Frater Charles Brandt is seriously ill in hospital with pneumonia, so please, remember him in your thoughts and prayers.
A few weeks ago Fr. Charles was honoured to receive the Nature Inspiration 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Canadian Museum of Nature. Charles worked for nearly 30 years in galvanizing a campaign that eventually helped restore the salmon population in Tsolum River. In 2000 it had been declared dead the Canadian Governments Department of Fisheries and Oceans due to toxic mine pollution and poor logging practices.
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“We began to realize that we hadn’t known our country, that we had been duped by its mythology, that we had been infants at the feet of power, that we had actually worked to sustain its deceptions.”
Phil Berrigan, arrested with the Catonsville Nine
photo from the Baltimore Public Library, Catonsville Branch
Philip Berrigan was a man of God who challenged his own religion to practice what it preaches. He served in combat during World War Two and then for 16 years as a Catholic priest, before being married.
From 1968 to 2001 Philip spent 11 of those years in American prisons for his opposition to nuclear weapons and war. He died in 2002.
Cornell University Library Image
The Catonsville Nine praying Our Father and burning draft cards on May 17, 1968. Phil Berrigan is in the center.
These are some of Philip Berrigan thoughts….
For me it is a rule that a man ought to test his life against events. The United States faces a crises of staggering proportions; some call it the worse since the Civil War; others, the most severe in our history. Many sober observers are convinced that we have entered that period of decline reserved for empires that are falling apart.
No one argues about the seriousness of the crises, but most will differ about its character; in any case, our traditional institutions seem impotent before it. Business, for example, rejects both an equitable tax load and a curb on excessive profits; the military not only practices imperial terrorism but also influences high-level decision making in domestic foreign policy; the church, too, is seized with an unholy rage for law and order, while government continues to represent power rather than people.
Under neocapitalism, technology has been distinctly antihumanist, tending to make our institutions at once obsolete and unrepresentative. Burdened with the same kind of determinist and relativist philosophy as the economic and political sectors that control it, technology has thus far served as a tool of power, more to be feared than welcomed. Indeed, our mechanical inventiveness has received, assimilated, and heightened the amorality of the society that patronized it.
Such a perspective appears to shed some light on the crises gripping our society. We see the entirely traditional resolve of vested power to keep it’s crown and scepter –despite the nay-sayers… Or, to put it differently, our foreign involvements and domestic crises imply an attempt by concentrated power to maintain high levels of active and subtle violence while “pacifying” both ideological opponents and victims. And the only novel aspect of this phase of imperial decline is its apparent inevitability in a nation allegedly democratic and unsurpassingly affluent. (page 97-98)
Men still need to learn that excessive wealth, racism, and war mean the impossibility of a human, indeed a viable, society. Peace will remain an illusion until the atrocities of war and exploitation are eliminated. But it is only realism to recognize that their elimination will cost a terrible price in dislocation and suffering. And it will be the weak and the visionary who will suffer the most.
Perversely, men have always valued their poor –valued them enough to insure that they will be numerous. And men have always punished their prophets. This is because the poor and the prophet force others to look at themselves in different mirrors, the former showing men as they are, the latter as they can be. Since both reflections are painful, both are hated, along with those who show them.
When men no longer use their poor to exalt their own egos, when they no longer destroy their prophets, then justice will have come to the poor, and prophecy shall be treasured as power is now. Having banished the ancient call to strife and blood, man can begin to compete in love and service. Then we will begin to live. (page 103)
Excerpts from Prison Journals of a Priest Revolutionary by Philip Berrigan, written in 1968.
What an amazing vision, an amazing hope…
Peace is not only possible.
It is our key.
In this world there is nothing softer or thinner than water.
But to compel the hard and unyielding, it has no equal.
That the weak overcomes the strong,
that the hard gives way to the gentle –
this everyone knows,
yet on one acts accordingly.
This photo from Victoria in British Columbia, looks out onto Juan de Fuca Straight towards USA
Cheers – Bruce
When the first atomic bomb destroyed Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, Father Pedro Arrupe was master of novices in a suburb on the outskirts of the city. A medical student before entering the Jesuits, he responded to the extraordinary events unfolding around him by transforming the novitiate into a hospital and his novices into nurses. He headed one of the first rescue teams into Hiroshima after the devastation. Together they cared for about 200 people suffering from traumatic injuries as well as the mysterious burns and sickness associated with radiation poisoning.
An excerpt from The Essential Writings of Pedro Arrupe:
I was in my room with another priest …when suddenly we saw a flash of magnesium. Naturally we were surprised and jumped up to see what was happening. As I opened the door which faced the city, we heard a formidable explosion similar to the blast of a hurricane. At the same time doors, windows, and walls fell upon us in smithereens…
A shock in time of war, a terrible explosion of extraordinary power, these always leave an impression. For me, at that first moment, it was just one more explosion. What did we know of the atomic bomb? We were ignorant of what that solitary B-29 had carefully laid, at a height of 1700 feet, in the semi-transparent atmosphere, on that cloudy August morning….
