 10, Michigan lost a yard in the ensuing three plays. An offense like this cannot afford to fail to take advantage of these sorts of miraculous gifts.

Devin Gardner continues to seem gun-shy, holding on to the ball for far too long as opposed to taking a chance downfield, risking an interception. His reticence is understandable, but sacks --like the one he took on Michigan's final regulation drive-- have to start becoming throwaways.

On the bright side, Michigan did gain positive rushing yards for the first time since the Indiana game, and the freshman tailbacks gave Michigan an oomph that it hasn't had in some time, even when Fitzgerald Toussaint was racking up big numbers in 2011. Derrick Green wasn't exactly justifying much usage early in the season, as he typically failed to use his size to fall forward (like a back of his stature is expected to do). That finally changed on Saturday night.

Green didn't rack up overly impressive numbers (19 carries, 79 yards), but 4.2 yards per carry and several trucked NU defenders make for a big leap forward for both Green and Michigan's ground game as a whole. After all of the hits Gardner has taken the last few weeks, it's clear that he has lost a step and doesn't quite have the burst to make plays with his feet that he did in September. As such, Green and fellow freshman De'Veon Smith will need to carry the mail again against Iowa and in the Big House against Ohio State.

Despite some uncharacteristic drops, Jeremy Gallon had a big day once again, this time hauling in 10 passes for 115 yards, enough to bring him over the 1,000-yard mark for the season.

With Michigan looking to move toward a Stanford-esque type offense, the tight end position will become crucial to Michigan's success. Jake Butt reeled in his first career touchdown pass during overtime; he'll be a big part of Michigan's passing game for the next few years. Kevin Koger had a solid career for Michigan, but it's been some time since Michigan had a truly prolific pass-catching tight end (since Bennie Joppru in 2002).

---

All in all, this game doesn't mean a whole lot in the grand scheme of things. Michigan isn't playing for a BCS bid, let alone a division title. Nonetheless, a win like that can be cathartic for a team that has taken the lumps Michigan has in recent weeks.

If Michigan can build upon this performance and snag a win in Iowa City --a place they haven't won since 2005-- things will look far less grim than they did even last week. Michigan still has problems, to be sure, and a win against a Northwestern team that had lost five in a row coming into Saturday doesn't solve them.

With that said, it is comforting to know that many of the underclassmen littering Michigan's two-deep are getting big snaps as the season comes to a close. Michigan will have a few key losses this offseason (namely Taylor Lewan and Jeremy Gallon, plus a few others), but this Wolverine team will return mostly intact in 2014.

In any case, 7-3 feels a whole lot better than 6-4. As an added bonus, Michigan fans witnessed a late game sequence that will go down as one of the craziest Michigan special teams plays of all time. Sometimes it's the little things that count.

Trapped in IKEA

November 18, 2013 by  
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Have you ever been lost in IKEA or trapped in the maze of displays?

Maybe you felt like this:

Tip of the Week: DIY uses for scrap tires

November 18, 2013 by  
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There are more than a few scrap tires littered through the neighborhoods of Detroit; a fact that I have documented again, again, and again. I was pleased then when I found this idea for reusing an old tire online.

If one were to add legs to it, the result could serve as a coffee table. Without legs added, it would work as a footstool.

Personally, when I saw this, the idea that came to mind was to three or four of these scrap tires on top of one another to give it extra height without having to add legs. Once could then affix an acrylic sheet to act as the top. Although, I think it would also be cool to use some of the wood from discarded box springs as top instead.

One way or another, I think it's a cool idea to do something useful with all of the trash that gets illegally dumped in Warrendale and the other neighborhoods of Detroit.

Friends of Rouge Park to meet tomorrow

November 18, 2013 by  
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The Friends of Rouge Park will have their next general membership meeting tomorrow, Tuesday, November 19 from 6:00-7:00 p.m. The group will meet inside the Don Bosco Center (9357 Westwood St.), which is north of the Warrendale neighborhood at W. Chicago Rd.

The agenda for this meeting will include:

  • Upcoming Volunteer Work Day in the Rouge Park Prairie on November 21 at 3:30 p.m.;
  • Progress on the development of a Master Plan for Rouge Park;
  • Additional updates and news about Rouge Park.
Everyone who is interested in the future of the largest park in Detroit is invited to attend this meeting.

