Congress: Keep our National Parks Open

“We have fallen heirs to the most glorious heritage a people ever received, and each one must do his part if we wish to show that the nation is worthy of its good fortune.”

–Theodore Roosevelt

Dearest Congress:

I write to you with deep concern about the threat the current budget situation poses to national parks. Congress has allowed park budgets to continuously erode, and now face the possibility of an additional cut in January. We cannot allow our national parks to be the victims of a failed budget process, especially when parks are so important to millions of Americans like me and do so much to benefit many local economies.

     If Congress fails to find a solution by January, the National Park Service budget will automatically be cut by more than $200 million. That could mean some level of closure at virtually every national park in the system, including reductions in park hours or seasons, closures of campgrounds or visitor’s centers, and even the outright closure of many parks in the next year. And it will force the firing of as many as 9,000 rangers who serve the public, protect our parks, and keep the parks running—a devastating blow. We need a balanced approach to addressing the federal budget deficit that accounts for cuts to parks that have already occurred.

     Even if the mindless budget sequester does not occur, Congress needs to stop nickel and diming our nation’s national parks each year. The budget for the National Park Service in today’s dollars is already 15 percent less than it was a decade ago. Every driver knows you need to put enough gas in the tank or you run out. Congress isn’t putting enough gas in the tank, and the tires are about to fall off.

     Washington needs to solve our deficit problem, but national parks didn’t cause the deficit. Cutting or closing them won’t cure it. Our national parks attract nearly 280 million visitors each year. The parks support 258,000 jobs and more than $30 billion in private-sector spending and generate $10 in economic activity for every federal dollar spent. And they do it all with funding that is only 1/14th of 1 percent of the federal budget. Our national parks are job producers and economy builders (in the latest political parlance) and should be treated accordingly in federal budget deliberations, not subjected to mindless cuts. At the end of the day, slashing national park spending does not make sense.

     At a time when there is so much disagreement, the American public agrees that protecting our national parks should be a priority. According to a recent poll, 9 out of 10 likely voters–which includes Republicans, Democrats and Independents–agree that funding for our national parks should be held stable or increased. I am one of those people. Please prevent the January sequester from occurring, and support an alternative solution that protects our national treasures. We should be investing in what works.


Daniel Morgan

If this is something YOU believe in, take action here.

(Edited from a boilerplate message on

Here’s some history of the National Parks in the US.

Winter in Yosemite National Park from Henry Jun Wah Lee / Evosia on Vimeo.

Proposition 37 Dunk Tank at the Heirloom Seed Exposition

One of my favorite things from my visit yesterday at the Heirloom Seed Exposition was this dunk tank, where kids flung balls at a rowdy man who represented the Monsanto Devil. Proposition 37 would require that GMO foods be labelled, and California is leading the way in this legislation that Europe has long ago decided was important. Unfortunately, $23 million from large corporations would want to keep things the way things are.

This is worth a watch to get up to speed on what the Food Industry is working on:


Apricot Sprites, aka ‘the anthropomorphic heart wood critters’ my Dad unearthed

A week ago, my dad was pruning one of the many stone fruit trees in his yard in Los Angeles and came upon an eery woodland lady (click for full size):

My dad is coating the slices in acrylic for preservation, and keeping an unperturbed sample under lock and key in preparation for a visit from the SEG (Search for Extraterrestrial Gnomes).

Has anyone seen anything like this in tree cuts? I was pretty freaked. The first lady may resemble my mom if I squint. Perhaps her spirit animal entered the tree during a watering one afternoon. BTW: of course mum has a garden-themed blog and she helped start the Santa Monica College organic garden.

From a brief search, I found a spotting of Jesus in a cabinet at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Wareham, Massachusetts, but nothing like this. Post your wood creatures in the comments!

A knowledgeable plant dude writes:

The discoloration in the heartwood is caused by a systemic fungal infection called Verticillium wilt. You can read more about it here:

The “normal” colorization is from the tree’s attempt to compartmentalize the damage and grow healthy tissue within it.

I’ve also heard back from the Internet in the form of a moose posted in the comments:

Pretty spooky.

The Vatican asks for help protecting the Earth from human activity in the ‘Anthropocene’

This just in from the Vatican:

Humanity has created the Anthropocene era and must live with it. This requires a new awareness of the risks human actions are having on the Earth and its systems, including the mountain glaciers discussed here. It imposes a new duty to reduce these risks. Failure to mitigate climate change will violate our duty to the vulnerable of the Earth, including those dependent on the water supply of mountain glaciers, and those facing rising sea level and stronger storm surges. Our duty includes the duty to help vulnerable communities adapt to changes that cannot be mitigated. All nations must ensure that their actions are strong enough and prompt enough to address the increasing impacts and growing risk of climate change and to avoid catastrophic irreversible consequences.
Continue reading “The Vatican asks for help protecting the Earth from human activity in the ‘Anthropocene’”

The Anthropocene

Stewart Brand is pro nuclear power and that's ok.