Los Alamos replica of the atom bomb code-named “Little Boy” dropped on Hiroshima – bruce witzel photo
The roof tiles, bits of glass, and beams had scarcely ceased falling, and the deafening roar died away, when I rose from the ground and saw before me the wall clock still hanging in its place but motionless. Its pendulum seemed nailed down. It was ten minutes past eight. For me that silent and motionless clock has been a symbol. The explosion of the first atomic bomb has become a para-historical phenomenon. It is not a memory, it is a perpetual experience, outside history, which does not pass with the ticking of the clock. The pendulum stopped and Hiroshima has remained engraved on my mind. It has no relation with time. It belongs to motionless eternity…
I shall never forget my first sight of what was the result of the atomic bomb: a group of young women, eighteen or twenty years old, clinging to one another as they dragged themselves along the road. One had a blister that almost covered her chest; she had burns across half of her face, and a cut in her scalp caused probably by a falling tile, while great quantities of blood coursed freely down here face. On on and they came, a steady procession numbering some 150,000. This gives some idea of the scene of horror.
It is at such times that one feels most a priest, when one knows that in the city there are 50,000 bodies which, unless they are cremated, will cause a terrible plague. There were besides some 120,000 wounded to care for. In light of these facts, a priest cannot remain outside the city just to preserve his life. Of course, when one is told that in the city there is a gas that kills, one must be very determined to ignore that fact and go in. And we did. And we soon began to raise pyramids of bodies and pour fuel on them to set them afire…
We did the only thing that could be done in the presence of such mass slaughter: we fell on our knees and prayed for guidance, as we were destitute of all human help.
Nevada Nuclear Test Site (photo is public domain)
The bomb dropped on Hiroshima was estimated to equal 15 kilotons on TNT. One B83 warhead in todays US nuclear arsenal is 80 times more destructive – equal to 120 kilotons of TNT. Many major nations throughout the world continue to spend Billions, even Trillions, annually “upgrading” crazy weapons of war.
Currently at least 1 Billion people throughout the globe (more during the pandemic) don’t have access to running water and suffer from chronic hunger. In my view, this doesn’t jive for the earth to survive. Where do you stand on this issue?
Father Pedro Arrupe later became the Superior of the Jesuits and is a dearly remembered advocate for nuclear disarmament and impoverished people everywhere.
Peace ~ Bruce
Living Memorial Sculpture Garden, Weed California created by war veteran Dennis Smith (photo by Bruce Witzel)
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A monk said to Joshu: “What is the way?” Joshu replied: “Outside the fence.”
The monk insisted: “I mean the Great Way? What is the Great Way?” Joshu replied: “The Great Way is that which leads to the Capital.”
The Great Way is right in the middle of this story, and I should remember it when I get excited about war and peace. I sometimes think I have an urgent duty to make all kind of protest and clarification –but above all, the important thing is to be on the Great Way and stay on it, whether one speaks or not.
It is not necessary to run all over the countryside shouting “peace, peace!” But it is essential to stay on the Great Way which leads to the Capital, for only on the Great Way is there peace. If no one follows the way, there will be no peace in the world, no matter how much men preach on it.
It is easy to know that that “there is a way somewhere,” and even perhaps to know that others are not on it (by analogy with one’s own lostness, wandering far from the way). But this knowledge is useless unless it helps one find the way.
from Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander – Thomas Merton
The following excellent article is by Charles F. Kutcher of the Renewable Energy Institute, University of Colorado Boulder. It was originally in The Conversation and is republished with permission of Creative Commons.
Artist rendition of the National Western Center, a net-zero campus under construction in Denver to house multiple activities. City and County of Denver | Mayor’s Office of the National Western Center, CC BY-ND Charles F. Kutscher, University of Colorado Boulder
Although the coronavirus pandemic has dominated recent headlines, climate change hasn’t gone away. Many experts are calling for a “green” economic recovery that directs investments into low-carbon energy sources and technologies.
Buildings account for 40% of total energy consumption in the U.S., compared to 32% for industry and 28% for transportation. States and cities with ambitious climate action plans are working to reduce emissions from the building sector to zero. This means maximizing energy efficiency to reduce building energy use, and then supplying the remaining energy needs with electricity generated by carbon-free sources.
My colleagues and I study the best ways to rapidly reduce carbon emissions from the building sector. In recent years, construction designs have advanced dramatically. Net zero energy buildings, which produce the energy they need on site from renewable sources, increasingly are the default choice. But to speed the transition to zero carbon emissions, I believe the United States must think bigger and focus on designing or redeveloping entire communities that are zero energy.