Meet my November sponsors

November 18, 2013 by  
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The Meaning of Life, In One Short Blog

November 18, 2013 by  
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I am sometimes an armchair philosopher and there are moments, if it's possible that I think too much get lost in sort of an over thinking, over analyzing sort of pattern I don't even know really where to begin or why I'm writing this any more than I need to put these thoughts down they are fast and jumbled and organizing them into words and sentences is a challenge, although it makes sense to

Israel forces Gaza Children to Wade through Sewage as Creepy, Evil Blockade Continues

November 17, 2013 by  
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The health minister in the Gaza Strip has warned that the territory is on the verge of a major health catastrophe.

Children are risking cholera and worse because they have to walk through raw sewage to get to school. The sewage has flooded the streets in Gaza City because the sewage treatment plant has no electricity. It has no electricity because the Israelis are blockading the strip, including its children (50% of the population). The Israelis are not letting cheap fuel in. Some inexpensive fuel used to come in from Egypt, but the military there has blocked smuggling tunnels leading into the strip from the Sinai Peninsula.

The Israeli military has since 2007 punished the whole Palestinian population because the Hamas Party won the 2006 elections. It actually produced figures on how much nutrition could be let in while keeping both children and adults among the Palestinians “on a diet.” US State Department cables revealed by Wikileaks show that the Israelis are deliberately keeping the Palestinians of Gaza just on the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe. As a result, 56 percent of residents are “food insecure.” They aren’t starving but they are just one or two lost paychecks away from starving. This kind of social engineering experiment on human beings (i.e. keeping Palestinians “on a diet”) is unconscionable to anyone in their right mind. It is also illegal in international law to impose collective punishment on an Occupied politician. Some 70% of the 1.7 million Palestinians in Gaza are from families expelled from what is now southern Israel by the 1948 ethnic cleansing campaign of Jewish settlers. Many could walk home in an hour or two but they are kept in refugee camps by the Israeli military. They are besieged on three sides by Israel and on one by Egypt, whose officers are cooperating with the Israeli-imposed blockade.

Here is a paraphrase of a report on the situation in the Palestinian Gaza Strip from AP:

“A Palestinian official in Gaza City , Gaza Strip, said that treatment plant sewage is overflowing into the streets because of the shortage of electricity needed for waste treatment . Gaza officials said that the spill could harm the environment and affect 20,000 people. The smell is rancid and the water is lapping at car tires. Gaza has been suffering from fuel shortages and power cuts that cause hours of outages. The electricity brownouts are due to closure by Egypt of smuggling tunnels on the border with the Gaza Strip , which provides fuel to the Palestinian territories. The transfer of higher-priced fuel prices by the Israelis continued.”

BBC Monitoring quotes from the Israeli Arabic press:

“Al-Ittihad [organ of the Communist Party] [From editorial] “As though the accumulated tragedies which the people of Gaza Strip live as a result of the occupation, its crimes and siege, are not enough, power cuts for 18 hours a day constitute a tangible danger to life, safety and health of Gazans… The power cuts are caused by a fuel crisis… The matter has reached the extent of threatening lives of premature babies in hospitals and poverty stricken quarters where the evil has reached the extent of sewage water flooding streets and homes… It is the duty of those with a conscience to make a resounding call in order to save the people of Gaza from this killing darkness, killing siege and killing silence…”

PressTV reports:

Planet Tahrir: The Coming Mass Demonstrations against Climate Change (Klare)

November 17, 2013 by  
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Michael T. Klare writes at Tomdispatch.com:

A week after the most powerful “super typhoon” ever recorded pummeled the Philippines, killing thousands in a single province, and three weeks after the northern Chinese city of Harbin suffered a devastating “airpocalypse,” suffocating the city with coal-plant pollution, government leaders beware!  Although individual events like these cannot be attributed with absolute certainty to increased fossil fuel use and climate change, they are the type of disasters that, scientists tell us, will become a pervasive part of life on a planet being transformed by the massive consumption of carbon-based fuels.  If, as is now the case, governments across the planet back an extension of the carbon age and ever increasing reliance on “unconventional” fossil fuels like tar sands and shale gas, we should all expect trouble.  In fact, we should expect mass upheavals leading to a green energy revolution.

