It’s All Connected

It’s all connected

The climate crisis may seem to most people as predominantly one of temperatures affected by the greenhouse effect, the result of excessive gases in the atmosphere that trap heat. Even understanding this seems to bypass many people.

However, I often wonder how much one’s average person who understands even that is considering the wider issue of the human impact upon the natural world, which is intimately connected with climate change..

For example, the very same industrial society which produces such greenhouse gases in transportation and production, seems so much a greater danger to life on earth as a result, in my opinion, of the profit motive, which reduces both people, the earth’s crust, and the life that emerged from its outer and thinnest layer, in mostly utilitarian terms, mere fodder for making money, rather than taking into consideration our human impact.

However, it seems to me that climate change invites us to think more deeply about the type of world we inhabit, deeper questions about our relationship to the living world and to each other. Profound questions about how humans provide for themselves have to be asked when we consider the catastrophe that is climate change.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s report Climate Change and Land informs us that “agriculture, forestry and other types of land use account for 23% of human greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time natural land processes absorb carbon dioxide equivalent to almost a third of carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels and industry,” and that “some dietary choices require more land and water, and cause more emissions of heat-trapping gases than others” ( The United Nations informs us that “switching to a plant-based diet can reduce an individual’s annual carbon footprint by up to 2.1 tons with a vegan diet” ((






Animal agriculture takes up a vast amount of land, and of course to monopolize only selected species such as ruminants on them also presupposes that the vast number of life forms that occupied that space before had to be razed away to raise them. For the profiteers, producing such animal-based food is primarily a means to make lots of money. Their concern for your nutrition is secondary. They would not hesitate to move into another industry if it were more profitable, as no doubt they will have to when more and more of us stop eating and drinking animal products and take on predominantly plant-based foods.

Animal husbandry takes up an entire 40% of the Earth’s inhabitable land! (Ritchie and Roser, Land Use, 2019, In fact, animal product consumption by humans is likely the leading cause of modern species extinction (Machovina, Biodiversity conservation, Science of the total environment, 2015, 536:420). And remember, the living world that is leveled out to raise animals for food, including milk, is also land in which grew complex vegetation that could sequester vast amounts of carbon in its soil. That is what soil is, broken down vegetation that absorbed vast amounts of carbon while alive.  So every time a burger is eaten or glass of milk drank, species extinction and climate change follows, hand in hand.  It’s all connected. Nature’s complexity took billions of years to evolve, all wiped out in an historical eyeblink for miles on end to make a quick buck.

I am not writing all this to make my readers feel guilty. That is an emotion more likely to generate a sense of helplessness and hopelessness. We are all in this together, and we are all going to respond to this crisis imperfectly. On a personal level, even with this knowledge, I have often failed to maintain a vegan diet on every day of the year, even though I have succeeded on 95% of my calendar.  While I applaud those who have sustained it for years on end without difficulty,  we all also suffer in varying degrees in our culture with using food for emotional comfort, and we all to a large extent were raised on eating meat, so that we may associate it on some level with fond memories of meals we had as children – that delicious roast and mashed potato dish our grandmothers may have cooked us, for example – thus imbuing such powerful memories with strong feelings of being loved and being happy. We are cognitive creatures, yes, but we also know that we are even more emotional ones, likely to be led this way and that by those emotions more than those rational thoughts.

On the one hand, our personal choices make a difference, but we also know that they are almost insignificantly small compared with the vast social organization and planning that will need to take place to create a sustainable human world.  Knowing that can also generate feelings of frustration, depression, and anger, as we attempt to model behaviors that few others seem to take on. We don’t want to simply render personal choices that elicit virtue signaling.  In today’s world, we already have too much of that.  No, we want a human world that is intrinsically based on sustainability, but also one that meets human needs on a global scale, and is crafted on principles of human freedom while at the same time inevitable constraints.