Tackling energy use in buildings at the district level provides economies of scale. Architects can deploy large heat pumps and other equipment to serve multiple buildings on a staggered schedule across the day. Districts that bring homes, places of work, restaurants, recreation centers and other services together in walkable communities also significantly reduce the energy needed for transportation. In my view, this growing movement will play an increasingly important role in helping the U.S. and the world address the climate crisis.
Heating and cooling are the biggest energy uses in buildings. District design strategies can address these loads more efficiently.
District heating has long been used in Europe, as well as on some U.S. college and other campuses. These systems typically have a central plant that burns natural gas to heat water, which then is circulated to the various buildings.
To achieve zero carbon emissions, the latest strategy uses a design known as an ambient temperature loop that simultaneously and efficiently both heats and cools different buildings. This concept was first developed for the Whistler Olympic Village in British Columbia.
In a typical ambient loop system, a pump circulates water through an uninsulated pipe network buried below the frost line. At this depth, the soil temperature is near that of the yearly average air temperature for that location. As water moves through the pipe, it warms or cools toward this temperature.
Heat pumps at individual buildings or other points along the ambient loop add or extract heat from the loop. They can also move heat between deep geothermal wells and the circulating water.
The loop also circulates through a central plant that keeps it in an optimum temperature range for maximum heat pump performance. The plant can use cooling towers or wastewater to remove heat. It can add heat via renewable sources, such as solar thermal collectors, renewable fuel or heat pumps powered by renewable electricity.
Integral Group, CC BY-ND
One example of a potentially zero-energy district currently being developed, the National Western Center, is a multi-use campus currently under construction in Denver to house the annual National Western Stock Show and other public events focused on food and agriculture.
A 6-foot-diameter pipe carrying the city’s wastewater runs underground through the property before delivering the water to a treatment plant. The water temperature stays within a narrow range of 61 to 77 degrees F throughout the year.
The wastewater pipe and a heat exchanger transfer heat to and from an ambient loop circulating water throughout the district. The system provides heat in winter and absorbs heat in the summer via heat recovery chillers, which are heat pumps that can simultaneously provide heating and cooling. This strategy serves individual buildings at very high efficiency.
Electricity used to operate the heat pumps, lighting and other equipment will come from on-site photovoltaics and wind- and solar-generated electricity imported from off-site.
Another district that will minimize carbon emissions is the Whisper Valley Community, under construction in Austin, Texas. This 2,000-acre multi-use development includes 7,500 all-electric houses, 2 million square feet of commercial space, two schools, and a 600-acre park. Its design has already received a green building award.
Whisper Valley will run on an integrated energy system that includes an extensive ambient loop network heated and cooled by heat pumps and geothermal wells located at each house. Each homeowner has the option to include a 5-kilowatt rooftop solar photovoltaic array to operate the heat pump and energy-efficient appliances, including heat pump water heaters and inductive stovetops. According to the developer, Whisper Valley’s economy of scale allows for a median sale price US$50,000 below that of typical Austin houses.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and other project partners are developing an open source software development kit called URBANopt that models elements of zero energy districts, such as building efficiency/demand flexibility strategies, rooftop photovoltaic arrays, ambient loop district thermal systems. The software can be integrated into other computer models to aid in the design of zero energy communities. NREL engineers have been engaging with high-performance district projects across the country, such as the National Western Center, to help inform and guide the development of the URBANopt platform.
The projects I’ve described are new construction. It’s harder to achieve net zero energy in existing buildings or communities economically, but there are ways to do it. It makes sense to apply those efficiency measures that are the most cost-effective to retrofit, convert building heating and cooling systems to electricity and provide the electricity with solar photovoltaics.
Utilities are increasingly offering time-of-use rate schedules, which charge more for power use during high demand periods. Emerging home energy management systems will allow home owners to heat water, charge home batteries and electric vehicles and run other appliances at times when electricity prices are lowest. Whether we’re talking about new or existing buildings, I see sustainable zero energy communities powered by renewable energy as the wave of the future as we tackle the climate change crisis.
Cheers ~ Bruce
“I offer you peace. I offer you love. I offer you friendship. I see your beauty. I hear your need. I feel your feelings. My wisdom flows from the Highest Source. I salute that Source in you. Let us work together for unity and love.”
Charcoal drawing from the Ottawa Art Gallery – artist unknown
Peace, love and unity
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1) REMEMBER OUR VOWS
2) PRACTICE PATIENCE
3) REFRAIN FROM OUTRAGEOUS BEHAVIOUR
1) SUSTAINABILITY - For at least seven generations
2) GRASSROOTS DEMOCRACY
3) SOCIAL JUSTICE & RESPONSIBILITY - personal & global
4) NON VIOLENCE - a call to arms is the last choice
5) DIVERSITY - biological, cultural & spiritual
6) POST PATRIARCHAL CONSCIOUSNESS
7) SEXUAL & RACIAL EQUALITY
8) DECENTRALIZATION - of energy, politics & wealth.
9) ECOLOGICAL WISDOM