None of us can predict the future, but when it comes to a mass rebellion against the perpetrators of global destruction, we can see a glimmer of the coming upheaval in events of the present moment.  Take a look and you will see that the assorted environmental protests that have long bedeviled politicians are gaining in strength and support.  With an awareness of climate change growing and as intensifying floods, fires, droughts, and storms become an inescapable feature of daily life across the planet, more people are joining environmental groups and engaging in increasingly bold protest actions.  Sooner or later, government leaders are likely to face multiple eruptions of mass public anger and may, in the end, be forced to make radical adjustments in energy policy or risk being swept aside.

In fact, it is possible to imagine such a green energy revolution erupting in one part of the world and spreading like wildfire to others.  Because climate change is going to inflict increasingly severe harm on human populations, the impulse to rebel is only likely to gain in strength across the planet.  While circumstances may vary, the ultimate goal of these uprisings will be to terminate the reign of fossil fuels while emphasizing investment in and reliance upon renewable forms of energy.  And a success in any one location is bound to invite imitation in others.

A wave of serial eruptions of this sort would not be without precedent.  In the early years of twentieth-first century, for example, one government after another in disparate parts of the former Soviet Union was swept away in what were called the “color revolutions” — populist upheavals against old-style authoritarian regimes.  These included the “Rose Revolution” in Georgia (2003), the “Orange Revolution” in Ukraine (2004), and the “Pink” or “Tulip Revolution” in Kyrgyzstan (2005).  In 2011, a similar wave of protests erupted in North Africa, culminating in what we call the Arab Spring.

Like these earlier upheavals, a “green revolution” is unlikely to arise from a highly structured political campaign with clearly identified leaders.   In all likelihood, it will erupt spontaneously, after a cascade of climate-change induced disasters provokes an outpouring of public fury.  Once ignited, however, it will undoubtedly ratchet up the pressure for governments to seek broad-ranging, systemic transformations of their energy and climate policies.  In this sense, any such upheaval — whatever form it takes — will prove “revolutionary” by seeking policy shifts of such magnitude as to challenge the survival of incumbent governments or force them to enact measures with transformative implications. 

Foreshadowings of such a process can already be found around the globe.  Take the mass environmental protests that erupted in Turkey this June.  Though sparked by a far smaller concern than planetary devastation via climate change, for a time they actually posed a significant threat to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his governing party.  Although his forces eventually succeeded in crushing the protests — leaving four dead, 8,000 injured, and 11 blinded by tear-gas canisters — his reputation as a moderate Islamist was badly damaged by the episode.

Like so many surprising upheavals on this planet, the Turkish uprising had the most modest of beginnings: on May 27th, a handful of environmental activists blocked bulldozers sent by the government to level Gezi Park, a tiny oasis of greenery in the heart of Istanbul, and prepare the way for the construction of an upscale mall.  The government responded to this small-scale, non-violent action by sending in riot police and clearing the area, a move that enraged many Turks and prompted tens of thousands of them to occupy nearby Taksim Square.  This move, in turn, led to an even more brutal police crackdown and then to huge demonstrations in Istanbul and around the country.  In the end, mass protests erupted in 70 cities, the largest display of anti-government sentiment since Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party came to power in 2002.

This was, in the most literal sense possible, a “green” revolution, ignited by the government’s assault on the last piece of greenery in central Istanbul.  But once the police intervened in full strength, it became a wide-ranging rebuke to Erdogan’s authoritarian impulses and his drive to remake the city as a neo-Ottoman showplace — replete with fancy malls and high-priced condominiums — while eliminating poor neighborhoods and freewheeling public spaces like Taksim Square.  “It’s all about superiority, and ruling over the people like sultans,” declared one protestor.  It’s not just about the trees in Gezi Park, said another: “We are here to stand up against those who are trying to make a profit from our land.” 

The Ningbo Rebellion

The same trajectory of events — a small-scale environmental protest evolving into a full-scale challenge to governmental authority — can be seen in other mass protests of recent years.

Take a Chinese example: in October 2012, students and middle class people joined with poor farmers to protest the construction of an $8.8 billion petrochemical facility in Ningbo, a city of 3.4 million people south of Shanghai.  In a country where environmental pollution has reached nearly unprecedented levels, these protests were touched off by fears that the plant, to be built by the state-owned energy company Sinopec with local government support, would produce paraxylene, a toxic substance used in plastics, paints, and cleaning solvents. 