Let our environmental knowledge arm us as informed citizens, and let us make what changes we may in our personal lives as a result, but let us not sink into apathy because our responses seem far from perfect, and our self-judgment too harsh. This entire rant that I am now having with you is precisely to underlie how complex this problem is, how there are so many parts to it, that even if we were all perfect vegans, or bicycled everywhere as much as we can (which I also recommend), we cannot even then rest on our laurels narcissistically as though we are changing the world significantly, because we are really here talking about a vast planetary system based on economic values of growth and the religion of profit making. We should consider those choices we make as part of creating a new, sustainable, culture, knowing the big solutions are going to require big changes that extend beyond our choices, admirable as those are.  For example, we are going to have to go backward in some measure, if only to rewild vast tracts of land, and usher in sensible and acceptable boundaries to our lives, while at the same time ensuring that everyone has a home, nutrition, safety, toilets and running water, electricity in our homes (probably rationed).  Such a culture may have the potential to generate a sense of community that humans have not known in modern society since they left the tribes, and a global inter-connectivity that may finally overcome war, along with opportunities to create and contribute on a level unimaginable today.  It’s all connected.

Our present culture’s relationship with animals is not only that of what we eat. We have been devastated almost non-stop by some pandemic intimately connected with that relationship. Our recent CoVid19 pandemic, which seems to be chronic in its moving from one viral variant to another, and which we tend to think of as beginning in late 2019, actually first surfaced as a prior SARS illness in 2002 in Foshan, Guangdong province, China, owing to live animals available at markets, much as the more recent SARS virus did (Science, The animal origin of SARS-CoV-2, 2021, 373:6558, pp 968-907, However, human illness on a vast scale resulting from our tampering with the natural world goes back a long time.






A stark example of this is when the East India Company invaded Bengal, India, in the 1760s, and cut down 90% of the mangroves (trees that line coasts and rivers) to build embankments and rice patties. To survive this assault, the bacterium vibrio cholerae which before had been feeding off crustaceans developed by the incredible laws of evolution a long stringy filament that could attach to the human gut. When rainstorms common in India led to those rivers overflowing, humans easily caught this new illness, causing people to vomit, get diarrhea, turn blue, and die within hours, which took on pandemic proportions. Ecological disturbances cause very serious illness, including animal testing (Marburg virus), measles 7,000 years ago from cows, influenza 4,500 years ago from breeding waterfowl, leprosy from water buffalo, the common cold from horses, smallpox 4,000 years ago from gerbils infecting camels, malaria from deforestation, MRSA from factory farms, psittacosis from pets, Nipah virus from deforestation and factory farms, West Nile virus from biodiversity loss, Lyme disease from fragmenting natural habitats, and more recently SARS from the exotic animal trade (all references in this paragraph are from Vettese and Pendergrass, Half-earth socialism, 2022, p37 – this book is a great treasure trove of information; I highly recommend it!).





These are also types of illnesses that come from humans attempting to somehow bio-engineer the natural world. We still see today, in response to climate change, proposals to geo-engineer as solutions, including solar radiation management (SRM) (injecting aerosols and other chemicals into the environment to reflect the sunlight better, with possible serious negative effects), or BECCS (Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage) (storing carbon emissions in underground geological formations) which will require mass drilling of the planet. These are all presented as large-scale engineering “solutions” by today’s ideologues that fail to address the cause. These ideologues from both sides of the political spectrum (even the neoliberal right who believe all we need to do is trust the marketplace, a completely false idea that got us into this mess to begin with) will not be entertaining any considerations that perhaps the profit system be reconsidered, or that humans should imagine new ways of living and producing that take the integrity of the living world as a priority. Such reimagining will need to come from the public, from us.

A recent article in The Conversation informed us in its title alone that the “US military is a bigger polluter than as many as 140 countries – shrinking this war machine is a must” ( That claim alone, if true, also raises serious questions about how much any of our personal choices are going to make without addressing more large-scale, systemic, fundamental, issues.

I guess I just wanted to say “It’s all connected, isn’t it?”: pollution; climate change; deforestation; agriculture; militarism; profit making; the economic and ideological power of a few people; and no doubt many other features of our world. They urge us all to entertain utopian thinking as well as practical considerations to reimagine what a sustainable world would look like, and how important it is for each and every one of us to work toward it.

We in XR Chicago invite you all to seriously consider these deep issues of survival and quality of life, that the topic of sustainability requires. We need educated citizens who can organize and act! Please join us in that vital cause!