…Because this is what’s happening. With climate change, we’re looking at a situation where us environmentalists, instead of protecting natural systems from civilization, we’re now trying to protect civilization from a natural system, which is climate responding to our apparently excess greenhouse gases. And if they go ahead as we are today, then we won’t get a stable climate until maybe five degrees Celsius warmer, which is exactly what it was 55 million years ago, in the Eocene-Paleocene Thermal Maximum. There’s no rainforests in that world. There’s carrying(?) capacity for maybe 1.5 billion of us in that world, and it would be tough getting from the seven billion we have now to the 1.5 billion.

What we want is, somehow, to keep the civilization-friendly climate we’ve had for the last 10,000 years going for another 10,000 years. That would be nice. And then we’d get to keep having a civilization. So, in light of that, some different things are green than they used to be, back when the modern environmental movement took shape in the 1970s. Some of our ideas and methods from then don’t really apply now….

…We are now in an era called the Anthropocene, an era in which humans are running way too much of the atmosphere and everything else badly. We’re in this situation where we don’t have a choice of stopping terraforming. We only have a choice of terraforming well. That’s the green project for this century.

Stewart Brand

Thoughts on Greenwashing – Not buying vs. Buying Green

Contributing to our failure to protect the Earth is the idea–promoted by countless marketing campaigns–that buying something made in a certain way or with certain materials helps save the planet. It’s is a simple fact that production produces waste. End of story. A trillion times a day we buy into the fact that the properties of some manufactured good make it less harmful to the environment.


We are all guilty (I included) of releasing our hold of environmental realities on behalf of some plastic green sticker. The sticker (usually a leaf / clear drop of water motif) touts the product’s adherance to one vein of environmental responsiblity. “Made with 10% renewable energy” or “Made of post-consumer recycled materials.” Whether it be related to what it’s made of, what was recycled to become a part of it, or what type of power contributed to it’s construction–it’s still a waste. As a culture, our eco-awareness takes flight whenever we make one of these “responsible” purchases. Only by reusing or doing without can we we ever be honest with ourselves when we say “I’m helping the environment.” No amount of buying newly-produced manufactured goods ever helped the planet. Of course there may be exceptions, but there aren’t many.

Passing on a purchase should provide us with a far greater eco-snobbery than a greenwashed purchase.

Producing things takes enormous amounts of energy. Products made of bamboo–like a rug or a sheet–may be built with renewable resources. But the fact that they were cut by steel, powered by coal, and then shipped on a freighter thousands of miles in green packaging should give us pause. Instead, the intrinsic value of the product grows far higher. We would pay a premium for that sticker. Time to pat ourselves on the back for leaving the store.

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The twelve days of minimalism/sustainability…

Check out 12 minimalist ways to reduce your carbon footprint.

I’m taking advantage of the author of  mnmlst’s ‘uncopyrighted’ policy and posting the whole durn thing below:

1. Eat less. Wrote about this recently. Less food consumed means less resources used up and pollution used to create the food and get it to you.

2. Eat less meat. Worldwide, beef production contributes more to climate change than the entire transportation sector. Pork and chicken are also big contributors to pollution and carbon emissions, compared to plants.

3. Eat locally. Transporting food from where it’s grown or raised to where it’s processed and packaged, to your supermarket, has a high environmental cost. Eating locally not only greatly reduces that transportation cost but it supports local farmers instead of corporations. Look for local foods, in season, at farmer’s markets near you, or at your supermarket or local health food store, or get involved with a CSA.

Continue reading “The twelve days of minimalism/sustainability…”

Flashwalk : Walk 40 miles from Brooklyn to Staten Island Sunday

I really hope it doesn’t rain this Sunday, but even if it does, I plan on joining my friend Matt for the 1st annual Flashwalk from Brooklyn to Staten Island. It’ll be a 40 hour, slow-food style walk during which time I hope to see for the first time–with no sense of haste or pressure–a great deal of the fine city of New York (on the longest day of the year).

Personally, I don’t feel I make much use of my daily travels around the city. Within the ‘look at your feet’ social ambiance to and from work, I see beautiful things: the Brooklyn Bridge, Statue of Liberty, parts of Chinatown, ritzy SOHO, and a few blocks of Park Slope, Brooklyn. But do I really see it? Could I remember 3 things I saw on my way from my office to the Subway? Probably not. When I’m going somewhere on the weekends or evenings, I’m more focused on the destination than the incredible history of the city I’m passing right by. In short, the long summer weekends in this Northern latitude demand we make the most of our time out of the cold:

The essentials are this: As the inaugural of an organization that will sponsor exploration-oriented walks, with no guides and no agenda, at locations in the city selected by chance, I’m getting a group of people together to walk from Brooklyn to Staten Island. This is no small feat, as the only way to get there on foot is a 40-mile, two-state walk via Manhattan, to the George Washington Bridge, through 20 miles of Jersey, to the Bayonne bridge. To up the ante, it will be a five-borough walk. And it’ll be taking place on the longest day of the year, just so we can get the most out of it. It’s totally not-for-profit, free, and aimed at simply getting people to slow down their lives for one day and take a serious look at their cit(ies) — and as a side effect raising awareness of flashwalk as organizer of such strangeness.

Here’s the details:


Questions? See ya there.

FB event