Here, too, the initial spark that led to the protests was small-scale.  On October 22nd, some 200 farmers obstructed a road near the district government’s office in an attempt to block the plant’s construction.  After the police were called in to clear the blockade, students from nearby Ningbo University joined the protests.  Using social media, the protestors quickly enlisted support from middle-class residents of the city who converged in their thousands on downtown Ningbo.  When riot police moved in to break up the crowds, the protestors fought back, attacking police cars and throwing bricks and water bottles.  While the police eventually gained the upper hand after several days of pitched battles, the Chinese government concluded that mass action of this sort, occurring in the heart of a major city and featuring an alliance of students, farmers, and young professionals, was too great a threat.  After five days of fighting, the government gave in, announcing the cancellation of the petrochemical project.

The Ningbo demonstrations were hardly the first such upheavals to erupt in China.  They did, however, highlight a growing governmental vulnerability to mass environmental protest.  For decades, the reigning Chinese Communist Party has justified its monopolistic hold on power by citing its success in generating rapid economic growth.  But that growth means the use of ever more fossil fuels and petrochemicals, which, in turn, means increased carbon emissions and disastrous atmospheric pollution, including one “airpocalypse” after another.

Until recently, most Chinese seemed to accept such conditions as the inevitable consequences of growth, but it seems that tolerance of environmental degradation is rapidly diminishing.  As a result, the party finds itself in a terrible bind: it can slow development as a step toward cleaning up the environment, incurring a risk of growing economic discontent, or it can continue its growth-at-all-costs policy, and find itself embroiled in a firestorm of Ningbo-style environmental protests. 

This dilemma — the environment versus the economy — has proven to be at the heart of similar mass eruptions elsewhere on the planet.

After Fukushima

Two of the largest protests of this sort were sparked by the reactor meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plants on March 11, 2011, after a massive tsunami struck northern Japan.  In both of these actions — the first in Germany, the second in Japan — the future of nuclear power and the survival of governments were placed in doubt.

The biggest protests occurred in Germany.  On March 26th, 15 days after the Fukushima explosions, an estimated 250,000 people participated in anti-nuclear demonstrations across the country — 100,000 in Berlin, and up to 40,000 each in Hamburg, Munich, and Cologne.  “Today’s demonstrations are just the prelude to a new, strong, anti-nuclear movement,” declared Jochen Stay, a protest leader.  “We’re not going to let up until the plants are finally mothballed.”

At issue was the fate of Germany’s remaining nuclear power plants.  Although touted as an attractive alternative to fossil fuels, nuclear power is seen by most Germans as a dangerous and unwelcome energy option.  Several months prior to Fukushima, German Chancellor Angela Merkel insisted that Germany would keep its 17 operating reactors until 2040, allowing a smooth transition from the country’s historic reliance on coal to renewable energy for generating electricity.  Immediately after Fukushima, she ordered a temporary shutdown of Germany’s seven oldest reactors for safety inspections but refused to close the others, provoking an outpouring of protest.

Witnessing the scale of the demonstrations, and after suffering an electoral defeat in the key state of Baden-Württemberg, Merkel evidently came to the conclusion that clinging to her position would be the equivalent of political suicide.  On May 30th, she announced that the seven reactors undergoing inspections would be closed permanently and the remaining 10 would be phased out by 2022, almost 20 years earlier than in her original plan.

By all accounts, the decision to phase out nuclear power almost two decades early will have significant repercussions for the German economy.  Shutting down the reactors and replacing them with wind and solar energy will cost an estimated $735 billion and take several decades, producing soaring electricity bills and periodic energy shortages.  However, such is the strength of anti-nuclear sentiment in Germany that Merkel felt she had no choice but to close the reactors anyway. 

The anti-nuclear protests in Japan occurred considerably later, but were no less momentous.  On July 16, 2012, 16 months after the Fukushima disaster, an estimated 170,000 people assembled in Tokyo to protest a government plan to restart the country’s nuclear reactors, idled after the disaster.  This was not only Japan’s largest antinuclear demonstration in many years, but the largest of any sort to occur in recent memory.