In 2019 Critical Mass became an Extinction Rebellion Critical Mass.

We have excellent public transportation in Chicago which reduces our need for cars.  However, when it comes to getting around town, ever considered a simple bicycle?

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has identified bicycling as one solution toward ensuring a sustainable world.

A bicycle leads to cleaner air (no emission of the car’s harmful particles, chemicals, and gases), reduced dependence upon fossil fuels, and less noise.  The average driver of a car emits five metric tons of carbon dioxide a year, so you are improving the living world’s long-term survival by switching to biking.

I recognize that economics may drive (no pun intended) many of us to work too far from home to bike to, which is a built-in economic incentive to pollute.  Because I recognize this, I am not condemning anybody who owns and uses a car, I get it.  However, even as an older person I discovered I had the ability to bike ten miles to work, and ten miles back, five days a week for seven years until I retired.  I did not know I even had the ability to do that at first, and in fact I achieved that minor feat by putting in a few months of parking my car mid-way, then biking to the car, locking up the bike, driving to work by car the rest of the way, then driving back later to the bicycle, until my body was capable of doing the full ten miles.  But this distance is remarkably easy for almost anyone, and probably most of you do trips each day that are far shorter.  Many workplaces let you keep your bike in their building, or in your office.  Even if you don’t want to carry out messy repairs, there are plenty of bike shops out there that will keep your bike in good working order for pennies (okay, maybe under $50) compared to what you were spending each year on your car before (hundreds or thousands).

After years of biking, I eventually just gave up on the car altogether, saving myself expenses on fuel, parking, insurance, repairs.  We have Divvy in our city too, so for about $100 a year you can have a bike anytime you want even if you don’t own one.  For those trips that require public transportation, we have great buses and trains around the city (I do realize such prospects are greatly diminished for those who live in the burbs).  But even then periodically using an Uber or Lyft will still cost you next to nothing compared with car ownership.  Though formally retired, I do work part-time, sometimes needing a real car, in which case apps like Turo let me have one for $70 for the day, but overall even with six such trips a year, I am spending far less than owning a car.

But even more than the expense saved, not owning a car means you are free to explore greener transportation options because you have no choice but to.  It’s kind of like not letting children spend the day on their social media; left to their own devices, they will play with anything, and will relish playing with real friends.  However, if they have that phone in their hand, you know they will prefer that over almost any activity you try to tempt them with verbally.  Same with car ownership.  When you own it, you feel you need to use at every opportunity.  Without one, you are more likely to walk, bike, or use public transportation.  Without one, you are more likely to lose weight, be healthier, feel better.  Simply reducing a dependence on a habit that is playing some part in undermining the living world will make you feel better, and will be, much more than just a feeling, a doable act toward saving our much beleaguered planet.

There was a great critique of cars written by Andre Gorz in 1973 that is still very much relevant today which you can download here:

There are bicycling activist organizations in Chicago such as Bike Grid Now! that is trying to get the city to render at least 10% of its streets bike friendly.

It is true, incidentally, that large corporations and governments pollute much more than individuals put together (the US military alone pollutes more than 140 countries according to this source:   We must obviously continue to support political ideas and legislature that work to protect the living world we are part of.  However, making personal choices that are greener are small ways, yes, but big steps, yes too, to take a stand against a way of life that is intrinsically destructive.  Our choices can help to create a new culture in the spaces of the old that incorporates concern for the web of life of which we are a part, and upon which our culture is leaving an absurdly disproportionate footprint, one toward worsening disaster of proportions we are unsure of, but which is already devastating, leading to mass species extinctions, and possibly ours too.

I only thought at first I would be writing about the Extinction Rebellion Critical Mass that took place five years ago in Chicago, as the video above illustrated.

It is time we have another!




This Thursday, November 16th, at 4:30 PM (although some may arrive as early as 3:30PM) as many of us as possible will take a stand against API, the American Petroleum Institute.  It is having its annual conference Thursday-Sunday, but we all plan to protest on its first day, Thursday, at 4:30 PM.