For the government, the July 16th action was particularly significant. Prior to Fukushima, most Japanese had embraced the country’s growing reliance on nuclear power, putting their trust in the government to ensure its safety.  After Fukushima and the disastrous attempts of the reactors’ owner, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), to deal with the situation, public support for nuclear power plummeted.  As it became increasingly evident that the government had mishandled the crisis, people lost faith in its ability to exercise effective control over the nuclear industry.  Repeated promises that nuclear reactors could be made safe lost all credibility when it became known that government officials had long collaborated with TEPCO executives in covering up safety concerns at Fukushima and, once the meltdowns occurred, in concealing information about the true scale of the disaster and its medical implications.

The July 16th protest and others like it should be seen as a public vote against the government’s energy policy and oversight capabilities.  “Japanese have not spoken out against the national government,” said one protestor, a 29-year-old homemaker who brought her one-year-old son.  “Now, we have to speak out, or the government will endanger us all.”

Skepticism about the government, rare for twenty-first-century Japan, has proved a major obstacle to its desire to restart the country’s 50 idled reactors.  While most Japanese oppose nuclear power, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe remains determined to get the rectors running again in order to reduce Japan’s heavy reliance on imported energy and promote economic growth.  “I think it is impossible to promise zero [nuclear power plants] at this stage,” he declared this October.  “From the government’s standpoint, [nuclear plants] are extremely important for a stable energy supply and economic activities.”

Despite such sentiments, Abe is finding it extremely difficult to garner support for his plans, and it is doubtful that significant numbers of those reactors will be coming online anytime soon.

The Explosions Ahead

What these episodes tell us is that people around the world are becoming ever more concerned about energy policy as it affects their lives and are prepared — often on short notice — to engage in mass protests.  At the same time, governments globally, with rare exceptions, are deeply wedded to existing energy policies.  These almost invariably turn them into targets, no matter what the original spark for mass opposition.  As the results of climate change become ever more disruptive, government officials will find themselves repeatedly choosing between long-held energy plans and the possibility of losing their grip on power.

Because few governments are as yet prepared to launch the sorts of efforts that might even begin to effectively address the peril of climate change, they will increasingly be seen as obstacles to essential action and so as entities that need to be removed.  In short, climate rebellion — spontaneous protests that may at any moment evolve into unquenchable mass movements — is on the horizon.  Faced with such rebellions, recalcitrant governments will respond with some combination of accommodation to popular demands and harsh repression. 

Many governments will be at risk from such developments, but the Chinese leadership appears to be especially vulnerable.  The ruling party has staked its future viability on an endless carbon-fueled growth agenda that is steadily destroying the country’s environment.  It has already faced half-a-dozen environmental upheavals like the one in Ningbo, and has responded to them by agreeing to protestors’ demands or by employing brute force.  The question is: How long can this go on? 

Environmental conditions are bound to worsen, especially as China continues to rely on coal for home heating and electrical power, and yet there is no indication that the ruling Communist Party is prepared to take the radical steps required to significantly reduce domestic coal consumption.  This translates into the possibility of mass protests erupting at any time and on a potentially unprecedented scale.  And these, in turn, could bring the Party’s very survival into question — a scenario guaranteed to produce immense anxiety among the country’s top leaders.

And what about the United States?  At this point, it would be ludicrous to say that, as a result of popular disturbances, the nation’s political leadership is at any risk of being swept away or even forced to take serious steps to scale back reliance on fossil fuels.  There are, however, certainly signs of a growing nationwide campaign against aspects of fossil fuel reliance, including vigorous protests against hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) and the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

For environmental activist and writer Bill McKibben, all this adds up to an incipient mass movement against the continued consumption of fossil fuels.  “In the last few years,” he has written, this movement “has blocked the construction of dozens of coal-fired power plants, fought the oil industry to a draw on the Keystone pipeline, convinced a wide swath of American institutions to divest themselves of their fossil fuel stocks, and challenged practices like mountaintop-removal coal mining and fracking for natural gas.”  It may not have achieved the success of the drive for gay marriage, he observed, but it “continues to grow quickly, and it’s starting to claim some victories.”

If it’s still too early to gauge the future of this anti-carbon movement, it does seem, at least, to be gaining momentum.  In the 2013 elections, for example, three cities in energy-rich Colorado — Boulder, Fort Collins, and Lafayette — voted to ban or place moratoriums on fracking within their boundaries, while protests against Keystone XL and similar projects are on the rise.