API is one of 500 members of the Atlas Network, a network of think tanks propagating free market and conservative causes, which typically places them as strong ideological opponents of all movements working to protect the planet.  The American Petroleum Institute is one of its members.  It is paid basically to lie to Americans about climate change, since it represents the economic interests of a few people who will benefit financially from keeping fossil fuels going for as long as possible, while jeopardizing our future.  The API and the wider Atlas Network will tend to oppose environmentalists, painting them in the media as “Nazis” and otherwise opponents of “freedom.”  It is really surreal to imagine these otherwise educated people mulling around their hotel actually believing such clap-trap.

In reality they do not believe in freedoms at all.  They are a shady group of business people willing to sacrifice American rights, expressed poetically in our  Declaration of Independence, as “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” by insisting on continued dependence upon fossil fuels which will cause droughts, water and food supply shortages, floods, toxic smoke from worsening forest fires, and other delightful horrors. This is the freedom that they wish to enjoy while drastically curtailing and abolishing the freedoms of their fellow Americans. Therefore, their idea of freedom is really just a catchword for the freedom of the few to generate profits for whatever time we have left from unsavory means while citizens around the world are desperately trying to secure a green economy.  The freedoms of this small gang are at the expense of whatever freedoms most Americans and planetary citizens will have lost after all the damage they will have wrought our natural world.

We don’t know how many of us will turn up this Thursday, but please take a stand, and tell as many people as you can to turn up.  The members of the API who are coming for their annual conference will probably hear the shouts we will utter outside the Hyatt Regency Hotel as so many annoying flies buzzing outside their window, something relatively easy to tolerate.  They will treat our cries for a livable future as the small price they must bear for leading lives based on greed.  I’m sure many are good Christians who don’t even see a contradiction between the teachings they profess to live by, and the wasteland they are turning our planet into.

However many of us turn up will be standing there to inspire others around Chicago and the country to put survival and the quality of life ahead of the short-term financial interests of a few criminals, as of course they will be seen as as our natural world continues to degrade.  These are people who care nothing about their fellow Americans, or either the people or other living creatures living elsewhere.

The address of the protest will be:


Hyatt Regency Hotel 2233 South Martin Luther King Drive, Chicago , IL 60616 US


We hope that as many of you as possible will turn up just to take a stand, even if you have no signs or banners, to make it clear that a rising tide exists in this country, as it does in others, toward prioritizing our future and that of other species, if we are going to have one at all.  Such a future will depend on transcending fossil fuel.  That may not be the only change required to establish a more sustainable future, but a highly significant one.  We certainly invite you all to study, research, and imagine, ways of living that will bring us into a more harmonious alignment with the natural world of which we are a part. 

However, API, more than almost any other big-business think-tank, will not be working, as it morally should, to transform the fossil fuel industry from an agent of death to one  that will support the energy needs of the future.  Instead, it seems its members’ only stance right now is to let that gas flow to the last drop so its clients can keep getting rich, able to buy exotic mansions and luxury yachts in what beautiful places the world may still offer, while starvation, drought, toxicity, floods, mass immigration, global political instability, ravages around the rest of us (and them too, as there will be no escape).  The API is not made up of people with courage, these are frightened, confused, and cowardly Americans working like good slaves to market their fossil fuel clients and keep them rich for as long as possible before the house of cards falls forever, which they know it sooner or later will.

Click here for more information on the location and time of the API protest

See you all there!

Extinction Rebellion Chicago





trick-or-treat from xr chicago!


In the last Voices post we referenced the Atlas Network, a group representing hundreds of propaganda vehicles that exist to contradict the scientific consensus on human-caused climate change.  One such group is the American Petroleum Institute which has its convention in Chicago from the 13th to 17th of November when we and other environmentalists plan to protest in some fashion or other – dates and actions are still being worked on at this time).  News has emerged with regards to such corporate propagandists that the city of Pittsburgh has hired lobbyists with a vested, economic, interest in lying to the public about the dangers posed by said climate change.

Apparently, while the city has done a great job of divesting its pension funds from climate change-contributing energy companies, the city’s school district has hired lobbyists to possibly trickle a little climate denialism into education (which of course is the perfect recipe for fueling the high school climate change movement in Ohio). Furthermore, the University of Pittsburgh continues to hire two lobbying groups, Allegheny Strategy Partners and Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, who represent the big twenty-one energy companies, to produce its propaganda, even though, ironies of ironies, “new research from the University of Pittsburgh found that children living near shale gas activities in Southwest Pennsylvania had a higher risk of developing lymphoma.” However, even such conservation groups as Western Pennsylvania Conservancy and the Pittsburgh Foundation have hired the same lobbyists, as have such Pittsburgh cultural organizations as Carnegie Institute, the Frick Art & Historical Center, the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, the Pittsburgh Symphony, and the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. You can read more about this here:

Pittsburgh institutions go to bed with the oil industry

Meanwhile, more and more students around the country are asking their universities to divest from fossil fuel companies. Pennsylvania State University, Pomona College, Tufts University, University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania, and Washington University in St. Louis are among those to have added their campaigns to an already expanding list of student-led actions. You may read the complete list here:

Growing list of universities students are asking to divest from fossil fuel

Human-caused climate change is trick-or-treating with the farmers this year by either flooding their pumpkin farms some months, or causing them serious droughts in others, both of which have cut the normal pumpkin supply by half. This may become an increasingly serious problem affecting our food supply as the years advance (p.s., the lobbyists we have mentioned earlier eat too, don’t they?).

Temperatures play treat-or-treat with the pumpkin farmers

The aforementioned hundreds of think-tanks, institutes, and lobbyists paid to lie to the public about the scientific consensus on human-caused climate change, one of which, the American Petroleum Industry, we hope to protest in some capacity in a few weeks in Chicago (sometime during the 13th – 17th, more details to follow) have obviously failed to prevent the media from informing us that this year is, once again, the hottest on record:

Temperatures continue to soar while oil lobbyists swoon singing Killing Them Softly With Our Song

Again, Extinction Rebellion and other environmental groups urge us all to transform our culture in every way we can to establish a more sustainable society.  Everybody on the planet must act now! That is the sticky chocolate we offer you this evening.


Extinction Rebellion Chicago





Chicagoans urged to give petroleum association convention a reception as warm as the climate it's causing

Chicagoans urged to give oily convention a reception as warm as the climate it’s causing


From November 13 to the 17th, the American Petroleum Institute is holding a conference at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place.  According to Wiki, it represents nearly 600 companies involved in the production of petroleum.

It is a climate denial organization, and one that works to block climate legislation because, you know, profits must be made no matter if the planet is going down the tubes.

The recent 2023 Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change urges policy makers to reduce energy reliance upon coal, gas and petroleum, because “continued greenhouse gas emissions will lead to increasing global warming, with the best estimate of reaching 1.5°C in the near term in considered scenarios and modeled pathways. Every increment of global warming will intensify multiple and concurrent hazards (high confidence).”

Latest IPCC report

The American Petroleum Institute exists to promote the interests of the gas and oil industry.  According to its website, it works to ““influence public policy in support of a strong, viable U.S. oil and natural gas industry.”

According to the website which “was founded in January 2006 to clear the PR pollution that is clouding the science and solutions to climate change… quickly becoming the world’s number one source for accurate, fact-based information regarding global warming misinformation campaigns,” (which in plain English means it tries to oppose the findings of the consensus among scientists on climate change), “API has funded organizations that oppose regulations aimed at combating global warming including the Cato Institute and Citizens for a Sound Economy.”  Don’t ask what they tell their children what they do for a living.

In short, API is much like the tobacco industry lying about all it knew about the cancer epidemic it was causing for decades, however you just replace tobacco with climate change – well, the forests are really smoking these days.  The Cato Institute, incidentally, is one of the close to 500 think tanks of the Atlas Network ( which is likely behind every misinformation campaign opposing climate change activists, environmental activists, indigenous activists, and not just opposing them, but also trying to get such activists criminalized.  For more on such anti-democratic campaigns, and more on the Atlas Network, read this:

 How criminalization is being used to silence climate activists across the world

Climate change activists, environmentalists, and citizens in general, are going to need to prepare themselves by familiarizing themselves with these dangerous movements attempting to violate democratic rights to organization and free speech when fighting for the living world, getting to know their topsy-turvy language, their thinking, and their enormous influence on the media and political arena.  Many may not even believe what they write; they are paid professionals working to make the oil industry as attractively dressed up as possible; even when they try to hide its smell, we can’t help but smell the dollars which this is all ultimately about.