Nobody can say that a green energy revolution is a sure thing, but who can deny that energy-oriented environmental protests in the U.S. and elsewhere have the potential to expand into something far greater?  Like China, the United States will experience genuine damage from climate change and its unwavering commitment to fossil fuels in the years ahead.  Americans are not, for the most part, passive people.  Expect them, like the Chinese, to respond to these perils with increased ire and a determination to alter government policy.

So don’t be surprised if that green energy revolution erupts in your neighborhood as part of humanity’s response to the greatest danger we’ve ever faced.  If governments won’t take the lead on an imperiled planet, someone will. 

Michael T. Klare is a professor of peace and conflict studies at Hampshire College and the author, most recently, of The Race for What’s Left.  A documentary movie version of his book Blood and Oil is available from the Media Education Foundation.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook or Tumblr. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Ann Jones’s They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return From America’s Wars — The Untold Story.

Copyright 2013 Michael T. Klare

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Mirrored from Tomdispatch.com

grey areas

November 17, 2013 by  
Filed under Faith & Life

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I had the best hair of my life while I was pregnant. Seriously, when I look back on my hair during my pregnancy with Eddie I get swoony for how long and thick and beautiful it was.

Then he was born and all my hair fell out.  Ok, not all of it, but I did have bald spots by my temples.  Oh yes I did.

Same thing with Charlie. In fact, my hair was so awesome during that pregnancy, that I cut it short because it looked great and thick.  Then Charlie was born. It all fell out and I hated my hair more than I have ever hated it.

five days before Eddie was born. I loved my hair.

five days before Eddie was born. I loved my hair…and my youth.

The re-growth has been grey.

GREY.

Not 100% grey, but more than 50% grey.

I also have this habit of smiling. A lot. And when I stop smiling, the area around my eyes does not get the memo anymore.

I have wrinkles.

This past summer I had to get glasses with a prism in them because my eyes can’t stay focused after using the computer or reading for a long time. It makes night driving–especially in the rain–very difficult.  So I have glasses now.

I have grey hair, wrinkles, and glasses.

What I am trying to say is that I am turning into my grandmother…at age 35.

Here is the deal, my age has never made me feel old (well, except for that unfortunate 25th birthday, but there were extenuating circumstances). In fact, I feel like 30′s and 40′s is still young and fun and whatever.

What has made me feel ancient lately is all these changes I see in my appearance.

It feels out of my control.  Yes, I color my hair every 8-10 weeks, but that doesn’t change the fact that every time I go for a touch-up there are MORE greys than the previous time. I am constantly worrying that as those grey hairs grow longer, my whole head will become wirey and I’ll have to get it cut in the Old Lady Ball and get it “done” once a week and wear a plastic rain bonnet to church.

What? YOU don’t worry about these things?

When did all THIS happen?

When did all THIS happen?

So I joke about it, but truthfully all of these things have me feeling a lot of feelings lately.

I picture myself as the old lady mom at my kids’ school. I picture myself looking grandmotherly while pregnant with Baby #3 (if we are so blessed at some point).

I know the saying of “you’re only as old as you feel,” but I FEEL older when I look in the mirror and see wrinkles and grey hairs and…dude! Is that a chin hair? I JUST PLUCKED THAT YESTERDAY!

Sigh.

Why is being an adult so…angsty?  Or is it just me (tell me it’s NOT just me. Please.)?

I’ve been trying to find the things I still like about myself to counteract these horrifying things I keep noticing, but I know I keep focusing on the stuff that is making me feel, well, old.

I’ve spent so much time watching time pass on my children, that this week it was a shock to my system to see it passing on me too. Just like Eddie is not a toddler anymore, and Charlie is not a baby anymore, I’m not a kid anymore.

I’m not a kid anymore.

I’m an adult. A grown-up.

I spent all my life wondering what it would be to get to the child-bearing age and have a family. A bunch of time was spent thinking about my who I would marry, and who my children would be, and how they would come to be mine, and how many there would be in all.

I never thought about what my life would look like once all those babies were here.  I never thought about what I would look like as a total grownup.

Other than maybe one more pregnancy, I am there. I am a grown-up.

And I look…at least to myself…old.

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