They will stop at nothing to oppose the democratic rights of people to stand up for the integrity of living systems, calling them Nazis (these people obviously have great respect for our grandparents or parents who sacrificed themselves to protect the world from fascism), and people opposed to freedom.  Of course, they do stand for freedom, the freedom to make profits at the expense of people and nature, even when such exploitation leads to increasingly violent storms, droughts, forest fires, pollution from fires that threaten respiratory functioning, flooding, mass species extinctions, deforestation.  So remember the freedoms they will be arguing for, and claiming you are opposing, these are so-called freedoms to have their way with impunity with the planet so that a few may live out their lives on luxury yachts.  So do we believe their clap-trap about freedom?  Uh….

So this is what we must remind ourselves of when the American Petroleum Institute gathers November 13-17 in our fair city.  We hope you will all be there in large numbers to give them the welcome they deserve.

Read more about the protest here and don’t forget to sign the petition!

Read more on Opposing The API Conference and Sign The Petition




Students from 50 High Schools Oppose the Censorship of Climate Change in their Curriculum

“We are Prepared to do Whatever it Takes”

“We are Prepared to do Whatever it Takes”


50 High School Students Oppose the Removal of Climate Change from their Curriculum

Last week students from 50 high schools protested the censorship of climate change in their curriculum, which conservatives are deeming a political subject not worthy of academic inclusion, despite the potentially catastrophic future it offers them. These students were proposing a Green New Deal for Schools.


Not all, but more, Republicans believe that climate change is a scam, although of the four recent GOP debate candidates, one sidestepped the issue completely, one accepted that climate change was real but that the United States was not a significant contributor, and one outright stated it was a hoax. However, the question was asked by a young conservative, suggesting that among more and more youth of any persuasion, climate change is viewed as both a significant threat and a major political priority.


There is, in fact, a more than 99% consensus that climate change is human-caused in the peer-reviewed scientific literature.



Many right-wing ideologues have been able to find lone scientists who stand against the consensus. However, in science, it is the consensus that matters. According to the wiki entry on scientific consensus “it is the generally held judgment, position, and opinion of the majority or the super majority of scientists in a particular field of study at any particular time. Consensus is achieved through scholarly communication at conferences, the publication process, replication of reproducible results by others, scholarly debate and peer review.” Therefore, trotting out for political purposes a scientist who does not accept the consensus is meaningless and an insult to the academics in their field.

We live in an era in which not just lone scientists with unconventional views are exploited (by both left-wing and right-wing ideologues), but in which political and cultural figures who are not themselves scientists can utter falsehoods about scientific facts in the media to prop up their political positions, which defies the five core principles of ethical journalism (public accountability, impartiality and fairness, humanity, truthfulness and accuracy, and objectivity).

They and the general population will also in selected cases turn to conclusions that seem in their view to best support their political ideologies, known as the confirmation bias. Such realities are troubling in a world in which anti-vaccine conspiracy thinking can cost millions of lives, and climate change denial billions. These individuals may not necessarily challenge science in general, but will when the topics seem to them more laden with political implications.




Climate change activists and movements are going to have to find other ways than spouting facts alone to effectively convince others of our need for a more sustainable society, such as by focusing on stories that everyone agrees with, and that can wrench others on a deep emotional level, such as how the crises will devastate economics, the richness and stability of nature, the quality of family life including the fate of our children, profound spiritual questions such as humans meddling so destructively with God’s plan (at least, for the religious among us), and confront our city dwellers about the choices they make and their effects, questions that will rile even the most doggedly individualist of Americans.

Which brings us back to the courageous and inspiring choices being made by more and more young people, such as the high school students protesting their curriculum, and the high school and college students who organized and led the recent Chicago climate change protest on September 15th. Using that quote in the title from a 17-year-old in the recent school protest, we are all urged to follow their example and support them, which is also supporting our own demand for a more sustainable future, to do whatever that might take.